Monday, March 31, 2008

Travel Adventures with Cliff and Jen

So I have an upcoming work trip to Hawaii. [Please, dry your tears. It's a hardship, but I'm willing to suck it up and take one for the team.] Cliff (TH) will be joining me for part of the trip. I have the day off today, and I'm just settling down for a long morning of DOING-ABSO-BLOOMING-LUTELY-NOTHING when he calls with some interesting news. Apparently Aloha Airlines is going out of business as of today. And what is our airline for our return flight? Why, yes, however did you guess - Aloha Airlines. So we scramble around and get TH on a new return flight, and I call the travel agent who's arranging my flights. We have to pay an extra $200 because the flights are a different cost than the original, and there's no arrangement between Aloha and other airlines to honor previous prices. Good times!! And another story to add to our travel adventures. If this keeps up, I'll have to write a book. Aahh, the cost of travel. Yup, it's tough to be us.

Every now and then...

There are good days, bad days, perfect days, "ehhh" days, and every now and then, a wonderful day. Yesterday was a wonderful day.

I became a deacon this year, in January, but due to our cruise, I missed the ordination service. It was rescheduled for yesterday. As a surprise, my brother (a pastor) came to help officiate. Wonderful!! I so wanted him to be there, but with three small children to corral and a church to run, it's usually impossible to organize his presence unless it's at his church. So having my parents and my brother there was wonderful. I did miss my sis-in-law and the girls, but it's tough enough to get them all ready for an ordinary day...much less something unusual.

Since I had my parents to myself all day, I decided to take advantage of my mom's knowledge and we set up a beautiful front porch. I am no gardener, but my mom and my sister-in-law are. Having previously brainstormed ideas with them, I had a sense of what I wanted to do. I'd also been looking at outdoor furniture for weeks and trying to decide what to do. My dad's job was to decide which chairs were comfortable. Oh, and to name our new garden friend.

Here is the result:

Chairs and table, Pier One. (Chairs were on clearance for $45!)

Pots and flowers, Lowe's.Table top detail. Love it!

A garden that attracts a gnome (Meet Norm, everyone): Priceless.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I love a good challenge

This one is not for work. Well, it is, but it's nothing to do with students. I bet my coworker Jamie that I could find her a classsic, warm, pretty black cardigan that will be better than her old go-to. She is reluctant. I am determined. May the best sweater win!

Will this be the one??

What about this one?
Hee hee...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

If it wasn't him, it would be someone else. Or, lessons in acceptance.

Remember when I said that this Spring would have a challenge in the form of a repeat of last Spring? Yeah. I called it. I've been struggling with my reactions to a difficult student, with whom I've had the pleasure of working for a few semesters now. This guy is a piece of work. But as I was thoughtfully considering how best to serve him (my nice way of saying 'trying to quit obsessing over how he is making my work life a living hell'), I realized a couple of things. I would like to share them with you now. Ahem.

  • If it wasn't him, it would be someone else. By which I mean, there will always be a difficult person to deal with, whether a client or a coworker, and unfortunately we just don't live in a world in which people act the way we want them to. [And sometimes, we are someone else's difficult person. Wow. Maybe that should actually be its own thought.]

  • This is the job. By which I mean, his antics, charming and time-filling though they may be, are not keeping me from doing my job. This is the job - simultaneously multitasking the needs of all my students, employees, and coworkers (not to mention myself), with the needs of a few "difficult" folks.

  • What a great learning experience. By which I mean, there is always something to be learned. A wise field study supervisor told me to be glad for my "difficult" clients, as they would ultimately be the ones to teach me the most. Hmm. While still not convinced, I do have to admit that by trying to crack the code of this guy, and by trying different patterns of problem-solving, and by working on my own reactions, I really am learning a lot more than I would with 10 of my "easy" people.

  • Just do it. My apologies to that large company that manufactures overpriced sporting goods for borrowing their old marketing phrase. What I need to stay focused on is doing my job. This means, acting with integrity, maintaining appropriate boundaries, continuing to work for student success, supporting my employees, and consulting with my coworkers for help. Do it.

I would love to hear from others about their experiences with difficult people at work. Do you get better at it? Or do you just learn to look at the bright side? Or do you develop eye twitches and nervous fits of laughter? Not that that's happening to me. Just wondering.

Anyway, I'm feeling drained and our cupboards are full of girl scout cookies, so no Bake Night tonight. I will now curl up with a good book. With no difficult characters in it. Ha.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Wake me up when it's time for "So You Think You Can Dance." Thanksszzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thank God Lent is over

Probably this is not the most mature response to the period of self-reflection that is Lent. However, I've had my eye on these cool-looking books from and it was all I could do not to't-really-count-right-until-I-hit-the-order-button. But! I restrained myself. Until Easter Sunday, when I promptly sat down and ordered the suckers.

I'm pretty sure it's OK to not be mature all the time.

