Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween and October Comments

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays.  The opportunity to dress up as someone or something else and change your life for a night? Plus you get free candy?  Priceless!

When I was a kid, we always had the neighborhood Halloween party at my house, and there were always adults available to take us around to get us some candy.  I remember one of those wonderful adults dressing up in a witch outfit, taking a goblet around and declaring "Drink or destruction" while we shouted "Trick or treat".  I sure hope she got some wine.

Besides being Halloween, though, it's also the last day of the month and that means it's time for me to comment on your comments.

Way back at the beginning of the month Kristi commented on a September post about Anger, because her "high school communications class taught that anger is always covering a deeper emotion, usually hurt of some kind."
I totally agree with you Kristi, but I'm not sure what to do if the hurt seems to be caused by not agreeing with someone else's opinion.  I can apologize for the hurt I've caused, as that is never my intent, and I can be gentle about expressing what I believe.  I hope that can be enough.

In the category of correcting and/or extending my posts, Alias informs us that 101 is also the last known generalized Fermat prime.  MA Reynolds shares that the anniversary of Columbus' landfall in the New World should actually be celebrated on October 23rd.
Thank you both for the additional information, even if I don't totally understand your comments.  It's a classic case of me knowing the words, but not really comprehending the totality.

To Kelly Erskine, who will be sure to call us when she goes out of town to see if we'd like to take care of her pets, as we enjoyed taking care of our friends' pets, we only work within the city limits.   Sorry.

Whether your plans include handing out candy or turning off all your lights and hiding out, I hope all of you are having a safe and happy Halloween, and that the little goblins in your lives are also safe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


These signs are all around where I am now staying.  They are a little worrisome, as the land directly inland slopes down from the ocean and is very flat.  On the other hand, when I was a kid and living here, there were no signs or directions, so I guess this is a step up.

Long, long ago I attended kindergarden a small block northeast from the beach.  At some point in that year, my teacher wisely thought that she should educate us little ones about tsunamis.  I don't remember what we learned, but I have vivid memories of the nightmares.  Boy, was my Mom pissed at that teacher!

In my nightmare (the same most nights), the tsunami came and my family was swept away from our house and away from each other.  It being a little kid's nightmare, there was none of the harsh reality of an actual tsunami. There were no trees or parts of houses to injure us, and mostly what I remember was all of us bobbing along the top of a giant wave until I woke up. Still, it was pretty scary to a five year old.

Now I know a lot more about tsunamis and the early warning system that exists.  I know what to do in case of an earthquake and I respect the power of the ocean.  I don't have nightmares about tsunamis anymore, but I am still pretty happy anytime I see this sign:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beaches of yesteryear

If you walk southeast from Venice Pier along the beach or the boardwalk, you will come to a large fenced off section of sand.  Why?  It's a preserve for the California Least Tern so that the birds have somewhere on the beach to nest.

Every time that I walk by the area, I think, "That's what this entire beach must have looked like a long time ago."  Inside there are small sand dunes, native plants, and a distinct lack of tire tracks.

It's pretty much exactly like the sand dunes we used to camp on when we were kids.  Those sand dunes were somewhere near Ensenada, Mexico and are probably completely covered by condos and hotels.

In any case, the sand outside the fence is completely different.  It doesn't have any vegetation and is completely flat.  I'm not exactly sure how the City of Los Angeles maintains it in that state, although I do know that a machine combs through the sand at least once a week dragging some tool that picks up trash.

I wonder what would happen if the entire beach were allowed to go back to nature?  I wouldn't mind laying down my towel next to some plants.  Although I would need to be careful around those least tern nests. . .

Monday, October 28, 2013

New friends

Meeting new people can be intimidating.  Meeting a large group of new people, some of whom you will have to be creative with in a small space for a prolonged period of time, can be downright daunting.  Your brain buzzes with questions:  Will I like them?  Am I dressed for the occasion?  Do my armpits stink?

This weekend I got lucky.  I got to know over twenty people I had never seen before, and they were all great!

About ten of us got together Friday night at the hotel's complementary happy hour.  The laughter flowed as freely as the alcohol, and we all shared small bits about our lives.  The next morning, the rest of the crew showed up and we all continued the meet and greet.

