Friday, February 29, 2008

I Spread A Little Sunshine On My Way, To Make You Blithe and Bonny and Gay

Happy Leap Day.

Did you really expect something ordinary from me on Leap Day? I bet not.

Fractured Fairy Tales were creative and innovative and well-written and genuinely funny. They were filled with witty innuendo and brilliant puns and sarcasm. The smarter you were, the more you got out of them. Most cartoons these days are nothing but long infomercials for action figures and soon-to-be-released movies, and you don't need any kind of prior knowledge to just sit there like a ventriloquist's dummy and watch.

But Fractured Fairy Tales? They made a kid want to get a Thesaurus in his/her stocking on Christmas morning.

I mean, a kid who wasn't very smart didn't know the difference between a bore and a boar isn't going to get a lot out of this one. A kid had to have a good vocabulary to 'get' a Fractured Fairy Tale.

Those were the days. Too bad everybody is so worried about political correctness to dare put out a truly funny cartoon these days. For kids, I mean. There are some great ones out there for adults.

And was there ever a better narrator than the great Edward Everett Horton? I think not.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:05 PM | |

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In The Mood For Cultural Enrichment

I was in one of my intellectual moods last night, so I decided to watch "Tommy Boy." I'd never seen it all the way through, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed its silliness.

Oh, all right, I wasn't surprised. Sometimes, I just want to watch something that makes me laugh.

The only part of it I'd seen before was when Farley and Spade were driving down the highway singing "It's The End of the World As We Know It" and "Eres Tu" at the top of their lungs. I've always liked "Eres Tu," even though many people have never heard of it.

Well, now you have.

I mean, if Tommy and Richard know it. . . .

Spade and Farley were a great pair. The SNL "Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker" skits they used to do were inimitable. You don't have to look closely at Spade to see that he's absolutely cracking up at Farley's hilarity.

I've never seen "Titanic," either. Maybe tonight's the night.

Nah. I'm still feeling, um, "intellectual."

"Moonstruck" it is. I need something light and lovely and funny. Then again, it's not without its genuine cultural enrichment, either. Also, John Mahoney is really hot for an old guy.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:26 PM | |

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Brantley" is a Dog's Name

"Strange dear, but true dear, when I'm close to you dear, the stars fill the sky, so in love with you am I. . . ."

. . because, golly gee-whiz, how can you not fall madly in love with this man? And haven't we all wanted to say something like this to stupid people? Especially stupid parents, since they're the very worst of the lot?

I love their family, too. Besides, "Brantley" is a dog's name. Seriously. AND, it's even stupider if it's spelled "Brantleigh."

No offense meant to anyone who chose a dog's name for a child. When you've been teaching for so many years, you hear some astoundingly ridiculous names.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:34 PM | |

Two Students: A Contrast. And Then Some More Opinionated Rants.

I always have an interesting mix of students in my classes now, but this semester, the mix is amazing. It's, it's, it's. . . FANTASTIC. I love it! These students are AMAZING!

Last fall, I had a student enrolled in my Intro Writing class who showed up for the first time in Week Four, after missing three essays and countless class activities and quizzes. Her excuse? She'd been in Cancun and just couldn't bear to leave, even though she knew the semester had started. During the fall semester, she went to Hawaii and to Canada with her family, all during class time. She also missed a lot due to sore throats and headaches; she just didn't feel fit to drive when she was sick.

Then, this semester began, and my students are awesome! Seriously, I love these classes more than I've ever loved a mix of personalities in a classroom. The discussions and conversations and questions and comments are fantastic; this student mix absolutely ROCKS. Then, the third week of class, guess who walked in.

Yeah, she'd been on a road trip with her family and they just didn't get back in time for the semester's start.

She came to class the next week, too. Without her essay, though, because she'd had a sore throat.

Then, she stopped coming to class again, until yesterday. Yesterday, she walked through the door with a shit-eating grin and a list of excuses that included more sore throats and oh, yes, um, she'd been in Vegas.

My students, at this point in this class, have written five essays and have taken one test and eight quizzes. This student has nothing but zeros; she's done NOTHING! I advised her to see the registrar and drop, and try again next semester, and possibly see a doctor about having her tonsils removed. She doesn't want to do that, so we'll see what happens. Actually, I know what's going to happen, but I don't want to sound meaner than I already sound.

On the other hand, all the other students have been here every single time, including the terrible ice storm day when we sent them all straight back home before they all died. I have one student who deserves a post of her own; she's lived through unbelievable heartache and stress, desertion and tragedy, and has overcome it and is making a new life for herself. I have such admiration for her, it's indescribable. If I tell you that being purchased from a reservation orphanage, as a child, for a carton of cigarettes, and raised by a woman who disciplined her by burning her with various substances, are probably the least of her traumas, it might help you to comprehend something of her life. Then again, her life is beyond the comprehension of most of us. I love this woman; she's the most inspirational person I've ever met in real life. Oh, and she's never missed a day of class. Plus, her essays are possibly the most interesting I've ever read. My younger students hang on to her every word.

The public schools are really missing out on some awesome possibilities in countless ways, but one of them is in their insistence on grouping students according to age. Even when a kid can't do the work, the school will pass them on because the ages must be together at all times. When the ages are mixed, everyone learns far more from each other because there are so many points of view. A professor's lesson can be interpreted and shared among generations, giving them a common point of view based on diversity. Plus, it's really helpful to all generations when younger and older students are mixed. Younger students look up to older students, and when the older students are adults, well, let's just say it's really good for young people to hear the opinions of older people who are not their parents. Vice versa for the older students: it's good for older people to hear the opinions of younger students who are not their own children. It gives all parties INSIGHT. A public school won't have mixed generations, but it might have mixes from two to ten years, and each has something important to teach the other. Keeping them separated prevents the sharing of knowledge.

It might also prevent the sharing of fists and sperm, but if a school and a community is willing to put up with such behaviors, that would be their choice, wouldn't it.

