Thursday, April 28, 2005

Happy to be Wimpy

So...the classroom/attic/offices in the barn/extension of the Shelter are almost empty. ( We've been working all week moving stuff out to the new portable classroom and the portable storage container next door.) The girls are getting pretty tired of moving things...and their cooperation is waning. Some of them took their frustration out on the furniture, I think. Well, when I say 'furniture' I mean big old plywood cubbies that were rickety to begin with. The speed with which they moved them out of the attic, down the stairs, and out to the truck was almost breathtaking. I started out the day in the crypt-like basement with two girls, cleaning out old cabinets of junk - everything from tools to jars of old bolts to buckets of dried out joint compound...and then we were supposed to move the cleaned out cabinets - which were very decrepit- out to the trash pile by the dumpster. I knew FOR SURE that I was not going to be able to get those cabinets up the stairs ...but fortunately, the girls I was working with were ambitious and strong and took on the job like amazons. I felt rather wimpy but I didn't really care; I was just glad I didn't have to haul those things up the stairs. Hey- that's what I'm getting paid for - to watch the girls work! Really! ( No- I actually did some heavy lifting later on...)When one of girls couldn't get a good hand hold on the back of a cabinet, she took a hammer and literally TORE OFF THE BACK OF THE CABINET...( partly with her bare - or were they gloved?- hands). I was extremely impressed and told her she should work on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" as part of a demolition team. One good thing about moving the stuff was that we didn't have to be careful about not damaging the walls etc. ( good thing because those girls were going like tazmanian devils and seemed not to know the meaning of the word caution) because the whole barn/extension of the house is slated to be demolished on...MONDAY! Perty excitin' stuff.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Brad says, "Quit your blogging and let's read the Bible."

Brad just asked me to find his Bible for him. I wanted to know which one - as he has several. Indicating the one on the coffee-table/chest, I said, " This old thing?" ( It looks like it's been through several world wars...and yet, I still can't believe I phrased it that way.) He said, " This old thing? I only wear it when I don't care what I look like!" ( quoted from It's a Wonderful Life.) This might only be funny if you know the quote, and it might not even be funny at all, but I thought it was funny and this is my- um, our- blog, so there. I did write another blog today but have decided to post-pone its publication for several more weeks or months. No- I'm not pregnant. Brad thinks I should remove the thing about not being pregnant because he says I am qualifying practically every other blog by saying that I'm not pregnant( I don't even remember saying that ONCE)...but I thought it sounded suspicious so I had to clear it up for you.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Derrick and Jeff hopped up on sugar infested brownies and ice cream. Posted by Hello

Wesley being suave as usual.  Posted by Hello

We had the boys over tonight for pizza and hilarity. Posted by Hello

Mom and Penny examining our fortune cookie bits of wisdom posted on the fridge. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 22, 2005

Bearded Grizzly Bunnies of the Northern Woods

It is Friday- Hallelujah- and I strongly feel that I have earned every minute of my weekend.

Here are some more short excerpts from our lives of late...

The other day I found this semi-large envelope in the mail from Cornell University addressed to Brad. I was quite curious. He tore it open and guffawed upon reading the opening line, "Dear Resident of the Northern Forest..." It turns out we were selected to take part in a random survey...but it made us feel like backwoods folk.

Brad was trying out his newly acquired beard trimmer this week, and lo and behold, shaved off half of his beard by mistake. Ooops. So how his facial hair has transmogrified into a goatee, with which I am very much delighted.

The girls at the Shelter were involved in a project for school this week- writing a persuasive essay on makeup. They had to take one of two positions: makeup is bad for you, or makeup is good for you. It was very interesting to watch their efforts as they researched and drafted their way through the week. More than one girl took up the "make-up is bad because of animal testing" argument. In fact, I found one girl in tears at a computer; she had gone online to research animal testing and had found these grisly pictures of bunnies mistreated during testing on some beauty product. She had to go take a time-out to collect herself. Now, I've never been an animal rights person, but seeing pictures of some of the things that have been done to animals in the name of beauty made me feel a little queasy. And it made me think a little bit...Before, I would have said, " Well, it's better to test it on animals than to test it on humans!" But now I am thinking, why test at all? Why not find a natural product to use instead of gathering up all kinds of evil, acidy, carcinogenic chemicals to slather all over your face? Hmmm. Food for thought. But no, I am not going to go out and hold up signs protesting fur coats. Not that I WANT a fur coat...(ew) but I don't have anything against those who want to look odd.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

And now, these headlines...

