Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer at last

Finally, it feels like summer.  I don’t mean in terms of the weather, but more like the things I’ve been doing.  The weather has been pretty spectacular, mostly…other than a horrid flooding storm two nights ago.  We were not flooded, but many people were, and still are.

Someone and I played golf at my favorite golf course last week (Shawnee Golf Course in Shawnee State Park).  My game is not so wonderful lately…despite new grips (which really helped), something is not right.  I need to spend some time at the driving range to figure out the issue and correct it.  Even so, I had enough good shots to keep me in the game.

Favorite green - #5 at Shawnee

Also recently, I took my kayak out for the first time in 2017.  It was just a quick adventure Friday evening – I went to Greenbo Lake which is a nice place to go when time is short.  From my driveway to the marina is a 22-minute drive (well, assuming I don’t get stuck driving behind a tractor or other slow-moving vehicle.  There are few places to pass anything moving slow).  Me and my kayak are going on a proper adventure tomorrow.  The weather is supposed to be beyond perfect for June – sunny and low-70s.  Since it will be Monday morning, I’m hoping there will be very few people on the water.  I love to be out on the water when there are no people making noise.  Sometimes the fish swim up to investigate my kayak.  I like to stop paddling, slouch down, and put my feet out over the top, and just drift – let the current take me whichever way it goes (sometimes, there is no current).  When there are no people, sometimes I see beavers and deer on the shore.  It’s a wondrous thing, as if God created the world just for me.  My world, all mine, all to myself.

drifting on Greenbo

My raised bed has been giving us plenty of lettuce and radishes.  The lettuce – two kinds – has been WONDERFUL.  I’ll post a photo so you can be envious.  The pale green is called Green Ice.  The lettuce in the front left area is Simpson.  It tastes good, but it hasn’t been as prolific.  The carrots were pretty much a complete no-show.  I bought more seeds and planted them, but they don’t seem to be wanting to grow either.  As for the radishes, the first days that I used them, they were fabulous.  Now they are too big and tough.  They are very hot, and hard to even slice.  I should just pull the rest up and put them in our compost pile.  The beans are growing like crazy, but sadly, I think they will be ready to pick when I’m at the beach with someone on his vacation.  Maybe one of the girls will pick and eat them…but I doubt it.  The next time I plant radishes, I will only plant 25% as many.  I intend to plant more when I return from Myrtle Beach.

Carrots??  MIA


Right from the garden
Someone and I grilled out tonight for dinner.  That’s another summer thing we do, and something we did for the first time this summer.  We grilled pork chops.  I cut and cooked a small head of cabbage from our garden, and made salad with our lettuce.  The cabbage was wonderful – fresh cabbage is nothing like what you buy in the store that’s shipped in from Florida, or Texas, (or any other place its shipped from).  While we were eating on our screened porch, I kept smelling something that reminded me of honeysuckle, even though honeysuckle is not blooming right now.  Finally, I realized it was my corn plant.  My plant seems to be dying, but it put out two blooms after I repotted it last month.   It smells wonderful (but it is not a healthy plant).

Top of the corn plant - it's 12-feet tall now, and blooming!

Now for the big news…someone and I are grandparents.  Someone’s daughter, Katie, gave birth to a girl last Thursday (6/22).  Baby Alice is adorable.  Someone and I drove over to see Katie and meet the baby on Friday.  We don’t see Katie often, but I think with the baby, we will try to go more often.  It’s three hours, which is not too much, but everyone has busy lives.  My hope for the future is that Alice at least have some sense of who we are, and will look forward to seeing us.  I don’t want for us to be strangers.

Alice - born 6/22

Happy mama (Katie) with baby Alice

Speaking of strangers, it’s time for me to plan a trip to Indiana to visit my dad. That is a long haul – 6.5 hours or so to visit him.  It will likely not happen until we get back from Myrtle Beach.  He (and my mother) will be 80 this summer.  Which reminds me…I need to get a birthday card for my mother in the mail.  Her birthday is coming soon.  Knowing how my parents are (have always been) with my kids, it reminds me that I want to see Alice at least once every few months.  If not, we will always be irrelevant.

Today was gorgeous – sunny and cool.  Someone and I took Gracie to Greenbo Lake for a walk.  It was pretty muddy out there after all the rain Friday night that caused the flooding, so we stayed off the trails.  We walked past one of my favorite places, an old iron furnace that was built in 1850 and operated until 1900.  What I like about it, is that it is in a grove of mature walnut trees.  Absolutely wonderful to walk under.  

