Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April is slipping away

I can't believe how fast time is going. I was speaking with an old classmate yesterday whose theory was that time accelerates as we age because it is such a smaller portion of our total time lived. For exampe, one year to a 10 year is 1/10th of their life and so it seems very long. At almost 50, one year is only 1/50th of the time I have spent on earth, and so it goes very quickly. My thought was that our brain and soul becomes so full of memories and experiences, and that somehow makes time go more quickly. Or perhaps there is just so much activity and things to do the older we get that time seems to speed up exponentially.

Yesterday there was volunteering for a band event (two hours), meeting about a class reunion (one hour), birthday lunch with Uncle Cal (age 86) (I think time may slow down again once we are that old) (two hours), working out (1.5 hours), nap (1.5 hours), grocery shopping (1 hour), dinner making and eating (1.5 hours), schoolwork (one hour), checkbook balancing and bill paying (.5 hour), walk (.5 hour). Did I mention Facebook? 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there, honestly, there is nothing interesting going on there.

So today there is the parent visit, Boy18 brass recital, working out, cleaning dirty house, more schoolwork (my class is almost done!), etc. etc. And back to school tomorrow.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Just Saying

It's a glorious day!!! Nothing better to do than be outside on a day like today.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Facebook Break

Facebook is just too unsettling and much of a time waster. There's nothing there, yet I stare at it like some monumentous information is going to suddenly appear. So that's that.

Double header today. A full week of baseball. 7 games in 6 days. I missed the only two games Boy16 started in. He did well in the field and at the plate, just too many guys in the infield to fit in the line up.

Yesterday Pat and I took a short trip to Springfield to see Boy/Man22. My maternal instincts suddenly kicked in and I needed to put eyes on him. Seems to be doing okay. We had what we thought were inaccurate mapquest directions. Couldn't find the place. Drove around for while and finally saw a gas station. Pat started asking a state policeman who was getting gas where to find Burton Drive. He couldn't explain it, then didn't think the number was right. Said he would check his computer, then just radioed "the city" and got the directions. Tried to explain how to get there with the one ways, then just said, "I'll take ya." First thought, Great! Second thought, should I bring the state police to this place?? Well, we flew around some corners and streets and there we were. Turn out, mapquest was right. Pat read .08 miles as .8 miles so we missed a street. We were only a block away originally. The rental is a cracker box of a place with a dude parked on the living room floor on an air mattress under some covers looking at a laptop (Shashi, a self proclaimed grad student) at two in the afternoon.

It seems my cousin Bill in Manhattan KS, has slipped into a coma is not expected to recover due to terminal cancer. We had no idea things were this bad until this week. In fact, we were hopeful the cancer was in remission. But it would be like Bill not to share bad news. His sister died by suicide two and a half years ago, so it is rough on the family. My aunt and uncle are not in very good health either.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Almost the 28th of March

In my flannels and bathrobe before 8:00. March is going out like a lion, and I, for one, am getting damn sick of it. We had a nice birthday celebration for Mom tonight at what was supposed to be Shiloh's (fine dining) but turned about to be Chicks (casual dining). She says, "You're only 75 once" to which I replied, "You're only any age once." I am getting so cranky and irritable in my middle age. And if AARP sends me one more solicitation before I am 50, I am going to take serious legal action.

Pat is in the bathroom screaming and swearing at the toilet he's trying to fix. Boy18 gets bent on harping on certain household enigmas of which there are many in this home, and the toilet running downstairs is the latest of those that apparently finally got on Pat's nerves, too. Why he would start this at 8 p.m. on a Sunday, maybe BIL Chuck can answer. Boy18 has decided to invite his girlfriend over to run lines for the play in the middle of this project which adds yet another layer of complication to this state.

