Sunday, October 30, 2005

Short Stops, or Why I Still Love My 10 Year Old Saturn

First, an update on the 'Pup. He put his resume on Monster.com and has already gotten some interested companies responding. One of the first, was Monster.com. Only, 'Pup isn't interested in moving to San Diego and wants to wait until after he's had the gastric bypass before he gets another job.

Anyone not using Windows Explorer seems to have trouble seeing the button on the sidebar. This link should get around that problem: http://www.frappr.com/gardenbuds

I hope that works.

Now, the main story:

At the risk of jinxing myself I will tell you that I've never had a speeding ticket in my life, nor have I ever been in a bad accident. I've been involved in 2 "bumps", where there was little or no damage, and my Saturn (1996) has been backed into by another truck (another story.. funny...later).

I HAVE however, avoided three very serious accidents in this Saturn. None of them would have been my fault, except that if I had not been a fairly observant and somewhat suspicious ( I suspect most other drivers of being idiots---I figure I'm safer that way) driver I would have plowed into three drivers behaving in very idiotic ways.

The first was soon after I'd gotten the Saturn. My nice dark green Saturn with the tan interior and airconditioning that worked all the time and was new and was oh so nice to drive in..........oh, uhmmm yah. Well, my Saturn and I were traveling down the right hand lane of a 4 lane road in Bay City, Texas. On my left, traveling right next to me, was a LARGE GREEN panel truck, the kind cable companies, electric companies and other BIG stuff companies use to carry around a lot of tools and STUFF. I didn't really like it traveling there, as I suspected (rightly as it turned out) that they could not see me, in my little 4 door sedan. I happened to be watching the front tire of the truck, as I contemplated slowing down and letting it get past me. I much prefer things to be in front of me where I can see what they're doing, rather than behind me, where I can't keep an eye on them as easily.

Just as I'd decided to take my foot off the gas, and let the truck go on past, he made his move... from the left hand lane.... to a parking lot in front of a music store. Problem was.... I was in the right hand lane, remember?

Fortunately, I happened to be looking at the front tire of that truck, thinking..." my what a large tire that is.. why, it's taller than my hood." As I saw it start to turn I remember thinking "!!!!!". I slammed on my brakes, glanced behind me and sent a quick prayer of thanks that no one was behind me and turned as hard as I could to the right, trying to make a sharper turn than the truck was making.

It was a close thing. Very close.

I managed to avoid the truck and ended up in the parking lot he'd been heading for from the LEFT LANE!! I sat, with both hands on the wheel and was fuming. The young man hopped out of his truck and looked at me and WAVED!

I waved back. With one finger.

NOOOO. Not THAT finger. I used my index finger. The "Teacher Finger Point of Accusation" gesture. Not the other one. I "TFPA'd" him.. not "flipped him", though... I'll admit, there was probably a TFPA with a Shake included. I was very angry after all.

He didn't take the TFPA with a Shake very well.

He did come running at my car, to the open passenger side window (I'd rolled it down to administer the TFPA) and he grabbed the door, half leaned in (not all the way through.. small window, large young man) and growled, "YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY TO ME???"

That's when I got angry.

"YES, I've got something to say to you, and YOU ARE GONNA LISTEN!"

For the next 7 or so minutes I told him how lucky he was that I was a fairly young woman with good reflexes who happened to be looking at his front wheel. I explained in grisly detail the possible outcomes had I been a young mother distracted by a toddler, or an elderly driver with slower reflexes, or had I been driving an older model car without antilock brakes that allowed me to steer and brake at the same time. I never once used a cuss word.

By the time it was all over, the young bulldog was no longer growling and leaning into my car. Instead, he was set back on his heels, and hanging on to the car with both hands and a tight grip.

By the time I got to, "And next time, YOUNG MAN, you get into that truck you are GONNA be more careful.... DO you UNDERSTAND me???", all he could say was "Yes ma'am."

I don't know which button of his I pushed... momma? teacher? Sunday school teacher? GRANDMA?.... but it worked. He walked away... kinda slump shouldered, and I went on my way, still grumbling under my breath.

The second time I avoided death was just a few months after that. On a foggy morning, I was driving to school on a rural FM road. Just as I passed over a set of Rail Road tracks, and just as I was coming up to a set of children waiting for an early morning school bus, a white van pulled onto the road, trying to go across to go the opposite direction I was traveling. This event happened, not at the less than 30 mph in Bay City, but rather at 45 mph. It could have been faster, as the speed limit had just changed after the tracks, from 45 to 55. I hadn't begun to speed up yet that morning. Why I hadn't, when it was my usual practice to do so, I don't know.

