Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass- it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Christmas Pledge
Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the following:

1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts.

2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents.

3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family.

4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas.

5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends.

-from Unplug the Christmas Machine , by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Side Effects of the Season

Sadness seems to have more depth at this time of year, kind of like the layers of snow that keep coming and piling up before the previous layer can be taken care of. Some situations feel even worse in the sparkling glow of colored lights and the tinkling sound of silver bells.

I run across situations daily. There’s the teenage boy living with 3 siblings and a dad in a one bedroom walkup with one bath. He doesn’t complain. Last year’s teachers remember bits and pieces of his situation. I confirm them. There won’t be Christmas this year. There’s no money.

Or the teenage girl whose older sister just ran away with her boyfriend. The boyfriend doesn’t want to get married; the girl’s parents are adamant that they must be married immediately to protect the family name. The teenager at home cries herself to sleep at night, then comes to school barely able to function. At the nurse’s office, she has no temperature, but insists she’s weak and can barely walk. I invite her to my office to talk. We uncover the nature of her illness: She’s heartsick.

There’s the group of girls who fight with one another constantly including in-your-face stuff online and in text messages. Resolving the conflict uncovers a history of abuse in all but one of the girls. We report it only to find that DCFS considers it yesterday’s news. Not confirmable.

One youngster has an office referral; we sit down to discuss the situation. I discover that Dad is in prison, mom has deserted him and his sister. He’s living with a relative. I note that his shirt is soiled – the kind of dirt that comes from repeated wearing without washing. Apparently no one is caring much for him.

Countless students worry about having to move from their housing due to rent not being paid. Some move, usually without notice. They are just gone. Vanished into the night to escape the bills. We might criticize the parents for lack of character in such cases, but what of the children? What of the little boy living out of the car? What of the little girl denied the privilege of saying goodbye to her BFF? Will she make another friend or just shut down in the face of emotional devastation?

What can one person do in the face of such desperation in the children? Not a lot. Oh, we have a giving tree at school; teachers even organized a garage sale to raise money for this season. And my family is scaling our Christmas down this year in order to give away the money we would normally spend. But it seems so small and the needs so great.

In the glimmer of sparkling lights, with a background of Christmas melodies these stories take on new life, with poignancy unfelt in other seasons.
As you grab for the Kleenex, take another look at your resources. This is a great opportunity. Contact a social worker at a school in a poor area of your town and make a donation. Give some time at the homeless shelter that you didn’t want in your neighborhood. Slip a $20 or a $50 in the Salvation Army bucket. Talk to the elderly at your church or synagogue. Do they have a place to go for Christmas dinner? Smile at the harried mom with several preschool children in tow. He came for such as these!

And. . . say a prayer for those in need. Say a prayer for yourself and your circle of friends that God will reveal Himself in ways you would not dream of. That’s another wonderful side effect of the season. It’s a season for miracles!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Things are not always what they seem. . .

One of the important things that God is teaching me is not to jump to conclusions. You’d think at my age I would have learned this already. Alas! I have not. Specifically, some of the things that anger me are not what I presume they are. Imagine that!

Take for instance this morning. I’m driving to work on a snowy morning. I head uphill the last half block to work when suddenly a car backs out into the road in front of me. Now, I have time to stop. But I am partially up a fairly steep snow covered hill. I’m muttering to myself about ignorant people who don’t think about weather conditions before pulling out….. yada, yada, yada.

I did get traction again, fortunately, and follow the new Chrysler up the hill. To my surprise, he turns left into the school parking lot. I’m thinking, “Is one of our teachers really stupid enough to do that? Which of my friends doesn’t have sense enough to deserve to be behind the wheel?”

So as I park my car I keep an eye on this miscreant who doesn’t park, but makes a U-turn in the lot and just sits there. Then I spot a tall teenaged boy coming down the stairs from the subsidized housing next door with a young teenage girl on his back – piggyback style. I’m interested.

The boy walks over to the car and very gently sets the girl down. She is favoring one foot and holding her hand to her stomach as though she is either sick or injured. And I have an aha moment.

The driver of the car is either a friend or a relative of the kids and has answered a call for help to take the girl to the doctor/hospital. And I have a sudden change of attitude. Nice person, to come out at 7:30 a.m. on a snowy morning to give someone a ride for medical treatment.

