Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

It is snowing, my friends! I braved the cold a few minutes ago to take the following pics:

Rosie the Protege (who will need about 15 minutes of the engine running and furious window-scraping tomorrow morning):

One of the front yard:

My camera doesn't take great night pics (the flash is too weak) but you get the gist of it from these. It's quite beautiful when it snows here...only hope we don't need to use a Snow Day at school tomorrow. Right now it's not too bad but if it keeps up all night, when it really gets cold...the temps now are not even freezing, so if it hits 32 tonight, we could get quite a bit of snow sticking.

But then, we might not. Best to enjoy it while I can!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Super Saturday

There are days when working retail is almost entertaining, and there are days when it's pure hell.

Yesterday was a Super Saturday at Mervyn's, which means, really, Stupid Saturday. The morons crawl out of the woodwork to get their hands on deals that we will have again in two weeks. But because the ad says "Super Saturday," they figure it must be special.

I could go on for hours about retail tricks and luring customers in, but I won't.

No, the purpose of this blog update is to share just how moronic people can really be.

I hadn't been on duty 20 minutes when a lady with arms full of stuff walked up to my register (reminder: I work in the Home Fashions department) and asked me, "Excuse me, do you have long underwear for women?"

I could take this question many ways, and if I didn't really need the extra income this job generates, I'd probably answer in one of the following ways:

1. "I personally don't wear long underwear, but if I did, it certainly would be for women, and I wouldn't tell you about it."

2. "Let me just check in the Kitchen Aid products. Nope! None in Kitchen Aid. Let me just try looking in our Memory Foam mattress covers, before I send you over to lingerie."

Alas, these aren't considered "good customer service," so I said, "Er...I don't really know, but you could check our lingerie department." All delivered with a friendly smile.

Lingerie, by the way, is the department right next to mine. If you take about 30 steps from my cash register, you're there. So this lady is obviously not only stupid, she's lazy.

Later in the evening a woman comes up to my register with a couple of Memory Foam mattress pads, wanting a price check. No problem, that's easy. She starts asking about the difference between this one and that one and I patiently explain that I haven't a clue. She wanders off to keep looking and I forget about her while helping other customers and cleaning up my department.

A little while later she approaches the register with one Memory Foam mattress cover and says, "I'll take this one." I reply with a chipper, "Great!" and start ringing her up. I scan the item, press total. She's got her checkbook out. I've got two or three more customers lined up. I'm alone in the department.

She pauses in writing her check and says, "Could you look in the back and see if you have any of the other ones in a Queen size?"

I gape at her and look apologetically at the line of people behind her. Call for logistics to help me out, and for someone else to come help ease the line of people waiting to be rung up. She had me ring the damn thing up! I thought she was done!

The last and best of my Stupid Saturday stories is a return story. Shortly after my break, the gal who was covering while I took it let me know that a lady was returning a comforter, and exchanging it for a quilt. No problem. She comes back and I ask for the receipt. "Oh, my fiancee bought it with his debit card. I don't have it." I explain to her that with receipt she'd get $29.99 back. Without, she gets $24.99.


"Without the receipt we can't honor the price he paid for it."

Steam is starting to seep out of her ears so I get on my walkie talkie and call for management assistance. The manager gets on and reaffirms that without receipt, we can't honor the price, "but if she has the debit card, we can do a receipt look-up in the computer."

The lady asks if it would work if she calls her fiancee and has him read the number to me, to which my manager replies, "No, we have to swipe the card."

(This is all still going on over a walkie talkie with me as the middleman...and we all know what always happens to the middleman).

So the lady is getting pretty upset. "This is ridiculous! You tell your manager that I won't shop here again, and I come here a lot!"

"I'm sorry, Ma'am."

"It's not your fault. But this is ridiculous."

With that, she grabs her little boy's hand and stomps off. Thirty seconds later her little boy picks up a lid to a decorative glass bathroom jar, drops it, and it shatters all over the display table. The next customers in line give me a very sympathetic look as I groan quietly and massage my aching temples. The husband gives me a facetious smile and says, "We're returning these jeans. We don't have a receipt." I started giving the no-receipt spiel, catch his look, and say, "Oh...you're joking, aren't you?"

A couple of hours later I saw the pissed-off woman and her son walking through my department. So much for never shopping our store again. Rotten luck.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Well, that was exhausting.

