Friday, December 30, 2011

Funky Friday, Farewell to 2011 Edition

Sometimes the end of a calendar year finds me wistfully wondering where the time has gone, bemoaning the lack of accomplishments under my belt, and getting all introspective about missed opportunities and such. But frankly, I'm glad to see 2011 go, even if it means the Mayan Apocalypse is fast upon us. (Just please don't let me spend the last day of all time sitting in the customer lounge at the Volvo dealership while my suspension is getting repaired, ok?)

It's not that 2011 was a total wash. I had the opportunity to become more intimately acquainted with various local health care establishments, and lived to tell about it. Career-wise, I held the hands of 42 more summer institute participants as they immersed themselves in the latest research in our field - and in the New River. My travels took me to both coasts, and even to central Virginia where my new friends Billy and Apple live, along with their human. (So far, Billy's the only one I'll let sit on my lap, but that may change in 2012.)

Nevertheless, and in spite of all the things that could have but didn't go wrong in 2011, I'm more than ready to move on. And I don't necessarily believe that 2012 will be all bright and shiny and full of good fortune (I've learned that the best way to avoid being disappointed is to have very low expectations). Maybe I just like the idea that after midnight Saturday, I will have an entire year to get done all the things I put off doing this year. And that makes me feel rather optimistic. Almost giddy, even.

Here's wishing you an adequate New Year. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Post Before Xmas...

Merry holidays to all my blogging friends -- may your days be festive and funky, and your chocolate chip cookies be chunky. Mmmmm....

The intelli home is decked in lights and tinsel. Cookies are baked, stockings await stuffing, and intellikid and I still haven't had time to watch that Mr. Bean episode that means Christmas is truly here. I'm slow in getting the holiday spirit this year, maybe because I've been so frikkin' busy. Or maybe I'm in denial that another year has managed to zoom by....

Meanwhile, those presents aren't gonna wrap themselves.

Peace, joy, and love to you and yours!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Weinerdog Wednesday, Chanukah Edition

As Andy Borowitz says, let's celebrate this most American of holidays, when we celebrate burning oil we don't have.

Happy Chanukah, y'all.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I still can barely stand it...but...

Ok, so it's probably, definitely, bad form to bash a job that let me fly to San Diego for a conference last week and allowed me to finagle a weekend visit with my cousin who lives in Santa Monica. Still, the fact that my co-workers and I haven't had so much as a cost-of-living increase in the past 3 or 4 years, combined with the gradual paring away of benefits, makes me feel somewhat justified in taking a tiny bit of advantage of the so-called perks the job entails. And it wasn't all sunshine and beaches, ya know....

This is the view from my hotel balcony at the conference. The serene beauty of the Mission Bay marina at sunset, however, belies the harsh reality that at 4am an amorous and/or hungry sea lion barked just outside my hotel room.

The architecture geek in me was not disappointed with SoCal's iconic Art Deco and Spanish edifices. One night my group dined al fresco just across from the Gaslamp Theatre in downtown San Diego. A young woman played cello on the sidewalk, and the passers-by were entertaining, too.

I didn't have the foresight to arrive in San Diego a day early to enjoy some sightseeing, and it was already dark when my train for LA departed at 5:55pm last Friday evening. Aware that stunning coastal scenery was zipping by just outside my window, I consoled myself with overpriced beverages from the club car. It would have been cool if the trains were of the same vintage as the stations, but then it would've taken longer to make the trip.... 

My cousin works for the Getty, and has curated an exhibit in the LA Public Library downtown. The photo of the lobby and chandelier don't do justice to the fabulousity of this space, so use your imaginations.

"The Mexican Revolution Revealed" shows photography from the Revolution and civil war, and ends with some images that have been, er, adapted for more recent purposes. 
Hard to believe I was having breakfast on the beach last Sunday. This establishment had some unorthodox staff busing the tables, but at least they didn't hover over our shoulders waiting for us to finish.

