Saturday, June 30, 2007

Austin City Limits

Poetroad and I finally got a chance to go to an Austin City Limits taping (his dream come true) - and it was awesome! We saw Explosions in the Sky. More about the fun concert experience later...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

[Fiction Friday]

This Week’s Theme: Pick a mythical person or creature (e.g., Santa, Thor, Easter Bunny), and explain through dialogue, essay, or anything else, why they are unhappy with their job or position in life.

And now for something completely different - here's my post for this week. I'll be on the road next week, so I won't have a chance to post then. Looking forward to FF when I return!

It’s not that I don’ like me job
But a lass gets tired o’ screamin
Seems the banshee’s keen, it ne’er stops
Cause the peoples alway a-dyin.’

Is wailin’ a work for a pretty lass
When she’s spoonin’ wi' a lad?
Can an ill O’Leary get off his arse
When there’s lovin’ ta be had!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rain, rain, go away...

Wouldn’t you know it. The year we decide to up and move from Oregon to state that was in the midst of severe drought…it rains. And it rains. And it rains. In Austin, we are breaking a 70 year record for rainfall for the month of June.

But here in Austin, we are the lucky ones. Last night, it rained 18 inches in one night. Yes – that’s 18. What is this, frigging Hawaii? Marble Falls is a beautiful town, but make no mistake about it, the nearest Ocean beach is a good five or six hour drive from Marble Falls.

Ahh, the irony. Perhaps God was just trying to ease the transition for us? Nah, Poetroad may work for a church, but we don’t got that kind of holy cred.

The Meeting

By May, I avoided attending morning assembly. Mostly because it seemed as if every time I went, JGs teacher would pull me aside to “update” me on how JG was doing in class. But I got caught off guard one morning as I was escorting my girls to school, and hence the “meeting” was set. The teacher assured me that she only wanted to get together in order to discuss what we should do with JG next year. In all of her umpteen years of teaching, she had never had a child that was so “on the bubble.”

What to do, of course, meant to ultimately decide whether or not to “promote her to first grade or give her another year of kindergarten.”

Which I have to say up front that I was never – and still am not – opposed to the idea of retaining JG. She will be six in July, and was younger than almost everyone in her class. Plus, she hasn’t conformed really well to the American approach to education (the sit down and shut up approach, I mean – although I know that not every school or teacher takes this approach in America, but by in large they do).

On the day of the meeting, I was expecting to meet with the teacher, counselor, and reading specialist all together. Poetroad made sure he could be there too. Thank God.

Side note: Before the meeting, Poetroad and I, under the distinct impression that we would truly “discuss” the situation, made a list of different we thought should be considered. And true to form, I played the devil’s advocate by positing the “what ifs.” What if they say “this” or “this” – what will we say? Ultimately, Poetroad wisely put my mounting anxiety at ease by suggesting, “Look, let’s not make any decision today. Let’s reiterate that we are meeting to discuss the issue and not to decide one way or the other.”

No surprise to anyone but me (and perhaps the counselor…), the meeting began with something akin to “there is no way your daughter could handle first grade, everyone thinks so (with an eye roll), and this is why…”

I was broadsided – although I should have seen it coming. And I resolutely dug my heels into the carpet at that point. No matter how much they tried to “persuade,” I acted as if this was a “discussion.” Poetroad was calm, cool and collected, as always. We went from person to person and grilled them. “What is JG like in your classroom?” “How is JG performing academically for you?” “What is your experience with children that are retained a grade?” “If she repeats kindergarten, will she have the same teacher?”

Oh, I wish you all could have been there to see the response when Poetroad asked that last one. I thought the teacher was going to fall out of her chair; she was struggling for words, and was practically rendered speechless. Not in her wildest dreams would she want to spend another year with my child was what she said with her body, and with her mouth she said, “Well, I don’t know about that.” That was okay with me; I don’t feel any animosity for this woman, but I wouldn’t want JG to spend another year with this teacher either. As I mentioned in my previous post, the teacher really knew how to help my child excel academically and socially – she was a fantastic teacher in that sense. However, the teacher could not overcome the fact that my child (unknowingly) got on her nerves.

