Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I write to you from hazy, muggy Florida. I am staying at a major university this week attending a conference: Literacy in Augmentative and Alternative Communication. How's THAT for a mouthful?! I'm here with my student's mother. So far it's been a wonderful learning experience; I feel like I've learned more in two and a half days than I did in some of my college courses on education. The schedule is very intense but it's been very worthwhile in giving me more understanding of how to better approach my student and ideas of new things to try. To give you some kind of reference point- for those of you who know what a "Feast" ( convention) is- this makes the Feast look like a cakewalk, schedule/long hours-wise.

The biggest problem I have encountered has been the lack of available internet access; apparently, you have to be a student with a password and suchlike in order to get onto the wireless networks...Wah. I went to the library and got a temporary card but that only enables me to access the internet through the library's computers ( where I am writing this). ( I have yet to get a good wireless network connection in the dorm. Yes- I'm staying in a dorm! Weird.) It felt SO good to check my email after being deprived for about twenty four hours. I was almost jittery. Pathetic. I am way too dependent on the internet...but I have come to the philosophical conclusion that internet access is a human right.

Well- really the biggest problem is that the day is so long and FULL that I get wicked tired. (But a lot of food is provided throughout the day - niiiiice. Free foooood. Well- sort of free. Free to me.) I'm so used to only working twenty hours a week- and this conference is WAY more than twenty hours. And then I have strange dreams at night. I dreamed last night that when I got home, Brad had bought something like TEN cats - well, one cat, and nine kittens ... and the cat was the ugliest thing I'd ever seen. But generally, Mama, I am sleeping fairly well. Fear not on that count. And yes, I did buy some Lysol. Rest easy.

Anyway- we will be driving back on Fridee; I am very much looking forward to being home again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Well, today is Grandpa's 84th birthday and it's too bad he doesn't have a blog that I can direct you all to visit and leave a comment. Oh well.

I asked him if he wanted anything special for his birthday dinner, and the only thing he cared about was that at some point during the day, he have waffles. I decided to make them for breakfast. Now, I have not even attempted to make waffles since The Great Waffle Debacle back about six months ago when Stan got into the batter and my waffle iron died. So I went out yesterday and, along with my weekly purchase of groceries, bought a new waffle iron. Of course I didn't read the instructions or turn it on until this morning. And seeing as how I was not the first person to use our original waffle maker ( Brad and Andrew made the first batch of waffles on it), I did not think that anything special had to be done. A tiny, niggling voice in my head wondered about trying it out just to see if it worked so that I wouldn't be in a pickle if it turned out to be a dud in the moment of need. But that tiny, inner voice was so faint that I ignored it.

However, when I plugged in my new appliance this morning and a strange smell came forth from its innards, the small voice roused itself into a loud, "I told you so!"

I pulled out the instruction manual and sure enough, they mentioned the fact that the waffle iron should be cleaned and plugged in prior to its first use and that there would be a strange smell and some smoke perhaps...but just to let it do its thing for ten minutes or so, until the smell dissipated, and then turn it off and let it cool down before heating it back up again for its first use. ARGH! Ten minutes? Whatever! It was more like half an hour! ! ( *sniff-sniff* Nope, still smells weird.) ( It doesn't help that I happen to have one of the more sensitive schnozzes on the planet.) And to compound matters, I was crunched for time, seeing as how Wednesdays are my morning appointment days with my student. "The CURSE OF THE WAFFLES CONTINUES!" I thought to myself. But all's well that ends well- Grandpa was more than satisfied with the final product, even though he had to wait a little while and they came out strangely a little flatter than I'm used to. I did actually make it to work on time, thanks to the help of my husband, who joined us and took over the latter part of the breakfast carnival so I could go make myself presentable to the world before I left.

Let this be a proverb and a warning to all who, like me, think the instruction manual is for nerds: ALWAYS READ THE STUPID BOOKLET FIRST.

Hurray! Back on the waffle circuit!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

BLINK, people!

I have a new pet peeve: people who don't use their blinkers.

