Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fiction Habit

A says I read too much fiction. Looking at my list down the side of this page, I have to admit he's right. I love fiction. I deal with enough reality that I need an escape. To be sure, some of these books I've enjoyed reading aloud to D and S; however (oh darn, there went a semicolon), the majority are just ones I've read on my own.

Which reminds me I need to update the list to include some Elfquest graphic novels (read: full-length comic books).

However, I am all about "achieving balance" in Life. Therefore, I henceforth vow that for every five fiction books I read, I will read one non-fiction book. Hm. Did I say five? Erm, maybe ten? YEAH. Ten.

At any rate, I'm behind. I'd better polish up some of the 'serious' books I'm working on (though some of these Bible studies just can't be rushed, you know?)--and forge ahead.

So I will have to construct a book list of NONFICTION books to divide and conquer. Biographies are a good place to start. Way back in Sept. when we were in CO I'd picked up one on Winston Churchill that was fascinating. Almost lifted it from the cabin to bring back home to WA with me, but A informed me that we had it on our shelves, and there was no need to resort to theivery.

Oh, but I have to say this: I'm reading Moby Dick for the first time. I endured the study of Melville in HS and college, but now his writing is rather interesting. Maybe I'm just getting old. Does reading a book by an author you REALLY don't care for count in this contest, even if it is fiction?

I probably ought to tackle Ivanhoe next. (Curses, foiled again! More fiction!)

Give me up as hopeless. I am who I am; I like what I like. (Gads, more semicolons!)

A Rant about Semicolons, courtesy of James Kilpatrick

I read this in the Seattle Times and located a copy on uexpress. Finally, someone who's as passionate about punctuation as I am!

However, my passion runs more in the vein of apostrophe errors and the misuse of your/you're, their/there/they're.

I'll never use a semicolon again without serious thought first! I promise!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Ultimate Rejection

I about cried laughing when I heard this.

Andy and his brother David have a good friend from college who is unmarried, but would really like to be. So in this day and age, what do you do? You go to eHarmony, of course! Thousands upon thousands of people use this service; you've heard the commercials about how people have found their perfect match using the special questionnaires eHarmony provides!

After completing their online pages of forms and clicking the "submit" button, this poor man received an email from eHarmony:

"We're sorry, but we are unable to help you."

>> OUCH! <<


Friday, May 26, 2006

Aesop's Newest: The Station that Cried "Lahar"

Who ever listens to 1560 anyway? It's the SIRENS I'm interested in! If they sound at any time other than 10:05 A.M. on a Wednesday morning, I'm heading for Audra's house!

(The lahar sirens usually are tested mid mornings on Wednesdays, for those of you not "in the know").

So this was basically a non-event for me. I don't ever listen to 1560 AM. I heard about this news story from my MIL in MICHIGAN! (ooOOOooo Puyallup's in the national news again!)

The last time Puyallup was center stage on the national scene was when some attention-hungry psychopath from Rogers High School wanted to blow up the school.

News: It's always bad.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Magic Number

80%. That's the magic number at which we can finish school and be done for the year, if we so desire.

Today we reached 80% in Science! However, because we're in the middle of a unit (the really cool one where you grow bean plants and put them in a box with one hole for the light, to demonstrate tropism...) I've decided we'll finish up the unit and then focus on the other areas that aren't quite up to the 80% level.

We're at 75% in history, so within the next week or two we'll finish up--and then be able to concentrate on math, language arts, and (blushing) ART.

I have issues with art. It always gets pushed to the back burner because other things, frankly, are more important. And the kids get plenty of self-expressive opportunities through piano and just being THEMSELVES, so they're not frustrated with no artistic outlet.

But, at any rate, I'm declaring a fiat finish to school somewhere on or around June 9. We may have to do some catch-up (like in art), but I think we'll pretty much be done by then.

I've astounded my SIL with this declaration. My dear niece is unbelievably good, diligent, and efficient. She finishes 100% of her school yearly. My dear nephews take more after the Oliver side, occasionally giving Penny frustration and grief (I do sympathize. I have two Olivers of my own)(Three, if you include the father of my children). So, in discussing this with her this evening, it seemed almost as if she felt liberated: "80% !! They finish 80%!! They don't do every single exercise and activity laid out in the teacher's guide! WE COULD DO THAT TOO!"
(Please understand that she didn't quite verbalize it this way, but I was interpreting her feelings). So I think P. is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

As am I!