Assuming that a roomful of twelve-year-olds is going to work simply because they're all twelve is a ridiculous assumption. Some of those twelve-year-olds have the brains and maturity of a forty-year-old, while others are still playing with action figures between classes, spitting jello through a straw during lunch, and generally functioning down at the kindergarten level in both brains and maturity.

I've maintained for years that classrooms full of ability-levels are the best way to go. Nobody would be rushed, and nobody would be held back and have to spend the school day waiting, waiting, waiting, tutoring in the hallway, and waiting. Unfortunately, my opinion is not shared by anybody with any kind of power to make a change. Plus, parents of kids who would then be grouped with younger kids are totally against it, for reasons that have nothing to do with the self-esteem of their child, who would benefit from such a placement, but are totally based on the self-esteem of the parents themselves, which shouldn't have anything to do with what's good for a child.

As for discipline problems in such a mix, they might be diminished if each kid is being served according to his actual qualifications, and a GOOD school doesn't allow severe discipline problems to remain anyway. Throw the bums out.

Not opinionated much, am I. Plus, self-esteem is 100% meaningless unless it is honestly EARNED.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:05 PM | |

Amazing Grace


Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:34 AM | |

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Strike Up The Band

Being a marching band, a cappella, AND Gershwin fan, I found this performance absolutely enchanting.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:56 PM | |

BlogAds Dumped Me

I've had BlogAds for a long time, and I liked them. I never got any money from them, but I liked thinking that I was helping a small business or individual advertise. I've let friends advertise on there for free, even.

Apparently, however, BlogAds didn't much like me. Why do I think that BlogAds didn't like me? Because they dumped me.

I got an email from Christopher, of BlogAds, informing me that I've been ditched because BlogAds didn't like their placement. He sent me an example of a blog with proper placement, and it was exactly the same placement I had. I've moved the BlogAds spot all over my sidebars, imitating the placement of other blogs' BlogAds, and I guess nothing was good enough.

Yesterday, I got a check from them, so apparently I've been cashed out and discarded. I feel so. . . cheap. And, ridiculous though this may be, sad.

Being discarded is never any fun, even when it's total strangers whose directives made no sense, and the loss really makes no difference in one's life.

Goodbye then, BlogAds. I'll remove your icon from my sidebar since you don't want me any more.

I would have advertised almost anything for you, if only you had asked me. But you didn't ask me.

Got BlogAds? You'd better check your placement. I moved mine all over the sidebars for them, but it was never good enough. That's how they getcha.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:36 PM | |

Imperial Rhapsody

Once again, something that's been floating around the internet for a good long time. I used to teach my study hall kids to sing this.

Imperial Rhapsody

(sung to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen)

Lando: This is the good life
This is a fantasy
Working on Bespin
An escape from Reality.

Leia: Open your eyes
Stand up to their guys and see.

Luke: I'm just a farm boy, I need some sympathy
Cuz who's my dad, I dunno
Little whine, little moan.

Han: Anywhere the Force goes, doesn't really matter, to me

Piett: Vader just killed a man.
Raised an arm up in the air
Now his life's no longer there.
Vader, we had just begun,
And now I've gone and lost the reb-el scum.
Vader, oooooooo.
Didn't mean to make you mad
If I'm not alive again this time tomorrow,
There'll be a new admiral, as if nothing ever happened.

Yoda: Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine
Body's aching all the time.

Luke: Goodbye everybody, I've got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and learn the Force.

Piett: Vader, ooooooooooo,
I don't wanna die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.

Luke: I see a little silhouetto of a man
Palpatine, Palpatine, can it be the Emperor?
Thunderbolts and lightning, very very hurting me!
R2-D2, R2-D2,
R2-D2, R2-D2,
R2-D2, Where'd ya go? C-3PO O O O O O OH!
I'm just a farmboy, nobody loves me.

ebels: He's just a farmboy, with a dead family.
Spare him this life of such mundacity!

Han: Spice'll come, spice'll go. Jabba let me go.

Jabba: Boo shuda! (NO, we will not let you go)

Han: Let me go!

abba: Bo shuda! (We will not let you go)
Han: Let me go!

Jabba: Bo shuda! (We will not let you go)







C-3PO: Oh R2-D2, R2-D2, R2-D2, Come along.

Leia: C-3PO has a rebel put aside for meeee, for meeee. for MEEEEEEEEEE!

(Stormtroopers start headbanging)

Luke: So you say you're the dear old dad of mine?
But you cut my hand off and left me to die!
Oh Vader, can't do this to me, Vader.
I know there's some good, I know there's still some good in you.

Obiwan: May the Force be with you.
Use the Force to see.
May the Force be with you,
May the Force be with you, alwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaays.

Han: Anywhere the Force goes, doesn't really mat-ter, to meeeeeeeeeee.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:26 PM | |

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Prayer For Children

A Prayer for Children
by Ina J. Hughes

We pray for children who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak Popsicles before supper
who erase holes in their math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who never go to the circus,
who never "counted potatoes,"
who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead near,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury the goldfish,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
who cover themselves with Band-Aids and sing off-key,
who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean,
whose pictures are not on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We pray for children who spend their allowances before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church or temple
and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at,
and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children who want to be carried
and for those who must.
For those we never give up on, and
for those who don't get a second chance.
For those we smother,
and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it. . . .

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:17 PM | |

Precipitancy Creates Prodigality.

I love language. This wordy linguistic list of "sayings" has been around for a long time; I started using it with my students back in the late seventies. It's all over the web now. I've got one for nursery rhymes, too; when I find it I'll post some of it here.

Actually, I'm going through all of my files - actual file cabinet files made of paper and stored in manila folders with labels made of tape that is rotting and falling apart - and discarding things, storing things online, and just generally kind of living the past. This isn't good for me, so I'm hurrying to get it done.

