Jabberwocky for 2005


[Comments] (2) Alice and Jerry: When I was a little girl, I spent much time at my Grandma Call's house. I think it was because my mother never got along with me, and she wanted to get rid of me every summer. At any rate, there was an old reader at Grandma's house, Friendly Village, part of the Alice and Jerry series. There were not very many other books of interest to a kid, and I "read" Alice and Jerry often, eventually learning to read by reading this book. At some point, perhaps when my grandmother died, I took this book home with me, and with it I taught my own children to read. The stories and illustrations are wonderful.

The Alice and Jerry books have lovely watercolor pictures that turned me into an illustration snob quite young. The stories are also charming, but in the end, the whole series encapsulates a way of life that was dying when I was a child, and is now long gone. I don't know how much of Friendly Village's small town Main Street America aura actually translated into reality, but to a population traumatized by the depression and two world wars, the concept brought great comfort. It brought comfort to me, and I didn't even live through those bad years.

As an adult, I started collecting Alice and Jerry books, and have paid a pretty penny in antique stores for a couple of them. For Christmas, Leonard gave me enough books, bought on ebay, to double my collection, so now I'm all set for bedtime stories on a cold winter's night!

I note that Alice and Jerry were published before the 1950 postwar housewifely sensibility took root, so the books have Alice having adventures with Jerry and their friends, running up the creek and skipping down the road. Because I absorbed this paradigm (and had a rural childhood full of freedom and exploration myself), Dick and Jane, when I started school, set my teeth on edge. I think Dick and Jane really did their share to hammer the postwar sex roles into children, even after their mothers had been strong figures all through the first half of the century. The Dick and Jane calendar I received for Christmas last year finished off December with a whallop. Jane, Grandmother, and Sally are in the kitchen slaving away making cookies, and Dick is standing there with his plate in his hands, ready to eat.

Probably nobody realized this consciously, but subtly it influenced the role attitudes of a whole generation. Including leaders of the Church. Compare with Alice and Jerry, hanging off tree branches and pushing homemade boats up the creek. It's a healthy innoculation against textbook poisoning.

[Comments] (1) My 2004 Christmas Letter: Christmas 2004

Dear Friends and Family:

Happy New Year! At least we hope it will be. 2004 was a tough year worldwide, with war, terrorism, natural disasters, a presidential election which we will not discuss, and not even a new Harry Potter book to ease the pain. Here on this home front, its been rough too, what with cycling in and out of the hospital and scratching to stay alive, but there have been a few bright spots.

I began 2004 in San Antonio, where I spent New Years with my sister Anne. I was on my way to Little Rock, taking a car to my son Leonard, who was there working on the Wesley Clark campaign. It was an adventure-filled trip, and after that I didnt go many places the rest of the year, just a couple of quick jaunts to San Francisco and Utah. Mostly my life is very quiet. I go to teach my class at the college, come home, go back to bed for the rest of the day, and then in the evening do some genealogy. I also stay busy being the bulletin typist and newsletter editor at church. This is harder than it sounds, because I have to chase people down and pound their news out of them, and then they argue when I try to take their picture. It reminds me of being on the school paper in high schoolsome things never change.

Leonard is still developing software in San Francisco, Susie and John are starting Johns last ( ! ) semester at BYU, and Rachel graduated from UCLA this year and is home with me. I hardly ever see her because she is working two jobs, but its nice to have someone in the house besides me and the dogs and cats and fishies. I still cant believe Ive gotten all of my children through college. Ten years ago my goal was to live long enough to see them through high school, and here we are in 2005, looking at a new year, watching them build their lives, and wondering what the future will bring.

One milestone of 2004 was the passing of my father-in-law, Dalton Richardson. I was terrified of him when I first came into the family as a foolish bride, but over the years I grew to love him very much. It was a difficult and sad time for the whole family, but we derive great comfort from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that we can all be together again in the next life.

An adventure this summer was surgery to put a tube in my stomacha fairly rare procedure with a scary fatality rate, but the whispered hope that if it were successful, I would be able to be taken off the IV and catheter. That has not happened, but I think the quality of my life has improved a tiny fraction. I am always interested in scientific things, and todays medical advances allow us to see things like the inside of our own stomachs, which I find fascinating even as other people are disgusted. The doctor said when he went in there, he was amazed that someone in such bad shape could still be alive and walking around, but I guess I just dont know any better, so I keep on keeping on. If I could get unhooked from these tubes, I would travel more, so we shall see what the future brings.

I am getting a new email address, and I dont know what it will be, but franny@inreach.com should be good until March, as is whitneyfrances@yahoo.com. So check out my weblog at www.crummy.com/jabberwocky for an update when I get the new address. I try to blog every day, so if you are ever wondering about me, you can go there to see, and you can even leave a comment by clicking on the little speech bubble by the date.

I close by sending my love to all of you. Lets raise a toast in this new year for memories of times past and the affection we share, and a hope for a future built upon faith, hope, and charity, which is the pure love of Christ. I remember the good times we have had in the past and look forward to a peaceful future.

Love, Frances

[Comments] (2) New Address: I have a new address--frannyw@sbcglobal.net. Please send me some mail, someone, so I can see it if works.

Bleah: It doesn't work.

[Comments] (3) What Today Bought: I thought I might make it through the day without bring sick, but during naptime Jellybean threw up on my bed, and it made me sick to clean it up. While Irma was here, I cleaned house with her, and then I spent most of the rest of the day reading one of my new Terry Pratchett books. Reminds me I should go to amazon and take all the books I got for Christmas off my wish list.

I spent two hours with tech support this evening and got my new email address to work. Trouble is, it won't work with Netscape, but that's a problem for another day.

[Comments] (1) Beansbeansbeansbeans: I have fifteen bean mix soaking ready to cook tomorrow. I wanted to make something like She Who Must Not Be Named made for the ward chili cookoff. It was kind of like Boston Baked Beans, only with fifteen bean. She was rude and wouldn't give me the recipe at the time; I hate it when people are like that.

I looked on the net and there are thousands of recipes, most of them using canned beans. Hello? Where is the financial savings in that?

[Comments] (4) Dilemma: I got a call on my cell phone this morning. It took awhile for me to find my phone, so I missed the call. It wasn't a number that is in my phonebook, so I called it back and said "You called me?"

A very hostile female voice said, "Who are you?" I said, "You are the one who called me, who are YOU?"

"My husband had this number in his phonebook. I want to know who he's been calling." "Well, who is your husband?" "Anthony." "Well, I don't know any Anthony."

So we hung up, and then I figured out it must have been one of my students. Anthony is a hard working boy, very dedicated and reliable. The light of his life, he says, is his little boy, and he is determinned to get through school so that he can support that baby. But a wife with that Attitude???

Anthony is registered again in one of my classes for next semester, and I'm wondering if I should take him aside and tell him this little story? Or should I just let her go on playing this little game of distrust until it goes blooey in her face?

I don't like getting involved with this, but now it looks like if Anthony and I ever speak by phone again, the woman will be hot on my trail. Grr.

I might add that one of the reasons I use my cell phone for work is because I don't have a phone on my desk. We have two in our "office" (I use the word loosely) but they are for like a hundred people to share and I never can figure out how to get my messages off.

[Comments] (20) Poor Little Orphan: I've decided that Sadie is going to have to find another home. I'm getting sicker and sicker, and I just don't have what it takes to give her the attention she needs. So this is official notice for those who have a vested interest in the dog. Do you want her--NOW? If no one in the family, I will offer her to my old roommate Evaun, and if Evaun can't take her, then put an ad on the bulletin board at the vets.

Gimmeabreak: Jamba Juice has taken the Strawberry Tsunami off its menu "out of respect for the tsunami victims." You can still order one though.

15 Minutes of Fame: Uncle David's restaurant in Brigham City, the Idle Isle, is listed on epicurious.com as one of the ten best small town cafes in the country. Of course it doesn't belong to Uncle David anymore, since he's been buried since the end of 1993. I wonder if we waltzed in there, would they still give us a free meal?

[Comments] (2) Meanwhile, Back on Discworld: I went to Barnes & Noble today and spend the gift card Don and Brett gave me for Christmas. I got three more Terry Pratchett books. I have already read the three I received for Christmas. I spent some time sitting on the floor figuring out what there is out there that I don't have. Of course, some of the ones I have read I don't have because Jeannette has them. Or Leonard maybe.

I don't know what Mr. Prachett is going to do about me because I can read faster than he can write.

I went to Amazon and took all the books I got for Christmas off my wish list.

I went looking for a piece of furniture to set up in the laundry room to sprout my seeds on. The seeds should be here tomorrow. The thing I ended up liking best was a "kitchen cabinet" that cost $99. That's pretty pricey, so I thought I'd look some more. I actually started out just wanting a folding table (the ones I have are too big) but if I get something with storage capability I can get the medical stuff off the countertop. (Yay!)

[Comments] (4) Ok So Let's Do This: How about this scenario. John and Susie come to visit their decrepit mother over Presidents Day and take the muffin back to Utah. Kristen keeps her until they move. Then John and Susie get her. and bring her back to California. Lucky she loves to ride in the car.

Her shots are due this month so I need to get her over to the d-o-c-t-o-r.

[Comments] (3) How Much Longer?: I asked Dr. Amin if he could give me a realistic estimate of how much longer I have to live. He said he can't because realistically he would have said I would have died years ago, and we've had some close calls, and he thinks I am here because of my spirit.

He says I don't have any of the life threatening infections that he could say, Oh, this one takes six days, or six weeks, or six months. So I should just go on day to day. Which I have been. But this day was spent in bed.

Weekend: I think I overdid it on Saturday. I worked in the yard, went to Target, and went to a movie with Doris Jackman. We saw Stripes. It was a cute movie with great appeal to nine-year-old girls. So today I am exhausted and came home after church to go back to bed.

I read one of my new Tery Pratchett books, Hogfather.

I hope my stomach gets better soon. Nothing, nothing, nothing stays down. Tuesday I can call and make an appointment with the stomach doctor.

[Comments] (5) Wimoweh: Dawn comes to the savanna. The Lion has hunted down a cardboard box, using great cunning and strategic skill. He has moved in for the kill, protecting the pride from the great danger of cardboard boxes. One cannot be too careful, on the savanna. Unfortunately, it was the cardboard box that contained the magazines to take to the Langley's. The magazines are no longer nice--but of course the Lion is! He yawns and rests amid the scattered bits of his victim. The Lion is very Brave, but even so, he defers to the Black Leopardess, and he runs from the Jackal.

Dawn will come tomorrow to the savanna. The sun will rise, spreading prickly shadows from the baobab trees. The Lion will walk, sleek and fearless. The sound track will play Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze", but they can't, really, you know, not on the savanna. The Lion has it all under control because you can't be too careful. On the savanna.

[Comments] (1) Mrs. McGregor: Joey Nations came over yesterday and helped me move bricks to box in a vegetable garden. We had room for five raised beds. Two of them are going to contain strawberries. Juan is going to remodel the sprinkler system to the new scheme. I have planted grape tomatoes--red and yellow, and bush cucumbers. They are "hatching" in the kitchen right now. I also planted a lot of lettuce and spinach out among the flowers. The rest of the vegetables I will buy already started at the nursery, which Doris Jackman says is indicative of the Decline of Western Civilization.

Probably the neighbor kids will eat some of the produce but oh well.

I was explaining to Juan why I moved the vegetable garden from the backyard to the street, and he understood instantly. "So it won't get holes in it." Which is a very kind and diplomatic way of putting things.

Aha!: My cucumbers are germinating!

[Comments] (6) Ugh!: Sitting around today with a fever. Going to try to go to Guilt and Lies meeting tonight though.

[Comments] (4) Who Steals My Purse Steals Trash: It seems like I just cleaned out my purse and here it is again, loaded with receipts, junk, mess, and crinkled currency. People give you scraps of paper with phone numbers, and where does it go? In the purse. Even the things that belong in there are kind of trashy, really. Library card. Golden Eagle Passport (whoa, I use this every single time I visit a National Park!) All kinds of various stuff. This purse needs a seeing to.

[Comments] (3) Discouragement: I did nothing but sleep all day. Tummy is very unhappy also. I wonder how much of my problem is really my health and how much of it is just plain discouragement?

[Comments] (2) Shake It!: We haven't had any little earthquakes in the last week. Hmmmm. Does that mean it's building up for a Big One?

[Comments] (3) Another Bad Day: I was getting ready for church and I fainted again. Rachel got me to bed and I didn't wake up until 6 p.m. Poor Gretel was outside that whole time. Those dizzy spells really take the starch out of a person.

[Comments] (2) New Semester: Today was the first day of school. It's good to be back. I had a bazillion people trying to get into my 8 a.m. class. Some of the ones that aren't going to make the cut are some very nice girls I had last semester. They came afterward and begged and sobbed and cried. I feel really bad about this.

I let them go earliish so that I could run to the bathroom, and still was late to my next class. I think it's going to be hard having the classes back to back. It was nice, however, that I was all done at 10:30 a.m. I came home and went back to bed, and now I feel pretty human.

We have some new student workers in the tutoring center. Change goes round and round.

I decided to make Lemon Bars for the placement reading on Friday. I'll have to see how much of it I can do in increments.

I have two girls I had when they were seventh graders at Chipman in my English 60 class, and a boy in my 68. The boy was a horrible kid; I hope he is nicer now. I gave them all what for for not listening to me back then; now they are stuck with me another goround.

Quick Quake: No quakes today, except one in Willows, which is pretty far away from here. There was, however, one yesterday. I didn't check the quakes yesterday because I was Out Of It, but I don't remember feeling it either. Usually if I'm lying in bed I can feel anything that is larger than a 2. Of course, that depends on where the epicenter is as well. Maybe I was really Out Of It.

[Comments] (2) Ahhhhh! They Got Me!: I made the mistake of reading the plea from the ASPCA while I was opening the envelope to get out the address labels they sent me. *sobs* Now I'm going to have to send them money.

[Comments] (2) Oh Me Oh My!: I think I mentioned that a boy I taught at Chipman is registered for my 9:30 class. He was a horrible kid as a seventh grader (but then, weren't we all?) He didn't do so well on his writing sample today. It looks like he never went to high school at all. So far his behavior has been decent, but does he ever have a gigantic attitude.

[Comments] (2) Flat!: So this guy thinks he is going to commit suicide, and he parks his car on the train tracks. Now lookit all the people killed and seriously injured. Innocent people, who never had a clue, and who probably would have sympathized with his angst but advised him that suicide is not the way to go because people get hurt. Suicide by hurting a lot of people is even more pathological.

When I was a kid we used to put pennies on the track to squish them flat. I had a flat penny I made in Salt Lake City for years, until I gave it to Leonard when he was a little boy. One day, Paul Oman put a windshield wiper that he found in the street on the track. The train duly squished part of it, but we decided that This Is Not Okay. Pennies, ok. Car parts, no.

[Comments] (2) Lemon Tree, Very Pretty: I made lemon bars to take to the placement essay reading in the morning. The lemon tree has been contributing its little heart out the last couple of months. They are getting very ripe, and it's time to bring them in and juice them out.

I was going to do that, but ever since I got up this morning I've been surviving by saying "IthinkIcanIthinkIcan". So I left a bunch on the tree and a colander full on the kitchen counter. Probably a couple of quarts of lemon juice left, all told.

This is a Meyer lemon, which you can't get in stores, and they are really yummy. Now that they are getting ripe, I've seen oranges that are yellower. The tree is starting to bud out for next year already.

No recent nearby earthquakes today, but one just happened in Cupertino.

[Comments] (5) Placement: We had 1600 placement essays to read this morning. There were about 27 teachers there, bt we didn't finish before we burned out. We read from 8:30 to one. I don't know where they will find teachers or class sections for all those students. It's a hard job because you have to stay mentlly alert all the time and evaluate carefully so that the student is placed in the class where they can be most successful. I have a headache now.

Lots of people ate the lemon bars and enjoyed them very much--a bit of a lift. When I came home I went to bed, and then when I got up I took lemon bars to my visiting teaching families. I also took back Sherrie Lewis's Christmas plate with some on it. Gretel went with me, and it was a nice long ride in the car for her.

Today I ate about 1/2 cup of consomme and a chunck of watermelon before I threw up. Then I ate a chunk of cantelope and three bites of pita bread. Threw up again. Also I have drunk a small bottle of cranberry juice.

While I was outside throwing up into the trash can, Becky Mooney came out and said "Are you all right". I don't know what to say when people ask that. I don't know what to say when people ask how I am feeling. The real answer is, hey people, I feel rotten. I always feel rotten. I'm DYING, for goodness sake. And not quickly and cleanly either, but slowly and painfully. But I don't think it pays to talk about it because what is the point? Doesn't change anything. So, I need to think of something to say that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings and makes them feel better.

[Comments] (1) Elisabeth: I am reading the fascinating memoirs of Madame Vigee Lebrun (the painter.) She was born in 1755 and lived through the monarchy, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and even after. I've always admired her art, so I picked up a copy of her memoirs. (In translation of course.) She knew just everyone, and tells all while never being catty.

Particularly interesting are the places where she evaluates paintings she sees. Many of them are famous paintings which will be familiar to the reader, and seeing them through Vigee Lebrun's eyes makes them come alive again. Just as interesting are the sections in which she talks about the paintings she is doing. I'm having a hard time putting the book down.

[Comments] (2) Poor Beans!: I cooked some beans today--or tried to. They are pretty old. I had to boil them all morning and they STILL aren't as tender as I might wish. Also, I thought I had celery, and I didn't. I thought I had bought some ham to cook with them, and I hadn't. I didn't have any summer savory. I know I planted some, but I sure couldn't find the plant. I didn't have a dried red chile ancho. I'm out of bay leaves, and I haven't bought more because I have ordered a bay leaf bush, which should be here in a couple of weeks.

All in all, it's a real meal of impoverishment, but the cornbread I made to go with the beans is yummy.

[Comments] (1) Regular Old Monday: I went to work, and I was soooooo tired and nauseated. I came home afterward and went back to bed with Tonks, and that helped some. My nurse spoke sternly with me about losing weight. Well, I can't help that. After I got up (Tonks stayed in bed) I graded papers and paid bills.

The snails have shredded my lettuce.

[Comments] (3) Ecological: After work today I went to Country Club Liquors and bought a roll of stamps from their little post office booth. FINALLY all the Christmas letters are going to be out of my life. And I can also return the Franchise Tax Board's invitation for amnesty on my 1996 taxes. Won't that be good to have out of my hair?

After that, I went to Green Frog, where I bought some healthy food, mostly fruit. I also bought a Green Frog canvas shopping bag so I can avoid bringing home any more plastic bags than I have to. And I picked up some things to make a pasta salad for the placement essay reading on Friday.

One thing I like to put in pasta salad is cherry tomatoes. I bought the regular ones, but at Green Frog they had a small package (a third the size of a cherry tomato basket) for $4.99. It was an assortment of all kinds of cherry tomatoes and little yellow pear tomatoes. Ouch. I passed on it. I'm going to grow some nice tomatoes this year, I hope. I keep trying but haven't been to successful in this yard. I think something is wrong with my dirt. I KNOW something is wrong with the dirt in the side yard off my bedroom deck. Nothing will grow; everything that tries to just withers. Even weeds. Except Bermuda grass.

Bermuda grass is the cockroach of the flowerbed world.

I have a daffodil that opened this morning--so early! Before the crocuses even.

[Comments] (3) Boo Hoo: Somebody stole my shovel. It has been pointed out to me by helpful people that *I* am the one who left it in the yard, and this is true. I have a very bad habit of not putting gardening tools away. I suppose I have learned my lesson now.

I had it stuck out in the side yard with a note for Juan taped to it. Somebody took the note, too.

[Comments] (2) Will She Or Won't She?: People sometimes ask if Xochitl will let them pet her. It's a complicated answer. She might, and she might not. Or she might even let you pet her while she purrs, right up to the nanosecond when she removes your hand.

I went to the stomach doctor today, Dr. Manu. He said we are starting to run out of options. I am going for another endoscopy on February 11. Outpatient. He was making hospital noises, but I told him to hush.

Notes from Jeremiah: I just finished reading The Sixth Lamentation, by William Broderick. It's a literary mystery/detective story, a genre I should read more often. The story is about the various lives and fallout of holocaust survivors as they come together about the trial of a Nazi in Londong in 1995. It's beautifully written and so well put together you couldn't call it "clever" because it's more than that.

I knew a Bill Broderick in high school, but somehow I think it's not the same one!

[Comments] (1) Green Mother Nature: I got outside today and did some planting that needed to be done. I only lasted about fifteen minutes, and now I am exhausted. The weeds are getting bigger and bigger, but I don't seem to have the strength to pull them.

[Comments] (1) Who is Alfredo?: Today is National Fettuccini Alfredo Day. After work I am going to go buy the stuff to make some.

In other news, popcorn is popping on the apricot tree.

[Comments] (3) Alfredo Update: I made the fettuccini, and it turned out tasting really good. I let it boil just a titch too long and it curdled a little but it still tasted fine.

I haven't had so much nausea on these new pills (Just Parkinson's style trembling!), so I was hoping things would go better on the stomach front. No such luck. I have to go to the hospital Friday for an endoscopy, so we shall see.

[Comments] (5) Dash It!: I got my hopes high when I saw the new BYU magazine has an article about The Face of Need--the way it started out, I thought the article was going to be about beggars and how to tell the genuine ones from the scam artists. This is something I struggle with. But no, the article is about spriritual need, dash it.

I usually give a dollar to the homeless veteran standing on the freeway ramp, and I usually turn anyone who knocks at my door away. (I don't like to be bothered at home.) But I have had people knocking who wanted money, and when I offered food, they wouldn't take it, and that bothers me. I wish I could tell the difference. Truth to tell, they are mostly scam artists. My husband was Bishop for six years in downtown Los Angeles, and we saw all kinds of people who thought they were needy, but they were just lazy. Some people want others to solve all their problems.

I realize the best way around this is to pay my fast offering and let others do the discernment, but I'd like to be able to know if the guy on the freeway ramp is for real.

[Comments] (1) Not So Fun: Tomorrow I go in for another endoscopy. Rachel is going to take me. So I guess tomorrow is useless. Another week gone by and too weak to weed. My tomatoes and cucumbers are turning into quite the little plants. The flowers I started at the same time are slow.

I made up a file folder of documents the hospital always wants: Advance Directive, list of medications, and TPN orders. I can't think of anything else to put in it. Don't want to put my blue cross card in it because it might fall out. I hope it expedites things.

[Comments] (3) Must Be Feeling Better: I must be feeling better--I woke up this morning plenty early. The bummer is church isn't until 1:00 and I'll probably be way ready for a nap by then. I am making some Spanish rice to go with the frijoles de olla I thawed out. I am thinking of making Arroz con Pollo for when John and Susie are here, and some black beans.

There And Back Again: Tonight Reid Jackman came over to put together the kitchen cabinet I bought to grow plants on (it's been a month!) but the first piece out of the box was broken. He helped me take it back to Target. We wanted to get another one but they were out of them. So I still have tomatoes on the countertop.

[Comments] (10) Ask Me If I Hate The Phone Company: My cell phone broke, so off I trucked to the store to see what I could do about it. They sent me home to call customer service on an 800 number--always such a pleasure, what with punching in a gazillion numbers in a menu, waiting forever, and then when you get transferred, punching in the same numbers AGAIN. I must have spent four hours on the phone yesterday, and the upshot was they wouldn't do anything for me unless I would transfer my AT&T contract to a Cingular one, extend it for one year, and they would give me a "discount" on a new phone. What a ripoff.

The guy (obviously an outsource guy and very hard to understand) then informed me that he couldn't do this for me and I would have to call ANOTHER 800 number and explain to him about the break. I passed on that, and went back to the store today. Mistake. The computers were down, the clerk was slow, and he kept stopping taking care of me to help every random person who wandered in. In addition, the SIM card from my old phone can't go in my new one so I will have to re-do all my phone numbers. Grrrrrr.

What I am waiting for is for them to mess up the billing. I switched from my old contract to the new one in October, and have yet to have a month when they haven't messed up the billing. The fun thing in January was the time they refunded my payment in a check and then disconnected my phone for non-payment. Sigh.

In addition, my old nemesis, Specialty Labs, has billed the most recent viral load test to Medicare, which has (surprisingly) never heard of me.

[Comments] (3) Busy Day: Today after work I went to White Forest and got 50 strawberry plants, a bunch of veggie seeds, a bell pepper, an Anaheim pepper, and whee! This year they had Japanese eggplants, which I prefer for what I use them for mostly. (Pasta sauce). It's raining so I didnt plant them. I went to the Ralph's going out of business sale, and I dont think I saved any money because their prices are so high. It was kind of sad--bare shelves everywhere. The sole, lonely thing left in the produce department was a sad little pile of almonds in the shell. And one random Brazil nut.

Then I went to Asia Market to get nori. I thought it would be fun to make sushi for one of our meals while John and Susie are here. What a place! You can hardly move in there, all kinds of exotic stuff. John would love it. I haven't been there since they moved from Brundage, and what is missing is the grandma behind the counter cooking stir fry to order. Instead, the front of the store is occupied by Teriyaki Bowl (chain.) Sheesh. I broke down and bought some rice bowls because they have horses on them. Also, I found one bowl that had PENGUINS! They didn't have any others, so I bought the lone penguin bowl, and I drank miso soup out of it this afternoon.

I made cookies and bean salad and put some black beans to soak, to get a start on cooking for my kids. Young's has tri-tip on sale, so I'll have to go get some.

[Comments] (1) Thank You, Saint Anthony: My shovel has reappeared. I guess someone just needed a shovel for a while. Florence Z. always told us that St. Anthony will help you even if you're not Catholic, and I guess it's true.

[Comments] (2) Rainy Day: I was going to work in the garden but it is raining. Gretel and I went to White Forest (Again) and bought more seeds, some walk-on bark, and some tomato cages. I bought bone meal, blood meal, cottonseed meal, and beer to try to build up the soil, which is very poor in that locale. Then I left Gretel at home and went to Lowe's.

I have always gone to Lowe's with the expectation that they will not have what I came there for, and I was not disappointed. I went to buy a 2X4 folding banquet table, which Brother Jackman said they have, and they were out. They had the 2X6 size, but that won't fit in the space. I ended up buying two "personal tables" instead. They seem useful, flexible, and the height is adjustable, so I think they will work out fine. I didn't get around to repotting my tomato plants or starting any seeds on the tables; that will be for tomorrow.

On the way home I went to Young's for groceries for our feasting this weekend. (That is where I bought the beer, and thank goodness I did because while it was $1.19 at Young's, it is $1.59 at Albertson's.

Dropped groceries off at home and went to Albertson's for shrimp, crab, and chicken breast.

I spent the day chopping, grinding, and shredding for Arroz con Pollo, sushi, and tri-tip. THey didn't have any daikon, so I grated regular radishes. The result is beautiful! I'll have to remember it for a salad. I cracked the crab leg I bought and decided it might not be enough, so I decided to go back to Albertson's. I needed to buy some bacon for John, anyhow. I also got some chopped ham for omelettes.

I made sunumono and it turned out really good, even without marinating. I cooked a bag of black beans. Susie and John won't be here until midnight, so I didn't make dinner. Just ate some bean salad (which I made yesterday.) The store brand canned garbanzos are tough, and I don't think I'll buy them anymore.

[Comments] (6) Back to Subnormal: John and Susie came and we had a wonderful weekend. We made and ate food, went to Lemony Snickett at the dollar movie, and I didn't have to sit alone in church. I didn't get as much yard work out of them because it was pouring the whole time.

I was glad I only paid a dollar to see Lemony Snickett.

Now we're back to routine; thank goodness it will be a short week at work. I sure had a lot of papers to grade.

John and Susie took Sadie away with them, and the house is unbelievably quiet. What a luxury! Gretel cried all of Monday, but she is doing better today.

[Comments] (2) Boring:: Aly says her life is boring, but it can't be as boring as mine. I check blogs all the time too. One of the blogs I follow is a lady named Wendy who is a homesteader in Vermont. She is very ill with myaesthenia gravis (did I spell that right?), but she does all sorts of things and never slows down. Recently, she was in the hospital for two weeks, and a couple of days after she got out, she drove to Florida in her rickety old van--ALONE. (Except for her service dog.) She's in Florida now, staying with her stepmom, and cooking every day, posting recipes. She used to be a chef before she got sick.

I like my life to be boring. I don't like excitement, and I don't like surprises. I like quiet contentment, and I have a lot of that nowadays. A sarcastic horoscope I read in the Seventies says, "Taurus people live in a rut and like it. It's dangerous to pry them loose."

Nothing is new around here. It's the same old. I'm hoping for a break in the rain so I can work in my new vegetable garden. I need to dig up all the sprinkler risers. When I went to buy supplies for the system, they didn't have any of the tall risers I wanted, so I bought the kind that you can adjust and cut off. Well, Juan cut them off. He didn't know, but I need the sprinklers to be on a tall riser because we're not talking about watering a lawn here. So I went to a different Home Depot and got tall risers. I don't want to ask him to put them in--I'm embarassed my instructions weren't clear, and he was so sweet to spread the bark on the pathways.

I started a dozen bean plants in peat pots and they have germinated already. Various other little tiny things have sprouted also--probably parsley and summer savory--but my bell peppers are still taking a long winters nap. I bought one of those packets of mixed color peppers. The seeds were dyed according to what color bell pepper they make--red, green, yellow, orange, natural, chocolate. Should make good submarine sandwiches in about five months.

What is funny, is there was a packet on the shelf that expired in 1998. I took it to Jere White, the owner of the nursery, and said, "I don't think you want this on your shelf. We had a good laugh. I like going to the nursery. Rachel discovered a new Nora Roberts book that is written around a nursery/garden theme. The Black Dahlia. I loved it. Only trouble is, it's the first book of a trilogy, and now I'm going to have to wait for the next one. Until June. And who knows how much longer for the third. I think Nora Roberts is becoming a better writer over time. Some of her early stuff bites.

Home Depot has apparently given up on the self checkout, and I say ha ha to them.

[Comments] (1) Drying Out: We are supposed to have a break in the rain tomorrow and Saturday, with another storm coming in Sunday. That works for me. I can work in the garden, and then it can rain. This poor yard is such a disaster!

[Comments] (1) Working up a Sweat: It's not a very nice day today--cloudy, and the sun hasn't appeared all day, but I did go out into the new vegetable garden. I moved cinder blocks for the walls, with much huffing and puffing and a few smashed fingers. Then, I replaced the risers. I had a lot of trouble with one of them because (I think) the elbow is stripped and it's probably going to leak, but we shall see. I cultivated the bone meal, etc., in, and, hardest of all, dumped half a bag of compost in each bed. Now I need to spread it and fork it in, and then I can plant.

Some of my beans are five inches tall already. What monsters!

I took two of the tomato plants I started over to the Langleys, so that gave me a leetle bit more room on the table. The tomatoes can't go outside for another month or so, but I figured Jill would like to bond with them before she plants them.

I am absolutely done for, but I still have an appointment with Dr. Manu at 3:30, pasta salad making, and paper grading to go today.

[Comments] (3) Marigolds: I guess I'll dig up the miserable stripped elbow tomorrow, cut the pipe, replace it. Grrr.

I had an idea for the garden marigolds, which will save oodles of space and also look good. I'll fill the cells of the cinderblocks with potting soil and plant the marigold seeds in there. That way all the raised beds will have marigold borders.

I don't know if it's an old wives tale or not, that marigolds keep the bad insects out of the garden, but my grandpa always grew them, so does Richard Oman, and so have I.

I have some nasturtiums to mingle with the vegetables too. I forget what nasturiums do, but I can always feed them to my family in a salad like Aunt Jeuney used to. heh heh.

