Tuesday, October 25, 2005

minesweeper woes

Argh! I can't beat this game!! I seem to get down to the last 20-30 mines and then blow myself up.

Andy says he would have given up long before now. Then again, he beats this stupid game with relative ease. "It's just deduction!" he says, helpfully.

I had left the game up the other day, and A. had the screen cleared to the last two squares, where you'd have a 50-50 chance of choosing the wrong one....... so I finished the game and chose. Wrongly.


SO I am on a quest ( and have been for the last two weeks or so) - BEAT THE GAME.

Maybe I should switch to Hearts for a while. NO. I must BEAT THIS GAME.

OK so I finished the Boston Jane series by Jennifer Holm. Overview: a girl from Philly goes to Washington territory to be the wife of a man who used to be her father's intern. She has attended finishing school. This leaves her ill-prepared for the realities of pioneer life. Because she was late in leaving Philly, her betrothed assumed she wasn't coming, and took off. So when she arrives in Shoalwater Bay (now called Willapa) - there is nobody to meet her.

It's rather amusing to see her struggle along, trying to live up to Miss Hepplewhite's standards when those standards are completely impractical for living /roughing it in the wilderness.

Still, this series misses on many counts. The native Chinook Indians are well-rounded characters - however, in contrast, Ms. Holm portrays thewhite men as flat, two-dimensional characters with the sole motive of acquiring the Chinook, Makah, etc. land, and putting the Indians together on one reservation. The only good white men are those who intermarry with the Indians, or adopt some of their culture. Sadly, there is a Catholic priest who makes the journey with Jane, with the stated goal of "converting the savages." He is portrayed as boring, witless, good enough in his own way, but like Miss Hepplewhite's guidebook for young ladies, his religion is immensely impractical in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. By the end of the first book he has made no converts. The Indians' spirit religion is shown to be superior.

Anyway, that's the jist of the first book. It's an amusing enough read; however, I came away with the impression that Ms Holm has very little use for "the white man's God."

There's also a weird subplot involving the ghost of one of Jane's traveling companions haunting her - tying into the Chinook belief that if you don't change your name following the death of a family member, you will be haunted by that person - The subplot resolved itself, somehow, but I wasn't quite sure of the mechanics behind it. At first Mary would haunt Jane with an angry expression, seaweed in hair, dripping wet and ice cold.......... but after Jane, at a point of crisis, resolves within herself that she might as well die in the Pac NW as well, it's no point to go on living in this hell.......then Mary appears to Jane as happy, bright and shining.......and never haunts Jane again. I mean, what was the point in that?! Jane had to decide life wasn't worth living for the ghost to leave her alone? I totally didn't get the reasoning there.


It's 10 am and time to start school.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

a good week

This week was a rather pleasant one, albeit hectic. Gma K was visiting us from MI, and the dear soul didn't want to add to my workload so she took us out for dinner frequently this week. She left this morning.

Today it was a blessing to make brownies and stromboli. Weird combo, but who cares.

Today we also went to the NW Captive Breeders Expo: Turtles, snakes, lizards, and other animals termed "exotic" by the powers that be. A walked out of there with two hatchling wood turtles, the final result of a trade that happened back in August. D was rather disappointed he did not get a snake; we told him there would need to be much more responsibility on his part before we'd consider it. I was noticing that the clientele of the expo was much more "mainstream" than in years previous: it used to be only freaking weirdos that came to these things. That element is still there, but there are many more average Americans attending now.

This afternoon was profitable as well; I planted some summer-flowering bulbs Audra had given me, cleaned out my planter baskets and barrels, and varnished Andy's outside office door. The kids went over to the park to play - a first, because they went together, without us along. The rules were to stay together, don't get wet, and be home in an hour.

After a while A and I realized we never looked to see what time it was when we sent them out, nor did either of the kids have on a watch. We walked over to the park to retrieve them, and met them as they themselves were wandering home.

Responsibility! I like it.

I'm also reading a fair bit of books lately; mostly in the YA age group. I finally read Holes by Louis Sachar. A well-crafted book. Ties up all the loose ends neatly, and overall a very good story. I have no idea how the movie based on this book turned out, though.

I also read Rodzina by Karen Cushman of The Midwife's Apprentice fame. She lives on Vashon now! Wow, a Newbery author, practically a neighbor. Anyway....... I thought this one was pretty good. Much better than her Matilda Bone or The Ballad of Lucy Whipple. Rodzina is a girl who was sent on the orphan train from Chicago to The West to find a family. Very interesting, and it tugged my heart a bit. Ms. Cushman always does her homework; there's nearly always a long list of resources she used at the end of each of her novels.

I was very disappointed in Sharon Creech's Absolutely Normal Chaos. I loved Walk Two Moons, but ANC was just......mediocre. A girl's junior high diary ramblings. It tries to be meaningful in the story of Carl Ray, but it never really touches the emotions. It depicts the ups and downs of junior high romance in a stilted, cliche way. It tries to be funny with the creative ways that Mary Lou tries to abridge her language after she is forbidden to say "God, " "stupid," or "stuff," but ends up being borderline blasphemous with her altering her swearing to "King of Kings," "Alpha and Omega," "Deity" and the like.