Much more was said at the meeting, and the reading specialist – who at first “needed to teach her class in 10 minutes” – ended staying through the duration of the almost one hour meeting. Although it clearly exasperated the teacher, I let everyone know, in no uncertain terms, that the decision was not going to be made that day, the next day, or even two weeks from that day. Poetroad and I needed to thoughtfully consider everything we heard that day, do some research of our own, and then come to a consensus.

The truth of the matter is that Poetroad and I both know that another year of kindergarten wouldn’t hurt our daughter at all. She is petite, young compared to the other students in her grade at this school, and can have a difficult time sitting still. And although she meets the criteria for grade promotion for Texas (as the reading specialist reluctantly admitted, and added, “And if I didn’t know your daughter, I would say that she could handle first grade”), this school district has standards in place that go above and beyond what the Texas Board of Education requires. JG is only an emergent reader. She can count to 100, but gets mixed up in the “teens.” [Side note: my oldest daughter thought that “eleventeen” was a number until she was in the second grade.]

Maybe it’s just me. I clearly have to get over my expectations – not of my daughter’s ability, but, rather, of what public school should do for my child. I do not believe that my daughter is a failure, nor do I think that Poetroad and I have somehow failed her. As a teacher, though, I know that children each learn various concepts at different rates and by different means. I understand that a child ultimately has to conform to school practices (sit and listen, work on worksheets) in order to be successful in the public school system as it is. But I also know my daughter, and she may never conform to status quo.

Neither did Einstein.

I went away from that meeting stunned. It’s taken me over a month to even discuss it with anyone. Of course, all of our friends and family are supportive. The teacher, too, told me on the last day of school that she would support whatever decision we made. Little by little, as I’ve broached the subject with a few mothers from this neighborhood, the response was what I expected, however: oh, poor you and your sub-par daughter. I’m not sure what I think about that.

I have to remind myself that, in the scheme of things, this stuff is petty. We aren't starving, we have a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thanks Tony!

While the queen is away, the mice will play. Not that I think that my friend Tony is a rodent or anything, but he is sneaky. Hence the new blog title. I'm changing my blog name so much that I can't even keep up with myself, lol!

Thank you, Tony, for fixing stuff for me here. You are a treasure!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bad May, Part Dux: First, The Background

Daughter number three (JG) is a spit-fire. She is graciously particular - most of the time (at age two, for example, she would say, "That's not my favorite" when any mushy or otherwise non-pretty looking food was placed on her plate, and then would refused to eat.) She has a stubborn streak and is more tenacious than anyone I know or have ever met. For example, when she turned four, I once sent her to bed without supper because she would not eat what was served her. By lunchtime the next day, she was content to just keep on not eating because nothing I served for breakfast or lunch was "her favorite." She could have kept right on fasting through dinner and breakfast the next day, too, but by dinnertime and no eating - none - for 24 hours, I figured out what was her favorite and served that. And one of her more endearing qualities is that she is a dawdler and a silly-heart (yes, you Uncle Buck fans - I borrowed that phrasing). JG is an extroverted, hands-on kind of girl that enjoys making people laugh. Clearly (except for being and extrovert), this apple of my eye didn't fall far from the tree.

So I wasn't surprised that when we moved from Oregon to Austin last December that this major move might be met with some resistance. Not only would JG's new school require that she would have to wake up, eat, and be out the door by 7:35 (thank God we live right behind the school), but she would also have to attend school all day long rather than the half day required at her previous school. Don't misunderstand - JG is not the kind of kid needs to take a nap half way through the day. On the contrary, I had to stop making her take a nap at age 3 so that we could all get to sleep before midnight/1 AM. No joke. The problem was that more "sitting" would be required of her than ever before.

