Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Or, perhaps at this point, happy end of 2009. It was quite a year, one of much uncertainty and unhappiness at times, but good things happened too. Many friends had babies, my brother got married, I found a new job and got to stay put in Maryland. I learned how to knit socks, gave away more baby hats than I can count, stayed in touch with old friends and made new ones.

Hopes for the new year? Happiness, healthiness, and continued good relationships with friends and family. I would like to get the quarter this year... we shall see what happens tomorrow, what the report is. See, it's a tradition in our family, a mere one week after Christmas, to gather for yet another large meal, on New Year's Day. We have been known to pack upwards of 30 people in the house for this meal (which is not unlike the crowd at Greek Easter, come to think of it). One feature of this meal is the finding of the coin for New Year's. Someone in the family makes a big pan of spanikopita (or another sort, we're not that picky). Underneath the bottom layer of phyllo dough goes a quarter wrapped in waxed paper. After it is baked, someone cuts the pita into pieces and then lifts them out of the pan one at a time, checking the underside for the wrapped coin. Each piece is "named" for a member of the family, from oldest to youngest. (Folks who are lucky enough to marry in get included.) The story goes that if it's your piece that has the coin, you get good luck for the year. I have never gotten the coin.

All-in-all, a thoroughly low-key New Year's Eve. Never a holiday that I have enjoyed tons, today spent working, doing a few crosswords, watching Hitchcock movies on TCM, and winding sock yarn into balls (yes, really -- I got a ball winder for Christmas, though do not own a swift, at least not yet).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I sure do adore vacation. I have not thought about work (much) in the last week and am truly thankful for the fact that I get to "work from home" for the next few days. Christmas in NH was a time of much family, many card games, a lot of food, and a dash of silliness. As usual, it was all about food: Christmas Eve appetizer/dessert gathering, Christmas morning bran muffins (laugh all you want, this is a treat), Christmas day food-food-food, & dinner at a few favorite local restaurants. I got to see a few dear friends, some of whom live very far away, and had fun, as usual, with my crazy, open, loud, loving family. I got to meet my new niece, who is only 2-ish weeks old.

The most memorable moment of my time in NH? Seeing surfers. Yes, surfers, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of NH, where the water is 40-ish degrees at the end of December.

Thinking about weeding out my book collection (which was added to over the holiday): "Books You Can Live Without."

Proud of the fact that I actually left enough room in my suitcase for my Christmas gifts to make it home, no extra bag required. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Hallelujah. I have made it to Christmas. I enjoy my job, but it's time for a few days off. :)

I am able to work from home for the next few weeks when I'm not on actual vacation, which is nice. I have spent today grading + packing things for my trip home to NH. It's going to be the first trip that I'm taking with my new suitcase. I used to have a tiny little 21" suitcase for small trips -- I was really good at packing that sucker. I once too that suitcase for an 8 day trip to Seattle. Granted, it was summertime, but it was a tight fit. The new suitcase is slightly larger, 24", I think, but man, what a difference 3" makes. Winter clothes, but a shorter trip and still with room to spare, room to bring home Christmas presents. It's the first time since 2000 that I have flown home for Christmas.

I am so incredibly excited to go home for Christmas, to see my family and meet my cousin's new daughter, to catch up with old friends, some of whom I have not seen in a tragically long time. (Scary too, that, but I'm certain it will generate some funny stories.)

As Christmas approaches, I have been listening non-stop to Winterbloom, a group that is made up of 4 women, two of whom are some of my favorite singer-songwriters -- Meg Hutchinson & Antje Duvekot. Not that the other two aren't fab, I'm sure, but I hadn't listened to them before this album. :P At any rate, the songs on the short album are excellent: "Winterbloom: Traditions Rearranged." Particularly love this line, from Antje's song "Thanks for the Roses": "Your gift was three sizes too small, when have you ever seen me wear a thong?!?" Though I also love this line, from "Rexroth's Daughter": "Life is a thump-ripe melon, so sweet and such a mess."

Enjoy, travel safely, and happy holidays.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Stories

While my dear friend Katie made a list (and accomplished something, despite her protestations that she did not), I spent much of the past weekend sacked out on the couch, watching TV, and knitting. (I am knitting the second of a pair of socks.) I also watched it snow. And snow. And snow. And measured the snow on the back porch. 24 inches, by my last measurement, at 9 pm-ish on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, I awoke to the typical bright sunshine in the wake of a storm. The sun just seems brighter after the storm gray + the reflection off the snow seems particularly reflect-y. I decided to shovel out my car before I showered, logically. I bundled up, set out, and closed the door behind me... which is where the problem began. I locked myself out. In the cold. In the snow. No roommates home, nothing. I started to swear and then cry, but then decided that's not what adults should do in this situation. Instead, I decided to shovel and pray that my roommate would come home.

Shovel, shovel, shovel. Chat with neighbors. Mention that I locked myself out. The woman who lives next door is my new favorite person -- she knew that my lock (and all of our locks, apparently) can be jimmied with a credit card. Hallelujah. Thank goodness for neighbors. Christmas cookies for everyone!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Good Times

I had a good time with K's family for Thanksgiving. They are completely different from my crazy family, but still pleasant. I'm looking forward to spending a few days with my own family at Christmas, mostly because there's nothing like your own brand of crazy. I'm also hoping to catch up with a few college friends while in New England and some high school friends as well. Way to cram maximum contacts into minimum days. I guess this is the nature of not living in the place that you grew up.

This is interesting, an article from Slate about several art exhibits that are based on contact sheets, which are not really used anymore due to the rise of digital cameras and decrease of use of actual film.

