Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Day

It's the last day of August and I've blogged everyday.

This isn't the easiest post. If I sound maudlin, I'm not. My desktop is stuck on the blue DELL screen again, fortunately my netbook is working. I'd hate not to post on the last day of the month after religiously posting 30 days in a row.

I don't intend to post every day in September but I am going to keep doing 5 Minute Friday. It's really fun. You should google thegypsymama if you haven't tried it before.

I also like doing short answers to all the prompts on one day and will probably continue that also.

I will be checking in to see who is posting in September.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Today is Owen's birthday.

Put another candle on my birthday cake,
Come on and take
some birthday cake.
Put another candle on my birthday cake,
I'm another year old today.

(If you're as old as I am and grew up in Southern California, you might remember that birthday song from the kids TV program "Sheriff John."

Owen's birthday party with friends will be this Saturday. We commemorated the actual day of his birth with a family dinner at Burger King. Owen wanted to go to McDonald's but his mom refused. She worked there too long during college and can barely stand to go into a McD's and will NEVER eat there. So Burger King was Owen's second choice. They've got good toys in their kids meals.

We ate our assorted fast foods and let Owen be himself: funny, quirky, energetic and excited to be king of the day. (He has the Burger King crown to prove it.) Owen's teacher and her husband ate at Burger King too. She came over for a short chat and told us Owen is a great kid. Like we didn't already know that.

There are 27 first graders in Owen's class. His teacher has her hands full. Beth took 30 cupcakes to school today for a special treat in the afternoon and Owen got to wear a birthday bracelet all day. I never got him to tell me if he got any other special privileges for being the birthday boy.

After Burger King, Pa went home while Beth, Owen & I went back to their apartment for a swim. You may have heard about Oklahoma's drought and three digit temperatures every day. A nice dip in a pool takes the sting out of the dry, scorched surroundings.

Dripping wet, I kissed my 7-year-old good-bye; he was still in party mode. I hope Beth will be able to get him to sleep tonight. He is excited about receiving a gift from Auntie M tomorrow and then his birthday party on Saturday. The fun rages on!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Morning Moment

Introducing my husband's cousin, my dear sister friend (we aren't really related, I just married into a great family) and writer extraordinaire: LaRae Collins. She sends a Monday Morning Moment email most weeks to the staff at her school in Texas. I begged to be on the list and she acquiesced. I think she should have her own blog, but until she does, I am going to share her wit and wisdom on my blog.

Without further ado, my very own guest blogger, LaRae Collins and Monday Morning Moment:

Some people think an adventure is something exotic and dangerous, like a safari or diving with sharks. But my adventures occur in unexpected places like the freezer section at Walmart. Daughter Kelli is often with me and since these events happen so often, we began saying, “Always an adventure” or “AAA” for short.

Little did I know that a quick trip to the Electra lumber store after school yesterday would turn into my most embarrassing adventure.

I needed a couple of small hooks for a project and a gentleman showed me which ones would likely work best. He took them to the wooden counter and motioned for a lady to come take my money. As I was digging change from my purse, the lady looked at me, then began saying, “Oh, oh, OH, OH” louder and louder. Then she pointed at my neck with each “OH.” I finally said, “What?” and she whisper-shouted “SPIDER!” At that instant, I felt it – scurrying from my neck down the front of my shirt.

I began a crazy spider-dance (it’s a miracle I didn’t make it rain!), but no arachnid appeared on the floor. Fear overcame modesty and I turned to Brenda’s dad Mr. Thompson who was standing beside me and said, “Mr. Thompson, turn your back ‘cause I’m comin’ out of this shirt.” Without looking up, he said, “Oh, ok” and started to turn. But the lady pointed around the corner to another room and told me to go in there.

Seconds later after a vigorous shaking of a shirt that was no longer on my body, there still was no spider. Thank goodness. Then I realized I couldn’t see my back, and the spider might be crouched there, just waiting to crawl his furry legs back up my back. Holding my shirt in front of me, I leaned out to ask the lady to check my back. But at that moment, the salesman, who had missed the first excitement, walked by peeked in to see what was going on. There I was, covered up, but obviously not wearing a shirt. He disappeared faster than the spider had!

Yesterday marked the beginning of our new adventure at school. There will be times when challenges seem to fall from the sky and make us squirm and want to do a crazy-dance. There will be days we feel like our best efforts are ineffective and we’ll wonder if WalMart is hiring greeters. But I am confident that miracle moments – those times you know you are where you are supposed to be – will outnumber the hard times. They always do. Let the adventure begin!
AAA, LaRae

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No Comments

I just scrolled through all of the blog posts on the first page of nablopomo's "blogs" page. Every single one of them ended with "no comments." It's been the same all month long, unless I left a comment. Other months when I blogged daily and posted to nablopomo, I met and made friends through comments.

I only bring this up to encourage people to read and react and leave comments on other writers' blog posts. It's great to be more of a community and less of a mass of individuals posting solo.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Prompt List Saturday

Monday, August 22, 2011 - What character would you want to have over for dinner and what would you cook?
  • I would like to have dinner with Odd Thomas, but not at my house. He’s a fry cook in a diner in Pico Mundo, California; so he can cook for me. His specialty is pancakes and I'm quite fond of pancakes. A pancake breakfast for dinner will be a super celebration for me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - Would you rather be transported magically into an imaginary world or a different time period in this world?

  • Since I'm having breakfast with Odd, I may as well be transported magically to Southern California and save the air fare and the hassle of flying.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - What book did you always take out from the school library?

