Tuesday, October 29, 2013


So it seems that fall is officially here.  The trees are changing and leaves are falling off much sooner than they used to when I was a girl living not too far from here.  It must have something to do with climate change.  We don’t have a glorious mass of vibrant leaves anymore.  Trees start dropping leaves as soon as they change color.

leaves not spectacular
It was 90s day at the high school today, meaning kids were supposed to dress like we did in the 90s.  Erin and Emily went to the store last night to buy scrunchies for their hair, and yes, they are still sold in stores around here.  Both girls raided my closet and found clothes to wear to school today.  Dammit!  This can only mean it’s time for a wardrobe update.  Honestly, Emily sent me this photo after they got to school…if I didn’t know it was 90s day, I’d think it was dress-layered day, and nothing more than that.

90s Day at school
So, the past two nights, I’ve been trying to apply for a teaching job –as an adjunct  - since adjuncts don’t make much money, and I have two girls to see through college, and I can’t afford to quit my day job.  It’s my “great plan” to retire from my day job and teach full time, preferably online classes.  Anyway, the “great plan” is mainly why I went back to school for a doctorate (aka Step 1).  Even full time professors don’t make as much moolah as flunky IT peons working for Big Oil, and they make even less without a doctorate.  So Step 2 of the “great plan” is to teach a night class….get my feet wet.  Once I have experience to sell and the girls are situated in college, I'll think about retirement from Big Oil (Step 4).  In Step 3, we secure a full-time teaching position.      

But…I’m stuck.  The application requires me to write and submit “My Teaching Philosophy”.  Well Lord, I’ve never given my teaching philosophy a second thought.  It doesn’t matter that I teach and mentor people all the time, I just never think about why or how it happens.  I do what is needed to get the person on his way…so he can work without asking for anymore help.  That’s the ideal, although I really don’t mind when people ask for help.  Sometimes it seems like their success is partly my success. Helping others is one facet of my job I enjoy doing (nearly all the rest is shit).

I’ve blundered around many times myself when I should have asked for help, but didn’t.  I only ask when there's no alternative – like, it’s obvious this task will never get done without help from someone who has a clue.  It’s terrible to be in that situation.  I figure most people only come to me when they are desperate…so I make a point to be kind, pleasant and as helpful as I can be – treat them the way I want to be treated when I’m stressed out and lost. 

In a college classroom situation, students are probably not stressed out and lost.  Perhaps they are only bored and just wanting to get through the class so they can get on with life.  In that case, I just need to keep things moving and try to make it interesting – keep them engaged in the subject.  How?  Somehow they need to link the subject being taught with potential future success.  Why should this subject\topic  be important to you?  If it doesn’t matter, why learn it?
Somehow, I have to write something, a philosophy, that isn’t lame.  Something that sounds like someone who is proficient, and efficient, and professional, and most of all, hire-worthy.  Would I hire me?  Whatever I write, whatever I write…..it has to be good.  Maybe I need help with this.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

plant tales

Sadly, we are about to get first frost.  I brought my house plants in off the porch and had no place to put them all.  Our house is not plant-friendly.  The windows are smallish, and the builder placed air vents under nearly every window.   This must be standard practice because many of the houses and apartments I’ve lived in had registers below windows.  Why is that?  It seems wasteful given that lots of air flows through windows, even when they are closed.

The kitchen is the sunniest room in our house, so for now, all the plants except for one philodendron are in our kitchen.  I went and bought a cheapie ($20) utility shelf which serves fairly well as a plant stand.  So in this photo, you can see (or perhaps only barely make out) on the bottom (left to right), we have an African violet, a begonia in a rabbit planter, and a Christmas cactus that will most likely never bloom again.  A Christmas cactus might bloom if it’s kept in a closet for 4-6 weeks….but that would require me to remember it’s there and to water it at least every two weeks.  Won’t happen! 

On the middle shelf, there’s an angel-wing begonia that is blooming and still quite cheerful.  Beside it sits an asparagus fern.  Those make me happy but they get messy if they decide to drop their little needle leaves.   On the top shelf, there is a jade plant…one of two that Sarah gave me.  The other one is still waiting to be potted.  Beside it sits an orchid that got tired of blooming – a graduation gift from my mother. 

The first pot on the floor beside the stand is a very sickly split-leave philodendron…really, it’s just what’s left of a formerly beautiful plant.  It was a Mother’s Day gift to me from Someone and my girls.  Actually, I strongly hinted to Someone that it would make the perfect Mother’s Day gift for me….and then I went and bought it myself.  That was about 4 or 5 years ago.  At one time, it covered that entire post.  Gracie sharpened her teeth on the pot…as if my neglect were not enough abuse.  So, because it’s likely that this one won’t recover in my lifetime, I bought another one for no special occasion at all (other than it caught my eye at the grocery store and its price was reasonable).

Newest split leaf crowds the table, and now I realize it's right over the air vent - a death sentence.

