Sunday, December 30, 2007


Had an AWESOME Christmas! Mom and dad were up from Iowa, and my sister hosted the festivities again at HER place (I was able to escape back to MY place, periodically, for solitude and calm-ness!).

We did our traditional Christmas eve church service and fondue dinner (steak AND cheese), opened presents, and I spent Christmas eve night THERE, so that we could get up Christmas morning and do the whole stocking and brunch thing. It's a GREAT tradition, and was a really nice time.

Mom and dad left Christmas day to get back to Iowa. Mom had hip replacement surgery on the 26th. It went well, and she's already home. She SHOULD have stayed in the hospital a day or two longer, but the doctors said she could go home if she wanted, and dad wasn't in the room at the time to say "maybe we need to stay one more day", so mom checked herself out, and they drove back to Tingley (mom is NOT the best patient in the world...!).

December 26th Robin and I did our annual "after Christmas shopping blitz". I met her at 6:30, and we were at the new SuperTarget on Cedar Ave. waiting when they opened the doors at 7:00. The WAY cool thing was that no one else really THOUGHT about hitting THAT Target, so there were only THREE other people waiting at our door (as opposed to 30 or 40 at other Target's in years past). The store wasn't really ready for us yet (still moving stuff to the clearance section...can you IMAGINE??!!), but I was able to find some good stuff.

We also went to the Hallmark store, Northwestern Books, Bibelot, Barnes & Noble, Seasonal Concepts, Restoration Hardware, and Shop in the City. I FINALLY got home around 1:00 in the afternoon (after MANY cups of coffee), and was, pretty much, comatose for the rest of the day!

Now I'm just waiting for New Years to get here, and am eager for things to get BACK TO NORMAL! I LOVE the holidays, but, since the "decorations and hoopla" start in the stores around HALLOWEEN, am SO ready for it all to be over by the time it gets here!

I took most of my decorations down the day after Christmas, but left the tree up (because of Duane's insistence that it's too early to take it all down). The tree comes down New Year's eve day, and then things will seem more "normal".

Hope YOUR holidays were FABULOUS, and that Santa was REALLY REALLY good to you! Happy new year!

Monday, November 26, 2007


It's interesting how things just "come together" sometimes! Duane and I just spent an AWESOME long Thanksgiving weekend in Dusseldorf, and it's mainly because of the IB conference that I attended in June (see July 2nd, 2007 entry).

At that conference, I met Susie. We hit it off RIGHT AWAY, and by the end of the two day training, she'd invited Duane and me to stay with her and her partner Daan in Dusseldorf. I'd told her at the conference that we were coming to Germany for the Christmas Markets, and that, at that point, we weren't sure where in Germany we'd be flying to. It turned out that Northwest was JUST starting non-stop service from the Twin Cities to Dusseldorf, AND to make it even MORE "come-together-y", the in-flight magazine had an article entitled "Three Days in Dusseldorf", as we were flying back from the conference. It just seemed "meant to be".

Turns out it WAS! We had SUCH an awesome time! Susie and Daan have become INSTANT dear friends, and we're already talking about meeting up in Paris or London again sometime in the "not too distant future" to hang out again. It was amazing how easily we all hit it off...and how quickly! After we'd been there for a few hours, Duane said that he kept expecting Susie and me to pull out pictures from when we were in high school together, or from the trips our families took together when we were growing up. Certainly not typical of people who met and sat next to each other at a workshop a few months earlier. are the "specifics" of the trip:

We flew BUSINESS CLASS to Amsterdam on Tuesday night after working all day, and arrived Wednesday morning (I think... I totally lost track of was like a 27 hour ordeal to get to them, involving the flight to Amsterdam, a train to Utrect (Netherlands), an express train to Dusseldorf, then the U79 tram to Wittlaer, the suburb in which they live). By the time we got there, I was ready to BURN the clothes that I'd been wearing all that time!!

Daan was waiting for us when we got there, and we went to pick Susie up at school. We drove to Kaiserswerth, the town between their house and Susie's school, and toured their main street. It looked very Dutch to me, and was VERY quaint. There was a cool old castle from the 1100's. We couldn't get onto the grounds, but it was beautiful, even from behind the fence. We had our first authentic German food at a great little pub/restaurant near the tram stop.

Thanksgiving day, we went back to Kaiserswerth in the morning, to see things in the daylight, and eat German pastries (yum!), and then took the tram downtown to the Dusseldorf Christmas Market near the "Ko", which is the main "ritzy" area of the city (designer shops, huge department stores, the "merman" statue, etc.). The Christmas markets were AWESOME, and we found some fun stuff to buy. We also had "gluwein"...a hot, spiced red wine...YUM! Had a late lunch at a pub with a pig on the marquee (no IDEA what it was called, but the food was GREAT!), and then headed back to Wittlaer to regroup.

Friday, we went to an apple farm near their house, shopped at a COOL grocery store (Duane and I LOVE going to grocery stores in different places...I know...kind of odd, but it's COOL to see different products that you can't get here, and check out what they sell in different places...and to compare prices...$12.00/lb. for green peppers??!!).

After errands, Daan drove us all to Valkenburg, the Netherlands, to go to another Christmas market. This one was along the corridors and passageways of an old limestone cave/quarry system that has been there for hundreds of years. It was REALLY cool. As you wound your way down through the tunnels, stalls and booths were set up along the sides selling everything from purses and scarves, to ornaments. There was even a booth that sold trinkets and doo dads from Mexico! In the central part of the caves/tunnels, there was even a multi-level cafe/bar set up. OF COURSE, I had to have more "gluwein"!!

After the underground market, we drove to Maastricht, which is Daans hometown. It's a REALLY cool old city (I think one of the oldest in the Netherlands). We had dinner at De Lanteern, one of Daan's favorite places to eat, and across the street from an AMAZING old cathedral (one of three that we saw that night as we walked around after dinner). We're going to try to get back there again someday so that Daan can show us around.

They were setting up for THEIR Christmas market while we were walking around, and had a HUGE ferris wheel in the middle of all of it...MANY stories tall. It reminded me of the London Eye, but not QUITE so gigantic. One of the things I REALLY want to go back and see is an old church that had been converted into a HUGE bookstore. The tombs and headstones are still in the floor, and the pulpit area has been converted into a coffee shop! We could only look in the window, but it looked AMAZING! The main streets were also FULL of cool stores that we want to check out (although we'll skip the Claire's Boutique (just like the ones we have in the malls here), and other American imports!)(although the "croquette sandwiches" at THEIR McDonald's looked QUITE intriguing!).

We flew out the next day (BUSINESS CLASS again!), and, after RUNNING to get through customs and re-entering security and RUNNING through the Detroit airport, JUST made our connecting flight (actually the one BEFORE the one we planned to take, saving us an hour of sitting around in Detroit, hoping to get back to the cities)(since the flight was full).

AWESOME trip...AMAZING new friends...FABULOUS memories! Germany (and Daan and Susie!) rock! Having people who KNOW the area, and how things work, makes travelling SO much more fun. We saw and did things that we wouldn't even have known about, had we not had Susie and Daan to show them to us.

Hope YOUR Thanksgiving weekend was amazing as well!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bad People!'s official...PEOPLE SUCK...okay...not all people (certainly not the ones I know!), just strangers who break into your sister and brother-in-law's house while they are out running errands and at work, IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, and steal their computer and television set, and jewelry, and who knows WHAT ELSE??!! Grrrrrrrrrrrr...!

Mom and dad have been here since Wednesday- dad for a conference, and mom to stay with Robin and Dave while dad's here. They went out yesterday afternoon at noon, and dad got there at 3:15, after his conference ended, and the -insert expletive here- LOSER CRIMINALS had already hit. Apparently, they kicked in the back door IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!!

So...the tally, as of now, in the 10 years that they've lived there, includes: TWO break-ins (last time they got the video camera and ALL of the videos of the girls, from birth to ages 5 and 7), MY car window being smashed with a rock, and THEIR car being stolen and abandoned somewhere close to downtown. in the city.

At least no one was home at the time, no one was hurt, the kittens were fine, and the "stuff" can be replaced. HORRIBLY inconvenient for Robin, since all of her home business stuff was on the computer that was stolen. It's going to take a TON of work to get copies of all the master files, and to try to get her address book up to speed again. I think they also lost some digital photos that were stored on the hard drive.... -insert expletive here again- ....!!!!