I only remember stomping on the brakes, and steering first left, the right, then straight and stopping on the opposite side of the road. I was only a few yards from a very pale faced parent who had at least one child in his arms and others behind him.

It was several moments before any of us moved.

I know I was crying. I think some of the kids were too. I was having trouble hearing just then.

To the van driver's credit, he stopped and came to check up on me. He even apologized, saying that he'd not taken the time he should have to wipe off the condensation on his driver's side window and hadn't seen me.

That's when I pointed to the father and children in front of us. The van driver staggered at that point. He lived in the area. He probably knew some of those kids.

All I could do was look at him and ask him to roll down the window next time. All he could do is mutely nod.

I drove on to Brazoria, shaken and a little fragile for the rest of the day.

The next morning, as I drove past the same area, I looked to see where the kids were. They were no longer waiting near the road. Instead, the same father was sitting with them on his front porch. I was glad.

The third time I escaped an accident was just a few days ago.

Wednesday, the tutoring boss lady asked if I'd stay late, while she went to church for a meeting. I agreed, as I had an assessment of a student I wanted to type up, and she'd only be gone for an hour or so. After the other tutors and children left, I locked the front door, went to the back area and started typing.

At 8 o'clock or so, the boss lady came back, we exchanged pleasantries and I went off towards home, 15 miles away.

Usually, I'm talking to 'Pup on the way home. That night, I didn't. Again, I don't know why.

I was almost home, traveling north on Hwy 6. At that time of the evening, the traffic was so light that I was traveling by myself. There were lots of other cars on the road, but I was in a "lull" by myself. I was traveling at the speed limit and the other cars that had been traveling with me either had turned off, or had sped up, leaving me behind.

I saw a white van in the middle turning lane, looking like he was waiting to turn into the 99 Cents store. I thought he'd wait till I'd passed to make his turn. I was wrong.

He started across the highway right in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, hoping I could stop before reaching him. When I knew I couldn't, I started turning desperately to my right. Instead of trying to brake or turn away from me... I think the idiot actually sped up and turned TOWARDS me!

I missed him by what had to be less than a foot. I have a very clear image of his front wheel well and bumper burned into my brain. By the time I stopped I was perpendicular to the road, at almost a right angle to my former direction of travel, pointing directly into the entrance to the 99 Cent store's parking lot. I watched as the van just continued into the parking lot. I followed.

Now, in Bay City, I knew I had the advantage of it being a) daylight and b) a small town.

Houston at night? My TFPA stayed firmly attached to the wheel as I shook.

I called 'Pup, telling him what had happened and what was the number for the Houston Police Department and was I IN Houston or the county?

He gave me a number, but I ended up calling 411 on Verizon. The operator connected me with HPD, but after giving the address where I was, they determined I was in the county and transferred me there. By this time, I'd written down the van's license, model type and even a radio license number on the front driver's side. I gave the information to the County cops and I hope they got in touch with the driver.

I didn't sleep the rest of that night. I'm just not as fiesty as I used to be, I guess, and with everything else that's happened, I'm just not bouncing back as quickly as I'd like.

My Saturn though? It's still doing well.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hi

I don't know if anyone will do this... but I hope you will.

I'd like to know who's visiting and from where.

There is (or should be!!!) a button from "Frappr.com" that will lead you to a map. Once there, you can post your location and a message. Oh, and a picture! ***UPDATE (the button is on the side bar!)***

:0) Purty please with sugar?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Things Could Be Better

Sigh. There are just some years that bite the big one. For me and my family, this is that year.

Just took the dog to the vet, he's got a clean bill of health. That's the good news.

Called my husband, 'Pup, to let him know how much the visit + meds for both our critters had cost and immediately noted he didn't sound happy.

His position at the company he's worked at for 16/17 years has been eliminated. He's 54, disabled and let's be honest about his chances for another job-- not good. He's going to try for another position within the company, but it'll be a long shot at best.

Most of the managers with whom he's built a relationship have either recently retired, or moved on to other companies.

The insurance had just approved him for some surgery, a stomache reduction surgery. We don't know if that will come through or not now.

He will have a severance package, not huge, but something. He does have a 401K.