This designer chicken coop is at the site of a non-profit organization that teaches horsemanship to at -risk teenage girls. Then again, as my cuz said, "all teenage girls are at-risk." We spent the afternoon at their open house. 

I always miss the mountains when I travel to East Coast cities. That wasn't so much of a problem out west, even if the peaks weren't as high or green as those in my backyard at home.

I wasn't prepared to like SoCal as much as I did. Even if I can't find a conference to go to out that way again, I may just have to return for a vacation one of these days. Whenever I have time for a vacation, that is.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Funky Friday, DIY edition

Hey kids -- I'm afraid you're going to have to funk yourselves for the month of November. I am a way too busy wench, what with taking two classes, working at a job I can barely stand, parenting my mother, and preparing to hit the road for a conference on the left coast next week. I have December 6, my last day of class, circled and highlighted and glittered on all my's just the stuff between now and then that's not so shiny.

I wouldn't want to leave ya'll without some guidance in the funk-it-yourself department, however, so I've put together a little playlist of some ditties I like. There's one for each Friday in November, plus one. Shuffle, fast forward, whatever you like.

I'll be around...just even less than I have been.

Monday, October 31, 2011

monday meh, where is everybody? edition

This is weird. It's after 9:30 a.m. and nobody else is in the office yet. Not even any zombies.....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Funky Friday, ZOMBIES

It's the time of the season for zombies -- and these guys are still touring! -- maybe they really are Zombies....

My Friday is off to a funky start indeed. The road between Bubbaville, where I live, and Collegetown, where I work, is closed due to two separate icky wrecks -- one involving a liquid nitrogen spill (someone erroneously reported a "nitrous oxide spill" on facebook -- tee hee!) and the other a diesel fuel spill. I think it's a good day to work from home....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weinerdog Wednesday, Halloweener edition

Scooter Pie was looking quite devilish in this picture circa 2005. Happily, in the ensuing years she has not killed us in our sleep.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Funky Friday - Octubafest Continues!

Y'all can ease into the weekend with some smooth tuba jazz . . .

I love big brass!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Weinerdog Wednesday, O Diese Dakel! edition

What would Octoberfest be without some Bier und Wurst?  German artist and illustrator August Roeseler (1866-1934) captures dachshunds (Dakel) in the pursuit of these treats.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Meh

I guess this would be the opposite of pandamonium.

It was a fabulous weekend in Bubbaville and environs -- now I have a case of the Monday Mehs . . . especially when I look ahead to Wednesday's (snowy?) forecast.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fnuky Friday: Fnugg (Celebrating Octubafest)

He had me at the double tonguing.... Øystein Baadsvik performing "Fnugg" (which is a Norwegian word for something so small as to be almost invisible).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Not Friday, Not Funky - Listen Anyway!

The young musician who wrote and performs this song is a former student from the University where I work - pretty cool. It's also pretty cool to see so many younger people involved in the "Occupy" movements -- certainly none of the political parties seem to be invested in seeing that this upcoming generation has a level playing field to start their lives on. Or at least a field that isn't planted with ideological fodder that's corporate-sanctioned, genetically-modified, and barely digestible to those of us who can still think for ourselves. There is still some educating to be done, though, when too often it seems that half of the students on campus are willing to let themselves be walking billboards for the corporations that are, in one way or another, part of the problem.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Weinerdog Wednesday: Octubafest Edition

This isn't the wurst weinerdog photo I've ever seen....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Funky Friday, R.I.P. Summer edition

That Stanley is such a show-off!

R.I.P. Summer -- they are even forecasting snow flurries -- SNOW FLURRIES!! -- for the mountain tops this weekend. W.T.F.?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weinerdog Wednesday, Wagging the Dog edition

In my search for artistic depictions of weinerdogs for this weekly feature, I learned about Ammo the Dachshund, who is a dog artist of a different breed.  If you follow the links to Ammo's store, you can purchase works by the dog himself, as well as works by the Painting Ponies.

