Thursday, November 12, 2009

First Day on New Job - Not so Bad

Today I was to complete the transcription and synchronization of the first five minutes of my first assigned tape. That took only a few hours. I had to learn how to work the text portion and then the sync portion. I think I've got it figured out now, and if I did it all correctly, it should all go smoother and quicker from now on.

When I did transcription in the law firm, I listened to a very concise, well-paced attorney's voice, and was able to backtrack with a pedal (much like a sewing machine pedal) when I needed to. What I am doing now is listening to very fast-paced speaking, joke-telling, distractions caused by the audience, while learning to use "HOT" keys to move the video backward, forward, pause, restart, etc. Very different, but will be fine when I get it in my muscular memory (the same term I use for piano students!).

I cannot watch the video while I transcribe . . . that would be too distracting and would slow me down. I just listen and type. If I want to watch some particular ones, I could probably rewind and watch whatever parts I want to when I've completed the task. But, I doubt I'll have much time for that. I'm a very busy girl!

MK didn't feel very well today. She wasn't really ill, just felt as if she is coming down with something. So, she stayed in her pajamas all day, did homework in bed and she did practice the piano. She is allowed to listen to classical music/piano music while doing homework. She uses earphones, so I often catch her listening to pop music on the radio! I don't think she can focus and learn when listening to vocals. So, if I catch her one more time, radio is off limits during homework.

I think I am going to enjoy this new job. What scares me is the old saying, "It's too good to be true!" Let's hope this doesn't apply in this case.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Flippin' Cool Job

Today, I signed a new freelance contract for a flippin' cool job where I will be part of a transcribing team for work in the entertainment media. This appears to be a long-term position.

We create online transcription and sync to video software. The current project our team is to work on is 3300 old (very famous talk show host) Shows.

Future projects may include transcription for the Department of Justice (my legal secretary transcribing experience helped me get this job), and other TV shows that I know about, but I don't think I can list the titles since we have a confidentiality agreement. Believe me, though, it is exciting!

The only bad part, at this point, is that pay is always a month delayed. So, for instance, the end of this pay period will be the 15th, and I won't have much on it yet, AND I won't get paid for it until December 15. But, I'll manage somehow until then. There are two pay periods each month. Pay varies with the projects, but should pay okay.

MK and I have been doing a rather unusual job this week. On Monday we painted three street sign posts and the backs of stop signs and other signs, and today five more. We are painting these black, like Duke Energy did on the big street light poles. We are doing this for money to fill in the gap since I lost that last copywriting contract. I sure don't enjoy it. I don't like being that high on a ladder next to busy traffic in the dang wind. Money is money. The things we do to keep the utilities on or a roof over our heads.

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Time for Pouting

I took one day for my own little pity party and to start looking for possibilities. I have no idea in what direction my life will go, but then I've never known that. I've sent two resume's to school systems, one in Terre Haute, one in Shiloh, Illinois. I might have to go back to working as a teacher's aid in the school system -- you know, those government-run institutions that have one-size-fits-all educational systems . . but, only if I don't land a new contract for freelance copywriting.

I have applied to two companies so far, one just a few minutes ago. The type of writing I would do for them would be for various interesting topics. Far less cut-and-dried I think.

I am also working on a book proposal that I've kept on the back burner for quite a while (excuse:too busy). Now seems the time to do that. I found a publisher through another writer. Prayers and a lot of finger-crossing would be helpful here!!

In the meantime, I will go back to the writing site that has what is called "Marketplace" and will try to sell another magazine article. Those usually pay enough to buy some groceries now and then.

I'm also trying to take advantage of the opportunity to get some school work of my own done.

MK has finished reading the entire Harry Potter series. She has rough-drafted a letter to J.K. Rowlings asking for more! Even though Rowlings included a chapter on what has happened to the characters 19 years later, MK wants to know what happens to the characters' children and other new students at Hogwarts School. We will need to work on a final draft of the letter and get it mailed.

I am thankful that today my niece, Cindi, is going home for her long recovery after weeks in the hospital following her car accident. She's home with her children and that's the best medicine of all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Ok, so yesterday I lost my freelance copywriting job . . . it happens. Moving forward. I will try my hand at doing some various freelance articles here and there while I look for another well-paying one that pays by the hour. It took me a year of serious hunting before I found that last one. . . It won't take long before the threat of being homeless will be looming over my head, so onward and upward!

I'm adding an URL to one article that published today. It isn't the greatest, but I took it from one of my assignments, and will do a few more to get me off to a running, but not great, start. I can take time for improvements soon.

MK and I have both been hit with a cold/flu-type of bug that lasted about a week, but we are both left with a pesky congested cough that just won't go away. (The week in bed is the final thing that clenched it for the copywriting layoff -- I got in only less than half of the required hours, therefore I did not fulfill the contract requirements.)

We pulled up all the rest of the carrots and got only a few that still had not grown much over two inches long. We put them in our homemade chicken soup and enjoyed them. So, no carrots put away for the winter. We picked the rest of the green tomatoes from the back yard today.

Financial Aid has been cut back so drastically for college, and they raised the fees again this year. It is so expensive per credit hour now that it is ridiculous. I've wanted to stick to my guns and graduate from SMWC in about a year, but if they keep raising fees and financial aid keeps getting lower, I may have to consider graduating elsewhere, or quitting. But, I'm pretty stubborn . . . we'll see.

I need a plan.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Assessment of Recession Garden

An assessment of our recession gardening attempt would be to say it was so-so. It was fun for MK. She didn't so much like the work it took to plant the vegetables, but she so loved going out to check on their progress each day.

The potatoes are long gone. We didn't have many because I didn't have extra soil or anything to pile and make them grow in layers. But, that was fine because we enjoyed the beautiful potato plants -- we had never seen any before. We enjoyed eating the potatoes we had. It was a new experience for us.

We had very few squash. We fought some kind of mold on the leaves . . . big, beautiful leaves they had been! We had two zuchinni squash, the third rotted before it got to six inches long. We had maybe six yellow squash. We made some zuchinni bread, ate some, froze some . . . and froze slices of zuchinni and yellow squash, and cooked yellow squash. So, we enjoyed what we had and will still enjoy some this fall or winter from the freezer.

We have not had an overabundance of tomatoes. We would get two or three every few days from the plants out front. Right now we are getting black leaves, so I'm wondering if we've gotten the tomato blight that I've heard other people have had. The tomatoes in the back have given us a couple of larger tomatoes just recently. There are some more on the vines and they are still very green.

We finally picked some "baby" carrots. They are about three inches long . . . most are shaped rather fat and weird. They don't look like those perfect ones in the store. But, I think we didn't have them far enough apart. We had such a tiny spot for them, they were a bit crowded.

Lettuce was good in the spring, bitter in summer.

We never had broccoli, we couldn't keep ahead of the worms on them . . . even treating them twice a day.

We had two watermelons that were only about 1 1/2 inches long. I looked today and one is black now, the other one will be because the vine leading to it is dead.

We had only a few peppers. There are a few more trying to grow. We have enjoyed them when we get them. They taste so good when they are fresh. We love eating them or cooking with them.

The green onions were delicious, but again, not plentiful and didn't last any time at all.

What did we learn? We learned that what I had guessed was exactly right. Our yard just does not have any really good gardening potential. It is shaded by too many trees and the houses. I think our unusually cool and wet spring and summer may have caused the mold on the squash. The squash also was between the brick wall and our house, so it didn't have possibly the sun and breezes it needed to get rid of some of the moisture.

Financially, this year, gardening cost me more than buying the vegetables would have. The fun we had, the learning MK had (maybe a little science and botany besides gardening, harvesting and cooking/eating?), and the enjoyment from eating was priceless. I had hoped to do quite a bit of freezing and hopefully some canning, and much more baking of bread. I had hoped that we would have our freezer full.

Next year, if we try again, I think we will do more tomatoes. Maybe not much else.

I'm behind on school work, like always. I'm also behind on my required hours for the pay period. I don't know how I manage to get behind like that. I just have no motivation, no energy. Every day I wake up with intentions of accomplishing a lot, and I feel at the end of the day I have accomplished so little, even though I am always very busy. I guess what I do accomplish just isn't what I hope to do. I guess we all feel that way.

MK and I were planning to camp out tomorrow night with C on her mini-vacation, but it has been wet for several days and it is working up a nice little bit of rain storm or shower right now. We have decided not to sleep on the cold wet ground and will just do a day thing instead. MK is mad at me == as if I have control over the weather.

MK is still escaping into her Harry Potter books. I think she has one more to go in the series. She dearly loves reading those books. She said she loves reading them and feeling as if she is "in" the book with them; in fact, she can't stand not to be reading them. We have had some fun with it. She writes little notes to Harry Potter and leaves them around the house. Harry (me) finds them and writes her little notes back.

I sneak a peak into the books ahead of where she is and find something that I can use and mention it in "Harry's" notes to MK. She is puzzled by them, but when she gets to that in her book, she is amazed. She hasn't figured out my secret on that yet. But, it is fun for us both and I like helping to keep her engaged in her reading, and sharing it with her. (I do get a bit bored when she goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on . . . . about the stories. Ha, ha!)

MK has finished another level in her Singapore Math and just did the placement test and passed with an 80% (needs 70% to pass), so she gets to move up to the next level. She knows HOW to do the work, and does very well at word problems . . . she makes silly errors and still does not have all her addition and multiplication facts memorized, though she is getting better. When she has them all down, she will likely do better on the silly error thing.

