Monday, June 27, 2005

My Early Morning Encounter with Wildlife

Is it bad luck to have a black bear cross your path? Because that's what happened to me this morning! On my way to work, at about 7:15 a.m., a big, black bear came lolloping over the hill...oops, I digress into a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang quote...No, seriously- he did! About fifty yards in front of me. One minute there was an empty road...and the next, there was a real live BEAR! And he didn't just amble sleepily across the road- he charged from the underbrush, galumphed across the road and dove into the brush on the other side. If I had been in his way, I think he would have just ploughed into me. I was quite shocked and drove for about fifteen seconds saying nothing but, " Oh my word, oh my word, oh my word..." I have lived in N.H. for almost thirteen years, and this is the first time I have ever laid eyes on a black bear. Or any bear, for that matter, that wasn't in a zoo.

We have started doing half days of summer school and we are starting a unit on Mark Twain. When Linda asked the girls if they knew who he was, one of them replied, " Isn't he a country singer?" Close, but no cigar, my dear.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Quoth the Ninja-Wife, " Nevermore."

I actually have nothing to say in this post- a rare phenomenon 'tis true- but I told Brad, upon hearing the above sentence come out of his mouth the other day, that I wanted to have that as a title on a blog entry. So here it is, in all of its weirdness. I love that he comes out with such strange things.

Actually, I DO have something to say. (You knew that I couldn't stay mute.) And strangely enough, I can relate it to the title. Except for the ninja part.

I was just talking to Brad and remembered something I wanted to blog about...We have this big white storage cabinet in our bedroom, which houses our linens, towels, games, books, and the myriad of my old diaries. The top of it is covered with various framed pictures, a big pile of my clothes, and...a growing blob of Brad's detritus. This collection of flotsam and jetsam used to accumulate on his dresser, but for some unknown reason, he has decided to keep the dresser clean and transfer this stuff to the cabinet. It's mostly a sprawl of coins, mixed with receipts, empty cough-drop wrappers, some tapes, a little battery...; basically, it's the regurgitation of his pockets. It started so subtly- a few pennies and dimes...and the next thing you know, it's taken over half the surface of the cabinet. ( Okay, not really half...but an alarmingly large amount.) There is a sister colony of the same kind of stuff on the little bookcase inside our front door. I think it's a uniquely male characteristic to leave little piles of loose change around. I remember Daddy had a little dish on his dresser where he used to keep such a stash- mostly coins but I'm sure there was the odd paperclip, rubber-band etc. I think it's time to get a piggy bank or a change jar. I think it's time for me to say, "Nevermore" to this virus of clutter.

It's not a character flaw or anything. Honestly, don't mistake this as a complaint. It's not a source of conflict - not something I've nagged him about. After all, I cannot claim to be a neat freak myself- I have my own issues with clutter and I have accepted that our house will never be Better Homes and Gardens material. Why should I hold him to a higher standard than I have for myself? It's something that suddenly dawned on me the other day- this change pile. Where did it spring from? I was talking to Brad about how I had just noticed it and he said he was wondering when I was going to take the tip he had left for me.

I just returned from counting out ALL the loose change from no less than three surfaces in our apartment and it totalled: $29.53 plus 26 Canadian cents. Wow. Nice tip, huh?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Paid to get Whipped Into Shape

Well, the short version of the day is as follows: We went up the mountain, we came down the mountain, and we went to Kimballs for icecream. YAY!

The more detailed version is as follows: This morning, I had a bit of a sorethroat which was lingering from yesterday. I swallowed some cold medicine, hoping to alleviate the worst symptoms. When I got to work, I felt a bit woozy and out of it...and I suddenly wondered whether I had imbibed the NIGHT-TIME stuff or the DAY-TIME stuff. Big difference, there. ( I know, I know...cold medicine doesn't make you better- it just makes you FEEL better.) I had visions of myself stumbling up the mountain in a drowsy stupor. Fortunately, the wooziness cleared up as the morning progressed so it must have been the daytime stuff.

We had three staff members- including myself- and six girls on this hike up Mt. Monadnock. I wanted to groan as we were hardly a quarter of a mile up the mountain and the girls started asking how much further it was to the top and saying they were tired. I tried to distract them by playing a game of " When I went to California, I brought a..." We made it all the way to V before it petered out. Eventually, we all reached the top - and it was a gloriously sunny, perfect day, graced by refreshing breezes, and hardly any bugs. We had lunch sitting on the summit...I am a growing a bit weary of mashed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. ( Third day in a row for me on the field trip picnic circuit.)