And you know what?  Over the course of the two days everyone was genuinely friendly, my outfits were fine, and even though my armpits did stink, no one mentioned it out loud.

Now that the weekend is over, I have nineteen new close buddies from all over the world.  I can't wait to go see them in Germany, Norway, and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sitcom room update #1

Laughing, learning, and lack of sleep.  That's what I expected to get from the Sitcom Room writing workshop and it has delivered.  I have been awake for almost twenty straight hours, much of that spent in a small room with four other people trying to be funny.

Now I'm just exhausted, so I'm going to bed.  It looks so inviting!

I'll write more later. . .

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sitcom room weekend

Today and tomorrow I am holed up in a lovely hotel next to the airport with nineteen other passionate people trying to learn how to write a script for a situation comedy.  It's a television writing class comedy workshop called the Sitcom Room run by Ken Levine, a professional comedy writer who has written for M*A*S*H*, Cheers and Frasier.

As I write this, I actually have no idea what is going to be happening over the next two days, but I am both excited and nervous.  I hope that I am funny enough and that I don't embarrass myself or my team.  I also hope that I like everyone and that everyone likes me.  That's not too much to ask, is it?

I'll report back after the weekend and let you all know how it went.  I hope everyone has a great weekend.  Get outside for me, as I'll be trapped inside trying my best to make people laugh.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Playing tourist in your own hometown

Los Angeles is a very large city and it has a ton of things to do.  I would be the first to admit that I have seen only a tiny percentage of its many touristy attractions.  But yesterday I got the chance to see one I've never even heard of before.

Apparently the Gamble house is one of the premier examples of a Craftsman house designed by Greene and Greene, brother architects.  And I gotta say, it was pretty cool!

I learned all about this amazing historic site.  It was built from 1908 - 1909. It's called the Gamble house because the man who had it built was one of the Gambles from Proctor and Gamble.  It cost less than $100,000 to build. It is owned by the city of Pasadena, run by USC, and the money to maintain it comes from the Friends of the Gamble House.  But facts are just facts, and this house is a thing of beauty.

The house is gorgeous, all soft curves and many different kinds of warm wood, teak, oak, mahogany, cedar and maple.  All of the fixtures and furniture are beautiful, many of them designed by the two brothers.  There are also several Tiffany pieces and a couple of rooms furnished by Stickley. It had all of the time's most modern features, indoor plumbing, electricity, central heating, and a garage complete with gas tank and pump.

But my favorite feature of the house is its three, count them, three! sleeping porches.  I want a sleeping porch at my house . . .

So the next time you are at loose ends, go be a tourist where you live, you might be surprised by what you find!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jet lag

As I write this my circadian rhythms are suffering from disruption. According to the wikipedia page, the problem "may last several days until one is fully adjusted to the new time zone."  That is not good news for me.

At best it means that I will be waking up early for the next few days.  At worst I will have a hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep.  I will be tired, irritable and have headaches.  Here's hoping that I don't have to do anything requiring concentration, as I will perform poorly.

Since I traveled to the west, the experts say it should be enough to seek out the light during the day.  That will be a bit difficult here, as the mornings have been quite overcast.  Of course, I really shouldn't complain as the weather is quite nice, the sand is soft and the water is warm.

Except for all those jet lag symptoms, life is good.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This little thing called Facebook

I've been a member of Facebook since April 2008.  I am not sure why I joined, but the first message I have is from a good friend of mine telling me that I needed a profile pic and urging me to look at the ones she had sent me. If my memory is correct, she helped me upload it soon after, and it's the exact same profile pic that is currently on my Facebook page.

Although there have been many connections made, mostly I lurk.  I enjoy seeing what restaurants my friends and acquaintances are eating at, perusing old pictures from the summer camp of my youth, and ignoring posts that I have no interest in.

Over the last five years I have probably updated my status fewer than ten times.  It takes me months to confirm friend requests.  However, recently, some good Facebook karma worked out really nicely.  I asked if anyone had a bicycle I could borrow for a few weeks as I visit Los Angeles.