With the critters' original artwork priced at $60 and up, I'm thinking Scooter Pie, with her long, fluffy coat, would make a mighty fine paintbrush....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Meh, After the Party edition

 We end the month with another critter stuck in a tree:

  A homeowner in southern Sweden got a shock when he found a drunken elk stuck in his neighbour's apple tree. (Note: Europeans call moose elk. I don't know what they call elk.)
The animal was apparently on the hunt for fermenting apples when she lost her balance and became trapped in the tree.
Per Johansson, from Saro near Gothenburg, found the elk making a roaring noise in the garden next door.
He called the emergency services, who helped him free the boozed-up beast by sawing off branches. She spent the night recovering in the garden.
The next day she took herself off into the woods with her hangover.
It is not unusual to see elk, or moose as they are known in North America, drunk in Sweden during autumn, when there are plenty of apples about.
Other residents of Saro had seen the elk on the loose in the preceding days.
Mr Johansson said the elk appeared to be sick, drunk, or "half-stupid", the Associated Press reported.
(Original article appeared HERE)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Funky Friday

I forgot to tell y'all -- on my way back from Boston last month, I picked up my daddy's bass fiddle, which a cousin in PA had been keeping in storage. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the thing -- a friend who plays bass is going to tell me if the bass needs any work. If it is deemed playable without any immediate investment of cash for repairs, I'm thinking of taking lessons for something to do this winter. Not that I'll ever hope to sound like these guys....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Weinerdog Wednesday

I guess PETA wasn't around to protest the use of this unwitting weinerdog to promote a biography of Gypsy Rose Lee. I also wouldn't have thought that it would only take one dachshund to cover Gypsy's assets....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Meh

Feeling kinda stuck...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Funky Friday, Do You Remember? Edition

I remember.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weinerdog Wednesday, Put On Your Party Hat Edition

 That's right - it's party time this week. Scooter Pie's 12th birthday is on Friday.  In lieu of gifts, Scooter Pie is thinking of those doggies less fortunate than she, and asks that you donate to your local animal shelter.  Remember that two-legged critters aren't the only ones feeling the pinch from these hard times.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Meh, metaphorical edition

Figurative headaches, while no less irritating than their corporeal counterparts, have fewer viable treatment options.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Black Square by Kazemir Malevich

Today deserves a day of silence.
Anybody who has profited from the events of ten years ago should be ashamed.
Any innocent life lost in the ensuing wars should be remembered.

Peace, my friends.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Funky/Funny Friday, Don't Lose That Number edition

About two and a half weeks ago I got the following text message:
Hey baby its ricky 
this my nanny phone 
it cost for me to 
text i love you 
please text back its 
been so long
I thought how lucky "baby" must be to have such a suave - and thrifty - suitor as "ricky" and disregarded the message, briefly wondering if this "ricky" was the same person who was trying to get me to accept his call from the Washington County Prison a few weeks earlier...

The next morning when I woke up there was a voicemail from ricky -- he loved and missed me and implored me to call back. Hoping to nip this in the bud, I texted back, "You have the wrong number." 

A few ricky-less days followed, intellikid and I were driving Bostonward, ricky called again. Intellikid answered and tried telling ricky, "Dude, you have the wrong number." After listening to ricky's protests for a while, she hung up on him. He called back again. And again. Finally, against my "no talking while driving policy," I answered and told ricky myself that I didn't know him, he had the wrong number, and he needed to stop calling. The young man insisted that he had been texting this number for two months and wouldn't admit to any error on his part -- even though it was obvious to all but ricky that he must have transposed numbers from his "cost me to text" phone to his "nanny phone." Possibly under the influence of some intoxicant, ricky became I hung up. And after ignoring the ringing phone for several minutes more, I had to turn it off for the duration of that day's driving.

That evening I turned the phone back on, and listened to ricky's final angry voicemail promising/threatening to come by my house when he got back to Tennessee. Something to look forward to! Presumably, either Nanny took her phone back and/or ricky figured out his error, because all has been quiet the past two weeks.

