Monday, October 31, 2005

Talk is NOT cheap!!!

It's almost one in the morning, and I have to get up in a few hours and go to school, and be all enthusiastic about punctuation.

The thing is, I AM enthusiastic about punctuation. It's important.

It tell us when to pause, and when to stop. It tells us when to end a sentence on a vocal inflection. It tells us when we are stating, and when we are questioning.

Think about math. What would it be without the symbols that tell us exactly what to do with the numbers and letters? That's punctuation.

Think about music. All over the page, there are symbols that tell us what to do with the notes and the words. The pauses are just as important as the notes. So are the silences.

The pauses, and the silences, are as much a part of the beauty of the music as are the notes and the lyrics.

It's the same with our spoken language. It is, after all, an ART. The Language Arts are as much of an art form as are the musical arts, or the studio arts. Done properly, language should flow from us, or from the page, as music flows.

With most of language, we instantly know when something is not said or written properly; the musical flow of the language is gone. The problem is, every geographical region has its own particular language idiosyncracies, and we get used to hearing them. Then, when we are taught that a way of expressing ourselves is incorrect, we are astounded. How could it be incorrect? Everyone we know says 'it' that way.

Maybe, maybe. . . . .

But the way we express ourselves opens doors, and slams doors shut, before us when we don't even know it. We are judged daily on our ability to communicate our thoughts to others. And when we communicate poorly, we are judged and found wanting. Fair? Not always, but think: don't we all put people on 'levels' according to their language? Good grammar connotes intelligence, like it or not.

Doctors, lawyers, dentists. . . . . most professionals use fairly good grammar. We expect it of them. We don't want our brain surgeon to sound like Jethro Bodine, do we? I think not.

Our language standards are not as high with some other jobs. I think this is a shame.

Language is such an awesome wonder. . . . think about it for a minute. It connects us to others, and all of education, and much of life, is about connections. It also enables us to share, as well as to conceal, our thoughts. Some days, I'm not sure which is more important.

I should probably go on to bed. I'm lecturing again. Sometimes, it just pours out of me when I don't realize it. Now that I realize it, I should stop.

That's hard, for me. I love our language dearly. I hope you can tell.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:42 AM | |

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hernando's Hideaway doesn't like me.

There are several blogs on my blogroll that use WordPress. I love to read these blogs, and I have a lot of respect for the authors.

It would be nice to be able to comment on them, though. Only people who log in to WordPress and have a username and password can comment.

I've got a WordPress username and password, but it doesn't work very well. Sometimes I have to retype it over and over before I'm allowed in, and sometimes it never works at all.

I love these blogs, and I fully understand some people's need for a modicum of privacy and/or selectivity, but why won't WordPress work for me? I guess I'm not cool enough.

I feel excluded, and I've never once tried to sell anyone Viagra or invited them to view a blog that is nothing but an advertisement, hoping to fool the ignorant.

Sigh. Being uncool is so, well, uncool.

Update: Several lovely people have told me that it isn't WordPress's fault at all; apparently it's an option. In other words, the individual blogger can opt to exclude me if I don't have a login and password. But I DO have one. Why won't my username and password work consistently? It's the one WordPress sent me!

I'm going to go have a baby-tantrum over it now. I'll be in the kitchen mashing bananas in a big bowl for my daughter's friends, who asked for some banana bread and are fast discovering that their wish is my command.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:28 PM | |

Forbidden fruit.

When I was in high school, our public library had a waiting list for 'The Canterbury Tales." Can you imagine? "The Canterbury Tales." Do you know why?

Because we were forbidden to read it in its entirety in school. It was too racy. Unquote.

There was also a waiting list for "Flowers for Algernon" and "Catcher in the Rye."

The only reason I read those, and many others, as a kid, was because the school forbade it. We were given a list of forbidden books every year, and we had to sign a pledge promising that we would NOT read these dirty books.

If they were really smart, they would have given us a list of books they WANTED us to read and told us they were forbidden.

Stupid schools.

We were also forbidden to read the Song of Solomon in Youth Group. That's why we took flashlights to church and read it in the dark basement. There was also some serious making out going on down there.

Not that I would personally know.

For years, that's what I thought "Holy Roller" meant.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:09 AM | |

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Personal letter to stupid parents

Warning: I'm in a bad mood. I'm sick and tired of a handful of people taking all the joy out of the majority of our children's school experience. I maintain that if a family is that insecure and unable to defend their own beliefs against a good honest question, or withstand any questions about or exposure to the beliefs of others, maybe they'd best take a good long look at those beliefs, because folks, something is wrong with them.

Read at your own risk. And if you want to fight, bring it on.


Dear People-Whose-Own-Personal-Beliefs-Far-Outweigh-Anyone-Else's:

There is a big difference between "celebrating" something and "having fun with" or simply "experiencing" it. Or maybe. . . LEARNING about something? Perish the thought.

Buy a dictionary, you pompous twits. If your belief system will allow one in your home. . . . there ARE some controversial words in dictionaries, you know. And I'm sure you DO know.

You can always mark them out with a black sharpie. And I'm sure you DO know how to do that. You've had plenty of practice with book censorship.

There is much, much more that I'd really like to say, but my own personal beliefs which far outweigh anyone else's do not allow me to waste my time trying to deal with the likes of you.

I'm too busy feeling sorry for your children, who have to deal with you on a daily basis, in your humorless, cheerless, sterilized-of-all-fun, devoid-of-all-experiences-which-your-pastor's-pizza delivery boy's-grandmother's-neighbor disapproves of, always-winter-and-never-Christmas, house. Also known as the Valentine-free zone. The "all-experiences outside of our frame of immediate knowledge" -free zone. The shamrock-free zone. The sparkler-free zone. The childhood's fantasy-free zone. The charm-free zone. The turkey-free zone. The tradition-free zone.

I was going to work "twilight zone" in there somewhere but frankly, such households are not classy enough to be associated with that reference.

Oh, and I take back the "turkey-free" zone comment. I bet you know why, too.

What a poor life for a little child, in a house cleansed of fantasy, play-acting, dress-up, dreams, fairies, anticipation, and traditions.

Poor, poor little children.

I suppose poor parents, too, but THEY'VE got a choice, while their children do not.

Not till they are old enough to move out, and start a nicer household of their own.

(Not judgemental much, am I. . . . .)

Yeah, well, bite me.

Very sincerely indeed,



When I try to remember my own elementary school years, the clearest memories are of red and pink construction paper valentine hearts, hand-tracing turkeys, a tree covered with little pieces of glitter-covered artwork (some of them MINE), shamrocks hanging from the ceiling, drawing names for a fifty-cent gift exchange, learning about Hannukah (which my family did not celebrate, but which I was fascinated to learn about; it was my first glimpse into other people's culture, and MY parents were smart enough to appreciate that.) and sitting out in the hallway day after day tutoring kids who probably STILL can't spell 'cat.'

Some of those memories are better than others. Guess which.

Honestly, I think some people never grow out of the obsession to always get their own way in everything. Too bad so many of them have children.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:04 PM | |

Ouch, ouch, ouch, Olde English style

Windows is ishuttin down,
Lhude rant Momy.
Groweth mad and bloweth bad
And buyth the comp nu.
Rant Momy.
Hand bleedeth after blade,
Pie after bake cu.
Feline sterteth,
Husebund verteth,
Murie rant Momy.
Scheisse, scheisse,
wel singes thu Momy,
Ne swik thu naver nu.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:07 AM | |

Friday, October 28, 2005

I'm not sweating, and I'm the boss, and I'm in a panic.

Got to get to school early this morning. You know me, always the professional, punctual prof. (Actually, I AM that way.)

Cross your fingers that I can find the big stack of graded exams I somehow misplaced. I have to get them recorded so I can average this class's grades so they'll know their standing.

There are only two places they can possibly be, and I've already checked one of them.

If they're not in the other place, I'll have to think fast, and on Friday's, I don't think very fast.

The worst of it is, I thought I'd already done all of this. I did, with all the other classes. How in the world did I leave this one out?

Because I'm a nimrod, apparently. How could I have lost something so important?

They're not really LOST, of course. They're just mischievous, and hiding from me. When I find them, I'm going to spank them. Collectively. You know, punish the whole class for what was probably the decision of one of them.

Gah. Just kidding. I never did that and never would. Such tactics are symptomatic of an instructor who has lost his/her authority AND sense of humor. Without either of these, a teacher is nothing but a sweating adult in a roomful of dictators.

(I'm here at school now, and so are the "missing" tests. Whew. There were right where I put them for safekeeping: in my faculty workroom drawer.( (I've found, over the years, that whenever I put something somewhere "for safekeeping,:" I invariably forget and panic.) (Whereas things that are scattered, I can find easily.) (Perhaps 'scattered' IS the best system for me.) (No, I can't live like that.) (Hub can, but I can't.)
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:51 AM | |

Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.

A former student told me tonight that my classroom was the first place/time he ever heard Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

I consider that a compliment. Thank you, Chris.