Well, I must get supper over with so that I can get back to work and try to squeeze in as many hours as possible. No tomatoes for supper tonight, though.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cabbage Worms in the Broccoli and all that Jazz

I gave up on the broccoli. I have been putting a mixture of water, dish soap and vinegar on them once or twice each day and the cabbage worms still ate the leaves to skeletons. So, I pulled them all up and put them in the garbage bag and sent them off with the garbage man. The worms should be happy in all the food at the dump.

The white mold is still on the squash leaves. I keep spraying them with the soap, water, and vinegar mixture. They are still producing a few squash.

We have about three or so watermelons that are about 1/2 inch long! It is funny to see them so tiny when they start out.

We have been enjoying some fresh tomatoes, but there is not an overabundance of them yet, so we are just eating them as they ripen.

Our carnival peppers are finally starting to grow. We've got a couple of purple ones growing so far. Mary-Katherine thought there was something wrong with them and was squeezing and poking at them and said, "I think they're dying!" Well, they might now, ha, ha.

I go to Saint Mary's tomorrow for my fall semester return. That month went by awfully quickly. As usual, I did not accomplish anywhere near what I hoped to during that break. Work continues, break or no break, and that still leaves little time for anything else. Work just gets in the way!

MK has discovered jazz and the sounds of the 40's. She plays "Satin Doll" almost constantly. If she's not playing that, she is doing an improvisation version of "Happy Birthday" over, and over, and over, and over, and . . . . She is hoping to play with the LTC Jazz Band as DG suggested that she could . . . only about an hour's drive every Tues. night. No biggie. Right. We'll see.

I am working on an application for a $10,000 music scholarship contest for her. Age 8 is the earliest. I didn't apply last year but we are this year. There are 25 winners, piano, violin, etc. Winners are flown to New York. They appear on radio and on TV on "From the Top." That would be fun and scary . . . well, scary for me. Not her, I'm sure!

She will have to stick to her classical work for the scholarship contest. No Jazz allowed, I think. I'll re-read the requirements. She has to send in a recording of herself.

Looked at a house in Paris. The rent was too high. The basement is extremely musty and the landlord said it tends to get water up to 8 inches. No thanks. No pets allowed either. Otherwise, a pretty nice house. It just isn't the right house, I guess.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MK Weather Girl

Weather Girl, Mary-Katherine. Go to: then click on Weather Summary, then click on 7/29/09 Valley Showcase Weather. Listen for the pitter-patter of her little feet as she runs to hug me when she's done. She was sooooooo happy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Produce Market Rhubarb and our Home Garden Pickings

We will have a yellow squash to add to our dinner tonight! We picked our first one today. There is another one growing and should be ready before long.

We've been enjoying potatoes. MK doesn't want to let them grow to be very big -- she wants to eat them now! At least she is enjoying them.

The tomatoes are getting bigger but are still green. More of them are showing up, too.

We've been enjoying the leaf lettuce. They look so pretty when they haven't been beaten down by the rain. Washing each leaf sure does become tedious at times, but we enjoy eating them. I'm thinking about head lettuce next year.

The carrots are about an inch long now, so we are still waiting on them to grow. We are hoping for watermelon some time, but don't see any signs of them yet.

We went to the downtown farmer's market Saturday. I was a bit disappointed. There didn't seem to be much produce to choose from . . . and it seemed expensive. $1.00 for a small tomatoe seemed like a lot to me . . . and it wasn't even a pretty tomato.

I bought a pound of rhubarb. That's 3 stalks. $2.75. I couldn't resist. I haven't had any for years. I once had rhubarb growing behind my garage in Robinson and loved picking it whenever I wanted and making miniature rhubarb cobblers.

MK didn't want me to buy the rhubarb. She had never seen it in stalks before. When I bought it, she said she didn't want me to cook it that day . . . maybe some other day. She nearly begged me not to cook it. I ignored her (of course) and cooked it, then while it was hot, put a spoon of it and some of the juice on top of strawberry swirl ice cream. Do you know, she LOVED it and asked for it several more times. Needless to say, we ate 1/2 gallon of strawberry swirl ice cream and the 3 long stalks of rhubarb in two days.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oh, Sweet Relief!

I finally have completed the semester. I took an extension on one class, and I just this minute, 11:46 p.m., turned in all I had on the last portion of the work. Basically, it is the beginnings of a fiction book. It is far from complete, but it would be a great project to work on, if only I weren't so busy trying to get an education so that I can write books. It is a vicious cycle.

June and July were an endless sea of camps, Bible schools, and things of that nature for MK. She had two or three things going on every day. She is done now, so time to focus on her math and some other things.

I have one month until my return at St. Mary's. I wish I could say I would be enjoying time off, but I have far too much work to do to be taking time off. (I do plan to sleep as late as I can tomorrow, and I don't plan to work at anything, except for trying again to get the mower running. I couldn't start it the other day and decided to let it go until I completed my final project for class.)

Off I go to dreamland.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson is Dead

Michael Jackson was an amazing artist and I mourn for the lost art.

I am sorry, I cannot mourn the person; however, whatever he did or did not do, he is either accounting for it now, or he is in glory. I wish I knew. Someday, I will.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our First Harvest

We had our first "harvest" yesterday. Actually, it was a much-needed thinning; but, we used them for our lunch salad so that nothing was wasted. The birds snipped off our watermelon starts; there is only one or two left. As of yesterday, we had one strawberry that was getting larger than any ever have; the birds hadn't found this one.

We have what appears to be several squash growing where we planted flowers -- the seed packet said flowers. Our beans and our peppers aren't growing much, but the tomato plants and potato plants are. The leaf lettuce has been beaten into the mud several times by all the rain; but it is looking a little better and we had some yesterday.

The peonies bloomed beautifully, then were beaten down by the rain. Roses, same thing. The white roses should bloom any day now. The grass is nice and tall.

I had 4 out of 6 piano students as non-paying this past month; I also have lost one, permanently, now, as of June. I think it is time to get out of the piano teaching business and apply myself full-time to my copywriting job. With people hurting so badly with the economy, the piano teaching has been unreliable for about two years now. I nearly lost my home last year, and I have only paid half of the May payment. My parents had to come to my rescue for my car. I'm 54. I'm too old for this nonsense, and they are too old to be rescuing their adult daughter. Time to make some changes.

I am going to attempt to post some pictures of our "recession garden" and our first harvest and first salad from the harvest. It was pretty good. MK does not like eating hosta leaves or dandelion greens or heads. They are too bitter for her taste.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

There Are Angels

There are Angels. Some are "living" here among us. No, not the ones with wings and halos. These come in the forms of Daddies and Moms, Daughters and Sons-in-law, and sisters. (Sons, too, but I don't have one of those!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

L's "Alleged" Murderer Set Free

After two years of being jailed, L's "alleged" murderer was released at noon today. On the news they stated that prosecutors decided it was the best way to go because if he goes to trial and is found not guilty for some reason, due to lack of proper DNA or other evidence, they would not be able to re-try him later if better evidence turns up; therefore, they set him free so that if better evidence shows up, he can be brought back to trial.

I wonder where he will be. What will he do? Will he be back in the neighborhood? Will it be unsafe to let the dog out to potty at night? Do I need to turn every light on in the house in order to feel safer, even though I'm sure lights won't make me safer.

I have no reason to feel that he is going to target me. I have no idea why he chose L. She was single, 52 at the time, red-head, quiet, minded her own business, fed the stray cats in the neighborhood, etc. Maybe she just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. Maybe she saw something she wasn't supposed to see. Maybe we'll never know. I hope they find whatever evidence they need to bring to justice whomever it was who ended this quiet lady's life. If I could ever ask him one question, it would be, "Why?" I'm quite sure his reason would never, ever justify taking her life.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tiny Miracles - Or Maybe Just Tiny Minds (Mine)

Sometimes it's those tiny little miracles that happen that get you through a day. I decided to check my Paypal account today to see if I had at least $20 in it (you have to take it out in increments of $20 when you use the ATM machine to withdraw) to add to MK's "fund" for her trip to St. Louis over Labor Day Weekend. I was surprised to see I had more than that.

I had made a little ebay sale in April and left the money in there and pretended it wasn't there so that I could use it for MK's trip to St. Louis. Instead of just pretending it wasn't there, I had forgotten it WAS there. So, for now, instead of using it for the trip to St. Louis, I'm going to use it for the license plate sticker on the car. This will prevent me getting a fine or having the car towed away.

That leaves me with about two weeks to make up the trip money somehow. It will be okay.

Sometimes it pays to have a tiny mind.

Squish, Splat, oh H-E- Double Hockey Sticks!

You know it's going to be a good day (not) when . . .

You know how it is when you get up and the first thing you need to do is go pee, but the old Schnauzer needs to go worse than you -- and he is doing his if-you-don't-take-me-out-now,-I'm going-to-pee-on-the-floor dance? Well, so, I go to the back door and I don't bother to turn on the light (it is a dark back porch, hate that); I let Mr. Happy out the door. He just stands there on the sidewalk and looks at me. Something's up. He should be flooding a spot on the ground by now.

So, I'm standing there with my legs crossed telling him to go potty and pointing in the direction of his personal space in the yard. I decide to shut the door and come back for him after I take care of my own business. I take a step back and squish! I stepped in dog poop! Happy didn't have to go at all; he was just making the great escape before I figured out what he had done!