I'll be looking into getting retirement from teaching (Texas Retirement System). I'd thought if I retired early with disability, I'd only get half or less of what I'd be getting as a full retiree... turns out that if I do get approved for the disability retirement, I'll get full retirement pay and benefits. That was a nice surprise. Not that it will be a munificent retirement pay. We ARE talking teacher's after all. It's not like I was a garbage collector for the city. THAT would have paid better. Hopefully, it will include an insurance that would cover me and 'Pup.

Anyone need a friendly, warm, smart (168 IQ) computer geek (version 1.5) who has experience in tracking costs, dealing with vendors and a master computer flirt?

His last day of work will be December 26th. Merry Christmas.

You Know, Sometimes You Just KNOW How These Things Will Turn Out

Horton
Which Dr. Seuss character are you?

brought to you by Quizilla



I've always identified with Horton. Not just because of size, but because I've been known to stare oddly at flowers and listen to voices other's cannot hear.

Plus, I liked "An elephant's Faithful, One Hundred Percent".

Saturday, October 22, 2005

HELP??

I don't think my comments are working. Is it just me? Well. Humm. Somehow they got turned off for the previous post. Uhmmm anyone out there? Please let me know...

Anyone gonna take the challenge of the meme?

Friday, October 21, 2005

I've Been Tagged

Kim and Luna at Soul Knitting has tagged me. I've been thinking about doing this meme, and my resulting post is, perhaps, a bit longer than the usual response. Have I mentioned before that I'm occasionally not what you expect?

Ten years ago:
I was teaching prekindergarten in Brazoria, Texas with some of the nicest and greatest women that you could ever hope to meet. They were/are creative, kind, generous, loving and had the most twisted senses of humor... What's not to love?

Also, I think it was about ten years ago that I was enjoying teaching one of my all time favorite students. He was a little blonde headed boy, with a face that automatically collected dirt, even after a face washing, who was the lastborn boy of EIGHT other boys. His momma called him "God's little surprise". He was rough, tough and gentle as any rambunctious kitten.

My two, no THREE favorite memories of him:

1.) During a hectic day on the playground I had delt with scrapes, a potty incident, a hair pulling and a biting (they were 4 year olds... it happens) and he kept tugging and tugging on my shirt..
"Teacher, TEACHER!", he kept saying over and over.
"WHAT? Jeremy??", I tried to keep my irritation out of my voice, but I'm not sure I succeeded.
His answer? "Ah jes LUBS you Teacher!".

I still cry, and I still love that boy.

2.) The white face of one of my partner teachers as she came to me...
"Jeremy got run over with the tire!!" (not as bad as it seems-- it was an old tire the kids liked to roll, fill with rocks and jump on. Rural districts make do with what they have for playground stuff)
"Oh, dear! Is he okay?"
"Yah," she said, "but I may take a little while to recover."
"Huh?" (I'm so eloquent in real life.)
"Well," she said,"I was watching them roll the tire, and he fell down in front of it and then it rolled over him from toes to head and he didn't get up right away and I ran over to help him," (she took her first breath round about here I think), "And when I got to him there he was and there was a tire track all the way up over him from his toes to his hair and he was just laying there.....LAUGHING!".

Did I mention he was the NINTH boy in that family? And younger by 8 years to the next youngest? And that his brother's treated him rather like a well loved (oh, they did love that child--he was SO loved) puppy... rough housing being the general rule? He was indestructible.

3.) In his Fourth grade year, he'd still come up to me for a hug, and his mother said I was still his favorite teacher. I loved that kid! That reminds me, I've got to email a friend who still lives there and have her see if I can track him down. I want to tell him I still love him.


Five years ago:
I was just beginning to realize that my new partner teacher in the new school (I'd just married 'Pup the July before and moved to a new city) was utterly, completely and irredeemably a looneybird. Not the nice kind either. She was poisonous, a liar, a cheat and ended up convincing a whole class that I didn't like them. Not true. It was HER I didn't like, the kids were just fine. She also picked up men at intersections, following them home or to the nearest club, based on what kind of car they were driving. She boasted of this. Often.

She also complained that one day I when I got to work I didn't say hello or good morning. Well, no, I didn't. I'd just gotten news that one of my dear partner teachers from Brazoria had just lost a long battle with cancer. The administrator wrote me up.

We didn't get along. I didn't like the administrator very much either.