And, a sitting all day in a chair kind of girl JG is not.

It was no surprise to me that JG complained of hating school every day for the first month. Where she played all day and would easily, charmingly, and wordlessly command attention at her other school, she was now being forced to sit and take daily quizzes on letter sound recognition (teacher says a sound, and students write the upper and lower case letter; teacher says a letter, and students say all of the possible sounds that letter makes). Also, she now had to do homework - worksheets and flashcards that took us probably 20-30 minutes to complete.

By week two, the teacher was calling us in for a meeting. I knew it couldn't be a good sign when the teacher asked me, more than once in this 30 minute conversation, whether or not JG was in pre-school or kindergarten at her last school. By the end of the conversation, the teacher pretty much spelled out to us that she would do her darnedest to bring JG up to speed (all of her students were reading by this time, and JG was a whole semester behind), but the reality of the matter was that enough progress may not be made by the end of the year.

As the semester progressed, so did JG. Although resistant at times because she had to skip so much free choice time in order to be hard line tutored in her ABCs, JG seemed to be getting the hang of things. In fact, because she was labeled by the school as "at risk," she had to meet with the reading specialist four days a week - all because she was not a fluent reader as a kindergartner. Also, we met with the teacher periodically in order to be kept up to speed. But by spring break, I began to notice that JG had had enough; every day, she complained that school was boring. Sure, she liked PE and lunch, but the rest of it was "boring teaching stuff."

I began to notice, too, that the teacher was growing less and less patient with my little girl's quirky behavior. At first, JG confessed that she had a time out here and there. Then it was daily. Then the notes started coming home, followed by phone calls from the teacher. The biggest offense? JG was talking. Talking in line, talking in the hallway, talking during circle time. The girl likes to talk, what can I say? (And if you noticed the length of any of my entries lately, you can clearly see where she gets this trait.)

Side note: she is in kindergarten. Kin-der-garten! Is it really necessary to chain a kid to her desk and slap the proverbial duct tape on her mouth before she is promoted to one of the grades that are numbered?! (Of course I am speaking metaphorically here.) Although there was that one little time that JG kissed a boy (see what I'm dealing with here!). I took a hard line on that one: "no kissing until you are 25!" JG just giggled at me, but agreed to never do that again at school.

In any event, I dropped by the school more and more (visited JG at lunch, went to special events such as "Water Day," etc.) in order to witness the teacher's interaction with JG for myself. Frankly, what I saw was a fantastic teacher that just didn't have any patience with my daughter. If JG had a question, she was answered with slight annoyance. If my daughter tapped on her teacher to get her attention, she was simply ignored. I even had the opportunity to witness a scolding, and the teacher reponded with exhasperation to my daughter (nevertheless, I did not intervene). Trust me - I live with this daughter 24/7, so I sympathize with this exasperation. Still, I was begining to wonder if some of the behavior issues in class stemmed from a personality conflict with the teacher rather than actual behavioral problems.

Then came "The Meeting." And you'll just have to read more about that later.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bad May, Part I

Warning: What you are about to read is a ridiculously wordy version of just one of the obstacles I faced in May. It is, at moments, kind of a disgusting tale. You've been warned: proceed at your own risk.

It was 2:50 on the Wednesday before school let out last month. I’m not sure what compelled me to walk to the end of the driveway that day to watch my three older girls walk the last block from school. We live directly behind the school, for goodness sakes – if I climbed on top of my house, I could easily watch them walk out the back door of the school right to the front door of our house.

While I was waiting there at the end of our driveway, I thought I heard a shout or someone yelling. It was like the internal nagging voice that I sometimes hear way back in my subconscious, so of course I ignored it the way I try to ignore the annoyance of a buzzing fly. But the voice persisted.

Then I turned and noticed a guy on the other side of the fence that separates our cul-de-sac from a five lane thoroughfare. He was motioning for me to come over. At first, I flashed back to the time when my buddy Molly had a brush with indecent exposure in our B’ville days – it was the same suspicious “Pssst – hey you” beckoning that we heard that day. But since this guy’s clothes seemed to be covering his body, it dawned on me that his car might have broken down and he needed help. Maybe even medical help.

