Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Of Ostriches and Books...

I'll be back, when I'm feeling a bit more "lighthearted" and normal again. Bogged down by terrible worries and concerns. Nothing  that is any big deal at all - it will all work out, as things ALWAYS do. At least I am enough of an optimist to truly KNOW that. They will. But sometimes when your slogging your way through them, it's easier just not to use your energy to do more than you have to, you know? And it's not that I am concerned anyone is missing MY riveting posts - just that I haven't been keeping up with comments on anyone else's posts, and that makes me feel bad. I still am reading, every single day, but it just seems too hard to come up with something witty or caring or genuine to say, and I hate commenting JUST for the sake of commenting. I have some really, really, really good "blog friends" and I just didn't want you to think I had drifted away. Still here. Will be back shortly, after a brief intermission!
In the meantime, my best cure for worrying, after hours spent trying to figure things out, is becoming the proverbial ostrich, sticking my head in the sand and assuming if I can't "see" the things to worry about, then they aren't there, right? And the way I do that best? Read. Read. Read. And then, read some more. I am a voracious reader in the best of times - when I'm REALLY trying to avoid something? It's ALL I do.
Thankfully, I have a GREAT book right now to lose myself in. I highly recommend it. It's called ADA BLACKJACK  A True Story of Survival in the Arctic   by Jennifer Niven.  It's about a group of explorers who went to Wrangell Island, in the Arctic, near Siberia, in 1921, taking this lone Eskimo woman with them as a seamstress, and she, alone, was the only survivor. It is an amazing story. And I need to get back to it.
What is the best book YOU have read lately? 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Heroes Have Always Been....Mushers

Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Not quite a Willie Nelson ring, top ten ring, but I like it better. Someday I'll have to do a post on my obsession with and love for dogsledding, for mushing,  But suffice it to say, tonight, that I am one VERY excited girl. Lance Mackey just won his 4th consecutive Iditarod in Nome today, and I couldn't be happier. There are many mushers I root for, for many different reasons, every year, but ever since I met Lance four years ago in Alaska before his first win, I have been rooting for him. He is the most down-to-earth guy I have ever met. He reminds me very much of my brothers, my brothers' friends, people I grew up with, people around here. He could live here, in Allegany County, and fit right in. There is nothing high and mighty, nothing pretentious,  about him (really, there isn't about MOST mushers - that's one of the things I like most about them) Lance is NICE. Back four years ago, I felt like he really DESERVED a win. He's been through a lot - cancer, among a lot of other tough things. There are just good stories around his life, his rise through the mushing world. He's tough. He's strong. He's a good guy. And I really, really like him, and I'm really, really glad he won the Iditarod today. GO Lance!! He joins the ranks of a few others who have won 4 times, and one other musher has actually won 5 times, but NONE of them have been consecutive wins like Lance's. And I don't think any of those wins came back to back with wins or near-wins at the Yukon Quest, as Lance's have been. Two of the toughest sled dog races in the world, back to back, and Lance has been there. And done that. And done it again. I'm so very happy for him.  And I LOVE the two quotes I just read tonight:

"He could take your dogs and beat his team with your dogs. That's how good of a musher he is," said Hugh Neff, who's currently in sixth place and taking his 8-hour stopover.

Zach Steer (current 12th) said: "He's what our sport needed a few years ago. Came along at the right time. People love him because he's genuine."

He is genuine. A genuine hero, in my book.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In Just by e.e.cummings

in Just-

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

IN Just-

spring when the world is mud-

luscious the little

lame baloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come

running from marbles and

piracies and it's


when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer

old baloonman whistles

far and wee

and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and






baloonMan whistles




The temperature here has been warming up the past few days. Today was in the 50's! Sunshine has been abundant. I'm grateful it is truly beginning to feel like spring. But all the ice and snow in my back yard? Now turning quickly to mud. Muddy, mucky, wet, dirty MUD. I have four dogs hooked to runs in that said backyard. Four fairly LARGE, farily energetic, dogs who are VERY eager to see me at 3:30 every day, after spending much of THEIR day running around and through those puddlewonderful, mud-luscious spots in the yard! . So, mud? Not really my favorite. But ... who can resist words like "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful" ? Not me. My favorite spring time poem. If my dogs can't resist the mud, I might as well embrace it, and all 16 muddy paws, too!!  :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What Can I Say?

