Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: The Year in Books

What with taking classes three semesters of 2008, my reading list is on the sad side. I included one book I read for school because I read it cover-to-cover and it was not a text book. This tradition of posting my reading list year after year is one I got from Berrybird. I have included re-reads (rr) again this year and listed the books in the order they were read. So without further ado, I give you my reading list for 2008:

Ability Profiling and School Failure by Kathleen M. Collins
Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
DragonHarper by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas
Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr
A Superior Death by Nevada Barr
The Illustrated Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle (rr)
Ripe for the Picking by Annie Hawes
Ill Wind by Nevada Barr
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle (rr)
Knit Two by Kate Jacobs
Hominids by Robert J Sawyer (rr)
Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday With a Friend

Yesterday I drove one major city to the west to visit my friend, Crunchy Forester. We didn't have any big plans for the day, it was just about seeing each other and spending time together. We went out for a delicious lunch at a crepe place, went to the mall (a place we both hate) to return a sweater she'd received and buy a gift for another celebration I'll be attending later in the week. We got coffee and then dinner. Mostly we talked. And talked. And talked. We talked about the old days and what all our college pals are doing now. We talked about the future, as it is even more uncertain than usual. She might be moving to another state, even further away. We talked about boys and relationships.

And when it was past the time I usually nod off on the couch, we hugged goodbye and I drove the hour and a half home. It was a day well spent.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I'm drinking tea and watching snow fall lightly through the front window. In a few hours I will head over to my parents house for a home-cooked meal and a gift opening.

I hope everyone has a very merry day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Enough Snow!

Seriously. Enough already with the snow. In the past few days I've shoveled the driveway, had it plowed, had the neighbor across the street volunteer to snowblow it for me (thank you!!!), and had FF do it another time.

Which brings us to Sunday night when FF was snowblowing. I was at the bottom of the driveway waiting for him to finish his pass so I could run by up to the house. The snowblower stopped throwing snow and, as I've seen him do a thousand times, FF moved around the machine and reached into the arm. From where I was standing I could see the blades were still turning. Time moved into slow motion and in that moment I knew something awful was about to happen. Then he was screaming and I was running. I counted five fingers still attached, wrapped the bleeding hand in a clean towel, and we took off for the ER. He ended up with 8 stitches and a fractured finger tip. It could have been much, much worse.

I know, and he knows, that what he did wasn't the smartest thing, but if one more person tells me how stupid he was, I will scream. I feel guilty because it was my driveway and my snowblower. He can't work for a minimum of three weeks! I have to say that I stayed calm and never freaked out. I'm kinda proud of that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bah Humbug

I am a very bad gift giver. I want to give gifts that people will like, want, and be happy with. It stresses me out. I don't do a good job paying attention to little things people say all year long to be able to put them to good use at the holidays. Part of the problem may be that I could spend ten minutes listing thousands of things that I would be happy to receive, whereas other people struggle to identify one item.

Needless to say, I have not completed my gift shopping for this year. My biggest hang-up is with what to buy for my boyfriend (as a side note, I hate that term). He lives in California, in an apartment I've never seen. He has enough disposable income that he generally buys whatever he needs or wants. Clearly, whatever I get him at this point wouldn't arrive by Christmas anyway. I've been agonizing over this for days, which has resulted in absolute inability to take action on the matter.

I guess I'll go burn off some of my obsessive energies by shoveling. Maybe that will take my mind off my own lack of creativity.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hair There

I got my hair cut on Saturday. It's not as short as I wanted it, but after I had her take more off once, I couldn't ask her again. I think I will go back there again though. I liked her and the price was reasonable. My theory is that because my hair is (was) so long stylists are afraid to take too much off for fear I might freak out. That is not my nature, but they can't know that the first time they meet me.

Many people at worked noticed my new hair, which almost surprised me since they've never noticed in the past. The best however was the woman that sits behind and to one side of us at the basketball games. She was practically gushing over my new hairstyle. I almost felt bad that I'd never even noticed she existed before, but I rarely am looking behind me at a game.

It doesn't look all that different to me, but shorter is always easier.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fresh Eggs

I used to be able to buy farm fresh eggs about a mile from my house, but now there are no more chickens playing in the grass. The farm appears empty and abandoned. I haven't found a new local source of free-range eggs. During the summer months I buy free-range eggs at the farmer's market, but during the rest of the year I rely on my friend, Bird Watcher, at work to get me some from her friend who has a shop in a small town to the south. She sells local, organic, or healthy types foods at the store.

The egg transfer usually occurs at work, which often garners some attention since it is not usual to see a co-worker carrying a carton of eggs out the door at the end of the day. On Friday as I was exiting with the eggs, I was stopped by a pair of co-workers desirous of an explanation. When I gave them the details, the woman was clearly taken aback.

"How do you know they are fresh?" She asked with apparent concern.

I know they fresh because the farmer walks out and picks them up from under the hen just days before they arrive in my hands (and even sooner if there wasn't a middle (wo)man or two to get through). I have absolute confidence they are fresh. I know where they come from. Once when I got eggs from the farm down the road, the farmer didn't have any cartons already filled, so he dashed into the barn while I waited. Talk about fresh!

How does she know her store bought-eggs are fresh? Because they say so? OK, maybe I'm cynical, but that doesn't do it for me (nor does the whole poultry industry, but that's another subject altogether).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Still Here

Fear not, my friends, I am still here. The crunch of semester end, the return to work, and a trip to California have all cut into my blogging time. Alas, the end is in sight. Only two projects remain (granted, I have not started either of them) before I can put this miserable semester to bed. It would appear that I will not have to fight to defend my student teaching experience. I feel marginally relieved with this knowledge, but I won't trust it until I see the grade on paper (or on the computer screen as it is, since I believe paper grades are now a thing of the past). This weekend will be spent on the afore mentioned projects and then hopefully I will be able to enjoy some down time come next weekend. I'd like to finish the book I started on the flight back from San Francisco. Really, if it comes right down to it, I'd like to be back IN San Francisco.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Knit Two

About a month and a half ago my advance copy of Knit Two by Kate Jacobs arrived. I was thrilled but cautious about when I would actually have the chance to crack it open. Well, during the last two days of my student teaching experience, I did just that. I wasn't teaching and I didn't have lessons to plan, so during my free periods I read.

Knit Two is a return to the gang from The Friday Night Knitting Club. Five years has passed and changes are underfoot. Not only is it a return to familiar characters, it is a return to a better story than the author's second novel. It was almost a relief to me to dig into this novel after my disappointment with her last (not that I didn't like Comfort Food, but my expectations may have been too high).

This is a light, easy read, so if you are into knitting and/or stories of friendship and women, this might be a book you want to check out. Read The Friday Night Knitting Club first though.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Last Day

Today was my last day of student teaching. My host teacher took back the class yesterday with the start of a new unit. She expressed great sorrow at my departure and will be writing me a reference letter to add to my credential file.

Now I have the weekend to pound out some schoolwork of my own before returning to work on Monday. I will be returning to an office that has gone through a system upgrade that I am not familiar with and to an additional eight or so temporary staff that were hired for me in my absence. I don't relish the idea of supervising an entire staff that knows more about the new process than I do.

I am, however, thrilled to be able to start using my big purse again. Since I didn't want to have it in the classroom with me, I've been constantly without some essential item that would've been in it if only I'd had it with me. Money, credit cards, chapstick, the essentials that never made it into my school bag after the weekend. No more hassles of that nature at least.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Panty Pursuit

I am always in search of the perfect pair of panties. The elastic bands often irritate my skin. I do not want them to rise too high or too low. I often buy a pair to try, determine them to be worthy, and then buy a pile of them, only later to discover that I don't actually find them to be comfortable with extended exposure. I've been wanting to try the so-called boy shorts, so I picked up a two-pack at Tar-jay this weekend. They are comfortable (so far) but weird. They are long in the leg like the boxer briefs some men folk wear. I probably would get used to having to pull down the legs each time I pull my pants up, but I don't know if I want to bother. I certainly don't feel sexy in them, that's for sure. Maybe I need to try the shorter ones that look like hot pants.

Does anyone have any fabulous suggestions on panties I should try?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Love Your Blog

Momma Val has bestowed the I Love Your Blog award on me. I am honored and tickled pink. It's always nice to know people enjoy reading what I'm writing.

