Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

As we in the United States check off our to-do lists in preparation for our Thanksgiving holiday, I offer this council:

Beware the Pitfalls of "The Mental List."

I was inspired by this bit of wisdom as I went about my day today. Even though I had no hard and fast scheduled appointments, the plan was to rise at 5:30 AM, so I could be freshly showered, bright-eyed, and ready to dive into my to-do list before the kiddos were even up. 

Two hours and four alarm resets later (as usual), I'm hurrying into my clothes, pulling my hair through a ball cap, and herding my kiddos through their usual start to the school day. Once they were off, it was time to get to that list.

Thing is, I never wrote it down. It started with two things, so I figured there was no need to waste the paper. Even I couldn't forget a measly two things: an errand, and cleaning the house.

So, I hopped in the truck and set out to complete that errand. Thirty minutes later, mission accomplished. I got back in the truck, and while it warmed up, I started thinking. All that was left was to go home and clean the house.

"Cleaning" for me always begins with vacuuming, which caused me to remember that first I'd have to finish the three loads of laundry piled up on the carpet before I could vacuum. "Laundry" was then added to the mental list. 

Because I have to pass my kitchen to get to the laundry room, I remembered the quickly ripening bananas on my counter that I wanted to mush up and bake into banana bread before they went all black and yucky. "Bake banana bread" was next added to the list. 

Also on that counter was a bill I needed to pay. "Pay bill" dully added to the mental list. 

Since I pay my bills in the office, I was reminded of the many teeny sheets of paper with lists scattered on my desk - and by "scattered" I mean, of course, set about in a totally meaningful and organized fashion. Anyway, three of those lists were Christmas wish lists. Which reminded me I still have Christmas shopping to do. And since I was already out, I figured I'd better work on that a while, too. "Christmas shopping" was then added to the mental list.

So, with the truck sufficiently warmed up, I put it in gear and zoomed off to the store to cross a few goodies off the 'ol Christmas lists. Forty-five minutes later, I exit the store with some lovely surprises for under the tree. I loaded them in the back of the truck, and headed for home so I could finish the rest of that mental list.

On the way home from shopping, I mentally ticked off what I purchased and tried to remember what else I still want to find. Oh! There is that one store in town I need to go get the thing for the person (Haha. You thought I was gonna give something away, didn't ya?), so I resolved to take the appropriate exit. In the meantime, my mind wandered off to calculate how much time I had left before the bus would arrive to drop off my little lovelies from school.

WHOOSH! I blew right by my exit. Crud. It took me 5 extra miles to get to the next exit and backtrack to where I wanted to be. Despite the unexpected detour, I ended up finding what I wanted and getting home in plenty of time to meet the bus. So I unloaded my finds, grabbed a bit of lunch, and told myself I'd start cleaning as soon as I finished eating, then get to the bus stop. 

Well, it's not very entertaining talking to oneself at lunch, so I brought my food into the office. That way, I could do some online shopping at the same time and tie up some loose ends that came up during the brick-and-mortar shopping.

So, I'm clicking along, price-checking, fiddling with codes (hmmm...which is worth more: the fifteen percent off, or the free shipping), finding new ideas with every click. I was feeling pretty good until I shifted the papers on my desk to find the one I'd scribbled a code onto. Instead, I found one upon which was scrawled, "Pay bill."

WHOOPS! The bill! I dashed back out to the kitchen, grabbed the bill from the counter, went back to the office, and paid the bill online. And then I heard the bus. 

Crud! My surprises were still setting out in plain sight, and there wasn't enough time to put them away. So I threw a blanket over them, closed the office doors, and crossed my fingers that the kiddos hadn't yet reached that search-the-house-for-anything-suspicious stage that presents itself at this time of year. Happily, they hadn't, and they dutifully stayed away from the office.

So while they headed to the kitchen for a snack, I managed to finish my last online purchase (for now). Then I commenced with the next items on my mental list: Laundry. Vacuum basement. More laundry. Vacuum upstairs. Even more laundry. Vacuum kitchen. Oh, crud! The bananas! 