Hope the BAD PEOPLE are staying far away from YOUR lives!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

School Field Trip

I can't believe Thanksgiving is almost here. I looked at my calendar this morning, and the next 6 weeks are going to be a BLUR! Things at school are SUPER busy...LOVE IT, but it's quite crazy, and now the whole "holiday season" thing is about to come CRASHING down upon us! Oy!

As I just said, things at school are REALLY good. I'm just completing a two week unit on "Wonders of the World" (starting with the ancient wonders of the Mediterranean, seguing into the modern wonders, and then going back and looking at "other wonders" like of the middle ages, natural wonders, underwater wonders, etc.). P., the art teacher, and I designed/researched/presented the unit, as an "add on" to the ancient civilizations unit that the 6th grade teachers had just completed, and it was COOL! The kids really seemed to be "in" to it, and it was GREAT that they had that "prior knowledge" to build with while working on this.

We took all of the 6th graders to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (LOVE that place!), and had the docents give tours in the "ancient" section (Greece, Egypt, Rome, etc.). It tied in well with what we'd been talking about. Four of us also took smaller groups around the museum to do VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies), which is a "philosophy" in which you have the participants look at a painting or sculpture, without knowing anything about it, and asking three questions..."What do you see happening in this picture (or sculpture)?" "What do you see that makes you say that"? "Do you see anything else happening?". The "instructor" paraphrases what they say, and there is no value judgement AT ALL as you are doing VTS. It's a REALLY cool way to experience art "personally", and really changes the way that you see a painting or sculpture. I ALWAYS get something new out of a piece of art when I do VTS.

The kids were AWESOME, and I heard lots of them say that they couldn't wait to come back to the museum again. It doesn't get any better than that! I'm finding that I'm REALLY getting to be more and more impressed with our students, which is strange, because I REALLY had a different opinion of them when I first moved up here.

Granted...EVERYTHING about when I first moved up here was strange, and difficult, and FOR THE LONGEST time, I thought I'd made the BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE in moving here, but, as time has gone by, and I've "acclimated" to the twin cities, it's really a great place to be.

As far as being impressed with the students, I watched other groups of kids from other schools, and was APPALLED at their behavior...running around, being sassy, attitude...ick! Our kids were well behaved, respectful, and, although a bit "squirrely" at times, VERY well behaved. Bravo 6th graders!

Now that this unit is drawing to a close (their final project will be to fill in information, and draw/paint/design a picture of their chosen wonder on a paper cube with Pat in art), I launch right into a rock cycle research project with 4th grade, and an animal report/project (also using the cube) with 2nd grade. 2nd graders and also in the media center this week to learn how to use the non-fiction section. I had a class in last week, and the teacher made the comment that SHE learned a lot about the non-fiction section while she was sitting with her doesn't GET any better than that!

Enough about school, I guess...I'm just finding it so STRANGE to be excited about my job again, and this feeling of actually teaching things that are relevant to what's being done in the classroom, as opposed to just having students dropped off in the library for prep (and teaching library skills that aren't linked to anything relevant to what they are doing) is so bizarre! I didn't realize how much I'd "given up" on my position, and in how WORTHLESS I felt my job was. I remember it being REALLY difficult when I started, but I guess I'd just gotten used to being a high paid "babysitter"!

Said I'd stop, and I continued to "job talk". Okay...had drinks with Kate on Friday evening. She the PYP coordinator at our school, and does a FABBO job of making International Baccalaureate a possibility at our school. She and her husband Bill have become friends, and she's a delightful person to spend time with. We shared an office the last several years, but, they took our room to "rehab" into a computer lab, so she moved upstairs and I moved to the TINY office at the other end of the library. We've both missed that "yell across the room when we have something to say" part of sharing an office, and needed a chance to reconnect. It was two for one wine draws at Outback, so life was GOOD!

Yesterday Duane and I spent most of the day just "hanging out". He made sugar cookies and got stuff done at his place, and I spent most of the afternoon watching the Food Network. All I can say is that it's good that I only have basic cable...if I had the Food Network and HGTV, THAT'S ALL I'D DO!!! Every show that came on was an "I've got to watch this" moment.

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner EVERYTHING was about preparing turkey and the fixings, and now I wish I was going to be around for Thanksgiving! The recipes for leftovers alone, makes me want to rush out now and roast a turkey! Oy again!

Okay...rambling now, so will close. Hope things are going well for you, and, as we launch into the holiday season, work HARD to stay mellow, enjoy what the holidays are all about, and remember to take time for YOU during the craziness!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

MEA Weekend

Wow! I can't believe it's been almost a month since I last posted. Sorry to all (two) of you who keep checking in, and getting the same old September entry!

School is SO BUSY now with the "new" way of doing things, that I just don't have time to sit down and "putz" at the computer like I used to. I'm getting the hang of the "open schedule" thing now, and, am still CRAZY BUSY, but have settled into the groove enough that I think I can get back to "other stuff" again (like keeping this blog updated).

Scholastic Book Fair came and went. I HATE the Scholastic Book Fair. Yes, it raises a little money for the library, but the cases, and toys, and posters, and gazillions of books absolutely take over the media center. It was up for TWO weeks this year instead of 5-7 days and it was ABSOLUTE CHAOS from start to finish. This year we added the fun element of students STEALING stuff. So NOT doing the book fair again next year (especially if the magazine fundraiser that we're doing next week produces results!).

MEA conferences were last week (Minnesota Education Association). "Technically" we're all supposed to go to workshops, meet and greets, and lectures, but 98% of us just take a four day weekend and go somewhere. It's actually the BUSIEST travel weekend of the year here in the Twin Cities (even busier than Thanksgiving or Christmas), since the students are off too.
It's always an adventure to see if Duane and I will be able to get anywhere (travelling "standby" as we do!). This year, we were able to get to Kansas City. I exciting, and I felt the same way too, but, we got there...and it's actually a pretty cool place!

We ate some FABBO barbecue (for almost every meal while we were there, in fact!), walked around the City Market, shopped at the HUGE antique mall up the street from the market, went to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library (which was REALLY well done, and is celebrating it's 50th year!), climbed to the top of the World War I monument and looked out over the city, toured the AWESOME art museum there, and ATE AT A WAFFLE HOUSE (I know...gross, but Duane and I LOVE Waffle House, and it's the only place that I can get sweet tea).

It was a NICE chance to get out of the cities, and the best part is that it was WARM and SUNNY! Minnesota hasn't been EITHER lately (with the exception of yesterday and today). I'm SO not looking forward to winter, and it was REALLY nice to be able to wear shorts one last time!
I was going to head down to Fairfield for the weekend, but Tena has rehearsals the entire time (she's so busy!).

Had also talked about going to Tomah, WI to see Amy with Robin, but Amy already had plans, so, instead, ended up going to a fire pit "party" with some school people on Friday night, and Duane and I took a "road trip" yesterday, and went antiquing in Canon Falls (after a stop at the bakery that Duane LOVES!).

Found a couple of recipe boxes (with recipes included, of course!). WORST RECIPE OF ALL TIME (in one of the boxes that I didn't buy): Banana Salmon Salad (canned salmon, sliced banana, pineapple, celery, mayonnaise, and a couple of other GROSS items that I've blocked out...ish!).

Hoping to get down to Fairfield in a few weeks. I need to make another trip down there before winter makes the trip too tricky (what can I say...I'm a winter driving CHICKEN!). Several trips to the cities in blizzards, ice storms, and white out conditions (when Robin and David lived here, and I was still in Iowa) have resulted in this "fear"!

Not much else to "ramble on about" at this point. Hope your Sunday is going well, and that it hasn't gotten too "wintry" yet where YOU are!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Theater Night!

Duane and I had DATE NIGHT on Thursday. It was GREAT fun. We went downtown (Minneapolis) and had dinner at "The Newsroom" of my favorite Twin Cities restaurants. I had the margherita flatbread, which was DIVINE, and he had the ravioli, which he said was delightful as well.

After a SPEEDY dinner, we went to the Orpheum to pick up our tickets for "The Wedding Singer". WHAT A FUN SHOW! It's based on the movie, but has been turned into a really fun, 80's retro, be-bopping fun time! The music was AWESOME ("Hey, get out of the dumpster" being one of my new favorite musical theater songs!), the dancing was REALLY, REALLY well done, and the story was silly, but a HOOT! My favorite line of the whole show was "Is what he said, fake Imelda Marcos, true?" (you'll have to see the show to know what THAT'S all about, but TRUST's really funny!).