Part of accepting this award is:
  • Displaying the award.
  • Linking back to the person who gave it to you.
  • Paying it forward & nominating 7 blogs.
  • Leaving comments on their blogs telling them they’ve received one.
  • Enjoying the award.
As soon as I can figure out how to display the award I will. I'm having a slow moment. As for my 7 nominees:
  1. Lake Loop
  2. No Polar Coordinates
  3. Smellyann Strikes Again
  4. Just Crazy Enough to Try
  5. That Silly Mommy
OK, that's all I've got. For 6 & 7, I'd give the award to Momma Val and Squirrel Chatter, but they already got it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Urban Dictionary Meme

As seen on Smellyann's blog.

Rules: Go to and type in your answer to each question in the search box in the top right corner and then write the first definition it gives you!
(this is not kid friendly so beware of words and sentences little eyes should not see)

1. What is your name?
Very Beautiful, simple the hottest.
Her personality is very kind and generous. Never met another person as wonderful as Nadine
"Wow your so beautiful almost as good as Nadine!!"

(As most of you know, this is not my real name. I was going to put just the definition of my RL name, but any fool would've been able to guess it in a heartbeat.)

2. Your age?
A wanksta flip guy that gets 32% in school
Shane is 32.

3. One of your friends?
An awesome girl who likes to be ghetto, and pulls it off even when white. Generally pretty.
"Melanie is beautiful."

"And Ghetto."

4. What should you be doing?
Homework: (Noun) a punishment given to students by evil teachers after the students have already put in 7 hours of hard labor.

5. Favorite color?
yes... it is most definitely referring to the marijuana... and also, upon occasion, any substance with similar uses. too, properly, of course, it is a golfing term, but that's really not very much fun, now is it?
'yo, where da green at?'

6. Hometown?
The pot-smoking capitol of ****.
i live in **** and i have a neighbor whose garage is literally stacked wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with boxes filled with bags of weed. he sells it from his house during the week and goes to Canada on the weekends to get more. welcome to the pot-smoking capitol of ****.

7. Month of your birthday?
a female of wise words. Often regarded as a "panda" person. These types of females are very energetic and friendly, and when you see these types of girls down, you feel down too.
hey, dont feel so down. That's not very april of you.

(There was no definition that referred to the month, not the name.)

8. Last person you talked to?
noun. A person identified as an easy target, or "sucker". A mark is always the short end of a joke or scam, and is never let in on whats going on. A mark is usually being cheated out of money. It's origin is from old English traveling carnivals from the late 1800s to early 1900s, where workers would refer to people paying to see their made up shows and games a "mark". not from urban gangsters like most people think. Mark is also the origin to the term "smark" or "smart mark" which is a person who know's he/she is being scammed.
This town has a lot of marks.

9. What did you eat last?
a. A stunt performed in a car.
b. Breakfast of champions, admired by Homer J. Simpson.
c. Cop food.
d. Love hole.

10. Your nickname?
Someone who manages to make a conversation boring, often by bringing statistics into it.
A **** can also bring silence to the liveliest of parties or social gatherings.
John: Are you guys going to the concert?
Bill: Did you know that over 50% of concerts are held in bars.
Everybody: Silence
John: Bill, your such a ****.

11. Your significant other?
a pronoun used in place of a persons real name when one doesn't know the name, is too lazy to say the name, or just wants to say ****. Is often used in conjunction with curse words and/or words describing a woman's attributes.

Commonplace at WT Woodson HS in NoVA
SHit! Look at those bitches titties ****.


Naw, fuck that shit **** you know im too lazy.

(I realize that this meme may have been more entertaining with all RL info left in. Too bad, so sad.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Privilege

I stood behind one man, as he chatted with the volunteers behind the desk. I briefly reviewed the layout I would see in the booth. I'm always worried I'll get in there and not know where my people are. That was not the case though. I pulled the curtain closed behind me and took a deep breath. I carefully took hold of the lever and closed my eyes. I'm not the praying sort, but I took a moment to reflect on the importance of this action. I'd been waiting 8 long years for this moment. Then I pulled the lever for president of the United States of America. I made my other choices and stepped back. I just wasn't ready to leave yet. I took it all in and then carefully pulled the handle to open the curtain. It was over too soon.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Day in Paradise

Yesterday my host teacher was grabbed hard on the arm and then shoved into a door frame by a student in my class. I had to fill out an incident report as a witness.

Today I learned that one of the students from the school stabbed someone on the bus (they ride public buses to and from school).

Currently I have three students suspended from one class.

I also had only three students pass the test I gave yesterday.

Two more weeks to go!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Life line

This student teaching experience combined with an overwhelming workload from class and a monstrous supervisor/TA would normally cause me to dive into the depths of despair. Fortunately whenever I am feeling close to that, the phone rings. Every night a man from my past calls to chat. We reconnected via the internet more than a year ago and started talking on the phone over the summer. Not only do we have lots to talk about, but he encourages me to get out of the house and do things. I go for walks and send him pictures. I go apple-picking and to local festivals and send him pictures. It makes us both happy and it keeps me from sitting home alone thinking about things that would make me miserable.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

In case you've been wondering if I'm still around, why yes, I am. I am having a bit of a rough patch though. Up until yesterday I'd thought my biggest challenge was surviving this student teaching experience. I was just thinking I could see a hint of light at the end of the tunnel (three weeks to go and counting). And then my hateful supervisor once again did her best to imply I'm thoroughly incompetent. Not once has she offered a single helpful suggestion. She has, however, misinterpreted every single thing I say, twisting my words and using them against me (and putting it in my permanent file, no less). I'm beginning to fear that she may actually prevent me from passing the student teaching portion of my program. If I get to the end and find I've done this all for nothing, I can't even begin to imagine how I'll deal with the situation.

I'm not saying I'm the best student teacher. I am saying that every day, I do my best. I deserve to pass. I don't deserve a teacher-of-the-year award, but I deserve to pass.

On a somewhat related note, a second classmate of mine dropped out of student teaching. Now we're down to four people. Why am I the only person that finds this troublesome?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Time to close the storm windows. The outdoor thermometer read 30 degrees when I got up this morning. The indoor one showed 60, which is well below my comfort zone. I will not turn the heat on yet though. I'll drink hot tea and skip my shower (can't face being naked and wet when it's cold). I put a sweater on the little dog, not necessarily because she needs it but mostly because it cracks me up to watch her run around in a bright pink cable-knit sweater. Before you question my sanity, the sweater was a hand-me-down from another chihuahua owner. I would never buy such silliness (well, not in that color anyway).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Different World

When I was in high school we had a series of bomb threats. They were taken very, very seriously. Yesterday there were two such threats at the school. I saw no additional police (beyond the ones that are stationed at the school permanently) and no fire trucks. If they searched the school at all, they must have superpowers to have done it in the 10 minutes we stood on the football field while the students ripped cigarettes. I feel safe. Not.

This week happens to be spirit week, which apparently is in short supply among the student body. I saw only a handful of students participating in today's theme (college t-shirt day), while most, if not all, of the teachers proudly sported a variety of athletic wear.

When looking at a crowd of the students there is no way I could mistake them for my former classmates. The clothing, the electronics, the foul language, it's all so different. Today, however, I encountered a boy that could've been straight out of my high school in the early 90s. Hair buzzed fairly short except for one swinging swath of bleach-blond hair flopping across his face. Ah, those were the days...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Win a gorgeous quilt

No, I'm not giving it away. But Elizabeth Cranmer at Pigtails and Snails is. Go enter!

Hair Care

On Saturday morning I stopped at the local organic store and picked up a bar of Dr. Bronner's Lavender Organic Bar Soap. I'd read about the all-one bar soap that can be used for body and hair on various green blogs. My cheap and full-of-Bad Things shampoo and conditioner had been driving me batty lately, so I was ready to pursue other options. I decided to look into a vinegar hair rinse too in hopes that it would strip my hair of all the nastiness from the cheap-o crap I'd been using. I can report that both the soap and the vinegar rinse were a complete success. It was neat to use one bar of soap to wash, shave, and shampoo with. And I couldn't believe how great my hair felt after the vinegar rinse. I'll definitely be doing it again!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tomorrow will be fun

Tomorrow my host teacher will not be at school. She is attending an out-of-town conference. There will be a sub, of course, but the classes will be mine (including the one I never teach). She has told me that I can and should write up anyone that gives me crap. This kinda surprised me considering the one time I tried to write someone* up she said she'd take care of it. He was neither written up nor was he forced to comply with my request. Talk about thoroughly eliminating any possibility the students might take me seriously. I just wish it wasn't a double-block day tomorrow (I wish that same thing every other day when it rolls around again). I just keep telling myself, make it through tomorrow and you've got a three day weekend. Wheee.

