Thursday, November 15, 2007

Booking Through Thursday -- Power of the Pen

It's Thursday, so here's the question.

I’m still relatively new to this meme so I’m not sure if this has been asked yet, but I’m curious how many of us write notes in our books. Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?

I had to think about this question for a few minutes. The librarian part of me wants to tell you all to never, ever write in your library books. I have "Welcome to the Library/How to be a good borrower" lessons for everyone from preschool to PhD. and my first reaction was to say, "No, No, No!"

But the truth about my own books and even how I deal with books professionally is not nearly as simple. Visitors are very diappointed when they come in and see the sad state of my personal collection. Yes, I have more books than some small book stores. (I think I read Fahrenheit 451 at an impressionable age and have been hoarding books ever since. ) However, they are not organized, cataloged, or even shelved in some instances.

The real truth is that librarians are the least sentimental people in the world when it comes to books in general. It always shocks people that we actually throw books away/recycle the paper for a number of reasons. You would be
amazed how many people give us their books. They think of us a sort of like the animal rescue people only for printed materials. These are very often stained, torn, out-dated, written in, or not within the scope of the library's collection. Many are put promptly into the trash. I've decided we must be doing some kind of public service like providing a finial resting place for old friends.

Do I write in my own books? Yes. I put my name in my books because people borrow from me and don't always return my books. The name helps remind the borrower that they have my book. I have a nice little stamp and will stamp the book before lending it.

I also write in my Bible all the time. I take notes from sermons and/or Bible study, underline passages I want to memorize, etc.
I guess the Bible falls into a group of books I would consider workbooks. They are there to use in someway beyond just reading. I mark in knitting books to make adjustments to patterns or record problems in case I want to use a design again. Since we have a small copier in the house, I don't mark-up the actual books as much as I used to. I copy, write on it, and save the copy with the book if there's something I need to remember.

My copy of Lance Armstrong's two books,
It's Not About the Bike, and Every Second Counts are full of highlights and underlines. I even have post-its with more notes. I have read the books over again and sections over again. I struggle with a chronic illness and have found his observations on being a patient, being dangerously ill, recovering, etc. to be very helpful. Also, cancer has hit our lives hard so many times and his hopeful and courageous discussion of being a cancer survivor has changed my outlook enormously.

I don't often write in works of literature. I had to when I
was in school just to keep up with important points from lectures, studying for tests, ect. So my Riverside Shakespeare, my copy of Le Mort d'Arthur, The Canterbury Tales, etc. are all covered in student scrawl. It make it difficult to share my books with my kids. The marks and underlines are distracting to them, and they also want me to explain what I wrote and why. Often I don't remember. It could be something the prof. wrote on the board, a comment from a student, my own ideas for a discussion. Some of it is as foreign to me as it is to them. I can tune it all out because I understand the circumstances in which I wrote. Still, I might prefer a clean copy for general reading. Occasionally I will find something interesting among my scribbles but not all that often. I do have to say that I am quite attached to these books, marks and all. They are very much like long time friends that offer support and a sense of self.

I also take notes in poetry at times. Very often it is simply to remind myself of a word's meaning within the context of the poem or some other bit of information I'm not likely to remember the next time I read it. I sometimes underline passages I want to think about, ask someone else about, or memorize. My favorite poet is Gerard Hopkins. For those of you that don't read him, it takes some study and contemplation to read his poems. I love the metaphorical contemplation, his unique style, and the brutal honesty of his work, but it takes effort to really appreciate him. So, I have a "working copy" that is marked extensively. But, I also have a very nice hardbound copy that is completely clean. Reading from it can give me a fresh perspective, and it is also a copy I would lend to others. I almost never lend the books in which I've written. Either because the thoughts are private or because I think my marks would distract the reader or both. Writing in a book is something I do for myself alone.

The invention of the Post-It and having an in-home copier have definitely reduced the amount of writing I do in the actual book. I like it also because I can freely change what I've written or discard it all together if I want. I love having all of the choices on how I'll use/read a book. Oh, and e-books are even better!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Creatures of the Night!!!!

My kids are still very interested in Halloween. The boy's in it for the candy and the girl because it gives her an excuse to dress up. Billy, in case you can't tell, was a pirate. His sister selected his costume for it to coordinate with hers.

Who/what is she? Well, her costume has a long back story. She's obviously a member of the evil-undead. I believe she's a 250 years old British vamp. Why is her side-kick a pirate? Well in this particular guise, she is the famous pirate, Capitan Morgan.

Their father and I are a bit confused by this continued Halloween enthusiasm. I'm pretty sure we had completely stopped participation by middle school. Morgan goes with her brother as chaperon and to be admired in her costume. Then she demands some payment in candy. We have more leftover trick-or-treat candy than Billy has in his "loot," but they still admire the door-to-door candy.

Morgan says she intends to dress-up every year forever as it's her opportunity to let the goth-girl flag fly freely. Her brother sees the clothes as a means to an end, and a way to please his sister. I only got one picture of him before he ran away, but here's a couple more of Captain Morgan. I'm a terrible photographer and they were really so cute in person.

If she ever lets me, I'd love to post some of her vampire art. She likes the look of the Menga (sp) illustrations. She tells me she going to be the next Anne Rice but may do graphic novels.......... Got to admire a girl with a goal.

Later this month, we're going to San Antonio for a Police concert. She's got a new t-shirt from Fiction Plane, the opening band, that she wanted to wear. But, she very conflicted now because she loves this Halloween outfit. I told her I'm fine either way. I'm just lucky that someone else in the family actually wants to go with me, but I draw the line at going with a creature of the night. So the fangs and white make-up stay home. She's ok with that and should fit in with this crowd either way. All of the clothes in the pictures came from her favorite store, Hot Topic, and these kids wear their stuff year-round.

(I missed Booking Through Thursday this week. Our friend Elizabeth passed away and I wasn't in the mood to write. I loved the question though and will try to make it a post in the next few days.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Our Battle

Bill's former boss will die in the next few hours/days. She's battled a really deadly form of cancer for one year and four months. This lady is a proud woman who gave-up the whole idea of a family years ago. She didn't think there was a path for husband, children, and expert engineer.

The priest came a week ago Friday. According to her own DNR she is not receiving nutrition or hydration while in a semi-coma. This nightmare isn't new to us. We've lost a mother, a neice, a grandfather, two uncles and many cousins to cancer. What can we say now? F--k cancer. I hate it. I hate everything having to do with cancer. I think every man, woman and child in the world should be pissed off every time a human person dies from this sh*t.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Booking Through Thursdays -- The Rejections

It's Thursday and here's our question:

I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing. So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?