Fascinating article re: outdoor schools. Like summer camp, but year round.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Rant About Pants

Pants are difficult for me to buy. I have hips and a waist, you know, like a woman. (Duh.) Though the time of the extremely low-rise seems to be coming to an end, I still find it difficult to find pants that a) come up high enough on my hips, b) are long enough -- 'cause I'm tall, and c) have a hip to waist ratio that fits my body. So, here's my thing:

Why, oh why, can they not sell women's pants the way that they sell men's pants? Men's pants are sold by waist and inseam. Women's pants are sold in arbitrary sizes that differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. If they would tell me things about the measurements of the waist, inseam, hip, and rise, I would have a much better idea about which size would be mine.

All of which is to say that I bought two pairs of pants this weekend at Old Navy, which are men's pants. They fit ok, other than having no waist (since men do not have hips/waists like women).

Anywho... Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


This post is of positively no consequence, but here it is anyway. Topic: haircuts.

I have lived in this state for more than three years (incidentally, the longest I have lived anywhere since college). However, I have scrupulously avoided getting my haircut here, only getting 2 $15 "super cuts"-type haircuts in the state, plus last spring's charity chop for free. For my other haircuts, I have waited (and waited and waited) long enough and got my hair cut when I went home to New Hampshire. Like other things in my life (choral singing comes to mind), I am picky about haircuts. I both want a good cut and do not want to pay an extravagant amount. I admit, I use NH as a guideline for price, despite the fact that I live in a more major metro area now.

I spent the last few weeks asking everyone I know about haircuts. Do you like the place you get it cut? Can I have the name/number? (I'm going to try this technique with doctors & dentists next.) One of my roommates gave me the number for the place that she gets her hair colored & I went there on Saturday morning. Result? Good haircut, evening out some of the issues with the growing out previous haircut. It's good enough, at least right now, that I'm actually considering going back, perhaps giving up the "voyage home for a haircut" thing. Sigh.

I've been spending lots of time on weekends baking. Today's projects: chocolate chip cookies & the filling for a Greek desert. Looking forward to Thanksgiving...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend Roundup

Crap week at work. However, since I am working on not being defined by my job, I shall skip talking about that.

Weekend roundup:
- Massive cleanup of the kitchen on Friday. It was a scary place.
- Saturday errands to the post office, Target, and the supermarket. I didn't go to Trader Joe's like I usually do -- there is the occasional item that TJ's doesn't have. I needed phyllo dough for Thanksgiving-esque projects.
- Went to the bookstore on Saturday night and devoured almost half a book in the store. Needless to say, I bought it: The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn. Then I finished it this morning when I got up. Beautiful, clear writing, lovely story. (Reviewers, apparently, did not care much for the book. I liked it.)
- This morning, I went to TJ's for the week's groceries. I decided to make lasagna for this week's lunches/dinners. However, they didn't have any lasagna noodles. I bought a pound of long, flat noodles instead. They made a pretty good dish, though it didn't quite stick together in the same way that lasagna is supposed to and there was a tad too much water in the dish at the end of the cooking time, probably as a result of the fact that the noodles were pre-cooked instead of "no boil."

The weather here is beautiful, after several days of rain. Sunny, bright, clear, 70 degrees. Windows open. Fresh air.

Nearly finished with a pair of wool mittens, which seem at odds with this beautiful day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Music

Coming home from DC this evening, I heard a story on NPR on the band Paper Bird. Came home, downloaded their 2 albums. Love so far. Thanks, NPR!

Things that have made me happy this week:
- New music
- Friday, a consistently exceptionally pleasant day of the week
- Phone call on Thursday evening
- The realization that Christmas is 7 weeks away
- Explanatory footnotes
- Pleasant coworkers
- The gingerbread latte
- New cell phone, though irritated initially to have to purchase it
- Getting her money back from the gym, who has been charging me for the last 6 months even though I canceled the membership
- Good weather both weekend days
- Being approved for the tuition discount so I can start some more schooling for free
- An alumna was named the new President of Mount Holyoke College!
- The voters of Washington state, who seem to have approved their "everything but the word marriage" option
- The knowledge that although Maine turned down their gay marriage law, the election was close, more people's eyes were opened to the critical nature of this issue.

Plus, remember this, from Dr. King: "When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." (8/16/1967)

At the moment, despite small day-to-day irritations, I am happy, pleased with the life I am carving out for myself, and glad for family & friends.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Best Friend

I have been friends with my oldest friend in the world since we were 2 years old. We're coming up on 30 years of being friends. Most of that friendship has been spent at least a half-continent apart, most of the time more. But she's like family and we can pick up even after a long time apart like we lived together for many more than 2 years and like we speak far more often than we actually do.

The most exciting news as of late? She and her husband are having twins, girls, due in March. I'm so so so so excited for them. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Crazy Week

What should have been a normal kind of workweek got sillier by the day. Tuesday, you know about. Wednesday went like this: now that I am a corporate warrior, I work in an office with office culture. Part of our office culture is apparently this: there are contests at Halloween. Apparently, one of the Florida offices goes ALL OUT. Each office has two contests: cubicle decoration and costume. I am so not into the costume concept, but I have come up with an excellent idea for decorating my cube. I shall be sure to take pictures and post them, fear not.

Thursday was a normal sort of day at work other than the parent conference from hell, then I got to have dinner with a high school friend who was in town for business. Much fun.

Last night I suffered from a bout of insomnia and was awake between 3 and 4:30 in the morning. Which then led to oversleeping this morning, getting up 45 min late, but only getting to work 5 min late. Thank goodness I can turn on the speed if need be. To balance out the parent conference from yesterday, there was an excellent 1/2 hour IM conversation with a student in one of my AP US History sections about section differences that emerged during the Era of Good Feelings. I wear my history teacher dork label proudly, thank you very much.