*Someone is currently suspended and therefore should not be in class tomorrow to torment me. Although there are plenty of other likely someones.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

An Apple A Day

I came down with a cold Sunday night. It never got BAD, but it hasn't gone away either. I am sniffly (in the nose) and scratchy (in the throat). It's been almost a week and I'm over it. GO AWAY, you stupid cold. Mowing the lawn last night did not help, since that always makes me more congested. I think I am not doing a good enough job of eating well, especially since I've cut out the meats again. Apparently my diet of carbs and cheese does not cure all ails. Unfortunately laziness tends to trump creativity when it comes to incorporating new things into my diet.

I'm hoping to go apple picking tomorrow, so maybe that will help keep the doctor away.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lucky Day

My advance copy of Knit Two arrived today. Now if only I can find the time to read because I am so looking forward to this one. I quite enjoyed the first, The Friday Night Knitting Club.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 27, 2008


My homemade toothpaste is salty. Once I got used to that it was smooth sailing. The mixture I created is still powdery not pasty, but I just dip my wet toothbrush into the jar and it works fine. I only made a small amount as a test case, but I can see no reason not to continue using it. My teeth feel clean, and that's the point, right?

By the way, I'm storing the toothpowder in a canning jar that came with my house. I've never done any canning, but I love the jars. The only other thing I've used them for is as a vase for my pansies to take to the office. It certainly brought some cheer to my workspace.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's only 5 years old.

Student: Is this really you? [Like several others, this student has expressed repeated interest in my college ID which I wear around my neck*.]

Me: It is. [Why else would I be wearing it, you little fool?]

Student: Then you need to fix your hair and get some glasses**. [Score: student 1, teacher 0.]

* Not my idea. The school requires it.
** I was broke at the time the photo was taken and couldn't afford contacts.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Smart Shopping

Last weekend I carefully went nowhere on Saturday. Everywhere I thought of going would've cost me money. I was not so careful today. I made the normal trip to the farmer's market, but this evening I headed to JoAnn Fabric's. It might be almost 15 years since I've been in there. It was one of the first places I went after I got my driver's license. But I digress.

I went to JoAnn's to search for flannel in the remnants bin. I found a nice piece of bright red and picked up a bit of t-shirt-like cotton in black. I'd decided to sign up for Crunchy Chicken's Cloth Wipe Challenge and needed some material for the job. Following Crunchy's advice I used pinking shears to cut small squares of fabric. My new cloth wipes are in the laundry right now. I still need to work out the details of storage after usage. For those of you that are squirming in your seats as you read this, I'm only commiting to trying this for pee.

After JoAnn's I walked over to the new organic market where I found the peppermint oil I was hoping for so I can make Riana's homemade toothpaste. Now I just need to find a container to store the toothpaste in and I'll be ready to mix it up.

Then even though I was loathe to go there, I popped into Kmart to check for back-to-school clearance items. I like to use 3-ring binders to organize my unit plans for teaching, so I picked up 3 of those that were marked down.

So even though it was smart shopping, it was still spending money when I shouldn't be.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

At least tomorrow is Friday.

  • My mind is too full (and my body is too tired) to manage more than bullets.
  • Student teaching is going as well as can be expected. It's not funny anymore. It's just annoying. These kids won't even complete a word search.
  • I find it bothersome to also have class at the same time. It's too much.
  • Sometimes I wish I'd decided to pursue my degree at another institution of higher learning.
  • Last night was one of those nights. I don't think making an entire cohort of second year master's students feel like stupid, worthless idiots is the best route to take. Me thinks if every one of us fails to meet your expectations, you may be partly to blame.
  • I finally got around to picking up after Ike. I filled three garbage cans with downed branches. The rest will have to wait.
  • It may frost tonight.
  • I may close the bedroom window for the first time since spring.
  • It's amazing how many pairs of really uncomfortable shoes I own. I rotate them so a different part of my feet hurt each day. I'm beginning to think comfortable shoes do not exist outside of sneakers or flip flops.
  • Don't worry, I still want to be a teacher. I just may have to consume a great deal of chocolate.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


My good-luck-first-day-of-school flowers had started to fade (OK, they were well past starting), so I took them out to the compost pile. Little did I know there were plastic gems in the bottom of the vase. Afterall, the vase is frosted. What's the point of plastic gems you can't see? Anyway, so there I am picking plastic gems out of my compost pile, which shall we say, doesn't smell like roses. The gems that fell directly into the poison ivy stayed there. Maybe I'll go back for them after the leaves come off or if I can find my gardening gloves. Hopefully the pile will be slightly less stinkiferous by then.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stress Dreams

In times of stress I typically have two forms of what I refer to as "stress dreams." Chase dreams involve someone trying to catch me and hurt/kill me. I am running, driving, crawling, trying desperately to stay one step ahead. The other type is usually work-related and takes place in a particularly stressful environment. I used to have these dreams when I work retail during the holidays. It would just be person after person after person demanding my attention. I had dreams that felt similar at the office only it was piles o' crap that needed my attention. Never-ending piles. Well, last night I had my first of the second variety with regards to my current student teaching situation. The entire dream consisted of:


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Finding a Balance

I can see already that there are going to be entertaining tales I wish to share. Now I just need to figure out how I can do so in an appropriate manner. Until I find that balance I will have to refrain from talking about the student that was removed from class and sent home due to his state of highness. Or the other student that finally wore a shirt that covered her extensive cleavage.

I will, however, tell you about my moment of fear as I walked to my car after school. Between me and my car were two free-ranging, unattended pitt bulls. Now you all know that I am a dog person, but what you perhaps don't know is that as a toddler I was bitten on the face by a dalmatian. This has made me (understandably) wary of unknown, large dogs. Especially of the pitt bull/rottweiler variety. Fortunately for me, as I approached the dogs I observed several students in the area were unmolested by the dogs, so I forged ahead. Upon closer examination, they were both collared and the female was quite friendly. She came trotting right up to me, wagging her tail and requesting attention. I spoke to her in a kindly fashion but declined to pet her. She followed me temporarily until she realized her pal was less interested in my presence and she went to join him. I couldn't help but notice that he was still fully entact in the male arena, which makes it seem even more irresponsible of the owners to let them roam free. At least the cars near the school were driving slowly enough to notice the pitt bulls when they trotted out into the street. I just hope they stayed away from the busier, four-lane road around the corner and that they eventually returned home.

I also kind of hope they aren't hanging around again tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bath and Body

I had a few inches cut off my hair, so I've been trying to skip the conditioner in the shower. I actually don't have any right now, and I'd been hoping to not buy more. I don't care for my shampoo at all though. My hair feels icky even right after a washing. I've been using the spray-in conditioner I bought last winter to help with static, but my hair still feels icky. I doubt it's the lack of conditioner, but I can't bring myself to not use all of this wretched shampoo. Maybe putting conditioner over top it would help?

I've switched to bar soap in the shower and at both the kitchen sink and bathroom sink. I feel like I'm going through bars of soap at an alarming rate though. I think I'll inform my family that homemade soap would make a fine stocking stuffer. Lots of it.

I also ran out of my full-of-Aluminum antiperspirant of late. I'd been thinking of trying the crystal after student teaching was over, so for now I picked up some deodorant from the organic section of the grocery store. No Aluminum or Other Bad Things. Also no sweat-stoppage. Fortunately, I'm not a terribly sweaty or smelly person. I figure if I made it through the 92 degree heat and high humidity on Friday and the hour of walking to and from class on Wednesday without any stink, I'm good-to-go.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

First Week

The first week was boring but educational. Now I know what to expect during the days before school starts- meetings, more meetings, and yet more meetings. After two days of that I was anxious for the students to arrive, but that just meant two more days of filling out index cards and going over the syllabus. So in a way, I still haven't seen a single typical day in this school. Somehow I doubt Monday will qualify either.

I lucked out and got placed with a host teacher that has a window in her classroom, a rarity in this school. She has fish and a tortoise but no plants. I will definitely have plants in my classroom, especially if I have a great big window.

