Saturday, September 30, 2006

On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place

Don Quixote isn't really all wrinkly; that is just the bad lighting.

Actually, I guess he was wrinkly, but not in my living room. Tilting at windmills takes it out of a person.

That speaker is over thirty years old. All the fuzzy foam-front rotted off years ago. It originally belonged to my brother, but when he moved out, he built an entirely new system and he left this speaker, and its identical twin, behind for our parents.

Our parents' idea of a good stereo was anything with detachable speakers. The detachable speakers were even better if they were not detached.

I ended up with both unwanted speakers, and I still use them. In fact, my stereo system has four large speakers, contained in two rooms. Downstairs, Hub has speakers that are the same size as an average person.

This used to be really cool, until Bose started making little tiny speakers with twice the sound of the big ones. Back in the day, the bigger the speakers, the better the system. Now, the opposite seems to be true.

This works for cell phones, too. Mom's first cell phone was the same size as her landline phone. Now, I've seen cell phones the size of matchbooks. This would not work for me. I would lose something the size of a matchbox. Also, I would not be able to take it seriously; it would always seem like a toy. My cell phone isn't huge, but when I hold it in my hand, you can see both ends of it beyond my hand. When I absentmindedly lay it down somewhere and then look frantically for it, I do not mistake it for a matchbook.

I used to have a smaller cell phone, but I loaned it to so many people, it became tainted. Over half the calls that came in were not for me. This became worse than inconvenient, so I ditched the contract and bought a Tracfone. I will never go back to a contract; this pre-paid stuff is perfect for me. I know some people have had trouble with Tracfone, but I never have.

I am Tangent Woman; hear me change the subject on myself 'til I forget why I'm here.

Oh yes. Ancient speakers with no more foam.

They still work, and they work extremely well. They are, as electronics go, antique.

One of my dead boyfriends had speakers that nearly touched the ceiling. I think most of our group suffered hearing loss from sitting in Mike's dorm room with the volume cranked up to eleven.

Most of the time, having really old electronics isn't something one would brag about, or even let be known. Old electronics aren't really antiques; they are useless embarrassments. There really should be a scary man with a wooden barrow, walking around neighborhoods calling "Bring out yer dead!" and filling the barrrow with old computers and keyboards and tv's and cell phones and speakers and turntables, etc.

Kind of like this:

The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead. [a man puts a body on the cart]
Large Man with Dead Body: Here's one.
The Dead Collector: That'll be ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
The Dead Collector: What?
Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There's your ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
The Dead Collector: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.
Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not.
The Dead Collector: He isn't.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm getting better.
Large Man with Dead Body: No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment.
The Dead Collector: Well, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I don't want to go on the cart.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, don't be such a baby.
The Dead Collector: I can't take him.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I feel fine.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, do me a favor.
The Dead Collector: I can't.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
The Dead Collector: I promised I'd be at the Robinsons'. They've lost nine today.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, when's your next round?
The Dead Collector: Thursday.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I think I'll go for a walk.
Large Man with Dead Body: You're not fooling anyone, you know. Isn't there anything you could do?
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I feel happy. I feel happy. [the Dead Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the Body with his a whack of his club]
Large Man with Dead Body: Ah, thank you very much.
The Dead Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Large Man with Dead Body: Right.

You will just have to jog your memory for a visual, because once again, Blogger won't let me post the really cool Monty Python picture I have. What's with this "no picture" thing, Blogger? Nine out of ten times, I can't post a picture. And this was a MONTY PYTHON picture, for pete's sake.

I think maybe I've tilted at too many windmills lately. I tried to post a picture of my glucometer but Blogger doesn't like that one, either. Maybe it was large number on it.


That, and last night's sleeping pills (which I took out of desperation) have made me dangerously disoriented today.

Uh, that's desperation in that I simply HAD to get some sleep, not the other kind of desperation that drives people to take pills for more sinister reasons.

I'm sleep-deprived, not crazy.

They weren't really 'sleeping pills,' either; they were muscle relaxants. I'm not going to say that I am stressed to the very edges of the firly brinkmire, but my doctor once told me that even if I didn't have any bones I could still stand up and walk.

I saw a cartoon once wherein Raggedy Ann was up and walking about, and it wasn't pretty.

Sleep-deprived. Yes.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:25 PM | |

Friday, September 29, 2006

Lately, I Feel The Funk Coming Over Me

All I've done lately is whine. I should be ashamed of myself. I deserve to be spanked.

Any volunteers?

Okay, okay, I'm leaving.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:19 PM | |

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hello, Is It Me You're Looking For?

I got another one tonight.  A phone call from the Alumni Association.  Don't calls like this fall into the "Do Not Call" category?  Apparently not. 
Hark, they need money.  I'm so surprised.
"Hi, my name is Muffy McFreshman, and I'm calling from YOUR ALUMNI ASSOCIATION!  How are you this evening?  I wonder if this rain will ever stop, don't you?  Golly, the golf course was nearly deserted this afternoon!  Now, we know you're been out there for a while,  making a lot of money, thanks to the degree this university gave you all those years ago, and don't you think it's time to give some of it back?  I'd love to take your contribution tonight!  Don't you think $1,000 would be a nice beginning?  You can always raise that amount, if you like!  That's a lovely beginning, don't you think?"
I do, Muffy, I honestly do.  When may I expect your check?  My mortgage is due in a few days. 
Oh wait, were you asking ME to send YOU that amount?  I'm sorry, I couldn't raise that amount if you gave me a year in which to try.
My parents sent four kids to this university, and three of us have graduate degrees.  One of us has a doctorate.  I sent my daughter to this university, and now she's putting herself through graduate school.  My son would like to go, but we can't afford it, so he's biding his time getting a degree from my small college till he can transfer the credits and go to the big one. 
I think this university has enough of this family's money. 
Also, your Alumni Magazine is boring.  I read it when it comes, because I read everything that crosses my path, but really, you're hurting your cause by printing all those articles about rich alumni, golf, and foreign exchange students who fall in love with America and intend to stay here forever.  I mean, all that is nice, but it doesn't really have anything to do with me.  I can't relate to people who have enough money to cover their bills, let alone live in luxury.
Now, if you had articles about how to pay your bills when even a graduate degree isn't bringing in enough money to cover the mortgage, that would be helpful. 
It might also be easier to believe the Alumni Association needs money if I hadn't seen that huge, gorgeous brand-new building they're just built for themselves.  That thing is enormous, and it really is beautiful.  Those windows!  All that stone!  You should be really proud of that building.
And you can buy your own darn carpet and wall art for the inside.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:56 PM | |

Quip Pro Quo: A Fast Retort

I firmly believe that any memo, letter, or piece of written information that is sent by an administrator, should contain no idiocy or errors.

I also believe that any memo, letter, or piece of written information that is sent by an administrator that DOES contain idiocy or errors should be posted publicly and that the general public should be allowed to mock it.

I suppose that my belief that administrators should be required to be intelligent and able to proofread would be thrown out by the PC police.

This is the letter a principal gave me several years ago, demanding requesting that I take down my bulletin board about Banned Books Week. I had used that same bulletin board for over ten years, and in those earlier years, he had actually praised it for being timely and creative. That was, of course, before he saw Waldo on there.

This is, of course, the same school system that didn't want me to bring in speakers from the outside to talk about careers because it might give the students 'ideas.' These people would have volunteered their time, and it would have been of enormous benefit to the students, but no. Ideas are scary.

A few years later, the same man who denied permission for me to bring in speakers for free, spent nearly a million dollars of taxpayer money to take all the middle school students to town and have paid speakers talk to them about the same thing I could have done for free. By this time, you see, the Trend Wheel had spun back around, and it was now permissable to give the students 'ideas.'

One of those speakers represented General Motors, and her speech was excellent, although it didn't sit well with administration. She spoke about high school 'graduates' for whom a diploma was nothing but a piece of paper that connoted untruths. She spoke about how an employer should have the right to assume that a diploma pretty much guaranteed literacy and general competence. She spoke about all the money big corporations were having to shell into remedial programs for employees who had diplomas, pieces of paper that represented four years of showing up and not much else. She spoke about how businesses would really appreciate a diploma that told the truth: that if a student had been graduated out of respect for really trying, the diploma should say so, discretely of course, but in terms that the business world would be able to interpret. If the student was just going through the motions of graduation for self-esteem's sake, the diploma should say so. And if the diploma was rightfully earned because the student had become fully literate and generally competent and had genuinely and individually and truthfully learned how to care for himself/herself in the world in general, the business world should be able to see that kind of diploma and interpret it for what it was: a real diploma.