I have a brilliant brain wave. A masseuse would make a FORTUNE at the top of the mountain. Or perhaps even more at the bottom...It's really the going down part that I hate. It's ten times harder than going up. Lower body turning to jelly and all that. My legs are going to be killing tomorrow. All my flab is screaming at me. But I got paid to climb the mountain, hey? Are you jealous? Gerry, eat your heart out! (And did I mention I got paid to go to Kimballs afterward!? Free icecream? Woo hoo! Let's replace all the calories we just burned off!) Often this job can be draining, but there are some pretty nice moments as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

From Bedlam to Beauty and Back Again

Today started out as a typical morning...The girls woke up, came downstairs to eat breakfast, and went back up to get ready for the day. I was a little frazzled as I was trying to get things ready for the impending field trip of which I was going to be in charge. I was standing at the bottom of the stairs, and looking up, saw Matt in one of the bedrooms talking to a couple girls. He said, " It smells smoky in here!" And the next instant- the fire alarm went off...and, as Daddy would say, all Bethlehem broke loose. I turned and herded my downstairs charges out of the front door to the front lawn. Unfortunately, no less than two girls had been in the bathrooms and had to be rousted out, shrouded in blankets. One still had a large amount of very visible shampoo in her hair. Many were still in their pajamas. It was a bizarre and hilarious sight. You have to understand that the Shelter is right on the main drag through Antrim...and there was construction taking place on the road right in front of the house...So there were construction workers, machinery clogging the road, crawling traffic, a policeman to direct the traffic...and a horde of twelve, bedraggled looking girls, a bunch of staff, and a dog all standing around in front of the house swatting at mosquitos.

We regularly receive donations of day old doughnuts from Mrs. Murphy's Bakery and the nice doughnut delivery people chose this time to drive up and deliver their goods. Join the chaos!

I was sort of reminded of the scene in Pollyanna when the orphanage burns down. Except our house wasn't really on fire...and the residents weren't swarming all over the fire engines. So, I guess that analogy doesn't really fit after all.

The fire department arrived and toddled into the house. They toddled out again shortly thereafter. The conclusion was that a hair-straightener had been the cause of all the bedlam. Apparently, it had gotten too hot and when one of the girls was using it to straighten her hair, it got a bit smoky...This was what Matt was referring to seconds before the alarm went off. The poor girl was quite embarrassed. We all trooped back into the house and resumed the regularly scheduled chaos.

I left with four girls soon after that and we headed north to Saint Gauden's National Park. A WONDERFUL PLACE. This is my third time taking girls up there and it was the best weather yet. I HIGHLY recommend this beautiful place. It was a bit of a drive - an hour and a half- to get there, but it's so worth it.

Augustus Saint Gaudens was an accomplished sculptor who lived at the end of the nineteenth century- and a bit into the twentieth. He may be most well known for the Shaw Memorial of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment- the first all black regiment in the Civil War, immortalized in the film "Glory." The original is in Boston, but the one at this park was actually a later edition, with a few changes.

It's a gorgeous site- his home, the grounds, the studios...We had a picnic and then had a guided tour. I was a little nervous as to how the girls would respond. I hoped they wouldn't be bored. I was so relieved and thrilled to see how they soaked up all the beauty and appreciated it. The tour guide was a little drony, but they loved looking at all the sculptures, reliefs, freizes, coins, etc. Many of the pieces were outdoors and of course, the setting was stunningly beautiful... Mt. Ascutney in the background, green grass and trees, blue skies overhead, warm breezes...These few gorgeous days of summer are what make living in New Hampshire worthwhile.

Let's just leave it at that and not go into the wrong turns I took on the way home and how we wandered in the wilderness known as Weare ( pronounced "Where") for a few minutes before I figured out where we had gone wrong...Oh, but I guess I just spilled the beans.

Brad's Message Service

I just checked my voice mail and found a message left last night for somebody named Russ. Russ, wherever you are, I listened with raised eyebrow as your mother gave you a list of things she would like you to know.

Here is the best I could make out: It was almost 9:25 and she was soon going to bed. Frank hopes you are bringing down weed killer for the day lily bed. Do you have her standard size down pillow? She usually sets it out for you when you come down, and all she can find is her queen size. [She feels it is probably in your stuff, Russ.] Sharon has some notes for you on the snack bar counter in the corner. Make sure that you READ those notes when you get down there. [Have you made a habit of ignoring these notes, Russ?] Your mother is putting the silverware for Rhode Island, a bedspread, and some other things in an open bin with your name on it by the front wall to the right of the doorway. You still have dinner from that restaurant in the fridge. She is going to be unplugging the fridge, so she is putting your food somewhere. [I couldn't quite make out that part – just hunt for it] She did mention that the microwave won't be available, but she didn't say why. Apparently you can heat it up at Edna's.

My voice mail reached the time limit cut her off mid sentence, so I am sure I missed more. You may want to give her call. I am wondering by the tone of her voice if maybe she would prefer you to call more often. This is an essential aspect of the proper care and feeding of a mother. If you don't stay in touch they shrivel up with worry and neglect. Call her at least once a week, my friend. That is the least you can do. Don't forget to make sure she has your correct phone number. I am not your secretary.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

In which I use Brad's New Favorite Word: Verboten

I write to you within a skin of a new hue. I was outside a LOT today and have acquired a bit of a burn. You see, Donna and I took the girls with privileges out on a field trip today ALL OVER ROBIN HOOD'S BARN.

