Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welcome back Top Chef!

What started out as a summer guilty pleasure has turned into a full on obsession. Well, obsession is probably a little strong. I've been watching "Top Chef" since season 2, back when it used to just be a summer show. It was great because all my other shows went into reruns and I had something new to look forward to one night a week.

Anyway, here we are at season 6. On Facebook, I already dubbed this season as "Tattooed Chef". Seriously, could these chefs be any more tatooed?

I've done a pretty good job with the last two seasons, in my attempts to predict who will win. My picks always make it into the final show, that's for sure.

This time around, I'm picking one of the brothers to go to the finale. The older one, Bryan, I think his name is.

Hannah already has her pick for the chef she loves to hate -- Eli. Yeah, he's kind of full of himself, but he hasn't proven to be as horrible as horrible Lisa. I think Jennifer will be the chef to hate. I already don't like her.

It's bound to be another good season, however. I don't watch any other reality shows, so I have nothing to compare it to, really, but I think that Top Chef is very well edited and put together. I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009


I was just contemplating one of the great frustrations of being a parent. You set up what you consider to be a few simple, reasonable rules, and yet the children seem to either forget about the rules or just pretend that the rules even exist.

For example, the remote control for the TV belongs in the basket on the end table when it's not being actively used. I have told the children many, many, many times that this is the way it should be. That by following this rule, there is less confusion in life.

And yet, constantly I find the remote left on the couch, the floor, the cabinet that holds the TV. What gives?

When asked, the children admit that yes, of course, they know the rule and understand. And yet they continue to choose not to obey. I wouldn't mind so much if they were merely ignorant of the rule, any rule, really. But it's the willful disobedience, and the lack of the child's desire to do what is good and pleasing in the eye of the parent that I find so exasperating.

Do I love the child any less? No. But it brings even greater joy when the child chooses to do the right thing. When I am less exasperated, it enables me to expend more energy demonstrating my love to my children and everyone is the better for it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Taming your inbox

Here's a truly great article about organizing your email inbox. To quote:
But many people are struggling with e-mail overload and overwhelm these days, and from my consulting and training on the topic, I think I’ve figured out part of the reason why: people are keeping their information in e-mail format rather than converting those e-mails into what they really are: information, tasks, calendar events, and/or contacts.
I used to think I was so organized because my email box has so many folders and subfolders to store my old messages. After reading this article, I've spent a good chunk of time this afternoon going through my email at work and doing exactly what the author recommends. It's quite liberating, really.

I've created several new documents that "document" library procedures and now have all my usernames and passwords in one giant spreadsheet.

Speaking of being unorganized, our new library security monitor was mentioning that different staff members run the closing procedures differently at night. Well, no wonder. The closing procedures document was made up of no less than four different documents printed out and put into one binder. There's no easy way for the staff to figure out which online documents to look at when doing the closing procedures.

So my other big project for the day was to pull all that information into one, easy to access document that both the staff and the security monitor can use -- AND to properly label any other documentation that the security monitor and closing staff might need. Mission accomplished! (I think!)

Uh-oh -- the air conditioning in the library just went off -- again! Curses!

Monday, June 08, 2009

What do you do with a surly teenager?

Calling all parenting experts! Or just people who have management experience. How would you respond in this situation.

Some "friends" of ours have two daughters. One is 14. We'll call her "teenager". The other is 11. We'll call her "little sister". This family has fallen into a pattern of behavior that so far only results in the parents getting angry, teenager sulking and little sister ending up stuck in the middle.

Sample scenario. Parents want the whole family to do something together. It may be running errands, attending a church event or even just going for a walk in the park.

When parents bring up the topic, teenager says that she does not want any part of it and wants to know why parents are always punishing her by making her do things she does not want to do. Parents acquiesce and say that teenager does not have to go. Little sister says she will go, so parents end up going with little sister and little sister ends up with a small reward, usually a trip to the ice cream store.

Upon returning home, teenager finds out that a reward had been made and is now even angrier because, had she known that she was going to get a reward for going, she would have gladly gone along. Parents tell her it was her choice, but teenage still storms off to her room and slams the door in typical teen fashion. What follows is parents lecturing about how slamming doors is not appropriate and it will not be done, etc. etc. End result : no one is pleased with the outcome. Well, maybe little sister is, but she feels guilty for getting the reward and knows that she will pay for her actions at a later date somehow from teenager.

So, parents know that they have fallen into a pattern. Parents know they need to do something unexpected to break the pattern, but what? They are stumped. In recent cases, teenager has been forced to go along with the family and even gets the same reward, but chooses to remind the rest of the family that she does not want to be there and is merely being forced to do so.

Some options:

The "over my dead body" approach. Parents realize they can deliver one whopping, screaming speech to teenager about disrespect and backtalk and threaten and deliver the "as long as you're under my roof..." speech.

The "what goes around comes around" approach. When teenager balks at family participation, parents still acquiesce, however, the next time teenager wants something, parents act like teenager does, telling teenager that they don't want to take her to the mall or they take her to the mall but remind teenager constantly that they don't want to do it.

Keep doing the same thing. Maybe teenager will finally "get it" one day and figure out that to do things as a family when the parents want the family to be together results in rewards for everyone.

There has to be at least one other approach, doesn't there?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tra-la, it's May...

And in the blink of an eye, May has come and gone. I have many, many good reasons for not posting during May.

What did we have in May?
Honors band
A visit from the Wilders
Mission trip fund raisers and meetings
Final choir concert
Lost season finale party
Friday night wine tasting parties
Band world tour (I got to chaperone!)
School field trips
Final band concert
School fund raisers
Final flute choir performance
Bell choir rehearsals
Final school projects
Weekend in Michigan
8th grade banquet
8th grade graduation
Job interview round one
Poplar Creek Library grand re-opening

And on top of all that, I've been going to a cardiologist to monitor a developing heart condition. I had both an echocardiogram and CT angiography to monitor my enlarged aorta, a condition which my father had surgery for last summer. The probable culprit is a condition called Marfan's Syndrome. My father probably has it and I probably have it and both our kids exhibit several of the symptoms of it as well. Right now we're in the process of getting a formal diagnosis (or not) and getting a second opinion from another cardiologist to determine the best course of treatment at this point. I'm sure learning a lot about how the HMO works!

So I've had a lot on my mind. We're getting Hannah ready for high school, trying to figure out how summer school works, getting Michelle ready for Walcamp, making plans for summer in general.

It's been a month of highs and lows. I'm glad it's finally behind me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009



Blessings be with them, and eternal praise,
Who gave us nobler loves, and nobler cares!
The Poets, who on earth have made us heirs
Of truth, and pure delight, by heavenly lays.
O might my name be numbered among theirs,
Then gladly would I end my mortal days!”

William Wordsworth

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



Maiden, though thy heart may quail
And thy quivering lip grow pale,
Read the Bellman's tragic tale!

Is it life of which it tells?
Of a pulse that sinks and swells
Never lacking chime of bells?

Bells of sorrow, bells of cheer,
Easter, Christmas, glad New Year,
Still they sound, afar, anear.

So may Life's sweet bells for thee,
In the summers yet to be,
Evermore make melody!

Lewis Carroll

Monday, April 27, 2009

Your turn: submit a limerick

I can't think of anything good for today's post, so it's up to you, readers.

Today's assignment: submit a limerick.

It could be an old favorite, or if you're in need of a challenge, submit one of your own.....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Arbor Day

Plant a Tree

He who plants a tree
Plants a hope.
Rootlets up through fibres blindly grope;
Leaves unfold into horizons free.
So man's life must climb
From the clods of time
Unto heavens sublime.
Canst thou prophesy, thou little tree,
What the glory of thy boughs shall be?

He who plants a tree
Plants a joy;
Plants a comfort that will never cloy;
Every day a fresh reality,
Beautiful and strong,
To whose shelter throng
Creatures blithe wih song.
If thou couldst but know, thou happy tree,
Of the bliss that shall inhabit thee!