Hello, Sunshine (A Little Bit): Today was a slightly nicer day. Mary Ann Beuchler and I went to a moving sale at Emily Hurlburt's house. I was thinking I could get some of her old clothes. Emily has lost a bunch of weight and had to get all new clothes, poor thing. I didn't want any clothes that have to be ironed or dry cleaned, so that limited my options. I came away with two dresses and a half dozen blue placemats. I didn't get any books! *pats self on back*

Then when I went looking in the basket for a new elbow for the garden, there wasn't one, so I had to go to Home Depot to buy some. I also bought some lovely snail food, and then found I had half a twenty-pound bag already in the shed.

I fixed the elbow, spread the compost, and planted the peppers and eggplants. I need to plant the strawberries, but I am completely done for.

Anne is coming this evening.

[Comments] (3) The Predicted Storm....: ....has not arrived yet; just a visit from Anne. We are having a good time just gabbing. I think Gretel bothers her, though.

Today before church we worked in the new garden. She did the grunt work of digging in the compost and raking it smooth, and I planted strawberries (50 plants!) carrots, turnips, radishes, red onions, and two kinds of beets. Looking good.

The stake youth missionaries talked at church and did a fabulous job. Nice music too. It was a good meeting.

Doris Jackman brought six bags of "fruits of the spirit" to Sunday School, so we came home with some oranges. We sneakily ate one in Relief Society, but everyone knew we were being pigs because it smelled so orangey when Anne peeled it.

I made beef stroganoff for dinner. The prewash machine licked all the dinner plates and the pot absolutely clean.

[Comments] (2) Screaming: When I arrived at work this morning there was a ransom note taped to my computer monitor. The Scream blow-up doll has been kidnapped. I think it was a copycat crime in honor of the real Scream having been stolen. It has not been recovered, has it? I don't think so.

The ransom note says bring food, so I guess I'll bake brownies this evening. The only trouble is that the boy I suspect is the culprit doesn't like chocolate, so I don't know if he will release the Scream for brownies.

[Comments] (2) Plugging Along: Yesterday was a very hard day. My pump went bonkers Monday night, so I spent all night and half of yesterday unhooked. By the time I woke up in the morning I was shaky, and by the time they got me the replacement pump I was really not doing so well. I tried to eat extra for breakfast to make up for no IV--threw it up. Rachel and Anne and I went to La Mina for lunch. Chile relleno. Threw it up. Then we went to see Wedding Date, which was okay but probably not worth the money. I did all right just sitting there. We took Amanda with us.

By the end of the movie I was on the verge of collapse, so we went home and I went to bed. Anne went out and pulled weeds. A lot of weeds. What a sister!

Today is looking better. I still feel my metabolism is a little unbalanced, but we'll work on it. I had miso soup for breakfast this morning and now I'm drinking cranberry juice. I'll probably go home and take a nap as soon as I have finished here at work, but I do need a haircut! AND a trip to the Asia Market for more miso soup. And to pay bills.

[Comments] (3) It Must Be Spring: Tuxedo Tom is abroad again. I think he must hibernate somewhere during the winter.

The most incredible daffodil has come up. It is huge, and it's ruffled like a country western square dance petticoat.

Passages: Whitney Biggar, the architect who designed the house we lived in out at Comanche Point, has died. Naturally, he designed many other buildings in the area also. He was a follower of the precepts of Frank Lloyd Wright, and I very much approved of the architecture of the Napa Road house. It was a floor plan that was very easy to live in (especially after I un-1950ized the kitchen), and lots of nice views of the prettiest homesite in the valley. May he rest in peace.

[Comments] (3) Ping! Ping! Ping!: Today dawned clear and beautiful, and Gretel and I went to the nursery. I bought another flat of ground cover and some pony packs of flowers to plant as I pull weeds. Also I bought some tomatoes and some more red bell peppers. They didn't have any basil.

I had ordered some tomato plants from Parks, which was a mistake as they keep moving up the ship date. I thought if I got them mail order, I could get them going early before the plants appear at the nursery, and I would have a head start on fresh tomatoes. But no, they won't send them to me because they think it's not time to plant.

After that I went to the grocery store, and then ate lunch. I was planning to work in the yard after my nap, but now it's thunderstorming and HAIL! Gretel was certainly grateful to be let back in. I had to go out in it and move all the new plants to shelter. I slid the flats under the car, and I sure hope I don't forget they are there and back over them!

[Comments] (7) Murder in the Garden: I am fighting snails! I crunch them underfoot whenever I find them. These are big healthy guys too, and I've never seen such fat slugs. While I was weeding, I uncovered a nest of beautiful little pearls like the one I found last year. I am going to suppose they are snail eggs. They remind me of the fish bait that used to come in a little jar--maybe it still does-- and you'd put two or three little eggs on the hook with a squitch. I dug up the nest and scattered the eggs. I guess I should have popped them all, like Rikki Tikki Tavi did when he found the cobra's nest.

I planted the tomatoes and peppers I bought yesterday as well as two six packs of flowers. I am giving a try to calendula, which my father used to grow, because they are sunny and cheerful. And I hope they reseed. Also trying stachys (lamb's ears), adorable gray-green fuzzy plant. Now I have four six packs and a flat of thyme left to plant, as well as my beans, which need to be put outside before they take over the kitchen. I may consider the ox to be in the mire in the morning.

I found I was good for a whole hour in the garden today, but now am beat. I've been having miso soup for breakfast like the Japanese do, and I think the extra protein is helping me get stronger.

When the Groundhog Casts His Shadow: It's really and truly spring! Beautiful weather. I saw a La Rosa man for the first time today, pushing his cart up Haley Street. I'm going to keep a dollar out handy for when I hear a dingbell in my neighborhood!

I planted beans and pulled weeds, and I fed the snails a gourmet last meal. I calculate that if I keep pulling weeds at the rate I did today and Saturday, they will still surpass me. However, I can't do any more, so I will do what I can.

The beets, radishes, and turnips have germinated.

[Comments] (5) I'm Rich! I'm Rich!: The book buy-back man came today. He buys the new textbooks that publishers send hoping we will like them and adopt them for our classes. Some of the publishers are getting smart and sending annotated instructor's editions, which he won't buy, but there are plenty of textbooks that come in the mail. I got $50 for my little stack of books. That's a couple of weeks of groceries!

Workload: Yesterday I forgot to bring a whole set of in-class essays home to grade. Today, a writing assignment was due, so I have another set. It's a huge stack of papers waiting for me to grade them. I wish I had done half of it yesterday. I spent a couple of hours this morning, before I came home, going through the other oddments that were turned in from both classes.

One of the things we did today was a proofreading exercise for commas. I had assigned it as homework, but many students couldn't even get past the first sentence without messing up, so we had to do it together in class. It seems I can harp and harp on the gramattical rules, but they don't internalize them.

Vocabulary activity has slowed down considerably also. I don't know if it's because people have given up on it, or if they are just overwhelmed and trying to survive mid-semester.

I think I'm not the only one who is looking forward to Spring Break.

[Comments] (4) Party Time: Yesterday was busy. Marlene is back from her mission, so Hillary had a bunch of ladies from work over to her new house for lunch to visit with her. Hillary's house is very nice, with a spacious view of the Seven Oaks golf course. I've always thought that if I had a yard like that, I wouldn't mind having people walking around it hitting balls with a little stick. I think golf is silly and a waste of time, but it does improve the landscape. I'm glad I don't have a huge house anymore.

In the evening, I went to see National Treasure at the dollar theater with Karen Nations and Sharon White. It was an ok movie, I guess, with some nice shots of the Capitol Mall. As a rule I dislike movies that have car chases, quick camera work, and sudden explosions. The ocular tracking involved is difficult for me; I guess it's because I'm from a generation that grew up without video games. I just can't see what the excitement is all about. Sometimes on the screen there were so many things going on that I could hardly look. Sensory overwhelmness.

[Comments] (1) World Navel: Gretel and I drove over to the Asian market today. Whew! I'll never do that on a Saturday again! Everyone in the world was there. At least people from every country in Asia.. and me. (Gretel waited in the car, giving the evil eyeball to the guys on the pay phone next to our parking place.)

The Asian market has teeny narrow aisles and not enough shelf space for the products they carry, so everything is really crammed in there. As one walks down the aisle, it is difficult not to brush against the abundance and cause an avalanche. I caused an avalanche of MSG--oh, excuse me, aji-no-moto.

Everyone has to speak English because they don't know each other's native tongues. I was looking at what some of them were buying and wishing they would invite me over to sample it at dinner! Ah, America!

[Comments] (1) Struggle: Today I am really dragging. It's been hard. I don't know what is wrong with me. I took Grandma and Rachel out to lunch for Rachel's birthday--could hardly eat, and I brought home a take out box. We went to Rosa's, an Italian restaurant on the east side of town. It was really good, but I couldn't wait to get home and crawl into bed.

I spent most of the afternoon in bed except for a visit from the home health nurse. I wish I could go back there now, but I have papers to grade, and tomorrow is the recycling pickup, so I need to get all that gathered up. Hopefully, to bed early, and tomorrow will be better.

[Comments] (1) Spring Fever: Better today, but I froze the whole time at work. After my second class I went an made a cup of hot miso and it helped for a while--long enough for me to get my papers graded. But now I have a sniffle and a climbing fever. I took a nap and some Tyelenol.

Rachel accidentally took my take-out box from Rosa's, and I was so looking forward to it for lunch! I ate the last quarter pound of my frozen hamburger instead. And some vegetables. I really like the George Foreman grill because you can just whip something right up. I think I'll try it with some fish.

I really, really, really need to go to the grocery store here. I hope Leonard comes to visit me because I want to have corned beef and cabbage, and I can't possibly eat a whole batch. (Of course, Gretel would be glad to help!)

[Comments] (1) Deuce: Deuce, the kitten born March 9 with two faces (one head) has died. Poor little thing.

[Comments] (3) Pampered!: Hooray, my Pampered Chef stuff came today! It was a HUGE box, but mostly full of packing material. It also contained a batter bowl, which I do not remember ordering. Was it perhaps a gift with purchase?

I hope I like my new garlic press.

I am waiting for my backorder from Parks, and that's what I thought it was when the UPS man knocked at the door. I suppose it's okay if Parks doesn't come this week, because rain is predicted for Friday and the weekend. Just my chance to do yard work...

[Comments] (2) Finally: finally, finally, this week is over. I made myself stay at work until every paper was graded and filed away so that I won't have to work over the break. (Except for getting ready for summer school). I just have to put the grades in the computer, which I am going to do right now. Poor Hillary had to take home two file folders of papers because she had a dentist appointment, so she had to leave early.

Tonight is enrichment night, and then in the morning Leonard is coming to see me!! I hope it doesn't rain too much this weekend so we can get some weeds pulled.

I Keep Thinking It's Saturday: Leonard got here a little before noon, and we went to Albertson's. Then we made sushi, saving some for Rachel. We went to Smart and Final; after that, it was time to take a nap. It's 7 p.m. and Leonard is still taking one! He must be exhausted from jury duty.

We didn't get any weeds pulled because it started raining as soon as it was time to pull weeds. Hopefully tomorrow....

[Comments] (2) Rain--No Weed Pulling: Today I made the corned beef and cabbage, and we ate nearly all of the beef. I should have only used a half head of cabbage. Leonard made bread pudding, which is really good.

After lunch, Leonard and I went to the Five and Dime Antique Mall and Goodwill, and after that to Dewar's, where I had a lime sherbet cone and Leonard had a sundae made with peppermint ice cream and hot fudge.

This evening, we are going to see Rachel's improv show. Poor Gretel has been outside all day.

[Comments] (1) Poor Me!: My Scrabble average has gone down. I'd like to blame it on a run of bad tiles, but I think I'm getting stupider. Funny thing about averages. It's easier for them to go down than to get them back up.

Spring Report: I pulled two garbage cans full of weeds today. I found a clump of chives I planted who knows how long ago. Some of the freesias I planted last fall and forgot about are abloom. The daffodils are almost at the end of their rope. The sage is getting ready to bloom. It has big purple buds, which I have never before seen in a culinary sage. Not that I'm a big expert.

Don't Try This At Home!: Just a tip: Don't try to make sushi with leftover rice. It doesn't work.

[Comments] (1) Affirmations: I keep telling myself, "I love working in the garden. There is nothing else I'd rather do." iloveworkinginthegardeniloveworkinginthegardeniloveworkinginthegarden. It's easy to tell myself that now, during Bakersfield's time of paradise. It will be a little harder to convince me once we reach the months where we think we've died and gone to hell.

Today I pulled a whole lot of weeds, and I plan to go back out and pull more after naptime if it isn't raining. 80% chance. I talked a little with a neighbor who was out walking.

I could go the rest of my life and happily never see poa or Johnson grass again. Somehow the milkweeds aren't as bad as the grasses.

Quaking: I signed onto the earthquake site just one minute after a quake happend. It's in the Mammoth area, magnitude not yet determined. Instead of being represented on the map with a red square, it was marked with a white square containing a red X. I'd never seen that before. I wonder how long it will take them to turn the box red?

Update: Less than a minute. It's a 2.0. I suppose one could just sit and wait for the quakes to come it. Apparently it's almost instantaneous. People who didn't have a life could sit and watch. People could.

[Comments] (1) I Give Up!: Today I gave up and moved the "paperyellow" bulbs from the kitchen to the front yard. The bulbs have been sitting there with an inch of green poking out since October, and I think that is too long. They had plenty of time to prove themselves. Now, they will either grow or they will die, and I don't care which. I'm just happy to get them off my countertop.

Next fall, back to paperwhites.

[Comments] (3) Quiet Day in Lake Wobegone: I spent half the day on the phone with the Francise Tax Board and never did get to a real human or get my question answered. The deal is, I have an installment agreement for my 1996 Form 540. They sent a letter about their tax amnesty program, but the total was wrong because every month they take out money automatically from my bank account. (I HATE arrangements like that, but they insisted.) So I found the correct amnesty amount online, and I contacted the bank to put a permanent stop payment on the electronic transfer.

I spent another forever on the phone with the bank finding out what to do about this online check for $196 that I paid to the blood lab that they sent back because they said they had billed it wrong. I had to take the check to Kinkos and fax it to the main Union Bank office so they could put the money back in my account.

I pulled lots of weeds, and got my TPN delivery and a visit from Donna Collier, the public health nurse from the county. If I had had a brain, I would have seen if Donna wanted to go to lunch, but she had already eaten when she got here.

Neighbor Sue is trying to catch Tuxedo Tom and take him in to get snipped. I haven't seen him around since she announced she was going to do this.

[Comments] (4) Sinuousity: Today I found an earthworm that had to be at least eight inches long. He was very beautiful as he moved through the soil. Actually, I think earthworms are he/she, aren't they? This is the biggest worm I have ever seen, save the ones we dissected in zoology class in college. Those were a different variety, I think.

I'm happy to be finding earthworms and bugs because when I started working in this garden the soil was absolutely sterile. I still have a very long way to go before I match Grandpa Call's garden, but I'm getting there.

Gretel and I went to White Forest Nursery today and bought a new eggplant (the snails ate the first one I planted) and a catnip plant. We shall see how long the catnip plant lasts.

I was very tempted to buy a preying mantis egg case for $5.99, but I resisted.

Sometimes It Pays to Be a Famous Name: It looks like all the quakes that are happening this evening are along the San Andreas. They've been small ones so far today, but one in Berkeley that might have caused Leonard and Sumana a tremble.

[Comments] (1) Bzzzzzzz: Yesterday a bee flew into my bedroom through the open French door. It buzzed all around, but didn't figure out how to get back out. Finally, it dropped to the windowsill in exhaustion. I felt terrible because I couldn't think how I could get her out without her stinging me.

Now it occurs to me that I could have slid a piece of cardstock under her as she sat there huffing and puffing. Then I could have carried her out. I figured she must have died there on the windowsill, so I looked today, and there was no corpse. She must have found a way out somehow.

[Comments] (2) One A Penny, Two A Penny: I made Hot Cross Buns today. Sort of. I don't like Hot Cross Buns because they have raisins and fruitcake fruit in them. I made my regular cinnamon roll dough, but I put the zest of one orange in. Then after the first rising, I rolled the dough into little balls, rolled each little ball in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar. I slashed crosses in the top of the balls with a razor blade--a procedure more difficult than it sounds. After the buns cooled, I piped a white frosting--made of powdered sugar, butter, and the juice from the orange-- into the slashes.

This was my offering for Easter lunch at Pat's house. Rachel and I took Grandma, and all the uncles and Kyle and Eric came. Kyle took most of the leftover Cross Buns back to school with him to share with his roommates.

We had ham, chicken, potato salad, and spinach salad. The chicken was one of those "Mormon" recipes, using a can of whole berry cranberry sauce, a bottle of Kraft Russian dressing, and a packet of Lipton's onion soup. I was afraid my stomach wouldn't like it, so I just took a little piece. I'm still trying to recover.

For dessert, Pat had bought an Easter decorated carrot cake and a lemon meringue pie. Everyone but Pat had the pie, so she sent a huge piece of the cake home with us. (I didn't have any pie or cake, fearing to upset the fragile ecosystem of my intestinal tract.)

We watched the NCAA games and chatted, and there weren't any traditional Easterish festivities because no little kids. Rachel brought home some dyed eggs though.

Hole In My Head: I spent the afternoon at the dentist today getting a porcelain restoration of another tooth. I sure got tired of being there. I would have liked to go to bed early since my head is pounding and my jaw aches, but I had a huge pile of papers to grade. Lots of people used the break to catch up on their work, and they all turned it in today. Finally, I have made it, though.

Oops. I forgot to call the home health people and tell my nurse I was going to the dentist, so she came while I was gone. Rachel apologized to her for me and she is coming tomorrow.

Poor Rachel is sicky. I went to the store for remedies. There is a new flavor of Chloraseptic out--cool mint. It's an obnoxious blue color.

[Comments] (1) Don't Rat On Me: We had a very big infestation of rats when we lived in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles. Some of those guys were so huge, you couldn't believe they would fit through a little crack in the foundation, but they did! The county rat guy came out and almost wept in despair at the sight of a garage full of food storage wheat.

Our downstairs bathroom had an old clawfoot tub that was walled in, with a little access door to the plumbing on one end, right by the toilet. That was one of the places we put the poison because the rats climb in up the plumbing pipes.

One day my husband was sitting on the toilet and he thought he would check the poison. Just as he opened the little hatch, he thought, "What if the rat is sitting there staring at me?" He went ahead and opened it and there was the rat sitting there staring at him.

I heard the loudest scream, so I came running. There was my husband, a big fully grown man, sitting on the pot with his pants around his ankles, screaming to beat the band, and the poor rat sitting there with a huge question mark expression all over his face...

I may never get over this.

My Vocabulary Test Results:
English Genius
You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 76% Expert!
You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog: http://shortredhead78.blogspot.com/.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 63% on Beginner
You scored higher than 72% on Intermediate
You scored higher than 45% on Advanced
You scored higher than 72% on Expert
Link: The Commonly Confused Words Test written by shortredhead78 on Ok Cupid

Whitney Research: A relative in the Whitney Research Group extracted information from a book of the history of Watertown, Massachusetts. I'm saving it here so I can find it later. Many of the other (non-Whitney) people in this extract are relatives too.

Roger Thompson. Divided we stand. Watertown, Massachusetts, 1630-1680. Amherst, MA: Univ. of Massachusetts Press. 2001 There is some general information that seems relevant (mostly economic). I have also quoted every passage that refers to a Whitney, and the same for footnotes. In a couple of cases the passage does not mention a Whitney, but the footnote cites one as an example of the topic being discussed in the main passage. Watertown was first settled late summer of 1630. They were mostly folk from North Essex and South Suffolk around the Stour River valley in East Angllia, led by Sir Richard Saltonstall. These settlers were among the thirteen to twenty thousand people who migrated to New Eng-land during the 1630s. (11, 21). Three surges of immigration brought people to Watertown: one in 1630, a second from 1634 to 1636 (when John & Elinor immigrated), and a third and final wavelet in 1637. Some also came from Norfolk, and a few from London. Many of these East Anglians had been weavers, which may explain why John Whitney (a member of the Merchant Tailors Guild in London) threw in his lot with them (22). Watertown began with a grant of 23,456 acres of land. Beginning in 1630 each household re-ceived a "homestall" where they built their first house and shelters for animals as well as plant-ing their first crops. "These grants were located at the far eastern end of the town's domain, to the east, north, and south of Mount Auburn, near the Newtown line." This is where the first meetinghouse was built. "Later arrivals" (like John Whitney) "received homestalls to the west of this area." By the early 1640s the average homestall was 12 acres, although this varied accord-ing to the size of family, amount of livestock, and social standing (51). In July 1636 4,595 acres of livestock pastureland was distributed in four huge divisions, known as the "Great Dividends" in the northern part of the town grant. Each of the four "squadrons" was one-half mile wide, with 30 lots in each. "On 28 February 1637 the freemen divided out po-tential plowlands--often called uplands to distinguish them from low-lying marsh or meadow--on Beaverbrook Plain (divided by the brook into Hither and Further Plains and situated north of the riverbank and southwest of the town center) to all '106 townsmen then inhabiting.' A few of the leaders received sizable lots, but 86 of the 106 recipients got single figure grants, some as little as one acre. ... In 1637 Beaver Brook marked the western limits of any town settlement or cultivation" (53). It was the town's expectation that this plowland would be cultivated in com-mon, and that during the summer months livestock would be herded together under town-appointed herdsmen and shepherds (56). Four months later, in June 1637, "the 'Remote or West Pine Meadows' on land beyond Beaver-brook Plain granted 'by the freemen to 113 townsmen then inhabiting' were specifically linked to mouths, human and bovine. Most recipients again got single-figure acreages of these parcels of natural meadowland dotted among the heavily wooded western section of the town domain. Many householders got the same allotment of fodder land as for plowland (53). "The fourth allotment, on 9 April 1638, saw forty proprietors granted relatively small lots, typi-cally six acres, on land called the Town Plot, a reserved area of 238 acres northeast of the town mill and two and a half miles west of the meetinghouse. The object was that forty families should 'build and dwell upon their lots at the town plot, and not to alienate them by selling or exchanging them to any foreigner, but [only] to the freemen of the congregation; it being our in-tent to sit down there close together,and therefore, these lots were granted to those __freemen__ that inhabited most remote from the meetinghouse, and dwell most scattered.'" (53). Finally in 1642 all the townsmen that had not formerly received farms (93 are named) each re-ceived 13 acres of upland to every head of persons and cattle. At this point some 20,206 acres of the town's total grant had been lotted out. Only 3,250 acres remained town land (54). Though desire for land ownership may have motivated some of this largesse, the principal con-cern seems to have been that unless the town allocated the land, it could be appropriated by neighboring settlements. Distributing the land seems to have been a way to secure the rights of the town and its inhabitants. It was also a way to encourage those already living there to remain in the town, rather than moving on in search of better prospects elsewhere. At the same time, with most of the land having been distributed, it discouraged outsiders from moving into the community. Distribution was also a way of ensuring individual claim to the land before its value increased so much that the elder generation might be unable to provide for their offspring. Al-though less than 1800 acres were being farmed in 1651 (about 10 acres per household), this massive distribution of land "was a prudential 'laying up for posterity'. Nonetheless, perceived in-justices in the allocation of land within Watertown lead to disputes and court actions that lasted until 1669 (56-57, 62-63). "In June 1641, as measures were announced to encourage servants to sin hemp for twine-, rope-, and sack-making, a groujp of Watertown men were rewared with over L4 between them for weaving 83 yards of cloth. A further, overdue bounty was piad in October 1643. Two of these beneficiaries were master weavers: Martin Underwood and Nicholas Busby. The others had no recorded weaving experience21" (95) f.n. 21. "Busby, a worsted weaver On Underwood, a weaving-clothier, with north Suffolk linen and northeast Essex textile connections, see (sources cited)). Others: Miles Nudd, John Whitney, Henry Kemball (a wheelwright), and John Witheridge or Wetherall, who figures in the Watertown records as a champion fox trapper" (228). Occasional assistance from the community was needed "by the Thomas Whitneys in 1664 and 1678-79, when the family was struck down by smallpox. The town spent L1.10.0 on William Goddard for attending Thomas Whitneyu, fifteen shillings on a rig, nine on a bedstead and cider, four on firewood and milk. In all L5.4.5 was expended. All seem to have survived14" (110). f.n. 14. "Whitney, in serious difficulties in 1664, had been appointed scarer of dogs out of the meetinghouse at thirty shillings per year" (233). "If major breadwinners were going to be away for any length of time, the townsmen wanted guarantees that their families would be provided for. When Daniel Metup and Jonathan Whitney proposed to go to Cape Fear, the seven men insisted that enough assets be lodged with neighbors to keep their dependents from want. They got court sanction for this requirement and, killing two birds with one stone, arranged for a cow to be left with the ill-nourished Beeches" (113). "The selectmen were often the richer members of the community, but by no means always. There was nonetheless a relatively small gap between the rich and the poor, and misfortune lurked everywhere. Even among brothers, like the Whitney boys, there could be considerable variations of wealth. John was comfortably well off; Thomas was near the breadline" (114). "The settlement of Groton in the 1660s and 1670s saw the new generation moving west in a con-certed group. In this new 'company.' along with siblings or newly married neighbors, like min-ister's daughter Abigail (Sherman) Willard, went paupers, troublemakers, orphans, and family misfits. Twenty-eight out of the original fifty-one grantees of land there had Watertown connec-tions"12 (118). f.n. 12. "Siblings: Morses, Lawrences, and Holdens; paupers: Sawtel, Sanders,Onge, and Price. Newly married: Barrons, Fiskes, Clarkes, Pearces, Tarbells, Whitneys, and Crisps; troublemakers: Benjamen Allen and James Knapp" (236). "Sex fascinated many of these adolescents. Weddings were fraught with sexual excitement. On 23 May 1674 teenagers Moses Whitney and Jonathan Smith 'about noon, left work to see a wed-ding that we heard was to pass that way which was between William Shattuck and Goodman Randall's daughter.' The bride's brother was later sued 'for making and publishing an obscene and scurrilous writing or libel tending to the corruption of youth and defamation of several per-sons therein named as particularly Phillip and Elizabeth Shattuck and others.' The (lost) libel was probably full of sexual innuendo and bawdy suggestions. This was a deprived, but not an innocent, age" (123). Throughout the 17th century rising affluence and population lead to construction of larger houses and "conspicuous consumption." both of which are reflected in the distribution of assets pre-scribed in individual wills (130-131). f.n. 27. Silver: Pewter: John Whitney Mx PR 4:99 Glass or china: John Whitney Mx PR 4:99 Whitney (chest), Mx PR 4:99 (Ms Pr: Middlesex Probate Registers, vols. 1-5, MA: vols. 106 on microfilm at Middle-sex Probate Registry, East Cambridge) "Cross-generational relations were not always edgy and antagonistic. As aged parents sank into dependence'land-for-care' agreements were common. Though some arrangements were lovingothers built in safeguards implying a certain distrust.43" f.n. 43. E.g. Whitney: Mx Deeds, 3:451-52, 4:344, 9 March 1670 (Mx Deeds: Middlesex Registry of Deeds,vols. 1-7, County Courthouse, East Cambridge) King Phillip's War (1675-76) stirred up colonial prejudices against the Indians and fueled their paranoia about Indian "unreliability, laziness, treachery, and general savagery." Numerous Wa-tertown men were called to do battle. By December 1675 20 of them had been drafted (150-152).38 f.n. 38: Drafted: Michael Fleg, William's brother; John and Moses Whitney, a couple of the town's ne'er-do-wells; plus (a list of the others) (249) In its early days Watertown looked like it would become an important town. But by the 1650s it had been overshadowed by Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown and other settlements. By the 1670s it had become a quiet parochial backwater. The first 50 years are also marked by chronic discord and conflict-over religion, over land, over taxes. There were disputes over who should be recognized as a member of the community. "The town leadership was three times unceremo-niously dumped by irate townsmen." "There wee also regular spats between neighbors, often over stock and fences, but also involving personal rivalries and envies, long-nursed grievances, dark suspicions, generational jealousies, and family feuds. Although this drove some people out, "One of the most striking characteristics of Watertown in its first fifty years-indeed of its first two hundred and fifty years-was its residential stability. Individual family members might leave, but family names persisted (169-174). f.n. 14. "The old burial ground commemorates these pesistent descendants: forty-one original families, whose subsequent generations are buried in the Arlington Street Ceme-tery. The eighteenth-century records of Watertown's 'Western Precinct,' which became Waltham in 1738, are dominated by the names of founding families of Watertown. In the 1790 Census forty-three family names in Watertown perpetuate those of our period and forty-four from Waltham. Heads of Families at the First U.S. Census. 1790 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992), 156, 157. In the 1850 Watertown map based on the sur-vey by S. Dwight Eaton and Elbridge Whitney, thirty-one families who had settled in Watertown by 1650 still held land in the town. List of Arlington Street Cemetery (old burial ground) gravestones kindly supplied by the Watertown Public Works Department; between them, the Coolidge and Stone families have eighty-one headstones there. Records of the Western Precinct of Watertown, 1720-1738 (Waltham: Aldermanic Board, 1913) contains thirty familynames from the first generation of Watertown settlers. MS map in the archives of Watertown Public Library; my thanks to Ann Butler and Forrest Mack" (253). APPENDIX B. Lists of Residents List 1: Long-Term, First Generation Criteria forInclusion: Arrival by 1640; residence for seven-year minimum, usually grantee of town land (proprietor), adult on arrival, usuallymale head of household. 96 men, including John WHITNEY List 2: Short-Term, First Generation Criteria: Unless they died, five or six years of residence, usually continuous. 43 men, no Whitneys List 3: "Perchers," First Generation Criteria: Under five years, mostly 163s arrivals, hold land or connected in other documentary evidence. 64 men, no Whitneys List 4: Latecomers, First Generation Criteria: Arrival in Watertown after 1640, born before 1620, resident for decade or more. 32 men, no Whitneys List 5: Incomers, Second Generation Criteria: Born after 1620, arrived from elsewhere in Watertown after 1640. 25 men, no Whitneys List 6: Long-Term, Second Generation Criteria: Born between 1620 and 1650, lived ten adult years in Watertown before 1680 (except for early death), offspring of first or occasionally of second generation resident. 100 men, including " John, Jonathan, Richard, and Thomas WHITNEY" Karl Schwerin

[Comments] (3) Ahhhh!: The weekend is coming. I need to grade placement essays tomorrow morning and then I can fall apart. That is, if I grade all my papers tonight and get it over with.

Rachel is home, all sick, and my nose won't quit running.

I planted everything that needs planting except the flat of thyme, so that's on the agenda for this weekend. Also, my car is going in for servicing so it can be ready to go to .... UTAH!

For my contribution to the snack table during placement grading I'm going to spread rye bread with dilled cream cheese, then put smoked salmon on top. Then garnish with a cucumber slice and a cherry tomato slice. I bought some "party" toothpicks in case the whole thing doesn't stay stacked up. They are dyed all different colors. I would have bought the plain ones, but these were ten cents cheaper than the round ones--go figure. The cheapest toothpicks were the flat kind, but I don't like those. I don't know why. I just have an aversion to them, which is silly, because they will test a cake just as well as a round toothpick.

I hope the dyes on the party toothpicks don't kill us.

[Comments] (2) Dear Grandpa Call:: Are you watching me, Grandpa? I hope so. I'm working really hard in my garden and trying to make it nice like yours always was. Today I pulled two garbage cans full of weeds and spent poppies. I wish I had the time and energy to do more. I will try to go outside for two spells tomorrow.