So, I started to get the dry ingredients measured for the banana bread, when the washer buzzed. I moved clothes from washer to dryer, and put a few in a basket. I hauled the basket upstairs to hang the clothes, then came back to finish the banana bread. I added the rest of the dry ingredients. Wait a minute. Where's the sugar? I know I measured it...Oh, crud! I did flour for the sugar. Managing to fix that, I held part of it aside to be added after the bananas. I blended in the bananas. Then I put in the eggs and the rest of the dry mixture.

Now, if you are a baker, you know that when dry ingredients are added, you have to start the mixer out slow, right? Well, just before I hit the switch, I remembered that I still needed to fix a dish for my part of Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law's tomorrow. As I added that to my mental list for tomorrow, I flipped the switch all the way up to "beat."

POOF! I was blasted in the face by an explosion of flour, baking power, baking soda, sugar, and salt as the mixer jolted into turbo mode. I hurried to shut it off again, but the damage was already done: the counter was coated in white powder, and so was I. 

So, here I am a few hours later. I'm sitting in my clean house. My errand is mentally checked off. My purchases are safely tucked away. The bill is paid. The laundry is done. The banana bread is cooling. And I'm thinking about that dish I have to make tomorrow. It's a garden salad. That's all I have to do. 

I don't really need to write that down.

Do I?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Headline Humor

I found a few headlines today that just struck my funny bone, so I thought I'd share the silly. Go on and click on the links for the full stories.

Ewww. The article is all about unhealthy holiday foods - not funny, really, but that title is just such a visual...

I tell ya. This one had me giggling before I ever even read the article. Once I did read it, well... Let me put it this way: even my non-potty-humor-enjoying husband got a chuckle out of it.

Yes, really. Here's an excerpt: "According to a report released Friday by the Martin County Sheriff's Office, the 13-year-old boy 'continually disrupted his classroom environment' by intentionally breaking wind." Hmmm. I see a fartiste career in this boy' future...

This one is from back in September, but warrants a mention. The man was originally detained from a traffic stop which progressed to a breathalyzer test. But then the real fun began: "According to a criminal complaint, [the man] passed gas and made a fanning motion" toward a patrolman. Yep. Handsome Boy should be thanking his lucky stars there are no patrolmen in our house...

...and with a 12-gauge, no less. Kinda makes ya think twice about little Fluffy, now doesn't it?

So, that's it for me. Drop me a comment if you have any of your own to add...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Review: "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" by Patricia Thomas

"Stand back," said the elephant,
"I'm going to sneeze!
I hate to alarm you,
But I don't wish to harm you.
My friends, I fear
It's clear....
Oh, dear,
You'd better stand back, I'm going to sneeze."

The animals are much distressed to hear the elephant's warning that a sneeze is imminent. They entreat him not to do it, reminding him of what happened to each of them the last time he let a sneeze go. Though he is sympathetic to their plight, it doesn't seem to be working, and the elephant is nearly ready to sneeze. But then that age-old and unlikely elephant nemesis, the mouse, manages to stop the elephant's sneeze! The elephant is so amazed, he starts to laugh, and laugh and laugh...and when he does...look out!

For Teachers and Librarians:
Your young charges will delight in the silly situations, colorful illustrations, and charming rhymes in "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" It is a great addition to a poetry unit, a fun aside to an animals unit, and a much-requested storytime staple. Compare and contrast animal groups and their characteristics, let them find and list rhyming words from the text, do a class read-aloud and let the children chime in on favorite parts. Have them come up with animals not in the book, and let them work in groups to write rhymes and illustrate how the elephant's sneeze would affect the new animals. But above all, have fun, fun, fun reading this book!

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" is one fun book! Be prepared for your little ones to ask you to read this one over and over and over. Flowing rhymes, funny, colorful pictures, and a great story make this a book that has endeared itself to readers since 1971, and continues to do so - as you will soon find out once you introduce your small fries to it. Don't be surprised if they pull it out of your hands, and take over on their own.

For the Kids:
Did you ever wonder what would happen when an elephant sneezed? Well, if you read, "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" or have someone read it to you, you can find out. Here's a hint: bald bears, flying feathers, missing stripes and spots, and...well, you'd better get that book so you can see for yourself!

