Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away...PLEASE

Number of Active Alerts: 1

ALERT 1 - Areal Flood Advisory

Issued: Thursday, September 30, 2010 12:21 PM EDT
Expires: Thursday, September 30, 2010 8:15 PM EDT
Back to Summary
Flood Advisory
National Weather Service Buffalo NY
1221 PM EDT Thu Sep 30 2010

1221 PM EDT Thu Sep 30 2010

The National Weather Service In Buffalo Has Issued A

• Flood Advisory For...
Allegany County In Western New York...
This Includes The City Of Wellsville...
Livingston County In Western New York...
This Includes The Cities Of...Geneseo...Dansville...
Monroe County In Western New York...
This Includes The Cities Of...Webster...Rochester...Irondequoit...
Hilton...Greece...Gates-North Gates...Gates...Fairport...East

• Until 815 PM Edt

• At 1212 PM EDT National Weather Service Doppler Radars Indicated A
Large Swath Of Moderate To Heavy Rain Extending From Allegany County
And The Finger Lakes Region Southwards Across Much Of Central
Pennsylvania. This Soaking Rain Will Move North Across The Region
Before Tapering Off This Afternoon And Early Evening.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions...

A General Half To One Inch Of Rain Has Already Fallen Across The
Finger Lakes Region And Allegany County Through 12 Noon...With Up To
Another 2 Inches Of Rain Possible Before It Tapers Off This Evening.
Total Rainfall From This Event Over The Advised Area Is Expected To
Range From One And A Half To Two And A Half Inches. Higher Rainfall
Amounts Will Be Found Further East.

Excessive Runoff From Heavy Rainfall Will Cause Elevated Levels On
Small Creeks And Streams...And Ponding Of Water On Country Roads And
Farmland Along The Banks Of Creeks And Streams.

To Report Flooding...Have The Nearest Law Enforcement Agency Relay
Your Report To The National Weather Service Forecast Office.
Thursday, September 30, 2010Lo: 51° FHi: 62° F
3 pm     59° F    100%    100%    59° F    From ESE 9 mph    56° F    90%
4 pm     59° F    100%    100%    59° F    From SW 10 mph    57° F    93%
5 pm     58° F    100%    100%    58° F    From NNW 10 mph    57° F    96%
6 pm     58° F    100%    100%    58° F    From NNW 10 mph    56° F    93%
Sunset: 6:56 PMMoon Phase: 52%
7 pm     57° F    99%    100%    57° F    From NNW 11 mph    55° F    93%
8 pm     57° F    99%    100%    57° F    From NNW 11 mph    54° F    90%

So apparently, there are no hurricanes, tornadoes, or power outages in my immediate future, but Noah's got nothing on us today. Perhaps my funk DOES have to do with the weather. A little sun? Just a little? Just a peak at it would be phenomenal.  A tad less in the precipitation department??? 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ugh - That's All; Just Ugh

Fighting the blues, or the blahs, or whatever.  I don't know why. I keep feeling like I KNOW I should be happy or more cheerful than this.  Things at school are ok. Things are ok with my dad - pretty much status quo. No big ups or downs. Things at home are ok. Nothing exciting.
I'm losing weight. That's good. My roomie at school is ok this year. Complains a bit, we don't see eye to eye on many things, but in general, much happier than last year. My chickens are well, my dogs are well, my cats are well. My house is a mess, and my carpets are dirty, but whatever. I don't even care, as long as no one stops by.
The weather has been dreary for days on end, but it's not freezing cold, it's not horribly hot, it's just "eh" sort of weather. I've had a bad cold, which has had me hacking up a lung for two weeks, but it hasn't turned into pneumonia, and doesn't appear that it is going to this time. That's good, right?  I'm tired from fighting it, tired from coughing so much and so hard, tired from still having to get up two or three times a night with one of my dogs. Yeah, I could use a lot more and better sleep, but I'm kinda used to this, so that isn't really it. What IS it?
     My brother just returned from a week-long fishing trip to Alaska. To Homer, as a matter of fact. One of my favorite places in Alaska. I'm jealous that he got to go, and I spent the week looking at my old pictures of Homer, wishing I could be there too.  But, then, I ALWAYS want to go to Alaska. Or Georgia. Or Colorado. Or Montana, or Idaho, or Wyoming. Or Sweden, or ... or, anywhere that isn't here. I was even a little TINY bit excited to go to Cleveland, Ohio for three days this summer. I LOVE to travel. I need travel like I need my books. But travel costs lots and lots of money, and there isn't ANY of that, so I know I won't be traveling ANYwhere for a very long time. Is that it?  I don't think so. Although I do think it might be a tiny part of it. Planning for travel, looking forward to it - that's exciting. I have nothing to look forward to right now.  Except worrying about paying for two tuitions again this year, and all the financial stress that will bring. That's a fun thing to look forward to . And Christmas. That's coming. Another stressful, rather than  an anticipated, time for me. But it's not stress I'm feeling. It's nothing. Nothing at all is what I'm feeling.
     Blah. I just feel totally BLAH. I want something exciting to happen. I don't even care what it is. I know, I know. People say be careful what you wish for. Wishing for "something" to happen, ANYTHING out of the ordinary, to happen. Preferably something good, but hey... anything to break this stasis of mood I'm in.
I'm in a funk, and I don't like it. I want out.
     It doesn't help that I know it is my responsibilty to pull myself out of it, and yet, I don't even feel like doing so.  Maybe tomorrow. Maybe. Maybe we'll have a freak snowstorm in early October.  Or a hurricane. Or maybe an electrical breaker will blow down overnight, taking out all the power, and school will have to be cancelled and I will get to spend a few hours sleeping off this funk.
Maybe. But probably not.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"She is just my Dog"

