Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wilbur is Delighted

Wilbur is delighted that the President says to call it the H1N1 flu instead of the swine flu. I would pronounce that the "Hiney" Flu.

(As much as I love Wilbur, I confess...I also love eating pork. It's a dilemma I must deal with.)

Now I want to read Charlotte's Web again. And I'm off on one of my usual tangents.

I love the Garth Williams illustrations. He also illustrated Stuart Little, The Rescuers, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, A Cricket in Times Square (which I think I sent to Debbie's boys in Japan), and one of the first books I ever owned, My First Counting Book:

Here's another of my early books, Baby Animals, also illustrated by Garth Williams. Even at an early age, I was a little obsessive about collecting things. "How many of these LITTLE GOLDEN BOOKS have you read?" The black crayon marks indicate my collection.

I obviously still have some of these books since I am scanning them!

My thanks to Cheri, whose comment on another blog ("Save Wilbur!") sent me off on this tangent.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Do Something Silly Today

So much doom and gloom floating about.

Let's do something lighthearted today.

Yesterday I completely surprised some second grade girls. They were skipping out of the bathroom as I crossed the playground. So I skipped across to meet them. A grownup skipping? They were completely surprised and speechless for a moment, then started smiling and laughing. And we all skipped back to the classroom. It felt good.

So have a silly moment today... and tell me about it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Arts and Crafts

My niece and I took a class Wednesday night on making beaded jewelry.

Now I'm no Lori Anderson. Go look at her jewelry -- it's gorgeous.

But my little project came out OK. I already had the was a gift from a good friend and was originally on a plain black cord. However, the cord was too tight around my thick non-swanlike neck. So I made it longer and jazzed it up a little bit. I'm happy.

Boy, beading could be addictive!

But I have too many hobbies I've started and stopped. I've done embroidery, crewel, counted cross stitch, needlepoint, sewing clothing, quilting, rag rugs. Watercolors and acrylics. Scrapbooking.

The worst UFOs are: a counted cross stich (started about 15 years ago), two boys' shirts (11 years ago), a Batman quilt (5 years ago) and a needlepoint pillow cover (only 1-2 years ago).

I like that I could go to the class and come home with a FINISHED project!!!

So confess: what's unfinished around your house and how long has it been?

Friday, April 24, 2009

i think...therefore i blog....

I've done a couple posts on the economy's effect on our lives. I want to thank you all for your positive and insightful comments. We're fine, really.

I always got top marks on performance reviews for being "flexible," and I am being that now. Yes, I am quite prideful on my flexibility. I even told the school I would be willing to work with kindergarteners. (Ulterior motive...Mr. Thomas will be in K next fall!!!!!!)

So here are my most recent thoughts...

I think the HH's company will get some sales soon and we will get that deferred salary back in the future. This company has honest owners. How many people can say that about their employers?

I think the school will need at least one more aide and I am the first one that will be hired back. I think there will be several teachers that will want me back.

I think I need to take some meds for my PMS.

I think I have good friends. Friends from the present, friends from the blog...and friends from way back....

I think that the universe totally shifted in some strange way because Frank took out his garbage without being asked. (We watched an alien movie last night: The Day the Earth Stood Still -- Keanu Reeves was a nice alien --- did he leave an aura around Frank's garbage???)

And in my microuniverse, that last thing???? Was the most meaningful. Sad to say, the highlight of my day was that Frank took out his garbage.

But small things are building blocks.

A Nutritious Breakfast

Ernest doesn't like cereal for breakfast anymore. Fruit, yogurt, or even peanut butter is acceptable. Sometimes he will find something else.

This morning he had some leftovers:

Hey, it has 3 food groups: dairy, fruit, and grains.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's not Pink

As expected, I got my "pink slip" yesterday. It's not even pink, it's just an ordinary white letter. I was looking forward to a little color in the envelope.

According to the handydandy little "California's programs for the unemployed" booklet, I am eligible for an unemployment benefit of approximately...69 big ones a week. I just laughed. It's not even worth it. Because then I'd have to pretend to be actively seeking employement, which I won't be. I sometimes bitch about the job because, well, we all complain about something. But really, it's been great. You can't beat the vacation schedule. I am so spoiled now! I need the summer off!

So I'm in a wait-and-see mood...

Yesterday was the one day I am in the same classroom for the entire morning...the rest of the week time I ping pong back and forth between 2 classrooms. There were lots of observers yesterday: assistant principal, 2 teachers, school nurse, 2 parents. So of course the children were at their worst. This was the school site council, weighing their options. Like doubling class size -- would it work if there was a full time aide (i.e. the whole morning instead of just part of it)? (In my opinion, no. That would be too big a class.)

I'm really glad I don't have to make the decisions here. The school is between a rock and a hard place and there's not enough money.

In other school related news, there is a fundraiser for the Music and Arts program on Monday night (the 27th). Tickets available at the Book Loft and SY Coffee Co. Local folks.....please consider buying a ticket or making a donation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Birthday Redux

Yes, I lied. There really were presents. The heirloom SpongeBob bag contained water balloons. (On a previous birthday, I was told: "You can't ever give away that bag.")