I am SO READY for a break from school, from piano lessons... I bet I could EVEN GO TO THE GYM REGULARLY AGAIN! (NO, Rebecca, I did NOT make it to the gym today.)


Monday, May 22, 2006

the best laid plans of mice and men

gang aft a-gley...

Not that I had any grandiose plans today, except one: to get my miserable carcass to Bally's. I haven't gone regularly since the middle of March, when The World Came To A Halt while the family endured Influenza and Beyond.

So today, at least, I was going to teach the kids in the morning, clean Mimi's in the afternoon, eat a light dinner, and go to the gym.

Got a late start in the morning. Ok, no problem, can overcome this with persistence during school.

Persistence during school is a 3-person affair, not a one-person thing. We'd only accomplished History by 2:30. I left detailed lists of math and LA for the kids, and went out the door, a-cleaning on my mind and my new Zen Nano plugged into my ears. (Still don't have it set up the way I want, but it's improved.)

Came home around 5:30. Not a single lick of math or LA was completed. (What did I honestly expect?)

I made dinner, informing the halflings that all they were getting was the SCENT of food until I saw some finished work. I served dinner (baked spaghetti, salad, and leftover focaccia bread from Stanley and Seaforts) at 6:45. A. and I had a lovely dinner for two on the back porch. S. was just about done and was able to eat; D. was too busy telling me that I would never receive any Mothers Day presents ever again from him, and the next time we went out to eat, he would order all the foods I didn't like. (How that is going to affect me, I do not know.)

D finished his work at 9:30 p.m. Late dinner. Straight to bed.

So much for my going to the gym. >:O| big sigh.

A tells me I beat myself up too much over things I can't control. He's probably right, but I hate this feeling of doing things half-baked.

Tomorrow and Wednesday: piano lessons all afternoon. Endurance.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Zen Daisies and Olive Gardens

Today I celebrated my birthday with Audra and Bonnie. They were after me to come up with something for us all to do. So after deliberation, I decided I'd just like to have lunch and hang out. Audra and Bonnie are scrapbookers; I personally gave that up as hopeless soon after the birth of S. HOWEVER, I thought we'd just get together and work on whatever. Since I have a bridal shower cake to make for next Saturday (Lora Pierson's!), I thought I'd work on the fondant daisies for the cake while they scrapbooked. It was a pleasant morning, with Randy Travis singing hymns in the background. The daisies need yellow centers still, but with Bonnie's help I got about 90 of those things made.

We had planned to go to the Antique Sandwich Co. in Tacoma for lunch, but Olive Garden won out (closer, and we didn't feel like having sandwiches). After lunch we walked around Bradley Lake Park behind WalMart to aid our digestion. :) There were scores of people there, some sitting, most fishing, and a select group of warriors with cloth-tipped arrows and bows, padded staffs (or is it staves?), padded broadswords, shields, and one in a tunic and what looked like chain mail. They staged a mock battle--it was fascinating! I scanned the group to see if Steve Williams (how long's it been since anyone's heard tell of him?!) was among the medieval warrior wannabes; thought I spied him, actually! but on closer examination it was a much younger clone. There were burly, muscular guys and geeky, skinny ones--all united under their separate standards. I wonder if they host public tournaments, because this was obviously a practice.

Following that, we returned to Audra's, where I did some preliminary meal planning for the Failsafe Elimination Diet that we will be doing pretty soon. (I got the Failsafe Cookbook from New Zealand! It was the store's last copy, and the book is out of print! SCORE!) FAILSAFE is an acronym for foods that are Free of Additives, Low In Salicylates, Amines, and Flavor Enhancers. When we begin I will be keeping a food diary, as well as recording any behavior differences I observe in self and, more importantly, others. ;) This blog may get rather tedious during that time, as I intend to use it for the food diary/response part.

After that, I bid Audra and Bonnie adieu and headed to Ross--time to spend birthday money! New purse, and a tablecloth/placemats for the back porch table, plus some "outside" type of flatware. I didn't find any acrylic/plastic plates that I liked, so off to Wal-Mart! There I got a pair of fake Birkenstocks, because my last pair is 5 years old and literally fallen apart.