First we went to a local community garden; it's like a co-op thing. Different families pay a certain amount up front and then come and get the produce later in the season. It's all organic etc. Anyway, we met the farmer at his house and had to drive up the road to get to the field. He started his minivan, pulled in front of me, and then hopped out to tell me something...and his minivan kept moving with nobody in it. I quickly pointed this out to him and he seemed rather unconcerned, said something like this happened all the time, and calmly made his way back to the vehicle to stop it. Oh my word. He's so laid back it's almost scary. Anyway, the girls did okay, even though there was a manure pile, and hordes of dragon flies... We did variations of weeding. But not the "hands and knees" variety of weeding. We had implements of agriculture. Cool. Mine was called a "scratcher." Kind of like a hoe. I worked on a row of pepper plants, a couple of rows of potato plants. The girls were enchanted by the free range chickens and when the farmer gave them an egg, I thought they would fly over the moon. They hollered across the field to Donna, " He gave us an egg! Donna! Can we keep it? Can we let it hatch!? I'll sit on it! Can we get an incubator!?" They got tired of hoeing pretty fast. These are city girls we have here.

We moved on from there to Crotched Mountain...We drove up the mountain a ways...I thought we were going to hop out of the car, walk five minutes up a trail and eat our delightful picnic lunch. But it turned into a nightmare. The girls were cranky, tired, and hungry...and in no mood to walk uphill. After all, hadn't they just finished a stint of hard labor? ( Umm...probably half an hour of work on a farm and they're pooped.) The picnic tables I thought were going to appear never materialized. Complaints began to fly. Morale took a nosedive. And then, one girl discovered ticks on her pants. You would have thought velociraptors were charging her. I can still hear the screams. And guess who plucked them off - with a leaf of course? ( That would be me.) Well, shortly after that debacle, a consensus was reached to retreat to the vans...But eating being VERBOTEN in the vans, we ended up eating on the side of the road. Charming. ( Another girl was in tears because of bug bites. I really don't think that the miracle cream in the first aid bag really did anything...but I figured applying it would at least act as a placebo. It seemed to do the trick.)

Next stop, the lake. No lifeguard was on duty, so the rule was, they couldn't go in above their knees. So the couple girls who braved the dubious lake floor, ( to say nothing of the water) flailed about in the shallow water like frantic fish. The rest of them baked themselves in the sun while swatting flies.

So there was my day. My left arm - my driving arm- is especially red.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Bee's Knees

We have some half-witted bees living outside our apartment. (This is Brad, by the way.) Actually, I don't know if they are bees, wasps, or hornets (Isaac, would you like to explain the difference to the rest of the class?). A group of these winged menaces have decided to build their summer home in our doorway, inches above our heads. They could have built it anywhere, but instead chose the one place that will ensure its demise. A few feet to the left or right would have been fine with me. I am tempted to leave it alone because it is fascinating to watch, but every day it grows. I know my wife well enough to guess that she will voice concern if she happens to forget to duck and finds a swarm of homeless bees burrowing into her hair.

Here is a picture of their burgeoning hive. It is not long for this world.

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To my knowledge I have never been stung by a bee, unless it was when I was a baby (Mother?). I have had a few narrow scrapes, though. In second grade during class I was startled to discover a hapless bee caught between my watch band and my wrist. I tried to get the attention of my teacher Miss Godshall (yes, her real name), but my fearful whimpers went unheard. I carefully worked it free and it flew away. Maybe I missed my calling as a “bee whisperer” - soothing troubled bugs that no other can tame.

Then there was the time I was working for Sandford Surveying. Earl and I were in the woods one day and he was lurking in the underbrush elsewhere as I was clearing some branches. I swung my brush axe to lop off an obstructing limb from a dead tree, and a posse of angry bees began to pursue me. I fled. I felt something in my hair and thoughtlessly swung at it with my brush axe. A brush axe has a blade that is protected on one side by a stout bracket, and this bracket is what smacked me on top of the head. This is fortunate, because the other side would have scalped me. I had a sore head, but had not been stung. Even better, Earl didn't see this happen.

Note: observant readers will have noticed that I have not posted in some time. This is due mostly to Claire and her blogging prowess. What more can I say said than to you she hath said?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Claire the Cringing Conqueror

I usually pride myself on being so observant. One has to be, to get through our yard unscathed by animal offerings. ( Offerings made by animals, not of animals.) Imagine my horror and disbelief when I discovered that I had come home, straightened up the apartment ( which included washing some leftover/straggler dishes - not much silverware these days, I'm doing better on that count), made dinner, eaten dinner, cleaned up after dinner, and was sweeping the floor...ALL BEFORE NOTICING...the dead mouse on my kitchen floor. I almost dropped my broom as I sprang into the living room with a shriek of dismay ( followed by many a groan and murmur until Brad's Pest Removal Service came to the rescue).