For Everyone Else:
If you were a tyke starting in the early 1970's, "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" may well be one of your most beloved books of the time. If you had tykes back then (kiddos or grands), you may remember the smiles and giggles this book brought to your little lovelies. If you're not any of those, get yourself a copy of this book, and see what all the fuss has been about. Then, make sure you get it into the hands of a little one you know. They will be forever grateful.

Wrapping Up:
"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" is a true giggle-fest, and an enduring children's book classic. Find a copy, get reading, and join in the fun.

Title: "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!"
Author: Patricia Thomas
Illustrator: Wallace Tripp
Pages: 32
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher and Date: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1990
Edition: Second
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $16.99
ISBN (trade): 0688093388
ISBN (library): 0688093396

Author Spotlight: Patricia Thomas

It is a writer's dream: Patricia Thomas' first published children's book - "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" (1971) - has never gone out of print. 

Raised on a small farm outside Grove City in western Pennsylvania, Mrs. Thomas' school teacher parents instilled in her a love of reading, and a curiosity about the world. She says,

"As a writer, you cannot afford not to be interested in everything. Because you write from total life experience. You don't know when you're going to pull something out of life experience."

After graduating from Penn State University with a BS in Journalism, Radio and Home Economics, she and her husband Edward (now deceased) moved to Philadelphia, where she worked as an ad copywriter for department stores. Later, they moved to Brigantine, NJ, where she wrote copy for Spencer's Gifts and began making up bedtime stories for her children. 

It was from those bedtime stories that Mrs. Thomas' first manuscript had its roots: "A Horse of a Different Color." When publishers didn't bite on it, she kept trying, and was rewarded when "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" was published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard in 1971. Since then, she has gone on to write several other books, as well as hundreds of articles and stories for children.

Patricia Thomas is a senior writer and editor in the communications and marketing department of Marywood University, and teaches classes through the Institute of Children's Literature. She lives in Carbondale, PA, and has 4 children, 14 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. 

Meet Patricia Thomas - Scranton Times interview by Josh McAuliffe
*This link no longer works, as of June 14, 2013
Book jacket blurb on "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" By 
     Patricia Thomas

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Must Confess

Since November 21st is False Confession Day, I'll let you in on a few of mine:

False Confession #1: I have a pathological need to clean.

False Confession #2: I abhor bathroom humor.

False Confession #3: Chocolate makes me nauseous.

False Confession #4: I am not a total conspiracy theorist.

False Confession #5: It does not grate on my nerves in the least when someone says,

False Confession #6: I am the picture of cheerfulness first thing in the morning.

False Confession #7: I have never succumbed to the uncontrollable urge to spin around to the left the exact same number of times I have just spun around to the right.

Well. That was fun, wasn't it? Now it's your turn: go on and drop me a comment with your own False Confessions...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Getting to the Point

My sidebar says today is Pencil Day. Since I am a total writing instrument geek, I wanted to dig into this one a bit, and do you know what I found? No one agrees on when, exactly, Pencil Day is. Furthermore, there isn't even agreement on the name of the day to celebrate this most taken-for-granted tool.

One source has it listed as being #2 Pencil Day, celebrated on August 17th, though it doesn't list why.

Another source has it listed as Pencil Day, a one-time event held on December 11, 2007 as part of a campaign to support the Writer's Guild of America strike (the one that made us - and the networks - realize the true geniuses behind our favorite shows). 

Still another source says Free Pencil Day is celebrated annually on March 30, in honor of the first patent on the modern pencil.

And then there is the source that gave me November 19th as the official Pencil Day, and listed the invention date as 1895.

Well, I don't know about you, but that many discrepancies bug me. However, let's just agree to disagree on date and name, and move on to some cool stuff about pencils:

Pencil Facts
  • Once pencil can write 45,000 words, or draw a line 35 miles long.
  • A pencil can write in zero gravity, upside-down, or underwater.
  • "Lead" in the pencil is actually non-toxic graphite. 
  • Modern pencils come in over 350 varieties - each designed for a specific use.
  • Pencils have been mass-produced in Europe since 1622.
  • The first U.S. pencils were made in 1812.