It is back to work tomorrow after a peaceful week of spring break. I did accomplish some of my to do list, including completing Module 2 (of 3) for my grad class, getting Boy16's baseball t-shirt quilt sewn together but not tied, daily exercise, and Bjarke's scrapbook all but ready to mail when Boy16 gives me his narrative account of the trip to include on the last page. Some of you may have see the pictures of the pages on Facebook. I managed to erase an entire disk of some 500 pictures and videos of Denmark without having saved them to my computer. Luckily this time Vibe has copies. Some may remember how devastated she was when Boy18 visited in 2008 and 400-500 of her pictures mysteriously disappeared when she went to have them printed. She was not fooled this time but the curse must have extended to me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Chatter

I asked Boy16 how the Viking Museum (Roskilde) and the cathedral where some royals are buried was and he replied:

They were pretty cool, I liked them because we didn't have a tour guide we could just walk around and look at stuff on our own. Today at school was very interesting, it's way different over here. Everyone in class has a laptop and you can be on facebook or playing games or listening to music during class. And they get out at 130 and have a recess and lunch which is nice. We talked to the 8 th graders and I got interviewed for the newspaper!I noticed in Russia the royals are "buried" in the cathedrals, too. I find that a little odd and don't remember the explanation for this. We went to the church in St. Petersburg where Czar Nicholas and his family is 'resting' all except Anastasia whose body was never found...sparking all the folklore that she survived.

They love their royals in Denmark, I do remember that. One of the princes is the golden boy, the other a cad, maybe even divorced.

So, no pictures out of Denmark yet. I wish! I hope he is taking some, lots of the people.

Well, it's off for my second time seeing Black Swan. I thought Pat would like it, so I'll force myself through it, nod nod wink wink.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I saw this ad on Freecycle, a service where people give and receive items with no monetary exchange. It's kind of sad when people put animals up on such a site. Often people will chime in and criticize the owners if there is any hint of abuse or neglect or even thoughtlessness:

I have a 1 1/2 year old lab/german shepherd mix that needs a good home. She is a good girl, but I don't have the time to give her. You may reply to this email or call 309-333-7289.

I am slowly working through my grad classs on Engaging Troubling Students. The word "troubling" bothered me at first because it sounds like we are troubled or bothered by the students. Judgemental, like they are getting in our way. In reality, I wouldn't have a job if not for these students troubling someone. I thought 'troubled students' was more accurate, but who am I say they are troubled? They may think they are perfectly fine. Somewhere along the way, my students have been labeled emotionally or behavior disordered. That means, they don't fit in well with the general students and teachers. Some are just quirky, weird, or odd. Others are volatile, defiant and bold. Many have learned this from having to protect themselves out in the world or in their own homes. The emotional disorders are more those with a mental health diagnosis that is front and center. Some are in the program because they are picked on or bullied. This class I am taking is an alternative to a strict behavioral approach (rules-rewards-punishment). Towards support, understanding and a participatory classroom structure.

And now from Denmark (Friday):

Dear Susan and co

Cal arrived after the scedule. Danish students with flags and the host families were all there. We took the train to NivÄ, and Cal got his room. After an hour did Bjarke and he go for a walk in the cold but sunny weather. They actually went to the beach. At 7 am we are going to dine- and Cal is taking a nap right now.
He is tired but full of smiles- and the two"cap-boys" talk non stop. I´m sure its gonna be fun.
I thought you would like to know.
Yours Vibe

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two unrelated stories

I finally figured out why I like driving my big Buick so much. When I was 16-17 my family acquired an old (even at that time) Ford Galaxy which was a yucky color of green. For some reason, I loved driving that car. Today when I heard "After the Love Has Gone" by Earth, Wind and Fire, I remembered a moment at the old SuperAmerica gas station in that car with that song playing. Back then, all we had was radio, so when your favorite song came on, the world stopped. That car was a divine boat to drive, but had a habit of over heating. I did use that to my advantage from time to time when I wanted to play the damsel in distress. Well, the Buick LeSabre is the biggest car I've driven since then and I love the smooth ride.

When I visited St. Petersburg, Russia in 2001, it was very clear the impact of World War II was profound on the city and its people. The guides often spoke of the devastation, starvation,and near destruction of their city by the Neva by the Germans. They are proud to have prevailed to save their city.

