Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Season With the Elizabethians

Have any of you watched the new Showtime series, The Tutors? Morgan and I have seen the first two episodes and are completely hooked. It seems like we've been inundated by the Elizabethans in the past several months. Morgan took an honors class covering the literature, art and music of the period. Since then we've been reading the excellent biographies by Allison Wier.

Even our fan-girl devotion to Sing has joined in our studies because of his album, Songs From the Labyrinth, a collection of the works of the Elizabethan composer John Dowland.

I've even managed to work my knitting into our interest thanks to Knit Picks. They had a great set of lace scarf patterns derived from Elizabethan fashions. I'm knitting the "Dainty Bess," which was adapted from an actual design in a pair of stockings belonging to the queen. I have to say, so far, the "Dainty Bess" has been kicking my not so dainty rear-end, but it is so exciting to see something of that time period come to life with just my two hands, yarn, and needles.

I think most parents try to imagine what kinds of people their children will grow to be. Having a child whose old enough and interested enough to share all of these things with is truly the most fun of all.

Dog and Cat

We had an interspecies incident last night. The cat decided to wage an all out attack on the dog. Triton was on my bed sleeping while I read. Pandora jumped up asking to be petted. Then, out of the blue, she decided she'd had enough of the poodle. She sank her teeth down on poor Triton's leg, wrapped all four of her little kitty legs around it, and bit and clawed her hardest. I could just tell she was getting out all her pent up frustration over months of dog stupidity. All of the butt smelling, the interruptions of cat naps, the monopolizing of the pet toys were going to be avenged.

What did the pup do? She lay there, watched, and wagged her tail in a friendly way. She thought it was some kind of idiot cat game and tried her best to play along. Their size difference is so great that the cat never even reached skin on the big dog. Pandora came away with a mouth full of poodle fur and nothing more. When she moved to leave, Triton scooped her back up with the same giant paw inviting her to play more. Oh, the cat was mad. She launched into another vicious attack, this time on the wagging tail. Triton didn't enjoy this nearly as much and moved out of the way. Pandora did a victory lap across the bed and left with her innate sense of superiority intact.

Now if I could only get the kids to work out their differences......

Monday, March 19, 2007

Saint Patrick's Day and Spring Weather

We knew we were definitely into spring last week when the big thunderstorms started. Last Tuesday, the wind was up to 55 miles per hour and hail slammed down on the house like thousands of bullets. I made the kids sit in the closet during the worst of it. We chose a house with lots of windows to let in the sunlight. But, but on bad days it makes almost every room in the house dangerous. The dog and cat went in with them and drove each other crazy. When it was over, I found most of the lawn furniture in the pool. Otherwise, there wasn't much debris., but seeing chairs sunk to the bottom was sort of creepy. The kids can't wait till it's a bit warmer and they're back in the pool. I'm going to have Triton clipped really close this week. It's so much easier to get her dried off after swimming, and she seems to enjoy the summer without so much fur. She's definitely shaggy right now.

Other than the storm, spring is very welcome. We had a quiet St. Patrick's Day, no green beer! Bill took the kids out to get a webcam. M. has to video some lessons for Texas Tech, and she seems to be looking forward to it. Today the sun is out and the weather is perfect. Our high is supposed to be 78 degrees. I'm really wanting to get some new flowers planted but can't seem to make time for it. Maybe I'll see if the kids will help this weekend. We have load of landscaping we want to do in the back, but I'm thinking our budget won't go much farther than having trees planted. It's amazing how much a small tree costs, and we need several for the back yard.

My part-time teaching job is going alright. I like the kids I'm working with, and it's good to know I can still teach. Now I have to work on getting my husband and kids to quit going out for junk food while I'm gone. If DH beats me home, they will all have eaten some sort of garbage for super. He calls from the car and takes orders for McDonalds, etc. I've made M. and B. promise to stop asking, but something tells me they aren't going to turn it down if he calls.