I routinely stop reading books that I don't enjoy. There are too many good ones to waste my time. But this question reminded me of a few notable rejections. Was there a pattern or consistent rationale? One trend is definitely my dislike of certain writing styles. I am annoyed by paragraph long sentences, lengthy descriptive passages which fail to move the narrative forward, and those books in which everyone is completely, hopelessly miserable throughout the entire work. Here are a few examples.

Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities
Faulkner: As I Lay Dying
James: The Golden Bowl
Larsen: The Devil in the White City
Joyce: Ulysses (This particular book was completely unintelligible for me.)

In an entirely different category are those few works that offend me in some way. I've had a few that surpassed my gross-out level, some that I've found morally or spiritually offensive, and a few more that were rejected for ethical reasons. I particularly hate being lied to and find myself easily irked by materials of a political nature or ill disguised propaganda tarted up to look like history, science, biography, etc. I read few autobiographical works by polititions. Books written by members of the press are often rejected as well. We've lived with our work prominently in the news long enough to know that much of what is reported is simply untrue.

On the basis of moral and/or spiritual rejections I can think of only one book, Anne Rice's Memnoch the Devil. I'm a huge fan of the Vampire Chronicles and have read all the other novels to the end. I'm not afraid of printed words and have a very open mind in terms of subject content for both fiction and non-fiction. For some reason this book just seemed wrong for me, and I decided to stop reading it about a third of the way through. I did cheat though and skipped to the end making sure Lestat survived. While my religious sensibilities were a bit shaken by the novel, my loyalty to the evil undead of Rice's universe remains. (I wasn't the only one to dislike the book and it is commonly called Memnoch the Doorstop among her fans.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Temperature Drop Today Bring Winter to Houston

The above is today's headline in the local paper. The report goes on to say:

A cold front began sweeping into northern Harris County this morning and thunderstorms began popping up as cold air headed for Houston. The front is expected to pass over Houston's Bush airport after 9 a.m. and drop temperatures in the area into the 60s by the lunch hour. Overnight lows into the lower 50s could persist through most of the week. The front brings not only thunderstorms but gusty northwest winds that could make the chill seem even worse . "The front will produce what would pass as a winter day in Houston," said Wong, a Bayou City native. Clouds that come in with the front are expected to persist into Tuesday and the high temperature tomorrow should remain in the 60s. Overnight low temperatures are pegged in the low 50s tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday night, according to the official National Weather Service forecast.

Yes, we are preparing for winter right now at my house. So far we have:

  • Turned off the air conditioner and ceiling fans
  • Put on pants instead of shorts
  • Put on socks
  • Turned on every light in the house because we're afraid of it being dark outside during the hours the sun should be shinning. I have a special light that will supply the needed components of natural sunlight and it's up and running.
  • Tried to find a sweater in case we have to go outside.... So far, we've only been able to find one ....

We'll be keeping our eye on the weather reports for the rest of the day just in case more drastic measures, such as putting on long sleeve shirts, are required. Otherwise, we're just trying to stay calm while facing the possibility of being slightly cold.

It is good to be home.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Live and In Person

This week's Booking Through Thursday is:
  • Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? Gotten their autograph?
  • How about an author you felt only so-so about, but got their autograph anyway? Like, say, at a book-signing a friend dragged you to?
  • How about stumbling across a book signing or reading and being so captivated, you bought the book?

I've been really lucky in meeting some wonderful authors. Library conferences are great because we always have guest authors. Arnold Lobel once spoke at a children's lit. round table. He had recently written his book of fables and spoke at length about the origins of fables, folktales, and nursery rhymes. He was kind enough to sign my copy of Frog and Toad Are Friends and included a lovely little frog illustration. On another occasion I was fortunate enough to meet Tomie dePaola. He as hilarious. He signed my copy of The Legend of the Bluebonnet. And on the Texas theme, I once attended a seminar with Robert Caro, the preeminent biographer of Lyndon Johnson. He spent more than ten years researching the first book, The Path to Power. We had the opportunity to discuss the rural electrification program Johnson put in place which began a boom in agriculture for impoverished west Texas.

A number of the good folks from JSC have written books. Michael Collins, Gene Kranz, and others. There are always heavily attended book sighnings for these things, and we try to make as many as we can. A few years ago Neil Armstrong was at JSC for some celebration. I wasn't invited, but a good friend was. When she met the great man himself, she was so overwhelmed that all she managed to say was, "Oh, my God, you're Neil Armstrong!"

Thanks for another great question!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fan Girls Again

I'm blaming a two e-friends for my ridiculous and besotted plan. They posted a few weeks ago that they were going to a Philli concert in the fall. I like these girls and am happy for them. OTOH I also had the dreaded SSE ... Serious Sting Envy... Then, Morgan tells me a San Antonio performance is on the tour now Crap, crap, crap. I wanted to go so bad. Morgan tempted me at every turn. Texas was the last performance on the North American tour. I went a whole month without buying the tickets.
Morgan gave me the two Fiction Plane albums, Everything Will Never Be OK and Two Sisters. We liked them both and were pleased to see the band's rapid progress. I found their blog to a link for a complete headline concert, here. I sent the link and Morgan replied with the Ticket Master link showing tickets were available. (VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Fiction Plane and its lead singer have a potty mouth. Don't watch the video if that sort of thing is hard on you.)

Bill and the boy declined to come with us to San Antonio. I could hardly blame them. I called my BFF to find out useful San Antonio info. She always knows this stuff. --------------------------------------------------------------

BFF: Yes, there are couple of great new places on the River Walk. When are you going?
Me: Two days before Thanksgiving.....
BFF: Without Bill and Billy?
Me: Uhhhhh, yes....
BFF: And why the hell are you doing this?
Me: Morgan and I are attending a concert. Bill and Billy aren't interested.
BFF: And you're telling me that the two of them don't even want to take a drive over there with you???????
(Note: She knows me too well. She knows I can't drive in the dark. She knows I don't like to drive on the freeway.)

Me: Bill's kind of fed-up with me right now and doesn't appreciate my,uh.. musical interests very much.
BFF: My God you're going to see Sting AGAIN aren't you. I thought that man went home.
Me: Yes, he went home, but he's coming back.
(Note: At this point my BFF starts to laugh so hard that she has to get a drink of water to keep from choking.)

