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2 kids. Memories of Wolf and Boo. Many dear friends. Three siblings. Two parents. Samarra the crazy dog. The Player and Pi the Cat. I love you all!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Opening Day!

Opening Day is finally here!  Oh baseball, how I have missed you!

The Cubs don't play until tomorrow afternoon.  They open at home this year against the Pirates.  The Pirates are usually a lousy team that usually beats the Cubs even when the Cubs are playing well.  Go figure.  Ryan Dempster is starting instead of Carlos Zambrano this year, which was a good decision I think.  The Big Z needs to tone down his Giant Venezuelan Ego and he needs to grow up and stop acting like a 3 year old.  So not getting what he wants right off the bat (no pun intended) is going to put him in the right frame of mind, I think.

You may remember that I wanted the job that went to Mike Quade, manager of the Cubs this year.   I didn't get what I wanted either.  But I am going to be mature about it.  I'm not pouting and blaming my teammates.  I'm keeping my Giant Normal Ego in a box in the garage.  I know where it is and I can get it out if needed, though.  If the Cubs win the World Series this year I might even put that box in a garage sale.

Until this afternoon every pitcher has a 0.00 ERA, every team is in first place, and every fan can dream that this is the year their team will win it all.

Ahhhh....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

As March Winds Down

Today is "I am In Control Day."  This holiday commemorates Alexander Haig's famous quote on March 30 1981 when President Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt.  No one is sure now, 30 years later, what he said before that sentence but shortly afterward he was required to say something like "I Quit."

Today is also "A Walk in the Park Day."  I'm not sure if I have time to take a walk at Parklands today between patients, but I will be driving in that direction later this morning, so I may try to take control of my schedule so I can have a short walk in the park. 

Tomorrow is Bunsen Burner Day.  I won't be celebrating that holiday unless I am required to do so.  I can't see how that would happen, unless a mad chemist takes control of the government.

After tomorrow we're off and running with a new month.  And possibly some real spring weather instead of this back and forth indecisive stuff we've had in March.    I hope that April can take control of the weather and give the people what they want:   Some good walking weather! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Reunion and A Review

The Reunion: 

In this case I think a picture really is worth the proverbial thousand words:


'Nuff said about that.


2.  A Review.

Yesterday some comments left on my blog posting made me wonder if some of my Gentle Readers might need a simple review lesson on the difference between an umbrella and various suggested reptiles.  So here is a little review.

Cheetah-print umbrella:



Leopard skin gecko:




Galapagos Iguana:


Spotted Alligator:



And finally if you are still confused, here is a photo of a reptile AND a cheetah print umbrella so you can be sure to tell the difference:


If you are still confused you may need new glasses.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunny Sun Day

I did laundry Sunday and unpacked.  Sierra and I made a trip to The Jewel.  We watched most of the VCU-Kansas basketball game, enjoying the chance to root for an underdog team.  David beat Goliath this time and we will be seeing VCU in the Final Four, along with Butler who suddenly this year is NOT the long-shot team.  How 'bout them apples?

It was mostly a day of rest.  But we did work on a couple of projects.

Project One:  The Easter Tree.  It's still In Progress, but looks good enough for a sneak peak here for my Gentle Readers:


We added some plastic eggs, a few small baskets, and some ornaments that had daffodils on them that I found once in a thrift store.    We still need some little bunnies and a few more little baskets.  Then I think our tree will be fully reborn as The Easter Tree. 

Project Two:  The Sierra Range Campsite.  It has a campfire (made of bricks, some dried grass to look like a fire, sticks made into a roasting spit over the fire where a bucket of water is heating up over the fake fire) and a tent made of a tarp over the porch swing frame.  I was enlisted to reassemble the frame after it had spent the winter in the shed.





So if you don't mind sleeping on a very small bed made of two sleds under a wholey tarp and cooking over a fake fire, come on over and camp out in our back yard! 

Today we are hoping to reunite with The Boy.  If his flight gets in on time we will be at the airport to greet him.  Mom and Sister are ready to have him home again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Transition to Home

It takes a little over eight hours to drive from Akron to Normal.  It is a long time to be in a car with a girl and a dog.  But it was a pleasant drive because the girl and the dog are so sweet.  Traffic was enough to keep me attentive but not so much to annoy me.  No accidents or traffic jams to worry me.  The sun was up for all but the last hour of the trip and I drove into a beautiful sunset that was cloudy enough not to blind me.  Lavender and pewter colors of the sky. 

But we left the Player, his great kids and his traumatized cats behind, so the pleasant drive had a bittersweet flavor. Boy did it ever.

