Friday, April 29, 2011

Oh! The Bounty! The Bounty!

I have written before of my vast garden that I have set up in my backyard.

Okay, perhaps "vast" is overstating the size of my garden since it consists of four pots of tomatoes, a washtub of strawberries, two squash plants, and a few onions. So it really it is sort of small but it keeps me busy with that career I have educating first graders.

But I digress.

So this afternoon I went out and perused my holdings. I got out my tractor and ran it out to the back forty. I guess what I found?  Well look.  Here comes the ole John Deere right now.


Why look in trailer!  It looks like a strawberry and a tomato. 

Well, what do you know? It is. 

Do you think I can make supper out of my harvest?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Mountains are Ablaze

Normally the Organ Mountains, that are an integral  part of our community, normally look like this.

But now these mountains are on fire.


When we returned home from our Easter trip to Dallas I did notice a helicopter flying overhead carrying what looked like bathtub in front of it.  Wrong.  It was part of the firefighters plan to dump water on the fire.
This is what happens when you mix drought conditions with high winds (gust last night up to 55 mph).  A brush fire that is hard to fight because of the difficult terrain. And covers 8,900 acres.

We can only hope that it is controlled before the winds kick in again.

UPDATE:  Just heard on the weather that we will have a wind advisory for tomorrow.  Gusts should be up to 45 mph. Note good news for the firefighters.

RETIREMENT COUNTDOWN: 37days

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Those Crazy Brits

I am really not much of a royal watcher.  However, I have not been living under a rock and do understand that a wedding is coming up soon.  I while I have about the same amount of interest in the royal wedding as I do in the Super Bowl, I do understand that there are people who have a deep and abiding interest in these events.

And that has led to this...
Just think, you can Will and Kate at your fingertips.


We also have this...

Kate and William teabags.  You, too, can Will and Kate sitting in your tea cup every morning.  They sort of look like they are sitting in a very fancy whirlpool.

But, perhaps, the most disturbing one is this...



That's right.  British plumber Barney Baz Franks spent 6 hours and about $1500 to have a dentist use ultra fine  brushes and stenchils to put what is called "gnasher tats" on his teeth. These should last about 3 months depending on on how much brushing is done.



Well, alrighty then.

RETIREMENT COUNTDOWN: 38 days

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fountain of Youth?

The one thing about taking a road trip to Dallas with your husband is that you have 12 hours in the car.  Alone.  With no one else.  Just the two of you.

Oj, the fun that can ensue.

We discussed everything under the sun and just when Danny thought his ears would start bleeding, I pulled out a winner of topic.  I told him that he looked just like I remember him from 40 years ago.  He begged to differ.  He believed he had changed.  A lot.

Now this has been a topic of conversation between Danny and I before.  All his pictures look the same.  The only difference is the color of his hair and he seems to have a different wife in each photo (that would be go through many hair and fashion moods.  I am the chameleon of photos.) 

This is a picture that I snapped of Danny on our honeymoon.
Nice little mustache.  Some sideburns. Hair curling up in the back.  He is focused on the road. He is the epitome of the 70"s but cute.
This is a picture that I snapped on Thursday as the west Texas landscape rolled by.  A little grayer. Sunglasses have been added. Hair is a little shorter.  Still focused on the road.  And still cute!

So, I ask all of you out there in the bloggysphere, doesn't he look like he did in 1975? 

RETIREMENT COUNTDOWN: 39 days

Monday, April 25, 2011

Of Guitars and Grandbabies

This was a road trip weekend starting Thursday afternoon.  Danny and I loaded up the family truckster and drove twelve hours to Dallas to watch the grandbabies participate in Leadership Training in Christ (LTC).  This included competitions in Bible Bowl, Song Leading, Drama, and Puppets.  There will be a long account of this weekend of fun, fellowship, and gold medals later, but right now I want to leave you with a precious, precious moment from the weekend.

 
This is Emily getting a guitar lesson from Pepaw in the hotel room.  


This is  Emily getting a lesson many years ago.  Time goes by too quickly.

RETIREMENT COUNTDOWN: 40 days

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pooka and Danny

I have always loved cats as pets.  What's not to like?  They're cute, soft, and they potty in a box.  Great!

So when we returned from our three years in Germany, Baby Susan and I decided that we needed to get a cat to complete our little family.  Being the political correct family unit we are, we decided to go the local pound to rescue an abandoned pet.  Baby Susan wanted a white snowball type of kitten. The pound didn't have one that was white but we found one that was little and cute and peach-colored and we loved him!