"She is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. She is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. She has told me a thousand times over that I am her reason for being; by the way she rests against my leg; by the way she thumps her tail at my smallest smile; by the way she shows her hurt when I leave without taking her. (I think it makes her sick with worry when she is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, she is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, she clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, she is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, she ignores it. When I succeed, she brags. Without her, I am only another man. With her, I am all-powerful. She is loyalty itself. She has taught me the meaning of devotion. With her, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. She has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. Her head on my knee can heal my human hurts. Her presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. She has promised to wait for me... whenever... wherever - in case I need her. And I expect I will - as I always have. She is just my dog."

- Gene Hill

(To give proper credit, the original uses "He" and "him."  I changed it, because all my current dogs are female, most especially the Bramble girl)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Naming of Cats

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
(Patch- the other "prison brother")

First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.

There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.

But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover -
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

- T.S. Eliot

(from "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats")
Dagda- my mighty hunter, and one of the two "prison boys"  He and his brother Patch were born at a correctional facility near here, and raised and fed in the yard by the inmates, but were going to be killed come fall/winter when the inmates weren't outside to feed them anymore. We rescued two of them - friends took the rest.  
Tequila, aka "Fat Cat"  - having put on about 20 lbs since                     
two abscessed teeth were removed this summer                                Katie, aka "Stinky cat  She NEEDS a
                                                                                                        dental visit

Bug - cat with a disproportionately large body and tiny little head.  Also appears to have had several different fathers.  Her mother was a hussy.
Oreo. She was one of a pair of sisters, with Doublestuff looking similar, but with a much bigger white stripe underneathe.  Dubby disappeared one year when we were on vacation, and all these years later, we miss her still.   And then, there's AZ.  Who is growing, slowly, but who has totally grown under my heart. She's snuggly and purry and lovable.
I don' t know how we ended up with all these cats. I really love dogs best. But they do add immeasureable love and happiness to my life despite that. But please, NO MORE CATS FOR ME.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Hundred (ok, really only 15) Acre Woods