And I start to wonder. What would it be like to have to call for help for your injured/ill sister. (I’m presuming here – but reasonably probable stuff). To have to depend on a friend/relative for transportation. Where’s the parent of the teenagers? Why isn’t the girl accompanied by someone from her own home? What would it be like to call a friend or relative hoping they’d take you to the hospital?

Yep. My attitude changed. I realized that the car that cut in front of me had passed by the entrance to the parking lot and was turning around to go back when he stopped me dead in my tracks. But he was on an errand of mercy. Early morning, snowy and cold. He had the heart to come help a friend even if he didn’t have the good sense to drive appropriately in the snow. Maybe I had the good sense, but he had the heart.

Turn off the anger. Turn on the compassion! Things are not always what they seem.

Monday, November 23, 2009

From my point of view, one of the difficulties of modern education is the lack of a coherent, unifying goal for education. In my classrooms I have always told students that the purpose of American Education is to provide an educated electorate. In order for a democracy, or a democratic republic to survive, the people must be educated in order to evaluate what the candidates are saying, what they mean by what they say, and what is deliberately left unsaid, but may be learned. Things like past voting record, statements about beliefs and values can be discovered more easily than ever today through the internet. However, what is not happening is that students are not being provided with the skills, ability, and experience to think. Only an educated, thinking person has the least chance of deciphering the rhetoric of polished political candidates. It is a view that I vehemently advocate.

Historically, schools were formed with that goal in mind. One needs only to take a look at the urgency and intensity of schools in the South immediately following the American Civil War. The recently freed slaves understood the concept of education and its importance in participating fully in government. Those who had somehow received an education were able to hold public office and attempted to persuade others to vote for them. It was a laborious process, but one that was well understood by the African-American population at the time. The importance of education in this electoral process was also understood by Southern racists. Schools, teachers, and preachers who worked to educate the newly-freed slaves were the target of KKK raids and other destructive racist groups with a design to shut down schools, churches and to silence anyone who participated in the educational process.

If one goes back to the earliest American schools, most schools were religiously based. Students were taught a particular dogma along with reading and writing and arithmetic. But at the same time, there was a strong current of the importance of self-governance in those early schools. America was founded largely to prevent “taxation without representation.” Therefore the ability to write laws for oneself was of utmost importance. Thus, the early students in American schools were largely Northern European males. The belief was that white males had the intelligence to govern the people, therefore, they needed the education.

Following the Civil War, the idea that all men (and later, women) needed an education was a revolutionary idea. It was an idea that changed the face of this nation.

Modern schools have strayed far from this ideal of education as a medium for promoting thought. It concerns me that many of today’s students have lost that ideal. Education for them is simply a way that children must spend their days until they are of such age that they may work. For some, education is the means to a better paying job, or at least a job with more status. For others, the middle school and high school are stepping stones to college. However, they still have little concept of what it means to be an educated citizen. At this stage they are simply thinking about a job and making money.

Granted, I teach 12-13-14 year olds who have not developed conceptually to the point of abstract thought. Or to use Piagetian terminology, they have not yet reached the formal operations stage. However, I do not see the concept of education as a tool for participating in a self-governing political structure discussed in many classrooms albeit in rudimentary fashion. To my way of thinking, that concept should be basic to the tenets of American education. If our students are not educated to the wider world around us, introduced to the opportunities of participating in government, and oriented to the issues facing their generation, we have failed them. Educators would do well to remember that learning how to learn, is key to our students’ future success. Learning how to think and think about thinking (metacognition) will serve them well to become responsible citizens in a participatory government.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cleaning out my email, I found this. And it spoke to me today. Hope it speaks to you, too! (Author, unknown)

Best Prayer I Have Heard In A Long Time... Heavenly Father, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children. Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester. Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares. Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that -- based on the biopsy report she got back last week -- this will be the last year that they go shopping together. Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those that are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Am I a week early for my appointment?" I greeted my therapist yesterday.

She burst into laughter, "So, it's been that kind of week?"

She should know. The day before I had missed the massage appointment completely.

Right now I'm seated on the floor with my back resting on a movable partition at O'Hare. My eyes are firmly glued on concourse "L" watching for Teresa to get here from Ecuador.

I've already done this act once -- for the 8:00 flight. Now it's a repeat performance for the 11:00 flight.

