Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Iz So Tired

When you find yourself just staring off in space, and there is this low grade buzz in your head that has been there for a while but you just noticed it--it's time to hit the sack. When your thoughts keep circling like buzzards around a dead carcass, and you can't remember what you were trying to remember or why you needed to remember anything--it's time to call it quits. When someone says something to you and you hear the words but you can't put the meaning together because you're trying to just process the sounds of the words and meaning is beyond your brain's functioning level at the moment, it's time to stop trying to think and start trying to doze off. Some days are like that. You are too tired to know you are tired, and if you're lucky, some kind person will take you by the hand and lead you to your place of repose, tuck you in, and turn out the lights.

Good night.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tired of Cooking

I am always so very glad
When I don't have to make salad.

I love guys as kitchen rookies
When they make those home-baked cookies.

Anytime give me a nice break
and grill a juicy sirloin steak.

Also whenever you're able
Fix me a fresh vegetable.

Think not that I don't like to cook.
Some days I'd rather read my book.

It's just you don't know how it feels
When you have made ten thousand meals.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pop Can Fizz

Do you know what's in that pop can fizz?
A pile of burps, that what it izz.
You drink it down and all the while
It gathers up into a great big pile.
And if you don't just let it out
It might come rolling out yer snout.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sop Story

I once asked a sponge to shop for us,
But he complained to me more and moreous.
It's not that I won't work.
From that I won't shirk.
It's just that I'm too plain porous.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

That Panicky Feeling

Sometimes you just know you're in trouble. You've over-committed. Your energy is over-extended. You're staying up way too late just to keep up with the details. You look down the long road ahead and realize how long it will be before the stress lets up, and that panicky feeling hits.

I know what that is right now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where Was I?

... when the Cuban missile crisis was underway? At home. I remember going by my mother's bedroom. She was by the radio listening and praying. It was one of the few times I ever saw her scared or praying.

... when J.F.K. was assassinated? For some reason we didn't have school that day. I was at home helping to make Christmas ornaments, or some similar craft project.

... when the Beatles came to the United States? I was at home watching them on television and laughing at their long hair. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

... when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon? In a motel room. We were on vacation. It was particularly annoying that the Swedish exchange student with us kept ranting about how this was no big deal.

... when Apollo 13 was in trouble? I have no recollection whatsoever of this crisis.

... when the Kent State massacre happened? Still living at home with my folks. My sister, who was a senior in high school, had applied to go to school there. That was the end of that.

... when Nixon resigned. Who knows? It was such a relief though.

... when Mt. St. Helens erupted? I don't know exactly, but a work colleague who was in Seattle at the time told me about the mess it made everywhere....

... when an assassination attempt was made on John Paul II? I was at work at a Christian publishing company. We stopped everything to pray.

... when the Challenger blew up? Home with small children. My in-laws were in Florida at the time, and saw it happen.

... when the big Earthquake hit the San Francisco/Oakland area? Delivering a baby. Robert to be exact. He probably came out just as the quake was happening.

... during the first Gulf War? We had just moved into our present home. I made supper while watching the war every night on television. It reminded me of the Cuban missile crisis.

... on September 11, 2001? I was at home homeschooling the kids. Jack called from work and told me about it. That was the last of homeschooling for several days. People were numb from shock. The sky was eerily silent with no planes flying, except military ones.

... when the Columbia space shuttle disaster happened? Just getting ready to go on a day trip with Laura, and Jeannie and Ann Whiting. We talked about it and listened to the radio for a good chunk of the day.

Where were you when events happened that were big enough to make an imprint on your memory? What were they?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Frogs Don't Make Good Princes

Frogs are amphibians, and therefore cold-blooded. Kissing a prince should be a warm, mushy experience. I expect the frog's room-temperature body would be as corpse-like in feel as anything I can imagine. Who wants to buss a stiff?

They are also small and green with spots and bumps, and slimy. Not exactly the qualifications one would look for on a prince resume. Physiological oddities may have their attractions, but I would not call them charming.

One expects a prince to have numerous talents. After all, they spend their upbringing practicing sword fighting, jousting, playing instruments, and dancing. I can't imagine a more unbard-like song than the humble ribbit which the frog throat emits. Croaking is just not romantic.