I made it up to 20 minutes today on the elliptical trainer. I barely noticed the time going by, as I had the latest Cosmo in front of me. I even pushed myself to about 21:40 so that I could burn an even 150 calories.

And that's not all!

After burning 150 calories on the elliptical, I spent another 20 minutes in the pool, swimming laps and doing aqua-aerobics moves. I also spent some of that time stretching, as it's so much easier to stretch in water than it is on land.

I ended my stint at the gym with a 5-minute soak in the hot tub and raced home to have a late lunch. I'm really feeling the workout, but in a good way. I'll be going back for more tomorrow!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sex, Lies and a Meeting With the Principal

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

I teach 11-year-olds. They're in what I call the "second toddler phase," that time of life when they push, push, push at the boundaries to make sure those boundaries are still there. In any middle school, you will see the cooler-than-though 8th graders, the almost-normal 7th graders, and the whiny babies. Those are 6th graders.

Anyway, it often comes as a surprise when you overhear snippets of conversation from 6th grade girls. All of a sudden it is driven home just how young they really are, and how much they really, really want to fix that.

Today I overheard Rita (not her real name) talking to her friends at lunch time. They came to the choir room to drop off their backpacks as they do every day before going to the cafeteria for lunch. I was putting choir folders in order and only half paying attention to them when I heard Rita say, "Yeah...you know that 8th grade boy who wanted me to come over and lie on his bed with him?" The rest of that thought was lost in my shocked, foggy head.

I cleared my throat and said, "Uh. Ladies...I don't really need to hear that." They just giggled so I said, "I'm a mandated reporter. Do you know what that is?" Of course they didn't so I went on. "That means if I hear something, or you say something that concerns me, I have to report it." The girls just kind of laughed it off and left the room to get lunch.

What to do, what to do? I decided the best course of action was to ask my boss, Mrs. Principal, what she would do. I sought her out, repeated what I'd heard, and watched her eyes get really, really big.

"I dunno, it just sounded kind of...bad."

"Yeah! That's not a good thing at all." We agreed that Rita's parents should know about this, and that if an 8th grade boy is going around asking girls to lie on his bed with him, perhaps we as educators ought to be putting a stop to it.

She offered to talk to Rita and help me with this rather delicate situation. I said, "Yes, thank you," and went on my way. When class started, I sent Rita to the office as planned, saying only, "Mrs. Principal wants to talk to you."

She was gone a while.

When she came back, she had a pass, which she slapped down on the piano as she walked by me. Then she stood on the risers with her arms crossed and a glare on her face (her cheeks get very red when she's upset) until dismissal. This I had expected.

As everyone left the room, she marched up to the piano and said, "Mrs. Principal wants to talk to us both together."

"Okay, I'll be right there."

Rita waited for me, glaring, arms crossed--except when she was hugging her friends, who seemed to have figured out that Miss Cooper is a fink.

Such is the risk in teaching. Much as I want to be the "cool" teacher that the kids like and trust, I'm perfectly well aware that my actions are sometimes, inevitably, going to piss my students off. But I'm not in this career to be best friends with my kids. I have best friends who are adults, and that is enough for me, thank you. I do what I do because I want to enlighten, inform, inspire.

We had the meeting with Mrs. Principal, which was somewhat akward and even a little bit frustrating, as Rita changed her story to cover up what Mrs. Principal and I believe to be true--she fears she will get in trouble with her parents, or with us, if she tells the truth. More importantly, she will get in trouble in the all-important social circle if she goes against the grain.

Finally, all Mrs. Principal and I could do was call her parents and tell them about the discussion we had with Rita, and to tell her that we are not angry, she is not in trouble with us. Mrs. Principal said it perfectly: "We are two grown women who are very concerned for the wonderful young woman you are, and are going to be."

And its true. Rita is a nice little girl. And I say she's a little girl because she is--her body is maturing (hell, she's taller than me), but her mind is still eleven years old, and she is not emotionally equipped to handle the consequences of lying on a bed with a boy--especially if lying on the bed leads to kissing, or more.

Throughout the meeting, as we tried to coax the truth out of Rita, and as Mrs. Principal called home, I wanted to hug Rita, but her crossed arms and legs and tear-streaked face let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it would not be welcome. I have no doubt that in a week or two she will have forgotten, mostly, and will be back to her old self, chattering at me at lunchtime, asking if I have nail glue on me, giggling when I say things like, "No, I won't change the seating plan today. Yes, I know Johnny does stupid things. He's eleven. He's a boy. He's supposed to do stupid things from time to time."