I'm not sure how much blogging I will do about my student teaching. Nor do I know how much time I will have for blogging in general, so bear with me. I will still be reading your blogs when I can.

Monday, September 01, 2008

La Rentrée

Today is the last day of summer for me and for many teachers in my area. Teachers return to work tomorrow and students start school in the next couple days. Mine start on Thursday but many districts in the area start on Wednesday. My plan for the day is to review content and do some prep work. If I need a break, I will vacuum and do some laundry. Happy Labor Day and Happy Rentrée!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

School Supplies

This six-pack of root beer was among the items in the boxes of groceries. It was only after I got home and began unpacking the boxes that I discovered the witty instructions added by a creative co-worker. Click on the photo to read them.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Nice to Know They Care

And care they do. My office had a going away breakfast for me today, giving me both a small bag of school supplies (pencils and Sharpies, etc.) and three big boxes of groceries. The boxes contain lots and lots of food, as well as toilet paper, laundry detergent, and dog food. And a $20 gift card for more groceries.

Unfortunately, it made me cry. Yup, I cried in front of my entire office. Lordy, how embarrassing.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fair Food is the Best

The return of the state fair heralds the official end to summer. I have always been a dedicated fair-goer. Yesterday I made my first visit, and I will go again next weekend. It did not turn out to be ideal fair weather. The temperatures were in the high 80s, although they felt well above 90. It was humid and sunny (as my shoulders can attest to). My energy and interest waned quickly. If I can't be bothered to eat fair food, we know there's a problem. I only hope the weather is more suitable next weekend because I still need to consume vast quantities of Bad Things.

I did manage to check out some cows, chickens, bunnies, sheep, goats, pigs, and llamas. I saw the butter sculpture and the beginnings of the sand sculpture. I fought the crowds in the raptor tent so I could make eyes at the barn owls (so cute are they). I bought some handmade soap in the agriculture building. It's vegetarian (no beef tallow) and fragrance free. If I like it I may buy more next weekend so I have some on hand.

In the 4H building I came across an Omlet and instantly took a liking to it. I have been wanting chickens in my backyard for years. Not that I'm going to actually do it (as the neighbors sigh in relief), but I can daydream can't I?

It took me hours and lots of water to recover last night, but I'm already looking forward to the next visit. Fried dough! Curly fries! With vinegar!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thinking Ahead

Even though I only grew one kind of vegetable this summer, I still learned from the experience. My two patio tomatoes are nearing the end of their productivity. The tomatoes they produced tasted wonderful, much better than the store bought ones or even the ones from the farmer's market. Unfortunately they did not produce nearly enough tomatoes to cover the cost of the plants themselves. So next year no patio tomatoes. I will try cherry tomatoes instead. And I will plant them in the ground, not in pots. Other things I'm considering trying next year: potatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash. And maybe an apricot tree...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Greening My Tea

I start every day with a cup of English breakfast tea with milk and sugar. I have for many years. If something prevents me from having my tea, I feel like my day has gotten off on the wrong foot. I've been using an organic English breakfast, but every tea bag comes in its own individual plastic envelope. I've used loose teas before but more as a novelty item than anything else. I have a little strainer-like contraption that rests on the top of the cup to steep the tea. While at the grocery store I found a (plastic) resealable package of loose English breakfast tea. I made it for the first time this morning. It has a slightly different taste, but I think I can get used to that. It was more expensive, but hopefully it will last longer. In addition to not having the individually wrapped bags, there isn't the wasted string and paper tab, or the cellophane that wrapped the entire box. Is using one bigger plastic bag better than using the paper, plastic, and string of my former tea? My choices were fairly limited. I bought the only loose English breakfast they had.

I know I should be using a local honey as a sweetener, but one step at a time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I actually did something this weekend!

My good friend and college roommate was home visiting family, so I drove one city west of me to spend the day with her. We talked, got crepes for lunch, visited some friends from college to meet their children, got coffee drinks (nutella latte!), and walked along the canal. In college, she would often bring "cow cookies" back to our apartment after school breaks. These were, by far, the best cookies ever. As we headed back to her father's house, I mentioned the famous cow-shaped cookies. Was the dairy nearby? It was, and they had one more cow cookie in stock. She graciously let me have it, and I snarfed the whole thing by myself. I wonder if they would ship some to me?

Not only do I love spending time with her, but the town she grew up in is a delight. It has lots of independently-owned shops and restaurants and lots of walking trails. It's a perfect place to spend the day with a good friend.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My relationship with meat

I was never a big meat-eater. I remember eating and enjoying hamburgers as a young teen, but I've almost always been happier with just the pasta, bread, or potatoes. The summer after my junior year of high school I worked with a woman who was a few years older and in college. She was a vegetarian, ate a lot of yogurt and granola, and carried a gigantic reusable water bottle with her everywhere she went. I was somewhat smitten. I wanted to be just like her (other than all that running, of course). At the end of the summer she went back to college, and I started my senior year of high school.

When I cautiously expressed my desire to go vegetarian, my step-mother immediately quashed the possibility. As long as I lived in her house, I would eat the meat I was served each night for dinner (meat, green vegetable, and starch were doled out each and every night come hell or high water). With no other course of action, I bided my time until I went away to college.

Shortly before Thanksgiving break I warned her over the phone that I was now an ovo-lacto vegetarian. In other words, no turkey for me please. She was horrified and unsure what I would eat for Thanksgiving dinner, never mind that the sides were always my favorite part. I told her that as long as there was an apple pie I would be fine.

And I was, but my approach to vegetarian eating was not a healthy one. People kidded me that I was a pastatarian or a starchatarian. I didn't eat a lot of vegetables and including protein wasn't a high priority for me. A couple years later I began craving tuna fish regularly, and around the same time I contracted a virus that I just couldn't shake. Clearly my body was trying to tell me that I needed to take better care of it. I began eating seafood occasionally (thus morphing into a pescetarian).

Eventually I went back to eating meat but, with only a few exceptions, never really enjoyed it. While with FF I ate more meat than ever before, as he is an extreme consumer of meat products. Often he would have a gigantic bloody steak for dinner with a side of chicken breast. Like many meat-eaters, he would never be able to kill and slaughter the animals he eats. I can't help but wonder how long it would take him (or other meat-eaters like him) to recover from seeing the inner workings of a slaughterhouse and to return to eating meat.

Now that I've been on my own for over a year, I've gradually returned to my pescetarian ways. I'd rather not support the meat industry or the negative impacts it has on the environment. I know there are problems with the fishing industry, but I don't believe it has to be all or nothing. I can do what I am comfortable doing right now, and that's good enough. I haven't eaten a hamburger in almost 15 years, nor have I wanted to. I would, however, have a hard time cutting tuna from my diet.

I'm sure I would've become a vegetarian at some point even without "A's" influence. We lost touch sometime after she completed the Appalachian Trail; now she's one of those old friends I hope to find on Facebook someday.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Up and Down the Hill

The walking to and from my free parking and work is going well. I often get picked up at some point in my morning walk by a co-worker, and when it is raining at the end of the day I can usually catch a ride back down the hill. It is occasionally inconvenient not to have a car with me at work. I can't run out for lunch if my frozen meal sounds unappetizing. The only other downside to it is after walking 2o minutes to work and 20 back to the car, I rarely feel like taking the doggies for a walk when I get home. I know that sounds rather pathetic, but please reference the exhaustion mentioned in the previous post.

As doable as it is in August, I wouldn't really consider it as a permanent solution. Come December and the end of my educational leave of absence, I'm sure I will fork over the money to obtain a parking spot again. Even if I resent it.

This morning was oddly foggy as I climbed the hill. I could barely make out the buildings around me. At one point I could clearly hear a woman's voice nearby, but I never found her amongst the fog. On such mornings when I'm enjoying the walk I am almost disappointed when someone pulls over to pick me up.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend Wrap-up

I had a rather nice, relaxing weekend. Grilling with family, farmer's market, dog walk, Olympics watching, and a lovely walk around the lake at Second Home Nature Center. I also took a lengthy nap Saturday afternoon, during which I unfortunately missed most of the coverage of the men's road race. Boo hiss. I did, however, wake up in time to see the last kilometer or so. (As a bit of an aside, I wish we used kilometers here in the states.)