Many years ago, we made a good decision for possibly bad, or at least very unrealistic, reasons. We bought 15 acres of wooded land, about 25 miles from where we now live in town, from a good friend of ours who is a land developer. He buys land in huge portions, breaks it up, and resells it in smaller sizes. At the time that we bought it, we had grand illusions of building a HUGGGGGE house, (it was only approximately 5,500 or 6,500 square feet; you know, no big deal or anything. Three stories, room for each kid, walk- in finished basement, a "cedar log home," etc. etc. ) The friend we purchased our land from gave us a screaming deal we couldn't refuse, and they also were planning to keep an adjoining few acres themselves to build THEIR home on. Friends AND neighbors. That would have been awesome. Truly. Well, when reality hit, as it has a way of doing when one is raising 4 small children, as we were back then, although the amount space that sized house would have offered us could have been put to good use, we couldn't afford to build it. And then, our friends' plans changed, and they sold off their lot in the woods, leaving our 15 acres sandwiched in between two "hunting camps," owned by people from the city. Over the years, as our land got little "use" (we did go over to pitch a tent and camp there occasionally, and have campfires, and our sons' boy scout troup used it for overnights as well), and things would get tight, financially, I would beg and plead that the reasonable solution to our latest crisis was to sell that land. Obviously since our friends gave us such a great deal when we bought the land, we could have made a decent amount of money by selling it at the going rate for good, wooded, hunting land. And then, too, there are the school and property taxes we pay every year on land that we are, essentially, not using. It just made sense to me. And frankly, HAD we sold it, my life really wouldn't be terribly different or any the less at this point. But every time I brought it up, it was steadfastly shot down and flat out refused. Owning land has some sort of power I guess that I neer really understood. Still don't, really, I guess. However, also knowing what I know now, with 20 years + experience at "looking back," I don't think selling our land would have solved any long term issues here for us, financially. Yeah, it might have paid a few bills faster, might have paid off a car sooner, but I have no doubt we would STILL be trying to borrow from Peter to pay Paul, still be struggling to pay two college tuitions at once (soon to be three at once - ergh), still never quite making ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck, because financial management is just not a strength in this household. SO, having acknowledged that, I can NOW say, I'm GLAD we still have our land. We don't go there really any more often now than any other time, but finally, FINALLY, there is actual progress being made in turning our piece of woods into something more user-friendly. I have a friend at work whose husband runs a sawmill just down the road and around the corner from our land. He's been in cutting down all the larch, soft pine, and other wood that is NOT useful to us to have growing there, thinning it out as is good for the woods, letting more sunlight for the hardwoods that need a few more years before cutting to reach their full potential value. So., he's thinning out our woods, getting wood for himself to use for his sawmill business, and in return, instead of paying us in cash for the wood he is taking, he is putting in a driveway for us, clearing the area where our cabin, the first building we will put up, will go, and then, we will be able to get some wood back from him with which to put up a small cabin. Once a cabin goes us, THEN the land becomes FAR more useful to us. If we had had a cabin there all these years, it would have gotten constant weekend and summer use. But to get a cabin back in where we want to build it meant having to have a driveway put in to get the materials back there. Now, we will have one. And putting up even a cabin when you're trying to pay for raising 4 kids (not complaining - just stating a fact - raising kids is expensive!) is out of the question - but this? This is win-win for both of us. I like to think of it as bartering at it's best. I just wonder, what took us so long to think of it? And my someday goal now? A house. But, not with 5,500 square feet. Not even close. Who on earth would want to clean a house THAT big? Now? Now I just want a small, comfortable, snug little house in the woods to retire to, and the cabin that will hopefully go up soon can eventually become my "guesthouse" where my kids and grandkids can sleep when they come to visit. Funny how our dreams change over time, yet remain, at their core, very much the same.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Sat BESIDE "The Hairy Women of Klipnocky " at the Demo yesterday - for real

     Another demo yesterday. My 15 year old daughter and her friend decided to go with me.  This demo is held in a town that is, well, ...  hard to describe without sounding very condescending. "Backwards" would be sort of nice, but not entirely accurate.  You  have to know something about small, rural counties In New York State (perhaps also in other states as well; no expert there)  in order to really "get" the full picture. About the most APT description I could give is that it is VERY economically deprived, and it's residents show that.  I'm not sure there is ANY employer in the "town" except the school, a gas station, and a very, very small "grocery" store which, last I knew, really only stocked canned goods.  It is almost as though people there seemed to have just climbed out from under a rock.  It's in the far, far Northeast corner of our county, so far away that kids from the school there do not even attend our BOCES - they go to a neighboring county's because it is closer. We do play them in sports, occasionally, but I think that is only because it is tough to find enough schools as small as ours in our league.  In general, our paths seldom cross, and that's probably for the best. 
     Now, this girl of mine who went with me is "girly-girly."  Both my girls are. (Why, Lord, why?)  Spends an hour on her hair every morning, chooses her outfit the night before school every day by trying on ten, would not be caught dead without makeup. Pretty much everything I am not.  So, the routine before the demo yesterday for clothes, hair, nails, etc. is the same. She came downstairs with her hair CURLED even. She is a very pretty girl, and  looked exceptionally nice yesterday. (I think that MIGHT have had something to do with their plans to run over to the school, which is next door to the firehall/demo, for a soccer game where our school DID happen to be playing their school - but, I've never really seen her NOT look nice, so, I won't judge, here...)
     First thing, as we get to the demo and sit down, and she looks around, she says, in a whisper to me, "Uh, I don't really fit IN here..."  I almost choked. Yeah, ya think, baby girl?  So,,, besides teaching them all the "rules" of demo-ing that I've learned over the summer, here are the OTHER things the girls learned yesterday about the people from this strange, strange town:

You might be from Town XXX , if...
  • you don't believe in dental care, and it wouldn't matter if you did, because you don't have more than three teeth in your head anyway
  • you chain smoke, on welfare, at ten dollars a pack, even while pregnant
  • you do not weigh LESS than 350 pounds
  • you feed your children Cheesies and generic brand pop all day, even in their bottles
  • you bring ALL of your children with you to the derby, which by the way, lasted nearly 9 hours, and you never once get up off the bleachers to watch them, or offer them a change of scenery
  • the newborn? Oh yeah, he comes along too.  (Did you know demos are SO LOUD that many "seasoned" veterans of the bleacher crew bring their own soundproof earphones?)  Yeah, it's ok. If he's sleeping through it, it must not be bothering HIS ears. And if he's crying, well it must be because he needs more of that Grape Soda in his bottle  
  • I am not making ANY of this up - I swear to god...
  • You raise your children by SCREAMING at them (remember, don't get up; don't wonder whether they might just possibly be slightly BORED by sitting on the bleachers for 9 hours at a basically adult-type activity or employ any of those other semi-intelligent parenting skills...)
  • oh, when you SCREAM at your child to get back up on the bleachers, you insert the "F" word into your sentence at LEAST three times, as in, "Get your F-ing A** back up here on the F-ing bleachers before I f-ing come down there and BEAT your f-ing a**.  (Child is NOT bright, but does know, of course, that you, mom, or aunt, or grandma, or big sister with the baby - big is relative; the average age there with newborns SERIOUSLY looked to be about 15 - is NOT going to get up off YOUR 350 pound a** to come beat yours. She will just continue to YELL at you for another 6 or 7 hours, because there, in that town, apparently that is how EVERYONE raises their children.
  • three women to my left had 5:00 shadow, and needed a good shave (I am NOT lying - ask my daughter)
  • "sumbitch" is a word they know well, although any other grammatically correct item out of their mouths was either not to be, or too hard to understand when their bottom lip caves in on their gums...,
  • bras have yet to be discovered there by the women-folk, but hickeys stand out clearly on their necks, so must be their men don't mind
  • razors, for men, is apparently a newfangled invention which has ALSO not a popular item there
This demo was held as a part of Town XXX's "Fall Festival."  If we went back today, we could have attended the "Hairy Women of Klipnocky" talent and beauty (?) contest at 1:00. (Kilpnocky is an actual State Forest nearby, and the stories of the "Hairy Women" are legend, and have been around for years and years.   I know, at this point, you think this whole post is totally tonge-in-cheek, and I am SO not kidding about ANY of this.   Here is the actual advertisement for the contest I found on line by googling it today:

HAIRY WOMEN OF KLIPNOCKY BEAUTY CONTESTSUNDAY SEPTEMBER 19, 20101 P.M.OK, so you’re asking yourself…just what exactly is a Hairy Woman??? Well, the answer is a little vague. The Hairy Women of Klipnocky is a local legend about a family of sisters who tragically lost their parents and were left to raise themselves in the hills of Klipnocky. (Yes, it’s really a place.) Of course, living in the hills of the KlipnockyState Forest they probably became wild and hairy, right? How else would they keep warm and survive? Depending on who you talk to about the Hairy Women, you will get several different versions of this legend. Each one is sure to entertain you and each one gets crazier than the last. So from this legend came the idea of a beauty contest. What started as a fun idea for the festival has turned into a great crowd pleaser with huge cash prizes!!! Here’s how it works. Participants dress themselves as their idea of a Hairy Woman. They are interviewed by the self appointed “Mayor” of Klipnocky and answer a few questions from our questionnaire. Finally, they are asked to show off their talent. Judging is done by local “Mayors” and results are tallied by the Festival Staff. There are two age groups: Students and Adults. Prizes are given in both categories. There is no cost to enter.So, are you Hairy Woman material? Do you have what it takes to bring homethe big prize and the bragging rights for the next year? Go ahead and join us. Disguise yourself and your voice and be whatever Hairy Woman character you’d like!!! Or let everyone know who you are and have a ball! The possibilities are endless. Don’t forget you’ll be asked to show your talent. In the past this has included dancing, armpit hair braiding, booger flinging (I know, gross. It was slime.), amazing pet tricks, singing and many, many more wild and crazy things. Rise to the challenge and see ifyou (or you and your friends) can defeat the reigning “beauty”! Come to the Festival Staff Tent to get your questionnaire and be entered into the contest. Oh, and one more thing, please remember this is a family show and keep it clean!!!

Still think I'm kidding about the education my daughter and her friend got yesterday?


Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Love My School Librarian

Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life.  Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.  ~Christopher Morley

Anytime I find a book title that looks like a book I want to read, I immediately store the title in my Amazon shopping cart, so I don't forget it.  I seldom BUY books from there for myself anymore but it's a good memory jogger of what I want to read.  This past week, I rounded up a bunch of titles from my cart, and sent them to the librarian at my school. In addition to ALWAYS being able to get me titles of books I want to use in class with my kids, which she did again this week, she will also inter-library loan (ILL) books that I simply want to read myself. They come from all over the place - some from college libraries, some from in-state city libraries (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany; I've even had some come from NYC libraries in Brooklyn, Manhattan, etc.)  Since many of the titles I want to read are Alaska books, I have even had books come by ILL directly FROM Alaskan libraries - University at Fairbanks, Anchorage Public Library, etc.  It amazes me that that can and does happen for me. I am amazed and grateful beyond belief that she takes the time to do this for me, and amazed that a book I want to read which is a "local" reading selection, by a "local" author, can wind it's way from Alaska to my hands, for me to borrow and to read, in a matter of days. Right now, it is Christmas in September for me, and I am a wealthy woman, rich with reading material, obtained free, thanks to my librarian.  The titles I have found placed on my desk at school in the morning this past week include:
  • Tide, Feather, Snow     by Miranda Weiss
  • Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs  Family Friendships and Faith in Small Town Alaska  by Heather Lende
  • The Blue Bear  A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild     by Lynn Schooler
  • The Only Kayak  A Journey into the Heart of Alaska   by Kim Heacox
  • Ghost of Spirit Bear (a sequel to Touching Spirit Bear, one of my very favorite YA books) Ben Mikaelsen
  • and a very NON-ALASKA book, Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela

In additon to these titles, I also just finished a week or two ago If You Lived Here, I Would Know Your Name, also by Heather Lende, who writes from Haines, Alaska   which was excellent, and therefore the reason I asked for the second book by her, and
The Call of the Wild, My Escape to Alaska by Guy Grieve, which I did NOT like. I thought he was a selfish, self-centered person, who took advantage of MANY people, people he didn't know at all, for no particular purpose other than to follow some self-centered whim he woke up with one day. He also left a wife and two little boys at home for a year, on their own, to follow this whim. NOT a sympathetic read for me, as someone who has deferred MANY dreams of my own, INCLUDING living in Alaska, simply BECAUSE I have children.

While I was waiting for more books to arrive last week, I began one I bought at a used book store this summer, called Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography - The True Story of a Boy's Coming of Age in APartheid South Africa    by Mark Mathabane. I had gotten about 2/3's through it before I put it down to begin The Only Kayak, my UPstairs reading book, and Tide, Feather, Snow, my DOWNstairs reading book which I began and spent an hour with over coffee this morning, in a silent, peaceful house devoid of it's usual Saturday morning television noise.  It's funny that the Kaffir Boy book that I picked off a shelf of a used bookstore in Ithaca when we went to Farm Sanctuary this summer, a totally random selection purchased just because it looked like an interesting read about an aspect of a life and culture I know little about, ended up coinciding rather nicely with the Nelson Mandela book, Long Walk to Freedom, that I requested based on Mandela's unique writing history of this book (and thus, really ordered as a tie-in to my writing classes, to share with them.) I like it when things come together that way, unplanned. Karma. I love it. (When it isn't busy biting my in my hind quarters, I love it...)
I think I have one more coming, in this latest requested batch of books, another Lynn Schooler one entitled Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart.
NOW, the only problem I have, just a small one, and a good one TO have, is, where do I make the time to read all of these in order to still accomplish all that is on my to-do list for the weekend and the week ahead?  Today I have a farmer's market and demo to attend, grape jam to make from my neighbor's grapes growing plentifully over MY back fence (they know, and have already offered to share all that I want, so I'm not stealing, just because they are actually in my yard!),a little bit of school work/correcting/grade entering to do, and a whole LOT of housecleaning and laundry and dishes to get done (yuck). Oh, and a lawn that needs one last mowing before I can put the mower away. Oh, and some extra sleep to fight off the wonderful, welcome-back-to-school-head cold would be nice!  Not likely, but nice.
Perhaps I'll just put sleep on the back burner, ignore the mess in my house for another week, and just focus on reading this week. Maybe not the most sensible, but certainly the most fun. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Good Day

Yesterday was.