Today I wanted to tell her about my 8th grade friend who was forced into a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. I wanted to shock her into seeing that this path, should she choose to take it at such a young age, is fraught with danger, heartache and regret. I wanted to beg her to promise me that she would treat her body, soul and heart with respect and dignity, and allow herself to wait until she is emotionally equipped to deal with the consequences. Today is not that day. It couldn't possibly be that day.

But I couldn't. I could only tell her that I care about her and want her to be happy and healthy, and that is why I sought advice from Mrs. Principal. I could only nod my head in agreement when Mrs. Principal told her, "You're not in trouble, Rita. We just want to help you if you need it."

A little girl sat across from me, her face still slightly chubby from childhood, wearing the popular style of clothing favored by teenagers. Her defensive posture and tear-streaked cheeks told us a truth that she herself would not. Her silence defended the boy she thinks is cool, who must care about her.

Today I betrayed the trust of a little girl, but I did it because I care about her well-being--more than she can possibly understand. I have no doubt that my actions will take me down a notch or five in the eyes of Rita and her friends. That I am prepared to accept. As I stated above, I am not here to be their friends--I just want to see them grow up safely, and with minimal scarring. My part, for now, is done, and hopefully her parents will calmly and rationally discuss this with her. And keep an eagle eye on her.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Starbucks All Around!!

The Seahawks are goin' to the Super Bowl!!

They beat the Carolina Panthers 34-14. Carolina never led. The Seahawks flattened them, with help from the "12th Man," the noisy, exultant fans.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy football. I can't wait to watch the Super Bowl!

Goooooo 'Hawks!!!!

A Day in Seattle

I spent a lovely Saturday in Seattle, and took 27 pictures. By popular demand (if Heather and Daryl both asking me to share about my day can be called "popular demand"), I am going to post them. Without further ado...enjoy!

I started off a bit late in the morning. I had to work until 10:30 on Friday night, so I let myself sleep in a bit before heading off to Seattle.

Getting there: It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to drive to Bainbridge Island from Port Ludlow. Once there, I parked my car in a nearby lot, bought a caramel apple cider, and stuck $10 in the little box for my parking spot. I caught the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry at about 11:30 and made my way over to Seattle.

Once we docked in Seattle, I walked across a large pedestrian bridge to 2nd Avenue, hooked a left and started walking. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, just sure that I wanted to wander and explore. A few blocks later I could see SAM, the mascot for the Seattle Art Museum, and decided that I'd like to go in.

Note: This picture is from August--yesterday it was raining when I approached SAM, so I didn't take a picture.

But--the museum is closed! It's undergoing some rennovations, so I couldn't go in. By the time I figured this out, I was at the back of the building, on 3rd Avenue. Across the street was Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony. I decided to hop over there to see if there was anything good playing in the afternoon.

Lara Swimmer, Photographer (borrowed from the home page of the Seattle Symphony)

So I hopped, and found myself in front of a lovely little place on the corner called the Garden of Remembrance. I love these kinds of things, so I walked up some steps into it and took a few pictures:

It is basically a memorial wall with a water feature in front, and it is quite lovely. It is done in black marble, reminiscent of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

As I wandered through this, I saw a sandwhich board sign advertising the Seattle Veteran's Museum. I love war museums, so I eagerly stepped inside. Two men were chatting at the counter and they warmly welcomed me to their small but very interesting little museum.

I ended up spending at least 45 minutes (I lost track of time) at this tiny, one-room museum, chatting with the guy working it and another man, who volunteers his time helping out. It is a small venture run by a group of vets who feel that Seattle ought to have a war museum. I quite agree. All materials have been donated, and they work very hard to keep the place running. Benaroya Hall charges them reduced rent, but otherwise, the city of Seattle does very little to help them along. They charge a modest ($3) fee for entrance to help meet the costs of running it, and the guy on duty yesterday walked me through the entire exhibit, telling me the background behind the artifacts and stories about the people who donated them.