"City of Thieves" by David Benioff is a character sketch set in St. Petersburg under seige during this time period. Lev, a naive and sexually inexperienced 17 year old Jew, and Kolya, a cocky, confident, ladies man of 22 who has been accused of deserting the army are an unlikely pairing who meet in jail. The story revolves around a desperate search for a dozen eggs but more aptly depicts the emotional maturation of a boy becoming a man with stunning and simple, humorous and brutal prose. I am near the middle of the book and already know it is one I wish would never end. I am parceling it out slowly so I can savor it fully.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


Better than the alternative, in the words of Dick Vick.

Sometimes life is better than I expected, like yesterday, when my house was filled with music, Boy17 and his friends jamming on guitar and trumpet. I always wanted a house filled with music.

Life is definitely better than my dreams, which have been tortured, miserable messes.

Feeling good after 2:15 workout and finishing that damned bicycle portion of the triathalon. Cup of coffee, life is good...yes, I am a triathelete. haha Loosened up the sore muscles of Thursday's killer yoga session. My friend Karen kicks it on the yoga mat. I thank her for inviting me to her class. We haven't been socializing since I dropped out of the church and goddess night fizzled out a few years ago. Nonetheless, she is one of my favorite people, genuinely a good soul. We met in yoga class, she reminded me. I remember seeing her and thinking I would like to be her friend and eventually it happened. Funny how that goes sometimes.

I called Boy22 this afternoon and guess what? He was on his way to Macomb. Got a ride here, and a truck meeting him tomorrow to haul his bed to Springfield. Seems the boy doesn't want to sleep on a couch the rest of his life. A weird next step. His hair is sheered (all three boys have fresh haircuts), and he seems more focused and happy than I've seen him a couple of years. He has secured two jobs, possibly three. I saw proof he enrolled in his final one credit of college, which I swear I didn't ask for. I'm letting go of control. The first job is at a Japanese steakhouse. The second is stocking displays in stores for greeting cards and Frito Lay. His friends all seem to have a little more money than he does, so maybe that will keep him motivated to work hard.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Super Bowl Menu

Turkey Rueben Sandwiches
Pork fried rice
Pre-made vegetable tray - too lazy even to unpackage my own veggies
Pigs in blanket
Flatbread and hummus
Tossed salad

I'm not even really planning to watch the game.

Me at work on Friday. No, I don't work in a prison, it's a school!! Need interior design helper.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pines of Rome

I am learning about music by osmosis, that is, Boy17's musical experience. He has gone so far above and beyond my feeble high school band training. Obviously, I didn't have the talent or drive to excel in music. Yesterday afternoon was the Illinois All-State concert at the Peoria Civic Center. Boy17 chaired second trumpet in the Honors Orchestra, which is just about as good it gets in high school musicianship.

I don't know much about orchestral music, but his group was slated to play only one piece, Respighi's Pines of Rome. Respighi is such a cool name. The piece was written in 1924 and has four movements. I couldn't detect any flaws in the performance. It is an epic symphonic poem and was greeted with a standing ovation. It was easy to spot Boy17, since we didn't get the "Black Tie" memo. We were told suit and tie, so I got him a new suitcoat, brown. You can see the result. Well, I thought he was handsome, and I'm incredibly proud. How Pat and I find ourselves in this world of classical music is mind boggling, I guess we are just blessed!

The Honors Orchestra had the only out of state conductor, Jung-Ho Pak from Cape Cod and San Diego (who apparently has a lot of frequent flier miles). Eli enjoyed his enthusiam and expertise enormously. Just working with the musicians in the camps and programs he has been involved with is a huge benefit to his own growth. He was on Cloud 9 after the concert, as well as exhausted. "Maestro" literally conducts with his entire body. He obviously knew the piece well, and used no music, stand, or baton. He was almost dancer-like.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Golden Globes

Thank you Betsy for getting me addicted to movies again. Since I've been reading Entertainment Weekly weekly, I'm pretty tuned into this years awards nominees. I have seen most of the nominated films. The Golden Globes (GG) were thus a really interesting show for me, plus Matt Damon was seated right in front of the stage and got numerous camera views besides his presentation to Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro or one of them old guys. My first comment is that I'm happy to see Matt's non-celebrity wife is looking more and more comfortable at these events. It would be hard to walk in there and be compared to Angelina Jolie and the gang.

