Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The End

November has come and gone, nearly. It wasn't so difficult to blog every day now was it?

One of my favorite NaBlo bloggers is Maria Perry Mohan. She's an Irish girl who married an Indian man and they now raise their children together in India. Her posts about life in India are fascinating. I've often wished that I lived in an interesting locale that I could write about. But I live in an ordinary little town in southwest Oklahoma.

At least I thought it was ordinary until a friend at the Lawton library mentioned that it must be quiet in Indiahoma. When I started telling her how noisy my town is, I realized that it probably isn't ordinary either.

Dogs bark all over town. One gets started and the rest join in. There's a leash law on the books but we don't have any police so there's no one to enforce it. So dogs run free barking all the way.

The family two doors down keeps a show steer in their back yard. I don't know if he's lonely or if cattle are just noisy animals but he certainly gives the dogs a run for their money.

A man two blocks east of us raises roosters. He may be out of business since they outlawed cock fighting. Or perhaps he's shipping to Mexico. But talk about racket, a yard full of roosters in pens are masterful noise makers.

It isn't just animals that steal the peace and quiet from our rural village. The Fort Sill firing range is just 2 miles north of Indiahoma. That's where missile launches land and anything else they practice that has to have somewhere to crash into. The sounds of practicing war are not quiet.

Altus Air Force Base is west of Indiahoma and they practice flying jets. Ever heard a sonic boom? Breaking the sound barrier also disturbs the peace.

Some teenagers drive too fast through town and have cars that make a lot of noise. Again, no police, who's going to stop them? We also have a large elderly population so it isn't unusual to have an ambulance blare through town for one reason or another.

The first time my dad visited from southern California, his first remark about Indiahoma was, "How do you stand the noise around here?" He had a hard time sleeping at night because he wasn't used to so much noise. I don't think he ever made a second visit.

When I first moved here, I was constantly reminded of Green Acres. I've never seen a talking pig, but I think I've seen everything else.

From my home to yours, Happy December!


Monday, November 29, 2010

A Thread of Thoughts on TV

I look forward to Mondays, not because I get to go back to work after the weekend, but because I get to watch Castle. Castle wasn't on last Monday because of "Skating with the Stars." Are you kidding me? Now we gotta SKATE with the stars? And this week it's the CMA Country Christmas. Really? You couldn't find some other time slot? From bad to worse.

Besides the local news, Castle is the only ABC show I watch. I'm more of a CBS Person: NCIS and NCIS LA, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Medium, CSI, CSI Miami, and Hawaii Five-O.

Hawaii Five-O airs at the same time as Castle so I DVR it, except lately I've had to watch it live. I don't know why those two shows have to be on at the same time (at least when ABC decides to air Castle). They appeal to the same audience so why not jostle the time and save some space on the DVR.

Other shows I like are Burn Notice and Psyche on USA, The Closer and Leverage on TNT and Bones on FOX.

I like a good mystery and I like quirky. That's why I like Castle so much. He is ruggedly good looking and plays poker (and the part of a mystery writer) with real mystery writers James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell.

In looking at this list of TV mystery shows, I'm stunned by how many of them have women in charge of the police department or other agency. That set includes: Castle, NCIS LA (regular NCIS used to have a female agency director), The Mentalist, Hawaii Five-O (I'm thinking of the governor who calls all the shots), CSI, The Closer, Psyche and Bones.

Are you feeling brain dead after being immersed in trivial television prattle? Pay me back by leaving your thoughts on TV shows you like to watch.

I'm going to look for a Castle online, hopefully one I haven't seen, so Monday night won't be a total disappointment.

But then, tonight is the eve of the last day of November NaBloPoMo blogging. Have you blogged every day so far? Only one more day to go. We can do it.


Sunday, November 28, 2010


Today is the first day of Advent, the time of preparation and anticipation of Jesus' birth, Christmas!

Last year I received daily Advent emails that made the season special in new ways. Each day there is a photograph that speaks about Advent in ways that words can't, words to carry in your heart to focus on an Advent point, a prayer, a book of the day and a question.

"What are your hopes, dreams, challenges as you enter this Advent season?"

You can answer the question here or sign up to receive The Uncluttered Heart emails and join the community of comments there.

Blessings to you as we begin a new Christian year.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just Play Nice

I saw this bumper sticker in a parking garage in Oklahoma City. I liked its message so much that I stopped and took this close up picture.

I went to the website of the bumper sticker creators and was disappointed by their own intolerance. I think when they say coexist they mean let's all be liberal democrats and coexist together. Their site is full of George W ridicule. I didn't care for their anti-Christian material either, although it wasn't as blatantly obnoxious as the Bush stuff.

Still I like the bumper sticker. We are all different, and that's a good thing. If we could appreciate the differences instead of making fun of them, celebrate instead of denegrate, what a wonderful world this would be.

Robert Fulghum was right when he wrote All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. We should just get together and play nice.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My First Born is Thirty

It was thirty years ago today, it had nothing to do with Sgt. Pepper and everything to do with giving birth for the first time. I was overdue so the doctor induced labor. We hung around all day waiting for something to happen. When it was night, the doctor said, "Get a good night's sleep and we'll try again in the morning."

Morning came, more pitocin, still nothing much. The doctor said that the baby was in distress with an elevated heart beat and he needed to do a cesarean section. Didn't see that one coming.

I HATE being put to sleep and elected to stay awake for my second cesarean. For the first one I was not given a choice. The anesthesiologist showed up in curlers and told me that she was putting a mask over my nose and mouth with oxygen in it. "Breathe deeply to get your lungs filled with oxygen." SHE LIED! It was "go to sleep gas," not oxygen, and I wanted to fight it and tell her she was a liar but I was out.

I woke up a couple of hours later and they brought Mari to me. Through the post-surgery brain cloud, I held my precious newborn and felt joy beyond compare. Everything gets a little foggy after that. I do remember throwing up when they gave me Jello to eat.