And within minutes I had a friend offer to lend me her bike.  Last night after I got to LA, I went by her house and rode the bike away.  I'm not sure I can explain how much having a bike will improve my stay here, but it's great!  I ride my bicycle at home almost every day, and it feels like getting a part of my body back.  Plus, it's freedom on two wheels.

I think that Facebook thing may have some staying power.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom!

Many years ago today, my wonderful mother was born.  And I would like to take the day to celebrate her awesomeness!

It's hard to pick out just a few of my Mom's amazing qualities.  Her generosity is huge.  She shares her time, her spirit and herself with all those around her.  She connects with so many people, and she works hard for the connection.  I can't tell you all the times that someone has told me about something she did for them or their family.  Making meals, sending birthday cards and gift magazines to kids, or just being a sounding board to talk to, she's there for you.

Resiliency and tenacity are also a large part of my mother's makeup.  She gets on with living through any difficulties that head her way.  Even a truck literally running over her, crushing her leg, couldn't crush her spirit for long. She just kept working on healing and bringing smiles to those who worked around her.  Not much keeps her down for long.

My mom has a love of learning, a curious nature.  Besides going back to school when my siblings and I were just kids, she is interested in just about everything.  It makes having a conversation with her both easy and fun.  Her days are full with book club, dance class, lipreading class.  I'm not sure if she's still taking Spanish, but I know she'd love to go to Italy in the spring.

I hope that I can live my life as well as she lives hers.  I'm so glad I get to see her today on her birthday.  Love you, Mom!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A true gift

As you may know from the blogs where I discussed taking care of teens and dogs and making dinner, my honey and I were given the gift of looking after the teens, dogs and cat of our good friends.

It was truly a gift to live their lives.  We have known this family for more than twenty years, and yet I still learned things about them from our six day stint. I guess you can't really know a family until you try to walk in their shoes while picking up their kids from swim practice.

We are different people in ways big and small, and that certainly showed over the six days.  My honey and I are not particularly plugged in, and you couldn't reach us by texting, which limited how the girls could contact us. They have no way to record live network television shows.  That was difficult for us, as we usually watch our favorites hours or days after they have aired. A million small things from soda choice to bicycle placement defines who we are.

Yet I feel I know them better now and I definitely improved at living their lives. You can get better at things with practice.  I got better at picking up poop, and knowing the personality of the dogs.  I really feel I bonded with them.  I also got to know the personalities of the teenagers better.  Knowing them in a different way helps me love them more for themselves.

I have a newfound respect for my friends and how they live their life.  I feel we should thank them for asking us to do them this favor.

Plus I miss the dogs.  Good thing I'll see them tonight!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Catching Up with an Old Blog

The first blog I ever followed was called Trial Balloon. It's a pretty convoluted story, but the blog was written by Dale Connelly for the listeners of Radio Heartland, an HD folk music station.  Dale posted Monday through Friday, the same mornings that he worked at the microphone.  He was an amazing DJ bringing listeners songs from amazing musicians like the Sons of the Pioneers, Cheryl Wheeler, Greg Brown, and oh so many more.

Dale also posted many comedy bits that had been performed by Jim-Ed Poole, his radio partner for many years on a previous radio show at the same station.  Jim-Ed Poole was the Morning Show stage name of Tom Keith, a sound effects performer for the Prairie Home Companion.

Sound effects man and tools
In any case, after DJing and blogging for Radio Heartland for seventeen months and twenty-two days, the parent organization decided to end Dale's show "in order to move the Radio Heartland platform to a more sustainable business model".

But an online community had been built, and we all know how hard it is to shake those.  So Dale decided to continue blogging for his loyal fans.  But what to call it?   His former employer owned the Trial Balloon name, so he changed a letter, reordered two others and the new blog Trail Baboon was born!

I have followed Trail Baboon at times and always enjoyed it, but I forget about it sometimes too.  But when I started thinking about blogs to add to my list, I looked up the old Trail Baboon.  And it continues on.  It used to be daily, but I'm not sure it still is.  Dale usually has a humorous take on current events, but many time his humor is local.