Duane and I haven't done the "theater thing" since the Judy Garland tribute, "Over the Rainbow", at the Minnesota History Theater, so it was REALLY good to get back into the audience of one of these things! Even MORE fun to enjoy it. I think I got a little burnt out on theater awhile back. Maybe it was the shows that I was seeing, or maybe it was just having DONE so many shows, but I wasn't enjoying sitting through them AT ALL. I was bored, and critical, and just didn't want to be there.

I'm also excited that I FINALLY got that little "I need to do another show" twinge. I haven't had that feeling for a REALLY long time...not sure if it's just that I've been too busy and "two jobb-y" to even CONTEMPLATE doing a show, or that I just needed a LONG break from the whole "rehearsal,-over-extend-myself,-almost-have-a-nervous-breakdown-from-all-the-stress-and-exertion,-get-sick-from-lack-of-sleep-and-bad-diet" thing.

Anyhoo...I'm thinking I'll pursue the community theater thing again. Andy, at work, found a GREAT website for auditions in the Twin Cities, (, so I think I'll check it out, and, at the very least, start getting some auditions under my belt again. Haven't done THAT for awhile, and, the only PROFESSIONAL audition that I did up here was kind of a disaster, so I need to "get back on the horse" again!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

BOP Car Show

Last weekend was a HOOT! Friday night, I had to work my "one day a month" shift at the mall (to keep my discount). I was prepared to quit at the end of the shift, but, Angie was actually in a good mood, and the customers weren't COMPLETELY annoying (it's amazing what a month off can do for your attitude), so, I decided that I'll stick with this "once a month" plan, until I DO NOT enjoy it anymore, and THEN I'll quit. I'm thinking that'll be some time around December...I'm SO not doing the holiday retail thing this year...yech!

Saturday morning, Duane picked me up in the Riviera, and we went to the BOP car show in Apple Valley (don't ask me what BOP stands for...I have no idea). I didn't think I'd particularly enjoy sitting on a lawn chair with Duane and about 150 other "old car" enthusiasts, but, the people were nice, and complimentary of the car, and the weather was cool enough that it didn't SUCK! We met some nice people (although they all seem a little too "into cars" for my personal taste, but, I guess that's the IS a car show after all).

Duane met a guy who has the same car that he/we have (although the other guy's car is a 1st edition, and his/ours is a 2nd edition...whatever that means). Duane got some good pointers on where to get car emblems (to replace the ones that are missing on his/our car), got info on joining the Buick club, and the Riviera club (a little TOO over the top for me!), and we got to see some REALLY cool old cars. Many decades were represented, as were many models of cars.

Pat met us at the car show, and she and I were going to bop (no pun intended) off to look at some lofts that were on the Parade of Homes tour, but, Duane asked if we could stay a little longer, so we did, ate some BBQ, and then ALL of us went to St. Paul to look at lofts. Pat is working on her interior design degree, and has to design a loft as a class project, so wanted to get some ideas. We saw some nice ones along the river, some small ones in the converted train station downtown, and some REALLY cool ones in an old warehouse near the farmer's market. I SO want to live in a converted loft now! The new ones were nice, but the converted lofts had SUCH brick, beams, HUGE rooms...very cool!

Sunday, Duane and I went on the tour of historic homes in the Summit Avenue area of St. Paul...very posh, and very expensive (and, apparently, Summit Avenue is inhabited by LOTS of "family" this, gay that, gay everything...interesting...)! LOVED some of the houses, thought MOST of them, however, were tres tacky. Goes to prove that just because you have money, doesn't mean you have taste. Some of the houses were SERIOUSLY in need of a professional decorator. SO SAD...I have LOADS OF GOOD TASTE, but absolutely NO money...sigh...

Went to Robin and Dave's for dinner Sunday night. Had Robin's FAMOUS avgolimono (Greek egg and lemon soup), made a run to Bergen's for ice cream, and got to play with the kittens (which aren't very "kitten-like" anymore!). Hadn't spent time with them since the PREVIOUS weekend, so had LOTS of catching up to do!

BUSY weekend, but, it echoes my BUSY weeks these days. Will have to take a weekend SOON to just collapse and do nothing! Certainly can't keep up this pace for long! I don't think there's ANYTHING on the social calendar for this next weekend, so will have to take THAT opportunity to relax and recouperate!

Hope YOUR week is going well!

Monday, September 10, 2007


We've officially been in school (with students) for a week now, and I'M EXHAUSTED!
I've realized that there's a lot of "forgetting" involved in teaching (maybe so that we'll come back year after year to do it all again!). I forget EVERY YEAR how much energy it takes to teach. I also forget how EARLY I should be going to bed, and how EARLY I have to get up to get ready to go to work.

Things are going well, so far, this year. I'm still "babysitting" (providing prep) for kindergarten and 1st graders, and I ALSO forget how YOUNG, and SCARED, and...YOUNG...the entering kindergartners are. I've forgotten that they don't know how to walk in a line from point "A" to point "B", and that if you tell the first person in line to "walk over there", the second and third and fourth and ninth and eighteenth person ALSO need to be told to do so... I FORGET that they cry because they miss their mommies and daddies and pets. I FORGET that some have had a gazillion books read to them and know how to listen, while others have never HAD a book read to them before and have NO CONCEPT of what it means to listen. Oy!

The rest of my day is spent planning, and organizing, and charting out how my year is going to work. It has been LOVELY to have just a couple of classes a day, and LOTS of time to prepare lessons, work on "library business", and get stuff organized and redone without having to stay for HOURS after school. I wanted to make sure that people didn't think I was GOOFING OFF down in the media center, so I've already seen all of the second grades and most of the third grades for "library orientation". 45 minutes of stories, review, and library checkout to get the year's been CRAZY BUSY, but it's also been fun to do things the way they SHOULD be done...the way I've always WANTED them to be done.

In other school related news: I FINALLY get to make my "this is how the media center will work this year" presentation to the staff on Wednesday. I've had a GAZILLION questions from them that could have (and would have) been answered by now, if the principal hadn't taken all of the meeting time for his stuff, and I'd been able to present it at the opening days meeting, as scheduled. All classroom checkouts would now be scheduled, teachers would be using the table area and the story step area for classroom activities, and things would be up and present aren't. Oy again!

Other than that small glitch, it really IS starting out to be a wonderful year. For the first time since I began teaching at this school, I'm optimistic, and think that I really will FINALLY start making a difference in the educational growth of our students!

Hope this finds YOU all doing well with YOUR jobs, FORGETTING what you need to so that YOU'LL go back again and again, and that YOUR jobs are evolving in positive ways too!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Minnesota State Fair!

Wow! Where did the summer go? I know that I said that I was SO ready for school to start, but...ACK!... it starts tomorrow! I DEFINITELY have different feelings going into it this year, as my job will be so DIFFERENT, and so much BETTER, but I SO have to prove myself right from the start, and show everyone that the "new" media program is the way to go. I'm TOTALLY up for the challenge, but am SO TERRIFIED going into it.

To focus on OTHER things (as the clock continues to tick away to that "early bedtime because you have school tomorrow" thing...ack again!). Duane and I had a LOVELY weekend here in the cities. On Saturday, we got up bright and early and went to the Minnesota State Fair. Neither of us has been there before...Duane because he just hadn't gotten there yet, and me because I HATE the whole "Great Minnesota Get Together" nickname (it's stupid and...stupid...I much prefer the Iowa State Fair, which just seems more like a real fair than this "city" thing). We both finally decided that this was the year.

We took the shuttle from Eagan (very well coordinated by the MVTA (Minnesota Valley Transit Authority)). The bus dropped us off at the "Eagan" drop point (there was even a big sign that said "Eagan", so we'd know where to pick it up after we were finished at the fair). For $5.00, we got a round trip ride, and didn't have to worry about driving, or, worse yet, PARKING at the fair.

Were we to EVER do it again, however, I think we'd try to go on a week day EARLY in the fair schedule. To go on the LAST weekend of the fair, LABOR DAY weekend, and NOT be expecting a horrendous crowd was a little silly on my part (Duane knew that it was called SUPER SATURDAY, but, in an effort to actually GET me to go, didn't mention that part). It was fine for the first couple of hours, but by 11:00, it was wall to wall STUPID.

