Friday, January 30, 2009

Best news story of the year



Those people need to lighten up! It's funny! Laugh!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can't believe it's already time

My garden was nearly cancelled this year since we thought we'd be moving. But things are setting up nicely for Chris here--we've agreed that we'll at least be in the house through summer. So I'm ordering my tomato and pepper transplants right now.

My garden needs work. First, the area that should be a garden is overrun by bermuda grass--longtime readers probably remember how much I hate that stuff. My planters with trellises need a sunnier spot, too, and I probably ought to dump all the dirt out, clean it out, and drill some holes in the bottom. They're supposed to be self-watering, but it just doesn't work: It leaks out the bottom, but still retains so much water that the soil gets some lovely diseases. Yuck. I think I might lay a mobile raised bed (one that doesn't fit onto the ground) on top of the bermuda grass in an attempt to triumph over it.

I've learned some lessons from last year. Beans hate the heat and the cold. My so-called cold weather beans died with the first frost--my peas are growing, albeit slowly. When it starts to become warmer and the heat is sufficient, they'll probably spring up and hopefully give us some nice, fresh peas! I hear black-eyed peas dig the heat, though, so I plan to give them a test run this year. My peppermint kicked the bucket, but I have a nice hanging basket and some seed, and mint drapes nicely. (The funny thing about mint is that several different kinds will grow from seed. It won't just be peppermint, but also spearmint and water mint.)

I need a seed starting system to grow some seeds I've been crushing on for a year. I want to grow the chervena chuska pepper, which is apparently as sweet as candy! I can't decide if I want to go buy basil transplants or try an exotic variety from seed. Oh, and I must grow marigolds--they're not thrilling flowers to me, but they help just about every plant grow better!

So that's where my brain is right now. Fun, huh?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We're Home!


We are back from our trip southward! The weather did one thing we expect: It was sunny Sunday and this morning, but cloudy Monday and Tuesday. Everything else was a shock: Monday was slightly colder than expected and it drizzled instead of just being cloudy, but Tuesday it never got above 34, and then Tuesday night through this morning there was an ice storm! The sun promptly melted it that morning, and it was smooth sailing from Burnet to Dallas.

The pictures, as always are up at Backcountry Peripatetic.

When we arrived, we went down to the beach and watched the sunset. The next day, we attempted to hike at the trails at the lodge, but we were confounded by poor maintenance. We tried the trail at both ends, and both became overgrown at a point and just ended! After cursing the place, we went off to our favorite Balcones Canyonlands and ended up hiking 7 or 8 miles for reasons we've sworn ourselves to secrecy to for a year. If you remember, ask us what happened at Balcones Canyonlands after January 26th, 2010, and we'll tell you--just not a moment sooner.

The next day, a rather cold day, we decided to go to the park store to browse their book section. It was closed. Our plan had been to go to Inks Lake State Park until we heard that it would be so cold, but we chose to stay in instead since we were still so beat from the previous day's hike. When we realized that the chances of going insane were pretty good in a room with no TV, poor radio signal, and more than its fair share of isolation, we reversed our previous decision and headed off to Inks. Although we were tired and sore, we actually loosened up enough to do a rather steep two mile hike. Still, there were things about that hike I don't recommend: We didn't have our first aid kit, we didn't have any water (we survived just fine because it wasn't hot, but if there's one thing you should never do it's that), and we didn't have coats. It blessedly didn't rain--we also didn't have our ponchos! Definitely the best hike of the trip, although the soreness will probably linger a little longer now!

The ice storm came, the sun came up, the ice melted, we checked out, and we went home! We got home in time to get Lemmy out of the vet (she's such a people cat that it's best not to leave her alone), and here we are! We're already looking forward to the next adventure! :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Off on vacation!

When you see this, know that we're off on our adventure in the Hill Country! We were fortunate that the weather is turning around: Early predictions said there would be scattered thunderstorms on Monday and rain on Tuesday, but now they're saying it'll only be cloudy both days! Perfect hiking temperatures, though, in the 50s and 60s. Here's hoping the weather does what it says!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Birthday Boys!!

We have two birthday boys in the house today! Chris is 26, and this hunk of cat meat ...