After several days of absence, I have a few things to report.

The sheep have been shorn and now look ridiculously small. I thought they were mature sheep but with their wool removed, they look positively toddler-ish...and also strangely bald...all over.

I discovered that our neighbors up the road have a couple of llamas. The strange creatures and I stared at each other for several minutes the other day while I was on a walk. Llamas are proof that God is funny.

The Shelter is in the process of renovating the attached barn ( where we have offices, the classroom, and the attic) and the first step towards demolition happened this week. The new portable classroom arrived and was deposited on the lot next door to us! It is one of those two-part, pre-fab, wide load house things that always make you cringe when you see them coming towards you on the road. At least- I always cringe...because I just imagine them falling over on top of me as they reach, I have had my share of narrow scrapes with them as they swung wide on a curve.... So it's kind of ironic that next month I'll be working in one of the monsters. Nothing like bearding the proverbial lion in its den. Now all we have to do is clean out the classroom and move about a gazillion tons of junk into the portable behemoth. That's what next week is for- April Vacation! ( Which, yes, I will be working.)

For those of you who remember "Shishka bob" girl...She excitedly told me the other morning that she had had a dream about a shishka bob! Except, once she related it to me, it sounded more like a sparkly, orange mermaid. But she was convinced that it was one and the same - a kind of "Transformer" thing. Uh....OKAY. We won't try any interpretations here.

One of the girls left this who had been here a while and was, to put it mildly, a pill and a half. But she was a semi-lovable pill and for all her moodiness and unreasonableness, I will miss her, kind of. She seemed to fancy herself the poet laureate of The Antrim Girls' Shelter and on the morning she departed, she proceeded to read a specially penned farewell. It consisted of a motif of tears..." I cry for so-and-so, who I got really close to..., I cry for this person, I cry for that person" ( it got very old and soggy very fast) and I almost quote here," I cry for you all, as you cry because I'm leaving." Oh my word...It was so ironic because she had driven everyone bonkers, practically...and now she was painting pictures of girls in the throes of inconsolable weeping...over her departure. Can we say "Delusions of Grandeur"? I couldn't make eye contact with anyone in the room - it would have been too painfully embarrassing...and who knows- I might have started laughing! Talk about melodrama! This girl was the QUEEN of melodrama. After her emotional and teary reading, ( which fortunately, included a couple of other girls in tears - which I was a little relieved at, because I didn't want the grief to look TOO one-sided) she came around the table and hugged everyone. The best part of it, though, was Matt's imitation of it at lunch to the staff who had not been present. Oh my word. Sigh. I guess you had to be there though. I hope you don't all think I'm heartless and cruel...I'm not really making fun of her...I'm just ' celebrating her weirdness' as Brad would say. You just had to know her. Talk about high drama. But the sad thing is, despite the fact that she's gone, we have no lack of drama in the house, even still. Teenage girls boggle me, quite often. It seems that the vast majority of them that I have met have a desperate need to be drama queens. I think they need a good prescription dose of reality medicine.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Claire being Claire. I love her. Posted by Hello

Here we are today at a little beach on Narragansett Bay near North Kingstown, RI. It was a nice little walk out there. We were attempting to find a geocache with Nate's GPS unit, but alas, we failed. Posted by Hello

Birth of a Cuss Word

Sometimes using the behavior management system at work can produce hilarious results. Most of the time it's pretty stressful when you have to do "reminder" points - which are, in layman's terms, negative points- but once in a while you can find humor springing up in the most unexpected places. Take yesterday, for example. One of the girls swore right in front of me and so we had to do reminder points. As part of the 'teaching interaction' we have them do something to rectify the situation and thus they can earn half of the points back - it's called an earnback, strangely enough. In this situation, I said that her earnback had to be coming up with an alternate word/s to express her frustration- a pretty standard earnback for this type of situation. She settled upon the word "shish kebob" as her new cuss word, which was fairly hilarious in the first place. Somehow it seems a little unweildy and complicated to be a swear. So, I had her write it on her point sheet to document the earnback, thinking that the other staff who saw it would get a good laugh. One thing you have to know is that 90% of the girls at the Shelter are not star spellers. This girl was no exception. Her spelling of her new cuss word was rendered, " Sickabob." I thought that was so funny, I practically dissolved onto the floor with laughter.