I jogged over to where he was yelling, “You need some help? Is everything okay?” When I reached the fence, however, I noticed he was holding, with arm stretched out in my direction, a little black furry thing. “It’s a puppy,” he said. “You take it?”

“Uh, I think it’s a kitten.”

“No puppy? Kitty? Here, you take it. I think it hurt”

With that, he showed me the back side of the tiny animal. It looked as if the tail was practically severed. The gash was gross indeed; it wouldn’t survive if I left it there. Mr. Landscape Maintenance was in earnest, too, and he lifted the kitten over the fence and put it into my hands. It was a new-born; its eyes hadn’t even opened yet.

At that moment, my kids reached the driveway. I hadn’t really had a chance to inspect the kitten and wasn’t thrilled to show it to them knowing that the kitten may not survive. Of course they “Ooooo-ed” and “Awww-ed” over it – and wanted to hold it, but I told them that it was hurt (and it had some type of worms on it) and that we needed to let the vet take a look at the kitten right away.

Luckily, there was a vet clinic right around the corner. We didn’t have any trouble getting an appointment, thank goodness. There, the vet examined “Kitty,” and said that she had seen worse. This kitty, although covered in maggots and only a week old, would most likely survive the vet assured us. So I paid my 82 dollars to have the kitten de-maggoted and treated with antibiotics. After being instructed on how to care for a newborn invalid kitten (feed every two to three hours 24/7, hand stimulate urination and bowel movements, remove any remaining live maggots, care for wound, etc.), I was on my way home to tackle being a sleep deprived mom once again.

The first night went okay. The kids were excitedly chatting about what we might name our new kitten and how we would care for it etc., etc. I even let them attempt to feed Kitty its special formula with the tiny dropper. Through the night, I kept Kitty warm and comfortable in my bedroom in a makeshift cardboard box bed filled with an old fleece blanket, a heating pad, and a few beanie baby kitties (donated by my two older daughters for the cause of “helping Kitty not feel lonely”). Kitty ate well, and seemed pretty feisty. A couple times I even thought this little bugger might climb right out of the box!

In the morning, I was confident that Kitty would pull through. The assistants at the vet clinic called to check on Kitty too – which I really appreciated. “Call back if you have any questions at all,” they said.

But Kitty’s appetite seemed to wane. It was fussier as the day went on. By mid-day, Kitty took a turn for the worse. I noticed that the umbilical area was protruding a bit. I called the vet and was assured, once again, that all was fine. They had noticed this at the clinic, and this was typical of newborn kittens. Okay, then.

Then I noticed the second batch of maggots. Lots of them tucked up in the umbilical area. Loads of them. I tried to take them out with tweezers. I pulled out about twenty of the little wormy buggers. It was surreal because this type of maggoty picking behavior is NOTHING like something I would do. I cringe at blood, vomit, and the like. Maggots? Totally disgusting. Still, I was almost obsessed with cleaning this kitty. No matter how many I removed, however, there were more stuffed in there. I couldn’t get them all out. Again, I called the vet at around 4:30 PM.

Around 8:00 PM, I finally got a call back from the vet. “Ugh,” she said, “I looked in the umbilical area, but I didn’t see and maggots there.

“I don’t think Kitty will make it through the night,” I responded. “It isn’t thriving. It isn’t eating as much as it was.”

“Well, bring Kitty in tomorrow morning first thing, and we take a look at it. We will even flush out any remaining maggots.”

“Great. I’ll be there as soon as the clinic is open,” I replied.

Even then, it was already too late, though. I knew it. The vet knew it. I just wish that I knew for sure what would happen so that I could prepare my own children for the inevitability of what would happen. Literally, I prayed, “God, if this Kitty is going to die soon, then help me to know that for sure.”