Oohh, the remarks that were scattered throughout the auditorium. And when we returned to the individual buildings, there was much talk of blueberries and self-esteem.

My friends are mostly lawyers and businesspeople and other educators. Before the edict went out, I often had one of them come to my classroom and talk about what they did all day, and then the students would ask questions. Silly me, I really thought it was helplful.

Sure, they asked my lawyer friends about their individual rights and stuff, but. . . . .

Oh. I get it.

We certainly can't have our students understanding their basic civil rights and those of their fellow citizens of any age, now can we.

What a narrow escape.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:19 PM | |

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thunderbolt and Lightning, Very Very Frightening

The newest Carnival of Education is up; get on over to the Education Wonks and find out what's happening in our schools these days. Remember, you've got no right to whine, and you've got no credence if you whine anyway, if you don't know what's really going on. If intelligent and decent people don't stand up and take charge of our schools, it's only going to get worse.

I got home from school around five thirty today. It had been sunny all day, after a week of pouring rain, and I was hoping to get some grass cut.

It was still sunny when I put gas in the mower, but by the time I backed it out of the garage, it was dark and threatening. I mowed anyway, watching the sky all the time for lightning. I did get the immediate front and back mowed, but then it started raining and I had to quit.

I spilled gasoline all over my legs when I filled the mower, and even after a shower, I can still smell it. I'd be upset, but gasoline is probably more expensive than any cologne I own, so what the heck.

Wednesday night is my favorite time of all, this semester. Why? Because I can stay up late and sleep in; tomorrow is my day off. I wonder who the early-morning phone call/doorbell ringer will be THIS time? Old people trying to dial the church? A creditor? Someone looking for one of my kids who grew up and moved out several years ago? A receptionist confirming an appointment? The Schwan's guy, taking a chance? Some passing stranger who wants to buy a big tree? (that one is a post in and of itself.) The homeschooled kids footloose and fancy-free kids down the road who never seem to have anything to do in the house during the day, selling Christmas paper and eight cents worth of almond delight in a nickel tin for fifteen dollars? (I am NOT knocking homeschooling; I am, however, knocking this particular family.) (I LIKE homeschooling; I just don't like the way everyone does it.) (It's none of my business anyway, right?) (I also hate the almonds and I never buy them but the kids keep coming back and ringing my doorbell before eight in the morning.) My point is, some people get up way too early and why do they always find me? And why does the Feckless Family down the road let their kids wander like that during the pre-dawn hours? Oh yes, I remember. It's because both parents work during the day and the kids are supposed to teach themselves. Not typical, I know, but maybe it will help you understand my attitude towards the whole thing. I am mainly sorry for the oldest girl; she tries to corral the others but they're like wild animals. I bet that girl gets punished if the others don't mind her and the parents find out. Poor thing. You know, sometimes running away might not be such a bad idea. It's neither right nor fair to make one child take charge of all the others on a regular basis. That is the parents' job. And if neither parent is home all day, then neither should the children be home.

I might take another shower in a few minutes. You probably know why.

I guess I could take the phone off the hook and undo the doorbell, but the fact is, I have kids and I have a mother and I have friends and if someone really needs me, I'm theirs, no matter what time it is. That goes for all of you, too. If I sound grumpy at first, just wait a few minutes and when it sinks in that it's really YOU, I'll be happier than a stray mosquito in a blood bank.

To quote Colonel Potter.

I gave a test today, and all but one of the students finished in under two hours.

That one student needed a little over three hours. So, I gave her three hours; what's the big deal, anyway? I wasn't going anywhere but home to cut grass while the sun shone. She was more important than my grass, after all.

And, I cut some of it anyway. The house and yard look as though they were plunked down in the middle of a hayfield, but so what.

The Feckless Family's knees won't get slapped by the tall dewy pre-dawn grass when they walk from the driveway to the door to ring my doorbell at dawn.

I put a 'Do not disturb' sign on the doorknob once but they stole it.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:10 PM | |

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Appalling Stuff

My three-hour classes are usually interspersed with short quizzes, some bookwork, some discussion, some lectures, and the occasional lengthy test. Some days we have more of one thing than of another, and some days one of those will dominate. Today was a mix. You know, like a good music mix. (Get over to Patriside's and sign up, by the way.)

I love mixes. A good mix gives me hours of pleasure. Mixes made by someone else are awesome, too. I have discovered some fantastic music that's now among my personal favorites on someone else's mix. I might not become a fan of every song, but there is always something. I've loved every mix I've ever gotten from Jim's MixMania.

A class is like that, too. I didn't make the mix myself, so there will always be some components that I like more than others; still, the whole is enjoyable.

Most of the mix was good. I like my classes and I can't help but love my students. They try so hard, and they are willing to put themselves out on a limb when they don't know something; in other words, they guess a lot. But really, what's wrong with that? Isn't guessing better than giving up right away?

To quote Frank Scully: "Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?"

I don't mind guessing. I encourage it. Good guessers put things together. Good guessers try to 'connect.' Good guessers associate something that is unfamiliar with something they know about. Sometimes the connections are ludicrous, but it can't be denied that a connection or association was made, even when it's not the one I was looking for. Who's to say that the student's association isn't as good as mine?

Well, sometimes it's just. . . bizarre.

Yesterday, it was the Pentagon and the Eiffel Tower. Today it was Lady Godiva.

Not the chocolates. The naked woman on the horse. (Blogger asks that you try to imagine this, as it refuses to post an actual picture AGAIN.)

Not one student in the class had ever heard of Lady Godiva, but when they heard the story they were interested. What college student wouldn't be interested in public nudity? However, when it came time to talk about idioms and make an association, the mix turned sour. After the quizzes were turned in, and the students were on their short break, I read over their answers and all the hair on the back of my neck stood straight out.

It was so awful, in fact, that I couldn't take it alone. Not many people were online at that time but one of my friends thankfully was. I IM'd him some of the answers. He was supportingly appalled.

I can't remember now exactly how the question was phrased, but I'll make a stab at it.

"A man named Tom defied the request to stay behind closed doors, and peeped at Lady Godiva as she rode through town. Tom was instantly blinded for peeping. Tom's action gave us an idiom that is still used today. What do we now call a person, like Tom, who peeps through windows, uninvited?"

Answers: Tom-catting; The Peeper, Stalker, Snooping Susie, "that guy from the Sandler flick who fell out of the tree and went to hell," and Dode Mockey.

By this time, I was feeling faint, so I looked online again and found someone else to tell.

I felt better, knowing that two other people were appalled. I hate to be appalled alone.

And now you're appalled, too.

After class, I ran to the restroom (hey, two giant Diet Cokes in three hours!) and when I looked in the mirror I was appalled again. I mean, besides the usual reason. The butterfly in the middle of my bra was shining through my peach shirt. Think of Clark Kent with the Superman insignia on his chest as he rips off his disguise. (Blogger asks that you try to picture this, also, as it's still refusing to post a picture.)

I ran back to the classroom to gather my stuff. It was then that I noticed that I was wearing one black and one navy stocking.

The really bad part is that two weeks ago I did the same thing. Apparently, I have two identical pairs of stockings, both mismatched. If only there were some way to alleviate this problem. . . . .

I'm not going to tell you about my car keys that have been missing for over two months, or the car charger for my cell phone that walked away and hid. You might think I'm pre-Alzheimer's or something.

What were we talking about? Oh yes. That guy from the Sandler film who fell out of the tree and went to Hell.

Darn it, now I'm craving fresh pineapple.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:09 PM | |

Monday, September 25, 2006

No Chocolate For Me, Thank You.

Before you do anything else today, get over to Patriside's blog and sign up for MixMania. Git!

Yesterday, my kids came down to visit. One of them let the cat into the house. Everyone fawned all over him for hours, because that is what is properly done with one's cat. Then my kids went back to their respective homes, and I went to bed.

I got up this morning around five thirty, and left the house at six-fifteen IN THE MORNING. (it's agony.)