A week later the doctor told me it was time to leave the hospital. "Do I have to go?" I was enjoying the rest and lack of work, three meals delivered daily, help with the baby...why would I want to leave? But he said, "Yes, it's time for you to go home." So I took my magazines down the hall to my friend, Coretta, who had just delivered her first child and was wheeled out of the hospital. Unlike most people, I enjoy the wheelchair ride to the car.

Being a mother is the best, most important thing I've ever done. Watching a beautiful baby grow into a precocious little girl and on to an aggressive varsity basketball player and valedictorian of her junior high and high school graduating classes blessed me in ways I never thought possible.

Mari went on to graduate with honors from OSU (B.A. [Go Pokes!]) and University of Maryland, College Park (Masters Degree [Fear the Turtle!]). She has worked in journalism since her second college graduation in the D.C. area, New York City and now Baton Rouge. It's good to have her closer to home but I miss the visits to D.C. and New York.

She's home (my house) with her husband for Thanksgiving and birthday celebration. They leave tomorrow, :~( but it's been the best Thanksgiving ever with the Walkers and assorted others.

Now I'm looking forward to the day that Mari will get to experience the joys of motherhood, and I'll get to have more grandkids to love!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving at Gran's House

Abby, Auntie M, appetite, amen;
Bailey, Beth, Bennie, blessing;
Cole, cute, corn, cuddly;
Daryl, Dwayne, dressing, dessert;
Family, friends, food, fun;
Gran, Gingie, gratitude, God;
Holy Spirit, hungry, harvest, hug;
Jean, Jake, jokes, Jesus;
Lee Ann, listen, laughter, laripen;
Mari, Micah, Matt, mirth;
Norma Lee, neighbors, napkins, nuts;
The One & Only Owen;
Perry, pumpkin and pecan pies, prayer;
Roy, roasted, rolls, rain;
Shawn, Syd, splendid, smiles;
Tara, turkey, table leaves, thankful;
Virginia, vegetables, visit, valuable;
Walker, wine, wonderful, wii.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


written by Steven D. Levitt (economist) with Stephen J. Dubner (journalist). This is a freaky, weird, interesting book that tells random stories that make you want to share. Here's an example.

Nicolae Ceausescu was a Romanian dictator in the Communist party 1965 to 1989. In 1966, Ceauşescu made abortion illegal. For some reason he thought it would be good to have more Romanians. Women who had babies were rewarded and women who didn't bear children were penalized.

Babies were born to women who didn't want them, who then abandoned their children and the orphanages were full to overflowing. These children grew up in a bad situation and as teenagers were instrumental in overthrowing Ceauşescu.

In 1989 there was a violent demonstration. Ceauşescu arrested and tried in a make shift court room. Ceauşescu and his wife were found guilty of crimes and sentenced to death by firing squad. They were executed on Christmas Day.

The weird twist is that if he not made abortion illegal, the people who overthrew his regime would not have been born and he would probably not have been executed.

There are many other stories equally as interesting and fun to retell. They even made a movie and the DVD comes out in January 2011. Read the book then see the movie.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's All Good

What an absolutely wonderful day. It started out normal, like usual, but when 2nd hour began, things took a turn for the better. I always have a good day at school but this was better.

I gave my high school kids the assignment to call the Salvation Army and ask if they would like to have the sleeping mats we've been making. They talked about what to say. Mandi appointed herself secretary and wrote everything down and then organized the information into a telephone conversation. Grady asked me, "Do we have to look up the phone number?" YES. So he did. Before I knew it, Derek was on the phone reading Mandi's script. He improvised some and answered questions then he turned around, looked at me and said, "He wants to talk to my captain. I guess that's you," and he handed me the phone.

When I said "Hello," no one answered. Before I decided to hang up a voice came on the phone and said, "Hello, this is Captain Hall." DUH! The Salvation "Army." They use military titles. He was the captain, not me. I told him about our mats made of plarn (from WalMart bags) and he said he'd love to have them. They would be very useful when they run out of beds and people have to sleep on the floors. Cool!

I was happy our mats were wanted, happy the kids accomplished their task, glad it was funny and glad we could talk about a field trip to the Salvation Army in Lawton.

3rd hour is 7th grade, a lively bunch. The 2nd grade wanted to come to the library to watch a video on William Bradford in celebration of our last day of school before Thanksgiving vacation. So I had my 7th grade watch it with them. The 7th graders practiced their note taking skills as they watched. And they were so good, quiet and attentive. I'd given them a speech on being good role models for the 2nd graders, and they were. The video was interesting. We had a Q & A afterwards that was fun.

After the 7th graders left I totaled up our book fair and it was$700 more than I thought it was. Another happy thing. I get to take 40% of the sales in books and that is my only book budget so the extra on top of what I thought we'd sold was a happy surprise.

I went shopping for Thanksgiving supplies after exercise. It was a little bit crazy at WalMart but I enjoyed it. Families shopping together, little kids helping their grandmas, and people enjoying themselves. I found everything I wanted except for chestnuts. Anybody know where they keep the chestnuts? Not with the baking supplies as the recipe stated, not in the frozen foods or with the canned vegetables as an employee told me nor the "super charge" display that another employee suggested. Maybe they don't have chestnuts.

I was going to end this post with the final happy event of the day, waiting for Mari and Shawn to arrive. But they just walked in the door. Perfect ending to a perfectly wonderful day.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Church Bulletins

Cleaning and straightening up for Thanksgiving company I uncovered church bulletins going back to September 12. I started to throw them away when something I wrote caught my eye: "Unity in Christ does not mean we have to be uniform." What other pearls of wisdom might be recorded on other church bulletins? I record them here now before they become part of the land fill.

31 years of patience training. (The Sunday of my 31st wedding anniversary)

Sometimes I don't want to think because I don't want to think the wrong thing/think things that are unpleasing to God. Like the comparative religions CD course I listened to. How inclusive is God's forgiveness? Muslims? Buddhists? Sincere people with good hearts who haven't made the Jesus choice? I FEEL like if I am looking for God's leading, God's answers and keeping an open mind to his instruction, I'll be OK.