Here's to a good night's sleep tonight, followed by a few fun activities over the weekend. Who doesn't like the silly?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fun on a Slow Tuesday

It's amazing how one little suggestion can make your whole day into a ball of fun, even if nothing ends up happening as a result of that suggestion. Exhibit A, from today:
- K's dad forwarded her an email from an airline about a sale they were having. Said email was intended to alert her to fares that could be used when her mom visits for Thanksgiving.
- K looked at the email and said, "Hey, fares to Boston are wicked cheap. $39 each way!"
- K forwarded me the email and pointed out fares. "Wouldn't it be fun to go to Boston for a random weekend?"
- C looked at fares and the suggestion and said, "Yes! Let's go bug (I mean visit) E!"

Before you knew it, plans were in the works. A weekend was picked! Time off was requested! The fun began bubbling up! We could visit E and go out to western Massachusetts to visit "the motherland"!

Then, real life got in the way of the fun. Something came up for K's work.

Now it looks like we won't get to go. However, even if we don't go (offer up some prayers to Mary Lyon, whydoncha?), the thought was there and brought some fun to an otherwise uneventful Tuesday in October.

Now I've got some days off in November. What do we think I should do with them?

Monday, October 12, 2009


I've been knitting a lot as of late. Time + knitting group = lots of knitting.

I have knit two new baby hats for the two babies that an old and dear friend is having. This pattern. A lemon and an eggplant. Too cute.

I have also finished a linen bag with a Mobius strip strap. I have to say, I like it a lot more now that the ends are all woven in. Shocking that I like it nicer when it looks neat.

Next project? New mittens with a wool/silk blend yarn and then socks! I bought self-striping sock yarn.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Borrowed from a kick-ass blog, Bitch PhD, the entry from today. You must watch the embedded video...

'Cause it's different out there now and that's a good thing.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Activities to Make Life Good

The new 9-to-5 job leaves me with evenings and weekends generally free and clear. TV has become less of a presence in my life in the evenings, which is a good thing. Less TV + fewer responsibilities = ability to join activities. I have already joined a knitting group, which is super-fun because I am making friends and have people there to help me when I need it during new and exciting projects. For example, I am nearly done with a nifty linen bag, but would have driven myself batty if I had not had help to finish it -- there were things in the instructions that I didn't understand how to do, but the women at knitting group helped me.

I think that I need to add a few more activities to make life really good -- some sort of exercise and perhaps a singing outlet of some sort. Both might require some research or perhaps just some good, old-fashioned motivation. We'll see what turns up. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Poor Neglected Blog

Here it is, October, and I haven't posted anything in almost two months! I think that I have less to say about the state of the world when I am busy and happy. And I am relatively busy and happy -- the new job is working out well, though occasionally my head spins from moving from shoestring budget non-profit land to corporate largesse. Best part about my new job might be my 9-to-5 existence (cue up your Dolly Parton here). It leaves my evenings and weekends free to, you know, have a life, which is pretty amazing. I didn't even have that at the Girl Scouts back in the day. I have joined a knitting group on Wednesday evenings and I'm actually making some friends who I don't work with! Such a revelation.

It's Columbus Day weekend this weekend, and for the first time in my working life, I do not have a day off on Monday. My next paid holiday doesn't come until Thanksgiving. I have bought my plane ticket home for Christmas, as I only get a few days off (one official day + three vacation days + a weekend = 5 days home plus one day to recover when I get back).

I hope that all is well with the rest of you! My life seems to move faster every time I check on it. Enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Important Than Usual

Here's what I gotta say about the health insurance debate. A public option is necessary. For-profit companies are already making decisions about who gets to live and die and how. My personal example does not deal with me, but with my friend Stacy. Stacy had Hodgkins, a lymphatic cancer. She was treated in conventional ways, via chemo and radiation. The time then came when her doctor decided that her best course of treatment would be a bone-marrow transplant. Her health insurance, however, denied coverage for the procedure, saying it was experimental.

You can read about her struggle with the insurance here and here. Fortunately, Stacy had the option to get married and go onto her husband's insurance, which covered the treatment. What I like best (and that's sarcasm there) is that her health insurance company told her that it was her choice to proceed with the treatment or not. As she so aptly put it, "To LIVE or DIE?"

I have no doubt that Stacy's story is not the only one like this. When I had my own cancer scare last year, one of the things I thought about was "Oh shit, I'm going to have to work at this job forever." The fact that this happens here, in America, is wrong and unacceptable.

Stacy eventually did have her bone marrow transplant, though the side effects eventually got her, too young and too soon. You can help people who have cancer in the Pittsburgh area by buying a print of Stacy's art.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Renting Textbooks

Two articles from the NYT about renting textbooks. The first concerns some startups that are conducting this business over the internet. The second is about the fact that some bookstores and textbook publishers have decided to join the rental trend.

All I have to say is "hit the bookstore early" and "used books are your friend." It's worth it to pick through the pile to find books that are un-marked up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Long Term"

On this they were in agreement
everything that can happen between two people
happens after a while

or has been thought about so hard
there's almost no difference
between desire and deed.

Each day they stayed together, therefore,
was a day of forgiveness, tacit,
no reason to say the words.

It was easy to forgive, so much harder
to be forgiven. The forgiven had to agree
to eat dust in the house of the noble

and both knew this couldn't go on for long.
The forgiven would need to rise;
the forgiver need to remember the cruelty

in being correct.
Which is why, except in crises,
they spoke about the garden,

what happened at work,
the little ailments and aches
their familiar bodies separately felt.
by Stephen Dunn, published in New and Selected Poems 1974-1994, New York: Norton, 1994.