We had problems with mice over the winter and Brad duly set out a small raft of mousetraps. We caught a few and it seemed our problems were over...but we have kept them around just in case...still loaded for bear. I mean, mice. Most of the traps have accumulated in one sorry part of the kitchen floor, and the peanut butter therein must have turned decidedly rancid by now. I was thinking of these traps recently, wondering what good they could possibly do- all three in a row, with highly undesirable foodstuffs...I considered removing them for good, because I was pretty sure our problems were over...and that they wouldn't really be effective with ancient peanut butter even if there was a problem. But there is the rest of the house to keep up with, including silverware to wash, not to mention working at the Shelter...and with one thing and another, I never got around to it. In other words, the thorns, which equal the duties and cares of life, crept in and choked my good intentions to deal with the mousetraps.

Plus, dealing with nasty old mousetraps is something that the longer you put it off, the more you really don't want to do it. It becomes this quiet conflict between you and the peanut buttery mousetraps. You purpose to ignore them, resolutely averting your gaze from that part of the kitchen...nurturing a vague hope that somehow, someday, they will just go away on their own. In short, it becomes a chore that you mean to ask your husband to do, but you keep forgetting.
( Brad wants me to insert some comment here to the effect that I have never dealt with mousetraps and probably never will and that I am unduly taking credit for mousetrap maintenance. No, I didn't mean to do that. I hope I never SHALL HAVE TO. Even springing an empty one would probably cause me to jump and scream...which is why I have never done so.)

But I guess the older and moldier the bait, the more desirable! It lured this one out of hiding, anyway. It was probably a responsible, female mouse who had had enough of my bad housekeeping and determined to clean up the old peanut buttery traps herself...even if it cost her life...which it did. HA! I WON THE BATTLE! I waited her out! Procrastination has its virtues.

Celine Strikes Again

We had a sub today, as Donna was out. The sub's name is Sheena. She answered the phone this morning and told Matt that the man who was meeting him this morning was lost. She was referring, of course, to Celine. Matt had to enlighten her too...We all had a fabulous chuckle over it...again. I was glad to know it wasn't just me who was deceived by her voice.

So- today is...The Last Day of School. HUZZAH! This does not mean, however, that I have the summer off. No, no. But it will be a different schedule, more fun activities...etc.

One of the girls was eating an orange the other day; she said that it tasted strange and wondered aloud whether it might be "outspired."

I had a dream last night that a bunch of friends had gathered in the Hansen's ( L & J) living room...which had sort of been transmogrified into a restaurant. Wesley and Jeff arrived on the scene, bringing with them two young women I had never met before. They told me that they had "picked them up at a Wendy's in Rhode Island." I was a little shocked. The young ladies started making fun of my eyebrows because they weren't tweezed.

And then, suddenly, we were in a church service and Dave Holscher was calling me up to sing a song. Just before I got up to sing I woke up...and felt this great rush of exultation! YES! I got out of singing! If only I could replicate that kind of joy every morning when I wake up.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Man Called Celine

I answered the phone at the shelter today and it was for Matt...who was I took a message. This man rattled off a bunch of stuff and I only caught his last name and so I asked for his first name again at the end of the call. He said, " Celine." I thought that was extremely odd. I was quite dumbfounded. CELINE? For a MAN?

I wrote Matt a note that started out like this, " Celine So-and-so, ( a man, actually), returned your call...blah blah blah..."

So Matt came in about half an hour later and saw my note and I commented to him about how strange it was for a man to have that name. And he started LAUGHING hysterically, and said,
" It's a WOMAN!" Apparently, this woman has a pretty bad smoker's voice. We both laughed for a long time. I felt exceedingly silly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why you shouldn't tell me anything you don't want Brad to hear

Recently, I obtained some information which I desired to keep secret from my husband...simply because I thought it would irk him to know this little thing. It was nothing, really. Nothing he needed to know about. In general, I try to shield Brad from all unnecessary annoyance; I provide quite enough annoyances and I don't need any third parties horning in on my monopoly of that department.

The problem was that he overheard something that clued him that something might be rotten in Denmark. So he immediately asked me what was up. I refused to tell him and thus ensued a great and hilarious battle as we sat at the dinner table. ( No- it was not a food fight.)

You have to understand that this bit of power, magnified by his curiosity, went straight to my head. Usually, with matters like this, it is the other way around. Brad will tell me that he got an email from someone and hints that some hugely important or exciting thing is involved but won't tell me what it is about...or he tries to dangle some rumor of news or half told tale in front of me to drive me crazy...and he succeeds. These situations usually follow a preordained procedure: I pretend that I don't want to know. Don't care about knowing. Couldn't be bothered. And then in about 14 seconds, I break under the pressure and demand that he, "Tell me NOW." And then he says, " I was just about to tell you, but you just forfeited your opportunity by demanding..." And then he'll tell me eventually what it's all about and it's really nothing at all. Well, now the shoe's on the other hoof, my dear!