... is upset that it was 77 yesterday and only 34 right now, but he's also 12! I invite you try and figure out where his head is in that picture. Poor old, cold gato.

So wish them happy birthdays! :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

All about me

A friend sent this via email, but I thought I'd put it up here for fun.

1. What is your occupation right now? "Homemaker" is the nice answer, "lazy" is the least nice answer, and "freelance writer" is the most euphemistic answer.

2. What color are your socks right now? White (snore)

3. What are you listening to right now? Sports radio.

4. What was the last thing that you ate? Black beans and corn tortillas--yummy.

5. Can you drive a stick shift? Nope.

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Parental units after my dental work.

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you? I do :)

8. How old are you today? 25

9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Baseball! :D

10. What is your favorite drink? Milk

11. Have you ever colored your hair? Yep--I kinda miss my black hair.

12. Favorite food? I don't know ... tuna salad sounds good right now though!

13. What is the last movie you watched? I have no idea, actually.

14. Favorite day of the year? Pascha!

15. How do you vent anger? Scream at nearest cat

16. What was your favorite toy as a child? Smoochie

17. What is your favorite season? Spring or fall--both are too short in Texas.

18. Cherries or Blueberries? Whole cherries, but blueberry juice

19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? Not totally relevant to a blog ...

20. Who is most likely to respond? I am.

21. Who is least likely to respond? Miss Lemon

22. Living arrangements? What about them? Townhouse? I rent? Yes please?

23. When was the last time you cried? Not a clue.

24. What is on the floor of your closet? Boxes and boxes ... in every closet, I believe.

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to? Again, blog post!

26. What did you do last night? Took two Aleve, chewed food on the other side of my mouth, and stayed up until 2:00 AM playing a pirates game.

27. What are you most afraid of? Miss Lemon

28. Plain hamburgers? The plainer the better.

29. Favorite dog breed? Norwegian futzhound

30. Favorite day of the week? Saturday--hike day!

31. How many states have you lived in? Two--MO and TX

32. Diamonds or pearls? Pearls, although they are a little high maintenance

33. What is your favorite flower? Spiderwort

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yay, dentist!

My fillings are replaced, my temporary crown is in, and I was complimented on being a good patient. I owe it all to nitrous.

Yes, nitrous, with its HGTV-altering abilities (they had a TV on in there to keep you company while the gas kicked in)! Never before has home decorating been so surreal! I didn't get nitrous when my bridge was put it, and the whole business was very tense and pretty painful. This time, I gave myself two instructions while the dentist and her hygienist did all the work:

1. Don't take a nap.
2. Don't pee on yourself.

The second one was looking pretty dicey while she was filing down my tooth for the crown, but we all came through it dry and unscathed.

When I'd get nitrous as a kid--and I don't know if my parents know this--I loved its ability to make me feel like I was soaring about the room. In fact, I'd lie when they asked me if I felt anything because that meant they'd take me off the gas and get down to business! No feelings like I was on the magic carpet version of a dentist chair this time, although it did reduce the English language down to meaningless noises, the only exclusion being, "You doing okay?"

"And yet I'm mentally constructing my blog post this whole time," I thought to myself.

Back in three weeks for my permanent crown and a good cleaning. By the way, they took a picture of the tooth needing the crown for the insurance and popped it up on the TV screen for me--you know things I are bad when I can tell something's wrong!

I've quit

As you all know by now, I've quit my teaching job. It was a tough decision, filled with stress and anxiety. However, I think it was the right decision for everyone involved, me, the school, the kids, everybody. I wasn't happy there, they weren't all that happy with me, and the person who is replacing me is going to be a strict disciplinarian that I just don't have it in me to be, which those kids really need.
I try to not have sour grapes about it, but I suppose I should talk about some of the things that pushed me over the edge. My principal was more than a little crazy. He could not believe that any problem related to him or his leadership (or lack thereof) in any way. Education seemed more and more like it was fad driven and that was harder and harder to deal with. Some practices that were going on at my school and across the entire elementary-middle-high school feeder pattern are illegal. I'm not sure if I can talk about the gory details of that on a public blog just yet, but I may be able to later.
It was a mountain of stress and work that I was having a hard time enjoying anymore, but the thing that really scared me was that everyone I talked to at school in some way or another commended me on my courage for leaving when I did and wished that they had the courage to do the same. These are intelligent people who love their subjects and love working with kids, but are kept under the thumb of poor administration from not only the school and district level, but I think from the state and national level too.