  • When I was in elementary school there were no school libraries. In high school I was not aware that there were books to read in the school library, I thought everything was for reports. But we always went to the public library. The book I remember from my childhood is The Bobbsey Twins. (Aside: I went to to check the spelling of Bobbsey and saw a 75th anniversary three book set (1979) with vintage reproductions of the original cover art. I remember those covers. Nostalgia, I ordered the set for someone very special.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 - What do you think about the act of banning books?

  • Banning books is not an option. There are books that I would never read, would never let my children read and would advise other people not to read; but I would never try to take away a person's right to choose their own reading material. While on the subject, prepare to celebrate Banned Books Week the last week of September.

Friday, August 26, 2011 - Would you rather publish a work of fiction or a work of non-fiction?

  • I would feel more comfortable publishing nonfiction, perhaps a newspaper column. It's what I already do, writing informative newsletters for my school, church and public library. My blog posts are essentially non-fiction being loosely memoirish.
On that note, I have a short episode to share. My 6-year old grandson was in the bath tub. I asked him to leave the water in the tub when he was done so I could rinse my feet off in his water. Then we had this end-of-the-bath conversation:
  • GS: Gingie, will you put this plug up?
  • Me: No, remember you were supposed to leave the plug in so I can rinse my feet off in your water.
  • GS: Oh yeah. Gingie, I needed to go to the bathroom so I just peed in the bathwater.
  • Me: Hand me the plug.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Older

It’s Friday. Take a breath.
Two days of rest are headed toward us like bright and beautiful waves of hope.
Let’s write, shall we? Without wondering if it’s right or not.
Take five minutes and remember what it feels like to weave words together...without worrying about how they're edited or perfected.
I'm older than I've ever been before.
I guess that is true for everyone, but when you are 20, older than 19 it just doesn't have the same meaning as being in your 60's. And I know ladies in their 70's and 80's would roll their eyes at me, being only in my 60's.
It's a new perspective on life. Life that has an end nearer in sight than ever before. And I wonder about the older ones , the closer ones, and how they feel about older.
Older is also my grandson. His birthday is just days away and he will be one year older, seven. Seven is a perfect number, no? A perfect number for a perfect grandson.
We all grow older, it's the way it is. Sometimes older is better (wine and me). I've always loved antiques, I just never thought I'd be one.

I love Fridays. Such an easy day to write.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do you believe in Gremlins?

Sometimes things run so smoothly in the computer lab and then there are times like tonight.
  1. A teenager told me her mouse and keyboard weren't working. I fiddled with the mouse, rebooted the machine, unplugged and plugged in USB cords...the light shone in the mouse again, for awhile. 10 minutes later the teen was back at my desk again with the same problem. I turned off the machine and logged her on to another one.
  2. A patron was trying to log on to a computer using her library card number but when striking a number key, it displayed the character above the number instead of the number. No, she wasn't holding down the shift key. The keypad wouldn't work at all, and yes, Num Lock was on.
  3. A man had a 62 page print job. He put in $6.20 but only got 6 pages and a paper with an error message on it. I have never seen that before. I had him send it to the printer again and I bypassed the payment. Same result. Next he skipped the bad page and printed pages 8-62 and got three more pages, so he skipped page 11 and printed 12-61. Finally he got the whole document printed minus the error pages (which by the way were all similar with tables and dollar amounts).
  4. All night long people put their money in the printer, the printer gobbled it up but would not spit out their prints or even give them back their money. Sarah and I were continually bypassing the coin machine to print each person's papers for them.
  5. We had two computers that were on and displaying the standard screen message "Available for use." But on the control computers these two computers appeared to be off. Since they were off, according to the control computer, no one could use them. I rebooted both of them which restored their on status with the control computers.
  6. A lady registered at the control computer, it assigned her a computer, she went to sign in at that computer and got the message, "You are already logged on another computer." She came to the desk and Sarah checked, she was reserved for computer 20 but computer 20 was not going to cooperate. I don't even know how Sarah resolved that one.
There were other examples and here is why I'm not going to add the rest. My computer just freaked out, stopped working and would not let me close open programs or shut it down. My blogpost disappeared in compose view but I could still see the html version (thank the Lord for autosave). I did a hard shut down, not knowing if the computer would come back to life.

I got out my lap top and had a race between the two computers. Who can boot up first? Who can open the Internet first? Who can display blogger first? The old desk top won. I'm going to get this posted before it freaks out again. I'm quite sure it will because the Gremlins seem to have followed me home.

I'll shut down the computers for the night hoping the Gremlins will take their mischief elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Undead and Unwed

Where do I get my reading material? From library patrons, of course. My library doesn't have any of the books in this series. We, as a general rule, don't buy mass market paperbacks. The patron telling me about these books as she filled out an Inter-Library Loan form convinced me to taste a bit of MaryJanice Davidson's "Queen Betsy" series.

I read the first book in the series (got it through Inter-library Loan myself) and thought I probably wouldn't read any more. It was fun, I laughed, it had exciting parts but there wasn't any real mystery to it. It just wasn't meaty enough.

But since I turned the book back into the library, I've started missing Betsy (AKA: Elizabeth Taylor). I wonder what antics she'll be up to next. Did we become friends without me knowing it? I'll probably read the whole series.

I don't care for chick lit, romance novels or vampires (I read 1/3 of Twilight and took it back to the library). This book has been called all three. There must be something else about it that got under my skin. A Booklist review included, "Sexy, steamy, and laugh-out-loud funny, Davidson's chick-lit foray into the paranormal is delightful."

Whatever the reason, Betsy is like a goofy, offbeat friend who is fun to be with and doesn't require much from you other than to enjoy her company.