One of things I like about Dale's blog is that he ends each post with a question, which naturally invites comments.  And I definitely envy his small but loyal group of fans who call themselves Babooners.  Maybe by the end of my leave I will my own merry band of Cleavers?

In any case, over the coming weeks I may add to the Blogs I Follow with no additional comment.  How that area looks may also change.  You can help me broaden my horizons.

What other blogs do you follow?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Discovering a New Blog

I have started following a new blog.  OK, it's not a new blog, but it's new to me.  The author is Mary Carroll Moore, the instructor of my online class.  The title of the blog is "How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book".  It will probably be mostly of interest to other writers.

Ms. Moore posts once a week on Fridays, which is a much more sane posting schedule than every single day.  With that schedule, her posts can be focussed, thoughtful and long.  My daily posts wander all over the map in topic, length and seriousness.

A professional writer and teacher of writing, Ms. Moore has insider knowledge that I want to acquire.  Reason enough to follow her blog.  However, there are many more reasons.  Her blog page is chock full of stuff. There's links to her books, a weekly writing exercise, a slideshow of her paintings, even a copyright protection blurb which may show up on my own blog when I get the time.

But my absolute favorite feature is a sidebar entitled "Encouraging Words — Well-Known Writers with a Large Number of Rejections — But Published!  Did you know that A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 97 times?  I love that book and the circumstances behind its initial rejection and eventual publication give me hope.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Conventional Wisdom

There are many ideas out there that we know have been proven to be true, such as:

Eating less and exercising more will help you lose weight.

Flossing once a day is good for your gums.

Reading and/or watching television will not clean your house.

And yet, we often choose to ignore conventional wisdom, and go our own way, hoping against hope that reading will magically fold the clean clothes in a full hamper.  Where is a house elf when I need one?

I write this today because I love to read, watch television, and don't get me started on the timewasting I can do on the internet.  But my house is messy. I want a clean house, but apparently not enough to actually clean it.  And I spent yesterday morning NOT folding clothes, or clearing the dining room table or sorting mail, but reading a trashy book that I have read before!


I don't know.

Intellectually, I can say, "I have the year off, certainly I can get the daily chores done, plus some of the harder work, the sorting and cleaning that would really make me happier about my house."  And yet given a day when I am not going in to work to write, I laze it away and am surprised when it is 5 o'clock all of a sudden and I haven't done the dishes or started fixing dinner or even shopping for dinner ingredients and I jump out of my chair and wonder what I have accomplished.

I don't have a current solution for my embarassing problem, but the first step is admitting it.  So there.  I've admitted it to the blogosphere.  I'm hoping the solution will surface in the next book I read, television show I watch, or solitaire game I play.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My first live chat

When I wrote the list of all the assignments in my online writing class, I didn't mention the live chats because they hadn't started yet.  I missed the chat last week due to a previous commitment, but I sat in for tonight's.

I have never been on a live chat before, and as with everything on the interweb, it worked like magic.  I typed words into the box and when I hit return, my words appeared to everyone.  There were only five of us chatting, although there are approximately twenty students in the class.  I suppose it's just who is available for that particular hour.

There was no audio or video in our chat, which was good for a first time. Either of those two things might have made me nervous.  Even with just typing, it was weird to have a five-way conversation.  I would be typing the answer to someone's question and in the span of time it took for me to type, a different topic of conversation would start.  I didn't know whether to finish my first thought or respond in the new direction.

And a few times there seemed to be no one chatting.  Maybe we were all thinking, but our thoughts were long.  At times I felt like I had to work to figure out something to add to the conversation.  Still, all in all, a new technological experience and a successful one, as well.

I'll be moving into the 2000s any day now.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Making dinner

This week of caring for two teenagers, two dogs and a cat has been illuminating.  Not having the joy of children, I have also never had the relentless pressure of making dinner every night.

I have to admit it, my honey is normally the cook at our house.  He really enjoys it and I enjoy the foods of his labor.  And we usually eat late.  But in this house, on weeknights both girls come home from swim team hungry earlier than my husband gets home from work.  So I became the primary meal planner and maker.