As I mentioned above, I lost track of the time I spent there, chatting with these two vets and trading war stories (of course, I was using my Dad's stories!). I promised to talk the place up to anyone and everyone, so here I am. I hope they will find support and funding one of these days--no matter what you think of war, especially the current situation in the Middle East, every major city ought to have a war/veteran's museum. We have to learn from our history.

When I left, with a few postcards clutched in my hands and $5 of my money left in the donations can, I was feeling really pleased with life. I called Dad on his cell phone, as he and Mom had been planning on coming to Seattle for a bit, too. They were in Cost Plus (import store), so I started hoofing it towards them to see if we could meet up for a bit.

I hiked about 6-8 blocks to Cost Plus, and arrived just in time to meet Mom and Dad coming out. We walked over to the nearby Pike Place Market to wander around. Mom wanted to run her Cost Plus purchase to the car, so Dad and I waited and I took pictures.

On our way into the market, I took a hasty picture of what I've recently learned is the world's first Starbucks.

We wandered through the market for a little while, stopping so Mom could buy some fresh vegetables. I used these pauses to take pictures.

Taken from the market--a ferry on Elliott Bay
A little bit of hometown pride...Go Seahawks!!

The best for last--in the market there is a famous fish sellers where the guys throw fish. When a customer orders something, one of the guys will come out from behind the counter and select some fish, then call out to his cohorts behind the counter. One will get ready to catch. Then they toss the fish and catch while the crowd cheers. It's quite fun (and the guys are quite cute)
Selecting a fish
There's a blurry flying fish in there somewhere

After wandering through the market, we decided to head to Kell's, and Irish pub, for lunch.

We had a lovely lunch at Kell's. Their shepherd's pie is wonderful. Then Mom and Dad headed back to their car to go home, and I left to wander around Seattle some more.

I started by wandering into a large antique store and poking around looking for Snoopy stuff. I found an old lunch box in great condition, but they wanted $60 for it. More than I wanted to spend. Still, I love hunting in antique shops--you never know what you'll find--and I enjoyed doing so yesterday.

After this, I set off towards the "posh" part of downtown Seattle. I found Macy's and decided to go in and perhaps splurge on a little something. I found a fabulous hat, marked down to $16, so I decided I must have it. Took it to the register and it rang up at $5.60! As I said to the lady, "I'm not going to argue with you about that price."

I bought a tub of Estee Lauder eye cream (my true splurge) and recieved a free gift with it. I wandered Macy's for a little while and marvelled at how wonderful true department stores are.

The Macy's in Kitsap Mall (where Mervyn's is) certainly has nice products, but it is a suburban version of a department store. When you walk into Macy's in a fabulous city like Seattle, it is everything department stores should be--huge, elegant, and with large display windows overlooking the streets outside. I was struck by this yesterday, and enjoyed shopping there much more than I would in old Silverdale.

By now it was starting to get dark, so I started slowly making my way back in the direction of the waterfront and the ferry. I got there about 10 minutes before the next ferry was to leave and got in line to buy a ticket. As I paid I realized that a woman standing next to me was having a tantrum about something. The lady in the booth, even as she took my money, was pointing to a sign and saying, "There are signs all over!"

Even I know that once you pay for your ferry passage, you're supposed to stay in the waiting area. You have to buy your coffee/magazine/whatever before you buy your ticket. The woman next to me was having a fit because she couldn't leave the waiting area to buy a coffee.

The lady in the booth calmly explained, "Maam, you can buy coffee on the ferry."

"But they don't have latte on the ferry!!"

I almost laughed in this woman's face. She must have been in her late 30s or early 40s and she sounded so petulant and childish. The signs clearly state that once you have your ticket, you must wait in the waiting area, but apparently she didn't feel this should apply when you need a latte.

I collected my receipt and walked by Little Miss Poopy Pants into the waiting area, laughing at her.

This is Washington State--birthplace of Starbucks and home of coffee shops on every corner. I have seen places where there are three coffee huts in a row! Once you get across Elliott Bay to Bainbridge Island, there are at least 2 coffee places within hopping distance of the boat.

At Bainbridge Island I collected Rosie the Protege and got on my way. I stopped in Silverdale on the way home to stop by the bookstore and Mervyn's. I arrived home at 8:00, tired but very, very satisfied. Seattle is a lovely city.

Pics of the fabulous new hat to come later, when I've showered and can model it properly!

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Whale of a Tale

There's a whale in the Thames!