But the problem is, I am no good at standing my ground. ( I fear that I am going to fail hideously as a mother.) ( No, I am not expecting.) It took him all of about ten minutes to bargain with me in order to extricate the offending information. But I figure I got a pretty good deal. In exchange for me divulging this information, he had to take me out to icecream AND I got the right to clean out his ears anytime I want for one whole year. And the crowning touch- he wasn't even annoyed at the information. So I got ALL that...and his annoyance tank wasn't even diminished a tad. Woo hoo! ( Brad wants me to explain my obsessive/compulsive need to clean his ears - but I don't want to explain. He wants to make it clear that he has perfectly clean ears.)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Matters to Question and Ponder

I was just thinking about the phrase, " cooling off." Why off? Where did that come from? Why not, " cooling on" or "cooling up"? I mean, when you think about it, it sounds as if the cooling is receding, and that you're actually getting hotter, which is the exact opposite of what it really means. ( I can understand 'cooling down' because of temperature being measured in asending/descending it's really just 'cooling off' I have the issue with, not 'cooling down.') It sounds weird, but it actually makes more sense to say, " I'm going to go jump in the lake to cool on." I challenge you all, my readers, to examine our sayings, our language, our vernacular...and take on the things that don't make sense. And dissect them. And change them.

And not just our sayings, friends. What about our WHOLE WORLD VIEW? Okay- not our values...but the way we look at a map. Our Geographic World View, to be precise. Who's to say that when we look at a map or globe, North America should be on the left and Europe on the right...? Why not the other way around? And why must the Northern Hemisphere be northern? Does God always look at the world with the North Pole on top? Why shouldn't Anarctica be at the top, and Greenland at the bottom? I am going to lobby someone or something to make globes that are free floating- perhaps rotating within another clear ball...with letters that somehow float around so that they stay on the continent but move so that no matter which way you look at the globe, you can read the names. I was going to say- ' no matter which way you look at the globe- upside or down..." but then I realized, that to use the words "upside" or "down" would be imposing my own pre-suppositions about what up or down should really be...Okay...Yes, I have really gone off the deep end...but have I made you think? Do you see what I am getting at? Is there something that I'm missing? Is there some Biblical, moral or logical principle that I'm flouting by thinking this way? Maybe it's so obvious that I missed it.

I'm sitting here waiting for my tomato plant to produce some fun. So far, it's doing nothing but growing like a weed.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Good old Clive Staples

Our landlords, Cliff and Sarah, are marvelous people. Sarah loves to bake and often we are recipients of her culinary talents. Last month, when they found out that it was my birthday, they left a present for me in our mail basket. I was stunned to find it was a copy of "The Weight of Glory" by C.S. Lewis. I'm pretty sure they're not believers, but I think they're ' not far from the kingdom' and they know where we stand. When I wrote them a thankyou note, I told them that it was a special book to me because my brother had once shared some special things from it...I didn't explain to them that he'd had a 9:00 hour meeting his third year of Bibleschool, and that it was an incredibly beautiful and inspiring experience to see him filled with the spirit, while sharing from this book. I was thrilled to have my own copy as I've meant, ever since Andrew's meeting, and then even more after he died, to read it.

I've been reading this wonderful little book of essays in the last week or so. Here is a quote that I felt I could really relate to...In fact, I felt like Lewis articulated some of my recent vague feelings and thoughts about heaven, so that I said to myself, " YES! That's what has been percolating in my mind recently."

" At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in."

The way I think about death is changing. It's not so much that heaven and earth are these two distant countries, but adjoining rooms in the same house. Of course, as Christians, we know that death is not the end of existence...but I have found myself fighting against that humanistic assumption. On some subconscious level, I think we have all bought into that idea - that death is the end. Because that's the end of what we see now. I've been realizing more lately that death is just a moving from one room to the next and that the person is simply living now on the other side of the door. This probably seems simplistic and trite to some...I don't know if I am explaining it correctly. And when I read back over it, it's like..."Of course." I guess I'm just learning this in a new way, on a different level, or something. And it's been a help. So when I read that line about standing on the wrong side of the door, it really jumped out at me. And then, " Some day...we shall get in."

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Aforementioned Purse

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I'm feeling much better, thankyou. All better, in fact.

I am a really slow learner. Every Friday, some subconscious part of me thinks that the weekend is here forever. And then I get all mad and disillusioned on Sunday evening. What? Life goes ON beyond the weekend? But for's Friday night. Blissful peace is all there is.