Before we left Akron we went out for a late breakfast with the Player's brother and his wife.  They adored Sierra and said so and when Sierra left she gave them all hugs.  I think she looked like she had just won the Princess of Breakfast award, and I'm pretty sure there was a tear in her eye.

I am going to ask Sierra to get to work inventing a Transporter Device right away.  Hopefully it will be made of the same materials as the galimoto.  No fossil fuels required.  It could be powered by a solar panel with a wind-turbine backup in case of a cloudy day.   Beam us up, Scottie!

We arrived late enough last night to justify sleeping in this morning.   We decided to skip church in favor of unpacking, doing laundry and re-settling the homestead.  Groceries would be high on the list of re-settling activities.   Wolf will get a walk so he can pee on his favorite hydrants.  Sierra and I will be re-decorating the tree today, taking down the St. Patrick's Day ornaments and creating some for Easter.  The tree will be in it's 4th incarnation this year once we are done.  Eggs and baskets and bunnies, Oh My!

It was Sierra's idea to come home yesterday instead of today, and now that we are here I can see that it was a good idea.  She starts school tomorrow and she needed a day at home after a week of travel.   I loved the trips we took, and I love being home with her.  Thank you my beautiful girl-child, for a great vacation.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Miss Alomoto's Galimoto

We did not go to the zoo yesterday after all.  So we did not see any roadrunners or hedgehogs.  Nor any otters, flamingos, or penguins.  It was cold and Sierra decided that she didn't want to go to the zoo anyway, she wanted to shop for presents for...um, herself.

We went to a great fair trade store called Market Path.  And Sierra found a fabulous toy.  Which I gladly bought for her. 


It requires no batteries, cords, wind-up parts, or fuel.  It requires a kid to hold it and run.  Unlike a kite it requires no particular weather or wind-speed.  It is just about the perfect toy for a kid who likes to run.  It's called a gali moto.  I think we are buying another one for Jeremiah today.

They come in many different colors.  The wheels turn and the legs move along with them.   Sierra took it everywhere we went the rest of the day.  On a walk around the neighborhood with Wolf.  To Acme, where we bought ingredients for homemade salsa (onion, Roma tomatoes, Serrano peppers, cilantro, lime juice) which we made when we got home.  Sierra alternated between helping to chop tomatoes and run around with her Galimoto.  She named it Sonshine, then renamed it Bikey Mikey.   Later we ate the salsa on tacos with refried beans, cheese, sour cream, and olives.  You can see that the Hardys and Tingleys ain't afraid of no stinkin' beans.

Today, however, is a bean-free day.  Dinner out tonight at a thai restaurant called Cilantro.  Where I am sure an 8-year old girl will be seen running around with Bikey Mikey after dessert.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Roadrunners and Hedgehogs

On Wednesday a sleepy Sierra and her mom ventured out to get some groceries.  Sierra, a big fan of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, was delighted to find the grocery store is named Acme.  We looked, but didn't find any dynamite or traps.  But she is convinced we just didn't look hard enough so we will probably go back in search of them at some point this week.

After we had lunch with the Player over his lunch break we headed home for some napping (mom) and some video watching (Sisi.)  A lazy afternoon interrupted only to take Wolf-the-Cat-Hunter for a walk, and to make some chili and cornbread for dinner.

I finished reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog yesterday evening, which is our book group book this month.  Coincidentally Sierra was wearing a t-shirt with Sonic the Hedgehog on it, and she was gifted a very small wind-up hedgehog that spins and does flips yesterday by the Player.  (The Don Drumm Studio and Gallery where he works has a great room of things for kids, in addition to the beautiful sculpture, pottery, jewelry, and art work.)   I can't wait to meet and discuss this book with my homegirls. 

Today we may venture out to the zoo, if it warms up a bit.  Where we may, or may not, see a road runner or a hedgehog. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Get Along Little Doggy

Yesterday afternoon I took a look at the weather report for points along the trip from Illinois to Ohio.  Bad news, lots of rain and thunderstorms predicted, even some potentially severe weather near Columbus.  So I decided that perhaps Sierra and I should wait until Thursday to travel.  Or we should leave Tuesday afternoon as in within the hour.  I consulted my daughter the amazing traveller.  She insisted we leave immediately.

Ok, I said.  I called the Player to see you he felt about having us arrive after midnight.  No problem, said the Player.  We packed.  We brushed our teeth.  We gathered up the Wolfster and his things.  We drove to Ohio.  We arrived at some ungodly hour, greeted with open arms by the Player and with some degree of panic by the cats. Wolf suddenly came to life sensing the presence of two small furry animals in the house.  He began to pursue Dill with the energy of a Very Young Dog.  Dill hid under the couch and I corralled Wolf upstairs.  A truce has been declared but mostly due to peacekeeping forces keeping Wolf upstairs and cats free to roam the rest of the house. 