One year ago: I was finally a part of a really wonderful team of women at the same school, but my physical condition was taking it's toll. I couldn't walk, sleep, sit or stand. I was taking percocet, muscle relaxers, NSAID's, steroid shots and pills and three different kinds of medicines not normally prescribed for pain, but which were prescribed because they were effective against pains that didn't respond to narcotics. Yes, I was still driving myself to work. When the pain level hits that high, you don't "feel" the effects of pain killers. They don't even make you sleepy.

Those wonderful ladies I worked with knew I was in pain (the crying in my room after the kids were gone after school kinda tipped'm off). They decided that I was NOT going to walk far if they could help it.

They took my kids to the bus (I stayed in the cafeteria with the other students who's busses hadn't yet arrived), they picked up my mail from the front office, delivered things to me (without my asking.. sometimes that made me cry too) and tried to help my substitute when I couldn't come back to work after my surgery during Christmas break.

That reminds me, this is just about a year since the MRI that FINALLY, after 4 years of pain, found what was causing the pain. My Primary physician, a GP, my hero, Dr. C., had ordered it. He knew there was something wrong and kept looking for it, never ONCE thinking that I might be exaggerating my pain, or malingering. (Can't say the same for one of the administrators at "my" school...SHE didn't hurt.. how could I be?)

After that MRI came back, the doctor called me. Not his nurse, HE called me. He wanted me to see a neurosurgeon as soon as possible, called said neurosurgeon HIMSELF, and set up the appointment and told me to get there.

By the middle of next week, I was meeting the neurosurgeon. Y'all... normally, you don't get an appointment with one of these GODS unless you wait for 3 to 6 months. Really.

He wanted to operate the Monday before Thanksgiving. (by this time, it was oh... the second week of November?) I told him he'd have to wait 'till the Christmas break, as I had a rather "Challenging" class, and I was in the middle of benchmark testing, and couldn't get away. That was the first time the neurosurgeon, (Dr.A.) gave me a look of disbelief when confronted with the realities of teaching.

The last one I got was when I had to explain to him that no matter how he released me to go back to work with restrictions.. (no picking things up over 20 lbs and no bending over whenever possible) that the district I worked for would NOT accept any restrictions at all. None whatsoever.

I ended up taking my accumulated sick leave, which took me into April, and then resigning.

Somehow, I didn't mind as much as I thought I would. The last two years with that district were more endurable than the first three, only because of the other teachers in the grade level with whom I taught.

In all, I taught in public schools for 19 years.

Yesterday: Where were we? Oh yah. Yesterday: I rolled over at 5:30 am and said goodbye to 'Pup as he left for work downtown and went back to sleep till around 9:30, piddled around the house, spent some quality time on the internet, and left for my tutoring job at 2 pm. Stopped at Jason's Deli for a large Blackberry iced tea (no sugar) and taught some sweet, interesting and hardworking kids for three hours. Also got to talk to my boss lady, my fellow tutors and oh! next Thursday, we're going to Montrose after work to see the SO of one of the tutors play at a club. Jazz, I think.

Life is good.

5 snacks I love: Chocolate, especially Belgian. Lay's Limon potato chips (that's lime and salt for y'all not in Texas). Del-Dixi brand dill pickles in their tiny jars... like baby dills but not so much garlic. Cherries in the summer, Honeycrisp apples in the fall. Cheese, especially cheddar, some Mexican cheeses made here in Houston, and gjetost cheese. (Norwegian, imported)

5 songs I know the words to: Honestly? I know the words to about 300 or more, mostly kiddie songs...sigh. When I was in the Sweet Adelines International (barbershop harmony for women) I learned a bunch more. We used to play games to see who could "sing" lines from songs with specific words to them. After the third or fourth game, they wouldn't let me play anymore. Seems I kept winning, gleefully. Perhaps a bit tooo gleefully. I wasn't a diabetic then, and could still drink a little. Margarita's just helped me remember more songs (esp Jimmy Buffett) and made me giggle. A lot.

5 things I'd do with 100 million dollars: Well... I'd give all but about five million away to different causes... American Diabetes, Red Cross, Salvation Army, a couple of local food banks, the American Cancer Society... And then with "my" five million I'd buy a little land in Central Texas and have FUN telling a staff where to plant stuff. Then, I'd invite my friends over for a party.. hummmm maybe I'd better plan on keeping at least ten million?

5 places I would run away to: Australia, New Zealand, Sao Paulo Brazil, New York City, A nice beach house on South Padre Island.