I wish I'd had him for a full year. It's too bad that he had to be in my class the Year of the Big Surgery, when I missed three-fourths of the year. I hated that, for many reasons, the least of which was my health.

I hated that year because I didn't just miss days. I missed Greek Mythology, WWII and the Holocaust, compound/complex sentence diagrams, Helen Keller, O.Henry, John Steinbeck, irony, point of view, parody, farce, "Our Town," and more. Most of all, I missed getting to know that year's students. I missed that the most. Nine weeks is not long enough.

I did get in some Shakespeare, and a trip to the Big City to see a musical.

We won't even discuss how Barney and Elmo died, except to say "who woulda thought they'd go like THAT. . . . ."

But I do still have it on my hard drive. When they come over, I'll play it again.

I took Belle and some of her friends to Steak and Shake tonight after my class. Didn't get home till a few minutes ago. Tomorrow is going to be a really long day.

It was worth it.

I mean, just to see that chair leg break, sending that poor girl flying backwards across the room. . . .

It was nobody we knew, so we giggled a bit. She was fine, fortunately.

And the large man who looked exactly like Israel Kamakawiwo'ole? We didn't even notice. Nobody commented about how he probably played the ukelele, either. Especially not me.

And now I'm home again. And blogging, when I need to be averaging my Friday classes' grades.

A good day, a good evening, a great night.

I hope all of you had the same.

(minus the chair leg breaking under you, of course.)
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:32 AM | |

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tonight's special: crab rangoon, friendship, and parallel structure.

If you haven't already done so, and if you love a good music mix, PLEASE click on over to Patriside's blog and sign up for his awesome MixMania project. Free music, people. Jim works hard on this, and it shows in the results. I've been participating for months now, ever since the beginning, and I love every mix I've gotten. Go now. Email Jim and tell him you want to participate. Do what he tells you. (I always do.)

It's Thursday! That means I don't teach until later this evening. It also means I get to meet my lovely friend Frau for supper! Tonight we will be joined by my equally lovely sister, and possibly my lovely friend Janice, and the early evening promises to be fun.

All my friends are lovely. Aren't yours?

We're meeting at a tiny Chinese buffet. There's nothing it can BE but fun. I do love a tiny, local, tucked-away in an odd place, restaurant.

How odd is the location? Well.

It's an authentic Chinese restaurant (owned and staffed by genuine Chinese people) (who don't speak much English) and it's almost hidden in one of those slightly aging urban strip malls that has degenerated into a Big Lots, a Dollar General Store, and a huge grocery store, with nothing left of the original little shops but a Beauty College, a Quickie Cash If You Sign Over Your Future Paycheck racket, and this little eatery.

The food is delicious and the service is incredible. I highly recommend it.

Frau is the one who first introduced me to it. Then I met another friend there for lunch. And tonight I'm meeting TWO sweeties there.

It's awesome in its cheapness and authenticity and cool. If you're in the area, please join us. We're meeting around fourish.

And then I go to school. Tonight, I'm having a special on consistent tense and person, and parallel structure. Come, and be enlightened.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:41 AM | |

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Upside, downside, high as a kite and old.

One of my students sent me this. It's probably been on the internet circuit for a long time, but I'd never seen it till tonight.

Besides being funny, you know what else is cool about it?

At this level, I'm allowed to laugh when students send me stuff like this.


D A M N I T O L: Take 2 and the rest of the world can go to hell for up to 8 full hours.

ST. M O M M A'S W O R T: Plant extract that treats mom's depression by rendering preschoolers unconscious for up to two days.

E M P T Y N E S T R O G E N: Suppository that eliminates melancholy and loneliness by reminding you of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn't wait till they moved out.

P E P T O B I M B O: Liquid silicone drink for single women. Two full cups swallowed before an evening out increases breast size, decreases intelligence, and prevents conception.

D U M B E R O L: When taken with Peptobimbo, can cause dangerously low IQ, resulting in enjoyment of country music and pickup trucks.

F L I P I T O R: Increases life expectancy of commuters by controlling road rage and the urge to flip off other drivers.

M E N I C I L L I N: Potent anti-boy-otic for older women. Increases resistance to such lethal lines as, "You make me want to be a better person . Can we get naked now?

BUYAGRA: Injectable stimulant taken prior to shopping Increases potency, duration, and credit limit of spending spree.

J A C K A S S P I R I N: Relieves headache caused by a man who can't remember your birthday, anniversary, phone number, or to lift the toilet seat.

A N T I-T A L K S I D E N TA: spray carried in a purse or wallet to be used on anyone too eager to share their life stories with total strangers in elevators.

N A G A M E N T: When administered to a boyfriend or husband, provides the same irritation level as nagging him.


The downside of this one is that I know the real names of all these parody "drugs."
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:02 PM | |

When animals shed their coats, they don't have to remember where they left them.

(The Carnival of Education is up, so click on over to Education Wonks and get caught up on some issues that directly affect your children, and you, and the universe in general.)

It's cold here now, so on Monday I wore my black leather coat to work. I took it off and put it on the back of my chair so I'd be sure to remember it. I forgot it and had to go back to get it.

On Tuesday, it was still cold, so I wore my coat to work. I took it off and put it on the back of my chair so I'd be sure to remember it. I wrote myself a little post-it note and stuck it to the lectern. I looked at the note for three hours, and was confident that I'd remember. I forgot it and had to drive back to get it.

Today, it was FREEZING this morning, so I wore my coat again. I took it off and put it on the back of my chair (are you picking up a pattern yet?) so I'd be sure to remember it. I forgot it and had to go back to get it.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, I change classrooms in the morning, and I'm embarassed to tell you that I forgot that coat in both classrooms, both days.

Last winter, I gave up on myself and started leaving my coat in the car, and running to the door before I froze solid. I guess I'll have to start doing that again this winter.

I think it's because I really do hate to wear a coat at all. When I take it off, my mind eliminates it from all of existence.

Back in the middle school, I used to write "Please remind me to wear my coat home" on the blackboard. And my last period class, bless their pointy little heads, would always remind me. They used to take turns, in fact, actually coming behind my desk, picking up my coat, giving it to me to hold, and forbidding me to put it down.

I guess they didn't realize that after they left my room, I still had two hours or more of work to do. Sometimes, I graded papers wearing my coat. It was always cold in there anyway.

But now, I do all that at home, and I'm going to have to somehow remember to put my coat back on.

It's starting. I'm becoming an absent-minded four-year-old child. . . . .

Okay, I confess. Last winter I didn't even HAVE that coat for much of the year. That's because I wore it to my sister's house at Christmas and forgot it. And she couldn't remember it either, so by the time both of us remembered at the same time, it was almost spring and I really didn't need it.

It's got strange gloves in the pockets so I suspect she wore it, too. I like them, so she can't have them back. Call it 'rent.'

Scary side note: When I cleaned out my old classroom a couple of years ago, I discovered FIVE cardigan sweaters that I'd brought to school and forgotten about.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:41 PM | |

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Meme. . . .

I haven't done a meme in ages. Thanks, Roz.

1. If you are as old as you feel, how old are you? (150)

2. If you are as old as your thoughts, how old are you? (12)

3. A great longlasting back-scratch, or sex? (I'll have to think about that one. )

4. Have you ever broken a bone? (Yes.)

5. Have you ever made any kind of romantic contact with the same sex? (No.)

6. Do you like your body? (No.)

7. Are you still close to your high school friends? (Yes.)

8. Cat or dog? (Cat.)

9. Music or silence? (Music, if I get to choose it.)

10. Are you a 'people person' or a loner? (People.)

11. Dine in or eat out? (Depends on mood and money.)

12. Do you like to dance? (Yes.)

13. Do you sing? (I do, but I shouldn't.)

14. Draw, paint, sculpt, or sketch? (No, but I wish I could.)

15. Have you ever been fired from a job? (No.)

16. Do you like your job? (Yes.)

17. Pencil or pen? (Pen.)

18. Do you have to peek at the keyboard when you type? (No.)

19. Perfume? (Chanel #5)

20. How often do you check your email? (Every time the gmail thing beeps.)

21. Of course you love your kids. Do you like them, too? (Yes.)

22. Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted? (Yes.)