Yes, my friends, I found this great little tidbit at BBC News Online. There is a whale swimming near the Houses of Parliament. No word on if it has a political agenda, or if it's just in London to see a West End show.

My favorite quote from the article:

Reports of two whales in the Thames were first received on Thursday by the British Divers Marine Life group.

But at 0830 GMT on Friday, a man on a train called in to say he might have been hallucinating, but he had just seen a whale in the Thames.

I can remember Humphrey the Humpback swimming into the Sacramento Delta years and years ago. Apparently this is the first time a whale's made it so far into London. I only hope they keep all boats away from him and persuade him to go back to his safer home soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Little Hometown Pride

Well, it's that time of year again. We're counting down to the Super Bowl, that great American tradition of men in tight pants and lots of padding. I actually like football, and grew up rooting and tooting for the San Francisco 49ers. My grandparents were longtime fans and it sort of trickled down through Mom to Aaron and I.

These were the Joe Montana/Jerry Rice years of Super Bowl glory and Hail Mary passing. Forty-Niner football was serious business in our house. When Joe Montana hurt his back, we were horrified, but keen to support the little-known backup QB, Steve Young. We cheered for him through his highs and lows, and no one was more elated than the Cooper family when he finally won himself a Super Bowl ring as starting quarterback (except maybe the man himself).

Then I left for college and Aaron for his own pursuits, and we all sort of lost the time and energy to watch football. I gradually forgot the finer rules and regulations and became a fan from afar--one who read about games but didn't have time to watch them. And also, the poor Niners started to...well, suck.

Then, of course, I graduated from Chico and found myself living at home and bored out of my mind. I found a new Sunday pastime: NASCAR. And I have been a fan ever since, tuning in to cheer for the Red Bud 8 car driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Now I find myself living near Seattle, which is home to the Seahawks, who are headed for the NFC championship this weekend. If they win it, they are Detroit-bound to play in the Super Bowl.

I can't help but get caught up in the excitement--everyone is going nuts about the 'Hawks these days, and there is a bit of pride involved in cheering for the hometown heroes. I might just tune in this weekend and renew my aquaintance with football.

It will, at the very least, give me something to do until the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. Goooo, Junior!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Three Days in a Row!!


I mentioned in yesterday's blog that I worked out for about 10 minutes on Monday night. Hey, it's a start. And yesterday I went back in the early evening. This time I managed thirteen minutes on the elliptical, then I spent about 20 minutes swimming and stretching in the water.

Today I made it over there for some time on the treadmill (the only elliptical in the place was taken).

I'm doin' good!! I'll go back tomorrow for some more cardio and swimming. It's a nice workout, and it feels good to get back in the groove. Now I just need to splurge on some cute workout clothes. : )

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Want to Cheat? Don't Get a Parrot (And Other Random Bits and Pieces)

I found this on the BBC News website and it cracked me up. Way to go, Ziggy! I do feel sad for the poor guy, though, having to get rid of his beloved parrot because it kept saying another man's name in his ex-girlfriend's voice.

Car Blimey!

For this one, the link on the main page made me laugh. For you non-Brits, it's a pun on "cor blimey" (a cockney version of "God blind me").

But I have to ask...Why, why, WHY would you buy such a car and not insure it?!?

"You Don't Need to Know That."

I was given this answer today when I asked a little girl if someone had said something mean to her. Karlie (not her real name) has been a consistent source of rudeness and hands in my face since September. She was getting better, but the last week or two have seen her reverting back to her old ways. I think I'll write up a pink slip, as I got her sticky little hand in my face today--again.

Happy Birthday, Heather!

Today's Heather's birthday, and because we have similar taste in men, and I think this man is a hubba-hubba sexy specimen of British Hotness myself, I thought I'd put up a pic for all to enjoy.

As Heather says, Alan Rickman really isn't the handsomest man on the planet, but there is something about him. I say it's his voice and his posture.



We've got a release date! I'll look forward to adding this to my collection.

Mark your calendars.

Work It

Last night I went to the gym.

Now, a year-and-a-half ago, I could spend an hour on the elliptical machine and feel really, really good when I was done. I did ten minutes last night and almost collapsed from fatigue. I've got my work cut out for me.

Today I bought the latest Cosmo and I'm going back for more.

That said, I'd better sign off and get my workout gear on.



Sunday, January 15, 2006

To Bring a Smile...

