Thursday, October 29, 2009

American on Purpose- Craig Ferguson

Just finished this book. It was GREAT! First of all, I stay up way too late just to watch Craig every night. I loathe Letterman, so I flip over after Conan. (The move by Conan to the Tonight show was perfect IMHO- Now I can see both the Irish- American and the Scottish-American and since what's his whosit who took over Late Night is dumber than dirt I never have to choose who to watch.)
Now, about the book-

Craig (if I may call him that) is honest and open about his, ummm... bad life choices. He doesn't lay the blame anywhere but where it deserves to be. He's witty and open, and if he wasn't married, and I wasn't married, and he was closer, I might be tempted to lead him astray. His joy at becoming American is refreshing and reminds me that it is a Good Day for America. His deep sadness over his parents' deaths is heartfelt, not self pitying. And his stories of his youthful (and not so youthful) misadventures are downright funny, especially if it's not you waking up missing large chunks of your memory.

I just want to ask one thing.

Craig- why didn't you write this book 40 years ago, so I could have found out that there is a nickname for Janet (the name I've always hated) and lived my life as Netta? I can do Netta. But not now when I can't even get people to use my Maiden/Married last name. I can't confuse people even more. **sigh**

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

more knitting

Finished two pairs of socks this weekend- the Knitalong Monkey socks from and a pair I just made up from bits of other patterns. The top is crocheted (which went really fast) and the bottom is knitted.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review- Grass for His Pillow- Lian Hearn

Great second of a trilogy. I don't know how well it wold work as a stand alone book, since I can't go back and unread the first, but this is an excellent growth book. Both main character have a voice here. Takeo learns to improve his skills, learns about treachery and gets a girl pregnant. Kaede loses Takeo's child when she hears he's dead (not true) almost dies herself (Takeo is told she is dead) and then decided it's time to decide her own fate. She becomes very strong and decides that using the horrible, slimy, rich, menacing neighbor will do it. Of course once Takeo and Kaede learn that the other is indeed alive, all bets are off and in a very unsurprising turn, they are together at the end, both wiser, stronger and better prepared for the wars ahead for being apart. Immediatly started book three- Brilliance of the Moon, because I just have to know what's going to happen. I know they are going to win, but I'm sure there will be many adventures, twists, beheadings, intrigue and Tribe assasinations to come.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I guess I forgot....

Nancy and I finished our stitchalong last week! I posted it on facebook, but forgot to here... sooo.... drumroll....

This will probably be framed and donated to the EEAI MEEC auction. (

15 books

Over on facebook this is going around- list the first 15 books that come into your head.

1. Finger Licking Fifteen (reading now)
2. Grass for His Pillow (interrupted to read #1)
3. The Sparrow (best book ever)
4. A Thread of Grace (same author- so that was next in the brain fog)
5. Forrest Gump (because I was just telling someone how horrible it was)
6. Island of the Blue Dolphins (my favorite as a kid)
7. My Side of the Mountain (another childhood favorite)
8. The Egg and I (still hilarious after 40 years)
9. The Handmaid's Tale (the last Atwood I read- a favorite author- which reminds me of...)
10. Cat's Eye (also Atwood)
11. Whip Hand (The book that started my love affair with Dick Francis)
12. Angela's Ashes (because Dick Francis is English and that reminded me of Irish Frank McCourt)
13. Angels and Demons (just saw the movie so that's floated up from the depths)
14. The DaVinci Code (because if Angels and Demons)
15. The Lorax- my first "green" book

These are not my favorites now, or books that I can't live without- but the question was list the first 15, and those surfaced first.

The best books ever would include Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, Fahrenheit 451, and loads of others that are just now floating into memory... but that list is for another day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

week 3- october sky stitchalong

Week 3-
Nancy and I are on on week three of our stitchalong, and I'm about 2/3rds done. I'll see Nancy tonight so check her progress. Next week, the last row and the beads, and I'll be ready to frame. (Oh stop laughing- I do actually get stuff framed once in a while!) I think I may donate this piece to an auction for my favorite non-for profit (EEAI-, I'll just have to see.....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Just ramblings

So the kitten has a new home. She'll be out of the rain and cold, and there's no danger of her being eaten by a coyote (my biggest fear) so I'm very satisfied. We miss her (even after only a week) but things are much calmer. Our two cats are getting along much better, probably that shared enemy thing, but I don't expect that to last.