As soon as I got to work this morning, I knew something was off. Usually, Matt is sitting in the upstairs hallway after having given the first wake-up call to the girls. He wasn't there; I found him in the kitchen...and he told me a strange story. Apparently, last night, after all the girls had gone to bed, one of the girls was seen standing at the bathroom mirror for a long while. When approached by staff, the resident turned, and charged towards her, emitting a looooong, bloodcurdling scream. Needless to say, all the girls awoke and were terrified out of their wits. Most of them didn't get back to sleep until 3:00 a.m. It was determined that the resident was sleepwalking and had been startled when approached. She slept on the couch in the living-room for the rest of the night. Poor thing. The rest of the girls are pretty spooked by her. ( So anyway- we let the girls sleep in for another hour. That was fine by me.)

I didn't have any pockets today. And that is an inconvenience in my line of work. Staff are supposed to carry little walkie-talkie radios around so that we can communicate with each other when we're separated through the house or between the classroom and house. So pockets are handy if you don't want to lose your radio in the melee of the day. My co-worker, Donna, who is the most artsiest, craftiest woman I have ever met, CROCHETED me a little radio carrying purse OUT OF THE BLUE this morning. Must have taken her about 10 minutes. I was flabbergasted. It even went with my outfit. I'm going to try to get a picture of it and post it up here.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

My Nauseous, Bagpipey Day

Soon after I finished posting last night, I felt a strange illness creep onto me. I went very quickly from feeling a little off to feeling like I was possessed by a bunch of nauseous eels. I lay on the floor next to the bathroom, ready to launch myself therein should the need arise to throw up.
I went to bed early and awoke feeling better. But the loathesome nausea returned as I drove to work. I had to fish around and find a plastic grocery bag to keep by my side in case I should need an emergency receptacle. ( Otherwise known as a barf bag- for those of you who are named Liane. Sorry- I just HAD to say that.) I felt rather lurchy most of the morning and was constantly aware of the route to the nearest wastebasket or bathroom but I didn't want to give up and come home. Nothing like sick hours being taken out of your PTO to incentivize you to stay healthy...or at least PRETEND you're healthy. Plus, my colleague, Donna ( the other TA) was out today as her hours are different this week. So, I really couldn't leave. Fortunately, by some incredible stroke of luck, I had asked last week if I could use some comp time today...Little did I know then how grateful I would be that I had planned to leave early today.

As I watched some girls play badminton this morning during PE ( you know I'm really sick if I refuse to play badminton), I suddenly heard the sound of a bagpipe, loud and clear, wafting over the air. Apparently, there was a funeral going on at the church down the street. It was so unearthly and strange. One of the girls said, " That sounds like Egyptian music!" Um. Well...In a word: I don't think so. My Scottish blood took umbrage. The nerve! Mixing us up with Egyptians! But the rest of me was too blaghh-feeling to be deeply offended...In fact, I really felt amused. Right hemisphere, anyway. Actually, don't they have some sort of reedy, harsh-sounding instrument in the Middle East that could sort of be misconstrued as a bagpipe...? Perhaps she wasn't too far off.

I just finished reading a book I legally purloined on my last visit to the Antrim Recylcing Center. ( A.K.A. the Dump.) ( There is a great swap shop of free junk there, and I have been known to pick up a book or two.) Anyway, I last read "Tuck Everlasting" in third or fourth grade; it was introduced to me by my beloved teacher, Leslie Roland. It is a charming story, beautifully written, thought provoking, etc. and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it again.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Moments of Joy and Insanity, Memories of Stupidity and Humiliation

It's going to be another long post, folks. Gird up your loins. This is going to be an entry of Israel-reportlike proportions. ( Melissa coined that phrase. Can't take credit for it myself.)

I LOVE this hot weather. The humidity I could do without, but...oh well. I have no A/C in my car, which is perfectly fine because I like driving with the windows down. I am not one whose hair is perfectly coiffed at all times. In fact, it's safe to say that it's practically NEVER perfectly coiffed.

I experienced a rare moment of blissful exultation as I drove home this afternoon. The windows were down, it was glaringly sunny, I had a chilled beverage from Dunkin Donuts, and I was listening to "Mildred Madeline Johnson" sung by Fernando Ortega. Maybe it was the iced coffee - which I hardly ever drink so perhaps it had extra power over my system- but I yielded to a strong urge to sound my barbaric yawp, as Walt Whitman would put it. It was fun to just make noise - yell for no reason. And then, the song "Take Heart, my Friend" sobered and inspired me...and ministered immensely to my spirit. I want to learn to play it.

Another moment of joy today: seeing a stunning group of wild, purple irises by the side of the road as I took a walk.

I noticed an amusing sign leaving Hannafords yesterday. It said something like, " We hope you enjoyed your hassle-free savings." WELL! By definition, grocery shopping IS a hassle to most people.