At least she's not at the gate waiting for me to come get her -- what I feared earlier. Meantime, try to find something to DO while waiting two hours in the visiting portion of the airport. It's worse than a bus/train station -- tried that this summer.

Outside of the secure areas, there is no seating, no food, no stores -- nothing. Okay, there's a scaled-down S-Bucks with two little ice cream parlor tables, two chairs each. I didn't feel like arm-wrestling the young athletic types sitting there for the seats. So I opted to go across the street to the Hilton. However, on the way there, I discovered an employee area with seating, adjacent to the parking lot...and it had more food than the coffee shop.

Then I realized that it also hid a shortcut to the parking lot. Change of plans. I found my car and got paper to write and a book to read.

Forty-five minutes later, I've had my exercise. Armed with a Sun-Time, a book, a notebook and a bottle of orange juice, I'm settled in to wait for my friend.

As long as security doesn't run me out for vagrancy!

Monday, November 02, 2009


I just gotta say, God has the most terrific sense of humor. How could I ever doubt that he's in charge of things! His lessons are so clear!

Sunday, I preached from Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house."

God's intention is that we affect our world. That we make a difference.

Then I added Ephesians 1:12-14 "The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him."

So that God's intention for us is that we would influence our world -- He has given us the power to do so. When we obey, it is to the praise of his glory.

I talked about everyday opportunities to come out of our walls that we build to protect us from the world ... to let down our defenses and go forth to relate to others, one at a time.

Then...THAT SAME NIGHT...I get a phone call that an old friend is coming for an extended stay. Now I love my friend...she's a wonderful person. But I'm sure you understand that having another adult move in with you is an adjustment and definitely breaches whatever "walls" one may have set up. It's laughable especially considering that the last house guest we had was not as positive as one would have hoped. And...left less than one month ago.

God does not intend to let me occupy my "Walled house" with only hubby!! Like I said, God has a sense of humor. And...I'm sure that I'm in for some serious life lessons.

I'm delighted to be able to assist her, and Teresa is a marvelous person. She's helpful. I'll have to encourage her to do LESS housework, etc. because she's just like that. But...another female in one's personal space, is still another person in one's personal space. Ergo. My wall's coming down fast. Really fast.

She's arriving November 13!!!

I hear God's smile. At least he hasn't forgotten me. He hasn't given up on me. He believes that he can still teach this old dog new tricks!!!!

So I'll just join God and enjoy the joke on me.... LOL

And do my best to learn these new lessons.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This and that

Really busy day. If you deal with adolescents, October and March are the two months in which they act out most. Seriously. Adolescent psych units are beginning to fill ... most will be at capacity by October 31... then it will slowly taper off to a low the week of December 20th and build back to another peak March 15. Yep. The Ides of March is the second peak of adolescent angst. Usually smaller than Oct 31. By October's stats we'll know what kind of year we will have. Kind of like the day after Thanksgiving is to the prediction of the Christmas season purchases.

We're working hard to find creative interventions to help students -- not just the usual suspensions and detentions. It's mind-boggling work. Today involved everything from an adolescent love breakup--sort of-- to helping a mom get food for the family --to a case of possession of stolen property.

It reminded me a bit today of the time I spent working in an emergency room. For a few months, I was the Psych resource for the ER. Nothing like warring spouses in the middle of the night brought in because they were throwing furniture from the trailer at one another....or once a prisoner from the local jail who had attempted to hang herself from the sprinkler system and broke one off and flooded the jail. That one had an edge of humor. She wasn't hurt, but oh, boy were the cops ticked off. That was a long time ago!

I've learned a few things about myself lately -- but that's for another time. Right now, I'm just cleaning closets!!! I must get rid of several pair of shoes. Do I hear Garage Sale???

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Lost Time

What is it with time?? This afternoon I took to my couch for a little rest. I turned my cable to a romantic comedy that I know well. That usually puts me to sleep. I watched the first fifteen minutes of "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" before I napped for about twenty minutes. I woke up when she ruined the date at his house watching the Nicks game. And then just blinked a time or two. But when my eyes unblinked, I couldn't find the movie anywhere. An entirely different movie was on!! What is it with time? Where did it go?

Speaking of time and seasons, this afternoon my favorite discount "clothing and stuff" store was putting out Christmas decorations! Folks, it's October 3!!! This isn't even Australia; it's still almost three months until Christmas. What's worse, I bought a package of gold-tone pine cones and such. There were only a few of them and I need new stuff for the bowl that sits on the coffee table during the season. Oh well. Maybe I'll just move to Australia. At least there it's tomorrow, one day closer to Christmas.

