Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Horticulturist, I'm not

Remember when I said this:

It will bring joy to the recipient for a long time. January and February will be delightful as the bulb grows taller and taller. Late February and March will be amazing as the flower pod begins to form and open, and by the beginning of Spring your gift will be in full bloom.

What did I know? I'm a horticulture idiot. This bulb grew its little Amaryllis pants off and was in full bloom in only 22 days. Each day there was noticeable growth and now we're enjoying the beautiful red flowers. I think I did do something wrong however, because there are still some little parts that didn't grow at all. I think I stunted it when I moved it around for the picture. Oh well, it was fun.

To make up for my horticulture error, I'm announcing my first contest/giveaway. It will start tomorrow and the recipient (winner) will be announced Sunday. I want to give all my seven readers a change to participate. :)

Check back tomorrow afternoon for my first exciting giveaway. Here's a hint: It's something I've talked about on this blog, and it's NOT an Amaryllis bulb.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Penultimate Gift Idea - #4

This may come as a surprise to some because I'm sure nobody else does this, but I think about my weight a lot. Over the years I've gained and lost weight many many times. Like Oprah. I'll lose a boat load of weight then become the spokesperson (to my friends) for whatever program worked at the time. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, Cambridge, Slimfast, Bariatric, you name it, I've done it and usually quite successfully. However, I have about two million less friends and about fifty million less dollars than Oprah. :) I would have done a commercial if anyone had asked. (I think about my fifteen minutes of fame a lot too.)

Lately I'm thinking about overall good health and weight loss. Yes, I know...but better late than never. Exercise is an important part of overall good health but ... you know ... it's ... h.a.r.d. I've done all the classes: Aerobics, Jazzercise, Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, and my personal favorite Sit and Be Fit. They all work as long as you go to class.

Now I think I'm on to something. This isn't new and I'm certainly not the first person to ever do this, but I've found that wearing a pedometer makes me MOVE! And moving is a key component to burning calories and keeping your heart healthy. Who knew?

So, I put this little gizmo on my pocket or belt loop everyday and watch my steps go up and up and up. Before I know it I'm at 8500 steps and it's only 2 PM. Before the pedometer and I became friends, I'd get home from teaching high school and zone out on the sofa for a few hours. Now, I look at my little gizmo and think, I'll go up and down the steps a few times or walk to the mail box a few times and viola! I'll have my 10,000+ steps in no time. I'm aiming for 20,000 a day in the new year.

It's a personal challenge to get the steps. It's me against me. No twenty-something spandexed blond Zumba-ing beside me, or smarty pants kid stretching her legs over her head and touching her toes to the floor ... of the next room. Nope, it's just me pushing for the 10,000th step. It's fun. I don't count calories, I'm too busy moving. I don't snack as much, I'm moving. Really! I know it sounds too easy and believe me I'm all about the easy. But it is....it's easy.

I bought a good pedometer, but there are hundreds of different kinds out there. One of them even talks to you. That's a bit much for me, but anything you like will do. They cost anywhere from $5 to $75 (that's the talking one.)

So here's my next to last gift idea for a friend, preferably your best friend. The person you've had countless conversations with about losing weight and exercising. The one who would really appreciate this little gift. The one who will move with you if you ask. A pedometer!!

Get moving! Get walking! Get healthy! And who knows maybe someone will call (me) and ask you (me) to do a commercial.

For the close readers and purists: The picture was taken on a Saturday and I didn't put the pedometer on until around noon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Amaryllis Update

Just in case you were wondering, here's how the Amaryllis bulb is doing.

December 8, 2008

December 14, 2008

If You Fill It, They Will Come - Gift idea #3

Bird seed and bird feeders are fun to assemble and fun to watch. Kids just love to see the variety of birds that begin to flutter around the seed, and older adults who can't get out as often as they would like find joy in watching the birds feed.

Our feeders had been empty for about a year. I have a short attention span and as soon as a new project is working, I'm bored with it and have to move on. Then a while later I become interested again and a crazy cycle begins. I do that with a lot of things.

Anyway :), I bought a new feeder for the picture, and filled one with expensive seed, on the left and filled the other with the inexpensive seed, on the right.

I hung them Saturday afternoon and by Sunday morning the birds had returned to our feeders. No hard feelings, I suspect.