By 8:30 my prayer was answered, for better or worse. I noticed that Kitty’s bed was bloody. And when I went to pick Kitty up, I saw that its intestines were no longer neatly stuffed in its belly. The situation was terminal. There was nothing I could do at 8:30 that evening except to make Kitty as comfortable as I could until it breathed its last breath. So that’s what I did.

But first, I let my own children say goodbye to Kitty. As tactfully as I could, I explained that Kitty wouldn’t make it through the night, so they needed to say goodbye before they went to bed. The scene was heartbreaking. My 9 year old still held out hope that Kitty would be alive in the morning. Tearfully, each daughter said goodbye to Kitty.

For the next few hours, I held Kitty and caressed it. I told it that it was okay to relax. I prayed over Kitty and asked God to relive its pain. And eventually – exhausted as I was from lack of sleep and from enduring the stress – I carefully tucked Kitty into bed next to one of the beanie babies. Within a few hours, Kitty was gone.

You might think that after this whole Kitty saga I might be a little ticked at the vet for not euthanizing the kitty right off. I was. I would have done it myself, but didn’t have a humane way to do that at my disposal. And I shelled out 87 bucks when all was said and done. Or, perhaps you thought that I should have refused the kitty from Mr. Lawn Maintenance man right up front. That would have saved me a lot of pain (and money), for sure.

Still, I wouldn’t have done anything different. If I am committed to what I say I believe – to care for the earth and all creation; to be generous even when it costs time and money and tears – then I made the right decision. Foolish? Maybe. Nevertheless, I would do it again.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fiction Friday

Here’s this week’s challenge:

Write the first thing that comes to mind when you read this line: Bad news cures all things.

Nightly, the fog seemed to shroud the forlorn vineyards in the late springs and early summers near Soledad. That night from her second story bedroom window, Selma mindlessly brushed and braided her long, thick chestnut hair as she watched the fog ooze across the foothills. She noted how the fog pervaded every crevice – row after row, acre after acre – of the monotonous lines of vines. Sometimes she imagined that the fog could penetrate her bedroom window and envelop her too. It never did.

So instead, Selma crawled into bed and pulled the covers up around her neck and stared at the stars and the darkness. If she could pull the darkness up over her head – to encase her entire body so that no air could seep in – she surely would. Then it would be over. She wouldn’t have to endure the arduous task of living any more. But who would love her children, then? Tim was a great daddy; the reality is, however, that enduring his wife’s death wouldn’t eliminate the fact that he would have to work every day sun up to sun down. Farm life is demanding – that’s the reality. Tim’s family live ten hours away. Her family lived half-way across the country. They were alone in raising their kids. A six, four, and an almost two year old couldn’t take care of themselves, nor did she desire that for them. Although Selma hated living, for sure, she loved her children more.

And why did she feel so sad? She had a wonderful (though sometimes absent and preoccupied) husband, three beautiful daughters, and wonderful friends. Nevertheless, she felt alone. She lived in a real house– nothing like the trailer her parents still call home, and that counted for something. The plumber – I forgot to call her. I have to remember to call her tomorrow, Selma thought. Money was tight after they decided to expand the vineyard last year, but they were making it. Why was she sad? She didn’t have a good answer for that nagging question. The sadness just seemed to be.

After a while, Selma felt the mattress sink heavily next to her, and could hear almost instantly the sleep sounds of her husband – deep breathing, a few snores. How can he do that!? I can’t ever fall asleep that quickly, she thought. No, she always lay awake for a half to sometimes a full hour before her mind would succumb to dreams. If I just lay here and think of nothing, sleep will come. Empty your brain, Selma. Stop thinking everything to death, she thought. Tomorrow, then. Selma would put off seeking answers tonight.

Early the next morning, Selma awoke to the stench of sewer – so strong that she could taste it. “Oh, shit!” she cursed frantically as she ran to the bathroom to survey the damage. The sewer must have backed up all the way up here, she thought. To her surprise, the bathtub and toilet sit there quietly and cleanly as always. Then she heard Tim holler from downstairs, “Selma – you awake? Don’t come down here without your boots on!”