By the time I got home tonight, it was close to six thirty. I heard the cat crying for attention. I followed the meows to the guest room's closed door. I opened the door. I found the cat. He had been in the guest room all night and most of today.

I also found the little not-such-a-surprise he left, to perhaps remind us to check the guest room before retiring for the night and leaving for school the next morning.

Oh, don't worry; I cleaned it up. The smell is nearly gone. By the time any of you get here, there won't be a trace of any kind.

I will have to say, though, that when I first got home tonight I wanted some chocolate desperately, but the moment has passed. I can't imagine why.

It also boggles my mind that a grown man can sit in his chair in the living room reading for hours and not hear a desperate cat's cries.

UPDATE: My apologies to Hub, as the cat was napping all day and didn't make any noise 'til I came home.

Ah, well, at least it took my mind off my student who told the class today that he had never heard of the Pentagon before September 11.

"I thought it was something at King's Island."

To which another student replied, "No, man, that's the Eiffel Tower."

And a young lady then said, "I've been up in that. It always looks so much bigger in movies."

And the first student said, "Nah, that's just special effects. But I bet the park loses money whenever they film there."

See? A little pile of cat poop isn't all that bad.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:40 PM | |

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I Love Dirty Books.

It's Banned Books Week, so get out there and start reading all the forbidden books.

People who fear knowledge are scary.

Get your list of forbidden books right HERE.

I became interested in forbidden books when I was in high school, and our teachers distributed the Catholic Church's annual list of books which we were NOT to read under any circumstances. After the last bell rang, we ran like crazed, stampeding mustangs to the public library; the waiting lists for some titles were really, really long. The fact that it was forbidden was the only reason I read "The Catcher in the Rye." (I was disappointed; after all that frenzy, I was hoping for, um, more.)

Then, in graduate school, I was privileged to meet the fantastic Dr. Edward B. Jenkinson, author of many books, and one of the leading opponents of censorship in the nation. His course in Young Adult Literature was the best I'd ever taken. He was fascinating, and intelligent, and he genuinely knew his subject from A to Z. I learned more from him than from any other course I've ever had, before and after. He showed me how to read a book and foretell how the censorship people would interpret it. He was right, every time. I can still do this, too; it's easy.

He would show us pages from textbooks, and ask us what a censorship committee would do with it. For example, he showed us a page of a sweet little poem about playing in a brook, illustrated by a picture of a little girl with two braids, wearing overalls, barefoot, swishing a stick in the water.

"This would be censored," he told us. "Can you tell me why?"

Here's why. Little girls don't wear boy's clothes, and they don't go around barefooted.

He showed us a picture from an elementary spelling book. The words were divided into categories: for example, one page would have sports words, another page would have animal words, etc. Each page was illustrated by a charming wreath of little children, doing/showing/etc examples of the theme of that page's words. He showed us the page of holiday words. It was illustrated by a wreath of little children in holiday mode: eating turkey, hanging stockings, watching fireworks, spinning dreidels, etc. But the reason the page would be censored, ie removed, was because it also showed little children dressed up for Halloween. Seeing that would mean certain damnation for a child, you know.

Did you know that some schools do not allow dictionaries because of 'those' words? Did you know that "Waldo" books are banned in some schools because in that one beach scene, there are breasts? (I could NEVER find Waldo. I am not good at picture puzzles.) (But I would never forbid YOU from looking for him.)

Dr. Jenkinson is a genius. I adored him, and I adore him.

He retired several years ago, and he certainly deserves the rest.

I raise my glass to you, Dr. Jenkinson. You are my mentor, my professional idol, and a darn good friend. You helped me more than any teacher I've ever had in my life.

Let us all go out and read a dirty book in his honor. Why? Because we still can.

Defy the censors. Defy those who would limit our knowledge and our enjoyment of the world of literature. Defy those who would force us all to conform to a narrow point of view. Get out there and read something on the forbidden list.

Do it because it's the right thing to do.


Every year I used to put up a big Banned Books bulletin board. One year, the principal (who was a moron) actually looked at it and saw. . . . Waldo's beach. The next day I got a memo from him, demanding that the bulletin board be taken down. He told me that middle school students were not smart enough to understand. There was someone not smart enough to understand, but it wasn't any of the students. I tried to post the letter here but Blogger won't let me. I even "censored" it by marking out the principal's name. Heh.

Now, get out there and read. Mark Twain and Anne Frank will be proud of you.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:08 PM | |

Rain, Rain, Go Away. You Make Me All Hissy Now.

It's been pouring, pouring, pouring down rain for days now, the kind of rain that no umbrella or raincoat can shield you from.  This is a truly soaking rain: a misty-yet-relentless downpour.  It's as if the sky had cracked open and all the waters of the heavens were falling down on us.  Last night there was thunder and lightning, but today, it's just rain.  And more rain.  The cat, who usually enjoys sleeping under the swing during the rain, was up on his back feet, beating on the French doors with both paws to be let in.  Poor Charley Gordon.  I fed him in the kitchen today, even though I know it means sweeping up Cheapo-Chunks from all over the house later today..
I can remember when such a rain was cause for breaking out and experiencing, um, things.  I loved running bare. . .foot through wet grass, and feeling the water dripping down my . . .face.  
Now, I'm just annoyed by such rain.  I hate being all dressed for work and having to maneuver briefcases and books through the rain to the car and from the car to the school.  I ESPECIALLY hate when the car is behind the house in the grass, because we unloaded groceries or whatever on the deck the night before, and I have to walk through wet grass.  I hate wearing wet shoes.
Item:  When I unload groceries in the back of the house, I move the car to the driveway afterwards so I don't have to walk throught he dewy grass in the morning.  Dewy grass is wet grass, too, and I don't like that any more, either.  I think everyone should park the car where it belongs, don't you?
I'm also upset because when it's raining, I can't cut the grass.  I hate it when the grass-tips slap the backs of my knees.  I hate it even more when the grass-tips are wet.
I think it's time to move the riding mower to the other side of the garage, so I can park the car inside at night.  I'll do just that, as soon as the rain stops.
I get whiny when it rains now.  Can you tell?  It's a phase.
The next phase:  I start predicting rain with my knees.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:55 PM | |

Friday, September 22, 2006

Roadwork and Housework and Peter Pan

I know, I know. I've used this cartoon twice already and this makes three times.

But this is what my commute has looked like for so long, I can't remember what it was like before.

Southern Indiana is famous for its roadwork-in-progress, but by the time one project is finished, it's time to begin all over again on the other side.

It's kind of like trying to keep a house full of children, tidy. You're walking along, leaving a trail of tidy behind you, and they're right behind you, leaving a trail of clutter. After a while it's as though you and your family were performing the circle of redskins/pirates/lost boys chapter from Peter Pan.

I love it when my house is tidy. I loathe clutter, and sometimes I feel buried in it. Everyone but me, in this house, is a clutter-monger.

Let me put that another way. MY clutter is important. THEIR clutter is just piles of 'stuff.'

My mother, raising four kids in a teeny-tiny little house, used to say that one of her dreams was to have an empty room in her house, just an empty room, so she could just go into it and shut the door and see floor and wall space, uncluttered. I used to think that was nuts. I don't any more.

This is my day off. I should be de-cluttering instead of sitting here blogging. Maybe that's what I'll do in a few minutes. Maybe. In a few minutes. Yes, that's what I'll probably do in a few minutes.

Would anyone care to buy some prime Everglades real estate?

Ah, well. I gave up trying to beat the clutter years ago. Once in a while I whirl through the house like the proverbial White Tornado (see how old I am?) and when I'm finished, the house is safe for company. Hey, isn't it coming on holiday time?

Holiday Time? It IS!!!

Okay, where did I lean that mop last winter?

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

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem

It's 'Share the Student Email' time again.
Dear profesector,

i honest do kwow ur name its just that other stuff is taking up the room on myh tongetip today. im in ur am class, either 8 or 930, one of thm, and i did not cum in class this or last week for i am cumin down with a th ing. please put all the makeup in ur mailbx and i will send one of my peoples over to get it. it wont be all that early when they cum. i will honest try to cum in ur class next week.

There's something I would like to say here, but I wouldn't touch the line with a ten- foot pole. However, I am not the boss of you, so be my guest.