I thought I'd do a little experiment to see if I had discerning birds. Would the expensive seed attract the more elite birds, the cardinals, blue jays, red-headed wood peckers, or the yellow finch-like birds? Would the cheap seed be enough to satisfy the ordinary less colorful birds? The finches and those other little brown non-descript ones? As you can see I'm not a real bird watcher. I don't know their names I just like to watch them eat. I should get a book.

So did they flutter around one feeder more than another? You decide.

Here's the expensive, "Ruth's Chris Steak House" birdseed feeder.

And here's the "McDonald's" birdseed feeder.

I kid. :) The birds fluttered around both the same. The cheap seed cost $5.99 and the feeder for elite seed cost about $15.99. You can find lots of bird feeders and accessories all over the Internet and much better pictures of birds at those feeders than I have here. But you get the idea. And that's what this is all about, gift ideas, not award winning photos, yet.

Gift idea #3 ... done!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Amaryllis Starter Kit - Gift idea #2

This little gift serves a number of purposes. Most of my friends are ready to purge things from their house and downsize to a more manageable environment. Nobody wants another glass bowl, or picture frame, or gloves, scarfs or hats. We have dozens of these items in our basement already. Consumables are the best bet for Christmas for us.

But, you can get rid of some of the items that are cluttering your basement or garage with this little idea. You'll want to give this to someone younger than me who still finds joy in the knick-knack it will come in.

First, go to your basement or garage and find a container, crock pot, vase, or bowl that you've stored because you can't part with it yet. Bring those to your work area where you've place an Amaryllis bulb you purchased at the Garden Store for $9.99. You can use Paper Whites, Daffodils or Tulip bulbs if you want. I like the Amaryllis for the single stem and two or three flowers look.

Next go out to your driveway and gather a few rocks, or buy some river rocks at the Garden Store for about $5.00

The next and last part is easy. Fill the container of your choice with a few rocks, put the Amaryllis bulb on the rocks, the add a few more rocks to secure the bulb. Put water in the container just to cover the roots and in no time at all you'll see the start of a plant.

It will bring joy to the recipient for a long time. January and February will be delightful as the bulb grows taller and taller. Late February and March will be amazing as the flower pod begins to form and open, and by the beginning of Spring your gift will be in full bloom.

Gift Idea #2.....done!

And sure there are plenty of sites online that you can order the same exact thing, but what fun would that be, and how will you get rid of your junk? :)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Republic of Tea - Gift idea #1

It's December and the media is reminding us of the number of shopping days left until Christmas. "Shopping days...." ugh. Considering the economy this year what we should be saying is there are 18 days left to select, or create a thoughtful, moderately priced treasure for the people we care about.
So, I'm on a mission to post a little gift idea each day or so that's around $20. I'm thinking about items I've gotten and loved, or given with great success, or I'm using now and know that someone would love it too.
Here is my the first gift idea. A few months ago I decided to reduce my caffeine consumption. No specific reason really, I thought it would be a healthy choice since I began noticing I couldn't function without a least 3 big cups of coffee; one had to be Starbucks venti, quad, white chocolate mocha, skim with whip. It was becoming expensive, not to mention, fattening.
So, at the suggestion of a sales person in a gourmet food shop, The Fig Tree, who said this was the "Cadillac of Tea", I bought my first Republic of Tea tea bag. (You had to buy it by the bag in this shop.) It was very good.
I went to the Republic of Tea website and discovered they had quite a selection of tea and gift ideas. I bought four cans of 50 bags each. Each can was $10 and each was a different flavor. I bought green tea, orange-cranberry tea, mango tea and passion fruit tea. I like them all. The gift ideas on the site are reasonably priced and most important, the tea is delicious. The Cadillac of Tea indeed!
I plan to order more and give these attractive cans of delicious tea to a few of my co-workers along with a mug I'll buy at Target later this week.
Gift idea #1 ... done!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Brady and Lilly - A Labrador Retriever tale

These are my sister's dogs. I've chosen not to show you their faces, this being a public blog and all. :)

In an earlier post I said she talks to her dogs as if they were human. Well, she does and it works.