And...I think when I came out of TJ's there were bits of snow in the cold misty rain that was falling!!! I'm just sayin'

Friday, October 02, 2009

Yesterday's Brain Malfunction
and a shadow of one today!!!

8:20 - headed to school, with two stops planned. One for coffee, one for a bank deposit.
8:30 - Coffee purchased
8:35 - Drove past bank by 1 mile. U-turned, returned to bank.
8:40 - Drove past bank in other direction by 2 blocks. U-turned, returned to bank.
8:45 - Drove through Drive-through to make deposit. Oops No checks.
8:46 - Drove to school - Arrived with 5 minutes to spare.

11:30 - Went out to lunch with stop at house and bank planned.
12:00 - Finished lunch - drove 3.5 miles to house to get checkbook.
12:10 - Found checkbook -
12:11 - Drove past bank by 1 mile. U-turned (at same spot), returned to bank
12:15 - Drove through drive through to make deposit.
12:30 - Returned to work. Whew!!


Me: Oh, I forgot to give you that form. I'll put it in your mailbox.
Betty: Sure, no problem.

I go get form, go to office and place in a personal mailbox.

Twenty minutes later in the lunchroom.

Betty: You didn't put that form in my mailbox.

Me: Sure I did! Uh....I didn't?

Betty: (Laughing) Nope. I looked through every mailbox in the office. You put it in your own mailbox!!! Another Phylis-ism!!! (still laughing)

Me: (Laughing also)
I tried!!

Monday, September 28, 2009


The contrast between the white facecloth and the gray towels!

I’ve had a thing about towels since I was thirteen and became responsible for the laundry. After our house burned, we had donations, piles of donations, of clothing, dishes, and towels, among other things. I’d go to the Laundromat and wash my thin little towels as best I could. Some had the nap mostly worn off; a few were newer, but none were plush and soft.

I so remember watching a young woman wash piles of soft plush towels, bright, colorful towels at the Laundromat one day. I commented, “You really have pretty towels.”

“Thank you. They were wedding presents,” she replied.

While we folded clothes, the young bride and the thirteen-year-old had a casual conversation about how long she’d been married, etc. I listened to her talk about the wedding, but mostly, I was envying her towels.

Sure enough when I got married nearly ten years later, among our wedding presents were soft plush towels. Now I could go to the Laundromat and fold my beautiful towels with pride. What can I say? It was a symbol for me, a sign that I was moving up in the world. Since then, I’ve been delighted every time we redecorate a bathroom and buy a new set of soft plush towels.

Somewhere in the eighties, I discovered bath sheets, those wonderfully huge oversized towels that one can wrap up in after a long bath or hot shower. Although they cost more, I stock bath sheets in my bathrooms. The expense is mitigated by the longevity of such luxurious towels. The white ones in my guest bathroom have survived two re-decorations of the room. They are huge, soft, beautiful and white.

Alas one out of four is now white. The other three are a dull gray. They were purchased for my bright green and chrome décor in 1999; they survived the more recent redo with seafoam green and soft blue décor in 2008. They have not survived my last adventure in hospitality and, apparently, regular washing in the machine with blue jeans!! My gorgeous white towels and blue jeans!!! I’m mourning the loss of my beautiful white bath sheets, while still working one last time to see if the miracle of Oxyclean will revive them.

Sigh! The things one learns, even at my age.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Exerpt that moved me to tears
(and I'm re-publishing it because I was just reminded of Mary's pain and the reward)

" The young woman felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She gazed into the piercing eyes of the aged holy man, but she really didn’t want to hear his haunting warning about her Son and their future:

This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many…, a figure misunderstood and contradicted—the pain of a sword-thrust through you—but the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are. (Luke 2:34-35 Message,)

Everything was fine until the unexpected teen pregnancy. Her fiancé wasn’t the father of the child, but he still agreed to marry her in an awkward an earlier-than-planned marriage ceremony.

Her abrupt disappearance to spend several months with an older relative some distance away launched a storm of speculation back home. The tongue-wagging among the hometown busybodies only increased when she returned with obvious changes in her physical appearance that could only mean a baby was coming.

