Saturday, December 29, 2007
Things here are going wonderfully! We had a rocky start- our 5:30 flight was late and we only had 8 minutes to make our connection in Charlotte. We made the plane but our luggage did not. :(
I finally got into the spa around 10 last night- from now on the bathing suit goes in the carry-on! Before that we went shopping with Auntie, John took a long walk, I read a book and started a second one, our luggage finally arrived about 6PM, we went to Applebies for dinner and Auntie and I each had two "perfect margaritas"!
Today it is 84 degrees, the sun is shining and we have spent lots of time in the spa while I finished book #2 and started #3. Only those of us who live in northern climes can appreciate the wonderfulness of reading a book at midnight- ourdoors!
Having a great time with Auntie- she is such a joy to be with. At 83 she looks so much younger and her attitude and zest for life are very young and ageless.
Time to get back in the spa and my book is waiting. Oh, btw, I still have my bad cold- but in this setting, who cares?
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I started with a cold Christmas Eve afternoon, and even though I have done tons of liquids, lots of Comtrex and slept WAY more than normal I am still feeling BLAH! This stinks!
In spite of this, with what time I have felt up to doing anything, it has been a mostly good holiday so far. Christmas Eve Mom and I went to my aunt's for lunch and had a wonderful time. Since then my uncle has been taken to the hospital, which is very unhappy news. He is my favorite uncle- he was a professional musician, a pianist, and he always encouraged me in my music. He has been failing for several years, and this is just more of the same, but it is always scary when he has a bad spell. They hope he will be coming home today or tomorrow, which is the good news of this event.
Christmas Eve evening (after a LONG nap) we decorated the tree as always. My son LOVES Christmas, and is very tradition bound. We had a fun evening of tree trimming and movie watching.
Christmas Day consisted of present opening- my DH and DS were MOST generous!!!!- followed by our traditional brunch of eggs, sausage and home made cinnamon rolls. Then I took a long nap til it was time to cook dinner. I made it through dinner, but the rest were still at the table when I just had to go to bed.
Slept 12 hours straight. Didn't feel any better- seems unfair, somehow!
On the 2nd Day of Christmas, I was a total slug. Rested, watched TV, played on the computer.
Today is the 3rd Day of Christmas. In spite of waking up STILL being sick, it has been a very good day so far. If you've been reading here you know I like to watch the African webcams, especially the one at WildEarth/Djuma. My post from December 10th tells the story of the killing of one of the Djuma lions from the Nkuhuma pride. At the time it was thought to be Dozie; later we learned that it was Blondie who was killed. Here is a picture of the magnificent Blondie:
This morning's drive turned out to be a combination of frustration and exhilaration. The link was bad- there has been a lot of rain in the Djuma area and that seems to affect transmission- and both the live view and the sound were interrupted regularly. The amazing part was that we finally saw, LIVE, two of the Mapogo males- the renegade lions who are threatening the prides throughout this area of Southern Africa. They are enormous and magnificent, but they even LOOK evil and carry themselves with a disdain that is visible. The LandRovers were able to get right up next to them and take amazing video- they completely ignored the human presence the whole time. This is a good news/bad news scenario. We get to see these incredible animals close up because they are again roaming in the Djuma reserve. However, the fear for the females and the cubs of the Nkuhuma pride dampens this enjoyment. The last report of the Nkuhuma survivors was that they were scattered in an area north of Djuma and we all hope that they are far away and safe from the ravages that will occur if the Mapogo find them.
Tomorrow DH and I fly to Tampa to visit our aunt there for New Year's- a tradition of 12 years. I always enjoy the break from the cold weather- I know, if I can survive a flight with a cold, all my other ailments will feel better almost as soon as I get off the plane. We are looking forward to several days of sitting on the lanai reading, soaking in the spa, and having a great time with Auntie. The only downside is that DH saved a lot of money on the airfare by booking us on a flight that takes off at 5:30AM!!!!!! Not much sleep for us tonight- we need to arrive at the airport at 4AM!
So, I am off to dig out summer clothes- the forecast is around 80° the whole time we are there- yippee!!!- and get organized and packed.