BFF: Bill's jealous. You do know there was this whole thing about Sting in a whorehouse?
Me: Yes, Bill made sure I heard about it.
BFF: Because he knows you so want Sting, and you always have even though you try to act all intellectual and musician-like about it. You've taught Morgan to be just like you....(more laughing...)
Me: Hey, Morgan doesn't want Sting. He's way too old. I think she might like Joe a bit though. OTOH, she was way more interested in a couple of the librarians sitting behind us at the Dallas concert than any of the hot and/or old guys on stage.
BFF: Well, Morgan is unique and I would expect her to go her own way. I know you do too. Now, who's Joe, not one of the other two old guys? ick.
Me: No, he's the lead singer for Fiction Plane.
BFF: I don't know what your talking about, Donna. What's this got to do with your Sting crush?
Me: Joe's in the opening band for the concert.
BFF: You don't have a crush on him too, do you?
(Note: My daughter is watching me squirm. She's figured out what Suzanne is asking.)

Morgan: ...Shouting from across the room.... He's Sting's son, Suzanne!
BFF: Laughing, laughing, still laughing, even more laughing.
Me: OK, yes now we like Sting's son too. The band is really quite good ....
BFF: Stop, stop. I know why you're going. You don't have to tell me anymore. It's very good of you to take an interest in the man's children. Do you keep up with all of them, or only the singing ones? Just like the Von Trapp's.....
(Note: My BFF is sometimes a smart ass. She's the only person in the world who talks to me like that. It's part of her charm, most of the time....)

Me: Ha, ha. But, Bill's not happy with me.
BFF: Well he's wrong. I just read something about this in a magazine. We can all have one freebie.
Me: What, huh?
BFF: OK, you have a long standing Sting crush. Only it's never going anywhere. I love you sweetie, but we both know Sting's not going after you anytime soon. Also your love/lust/whatever isn't usually quite this much of a nuisance. I read in a magazine at my hair place that we should all be allowed a freebie. So there. You can be in love with Sting. He's your freebie.
Me: See, this is why I love you so much BFF.
BFF: We're soul mates Donna, you know
Me: Yes, yes we are and you are so perfect for me in every way. Now, I do have one question for you.
BFF: Johnny Depp and young Sean Connery. Good grief Donna, I can't believe you had to ask!
(Note: She's been a Johnny Depp girl since 21 Jump Street. The Connery thing is hard to argue with too.)

Me: No, Miss Smartypants that is not my question. What I want to know is exactly who's Henri's freebie??????????
BFF: Oh, no! No way! That is so not going to happen! He better not! You know good and well I meant it was a girl thing......
(Note: Henri is Suzanne's husband , and I laughed so hard I have to go get a drink of water too.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Booking Through Thursday -- Decorum

Here's our weekly question from BTT: Do you have “issues” with too much profanity or overly explicit (ahem) “romantic” scenes in books? Or do you take them in stride? Have issues like these ever caused you to close a book? Or do you go looking for more exactly like them? (grin)

Oh, I can't help but smile as I write. What a fun question and so perfect for Banned Book Week. I absolutely read all kinds of literature including some very naughty things. The discussion reminded me of the chief librarian at the local public library of my girlhood. She rescued me from all the "nice" books for good little girls. You know the ones
.... Black Beauty, Little Women, The Wizard of Oz, Nancy Drew. I did enjoy most of these works, but either ran out of things to read or outgrew them. Most of the older members of my family read two things on a regular basis, the Bible and the Dallas Morning News. Of course novel reading had always been held in suspicion by my good puritan ancestors.

The movie, Love Story, was tremendously popular sometime in my teen years. (I know yuck, but the overblown angst was powerful stuff back then.) I bought the Erich Segal
novel upon which the movie was based, only to have my mother immediately confiscate it. She thought there might be sexual content. The incident was huge with anger and frustration in my head. This was a devaluation of my own choices for my own thoughts and mind. I was then and remain certain that no other person should ever control my reading.

At the first opportunity, I went to the public library and read the damn book. This particular library has a few secluded window seats in quite places. My favorite was at the far end of a long row of stacks in non-fiction. Sandy, my librarian friend, stopped by to say hello that day, and I poured out all the frustration, determination, and furry. I told someone what I knew it meant to be me. My good librarian was calm and reassuring. After all, wasn't I making my own choice now? Wasn't this the very reason for having libraries and librarians? She assured me that my thoughts were mine and mine alone. The noble and honorable institutions which kept and organized our thoughts and ideas and the professionals who stood guard were there for me now and always. I could aspire someday, if I wished, to join Sandy and others in protecting these important rights myself.

Sandy casually mentioned having some other, rather fine literary works that might interest me. Specifically, Mr. Lawrence had written a novel which was both a great work of literature and thoroughly scandalous. The earlier, rebellious and angry me still wasted an hour or two on the unimpressive "love means never having to say you're sorry" drivel. Then, thanks to Sandy, I took home the lovely Lady Chatterley. My mother had no questions about books from the library, and I was free to openly read a book famous for its most definite sexual content.

Even without the naughty bits, this was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of book for me. I began to understand something about the real misery of the class system in England. I suppose we have families in the U.S. with pretensions to some form of pseudo-aristocracy. But, not much of that was around in Fort Worth. Also, I began to realize the enormous tragedy that was the "Great War." My brief education on the subject had been something like:

... Once upon a time a duke from a country I never heard of was shot. The Europeans all went crazy. Then American army in funny helmets came and fixed every thing. They were called Dough Boys and I don't know why. The End....

Why hadn't I known about all this pain and suffering? Why didn't I know of the millions of dead young men? Slowly I began to grasp something of the world the British had lost because of that war. Lawrence supplied an eloquent voice for this loss and brought me some understanding of their forever altered world. While the theme was new to me at the time, I would soon come to recognize it in dozens of other works in British literature. An entire culture died and passed through a point of no return. Decades later they still grieved its loss somewhere. While my mother worried about sullying my virginal thoughts, a world disappeared without my knowledge.

I've read all kinds of shocking and scandalous things over the years. Librarians aren't generally afraid of the printed word. But, I would have to say that very few novels have ever delighted, surprised, or enlightened me quite as much as Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Challenge Results and Roman Roots

The 25 comment challenge was a great experience. There are so many interesting people sharing all kinds of talents. It was made even clearer how smart these folks are when I made the commitment to leaving a comment. If you missed the fun yesterday, why not take the challenge now?

On the language front, we've started a new curriculum. English from the Roots Up presents the Latin and Greek origins of English words. I started exploring this idea for elementary and middle school instruction several years ago. Librarians have to decode specialized terms in science, technology, and even the social sciences quickly. S/he can't know everything, but must be able to find it. That means we learn loads of short-cuts.