As the weekend approaches each week I imagine doing all sorts of fun and exciting things, but the reality is that I'm so exhausted I can barely manage to stay awake. I had to fight to not nap yesterday afternoon out of fear that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep until late. As it was I didn't go to sleep until after 11:30 last night, which is darn late when I get up at 5:20. I need closer to 8-9 hours of sleep. I always assume that everyone is running around in the same state of total exhaustion. Am I wrong? And if I'm right, then something is terribly wrong with our society. I actually had to sit and rest during my walk around the lake. A formerly unheard of act. This is going to be a long day. If you hear snoring, please ignore it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Oh Deer!

As seen on one of my walks to my car after work. (Sorry about the disappearing post. Blogger difficulties.)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Green Toothbrushes

I was well past needing a new toothbrush (I never replace them on the recommended every three month schedule) when I read on another blog about Preserve Toothbrushes. They are made from recycled plastic (including yogurt cups!) and after use can be returned to the company to be made into plastic lumber. How cool is that?!

So while my car was being inspected on Saturday, I walked over to Target. The toothbrush cost me $2.04 plus tax, which you can't beat. I've used it for a couple days now and can say that I absolutely like it. It has a nice small head and super soft bristles. I would definitely recommend it.

Going into Target for even my one small item was disturbing. All of the acres of unnecessary crap and pushy people. At the checkout aisles I was shoved aside by someone with a cart full of merchandise when all I was holding was one item. Had I known for sure I would like the toothbrushes I would've bought several to avoid having to return to that store in three months. I need another soapdish now that I'm switching to bar soap, but there was no way I was buying one there. If I can't find the one that is MIA in my own house, I'll pay a visit to the thrift store. I'm going to do my best to avoid buying new whenever possible.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

From my morning walk

Berrybird suggested that I take some pictures along my new route to work. As it happens, I paused briefly in my hill climbing on Friday morning to do just that. I almost always have my camera with me. I'm always on the lookout for shots I could use in future classroom settings. This, for example, would be perfect for a lesson on Mollusks:

Now I just need to ID it. Anyone good at snails? Wood snail, I think, but what kind?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cheap and Lazy

My place of employ charges their employees to park, even though there is a multitude of space available for parking. It's done on a sliding scale so that the more you make, the more you pay. When you get a raise, wack! Now you pay more to park. I'm sure this is not an unusual practice, but knowing that doesn't make me any happier about it.

August 1st marks the beginning of a new parking year, but with my upcoming leave-of-absence I was reluctant to have to buy the new pass, then return it in a month, and buy it again a few months after that. I certainly wasn't going to pay for it during my 3 month LOA. To avoid all the hassle, I decided I would just buy the fool thing when I return to work in December.

So today was the first day of my new routine which involves parking nearby (where it's free!) and walking to my office. I cut through some nice wooded areas and some tall grassy bits, then I popped out onto the sidewalk to climb the hill to my office building. I arrived somewhat sweaty and damp from the dew in about 15 minutes (change of pants and shoes in my backpack). My plan is on mornings when it's raining cats & dogs to snag a spot in the visitor parking. Surely they won't know the difference for one day, right? If I was more ambitious I'd calculate how much money I'm saving by doing this.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Search of Shorter Showers

The length of my showers has always bothered me (and probably my parents and sister and roommates and...). I have always taken really, really long showers, but I am never standing idly in the water. I am busy the entire time. Get in, get wet, shampoo, rinse, condition, shave, rinse, soap, rinse, wash face, rinse. Thus far I have been unsuccessful in reducing the time. So I'm throwing it out to you all. I would love to spend less time in the shower and use less water and electricity. Any suggestions, ideas, thoughts?

I've been alternating between a bar soap and bath wash with the poof. The bar soap is much quicker, but it leaves a weird sticky residue and makes my skin dry. I feel much cleaner with the poof. I don't know if all bar soaps would have the same effect, or if it's just mine (which is locally made and otherwise wonderful). I'd like to eliminate the purchasing of the body wash because of its plastic bottle.

I usually skip showering once a week. I don't think I smell, but I end up feeling pretty scuzzy by the end of the day. I know I'd get used to it if I did it regularly, but in the summer I'd still have to shave daily. (Curse the genetics that blessed me with fast-growing hair.)

So what's your secret to shorter showers?

Monday, July 28, 2008


I didn't do anything terribly note-worthy this weekend. I watched TV. I took the dogs for a walk in the neighborhood. I sat outside and read half a book (not for school!). I watched the dogs compete to see who could eat more Things They Should Not Eat in the backyard. It was a draw, by the way. I thought about many things I'd like to do: go to wine country, go to the waterfall-filled region south of here, go to the mansion gardens west of here, go swimming, but I'm just not up for doing all those things alone. I mean really, who goes wine tasting alone? And so, like always, I did nothing instead.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cross one more off the list

Today is the last day of this foul class. I am so glad I never have to think about it again (assuming I pass). I hope to do something fun this weekend, but I have a feeling I may just end up crashing on the couch and staring mindlessly at the TV. That and sleeping for as many hours as possible...

This was the last of my general ed requirements. So long, farewell! It's been grand. Not.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Alga Dancing

My classes had been getting so bogged down with theories, accommodations, and strategies that I was starting to forget why I'd wanted to be a teacher in the first place. Today in class we did an activity on different ways to teach vocabulary. My partner and I had zipped through the exercise, and I was standing around in an effort to stretch my chair-weary legs (four and half hours of class is a lot of sitting).

The group next to me was struggling with how to get their imaginary students to remember the word algorithm. I immediately started doing a little dance. When I explained that I was an alga dancing because dancing requires rhythm I got two blank stares. You know, an alga with rhythm? Alga-rhythm? Imagine I was wearing all green? Nothing. Fine. I went back to bouncing around and stretching my legs and wondering how they could not see the connection. They spent another few minutes trying to come up with something. Finally I asked them what an algorithm was, and they launched into a definition of the steps for a math problem (yada, yada, yada). So I demonstrated, again, my example of an alga dancing, but this time I did the waltz and counted out loud. One. Two. Three. STEPS. Now they no longer thought it was stupid (and yes, that was the word that was used to describe my idea) and even used it as their example when they presented to the class. Ha! They did ask me to be a guest dancer. I chose the foxtrot for that.

I want to be the teacher that dresses all in green and dances around the room. Because you know what, no one in my class would forget algorithm if I did that.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Melissa from Better Living posted the link for a site that helps calculate how walkable your neighborhood is, Walk Score. You simply enter your address and it does the rest for you. My neighborhood registered at a 31 out of 100.
"25 - 50 = Not Walkable: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must."
What's a little odd to me is that there are drugstores, grocery stores, restaurants, banks, etc within walking distance. There are not schools or libraries terribly close though. I am embarrassed to admit that I've never walked to any of the localations near me. When I walk in my neighborhood it's with the dogs, not to an outside destination.

Perhaps Walk Score will help to encourage me (and others?) to take advantage of the walkability of where we live.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Math Already Makes Me Sweat

Class number two of the summer semester has started. I maintain that class is no way to spend the warm summer months. When the temperatures soar above ninety and the humidity turns the air into something that you wear the situation only deteriorates.

A portion of this class is being held at a local middle school that, regardless of the relative wealth of the school district, does not have air conditioning in the classrooms. Seeing as how I do not have AC in my home this is, perhaps, not as taxing on me as my classmates. However, when I am attempting to explain integer subtraction to reluctant soon-to-be eigth graders I think we could all benefit from some cooler temperatures.

This is my first experience with summer school (other than that ridiculous movie), so I was much relieved to see the casual nature of the dress code. I've seen teachers in shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. Now that is refreshing.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Better Living

While reading a newly discovered blog, Better Living, I was inspired by Melissa's list of positive things she does towards what she describes as "better living." I came up with a list of my own, which will hopefully be evolving and growing.