In happier news, I was only unemployed for about a day. I am now in the financial services business. So if anybody needs some financial services let me know.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

London Bridge is ... back in my mouth

It was so funny--Chris got out the insurance provider book and I chose the first name on the list because I'd never had a woman dentist before. And that was the best dental experience I've ever had! They didn't make me feel guilty about my years away from the dentist--although my mother might ;) --but instead did a very thorough check-up and laid out a plan for getting my dental health back on track.

The bridge posed some worry because it wasn't fitting back in my mouth properly. But the quick thinking dentist stuck the bridge on with some cotton wool in my mouth and told me to bite down for a while, causing my gums moved out of the way so the bridge went back on perfectly! In spite of my years away from the dentist, one hygienist awarded me brownie points for knowing what threader floss was: Apparently some people with bridges actually don't know they're supposed to floss under the things! (Recall that flossing is how mine popped out.)

The bridge was the last thing they dealt with. I had about 18 x-rays, and another person came in to measure my gums. Apparently a measurement of 1, 2, and 3 is good, and everything above that suggests infection. I expected the worst, but Chris only counted four 4's--everything else was 2 or 3 (no 1's--I wasn't that lucky). The x-rays revealed stuff I'll be back in for tomorrow: my fillings need replaced (thank you, metal fillings), and I need a crown. My last experience getting a crown was miserable--to give you a hint of how much fun it was, the tooth with the crown is now gone, replaced by the bridge. But, they have nitrous (wheeee)!

Mom and Dad will recall the root canal I had on my front tooth after it was broken. Guess what, Mom and Dad? It's reinfected! I need to go to a specialist to have that one fixed, then they'll complete the final step on my poor front teeth and put in the permanent porcelain crowns. I'll probably need an intense cleaning, then it's just maintenance.

Oh my gosh, I just wrote a blog post on my dental health! I am so, so sorry!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Updating YOU, Mr. Sir

(And yes, I do call people Mr. Sir, usually Chris or Trent.)

I'm going to the dentist to get the bridge put back in tomorrow. I've been in a bit of a precarious position: If you leave the bridge out too long, the tooth above the extracted tooth can start to come down and the tooth behind it move forward; however, my cold has been very nasty and I was hoping it would clear up quickly. Well, now the dentist has to fight through sneezing, coughing, and a drooly nose. I'll take a DayQuil beforehand and hope for the best.

Chris is off right now meeting with his recruiter at Primerica, basically sealing the deal. He needs to do training and get his license, which will take a little while, and then he'll work on commission. He just has to find steady income in Houston (just to be sure, since it is on commission), and then we'll be getting the heck outta Dodge. Goodness knows how long that'll take.

On Sunday after church, we're heading back to the Hill Country for a few days of R&R. Believe me when I say that we need it after all the stresses of this month! I blame the stress for my cold as well, and hopefully I'll be over it when we head down. If not, I think the fresh country air will do wonders for my nostrils. I'm excited to go back--I didn't want to come home last time! We'll return Wednesday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

One of these things is not like the other

I was looking up Acadia National Forest in Maine when I stumbled upon this:

Just as a heads up, don't be so perplexed by the presence of the priest that you miss the really casual but slightly put-out park ranger in the front row.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

When it rains, it pours.

Yesterday afternoon, it became clear that I was coming down with a cold. My least favorite kind of cold, too: I'd rather have the flu for a week than stuffy, snotty nostrils. I'm grateful it didn't manifest itself on our hike or else I would've been miserable.

Then (and this ought to sound like a familiar plot line to those on my side of the family), last night my bridge popped out. There I was, trying to be a good girl and floss underneath it, when suddenly it became far too easy to floss underneath it. I left it out last night so as not to choke on it, and I'll keep it in during the day so as not to scream every time I drink something (those filed down teeth holding the bridge on are a little sensitive).