My first comment is, I love the way Annette Benning embraces her age. She is not trying to glam it up whatsoever. Maybe she just feels great next to her 80 year old husband Warren Beatty, so she doesn't have to put on any airs. But the hair, interchangable with Al Pacino? If you missed it, try Google images. It's awful.

Christian Bale is as nutty as his character Dicky Eklund in the "The Fighter." When he got up after winning his GG and started talking in a British accent I thought he was putting it on. So, after seeing "The Fighter" tonight I doubted myself after I told Pat he is British. He did Boston well. He is from England. He and Jeremy Renner from "The Town" and "Hurt Locker" are two excellent character actors who will probably keep reaping the awards.

I about threw up in my mouth when Natalie Portman gave her little speech. I thought "Black Swan" was really good for a horror genre film, but her little baby raspy voice is annoying. And when she announced she was pregnant and her 'boyfriend' loves to sleep with her which proves he's a good actor (and incidentally not a gay ballet dancer), ugh. I guess her awkward extended laugh afterwards has gone viral.

I was actually touched by Claire Danes' acceptance and tribute to Temple Grandin, the talented animal scientist with autism. Ditto for Chris Colfer, the gay teen on Glee.

Kudos to "The Social Network" which sounds really boring but wasn't, unless of course you are not addicted to Facebook.

Loved Ricky Gervais as host. Who is this guy? I thought it interesting that the celebrities were not laughing at what I thought were pretty funny jokes. I think they were afraid to be seen endorsing the ridiculing of their peers. Entertainment Weekly had an editorial calling him "Icky Ricky" because he was mean. Oh boo, the Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway don't stand a chance of cracking a smile. Ricky got on Hugh Hefner and many of the presentors like Tim Allen, Robert Downey, Jr., Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis (Ashton Kutcher's dad). My favorite line of the night which I'm surprised even got broadcast was the closing, "And thank you to God...for making me an athiest."

Friday, January 21, 2011


It was a good, good week. I never had a moment of 'what do I do now?' At times I felt like I bit off more than I can chew, juggling too many balls, but then I found it exhilarating. I went to bed at 7:00 last night, read a tiny bit of "Hunger Games" then fell asleep until right before the alarm at 5:20 a.m. As a result I need about two hours at the gym tonight. I skipped the last two nights of doing anything but American Idol (awful, I thought), eating and sleeping. Boy16 has a game about 1:15 hours away and I already drove my two hour commute today, so I am skipping. I did talk to him and he is recovering from the flu, Dad is going to the game, and it's iffy if he will play or not. So hello, triathlon numbers!

Post Script:
I managed 2 and a half hours of activity (30 minutes circuit weights, 3 miles walking, 4 miles biking and 12 laps swimming), boy a couple days off really can ramp up the energy level, that and working off a little stress (and I haven't had coffee since 10:00 a.m.). This while thinking of Texas Sheet Cake almost continously, in between PTSD flashbacks of Virginia (the 75-80 year old lady who liked to lather up with the water off) having a straight up conversation while delivering a 45 second audible fart in the locker room. Speaking of locker rooms, young girls can be a snarky bunch after a long swim practice. I was about to intervene when I came out of the bathroom stall and one had a clipboard so I guess she was the adult in charge, but I swear she was the loudest, most inappropriate one of the group. I managed to mind my own business after asking one of the girls if that was the coach.

Coming tomorrow: My take on the Globes, Golden.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I have this whole weekly mental thing going. Here it is. Monday is not a bad day because it's Monday and everyone else is having a Monday. Tuesday is the worst day of the week because you are actually expected to do something. Wednesday is cool because it's Thursday eve. Thursday is the best day of the week because you are anticipating Friday and the weekend. Friday is good in that you know you can handle anything because you just have to get through this day but the evening goes really quick and that kind of sucks. Saturday is the second best day of the week because you have all day to do whatever you want and still have Sunday to chill out. Sunday is kind of like the Tuesday of the weekend in that you have to try to accomplish something for the weekend like laundry or getting ready for work. I used to hate Sunday, all day, because it seemed so depressing but now I try to live in the moment with the exception of my aforementioned predisposition to judging each day.