A big problem is that my dinner repertoire is pretty narrow.  I can only cook a few things, pasta, enchiladas, and takeout burritos.  No big surprise, then, that so far we have eaten both pasta and enchiladas. 

But I'm working on figuring out different things to cook.  Last night we had homemade pizza and tonight sweet potato soup and quesadillas are on the menu.  

I figure the takeout burritos will do in an emergency.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I realized last night that I have forgotten to change the title countdown for a while.  Usually I try to do that on Sunday or Monday morning at the latest. It's not such a big deal, but I don't actually remember when it was last accurate. Am I off two weeks?  Three?  Just one?

The countdown is on the title to help me realize that this year will not last forever and that I need to keep the end in mind.  Sometimes I wonder if it is a positive or a negative to be marking off the weeks.  Don't prisoners and soldiers do that to chart their time?  At the moment, I dread the day the title bar reads  "or what will I do with the next week?"  However, when that does happen, I'm hoping that I will be rejuvenated and ready to return to teaching.

But I still had to figure out the exact number of weeks and change the title. Look at a calendar for 2013 and 2014 and physically count the weeks remaining.  And I was tired, and so I went to bed instead.

Look for a change in the number at the top of the blog sometime soon.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Indigenous People's Day!

Today is a confusing day.  For a long time, it only used to be Columbus Day.

(Well, technically Columbus Day has always been October 12th, the anniversary of the day that Christopher and his crew landed in the New World.  But read this post for more information about that confusion.)

For some, today still is Columbus Day.  The Italian-American community in New York celebrates the day with a parade, and the postal service celebrates with a holiday from bills and junk mail.

For others, however, today is Indigenous People's Day.  Although the idea had been cooking for a while, wikipedia states that Berkeley held the first official holiday in 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival.  The idea is to celebrate the people already living here when they met Columbus' boat on that fateful day.

Trying to decide which holiday to celebrate is difficult, so I say celebrate both.  Or perhaps neither, as both of my local library systems have arranged to do.  Oh, all the libraries are indeed closed, but none of the signs mention Columbus or indigenous peoples.  They claim to be having staff training and seminars.

I remain skeptical.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Twin Cities Book Festival

Today was the Twin Cities Book Festival at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.  I was completely overwhelmed.

I mean, this is an event I want to be at someday, but I had no idea how to navigate it.  There were rows and rows of tables with publishers and individual authors and I walked up and down the rows and smiled at all the people, but I had no clue what to say to anyone.

The festival is put on by rain taxi, a quarterly review of books.  And they obviously know what they are doing.  It was a very vibrant scene, with people everywhere, talking to authors, about authors, about books of all kinds.  There were bookstores showcasing authors, three different stages for author talks, a children's pavilion, and even a used book store.

But all I could really do was smile and gape, and decide that next year, I will plan ahead.  I will look at the schedule ahead of time, and figure out which talks I would like to hear, which publishers I would like to talk to, which authors I want to meet.

Or maybe, I'll be at one of those tables, smiling at all the gaping people walking by.  Stranger things have happened.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sitting on Teens and Pets

My honey and I currently have the privilege of taking care of our two teenage goddaughters for six days.  Plus two dogs and a cat.

The girls are super good, and we have been having a good time.  Our major responsibilities have included dinner and delivery to and from activities.  No worries at all.

The biggest problem is the poop.  That is, the pets' poop.

We have no pets of our own, so it is a big adjustment to walk the dogs and pick up their poop.  And I love these dogs, but one of them is very nervous, so he doesn't just poop and go on his way.  No, he poops a little and then takes a few steps and poops a little more, sometimes pooping in four different spots before he is done!

But after two days of picking up the dog poop, I felt like I was getting a handle on it.  Then I walked into the bathroom where the kitty litter box is placed and saw three little poops all over the bathroom floor.

We don't know why the cat is not pooping in her litter box.  Perhaps she is expressing her displeasure over something we have failed to do or done wrong.

All I know is that I am dealing with entirely too much poop!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Jimmie!

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of my stepdad.  He was born many years ago, in a year ending in 3, so it is one of those big birthdays ending in a 0.