Has anybody else read this? What did you think?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Girl and Her Shoes

Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Versace, Dior, Miu Miu, Louboutin...
...but really I was thinking Sketchers. They've become my favorite shoes since all of my Clarks fell apart. I've bought new Sketcher sandals every summer for several years (usually in multiple colors). They are so comfortable and easy to walk in.

This year I tried a pair of Sketcher Shape-Ups. I was in Ross on senior discount Tuesday. I like to check the shoes for my size. I rarely find anything, but on this occasion there was a black pair of Sketcher Shape-Ups in my size. They didn't look as weird as the colored ones I'd seen so I tried them on. COMFORT! They were $50 which was 1/2 off the full price in shoe stores.

It took a bit of practice to get used to them. The sole is thick and curved, I thought I'd lose my balance a couple of times. But now they are so comfortable. They make me want to move and keep moving. If I wear another flat pair of sneaker (like when I forget my Shape-Ups and have to wear the spare pair of tennies in my car trunk) they feel so inferior, like there is no support at all. And they used to be my good work out shoes.

I have three pairs. I went back to Ross and found a blue and silver pair. I don't always want to wear black. And another time I was at Dillard's and they had a pink and silver pair on clearance for $35. I snapped those puppies up. I haven't found any other colors in my size on sale, but when I do, I'll be buying those too.

What shoes do you love?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Marvelous Monday

It was a good day at school today. Granted, it was only the third day of school, but days one and two weren't all that good, and it's Monday. Is there really anything good about Monday?

My first hour computer class worked and got their assignments done. Three girls even did an extra credit assignment. I have two terrific library aides that hour who are getting me caught up.

A new girl stopped by the library because she couldn't find her classroom. I was feeling a little verklempt realizing this student came to me for help. We made several stops but did finally find her classroom.

As my pre-teaching class was leaving today, a boy told me that his schedule for the rest of the day was pretty much down hill. I said I was glad pre-teaching was the peak of his day. He said, "Oh yeah, this is my best class." We did have fun today.

The pre-K class came to the library for short visit. Their teacher was taking them on a tour of the school, checking everything out. It was wonderful to meet these brand new students.

I enjoyed time with elementary students who came to the library today. Two 6th grade girls left a sticky note on my computer monitor that said, "We love Mrs. Perry. Naomi and Emma" That made it worth coming to school today.

25 kids poured into the library last hour for a new class: service learning. They were energetic and wound up. I gave them projects to work on and they were productive like a room of noisy machines cranking out product. I may have to get ear plugs, but I think I'm going to enjoy this class.

Good days, bad days, ups and downs; build on the ups while avoiding the downs.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday at my Church

After the most exhausting first two days of school ever followed by a full Saturday at the public library, I was worn out. I wasted little time getting into bed wondering how in the world I was going to get ready for school by Monday morning.

Sunday morning I got up in plenty of time for my regular routine of coffee, breakfast and Jerry Seinfeld shorts, only my computer wouldn't boot up. It was stuck on a blue DELL screen. I hit every key combination I could think of, nothing. Hard reboot, nothing but the blue DELL screen. I set up my netbook in front of the malfunctioning desktop and watched Jerry. He was little comfort this morning. The blue DELL screen was annoying me so I pushed the monitor off button.

I read a few emails then shut down the netbook and turned the desktop monitor back on. It had booted up. Well, Hallelujah! Will miracles never cease?

Time to get ready for church. I never considered staying home from church. I could have used the extra time to plan lessons for this week. In my grumpy mood I could've had a good pity party. But I go to church and I knew the answers to my woes would probably be waiting for me there.

It's hard to be a teacher right now when so many people think they could do the job better, but they either don't have the education to qualify for the job or they are working in some other field and would never give up their mega-bucks for a teacher's salary. A friend told me that education may be the only thing Republicans and Democrats agree on, that our education system is a failure and teachers are to blame. I don't really agree with that but I also don't want start ranting and raving.

I walked to church, opened the door and was greeted as always by Jim's smiling face. He hands out our bulletins every Sunday and I am sure he makes everyone feel like they are the most important person to walk through that door.

Next I joined a group signing cards at the back table. We have a card ministry, doing a small act to cheer or comfort people who are hurting. I saw a friend who had been gone on vacation. I was so glad to see her that she got a tremendous bear hug. I got gifts from her trip abroad to Iowa and Minnesota. She said it rains there. What a lovely place that must be.

More smiles and hugs, people happy to see each other, then church started. The hymns, prayers, children's sermon and scriptures surrounded us in positive energy.

People sharing their prayer requests brought things into perspective. A wife had to leave to go see her father in the hospital, not knowing if she would make it there in time. Other people mourning the loss of a family member. A two-year-old child needing a kidney transplant. A daughter needs stint surgery because arteries are clogged throughout her body. My problems pale by comparison. God is sufficient to take care of us all, why do I get so bogged up?

The preacher's sermon was based on 1st Corinthians 12:12-31 about how every part of the body is important. He used teachers as an illustration of people who find the gifts in others and bring them to fruition making it clear that every single person is important. He went overboard with his praise, but how refreshing after the onslaught of criticism.

The service ended with "A Commissioning of Our Teachers and Educators." What a blessing. All of us who work in education came to the front of the church. The responsive reading began like this:

Pastor: As these members of our community once again begin their work among the children and youth of Oklahoma, we pray the blessings of God and this community upon their endeavors.

People: We recognize you as ambassadors of this congregation in ministry with and to the children and youth of our schools and dedicate you to service in the name of Jesus Christ. Through our prayers and our service we will be united with you in your work. May God richly bless your labors.

One by one, the pastor painted crosses on our foreheads with oil and spoke a blessing to each one.

I feel empowered and renewed and ready to make Monday the real first day of the new school year.