DH-- Oh where to start...
His car broke down. The timing belt broke, and maybe he bent the valves. So I told him weeks ago to take his car into the shop to check the belt because it was making noise. Did he? When it would have only cost a few hundred to replace a belt? Oh no- so far it's about $700+ and we haven't even talked valves yet. **sigh**

man rule #1- things don't heal. You have to fix them. (ie- the water heater, the kitchen sink, the bathtub knobs, the crappy floors, the car.) Saying you are going to do it is not the same as doing it.

man rule #2- If you do what your wife says, you will get sex. (always need an incentive)

man rule #3- If you ignore your wife, she will bitch at you. Forever. You may still get sex, but you won't get those extra perks you like.

That's all to say....


Yeah, for now.

School has started and I have great classes! I haven't taught since last fall, so my patter is a bit rusty, but with three classes, I'm getting well rehearsed. I just love teaching in the summer. Things move along and the students seem to work better together because they see each other more often. And I go outside more, which I really like.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

visiting kitten

A kitten has adopted me. She's only a few months old, and very sweet. She just showed up and loves to follow me around the yard, pouncing on grass, her tail, any bird that tries to eat from the platform feeder (unsuccessfully so far). No one in my neighborhood has reported a missing kitten, and Sparks and Merlin are NOT amused by the invader living on the deck. I refuse to take her to the pound, so I'm trying to find a home for her. Yesterday she hid all day and it was stormy, but this morning she was back and hungry!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stitchalong update-week 2

Week 2- Nancy and I agreed that we could do the top row this week, so here's mine- minus the beads.

So... how's it going on your end, Nancy?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Book Review- Across the Nightingale Floor-Lian Hearn

This is the first of a series, and I now have to get the rest! It's supposed to be a "fantasy" location, but yeah, it's ancient Japan. Excellent story, wonderful characters, even if there some mystical love of honorable suicide woven throughout. It's a quick read, but just right for summer! I passed it along to the men in my life. This is right up their alley- fighting for honor and ninjas who can disappear. I can totally see this as a movie and a video game.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stitchalong week one

So my stitching pal Nancy and I are working the same pattern at the same time. We are doing the October Sky Sampler by Elizabeth Foster.
This week:
Neither of us could count the stitches around the border from the pattern. Oh the pattern is very clear, we just talk too much to count, which greatly amused our stitching group. I thought it was 97, Nancy had 84, and it was 87. So guess who stitched 97 stitches before she recounted? Yup. Rippit, rippit the first day.
We agreed that we could finish the border before we meet again.

Here's the photo of our first night (two hours) work.
Be prepared to be underwhelmed. See there... two little lines of stitching.
More to come!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tough day today

This year is a bit better than last year. It's the 2nd anniversary of my father's death. I still miss him every day, but I don't get teary much anymore. I still get very emotional when I watch something about someone dying of cancer. Even just dying is hard, even though I know we will all do it some day, and I'm ok with that. Well, I'm not trying to rush it or anything, but I'm not deluding myself that I'm going to pluck harps and walk on streets of gold.

So in thinking about Dad, I think about all that has changed. Not much, really. I still get up every day and go to work. I still work in the garden, go to school, wish I was closer to my family but don't do anything about it, wished I exercised more and ate less, and don't do anything about that either. Should my life have changed? Should I have had some kind of epiphany and now only do good works, feed the hungry, make a difference- and be insufferably devout about something? Well, that hasn't happened yet. Maybe yext year.

So Dad, if you are out there in the ether somewhere- I miss you, and I wish you were still here to play cribbage with and talk with and annoy me with trying to save my soul. Your lilac tree is blooming in my backyard. Your old alligator is in my front yard, looking the worse for wear with his broken nose and missing tail, but I'll keep him until he disintegrates into concrete rubble. I still use your hammer. Your photo with the missing hair from chemo is over my desk, and you are smiling next to Matt. And I think of you when I hear Johnny Cash sing "Ring of Fire."

And especially when I hear "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry."

And then I do.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book review- The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland

I really enjoyed this book. It seems like it took forever to read, but that was because of demands on my time, not because the book was boring.

I hadn't heard of Emily Carr, but the title alone was enough to get me to read this. The story is compelling and her artwork is beautiful. After reading this I went online to see the works mentioned in the book. I really got a feel for her work, her life, and her spirit.

Each chapter is headed by the name of a tree, and other than Ms.Carr liking trees, I don't see much of a significance in that. There's a bit of a time issue. I got disoriented from one section to the next because of a time jump.

four out of five for subject and expressiveness.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wonderful weekend in Utica!