I promise to get better again at posting on this blog. (Yeah, yeah, that's what they all say...)

I am thoroughly enjoying both my new job and new living situation. How could life be bad when the commute was cut down from an hour and fifteen minutes to just over 10? A week and a half after moving in, my bedroom is sane, though my other room, "office," is not. It will get there, with some dedicated time. I am pleased that I live closer to fun things to do, like the movies and a bookstore, plus to one of my best friends from college. She and I went to IKEA so that I could get some more bookshelves since one third of my books cannot reside at school anymore. Then we went to see the new Harry Potter movie in IMAX, very exciting & 3-D for the first 20 minutes. After that, I have no idea if it was any better, but those 20 minutes were worth the extra $4 to see the movie. Inspired, I have begun to reread the series.

Some quotes for you from What Now? by Ann Patchett:
"There are too many forces, as deep and invisible as tides, that keep us bouncing into places where we never thought we'd wind up."

"Just because things hadn't gone the way I planned didn't necessarily mean they had gone wrong. ... The secret is finding the balance between going out to get what you want and being open to the thing that actually winds up coming your way."

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Just a few notes from my first week at the new job... the drive is exhausting and I'm really glad that it will soon be reduced by 75%, from an hour and 15 minutes to about 20. (Math check?) Anywho, here's the stuff:

- the 404 page from NPR is wicked funny
- there was an article about my friend Stacy in The Washington Post today; I miss her very much. You can help her foundation by buying a print of one of her works of art.

Plus, a few shameless plugs for friends:
- My friend Katie is walking in the Breast Cancer 3-Day in October; won't you help her fight breast cancer?
- My friend Beth is running the Marine Corps Marathon in October for Team-in-Training in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Beth has been successful in her own fight against lymphoma. Help her so there are more stories like hers & my sister Tracy's (in remission from Hodgkins) and less like Stacy's & my dad's.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I am reading a book right now that is one of the best books I have read in a long long time. You should read it too: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It's amazingly well-written and inspiring. It makes me want to get a degree in public health and help people in the same way. (In the same way that reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver made/makes me want to keep chickens and raise my own food.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Old Ladies

According to the NYT (trend-seeker that it is), more older women are choosing to stay single after they are widowed.

Favorite lines: "In a strange twist of fortune — some might call it poetic justice — age can bring with it something of a reversal in gender roles. The rise of an old girls’ network, friends and family who see women through a lifetime of transitions, often contrasts sharply with the decline of the old boys’ network, the professional associations that secure young men’s places in the world but offer little support or solace in later life."


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weird Weekend, Lovely Day

These weekends during the summer have been strange. Really, the whole summer has been strange. It's weird to have time with absolutely nothing to do -- usually I spend a chunk of the summer planning or preparing for the following school year, but this summer there's none of that. I don't even know what I'm teaching at the next job! So it means that I end up with some days that I absolutely don't know what to do with myself. The packing is nearly done for the move -- I'll finish it after I come home from the family reunion in NH, so there's no big rush on it right now. Yesterday I found myself completely at loose ends with no interest in doing anything, not reading, not knitting, not watching TV, not playing around on the internet. I ended up wasting pretty much the whole day and not even in a satisfactory way.

On the other hand, today was a lovely day. I met a college friend in DC for brunch, did an errand for another college friend, and poked around the Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum. I saw an exhibit on art from the New Deal, which I enjoyed very much. It's sticky outside today, which is not so nice, but it's the first really summer-y weather that we've had so far.

Am trying this: "How to Fix Bad Ankles" & think I'd like to take a yoga class this fall when I have some time and am close to a studio.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I was just reading another teacher's lament that "kids these days" are never bored. I remember claiming boredom as a child. There's a lot more information and entertainment at my fingertips today than there was when I was growing up and for the most part, that's fine by me. I enjoy the speed at which I can look up a word in an electronic dictionary or an online encyclopedia. However, I also sort of miss getting distracted by the guide words on the way to my intended entry and learning something new.

Friday, July 10, 2009


After nearly 4 months and 35 job applications, I have been offered a new job. Thank goodness. I'm not dumb, so I took it. Nicest things about the offer? It pays more than the previous job and I don't actually have to move all that far -- I get to stay in Maryland. I'll be doing Social Studies instruction for an online high school run by a for-profit company. Very different from what I've been up to for the past 5 years, but could be interesting. Most of all, it's a job, with benefits and a salary and I can afford to live and pay my car payment and my student loans. It's still in my field and if I hate it, I don't have to stay forever.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I like to ride rollercoasters!

And clearly, this job search is another example of a rollercoaster, for sure. I didn't get the job in the midwest. I am applying for several more though, never fear. The new applications bring the total number of jobs applied for up to... 35. Yes, 35 jobs.

I have my last interview tomorrow with a for-profit "virtual education" company. I'm not totally convinced that I want the job, but then I think, hey, health insurance. And hey, it doesn't have to be forever. And the fact that there's no planning (canned curriculum) means that I'll be considerably free-er on evenings and weekends than I have been at prior teaching jobs. Of course, I'm also going to spend my days in a cubicle (or office)... Could be interesting.

I had to make a jaunt to the office supply store tonight to buy a new ink cartridge for my printer. I bought it, but have a few observations to make about the process:
- a new color & black cartridge together from the printer brand cost about $58
- a new color & black cartridge together from the office supply store brand cost $50
- a discontinued model of printer, new, cost $58

- Why does recycled paper cost more than non? Aren't old trees cheaper than new trees?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Few Notes

From today's NYT:

- An opinion piece by Sarah Vowell, one of my favorite authors, bemoaning the decision of Rhode Island to put to a ballot the suggestion to change the name of the state
- A travel piece about Mary Oliver & Cape Cod. I have been enamored of Mary Oliver ever since taking one of my many courses with Jane Crosthwaite, my favorite professor ever.

