Thursday, December 31, 2009

An Endorsement

I went to Trader Joe's this afternoon to pick up a few things to take up to Utah tomorrow for my daughter. We're going up for a short visit and I thought I'd take a couple of treats she likes.

I was standing by the chips contemplating which ones looked like they might be yummy with the jalapeno/cilantro hummus I'd found, when I was engaged by a guy about my age. He had a shopping bag in his hand, and was wearing a hat like some Aussie guy, and a light jacket. At first I thought he just needed me to move so he could get to the snack section. But, no...

"Oh, I'm glad I caught you." [I looked a little closer...did I know him?]

"I was in line and I didn't want to lose my place, so I paid for it first and then came looking for you." [Seriously, did I know this person?]

"I just wanted to tell you how wonderful your hair is. All those women with the red, brown, blond, whatever--You just blow them out of the water with your naturalness. They spend all that money and don't know how gorgeous it could be." [This would have been creepy if we weren't totally surrounded by a crowd of people in a nice store.}

"Women just don't know how attractive 'real' is. You just have sensational hair, and I wanted you to know." [Okay, now I'm turning red and smiling and giggling.]

"And you have a fantastic smile to go with it! How great is that! Well, gotta go, just wanted to let you know that I, for one, love your hair." [Oh, my, that was odd.]

And he turned and left and there I stood--feeling fabulous. It was a great way to end the year. Here's what he was raving about: streaked with gray and wadded up in a clip--it's actually several colors, all of them unaltered by L'Oreal or anything else. (Mostly, I'm just too lazy to mess with coloring it; also, I liked the color for most of my life, so I didn't have any motivation to change it.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brand New American

I was recently informed of a momentous event in my family. This past week my daughter-in-law took the enormous step of becoming an American citizen. I am very impressed by this choice because she really loves her birth country and lived there until she was a full-on adult. She came to the USA to attend college, and that is where she and our son met. They shared an affection for Argentina because he served a mission in her home city of Buenos Aires. They have been married for eight years and have a son (who is marvelously intelligent, completely bi-lingual and is a sweetie-pie.)(Grandma isn't biased or anything, however.)

So, this fall, in addition to enrolling in college to complete her degree, she has also gone through the rigorous study to pass the citizenship test. This link takes you to a study guide. I think you'll be impressed at the extent of the information that an applicant is expected to understand.

I've gone to a number of seminars and spent many hours learning about the government. Also, to get my teaching license in Nevada I had to pass a couple of fairly rigorous tests about the state and federal government. So, this is a topic dear to my heart. The student population here in the desert is very multicultural, so I include lots of basic Americana in my curriculum and explain all the holidays in an effort to acculturate my student body.

I'm very proud of her and salute her for taking this big step. Congratulations!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And That's All I Needed to Know for A Merry Christmas!

Semester Grades
Student Id: ***********
Date: 12/19/09
Semester: FALL 2009

CLASS: EPY 721 001

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Mother

We're all thinking of her today. It's been three and a half years since she died, but it hardly seems like it. We had a great time last summer at our reunion, reminiscing about her and our dad. Then we spent more time going through the closets, drawers and cupboards of her old house to winnow more of the treasures she'd saved through the years. My daughter found my original acceptance letter to BYU from 1971. I don't even remember seeing it back then. Now that I've received about eight more "Welcome to our college" letters, it is amazing to think how much easier it would have been to just finish it all in four years back then.

Today for her birthday, I accidently celebrated by baking the famous Christmas dessert: chocolate refreshers. Iwanted to take a small token to my two co-workers before the madness of Final Friday came upon us. Plus, last night I had time to bake. I also took a few of them to treat my "buddy" (a student I mentor). Everyone loved them--of course--what's not to love? So, a gift from my mom for her birthday to give to my friends. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The title may confuse you, just read it backwards. I wrote it like that because I am participating in a reverse sort of Santa Claus situation.

Every other week, the trash company picks up household recycling. I put out my newspapers, used plastics, glass bottles and cans. They come along with a big truck and haul it all away. This is wonderful because the first six months I lived in Las Vegas I was in an apartment and there was no recycling. I collected my items and periodically drove them over to the university recycling yard and sorted and tossed. So, it was great to move into a house where trash pickup and curbside recycling was offered.

This year, I put recycling bins outside my classroom door and in the teacher's lounge, and every week I collect everyone's discarded plastic bottles to take home and put out with my stuff. In the past year, in the pre-pre-dawn, someone has been sifting the recyclables for the treasure of those containers marked "CA"--meaning the state of California pays a bounty for their return.

I'd never seen this person until about a month ago, when on the off-week (the non-recycling pick-up) I saw a fellow hiking around pushing his little cart and poking through the regular trash of people who (horrors!) throw out recyclable plastics. I called to him, and pulled out of my garage the overflowing bins I'd just brought home from school the night before and he smiled a big smile as he loaded it up.

The most recent Saturday, recycling day, I didn't have a chance to bring home my bottles--I left early on Friday due to vomit and I slept right through the trash/recycling trucks the next morning. But, tomorrow is the mid-week trash pick-up. (A Vegas exclusive: in the hot months, people really need their trash to go away frequently.) Well, knowing that I will be out of town on my next recycling day, I figured that I would be able to put out all my "valuable" plastic bottles and they'd be gone the next day. So, tonight about seven, I organized it all out on the curb by my trash can.

I went out to the curb about an hour later to drop off some smelly stuff directly into the trash can and (!!) "Look---atnaS has come and taken our bounty!" So, instead of putting out my empty wooden shoes, hoping that Kris Kringle will fill them in the night, I put out my filled recycling bins, confident that ---whoever---will empty them for me and haul all that used up plastic to California (just a short drive south of here) and turn them in for cash. Bless his heart---more power to him--we all win!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Not the Weekend I'd Planned

This post was supposed to be all about my fun week-end trip to Washington D.C. where I met up with my husband and son and attended the Ford Theater's annual production of "A Christmas Carol". We were planning to have dinner on Saturday at one of my favorite local spots in Southern Maryland, Captain Leonard's Seafood, and have their yummy fried shrimp and coleslaw, and a dozen raw oysters on the halfshell. Then we were going to stay in Baltimore on Sunday night after the play so that I could get back on the plane and jet back to Las Vegas Monday morning to go to my dentist appointment.

Instead, about 10:00 on Friday morning, I jetted out of my classroom to the girl's bathroom next door (I'm so glad it was nearby) where I sat on the floor and barfed into the toilet for about five minutes. Bleeeaaah. Although, as you may realize, once the actual puking has finished, one does feel so much better.

I'd mentioned to my fellow fourth grade teacher that morning that I felt yucky and I hoped that I'd not gotten a bug from one of our shared students who'd done his throwing up during her Math class on Tuesday that week. Well, perhaps I did...At any rate, I'd caught her eye as I raced to my appointment with the potty and she organized my students to line up in the hall for the class switch. And she called the office to let them know I'd need a replacement. Luckily there was a sub in the building who was filling in for a teacher who also had a student-teacher assigned to her class. So, they moved the sub to my room, and let the student-teacher carry on for the last two hours.

I came back in the room to tell her what we were doing for the rest of the day (luckily Friday is a shortened day) and got my purse and went home. The students all said, "Mrs. Frome, what's the matter? Your face is all white." Yes, and I felt pale and shakey. Good thing it is only a couple of blocks to my house.

So, I spent the rest of Friday lying on the couch with Nurse KittyCat snuggled up by my side. I had a little fever, I had a stomach ache. But, the real sign of illness to me: I had no appetite. Today, Saturday, I still feel exhausted and I have a headache and I'm still not hungry. The good news is that I'd planned ahead to be gone from church tomorrow so someone is already lined up to play the organ. I can spend all day tomorrow lying down too, if necessary.

Blah. I'm tired of being sick. I'd rather be slurping down oysters at Captain Leonard's.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Finals at the Finals

Today was the last meeting of my inferential statistics class about which I have whined often in this forum. I pulled into the parking structure at the university and got out of my car to the sounds of rockin' country music blaring through the concrete layers. Ah,'s rodeo time in Sin City. This week the city is all cowboyed up for the PRCA National Finals Rodeo. I walked down the stairs onto the sidewalk toward the building where my class is held and it took me along the backside of the sports complex where the main event is being held. The service/parking area back there was fenced off and the pavement was covered with a layer of dirt. There were men with numbers pinned on the back of their western shirts, wearing Stetsons, twirling their ropes, warming up their horses and nervously pacing around as they got their game faces on for team roping. (I asked a couple of them what their event was.)

But, I was on my way to my own event: the final exam. I'd already spent a number of hours on the take-home portion over the weekend, and, frankly--I was just relieved to know that in two hours the whole thing would be done. I feel fairly confident that I passed this test. I really, really want to pass this course, because if not, I must re-take it until I do or I cannot complete this master's degree. Blah. Plus, it cost a lot of money and I don't particularly want to re-spend it for a repeat.