There seems to be a recurring theme of God's displeasure when people are mean to the poor. (Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 and Amos 8:4-7)

One of my favorite Old Testament verses: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger bringing good news. (Isaiah 52:7) How beautiful are your feet?

Who was Abraham's mother? Do we know her name? His father was Terah.

I'd like to ride the train up the coast of California all the way to Seattle.

There are 6 stages of a project, just like there are stages of grief. Too bad I didn't write down what they are.

The past may have been good but the future can be better. The joy of aging.

Do not fear for I am with you.

In the Old Testament God appears to be angry. In the New Testament He seems more loving and forgiving. Is that because we are looking at Him through Jesus?

Jeremiah 4:11-12, Doom and Gloom again.

The children's sermon was about being angry: pray for your enemies, love your enemies, give to beggars, don't ask for stolen stuff back.

My desk is now somewhat less cluttered. On to the next project...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Who Reigns in Your Life?

Random thoughts on Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday. It's the end of the Christian year. Next Sunday is the beginning of Advent, a time of celebration and preparation for the birth of our Savior.

Christ the King is a ruler who serves and also a servant who rules. He isn't a man of theology but a man of action. He didn't pray for the sick and hungry, he healed and fed them.

So who rules your life? Do people make you angry? Are they ruling your life? Are you independent, self-assured and the ruler of your own destiny? I've come to believe that if I put my life in God's hands, then I am in the best of hands. God sees the big picture and knows what's down the road. I trust Him.

How can we see God? He is reflected in His creation but is not limited to that reflection. You can see Him in nature and you can see Him in other people, but he's oh so very much more.

If I look at people and see how they are different from me and consider them to be "other," then we can't have a reconciling relationship. We remain separated.

Who am I? White, female, 60. I'm a wife, a mother, a sister and a Grandma. I'm Christian, American, Republican. I live in Oklahoma and go to a Methodist church. I'm a librarian and a teacher. I write newsletters and blogs. I read and watch TV. I bet you can see some things about us that are the same, and probably some that are different. Focusing on the differences will only cause friction. Where's the unity in that?

If I look at you and see someone who was created in the image of God and if you can look at me and see the same, we are united and have something to build on.

Heaven, what will it be like? People were talking about it today in Sunday School. Some know exactly what to expect. Others aren't still have questions. The only thing I know for sure is that there will be surprises for everyone.

See you there!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Hate Football

Stupid men watch
Stupid football,
Drink stupid beer,
Eat smelly food.

Laughing too hard
At stupid jokes,
Screaming too loud
Use filthy words.

For better or worse,
If this is the worst
Then I guess I've got it
better than worse.
Still, I hate football.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Book, A Blog Guru, and my favorite Website

I am reading a book called Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. This is not a book I would normally read. It was recommended in an email from Copyblogger, a website with a wealth of information about blogging, especially for business but also for writing in general. Not only informative but also entertaining.

Back to Freakonomics, I have learned so many freaky, weird and interesting things. Statistics show that there is a correlation between Roe vs. Wade and the drop in the American crime rate. Explanation: the babies that would have been born instead of aborted would have been raised in hostile homes by parents ill equipped to raise children they didn't want who then would have grown into people who commit crimes. I know, insulting in so many ways.

A lot of talk about cheating, in schools by students and teachers, in business at all levels, and imagine this headline, "500,000 Children Vanish." That's exactly what happened when the government began requiring social security numbers for all dependents on a person's income tax form. Add income tax fraud to the list.

A lot of what we do is based on incentives. An interesting example is the real estate agent. They normally take longer to sell their own homes than when they are hired to sell someone Else's. They will wait to get the bigger price for themselves but encourage their clients to sell at the first reasonable offer. Why would they want to wait and do more work for you to make an extra $3000 when it will only increase their take $150? Anybody out there sell houses for a living? Got a comment to make?

It is tidbit after tidbit. Did you know you can buy a casket online? I thought you had to buy them from a funeral home. That's what they want you to think. The Internet has been the great equalizer of information. We can all become somewhat of an expert and find out things that were hitherto only available to "experts."

This brings me to a final question: What is your favorite website? Mine is, hands down, Google. You can get to all the other websites from Google. They have great Google art. I can store and share my pictures, use their document makers, have email, and be part of Big Brother all at the same time.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Favorite Day of the Week

Yes, it's Thursday. It's hard to say exactly why I like Thursday best. It's like answering the question, "Why do you like chocolate?" "Because it tastes so good." And Thursdays feel so good.

It's not quite the weekend but it's the day before. The day of anticipation of free time. My days at school on Friday are easy days with service projects and study island computer program instead of regular classes. Thursdays require no planning so Thursday nights are relaxing.

And Thursday has always been a great night for TV. It's hard to top a night with the boys---that would be Magnum PI and Simon & Simon back in the 1980's. The 90's brought in Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, and Murder one. (Do you see a theme emerging?) And the the advent of CSI in 2000.

Tonight I'll enjoy some comfort TV: Bones, CSI & The Mentalist with some comfort food: Butternut squash soup and and sourdough bread. I wish every night were as satisfying as Thursday night.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Fair

Do you remember how exciting it was when the book fair came to your school? Me neither. Maybe we didn’t have book fairs when I went to school. I remember weekly reader book order forms and signing up to get comic books over the summer, but I don’t remember a book fair.

Kids at my school anticipate a book fair like a visit from Santa. Only the book fair is real and they don't have to be good to come to it.

The book fair is a lot of work, although the company would tell you otherwise. I spent 5 hours at school over the weekend getting it set up and maybe a half hour on the phone learning about the new system. We have a cash register and a credit card machine that the “customer” signs on the screen. I’m feeling so high tech.

I ask parent volunteers to help with the book fair, so I volunteer my time too. I normally leave school at noon but have adjusted my other work schedule so I can stay the entire school day most days of the book fair. As if 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily wasn’t enough, I am having a parent night, 2 hours in the evening next Monday.