5 things I would never wear: Any thing orange (honestly, I grew up with orange red hair, and me and orange and yellow just don't mix). Anything that binds or pinches any part of my body. Horizontal stripes. Shoes that hurt my feet. Anything first seen on the catwalk of a "fashion show", cause I really believe that most of the designers don't really LIKE women over size 0, or under 6 foot 5.

5 favorite TV shows: CSI Miami, Cold Case, Monk, CSI Las Vegas, CSI New York. (do you notice a trend there) oh.. and I really like Numbers and Without a Trace, too.

5 biggest joys: My rescued rose bush, which is just about to burst into bloom again. I counted the blossoms on that thing and stopped after 30. No kidding.
Uhmm my Dear Hubby, 'Pup. (humm, maybe I should have put him first?)
Taking pictures of flowers and small things and having them come out.
Teaching a child a new skill and watching him/her face light up from within at the new understanding.
Singing.

5 favorite toys: my camera, my laptop, my trowel with the telescoping handle that lets me dig while sitting on a short stool, my "Garden Claw", that lets me break soil without pain, and my credit card (on a trip to any nursery)

5 people to tag: Hummm.. I wonder? Do I have more than five readers willing to do this? Consider yourselves challenged if you haven't done this already. (and I know several of you already have)

Have Fun Folks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

OH MY! An Honor Indeed, and I'm Pleased

HOOYAH !

I got home from work today, and was greeted by an email from Lori (http://www.homeborrough.com/) announcing that I'd been chosen to joing the ranks of Shronedom. (Picture me with a big smile and a red face , flushed with pleasure and pride.... kinda like a big red smiley face)


Dear Nancy,

I'm pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a esteemed recipient of The Bona Fide Shrone Award! I've determined that you possess many of the salient characteristics of a Shrone!

Here are the reasons why you are a Shrone:

1. You have the greenest thumb and Shrones (if not swarmed by cats) will keep plants (sometimes giving them personalized names, too). (Well, I've got one cat, and yah...one plant has a name... but I ain't tellin')
2. You are a fellow Rat from the Chinese zodiac and that means you possess oodles of charm. (Moi?)
3. You have a kind and generous heart. (Thank you)
4. You've had your share of health problems (when I read up on what you had done I *gasped* and squeezed you with a big mental hug) and are dealing with your dad's declining health in a very admirable, inspiring way. (I'm slowly getting better. Really. I'm better than I was a year ago. And my dad is showing me how he wants me to honor him and his life, by celebrating his life and living on. He faces things with courage, and I can do no less than he. My mother shows all of us that love will live longer than death, and I honor her too)
5. Something about you says when you get old and withered, you just might go out crusing for penis! (And I plan on getting it too...Love ya 'Pup!)
6. You are unknowable. (Moi? **bats big blue/green eyes**)
7. You have been a teacher for many years without losing your mind (but as you said, you can act pretty well, so maybe...it really is lost?). (Not so much lost, as occasionally misdirected)
8. You've got the kind of red hair that is lovely and totally Shrone! (I am referring to your photo posted honoring your hubby's birthday. I hope your hair is still that amazing color!) (Uhmm yes...And I was born red haired ... well it grew in red when I finally got some!)
9. You're one groovy chick and I think you are super cool! (So are you Lori, and a class act to boot!)
10. You haven't killed your inner child and you freely allow it out to play. (And she's a hoot to play with too, 'cause you never know what she's gonna do next!)

Yours in Shronedom!

Lori

P.S. Your distinguished Bona Fide Shrone card will be sent to you shortly. Feel free to post and brag about your Shrone status! To assist you, I've provided the attached button proclaiming your Shronedom to place on your blog!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What a Weekend!

I have two jobs. One is my tutoring job... (HI Tutoring Boss Lady! You are my favorite boss!), and the other is doing Mystery Shops.

The tutoring is going very well. I like my job there and I'm enjoying the children, and the feeling that I'm helping to build this business. It's only been opened a year, and since August, we've doubled (and a little more) the number of students we're serving. Some of that is due to the new school year, but word of mouth is operating in our favor and there are some other very good and professional tutors working with the children.