(The favorite phrase traded across tables, shared at the village market, and whispered from ear to ear at public events was “hurry-up wedding.”)

Then came the emergency do-it-yourself baby delivery in a small country town far from home and separated from the rest of her family and friends.

These were the circumstance neighbors speculated on and were more than happy to repeat.

Years later, she would read a handwritten letter from someone who was her Son’s closest associate in His final years on earth. It began, “To the elect lady…´(2John 1:1, emphasis added). Although the letter did not bear her name, she knew John had addressed it to her.

Mary was “elected” or chosen for her unique task and mission in the same manner that you were chosen by God for a unique role of your own that only you can fulfill.


She was not merely appointed to an “office”; she was chosen for a mission, designated for a function, reserved for a destiny.

Her obedience, along with the lifelong obedience unto death of her Son, Jesus, would affect billions of lives and countless generations. How many will be affected by your obedience or disobedience to the Master’s election?"

And here I have to stop and go contemplate what I’ve read…my husband has already spotted where we can buy the entire book..he has now left the house to go buy it!! I really want to read this book by Eddie Long, The Elect Lady.

(Click the book for a hot link to Bishop Long's website. It sends you to Amazon to purchase. If you're like me and can't wait...Barnes and Noble carries it also!!

I receive no reward for this endorsement other than the good feeling I get when I share a valued resource with friends!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Farewell to Vacation

I just tried my hand at an ode -- but I'm not in poetic mode, muse has fled the airport in despair. Maybe the change from sea breeze to mountain air has fried my brain the way it frizzed my hair. I have serious hair problems in the tropics!!! I have mountain hair!

Yesterday, I tried to get Bob and Kiko, the little capucine, asleep on the little jungle patio at our B & B. But they both opened their eyes when I walked toward them. Kiko more so than Bob.

This morning I fed Kiko banana left from my breakfast and he as so happy that.... well let's just say he was VERY happy!!!

So now, I'm at the airport debriefing...trying to set my brain to face civilization again. Wondering which of the habits we've acquired here are possible to keep at home. Some of them, yes.

For example, I love the continental breakfast. It would be really easy to do....just get my derriere in gear each morning. We even have the patio to eat it on, ala Costa Rica. I brought back the small seat-type hammock. I'm going to get that strung up...if I have to climb the tree myself!!! Then, I have to find a half hour or so each day to sit and relax!! Possible. Not easy, but possible.

We're both more relaxed. Knowing things are well at home helps....Rob and Christy are so very reliable to tend the church. With Rodney, Rob, Rachel & Company, the music is always well-done. (Yes, Debbie you are included here!!) Jorge (Lidna, that's not YOUR Jorge!) keeps an eye on the house and the church with help from Kenny.

We thought this visit to Costa Rica was a one-time thing, based on where the plane tickets were most economical. We are finding, however, that we really like the place, the people, the culture.

I only need Mel Gibson to donate his beachfront property in Playa Casilla and we'd be able to start ministry!!! :) Who's ready to migrate with us???? (I know, I'm out of my mind! But God sometimes has strange plans!)

Do I look crazy?? Okay, only a little!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Conversation between Costa Rican horses

Soledad: Look what we have now! Two aging, chubby Americans.

Dolores: Ai! This man can't even get on. Did you see? She gave him a shove to get him up.

Soledad: Here she comes. Can't get on either. Senor Daniel found a traffic bump she can climb on. There she goes. She made it.

Dolores: This guy doesn't know what he's doing. I'll just take a little break here in the street.

Soledad: Okay. Headed for the beach. But wait this crazy woman is taking pictures of my butt!

Dolores: Maybe I can rake this guy off at the fence. Darn!! He hung on...just scraped his leg a little.

Soledad: She thinks she's a cowgirl, but I almost hit her head on that tree in the alley.

Dolores: This guy is making strange sounds trying to get me to speed up. Good thing he doesn't know what he's doing. I'll just keep plodding along.

Dolores: Should I speed up a bit? Just to keep up with you guys.

Soledad: Up to you.

Dolores: I gotta go....and this guy won't even let me stop for a minute for a potty break. Strange noises again! What does a girl have to do for some privacy around here.

Soledad: She's worried that Daniel won't be going to school when it starts Monday. Ai! The questions these Americans ask.

Dolores: Now he's telling stories about wild dogs in some place called Ecuador. I think he has a phobia about dogs.