23. What is your favorite room in your home? (computer room or kitchen, depending.)

24. Have you experienced a death in the past year? (Yes.)

25. Bath or shower? (Shower.)

26. Leno or Letterman? (Letterman)

27. Movies: theater or DVD? (DVD, usually.)

28. Favorite tv show: (MASH)

29. How many tv hours do you rack up in a week? (One, maybe.)

30. What about the sports? (What about them?)

31. Which is more important, friendship or love? (They are the same thing, on different levels.)

32. What is your favorite season? (Autumn.)

33. Have you ever suffered because of someone else's actions? (Yes.)

34. Have you ever hurt someone on purpose? (No.)

35. How many people have asked you to marry him? (Five.)

36. Favorite pizza topping? (Double cheese.)

37. High heels? (No, too clumsy for them.)

38. Do you lean more towards casual, or formal? (Casual.)

39. Messy or tidy? (Mixture.)

40. Are you a good cook? (Yes.)

41. How much music is on your hard drive? (over 8,000 mp3's)

42. Make-up? (I try to cover the worst parts.)

43. What is your computer's name? (Colin.)

44. Does your pet speak English? (Of course him does.)

45. Are you a reader? (Yes.)

46. Besides blogging, are you a writer? (Yes.)

47. Is there something you'd like to say to someone who's hurt you? (Yes.)

48. Blogging is habit-forming, but could you quit any time you wanted? (No.)

49. Two positive traits you have: (I try to be nice to everyone, and I try to help people whenever I can.)

50. Who are you going to pass this along to? (Whoever wants to do it. I don't want to put anyone on the spot.)


Item: Randy the Furnace Man's secretary called tonight. I still have no appointment, but she says she'll tell him to call whenever he's in our general area.

Not good enough.

If I don't get a call within the next few days, I'm going to post his name and address on here.

Businesses: don't mess with a blogger. If you screw me over, I'll put it right here.

And I'll do the same when you give me good service.

Speaking of which, the food and service at Rusty's last Saturday night was absolute perfection. Thank you, Janet; you did a WONDERFUL job with our huge table of people. Not one single mistake, and she even remembered my name. If ever any of you is in this area, go to Rusty's. The food is great, the service is prime, and the prices are reasonable.

They have BBQ ribs on weekends. That's when we go.

All the stores have Christmas on the shelves. I'm not ready yet. Too soon.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:16 PM | |

Who you gonna call? Not Randy.

Last night I put the flannel sheets on the bed. Mmm, toasty warm. Good thing, too, because this house is COLD.

We have always used the same local heating & cooling company to take care of our furnace and air conditioner. We've been good customers of this business for twenty years. Not any more. Sorry, Randy, you're just too darn rude and uninterested in our business.

Last year, as usual, we called Randy to come out and inspect our furnace before the cold weather came to stay. He made an appointment, but never showed up. I called again, he apologized (just sooo busy!) and rescheduled. He didn't show up.

One more time: reschedule. No show. No explanation, either. Fortunately, the furnace seemed to run fine all last year.

This year, I called the same place. No answer. I left a message. Nothing. I called one more time. The phone rang a million times, no answer.

So I called another furnace guy. He wasn't in the office, but I left a message. If he calls back, he'll get my business. And if he doesn't, I'll call yet another one.

I know it's a busy time of year for furnace guys, but even so, there should still be some customer service involved. Or maybe just some plain old courtesy.

If Randy had a website, I'd link to it so you could all see who NOT to call.

The problem is, this year, the furnace isn't putting out. It just clicks and snorts and toots and wheezes, like an old man with false teeth, who snores, and has a bad cold and gas. In other words, not REMOTELY hot. All show and no go.

We'll be using the wood stove a lot anyway. Sigh.

I wonder if there are any assertiveness-training classes in this immediate area. . . . .
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:35 AM | |

Monday, October 24, 2005

Education can be desecprited many ways.

I'm listening to Vassar Clements and feeling a little down. This man could play any kind of music with his magic violin, or 'fiddle,' as the case may be. I'm listening to his fiddle right now, but a few minutes ago I was listening to his violin. He'll be missed, in the music world.

The following is a real essay. I have a witness.

(Update: I've removed the essay in its entirety, but I've left the parts that will make you cringe.)


Education can be desecprited many ways. . . . Some people think that when you finsh school, you're done. Wrong. I've all was looked at it as something you can never get a way from. Like a stalker.

On the first day of school, since God knows when, there has all was been that teacher you had that tolled you, " when you think you have nothing eles to learn, you should just be died." Well when I first heard that, I was in 4th grade and it scared the crap out of me. I was so afriad that someday, I'd couldn't learn any more. Intell someone toll me you can never stop learning. . . .


What was I supposed to do with that? She's a nice young woman, and she really tries hard, and she honestly wants to learn. She truly wants to succeed in college. She sweated more over that essay than most of the other students did over theirs. That essay represents her best.

So, what's to be done with something like this? Her intentions are good. Her attitude is positive. Her philosophy is sound. Her grammar, spelling, and everything else just absolutely suck.

See, this is why I always give two grades for every piece of writing. One grade is for content. The other is for mechanics. Because, you see, her content, while painfully and horribly and crudely expressed, ain't bad, folks. And her mechanics, painful and horrible and crude as they are, express her philosphy in her own way, and sometimes the grammar, etc, make the content that much more poignant. This is not to say that a student at this level can be allowed to get away with it; I'm just saying that sometimes, the manner of expression can make the content mean even more than it says.

I had to give her a really REALLY low grade for mechanics, of course. But I gave her a slightly higher grade for her content.

This is what I deal with every day.

I used to dread having the remedial students mixed in with the other students, back in the middle school. I always got most of them, too. Inclusion isn't fair to either side.

Now, I have those students, many years older and with some living behind them, all together in each class, and I absolutely love dealing with them. I think the difference goes beyond their age. I think the difference is mainly that I am able to give them my full attention, and instead of asking a section of the class to slow down and wait while the others catch up, the whole class is learning together without any delays or embarassing 'catch-ups.' That opinion won't be popular with some teachers and parents, but in my experience, it's true. I do not like inclusion.

So, I hope you can all tell that I adore my job now. Just to walk into the building makes me happy. My students make me happy. I love to watch them work hard, and I love it even more when I can see them succeed.

We don't call it "remedial" at this level, though. It's just a 'prep' class, to get them ready for the next level. And shouldn't all classes be like that?

My students used to associate 'school' with 'trauma.' I hope I can help them with that one, too.

I think I learn more, every day, than they do. Whoever woulda thunk it, that remedial prep classes would follow me all the way to here?

Like a stalker.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:28 PM | |

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Memory, NOT by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Years ago, I had a student whose primary passions were Elvis, deer hunting with his dad, and motorcycles.

One day, while riding his motorcycle to work one morning, his father hit a deer and was killed.

I went to the funeral home to pay my respects, and there was an Elvis impersonator sitting in a wicker chair on the mortuary porch.

I signed the registry book and went on home. I was afraid to go inside.

I've been sorry ever since.

But honestly. . . . Elvis, deer, and motorcycles, all in one fell swoop. What might have awaited me if I'd gone on inside?

I'm hoping that kid has different passions now.

Because, you know, sometimes when they flower, all hell breaks loose.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:57 PM | |

Mother of the Year. If by 'Mother' we mean half of a hyphenated word. . . . .

I was chatting last night with the fantabulous Patriside. He sent me this link and asked me what I thought of it.

When I could get my breath back after that huge horrified gasp, I told him that my opinion of it was probably the same as his. It was such a mixture of disgust, horror, and incredulous almost disoriented mom-fury, that I could barely comprehend it.

I wanted to stand up and scream. I wanted to grab the phone and CALL somebody, CPS, anybody, and demand that they do "something."

But what is it, exactly, that decent sentient people can do about parents such as these, who are raising their children to be bigots? Parents who are raising their children to be intolerant of everyone who doesn't look like them? Parents who are encouraging their children to spread the gospel of hatred and prejudice? Parents who have taught their children to use their talents to hurt others? Parents who feel completely justified and even smug about teaching their children to despise and hate and set themselves above other people in almost every way?

In America, where everyone except the hardworking and nice have so many rights, I doubt there is anything we can do. Free speech, and I am not knocking that, will no doubt prevail.

Don't anyone think for a MINUTE that I would argue against free speech, or any of the basic human rights everyone* in this country enjoys.

I just wonder about the wisdom of allowing people who believe in and teach and instill 'hatred' and 'intolerance' and 'supremacy,' etc, to breed. We can't stop them, of course, but it's sure heart-breaking to see them multiply.

I keep thinking of Malcolm's quote from Jurassic Park: Just because we CAN doesn't mean we SHOULD.

I'm not sure why, because I haven't figured out exactly how it connects to this issue, but for whatever reason, that line keeps going through my mind.

Why do some people have to be so negative, so hate-filled, so smug and so self-satisfied in their very, very correct only-right-way point of view? This particular family's particular beliefs are only one of many families, and many beliefs that have resulted in societal and ethical negatives.

These parents have taught their daughters to believe that the White Supremacy doctrines of Nazi Germany were right and correct. They've taught their daughters to revere Rudolph Hess, etc.

Our country's schools are, of course, not good enough for these children**, and they've been home-schooled by these parents all their lives. Never associated much with other kids, never socialized much, never met very many people. . . . .

Poor kids. Poor, poor, racist, prejudiced, bigoted kids.

Apparently they were never allowed or encouraged to do any thinking on their own. They were just encouraged to repeat back what 'values' *** their parents held. Like parrots.

This family makes me sick. Such a waste of talent. Such evil, hate-filled teachings.

Heaven help their children. The parents are adults who know better but who have chosen to spread hate, but Heaven help them anyway.