Maybe I'm more stimulating than I thought?

Whoops. I guess I touched it with a nine-foot pole.

FLASH: Got any suspicious neighbors or co-workers you'd like to check up on? You can dig up the dirt on anyone! Here's how to do it. Click here.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:20 PM | |

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Leaping Murderers and Priorities

I've started plowing through my stacks of student essays about September 11, and I'm kind of upset, and I'm not sure why.
It's not just because I'm reading about crying and trauma and fright, although that is a goodly part of it.
I think it's partly because my morning classes are held on the main campus, and those classes are made up of younger students.  These students were in the 8th and 9th grades on September 11, 2001, and in Indiana schools, in September, the students in those grades have to take the ISTEP test.
Most of them were, apparently, in the middle of the test when the news broke about the towers.  Even those students whose schools let them know what had happened were required to keep on taking the test.
I am reading about fear of terrorism and fear of test failure.  I am reading about young teenagers who were so worried about their test scores that they had no emotion left for strangers in a burning tower, and who are to this day feeling tremendous guilt that it was so.  I am reading about teachers who told these students to "not think about something so far away, and just concentrate on your test."  I am reading about principals who announced to the students that it was "all just a rumor, not true at all" while stage-whispering to teachers that "maybe THAT will calm them down enough to score big this year."  I am reading about principals who put the news on the speaker system and required the students to listen to it while taking the test.  So far, I have not come across a single paper that is telling me that a school postponed ISTEP at all; so far, all the students are telling me that the test went on as scheduled in spite of all the chaos in the very atmosphere of these buildings.  I can't read but a few at a time; my nerves are already shot.
I haven't started reading any essays written by my older students at the regional campus yet.  Most of these people were at work when the planes hit the towers, so their circumstances will be very different from the circumstances of these younger students.
Somehow, though, I can't imagine a workplace boss reacting as some of these principals did.  I'm sure some of them were just as immovable and unfeeling and inflexible, but I'm betting most places of business took a little time to truly watch and listen, and to allow their employees and customers to set aside business 'as usual' and pay proper attention to what was happening in our own country.
Knowing is always better than not knowing.  Alfred Hitchcock had it down to a fine art:  it's all about the suspense.  It's not the murderer finally leaping out from behind the curtains * that is the most frightening; it's all those long drawn-out minutes of knowing he's in the house and not being able to pinpoint exactly where he is, and then. . . . you see the tips of his shoes showing, under the drapes.  The leaping out is almost anti-climactic.  Almost.
*Although a leaping murderer is pretty frightening. . . . .
I think that a person in authority who considers a standardized test to be more important than a child's peace of mind, nervous system, value system, and dignity, has no business holding a position of authority over others.  That those others are children has nothing to do with it.
That didn't come out quite right.
That those others are children makes it even WORSE.
I guess I do know why I'm kind of upset, after all.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:32 PM | |

Monday, September 18, 2006

Humbled, Again.

Rain, rain, all day. The kind of misty-yet-HEAVY rain that nothing yet invented can keep you from getting soaked to the skin by. (How's that for a sentence?) (Yeah, well, I'm off duty now.)

I always keep an umbrella in my car but I really don't know why, because I loathe umbrellas and I never use them. I'd rather get wet.

And today, I got wet. BOY, did I get wet.

So did a few of my students. I say 'few' because most of them, in my morning classes, didn't show up today. They missed a quiz.

One girl strolled in forty minutes late because she 'slept in.' That would have been nice, we all agreed. Yes, indeed, I could see how she would have hated to get up and get out on a day like this.

But I say that if another student can come to class today when HER SISTER DIED OF A TOTALLY UNEXPECTED BRAIN ANEURISM THIS MORNING, then that first girl could have gotten up and gotten her sorry behind a little wet.

Guess which one gets to make up the work.

Every day, my students awe me in new and different ways, both good and bad. This morning, I got both.

God bless you, dear student. I am so sorry, and yes, you may definitely make up anything you might have missed today and will miss on Wednesday when your sister is to be buried. Please don't try to come to class after the funeral unless you really, really need the 'normalcy.'

I'm not talking to you, Lazy Girl. You'll come to class or you'll get another zero.

Life can be hard. Mine is, and I hate it that other people's sometimes are, too.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:07 PM | |

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. (Einstein)

Guess what we're doing in class tomorrow. I love doing this; it makes our language so much more clear, believe it or not.

Isn't that what any diagram is supposed to do? Whether it's a diagram of a building, a car's engine, the inside of the human body, a model of a T-rex or the Enterprise, or the language, a diagram's primary function is to break down the complicated and show how it is made up of the simple.

And I figured that if we were going to learn to diagram, we might as well diagram something important.

It might teach some lessons besides the obvious one. Complicated things are made up of many simple things, put together. I doubt that we will finish in one class meeting, but that's okay, too. Important things should not be limited by a timer. We'll finish when we finish.

I just hope I remember to bring markers tomorrow. I've got them all laid out and ready but that doesn't mean I'll think to pick them up before I dash out the door at 6:30 in the morning.

I love my job.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:30 PM | |

My Chemical Romance

I'm diabetic, and on a diet as well, so unless it's a totally cheating weekend, I do try to 'watch it' most days. That's why I have fallen madly in love with these fake ice cream bars. There's no twang of artificial sweetener and you can't even tell it's all stirred up in a test tube; they are absolutely delicious. There's probably very little actual food in them, but I don't care. Not even a little bit. Hand them over. They have become My Chemical Romance. (The band isn't bad, either.)

Which reminds me: my kids are coming down this afternoon, so I'd better hide the ice cream under the frozen persimmon pulp.

Seriously, dieters and diabetic people, look for these beauties in your grocery store. And be sure you have a good hiding place in your freezer, because everybody will want one.

Poor Hub. Half the time they're already gone when he looks for one, and I started out buying them mostly for him.

Sowwy hon. It's now every man for himself. If you can find them, you can have them.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:57 PM | |

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Elvis Has Left The Building, And Not A Moment Too Soon.

I was reading another college instructor's blog about excuses students and their parents come up with to get around the fact that a student screwed up and doesn't want to take the blame for it, and it made me remember the most creative excuse for failure any of my students ever dreamed up.

It was just last year.

I was teaching, and my department head came to the door and asked to see me for a moment. When department heads speak, I listen.

She took me over to a little hallway nook, cased the joint, and whispered, "One of your students from last semester has filed a "change of grade" challenge; he says you failed him because you were jealous of his being his father's son."

I was like, dude, WHUT THE HELL? asked her what in the world was going on; what did he mean?

She said, "He put down on the form that you failed him because you were jealous of the fact that he was the son of Elvis Presley."

Me: slackjawed silence.

She said, "Then, in another paragraph, he said that you failed him because you knew he was Elvis's son, and you never liked Elvis."

Me: "Let me make sure I am understanding you. Are you really telling me that a student from a full year ago has filed a grade challenge based on the fact that his being Elvis Presley's son has exposed him to prejudice from me?"

She said, "In a nutshell, yes."

Me: "But this man is about the same age Elvis would be, if Elvis were still alive! He's like, you know, ANCIENT! way too old to be the son of Elvis. How could he claim to be the son of someone his own age?"

She said, "Um, I'm not saying anyone in the room actually believed him. The point is, he has filed a grade challenge and we have to follow up on it."

Me: "He missed over a third of the classes and what he did turn in was really bad."

She then said, "I have gone over his grades and his average looks to be not quite two points from passing. I'm going to give him the points."

Me: "You are? Well shit, how could you do something so stupid; the guy is obviously a manipulating asshole and you are playing right into his hands Okay, you're the boss.

She said, "Thank you for understanding. I wanted to tell you myself before you heard it from anyone else."

Me: "I do want to be sure you know that even if he had told me about this and even if I did believe him about the Elvis thing, it wouldn't have changed anything; he would pass or fail all by himself."

She said, "Oh, I know. But he also claims that you made fun of him for being Elvis's son."

Me: "In all honesty I will have to say that he is a bloody liar never once mentioned it."

She said, "Did you know that what you are too kind to say out loud is written all over your face?"

Me: "That has to be disturbing."

But since none of you can see my face (lucky you are, too!!) I'm putting my actual thoughts on paper.