Pencil Ancestry?
  • 1565 marks the first record of a pencil, documented by Conrad Gesner, created from a piece of graphite fitted into a wood casing.
  • In 1795, N.J. Conte produced a crude prototype of a pencil using a pulverized graphite base.
  • A patent was issued to Hymen Lipman on March 30, 1858 for a pencil with one writing end and one eraser end.

Pencil Trivia
  • Do you know why 75% of all pencils are yellow? During the 1800's, the best graphite came from China, whose people associate yellow with royalty and respect. Therefore, a pencil painted yellow became known as the best money could buy.
  • Are there left-handed pencils? Maybe, according to the Dixon Ticonderoga Company (who makes my all-time fave pencil for writing - yellow, #2 5/10). They say that on a right-handed pencil, the imprinted words read from the point to the eraser. Just the opposite for a lefty pencil.
  • Pencil markings don't fade in sunlight.

I know. You feel totally enlightened now, don't you? So go out there and enjoy what's left of Pencil Day...whenever it is.

Sources (in addition to the links above):

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For All You Wordies Out There

I was reading my neighbor's copy of Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. Now, there is an author with a real, umm, different perspective. Such imagination. And such interesting word choices: Guttersnipes! Dandyprats! Piffling squimp!

I only found a definition for one of those: a guttersnipe is a street urchin, more or less. I'm pretty sure the other two are also some kind of insult, and all three are immensely fun (and funny) to say out loud. The kiddos and I had a grand time shouting them out all around the house.

Well. That got me wondering what other wonderful, funny-sounding words are out there, so of course I went web surfing, and found a few more. Some are funny, some are insulting (and therefore funny), some are interesting, and some are cute. But most importantly, they are all real words:

Vomitory - Nope. It's not what you're thinking. It's a passageway leading to seats in a theater or stadium. (Think Roman structures.)

Snollygoster - a corrupt politician; especially shrewd or calculating (This one would have been good to know in the days leading up to the election.)

Dogsturds - candied sweetmeats (I wonder if I can send some of those in for school snacks...)

Gonzoogler - an idle spectator; rubbernecker (To define one funny word with another.)

Flapdoodle - nonsense; twaddle (Now, twaddle...that's a great one in and of itself, too.)

Testudineous - to be slow as a tortoise (Explain away your late arrival with elegance: "I do apologize. The traffic was absolutely testudineous!")

Clinchpooper - a complete slob (I can't wait to use this one! "You are such a clinchpoooper!")

Wisterpooper - a slap upside the head (OK, I just like to say this one...)

Slubberdegullion - a filthy, slobbering person (Lovely Girl can't wait for a chance to use this one on the boys at school - but I told her, "You didn't hear it from me...")

Dumbledore - a type of bee (There you go - a bit of trivia for all the Harry-Potter-o-philes out there.)

Pusillanimous - cowardly (If you say this one importantly enough, they'll puff up with pride: "There you are, my pusillanimous friend...")

Sitooterie - summerhouse or gazebo; an out-of-the-way place to sit at a dance (You might not want to suggest to your date that you retire to the sitooterie, real word or not. Can you say, end-of-date?)

Bucculent - wide-mouthed. (Say it with a smile, and they'll take it as a compliment: "Ah, well-said, my bucculent friend." )

Draftsack - bag of garbage (Oh, this one could be so much fun...)

So many words, so little time. And so, I'll save the others for later. In the meantime, listed below are my sources. Check them out for many, many more funny-sounding words. 

Go ahead. Improve your vocabulary. Make people wonder what the heck you're talking about. Then smile smugly, tell them to "Go look it up," ...and run. (That way, if you said something insulting, by the time they figure it out, you can be long gone...)


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm Off to Get Some Cleaning Done...

...before company comes this weekend.

Yeah. My sentiments exactly.

...about the cleaning, not the company, of course. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Do They Call It a Bedroom, Exactly?

I guess they call it a bedroom because it's a room with a bed in it. 'Cause to call it a sleeproom would be a total misnomer. At least, it would be in my case.