Here's some recent pics of Millie and the Kindergatos. You can see how big the babies are getting.

Here's Duchess "helping" me get ready for work. That's my briefcase:

"I'm Too Cute to Be Believed..."

My Beautiful Girl





Friday, January 13, 2006


I came home from work tonight to the news that Mom had to have her cat, Maggie, put to sleep. She suffered a massive stroke this evening, which blinded her and caused her to be unstable on her feet.

Maggie (right) with my own Millie

Maggie turned 18 years old in September, and we marvelled at her age and apparent health. The vet said she was getting old but seemed okay. His exact words to Mom were, "Keep her comfortable."

Maggie was a tortoiseshell, through and through--grumpy, whiny (which earned her the nickname "Na-Nags"), and Queen of All She Surveyed. She started life as a feisty runt, and came to our family as a tiny kitten with huge eyes and a tiny body. She liked high places and caving under blankets, and was always a one-person cat. For a long time, that one person was my brother Aaron. He moved out of the house eventually, and Maggie became Mom's girl.

I was 9 when we got Maggie--my first impression of her was a tiny kitten with her back legs on the side of her litter box, digging like mad. She came home with us and promptly pissed off our calico, Missy. A week later, we lost our beloved collie, Molly. Maggie filled the void left by Molly's death--making us laugh at her kittenish antics.

She was quite a trouper--we moved her from Folsom to Port Ludlow a year ago--but so long as she got her tuna on time, a few ear scratches, and a blanket to curl up under, she was pretty happy. She hated Millie the first few times I brought her home from Chico, but they became pretty good pals after a while. She even seemed to be coming around to Bella and Duchess.

It hurts to lose a pet--they're members of the family, really. And we were fortunate to have Maggie for so long. Most cats don't live 18 years, and enjoy fairly good health all that time.

So tonight we are grieving the loss of a family member and friend. Rest in peace, Na-Nags.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Keeping Count

The record is 33 days, set in 1953.

Wet, Wet, Wet

Aside from being an English band that covered "Love is All Around" for the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral," here are some things that are

Wet, Wet, Wet.

Viggo Mortensen (oohh, niiiice...)

Rubber Ducks


 And the Pacific Northwest.

That's right. It is Wet, Wet, Wet all along the Puget Sound. It's easy to lose track of how long it's been rainy. And today we hit 25 straight days.


Fortunately, we had a few hours of sun yesterday (after morning showers) and about 5 minutes of sun today (between downpours). And I'm not going to have a repeat of one year ago, when the winter doldrums hit me on the head full-force. I'm stocking up on tomatoes (vitamin D) and taking my vitamins. Now, if only I could drag my lazy rear end to the gym.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


I haven't done a survey of the news in a while (too busy, too lazy, too preoccupied, whatever...), so here goes.

Health Department Threatens to Shut Down Bathroom

Okay, they didn't, really, but when it gets to the point where I'm telling my parents, "Avoid using my bathroom, unless you really want to be grossed out," you know it's time to drag out the Clorox. And that's just what I did this morning. I bleached, scrubbed, mopped and spit-shined that bathroom back to an acceptable level of clean. I even got around to replacing the hand towel. Normally I do this every 2-3 days, but somehow I let it slide this week (gross!).

While I was fired up, I also gave my bedroom some love. I have a cabinet that the TV sets on, and it was such a mess inside. The cabinet is home to myriad things--my DVDs, my jewelry, my handbag and umbrella, recent credit/debit/bank receipts, etc. It often becomes a bit of a catch-all for messes I don't want to be visible. Today it got organized. Life is good.

Bush Proposes Broader Language Training

Nice thought, for sure. Except that most of our students can barely read, write or speak English. I've lost count of the times kids stop me to ask what I mean with the language I use (they don't read like I did and do). Let's brush up on the English, encourage an extra language, and stop the silly comments like the following:

"In order to convince people we care about them, we've got to understand their culture and show them we care about their culture," Mr. Bush said. "You know, when somebody comes to me and speaks Texan, I know they appreciate the Texas culture. When somebody takes time to figure out how to speak Arabic, it means they're interested in somebody else's culture."

And hey, I've never gone wrong in my foreign travels. I find that a phrase book, a sheepish smile and a genuine attempt to speak the language gets me everywhere.

Besides, yo hablo espanol...un poco.