The scariest part, by the way, is that he got his passing grade without actually passing.

Can any teacher out there beat this one? Seriously, can anyone beat it?


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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:48 PM | |

Friday, September 15, 2006

Too Much Mixing And We Forget Why We're There

The stores are putting out Christmas merchandise. I'm not ready for that. Besides, it looks stupid sitting on the shelves beside the bags of candy corn and ceramic Pilgrims and those plastic hanging skeletons that are strung together like wind chimes.

Christmas is not something I can think rationally about when I'm looking at rows of scarecrows and styrofoam tombstones and jack-o-lanterns and silk autumm leaves and and clown noses and fake blood.

Heck, I'm so old that I remember when no self-respecting store would dream of putting out anything to do with Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. I think we all might appreciate each individual holiday more if the holidays were given back their individuality. As it is now, each holiday's paraphernalia is all mixed together and it's hard to see each Significant Day of the Year's personality any more. The shelves are too crowded and it all blends together into a mix that's impossible to deal with. Once in a while, someone who knows how will take a deep breath, and go in there to make sense of the whole thing and try to straighten it out, but before that person reaches the end of the aisle, the people coming behind have already messed it up again. Even when a person knows the Reason for the Season, it's hard to find things to represent that season when it's all thrown into the 'seasonal' section of the store and it's every man for himself in there. And who among us has never discovered a sad, forgotten little black cat stuffed back behind the candy canes and twinkling net lighting for the shrubbery, long after its time has past, and it's too late to do anything with it except feel a twinge of regret that it wasn't discovered sooner, when it was logically possible to do right by it?

If we keep these things each to its own time, and let those individual times unfold as they were meant to unfold, we would then be able to really LOOK at them, and see them for the miraculous pieces of individual wonder that they really are.

I'm sure it's more convenient to mix them all together and Caveat Emptor, but is it the best way? I don't think it is.

One holiday at a time, and no mixing.

Anyone who might see an analogy here that reminds him/her of our public schools just has too much imagination. Eat some peanut butter kisses and a candy cane and get over it.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:52 PM | |

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Off I Go Again (updated)

I'm off now to visit my doctor; it's a whim of a visit, really; my appointment wasn't until October but a little bird, the one that gets on my nerves with his constant yakking, told me to try and get in early, and darned if there wasn't a cancellation and I got it. I really like my rheumatologist; he's a friendly, funny man who almost always makes me laugh. I'm hoping I will leave his office today still laughing. Somehow, I don't think so.

Cross your fingers if you would, please. Like the three-legged pig in the farmer's barnyard, I sense danger.

Update: I'm okay this time.

About ten years ago, I had a blood clot in my leg. The symptoms then were exactly the same as the symptoms now, and I was really, really scared.

I am a person who doesn't really panic 'at the time;' I usually stay calm and capable all through a crisis. Then, as soon as I am assured that all is well and everybody is safe, I react. When I had that blood clot all those years ago, it was August and almost time for school to start up again. I had taken a summer job in a grocery store deli to help finance my daughter's college dorm room, and I was standing on a hard floor for ten hours every day. I figured the pain and stiffness in my leg was because of that. After I had endured it for almost a month, however, I started thinking that perhaps there was some other reason. (Duh.) I called my doctor and described the sensations and he ordered (he didn't 'suggest' or 'ask' or 'recommend') me to come up to the hospital for an ultrasound test. I had never heard of an ultrasound test for anyone but a pregnant woman, and I had never had one myself, so I had no idea what to expect.

It was cool. A handsome, hilariously funny man administered it, laughing all the while as we listened to my right leg; however, he stopped laughing when he started 'doing' my left leg.

With this ultrasound test, you can hear the sound of your blood swishing through your veins; it sounds like the sea. It's a rhythmic, soothing sound. That's what we heard via my right leg. When he started on the left, there was nothing. Silence. It was creeeeeepy.

I was admitted to the hospital immediately and before the day was over, a vascular surgeon had sliced me open and turned me inside out. Well, that's what it felt like, anyway. He was cute, too.

Not that I am a person who notices these things.

I did not realize how close to dying I was, until months later. Nearly dying was not something I ever did, so I just assumed all along that whatever was wrong with me was going to be a quick fix. I had no idea I almost didn't make it, not until much later.

I had to stay in the hospital for a full week, and my doctor would not 'release' me to go back to school until late that next spring. I was all in a wad of panic, for I seldom missed a day and I hated to think of someone else sitting in my chair, influencing my kids, handling my things, etc.

It was the first time since I was sixteen years old that I was not either working full-time (while going to school), or staying home (for a short time) with babies. I was in my house alone all day, and that hardly ever happened, either. I had all kinds of time. I started out too worried about my classroom to enjoy any of that time, but after a few weeks, I realized that the world really could turn without me, and not miss a beat. After that, I concentrated on reading, reading, reading, making the house all tidy and clean (a little at a time, of course) and making quilts.

I made fourteen quilts that year. One for each of my children, one for my uncle for Christmas, and the rest I gave away to friends, and my kids' friends.

I lost count of the number of books I read. It was wonderful.

I still worried about my classroom, and whether or not my substitute was doing right by my Kids, but there was nothing I could do about it whatever was happening, so I eventually calmed down in that area. Somewhat.

In the spring I went back. I was amazingly happy to go back, too. I loved that gig. I stayed for a million more years and then I quit.

(I've been gone from that classroom for three years now, and I still worry about what's happening in there. Not much is, from what I've heard.) (When you've done something for 26 years, it's hard to stop thinking about it.) (I loved it very, very much.) (But enough was enough. Administrators are stupid.)

The point is, I was really afraid that it was all beginning again, because those symptoms were eerily similar.

My doctor shot some cortisone and some painkiller under my kneecaps, and told me to take it easy.

Haha, 'take it easy.' Whatever.

My house is not tidy, or even clean in some places. We live here, and that means there is proof of life here and there in this house. He need not fear that I will exert myself overmuch.

Oh, and that Brain Game trivia contest I was in, tonight? My team won. We're still IN. We compete again next Tuesday night.

Those of you who were worried about me today: I thank you with all my heart for all those good wishes. My blogosphere neighbors are lovely people.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:46 PM | |

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

. . . in which my inherent mean streak shows through. . . .again. . . .

Once upon a time there was a nice lady, really she was, who was teaching several courses at a community college, that her bills might be at least partially paid and her existence upon this earth might be justified.
On Wednesday of the fourth week of the new fall semester, except that by the fourth week the semester is hardly 'new' any more, it came time to submit the names of all the 'no-shows' to the Office of the Registrar,  and to the Bursar, from whence cometh all the financial aid stuffs so vital to the budgets of those who, of their own free will, enrolled themselves at this fine institution of higher learning that they might work hard and earn a degree, to better themselves, and to use this heady amount of cash to pay for textbooks and tuition, and not use it instead for rent, pizza, cigarettes, Pampers, and the occasional Long Island Iced Tea at the Irish Lion.
Astonishing as it may be, there are those who call  themselves 'students' who still have not made their presence known in the classroom, nay, not even once, even though their financial aid checks be long cashed and utilized.
Today being the last day to bust the no-shows, it was, and yet was not, quite surprising that several previously falling into that category decided to show up. 
Some even had the nerve to ask for a list of makeup work.
This resulted in a reply from the professor that very possibly negated the first paragraph of this post which stated that she was a 'nice lady.'
The professor regrets having to rat on the truants, but that's how it goes in the Wonderful World of Grown-Ups.  And when one is going to school on somebody else's dollar, one had better be prepared to jump through a few hoops for those dollars.  If one doesn't like it, one should use his or her own dollars.
And by the way:  All you no-shows will now have to return ALL of that financial aid money.  Good luck.  I think the pawn shops are open till midnight. 
My loyalties are with the students who show up, behave themselves, and do their work.  For them, I would lie down in the road.
For the no-shows?  I think not.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:33 PM | |

Helpful Hints from a Helpful Lazy Housekeeper

(Blogger refuses to let me post any pictures again today. Use your imaginations and picture a big Budweiser can RIGHT HERE.)