The time has long passed when these girls should have reached the level of questioning authority. They are old enough now to realize that not everyone agrees with such nasty beliefs, and yet they've chosen to to embrace them and to spread the hate themselves.

I wonder if the time will ever come when these girls experience an epiphany. Will they ever suddenly buck up and realize that their family's entire way of life is perverted? Will they ever realize what they've done, and be ashamed? One can only hope so.

And in the meantime, we can also hope that anyone unfortunate enough to hear their cute, perky messages of hate will be smart enough to realize that these girls are brainwashed nits.

*well, a few people anyway

**public schools have their dark side, but compared to the home-schooling these girls get, the schools don't seem nearly as bad as I usually think they are.

***values such as hate, prejudice, 'holier than thou,' and "we're better than you."
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:37 PM | |

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Culture and shock. Two separate days.

Last night I went to the City to watch and hear my sister perform with the Indianapolis Symphony. As usual, she was awesome. And my perspective may be a tad bit askew, but I am convinced that without her singing up there, the entire performance would have been lessened. Cheapened, even. I watched her sing and I thought she was absolutely beautiful.

I'm sure that my seatmates would agree. Cole Porter would agree, too.

After the performance we crossed the street to P.F. Chang's, where we once again had to be swept out so the staff could lock the doors and go home to their families.

Today I went with my two cousins to a town slightly south of here, the downtown of which is almost completely made up of antique shops. I am not 'into' antiques, especially, but it's always fun to look around in the stores and see how many of my own things are worth anything and/or in any way sought after by others.

It also makes me feel old when I find them.

I've been out of high school so long that yearbooks published during those four years can be found in antique shops.

Dollies that Santa brought me can be found in antique shops. Some of them cost so much today, Santa wouldn't be able to bring them to me now.

Dishes my mother had have been in antique shops for a while now. I've gotten over that shock. But. . . . . dishes I bought myself were in some of these shops. What's up with that?

My Woolworth plates are worth money now. My Smurf glasses from McDonald's. My B.C. glassware from the gas station.

My Tiny Terri Lee doll. My teddy bear.

When did this happen? Antique shops are supposed to sell old things! What were MY things doing in there?

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:01 PM | |

Friday, October 21, 2005

Love letter, albeit cold.

Dear Students,

Come a little closer, I need to tell you something.

The past tense of "freeze" is not "frooze."

"Frooze" is not a word. But if it were, you are correct in that "froozed" would be its past participle form.

Please don't ever say or write either of those again.

Much appreciated, thankyouverymuch.

Mrs. Mamacita
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:57 AM | |

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Differences between middle school students and college students, part 8,999:

Tonight during the mid-term exam, the room was SILENT. The only noises were shuffling papers and scratching pencils or pens.

And the occasional little 'farty' sounds from one student's chair, whenever he moved even the slightest little bit.

Fart sounds in the classroom, and not one student turned a hair about it.

I love my job.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:52 PM | |

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Why I love my job. It's because of the fat guy who got kicked out of the buffet.

Sometimes things are so hard, I have to ask myself why I am still trying so diligently to teach.

Sometimes, the question is answered by the students, even when they don't know it.

Look at these excerpts from last week's essays. . . .


"Education is confidence."

"My teachers never seemed to care about me in school. I sometimes wanted my teachers to ask me if I was OK, but they never did. It's hard for a kid to tell someone they need help."

"I learn better by experience and hands-on than by books. Thank God for shop. What do kids like me do now in junior high? Kids like me aren't good enough for the State."

"Teachers need to stop judging children on how they look."

"The brain is constantly wanting to be fed, and when it is not fed, it is like the fat guy when he gets kicked out of the buffet." (simile!))

"People who have an education sometimes do not realize how important it is. People who cannot afford an education would do anything to have education."

"Education isn't just teaching children how to read and write, but also to deal with their feelings and how to react around others."

"When I was in jail, (my teacher) wrote me a letter, and asked me to promise that I'd go back to school, and that I'd go to college. I wrote her back and told her I would. That's why I'm here."

"I can remember when African-American women were not encouraged or even allowed to be educated. Things are different now, fortunately, and through my lifetime of blue-collar jobs and raising my children, I have learned that education is what separates people, not color, not religion, not anything else."

"My father always said to me, 'Get married to someone who will always take care of you, so you'll never have to work in a factory.' I never married, and I've worked in a large factory for over sixteen years."

"Education means a lot to me because look where I am today: attending college and studying to become a teacher!"

"I want to be a 'kid-changer,' and make them excited about learning, and I don't want to be under a microscope when I teach. I hate state standards; they put teachers in a box where they can't perform to the best of their abilities."

"I used to wonder what it would be like to go to college. I wouldn't have believed it if I'd been told then, though. It's even better than I dreamed."

"Why couldn't I have understood how important all this stuff was back when I was younger? And now I try to tell my grandkids and they don't believe it either."

"There were so many kids in my school, I don't think any of my teachers ever knew my name. At least, they didn't associate it with my face."

"My son told me that if school was so important, why wasn't I going? So here I am. We do our homework together on the kitchen table. "

"When I got laid off from my line job of thirty-two years, I went home and told my wife I wanted to die. She threw my sorry ass into the car and drove me here, and signed me up. Now I can't wait to get here in the morning. I picked me a great wife, huh."

"I think I would have known some of the answers twenty-two years ago if any of my teachers ever asked me."

"All I have to do is walk in this building and I feel smarter. I think other people's smartness rubs off on you if you open yourself up to it. It's for sure their niceness does."



Another time, I will share some of the not-so-edifying quotes with you. Tonight, in spite of all the worry and panic of my life, this class is making me smile.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:35 PM | |

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bitch, bitch, bitch. "You called?"

Today, my small regional-campus class took their midterm exam. After everyone finished, we walked across the parking lot and had lunch together at Pizza Hut.

I listened to these lovely people talk about what school has meant to them. And up until recently, it hasn't meant much that was positive.

I sat there nursing one diet coke after another and heard these nice people talk about how discouraging school had been, and how scary some of the classes were, and how they still had nightmares about teachers who had been cruel or disinterested in them, and how they had been made to feel ashamed to ask questions. They talked about standardized tests, and how they remembered nothing from many classes except how to take a big test. They talked about how a little support and caring would have been nice. And they talked about how huge their schools were, and how crowded their classes, and how it would have been so wonderful if people knew their names.

This wasn't the "I still have nightmares about locker combinations and gym class" thing that I've talked about before on this blog. This was far more important.

A table of kind, decent, hardworking adults, not one of whom had a good word to say about their public school experience: what does this tell us as a society? That the table was full of stupid people? I think not. That the table was full of people whose experiences were the exception rather than the rule? I don't think that, either.

I think it's a sad commentary on our society, that a large number of the kind of people we hope our own children grow to be, share such memories.

Oh, there was talk of being bullied, of being snubbed by the "A" group, of getting behind in class, of homework problems, etc, but mostly, they talked about school in general and how parts of it failed them.

We tend to think of students failing in school, but the truth is, much of the time, it is our schools that are failing the students. Not always, but sometimes.

"Sometimes" is too often.

To be nearly forty and to still become shaky and emotional when talking about school. . . . this isn't right. It's just not right.

What should our schools do to improve? I have a few ideas, but I don't think you'll find them on any NCLB agenda, or on a school board list, or in an NEA publication.

I think our school are too big. Large corporations sounded good on paper; they meant all students would have access to the big laboratories, the college courses, etc. Those things are true. For some students, they are perfect.

But ultimately, I think what large school corporations have done is eliminate neighborhood cameraderie and family time. Who has time to sit down to a family dinner in the evening any more? We're too busy driving our kids back and forth to the school. Why don't the kids walk? Because the school is thirty-six miles away.

It isn't only fast food that makes our children fat; it's riding everywhere because the schools are too far from the neighborhoods. Kids don't walk anywhere, any more.

It used to be that almost every neighborhood had a school within walking distance. Now, even children who live across the street from their school must ride the bus because of insurance prohibitions against pedestrian students.

School function after hours? Even if their parents worked, students used to be able to walk to school for choir practice, ball games, etc. Not now. Some kids live a good hour's drive from their school. And some kids who live across the street from a school aren't allowed to go there because of busing (one of the stupider ideas of our time); they are forced instead to go to school a good long drive away.

A child whose parents are unable or unwilling to drive him/her to school in the evening will not be able to participate in the things that make school fun, such as choir, plays, programs, sports, band, etc.

Why aren't there very many members of the marching band any more? Because too many parents aren't willing or able to take their child all the way back to school in the evening, or spend (sometimes) hours waiting in parking lots for the band bus to bring them back from an out-of-town function.

And while it is very, very true that many parents just aren't able, for whatever reason (and some of the reasons are good ones) to spend that many hours on the road to school and back, it is also true that many parents just don't care enough about their child to put forth the effort. They're tired, and they wanna watch football, dammit, and the kid has no business in the band anyway, or anything else that bothers me after work. Dammit again, and where's my beer.