Remind Me Not to Swim in Australia

Good grief. This is horrible. The poor woman. More than one shark? God knows I'm not an ocean swimmer in the first place (undertows and lack of strong swimming abilities) but this will definitely keep me in the knee-deep part of the water.

Say It Isn't So!

I thought he was waiting for me!! Of course, this little blurb has a very tabloid feel about it, and it was the only headline about it on Google News.

In other juicy celebrity gossip, Kevin "Oh-My-God-He's-Soooo-Sexy" Spacey (the one I got a chuckle out of? Yeah, that one!) has been "outed." Again.

Yes, folks, I know that most people think the man is gay as a maypole but that doesn't stop him from being sexy, or my favorite actor. And the bottom line is that I admire him whether he's gay, straight, bi, asexual, whatever. He's absolutely amazing to watch, in any format--live, silver screen, TV--and he ain't so bad on the eyes, either!

Walk the Line

Mom and I went to see this on Friday and we both enjoyed it very much. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were fantastic, and the film was very well-done. I especially love "Ring of Fire," "Folsom Prison Blues" and "I Walk the Line."

And it turns out that Phoenix has now been to my very own home town.

For those of you who haven't heard this anecdote, I could see the lights of Folsom Prison from my bedroom window--until, of course, Mom and Dad moved to the smaller house that most of you who've been there are familiar with.

Need Underwear? Socks? Towels? A New Shirt?

There aren't a lot of headlines I find particularly interesting today so I thought I'd insert a commercial break for my employers.

Hey, we carry quality stuff.

Something Good and Fun

I thought about the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure recently. Mom and I walked in the Sacramento race in May 2004 and we really, really enjoyed ourselves. It is such an uplifting experience and well worth the time and money to participate.

Just looked it up and turns out that the Seattle race is on June 17. If you've never participated in this amazing event, check out the site and think about going. It's a good workout and a wonderful cause. I challenge you--if women who are still recovering from chemotherapy can do it, you can, too!

And I also challenge you to keep a dry eye while reading the history of how the foundation was started.

Speaking of Charity...

This one is another great one.

Most of you humor me and my obsessive devotion to watching NASCAR ("Hey, I can't go out on Sunday--there's a race on!"). But there is more to it than cars going round and round in circles and Southern drawls.

The Victory Junction Gang was founded by Kyle and Patty Petty in memory of their son Adam, a promising racecar driver who died tragically young in a racing accident. It is a camp for critically ill children, and it is affiliated with Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang camps.

This is one of my favorite charities--Kyle Petty, son of the famous Richard "The King" Petty, while not the most successful driver out there, is certainly one of the biggest-hearted guys in the sport.

Lesson Plans

What's my second most-common excuse for not leaving the house on Sundays? Yep. Lesson planning. I try to get it all done on Sundays, yet often find myself at mid-week, back at the computer, pulling my hair out and trying to get something done. I have found that when I plan for a week, Monday goes terribly awry (there's a fire drill or the kids won't settle down or I go off on some different tangent with them) that I have to reconfigure everything later.

I'm hoping that tomorrow's lesson will go really well. I'm going to introduce my kids to the Blues. It's not hard to make up a song in the 12-bar Blues pattern, so they're going to be treated to the "Silly Kids Blues."

That Said...

I think it's time for me to wrap this up and finish the plan for tomorrow. Then I'm going to make Mudslides for myself and Mom. I have to finish watching "Sense and Sensibility" and there's a new Cold Case on at 8:00.

I love Sundays!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hey, Teacher!

Well, if you hadn't guessed already, I've been having a bit of a "sophomore slump" in my teaching career.

Let's face it: I loved my first job, in Elverta. I had great bosses, fabulous co-teachers, and the district was run as well as a district can be. The kids were not perfect, and I had my classroom management struggles, but overall, I really enjoyed what I did and looked forward to each day with enthusiasm and energy.

St. Peter's wasn't as great, but I did enjoy my co-teachers and my GCSE classes (even with all the stress that ensued trying to catch my wonderful year 11s up--it's not their fault they were behind). I had some good times there, but overall, the experience made me doubt myself as a teacher. No matter what I did, there were classes--whole classes--I never won over. I never even earned much respect from some of them. In the end, I pretty much gave up. As a teacher, that stings.