How do I know it was him and not Sophie (Italian Greyhound), or even Baby (cat)? Well, Baby and Sophie go in their own litter boxes, or in close proximity. Besides, their poo is small. Happy's is larger and he walks all around when he poo's, so it isn't in just one spot. That's right. Poo all over my back porch! At least he went there, near the back door, and not in his favorite place on the dining room floor. Dumb dog, dumber than they come, dog!

Oh, yeah, and when I had opened the back door, it raked through the poo. Nice, real nice.

So, I hobble around on one foot and one corner of one heel, sort of crossing my legs, and I get his poo picked up in a bag and then use my Swiffer Sweeper Wet Wipe Mop Thingy and mop the floor real quick. No problem. Off to the bathroom!

Squish! What the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks is that cold and slimy . . . ohhhhhh, vomit. Yes, dog vomit. This is Sophie's. How do I know? She does this from time-to-time. She eats grass and then up it comes later. Oh, and she was doing it again moments later. Anyway, same foot, now slimed, and a new sheet of Swiffer Sweeper Wet Wipe Mop Thingy, legs still crossed, and I'm mopping again -- this time the kitchen.

I finally did make it to the bathroom, jumped in the bathtub and washed my feet, and somehow managed to get there (potty) in time not to have to clean up my own mess. While in there, I hear MK calling, "MOM! I think Sophie's throwing up!"

What's with the ants and spiders this spring? I've been fighting ants, tiny ones . . . and yesterday I killed 4 white spiders and then one more this morning. I have a ridiculous fear of spiders and they seem to want to haunt me right now.

Last night, MK and I were having fun throwing bean bag toys at each other in bed and her eyes suddenly got as big as quarters and she points to the wall above my head, "SPIDER!" I leapt out of the bed so fast you wouldn't know I can barely move in the mornings due to arthritis. Amazing what the fear of spiders can do for you!

Anyway, in the morning, MK was getting out of bed and there was another one in her bed. You know what, that little slowpoke can really move! Amazing. MK, not the spider. Well, actually, the spider moves pretty swiftly, too. Well . . . he used to.

Friday, May 8, 2009

UNCLE, already!

I cry UNCLE! Gee whiz! I give up. Someone got into my car again in the wee hours Wednesday morning. It is parked in the street now instead of the driveway. It still has the garbage bag over the missing window from the last break-in; at least they didn't need to break any windows to get in. It is still not in driving condition.

I haven't had the money to replace the window or the ignition switch. There is also some other problem with starting it besides the ignition -- thus, the unsuccessful attempt to start it by last month's car thief. This time, I'm not sure if they were trying to steal the whole car or not since the ignition is already torn up, it is hard to tell. They did ransack the glove box and the center console. There's nothing in there they want. They just throw my papers all over the inside of the car.

I won't have the money any time soon to fix the car. Income is just not rolling in right now. It will be fixed when I can scratch it up. The license plate renewal is due on the 14th, and I don't see that happening either. If I could get a certain someone to get his old piano and crap out of the garage, I could keep the car in there -- but, after it's been in there for 7 years or so, I don't see that happening. After the second time the car was damaged, I stood there and cried and he said, maybe I can get that piano out of the garage (which he hasn't, still) and you can keep the car in the garage. As J says, that's like closing the barn door AFTER the cow escapes!

Wed. morning I went to R and asked him if he could get that piano out of the garage and told him someone had been in the car, he basically said that won't do any good and I need to junk the car. Well, why not store it until I can scrape up enough to get it running again? Don't people fix cars anymore? I sure can't afford to buy another one.

J has offered to let me have/drive his (deceased) mom's car around town and he set a price for it and I could just work for him to work off the amount instead of coming up with the money. Well, that is very good of him to try to help me, but he says it can't be driven on the highway because the overdrive is out. R says I could still use it to take MK to Indy for contest, but I would have to take Rte. 40 (which I do anyway) and drive 45 mph. This would help me for in town purposes for a few months, but eventually, I'm going to be saddled with two gimp cars, and several hours of labor I don't really have time for.

License plate renewal is due the 14th, and I can't pay that this month, so I've got to find a way to get the car off the street so I don't get fined and the car get towed away, which I'm sure would cost me a lot, too. R said if I could get it started, we could take it over to his brother's in WTH and leave it there until his brother returns from his 3-month duty with the Nat'l Guard. When bro returns, he could maybe find out how much it will take to fix whatever it needs, and maybe I could eventually get it done.

Anyway, my whole point here is, when bad people do bad things to other people, they don't give one thought to the hardships they cause those people. One brief moment they cause harm, damage, pain, even death, and unsuspecting innocent people are left with the consequences for longer periods of time. Financial difficulties are increased when trying to deal with what has been done -- taking money or time away from other things needed in their lives or their families' lives. Of course, in the instance when they physically harm someone, or even kill them, the effects can last a lifetime.

A few years back an acquaintance was murdered. She was a single Christian woman about my age. She was a good person who took care of aging parents and minded her own business. One parent had alzheimer's, the other one was deceased at the time she was murdered. All she was doing was feeding the outside cats before she got ready to go to work. Why? Why?

She lived relatively close to me. I lived in fear for a couple of years after that. I still leave lights on inside the house all night every night. I feel like I would have some warning because I have two noisy dogs. The one accused of murdering her was already in prison for something else when they found out it was him. He may be in prison, but I still live in fear. We've had some really bad people living right next door to us over the years. Right now, so far, there seems to be ok people there.

Street fights in front of my house with 21 or so people . . . gangs of people forcing their way into the house next door when there was a baby living there . . . threats of shooting . . . shots in my porch window . . . numerous of mine and R's tires slashed here . . . graphic threats (shown by way of graffiti drawings) of what would be done to me if I remove the graffiti one more time . . . my sister's car window shot out while she was driving to work, R was "rolled" (I think that is what you call it), or knocked unconscious as he was leaving work one night and his $50 taken from his pockets . . . attempts to steal my car two or three times . . . what am I to do? Wait it out? Hope nothing physically happens to me or MK? Hope the house next door burns down like so many in this neighborhood do --( and why do they?????) That would take care of any more riff-raff moving in.

I think I am a good person. I don't bother anybody. I try to help people in whatever little ways I can. I work hard. I scrimp to get by. I do without a lot. The government and other financial advisers tell us to cut back on spending. I don't think I can cut back much further. But, those bad people out there are forcing me to find ways to spend over and over and over on fixing up what they don't care about, but what means a great deal to me and MK. Uncle! I give up!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Red Mule, Popsicle, Funk & Wagnalls & the Internet

MK and I have decided that we can now safely declare that spring is here! Red Mule and Popsicle came out of hibernation yesterday. That is a sure sign of spring. They are MK's two turtles. If I am remembering correctly, Popsicle is entering his fourth summer with us and Red Mule is entering his third. We walked all the way up to Save-A-Lot to get bananas for them because that is their favorite treat. We like them, too!

Even though it didn't rain yesterday, we did not go out and plant any more garden items. It was so muddy and still a bit chilly; besides, I had laundry to wash and hang out to dry, and doors and trim to cover with a second coat of paint. We will plant a few things today.

Early on, probably in the winter or fall, R had said the only place to plant in our yard is the southeast side -- front yard -- because it is the only sunny spot. Recently, he stated I should plant along the west side of the house, where the ferns grow, where the sewer system is. Well, why would I plant where the ferns grow and where it is shaded by mine and the neighbor's house? Also, twice since we have lived here, the sewer has backed up there and had to be repaired, and I don't want to chance that with my food garden. So, I started digging up the front yard. Now, of course, according to R, that is wrong. Surprise, surprise. He says he never told me to plant out front. Ever. Right . . . . . . .

I will plant my tomatoes out back along the sidewalk and fence. I will be able to tie them up to the fence. I had planned to tie them up to the fence out front, but I think they will be too easy for neighbors to grab and run. However, I may put a couple of the tomato plants out there to see what happens.

Yesterday, while I was up on a (small) ladder painting the door frame, MK was working on homework and needed to research some information on sharks. Since I was elbow deep in green paint, I wasn't in a position to deal with guiding her through a search on the internet -- the computer is in a room on the opposite end of the house. So, I suggested she go to the encyclopedia.

I thought that using the encyclopedia would help her with using "guide words" that she has been learning about in her spelling and in her comprehension. "Guide words" are those words on the spine and pages of the encyclopedia, and the pages of the dictionary that are alphabetical and guide you to what you are seeking . . . so, I thought this would be good practice as she has had problems with it in her workbooks. Putting this information that she has been learning to use should help her understand the concept.

I gave her the clue to start by finding a book with the letter S on the spine. Well, she still had trouble with it. She proceeded to pull out books 24 and 25 and read the guide words , "SKIN between SUPER, SUPER between TRANS". (She always says between like that. Ages "9 between 11") Even though she uses the word "between" she doesn't get it that there are words BETWEEN skin and super! Gee. Anyway, I told her to spell shark and think about what she was seeing. Doesn't SH come before SK? Try book #23 and see what you find. Open it and look inside . . . like a dictionary!

So, she brings back #23 and opens it and very soon she finds shark. "OHHHHHHHH!" I swear I saw that light bulb turn on above her head.

