Holy Cow.

For the first time in a few months, I just finished a book.

An entire book.

Not a textbook, either – pure, unadulterated fiction. And nothing required in tenth grade English,  either.

Wow.

Feels good!

Guess that’s the benefit of getting sick… gives you an excuse to get some reading done! 🙂

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In Which I Want More!! ;)

I knew this would happen… make a wish list, and you’re guaranteed to realize you’ve left things off. Hope no one minds if I post an addendum. These are actually things I totally want but just neglected to post earlier…

Stupid WordPress isn’t letting me post pictures, so you’ll have to click – sorry.)

Some time ago I saw a woman wearing a Bleacher Blanket Poncho and I fell in love. I figured she’d made it. Then, I saw them at Walgreens. The people who make them have a website but you apparently can’t buy them online…? Anyway, the one I love, and the one I saw at Walgreens, is navy on one side and orange on the other. How amazing is that?

The second thing is that I could really use a new eyeliner brush from MAC. I don’t know which one it is that I have now (should check when I get home) but I know it’s not the super-fine one. Might be this one

And see, I really shouldn’t go to that website, because then I start looking at the eyeshadows, which I REALLY don’t need, but my goodness, aren’t they pretty? It’s hard to tell what they really look like on a computer screen, but I’m fascinated by Moonbathe Firespot and Moonflower, which apparently means that I’m into lunar makeup or something. Has anyone ever tried the tinted lip conditioner? Or the lip conditioner stick? My lips are so beat up lately…

In Which I Compose a Symphony

So you take a pre-existing piece of music – or write your own, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious. Nothing too fancy, nothing too difficult. Make sure that it has obvious movements and delicate quiet sections, and isn’t too long. Ideally it should be performable by string or wind symphony, so that both bands and orchestras can reap the rewards of performing it.

You have your ensemble up on stage, but what the audience doesn’t know is that you’ve taken a large group of students – maybe your freshmen, or another ensemble – and planted them in the audience as well. They’re the second half of the ensemble.

The important part of the piece comes in with what you add in for this second half of the ensemble…

Several of them should walk in after the song has started and take seats in the middle of the front rows, loudly apologizing and stepping on people all the way to their seats, and then noisily adjust their seats/coats/purses before sitting. This should continue at random intervals throughout the first half of the song.

At quiet parts of the piece, have a large number of them loudly crinkle stiff cellophane for at least ten seconds’ duration.

Clap enthusiastically between movements and whenever else it (erroneously) appears that the stage ensemble is at the end of a piece.

At a choreographed moment, every planted audience member’s cell phone should ring. Some of them should turn theirs off after a moment, but a few people (strategically placed for high impact) should answer their phones and have full-volume conversations.

Loud, long-lasting coughing fits should punctuate all the prettiest parts of the song.

About halfway in, one person turns on a loud recording of a screaming baby. Do not turn it off for the rest of the piece.

Pairs of plants should have conversations mid-song about any number of topics, including the performance, their jobs, homework, and the cute guy they’d like to ask out.

Near the end, at a rousing part, several people should bring out the lighters (or cell phones, depending on the circumstances).

We’ll call it the Concerto Etiqueto, and the program notes will consist of a brief list of things no civilized concert-goer should ever do.

In Which I Make a Geeky Gift List

My birthday is in December, as is (I’m told) Christmas. Despite the fact that I love everything and have rarely received a gift I didn’t like (I’m dreadfully easy to shop for) everyone seems to want to know what to get me for these Decembery occasions. And so – a list of suggestions. (Yargh – this is hard.)

Belkin® CushTop Brown and Blue Case (about $30, found at Staples in July, spotted at Office Max in October). This thingy makes working on a laptop so nice – would be too cheesy to reference the lap of luxury? Plus, it matches my laptop case. I was in love from the moment I saw it, and R said to put it on my wish list, so here it is.

Isn’t that exciting-looking? Oh, but its appearances are deceiving. It’s a huge self-healing mat. ::Swoon::

These Page Points are the best kind of bookmark, and yet somehow I’ve never managed to have any.

Attractive, comfy clothes suitable for wearing to high school – as a teacher, not a student, because heaven knows there’s no way I could wear what those kids are wearing! 🙂

Comfortable, halfway-cute shoes. Took a suggestion to try Borns and am hooked. They’re horribly expensive, but if you happen to notice that they’re on sale I’d love to know about it. I have three pairs of sandals but would love a pair that would be good in colder weather. I don’t do well with shoes that don’t have a back, and heels just aren’t practical for a classroom. Size 9.

Also, I need a new pair of sneakers. I know that this is a silly thing to put on a list, because shoes of any kind are horribly hard to buy for someone who isn’t there. I’m not really actually looking for these as a present – I’m just trying to flesh out my list with things I actually need.

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Moving on to things I don’t need in the least… I really like these bird bells. And I think this “birds of paradise” set is just about the sweetest thing ever. Birds with words? Oh yeah – sign me up.

Book Bungees: what a great idea – bookmarks that hold your book closed.

I don’t know if this comb binding machine is any good or not – it’s the cheapest you can get, basically, which is still about $60. I’d love a wire binding machine (and a ream cutter, and a hole driller) but those things are astronomically expensive, and I’m just not good enough at bookbindery to justify that kind of investment yet… (I suppose having this item on my list makes me the world’s biggest geek, huh.)

I’d really like some canned air. Does that make me a hopeless geek?

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If my rich uncle or whomever is reading this and wants to buy me something… I’ve decided that I’d like to get my SLR a digital friend. I’m just so jealous of these beautiful photos taken by people with real cameras, but I can’t justify using film at football games and stuff when I just want to take a thousand pictures. Anyway, I’ve decided I’d just be delighted with the Canon Digital Rebel XT, which does pretty much everything I’m wanting without costing a thousand dollars.

Any secret admirers out there who want to buy me sparklies may take inspiration from the following:

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Updated claddagh ring, Tolkein bracelet, well-behaved woman bracelet. I also like Red Envelope’s star/dream necklace and origami crane necklace. And you can’t go wrong with the beauty and utility of this “Frank Lloyd Knife” necklace.

I’ve been keeping a silly wish list of things on one of my favorite website, Perpetual Kid. Some of my favorites:

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I definitely need a red crayon pen.

I’ve been meaning to buy these monkeys for myself, but haven’t yet, so I guess I’ll put them on this list.

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This is something I totally need: USB heated gloves. If you’ve ever felt my hands after I’ve been typing for a while, you know why. I prefer the purple ones, I think. 🙂 (Another USB toy I would get good use out of is this – although at this rate, I will also need one of these!)

The rest of my silly Perpetual Kid gift can be seen here.

As long as I’m listing goofy gifts from goofy websites…

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I think it’s only fair to warn people.

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This shirt pretty much rocks, too.

But my favorite pretty much has to be this one:

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Okay, that’s enough. 🙂

Giggling Maniacally Over Here

Just when you begin to think that the world has run out of great bookish ideas and truly awful puns, Perpetual Kid comes out with a new cutting board.

Romeo & Julienne

ROMEO & JULIENNE CUTTING BOARD

 

the all-time classic cutting board

Shakespeare was certainly on the cutting edge of theater, and now you can be, too. Use this fine quality wooden book for slicing and dicing and then store it on the shelf with your cookbooks! It’s 6″ x 9.5″, constructed from solid hard beechwood, pre- seasoned with a light dressing of mineral oil.

A perfect hostess gift! Just read what the critics are saying!…

“Tis better to have chopped and tossed than never to have chopped at all”.

“Sharp witted and cutting edge”

“A true slice-of-life adventure”

“I laughed, I cried, I diced”

(No) Time to Read

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this on this blog, but my life is in a whirlwind lately. I’m going to school super-full time, and I’m student teaching, and I’m working part-time. It’s pretty rough; I won’t pretend otherwise. What little time I have for reading is taken up by trying to keep up on class readings. All of my “fun” reading has been sidelined, and I’ve forced myself to put a buffer between myself and any recreational reading so that I don’t get off-task.