Case in point: Last summer she was having her house painted. The painter squatted by his tools to put something back and the chocolate lab, the younger more energetic, the "I never stop moving from one thing to another all day long, nope, nope, nope never stop moving" chocolate lab, came rushing up behind him, grabbed the red bandanna handkerchief from his back pocket and in a flash took off up the hill and into the woods.
My sister screamed, "Lilly, bring that back!" Nothing. She yelled again, "Lilly bring that back!" Nothing. The painter continued painting and about fifteen minutes later Brady, the older, wiser, "I wish that kid would leave things alone and why do I always have to pick up after her" yellow lab, came sauntering down the hill with the red bandanna in his mouth and dropped it at the painter's feet.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nie Recovery - Mr. Nielson

A lovely young couple with four children were in a serious private plane accident in Arizona. The pilot, Doug Kinneard did not survive the accident. The children of the couple were not with them. This couple's recovery will be long, painful and expensive, and their family has set up numerous ways wonderful friends in the blogging community can help...prayers being the number one request.

If you've been following the NieRecovery saga like I have, (on the young wife's sister's blog) and thousands of bloggers around the world have, you will be heartened to hear and see this.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rosie O'Donnell

Rosie O'Donnell was once called the Queen of Nice. She had a daytime talk show and everyone loved her. She went on to do The View and suddenly everyone didn't love her.

The public rarely knows anything about celebrities except what they read in the tabloids, and it's rare that the public sees the human being behind the makeup.

Take a look at this film clip. Watch the whole thing. This is the Rosie we rarely see. This is what she's about. I'm a huge fan. Can you tell? :)

And after you watch the clip, consider donating a few $$ to Rosie's Broadway Kids, or the Maravel Arts Center. It's for kids, and it's all good. :)

Here's how you can donate:
Go to Rosie's Broadway Kids and first watch some of the performance posted there. Then find your options for donating and decide which one is best for you.

Even if you don't want to donate anything I guarantee you'll be entertained for a few minutes.
Remember, it's all about the kids.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Good Cup of Coffee

Some days nothing else will do!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

John Williams is the Man


I love this!! I know it's not really the kid singing. The a capella group is called Moosebutter and they gave this kid their blessing when he pitched his idea to them. But still, I love it. Four part harmony, humor, Star Wars and John Williams....just the best. :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Underbelly of Activism

I am not an activist, yet I am passionate and loyal to my cause. I'm a lioness, a wolf, a swan...dedicated to the deep connection and unconditional love of family. My family. Yours. The woman who migrates each night from bus stop to bus stop wrapped head to toe in her white blanket. I long to be loved by my own mother still.

And that is why I am so taken by this side of the election. It is, to me, the heart of what is to come. As joyful as parenting is, the ultimate intention, so too is it the most humbling of experiences. And that is what we need at the core of the president of our country.

" Malia Obama probably wasn’t sure if her Dad would make it home from work to watch her soccer game this past Friday night. He’s been pretty busy lately. But her Mom and her little sister would be there. The flow of the kids moving the ball down the field, under the lights of a chilly night in October. The families chatting on the sidelines. The starlight glow of downtown Chicago rising up from the north.

Malia Obama at mid field shouts “Mom!” And the smile, grace, and presence of the woman whose eyes never once leave her daughter---no matter who else she speaks to, waves back and sends a radiant smile. In that one wave and smile, you see hope come alive before your very eyes.

Then just a few minutes after eight; something like a shift in earth’s gravity occurs. To the casual observer, nothing in this scene has changed. That pull of the earth’s power must have been imagined. The true city dweller will feel it first, before they even see it. Blink your eyes and they appear. Ringing the shadows of this soccer field are people with guns. Serious people with guns. Like oak trees that move. The phrase, “Not on my watch” flashes through your head. You have to look hard to make sure they are even there. You never really see a gun. You’re not even sure they are moving. But when you blink your eyes, somehow their positions have changed. Something about the way they just appear calms your breathing. Instinctively you know. These are the good guys.

With that feeling of true safety pressed firmly in your very soul; you can remember the real secret at the heart of the city: we of the city are just a million small town kid's soccer game scenes all strung together. So the kids laugh and kick the soccer ball. Then some guy in a blue cap walks out of the gym next door. Hands in his pocket, face down, by himself. He walks over to Malia’s Mom, who has 3 conversations going on simultaneously with folks on the sidelines. The quiet guy in the blue cap puts his arm around Malia’s Mom. Shakes hands with a couple of the people. Talks with Malia’s Mom for a minute or two.