I have a HUGE group of stitching friends, there must be well over 20 of us now, and we decided to have a stitching retreat at Grand Bear Lodge in Utica, Illinois. That's in Northern Illinois, on the Illinois River, very close to Starved Rock State Park. We left Friday morning in five cars- 14 of us. First stop- Welcome Stitchery in Crystal Lake, IL.
I belong to an online yahoo group for stitchers, and one of those members lived close enough by to meet up with us Friday morning. (Hi Gillian!) It was great to meet an online friend, and now I wish I would have gotten a photo of the event. We had a great chat, and we'll have to get together sometime for coffee, maybe the next trip up.

Second stop was for lunch, in Rockford at the Machine Shed. OMG! The food--- here's hint for eating at the Shed- order dessert first, eat it, and then if you have any room left, order something off the appetizer menu. That's a full meal. If you get a dinner or sandwich, fully plan to not be able to eat at least half of it. Split the sandwich with a friend, and order the sweet potato fries. The coconut cream pie has been renamed "the better than sex pie" just to give you an idea.

Third stop- Needle and I in Rockford. They were wonderful to us, as usual, and gave everyone in the group 10% off, just for coming up! We made it worth their while- with several people spending over $100. I was very restrained... and only spent about $50. There. The first time.

Then to the cabin....Gorgeous! In the woods, birds and tree frogs and room for all of us to stitch, eat, talk, sleep (but not much of that done) and late into the night we all seem to get a bit punchy, giggly, and hyper-caffeinated.... Well I was chugging Dew all weekend, except for the short wine break, so that might explain some of it....

Before we came home, several of us went back to The Needle and I. We had a show and tell at the cabin, and there was just some stuff other people got that we just HAD to have too. I'm set for the next ten years now.

All I can say is that for 14 women to go away for the weekend, we are all still friends, still talking to each other, and are planning to do it again. We have a long list of improvements for the next time, like chair pads, and we will all bring our stitching lights. And perhaps a salad some time during the weekend, because eating mountains of junk food and sweets really takes its toll. I'm trying to flush the caffeine out this week, just to get back down to my two a day habit level.

I didn't take any photos, but I hope to get some from everyone soon, and they'll be here, on the facebook page and on our stitching website.

and there was a bit of culture shock when I got back to work. What? Work? I want to stitch and eat more....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Earth Week!

Earth Week? Oh there's way too much going on for just one day.
Let's see...
Last week I attended the opening of our Green Institute, which included a dedication to Chad Pregracke from Living Lands and Waters, who is an alumni here. Then I took a class out into the Greenspace for a couple hours learning about biodiversity and picking up trash. They gathered two HUGE bags (we use 55 gallon trash bags for the greenspace) and three smaller ones just in our walk out and back. Then I planted some pin oaks and taught a couple people to use the tree bar, so more were planted later. We took a couple plugs of cord grass from the wetlands and transplanted them into Heartland Park. Friday I had some student help posting signs on all our classroom recycle bins that it's OK to mingle the recyclables. We only have one bin in each room and it's for everything. Students are so used to sorting their recyclables, that if there's paper int he bin, they toss their bottles in the trash. If they see bottles in the bin, then paper goes into the trash.

This week is a second waste audit on Wednesday, the two days of giving away free trees, magnets, veggie burgers, selling raffle tickets and having a good time at SpringFest.

Friday is the beginning of a weekend retreat with about a dozen of my closest friends, stitching, shopping, eating, stitching, eating, and maybe a little sleeping...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Battlezone- water heater wars

So I live in a "manufactured home." Yeah, it has wheels under it, but they haven't been used in about 20 years. Everything in a "manufactured home" is built out of the cheapest crap imaginable, nothing is the same size as a regular house, and everything is twice as expensive to replace. Which has to be done often and repeatedly. This week.... water heater wars... ~ Da duh DA! *insert dramatic music here*

About a month ago I discovered a spot of wet carpeting in our bedroom, suspiciously close to the wall which separates our bedroom from the outside water closet thingy that is where our water heater lives. (It's like having your water heater on the back porch but oh so much classier.) Me to DH: I think the water heater must be leaking. DH to me: no I think rain is leaking in the vents in the door. me to DH: well can you check? DH to me: grunt

Last week the floor was so wet it was starting to swell. Now if you have ever experienced a "manufactured home" then you know that the floors are made of something that resembles pressed paper. One toilet overflow and the floor of the bathroom swells and then falls through. Since the bedroom floor had now been wet for several weeks, and I was imagining my dressers falling right through, I stopped walking around my side of the bed. That meant that to get into bed I had to crawl over DH diagonally from his feet up to my pillows, pull back the covers and get under without touching the floor in any way. Great fun if you are young and newly married, but when the bed is for sleeping and not sex, which happens around 20 years later, it causes much late night grumbling.

