Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hello from Tampa

Greetings from Florida!

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

On the 3rd Day of Christmas.....

I am still sick! Yuck!

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

Happy News!

We finished the Christmas card sale a day early- because we sold all the cards!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The kids' cards just keep getting better!

The only purpose of this post is to show off more of the cards made by my students in the school craft club. They've made approximately 100 cards and have sold 60 of them in the first 2 days they are on sale. I am so impressed at how quickly they have learned and how much their styles have grown in just a couple of weeks. I wish I had the time to scan all of them, but here are some examples:

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."

So, as much as I may not like the people I work FOR, I LOVE the kids I teach!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

And yet another Sunday evening post

Time to start focusing on the week ahead. I have a whole pile of stuff in the sunporch that needs to go into my car for tomorrow. I need to get clothes ready for school, and make sure my bag is complete.

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."(

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

Cold, rainy Thursday

My progress reports disc is done and submitted, so I am relaxing for a few hours, and find myself in a silly mood. So, here's a little pre-Christmas fun:

Your Elf Name Is...
Minty Sticky Fingers

Monday, December 10, 2007

It was a busy weekend, and some more cards!

It was a typical weekend- full of laundry and grocery lists and other such mundane matters. I also made a few Christmas cards, decorated the front door, and just got a lot of both Christmas and "regular" chores done.

Here is the latest card I am making for Christmas. I'm kind of glad that the kit only includes 4 of this one- it seems to take forever.

The kids at school are still working hard on their cards for the Appalachia project. Here's a few examples of today's cards:

It was a very sad evening last night for those who follow the activities at the Djuma Reserve site through the WildEarth cams. A pride of lions, known as the Nkuhuma pride, consisting of 2 males, 9 females and 16 cubs, lived in the area. A group of 5 very violent (yes, even by "lion standards") male lions, known as the Mapogo, has been seen in the area recently. Last night the 5 lions attacked the males of the Nkuhuma, and killed the one known as Dozie.

This is not unexpected in the wild. The reason why so many are saddened is that what can happen next is predictable and sad. When a lion or a group of lions attempts to take over another pride, he/they will first kill the male lions of the pride. After that, he/they will then kill all the cubs. The female lions will try to protect their young and may be killed in the struggle. If any of the females survive, they will now belong to the new pride.

The Nkuhuma pride has been seen and watched on the WildEarth cameras now for many months. The two males lions are/were magnificent and beautiful to watch. The female lionesses are also quite beautiful, and wonderful to observe as they care for their pride. The cubs are all just WAY too cute and watching the cams over a period of time, we have also watched them grow. People all over the world have become very attached to the lions of the Nkuhuma pride.

The Mapogo have a bad reputation among the rangers and other safari people in this area in the south of Africa. They are especially violent, shocking many of those who have worked there for years when they even resorted to cannibalism, by eating a lion they killed- NOT typical lion behavior. Five males is also a larger than usual coalition of male lions, which also makes them especially dangerous. There is a lot of talk on the various Africa webcam boards about the long term implications of such a dangerous group and their potential impact on the whole balance of widelife in the area.

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

Getting back on track

I am finally feeling pretty much back to normal. School is under control again- my tests are all caught up and the remaining pile of work to mark from last week is so much smaller than it was that it no longer a threat to make me crazy. The biggest boost is that I finally slept. I decided to "take a nap" yesterday afternoon- and didn't wake up until the alarm went off this morning. Husband and son both insist they tried to get me to get up for dinner but I remember none of it. 14 hours sleep really helps!

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

Just a quick post

I've been wanting to get these pictures up for a while, but "things" seem to keep getting in the way.
These are a few of the cards that my craft club kids at school have made.

After my week "off", we get back to work on more cards tomorrow.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

What a WEEK!!!

Well, it seems like last week was last YEAR!!! Thanksgiving was sooooo long ago!

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!!!