When I started teaching elementary school I realized my students could use the same strategies to expand their small vocabularies. It was so much fun to hear a little third grader matter-of-factly point out a word's derivation from Greek/Latin. The adults in their lives didn't really know as much as they did, and it delighted them.

Later I began tutoring students in preparation for the SAT. These were usually kids who had performed poorly on the PSAT and were in need of remedial instruction. The commercial materials and systems out there are not very effective in teaching vocabulary. So, I went shopping for a way to teach what I'd learned through library work. The Lundquist work is about the best thing I've found. It's meant for use from elementary through SAT prep. The lessons can be made very simple, or extended to the point of building a basic Latin/Greek vocabulary. My kids love this stuff, and it's fun for me too.

Todays Word: feles -- Latin derivation of Feline....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The 25 Comment Chalenge

This is a great idea from Patrick's Place.

The idea is to give something back to all the great bloggers whoes work we enjoy. I'm guilty of reading through many of my favorite blogs without taking the time to let the writer know I appreciate his/her work. Mostly, I write to people I know through blogs or in person. The comment day is tomorrow. So, I'll be doing some writing. I hope to hear from you guys too.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Booking Through Thursday.

btt button

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

I have a friend whose son is dylexic. He has support through the public school, but his parents look for ways to supplement his instruction. This week I gave her two books.

Helping Children Overcome Learning Difficulties by Jerome Rosner
Dr. Fry's Word Sorts: Onsets and Rimes

I love the Rosner book. He was an advocate for research into reading problems back when very little was known about learning disabilities. I was fortunate enough to see him speak about five years ago during a dyslexia conference. Unfortunately, the book is out of print, but used copies are available from Amazon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Moths in the House


The cats found two moths in my bathroom last night. The bathroom is directly attached to the closet where the yarn lives. The moths were caught and eaten, but what do I do about the closet? Some of the yarn is in clear plastic boxes and bags, but some of it is stored in open containers. What do I do now? This is the master closet, so our clothes are here to.

Bill was all for going out and getting several gallons of mothballs. I don't want my yarn or clothes to smell and I'm worried about the cats. The kitten gets into everything and Pandora follows her to watch. I should have done something about this ages ago but kept putting it off.

Ideas anyone?

OK I'm back and have Googled. I've read that I should freeze and/or bake my yarn. Following that, I should but it in a very tight/small conainer with mothballs. Yikes! My sinus hurt just at the thought of the smell.

Iran ... ?

A fun part of home school is participation in important local events and the chance to view national current events as they happen.

Today we scheduled time to watch President
Ahmadinejad speak at Columbia University. The kids had been following the controversy concerning his visit with interest. We have Iranian friends. and the kids know what life was like for these folks before they immigrated to Houston.

Teaching about antisemitism, homophobia, sexism, and religious intolerance isn't always easy.
There are plenty of examples in our own neighborhood, but the children are sheltered from the worst of it. The biggest surprise for them was that President Ahmadinejad didn't look or sound particularly dangerous. He seemed sincere most of the time. They laughed aloud at his claim that there were no gay Iranians. Could anyone be taken seriously when they talked like this? It was amusing to them until they realized the question had been about the execution of Iranian citizens for their sexual orientation. Then came revelations... complaints against the Zionist State, assurances that Jews were well treated, insistence that the Holocaust required further study to find the truth, and assurances of the good fortune of Iranian women, and the justice of capital punishment for drug dealers.

We have a good friend who returned home to Iran for a funeral not long ago. At the airport wind blew her scarf off. Before she could retrieve it, two soldiers had her trapped and one pointed a gun at her head. Her husband covered her with his jacket while their eight year old daughter cried. She didn't speak Persian and didn't fully understand why it was so important that "Mommy dress like Grandma." Oh, a paradise for women.....

Have any of you read, Reading Lolita in Tehran?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Booking Through Thursday

This is a fantastic place to get ideas for new books. So, I finally decided to praticipate. Here's this weeks question:

Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially-sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .

I love
Jane Austen. When I'm in a great mood and have time to read, I'll pull out one of her novels. I think my favorite is Mansfield Park. The young orphan girl living with her snotty relatives and secretly in love with one of the boys she grew up with. I love it that Fanny writes stories and takes care of her family.

My favorite line from an Austen novel is spoken by Lady Catherine De Bourgh. She's furious with Elizabeth Bennet and her parting shot, "I take no leave of you Miss Bennet. I send no complements to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am seriously displeased."

Oh, to live in a world where something so simple would be considered a gave insult. It makes me laugh every time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Early yesterday afternoon we were warned that a tropical storm would make landfall about 2:00 am. We usually have more advanced warning, but this one caught us by surprise. The kids and I brought in all the lawn furniture and secured the windows. When Bill came home, we made plans to have the kids close by during the night in case of an emergency. But, by bedtime the storm was tracking well away from us, and we went back to our normal nighttime routine.

About midnight I woke up with no covers. I tried to pull them back but found them wrapped firmly around one of my children. I managed to free a bit bedspread from the kid cocoon and fell back asleep. Within an hour I was coverless again. When I sat up to try and unwrap the child my poor husband mumbled, "Is that one of the kids?"

"Yes," I answered wonder who else he thought it might be. No sweetie.... it's one of our neighbors.... I'm tempted to answer.

I looked down and saw why I had no chance of sleeping. Not only were the covers wrapped around the child but the dog and cat have staked out the lower half of the bed and aren't giving an inch. The dog looked up and me and snorted.

"Which kid is it?" the father asks while trying to unwrap the sheet. I started to scold him for not being able to tell his kids apart but realized I didn't know either. They are pretty close to the same size now and all I could see was the top of a head. I pealed back the sheet from the face and saw it was the boy.

We spent a few minutes trying to wake him up and send him back to his own bed. He was in one of those kid sleeps that nothing can penetrate and he's too big now for his father to pick him up and carry him. We give up and try to sleep with a 12 year old, a standard poodle, a tabby cat. It was a long night.

When he woke up this morning I asked my son why he was in the bed. He claims to have no idea. I'm guessing he was woken up by the rain and came in to tell us. I've got a major sleep deprived headache this morning but the boy is well rested and in a fine mood. Ugh...........

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


We have a new addition to the family. Here's Persephone. She is a rescue kitten adopted at 4 months old. Here she's 5 months old and very naughty. She appropriated the grocery bag when I got home from shopping. The vet reports that she may be a tabby/Bengal mix. The photo's were taken by Morgan.