We took him home and named him Pooka.

Danny and Pooka did not like each other from the beginning.

Danny is not quite the cat lover that I am, so he did not take an immediate liking to Pooka.  And matters where not helped when, immediately after we brought him home, he lost all his hair except for a small strip down his head.  He looked sort of like he had a mohawk  haircut before mohawks were cool.  He also meow very loudly.
This is a dramatization.  This is not Pooka.


At this time Danny was traveling frequently so Pooka got use to sleeping beside me in our bed while Danny was gone.  When Danny returned home, Pooka did not want to give up his spot.  So he would worm his way between us and lay with his back against me and begin to push as hard as he could with his four legs to attempt to push Danny out of the bed.  Now, Pooka was never successful in this endeavor, but it would make for an uncomfortable night for Danny until he would reach his frustration point and kick Poola out of bed.

Perhaps what was most distressing for Danny was Pooka's unfortunate digestive issues.  Pooka threw up.  A lot.  At first we were concerned and to him to the vet who said there was nothing wrong with him.  In fact, his weight was a little on the heavy side so it was not a nutrition issue.  My theory was that he was abandoned as a kitten (we knew this from information given to us by the pound) and got very hungry and just ate too much and then threw up.  My second idea was that he had "kitty bulumia" but since we had no cat psychologists in our area that idea was never proved or disproved.

Whatever the reason, Pooka had a problem.  And both this issues, not sharing the bed with Danny and throwing up, came to form a perfect storm one night.  Danny came home from a trip and placed his new running shoes in the closet.  Danny has very special feet and cannot buy running shoes just anywhere.  At this time he would purchase his shoes when he was in Washington, D.C.  He could not find them anywhere else.  And this we pre-internet shopping days.  So this shoes were special and to be treated well.

So let's set the scene.  New, very prized, shoes in closet.  Cat with throw up problem who is upset with the owner of those shoes for kicking him out of bed.

That's right.  Pooka threw up in Danny's new running shoes.

Not long after that Pooka joined the circus.

Pooka.  Gone but not forgotten.

RETIREMENT COUNTDOWN: 44 days

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Warning: Serious Cute Alert

Several years ago, Danny, Baby Susan, and I had the chance to go Australia.

We had an rather uneventful trip over the ocean.  The only thing of note that happened was when we had a stop in New Zealand. Two airport employees came on the plane and sprayed everyone with some sort of aerosol spray.  Not sure if it was bugs or to freshen us up after our long flight before they would let us deplane in New Zealand.

But then off to Australia!

In Australia we had all kinds of fun.  Baby Susan had the out of body experience of seeing a young lady flirt with her dad. She still remembers it to this day.

We fed kangaroos.  We saw koalas.  But the highlight was the Fairy Penguins.

There is a spot on the southern coast Australia were, every sunset, Fairy Penguins migrate to return to the nests.  We sat on the beach and Fairy Penguins ran by us to their nesting places.  I could have reached out and touched them.  It was a magical experience, sitting on the beach at sunset with tiny little penguins running within inches of you.

So when I saw this video of a Fairy Penguin being tickled, I couldn't help but love it.

How cute is that!

RETIREMENT UPDATE: 45 days

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This One? This One? No That One.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a confirmed shopaholic and a bit of a clothes horse.  In other words, I love to shop and try on and sometimes purchase clothes.  Nothing I like more on a Saturday then to go through clothing stores looking at items, trying them on,  and maybe bringing some home.  AAHHH! That is heaven to me.

But boutique owners in Australia have put a new twist on shopping. Several of these clothing establishments have decided to charge for trying on clothes!  That's right, a dressing room fee!

Let's walk through a recent shopping expedition of mine.  I took 3 shirts and 2 bottoms into a dressing room.  Bought nothing.  Went to another shop.  Took a dress and a top in the dressing room.  Bought nothing.  According to the article, I would be out upwards to $100 in dressing room fees!  That seriously cuts into my shopping budget! While it is true that I would be reimbursed my fee if I bought an article at the store, I don't always purchase what I try on.  Hence why I try them on.  If they don't fit I won't buy them.

So what do you think?  Would you pay a fee to try on clothes or is this a development that the Aussies should keep to themselves?



RETIREMENT COUNTDOWN:  45 days

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fashion Fail (at least for me)

It's been a long, long time since I had the shape to wear a bikini.  Natural consequences of aging have taken their toll on my ole' body.