1. Budweiser beer conditions the hair.
2. Pam cooking spray will dry fingernail polish.
3 Cool Whip will condition your hair in 15 minutes.
4. Mayonnaise will KILL LICE; it will also condition your hair.
5. Elmer's Glue - paint on your face, allow it to dry, peel off and see the dead skin and blackheads. (if any)
6. Shiny Hair - use brewed Lipton Tea as a rinse.
7. Sunburn - empty a large jar of Nestea into your bath water.
8. Minor burn - Colgate or Crest toothpaste.
9. Burn your tongue? Put sugar on it!
10. Arthritis? WD-40. Spray and rub in; killsl insect stings, too.
11, Bee stings - meat tenderizer.
12. Chigger bite - Preparation H.
13. Puffy eyes - Preparation H.
14. Paper cut - crazy glue or chap stick (glue is used instead of sutures at most hospitals)
15. Stinky feet - jello.
16. Athletes foot - cornstarch; just dust it on.
17. Fungus on toenails or fingernails - Vicks vapo- rub.
18. Kool-Aid will clean dishwasher pipes. Just put in the detergent section and run a cycle. It will also clean a toilet. (Wow, and we drink this stuff) (Well, maybe YOU do.)
19. Kool- Aid in Dannon plain yogurt is a great finger paint; your kids will love it and it won't hurt them if they eat it!
20. Peanut butter - will get scratches out of CD's! Wipe off with a coffee filter paper.
21. Sticking bicycle chain - Pam no-stick cooking spray.
22. Pam will also remove paint and grease from your hands! Keep a can in your garage.
23. Peanut butter will remove ink from the faces of dolls.
24. When the doll clothes are hard to put on, sprinkle with corn starch and watch them slide on. This works for people, too.
25. Heavy dandruff - pour on the vinegar!
26. Body paint - Crisco mixed with food coloring. Heat the Crisco in the microwave, pour in to an empty film container and mix with the food color of your choice!
27. Tie Dye T-shirt - mix a solution of Kool Aid in a container, tie a rubber band around a section of the T-shirt and soak.
28. Preserving a newspaper clipping - large bottle of club soda and a cup of milk of magnesia: soak for 20 min. and let dry, will last for many years!
29. A Slinky will hold toast and CD's!
30. To keep goggles and glasses from fogging, coat with Colgate toothpaste
31. Wine stains: pour on the Morton salt and watch it absorb into the salt.
32. To remove wax - Take a paper towel and iron it over the wax stain, it will absorb into the towel.
33. Remove labels from glassware etc: rub with peanut butter!
34. Baked on food - fill container with water, get a Bounce paper softener and the static from the towel will cause the baked on food to adhere to it. Soak overnight. Also; you can use 2 Efferdent tablets, soak overnight!
35. Crayon on the wall - Colgate toothpaste and brush it!
36. Dirty grout - Listerine
37. Stains on clothes - Colgate. If it's ink, hair spray.
38. Grass stains - Karo Syrup
39. Grease Stains - Coca Cola, it will also remove grease stains from the driveway overnight. We know it will take corrosion from car batteries, but Red Creme soda is best for that!
40. Fleas in your carpet? 20 Mule Team Borax- sprinkle and let stand for 24 hours.
41. To keep fresh flowers, add a little Clorox, or 2 Bayer aspirin, or just use 7-up instead of water.
42. When you go to buy bread in the grocery store, have you ever wondered which is the freshest, so you "squeeze" for freshness or softness? Don't squeeze any more. Did you know that bread is delivered fresh to the stores five days a week? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day has a different color twist tie. They are: Monday = Blue, Tuesday = Gr een, Thursday = Red Friday = White and Saturday = Yellow. So if today was Thursday, you would want red twist tie; not white which is Fridays (almost a week old)! The colors go alphabetically by color Blue- Green - Red - White - Yellow, Monday through Saturday. Very easy to remember. Check out the bread shelves in the grocery store and the bread wrappers DO have different twist ties, and even the ones with the plastic clips have different colors. You learn something new everyday! Enjoy fresh bread when you buy bread with the right color on the day you are shopping.

Don't think for a moment that I am a whiz-bang housekeeper. Martha Stewart would pass out cold with horror if she stopped in unexpectedly. I'm a so-so housekeeper. Most 'household hints' come from the heads of lazy people; we're always looking for an easier way to do something.

Most of these hints aren't original, either. I got most of them from my beautiful friend Irene (she is an extremely busy school librarian and the wife of the equally busy (and beautiful) professor/politician, John Orman), a few from other spams over the ages, and a few from experience.

Regarding my previous post: doesn't anybody else play "Grow" online?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:36 AM | |

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Enough serious stuff. Let's play games.

Egg. Cube. Ball. Ladder. Mountain. Pipe. Propeller. Tornado. Gear. Dish. Ring. Screen.

Now, who can tell me what will happen next?

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:54 PM | |

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 MixMania Playlist

My MixMania playlist might appear innocent enough, but the reality is, each song is mixed and interspersed with news, and real people's weeping and disbelief, and horror, and explosions, and screams, and the sounds of glass and stones and steel falling, and presidential quotations, and the result is very, very disturbing. But this theme was supposed to reflect my 'take' on what happened on this date, five years ago, and that's exactly what this mix does. It horrifies me, and reminds me; it soothes me with beautiful music, and then it reminds me again. I can't listen to it all in one sitting; it's too intense. I cry, every time.

Disc One
1. American National Anthem – US Marine Band
2. Presidential Address – George W. Bush
3. Attack On America Montage
4. Hero – Enrique Iglesias
5. I Will Remember You – Amy Grant
6. I Believe – Blessed Union of Souls
7. Higher – Creed
8. New York Minute – Don Henley
9. Everybody Hurts(Attack on America) – REM
10. Everybody Hurts (cont) – REM
11. America the Beautiful – Willie Nelson
12. Only Time – Enya
13. There Will Come A Day –Faith Hill
14. Star Spangled Banner – Faith Hill
15. Angel – Sarah McLachlan
16. Remember Me This Way – Jordan Hill

Disc Two
1. One More Day – Diamond Rio
2. Wish You Were Here – Fred Durst & Johnny Reznik
3. Overcome – Live
4. Imagine – John Lennon
5. News Montage
6. Stuck In A Moment – U2
7. America/Montage – Various Artists
8. The Change – Garth Brooks
9. Fragile – Sting
10. Hands – Jewel
11. The Dance – Garth Brooks
12. Angels In Heaven – Higher Faith
13. Independence Day – Martina McBride
14. Please Remember Me – Leann Rimes
15. If I Should Fall Behind – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:37 PM | |

Craig Damian Lilore

This post will remain on top until September 11, 2006

On September 11, 2001, 3, 251 children lost a parent. This tribute is about one of those parents.

Craig Damian Lilore was one of those men that everyone just simply adored. He was outgoing and friendly, a sweet and sensitive man who would give a stranger the shirt off his back. Craig was the person everybody wanted on their team, the man every woman wanted to marry, or wanted her daughter to marry. He was a handsome man with a movie-star smile; a real charmer.

Caroline Cedola was that lucky woman who married him. Craig called her his ‘true love and best friend.’

Caroline Lilore has been quoted as saying that her husband didn’t just drink in life, he gulped it down. At Montclair Kimberley Academy he had been co-captain of the football team, as well as a varsity baseball player. He was an excellent golfer, and that last summer before September 11, he was shooting a 79 on the course.

Craig loved sports. As an adult, he not only played golf, but also skied, both on water and on the snowy slopes. He was a near-fanatic when it came to football, and adored the Super Bowl and all the hoopla that went with it.

Craig loved the occasional weekend with the guys, too. His brother-in-law Rick usually went with him. Caroline said that Craig loved to go to Las Vegas, although he wasn’t a big gambler. Vegas was Disneyland for adults, and Craig loved it all. He had kept his child’s heart.

Yes, Craig Lilore loved his friends and he loved to hang out with them. But most of all, Craig Damian Lilore loved his wife Caroline and their 6-month-old son, Joseph.

Craig was no stereotypical helpless father, either. Craig was a REAL father, the kind who gets up in the night, and who does his fair share of dealing with poopy diapers and vomit.

Craig was often seen sitting in the rocking chair, a sleeping Joseph in his arms, still murmuring love-babble or humming lullabies. Caroline commented more than once that Craig was a wonderful father, and had her vote for ‘father of the year.’ Having a son was the biggest thrill of his life, she said. He couldn’t wait for Joseph to be old enough to learn some of the things his father wanted so badly for them to do together.

