Friday, August 02, 2013


My parents are test driving a 2012 Toyota Sienna van.  They were positively beaming when they pulled up to show us.  Thrilled with the trade in offer on their banged up DodgehatefulkeyedCaravan.  Dad just turned 82 and has been pretty home bound;  Macomb bound at least (unless dinner is involved).  I was commenting on the new car smell and how once you drive, you gotta buy.  He said, "I'm just so happy. I haven't been this happy in a long time."  So it's a pretty much done deal, and I'm happy for them.

I am off to finish the disappointing Swedish 'thriller' "The Andalucian Friend."  It is NO dragoon tattoo, let me tell you. Not sure how I even got to page 400.  Bit by bit, as there are way too many characters (undesirables), it's confusing, and just plain boring.  Entertainment Weekly really got this one Wrong.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Yesterday was a really nice day. We had a little down time with the boys and Cal was so funny.  He was singing out random songs generally acting goofy. That's kind of what happens when a sports season ends. He played his last Legion baseball game Friday, and he will never play in Macomb again at the high school field.  He can't wait to get out of Macomb and on our little getaway to Western NY next week.

Then Marissa came over and it always takes awhile to get our groove on, but eventually we did after she was 'bored' with the board game I bought at a yard sale. She was a little lukewarm on the picture treasure hunt I made her, and didn't especially like the sunglasses I picked out for her. She liked yellow but I liked pink on her.  I filled up water balloons, as I did last time we were together and they were busting as soon as we carefully set them on the spikey, hard grass.  We played Sorry, had dinner and sang a few Karaoke songs.  She prefers crap, dare I say, from something called "Victorious," a Nickolodean show and Selena Gomez??  I prefer Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, even Lady Gaga to that.

That evening I spent with some girlfriends who always crack me up.  We played some Loaded Questions and I have the ability to fake people out.  Apparently, my inner self doesn't exactly match my outer self, and the game brings that up quite well.  I like a shock factor, too. I was out late (11:00) and slept great in clean sheets.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Note to Dad (Richard): the following is NOT for publication in the Family News.

I have to tell one on Eli now.  He asked to go grocery shopping with me this week, so he could "learn from the sensei." He's getting his own apartment next year and that means supplying the food for himself.  I guess I forgot how much I hate shopping with others, especially for groceries.  So, off we went Friday morning.  As soon as we got in the store, I was feeling very testy, for whatever reason.  A lady who was ordering too much pastrami was really pissing me off, and then she and her daughter were clogging up every aisle I went down with their bodies and shopping cart.  I tried to skip an aisle to get ahead of her, but she kept getting in my way.  Finally, the following exchange came:
Eli: How can you live like this?
Me: You mean all cranky and bitchy?
Eli: Yeah, and you let some random person ruin your shopping experience.

I guess all Eli learned from the sensei was never to go shopping with the Sensei.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I just wanted to say this: I haven't talked to Adam in a couple of weeks.  But it was so nice, I saw him four times in less than two months.  He came home for Mother's Day which was really sweet.  He didn't get to the mall (his lament) before he came, so when I went down to Springfield to see him over Memorial Day, he took me to the mall to get supplied with tea from Teavana, the elegant tea store.  Then he took me out to eat at the Chesapeake (very nice restaurant) and insisted on paying.  We were supposed to grill out, but the weather was pretty ugly.  June 11 he came home for his birthday, and he also made an appearance July 1-2 when Betsy and Chris were here.  Don't think we have had this much visits in- ever.  While none of my kids are particularly a-ttached, Adam is the most detached so it has made me happy to have this contact with him.

Okay, so Cal cracked me up yesterday.  He was hanging around and took an unposed picture of me.  See below.  He goes, "This isn't bad.  Look at your luscious hair!"

And Happy 82nd Birthday to my dear Dad.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed

I had kind of an epiphany while reading Khaled Hosseini's new book (title above).  Hosseini writes about Afghan relationships and culture, most famously in The Kite Runner.  This new novel is spread all over time and the world but all ties back to Afghanistan.