Sure they're tired. I was tired, but I spent what amounts to years, sitting in the van, waiting for a bus. Why? Because I LOVED my kids and that's part of parenting. I took mine, and I took many of their friends whose parents didn't love them as much as I loved mine, and I'm not taking back that statement.

(Those parents whose work schedule or health didn't permit such things are an exception.) (Those parents who chose tv and personal relaxation over their child should be dragged out into the streets and shot, and their children given to GOOD parents.)

Ahem. The point is, more kids would be in better shape physically, and be able to participate in more activities, if they still had a neighborhood school they were allowed to attend.

My kids are grown up now, but whenever I see one of those parents who chose not to participate in his/her child's growing-up years, who chose not to sit in the gym and watch them play, or sing, or act, I still want to wring their disgusting necks.

What's the solution? I don't know. Most teachers would love to be able to once again teach children, not just standards. Most teachers would love to be able to hug and counsel and stay after school to tutor, and make home visits. We don't do those things much any more, because it's too dangerous. Too many crazy parents. Too many litigious people. Too many nutjobs. Too many administrators who view anything other than NCLB and ISTEP as 'dangerous.'

My solutions? Some of you won't like them.

Get rid of the huge consolidations. Bring back small neighborhood schools, with small class sizes and teachers who are allowed to TEACH, not just bring more money to a district by force-feeding children and banking on what's puked back out.

How about making people pass IQ and EI tests before permitting them to reproduce? That would be popular with all things PC, I'm sure.

Okay then. This one thing should take care of everything: Decent Intelligent Administrators Who Care More About Students Than About Politics.

I haven't found any yet. Have any of you?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:07 PM | |

Monday, October 17, 2005

Third street hasn't been the same since. . . . .

Bear's and Mama Bear's are cool, but nothing was ever as cool as Funky's and Fred's.

That eyeball wallpaper. The chastity belts hanging from the ceiling. The weird unisex bathroom in the middle of the dining area, with doors that did not lock. (The sign SAID "Pee at your own risk.")

The wild psychedelic paint.

Everything glowed in the dark.

Half a strom was seventy-five cents.

The whole place smelled like incense and grass.

But then, everything did back then.

Oh, and their pizza was incomparably good, too.

Even so, even so, when Pagliai's opened up downtown, a goodly number of us switched loyalties.

Pagliai's was the first restaurant in Bloomington to have free Coke refills.

Now they all do (except the Irish Lion), but it wasn't always so.

Sometimes I dream about Funky's and Fred's, but in my dream I get free diet coke refills. Then I wake up all disoriented, because there was no such thing as diet Coke back then.

Maybe the concept of chastity belts and endless drink refills just didn't match up.

I mean, if you drank all that diet coke, you'd have to constantly unlock the thing, which would mean it'd be handier to just have your own key, which would pretty much shoot the whole purpose of wearing the belt, now wouldn't it.

That's my theory anyway.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:16 PM | |

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Getting there from here.

Fark. Are we ever too old?

Well, some of us, but not me.

Check this out. I was just there, and then I visited Anacronym and he was just there, too.

I'd participate but I'm not smart enough with the picture stuff.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:06 PM | |

. . . or maybe it's just that I'm older than dirt.

This coming week is the half-way point for the semester, and I'm giving a big midterm exam every day but Monday. Tonight and tomorrow, I'm finally catching up with my grading, and tomorrow night I'll be writing the two big exams, one for each class I'm teaching.

Am I overreacting when I tell you that I'm a little unnerved because so many of my students didn't know what a 'fire escape' was? Or knew that Seattle is a city? Or knew Emma Lazarus's famous poem? Or knew which nursery rhyme character is usually portrayed as an egg?

Or knew that the Statue of Liberty is made of copper? And that's it's green because that's what happens to copper when it's left out in the elements? And that it isn't CARVED?

Or had ever heard of Maya Angelou? Or knew that Eisenhower was a general before he was a president?

Or realized that we really WERE in Korea, and that it wasn't made up for a tv show? And that Evita was a real person, not just Madonna playing herself? Or that New Mexico is part of the United States?

Heaven help us all.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:06 AM | |

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mosquitoes and porn.

I was awakened this morning by a mosquito, gracefully dancing and singing on my eyelid.

I now look like I've been sucker-punched, and the mosquito is burning in hell.

Ah, nature.

And what's with this mosquito in OCTOBER??? Shouldn't they all be dead by now?

Oh, but that would be the mosquitoes who are living outdoors, as Nature intended.

The ones living in my house are fine, thank you, just fine.

Until they land on me and I slap them into oblivion.

My sights are set now on its brother, who likes to sing and dance on my ear. So far he's faster than my reflexes but the day will come when he'll be just that split-second too slow, and then I will smack the life right out of him.

I don't like to think about where they sing and dance when I'm too sound asleep to feel it.

Well, actually, I do know, but I'm not telling.

(adds "Calamine Lotion" to Target list. . . .)

Stupid porn mosquitoes.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:58 PM | |

Friday, October 14, 2005

Education Wonks. Go there. Become enlightened.

I hope you all read Education Wonks daily. His blog is intelligent, knowledgeable, and will keep you up-to-date with all the latest issues in Education. And since education concerns our children, everything about it is important.

To those of us with children, keeping up with educational issues is of vital importance.

To those of us who come in contact with people of any age and kind, well, keeping up with educational issues will give you insight into why they are the way they are.

I read many educational blogs, and they are all good, but Ed's is the one I go to first.

Besides, tonight he's talking about MEEEEEEE. Cuz I rant and stuff in other places besides my own blog, too.

And if anyone has an opinion about what a good principal's qualities should be, tell him! Yes, go visit him and comment, and then go again tomorrow and the next day and the next. Every day his posts are important, and the comments are important. And you as parents and citizens and teachers and doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs need to be sure you know what's going on in your community's schools, and what's going through your children's teachers' heads, and what they're saying about it.

It will affect your kids, and you. And ultimately, the fate of the universe.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:09 PM | |

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Those natural mothering instincts took a while to kick in. . . . .

I loved my babies with an intensity that is impossible to describe. You parents will understand.

The moment I looked at them, touched them, felt their tiny little hearts beating right next to mine, I was hooked.

I knew from that moment that there was nothing they could ever do, or be, or say, or smell like, or emit from any orifice, or cost in terms of cash money or social humiliation, that could ever change this feeling of amazing love.

This being said, I was also terrified that I would break them.

Those tiny flimsy little arms and legs. . . . what if I did something wrong and somehow just snapped those flailing little suckers right off their bodies? Dressing and undressing them, diapering them. . . . I was so afraid of hurting them that some of the joy of having them was gone. . . .

It was better with Zappa, but poor Belle. She was the practice baby.

Germs. I was terrified of germs touching her. I boiled everything. EVERYTHING.

Those colorful toys? Faded now, but germless. I even boiled her wooden blocks. Yep. Boiled the letters of the alphabet right off. We still have them. If you look closely, and if the light is right, you can sort of tell what color they used to be.

With Zappa, that phase didn't last very long. As soon as he started eating leaves, smearing his own poop all over the busy box and the crib bars, and licking the cat's feet, I felt pretty positive about not boiling his germs anymore. He preferred them straight up.

I'm not even going to tell you that I boiled Belle's toys till she was almost two years old. If I told you that, you'd all laugh even harder when you found out that I stopped sterilizing Zappa's things (including his bottles) before he was six months old. So I'm not telling.

And I had absolutely no idea how to go about bathing her.

But I knew that there were "experts" out there who DID know such things, so I consulted them for almost every little detail.

Her first bathtime: June, hot, mother(me) trembling with trepidation. . . .

Baby book open to display diagram of "how to bathe a baby."

Step one. Step two. Step three.

Yes, I laid everything out on the kitchen table and then proceeded to follow that diagram step by step. I went slowly, for fear of skipping a step and therefore maybe doing damage to my baby.

After finishing each step, I went back and read them all again to make very sure I hadn't skipped any steps. Then and only then did I dare move on to the next step.

Poor Belle. By the time her ignorant but well-meaning mother got to Step 10, she was shivering almost uncontrollably, and I was a hormonal mess. Nothing in the chart said anything about the baby getting cold or shivering. What had I done wrong?

Finally, there was a step that told me to wrap a soft towel around the baby. And no, I didn't know enough to do that until a nameless, faceless diagram in a hospital pamphlet told me to do it.

My poor kids. It's a wonder they grew up with their limbs intact and their sensibilities not TOO badly strained. And without TOO many bouts of walking pneumonia

(Walking pneumonia. That means it's okay to take the child to the city and walk around in the wind, right? WALKING pneumonia? Well, that's what we did, but that's another story. . . .)

I meant well, kids.

And that incredible love? It's still there. And there's nothing else that can compare.

It's funny now to remember that I used to think I loved my cat that intensely. Hah. The instant that cat bared a claw on Belle's face, he was out in the yard and he never entered the house again.

Poor cat. He WAS precious. But if I had to choose, it wasn't even close.