I should be packing, but I'm not. Fiddle-dee-dee, I'll think about that tomorrow.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Getting Closer

With each passing moment, I am getting closer to my move. I have not heard from the job in the midwest, though I thought I would have heard by now. This makes me nervous on some level and I'm having a bit of trouble sitting still this weekend and concentrating on the packing. I'm doing a good job sorting my stuff as I pack, which I'm glad about. There are many many bags of trash ready to be picked up by the trash collection on Monday. Regardless of whether I get the job, I'll be well packed/sorted.

I also should do some thinking about a job interview that I have to do online (?!?) on Monday, especially if I don't get this job in the midwest. I know that I need to do the interview even if I don't actually want the job. Can I actually afford to turn down a job that I'm not sure I'll like?

Anyway, I'll be moving soon regardless. Oy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Places

I got the chance to travel for a job interview to a state that I haven't ever been before. I don't want to say too much else about it yet, but I have hopes that things went well enough... I'll hear an answer either way in a week. With a little luck and perhaps some good references, the job could be mine!

Re: the latest political scandal in the US, there's an interesting article in Slate comparing the disappearance of the SC governor to the disappearance of Aimee Semple McPherson... very interesting. I know ASM from my class on women in American religious history at MHC. Awesome class, favorite professor, interesting subject. Actually, I'm in the middle (still) of a book about ASM -- it's good, just very academic.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Good Friends are... Good

To put it mildly, who doesn't need a group of great friends? Most of my great friends these days are drawn from the Mount Holyoke circle, whether we were actually great friends at school or are great friends since graduation. We are pulled into each others' lives in a way I would have thought impossible outside the dorms if it were not for Facebook: if they are compulsive or even occasional status updaters, I know much about the day-to-day rhythms of their lives. This one is a stay-at-home mom & small business owner, that one is a college professor & recipe fiend, another is a chiropractic student & gardener. They have formed such a support system, being involved from afar in the nitty-gritty of my day-to-day, cheering me on when I need it and reminding me that things work out ok most of the time. I hope that I can repay them when they need me.

One particular friend, who lives much closer and whom I see much more often than the rest of the crew, took me to an Indigo Girls concert last week. She wrote about it much more eloquantly than I could, so let me just link you there. Know that she hit the nail on the head about getting lost in the music and what that meant. Also about falling in love with Matt Nathanson.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Flipping Channels, Being Picky

Flipping channels this fine Saturday afternoon, I stumbled across a commercial for the movie "Elizabeth," which is, of course, about the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. At the end of the commercial, there was a clip of the movie that included music from Mozart's "Requiem."

This bothers me, for the following historical reason: Queen Elizabeth died in 1603. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not born until 153 years later, in 1756 and did not compose the "Requiem" until 1791, nearly 200 years after the death of Elizabeth. Inaccurate.

School's out and there is still a little bit left to do -- a few grades to enter and my key to return... Spent the day doing nothing in particular though, which was nice.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Last Day With Kids

And oh, did I cry. I managed to hold off until the end of the day, when the kids were saying goodbye. One of my favorites was doing our special handshake and then he hugged me and then I started to cry. Then I cried some more when a woman I work with was all, "So, glad to be leaving?" Um, no, I'm not. I didn't want to leave. I don't want to leave these kids. I'm going to miss them, a lot.

I'm sort of exhausted and sick of crying. Have to go back tomorrow to finish grading exams, enter all of the data into the computer system. My classroom is all picked up, fortunately, just have to move boxes to my car. Perhaps tomorrow it will be less humid and I will be more likely to do so. Regardless, they will have to be moved tomorrow.

If no new job by the middle of July, I shall be moving to NH. There's a plan.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh, Neglected Blog

I am counting down the days until the end of the school year. My final exams will be given tomorrow morning, which is not exciting per se, but it gets me closer to the end. My classroom needs some serious cleaning yet and there are still at least a few boxes worth of things to come home. There are many interesting things out there on the internets these days, but I am not clever enough to remember them at the moment. I can't wait until I get my brain back.

A few morsels:
- What do to about bullies
- Changing math curriculum from textbook-based to internet-based
- Whether paying teachers more gets better results
- A cheating scandal cancels graduation somewhere in Ohio
- Blogs abandoned left and right!
- Vietnam draft resisters still living in Canada

- Lard is ok!

No job yet. What gives, universe? I need new signs, bold ones!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday, Monday

June 1st. No job yet. I'm trying to remain hopeful, applying to anything and everything that seems relevant. I'm also making contingency plans to move home to NH (can't beat free rent), substitute teach, and do something else too -- tutoring, babysitting, SAT prep, etc. Whatever it takes to pay the bills. (Ok, not quite "whatever," but close. Legal things. I do have some standards.)

In the meantime, I'm packing my life back into boxes, starting with books from school. I'll get to pack my fancy/work clothes into boxes after next Thursday/Friday, which will be nice.

On another note, there's an article in the NYT which outlines "The Waves Minority Judges Always Make." Good stuff.

Friday, May 15, 2009

200th Post

Yes, I have reached the milestone of my 200th post. As such, I am going to use it for something important... like putting down some links to things I find interesting. Today's "news":

- from the NYT, an opinion alleging that it's time to end the use of Latin on diplomas; opinions, dear brother? Is mine the only diploma of our siblings that is in Latin? Gotta love "Collegi Montis Holyokensis."
- also from the NYT, another opinion, this one citing the need to improve the Census Bureau
- an article from Slate, explaining why Republicans are sore losers

I would also just like to say that I am already sick of the handwringing over who might be the next nominee to the Supreme Court. Yes, it's exciting, yes, I hope a woman is nominated, but no, I don't really care for all the speculation.