Just then a small miracle occurs. The quiet guy in the blue cap who nobody in the crowd of really paid all that much attention to; scrunches down so he is face to face with Malia’s little sister Sasha. He lifts up the brim on the cap. And then, standing 15 feet behind Sasha you see what she’s seeing up close. You see that smile. That smile that resounds with the very power and the glory of the city lights behind it. That smile now almost ready to take it's place in American history. You can’t hear, and are happy not to hear, what he’s saying to his youngest daughter. But you do hear her giggle. Then the father takes the daughter’s hand. The younger daughter. The one who is not in the game. The one who by all rights and purposes and measures any of us know at this time in our history---was destined not to get a lot of attention tonight. They move back in the shadows, behind the sideline crowd. Seen only by that quiet show of force here to keep them absolutely safe. Then the miracle: they have a foot race. While the soccer game is still going on. Just the two of them. Sasha and her Dad take off together, both running at full speed, as fast and then faster than either of them could ever imagine. Sasha laughing, and laughing at the finish line. Her Dad swoops down and picks her up. Then that smile. This time only for his daughter. No one else was looking. It was just for her. His youngest daughter’s giggle. It’s the music of his promise to make sure that everyone’s included.

And this past Friday night in Chicago: Malia Obama’s team won the game."

This is not mine. I copied and pasted it here from Busha Full of Grace and she copied and pasted it from Misplaced Mama.
She encouraged readers to copy this to their blogs.
It moved me. It spoke to me. The election is over. We have a new president. A man, a husband, and a father who sees the value of family more clearly than we've seen for a long time. Let's embrace this and see what happens.


The last three Chevy Blazers we've had have been equipped with OnStar. I love having OnStar in my car. It makes me feel safe and more connected with services I might need in case of emergency. When we travel I can easily find things like hotels, restaurants, points of interest, less congested routes, and local radio stations. In addition, I can talk on the phone hands-free to whomever I want. It's comforting.

I like it so much that in my fantasy camp mind, I've imagined myself in one of their radio commercials. You've heard them, actual taped conversations with an OnStar operator talking with victims of an accident. The commercial ends with the OnStar client thanking OnStar and wondering what they ever did without it.

I thought my 15 minutes of fame had come one summer when I needed OnStar for the first time. I was working on a Mission Project with my church. Families from our church were building a home for a family who lived in the heavily wooded mountains of Pa.

Our group traveled to the area and set up camp for a week. Everyone, no matter how young or old, had a job. Kids and adults hammered nails into the studs, guided the roof frame into place, drilled holes for the wiring, rolled on and attached the insulation, hung the dry wall, shingled the roof, installed the windows, laid tile on the kitchen floor, installed appliances, carried the supplies, etc, etc. You get the picture. Many hands doing many jobs.

So, what was my job? Feeding all those many hands three meals and snacks daily. And I was happy to do that. I can't hammer in a nail straight and I end up wearing more Spackle than I put on the walls. People laugh at me when I try any of the jobs...with a smile on their face and love in their heart, I'm sure.

Anyway, on this particular day, our first full day at camp, my friend and I were up at the crack of dawn preparing breakfast in the kitchen of a youth camp nearby. When everyone had eaten we cleaned up and began preparing sandwiches, drinks and snacks for lunch, all the while driving coolers of water, lemonade, and ice tea back and forth to the workers. Around noon, with lunch for 125 hungry workers securely packed in the back of the Blazer we headed to the work site to feed the masses.

We arrived on the single lane mountain road in front of the work site. Our plan was to stop there, unload the food and then park the Blazer out of the way so we could set up lunch. We jumped out of the Blazer and slammed the doors, quickly going around to open the hatch and get the lunches out of the back. When I slammed my door, I heard a very quiet almost inaudible, click and I knew immediately that all the doors had locked automatically. The keys were in the ignition, my bag was on the front seat and lunches for 125 hungry men, women and children were locked in the back as the temperature inside the Blazer on that hot summer day began to climb.

Lots of bad words were flying through my head, but since this was a church trip that's where they stayed, unlike the Mouse in the House incident of a few years back.

So instead, I remembered I had OnStar! Great! But, the number and my OnStar card were in the locked car. Luckily my friend had OnStar on her car and she did have the brains to take her bag with her when she hopped out of the passenger side. She had her cell phone and the OnStar number with her.