Sting Fact #5: The song, "Fortress Around Your Heart," from the Dream of the Blue Turtles, was the first Sting song I really noticed. I don't think it was ever released as a single, but I was struck by something in it. Sing made a documentary about the launch of his solo career called, Bring On the Night, and I found it particularly interesting to watch how this song was put together. He released one of his few live albums under the same title.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Daylight Savings Time

I hate moving the time around and often wonder what would happen if were all able to vote on this practice. In teaching, I've observed that young children really suffer by the time change. It may take two weeks for them all to be back to normal, and we do this to them twice in the school year. Why, at least, couldn't the time shifts happen when the children are out of school for the summer? This morning DH and I forced ourselves out of bed at are regularly scheduled time. But, I'm keeping the house quiet for the kids. Even the pets went back to bed. Pandora scolded me at length and then disappeared, while Triton is snoring loudly on the couch. If even the poodle and the cat find this mess offensive, why do we keep doing it?

M. is sick and on antibiotics for a sinus infection. She's been out of sorts for several days, and the doctor said it could be two or three weeks before the infection is gone entirely. I took B. to see the doctor during the same visit. He's been limping for a few days, and it doesn't seem to be getting better. She examined him and took X-rays. He's grown an inch in the last month, and his legs are uneven. I completely freaked out about the leg thing. We are going to see a pediatrician's orthopedic surgeon down at Texas Children's Hospital. Have any of you ever heard of something like this? I'm not sure what they can do about it or if there's a chance he will outgrow it. B. is mad at me right now because I won't let him go run around with his friends. The doctor is afraid that he could cause some kind of permanent injury. Who knows how long it will take to get an appointment with the surgeon. It could be well into summer before he has an opening. The boy is going to stage a revolt if I don't let him out of the house soon. Thankfully, it will be warm enough to swim soon.

Sting Fact #4: M. and I got tickets for the Houston concert too! We debated about this, since it is such an extravagance. If we'd known they were going to perform here, we wouldn't have bought the Dallas tickets. But now, we are going to see Sting/Police twice in the same week! We're pretty pleased with ourselves, and the poor husband suffers in silence.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Teaching Stories and More Sting

I am starting to get to know some of my students, and I really like them. My family laughs because it's nothing new. I'm continually amazed by watching a human beings learn. They come in not knowing how something works, what it means, or how to accomplish a task. We have class, and they learn. It's a miracle every time I see it happen. I come home with stories about all my genius students, all their accomplishments, the funny things they've said, the difficulties they've overcome. My family has heard it all before and mostly thinks I imagine it as all so amazing because I am a teacher. Is it really quite ordinary to everyone else?

I recall learning to do some things as being quite difficult. Long division, converting fractions to decimals, finding percentages, and diagramming sentences were all a nightmare to me. Then, I show the same skills to a student, a light goes off and they just know it. How is that not totally amazing? I found out last night that one of my 18 year old high school students is paying for her own tutoring. She isn't failing anything, but she knows she can excel. She thinks it's worth paying for out of her own small earnings from her part-time job. I wanted to cry. I would gladly have tutored her for free.

Sting Fact #3: Sting was part of the first series of READ posters published by the American Library Association. In his, Sting was posed leaning against a stone wall in period costume (18th century?) He held a book, I believe it was Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, and an English castle loomed in the background. There were a number of very fine posters in that first series, and I bought them all for our library. But, Sting's was my favorite and I hung it at the end of a row of stacks where it would face my desk. I later bought my own copy and kept it in my office throughout most of my library career.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Under Construction

We've been back home for well over a year now, but I still have moments when I'm struck again by how good it is to be here. I was out running errands before work yesterday and saw so much going on in our part of the city. First, spring is making itself known with beautiful weather, flowers and trees blooming everywhere, and gardeners coming out to plant on almost every street. We have some kind of flowering bush in our front bed. It was unremarkable last summer when it only had its leaves, but this spring it has these amazing red flowers. What a nice surprise. If I get the chance, I'm going to plant some begonias this weekend.

The amount of construction going on is absolutely crazy. I must have seen thirty different projects between here and the grocery store. This kind of thing used to bother me. It's loud, ugly, and gets in the way. But now I've seen what a town looks like when no improvements are made in decades. Today I took some pleasure in all of the widening roads, renovated businesses, and new buildings.