We've started the "preKindergarten program". More accurately, it should probably be termed a "pre-reading" tutoring program, since I'm really doing some intensive phonics and whole language sight word building activities. There is only so much one can do in an hour a week. I'm also teaching a private lesson for a first grader who is struggling a little a school. I think I can help him. He's very bright, though easily distracted. He already "hates" reading though, as it's a source of failure for him. My first job is to ensure he see's this as a "success guaranteed" time, and I think he's going to need more whole language. He's got the "phonics" down.... but he's one of the kids for whom phonics alone just doesn't work. After I've got him with a nice base of sight words known and comfortable, I'll be able to show him more easily how those sounds he knows, but can't seem to put together, work. He's very visually oriented, and I think he'll "memorize" the sight words quickly. Then, we'll go on to "chunks" of words, and then to putting those chunks together to form words that he doesn't know yet. It'll take time, at only one hour a week, but it will happen.

The other job, the Mystery Shopper job (s!), are picking up. It was slow at first, as I wasn't really available during the day to "grab" the jobs as they were listed. Last week, though, I was able to sign up to do a price verification program at five different shops, four of whom were not too far from my tutoring job, and the other at the Walmart SuperCenter near my house.

Two of the stores I had to visit were in Memorial Mall. OH, that is a nice place to shop! It's beautiful, family friendly (hey, I LIKE kids!), and the variety of shops includes both the normal nationwide stores, and some other shops that carried some specialty items aimed at the large Asian population that lives nearby. And these are very affluent Asians, so we're talking upscale items, but not your "run-of-the-mill-find-it-at-just-about-any-department-store" items.

The only downside? I have a lot of trouble walking any distance. It's what's kept me out of malls recently. I sure wish they rented motorized carts in malls. I'm really considering asking my doctor for a prescription/referral to see if our insurance would pay for either a small motorized cart... or a wheel chair. I can use a wheel chair and roll myself around easier than I can walk or stand... sigh. I know this, because I have occasionally used a wheelchair at places like Best Buy and Khol's department stores. (small rant here: People, please don't block the aisles, a wheelchair or motorized cart just can't squeeze by things a person walking can)

Today's Mystery shop involved pricing about 120 items at a pet store. I had to not only find all the items, in exactly the right brands and sizes, I had to do so without attracting the store personnel attention. I managed by using a grocery cart to lean on, sitting down on some chairs they had here and there and occasionally, sitting on some of the larger stacks of pet food. I had to ask some of the store personnel about several of the things I needed to find, but I was careful never to ask the same sales associate more than one question, and I usually either asked "Hey, didn't y'all used to carry...." or "A friend of mine really swears by ____brand ____, do you have any?"

**Update: by the way, this shop was a last minute request that "Had to Be Done" and came with a $50 dollar bonus for completion. After having done it, I think the $50 is only FAIR!)

I rarely lie, but I'm good at "playing roles". Teaching for 20 years, one learns how to "act", to keep the attention of your class, or to illustrate ideas, or vocabulary. There's NO excuse for learning to be dull folks. A teacher should be able to bring some excitement and enthusiasm for what she's teaching to the table, or she can't expect the kids to have any excitement or enthusiasm either. You either LIKE what you're teaching...........or learn to FAKE it without the kids tumbling to your act.... and they are NOT easy to fool.

Adults on the other hand? hehehehe.... Y'all are snaps. though, I will admit to using a built-in prejudice in my favor... seems older females leaning on canes, with big blue eyes and a nice friendly smile are usually looked upon without suspicion. It helps when Mystery Shopping if you just AREN'T what they're expecting.

Come to think of it, I seem to have spent most of my life being "not quite what people expect".

And most of the time... I've enjoyed it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ahhhhhh, The Joys of Home Ownership

Well, I got home from work last night and discovered my husband in deep conversation with an air conditioning service rep. I knew we'd called one to do a check up of the system, but was surprised to find him still at my house at 7:45 pm.

We need a new furnace/airconditioning unit. And they ain't cheap. But we really need it, 'cause the old one is gunked up with gunk and what was probably an inch of dog hair and tile grout dust. Turns out the guys that did the tiling didn't turn off the airconditioner, and didn't do a real good job of keeping the dust out of the system. Also, turns out the installer of the old unit didn't put the drain pan in the right orientation., so the drain was actually on the HIGH side of the pan. Not good. But it did explain the leaks we'd had earlier, which triggered the "check up".