The conversation between OnStar and me went something like this:

OS: "Hello, this is Kelly from OnStar how can I assist you?"
Me: "Hi Kelly, this is LJ and I've locked the keys in my Blazer"
OS: "Okay, you've locked your keys in the Blazer and you want us to unlock it for you?"
Me: "Yes"
OS: "No problem, LJ, we do this all the time."
(Whew, I thought, I'm not the only idiot and they can fix this and I can do their next commercial. That fantasy camp mind of mine works 24/7.)
I gave Kelly all the information she needed to unlock my Blazer.

OS: "LJ? Just step away from the car leaving about four feet between you and the car and in about five minutes we'll have the car doors unlocked." And thank you for using OnStar. If we can be of assistance in the future please don't hesitate to call. Have a nice day! Goodbye."

About now the kids began to realize their lunch had arrived but there was a problem. Nothing makes kids hungrier than knowing the food is near but they can't have it. Suddenly about 50 starving kids began circling the Blazer like hungry tigers circling wounded prey, peering in the windows to see what they couldn't have.

My friend announced in a big, booming voice, "Step away from the Blazer boys and girls, so the OnStar satellite can unlock the doors."
The kids were intrigued and immediately became quiet as they backed away from the car. I could see in their eyes they were thinking a beam from the Mother Ship was about to descend on the Blazer, light it up and unlock the doors.

So we waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing. No Mother Ship. No beam. No magical door opening.

We called OnStar again and the kids began to move towards the Blazer.

OS: "Hello this is Donald from OnStar how can I help you?"
Me: "Hello Donald, this is LJ. I just called a few minutes ago about having locked the keys in my car. Do you have my information in front of you."
OS: "Let me look and see what I can find. Please hold.
Oh great, I'm on hold, the ice is melting, the lunch is getting warm and Elvis's "All Shook Up" is playing in my ear. How appropriate.
OS: Thank you for holding LJ. I see you've locked your keys in the car, is that correct?"
Me: "Yes, keys are locked in the Chevy Blazer. All doors are locked. Yes, everyone is standing four feet away from the Blazer. We're still waiting for you to unlock the doors."
OS: "Okay, Please hold."
(In my head I'm practicing my lines for the commercial while I'm on hold with Donald. Kids are inching closer to the Blazer.)
OS: "LJ may I ask, where exactly are you?"
Me: (Giving detailed information about our location.) ..."and we are on a small single lane road surrounded by the tallest most beautiful trees in the state of Pa. It's pristine and beautiful. (You can hear a script forming here for the OnStar commercial, can't you?)
OS: So, you are in the woods, surrounded by tall trees?
Me: "Yes!" "Yes we are, we're building a house for... (This was going to be in my commercial script too. A mention of our church and all the good things we do.)
OS: Interrupting..."LJ, The OnStar satellite can't find you if you are in the woods. We're sorry. Thank you for using OnStar. If we can be of assistance in the future please don't hesitate to call. Have a nice day! Goodbye."

And goodbye to the commercial in my fantasy camp mind as it disappeared with the click of the OnStar person hanging up."

There was only one thing left to do and why didn't I do this first?

Me: "Okay," I shouted, "You two older boys over there, get a crow bar out of the tool truck, plus a few shims. Does anybody have a coat hanger? Let's get these doors open the old-fashioned way so everybody can have lunch."
Big cheer from the starving masses and in five minutes everybody was eating.

Do I hear Hallelujah, Amen?!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Skeletons in the Closet

Note: This was my very first post on my blog four years ago when Bush was running for his second term against Senator John Kerry. It's worth repeating because the same thing is happening now. This time it's not so much about a military record, but rather actions in the distant past that candidates are using against one another. I want to say, "Please, stop it already. Each of you just tell me how you'd run the country differently than it's being run now to make things better.

I was a teenager and college student during the late 60s and early 70s. Most of the presidential candidates during the last 10 years have been my age or a bit older. So often these candidates are judged on what choices they made during the 60s and 70s when they were impressionable young adults, who really had no idea what they wanted to do or where they would be when they were 50-60 years old. They were active participants in their decade and culture as we all were and they did things that kids did at that age. Of course now a student at Harvard (or Hawaii Pacific University or North Idaho College or University of Idaho or Matanuska-Susitna College) who has aspirations to be president or the very least a public servant may think twice about being offered a joint at a party on a Friday night after a long week of classes, tests, papers and labs, but in the 60’s this kind of behavior had yet to be used against anyone.