Even if the cat DID take care of his own diarrhea. . . .
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:50 PM | |

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Carnival. Menopause. Musicals. Hot flashes.

Click, click, click right HERE to go to this week's Carnival of Education, over at Jenny D's blog. She did a super job of putting it all together! Go tell her so. Click on the teacher blogs and tell 'em what you think.

Most of the time, I wear dark colors. I am very large, and somehow I feel a little teensy bit smaller if I'm wearing black. In reality, of course, the dark colors make me stand out even more and larger against the daylight and the white institutional walls but I pretend not to know that.

Today I wore a pink sweater to school. It's a beautiful sweater and I really like it. A lot. Belle bought it for me and it has sentimental value as well as being just a really pretty sweater. I've been waiting for the weather to turn cooler just so I could wear that pretty sweater.

Several people told me it looked good. But you know what, I have trouble believing that. I am just so used to wearing dark colors, and trying to hide myself away from the truth of my appearance, that when I saw my reflection in the restroom mirror (why must they be so huge and merciless. . . . . . .) I almost jumped out of my skin.

When I wear it again, I hope I remember to wear a little more makeup. I am pale and pasty and the pink emphasized it, except when I had that hot flash and outpinked the sweater.

I hope those go away soon. The one I had this morning turned me so rosy that a man in the class asked me if I was all right.

"Oh sure." said I. "It's just menopause."

Now, why would that get laughs like Jay Leno would kill for?

"Remember when teachers were mysterious?" said one man.

"Yeah, they didn't even have first names. Just a title and a last name." replied a woman.

"I saw my teacher and her husband kiss in the park one time and I almost passed out from shock," said a younger student. "It was like, ewwwwwww."

"I didn't even know my kindergarten teacher had legs till I saw her in the mall one summer," one of the younger ladies said. "I screamed and my mother had a hard time calming me down."

The entire group assured me that if I ever needed any help getting from place to place, or carrying anything, that they'd be glad to help.

How nice of them.

Really, it is, you know. It's just. . . . . .how very nice of them.

There's a huge billboard just south of Indianapolis that is advertising "Menopause: The Musical." Every time we drive past, we start in with the snarky comments.

I wonder if they sell t-shirts. I don't want one, but I bet they're hilarious.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:47 PM | |

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The PowerPoint was about science, so maybe the webcam thing was the biology part.

My three-hour-class was actually a two-hour-class today. We finished the first half of the book up to and including prepositions, and then we stopped. Next week they'll have midterms, so we reviewed a little and I let them go. I was honestly surprised that they seemed to be so eager to leave. (Right.) (But it was PREPOSITIONS! I mean, they're fun!) (My feelings were not hurt.) (I was a little bored too.) (On Tuesdays I am not on the main campus; I'm in a regional building here in my own town.)

Next Tuesday, after they have finished their exam, we're going to walk across the parking lot to Pizza Hut and have a little class party. Yes, I think such things are very important.

After my students left, I walked down the hall to the small computer lab (not to be confused with the large computer lab) and sat down for a minute to check my email. I ended up staying almost two more hours, for the lab is open to the public and on Tuesday afternoons, it's full of senior citizens. Lovely friendly people, all doing research on geneaology, and a few grandchildren playing games.

All of us were having problems with the computers, though. The popups were so bad, nobody could really do much except 'x' them out, over and over.

I downloaded a popup stopper and it helped some, and then I went into the control panel and delted a TON of junk. And then they started asking questions and I answered the ones I knew, and I showed them how to delete their cookies and temporary files, and explained about flash drives and how they could carry their genealogy trees from place to place with one, and told them why they should not download wallpapers and screensavers and little flash games so alive with ads they could give a person a seizure, and phish schemes, and scams, and Nigerian kings. . . .

And they had question after question about computers, and I actually knew the answers to some of them.

When I finally looked at the time, I couldn't believe two hours had gone by.

The director of the center peeked in while we were cleaning out cookies, and was immediately swamped with requests that she set up a computer class for senior citizens, about safety issues with the computers. She is going to look into it.

One man said that ever since he had contacted someone with his same last name overseas, his computer tells him whenever this other man logs on to his computer. He described strange files appearing, and his own disappearing, and his cd tray opening and closing, and email forwards with his own name and the names of people in his address book on them, and strange emails to and from his own address but to someone else. . . . .

It was all so eerily familiar that cold chills were going up and down my spine. I explained to him about hijacking and told him to unplug his computer the minute he got home and to take it to be UNparasited, if that is a word, and it is now. I told him I wanted a full report next Tuesday.

Because yes, I'm going into that little lab again next Tuesday to see how all my 'students' are doing with their cleaned-out computers and with their bad habits of clicking on everything that looks interesting ended. But mostly to make sure my hijacked gentleman has gotten that fixed. Terrible things happen when someone else has control of your computer.

I hope all schools take care to guard against hijacking. I hope all school computer people check their systems regularly and delete the ads and spams and popups and cookies. Surely they do, else why would they be computer guys? But I hope they do more than just know how. I hope those systems are cleaned out every few hours, because every few minutes, people who really don't know any better are clicking on things that look like education or enlightenment or a game to pass the time away, etc, but which are actually ads and octopi that will enter their computer and wrap tentacles around everything, and take over the files and rename things and shuffle things around and reproduce and reproduce some more and eat things and send messages to people under someone else's IP and transfer files and pictures and you-name-it to other computers and just generally make hash and hay out of a hard drive. Whew.

Schools, more than anything else, should take care that their computers are secure. If a child sits down before a monitor, you really don't want "Hi, I'm 18 TODAY and I'm naked in front of my webcam - click here to join me!" popping up. Not that it would, in anybody's PowerPoint presentation or anything. . . . .

That was my morning and afternoon. It was great. I hope yours was, too.

Ciao. Which is pronounced 'chow,' and now I'm hungry.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:41 PM | |

Lessons for us all.

Here I am again, with nothing original to share. My mind is totally elsewhere with worries, so I will give you yet another spam that I liked. Thanks, Mitzi.


Important Lessons

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.

Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached.. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others." Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.

"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. "Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies... You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand! Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it, if it will save her."

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?"

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her. And he was willing to do so.


Other people can always say it way better than I can, anyway.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:01 AM | |

Monday, October 10, 2005

You saw her WHERE? Doing WHAT? Imagine.

Thank you all so very much for all your kind responses to our loss of Linda.

We think we know someone well, but really, we only know a person in the context of our own relationship to him/her.

All the aspects of Linda that I described were just my own perception of her, within the context of family. At the funeral home yesterday, I realized anew that each person there had his/her own relationship with her, defined by a different context. Each perspective is absolutely true. It's just not ALL.

Her grown children and her grandchildren knew her as Mother and Grandma. Her siblings knew her as their sister. Her mother knew her as a daughter. Her neighbors knew her as a generous next-door-or-down-the-road lady who loved to entertain and share her beautiful flowers. Her co-workers knew her as a hard-working woman who did better than her best at every challenge. The community at large knew her as a volunteer, fund-raiser, and active participant in almost every charitable function imaginable. She hobnobbed with politicians and local celebrities. She ate a large percentage of her meals at banquets in her honor. The walls were covered with newspaper articles, ribbons, and all kinds of awards. No one person in that room could possibly have known all there was to Linda, yet we all considered that we knew her well.

The picture show at the mortuary showed Linda in all these different aspects. Listening to the onlookers' comments taught me once again that we never know anybody completely. We only know them in the context of our own relationship with them. There is always more to everyone than meets our own little eye.

When we see someone, anyone, we don't know how they showed kindness to an elderly customer, or opened the door for a wheel-chair-bound co-worker, or ran after a stranger in the street to give them their forgotten package or change, or donated all their lunch money for a month to charity, or cheated someone out of a bonus, or showed cruelty to an innocent victim. We don't know who goes home to violence, a hot supper, NO supper, a cardboard box, a mansion, kind words, screams and pleas, yet another job as caregiver, or all-out war with someone they once loved. People we see every day have "other" lives, and so do we.

It's not that we are all secretive, either. It's just that in one environment, we are one way, and in another, we are another. And so on, and so on, in every environment that we frequent.

As small children, we are blown-away-astonished to see our teacher in the grocery store. That she would be buying toilet paper is not within our limited understanding, and if she has ice cream in her cart it must surely be for the cafeteria at school because SHE'S not going to eat it. Why are there diapers in her cart? Why is she wearing SHORTS and a T-SHIRT with METALLICA on it? Are those TAMPONS in her cart? An iPod in her pocket? It's too much for our sensitive uninitiated little minds to comprehend.

Is that the minister playing golf? Not possible. Old Mr. Smith at the bar? No way. Mr. and Mrs. Jones out there on the dance floor? Not bloody likely. Is the Reynolds boy whose name is on the police log today the same boy who used to deliver our paper every night after school? I just can't believe he'd DO that. He's having an affair? I had no idea. Who woulda thought? He seemed so nice. She seemed so nice. I thought they were happy. I thought he was happy. I thought she was happy. I think I am happy. . . .