Why? The kids love it and it breaks up the school routine. Variety is the spice of life! But if I had a book budget, I wouldn't be having a book fair. I have ZERO money to spend on books so a book fair is a good way to get the books for the library that the kids want to read. How else was I going to get the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Atheists, Pets, and the Copyright Law

I received an email from Focus on the Family last week. The subject line read, "Do Pets Go To Heaven?" Nothing like a good title to get you to read an email. This one did not fail to deliver.

There were several scripture verses and Biblical references to support animals being in heaven. But the real pay off was the information about an atheist group who sells insurance policies to Christians promising to care for their pets when their people are taken away in the Rapture. Now, I'm a Christian and I don't know exactly what the end times hold, but I am doing my best to be ready to participate. And I found this story hysterical. I laughed out loud.

I thought my elderly church people would enjoy reading this article. Focus on the Family allows one copy of the article to be printed for personal use. I could have made one copy and passed it around one by one. But I wanted to put it in my weekly church newsletter.

Unlike a certain editor in recent Internet news, I try not to break copyright law and teach others to do likewise. So, I filled out a form asking for permission to reprint the article in my church newsletter. In two days I got an answer. They gave me a one time permission to print 40 copies of the article (the number of newsletters I print each Sunday). They specifically told me not to share it via the Internet, and not only the Internet but also "all other forms of electronic media now or hereafter known to man." I
thought that was funny too.

I can't repost it here for you but I can provide a link to the original article if you'd care to read it. I enjoyed it and I hope you will too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Morning Moment

Reprinted with permission from the author, LaRae Collins

It happens every fall when I go to the greenhouse to buy pansies. I drive to Smith’s Greenhouse thinking, “This year I’ll do only those beautiful (supply your own color) pansies with the (supply another color) faces, Those are my favorites.”

But when I walk in the door and see row upon row of those brilliant flowers, I’m suddenly in a tizzy. There is no way I can choose only one color. True, the blue ones are stunning, but look at those deep purple ones! And the red with the yellow tips . . .oh, my goodness. I look and look and look and put different colors in my basket, then take them out again and replace them with different colors. But after at least 30 minutes , I always choose flats with a mix of all the colors and types together. There is no way I can choose only one. They are all beautiful in their own way.

Rather like our children and our students, I’m thinking. If you’re a parent of more than one child, try to choose your favorite. Choose your favorite grandchild. Choose your favorite student. Choose your favorite friend. Impossible.

Luckily, we don’t have to choose – we have the opportunity to be surrounded by many kinds of people: velvety purple ones with ruffled edges, deep red ones with bright yellow faces, and those delicate ice-blue ones that remind me of the color of Noah’s eyes. All different, all colorful, all beautiful.

Wishing you a colorful, wonderful week.


LaRae is my sister/friend (who is really my husband’s cousin). As a school counselor, she writes Monday Morning Moment to give the faculty a positive start to each week. LaRae is a rainbow of color herself.

A tribute to my sister/friend, LaRae:

An awesome person is she; a
Beautiful and
Caring Christian with a
Delightful flare for design and decoration who is
Funny, fabulous, a friend and family. Her
Generous nature is a gift from God. She's a
Happy hostess, hilarious, holy and honorable. With
Joy, she is
Kind and
Loving. Her kids call her
Mom, she's a mentor to many. She is
Noble and
Open (what you see is what you get);
Perfectly precious,
Quirky and
So smart and
Talented (her Monday Morning Moment makes that obvious);
Ultimately unique, there's only one LaRae.
With a wonderful wit, she is
eXceptional and
Young at heart with a
Zealous zest for life.

She is my sister/friend (who is really my husband’s cousin).


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

Don't judge others or you will be judged. In whatever way you judge others, that is how you will be judged. Why do you look at the tiny bit of sawdust in your friend's eye when you have a big stick of wood in your own eye? Get yourself right before you try to fix someone else. (Not a quote of Matthew 7:1-5 but my own personal retelling.)

When this scripture was being read this morning, I was thinking of the woman behind me, "I hope she's hearing this and taking it to heart. She is so judgmental, always criticizing..." oops! Was that me being called a hypocrite? I have a lot of rough edges to take care of before I start polishing those around me.

The preacher told a story about going to a youth meeting with another pastor. They stopped to eat dinner, Patrick (my preacher) bit into a burrito and the end of it exploded on his shirt. His friend took a picture of Patrick and his stained shirt with his iphone, uploaded it to facebook and by the time they got to the meeting, everyone was laughing and giving Patrick a hard time. Technology puts us out there, ready or not, to be criticized. I thought of my NaBlo friends and how we tend to tell it all. Has anyone ever felt criticized for that?

My job at the public library has helped me to not judge strangers. I'm there to help them so I can't be critical. I treat everyone the same: the young man with so many facial piercings that he looks like he is wearing a metal mask, the overweight woman with the stretch hot pants and tight tank top, the homeless man who hasn't bathed recently, teenagers whose frontal lobes haven't yet fully formed, people from foreign countries who don't speak English well, students who haven't a clue what they are doing in the library, frustrated or angry people; whoever it is, I treat them the same. Their problem, their need is important to me and I will do what I can to help them. I want to give them a glimpse of God, if I can.

Back in my pew at church, my friend behind me doesn't need me to connect with God. She has her own direct connection. We are polar opposites in many ways (Harry Potter, Muslims, the purpose of worship, to mention a few) but probably agree on the basic core issues. And we both need to work on judging others.

The final verse of today's sermon, Matthew 7:12: Treat other people the way you want to be treated. That sums it all up. (In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Laws and the Prophets.)

Easier said than done.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Morning and The Land of Colors

The first words I heard this morning were, "Good Morning Gingie." That's what my six-year-old grandson calls me. Back when he was a babbling baby, he looked at me and cooed, "Gingie." I called everyone to come, "Owen said his first word! He called me Gingie." And that's been my name ever since.