On December 1, 1969, the United States began a new method* of drafting young men to fight the war in Vietnam: It held a lottery. It worked like this: Each day of the year was printed on a piece of paper. These pieces of paper, representing each potential draftee's birthday, were placed in blue plastic capsules. Then all 366 capsules (one for each day of the year, including leap years) were placed in a large glass jar. As millions watched on TV or listened on radio, the capsules were drawn from the jar, one by one. The first date drawn was assigned a draft number of "one"; the next date drawn received draft number "two"; and so on, until each day of the year -- each potential birthday -- had been drawn from the jar and assigned a draft number. After the lottery, draftees were called for duty in order of their draft number, beginning with number "one," proceeding to number "two," and so on, until the military's manpower needs were met. So if you drew a low number in the lottery, you were likely to be drafted; if you drew a high number, you probably wouldn't be. In this particular draft**, anyone who received a number lower than 196 was eventually called to report; anyone who received 196 or higher was not. (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/13/the.draft/)

On that night I was watching the lottery with my boyfriend and his fraternity brothers and their girls friends. You have to know....and I do, since I was there...that almost all of them were hoping for a high number. Meaning if their birthday was May 1, they prayed that the May 1 ball was 366th ball drawn. There were tears and cheers that night and the conversation groups that formed, (high number groups and low numbers groups) had topics ranging from enlistment, to staying in college for as long as possible, to moving to Canada, to having a friend of someone's Dad make a call, or having Dad make a call to see if there was a way to avoid the draft. That night the feeling was that nobody thought any less of anyone in any group. If you were lucky enough to have the grades and the dollars to stay in college that was great. If you could move to Canada that was okay, too. If your Dad was a retired General and could get you in the reserves that was okay...or if you had to go and you figured out a way to get sent home by being wounded enough times without getting killed, then that was okay and if you wanted to enlist the next day that was just fine, too. My point is...it didn't make a difference what your choice was, because it was your choice. Nobody thought any less of these articulate, intelligent young men. We just didn't want them killed in a seemingly senseless war. Sound familiar?

So why do we chastise candidates for their actions of some 30 years ago? I think we should just look at their political record from the recent past. Look at things they've done in their job working for a better America and make decisions based on that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy, Happy Birthday!

This beautiful woman will be celebrating her birthday tomorrow.

When she was a little girl she never ventured far from home. While her older brother was enjoying the outdoor life at camps and retreats, she could be found performing to an audience of forest animals from the driveway of our house. Or, sitting in the comfy chair reading a book, or changing the outfits on her Barbie dolls. Sleepovers weren't her thing and after two attempts at summer camp, they became out of the question, too.

To Everything
There is a season
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

She lives in New York City now. Her job in the Arts fits her to a T, and she's talented, funny, smart, sweet, sensitive, conscientious, and caring.

This picture? was taken in Prague, Czech Republic last month when she had 4 sleepovers there. :)

Happy Birthday, sweetieface!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Blog Book

Check out this link to a Blog Book being developed to help raise money for the NieNie Recovery Fund. You could be a published blogger and make the world a better place.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Let's re-think this favorite movie line thing, shall we? A frivolous hobby? A party pleasing parlor game? A clever pick up line at a bar? Or, a life saving mantra between a father and his autistic son as they drift perilously close to a certain death in the ocean. You decide. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Movie Talk

Ask any adult if they have a favorite line from a movie and most will say they do.

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

"Go ahead, make my day."

"I'll be back."

"Play it again, Sam."

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

"I'm gonna' make him an offer he can't refuse."

"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

"You'll shoot your eye out."

"I'll have what she's having."

"There's no crying! There's no crying in baseball!"

"Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal."

"Nobody puts baby in a corner. "

...or the less popular quote from the same move,
"I carried the watermelon."

I'll bet anyone over the age of 20 who is reading this (both of you) can name the movie the above quotes are from.

But, can you name the movie these quotes came from?

"To infinity, and beyond!"

"When life gets you down do you wanna' know what you've gotta' do? Keep swimming. Just keep swimming."

"This isn't flying. This is falling, with style!"

"I create feelings in others that they themselves don't understand."

"I'm H2O intolerant."

"Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave."

"Okay, he either said, "move to the back of the throat," or he "wants a root beer float.""

"I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food."

"You've got to move it, move it, move it."