Persephone was sick with a cold in the first few days after we brought her home. Thankfully, Pandora didn't get it. We took the kitten to the vet. right away and kept her separated from Pandora until she was well. The vet said that some kittens can get sick as a result of stress when the environment change.

As you can see, she is ruling the house now. Triton and Pandora are fascinated with her. Unfortunately they are also pretty banged-up. The adult pets are quite gentle with the kitten, but she plays rough. We've trimmed her nails repeatedly, but the other two have a number of nicks and scratches. Group pictures are pretty much impossible. They won't sit still long enough!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Return to Normal -- Maybe

After weeks fighting an upper respiratory infection, I seem to be getting better. I'm on another round of antibiotics, and the doctor has added Singular to fight off the cough I've developed. Hopefully, I'll be completely over this soon.

While I was down for the count, my family ran wild. Those three hooligans were living in the most appalling conditions. It makes a frat house look like a page out of Southern Living. The floors hadn't been swept or vacuumed, the bathrooms weren't cleaned, and the laundry situation was bad enough that I had to start a triage program.

There are four laundry baskets lined up outside the laundry room door like patients in the ER waiting room. .... clean underwear, socks, and towels; then machine washables, and finally .. if ever... hand washing. I finished off two loads yesterday and was just plain tired. I'd promised myself some time to catch up on e-mail and blogs, but I could hear the call of the washing .......................................

"Underwear, would you step this way please?" I ask. The other laundry all glares at me.

"I know Towels and Washcloths, it's been a long wait. You will be the next basket called." This pushy bunch whine that I'll be sorry when I want a shower. But hey, we all know that underwear trumps towels. "If I'm desperate I'll USE THE GUEST TOWELS" ..... Ahhhhh. That shuts those two up for awhile. Down the line another basket starts to whine.

"I'm very sorry Dishtowels, but you will have to wait for a separate wash. No, I can not squeeze you in with the underwear. We have health code standards." Dishtowel points to the mile long line of dirty laundry and smirks.

We're off to Math class for Morgan. Billy and I are doing the grocery run while we're out. I won't tell you the rude remarks coming from the pantry and refrigerator. It's best not to encourage them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Welcome Home Endeavour

What a great flight! Even with the early return, they accomplished all of their mission objectives. The classroom in space was wonderful.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Still Here

Well, we have evacuation plans in place, but it looks like we may not have to use them. The forecast for this hurricane have it going into Mexico. From the news this morning, it will hopefully going into a scarcely populated area. Even though hurricane season starts in early summer, the next 4-8 weeks are the worst of it. We have better plans in place now and hope we won't have to use them.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Next Week's Plans

There's a hurricane heading for the gulf. We've made arrangements to stay in Austin, not far from Henri and Suzanne. We will also be pretty close to Dr. S. The place takes pets and has 2 rooms. We will all have our cell phones with us and will check our e-mail.

For e-friends not having to deal with stuff like this, the hurricane evacuation planning takes several days. When the city attempted an evacuation prior to Hurricane Rita, a number of people were injured and a few were killed in the process. The people closer to the coast and withing the storm surge zone have to leave earliest. If this particular storm remains at a cat. 4 or grows to a 5 that will be us. The problem is compounded by the flooding in the city from a tropical storm last week.

Tomorrow we will clear everything out of the yard, put up a few of our storm shutters in strategic locations, and pack. We'll leave after rush hour Monday morning. All the predications seem to indicate we are safe. But, we won't make any decision until after the storm is in the gulf. The next month or two could be pretty hectic with this sort of thing. Hopefully we won't actually have to go this time. If we do though, it will be a good practice.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Arthritis As a Full Time Job

I've lost almost a month because of illness. I've been taking methotrexate since the spring and dealing with side effects. However, I was starting to see a little bit of improvement and thought it might be worth it. Not so much now. Two rounds of antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines, an inhaler, and two kinds of nasal spray and I'm just starting to get better.

I've stopped the arthritis medication all together. Sadly, I realized it was working as the joints have started causing trouble again. I'm taking InFeD injections for the anemia and the hematologist seems to think my immune system will improve when this is fixed. This is all so disappointing. Right now, being able to breathe seems a whole lot more important than being able to move.

So, there are weeks of summer that just didn't happen. One of the big reasons I've had for getting better has been to have fun with the kids and Bill. Here it is and my finger joints were vastly improved, writs, and feet too. But, I spent the time in bed instead of doing summer fun stuff. Now, there's a tropical depression in the Gulf and a Cat. 3 hurricane coming just behind it. Seems like that puts and end to summer. Discouraging.

Friday, July 13, 2007

What Was It Like When You Were A Kid -- Presidents Part 1

My kids ask us this all the time. I can't remember wanting to hear so much about my parent's childhoods, but this stuff fascinates my kids. When we were in Dallas, Bill wanted to take them to the site where the president was murdered. I really didn't want to go, but he thought it was important for them to understand it as part of their history studies. Surprisingly, the kids didn't get as much out of it as we did. We'd both been there before as visitors always ask to go. We cringe inside because this was so not a tourist thing to us, but we will take them. Anyway it's been a long time since anyone has asked.

We were there on a quiet morning and had the area mostly to ourselves. We were able to walk around, cross the street, walk up and down the length of the route and think about what we had lived through. I couldn't really make my kids see how close to home this hit us. Removed so far by time, this holds no real fear or sorrow in their hearts.

My own reaction surprised me. As I stood there I got angry for the very first time. When it all happened, we were terrified and then deeply grieved. Now I looked at the window out of which a gun had been pointed, saw the quite street that had been filled with neighbors that day, and really registered the wrong done to us all.

We also learned something new about the book depository. There is a historical marker which explains the history of the building itself. The depository was a municipal building constructed in 1901. This means it was built by someone in my family.

Our grandmother's family were all stone masons. They worked every turn of the century municipal project in the city, because they were the best. I don't know which ones would have worked on this building because there were dozens of them; great-grandfather, great-uncles, cousins, etc. I know most of their work, because they would point out the buildings and talk about what they had done. My great-grandfather loved to just drive around the city pointing to the family's work. He said they were "built to last."

Why didn't I know about this very famous building? I'm guessing they wouldn't have wanted to talk about it, wouldn't have wanted any of us to be reminded of it. But I stood there and read the plaque and knew for the first time. This made me so angry at the evil of the thing done here that I shook.