Buffalo Furnace - in a beautiful grove of walnut trees
      
Walnut trees on a beautiful day

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Girls' vacay - 2017

I am back (as of late yesterday afternoon) from a vacation with my girls.  It was wonderful to have six days with them – just me and them…my girls, all to myself.  I’m a bit greedy like that…or maybe that is me being selfish.  I don’t care – it is whatever it is.

Early Friday morning, we loaded up and headed for Weston, West Virginia for our first stop – the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  The building has a very long and interesting history.  The building and grounds are huge – it’s hard to imagine the need for so many beds and rooms to store “crazy” people.  Of course, not everyone who was put there was mentally-ill.  Long ago, husbands could commit their wives for a variety of ridiculous reasons.  There is a separate building on the grounds behind the big stone building that was used only for criminally insane.  Also, we learned that during the times when lobotomies were common, according to hospital records, a famous surgeon (I forget his name) came three times per week and did an average of 100 lobotomies on each visit…for several years.  What amazed me most of all was that the place was open and a functioning hospital until 1989 when it was finally replaced with a more modern hospital in Weston.  We toured parts of four floors and some of the building for the criminals.

Directly in front - with some construction happening.
  
Center and left side - right side looks the same except it has mature trees in front.

After our tour in the sleepy little town of Weston, we drove another 4.5 hours to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  We crossed through some beautiful mountains and scenic views.  I had never visited those parts of the country (northern West Virginia, central Pennsylvania, and southern Maryland) – very pretty.

The next day, we drove a short distance to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to visit Chocolate World.  This is something both Erin and Emily had been begging to do for quite some time.  We learned how chocolate is made, and did a taste testing thing that was interesting.  There’s actually quite a bit of science (and art) that goes into chocolate making, because cocoa beans pick up flavors from the plants that grow around them.  We were given small bars of chocolate and a wheel of flavors to consider.  People in the audience voted for flavors they tasted in the chocolate – flavors like tobacco, cheese, cherry, banana, leather, wood, cinnamon, pepper, and many others.  Other than chocolate tasting, the most exciting part of the day was standing in line with a couple who were high out of their minds on something.  Sadly, they had two young boys with them.  The family was removed by park security.

At Chocolate World
Emily fulfills a fantasy.  

The next morning, Sunday, we took a train (Amtrak) from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.  It’s a short train ride – less than two hours.  The trip was great – going and returning.  I’m a fan of Amtrak.  

Philadelphia was not a great place to visit (my impression, and opinion).  For one, the streets are narrow, the sidewalks are narrow, and there are just too many people.  Traffic moves fast, there are lots of cars honking, and the cars drive close to sidewalks (because space is so tight).  Everything is expensive in Philadelphia.  Sanitation is not good – lots of smelly garbage and trash on the streets. Worst of all, it was beastly hot (mid 90s), and with all the asphalt and concrete and people – it was pretty miserable.

But...we had some fun.  I arranged an after-hours private tour of the Mütter Museum for us, which was a long-time fantasy of all my girls (and really, the only reason we were in Philadelphia).  They loved it – it was the highlight of our vacation.  Also, there was a Chinese Lantern Festival set up in a park not far from our hotel.  That was a wonderful surprise.  We visited that and had a nice time.  Our hotel was located on the riverfront of the Delaware River.  On our last night, we walked out on a pier across the street to get a better look at the river.  We made our way to the end of the pier where we saw some people sitting around, but we didn’t really think much about it…until fireworks began.  It was a nice show that we got to see, completely by unplanned accident.  After that, we walked on down the river to Dave & Busters – a restaurant that has a huge adult game room.  Loads of fun!  We played a Walking Dead game where we killed zombies with cross bows.  We also played 4-person air hockey, and some other games.  

We saw the Liberty Bell (of course!!!).  
We walked past Constitution Hall.  
We enjoyed the Chinese Lantern Festival.

The coy blowing bubbles was one of my favorites.
Lots of color!!
A glimpse of City Hall - my favorite building (from an architectural perspective).
Walking out on the Race Street Pier.  

On our last day together, we caught a very early train back to Harrisburg.  Gratefully, the long drive home from Harrisburg was uneventful.  We got to our house around 5:30 PM.  Sarah had to get all the way home last night, so we unloaded the car, and she left us for another 90-minute drive (thereabouts) to get to her house.  Erin will go back to Louisville tomorrow morning, and Emily is home for the summer.

Someone left early yesterday afternoon for a conference near Weston (where we had visited on the first day).  Since Someone is mostly undomesticated and he was home alone for five days, the house was pretty much a complete wreck.  It was disheartening to come home, tired from the long drive, and see hours of work to do.  Emily and I walked in first and just stood there in the kitchen surveying the utter devastation for a few moments.  She said, “So Mom, what’s it like to be living with a raccoon?”  I couldn’t help but laugh.