My zucchini have died. I don't know why. I think I'll buy a plant at the nursery instead of trying to start my own from seed. There are some places in my yard that I think are just poisoned, and maybe I planted zucchini in one of them. I'm trying very hard to build up the soil.

At the auto repair place this afternoon, I read an article in Better Homes and Gardens about a lady who has her front yard like I want mine to be--so closely planted that not a blade of grass can come up. I think she's been at it a lot more years than I have, however.

[Comments] (1) Big Trouble: Gretel and I went to White Forest Nursery today. I got in bad trouble. The flowers were all so pretty that I had to have them all! I bought some fall-blooming crocus to put in. It's the one that saffron comes from, and I figure that with saffron at ten bucks a pinch, I'd try growing some.

I bought a lot of huchera to go under the redwood trees because it's been very successful there, and a lot of flowers to replace dead gazania and soon to die California poppies. I did really a lot of work today. Also I harvested the radiccio and thinned the beets and made a lovely salad with greens and goat cheese for me and Rachel for dinner. (I threw it up.)

I had read in some book that a taro plant can live in places where water sits on the soil, so Gretel and I went to the Asian Market to get a taro. I had no idea what it was, and to my surprise, it's a huge thing, much bigger than a large butternut squash. The book said just plant the root on its side. So I dug a big hole and planted it, right by the front sidewalk. THEN I looked it up in the Sunset book, and found it grows 6 feet tall. Oops.

[Comments] (1) Observation: I have spent much time recently pulling Bermuda grass from under the redwood trees, which means my face is in the redwood tree. There is no smell like that, so refreshing and cleansing. I think that the world would be a better place if everyone would bury their nose in the branches of a redwood tree once a day.

Redwood trees, good. Bermuda grass, bad.

[Comments] (5) What the Pope Meant to the Rest of Us: I am not a Catholic, and I disagree with many of that church's teachings, but I admired John Paul II. He stood by his convictions even when they were unpopular. He opposed both wars in Iraq, and he always spoke up for the poor, the underprivileged, and the oppressed. He traveled the world greeting the people and made life better in that one moment for many of them.

Those will be big shoes for someone else to fill.

[Comments] (3) Territories: Gretel doesn't like me to be in the kitchen unless I am cooking. She doesn't like me to be in the living room. She paces around and misbehaves. She wants me in the computer room (or at certain times in bed.) Anything else just will not do. When I'm in the computer room or the bedroom she settles down on the rug and is happily companionable.

Today Rachel helped me clean off the desk so I can sit there and grade papers instead of doing it at the kitchen table. It's been peacable doggy time ever since.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood: I finished planting all the six-packs of flowers I bought. Now, just two flats remain, one of wooly thyme and one of awwwwww, I forget just what, but it's a ground cover. Let's hope it chokes out weeds. The Stewarts came over to get the tomato plants I started for them and were very complimentary about my garden. By the end of the week I should have the flats planted.

I finally got my bay leaf tree and my hellebore from Parks. And the backordered peat moss seed starter thingies. I called them and told them to cancel the tomato plants. I ordered tomatoes in January by mail order hoping to get a jump on the nursery, and now the website says they will be shipped May 1. A lot of good that does. It will be blazing summer here by then.

I don't know if the hellebore is going to live, but if it succeeds I will get some more for wintertime flowers. The bay leaf tree I'm going to clip into a cone shaped topiary. Inshalla.

[Comments] (1) Flavors: I went to buy some smoked almonds, and do you know, they have a whole bunch of flavors out there. Soy and wasabi, jalapeno, all kinds of tasty coatings. Trouble is, I'm not willing to shell out $3.69 to try something new.

[Comments] (4) Harebrain: Yesterday afternoon I wasn't feeling so well. I finally dragged myself through grading my papers and crawled into bed, very early. It's a problem though--it seems as I'm vomiting out the contents of my stomach my brain also empties out. I'd been curled up in my jammies (Clark for President T-shirt, old baggy leggings) for about half an hour, cuddled with a warm Xochitl, when I realized that it was the Pinewood Derby and I needed to be at the church taking pictures. I could have kicked myself, but I didn't go. Now I don't know what I will do for Pinewood Derby pictures. That was pretty dumb. I even had it written in my planner, and probably they would have had refreshments afterward. NEVER miss the refreshments!

Floral Heaven: Gretel and I went to White Forest Nursery to get a couple more blueberry bushes, and I succumbed to more six packs of flowers. They are all so pretty this time of year! My front yard is a sight to behold right now. I got several kinds of carnations and pinks, and a phlox that is pink and white striped.

I worked very hard in the garden and fed all the vegetables and the blueberries with fish emulsion. Radishes are ready to pick so Rachel and I had them on our salad today. A red one, a white one, and a purple one. The blueberries I bought today have green berries all over them. The ones in the ground are still just blooming. This year we are going to have a spread out blueberry season.

For dinner, I made one of the chicken scaloppine recipes from the March Sunset--the orange-olive-pine nut one, and it was really good. I think I'm finding that the secret to cooking chicken breast is to cook it on medium heat. It doesn't get tough that way. I'm a heat-blaster kind of cook, so this is a change in paradigm for me.

[Comments] (2) On Top of Spaghetti: Today I made Italian meatballs using a recipe I got from a guy in the Scrabble club. I used fresh oregano and Italian parsley from the garden. They turned out soooooo yummy! I froze a lot of them to have later.

The recipe calls for 1/2 pound ground pork. I've never seen ground pork in a store except for pork sausage, which I'm sure is not what is meant. I solved the dillema by buying boneless pork shoulder strips and grinding them with the attachment to the Kitchen Aid. Not my favorite thing to do. I ended up with 1-1/2 pounds of ground pork (I cut off a lot of fat), so by the time I put three pounds of hamburger to be porportionate, I had quite a large batch. I put rice into some of it to make filling for stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage rolls.

I didn't do any yard work today because it's cold outside and I wasn't up to it. I wish I could go to bed, but I have to do the church newsletter.

[Comments] (2) Monday: Not a lot to report. I have a new home health nurse because Linda apparently quit. I had to do a bit of training to get her to see how I do things. I taught classes, worked in the yard, and am about half finished with paper grading.

Ann Stewart brought over some orphan Swiss chard plants, and while she was here, she did a poem on the refrigerator. It's a kind of sad one. "Sleep lazy friend, eternity never over, sweet are rose bed, and pink sky, and love." Meanwhile, I was looking at the refrigerator. I had an ambition to have NOTHING on the refrigerator but the poetry magnets, and it's positively bristling with recipe clippings and photos and coupons and cartoons and stuff. Someday I'll clean it off.

[Comments] (1) Spring Day: The house next door is sold. The sign only went up on Saturday. I would dearly love to know what it sold for. Today as I was working in the garden the Cutlers cruised by. They are looking for houses in this neighborhood to buy for their daughter. They had a flier from one on Chester Lane for $239,000. I think it's the house that used to have the big Halloween display.

The Cutlers were very complimentary about my garden. I did get a lot done today. Tomorrow I finish weeding the stepping stones and plant that flat of wooly thyme.

This evening I went to the Stake Center to watch our Elders Quorum play basketball. (We won.) I took a lot of pictures so that hopefully one will be good enough to put in the ward newsletter. My poor little digital camera isn't fast enough for basketball. I should have brought my real camera. Gretel was very upset that I was leaving and didn't want to be put out. I wish she would learn that I always come back eventually.

[Comments] (7) Wishing: Okay, here is the wish list for my birthday: new garden clogs, a wooden meat pounding mallet, White Forest or Park's gift certificate, a calculator, help in the garden, flip flops.

Today I finished weeding the stepping stones. The end where I started is growing little weeds again! I didn't get the thyme planted; that will be for tomorrow. I had to spend the time fixing the sprinkler system instead. Tomorrow I am going back to Home Depot because as I was leaving yesterday, I noted that they were selling curry plants. I think that would be a good addition to the herb garden.

[Comments] (2) Lemon Tree, Very Pretty, and the Lemon Flower is Sweet: Bees are sipping at the nectar of the flowers on the lemon tree, and Gretel likes to snap at them. It will be an interesting day when she catches one.

[Comments] (5) Alert!: Anne says don't buy me garden clogs for my birthday because she will get them. We will also meet for my birthday lunch at 11:30 at the Macaroni Grill at the Riverwhatever.

Today the stomach doctor increased the dosage of one of my meds. After my appointment I went on a Target haul, with side trips to check the herb racks at the Rosedale Home Depot and Lowe's. I got a bunch of different flavors of mint and another catnip. Target had columbines on sale, and I couldn't resist. Also at Target I got a new kitchen rug to use for Gretel's placemat; they didn't have any blue ones, so I got a red one. One of these days I will take her old blue rug to the SPCA. (They put old rugs in kennels for the animals to sleep on.) I also got a new electric shaver and a Thermos so that I can bring hot soup on my trip.

I checked out getting new cushions for the patio chairs. They cost $30 each! Ouch!

[Comments] (3) Poor Little Birdie: I worked most of the day in the yard--three hours in the morning and an hour this evening. While I was planting the columbines I found a d-e-a-d-b-i-r-d under one of the redwood trees. I hurried and shoveled him into the compost bin to be taken away to the green waste dump on Monday. He didn't look like he'd been caught by a cat, but I didn't want to leave his corpse anywhere to be found by a cat and brought in as a lovely present. He was a Brewer's blackbird.

The ladies from our former Primary presidency took me to lunch for my birthday. At Country Rose Tea Room, the usual. When I got there, who should be sitting at lunch with his wife and sister-in-law but Chuck Fosdick, who used to teach with me at Chipman Junior High. We had old home week catching each other up about where all the people are now. Chuck is at Compton now and he loves it there. By the way, Marianne, he says you are one of his favorite people.

At Chipman, everyone sat and ate lunch in the faculty dining room in a big happy crowd. (Because administrators usually didn't eat with us.) Except on Wednesdays. On Wednesdays they had a prayer/Bible study elsewhere. They never invited me to it. Or Neil. Or Marianne. Or Art. So every Wednesday we had lunch group with three Mormons and an atheist. It was kind of interesting because even the teacher who was Greek Orthodox went to prayer group with the Christians, but not me. I suppose I could snit about it, but in spite of that, all the teachers there were wonderful people. There's going to be nobody left there after this year. Times change, people move on.

[Comments] (1) Protective Custody: We've been through four catnip plants in the last couple of weeks. The last one I planted, I inverted a laundry basket over it, but Jellybean dragged the laundry basket away and destroyed the plant anyhow.

I looked in the Sunset book, and it said to plant the catnip under a wire basket, and the branches will grow out of the wire while the crown of the plant is protedted. So this time I tried that. I took down one of the wire baskets hanging above the spa; they are not an asset to the aesthetics of the yard anyhow. I anchored the basket over the catnip plant with the long staples meant for landscape fabric.

When I looked this morning, every leaf that could possibly be reached through the wire had been nipped, but the plant itself is surviving. A new record for catnip survival.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a huge patch of catnip in her garden. I wonder how she got it that way with cats around?

[Comments] (2) Soggy: Somebody posted to the Whitney Research Group that all her genealogy has been lost. They live on a lake, which rose beyond its historical limits, and their house flooded, and with it all the genealogy. Four boxes were soaked and turned into papier mache.

I'm feeling really sorry for this lady. Luckily she has the Whitney Research Group to help her, and we have almost everything on our website, but what about all her other lines? So sad.

I am slowly getting all my genealogy onto CD-Rom so if this happens (fat chance here in Bako!) it won't be damaged. Of course, with my luck, it would be the scrapbooks that got soaked.

[Comments] (6) Sheesh.: I paid bills tonight, and spent over a thousand bucks on medical bills. More than my whole paycheck. Bleah. So don't wonder why I can't afford to get the house painted.

Wanda Lewis's Birthday: Wanda Lewis is someone I went to elementary school with. Today is her birthday. She is five days older than I am. I hope she is having a happy birthday, and I pray she has had a good life.

Today was also the first day for registration for summer term and fall semester. I already have one student! (Nobody I know.)

[Comments] (6) Hitting the Road: I am packing to leave to go to Utah for graduation. I hope I don't forget anything. It will be a quickie trip, but a fun break, and I'll get to see lots of family. I am so proud of John, and Joe, and Aaron, and Louise. They've hung in there and done it! I actually don't feel so wonderful so I hope I'll be able to go to bed earlyish tonigh. Lots of papers to grade though. See everyone tomorrow!

[Comments] (1) Jet Lag or Car Lag?: I've been just exhausted since coming home from Utah. It was a wonderful trip, with a chance to be very, very proud of John and a marvelous birthday lunch at Macaroni Grill with beaucoup family members. It's always great to see family.

This is a hard time of the semester to be gone. We are busy busy busy. We start departmental writing proficiency exams for the remedial students tomorrow, and the English department's is May 7. Everyone is turning in their late work, so I have lots of papers to grade, and we have a huge number of placement essays to read. That is for Friday. I would dearly love to have Friday off after the harry-hurry of last weekend, but it is not to be.

I need to make a pasta salad to take to a potluck tomorrow.

Wowsers!: Every Lego piece in , literally, the WORLD is on bricklink.com. All conveniently arranged by country. Andean Bricks from Bolivia, anyone?

Is it Blue? Is it Green?: Yesterday I made chicken breast in a lemon/garlic/black pepper sauce. It was absolutely delicious, and cooking it made the whole house smell heavenly. However, it looked less than appetizing. The little chunks of garlic turned jade green! They looked poisonous, but I'm sure they weren't, as I dimly remember a lab when I took food science in college where we turned some things jade green. (I think it was red cabbage.) But yuck. I was certainly grateful I wasn't cooking it for company, and I noticed Rachel didn't eat much.

I went into the foodies' chat room in the Scrabble club, and someone knew it was a reaction to the acid. But it didn't do it the first time I made it! I sort of feel cheated, unreasonably, I know.

Today, I couldn't even face the leftovers, so Gretel had them. She didn't seem to care about the moldy look in the rice.

I was going to resume work in the garden today, but it's cold and windy and might rain and I was exhausted from helping with the potluck at work. I took a long nap and read a trashy novel. Papers were all graded at work.

Today we began writing proficiency testing and of course one of the students didn't show up. He's getting an F anyhow. Often there are good reasons why students are remedial, and it often has absolutely nothing to do with their intelligence. It's about the choices they make. This kid has chosen to deal drugs and to fail his English class. OK, so he makes more money than his teacher, so what?

Grrrr.: I got another nastygram from the Franchise Tax Board. Last nastygram they sent me, I mailed them a polite letter pointing out that I had already paid them, enclosing a copy of my cancelled check, and noting that they had not credited my account.

Now I not only got another threatening letter from them, but when I checked my account, they had credited my payment TWICE. What a mess.

[Comments] (2) Mr. Dudley: I received Mr. Dudley for Christmas, from John and Susie, I think. He came full of peppercorns and (I thought) salt. He grindes pepper exceedingly well, leaving some bits less "ground" and more "cracked", which adds zip to the cuisine. Rachel and I, however, could never get salt to come of of Mr. Dudley's head.

Upon closer investigation, I discovered that Mr. Dudley's head is indeed not filled with salt. There was a white paper wrapped around the stem of the mechanism inside which made it look like salt, but did not deliver any saline morsels.

I filled Mr. Dudley's head with salt, but in the meantime we have become hooked on sea salt, so we have a separate grinder for that.

Aside: When Leonard and I drove back from Utah, we ate breakfast at a restaurant in Beaver that was selling a brand of sea salt that looked like it had dirt in it. (The label called it "minerals." ) I didn't buy a shaker of the stuff at the time, only to regret it later. So on the way home this trip, Ruth Davis and I pulled off in Beaver to buy dirt salt. The restaurant in question is gone, and it's Chinese now. I seriously regret this, as it was a very good restaurant, and who knows if one can trust the Chinese food served in Beaver, Utah.

I used Mr. Dudley today to grind a whole bunch of black pepper for salad dressing. I made a whole quart, with pepper, garlic, white wine vinegar, oregano, olive oil, and emulsified with bleu cheese. Later on the quart jar jiggled and jumped out of the refrigerator and smashed onto the floor. What a mess. I was bummed because bleu cheese is pretty expensive.

Things do a lot of bailing out of our refrigerator because the top shelf is full of TPN, which makes items put on top teetery.

[Comments] (1) A Rose is Arroz is Arrows: I've been meaning to write about roses. Last year for my birthday, Hillary gave me a little bitty white miniature rose--the kind you buy at the grocery store in a four-inch pot. I planted it out in the front yard, and it has just taken off. Now, a year later, it's about 24 inches high and has blooms all over.

The Mr. Lincoln hybrid tea rose in the back yard is also doing very well, and so fragrant! At one point it was higher than the house, which is being very much of an overachiever for a hybrid tea rose. I had Juan prune it back down, and it's rewarding us with even more flowers.

On a sad note, I was working very hard in the yard, hot and sweaty, and a LaRosa guy came by, so I ran in to get my dollar. Imagine my chagrin to find he was not a real LaRosa guy. He sold me a paleta that was labled "Tropical Fruit Flavored Bar." Not a bit of real fruit in sight. Bah. I can do better at the grocery store with Dole. So the next time he pranced down the streeet, suggestively ringing his bell, I made sure it was him and not a real LaRosa guy, and then I ignored him.

This puts a kink in my whole summer.

Protective Coloration May Not Be So Good: Tonks has been hanging out on the computer room couch, which he matches perfectly. The day is going to come when someone else sits there--not with him, but on him.

Quietude: Nothing much is happening around here. I'm very busy with the end of the semester, but it's a quiet busy. Next week--the last week, really-- will be kind of tough. I went through everyone's grades and figured out who doesn't deserve to be sent for a retake if they happen to flunk the departmental writing proficiency.

One of the new iris I planted last fall is blooming--its first year! It's a lovely flower named "Summer Skies." You would think, with a name like that, it would be blue, but it's pink and lavender.

[Comments] (2) Yes, and I Need Some Paprika, Too: I got an email from somebody in Singapore wanting to buy a bay leaf (laurus nobilis) tree. Huh?

I suppose he found me through my weblog since I probably wrote about the day I planted mine, but I googled for bay leaf and looked through ten pages of recipes and herb sites without finding a reference to Jabberwocky.

How do these things work?

I told the fellow I got my tree from www.parkseed.com, and he was very appreciative. Said he bought two on ebay and accidentally left them on the plane. Bay leaves on ebay????

Horsie, Horsie: The horseradish has survived! There was doubt for quite some time, but it has made it. In January, when it was a bare root, Sadie got it and mauled it severely. I planted it anyhow, and now it has sent up shoots and is growing rapidly, so I suppose it has recovered. I don't know how Sadie's mouth felt after chewing on that root, but she didn't say anything at the time.

Horseradish used to grow wild in Rico, and my mother would put fresh roots through the blender. It was runny-eye time in our house after she did this, but I still love horseradish. The first time she made it, she served a big bowlful, and Robert thought it was mashed potatoes, so he took a big mouthful. Oopsie. He didn't like horseradish for the longest time, but I believe he does now.

It's raining. I don't know if I'll be able to work in the garden this weekend.

Greenie: Gretel has gotten ahold of a green apricot and carries it around with her everywhere. She tosses it into the air and scampers and plays with it. Funny puppy. She has a whole basket full of toys but would rather play with the apricot.

Sorry Bout That: As I waited for a red light today, a woman with bunches of Mothers Day flowers tried and tried and TRIED to get me to buy some. Not interested. Not me. I don't have a mother.

Berry, Berry: I picked boysenberries today. My hands are purple. They are just starting to get ripe, but I picked enough for a small cobbler. I suspect Rachel and I will eat them fresh. There is a real bumper crop coming in, but most of them are still pink.

The blueberries are also getting ripe. I picked a few of them today and ate them in the garden. And strawberries. The strawberries are beginning to happen.

We also have green beans, turnips, radishes, beetgreens, and a very small zucchini. (I am not fooled. I know it's not going to stay small!)

[Comments] (1) Mothers Day: I opened a lovely card made by Susanna and John, which included a Home Depot gift card--always a popular item with me! Rachel gave me a pair of white Capri pants, and Leonard called with news he had been working in his garden. That gave me a kick because when he was a kid you never ever saw anyone more reluctant to do yard work. I guess it's different when it isn't your mother's yard.

Rachel and I took Grandma out for Chinese food at the Peking Palace. It was fun to see all the moms and grandmas getting treated to lunch. I don't feel tooooo bad about missing church to take Grandma out because she is more important, plus I hate Mothers Day. When I typed the bulletin I found that we were singing "Love at Home." Ewwwwwww. My motherhood experience has been more "Towanda! Warrior Woman!" than "roses bloom beneath our feet."

[Comments] (3) Moths: I really don't like moths. In trying to analyze why, I've come up with a couple of things--their furry heads, their feathery antennae, and the markings on their wings. I find moths distressing, and I'm sure there is some deep childhood reason for this.

Once when I was a teenager, I was sitting on the couch reading and my father came and put a gigantic moth on my book. I just about wigged, and he said, "But it's only a little Cecopia moth!" I didn't like the "little" moth. He had eyeball markings on his back. Plus, that kind of moth is as big as a hummingbird, and they have huge ugly larvae that eat plants.

The house has been full of moths lately. Mostly dead ones, but some living ones who rustle and batter against the windows until they too die. I blame Xochitl for carrying them in. They day is going to come, soon, when I get the nerve up to sweep the dead moths off the kitchen floor.

As I work in the garden, I always kill moth larvae when I find them. They squirt when you squish them.

[Comments] (1) Beautiful Soup: I made minestrone, and it's absolutely lovely. From the garden: basil, oregano, green beans, swiss chard, zucchini. From the store: onion, garlic, celery, tomato, canelli beans, alphabet noodles.

Can't wait until I don't have to buy tomatoes.

I got my writing proficiencies back today. Most of the people I thought would fail did, but one got a borderline. One of the people I thought would pass failed. Lots of paper grading to do tonight; I'd better get started.

[Comments] (1) Tired: I turned in my packets for summer school to duplicating, taught my class, graded a bunch of papers. I have to go back in on Friday morning to help grade the writing proficiency retakes. Tomorrow is the last day of class.

I pulled a wastebasket full of weeds and planted dill, fennel, and artemesia plants and marigold seeds. Then I toted fish emulsion to all the patio pots and the newly planted plants. I wish it were bedtime, but I need to work on my class packets for fall semester.

The artemesia I planted isn't what you'd expect. It's not the grey "dusty miller" Powis Castle type of variety. It's green and yellow variegated with sharply lobed, not feathery, leaves. I'd never seen one like it offered before, and I thought since it looked unusual, I had better get it.

I have run out of garlic bread before I have run out of minestrone. NOW what shall I do? Maybe bake a loaf using Uncle Carl's sourdough?

[Comments] (2) On The Cusp Of Summer: It actually got hot today. I spent a good three hours working in the yard, and I had to come in and get my safari hat. I weeded and planted and weeded and planted. Some of what I planted is okra and more green beans.

An iris that I planted three years ago finally bloomed. It's maroon and yellow, very pretty. I'm not sure what its name is because it's been so long that the tag is gone. It might be "Dynamite." There is a calligraphy rock in the general vicinity that says that.

The first year I started the garden, I labeled every plant I put in with a calligraphy rock. This didn't work as I had hoped because the rocks tended to not stay in the same place, or the plants died. Every once in a while I stumble across one.

[Comments] (1) Edward the Hopper: For a minute there I thought Edward was back. It's a big black spider like he was, and as I lay in bed watching it cross the ceiling, I worried slightly that it might be a giant black widow. I reached for my glasses and determined that it had the wrong body shape for a black widow. Meanwhile, it was making its way toward a cobweb containing two daddy longlegs.

I rolled out of bed for a closer inspection. Nope, not Edward. This spider just had one white spot on his rear, and he was hairy. His eyes glowed with blue florescent light. As it approached the web, one of the daddy longlegs began to dance and make threatening motions, but it didn't spring. Perhaps it was caught in the web itself. The other DLspider just lay in wait.

A reinspection a minute ago shows NO big black spider, but the two daddy longlegs are still there. I don't like daddy longlegs because they eat each other, and I think that is rude. I know this from emperical evidence, not from book larnin'. I wish the daddy longlegs were gone from my bedroom.

[Comments] (2) Workin': Today I worked in the back yard all morning, tying up (some) of the Sally Holmes roses, yanking some more creeping fig off the chimney, pruning pond plants (didn't finish that job!) and rearranging patio pots. I replaced a bunch of drip tubing in the pots, added two risers to the bed where I'm going to plan shrub roses, and generally got ready to plant a bunch of stuff that is not bought yet.

I tried to raise the umbrellas, but I couldn't because I am still too weak. Three of my deep watering pipes are missing from the pots. I suspect Robert Gomez threw them out.

My order came from Park's today, and I got it all planted. I had ordered a bare root "Economy Daylilly Assortment" which I put in patio pots. I planted one, and then carried the other two and set them on the patio next to a pot while I went to drag a bag of potting soil over. When I came back, Gretel had carried one of the daylillies off. I looked everywhere, and had just about despaired of finding it when I discovered she had carried it over and set it down in pot #1. She was helping!

The rest of the order consisted of heucheras and dicentras, shade plants which I put under the camellias. I planted three dicentras and four heucheras: Creme Brulee, Marmalade, Key Lime, and Peach Melba. They all have colored leaves.

Also in my box was a "free" echinachea (Did I spell that right?) Purple Coneflower. I don't delude myself for a moment that it was really "free", but I'll give it a try. I put it next to some orange gazania, so it should make a real visual pop. The poor little thing is so small and withered now though. We'll see if it lives. If not, it was "free."

Yummy Dinner: I made a dinner today that Rachel though was very yummy, but I threw it up. Grilled salmon. Rice. And the rest of it was from the garden: two colors of beets and beet greens and green beans. Experimentally, I cooked the green beans on "low" in garlic butter until they were tender; this method is to be highly recommended.

Gosh, I got every pot dirty, but Rachel did the dishes very sweetly. Big day tomorrow; I don't have to work except to keep getting ready for fall semester, so I'm going to work very, very hard in the yard. Maybe tomorrow I'll get up my nerve to wade into the fishpond to prune the papyrus.

Wahoo!: They started selling LaRosa bars again at Young's. I am quite pleased; I bought four of them. They are selling for 79 cents, compared to a dollar from the LaRosa guy with his cart. Which LaRosa guy has not been in this neighborhood of late. I see them around work all the time.

I made a shrimp chow mein with fresh vegetables and extra ginger, using fresh noodles from the produce section. Rachel and I agreed that it tasted better than anything in a restaurant.

Do you know what I wish I could find a recipe for?

When we lived in Los Angeles, there was for a couple of years a hole in the wall restaurant over in the Rampart/Alvarado area called the Burrito Hut. (Shack? I think it was Hut.) The owner appeared to be the only employee, and he told us his recipes came from "Mother." My favorite thing to order was the Tostada de Pollo Celant, which had a thin green cilantro sauce on it. This was the first time I ever saw shredded red cabbage and carrots added to a tostada.

The guy didn't have a liquor license, for which the LA Times restaurant reviewer seriously dinged him. (Flubbaththth.) The last time I remember eating there was a huge family luncheon after Alyson's baptism. Shortly thereafter, the Burrito Hut disappeared, and with it the Pollo Celant.

[Comments] (3) I Been Workin'On the Railroad: ...or not the railroad, but on fall semester. I spent the whole time the cleaning lady was here and finished the class pack for ACDV 68. Then I went visiting teaching, and then took a nap. I spent about an hour on the ACDV 68 calendar for fall, and I did my English 60 grades.

The Young Men/Young Women had a Super Senior Supper, so I took Ernestine Boonstoppel to it. You were supposed to be 60 or older to go, but I scammed a dinner anyway. Ham, funeral potatoes, green beans, peach pie a la mode. (I threw it up.)

I think Ernestine really had a good time. I got a very nice picture for the ward newsletter of Ernestine surrounded by smiling kids.

Tomorrow I have to go in to work in the morning, but it's the last day until June 13. I am exhausted really, and need to do serious yard work.

Fall bulb catalogs have begun to arrive. A new one came, Van Wyks, which has a different assortment and is cheaper than Parks. I looked through it and made a list of all the "nice to haves." When those catalogs come in the mail, I seriously want one of everything.

[Comments] (3) Heresy: I don't think I'm going to go see Star Wars. I LOVED the first one, way back when, and was disappointed in the sequels. I haven't seen either of the recent ones, and I think I'll let sleeping dogs lie.

I feel like a real non-geek skuzzbucket saying that.

Doggone!: A couple of weeks ago I bought a "dog repellant" herb from Home Depot. It sort of stinks. I planted it in one of Gretel's holes, and so far she has not dug it up, so today I went to get more. I got the last five that they have, and I'll put them in Gretel's holes around the patio. She can still dig under the citrus trees and under the Lady Banks rose, so I don't feel too mean. It's just that digging around the patio makes such a mess. Poor mess of a dog.

Watch her dig them up now that I've spent fourteen dollars.

[Comments] (1) Finally!: I finally figured out how to make a Chicken Marsala that is as good as what we had at the Basque restaurant for my brother-in-law's wedding. Yum. I had to make myself quit eating it and put the rest in the refrigerator.

By way of explanation, I spent a very long morning planting rosebushes and refurbishing patio pots. I'm really tired. Andy Smith came over and worked on my electrical problem (didn't get it fixed, he needs to borrow some tool...) and he told me who to call to get the ceiling fan fixed. He also put up my patio umbrellas for me.

After Andy left and I finished cleaning up in back, I hobbled in to make the Chicken Marsala. I used a tip I got at Enrichment last night--use a skillet to pound the breast cutlets flat, and then you don't need a wooden meat mallet. It worked really well, but I blew it then because I am so tired. I wasn't thinking, and I went outside to get a lemon. When I got back, there was Gretel just finishing off my nice pounded chicken breast. I had to thaw another one from the freezer. Dumb me.

Anyway, I used a shallot, which I haven't seen in any of the recipes for Chicken Marsala, and the juice of a whole lemon, brown mushrooms, and lots of fresh pepper from Mr. Dudley. I browned the chicken and mushrooms in butter, not in olive oil, and then deglazed the pan with the Marsala (Why is that capitalized? Is it a place?). Add chicken stock, reduce sauce, etc. etc. It was good.

I think perhaps butter makes everythinggood.

[Comments] (1) Serbia: I have finished reading The Luck of Thirteen by Mr. and Mrs. Jan Gordon, a memoir published in 1916 of their adventures as volunteers with the British Red Cross in Serbia. Like most of the books Rachel is using for her research, this one is fascinating. Plus, it's so well-written and fast moving, it's a real page turner.

One has to admire these plucky Brits who spent the term of World War I trying to be helpful on the Eastern Front. Seldom do we learn anything about the Eastern Front because our history textbooks are so Eurocentric, and they focus on France and Germany. I had no idea before Rachel started this research.

I don't think I would hold up as well as these folks, given the same conditions. They went cheerfully bumping all over the Balkans in oxcarts, eating terrible, scarce food and sleeping in all kinds of horrible conditions. Lice. Typhus. Cold. Stench. I'm afraid I like my creature comforts, and I don't want to sleep in wet clothing in a tent in a howling blizard. I don't mind hard work--and these folks who ran the hospitals taking care of the sick and wounded REALLY worked hard-- but I don't do so well with misery. My hat is off to these people who did what I couldn't have.

Quiet Day: I worked in the yard all morning, stupidly having forgotten to use sunscreen, so I am a little bit toasted. It's starting to get hotter. I did wear my pith helmet, though. I planted a flat of blue fescue. I like blue fescue because it's one of the plants that looks like it came out of a Dr. Seuss book. When ever I find a plant that looks like that, I make a place for it if I can. Oh, my word! I just remembered I left the water running out there.