So I don't think I shall try to attempt this new fashion statement.  Bikini pants!
Yes, folks, that's a bikini bathing suit bottom with some low-rider jeans under them.  I really can't see the point.  If I would and could still wear a bikini, I really don't see the point in sticking a pair of really low rider jeans under it.
I guess if you are at the beach and had to run into a store for, say, some sunscreen.  You could slip on your pants and run in for your purchase.  Although, I always thought that was why we had beach cover-ups.  Silly me!
And the kicker?  The cost over $400!


Retirement Countdown:  46 days.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Got Nothing

I sat down to write this and thought I've got nothing.  Nothing.  So I thought I would write using a list mainly because I don't have enough to say about any one thing to make a post.  That might hide the nothingness, sort of like a black, baggy dress is supposed to hide weight gain.  So here goes.  My metaphoric  black, baggy dress of a post.

1.  Tonight, I decided to make a baked potato for supper.  Actually it wasn't a baked potato since I planned to cook it in the microwave so I guess it was a microwave potato.  But I digress.

  While preparing it for the microwave, I was poking vent holes in it with a fork.  Bang!  Bang!  Bang! OWWW! Not only had I vented the potato, I had vented my finger.  Danny found my clumsiness humorous. Or my pain.
Just put my finger in place of the potato.  



2.  As you all now this is the season of testing in the public schools.  And not even my first graders are not exempt from testing.  The other day I was giving them a developmental spelling test which is a lot like the spelling tests you all remember except these are given once ever nine weeks.  The include words they should know and some that go up to second grade.  My students were going along, doing rather well until I got to the second grade words.  I called out the word "chewing".  One little boy looked up at me and said, "Mrs. Champion, how do you spell that?"

All righty now.  I don't think he quite had the concept of what a test is.
3.   This photo of a jelly bean has been making the circuit on the internet.
Supposedly if you look carefully, you can see Kate's face in this mango flavored jelly bean.  You know,  I have eaten many, many jelly beans in my life and have never stopped long enough to look carefully to see if  the the swirly colors on the sweet goodness could be construed to be any famous person.  What if, in their careful scrutiny of their jellybean the owner had TURNED IT UPSIDE DOWN?  They would not have seen Kate peering out of red and yellow sugar at them. 

It is expected to bring about $1000 on Ebay.

Personally, I think it is photoshopped.
 
Well, there it is.  My black, baggy dress of a post.   So now I'm off to stuff my self with jelly beans.  And look for famous people.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And Now For a Political Message

I really don't dabble much in national politics.  I do vote for president and my representatives.  I keep sort of a unfocused eye on what that guys in DC are doing but usually only as far as it impacts me or mine personally. But in my casual internet browsing,  I came across something that gives me great pause.

In the recently agreed upon budget, there were many cuts.  And I am totally in favor of cuts.  Danny and I can only spend as much as we make and the government has the same responsibility.  However, in this time of fiscal accountability we cannot sacrifice the defenseless for tax cuts for those with more resources.

I am talking about the proposed cut of $504 million to WIC (Women, Infants, and Children).

For those of you who don't know what WIC does, it provides free, healthy food for pregnant women and children under the age of five.  The checks provided cannot be used for junk food.  The approved list includes such things wheat bread, brown rice, juice, peanut butter, eggs, and milk.  The closest thing I could find to a junk food was Kix cereal.

So we are going to cut a program that works.  A program that provides food for the weakest and most defenseless members of our society, pregnant women and small children, while continuing to allow tax cuts for others.

It makes me hang my head in shame.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Ears Have It

Several years ago, I was very excited to see the movie Lord of the Rings.  I immediately fell in love with elves in the movie...

I loved the attitude and look of the elves.  I thought they were they coolest things I had ever seen.  However, I never took my adulation to this stage.
 
  Now isn't that attractive?


Just look at the transformation.

These are people that have their ears surgically altered to look like elves!

Now, I have done done some rather strange things for fashion.  I have worn blue mascara with white lipstick.  I have covered my legs in fishnet stockings.  I have pants with bell bottoms so big I could barely walk.  I have hobbled along in platform shoes that made a crippling fall a distinct possibility

But I have never done anything that permanently altered my body.  Not even a tattoo.

Even when I was so enamored with the elves in Lord of the Rings would I have my ears surgically altered to look like them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

and Life Goes On

So I returned to work on today after a week long medical leave.

Oh my good Lord mercy.

Those little ones have a lot of energy.