For the record, I still have 12 books waiting for me to read, from my collection before Lent started. I think this is about half of what I started with. Yet, I still feel the urge to buy books everytime I see a bookstore. I guess there's still some work to be done. Mmm. Later.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Feeling springy

The sun is shining, the trees are blooming, and my nose is running (allergies!). Yup. Spring has sprung.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!

The crux of the matter, if you will.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. -- Luke 24:1-12

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. -- Ephesians 2:4-8

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then shall I know fully, even as I am fully known. -- 1 Corinthians 13:12

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, he has risen!

He has risen, indeed. Happy, blessed Easter to you.

Easter Delights

From scratch blueberry muffins for TH. Happy Easter!

I think Leonard Pitts is great (#2).

His perspective on Obama's speech.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is odd for me. Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus, and Easter commemorates his resurrection. But the in-between commemorates...waiting. I have yet to find a spiritually satisfying, yet still practical way to spend this waiting day. It would be cool to spend it fasting, praying, and silent. Usually I spend it as I would any other Saturday - errands, housecleaning, etc. It's especially odd when the beauty of the weather doesn't match the solemnity of the day. And usually this Saturday is when Easter egg hunts are scheduled.

The incongruity of faith and everyday life is an ongoing struggle for me. How about for you? How do you celebrate the sacred in the midst of the mundane?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A bit of All-right

TH, who usually does all the cooking, has left me alone tonight to fend for myself in the kitchen. The result:

Not bad. Chicken breast (or part of one, in this case), baked with parmesan cheese and Italian bread crumbs, egg noodles, and broccoli. With a little butter on the noodles. And the broccoli. OK, more than a little. A girl has her vices...egg noodles with butter is one of mine. It could be worse, right?

Disability is not the same as Inability

Good article. Not to mention an interesting other side to the whole NY scandal.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Book Review

I just finished one of the most captivating, suspenseful, creepy-in-a-good-way, spine-tingling, page-turning books!! Wow. I couldn't put it down.
"This is the story of how as a girl of sixteen I went in search of my father and his past, and of how he went in search of his beloved mentor and his mentor's own history, and of how we all found ourselves on one of the darkest pathways into history. It is the story of who survived that search and who did not, and why. As a historian, I have learned that, in fact, not everyone who reaches back into history can survive it. And it is not only reaching back that endangers us; sometimes history itself reaches inexorably forward for us with its shadowy claw."
-- Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian, c2005

There are actually three stories being told (at least! possibly more). One is the narrator's story of finding out pieces of her father's past. Another is the story of her father's past, itself. A third is interwoven throughout, as the story of Draculya.

Yeah. Vampires. Spooky. But lots of history, and the characters travel all throughout Eastern Europe, and the people are intellectual, tragic, curious, courageous, determined, and fascinating. Good, good, good writing.

Lazy Bake Night

When TH and I went to the store this weekend, I was hungry. Do I need to state the obvious about what happened? So I saw this mix and thought, mmmmm...

So, so easy. It almost doesn't count.

While they were baking, I practiced my piano. I'm enjoying myself, but I find it tough to change habits and include practice time in my day. Luckily I'm intrigued by learning bass clef, and that's keeping me focused.

Yum. Can't wait to share these with my coworkers, after the week we've all had!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ryan Seacrest is a putz.

I mute him when I watch American Idol. Bring back Brian Dunkelman!!!

That's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No students were harmed in the making of this day.

I've had a pretty crummy day, what with one student after another missing obligations, not taking responsibility for themselves, asking me for things I can't provide (and have already told them I can't provide), giving me crappy excuses, and in general, just being the flawed, human beings that we all are. It's not the full moon, and the weather is gorgeous...hmmm, must be midterm fever. The plague that affects all college students when they realize they're halfway through the semester and now must WORK THEIR TUSHIES OFF. Panic inevitably sets in.

Like all things though, this too shall pass. I already had half a beer and sat in the sun with my book when I came home. Right now TH is making balsamic chicken with mushrooms, risotto milanese, and sweet tender peas. And there's always more Ben and Jerry's for dessert. And American Idol.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday night and all's well

Lest you think I'm all about the sweet tooth, I do sometimes get creative in the kitchen with cooking. Behold tonight's din-din:

Linguine, scallops, onions, garlic, sweet peppers, mushrooms, white wine, butter, and a little olive oil. TH helped me through some of the finer points (searing the scallops, deglazing the pan, opening the wine). He's the real cook around here, but Sunday nights are usually DIY/scrounge.

This weekend has been wonderful. TH and I spent a lot of time together after not seeing each other much over the last week due to meetings, rehearsals, so on. Saturday we tackled some household chores, then went our different ways to run errands. I had lunch at Adalberto's, a hole-in-the-wall Mexican chain that is cheap, fast, and so good. I had to return an item from the shopping marathon last weekend, and picked up a couple of classic pieces in its place. When I got home, we went for a bike ride around the neighborhood. The weather is classic Spring - windy and mild, in the 70's. Today TH sang a beautiful solo in church. After, we grocery-shopped and did some housecleaning, and I tackled a painting project while TH snoozed. I've had the windows open wide all day, fresh air and sunshine filling the house. Then, tonight - the aforementioned pasta, some Yo-Yo, and an excellent book.