May God richly bless your labors as well.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Prompts List

  • Monday, August 15, 2011 - Where is your favorite place to read?
The bathtub is my new best place to read. It's the only place I can lock the door and be assured no one will bother me. I can read as long as I want, which is usually until I can no longer stand the sight of my wrinkly toes.

  • Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - Do you prefer to own books or borrow them from a friend or the library?
I would rather borrow a book than buy it. I'm at the library all the time, we can interlibrary-loan anything that we don't own and a perk of being a public librarian is I don't have to pay over due fines. Since I don't generally read a book more than once, there's just no need to own it.

I do, however, buy special books. After reading The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth, I had to go buy a copy to reread and mark up and quote to people.

For some reason I have stacks of books sitting around waiting to be read. They are not borrowed from a library and they do not belong to any friend or family. I can't explain it.

  • Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - Talk about your favorite bookstore.
My favorite bookstore, bar none, is You can find almost anything you want (if it isn't on Amazon, I can't imagine where you'd find it) at good prices and with quick, reliable delivery. The store is open 24/7. You don't have to dress up to go there, you can shop naked if you want to. You can eat, drink, smoke and do virtually anything that is allowed at wherever you are when you visit

If I need my book experience to be social and include people, I go to the library.

  • Thursday, August 18, 2011 - What was the last book you read?

  • Friday, August 19, 2011 - Do you like paper books or e-readers?
I prefer audio books. I do most of my reading in the car, I drive back and forth to Lawton almost every day which is a 25-30 minute drive each way. 3-4 days a week I go to the gym in Lawton and listen to a playaway or audio book on iphone while walking on the treadmill. I enjoyed listening to audio books when I walked outside before it started being over 100 degrees everyday. I imagine I'll do that again if we ever see temperatures in the 80's again.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Five Minute Friday

I found this 5 minute friday idea in a blog written by a NABLOPOMO blogger. I'm sorry, I don't remember who it was. I thank you for sharing it and please let me know who you are. I grabbed this picture and the web site address of the gypsy mama whose idea it originally was. Every week there's a new theme.

Today's theme is "NEW." Boy, can I talk about new. I'm not sure I can be as positive as I actually like to be. But on 5 minute friday, the idea is to write for 5 minutes without editing, without correcting, just write continuously and see what happens. (I couldn't get the picture to be an active link to the website so you'll have to click the link in the text above if you want to check it out.)

So, NEW...we just started a new school year. They say new is good, change is good. Well, it eventually is but right now it is difficult to deal with. There's a Chinese saying, something like "Before all great things comes chaos." I almost always find that to be true. I am back full as time librarian this year. I knew (new) about that last year. I was given the extra duty of 7th grade sponsor and found out about it right before the bell rang to begin the first day of school. The 7th graders came to tell me. I hate surprises like that. Today they totally changed the afternoon schedule (our school is small) giving me a new class in the afternoon with 25 students. I had prepared for under ten. SURPRISE! I've had a few new ideas of things I can do with these kids in my "Service Learning" class. There's something else new I'd like to try, retirement!

OK, that's my 5 minutes. I have to admit, I am going to correct the typos and misspelled words.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sweet Revenge

The last book I finished is Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson.

This is a series starring Goldy Schulz, caterer extraordinaire and crime mystery unraveler. She is now married to the chief of police, a great straight man to her zany character. Goldy and her best friend were both married to the same man, known as "The Jerk." They bonded over sharing a deep hatred for the man.

This particular book got me at the get-go when the crime took place in the public library. A thread of library and librarians strung throughout the story. I've gotta love that.

I was also in the mood, in the need of a gentle mystery, sans monsters and bloody gore, and scary suspense but with humor and high jinks. This fit the bill.

I am currently reading Undead and Unwed (MaryJanice Davidson-audio book) , Mortal Fear (Greg Iles-playaway), The Writing Class (Jincy Willett-hardback) and Dead to Writes (Cathy Wiley-Kindle).

What are you reading?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The School Year

All my life I've counted time by the school year. In California we began the year on Tuesday after Labor Day. New classes, new long til Thanksgiving? Then how long until Christmas? The winter months passed slowly until Spring came and Easter Break (that's what we called it) was just around the corner. It was also known as Bal Week, short for Balboa because everyone headed to the beach to party hardy. With the final school vacation over, one could only wonder if summer would ever get here. It finally did, at the middle of June. School's out for summer! The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. And then in September it would all start over again.

I did graduate from high school and went on to college. After my BA, I got an MA. After my MA, I got married. The I had two children and it seemed like no time at all and they were in school.

In Oklahoma school starts in August. Each school district decides when to start so everyone is on a different schedule. And now we have fall break to anticipate before Thanksgiving. I was back in the cycle when my girls started school. The only difference was the in school time was more like vacation and the holidays were more work.

I became the school librarian when the girls were in lower elementary and I was totally back into the original cycle of a school year. I'm still on that merry-go-round, ready to greet kids tomorrow as they tackle their first day of school 2011-2012. I'll be tackling it right along with them.

And before we know it, the routine will be established and we'll be wondering, "When does Fall Break start?"


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Public Library

It's not your Grandma's library.

Gone are the days of austere silence, shelves that hold only scholarly tomes, adult patrons, and an elderly librarian with glasses worn low on her nose and a bun fastened tightly to the back of her head.

Today's librarians are young and energetic, providing story times, book clubs and other programs for children.

Today's librarians are talented as story tellers, puppeteers, clowns, artists and musicians.

Today's librarians are information specialists. Is there something you want to know about? Ask a librarian. He or she can show you where to find the information you need.

Today's librarians are genealogists. They believe that a step backwards is a good thing and they can help you find your roots.