On Wednesdays I drive about an hour north of where I live to take my student to a speech therapy appointment. I skim over the interstate, through the middle of Atlanta; there isn't a lot of backroad driving. I am a-MAZED at how many negligent, non-signalling people there are on the road. I should have kept track of how many - there were QUITE a lot today. And this is not Grandma out for a tourist jaunt; these are seemingly NORMAL people. Normal except for one thing - they change lanes like they're in a videogame. Zoop! Swish! Whoosh. It drives me CRAZY. It's dangerous AND inconsiderate. I expostulate in an outraged tone at these slackers ( really - how hard is it to nudge your blinker?! It takes a fraction of a second and burns probably an infinitesimal fraction of a calorie), which never ceases to amuse my passenger. He chuckles benignly. Ha ha - glad my road rage is so entertaining. At least, I try to camouflage it by employing my Muppet/Lambchops voice so that it really is somewhat humorous ... otherwise, I'd be feeling guilty that my ungraceful impatience would be negatively influencing my protege. This way, I'm just crazy Claire, indulging in a comic railing session at the bad drivers of the world.

In my rage fueled daydreams, I appoint myself as some sort of guardian of highway safety and justice, fasten an automatic harpoon thrower on the roof of my car, and fire off harpoons, complete with an attached ticket ( which would entail a massive fine) at offending vehicles.

I mean, it's one thing to neglect to use your blinker when you're turning into your driveway late at night when no one is behind you. Snore. It's very much another thing to not use it when you're barreling down a tight corridor of interstate at 75 mph, hemmed in by sky scrapers and teeming mobs of traffic, with spaces about the size of my foot between vehicles. Grrrr.

AND at a four way intersection. Hello?! Am I supposed to READ YOUR MIND?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You shall not pass!

It became apparent through some comments left on a recent post that knowledge of Brad's new job is not widely dispersed. He started a new job about the same time I started mine - in April- and works in law enforcement now. He is working for a Sheriff's department. More specific than that, I can not be; if you are curious, feel free to ask him personally or via email.

Brad's car has been having issues as of yesterday so he decided to take my car to work. We figured out a plan whereby he would drop me off at my work and then Nate was going to come pick me up on the other end of the afternoon. Well, we went out to the garage to get in my car, and discovered that the garage door opener wasn't working. And for some reason, opening the door manually wasn't working either. Brad tugged and fiddled and pulled...and I thought, "We're going to have to call in to our respective places of work and say that we are unable to come in because we're being HELD PRISONER in our own HOME by a faulty garage door!" Finally, he got it to where he could open it manually and he held it open while I backed the car out. Well, it was a good thing he was there when there was a problem because there's NO WAY that I would have been able to heave that door up by myself. I really would have had to call in to work b/c of my indisposed garage door. I would have sounded so lame. I wonder if that has ever happened to anyone else... It still doesn't work right and we aren't using it until it can be fixed.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


I was listening to a news quiz show on the radio recently, where the host asks a panel of folks questions about the week's news but in a variety of entertaining and amusing formats. One of the games they play is called the "Bluff the Listener Challenge" and they have someone call in to the show and the panel reads him/her three stories from the week's news...But here's the catch: only one of them is true. And the listener has to figure out which one is the real story.

Usually they are very obscure, bizarre, funny stories and sometimes it's very difficult to decide which one is true because they are ALL so outrageous.

This week's true story hit my funny bone. I was hoping that it would be the true story, and lo, it was. Here it is, in paraphrased form.

In Bremen, Germany, a woman called police saying that she had just witnessed a child abduction. She saw someone putting a child into the trunk of a car and quickly driving away. Her prompt action launched a massive police hunt, and the car was located. But the driver explained the situation this way: He was hearing strange noises in the back of his car, so he went to his local mechanic to help him figure out the problem. The mechanic, a dwarf, volunteered to get in the trunk and listen for the noise, while the man drove around town. Sure enough- the person in the trunk was not a child, but an auto mechanic who happened to be a dwarf.

For some reason, that story just reduces me to a heap of laughter, just thinking about it.