Sooooo... $6700 + and the morning after, I have 5 guys up in my attic getting hot and dusty and replacing the heating/airconditioning unit. They're moving pretty fast, because the weather is cooperating and it's not 450 degrees up there. (Temperature this morning is just around 80 degrees, and the humidity is low, so the attic isn't the oven it would have been in September)

The good news is that our already fairly low electric bill will be even lower... 'Pup goes around after me and turns off lights and we keep the thermostat up around 77/78... most people paying bills in apartments pay more than we do in electricity. We have ceiling fans and USE them. 'Pup went to the deep side on insulation in the attic a few years before he met me, so when the house gets cool, it stays pretty cool. Our heating is gas powered-- but, as we usually only turn on the heater a total of 3 to 4 weeks a year, we're not dreading the winter quite as much as everyone living where it snows.

Oh, and that 3 to 4 weeks is usually spread out in 2 to 3 day increments throughout December, January and February.

Uhmm Dana? Now you know why I live in Texas..lol.

Gonna be a bit tight to pay for this. We can do it, but it just won't be much fun.

Ahhhh home ownership...........

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Honestly... This was NO Surprise

piggy jpeg
You are Miss Piggy.You are talented and the center of attention. At
least you'd like to think you are. You're
really just a pig.
FAVORITE EXPRESSIONS:"Moi", "Moi" and
"Moi!"LAST BOOK READ:"Women Who Run With Frogs And The Frogs Who
Better Wise Up Quick"
FAVORITE MOVIE:"To Have and Have More"
DRESS SIZE:If it's expensive, it fits.
BEST FEATURES:Eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, nose, cheeks, hair,
ears, neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, hands,
fingers, legs, knees, ankles, feet, toes and so
on and so forth.
SPECIAL ABILITIES:Singing, Dancing, Directing, Producing, Writing,
Starring, and Being Famous.

What Muppet are you?
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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Poetry Post

This is my husband's favorite. I think it's about the only poem I've written that comes close to being a song.



PAST LIVES

When we were dolphins in the deep blue sea,
Together, swimming and free
We touched by singing
And water's tryst,
When we were the clowns of the sea.

When we were eagles in the mountains high,
Together we soared through the sky,
We touched with feathers
And echoing cry,
When we were the mountain's kings.


When we were wolves in the shadowed woods,
Running as only we could,
We touched with noses,
And howling call,
When we were the forest's song.

Together we've traveled thru worlds unknown,
When lifetime's gold promises shone,
We knew the secrets
And shared the joys,
When we were together as one.

Nancy France (copyrighted 2002)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Good Days, Bad Days, Butterflies and Boo's

The weather is very nice today. The highs were in the mid 70's and the low was 59 this morning. A big change from last week at this time! It actually feels like fall now, instead of mid July.

There are a lot of butterflies hanging around, mostly the gulf coast frittilaries, but I see an occasional sulfer and monarch as well. I haven't seen the tiger swallowtail for a couple of days, but I have hopes for next year, when I'll plant more fennel, earlier in the season. If I find some seedlings, I might try to set out a few more.

We could use some rain, but seeing what Florida and the lower East Coast is going through, I'm just content to take what comes.

I was going to go to Bay City today to see my parents, but I woke up with a tummy ache and an upset stomache. With my father on steriods, we can't be too careful, so I stayed home. I work tomorrow morning, and am off on Sunday, so I'll try again on Sunday to go down.

I feel a little dread at the prospect of going down there. I know what I'll see, and don't want to face it. I've found myself crying at odd times, in the car and when watching television, and tearing up when shopping. The other day, I was crying in my car when a county constable pulled up beside me at a traffic light. He saw me and wordlessly asked if I was okay. I, just as silently, nodded and wiped my eyes. As he pulled away ahead of me, I saw him check me again in his rearview window.

I'm looking forward to Halloween this year. We've several new families with new small children, so I suspect that we'll have more visitors at the door that night. I have fond memories of grand hauls in my childhood, so I believe I owe my little vistors a nice treat. I just have to make sure that 'Pup doesn't get into the tootsie rolls before they do.

WOWSER!

Is this purty or WHAT???

Sheryl did a bang up job with this. I don't know how, but she's made this blog feel like "home".

This is a talented, artistic, sensitive and tenacious person. I've got to get to know her better... especially since, from the look of things here, she knows me rather WELL!

HOW'D YOU DO THAT????

She's placed a button on the sidebar of the blog, so please go and tell her what a talented, charming, warm, wonderful job she did here. Tell her that she's even better than the blog. She's magnificent! She is Marvelous! She is.... DANG! GIRL... YOU ARE GOOD!

How do I thank you?