He who plants a tree,--
He plants peace.
Under its green curtains jargons cease.
Leaf and zephyr murmur soothingly;
Shadows soft with sleep
Down tired eyelids creep,
Balm of slumber deep.
Never has thou dreamed, thou blessèd tree,
Of the benediction thou shalt be.

He who plants a tree,--
He plants youth;
Vigor won for centuries in sooth;
Life of time, that hints eternity!
Boughs their strength uprear:
New shoots, every year,
On old growths appear;
Thou shalt teach the ages, sturdy tree,
Youth of soul is immortality.

He who plants a tree,--
He plants love,
Tents of coolness spreading out above
Wayfarers he may not live to see.
Gifts that grow are best;
Hands that bless are blest;
Plant! life does the rest!
Heaven and earth help him who plants a tree,
And his work its own reward shall be.

Lucy Larcom

Friday, April 24, 2009


On Shakespear[e]

What needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones
The labor of an age in pilèd stones?
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Has built thyself a livelong monument.
For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavoring art,
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took;
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving,
And so sepulchred in such pomp dost lie
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

John Milton

Thursday, April 23, 2009


It is widely held that William Shakespeare was born this day in 1564. It is a matter of historical record that he did die on this day, 1616.

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosèd here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Patriot's Day

Lines Suggested by the Graves of Two English Soldiers on Concord Battle-Ground

The same good blood that now refills
The dotard Orient's shrunken veins,
The same whose vigor westward thrills,
Bursting Nevada's silver chains,
Poured here upon the April grass,
Freckled with red the herbage new;
On reeled the battle's trampling mass,
Back to the ash the bluebird flew.

Poured here in vain;—that sturdy blood
Was meant to make the earth more green,
But in a higher, gentler mood
Than broke this April noon serene;
Two graves are here: to mark the place,
At head and foot, an unhewn stone,
O'er which the herald lichens trace
The blazon of Oblivion.

These men were brave enough, and true
To the hired soldier's bull-dog creed;
What brought them here they never knew,
They fought as suits the English breed:
They came three thousand miles, and died,
To keep the Past upon its throne;
Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,
Their English mother made her moan.

The turf that covers them no thrill
Sends up to fire the heart and brain;
No stronger purpose nerves the will,
No hope renews its youth again:
From farm to farm the Concord glides,
And trails my fancy with its flow;
O'erhead the balanced hen-hawk slides,
Twinned in the river's heaven below.

But go, whose Bay State bosom stirs,
Proud of thy birth and neighbor's right,
Where sleep the heroic villagers
Borne red and stiff from Concord fight;
Thought Reuben, snatching down his gun,
Or Seth, as ebbed the life away,
What earthquake rifts would shoot and run
World-wide from that short April fray?

What then? With heart and hand they wrought,
According to their village light;
'T was for the Future that they fought,
Their rustic faith in what was right.
Upon earth's tragic stage they burst
Unsummoned, in the humble sock;
Theirs the fifth act; the curtain first
Rose long ago on Charles's block.

Their graves have voices; if they threw
Dice charged with fates beyond their ken,
Yet to their instincts they were true,
And had the genius to be men.
Fine privilege of Freedom's host,
Of humblest soldiers for the Right!—
Age after age ye hold your post,
Your graves send courage forth, and might.

James Russell Lowell

Monday, April 20, 2009


I got a gal
In Kalamazoo.
Don't wanna boast,
But I know she's the toast
Of Kalamazoo zoo zoo, zoo zoo zoo.
Years have gone by,
My, my, how she grew.
I liked her looks
When I carried her books
In Kalamazoo zoo zoo zoo zoo.
I'm gonna send a wire,
Hoppin' on a flyer,
Leavin' today.
Am I dreamin'
I can hear her screamin',
“Hiya, Mister Jackson,”
Ev'rything's O K
O oh, what a gal,
A real pipperoo.
I'll make my bid
For that freckle-faced kid
I'm hurrying to.
I'm goin' to Michigan to
See the sweetest gal
In Kalamazoo.
Zoo zoo zoo zoo,

Mack Gordon

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Your turn: submit a haiku

Now it's your turn to work, readers. Today's assignment: submit a haiku poem.

It could be one that you are personally fond of , or write your own!

Possible topics:
A sweaty toothed mad man
The Office

Have fun!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


The Kinkaiders


You ask what place I like the best,
The sand hills, O the old sand hills;
The place Kinkaiders make their home,
And prairie chickens freely roam.

 In all Nebraska's wide domain
 'Tis the place we long to see again;
 The sand hills are the very best,
 She is the queen of all the rest.


The corn we raise is our delight,
The melons, too, are out of sight.
Potatoes grown are extra fine
And can't be beat in any clime.


The peaceful cows in pastures dream
And furnish us with golden cream,
So I shall keep my Kinkaid home
And never far away shall roam.

 Then let us all with hearts sincere
 Thank him for what has brought us here,
 And for the homestead law he made,
 This noble Moses P. Kinkaid.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I cannot think the glorious world of mind,
 Embalm'd in books, which I can only see
In patches, though I read my moments blind,
Is to be lost to me.

I have a thought that, as we live elsewhere,
 So will those dear creations of the brain;
That what I lose unread, I'll find, and there
Take up my joy again.

O then the bliss of blisses, to be freed
 From all the wants by which the world is driven;
With liberty and endless time to read
The libraries of Heaven!

Robert Leighton

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In honor of my Grandmothers, Cora Frank and Irma Nothwehr


I know what makes a Grandma grand—she always has a treat,
A cookie or a piece of cake or apple pie to eat,
And when we go to visit her she gets the good things out,
And we don't have to ask for more as long as she's about.
Then Ma will say:
“That's all to-day;
Don't give them any more;
You'll make them ill.
I know you will,
To-night we'll walk the floor.”

A Grandma never punishes or says that we are bad,
She always takes us on her knee and tells us she is glad
To have us racing round the house, and when we get too smart,
An' Pa an' Ma are awful cross, she always takes our part.
And once when I
Had told a lie
And had to go to bed
Without my tea,
She came to me
And brought me jam and bread.

Ma says it's funny Grandma acts the way she does to-day;
When she was Grandma's little girl she couldn't disobey,
Or only eat the things she liked an' get the stomach ache,
Or pick the chocolate frosting off an' never touch the cake.
When she was bad
She always had
The punishment to bear,
But we can be
Much worse than she
An' Grandma doesn't care.

Pa says that Grandmas are alike; their job of training's done,
They don't like tears to come along and spoil the children's fun.
They love to see the youngsters eat, an', though it isn't right.
They never have to walk the floor or stay up all the night.
An' children know
The times they go
To Grandma's house to play,
Though bad they are,
Their Ma and Pa
Can't have a word to say.

Edgar Albert Guest

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

RIP Abraham Lincoln, 1865

O Captain! my Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Walt Whitman

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

RIP Titanic, 1912

The Convergence of the Twain

In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

Steel chambers, late the pyres
Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.

Over the mirrors meant
To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls--grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.

Jewels in joy designed
To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.

Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?" . . .

Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything

Prepared a sinister mate
For her--so gaily great--
A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.

And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

Alien they seemed to be:
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,

Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event,

Till the Spinner of the Years
Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.

Thomas Hardy

Monday, April 13, 2009

This day, in 1387, would have been the first day of the fictional pilgrimage that takes place in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter poem

The Cross and the Tomb

“He died,” saith the cross, “my very name”
 Was a hated thing and a word of shame;
But since Christ hung on my arms out-spread,
 With nails in His hands and thorns on His head,

They do but measure—set high, flung wide—
 The measureless love of the Crucified.”
“He rose,” said the tomb, “I was dark and drear,
 And the sound of my name wove a spell of fear;

But the Lord of Life in my depths hath lain
 To break Death's power and rend his chain;
And a light streams forth from my open door,
 For the Lord is risen; He dies no more.”