My last purchase of the day was from The Good Guys (now turned into CompUSA) - I got an mp3 player. Not an iPod. sheesh. No, I got a Zen Nano Plus. Holds about 500 songs. I just hooked it up to my computer, and before I knew what I was doing, I uploaded my ENTIRE MEDIA folder onto this thing! DOH! I wanted to be selective!! So I have everything from 32 DOHS of Homer Simpson (a goofy .wav file I have had since 1999) to Bill Cosby, to the Northern Lights (the Northland Singing Group). Now I have to figure out how to pull OFF this stuff and get on there what I WANT!

Right now I'm listening to Bill Cosby and his "Old Weird Harold" sketch, where he goes to the movies with his friend and watches a lot of monster flicks (the one where they get the black jujubes stuck all over their backs because they're lying on the floor, too scared to watch the movie.

Now how's this for contrast? Up next: the BJU Symphony Wind Ensemble playing "Amazing Grace." I have GOT to fix this up better!!

So those of you with mp3 players, I need tips. Desperately. Because now it's playing Harry Simeone's "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

Thursday, May 18, 2006


TODAY I have been alive for 36 years, and married for 15 of them!

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

(POP QUIZ: Now, somebody tell me, whom did I just quote? :O> )

More on today, but later. Ciao.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lux perpetua luceat eis

My grandmother, Anna Mae Laura Flannigan, passed away yesterday afternoon. She would have been 93 this coming June 8.

NOBODY called her Anna Mae Laura! She was "Mickey," an' it please you. They named her thus to please three crotchety old aunts. But to all and sundry, she was Mickey. (Irish, you know).

Reading her recipe collection that Aunt Cathy sent me last month, "G.G." had put a 3x5 card in the front that read "This is the property of Michaela Patricia Flannigan." Then she drew a shamrock and wrote "trademark" next to it. (Michaela... WHO??) So apparently her dislike of her three given names was so great that she invented new ones that suited her fancy better!

G.G. was raised Catholic (naturally) in Waukegan, IL. She met Grandpa "Red" Edwards while he was playing sax in a band. (Once he opened for Tommy Dorsey's band). She says she fell in love with him because he was such a good dancer. Problem: he was Episcopalian! That, in addition to finances being tight, caused them to seek a justice of the peace. As they left his office, newly married, whom did they meet on the steps of the courthouse but her older sister Eleanor! So much for secrets.

They lost their first child, Nancy, to SIDS, though it wasn't called that at the time. It was that event that eventually brought them both to an acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. She and Grandpa Red loved the Lord greatly. Mom told me that G.G. contributed regularly to 22 different missionary and church works, including our own Grace Baptist Church. She led and hosted Community Bible Study for years.

My children had the opportunity to meet GG twice; most recently in 2003. We were down in CA for her 90th birthday celebration. Mom's friend Ray recorded and made a DVD of the event. When D learned of GG's passing, he immediately went to the video cabinet and said, "Well, at least we have this [to remember her by]."

There will be no memorial service for her. Her friends back in IL have mostly passed on or are in retirement/assisted living homes. Her body is being shipped to the North Shore of Chicago to rest next to her husband's. Apparently the 90th birthday was the last hurrah for the family to reunite and catch up.

This disturbs me. However, this is what Mom and Uncle John have decided. I doubt very much that I will ever see Uncle John and Aunt Cathy again in this lifetime. Grandma was the unifying bond, and now she is gone. Not that there is conflict within the family; no, there's just not a commonness, a reason to get together. Mom was 10 when John was born, and they've just never seemed to be close.

This also disturbs me. There's something to be said for marrying and staying close to family. I have cousins; literal heaps of them on Dad's side--but I don't know them at all. I'm of the renegade California branch, and I'm the sole offshoot.

I can't really castigate my parents' choice--I've done no better, myself; moving to Washington, away from my Californian roots (and Andy from his MI roots) - family is a rare treat; a twice-a-year event. (Grandma Karen is here this week!) But I want my kids to know their cousins, know them well. However, this doesn't seem very likely, distances between WA and MI being what they are--and airfare for four being what IT is! (This is why I need to get a job at Alaska Airlines like Lavonne and go WHEREVER--as "standby", yes, but the ability to GO CHEAPLY!)