Some positive things I do now:
  • buy used textbooks
  • use reusable cloth menstrual pads
  • use sea sponge tampons
  • compost
  • use reusable cloth grocery bags
  • mow the lawn as rarely as possible
  • run only full loads of laundry and dishes
  • wash clothes mostly on cold
  • reuse towels multiple times
  • wear some clothes multiple times before washing
  • buy some food stuff from farmer's market (locally grown/made)
  • buy organic when possible
  • have no AC in the house
  • keep thermostat as low as possible in wintertime
  • have solar panels to assist in heating during cold months
  • limit unnecessary driving
  • walk locally (in neighborhood) almost exclusively to eliminate the drive to more interesting places
  • think before making purchases- do I really need "x" item?
  • belong to Freecycle
  • donate old clothes/household items to Salvation Army
  • eat little meat (no red meat at all)
  • use compact fluorescent bulbs
  • drink tap water
  • use reusable metal water bottle
  • recycle paper, plastic, metal, glass
  • attempt to grow my own tomatoes
  • use reusable cloth napkins
  • not use any chemicals on my lawn or garden
  • read "green" blogs for additional ideas to incorporate into my lifestyle

Some long-term changes/goals:
  • buy reusable produce bags
  • reduce or eliminate paper towel usage
  • reduce kleenex usage (really?)
  • learn to sew
  • learn to cook
  • learn to make more of what I need
  • take shorter/fewer showers
  • use more natural cleaning products like vinegar
  • work closer to home
  • own a more fuel efficient car
  • buy used books (recreational books)
  • buy energy efficient appliances when old ones need replacing
  • grow more edibles
  • avoid big box stores

Friday, July 04, 2008

Just don't get in front of me

I wanted to do something different today. My second summer class starts on Monday, and I fully expect it to be a miserable experience. I refuse to wallow away the whole weekend in self-pity. So I dusted off my rollerblades and headed to the park. Well, actually I didn't dust them off, I merely threw them in the trunk. It's a darn good thing I don't live in scorpion country. It's been at least 5 years, possibly several more, since I've gone rollerblading. The first few minutes were terrifying and painful. I managed not to fall and pushed through the burning shins. I started to get the hang of it again. Rollerblading keeps me humble. Just when I've gotten a good stride going, when I'm starting to feel confident, I hit a twig or a stone or I let my mind wander and my life flashes before my eyes. I must be entertaining to watch, but more importantly, I enjoy the wind in my face and the speed in my legs. Maybe I can add rollerblading to my weekend activities. Clearly, I could benefit from the exercise.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Stolen Tomato

Many weeks ago I bought a patio tomato at the farmer's market. This was to be my first real attempt at growing edibles. There were two plants in the one pot, and I was advised to split them up and re-pot into two bigger containers. Since that would've required a trip to the store, I kept putting it off. Finally I noticed a tomato turning orange. I watched it carefully, checking it before and after work. This past weekend I purchased two larger plastic pots and a bag of potting soil. Now I have two tomato plants! Yesterday morning my first tomato was heading towards red, but when I checked it after work it was gone! I genuinely thought someone has stolen my tomato before I noticed it resting sadly in the dirt next to the pot. The bottom was soft and rotten. Why did my tomato go bad before it was ripe? And how do I prevent it from happening to the others?

Monday, June 30, 2008


I've started composting in a rather haphazard fashion. I have a tiny little compost pile tucked between the currant bushes and the golden rod in the back "wild" corner of my yard. I'm less interested in producing rich soil and more interested in decreasing my trash production. So far it's been mostly strawberry hulls, egg shells, tea bags, and some grass clippings (not from the lawn mower- those get mulched into the lawn- these are from some trimming I did by hand).

I like to visit Compost This to check on various things. They advise smashing the egg shells into little bits because they compost so slowly. Oops. Maybe I should jump up and down on my little pile to crush the ones I've already put out there? I try not to waste food, but there is invariably a few things that still must go in the trash. According to Compost This, the heels of my bread should not go in the compost pile, nor should the bit of uneaten pasta not worth saving. Although maybe the squirrels would like to snack on the bread, and would that really be a bad thing?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My parents have green thumbs

These are only a fraction of the many flowering plants in my parents' yard. Every year they plant hundreds of impatiens, in addition to the multitude of perennials. I always admire their gardens but don't like to think about all the weeding they must require. I lucked out the other day when I was over there and found tons of perfectly ripe wild strawberries, including handfuls of blond ones. One more thing to add to the list of "things I want to plant in my yard."

Some of my hostas are in bud and my coral bells are always flowering. One of the geraniums that survived the winter in dormancy in the garage has sent up its first flower of the summer. My lovely farmer's market lilies from last summer are just about to pop. I need to get more of those too; they are so neat and compact, with gorgeous flowers.

FF was prodded into removing the blade from the lawn mower to take to work and sharpen. Hopefully, he can get to it tomorrow because my grass is starting to look a tad shaggy. The blade was so dull that it was pushing the grass over instead of cutting it. Must be all the stumps I've caught with it over the years. Maybe mowing will go faster with it sharpened? One can always hope...
Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 27, 2008

My dogs are my kids so talk about them I will.

The dog wrangling gets easier with each walk. I can hold both leashes in one hand most of the time now. I broke down and bought a new harness for Mr. Dog after searching the house high and low. I'm sure his old one will surface now that I've bought another. The new one is nicer than the old and makes for a more comfortable walk. He pulls relentlessly at the leash the whole time, but at least with a harness there's less pressure on his throat and therefore less in the way of choking sounds. As he pulls forward, Esme is often trailing behind as she attempts to pick up another rock or stick to carry in her mouth. They both have missions (his is full speed ahead, while hers is not), and it is my mission to keep them moving at an even keel. They also have completely different reactions to other dogs as they approach. Esme slams on her brakes and digs in her heels. Mr. Dog claws at the pavement like a hamster in a wheel as he attempts to get closer, faster, now! Depending on the size and number of approaching dogs (and the degree of control their owners seem to exert), I may pick up Esme so that I can more easily move us past. She has the same reaction at loud noises or kids on bikes.

I wish I could remember more of what Mr. Dog was like as a little puppy. Was he as much of a dingbat as she is? Will she get smarter with age? She has moments now of looking less like a chubby puppy and more like a small dog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Perhaps my score was affected by lack of children?


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

I took it as if I hypothetically had a husband. I'm guessing even if I had both husband and children I would still be a bad 30s wife.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Too much of a good thing

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sad about being alone, even when I know it is my choice. Most of the time, though, I love being alone. Most of the time I am happy that it's just me and the dogs.

It was so nice to come home to a quiet house tonight. There was no one being petty and mean, no one calling me names when they think I'm out of earshot. I may not have a single person that puts me first in this world, but I also don't have a house full of people that put me down.

Sometimes there's nothing wrong with being alone. Nothing at all.

Soaping Up

Momma Val asked for an update on the soapnut experiment. You'll remember that SmellyAnn sent me some LaundryTree soapnuts a while back. They come with a little cloth bag that you put the soapnuts in and close with a drawstring. I've used them three times and have had no problems with the bag opening. They leave a faint fresh scent and no residue (or nut chunks). My only issue with them is actually an issue with myself. I tend to do almost all of my laundry in cold water, but soapnuts only work in warm (or hot) water. If you want to use cold water, you need to boil them in water first and essentially make your own detergent. Considering I can't be bothered to cook myself dinner, I don't see myself cooking my own laundry detergent. So if you do most of your laundry on warm, these may be the thing for you.

Recently I read about switching to bar soap on Going Green. I'd never thought of the environmental impact of using hand soap before, so this was an enlightening post for me. I do buy liquid soap in big refill bottles, which is better than if I'd been buying dispensers each time. But it's been bugging me ever since I read BurbanMom's post. So yesterday at the farmer's market, I picked up a bar of locally made gardener's soap. It has little bits of cornmeal in it to act as a scrubbing agent. I put it next to my kitchen sink, and now I'm hooked. My hands feel so clean! I'll definitely be getting a bar for the bathroom too.

The real challenge will be in the shower. I am a shower gel user. I've been using those (plastic) shower poofs for 15 years and I love them. My pores have a tendency to clog easily, and the poofs are very effective at removing dead skin. But the poofs have a fairly short shelf life and need regular replacement. When my last poof was on its last legs, I replaced it with a cloth version. The cotton poof doesn't work in the same way. It takes longer to maneuver, but it exfoliates just as well (or better). I just don't think using a bar of soap would have the same exfoliating effect, and that's not something I'm willing to sacrifice.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 1997

sunny, warm
beach w/ Forrest, read WoodsWoman III
ravens calling
K & K arrived around 12:15
chatting & catching up
back down to the beach
shoreline w/ K & Forrest
dead crayfish
freshly emerged damsel fly & shell
something bit me - Jen says pumpkin seed
tiger swallowtail
swimming with Forrest, K & K
classroom - crazy moths on outside wall near light
barred owls calling
"who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?"