Besides all that, they have rather fat bodies with ridiculously long hind legs and enormous webbed toes. As a dancing partner, they would not be easy to work with. Out of charity, one must make allowances, but there are some adjustments that are just beyond virtuous extravagance. Frogs' legs may have their delights--on the appetizer tray rather than the dance floor.

Finally, their wide-mouthed grin and long-tongued attraction to flies and other winged insects is a real put-off. Even if you could find it in your heart to feel friendly to a green guy, it is so disconcerting to be in the middle of an intimate conversation, only to be interrupted by a "thwip", as that impossible lasso zips out of his toothless mouth, followed by a decisive snap as his jaws clamp down on the hapless arthropod. Invariably the wings will stick out on each side, until that enormous "glug", when he manages to slide the disgusting snack down his throbbing yellow throat. He then reverts back to the wide-mouth grin without anything close to an apology. He can't help it! And there are so many insects out on full-mooned nights which invite the kind of intimacy to which I was alluding.

There are just too many allowances to be made for frogs to qualify them as bona fide royalty. Princedom can only bend so far.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


As I thought about getting charcoal started for dinner tonight, which I must do as soon as I'm done here, the meaning of the expression "to be grilled" came to mind. I'm talking about: "I was grilled by my parents about why I came in late." OK. So we're talking about being laid out on a rack to cook over red hot live coals. St. Lawrence would appreciate this. I'm just stumbling over comparing being questioned to the vision of human meat done to a turn. We use it so casually, but it is rather an extreme expression. Our language is full of grisly comparisons. We butcher the English language. We slaughter our rivals on the athletic field. In fact we annihilate them. It is so much more dramatic than just saying we played exceedingly well today, so much so that we hardly noticed anyone else was out on the field opposing us. Blah.

Now that I have that off my chest, I need to get ready to take portions of the dead carcass of some poor beast and lay them out over red hot coals. We will annihilate what remains of said flesh after I'm done grilling it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Truth About Truth

It isn't relative. It either is or isn't so. Pity people who don't get that. They are adrift in a lonely sea aboard a boat made of lead. They defy the meaning of truth when they individualize it. They have no anchor to hold on to. They are at the mercy of storms and raging waves, because they have no safe harbor. They may curse the waves and resist the wind, but with nothing solid beneath them, it is futile.

Truth is someone, not something abstract.

He is my biggest comfort.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Mad Scientist

No, this blog does not really start with an oxymoron--a scientist can be gleefully nuts. Anyway, I got to be one today, or at least pretend that I was one. My physical science class was learning about the atmosphere, and all the gases of which it is composed. So we made hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. That's cool enough as it is, but we didn't stop there. We actually put a match to the very flammable hydrogen, stuck some burning materials into the pure, fire-feeding oxygen, and then settled down with putting a fire out with carbon dioxide.

I never cease to be thrilled with the awe and excitement on my students' faces. They want to repeat the experiments, do them with the lights out, and write down the ingredients so they can show their parents the neat effects. There is nothing more satisfying to a teacher than opening eyes and minds to our amazing world. I love finding experiments that will thrill, inspire, and create that glazed mad look in a budding scientist!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lisa Pizza Pie

When I was a kid we called the current favorite food "pizza pie". Somewhere in the seventies "pie" was dropped. But I still often think of it as pizza pie, because of a memory from all the way back when I was in first grade.

My elementary school was only a couple of blocks from where I lived. It was only a couple of blocks from where every kid in the school lived. Consequently all kids were sent home at lunch time! And moms were all there with a nice hot lunch ready for us! And then we all walked back to school after lunch. Seems pretty amazing these days. I don't recall a single crossing guard either.

Anyway, all this is to say that when I walked home there was a certain boy who used to follow me and taunt me the whole way. "Lisa pizza pie!" he would jeer. He was bigger than me, but somehow I didn't feel threatened. In fact, I didn't seem to mind it at all. It was just this kid who thought my name and this novel Italian food went together.