For those of you who don't know, I teach first grade.  Six and seven year olds.  Eighteen of them.  In one room.  All talking at once. Loudly. Without taking a breath.

My ears are still ringing.
This is not my actually class...only a reproduction.


But  now I'm home. I'll go out back and check my tomatoes and strawberries.  And start to power down.

...until tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Blanket in Time

A couple of months ago, I visited the local chapter of Project Linus on Make a Blanket day.  Project Linus, for those of you who don't know, has as its mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer "blanketeers."

I was fascinated.

I had taught myself to crochet when I was pregnant with Baby Susan.  I felt every baby needed something handmade from their mother.  Baby Susan's little crocheted baby wrap was made with love, if not with a lot skill.

But that was years ago and I had made some afghans that were not too shabby, so I thought I can do this.  I can make some baby afghans to donate.

And here are my first donations to Project Linus.
Maybe these will help some baby and its parents feel better in the hospital.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Washington, DC...GROW UP ALREADY

 So as you know, since I wrote this an agreement was made and a budget prepared.  I'm not sure my opinions have changed however.

If something doesn't happen by midnight Friday, my husband who has been employed by the federal government for 36 years, will be unemployed.

That's right, a man who served in the Army for 3 years and civil service for 33 years will be sitting at home on Monday because the government is shut down. And will not be receiving a paycheck. At the present time, there is no provision for back pay.

And while our situation is not good,  it pales comparison to what is going to happen to the military.

Military personnel, while still having to report to duty, will not be receiving pay starting Monday.

Let's listen to the words of Emily O'Donnell as reported by CNN.
 
"Military mom Emily O'Donnell has a solution for the government to avoid a shutdown: "Go to your room and do not come out until your job is done."


The 27-year-old mother of four is "furious" that parts of the federal government could shut down tomorrow if Congress cannot agree on a budget. If that happens, paychecks for military workers could be delayed indefinitely. Troops are guaranteed back-pay, but not knowing when they'll receive a check could put some military families in financial crisis.


"If a 27-year-old can make a budget for her family on one income, there's no reason that (the government) can't," said O'Donnell, who says she'll have money for food but little else if her husband doesn't get paid. He's stationed in Italy and is due to go to Afghanistan. "I would love to see some common sense, and some acknowledgment that they're ruining lives."


The O'Donnells just bought a house in LeRoy, New York, and Emily fears she won't be able to pay the mortgage if there's a shutdown. She won't be able to afford medication or specialists for her daughter, who has chronic ear infections. And if she uses up the $1,000 in her bank account, "my plan is a food kitchen."


"I really don't think they understand the scope," she said."

A military family with a soldier due to go Afghanistan is worried about getting medication for her child, mortgage payments, and food for her family. How does a soldier focus on his or her mission when worried about the financial welfare of their family. And the games in Washington continue.

While our representatives play their political games and try to one up each other, they are people losing money that most can ill afford to lose.  Do I care who wins? Does that Private First Class in the Army with two kids care? Does that soldier in Afghanistan care? Does that civil servant single mother secretary care?

And the sticking point?  Funding for Planned Parenthood. Are these ideological issues important.  Yes they are.  Very important.  But discuss them on your own time.  Do not hold a country hostage will you sort out your differences.

When I taught kindergarten and my students acted like the Republicans, Democrats, and Tea Party are right now I kept them in from recess and made them all apologize. Perhaps the politicians in Washington DC should stay in and apologize to the American people for this mess.

And by the way, the guys in Washington DC...they are still getting paid.

Compromise already, guys!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'M BBAAAACCKK!

So, I took a little involuntary bloggy break.  Why, you ask.  Let's just say it involved an Emergency Room, hospital stay, and tons of needles. But I am now fine and ready to continue.

Regarding my short hospital stay...I had a couple or three strange occurrences that can only happen if you have taught in the same valley for nineteen years.  In the ER, my IV was started by a student nurse who had been a student at my school.  In the actual hospital the my nurse one day was the parent of a former student.  The day I was discharged, the student nurse with my RN was also a parent of a former student.  It was sort of like old home week in the hospital.

Now that I am home but not yet allowed to go back to work, I am becoming quite the expert on daytime television.  Let's just say it might be enough to make me rethink my upcoming retirement.  

On a totally different note, as the spouse of a federal employee I truly hope Washington gets it's act together real soon.  When your paycheck is contingent on the political maneuverings of folks who are more concerned about many sound bites they get on the nightly news than how you are going to make your mortgage payment if the shutdown proceeds it gets scary.  Compromise already guys!