His love for his wife Caroline awed those who knew the couple. Craig was a sweet romantic man, who liked to plan outings for just the two of them. He was a firm believer in marriage, and in a romantic marriage at that.

Craig and Caroline had been married for two wonderful years. They had bought a house, and Craig spent long hours remodeling and improving it.

When even a man’s mother-in-law describes him as “always pleasant, always upbeat,” well, that’s pretty much how his whole world viewed him.

Craig worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, on the 104th floor of Tower One. He was a lawyer, a 1998 graduate of the New York Law School. He had big plans for his career with Cantor Fitzgerald, most of which concerned making money. Not money to hoard, or money to gamble, or money to buy things for himself, but money so Caroline and Joseph and he could do more of the things they loved, and money to assure Caroline and Joseph the things they needed. As an institutional stock trader for Cantor, he was highly respected among his peers and bosses alike.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Craig Lilore kissed his wife and son goodbye and went to work, as he had done every morning for two years. Two hours later he was gone. Craig Lilore, with his sweet smile, romantic heart, khakis, untucked shirt, his love for his wife and son apparent in every move he made, was gone. He was thirty years old.

To Caroline and to Joseph, my sincere condolences.

(This is my contribution to the 2996 Project.)

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:20 PM | |

Where Were You When The Planes Hit?

I'm guessing that many most bloggers will be posting tributes today, and telling the blogosphere 'where we were' when the planes hit the World Trade Center. Here is mine. It's a repeat from last year, but if I'm going to write about 'where I was' or 'what I was doing,' this is still it.


I've blogged about this before, so if it seems familiar, you're not crazy. Well, not on this issue anyway.

The morning began like any other; we stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, and sat back down to watch Channel One News, which had been taped at 3:00 that morning in the school library, thanks to the timer. But Channel One News didn't come on.

Instead, the secretary's voice, over the intercom, told the teachers to "please check your email immediately." We did. And we found out what had happened.

I scrolled down the monitor and read the end of the message. The superintendent had ordered all teachers to be absolutely mum all day about the tragedy. We were not to answer any questions from students, and we were especially not to offer any information to them.

The day went by in a blur. Many parents drove to the school, took their kids out, and brought them home. Between classes, frightened groups of students gathered in front of their lockers and whispered, gossiped, and cried, and begged us for information. By that time, the superintendent's order had been seconded by the principals, and we were unable to give these terrified kids any information. In the computer labs, the MSN screens told the 8th graders the truth, but they, too, were instructed NOT to talk about it to the other students. Right, like THAT happened. The biggest problem was, the story was being repeated by 8th graders, and it was being told bloody-killing-deathtrap-you're next-video-game-style.

At noon, many of the students were picked up by parents and taken home or out for lunch. Those few who returned had a big tale to tell. The problem was, the tale was being told by children and few if any of the facts were straight. The tale was being told scary-style, and the atmosphere in the building got more and more strained.

Reasonable questions were answered with silence, or the statement: "You'll find out when you get home."

This, added to all the rumors and gossip spread by children, turned my little sixth graders into terrified toddlers.

As teachers, we were furious and disgusted with the superintendent's edict. We wanted to call all the students into the gym and calmly tell them the truth in words and ways that would be age-appropriate. We wanted to hug them and assure them that it was far away and they were safe. We asked for permission to do this, and it was denied. Our orders were 'silence.' We hadn't been allowed to hug them for years, of course, but there are times and places when hugs ARE appropriate. No matter, the superintendent stood firm: no information whatsoever.

The day went by, more slowly than ever a day before. The students grew more and more pale and frightened. We asked again, and again he stood firm that no information whatsoever was to be given out.

By the end of the day, the children were as brittle as Jolly Rancher Watermelon Sticks.

A few minutes before the bell rang to send them home, a little girl raised her hand and in a trembling voice that I will never forget, asked me a question. "Please, is it true that our parents are dead and our houses are burned down?"

That was it. I gathered my students close and in a calm voice explained to them exactly what had happened. I told them their parents were alive and safe, and that they all still had homes to go to.

The relief was incredible. I could feel it cascading all through the room.

I was, of course, written up for insubordination the next day, but I didn't care. My phone had rung off the hook that night with parents thanking me for being honest with their children. That was far more important than a piece of paper that said I'd defied a stupid inappropriate order meted out by a man who belonged in the office of a used car lot, not in a position of power over children's lives.

The next day at school, in my room, we listened to some of the music that had been 'specially made about the tragedy. I still have those cd's I burned and I've shared them with many people over the past few years. (Yes, it's that same music I burned for my 911 Mixmania match.) It is true that kids cried again, but it was good to cry. It was an appropriate time to cry. We didn't do spelling or grammar that day. There are times when the "business as usual" mindset simply is not appropriate.

I wish administrators would realize that kids are a lot tougher than we might think. Kids are also a lot more sensitive that we might realize. It's an odd combination, and we as educators must try our best to bring the two ends of the emotional spectrum together and help these kids learn to deal with horrible happenings and still manage to get through the day as well as possible.

Ignoring an issue will not help. Morbidly focusing on an issue will not help. Our children are not stupid, and to treat them as such is not something that builds trust. Our children deserve answers to their questions.

How can we expect our children to learn to find a happy medium if we don't show them ourselves, when opportunities arise?

September 11, 2001 - September 11, 2006. God bless us, every one.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:59 PM | |

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Comfortable Shoes: I Have A Suggestion

Over at the wonderful Michele's blog, there is talk of comfortable shoes, and although I've tried several times, the comment gods there simply will not let me post an entire url to my comfy walking shoe of choice; it's cut off in the middle every time. Therefore, I will try to post it here.


If you can't be seen in public without high heels and hose and a little black dress and pearls, these shoes are not for you.

But if you love the footy-comfort, then these are the shoes of your dreams.

I am not exaggerating when I say that you will feel barefoot in these shoes. They are soft and they sort of mold to your feet, and when you wiggle your toes the leather moves with you.

Did I say they were soft? You can wad these shoes up in your hand. The soles are non-slip and I've walked on ice in them, without slipping. Remember, too, that I have serious walking issues at times, but in these shoes I feel very secure.

And even though it is common knowledge that I am completely lacking in all instincts stylish, I think these shoes are kind of pretty. You can't really tell from the picture; they are much prettier than they appear in the ad.

If you have a Minnetonka outlet near you, buy them there. If you don't, they are cheaper online than they usually are in a regular shoe store. I am all about the bargains.

I have never in my life ever had such a comfortable shoe before.

And since I am nowhere ready for anything that looks orthopoedic (on that day, just shoot me, okay? Please? Promise me this.) these are great. I hate heavy shoes, or lace-up shoes, or Grandma shoes, but these little beauties? I can just slip into them and go. They weigh practically nothing, which is certainly more than can be said for me. Smash them flat in your suitcase; they don't care.

This high-fashion advice is brought to you by Mamacita, known by all who have ever seen her as one who knows about this style stuff of which she speaks.

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. . . . usually. But this time? I'm dead right.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:03 PM | |

Friday, September 08, 2006

Major Suckage.

I am being driven insane by the constant  running of ISASS.exe, and SOFFICE.exe, and their sucking up 100% of CPU usage, every thirty seconds.  What are these things and why do they keep coming on?  I can't get anything done tonight.  Suck, suck, suck, all the power out of everything.  I can't even play Bookworm with that stuff running.  They are using it all up.  Nothing else can work.
I'm not exaggerating, either.  Every thirty seconds or so, suck suck suck, both start running again. 
Is this something I can delete?  Is this really necessary?
Because I'm about to go nuts and I really didn't have far to go.
What's going on here?  I don't think my nerves can stand any more computer trouble.
Here they go again.  I know it's them because control/alt/delete tattles on them whenever the fans start running.
I hate you, whatever you are, stupid sucking isass.exe and soffice.exe.
But then, I'm sitting here with my blown-out left knee pretty much hating everything tonight.  Ouch.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:44 PM | |

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My Murderous Ways

A few years ago I planted my Big Lots $1.99 rosebush and every summer it's more and more lush and beautiful. In other words, I haven't killed it yet.

