Friday, December 28, 2007

Updates, and a Question

Well, the good news is that my cousin is already back from Seattle. In fact, she called me on Christmas Eve and asked of she could come over for Christmas dinner. Yes, PLEASE!

The bad news is that no one has applied for the job that I've posted. Geeze! It's been two whole days... I opened my e-mail hopefully this morning, to find nothing but a message from my daughter's Girl Scout leader, telling me that, if Sara wants to sell Girl Scout Cookies, there's a mandatory meeting for me to attend (right in the middle of the work day, 20 miles from my office). Yay. Hooray.

This is a sucky time to try to hire a teacher.

I have a feeling this is going to make me crabby.

And here is my question:

At what point is it reasonable to expect one's partner to call home and say s/he will be arriving late for dinner? At what point do you call the absent partner and ask about Estimated Time of Arrival?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Well, I had in mind a humorous post about Christmas. But I have just walked into the office to find that the only full-time teacher on my staff is gone. Just gone. Her desk is bare. I found a one-line letter of resignation on my desk, along with her key to the school. The recycling box is full of all her lessons and materials. Nine years we worked together. She did not give one word to indicate that she was considering leaving.

What to do in this situation?
  1. Stand like a stunned ox, mouth hanging open, reading the one line over and over like it's going to reveal a secret explanation, a la Tolkien.
  2. Stand like a stunned ox, mouth hanging open, holding the same letter out to the Executive Director. Perhaps she can break the code and reveal the hidden motive.
  3. Realize that my mouth has been hanging open for a while and my tongue is drying out. Shut mouth.
  4. Lock myself in the ladies room and put my head between my knees for a few minutes as I realize that I have to make a major hire, pronto, during the Christmas holidays, and that this teacher's classes will somehow have to be covered. Snivel a little when I remember that I have three grant proposals due in the next week and hadn't really planned on fitting a hiring/training into my schedule.
  5. Look at the empty desk and think that, well, it WAS filthy, and now I will at least get a chance to dust it.
  6. Eat chocolate.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Zoo Lights

Our local zoo is lit up for the holidays.

Most of the animals were tucked in for the night, but a few nocturnal creatures were on the prowl. After many summer afternoons spent peering forlornly into seemingly empty enclosures, it was fun to finally see the cougar, the tiger, the ocelot and the owls up and about. There was a little mishap at the end, when Si was holding a mitten for Nate and he shoved his hand into it a little rambunctiously, thus punching Si in the 'nads (to quote Nathan). The cold 'nads. What do I know, but I guess that makes it worse? Under normal circumstances, Si would have keeled over, but we were in a public place and he's British. He managed to stagger back to the car. Nate felt bad, but was somewhat puzzled, as was Sara. Honestly, I'm mystified as well. Since I've never experienced a nut-shot, I guess I have no understanding of the white-hot lightning bolt of pain that must result, judging by the usual male response.

Nate spent the drive home punching himself in the crotch as hard as he could, muttering, "I just don't GET it. It doesn't hurt that much..."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Last night was the annual Potluck Holiday Dinner for my students and their families. We hold it at the church hall next door to the school. As you can see, we take our potluck seriously. When it comes to rivalries over who makes the best posole, spring rolls or momos, the competition is heated.
Some of my students give me presents. One gentleman returned from a trip to Vietnam just a few days ago, so he handed me a necklace! A bracelet! Coconut candy! All from his country! And a WalMart gift card. Not from his country. Well, or, these days I guess it could be.
This year, I was honored to receive a clock. Over the years, the teachers in my program have been given so many odd clocks that we have developed a collection. It started with a pink china elephant clock many years ago (which deserves its own blog entry one of these days). Now we have clpcks shaped like bird houses, bowling pins, the Emerald City...yeah, I know - like it isn't cluttered enough in here. On my desk, I have the tiger clock, the teacher clock and the Last Supper clock. Now I will add this one. What is my student want me to convey with this clock? That I am dignified. Executive. Directorial. For the woman who signs things a lot? He got that part right.
Now, if only the rest of its surroundings lived up to it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Witless in Seattle

Well, my cousin abruptly left Salt Lake and has returned to her cheating, abusive, meth-head estranged husband in Seattle. She left without telling anyone that she was going (she knew what we would say). My aunt called me from Phoenix last night to tell me. For the record, Cousin, you could have called me and told me. I would have recommended that you not go, but I wouldn't have tried to stop you. I would have told you that you can stay with me again if you decide to come back.