Hurriedly, Selma threw on an old sweatshirt, jeans, and her old ropers and ran downstairs. As she crossed from the stairwell into the open kitchen, a wall of odor almost knocked her to her knees. With mop in hand and dressed in raingear, heavy-duty fireman gloves that she picked up at a garage sale last year, waist high neoprene waders, and a bandana to cover his face so that his brown eyes were his only recognizable feature, Tim looked as if he was ready to clean up a minor nuclear spill. “I was gonna fix you breakfast, honey, but I thought I would clean up a little first,” he joked. “Oooo wee – this is stanky stank! What have you been feeding our kids?”

“I’m so sorry, Tim! What happened?” Selma asked as she pulled her sweatshirt up over her mouth and nose, knowing instinctively that she was to blame for this disaster.

“Shit, happened, honey!” And he continued to mop the raw sewer out the back door.

“Oh, god, Tim! I forgot to call the plumber yesterday! I didn’t know it was this bad! I am sooooo sorry!!”

“You can’t always know, Selma. It was gonna happen whether you called or not. It’s been a wet spring; the septic probably just couldn’t handle all that rain.”

“Well, chances are that Joanie will come out right away now. That’s good, right?” Selma said half-heartedly.

“Yeah, it looks like you’re finally gonna get that new kitchen floor that you’ve wanted too. Tell Joanie she’s gonna have to drain the septic tank. And just be thankful that we have a bathroom downstairs, honey, otherwise we might be mopping the ceilings upstairs.” Then he went back to his mopping.

How did he do that? Selma wondered. Tim always knew how to make a major disaster seem less horrible. Where she could feel – really feel - unrestrained hopelessness, he could define a space and wall it in on all four sides. She needed Tim. She really needed him.

Selma left her ropers at the base of the stairwell and went back upstairs to gather up the kids. Hopefully Gloria could take her girls for the day. The girls loved to hang out with Gloria’s kids anyway; they didn’t get to do that enough. It’s not that Gloria never offered to take the kids. Selma just didn’t want to impose. Three kids are a lot to handle – combined with Gloria’s four - yikes. But Selma needed to acquiesce for the sake of her own children. They needed to play with other kids and sometimes venture off of the farm. Mental note: set up more play dates for the kids, Selma thought.

Later that morning after Selma got her family squared away, Joanie arrived to survey the damage. Bad news: part of the sewer line collapsed. The good news was that Joanie could repair it in the span of about two or three day’s time. Sometimes it’s good to live in a small town, Selma thought. Soledad wasn’t a terrible place to live.

Gloria practically begged to keep the kids for a few nights – she wouldn’t dream of allowing the girls to be around an open trench. Just last week after it had been raining for several days straight, a local toddler fell into a swollen, normally dry, creek. Searchers didn’t find the body until the next morning. Selma remembered seeing the parents on the local news; through controlled sobs, the mother said that she was thankful to be able to have her child for even two years. Selma knew that Gloria was right; she wouldn’t be able to bear the loss of one of her children.

The loss of a child – with that aching realization, something clicked in Selma. Life really was good to her. Her children were okay. Her husband was okay. Sure, only that morning her kitchen floor was covered in sewer, but things could be worse; it took a stranger’s pain to penetrate that shroud of darkness. Her despair was not limitless. With help, she could define it. Was it loneliness? Was it a chemical imbalance? She would find out. She would get help. Her family deserved that. She deserved that.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

One down, many to go

So I finally managed to finish reading The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Actually, I flew through the first 550 pages in less than a week (which is quite a feat considering much vies for my attention). Of course, I only use that as an excuse; the truth is that I like to take my time when I read (translation: slow reader here). Talk about layered-speak!