This morning it's pretty quiet.  Wolf is napping.  Sierra is watching a video.   The Player went to work.  It's good to be here with a day to relax ahead of us. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chicago is My Kinda Town

Day One.

Sierra's suitcase before we left.  Note flotation vest attached to outside of suitcase with large rubberband.  A cooperative, last-minute effort by mom and daughter.  All quiet on the southern front.  We were prepared in the event of a water-landing on Amtrak from Normal to Chicago, too.  In case we ended up in the Des Plaines River, I suppose.

Once in Chicago we walked the mile from the train station to our hotel, the Palmer House.  Open since 1871, the longest continuously open hotel in North America. 

This is the second year Sierra and I have stayed there during her spring break.  It is such a luxury for us, and only affordable thanks to the magic of Hotwire.  Our room was so small it was probably once a maid's closet, but it had a comfy king-sized bed and 2 bathrooms.  Sierra liked having her own bathroom.  I liked having my own bathroom, too.  We are now officially spoiled! 

Our adventures out of the hotel on Saturday afternoon included a visit to this place:





I love the dome and the staircases in the Cultural Center.  I've been in that building dozens of times and never tire of looking at them.



Later we walked through Millenium Park.   Sierra and I took about one hundred pictures of The Bean (aka Cloud Gate).  Here is one of them.  (Whew, you are spared the other 99!)



If you ask nicely maybe I'll post another one tomorrow.

Most of our meals were at the Corner Bakery because that's where Sisi wanted to eat and it fit the budget!  Yes, Chicago is a city of fabulous restaurants and we ate at a silly chain fast-food place, but keeping your 8 year old happy when you are dragging her to museum after museum is important.  And at the Corner Bakery we met Anna, who kept giving Sierra free food, including extra large portions of macaroni and cheese, as well as free cookies.  Anna turned out to be the manager.  I love it when a nice and competent person is in charge.  I could see she was not just nice to us, but all the customers and her employees as well.

Day Two.

We went to the Art Institute!  It was raining when we arrived but nice by the time we left.  Sierra was happy that the rain had stopped because she wanted to be photographed with the lions!


\
That's Sierra, not a real lion tamer, in case you were wondering.

Sierra seemed most drawn to modern art sculptures and ancient Egyptian art.  She has something of a fascination with mummies.  I think it's because she has a morbid fascination with the idea of taking someone's brain out through their nose.  Once they are no longer in need of the brain, that is.  She is an artist, but also a scientist!





Day Three:

We headed off to the Shedd Aquarium.  But by the time we got there the line outside was at least a block long, and I convinced Sierra that we would have more fun at the Field Museum of Natural History where there was no line at all!  She agreed, especially once I reminded her there would be more mummies.  We focused on the exhibits about ancient Egypt, the special exhibit on The Horse, and on Sue the T-Rex:


Ok, this time, I have No Idea what the pose is about.  I'm just the mom.

Today we catch up on laundry, and pack again for an adventure to our east!  More travelogues to follow.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Off We Go!

Sierra and I packed last night for our trip to the Windy City.  One thing we did not pack is my computer.  It will be staying home.  No blogging for a few days.  So don't worry, Mom. 

There was an ongoing debate about whether Sierra would be packing her swimming vest, which she has owned since, well, several years ago when she could not swim.  Now that she is practically half dolphin she doesn't need it.  But she got it in her head that she wants to take it.  It is pretty bulky and I don't think there is room for it.  I said no, she argued, I said no, she argued, I said no, she went off to bed later and then I noticed the huge oddly shaped pillow case tied at the top with a ribbon sitting next to her suitcase.  I also noticed the vest missing from the closet shelf where it belongs. 

I will be waking her up soon and we will finish packing. 

I'm betting on the vest showing up in Chicago one way or another.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Feed the Pig

Sierra wanted a piggy bank yesterday.  I didn't really want to drive to Hobby Lobby at the end of the day, but she had been a good sport about running other errands with me, so I capitulated.  We bought the smallest bank, her choice, some paints to paint the piggy bank, and some pipe cleaners because they are her very favorite art supply and she is out of them at home. 

Once home, Sierra started finding coins to fill the bank.  After she got up to about 31 cents, she had the idea to work to save $100.  Then later the amount doubled to $200. 

What are you going to do with the $200? I asked

Use it to help the people in Japan, she answered.

Later she got some other ideas.  Now the goal is $500, and $200 is for Japan, $200 for CISAR (that's the no-kill animal shelter where we got Wolf), and $100 for equipment for her school.