Here is a partial and by no means complete list of all the alternate names by which my "Bedroom" could be known:

Laundry Staging Area - Since my laundry room (another total misnomer, but this time on the "room" part) is only big enough for one washer, one dryer, and one me, I end up sorting the dirty clothes into piles in my bedroom. Then, when I need to sling up some things to air dry, I set up the drying racks in my bedroom. Then, when the clothes need folding, I spread out the folded stacks of clothes all over my so-called bedroom. 

Recovery Room - Yeah. If you're a parent, or you have parents, you know exactly what this means. Where does every kid turn when they feel miserable and need a place to feel warm and soft and totally pampered? That's right. Mommy's room. 

Surrogate Family Room - Sometimes heading down to the basement family room to watch a little TV seems just a little too...well...impersonal. So instead we retire to the smaller TV, but cozier seating arrangement of my bedr- I mean, the Surrogate Family Room.

Household Hang-Out - Rainy days. Slug days. Mopey days. Bad-day-at-school days. Somehow on these kinds of days, everyone ends up piled on my bed with books or games or toys. 

Occasional Dining Room - You know those kind of days. Everyone's tired. Everyone's cranky. And no one ( wants to cook. So we roar off to Mickey D's, bring it all home, spread some towels across the bed - 'cause I draw the line at sleeping on crumbs - and chow down while we take in a little bit of Phineas and Ferb. Hmmm. How about "The Chow Room?"

Satellite Office - Sometimes, that trek down 16 stairs to my lovely office with a comfy couch and awesome bookshelves just seems insurmountable. So, I stay firmly planted on my pillowtop mattress and type away on the laptop. Sometimes I still have to schlep down to the office to get the files I need to get the job done, but still. The point is, maybe I should just call it the Satellite Office. Sure. Then I could call the trips up and down the stairs my Commute...

Bad Dream Banishment Bungalow - Thump! Thump! Thump! Shake. Shake.
     "Wha? Huh? Buddy, what's up?" 
     "I had a bad dream. Can I sleep in here with you?" 
     Scoot. Scoot. Snuggle. 

So many names, but only one room. It's all so confusing. I guess "Bedroom" will have to do for simplicity's sake.

But I still say it's totally misnamed...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Book Review: The Shamer's Daughter, by Lene Kaaberbol

     Strictly speaking, it wasn't really Cilla's fault that I was bitten by a dragon. It was probably sheer coincidence that she decided to throw a bucket of whey in my face on the very day the man from Dunark came. But every time my arm hurts...every time I miss Cherry Tree Cottage and the pear trees and the chickens we had...I get mad at Cilla all over again.

Ten-year-old Dina Tonerre has very special eyes, but no one wants to meet them. Even her own friends gradually stop looking directly at her, and don't play with her anymore. She inherited those eyes from her mother, The Shamer. A Shamer is a person with the gift of reading a person's soul, of being able to see everything a person is ashamed of. But as Dina soon learns, it is a gift that is both blessing and curse, and she's not at all sure she wants it. 

Her mother is sentenced to be fed to the dragons because she won't condemn a boy accused of murder - a crime that, after looking into his eyes, she is adamant that he did not commit. Dina is tricked into joining her mother at the castle where she is being held, by the very man who has decided her mother's fate. But when she meets the accused boy, she sees what her mother did - that he is innocent. 

With the help of unlikely allies, Dina embarks on a perilous journey to discover the true killer, and to save her mother and the boy. Along the way, she learns about trust and friendship, and finds the courage to accept who she is.  

For Teachers and Librarians:
The Shamer's Daughter is a dark fantasy with heroic proportions. There are fantastic themes here of good vs. evil, self-acceptance, trust, courage, ethics, and seeking identity. From the mystery angle, have your students keep notebooks and fill them with clues Dina discovers, as well as any other tidbits they feel are important to finding the real killer. Let them discuss the feelings Dina struggles with as she comes to grips with inheriting the Shamer's eyes. Have them chart the good things Dina discovers she can do, as well as the more unpleasant aspects of her gift. 