I came back out of the building into the darkness. It was quieter because the outdoor carnival was shut down until the events inside were finished and the crowd would come back out. There weren't many people walking around the campus right then. I'd finished before the two hours were over, so probably most of them were still sitting, writing, figuring, stewing, fretting in classrooms. There was only a guy hauling a trashbag out of the event center. He stopped for a cigarette. I imagine inside it was an exciting place to be. Lots of money in the balance. Next year, I should buy a ticket and go enjoy the show. It'd be a lot more fun than statistics.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Little House in the Desert

I was at school Monday afternoon right after the students had all gone home when the power suddenly went out. It came right back on, but 10 minutes later, it went off again. And again, flickered on in a second or two. However, my computer was shut off, and I really didn't want to be in the middle of something when (or if) the power went out a third time, so I packed up and drove home. This was at least one hour earlier than I've ever appeared after school, so CoolGuy was puzzled at who could be opening the garage door at that time of the afternoon.

I failed to mention that it was also pouring rain. Rain is unusual here in our town, and because it is December, it has also been rather chilly. So, on a cold, rainy day, it felt good to be home. I sat down at my computer here, checked my e-mail, answered a few, then started to settle in to finish my take-home exam.

The power went out.

We waited for it to return. By now it was late dusk and so we went to get our flashlights. Still no magical surge up of lights and machine-humming. We got out some candles, I found my oil lamps. I looked out the dining room doors, down the hill--Glitter Gulch and downtown were shining away in rain. But no power at our house yet. CoolGuy got his Coleman lantern from the garage and we lit it.

By now an hour had passed. It was dinner time. Not a problem: I have a gas range. We enjoyed our soup and quesdillas by lantern light. We usually eat dinner accompanied by Jeopardy! on DVR. We had conversation instead. Then we played dominoes. For an hour. No electricity.

We got in the truck and drove around the neighborhood. The grocery/pharmacy/pizza shopping center was dark. The Walmart/gas station/sandwich shopping center was dark. It was a weird outage. On one side of a street there was the blinking glow of Christmas lights and the other side just darkened windows. It was a rather localized problem. We drove the perimeter of the dark houses and passed the power crew hard at work near a big pole and an underground circuit. I figured that the rain had possibly flooded something and shorted it out.

We went home and because it was now getting a little chilly in our power-less house, we took our lantern and went to bed early to read.

I woke up because of habit, my watch said 6:30 A.M. which is my usual getting up time. But there was still no power. NO TOAST?? How was I going to have breakfast? I dressed in the dim dawn and put eyeliner on by flashlight, but I just put the curling iron in my purse to use at school. I drove a few blocks south to McDonald's for breakfast. Finally at 10:00 A.M. I got an e-mail from CoolGuy telling me the power was restored.

No electricity for an hour is kind of fun. None for the night isn't too bad. But, folks, I need my morning toast. It stopped being funny at 7:00 A.M. I like my modern day luxuries and electric power is definitely right up near the top on my list.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Weekend

Perhaps it is because I've been sick and lacking in energy. But it seems that the joy of not setting my alarm on Friday night has been magnified to me in the last few weeks. So it was not welcomed when Kitty Cat stood by my side of the bed this morning at 6:00 and meowed loudly for me to get up and open the door. It has been very chilly here in the desert this week. It was in the mid-30's when we went out to hot tub last night, so I'd brought the litter box into the house from the garage. I didn't want to get up in the cold night and let out the Kidiot. So, when she came meowing at me to let her out, I just waved her off and rolled over.

She persisted. She'd go away for a minute and then return to meow again. Finally, she jumped up on the bed and stomped around on me and stood right by my face and meowed loudly directly into my closed eyes. This woke up CoolGuy who laughed and got out of bed and granted her wish. The little wretch.

I did go back to sleep and got another hour's worth. Then I got up and went to Curves, did a little shopping for the Night of Giving at our school. The Boys and Girls Club brings a bus full of children to our school from a less prosperous part of town (not that our part is overly prosperous this year) and we have an evening of singing, crafts and treats. Also, each kid gets a gift donated by our student body and teachers.

Then, after I got home, CoolGuy and I went out on the motorcycle to In-N-Out for lunch. He said, "It's not as cold as yesterday, let's take the bike." Yesterday, it barely got to 50, so I agreed only because I have a nice leather jacket and gloves. But, you know, at 40 MPH, 58 is pretty dang cool. We arrived with rosy cheeks.