I have had the honor of knowing him since I was eleven years old.  He's smart, caring, and he loves my mom and my family a lot.  He makes me laugh and he loves to invent stuff.  A car, a tent, a golf club.  Even though he's retired he keeps on thinking.   I can't imagine he will ever stop.

To my mind, though, his most successful invention sits in the living room of the house I grew up in.  It's a couch.  It's an amazing, one-of-a-kind couch. The birthday boy designed it and had it built.  It's heavy yet versatile, able to adjust to three different positions.  He even used my mom's leg measurements to make it fit exactly.

Jim's name "written" on his couch

A curious thing about this couch is that kids love it.  They are drawn to it, climbing all over it, jumping off it, writing words in the carpet pile.  They just can't stay away.  Adults?  Adults just sit on the couch, not noticing its unique beauty and accessibility.

In that way, the couch reminds me to try to keep that sense of wonder that children have, and also to remember that you can accomplish incredible things if you put your mind to it.  Thanks for the gift of those lessons, Jimmie. I hope over the years the gifts I have given you are half as remarkable.

I hope you have a great birthday today.  Enjoy yourself!

PS  Your actual card will arrive late.  Sorry about that.  Consider this post a substitute until the card gets there.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cancellations and Illness

Apparently, my high school class is pathetic.  Not enough people signed up to go to the reunion, so the company in charge of putting on the reunion has cancelled it instead.  This is after I decided to go and booked my airline ticket keeping me away from hearth and honey for too long.  (Thirteen days! Longest so far!)

But, I cannot complain too much, as I had not yet paid my money for the reunion either.  I had planned on doing it after I returned from the memorial. And now I can't.

Add to that frustration the cold I have had since Sunday.  It started in my throat, and by Monday had moved to my sinuses.  The landing on the plane ride home was incredibly uncomfortable. If kids have that much pain in their ears, it's no wonder that they scream.  I can't believe I wasn't screaming.  At the moment, the cold is still in my ears and my nose, but it seems to be diminishing.  I can't wait for total health to return.

These are not major problems, I know.  And it's time to look forward to the next adventure, which is being in charge of two teenagers for the next five days.  That should be interesting.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Memorial for Alice

Alice in 1947
On Saturday, October 4th, a memorial was held for Alice, my mother-in-law. It was a lovely service, held in the chapel of the church where she had been a member for over 50 years.  There were about 100 people there to honor her life, an unusually large number for someone of 98 years.  Many people of that age have outlived most of their family and friends.

While she was the last sibling of her immediate family, in the crowd were her children, in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbors, students, and friends, many belonging to more than one of those categories.  Stories were told, a hymn composed by her grandfather was sung, and we all remembered what we loved about Alice.

Several themes about Alice's life emerged.  How accepting and generous she was, with her attitude and her time.  How much she loved children.  How she didn't like to think negative thoughts and never invited gossip of any kind.  Her fondness for peanut butter and for sweets, especially ice cream.

Many of her neighbors remembered Alice's frequent walks, her eyes and attention on the plants in bloom.  More than one of her nieces told me the story of discovering that the hair Alice always kept braided and  in a circle bun around her head, when unwound, reached her calves!  Several people spoke about her modesty and humility.

The photo above is from 1947, about the time she was meeting and falling in love with her husband, Robert.  I like to think about her at that time, young and happy, with a full life with her husband and four children still ahead of her.

Alice will be missed by all who knew her.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Weather Delays

Last night we were stuck in an airport waiting for a delayed flight home due to weather all along the East Coast.  I'm not sure if it is the same storm that hit South Dakota with so many inches of snow, but it has hit the Raleigh/Durham airport with many flashing red delayed departure signs.

We are quite lucky that it wasn't completely cancelled as some flights were. I'll post more on the weekend soon, but I will say that I am happy to be home, sweet, home.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Of cell phones and blogs

Apparently I am a source of great amusement to my extended family.  In this age of most people having  smartyphones, ipods, tablets, etc., if you call my cell phone, my greeting states that I don't actually know how to retrieve my messages.  I imply that I may never return your call.  At a recent family gathering, they teased me mercilessly about this fact.