Did you get them all right? If you need help with any of these just ask a five-year old or a seven-year old. My adorable niece and nephew and my daughter and I sat around the pool one day this summer and talked. Yes, talked. For once it wasn't, Aunt L. watch me! Or, Aunt L. look over here at me, I can swim on my back. Or, look Aunt L. I can do a flip now.

This time we sat in a circle and shared lines from our favorite movies. These two little geniuses could match us one for one with lines from their favorite movies. Turns out we've seen some of the same movies. Pixar, Disney and Sesame Street got it right when they made movies adults and kids could watch together.

My niece and nephew don't watch much TV, but when they do, they remember! Those little minds are blank hard drives waiting to be filled with sights, sounds and dialog. My nephew will run through the house chattering away with the Buzz Lightyear action figure in his hand. Sometimes he's making up his own story, but sometimes he's quoting the movie almost word for word.

My niece will dress in her princess gowns, complete with high heels. She'll grab the microphone from the Karaoke and sing her little heart out to the tunes from Beauty and the Beast or Lion King. She even knows the words to most Hannah Montana songs.

Of course their lives are filled with other activities too, like gymnastics, soccer, karate, swimming, all the things kindergarten and elementary school kids are into these days. But my tumbling days are long gone, so I'm loving the fact that there's still at least one way we can have fun together.

So how about you? What's your favorite line from a movie?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Nie Recovery

You'll notice I have a new box on the side of my blog called, Nie Recovery.

Two weeks ago I learned through reading someone else's blog, that a lovely young couple with four children were in a serious private plane accident in Arizona. The pilot, Doug Kinneard did not survive the accident. The children of the couple were not with them. This couple's recovery will be long, painful and expensive, and their family has set up numerous ways wonderful friends in the blogging community can help...prayers being the number one request.

I haven't any idea why I feel compelled to do something, but I do. Go to her sister's website and read their story. Or, go to this New York Times article and read it.

If it touches you like it touched me, you can do something too, by clicking on the Donate to NieNie box on my blog.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back To School

"Don't you love New York in the
fall? It makes me want to buy school
supplies. I would send you a bouquet of
newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your
name and address."
You've Got Mail.

I love You've Got Mail and this quote from the movie was one of my favorites.

It's back to school time around these parts and for me it's the best time of year. Of course, I don't like seeing the end of my summer, but September, I love September.

Here, let me count the ways:

1. High School Football! Pom-Poms, majorettes, confetti, Friday nights, hot dogs, cokes, marching bands, dance teams, cheerleaders. The enthusiasm is contagious and even though I'm well, well, well, (okay enough!!) past those years, I still get emotional with the first drum cadence of the season.
One time we had a Superintendent who said, a winning football team can carry you all the way through the first semester. Clearly this guy had his priorities in the right place.:)

2. Dry Air! Yes, I said dry air. For a few frizz free weeks in the fall the humidity goes down and the temperature stays warm. Naturally curly unruly hair becomes manageable and darn near straight, a dream I've had since I was fourteen. In the summer humidity after a day at the beach, or just outside in the humidity, I looked like a Carmen Miranda impersonator. You know the picture, a woman with the fruit on her head as an adornment? In the '60s and '70s I longed for Joan Baez hair or hair like Mary Allin Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary. Parted in the middle and long and straight, no matter the weather. I also yearned for their vocal talent, another gift nature didn't bless me with. What I got instead was hair so unpredictable that I never went on a swimming date. A long walk in the moonlight was misery for me because when the walk was over and the lights of the dorm lobby hit me I had gone from Mary Travers, (a look I'd achieved after hours of work under a hairdryer bonnet with juice cans for rollers. Then a straightening iron that had absolutely no high heat monitor or automatic off switch. You could get 3rd degree burns on the side of your face and burn your dorm to the ground if you weren't careful) to Angela Davis in less than an hour. Dry air is my friend.