Can't wait to see what else goes wrong this weekend!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A lovely hike


We got in our first hike of the new year ... it just took Chris quitting his job to get that done! We went back to the Fort Worth Nature Center to hike on the Oak Motte Trail and had a great time. Believe me, it was a much needed break! Pictures are up at Backcountry Peripatetic. Be advised that I took the pictures from 2008 down. I'm trying to get them into one area in a specific way, but Shutterfly isn't cooperating just now. I'll give it a break and try again later. Just don't think I've gotten rid of them--I'm merely collapsing them so it doesn't get out of control.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Cute Overload this morning

100% true. "You're a kitty!" is even something I'd exclaim.

Here's a nice link to the original post.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Yay!


No, they don't require dust jackets down here, but some brought theirs just in case.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I've learned from the poll

The Loquacious Loquat has 6 readers--two of the votes are from Chris and myself. If there are any other readers, they're too lazy to click buttons and answer a lousy poll!!!

The majority of the readers are enjoying what they're reading, which is a good thing. Feel free to share any good reads in the comments ... or ignore me as usual. Apparently the rest of the readers are stuck with things like adoption books and college textbooks and teaching literature and whatnot.

None of the readers have not read a book since college. Either that, or no one realized that this was supposed to be a humorous and broad response that basically means, "Who has time for books?" The point was the last time you were forced to read was college, but if you're like many and only grace the library with your presence to get free DVDs then this is meant to apply to you.

The readers either don't own Kindles or any other electronic book reader or they actually use them. In my estimation, they're ugly as sin and I've heard that you only buy the rights to have the books on your reader for a short amount of time instead of outright buying the book. That's like paying a $200 membership fee to the library and then having to pay for each book you check out. Vom.

In news unrelated to the poll but related to reading, I finished The Satanic Verses. No small feat at 539 pages. This tops my previous greatest achievement of the year thus far, reading a book in two days (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Dr. Oliver Sacks--highly recommended, and Chris only took slightly longer than I did to finish it)!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'd like to thank the BBC in advance for the nightmares I'll be having tonight.

I remember in my AP European history class, which also turned out to be a great art history class, a sort of sneering at iconography or Eastern "religious art" because of the unrealistic way it portrayed its subjects. The most criticized point was the depiction of the infant Jesus, who they say just looked like a miniature adult (sorry, but He looks like a kid to me!). Well, now that I'm Orthodox I can leap to the defense of icons, saying that the point is not realism but to draw the soul closer to God. When you look at an icon, you're not supposed to be interested in technique or quality, but rather the icon should draw you into a prayerful mood.

I say all that in order to introduce this article from the BBC: "Church removes 'scary crucifix'". Give me "unrealistic" icons any day!

(Be forewarned, the crucifix is creepy.)

This is why I love Better World Books

I got my shipping notice this morning:

Hello Chandler,

(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note - it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)

Holy canasta! It's me... it's me! I can't believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I've got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can't believe I'm leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already - the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge - so many memories. I don't have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it's time to see the world!

I can't wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Hamlet (bipolar) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Hamlet was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol' brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?

I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I've had, I'm ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn't take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I've found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.

But hey, enough about me, I've been asked to brief you on a few things:
You chose Standard shipping.
You can expect your order to arrive in 4-14 business days.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email my friends in Customer Care at help@betterworld.com. If you could please include your order number that would be very helpful.

Eagerly awaiting our meeting,

George III: A Personal History
Memories of Anne Frank: Reflections of a Childhood Friend
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary
The Rushdie File (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East)
Reinvesting in America: The Grassroots Movements That Are Feeding the Hungry, Housing the Homeless, and Putting the Americans Back to Work
The Language of Silence: West German Literature and the Holocaust
The Life of Charlemagne (Ann Arbor Paperbacks)
The Crisis of the Old Order: 1919-1933, The Age of Roosevelt, Volume I (The Age of Roosevelt)
Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times
On Royalty: A Very Polite Inquiry into Some Strangely Related Families
The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

Now I invite you to guess who ordered which books, me or Chris?

Guess what?

It's back!

What's back?

Crazy house buying picture time, that's what! :)

Really now, can you imagine the energy expended just to make things more difficult for everyone else? Gee whiz.

I'm so glad they matched the paint before going about patching up the wall.

I think my mother puts it best when she says, "What would I have if I had it?" I personally say that it has a high "What the heck is that?" factor.

AAAAAAAHH!!!!! (Faints.)