Soledad: Almost finished. My back hurts.

Dolores: I'm just tired of these cityslickers!

Soledad: Yikes! Now she can't get off. Come on lady that leg has to swing over the saddle to the other side!!! How long do I have to stand here!!!

Dolores: I think he's gonna just sit up there all day!!! Come on, man, get down. Oh here she comes. Does she really think she's gonna lift him down??? Heaven help us all!!

Soledad: They did it! Both of them. I think they're in one piece too. She's walking funny though.

Dolores: I'm walking funny!!! Where's the pasture. What does a girl have to do for some rest around here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First Impressions

One always assimilates the new by comparison, contrast and associations with the familiar. It struck me right away, before we even landed that San Jose reminds me forcefully of Quito.

The first thing that made me smile was the juxtaposition of the Denny's and the Fiesta Casino. I realized that Denny's was the fancy restaurant associated with the Casino. A few miles later the same phenomena occurred. Another casino, another Denny's.

Our first hotel in San Jose was homey, clean and quite lovely. The patio was a virtual jungle complete with parrots and a little capucine monkey with a sad face. (I'm trying one more time to upload more pics. If it doesn't work this time, it'll have to wait!!)

We got acquainted with San Jose a bit before heading to the coast. San Jose is clean and well organized -- except for traffic. Traffic in Latin American counties is.... well traffic in latin America!!! The people are quite friendly. Bob blended immediately. They mistook him for a Tikko right away! Me? Well, what does one do with red hair that shouts "Gringa?"

Having quite a lovely time. Although on the road to the coast, I was stopped by an efficient traffic cop. Ma'am, did you know you're doing 94 kph? In Costa Rica the limits are 80, 60 adn 40. You are in an 80 kph limit. The law says, and he shows me the book, there is a 50,000 colon fine for speeding. This has to be paid at a bank and there will be 30% fees added for processing. I'm gulping, eyes wide and very respectful. He gives me the whole spiel and I think I'm had. (About $130.00 American) Then he says, "First time in Costa Rica?" Gulp. "Si!" Well, I'm going to just warn you this time. "Gracias, Gracias." "But no more speeding." "Si, senor! No mas." (No picture, I didn't dare.)

And relieved...we head on down the road. For some reason, my foot is considerably lighter the rest of the way to the coast. It just won't go faster than 70-75 to Samara!!!

Nice, polite people, these Costa Ricans. Very effective!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Anatomy of a crazy day!
This is me at 1:36 A.M. this morning. It's had been one of those days!

  • 8:00 a.m. leave for work
  • 9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. - work
  • 1:30 - 3:30 - errands, preparing for arrival of friends
  • 5:00 p.m. go pick up rental car
  • 5:30 p.m. first of guests arrive from O'Hare
  • 6:00 p.m. Dinner
  • 7:20 p.m. Home again, home again
  • 8:00 p.m. Hubby leaves for Midway
  • 9:15 P.m. Hubby calls; asks for help locating arrivals
  • 9:20 p.m. Check airport arrivals
  • 9:22 p.m. Call hubby back -- plane has arrived
  • 9:30 p.m. Receive facebook message from one of the arrived party -- cell phone that hubby has # for is dead. no one else has hubby's cell #. Gave hubby's cell # to facebooking guest.
  • 9:31 p.m. Called Hubby, gave location of guests...guest had already called per number given by facebook
  • 9:33 p.m. Happy reunion of hubby and guests at airport.
  • 10:45 p.m. Hubby arrives with party of 6 guests
  • 11:05 p.m. Hit Mickey-D -- only place open for food. Feed guests!!
  • 12:00 p.m. Pick up car for guests use
  • 12:04 a.m. Take group of 5 guests to their accomodations
  • 12:30 a.m. Take group of 2 guests to pick up rental car then to their accomodations
  • 1:00 a.m. Return borrowed van to owner (One hubby drove to airport)
  • 1:20 a.m. Arrived home
  • 1:22 a.m. Facebook
  • 1:45 a.m. Time for night-night!!!!
  • 6:30 a.m. Will come toooo quickly -- must work tomorrow!!!! !
P.S. What did we do without technology. A dead cell phone-- the only phone number we had and the only phone that had our number -- the contact phone -- would have meant disaster. But Facebook saved the day. If ever I needed an excuse for FB, that was it!!!! Justified!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A lovely Afternoon