I know that this is often how it goes in these situations. I wish I could say that I was surprised. Aunt is anguished: worried about Cousin's downward spiral. I tried to cheer her up with a wager. We will both guess the date that Cousin will leave Meth Head Asshole and come back to Salt Lake, I told her. The winner buys the loser a present. "Chocolates?", she asks. "Sure, if you like." She rallies a little (As always. Aunt specializes in rallying.) "I'll have a 1 pound box of dark chocolate rum-pots from Cummings Studio. Deal?" "Deal." Now we just need to negotiate the details. Aunt thinks Cousin may be returning in a body bag. I told her the wager didn't cover such contingencies.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Cocktail to Die For...

...unless it kills you first.

I had a dinner party over the weekend and cooked southwestern. So I was looking through Cooking Light, as usual, and saw this recipe for Sparking Chimayo Cocktails.

1 C gold tequila
3/4 C sparkling water, chilled
2 T creme de cassis (black currant flavored liqueur)
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 (750 ml) bottle sparkling apple cider, chilled

Just throw it all together, stir and serve immediately.

It was lovely. Smoooooooth. The tequila was a presence, but didn't dominate. I ended up drinking...uh...4 glasses, I think. Since I was eating as well, I felt completely sober; until bedtime, when I started to felt the onset of H.H. (Heavy Head). I drank a lot of water, but still woke up in the morning with a crashing headache.

I would recommend this drink: it's tasty, looks great, etc... But maybe drink only...3 glasses... Don't make the mistakes I've made.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Where Are The Lights?

"Si, where are the lights and the power strip?"
"I don't know. Aren't they in the closet?"
"No. They aren't where I usually keep them. Did you see them when you got out the other decorations?"
"No. You put them away last year They're wherever you put them."
"They are not where I put them. Are you sure you didn't move them when we had the floors done?"

Finally, Sara reminds us that we used them to decorate the patio for a party last summer and liked them so much we decided to keep them there. "At the time," she said smugly, "you said you'd just get more lights when Christmas rolled around."

Oh, yeah.

Quick trip to Target and we're all set. Now I just have to find the ornaments.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fun Quiz

My friend John sent me the link to this intresting quiz today. You can measure how far you are to the political right or left, as well as where you fall on the libertarian / authoritarian continuum.

This is how I turned out.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I know - it's an ongoing theme at my house.

Wow, I haven't blogged since last Wednesday! Christmas is coming, so my to-do list is getting to me. Let's totally unrealistic list of things to do after the kids go to bed tonight:
  1. frost chocolate peppermint bars
  2. plan remaining Christmas shopping, if any
  3. iron
  4. mend the lining of Nate's jacket and fix his two broken plastic swords
  5. bring in holly and other greens to use for decoration
  6. write annual family holiday letter
  7. wrap gifts for my program's support staff
  8. make donation to Heifer International (buy water buffalo! How often do I get to say that?) in my parents' name for their Christmas present
  9. sync iPod
We'll just see how much of THAT I get done. Pfft.

At any rate, it snowed again this past weekend. BIG SNOW. Almost time to go skiing! Usually the boughs of my favorite tree stand straight up, but they got so weighted down that I went out and knocked the snow off after I took this picture.

Time to make plum pudding. Naturally, since my husband is English, this is a tradition. The first time I did it, I was concerned that it might not be as good as his mom's. "Are you kidding?" he laughed. "She doesn't make plum pudding. She just buys it at Marks and Spencer!" Well, not I, so here are the ingredients.

Nate was my loyal assistant. Here he is (or at least his hands), snipping dates.

We always put in a sixpence; whoever finds it gets good luck for the coming year. The picture is a little blurry, but that's fine. You can't see that this coin is in fact not a sixpence, but some denomination of drachma. We are fresh out of sixpence pieces - Si is a bit annoyed: after Christmas dinner, the sixpences have not been making it back into his coin collection to use another year. I hope this doesn't wreck the mo-jo.