What's funny is that I'm not sure I knew what pizza pie was. I can't tell you this boy's name either. I don't remember what he looked like. I don't know if he was in my grade. He must have lived in the neighborhood, but now he only lives in my memory, still calling out, "Lisa pizza pie" while I plod home for a steaming bowl of Campbell's chicken noodle soup or a peanut butter and jelly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Head 'em Up and Move 'em Out

Rawhide is such a western classic. It was all about those good old days when Rowdy was cute, foolish and naive, and Gill was boss unquestioned. Tough weathered guys in huge hats dealt with every day crises like stupid stampeding longhorns, runaway stage coaches that always had a beautiful lady and a scoundrel on board, and saloon drunks swaggering and boasting their way to an early grave. They were hard men making life-and-death decisions with placid fortitude. Their aim was always deadly and their regrets few. They were too proud to show their irritation at greenhorns, too gentlemanly to take advantage of a distressed female, too stoic to shed a tear in tragedy. Life was one long ride through desolate terrain, and the only way to survive was to head 'em up and move 'em out.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Baby Just Drove Off

Patrick got his driver's license today. Not two minutes ago he just drove off with my car on his first solo trip. He is going to school. He should be back by dinner time. I should be off my knees well before then, praying that he makes it there and back.

OK. So I don't go down on my knees, but I do pray, and I do worry. And children do grow up and drive off. He laughed when I did my standard "Oh, my baby," act, to show that he was growing up faster than I liked, and he looked supremely happy as he left me in the dust, staggered at time's swift passing. The story is so old. It is also so real, so painful, so sweet, and so relentless. I feel bowed down by its oppressive force.

Someday I'm going to drive off is a gleaming white chariot, chauffeured by my guardian angel. I'll be supremely happy, I won't be looking back, and my baby will wave as I drive off. It'll be good. He'll think that he still has all the time in the world, but his bright red wheels will be just pulling up to the curb. Life is that swift.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coming Up For Air

The school year is upon us. I've taught my first day of classes. The kids were great, the energy was there. When it was over, I was so tired and had no voice left. This is going to be one grueling year, folks. I may not have time to post as much. (Some of you are sighing in relief about that!)

It feels good to have over 100 students when your goal was 80. It feels good to have a whole new class to offer, even though it is still only 60% planned. It feels good to have an income again.

The downside is that it is going to take every ounce of energy I have to stay on track. I'm going to have to trouble shoot more than I like. None of my other duties are lessened--cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, finances, and hey, maybe some house-cleaning now and then!

If I seem harried, I am. If I seem distracted, I am. If I seem under pressure, remind me to come up for air.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Loss of Humor

I just read that Yale is declining to publish offending Muslim cartoons in a book that is precisely about those very images. The reason cited was that it was sure to result in a loss of life. That is definitely a valid reason--but it means for the rest of us that freedom of the press is diminished because of a perceived threat. It seems that freedom of speech is also on the defensive in numerous ways.

All this is to say that the Yale article brought to mind a little mocking antic we did as kids, not realizing that it had Muslim origins, nor to be truthful, that we were mocking anyone. Suffice it to say that it involved bowing and repeating the names of a couple of kinds of lunch meat. Although we had a lot of good foolish and childish fun, that antic is also lost forever. It would be considered offensive, even though as we performed it, we had no idea what the name of the religion was it offended, or even what the offense was. We only knew that all those funny Arabic characters in cartoons did it and we wanted to imitate Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd--none of whom seemed to be particularly attuned to ethnic, sexual or racial sensibilities. My latest quote posted on facebook will probably offend the elderly, even though a 90+ year-old man said it.

We laugh at things for a variety of reasons. Sometimes because it exposes our inconsistencies. Sometimes because it compares the incomparable. But sometimes we laugh so that life doesn't scare us. Let us not lose the ability to laugh. When humor goes, all that will be left is heaviness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


My daughter is a lover of tea--and can probably take credit for the term "teaness". She seems to be the only one that uses it, but I have never heard it defined--a definite liability if it is going to catch on. So I am going to provide my own reflections on teaness.

teaness: 1. a condition or circumstances conducive to drinking tea, preferably chai. For example: The pressures of teaness became so intense, that Laura put the teapot on to boil. 2. behaviors associated with tea drinking. For example: Her elegant teaness was the main attraction of her salon. 3. the ambiance of restful, quiet repose associated with drinking tea. For example: Blissful teaness descended upon the room as the fragrant fumes of steeping chai pervaded the stale, tired atmosphere.