He stays with us most weekends. I love beginning the day with him. "Good morning Owen. Did you have any good dreams last night?"

This is what he told me:

The only dream I can remember is the crazy dream about colors.

You get to Magic Color Land by going through the magic door. There are tiny tiny tiny words above the door. You can hardly see them. They say, "Door to Magic Color Land."

All the colors were there. They were saying hello to each other."Hello Blue.""Hello Green."

Green was the littlest one there, like a baby. I wanted to squeeze him, but not hard. He was so adorable. Blue and yellow are his mom and dad. Blue was the biggest one and I thought yellow was Mom dressed up in yellow. But it wasn't.

The colors look like crayons with arms and legs. If they want to, they can tip over and color a picture, but their tip never goes away.

And then the evil pencil monster showed up and I transformed into Bumblebee and my dinosaur transformed into Optimus Prime. I fought the pencil and threw him to Optimus who transformed back to a dinosaur and chewed the pencil up.

Can we watch PBS Kids now?

I turned on the TV. Thomas and Friends was just starting. What a wonderful way to start the day.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Trudging Through Molasses

Today started in slow motion. The radio weatherman alerted me that it was time to get up, but I didn’t want to. Sleep clouded my brain. I am never a hop-out-of-bed kind of person, but today was even worse.

I let only 10 minutes elapse before I rolled one leg out of bed and sat up. Yawn. Walking, eyes half closed to the closet, I removed a long sleeved shirt and jeans (yeah Friday!); the weatherman said it would be COLD.

In the bathroom: brush teeth, get dressed, wash face, comb hair, look at the clock. It was 7:20. How did so much time go by? And I was hot. The weatherman was wrong.

I put a cooler shirt on that was too low so I had to find a tank top and then different shoes. I was wondering if I’d ever be ready to go to school. Then a hopeful thought crossed my mind: coffee.

I poured a steaming cup of the elixir and sat down at the computer to eat a breakfast bar, check email and be renewed. This is a lovely time of day to me.

A glance at the clock and it was already time to be at school; not leave for school but be at school. My husband likes me to say good-bye, and what’s a few minutes later? It’s not like anybody is going to notice anyway. I said good-bye and then saw my pre-teaching class’s Friday service project. I bagged it up and got to the car when I realized I didn’t have my school bag and I needed the graded papers in the bag because grades went in today for progress reports.

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you keep trying and trying to get somewhere but the more you try the less progress you make? Maybe that’s just my dream and it was coming true.

I walked into the school library and it was only 8:05 a.m. I live really close to school. Within 30 minutes, rain was pouring down and wind was blowing so hard I was sure we'd soon find ourselves in Oz. The temperatures dropped 15 degrees, the weatherman was right after all. The cold and rain kept the kids in their classrooms. I’m in a stand alone building so they’d have to get wet to get to the library. That was OK because I had all those grades to post and some things to grade online.

High school kids had an essay due for English today which means they all waited until today to type it, some even to write it. When the rain stopped, I was overrun with English scholars. A few stayed past noon, which is when I usually leave, and when the bell rang at 12:10 for lunch, they wanted to keep working. I said I had to go but let one boy print his paper first. He’d logged on using his TechEd log on so there was no printer installed and no printer could be installed. I had him save it to a floppy disk. His computer thought it was saved, but my computer couldn’t read it. So we borrowed a flash drive and he saved his essay to it but when I opened the flash drive on my computer and printed the file that was there, he said, “This isn’t the right thing.” He went back to the computer he was using and tried to find his essay. It wasn’t anywhere to be found. He probably closed the file without saving it on the computer after he saved it to the floppy disk. Learning experience. I was in the middle of my dream again. Will I ever leave school?

I pulled into my driveway with ½ hour left until I needed to leave for my public library job. I put my school bag, heavy with school books, over my shoulder and the strap broke dropping the contents in the mud (remember it had been raining?) and splattered mud all over the bottom of my pants.

Things to do: Pick the books and other items out of the mud, get other stuff out of my car and into the house, change clothes, eat lunch.

I got everything carried into the house and the books cleaned off and laid out to dry. But what to wear? New pants which required a different top and different shoes, but not the first ones I put on. It was like I was moving through molasses again. I’d taken up residence in my closet.

I finally settled on something with only time remaining to grab a carton of ricotta cheese, an apple and a fresh cup of coffee.

I didn’t have to rush to the public library, I had plenty of time to get there. Time returned to normal and it was a good afternoon with my coworkers and the public.

A butternut squash soup to go from Atlanta Bread (tasty, warm and drinkable) on the way home and an evening with the grandson who wants to play “Go Fish” after his bath. Clothes in the washer and dryer, I am lethargically finishing this blog post, wondering, “Will I ever make it to bed tonight?”


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day in a Small Town

We had school as usual today, and it was wonderful.

At 10:00 a.m. the elementary students presented a musical Veterans Day program. Parents, grandparents, veterans, community members, junior high and high school students, staff and faculty filled the auditorium to enjoy singing, skits, and recitations all in honor of our veterans. There’s nothing like watching little kids perform.

We were about 20 minutes into third hour when the program was over. I have 7th grade reading third hour and had planned a fun day of Veterans Day activities for them. We started off by reading a play called “Who Is A Veteran” by Ms. Maggi Call in readers theater style. It tells the basics about Veterans Day and ends by singing a patriotic song. I thought we’d skip that part but when I asked the students if they wanted to sing a song together, anticipating a thunderous “NO!” one boy said, "Sure,” and started singing God Bless America. We all joined him. Fun.

Next I read a picture book to them called “The Wall” by Eve Bunting. It’s a poignant story about the Vietnam Wall and it made me cry. I had the kids take an AR test on the book afterwards, because they like to do that and it’s an easy grade for them and me.

After testing we were short on time so I let the students choose their next activity: make a stand alone paper star, color a Veterans Day picture, do a puzzle, write an acrostic poem or play Vets Day games on the Department of Veterans Affairs web site. No surprise, they stayed on the computers.