I feel my stomach churn when I look at this photo. Can't put my finger on why. Can you?

Well, you have to commend the realtor for their honesty. Cute little house if you can get past the copper thieves.

At first glance I exclaimed, "That has nothing to do with the property!" and yet I found myself more attracted to the house. (In all fairness, they have a little pond that must attract ducks.) Tricky devils!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Teensy update

Chris turned in his notice on Monday. Contingent upon its approval, he'll be resigning on the 16th. I think. You'll have to ask him.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A day at the museums (updated--see bottom)

Cities, even Dallas (the Can't Do City), are smart: They're very good about situating most of their museums in the same area of town. And as winter break dwindles, Chris and I decided to head into Dallas to see three museums: the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Dallas Museum of Art (hereafter known as the DMA).

We started the day at the Crow Collection, which we'd been to before. However, we'd been on a Saturday, and Crow is a hot spot for receptions--we ended up closed off from the South Asian section. But today I got my wish to see it, and though sparse it was absolutely fantastic. I have a bit of an obsession with India right now, it seems, seeing as how I:

1. am reading The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie,
2. am also reading a biography of Gandhi,
3. spend most of my time listening to Satyagraha, an opera about Gandhi,
4. have a sudden, overwhelming desire to learn Hindi, and
5. purchased a book of photography of India at Crow that was way too expensive.

So I enjoyed finally having access to that part of the museum very much indeedy.

Then it was off to Nasher. I learned a few things while I was there. One was that I seem to like modern and contemporary sculpture better than painting. The other thing was that Spanish artist Joan MirĂ³ is a true waste of space--an artist of "my kid could do that" style. Moving on, Nasher had a nice sculpture garden with a great piece by an American artist. You can actually see it from outside the building: it's a huge metal pole with fiber glass people walking up it. There are also fiber glass people at its base looking up, which resulted in the real genius of the piece. Out of the corner of your eye, you think the people at the base are really people, only to find out they aren't. And heaven forbid that an actual person stops right next to these fiber glass people and look up too! You think they're fake! I once again bought a much too expensive book and a poster of a sculpture called "The Kiss":


How often is modern art adorable? C'mon!

Then off to the DMA, where King Tut is on loan and the lines are excruciating. Fortunately, it's a separate exhibit with a separate line and separate tickets, so we skipped it. The DMA came with a pair of truly surreal experiences. The first was a large, colorful glass bridge that you went through into a room filled with mustard-yellow lights. Going in was boring, but the room was so strange--the lights eradicated any other colors and everything was in shades of yellow! I told Chris later that I couldn't tell if I could see different colors but my brain was too lazy to care or if the lights really played a trick that complete! After acclimating to the monochrome (it was really almost like being visually impaired--so strange), you go back through the glass tunnel, which is a sight for sore eyes with its prism of cool colors. Really stunning. The other surreal thing was a tall circle with a section cut out for people to walk in. It had different colors projecting on it, and I thought it was funny as we entered that people were just standing about a foot from a wall and staring. Then I found myself doing the same thing. It does a Magic Eye kind of thing so that your eyes go strangely out of focus and all you see is color. (Well, I also saw the rims of my glasses, but the experience was hardly tainted.) After being nearly blinded by red, we had to depart. Too much fun--everything else paled in comparison. We spent much less money on books, and have plans to install something in our own house that we saw in the entry way: a table fan on a cord (or a long stick?) hanging from the ceiling, swinging wildly all around the room by its own propulsion. Strange things pass for art these days, but at least it's fun!

Here's that link: Take Your Time. Lots of shots of the glass bridge/tunnel. The picture by "About the Exhibition" is the thing people were staring into from about a foot away. The picture by "Join the Dallas Museum of Art" shows the yellow lights.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Poll-tastic

I just thought I'd alert everyone to the "Have You Read Any Good Books Lately?" poll on the left. Be aware that it's a multiple choice poll, so if you're like my cousin and only read children's fiction because you teach fifth grade AND you got yourself an electronic book reader that you loaded up with books and promptly forsook for your addictive TV-watching habit, then you can check both. Isn't that exciting?

Recall to mind Cute Overload during the election season and vote, vote, vote like a baby stoat!

Soupy Twist!

Happy New Year, gentle readers!

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