Do you know that you can spell shish kebob several different ways? I DO know that sickabob is NOT how you spell it but I wasn't sure what the correct spelling was so I looked it up on You can spell it 'shish kebab' or...Brad just said, " Do you think people really need to know this?"

Friday, April 15, 2005

This is rated UPC for its high content of Un-PC material

I brought our Madlibs down with us to Rhode Island this weekend...We just did a round of them with Nate, Penny, Andrea and Melissa. Here's our favorite: " George Washington, the Father of our skillet, was a very rancid man. When George was a superfluous boy, he took a spiderweb and chopped down his father's favorite cherry sushi. "Egads!" said his father. "Who has repulsed my rivulet?" Then he saw George holding a sharp emblem of slavery in his hand. "Father, " said George. " I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my little aborigine." His father smiled and patted young George on his drawbridge. "You are a very honest pony," he said, " and someday you may become the first mullet of the United States."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Et tu, Lambykins?

My schedule change started today so I got up at the blessed hour of 6:00 a.m. instead of 5:41! What a difference 19 minutes makes! Unfortunately, I used that time to dream a very odd thing. I had a dream that I was in some sort of competition where I had to swim underwater under a withering hail of bullets. Hmmmm. Can we say "Stressed out?" The losers died I guess. WEird. I woke up before I actually took part...I wonder if my unusual dreams have anything to do with the fact that Brad and I do Madlibs together before we go to bed. That and the Bible. What a combo.

Today it seems that EVERYONE in the grocery store was in collusion to get in my way at least once while I cruised the aisles. Some people even dared to do it twice! It was like " Annoy Claire Day" in Hannafords. It's so funny because outwardly I say, " That's okay!" when people apologize for virtually throwing themselves in front of my cart, forcing me to pull up the reins and lean backward to avoid trampling them( yes, we are still talking about Hannafords, not the Circle K ranch) but inwardly, I am ramming them with said cart. Sigh. This isn't an ART GALLERY, FOLKS! You don't need to move at such a glacial speed! Maybe they're in some sort of slow time warp. (I guess the phenomenon of bodies seeming to hurl themselves in front of my cart might have something to do with the fact that I gallop through the store with the speed of a cheetah, flinging all my purchases into the cart and hastening on energetically as if I were on one of those crazy shopping sprees...Well, a tad of an exaggeration but still... ) Why this carnality? Why this short fuse? Patience seems to continually elude my grasp. Maybe I can chalk it up to being Monday. Come on, Friday! The weekend is but a few long days away.

I just read this blog over the phone to Brad and he said that it was a little gritchy but that I could keep it that way...with one condition. I have to find something positive to say to balance out all the edginess. Hmmmm. Okay! I'll mention a funny sight I saw yesterday that made me chuckle and run for the camera. The sheep in our backyard are messy creatures with poor hygeine. They don't seem to know or care that they have wisps of straw or mounds of burs caked all over their faces and bodies. But what I saw yesterday afternoon topped all. I saw one of the sheep with a stick jutting out of the wool on the back of his neck, as if he had been stabbed by one of the other barnyard animals. It looked completely absurd. It was almost like a "Kick Me" sign or something. The poor thing lay there calmly, gazing at me with a blank, bewildered air, as I scampered around taking its picture like a paparazzi gone insane.

I kind of smile to think that God compares us to I'm smiling now...Yes, it seems that a little of the gritchiness is wearing off...I guess I can publish this, now that I'm leaving you on a more cheerful note.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Squealing Chad

Yesterday as I was calling to check my voicemail I noticed the five buttons I press on the phone for my pin number produce the last five notes of the song "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". E-I-E-I-Ooooo, my friends. Now every time I check my voicemail I will end up with an annoying song in my head. Yes! I win!

