Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chox and Blox

Sara and Nathan had their little friends N. and B. at our house for a sleep-over this past weekend. I thought we'd get the fondue set out again and try chocolate this time. It went over well, as you can see.I can't explain the skeleton costume.

I thought the chocolate that was splattered everywhere would show up better. Oh well. Only my friend Diane, at her safe haven at the end of the table, was spared total wardrobe destruction.

Simon is taking a few days off to do some projects at home. He landscaped my new garden for me. Only a little back filling left to do and my drought-resistant test garden will be finished. I put in a few things in the fall: some Kamas bulbs, a creeping ground cover called Sedum; three yucca plants and some tall grasses for a backdrop. Not a lot of visible action, yet, but it looks like everything made it through the winter. Now I have to think of a bunch more plants to put in there. Garden design? Not my strong point. If any of you dry-climate blog buddies have some suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Today, I point my camera toward the sky, because I'm afraid to look down. This evening's list will enumerate the things I'm in charge of, even though I don't have a clue what I'm doing. And here I thought competence was one of the benefits of maturity. Not.
  1. The Newbie Freak-Out: I have hired a new teacher, and we need to get her started tomorrow night. The only problem is that I have to take the night off tomorrow night, because Sara has a school concert. She'll get to walk into an office full of perfect strangers. I need to remind the staff not to start off by throwing the Screaming Monkey at her. Or putting plastic ants in her supper. No pranks until after coffee-break, please.
  2. The All-Girl Freak-Out: Next Tuesday, we will have our first ever Ladies' Night, which (in an effort to deal tactfully with a potentially stigmatizing issue) will be a combination pot-luck, Bingo match, Mary Kay party and seminar about what to do if you a victim of domestic violence. Our local YWCA, in charge of one patch in this crazy quilt, are viewing my idea with some curiosity, but are keeping an open mind. Thing is, if you invite a group of women to leave their co-ed study groups to attend a seminar about domestic abuse, they would never go. 'Cause what would that imply? (Sigh!) If we are putting lipstick on this pig, at least it's Mary Kay lipstick.
  3. The Brownie Freak-Out: Also next Tuesday (rapidly shaping up to be an enthralling day), I'm in charge of Sara's Brownie meeting again. Holy Thin Mint, Batman! This time, we are going to do the remaining activities required for the sewing merit badge (or "Try-It", as the Brownies call it). I have to show the girls how to sew on buttons, then supply them with assorted buttons so they can practice. No problem there. I CAN sew on a button. But the other activity is...uh... embroidery. I tried it once when I was 12. At this point I have the floss, the needles and some hoops. Now all I need is expertise. So, I dug a rag out of the rag box, drew a flower on it with a Sharpie, looked at a couple of line diagrams and got to work. The result was a little...lumpy. We who are about to die salute you.
  4. The Ranchero Freak-Out: Here's a great idea! My school puts on a selection of fancy, expensive fundraisers; but what about a fundraiser that our clients could attend, thus making a contribution to their school? One of the preschool teachers has suggested a dance! I think that sounds incredibly fun! So, I've offered to help her. Picture it: the big assembly hall at the local Mexican civics center; a couple of local Latin bands; $10 per head; price includes beer; open to anyone who wants to come. Let's squint slightly so we don't have to focus on security concerns, the fact that I don't know jack about putting on a dance, or that my Latin dance skills are a subject of hilarity among my students.
  5. And now, for the Ultimate Freak-Out: Sara has presented me with boobs. Actually, just one boob. Sort of. She appeared naked in the living room, looking very pleased with herself and announced that she's GROWING. I shuttered my face against the shock that wanted to appear there. I resisted the urge put my head between my knees. She showed me a very slight convexity on her hitherto sleek 9 year old body, amused by the fact that there is no matching convexity on the other side. I grasped at the lifebuoy of humor and asked her when she was planning to get started on the other one. In the resulting giggles, I was able to suppress my urge to scream. OMG! I was flat as a pancake until I was 12! The last girl in the locker room to get a bra. Contaminated water! Than must be it. It's all the birth control pills that Americans are flushing into the water supply! Or milk! Or meat! You know that scene at the very end of Thelma and Louise? When they grasp hands and drive off the edge of the Grand Canyon? That's Sara and me, the the Caddy is her childhood.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Forgetting Gabriel

By 10:30, the custodians had been and gone. I was tired. I packed up my stuff, turned out all the lights and set the alarm. On my way out, I noted the unfamiliar car sharing the deserted parking lot with my own; then I glanced up at the building to see that the custodians had left the upstairs hall light on. "Huh! I wonder why..." Then I remembered that my student Gabriel was up in the computer lab, checking his e-mail. S***! I started sprinting to the back door, where the alarm is, praying that he would just. Stay. In. The. Lab. But Gabriel must have sensed that he was alone in the building, so he came downstairs and opened the side door to go out.


Flashing strobes, blaring sirens. Lights coming on in the houses...

Gabriel was standing on the porch, shouting, "SORRY, TEACHER! SORRY TEACHER!" above the racket.

No, Gabriel. My fault. Whoops.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Baby-Wan Kenobi

Nate wore his hair like this all day, 'cause he is the young Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, Episode I.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Hey, here I am, breaking the tape!

OK, actually, no. Imagine someone much older and not nearly that happy.
It's all over except the groaning every time I have to use my quads for anything, and an occasional bout of nausea. I always like to check back at the things I was afraid of and see how many of them came to pass, so without further ado:

Well, I didn't oversleep. As if. I was too wound up to sleep much at all, so when the alarm went off at 4 AM, I was not happy. But I was awake. I got to the starting line in plenty of time. And yes, I was cold. Dawn found me huddled on the steps of one of the buildings near the starting line, reading "The Stranger" in the porch light. Trying to, anyway, what with shivering and all. One guy had brought a space blanket with him and was curled up on the grass, catching a blissful 40 winks before it was time to start. I envied him and would have joined him if I thought he would have tolerated such shocking behavior. Next time (if there is a next time), I'll do that. Bring a blanket, I mean.

It was a good thing I got in the Porta-John line about 40 minutes before the start, as I needed almost all that time for it to be my turn. Plenty of time to stand in a queue, looking at everyone else and getting psyched out. Yes, Sue Sun, some trendy ladies were wearing the running skirts. I'm with you - those are damn cute. Almost everyone wears better running clothes than I do: old gray sweats and ratty t-shirts. I also noticed that Asics outnumbered Nike Max Air, Bowerman Series by a long shot! This caused a wave of self-doubt - a crisis of faith in my lucky brand.
Did I flout the rules and wear my iPod? Uh...that would be, yes, along with everyone else... No time to get an arm-band, though. No time to sync, either. To steal from Donald Rumsfeld, I went to the race with the music I had. It was a beautiful day (not snowing, thank God); but the wind from the south was BRUTAL. A huge front was blowing in, hard enough to make my paper number go THWAP, THWAP, THWAP on my chest and blow the ear buds out of my ears.
It was very interesting to run a long race like this. If any of you run (or do other exhausting, crazy things), you may recognize some of these phases.
Miles 0-2: These are the "WTF miles". As in, "This is nuts! Why am I here? Why are all these other people here?" and "Why can't I get my pace right?" It took a while for me to stop doing everyone else's pace instead of my own. I'd be running too fast, 'cause the guy in front of me was. Or I'd suddenly find myself smack up against some speed-walking woman, with her elbows flying everywhere. After a couple miles though, the crowd thinned and I remembered to pay attention to what I was doing.
Miles 2-8: This is fun! Look at me! This is easy!
Miles 8-9: This will end. In another hour, I will be standing still. That will feel good.
Mile 10: At Mile 10, the route follows the same route that the 5K used earlier. It's pretty rough, psychologically, to reach the 10-mile point and realize that you still have to run a f***ing 5K. Things started irritating me. The cross-wind was harsh, and my hair was starting to come out of its pony-tail and blow into my mouth, but I couldn't stop to fix it. My iPod became inexplicably annoying. I stifled a sudden urge to rip it off and throw it away. It reminded me of how I felt when I was in labor: raging desire to do things like tear off my hospital gown (which I did) or gouge my husband's eyes out (no, but it was a close call).
Mile 11: If there was a "hit-the-wall" moment for me, this was it. I got a belly cramp that I had trouble coping with. When I get a stitch low down by my hip-bone and to the side, I can ignore it. This one was up high under my ribs. "'Scuse me, belly, but my lungs need that space right now..." I blame hydration. I mean, I guess we have to drink while we do this, but my stomach did not want me to toss paper cups of cold liquid into it, and got pretty pissed off. I kept telling myself that I should stop and walk for a little bit; but I thought about Dive's and Super Hero's advice to keep going and run through it. Thanks guys. You got me past Mile 11.
Miles 12-13: I don't remember them. Except I was looking at the cops who were managing the road closures and thinking, "What are you smiling about, punk?"
The last 300 yards or so are in the Gateway, which is an outdoor shopping center. It was jammed with shouting spectators, which does kind of lift a person's spirits. I managed to kick it up a little at the very end. They have these very amusing volunteers at the finish line. Their job is to smile sweetly, catch you as you cross the line and check that you aren't going to die. A cheery woman grabbed me and said something like, "You did it! Are you feeling all right? Do you need anything? Water? Ice?" "No, thanks. I'm OK. I just need to take off my timing chip." "OK, go right this way." She let go of me and I immediately walked into the barrier. She grabbed me by the hips and steered me in the right direction.
So, that was it. I didn't puke, I didn't pass out, I didn't see people I knew, I didn't walk.
When I crossed the finish line, the clock above me said 2 hours and 15 minutes. My own time will be different, since I didn't cross the starting line for 5 minutes or so after the clock started. I like to start well back in the pack. Do I also get to subtract the time I spent at Mile 6 waiting for a turn to pee? Damn the hydration again! The Porta-John lines there were about 8 minutes. My time isn't posted, yet; but I'm calling it 2 hours, 2 minutes. Not bad for an old lady.
Oh, and one last thing. GU is nasty! Gross! Two little nips of that stuff and I thought, gack! No way.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nicer than the Place I Live