3. Colors! Red, Orange, Yellow, Apricot, Asparagus, Bittersweet, Brick Red, Burnt Orange, Burnt Sienna, Atomic Tangerine, Copper, Gold, Golden Rod, Indian Red, Mahogany, Dandelion, Neon Carrot, Olive Green, Vivid Tangerine, Radical Red, Raw Sienna, Razzmatazz Red, Sun Glow, Sunset Orange, Torch Red, Scarlett, Outrageous Orange, Laser Lemon, Unmellow Yellow, Sunset Orange, Torch Red, Scarlett.
If a trip to Maine or other parts north are out of the question, come to Western PA during the first two weeks of October. The Allegheny Mountains are awash with the colors of fall and splash against the sky an artist's palate of reds, oranges and yellows...and variations of those colors as mentioned above from the 64 count box of crayola crayons. :)

4. Pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, and corns stalks. Who doesn't like to hike through the pumpkin patch and find the perfect one on which to carve a scary face and frighten the beejeebers out of the little kids who come to the door?

5. Apples and Apple Cider. Simmer a pot of cider on the stove with a few sticks of cinnamon and guests will think they've walked onto Walton's Mountain in the fall.

6. Did I mention dry air and straight hair. :)

7. Fall clothes! Love, love, love fall clothes. Just enough coverage to hide troublesome spots, yet still light enough to be comfortable and fashionable.

8. Chrysanthemums....pots of these fall beauties all over the porch and deck. And do you know you can smell the seasons? Another reason to love the fall.

9. New students. Teaching is a great profession and I love it. Kids are funny and nice and each year I get a whole bunch of new ones. Oh sure, there are a few here and there who curl my hair... Ha!... as if. But for the most part, they are wonderful.

The first day of school and September and Fall are like New Years' day for me. I start fresh and reinvent myself when September rolls around. All the missteps of the previous year are forgotten, and promises are made to myself to do an even better job in the new year.

Besides all the wonderful advice from Randy Pausch's Last Lecture that I plan to use in my classes this year, I found this on the web and will use it as my personal mantra for this school year:


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My good friend Betsy

Betsy and I have been friends for the last 28 years. Her husband and mine were fraternity brothers and we became friends when we were all graduating from college. We're not best friends, we're good friends. She lives a distance away and we see each other about two to three times a year. Recently her husband (the frat. brother) was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and his treatment is in our city. So there's bad news and good news. The bad news is he has to have chemo, but the good news is we get to spend more time with them than ever because they've stayed with us during a few of his treatments.

They are the type of friends who knew us when, who are just like us, who have two kids out of college, and who, (and this is the best part) can come and stay at our house and I know I don't really have to prepare much, if I don't want to. She doesn't care if I've cleaned the bathroom or changed the sheets. She doesn't care if I cook or if we eat out. She doesn't care if I have to get up the next day and go to work while she stays at our house. Betsy just likes me for me. And I feel the same way about her.

We have shared college years and young married life together as well as the joys of raising kids, the pressures of work and the angst of middle age. She is as sweet as can be and always brings me something when she comes. Sometimes it's a recipe and sometimes it's a Vera Bradley bag. Sometimes it's donuts, and sometimes is flowers. When we stay at their house, there's a surprise on my pillow when I go to bed. She makes me laugh and she laughs at my jokes.

But the best thing is there's a comfort level that only happens after years of being friends. There's no pressure, just laughs; no one-up-man-ship, just an equal playing field, no judging, just accepting.

I said we weren't best friends, and that's probably because we live so far apart, but she's kind and funny and thoughtful and the best kind of friend to have.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Box of Chocolates

I'm so proud. Since I started this blog I've been planning to write about a former student. In my 25 years of teaching I've had about 2700 students pass through my classroom door. Many keep in contact for a year or so after graduation and less keep in contact longer. I have a handful of students well past college age who I still keep in touch with.
However, one student got under my skin, crawled through me straight to my heart and sat herself there like a naughty kid in the time-out chair. She wasn't poor or homeless or lonely or friendless, she just needed something that, apparently I had. A few times a week she'd appear at my door after school, to talk, to question, for approval that she mattered, I think. She'd sit and stare, comfortable with the quiet as I would finish up some work...a dear...a petite blond, with big brown eyes peering at me..silently.
You would think "cheerleader" if you saw her even today. However, this sweetie has seen more of life than most people and has been to "there" and back too many times. She suffered her share of teenage angst and then had many years after high school seriously struggling to get her act together. And I mean, seriously. She'll write her own story about those years one day.
But now I'm happy to say I attended her wedding and rejoiced with her when she had a little baby girl. She's a wonderful wife, mother, and.........blogger! You can find her here: http://boxofchocolatesblog.blogspot.com/ blogging along with her best friend. I think they are hysterical. They make me laugh out loud.