Another Texas historical marker down in the park area explained that this was the original site of the first settlement in Dallas. I didn't know that either. The park had been there long before the terrible events in 1963, but I never thought to ask why. So, school kids don't go there to picnic and learn about the history of the city. Families don't sit on the benches. Old men don't feed the birds. There was once a reflecting pool. It's been drained and stands as an empty white hole. It would have reflected the surrounding buildings and who wants that? Instead of park goers, there are conspiracy freaks prowling around with ghoulish glee, crawling across our childhood. A man approached with a lurid color photo showing the whole ugly thing, silently screaming its horror. The young wife crawling across the back of the car, the young leader gone. I asked the man why the hell he thought I would need his picture to know what happened in my own home. He retreated quickly, and my kids just looked at me wondering why I was so upset. They'd seen similar photographs their whole lives. Why so angry?

The kids were more interested in hearing about the family's work building the zoo, the red bricked streets in the historical parts of town and the university. They are fascinated by the mansions with their wealthy owners. All built to last.

I wanted to write about Lady Bird Johnson today but found I couldn't without thinking through this other thing first. I'll write about that sweet lady tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hating Dallas and Other Pastimes

One thing that unites most of the state of Texas is our hatred of the city of Dallas. All the major cities have a gentle rivalry. We compete over which city has the best food or music, which has the best rodeo, or even where the real cowboys belong. But almost everyone will agree that whatever good there is in any city, Dallas is not it. The only time the city starts to have virtues in our eyes is if we add non-Texas cities into the mix.

Our very short trip to Dallas and back has resulted in some very interesting discussion about the city to our north. My favorite encounter has to be the one Bill had with our friend and physician during his physical. Bill told the doctor he had just come back from taking Morgan and I to see the Police in Dallas. Our doctor became very upset.

"Why did Donna and Morgan have to see the police?" he asked. " Why the Dallas police of all things? Why did you have business in Dallas in the first place?" he wanted to know. " I would think you folks would know to stay away from Dallas. Was Donna hurt, or Morgan? Why wasn't I called before you all went off to Dallas of all places?????"

OK, so here are the two great things about that conversation. One, my doctor didn't have a clue that there's a band called The Police. Two, even when Bill explained it to him, he still thought it didn't justify a trip to Dallas. I also have to admire the nerdly complete lack of concern that he hadn't heard of one of the biggest bands from his young adulthood. (He owns a ranch in Round Top not far from Willie Nelson. I'm guessing he would sure know who that is.)

Another interesting conversation was with the very nice lady who is my usual cashier at Kroger. Bill and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up snacks for the drive. It was mostly junk food, and the cashier teased me a bit about it. When I told her we were driving up to Dallas, she completely stopped ringing up my order. Then she looked me right in the eye and with steely determination declared "I HATE DALLAS," while jabbing her finger in the air for emphasis.

I was so appalled that she might think that I was from Dallas that I quickly explained that I was from Ft. Worth and equally hated Dallas. She relaxed somewhat and nodded knowing that the people of Ft. Worth hated Dallas even more than it was despised by the good people of Houston. Like our doctor, she also stated flatly that we were wrong to go there. When I told her we were going to see The Police, and she answered that we should have stuck to seeing them in Houston. "Nothing good comes out of Dallas," she warned me ominously.

By the time we got home everyone had at least one, "This is why I hate Dallas," story. Even my very mild mannered and soft-spoken husband found himself in a hot dispute with one of the natives. Morgan and I, ironically, had a run-in with a traffic cop on our way to the concert. He had made some confusing hand directions and got really mad when we misunderstood him. We both apologized but he continued to yell as we stood on the curb in the rain.

I finally told him, "We're from Houston."

It worked exactly as I thought. He said he should have known that was what was wrong with us. Then, he looked me in the eye and snorted, "I ... Hate .... Houston!"

Sometimes life's funny that way.

(P.S. The photo above is from the Ft. Worth livestock show. At least twice a year they take some cattle through the city streets. I love it. Guess where I think the really cowboys live?)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Police Reunion Tour Dallas and Houston

After I've gone on about these concerts for weeks, we've finally done it. We saw the Police in both Dallas and Houston last week. The rest of the family is glad it's over and hoping we'll stop singing old Police songs every chance we get. Morgan and I definitely got a bit obsessive about the idea of getting to attend two concerts in the same week, but I think we're now bigger fans than ever. The concert in Houston on Friday was fantastic. We loved the Dallas concert Tuesday, but there were some pretty big problems. Most of the things we noted had been cleaned up on Friday, and we saw the band perform as they should. These are three gifted and experienced musicians who should be held to a very high standard. Friday, they began to approach that level of quality.

Here are a few of our observations.

Stewart Copeland is an amazing percussionist. We never really got it before we saw him live. This guy is so focused and dedicated, the perfect rock and roll drummer. He never overwhelmed the trio, as I thought he might and showed a mastery of timing and precision in the Houston concert that is unrivaled in my experience.

Andy Summers is a fine guitarist, but some of the problems we heard in the Dallas concert were, we think, a result of his rushing the beat and taking off on his own. He had some rather fine solos in which he performed magnificently in both concerts. , and his Houston performance was much tighter. I think, in part, this was because Stewart stayed very focused no matter what might be going on with the guitar, so Andy couldn't take them off. Andy had some amusing interactions with Sting and Stewart in both concerts.

Sting was energetic and in good voice at both concerts. However, we both thought he was much better in Houston. After seeing him so many times, we've concluded he is always better if he's been off the night before. When he's performing night after night, he falls into an kind of economy of working that is no doubt necessary. Having a chance to rest, he will inevitably come back with more strength the next night.

He danced and interacted with the other two band members on Friday in a way that gave them more of a feel of a band than just three guys playing together. We sat close enough to see a few interesting things on Friday as well. Sting broke a string toward the end of the evening. Morgan was quite impressed in how he adjusted and continued to play. We both winced too, knowing how much it hurts to get hit by a guitar string. When they came back for the first encore, Sting had put on a jacket. We thought he may have been hurt. Cuts from a string hurt like hell. Then Andy went to the final song on the first encore early and again we wondered if it might be because of an injury, but they came back strong for Next to You, the final song. On the way off the stage, Sting thumbed his nose at Andy. I don't know if it was because of the confusion at the end of the first encore or something else entirely. I've never seen Sting work so hard. In fact, it's the first time I've seen the effort really show on him physically. By the end of each concert, I thought the three of them had gone as far as they could go. The last song was one of the best, but the strain on their faces was clear.

