Category Archives: Life

Vaca part 3.

It is good to be too busy to write much.

Altitude sickness is real
The little black spots are fading. The combination of salty snacks, water, Advil, and tine seems to have helped.

Everything I read says that only 10% of those who visit the Grand Canyon foto the North Rim. Now I understand. Monday morning spent on the lodge overlook patio with roughly twice the number of people as chipmunks. Oh, there were two chipmunks.

It is so pretty. It smells amazing here. Every direction one looks is gorgeous. It inspires awe. If the Raven would fly away, I would even say it is quiet. Silent.

Fear of heights and falling is real. Those of you without it, I think the rest of us my live longer. I am sure some the the photo ops I have seen people take are spellbounding, but they are also insane.

The Adventure Continues

Or maybe it is just starting. I have just under an hour before meeting the tour group and this trip really starts.

So far this trip has helped me remember empathy and reality are not seen as frequently as they could be. Examples? I took a two hour shuttle yesterday. I ended up in the back row, ironically with the most leg room. This was a well used 15 passenger van with a trailer for luggage. It was between 114 and 117 degrees F out during the entire trip. The other two passengers in the back complained and muttered most of the way. Yes, it was hot. My favorite was her thought that the van would pull over each hour to change seats. I just keep imagining this insane Chinese fire drill on the side of the road. At least then she might have understood that yes we were all hot.

Before getting the shuttle I spent time at the hotel people watching. Went for lunch at Wahlburgers which was most yummy and I highly recommend the onion rings. My favorite people watching were the parents and grandparents interacting with kids. I was truly amazed at the vast range of attire in the theology/casino at all hours. I haven’t seen that many half shirts since the 90’s but I digress. This amazing little grandmother giggled and pointed with the granddaughters at the lady in the high heals and butt cheeks hanging out of her teeny shorts.

Oh, and beside being both cheap and unlucky there is no danger of me gambling lots. I am so unaccustomed to smoke. Good grief but the air quality was bad.

Ok, that wasted 23 minutes.

Gratitude List – in no particular order

  1.  Freedom of religion
  2. Pets, specifically my cats to keep me company
  3. A job I mostly enjoy
  4. A job that is not physically taxing
  5. Coffee – hot and cold
  6. Pretty things, pink or shiny
  7. Extra space
  8. Vacation time
  9. Sleep, good dreams, soft blankets and pillows
  10. Great story tellers
  11. Great preachers, especially ones who don’t take the message in a predictable way.  Thank you for making me think!
  12. Friends, near, far, sort of related, not related at all.
  13. A running car.
  14. Internet
  15. Life milestones to look forward to or to look back upon
  16. Books
  17. Electricity
  18. Heat and AC, running water, indoor plumbing and garbage service.
  19. Being the master of my schedule
  20. Great food!

Holiday Dinner

What are your holiday memories?  Here are mine.

Grandma served dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas as 1:00.  Or at least that was the plan.  Uncle George would be sitting at the table, even if the bird still wasn’t cooked.  Grandma had something against turkey, so it was usually chicken.  The day before we went to the bakery to pick up two pies.  One was always pumpkin and the other was sometimes mince (ewwww) or apple or cherry.  The night before she cut up the onions and celery for the stuffing.  One mason jar of each, stored in the fridge for morning.

This was all a mystery to me before Mom got sick and I went to live with my grandparents.  After that, I got to see the traditions first hand.

Grandma made sage and bread stuffing.  She never liked the dried packaged cubes so once it became impossible to buy fresh cubed bread for stuffing we also had to cut up a loaf of bread the night before.  I was allowed to do that job.  The onions and celery had to be done just so, so it wasn’t until a year Grandma had the stomach bug that I took over.

Once I lived with them, I would wake up to the smell of cooking onions.  Grandma was very particular that the onions and celery were fully cooked, but not browned before adding it to the bread cubes, sage (out of a 10 year old bottle, used twice a year), milk and an egg.  Then into the bird it went.

Once the bird was is in the oven, breakfast could progress then we could get dressed and work on the rest of the meal.

Menu

  • chicken
  • pale yellow gravy, too thin some years, often thicker than the jello
  • mashed potatoes
  • squash, frozen cooked in a double boiler
  • a vegetable for Anne (me)
  • rolls – from a tube of course
  • olives and pickles
  • jell cranberry sauce straight from the can
  • jello
  • pie and cool whip in the afternoon

These were the only days of the year we said grace.  That was Grandma’s job.  I once saw the grace she said printed on a place mat and was amazed she said the Catholic version,  not Protestant.