I am a Girlyman freak. A girlyfan. A "Girlyman Girlyfan."

Friday, March 5th, 8 pm
Only 3 hours from home, this time!

Nate is just adorable. Yep, HE'S a freak! Yep, he has sticky up dyed whitish blonde hair, and pink eye makeup. He's gay. And Doris, she's bi. And my favorite, Ty, below, is also gay. Thus, the whole name, Girlyman. And I am a 47 year old heterosexual, monogomous, married-for-22-years-with-4-children, adult. With the hugest, hugest girl crush on Ty, who is way too young for me anyway. But she's SO cute, and she's SO sensitive! But oh my gosh, the music these three people can make. The harmonies. The stories behind the lyrics (Here's one I didn't know til Friday. The song, "Reva Thereafter"  - on their Joyful Sign cd - was written about Nate's grandmother, who was a Psychologist, and who practiced and saw patients up until a week before she died, at age 92. She shot herself at 92.  She was also Gloucester's first female lobster fisherman. How cool is that? Totally makes the lyrics make sense all of a sudden, after all these years.)  Honestly, they could be three headed green vomit spewing extra-terrestrials, but if they still sang like they do now, I'd STILL be making many hour-ed trips to stand in line to be first in the door to their shows.
The picture on the top right, where Nate is holding his hands up. That was their final song, and it is the purely acappello version with three part harmony of "Up to the Sea."  (Click on the Girlyman link, and go to the Everything's Easy cd, find that, and listen - it's not their best song ever, but  just listen for the harmony in it, close your eyes, and picture them standing there, singing their hearts out, just for me. It was AMAZING.
The harmony is also fantastic on the title song, "Everything's Easy." They actually sing in a round, with three totally different parts going. If I knew how to link a Youtube video here, I would do that, so you could just hear it, without having to go find it. But if you have time, go find it. There's also a great song they played on Friday night that is not on any of their cds. It's an old one, St. Stephen's. You can find that on Youtube, also from their recent Cleveland show.
I guess, perhaps in part because I can't carry a tune in a bucket, I am just in love with the sounds they can make. What a gift.

And?  They are coming to a place only an hour from me for an outdoor concert in June, (Livonia) and that means I have 3.5 months to lose three of the extra chins so prominent in my portrait with Ty. Maybe if I lose 50 pounds by June 27th, she'll  return my crush?  Or ask ME for a picture? Yeah, I didn't think so, but a girl can dream, right? I'll try not to post again about them until June 28th, so if you're sick of hearing about them, make sure you skip this place that day!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cold Days, Hot Drinks

The mason jar above is all that is left of two full quart jars of elderberry syrup I was able to make this fall. I've never had it before, but I LOVE it as tea. A couple of tablespooons in a mug, a dash of lemon juice to cut the sweetness, and fill it with hot water, and it makes an awesome, sweet berry tea, without the tea flavor.
In addition, it is FULL of Vitamin C, or antioxidants, or something. I swear by it. I have literally not had a cold since a year ago February. Some of that can be attributed to the sinus surgery I had in April, but I KNOW a lot of it is this drink, too. Look it up - elderberry is GOOD for you!

The second drink I found, just by accident, in The Christmas Tree Shoppe, at Christmas time. It is hot spiced cider mix, boiled down to a concentrate. Again, a couple of tablespoons of it, hot water, and you have instant hot spiced apple cider that doesn't taste like instant. I've had those packets of dry cider mix before - umm, yuck? But this is good stuff. I couldn't find more at the CTS, so I ordered another bottle on line, at Gormly's ( ( It makes a gallon, for $7.95.  Good deal. And I'm sure it will last me through next winter, or some of it, as well as the rest of this winter. I love it.

And the last of my new "discoveries" this winter: hot water, lemon juice, and spiced honey. I guess this is not NEW to some people - and in fact, I guess if you threw in a shot of some good whiskey, this is probably a really OLD drink. (Is this what is referred to as a "hot toddy"? ) But I made my own spiced honey from a local beekkeeper this fall, and again, since I don't like TEA, this is sort of tea-like, but without that tea flavor. I just REALLY like a hot drink in the evenings, and these three have been my constants this winter.