I've read some reviews which complained of the ticket cost. It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't more than we are accustomed to spending on an important concert. We might very easily pay the same price to see the Houston Grand Opera or the Ballet. I guess the value question is really up to the individual. Tonight, all four of us are going down to Galveston to see the tribute band, Killer Queen. These tickets are only $15 and we can just go home if it's not any good. They are supposed to be one of the best, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to watch someone else look and sound like Freddie for any of us. Over the years, I've sort of trained myself to forget that he's gone when I listen to their music. Morgan was put out over the Queen with Paul Rogers tour for much the same reason. So, we'll see.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Morgan's Music

When I was expecting my daughter I read an article suggesting that pregnant mothers sing to their babies. That way the baby would hear and recognize comforting sounds after she was born. I loved the idea and found about 12 songs I thought would be perfect. The Yellow Rose of Texas was on the list, but I also pulled out sheet music and shopped for more so that I could play the piano for her as well. I sang for her any time I was alone for most of the pregnancy. The advice turned out to be very helpful as she had colic and need the comfort of music and moving.

I sang her our baby songs but soon needed more. We started singing every song I'd ever known and some we made up. Before she could walk, we started playing piano together. Once she was able to get up to the piano on her own, she started to work out little bits of scales and simple melodies like "Twinkle, Twinkle..." This picture isn't very good, but I had the chance to take it one day while she was busy playing and didn't know I had the camera. In it she's two years old.

I didn't know she was unusual until she started kindergarten. Her teacher asked about her "music studies" in our first parent/teacher conference. Bill and I didn't know what the woman was talking about. She kept insisting Morgan was receiving music/piano lessons and we both said no. Finally, I described the kinds of fun things we did at home thinking there must be lots of kids who did the same things. Her teacher had a certification in music and felt Morgan was very gifted. I was so proud of her, but still thought her interests weren't all that unusual until our son was born and I got to know a child with other interests and passions.

We talk about our Scottish heritage often in our family. These people were highlanders. All hard working, serious, courageous, and pious, the Scots define us. But the other Celts, our Irish ancestors, have given us magic. This is my father's family, full of music, stories, art, dance. Full of what they'd call Blarney. They are all musicians in one form or another. (My dad had a rock and roll band during the 50-60's) They all play piano and sing. Many of them play several instruments and can't get together without eventually dropping everything to make music. These people share the stories of fairy rings and superstitions, stories of dancing girls with red hair and green eyes. These other Celts that gave us music are part of what makes Morgan so very wonderful.

Here's a picture from Tuesday night. We went to Dallas to see the Police reunion concert. The highlight of the night for me was Morgan's company. She sang and danced, laughed and cheered, clapped and stomped her way through the concert as if she were made to be wrapped in music. She made insightful comments on the performance, noted things she thought could be improved, and made friends with the row of librarians sitting behind us exchanging e-mails with one when it became clear they had many common interests. We are beginning to know the woman our daughter will become and are delighted by her. She is kind and generous, funny and smart, and magical. We're going back tonight for the Houston concert. She says she thinks this one will be even better because we will be at home. I'll write more after the concert.

(PS The black hair in this picture is from a bottle. She decided to dress up for the concert and wanted to change her hair too. She looks great, but I walked right by her in the crowd without recognizing her on Tuesday night!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Jedi Carry No Spare Change

On occasion, teaching my own children gives me delightful glimpses of their thoughts and character. One of our favorite parts of learning together is having the time for real conversation. So here's a fun one from last week.

We were engrosed in a fairly deep, or so I thought, conversation about freeing oneself from the past to make one's own future. Since we are also total nerds, the philosophical merged naturally with the geekly and landed in discussion of Anakin Skywalker's decent from Jedi Knight to the Sith Lord. Yes, we really did have a very deep discussion of past and future running alongside our opinions of how Anikin Skywalker's life went so terribly wrong.

My son, sometime into the discussion, became quite solemn. He listened carefully to Morgan's insights and even looked up a few facts in one of our many "Guides to Star Wars." Suddenly he held up his hand to silence all further conversation. He sat-up straight, and told us both, very seriously, "I know exactly why Anikin turned into Darth Vader."

"Why?" we asked. I waited eagerly to hear what he had to say. He looked into my eyes and, with a gesture of his hand looking very much like Obi Wan, he said, "A Jedi carries no spare change." Morgan and I nodded along, quite impressed. Yes, a Jedi must free him/herself from worldly concerns, from the past, from personal attachments. We were very excited at the metaphor of "spare change" and thought it well represented all of the entanglements which destroyed the young man. We talked of the man's fears and how these were used against him and how we too have the experience of being limited by fear. At the end I was delighted, feeling very satisfied with the youngest child's progress. I found his ability to appropriate images from a modern repackaging of the heroic tragedy and use them meaningfully was quite impressive.

Then I shared the wonderful story with my spouse. He stopped me saying, "I've heard his idea about Anakin before. " I prattled on awhile more and he said, "Yes, yes, I know he's concerned that the Jedi didn't have any extra emergency money."

"What??? He didn't mean that the Jedi needed more money. He was speaking metaphorically. The "change" was a representation of how our past can drag us down. You just don't understand, husband. My boy's a genius; nerdly as we all are, but a genius." (I glared some at that point and gave him the teacher stink-eye."

"Ask him," was his arrogant reply. I did.

The boy's not a philosopher blending modern and ancient mythology into a metaphor for our own lives. The boy's a capitalist. He really did mean the Jedi should go about with more money. In that way, Anakin could have bought his mother out of slavery. She wouldn't have died. He wouldn't have descended into that whole "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side" thing because he could have bought himself out of the problem. My son. Not a good Scots for nothing.

Happy Father's Day weekend. There will be large amounts of beef in our celebration, but otherwise I'm not sure. I'm up to the full, horrible, deadly dose of methltrexate now and will likely be in the fetal position on the bathroom floor for about 48 hours, but I did find a cool gift. Hopefully wondrous combination of cool gifts and food will compensate for my lack of visible signs of life.

Gratuitous Sting Trivia: This time two weeks from now, we will be seeing The Police in concert for the second time that week. Morgan and I are totally obsessed. My new favorite Police number is Next to You from Outlandos d'Amore. I wouldn't have tolerated this song in my teens, but Morgan has had her way with me and I'm more and more open to the loud boy rock star stuff.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Girl Drama

We canceled all of our premium cable channels several years ago. We had HBO and there was some serious sex and violence. I found out on late night that they show some serious porn. I have an adolescent boy and don't want him getting the wrong idea from the porn. So much of it is female exploitation that we just don't want him getting into this mind-set.