I love my girls.  What a lucky person I am to have had the opportunity to vacation with them!  In less than a month, I will do the beach vacation with Someone and his entire family.  Someone has already started packing.  I am not excited or eager to go, but it will be OK.  Someone’s folks will not be able to do this vacation too many more years, and it means a lot to them to have their kids there.      

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

brewing

Things have been a bit hectic lately.  Classes going on – fortunately, all are online just now.  Emily is home for the summer (still working her part-time hellish retail job, but she is done with school until August).  She has inspired me to begin going back to the gym.  I love going…I have no idea why I haven’t gotten back into the habit since retirement, but we’ve gone together more days than not for the past two weeks.  Honestly, I have no excuse.  The gym is only less than 10 minutes from where we live.  Lord knows I’ve become a turnip over the past few years…it’s time to turn back the clock a bit.

I had some spare time one day last week and ventured to two greenhouses BY MYSELF…it’s a wonderful thing to go by myself so that nobody is rushing me or whining.  Actually, Sarah is happy in a greenhouse and that’s something we could do together if only she lived closer.  I bought five flats of flowers and vegetables.  I’ve planted little more than one flat so far, but I already know that more begonias and impatiens are needed.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate this weekend…and I’ll find some time to putter around in my flower beds and garden. 

Five flats of impatiens, petunias, alysum, begonias, snapdragons, zinnias, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers. 

Meanwhile, look what sprang up around Timothy!!  Some beautiful Rocket Snapdragons decided to winter over.  I suppose because they are close to the house, the wall protected them.  We had a mild winter too.  The snaps that I planted in pots did NOT winter over…sadly.  It’s OK, because I bought MORE. 

This flower bed has not been planted yet. 

I planted seeds in my raised bed the other evening.  Going clockwise from the top-left of the U, we have lettuce, carrots, radishes, another variety of lettuce, and then bush green beans.  I noticed that a DAMN carpenter bee has chewed a hole in one of the posts and was buzzing to himself inside the post, all cozy and pleased with his destruction, as I planted.  I could spray him with poison, but I probably won’t.  I hate to kill things. Then this morning, as if I might see signs of life after two days, I stepped out on the deck to have a peek.  GRRRRRRR!!!  There in my raised bed, right there in that pristine, glorious black dirt, sat a chipmonk eating my seeds (I presume it was a carrot or radish seed he was snacking on).  I barked at him – “NO!!!”, and then he scrambled to find a way out and panicked when he realized he couldn’t get through the net.  I ran down the deck stairs, taking my eyes off him only briefly, but he vanished.  I have no idea how he got in or out.  If he comes around too often, Molly will take care of him.  She’s quite the huntress.

Carpenter bee 😠

So, my girls and I are planning a mini-vacay to Philadelphia next month.  I’m excited about spending time with them, and also to see something new.  We’re going to drive to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and then Amtrak the rest of the way.  On the way over, we’re going to stop and tour the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  We’re also going to take a day to visit Hershey, Pennsylvania.  The Hershey stuff I’m not as excited for, but Erin and Emily are totally pumped.  We’re going to Chocolate World, apparently.  Really?  I looked up the visitor sites to see if there was really anything worth doing there.  There are photos of a chocolate-themed amusement park.  Instead of Build-a-Bear, you build your own candy bar.  Instead of people dressed up like Micky Mouse and Pluto, there are people walking around dressed up like candy bars.  I asked Emily if she was really all that excited about having her picture taken with somebody dressed up like a Reese’s Cup.  She said, “Mom, I want to marry the Reese’s Cup.”  I guess she is all that excited.  The highlight of the trip, at least our expectation is that it will be the highlight, is a private tour of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.  There are plenty of things to do in Philadelphia – we will have 2.5 days there.  Then it’s home again.  We are all just too busy, sadly, to get even a whole week together.


Gracie is a snarly beast – she is nasty to other dogs and strangers.  As such, I don’t take her for walks in our neighborhood because there are too many dogs running loose, and there are always people out walking around.  I take her to a road, over close to where the gym is, that is mostly deserted.  It’s a nice place to walk because there are very few cars, lots of deer and other wildlife, honeysuckle that smells heavenly, and wildflowers everywhere.  This time of year, there are millions of daisies and coreopsis.  The milkweed is just starting to bloom too.  We parked about a quarter mile from the road, and when we got to it, the road department had apparently decided to spray the sides of the road with herbicide rather than mow - this morning.  Really??  Let’s just pollute all we can because who wants to spend money to run a mowing truck along that two-mile stretch of abandoned road? That would take at least 10 minutes, so let’s just poison the deer, rabbits, turkeys, and anything else that happens to drink the water.  Stupidly, I thought Gracie and I could just walk and I would keep her out of the blue poison that blanketed all the beautiful flowers along the side of the road.  Long story short, no I couldn’t.  She and I both got into it.  Her legs were blue, her nose was blue, and her tail was blue – like robin-egg blue…or Easter egg blue. As soon as we got home, I gave her a bath and washed that shit off of her.  She didn’t appreciate the bath - she even growled at me a few times. Then, I took a shower too.  Maybe I’m too paranoid, but I don’t like poison. 