Today's librarians are computer geeks. Most libraries have free wifi access and computers with Internet and programs for visitors to use.

Today's librarians serve older patrons as well. There are mobile book vans that deliver materials to home-bound people and special programs designed just for golden guys and gals.

Today's libraries have more than just books, although the books are still the finest part of the collection. You can check out a movie, a CD, a computer program, an audio book, e-books, and sometimes the equipment to use these items.

Today's libraries house a wealth of information in books, government documents, artifacts and databases. Did you know you can find out how to fix your car, how to install a washing machine, how to landscape your yard, how to pick the right pet...

If you want it, check first at the public library. Chances are, if they don't have it, they can Inter-Library Loan it from another library for you.

I'm not the only one shouting accolades for public libraries. Read what others have to say:

Libraries are community treasure chests, loaded with a wealth of information available to everyone equally, and the key to that treasure chest is the library card. I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card. ~ First Lady Laura Bush

I used to go to the library all the time when I was kid. As a teenager, I got a book on how to write jokes at the library, and that, in turn, launched my comedy career. ~ Comedian Drew Carey.

The public library is a great equalizer. ~ Musician Keith Richards

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest. ~ Lady Bird Johnson

It's funny that we think of libraries as quiet demure places where we are shushed by dusty, bun-balancing, bespectacled women. The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed. ~ Comedian and author Paula Poundstone, national spokesperson for Friends of Libraries U.S.A.

Amen Sister!

What do you love about your public library?


Monday, August 15, 2011

B 2 S

Back to School

Today is the first day of another school year for faculty and staff. Our superintendent always sets up a buffet banquet for us: fruits, cheeses, crackers, muffins, raw vegetables, dips, cold cuts, soda, juices, water...WHAT!?! No coffee? You just can't please some people.

It's good to see coworkers after over two months of separation and also nice to meet new staff members.

Then the meetings. Some are familiar, very familiar. We learn the proper way to handle Blood-borne Pathogens every year, it's state mandated. It's also required for my job at the public library so I get to sit through it TWICE every year.

Some of the meetings are new, and new can be intimidating. New rules for evaluation, new directions in education, new required paperwork, new state-wide online grade book... From past experience I know that what is now overwhelming will be just part of another day in the near future. One of the things I love about teaching is that it is never stagnant, things are always changing. Even the teachers can't stop learning.

I lift my glass in toast to another school year and look forward to discovering its surprises.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Go To Church?

Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25 (The Message )

Why do we go to church?

This morning my grandson didn't want to go to church. He was too tired to get up. So I brought his clothes to him and helped him get dressed and let him stay in bed for a while longer. As departure time got closer, I turned on the bedroom light and "encouraged" him to get up. I gave him a banana and started looking for my watch. My husband told me he was leaving for church (we walk) and that Owen was on the computer in the back. Oh bother! He will not happily get off the computer. He cried and screamed about wanting to finish his game. I maintained an even tone of voice as well as my temper and told him to pause it and he could continue after church. "I don't wanna go to church!"

With a lot cajoling, I got him out the front door though still repeating his mantra, "I don't wanna go to church!" I explained to him that going to church is our way of thanking God for all he does for us. He made the earth for us to live on, put us in a family that loves us, and everything we have came from God. The next time he repeated his mantra, it was in a civil tone.

Owen goes to church because we make him go. We go to church because it is who we are, it is what we do.

When I was a new Christian I believed, and probably rightly so at the time, that I should go to church to get what I needed to grow and mature in the faith and to receive all I needed to be the person God wanted me to be. I! I! I! Me! Me! Me!

A ways down the road on my journey with God I realized that it's not all about me. The focus is almost always on others. I read this scripture with new eyes. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another." ~ Hebrews 10:24-25 (New International Version)

Oh my gosh! I'm not supposed to go to church for what I can get out of it but for what I can give to it. God can use me to be in service to others who have come to church, but only if I go.

It doesn't matter if I don't feel like going to church. It matters what God needs me to do at church on Sunday morning. And although I enter church as a servant of God, I receive more blessings than I give. That's the way God works.

Now it's your turn. Why do you go to church? (By church I include Synagogue, Mosque, Temple or whatever your place of spiritual attendance may be.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday, Prompt List Day

  • Monday, August 8, 2011, Do you always tell the truth?
Yes, I always tell the truth. Now, I'll let you be the judge. Is my answer the truth or a lie?

  • Tuesday, August 9, 2011, What do you think about white lies?
White lies are the nicessities of life. But isn't it great to have one person in your life who will always tell you the truth and therefore saves you from going out in public looking like a freak show escapee.

  • Wednesday, August 10, 2011, Fictionalize a boring part of your day and retell it.
We had a funeral at my church on Wednesday. It wasn't boring but I fictionalized it to be a generic representation of what funerals are like in my town. A Funeral in a Small Town

  • Thursday, August 11, 2011, Unpack the statement: truth is stranger than fiction
Thursday's post is an example of truth being stranger than fiction. How Much is a Trillion?

  • Friday, August 12, 2011, What character would you never want to meet?
Another question with so many choices. It could be any one of Alex Cross's nemeses or any of the serial killers whom Dexter lays to rest. Then there are the variety of monsters created by the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Too many scary characters to choose the one I would most not want to meet.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gym

I joined Freedom Fitness a few months ago. So out of character for me. Curves closed so a bunch of us decided to join a real gym. It's been the best thing ever.

These are some of the funny things that happened to me at the gym.

1. I start my routine in the circuit room (like Curves and why we chose this gym). After thirty minutes on those machines I go out into the BIG ROOM of machines. One machine I like is for angel wings. Not sure the flappy parts will ever go away but my upper arms are getting stronger.