But then the road was blocked on the way to work, and I started to get very irritated. It is almost impossible to know which roads will be open and which will be closed on any given day. It makes every simple drive complicated and I never know how long it will take to get anywhere. When I finally made it past this particular bottle neck in traffic, I saw that the city utility folks were trimming trees near power lines, something so simple but so important. We were without power for 3 days in freezing temperatures back in West Virginia because this kind of maintenance isn't done. It snowed in mid October, the tree limbs grew heavy and fell on the lines. Here at home, I'd seen crews doing this kind of work and never even realized how lucky we are. I felt all enlightened yesterday, like in one of those movies where the wise Zen Master finally gets through to the student.

I work all week, and I'm starting to remember why it is so hard to work, have kids, and a home. My students are fun though. I also remember why I rarely knit unless I was on vacation. Teaching is exhausting.

Sting Fact #2: From the Dream of the Blue Turtles album there is a song called "Moon Over Bourbon Street." It is the last track on the record, and I went back to it several times. Something seemed very familiar about the song, but I couldn't place it. Finally I read the liner notes and found he based the lyrics on the novel, Interview With the Vampire. I was so excited, one of my favorite books set to music. I've never had a chance to see him perform this song live.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Don't Mess With My Bedtime!

I'm really awful about changes in my schedule. The same weakness irritates me in others, but I can't stand having my routine changed unless it was my idea. I worked late tonight and now I can't go to sleep. I should be home, have dinner, bath, quite time to read, quite time in bed with lights out to watch the evening news, and then sleep. this job has me doing things in the wrong order and now I can't sleep. Argh.......

I've decided to try and write one personal Sting fact per day between now and our big Police reunion concert in Dallas on June 26. This may be way more than you want to know. So, I'll either put it at the bottom of posts with other content, or warn you in the title that it is a Sing only post.

Here we go. Fact #1: The first album I ever bought was Dream of the Blue Turtles. It was still in the vinyl days. I never purchased any Police material until after the first Sting solo album. The song that made me want to buy the album was, "Fortress Around Your Heart."

More on this album tomorrow.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

No Knitting, No Blogging

I have been busy and very distracted this week. School is going well enough for the kids, and I'm getting a little better at working through the part-time job thing. But, everything seems rushed to me. I think I got very used to working according to my own time table or DH's work demands. He has had several very hectic weeks in a row at work. His boss is seriously ill with a rare form of cancer, and his group is trying to make sure she isn't working to much. They were getting ready for the next shuttle flight to the space station, which has now been delayed. I'm not sure it will make any difference in their workload though.

The weather damage to the vehicle is a huge disappointment for everyone. I heard a reporter ask, "Couldn't they have put the shuttle somewhere safe. Even I would put my car in the garage if there was a hail storm...." I wanted to cry. I suppose it isn't easy to get an idea of how huge the shuttle is or how dangerous and complicated it is to move it. The hail storm wasn't sending out announcements 3-4 days ahead of time saying it was on its way. Moving the shuttle,once it's ready for launch, takes time. We should know something more this week about the extent of the damage and what it means for the station assembly. If you want to know more about the work they are doing, go here.

Knitting and blogging have fallen off my schedule in the last few weeks. I miss talking with e-friends and having a place to note the interesting things going on. The kids like to read about the things we've done or are planning. I thought that working part-time wouldn't make much of a difference in all of these things, and maybe it won't once we get used to a new schedule. I'm working a couple of hours today. It should make much difference to my family as they have their own Saturday morning and afternoon plans. But, this is usually a time when a have an hour or more alone in the house. I'm going to miss that. I need to get my blog-rings all fixed, but I'm not sure what to do about that. Any of you that have switched sites have suggestions?

We did get our Police tickets on the first day of the presale. We'll be in section 111 row J on July 26! M. and I have been playing all Police cd's in preparation for the big event. There are quite a few songs I didn't know. My guess is it will be strictly "Best of..." stuff. In their press conference announcing the tour, Sing said they would not be performing any new material. (Yes, I watched the press conference. I've warned you all of my geek factor.) I know there are tons of people that are really excited about the reunion thing. I would have rather seen Sting with his own band. Dominic Miller and Jason Rabello are wonderful musicians and some of the other artists like Chris Botti and Branford Marsalis are amazing. Of course, it was always a privilege to attend a live performance with the great Kenny Kirkland. So, I guess we just have to give his exs a chance. ...