This reminded me of the time in Bible School when I was in my room with the door closed minding my own business, and suddenly a series of unearthly wails and whines erupted from the hallway. I burst from my room to find Chad standing there making this absurd racket into the intercom. Not willing to simply chalk this up to inexplicable Chad-like eccentricity, I pressed him for an explanation. He informed me that a tone phone system simply dials the number that corresponds with the tone each button produces. So, if you can mimic the same tone with your voice, you can theoretically dial a number without pushing any buttons. Soon we were both taking turns shrieking into the phone with falsetto squeals, and sure enough, we were able to make some calls. It turned out to be strangely gratifying to make a loud noise at a phone and have it obey by calling someone. Of course, it was a little difficult to control. As I recall we had the most success calling the student phone booth, which has the convenient number of 11, so you only have to get the same note right twice.

Clever Chad.

"That is Garbage, Mister! GAOW-BEDGE!" - Homestar

When I found that today's schedule included me being in charge of "Recycling", I stifled an inward groan. The last trip I took to the "Antrim Transfer Station" ( a.k.a. "The Dump"...Why do they bother trying to glamorize the Dump by tacking a fake moniker onto it like "Transfer Station"? I am not fooled.) was a couple of months ago, and it was a miserable, slow, cold experience. But what a difference the spring makes! I needn't have feared today's venture. No freezing winds to battle with as we sorted the recyclables in the back yard...No two feet of snow to flounder about in...No frigid hands...Instead, it was sunny and warm; it was positively a JOY to scatter scores of plastic milk cartons on the grass and stomp on them and put them, and tin cans, in their respective bags...And the three girls I worked with were cooperative and good natured - thrilled, in fact, just to get out of the house for a while. It went quickly, and somehow, digging around in bins of yucky old recyclables was fun...because we were outside in the spring sunshine! It was a great ending to a very long week. I guess I will go back to work on Monday!

Thursday, April 07, 2005


In today's news: I played badminton for half an hour with three girls at my place of employment. It was a huge amount of fun! I got way into it and the girls were amused with my commentary and said I was "animated." Truly! That was their exact word! But the sad thing was, I am so out of shape that my right arm is now a little sore. Sore! From half an hour's worth of badminton. Outrageous. I am afraid I am as flabby as a noodle.( Although, I WAS using a tennis racket, not a true badminton racket...) ( The girls said some other funny stuff, stuff that made me perk up mentally and say to myself, " Gotta put THAT in the blog..." and then I forgot it. Rrgh.) But it was the highlight of my day to play with them; there's something about playing badminton that makes me truly myself and comfortable with people. I suppose if I have any job interviews in the future, they should be held during games of badminton.

Playing badminton brings up all sorts of good family memories...whether it be in Milford at Grandpa and Grandma's, in Essex, or at Chestnut Hill... I remember playing many games of it, sometimes with Liane, sometimes with Andrew. ( I have a picture taken on the day I graduated highschool...I was in my graduation dress, playing a game of badminton with Andrew.) I don't remember Karena playing so much...but what I do remember about her was the time she was laughing so hard that she cried, fell down and laid on the grass, overcome with mirth at Grandpa Sawtelle's antics with a badminton racket. ( I am remembering this correctly, aren't I?) I think we have a picture somewhere in the family collection...She looks like a slain deer, crumpled gracefully on the grass.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Never a dull moment

Guess what I got paid to do today? Play Uno! Yes, I had my turn sitting 1:1 in the office with Miss April Fool herself, and after we finished schoolwork, we had a few games of Ye Olde Uno. It was kinda fun but the whole time I was wondering if she might be plotting another escape that would take place when I was watching it wasn't really that relaxing...So I'm eyeing her, checking out the door, pondering possible escape routes, and trying to win at Uno...all at the same time. It's a wonder I actually won a couple times. And she cheated! Surprise!

I also got paid to do an art project with the girls. Every week, a wonderful lady, who we all call "Honey" because that's what she goes by with her grandchildren, comes to volunteer for about an hour ( although it usually turns out to be two hours) and does art with us. I participated along with the girls and did the project this morning; I made a "stained glass" creation out of black construction paper and colored tissue paper. I was quite happy with the results.

I also attended an hour and a half staff meeting, dealt with a girl who wouldn't get ready in the morning because she had lost her nose ring during the night and was tearing the room apart to look for it, and armwrestled a girl during P.E. ( I lost - how scary is that...) So if this kind of job sounds appealing to anybody, the Shelter is hiring...part-time positions, sub positions, transporters...Come one, come all! It's a boatload of fun!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Where's the fire?