The bell rang and we hadn’t made a dent in what I’d planned to do. But that’s OK because we had fun and that was the objective. Mission accomplished.

Happy Veterans Day to all!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Joy of being a Public Librarian

I planned to write this post today because Wednesday is MY night at the library. I started making a list of the reasons I love being a reference librarian:

1. I get free books from the drop book cart.
2. As an employee I don’t have to pay overdue fines.
3. Patrons introduce me to new books (Odd Thomas, for example, one of my all time favorites.)
4. It makes me feel good to help people, especially when they appreciate it.
5. People are funny, make me laugh, tell me interesting things, enlighten me, and bless me.
6. You meet every kind of person at the public library. A great place to find characters for your book.

And then at the library, it wasn’t even 5:00 p.m., and everything started going wrong.

A boy's keyboard wasn’t working. I couldn't fix it, Afzal couldn't fix it.

A whole row of patron computers went off-line. No Internet! Oh no! I couldn't fix it, Afzal couldn't fix it.

The reservation station computer, the one that controls the whole computer lab, started deleting people from the waiting list. That's totally outside my area of expertise. Afzal couldn't fix it either.

It was 15 minutes past Afzal's quitting time so he rebooted the reservation station computer and said goodbye. It was quitting time for the computer too, it never did revive.

It was a long night of frustrated and disappointed people. Do I still feel the joy of public library work? You bet I do. A challenge is invigorating. My peace keeping skills were ignited. God used me as a vessel to show His love to the Wednesday night library patrons, letting them know that their problems matter, that they matter. And yeah, that makes it a great night.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Senior Citizen on Tuesday

Going around the circuit at Curves, the “trainer” talked about shopping at Ross. She got some extraordinary Calvin Klein sheets there for $15.00. Hmmm, I need new sheets. “I like to shop at Ross if I have time to search and find things,” someone else chimed in. I enjoy a good shopping hunt. Then Mary Alice told about how she bought and returned an item three times (a different size each time) before she found the one she liked. I almost never return things, too much trouble.

After the cool down stretch, I headed my car to Ross. Oh yeah, I’m gonna get some new sheets. At Ross I went straight to where the sheets used to be, but they weren't there. The hunt was on.

I found some cute glasses to give as Christmas gifts and a set for Mari’s birthday. Perusing the aisles, a Bumblebee Transformer throw blanket caught my eye. $5.00! Gotta have that for Owen when we snuggle at my house. And, oh my gosh! There’s a giraffe print blanket for my giraffe room. Toss that in the cart too. Now, where could the sheets be?

I figured the sheets couldn't be too far from the blankets, but before I found them I came upon towels. Not that I need towels, but I have this fantasy plan to redecorate my bathroom in black and white. It is blue and white right now. We didn’t get around to painting last summer, but is there any reason I can’t accessorize with black and white even though the walls are blue? I didn’t think so. There, staring me in the face, were white towels with a black pattern for only $2.99. I got a pair. I am not one to pass up a bargain. I got the purple wash cloths too, for the upstairs bathroom when Mari visits. Maybe I should decorate that bathroom in purple. I’ve already got the wash cloths.

Just around the corner, voila, sheets. Here’s where I really used my search, hunt and find skills. It took some time but at last I found the perfect sheets. Mine were $27.00, 400 thread count, perfect color.

The clerk rang up all my treasures and it was less than I had calculated in my mind. Maybe something was on sale and not marked. Or maybe I can't do math in my head. Whatever, the bill was about $20 less than I anticipated. Woot! Woot! I did a little happy dance in my mind. (I can pull that off.)

Then she broke into my party and asked, “Are you a senior?”


“Are you over 55?” Of all things, she noticed my age.

I told her, “Yes, I am.”

“Today is senior discount day. You get an extra 10% off your purchase." The bill went even lower. Yee Haw! Another silent celebration. It's not so bad getting old.

Note to self: shop at Ross on Tuesdays.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Three Friends

The three of us used to work together at the public library. Susanna was there first then Ann got the children's librarian job after I filled in one summer. Later I took a temporary part-time position joining Susanna at the reference desk, a temporary position I might add that has lasted 16 years.

Being friends with the people you work with is kind of like family. You don't get to pick either one but somehow, most of the time, it just works out.

Ann left the library first to become a library director in a neighboring town. Then Susanna retired. I'm one of the few left from back in the day. Ann recently retired and since I am working half days at school and Wed-Thu at the library, we all have time to get together for a monthly Library Ladies Lunch. Today was such a day.

I look forward to our lunches both to catch up with my friends and enjoy their company and to eat Chinese food at a delightfully abundant buffet. Susanna starts off with little sea food and rice delicacies that she eats with chopsticks. Ann and I fill our plates with chicken, beef, vegetables, mushrooms in sauce...and we eat it with our forks. Second go round always includes soup and salad and an egg roll. Susanna gets some of what Ann & I ate at first. Ann & Susanna get ice cream for dessert. I don't usually eat sugar but I had coffee with lunch today and Ann's almond cookie looked like the perfect compliment to my cuppo Joe. So I got an almond cookie and a little ball of bread that had been rolled in sesame seeds with a gooey glob of fudge in the center. All I can say is YUMM-O!

What do three 60 something ladies talk about over lunch? Grandchildren of course. We each have one grandchild. That's enough for Susanna, but Ann and I are hoping for more. Who will be the first to have a second?

We are all big reader so we talk about the books we're reading. Ann is reading romantic fiction from the early 20th century. Susanna is more of a non-fiction reader and I'm almost exclusively a mystery fan. Right now I am reading HOLD TIGHT by Harlan Coben (listening to it on playaway usually while walking), IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote (listening on CD in the car) and GETTING THINGS DONE: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (an actual book).