Hold on....someone's at the door....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wienerdog Wednesday, Because I Asked for It edition

Today's wienerdog is a jadedj original. Since jj lives in a place that is probably even more boring than Bubbaville, he has time to do artsy things for his blogging buddies. I hope that one day he'll be able to upgrade to one of those big-screen monitors, however, so that he doesn't have to do all his artwork in pieces.

Thanks, jj!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Meh, Where's My Pool? edition

Meh. I'm spending the holiday doing laundry and sorting through the week's mail - and your blog posts. (Note to readers: Do not tailgate a hurricane when you go on vacation.)

All in all, all is well. I didn't have a very organized itinerary for my trip North - and back - the consequences of which were some scrambling for hotel accommodations a couple nights as refugees from Irene sought rooms with running water and working lights while they awaited restoration of their own utilities.

Enroute back from Boston, I stopped at Old Sturbridge Village because I like old buildings and history, and I had a coupon for $3 off admission. Ironically, the electricity and plumbing was working just fine at this recreation of a 19th-century New England community. Also ironic to be reminded that "Long before the revolution, most New England towns were required to tax themselves to provide tuition-free schools for children," while today vast numbers of citizens hold dear their right to be ignorant.

I guess if the populace can't spell freedom, they won't know when it's gone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Funky Friday, What Did You Expect? Edition

Yep. I had to do it.

...and goodnight to my dear readers. Tomorrow is a travel day as intellikid and I head Boston-ward once again. I'll be back after Labor Day. Or Labour Day, for my Canadian friends.

UPDATE:  I decided not to drive into a tropical storm, so plan to spend another day in Bubbaville. I hope everyone in Irene's path is safe!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wienerdog Wednesday, Monday Meh Edition

Knocking out two days with one post. From this site.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

All in the same boat

"Women and children first" has gained a warped new meaning as congress snips and snipes away at the country's spending.  And as much as I've been ignoring the media lately, I've not been able to ignore a certain gnawing unease, the feeling that all isn't right with the world, and it's only going to get worse. 

The university where I work is holding RIF (Reduction in Force) information sessions as a lead up to what we are told are inevitable layoffs. While I've been assured that my own job is secure (oh, good), things don't look great for those who will be unemployed. (You can bet it isn't going to be any of the six-figure salaried coaches getting laid off, either.)

I sit back and wonder how I - and all those others whose wages have stagnated, if not disappeared entirely - will  continue to afford buying gas and groceries as prices go higher. I worry about my self-employed friends and family whose livelihoods depend on regular folks having the disposable income to purchase the products and services they offer. I nudge my daughter to at least minor in a field where she'll acquire marketable skills and not just a diploma to hang on the wall when she finishes college in 2 years.(Especially if she wants that wall to be in Boston and not back here in Bubba County.)

Meanwhile I do catch sound bites wherein presidential aspirants affirm that they are going to do everything they can possibly do to see that more money keeps flowing to those poor deserving corporation-persons. They want us to believe that we the people owe it to the billionaires to see that their standard of living is preserved. Politicians, and a disturbing number of otherwise sane folks, tell them and us that's also the way to create jobs, revive the economy,  and maybe even create a slice of heaven on earth, at least here in America. 

"Bale" Out Scheme
 And I have to remind myself to breathe . . .

But then I read Maggie's recent entry in Flying the Coop , and my whatever-it-is was suddenly put into words. Although Maggie is writing from (and most often about) the idyllic Tuscan countryside, she articulates the malaise I feel here in Appalachia. We seem to share a tentative yet tenacious hold on the good life as we know and define it, in regions geographically disparate yet equally beautiful, looking off to the distant other side of this mess the world is in. 

"...[E]verywhere we go people are communicating their fear about where our world is heading. I mean, really, everyone is talking about this: in the butchers, the fruit and vegetable shop, the farmers and retirees on the streets of our village, in the towns and cities, at the dinners I recently spoke of and at Gianni' s house almost daily. We are all talking about the fragile state of the global economy, the dangerous state of global warming, and the pitiful state of government," Maggie writes. She also talks about "common sense" -- common in that it is something widely held -- and shares an e-mail that expresses what I struggle to bring to the forefront of my own consciousness:  We can do something about this, and not let them paralyze us in fear of what's to come. We can insist that our elected representatives stop being corporate whores and instead legislate for the many, not the few. 