Countdown to the end of school: 17 days with kids (including finals, so actually more like 13), 19 days for me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009



Why I need to get back to public education.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Job searching continues. 5 new applications today. Oy.

The current job is, paradoxically, going well. I feel like I'm doing some of my best teaching now that the pressure's off. The AP kids took their tests last Friday and seem to think that they went well, which is nice nice nice. The other section of 11th grade is going well too, finally getting to teach some of my favorite stuff, mid-to-late 20th century. And the 9th grade is winding down in the proper way, with a nice simulation project.

On the other hand, it might be a good thing I'm already leaving, since otherwise I'd be second-guessing my choice to teach about human rights. Connected to that, the kids are completely obsessed with illegal immigrants, as in whether or not a person who is an illegal immigrant is entitled to the same human rights as the rest of us. They seem to be very paranoid about the number of illegal immigrants who might be in the U.S., what services they might be consuming, what jobs they might be doing, how this might impact "their" taxes.

They are also highly suspicious of those receiving welfare, "terrorists," and basically anyone who is not a lot like them. It makes me want to teach only about that, or to take the kids on a little field trip up to the poorer sections of our nation's capital for some community service &/or observations. It's right up the street.

Seriously, do they think that people want to just be on welfare? In the climate where those who need to be on welfare are "lazy" or "drug users"?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Thoughts

From the NYT, an article on a man who teaches at a high school and opposes military recruitment at high schools because of his experiences in Vietnam. Something to think about.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Split Infinitive Alert!

All of this talk of the new Star Trek movie has me remembering one of Jane Crosthwaite's grammar directives -- re: the dangers of the split infinitive and the sexist language in the introduction to the original Star Trek series.

"To boldly go where no man has gone before..."

No! Bad grammar, bad!

Ya Know...

I used to describe my Volvo (RIP) as the box on wheels, but this is a whole 'nother level: Nissan Cube.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another Reason

to like Maine: marriage equality. Add it to the list with Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Yippee and yahoo!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Unpredictability of Parents

My mom continues to be unpredictable. I told her that I applied for a job in Houston, Texas. Her response: "Houston?!? They have tornadoes and hurricanes!"

Then, a week or so later, I told her that I have applied for a job in Marrakech, Morocco. Her response: "Morocco is interesting."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Still Here, Still Waiting

A friend posted on her blog last year that she kept waiting to have something interesting to write about on her blog but that nothing seemed to be coming. This is how I feel these days.

Currently reading:
* The Nine (which I started before the announcement of David Souter's resignation from the Supreme Court)
* In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah (Morocco, anyone?)

Good stuff. I should be working on schoolwork, but I wish to be idle instead.

Friday, May 1, 2009

This and That

From the NYT, something I find sad: a kid who got admitted to college but who cannot figure out a way to pay for it.

David Souter is retiring from the Supreme Court at the end of the term. A New Hampshire man. Two views of the subject, from Slate. (One) (Two)

Also, what do you know about Morocco?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blessings in Disguise

I like to think that stuff in life works out the way it's "supposed" to. My version of being zen about things, I guess. Sometimes it's hard to see, but it'll be ok, or at least I hope so. The upside of quitting my job? I get to be open to new possibilities: moving someplace new, making new friends, trying something else out.

Current locations on the table: Seattle, Houston, various locales in New England. All jobs applied for involve something new in some fashion: new subject to teach, new "population," totally new job.

The permutations seem to be endless, which is both scary as all get out and liberating at the same time. One day at a time. Breathe in and out. And in the meantime, enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


As many of you regular readers know, one of my dear friends from childhood passed away last year from cancer. Stacy was a talented artist. Her family has decided to make prints of her work available to support a facility which provides free or low-cost accommodations to patients and families of those undergoing treatment at Western Pennsylvania Hospital.

The website of the charity is up and you, too, can purchase prints. Stacy's Helping Hands

Want more information?
You can read the blog that Stacy kept about her treatment here.
You can read about what Stacy meant to me and the condolence note that I sent to her mom.

Then, you can go buy a print.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Continuing with a Theme...

of wondering about the little things in life: who decided that all cough syrup should be artificial cherry flavor? I hate hate hate artificial cherry flavor.

Also, I need more spring break. The college tour wore me out. Still. Some more. Wonder what would happen if I took religious ideals to their fullest and called out for resurrection? If I was crucified tomorrow, then I would be able to be back to school on Thursday, no problem, and would nearly be able to finish the school year before the Ascension (assuming I was held to the same 40-day time period). I'd at least get the kids done with their AP exam.

(Horribly sacrilegious, I know, I know.)

I saw Girlyman on Saturday night at the Barns at Wolf Trap. They were wonderful, per usual. Opening for them was Adrianne, also wonderful. (Bought her CD "Burn Me Up," which I am already singing along to...) My 9th Girlyman concert, 4th in Virginia, 2nd at the Barns.

(Where else have I seen them? Funny you should ask, since I was just thinking about that the other day: Marblehead, MA; Brattleboro, VT; Lancaster, MA; Newmarket, NH; Cambridge, MA; 2x at Jamin' Java in Vienna, VA; + 2x at the Barns.)

And that, my friends, is the end of the random for today.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Next Step

So, mom has come through her surgery ok. Next step: pathology.