Annie Johnson Flint

Saturday, April 11, 2009


O Saviour of a World Undone

1. O Saviour of a world undone!
Whose dying sorrows blot the sun,
Whose painful groans and bowing head
Could rend the vail and wake the dead,
Say, from that execrated tree
Descends the ruddy tide for me?

2. For me did he who reigns above,
The object of paternal love,
Consent a servant's form to bear
That I a kingly crown might wear?
Is his deep loss my boundless gain,
And comes my victory from his pain?

3. O, let me own the deep decree
That wounded him and rescued me!
His death, his cross, his funeral sleep,
Instruct repentance how to weep;
He poured for me the vital flood;
My tears shall mingle with his blood.

Leonard Withington

Friday, April 10, 2009


When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising
Haply I think on thee and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

William Shakespeare

Thursday, April 09, 2009


OUR Land—our Home!—the common home indeed
 Of soil-born children and adopted ones—
 The stately daughters and the stalwart sons
Of Industry:—All greeting and god-speed!
O home to proudly live for, and, if need
 Be, proudly die for, with the roar of guns
 Blent with our latest prayer.—So died men once. . . .
Lo, Peace! . . . As we look on the land They freed—
Its harvest all in ocean-overflow
Poured round autumnal coasts in billowy gold—
  Its corn and wine and balmèd fruits and flow'rs,—
We know the exaltation that they know
 Who now, steadfast inheritors, behold
  The Land Elysian, marveling “This is ours!”

James Whitcomb Riley

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Anyone know why this is today's pick?

Hey Jude

Hey Jude, don't make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.

Hey Jude, don't be afraid.
You were made to go out and get her.
The minute you let her under your skin,
Then you begin to make it better.

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain,
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders.
For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder.

Na na na na na na, na na na, hey Jude...

Hey Jude, don't let me down.
You have found her, now go and get her.
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin,
You're waiting for someone to perform with.
And don't you know that it's just you, hey Jude, you'll do,
The movement you need is on your shoulder.

Na na na na na na, na na na, hey Jude...

Hey Jude, don't make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her under your skin,
Then you'll begin to make it
Better better better better better better, oh.

Na na na na na na, na na na, hey Jude...

Paul McCartney

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

William Wordsworth born today, 1770

Composed by the Sea-Shore

What mischief cleaves to unsubdued regret,
How fancy sickens by vague hopes beset;
How baffled projects on the spirit prey,
And fruitless wishes eat the heart away,
The Sailor knows; he best, whose lot is cast
On the relentless sea that holds him fast
On chance dependent, and the fickle star
Of power, through long and melancholy war.
O sad it is, in sight of foreign shores,
Daily to think on old familiar doors,
Hearths loved in childhood, and ancestral floors;
Or, tossed about along a waste of foam,
To ruminate on that delightful home
Which with the dear Betrothèd was to come;
Or came and was and is, yet meets the eye
Never but in the world of memory;
Or in a dream recalled, whose smoothest range
Is crossed by knowledge, or by dread, of change,
And if not so, whose perfect joy makes sleep
A thing too bright for breathing man to keep.
Hail to the virtues which that perilous life
Extracts from Nature's elemental strife;
And welcome glory won in battles fought
As bravely as the foe was keenly sought.
But to each gallant Captain and his crew
A less imperious sympathy is due,
Such as my verse now yields, while moonbeams play
On the mute sea in this unruffled bay;
Such as will promptly flow from every breast,
Where good men, disappointed in the quest
Of wealth and power and honours, long for rest;
Or, having known the splendours of success,
Sigh for the obscurities of happiness.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis


When Louis came home to the flat,
  he hung up his coat and his hat,
He gazed all around, but no wifey he found,
  so he said, “Where can Flossie be at?”
A note on the table he spied,
  he read it just once, then he cried.
It ran, “Louis dear, it's too slow for me here,
  so I think I will go for a ride.

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair ,
Don't tell me the lights are shining
   any place but there ;
We will dance the Hoochee Koochee ,
   I will be your tootsie wootsie ;
If you will meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair .”


The dresses that hung in the hall
  were gone, she had taken them all;
She took all his rings and the rest of his things;
  the picture he missed from the wall.
“What! moving!” the janitor said,
  “your rent is paid three months ahead.”
“What good is the flat?” said poor Louis, “read that.”
  And the janitor smiled as he read:

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair ,
Don't tell me the lights are shining
   any place but there;
We will dance the Hoochee Koochee ,
   I will be your tootsie wootsie;
If you will meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair .”


Lew Woods was the name of a horse,
  that ran at the New Orleans course,
I played him one day for a dollar each way,
  and I charged it to profit and loss;
He started to run in the wet,
  the son of a gun's running yet,
That crazy old skate, he made straight for the gate,
  and I hollered, “Hey Lew! don't forget.”

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair ,
Take my tip and don't stop running
   until you are there;
You're a wonder that's no liesky ,
   if you don't fall down and diesky ,
Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair .


There came to the gay tenderloin,
  a Jay who had money to burn,
The poor simple soul, showed a girlie his roll,
  and she said, “for some wine dear, I yearn.”
A bottle and bird right away,
  she touched him then said, “I can't stay.”
He sighed, “Tell me, sweet, where can you and I meet?”
  and the orchestra started to play.

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair ,
Don't tell me the lights are shining
   any place but there ;
I'll be waiting there, my honey ,
   to divorce you from your money ,
Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair .


The clerks in the bank said, “It's queer,
  did anyone see the cashier?
It's way after time, and we haven't a dime,
  we can't open the safe 'till he's here.”
The President shook his gray head,
  “Send out for an expert,” he said,
The door's opened wide, not a cent was inside,
  just a card, that was all, and it read:

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair ,
All the boys and all the girls
   are going to be there ;
If they ask about the cashier ,
   you can say he cuts a dash here ,
Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair .


In church sat a man near the door,
  asleep, he was starting to snore,
The Minister rose, and he said, “We will close
  singing, Meet on the Beautiful Shore.”
The man in the back then awoke,
  he caught the last words that he spoke;
He said, “Parson White, you can meet me alright,
  but The Beautiful Shore is a joke.”

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair ,
Don't tell me the lights are shining
   any place but there ;
I'll be waiting at the station ,
   for the whole darned congregation ,
Meet me in St. Louis, Louis ,
   meet me at the fair .

Andrew B. Sterling

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Algernon Charles Swinburne born today, 1837


When the fields catch flower
 And the underwood is green,
And from bower unto bower
 The songs of the birds begin,
 I sing with sighing between.
When I laugh and sing,
 I am heavy at heart for my sin;
I am sad in the spring
 For my love that I shall not win,
For a foolish thing.

This profit I have of my woe,
 That I know, as I sing,
I know he will needs have it so
 Who is master and king,
 Who is lord of the spirit of spring.
I will serve her and will not spare
 Till her pity awake,
Who is good, who is pure, who is fair,
 Even her for whose sake
Love hath ta'en me and slain unaware.

O my lord, O love,
 I have laid my life at thy feet;
Have thy will thereof,
 Do as it please thee with it,
 For what shall please thee is sweet.
I am come unto thee
 To do thee service, O Love;
Yet cannot I see
 Thou wilt take any pity thereof,
And mercy on me.

But the grace I have long time sought.
 Comes never in sight,
If in her it abideth not,
 Through thy mercy and might,
 Whose heart is the world's delight.
Thou hast sworn without fail I shall die,
 For my heart is set
On what hurts me, I wot not why,
 But cannot forget
What I love, what I sing for and sigh.

She is worthy of praise,
 For this grief of her giving is worth
All the joy of my days
 That lie between death's day and birth,
 All the lordship of things upon earth.
Nay, what have I said?
 I would not be glad if I could;
My dream and my dread
 Are of her, and for her sake I would
That my life were fled.

Lo, sweet, if I durst not pray to you,
 Then were I dead;
If I sang not a little to say to you,
 (Could it be said)
 O my love, how my heart would be fed;
Ah, sweet, who hast hold of my heart,
 For thy love's sake I live,
Do but tell me, ere either depart,
 What a lover may give
For a woman so fair as thou art.