The e-mail Maggie quotes goes so far as to propose a "Congressional Reform Act of 2011," which, realistically we cannot expect to be acted upon because, well, it would take an act of Congress. But I do acknowledge the need for more of us to get involved, to have our voices heard, and to expose the posers who try to come off as one of us during daytime campaign stumps while bedding down with their moneyed puppetmasters every night. 

Regardless of what you believe, we are all in the same boat. And it's a big enough boat that it won't matter if there are more of us on the left or the right -- that won't make a difference in whether we sink or not. What matters, it seems, is all of us paying close attention to where we're heading...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Funky Friday, Fur Hat Edition

Hey, gang -- here's a little something for my drummer friends. It's Ginger Baker's birthday today. Just look at how young and, er, young they all looked back in '68.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wienerdog Wednesday

Dachshund collage by Peter Clark, via Izzy Loves...

This nifty piece of wienerdog art inspires me to fetch my scissors and those old magazines that haven't made their way to the recycle bin yet,  and try my own hand at collage. I don't expect the results to be as spectacular as Peter Clark's, but I do expect it might be quite therapeutic.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Meh

After a long night of debauchery, emobear only wanted to go home and sleep it off. But where was home?

UPDATE:  OK, I can now properly attribute the photo to Baltimore, MD photographer Patrick Joust

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grammy Joins the 21st Century

Our mother has stubbornly resisted all of my & my sister's attempts at encouraging her to become more active in the community. Knowing that social isolation is a prime contributor to depression among our elders (don't tell her I called her the e-word!), I decided to buy Mom a new notebook computer when out doing intellikid's back-to-school shopping the other week, in hopes that having a virtual connection to her friends and family would make moot any insecurities that her mobility issues and hearing difficulties present when navigating real-world interactions.

Mom has a 20-year-old Compaq PC that is fine for playing solitaire, composing irate letters to her insurance company, and creating greeting cards - but configuring it to work with our high-speed internet was out of the question. Now I'm learning that configuring my Mom to work with the internet is more daunting than I first thought, too! I didn't take into consideration that when I'd tell mom to "right-click" she would move her hands to the keyboard to type (write)  the word "click."

We got all that straightened out now, and after e-mail 101 was finished, Mom sent off two brief messages to friends of hers. She also saved a photo from an e-mail to her pictures folder, and perhaps most remarkable of all, neither one of us swore during the entire lesson!

It'll take some time to explore all these new communication possibilities together, but I'm really looking forward to the day when Mom can have a video "conference" with baby Madison, her new great-granddaughter, who's now some 600 miles away in Orlando.

I'm not looking forward to the day when Mom discovers where the Fox News web site is, though....*sigh*

Friday, August 12, 2011

Funky Friday, Something a Little Different Edition

Wish the quality was a little bit better on this one, but being an afficionado of the Hammond B3 (it's my favorite organ, next to the pancreas), I had to share.

Summertime is still in full swing here in Bubba County and environs. Taking the day off today, and intellikid and I are going to see if any blackberries around Bass Lake have survived the heat - and the other blackberry-lovers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wienerdog Wednesday

"Hogs" - a 1964 Roto News Service pic - Via The Long and Short of it All

I read somewhere that dachshunds are the only dog breed known to eat itself to death. Maybe it just takes a while for the "full" signal to travel all the way from stomach to brain in these critters. Scooter Pie certainly doesn't give her kibble a chance to get stale in the bowl!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Potato Salad Three Ways

Red Potatoes with Garlic Scapes in Chinese Bowl by Judith Lamb

I don't own a grill, so my dinner table has seemed bereft of summer-type foods this season. To remedy the situation without investing in an outdoor cooking device that would only end up getting stolen, I decided to make potato salad, a quintessential summer dish if ever there was one.   