1.  I found the Bobble water bottle at J.C.Penney's I wanted, and bought it. It was on sale. It's a water bottle that has its own carbon filter, which means I can now drink the nasty, town water at school (I am even lucky enough to have a sink in my room, so I don't even have to go down the hall to the drinking fountain to refill it).  Now, I don't have to remember to bring water with me to school from our bottled water supply at home (we pay $5.00 per five gallon bottle, because our town water is so full of chlorine and other chemicals that is is undrinkable, as is), nor do I have to buy cases of single-use disposable water bottles that, empty,  litter the landfills. I saw this bottle for the first time a couple weeks ago, thought about it a lot, and then, once I dedided I DID want it, had to wait for payday, and a chance to run to the mall for some other reason besides just that, to pick one up. Now I have one, and I'm excited!  I'm looking forward to drinking water during the day, as a way to help aid my current weight loss plan...  right now, ALL I drink is a ton of coffee during the morning, Diet Pepsi in the afternoon, and a mug of elderberry syrup "tea" before bed.  I am pretty sure water will be good for me, even though I don't especially like it.

2.  I gave blood.  I only started giving blood a couple years ago, when the drive was being held for a close friend's granddaughter. I would do anything to help my friend help her granddaughter - if getting over my fear of giving blood (needles - ick) could help her, then I would do it. I did. THEY helped ME get through it, get over my fear, and I've gotta say, it was a piece of cake. Holy cow is it easy to donate blood. So next time I went, I gave double platelets. That was cool.  And then, for whatever reason, I have no idea why, I haven't donated for more than a year. Yesterday, as I was walking through the mall with my daughter, I saw that there was a Red Cross blood drive going on - and I felt a little twinge of guilt, that I SHOULD stop and give, but,,, it was her birthday, and I didn't want to take up HER time. But then, they ASKED me if I would donate, and my "baby girl" (who turned 15!) said she really didn't mind if I did... so I did. And, it was September 11th, and it made me feel REALLYREALLYREALLY good to donate blood on Patriots Day. And I got a cool Tshirt that says "Do more than remember. Give blood."  Donating blood makes me feel SO good.  I'm going to try to remember to do it every two months, which is the time needed between donations, so I can feel good more often!

3.  I have now lost between 10 and 14 pounds, depending on what date I use as a start date. From my heaviest, it's been 14 pounds. From when I really started TRYING to lose weight, and eating better, I've lost ten pounds. So, really, I only consider it a ten pound loss. And that's not a huge big deal except that a) I've never really been able to lose, or lost, any weight before; this is a first for me, and b) now I know I CAN do it, so I'm a lot more hopeful that I will be ABLE to reach my ultimate goal (shhh - 36 more pounds... I know, it's a LOT of weight to need to lose...) and c) its enough that I can put away the fat pants I bought in June, thinking I was inevitably headed towards that bigger size. They were a LITTLE too big, but comfortable, and the ones I WAS wearing were very UNcomfortable. Now, those are comfortable again, and the bigger ones are really just too big.  Obviously I'm hoping to go down another couple of sizes, but for now... I'll take it.

Yesterday was a good day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

71 cents for 10 Gallons

Oh how I WISH I was talking about the price of gas. Unfortuntaely, I am not, but the price of TIDE does not seem to be too far behind!  Laundry soap is expensive and doesn't last too long around here, with the amount of laundry I seem to do.  Last spring, just because I could,  - a friend told me about it and showed me how - I made my own laundry soap, and have used it ever since. I actually JUST ran out, and in thinking about the fact that I am now in need of more, it means I am at a crossroads, of sorts.  I either have to go back to BUYING laundry soap, or I can make up another batch and continue using the homemade soap.  I have decided to just continue to make my own.  It's cheap.  It gets our clothes clean. I can add essential oil to give it some scent, if I choose. I usually add lavender oil to loads of shirts, sheets, towels - those things that I like a little scent on, and I've been adding sweet orange oil to the loads of my son's grease-monkey jeans, and I like how those come out as well.  It's cheap. It only takes a little bit of time to make up, and all you need is a 5 gallon bucket with a lid to keep it in. I use a clean, rinsed out, gallon milk jug to keep it in for daily use. I use a measuring cup with a lip (like the pouring lip) to pour the soap mixture from the bucket into the gallon jug.  Fill the jug HALF full of soap mixture, then add water to fill the other half. I keep a plastic cup on top of the washer that has a line marked at 1/4 cup with a permanent marker, so I can just pour from the gallon jug to that cup for each load.  Then, if I'm going to, I add drops of essential oil to that 1/4 cup, and wash. I don't add the oil to the whole gallon, or to the 5 gallon bucket, because it is the most expensive part of making your own laundrysoap, it isn't necessary, and there are some loads of laundry I don't care if they smell extra nice or not. Like really, do I care if a load of our socks and underwear smell like lavendar, or am I ok with them just being and smelling clean?!  And if I throw in a load of miscellaneous things, like kitchen potholders, the dog towels, etc. I really don't need to waste the essential oils on those loads.
So, all in all, one small way to lighten my $$ load at the grocery store that has worked out well for us. Plus, I read someplace recently, can't remember where, that using TOO MUCH laundry detergent, of commercial detergents, contributes to wearing our clothes out much sooner, and actually making them dingier. I think it mentioned that if you use commercial laundry soap, that you really only need to use about half of what the directions on the bottle recommend, and much of it is water, also, as it is in the homemade soap. The consistency of this took me awhile to get used to. It isn't thick like commercial detergents, but, like I said, the proof is in the wash - it works just fine. And for 71 cents for TEN GALLONS, I can - and DID - get used to it. Oh, and did I mention? It's cheap!