This is an excerpt from a nature journal I kept for class during my summer session as an undergrad at Small Green School. I pulled it out of storage to use in a lesson plan I'm developing for my current class. This particular entry was pretty bare bones, but I decided to share it on account of the date. There was a watercolor sketch of the crayfish included.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Garden update sans photos

The peonies and irises are done. The flowers from the black locusts (Robinia pseudoacacia) are a thing of the past, but the catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) is in full bloom. Too bad the flowers are so high up that I don't really get to appreciate them. I can and do appreciate the sweet syringa (Philadelphus coronarius) whose flowers have just opened in the last few days. It grows beneath my bedroom window, and I like to imagine I can catch hints of it while I sleep. Actually, I swear I can smell it right now.

I can't believe June is half over. I've spent so little time working in the yard. It makes me sad, but maybe I'll have more time next summer. Sigh.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barf bag, anyone?

I think I put the nail in the coffin today as far as riding the bus goes. I was one stop from hurling all over the floor. Every turn, every bump, every pothole, every stop sign, every slight move seemed designed to make me ill. I could taste it, I could feel it coming. I squeezed my eyes shut and concentrated on making it to my stop. Then I rushed down the bus steps and walked as slowly as possible, breathing deeply of the fresh air. The nausea didn't fade for at least the first hour of class.

I was so traumatized that I refused to ride the bus back to my office after class. Instead I tightened the shoulder straps on my backpack, buckled the waist and chest straps and put up my hair. I would walk it! The flat parts were mostly pleasant with occasional shade, but when I turned to start up the big, long hill the shade vanished. I was sweating profusely, and I could feel my face turn into the tomato it usually reserves for lawn mowing. Black pants in the bright sun weren't helping. I plugged on, stopping only once to take a quick swig of water.

I finally got to my building and was thankful for the AC, something I usually dislike. Forty minutes, door-to-door, walking at a pretty good clip. I'm not sure walking it twice a day in summer is practical, especially since my July class is held several blocks further down the hill. I got blisters on both feet, as I was wearing my Tevas for only the second time this season. And I can't promise I didn't smell during my afternoon meeting.

At least I don't have to worry about it for tomorrow, but it will take a lot to convince me to get back on that bus.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I must've been insane.

When did I think I might fit in a walk, let alone three per week? For tomorrow I have a 3-5 page paper to write and 60 pages of blah to read. I know it doesn't sound that bad, but remember... full-time job!

The shuttle bus was much smoother the second time around, but all it took was 3 minutes of attempting to read to bring me to the verge of throwing up. What a waste of time I desperately need. I know, you're wondering what I'm doing blogging if I'm so short on time. Well, I just needed a break from that entirely boring third article. Clearly I won't be making it to articles 4 and 5 tonight.

Also, is it dangerous for my dogs to be eating vast amounts of blanket fuzz? Because it's just about the only thing keeping them semi-entertained.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm having trouble getting back into the swing of class. It's summertime! My brain is putting up a strong resistance to this folly, and who can blame it? Four and half hours of class every day is a lot. And frankly, it's been pretty dull so far. The readings are also less than stimulating. In fact, the best thing so far is seeing my classmates again and the addition of one who hails from my alma mater. We've been reminiscing and bouncing names of old friends around, although we probably never had many (if any) classes together. She focused on the physiological side of things, whereas I prefer all things plant.

I took the campus shuttle yesterday for the first time. The driver was very friendly and answered my "newbie" questions. I forgot to ask the all-important question regarding the pick-up location on main campus, as the normal locale is behind construction cones and barrels. Hopefully, I can figure it out before tomorrow's return trip (due to a work-related scenario I did not ride the bus today). The stupid shuttle only runs every 40 minutes during the summer, so I will be missing more work than I would prefer. The shuttle is a good first step towards taking the bus to work, although I am still having major issues with the additional hour and half to two hours a day that the bus would require. Think of the poor pups!

I've been working on a paper, but I think I shall call it a night.

Friday, June 06, 2008


My peonies opened yesterday. Gorgeous pale pink flowers that I never grow tired of seeing. I also have three shades of irises in full bloom.

In the wee hours of the morning I was rudely awakened by booming thunder, flashing lightening, and pounding rain. I thought for sure my peonies would be smashed to bits in the mud, but they were holding their own when I took the dogs out. Some of the irises didn't fare so well.

Nor did I, for that matter. The power went out, and I overslept by an hour. I skipped my morning tea and have had a throbbing, stabbing headache all day. No amount of drugs has helped, nor has the caffeine in the cola I had with lunch. The tea I had planned on consuming upon my arrival at work was nixed after I realized the funky smell in my office was coming from the moldy hot cocoa. The big sniff I took of the mug contents practically burned my nose hairs.

Esme will certainly not approve of my desire to lie on the couch with my eyes closed. I'm sure she'll be much more interested in chewing on my nose or chin. Why did I bother buying all those dog toys?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I haven't done bullets in a while.

  • Class starts Monday. Freedom is in short supply in these parts.
  • Esme's ears are now fully erect. They only flop over a little when she sleeps. Mr. Dog's ears never flop, in fact you'd need duct tape to restrain them.
  • She is still absolutely insane. That old saying about letting sleeping dogs lie has taken on new meaning. I'll have had her 4 weeks tomorrow. How many more years before she calms down?!
  • I watched the first half of The Andromeda Strain Sunday night. It was not a good choice for me to watch when I was home alone after dark, before trying to sleep. I haven't been able to watch the second half yet. I read the book several decades ago. Perhaps I am more whimpy now?
  • Last night I happened upon the first three episodes of Start Trek: Enterprise. I never got into that series when it came out, but I'm hooked now. Of course, finding the rest of it in sequential order could take effort. You're not all shocked that I love Star Trek are you? I was a big time TNG fan.
  • I haven't been able to do any gardening or yard work. I haven't quite found the necessary balance with regards to Esme and well, the rest of my life. Vacuuming has also gone by the wayside.
  • Needless to say, I am concerned how I'll manage my schoolwork and what has already been described as intensive reading assignments. I guess four weeks wasn't quite long enough to assimilate her into my life.
  • I haven't managed my goal of four walks per week either, so with class starting I guess I will admit defeat and lower the goal back down to three.
  • I've also been suffering from some sort of food crisis. I don't like to cook, and I don't like to spend money on food. I will go to the store and buy the bare minimums and then be desperately unhappy the next time I want to eat. I end up eating chips & salsa for dinner. Or croutons. Directly from the bag. I don't know what the solution is.
  • I decided to try not wearing mascara to work today. And you know what? The world did not end. I may be on to something here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rail Trail to the North

Yesterday evening Birding Friend and I drove up to a rail trail. She'd been there in the past during the bird-a-thon and was anxious to get out one more time before starting a second job. I'm always open to finding new places to walk, especially if someone else is driving. It was a nice wide, flat, straight path that we walked for about three miles.

She pointed out bird calls and I showed her different ferns (cinnamon, interrupted, royal, and sensitive). I spied a muskrat just as it slipped into the water. The few ATVs we saw were driven at reasonable speeds by courteous individuals. It would be a nice spot to walk with the dogs or ride a bike, but with the high gas prices it's not exactly practical.

I am always wishing that we had a more extensive trail system in my area, so it brings me pleasure to find a rail trail somewhat nearby. To see if there are any near you, visit TrailLink.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Yesterday's mail brought a nice little treat. Laundrytree's soapnuts sent to me by Smellyann. I haven't tried them yet because I only do one load a week of my clothes (the dog's get their own load). I can't wait to try them, but I wonder if I can still do the vinegar? I love the idea of not producing any waste and being able to compost the nuts after using them. So stayed tuned, and I'll let y'all know how I like them.

Thanks Smellyann!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunny Saturday

Some of my poppies have popped. I think maybe if I stood next to them long enough I could catch them in the act of going from fuzzy buds to gorgeous open flowers.

The Solomon seals hide quietly in the deep shade behind my house. They do not announce their presence with the same zeal that the poppies do, but they are well worth the extra look.