I was going to make Russian potato salad today, to go along with the ribeyes I bought yesterday at the Farmer’s Market.  I learned about Russian potato salad from a former co-worker, Tanya, who was from Georgia (not the one on Ray Charles' mind) and made the most delicious potato salad with fresh green peas, minced onion, diced carrots and lots of dill mixed in. It was so much better than “American" potato salad, I added it to my culinary repertoire. But my daughter doesn’t like mayonnaise, and the Bubbaville Food Lion doesn’t sell my preferred substitute -- fat-free sour cream  -- (since losing 30 pounds earlier this year I didn't want to use the full-fat sour cream --and besides, I might need those calories for a margarita later), so I made French potato salad instead.

This is the potato salad I grew up eating. My father -- a Paris-born Norwegian with a disdain for the sort of culinary horrors that were foisted upon the American public during the 1960s -- would make "French" potato salad. For years that was the ur-potato salad as far as I was concerned. Creamy redskin potatoes tossed with a vinagery-garlicky dresssing and sprinkled with parsley -- I would have happily skipped hotdogs and corn-on-the-cob and all the other cookout standards if I could fill my plate with Daddy's potato salad.

I  remember the first time I prepared what I thought was a faithful interpretation of my dad's recipe and served it to him, anticipating great praise. As it turned out, I actually had to solicit my father's feedback, and was told that I didn't get it quite right. At least I think that's what he actually said, but I heard, "it's not good enough," and so years went by before I attempted to make potato salad again. 

Today's effort is good enough, in spite of not adhering 100% faithfully to the recipe I remember Dad using. And damn the olive oil in the dressing, I'm going to have that margarita, too! I have a lot of summering to catch up on....

(Oh, the third tao of the potato salad is my step-father's mother's version, a Pennsylvania Dutch interpretation with a hot, spicy, mustard-y dressing. I don't think it would pair well with my margarita, but maybe next week, with a beer and something sausage-y....)

French Potato Salad
- Boil 2 pounds redskin or other "waxy" potatoes, unpeeled, until just fork-tender. Drain.
- When cool enough to handle, skin the potatoes and slice. Place in large bowl.

- Whisk together:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs. wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper
1-2 cloves minced garlic
    (Dip a potato slice in the dressing and taste, adjusting seasonings as necessary.)

- Pour dressing over warm potatoes. Toss with 2 Tbs. chopped parsley. Serve room temperature or chilled, but try not to eat your share right away!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Funky Friday, FAA Edition

A bit of nostalgia, for today marks 30 years since Ronnie RayGun fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers. That ol' bastard and his cronies dumped a lot of crap that's still sticking to our shoes today.

Sometimes I miss the '70s.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wienerdog Wednesday

Canadian artist David King renders the dachshund form in abstract.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Meh

Who would've guessed that even a Roy Lichstenstein painting gets annoying phone calls? 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stick a fork in me....

I'm done! 

Done with the cat-herding, teeth-gnashing, nail-biting, head-banging, bum-kissing phase of my job that consumes 4-5 weeks of my life each summer.  It doesn't matter how many years I've done this previously, there will inevitably be some new challenge that tests my patience, diplomacy skills, endurance, and creativity. I didn't entertain any hope that this summer would be any different, therefore I was not disappointed. 

One of the activities that traditionally appears on the institute calendar is a canoe trip. I've been able to weasel out of cancel this activity twice, claiming that drought would make the trip more of a hike than a boat ride. This year, however, the rain gods have blessed our corner of the Appalachians (sorry, Texas!) and so it would take an active thunderstorm or utter lack of interest to be able to credibly call off the outing. Strike three...and 16  of us are caravaning to an outfitter on the headwaters of the New River for a relaxing afternoon. 

Or not.

My first mistake was in offering the participants a menu of activities to choose from. I personally didn't want to do the 6-mile canoe trip, which involves a portage around a low bridge. My still-hurting knee would not be happy with lugging a 100 pound boat up and back down a muddy river bank. Floating in an innertube, however, sounded delightful.