Highlights: deep fried Spam bites (dipped in ranch dressing), deep fried fruit on a stick, the cool chickens in the poultry barn, seeing my niece Abigail's parrot picture with a 2nd place ribbon in the education building art display. Lowlights: stupid people everywhere, crowds, we didn't find the "hotdish on a stick" stand until we were leaving, we missed the jams/preserves/baked goods ribbon winners display, I just don't get the whole "princess Kay of the milky way" dumbness, and it was rather hot!

I think we've decided that we'll try to get to the fair every TWENTY years, so I have awhile to psyche myself up for the next journey. I got a little testy and unpleasant when it got to the point where we couldn't move because there were so many people who, for no apparent reason, decided to just STOP right in front of us. I AM kind of looking forward to trying more things on sticks (but not a pronto pup, which is just a stupid Minnesota way of saying CORN DOG...!), but am DEFINITELY not in any hurry!

On Saturday, we drove up to Taylors Falls to climb around on the rocks, enjoy the GORGEOUS scenery around the St. Croix river, and eat greasy fried food and drink home made root beer at our favorite "drive in". It was even hotter than the day before, but it was nice and shady throughout most of the park, and I got some AWESOME pictures (about 250 of them) while we were there (Duane is SO not enjoying how much I enjoy my digital camera!). It's always a GORGEOUS drive up there, and it's SO beautiful once you finally get there.

On the way back, we stopped in Oakdale to see "The Simpson's Movie"...SO not worth the money...even the $4.50 matinee price that we paid. "The Simpsons" works well as a 30 minute cartoon, but there's just not enough there to maintain a storyline through an entire feature length film. Duane (and I) also didn't appreciate the "grown upping" of the show (Marge's character just isn't suited for taking the Lord's name in vain!). They hinted at a sequel in the closing credits...we can only hope that the show is cancelled, or there's some sort of natural disaster that keeps this from happening...oy!

Today was very mellow. Duane and I ran some errands (I had to go buy wine, so that I could be mellow and relaxed this evening, so that I can actually sleep and be "rested" for tomorrow). We also walked around Lake Nokomis and went to visit Robin and David and family, who just returned from surviving a family reunion on David's side of the family in Sioux City.

The rest of the day was spent watching multiple episodes of America's Next Top Model (the season with that crazy/scary Jade!), and updating this blog. Now I'm going to try to continue the "relaxation" with a bubble bath, soothing music, and probably a few more glasses of wine before bed!

If school is part of your life (as a teacher, student, or parent of a student) hope your school year is off to a FABULOUS start/will start off FABULOUSLY!!!!

Wish me's going to be an interesting year!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kentucky Trip

Just got back from the big CAR TRIP to Kentucky! Duane bid on a car on e-bay, but his top bid didn't meet the reserve price, so the auction kind of "sputtered out". He contacted the seller to see if they could work something out, but the guy said that someone else was interested.

Duane left it at "well, if the other deal doesn't work out, call me and we'll talk". The other deal DID fall through, and the guy was eager to get rid of the car, so Duane got a pretty good deal on it. It's a 1978 Buick Riviera, and is black and gray, and REALLY, REALLY big!

So, we flew to Kentucky to pay for, and get the car, and then drove it back to Minnesota...QUITE the long journey, but actually quite fun. The inside of the car is HUGE, with leather seats, and, considering that it's almost 30 years old, in REALLY good condition (see interior photo attached)!

We weren't sure how it would do on the way back, but, except for the engine coolant boiling over because the car only had HALF the antifreeze it was supposed to have, and the glitch in which the wipers started flapping crazily, and then whirring and "thumping" at the base of the window until the fuse was removed, it all went very smoothly. We met some LOVELY mechanics along the way (SHOUT OUT to the guys at Firestone in Indianapolis, Indiana....THANKS for your help!).

On the way back, we stopped in Galena, Illinois for a few days. LOVELY town, and we stayed at a FABULOUS bed and breakfast, but it rained most of the time we were there. The shops were great, and the old buildings and architecture were amazing. I took about 200 photos! I highly recommend the Admiral's Park Avenue B&B. Sharon is a hoot, the beds are REALLY comfortable, and the breakfasts are delightful! I also recommend eating at Fried Green Tomatoes, an upscale DELICIOUS Italian restaurant on Main Street...the garlic bread and salad before the meal are TO DIE FOR!

After one day and two nights (we got in REALLY late on Saturday night after driving through Kentucky, Indiana, and most of Illinois), we continued the drive back to Eagan. We went through Greeley, IA and Strawberry Point, IA so that Duane could see the places that his aunt and uncle and cousin used to live. Got some GREAT photos in both towns, and we ate at a cafe in Strawberry Point called "The Franklin Hotel Coffee Shop". The food was GREAT, but the service wasn't. Didn't take that long, but, by Twin Cities standards, that place wouldn't stay in business a week!

Drove back over some flooded creeks and rivers, but nothing nearly as bad a Minnesota City, and the other parts of South Eastern Minnesota that were recently deluged with rain and floods. My heart goes out to them...what a mess!

I had some reservations about going on this trip...wasn't sure AT ALL that the car would make it, and really wasn't sure WHY Duane wanted another car anyway, but, it's a REALLY NICE car, and we had some REALLY great together time, and it was REALLY great to get out of the cities for awhile!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hate the Mall!

Was actually contemplating NOT quitting the job at the mall this week, but, after several "incidents" have decided that I can't WAIT to get the heck out of there.

First incident, a very nice woman came in as soon as we opened on Monday and needed FOUR custom gift baskets made up to be delivered around the city. problem, except that I work alone for the first hour of the morning, and no one was there to help the OTHER customers that came in the store. NONE of the basket making supplies that I needed were stocked (fill, ribbon, etc.), and I couldn't go to the back room, and leave the floor "unmanned", to get the stuff I needed.

Luckily, Bobbi came in early, and was willing to start early to take care of the other people that came in, and free me up to spend the next hour and a half making, shrink wrapping, addressing, and couriering them out.

Second incident, and the one that REALLY made me ready to quit IMMEDIATELY, was a $@#!& (rhymes with "witch") of an old biddy that came in. Robin and David and the girls stopped in, and were JUST getting ready to go, when Abigail gave me a hug. I was standing near the salsa display, and her hand bumped a jar of salsa and sent it crashing to the floor, where it broke and made a lovely mess.

Abigail is going through a "doesn't handle embarassment very well" phase, and burst into tears. As I'm trying to calm her down, aformentioned $@#!& says "I think HE did it" (referring to me). My back was to her, and I remained focused on Abigail. A few seconds later, $@#!& says "sir, you should turn around and look at this" (referring to the mess). After thinking "butt out...this doesn't concern you", and continuing to focus on Abigail, she says AGAIN "sir, you should take care of this" (or something similarly NOT HER CONCERN, and EQUALLY annoying).

I turned around to see that, YES, there was a jar of salsa broken on the floor. She looked fine, and didn't seem to be splattered or anything, so I went back to Abigail, who was still hysterically crying into Robin's stomach. APPARENTLY, over-priviledged, self-absorbed, biddy wasn't used to not being fawned over, and made a big deal of, so went to Helga (my co-worker), and said something to the effect of "he should be more concerned about his customers, and not worry about a crying child" (among other whiny, "holier than thou" things that I won't go into detail about now)...ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!! What PLANET is she from...the world of "I'm an old crochety woman, who's had her way for WAY too long, and didn't have someone "slap me down" in my formative years to keep me from becoming such a HAG" land??!!

David, the brother-in-law, came over a minute or two later, and said that the $@#!& was "ragging on me" to Helga. I looked at him, and said, "do I seem concerned at all?", which I wasn't (what are they going to me?!) and saw them calmly out the door.

I'M SURE the hoity toity, rich HAG will be calling corporate to report my "insensitivity to her candy purchasing needs", but, as I mentioned earlier, I DON'T GIVE A RIP. People like that SO annoy me! TRUST ME...if I HAD turned around to talk to her, I probably would have been fired on the spot...the things that I THOUGHT of saying to her were NOT exactly "customer service" friendly... That whole "the customer is always right" BULLSHIT is for the birds. My new motto is "if they're stupid and annoying, let them know that they are stupid and annoying, and REALLY should be focusing their purchasing dollars in another direction" (like education, therapy, or some sort of etiquette classes)(which is ALSO why I need to get out of retail...before I get slapped or arrested by the "customer service" police...).