So, today was the official ground breaking ceremony at the Shelter. It was a relatively big shin-dig. We had refreshments, a little tent on the front lawn, members of the press, hardhats and shovels, bigwigs from the Lutheran Social Services organization, a banner hung up on the front of the house that said, "Antrim Girls Shelter"... ( There is not a sign out front regularly. Although many of the townspeople know what we are, we don't really want to advertise the fact that we are housing delinquent teenage girls. Yep! A bunch of vulnerable, rebellious, bad girls who want to run away live here! Calling all ne'er-do-wells!) The press were instructed that they couldn't take pictures of the girls- to protect their privacy- but they asked for a picture of the staff and boardmembers standing behind the bigwigs who were wearing the hardhats and pretending to break ground... (The REAL groundbreaking took place about three weeks ago when the bulldozers started gnawing away at the yard!) It's one of those real boring pictures that end up on the fifth page of the newspaper and no one ever looks at...but still... I didn't know I was going to be in a picture today. I had on some pretty bland looking clothes and felt a tad silly standing next to the gussied-up program director.

( It reminded me of when I graduated from college and found myself in a photo-op standing next to the President of the college...Actually, it was the awards ceremony the night before graduation and I didn't think it was going to be a big deal so I dressed kind of casual...I can just hear Chad clucking at me in disbelief. Besides, I thought, my gown/robe and hood will cover whatever I'm it doesn't matter! Well, i didn't realize until I got there that we weren't supposed to wear the hoods to the awards ceremony, and when I took the hood off, the extremely ratty collar of the old faded jean shirt I was wearing stuck out in a most conspicuous way. I felt thoroughly humiliated standing next to Father Jonathan among a group of ultra-dressy students, trying to pretend that all was normal.)

ANYWAY- back to the groundbreaking. The sun was hot and as we stood there, smooshed together,waiting for all the picture-takers to finish, I felt like we were at a family reunion. ("ONE MORE! EVERYBODY SMILE!" ...all the people in the picture smiling fake smiles and saying through clenched teeth, "Hurryup!" ) So look for me soon in the background of a boring picture on the fifth page of a newspaper near you. I'm the one who looks young. The photographer referred to me as "the girl" as she arranged us all. ( "Could the girl step up here?") ( The girl? I guess I was the youngest one of the group..but...)( This reminds me of when we were flying back from California last time and we sat in the emergency exit row. When the flight attendant came by to ask if we were willing and able to perform all the necessary duties in case of an emergency, she looked at me and said, " Are you over 18?" Oh my word.) step back in time a bit for another amusing tableau....After lunchtime, about an hour before the ceremony, the kitchen was a scene of mass chaos. Several girls were doing chores in a postage stamp sized area, the phone was ringing off the hook, the doorbell rang, construction noise from right outside the window was battering us all, it was WICKED hot, I was forming chocolate chip cookies for the refreshment table, girls were ogling young, brawny construction workers outside ( this is going to be a FUN summer)...and then, in the midst of it all, there was Marci. She is our cook. She is the one who, you may remember from a previous post, imitated the dying piglets. Well, Matt's wife Jody, and 1.5 year old son Silas, came in for the celebration...and Marci adores we all do... But she has a unique way of showing it. She takes great delight in making him laugh and today's entertainment for Silas consisted of Marci's monkey imitation. This involved screeching, hooting, and jumping- arms akimbo- exactly like a crazed monkey. Really loud. Really long. I felt for a few moments as if I was in the midst of a loony bin. I LOVE Marci.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

How the Planets Controlled my Dental Hygiene

So I told the girls at work about my silly tomato plant packaging and how it promised bushels of fun. They were as amused as I was. One of the girls said, " What's it going to do... get up and dance for you?"

Yesterday, I went to the dentist. Groan. I don't generally enjoy having my teeth cleaned. The sound and feel of sharp instruments scraping on my teeth is just not my favorite way to spend forty five minutes. Plus, my dental hygenist is extremely talkative and, while not totally obnoxious, we're not exactly kindred spirits.

For example, last fall I had an appointment with her. It was a couple days after the election and one of her conversation starters was, " So, you were probably as bummed out by the election results as we were..." and I was like, " Um...No...Actually, I wasn't." Um, hello? Okay: awkward silence. Anyway...She really means well, but...

This time, she asked me at the end of the cleaning which flavor of mouthwash I wanted to rinse with..."Citrus or mint?" I said, " Citrus." At least I thought I did. I'm pretty sure I did. I always choose Citrusy things over Minty things. Perhaps she was just so into talking about why I should have my "chart" done ( even though I told her I wasn't into astrology) that she wasn't listening. She gave me Mint mouthwash. ( This was approximately five seconds after I told her I wanted "Citrus.") What's the deal? They don't even sound alike. I said nothing. ( Just pay your bill and leave, Claire.) I guess she probably figured that the stars were aligned in the Minty House and that even if I thought I wanted Citrus flavor, the planets knew better.