OH yeah, and then there have been a few days, just a few, mind you, when THIS is the drnk of choice at night. OK, so it's not HOT, but it isn't cold, either. If it can't be hot, I'll happily take room temperature (I don't like ANY drink cold, not even in the summer. I NEVER put my pop in the frig, nor will I drink juice or anything that is cold. I HATE ice cubes in ANY drink...)  This is not my favorite wine, but thankfully, it was at least good. I say thankfully, because I tend to almost always buy my wine based on the label. I bought this one in Maine a couple of summer's ago. Who could resist a bottle with 3 Blind Moose on it? Obviously I couldn't. But it is the ONLY bottle of 5 I bought that week in Maine that I could actually stand to drink. The rest I took a sip, passed the bottle off to my husband, and saved the cool labels when he was done!  If you enlarge the picture, you will see that my VSWG (very special wine glass) is from MacGregor Winery, my FAVORITE winery in the Finger Lakes, (  they DO have my favorite wines there. It was a particularly bad night the night I took this picture - I had my glass of wine with a 2 Motrin chaser. 
(And? I have no idea why the first words in this post are blue, and underlined. Just one of the many mysteries in my life, for which I really have no time to spend pondering today)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Snow Day- Like Candy for Teachers! :)

We had a snow day Friday. It came with a "winter storm warning" for so many days ahead that I was sure we WOULDN"T get one. A friend and fellow teacher of mine was so right when she said, "We only get a snow day if the weatherman is WRONG. The more hype, the less snow."  Even in this case, she was right, because we got SOME snow, even a lot of snow, I guess, by this winter's standards, but it didn't all come at once. It was pretty steady snow, on and off, from Thursday through the weekend. But on Friday morning, it wasn't snowing heavily, as predicted, and it wasn't "hurricane strength winds," as also predicted. Yeah, it was a little blowy, but not too bad. All in all, based on what I saw when I let the dogs out at 2 am, I was totally NOT anticipating a snow day. To the point where, by the time the alarm had gone off at 6:10, and then again at 6:20, I was thinking about getting up, showered and dressed for school. The phone rang, and instead of "knowing" it was the snow tree call, I thought,"Oh crud, my dad is back to making those early morning confused phone calls."  I was DOUBLY thrilled then when it actually WAS the call to cancel school. Usually they come before 6 am, so by 20 after 6, it was totally off my mind.  I was pretty excited sounding, sort of like a kid, when I had to make my two calls to further the snow tree.. Those are ALMOST the best kind of snow days. (The BEST best kind are when there's no weather forecast at all and you get one anyways - the pipes burst, the boilers don't work and there's no heat, the electricity went out during the night, too many people are out of school due to the flu, etc. etc. Unfortunately, I can't even remember the last time I had one of those.) But hey, a day off is a day off, so... I tried to go back to sleep, but Bramble will only "sleep" or let me do so, until about 7, once she has gone out when T gets up at 6:20. And I was really pretty much too excited to sleep anyway.  So, sleeping in was not on the agenda, but snoozing later during the day was, along with some crocheting, and lots and lots of watching Bramble and Annie chase each other around the yard. We have a hill of dirt and rocks that we never moved when the yard was dug up for the pool, and I swear they play King (Queen?) of the Hill. They race and race and race around the yard, and then Annie will grab Bramble and throw her down, and then Bramble will slip out from under her, and take off, and come in from behind to grab Annie's leg and pull it out from under her. Their point, once they gain the top of the dirt pile, is to see which one can knock the other one down.   Anyway, I let them out in the snow to watch them do this several times this day, just to let them burn off their energy, and to get some laughs. I can't help but laugh as they race and race and race. And it makes me especially happy that Bramble PLAYS with Annie. My other two dogs, Abai and Willow, are l-a-z-y, and far too dignified to play with Annie. She used to have her brother, Moose, to run and play with, but since Moose was killed accidentally two years ago, Annie has missed having someone to match her husky energy level. I was really hoping when I got Bramble that one of the extra, good, things about her would be her puppy energy level - that SHE would want to play with Annie. And she does. And it makes me smile. Snow day or not, But especially on a snow day.