It stinks.

Despite this, I’ve had the chance to read bits and pieces of some good stuff. I read most of Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, the summer reading assignment for the accelerated sophomore classes with which I’m working. They did a few days’ work with All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and it was fun to re-read some of my favorite sections of that book. I’m carrying around a permabound copy of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha (ought to read that – they’re about to start working with it, I think) and next week I’ll be reacquainting myself with Antigone.

I’m also reading some interesting nonfiction in my field. Today I picked up a book that deals with a subject I’m pretty interested in: using Web 2.0 in the classroom. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson is a practical guide to implementing this new, dynamic technology in the modern classroom. Not only is it interesting, but it’s good for at least one assignment due this semester.

In guilty moments, I’m reading (about a paragraph at a time) a water-damaged copy of Gail Collins’ America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines.  So far it is both fascinating and depressing. I’m in the Puritan part of the book, and I’ve never much liked that time period. What a horrible time to be alive. My husband is taking a class on Colonial America (blech) so it’s fun to compare notes on life as a woman during that time.

Anyway, I guess that’s a quick reading update. I’m trying to scratch together some time to make at least passing posts, but most of the time I’m having to focus on keeping my student teaching blog. I hope that you won’t forget about me this semester!

In Which We Witness a Miracle

Ryan and I have a problem. We adopted Sophie in June, but it’s not working out. She isn’t getting along very well with d’Artagnan and Paisley, and doesn’t seem completely comfortable here. Worst of all – and not unrelated – her toilet habits are driving us to distraction. Specifically, she pees. On everything.

So far nothing important has been ruined, but our laundry load is astounding (and disgusting).

When we adopted her, her foster family said that if things didn’t work out with Sophie that they would take her back, no questions asked, a week from them or five years from then. It was one of the things that helped us make the decision to bring her home – it was a safe gamble.

That is, it would have been. But when we called the phone number this morning to talk to Sophie’s foster mom, it was disconnected.

We couldn’t get through to the humane society, who organized the adoption. We’re hoping they’d have updated contact information – there’s no way we’d take Sophie to the pound. But they’re not answering their phone today. Ryan and I began thinking about alternative options, and decided to swing by Boise’s one and only no-kill shelter, Simply Cats. They’ve got a new facility in southwest Boise, and I’d always wanted to check it out.

We pulled up in the parking lot of a shiny new building and immediately saw an appealing feature – an entire wall of chicken wire, behind which cats lounged on kitty condos, watching birds gather on the strategically-placed feeders. We walked around the side of the building to see the cats before we went in… and that’s when we met Kingston.

He was in the second “room” down, sitting on the top perch of a condo, watching us as we approached. Mostly black, with attractively placed white splotches.

“Hello,” he said as we drew near.

I’m not being facetious. That damn cat said “hello.”

At first I thought it was just a strange meow, so I said “hello” back.

“Hello,” he repeated, clear as day. Bewitched, I kept saying “hello” and he kept re-greeting me, probably wondering why I didn’t get past the greetings and get to the small talk.

“Is that for real?” Ryan asked, his face an open pane of astonishment, I’m sure just like mine.

“Hello,” I said to the cat.

“I love you,” he told me.

This was just too much. We started howling with amazed laughter. “I love you,” said Ryan.

“I love you,” repeated Kingston.

“I love you,” I said.

“Hello,” he replied. Then, “I love you.”

At a certain point there was no longer any point continuing the conversation, because we were too breathless with laughter to keep it up. We walked into the shelter and met the two employees within.

At first we kept it to business, asking about surrendering Sophie. There’s a waiting list to surrender a cat there, but they told us how to get on it. It’s expensive, too – $150. Worth it, I think, in saved dry cleaning bills and the price of cleaning products… plus, five minutes in Simply Cats and we were sure that there was no other place (other than her foster home) that we would ever take our cat. I’ll get back to that, though.

“Can we take a look around?” we asked.