At the river bank, everyone was excited to get on the water and get some relief from the afternoon sun. Everyone except Ann, that is. Ann stepped out of the van and stood motionless, staring at the stretch of river in front of us. Regardless of the fact that this far upriver, the New basically looks like this:

...Ann thought it looked like this:

Despite my assurances that the river wasn't more than knee-deep most places, Ann was sure the raging 3mph current would sweep her away (even though she claimed that she could have qualified to be a lifeguard in college). I knew Ann was one of the more senior members of the group, but she was in good shape, and even my limited experience with the river gave me the confidence that she could handle a float downriver. I mean, if you think you're going to fast, just stand up and walk to shore! 

Once I assured Ann that she would be able to touch bottom at any point in the trip, and that I would be happy (I lied) to take an abbreviated, one-hour float with her, she decided to give it a try. Hearing that a one-hour tube trip was now an option, Linda wanted to join us, too. Linda is around my age, but that is about all we have in common. An African American from Houston, Linda declared that she needed to quit thinking she could be a nature girl. She was game for a float down the river, but would not leave her "Highland Hiking Stick," purchased the day before at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, behind in the van. And why was Ann still in her jeans...?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Circle of Strife

 I crossed the finish line, but I still have one lap to go. Friday I sent my institute participants home. I will have adventures to share with you soon enough. Today, however, is the start of a week-long "mini" institute. Let's hope I only have mini headaches to deal with!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

At last, some good news!

Thanks to my niece, the family has gained a new member -- welcome news in light of the losses we've suffered this year.

Happy to have you on board, baby Madison!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Post No. 222

Wherein the author posts her annual rant (see here and here) about the trials and tribulations of a program director charged with the happiness and well-being of several dozen adults who spend a month attending the professional development institute she manages. As different and diverse as every group of attendees is, they bring the same irritations with them year after year. You're staying in a university residence hall, folks, not the Marriott. Not even the La Quinta, for that matter. What do you expect in the way of amenities? Didn't the FAQ page, the blog, the email and the letter we sent all recommend that you should bring your own clothes hangers? Oh, and you were provided with information regarding transportation arrangements back in January, so why are you surprised that, because you chose to fly stand-by, there is no smiling university motorpool driver to greet you when you arrive at the airport a day late? 

I am no better at exercising patience when asked the same question a gazillion times, and my attempt at using humor to de-fuse the stress a colleague was feeling backfired terribly the other day. And I have an awful feeling that the worst is yet to come . . . .

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Now, Where Was I . . .?

I wasn't raptured. And I wasn't around to notice the alleged Blogger quirkiness some have reported. I didn't leave my heart in San Francisco, nor my brain in Boston (although I may have dropped my motivation somewhere along I-81 in Virginia). I haven't been contemplating a run for public office. No, I guess the only explanation/excuse I have for not posting lately is that I'm sitting in a big ol' pile of meh and it's just too much trouble to dig myself out of it.

The unseasonably hot weather isn't helping any. Being a pale Nordic type, I am disinclined to engage in anything more strenuous than holding open the pages of a good book once the temperatures rise above 80. So at least I've been doing a fair bit of reading (Art Life Chooks, The Tao of Pooh (again), The Lost Continent...)

Another part of the problem is feeling overwhelmed by the number of un-checked-off tasks on my to-do list. (But hey, at least I got the Christmas decorations put away before Easter!) But I've been working on this, choosing to believe that focusing on one task at a time will yield greater success than trying to do it all at once. Of course this means prioritizing those tasks...

Maybe a simplified "To Do" list is the answer:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Funky Friday, Pre-Rapture Edition

I decided not to worry about getting back on my diet just yet -- not that I expect to be Raptured or anything, but I know the owner of my favorite bakery is a pretty devout Christian, and I would like one more cinnamon roll, just in case...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wienerdog Wednesday, Welcome Home Edition

Scooter Pie at the kennel doggy camp.