Why did that man smile and wave? Who is it? Our DENTIST? I didn't recognize him out of his office! The man at the post office who speaks to us every day? We might have walked right past him if we saw him at the mall.

You can't tell about people from their outsides, as Marilla Cuthbert told Anne.

And just like the old joke says, Inside every fat old woman is a slender young thing screaming "Let me out of this nightmare!!!!!!!!!!"

If you find out how to do that, please let me know, ok?

Update, which I've been doing lately because I think of things after I think I'm finished but I'm not. . . . .

Zinnia is right: that is one hilariously ironic name for a minister. Seriously. Click and look at that pastor's name. Oh, Linda, you must have all of Heaven in stitches!
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:20 PM | |

Friday, October 07, 2005


I've blogged before about Linda, my beautiful sort-of-aunt, who was really more of a friend than anything else. She had cancer, and had been in the newspapers with her hope and her treatments and her splendid positive attitude. I'd post the link again but I just now tried it and the articles are gone.

Linda was the kind of woman we all wish we were. She was kind, and loving, and generous. She worked hard all her life, and she loved her children and her husband and her home. She had more talents than a convention hall full of people. Her laugh could be heard above everyone else's, in a crowded room.

This picture was taken last spring, at the last family reunion. That sweet smiling man at her side is her husband Barth, who is just the sort of man who deserves a woman like Linda. (If any of you have a connection with the Indiana University Medical School in Ft. Wayne, Barth's face will no doubt look familiar. He's a top dog there, but golly, he acts just like a regular person. Only better. And funnier.)

There is so much I could say about Linda. How much we all liked her, and loved her, and wished we could see more of her. How much we admired her, and envied her all the incredible talents she had. How any room that Linda entered suddenly became brighter and more fun and better in every way. How she made us want to strive to BE more and DO more, even while she so obviously loved us just the way we were.

But I think I can best sum up Linda by telling you something about her role in the family.

You see, she's not really an aunt to any of us. Neither is Barth an uncle.

Barth's first wife, the beloved and precious Sharon, was Hub's aunt. When she died suddenly a few years ago, the shock was so great that none of could could believe she was gone. Sharon was so vital and wonderful, it was impossible that she could be gone. Barth was devasted at the loss. We all were.

About a year later, our phone rang. It was Barth.

"Jane, I've fallen in love," were his exact words. Most of me was delighted, but there was that tiny little speck of me that wondered what kind of 23-year-old gold-digging floozy had gotten her hooks into him.

Boy, was I wrong!!!

Linda entered our lives, colorful and fresh and bubbling with love for Barth and for the world.

We were worried that with his new marriage, Barth would no longer want to be part of OUR family. Wrong again. He and Linda fit in with us as though she had been there forever.

Not many women would be comfortable hanging out with her husband's former wife's family. Linda was at ease from day one. She was determined to like us, and we were determined to like her, and to the surprise of us both, we didn't even have to try. It was so easy to love Linda.

I don't think I've ever met a woman with so many perfected talents. There were few things she could not do. I think her talent for putting people at ease and making them feel important was one of her strongest talents.

She had such enthusiasm for life.

In that picture, Linda was planning out her funeral. She was very particular about the music, and she was confident that in this family, any musical preferences would be easily met. She wrote it all out, a script. She wanted this, and this, and this. She did NOT want that, and that, and that.

She joked that she was taking applications for Barth's next wife.

She wasn't depressed. She wasn't sad. She would have loved to live, but since that wasn't going to happen, she was making sure everything about her death was going to be exactly as she dictated.

This weekend, we will find out exactly what those requests were.

I wish I had told her all these things that I am telling all of you. I meant to tell her. I fully intended to tell her. I ran out of time.

We often do, don't we. We put off, and put off, and our intentions are good, but by the time we actually get around to doing something important like telling a beloved friend how we really feel about her, it's too late.

Now. I hope all of you go straight to the phone, or your email, or get out your prettiest stationery, and start telling the people you love exactly how you feel about them. Do it now, while it's on your mind. Don't wait till it's too late.

I did, and I will always regret it.

Linda Kathleen Ragatz. I miss her already.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:46 PM | |

Sex is sex.

The excuses for being absent are a little bit different at the college level. . . . .

This fall, I have four students who will be missing class for a few weeks because they are having hysterectomies. I told them I would scan all the tests and homework, and put them on our class website links.

Some things never change, though. I had a student who missed a week of class because she had her tonsils out. Now, THAT one I've heard a lot!

Tonight's giggle: Chapter 20, Pronouns.

"One of the women brought (her, their) own sack to the picnic."

Answer: "her." "Of the women" is a prepositional phrase and therefore cannot be the subject, so we put it in parenthesis and forget it, except as it gives sex to the pronoun which has the sack.

Antecedent: "One. It is singular, so the pronoun must be singular to match the antecedent."

Student comment: Is the woman giving sex to the pronoun or to the sack?

Student answer: Who cares? Sex is sex. I love this class.

Teacher: So do I.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:45 AM | |

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Shaaaane. . . . come baaaaackkkkk. . . . .

The family room in this house is huge; it's the size of the house minus the garage. It's huge. I hardly ever go down there, except when I do laundry, and the laundry room is just a small part of all that space down there. I just never turn right at the bottom of the stairs; I always go straight to the laundry room.

That family room used to be USED. Every weekend, it was full of kids. Zappa and his friends pre-empted that big room almost every weekend. They came after school on Friday and stayed. And stayed. And stayed. We had three full-sized sofa beds down there, and every Friday night they were pulled out, 'sheeted,' and slept on by all kinds of kids. The surplus slept on the floor in sleeping bags.

I used to buy eight or ten boxes of cereal every week. Milk? At least six gallons. And I couldn't have kids sleeping over at my house without me making "Mommy Doughnuts" for them all. When those kids (who now look amazingly grown up!) visit now, they still talk about homemade pizza. The sweeties. If they'd come over now, I'd make some for them.

The music was blasting. The tv was on, and recording, too. We kept our computer down there then, and all kinds of 'stuff' was going on with that. (It was before I became a computer-addicted nerd, myself; I had no idea what they were doing down there. I do now. Whew, I'm glad I didn't know then!) We had bonfires in the woods. We had bottle rockets blasting off the deck. (the evidence is still there.) We had campouts. We had stargazing. We had spelunking. We had canoeing. We had rafting. You name it, we had it. Or its aftermath.

Spelunking clothes have to go through the machine two or three times.

"Hey Mom, would you make pizza for us?" "Hey Mom, would you make chili for us?" "Hey Mom, could you drive us to Leatherwood Creek?" "Hey Mom. . . . ."

I miss that so much.

At the time, my head would ring from all the requests. Was there no rest for me on weekends?

Hah. Now I have restful weekends and few requests and I'm close to certified crazy from it. I miss it. I want it back.

This is why I borrow other people's kids whenever I get the opportunity. I hate peace and quiet. I hate resting. I hate it when there's no crowd to cook for. I want noise. I want demands.

Just not too many; I'm old now.

If I could go back in time, I'd go back to that period when the kids were in high school and the family room downstairs RANG with noise. It was the best kind of noise: laughter and music and the voices of young people having fun.

Occasionally we would have to forcibly evict someone. That always made me feel bad, but we did have a (very) few rules and one of them was no opposite sex after ten on a school night, or after midnight on a weekend. Zappa and his friends tried me with that one but they lost. You wouldn't BELIEVE how 'forward' some of those girls were! There was one, in particular, I had to almost bully out of the house. Physically.

I also had to phone some moms and ask them to come and get their sons after five or six nights at my house. If they were going to stay that long, I wanted legal custody.

Sometimes those mothers hadn't even know where their sons were. I can not imagine that. I should have just kept their sons forever, and adopted them. It's possible that some of those mothers wouldn't have even known. Or cared. I wish I'd paid closer attention to some of those boys. Because, you know, I really would have kept them forever. . . . .

And now they're all grown up. Some are in the military. Some have families of their own. Some, like Zappa, are still in school. I miss them all.

When Belle and her friends took over the family room, the noise was different. Just as loud, but different. More on that later.

Cuz right now, I'm lost in memory of those boys, and their appetites, and their general silliness.

That room is seldom used now. Hub sits down there and watches tv while he grades math tests, but I never go in there. For one thing, I don't watch tv. For another, all my old classroom stuff is piled up in one corner.

The main reason, though, is that it makes me sad now. It's quiet in there.

This house is too quiet. I hate that. Maybe that's why I turn the music up so LOUD when I'm alone.

That, and being an aging hippie.

Update: Yes, sometimes it WAS hard. Hub, especially, resented the loss of privacy. It didn't bother me all that much as I grew up with no privacy, but he was an only child and really likes to crawl back in a cave once in a while. I don't. I like the noise. I like people. But even if I didn't, I would still rather be the mom giving the slumber party than the mom getting the phone call. Or worse: no phone call.

And please go visit the Carnival of Education!!!! It's like voting: if you don't do it, you've got no right to whine, later.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:30 AM | |

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nuts and balls.