Ahh, I'm rambling now.

So to quote from my favorite work in Faure's Requiem, "Libera Me":

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

(Which, being translated, is: Grant eternal rest to them, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them.

Monday, May 08, 2006


At Heathrow Airport today, an individual, later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a compass, a protractor, and a graphical calculator. Authorities believe he is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement.

He is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sing Unto God

Last night God enabled me to sing with the South Sound Classical Choir at Mason United Methodist Church in the Proctor District of Tacoma. INCREDIBLE facility, incredible acoustics. There was at least a 4-second reverberation after each cutoff.

The sanctuary itself had cathedral-high ceilings, with stained glass head-high along the left wall, and angled wall panels extending vertically to the ceiling. Every third wall panel had a white banner with colorful butterflies on it. On half of the right wall was the pipes for the pipe organ. The platform had no steps; rather, a series of curving ramps of light-colored pergo. The piano was a small Steinway L or S.

I would love to go there on a Sunday to see what kind of music they produce. Not the sermon, though; I doubt very much that the sermon would contain anything more than your typical "brotherhood of man, Fatherhood of God" twaddle.

I hadn't sung since losing my voice; I didn't know what manner of squawk would emerge when I began. But after warming up, I had a passable imitation of what I usually can sing like. Head voice, but limited chest voice. The first half of the concert went well, then we filed off for the middle section where the soloists and the madrigal ensemble sang. I took the opportunity to suck on a Ricola cough drop and get a drink.

The second half of the concert I began to feel some dry spots. The crucial thing was to make it to the last song, "Sing Unto God" by Handel, which begins with the altos singing a long melismatic section. Praise God, I did! Because RIGHT after making it through that section, I began to lose it. Only my head voice was left, and a mezzo piano at best. But it was enough!

On a side note, during the intermission I had the opportunity to sit and chat with some of the choir members. There are more born again believers in there than I had originally thought! It seemed to me like everywhere I turned, there was a Unitarian, ironically, singing the praises of God (Goddess? Buddha? Great Spirit? all one to them). But tonight I discovered other sisters in Christ. That was a blessing.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pno Pneumonia

A's chest x-ray came back negative. No pneumonia!

So why is he still coughing up his lungs and it's been 6 weeks? We don't know. But last night he got over eight hours of sleep... very unusual of late.

Unfortunately I woke him up a little after 9 this morning by practicing some Mozart.

I gave him some freshly brewed coffee to heal the breach.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Grass and Dentists. Not sure how these relate.

There's nothing better than the smell of freshly-mown grass!

Ask me how I know.

Yep! I mowed the front lawn today. I'd put Scott's Weed and Feed on it about 2 weeks ago, and it greened right up and began growing like, well, a weed! The kids were kind enough to empty out the grass catcher for me onto the compost pile in the backyard.

I have regained my voice, mostly. It's not full-strength, but Lord willing by tomorrow night I should be able to sing in the first concert of the season. I will be packing some Ricola cough drops to suck on in between halves of the program!! I can't imagine trying to sing "The Last Words of David" at present, much less the two Handel pieces, but that's tomorrow night, so I'm not gonna worry!

S. had a trip to the dentist this afternoon. When she was in there a week ago for her cleaning, the dentist accidentally chipped out one of her fillings (it must have been loose). So the office and I scheduled her for a re-do *(for free, thank you) for this afternoon at two. We showed up on time, and presented ourselves to a new receptionist, who was rather scantily clad in a spaghetti-strap halter top that didn't leave much to the imagination. She could not find our appointment in the computer! But I had their handwritten card with the information written on it. Fortunately, I know several people in that office, and they worked Sammie in, despite the fact that our appointment seemed to have vanished into the mists of computer limbo.

Oh, and the dentist's name? Dr. Chu.

S. laughed about that all the way to Burger King ("Chu, CHEW, GET IT??!") , where she got her standard chocolate milk shake. If the kids have to have their teeth numbed, I let them have a milk shake, since they can't chew food until the numbness is gone. Therefore, going to the dentist is not such a bad thing...for them!