I picked all the "early" and "middle" apricots and will can them tomorrow. The grafted branch of "late" apricots isn't q-u-i-t-e ready yet. I don't know why early and middle came on together this year. Cool spring, maybe? Who can plumb the deep mysteries of Mother Nature?

Ah, me. I wish it were time for beddybye.

More Serbia: I can't get the rest of my Serbia post to "post", so I'm going to try to put it here.

I don't think I would hold up as well as these folks, given the same conditions. They went cheerfully bumping all over the Balkans in oxcarts, eating terrible, scarce food and sleeping in all kinds of horrible conditions. Lice. Typhus. Cold. Stench. I'm afraid I like my creature comforts, and I don't want to sleep in wet clothing in a tent in a howling blizard. I don't mind hard work--and these folks who ran the hospitals taking care of the sick and wounded REALLY worked hard-- but I don't do so well with misery. My hat is off to these people who did what I couldn't have.

Arrrrrrggghhhh!: NOW it shows up!

[Comments] (2) Day of Rest: I'm not worth much today. I didn't even get up until noon, which means I slept through Stake Conference. Better to sleep through it in bed than in the congregation, I suppose. About 3 p.m. I tottered out to make infused vinegar and minestrone. The carrots I was going to use were bad, so threw them out, but the soup is pretty good anyhow. I'm starting to have lots of basil in the garden, and some of the okra is up.

Remaining to do today, can apricots. I'm afraid they are not going to last until tomorrow.

[Comments] (4) Apricotia: I have canned nine quarts of apricots; I hope to end up with a dozen. I'm going to give them to Robert for Christmas because he has been jonesing for home-canned apricots for the last twenty years or so. I'll drive them up to Utah when I go for Shelley's wedding in September.

They aren't as pretty as they might be because the fruit got scarred during the hailstorm we had this spring. The fruits on the "late" branch are a little bit nicer.

When we lived in New Mexico, we had a gigantic apricot tree in front, and then when we moved to Sunnyvale there was one in the front and one in the back. The one in back died early on, but what I'm saying is we always had a plethora of apricots. We canned and dried them. Dad built a screen rack cabinet to dry them in, but they always turned out sort of hard and black. Still great flavor, but a really tough to chew dry mouthful. High school kids of the day often had a summer job cutting apricots and spreading them out to dry for Mariani's. (I notice they are still selling dried fruit.) I never did it; I always worked in Aunt Jeuney's hobby business.

The church had a welfare cannery, and when the sign up sheets went around Elders Quorum, Dad always signed us up for apricots rather than peaches or pears because the apricots are easier; they don't have to be peeled. I remember one time in the cannery I had the job of dumping a quarter cup of sugar into the cans as they went past on a conveyer. That night I lifted four hundred pounds of sugar, a quarter cup at a time.

[Comments] (1) So Hot: This morning after they came for the garbage,I rolled the green waste bin around to the front and packed it full of poppies. Poor Juan is here now and has nowhere to put the grass clippings. He will have to sneak them into another customer's green bin, I guess.

I was going to plant some seeds of summer flowers tomorrow morning, but it's too hot to can apricots tonight, so morning it is. Rachel said she would help me.

I was supposed to take Jill Langley to lunch for her birthday, but that got put over to Thursday, so for lunch I made a recipe from the most recent Sunset --sea scallops with cellophane noodles. I didn't like it, so Gretel had the rest. For dinner I made a salmon fillet grilled on Rachel's little George Foreman grill, with rice and cucumbers from my garden. From the leftover rice, I made rice and artichoke salad for tomorrow. So you can see I heated up the kitchen even without canning!

I picked and froze all the ripe boysenberries. There aren't very many unripe ones left, and the bushes are growing all over, sending their thorny ambassadors into the asparagus bed. Which should not be allowed. Which isn't allowed. Which I will do something about as soon as I figure out what. I can't just prune them off because those new branches will bear next year's fruit. And humph. Those boysenberry canes were purported to be thornless.

[Comments] (2) Wasted: Yesterday afternoon I discovered that the freezer had come unplugged. I was chagrined. However, I girded up my loins to do what needs to be done, and I have filled the trash bin with the contents of the big freezer. I am particularly sad about the corned beef brisket and the whole chickens. Not so sad about a steak I didn't know I had; I will NEVER freeze steak again because when eating it you can tell it's been frozen. Gretel had the stew beef and she has been busy with it all afternoon.

Survivors were the bulk pack spices and a bag of Hershey's miniatures as well as a five pound bag of walnuts and a huge slab of chocolate that I think is Leonard's.

Conveniently, Grandma Jessie's ancient fridge is standing right by the big freezer so I moved stuff into the freezer of it while we defrost. (It shouldn't take long in this heat!) Most of what I moved was frozen water packs for the cooler, but I also bought a whole bunch of chicken breast yesterday. I've never had such help in defrosting before; I always had to pack all the coolers. Of course, I didn't have to use too much room, because nothing much from the big freezer survived.

There was stuff in there I didn't even know what it was or how old! I think I'm going to get a dry erase board to list the contents on the front door of the freezer.

I think I'm going to start keeping my TPN supply in Grandma Jessie's refrigerator. Rachel and I have had it with having it in the house.

[Comments] (1) On the D-List: I was so sick today. Up half the night scratching, so I know it was something--Dr. Amin says itching like that is the ruined immune system trying to fight an illness. Still scratching, but I called in to refill my Benadryl prescription, and it will be ready at 9 a.m. tomorrow. I did get up at six and put Gretel out, put sheets in to wash, and puttered a little, but by the time Irma got here I was a goner and I went to sleep in Rachel's room where I slept all day. Her ceiling fan works; mine is broken.

Everything I ate I threw up. I am debating now whether to try to make dinner or to forget it. I had all kinds of plans for yard work this morning, but none have come to fruition.

Good news is Leonard might come visit this weekend.

[Comments] (1) We The People: Rachel brought me an advance copy of Young Patriots by Charles Cerami, a book about James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and their contributions to the building of the Constitution. It's an easy read and relatively short, so I'll be anxious for the next book to come my way!

Most history that I've read focuses on Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, so it's interesting to learn about these younger guys. I don't know who Cerami is or what his credentials may be, but he has obviously poured over tons of correspondence and documents. Sometimes he says something that smacks of being made up: ". . . Martha reminded him [Washington] that all her plans for the future were based on his promise that he was leaving public life for good." But more often, he backs up his statements with quotations from a letter or speech.

Interestingly enough, at the end of the book is inserted the entire text of the U.S. Constitution, which I have never read. I'll take this opportunity to read it.

[Comments] (3) In Flanders Fields: ...the poppies grow, and also in my yard. But they are not growing anymore; they are getting rangy and weedy and dying out (and spreading their seed.) I have been ripping them out for weeks now. I fill the green compost bin, and then I fill the regular trash bin, and then I have to wait until after pickup to pull out more.

Something is going to have to change next year. I think I'll thin out the poppies when they are young and not have as big a show next year. The Flanders poppies are not as big a mess as the California poppies.

I planted the Flanders poppies in honor of Grandpa Call--not that he died in WWI, but he surely had a bad time, and afterwards was very active in Veterans' affairs, and also, during the Vietnam War, anti-war protesting. My grandfather was a Grey Panther, oh, yeah. Not everyone can say that.

When I was a little girl the veterans used to sell crepe paper poppies to pin on like they still do in England. I wish they did that now, but I guess the Vietnam veterans aren't that well organized. The nearest thing to a tribute I've seen this Memorial Day weekend is the article on poppies in the White Forest Nursery newsletter.

Lets have a lovely Memorial Day and remember those who have gone before.

[Comments] (2) I'm a Slacker: Today I didn't really get up until late afternoon. I didn't feel too well, and I figured, well, it's a holiday. I made dinner for me and Rachel, and then after she went to improv practice, I went out in back and weeded the chessboard. I am going to give groundcover One More Chance, and then if it doesn't take, as they say in Britian, "Sod it." I don't know why I'm so worried about having a chessboard; I'll never be able to afford the game pieces.

Rachel was upset because the Bakersfield Californian published a list of local men (It looked like all men) killed in war from World War Two on. She wondered why no World War One casualties were included. I wonder too. It's not because the information is unavailable. I ran a quick preliminary Google search and came up with one fellow within minutes.

I guess this World War One groupie had better write a letter to the editor.

[Comments] (4) Hero: I took a quiz about which archetypal character are you that Camilla had linked on her blog. I'm the Hero, the Champion.

You Are The Champion
"Don't worry, I got it."

You play as the Hero. You are the one who usually tries to take on the world for any cause you believe in. You are a natural leader in most circles and are not afraid to take that position if a situation calls for it. Others look to you for inspiration and praise you for your acheivements. Even though they love and adore you, however, you are left feeling alone or overwhelmed many times. You're almost always positive and keep your chin up despite any setbacks because you know that you will succeed in the end, no matter how long it takes.

Which Classic Story Role Do You Play?
brought to you by Quizilla

I guess it's true. I just keep plodding along no matter what the obstacles. Rachel and I were talking about luck the other day, and how ours has often been bad. But here we are, and we're happy and we keep going.

[Comments] (2) Pink Pants: I went to Target today to take my film in and to buy paintbrushes for the Young Men to use on the patio furniture tomorrow night. I found pink pants on the clearance rack! Also a stripey T-shirt. I haven't tried anything on yet, but I'm sure they will fit.

I also went to Orchard Supply Hardware to get sprinkler system parts, and I came home with one-third flat of Madagascar periwinkle and something called a pentas, the label of which claims it likes to be hot and dry. (NTS: Must look up in Sunset book before planting.)

Rachel bought me a trashy novel, the second book of Nora Roberts' In the Garden series, which just came out today. I think I will take my shower and then ensconce myself with it.

[Comments] (1) Sigh: I have been paying bills. Sigh. Double Sigh. I know I'll make it somehow, but serious lifestyle changes need to happen around here.

[Comments] (1) Weltschmertz: I've been so sad the last couple of days. I'm sad for the Serbians in World War I. I am sad for them now. I'm sad for the malnourished Sudanese babies. I'm especially sad because we've had a death in the family--a tragic, horrible death of someone too young and beautiful to die. I don't like feeling this way.

Chess, Anyone?: While the boys were here painting patio furniture, I worked on the chessboard. I had some dichondra seed in the garden shed. At least, I HOPE it was pelleted dichondra seed and not ant poison. I planted it all, at any rate. You'd think somebody like me would label the Ziploc bag when somebody like me puts something away.

[Comments] (2) Company: Whenever I work in the garden, I always have feline companionship. Always Jellybean, and sometimes Xochitl or Tonks. They just flop right down on the sidewalk or under a shrub and watch. I've pondered the subject and come to the conclusion that they aren't waiting for anything exciting to happen [a mouse running out from under a bush] but they are just keeping me company. What goes on in the mind of a cat? Sometimes you can tell, but in this case I can't.

Several weeks ago I planted catnip under a wire basket, the way it says to in the Sunset book. It's not doing too well. I think that Someone can hook that paddy paw right in there and destroy the plant despite the basket.

[Comments] (5) I Should Be In Utah: I should have driven to Utah today to attend Melea's funeral tomorrow. I'm still really sad about this. But my body has been doing that thing where my temperature shoots up and down, and I'm usually running a fever. Also the stomach has been acting up more than usual. Therefore, I thought if I made that drive it would be to MY funeral.

Delta is beginning a direct flight from Bakersfield to Salt Lake City on July 1, so future weddings and funerals shouldn't be a big problem. (I'm going to have to drive in September for Shelley's wedding because I have to take Robert's Christmas present, which can't be mailed.)

It's so difficult the see the words "Melea" and "funeral" together. I remember the last time I talked to her, at Alyssa's wedding. She was so fun and lively and intelligent, and just like me, with lots of smartypants stuff to say. She had grown up to be so beautiful, just like her lovely Mom.

I should be in Utah. But like many things I would have liked to do in life, the HIV virus wins again. Don't anyone catch HIV. You WON'T win. The virus is always triumphant.

[Comments] (4) Not as Hot as I Think I Am: I'm running a fever today, so I didn't go out and do any yard work, even though it needs it badly and even though it's not really all that hot out there. It was all I could do to grill some lunch, and my hair was dripping while I did it.

Rachel bought a new book, so I stole it and went to bed with it for the afternoon.

I made potato salad to go with barbecued ribs for tomorrow, and to my chagrin, I had no celery. I thought I had celery. I ALWAYS have celery! So I put a cut up cucumber in instead. It tastes pretty good.

We have cucumbers taking over the world. One of them is eighteen inches long. I don't know what I'm going to do with so many. I did make sunomono for lunch, so that used one, and the potato salad used one, and it's like the Hydra out there.

[Comments] (4) Tigger v. Crockagator: Church was good today. I started off in a panic because it turned out that the person who usually duplicates the program was out of town. I ended up running it off on my laser printer. Also the newsletter, and as I distributed the newsletter at church, I noticed that I had run out of toner about 3/4 of the way through, so the newsletter was a mess. And I duplicated the program upside down. They'd better not expect competence from me!

I took cucumbers to church and got rid of them right away. Whew. Jon Olson took the gigantic one.

Kasey Welsh is home from his mission, and that same girlfriend was here to see him. He talks in church next week. I keep thinking he should still be in Primary.

I think the Bishop was disgusted at us because everyone was talking during the prelude music. He got up and said, "Can anyone here tell me what prelude music we just heard?" I said, "O, God Our Help in Ages Past", and he said, "Thank you, Sister Whitney; at least one person was listening to the prelude." But I was visiting too, so I'm not as good as he thinks I am. When I sit by Doris Jackman, we just can't shut up.

I got the Crockagator out during testimonies and played with little Tanner Mulkay. I think he has finally decided to be friends with me. He even spoke a few words! He had a Tigger, so we had a battle on the edge of the pew, Tigger v. Crockagator. When he gets to the point he will share his goldfish crackers, I will know that we are true friends.

Shaky: The San Andreas is busy today. Four quakes in the last hour alone, all in the San Jose area.

[Comments] (1) Barbecue: I went to Target today to pick up my pictures. FINALLY I have gotten the sushi making pictures developed. Also I wanted to see if I could get a little grill plate for the barbecue, like maybe the ones they make fajitas on.

I haven't looked at barbecues or barbecue stuff in years, so I was surprised by the offerings Target had. Great big stainless steel honkers. Who wants that thing in their back yard? Mine is made out of redwood and green enameled steel, and it's a little more copascetic with Mother Nature. I also got mine at Target, but obviously they think taste has changed in the intervening years. We're in the future now; lets go with hard and metallic!

I did get a grill plate thingy, but I still don't know what it is called because none of the ones on display had a label, instruction sheet, or even a price sticker. The cashier had to send someone back to look up the price, and I held up a big long line with my pitiful purchase of pictures, a grill thingy, and a pair of jeans. So embarassing.

I got some Kosher bratwurst and grilled them for dinner, using the new grill thingy to grill sliced onions. This makes a Los Angeles street vendor hot dog. (See my article, "The Big Orange".) Neither Rachel nor I could eat a whole one, so Gretel was very grateful.

Anyhow. At Target, I was dazzled by the array of gizmos and doohickeys available for barbecuing. There were even designer tools! One stainless steel set looked like it should be in MOMA. Certainly it shouldn't be near someone's grill, because it looked like an excellent way to fry your fingers. Not that I should talk, the person using a nylon pancake turner from the kitchen. There was a "basket" for grilling fish, made of flexible wire and looking like an accident waiting to happen. A plethora of devices for lighting the grill and taking its temperature. And a wok. An actual wok that can be used to stir-fry on the grill. C'mon.

After this little trip to the Temple of Materialism, I'm grateful that there are so many things I don't even want.

[Comments] (1) Fashionable Doom: I went to put on my new pink pants this morning and discovered they are maternity pants! I tried them on anyway and the waistband fell straight to my ankles. Bleah. They were so cute, too. I took them back to Target.

Hillary says that she and I are doomed to wear navy blue, black, and khaki. She says she tries to get other colors and more interesting clothes, but keeps coming home with the same stuff. Me too. Hillary, however, was wearing a burgundy skirt this morning, so she has branched out a titch. I ended up wearing jeans and my Los Angeles shirt with the fossil on it. (blue).

I used to like to dress in interesting clothes, bright colors, creative jewelry. I especially liked an ethnic look, and I was always looking for wearable art ideas that I could sew. I don't care anymore, however. I'm doing well to get up and get dressed in plain old clothes. Boring old me. The Fashion Plate of Doom.

[Comments] (4) Copycat: Today I was planning to eat at Olive Garden with my friend Marianne, but she couldn't make it, so I made a copycat salad. Romaine, olives, sliced red onion, tomato, peperoccini. I didn't feel like Parmesan, so I used feta cheese. And croutons. I didn't make a copycat Olive Garden dressing, however. I just used my homemade herbal infused vinaigarette. It was soooo good. I love salad. I don't think it's going to stay down, but I don't care about that anymore. I figure I'll just eat what I want to and if my stomach doesn't like it, oh well.

I could have put salami in the salad as well, but Rachel cast her jaundiced eye upon the salami I bought, and now I'm suspicious as well, due to her influence. I think Gretel is going to end up with the salami, which she will think is yummy, which probably IS yummy, but we hooomans have all fallen for a marketing scam.

I was going to work outside while Irma was here today but I'm feverish, and I ended up going to bed with Jellybean in Rachel's bedroom and sleeping until Irma woke me up when she left. It's a beautiful day to be outside, but I still don't feel all that great, so I'm going back to bed to try to digest my copycat salad.

[Comments] (1) The Meeting of the Kingdoms: I slept most of the day, but got in a couple of hours of weeding in the front flowerbed this evening. I think that in the garden is where the three kingdoms meet, and we are not so separate after all. Slowly, slowly, the soil(mineral) on my property is improving, as I add compost and organic mixtures (vegetable) and as I (animal) toil away. We are not as independent as we think we are.

Most of my dirt is pure sand, and when it dries out it's as hard as cement. Woe betide anything that wants to grow there! But I'm working on it. Unfortunately, much improvement is due to potting soil imported around the roots of DNS pony pack flowers. But I got a bag of perlite the other day--basically puffed granite-- hoping that it would improved drainage in the soggy places. I haven't figured out how I am going to work it in yet though.

[Comments] (3) Luminous Prose: I think I'll barf if I have to read that description in yet another book review. However, the book I just finished defies description in any other way. Cresent, by Diana Abu-Jabbar, is about the Middle Eastern expatriate community in Los Angeles and is so beautifully written it shines like a gem. I'm not someone who would know if it bit me on the ear, but I feel like Abu-Jabbar has given me an insight into the Arab psyche. Anyone who wishes can disabuse me of that notion now.

I think that it's extremely difficult to write in this way without getting overwritten, so my hat is off to this author. (My hat is off anyway, and I have Hat Hair!)

[Comments] (6) Feeding the Neighborhood: This year, I purchased the first honest and straightforward packet of zucchini seeds I have ever seen. It says "Feed the Whole Neighborhood!" in a little banner on the front. Today I started doing that. There is a neighbor I talk to sometime when she is out walking and I'm out weeding. I gave her a cucumber and two squashes.

The whole house smells like mint because I picked some Kentucky Mint Julep mint and I have it steeping in hot water. I'm going to make lemonade juleps. With frozen raspberries in them. We give a toast to Brendan!

I made more Italian meatballs today, but these are not as good. I think I accidentally put an extra cup of bread crumbs in. That's what I get for measuring! Also, they don't have enough garlic.

It's looking like we might get a little storm.

[Comments] (1) A Waste of Beer: Today at Young's I bought six big bottles of cheapo beer to dump in the garden. The cashier was telling me about some gardening show on TV that recommends it--I thought it was my discovery, due to me taking away Roger's beer and dumping it in the compost. The manager, who was bagging my groceries up in the Green Frog bags, Could Not BELIEVE that someone would pour all that beer on the ground.

So I poured it all out, and since I fertilized everything with fish emulsion last night, it really stinks out there now! The bottles are soaking in the sink. I'm going to remove the labels and make up more bottles of herbal vinegar for gifts. The lids say "King Cobra" on them. I imagine I'll get some razzing from my friends over that when I give them their vinegar for Christmas.

Also today I organized the pantry. I found a can of pineapple, circa 1995, that was puffed and swollen and ready to burst. I threw out several things and am thinking I should throw out a few more--I know all the cans of refried beans are several years old and we don't seem to eat them anymore.

[Comments] (5) Angles: I like things to be square. I like furniture to be perpendicular or parallel to the wall. There are some [very nice] people who will put a piece of furniture, for example their bed, catty corner in the room, and the visual impact of that placement drives me insane. I don't know if it's feng shui, or the monster that might be hiding in the corner, or some deep psychological warp, or what. For me, it upsets the balance of the room.

Irma is always arranging things into angles. I have on top of my bookshelf a bank, a photo of Alyson, and a telephone. Every week she angles them out. Every week I put them back straight. Now we've started on the little cupboard that I keep spare toilet paper in. There's a real reason I have this one straight--if it is angled, it covers up the electrical outlet where the charger to my shaver lives. Every week on the bathroom counter, the clock, the cowbell, and whatever Mary Kay had the misfortune to be left out are marching in slanted ranks. Fortunately most of the furniture in the house can't be rearranged because the house is so full of furniture.

What makes some people like rectangles and some people like triangles?

Julep: The juleps turned out really good--very refreshing. I steeped the mint in a half gallon of hot water and then made lemonade with said water. I have a new ice crusher blade for the blender that works almost like shave ice, so I crush eight cubes of ice, put in some frozen raspberries, and pour the julep stuff over. It's wonderful.

I don't like the mint juleps at Disneyland although I know there are people who worship them. (My cousins Susie and Debbie, for example.) The Disneyland ones have something sort of creamy and icky in them. This stuff I made is not too sweet, which is good.

Chessboard Update: *Something* has germinated in the chessboard, whether it be dichondra or weeds or ant poison, I know not. I have been very faithful about keeping the squares moist, so I do hope it's the dichondra. Some weeds have gotten a head start too. I'm going to go out and pull them tomorrow morning.

Jawohl!: I made hot German potato salad to go with the ribs for tomorrow. I feel like it's missing something. Maybe it will get zippier once it sits in the dressing.

I cut as much fat off the ribs as I could, for which Gretel was grateful. We're going to try marinating them in pineapple juice this time. Got to use up some of that pineapple in the pantry.

[Comments] (5) Pulling the Shoestrings: I got an invitation to a baby shower which will be held on Tuesday night. I'm very conflicted about this. I really don't have money to buy a baby gift. Oh, I know I could go charge something at Target, but the bill will come due, and we are on a real austerity program in this household.

I've already spent more than $300 more than I wanted to spend this month. I had to put some money into the house's escrow account for property taxes, and also a nastygram came from the Franchise Tax Board.

I can't think of anything I can do on the cheap for a baby. I can't very well take them one of my bottles of vinegar, can I?

Do I hate being a grownup and having to worry about money? I don't know. I had to worry about money all the time when I was a kid with Mom and Dad paying the bills. So I don't think it makes much of a difference. You never really get ahead when it comes to life.

I don't know if I'm going to get a paycheck in June. I surely hope so, but I honestly don't know. Used to be, they paid us eight times a year, but sometimes it's been ten. I don't know when our first summer school paycheck is due either.

frannyw@www.saltmine.com: Well, my little break is over and it's back to work in the morning. My class is clear full and people on the waiting list. So no more being a slacker. I am doing a leeeetle slacking on the 8th of July--instead of spending the day reading placement exams, I'm going to San Francisco for Leonard's birthday and a Giants game. That is a leeeetle slack.

I went to a birthday party for Ernestine Boonstoppel tonight. She is ninety years old. Bless her heart! I gave her a full page magnifier and a card that I made her. Lots of people were there, so I visited a lot and it was nice to spend an evening that way.

It's getting latish and I should go to bed to be ready to roll in the morning, but I never can sleep the night before a new semester. I roll and turn and worry that the alarm won't go off. I have two students from last semester; both of them I like, and I'm looking forward to meeting the others.

Conversation: I spent a lot of time this afternoon talking with Brock. We need to touch base every now and again because we are the only people we know with our similar situation--people living with AIDS who are members of the Church. Whenever I spend time with Brock I go away not feeling quite so alone. People in the AIDS community don't understand us, nor do people in the Church. We share an isolating disease, and it's nice every once in a while to break through that aloneness and share with someone who can understand.

We discussed Terry Schiavo.

With AIDS, you spend a lot of time dreading what is coming next. At least I do, and Brock does, because he's been through it with the death of all his friends as I have with the death of my husband. There is a big picture of possible scenarios, but the combination of problems for each person is different. What a way to live. Certain aspects of dying are terrible. I think it would have been better not to know.

[Comments] (2) Terrible Night: Horrible, No Good Night. My IV came unhooked and I woke up in a soaked bed. Had to move, change clothes, and then I still smelled the stuff. Gretel was tromping all around all night. Plus I was unhooked for who knows how many hours, and now I have a headache. When I get home from work I'll have to finish washing and drying the bed.

At least I didn't wet the bed, which was my first fear.

[Comments] (5) The Heat is On: I wish the heat killed weeds instead of helping them grow. I haven't been out to pull them yet this week--Monday I was sick, and Tuesday I was exhausted from the events of the night and I didn't get up until time to go to the baby shower. Our Pat the Bunny book was a big hit there, and I won a prize for knowing the most terminology for baby animals.

I had been giving Clayton Davis a ride to school. He is taking algebra at BC under concurrent enrollment. Last night, however, he called me and told me that a neighbor of his is going to add the class, so they will carpool. I'll miss mornings with Clayton.

Maybe this warm weather will speed up the eggplant and okra. I do wish they would hurry!

I'm going to end up with probably 26 people in my class. That's not too bad.

He's Still There: I went to FoodsCo today to use a food voucher I had from the county AIDS office, and that drunk, crazy guy who used to be Grandpa's roommate in the rest home across the street was there. He had escaped, I guess, and come across the street on his little electric scooter chair. He was buying beer.

You'd think they would watch him a little more closely. It can't be safe for him to go out like that because he has to cross the freeway on ramp to cross the street. Also, he's nuts.

So Sweet: At FoodsCo, they had Royal Anne cherries. I have not even seen any of them since high school, and certainly never in a store. They are the kind of delicacy you have to grow in your own garden if you want to eat them. I bought a pound, and I will have to eat them fast because they don't keep.

My parents had a cherry tree, but it was a sour pie cherry. (My mother was like me, wanted things to be sour!) Aunt Jeuney had a big bing cherry tree, but you had to work snappy to get any cherries before the birds did. There was a wonderful lady who worked for aunt Jeuney, Jean Anning, who had a Royal Anne tree and she would give us some sometimes.

You can't can them or freeze them or make pies or anything because they are just too fragile. Eat them up while the eating is good!

Albion: I started reading Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination by Peter Ackroyd. He follows various themes such as spirals, melancholy, interlacement, in English literature, art, music, etc., from the very beginnings to the present day. This is all very interesting. When he tries to claim origins for these themes, however, I think he is reaching. For example, the theme of trees, considered in the first chapter. Does he really believe that every tree in an English painting, the Robin Hood legend, every branching pattern in a piece of music originates in some kind of cellular memory of the Druids? I think that's a stretch.

Ackroyd is not a professor of English language and literature; he is a writer, albeit an award winning one. This book kind of reads like a PhD dissertation, though.

I'll be alternating this book with chapters of Stephen J. Gould's last book, which I have almost finished. Next on the list is the Borges biography.

The Week Is Over: Well, I made it through this week. I think I can already tell which students are going to pass the class and which won't. I have one girl who is repeating the class who had Brenda Freney before. When I had her write the practice test, she left off every ending of every verb and had just pitiful paragraph development. When I conferenced with her about it, she said, "Oh, Ms. Freney told me that too!" Well, if she'd been told that before (possibly over and over all semester) why doesn't she DO something about it? Today in class she fell asleep.

I didn't feel all that great the whole morning, so I came home and went to bed and when I woke up I really was sick. I am going to Enrichment Night anyhow though. I need to get out of my shell and attend social functions as long as I can so that I don't become some sort of poor me whiner huddled in a corner waiting to die. It's almost time for me to put Gretel out so that I can leave.

[Comments] (2) Twist and Turn: I'm reading that the French farmers are blocking the new EU budget because they stand to lose massive EU farm subsidies. This is the same block of voters who wouldn't ratify the constitution because they wanted to protect their industry. Come on, Jean-Pierre, you can't have it both ways. Wiggleworms.

[Comments] (1) Having a Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Here: California has been busy quaking and quaking. The seismologists must be really busy, and everyone else is wondering if we are going to fall into the drink.

Yes. We are going to split off. It's been in progress for centuries, half a centimeter per month.

Alex, one of the tutors, was doing a little role-play about people in Heaven:

Angel A: So, how did y'all die?

Angel B: Train wreck.

Angel C: Cancer.

Angel A: I died in the Apocalypse. It was so neat! You shoulda been there! Explosions everywhere and the earth turning wrongside out... exciting stuff!

[Comments] (1) Yikes! I Think I'm in Bakersfield!: Youngs had tri-tip on sale so I splurged and bought a package. I trimmed them up and put one in the oven to "deep pit" overnight. The other one I put in the big freezer, and when someone comes to see me next I will cook it.

I put grass killer on all the crabgrass and Bermuda and poa in the flower garden. I just can't keep up with it by hand pulling. The label says that it works better when it's hot, but it wasn't all that hot today.

[Comments] (1) Goats to Be Gotten:: I got a rise out of Rachel today when I said that Ginny Weasley is annoying. I further hypothesized that all little sisters are annoying. She really got huffy. Actually, many of the characters in HP make your teeth grate. I really found that out when we borrowed the CDs for the trip to take Leonard's car to Arkansas. About the other side of New Mexico I had to give it up because I had had it with Harry. It was like having a fifteen-year-old boy in the car, and we all know they should be sent to Mars.

[Comments] (1) Mutant:: Several years ago I planted valerian (Jupiter's Beard) around the margins of my yard--under the tangerine tree and so forth. Jupiter's Beard comes in red or white, and I planted the white. This year, it has put forth some plants that have flowers that are definitely purple. There is no "possibly a red strain" about it. It's purple. Purple I tell you! It's awfully pretty and I hope the purple ones reproduce as well as the white ones do.

I suppose if I knew what to do I could get famous?

[Comments] (2) Fathers Day: This is the first Father's Day without my father-in-law. I remember last year I spent the afternoon with him at his rest home. Nobody else was there; I don't know why. We talked, and he wanted to dictate a letter and have me write it down. I went to the nurse's station and swiped a piece of paper from the photocopy machine, and he dictated a lovely sentiment to Rosalie, thanking her for making him a father. I almost cried. We folded it up and put it in the envelope that I brought his card in, but he kept wanting to open it back up and read it again. It became rather the worse for wear, but the heart was there.

I didn't make it to church today. I got up just fine, had a cup of miso soup, took Gretel for a ride in the car, and was doing great. Then the vomiting started in about eleven and I tried to lie down until time for church. Next thing I knew it was 1:15. I had a choice to get up and hurry and be late, or skip it, and I went back to sleep.

Rachel and I are eating garden vegetables today.

[Comments] (2) Hello Smelly: After days of wondering what was that strange smell in my bedroom, the mystery is solved! The sanseveria on my nightstand has sent up a flower stalk blooming with little yellow flowers and dripping with honeydew. I've never seen that happen before, but I've had this snake plant since Roy's funeral, so maybe it's like a century plant and doesn't bloom often. It was a little baby in a dish garden when I got it.

