Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks

We're going on a field trip next week so we sent out the permission slips last week and asked for them to be returned by Wednesday this week. That way we'd be able to notify the chaperone parents by Friday and they can plan ahead. People get chosen to go with us by being the first ones to return the permission slips with the box checked that they'd like to go.

Today, one of my fellow teachers came to show me a slip signed by the dad of one of her students with the box checked that he'd like to accompany us. Her slip wasn't turned in until Thursday because she was absent Mon-Tues-Wed. She is often absent for many days at a time. Now, to be fair, she does have some health issues. But more than twice this year, she was gone for a week or more and when she returned it was with a long note from mom explaining that they (she and mom) had been in another state, another city, etc. And why were they gone far away?

She and her husband were fighting and he'd 1) shot bullet holes in her car or 2) been hitting her or 3) threatened to kill her. So....we're going to invite this person along on our field trip? Um, no.

My co-worker just told the student that, sorry, all the people going with us have already been chosen. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Neptune, We Have a Problem

Yesterday was windy and cloudy here in the desert. CoolGuy had been out in the garage and working in the yard and when he came back in the house to the bedroom for something, he thought to himself, " smells like rain." But--it didn't smell like rain outdoors, just in the bedroom. Along the perimeter of the waterbed. Oooh, and the carpet was wet...ack!

We've had a waterbed since we got married. Actually, the same waterbed--for 36 years. I mean, the same wooden frame at least. We've had a series of mattresses because eventually they wear out. There have been excellent improvements in mattress/plastic technology in those three decades, but nevertheless, all of them will fail. (P.S. I LOVE my waterbed--I hope to never have to change to a regular mattress--ever.)

There sat our mattress, leaking water for a long enough period of time that it had overflowed the liner and was seeping onto the carpet through the spaces between the square frame and the support underboards. Blah...The mattress pad, the sheets, and the cordurory coverlet were all soaked around the edges. Kitty Cat was serenely napping in the very center of the bed, high and dry.

So when I got home from work, there was a hose running out the window into the bottom of the empty spa (downhill for the siphon to work correctly) and the mattress was practically empty. The covers were all piled up on the patio and Kitty Cat was supervising everything. This particular mattress was purchased at least 7 years ago in Maryland and was a "waveless" kind. It was especially comfy in that there was never any sustained sloshing, as a result. However, the fibers that are inside the mattress creating the waveless effect make it rather difficult to empty entirely. CoolGuy got it all rolled up and as dry as he could, but it was still extremely heavy.

We rolled our new garden cart down the hall, got ourselves positioned just so, and heaved it out of the frame and into the cart. Whew. That would have been very difficult to carry all the way down the hall outside. Especially since my aching hands have rendered me mostly useless for sturdy lifting tasks.

But, at last, we had all the soggy stuff in the washer, or hanging over a fence, or stuffed into the garden cart for eventual trashing, and it was definitely time for bed. We soaked in the newly refilled and cleaned hot tub, and wandered in to spend the night in our guest room beds. We were speculating what the Kitty Cat would do with this huge disruption of her routine. (She LOVES to cuddle up on someone on top of the cordurory comforter and knead her little paws until she drools.)

No problem: she was already sprawled out on the guest bed, elegantly ensconced on the fleece throw. The Queen of Comfort wasn't going to let a little mattress failure stand in her way. Silly humans.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

One Liners

How many men does it take to clean a toilet? ...None, duh. Men don't clean toilets.

The Sunday School teacher asked her students, "Why did Mary and Joseph take baby Jesus to Jerusalem with them?" One little student replied, "Because they couldn't get a babysitter."
--e-mail from my sister

"It's just amazing! That tornado tore through there and just completely missed one side of that room."
--comment from Grandma upon seeing our daughters' bedroom once when they were about 9 & 10 years old.

"Grandma, you look like you're going to have a baby!"
--My granddaughter, two weeks ago.