I CAN'T WAIT to end this STUPID job....I'm REALLY not enjoying it...AT ALL...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Bridge Collapse

What a CRAZY last few days this has been! That a 40 year old bridge can just DROP into the river is UNBELIEVALBE (as is watching the video of the bridge actually falling...check out CNN's website for the video)!

We're all fine. Robin had been across the bridge a COUPLE OF TIMES earlier in the day, but was with the family at the mall when it dropped. Duane WAS downtown at a business dinner (which I THANKFULLY didn't know about until later!), but he was on the other side of downtown.

I was working at the mall, and only got bits and pieces from various customers as they came into the store. My first call of the evening came from the manager of the store, who had left to go home about 30 minutes earlier. She doesn't take that route, so was fine. My dad called a little while later to let me know that HE had heard the news from a cousin in San Diego!

I left a couple of messages for Robin and Dave, and for Duane, but only got voice mail. Being a worrier, I started getting a little nervous...especially when no one returned my calls. Finally dad called back to say that he had been in touch with Robin and Dave, and, a few minutes later they stopped in the store. What a relief!

Didn't hear from Duane until about 9:45, and by then I was a little freaked out. I was pretty sure he was just "out and about". but it's not like him to be out all evening, and not to return my call fairly quickly...oy! Had I known he was actually DOWNTOWN at the time, I would TOTALLY have freaked.

Have had some LOVELY calls from old friends checking up on me. Dianne in Birmingham, Pat in Nebraska, Shellie in Des Moines, George in Tingley, Kelly in Seattle, mom and dad...nice to know that people are concerned!

Pray for the people that were NOT so fortunate. Several families, and lots of lives were altered by this HORRIBLE calamity. I can't help but wonder if our "no new taxes" governor is quite as smug these days. Turning down the big transporation bill last year certainly seems like a mistake now...!!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Harry Potter Day!

Happy Harry Potter Day! Feeling TOTALLY stupid as I sit here writing this...I'm actually staring out the deck doors watching for the UPS truck to deliver my copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". How lame is that??!! I went to bed last night at 11:30, and SERIOUSLY considered getting dressed and running over to Wal-Mart to buy a copy (they're open all night, and I figured if I waited awhile, all of the "hoopla" would die down pretty quickly, and I could snag a copy and go home). SO too old to do the "standing in line for three hours" thing, but I DID consider it (briefly).

So...the upshot is that I'm sitting here at 8:45 in the morning STRESSING out about how many people have probably already finished the book, and are AT THIS MOMENT blogging up a storm, and giving away the ending as I type this. Can't watch the news or even LOOK at anyone even remotely looking like a "Harry junkie". THAT'LL be tricky!

I can't believe the phenomenon that is Harry Potter started TEN years ago with the publication of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". I remember how, as a children's librarian, I was ENTHRALLED by that book. I read it to "know what my library patrons were reading", but got HOOKED immediately. I really enjoy J.K. Rowling's writing style, and her storytelling skills are AMAZING...such imagination and creativity.

I know that many people have a problem with the whole "witchcraft and wizardry" thing, but it's SO MUCH MORE than just about the "magic"! It's about good triumphing over evil (I think...I'M STILL WAITING FOR THE UPS TRUCK TO GET HERE!), overcoming adversity, building friendships, chivalry, being honest and true to yourself, and COUNTLESS other good qualities and virtues. It's also been AWESOME in getting boys to read (a MAJOR accomplishment), and has paved the way for LOADS of other books that pique guys' interest! (For more great books for guys, go to author Jon Sciezska's website

Okay...enough rambling...guess I'll continue tapping my fingers, pacing, and getting a little stressy until I see that big brown truck barrelling down the road with my weekend's activity safely tucked in that WONDERFUL cardboard.

Hope YOU got your copy, and are enjoying (maybe not the right word, as it's rumored TWO main characters are going to die!) your last visit to Howarts. I'm so lame...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Running Around the Cities with My Sister

Met Robin for breakfast at Hell's Kitchen downtown yesterday. What a cool place! I had the lemon ricotta flapjacks with fresh fruit. VERY good! Robin had the porridge and sausage bread. Looked good, but I was too busy cramming the pancakes down to really notice!

Went to "Loft Antiques" and "Hunt and Gather" on 50th in South Minniapolis afterwards. Hunt and Gather is SO COOL! I LOVE "paperabilia", and they have lots of bins of miscellaneous flash cards from the 70's, grocery store sale posters, playing cards, game pieces, school nutrition cutouts...very cool. It's all jumbled together in big bins, so is a little overwhelming, but, if you have the patience to sift through all of it, you can find some AWESOME stuff! They also have oilcloth bags and purses that they've made out of some really campy patterns.

Not a very exciting blog entry, but, it's summer...there's not much happening right now. Robin and I had fun "playing" for the morning!

Worked the last FIVE days in a row at the mall, and TOTALLY remember why I was so excited for school to start again last August. The mall SUCKS! By day THREE of this last "work week", I was ready to SLAP anyone who came through the door. I SERIOUSLY don't know how retail people do this week after week after week after week!!! Add to that the fact that it's "secret shopper" time, and we have a bunch of STUPID things to say that we don't normally say (and which make us sound IDIOTIC and pushy).

I DID give my "soft notice" Monday. I say SOFT, because I told the manager that, with my new job description I'd have to devote WAY more time to job #1, but ALSO that my finances haven't improved any, so living on one income still might not work. I left it so that I could call her a month or so down the line (after my final day of August 18th), and come back if I needed to. She was very understanding, and I felt really bad quitting (especially since Kayla quit last week). Not bad enough to NOT quit, but still bad...

I have today off, and, as usual, have NO IDEA what to do with unstructured time. Maybe I'll go and clean something...!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 2, 2007

IB in Cincinnati

I can't believe it's already JULY!!?? I'd say "where has the summer gone", but I've really only been out of school for a few weeks, so the summer's still YOUNG!!

Just spent a few days in Cincinnati for IB training (for school). Didn't get much out of the training, but DID get to know some staff members at school better, AND met a woman from Dusseldorf, who I clicked with, and now Duane and I have a place to stay when we go and visit in November. I LOVE it when you meet someone that you instantly "click" with, and Susie and I did! She's a teacher at an international school there, and seems like she's GREAT fun (didn't get much "socialization" time what with all the workshopping and stuff!).

Wouldn't necessarily go back to Cincinnati anytime soon, but they DID have some fun restaurants and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is NOT to be missed. Toured the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and, except for the torrential downpour while we were trapped outside, was very nice!

After returning from Cincinnati, I had a day to regroup, then Duane and I headed down to Fairfield for a LONG overdue visit. Tena was in a play, and we COULDN'T not see it! SHE was usual. She has SUCH a commanding presence on stage...such a seasoned pro!

The show was 3 1/2 hours long, and got a little tedious in parts (Tena was only on at the beginning and the end, so, as far as I'm concerned, they could have cut the entire middle part, and just featured her bits!).

It was SO good to be home again. Even after SEVEN years of being away, I still had people running up and giving me hugs. Tena's next door neighbor is the parent of one of the kids that I had in storytime. As soon as I got there, she came over with a post card from her daughter (who is now in film school), and wanted to let me know that her daughter credits ME with being one of her first "storyteller" inspirations for her work. It was NICE to get some positive affirmations! I DON'T necessarily feel like I make much of a difference in my current job...I DO miss being a big fish in a little pond!

Also ran into another "storytimer" while in a cool kitchen store on the square. I walked in, and the girl behind the counter had this "there's Santa Claus"-ish look on her face. I had NO IDEA who she was (everyone has grown up!), but, luckily we were hanging with dear friend Carol, and she said her name, and I was able to punt from there. Previous storytimer has grown into quite a pretty young lady! It was good to see her again!

Was FINALLY able to reconnect with Carol. Let's just say she's not the best at returning phone calls, so, by chance, we were driving down Fillmore, and she and Tim and DeeAnn were out in the yard. We stopped to chat, and ended up making plans to spend most of Saturday with Carol.

I REALLY love Carol. She's got some REAL self-esteem problems from things that have happened in her life, and it's too bad, because she's a WONDERFUL person. I'm hoping that being back in her life will give her some positive energy! Years ago, when she and Duane met, they clicked right away, and it's always nice to see them interact so warmly!