And then we ate leftovers for days and days.  Not the creative casseroles you see on the cooking shows.  Exactly the menu above reheated again and again.  Plus a chicken sandwich for lunch.   Thanksgiving and Christmas, just the same.  So that is what a holiday meal is to me.

October 1

Happy October.  Of course in Florida, it barely registers as fall, yet.  The weathermen happily note that the high is only 89 instead of in the 90’s, but for the rest of us, we really don’t feel any change.

We have been back to school for over a month now.  The routine has set in.  Unfortunately that routine consists of constantly being tired and swamped with paperwork and pulled in too many directions at once.  I realized this as I walked to a meeting yesterday to find a locked door.  The walk wasn’t that far, but as I gazed through the window into the dark classroom I was upset.  This of course quickly passed.  Eventually my weary, end of the school day brain realized that they weren’t hiding from me.  This wasn’t personal, just a mistake.  I trudged back to my classroom and checked my email.  Probably the only email I deleted this week was the one giving date and time.  So I sent out an email saying sorry I missed you.  The meeting moved, and I wasn’t cc’d which is just fine.  I didn’t need to be there, and I was quite able to find work to fill my time and they were quite able to function without me.  But it was Wednesday afternoon, therefore I must have a meeting.

As all true teachers know, you not only teach, but to survive you have a second job.  Some of us hope this is only for a season, but I fear this is my lot in life.  You see, I do mind eating Raman at age 48.  So, I tutor.  I left today to tutor and realized I had a missed text.  “Is it too late to cancel, he has an activity after school?”  “No problem,” I texted back.  Freedom.  So I bought an iced coffee and went and bought a pretty yellow mum.  Even if it doesn’t feel like autumn, my entryway can look like fall.  And the red, white, and blue planter bought on sale after July 4, 2014 (yes really!) is looking a little scraggly.  So I have a friendly yellow plant to greet me and I used part of the time to “rake” the leaves off of the porch.  Of course, these are just the dead leaves that have accumulated for months from the neighbors’ oak tree, and I swept,  I didn’t actually rake, and I did need to recuperate in the AC when done, but never-the-less, it was a lovely fall day.

Happy October 1, y’all!

 

It Must Be August or You Might Be A Teacher If…

Happy first day of August.  I am enjoying the summer in that odd style that only teachers will probably understand.  Beside the date on the calendar, I realized it was August 1 today for many reasons.  The first reason you would think, the heat wave hitting the country, the record temperatures, the mild scent of sweat drifting in the air even if you venture outside for an instant wasn’t really what confirmed it.

I know it is the first day of August because before nine this morning I had two arguments with myself over what day of the week it is.  It is Saturday.  This was confirmed by morning television but, it is really hard to keep track.  After all the only day I have to set the alarm is Sunday so in my relaxed teacher mind there are only two days in the summer, Sunday and Notsunday.  And I really enjoy sleeping until I wake up.

How else do I know it is the first of August?  I know it is the first of August because I have both physical and mental energy.  The energy drained by a school year teaching chemistry and physics seems be refilled. I know that someplace I have a little battery like on my electronic devices and it is green and full but it took a really long time to overcome the drained, red, less than 10% status that I ran at in June.   I have planted flowers in place of the ones burnt by the summer heat.  I have trimmed and watered and found lots of other projects to do outside.  Then, while wandering through the kitchen I have identified new ways to organize the dishes, make use of those shelves way above my head and cull out those things lurking in the back of the cupboard and donate them to charity.  Believe me when I tell you all these things are rare events for this couch potato.

While preparing my list of things to do I also now have a second category.  The working title is, Next School Year.  So far this summer I haven’t really done much but avoid thinking about next school year.   But so far today I managed to scan material that would be helpful for next year.  No big deal, you think?  It involved cleaning off the scanner, connecting it to the “new” laptop, shooing the cat off the laptop when she walked by and somehow managed to cancel instillation,  well, you get the picture.  But it is done.  It wasn’t started and then I lost interest like most things attempted in June or July.  And I have a laundry list of ideas for Next School Year. And the list of ideas is invigorating not draining.  Yes, it must be August.

Just so you don’t think I completely set out to brag, I also have this little buzzing in my brain reminding me that the next pay check is a month away and the savings is getting smaller and wouldn’t it be great if you could save money?  I know, you can make it a game, the back corner of my brain suggests. You can go anywhere you want for lunch tomorrow, but you have this much money to spend.  Oh, that wasn’t exciting enough, fine, just tap into the hurricane supplies.  The weather in the tropics is calm.  You won’t miss a couple of cans from the pantry.  They would work well with the leftovers.

Lastly, how do I know it is August first.  Well, it is 23 days before school starts.  The countdown begins.

The Tree

The tree fell on my car.   It is a Monday morning.  I am dressed but have not made coffee yet and decide to let in the cat.  Miss Heidi likes to stay outside when there is a full moon.  Something doesn’t look right.  Wait, no.  Something looks wrong, would be more accurate.  The tree fell on my car.

The tree.  I live in a condo in the South and to shade my parking space was a maple tree.  It was a hard decision to buy a place but the maple tree was a reminder of home and going to the maple syrup farms on field trips as a kid and loving maple sugar candy.  Sorry, I am not a maple syrup fan in and of itself.  I don’t like any saucy slimy things on my food.  Never any mayo or miracle whip. Mustard and ketchup are used only sparingly.  Plain is usually best.  If I get chicken nuggets, yes, I am an adult and eat chicken nuggets, get over it.  If I get chicken nuggets you will barely be able to tell that I used any dipping sauce.

So the condo had a maple tree.  A pretty ugly, badly trimmed, riddled with holes maple tree.  A tree that lived mostly in the shadow of a huge Oak tree whose roots occupied all the space between the two buildings.  But it reminded me of upstate NY and home and Lisa’s maple and Grandma’s Japanese maple and home.  I planted the bush I was given at Dad’s funeral underneath it.  And then when it died, I bought another one and actually watered it this time.  But it fell over.  It broke off at the roots and just tipped over onto my car.  I believe it happened early Monday morning.  A large crash that shook the condo woke me at 2:00 but I went back to sleep.  It was the noise of the loudest door slam you ever heard, but it wasn’t followed by yells or obscenities so I fell back to sleep.  Living in a condo makes for a series of drama unfolding around one nonstop.

So, I opened the door and there was the tree.  My maple on my car.   What to do.  Ah, my cell is charged, that’s a plus.  Text someone at work that I will be late.  (Text didn’t go through, but I didn’t find that out until later.)  Call car insurance company.  Take lots of pictures.  Keep circling the car.  Maybe I could pull forward?  Well, if the sidewalk and building weren’t in the way and the weight of the whole tree wasn’t resting on the trunk.  Thankfully I was too chicken to try that.  Neighbors leave for work.  No advice.  I understand, they don’t want to be late.   I  see someone I work with putting out the garbage so beg a ride.  And I am even on time.

Before  giving up at being productive at work and begging a ride home, I  find a guy with a chain saw, who magically attracts neighbor with better chain saw and in the rain they free my car from the poor rotted out tree.  It still looks wrong when I drive in or look outside.  I miss my tree.

Change

I live someplace between these two images.  I actually own the pink change purse, as a kind of benevolent brain-washing.  It hasn’t really worked though.  I know that change happens and that I need to be okay with it, I am just not.  I resonate so much more with Sheldon.

Today I will go to my new seats at the Daytona International Speedway.  Yes, I am one of those NASCAR fans.  Did you catch the part about new seats?  This wasn’t a planned upgrade, like when I had the perfectly awful seats on the backstretch that were so badly designed you couldn’t see any racing action, and it was an additional two mile walk to get to the “privilege” of sitting there.   I upgraded to the front stretch as soon as I was offered the chance.  One race, no one even took my ticket stub.  I guess they knew that no one would even try to sneak in back there.  Seriously, no one was manning the gates to take tickets.  I paid for that ticket!  I digress, as usual.

No, I didn’t plan this change.  They are renovating.  My old seat is no more.  I am on the same level, same general area.   But I had those seats in Petty Tower, section S, 3 and 4 since they were built.   Probably a little closer to the flagstand now, but still, it is different.  I had a well established routine and now it is changed.  And lets face it, they aren’t the seats Dad sat in with me.  And the wonderful gentleman from England quit coming with his family so there were different strangers sitting in seats 1 and 2.  And there will be a new usher.  For at least the last half-dozen years we have had the same usher.  Her daughter works with media for the Speedway so she has wonderful stories.  Had wonderful stories.  Well, probably still does, I just won’t hear them.  And what if the new usher is lazy.  Won’t get rid of the drunk seat surfers.  You know, those obnoxious people who usually travel in large packs and believe they deserve better seats so sit in any open seat available.