I need the storage space; there's a file cabinet in the laundry room that I've avoided for four years and two more in the garage. I haven't looked inside THOSE in twenty years. There are probably raccoons dwelling in them. If any of you teach and live nearby, come on over and help yourselves to the piles of quizzes and tests and worksheets and handouts and novelty "thinker" stuff. It's all original, except, of course, for the cool stuff I stole borrowed from other teachers and secret places. Teachers don't explain about the secret places.

I never used, and still don't use, a teacher's edition. I figured that if the teacher didn't already know the answers to everything in the textbook just by looking, then maybe that teacher has no business standing in front of learners pretending he/she's an expert in the subject. I work all the problems and fill in all the blanks, etc, myself. Besides, half the time, the answers in a teacher's edition are wrong. I can understand better how the students see the book when I am looking at the exact same book myself. But that's just how I do it.

I also hated book tests, quizzes, and worksheets. I wrote mine myself.

Anyway. . . living in the past. . . get over it. . . .

I have to use the college's tests and quizzes now, but they are extremely good and I don't mind. In fact, the textbooks I use are absolutely amazingly excellent and I love them. It's too bad so many of our public schools go with the lowest bidder or somebody's uncle when it's textbook selection time. Almost every time I was on one of those committees, the books we agreed on were never the ones we ended up with. The choice had already been made by "somebody" in administration, and those selection committees were jokes. Parents, when it's selection time at your child's school, call and TELL them you want to be on that committee, and that you and your friends will be checking back to make sure the committee's selection is the one your child ends up with. It won't do any good; the kickback is terrible in many schools, but it will let 'em know that you're WATCHING.

See how many of these you can get, WITHOUT using a dictionary and without looking elsewhere on the 'net cheating.

1. Similar sire, similar scion.

2. Tenants of vitreous abodes ought to hurl no lithoidal fragments.

3. It is not proper for mendicants to be indicatrous of preferences.

4. Compute not your immature gallinaceans prior to their being produced.

5. It is fruitless to become lacrymous because of scattered lacteal fluid.

6. Glean gramineous matter for fodder during the period that the orb of the day is refulgent.

7. Pulchritude does not extend below the surface of the derma.

8. Not all coruscating articles are fashioned from aureate metal.

9. Each canine passes through his period of pre-eminence.

10. Freedom from guile or fraud constitutes the most excellent principle of procedure.

11. Consolidated, you and I maintain ourselves erect; separated, we defer to the law of gravity.

12. You cannot estimate the value of the contents of a bound, printed narrative or record from its exterior vesture.

13. Folks deficient in ordinary judgment scurryingly enter areas on which celestial beings dread to set foot.

14. A feathered creature clasped in the manual members is equal in value to a brace in the bosky growth.

15. The individual of the class Aves, arriving before the appointed time, seizes the invertebrate animal of the group Vermes.

16. Socially oriented individuals tend to congregate in gregariously homogeneous groupings.

17. One may address a member of the Equidae family toward aqueous liquid, but one is incapable of compelling him to quaff.

18. Forever refrain from enumerating the dental projections of a bequeathed member of the Equidae family.

19. One Pyrus Malus per diem restrains the arrival of the Hippocratic apostle.

20. Fondness for notes of exchange constitutes the tuberous structure of all satanically inspired principles.

21. Supposing one primarily fails to be victorious: bend further efforts in that direction.

22. Be adorned with the pedal encasement that gives comfort.

23. Prudence and sagacity are the worthier condiments of intrepid courage.

24. He who expresses merriment in finality expresses merriment excellent either in equal quality.

25. A beholden vessel never exceeds 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

26. A rotating lithoidal fragment never accrues bryophytic plants.

27. Everything is legitimate in matters pertaining to ardent affection and armed conflict between nations.

28. Exercise your visual faculty prior to executing a sudden transition in podiatrous position.

29. An excess of individuals skilled in the preparation of edibles impairs the quality of the fluid porridge-like fatty deposits retained in the vessel for steeping purposes.

30. An over-avid thirst for knowledge destroyed the life substances of a small, soft-furred, flesh-eating mammal often domesticated and kept as a companion.

31. A person who seldom has occasion to utilize his mental processes, plus his units of current exchange, are very shortly required to depart each other's company.

32. Circumstances sometimes compel a person who lives by relieving others of property and units of current exchange to seize and control one of his own kind.

33. An opportune application of a well-honed steel sliver penetrated by a fine, stringlike length of spun cotton preserves one from similar applications of an odd composite number.

Let me know how it went?

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:13 AM | |

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Are You Ready for the Professional Working World?

This quiz has been floating around the internet for a long, long time. I used to give this test to my 8th graders at the end of the year. You will not be surprised to learn that most of them. . . . passed it.

The quiz consists of four questions that will gauge whether or not you are qualified to be a professional. SCROLL DOWN for the answers. There is no need to cheat. There is NEVER a need to cheat. The questions are not that difficult. You just need to think like a truly educated professional. This is not a "joke test."

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

Answer: Open the refrigerator door, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether or not you are doing simple things in a complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Incorrect answer: Open the refrigerator door, put in the elephant, and close the door.

Correct answer: Open the refrigerator door, remove the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This question tests your foresight, and your ability to think about the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?

Answer: The elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. This tests if you are capable of comprehensive thinking.

4. There is a river wherein dwell thousands of crocodiles. How do you cross it safely?

Answer: Simply swim through it. All the crocodiles are attending the animal meeting. This question tests your reasoning ability.

So. . . .

If you answered four out of four questions correctly, you are a true professional. Wealth and success await you, and rightly so.

If you answered three out of four, you have some catching up to do, but there's hope for you. You can do it!

If you answered two out of four, consider a career as a hamburger flipper in a fast food joint. I mean, REALLY!

If you answered one out of four, try selling some of your organs. It's probably the only way you will ever make any money.

If you didn't get ANY correct answers at all, consider a career that does not require any higher mental functions at all, such as law or politics.