            

Sunday, May 7, 2017

spring day adventure

University #1 is a wrap, and I’m on break from that school until August (other than some training next week).  It’s a busy weekend for University #2 with six classes going on, but one of those finishes tonight, so just a few more days of grading papers and life will get much easier.
 
Even with all the many tasks on my to-do list, today was just WAY too splendid to sit at a desk all day.  Someone and I loaded up Gracie up and went for a long hike at Greenbo. My God, it was a glorious day!  Clear sapphire sky with just a few puffy white clouds, breezy, cool – absolutely perfect for hiking!  We walked about 4.5 miles of Claylick Loop.  Long hike?  Considering what it takes to get on and off the trail – yes, it’s a long hike.  The trail runs mostly along the tops of the hills, so part of the journey not counted in the 4.5 miles is getting to the trail, and then getting off the trail.  Getting to the trail from the marina entails a steep climb – about 45 to 65 degrees all the way up (and up, up, up) a rocky, loggy, snaky path.  By snaky, I don’t mean that the path is curvy, it is…but I mean literally, you keep your eyes and ears open for snakes.  Today was cool, so even if they were out, they’d be moving pretty slow.  Still…I don’t like them.  Gracie likes to lead (i.e., pull) and Someone likes to have her leash, so they are always in front.  Someone talks a lot, so I think we have enough noise to scare the smart snakes away.

On Claylick Loop, Greenbo Lake State Park

Scenery on the trail.

Coming down off the trail is a bit easier.  Part of it slopes gradually, but the very last part is VERY steep, with lots of tree roots, loose rock, and of all things, sand.  Today, it was dry and the ground was clear enough that I just sat down on the ground and scooted/slid down.  Someone did the same, partially dragged down by Gracie who was eager to drink from the creek at the bottom of the hill.  We come off the trail about a mile behind the campground.  There’s a nice flat road (except for a few small hills), so it’s a pleasant walk back to civilization and my car.  Good thing…I was pretty tired!

My raised bed has some dirt in it, finally.  I bought and dumped nine bags of organic raised bed soil in it.  I’m thinking (hoping) that eight more will finish it.  Then comes the planting…and waiting.  We will see how Farmer KYLady does with this new venture.  The farmers around here say it’s safe to plant after Mother’s Day.  I’m thinking, it’s OK to plant any time now…Mother’s Day is next Sunday. 

View from another deck...more dirt needed.  


By the way, Emily gave me a hug today and told me that every day is Mother’s Day.  She’s so sweet! 

   

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Venting

Sometimes I vent about Someone’s inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to help with household chores.  He likes to believe that he does his fair share; in fact, if you asked him, I’m certain he would say “Oh yeah, I easily do 50% of the housework, plus I always cut the grass.”

So lately, I’ve been very busy with classes.  Actually, even too busy to cook lately, which is really not a big deal.  Someone keeps a very different schedule from me.  He usually eats supper after 9 PM and that’s way too late for me.  During the week, Someone typically eats a huge lunch with his coworkers, and then he does things like karate, tennis, or running endless miles on his treadmill that fill his after-work hours. If we eat supper together, it’s on the weekend when I’ve had time to cook, or those rare occasions when we go to a restaurant together.  Almost always, he heats up frozen stuff in the microwave for his supper, or he gets fast food.  He is proficient with a microwave, at least.

Anyway, to keep the story short, it was last Saturday.  I was incredibly busy with classes all day…literally, all day and into the evening. My desk is just off the kitchen, so I know everything that goes on in the kitchen, unfortunately (I’d love to have a door to shut off my space from the rest of the house). Anyway, it was about 4:30 and Someone came into the kitchen and announced that he would make some tuna-fish salad because sandwiches for dinner sounded great.  I said nothing and acted as if I were busy (well, because I was) and observed that he pulled three cans of tuna out of the cabinet, located the pickle relish and mayonnaise in the fridge – slamming around and making all kinds of racket…the whole time talking, talking, TALKING about how tuna salad for dinner was just what he wanted.  I sat there working, and I could tell he was standing in the kitchen waiting for me to offer to take over.