The lovers that disbelieve,
 False rumors shall grieve
And evil-speaking shall part.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Way down upon the Wabash,
Sich land was never known,
If Adam had passed over it,
The soil he'd surely own.

He'd think it was the garden,
He'd played in when a boy,
And straight pronounce it Eden,
In the State of Elanoy.

Then move your family westward,
Good health you will enjoy,
And rise to wealth and honor,
In the State of Elanoy.


'Twas here the Queen of Sheba came,
With Solomon of old,
With an ass-load of spices,
Pomegranates and fine gold.

And when she saw this lovely land,
Her heart was filled with joy,
Straightway she said,
“I'd like to be a Queen in Elanoy!”

Then move your family westward,
Good health you will enjoy,
And rise to wealth and honor,
In the State of Elanoy.


She's bounded by the Wabash,
The Ohio and the Lakes,
She's crawfish in the swampy lands,
The milk-sick and the shakes;

But these are slight diversions,
And take not from the joy
Of living in this garden land,
The State of Elanoy.

Then move your family westward,
Good health you will enjoy,
And rise to wealth and honor,
In the State of Elanoy.

Friday, April 03, 2009

George Herbert born today, 1593


The Day is spent, and hath his will on me:
 I and the Sun have run our races,
 I went the slower, yet more paces,
For I decay, not he.

Lord make my losses up, and set me free:
 That I who cannot now by day
 Look on his daring brightness, may
Shine then more bright than he.

If thou defer this light, then shadow me:
 Lest that the Night, earth's gloomy shade,
 Fouling her nest, my earth invade,
As if shades knew not Thee.

But Thou art Light and Darkness both together:
 If that be dark we cannot see:
 The sun is darker than a Tree,
And thou more dark than either.

Yet Thou art not so dark, since I know this,
 But that my darkness may touch thine:
 And hope, that may teach it to shine,
Since Light thy Darkness is.

O let my Soul, whose keys I must deliver
 Into the hands of senseless Dreams
 Which know not thee, suck in thy beams
And wake with thee for ever.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


A Triolet

Molly raised shy eyes to me,
On an April day;
Close we stood beneath a tree;
Molly raised shy eyes to me,
Shining sweet and wistfully,
Wet and yet quite gay;
Molly raised shy eyes to me,
On an April day

Angelina Weld Grimke

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April is Poetry Month

Oh Did You Hear?

Oh did you hear?
The President has measles,
The Principal has just burned down the school,
Your hair is filled with jam
and purple weasels

April Fool!

Shel Silverstein

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It Only Takes a Recipe to Get a Meal a Cookin'

Last night a fellow blogger and my dear sister in law, Virtual Farmgirl posed a question to her readers: Where do you get your recipes?
That question has been stewing in my mind ever since.
So many thoughts are whirling round that I knew a mere "comment" would not answer the question hence this blog entry.
Last evening just prior to to my reading of the VFG post of the day, I had received two requests for recipes from friends. Friends are a great source. Especially if they make the meal for you and you get to try it out before you make it.
One of them called me the "Great Goddess of the Crock Pot". Which is so funny to me as I do not consider myself some amazing cook.
The other friend saw my Facebook status update that spoke of a pork dish I was making for dinner. The internet and Facebook playing a vital role in these interactions.
Many people comment on Facebook that I must be some fancy amazing cook.
Meals are my responsibility in our household and therefore my status reflects the fact that is what I am doing at that point in time.
Common place everyday meals are what happen most. Take out from Taco Bell, Wendys or the Commander and not to mention Fish sticks all make an appearance at the Arndt family table.
Sadly, I am not cooking up something every night of the week. Three to five times a week and I feel good about it.
My recipe sources are both common, many and varied.
I love to use recipes from the backs and sides of packaging of envelopes, cans and boxes of pantry items also.

Google is always a quick and almost foolproof source for me.
VFG likes as do I. I also like
I love the Food Network's Barefoot Contessa and will often go and print out the recipes of hers that I like and then make them. I store these and all of printed out internet recipes in a black folder in my kitchen.

One of my favorite Go To Cooks is my Aunt Camille. She has sent many a wonderful recipe for my daughters to use in 4H or the perfect recipe for a dinner party that I am hosting.
I have a recipe box filled with cards handwritten by the dear soul who gave them to me. A lot of these are from my mother in law, Rose. Recipes from Rose are stars in my collection.
Speaking of collections... my collection of cookbooks fills a full shelf of the bookcase. I refer to them often for favorites that we have tried.
The most treasured recipes are the ones that are in my head and are not written down.
These come from my mother and my grandmothers.
I stood beside them stirring and beating and watching.
My interactions with them are the foundations of my recipe box in my head.
Clearly a lot of technique and methods were gleaned from these experiences from my matriarchs.
Cooking is fun to me and its strong ties to my family history make it a tradition worthy of carrying on into the future with my daughters. VFG and my brother put together a recipe booklet as a gift to her family. This is a way of preserving all that great food without a Mason jar. A worthy goal for me.
Thanks VFG for the Food for Thought. Visit her blog at

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Big sigh of relief

Aaaaah! Time to relax -- finally! We made it through the craziness of the past couple of weeks.
VIP day is over.
School operetta is over.
Solo contest is over. (4 gold medals for the Blackwell girls! Yay!)
Top Chef is over.
The bake sale is over.
Flute choir performance is over.
Piano at Family in Faith is over.
Hannah's show at the Park District is over.

I feel as though a great weight has been lifted. I don't think we have anything on the schedule for any evening this week - other than Lent service, which doesn't require me to do anything but show up.

The relief I feel is only slightly dampened by the fact that I'm kind of ticked off at my boss and some of the management staff at work. I finally spoke up during a meeting when I might have normally just kept my mouth shut, which felt good, but then there was some confusion about a scheduled display and my boss asked me to do something that I had already been doing. Which I just find annoying -- like she doesn't trust me to do my job.

Anyway, I choose not to let that get to me. Stuff at work always passes. And in 12 days we'll be on our way "home" to Disneyworld!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

William Carlos Williams

A Celebration

A middle-northern March, now as always—
gusts from the South broken against cold winds—
but from under, as if a slow hand lifted a tide,
it moves—not into April—into a second March,

the old skin of wind-clear scales dropping
upon the mold: this is the shadow projects the tree
upward causing the sun to shine in his sphere.
So we will put on our pink felt hat—new last year!
—newer this by virtue of brown eyes turning back
the seasons—and let us walk to the orchid-house,
see the flowers will take the prize tomorrow
at the Palace.
Stop here, these are our oleanders.
When they are in bloom—
You would waste words
It is clearer to me than if the pink
were on the branch. It would be a searching in
a colored cloud to reveal that which now, huskless,
shows the very reason for their being.

And these the orange-trees, in blossom—no need
to tell with this weight of perfume in the air.
If it were not so dark in this shed one could better
see the white.
It is that very perfume
has drawn the darkness down among the leaves.
Do I speak clearly enough?
It is this darkness reveals that which darkness alone
loosens and sets spinning on waxen wings—
not the touch of a finger-tip, not the motion
of a sigh. A too heavy sweetness proves
its own caretaker.
And here are the orchids!
Never having seen
such gaiety I will read these flowers for you:
This is an odd January, died—in Villon's time.
Snow, this is and this the stain of a violet
grew in that place the spring that foresaw its own doom.

And this, a certain July from Iceland:
a young woman of that place
breathed it toward the South. It took root there.
The color ran true but the plant is small.

This falling spray of snow-flakes is
a handful of dead Februaries
prayed into flower by Rafael Arévalo Martínez
of Guatemala.
Here's that old friend who
went by my side so many years: this full, fragile
head of veined lavender. Oh that April
that we first went with our stiff lusts
leaving the city behind, out to the green hill—
May, they said she was. A hand for all of us:
this branch of blue butterflies tied to this stem.