A Merry Christmas season and a Happy New Year to all!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I am so proud of these kids. They worked really hard on these and, if we sell them all, will have raised $200 for the school's Appalachia Project. I told them if we had any cards left unsold, they could use them themselves and they all said "oh, we'll pay for them- it's for Appalachia."
Sunday, December 16, 2007
It's been a crazy, scattered weekend. Yesterday was spent going to my brother's house at the shore to close it up for the heart of winter. We needed to bring a few things home, but the big job was shutting everything down, draining all the pipes and filling all the water sites in the house with antifreeze. Driving down, doing everything and driving back in the same day is hard work.
Today I had such plans for Christmas. I got a lot done today, but most of it was not on my list this morning, and none of it had much to do with Christmas. Meanwhile, Christmas is inexorably moving closer all the time.
I have lived my whole life with my body clock registering school years rather than calendar years. My Dad was a professor and I married a teacher, long before I was a teacher. So, for us, the "New Year" starts every September and Christmas to New Years is the long winter break. Nevertheless, I still have the habit of reflecting at this time of year- from Thanksgiving through Christmas about my many gifts and blessings, and as New Year's approaches about what I want/need to do to be a better person and live a better life. This year I guess I am starting early with the New Year's thinking.
"The expression "elephant in the room" refers to a situation where something major is going on, it's on everyone's mind and impossible to ignore -- like an elephant in the room. But nobody talks about the "elephant" because nobody knows what to do about it."(www.phrases.org)
That's how I feel about my work right now.
OK- this is getting depressing. I am still only part way through making my Christmas cards, so that better get done so I can actually MAIL them. When I start with a new one, I'll post a picture.
8 days til Christmas!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sadly, the most likely outcome of all this is that the Mapogo will now kill the remaining adult male lion, then all the cubs of the Nkuhuma pride, and possibly all the females in the process. These marvelous animals that we have been watching and enjoying and learning to really appreciate, may soon all be gone from Djuma.
So, I will be checking the boards and listening to the drive tonight in hopes of hearing that the Nkuhuma have successfully evaded the Mapogo, even if it means they are gone from Djuma.
Time to get the clothes ready for tomorrow, then makemy hot chocolate for my Africam time.
14 days til Christmas!
Friday, December 7, 2007
The goal for this weekend is to get a lot done while relaxing doing it. I'm going to try to get on the drive at the WildEarth site tonight for the first time in a long while. The rest of the weekend is to be a mix of housework, laundry, doing a little Christmas decorating and making some cards. I have three new crafty books to spend some quality time with as well. If I am successful with all this, I'll have some new pictures to post by Sunday.
18 days til Christmas!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
I left for the shore with my Mother at noontime on Monday and went straight to the hospital. They ended up having to operate sooner than they wanted as the damage was so extensive that it was more dangerous to wait than to go ahead. The surgery went very well- he is in for a long recovery but he will be fine. He is still in the hospital and will be for quite a while, but Mom and I finally felt comfortable enough with his condition to come home.
It was a tough week. Translating medicalese, dealing with my Mom- the retired nurse who knew enough to know how very serious the situation was and who was very frightened by it- and dealing with my SIL- who had no clue how serious it was AND didn't want to know- and trying to do the best for DB whenever he needed anything, plus all the phone calls to various familiy members, the goofy hours, hospital, restaurant and deli food.... I'm beat!
I must admit that the hospital was NOT the dinky little place I remembered but rather a modern, major medical center. The care was excellent. It is a good feeling to know that, since DH and I have oftened talked of retiring to the shore, and medical care was one of the issues that might have deterred us.
I'm trying to get ready to go back to school after missing a week and catching up around the house. Thank goodness it's still 3 weeks til Christmas- I think I can get caught up both home and school by then and start the new year off on the right track.
Happy December- 23 days til Christmas!!!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I got all the framing done. They all turned out really well and I'm so happy that they did.
Last night John and I stayed home and watched old movies on TV- James Garner in Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunslinger. We had a lot of laughs and really enjoyed it.
Yesterday morning I went to a "Coffeefest", which means a gathering of the Flyladies group that I belong to here. We had a lot of fun, many laughs, and it was great to see them all again.