Studies have shown that 90% of managers/administrators tested got all four questions wrong. However, many preschoolers got all four answers correct. This pretty much disproves the theory that most administrators have the brains of a four-year-old.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:17 PM | |

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Antediluvian Kings, Donovan, and Me

I was in high school when Donovan released "Atlantis." I was already obsessed with interested in mythology, and this song struck a chord with me that is still resonating.

"Atlantis" was on the "B" side of "To Susan on the West Coast Waiting," which I also liked a lot.

Do I need to explain about a record's "A" side and "B" side? Yes? No? Well, let me know.

Atlantis, by Donovan

The continent of Atlantis was an island
which lay before the great flood
in the area we now call the Atlantic Ocean.
So great an area of land, that from her western shores
those beautiful sailors journeyed
to the South and the North Americas with ease,
in their ships with painted sails.

To the East Africa was a neighbour, across a short strait of sea miles.
The great Egyptian age is but a remnant of The Atlantian culture.
The antediluvian kings colonised the world
All the Gods who play in the mythological dramas
In all legends from all lands were from fair Atlantis.
Knowing her fate, Atlantis sent out ships to all corners of the Earth.
On board were the Twelve:
The poet, the physician, the farmer, the scientist,
The magician and the other so-called Gods of our legends.
Though Gods they were -
And as the elders of our time choose to remain blind
Let us rejoice and let us sing and dance and ring in the new
Hail Atlantis!
Way down below the ocean where I wanna be she may be,
Way down below the ocean where I wanna be she may be,
Way down below the ocean where I wanna be she may be.
Way down below the ocean where I wanna be she may be,
Way down below the ocean where I wanna be she may be.
My antediluvian baby, oh yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah,
I wanna see you some day
My antediluvian baby, oh yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah,
My antediluvian baby,
My antediluvian baby, I love you, girl,
Girl, I wanna see you some day.
My antediluvian baby, oh yeah
I wanna see you some day, oh
My antediluvian baby.
My antediluvian baby, I wanna see you
My antediluvian baby, gotta tell me where she gone
I wanna see you some day
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, oh yeah
Oh glub glub, down down, yeah. . . .

P.S. Yes, I am familiar with Futurama's "The Deep South." However, I was fully aware it was a parody. Were you?

Check out this video.

Now, sing along with this one.

Now, ask your teenagers if they know what "antediluvian" means.


Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:01 AM | |

Friday, February 22, 2008

It Is A Terrible Thing Not To Become A Woman When One Ceases To Be A Girl

<--That's my son. He's 27 years old, but whenever I think of him, this is one of the images my mind instantly focuses on. He was born with a full head of bright red hair; his hair was so bright, I could hear people in the hospital nursery hallway commenting about it. "Didja see that one kid with the red hair?" "Will you look at the redhead over there?" I lay in my bed and smiled. Not only had I seen the redheaded baby, I was going to take him home with me and keep him forever.

I'd had Zappa in only twenty minutes; Hub had dropped me off at the emergency room door and I had the baby while my husband was parking the car. When he came running back inside, he found me and the doctor standing in the hallway admiring the baby through the window. This was before the days when new mothers had got to spend every waking moment with their new baby. Sometimes I think it was better that way; it was like having training wheels for a day or two before we were expected to ride that new adult-sized bike all by ourselves, with the occasional "Look Ma, no hands" stints that we all love so much as parents. Our babies were brought to us every couple of hours, and were then taken back to the nursery so we could get some genuine rest. Did we "bond?" Of course we did. We just didn't need to "bond" in front of everybody, and a woman would have to be nuts not to take advantage of the naptime. OUR naptime, that is. Once we had the baby home, we weren't going to be doing much of ANY kind of sleeping for a long, long, long, long, long time. As in. . . YEARS.

Having babies isn't what I'd call a "comfy, pain-free hobby," but it's also not the horror a lot of older women paint it to be, and usually in front of a young pregnant woman. (Why do they DO THAT? How insensitive!) I had no trouble spittin' them out - did I mention the 20 minutes? - and while I know most women aren't that lucky, I do wonder at the low tolerance for pain some people demonstrate in public.

My hospital roommate for Zappa's birth was a woman I still refer to as "The Big Sissy." She wept and screamed and required the company of her husband, her mother, her sisters, her bestest friends, and countless numbers of churchy acquaintances throughout her entire labor. This meant, back then, that while SHE had company, I couldn't. Them was da rules. And when they finally did take her away to another room to have her baby - thank Heaven - she practically had a camera crew in there with her to record her every scream, groan, spasm, fart, poop, and vaginal tear for all posterity. After her baby finally came, she then needed her husband to stay with her every second to COMFORT her and be WITH her, and her mother to remind her that she'd been through a terrible experience and needed rest and a lot of babying herself, which meant I couldn't have MY baby in the room with me.

I hated that Big Sissy then and I hate her now, 27 years later.

I made do, though. I spent most of my time in the hallway looking at his beauty: my son, the redheaded one in the corner crib, the pretty one, the baby who made all the other newborns look like either Winston Churchill or the wrong end of a cow.

The Big Sissy's baby, for example, looked like the love child of Mr. Potato Head and Linda Tripp. In fact, The Big Sissy looked a lot like Linda Tripp. I hated her. I also hated her horrible mother and her ugly husband and the parade of dowdy women who were kneeling all over the floor giving God advice about how He should look after The Big Sissy and her baby.

Where was their consideration for The Big Sissy's roommate? There wasn't any.

Hub could not get off work to take us home from the hospital; this did NOT make me cry nor did it traumatize either of us in any way. Stuff happens, and we deal with it. Sheesh. My mother picked us up and even stopped at the grocery store on the way home so I could run in and buy some things.