I'm not even going to get into the whole Mountain Dew/Coke/delinquent girl story that she launched into when she heard that I worked at the Shelter. Let's just say, it's never boring with this lady.

The thing about going to the dentist is that it's all a big old SCAM. Once you're in their clutches, you are inextricably entwined in an evil system. You go for a cleaning, and-SURPRISE!- they just happen to "find" another cavity! You go six months later to fill the cavity, and lo, they find another! It's a fearful, endless cycle. ( And I floss and brush and rinse like a maniac. It doesn't make sense! It's too ironic: Brad isn't half as uptight as I am about the whole dental care thing and he NEVER gets cavities. ARGH.) Going to the dentist is like going to the mechanic - I'm afraid that instead of just changing the oil, they will discover that the car requires repairs that will cost the equivalent of the national debt of Namibia.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

More Foody Issues

To clarify a bit from the last post, I want to state for the record that I am not a food snob. I will gladly eat most generic foodstuffs. I don't have to have the name-brand chips, salsa, bread, orange juice, what-have-you...In fact, my stingy, Yankee self often forbids name brand purchases.

But some things do give me cause for pause in the food department. For instance, the other day at the Shelter, I sat at the lunch table and looked at this jug of unnaturally colored fluid. The label read something like Pink Lemonade Drink. Doesn't that sort of sound redundant to you? If it's lemonade, of course it's a drink. I mean- come on! I can SEE it's a drink! If the label has to tell me it's a drink, there is something nefarious going on somewhere. Like it's really NOT lemonade. It's just a pink drink that is reminiscent of lemonade. It's sort of like when you see the label on certain sliced cheeses that says, " Cheese Food." Or " Cheese Product." Those added words, food and product, bring on a distinct feeling of uneasiness. Things are not what they seem...It's not really cheese; it's a food product. In other words, FAKE FOOD! I remember my mother pointing this out to me years of many jewels of consumer wisdom she has passed on to me over the years. It probably seemed as if I wasn't listening at the time, Mama, and no doubt I scoffed at your concern over the defrauding of America's tastebuds, but this, along with other helpful hints, has come back to haunt me as an adult.

Another label that has caused me great amusement recently is the one on the packaging of the tomato plant I bought. Yes, I have become a gardener. I have a single tomato plant. Long may it live. It sits in a big tub on the sun porch, as I thought putting it outside would expose it to many dangers, toils and snares- including the geese and chickens. I hope it has a happier fate than the last plants that lived there. ( All my plants died over the winter.) Anyway- the cardboard backing boasts great things for this tomato plant. Here is the first of its many claims: " Yields Bushels of Fun!" WOW! A magic tomato plant! It not only produces tomatoes- it produces FUN! I can't wait! It also says, " Extremely Edible!" Well, I should HOPE its' fruit is edible. ( After all, I had kind of assumed that would be the case.) But I don't see how adding the word 'extremely' to the word 'edible' should make me any more likely to purchase this plant. I guess simply having the word ' edible' standing all by itself would sound kind of lame. Hmm. The packaging also claims that this plant is "Disease and Crack Resistant." I could say a lot about this special feature but I guess I'll just say that I'm relieved that this plant has a seemingly superior immune system.

Right now, I bet you're all trembling with envy that I have found this Uber-Tomato Plant. For a small fee, I'll reveal to you where I bought it.

Friday, June 03, 2005

In which I rail against inferior comestibles

You know it's been a busy day when you arrive home in the late afternoon and find yourself still carrying your half eaten breakfast. No- not a bowl of mushy cereal... but a one third eaten banana. Said fruit followed me around through the day, growing more and more unappetizing as the hot hours passed. I don't know why I still have it. It's quite disgusting by now I suppose. Perhaps it will find its way into a smoothie of some sort soon. I hate wasting bananas. Evidence of this can be seen in our freezer which is half full of bananas that were too browned to eat, but still good for banana bread...someday.

While we're on the topic of food, I recently discovered that I have superior tastebuds. One of the perks of my current job is the free food. ( A little TOO much free food I think sometimes...but let's count the old blessings, shall we?) Often, I bring a banana with me in the morning and combine it with a bowl of cereal once I get to work. Usually I have Cheerios. One morning this week I poured myself a bowl and received a small shock as the first spoonful passed my lips. I said to the other staff and residents present, " Are these Cheerios stale...or are they healthy?" Funny how the two options seem to go hand in hand. One of the residents said in a sympathetically condemning tone, " They're OATIE-O's." Aaaaah.

I recently saw something on the news about how there was this taste-test done with various brands of food and beverages and how people who thought they had discriminating tastes actually preferred the generic or store brands to the big-name, higher priced brands when they were all unlabeled and mixed up together. Hmmm. I guess they didn't test Cheerios and Oatie-o's against each other...because I don't really think I have superior tastebuds. I think the difference would smite even the greatest dullard's palate. Inferior comestibles, indeed.