We also talk about our kids and husbands. Susanna's husband is the chair of the drama department at Cameron University, my husband is an attorney/small town circuit judge, and Ann's husband owns his own business (auto repair). Our kids are all grown and have jobs. Ann and I both have daughters who live in Lawton. Ann's son lives in Idaho, Susanna's son & his wife live in Los Angeles, and my other daughter and her husband live in Baton Rouge.

Religion is one topic we don't talk about much. Susanna is a-religious, perhaps deist. On the other side is Ann who is a Unitarian, she believes everything. I'm the normal one in the middle (laugh if you must).

Let's stay away from politics too. Susanna is on the left, I'm on the right and Ann gets to be in the middle on this one.

Friends, we're the same in many ways and different in others. That's more than OK, it's good. I am so thankful for the friends that I have.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sundays in my City

I've been waiting for Sunday to get here so I could write this post.

I first saw Sunday in my City as a post by Maria Perry Mohan. She got the idea from Unknown Mami.

The town in which I live is by no means a city and has very little aesthetic beauty. I'll make a slide show to prove my point. During the week, the kids are at school, the post office and cafe are open, farmers are working...but on Sunday there isn't much going on. It is a day of rest after all.

The town of Indiahoma is little bigger than one square mile yet we have 5 churches: Assembly of God, First Baptist Church, Church of Christ, Mennonite Brethren Church and I attend the United Methodist Church. That's where most of the people are on Sunday morning, sometimes Sunday afternoon and evening too.

I knew I'd have a good story to tell after today's sermon, and I was right. The scripture verse came from Haggai 1:15-2:9. Whose ever heard of Haggai? Can you find it quickly in your Bible? It only has two chapters with a total of 48 verses. If you ever need a unique character name for a story, look no further than Haggai. How about Zerubbabel, Shealtiel or Jehozadak? Our pastor told us that Haggai's prophecy took place August 29-December 19, 520 BC. I'm just taking his word on that point.

The back story: Solomon's temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC and the people were living in exile. Many years later, the Persians defeated the Babylonians and sent the Israelites home giving them supplies and materials to rebuild the temple. The people had been mourning the loss of their magnificent temple, little did they know an even better temple was in their future.

This is where Haggai steps in to tell them that God says, "It's time to get to work. I am with you."

It's time for us to get busy as well. God is with us. We can remember the past, the good ole days, but we need to look to the future, even better times. Oh the places we'll go! Change can be good, so you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone for the times they are changin'.

Our service closed by singing "Let Peace Begin With Me" as the acolytes (the most precious 2-year-old girl and her mom) carried out the light of Christ.

What goes on in your town on Sundays?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Copyright Education

I read an interesting blog post today written by NaBloPoMo blogger, Kim Ulmanis. The article is about a so-called editor who used material written by Monica Gaudio, and others, without permission. If an editor doesn't know any better, what can we expect from the rest of the population?

I hope you will read Kim's article. It's amazing what the spread of information on the web can accomplish.

Part of my job as a school librarian is to educate students and teachers about copyright law. It is an incredibly complex set of rules and guidelines with many gray areas. I could have done a November Copyright Blog Theme. After thirty copyright posts, I'm sure there'd still be questions. Many school districts keep a copyright lawyer on call to answer questions as they arise. If you don't have a lawyer, how do you know what to do? Do you err on the side of safety or do you err on the side of advancing/enhancing education? Fair Use is part of the copyright law that allows teachers to use copyrighted material for educational purposes. It has its own set of rules and guidelines to follow.

My stapler isn't copyrighted, but I appreciate it when a person asks to borrow it before they take it. When I was getting my masters degree in library education, my professor told us that when he was a high school librarian, he dipped his stapler and all other school "possessions" in bright neon orange paint. That way there was no doubt which stapler was his, no matter where it was taken and left.

When a person takes a photograph and posts it on the Internet, that picture is not free for the taking. The photographer owns the copyright and if you want to use it, you need to ask. It's more serious than borrowing a stapler without asking. Copyright infringement can result in fines and/or jail time, borrowing a stapler rarely does.

New technology has made it easy to steal other's creative work but at the same time it has created a new mind set: it's good to share. Creative Commons (Google it) allows a creator to give permission to use his/her creation. There are different levels: You can use my creation but not change it, with or without attribution. You can take my work and change it, create something new from it, with or without making money. It goes from total unrestricted use to very restricted reuse. Artists have to go to Creative Commons and register their work to make it "legal" for others to use their creations. Did you know that you can do an advanced Google search for pictures that have been licensed for reuse by Creative Commons?

Thanks Kim for the inspiration for today's blog post. It's not what I had planned, but I like it.

Now, let me have it, what do you think about copyright law?


Friday, November 5, 2010

What's Wrong With Education

I met a girl at a workshop last month whose name I cannot remember but I haven't forgotten her story. It was just part of our lunch conversation, getting to know each other, but I am reminded of it every time I hear someone gripe about education, say teachers need to be held accountable, that the United States is lagging behind other countries around the world in test scores...

After she graduated from college she began teaching at an inner-city school in Oklahoma City. The kids were poor, there was a lot of gang activity and fighting at school, the administration didn't back her up if she had a problem at school...it was like the opening scenes of an inspirational movie about education (Freedom Writers, for example) but the happy ending never came.

It didn't take her long to decide that teaching wasn't the job for her. She resigned at the end of the school year and got a job in an office. A few years later, she saw an ad in the newspaper about a new charter school hiring teachers. She applied, got the job and was back in education.

She has worked at the charter school for several years now getting paid below state base salary (and Oklahoma's base salary is 49th in the nation, next to the lowest teacher pay in the country), teaching children in poverty in the same basic area as her first school, but now she loves it. So what's different? These parents care about the education of their children. There is a lengthy application that parents must fill out to get their children considered for admission to the school. Students are then chosen at random from the applications. At school there are rules to follow and expectations to be met. Students need to be punctual, well rested, homework done, at school in time to eat or have breakfast at home and tend to business in class with minimal disruptions. Unlike public school, if these rules and expectations are ignored, the student loses his/her place in the school and it is given to the next student on the list. These parents want their children in this school and they do what it takes to keep them there.