We also got a private tour of the new Stephen Sondheim Center, which will open in October, with a grand gala (Bernadette Peters and Matthew Broderick may be there!) in December. Suzie., an old family friend, has been heading this all up for 10 years, and gave us the's going to be SO COOL! I'm SO jealous, and SO want to move back, but, have realized for several years now that there's no going back. Duane and I CERTAINLY couldn't be who we are there...sigh...

Had lunch at Revelations (FABBO feta spinach pizza), dinner at Petit Paris (the coq au vin was delightful), and breakfast at the Fairfield Family Diner (a wonderful egg, bacon, and cheese croissant).

The big DOWNER of the weekend was that Tena was so busy with the show, but we DID get to stay up REALLY LATE Saturday night to catch up for awhile, and I'm going to go back in early August, so that we can spend a little more time together. I do so love that girl!

It's been such a CRAZY BUSY week, that I COLLAPSED last night...went to bed at sad is that??!! GREAT week, with lots of interesting things, but I'm looking forward to a few weeks of just being home now!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer "Vacaction"!!

The last week of school was a TOTAL blur. It always is, but I forget (or block out!) how FRIED the teachers are, and how DONE the students are, when we all come back for that one last week of chaos! Add to that the fact that I had to work all day Sunday (the weekend before) at the mall, two nights that week, and all day Saturday (after it was all over), and I'm COMPLETELY exhausted!'s over, we all survived, and summer is HERE! Whoo hoo! Work A LOT at the mall this week, but at least it's only ONE job (that I'm quitting in about two months...whoo hoo again!), and it's all good!

Had dinner at Kate and Bill's house in the hills around Stillwater Saturday night. It was lovely. Steak on the grill just can't be beat. Brought my (actually Family Circle's) tiramisu bundt cake for dessert. It was DEFINITELY a hit (Duane didn't want to leave the leftovers there...luckily Kate and Bill just took a few slices and sent the rest home...otherwise there WOULD have been trouble!).

Spent Sunday at the car show at the fairgrounds (I know...don't ask...Duane really wanted to go...!), and had dinner at the Italian Pie Shoppe here in FAVORITE pizza ever (pepperoni and green olive, of course!)!

Spent Monday antiquing in Cannon Falls and Rochester with Robin. We took the was NICE (actually hot and a little blowy, but you have to expect that...right?!). Found a really cool 50's toy refrigerator with WAY cool graphics inside. I'm thinking of redecorating my kitchen in vintage 50's metal toys now because of it (with all of my "expendible income" you know...ha!).

Robin found some cool vintage suitcases to use to "landscape" the living room. She has one opened on top of the entertainment center with a plant in it, and the others stacked up beside it. They are in dark reds and cream, and look really good. She also has a stack of "normal" sized suitcases stacked up beside the sofa (when the sofa arrives from Pottery Barn, that is), that will be used as sort of an "end table". It's going to look AWESOME!

Had coffee with Pat today. She's leaving for Switzerland to teach for the summer on Thursday. I'm SO going to miss having her around this summer! Who am I going to meet for coffee now??!! Luckily, she'll have e-mail access over there, so we're going to have "virtual coffee" until she gets back.

That pretty much sums up my summer so far. It usually takes a week or two to get into the "summer groove". At this point, I'm feeling a little "discombobulated". Luckily that'll pass soon, and I can settle into the summer "unroutine". Need to start walking and lifting weights again, so that I can lose a little bit of this blubber (the summer shorts aren't fitting as comfortably as they should!).

Will hopefully be better at keeping this blog up to date so that all (one!) of you can keep up on my summer! Hope all is well!

Happy summer!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Iowa Visit

Starting each entry with "haven't had a chance to blog all week" is getting a little redundant, so I'll start this one off by saying..."me again"...

FINALLY heard from Dianne in Birmingham, AL. Had been concerned, because we hadn't been in touch for a few years. She's one of my dearest friends, from CLEAR BACK in high school, and I really treasure her friendship, so, did a "good ole" google search, and found her e-mail address (in reference to contacting her about a play that she was directing). Sent a note to the address, and heard from her a few days later. SO GOOD to be in touch with her again!

She and I tried to "date" when we first met, but I did a few things on that date that pretty much GUARANTEED that we would end up as close friends and nothing else (like introducing a family friend that was visiting that night as my dad, and talking about my introverted older brother Chip, who never came downstairs when we had company (I don't have an older brother)). She was a GREAT sport, and we've been "buds" ever since. Oh...and the fact that I'm gay may have had something to do with that too...!

When she and her husband were stationed in Germany, and I was living in Japan, I went to visit one spring, and she and I took a weekend trip to Paris (with a military tour). It was a hoot. People couldn't figure out if we were brother and sister (she'd dyed her hair red), or husband and wife, or what. SUCH FUN! That was my first trip to Paris...what a blast!

Also heard from cousin Kim in Des Moines tonight. We haven't been very good at staying in touch lately either, so it was good to catch up with her too. Duane and I and Robin and David and family are headed to southern Iowa this weekend for Memorial Day, so hopefully we can all "hook up" at the lake house. REALLY excited to get to Iowa. Wish I could make it to Fairfield sometime soon, but there are a few "problems", logistically, so don't know when that's going to happen...sigh...

Not much else to report. Helped Robin and Dave move YET MORE furniture last Saturday, and spent Sunday working at the mall, so the weekend was, basically, a wash. The remodel at Robin and Dave's is almost finished, and it all looks GORGEOUS! They're having a big "housewarming/we survived the remodel" party at the end of June. Lots of out of town guests, so it'll be good to "catch up" with everyone!

One of the apartments in my building had a fire earlier today. Apparently, they left a pan of grease on the stove and it ignited. Most of the damage was confined to their apartment (which is just across the hall from me). Could have been SUCH a big disaster, so God was looking out for all of us here! One of the other buildings in the complex was completely gutted a couple of months ago by someone who threw a cigarette out their deck door. TEN apartments were destroyed, and TEN families/people had to find new places to live... SMOKERS SUCK! (If you are a friend of mine, and you smoke...I apologise, but you REALLY do need to quit do it!).

On that note...hope this finds you well, and happy, and enjoying life to the fullest!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sick Day Entry #3

Haven't had a chance to blog all week! Took another sick day on Tuesday. Just am NOT able to shake this thing. Robin & Dave and family came over for dinner Tuesday night (postponed from when I felt even worse on Sunday night!). I made my FAMOUS Chipotle Mac 'n Cheese (actually it's from Cooking Light). It was a LITTLE too spicy, but still good!

After they left, I was feeling a little out of touch with friends, so spent the next few hours on the phone. Tried to call Tena, but she wasn't home (and hasn't called me back yet...!), talked to Amy from Sheboygan for about an hour, then called Trish in Chicago (she wasn't home. I left a message, and she called back as soon as she got the message, but I was on the phone). After that, I called Jim in Kalona, and we FINALLY had a chance to catch up after a few months. It was REALLY good to reconnect with some AWESOME friends!

After taking Tuesday as a sick day, I had to work at the mall after the "real job" on Wednesday and Thursday. I'm SO not well enough for TWO twelve hour days in a row! (I'm old and sick...remember?!).

Friday was "just" a school work day, and afterwards, I went to Jerry's Greenhouse and FINALLY bought a few things for my deck garden. I bought a couple of pole bean plants to grow up the trellis on my deck (to curb the view that my "across the courtyard" neighbor has into my apartment, which he seems WAY too interested in...!). I also bought some alyssum and purple striped petunias. Still need LOTS of stuff, but, not until payday...oy!

Duane is sick (NOT with my cold, I'm sure...he must have picked something else up somewhere else!!!), so we're having another mellow weekend. I have to work at the mall tomorrow (rah...Mother's Day at the mall...have I mentioned how much I HATE that job right now??!!). I COULD have been at mom and dad's this weekend with Robin and Dave and family, helping drag stuff out of their basement, which was flooded with about 24 inches of water, due to excessive rains, this week...oh wait...I guess that's a GOOD thing that I couldn't go...never mind!

Have a GLORIOUS weekend, and take time to smell the roses (or whatever is blooming in YOUR yard this week!).

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sick Day Entry #2

Not a lot to say at this point. I've spent the last THREE days on the sofa, hacking and wheezing, and feeling WAY too weak to just be suffering from a cold, but, perhaps I'm a TOTAL wimp, and this is what it's going to be like as I get older...sigh...