You could also go with the political angle. Who stands to gain from the murders committed? Why? Or, have your students explore the friendship/trust theme: Dina misses having a true friend, and laments that her Shamer's eyes have scared them all away. What does her mother tell her about this? What do your students think she means by that? When does Dina discover the truth of her mother's words? When is she confused by them? 

Go with the fantasy angle, and delve into dragons - where do they appear in history? How have they been described in literature? Are they based partly in fact? So many ways to use this book...which will you choose?

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
The Shamer's Daughter is most appropriate for your older kiddos - probably age 9 and up. It is a gripping story, part mystery, part self-discovery, part fantasy, and they won't be able to tear themselves away. (And neither will you - you should read it, too!) It offers valuable lessons in self-acceptance, trust, and courage, but it's not at all preachy. It comes across in a totally organic way, and is seamlessly woven into the plot. Be available as they read, to explain things they may not understand, and to discuss words they may not have heard before.

For the Kids:
The Shamer's Daughter has lots to like: dragons, castles, mystery, a girl with strange and powerful gift, action, adventure, and did I mention dragons? You will not be able to put this one down. And guess what? The author has written three more books in this series! Try it - and see what you think.

For Everyone Else:
Though The Shamer's Daughter is a novel for the youngish set, adults will be completely drawn into this fantasy. Full of action, adventure, political intrigue, dragons, and no small amount of soul-searching, it is a book that will grab your attention and never let go. And the great thing is, once you finish, there are three more books in the series, so you can continue the adventures just a little longer. 

Wrapping Up:
The Shamer's Daughter has something for everyone, no matter what your age. So go find it, and get reading!

Title: The Shamer's Daughter
Author: Lene Kaaberbol
Pages: 235
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publisher and Date: Henry Holt and Co., 2004
Edition: First American Edition
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $16.95
ISBN-10: 0802075410
ISBN-13: 978-0805075410

Author Spotlight: Lene Kaaberbol

Lene Kaaberbol started writing at 12 years old. She published her first book age 15, in 1975 - a novel about a girl named Tina and her horses - and added more to make a series throughout her high school years. She moved into fantasy writing when she was 18 years old, after discovering the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Women have an important role in her books, as do themes of seeking identity, personal courage, and ethics.

Though she has been a secondary school teacher, copywriter, literary translator, literary editor, cleaning assistant, and even riding teacher, she is now a full-time writer. She has written for both children and adults, from novels to picture books, and has published several books in her native Denmark. Ms Kaaberbol has also translated her own work into English.

Among her many titles is the stand-alone novel Silverhorse (1992), the four books in the Shamer Chronicles, the Katriona Trilogy, and several other series - including the popular W.I.T.C.H. series. 

Lene Kaaberbol's work has been honored many times, including for her novel, The Shamer's Daughter, which was short-listed for the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation, and Disney Writer of the Year Award for her work on the W.I.T.C.H. series.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Flash of Something Fun (and Inspiring) on This Otherwise Dreary Day

It's raining. 

And rather dreary. 

I should be writing. But on a day like today, motivation is severely lacking. Even that the ol' adage "Butt in Chair" isn't working so well, 'cause I'd rather wrap myself in a soft blanket by the fire and snooze on the couch.

So, in an effort to combat my desire for a Rainy Day Slugfest, I have turned to mindless tasks that keep me moving, but not necessarily thinking (at least, not on purpose). And that is why I'm hauling load after load of laundry down 16 steps to my washing machine, heaving part of said loads from washer to dryer, then hauling the rest of said loads (still damp) back up 16 steps to the drying racks all set up and waiting to be filled. 

While schlepping laundry up and down the stairs might sneak in some small semblance of exercise, beyond that, it just adds to the dreariness of the day.

And then...I checked email in between schleppings, and found this:

Michelle over at My Semblance of Sanity had left me an award! At last, the clouds began to part - figuratively, at least. (The actual clouds outside are still very much present.) It is a sweet award, and thank you to Michelle for thinking of me! If you've never been to Michelle's blog, check it out - she's known for her hilarity, and is in the middle of participating in NaBloPoMo (challenging bloggers to "Post every day for a month").