With Belle, I'd been so afraid of pain that I agreed to a spinal; this, of course, knocked me flat on my back for about a week, which meant that other people gave my baby her first bath, her first burpie, her first. . . well, lots of things. I listened too much and I read too much and I believed everything and everyone. I was afraid of everything. Most of all, I was afraid of myself; what if I, in my ignorance, somehow did something wrong and the baby would cry? Or. . . die? Seriously, I was that stupid.

The second time, I was smarter. Also, there wasn't time for anything anyway, so I just had the baby and made fun of The Big Sissy and dealt with life as it came my way. It was a far superior way than the first.

So, what's the moral of this story? Do I have to have one? I'll drag a few in by the hind legs and say that it might be "Embrace life - don't hide from it. FEEL things. Laugh at yourself and others; to hell with self esteem. Pity the Big Sissies, but don't make excuses for them, and for God's sake don't be one of them. Be aware of people and don't let any whiny selfishness intrude upon the rights of someone else. Be an adult. Buck up and show some spunk. Don't let others make an invalid of you. Get up. Let others watch the baby once in a while so you can get some sleep. Motherhood is full of pain; get used to it and don't whine and cry your way through it. Motherhood is full of joy; focus on that part. And did I mention "grow up?"

It is a terrible thing not to become a woman when one ceases to be a girl.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:57 PM | |

Old Man Winter Can't Make Up His Mind

We're having another ice storm again. All the local schools were dismissed before noon today, and there's no school tomorrow. I hope my one remaining weeping willow tree can stand up to the icy onslaught. Its brother/sister/partner/roommate/neighbor/pick one willow went down in the ice storm we had LAST week.

This really is the weirdest winter in my long, long, long, long memory. One day we're having a blizzard. Then it's in the seventies. Then we have a wind advisory. Then it's in the sixties. Then we have an ice storm. Then it's in the seventies again. Then we have more wind advisories. Then it's in the teens, but the sun is shining brightly. Then we have rain, pouring torrents of rain. Then it's in the twenties. Then it's in the sixties again. And today, another ice storm.

I do like to hear the crackling pellets of ice hitting the house, though. Especially when I don't have to go out into the cold.

I'm not too worried. It's freezing cold and we're being pelted with ice and the roads are like mirrors, but by Saturday it will probably be in the seventies again.

Belle and Zappa: Mommy says you don't have to go to school or work tomorrow. Do you hear me, children? Stay home. Tell the boss Mommy SAID.

My apple tree and flowering shrubs have tried to bud several times since Christmas. The ground alternates between being frozen solid and being so soft and swampy, the van's tires sank about six inches and I almost didn't make it out of there. (I drive across the yard to the deck in the back of the house and dump off the groceries so I don't have to lug them up the stairs.)

That little golden kitten that hangs out on my deck is looking wistfully through the French doors again, but she won't come in. She looked so cold and bedraggled tonight. I have three cats and I don't want or need another one but on a night like this, I'd let her sleep inside with my girls, if she'd come inside. I hope she's all right tonight.

Jack Frost is dancing on my roof. He don't gots no rhythm.

The poor crocuses must be really confused.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:54 AM | |

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

Hey y'all, don't forget to take your kids out in the back yard tonight and show them the LUNAR ECLIPSE!

There won't be another sight like this for a while.

Let's all cross our fingers for a clear night.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:07 PM | |

Keeping and Using Peter Pan

I've posted before about my peanut butter and jelly sandwich essay assignment.

It was one of the most successful things I did, silly as it might sound to some people. That's why I'm going to do it in my college writing class next Tuesday afternoon.

Today in class, we talked about paragraphs that are in chronological order. First, next, then, lastly, etc. The example in the book was about Sumo wrestlers, and to be quite honest, I can't even think about Sumo wrestlers without getting a little nauseous, but even so, the elaborate ritual BEFORE they even starting fighting was kind of interesting. And it was in time order!

I am frightened by Sumo thighs. But I digress.

When you read about food, and recipes, or instructions of any kind, or a description of an event, or a story, etc., the paragraphs are almost always in time order.

So, next Tuesday, I'll bring in a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly and a loaf of bread and a roll of paper towels and a butter knife, and the students will bring their paragraphs (typed, double-spaced, cover page) to my desk and lay them in a pile, and then I'll mix them up and call students to the front, two at a time: one to read somebody's paragraph, and one to follow the directions AS WRITTEN. No extras, no improvisations, no doing anything that isn't in the paragraph to do. Students whose paragraph results in a sandwich will get a passing grade. Those whose paragraphs don't yield a sandwich, won't.

Such is life. It works or it doesn't.

I hope they all remember to include "Remove the lids" in their paragraphs.

I am also frightened by those terrifying diapered Sumo asses. When the men raise their legs and thump, I hear Johnny Weismuller's yell in my head, and after the thunder fades away, there really should be elephants in the room.

I'm older than almost any other blogger, and I love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I think I'll go have one right now.

There are no children living in my house now, but I still buy Peter Pan by the half-gallon.

That's right; he can be bought. And USED.

I was going to say "and eaten" but I figured some of you would be all over that one. I was, in my head.


Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:03 AM | |

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Most of the Real Heroes Are Unsung

Let's see, what's on the syllabus for tomorrow's class? Hahaha, who cares.

We're going to talk about acronyms, analogies, context clues (one of the most useful reading skills anyone can EVER LEARN!!!!!) and, once again, Madame C.J. Walker.

Is there anyone else out there who can flip through a history book and wonder where everybody is?

So many unsung heroes. Too many.

Far too many genuinely important people get no mention whatsoever, or maybe just a brief mention, in passing. So many people who really ain't all that get whole chapters dedicated to them; don't even get me started on General Custer - the man was a complete and total loser.

But. . . where is Madame Walker? Where's Denmark Vesey? Clara Barton? Laura Bridgeman? Maria Mitchell? Amelia Bloomer? (Guess what got named after her?) Where is Elizabeth Blackwell? Marie Curie? Ira Hayes? Thomas H. Perkins? Joseph Lister? Louis Pasteur? Albert I,II,III,IV, & V? And so many more. . . .