That hand painted wrapping paper? Ernest himself made it a number of Christmases ago. But he was mostly interested in that little thingy with the apple on it.

iPod Touch. W00t!

And there was cake for school. He wanted brownies, but brownies and I just don't get along. They are either too hard around the edges or too mushy in the middle. So we made a big cake.

Ernest was out of the house, so I saved the beater for him to lick.

It truly is the Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever.

So that was Friday's cake. We had another cake for the folks at home, but due to circumstances beyond our control (full bellies) no one was able to eat any more cake Friday night. Saturday was taken over by the trip to Magic Mountain. Instead, we saved it for Sunday. Mr Thomas aka Busy helped with the candles. He did a good job.

Pucker up and blow!

I hope all his wishes came true!

Friday, April 17, 2009


For Ernest's 12th birthday, I featured some photos of my Angel Baby. For the 13th, I wasn't sure what pictures to show: Ernest in superhero costumes? Ernest in embarassing positions? (I've got 3 pictures of him on the toilet. I'd better save those for some day when he's ticked me off.) Finally I decided to play it safe. Here's a series of some of his more recent birthdays.

2003, Age 7. The GameCube Birthday

2004, Age 8. The Big Party Birthday.

2005, Age 9. The Magic Show Birthday

2006, Age 10. The 3 Cake Birthday. He helped lick the bowl for the first one.

2007, Age 11, The Let's Have Ice Cream Tonight Because You're Having Cake Tomorrow Birthday.

2008, Age 12. The Guitar Hero Birthday.

2009, Age 13. The You Don't Have Any Presents Because You Didn't Tell Us What You What But Dad Is Taking You To Magic Mountain Tomorrow Birthday. *

*At the time I wrote this post, he didn't have any presents. He does now, but I didn't want to spoil my humorous blog entry.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Concert Season is off to a Bad Start

The Handy Husband and I enjoy going to concerts, and we usually drag the kids along. So they've heard a lot of "classic" rock.

We were looking forward to Unwigged and Unplugged next week. What's that? It's Spinal Tap, sans hair and amplifiers.

But the HH came home today, saying, "Did you know it was cancelled?" Huh? Wha? Nope? However, after a little on-line research I discovered my Visa had been credited on March 19th. So it's been cancelled almost a month... (due to low sales, because they're now at a smaller venue in a giant city on the same night...) I'm a little pissed at Ticketmaster who could have easily sent an e-mail that the show was cancelled. They put through the refund with no problem. Frank just this minute told me someone told him it was cancelled, but did he tell me?

Anyhoo, we have no concerts scheduled until August 23rd. And then -- hopefully things will get better because we are going to....

AEROSMITH! Somewhere in rows 7-10! W00T!!!!!! Ernest is especially pleased because we never took him to Aerosmith before. (Three years ago he was 10...and still didn't like loud noises. And then they cancelled last year's tour. Yadda yadda yadda.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bathing Beauties

After Hearst Castle, we continued north for a few miles, to see the elephant seals.

The youngsters were just kickin' back on the beach for spring break!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Flowers at Hearst Castle

The grounds are maintained by a staff of 10. That seems small to me.

Again, I love the raindrops.

New Zealand Tea Tree. I want one.

How do you spell fuschia? I think that's right.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

La Cuesta Encantada

La Cuesta Encantada, or The Enchanted Hill

On Wednesday we went to Hearst San Simeon Historical Monument, otherwise known as Hearst Castle. We dodged some rain. I was a little nervous because I'd made reservations for Tour 4, the Garden Tour.

It was clear along the coastline, but the hilltop was buried in the rain clouds. Oh dear. Where is it? It should be just up and to the left of Ernest's head.

Riding up the hill, we entered the cloud level.

There it is, in the mist.

We were lucky and were only hit with a few sprinkles while we were there. I love the raindrops on this orange.

The orange trees were loaded with fruit. Bev, our knowledgeable tour guide, said all the fruit is picked and given to the employees. (She should know...she's been there 20 years.) Except for this lemon. She said a squirrel ate it. Who knew squirrels ate citrus?

I'm always on the lookout for cherubs, or angel babies, or as I affectionately call them "baby Ernests." Because he used to look like that. Here's two of them. The second, a corbel on the eaves of Casa del Mar, was modeled after one of Hearst's twin sons.

I managed to sneak in a family portrait. Yes, we are in a bathroom.

The rain clouds pushed back a bit. This is a view to the east.

The guide said that in her 20 years there, this was the first time the Roman pool had been emptied. (Funny...once we were there and the Neptune Pool was empty. Our luck.) It was interesting to see it empty, though. When it's full, you can't tell how deep it is.

And back down the mountain, the clouds had lifted enough for the hilltop to be revealed.

Oh, did I mention this was a garden tour? I have so many floral pictures, I'm saving them for another post.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Purple Rain

Or is this purple snow?