After basking in the glow of this lovely award, I pulled up Blogger and got to work on this post. And wonder of wonders, I'm scribbling down other post ideas in between paragraphs. And when I'm done with that, I'm gonna pull out one of those kids' novels and get crackin' again.

But before I go, I want to send this over to Mommy C. She's not blogging so much this month, but it's because she's totally immersed in Authonomy - you can find her profile page here - taking up the challenge to get her writing read, noticed and (hopefully) published. 

Alrighty. The washer is swishing, the dryer is tumbling, and the clothes on the rack are, well, drying. And finally, I am out of my funk, and ready to write.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Back when I was a single lass, I had a beginning-of-the-alphabet last name. I was a Fortunate: accustomed to being near the front of every line. I was also accustomed to being finished with whatever I was in line for long before those Unfortunates saddled with an end-of-the-alphabet last name had even gotten started.

And then, I got married. 

Don't get me wrong. C is a wonderful (and immensely patient) husband. But my adopted last name now begins with W. I am now one of the Unfortunates, doomed to be near the end of every line, woefully watching the Fortunates with beginning-of-the-alphabet last names skipping gaily past me as I wait in a linear, er, very hot place.

Today was no exception. At 10:30 AM, the kiddos and I made ourselves presentable, then eagerly trooped off to the polling place. Usually this is a rather fast trip, with a really close parking spot. Today, there were guys directing us to parking in the grass lot across from the building. Then we trudged around to the very back of the building, where the line was snaked around nearly to the exit lane. 

But, we were still in good spirits as we took our place in line. These are exciting times, and this is an historic election, no matter who wins. 

Though the line seemed to be moving rather quickly, ten minutes morphed into twenty, then thirty. Then we stopped counting. Lines for the A-L people were zipping along, and short. Lines for we M-Z's were crawling, and long. 

An hour and a half after we stepped in line, I had voted, the whining from Handsome Boy had ceased (Lovely Girl wisely brought along her writing, and so was too immersed in her thoughts to whine) and we were outta there.

C took an early train home, but called me to say he still didn't get to the polling place parking lot until nearly 5 PM. I figured he'd be heating up his own dinner tonight.

Shortly after that call, he's standing in our kitchen, grinning.

"What are you doing here?" I said. "Go vote! The line will be horrendous!"

But that was precisely not the case. He got in line at 5 PM. In the rain. Just as he pulled out his umbrella, the election official called for people in M-Z. He raised his hand. The official directed him to the shrimpy M-Z line next to the ridiculously long A-L one.

By 5:15 PM he was back in his car. At 5:20 PM, he rolls on in the house.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Something to Think About as You Go to the Polls...

Martha over at A Curiosity Shop has a video clip from The West Wing that you will want to hear and see as you make your final decisions about the people you will vote into office today.

It is a most powerful 55 seconds.

"...we don't know what the next President's going to face. If we choose someone with vision, someone with guts, someone with gravitas, who's connected to other people's lives and cares about making them better; if we choose someone to inspire us... then we'll be able to face what comes our way, and achieve things we can't imagine yet."

              -Toby Ziegler, character from The West Wing

Monday, November 3, 2008

Politics and Entertainment

First, there was all the discussion over this year's most historic Democratic primary - an African-American Presidential candidate vs. a woman Presidential candidate.

And you know what? That was a most awesome situation.

Then, there was all the discussion over this year's most historic Presidential election - an African-American Presidential candidate vs. a caucasian Presidential candidate who has sacrificed much for his country.

And you know what? That is a most awesome situation.

Then, there was all the discussion over Saturday Night Live, with it's uncanny impersonations of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates.

And you know what? That is more than a little funny, and great comic relief from all the seriousness of the election.

Then, SNL branched out into Thursday Night Live sessions dedicated to the lighter side of these intriguing and historic political times.

And you know what? That is also more than a little funny.

Now, SNL has branched out even further: into Monday night - which is tonight, since, you know, tomorrow is the actual election.

And you know what? That is a great idea, and more than a little timely.

But why, why, why couldn't they have done it in a time slot that is NOT the Heroes time slot?