Conundrum: I only occasionally drink orange juice, but when I do, I buy it in one of those containers that is mostly cardboard, but which also has a plastic spout doohickey. My county asks us to separate our paper recycling from our glass/plastic recycling. So, when the container is done, do I put it in the paper/cardboard or the glass/plastic?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Good Grief

Charlie Brown. I can't even come up with anything good to say, other than this: unfortunately, spring break is over and we're headed back to school in the morning. This is yucky because I am sick, with a nasty cold that I came down with on the college trip. (College trip: 27 kids, 12 colleges, 4 days, 3 chaperones, 2 states, 1 school bus. Yikes.) Oh, and my cat died last Monday. And my mom is having surgery on Thursday.

On the plus side, I'm going to see my fav band Girlyman on Saturday and one of my best friends from college is taking me to see Indigo Girls in June.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trying New Things

I want to try this: Couch-to-5K.

I need new sneakers. There is an associated podcast to help with the timing so you don't have to pay as much attention.

Also, work totally still blows, but hey, at least I've been observed three times in the past week, for a total of... one hour, 15 minutes.

Note to self for next week: try a chalk talk with the kids, 'cause it's something different and, apparently, innovative.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Big Absence

After some of the longest weeks of my life, things are totally up in the air in most areas of my professional life.

But, a vignette to ease back into posting: grocery shopping today after school, roaming the aisles, bopping along to "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears, alternately thinking "Man this is catchy!" and "Man, she's a train wreck!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What a Week

I think I'm finally caught up on my grading, at least the exceedingly old stuff. There's very little left to do on the whole. Thank goodness. (And seriously, I am so sick of grading things.)

It's been just over a year since my friend Stacy died and I still miss her.

On other fronts, school has been total crap. Long story, not appropriate for blogging. Let's just say that February totally and consistently blows and I don't know why I expect something different every year. And I don't really want to talk about it any more right now either.

Information Roundup:
- why Americans love peanut butter
- how Catholic indulgences work
- Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has been nominated for HHS Secretary
- apparently, student expectations cause grade disputes
- school librarian job update: web information guru

Also? Teaching about the 1920s today in AP history class was maybe one of my most favorite days all year. I think I should always teach with minimal notes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shameless Promotion of Friends

One of my college friends is quite the businesswoman. I am linking to her to share her stuff, but also, shamelessly, to perhaps win a pair of her earrings.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Unexpected Gift

Today I drove up to Gaithersburg, MD to interview a prospective student for the Frances Perkins program at MHC. The Frances Perkins program is for students of non-traditional age, women who have had their education interrupted for whatever reason and are ready to return.

As an alumna, I was doing her a favor by interviewing her. But she gave me a gift in return, one quite unexpected on my part and unintended on hers, I'm sure. The gift was being allowed to hear her story. How amazing, how inspiring. I'll write more if I hear that she's been accepted.

Truly a gift.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Stuff for the day:
Schools --
- on bringing up "average students"
- on magnet schools and standardized tests

Other --
- Amish auction items
- Postcards as art
- excellent things the feds did with our money during the New Deal


School can be... awkward sometimes.

Exhibit A: students' comments. Students like to provide running commentary about teachers that they like. My students like to know about my personal life, interfere at times, spread rumors, etc.

Me: Hey, SeniorBoy, how are you doing today? Feeling any better?
Senior Boy: Yes, Ms. K, I am. Thanks for asking.
[Senior Boy gives me the once over.]
SB: You look really nice today, Ms. K. You should wear skirts more often.
SB: And I mean that in a totally student-teacher appropriate, non-awkward kind of way.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Busy and the Lazy

And both are me. Roundup for the day:

from the NYT:
- Legos and New York
- breaking up big high schools in NYC
- continued concern about equal access to AP exams

from Slate:
- snow incapacitates London
- long-distance relationships are bad for the planet, bummer.
- Michael Phelps: can he get high faster than the rest of us?
- Burma continues to have issues
- Not Polk, please, not Polk
- Vultures (and ticks and jellyfish, oh my!)
- Donating a kidney? You can have less invasive surgery

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy for the Day

So, if nothing else, here's something:

One of my students, who applied early, GOT IN TO MOUNT HOLYOKE!

Clearly, I'm thrilled. And proud. And stuff.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Home Again

Another trip, home again. Chaperoning is exhausting sometimes.

From the NYT, two interesting articles:
- on "womyn's lands" and their aging residents
- a series of illustrations on the inauguration

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Posting Gap

It's been more than a week since I posted, whoa. It's been a whirlwind of a week, with the going to MHC for the choral reunion and all. I had a wonderful time, truly loved being in rehearsal that much. Though at this point, my voice is rather tired, not to mention my body. But it was all so worth it.

We had a half day off for snow today, which is excellent, though I certainly believe that it should have been a whole day. Or none at all off, given that the snow stopped right around the time the kids got out of school. Eh. At any rate, there might be freezing rain tonight, so we might get another day off tomorrow... though I would appreciate that since I could use a little sleep.

But enough with the minutiae of my life, on to a news roundup:
- Turns out that fewer teenagers are having sex after all
- President Obama has repealed the global gag rule
- College endowments are down since the economy is in the toilet (shocker, I know)
- Brandeis is planning to sell some of its art to raise cash

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stuff & Things

First, a political cheer: era of Bush is over! Didn't vote for him the first or second time. Have defended him to students. Truly believe that he's not as dumb as he looks. But thank goodness that the two terms are over. Now an entirely different set of people can be frustrated with the chief executive and in four years, we'll go to the polls and do it all over again. But on this day, and for the next few, I'm just going to be happy and hopeful and calm and assume that many things are right with the world. At the end of it all, I like America. Your guy doesn't always win, but the system works well most of the time.

In that same vein, here's a post of astonishment for the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He did the unpopular, fought the system, continued to believe in the essential goodness of people even though, quite frankly, there was little reason to. An amazing person, an example to us all, without whom tomorrow would not have been possible.