One son has grown up in Greece and left as soon and as far away as he could get.  As a doctor, he ended up helping in war torn Kabul in the present time.  The longer he is away from Greece and his mother, the harder it is to go back, and he avoids it for many years.  When he finally goes back, he is shocked to learn his mother is proud of him and what he has done in the world.

A daughter born in San Francisco to Afghan parents grows up and is unable to leave home. As an only child, she feels she must see her mother threw her death of cancer as she was about to leave for college. She is then tied to her lonely father, who has dementia.  He lost all his family in Afghanistan and came to the United States to start a restaurant and a new life.  By the time the girl finds her father's sister, who was separated from the family at age four, he know longer has his mind to know who she is.

This made me think about how we don't or shouldn't own our children.  Our best job is get them ready to go out into the world and be themselves.  While staying home and caring for family is usually seen as an admirable thing, this novel kind of turned that idea on its head.  I'm not sure that was Hosseini's intention but that is what I took from it.  We are all responsible for the direction of our lives and there shouldn't be any guilt about living it the way we choose.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

5 Weeks

I noticed that the next 2.5 weeks are going to be my slowest time of the summer.  I have a lot to accomplish on my home study class on ADHD.  It seems much easier than the one I took from the same company on poverty. I poured my heart and soul into that class.  This one I am pretty much breezing through.

There are a few baseball games left. One more band concert. The garden is starting to produce a little fruit.  I am cooking a few good meals. I am trying to stay active.  Actually, I am waiting on a book to come in from the library (Alexander Soderberg).  I have already read several good ones this summer. We are thinking of watching a new show called "The Bridge." It is based on a Danish program, and since we like "The Killing" so much, and it is based on a Danish show, hoping it is as good, or nearly, because nothing could be as good as The Killing. I am working on mind control (my own), as in not letting myself get worked up about minor but annoying issues that come up.  It takes positive self talk, practice of  yoga or meditation, distraction, activity, and affirmations.  Makes me think maybe one day I will return to mental health counseling possibly starting a private practice for therapy and spiritual growth.

And 5 Weeks refers to how much time is left before I go back to work.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


We have been having a great week with my family. A LOT of laughs, hopefully no one's feelings got hurt.

One highlight was touring the Horn Field Campus with Eli where he and Cal work.  I have to say the high ropes were much higher than I remember climbing at a similar facility back when I was 28 or 29.  It was a huge challenge then, but I think it would be close to impossible now.  Thanks, family for dropping me on the Spider Web challenge ("low" as in 12 inches "rope"), bending my back awkwardly backwards and bruise/cutting my knee.  Great teamwork.  Later, we managed the "Whale Watch" challenge where five of use balanced on a teetering platform.  I think we were the worst group Eli has ever had...

Yesterday we attempted to rent boats on TWO nearby lakes. Now it's confirmed why the area is not known for it's recreational facilities. Both closed to boat rentals on Monday-Tuesday and Monday-Friday respectively.  And I thought it was summer vacation season! Ha.  We resorted to blowing grass through our thumbs for what seemed like hours, trying to get a bald eagle to swoop closer.  Later Chris broke Mom and Dad's TV trying to plug his phone into the USB port to play a video of this activity.

Everyone is sleeping now, at peace.  I went to bed early last night after several late nights in a row, playing games and talking.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Uncle Cal

Uncle Cal was well known for being a kid at heart, eating his dessert first, and the hilarious one liners he could still throw out up until the end.  The part of “Callie” as we first knew him, and which we later learned he hated, that has been bouncing around in my head, is what a fine and fierce protector he was.  Two incidents come to mind, the first when I was about four years old and was knocked down by a jealous Laddie, the Farm’s resident collie.  This dog was terrifyingly scratching or biting my face, but Uncle Cal was right there and got the dog off me quickly.  He even offered to shoot it (which did not happen), if I remember correctly.  In fact, I’m not sure I actually remember any of this, it could be just the retelling I remember, but I still have a trauma reaction when a dog comes at me barking.