Now, she complains, "I have to read all that!" This, coming from a child whose lifeblood is reading?? Oh well, it was a whole maybe three paragraphs of small print. So, she read it and decided she didn't find the information she needed and the assignment was too hard anyway. So, guess what she will be working on today. You got it, she has to complete the assignment and I have to listen to her whine about how hard it is while guiding her; and, when she gets it done, it will have been easy. That's how it goes. She gives up easily, but when she does complete something, it wasn't so bad. This is a part of her generalized anxiety, I think. I try to get her to take things one step at a time instead of being scared away by the whole picture.

ANYWAY, what I was thinking about in regard to the encyclopedia: I remember as a child having our little Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia and all the available encyclopedia and other resource books available at the town library. I used to love going to the old library and going upstairs into the adult section of the library to research in the encyclopedia. I didn't have to do it very often, but when I did, I loved it. I loved the old book smell. I loved the big wooden tables with the smooth surface -- the big wooden chairs with the varnish so slick you could slide off if you weren't careful.

What I was pondering (MK used that word recently - impressive) while I was painting the door was whether or not an encyclopedia set is published anymore. I mean, when you think about it, when I was a child there was no internet. We used books. We went to the library. If we had to write a research paper, we looked in the encylopedia. Now, the encyclopedia seems so very limited in its usefulness when you can glean so much more information on the net.

In this age of computer-generated information and learning, we have to be careful -- our sources may not be reliable. They may not be correct. People like myself could be researching information on the internet and writing articles that are posted on the internet as "information." (That's exactly what I do on my on-line job!)

What if our information came from incorrect sources? The information gleaned could be inaccurate or out-right wrong. Well, what about the information in the encyclopedia? How did we know if they were accurate? We just trusted that they were. We were sure that the information was carefully sought out and checked. These days people trust that the information they find on the internet is carefully researched and accurate. Sadly, not all of it is.

If I was truly interested in whether or not the encyclopedia is still published, I am sure I could find out by researching on the internet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Re-learning Gardening

Well, my state tax payment was posted yesterday and away it went. It was more than double what the estimate was by TurboTax at the time I figured federal and state taxes in January. Oh well, why not?

We have actually started to do a tiny bit of planting outside . . . right or wrong, we're doing it. We have so little space that has full sun. We will just do our best, expecting little. This year is mostly going to be an experiment for us so that we can plan better next year.

What looks like great planting areas when you are looking out the window all winter begins to have a totally different appearance when you start to consider the leaves that are going to be on the trees soon. The soil condition is not the best in this yard either, but we'll work on that as we go along, also. If I can get some yummy tomatoes, at least, I'll be happy.

We planted some potatoes and MK's little flower starts today. We planned to plant onions but a neighbor lady from down the street stopped and the little ol' gal is obviously very lonely. She talked my arm off for over an hour. I tried to do a little work while she talked, but that made me have my back to her and I didn't want to be rude. She finally went on her way and I took a quick bathroom break, put all my tools away, cleaned up enough to teach piano, and then we went back out this evening.

A word of caution: stay a good distance away from MK when she is armed with a hoe. OMG! She couldn't hit a . . . a . . . a . . . well, anything! She was supposed to chop at some roots and she missed them by about 5 miles! Well, we know why she isn't playing softball or tennis or golf or anything that would require aiming and swinging. Whoo boy!

It looks like the only space that has full sun is the east little part of my front yard. It is also the spot with the thickest grass. ugh. I'll probably dig it up with a shovel. That should be absolutely difficult. I thought about renting a tiller, but it would be too costly for such a small area. So, I plan to do it by shovel and foot, and a little at a time if I have to. I should have started digging earlier, but it has been cold, rainy and nasty more than it has been nice. The nice days never fell on days I had available for yard work. I also need to mow, but the ground was still a bit muddy today. Maybe tomorrow it will be dry enough to give it a quick round with the mower/beast.

I saw an interesting article on about lasagna gardening. Maybe that would be the way to go with so little gardening space available. I'll have to read more on that during next winter as I re-think my garden, based on results of this years' experimenting.

I still have another door to paint in my room, and then have to go back over it all for a second coat -- the entire closet still needs to be done, but I am still waiting on R to come work on the closet ceiling. I could paint before he comes, but he is never careful and I can guarantee that when he is through, he would have my new paint badly scuffed. We haven't started MK's ceiling or room yet. Waiting on ceiling work there also, and my office ceiling needs repaired. J is planning to do those for us, but I don't know when. I'm not in too big of a hurry to get to MK's room because I plan to do it when my closet is repaired and I can move back in my room, have it organized. Next, I'll get her room done and she will finally have her own room back after about a year. Maybe our house can get back to normal?? What is normal? I've forgotten. Little steps. Little steps. We'll get there.

Boss moved away two days ago. He moved back to Kokomo, IN. (he is the Great Dane) They were not there long. That family did not cause any trouble in the neighborhood, so I was hoping they would stay -- that is, if things didn't get wild over there when the weather stays warm. It always seems that the neighbors around here party and fight when they are able to be outside more and later at night, as it is light until 10:00 p.m. part of the summer now.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Look Ma, No Training Wheels!

MK bought herself a bike at the auction at the old Poff's building behind us. She bought it for $5. It has a bent front wheel and needs paint on the handlebars . . . but she is very proud of it. I took her to Collett Park to ride in the grass and for the first time she rode without training wheels. Her bike she rode up to last year had training wheels and she just was not ready to let go of them. But, when she bought her own bike today, she was determined.

I could not believe how small her bike of the last two summers is in comparison! She has grown a lot this winter and she has outgrown every last stitch of clothing and her bike.

I was pretty excited that I bought a piece of carpet (at the auction) for my room for $4.00! It was a remnant and it is only a little too big. I dumped everything out of my room this evening (all over the living room) and laid it out. I'll probably cut it tomorrow. Then I have to move everything back in. It sure is a good way to make you do a deep (much needed) cleaning. I'll keep watching for a remnant large enough for the living room. So far, they just haven't had any that big.

They didn't have any pieces big enough for MK's room, but I haven't even started on the repairs in there yet. I have to wait for Rich and Jay to come bolster up the ceiling and put tiles up. I had bought tiles at the auction last fall for $3. I've been saving them for after getting the leak fixed.

MK has piano contest next Saturday. Hoosier auditions. This is the one that if she wins she goes on to Indianapolis in May. She is playing three pieces.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who Doesn't Appreciate Fresh, Crisp Sheets and Blankets off the Clothesline?

MK, that's who! I washed all of MK's blankets and sheets and hung them out to dry today. They were getting pretty raunchy -- kind of smelled like her stinky feet. So, I made up her bed. At first she said they were fresh and crispy. Then I asked her if they smelled good. "No, actually, I really kind of don't like that fresh air smell." Well, the "fresh air" market of dryer sheets, room fresheners, etc. will be lost on her!

Stealing a Volvo Must Not Be Easy!

Why is it so hard to steal a Volvo? Would-be Volvo Thieves attempted to steal my Volvo for a second time. This time there was not as much damage, but still more than I can afford currently with State Taxes due the 15th, quarterly house insurance due the 12th, and the usual house payment and all the utilities . . . and I just shucked out $2,600 (which took forever to save up) for a repair to a portion of the roof. (The day after I mailed that check, the roof decided to sprout a new big leak on the total opposite end.)

Do these inept would-be thieves think that people in this poor neighborhood can actually afford to fix up their cars when they come along and tear them up? I mean, gee, if you're gonna tear up my car, you could at least be good enough at it to actually take the thing. Make it worth your while . . . it certainly isn't worth my while.

The ignition switch will have to be replaced again. The driver side window will have to be replaced again. (Thank God, they left the windshield alone this time!) The heater switch is messed up again, and who knows about the wiring. It was so messed up last time . . . I don't know yet about what might have been done to the wiring this time.

The police did not come this time. They just took a report over the phone and the officer informed me that I was the second one to call from my neighborhood this afternoon. The other was a block over from me. He said they had torn up her ignition as well.

At first the officer I spoke to couldn't understand why they would break into my car if I didn't have anything of value in it . . . there wasn't even a radio . . . the gaping hole where the radio used to be is still visible (from the last time the car was stolen). But, when he realized that they had actually torn up the ignition, he realized it was the car they wanted. Hello, a VOLVO. Yes, it is an old one, but they probably want it for parts. What else would they want it for?

So, I had the pleasure of cleaning up all the glass. I managed to put my knee through the threading of the front seat cover while I was vacuuming . . . collateral damage?? The threads must be sun and age rotted. Great. Now that will turn into a huge hole.

I am so discouraged by anything to do with this house, this neighborhood, and this town. I SO want to go home. But, home doesn't seem like home anymore, I've been gone so long. I got a nice big lecture from C about how I should sell the house and go back to P-town. She is so afraid that something horrible is going to happen to me or MK here. There has been so much trouble in this neighborhood.

On a lighter note, I have completed my computer class and have to focus heavily on my other two classes in order to complete them in time. It is getting close to the end of the semester. Our distance semesters are different than traditional college semesters. Other college students will be home before my semester ends. I have until June 19, but it will be here before I know it. I'm always rushing to finish up in the last weeks.

Anyway, I'm off to lick my wounds. I've already way, way, way overeaten this evening. It's a good thing I don't like alcohol. I would probably try to cry tears in my beer or something. I am going to vegetate in front of the tv for some mindless tv. Then, back to work.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Opening Night

A star is born . . . or, it would be more accurate to say, several stars were born tonight. Tonight was opening night for the Children's Theater production of "Cinderella, Cinderella". All the children did an excellent job. There wasn't a slacker among them. The costumes were colorful and appropriate. There was inclusion of the audience through audience participation; children were brought up on stage from the audience and they got to participate. Even one child in the audience was asked to hold onto Cinderella's extra slipper until it was needed.