I'm sitting on my little patio (no roof, so it's not a porch) in front of the house. A beautiful, sunny, warm summer afternoon drinking a Caramel Collision Coffee Chiller, an invention of Pat Jamin, one of the proprietors of my favorite gourmet Cafe, Al's Cafe in downtown Elgin. I just had the thought, "Life can't get much better." Yet it isn't that EVERYTHING is so wonderful. I can think that "if only..." But the point is that this is one of those perfect moments in time. Relaxed. Sunshiney. Nothing major on my mind at the moment. Bills will be paid tomorrow. Lesson Plans finished later. That problem addressed next week. The other concern travailed over at another time. This moment is one of those perfect ones. Just me, the sunshine, my computer and the neighborhood in which there isn't another soul astir at the moment. Lovely.

Thank you God for an Oasis, a moment in time in which to enjoy your world, your work and contemplate the good things of life. Did I mention the Carmel Collision Coffee Cooler?

Thank you God.

P.S. Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of oneself?? It has to be a closeup -- unless one has octopi arms. The first pictures alternately showed: the wrinkles on my neck, the bags under my left eye (not even the under eye bags match!), my droopy left eye, eyes squinted too much, mouth drawn from trying to get the arms out farther for LESS of a close up. Finally my dear hubby emerged from the bowels of the house and agreed to snap this one shot. While I could point out the faults in this pictures as well, I shall not because at least it's not too closeup!! You will agree with me to ignore chubby arms an legs! Yes you will because I said so!

Did I mention that the Caramel Collision Coffee Cooler is delicious? And the day is sunny and bright?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Travel tales

Taste of Chicago today.

On the train via Chicago, the train begins to fill up. We know this through power of deduction. When three thousand people traipse through the car and try to take two seats while two of your party is in the bathroom, if you''re really sharp you'll figure it out: The train must be very full. I'm smart like that.

So the conductor comes on the intercom. "The train is filled past seating capacity. If you are not going all the way to Chicago, please stand up."

We look at each other. Even the 7-year old thought that was an odd request. No one in our car stood up. He only paused for a moment before he continued.

"Then please get off the train." We start to giggle, thinking it must be a joke. Nope. No joke. He continues.

"Deboard the train at this station if your destination is other than Chicago. This will now be an express train. We will make no more stops before Chicago. Please wait on the platform for another train. There is another train 20 minutes behind this one and will take you to your destination."

Well people, please get off. I don't want that train catching up with us!! I'm thinking. But I have to admit I was happy that we were now on an express train.

Don't think I'd be that happy if I'd been getting off somewhere other than Chicago!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Travel Notes

There are two choices for behavior in an airport. Some people pretend it's their living room and proceed to talk loudly, chew wildly and fart with affinity. Or maybe I'm the one who has the affinity for attracting such people. A 25-year old (who acts like he's 16) sits in the row behind me in the gate area. I'm quietly working on my computer. I have the noise muted; I'm behaving politely. HE, on the other hand, LOUDLY informs his friend of every move he's making on his video game. It looks like the same hand-held game that my 5 year-old nephew managed very politely in the car. Only this character does a play-by-play of his effort. If a reality show ever included a play-by-play of a video game, switch the channel. Or shut the guy up if it's in person!!


His friend responds quietly.

"NO YOU DON'T GET IT. I WAS ELIMINATED IN THE FIRST ROUND ON THE FIRST SCREEN AT THE FIRST LEVEL!" He screamed loudly enough to be heard three gates down in spite of maximum Sunday traffic at the airport. His laughter sounded like the screech of a stuck pig, only more annoying.

I got it the first time. Don't know why his friend didn't.

After devising and rejecting several scenarios in which he would be told (by me) to be quiet (not terribly politely but very effectively), I simply moved several rows away right by the window outside which the jets were warming up and right next to a two year old playing in the floor. Much more peaceful there!!

Oh yeah, the other choice of behavior for people at an airport. Act like me. Just like sheep. Don't disturb anybody. Don't tell the rude idiot to behave. Don't rock the boat. Just look the other way and keep grazing. Munch, munch. Baa Baa.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Travel Notes

I forgot my 3-1-1 today. I tried to get a 5 oz bottle -- only half full of hair conditioner through in my carry on. I must have lost the old Southern charm. She wasn't havin any of it! So with reluctance, I tossed a 5 Oz bottle half full of Mizani hair conditioner. That stuff is hard to find. It takes the frizz and the crimp out of my hair. So I'll be frizzy this trip.