It's been one of those days...where you feel sort of bludgeoned to a jelly by life. Well, that's a little harsh...but bludgeoned to a quasi-soft material doesn't have the same ring to it.

Last night, one of the original 'April Fools' attempted to run again...she tied her bedsheets together, tied them to a bedpost and escaped OUT THE WINDOW...Unbelievable! But she was back before too long. (Bizarre how it's just like out of Anne of Avonlea when she and whats-her-name were trying to rescue whats-her-face's brothers bicycle out of Mr. McTavish's tool shed...) ( What are the chances of me remembering MR. MCTAVISH'S NAME when I couldn't remember the girls?) So...this silly girl is now sitting in the office- under constant 1:1 supervision- and will be doing so until next week when she leaves.

Blah blah blah...It's time to GO OUTSIDE and WALK IN THE SUNSHINE!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

All my family...

I was sweeping my kitchen this evening and found a Chinese fortune cookie paper on my floor which I picked up...and it read, " All your family are well." It made me smile because I know it's true and because God has such a funny sense of humor...and a great sense of timing.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Jailbreak on April Fewl's

Yes, the craziness has continued. We had a jailbreak today at the Shelter. In order to go to school in the morning, the girls all line up at 9:00 and walk from the kitchen through the office to the classroom. This morning, as the line proceeded to the office, three girls - count 'em: THREE- bolted through the main door and booked it down the street. Major crisis. Books strewn on the driveway...somebody yelling...At the time of the incident, I was trying to lock a drawer in the kitchen that houses scissors, knives etc. because I was getting a pair of scissors for a student so she could finish making a goodbye card for Sue, my coworker, whose last day was today and the lock wasn't locking and I can't leave the sharps drawer unlocked.... How's THAT for a run-on? (No pun intended.) Well, it created all kinds of chaos, the police were called, residents were crying, staff were buzzing around...and the silly girls were caught by police within about fifteen minutes of running. They ended up in some person's BARN down the road! Pretty wild. As I sat with one of the girls later, she said, " How did the police get there so fast?" Matt suggested to her that futuristic technology had arrived, as portrayed in "Minority Report", and that the police had teleported themselves to their hiding place...This girl's pants and socks were all muddy b/c the slippers she had been wearing had fallen off somewhere. ( Sometimes we take certain girls' shoes away and give them slippers if we think they have a risk of running. Huh...I guess slippers are an okay deterrent in blizzard season but not in mud season. In fact, her slippers may have been the ones that I retrieved from the neighbor's lawn later...or no, I think that was one of her accomplices'...I guess said girls' slippers are still at large.) So I got her some new clothes and put her dirty stuff in the laundry. Kind of weird and surreal...a new part of my job description: Paw through delinquents clothes to find matching socks that won't offend said delinquent when you're doing the laundry she grundged up while on the lam. ( She wondered why I picked out the socks that I brought for her...Well, seeing as how I could only find one white sock, I had to opt for the heathered black pair that didn't really match the rest of her outfit.) Fortunately, after initial nastiness and tears, the girl calmed down and actually apologized and seemed contrite and back on the path of righteousness...She is really a sweetheart underneath all the tough exterior... and her problems, and sad family background, which she referred to in the process of talking about the whole incident, made me want to weep for her.

But the spring feverishness has yet to be totally worked out; when I left around 3:30 this afternoon, there was still one 'runner' who wasn't cooperating with the program...

Did I tell you about how there was a knife found in the classroom last week while I was on vacation? I guess not...I think I just referred to the whole time as "Super Bad"-- maybe so that my mother wouldn't read this and get scared. I guess there was this girl who brought and stowed a knife in the classroom. And Matt was telling me this when I came back to work on Wednesday and he said that the night before the knife was found, he'd had this dream that he got stabbed...and as he was telling me this, I remembered MY dream from the night before and told him, " Yeah- well, I had a dream that Jesus came back last night!" The idea was, maybe MY dream will actually come true today! Which would have been cool...but it didn't. It was weird, actually, because it was a dream within a dream. I dreamed that I heard music and started rising through glittery air, and knew that Jesus was coming, and then, it all just sort of stopped, and it was like I woke up within the dream and realized that it was just a dream.'s Friday...well, actually it's so late that now it's Saturday...How the weekend doth fly.