When there was no offer on my part, someone said, “Well, I guess I’ll just boil some eggs first and then I’ll go run while they cool.”  I said nothing.  Someone slammed cabinets a bit longer.  Then, he asked me, “Hey, do we have any pots or pans?” I assured him we’ve had pots and pans for our entire lives together, and told him where to find them.  He said he looked there and we had none.  I suggested he bend his knees and look back a bit into the cabinet (lids in front, pans in back).  Long story short, and after MUCH foul language (mostly while picking egg shells off the boiled eggs) and many excessive bowls and dishes dirtied, he successfully made tuna salad and had his sandwiches. 

The thing that irked me more than anything else was his question – Do we have any pots or pans.  If I had a nickel for every time he’s asked me a stupid question like that, I’d be totally rich. Other questions he has asked me over the years include:
  • Do we have a broom?
  • Do we have a sweeper?
  • Do we have a rag?
  • Do we have any hangers?
  • Do we have a ladder?
  • Do we have any light bulbs?
  • Do we have a needle and thread?  (And why?  He had absolutely no intentions of sewing anything.)


I could blame his mother for not teaching him to do common things – she didn’t – but there comes a time when a man has to adult up.  Maybe it’s not that.  Maybe he just doesn’t have that common-sense know-how kind of thinking gene…if it is genetic.  He’s not stupid; he’s a great attorney.  Give him a contract, and he will figure out the nitty gritty details and how to get around them. Give him a hammer and nail, and he will give you a bewildered look – deer in the headlights.  



I kind of feel sorry for him sometimes, but surely it is curable…somehow.  Maybe I don't have the patience gene. 

                       

Thursday, April 20, 2017

springing into summer

I have been wanting to write SOMETHING.  My poor blog feels forsaken, forgotten, and completely left out of my life. Our spring has been marvelous.  It came early, and now with not much more than a week left of April, I’m wondering where the time went.   

Well, I’ve been pre-occupied. University #1: four classes that will be over by May 5th.  Parting is such sweet sorry.  By this time, my students and I are acquainted.  They start sharing more stories with me and I get to know them…and now that it’s all cozy with them, they will be leaving me.  University #2: seven classes distributed among three different sessions (there were nine until a week ago). This requires me to keep a close eye on the calendar just to keep up with who has what due on which dates.  Along with that, I had a giant report to prepare that was due this Friday.  I actually submitted it this morning around 2 AM.  Do or die…and I just about did when my alarm ordered me out of bed this morning.

I have a new adventure – a raised bed – future garden.  Coming soon…perhaps it will be ready to plant in another week or so. Sarah’s manfriend built it for me a week ago. I have been digging out the sod and rocks all week (in all my free time).  Just this evening, it is finally ready for me to put down a barrier of landscape fabric to deter the moles and ground squirrels from eating stuff that I plant. There is netting around the outside to deter deer, and hopefully rabbits, squirrels, and terrapins too.  I’m all giddy just thinking about what is going to grow in my private little U-garden.  Certainly, there will be carrots, radishes, onions, and lettuce. Also, brussels sprouts.  It seems that I am the only person on the planet who likes brussels sprouts.  I grew them once before and nobody would even try them.  That’s fine – more for me.

View of my new bed from the deck above it.  

Gracie was guarding as I worked tonight.  


 We still have our bigger garden.  Someone has it almost ready to plant.  I planted cabbage and broccoli in it last weekend. In a few weeks, we will plant peppers, corn, beans, and tomatoes.  It’s fun to grow our own food, but the local Farmer’s Market has reasonable prices and good stuff.  Even with our own garden, we will still patronize our local farmers.  Their corn will be available long before ours.  To be honest, we really didn’t need the raised bed; it’s just something I’ve been wanting to try.

Someone is making plans for the annual beach vacation.  *sigh*  I wish I could be excited about it for him.  My enthusiasm is underwhelming (he told me so).  It’s the same vacation we have taken every year for as long as we’ve been married (I think it’s going to be 24 years this summer).  He took that same vacation for even more years before he met me…but I don’t know how many.  It’s my wifely duty to go though, so I will go and be a good sport. It won’t be all bad.  There are nice golf courses to play, and I like to visit BrookgreenGardens near there.  The last time I visited Brookgreen, I went by myself while Someone slept on the beach.  It was great!  Nobody tried to rush me along.  I just wandered around taking my time, reading the information plaques, and looking at sculptures from all angles when I wanted to.
 