Grate 1 bar of Ivory soap and add to 4 cups water.  Stir continually over medium heat until melted.

Fill 5 gal bucket 1/2 full of hot water. Add melted soap, 1 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup of Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more water. Stir let thicken over night. Cover.

Fill a laundry bottle 1/2 full with soap and fill the rest with water. (This is where I use a clean gallon milk jug, but you can use an empty laundry detergent bottle, or almost anything else you want.) Shake before each use.

Add enough drops of essential oil to each individual load to scent your laundry, if you wish. If not, leave out.
(I got my 5 gallon bucket, and a lid, at a hardware store - I think it might have been some place like ACE Hardware, but any place that sells paint, or similar things, would have them. I know Tractor Supply carries them, also.  The bucket and lid cost about $5.00 together.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ferocious Dog?

Don't take my bone?  No, just a picture snapped of Anvik, mid yawn.  She LOOKS fierce, though, doesn't she?  I let her think she is!  Really? She's just a mushball. A loveable, huggable, mushball.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Saturday (three days late and more than a dollar short...)

     Well, the good news is, the first week of school is done. And, I made it. So I guess my "short list" was a success?  And, to be honest, Friday was a decent day.  It was still 90 degrees, but instead of opening my windows and dealing with the intolerable noise, I just left the lights off to keep the room cooler,  the windows closed, and teaching was MUCH easier. It seems to be a good group of kids, even if there ARE 28 of them now. And 4 adults as well. The Special Ed teacher decided to leave her 6 kids in there, and push in, instead of pulling them out (and thus relieving ME of two of the adults, and 6 of the 28 kids...) and now the Speech teacher has decided to push in for two of my other students. Awesome. Just awesome. Oh well. It will be fine. It just takes some adjustment, but it'll be fine. 
     Today, the heat is gone. In it's place is winter. No, not really. But it has been SOOO cold today!  It has only been in the 50's today, with wind and rain.  A drastic change from the heat of this previous week, that's for sure.  Kind of a buzz-kill, weather wise, for Labor Day weekend, for those around here who camp. We have a couple of lakes near us where cidiots  people from the city have camps, or CAMP, and Labor Day weekend is usually their last big hurrah of summer. In fact, there is a big local Labor Day celebration in one of the nearby towns by one of the lakes, complete with carnival, tractor pulls, demolition derby, and big parade on Monday, chicken barbecue, and fireworks Monday night.  When I was little, no, while I was growing up, even when I was no longer "little", we "ended" summer with the Labor Day fireworks every single year. When I got married, because I only moved a few towns away from where I grew up, I insisted on making the Labor Day fireworks a tradition for MY kids as well. I wasn't nearly as successful with them as my parents were with me, in that regard. It's tough, because the kids don't have to be in school the next day, but I do.  There have been a few years when I just haven't made it - too tired and too NOT ready to start the next day, and staying up that late was just too much.  This year, I don't know. Since I have been in school for a week already, it seems sort of anticlimactic to attend the fireworks Monday night. I guess it will all depend on whether or not my 17 and 15 year olds, the only two I will have left at home by Monday night, will want to go with me or not. 
     I did go to the Demolition Derby today, despite the rainy, cold, nasty weather. Since I specifically did things with the other kids this summer that they wanted to, I decided that attending Connor's demo's were the thing that I could do for him, "with" him, so to speak, that would be special for him. He has been working all summer on demo cars, and between working on the farm, going to school and working on his demo cars, I NEVER see him. He is simply never home. But he LOVES, LOVES, LOVES the demos. And today, I finally got it. The track today was much, much bigger than the other two I've seen. It was like a big circle in a field, instead of a narrow, two lane track. Today, I was able to see it from HIS point of view, for some reason, and I realized that it IS fun. True, redneck fun!  