I've thought a lot about her charter school story. How can we get all public school parents to care about their kids' education? Do we have to legislate that parents set a bedtime for their children and make sure they have breakfast before school starts? How is it fair that kids who want to learn have to be in class with kids who just want to disrupt the learning of others?

I don't have the answers to these questions but I do know teachers are not to blame. Teachers work hard and do their best to prepare students to be productive citizens in the future.

I would love to hear about how schools work where you live, especially in other parts of the world.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Students Teaching

Students teach teachers everyday, be it a new perspective on an old subject, a bit of information that builds on the content or even just how to let snarkiness wash over you without a negative reaction. Practice makes perfect!

I teach a class that is all about teaching students what it's like to be a teacher. The official class name is ACE (Academic Commitment to Education) but we call it pre-teaching. This week the students are teaching each other something that they know how to do: cake decorating, making a god's eye, juggling, performing the perfect volleyball spike and the procedures for being an indispensable library aide. Should school really be this much fun?

Research says that you learn better when you are having fun. If that is true, my ACE class will be education geniuses by the end of the year.

Do you love your job? Tell me about it.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday at the Library

My life at the public library started back in the early 1990's. The children's librarian got a job as a reference librarian in OK City and left Lawton in May, the same month that summer reading club starts. I don't blame her, being a children's librarian is a lot of work. Through a comedy of errors, I ran the reading program that summer and was asked to apply for the job permanently but I didn't want to give up my school job.

Awhile later, I can't remember if it was a few months or a few years, one of the parttime reference librarians was diagnosed with cancer. I filled in for Linda while she took chemo and I discovered I love being a reference librarian. I kept working at the library even after Linda was well again. I was on call, working whenever a librarian had to miss work. I didn't have a specific schedule, every week was different. A time came when I got my own 4 hours every week. Wednesday night, 5-9 became my official hours at the library. I was excited. I've been working those Wednesday night hours for 17 years.

I'm reading a book about teaching called TEACH LIKE YOUR HAIR'S ON FIRE by Rafe Esquith. He praises libraries: "Parents need to take their kids to the library. For many families this has become a vanishing activity. ... We are trying to establish a set of values in our children; it helps when they are surrounded by others who share a fervor for reading. At the library, children can browse and make discoveries that wouldn't be possible online; at the same time they can interact with readers of all ages ... The best way to combat the indifference that surrounds our children is to take them to a place where intelligence, enthusiasm, and a joy for reading are standard operating procedure. The library is the place to begin."

I love how this book brought my two jobs together. And at a time when many people are out of work, I think it is miraculous that I have two jobs that I love.

I'd like to hear about the public library where you live.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day, Oklahoma Style

November 2---Election Day

Dju vote? (Did you vote?)

Last night we had a family get together to go over the state questions and the people running for state offices. My husband is a registered Democrat, my daughter is a member of NEA and I am neither of those things but we didn't argue much because we are all basically conservative Christians at heart.

Beth is still registered to vote in Indiahoma so she and Owen spent the night with us. Beth got up early this morning, voted at 7:00 a.m. and then left for Lawton to drop Owen off at school and go on to her job.

Later in the morning I had a discussion with my pre-teaching class about the voting process and what was on the ballot today. That was when I realized that we had misread one of the questions. My family was against the proposal so thought we'd vote no, we don't want that thing to happen. But it was worded "This measure prohibits courts from..." so a yes vote makes that thing not happen. Geez, does it have to be so difficult?

After our voting Q & A session, we went on a field trip to the polling site which is just two blocks from the school in the town "mini mall" (a cafe, the town office, a game room, an antique shop, a hair salon and the Senior Citizen's Center which is where people go to vote). I love to teach things in a "real life" situation. I was allowed to take my ballot out of the polling room to show the kids what it looks like and how it gets filled out. I couldn't complete the entire front and back of the ballot with everyone looking over my shoulder so I went back into the voting room. When I came out, my students were playing pool and drinking Cokes. I'd call that a successful class field trip.

The polls are closed now in Oklahoma but it will still be awhile before we know the final results. Election coverage is on all the major networks. I've had my fill of politics for one day. I'm going to go watch Glee.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy November!

November at last! It’s like lent after Mari Gras. The month of thankfulness following the month of Gimme Gimme Gimme. Self indulgent partying turns eyes to others, a time to reflect on our blessings and find ways to be a blessing.

Don't get me wrong, I love October with the cooling temperatures and the excitement of Halloween, costumes and candy. It was a wild, extended weekend of Halloween fun this year. Friday we had our Annual Halloween Carnival (to be PC it is now called School Carnival) with games and food and ending with a Carnival King and Queen Coronation. Small town, big fun. This is our main fundraiser that is a lot of work but pays off in many ways.

Most of the towns around us trick-or-treated on Saturday, Lawton (the third/fourth largest city in Oklahoma) included. I worked at the Lawton Public Library on Saturday until 6:00 p.m. and got caught in the trick-or-treat mayhem trying to get home. I made the mistake of taking a "short cut" through a wealthy neighborhood. Cars parked bumper to bumper on both sides of every street, streets flooded with costumed people filling the sidewalks and flowing down the middle of the streets.

Sunday evening we had trick-or-treat in my town. I wore a Halloween T-shirt with matching pajama pants (might as well be comfortable) to hand out candy to my local ghosts and goblins. I do enjoy seeing the kids in their costumes and especially the very little ones. My church is having a food drive that ends next Saturday so I gave fliers about it to parents who came to the door with their kids. Our church teenagers went trick-or-treating for cans of food and left fliers at the houses they visited. A nice transition from October to November.

There's a lot to look forward to in November, including Thanksgiving and my daughter's 30th birthday which she will celebrate here. Can't wait! One more important November event that starts right now...back to daily blogging, reconnecting with my NaBlo friends, hoping to make new ones.

Happy November!