So now that she has found all the loose change in the house, she is working to earn more coins from Mom.  But at this rate she is not going to make enough to help anyone in time.  So I told her I'd put out a plea for coins.  If you can contribute to this cause, you'll make this girl really proud and happy.  (Her mom is already proud!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Struggling

It is hard to blog in a lighthearted manner, as I like to do, while the situation in Japan keeps deteriorating.  One of the reasons I blog is that I like interpreting my world with a sense of perspective and humor.  There is no humor in that tragedy and I am not wise enough to feel any sense of perspective right now.

I would like to blog, happily and in a carefree manner, about Sierra's new green tennis shoes which she will debut today at school for St. Patrick's Day. 


The leprechauns will approve of these, no doubt, especially since the original leprechauns were said to be cobblers!

After writing something in my usual lighthearted and silly blogging way,  I almost feel guilty.  I have a pang of anxiety and sadness for the people displaced in Japan.  I have an unwelcome mental image of bodies washing up on shore.  I feel helpless in the face of so much suffering.  I feel frustrated that we, as a species, lived less than 200 years ago without using gasoline and electricity, and in that short time span have come to depend so on luxuries that are capable of  contributing to the destruction of large sections of our planet.  We as a species now believe we are entitled to things our great-grandparents could not even imagine.  And these false beliefs come with a cost, often to the innocent among us.

There is no right way to respond to such large-scale tragedy.  If I could easily continue with my humor and perspective in my writing there would be nothing wrong with that.  But it just isn't in me right now. 

Yesterday I found myself in the enviable position of having extra time in the afternoon on the first warm day this spring.  I found myself far enough north of town at the end of my work day to stop by Parklands for a walk on my way home.  I found myself sitting alone by the Mackinaw River, listening to a woodpecker and to water rushing over a stone.  I lost myself in the beautiful side of Mother Nature for an hour.  I would like to bottle up that serenity and share it with the people around the world who are suffering today.  That would be a true Irish blessing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cheer Up!


I took Jeremiah to the airport Monday morning.

He always looks so grown up when he's hauling his own luggage around. 

I didn't cry but I was pretty blue most of the morning.  Then my boss invited me out to lunch, that cheered me up!  Then I went to my doctor's appointment which was not as bad as it could have been so that cheered me up!  Then I invited Kathy over for some wine after dinner and that cheered me up!  Then Sierra called us downstairs to watch the scene in A League of Their Own that everyone remembers most:  the scene in which Tom Hanks yells There's no crying in baseball!  And right after that, he tells the umpire, Did anyone ever tell you that you look like a penis with a little hat on?

Well, that didn't just cheer me up, it made me laugh out loud.  Later Sierra did some wild dancing around with a pair of my underwear on her head.  That cheered me up slightly but seeing how large my underwear looked made me think about the size of my behind and I felt a little blue.  But just for a moment because her humor was too contagious.  Also some Girl Scout Cookies may have helped.  (Yes, helped cheer me up as they simultaneously increased the size of....)

After Sierra went to bed I Skyped with The Player To Be Named Later. That cheered me up a lot. 

This morning Sierra is going through her Memory Box in which she has found some items from her distant past...like 3 years ago.  Which seems like ancient history to her.  And the sound of her voice saying "awww!"  is really cheering me up.  She is also starting to pack for our trip to Chicago which I think is cheering her up.  We leave Saturday morning bright and early on the train.   We are staying at the Palmer House again this year, thanks to the miracle of Hotwire.com.    I'm excited about taking her to the Art Institute.   She's excited about a hotel with an indoor pool. 

I hope we will hear from The Boy today, that he arrived safe and sound and is going to have lunch with his abuelita.  Now that  will cheer her up, for sure!


Monday, March 14, 2011

A Hard Goodbye

Jeremiah leaves today for 2 weeks in Ecuador with his dad.  He will play lots of soccer.  He will go to the pool/hot springs every night.  He will visit Abuelita and his primos.  He might take some Spanish classes unless he finds a way to talk his dad out of that.  What he won't be able to do is bug his sister.  So yesterday he made up for some lost time:









Hmm, looks like Sisi was making up for some lost brotherly-love-time, too!

This morning there was a different story between the sibs:


After I took this picture, I received a fabulous gift from the kids.  They invited me to sit between them and watch a little video that Sierra made yesterday.  It didn't last long but boy oh boy was that wonderful. 

Goodbye Jeremiah.  Sierra and Wolf and I will miss you so much!  Have a great trip, make lots of memories, and then come home to us safe and sound.  I love you mi'jo!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Signs of Spring

Number one, daylight savings time:    It is time to get ready for church and I just woke up!  I seem to have lost an hour of precious time.  Well, no worry, I'm sure I will find it by the fall.   