How, except by saying: Thank you. Very much and very sincerely, I Thank You.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Apologies To Nancy's Readers [edited]

Hi all! Sheryl here. Shhh, I'm trying to get Nancy's new design finished before she gets home from work. I hope she doesn't mind me posting to tell you I'm having a tough time with the finishing touches. When I previewed it everything looked fine, but then I published it, and as you can see it looks a little wonky. I've been trying to talk to Blogger all morning.

Me: Why do all the margins look so squishy? I told you I wanted padding.
CSS: Nyah nyah pppbbbttt.
Me: Okay fine, how about now? Will you give me some space?
CSS: NO! NowI will make the main column wiiiide, and I will banish the side bar to the bottom of the page!
Me: But..but I didn't say anything about the width of the columns.
CSS: Tough.
Me: Why do you hate me?
CSS: Because when you were a little girl you made the baby Jesus cry.

All that to say, we're experiencing technical difficulties. And if you're looking for the side bar it's now the bottom bar. Actually it is the latest in blog-style. Really, I didn't mess up, I'm a trend setter. Yeah, that's it.

(Shhh. Okay, I have appeased the CSS gods, but I'm not quite sure how I did it, so tip toe when you walk around and don't slam the door, because the slightest misstep could screw the whole thing up.)

Be On the LookOUT

I'm going to change looks here. Not my doing, but the doing of a very talented and kind person.

More later!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Okay Dana,

Dana at Green Duckies (look for the link in the post below), posted this on her site, and I "left my name".

Leave your name and...
1. I'll respond with something random about you.
2. I'll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.
3. I'll pick a flavor of jello to wrestle with you in.
4. I'll try to say something that only makes sense to you and me.
5. I'll tell you my first/clearest memory of you.
6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I'll ask you something that I've always wondered about you.
8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your journal.

Here's what she posted back:

1. Just what do you have against Stan? It's a perfectly good name (okay, yeah, it is lame). (and Tropical Storm Stan just hit Mexico!)
2. When You Find the One by Melissa Etheridge because you did find your One. (Yes, I have! And I found him on the internet, by the way!)
3. I'm not wrestling with you. You'd whack me with your cane and then where would I be? Instead, let's sit and have some Jell-O brand pudding. How do you feel about chocolate? (I like it very much, but only if I can't have homemade 'nanner pudding instead!)
4. Got to love a man with a crew cut, don't you? (oh, indeed yes! Especially right after he comes from the barber's chair!)
5. Pulling up your website after you left me a comment and finding a picture of the most beautiful blue butterfly I had ever seen. (It is pretty, isn't it?)
6. Those dogs that round up up sheep (I can't remember what they are called) because I get the feeling that you are very caring about family & friends and will do anything to keep them safe. (Ahh, Border Collies, and yes. I'm rather protective of my family and friends and tend to be a little bossy and have a herding instinct as well)
7. Why, why, why do you live where you do? ('Cause I reaaaaly hate snow for more than a couple days in a decade.)
8. It's your turn. (all done)


If you want to play, I'll do my best.

Be Well All.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Fall

Fall is both my favorite and least favorite season. It has always been the beginning of my work year as a teacher. One ripe with new beginnings and fresh starts, new children bringing new things to learn, new clothes, new shoes, familiar routines.

It is a time when the weather changes bring hard cold rains that wash the summer out of the overheated air and off the dusty leaves of the trees, bringing a last flush of deep emerald green to the grass and flowers blooming in the cooler air.

I have a mother and a sister with birthdays in this month. A brother with a birthday next month, my parent's wedding anniversary on the 25th of November, my father's birthday on the same day in December that we traditionally put up our Christmas tree. This season is full of celebrations, holidays, festivals, days commemorating birth, discovery...and death.

My father is not doing well. He woke this morning and was unable to make his usual cup of coffee, and rather than waking my mother to help him, he went back to bed. He's been sleeping most of the last two days, eating little and struggling to walk as far as the bathroom. The cruelty of this cancer is that he can remember that he could once do so many things by himself, but can't remember how to do them now.

My mother hopes for a magical clinical trial in Houston that will extend my father's days in comfort. All she can offer him now are pain pills and sleeping pills and perhaps the possiblility of going back on steroids to boost his appetite. As a nurse, she took care of critically injured and sick patients. She nursed her brother and her mother through their final days, and all this must seem cruelly familiar. She's not forgotten. She can't.

The year is turning and time is passing on. Fall is here. It is still hot, but there is now the promise of slightly cooler nights. Seasons change.

And I want time to stop.