“Of course,” the volunteers said.

“Uhm,” I ventured, “are you aware that you have a talking cat?”

They laughed. “Oh, definitely. That’s Kingston. In fact, the news is going to come down and film a segment about him in a few days.” Apparently he’d arrived (a week or so ago) with the greeting in his repertoire, and a volunteer had worked with him to teach him the endearment.

We went in to see Kingston in person. What a talker! He loved all over us and reminded us, over and over, that he was happy to see us and felt very fondly about us. Sleek and obviously happy, Kingston seemed to me to be an older cat – maybe in his “tweens.” He shared a room with three other cats of similar age and temperament.

“We really can’t,” I said.

“No,” Ryan said. “We can’t.”

We took a tour of the other cat rooms and met many charming and sweet felines, some permanent residents due to age or health problems, some waiting for the right home. One, a 13-year-old orange tabby with diabetes, helped himself to a perch on my shoulder and quite made himself at home.

This story does not end with Ryan and I trading Sophie for Kingston. (What a callous sentence….) No; Kingston is still a resident at 2833 S. Victory View, where I imagine he’ll greet each of the visitors until the day of his television debut; at that time he might as well pack his bags and sit back to watch the stampede of people eager to adopt him. We’re not even on the waiting list for Sophie yet, because the person we need to talk to is out sick this week. Basically, we accomplished absolutely nothing – other than witnessing something rather miraculous. Talking cats. What will this crazy world put before me next?

In Which I Remember to Post About BT20

I just realized that I said something about photos from the Blue Thunder 20-Year Anniversary and Reunion, and then never did even come back and say if it was cool or not.

It was. I’m kind of organizing my thoughts about it, because I’m supposed to write a 200-word article about it for some sort of campus newsletter. As a result, I’m really not sure what to say about it right this moment – other than it was a lot of fun to march again. I’m certainly not inclined to sign up for the 2008 season or anything (I’d almost forgotten how hard it all is!) but it felt great to get to do it again. Five or ten years from now when they have the next reunion will be soon enough for me to get back to it, though, I think. 🙂

Anyway, here are a few pictures, to make up for my total lack of anything to say.

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In Which I Face a Tough Crowd

On Saturday morning I got up early, put a huge box of handouts and goodies into the car, and dragged Ryan out to Area High School so that I could teach a single-reed marching band clinic. We got there in time to watch an hours’ worth of field performances in the Unbelievable Horrible Brain-Piercing Cold, and then it was my turn.

Okay, so a roomful of fifty cold, hungry high school saxophone and clarinet players isn’t the best possible audience. For anything.

Sigh.

It was a lot of fun, though, it really was. I got to try out a few classroom management techniques that I hadn’t tried (one actually worked!) and the kids who were plugged into what I was saying made up for the ones who showed blatant disdain.

 

The clarinets were a real challenge – mostly because I’ve never played clarinet a day in my life, and had no real idea what to advise these kids about reeds or mouthpieces or anything else. I did have an answer for “should I march my wood clarinet or my plastic one?” and I was able to demonstrate perfectly appalling clarinet posture – largely because they’d demonstrated it for me a few minutes before, out on the field.

Fortunately, about a third of the kids were from my old high school, and I won them early on by evoking that whole “rah-rah, alma mater” thing at the beginning.

Unfortunately, I’d been told that these schools were “pro-Boise State,” and so brought some band logowear for prizes, and wore one of my staff shirts. As it turns out, there was a lot of anti-Boise State sentiment in that room, and at least one kid left his or her very nice BT hat lying on the ground when the clinic was over. 😦 They did seem to like the BT CDs, though.

I’m complaining, because I felt like it didn’t go quite as well as I would have liked, but I know I’m being a bit hard on myself. There’s only so much you can do with a totally “off” class, particularly when you have no authority.

Ryan and I were talking afterward, though, and we’ve got a great idea for next year! I hope that we get to try it.

Regardless of whether it went off without a hitch, it was a great experience – and hey, you can always use an extra fifty bucks. 🙂