Number two, baseball:   I turned on the local AM radio station while I was in the car yesterday and heard...a spring training game between the Cardinals and some American League team that I could not identify and the announcers didn't mention by name during the few minutes I listened to the game.  At first, I must admit, the game sounded a bit, well, slow.  Some would say boring.  Then the announcer's voice got that certain je ne sais quoi that makes a baseball fan perk up her ears and hear how Yadier ran out to scoop up a bunt before it could bounce foul and threw it like a rocket down to Albert at first base.  One out!

I was just driving over to drop off the recycling, so I didn't hear much more of the game.  But it got my baseball heart beating a little faster again. 

Number three, changes in the backyard:   The grill is out of the garage and onto the deck!



The table is out of the shed and Sierra has kindly placed a few chairs around it:



Two front row seats for watching Kids on the Trampoline are now available at Craigslist:


and last but most definitely NOT least, the lilacs are thinking about their upcoming rebirth.


I don't mind Winter, but it's sure nice to see Spring ready to make her appearance soon.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Late to Bed, Early to Rise

That seems to be the theme of my son's life this week...stay up late, get up early.  What gives?  Must be the longer hours of daylight!  My daughter complained that it was light when she got up on Friday.  She actually yelled at me for not getting her up at 6:30 when she likes to get up.  I looked at the clock and it said 6:28 a.m.  What gives?  I asked the cranky girl.  It's LIGHT outside!  she answered crankily.  I like to get up when it is dark!

Well, after the Spring Ahead time change tonight that will be possible again, at least for a few weeks.

By 8:23 a.m. today I had already watched 3 movies with the kids this weekend.   Last night we watched Sandlot again, A League of Their Own again, and this morning Jeremiah and I watched October Sky for the first time.  Jeremiah said last night that A League of Their Own might be the best baseball movie ever.  Of course he isn't old enough to see Bull Durham yet.  He won't be allowed to watch that until he is at least 26. 

Sierra built an ant trap this morning.  She found some ants in the guest room.  Drat!  I thought we had that problem solved.  I will have to hunt around outside for the anthill later today.  The trap was made of masking tape, lip gloss, and baby powder.  There was a flashlight involved in the process, too, on a little boxcar from an old wooden train set.  Six ants were trapped and sacrificed to the Goddesses of Cleanliness.  More ants will probably follow them into martyrdom.  Poor babies.

Jeremiah is working hard on his school work for next week.  He leaves Monday for 2 weeks in Ecuador with his dad.  He is missing school for a week and his teacher has kindly given him the work ahead of time so he won't be playing catch-up when he gets back.  He is going to do as much as he can this weekend, but will probably be taking some work with him.  His teacher also gave him a journal and asked him to write about his experiences while he is there.  She rocks!

Sierra, on the other hand, forgot her homework for the weekend at school.  Hmmm.   I guess we may have to make up for that by doing some chemistry experiments in the kitchen.  Maybe we will make a pie!!!  Now that's  better living through chemistry.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Night School

Thursday afternoon the kids and I shot some hoops in the driveway.  We had a frozen pizza for dinner.  We did their homework together.  Both of them knew all their spelling words for their tests today.  Homework seemed to be finished.  Then Sierra claimed she needed to read part of her science textbook aloud to me, the part about states of matter and mixtures.  Then she claimed we had to do an experiment to make a mixture.

It sounded like chemistry lab was being forced on me yet again.  I was really good at chemistry in theory, balancing equations and so on.  But once in the lab I became, well, significantly less stellar.  One semester I'm pretty sure I got an award for breaking the most lab equipment ever at an institution that had been open for over one hundred years.  I was never able to determine the Unknown Compound correctly, and if not for smarter lab partners I'd probably still be taking Chem Lab 101.

So Sierra wanted to make a mixture of things that sounded like we would be, well, baking something.  Flour, vegetable oil, some food coloring....

Wait, I said, that sounds like baking.  Are you sure this is an assignment for school?

She grinned.  I said we could bake something this weekend.  That made the assignment magically disappear, at least until shower time.

I walked into the bathroom as Mademoiselle Junior Chemist was getting ready to get into the shower.  She was making a mixture of shampoo and conditioner together on a washcloth.  The colors were quite stunning...a red cloth, blue shampoo, white conditioner.  What's that? asked the mom who had broken glassware and even a huge mercury thermometer while trying to mix things in the distant past.  It will save me time in the shower!  the Girl Wonder replied.    Oh, well, then, by all means...just don't blow anything up in there, answered the somewhat amazed mother.

And indeed, the Little Science Girl was out of the shower in no time at all, hair washed and conditioned and ready to watch her favorite TV show....Wipe Out! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stylishly Late Blogger

I am not blogging until well after 8 a.m. today, not because I overslept.  Nor was I distracted by love.  No kids are sick.  And in spite of my claims in the title, I'm not stylish or stylishly late either.  No, I had to go to get some labs drawn and I had to fast first, so no coffee until now, and if there is no coffee there is no blog.  If blogging were my job  I would collectively bargain with me, myself and I to be sure there was always coffee available before the typing started!  Luckily I don't live in Wisconsin.

The big news here in Illinois is that the death penalty was abolished here this week, officially effective July 1st but really effective immediately as Governor Quinn changed the sentences of all 15 "members" of death row (his word, members) to life in prison without possibility of parole.   It's feeling like we live in a somewhat progressive, if not financially ruined, state these days, what with Civil Unions, and now this.  If only our school district didn't have to lay off 44 teachers due to the progressive state of Illinois not paying our public school the money they are owed.  It turns out 30 of the 44 slated to be laid off are in the special education programs.  How is that possible?   What is going to happen to those students?  Inquiring minds are disturbed by this turn of events.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy Panic Day?

Why the heck is there a holiday called Panic Day?  Panic is not a word most of us want to celebrate.  In fact the words Do Not are usually found in front of the word Panic.  Unless the word in front of it is Widespread.

The Greek God Pan is at the root of the word panic.  I think of Pan as sort of an ornery little half-goat-half-human creature, but not something that could inspire terror.  But as I lack a true liberal arts education (that's right, I'm a self-made liberal) I do not know all the stories about Pan that are out there.  Somewhere along the line he must have struck fear into the hearts of...something or someone. 

Ok, I'm back from a quick browsing of Wikipedia...the self-made liberal's source for all things liberal-artish.  Wiki says that Pan is the god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs.  He is associated with spring and fertility.  But he also took credit for causing fear in the hearts of the Titans when they attacked Olympus, and that event is said to be the root of the word Panic.  

As I write this I have the courageous people of the Middle East and North Africa on my mind.  The strength they show in standing up to the self-made gods in control of their countries is the opposite of panic.  I am sure there is fear there among the people, but there is a stronger resolve that inspires me.  I will keep them in my mind and heart today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

If Blogger Can Be Trusted

If we trust Blogger to count correctly, this is my 365th posting on HA.  A year's worth of blog posts in...well, a little over a year.  I started my blog on February 22, 2010.  So I missed a few days along the way, but not many.  I love blogging.  I look forward to it when I get up in the morning.  The reasons I blog late or not at all have included computer malfunction, oversleeping, sick kids, and on one or two occasions I was hanging out with the Player and well, I was preoccupied.

My blog really did begin with postings about hummus.  Some were silly, some were descriptions of early attempts to make my own hummus.  Once I found a youtube video with a rap song about hummus.  There were the hummus heads.  There was the Hummuser.  But slowly the blog evolved into stories about the kids, my friends, book group, trips, day-to-day stuff of life.  Once in a while I mention hummus again, and while I do still love hummus, eating hummus, sharing hummus, hearing about other people eating hummus....well, I think I may be over my addiction.  Hummus Anonymous has worked!

At this point I think I will keep the name, though, because all my Gentle Readers know that this is where they can find me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hey Sports Fans!

The Cubs were on WGN yesterday afternoon, a spring training game against the Dodgers.  So I got a great little nap in!  It was a calming experience after getting so worked up watching the Bulls-Heat game which the Bulls won by 1 point.  And after watching Jeremiah's last basketball game of the season Saturday that went into overtime.  They went into overtime because Jeremiah made 2 free throws at the end of the 4th quarter.

Jeremiah's team lost by 2 at the end of the overtime.  But the game was so exciting that one of my pastors who was there watching actually yelled out Holy Crap! at one point because s/he was so impressed at how well the boys were playing.  That pastor was mysteriously absent from church yesterday morning.  I hope s/he was doing penance by editing the video footage s/he took, and not absent due to a sore throat from cheering so loudly.

I hope the Presbytery Board doesn't find out about that, though I am prepared to say I had asked for prayer right at that moment if it matters.

The best part of the game, though, for me, was when Jeremiah's friend Evan took a shot and made a basket.  Jeremiah passed him the ball and Evan, the tallest kid on the team ,who had not taken a shot all season, turned and put it up and in it went, nothin' but net.  Evan has made lots of plays happen during the season, like tall kids can do with rebounds, defense, good passes.  I think I was possibly more excited than Evan himself about that basket.  And I was proud of Jeremiah for seeing the opportunity to set his friend up for a basket.