Anyhow, I drug my feet through the last 47 pages. If you’ve read any of Dostoyevsky’s work, perhaps you’ll understand. No, it wasn’t because the plot is complicated and sometimes cumbersome to read; several passages read as if he had nothing better to do with his time than to write and write and write about that one scene – as if he anticipated to be paid by the word rather than for the complete work. Rather, what restrains my rush to finish one of his novels is, as one could guess by reading some of his book titles (Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed…), that Dostoyevsky probes a man’s/woman’s darkness – as in spiritual, social, political darkness, and the result is always tragedy. Regardless of the riveting storyline and the richness of each character, the end of the story is shrouded also in terrible darkness.

I have to admit that I like the reality of this type of resolution – stories that have neat and tidy endings hardly ever ring true for me. Open ended endings and tragedy seem more realistic. Am I a pessimist? I like to think I’m a realist. But with this book, I grew so fond of the “hero” Myshkin that I wasn’t in a hurry for his demise to unfold. It may be because Poetroad has a colleague that reminds me very much of Myshkin. Or I may not have been in the right frame of mind to suffer the loss with the hero. Darn empathy. Always gets in my way.

Nevertheless, The Idiot is an excellent read.

Phew - all they were up to was this:

Uh - ohhhh

The four munchkins are quiet. You know that means trouble.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

God Bless Texas

Texas, Our Texas! All hail the mighty state!
Texas, Our Texas, so wonderful, so great!”

I mentioned that there is a different kind of attitude here in Texas. A patriotic pride for the United States, for sure, is present, but it’s a patriotism that hardly rivals that for the beloved “Republic.” You know, Texas was an Independent Republic at one time (let me take a moment just to interject - Vermont – get over yourself. You don’t even have an Alamo!).

“Boldest and grandest, withstanding ev'ry test
O Empire wide and glorious, you stand supremely blest.

See what I mean. Even the state song makes reference to that fact. It says, “We’ve fought lots of wars here. And we withstood the test. Okay, we lost the Alamo, but we remember it. That counts for something. And we kicked ass at San Jacinto.” Vermont, I know you have a lot of forts and stuff there, but that was all from way back when during the Revolutionary War. Sure, you seceded from the British, Vermont, but you “more or less” stayed out of the war of 1812! That was all soooo long ago.

Besides, what does Vermont have? Skiing? Syrup? You are beautiful, I’m sure, Vermont, but let’s have a level head about it. Texas has land. Lots of it. Even if no one wants to live on 6/10ths of it, you know that our people have been and are working on it.

“God bless you Texas! And keep you brave and strong,
That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.”

Do your school children know your state song? Do they even know there is a state song? That’s doubtful. Isn’t it true, Vermont, that you, in fact, adopted a NEW more singable song in 1998? More sing-a-ble.

“God bless you Texas! And keep you brave and strong,
That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.”

Vermont, you enjoyed 14 good years of being an Independent Republic. Let’s not spoil those great memories by dwelling on what “could have been.”

I digress. What I want you to know, dear readers, is that I learned the first verse and chorus to the Texas state song since I moved here six months ago. Sad to say, I never learned the state song for Oregon, and I lived there most of my life. Here at the school my kids attend, they sang the Texas state song almost every day at the school assembly (assembly – this is how the children spend the first 15 minutes of every school day, you know, getting all patriotic and loving the school and stuff). I have also learned to pledge the Texas flag, which the children recited – no joke – every day.

Our state flag

“I pledge allegiance to thee Texas,
One and Indivisible”

In Texas, the state flag is flying everywhere. Everywhere. Men and women alike wear the Texas flag, even. Texas flag shorts, Texas flag shirts, Texas flag shoes and socks and underwear. In Texas, the state flag is flown at the same height as the US flag. Not under it - beside it. It says, “I know we said we would be a part of this here United States; that’s only because we want to. Don’t get any ideas.”