I appreciate the teaness of a quiet afternoon. The wafting perfume of flowery herbals particularly appeals to my need for solitude and reflection. Teaness, peace, and profound thoughts make wonderful fellowship. But when I want to get something done, I drink coffee.

Monday, September 7, 2009


As some of you may have noticed, I have been putting up quotes on my facebook page. It's been fun deciding who to quote and finding something clever, terse, or profound. It has also gotten me into a little trouble for not thinking long enough before choosing. I have spent more time this week than I planned on smoothing down ruffled feathers. So here's another quote:

"I never put my foot in my mouth. I just shove the whole leg in." --rambling lal

The irony in this case, is that it was somebody else's words (leg) that I was having to shove in my mouth. Lesson learned: if you quote someone, the assumption is that you agree entirely with every word that was quoted. If you just toss something out there because it is interesting and worthy of debate, you're going to find yourself wishing you hadn't.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Be Nice!

I remember very clearly my brother saying, "be nice!" to his toddler son years ago. He was playing with my toddler sons, and I haven't a clue what triggered the exhortation. I think about being nice a lot. The trick is figuring out when to be nice, and when you really should not be nice.

Do you question that there are those times?

As a parent, there are many times when you need to be kind, but firm. There is a kindness to nice for sure, but nice also implies pleasantness and friendliness. A screaming, kicking toddler isn't pleasant or friendly, and the firmness required will not be perceived as pleasant nor friendly to the little darling.

The adult world also has many situations which make being nice untenable. Outrage, indignation, and forceful objections to injustice are often appropriate, and almost never nice. Abuses of power, deceptions, and foul play cannot be addressed nicely.

Nastiness and sarcasm don't usually help when you encounter unniceness. But speaking rationally, politely, and to the point, which is usually helpful, does not always make it pleasant enough to be called nice.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dreams Are so Weird

Normally I don't like hearing about other people's dreams. I try to avoid telling about my own. But sometimes they are so bizarre, you find yourself incredulous. What was my brain up to anyway?

This morning I woke up with the following dream clearly imprinted in my memory. I have become a princess. They are fitting me for a crown. The crown is really just very heavily starched lace in a ring. I am a little ashamed because I haven't polished my toe nails recently. They are jagged and get caught on the hem of my long gown. Suddenly I am in a bedroom interviewing Brigitte Bardot, only it's really my sister-in-law, Kris. She is gorgeous. We decide to have cocktails. There seems to be a bar in the bedroom and the bartender makes our drinks. I am given a three foot long straw to drink mine with. But as soon as I try, it turns into a limp three foot long chain of safety pins. At this point I wake up.

You have to ask what the hell that was all about! The only part I understand are the toe nails. I don't do them enough. They need doing now. Where is Sigmund when you need him? Of course, I think Freud was a little weird, too.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Needing to Get in the Last Word

Why is it so important to be the one who says the last word? Is it because each statement wipes out the one before it? Or trumps it? Is the last word the tie-breaking victory goal? Each of these ideas backs up the conviction that there needs to be a winner in a discussion. It is so hard to lay that idea to rest.

Sometimes the last word is an attempt to get the other person to see that they are just plain wrong. It is not so much victory that is at stake, but truth. However, if you have already spoken the truth and it is contradicted, there is very little hope that a few more words will be just what is needed to convince. Usually every additional word only armors the hearer with more stubborn pride to resist. We don't like being shown that we are wrong.

One of the most emotionally charged discussions I ever got in was with my son, who in the end was infuriatingly correct. I finally admitted it, but said I really didn't like it! It involved a logic problem--something I put him on to as a kid by doing logic puzzles together. This discussion was humbling. I have since used this same problem in my logic classes, and experience a particular exhilarating glee when my students fall into the same trap I did.

There can be lots of reasons for wanting to have the last word. We should know what those reasons are, decide if they are justified or necessary or fruitful, and act accordingly. It may not give us the last word--but we need to realize it is always in our power to decide who gets it. It is usually a passive power. We have to shut up.