I am so tired of walking on nuts. I'm tired of hearing them flop and fall all over the place. I'm tired of a constant barrage of nuts trying to dent the car.

I'm tired of my ankles turning because of the nuts. I'm tired of not being able to mow over all the nuts and fling them towards someone else's yard.

Everywhere I turn, it's nuts, nuts, nuts.

I can't even walk without stepping on nuts and tripping.

I'm reminded of a fall drive we once took, when the kids were small. We drove past a farm, and as usual slowed down so the kids could see the animals. In this case, pigs. Huge pigs. Huge male pigs. Huge male pigs who could hardly walk. And why, you might ask, couldn't the huge male pigs walk around in their pen?

Same reason nobody can walk around in this yard. They kept stepping on their darn nuts.

The kids still talk about that trip. Well, not the TRIP, per se, but the sights. That one, in particular.

We used to have the same problem with balls, but that, like this, was purely seasonal.

Bring it on, Google.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:33 PM | |

Monday, October 03, 2005

Music and pie. And snakes.

The Monday afternoon random playlist:

1. Barenaked Ladies - If I Had A Million Dollars
2. Great Big Sea - When I Am King
3. "Tommy" - Go To The Mirror/Listening To You
4. Yuko Sasaki - Listening To The Sound of Rain
5. The Klezmatics & Moxy Fruvous - Shprayz Ik Mir
6. A Static Lullaby - The Shooting Star That Destroyed Us All
7. Save Ferris - Build Me Up Buttercup
8. Cake - Symphony in C
9. Bryan Ferry - Dance With Life
10. Bruce Cockburn - The Coldest Night of the Year
11. Wilco - Muzzle of Bees
12. They Might Be Giants - If I Wasn't Shy
13. Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique
14. Jack Cassidy & Shirley Jones - Girl Land
15. The Chieftains & Mick Jagger - Long Black Veil
16. Animaniacs - The Monkey Song
17. The King's Singers - Bugeilo'r Gwenith Gwyn (Watching The White Wheat)
18. Green Day - Pop Rocks and Coke
19. Manic Street Preachers - Take The Skinheads Bowling
20. SNL Cast - Recurring Characters For Unity

Ah, another odd mix.

How lovely to bounce about from one extreme to the other, in little three-minute-or-so time frames, all at mega-decibels because I had the house to myself for several hours. I've turned it down NOW, of course. But when it's just me, it's really me and mega-decibel surround sound, and the four walls of the house are breathing in and out, in and out, just like in the cartoons.

You can do that when you live way out in the country.

I suppose you can do it in town, too, but I don't think all your neighbors would appreciate it. Some, but not all.

Mmmmmm. . . . Elgar. Cello concerto.

More essays turned in today. The grammar and spelling are so bad, you wouldn't believe me if I posted some of them here. Fortunately, I had a witness. Otherwise, people would think I made this stuff up.

I saw a snake today, for the first time since we built this house next to the snake-haven of next door, where we lived for twelve years. It was a tiny thing, maybe six or seven inches long, and it was trying to climb up a smooth stone wall right by the garage door. It finally gave up, slithered away, and disappeared among the thick weeds around the driveway apple tree.

It was pale gray, with darker gray stripes, from tip to tip. I have no idea what kind it was. I don't need to know. If it ever comes back, I will crush the life out of it with whatever kind of shoes I am wearing at the time. And don't give me the "they are useful, they eat bugs, etc" speech. I know it. I agree. A good distance away from the house, they are free to slither and devour bugs and hiss and give each other the raspberries as much as they want. But when they slither near my house, they are marked for death. Somehow I feel he was alone. Probably he'd heard the rumors and just wanted to check them out. He'll find out for sure if he ever comes back.

Hub is downstairs watching AMC grading math tests. I am upstairs grading essays blogging. Occasionally, one of us will shout something to the other. We can't hear each other from this distance, so the shoutee will get up, walk to the top/bottom of the staircase, and ask for a repeat. This will occur seven or eight times in an hour or so. We'd get an intercom system but the exercise is good for us.

The Beatles. Golden Slumbers. Beautiful.

I wonder if we have enough apples for a pie. . . . .

There's persimmon pulp in the freezer but I was saving that for closer to the holidays.

I don't eat either but I look as though I do. I do love to make pies and pretty desserts, but I got fat on pizza and hamburgers, not sweets.

Speaking of which. . . . .
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:17 PM | |

Sunday, October 02, 2005

That is how hot I am.

A few days ago, as I was mowing the grass, the blades quietly and without explanation quit going round and round, so I drove back into the garage and gave up, too.

Tonight, Hub and Zappa took the blades off to sharpen them, and what they found were four very dull blades, three of which were bent at 90-degree angles on the tips, just as though they'd started to, well, MELT or something.

They are now accusing me of trying to mow over boulders and stumps. This is absolutely not true, but the more I swear I didn't, the more they laugh.

I have no idea how that could have happened.

The yard is full of geodes and various kinds of nuts, but nothing that could have bent steel blade-tips like that.

There's a limestone quarry down the road but I swear I never rode that mower down there.

I might have run over the garden hose a few times but it's soft and gave up the ghost without a struggle.

The big tarp gave me a few more problems but after I sawed the twisted segments off the blades with a steak knife, those blades twirled as nicely as you please.

No, the only answer to this enigma is that those heavy steel blades succumbed to the hotness of the driver.


Well, it's the only explanation I can come up with, short of admitting that yes, I laid down on my back on the concrete floor of the garage, and, one at a time, bent three heavy steel blade-tips downward with a pair of Dollar Tree pliers, just for fun.

I hope you are all still reading as many Forbidden Books as you possibly can. Banned Book Week is over now, but that doesn't mean we can stop thinking about the travesty and horror of censorship.

Heaven forbid that we think thoughts nobody ever thought before. . . . .
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:40 PM | |

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Willkie Co-op: the shirt.

This is the first day of October, so there are now two pumpkins on my front porch. In the middle of October I will gut them, toast their seeds, and carve amateurish smiling faces on them, but right now they are part of the feng shui of my porch. They look right nice there in front of the furnace filter that was the wrong size which has been leaning against the outer wall for so long all the cardboard wrapping has dissolved, and beside the weedeater that has been leaning against the park bench since months ago when it tried to devour my legs. The neon pink discarded flea collar on the bench is also a nice, colorful touch. I think maybe I'll dress the weedeater like a scarecrow. Don't anybody tell House Beautiful; I don't want photographers and reporters running in and out of my house, annoying us as we lounge in sheer sophistication in our flannel jammie pants and ancient t-shirts from the dorm. Besides, the shock might kill some of those people. I mean, there is nothing white in my house, except for the refrigerator, and you can't really see that any more for all the magnets. We do still hide wine behind the Corn Flakes on top of the 'fridge, though, even now that everybody's over 21. Before, it was so they couldn't see it and ask questions and maybe sample some and get sick, and the ER doctor would call CPS on us. Now it's so we don't have to share.

There is also one red sneaker of unknown origin on my front porch. I looked for its mate a few minutes ago when I was washing down the siding with a regular garden hose and a 97-cent "SUPER WASHER NOZZLE" from WalMart, but I didn't find it.

The nozzle spray washed off the dust and pissed off the spiders but other than that, the siding is still dirty. Rent-A-Center, here we come. Sigh.

Soon it will be time to trim the holly. Does anybody want some? It's extra-lush this year, and we have more than we've ever had. Free. Come on over. You can gather some walnuts and hickory nuts and pawpaws while you're here. Help yourselves. It's hard to walk in the yard right now with all those lumps all over it. And the deer are so thick, and so fearless and pushy, it wouldn't surprise me if I found some in the kitchen one morning, frying eggs and whispering about how the bread seems a little stale and did you notice the crumbs in the butter. . . .

It occurs to me, also, that I have been blogging for so long now (a year and a half!) that I find myself writing about seasonal things that I wrote about a year ago! This makes me happy, because I'm still here and still blogging, and it also tells me that maybe I am more consistent about some things than I realized. It gives me a sense of continuity about my life; this time last year I wrote about pumpkins, fall, etc, and I'm doing the same this year.

This time last year, I was sick with worrying about losing our house; this year we are still in our house. We're still living on the edge of desperation, but we're still in our house!!!!

This time last year I was beginning a new job for the first time in 26 years. This year, I blog about my job as a matter-of-fact thing, loving almost every minute of it still, and grateful beyond words to have it, but it's no longer brand-new. This, too, is a grand and wonderful thing to me.

This time last year I was a nervous wreck. This year, I feel surrounded by friends, I have a job that I LOVE, and I know for a fact that good people are all around us.

If I seem to repeat myself on this blog now, it's because old people tend to repeat themselves it's come full circle. This blog may be a year and a half old, but this blog really came to life a year ago, in the fall. It came to life when lovely, friendly people started reading it, and telling me so. I thank you all.

All of life is a wonder, but good friends, near or far, are the most wonderful of all.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:40 PM | |


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