MK was a mouse named Max. She had some speaking lines and a lot of action as well. She did a pretty good job in spite of the butterflies in her tummy. She has three more shows to go. I'll get to see two of those. I have class all day so will miss the Saturday matinee.

Last night was dress rehearsal and "taping" for a CD. When I went to pick up MK she was a wreck. She was crying because she had wiped off her theatrical mouse-face makeup; the makeup had caused her skin to itch so she washed it off when they were done with rehearsal. She hadn't understood that they were going to have pictures taken; so, she had no mouse face for the pictures. She had been chewed out by one of the adults for having cleaned off the makeup, so she was embarrassed.

At hoome, MK was having a terrible tummy ache and said she felt like she was going to throw up. She was unable to eat supper; I sent her to bed. She woke up and seemed to feel much better this morning and everything went well today.

I have an all day class to attend tomorrow and I am not fully prepared. Off I go to cram in some chapter reading.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Blowing Chunks Kind of Day

Note to self: Vomit chunks do not wash out of big, fluffy, absorbent newish towels. (One of my sweetie piano students was playing Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads with MK while waiting for his sister and lost his lunch on my coffee table, floor, big blanket on the couch and Mr. and Mrs. Potato. Luckily, I haven't gotten my new-used couch yet and had a blanket covering the couch - it can be washed.) I used the towels, thinking of their efficient absorbent qualities, to clean up the big mess. After the first washing in the small load amount of water, the chunks were still there. So, I thought I would run through again, but with a full load of water. "That should flush them out," I thought. Wrong again. So, I decided after two full cycles, all the nasty gunk and germs should be gone, I'll just shake them out. I took them outside and shook them as hard as I could. Stuff flew everywhere; the rest, I picked off. They didn't dry completely, so I've left them on the line for overnight, which I never do. They can finish drying tomorrow. I found something resembling a pickle still on the rug this evening. Mmmmm.

Poor MK was playing right next to him and she was pretty shook up. She said her knees were knocking. Ha, ha. It took her a while to get the vision out of her head. I kept telling her he was fine and she was fine, but she said, "But Mom! You didn't see what I saw! I saw it all come out of his mouth!" She was still talking about it at supper. I told her to quit talking about it or she would be seeing a replay!

Anyway, I hope the little guy is feeling better.

This is the last week of rehearsals for the Children's Theater play, "Cinderella, Cinderella". MK is having a great time. I got to see her in her mouse costume and she looked so cute. The costume made her look younger than her nine years. She had gotten hot in the costume when they rehearsed Saturday, so I sent her in shorts today and they didn't practice in the costume. Oh, well. She will wear the shorts Thursday for dress rehearsal and then for all four performances. I'm sure it will get hot in the theater with the stage lights and all the audience's body heat. So, shorts and tee shirt should help a little.

Our seedlings are growing very well.

Something is wrong with the car again. It starts part of the time. I've already replaced the battery and starter recently, so it must be something else. R said it could be a relay -- so I guess I'll have to find out. Always something.

I had my all-day alternative format computer class Saturday and will have one again this coming Saturday. I will miss one of MK's play performances because of it, but it can't be helped. I will see the other three performances and that will be good enough. (must remember camera) This class is certainly a better way to go -- trying to do it on my own by reading through a two-inch-thick textbook was not working for me. Having an instructor walking through the steps is just soooooooo much better. I do still have to read the chapters for the information, but when things don't seem so clear, someone who knows it can make it all seem so easy.

Speaking of reading, I must go do that now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Knick Knacks and Things

I knew I had missed a few days of posting, but I hadn't realized it had been soooooo many! Every day I think I should be posting, but time just gets away from me.

I have started a few flats of vegetables and flowers. The flowers were MK's choice. ML says she has some herbs for me, too. She is moving to a new apartment the first of May, so she's planning to pull up her herbs and flowers and rocks and give them to me. I guess she won't have a little garden spot at her new apartment.

My mouth seems to be healing okay where the tooth was extracted. It is still tender, and for several days it felt as if someone had socked me in the face. I asked about a partial, ". . . for only two teeth," I said. "It's still $900 to $1,200 or so." he said. I shall remain toothless. Very hard to take. I used to be more vain when I was younger. Old age and poverty kind of have a way of canceling out vanity.

Just last night I had thought to myself how it had been a wonderful several days since my last migraine. I guess I rejoiced in that idea too soon. Sometime during the wee hours of the morning I awoke with a migraine. I was in bed until noon with my eyes covered. I got up at noon and tried to face the day. I ended up feeling vomitous. (My new word, I learned from K)

Yesterday, as we drove down the street, MK pointed out the local girly dance place and said, "I know why they don't have windows that you can see in; they have women there showing their knick knacks!" Ho, ho! Well, I never heard them called knick knacks, but I guess they could be (and are) called worse things. Too bad that it is even there where she and other children would become curious about it.

The roofers came Friday and did a portion of the roof, about 1/4 I think. They re-did the part R had done 3 summers ago. I was nearly in tears because I couldn't understand why the sloping part he had done would have to be torn off and re-done. The flat part, I understood -- especially since J said it had a crack in it and wasn't very good material in the first place. So, it was explained to me that the flashing had to be re-done (again, R had done it); and that meant it all had to be removed and replaced. Therefore, the other 2/3 of the roof that is so very old, and obviously becoming naked of shingles, is still in the same bad shape.

So, I will continue to save up and hopefully another section can be done before it gets too bad. The work done the other day, so far, seems to have fixed the horrible leak. Apparently, when R did the roof, he did not do the flashing correctly and that is why when it rained outside, it poured inside on the entire NE section of the house. Now all I have to do is put in new ceilings in two rooms and two closets, replace the floor in MK's room, repaint her room after I wash off all the moisture gunk off the walls, and paint the closets and whatever else it takes. It will be nice to be able to put clothes in the closets and her in her room.

Now, if only I can get the next part fixed before it begins to leak. They tell me that part is steep enough that the rain should continue to just run off. Hellooooo! This is me and my house they are talking about. I don't have that kind of good luck.

One step at a time.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Legally Blind (Blonde?) Driver

Yesterday, I discovered that my driver's license had expired on my birthday. So, today, I found the new location of the DMV and got the license renewed. Wow! $26. I suppose that includes a late fee for dummies.

They have this vision testing thing that you have to place your forehead against. I could see other people's makeup, and I'm sure I saw ginormous flakes of skin hanging there, too. So, I was supposed to look in there and read three sets of letters on line five. Well, I kept reading what I (barely) saw (with my glasses ON!) and she kept telling me to do it again. I was reading only what I could see in the middle. So, on the last try I finally saw three sets of numbers lit up. I read all three sets, guessing at some numbers by what I thought the shape of the numbers looked like.

What I learned is that you can't be squeamish about pushing your forehead on that filthy little bar. Your head controls the bar, and if you don't push it just right, all three columns will not light up.

The DMV also has new photography equipment. Boy, I've had some bad license pictures in the past (some good ones, too), but this one out-bads them, hands down! OMGoodness! It is enough to make you drive with extreme caution because the thought of whipping that thing out to show a police officer is enough to make you become the best driver in the world. No way do I want someone gawking at that picture.

The DMV has a perfect money-making scheme for the state government. Don't send license renewal notices in the mail. Dummies like me won't remember to renew them. They can make money off people like me by charging late fees AND by nice little fines if you happen to get stopped or have an accident without a license. I wonder how much longer I would have gone without noticing that it had expired if I had not had to write it down on the form at the dentists' office yesterday.

I can say one nice thing about the DMV, they have a pretty good system of herding people through. When I arrived (after waiting a day and forever for a train), I was discouraged to see that there was a long line, but I soon could see that the line moved reasonably quickly. People were sent directly to seats at the counter to be helped. When my turn came, I was promptly sent to a seat in the waiting area. Of course. My wait was probably five or ten minutes when my name was called. The rest of the process was pretty quick. The picture? I'm stuck with it until 2015. The lady told me the year so that I will know next time. I think it was 2015. Was it 2015? Now, when is it next time?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wrong again!

Well, so much for the idea that the antibiotics for my tooth extraction will help my throat. My physician only prescribed two pills to be taken one hour before the procedure. I had hoped I would have some for a few days, but nope. I get to tough it out on my own, I guess. The pharmacist said it had been two years since I had antibiotics. That's pretty good. I usually try to tough out the minor stuff on my own.

I met one of my new neighbors today. His name is Boss. He is long, lanky, tall and awkward. He is a nine-month-old Great Dane. I would say his coat is what you would call brindle. It is brown and black. His owner brought him over to meet MK. She wanted to make sure MK met him that way instead of him surprising her in the back yard (next door). Boss is a beauty. They said he is afraid of Happy. Well, Happy is just noisy. I hope Boss will get used to that. Happy is afraid of the little dogs at the house on the other side of the yard -- they are noisy. I haven't heard a peep out of Boss, so far.

The neighbors across the street had their car stereo so loud last night that it interfered with my American Idol. You don't mess with my American Idol. Speaking of . . . it is time for American Idol right now. Don't mess with me right now.

Busy times!

