Artwork by Ollie

November 16, 2013

Ollie made me a picture tonight at Mom and Dad’s:


Yes, I framed it. Of course I framed it. It’s a hand turkey. Made by a 3-year-old. The teal-colored wattles on the turkey actually started out as a teardrop, which made it look as if it had killed someone in prison, but I think Jamie convinced Ollie to modify it.

If you wouldn’t proudly display a toddler’s rendering of a turkey with a prison tattoo in your home, I’m not sure we can be friends.


Hazel had a birthday party today. She’s 5. Mom asked me to take a picture of all three kids together. I think she was hoping for something suitable for use on Christmas cards. This was the only one that didn’t have someone making a face or squirming or wandering off or giving bunny ears or some combination of the above. The boys have cake and Kool-Aid all over their faces, and Hazel is completely distracted, so obviously the party was a success.


Back to basics (and feeling awesome)

October 4, 2013

We closed on the House of the Lifted Lorax on Monday (congratulations to new owner Josh, who is way amped about the solar panels and the woodstove, and whose young niece is way amped about the Lorax mural on the side of the garage), which means we have just enough money in the bank to pay off our moving expenses and put a privacy fence around the backyard.

You can’t fully appreciate the value of a good fence until you’ve spent six months putting out a pair of hyperactive dogs on short cables umpteen times a day. Yeesh.

In addition to affording us the convenience of opening the back door and letting Song and Riggy take themselves out, this fence will free us up to establish a new beehive, adopt some chooks, install a pond, start a compost pile, and — if I’m feeling really ambitious — maybe set up a small warren of rabbits without interference from curious neighbors of either the two- or four-footed variety.

I put in an experimental, totally halfassed garden this spring and learned enough about my new yard to feel pretty confident taking my usual “Darwin Garden” approach: Coddle the tomatoes and leave everything else to natural selection. So far, I’ve determined that California poppies won’t do a damn thing; cucumbers, strawberries, arugula and most herbs will thrive with absolutely no attention; green beans should do well with minimal attention; and tomatoes should perform fairly well if we choose a variety that’s tolerant of partial shade and try to protect it from the local wildlife.

After meeting the new owner of the old house Monday and giving him some pointers on living the eco-hippie life to its fullest, I’m in full-on DIY mode, so this afternoon, I mixed up a batch of homemade laundry detergent and am currently trolling for dishwasher detergent recipes, since I’ve got plenty of washing soda and borax left over.

Also on the to-do list for this afternoon: Get a new set of shelves for the basement, join a gym, stock up on soup and chili ingredients, find the source of the smell coming from the kitchen drain, and work on the coupon books I’m making the kids for Christmas.

Life is good.



January 27, 2013

Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) from Miguel Jiron on Vimeo.

I worked with several kids with Asperger syndrome or other autism spectrum disorders during the course of my four years at Webster.

I adored those kids.

They don’t know it, but just by being part of my class, they gave Riggy a better mommy. That seems fair, since Scout gave them a better teacher. “The gift goes on,” as Sandi Patty says.

This video made me cry.

I am applying to grad school this week. For reasons.



January 7, 2013

I didn’t have many New Year’s resolutions this year, but I did promise myself I’d do more hippie crap, because it makes me happy.

Here’s my first real effort in that direction:



I ordered a sprouter before Christmas. It came in before I left for Tucumcari, but I didn’t start any seeds until I got home. I now have two trays full of alfalfa sprouts and a tray of lentil sprouts. I’m looking forward to eating them in salad tomorrow.

Sprouts are nice. They’re cheap to grow, and they taste like spring, which makes them especially nice in the middle of January.

As January evenings go, this one isn’t bad. I’ve got Emmylou Harris on Spotify, a cup of Wild Berry Zinger on my desk (sweetened with honey from our apiary, of course), and a design project in front of me. It’s not the ballpark on a hot summer evening, but it’s acceptable.

Speaking of the ballpark, Phillies pitchers and catchers report to spring training in 36 days. Eep!

If I’ve counted right, we’re also 93 days out from the Drillers‘ home opener. The bad news is that I will be missing that game. The good news is that I will be missing that game because I will be sitting in the second row at a Judy Collins concert in Kansas.

Sometimes my life is just flat awesome.


Perfect Saturday evening

October 27, 2012

Feed-store sweatshirt. Birkenstocks. Sage smudge. New turntable. Old records.

There’s really not much else I can ask for on an autumn evening, is there?


Simple pleasures

September 16, 2012

It’s been cool for a couple of weeks, so I think it’s safe at this point to say that summer is more or less over. I’m no fan of winter, but with the changing of the seasons, three small pleasures return:

1. It’s been cool enough for us to resume our tradition of taking Song and Riggy to the dog park on Sunday afternoons. After being cooped up in the house all summer, they’re really enjoying the change to get out and romp with the other dogs.

2. It’s cool enough for cappuccino in the evenings. I bought a new burr grinder several months ago but never put it to use because the weather was so hot, I just didn’t feel like messing with it. I cleared off a counter and set it up tonight. I didn’t have any good espresso on hand, but I rummaged around in the cabinets and found a bag of decaf house blend I’d picked up in Makanda last time I was home. It was stale, but I put it through the grinder anyway. Stale or not, Makanda Java tastes like home, and for me, cappuccino is always a multisensory experience anyway — one that exists in both the past and present tenses simultaneously. Depending on my mood, the time of year, and my surroundings, a cappuccino can conjure a skipped class, an icy morning in Carbondale, a laugh with a friend, a 20-year-old conversation about politics, a Gus Bode cartoon, a novel I never got around to writing, a text from a friend at a moment of crisis, a date in St. Louis’ Central West End, or any of a thousand other scraps of memory scrawled on paper napkins or scribbled on receipts and bank deposit slips and dropped down the rabbit-holes at the bottoms of purses that no longer exist, where they slipped through singularities and vanished, waiting to surface again at odd moments when the first shock of hot, bitter coffee penetrates the gentleness of foam and carries me into the past at the very moment I’m savoring the present.