The second was when Betsy fell off a horse and broke her arm at about age 10.  This I do remember. As soon as she was thrown, I can see Uncle Cal running down the country road in his requisite coveralls, and into the ditch to retrieve her.  I can still feel his anger at any person or animal that would hurt one of his family.  Since he didn't have any children of his own, and my mom was his only niece, we were his adopted grandchildren.

Uncle Cal taking a swing at ping pong, 2009, age 84.

Two years later, 2011.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


May 29th and summer seemed to stretch out forever. It's already been a week, and it's slipping away. I always have this idea that if I write, it slows down time. If reading other people's journal is boring, you can just stop now.  So my break is May 29-August 11.  I have a few plans, it won't be all wasted.  But it will go too fast.  I know this.

Here are a few things I have up my sleeve:

1.  Taking a graduate class on AD/HD via distance learning, should take about 40-45 hours.

2.  Participating in School Crisis Assistance Team training in person (about 40 hours including the commute).

3.  Driving my mom to North Dakota for Uncle Cal's Memorial Service: June 13- 18.

4.  Entertaining brother, sister and their families June 28-July 6.

5.  Watching Cal play Legion baseball.

6.  Preparing some lessons for junior high boys with behavior disorders group.

7.  Traveling to Buffalo to join Pat's 9 siblings to celebrate Ellen's 80th birthday, July 25-30.

8. Spending time with Little Sister; we will celebrate our 2 year anniversary in July.

9.  Reading, read some more, make picture boards for Cal's service, clean up around the house.

10. Volunteering at Loaves and Fishes monthly.

11.  Taking yoga class and 'walking for wellness', riding bike, walking for the heck of it (I have two weekly walking dates), lifting my wimpy weights, cardio, etc.

I just have to remember not to complain.  What's there to complain about,  you say?  Well, there's summer guilt, kind of like survivors guilt where I feel like I should be working like everyone else, and I let it crawl into my head. I only feel worthy on weekends, when it's okay to not be working.  Sometimes I feel a little lonely when the house is empty because everyone is at work. And, yes, sometimes I get irritable about things like cooking, shopping, cleaning up, and the thought that 'summers off' means house servancy.

Oh, it will be glorious. I really do love my new schedule. I worked hard for it, so why not enjoy it?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Classic new use for a Turkey Baster

Today I discovered my mom's mini frig got unplugged and was all stinky and beginning to mold up.  I offered to clean it, but on one condition, I do it my way.  I knew she would have a procedure I was not prepared to follow, but I had no idea how strange this one would be.

So she says to me, she says, "Okay, but what I do is take a turkey baster and suck out the water from the collection tray below the freezer and shoot that into a bottle and use it for my ironing because it is perfectly distilled water."  So I says to her I says, "Are you kidding me??!!  I'll buy you a bottle of distilled water."  All I can imagine is some stinky, stagnant water that's been sitting there a week and then it being sprayed on clean clothes.  I start singing "My Way" by Frank Sinatra and nobody wants hear that. In a testament to her growing flexibility or intolerance of my horrible singing, she says, "Okay, I may hold you to that, but go ahead and do it your way."  She really didn't want to clean out the frig...  So I'm imagining soaking up the water with a sponge or cloth, but of course, there are no sponges in the house, only a stack of rags.  When I open the door and check the tray, darn if it isn't up to the brim. Too full to accommodate a t-shirt rag.

I yell up the stairs, "Mom, where's the turkey baster?"  and I suck the water out with the turkey baster.  It's actually pretty clean and not smelly.  I would have transferred it to the bottle if I wasn't too lazy to follow the instructions for finding the "distilled water from unplugged refrigerator trays" bottle.

Hurtling Toward Summer

That's what I call this time of year, the last three weeks or so of school.  It certainly is different being on a school schedule. You think you can barely wait for that long break. Makes me wonder how I ever worked year round, the way about this time of year I think maybe I could retire sometime soon. Ha.