The scent is pervasive. Cloying, but not necessarily offensive. I suppose I should cut the stalk off and get rid of it and its perfume, but I feel sorry for the plant making all that effort. Eventually it will fade on its own, I'm sure.

[Comments] (1) Deterioration of the Educational Systems: One of my students told us this morning that at the high school he graduated from in Long Beach, the teachers are behind a plexiglass wall and lecture the class through a microphone. If a student wants to ask a question, they have to press a button.

I thought I had it bad my seventh period class at East High School. Or, always, fourth period at Chipman. They turn into carnivores before lunch.

He also told us all about the metal detectors in every classroom door and the police patrols. This kid sort of doesn't know how to behave in a college classroom, and is it any wonder?

[Comments] (1) Dinosaurs!: Kristen sent me dinosaur stickers and a nice note. Thanks, Kristen! I can use the stickers on the scrapbook pages of the the dinosaur trip Leonard and I are taking this summer.

[Comments] (4) Fighting City Hall: I've been tiffing with my bank. I deposited a check for $1,000 in the ATM, and I even have an ATM receipt that says $1,000. Imagine my chagrin when I checked my balance online and found they had credited me with a $100 deposit. Obviously their mistake! (Usually, with mathematical matters, it's my mistake.)

I sent them a firm email saying that if they bounced the check I wrote for my annual auto insurance premium, it would be THEIR fault, not mine. Sometimes I get so mad at the way they do things--like deducting debits before they apply credits and then charging a fee for the shortage which wasn't really a shortage. Turkeys.

Today, the balance looks like it's fixed although I've received no reply or apology from the bank.

Updates: I heard from the bank. They gave me a lot of bs and made excuses and were not sorry at all, but at least they credited my account.

The ant poison has germinated and it is indeed dichondra. I have been watering and weeding so faithfully, and it's good to see it coming up all green. Some of the little sprouts have their first pair of real leaves. Every time Gretel and I go out in the yard, I pull out a handful of spotted spurge from the chessboard. It grows so much faster than grass. It is not an unattractive plant, and it would not be such a bad weed if it would behave itself.

Why Watch The News?: Why bother? Why take the paper? I'll tell you what happened yesterday, what is happening today, and what will happen tomorrow. It's all the same.

There was a car bomb in Iraq. The Giants lost. Political shennanigans accrued in the Bakersfield City Council. Some celebrity messed up. The recipe in the food section needs adaptation before anyone can eat it.

[Comments] (3) Variations on a Pasta Salad: I made pasta salad tonight. I used cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden and some haricots verts that were in the freezer needing to be used. While I was picking the cucumbers, a man came to visit Sue across the street and I gave him one. There are still so many, arrrrgh.

I used the "Heartland" tomatoes, a small tomato that has a lovely flavor, but the skin is so thick it makes me gag. I peeled all of them. Don't think THAT wasn't an annoying procedure. "Heartland" also has the stem core deep into the flesh of the tomato, and I don't think I'll be growing it next year. Maybe it would make a good juicer, but the plant doesn't seem prolific enough.

I picked two extra cucumbers to take to work to give away, and while I was coming in with them I bumped the doorframe with one of them (that's how long they are!) and it snapped in half. Gretel immediately got the fallen half, and now she is happily knawing away on it. It's made a huge mess on the rug. Probably it will give her gas, too.

I think I will take half of the pasta salad to work so that Rachel and I aren't stuck eating the whole huge bowl.

Improvements: Apparently "they" are going to replace a number of the utility poles in this neighborhood. A huge truck--like a logging truck--full of poles came through and left them one by one in the gutters in appropriate places. One of the places is right by our driveway, so I assume they will replace that old pole between our driveway and Lurine's yard. It's been a mess already. It took the work crew a whole day to replace one on Palm Street near Oleander, and they had the street blocked with equipment, trucks, and a cherry picker. A flagger was there directing traffic because the street was down to a single lane. When they do ours, I won't be able to get into the driveway, and Gretel will probably freak. She doesn't like big trucks and machines.

They also fixed the potholes in our street today. That is, they filled them with asphalt crumbs. I don't know how long the repair will last because they didn't steamroll it. It's certainly a lot smoother now. This is a good thing because last week the home health nurse sprained her ankle getting out of the car at my house. She stepped in a pothole in the street and twisted it very badly. I'm wondering if the home health put in a claim to the city for it and they decided to repair the street? I wonder this because this neighborhood certainly doesn't seem to be on their priority list.

Yumtum: I've been working on this recipe, and I think I've got it down. Pound flat and dredge chicken breasts in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and thyme. Saute mushrooms in butter. When mushrooms are done, remove them and saute chicken in butter, slowly, on medium heat. When chicken is browned, remove it and deglaze the pan. (I used cooking sherry.) Let it boil down until almost nothing is left, then add a little bit of chicken broth and sour cream. I used about five ounces sour cream for two pieces of breast. Return the chicken and mushrooms to the sauce and simmer, covered. Serve over rice.

Of course, the whole time I was cooking this, I had "help" in the kitchen. She was very glad to lick my plate after I ate.

[Comments] (6) Come and Take It Over My Dead Body: I'm quite upset about the Supreme Court's ruling in the Kelo case. What ever possessed them? I guess it helps that there were dissentions, among them Sandra Day O'Connor, whom I admire, but the majority rules.

So now Corporate America can just take our homes, whatever. What is next, are they going to take our children?

And there are no appeals from a Supreme Court judgment. I think the homeowners will have to resort to terroroism tactics.

I want to go on record as saying I have always disapproved of eminent domain. Every American can now end up being like the Native Americans who had their land stolen by the government.

Between this and other things, this country is drifting away from the United States I know.

[Comments] (1) Easy On The Knees: As my arms and legs waste thinner, my knees get bonier, and I have gotten to the point where gardening is uncomfortable. I went to the ceramic tile aisle of Home Depot and got a pair of strap-on knee pads like Mike James wears to do floors. I tried them out today and they make all the difference.

I ripped out the green beans, the turnips, and one of the cucumbers and put perlite and bat guano compost into the soil. Then I planted more okra, more green beans, some Italian flat beans, and more cucumbers.

I've decided that whatever I do in the yard, the vegetable garden has to come first because it's saving us money on our food.

I made cucumber/red onion fresh pickle like Grandma and Aunt Margaret used to make,and pesto with our fresh basil, and BLT sandwiches with our tomatoes. I also bought some mozzarella to make mozzarella/tomato salad. That will be for tomorrow.

The tomato plants that were labelled "Roma" have ROUND green tomatoes on them. Grrrrr.

The crabgrass and weeds are out of control in the flower beds.

Mucosa Mollusca: I planted flowers today in the yard. This was not as pleasant an activity as you might think because last night I put out snail poison, and this morning the front yard was carpeted with dead and dying snails. Dead or dying, either way they are crunchy and slimy.

[Comments] (6) Red Ants: The red ants have invaded. Rachel calls them fire ants, but I'm not so sure they are "official" fire ants like the ones Nancy has in Houston. They sure do burn though. I found that I was sitting with my foot in a nest of them as I weeded yesterday, and I've been miserable ever since. Lots of Benadryl usage in this household! Then today Rachel discovered them all over the driveway. I mean All. Over. I went out with the diaznon bag but couldn't find the driveway nest, so I just scattered it on the ants. There were two nests in a crack in the patio, however. And I found the nest that did me dirty yesterday.

Diaznon is illegal now, but when I went to Gardener's Supply last year to buy Roundup, it had just been made illegal and they were hurrying and selling their stock. I bought a 25 pound bag to do me forever, and it has come in very handy.

Babies!: Today I spent a couple of hours pulling Bermuda grass out from under one of the redwood trees, and I found that some of the heucheras have had children. There are some teeny baby plants mixed in with the aguja, and they are putting up teeny baby flower spikes! More power to them!

I also ripped out a bunch of cinquefoil. It winds itself over other plants. I wish I'd never planted it, and I planted two flats! I planted it because the lady at Mountain View Nursery in Lamont recommended it as a ground cover for the Comanche Point backyard. I suppose it is probably okay for an acre in Arvin, but here it takes over.

Ouch!: One of my students got jumped by a wannabee carjacker over the weekend. He's all swollen and has sidewalk burns all over his face. He has stab wounds in his chest right under his heart and on his hands. And he is walking with a terrible limp.... but he came to class!

I made him show me his stab wound in his side, but it was all covered up with one of those glueystitches thingies.

They gave him Darvocet and Tyelenol III at the ER, but he doesn't want to take them. He said his friend offered him $80 for the Darvocet. I told him not to DARE sell it. I think he is hanging with the wrong friends.

I don't blame him for not wanting to take the painkillers. I hate taking stuff that makes me feel loopy. I still have all but one of the pills they gave me after my hysterectomy--and I didn't take that one for the surgery. I took it when Gretel broke my finger last December and it hurt so badly I couldn't sleep.

Blue In The Face: Today, I talked about pronoun usage, sentence fragments, and don't put your semicolons in the wrong place. The class sat in a stupor with their eyes crossed. I don't blame them, but I don't know how to make it any more exciting. Some of them woke up whenever I would crack a joke. I think they are very tired, but on Thursday the term will be half over. I hope that means I will get half a paycheck pretty soon.

Pea Soup: Recently the tenth world championship for pea soup was held in Groningen, Netherlands, where pea soup is called "snert." The winner, Willem Cupido, refused to share his recipe with reporters. So I guess it's back to Andersen's for the rest of us.

[Comments] (5) Fresh and Ripe: I feel very sorry for the folks who live in places where food doesn't grow, and it has to be shipped in on trucks and put in the grocery store when it is already several days old. Eating our ripe tomatoes, I wonder why anyone would buy a tomato at the store.

Susanna sent me some lettuce seeds, and I planted them in a big pot in the laundry room. They germinated the next day. I hope the house stays cool enough that I can just pick lettuce leaves when I want them all summer. When winter comes, I'm going to try a French mesclun mix.

I bought a local watermelon today at Smart and Final. It is so ripe that by the time I got it home, it had split. I was going to wait to cut it up when Rachel comes back, but of course I had to do it today because it had split. So sweet and flavorful! Those little seedless melons are really handy, but even the best of them don't hold a candle to the big guys with the black seeds, however. You can't even find those in stores anymore, I guess maybe at the farmers' market.

I'm worried that the next generation of children will grow up without learning how to spit watermelon seeds.

I Make Misteaks: I have made several serious errors in planning and planting my front garden. I didn't know any better, I suppose, but now I'm living with the consequences.

*I didn't plow in enough organic matter before I planted. I just scattered the contents of a half dozen nursery bags on top, and I should have bought a truckload of compost and had the tractor guy till it in while he was here with the backhoe shaping the berms.

*I planted the redwood trees exactly the distance the Sunset book said to, to get a grove, and they are already too close together and beginning to overlap. Maybe the Sunset book thought they would be skinny, and they are FAT!

*I planted hundreds of dollars worth of rare varieties of daffodil (my favorite flower) without knowing whether they would come back in this climate. I thought they always spread and came back, but the fancier ones haven't.

*I covered the whole yard with different varieties of thyme the first year and it was a disaster. So I lost a whole year.

*I planted Mexican primrose and it is taking over everything.

*I planted cinquefoil (potentilla) and it is strangling my aguja.

*I didn't figure out the configuration of the sprinkler and drip system properly, and I have dry spots. I think I would have been better off to have it professionally installed.

*I bit off more than I can chew by making a huge flower garden--too big for one person to keep up.

What else? I'm sure I'll think of something as I spend this weekend trying to catch up in the garden.

[Comments] (2) 'Isdom Toof: Sumana is not going to be so pleased about her "textbook" impacted tooth when the doctor goes after her jaw with a jackhammer.

[Comments] (1) Give and Take: Sandra Day O'Connor has announced her retirement. She wants to spend more time with her family. I suppose it should come as no surprise after a quarter century of service, and I don't blame her a bit, but still I feel very sad. I've always admired Justice O'Connor, and counted on her to be a voice of reason. Now she will probably be replaced with some idealogical fanatic.

Where is Jefferson's America? Jefferson's America is going bye-bye.

In Memoriam: Roadside remembrance shrines are supposed to help mourners with the grieving process. I feel a need to go out and set up a Styrofoam cross and plastic flowers somewhere, in honor of Justice O'Connor's retirement. Do you suppose she would like a teddy bear? A Mylar balloon?

Further Thought on the Supreme Court: When I was in high school, we didn't want Reinquist to be approved for the Supreme Court. Everyone was protesting and writing letters to our Congresspeople. It was indeed a dark day, we thought, when he was appointed.

We had no idea how much worse it could possibly get.

Doggie Love: Does anyone love you as much as your dog does? I doubt it. The doggie's little heart swells with love. Can anyone match it? Jesus? Your mother? I don't think so.

[Comments] (3) A Salad of Memories: Yesterday I tried to make a macaroni salad like the one Aunt Margaret made for a family trip to Mesa Verde National Park. This was difficult because I don't have a recipe, I was a little girl at the time, and I don't really remember anything about the salad except that it was made from the little tube salad macaroni and I loved it.

By straining my memory-- or maybe my imagination?-- I seemed to remember, or imagine, little black and red flecks in the salad, so I put in pimento and black olives. And celery. I suspect Aunt Margaret put in chopped hardboiled eggs, but I never use them, in potato salad either, because I am l-a-z-y. I put in too much mayonnaise, and it was blah.

This morning I cut it with peas, which solved the too much mayonnaise problem, and I added a green onion. It's good now, but not the salad I remember.

I remember several things about the trip to Mesa Verde National Park. The main one is that Jonathan kept needing to go to the bathroom and kept whining for a "comfort station." I don't know if that is what the NPS called bathrooms back then, or if it is a Aunt Margaretism. We were all crammed into the back of the station wagon for the trip. People didn't worry about seatbelts for kids back in those days. And we went to the Sun Temple and ran around on the ruins. Many years later, Anne and Jonathan and I returned to Mesa Verde with our own children and let them run around on the Sun Temple. I have some wonderful pictures of that event.

[Comments] (3) At The Sign Of The Panting Puppy: This evening we took Gretel to the dog park. I had heard of dog parks, but I didn't know we had one! It's completely fenced in, and the dogs can be off the leash to run and play. Ain't we got fun? Gretel wore herself out. There were a lot of dogs there, all of them friendly, and the people were pretty nice too. I had been told there were bowls around for water, but there weren't, so G. had to drink the water I brought out of the bottle. She finally got the hang of it when the bottle was almost empty.

One lady asked how old she was, and when I said "four", she said, "She acts like she's six months."

Yeah, we noticed. We are definitely going to have to go to the dog park again.

Cooking With Mr. Dudley: Since Mr. Dudley came to live here at Christmas, I find I am using so much more pepper. I just filled him with peppercorns and already they are half gone. Part of that may be due to the ripening of our tomatoes. There is absolutely nothing more delicious than ripe sliced tomatoes with salt and cracked black pepper.

Sometimes I use Mr. Dudley too much. I made lemon pepper chicken that was way too peppery although it would have helped if I hadn't spilled half the lemon juice.

Mr. Dudley wanders. When you are cooking at the kitchen counter, he is on the table, and when you sit down to eat, there he is over there on the counter. The peregrine pepper grinder.

[Comments] (1) Fourth of July: We went to a ward pancake breakfast in the park this morning, and we even sang the Star Spangled Banner. I think that song should be replaced! It's not even American music. America the Beautiful is much more suitable. The breakfast was yummy and a lot of fun.

I did genealogy most of the day, but I also chopped up five pint-size Ziploc bags full of tomatoes and froze them.

When Gretel and I went walkies we saw the neighbors setting up their fireworks. This year, piccolo petes are illegal because last year a man was being a fool and got killed by one. They also outlawed those little "flowers" that twirl on the sidewalk shooting colored sparks. I really like those.

Rachel went to a party, but I guess what I'm going to do is pull some weeds and then go to bed. Back to work in the morning! It's been a nice weekend.

[Comments] (2) Rant: I wasted most of the day today because of the home health people. What a pain in the butt. The nurse called while I was teaching my class, exactly as I've told her not to so many times. I told her I'd be home by one. (I needed to get a haircut, so didn't come straight home.) Well at least I accomplished that.

I was REALLY needing a nap but couldn't take one until after the nurse's visit. I waited and waited, and she didn't come until three. I was too exhausted to do anything like pay bills or grade papers while waiting, so I waited.

Those home health people think that I don't have a life and that I should be curled in a corner waiting to die. They think their patients should just sit around home doing nothing. Well, I'm not willing to wilt down to a snivel and wait to die. I have places to go and things to do, and, even though almost all of their patients choose to be homebound, I wish they had some consideration for me and the battle I fight daily trying not to be.

I hope this isn't going to translate into a problem with the TPN delivery on Thursday because we have to have Gretel at the kennel by 1:00 p.m. and then we are outta here.

[Comments] (1) Asian Surprise!: I ran errands today, one of which was to the Asia Market to buy miso. I peeked into the Teriyaki Bowl that adjoins the market. You'll recall how disappointed I was when the Asia Market moved and became a Teriyaki Bowl instead of a granny behind the window stir frying to order. Well. It's not a REAL Teriyaki Bowl. It's the same Asia Market granny; they are just calling it Teriyaki Bowl. I don't know if the Teriyaki Bowl franchise people know about this; I think not. But for anyone who wants the fake stuff, there is a Yoshinama right across the street. The good food is at Asia Market.

So I went in and had cashew chicken and rice for $2.56. I had been going to go to Taco Bell and get a salad, but this was so much cheaper and so much more yummy.

[Comments] (1) Upsetness: I am so distressed at the bomb attacks in London that I am numb. How can they do such a thing?

[Comments] (1) I Left My Heart....: So here we are in San Francisco, eating much gourmet food cooked by Leonardr. Yesterday we went to the Bombay Creamery and ate ginger ice cream, and then to a weird stuff store and a pirate store. I wanted to buy a pirate t-shirt ("Bring your own citrus") but I didn't allow myself to do it because I really don't need more shirts.

The thing that appealed to me the most at the weird stuff store was the plaster dental casts. Although they had a pair of taxidermised mice dressed up like a bride and groom. I WANT them for the top of my wedding cake! I certainly would have rather had them than the tacky plastic bell thing I did have. (I didn't pick it out. I told the lady who baked the cake I didn't care what was on top, and she choose that.)

Then we went to lunch at Greens, which was delicious, and we made an appearance at the Friends of the Library used bookstore, where I was also very good and bought no books.

So far the only money I have spent has been for gas and a box of Ritz.

Today we are going to the Giants game with Leonardw and Jeff. I got us some very nice (and expensive!) tickets. After the game we will go back to Leonardw and Jeff's house to make a birthday dinner for Leonardr.

I hope we don't freeze at the game.

I Left My Heart....: So here we are in San Francisco, eating much gourmet food cooked by Leonardr. Yesterday we went to the Bombay Creamery and ate ginger ice cream, and then to a weird stuff store and a pirate store. I wanted to buy a pirate t-shirt ("Bring your own citrus") but I didn't allow myself to do it because I really don't need more shirts.

The thing that appealed to me the most at the weird stuff store was the plaster dental casts. Although they had a pair of taxidermised mice dressed up like a bride and groom. I WANT them for the top of my wedding cake! I certainly would have rather had them than the tacky plastic bell thing I did have. (I didn't pick it out. I told the lady who baked the cake I didn't care what was on top, and she choose that.) Can you imagine what it would do to the guests to see dead mice on the cake? heh heh heh.

Then we went to lunch at Greens, which was delicious, and we made an appearance at the Friends of the Library used bookstore, where I was also very good and bought no books.

So far the only money I have spent has been for gas and a box of Ritz.

Today we are going to the Giants game with Leonardw and Jeff. I got us some very nice (and expensive!) tickets. After the game we will go back to Leonardw and Jeff's house to make a birthday dinner for Leonardr.

I hope we don't freeze at the game.

Happy Birthday Leonard!: for Leonard's birthday, we went to a Giants game, and believe it or not, we won! We had really good seats watching-the-gamewise, but I think I prefer to be higher up so I can watch the boats too. I ate a Ben&Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream bar which made me sick. When I went to the bathroom, I stood in a line and gradually became aware that I was in a line of MEN! So I figured I'd better find another line to stand in. Oops.

After the game, we all went to Leonardw and Jeff's, and I crashed. Leonardw made the grilled shrimp recipe from this month's Sunset, and it was wonderful. I wish I had been able to eat more. It was a great day.

Leonardr had a cookbook of Greens recipes, so I am going to post the one for the wonderful filo thingy I had when we went there the other day.

Filo Turnovers Filled with Goat Cheese, Leeks, and Walnuts.

1 T. olive oil, 1 T. butter, 3 leeks, white parts only, chopped (About 3 cups) salt and pepper, 1/4 c. white wine, 1/4 c. walnut pieces, toasted and chopped 1/4 pound goat cheese (about 3/4 cup) 1 oz. Parmesan, grated, about 1/3 cup. 1 T. chopped flat leaf parsley 1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme, 8 sheets frozen filo dough, thawed overnight in refrigerator 4 T. melted butter.

Preheaat oven to 375. Heat the oil and butter in a saute pan and add the leeks, salt, and a pinch of pepper. Saute over med. heat until the leeks begin to wilt, about 3-4 min. Add the wine and summer until the pan is almost dry, about 2 min more. Transfer to a bowl. When cool, add the walnuts, cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

Lay a single sheet of filo out and place a seond sheet on top. Brush lightly with butter and cut lengthwise into 4 strips.

plaace a heaping tablespoon of filling at the end of each strip, and then fold over at a 45 degree angle to form a triangle. As you roll the turnovers, think of folding a flag. Roll them loosely so the filling will have room to expand during baking. Keep folding until you reach the end of the strip. Make the rest, brush with butter, place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes.

[Comments] (2) On Any Monday: I didn't get much done today; I'm kind of sick. I did go to work and then slept for three hours. Rachel and I made the leek and goat cheese turnovers, and they are really good. We also made blueberry scones. I haven't tried one yet because I'm afraid I'll throw it up. I graded papers and now I'm going to walk the dog and then go to bed early and be sick. I think that trips are hard on me these days.

[Comments] (3) Goat: When we were in the Bay Area, Leonard took us grocery shopping in Berkeley--the most wonderful store I've ever been in. I bought a whole lot of Laura Chenel goat cheese. I read about Laura Chenel in Sunset several years ago. She went to France for a year and lived with a goat farm family, learning how to make cheese, and when she came back to Sonoma she started this cheese business to support the local dairy goat farmers, who were struggling.

I think that's admirable. I'd never had her cheese before we ate at Greens, and it is just wonderful. So creamy and tangy, and far superior to the goat cheese one can obtain here. That's why I bought us a supply. I got a lot of the plain variety and some of the herbal coated kind to crumble on salads. Baaaaaaahhhhh!

[Comments] (5) From An Arizona Newspaper: While the ideologues work themselves into a lather over Sandra Day O’Connor’s successor, I keep thinking about her next decision. If she has any sense, it will be 9-0, write a cookbook. Her enchiladas are renowned, and her law clerks were just on NPR swooning over the other Southwestern food she always made for them. Given how grossly underrepresented our home state is in bookstores, she could cross a whole new frontier, complete with TV show: “Justice in the Kitchen.” Soon enough, you know that will be a woman’s place again anyway. ---Regina Schrambling

[Comments] (2) I Think I Have Gone to Hell: It's 107 degrees here today, and supposed to be all week. Too hot to do any gardening, and the weeds are taking over. Actually, very early mornings aren't so bad, but I have to go to work then. It was still an oven when I walked Gretel yesterday after sunset.

I have a pounding headache, and I have spent the afternoon hiding in the house. Tomorrow is the last day of class and the deadline for all the students to turn in late work for me. I think I'm going to have an intensive paper grading weekend. I was hoping to get more late work earlier this week, but they are putting it off until the last minute.

Monday is the departmental writing proficiency test, and Tuesday is grading them. This is bad because I can't take off work because of that, and Anne, Joseph, and Louise will be here visiting. Bleah. The teachers of the nighttime sections and the Delano sections just send their tests to be graded, la la la, and don't show up to help grade them, so the rest of us have to do double duty. I don't think that is fair at all. I don't think they should get away with it because we all have a contractual obligation to do four hours of test grading. However, they do pay us $25/hour after our four hour obligation is met. If I can survive until next Friday, it will be a triumph.

It's difficult to be sick and do summer school, but what would I do if I couldn't work? My life would be useless. I always thought that in retirement I could stay home and sew for grandchildren, but I'm losing my small motor coordination. And grandchildren are pretty far on the horizon anyhow.

Times will get better, and I *will* survive.

[Comments] (2) Whew!: The last day of class has been taught, and now all that is left is the testing (and the huge stack of papers I need to grade.) And I even got a paycheck. A big paycheck. Makes me wonder if they paid me for the full summer term, or will I get another check on August 15. Who can tell? They way they do payroll at that school, I certainly can't. I do know they gave us a raise, supposedly, but I don't know how much and when it took effect.

Because I had eaten all the goat cheese turnovers, I made more this afternoon. This may have been a tactical error because it really heated up the kitchen. The poor person who brought my TPN delivery came in all sweaty and the kitchen wasn't much cooler. I gave her a turnover to make it up to her.

I should grade papers, but I am exhausted. I already graded hundreds this morning before I came home. And... this class was a record buster in terms of how many students did the extra credit vocabulary flashcards. The flashcards are a mess and hard to grade, but I think I have convinced some of them that they need to improve their vocabulary to do well in English 1.

Some of the students have worked so hard, but if they fail the writing proficiency on Monday, it was in vain. I hate that part of my job, having to tell someone they failed.

[Comments] (1) A Corner of Hades: It was 110 degrees today. I was going to get up at 5:30 to pull weeds, but didn't make it out of bed. Toooooo tired. Hopefully the weeds will cook.

Rachel is getting all ready for the Harry Potter release party, and Gretel and I are going to go to bed early. It is simply too hot to do anything else.

[Comments] (1) Think About It: A field worker died yesterday from the heat, out near where we used to live. His death is a sobering reminder for the rest of us--the food we buy in air-conditioned stores and cook in our air-conditioned houses was grown and harvested by people who spend long hours in hard, hot sticky work, with gnats flying into their eyes and mouths. So the next time you chop into an onion, be grateful for your education and your American opportunities, which make it possible for you to eat the fruits and vegetables without having to grow them.

Even those of us who grow our own fruits and vegetables are staying inside this week. My apple tree has announced it's going to die. I hope that's not true and it's just heat stress. I didn't go out to look at the zucchini yesterday, and today I have a monster! The beets are looking a little peaked, but the new beans and okra I planted are doing fine, and we have lots of tomatoes. I'll be able to make melanzine for Anne and her kids when they get here. Plenty of basil, plenty of chard, and pretty little eggplants and yellow grape tomatoes. Yummers. But I don't plan to spend too long in the garden, and I don't plan to die!

*Moment of silence for the field workers*

[Comments] (2) Ain't We Got Fun!: I made crepes today, and they were good. Filling is leftover chicken, Swiss chard from the garden, onion, mushroom, and Monterrey jack cheese. I made a veloute sauce with capers to top the ones we ate today, and put a bunch in the refrigerator, plain, to serve for supper tomorrow night.

Some of my siblings don't like capers--I know Leonardw doesn't, but I don't know about Anne and her kids, so I played it safe. I can always make more sauce tomorrow if caper sauce is in demand.

Because I bought the groceries at Youngs, I didn't have a large choice of good cheese. Most of the cheese they sell is the cheap stuff, but they have started carrying Tillamook, so that is what I got. I don't know how I feel about buying a Monterrey jack made in Oregon; somehow it seems very wrong. None of this Real California Cheese, of which Monterrey jack is truly the native leader. I think even a Mexican jack would be more honest. On the other hand, Tillamook makes a good Cheddar, and we can't fault them for not being in England to make the Cheddar, can we? 'Tis a connundrum.

Other news from Young's: They were out of LaRosa bars, but they had the big watermelons with the seeds. I bought one since we will have a lot of people here to help eat it. It's out in the garage in Grandma Jessie's refrigerator, getting nice and cold.

I think I ought to make crepes more often. I forget how easy they are to make. (cleaning the stove after is another matter.) Rachel said we should make banana crepes, and we should, because the bunch of bananas we bought for 19 cents in Berkeley are getting riper by the minute. But I have the idea they will go tomorrow if I suggest banana splits.

I still need to do a few things to prepare for Anne's visit--sweep up dog hair, water plants, fold laundry, and find some summer sheets for the bed in the back room. Rachel did an incredible job of cleaning up in there, so I hope Joe and Louise sleep well.

[Comments] (2) Reading Railroad: Today my students took their writing proficiency. A cursory glance shows they did better than I expected. We shall see what the committee thinks.

While they were writing, I read Harry Potter. I knocked off a couple of hundred pages during the test. Then, when I got home, Anne wasn't here--she is still not here-- so after my nurse went away I went to bed and read more and had a nap. I have been feeling really rotten today, so I mostly read all day and I am on Chapter 25.

I am sad about not having a nice visit with Anne. I was counting on this afternoon because tomorrow who knows how long I will have to work.

I think the author is losing her touch. The book starts out v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y and just is not as interesting and full of fun detail as some of the former ones. I think I liked the first one best. Of course, I will finish it, and I hope it gets more exciting from here on out.

[Comments] (7) I'm Not As Shocked As You Think I Should Be: Today while I was proctoring the retakes, I read the rest of The Half Blood Prince. The little bit at the ending of the book was more like it. Too bad it took the author 500 pages to get there.

I think she was thinking ahead to the last volume and more worried about setting us up for what happens there than she was about writing a blockbuster with this one.

All in all, a disappointment despite the bang-up ending.

[Comments] (1) RIP James Doohan: I read that Scotty got beamed up early this morning. He was always my favorite.

[Comments] (2) London Copycatters: Oh no. Not again!

I was reading an op-ed piece yesterday that asked, "Where are all these moderate, peace-loving Muslims we keep hearing about?" They certainly haven't been speaking up in defense of a peaceable Islam.

[Comments] (1) Grrrrrr.: Warren Street station! That's MY tube stop. Okay, it's personal now!

O-oh Freedom Over Me: I met my class and told them goodbye and good luck, got my desk all ready for Fall, and helped grade the very last of the retakes. It's over, and I have survived. (barely.)

I feel that I really pulled the laboring oar this week on the exam grading, and I sure hope I get paid for all the extra hours.

Now I have a whole week to do nothing [but pull weeds] and then Leonard and I leave on our dinosaur trip.

I need to call the home health people and arrange for three weeks of TPN to be delivered so I can take it with me. It's certainly a hassle, but I suppose it's better than wasting away into nothing, which is the alternative. Also I need to make sure Garry is going to donate grapes for Pioneer Day. I will be gone for that, so I'm nervous about it. I did leave a call on Garry's voicemail, but he hasn't called me back.

Murder Most Foul: "I suppose I've done murder now," said Scarlett. "I'll think about it tomorrow."

Except I've kept thinking about it today. All day.

Lately we've had a plague of feral kittens, and we've tried and tried to sweet talk them and catch them so they could go in and be fixed before they have kittens themselves. No results; they won't let us near them.

I went out this morning to start some water running in the garden, and there was Skunk Kitty curled up in a terra cotta pot with a batch of babies. Boy, did she ever hiss at me! I thought I could quickly put something on top and trap them, but she was out like a lightning bolt. I took the kittens out and, with a heavy heart, took them to the pound.

There were four kittens, three or four days old, eyes not open yet. One of them had a really pretty little face. I feel just terrible about this.

The lady at the pound told me where I can buy or rent a trap, so maybe we can catch some cats now. Maybe, just maybe, we can catch Tuxedo Tom!