So, while Someone is planning Myrtle Beach for the two of us (you’d think there would be no need to plan actually…we already know what’s for dinner every night and what we will be doing every day), I am starting to plan a mini-vacation for me and the girls.  I think we are going to Philadelphia for at least two nights so that we can visit the Mutter Museum…something all my girls have been asking to do for many years now. We just have to figure out what else we want to do.  I don’t really care what we do…I just like spending time with my girls.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

In progress

I've not had time for blogging lately.  In fact, the sad fact is that my personal life stopped existing a few weeks ago. I was asked to take on another class and I agreed to do so. Just now, with 11 classes in progress, it has become a monster to keep up with everyone and everything.  But at this moment and for the next hour, I'm sitting in a student lounge until my next class meets - free time with my iPad in hand and a cup of hot tea - it is a very, very good life.

So, last Sunday, late in the afternoon, I got an email from a person at University #1.  She said there was no photo of me on file and I needed to report Monday afternoon for a quick headshot  - it would take only a minute. Instant dread - I detest having my picture taken.  Still, the reason I have no employee ID badge is because I have not reported to have a picture taken for the badge.  An employee badge will give me access to the faculty parking lot which is level with campus - those who have no employee badge or who are not handicapped must park at the bottom of the hill and hike up to the campus buildings - a hike actually with 118 steps in a variety of flights with uphill inclines between.  Going down is easy, but going up is a workout.

Anyway, I did nothing special to myself - it was a small photo taken with a computer camera to be laminated on a plastic badge (so I thought).  It was a windy day, my makeup had faded off as it always does by late afternoon. I walked across campus, walked into the office for the photo, saw no mirrors to check my hair, so just plopped right down in the chair in front of the garish blue backdrop, did the expected cheesy smile, and snap snap, all done.  As I collected my stuff to leave, the lady said, "Now, you know what this photo is for, right?"  I replied, "yeah, so where do I go to pick up the badge?"  She frowned, then said, "this photo is for our display of distinguished faculty. We will blow the photo up to 8X10, frame it, and it will hang in the lobbies of our three campus locations until next year."  SPLENDID!   No do-over, no airbrushing or Photoshopping, just the rawest of raw me, blown up to life size with wind-blown hair and minimal makeup....to endure for a year.  At least there will be photos of five others, and hopefully their photos will be no better than mine.



It is time to plant cabbage and broccoli in the garden. When will I find time?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

winter escape

As much as I hate the sound of an alarm clock in the morning, it is my fate in life to need one. I sleep like the dead.  Sir Isaac Newton understood me.  He asserted that a body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force (hence, the alarm clock was invented…for me).  On days when there is no place I have to be and nothing in particular that I have to do (at least until late afternoon), I don’t set the alarm at all.  If I wake up early (say before 9 AM), I’ll go right back to sleep.  If I wake up and it’s after 10, I’ll force myself to get up (or pick up my iPad and be a lazy-ass for a while).

Last weekend, with no alarm clock set, I woke up and checked the clock.  It said 9:11 (it’s a digital clock). I ordered myself to go right back to sleep – 9:11 would be a very unlucky time to do anything, especially get up.  Nothing has changed my perception of the world more than the tragedy on September 11th.  Terrorism was something that, even though I knew it happened in the world, it was not in my world.  We had the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and I remember the pictures from the first responders, and especially the one of the fireman carrying the little baby (Baylee was her name).  But Oklahoma City was far away, and it was a one-time event with finite people involved who had a specific ax to grind.  Not only that, in 1995, I brought two babies into the world.  With three kids to look after, there was already plenty to consume my every waking moment. 

iconic photo - Oklahoma City

September 11 was different.  All my girls were in school.  It was a typical Tuesday morning at work.  I was involved in a long conference call when I began hearing people all around me (we were in cubicles then) talking about something on the news.  Nobody seemed to be working and it was something bad, I could tell it by the tone of their voices.  It didn’t stop.  Something was going on.  I had never dared bring up a nonwork-related web page while at work, not even news, but curiosity got the best of me.  As soon as my call ended, I started visiting news sites to see it all unfold just after the second plane hit the towers…I did nothing but watch the horror all day, into the evening, and the days after.  Someone and people in his office did the same.      

My world has never seemed as safe as it was before 9/11.  The reality is that with all the extra checks and surveillance in place, it’s probably more safe now than it ever was.  It seems like there is just way more intense hate being spread among larger numbers of people these days.  Hate and violence, evil and crazy. Is this the result of overpopulation?  Could it be a consequence of technology, which has given us collectively too much free time on our hands, ability to collaborate more easily with like-minded people, and capability to do higher levels of damage to others?