I also went shopping twice. By myself, on the way home from Coffeefest, I found the perfect frames for the last set of pictures, ON SALE! found marker and watercolor pencils for stamping, ON SALE!!!, and even got some new cardstock, also on sale- all at ACMoore. Later I went to Michael's with my friend Cindy, and got the $4.99 Fiskars cutters- bought two at the price, it's cheaper than replacing the blades, plus some things for Christmas presents.
Today I was doing Flylady drilling intermixed with a card-making chat on SplitCoastStampers. I got a LOT of housework done and finished 9 more cards. My goal was 20 but I got sidetracked, like any good SHE does. (SHE is a Flylady acronym for Sidetracked Home Executive.) Here's a picture of the card from the CK Holiday kit:
We were having a really good weekend. Getting lots done while having lots of fun. I even made a full-blown, official, Sunday dinner: roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn and applesauce. Then the phone rang.
Mom was calling to tell me that my younger brother was in the hospital at the shore in very serious condition. He needs surgery but also has a major infection and they cannot operate until the infection is controlled.
Hospitals at the shore have never been our first choice. We live in Philadelphia which has GREAT hospitals and therefore we are hospital snobs. No one in the family has used this particular shore hospital in years- an experience there many years ago with my grandfather kind of soured us on it and left us questioning the competence of the staff. However, DB is in a situation where he cannot be moved right now, and later could only be moved via ambulance.
So, for the last hour I have been emailing all my friends and former students asking for prayers, and trying to finish all the things I started today. I went to the basement to reboot the laundry and discovered that I had put clothes in the dryer and didn't turn it on at the same time I forgot to put the next load in the washer. So, I am behind schedule there.
My Sunday blog post will be about the same from here on as usual- I need to finish the laundry, iron and lay out my clothes for tomorrow, check my schoolbag for tomorrow, etc. In addition to the usual, I need to pack a bag so I can take my mother to the shore tomorrow.
So, I'm off to try and get things done, concentrate a little, then relax with my hot chocolate and one last TV show.
I hope everyone reading had as good of a Thanksgiving weekend as I did- up til the part about phone calls. It really was a GREAT weekend.
Friday, November 23, 2007
We had a lovely Thanksgiving and now that it is over, I have time to be thankful! The dinner was excellent, if I do say so myself, lol, and we had the whole family home for the first time in several years. My son's friends came for dessert as usual, and I do not know how late they stayed as I crashed at 12:30. They did not leave a mess to clean up so I am also thankful for that.
I keep hearing the John Denver song, Poems, Prayers and Promises, in my head- "it's been a good life all in all"- and am so grateful that that is true. We've had a lot of problems over the years, health and financial and family, but in spite of those I have a wonderful husband and I've been blessed with so many opportunities and so many experiences. He wrote that song when he was relatively young and I always feel a little sad when he sings "it turns me on to think of growing old". While I don't feel old, at 55 many people (especially my students!) think that I already am. Hopefully, there is still a lot of growing old still ahead of me.
Today we are going to work on two projects. One of them actually does involve shopping- yuck! While on a cruise this summer, we bought several pieces of art that need to be framed. I got DH to agree to go with me to choose the framing today, and since we rarely have the same days off, we have to take advantage of the opportunity. We did buy one large piece on the cruise and we had the gallery frame that for us. It arrived several weeks ago and we finally hung it yesterday. I am really happy- it looks wonderful and is perfect for the location I had planned for it.
Then we are going to do a massive cleanout of the garage. With the holiday yesterday, trash day is moved back until tomorrow and I am looking forward to having a LOT more storage space after today.
The rest of the weekend will consist of getting together with a group of my Flylady friends for a l-o-n-g breakfast gathering tomorrow, and then getting some work done on some more of my Christmas cards.
All in all it sounds like a good, productive and fun weekend. And, for that, I am thankful.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Although we are still far from ready for Thanksgiving, we made a lot of progress on re-organizing the house this weekend. A lot of "let's get rid of this" decisions were made and there is WAY more room in the basement and a lot less stuff around here. We still need quite a few more days like this one, but any progress is good.