I was at a retreat today, with our board of directors. It was in the clubhouse of a posh gated community near Park City. The board members were gazing out at the (still snow-covered) golf course, discussing which one of the palatial homes was Michael Jordan's summer cabin.

More easily impressed, I was in awe of the ladies' room, which was WAY nicer than any room in my house. The paper towels were too nice to throw away. I kept thinking maybe I should hang mine up to dry and use it again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hitting the Wall



The race I have been training for since February is on Saturday. I have run in some 5Ks before, but this is a half-marathon, and I'm feeling pretty nervous.

What if....I hit the wall?

Long-distance runners always talk about "hitting the wall". As in, "At mile 10, I hit the wall." It's mentioned in my book, Running 101: "Hitting the wall is as serious as any other injury and requires similar recovery time". Frankly, I have no idea what it means to hit the wall, but it doesn't sound fun at all. Clearly the wall is metaphorical, but...what does that feel like, and will I know when I've hit it? And then what?

Does hitting the wall include puking? Oh, God, how embarrassing.

What if there are people I know watching and I pass out?

What if there are people I know watching, period?

What if I have to stop and walk? I don't want to do that.

What if it hurts? Oh, for Pete's sake, Kate! Of course it'll hurt.

I bought new shoes and they're pretty much broken in. Nike Max Air, Bowerman Series. My third pair in a row, so I've convinced myself that they are my lucky brand.

Now, I have to decide: GU or no GU? My friend Summer says I should pin a GU shot to my waistband. I've never tried one. Guess I should before race day, huh?

Should I carbo-load the night before? Or is the benefit gone by morning? I usually just eat a Clif bar when I have a race.

The regulations "strongly discourage" iPods. Are they out of their minds?!? Surely, they won't have iPod police...
I should sync the iPod the night before. Less Johnny Cash for this particular event, and more Matchbox Twenty.
Should I get one of those arm bands that hold the iPod? I've been just carrying it in my hand.
What should I wear? Will I freeze? Will I wish I had gloves?

I ought to have a goal. Maybe my goal is to finish. I think I will, though: I'm really stubborn. I ran 12 miles a couple of weeks ago, and it wasn't so bad. I'll have another, secret goal as well: to finish in 2 hours and 10 minutes. If I tell anyone that goal, I will jinx it. I hope that blogging doesn't count.

The damn thing starts at 7 AM. Can I go all the way into downtown on Trax that early in the morning?
What if I get delayed?
What if I oversleep?
What if I hit the wall.
I've been looking forward to it for months, and now I just wish it were over.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Simon was out in Vail one evening this past week, walking down the street, when a woman strode purposefully up to him, her husband trailing along behind. She was pretty drunk, which explains some things.

"I'm taking a survey about oral sex."
"I beg your pardon?" [with a British accent]
"I'm taking a survey! About oral sex."
"I notice you don't have a clip board. Am I a sample of one?"
"Huh? Never mind. How often do you have oral sex?"
"Which kind?"
"Which kind? The kind I get or the kind I give?"

By this time, her husband had ambled up.

"You know..." She rolled her eyes at her spouse in disgust. "The kind HE wants."
"OH! You mean blow jobs. In my marriage, it's blow jobs on demand, of course!" [I shoot him a jaundiced look at this point in the narrative.] Exasperated, she stomped off into another bar. Her husband smiled gratefully at Simon, gave him a thumbs up and followed her.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Stuck on Country

Not me. The radio. The radio in my car is getting junky, it's true. So I should have understood the risk. It's time for the sadistic, semi-annual Pledge Drive on our local National Public Radio affiliate. (If you're an NPR listener, you'll sympathize. We can all groan in unison right now. Ready? Go.) I just call in my pledge and get it over with, so why can't everyone else? Why does it have to go on and on...

"Hi, I'm here with our development director Tristan Tabbish, and we're just going to take a break from our regular broadcast of 'Fresh Air' to ask: do you care about this program? We need your support for 'Fresh Air' and all the great programming we bring to you day after day. Volunteers are waiting by the phones. Just call 581-5837 and make your pledge today. Now Tristan, I believe that our phone volunteers today are from Tree Utah, isn't that right?" "Yes! That's right!....."