Even bad coffee is usually a good experience.

3. Hoodie season is upon us. I didn’t really appreciate hoodies until I wore one to ward off the chill of San Francisco this spring and realized the cool suited me fine if it came with Beat poetry, an ocean breeze, and breakfast in a little coffeehouse two or three blocks from the Pacific. San Francisco is a long way from Oklahoma, but somehow it feels closer when I’m snuggled into a warm hoodie under a cool rain.

Hope you’re enjoying your evening, wherever you are.

Glorious day

February 25, 2012

I have very little to report at the moment, aside from the fact that Songdog and Riggy had an absolutely wonderful time running around at the dog park today, and I am more or less caught up on the things I needed to do this weekend. I have a couple of math lessons to plan and a handful of papers to grade, but those can wait until tomorrow. It’s looking increasingly likely that I might actually get to curl up in a comfortable chair and enjoy a nice stress-free Sunday evening at a coffeehouse.

Life is good.


Daybook for Sept. 19

September 19, 2011

Haven’t done one of these in a long time:

For today…

Outside my window… summer quietly giving way to autumn on a cool September evening.
I am thinking… about baseball and an old Paul Simon song and the cobalt shade of the sky this morning as I was walking across campus.
From the classroom… stress, anticipation, and an unexpected reunion with an old, old friend.
I am thankful for… two decades spent chasing stories.
From the kitchen… nothing tonight, but I’m thinking about chili tomorrow.
I am wearing… khakis and a Route 66 tiki shirt because I was too busy to change into jeans after school.
I am reading… The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman.
I am hoping… tomorrow’s journalism lesson goes well.
I am creating… a newsroom.
I am praying… to express the “unlabored motion of the divine energy” and the “vigor, freshness, and promise” of youth that carried me through the demands of a senior year that included projects very similar to those I have undertaken lately.
Around the house… a random assortment of small objects meant to remind me of New Mexico.
One of my favorite things… watching the dogs leap into the air to take the cookies Ron holds up for them.
few plans for the rest of the week… grading, planning, editing, and maybe an hour or two in a comfortable chair tucked into the corner of a coffeehouse somewhere.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you…

We watched this little bee work the sunflowers along 66 west of Glenrio during our trip to New Mexico a couple of weeks ago.


One of the perks

March 23, 2011

There are down sides to being a teacher in a public school, the three main ones being — to borrow a line from the late Warren Zevon — lawyers, guns, and money. If legal requirements aren’t tying your hands in one direction, security policies are tying your hands in another … and don’t even get me started on funding issues.

Throw in self-serving political maneuvering by people who have never set foot in a public-school classroom for anything more than a carefully scripted photo op; standardized test scores and all the attendant pressure and paranoia surrounding them; and the endless (and moronic) scapegoating of mythical “bad teachers” who are supposedly to blame for everything that’s wrong with public education, and … well, it’s almost enough to make a girl wonder why she ever let a certain smooth-talking little smartass coax her back into the profession in the first place.


And then the girl in question runs across a student project from last semester that reminds her of exactly why she let said smartass talk her into said profession:


Precocious teenagers can’t fix everything, but their off-kilter sense of humor definitely makes the down side of working in the public sector easier to stomach.


Busy weekend

December 6, 2010

Wow. What a weekend. Since Thursday night, I have recorded myself reading seven children’s books for the munchkins in my family; made two batches of truffles; taken photographs all over Tulsa; gone to the Blue Whale twice (once so Ron could photograph Santa’s arrival for his blog, and once to deliver some Blue Whale Christmas cards for the volunteers to sell as a fundraiser); glued a miniature plastic sushi playset to my dashboard; built a shelf to hold a planter on my kitchen windowsill so I can grow culinary herbs above the sink; painted a lawn gnome in psychedelic colors; gone shopping at Grumpy’s Garden; designed a set of erasable number lines for my Algebra I kids to use for graphing inequalities; and designed a set of robot-shaped mini-chalkboards for the kids to use for showing me the answers to in-class problems.

Here’s my awesome dashboard:

If I hadn’t stuck that rose rock to the dashboard, it probably would have become part of an assemblage involving a sheela-na-gig.

Shiny objects — yay! The stars glow in the dark, in case you were wondering.

The usual suspects. Please note the tiny plastic chopsticks in the Pizza Planet alien’s left hand.

Wider shot of the usual suspects.

The left side of the dashboard. The Care Bear and shiny stone came from geocaches. The roadrunner is from Tee Pee Curios in Tucumcari, and the gecko is from Kix on 66 in Tucumcari.

The lizard came from a geocache. The roadrunner came from Seaba Station. The frog came from the dollar store.

The little Lego robot was lying on the ground on the patio at Coach’s — the restaurant that overlooks the field where the Redhawks play in OKC — while Ron and I were watching Ryne Sandberg throw batting practice for the I-Cubs last summer. He gets more sushi than the rattlesnake because he has sentimental value.

TravelOK is selling charms to promote Oklahoma tourist attractions — including the Blue Whale, which of course I had to have.

How awesome is it that the miniature sushi playset came with both a set of miniature plastic chopsticks and a miniature spork?

Hope your weekend was as fun and productive as mine.



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