The endless working goes on and on.

I had a great weekend with the girls. It was fun to spend time with them. They are all silly in their own ways. K was not feeling well, and I think she shared with me. I am getting sick with a sore throat, headache, and general yuk.

I was to have a tooth extracted today, but that is postponed until Tuesday evening. Antibiotics first (because of heart murmur). Bonus -- the antibiotics might help get rid of the sore throat. So, I'm eating Ramen chicken soup which is supposed to be helpful; and honey in and on everything.

At dentists' offices these days, you have to pay up front for the work. I paid today for what they will remove from me next Tuesday. I also have a fractured filling in another tooth for which I will have to save up to fix. I'll have to save for a partial to fill in my lovely gaping hole. Maybe I'll just wait until next years' tax refund. It's only a year.

Writers' group meets in the morning. I don't know if I'll feel well enough by then to go. I also don't want to expose those older folks with something that will make them sick. Leon is 90 or so, and he has been in the hospital for so long after having his foot amputated; I would hate to cause him to be ill.

I have not written anything that I can share with the group; I haven't had time to make any changes to the fictional story I am writing for fiction class. Where does the time go? I have a nice schedule typed out and posted on the cabinet, but it never fits into my daily life. Being sick doesn't fit in either. I get up a bit, do a little, then go rest a lot.

Time to rest. I've done a wee bit.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Mmmmmm . . . . Thin Mints!

They will make me thin, right?


I grabbed this from Meg who grabbed it from Jane. It seemed interesting and fun. Feel free to grab from me!

grabbed this from my friend, Jane.

The introduction states, “apparently the BBC reckons most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here.” Some of the list seems to come from the BBC’s Big Read list of 100 favorite books in Britain, although not completely and not in entirely the same order.

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte X +
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible – Front to back? No. Bible study classes and theology classes count?
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily BronteX+
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens X
Running total: 5

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott X+
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – parts
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
Running total: 7

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens X
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck ++++++++ many times
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll +
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame +
Running total: 12

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens X
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (some)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres – saw the movie!
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden X
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X +
Running total: 15

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
Running total: 16

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens -- Tried, failed.
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Running total: 16

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold X
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding X
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Running total: 18

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett +
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
Running total: 20

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
Running total: 23

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X (MK read this also, at age 7)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

For a grand total of 24! Not as many as Jane (53), but a fair amount over the BBC’s opinion.

Not as many as Meg (29), but honestly, some titles seemed familiar, and with my memory anymore, I'm not sure if I read them or not! So, I didn't mark them if I wasn't sure. Some were probably movies I've seen.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Activities and more

I finished reading Frankenstein yesterday evening. I have to say that I would never have read this book in my life if I hadn't needed to for class. I have to do a critical essay now which requires me to think. That could be dangerous. Well, for no-one but myself. Anyway, I have to look for setting, plot, character and style development. I need to evaluate the written work: discuss my opinions, and look at various aspects: its ability to reflect the time period (historical critic); its reflections of female or male gender roles (sexual critic); its political/economical comments (political/social critic); and, its general comments on other ideas (new critic). What fun! This is my first essay for this instructor. New instructors make me nervous because I never really know what they expect and one poor grade could hurt my honors status.

I am now convinced that Bigfoot is real. He is actually Frankenstein's monster. He was indestructible and when he tried to take his own life (after all, the book only reveals his plans to kill himself -- it never actually goes on to detail his suicide ------oopsie! Spoiler Alert! Spoiled the ending, sort of.), he failed and he is to walk around terrorizing people for infinity. Now that I have solved the mystery of Bigfoot, on I go to solving the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster.

Speaking of honors status, I received my pin and certificate in the mail yesterday for Sigma Tau Delta National English Honor Society. I am qualified to compete for scholarships and awards from this organization. They have scholarships for Juniors/Seniors/Graduate Students. I wonder what my chances are. None, if I don't look into it and find out what there is available. I did look into it earlier, and it appears to be too late for this year, but next year looks good.

I did my first draft of the story I am writing for fiction class (same class of Frankenstein reading). I took it to writers' group Friday morning and read it to them. Since there were several other people with readings, I read the story quickly. Even reading it quickly, some of the others said that they were reading ahead of me to see what was happening next. So, that seems to be a good thing. They were very helpful in suggestions, and some suggestions fell right in line with what I thought I would need to work on as I progress with the story.

My intent was to get the main story and action down as far as I could take it, then go back and fill in some details and correct some things later. Some were (and they agreed): I need to go back and give descriptions of the characters; I need to tighten up the time frame of some of the happenings to fit better into the speed of the imminent danger; even though it is a science-fiction/horror, I need to check facts and make sure it is believable so that the reader is not turned off by something that couldn't possibly happen. I'm not far off, but want to be sure. Even science fiction needs to have some probability; and, I was undecided about the ending. I was trying to decide if I wanted to continue with some more adventures, or just leave it hanging so the reader can imagine what is to come next. This is how it is for now and they all seemed to like it ending that way.

This story is to be between 1,000 and 5,000 words and I am right around 2,000ish. It is due at the end of the semester, so I have time to work on it more. The other writers said they are quite willing to be my guinea pigs, so-to-speak, and let me read it to them another time or two. Their feedback is helpful, and reading it out loud to an audience helps you to hear how it reads. Having the chance to put it down a few days and going back to read it helps, too. You read it fresh that way and things come across differently.

The sunshine is deceivingly beautiful today. I sit here at my window and look out and am so tempted to sit on the swing, but it just isn't warm enough to really enjoy that. So, I'll remain content to look at it through the window.

Oh, be still, my heart! Yesterday (Valentine's Day), MK called R and asked him to get some "fake" flowers from Mr. T's shop, find a pretty basket and put them in it, then come to our house and pick me and her up for a lunch "date" at a nearby greasy-spoon-type diner. He did. He had hidden the flowers behind the seat and as soon as she got in, she got them and gave them to me saying they were from her and him. He did a nice job. Silly him. He has not been a romantic part of my life for many, many years, but he couldn't hide the look of pride in himself for having done such a thing that made me smile. Sap.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Harrumphhhh! I got my newest gas bill. It made it to over $200 this time. $209.19. It really ticks me off to think I have to pay over $200 for a month of being cold all the time. I kept that thermostat under 60 and only cranked up the heat when students came. What's in store for next year? Under 50? Like David Letterman said, that dressing in layers business is hogwash. It did not help. I remember when I could heat or air condition the house (in Robinson) for $33/ month. Those days are long gone!

Thankfully, we have had a few warm days and will have a few more before the cold returns this weekend. Maybe it will help get the bill back under $200.

MK finally has play practice tonight. Two practices had been canceled so it has been nearly a month since she has been to practice. During the month of March, she will have many practices and will keep us busy running back and forth and figuring out how to fit everything in around them.

Monday, February 9, 2009

In the business of writing, disappointments can be big, successes small, or vice versa. I received notice that an article I had written (and competed against some other writers) had been chosen and purchased for publication for a prestigious education magazine (to be un-named according to contract as ghost writer). The pay was $32.00. Not bad for one page, single-spaced. The very next day, in the mail I received back my contract for the marketing of a poem I had written that was chosen for test marketing for a greeting card company. They decided not to use it. That would have paid $300. This is a time when vice versa would have come in handy!

I am a little over half-way through reading "Frankenstein." I need to get it finished and then read the inclusive textbook material and get my essay written. The language of the time (1818) when Frankenstein was written is different than today. It is quite descriptive -- flowery.

Not having read the book before, and having seen the movie ages ago as a very young child, I was confused and thought Frankenstein was the monster that was created by a mad scientist. Frankenstein was not the monster . . . or, was he? Was he a monster for creating a life and then abandoning it the moment it came to life? The thing was vulgar to him, so he cast it out without teaching it anything, or even clothing it or feeding it. I don't remember what happened in the movie I saw when I was a child, so I look forward to finding out what happens.

The warm weather these last few days has been quite welcome. I am actually able to sit here and type without shivering. My hands don't feel like ice. My fingers are not numb. It is wonderful! I considered hanging my laundry out to dry today, but I decided it wasn't breezy enough to dry them, especially towels and jeans.

Writers' group meets this Friday. I haven't written anything to share with the group. Maybe I can share one of my blog journal pages. I'll have to look and see if there is anything they would be interested in. It is sad that I am majoring in creative writing, but there is no time for creative writing. Someday . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One Spark Short of a Flame

Today, as MK and I were out and about, she saw a school bus parked in front of a house in a nice residential neighborhood. She asked why it would be parked there and I told her that the bus driver probably lived there, and instead of driving it all the way back to the bus garage, it was probably closer to park at the home until time to pick up children from school. MK then asked, "But what if the bus garage is in Connecticut?"

Less Flatulence for a Healthier Planet?

I was rating articles in and came across an article that was written under the category "Daily Choices for a Healthier Planet." I do not know the name of this article's author because rating is done anonymously. Here is part of the article:

You are probably taking steps towards conserving energy to protect the environment. More people are carpooling, turning down the thermostat and recycling than ever before; but have you considered how your diet affects global warming? Here is what you need to know about eating for a greener planet.

The Basics

A green diet is about reducing consumption of processed foods and meat-based products. This method of eating reduces methane emissions, saves energy and lessens waste.

The Problem with Methane

Focusing on reducing carbon monoxide emissions is important, but methane is much more harmful to the environment. Methane gas is 23 times more damaging to the environment then Carbon Dioxide.