(You see I don't have a 6-pack---I have a Capri Sun pack.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Working With Parents

Today is Take Your Child to Work day here in my county. Lots of my students have filled out a form to give them an excused absence so they can accompany their parent(s) to work. I realized as I was checking them off a list, that every day was Work with My Parents day when I was a kid. That is farm life.

We'd start out working together in the barn, milking the cows. If it was a school day, I'd even be "working" with my dad because he drove the bus. When we got home from school, it was back out to the barn. If it wasn't school, then after breakfast, we'd be working with our mother by doing the dishes and sweeping floors and dusting. Or if you were a "big kid" by then, you'd be outside either hauling rocks or bales--depending on the season. There was a brief respite between rocks and bales when the crops were growing, but Daddy learned to fill that in with picking up rocks from the alfalfa (which arrived there via the manure spreader because scooping up "fertilizer" from the piles always included some rocks from the ground around it.) Or Grandpa would be there to enlist us in fence painting or gate painting or cleaning up junk.

It was all perfectly normal to spend your time working. After all, our parents were never off-duty--why would a child old enough and fully capable get to lay around? Once a co-worker asked me why I didn't just say "no" to all that work. I was taken back: we'd have never even considered just watching and not helping. We were all in it together. Work wasn't something that interrupted our "real" lives--it was real life. We saw a direct correlation to what we did and the food that we put into our mouths.

I did not choose the farm life when I became an adult and neither did any of my sisters. However, we are all grateful, every day, for the lessons we learned and the skills we acquired. I rarely find the need to milk cows in the life I've led as an adult, but I constantly use the skills I learned doing that to stick to a drudge-filled job until it is finished. We learned that going to work with our parents.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Last night I went out with some friends to eat, and then to see a theater production and admire the costumes, because one of the friends had helped sew for the show. It was held at an LDS stake center here in Las Vegas and was an all amateur production in the sense that none of the participants were compensated with money for their efforts. But it was a decidedly professional event. I was really, really impressed with their efforts. I was also impressed with the concentration of talent in one geographic area.

The premise of the show was that a young genius was being stopped from being awarded his two doctoral degrees by an "incomplete" in Music Appreciation 101. He confessed he'd been bored with the musicals that his professor had made them watch and had quit, so now, in order to finish the class, he was cramming in all six of the shows he'd formerly avoided. Using his invention of some type of fancy machine, we were treated to compressed versions of these musicals and then he'd add some dialogue (while they set up the next scene and did costume changes) about what he'd learned from the plot and songs.

And--seriously--they were a remarkably talented ensemble cast: singing and dancing with not a single cringe-inducing moment. Talent, talent, talent coupled with obvious practice, practice, practice. The whole event was two hours, including an intermission, and featured big production numbers and solos from...
  • Hairspray
  • Annie
  • Footloose
  • Wicked
  • Les Miserables
  • Mary Poppins

When I first looked at the program, I was a little dismayed wondering how they could possibly do numbers from each of those very different shows and make it work. Or even do justice to the music. But---wow oh wowee--I cannot explain how professional they were. Lights, staging, music done by a keyboardist, drummer and guitarist, choreography, children, teens, adults, old people. Pretty awesome job...

But--I've spent too long on the reason I was there. Let me get to the point of this post. As I sat in a cultural hall where I'd never been, in a part of town about 20 miles from where I live, I thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to get up there at the mike and do a little test?" I'd say my name, describe my family tree a bit (just mom's maiden name and mine) and point out that I was from Star Valley, Wyoming, and then ask for people who had any connection to either my married family or my birth family or Star Valley to stand and explain. I figure I'd definitely get at least one, and probably many more.

You see, even though my small, small hometown in Wyoming is still very small, its influence is wide-ranging. In fact, as my children have discovered, it's international. We have yet to live somewhere that hasn't revealed another family connection or Star Valley connector.