June is a yellow cup I'll not name; August
the over-heavy one. And here are—
russet and shiny, all but March. And March?
Ah, March—
Flowers are a tiresome pastime.
One has a wish to shake them from their pots
root and stem, for the sun to gnaw.

Walk out again into the cold and saunter home
to the fire. This day has blossomed long enough.
I have wiped out the red night and lit a blaze
instead which will at least warm our hands
and stir up the talk.
I think we have kept fair time.
Time is a green orchid.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pixar rumors

Could it be true? Could there be a sequel to Monsters, Inc.? Wouldn't that be wonderful to see Boo and Sulley reunited?

I do agree with several of the commenters, though. The movie that really does scream for a sequel would be The Incredibles. How awesome to see Jack-Jack use his powers some more!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Busy week continued

Whew! Made it through the soup supper last night. Nearly every drop of my chili was gone. I used the soup starter from Mrs. Grass. I just added hamburger, canned tomatoes, and kidney beans. Delish!

So the crazy week continues, but the worst days are over -- I think. Tomorrow night we're off to a wine tasting event out in Genoa.

It turns out I am NOT playing piano for church Saturday night! Yay! So Saturday my folks are coming in and we're all going to go see Hannah's play. Tech week is wearing her out, but it's good for her.

For part of the play, she's a tourist, so they can have tourist-related props. She wants to bring my digital camera as a prop and use it to actually take pictures of her friends during the performance. Not too bad of an idea, really, but I will need to show her how to shut of the flash, first. Don't want to temporarily blind anyone.

Sunday morning Hannah "gets" to read her confirmation essay aloud in church. Her Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding". She wrote a nice essay but opted not to use my suggestion which was something along these lines:

I play a lot of video games and when I'm stuck and need help, I use a game guide or online FAQ to help me know what to do. The Bible is like a game guide or FAQ on how to live your life. When life gets difficult and we need help, we should 'lean not on our own understanding' and turn to God's Word for direction.

Get the idea? I think it would have been a nice analogy, but what do I know?

Post Script:
9 more days until solo contest
22 more days until Disney!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Band practice: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the clarinet

Okay, so I'll never love the clarinet. Especially after being subjected to the squeaking and squawking of no less than SIX beginning clarinet students. Oh, there were supposed to be seven, but one was a no-show.

Speaking of no-shows....

That pretty much describes my first night of practice with the band solo kids last night. The number of participants was down -- way down. I think there were about 40 kids two years ago and there were close to 35 kids last year. This year I think the number is closer to 25.

But the numbers in band at our school are also down. In a way, that's good. The kids who really don't want to be there are gone, so the kids that want to be there can do a better job. In fact, the director told me that his 6th graders have undergone an amazing transformation of improvement lately. When he asked them if they had any reason why, every kid said it was because two kids dropped out of band. Interesting....

Anyway, it was a long night of rehearsal last night, which involved us getting moved to three different rooms over the course of the evening. Frustrating, but given we had so few kids, we really stayed on schedule for a change.

The band director only made two kids cry, which is, I believe, the same number as last year. There was a second year trumpet player who was doing just fine, but who just got flustered when playing with the piano. I may extend the offer to do some extra practice with him since he's so close to doing a great job. The other kid really was quite far behind the others in his group. Again, he got flustered, but in this case, he really didn't put in any of the work he needed.

That being said, it's a pretty good crop of kids this time around. Nearly every one of them is very close to being ready, with only a few minor things to work out in their songs. There's always the fun of the beginning students who are soooooo nervous and who struggle to count rests so they come in when they aren't supposed to.

We have one more big practice next week. We'll see how much better they are then.....

New six word motto for America?

We are too big to fail.

I don't know that I agree. What do you think?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The storm is starting

It's all starting to get crazy. Friday night was the Disney gig -- what a blast! We sat through a presentation about the DVC and then danced the night away with Minnie and Mickey. We even got to meet Tinkerbell! How fun!!

Saturday morning I braved the snowstorm to accompany a high schooler for her flute solo. It took me a lot longer to get to the HS, so I was grateful that the judge was running late. I had wanted to take the kids to a science expo in the afternoon, but I just didn't want to go out in the snow. Saturday night was piano at church followed by the "marriage celebration".

Sunday morning was more piano at church -- what a blast! It's a joy playing with such talented musicians. Then we had a lovely lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup. My children claimed that they didn't like tomato soup, but we had tomato basil soup from Progresso. Yum!

Hannah had play practice tonight. She has play practice every night this week. Friday night is opening night. She said that she's already tired but she loves it.

Dave, Michelle and I had our pizza and a movie night. We watched "The Iron Giant". If you haven't seen this film, I highly recommend it. It was a pleasure to watch. We usually watch a Disney film, but I pointed out that this movie was directed by none other than the super talented Brad Bird -- director of another movie we all love -- The Incredibles!

Stay tuned for the next chapter in my saga of staying sane for the next two weeks. By March 8, we'll be back to normal and counting down the days until Spring Break!

Friday, February 20, 2009

3 things

What I wish I could do tonight: Watch the entire Lord of the Rings DVD trilogy back to back.

What I ought to do tonight: Practice the piano for band contest.

What I will actually do tonight: Meet and greet at the Disney Vacation Club. I probably will fit some piano practice in, too.

It's so easy to tell my posts from Maria's isn't it?

A Holding Place for Memories

As I age I have been thinking back and remembering the past more and more.
In some cases, all I have left of people and places are their memories.
My mother was an accredited flower show judge and we always had fresh flowers and arrangements in our home.
One thing she did was make a huge grapevine wreath from vines in our 639 Sycamore home's yard.
She took the wreath and filled it with dried flowers.
From then on whenever we had a flower from a special occasion (prom, wedding, birth, death...) we would add a flower from that occasion to the wreath.
When we shared my mother's possessions, my sister got the wreath and it is beautiful in her home.
Lisa is in 4H and wanted to do a dried flower wreath. We bought a grapevine wreath at a craft store and added flowers that I gathered from my mother's home and had boxed until I knew what to do with them. She also used a fresh floral arrangement from my aunt and uncle that I have been drying for two years. That together with a few of our memory flowers and now we have a memory wreath of our own! it is pictured above. Thank God for my mother and her talent and great ideas. What a joy to be able to continue her tradition by beginning one on our own!
“The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil, of pain, and hunger, and mosquitoes and silly people.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ahh Memories... A Blast from the past!

Rick found this in his Shakespeare collection.
Thought you would all enjoy this.
Steve... really causing a problem ...all those years ago
and still today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top Chef prediction for tonight

Yay! It's Top Chef night.

I'm afraid that it's going to be Fabio's turn to pack his knives and go. But there will be some serious cheering in my house if Leah gets sent home!
I do hope Carla is still around when the night is over.

It makes me a little sad to think that the season is so close to being over. After tonight there will only be four chefs left.

Suggestion for the day

From the library suggestion box:

"Develop a system that warns people about possible offensive material in novels. Cracker Barrel does it -- you can too! Thanks!"

Sure, while we're at it, let's develop a system for warning me when a suggestion in the suggestion box might make me roll my eyes! Spleesh!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Move over Top Chef

Because you're about to be Chopped!

Well, not really. Sunday night, instead of getting 7 hours of sleep, I stayed up to watch a rerun of Ted Allen's new show on the Food Network. I'll be reviewing it so that you can save the time of watching it yourself.

The premise has potential. They start with 4 chefs. Each chef has to prepare a 3 course dinner; appetizer, entree, dessert. May the best chef win.

But here's the twist. Each chef has only 30 minutes to prepare each course and they are given a basket with mystery ingredients that they must use in their dish. And after each course is prepared and presented to the judges, one of the chefs is -- CHOPPED!

Kind of hard to explain, but here's how the episode I watched went. The four chefs were given their basket of ingredients. All I remember is that it had bran flakes in there with a few other things. So they have 30 minutes and cook like crazy. They serve the dishes to the judges. The judges eat, talk to the chefs and make a decision. They call the chefs out and the losing dish is in front of them, but with a cover on. Ted Allen reveals the losing dish and that chef is out of the competition. It's like the quick fire challenge on steroids.

Then it's on to round 2. The chefs get new baskets with new ingredients and get another 30 minutes to cook. Dishes are eaten judged and another chef is chopped. So they finally get to dessert and it's the last 2 chefs and the winner gets $10,000.

Conceptually, I think the show works. Where it fell short was in execution. (Do I sound like a Top Chef judge or what?)

First off, Ted Allen is too nice. He tries to be so serious and dramatic, which doesn't seem to me to fit his personality. They of course take a commercial break before they announce the losing chef from each round and Ted says "who will go on and who will be --CHOPPED?" It just doesn't work coming from him. I've seen him as a judge on Top Chef and he just doesn't have that Anthony Bourdain persona that the show needs. It's like he's trying to be the chairman from Iron Chef, but I'm not buying it.

Second, Chopped has a lousy soundtrack. Top Chef has a great soundtrack! Actually, I can barely remember the music from Chopped. Don't underestimate the power of a good soundtrack.

Next, I have a problem with the way they reveal the loser from each round. They have the losing dish on a plate covered with a metal dish. To reveal the loser, they remove the cover. Why draw attention to the losing dish? Wouldn't you rather see the winning dish? I guess that's just me.

Last, and this probably why the show won't have the popularity of other cooking reality shows, each episode starts with four chefs and is down to one at the end. It's not enough time to care about the competitors. Why should I care who gets chopped? I've only known that person for a few minutes.

At least on the Food Network Challenge the competitors are all on for the entire show, allowing you to get to know them better -- and there's only one challenge, not 3, and they usually know what the challenge is, so they are prepared to excel.

With the limited cooking time and the mystery ingredients, the competitors don't have much flexibility in what they cook.

For all these reasons, this program will not go into my regular TV watching lineup. It will be -- CHOPPED.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

3 day recap


For once, I was excited about work again. All the final pieces of my "Hats off to Lincoln" contests are falling into place. It will be over soon.

I came up with an idea for a grant. It will be a lot of work, putting a grant proposal together, but it will be good for me to try something new.

I started writing an article about marketing. I'm going to try to get it published in the ILA Reporter or some other library mag.

I was interviewed by a reporter from the Daily Herald about our Playaways.

LOST was fantastic! Confusing, as always, but I don't care.

Team Rainbow is finally gone from Top Chef! Carla and Fabio are still around (yay!), but I fear their days are numbered. Hosea is finally starting to sweat - ha!


Work went by quickly. Got my photo taken by a Daily Herald photographer. I'm still waiting for the article to appear.

Parent teacher conferences were good.

The Office was great -- I [heart] Andy!


Day off from work! The girls and I went to the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, had lunch at Portillo's and went to see Coraline. We tried to go ice skating, but open skate was closed due to a hockey tournament.

The kids had a video game fest while Dave and I watched the movie Pearl Harbor. Well, Dave watched it, I half watched, half read a book: X saves the world. I only paid attention when the actual bombing was going on and actual historic events were happening. I could care less about the love triangle between Josh Hartnett, Ben Afflec and whoever the girl was. Dave says I should watch Tora! Tora! Tora! He says I would like that better than Pearl Harbor.


So far I've done nothing but a little laundry, hemming a pair of pants, and going online. I think I should make an attempt to go outside since it's sunny, but I just want to read.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Ignorance can be bliss?

Are you an agnotologist?

What's going on? Normally, we expect society to progress, amassing deeper scientific understanding and basic facts every year. Knowledge only increases, right?

Robert Proctor doesn't think so. A historian of science at Stanford, Proctor points out that when it comes to many contentious subjects, our usual relationship to information is reversed: Ignorance increases.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Top Chef recap (finally)

I can't believe I haven't blogged about Top Chef this week. I think my mind was spinning from Lost that I couldn't properly focus on Top Chef.

Here's my problem with this season of TC. I already know who's going to win. I knew from episode one. There is no doubt in my mind about who is going to win. And there's no doubt in his mind, either. So there's not as much mystery surrounding this season. It's been very predictable for me.

But wait, you say, how can it be predictable when Stefan ended up with the losers? Well, this episode was different. The chefs' food wasn't being compared to their competitors. It was being compared to the guest competitors from other seasons. So if you lost in your one on one head to head, then you were going to end up on the chopping block.

But let's talk about Jeff. I knew he was going to be eliminated soon. The judges don't like dishes that are so complicated. He should have figured that out by now. I'll miss seeing his blue eyes every week, but I was prepared for his departure. I have to agree with Dave, too, at least he didn't cry. Thank you!

Who will be next? Fabio dodged a major bullet. If he doesn't start producing, though, he's going to pack his knives within the next couple of weeks for sure. Leah always surprises me. She acts so non-chalant and is constantly saying that she doesn't care, but she does manage to cook food that the judges like. Carla got lucky with her challenges this time around. I don't think she has the depth to see it through much longer.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


In the thick of a teeming snowfall
I saw my shadow on snow.
I turned and looked back up at the sky,
Where we still look to ask the why
Of everything below.

If I shed such a darkness,
If the reason was in me,
That shadow of mine should show in form
Against the shapeless shadow of storm,
How swarthy I must be.

I turned and looked back upward.
The whole sky was blue;
And the thick flakes floating at a pause
Were but frost knots on an airy gauze,
With the sun shining through.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do you abuse quotation marks?

The Shack

Okay, so I got it. I finally have my copy of The Shack. I should be able to start reading it tonight, though it is Lost and Top Chef night.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Manitoba Childe Roland

Last night a January wind was ripping at the shingles over our house and whistling a wolf song under the eaves.

I sat in a leather rocker and read to a six-year-old girl the Browning poem, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.

And her eyes had the haze of autumn hills and it was beautiful to her and she could not understand.

A man is crossing a big prairie, says the poem, and nothing happens—and he goes on and on—and it’s all lonesome and empty and nobody home.

And he goes on and on—and nothing happens—and he comes on a horse’s skull, dry bones of a dead horse—and you know more than ever it’s all lonesome and empty and nobody home.

And the man raises a horn to his lips and blows—he fixes a proud neck and forehead toward the empty sky and the empty land—and blows one last wonder-cry.

And as the shuttling automatic memory of man clicks off its results willy-nilly and inevitable as the snick of a mouse-trap or the trajectory of a 42-centimeter projectile,

I flash to the form of a man to his hips in snow drifts of Manitoba and Minnesota—in the sled derby run from Winnipeg to Minneapolis.

He is beaten in the race the first day out of Winnipeg—the lead dog is eaten by four team mates—and the man goes on and on—running while the other racers ride—running while the other racers sleep—

Lost in a blizzard twenty-four hours, repeating a circle of travel hour after hour—fighting the dogs who dig holes in the snow and whimper for sleep—pushing on—running and walking five hundred miles to the end of the race—almost a winner—one toe frozen, feet blistered and frost-bitten.

And I know why a thousand young men of the Northwest meet him in the finishing miles and yell cheers—I know why judges of the race call him a winner and give him a special prize even though he is a loser.

I know he kept under his shirt and around his thudding heart amid the blizzards of five hundred miles that one last wonder-cry of Childe Roland—and I told the six-year-old girl all about it.

And while the January wind was ripping at the shingles and whistling a wolf song under the eaves, her eyes had the haze of autumn hills and it was beautiful to her and she could not understand.

-Carl Sandburg

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where have I been?

Where have I been? I don't know! You read my last blog post. Guess I didn't go online much over the weekend. I did a lot of shopping, which I didn't really enjoy, but it was necessary. Bought new shoes for everyone in the family but me!

Saturday I had lunch with my former staff from Poplar Creek. Only one of them still works there. We convinced Kim to run for the Poplar Creek library board. So I'm helping her with that.

Scrapbooked on Monday, but I still have to glue everything down. Will post photos once I get that done. Did pictures from Hannah's birthday trip to Medieval Times. It turned out awesome!