Now, in that first photo, that plant with all those spikey leaves is a yucca tree.  This is Sarah’s plant.  She bought it and left it behind when she moved.  If it would stand up straight, it would be six feet tall.  For whatever reason, even though I tried staking it up, it wants to grow horizontally.  I did some research on this plant.  Tomorrow, I will go buy some more potting soil and perform major surgery on it - amputation just below the first bend in the trunk.  It will be a sawed off tree trunk for a while, but the experts assure me it will put up stalks, and soon enough it’ll look fine.  Not only that, I can cut the dismembered part into pieces and stick them in dirt.  They are supposed to root and grow too.  We will see.  I might try to grow three of them in total.  We will have a forest of yucca trees before it’s all over.  Perhaps once Sarah moves again, she will want a yucca tree or two. 
In these photos, you see Miss Emily working on her Latin homework.  Crazy girl.  She is in her 5th year of Latin.  It’s a very hard course taught by a Nazi sort of teacher, but she enjoys the challenge.  You can also see we desperately need new kitchen blinds.  It’s on my to-do list, a very long list.  Very, very, very long.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I’ve not written much lately.  I’ve been sulking.  Things aren’t so wonderful lately, and I won’t be boring anyone with details.  The issues are all mine.  It makes it all even worse given that my life is way better than 99% of the world’s population.  So if I were contortionist, I’d kick myself squarely in the back of the head and tell myself to just “SNAP OUT OF IT”.  But no….I’ll just be me until things change.

Blogs are counted as social media…but mine is anti-social.  It’s OK.  I’m not very social lately.  In my fantasy world, I paddle off in my kayak to the back of a giant lake and take up residence far from all of mankind.  I would take Gracie though….if she could sit still long enough to make it across the water without tipping us over.  I doubt that she could.  Sometimes it seems like killing the blog would be the best thing to do.  Every now and then I exterminate a post.  For now, I let it live.  No blogocide yet.
I was cooped up with Emily over the weekend, and we started watching Season 1 of The Walking Dead.  By the end of the second episode, I was completely hooked.  It’s my new favorite show now that Dexter is kaput.  It’s amazing how quickly I’ve become used to all the violence and gore…just like the characters themselves.  More people die than live, and nothing good lasts long.  It’s all very disturbing and suspenseful to watch, but the end of every episode leaves you wanting to know what will happen next.   I’m sure it can’t end well…whenever it ends.  There’s nothing like a horrible zombie apocalypse to make me appreciate my current life of luxury and relative safety. 

Someone is too busy watching football to make time for The Walking Dead.  Erin introduced me to a fun app.  I’ve been having fun with it.  In fact, it has been the best part of my day. 
I turned.
Oh no!!  Not Gracie!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

bug phobia

Of all the earth’s creatures, I’m not so very fond of insects, or any creepy crawlies.   Most of them are important – like bees for pollinating, and bugs that are food for other creatures.  For that reason, I accept that we must share the planet with them.  They are generally small, and usually quiet.  I just don’t like how they crunch or squish when I step on them, or how they have all those legs going everywhere.  I’m not really afraid of them either, but it’s more that I just prefer they stay out of my space.

Some bugs are welcome though.  I like lightning bugs, lady bugs, and luna moths.  Butterflies are fabulous and cheerful.  Inch worms are fun. 
princess and ladybug
My girls, Erin and Emily, are completely phobic about certain bugs.  Erin flips out when she sees any kind of spider…no matter how tiny!  If it’s a daddy longlegs, you would think a gigantic, blood-thirsty tarantula had just invaded.  She begs me or Someone to PLEASE get it out – she is genuinely terrified.  So we calmly pick it up and set it outside, so she sees there’s nothing to be afraid of.

For Emily, it’s any bug with wings.  Of course none of us like hornets, wasps, or yellow jackets.  We have always had more than our fair share of bees at this place.  We’ve had several hornet nests as large as basketballs removed over the years, and we spray for wasps frequently – they always come in somehow.  Someone burns out yellow jacket nests every summer.
Erin's dragonfly

We first learned of Emily’s phobia when we visited a butterfly garden.  She was about 9 years old.  We entered double doors of a large tent with all sorts of beautiful flowers and butterflies everywhere.   Soon the butterflies were fluttering all around us and Emily just totally freaked out.  I carried her out because she was completely hysterical and swatting at the butterflies that came near.  We had no idea she was afraid of them before that time. 

So now, even today, she is afraid of moths and butterflies.  She is to moths and butterflies like Erin is to spiders.  Last night Emily accompanied me to the grocery store.   I was driving and she was sitting next to me fiddling with her phone.  It was dark so not easy to see, but suddenly something fluttered across the windshield.  Almost instantly, Emily screamed and in a single motion, unbuckled her seat belt and dove across the center console into the back seat.  Just then, I saw the fluttering thing again and my heart skipped a beat – I thought it was a bat in our car.  As quickly as I could, I rolled down the windows and pulled off the road into a parking lot.  Emily leapt out a back door as soon as I stopped.  Then I saw it – a large moth fluttered out the window. 
Erin's hungry bat
It was several minutes before Emily would get back into the car.  She made me search to make sure the moth was really out and had no friends hiding.  Finally I convinced her the car was moth-free and we were on our way.