Tomorrow, FRIDAY, I am not on campus for any classes.  The weather is predicted to be sunny and temperature of mid 70s.  Is this really February????  My daffodils. Snowdrops, and irises have exploded into bloom.  The maple trees have their red leaf buds.  Bradford pears in our neighborhood have blooms already.  Our apple and cherry trees still look dormant, thankfully, but the weather is supposed to be warm all weekend.  If they get their buds, surely they’ll be frozen like last year…and like last year, no fruit this year. 
    

I’m taking my kayak to the lake tomorrow - thank you Mother Nature (or global warming).  Adventure and escape from the real world – these are a few of my favorite things.   

Our backyard - a few weeks ago  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

incognito

This week has been wonderful.  For no apparent reason, out of the blue (so to speak), I’ve come to the most bizarre realization that I love my life.  Is it unusual to have walked on this earth for so many years without having that kind of thought clearly in one’s brain?  It’s not that I’ve been ungrateful or dissatisfied…or maybe I was, or perhaps just not as grateful or happy with things as I should have been.

For now, World, I’m delighted to be here.  Thanks for putting up with me. 



It has been a good week, really.  We had Valentine’s Day this week.  Someone and I never exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day, but two of my students surprised me with little gifts of chocolate.  I mean that literally – BIG surprise - I didn’t think things like that ever happen in college.  One student gave me a small heart-shaped box of chocolate.  Another gave me a home-made chocolate candy treat that she made herself – it was amazing!!!  How very thoughtful of both of them to even think to give a gift to me. 

So, in my last post, I was all excited about watching my UK Wildcats play basketball against Florida.  The Cats totally sucked that night and we lost – it was a HORRIBLE game.  We have won two games since then, but I won’t be getting too excited about any future games.  It’s just bad luck. 


Having said that, I’m going to circle back to loving life.  Is it bad luck to say that things are just perfect lately and I hope it lasts?  I think it is.  Perhaps invisible delight is better than exuberant glee in cases like this.  I will remain grinning on the inside and poker faced on the outside.

    

Saturday, February 4, 2017

girly girls

It’s a good day.  I woke up early this beautiful, crisp Saturday morning, not by way of an alarm clock or cat, or dog, or husband.  Completely on my own volition – it’s a marvelous thing – getting to decide when I want to wake up and get up.  And now, I’m writing a blog post because I want to. 

But yes, there is plenty to do today (always?).  I have assignments to create and assign for my students at University #1.  I must complete configuration of a new classroom for University #1 to be opened tomorrow for students who start a 12-week class on Monday.  And then, I have six online classes for University #2 that also begin on Monday.  I need to update the course calendar for them, and send out welcome messages.  All routine stuff, but I like doing it.  As of Monday, I will have 10 classes on three different schedules covering seven subject matters.  I like challenge. 

One of my students is legally blind.  She has been able to cope well so far, but we have not launched into anything she is not already familiar with.  She magnifies her computer screen and scrolls around to find things.  I have to be mindful not to go too fast because it’s harder for her to find things on the screen.  In my new 12-week class that starts Monday, I will have a student who is profoundly deaf.  She has a cochlear implant, but she still doesn’t hear well.  The student resource person who notified me of her issue sent a link to a YouTube video so that I could understand how she perceives sound.  It’s worrisome – she hears as if she’s swimming under water all the time.  She relies on reading lips, but in my classroom, the instructor’s station is on a long table pushed against the wall.  My screen is projected to two walls.  In effect, when I’m showing the class how to do something, my back is to the class and I talk to the wall.   I can move the monitor and keyboard to face the class (though the tables are very narrow and it will be uncomfortable for me with my elbow against the wall, given that I’m right handed, and my notes in my lap because there will be no space to lay them. Even with that, it will be impossible for her to sit close and have her hearing ear directed toward me.  The room is just not configured right.  If we were meeting on the newer campus, there would be no issue.  Another challenge.



Emily stayed in Morehead this weekend because she was not given any hours to work.  Her boyfriend drove over to be with her…of course…they are very tight these days.  I was a bit relieved that they did not get engaged over Christmas.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with him, only that they are both young and should get farther along in their lives and plans before committing.  Out nest is truly empty this weekend.  It seems odd. 