Tuesday night was flute choir and various other musical duties at church.

Tonight is the return of LOST!! Yay! I'm excited about that, but not sure if I'm going to have time to watch Top Chef tonight or not. So don't tell me what happens!!

Seems like we're never on FB at the same time anymore. I miss you (Maria)!!! I'm starting to go a little crazy!

Been practicing the piano A LOT! Band solo competition is in 45 days. Unfortunately, I don't have all the music yet. Hope there's nothing too long and hard. The band director doesn't think we'll have that many kids go to competition. He says all the middle schoolers are lazy this year. So I've been nagging Hannah to practice really hard and blow him away!

Our Friday night plans just got canceled. We were supposed to go out with another couple for German food, but one of them is pretty sick with the flu, so we thought we had better postpone.

Boy this is an uninteresting blog post for the rest of you, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Photo Story

Photo 1 a butterfly visits the lattice work of the back porch
Photo 2 my bike
Photo 3 the stained glass panels window from the front hall
Photo 4 my porch swing

Monday, January 19, 2009


Every time I happen to look up and see the clock read 6:39, I heave a sorrowful sigh.
I have personal moment of silence in memory of my childhood home whose address was 639 Sycamore St.
Sadly, 639 was torn down in 1993 by eminent domain to build a football field for the junior high across the street.

A few days ago, Julie asked me to write a description of my childhood home.
I have a vivid and vast recollection of that home and its furnishings.
I will share however just a basic sketch of what I recall.
The front porch held my porch swing where I waited for my daddy and many a visitor.
As you entered the front door there was a small entry hall.
I remember when my mother redid the hall by adding new rugs, wall paper and stained glass panes.
She was HGTV before it existed
I inherited both the porch swing and the window with the stained glass panes she put in herself.
I shared a large bedroom with my sister. We divided that room in half as sisters do.
Our room had tall windows that went from floor to 8 feet or so up.
The living room had a light blue and green shag carpet and a gold velvet sleeper couch.
We watched TV there often fighting over both the show and who got to use the green vinyl bean bag.
639 had one bathroom with no shower only a tub.
The bathroom opened to 3 rooms: my brothers room, my parents' room, and the dining room.
People who visited got stressed out trying to get all those doors shut!
Our dining room was used for mostly entertaining which happened quite often in our home.
The dining room led to the kitchen.
The kitchen had red patterned carpet and an avocado green refrigerator. We ate most meals there.
What really stays in my mind though was going out the wood framed screen door from our kitchen to our back yard.
Going out that door with baskets of wet laundry to hang up on the line.
Going out that door to pick strawberries from the patch in the back.
Going out that door to get my pink, flowered banana seat bike off the white lattice covered back porch.
I can both hear and see it all in my mind as the house no longer stands.
Before the home was taken by wrecking ball, Rick and my mom stole over in the dark of night and removed the house numbers for me.
Just numbers.
Numbers that gave my home an address and a place to reside in my mind.
NOTE: The sketch above was an assignment for me in 7th grade art

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Observations on a weekend

The thing that bugs me most about working someplace "perfect" is everyone freaks out when one little thing goes wrong.

I love buy one get one half off -- especially when it comes to shoes.

I can't believe I picked out boots for my 13 year old without her opinion -- and she loves them!

Saturday mornings are for SLEEPING IN!!!!

There's nothing like a long lunch with good friends. Mixed in with a little local politics!

How can someone claim to be into contemporary praise music and not know "I could sing of Your love forever"?

It's pretty hard to mess up lasagna. If I can make it, anyone can!

Sunday mornings can be for sleeping in, too, once in a while.

Mmmmm, scrambled eggs.....

If the economy is so bad, why is it still so hard to find a parking space at the mall on a Sunday afternoon?

I also love buy one get one half off at Limited Too.

You know you're from Chicago when suddenly 13 degrees feels like a heat wave.

You just can't browse the clothing department at Target with a shopping cart.

No matter how hard you try, it seems like you always need something from Jewel.

Mr. Mom will always be one of my favorite movies of all time.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Incentive to "Move Forward"

Here are the photos of of my new desk!
I love my husband!
This desk was purchased to help me move forward technologically.
Our district is moving to computer generated report cards.
In order for me to interview each child and be able to input the data needed for each report card I needed this set up.
So my attendance incentive money went for the desk this year.
I also had enough to buy a one touch 25 sheet stapler.
I love that thing!
So soon I will be set up and I will be off and running!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wired and waiting for the crash

What am I doing still up? I should be going to bed, but I'm just too wired.

Top Chef was like sticking a knife in my heart. Sad that they sacrifice someone for the sake of drama on the show. But that's how Lisa managed to hang on for so long last season. IMHO. I really thought Carla would go, but I believe she made the same dish that she made on the Thanksgiving episode and they loved it then. She doesn't have the depth to last too much longer.

I think the following chefs are in trouble and will fall pretty quickly: Carla, Radika, Jeff, Jamie, and Fabio. I think the final three will be Hosea, Stefan and Leah. Wouldn't that make for some drama? (Maybe Fabio or Jamie will make it instead of Leah, but I doubt it.)

The one thing I really did not enjoy was seeing the chefs walking around with the animals. I kept thinking that they were handling all those animals and then they were going to cook while wearing the same shirts. Ick.

I also hate it when the chefs describe their dishes by naming every single ingredient that went into the dish. Just call it what it is and let everyone eat.

I also did not like that there were three winners. Not right - it's Top Chef, not top team. They can't all win.

Oh, to the other half of the post title. Waiting for the crash.

I'm sure that I'm going to crash from so much going on this week. Earlier tonight, Hannah and I went to the high school for the first freshman orientation night. It was kind of a crazy mob, but lots of good information. I'm glad Hannah ran into several friends there. So she will know people when she starts there.

Tomorrow morning I'm taking Michelle to the orthodontist to get braces put on. Poor kid. I'm so afraid that the tooth extractions she had two weeks ago have scarred her for life. The tooth extractions I had as a kid definitely scarred me for life. I keep telling her that braces will be nothing compared to that.

Then I''m working the late shift - literally. This week the library is staying open later than usual to provide a "late night study hall" for community high school students. We close at 9 pm like normal, but allow high school students who are studying for finals this week to stay until 11 pm. Each department head took a turn to stay late and tomorrow night is my turn.

Friday night is Bunco night and Saturday I'm having lunch with the gals from my old job and playing piano in the evening. So by Saturday night, I'm going to be out of energy.

Out of Commission

Going out of his way (25 minutes), my wonderful husband, Rick came to my school yesterday to put together a desk for me.
It is a sleek glass and metal L shaped desk.
I will try to post a picture from home later today.
The headache started around 2:30 and continued to worsen.
We got home at 6:00 and they all ate and I lay in the dark room and stayed still.
My head hurt so much, I could not lift my head.
I missed dinner with my family and my Tuesday night small group with the girls.
I was completly out of commission.
Good thing Rick was there to save the day and that I called in dinner!
Some days are like that!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Calling in Dinner!

This morning, I was slow and rather late to get going.
I competely forgot to put the roast in the crock pot.
A quick call home to #2 daughter and voila' ... dinner is simmering.
And you thought I was going to order carry out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Changing It Up

Governor's State University uses the school where I teach kindergarten as a language arts lab site.
Each semester, I get to mentor a new elementary education student.
The professor also asks me to make a presentation to her new students about storytelling in the classroom.
I keep the bare bones outline of the presentation each time but change props and stories out. This keeps it interesting for me and the professor.
This time I am doing a poem entitled Talking by Judith Viorst.
I will also be doing the book, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.
I really like the interaction with the college students and would be teachers.
I enjoy presenting.
This experience seems to point me in the direction of teaching at the college level someday as a professor of early childhood education perhaps.
Right now life is as busy and full as I want it to be with me as wife, mother, kindergarten teacher and serving God as He wills and asks me.
No need to change that up at all.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My grandmother

Last Friday night, my last living grandparent passed away. This was my mother's mother, Irma Nothwehr. Many nice people have given me condolences, but I was not close to my grandmother. I was not close to any of my grandparents, really.