You sit down to use this machine, raise your hands and bend your elbows so you look like you're about to do the chicken dance, grab than handles and push down so the weights rise. One day I pushed down and nothing happened. I looked at the weights and some he-man had it on 150 lbs. Yikes! I put it down to a respectable 60 lbs. Still it wouldn't budge. I stood up to get some leverage and pushed down and still nothing. I wondered why I was so weak when a young man came over and told me this machine operated by pulling UP on the handles. The machine I wanted was one over. I laughed and thanked him and he told me not to feel bad, he'd done the same thing.

2. I like to workout in the morning when it isn't so busy, but on workdays that isn't possible so I keep a gym bag in my car. I don't always remember to put clean clothes in it and return it to the car after I use it. On one such occasion I noticed it missing when I got to work so on my lunch break I went to the mall to see what workout clothes I could find on sale. I found 4th of July T-shirt on clearance for $4: navy blue with red, white and blue bird houses on it. The only workout pants in my size were black nordic track long pants. I didn't try anything on, I just bought them and went back to work.

Later that day, at the gym, I put on my new gym clothes. The nordic track pants were leggings, totally form fitting. The T-shirt was short and did not cover much of my big middle part. To top off this stunning blue shirt/black pants outfit were the brown tennis shoes (they live in my trunk) that I bought at Walmart one time when I'd just forgotten to include shoes in my gym bag. It took courage to walk out in public like that. I didn't hear any snickers in the circuit room so I used the machines, did a mile on the treadmill and thanked God that the people at my gym don't seem to care what anyone looks like.

3. I've noticed at my gym that guys like to workout in pairs. They spur each other on and work harder when it's a competition. I was on the waist-twisty machine and two young men behind were me using the sit-up machine. After continually not keeping up with his buddy, one boy said, "I need to work out with somebody weaker than me." I turned around and offered, "You could work out with me." He laughed and said, "Are you sure you're weaker than me?" I love a person with a sense of humor.

4. I have a big Great Pyrenees puppy (8 months, 80 pounds). I fed her before I left to exercise. She jumped on me, maybe to try to get me to stay. "Ouch Bear! Don't do that. Your claws hurt when you jump on me."

I didn't realize until I was on the waist-twisty machine again that she had ripped a hole in my workout pants. I was given this information by a concerned gym member. She put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Did you know you have a hole in your pants?" I shook my head, she continued, "Well, so many people wear their clothes ripped and with holes and I thought maybe you were one of them. But in case you just had a hole in your pants and didn't know it, I thought I better tell you." I thanked her and slunk away to check out the damage in the ladies locker room.

Sure enough, there was a big hole in my pants right where bear's claw had pierced my leg. Luckily my underwear wasn't showing and I had on a long baggy T-shirt that covered the hole when I kept it pulled down. I walked a mile on the treadmill, pulling my T-shirt down every few steps, before going home.

5. The kids who work at the desk are the greatest. They are so friendly and nice. I lost my ID tag moments after they gave it to me so the second time I went I asked what I should do to get a new one. They said they could sign me in by my name. From then on they remembered my name and I just smile and say hello while everyone else is showing their ID tags. Makes me feel special.

One day when leaving, the boys and I had a short, witty goodbye conversation. I got to my car and realized I'd left my street clothes in a locker. I wanted to just go home but I couldn't leave my clothes there so I sucked it up and went back in. "I forgot my street clothes." They didn't look surprised. Maybe they know me better than I thought.

Joining this gym was a great idea. I'm healthier and stronger, I come into contact with a variety of interesting people, and it's all good fodder for blogging.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Much is a Trillion?

I can't even begin to fathom how much a trillion dollars is. And the U.S. government is in debt trillions (with an S!) of dollars. How did that happen? Why would the people in charge keep borrowing money just because we hadn't hit the ceiling of debt yet? And who has a ceiling of debt in the trillions of dollars anyway? And then, what is done when we crash into that ceiling? We raise the ceiling, of course. Insanity!

I recently got an email from my professional organization telling me about a new $500 million state-level grant competition. Each state can apply for a $60 million grant to fund early childhood education for kids in poverty, cradle-Kindergarten. That may be a worthy project (or maybe not), but in either case, we have a national debt to pay. $500 million dollars may be a drop in the bucket that can hold trillions of dollars, but we have got to start putting drops in that bucket in order to get the debt paid off, not find new ways to spend money we don't have.

This is wrong on so many levels.

The truth really is stranger than fiction. What do you think?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Funeral in a Small Town

It's a morning funeral held in the Methodist Church. People begin to arrive and are escorted to their seats by a funeral home employee. No one sits in the front rows which have been saved for the family. The people are not from any particular church but from the total community. Everyone knows each other in this small town and although they don't always get along, they do stand up for each other in times of need. They chatter softly while waiting for the service to begin.

Choir members begin to file in from a side entrance. The Baptist minister and a Methodist lay speaker take seats on either side of the pulpit. The pianist plays a variety of old time and well loved hymns.

The music stops, the preacher stands and says, "Please rise for the family." Everyone stands. The funeral home people walk to the front of the church followed by the family. When they are all seated, the preacher speaks again. "You may be seated."

The Methodist lay speaker begins with prayer. He continues with a eulogy, beginning with the day the Lord spoke Beulah's name and brought her into existence. It's a celebration of Beulah's life with funny stories, touching memories, and a testimony to the impact she made as she lived her 81 years.

As the lay speaker sits, the choir stands and belts out "I'll Fly Away."

Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away; to a home on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away...

The choir sits, the preacher stands and walks to the pulpit to deliver his sermon of comfort and exhortation. Though our hearts are breaking, we can rest assured that Beulah has completed her journey home. No more pain nor tears for her, such as that are left for the living.