From the NYT, here's a story on teachers using the inauguration in classroooms. Also, one on bad meetings and lots of them.

From NPR, a story concerning bells, Trinity Church, and the inauguration. In addition, a story concerning letters written to Obama from young Navajo students. (Made me bawl, but worth it.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How Complicated Can It Be?

Who knew that figuring out car insurance was almost as complicated as online dating?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Here We Go Again

So, here's my latest roundup of stuff I think is interesting:

From the NYT:
- fiction reading by adults is up!
- charter schools that emphasize culture over the American "melting pot"
- the death of the lecture at certain colleges
- emphasis on manners for children
- letters in response to the editorial which suggested cutting taxes for teachers

From Slate:
- What are the rules for giving someone the finger on TV?
- At the intersection of math and politics, an article discussing how congressional districts are formed

And, for fun: it's Fish! (not actually, but representationally...)

Sunday, January 11, 2009


A friend who writes a cooking-related blog put out a call for casseroles that do not contain a can of condensed cream-of-whatever soup. I said that I had lots of them, but that I needed to consult my cookbook. So, here are the recipes... they come from The Big Book of Casseroles by Maryana Vollstedt, published by Chronicle Books (2000).

Chicken, Black Bean, & Tortilla Casserole
Ingredients: vegetable oil, 1 large yellow onion, 1/2 green bell pepper (seeded & chopped), 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1 can tomatoes (including juices), 1/2 c. salsa, 1 t. cumin, 1/2 t. dried oregano, 3/4 t. salt, pepper to taste, 2 cans black beans (rinsed & drained), 3 c. cubed chicken cooked, 8 corn tortillas, 4 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese

Saute onion, pepper, garlic about 5 min. Add tomatoes, salsa, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, and mix well, stir in beans and chicken.

Preheat oven to 350. In a 4 quart casserole dish lightly coated with cooking spray or oil, spread one third of the chicken & bean mixture over the bottom. Top with 4 tortillas and sprinkle with 1 c. cheese. Add another third of the bean and chicken mixture, 4 more tortillas, and 1 c. cheese. Finish with remaining bean and chicken mixture. Cover and bake for 40 min. Remove lid, add remaining cheese, and bake until bubbly, about 10 min. more. Let stand 5-10 min before serving.

Chicken Enchilada Bake with Salsa Cream Sauce
Ingredients: 3 T. butter, 3 T. flour, 1 1/2 c. chicken stock (low sodium), 1/4 t. salt, pepper to taste, 1 c. light sour cream, 1/2 c. salsa, 10 corn torillas (cut into 3/4 inch wide strips), 2 1/2 c. cubed cooked chicken, 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained), 6 green onions sliced, 2 1/2 c. grated Monteray Jack cheese

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and blend. Whisk in stock, salt, and pepper and stir until mixture boils and is thickened, about 2 min. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and salsa and mix well.

Preheat oven to 375. Cover the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with one third of the sauce. Scatter half of the tortilla strips on top. Next scatter the chicken, beans, green onions, and half the cheese. Pour one third of the sauce over all. Top with remaining tortilla strips, sauce, and cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 min. Remove cover and bake until bubbly, about 15 min longer. Let stand 10 min before serving.

Tailgate Casserole
Ingredients: 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef or turkey, 1 t. vegetable oil (optional), 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, 1/2 c. sour cream, 3 oz. cream cheese at room temperature, 1 c. lowfat cottage cheese, 6 green onions (sliced), 8-10 oz. egg noodles (cooked & drained), 2 c. grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Brown beef or turkey in a large skillet. Add tomato sauce, salt, and pepper and simmer 5 min. With an electric mixer, beat together sour cream, cream cheese, and cottage cheese in a medium bowl. Fold in green onions and mix well.

In a 9x13 baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray or oil, add half of the noodles, half of the cheese mixture, and half of the meat mixture in layers. Repeat the layers, ending with the meat mixture. Top with cheddar cheese. Cover and bake 30 min. Uncover and bake until bubbly, about 15 min longer. Let stand 5-10 min before serving.

[End] Pity Party

So, that's over for the year. I went through the annual letter reading and all is well with the world again. (You know, except for the obvious.) Laundry? In the dryer. Bread? Rising. Schoolwork? Getting there. Music? I win at Schubert and the Porpora is coming along slowly. Counting down to the latest visit to the motherland? You bet.

Mom's birthday was on Wednesday and mom's anniversary was on Saturday. Happy happy to them.

In other news, here's the latest stuff that's been keeping me busy on the internet:
- an interesting series from Slate documenting a woman who is visiting the Holocaust archives of the International Tracing Service in Germany
- from the NYT, a staging of Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" (I love Sondheim ever since my class on him during first year J-term
- a suggestion from an editorialist in the NYT who thinks it would be a good idea to eliminate all federal income taxes on public school teachers (hey, those of us in the private schools would appreciate it too)

Also, I've been watching the news from Gaza. You should too.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Today would have been my dad's 64th birthday. Some days, it's hard to believe that he's been gone for 17 years.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

End of the Break

Oh my, here we are. It's the end of break and time for school to begin again. I'm a little reluctant to begin the deluge again, big surprise. AP class is on track and they finished Reconstruction before Christmas.

There was one second added to the space between the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. Here's an article from "Slate" on people who are official timekeepers.

Also from "Slate," an article for budding politicians on how to avoid Facebook-based embarrassment in later years.

And, my friend Katie has decided to walk in a 3-day to raise money for breast cancer research. If you can, can you help her out?

I know I've read some other interesting stuff over the past few days, but I forget what it was...