[Comments] (2) Weekend: We had a very nice family visit this weekend. We celebrated John's birthday and hung around the house. I cooked my other tri-tip and made guacamole especially for John. Leonard made a quiche, and Susie made a Boston cream pie for his birthday cake.

WHY do they call it Boston cream pie when it is a cake?

This evening Gretel and I went to the off-leash area. We went to Centennial Park, and nobody else was there. I was a little sad about this but she ran around smelling things and rolling in the grass, so I think she had a good time. She ventured much farther from me than she ever has before, but she kept coming back to see if I was ok.

I sat there and made myself smell the pine trees and veg out. I didn't take anything to do. I'm not good at sitting still and doing "nothing"--never have been. I'm a flop at meditation--and probably prayer too--because I just can't sit there wasting time. So I decided to try to train myself by chilling for an hour at the dog park every Sunday evening.

Morning will come soon, and with it the home health nurse, who can't just let it be while I go on vacation.

[Comments] (1) Whack!: I went out early this morning and ran the weedwhacker on all the crabgrass. It looks a lot better now but I am still going to have to dig it all up. The coreopsis has gotten huge and has needed deadheading all summer. I've tried to do some from time to time, but it certainly has gotten away from me. So I weedwhacked the top third off. I hope it doesn't kill it.

Now I need to go out and pull weeds until it gets dark, then to bed so I can repeat this process tomorrow.

I made a really good stir fry with yakisoba noodles, vegetables, and shrimp. So far, I haven't thrown it up. (big news.)

It's a pretty sad life when that is the big news, but there's absolutely nothing going on.

Later: I went out to pull my weeds. I had left the patches of the big thick grass because it's easy to pull out, but I discovered that Juan had weedwhacked it all. Including some flowers. I guess he saw I had been weedwhacking and he wanted to help out. Oy. Now my big thick easy to pull out grass is cut down to hard-to-grasp nubs. I pulled and dug out two wastebaskets full before it got dark.

P.S.: Juan also weedwhacked the boysenberries. I'm rather unhappy about that.

[Comments] (1) Better Than a Poke In The Eye: Yesterday, well, night before last, the pump to my IV went bonkers, so I was unhooked for about twenty hours before they brought me a new one. I still went out to work in the garden, but I got really weak and dizzy. Now today I am actually sick.

I found instructions for making sun-dried tomatoes in the oven--actually I suppose they could be called oven dried. You put the halved tomatoes on a cake rack on the oven rack at 200 for about 12 hours. That sounded like an oven disaster waiting to happen to me, so I put the cake rack on a cookie sheet on the oven rack. I used a bunch of yellow grape tomatoes since they are so prolific, and I left them overnight.

They have turned all hard and brown. I think they stayed in the oven too long.

[Comments] (2) Ready for Vacation: I've done all the traditional vacationy things--bought film, counted out pills, loaded the cooler, stopped the newspaper, packed. Gretel did her traditional thing too--she peed on my bed. When I got up this morning and started packing, she became more and more upset. Pacing and herding. I couldn't even water the patio pots in peace. She knows something is happening.

So I'm sitting here washing my down comforter and waiting for my pharmacy delivery. Then, it's vacation time, and Gretel goes to the puppy spa where she will have fun fun fun!

Updating from Montana: We are in Montana, but about to leave. It's pretty here. The Museum of the Rockies had more dinosaur bones than we've ever seen in one place before, and very few of them were casts. They had one display of triceratops skulls ranging in size from baby to grownup--a very impressive display. Other non-dinosaur museum displays weren't as good, but we only came for the dinosaurs anyhow.

They have a Living History homestead with a garden grown from heirloom seeds. The house was a mansion by homestead standards, but full of interesting stuff. There was an attic sewing/weaving/spinning room that had a yarn winder like I used to use when I worked for Aunt Jeuney.

Today, driving to Canada.

There and Back Again: I'm back from the vacation of a lifetime. Absolutely exhausted. Travelogue to follow.

[Comments] (4) Why Being a Teacher is So Hard: A teacher has an opportunity to get to know many students, and over the years the numbers add up. I always look in the paper to find news of former students.

Usually, the news is not good. They got stabbed in a gang fight or arrested for robbery. Very occasionally, the news will be something positive, but more often, it's an obituary.

Now I read about the funeral of Alexis Burch. She flipped her car off Alfred Harrell Highway and went sailing over the cliff to land on China Grade Loop. I can't even imagine how horrible.

Alexis was my student when she was in the seventh grade, and she was a lovely young lady--beautiful and intelligent and not a bit of trouble. May she rest in peace.

[Comments] (1) Uh-oh: The Lost and Found ads today listed a 5 bedroom double wide mobile home, missing from the truck stop in Lebec. Huh? How does one steal a 5 bedroom double wide mobile home? And did they steal the truck it was on too? There must have been two trucks, if it was a double wide. Weird.

[Comments] (2) Pizza: I made a pizza tonight-- garden style. From the garden, I used peppers, tomatoes, basil and oregano. I put the fresh herb leaves on whole--was a little worried about how they would cook up, but they were wonderful. I sliced the tomatoes and put them in a strainer to drain so they wouldn't make the pizza soggy. Worked fine. On my half I put a sliced onion, separated into rings. Only on my half because Rachel dislikes my beloved vegetable. I used both Cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Somehow I think they probably don't use Cheddar in Italy.

I would have put mushrooms and artichokes on, but didn't have any. Gosh, it turned out delicious!

[Comments] (2) Orange Chicken: I made orange chicken for lunch today; it was really good. I have discovered the best way to make chicken scaloppini is to butterfly the chicken breast through the thick part and then hit it with a skillet to flatten it. If I sharpen my chef's knife really well before making the cut it works fine.

I sauteed a couple of cloves of garlic, a shallot, and the leaves stripped from a handful of fresh thyme in butter, then turned down the heat and added the flour-dredged chicken.

Once the chicken was browned, I removed it and deglazed the pan with sherry, adding the grated rind of one orange. Leonard gave me a wonderful grater for my birthday, like a file, and it works like a charm for zesting lemons and oranges. Then I made a sauce of the pan drippings, chicken broth, and the juice of the orange with cornstarch.

It was really good, I tell you!

Recovering (Slowly): It's been a week since coming home from vacation, and I am still dragging. I spend a lot of time just sleeping. It's been too hot to work in the garden. I've been writing a travelogue of the trip, but it's slow going. I feel like everything in my life has slowed to a crawl.

Today I'm making some lentils, so I hope they will give me a shot in the arm.

[Comments] (7) Dinotopia!: Ever since Leonard was a very small boy, we have wanted to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada. This summer we finally made it happen. I wish we had gone twenty years earlier when I could still hike, but we had a wonderful time.

My trip began Thursday, July 28, 2005, with me waiting all morning for the pharmacy to deliver my TPN. They took their sweet time about it, but I couldn’t very well take off without it, so I waited until about 12:30 p.m. when they delivered it. I packed up the cooler and took off, dropping Gretel at American Dog Obedience on the way. She cried when I left her, but I know she has fun with the other dogs after I am gone.

I drove to San Francisco without incident. I did stop at Casa de Fruita for gas. I know it’s tacky, but I was running low. Casa de Fruita is a shameless tourist trap, which also features Casa de Wine, Casa de RV Park, Casa de Burger, etc. The gas station used to be Casa de Shell, but it’s a Chevron now, and, mercifully, Chevron has not bought into the Casa de Nonsense.

When I got to Leonard’s house, they were waiting dinner on me, and Lisa Schile was there. It was great to see her; I haven’t talked to her since she was in high school. She is a biologist now, doing wetlands research. Leonard make Steak Poivere, which was awesome.

After Lisa left, we all turned in and I slept very late the next morning.

Our plane didn’t leave until afternoon, which was a nice thing for the morning, but a bad thing for the evening. We checked the big cooler full of TPN, but it was overweight and we had to pay $25.00. Next time we’ll know to maybe bring two lighter coolers. The first thing that happened was I threw up on the only sweatshirt I had brought (my BYU one.) I cleaned it off as best I could in the airplane bathroom, but luckily I only had to wear it one other day –in Glacier, and on the trip home. Changing planes at the Denver airport was a mixed up nightmare. Something–I don’t know what–was going on and the airline personnel weren’t coping. We almost missed our flight to Bozeman, Montana, which they didn’t even announce. In a frantic rush, we got on the plane and reached Bozeman in the middle of the night.

The Bozeman airport is nice, but small, with a Western lodge kind of decor. Our two suitcases came down the conveyer, but the cooler didn’t. This was not a good sign. We sat and waited and waited, but it never came. Finally, Leonard went to the office to complain, and after he stood in a huge long line, he discovered it was there in the office because it was overweight. It would have helped if in San Francisco, they would have told us this would happen. So we rented our car and ventured out to seek a motel room.

No reservations. Bad idea. No vacancies anywhere. We finally found a room in a dive called the Rainbow (or something similar thereto.) They only had a smoking room, but I turned the fan on high and it wasn’t so bad. Really. I told myself it wasn’t. In the morning, we made tracks, and for the next night we checked into a place called Western Heritage, which had three AAA stars, even though their continental breakfast was sort of skimpy.

We ate breakfast in a friendly café, on of the three times we ate in a restaurant on this trip. It was the kind of café where the locals go to sit around and drink coffee and the waitress calls the customers “Sweetheart.” Neither my omelette nor my hash browns were brown enough, but I ate it anyway.

Bozeman is a nice little town with a quaint main street. We spent some time walking up and down the street poking into the little stores. There don’t appear to be any chain franchises anywhere near the downtown. We shopped at a food co-op to get ingredients to make sandwiches. Membership is not required at this food co-op, and they had absolutely everything. They even had toiletries in bulk–bring your own bottle. We bought some Burt’s Bees insect repellant (which didn’t have much of the desired effect) and some trail mix along with deli cuts and bread.

I had to keep reminding myself that Bozeman is nice right now, but what about when winter comes? Leonardw is making noise about buying a retirement home there, but then, he skis often in the winter.

The Museum of the Rockies was a fantastic place. I’ve never seen so many dinosaur bones in one place, and very few of them casts. I particularly enjoyed the triceratops display–a graduated set of all sizes of triceratops skulls, from baby to adult. There were some planetarium shows, but Leonard didn’t want to go to them. We also breezed through the basic science displays because they were pretty lame.

We gave a nod to the Montana History, of which there weren’t really many artifiacts, but some. The final prize goes to a stupendously executed oil painting entitled “The Death of John Bozeman.” A man on a horse is firing a rifle point blank at a standing man, all surrounded by glorious fall Montana landscape. Just the thing you’d want hanging in your living room.

Later, I read in some brochure or other that nobody really knows how John Bozeman died. His death (murder?) is a mystery that has never been solved.

Also at the Museum of the Rockies, there is a “living history” farm that shows a homestead. It’s not a typical homestead because the house is two story and has four bedrooms plus a sewing room, but hey. The garden is all planted in heirloom varieties, and there is a (Mandan? I forget which tribe) Indian garden. Only one living history volunteer was there, and she was demonstrating floor mopping, a procedure which appears to have changed not at all since 1850. This was too bad, as I was interested in watching the blacksmith.

The thing that spoiled the living history homestead for me was the plethora of modern accessories. In the root cellar, there were rows and rows of new Kerr mason jars with metal bands and lids. Not authentic. In the little boy’s bedroom, there were Pattern Blocks, with their bright modern paint in primary colors. Pattern Blocks can be bought at any educational supply store, which I suspect the pioneers did not do. I would have liked to have seen homemade wooden blocks colored with natural dyes. Even in NINETEEN-fifty, children didn’t have Pattern Blocks. And–in the sewing room a rag rug was being made of strips of cotton/polyester blend cloth. Some of the cloth featured mod Sixties patterns–stripes and polka dots and daisies and other non-pioneer types of designs.

Oh well. I’m sure they meant it all kindly.

Next morning, we took off for Canada. I was a little nervous about taking a rental car out of the country, myself, but it didn’t seem to present a problem. We stopped at a tiny museum that bragged “Dinosaur Nesting Ground”. When I say “tiny”, I mean it occupied part of a county administration building and had one poor lady docent who was bored to tears. It turned out that the Dinosaur Nesting Ground is somewhere you have to go on a bus to, with an established tour, so we just took a look around the museum. Lots of dinosaur eggs and dinosaur life cycle displays. Another room held historical artifacts. The poor docent kept trying to give us a tour of the rooms. I felt so badly for her. In the little bitty gift shop they had a nightshirt in fabric of dinosaur design that I fell in love with, but I didn’t buy it because it was not 100% cotton. I didn’t buy too much in the gift shop because I was nervous about stretching the Canadian money. Leonard’s ATM card wasn’t working in Canada, so we had to use mine. Lots of places in Canada take Mastercard but not Visa. I seem to remember having the same problem once in Mexico.

On we drove, through Lethbridge, which is an absolutely gorgeous town. We were in the countryside now–lush green pastures with happy cattle, wheat fields–oh, it was lovely. Nobody will ever convince ME that Canadian beef is dangerous. It has to be better to have the cattle roaming in pastures and eating green grass and taking care of their own babies, than our method of crowding the steers into a feedlot full of poopie.

Our objective was Brooks, a town so insignificant and nondescript that I have nothing to say about it. We spent two nights there. The first night I made the mistake of ordering a pizza. I ordered the combination, which is what I usually get, but when it arrived it had meat piled on it an inch and a half deep. Some kind of inferior ham, and what they call salami in Canada, we call bologna. Yuck. I should have ordered the veggie. We picked off what we could, but we ended up throwing most of the pizza out after it had spent a couple of days in the cooler. And there went all my Canadian money.

At some point, we visited a Canadian grocery store where we checked out the packaged deli meat. Horrors upon horrors. They had something called “macaroni and cheese loaf” (don’t ask) and some head cheese with big viscous patches of gelatinized whatever. When I see head cheese I always remember Grandma Della’s experience as a little girl. They always kept her inside when they butchered a pig, but she sneaked out and peeked into the cauldron. She could hear the teeth rattling around in the bottom as it boiled, and as she looked, an eyeball came bubbling up to the surface. (I have never eaten head cheese and don’t plan to start.) They also had plenty of that strange bologna that they call salami.

Next morning, we headed for Dinosaur Provincial Park. I was so excited to be going after many years of longing to go. The beautiful pastureland suddenly dropped off, and we found ourselves in the badlands–wonderful sculptured landscape. I loved it. Down, Down, Down the canyon into the dinosaur park. We had reservations on a ranger-led bus tour–there are many places in the Park they don’t let you go without a ranger. There are also plenty of self-guided trails, and we went on a few of them.

Bones and fossils are lying around all over, but of course visitors may not remove them. I found a clam all by myself. The ranger said the fossils are NOT planted anywhere, they are just a natural part of the park. The park has a simply wonderful campground, and I kept thinking what fun it would have been to come here when the kids were little. The rangers had lots of kid programs, and the park was all in all a high class place. We ate a picnic lunch there in spite of the bugs.

Back to our motel to crash, then the next morning to Drumheller. In Drumheller, they really take the dinosaur schtick seriously and exploit it to the maximum. Tourist traps and rock shops all over the place. Drumheller boasts the world’s tallest dinosaur statue–much, much bigger than those at Cabazon. Leonard paid $3 Canadian for the privilege of climbing to the top and staring out of his mouth. I stayed sitting on a bench and took a picture.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a marvel. So many dinosaurs! And other prehistoric flora and fauna too. They have a garden of plants of types that were alive when the dinosaurs roamed. None of this animatronic stuff–just bones and repros. I bought a T-shirt and Leonard bought a mug.

We paid a visit to a tourist trap called Reptile World, which appears to be somebody trying to make money off a reptile collecting hobby. They cheated and had some amphibians as well–frogs and toads. I like seeing snakes and lizards, so I guess the price of admission was worth it. They didn’t have any horny toads though. Horned toads are my favorite.

We ate one of the two dinners we ate in restaurants on this trip. The Chinese place we had wanted was closed, so we went to another one, which was, if not terrible, at least mediocre. I think people should beware of Chinese restaurants that also sell American food. Plus, smoking was allowed in the front of the restaurant (we sat in the back.) Yuck. Most of the rest of the trip we made do with sandwiches that we made from grocery store ingredients and miso soup made in the motel room coffeepot. And motel continental breakfasts.

We visited a fossil shop. I bought a postcard or something, and they gave me a scrap of dinosaur bone. Also, Drumheller has a grocery co-op, so we got supplies there, including the most wonderful pumpernickel I ever tasted. I had it with Havarti cheese one morning for breakfast, and it was so good! We headed out onto the eternal Canadian roads.

The next stop was Vulcan, a Star-Trek themed tourist trap. They had plenty of cardboard standups to take pictures with. I took pictures of Leonard with Quark, and he took one of me with L’hursa and B’etor. Unfortunately the flash reflected in the cardboard, so the pictures aren’t that great. This was in the Chamber of Commerce building, which is shaped like a space ship. All in all, tacky and lame, but great fun, and a wonderful mural of space in the bathroom.

Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. How to describe this? Besides it being a real hike. This is the place where the Indians chased the buffalo off the cliff, and then butchered them for winter. Blackfeet, I think. At the visitor’s center, they had Indian dancing, and also a mascot in a buffalo suit who break-danced. Whoo. The center cafeteria sold buffalo stew, but we passed. The little museum was more interesting than the jump itself. This was a driving day, and we made it all the way to Cardston, where we drove past the temple and then collapsed into bed in our motel. Our motel room didn’t feature a coffee pot, so no miso soup. We thought kind thoughts of the Matkins but didn’t call; we were too exhausted.

Next morning, up and at ‘em, to Glacier National Park. National parks are apparently charging $20 to get in now, so I was glad I had my Golden Access Pass. Glacier was just lovely. The brochure said there were a thousand varieties of wildflower, and they appeared to be all blooming when we were there. A lively discussion was held in the car about whether glaciers still existed in the park. I insisted that the patches of white on the mountains were glaciers; Leonard thought they were snow. I proved him wrong by turning to the AAA book, that arbiter of all automobile arguments, which says there are fifty glaciers in the park. The scenery was just spectacular.

I was really starting to feel the altitude. I got winded just getting out of the car. For someone who grew up at 9,000 feet, I’ve sure lost lung capacity. This was the day, I think, that I discovered I was short two days worth of TPN. This did not help my exhaustion, because I decided to ration it, and turn the IV pump off when sitting in the car, back on when moving around. But I still felt rotten the rest of the trip.

Overnight was Butte, Montana, after a long drive. Butte is an old mining town that has kept some of the boomtown appearance. I kept thinking of my father. We visited a used bookstore in downtown Butte, but I thought they wanted too much for their books. It was the nicest, biggest used bookstore I’d ever been in.

We ate dinner at an expensive restaurant recommended by the AAA book. Leonard had Beef Wellington, which looked awfully good. I had the shrimp scampi, which arrived strangely covered in cream sauce. It was pretty rich and fancy and yucky. I cleaned the shrimp off the best I could before eating them, and they were pretty scarce on the garlic. It’s not scampi without garlic, now is it? In the restaurant with us was the band, Hotel California. They were playing at the fairgrounds that night, and if I hadn’t been so tired, I’d have wanted to go hear them. They seemed like a nice bunch of fellows. Their long white limo was parked out front.

To the motel to sleep, and the next day, Yellowstone! The scenery is so spectacular. Coming in, we saw an elk and a moose. The big highlight of today was all the thermal spots. We loved seeing the steam come out of the ground. My favorite feature was the mud pots–a huge pool of boiling mud. Hiking out to them, I wished I had my walker, however.

At Old Faithful, I sat on the bench like an old lady while Leonard hiked the boardwalk. He returned just in time to see it erupt. After that, we moseyed on down the road, seeing landscape and herds of buffalo, and ending up in Cody, Wyoming.

Cody is a wretched place. There is nothing to do there but to worship Buffalo Bill. The place I thought I had made us a reservation had never heard of us. We went through the history on my cell phone and found the number I had dialed was another motel, much more decrepit, but cheaper, and they had heard of us, so we stayed there for an uneventful night. The next morning we went to Wal-Mart, it being the only store we could find, and bought picnic stuff.. I hope the fact that we shopped at two co-ops this trip cancels out the humiliation of having to shop at Wal-Mart.

We went back into Yellowstone through the north entrance over the Chief Joseph Highway, which passes where the Nez Perce fought off the US Army. The historical markers were interesting to read, and it was heartening to learn that the public and the press were thoroughly against the Army and in favor of the Nez Perce. The road itself passed through some of the most spectacular scenery of this trip.

This was a Saturday, and Yellowstone was far more crowded than it had been the day before. We saw more buffalo herds, a petrified redwood tree, and the obsidian cliff, which was used by the Native Americans to make arrowheads. We soaked up scenery, had our little picnic lunch, hit the tourist trap store in Mammoth Hot Springs, and then headed off to Bozeman.

Bedtime came early because we had to get up at 4 am. to turn in our rental car and catch our flight. Flight home was uneventful but late. I took a long nap at Leonard’s house, and then in the evening we went over to Leonardw and Jeff’s to celebrate Jeff’s birthday.

In the morning I dropped Leonard off at work and then drove home without incident. I did stop at the farmer’s market in Gilroy where I usually stop because I like the lady, but she was pretty skimpy on the fresh stuff this time, having been bought out over the weekend. She didn’t have any of the cherries that were advertised on frantic signs all along the road, so I had to stop somewhere else to get them. I picked up Gretel, and lo and behold, eventually we were home!

[Comments] (8) Provident Living: Like a good little homesteader, I harvested in the garden today. I picked beets, Swiss chard, tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs. Then I made packets for the freezer that hold the ingredients for a batch of minestrone and I pickled the beets. It was a lot of work.

This was after I pulled a lot of weeds. I don't know what I will do the rest of the week--the city didn't empty my green waste bin on Monday.

It's A LOT of work to be a homesteader.

[Comments] (1) Quickie Trip: Gretel and I are back from a trip to Costa Mesa to visit Susie and John. They have a lovely apartment set in lushly landscaped grounds, and they appear to be doing just great.

I drove all the way there on the 405, my least favorite freeway, because I thought about staying on the 5 and then I thought, "Do I really want to be driving through The Stack" at 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon?" The answer to that question was No, I Really Do Not. Really.

Gretel behaved horribly at John and Susie's. She peed on the carpet, and wouldn't go to the bathroom outside. John took her for a nice long walk, and when they came back in she made eye contact with him and peed AGAIN, right in front of him. (I think this answers the question of whether she is going to Utah with me in a couple of weeks!) Then she would'nt settle down and kept getting up all night. This trip disabused me of any notion that I could have a doggie who can go on trips with me and keep me company. She's just too high strung.

In the morning while John went to work, Susie and I took Gretel to the Bark Park where she had a good time. Then we went to lunch at MickeyD's. I tried the new grilled classic chicken sandwich. It had a huge slather of mayonnaise on it, but fortunatly most of it was on the lettuce leaf which I had to remove anyhow because it was a type of lettuce I can't eat anymore. It needed a little something else. Some kind of other sauce on the chicken, or something. If I ever order one again I'm going to ask for one of those little tubs of bbq sauce to put on it.

Susie and Gretel each had a double cheeseburger, so don't say that dog isn't spoiled. We took at nap at the apartment and then drove home. I am exhausted, and we didn't really do anything!

Woof!: Gretel and I are back from the dog park. She ran herself to exhaustion. I'm hoping to get a good night's rest tonight because school starts in the morning.

Brother Bean asked me to talk in church next week. My subject is a big one--the message and ministry of Jesus Christ. Whew.

I made another pizza today but it's not as good. I used frozen tomatoes, and I put tomato paste. The tomato paste was kind of a bad idea I guess.

Oh boy do I have a lot of frozen tomatoes.

[Comments] (3) First Day of School: I'm back from the first day of school. How will I ever learn everyone's name? Both my classes were standing room only, with enough people on the waiting list to populate another section, and very few no-shows. There are a lot of kids going to go away disappointed tomorrow when the registration system rolls itself over. But I can't teach all of them!

Another thing that happened is a girl who finished off her incomplete over the summer came to tell me that the incomplete was still on her record and the registration computer had bumped her out of her English 1 class because of it. I took the grade change form over to the records office myself this summer, and I guess I handed it to an idiot because it never got changed.

What they have done basically is ruin her life. Even after we get the incomplete business straightened out, she still won't be able to get into a class because the place she had is taken now by a waitlist person and there are no more open places in classes. Incompetence, grrrr.

In other news, scuttlebutt has found out that the administration made a mistake in reporting to Sacramento the last four years, which has resulted in four years of budget shortfalls for us. The school is teaching the students but not getting paid for it because of some dingdong in the office.

This is why I always vote no when they run a bond issue on the ballot. These fools don't know how to run a college or how to handle money.

[Comments] (2) Cluck!: I read in the paper today about chicken who got a $50 ticket for walking in the road. Her owner is fighting it, of course, and has already been to court twice.

Good old Kern County Sherrif. They don't have any murderers or thieves they need to find, do they? So they have to write tickets for chickens.

Anyone wonder why the government has a budget shortfall?

[Comments] (2) How Many Times Do I Have To Say I'm Sorry?: Today I had to send a dozen waitlisted people packing. There is simply not enough room for them in the class. There is nowhere for them to sit, and their poor decrepit teacher can't grade that many essays. They begged. They cried. It was just awful. One of the boys tried to bribe me, starting with $200, and working up to a thousand. I probably pointed out to him ten times that even if I were to let him in, there are seven people ahead of him on the waitlist. Absolutely ghastly. There is one guy I couldn't get rid of. He would NOT leave, saying he prefers to stay and see if someone drops. Nobody is going to drop, and even if they do, I want a smaller class.

I didn't send as many off as I wish I would because I added two places to my class last night and the system let seven people in!!!! I have 33 people in the class and 31 chairs in the room.

I'm going to have to go through this again tomorrow with my other class.

[Comments] (3) Hassledyhassle: I am still battling the records office about that incomplete they never fixed. They are trying to put the blame on me, the turkeys. I KNOW I turned in a change of incomplete form this summer.

I sent an email to the girl's English 1 teacher begging her to reinstate her into the class, and I filed a new change of grade form with the records office. I don't feel good about this because the person who took the card from me this time is the same person who lost the card last summer.

Also, I almost got beat up when I tried to send all the excess waitlist people away from my class. I've never seen anyone get to mad before. I think she doesn't have a right to get mad because if she had registered on time, she would have been on the roll, not the waitlist. She was a big sarcastic lady who got violent when I told her I couldn't let her into the class. Fortunately, she eventually stomped out. Now, I have a whole bunch of papers to grade. Back to the old routine!

OCD/AR: Finally, I'm through with the home health care people for a few days. Sigh. When I went to Dr. Amin today, his nurse told me that four different people called her to tell her I would be on vacation last month. (Dr.'s office already knew this lovely bit of news.) I replied that I think you have to be OCD to work at the home health place.

They got all excited at the dr.'s office because I had a temperature of 102. I came home and I'm drinking ice water, so its down some now. No wonder I felt lousy. If I'm still running a fever tomorrow, I have to go back to the doctor. *takes temperature*

It's still elevated.

I wish I didn't have to live my life around doctors, nurses, IVs and pills.

[Comments] (3) Sky Pilot: Temp is still high. I had some of my homemade chicken broth, which I doctored up with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce so it thinks its a Pho. Made my head sweat; hopefully the fever will sweat out.

If I'm still feverish tomorrow I have to go back to the doctor, which I am Not Interested in doing. I have a college kid coming to pull weeds in the morning.

Some Better: I think I'm some better today. My temp is down to "normal" range, but not near the subnormal I usually am. Yet. My college kid got here at 7:30 and we pulled weeds until it got too hot at 10:00. Xochitl watched him instead of watching me. I guess she felt the need to see what the haps were.

I am unable to mend the water crock, so I need to call Arrowhead and tell them to bring me one. I was hoping to mend it so when Alex was here he could install a new bottle. Maybe I can get the Arrowhead guy to put it together. Does anyone want a crock with sunflowers on it? My thinking is a plant would look nice in it. I called them, but the recording said at least seven minutes wait time, so I gave up. I'm going to try again now.

[Comments] (3) Procrastination--It's True!: I really did a lot today, but the main thing I did was fuss and worry about the talk I have to give in Sacrament Meeting tomorrow. Bleah. So I pulled weeds, went to the store, washed rags and towels, made rigatoni, deep pitted a tri-tip and read email and played every Scrabble turn I could.

Finally, I have my talk prepared. Now I am procrastinating grading a file folder full of diagnostic writing samples that I don't want to do. Also I should go to Ernestine Boonstoppel's because it's the end of the month. I made a dish of rigatoni to take to her, but I don't seem to have the energy to put Gretel out and go over there and listen to her aches and pains. I don't mind really, and I like visiting her, but I'm out of energy.

Pooh on the writing diagnostics, which I have put off since Wednesday.

[Comments] (2) Linguistics: Today I asked Gretel if she would like some sushi and Xochitl thought I was talking to her and came running. Funny, the similarities in sound between the Japanese language and the Aztec language.

[Comments] (7) Youtah: I am back from my trip to Utah for Shelley's wedding. It seems like I've been gone forever, since I did the drive in two days both ways. I didn't think I could make it alone in one day, and I was probably right.

Last Tuesday I taught my class, and then came home to a frantic morning. I packed (forgetting several things) and took Gretel to the kennel. Then I took some of the peaches and nectarines Garry brought me to take to Utah to the Langleys and to Ernestine, so that I could pretend to have done my visiting teaching. After that, I drove without incident to Mesquite.

I always stay at the Casablanca because it's beautiful and they seem to have a powerful a/c system because the casino isn't smoky. I did not put in any nickel. For dinner, I was planning on having the prime rib dinner, but when I got to the coffee shop, I was tempted by the steak and lobster. I figured I could have prime rib for breakfast, but it turns out it's only available after 3 p.m. I didn't even put any money in #26 in Keno, and while I was eating, #26 won.

The coffee shop is called The Purple Fez, and I can't remember any characters in Casablanca who wore a fez. And of course, the movie is in black and white, so how would we know it's purple?

I am a girl born and raised in the West, and I have never gotten a speeding ticket in Nevada, despite the fact that I've been galloping across its deserts all my life. My mother never got one either that I recall. I don't even know what a Nevada highway patrol looks like--is there such a thing? But once you cross that line into Utah, I-15 is absolutely crawling with cops. A new development is officers from all the little local towns are coming out to the freeway to catch people speeding.

What I'm saying is I got a ticket. I almost got two, but I argued with the officer, and I still think I am right and he is wrong, but he gave me a warning for not having my original registration card. Now, we all know that everyone, from the AAA to the DMV says don't carry your original in the car, but bring a copy. This is so it won't get stolen. UHP officer sez that's not good enough in Utah--he needed the original. I said how can a person possibly know the arcane rules of every podunk state they drive through. Bleah. I think he only ticketed me because of being from California. I wasn't going any faster than anyone else.

I got to Jonathan's, and they put me up in the girls' old room which is now full of scrapbooking stuff. I took the family out to dinner at Old Spaghetti factory.

The next day was the wedding. The nectarines were looking ripe, so that's what I had for breakfast. We made it to the Salt Lake temple in plenty of time. That's a good thing because I was worried about it. Shelley was the most beautiful bride. She is a sweet girl, too, which is unusual because so often beautiful women are conceited.

I don't like my new nephew. He is rude and abrupt and (I hear) mean to Shelley. His family is unfriendly too. They were real poopsquishers to spend a day with. We had lunch at the Macaroni Grill after the wedding. Uncle Justin came, and they didn't even speak to us. I couldn't engage them very much at the reception either.