After another song, the casket is opened. Row by row friends file by the casket to say goodbye to Beulah, shake hands with the preacher and greet, hug, and cry with the family. The people continue to fill the yard outside of the church. Finally, only family is left in the church. They take their time to say goodbye to their loved one.

The casket is brought out of the church and loaded into the hearse. The family follows and fills several vehicles. Friends get in their cars and the procession to the cemetery begins.

While the others are gone to bury Beulah, the church ladies prepare the meal. The buffet table is loaded with meats and vegetables, salads, breads, fresh fruit and assorted side dishes all provided by the community cooks. These country ladies and gents know how to put on a feast. It takes another table to hold all the deserts: cakes, pies, sweet breads, cookies, does one ever choose?

When the family arrives back from the cemetery, the Methodist ladies fill glasses with iced tea, water and orange soda (for the kids). The preacher prays. At the sound of "Amen" it is time to eat. People file down both sides of the table. Most plates are full before they make it to the end of the table. "Oh well, I'll have to come back for seconds after I eat this."

There is talking and laughter. A sad time to be together, but a good time to be together. The family expresses gratitude for the meal. The ladies tell them it is a group project, everyone in the community helped. And it is our pleasure to do so.

The family begins to leave, laden with containers of food for later, more hugging, smiles and tears. All that is left is cleanup. The Methodist crew (there are boys and men who help) finds homes for the remaining food, washes dishes and tables, puts away the clean dishes and condiments, takes out the trash, gathers up table cloths and dish towels to take home to launder, pushes in chairs and gets Fellowship Hall ready for the next event.

Lights out, alarm on, we leave our church to go out and carry on.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fiction Format and Genre

OK, I'll come out, I'm a TV fan. My favorite TV is fiction. I don't care for the news, news programs, the Weather channel or reality shows (even though they border on fiction). I'm not big on talk shows or game shows either. If there's a good mystery on against Craig Ferguson, well, I'll flip back and forth.

The TV shows I enjoy are like the books I read: mysteries with a touch of humor, quirky characters, a little romantic tension and some action. Psyche, The Mentalist, Castle, Harry's Law, Bones, Leverage, The Glades, Burn Notice, The Closer, NCIS, Suits, In Plain Sight.

Tuesday nights have a good line up with White Collar then Covert Affairs followed by Memphis Beat. I try to get home by show time on Tuesdays to relax and enjoy some of my good shows.

My six-year-old grandson is into Disney, Nick Jr. and all those cartoon channels. My daughter watches reality shows, E-Entertainment and Grey's Anatomy. My husband is an all sports fan with doses of Fox News thrown in. It's no wonder we have so many TVs.

Tell me about your favorite TV show(s).

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's Been One of Those Days

On Friday the fridge quit working. My husband left a message on the local repairman's voice mail and got a message back that said he could come look at it on Monday morning. Monday morning came and went so husband called repairman again and spoke to his wife. She said she'd get the message to him.

At 2:00 p.m. I left to take my car to the Mitsubishi place to have the air conditioning reexamined. I had taken it to be fixed on Friday; 8 hours and $42 later I was told there was nothing wrong with it, the air conditioner was working fine, cooling air down to 40 degrees. REALLY?!? When I got home, sweat dripping down my face, I stepped out of the furnace hot car and breathed in the cool 103 degree Oklahoma evening air. I called the car repairman to tell him the air conditioning was not working. He said to bring it back on Monday or Tuesday and he'd drive it until it got hot and figure out what was no extra charge.

By the time I arrived at the Mitsubishi place, the air inside the car was good and hot I pulled into an open bay at the repair shop and left the engine running. The guy took one look at me and said, "Your air conditioner isn't working, is it?" He drove my car, figured out what was wrong (something that regulates the temperature?) and then told me he'd have to order parts and they should be in by Friday. What, are they coming from Japan?

I went to the gym and then had dinner at my daughter's house. My husband called me at Beth's to tell me the refrigerator repairman was there and hopefully it would be working by the time I got home. Famous last words. This is what I found when I got home.

Not only is the refrigerator not working, now the freezer isn't working either. The explanation was that repairman Angie had to take the freezer apart to find out what was wrong with the fridge. Design flaw. When Angie unraveled the mystery, he knew he'd have to order a part so he left the freezer as is so he wouldn't have to charge us twice for taking it apart. Good grief.

Ah, these aggravating annoyances. I'm going to lock the door, take a bath and read my book. I may even light some candles and drink a glass of wine. If only everyone's problems were so easily solved.


Sunday, August 7, 2011


to Indiahoma United Methodist Church

This is where I worship most Sundays.

We are in terrible drought conditions, as you can see by the dead grass. The air conditioner in the sanctuary quit working so we had church in the Fellowship Hall this morning. It was different sitting around tables instead of in pews the choir sitting among the congregation as we all sang together. Different and change is fun once-in-awhile.

The sermon was different too. Our pastor read 'The Story of the Unnamed Leper" from Max Lucando's book Just Like Jesus Devotional while we sat with our eyes closed imagining what it would be like to be an untouchable outcast. (scripture reference Matthew 8:1-4) It was a powerful story about a man who lost everything and then was restored by the touch of Jesus. Only Jesus dared to touch this man's diseased skin. What people are we afraid to touch?

Lord, help me respond to your call to love the unlovely. Teach me to work for reconciliation and provide me with opportunities to help those who have no means with which to repay my kindness. Amen.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


What? No prompts on Saturday?

Since I haven’t used any of the prompts this week. It’s a great time to catch up with a prompt list.