He is GOOD at it. It is not just driving around, running into people. There is actually strategy to being the last car running in a heat. Here's what I figured out today:  you have to avoid the people you hope will win if you don't (i.e. your friends), you have to work with your friends to take out early the people you DON"T want to win at any cost, AND you have to get in your hits, as hard and as often as you can, while avoiding being hit from behind by someone you don't see coming. You also have to know a lot about cars, to know where a well-placed hit is going to take out something vital. He is clearly getting better. He won "Best of Show" in his heat, and it came down to him and one other person left, before something vital, I know not what!, went on his mini-van and left him vulnerable to the final hit.  He was also second, and almost won, in the "Best of Show" heat later on. It is pretty exciting to watch your kid excel at something he enjoys and is so good at. I think it makes me especially proud, because he is so different from the rest of us. His siblings, and parents, are all pretty "academic" and most definitely NOT hands-on kind of people. This boy, my third child, is a carbon copy of my brothers, not me, and definitely not his father, although he far exceeds even THEIR knowledge of cars and mechanics. 
     I watched a girl I work with run her "Spongebob" decorated car in the Powder Puff heat and decided that it actually might be something I would like to do, for fun, some day.  I think there is a little bit of danger in it, but not REAL danger. I wouldn't likely DIE running a car in a demolition derby, but the noise and the excitement and the little bit of danger seems like it could be kind of fun.  I am built that way - I enjoy living on the edge, just a little. I need, and crave, that little bit of danger that keeps life exciting, that little thrill that makes you feel alive and daring. I used to downhill ski, fast, on black diamond slopes eventually, til I tore my knees up and got too cold and too old!  I love snowmobiling, and motorcyle riding. Fast. I love dogsledding. I THINK I would like white water rafting, and parasailing, and a few other things like that. On the other hand, I also like flat water kayaking, reading a good book, and walking my dog, so life is a balance. I DO know when it gets OUT of balance, too much calm or too much excitement, I begin to crave the opposite.  (Does that make me a well-balanced person?)
     And, something else I realized today?  It's destiny.   For some reason, while I was standing there in the rain and cold, I suddenly had a flashback to 5th grade, and remembered that I had asked for, and received, for either Christmas or my birthday that year, a set of Smash Up Derby Cars. They were, literally, plastic demolition derby cars with zip strip runners in them that you pulled to make them go, put them on the floor, and hoped they would run into each other or a wall or some other immovable object. When they did, doors and trunks and hoods, tires, etc. fell off, and then you got to snap them back together. I"m not really sure what the allure was to me then, unless it was just simply a precursor of excitement to come 37 years later?  (I never was much of a girly girl, even then, so I guess it isn't TOO unusual that I had demo cars and chemistry kits rather than dolls and dress up clothes...but I also found the very clear flashback rather disconcerting. It's not my first demo, after all, so why then? Weird.)

     So, home, finally, and a fire in the fireplace - the first one of fall, tonight, to warm my frozen toes, and the perfect evening for my three- season- favorite-  bedtime- drink of elderberry syrup, a squeeze or two of lemon juice, and hot water.  It fights colds effectively, and tastes good (when it isn't 90 degrees out)  and makes me feel warm, cozy and glad to be home.  Which I am. What do you want to bet that Tuesday, when school rolls around again, it will be 85+ and my cold, frozen toes of today will be almost as distant a memory as my Smash Up Derby car set?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shortest List

1, Survive the week

(the heat, of course since we are back at school, is UNGODLY hot and muggy; I have 27 fifth graders in my room for two periods IN A ROW, immediately following gym, in the hottest room - no lie - in the building; our building has been under construction all summer, and..... it's NOT DONE.  OF COURSE starting school the week BEFORE Labor Day makes PERFECT sense to me now - yes, I see the reason why we needed to CLEARLY.  Especially when we are one of only THREE schools in the entire THREE COUNTY REGION who did so. GRRRRRRRRRRR.....)

As I said yesterday, after our faculty meeting, through gritted teeth (remember my positivity challenge for myself this year, and all my great and worthy goals of  being and remaining happy, despite ANYthing and EVERYthing)...."I'm just going to be a fricken ray of sunshine this year!"

I was told that seemed an oxymoron, but I don't care. If I survive this week, I will be happy, damnitall!