Though I must admit to enjoying her substitute for "stuff": quintessence.

Anyway. I have 3 more books (I think?) to read before next library day, and they're a series all from Jennifer Holm, who won the Newbery for Our Only May Amelia (a good book, and set here in the Pac NW)- the series is about Boston Jane, who is a "mail order" bride. I will let you know how it comes out.

OK stromboli must be about ready, and Im' sure the family is rawther hungry. adieu.

And Jennifer I am fine. Thanks for calling :)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"MOM PLease staY owT"

....this on a sticky note on the front door as I returned from a morning coffee with my friend Audra. I knock, because I don't want to ruin any nice surprise the kids have concocted for me.

D lets me in, timorously. My suspicion mounts. My ideas of kid-made surprises I might consider "nice" evaporate like so much dry ice. "Why did you want me to stay out?" I ask, thinking by now that i really don't want to know, and wondering just where in sam hill Andy is.

"Um....Sam threw Tang at my door. Don't kill us."

I know this is not the full story.

Come to find out, the kids had a Tang fight. David instigated it by dumping a glass on Sam while she was doing her math, and Sammie retaliated by throwing a glassful at D's retreating back as he slammed his door shut. D re-retaliated and doused her door accordingly.

Andy was blissfully taking a shower. The Tang fight happened in the five-minute window between Andy's stepping in and my coming home to a powder-blue sticky note. 5 minutes.

Calming breaths. Ohhhmmmmm....

SO our school (school comes in many forms, oh yesss, preciousss) consisted of murphy's oil soap, a sponge and a towel. The kids cleaned each other's doors. Then I had to shampoo the carpet (thankfully I have a Kirby with attachments).

There will no longer be any Tang in this house. (At least not for a LONG while.) So let it be written, so let it be done. <---(oblique reference to The Ten Commandments)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Shhhhhock the Monkey

Monkey Challenge Trivia Quiz
I beat the monkey by 11 points.
Famous Trivia Quiz

........which isn't a whole heck of a lot of points, when ya come to think of it. It was a challenging trivia quiz for me, incorporating everything from Cs 137 to Ringo Starr.

"it's time to play the music..."

D & S are watching a DVD of The Muppet Show right now, before I make them practice their piano. I LOVE THE MUPPET SHOW. Another guilty pleasure.

We're slowly getting back into some type of routine, but I have discovered if I am not around in the AM, things just do not get done, school- or house-wise. Surprise, surprise. So i have axed my morning workouts at Bally's for the time being, and to tell the truth, I'm a little (lot) annoyed about it. Because SOMETHING IMPORTANT always comes up in the evenings so I can't go work out then either. Ergo, I am sitting here on my widening rear end, not exercising.

I hate feeling like the whole world depends on me to get it going! I need some "me" time. But not gonna get it, not tomorrow or Weds, that's for sure. Teach all day both days - first my own, then piano. *sigh*

So i'm escaping here to my own private idaho (a nod to the B-52's), with no solutions to my dilemma and feeling a little blue about it. It's a thankless job. I want to crawl in a hole, or, better yet, take a sun-drenched vacation. I feel like I have to sit in the presence of the kids during all their waking hours or NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. Aigh. Even paid laborers get mandatory breaks.

I think I'm about to say to heck with this and go out, who cares if it's 8:17 in the evening and exercising now would keep me awake all night.

But then nobody's piano would be done. I do not sacrifice 4 hours a week cleaning Dr J's for the kids NOT to practice.

BACK TO THE RESENTMENT. Things only happen if I'm here, and frankly, I feel like being a Maizie Bird. And if you don't know who/what that is, you need to seriously brush up on your Dr Seuss.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


You Are A: Pony!

ponyWho doesn't love a pony? You are one of these miniature horses, renown for your beauty and desired by many. Full of grace, you are a beautiful and very special animal, full of strength and majesty.

You were almost a: Puppy or a Lamb
You are least like a: Groundhog or a KittenThe Cute Animals Quiz

Thursday, October 06, 2005

all quiet on the western front

We are currently having a visit from Andy's dad from NY. So today they're all at the PDZA enjoying a field trip. Me, I went shopping all by me onesies. Groceries. woo. Still, the novelty of shopping alone is wondrous. Now I am cooking dinner in advance (enchiladas) so I can take a map. My current temp is 99.4. My piano students have shared their illness with me apparently.

Yesterday I taught straight through until 8:45 p.m. Oh, yeah, there were some breaks; however, between schooling my kids (10-12:45); piano students (1-5) ; making dinner (5-6); eating (6-6:45); cleaning up (to 7"15); then running the kids through piano practicing (7:30-8:45) - I collapsed in bed at 9:20 and didn't even read before going to sleep. Unreal.

So today is my day off.

Just got a phone call from the Zoo Excursionees - they are cold and wet. It started raining while they were there. This means hot chocolate. But I don't think I have any right now.

I'd better finish the enchiladas before the hordes arrive!