Our children don't know who these people are. Some of their parents don't, either.

Most of the time, in any kind of drama, the most important participants are not the ones in the limelight. The most important participants are standing in the wings, or behind the curtains, actually DOING something. They understand that it's the "DOING something" that's important, not the"being seen in the vicinity of people who are doing something".

Erma Bombeck was right spot-on: "Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.

And by the way, the Alberts count as people. How many real people had the courage to do what they did?

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:59 PM | |

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Low Maintenance?

I'm not all that good at shopping with people. When I enter a store, I tend to look at my watch and tell my husband/daughter/friend/etc., "Meet you right here in a half hour."

Or, I try staying close and I end up drifting off to another area of the store. Before cell phones were invented, it was hard to keep track of me in a store.

Fortunately, in most big department stores, I'm easy to find. No, I'm not looking at jewelry or clothing or shoes. A few years ago, you might find me in 'toys.' But now, if you go shopping with me and you look down and then up again and I'm gone, you'll know where to find me.

I'm in electronics.

I'm inwardly drooling over computers and wireless digital picture frames and flash drives. I'm looking at DVD's in the bargain bin. I'm looking at laptops and Mp3 players and printers and fax machines. I'm checking out the cd's and the digital cameras. Years ago you would have found me rescuing the princess for a group of little boys, but those days are long past.

I have never been very interested in clothes and shoes and jewelry. I'm not much for talking on the telephone. (Unless it's YOU, of course.) One year, for Mother's Day, Hub and the kids gave me a wheelbarrow full of bedding plants, and it's still my favorite gift EVER.

At Christmas time, people will ask me what I want for Christmas, and when I tell them, somebody always says, "THAT'S not a gift!" or "That's ridiculous; why would you want that for Christmas?" or "Hah, I'm not buying anything like THAT!"

Why do they ask me if they don't want to know?

One year for Christmas, my kids gave me an air hockey table. It was friggin' AWESOME.

For some women, it's not a gift unless it's clothing, perfume, jewelry, candy, or flowers. I like those things, too, but if you really want to knock MY socks off, get me a 2-gig thumb drive from electronics. Or maybe something from housewares and gardens; I love to look at dishes and pans and linens, and bags of insect-repelling weed killer. My heart can be won with a flat of pansies.

I carry purses until they rot off my arm and my shoes are starting to embarrass even me, and the sweater I'm wearing as I type has a hole in the front that I mended with the wrong color of thread, and I've worn the same winter coat for over ten years, but set me loose in a store and I forget all that in my love for some good electronics or a great deal in bath towels. (oversized, but not too thick. Those plushy towels aren't good at soaking up the water.)

I'm girly, really I am. I'm just, well, something else, too, and I guess the something else trumps the other.

But you should just see the gorgeous anniversary ring Hub gave me this year! Sigh. And I can't even walk through my living room now without stopping for a few minutes in front of my wireless digital picture frame.

I do have some new socks, though. Well, they're new to me. Belle didn't want them any more.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:05 AM | |

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cupid and Psyche

It's Valentine's Day, and since many people associate this day with Cupid, let's talk for a moment about the REAL Cupid. Well, the real mythological Cupid.

Cupid is not a fat naked baby, flying around shooting arrows into people to make them fall in love with the first living thing they see, causing people to have inappropriate relationships with cows and bulls and goats. It was used as an excuse by some people, but we won't go there.

It's kind of along the same lines as the alcoholics who tried to rationalize their choices by swearing they were just worshipping Bacchus/Dionysus, and the knocked-up teenagers who swore they were abducted by Zeus. . . .


In some myths, Cupid IS a perpetual child, but in most of the myths, he is as all the other gods (except Hephaestus) were: indescribably beautiful. Unfortunately, his mother was the goddess Aphrodite/Venus, and even though she was the goddess of love and beauty, she was a BITCH.

Here is the story of what happened when Cupid dared to fall in love and try to have a life of his own. Heh, and some of you think YOU have mother-in-law problems. . . .


Once upon a time - was there EVER a better way to begin a story? - there was a King who had three daughters, all beautiful, and the youngest daughter was the most beautiful of all. In fact, and this was dangerous talk in any myth, people said that this young princess was more beautiful even than the goddess of beauty herself. Now, whenever, in a myth, people compare a mortal to a god or goddess, you will know in advance that the poor mortal, even though he/she probably did nothing wrong, is going down. DOWN. Circling the drain down.

This young princess, whose name was Psyche, begged the populace not to say such things, but people were heedless and full of gossip even back in these days, and the talk went on and on. Eventually, of course, Aphrodite heard of it, and she was FURIOUS.

She called her son Cupid to her, and instructed him to fly down to earth and shoot an arrow into Psyche, making sure the first living thing she saw would be a monster that would devour her even as she could not help falling in love with it.

What Aphrodite had not foreseen was this: Cupid took one look at Psyche, was dazzled by her beauty, tripped and fell on one of his own arrows and fell in love with her himself. It was the real thing, too; it would have happened with or without magic love arrows or anything else. He saw her, and he loved her.

He knew, though, that he would have to keep it a secret from everyone, especially his jealous, possessive mother. Therefore, he would have to somehow get Psyche away from her family and sneak her to his palace.

He sent Psyche's father, the King, a dream that directed him to go to an Oracle - a fortuneteller - who told him that he must take his beloved daughter to the top of the mountain and let a Demon take her to wife.

The King did not dare to disobey, so he and Psyche's sisters walked with Psyche up the mountain and left her on a jutting rock to await her demonic husband. She did not understand what was happening, and could not think why she should be treated so, but back in the days of the myths, people did what the gods told them to do and chalked it all off to the Fates.

That night, the West Wind swooped down and flew with her to her new husband's home. She tried to ask Zephyrus what was to become of her, but he would not, or could not, answer. He, too, was following orders.