Nate loves the part when we drop the Don't worry - it's wrapped in foil.
Here it goes, into the pudding mold....

...and into the pot I use to steam it, suspended perfectly by the old coat hanger I bent to this purpose 15 years ago. "Ah," says Simon. "Coat hanger having its annual outing, I see..."

Three hours steaming happily and it comes out.....[drum roll]....

LOPSIDED! Just like it does every year. Oh, well! Luckily, I'm not entering it in the county fair.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Two Evangelists

I called home to talk to Dad, but Mom said, "He's not here. He's still in Guatemala." WTF?? I had no idea he was going anywhere. They never tell me anything.

"Guatemala?! What's he doing there?"

"Medical mission," says Mom (Dad's a doctor. Long retired, but he keeps up his license, I suppose, so he can go off on amazing adventures like this one.)

"Ooooh..." I have some jealousy issues. My dreams of being a doctor were thwarted by high school chemistry. Not only is he a doctor, he's being one in Latin America. "Wow. I wish I were there."

"Well, that's something you could do if you wanted."

"In what capacity?"

"Well, they took four nurses, three doctors, two dentists-"

(A little voice in my head sings, "...and a partridge in a pear tree...")

"-and two Evangelists."

Huh? "Like I said, I don't really see what I-"

"You could be an evangelist."

"I could..." I burst out laughing. "I really don't think that's-"

"Well, who knows about the future? I keep thinking one of these days, you'll learn something."

About faith, she means. Oof. I changed the subject. It's bugging me, though.

Dear Mom, (reads the letter I compose in my head, but will never write for real)

I'm 40, for Pete's sake. I still have a lot to learn, but I have managed to take a few things on board so far. One is that belief in God isn't something I can just decide to...have. I regret that I have no faith, but I don't. Another is that it is actually possible to demonstrate compassion and make a difference in the world without being religious. I'm sorry that this is a disappointment to you, but as long as there are Christians who attend the funerals of fallen soldiers in order to scream "God Hates Fags", I think I'm happier in my benighted state.

Yours sinfully,

Monday, December 3, 2007

Finally, Decent Snow

We had about 10 inches of snow over the weekend. My husband works in the ski business, so to us, it looks like little dollar bills, floating down from above.

There was enough for the kids to play in. There was enough for me to shovel. Mentally rubbing my hands together and puffing my chest, I got my snow shovel down from the garage wall.

I"m going to do some serious bragging. If shoveling snow were an Olympic Winter Sport, I would have made the US Team. I would dominate all other contenders. This is because, before we moved to Burb World two years ago, we lived in a cabin up at 9,000 feet. The road to our house was closed in winter and the cabin would get buried in snow. Oh! Maybe I have a picture.

I took this one evening after I was done with the day's shoveling. That's the snow piled up way past the top of the deck rail, reaching to the eaves up above.

Here's our downstairs window, all covered over with snow. The last winter we were there, the whole lower story was buried entirely.
So, I got really good at shoveling mass quantities. I developed "moves". The Overhead Chop (for when the drift is higher than your head); the Underhand Distance Toss; Forehand; Backhand; and I'm really fast. When the only thing between you and a cup of hot coffee enjoyed with your feet toasting in front of the wood stove is a back deck that has to be shoveled...
At any rate, that was then and this is now. So I took down my snow shovel and I thought, "Well, I don't even really NEED to do this driveway. We can still get in if we use four-wheel drive." No, no. All the neighbors are revving up their snow blowers. If I don't go out there and shovel, they'll come over and do it for me, and then I'll have to spend the afternoon baking cookies for them. So I go out and get started. I'm like John Henry, keeping up with the steam drill. Shoop, shoop, shoop. I'm showing off. I add a few flourishes.
Later, cooking supper, I reach up to the cupboard for the olive oil, and my arm won't do it. Huh? Slowly all my muscles from the waist up go, "Hey, remember us, you show-off floozy?" John Henry did DIE with a hammer in his hand, after all.