I am going to take a graduate course online now for two reasons. One, work will pay for it, and Two, when I get 12 credits I can move up on the pay scale. Why not?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Case of What is this World Coming To?

Yesterday I made 25 laps without stopping (not 25 miles like I told Pat) swimming. It makes me think about Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign. Why does the First Lady (and who made up that dumb moniker?) have to tell us to feed our kids healthy and get them off the couch and moving? The first of these First Lady crusades I remember was Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No to Drugs" followed by Barbara Bush's reading stump. Excuse me, but aren't those the basics of being a parent?

It seems to me that parents quit being parents sometime in the 80's. I know in my generation you had to move, or you would get stuck cleaning the basement or some other despicable task. If you lived in a neighborhood with kids, usually a pack was running around outside summer or winter. Now I guess they are indoors playing video games and ordering pizzas. In my case, I would take a book and disappear into a quiet corner so at least I would have pleased Barbara Bush.

I know my parents were maybe a little too out there with the food thing (making yogurt, baking whole wheat bread and serving more vegetables than meat) and there were no fast food restaurants in our town until I got to high school. Even then when we went out for open lunch we went to somebody's house and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Eating in a restaurant was absolutely a special occasion.

At the same time as obesity is at all time high, there are more gyms, fitness clubs and public venues for active fitness than ever before. Even the rehabilitation centers that used to be for heart attack or injury victims are open for wellness memberships. I can think of at least 7 places to work out in my small town of 20,000people. The YMCA is teaming with people on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe an hour at a gym doesn't really replace the natural activities that were commonplace like walking or riding a bike to school or work, playing hopscotch, tag or Red Light/Green Light, and cleaning one's own house. Fitness isn't something you do at a certain time in a certain place, movement should be a part of every hour of the day. I don't think elevators, escalators, and drive through windows were solely installed for the disabled.

There is also a surge in grow your own and store bought organic foods, food co-ops and farmer's markets, an interest in veganism, a decrease in "supersizing", and yet there are more fancy cupcake shops, greasy burger joints and super high fat ice cream stores than ever.

It's hard to understand the conflicting messages and conflicting trends with so much knowledge and information at hand about what is healthy. With McDonalds now offering Oatmeal, maybe we are at the tipping point, and the scales will start to angle down again. I'm just afraid the oatmeal will quietly disappear and the McDonalds will say, "See we did our part and nobody wanted it" while others continue to sue and regulate the food industry, the schools and anyone else they can blame for their own poor choices. Meanwhile, I sound like a an old coot so I will get off my soapbox, but really it is an interesting paradox. And that's the point I was trying to make.

Me in front of a big juicy burger joint, you can see the fat has attached to my thighs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I don't know where this winter break has gone. I know it is sickenly long for me (I have not been to work since Dec. 22 and do not return until Jan. 18), and I shouldn't whine, but last week just entirely disappeared. This week is making a strike to do the same. It seems everyone else has gone back to work/school and I am aimlessly wasting away in Margaritaville. Not really, far from it, however, I have done little to no prep work for school, which I had BIG plans to do. At this rate, I'll be lucky to be ready for the first week, let alone the entire semester. I did complete an application to teach an adjunct social work class for the University of Illinois, so I am pleased to get that out of the way. Fact is, they were not asking for applications, it was suggested to me that if a good resume lands on the desk of the associate dean, he will be pleased since he has no idea how to go about finding faculty to teach out here in the boonies.

I increased to 16 laps in the pool today, in four lap spurts, so that is progress. I think my breath was fine, it was my arms getting a little tired that caused me to take three short rest breaks. I also noticed some old habits coming back, such as my shower routine after swimming where I do the depression thing and turn the water off to get lathered. This older lady who swam in the mornings always did that next stall to me so I picked up the habit. She had some other rather bizarre habits I did not incorporate. The Y has really downgraded their water supply by the way. It is no more than a lukewarm drizzle, which must be saving them a lot of money, because I for one, no longer stay in there for an hour.

Well, this is just another way to avoid doing productive work, although in my mind, it is more productive than napping. I have one lunch date and one coffee date this week and was hoping for a movie date, but no good shows are playing in the area.