LUCKILY, there was an "America's Next Top Model" marathon on MTV, and I got to see cycle TWO from (almost) start to finish. MAN, I like that show! Was TOTALLY sad that Shandi didn't get it, but Yoanna IS gorgeous, so it's all good. I LIKED the "follow up" episode they did at the end. They haven't done that in later cycles, and it was AWESOME to see "where they are now" (or at least where they were when cycle two ended!).

REALLY need to get out of the apartment...getting a little stir crazy, but, I'm also a little shaky, so will probably stay in. Cancelled dinner with Robin and David and family tonight (didn't want to give them my germs, and SO am not up for cooking), but will get together with Duane for the finale of "The Amazing Race"...GO CHARLA AND MIRNA!!!

Happy Sunday to all!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sick Day Entry #1

Home on a sick day today. Too bad you have to feel so CRAPPY when you're sick. I COULD be getting a lot done, but, so far, I've spent most of the day on the sofa, drinking hot tea and moaning. I'm in the beginning throes of a bad cold, I think. Right now I sound like a cross between Levi Stubbs from the Four Tops, and "Lurch" from the Addams Family.

Haven't been able to croak out more than a few incomprehensible syllables all morning (I've been practicing talking, because OF COURSE, as a teacher, I feel extremely guilty for taking a sick day, and, even though there's NO WAY I'll be able to go in tomorrow either, I'm still thinking I MIGHT be okay enough to try...!).

My colds ALWAYS start this attacking my throat. Usually it's a bad sore throat (which I've also had in the last 24 hours). After a week, or so, I feel better, but then get CLOBBERED by round 2...earache. I'm REALLY, REALLY hoping to avoid that this time, but we'll see. Hadn't HAD an earache since I was 10, but, about six years ago, started getting them again...what's up with that??!!

Not much to report at this point...I'm groggy, and wheezy, and probably a few of the other 7 dwarves too (sleep and grumpy, for sure!). I'm also BORED, BORED, BORED. I don't "do" sick very well...sigh...

Hope YOU are well, and enjoying what looks like a LOVELY Thursday afternoon out there. I'm going to drink more tea, and snuggle under the blanket on the sofa for the rest of the day...sigh...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Washington D.C.

Wow! I haven't had a chance to blog for awhile now! Mom and dad came up last weekend, and we moved TONS (literally!) of furniture. Robin and Dave and family spent the last week in a hotel while the floor people refinished the hard wood floors. Went over tonight, and they are GORGEOUS! I'm AGAIN so jealous!

Just spent the weekend in Washington, D.C. with Duane. We stayed with our friend Peggy and had a GREAT time. Dad was there for a SIRWA conference. Spent yesterday showing him around. We hit the botanical gardens, the air and space museum, Arlington National Cemetary, and dad and I had dinner at Pizzeria Uno at Union Station while Duane and Peggy caught up over dinner. We did LOTS of walking, and it was EXHAUSTING, but lots of fun.

Now I'm back in...lovely Minnesota, bracing for another work week. It was GREAT to get away for awhile, and I MAY be able to survive another week of school! Only 29 student days left till SUMMER! Whoo hoo!

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Miscellaneous it is already April 19th (HAPPY BIRTHDAY Linda D.!!!), and I haven't had a chance to blog for DAYS! This is BIRTHDAY month in my life! Abigail's birthday was the 13th (see "bad uncle" blog for April 14th). LaDawn's birthday was the 14th, Emilie's birthday was the 17th, and Linda's birthday is today.

Luckily, I got together with Robin and David and Emilie and Abigail on Emilie's birthday to celebrate. We went to D'Amico and Sons for dinner (had the dried cherry pasta DIE for!), and Cafe Latte for dessert (LOVE their desserts!).

Called Linda tonight to sing the "Happy birthday song". Haven't talked to her for WEEKS, so it was good to catch up. Her big test is Saturday, so send your good wishes her way...she's actually STUDYING on her birthday...poor dear!

Worked at the mall last night. SO not into the mall thing anymore. Ready to QUIT, but need to work the summer to save up enough money for Germany at Thanksgiving. I HAVE found that it's MUCH easier to work when you DON'T CARE what happens, or how you are doing (how BAD is that??!!). After THREE years at Harry & David, I'm a little FRIED.

Am thinking I will be WAY more fried next year with "regular" job. The one-day-a-week tech guy sat down with me today to say that he was told he wasn't needed next year, because I'D BE TAKING OVER ALL OF THE TECH RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE BUILDING. Not sure HOW that's going to work, since my main focus is SUPPOSED to be collaboratively teaching with the other staff in the building, specifically focusing on research skills and library related stuff. I'm thinking I'll HAVE to quit the mall job anyway, as I'll probably be stuck at school until ALL HOURS of the evening trying to get stuff done.

I'm CLUELESS as to things like site licenses and what programs teachers need for what things they are teaching, and Ron told me today that we are loading Windows 2007 over the summer, and the screens, programs, etc. are A LOT different than what we currently have. I'm too OLD for this crap...oy!

Not much else to check to the dept. of the treasury hasn't gone through yet (which is good...I only have $10.00 in checking until tomorrow!). I MAY actually "beat the bank" this time. I won't hold my breath though.

Mom and dad are coming up for the weekend. Robin and Dave are remodeling their kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom, and are refinishing all of the wood floors, so it's going to be a "work weekend"...that should be fun.... Mom and dad are "technically" here to help Emilie and Abigail celebrate, belatedly, their birthdays, but I'm thinking that's just a ruse on the part of Robin and Dave to get more "workers"...sigh.

Everyone is coming over here tomorrow night for my "famous" pastitsio. Here's the recipe (not sure WHERE I got it!), in case you want some FABULOUS Greek pasta:

8 oz. (2 ½ cups) uncooked ziti
1 lb. lean ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
3/4 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
3 T. margarine or butter
3 T. all purpose flour
2 cup half-and-half
1 egg
6 oz. (1 ½ cups) shredded fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese
Dash nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 12X8- inch (2 qt.) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook ziti to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook ground beef and onion over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until ground beef in thoroughly cooked and onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and cinnamon; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened and thoroughly heated.

3. Meanwhile, melt margarine in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour; cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Gradually add half-and-half, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.

4. Beat egg in medium bowl. Slowly add about half of flour mixture, stirring constantly. Return egg and flour mixture to saucepan. Add ½ cup of the cheese; stir to blend well.

5. Add cooked ziti to beef mixture in skillet; mix well. Layer half of ziti mixture in sprayed baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the cheese. Top with remaining ziti mixture. Spoon white sauce over ziti mixture. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese.

6. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly around edges, center is set and cheese is browned. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into squares.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bad Uncle!

I'm a bad, bad, bad uncle! Abigail's birthday was yesterday! Did I REMEMBER to call her on her big day...NO! Called this morning and left a "belated birthday wishes" message on the machine, and said "call me back!", but haven't heard anything yet, and that was HOURS ago.

I'm just NOT good with birthdays! Forgot Duane's birthday until around LUNCHTIME last year! Mom and dad were up and we were all having brunch at Robin's house. Dad said something like "in a few days, when it's my birthday...", and I thought to myself..."wait a minute...Duane's birthday is a few days before dad's...CRAP...!".

So...we sang happy birthday to him on the spot, but, by then I was already WAY in the dog house. (If I HAD a dog house for every time I've BEEN in the dog house, I'd have enough houses to house every dog in the WORLD!).

Made up for Duane's birthday "faux pas" by sending a b-day card every month, six months PRIOR to his birthday this year, AND gave him a card and present EVERY DAY of the week of his birthday week. Hopefully that made up for it!


Friday, April 13, 2007

Snakes on a Plane

Went over to Connie's house for drinks and dinner. Hadn't seen her town house yet...very NICE! She moved in a few months ago, and is in the process of repainting to cover up the HIDEOUS bright yellows and blues that were the SO, SO WRONG color choices of the previous owner.

Had a BLAST catching up, and I FINALLY got to see "Snakes on a Plane"...what a HORRIBLE movie! I actually thought it was a hoot, but the snake attacks on the passengers were a LITTLE over the top. I mean COME ON...lunging from a seat cushion and plunging right into someone's eye socket?? A boa constrictor large enough to circle around a man(who was a TOTAL CREEP!) 7 or 8 times and THEN unhinging it's jaw to eat his head? A snake propelling itself from a toilet, and attacking JUST THAT PLACE on a guy??? I HATE snakes, and squirmed (pardon the pun!) through the entire movie. Luckily I DIDN'T scream like a girl!