She was what you would expect for a farmer's wife. A hard worker who had a beautiful vegetable garden. But I don't remember her teaching me to sew, knit, or anything like that. I do remember her sending me into the dreaded chicken coop to get the eggs. I was already afraid of chickens and I couldn't do it. I think I exasperated her because of this.

When I was a kid, and we would go out to the farm, my older brother and my Dad would go out in the fields with my grandfather, or else they would go pheasant hunting or something like that. My mother would cook with my grandmother, or something. I don't really know what they did, but it didn't involve me, so my younger brother and I would just roam the farm together, exploring the barns, climbing on the old rusted farm equipment and playing in the corn crib.

The one thing I do remember doing with my grandmother is playing cards. We grew up playing a lot of 10 point pitch and my grandmother was usually too busy to play. However, once in a while she would join in. I do remember one time in particular, when we were playing 5 handed pitch, where one person can go it alone and win the whole game where she had a great hand and surprised us all by totally beating all of us.

So it's a going to be a strange sort of farewell at her funeral Tuesday, saying goodbye to a woman that I really didn't know.

A Toast to My Dad

My father was a restauranter.
The first restaurant I recall his involvement was Sap's in Greenwood.
As a little girl, I loved to go and visit him there.
We would come in the back door entrance which came right into the kitchen.
There my father would often be standing frying potatoes on a large grill.
I loved those potatoes.
We would then go through the swinging door into the dining room.
I would often sit down to the counter with my red ponytails swishing and order butterscotch pudding or buttered toast.
The pudding came out of the small pass through fridge in the wall.
For the toast, however, I watched carefully each detail of the preparation.
They took the white bread and put it into the 4 slot toaster.
When it popped up, they would take a small ladle of melted butter and pour it over each piece of toast.
They cut into triangles and served it to little me waiting at the counter.
I love buttered toast to this day.
I could eat it all day.
When I order breakfast out, my favorite part of the meal is always the buttered toast.
I could even eat it for supper which is what I did tonight.
Toast tonight in memory of my daddy whose 71st birthday would have been yesterday.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

eight God given minutes

Last night I decided to sneak in a hot bath before I went to the basketball game.
In order for this to work, I had to do my eye medication while in the tub.
I have to time my eye drops. 5 minutes for the first drop and 3 minutes for the second.
I forgot the timer in bedroom so #1 daughter went to get it for me.
She kindly set the timer for me and stayed to chat.
She shared her day and we talked the time away while I soaked.
I try hard not to be negative about doing my eye drops. They really do however, cramp my style often times.
6:00 pm and the drops have to go in ... no matter where I am. I will have to do it for the rest of my life.
(6;00am also with three drops taking 13 minutes.)
I complained to my #1 daughter about it.
She came back at me with my own words...
"Better than going blind, mom, " she yelled over her shoulder as the timer rang and she took off down the stairs.
Yes, it is.
Thanks be to God for my eye specialist.
Thanks be to God for my eye medication that works.
And today ... I am thankful for the eight minutes that God gave me with my teenager.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The waiting game

I am still waiting for my turn for The Shack. I am on hold for multiple copies of this book at multiple libraries.

At my work library I am on hold for three different copies: hardbound, paperback and large print. In the queue of holds I am #22, #17, and #6, respectively. The problem is that at work, my hold priority is low, so that if a resident places a hold, they are automatically bumped ahead of me because I am merely a lowly staff member and do not pay taxes to this community.

At my home library I am on hold for two copies. I guess they only have the hardbound and large print versions. I am #11 and #3 in the holds queue there, respectively.

So how long will I have to wait? Who knows?

There is one library catalog system out there that has the ability to "guess" how long you will have to wait for your hold based on the circulation periods and the number of holds. Like, if there is one copy of a book, and it circulates for three weeks and there are two people ahead of you, you will probably have to wait about 6 weeks. It gets more complicated when a library has several copies of the book and lots of holds.

I think this would be nice, in theory, to let people know about how long they may have to wait. The problem is, there are always those jerks out there who will come back and say "It's been three weeks, why don't I have my book yet?"

In the meantime, I have finished the Maximum Ride series (well, I'm on hold for the "fourth" one) and am moving on to Orbiting the Giant Hairball, while waiting for The Shack.

Snow Memories

When I was little, I remember there being lots of snow.
Winters were both cold and white.
I also remember blizards shutting down Columbus for 2 or 3 days.
This winter seems much like the winters of my "youth".
While no blizzard has shut things down for long, there still seems to be lots more snow. Cold winds blowing snow!
I love to be warm and when I was little I would go and sit on or stand over the large floor registers in our home. I would stay there until it shut off.
I would even dry my freshly washed hair over those registers.
Now, I take a hot bath and have a hair dryer.
Ahh... "progress".

Thursday, January 08, 2009


This brief update is being written to appease a dear reader...
who does not follow my status on Facebook.
I did make glazed pork chops.
Today, I wore brown not black socks.
The bills are paid.
The calendar is still blank.

I hate to say I told you so...

Wait a minute, I LOVE to say I told you so!

Well, only sort of. I predicted even before we started watching Top Chef last night that Gene and Melissa would be packing their knives and going. I didn't even have to see the episode. I knew it would be their time.

Then again, anyone who has been watching Top Chef this season could have called that one, so it's not like I pulled off anything stupendous.

But who will be next to go? It's that middle point of the show now where the people who really didn't have any business being there are gone and the mediocre chefs who have been able to hide in the middle are going to hit the chopping block.

So who's next? No fair saying Carla, we knew she was doomed from the get go. Radhika? Fabio? Ariane? Jamie? Leah?

I can't wait until next week to see what Hung is doing back on the show!

Maria at Peace

Tonight, Rick and I get to go back to our small group Bible study.
I have missed it so much.
We are studying Heaven.
It has been both eye opening and a review of the great things ahead of me.
I have stuggled with major grief in my life with the earthly loss of my grandparents and my dear mother and father. This study has eased my soul.
What a comfort and a joy to be with my friends again tonight as we reunite.
After a month off, it will feel great to be back in prayer and the Word tonight.
I know my negativity will be shaken and I will feel so much more at peace.
Thank you God for friends to pray with and study your Word.
I am happy just thinking of it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Use of libraries in tough economic times

This is the new mantra in the library world. Even the Freakonomics guys are jumping on the bandwagon.

I'm still waiting to check our local statistics to see if they support this idea that library use goes up when the economy goes down.

I did write this for our newsletter:
Do you love the library? You’re not alone. The statistics show that library use, especially in tough economic times, just keeps going up. If you took the number of books checked out at the Smallsville Public Library in 2008 and laid them end to end, they would stretch from Carol Stream to downtown Chicago and back. If you took the number of DVDs checked out at the Smallsville Public Library in 2008 and laid them end to end, they would stretch from Carol Stream to Lombard.

Some staff members thought I should have included the actual numbers with the story, but let's face it, numbers are boring. Descriptions are interesting.

Black Socks

We have a division of labor in our home.
Rick does the yard/outdoor duties, the laundry and the dishes.
The girls all have tasks.
I have other jobs.
(I will let you believe that they are too numerous to mention here.)
As I was getting ready for school this morning,
I opened the sock drawer to see my last pair of black socks.
This was bad news.
I wear black socks everyday to work.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught THE sock basket.
good news: clean socks
bad news: not sorted.
Over the years we have tried to streamline the sort.
We have tried to individualize the socks by one style and two colors per person.
We have paid the children by the pair to sort.
(We pay children for no other job in our home.)
We even tried plastic rings sold by Tupperware to hold dirty pairs together in the wash.
We have thrown away all unmatched socks and bought all new socks.
(We really did this and I am not ashamed. Desperate people do desperate things.)
All paths have met the same end.... the dreaded SOCK basket.
Please do not write in with ideas to combat this.
Feel free, however, to commiserate, sort and bring over socks.