To Psyche's surprise, Zephyrus took her to a beautiful palace, even more beautiful than her father's palace back home. Invisible servants waited on her hand and foot. Delicious food was served to her, three times a day. Lovely clothing appeared in her closet.

She dreaded the night, because she knew that her new husband would come to her in the marriage bed, but when he came into the room, she knew no fear. She could not see him in the dark, but he told her he loved her and would always love her. He also told her that she must NEVER see him in the light.

He came to her every night after dark, but was gone before the morning light fell upon his face. Psyche knew that she loved him, but she did not even know his name.

Then, she got homesick.

After much crying and begging from his wife, Cupid told her that her two sisters would be allowed to visit her. Psyche was happy to hear this, for living alone in a huge castle with only invisible servants by day and a nameless, faceless husband by night was hard on a girl. Besides, she was pregnant.

Cupid was happy to hear this news, but he warned his wife that as long as she never looked upon her husband's face, the baby would be immortal, but if she could not resist temptation and saw him in the light, the baby would be mortal and eventually die.

By this time, Psyche loved her husband so much she would have done anything for him. She agreed.

When her sisters arrived, they were impressed with the richness and luxury their sister enjoyed, but their jealousy of her good fortune overcame their love for her. They were amazed that Psyche was pregnant with the child of a husband she had never seen and didn't even know by name. They told Psyche that he must be a hideous monster, and that she had a right to see her husband's face. They told her that if he was indeed a monster, she would have to kill him. They told her these things over and over until they convinced her that it would be the only right thing to do. After all, why should a wife not know her husband's face and name? It was so logical!

That night, after her husband had come to her and then fallen asleep, Psyche fetched an oil lamp and a knife. The lamp would show her his face, and if he was indeed a monster, she would kill him with the knife.

But she trembled, and a drop of hot oil fell on him. He awoke, and turned to look at her. She saw, in the light, not a hideous creature from the depths of hell itself, but a beautiful young man with golden wings, looking at her with love and pain and despair. He got out of bed and flew away, and Psyche knew she would never see him again.

Psyche blamed herself for losing her husband. Because of her curiosity and disobedience, she was alone, and pregnant. She prayed desperately to the gods, but they did not answer, and Cupid did not return to her.

She decided to go to Aphrodite, Cupid's mother, and offer her services as a servant, hoping that Cupid might admire her devotion and return to her.

What naive Psyche didn't know was that her mother-in-law didn't merely dislike her; she HATED her, and was eager to do great harm to her to keep her son away from his wife. She was still angry because the townspeople in Psyche's homeland had remarked that Psyche was more beautiful than Aphrodite, and the fact that this girl was now pregnant with her son's child made Aphrodite even more furious. Aphrodite was determined to punish Psyche for taking some of her son's affection from his mother.

Aphrodite set Psyche to work on a series of ridiculous, impossible tasks. She had to sort a roomful of different grains by nightfall; had it not been for the ants, who helped her sort the grains into various piles, she could never have finished. Next, Aphrodite told Psyche she had to shear the wool from a flock of deadly, possessed sheep that were hypnotized, so that they tried to kill all who came near. Fortunately, the reeds along the riverbank advised Psyche that she could get enough wool from the thorny bushes the sheep had passed through, instead of trying to deal with these evil sheep.

Each time Psyche succeeded, Aphrodite became angrier and more determined to break her. The tasks became more and more difficult. She sent Psyche to fetch water from the river Styx, the river of death, but fortunately, Zeus took pity on Psyche and sent one of his mighty eagles to fetch the water for her.

Finally, Aphrodite told Psyche to enter the Underworld and fetch her box of cosmetics from Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. No mortal had ever entered the World of the Dead and returned. The night before this task, she lay in her bed and wept.

Suddenly, she heard a voice, telling her how to succeed in this task, and also warning her not to open the box once she got it in her hands. This piqued Psyche's curiosity.

In a myth, whenever someone is extremely curious about something, there's going to be trouble.

Psyche entered the Underworld. She crossed the Styx, paying Charon his toll. (This is why, in many cultures even today, the dead are buried with a coin on each eyelid.) She gave food to Cerberus, to distract him so she could run through the gate of Hades. (Meat is placed in the hands of the dead, and when rigor mortis set in, the meat was secure in the fist.) Psyche did as the voice had instructed her throughout her entire visit, and finally, box in hand, she returned to the world of the living.

Once she got back to her palace and was alone with this mysterious box, Psyche's curiosity got the better of her. What harm could one little peek do? She wasn't going to TOUCH anything in there, after all. But when she opened the box, she fell into a deep slumber.

By this time, Cupid's anger had passed, and he longed for his wife and baby. His mother tried her best to dissuade him, but for the first time in his life he defied her openly and, in spite of her magical attempts to hold him, flew out of his childhood home and went back to the castle he had built for his own family.

He found his wife, sound asleep on the floor of her room, and so deep was her sleep that Cupid thought she was dead, and wept as he held her in his arms. He bent to her for one last kiss, and she awakened!

Cupid and Psyche were together at last, in the light, and both liked what they saw.

However, there was still the danger of Aphrodite, who still hated Psyche and who wanted her son Cupid's full devotion. Cupid finally appealed to Zeus, King of the Gods, and asked him to make his wife immortal, that Aphrodite could no longer harm her, and Zeus agreed.

Cupid and Psyche lived happily ever after, and their daughter Volupta. . . well, that's a whole other story, isn't it.


I hope you saw the roots of a lot of fairy tales and other stories. The ancient myths are a treasure trove of literary points of origin. I also hope you noticed a lot of root words; the English language is a patchwork quilt of languages: we steal from everybody.

Mythology is one of my thangs. Can you tell?

Happy Valentine's Day, all.

Somebody else can tell the story of St. Valentine. I like Cupid and Psyche.

This myth is also ONE of the origins of the expression "Opposites attract."