When I was in Louisiana last month, once I saw the Confederate flag flying at the top of the flag pole, and the US flag was flying underneath that. But that’s another story altogether.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fiction Friday: an offer unrefused

There is no time like the present to begin practicing... I have to admit that I did edit a little. And I spent a little more than 5 min. on these few paragraphs. What can I say - I'm rusty. Also, I have to take advantage of nap time. :)

This week's theme: Write a story/poem beginning with this line: No one refused her offer.

“…No one refused her offerrrr…” crooned the rich twangy voice as it brushed over the melodic fiddle, guitar, and bass canvas – a song painted in the same fashion that familiar old-time country tunes were.

Darkness hardly diluted the hot sticky air. Still 90 at 9:30 PM. But driving with the top down on the Jeep brought some relief. In the morning, El Paso, and then she would cross over into New Mexico. It still amazed her that she would have to drive all night long just to get to El Paso from Flatonia! Texas is big. She would never dream of driving that leg of the trip during the day, though. July heat during the day is unbearable – especially out in the middle of nowhere on I-10.

“Fearful and broken; it’s a lonesome trade….” She turned up the radio to break the constant drone from driving on the open road.

How did she ever end up in Flatonia, of all places? “Destination Flatonia: Where all roads lead.” What a joke for a town slogan. If all roads lead to Flatonia, then why has its population only grown by 353 since 1950? People come to Flatonia, but people don’t stay in Flatonia, she mused.

And now the population would be minus one. Make that two. Although, no one else knew about that yet. Instinctively, with one hand on the wheel, she rummaged through her purse for a cigarette.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Who am I?

Thought it would be interesting to do this test too (thanks for the idea PJ and Ch@ndy), and here are my results:

"You are an INFP!

As an INFP, you are Introverted, iNtuative, Feeling , Perceiving.
This makes your primary focus on Introverted Feeling with Extroverted Intuition.

This is defined as a NF personality, which is part of Carl Jung's Idealist (Identity Seeking) type, and more specifically the Healers or Idealist"

I could just as easily be:

"an ENFP!

As an ENFP, you are Extroverted, iNtuative, Feeling , Perceiving.
This makes your primary focus on Extroverted Intuition with Introverted Feeling.

This is defined as a NF personality, which is part of Carl Jung's Idealist (Identity Seeking) type, and more specifically the Champions or Inspirer.

As a weblogger, you may not be consistent in posts. Although, if you find a specific focus on their journal or a very flexible manner of writing, it may be more fulfilling..."

[ain't that the truth..."not consistent in posts", that is...]

Why either/or? Basically, I am an introvert that learned to function and/or have spent most of my life functioning as an extrovert. Being a "people" person was valued in my family. Hey, I don't blame anyone here. I count myself lucky to be ambifunctional.

Extrovert personality traits (based on this little test):

  • Very talkative and outgoing [I would actually rather crawl in a hole in social situations, but in the right situation I can be outgoing. And I am always like talkative, in particular, when I am nervous.]
  • Distracted easily...
  • Act first, and then think

Introvert personality traits (also a la little test):

  • good listener and more private
  • as a hostess, always behind the scenes making sure things run smoothly

But that's superfluous to the crux of my personality, really. It's the "NF" (iNtuative, Feeling) that really identifies my personality. Basically, I don't like conflict or criticism in particular. Also, I need time alone to think things through regardless of the introvert/extrovert delineation. Another interesting tidbit is that for an "NF", Everything that they do must be in line with their values.

The alter-ego page explains, similarly, Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP's value system...

Regardless, neither personality description eliminates the fact that I stepped squarely - and barefooted - into a pile of dog vomit today.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This can't be right...

Slow and Steady

Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy.

They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder.

It'd really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment.

They expect you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then usually decide against it.

Sure, I'm fussy and all that. Cautious, yes. Careful, not really. Impulsive, very. More like "compulsive," though.


Ouch. May was a difficult month (more about that later...). May is supposed to be fun, no? Spring flowers, school winding down, and all that crap? Let's just say I survived May, June is looking up, and July promises to be a real firecracker.