In-N-Out is always packed. It is fun to sit and watch everyone there. The burger wrappers are such pros. The lady's hands were a blur as she folded the tissues around the buns and stuffed them into the paper envelopes. The girl behind the register was so short she could barely see over the top of it. So when tall guys talked to her, they unconsciously bent over. Here are little snippets I heard all around me:

"Well, Circus Circus was out in a field, with nothing around it but dirt lots for people to park their RV's."

"If we run, we can catch it." (They saw the bus slowing down for the red light.)

"She was soooo coming on to him. I almost hit her, the b!&#$."

"Get that table and the ketchup."

"It will be a rental, but it's got so much interior work it won't be ready till January."

After we ate and got home, I was determined to get started on my take-home quiz for statistics. I sat down at the computer and promptly nodded off. So, I just surrendered and flopped out on my bed for an hour. I woke up with Kitty Cat cuddled up by me. Right now, she is in CoolGuy's office harassing him to get up and serve the kitty chicken. But it is only 4:30 and he has a strict rule that it must be 5:00 P.M. So, I'll sit here and figure a couple of T scores on my calculator while I listen to thirty minutes of piteous cat whining.

The weekend: it's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The End is in Sight

Okay, all that is left is the final exam. Yeah! I went to the last official class tonight of "Descriptive and Inferential Statistics: An Introduction" and I have the take-home portion of the exam to do between now and next Wednesday when I will take the in-class portion of the final. I'm so excited, or I would be if I weren't so tired. But with the end in sight, I'm gaining a little steam.

Today we had the awards assembly at school. This has been preceded by about two weeks of preparation which included:

  • checking lots of papers and entering grades (because of procrastination a big-ish pile had grown)
  • writing comments for 78 students about their writing
  • parent conferences for three days
  • figuring out who was eligible for which awards (attendance, honor roll, citizenship, most improved)
  • revising the comments after the principal read them
  • looking at each kid's report card on the computer to see if anyone had a standard that we'd missed
  • sending out the invites to the parents for the awards assembly
  • typing and printing the awards certificates
  • re-printing the awards certificates after messing up about half of them because the printer had some type of heart attack
  • staying after school and using the printer in the computer lab to print report cards because my printer has officially ceased acknowledging my computer
  • signing all the report cards and the awards certificates
  • stuffing report card envelopes (very carefully--twice in my career I've mixed up kid's cards and it isn't good)
  • go to assembly, read all names correctly
  • have mom stop you in the hall and ask why her kid didn't get his award when she received the invitation
  • go to classroom and look at list and realize you overlooked printing his award--arrrrgghh
  • give him a tissue to dry his tears
  • print off reward in co-worker's room
  • include certificate to Carl's Jr in his report card to make ammends
  • send everyone home with report cards
  • rush off to graduate class
  • come home and collapse

But, now that the end-of-the-trimester-circus is completed, all I need to do this week is study, do the take-home part, and go next Wednesday and be FABULOUS!!! Or at least average.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Night at the Improv

We had a Relief Society Christmas dinner this evening. I'd signed up to bring a green salad, and a Nativity set for a centerpiece. I assumed I'd be playing the opening song, since I am the de facto pianist for this ward. No problem, I feel confident playing almost everything from the hymn book.

I'd gotten a phone call from one of the organizers, confirming that I'd be there because she said they needed someone to play the music. Yes, no problem; it's a night when I'm available. Then I got another phone call. How many Nativity scenes did I have? Could I bring several?

I arrived there tonight and they had twenty tables that needed centerpieces. Oh. Good thing I brought both big storage boxes of the lifetime collection. Then, after we got all the centerpieces arranged (and yes, I did take the pine cone version of the Holy Family), I sat down to relax. The RS president came over and asked if I'd gotten a copy of the script. Script? She looked a little stricken. Oh, here it is and all the songs.

We actually didn't have an opening song. Just the prayer/blessing on the food, followed by dinner. That was then followed by the "program" in which the group sang about eight Christmas songs, nearly all of them from the hymn book. Luckily, the two that weren't, were in a key that was easy to play. So, after the program was finished, and we said the closing prayer, we cleaned it all up and I repacked and went home. Whew...Good thing I'm an expert at making it up as I go along.

Actually, I have a college degree from California in that, and a special license that authorizes me as an expert in classroom improv, from the Department of Education, State of Nevada.