                                               That greeting is not actually true.  It was
recorded in 2007, the dark ages of cell phones, shortly after I got my ancient calling device.  I do now know how to retrieve messages and return calls. However, what is true, is that I have no idea how to change my outgoing greeting to reflect the new reality.

The reason is that I mostly use my cell phone to make outgoing calls when I am away from home.  Often it is lost somewhere in my house with a dead battery.  I can go weeks without using it.

The good-natured torment reached a new high, however, when they discovered the existence of this very blog.  They couldn't quite believe that I don't really know my way around my cell phone, but I am technologically adept enough to publish a daily blog.  With pictures!  And occasional videos!

But it's all true.  I put it down to practice.  Writing this blog for more than 100 days has given me daily experience with my blog's software.  Downloading photos and placing them is something I try to do every day and it's pretty easy.  Those videos were more difficult, but the amazing world wide interweb has instructions for everything.

Hmmm, I wonder if it can tell me how to change my cell phone greeting?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Business Cards

My new business cards have been shipped!  They have moved from Livonia, MI to Oshtemo, MI and are currently in Hodgkins, IL waiting to be shipped to their next destination on their way to their scheduled delivery at my house on Wednesday October 9th.

It all started last week when I ordered some business cards from Vistaprint. I could have gone with the offer for 250 cards for free, but I'm a sucker.   I decided that I wanted to use a photo of my own on the business card.  But which photo?

After looking through all my photos, I finally chose a morning shot I took during our Boundary Waters trip.  Dedicated readers of this blog have seen it before.

Then I needed to figure out what I wanted my title to be, which additional information to put on the card, and how to format it all.  Took longer than I thought it would, but I finally had it all set and I pressed the order button.

Now all I have to do is wait for their arrival.  So if you run into me sometime after the mail is delivered on Wednesday, ask me for a business card.  This writer, blogger, substitute teacher will be pleased as punch to hand one over.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

101 — Prime, baby, prime

Today's post is my 101st.  Yes, I have made it into the triple digits, posting every day.  Most people are obsessed with numbers that end in 0, but that's not me.  My friends know that I love prime numbers, numbers squared, and numbers to the nth power.

A prime number is a number divisible only by itself and 1, and 101 is the first three digit prime.

I'm not exactly sure what I could say here that I didn't say in my 50th post.  (I guess back then I was more conventionally obsessed with numbers ending in 0.)  But I'll give it a shot.

A friend of mine remarked to me, "Well, I thought that your blog was going to be all about your leave, but I guess it can be about anything that's happening to you, huh?"

And that's right.  I look back on the titles of my blog posts and I can see what was happening in my life, what I was thinking about, and what I was doing or not doing.  It's impossible for every day of my leave to be important and meaningful, because I still have to do the dishes and the laundry, cook meals, pay the bills, get the car washed, etc.

However, I do have the luxury to look at everything that I do through the beautiful blue lens of my year off.  Because I can do some of those everyday things during the work day, thereby having more time with my honey in the evenings.  Or I can get all those things done and still jet off to Los Angeles for two weeks, attend a writing workshop, visit my family, go to my high school reunion, and come back home and do all that daily stuff again.

I get to make the decisions, regardless of the school calendar.  And that's how I have managed to write 101 daily blog posts, which is worth celebrating.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lunch with my honey

One of my September goals was to eat lunch out with my honey at least once a week.  There are many good reasons to have this as a goal, some of which are probably obvious.  But I'm going to go over them anyway, 'cause it's my blog.

We rarely go out to eat for dinner, as my honey loves to cook and always wants to eat healthy.  (Curse those studies that have shown that eating home cooked meals is healthier than eating out!)  But eating out at lunch is fun, more relaxed, not to mention cheaper.  I'm convinced that a simple change of place can give you a change of pace.

Plus, it's a six mile bike ride to get there, which gets me out and about and takes care of my aerobic exercise for the day.

During the last four weeks we have eaten
Vietnamese, salads and pizza at our favorite neighborhood healthy food cafe, Caribbean salad at the student union, and fresh fast food Greek.  Topics of conversation have included our Boundary Waters trip (both before and after), opinions of Catcher in the Rye, stories about my mother-in-law, my writing class, and much more.