Well there was enough grumbling about me crawling over his legs, and me bitching about sucking up water out of the carpet (every night with a really loud rug cleaner) that DH checked the water heater and found water running out the bottom. It was Saturday--time and a half for plumbers. We waited until Monday. By then, there was water, water everywhere. And the plumber? Well only one company in my town who services "manufactured homes." All the fittings are different, they cost more, and you can't just run down to Ace Hardware and get them.

This is where the war started.

Plumber guy (PG): I only take cash or checks from people in trailers because they have cheated me in the past.
me thinking: checks? charge cards are safer, you must be trying to hide the money from the IRS. Well, when we replaced this nine yeas ago it only cost about $350. It can't be that much more.
Me out loud: So can you give me a price range?
PG: $800-$900 if we don't have to do any special plumbing.
Me: ACK! WHAT????
PG: We'll we have to "insert BS plumbing crap here" and then there's the "more plumbing crap" but I have to look it over first.
Me: DO we have to wait until Monday?
PG: it will be fine, just put towels around it.
ME: great! see you Monday.

I have a friend who's husband is a plumber. I asked about this guy. He said he was crook, but if I told mentioned his name, and that he was coming over to check out the work then he might gouge me on the price, but at last he would do the job. Great choice-

I get a call about 10:00am
PG: Well, I have bad news. We have to "more plumber crap" and it's going to take a bit longer. And it will be $1000-$1100.
Me: Are you sure?
PG: Well, I didn't realize it was an outside access, so I'll have to bring the ladder. (I SWEAR this was his $200 excuse!)
Me: Well I can't very well say "Oh no, I don't need hot water" can I?
PG: We'll get to it this afternoon, and if we run over 5:00 I won't charge you overtime.

Swell, what a guy.

Me: mind if I have my friend Mike C. come over and look over the work, just to ease my mind. I really don't know anything about plumbing. (I wanted to add "Ms. Scarlett" after that, but just couldn't bring myself too.)
PG: Oh, You know Mike?
Me: Why yes. He's too busy working at *** to do it for me, but we've been friends for years.
PG: Did you tell him I was doing your work?
Me: Of course!
Pg: Umm.. Sure I don't have a problem with Mike looking at it. (This was obviously the biggest lie since he said "Of course I love you" to his high school sweetheart just before getting into her pants.)
Me: great! I'll see you this afternoon.

Now, I wanted to be there when the plumbers arrived, so I went into work early that morning and left early. I was home by 4:00- boy I hope I don't miss them!

6:00pm- some barely out of high school kid shows up. He hooks a hose up to my water heater to drain it, and asks me to shut my water off. (For those who don't know- in a "manufactured home" there's only one water shutoff, underneath, in the dark, near the meter, to everything. And animals live under there. I sent my husband.

A few minutes later Goober and Cleatus show up. Junior leaves. I have to go to my weekly night out with the girls which is sacred and not to be missed. (And since we now have no water, I need to go somewhere to have a pee anyway.) I leave a signed check (on my personal account, where all the money really lives) for DH to fill out when presented with the totally outrageous bill.

I get home and find:
A water heater (the old one) next to the driveway.
The box from the new water heater in pieces and laying all over my front yard.
All the insulation we had carefully put around our water heater closet pulled out and on the ground in the back yard.
Their drain hose running across the back yard.
And a bill for #1192.00 blithely paid for our of my checking account by he who shall remain spineless.

Tuesday morning:
I call the plumber guy:
Me: I expected you to honor your estimate, outrageous as it was. And I did not get an itemized bill. I want to know where you got these numbers. Oh yes, and my yard is trashed. And I am not on city services. I have to pay for trash pickup. No one will pick up that water heater.

PG: well we had to "insert more plumbing crap" but I'll honor your estimate. And I'll come by to clean up your yard.
me: Did I mention that I'm on Angie's List? There will be a review of this job on there.
Pg: I'll call you back with the itemized bill, and I'll have your yard picked up this morning.

Call a couple hours later from PG:
PG: I left a refund check for you for $142.00 at your house, and everything is now picked up. The bill was $522.73 for the water heater, and $174.87 for pipes parts and the permit. And I had to put in a gas "blah, blah" valve. And you had seven hours labor at $455
Me:(being quite calm, I thought) Seven hours? they arrived at 6:00pm and were done before dark at 8:00.
PG: well one guy had to go pick up the water heater at the warehouse, so he started at 5:15.
That's 5 hours at $91 an hour, and that was without time and a half. Goober and Cleatus are worth $91 an hour?
PG: well, I decided to take off and extra $50 from the estimate of $1100, so that's why you are getting a $142 refund.