It's good to be home, although it means returning to work tomorrow. The Road Trip Without a Name went well, high cost of gasoline aside. I survived the first difficult leg of the trip: 400+ miles in the car with my mother, 3 mostly sleepless nights on The World's Most Uncomfortable Couch, and even avoided eating my way through Central Market, although a peanut butter whoopie pie did find its way into my basket somehow.

Boston was good, too -- reunited with intellikid Thursday evening, she treated me to a belated birthday dinner and then, since my knee was behaving, we walked around Brookline's Coolidge Corner neighborhood. If money and job and karma ever so dictate it, I'd move there instantly! In the meantime, I've got 2 more years of daughter dear's college career to make bi-annual pilgrimages to Beantown and environs.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

M isn't just for "Meh"

Happy Mother's Day

Alas, no breakfast in bed for me this Mother's Day -- intellikid is busily preparing for finals (I hope), while I prepare to pack for the trip Bostonward to retrieve her. Last year at this time I was wrapping up the Magical Mystery Midlife Tour, a solo sojourn that was celebratory in nature. This trip, my mother will accompany me as far as Pennsylvania, where she'll have some time to spend with family there, and likely make a sad final visit to her sister Lois's house, where Mom spent every summer for the past 6 years. I hope there will be moments of celebration for her, too.

If you've been following along here for a while, you already know that I share a house with my mother, and of course intellikid still parks here during school breaks. The 3 generation household (plus one dog) has suited us fairly well, although there have been minor power struggles between my mother and I, who differ ideologically on many matters. For some time, though, I've been working on honing that unconditional love thing, trying to be more accepting of the differences that in the end don't really matter. It's a good thing, too, because I think I'll need all the self-control and inner strength I can muster to keep sane while spending the day in the car with Mom tomorrow.

I hope I have 6 hours' worth of Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach, and Chopin ...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I said, enough already....

RIP Grandpa.
95 years young.

Hope, Redux

I wasn't sure if intellikid would be a participant in the revelry that broke out on many college campuses early Monday morning following the news of Osama Bin Laden's capture. But there she is, along with several thousand other students from BU and other schools, taking to the streets of Boston in a . . . what? What was it they were taking part in, exactly? Another BU student explains:

We have been given reasons to be cynical, and the rally represented a brief departure from that. We were not celebrating the death of an enemy. We were celebrating because, ten years later, after a childhood spent being told that our futures looked bleak, we have something to celebrate about.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Meh, Enough Already Edition

May Basket, by Andrew Wyeth

In light of the late night news yesterday, maybe a Surrealist painting would have been more appropriate this morning...

Any celebratory impulse has been tempered by the loss my family experienced - a dear Aunt, my mother's eldest sister, passed away Sunday morning. This is the aunt whose son died of cancer earlier this year. I believe that she put her own needs on hold while dealing with my cousin's illness, and it was just too late when she finally sought attention for the ills that had been troubling her.

Her death is going to leave a huge hole in my mother's life -- the two of them talked on the phone at least once a day, and my mother would spend several months each summer at Lois's place in Pennsylvania. I had been planning to make the time to visit when intellikid and I drive through on our way back from Boston in a couple weeks...damn.

I know that I would be inconsolable if anything happened to my sister, so I'm keeping within hugging distance of my mom.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Funky Friday, Metaphorically Meteorological Edition

We had some heavy weather here in Bubba County Wednesday night. No sooner had I fallen asleep, just after midnight, when that line of storms that kicked ass in Alabama meandered up through East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, giving my house a good shaking along the way but fortunately doing no nearby damage except downing some already dead tree limbs and decorating the neighbor's yard with trash can lids from all around the block. It was pretty scary nonetheless. The real destruction took place a few miles west of me, where a tornado touched down and rearranged not just folks' furniture, but their whole houses. And their lives. This small community is mourning the loss of two residents, and who knows what else.

My heart goes out to all who have been dealt a blow by the relentless Spring weather this year. Let's hope we can catch our breath before....hurricane season arrives!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wienerdog Wednesday

Via Weimar:Art and Modernity
Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash, by Giacomo Balla (1912)