The primary producer of methane gas on this planet is cattle farming. The flatulants and manure from raising cows, pigs and poultry increases methane in the atmosphere and can create a snowball effect, hastening global warming. The release of methane "can cause greater microbial activity causing further increases in methane emissions. Thus, climate change induced by humans could actually trigger the release of more greenhouse gases from natural systems."

Ok, so, as I read this, I wasn't too clear on what the point is. If we eat less meat and processed foods, then there will be less gas emission . . . from . . . . people? . . . from cows because we would raise fewer cows ?

If we quit raising cows, pigs, and chickens, there will be fewer animals to fart? Less farting means less methane gas? Well, then what about dogs, eight-year-olds, and men? Are they saying the animals are farting too much; or are they saying people are farting too much because of eating the animals? I don't know, but isn't it true that when we eat fresh vegetables and beans for our health, we eat more roughage which produces more flatulence?

What if we feed Beano to all the cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, eight-year-olds,or men (and some women)? Then there would BE NO gas!

Monday, February 2, 2009

No More Babies

My littlest grand-baby is going to be six years old this Friday. At age five and kindergarten, I still think of her as a baby. At age six, I don't think I get to do that anymore. She is the last of the babies in my family. Though I love seeing my grand-babies grow up, I will miss all their little baby ways.

I had hoped to knock out a big chunk of the book "Frankenstein" on Sunday afternoon/evening. I curled up on the couch under my blanket and afghan. I started out sitting upright, but somehow slid way down. I ended up with two naps! I made it all the way to Chapter IV, page 34! Impressive, NOT! How will I ever finish six novels (and write essays) for this semester for this class? I have to read for another class, too! And the third class I don't have to read novels, but I do have a huge textbook to get through. I think I will have to sit up in an uncomfortable chair without a soft cover; otherwise, I'll never finish even the first book.

I sometimes question my motives for working on finishing my baccalaureate degree at this time in my life. I had taken several turns in my life which led me far from achieving such a goal. I finally reached a point where I thought there is always going to be something leading me in new directions; I was getting old enough that it became a point of "now or never." I decided NOW.

If I inherit the longevity of Grandpa, I could live to be 94! Well, if so, then I have another half of a lifetime for learning and working. So, why not do something I love and that I can do from home or anywhere? Why not reach for new heights? A good friend often said that if you stop learning, then you are dead. So, I think I'll keep learning.

I also had a drive to prove to myself and a specific someone who made me believe that I am the "dumbest person he knows on earth" that I am intelligent. I do have value. I have merit. My life is meaningful. I had to prove I can do it. Sure, I've had some snags along the way. There have been some trials, stress, worry over many other things . . . but, I haven't given up yet. I feel like it sometimes; but, wonderful encouraging remarks and comments from instructors bolster me. I am shocked when they say that they love the way I think, or that I am astute. Me? Have they confused me with some other student? I love those A's, too! Such a small reward that has such power. (I have a higher power in my life; please don't think that I am disregarding that.)

The hardest part of this journey is believing in myself. I grow weary of significant people in my life who feel they are "helping" me by shooting me down in my tracks. You know what I mean, "constructive criticism." Cutting people down is not building people up.

Off I go, I have the other half of my life to construct.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another Day, Another Dollar or Two

Ten hours on my copywriting job today! I just made the required minimum hours for the pay period. Whew! That's what I get for letting MK enjoy three days of sledding this week. Oh, well. She had a blast, so whatever. The schedule I should be following was not adhered to very well this week. I need to be getting in more than the minimum required hours each week. It is amazing how I can never seem to accomplish that. It is a job. I used to work jobs out of the home for 8 hrs a day. Working in the home should be the same. Life gets in the way and other people do not understand that working at home is WORK! People do not treat it with the same respect. People do not understand that working in the home is the source of income to sustain the home and everything that goes into it.

Tomorrow (which is actually today) will be for homework and other work. I also have a few pages of MK's math to check over. She just finished her current level of Singapore Math, so I need to get the next level. She is enjoying this method, so I'll stick with it. I think the decision to backtrack and give her extra practice on the early skills was a good one. She is getting it better this time.

Though MK still has not memorized all her math facts, she does understand them and how they work. Not memorizing the math facts has nothing to do with the curriculum; it is her attitude. She is still working very hard at trying to find a career that requires no math, and how to live her life without math.

It is after midnight. I'm so cold I'm shaking. My fingers are like ice. I am so tired of being cold, but I do think keeping the thermostat below 60 is helping to keep the heat bills down -- at least I hope so. I haven't received the most current bill yet, but I did manage to keep it below $200 last month. My daughter's bill was over $300. I hope this doesn't happen for me. I do crank up the heat during piano students' lesson times; those ivories get very cold! We did see a robin on Friday. Hopefully spring weather is soon to follow.

Time to tuck myself into my big warm blanket and afghan for the night (morning).

Friday, January 30, 2009


Well, despite K & G's efforts, I did manage to get stuck in snow three times today. The driveway was so nice and clear and I am so, so, so grateful! As soon as I hit the alley as I backed the car out of the driveway -- STUCK! Hot rubber smells horrible, by the way. R came with his 4-wheel drive Suburban and a big chain and pulled my car most of the way out of the alley.

Next, I was stuck at the corner just south of R's shop. I would have been fine, but another driver crowded me into the deeper snow where the snowplow left a lovely pile. Thanks, whomever you were. R to the rescue again!

I was nearly stuck on two corners of side streets in the south end of town, but I managed to slide out of them.

Lastly, at the end of the day, I was stuck in the alley just outside my driveway again. More burned rubber, but I finally got in the driveway and missed the neighbors brick garage by an inch or two. I had sent MK up to the house to get our shovels, but I kept rocking and spinning, rocking and spinning and though I was grumbling not-so-nice words to myself, I had to laugh. She was near the gate cheering me on. Her enthusiasm and spirit would have pulled the Colts back into a winning season!

MK had the opportunity to go sledding once more. The hill had most of the snow worn off, but she was able to go down an area that hadn't been used as much. Since it wasn't as cold and the snow wasn't as deep, I was able to walk part of the way up the hill to take photographs. Then the camera batteries died, so I had to go back to the truck for new batteries. By the time I was able to get back to take more pictures, they were about ready to leave. I like the closer pictures. I took one as MK was headed right toward me. (I got out of the way just in time!) The close-up pictures are really neat. (Yeah, I said neat. I am a product of being a teenager in the 70's. Peace, man.) The sun was out and the colors are more vibrant.

We helped Mr. T. a little today. He had a shipment of about four pallets of store goods. We brought all the boxes in, unpacked some, and put stock away. We will go back tomorrow and finish the rest. He worries me so much. He is so feeble and barely able to walk. He has fallen many times and I don't know how he manages in this snow. R pulls Mr. T's car up to his back door and keeps his walkway shoveled in an effort to make it as safe as possible.

Tomorrow, there will be no sledding. That is good. It is the last day of my pay period and I must put in as many hours as possible. I love having a job that I can do at any hour of the day or night; I love that I can work in my pajamas if I want to (and DO often!). However, it is hard to be disciplined when you have an active 8-year-old, other jobs, homeschooling, college, and life in general. Procrastination is my hobby. Complaining is my forte'. House payments (and all other bills) are my motivation. No matter how motivated I get, it seems there isn't enough reward ($) to go around.

Time to get motivated. I can earn a little more reward before I give up for the night.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow Everywhere

We got about 11 inches of snow here, so MK has had her wish and she has been sledding two days in a row now. She said she prayed really hard for enough snow for sledding. I told her to pray a little less next time. We could be in for a blizzard around Monday if the wind is just right. Hopefully it will stay far to the East of us.

I managed to shovel the front steps and walk, the back walk to the car, then get the snow off the car. The driveway and alley were ridiculous and not promising for getting the car out any time soon. My back, shoulders and arms were aching, my feet and hands were freezing and wet, so I decided to give it up and wait for spring (actually, just for some melt-off). While I was teaching piano to two siblings, their parents slipped around back and shoveled the snow from behind my car and drove their 4-wheel drive truck up and down the alley to pack the snow down enough for me to be able to get out. They were worried about my being able to get out in an emergency. What thoughtful people they are. I sure appreciate it. Ha, ha, it's kind of funny, too. I used to be the young girl who went out and shoveled walks for elderly and pushed cars that were stuck in the snow. Now, I'm turning into the elderly. I used to be able to work circles around anybody; not so much anymore.

With being out with MK the past two days sledding (she did the sledding -- I took pictures), I am behind schedule on my work, so I have a lot of hours to make up. I'm also trying to get off to a good start with my classes this semester, and so far have one started. I am reading Frankenstein. YUK. I feel like I did as a kid in school reading required books. I do, however, get to pick the titles, but I have to stay within the required genres. The instructor recommended Frankenstein for the horror genre, so be it. I never read horror books, nor do I watch horror movies. I'm doing it first to get it over with. MK offered to help me and let me read her Frankenstein -- but it was a Bugs Bunny Frankenstein or some such thing. I don't think the Professor would be impressed if I did a paper on that version. :-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Yesterday was my return at St. Mary's. I also met with a WED advisor to see how close I am to graduation. At first I was told by my regular (major-related) advisor that I will graduate in the spring of 2010. But, when I met with the WED advisor and she did an audit of my transcript, she informed me that three of the courses I completed do not qualify for my electives unless I get it in writing from my other advisor that they may be substituted for level 300 or above. I have emailed him and requested it in writing. If I have to take three extra classes, that is a waste of $2,700 plus another $2,7000 on top of that!