Notice he used the top estimate, not the bottom, and tossed me back $50 clams. And I had to call him back to clean up their mess.

Oh yes, There will be an Angie's List on this one. And if I see one drip....

And in my mail Tuesday? A $150 water bill for one month. That's about 4 months worth of water leaked via my bedroom floor apparently. And now I have a floor to replace. That's going to be the next war.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring Break!

Yay! Spring break! It's so nice and quiet here with the students gone. I could bring in my knitting and work on it, but there are SOME people who think I should work at work. Well, OK, most people think I should work at work.
DH is home with pneumonia, DS has lost his voice (which is good considering the argument we had yesterday)and has an earache (and I hope it was from me yelling at him).

It's sugaring season again, and I've been spending loads of time out in the woods showing kids and parents how to tap trees. The weather has been a bit rough. Really cold one day, rain, thunderstorm and hail the next, the 60 and sunny the next. It's very spring-y here.

No trip to New Mexico this spring. DS is in college and I don't want him to miss classes, and I can't leave until my college spring break, and, of course, those breaks are different weeks. I'm planning to go to New Mex for Thanksgiving, and to go to a stitching retreat. Don't know what DS will do with himself for a couple days while I'm stitching. At this point, I don't really care. Ds managed to get himself fired after three weeks at his new job. He said he was kidding around and something got taken out of context about him saying he was "going to slap somebody." Well, I think there was probably more than that, but he's not talking. Jobs aren't just laying around for hte taking. He needs to keep one if he wants to make payments on his new car, which I cosigned for. **sigh**

Well, back to work. Time to spend some money.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Just a few minutes while I'm on my lunch break. My head's killing me and I think I had a great huge hot flash this morning. Small price to pay for no more periods. Well there are those wild chin witch hairs that grow about a inch overnight, but other than additional plucking, that's livable too.

I still have no energy for classwork, which I what I should be doing now. I think it's just grad school burnout. Of course if I listen to those drug ads I'm probably ready for a collapse- "Are you tired? Do you have thoughts of inadequacy? Does it feel like you just can't get everything done? Then here- Have a pill!" Jeez! And the pill will make me gain weight, lose weight, my hair will fall out, I may commit suicide, have a heart attack, weakness in the knees, get leukemia, scurvy or Beri Beri.

I did get a lot done last week: I wrote a grant for an Urban Bird event, I did 3 telenet conferences working on a state wide Master Naturalists program, I got recertified as a deputy voter registrar, I subbed three classes, I took a couple hours off, and I finished my reading for my class yeasterday.

Whoa- EMTs with a stretcher just went by my office. Wonder what's up?

Knitting- working on a pair of cashmere socks in chocolate brown. I don't have enough yarn to finish them (stinking lying patterns!) and the place I got it at is out. Will try again later in the week. Got some chunky yarn to make some boot socks with.

Stitching- will have one challenge piece done shortly- The Green Earth

all that's left is the big green swoosh at the bottom.
My second challenge is this Teec Nos Pos piece. I've got some of the upper left corner done. Just started, really.

Well, back to work!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


So what happened to 2009? Last thing I remember was coming home from New Mexico for thanksgiving.

I've been knitting. YAWN very exciting, right? Well, I'm hooked on socks. I've made about 5 pairs now. My first pair was a real disaster, second a bit better and they are looking pretty good now. Other than that- back to school for my last semester. Grad school couldn't be over soon enough for me. I'm so burned out! I'm still excited about my field (Environmental Studies) and love teaching when I can get it, but I just want to get on with life.
Big day yesterday- The Inauguration. WOW! What a great speech, so hopeful, positive and what a great honesty. Very refreshing since the evil empire has been overturned. And I see today that all "questioning" at GITMO has stopped. Why not move all of the "prisoners" to W's ranch in Crawford? They are his guests, let him deal with them.

this year:
--I've bought my carbon offsets- I'm carbon neutral for the year.
--I've been taking the bus and leaving the car at home. I moved my car into an empty driveway across the street and DH panicked and thought my car had been stolen. tee hee.
--The kitten is now a year old and bigger than the older three year old kitty. Pictures to follow if I can get them to quit fighting. It starts as play then he gets rowdy and she whaps him.
--My stitching challenge was completed last year and I have two new pieces to finish this year.
--I'm turning... well, less than 50. How did I ever get so old, and even more bizarre.. how do I have a kid almost 30 and a husband that can eat off the senior menu?