Oh, and they changed qualifying for NASCAR.  I must admit I haven’t even watched it, except for the weekly clips of the mishaps.  Sigh.  I really hate the image that all NASCAR fans care about are crashes.  For the serious race fan, qualifying was how you determined which car was good.  Seeing each car, alone, on the track for two laps gave the fan a lot of information.  But then, I went to qualifying at Watkins Glen with Dad.  It was a long day.  A really long day, but any day with him tended to be long.  You either became a fan or died of boredom.  Might as well learn to hear differences in engines, watch the lines the cars took, figure out how much faster the second lap would have to be than the first to qualify at the front.  But one of the announcers explained that qualifying was too long for the “young fans.”  So they made changes.  Sigh.  They will miss a lot.

I really wish I could be in the Change is Good camp today, but I must agree with Sheldon.  Change is never fine, they say it is…but it’s not.

Problem Solving Methods

I admit it.  I like to people watch.  It never fails to be entertaining.  But the other morning I wasn’t thinking people watching.  It was more, “Danger, Will Robinson!”  You see, I like getting to work between 6:45 and 7:00 am.  It is a twelve to fifteen minute drive so no matter how you see it, most of the year, I leave the house in the dark.  Add clouds or fog, it can be really dark.

And, as a creature of habit, I just assume I will be the only loony-toon up that time of day, except for two dog walkers and one dude who exercises.  But they aren’t near my front door.  They are out on the road.  So, I left the house and hear voices.  Raised voices.  Mini-panic!  What should I do?  Go hide inside?  Well, I don’t see anyone, I will be brave and make the five step walk to my car, where I totally fail, because the darn thing has key-less entry.  But I am old school.  I lock the door by flipping the lock not hitting the remote.  So, to get in the car, I first must unlock it.  But the car doesn’t think it is locked, so it “locks” itself before it will unlock.  And the lights flash, and it beeps.  I’m sure you know, you have one yourself.  Anyway, nice going kid – try to draw more attention to yourself if you have just startled some major crime spree in progress.

Whew!  Safely in the car with the doors locked.  I don’t really see anything.  Car on, backing out.  Oh, I can hear a woman yelling.  And as I leave the driveway, there is a big, and I mean big, pick up truck barreling by me.  Rapid heart beat.  I am trapped.  As he opens the door of the truck, he whistles and the little fluffy dust mop of a dog turns around and jumps in the truck cab with him.  As he pulls a U-turn and drives home, I see his wife (girl friend, significant other?) stop running after the dog.  Not quite as intimidating as my imagination pictured her from the voice.  It is hard to be intimidating in flannel jammies and slippers.

So on the way to work, I was left to ponder the two ways these two strangers tried to solve the problem of the run away doggy.  The woman ran after him, running farther from home than she probably dreamed of going without being fully dressed.  But I am sure she was focused on catching the little guy before he got lost or hurt.  On the other hand, they guy knew the dog could run, and it had a head start but what dog would turn down a ride in the truck?  Problem solved.

And if that is the most excitement I face before 7:00 am, I am fine with that.

Password

Your password will expire in 14 days.  Your password must contain a letter, a number, a special character and be at least eight characters long.  Your password must be updated.  You may not use any of the last ten passwords.

Have you been plagued by any of these messages lately?  I have a confession to make.  Even after all the news reports of websites being hacked, I have basically been using the same password for nearly the last 25 years.  It was given to me by my advisor during the summer between my freshman and sophomore  year.  Oh, wait, that makes it 28 years old.  No wonder I can type it so well.  But I digress.  I was doing some work for the chemistry department and needed to access a shared account.  Sadly they changed the password soon after the next semester started.  But still I use some twist of that same password.

But then I saw a story, probably on the Today show or the nightly news.  In case you missed it, How a password changed my life.  The publicized part was that he changed his password to Forgive@h3r and it helped him forgive his ex-wife.

Well, I don’t have an ex to forgive but I have been meaning to getting around to someday maybe memorizing some Bible verses.  I never bothered to put any effort toward memorizing any verses during Sunday school as a child.    Since then I have just sort of told myself that that isn’t one of my gifts.  Well, it was time to stop making excuses.  So I found a verse, turned it into an acronym and tried it.  It works.  I am on my second one.  So, I will only learn one verse every sixty days, or however often they make us change are password at work, but it is a start.  And it entertains me, looking for a verse with a positive message that I need to hear in my brain several times a day when I type it.  Try it.  It works.