The reception was incredible. About fifteen kinds of desserts, plus the wedding cake. There were three fountains of chocolate--dark, white, and butterscotch, with all the stuff to dip in them. I'd hate to be the person who has to clean out those chocolate fountains. Luckily there was fruit to dip, so I had some plain strawberries. I couldn't face any of the cakes or the fondue, even though the wedding cake was lemon poppyseed. (I tasted a crumb of it the next day and it was yum).

Sandi had made 300 little favor bags with a See's mint chocolate truffle in each, but hardly anyone took one. I think they were too full of dessert. Sandi was quite disappointed that her work was wasted, but we took the candy to the family reunion the next evening, and it went, WHOOSH!

There was no cleanup, as it was included in the price of the reception place, so after we saw the bride and groom off with sparklers, we went to a blessed night's rest.

The next morning, Anne and I drove up to visit Robert and Sandi in their new house in Morgan. It's exceptionally beautiful up there, but I'll bet it's buried in the snow in the winter. Sandi was exhausted, and I can see why, after that wedding and reception. Her mother, Marilyn, and her sister, Jeannette were still there and we sat around and talked. I went to high school with Jeannette, but I didn't know her well. I also went on a double date with her after college. It was her first date with the man who is her husband now, and my last date with the guy I was with.

Anne spent most of the time helping Robert install a doggie door into the wall of the house. I am very proud of him because he didn't know how, didn't have the right tools, and I honestly thought he wouldn't be able to do it and told him he should ask Jonathan, but he did it! It took all day but he did it, and I'm so thrilled for him!

In the evening we went to the Call family reunion. This is an annual reunion of my great-grandfather's family. All the old uncles are dead now, and there are only three aunts left. Aunt Ruth is in a wheelchair now, and seems to be not quite sure what is going on. Aunt Lula is getting forgetful. I spent a long time trying to convince her that I do TOO write to her, but I guess she forgets when she gets a letter. Marcelle is still feisty, and I was thrilled to hear her tell me that I have her mother's (my great-grandmother's) eyes.

Cousin Roger had made a slideshow of family pictures, with music. Excellent. He had put an In Memoriam section at the end, and as I was watching and looking at the faces of those who had gone before, the thought struck me that these are the people who will greet me when I reach the other side. I was a blubbering mess. I didn't know the great grandparents, of course, but I just loved all the great aunts and uncles. There were eleven of them, including my grandpa...and now only three left living. Too bad I can't keep closer track of the cousins.

My mother's picture should have been in that video, but her children are flakes. I guess I should email Roger some pictures.

We went back to Jonathan's to go to bed, but David Oman came over and we started talking about Melea's suicide. It's an awful thing for everyone concerned, and David will be processing it the rest of his life, I'm sure. I had to give up and go to bed, but Anne, Jonathan, and Sharon stayed up and listened. We had a nice family prayer before I went upstairs, offered by Uncle Dorse.

I was going to go to the family reunion breakfast and then leave on Saturday, but meanwhile Grandpa Walch died, so I hung around back in Provo for the funeral. All Anne's kids would be coming in, and I wanted the chance to see my nieces and nephews and little grandniece and grandnephews. Besides that, I liked Grandpa Joe. I had a chance to spoil Atticus and Samuel by giving them quarters to put in the trash vending machine.

The funeral was very, very nice. Absolutely uplifting. I think Berg Mortuary does a better job than any other funeral home I've seen. All they did for my parents and Roy, of course, was pick them up at the airport, but now on Grandpa Joe's funeral and Aunt Jeuney's, I see how smoothly things run when they do the whole thing. (I'm still mad at Hillcrest because of the mess they made of Roy's funeral, but that's a story for another time.)

All the Scoll family was there too, and how often does one see them all in one place nowadays? I'm going to have to send Gayla a note thanking her for letting me barge in on her funeral.

I skipped the cemetary. I knew the military honors would be done by the poor old veterans who did Aunt Jeuney's (and Grandpa Walch looks better lying in his coffin than those guys do.) It breaks my heart to see them, and I'll blog about military honors later. But I left, drove to St. George, spent the night, and then drove home. I stopped at the Stateline, still hoping for a prime rib dinner, but still that 3 p.m. rule there. I had a chef salad, the second worst I've ever had in my life (the first worst being at the Bun Boy in Baker.) Its only redeeming quality was it had a hardboiled egg, which I ate, along with a few bites of ham. The rest of it wasn't edible. The lettuce was turning browny-pink and watery and the cheese had dry spots. The olives were all dried out too. Anyhow, on to home.

One thing that happened on this trip was it actually did cost $50 to fill my gas tank. I discovered that if I fill up when the car is only at a half, I can avoid the sticker shock!

[Comments] (4) Stupid Me: Oh, I know. I shouldn't have. But I did, and now I have Consequences.

I was just running really quickly to Albertson's, and I didn't have my seat belt on. I also was going too fast and not really paying attention. I hit a speed bump and practically went into orbit. Because of no seat belt, I got bounced around pretty badly. Creamed my head against the roof of the car; I'm sure I have a concussion.

I think it's getting a little better, but wow it's been a painful lesson to learn. My neck and shoulders just ache--back is doing better. It's so painful, I'm nauseated.

I have some Tylenol with coedine left over from when I was making the birdhouse using a rusty old razor blade instead of the x-acto knife and I cut off a big hunk of my finger. (Do we see a pattern here?) It's seven years old and probably losing potency but I'm taking it anyhow. I also have some Darvocet from my hysterectomy. I didn't take any of them then, and I'm not taking any now. I don't know how badly I would have to be hurting to get me to take any drugs in the Dar- family.

This is quite inconvenient. I need to rip out the vegetable garden, and I can hardly move. This is a lesson in Always Wear Your Seatbelt. Always.

[Comments] (2) Aftermath: I'm never going anywhere again! I have a stack of papers to grade six inches thick. Bleah. I've done almost nothing else all day.

[Comments] (8) Where Are the Hardy Boys When I Need Them?: Somebody abandoned a murder weapon in my front yard. I made a mistake and picked it up, so now it has my fingerprints on it. Probably I should have left is lying there and called the police.

It's a heavy length of lead pipe, about eighteen inches long. Leonard accuses Colonel Mustard.

[Comments] (1) It's Greek to Me: Today Susie and I visited Grandma, and then we stopped by the food festival at the Greek Orthodox church. We spent quite a bit of money, but it goes to Katrina victims. We bought dolmadas, gyros, and baklava. I had had dolmadas before. When I was a little girl, Aunt Margaret made some and I loved them. I didn't like these as well. Susie wouldn't eat the one I bought for her, having been overexposed in Romania, so Gretel had it. The gyros were wonderful. I hope it all stays down. So far today I've lost every single thing I've eaten, including harmless chamomile tea.

[Comments] (1) Sick.: Sick. Sick. Sick. Actually, I felt it coming on all weekend. So today I had to call in sick to work, which is a pity because they dock your pay. I slept until 3:30 p.m. with cats to comfort me. I'm going to make myself go to work tomorrow.

[Comments] (3) You Tell Me Who is the Smart One!: Think about this. WHO lies around the house all day, and WHO goes struggling off to work to earn money to buy cat food? Then you will know who is at the top of the food chain and who rules the world.

[Comments] (1) Professor Whitney Should Save Her Breath:: So I sat with a student and went over her rough draft with her, word by word. It was almost solid run-on sentences among other problems. Then she turned in a final draft and she had fixed NONE of the things we marked. Final draft was exactly the same as the rough draft.

I don't know why I bother, sometimes.

The Flowers That Bloom In The Spring: I got more than my share of bulb catalogs in the mail this year. Whenever I get a catalog, I want every flower in it. Today, I realized that the discout offers for advance order were expiring--one of them today! So I spent the afternoon going through possibilites, making a big chart to compare prices, and ordering. I have spent way too much money, and I'll really be busy when my boxes arrive. For example, I ordered 200 more crocus bulbs to plant around the stepping stones. I loved what I did last fall so much that I want to do the whole thing.

Anyhow, the garden should look spectacular. I got some different flowers to try.

[Comments] (1) Hate: I think, along with Benjamin Franklin, that we need to watch the words we use. If not because "the word leads to the deed", then because we should be kind and gentle with those around us.

The textbook chapter we are going to do next week deals with language and how it affects others, and asks the question, if language and word meaning has changed, has it changed enough that it won't hurt someone's feelings?

I hear people--supposedly nice people-- using the word "hate" all the time. "I hate Hillary Clinton." "I hate Madonna." You can't hate Madonna. You don't even know Madonna. I think it's all right to say "I prefer other types of music", or "I am appalled by what I read about the behavior of the stars" (and who knows how much of that is even true?) But to unleash hatred is to fill your own soul with it.

I know people who say "I hate beets." That's a lot of vitriol to pour onto one poor helpless little vegetable.

[Comments] (3) Happy Birthday!: Today is my baby's birthday! Susie was always a feisty one. I've heard it's very unusual for a baby to cry while still inside, but Susie did. She screamed. I heard the crying and looked around--no baby in sight. She was born screaming.

The bad part is she aspirated amnionic fluid and had to be in the ICU.

Gretel and I went to the dog park this afternoon. There weren't as many dogs as later in the evening, but Gretel still had a wonderful time. When she gets tired, she develops a limp. I'm quite afraid that she is going to have a hip problem.

Ditch Digging: Horray! Juan is out there in the back yard digging a ditch! We may get this electrical problem solved soon! Gretel though the goings-on were interesting at first, but then she got bored.

I wish I felt better. Used to be, I had an occasional lousy, feverish day, but now it's more and more often.

[Comments] (1) Weather Jinx: Yesterday, Herb Benham wrote in his column extolling the glories of fall, now that fall is here. I do have to admit, fall here is wonderful. Then he mentioned that the heat will probably come back to slap him for writing that column.

Slap! We had thunder and lightning--babblety-BOOM!-- but precious little rain, and this was followed by a scorching hot wind that blew and blew and heated everything up. A pox on Herb Benham!

[Comments] (1) Hospital: Grandma is in the hospital. She collapsed at her doctor's appointment on Tuesday. They put a pacemaker in, and everyone is hoping it will help and that she will have more energy. Poor thing is all swollen and tubed.

Rachel and I went to see her today and took a pink African violet. She was talking like they would send her home tomorrow, but I really doubt it. She doesn't look good enough to go home.

She's in a double room with this miserable lady who blasts the TV all the time and has a whole passel of very noisy relatives. I don't blame her for wanting to go home.

[Comments] (1) Long Day:: Yesterday Rachel and I went to CLS to rent a Havahart trap, and we figured out how to bait and set it. The results were good; this morning the gray tabby which has been causing so much trouble around out house was in it.

I felt really terrible about it, but I took him to the pound. At the pound, a crew of vet tech students from the ROP were walking dogs, so I had to stand in line and listen to a lecture from a high school kid about how bad I was to bring the cat it. I should take it to the vet and then let it live at my house, wild. The high school girl was so convinced she was right and I was wrong. I remember when I used to be sure of myself like that.

The horrible part of this journey was I was in line with a lady who had brought in a tame kitty. He had come into her house, so she picked him up and brought him to the pound, after he had trustingly put his tummy up for her to rub him. I said I thought he must be someone's pet kitty and she said she didn't care. "He came in my house, so he is fair game." I sure hope his owners come looking for him before his three days are up.

I bought pea and lettuce seeds and three bags of bat guano stuff at White Forest Nursery. I picked all the remaining peppers and tomatoes, and made some fajitas, using London broil that was on sale at Young's. I cooked the fajaitas on the George Foreman grill, and it worked out just great.

After lunch, I ripped out the tomato plants, the Swiss chard, and the peppers. I left the beets because I didn't want to deal with them today, and I left the basil too. I'm going to try freezing basil, but right now I'm too tired.

We have the cat trap set out in front to try to catch Tuxedo Tom. I think TT isn't feeling well because he's been sleeping in the bushes the last three days. I certainly don't want him to die in my garden, however.

[Comments] (1) Midnight Knight to the Rescue: We caught Tuxedo Tom in our trap and retired, confident in the prospect of a trip to the pound this morning. But somebody let him out of the trap in the night. Gretel heard them, I guess, and went out there and barked, but I didn't put two and two together until Rachel went out this morning and the trap was empty.

I think whoever let him loose should have him spraying pee in their house and yard. We've missed our chance now. You can be sure Tuxedo Tom won't go in that trap twice! He didn't get so big and mean by being a dummy.

[Comments] (3) CSMP: Today at church was our Primary Program. Even the littlest ones had their talks memorized. It was amazing.

The Sunbeams this year are a class of all boys, and they were very, very, very naughty. Right in front, too. A presidency member leaned over and I guess reprimanded them, and one boy said, in a voice so loud and clear everyone in the back could hear, "He started it!" They were shoving each other and making faces. You'd think Sunbeams would be too little to be so disruptive, but you would think wrong.

Everyone enjoyed it tremendously.

They had a couple of new songs, which was nice. I am soooo glad I am not in charge of this program anymore!

[Comments] (5) The Empty Trap: We didn't catch anyone last night, or today. I don't know if it is because the cats have gotten wise, or because the trap was in the "wrong" place, or whatever. I was glad, I guess, because then I could go to bed after work, not to the pound.

I think Rachel has given me her disease, and my whiplash injury really hurts and doesn't seem to be getting better. Probably I need to go to a chiropractor. I'm just not good at making phone calls for appointments. I hate to talk on the phone! So if I call you, it's a big deal. Grumble.

Juan, bless his heart, weedwhacked in the front. I really need to get out there and pull out crabgrass. Well, two more days of work this week, and I can do it Friday. If I can move!

[Comments] (4) Snapped: Our trap caught a cat in the night. Unfortunately, it was Tonks! He was very vocal in his complaints. I let him out and told him I certainly hoped he had learned to stay out of this thing. Unfortunately, I doubt he has. He is such a space cadet, especially when it comes to food.

[Comments] (1) Mausoleum: I think something has crawled under the house and died. It smells bad, but not as bad today as yesterday. I hope this hot weather we are having will dry it out fast.

I'm wondering if it was Tuxedo Tom. The last couple of weeks he has done nothing but sleep in the bushes, and he wasn't looking so good. Now I haven't seen him for a couple of days.

Some Kind of Record: Today, every student came to class. It was a miracle! Many of them were tardy, but they came! Hey there hey there. This was a good thing because today we did sentence combining with the relative pronouns and the $12 million comma rule that goes with them.

Now I have all the papers graded, so I can be FREE all weekend!

[Comments] (1) Reading: I finished Gould's I Have Landed. I love to read Gould, and it makes me sad to know there will be no more of his brilliant books. I took a little detour and read Snow White and the Seven Samuri by Tom Holt. It's funny. (funny ha ha and a little bit funny peculiar.) It's all the fairy stories, Star Trek, LOTR, Narnia, Harry Potter, and who knows what else mixed together.

Now I'm working on an advance copy of Frances Mayes, A Year In The World. It's a rather nice travelogue, but somehow I think I'd rather go to the places myself than read about them in someone else's travelogue. Because I'm reading an uncorrected proof, I'm also bugged by the typos I find. I wonder if I could get a job doing that--reading books and finding the errors. So far I've only found one error of fact, but what do I know?

Next I need to be starting on the Borges biography. I don't think the travelogue will take me very many days.

[Comments] (2) Bye Bye Kitty: Well, whoever is dead under the house is not Tuxedo Tom--I saw him this morning curled up in his bush in the front yard. I think the odds of trapping him are not very good, but I will try tonight.

Skunk Kitty was in the trap this morning. Heavens, is she ever mean! I am getting ready to take her to the pound so that she can join her kittens at the Rainbow Bridge.

Or maybe mean stray kitties don't get to go to the Rainbow Bridge? I do wonder about the after life, how that will work out with all the pets. I know if I reunite with every pet I ever had on this earth, it will be a heckuva crowd in that ole heavenly mansion. And what about pets who had more than one owner? I had a horsie, but I had to sell her when we moved to California. So does she come to me in the next life, or to the person I sold her to? Or do we have joint custody?

Gosh, I hope it's not Luna under the house. Rachel and I haven't seen her in about three weeks. She is the one that if we can catch her, we will take her to the vet to be vaccinated and fixed, and then she can be an outside kitty. But she's getting older and older without us being able to catch her, and probably she has some babies somewhere. What a cycle.

Later Today: While I was gone to the pound --and I wasn't gone very long-- somebody stole my spading fork and the three bags of bat guano I had set out to use in the garden today. Grrrrrr. I don't know what I will do. The nursery is so far, and I am trying to conserve gas. Maybe I'll see what they carry at Orchard Supply when we are on our way home from the theater.

Rachel and I are going to a matinee of Corpse Bride.

At the pound, there was a dog in the closest corner cage that really wrung my heart out. It was what I think they call at Blue Tick Hound, and so beautiful! But it was so thin and scared! I was tempted to bring it home, but I don't know anything about hounds. Also I don't need more expense, etc. I feel very bad about it. Rachel pointed out that you can't save every animal in the world. Oh, but it's sad!

I have cabbages, broccoli, and parsley to plant, as well as my three kinds of peas. I also have seeds for spinach, chard, lettuce, carrot, radish, and various esoteric salad greens. Something tells me I'm not going to get it all done today, but the pea seeds have been soaking,l so I have to get those in. I pulled out the last of the beets and all the basil. I'm trying two ways of preserving basil--keeping it in a vase with water, and freezing it.

A Weekend of Freedom!: I am not going to take my car out of the driveway all weekend! It's General Conference, so no church. No church, so no newsletter. (But next week will be a big one.) We didn't catch anyone in our trap, so no trip to the pound.

Around lunchtime I started thinking about Shrimp or Crab Louis, but I told myself, "No running to the grocery store, no no," and I made a pot of minestrone instead. I took two naps and read a lot of the Mayes travelogue.

I planted the rest of my winter garden and pulled two wastebaskets full of weeds. By the time I was finished it was so hot that my hair was driping. (Of course, the pith helmet doesn't help, dripwise.) Sweat was running down my chest so amply that the dressing over my catheter came loose. That doesn't matter because tonight I will sit in the spa and then shower and change the dressing. But for now it itches.

While pulling weeds I noticed some of the Naked Ladies I planted last fall were sending up hopeful little sprouts. Those are for you and Aunt Jeuney, Cousin Stacey.

And the most relaxing thing of all is I graded all my papers on Thursday, so that is done done done!

[Comments] (1) The Sacred Fruit: The Pomegranites are ripe! O frabjuous day! Calloo, callay! Some people don't like them because they are a bother to eat, but I don't mind. Eating one is kind of like eating edaname. I am seriously considering stripping the tree and putting all the fruit in the refrigerator so that the tree trimmers, gardener, and such people don't get them.

I've been waiting for them to ripen so I can try to make chiles en nogada. Now to figure out who to invite over to come eat it.

[Comments] (2) Corpse Bride: Rachel and I went to the matinee of Corpse Bride yesterday. ($13.50 for two tickets to a matinee---yeow!) I thought the story was cute and the art was absolutely fabuloso. A person could watch that movie a dozen times and still not catch all the little details in the backdrops and the animated characters.

Of course, I'm a fool for Johnny Depp. You don't get to look at him in this film; it's only his voice, but we take what we can get.

[Comments] (1) Crossing Jordan: It looks like many senior citizens are being "called home" in great numbers. First, the bus fire in Dallas, and now today the sinking of the senior citizens' cruise ship in New York. I don't know if I would want to die in a wholesale batch.

[Comments] (5) Autumn Fer Sure: It's actually cold today. I'm not sure I know how to act. First mistake, I think, was not taking a jacket to work. You may be sure that's not gonna happen tomorrow.

Rachel and I went to Target and bought some winter clothes. I got some long-sleeved T shirts and a pair of khaki pants. The pants fit fine around the middle but bag horribly over my wasted legs. I am trying to pretend I don't notice.

The spiders are getting sluggish and slow; the flies are dying. I remember that Charlotte died after the fair was over. I also remember that when I read Charlotte's Web to the kids, I cried and cried. Susie told on me. "Daddy, the spider died and Mommy cried!"

The one I killed this morning, I didn't cry. It was a black widow, right on the front door. I never want to be bitten by a black widow again.

[Comments] (4) Don't Cry For Me: I have started reading the biography of Jorge Luis Borges by Edwin Williamson. My connection with Borges (aside from my being a rabid admirer of his work) is that when I was a student at BYU, majoring in Spanish so I could study Latin American literature, Borges came and spoke--one lecture for everyone, and one for Spanish majors. Which is funny because much of his work is written in English. I just sat there in awe.

The first couple of chapters of the biography are a quick overview of the history of Argentina, in which many of Borges' ancestors were involved, starting with the break from Spain in the 1820s and various other revolutions. I was familiar with all this basically, but it's always good to review.

In the 1880s and 1890s, Argentina was one of the most modern and prosperous countries in the world. Compare that to now--a long decline has made it so that anytime you hear anything about Argentina, it is more bad news. The cause of this decline, I believe, was (is) corruption in the government. (My opinion, not explicitly stated in the book.) I can see the same decline beginning in the United States today.

One thing I hadn't thought of was the fact that around the turn of the nineteenth century, Buenos Aires was redesigned on the model of Paris. When Buenos Aires was built, it was a typical Spanish colonial town, a warren of little narrow streets and haphazard buildings. They went in and yanked it all out, building wide boulevards and great and spacious public buildings. I guess that's where those miserable roundabouts came from. And I guess that if you were the owner of some property along one of those little streets that got remodeled, you were out of luck. It makes for a beautiful city, however. As I look back on my memories of Buenos Aires, I can see in retrospect that it does look like Paris--or rather, like the ghost of Paris. All those years of scandalous corrupt government and an economy where a wheelbarrow load of money won't buy a quart of milk have taken their toll.

One thing that is bothering me about this author is he translates Rio de la Plata as Plate River. Everyone knows that plata means "silver", not "plate." Not only is it incorrect, but it is wretched. If he wanted to Englishize the name of the river, he could have done as we in the Western U.S. have for our river--the Platte. I don't think authors should translate place names into English, and for the most part Williamson doesn't. I think a translation does a disservice to the traveler who wants to explore the original sites mentioned in the book. Would you rather visit the Casa Rosada, or the Pink House?

This is a very thick book, and somewhat heavy reading, so I think it will take me a while if I read carefully.

Woe!: I accidentally deleted all my Scrabble games. *sob* I've been lost all day without them. I surely hope I'll be able to figure out a way to get them back. There used to be a way, but it appears to be gone from the site's control panel.

[Comments] (4) Ahhhhhhh....: Flannel jammies, plenty of purring cats, billows of down bedding--what more could a person want?

[Comments] (4) Genocide: We were, of course, horrified by William Bennett's remarks about reducing crime by aborting all black babies; therefore, we looked forward to the Bakersfield Business Conference yesterday. It was Bennett's first public appearance since he stirred that pot, and we hoped he would apologize.

Rachel worked at the Business Conference at the bookstore's table, and I dropped her off and picked her up. She didn't hear him apologize, and I was looking forward to seeing the newspaper today. The newspaper says he didn't apologize.

Many of the black community leaders organized a protest, and a racially mixed group was downtown with their signs and holding pictures of their children. (Not too racially mixed; I didn't see any Mexicans in the group!) In the morning, they were strung out all along Truxtun, but when I went back for Rachel at the end, the cops had corralled them into a little area surrounded by yellow crime scene tape. The cops were all standing with their sticks out--very large proportion of police to protesters.

Bernita Jenkins, an activist and one of the organizers of the protest, has always been someone I like and admire. I forget how I originially met her because it's been so long, but my kids and hers were in school at Arvin together. (Did I meet her in grad school, maybe?) She coaches debate at AHS. I always vote for her when she runs for something. She's never been elected yet, except to school board, but the time is coming, I'm sure. If she were on the city council or county supervisors, we wouldn't have so many shennanigans. Of that I'm convinced. When Bernita sets out to do something it gets done. For now, she's organized a meeting for next Saturday on how we can combat racism in this town.

I keep coming back to the remark that got Vicente Fox in bad trouble. He said that Mexicans are willing to do the jobs blacks aren't. Well. Even if it's true, you don't say it. I am getting rather tired of some of the big flapping mouths in politics. And also at church.

[Comments] (1) Under Protest: I forgot to mention a couple of vignettes of the protest. One was a man standing all alone, holding an 8x10 portrait of his adorable kiddles. In the other hand he carried a sign that said, "How sad! After 20 years the Bakersfield Business Conference ends on a note of bigotry."

Then I saw a mother who had brought her five girls--ranging in ages from teen to about five. They were having the time of their lives, smiling and laughing.

It took me back. My mother never took me to any protests although she was very anti the war in Vietnam. But she did take me to teacher strikes, which was fun and meaningful. I remembered those old days when I worked for BCDS and went to picket with the other teachers. We picketed at Compton Jr. High, not at our school, because our school was tucked back in a neighborhood off the beaten path and nobody would see us.

Robert tells me that Mom got up out of her deathbed to go picket so the teachers in her district wouldn't lose their health benefits.

I haven't been to do a picket or a protest in a very long time, and I like to think it's because of my health, but still. Look at the example of my mother. I should go. Peace Bakersfield holds a protest every Friday night. Also there are occasionally gay rights and pro-choice marches which I could attend. Or I could counter the people who harass women in front of the abortion clinic. Those folks are hard core.

I would never choose abortion for myself, but I don't think it's anybody's business and certainly not the government's. I am thinking Big Brother has made a lot of recent inroads into the fabric of American life, and it makes me nervous.

[Comments] (2) Plans: I am going to go to Leonardw's and Jeff's for Thanksgiving. They say all are welcome, of course, and anyone who wants to ride up there with me may. I am going to leave on Wednesday, the 23rd by noon. I am not planning to leave my purse in Kettleman City this year.

I am planning to stay the entire weekend. (Drive home Sunday.) It is Dungeness crab season by then and I want to go down to the wharf and eat a crab. Maybe try again on our ill-fated trip to Alioto's. And whatever other entertainment there is.

[Comments] (9) I am a Turtle!:

You Are A: Turtle!

turtleThese reptiles, famous for their hard outer shells, spent their days roaming for food and relaxing in the water. As a turtle you are not very speedy, nor are you soft and cuddly. You aren't much of a sprinter, but you are quite tough. You also happen to be as cute as you are fascinating.

You were almost a: Frog or a Mouse
You are least like a: Monkey or a SquirrelCute Animal Quiz!

[Comments] (2) Louis, Louis: I made shrimp Louis today, the old fashioned way with whipped cream. The sad part of it was I ended up with really a lot of it, and two of the people I had invited to lunch didn't come. I wonder what else I can do with Louis dressing?

It occurred to me that if one substituted jalapeno salsa for the chili sauce, one would have Luis dressing suitable for a taco salad.

Louis, Luis!

[Comments] (1) A Box from The Netherlands: I got a cute little box today. It said on it "We have come all the way from Holland and are looking forward to a breath of North American air." Naturally, I opened it in a hurry to let the air in.

The box didn't contain anywhere near my full order. It was my species tulips, which I hope will survive here, unlike the beautiful Darwins and hybrids and parrots, which don't. Also the hair alliums I ordered. The hair allium is an amusing plant consisting of a tall, skinny, naked stalk with green hair sprouting from the top. I'm going to work on planting them tomorrow. I have received notification that my daffodils have been shippped, but they haven't appeared here yet.

Zombie Primrose: Nobody warned me. I planted a six pack of Mexican Primrose last year. (I have found that things with "Mexican" or "African" in their name do well here.) The primrose has such sweet little candy-pink flowers, and it has agressively taken over.

Oh, I've tried to kill it. I've pulled it out several times, and it has always come back even stronger. Last week I gave up and actually sprayed it with Roundup. The primrose is not even fazed. It keeps marching on, spreading, and strangling everything in its path. Bwaaaahhhhhhh!

[Comments] (5) Grenouille: I'm reading one of Rachel's travel books; this one is about France. In a little town in France, they have an annual Frog Festival at which everyone stuffs themselves with frog legs. A Mademoiselle Grenouille is elected. The criteria on which the girls are judged is the same as for the frogs: the thighs must be firm and succulent. The girl with thighs most like those of a perfect frog wins the crown.

This writer went to a snail festival too. Frog legs and snails are two of the things I will never eat. The snails because I kill snails every day, and they have this unpleasant combination of crunchiness, ooziness, and slime. The frogs because of Louie.

When we lived out in the country, we had for a while a mascot who lived in the swimming pool, Louie Grenouille. He was huge and beautiful and even quite tame. The kids used to float around with Louie riding on their stomachs. It was a sad, sad, day when Louie Grenouille got sucked into the pool filter. Of course, being the mommy, I had to do the dirty work and take the filter apart to scrape Louie hamburger off every working part. I will never get over that.

[Comments] (4) Things I Will Kill:: Female black widows. Snails. Cockroaches. Earwigs. Ants. Fleas. Ticks. Mealybugs. Flies. Skeeters.

Things I Won't Kill Anymore: Random Spiders. Assorted bugs. Snakes (not even rattlesnakes). Scorpions. Tarantulas.

I could never raise an animal for meat and kill it. My list of what I will kill gets shorter year by year. I guess I'm getting softer and softer. I don't think the above kill list will get any shorter anymore now, however.

[Comments] (3) Forget the Cholesterol: I made fried chicken today, the real stuff, from the James Beard Cookbook, fried in plenty of butter. Also mashed potatoes and gravy. It was all so yummy. I haven't made fried chicken in like twenty years. Not the real way. I've done Shake & Bake, and that doesn't count.

Reason? First I had a husband with a heart condition, and then I had a husband with a fat condition, and then I forgot about it until some ladies on the Molly list were talking about it recently. There is plenty left for lunches all weekend.

This is daffodil weekend. I don't know what I was thinking when I ordered. I have 120 regular bulbs and about 50 minis.

More Squishing: I forgot to add to my list of things I will kill, the larvae of the cecopia moth. Even though I dislike moths, I won't go so far as chasing them down to kill them, but the larva is another story. I anticipate that I will dig up plenty of them today when I go out to plant the daffodils. They are a fat squishy curled up caterpiller thing which hides buried in the dirt, and when you squash them they squirt. Except if they are well along in development, in which case one can see the downy wings underneath the thin skin.

Crawling on the Ground: I planted fifty daffodil bulbs today, and some of the perenials I ordered with them. It's a drop in the bucket. Most of the plants are too sad looking to go out in the yard, so I brought them back into the kitchen.

I am way tired, and I think I will go sit in the spa.

[Comments] (1) Sunny Sunday: I didn't go to church today. I wasn't feeling well and went back to bed in the morning and slept right through it! I got up in time to pick up Sumana's mother at the Amtrak station. We had a nice visit: we fed her tea and looked at Leonard's scrapbooks. I hope she didn't thing we were weirdos.

After she left, Gretel and I went to the dog park, where a West Highland terrier peed on my tote bag. (!) We're back now, and it's time to grade papers and go to bed.

[Comments] (3) Sicko: Today was a stay in bed all day, and I'm going back there now. I usually feel better after a long sleep (almost 24 hours!) but not today.

I feel like the Undead.

[Comments] (2) "Cast A Cold Eye on Life, On Death. Horseman, Pass By.": (That's Yeats, in case the attribution police are snuffling around.)

I think that I really am a member of the Undead. I'm not really alive--can't do half the stuff live people do. I don't seem to be able to die. I just go on and on in a no-person's land, and deadly poison is circulating in my blood. If I bite you, you too will fall to this dreadful disease. Vampyre.

[Comments] (7) Books: I finished the biography of Jorge Luis Borges. I'd had no idea the man was such a whining emotional wreck, but I guess that's a key to producing great art. I read The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier, the author of The Girl With the Pearl Earring. I haven't heard any hype about it, but I thought it was good--better, in fact, that her first novel.

I read several of Rachel's World War I books, and then I started in on Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake.