Yesterday, I volunteered to act as a judge at a regional science fair.  That was FUN!  I’m a closet science geek anyway, so there were plenty of interesting things to look at.  Three other judges and I evaluated projects submitted by students in 6th through 8th grade, on topics related to math, engineering, and computer science.  Most of the projects were interesting, but I will tell you about the little girl’s project who won our category.  She had created an eco-friendly air conditioner using a piece of ply-wood cut to fit a window, with holes drilled in it, and cut-off plastic 2-liter pop bottles stuck through the holes.  The board is placed in a window so that the large end of the bottles face out – the idea is that as air comes through, it compresses and cools.  She recorded five trials showing that room temperature cooled two to nine degrees over a 90-minute period.  The main reasons that she won were because she had a clear objective and hypothesis statement, and was able to explain the science of her experiment better than the others.  She got her idea off the Internet:  people in poor areas of Africa use this invention to cool their huts.  What I LOVED was her display – all girl.  Pale pink board with the main lettering in iridescent silver, and rhinestones glued around all of the important scientific and procedural information that was glued to the board.  Clearly, she spent a lot of time bedazzling her display.  We asked all of the entrants if they had a career objective during their interviews.  She blushed, and said she wants to be a ballet dancer when she grows up.  Of course she does!  Little girls usually want to be a princesses, dancers, or movie stars.  Her project will advance to the state science fair next month.


So now, it’s time to commit this post to the blog, and get to work on things.  University of Kentucky plays Florida tonight, and I want to watch it.  College basketball is an exciting sport.  In last Tuesday’s game, I gave up on UK midway through the second half.  We battled back and the score got really close.  Monk scored a three in the final seconds to tie the score, and then we won in overtime.  It was a nail-biter!  

Monk, Fox, and Briscoe - amazing!
         

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Welcome 2017

It is almost time to say good-bye to January, 2017.  Last night, it came to my attention that my last blog post is about Christmas.   I’ve not written so much as a syllable to my blog this year.  It’s not unusual for me to take a long break from writing, but one of my many resolutions was to write more in 2017.  It’s really, TOTALLY stupid for me to make resolutions at all, because I can’t recall a single one (in my entire life) that I’ve ever carried through on.

Today, after much planning and working long hours all week, I managed to free up time so that I could clean our house.  I got up early this morning, all gung ho to clean bathrooms, scrub the kitchen floor, vacuum, dust (no really, dusting is critical at this point), and clear out and reorganize a closet.  That would have been good day’s work.  But here I sit, because I’ve not blogged in a month, and we know how much more important that is.  Me and procrastination – we are one, united for all eternity.

My girls, all three of them, and me went to visit Akiko last Saturday.  It’s extremely rare that we ever do anything with all of us together.  It extremely difficult to manage our schedules so that everyone has free time for the same block of time.  After collecting Emily and Sarah, together we drove to Louisville and picked up Erin after her shift.  She looked cute in her hamburger uniform. 

Head Cashier

 Akiko babysat my girls from the time they were babies until the time that Erin and Emily were about 11 or 12.  She is their other mother, an alternative mother, and like family to us.  She and her husband (my girls call him Daddy-Ron) made my girls at home in their home.  It was a marvelous blessing for me to have found by chance such loving, trustworthy people to help me raise my children.  I was able to work and travel for my job, and never worry about whether or not my children were being taken care of, or if they were happy where they were staying.  When Ron retired from his job, they moved to southern Indiana to live near their daughters and grandchildren. 

Kiko and Sarah open Christmas presents - many years ago
             
Erin and Emily have part time jobs to help with their living expenses.  I am grateful, because many of their friends who are also students expect their parents to keep paying for everything…like EVERYTHING!  Emily works retail and has a dress code to follow, but no uniform.  Erin has to wear a red hat, red tee-shirt, apron, and ID badge.  I remember one of the jobs I had in college.  It was a sit-down restaurant that also sold Kentucky Fried Chicken.  As a waitress, I had to pull my hair back in a ponytail and wear a hair-net over my head.  My uniform (pants and top) had broad red and white vertical stripes.  They gave me two uniforms, but both were too large.  It felt like wearing really ugly polyester pajamas to work every day.  To make matters even worse, I had no choice but to walk to and from work. Trudging across campus dressed like that every day was very humiliating.  You just can’t be cool wearing clothes like that.  Sadly, many customers are rude to Emily and Erin at work.  They talk down to them, like they are stupid.  The same happened to me when I worked as a waitress.  It’s a hard life in many ways for anyone who works a minimum-wage job (or less than minimum wage, as many still do in this country). 

This blog post has been created throughout the day – a paragraph at a time.  I did get some housework done, though not all that I’d hoped to do.  I cooked and assembled a pan of manicotti this evening for dinner.  Someone was ecstatic (he loves anything with cheese melted in it or on it).  It turned out pretty good; I will brag on my culinary prowess.  It makes me laugh out loud to even think such a ridiculous thing.  Me – a great cook?  I can remember taking Sarah and some of her little girlfriends somewhere in my car.  They were all about 7 years old then.  They were talking about their favorite foods that their mothers cooked for them.  I heard such things as spaghetti, chicken and dumplings, and chocolate cake.  Sarah spoke up and said her mommy makes the best toast.  Sad, but true.

I make a mean bowl of cereal too!!