Because Love is all emotional, see, and the Mind is logical, and. . . . oh, you know. And how ironic is it that the Ancients saw the male as the emotional one and the female as the logical one?

Mythology is so cool.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:10 PM | |

Red Velvet Cake, or Not

I made a Valentine-shaped red velvet cake with cream cheese icing tonight. I've never made one of these before, even though red velvet cake is a family tradition on my father's side. For some reason, however, I decided to give it a try tonight.

The cake is done. It looks really nice, all heart-shaped and covered with cream cheese and vanilla.

But I do have a question for those of you (Anne, are you reading this?) who are experts in all things culinary: Is the batter for this cake supposed to be so thick it won't even spread over the pan after it's been in the oven for a while?

When I took it out of the oven, both pans looked like they contained freshly-hardened coiled lava.

I clapped them together and iced them anyway.

I'm really quite good at baking all kinds of breads and pies, but my homemade cakes all look like geological formations and taste like corn bread. Sigh.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:36 PM | |

Ice Storm!

We've had a pretty severe ice storm here; the public schools were closed today and they're closed tomorrow, too, to Hub's delight.

Classes are seldom canceled at the college level, but this ice storm was so bad, even the campuses shut down. I only wish mine had shut down BEFORE I got there. Sigh.

I have never seen the world so completely glazed before. I have never tried to walk or drive on anything so slick before.

I drove my husband's four-wheel-drive truck to school today and I almost didn't get there. Once I got there, I almost didn't make it up the ramp to the parking lot. Once I got in the parking lot, I tried to park close to the building but it was too slick and the truck kept sliding backwards. So, I parked slanting downwards on the rampy lot - I figured the curb would keep the truck from sliding down the hill and into the Pizza Hut below - and went inside to send my students back home.

After about an hour, I figured anyone else who was crazy enough to venture out in this weather deserved to have an icicle fall on his/her head and penetrate the skull to have to stay there all night, so I tried to go home. The lot was so slick, the four-wheel-drive truck couldn't back up! I tried for about fifteen minutes, rocking back and forth and gaining an inch at a time, until I finally had room to put it in "forward" and get out of there. It was no fun.

Once home, I realized I was trembling from the stress of driving on a surface so slick the dogs were Hans Brinkering across the sidewalks and roads. The ice was coming down so hard, it took out one of our big weeping willow trees. It fell across the driveway and Hub had to move it.

Yes, he moved a huge tree with his arms. Yes, he's already aching badly. Fortunately, he can stay home tomorrow and moan. We have Tylenol.

As for me, whenever the weather is like this I want to bake. I want to go into the kitchen and make all kinds of breads and pies. I want to get all the blueberries out of the freezer and use them. And, of course, I want to sit at the little kitchen table, read a novel, and watch Scrubs on DVD. I can do that while the bread's in the oven.

Come on over. If you can make it down the driveway, you'll be stuck here for a while until the ice melts, which is fine with me. I love company. Sit down and have some bread.

Diet coke? Glass of wine?

I love being marooned inside my house when I have plenty of books and toilet paper.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:47 AM | |

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Grieve For Fictional Characters and the Authors Who Created Them

My favorite mystery writer has died

Phyllis Whitney, whose surprise endings surprised me every single time, died last Friday. She was 104.

I have every single Phyllis Whitney book, and I re-read them all the time. She was a masterful story-teller. Her novels were set all over the world, and whenever I read one, I got far more than just a superb mystery with a mind-blowing shocker of a surprise ending; I also got a geography lesson, a lesson in regional cooking, and a life-lesson of some kind.

Phyllis Whitney's "Silverhill" was the first grown-up book I ever read.

Two of my favorite authors have died in the past few months: Madeleine L'Engle and now Phyllis Whitney. I counted on a new novel from both of these wonderful writers every year. What will I do now? I don't care for bestsellers, and J.K Rowling has ended the Harry Potter series.

Dying. . . dying. . .moving on with her life. . . . don't these people love me?

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:47 PM | |

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fresh Flowers

No matter what time of year it might be, I love to have fresh flowers somewhere in my house.

My husband indulges this by bringing home bouquets several times a month.

Sometimes, for a special occasion, he has a florist make and deliver a large bouquet of roses and other flowers, but truthfully? I like the little bouquets of miniature carnations and tiny rosebuds that you can get at WalMart, two bunches for ten dollars, a lot better.

But best of all are the bouquets I make all by myself by walking around the woods on the side and behind the house and gathering wildflowers. I don’t know what they are; I don’t really care. I could be bringing deadly poisons into the house and arranging them in a vase. I don’t care. I don’t care. There are no small children living here any more to worry about, and the cats generally prefer the more expensive flowers when they’re in the mood for a salad. (Don’t panic: when you visit me with your small children, there will be no poisons anywhere to be found!)

In the winter, of course, there are no wildflowers, but once spring even HINTS at coming, there will be spots of color all along the edge of the woods and I’ll be out there with scissors and some wet newspaper to gather some and bring them into the house.

When the children were little, they would bring me dandelions and wild daisies and those little purple periwinkle blossoms with stems so short we had to float them in a bowl. There were always little paper Dixie cups of wildflowers all over the house.

I think dandelions are as beautiful as many other flowers. I don’t consider them a weed at all, and I love to see a lawn with twinkling yellow stars all over it. I consider sitting on the grass and blowing dandelion clocks and making wishes to be an integral part of childhood. Good thing I don’t live in a real neighborhood, huh. Those crotchety old people who pay to have the stars removed wouldn’t appreciate me and my seed-sowing ways.

I love the SMELL of fresh flowers in the house. It’s better than the smell of baking bread. (We have that, too!)

A vase or two of fresh flowers in the house is almost as good as having a Christmas tree. Almost.

They both kind of prove that you love your home and want to dress it up a little, and what better way than to bring a little bit of outdoors, indoors?

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:29 PM | |


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