I was reluctant about going back to teaching when I came to Washington, but desperate enough to take on the one-class-a-day job in Chimacum. I surprised myself by being really excited to get the opportunity. Surely this meant that I am still meant to be a teacher, right?

Three months and forty-seven hormone-riddled eleven-year-olds later, I have spent the last few weeks inwardly moaning that I'm stuck here 'till June. What in the world was I thinking, going in to teaching? What in the world am I going to do next year if I get burnt out? When am I ever going to find a job I'm comfortable with like I was in Elverta?

It's been disheartening, for sure. I haven't said much because after all the whinging I did in this blog while at St. Peter's, I figure no one wants to hear it. And really, this situation isn't as bad. I have 47 kids, 7 of which are truly difficult (ever want to smack a bratty child you saw at the store? Try encountering 7 of them every day).

The bottom line is I have been feeling sorry for myself, and feeling that I am not cut out for teaching anymore. What happened to my excitement? My passion? My patience? Why in the world are these kids not getting it? What am I doing wrong?

One of my Christmas presents from Mom and Dad was a book called "Teacher Man" by Frank McCourt. I have not read his first two books and I wasn't sure what I'd think of this one, though I liked the sentiment behind the gift ("To our teacher. Merry Christmas. Love, Mom and Dad").

I worried that McCourt would describe 30 years of wonderful teaching, that preachy sort of book you get when teachers retire and write about how uplifting and wonderful being a teacher is. The kind of book that makes newbies think, "I'm never gonna be like that! Why try??"

Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find McCourt accounting his first yeas of teaching as being more or less story-telling. He told the kids about his miserable Irish upbringing, and his time working on the docks in New York City. He felt like a huge fraud, like he had no control over his classroom. He questioned his abilities, his sanity in choosing the teaching profession, and like me, why his passion for his subject (literature) was just not infecting the children with joy and enthusiasm for the class.

It mirrors my own thinking: Hey, I love music! This stuff is fun and exciting and interesting and cool! Why, oh why, can't these kids latch on to my love of it? They should be able to see how good it is for their minds, their hearts, their souls!

McCourt had to pay his dues before he found his own tricks, before he learned that taking every bit of advice from "seasoned" teachers is not necessary. As he grew more comfortable with himself as a teacher, he reached more students.

His book made me think--I'm only four years into teaching, and though I've had some broad experiences (teaching ages 5-16, and in two different countries), I've a long way to go before I will truly feel comfortable in this profession. Each situation, however, provides insight and a lesson to me.

I went back to school this week after a lovely 2-week holiday. Tuesday was bad, but Wednesday was a good day. Today they slipped a little and tomorrow...well, I'm not going to speculate. Tomorrow will be what it will be, and I am going to open my mind to the possibility that it could be the best day yet.

Who knows? Maybe I'm better at all this than I thought.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


What's in store for 2006?

The 20th Olympic Winter games will be hosted by Torino, Italy.

World Cup Soccer will be hosted by Berlin, Germany.

Megan of Little Pink Blog fame will turn 28 (*gulp*).

We will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart.

...and the 400th anniversary of the birth of Rembrandt.

My parents will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary.

My brother and his wife will celebrate 5 years of marriage.

It is the year of the dog in Chinese Astrology.

All food labels in the United States must now contain information on trans-fatty acids.

Australia will join many U.S. states in banning smoking in bars and pubs.

NASA will send the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto (no word what Mickey and Minnie think of all this).

Scotland will also ban smoking in bars and pubs.

There will be a possible referendum to decide the future of Puerto Rico's relationship to the U.S. (it is currently a territory).

Ireland will hold a referendum on the controversial European Union Constitution.

Manuel Noriega becomes eligible for parole.

J.K. Rowling will start writing the seventh and final (*sob*) book of the Harry Potter series.

My high school class will have its 10th Reunion--jury's still out on whether I'll go.

Thanks to Wikipedia and Google for some of this information.

2006 starts with...

A kiss on the cheek from a very cute Navy boy.

Some kind of wierd, intense shoulder pain that requires pain meds, an electric massager, and a heat pad.

A long lie-in.

A lazy day of tea and Harry Potter.

Cuddles from Millie and the kindergatos.

Hope, optimism and faith that 2006 will be full of more Wild and Absolutely True adventures.


Best wishes to my family and friends--may 2006 be full of amazing and wonderful things.


Meg (Keeper of the Little Pink Blog)