Also, she said I will still be missing two other classes. So, no spring graduation for me. If everything goes well, I should be graduating in December of 2010. One extra semester. I was so sad when I left there, but I am glad it is only a semester's delay and not an entire year.

Other than that, it was a pretty good day. I already have the book for the computer class, so I didn't have to spend over $100 for that one. The other two classes don't require a textbook, though I can use one which I already have for reference. Literature class requires the reading of six novels. The good ol' public library can provide those for free. So, much money saved on textbooks. This is the first semester without laying out money for books.

MK and I ate at the college and she loved that. She always wants to do that when we go to my returns, but they aren't always open at the particular times we are there. They were this time and it was a fun treat for her. There was a little snow on the ground and it was cold, but not severely cold, so it wasn't too bad running around campus all morning.

Today is supposed to be the start of my new schedule since my new semester is started. I'm off by a few hours, but hope to do better tomorrow. The hard part of keeping to a schedule is all the incidental things that come along each day; also, the fact that MK wants so much attention all the time. We can do things together, go on outings, have adventures, whatever . . . but she always wants more . . . except for when I say it is time to sit down and go over her homework. Then, suddenly, I am the last person she wants to see! Speaking of homework, I think I'll check and see how she is doing. She is hoping for more snow today so that she can go sledding, but homework and piano come first . . . and, I'm throwing in a rule for good attitude, too. So far, that is not improving much. She must need a reminder about the sledding. Act like poo, no sledding.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day Two of Blogging

Computers make me nuts. I'm not even sure this blog is live. I don't know if I did all the correct things to make it live. It doesn't really matter. I am entering my senior year courses for my bachelor's degree, and it has been recommended from day one that students journal daily. So, I thought I would try blogging now. I started to blog/journal on another blog source, but I wasn't happy with that one, so am trying this instead. I'm thinking that if I print out each of my posts, I can collect them in a binder and have that as my journal. I could add handwritten notes, pictures, cards, clippings, etc. Hmm. That could be fun.

Day two of blogging, and I'm 100%. Two for two. That's a record isn't it?

I'm trying to ignore my headache tonight, hoping it doesn't progress into a full-blown migraine. Since I've been on thyroid medication recently, I have noticed that, while I do still have migraines, I have fewer. I am so grateful for that.

MK is so sweet. She found a pair of down slippers at the Lighthouse Mission today. She knows that my feet are always so cold. She got them for me and now my feet are warm and toasty for the first time this winter. They were even the right size! She's showing signs of thoughtfulness, giving, and care-taking.

MK does not like oatmeal. I have tried many different ways of preparing the oatmeal so that she will eat it. The best I've done is load it with cooked apple chunks, sugar replacer, butter, cinnamon, maple syrup and honey -- all in one mixture. She will eat some that way, but no other way. Today I was out of the apples and the honey, but made it with the rest. No way. She refused to eat it. So, I used that mixture and made muffins. That she ate. She got her oatmeal. Camouflaged oatmeal. At least it didn't go to waste.

Yesterday, I asked MK to bring me her spelling book so I could check up on the work she has been doing. She went into a near panic . . . she had skipped some pages because she thought they were too hard (actually, to much trouble or work). She knows she is not to skip pages and that she should ask for help. So, I had to sit with her and go over the pages with her. Once she settled down and looked at the instructions more carefully, she did fine. She has a bad habit of looking at a page, seeing a lot of work and just thinking that's too hard and then doesn't even try. It is much easier to give up than to work through it. Bad habit. I try to help her with it by taking it one step at a time and not seeing the scary whole picture. But, she whines and puts up quite a show and at her age, that is getting a bit old and tired. I hope she outgrows this.

I start my new semester Monday. Only one day of freedom left. The break went by so quickly. I hope to graduate in 2010. I am already doing some freelance writing and have a contract with a greeting card company for the marketing of one of my poems. The marketing process could last up to two years. Let's hope it is much less time and that it is accepted. The pay for accepted work is very good. You sometimes have to throw a lot of stuff at the fan before any sticks. I only had to throw a little before they sent me a contract for marketing this one. They want me to write more, but I never have peaceful times or even the time to settle into the right attitude for this type of writing. This is something I hope to do a lot more of, especially after graduating. In the meantime the copywriting is helping to keep us in our house.

Time to go rest and try to conquer this headache.

Friday, January 23, 2009

where to begin

Well, that was easy. Setting up the blog was quite simple. Filling it with worthwhile words won't be so easy. Turning blogging into a habit -- even harder. Maybe, if I put the bobble-head Barry Manilow doll I got for Christmas here next to my screen, I could imagine that I am talking to him and then just blog away!

Yes, folks, that's right. I am a Barry Manilow fan. I began listening to Barry Manilow music way, way back in about 1800 something. (Actually, about 1976) That's right. That makes me an old fart. He is an even older fart. I have attended some of his concerts, sat in the front row, decorated his dressing room and had him engrave his autograph in two "One Voice" logo stained glass pieces I created for fundraising. R outbid everyone and bought them back; I have them in the windows of my piano teaching studio.

This morning MK and I attended our Friday morning Sr. Citizens' Writers' group. She is only 8 and has been a contributing member since she was four. They were skeptical the first time she came with me; but she was an angel and they readily accepted her and she has gone twice a month every month since.

MK has written poems and stories and reads them to the group. Visitors to the group raise their eyebrows when MK adds her comments and critique to the members when they read their stories; they soon learn that the members expect this from her. One member has just finished writing a play that she wrote with a part especially intended for MK. MK loves it and feels so honored.

The people in the group encourage her to write as often as she can. She has written several stories that came from her dreams. She sometimes wakes up ready to tell me her dreams, and we rush to the computer. She dictates, I type. Printing, and now cursive is too slow. Her typing is too slow. She is capable of all three, but her thoughts come too quickly for her current skill level. So, I type while she dictates. I try to leave everything as she says them, word for word with very little input from me. I only advise her of prominent grammar or structural problems. I want the story to remain hers. I feel if I import my thoughts or feelings, it will no longer be her story.

MK's method of writing inspired one of the men in the group who brought in a story today which he composed from a recent dream.

I didn't take any pieces of my own today. I seem to find little quiet time for reflection or any other kind of thinking that doesn't have to do with my copywriting job or my classwork. This old fart is working on her baccalaureate degree in professional writing. (I wonder if I'll live long enough to pay off the student loans.) I do find time to procrastinate.

MK is my niece. I am raising her. I practiced by raising my own daughter. I'm not sure I am getting it right this time, but the first one turned out pretty well. I have one grandson and two granddaughters. So far, they are pretty cool kids. They aren't perfect -- they're kids. But, they are kids that I can be very proud of. They are successful in just about everything they try. I actually do think they should have some failures so that they will know how to deal with failures in life; but they just keep being winners at everything. ;-)

I also have/had several piano students over the years and they all feel like grandchildren to me. They each have their places in my heart. The personalities are varied -- the tricks they try are old time, right out of the textbook. One seven-year-old recently tried everything she could to prolong, postpone, put off, dilly-dally -- whatever you want to call it -- and I told her what she was doing, and her eyes got big, she giggled, and asked, "How did you know?" Old farts are experts at prolonging, postponing, putting off and dilly-dallying. I know. I am one.

Squash Bloom

Squash Bloom
I found a new setting on my camera for shooting flowers!

Bean #1

Bean #1
So far, we have three bean pods. Bugs are eating the leaves.

Bean #2

Bean #2

Bean #3

Bean #3

Second Strawberry

Second Strawberry
The birds found the first strawberry (pictured yesterday) and ate right out of the center of it! This is a new one that showed up today. I'm sure it will be gone soon. We have buds for more.


Actually, squash, lettuce, flowers, and grass where we planted what were supposed to be flowers! This is what happens when children help you garden. But, the squash looks excellent!

Our Recession Garden & First Harvest

Our Recession Garden & First Harvest
These are the beautiful squash plants growing where we planted what the package said was FLOWERS! Actually, I think MK may have mis-labled them in the spring planter box we started everything in.


The peonies were beautiful only a few days before being ruined by rain.

Leaf Lettuce

Leaf Lettuce
Recovering from being beat down by rain

First Harvest from Recession Garden

First Harvest from Recession Garden
This is actually from a "thinning" of the garden.



One and Only Strawberry

One and Only Strawberry
The birds had not found this strawberry, and so far, it is the largest one we've ever had left on the vine.


We planted MANY onions, but this is the only patch growing well. We thin it to get our green onions and they are tasty!

Potato Plants

Potato Plants
They are growing like crazy!


Aren't the leaves pretty?

Potato Plant Blooms

Potato Plant Blooms
Pretty light purple with bright yellow centers. I've never seen any before.

Our First Recession Garden Salad

Our First Recession Garden Salad

First White Rose of Summer

First White Rose of Summer
This is the first bloom on the white rosebush this spring.

Max the Mouse

Max the Mouse
Max the Mouse in Cinderella, Cinderella

Sledding Fun

Sledding Fun


Another one bites the dust

More Sledding

More Sledding

Oh, that's gotta hurt!

Oh, that's gotta hurt!
And yet, another one bites the dust . . . er, snow.