Oryx and Crake is quite scary because it shows the logical extention of "intelligent design". It turns out to not be so intelligent after all. I thought it was scarier, and better written, than The Handmaid's Tale, which was, after all twenty years ago, or was it thirty? Kudos to the author for growing and developing as an artist.

Now, what I have decided to do is just read the Book of Mormon straight through so I can catch up with the challenge to read it by the end of the year and get it out of my life. I don't enjoy reading The Book of Mormon very much. Oh, some parts are OK, like the Isaiah chapters. There are several reasons for this. (a) the people are so stoopid and keep making the same dumb mistakes. (b)all the wars and hostilities, and (c) this is probably the biggie. In the Hebrew culture, and other Eastern cultures, writing is roundabout and repetitive, and it is the obligation of the reader to understand. In our culture, we are direct and to the point and it is the obligation of the writer to be clear. I do appreciate the Eastern culture schtick, but as an American and as an English teacher, the Book of Mormon irritates me. Add it to the list of someone who needs a good editor: J.R.R. Tolkien, Bruce R. McConkie, and the Book of Mormon. Heresy, I know.

I like the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek. The Old Testament has the Hebrew structure watered down. And the Doctrine and Covenants is written in really, honest-to-goodness American English. That of a couple of centuries ago, it is true, but still real English. Mostly. Joseph Smith could have used a little bit of editing too.

Don't send your manuscript for me to read because I will find every faulty parallelism and misplaced comma.

[Comments] (1) Bon Voyage, Grandma: My brother Jonathan informs me that my grandfather's second wife has died. She was way over ninety, nearing a hundred, in fact.

Everyone loved Grandma Mary. She was in our ward in Sunnyvale, and we went to high school with her grandchildren. (I tried everything to get one of her grandsons to notice me, but he never did, not even after we became related.) I always sat by her in choir as a teen, and she was always so loving and wise.

At my little brother Robert's wedding, she met my grandfather. He was a cradle robber--he was 87 and she was only 70. I have never seen a love affair like theirs. It was an inspiration. Mary was instrumental while my mother was sick and dying, and she and Grandpa had ten wonderful years together. They went on cruises and spent winters in California and summers in Utah. I think he was much happier with Mary than he was with Grandma.

Mary was always sweet and very positive, no matter what. Even in recent years when she had kind of lost it mentally, she was still sweet and not cranky.

This earth has lost a wonderful soul, and when they talk about her going to heaven, there is no doubt in my mind that is where she will be.

(I'm not going to her funeral because I feel too sick to drive all the way to Utah.)

Told Ya: I told ya told ya I was a vampire. Dr. Amin sez I need BLOOD! So I am going for a transfusion of two units next week.

I hope it's going to help. "They" speak of battling a disease, but this is more like a long slow futile struggle.

Baby Shower: Susie and I went to a baby shower for Jennifer (James) Griffin today. Jennifer is one of Susie's friends from elementary school, Camp Fire--long time standing. Such a beautiful little baby! I'm afraid Susie and I hogged him for more than our fair share of the time.

The shower was held at an all you can eat salad bar restaurant, in the back room. There were no stoopid games, just visiting, so I thought it was wonderful. Even though I always win those games, I dislike playing them. There is so little time to sit and chat in our worlds. The baby's father had decorated the cake.

Also in attendance was Linda Overturf, mother of Brian and Tim. She caught us up on the news, and I told her about Leonard.

I think all baby showers should be like this, and kudos to Nancy James for pulling it off.

[Comments] (3) Convalescent: Susie and I went to visit Rosalie in the convalescent home where she is staying, we hope temporarily. She fell, and she couldn't get up, so that is the outcome. We found her sitting there with nothing to do but watch the clock--she is not having fun in there.

Susie stayed and visited and I went to Target and bought her a bunch of sugar-free candy, a case of caffeine free Diet Coke, a book, two magazines, and two crossword puzzle books. Susie drew some pictures to decorate her space, so she is more comfy now.

I hope I never have to go into a rest home.

[Comments] (1) Daylight Savings: And the point is.....??? However, I like the time change better in the fall than in the spring. I think anyone would rather have an extra hour than have one taken away.

I made something good for lunch today. Rachel had been to a Basque restaurant and had a saucy chicken breast with Swiss cheese melted on top. I tried to duplicate it. I sauteed shallots and garlic in olive oil with a rosemary branch, and then added a pounded, dredged chicken breast. When it was almost done, I threw the rosemary away, topped with cheese (I used Jarlesberg) and some spaghetti sauce and let it simmer until the cheese melted. Served with buttered noodles sprinkled with poppy seed.

Gretel and I went to the dog park today. She had a really good time. It's going to be tough going the rest of the year as it gets dark earlier, and our church doesn't let out until four. I am slightly looking forward to January when we will have church in the morning.

[Comments] (6) *Groan*: I'm getting weaker and sicker. Luckily only two more days until blood augmentation. After work today I spent most of the day in bed, but I have to get up now because I have a LOT of papers that need grading.

Whoa, the semester is winding down and it's time to worry about lesson packets for Spring! (already!) I think I really need to do it this weekend unless I want to wreck my Christmas vacation.

Rachel has left for London, and I hope she has the time of her life.

Boy Scouts: Today the Boy Scouts came over to do service hours for their Duty to God awards. I had them--can you guess it?--pull weeds. They did quite a lot of work and got some more of the garden ready for me to plant daffodils.

I did something I have never done before in my life. I bought cookies at a bakery to feed them. Oh, I've bought the random bag of Chips Ahoy when I had a coupon, but never bakery cookies for a church event. I just was not up to baking cookies.

They ate most of the peanut butter cookies but only about half of the chocolate ones. What is WRONG with kids nowadays?

[Comments] (6) I'm here to tell you...: ... that I have never in my life used algebra. (Not precisely true; I taught in a bilingual self-contained classroom for two years, and I had to fake it.)

I've used geometry a few times, designing patterns for costmes, building a fishpond, sewing window treatments, etc., but never, never, never algebra.

I heard on NPR this morning about a school district in Maryland that has an algebra class for parents. Many parents were quoted--nobody knows how to do algebra, and now they are trying to play catch-up.

I know all the reasons why algebra is taught. It develops your brain and stretches your cognitive skills, yada yada. I've done just fine without it, so I'm not sure that is a good excuse for torture. I'm just sayin'.

Observations on Food Storage, by Susie: "Most people store wheat, but my mother stores balsamic vinegar."

And what is wrong with that, I ask you?

Drop by Drop: I got the blood yesterday. It flows in one drop at a time at a rate of 125 drops a minute. Basically, that shot the day.

I wonder where the blood goes? I'm surprised that people don't pop.

I didn't feel a whole lot better yesterday, mostly because I was running a fever, but today I felt pretty good and strong enough to plant a lot of bulbs with Susie. There are still so many more to go!

Susie did a lot of visiting with Grandma, and we went to dinner at Pat's. Uncle Carroll and Rodney Love were down (they came to visit Grandma), and we had a very nice visit with them, Pat and Alan, and Don.

Slow Day: Somehow I didn't get a lot done today. This afternoon church schedule really messes up your weekend. I can't wait until we switch to morning, especially now that we went off daylight savings time. It gets dark really soon after church, and Gretel and I don't have much time at the dog park.

I didn't get any of my stuff for Spring Semester done this weekend.

[Comments] (3) One More Time, With Feeling: One more class for my Academic Development students before they take their writing proficiency. I hope they make it! There are three of them that I don't have high hopes for.

The English students take their test after Thanksgiving. You ought to see all the late work that is coming in. People tell me I shouldn't take late work, but I figure, if they pass their test, I don't want to play a game with them having to repeat the class (some sadists do...), and if they fail the test, the work is to no avail anyhow. Fail the test, fail the class.

Here is a bummer: Veterans Day is a holiday, but it's on Friday this year. I don't teach any classes on Fridays.

[Comments] (2) A Bakersfield Farewell: Today's main headline, page A-1, and letters (I swear!) an inch and a half high, is the closing of the local Krispy Kreme franchise. This will probably come as a blow to many locals.

I don't like doughnuts myself, and I disapprove of Krispy Kreme because of the cutsie spelling, but I think a lot of people are going to be very sad about this.

A secondary result of this closing is now the "red corner" protesters won't have anywhere to pop in and get a doughnut while they are out there on Friday nights. (The "blue corner" protesters still have McDonalds.)

A Good Citizen: I went to vote after work today. I voted "NO!" I am so disgusted with the whole thing. There is nothing on that ballot that couldn't have waited till March. In fact, it all could have waited forever IMHO.

You are asking, "Did you vote "No" even on the bill requiring parents to be notified before a teengirl has an abortion? Yes, I did. I found, in my years of teaching high school and jr. high, that there are too many dysfunctional parents. As a teacher, you always have to call home before you give a kid detention. I found that often, if I called home about a student's behavior, the kid would get beaten when he/she got home. So I think if a girl can't tell her parents about her pregnancy voluntarily, she probably has a good reason.

One of my students right now is going through this. (Actually, she had the baby last weekend.) She is over 18, so that makes a difference, but she is having a terrible time with her father over the pregnancy. I think the man has done a lot of damage to their relationship.

[Comments] (2) I Drew the Candy Heart: It's back to the beginning with parenting for me. Apparently I have learned nothing in the last 26 years.

I had a huge pile of papers to grade, and Gretel wanted something and kept nosing me. I ignored her for a long time, and then I got impatient and yelled at her. The poor little doggie went over to the other side of the room and stood with her head down and her little shoulders sagging.

I felt just terrible. Here's a doggie with a huge heart, who would do anything for me (except behave)and I can't even take a minute to rub her tummy, or play the booga-booga game, or tug of war. What a bad mommy!

I know from long experience that it's better to stop what you are doing and give the child what he/she needs, and I should have done that. I'll try to do better in the future.

Cocooning: I went to the grocery store on my way home from work today, and now I'm not going to go anywhere until Monday morning. We have Stake Conference, but I'm going to skip it.

All the papers are graded, but I do need to work on the stuff for Spring Semester. I brought my textbook home today. It's a lot of work to put together a whole semester at once, but it certainly saves me time in the long run.

I also have plenty more bulbs to plant. I'm going to do all the tiger lilies tomorrow.

[Comments] (2) That's what *I* say too!: I drew a Scrabble rack that says "wurrra". Wurra, wurra, wurra.

[Comments] (1) Smells Good: This morning I went back to bed with a fever, but got up again about noon, feeling some better. I made some bananna bread and started some dough for cinnamon rolls. The big plan is to bring bananna, pumpkin, and cranberry bread to Thanksgiving, with various flavored cream cheese and butter spreads. I also need to make some crescent rolls, which is my assignment for the meal.

The cinnamon rolls are for Davin Amundsen. I asked Joey Nations to come do some heavy lifting in exchange for cinnamon rolls, but he brought Davin and they were finished before the rolls were. So I took them over to the Nations', and Joey was supposed to share with Davin, but he didn't. So I have owed Davin cinnamon rolls for quite some time. It will be a burden of guilt off my conscience to deliver them today on the way to the dog park.

[Comments] (2) Shaking: Today there was a major earthquake in Japan--disagreement as to whether it was a 6.9 or a 7.1. It caused a small tsunami.

We've also had three quakes here, the largest a 3.0 at about 11:30 a.m. We have not had a tsunami, there being nothing around here to tsunam.

Yankee Doodle: Today is Aaron Copeland's birthday (105 years I believe.) The DJ on NPR was claiming that Copeland's music is "quintessentially American." That's the kind of thing they write on liner notes and never can define or explain. I wonder what makes music "American"? I know the stock answers for other art forms: wide open spaces, can-do attitude, rugged independence, the pioneer spirit. I can't see how to translate those into such an intangible as music.

So I listened to "Appalachian Spring." The American aspect can't be form--the ballet suite is very positively not an American invention. I tried to think if the music was a landscape-evocative experience, but the evocation was colored by my having seen the ballet on stage. Visually, yes, you can make something "be American." But how much of our folk music is originally American? Not much I bet; we are the proverbial melting pot.

Someone should start staging "Appalachian Spring" in alternative costumes and time periods, as is done with Shakespeare's plays, to see if its "Americanness" survives a change of scenery.

[Comments] (2) Running Around: I feel just terrible today, but I pushed myself and got a lot done. I taught my class and then went to Target to get trash bags, laundry soap, toilet paper and sugarless candy for Grandma. Then to get a haircut. Then to go see Grandma. We sat out on the patio of the nursing home, and she appears to be doing better today. Pat stopped by with Leah and Joel, so I got to see the babies! They both look so much like Shannon.

I made baked potato, garlic chicken, and vegetables for lunch, but Rachel didn't wake up to eat with me. Then naptime. After that, making the broth for matzoh ball soup and cleaning and straightening up getting ready for Irma tomorrow. I swept on Sunday, but by today the floor was dirty again.

Davin Amundsen is coming over to pass off the Environmental Science merit badge so he can get his Eagle. Did you know I was on the Scout Committee, on top of all else? Well I am. I'm going to ask him to help me flip my mattress and move the garage refrigerator when he gets here.

[Comments] (4) Music to hear, why hears't thou music sadly?: I had a dream in the night that I was standing with my father on the edge of an open grave (empty) and we were singing "Nearer, My God, To Thee." There were other people there, but they all had their backs turned to us and the grave. These people were all dressed forties-fifties style, with hats and overcoats. I don't know who they were, but that wasn't an issue.

It doesn't take a genius to figure the symbolism of that one out.

I have read that most people dream in black and white, but I've always dreamed in color. All my other senses are involved in dreams, too--I can smell smells, hear things, even feel textures. Must be because I'm a Taurus.

My father had a beautiful singing voice. I asked him once why he didn't sing in the choir, and he said it was because he couldn't see well enough to read the music. I told him we could get the music ahead of time and work it out on the piano and he could learn it by memory, but he thought it wasn't worth the bother.

Geisha: The girl who cut my hair had no eyebrows. No stubble either. I wondered if she plucked them, or if she shaves them everyday. Then she paints on black, arching eyebrows.

She grabbed a pair of electric clippers and started to touch up the ends of my bangs, and I greatly feared for my eyebrows.

[Comments] (1) Recycle: It's good for the bottle.: I'm noticing that the PETE beverage bottles are getting thinner and thinner, and as a result, they are getting floppier. I think this is especially dangerous in a two liter soda bottle. I'm afraid the day will come when they sell us drinking water in a plastic bag.

You will note that even though the weight of the plastic bottles has gone down, the price of the CRV has not. We are still paying as much CRV as we did when we had real bottles. The net effect is that people who recycle for cash are actually losing money. I don't know if anyone has noticed this; I'm just sayin'.

I don't recycle for cash anymore. I actually PAY $20 a quarter to have a blue bin that is picked up by the city. It's such a relief to not have to haul in the recycling as I have for the last thirty odd years.

[Comments] (1) Wish List: Here is my wish list for Christmas, which I have been ordered by my child to produce. Nobody has to get me anything though. Amaryllis bulbs. Stilwell and the American Experience in China by Barbara Tuchman. ( betcha it's out of print though) Black cardigan sweater. Park’s gift card. movie tickets. waffle iron. Beatles’ greatest hits. auto emergency pack (like the ones at Target that have jumper cables and flat tire fixer). black Marks-A-Lot. red Marks-A-Lot. Bedtime for Frances book (Hoban). sun visor CD holder. ice scraper

[Comments] (1) What a Waste!: I was really sick all last night, with the result that I was beat all day today. I really didn't feel well. I stayed in bed until about 2, and then I got up and roasted a chicken and planted some bulbs, pulling some weeds in the process. Gretel thought that roasting a chicken was a really good idea.

The plan is to make a chicken pot pie tomorrow. I've been craving chicken pot pie, and now it's the weather for it. I am also going to have to get serious about my Thanksgiving baking.

It's no fun being sick and not getting anything done.

[Comments] (3) Plugging Along: I have made it through all the wars to Third Nephi. I think that's a respectable showing for the Book of Mormon reading challenge. I don't know if we are supposed to be finished by Thanksgiving or by Christmas. If it's Thanksgiving, I am not going to make it.

I have a trashy novel (provided by Rachel) just waiting for me to pick it up as soon as I am allowed to read anything other than the Book of Mormon. I have a couple of Tuchman books on my Amazon wish list; hopefully, at least one of them will appear for Christmas.

It feels really strange not to have any Stephen Jay Gould science books to read, and to know that there will never ever ever be any more. It's sad. Maybe I should start reading my collection over.

I thought about saying "the ox is in the mire" and going out to plant some bulbs this morning, but it is FREEZING out there!

[Comments] (1) Bark Park: Gretel and I went to the dog park, and she had a wonderful time. The only problem is she thinks she has to keep running back over to where I am sitting to see if I am okay. It's a shepherd characteristic, I guess.

Every Sunday, there is a guy there with a border collie that really hustles after a ball or a Frisbee. They look like they are having so much fun! If I throw something for Gretel to fetch, she stands there and gives me a look as if to say, "Go get it yourself. I'm not a retreiver."

Well, neither is the border collie, so flubbaththth.

[Comments] (1) Ready to Party?: I have done my assigned crescent rolls for tomorrow's feast--three batches of them. I also made banana bread, cranberry bread, and pumpkin bread for snacking, and some cinnamon rolls for breakfast tomorrow. Now all we have to do is wait for Irma to finish and for the home health to bring my medicine, and we can go.

A debate is raging, the dilemma being should we stop at Pea Soup Andersen's, or arrive starving for Leonard's dinner he is cooking for us.

Gretel has not been notified that she is going to be dropped off at the Weight Loss Spa. I fed her lots of fattening goodies yesterday, so I hope she won't lose too much at boot camp. I will give her a quarter pound hamburger patty just before we leave.

I went to see Harry Potter last night with Rachel and her friend Becca. It was scary. Too scary for kids under about the age of 10, I imagine. I thought it was ok. No complaints about the movie. Well, one. There were not as many touches from the "world" in this one, and I missed them. The critics are liking that about the movie, but I don't.

[Comments] (1) Raining: Here I am in San Francisco. We had a lovely Thanksgiving, but there was no mashed potatoes and gravy, which horrified me. I had turkey and a crescent roll for breakfast this morning. The kids have gone to Chinatown without me--I really don't feel so well and I need to save energy for the wharf this afternoon.

We are basically waiting for Robert to arrive. His plane was delayed in Salt Lake City. I made reservations for lunch at Alioto's for 3p.m. The kids want to go to ghirardelli square. Chocolate works for me!

[Comments] (1) Baaaa Like Sheep: Today is not particularly a good day to be in San Francisco because everyone else in the world is here too. Robert did get here, and we did go down to Fisherman's Wharf and ate at Alioto's. It was certainly pricey.

We also went to a museum of old arcade games. There was one called French Execution that intrigued Robert and me, so we put our quarter in and watched the guillotine work. Then there was another called Execution, so we watched it. It was a hanging. Then we found one called English Execution, and we were hoping for an axe, but no, it was a hanging too.

I tried to call Jill to ask if Rent is edited MTV style (all jumpy) or no, but could only get a bad connection. So Jill, is it?

[Comments] (2) Wurra, Wurra, Wurra: We got home very late last night, and we were snuggly sleeping in when Don called. My mother in law, Rosalie Richardson, died early this morning. It was a real shocker because she had been doing great. The assisted living people checked her at 3 a.m. and she was fine. Apparently sometime later, she walked to the bathroom (by herself) and the caregiver found her on the floor when checking at 6:00. She probably never knew what hit her.

Rosalie was a sweet, wonderful woman, and I loved her dearly. Many people have trouble with their mother-in-law, but not me. I was really blessed.

It seems like you get the ducks almost lined up, and you think you can make it through the week if you hang on by your toenails, and then life comes barging through with a Kalashnikov and kaboom--here we go again.

[Comments] (1) Yay! Hooray!: I have finished the Book of Mormon challenge! It helped that I could stay in bed all day sick and read.

I note that I haven't read Ether as often as I have read I Nephi. I'd almost forgotten what it was about.

I thought maybe I'd find a new favorite scripture, but the winner is still Mosiah 18:8+.

[Comments] (1) Ain't Kiddin': Camilla has named me Trusted Lieutenant of Grammar Hell. So watch out! I had five students fail their writing proficiency today, so that is where they are going!

All in all though, my class did pretty well. I did have two no-shows, which is pretty lame.

The Old Man is Snoring: I was going to work in the yard today, and hijack John and Susie to do so as well, but before dawn it started raining and pretty much came down all day. It's now December and I haven't finished planting my bulbs. I wish they had shipped them earlier in the fall, but they ship according to agricultural zones, the coldest zones first. I guess that is better for Dooby, who lives in Maine, but it's not good for me. Last year I called Customer Service the first of September and harrangued them into shipping my order early, but it was difficult to connect with a human who had the authority to do so, so I let it lie this year.

Congratulations, Doobie, on the beauty of your tulips.

I'm a little concerned about my weakness and lack of energy. The doctor says my bone marrow is beginning to break down. This does not mean I want anyone else to be concerned. NOW STOP IT!

[Comments] (3) Blah Blog: Really nothing to say. I spent most of the day in bed, except for going to Sacrament Meeting.

I did finish reading the trashy novel, Maeve Binchey "Circle of Friends." It was very poorly written with lots of dangling modifiers and the ending was dumb. Actually the whole thing is dumb. Maeve Binchey is consigned to Grammar Hell.

However, the trashy novel we have been waiting for has come out--the third volume of Nora Roberts' In the Garden trilogy. I have found only one mistake so far--sweet peas blooming in the heat of summer. C'mon, Nora, you are a gardener too; you know better!

If I were to write novels, I think I would publish straight to paperback like Roberts does. It sure makes a difference to Rachel's and my austere budget.

[Comments] (3) He's Been Too Long in Arvin: I was reading a press release today. It came from the BC public relations officer, who is a celebrity of sorts because he was an anchor on the news, and the college has been acting like he's a feather in their bonnet.

The press release contains a very serious participle error. The guy goes straight to Grammar Hell.

Come to think of it, Arvin is a sort of Grammar Hell.

[Comments] (1) The White Witch: It has been very cold here all day. Thick ice on the windshield when I went to go to work. When I put Gretel out, she was shaking. I felt so bad--much worse than Jadis would have felt. Everything was all frosted up and it stayed cold. I came home and spent the afternoon shivering under the covers.

We were predicted to have fog all this week and instead we have had frost.

[Comments] (1) I wish.....: I felt well enough to pull those weeds and plant those daffodils.

I wish it were bedtime.

I wish my duplicating for next semester was all set up.

[Comments] (2) Is Spring Spronging?: It's almost time for the crocus to come up. I thought. Then I looked, and some of the ones I planted last year are poking up already. And me with 200 more to plant still! I planted a bunch of them today, and some tulips the bulb company sent me for free. The tulips have been in the refrigerator.

Then I gave some daffodils and crocus bulbs to Pat. The boxful doesn't look much diminished.

Pat was here bringing plants from Grandma's funeral. There are two big spathephylliums (peace lily) and a big basket garden. Who wants some? The basket garden, of course, will have to be potted up separately eventually. It contains a kalanchoe, ivy, a dracena, a palm, and a diffenbachia.

After being wretchedly sick all last night (and not sleeping much), I felt pretty good this morning. I'm about to wish it were bedtime, however.

It is just sooooo cold in this house!

Last Day of Finals: We had a department breakfast at Carrow's this morning. (Ugh.) My omelet was nasty and it made me sick, making a complete sweep. EVERY time I have eaten at Carrow's, I have gotten sick. Everyone else seemed perfectly happy.

I worked some on my stuff for next semester, but most of the time I lay around in bed, sick. It's been a very slow process this semester! I did get my grades finished.

I am reading Paris 1919, a history of the peace talks. It's a very well written and highly informative book of history. If I keep being sick in bed, I just may get the book read in record time. (Rachel says it took her three months.)

[Comments] (3) Hymns: Most of my favorite hymns are the funky, rarely-sung pioneer ones like "This Earth Was Once a Garden Place" and "If You Could Hie to Kolob." Of the "modern" hymns, I like "As Sisters in Zion." I also really love the old Protestant hymns with the thundering organ accompaniment.

And the Christmas songs. Oh, how I love the Christmas hymns.

Least favorites are "More Holiness Give Me." All those mores make me feel like I'm being thunked on the head with a spoon. "Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning" (whiny and interminable) and "I Believe in Christ" (So many backwards prepositional phrases!) Bruce R. McConkie goes to Grammar Hell.

[Comments] (3) Actually, I'm in Grammar Hell Myself: I think I have the flu. Shaking, fever, cough, snifflies, vomiting. But I am struggling very hard to get the grammar handbooks into duplicating by tomorrow. I wanted to have them done last week. I am revising both classes to make them harder, and adding a lot of verb stuff. I have to either make up each lesson or illegally type it out of a grammar book.

I'm a mess. It's very cold here (outside) and no matter what I do, I can't get warm.

Oh, the Flu.: Darn it! And I got a flu shot too.

I got up early this morning--had to, the cleaning lady comes on Wednesdays--and I finished my stuff for work and took it in. Then came home, made matzoh ball soup, and collapsed. The matzoh ball soup was not as big a deal as you might think because I had chicken broth in the freezer.

Rachel is staying home tonight to take care of me.

[Comments] (1) Xochitl: Xochitl has apparently decided that she does live here although I'm sure she still goes to visit the neighbor every day. She has been sleeping on my bed with me, and unlike the other cats, she doesn't get up and cause trouble during the night. In the cold hours after midnight, she usually crawls under the covers and cuddles by my legs.

Heaven help you if you should wiggle a hand or a toe, however.

I'm very grateful for any additional warmth at all, but Xochitl is such a scrawny, ratty little thing that she only warms up an area the size of a quarter. ( hyperbole)

And just because she has settled down to live here doesn't mean she has decided to get along with the other cats.

[Comments] (2) Back From the Doctor: I'm home from my appointment, and I DO have a fever and the flu; I'm not just imagining it. In fact, it was beginning to turn into pneumonia, so I hope we caught it in time. I have a week's worth of antibiotics to take and I do hope it helps. Meanwhile I'm shivering and swilling Robitussin. If I don't feel better by Monday, I am supposed to call him.

[Comments] (1) Shall Mercy Rob Justice?: I received an email that contained a subject/verb agreement error. It was written by the last person you'd expect to make such an error, and she would absolutely die if I point it out to her. I hesitate to consign this person to Grammar Hell because although this is a very serious error, this is the first time it has happened. We need an intermediary.

Gasp!: Well, my temperature is down by a degree, but it's so hard to breathe. My stepmom, Annetta, made me promise to call the doctor tomorrow. I'm afraid he will put me in the hospital, where I very definitely don't want to be.

[Comments] (3) Ain't Misbehaving: I am fully aware that most PWAs are carried away by pneumonia, and I am being very, very good. Staying in bed mostly, drinking fluids.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will misbehave.

[Comments] (1) *Koff*: I am couging more again, and this time bringing up "stuff" sometimes. It's going to take weeks to cough it all up at this rate. I didn't feel so well today and spent most of the day in bed. I'm waiting for my TPN delivery and then I'm going back to bed.

Christmas: Not much fun when you are sick, but the kids seem to be having a wonderful visit. I did go to church today, and probably spread my germs everywhere. The family has gone to Pat's for Christmas dinner and Santa, but I stayed home in bed because I don't want to get the little children sick.

Gretel has learned to climb over the four-foot gate in front and get out of the yard. We'll have to keep her out of that part of the yard. Hard to do since she can open the gate that leads to it. As a hopeful step, I removed the screen I put on the gate to keep Sadie in. That way Gretel won't have anywhere to put her toenail claws and climb halfway up. Hope it helps.

And a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

2005 Christmas Letter: Christmas 2005

Dear Family and Friends,

Sleighbells ringing and carolers singing..... not really. I’m huddled under the covers shivering and shaking and swilling Robitussin. Being sick is such a colossal waste of time, but my kids are all here for the holiday and it’s really fun to have them with me.

The kids: Leonard is in the middle of moving to New York City. He is developing software and writing computer books. Susie’s husband, John, graduated from BYU in April with a Master’s in tax accounting. He got a job in Irvine, and they moved to Costa Mesa this summer. It’s nice to have them closer. Rachel lives with me. She is still doing historical research, and she is going to start a graduate program in history next week at CSUB.

I’m still chugging along–much sicker than I was last year because my bone marrow is breaking down, but I’m blessed to be able to still teach my two classes at the college. Then I come home and go back to bed. Late afternoon I have a couple of hours to grade papers, and to work in my garden if I can. My job at church is still bulletin typer and newsletter editor.

The big event of the year is a trip Leonard and I took. We’ve been wanting to do this for literally twenty years, ever since Canada established the Dinosaur Provincial Park, and this summer we really did. We flew to Bozeman, Montana and rented a car. There we visited The Museum of the Rockies and saw the most incredible display of dinosaur fossils. My favorite was the row of Triceratops skulls lined up in order of size, from baby to adult. The great thing about this trip is most of the dinosaur bones were real, not casts like you find in most museums.

From Bozeman we drove up to Dinosaur Provincial Park and saw the landscape where the fossils are found. We went on a couple of interpretive walks and a tour with the park ranger. Fossils are just lying around all over the ground! I wish we had gone there fifteen years earlier when I could have done some hiking.

Then we drove to Drumheiller (did I spell that right?) to see the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the #1 dinosaur museum in the world. It was just overwhelming. They had not only Canadian dinos but others, including trilobites from Utah from the same place we excavated ours. There were also plenty of tourist traps we hit, including the Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, where the Indians ran the buffalo off a cliff. Yup, it’s a cliff all right.

We drove down through Glacier National Park, which was lovely. The guidebook says a thousand species of wildflower live in the Park, and I’m sure they all were blooming at the time we were there. Exiting the Park, we turned and drove across Montana–a procedure not unlike driving across Texas. We spent two days in Yellowstone seeing the sights. On the second day, we went back into the Park over the Chief Joseph Highway (spectacular scenery), and we saw where the Nez Perce and their splotchy ponies overcame the United States Army and escaped. It was heartening to read on the historical marker that the public and the press were opposed to the government’s Indian policy. Then back to Bozeman and our flight home. I feel very blessed to have been able to make this trip and to have a wonderful son who is such a great travel companion.

I know that 2005 has been a very difficult year for many of the world’s people what with natural disasters, corruption in government from the highest offices to the local, and the spread of frightening diseases. I hope 2006 will be better, for you and yours and for the rest of the world. It seems to me that we are obligated to gather our courage and face the future with happiness and optimism, which is what I plan to do with what future I may have left.

I send my love, and wish you a very, very happy New Year!

Love, Frances

[Comments] (2) Secrets: I got a pair of dinosaur socks for Christmas. They magically glow in the dark. I put them on to wear to church, and then I pulled my boots over them. The dinosars secretly glowed inside my boots all through church. I knew something nobody else knew!

[Comments] (1) Where Are the Seagulls?: A few days ago, I had the outside door open during the night. I opened it so that Gretel could go out, and I was too sleepy to get up again to shut it. I lay in bed and heard crickets chirping. Crickets! What do they think they are doing singing in December?

But in the morning, the Mighty Hunter had brought in --something. Cricket, grasshopper, locust, cicada--nymph of one of the above. What do they think they are doing, hatching out nymphs in December? It was mortally wounded and to spare it further agony, I gave it a premature burial at sea.

The evening of that same day, I reached for a Mason jar and it had a cricket in it. I actually felt my heart stop. This one was not a real cricket--it was a fake one that had been serving as a refrigerator magnet until the magnet part fell off. It's been drifting around wherever, and it ended up in a jar.

Well. I almost ended up in a jar myself.

Jabberwocky for 2005



© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.