So many of  my students are the same way and have dropped out, got kicked out, got locked up or just plain quit. We even had two student deaths in our district this year; one a 7 year old boy killed by a pitbull, and a 17 year old driving 100 mph in town. I know there is something I should do/should have done.  Research says --blahblahblah-- but guess what, research doesn't know every kid and the myriad of circumstances that lead them to their heart breaking decisions.

Saw my first "summer blockbuster" movie last night, Star Trek: Into Darkness.  I hope and think it is getting a new audience that has never seen the TV series or the first generation of movies.  I love watching how the young actors play the iconic roles.  My favorite has always been Bones.  The 'bad guy' was pretty good, not overdone. I would like to see more of him and sure we will.  Other than that, without shouting spoiler alert, it was okay. I could always do with less chasing, fighting and shooting, but that's what chick flicks are for.

Friday, April 05, 2013


I am actually getting obsessed over television.  I hope this doesn't make me some kind of psycho but here goes. First there was The Following with Kevin Bacon chasing a college professor serial killer who has an increasingly large cult following.  We tend to yell at the bumbling police, FBI, ATF, etc. because they are absolutely inept, but yet we keep coming back, and only four episodes left.

Next is Norma and Norman Bates in Bates Motel.  Wow, we love this one, too.  Vera Farmiga is my new idol.  Pat calls me Farmiga now (which is the highest form of compliment I can think of), and I call him Norman.  This show is going to singled handedly bring back the Swiffer. I left Pat a note today, if you can't read it:  "Get with it, Norman."

We have DVR'd the first episode of Hannibal, which we are hoping is as humorous and engrossing as Bates Hotel, both being prequels to the original movies.  And I heard one of the cable channels is bringing back The Killing.  Oh dear, I think this could be a problem.

Monday, April 01, 2013

50 is...

1. Letting go and moving on.  Pathetic as it is, some 49 year old women still have school girl fantasies. Time to give that up.  Everything from "I'm gonna wear those jeans again" to having the perfect house to going on "The Amazing Race" with Betsy is included here.
2. Letting go's first cousin: Getting over yourself. That is to say, forget the face lift, tummy tuck, lipo dreams. The parts are dropping and gravity wins.  Acceptance is the key.  As someone once said, I earned every one of these wrinkles. They represent a memory, a laugh, a piece of wisdom.
3. Maybe if I'm really lucky, menopause.
4. 50 is the new 50.  I read that in a magazine and thought it was so cool.

It's kind of like a new freedom.  I can just care a little bit less.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Books, etc

I'm having some withdrawals today since finishing Louise Erdrich's "The Round House" last night.  Good book. I had assumed it was an older novel taking place in 1988 on a North Dakota Indian Reservation.  Both my parents roots being in North Dakota and visiting there every single summer and some winters of my childhood, I have related well to Ms. Erdrich's writing ("Master Butcher's Singing Club" though I can't really remember the plot, I know I was sad to have it end).  I wouldn't exactly say I was sad for this book to end, because it deals with some pretty awful situations that I wanted to see resolved, and ended quickly and for a happy ending to enfold.  There was no happy ending, but clues throughout the book that the boy had a good life in spite of the troubling dilemmas he faced.  I always wonder, especially when middle aged women are writing from the perspective of a teenage boy (13), how accurate the thoughts, feelings, and actions are...

Relate well to her writing may not exactly be accurate. I respect her writing and find it wholly engaging.  While reading this book I was suddenly overcome with a new, strange thought. That is, I felt guilty (?), responsible (?) that my ancestors (and ones that I am old enough to remember) took land from the Indians in  North Dakota.  I had never felt personally connected to the tragedy of the Native Americans (sorry Dad).  Whether it was legal, or moral, or  justifiable by saying, "well some other white folks would've took it," the fact is, we European Americans stole this land and screwed these people over big time.

So, after finishing the story and combing the afterword, jacket covers, title page, I find it was just published in 2012.  Surprising.