The lily-of-the-valley are filling the backyard with a lovely light scent, but I was unable to capture them on film. I brought 4 flower stalks into the house for continued enjoyment of their fine scent. My grandmother had tiny vases that were perfect for a single small flower. I wish I had them now, as my lily-of-the-valley would look much better in those tiny blue and white vases than they do in the wine glass I put them in.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Other Forms of Recycling

Esme has been regressing. When I first got her she did not mess in her crate at all. But now she will pee even if she's only in there for 4 hours. As a result I have to change her towel/blanket twice a day. I don't like running the washing machine unless I have a full load, so I decided what I need is more doggie bedding. I posted a sign in the kitchen at work inviting people to bring me their old towels or baby blankets. I would like to avoid having to buy new items for this purpose.

The next day I found a plastic bag in my mailbox when I came in. I assumed it was for the doggies until I opened it up and found 3 articles of clothing and a note from my boss asking if I liked them. Her sister is as big a shopper as she is but had decided these items weren't practical for the Texas clime. Since they didn't work for my boss she brought them in for me to try. One is a lovely, soft, brown shawl-type sweater that I adore. I haven't tried the others on yet because I am so enamoured with this one.

No one has brought me any doggie bedding yet though. Perhaps they are reluctant to air their "dirty laundry" in front of a co-worker?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Heart Walking

Last night after filling all 3 of my yard waste containers and dragging them to the curb, I took both dogs for a walk. I can see it will take some getting used to, but I am happy to report that I made it through the entire circuit of my normal half hour walk. It took quite a bit longer though, what with all the dog wrangling. Esme walked at least half of it, with me carrying her while we were on the busier streets and when crossing (she's prone to stopping for no apparent reason). It's such a relief to know that I can manage it with a little patience and attention to detail (and extra poop bags).

While on the subject of walking, it seems that people these days either are not aware that there are rules dictating which side of the road you should be walking on or just don't care. I am always careful to be walking or biking on the correct side, but from what I see most people in my neighborhood do whatever they please. Sometimes I am the only person walking on the correct side, which makes me appear to be the one in the wrong! So to review:
  1. When riding a bike, you ride WITH traffic.
  2. When walking, you FACE traffic.

Any questions?

Last summer, I set a goal for myself to walk a minimum of 3 times a week. This year I am upping that goal to 4 times a week, with the exception of when class is in session. All bets are off then.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The wonders of vinegar

I continually mention how I draw inspiration from fellow bloggers. While reading These Days in French Life, I happened upon a post in which Riana sings the praises of vinegar. I was intrigued but not overly motivated until my host teacher shared with me an article about a science fair project about dirty laundry. I did some web surfing and bought some vinegar (yes, it's true, I did not even own any vinegar!) and started adding it to my laundry. My laundry smells good (no residual vinegar smells) and static cling has been much reduced. I don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener, so it's both economical and environmentally friendly. The killing of poop-bacteria is less tangible, but I'm sure it's helping that too. I do all of my laundry on cold, so I feel better adding the vinegar. Especially since I am regularly washing dog blankets and towels.

I may also try using vinegar to clean, but well, I'm not in any rush to take up cleaning. Ha!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Princess Pup

I know some of you may be wondering why I haven't been reading at home or taking the bus like I had plan. This is why:

I picked her up a little over a week ago. She weighed 2 lbs 7 oz and was 8 weeks old. She is a black & tan short-haired chihuahua. She did not come with papers and will most likely be in the 10-12 lb range as an adult (that is only a guess on my part; I can't wait to see how wrong I am!). She is playful and cuddly and quite a handful. It's all eyes on deck at all times to prevent irreparable damage to my coffee table, carpet, and anything else she takes a fancy to. The floor is strewn with chew toys, but they are much less interesting than books, papers, and furniture. Don't worry, I've done this before. I raised Mr. Dog since he was her age and he turned out fine. I can only hope she takes to training as well as he did.

So for those of you counting, I now own two dogs and a cat. I also provide shelter to a second cat, and it will be a happy day when he takes his leave. Since I have no spouse or children, I might as well have a lot of pets, right?

Friday, May 16, 2008


After reading about Momma Val's Freecyclin' experiences, I re-googled and discovered there is a Freecycle group in my region. I just joined the group, so now I may be looking at my clutter with a new eye. What can I give away?

I wish I'd known about this group when we were cleaning out my grandmother's house. I'm sure there would've been a few takers on some of the things that got thrown out. Oh well, live and learn and take inspiration from fellow bloggers. Right?!

A little bit about books

I've been desperately trying to read my Bookworm Challenge book during lunch at work. Unfortunately, I am constantly getting interrupted and have made little progress. I could close my office door, but I don't feel right about that since I am the go-to person for staff. I have other books I'd like to read before my next class, but at this rate I may not have a chance.

In other book news, I still need to say a few words about Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs. Although an easy and enjoyable read, I did not like it as much as her first novel, The Friday Night Knitting Club. This one is too light and fairy tale-esque. I like happy endings and all, but there needs to be a little sour to balance out the sweet. In this case, it just all worked out a little too unrealistically well. But if you are looking for a nice, light, summer read, Comfort Food might satisfy your chick lit cravings.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


One of my co-workers brought these plants in for me yesterday: a columbine (blue), two hostas, some bee balm, and a hardy mum. They were dug from her yard and her mother's yard with me in mind. I am thrilled!

I only got two of them planted last night (the two hostas) before I received a phone call from FF asking for help. The belt on his car had snapped, so I had to pick him up at the car parts store (he'd walked there from the gas station where his dead car awaited) and take him to get his tools from his work van. By the time I got back home it was dark. I guess that just gives me more time to think about proper placement. I'm prone to digging holes and plopping plants any old place. I should really consider the best place for the bee balm though because I think it spreads easily?

Sunday, May 11, 2008


When I announced my plans to walk and read as much as possible during my month off, BerryBird asked what I planned to read first. It's not so much what I planned to read first, as it is what I have returned to (hopefully) finally finish- Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv. I started it last fall and used it as a source in papers I've written the last two semesters. Even only halfway through, it has already helped me to conceptualize my teaching philosophy. It also makes me anxious to have my own children so that I can share my love of nature with them.

I am challenging myself to finish this book now, so I've signed up for Green Bean's Be a Bookworm Challenge. If you've already read Last Child, there are plenty of other good suggestions worth looking over on Green Bean Dreams. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It does serve a purpose.

I just got back from a nice long lunch spent on "the beach*" catching up with two classmates from high school. One I haven't seen since we were both wearing caps and gowns, and the other who I've only seen once- at our 10 year reunion. We talked about wives and children and houses and careers. Oddly enough we're all at the same institution of higher learning, although each in a different degree course (JD, PhD, & MS). It was lovely catching up, and I genuinely hope to see them again, preferably without waiting another 14 years.

As it turns out, Facebook has benefits that extend above and beyond throwing sheep (which I enjoy).

*No, I did not just move to a seaside resort. The Beach is a nickname for a portion of a street near Hometown U. It used to be more grassy, but these days it tends toward the cement.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Done. For now.

I finished the last thing for this semester this morning. I expected to feel elated. I get a whole month off! Instead I feel dejected and over-wrought. A chocolate cake or a big ol' margarita would not be out of line.

The oral exam/exit interview/paper defense this morning was a bit rougher than I'd expected. I'd rather someone just give me a bad grade than sit there and tell me to my face how much I suck. It felt neither productive nor constructive. Clearly I'm too sensitive.

Now I have one month to go for walks, read books, and garden before it starts all over again.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Old woman, I am.

This afternoon I joined my father and stepmother to go to an African violet show. Upon entering we were each given a slip of paper and pencil to vote for the people's choice award. We take such responsibility very seriously in my family. Up and down the rows we went, carefully examining all the gorgeous and unique specimens. The honor court was especially impressive. We finally made our selections, each independently choosing a different plant. After that we made our way to the sale table. I narrowed my favorites down to two, whereas my parents waffled endlessly. Finally, I paid for my one, Starry Night Blue, and left my parents to pick out theirs. The older woman making the sale offered me invaluable advice on caring for it. She told me how she'd only gotten into raising African violets a year ago. Now she has around 40 plants at home! She took me around to show me some of her plants, including two in the honor court. One of them was the one I had voted for!

Now I just hope I can keep my new plant alive and flowering. I have one old and very small African violet that hasn't flowered in years. The lady suggested that I replant it in a smaller pot to force flowering. My interest in African violets started during my sophomore year of college when I lived alone in a basement apartment. I finally succeeded in getting one to flower on my window sill. When I happily phoned my father to brag, he congratulated me on officially becoming an old woman.