We usually walk to the restaurants, so we get a good dose of Vitamin D, and if it works, we eat outside to enjoy the fall weather while it's here.

It's a good goal, and it's here to stay for the rest of the year.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Shin Splints

Anytime that I run, no matter how short a time or how little a distance, my shin muscles are sore a day or two after.

Apparently, shin pain is very common amongst runners, walkers and the hybrid of the two, race walkers.  It could stem from, take your pick:

irritated muscles
tight muscles
overworked muscles
weak muscles
flat feet
stress fractures in the bones
shoes with too high a heel
inflexible shoes
running a longer distance
running faster
running on a hard surface

So, that'll be easy to figure out what causes my particular version of shin pain!  Part of my specific problem is that I think the eggbeater stroke for treading during water polo may make it worse.

But I am not going to stop playing water polo or trying to run for short distances slowly, so for each problem, I will work on solutions.  I already practice some of the tried and true strategies for preventing shin pain, i.e.,

√  Warm up walking at a slower pace at the beginning of each run.
√  Cross train, i.e., biking or swimming, once or twice a week.
√  Increase speed and distance gradually (or not at all, in my case).

The following activities need to started right away:

•  Loosen up shin muscles by doing ankle circles and toe points several times a day.  (Just did this.)

•  Stretch your shins, calves, and achilles tendons after every run.  (Next time.)

•  Perform exercises to strengthen calves and shins.  (I need to make up a list and create a time every day to do these.  My favorite that I have found so far is walking on your heels.  Note:  This is not the same as walking in high heels, something I never do.)

Hopefully, with all this attention, my shins will get looser, stronger, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Online writing class

This online writing class is kicking my butt!

It's only the second week and I am a bit overwhelmed.  I had heard from a friend that online classes could be more work, because you can work at any time.  I guess that translates to you can work waaaay more than you had planned to work.

The first thing I need to do is to check last week's forums and see who said what about what other people said about someone's writing sample since I last looked.  That can take a while.

Next, I should look at all the week two assignments, which are:

Message from the instructor
Week Two To Do List
Week Two Lesson
Interview with a writer
Suggested Reading (an entire book!)

Week Two writing exercise re:  your book
Freewriting prompt

A famous author talks about the writerly life

Forum postings:
Responses to week's readings and exercises
Sharing excerpts of your writing and commenting on others' excerpts
Your favorite books

The kicker is that although most of the assignments are finished once you do them, the forums are never finished!  You can always say more, think more, read more, comment one more time.  And, as the instructor said in her very first message, you get out of the class what you put into it.

I think that means I'm not going to get much out of it this week.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Not Doing Things on my list

This past weekend, I deliberately did not do two activities on my list of things that I wanted to accomplish.  The sad part is that Sunday was the last day to do either of them.

The first event was mini-golfing at a modern art museum.  Now, I love miniature golf, and I used to go a lot when I was a kid.  Not so much anymore, especially because there's not many places around nowadays.  This course is eighteen holes, each one designed by an artist and each hole completely different.  Not a windmill in sight.  The pictures I have seen of the course look amazing and fun, and it's a little hard to believe that it's now closed for the winter season, as the weather may stay lovely for some weeks yet.

Then there is the Renaissance Festival, also closing down in the face of the impending cold.  I love the Renaissance Festival, too.  I worked as an ale wench for two years at the Northern California Renaissance Faire.  Had to take classes on how to dress, how to speak, and what to say to boozed up clientele.  It was a great experience and I miss it all.  Yet, I didn't go.

Why not?  I realized that what I really wanted to do on such a gorgeous sunny day was spend time with my honey, preferably not with a crowd.  And so we found a wildlife refuge not far from our house, where we have never been.  We walked down the bluffs to the swampy area next to the river, and saw fewer than twenty people in a few hours.  We saw ducks and a faraway eagle and two snakes.  It was heaven.  I'm not sure what I'll have to do next summer to get into the mood to wait in line to play miniature golf, or to spend a day eating and drinking among thousands of people speaking in an olde English accent, but I have a whole year to figure it out.