Don't forget. It's 3-1-1. Let's see 3 oz of liquid in 1 1-quart baggie. Although I did have mine in a 1-gallon baggie and she let all the rest in. Warned me though. So I guess I'm half charmin'!!!

Gotta get this thing logged off. They should be calling for loading shortly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More things for which I am Thankful

  • That the windshield I saw splintered from the heat was not mine. (And that I'm able to pray for encouragement for the owner/driver.)
  • That my house has some air conditioning, in my office, in the bedroom, in the den. Whew!
  • That my car has adequate air conditioning...that works after about 20 minutes.
  • That my inhaler worked well yesterday to clear my breathing passages in this humidity...and that I haven't had to use it today.
  • That I have a job to drive to in this heat.
  • That I have a lovely shower with which to wash off all the sweat I'm now capable of producing!
Are these "thankfulness" entries a bit like prayer meetings with prayer requests "prayer for dear so-and-so. You won't believe what I saw her doing?!"

I suppose I'd better behave myself!! But truly, I am thankful for these things that help me cope with the heat!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things for which I'm thankful

  • That there is air conditioning at summer school which keeps the rooms less than 88 degrees That's truly a blessing when there is a 105 heat index outside.
  • That I'm recovering from the effects of chemotherapy and am now able to sweat buckets!
  • That my heat flashes are totally obliterated in the hot air...I don't even notice them at all. Maybe I'm not even having any. Maybe all the sweating is just from the heat.
  • That I wasn't nearby when the road exploded from the heat. The scattered cement from the crumbled curb looks like it could have done some damage.
  • That my car had no trouble going slowly over the 2 foot bump in the road created by the heat buckled pavement.
  • That there is a bathroom located only 15 feet from my classroom door so I can run when 4 hours of continuous teaching without a break wreaks havoc with my system. (You guess which system!)
  • That I'm still able to run -- okay at least trot a bit.
  • Did I mention sweating?
  • That it hasn't snowed in 57 days!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

T-Shirts, Diction and other aspects of human miscommunication

I was walking down the street three feet behind hubby because . . . I was just too tired to move fast. We were headed for our favorite eatery Al's Cafe. Hubby was hungry and hadn't noticed. I was thinking about how strange it looked for me to be trailing behind....I was contemplating foreign cultures...when I looked up and read the back of his shirt. It read: "I wish to communicate with you." I laughed!!

In the grocery store, the clerk says: "Twizzers ur soup ur savor!"

I glanced at the counter and saw a package of red candy where the "Super Saver" of the day resides and shook my head, paying very little attention.

Another clerk came up beside her, filling the change bins or some such work-related thing. I heard but didn't focus: "Posted jer trash tickets?"

I'm digging in my wallet for my debit card and hear again: "Posted jer trash tickets?"

"I wonder what kind of trash tickets checkout clerks have to post..." I thought as I continued moving things around in my very large purse.

Her voice is getting irritated now. "Posted jer trash tickets?" I glance up disinterestedly to see what the drama is about, and the full wrath of her glare catches me full in the face. "Posted jer trash tickets?" She spits it at me.

"Are you talking to me?" I ask looking around for somebody that she might be yelling at.

"Posted jer trash tickets?" She repeats it forcefully.

"I'm sorry. I have no idea what you're talking about. Am I supposed to post some trash tickets somewhere?" Totally confused.

"Postejer trash tickets?" Her mantra continues.

"I don't have any trash tickets," I explain uselessly.

"To buy any," She says.

"No. I don't want any trash tickets." I reply.

"Postej?" she asks.

Light dawning, "Oh. You mean, Do I want to purchase postage or trash tickets." I blurt out.
I thought you said, "Posted your trash tickets"?

"That's what I said," she repeats. "Postejur trash tickets."

"No. I thought you said, POSTED YOUR TRASH TICKETS and you said, POSTAGE OR TRASH TICKETS." At which point she shrugs, obviously not understanding. And we both were relieved to be away from that "other" dumb woman who can't speak/understand plain English!!!

P.S. SIGH. (But hubby was with me. He says he didn't get what she was saying either!)

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