The grocery shopping for Thursday is pretty much done- just a few last minute things to get. We have a long tradition that my son's friends come here for dessert every year after dinner with their families. I have to make my "famous peach cobbler" which is really easy but they all love. They like it so much that last year I had to make several of them in one day- one of the guys was having a simple back yard reception after his wedding and asked me to make them as a wedding gift! So, the day will be busy with pies and cobbler as well as turkey and all the fixings.
I also spent a bit of time finding a download to burn CDs for a few friends. I was one of the very few people who actually watched Studio 60 last year. It was weak compared to West Wing, and I had trouble with some of the storylines, but I do enjoy Aaron Sorkin's work a lot. I watched West Wing from the beginning, but it was the first season Christmas show that GOT me. (A homeless VietNam vet dies with Tobey's business card in his pocket and it goes from there.) Studio 60 hit it dead on with their one-and-only Christmas show. The show ended with a group of Katrina-displaced New Orleans musicians performing "O Holy Night" and it was magical. I had downloaded the song from the Studio 60/NBC website last year and it plays fine on my computer, but I discovered that when I tried to burn a copy, it didn't work right. After more than an hour of searching, I finally found a place that still has the song available for download.
If you saw/heard it last year and wished you had gotten a copy, or if you are just interested in one of the most beautiful versions of this wonderful hymn you will ever hear, check it out here:
This is now my all-time favorite Christmas song. It is just gorgeous. While downloading, and burning, and then checking to see that each of the newly-burned CDs worked properly today, I probably listened to it about a dozen times and just never got tired of hearing it.
Oh, and for those of you interested in intellectual property/copyright issues, NBC did post this for free download/usage so no laws were broken in the making of the CDs.
Time to go iron my clothes for tomorrow, check that my schoolbag is ready to go, then relax with a snack and one TV show before bed.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
There are actually a few more but I keep getting an error code so I will upload those another day. The picture is DH and I on our cruise this summer.
Like I said, it was a GOOD weekend.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
We had a special Mass for Officer Cassidy on Friday morning at school. Many police officers and other alumni and friends of his attended. On Wednesday the school community went outside and lined the street in front of the school when the funeral procession passed on its way to the cemetery. It was all very beautiful and very difficult.
Add in that this was midterm exam week, and grades are due tomorrow, and you can understand my exhaustion at this point. Between reading term papers, grading tests and exams, and calculating grades, my eyes are crooked and my head is exploding.
I'm taking the weekend off and doing some crafting, watching some old movies and just generally relaxing.
Since I cannot post my gradebook here, and I have nothing else accomplished this week, there's no pictures to post. Next week there should be something nice to see.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
There was a terrible event here in Philadelphia today- a police officer was shot in the head. It happened near the school where I teach and the police put our school, and 54 other schools in the area, on lockdown. No one was allowed in or out all day. The kids were fabulous!!! There was some nervousness, and a few kids called parents, but mostly the kids just followed the rules and we had an almost normal day at school. It was a bit stressful for the faculty- we had to remain totally calm while police cars could be seen regularly outside the building, and the non-stop noise of helicopters directly overhead started as a background annoyance that became ever more insinuating as the day went on.
Later in the day I learned that the officer was a classmate and teammate of John's and the liason for the school with the local police district. The members of the staff who worked with him, and especially those who also went to school with him, are all very upset and saddened.
I am not "doing" Halloween this evening. I am simply not up to being nice and cheerful with a bunch of little kids banging on my door. So, I have retreated upstairs and the lights downstairs are off. I know it's not "nice" but I just do not feel able to deal with it tonight. To show how nervous I am, someone just turned on a lawn mower down the street. My first thought was that it was a helicopter nearby and that the still-on-the-loose gunman was now in my neighborhood.
I am anxiously awaiting John getting home- I think I need a little TLC tonight.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Just the kind of day that needs comfort food, so there is rice pudding in the oven- the really old-fashioned kind, made from my Grandmother's recipe. It takes several hours to bake, but the aroma wafting through the house while you wait is almost as good as eating it.
To forget the miserable weather outside, I've been working on my pictures from our cruise to Bermuda. Here's a classic Bermuda picture of John, passing under a moon gate. We really had a marvelous time and now I am looking forward to making a scrapbook of my favorite pictures from the trip. From the 350 I took, I have it narrowed down to about 90. I soooo love digital cameras- take a lot of pictures, then just print and use the best. Technology is wonderful!