Here is my first table top photo. Didn't I clean it off nicely, a fresh slate? Only a buffet full of crap in the background is holding what the table normally holds.
Random picture of Boy16 at the Galesburg game Saturday night. Macomb's first loss in 14 games.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


January or a new year is time of discovery, or rediscovery in my case, is it not? Did you know the word "rediscovery" is not in the dictionary? This week I happened back into the swimming pool after a three year hiatus. The reason you ask? I am completing a triathalon. Before you get all impressed, I have 6 weeks to do it in a bit by bit fashion. And bit by bit it is. I started with 10 laps, breaking between each to catch my breath. Hard to believe I could once swim 56 continuous laps (although at the tortoise pace of 1.5 hours). I found being in the pool oddly sensational. I forgot the hypnotic rhythm of swimming and the peace of the water swishing around. Today I upped it to 12 laps while stringing a couple together at time. I recalled it doesn't take all that long to build up my endurance. The water was about 110 degrees today which was a surprise since I expected it to be turned down for the all day swim meet yesterday. Perhaps all that swimming heated it up (?). Anyway, it was almost uncomfortable and looked forward to those little cool pockets in the middle of the pool.

My second rediscovery was sewing. Mom is helping me with my t-shirt quilt for Boy16 to commemorate and make useful all those Little League t-shirts he has collected. We borrowed one of BIL Chuck's 3 sewing machines. Yes, my brother in law sews, but he is a very macho seamstress (seamster). Just read Betsy's Christmas letter about how he slayed his own tree. I had that feeling like they say, you don't forget how to ride a bicyle. I wound up a bobbin and threaded the machine like an old pro. Ha. I just kept reaching for the release bar (don't know if that is the proper terminology) behind the needle which is where mine always was, but this one was to right of the needle. Well, we persisted through a few minor disasters and the nearly unbearable directions and have completed the entire top. What is left is adding the batting, the binding, the backing, and either tying or quilting the entire thing. Sounds like we still have a mountain to climb, huh?

The boys are renovating their bedrooms which is a new one! First Boy17 cleaned and rearranged his furniture and today Boy16 did the same. He pushed two single beds together, which was creative, but unfortunately, they are different heights so it would be hard to sleep in the middle, though it does save space. One of the vacuums is on the blink so I will have to get that looked at tomorrow.

This is another project Mom and I took on, sorting old pictures that Uncle Cal had collected, scanning them and putting them into an electronic frame. I only helped with part one.

Finally, a photo I found in Dad's collection labeled "Thanksgiving" though this is not. It may have been that weekend. You can see Uncle Cal's frail hand in the lower part of the picture.

This final picture goes with the blog Strawberry Pictorial, strawberries are finger lickin' good. Boom goes the dynamite!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Welcome Betsy (Anonymous)

It looks like you beat me here this morning. I was going through my DVR last night about to delete yet another episode of "Undercover Boss" when I looked at the synopsis and it was for Norwegian Cruise Lines! My ship. Do you think Candy, our cruise director, is featured on it? Probably only if she has a hard luck backstory. Anyway, I'll let you know how it is and keep it for you if it is good.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Tiny Furniture

Tiny Furniture is a fabulous little indie film Betsy and I saw tonight. Paid all of $5 for the exclusive showing in Louisville Village 8 Theater where we saw Fair Game the other night.

I love this movie. I could relate on so many levels. The most obvious attraction was to the title and photographing of miniature doll furniture. Next was the writer/director/star Lena Dunham who is playing a recent college grad who moves back home to the Tribecca neighborhood of NY (her mom is pretty successful as an artist who photographs small things) and is an aspiring filmmaker, herself. She's pretty successful on youtube. As is the moocher Jed, who moves in but has no interest in sleeping with her.

There is a very familiar sister dynamic as well as a girl friend relationship. And finally the mother-daughter relationship is changing as the daughter is struggling to grow up and redefine her relationship with her mom (think Boy22). It was just so refreshing and anti-Hollywood and low budget. The actors looked like they had a blast making it.

Maybe it's because I haven't been to a small film like this for so long that it was just was so sweet and poignant and brought back memories of all the independent and foreign films I used to see in Denver.