Oh, and best of all (I guess I am all about the sweet tooth): I found a new Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor. My new favorite: Creme Brulee. Oh. My. God. Heaven on a spoon.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


I don't generally go for horoscopes, but I like to read them. I find them either absurdly generic: "Try not to offend anyone today." Or, random: "The stars predict an increase in the intensity of your emotional life." Occasionally, I'll find one that I like. Here's an example.

"It's time you acknowledged that you are a miraculous work of art, a masterpiece unlike any other ever created. I'm not pandering to your egotism by telling you that. When I say, "Be yourself," I don't mean the self that wants to win every game and use up every resource and stand alone at the end of history on top of a Mt. Everest-sized pile of pretty garbage. When I say, "Be yourself, " I mean the self that says thank you to the wild irises and the windy rain and the people who grow your food. I mean the self who's joyfully struggling to germinate the seeds of love and beauty that are packed inside every moment. I mean the spiritual freedom fighter who's scrambling and finagling and conspiring to shower all of your fellow messiahs with your best blessings."
-- Rob Breszny, as printed in SN&R 3/6/08

Cool, huh?

Plus, any horoscope that can use the word "finagling" successfully, deserves some props.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bake Puzzle Night - Or, into every baker's life, a little resourcefulness must be acquired

So I'm trying this Weight Watchers recipe for Lemon-Poppy Seed Crisps. Sounds easy, I've got the ingredients. Then the dough ends up looking like this:

Not right, yeah? So I go online, trying to find the recipe or at least one similar. No luck. "Grandma," I say, "What should I do?" And I get the answer. It seems strange that there are no eggs in this recipe. And, unlike other recipes with no eggs, there is not a lot of moisture from other sources. Hmmm. So I put the laptop aside, get off my tush, and go and add an egg. What can it hurt, right? For good measure, I squeeze in some lemon juice. Mix it up, and get this:

Ah, looks much more like cookie dough! Now, time to roll it out. Wait - do we still have a rolling pin? And where is it? No matter, I'll use a glass. And the dough is a little sticky, so into the fridge it goes to cool off. Guess it's time to check the gossip sites. Back to the baking in a mo.

Taking a peek into the oven...

I think it worked...they taste OK...could have used more lemon juice, or lemon extract maybe...not my worst cooking disaster, but not my best effort. They look pretty - I love lemon zest.
I'll take them to work and see what the crowd thinks. Now, time for American Idol elimination night!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

I have had a wonderful birthday so far this year. I got to spend time with friends who appreciate me for me, with all my quirks. I go to go shopping, an activity I love. I got to eat good food and chocolate cake. I got to stay up late and talk trash about celebrities, and the exploits of the girls on SATC. I took the day off yesterday and spent it all with TH.

35 years old. It feels strange. I feel more confident, more me than ever. I hope I'll feel these even more at 45. I'm living the life I always wanted: good job, with great coworkers, enough challenges to make it interesting, but not so much responsibility that I lose sleep; happy marriage; a house of our own; travel; good health. After the turbulence of the last few years, and the hindsight of the years I have so far, it feels really good to be sure of this life and my happiness with it. Truly, nothing is lacking.

In the next phase of my life (could be one year, could be five), I'd like to:

  • Keep working at my current job. I have no big plans for new work or big promotions - I think I'd like to keep tinkering at my job and get better at it.

  • Travel more. We're looking at Galapagos in 2010, maybe Europe again in 2011.

  • Learn another language. Spanish, French, or ASL (American Sign Language) come to mind.

  • Think things through before taking action or speaking.

  • Maybe start running or swimming regularly. Maybe.

  • Clear out the clutter of my life: books, clothes, STUFF. On a regular basis. Once every 6 months. Hmm.

  • Get outside more.

  • Eat vegetables at every lunch and dinner.

  • Utilize the public library more than

  • Sing every day, even if it's only in the shower.

  • Eliminate road rage from my driving experiences.

Maybe an ambitious list. But there's something valuable in the process of considering.

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weekend of Fabulousness

The girls' weekend out was a huge success! Loads of fun from start to finish. We had pedicures, ate lunch, shopped till we dropped, talked and gossiped, and watched this great show on DVDs. We ate candy and cake and drank margaritas and stayed up late. I love my friends!! We always have the best time together.

PJ relaxes in the chair while getting her pedi.

Four fabulous pedis. (L to r, clockwise - Nicole, Denise, PJ, and me). PJ wins the cutest flipflops award. Me and Nicole went for flowers on our toes. You can't see them too well in this shot, but they have "bling" in the center of the flowers. That's right, baby.

Nicole tries the strawberry margaritas.

The birthday girls!! (Denise, Ari, and me)

Nicole made this dense, rich, devil's food cake with buttercream frosting from scratch. 6 cubes of butter and 6 eggs in the frosting. Mm-mm- MM. Fabulous.

Fabulous shoes.

Fabulous coat.

I am officially shopped out. Although, Ari just sent me a webpage with some cute espadrilles...