We watched the movie Sandlot this weekend, too.  The kids watched it Friday night and made fun of me for falling asleep halfway through.  So we watched it again yesterday afternoon.  I made it through the whole film (since I'd had that Cubs-game-nap experience earlier).  It's a sweet film, recommended to us by the Player-To-Be-Named-Later.  Another film with James Earl Jones.  My kids are impressed everytime they see him...the Voice of Darth Vader!  In person!  I wonder what it would sound like if Darth Vader yelled out Holy Crap!  Probably pretty scary. 


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Birds Eye View

It's Frozen Food Day!  Frozen foods first arrived in grocery stores in the 1930's in Springfield, Massachusetts.  They were developed by none other than Charles Birdseye.  The Birdseye brand is still around!

I don't know if you can get them at The Jewel in Normal because  I don't buy many frozen vegetables.  The last time I bought a bag of frozen veggies was when I had my shoulder surgery in '09.  I'm pretty sure they were Green Giant brand.  I used them for icing my poor sore shoulder.  I used ice so I wouldn't have to take as much vicodin.  I didn't want to take much vicodin because the last time I took it, in '85 when I had some wisdom teeth pulled, I gave away all of my money under it's influence.  Two packages of frozen corn are a lot cheaper.

I do have other frozen foods, though.  My freezer usually has a pizza, some chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and occasionally some hash browns or tater tots.  What's that?  Oh, of course there is usually some ice cream, too!  Of course of course of course.

There is no hummus in my freezer.

Outside the ground is frozen again, snow dusts the tree branches.  Thoughts of lilacs blooming outside the window are fading like a dream that I can just barely hold past the first cup of morning coffee.  A birds eye view of my back yard looks pretty white.  Oh wait, there is that black dog running around the fence line. A red hammock.  The bricks arranged in a circle for a pretend campfire by my daughter.  The lilac tree has some small brown buds that will eventually wake up and explode with color and scent.  If I squint my birds eyes just so, I can imagine some fresh vegetables growing along the south side of the yard.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Some Reminders

Sitting in the Ecuadorian Consulate closet, er very small waiting room, yesterday, I noticed a boy who must have been about 3.  He was climbing up on chairs, tables, taking a small newspaper apart and twirling the pages around, smiling at strangers, running around a bit, and generally just being his 3 year old self.  His mother only stopped him if danger was involved, otherwise she let him be his 3 year old self.  It was nice to watch.  Then he took her cell phone and figured out how to use the camera and took her picture while she was standing in line. 

Every adult in the place looked at each other and we shook our heads.  How do kids do that?  I did not confess to anyone that I have only been able to take photos on my new phone by accident.

Two very fashionably dressed women came in.  They wore lots of expensive looking jewelry and both had knee-high black boots with very high heels.  They looked like models.  They were the only people in the place who did not smile and talk to anyone else.  Well, the models and Oscar the Grouch, that is.

I was reminded of how laid back the people of Ecuador generally are.  How friendly.  How the women have beautiful long black hair.  How they are usually kind and patient.  How they wait in line in an unhurried way.  Their relationship to time.  How much I loved living there.

Then I went to lunch with Kathy at the Park Grill and watched people ice skating and ate a delicious salad called The Chop and our waitress was just fabulous and funny and cute and she had the coolest eyeglasses I have ever seen.   And I remembered how much I love living here.

On the way home Kathy read us a short story about a woman who has about 6 months left to live.  She is a widow with a 12 year old daughter.  The story reminded me how much I just love living.

I just wish I could figure out how to take pictures on my phone.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Holy Holiday! Dogs with Thumbs?

Yesterday was "If Pets Had Thumbs" day, according to the Bizarre and Wacky Holiday Website.  Imagine if Wolf had thumbs.  I'd have to buy cheese everyday as he would be opening the refrigerator door and eating all the cheese (and hummus and yogurt veggie dip and any meat he could find).  Soon, however Wolf would be so fat he'd be unable to get up and reach the handle so that would not go on forever.   

If Wolf had thumbs I would not have to let him out in the yard, or back inside.  I might have to figure out a way to keep him from going on his own walks around the block, though.  He doesn't really hear cars or see well enough or have enough good sense to stay out of the street when vehicles approach.  That's why he would need a human even if he had thumbs. 

He could, however, clean up his doings and put them in a bag and put the bag in the garbage all by himself.  That would be nice.

He might be able to mow the grass in the summer, too, or at least help out with leaf raking in the fall.