This summer, I planted twelve cheap bargain marked-down rosebushes, each and every one well under $3.50, and none of them is dead yet, either. Four of them are vintage roses of unusual colors and they are really distinctive and cool. And still alive.

Four of them are climbing roses (just like Mary and Colin and Dickon loved so much in "The Secret Garden!!!") and they are, already, all over the trellis Hub made for me. None of them even hints at dying yet.

For about a week, I believed that one of my vintage rosebushes had died but eternal optimism prevented me from digging it up and throwing it into the back of Hub's big green pickup truck where I tend to toss any unwanted items I find around the yard into the woods. It's a good thing I didn't, because it magically sprang back to life after the big rainstorm we had a few days ago. It just needed water; who could know? And it's still alive.

Back in the day, I had a green thumb. Now? I have the black thumb of death, because I can't seem to keep anything alive out in the yard or in the planters. And when Hub brought home all his classroom plants for the summer, plants that had been able to withstand hundreds of high school math students, vacation days of no water, and the constant hum of math lectures, some of them were dead within a few weeks. Flowers prefer math lectures to my humming and conversations with them. This hurts, not a little bit.

But these rosebushes? They give me hope. I have touched them, yet they are not dead. They are blooming and beautiful.

The petunias that I have faithfully watered and talked kindly to and fertilized and dead-headed all summer? Over half of them went all leggy on me and then died. The few remaining are barely speaking to me and look like long bare sticks with a blossom on the end. They don't exactly cringe when I come near them, but they might as well. I do not claim credit for the death of the beautiful little flowers the cat napped on and killed.

Maybe the roses are able to resist the fatal-ness of my care because they are armed with thorns and thus have a means of self-defense, while the petunias and pansies are helpless against my well-meaning eagerness. I don't know; I've never really been into roses until this summer. Now that they know I love them, will they stay lush and healthy?

I won't know until next summer, I guess. But I hope they do. Whenever I see those climbers, especially, I feel so Lilias Craven. . . . but then, look what happened to HER.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:21 PM | |

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Zen and the Art of Racing Raisin Boxes

This week, my Intro Writing I classes are studying Einsteinian theory, physics, and non-linear time.

Oh, it's called Chapter 10: The Perfect Tenses, but that's just a cover for what it really is: our language's ability to describe complicated scientific theories with just a handful of helping verbs.

How wondrous is our language, that with the simple addition of "had" or "have," "shall" or "will," we can demonstrate that two things happened in the past, but one was before the other. Or that something began in the past and is still happening. Or that something will be done in the future after something else is done in the future.

I think it's fascinating that what a scientist must explain with diagrams and long complicated essays, any one of us can demonstrate with a helping verb.

I love the whole concept of 'time,' anyway, and for this chapter, I try to remember to take three little Matchbox cars to class with me. I almost always forget, though, and I end up using something else to represent the little cars. Today I used tiny boxes of raisins, and pretended the little maiden on the cover was the driver.

Three cars on the highway, all in different spots, yet close by each other. Each is in a different period of time relative to the other. To the one in the middle, the one in front is in the future because it is where the middle car is going but hasn't reached yet, and the one in back is in the past because it is where the middle car once was but has passed through.

To the car in back, both the other cars are in the future.

To the car in front, both the other cars are in the past.

To Superman, flying above, all the cars are in the present.

To the hitchhiker standing by the side of the road, each of the cars is in the future as long as they are moving, until which time they whizz past, one at a time, briefly sharing the hitchhiker's present for a split second before zooming into yet another perspective of the future.

Our language makes this complicated concept of time into a relatively (<--heh) simple thing. A tiny little helping verb can illustrate the past, present, future, and any combination thereof.

Dear heaven, I love my job.

Back in the middle school, the students fought for the little cars or whatever substituted for them, after this lesson.

Today, at the college level, I asked if anyone cared to have the tiny boxes of raisins and every hand went up. And because I am ever the cool, level-headed, serious professional, I placed all three little boxes on the floor in the middle of the room and walked out. I heard chaos behind me but it really wasn't any of my bidness.

Did I mention how much I love my job?

Time. It may not be as linear as you think. I am sometimes more inclined to believe that time is more like a tree than a flowing river. Yes, a tree that grows upward and at the same time puts out intertwining branches that touch, or don't touch. . . .

Then again, perhaps I've been reading too much Madeleine L'Engle. If there is such a thing as too much Madeleine L'Engle, which there isn't.

Chapter 10: Non-Linear Time and Its Relation To Tiny Boxes of Raisins Which I Understand Einstein Was Very Fond Of The Perfect Tenses.

It's the same thing, you know.

I LOVE my job.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:01 PM | |

Monday, September 04, 2006

We Are Stardust. . . . We Are Golden. . . .

Kenju posted about going to a 'dirty' movie as a teen, and getting busted by her mother, so I thought I'd share my similar experience.

I was a college freshman, and so naive as to be truly in danger and dangerous. The raciest movie I'd ever seen was probably a Sean Connery James Bond flick, and I only went to those because of the peer pressure, because I seldom understood anything that was going on.

But that weekend up at Indiana University, a bunch of the dormies decided to walk down to the College Mall movie theater to see a certain movie that was much in the news. Campus scuttlebutt was that this flick was a must-see for every college-aged student. Campus scuttlebutt also hinted that there would be nudity, cursing, music-some-of-us-weren't-allowed-to-listen-to-at-home, and general disregard for the status quo.

I was ready.

So, we walked the near-mile to the mall (back then, freshmen weren't allowed to have cars on campus, and few upperclassmen in my set had them, either), stood in the long line to buy our tickets, went in, and waited with great anticipation for the movie to begin.

It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. I sat there slackjawed and took it all in.

So far, so good.

As we exited the theater, jabbering enthusiastically about the movie and the music and the nakedidity, as Radar would say, we did not notice the older women standing in the parking lot watching us.

When I went home that weekend, though, my parents were waiting for me.

Them: We understand that you were seen leaving the theater where a dirty movie was playing.

Me: What?

Them: Don't try to deny it. You were seen by a family friend.

Me: One of your friends told you she'd seen me leaving a dirty movie?

Them: That's right. Why in the world would you have paid good money, OUR money, to see a filthy movie like that? We sent you up there to be educated, not so you could ruin your reputation and ours by being seen at dirty movies.

Then followed a lecture about family values and reputations being irreplaceable and the threat of being removed from college if I couldn't handle myself any better than that, etc, etc, blah blah blah.

They scared me so badly I promised them anything they asked. The thought of leaving this awesome place where I could do anything I wanted without asking permission first and moving back home to this small town was too terrible to contemplate.

I had no intention of keeping the promises, by the way. That's awful, I know, and I knew it even then, but the truth was, my parents had no idea what college was all about and nothing anyone could have told them would have helped. I had grown up so sheltered in many ways, that the freedom was both exhilerating and scary. I had no intention of becoming a bad girl, at least not right away. I was such a goody-two-shoes as a kid. . . .on the surface, that is. Well, everybody who knew me thought so. Ask them. :)

I also had the brains to see what was happening to some of the students who had been sheltered to the point of near-imprisonment as kids. They went hog wild, that's what was happening. Two of the girls in my dorm, who had never even been allowed to date, EVER, got pregnant almost immediately.

Keep a person down all their lives, and when they finally do get some freedom, bad things sometimes happen.

Anyway. Mom finally told me which fink of her friends had been the snitch. I wasn't surprised. I wasn't surprised a few years later when every. single. one. of. her. many many sons and daughters had "premature" babies in their middle teens, either.

Oh, and the name of this evil filthy naked drug-filled cursing irreverent movie?

Woodstock. My opinion of it? Cool.

It's a good thing none of Mom's friends saw me a few years later leaving the Bloomington, Indiana, premiere of "Deep Throat." I had a borrowed ID and they let me right in. My boyfriend was 23 and they kept him for questioning for a few minutes before letting him in. Our friend Wong, who was 28 and looked forty and had been a cop in Hong Kong before coming to IU, never carried ID and he had to run five miles back to the dorm to get his.

My opinion of that one? Blechhh.

I will never be a good porn customer because A. I think it is pathetic and disgusting, and B. I can't stop laughing.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:56 PM | |


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