But, we got HDTV in February and upgraded our cable service. We went with Showtime because they had the new series on the Tutors. (Yes we are geeks, get over it.) We found some other wonderful stuff too. There's a police procedural "Dexter" with the most amazing twist. I won't give it away, but it is so worth it. Then I started watching "The L Word," and got completely addicted. They are showing season four, and I watched it all in two days. Then Bill got the earlier seasons from Blockbuster for me. I've just finished season two, and boy did I have the wrong idea about some of these characters. Those women are so not in the same place now where they were in the first two season. TV just never takes the time and effort to do this kind of character development. Bill won't watch it with me because it's a "chick show, " and I can't let the kids watch it with me. Even so, I'm a huge fan-girl now. Even though I enjoyed the show, I pretty much figured all the huge drama was strictly "tv magic."

Here's what I found in the last week. There are straight women out there with crap going on that makes the stuff on "The L Word" look like a women's Bible study group by comparison. There's such a generation gap between me and all the females under 30. Way back in the olden days, when one of us was having a problem we all got together drank ourselves sick, told evil stories about every man we'd ever known, and went home to kick our husband's ass just for good measure. Evidently now, we vent our frustration and disappointment on each other. WTF? We're supposed to gather as sisters, drink, eat ice cream, and trash every man that ever lived. If we're feeling really low, we play the blues. But, the men are the enemy, and we hurt them hard.

I've never been on the receiving end of the "hell hath no fury" stuff before. When I got home, I shook my husband's hand and thanked him for 32 years of taking my crap. I don't know how they do it: PMS, we kick their ass; bad day at work, we kick their ass; we're worried because the dog is sick, we kick their ass. Holy crap! The man has lived with this s*%t for 32 years. I don't even want to think about what happens when two women in a committed relationship need to vent on someone. Oy!

Gratuitous Sting Trivia: This is a cross post as I left it as a comment on Isorski's Musings, but here goes.

I heard about the unplugged work (for the Police reunion) too and am totally excited I've often wondered why Sing never went there. He could so kick Clapton's ass in that venue. At his first solo concert, here in Houston, his first encore piece was "Message in a Bottle." He came out in total darkness, then bamm, he's standing there, alone, stripped down to nothing but a pair of black pants and black army boots, with an acoustic guitar and a single spotlight. (Yes ladies, I said stripped down to nothing but his britches.) I was totally blown away. There has never been a rock star, in my experience, perform with that level of virtuosity. I was more impressed by that single song than by the entirety of Plácido Domingo's performance as Othello.

New Setlist from Isorski:
Set List:
--Message in a Bottle
--Synchronicity II
--Spirits In The Material World
--Voices Inside My Head/When the World is Running Down
--Don't Stand So Close to Me
--Driven to Tears
--Walking on the Moon
--Truth Hits Everybody
--Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
--Wrapped Around Your Finger
--The Bed's Too Big Without You
--Murder By Numbers
--Dee Doo Doo Doo Dee Da Da Da
--Invisible Sun
--Walking In Your Footsteps
--Can't Stand Losing You/Regatta De Blanc

encore one:
--King of Pain
--So Lonely

encore two:
--Every Breath You Take
--Next To You

Friday, June 08, 2007

More Sting Than You'd Every Want, The Joys of Arthritis, Atlantis Launch and Hubble

For the one or two e-friends who actually care, go Isorski's Musings for a great review of the Police tour and an updated setlist. It was cool to hear from a real-live musician about the concert. Morgan continues to master the guitar bits for all the songs on the setlist and even Billy has started singing. He's growing into a lovely tenor. All the Irish side of the family are musicians, but my poor geekly rocket scientist husband is tone deaf. It's a thrill to be back to living in a house with real musicians. I got out my clarinet Thursday night, and Morgan and I jammed on guitar, piano, flute and clarinet until about 3 in the morning. We are so psyched. Those of you who visit me for other stuff, hang in there. It will all be over at the end of June.

I'm on my second week of methotrexate. I've stopped the oral iron, but I'm still sick as a dog. I'm so praying it's not the methotrexate. I got an anti-emetic from the hematologist that's doing the iron injections. It's helped some, and he's got other treatment options since he's primarily in oncology. Maybe I just need some time for the damage done by the oral Fe to heal? There's an option to get the methotrexate by infusion, so I could try that if the oral med. is the cause of all the nausea. So far, the only thing that's made a dent in the pain is the prednisone and narcotic pain medication. Neither is a long-term solution.

Please take a moment today to pray for the Atlantis crew, the beautiful vehicle, and the success of our mission to further the construction of the International Space Station.
To the left, the crew of STS-117 pose for their official portrait. From left: Expedition 15/16 Flight Engineer Clayton C. Anderson, mission specialists James Reilly II, Steven Swanson, Commander Frederick Sturckow, Pilot Lee Archambault and mission specialists Patrick Forrester and John D. Olivas. (Image credit: NASA) These good people are our neighbors and coworkers willingly putting themselves in harms way to serve their country and further the progress of science. This is a scary launch for me because of the hail damage done to the external tank. NASA believes this has been resolved, but we are in uncharted territory. We didn't have the luxury of swapping out the ET because of the damage done at Stennis Space Center during Katrina.

I'm afraid that the rollback of this launch has pretty much doomed the possibility of a Shuttle service flight to the Hubble before her orbit begins to decay. For so many of us, she's a dear friend and represents a lifelong dream. We hate the idea that she will meet her end breaking up on entry. She deserves better. NASA hasn't made any kind of announcement canceling the service flight, but we have a very limited time frame to complete the station assembly, and a delay in any launch means we will have to establish priorities. To the right, "Pillars of Creation" columns of cool interstellar hydrogen which will be the incubators of a new star systems. Released in 1995, this is a Hubble image of the "Eagle Nebula."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Police Reunion Set List

Like the good fan-girl, I've been stalking Police sites for a setlist. So here's the one from their premiere show! There are a few sunrises and disappointments, but it could certainly change by next month. The reviewers report that the set was 2 hours long and was absolutely flawless. Three seasoned musicians revisiting a body of work from their youth, sounds like the makings of a great concert.

The Setlist:

Message in A Bottle
Synchronicity II
Don’t Stand So Close To Me
Voices Inside My Head/When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around
Spirits in the Material World
Driven to Tears
Walking on the Moon
Truth Hits Everybody
Wrapped around Your Finger
The Bed’s Too Big Without You
Murder By Numbers
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking in Your Footsteps
Can’t Stand Losing You
King Of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take
Next To You