But if he had thumbs and jobs to do, he would probably lose touch with some of his zen-master qualities.  So that wouldn't be a very good exchange at all for anyone. 

Today, on the same goofy website, is Holy Experiment Day.  I think they have in mind that we petition God for something we want, then see what happens.  Oh please,  Give me a break!  There I prayed to God for a break from people suggesting that I pray for something.  Perhaps it's Holy Irony Day, too and they forgot to mention that.  I wonder what Wolf would pray for....oh that's right....cheese!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chicken

I had some hummus last night at our book group meeting.  It was Greek Hummus and I ate it on pita chips and then on carrot sticks.  It was really delicious.  I also ate some deviled eggs (I made those!), some guacamole (I made that, too!), some popcorn, some pretzel-chocolate thingies, and some spinach-artichoke dip with chips.  I was a hungry girl.   As usual there was food, there was wine, there were women, there was a dog, and eventually Bob joined us for a few minutes.  As usual we discussed the book.  We also discussed Susan's vacation, Suzi's students, the use of the words homo and hobo by young teenagers, (I said I was gonna call this blog entry Homos Anonymous during our discussion, but I chickened out, hence the posting title), Kathy's job-leaving expedition, my fun-and-games on Sesame Street, Bob and Susan's new business, and Pam's work life.

(Susan - fyi on the tmi - mine STILL smells like asparagus this morning.  Jeez!)

Today I imagined I could sleep a little later than usual, but then when I did that I suddenly remembered that I have a class today and I have to be at The Chateau by 8:00 at the very latest.  With my legs shaved because it's a lab class on techniques for back, leg, and foot pain.  So I must go now, to prepare my legs, to be sure my lab partner will not get hurt.   Until tomorrow, Gentle Readers!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Circles and Checks

Yesterday's agenda included:
Morning routine with the kids as usual.  Sierra was healthy again, and ready to return to school.  Jeremiah was starting ISATs this week, so I made sure he slept in a little bit and he was refreshed and ready to fill in circles all day with a number 2 pencil.

Kids - Check.

Work routine as usual.  Except I got to go to a small town I've never visited before.  Secor.  It's pretty durned far from Normal, though not as far as other places I've driven for my job.  Emden and Middletown seemed so far west when I drove to them that I swore I saw more cars with Missouri license plates than Illinois plates.

Work - Check.

Anyway, I saw my patients...the last one actually said "anyhoo" outloud...and then I came home to shower and finish my book group book.  I finished it!  I don't think I've ever finished a book group book this close to the meeting.  I'm so happy!  I won't have read 2 other books between and forgotten about the one we are discussing. 

Shower - Check. 
Book - Check.

I went to Susan and Bob's for dinner.  They made me chicken and veggies on the grill because it was warm enough to grill outside.  Bob went with me to drop the kids' stuff off so I wouldn't have to go face Oscar the Grouch alone.  By the way, I'm pretty sure Oscar the Grouch isn't going to be on PBS much longer, since he used several of the WordsYou Cannot Say on Television in Two Languages the other day.

Dinner with Great Friends - Check
Dealing with Oscar - Check.

After that:

Steering Committee meeting -Check.

Medici for some wine with Susan, Bob, Nikki, and David after Steering Committee - Check.

Home to Skype with the Player to Be Named Later, aka What's-his-name, aka Ron.  (Phyllis - there, is that clear?  I hear there was some wondering about this out west...) - Check.

At the end of this day I went to bed.  I slept more deeply than I have slept in quite some time.  I woke up when the alarm went off feeling perhaps more rested than I have felt in a week.  I feel happy and ready for a brand new day.  Check check check!!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blue and Brown

Go Blue!  No, I'm not talking about Michigan, silly gentle readers.  I'm talking about Jeremiah's team...the Grizzlies.  Here is their team picture from Saturday's game:



After losing their first 2 games they now have won 5 in a row.  Mostly due to great teamwork and a persistent coach.  That would be the tall guy in the back, Tyler. 

It turns out that the referee that had to ask Tyler politely to stop voicing some opposition to the refs call or lack thereof recently is none other than Tyler's dad.  I didn't know that until Jeremiah informed me of the fact yesterday.   That explains why, when the ref (Tyler's dad) said to the coach (Tyler)..."Sir!" in a certain tone of voice, the coach (Tyler) quieted down like a 4 year old who realizes that he isn't gonna get dessert if he doesn't stop misbehaving.

It also explain why that ref knows the names of all the kids on Jeremiah's team!

Saturday afternoon The Player to be Named Later and I went for a walk.  We drove out to Parklands north of Towanda, and entered a sepia world of trees, oak leaves, snow, and river.


I love that tree.