The end of the first quarter at school is approaching and that means quarterly tests and lots of papers for me to read. I should probably spend most of the weekend grading tests and such, and plan to do some, but I also want to start working on Christmas cards and do some other crafting.
Tonight I plan to try to stay up late and go "on the drive" at the WildEarth webcam site. Twice a day a LandRover equipped with a camera feed (and operator) and driven by a safari guide goes out into the Djuma game reserve in South Africa, and does a wild-life drive. While sitting at home in front of my computer, I am, in real-time, travelling through a safari park looking for animals. The guides at WE are marvelous and the sights are incredible. I have always, literally since I was about 8 years old, wanted to go to Africa. I still hope to get there someday, but for now, this is an amazing substitute.
The rice-pudding is starting to smell "done". Time to enjoy!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
School is so depressing. I work at a school that used to be wonderful. Now it is a grim place where the faculty are demoralized and the kids are not happy anymore. It is so very sad. I saw the doctor today. He recommended that I either get a new job or see a shrink in order to deal with my current one. Neither is a happy alternative.
On the weather front here, it is good news/bad news. The good news is that the bizarre warm weather, or rather HOT weather, has finally broken. The bad news is that it has been replaced with cold, nasty rain and a general damp that makes everyone a little more tired and definitely more grouchy.
There is very happy news on my plants front. A small thing, for sure, but something to relish. I have been trying, with great lack of success and through many, many plants, to grow plumeria here in Philadelphia for many years. Plumeria is a tropical plant, also known as frangipani, and famous in Hawaii as the plant whose flowers are most often used for leis. They are not particularly attractive as plants/trees, but blossom with a very pretty flower that has an incredible scent. About 2-3 weeks ago all the leaves fell off my oldest (about 4 years) surviving and largest plumeria plant. "Another one bites the dust" was my thought. Well I just left it where it was on the radiator, and within the last few days, a whole raft of new leaves are popping out. The thing has even started some new branches! This is not really the time of year that this should be happening, but I will take good plumeria news any way I can get it. Once the leaves are obvious enough for the camera to catch, I'll post a picture of it.
This is enough for tonight. Time for bed, to sleep, perchance to dream, and then another day in the salt mines.
Here is a picture of a now long gone plumeria that once flowered for me:
Sunday, October 21, 2007
No Sunday dinner this week- John is going out to dinner with the guys. This group likes to visit a BYOB restaurant once a month. They usually go on a weeknight, but for some (unknown to me) reason, this month's choice is only BYOB on Sundays. Go figure! So I'll make something simple and easy for me, and spend the evening pottering around here, working on laundry, watching some TV, maybe doing a little crochet, and getting ready for the week.
I had a very good day with the African webcams. A while back, I stumbled into a group that watches live webcams from various sites at waterholes in South Africa and Botswana. One of the sites- WildEarth- does a live safari drive twice a day. Today on the drive we saw a lioness, an African wildcat, a cape buffalo, and some beauiful scenery. The timing of the drives means I only get to watch live on weekends, so it was a good day.
Last week we went to a wedding for which I made the card. Since part of the reason for this blog is to display- i.e. showoff!- various crafty things I do, here's a picture of the card:
Enough babbling. I have tons to do to get ready for tomorrow and the week; I want to work on some stamping and card making; I need to eat; and there is so much to do around here, as always.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Tilting at Windmills has been the story of my life. When I was graduating from high school, some friends gave me a copy of Picasso's Don Quixote because they said it reminded them of me. I wasn't sure then, and I am still not sure, whether that is a compliment. I do know that I care a lot about whether things are right, just and fair, and I also see great beauty in the world. I can find joy in the many small things in my life- my plants, my pictures, my music. I fight daily battles with my health. I fight with, and for, my students every day. I fight losing, seemingly meaningless, battles with those I work for too often. I am surrounded by chaos I seem unable to control. I love, and am loved by, a wonderful spouse, and I have marvelous, loyal friends who enrich my life and my work. All in all, whether a compliment or not, the comparison to Quixote is an accurate and happy one.