It was so windy poor wisteria lost a lot of petals. Fortunately it has a few left.
Ernest and I, walking home in the wind, took a look at each other and said, "Kites."


It was really too windy for Ernest's quad-line stunt kite. It crashed into the ground and broke a rod. Which necessitates a trip to a kite store. Kite store? The handy husband found one for us, on the way to where we are going on Wednesday.

Here's what a real stunt kite can do, when flown by a professional:

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Daily Newspapers

Sunday morning....I get the paper from the driveway, pull out all the ads and junk I don't read, and settle down with a cup of coffee. It doesn't take long to read it, because most of the news has been on the internet already. I do the crossword puzzles and I'm done. Then it all goes into the recycling pile.

It seems to be a big waste of paper. I'm tempted to cancel the subscription. Yes, I'll be contributing to the death of print.

I'm curious: what's your opinion on the newspaper?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Declining Mental Function

I saw this in the news the other day:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Declining mental function is often seen as a problem of old age, but certain aspects of brain function actually begin their decline in young adulthood, a new study suggests. The study, which followed more than 2,000 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 60, found that certain mental functions -- including measures of abstract reasoning, mental speed and puzzle-solving -- started to dull as early as age 27. Dips in memory, meanwhile, generally became apparent around age 37. On the other hand, indicators of a person's accumulated knowledge -- like performance on tests of vocabulary and general knowledge -- kept improving with age, according to findings published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

So according to this article, at 37 you lose memory. At 27, mental speed.

I think we can go even further back. Roll back another 10 years. What about age 17? That's when you lose the ability to remember anything your mother has told you.

Or age 7? You lose the ability to pay attention (at least in the second grade classes I'm in).

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bus Tours

Living in a tourist location, we get a lot of bus tours going through town.

The Wine Country tours are very popular. Cycling tours are appearing more and more. The large generic tour buses are an everyday fixture. Just this morning one was parked outside the school! No, they weren't touring the school, they were photographing the church on the corner.

But the craziest tour I have seen is this: the Repo Home Tour. I am serious. I saw one of these parked downtown last Saturday.

What's the craziest thing you've seen lately?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Economy

Here's the "Bad" and the "Economy" part:

For 8 months in 2008, the Handy Husband was asked to participate in a voluntary salary deferral. The company had high expenses due to an ongoing lawsuit. They promised to repay the deferred salary at some future date, and offered $1 in stock options for every $1 of salary deferred. We looked at it as a forced savings plan, and he deferred 10% the first month and 20% for the months after. Happily for everyone, the lawsuit was settled to everyone's satisfaction and the deferral was stopped in October. However, by that time the economy was in the toilet so he has only had one month's deferral repaid so far. Now, because of the economic situation, they are asking for another voluntary deferral. Following the example of their board of directors, they are asking for 40% for two months from those who are able. Ouch. That's almost half. We can manage, by paying only the minimum on credit cards and the home equity line, but I hope it doesn't go on longer than two months!

In addition to that, I learned yesterday I am definitely being laid off as the school plans their worst-case scenario.

Here's the "Good" part:

At least he has a job! There's a lot of interest in the company's new product from parties that will be getting stimulus money. So their sales should take an upturn within a couple months.

As for me, I will also be the first aide rehired if the school scrapes up any additional funds.

But wait, there's a silver lining, and it's truly Excellent:

We are getting a big tax refund!!! W00T!!! The first thing I thought was: I can get the rest of my windows!

P.S. I'm not blogging this to get sympathy. We'll be fine. I just wanted to talk about what is really happening. The Bad and the Economy are happening everywhere. There are so many folks in a worse situation. One of my co-workers -- I just heard through the grapevine today her husband was laid off a few days ago. I assure you all, the Handy Husband and I are focused on the Good and the Excellent.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Non-Live Blogging Spring Break [Out]

"I went to a place. I'll be back at a time. Signed, People."

That's almost a word for word (to the best of my meager memory) quote of a note Frank left me some time last year. At that time it was a joke. Now it's the truth.

He went to a place. Lake Tahoe. "I threw a snowball when I got here." He went snowboarding. "I fell." "I did a face plant."

He'll be back at a time. First it was "Tues/Wed." Then it was "Wed/Thurs." So I called him tonight (Wed.). "I'm in San Francisco. I'm at an Expendables concert. I have a place to stay."

OK, bearing in mind that I went to L.A. a lot in the late 70s without telling my mother about it, I guess I'm lucky to have these small tidbits of information. Although I know what I did [stalk Barbra Streisand's house, visit her sister's bakery, see James Caan at a mini-mart], which wasn't so bad at all.

I'm glad he's having a good time. I've been able to go hours, almost days, without fretting. That's a good thing.

But next week is my spring break. (The HH has to work.)

And I think I want to break loose. Break out. Break free. (Monday I have dental work. My sympathies to the Matron.) After that, my idea of breaking out is to get a massage.

Do you have any other suggestions for my spring break [out]?

Because I'm not really good at this break thing. Even the work break is looking freaky to me right now.