Made sure to look in MY toilet when I used it, to make sure it was "safe"!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Dinner

Haven't had a chance to "blog" for a few days...busy week!

Cooked my first Easter dinner on Sunday. Went VERY well. Had honey glazed ham in the crock pot (THANKS!), rosemary potatoes au gratin, the CLASSIC green bean casserole (with the dried onion rings on top!), and made an AWESOME almond raspberry jelly roll (courtesy of Cooking Light magazine) for dessert.

Got up at 3:00 to put the ham in the crock pot, and then went back to bed. Duane and I went to Berean for Easter services, but didn't check to see what time they met, and ended up getting there 45 minutes after the service started. We ended up watching the sermon from the lobby (on the monitor), and then going in for the first part of the NEXT service to get the "entire effect". The choir and full orchestra were AMAZING, and it was good to be in church again.
Working at Harry & David almost every Sunday, has really put a crimp in my "church going"!!!

My sister and her family came for dinner (and Duane!), and it was a FUN, ENJOYABLE day!
I hid chocolate eggs and other candy and toys around the apartment so that Emilie and Abigail could have an "Easter Egg hunt". They had a blast, and it was fun to watch them run from room to room to find them!

Extended family had a dinner in Des Moines, and, it turns out that Robin and I were the only ones in the ENTIRE extended family that weren't there, but, they all live within an hour of DSM, and we live 4 1/2 hours away, so it's fine. In fact, things went so well here, that we're thinking of making it an annual tradition (my sister and I are VERY BIG on tradition!). (Plus, Duane and I were just IN Iowa last weekend!).

Sad note: Duane's grandpa died in his sleep at "the home" on Sunday night. He was 93, and had lived a GREAT life. We're sad, but Duane is doing well. Send your thoughts and prayers to him as he attends the funeral on Friday.

Friday, April 6, 2007


Had my taxes "done" the day before yesterday...OUCH! I OWE $618 to the federal government!!! As IF they weren't taking enough...grrr... Not sure HOW that's going to get paid...I just keep sinking deeper and deeper into the "debt ocean"...ack!

Had lunch with Robin yesterday. We went to CRAVE at Southdale Mall. It's where the old Sydney's was. It was pretty good, but nothing that I'd HAVE to go back and try again (I'd WAY rather go to "Big Bowl" in the Galleria across the street...AMAZING Chinese food...especially the kung pao chicken over wide, flat noodles....YUM!).

Still windy and cold in Minnesota. The HIGH today is only supposed to be 22. It was warmer in JANUARY!!!!! At least the sun is shining. That DEFINITELY helps!

Just got back from "A Baker's Wife" with Duane. It was kind of our "commemorative" visit...we discovered it LAST YEAR on my spring break. Had the pear tart (of course!), and coffee...yum! (For more on "A Baker's Wife", see my review section!)

Duane is at the doctor having his foot x-rayed. He probably broke it a MONTH ago when he slipped on ice taking out his trash, but hasn't had it checked out. As he says..."there's nothing you can do for a broken toe anyway". It' s been bothering him more lately, so he's FINALLY having it checked out. I half expect him to come back with a plaster cast on! Hopefully it's nothing too serious!

Have a great Friday, and an AWESOME weekend!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Not sure WHY we came back to Minnesota I write this, the wind is HOWLING outside my windows (and whistling through the non-existant insulation!), it's 22 degrees, and we've got a "smattering" of snow on the IS April, right??!!

The drive up yesterday was very windy and rough...went through about a tank and a half of gas...VERY bad gas mileage. I half expected to find semi trucks in the ditch on their was THAT windy. Stopped at an AWESOME gourmet grocery store at Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines, did some antiquing at the mall in Story City, and stopped at the Russel Stover outlet for chocolate near Medford. Took longer to get back than I like, but "the journey" is the important part, right?!...and it was a good trip (aching arms from trying to keep the car on the road, aside!).

My digital camera has gone all "wanky"...I can't get the image in the LCD window to "unblur". I'm sure it has something to do with the battery dying while the camera lens was open, and not being able to close it until I recharged the battery.

Called the Olympus service center today, and, after going through some possible fixes with the AWESOME tech support woman, found that I'm going to have to send it to New York or California for THEM to fix it...great...

I'm having my taxes done this afternoon (if I'm BRAVE enough to go out into the whistling wind!). Fearing the worst (paying instead of getting a refund), but...we'll see. I need to pay a few bills, and now buy insurance and "package tracking" for my camera...can't go TOO long without it. Luckily, I kept my "filmer" for if there are any photo ops...they'll have to be taken the old fashioned way.

Duane is checking flights today to see if we can get to anyplace WARM for a few days...and even more importantly, if we can get back!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Money Woes

So it appears that things aren't as BLEAK as I previously thought (see March 30th blog). APPARENTLY, the car loan was ALWAYS a 66 month deal, and the payment book only goes up to 60 payments (???). When I talked to the rep at U.S. Bank, she said that when I would have called for that "remaining payment amount" on the final payment stub, I would have been told that there were still 6 payments left. Because of the two "skip payments", it would be 8 payments, and that would take me into December. BOY AM I TIRED OF MAKING CAR PAYMENTS! At least it's not six additional payments because of the skipped payments...the thought of that almost caused me to stroke out! (How many times CAN I write the word "payments" in one paragraph??!!)

Stressed about A LOT of things right, work, money, and I just realized that it's APRIL, and I haven't put the new tabs on my license plates, which expired in MARCH. I've heard that there's a one month grace period, and I hope that's true, because I can't get a traffic ticket for ANYTHING until August 1st, or the ticket that I got for making an illegal left turn last July goes on my record and my auto insurance rates go WAY, WAY up (which was a TOTAL "trap"...since they'd JUST put up the "no left turn" signs (which were SO not obvious) a few weeks before, and I'd been making left turns there for SEVEN YEARS, and I hadn't been through that intersection since they put up the signs, and they didn't let me off with a warning, and I had to pay $145.00 because of it)!

Trying to relax on spring break in Iowa, but, as you can see, am not having much luck. Duane and I are staying with my parents in "Hooterville". It's actually a LOVELY little town in Southwest Iowa, and there's not much to do, so relaxing is a lot easier...well for OTHER people, apparently, not me...too high strung, I guess!

Headed back to Minnesota tomorrow, after stopping at the new gourmet grocery store that we read about in the Des Moines Register yesterday. It's supposed to be near Jordan Creek Mall, so we may have to stop there as well. We're then going to stop at "The Brass Armadillo" to do some antiquiqing, and then work our way up the interstate. HOPEFULLY no one will notice the expired tabs on my license plate!!!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Life Lessons

Things Jeff Learned Too Late:

- NEVER flush an entire box of laundry detergent down the toilet because you "want the pretty box" WILL bubble A LOT, and clog the toilet for DAYS (Jeff learned this when he was 3).

- NEVER grab a cord hanging from the ceiling in ANY IS "live", and you WILL get shocked (Jeff learned this when he was 4).

- NEVER mix all of the ingredients in the cupboards in the kitchen into one big "creation", and then ask your mom if she will make pancakes...she WILL yell at you, and you WILL get into HUGE trouble (Jeff learned this when he was 4) (it was a BUSY, LEARN-Y year!).

- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER take the "you can skip this month's car payment by signing this form and returning it to your bank" option if given the opportunity, because you WILL GET STUCK WITH ABOUT 6 MONTHS OF ADDITIONAL PAYMENTS...(Jeff learned this when he was 42).


I've GIVEN UP on ever getting out of debt, or having any "extra" money at the end of any month, or of even REMOTELY feeling like I'm going to "make it" financially. I went to a financial counselor about 2 1/2 years ago, and have been in a debt management program since that meeting.

It's SUCKED, it's been REALLY, REALLY difficult, and I'm TRYING to keep that whole "just 2 1/2 more years you will have NO CREDIT CARD DEBT" concept in my head, but setbacks like the aforementioned STUPIDITY drag me down a bit...grrr again...

In other news, the "white trash ham bake" the other day was very good, and I'm going to have to get used to things like Spam, and Cheese Whiz, BECAUSE I'M GOING TO BE MAKING STUPID CAR PAYMENTS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, APPARENTLY...!!!