Annoyed, I had a lapse in judgement and randomly hit one of the preset buttons, which sent me to "More of Utah's best country! KSOP!" I like a little country music, as long as I am able to change the station as soon as it starts getting on my nerves. (BTW, I would like to apologize and extend a loving olive branch to my blog-buddy Erin, if she reads this. Erin, I do like...SOME... country.) I can't though. Change the station, I mean. The radio is stuck on KSOP. All my usual tricks (thumping the dash hard; thumping the dash gently; twisting the volume knob while pulling on it; slamming the ashtray open and closed) is working. Soon the Pledge Drive will be over, and then I'll be really sorry. I'll still be listening to whatshisface crooning that "your love is like a real good truck/it just keeps getting better all the time...".

I find country music interactive, at any rate. I find myself responding, "What do you mean, 'just like a real good truck'! They do NOT get better all the time! Don't you know they start depreciating the minute you drive them off the lot!?"

OR "'That don't make no difference?' You mean, 'that doesn't make any difference'."

OR (in the case of the many songs involving tearful daddies watching their baby girls getting all growed up) "Shut UP! You SAP!" WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! on the dashboard. WHAM! WHAM!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Headache Cures

FINALLY, my headache is gone! He's in Colorado on another business trip. JOKING! STRICTLY JOKING! Simon will be in Vail until late Friday night, staying at the slope-side mansion of billionaire Texan D.B., owner of the ski resort where he works. The place is full of contradictions, like its owner: a perfect ski-in, ski-out locale; but the house hasn't been updated in any way since the '70s. There's a 16th Century tapestry hanging in the living room, but D.B. keeps the key under the mat. Furthermore, D.B. will be in residence this week (YEEEEE-HAW!), which means that poor Simon will have to sit up half the night listening and nodding sycophantically when he'd rather be in the privacy of a hotel room, nipping Scotch from his hip-flask and watching the Electric Train Channel or whatever.

Or, there's the Exercise Cure. I ran 12 miles yesterday, and survived, so it's official - I really will run in the Salt Lake City Half-Marathon in 2 week's time. The long run wasn't too bad, really. Just the last 2 miles or so, when I started to feel achy in the knees and shoulders. And bored. I run on an indoor track and that's a looooong time to spend running around in tiny circles. As I left the track, I found myself circumnavigating the parking lot so I could circle back to my car in a clockwise direction. There was a short runner's high, followed by a series of super-horrible sensations that I was unprepared for, I guess because I am an ignorant amateur and have no clue how to keep all the.. what?... electrolytes?...balanced. I stood in the shower, feeling wobbly and nauseous, trying to figure it out by instinct. I thought to myself, "What do you crave?" (This usually works for me when I'm backpacking, etc...) "That's probably what you need. Think about....sausage! No, No! Anything but sausage! OK...how about a ...Snicker bar! Oh! Gross! Ummm...salt? Maybe a few Sun Chips?" I think that one of the benefits of paying the entrance fee and actually running in an organized race is that they have little cups of Gatorade or something as you run along, which could make this a non-issue. I have heard that professional football players swear by pickle juice...

The Shake-Up Cure. The staff member who has been giving me aggro has handed in her notice. There might have been a time when this would have stressed me out, but not any more. After the other teacher left precipitously at Christmas and I had to scramble to fill that (large, responsible and very autonomous) position, I now feel like this can't phase me any more. I do worry a little about what it might mean about me as a person- having two teachers leave, disgruntled, within three months. Am I the bitch that they think I am? Probably. The other night, when she handed me her letter of resignation, I found myself thinking, "YES! This time I will find a teacher that will get off his/her butt and do a good job, support the team and remember her commitments. " Wish me luck.

Better go make supper. Tempting as it is to eat carry-out every night when Si's gone, the kids need nutrition at some point. I can tell they're getting hungry.

"Master Yoda! Transform into a baby spitting cobra and ask Mom if cobras like Sun Chips."
"Of course they like Sun Chips, you Doodle Brain!"
"Well fine. YOU ask her for Sun Chips."
"I can't! I'm a Sith Lord. She'll never listen to a Sith Lord."
"Well you could transform into a cute, purring baby ocelot...."

Oh, God. I hear this weird mewing coming down the hall...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Why Can't I Post?

I start, I stop. I start, I stop. The problem is that I have a headache. I've had it for a few days, and I really need it to go away now, please. Simon is leaving on another business trip...day after tomorrow...and I must. Not. Get. Sick. More tomorrow, when my blood-level of Tylenol has built up sufficiantly for me to have a life again.