  • Monday – What is your favorite book? The Bible

If I could only have one book, it would be the Bible. It contains every type of literature, evokes every emotion, instructs, and is continually new. I can read the same passage multiple times and get new insights every time.

Picking my favorite work of fiction is not so easy. I won’t even go there.

  • Tuesday – Who is your favorite author? IDK

As a librarian I get asked that question a lot. I can’t just pick one. It’s like asking, “Which is your favorite child?” I think JK Rowling is one of the best current authors and I loved the Harry Potter series and look forward to her future work. But I also enjoy many mystery writers, too many to name.

  • Wednesday – Have you ever wished you could enter a book? No, not really.

The kind of books I read (murder and mayhem) are too scary to become an active participant. If I were going to enter a book, I’d like to be in one that Mr. Rogers wrote. I would love to have met him.

  • Thursday – What character would you most like to meet? Again, hard to say.

Two endearing characters are Dexter (Jeff Lindsay) and Odd Thomas (Dean Koontz). Dexter is way too scary and over the edge so I’ll go with quirky Odd Thomas.

  • Friday - What is the best first sentence you can think of off the top of your head?

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…" (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

Is there a better first sentence than that?


Friday, August 5, 2011

If It's Not One Thing, It's Two Others

Namely, the air conditioner in my car went out (we are in our 43rd day of triple digit weather) and my refrigerator is dead (but yay! the freezer still works). The dishwasher isn't acting quite right either. I guess no one likes this weather.

I spent two hours cleaning out the fridge, throwing stuff away, and moving anything salvageable to the auxiliary fridge on the back porch.

Hot, tired and grumpy, I sat down at my computer with an iced coffee by my side. I'm on day three of my new routine of watching three short Seinfeld videos. On his website,, are three new videos every day. I don't think it takes three minutes to watch them, definitely less than five.

I am no longer grumpy. Laughter is good for one's whole being. I'm energized and ready to start checking things off my to-do list.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Way I Read


I used to read one book at a time. I kept it by my bed and read before I went to sleep.

Then I moved to rural Oklahoma where it's a 20-30 minute drive into "town" and I discovered audio books. Now I always have a book going in my car. It's a different reading experience, sometimes better. The Secret Life of Bees was richer read with a southern accent, something I wouldn't have conjured up myself. Jim Dale reading Harry Potter is amazing. If you've read the books and seen the movies and wish there were more, read the audio books. Maybe by the time you get through the seven books, J.K. will have written something new.

I used to carry a paperback book of short stories with me to read while waiting at doctor appointments, riding on a bus, standing in a long line... Now I carry my Kindle with an assortment of books to choose from. I have a few books on my iphone but it makes for such a small book that I don't use it much for reading. In a pinch though.

Next life changing/reading changing adventure, I joined a gym. While others listen to music, I listen to books on my iphone or on playaway devices from the library.

When I first starting doing this, my audio stories got blended together. The CD and playaway books were both mysteries, the main character was a strong woman in law enforcement and there was a man (FBI and lawyer) from another state getting in her way. Two supporting characters were both named Susan. I created in my mind a fabulous new story that's never been written. I had to sort the whole thing out so I could write a review on GoodReads.

WHAT am I currently reading?

Book: The Writing Class by Jincy Willett

Book on CD: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

Playaway: Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz

Kindle: Dead to Writes by Cathy Wiley

iphone: The Library by Scott Douglas and Andy Sweat

What are you reading?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Everybody Loves a Good Story

And a good story is good for everybody.

People like to read stories, listen to stories (audio books and stand up comedians), watch stories (on TV, at the movies, on the stage) and even present stories.

While visiting Baton Rouge, my son-in-law created a puppet show as part of productive play with my grandson. Who knew a box and a pair of socks could be so much fun?

.Back Stage Action .....Main Stage Show .......... Taking a Bow

So keep creating and consuming stories. It will keep your brain alert and your vocabulary prodigious.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fiction Writers on Writing

My favorite kind of non-fiction writing is memoirs, especially when written by fiction authors where the focus is their lives as writers.

Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is my favorite of the two that I've read. His life is an amazing combination of turmoil, poverty, a mother's love, a wife's strength and persistance, and so much God given talent that he could create in a drunken stupor or a cocaine frenzy or even stone sober.

I read this following bit on I wished I had written it, then decided to just quote Tim Appelo, author of the Amazon article.

Stephen King "gives you a whole writer's tool kit: a reading list, writing assignments, a corrected story, and nuts-and-bolts advice on dollars and cents, plot and character, the basic building block of the paragraph, and literary models. He shows what you can learn from H.P. Lovecraft's arcane vocabulary, Hemingway's leanness, Grisham's authenticity, Richard Dooling's artful obscenity, Jonathan Kellerman's sentence fragments."

The other book I read in this "genre" is Janet Evanovich's How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author. If you like Stephanie Plum, you'll enjoy this book too. It's got the same kind of humor with advice on how to get published as a fiction writer.

What are some other great titles about authors and their lives as writers written by the authors themselves?


Monday, August 1, 2011

The Writing Class

Surely I can write every day this month about fiction.

I've never wanted to write fiction but it is what I love to read.

I am currently reading The Writing Class by Jincy Willett. It's a mystery, my genre, filled with information about writing fiction.

The story takes place primarily in an evening adult education "fiction writing" classroom, a perfect setting for a diverse group of people with nothing in common but the desire to write. The class is taught by a critically acclaimed published but not popular author, Amy Gallup.

The stories the students write, the classroom critiques and Amy's comments contain nuggets of gold for honing fiction writing skills. It is also very entertaining reading.

What's the mystery? One of the students is a sicko, writing an extra critique, both vulgar and threatening, for each student's short story.

What are you reading right now?