Why just last week, it happened again. We were having Reading Week at our school and one of our teacher's husband is a promoter for the UFC , so she asked if he could invite a couple of his clients to be guest readers for the students. On Thursday, three hunky looking guys with malformed noses came striding through our hall and we joined the third grade for a fun session with these dudes. The kids got to ask them questions and then they read a cute kid book to us. At the conclusion, some of us teachers were standing there and struck up a little chat with them and we asked if they'd done sports in high school--of course--wrestling mostly. So I added that my brothers had both been wrestlers and that the U.S. Olympic champ Rulon Gardner was from my home town. Sure enough, one of the fighters piped up, "I lived there once--Star Valley, right? My dad was building some rich guys a log house in Jackson and we lived in Star Valley for two years." Okay. Small world!

But not really when you're from Star Valley. We should start a Facebook page or something: Times When Being from Star Valley Yielded a Connection to A Total Stranger Somewhere in the World. So, it would have been fun last night to ask the several hundred people in attendence (many of whom were LDS--which increases the odds for the SV connection by a large measure) how many of them had a SV hook. Try it sometime when you're with a bunch of total strangers. You'd be amazed how often that you'll have that in common with others.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Things I Did on Spring Break

We dopey elementary teachers always ask our students to write about what they did while they were gone on vacations. So, I thought I'd write about what I did for Spring Break.
  • Went up to Utah on Saturday for grandchild blessing on Sunday.

  • Enjoyed event, and the company of our son, his wife and their little boy and members of our daughter's extended family-in-law. Drove back to Las Vegas Sunday night.

  • Cleaned room on Monday--no really--vacuumed, dusted, washed the rugs and the comforter, winnowed the closet, sucked all the cobwebs out of the corners, used the tiny wedge sucker along the baseboards, dusted the top of the fan blades, trimmed the plants. Whew. It smells so fresh and clean and you can actually see the color of the runner on the bed shelf, rather than a thick layer of dust.

  • Took Cool Guy to the airport at 10:00 P.M.

  • Went to the temple Tuesday morning. Then shopped for birthday gifts and packed suitcases because Tuesday night I got on an airplane at midnight...

  • ...and arrived in Boston on Wednesday morning. I ate a yogurt, read the Boston Globe, and some of my college text, and then got on another plane and landed in Baltimore at noon.

  • I rented a car, drove down to D.C. where I parked and wandered around admiring the cherry blossoms and Spring in the City. Then I ate lunch in Union Station.

  • I drove down to Southern Maryland by evening, where Cool Guy and I met up for supper at Cap'n Leonard's Seafood. First we had a dozen raw oysters on the half shell, and then I ordered 5 steamed crabs and 5 fried shrimp and smacked my lips and licked my fingers for about an hour while pigging out.

  • On Thursday I visited a great, good friend where we talked and laughed and sighed for about 3 hours. We ate out again that night at our other favorite seafood place, Clark's Landing Restaurant and had crab cakes and oyster stew.

  • Friday, I drove all around looking at my old stomping grounds and marveling at the interesting changes that have occured since I moved back home to the West. Then, we drove up to D.C., turned in Cool Guy's rental car, and drove mine to Baltimore.

  • Where we met up with our son and took him out to dinner for his birthday. We laughed and talked and ate and went over to his house to admire LeRoy, the Mega-Cat.

  • We checked into our hotel, slept, woke up and got on planes at BWI to return to Las Vegas by Saturday afternoon.

  • Because Saturday evening our grandchildren and daughter & husband arrived to spend their spring break at our balmy house to escape the lingering winter of Northern Utah. Good timing, too. It snowed in Utah the next day on Easter Sunday.

  • We ate tasty food, colored eggs, made bunny bread, watched LDS conference on TV and Grandpa CoolGuy splashed around in the "little pool" (spa) with the buddies.

There's more fun for the ensuing week, but since my vacation was officially over, I will stop writing now. Some other time I might tell you about our pleasant week hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was pretty low-key, but very fine. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos of LeRoy, the Mega-Cat.

And here is frolicking in the pool: