Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tracks in the Snow


I love seeing evidence of things unseen... tracks in the snow that show how wild an area we live in, in spite of the close press of people, there is nature living right under our nose. Whether we like it or not, and whether we are aware of it or not.
Posted by Picasa
Read a news story here about how nuts we are in this area, afraid of wild things. The story is about how an agency of the US government poisoned a flock of starlings, because the starlings were "spreading disease" by pooping on somebody's farm. I love starlings and other birds. This is a story that really made me sad.

On the other hand, when NJ allowed the bear hunt, I wasn't against it. The bear hunt seemed more noble in some ways; I have nothing against hunting, and although we don't have many bears in NJ and they did use this area as a habitat at one time, they seem more dangerous and don't seem like they have a place here. (Everyone feeds the darn bears, for one thing, so they all start to associate people with lunch.) And we had a controlled hunt, we didn't just arbitrarily spread around some poison and see how many we could get.

Tracking two mammals


OK, I admit it, one is me.
Posted by Picasa

So, what is it?

Posted by Picasa

My main guesses, in order, are:
1. Racoon?
2. Skunk?
3. Ground Hog? (I've seen him, but I thought he was bigger than this)
4. Opossum?

The tracks of rain in the icy snow.

Posted by Picasa

It's not pool club weather yet!


but the sun is starting to be warmer :D
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Snow Day!

What a wonderful day I had! We had a day off from school in honor of the beautiful snow, and it was just perfect. It was the kind of day you always dream about on the days when you don't want to wake up in the morning... it was dark and cozy under the covers, and I could stay in bed as long as I felt like, listening to the sound of rain on the roof -- because of course the snow turned to ice and then to rain. I read a little while, I had many cups of lovely tea, I got a lot of work done, and I had time to talk to some of the friends I rarely get a chance to talk to. I even spent some time drawing. It was a perfect balance of being productive (at things that I can't usually catch up to) and being lazy.

I've been doing too many word posts lately and I want to do more artsy ones. Hopefully I'll have the energy for that in the next few days. I like the photography stuff the best because it often comes easy, but with the winter here, very little of the scenery and nature seems very interesting. I've been thinking about other kinds of arts projects that I would like to start... the big question is, will I make the time? I hope so! Anyway, with the kind of lovely day I had today, I'm really optimistic.

And now, Life on Mars is on... one of my favorite new shows. I'm gonna go watch it, I'll talk to ya later!

Gem's Turn!

OK, Gemmie, you volunteered to be interviewed too. So, here are your questions -- similar to the last interviews, but with that little twist at the end :) to be posted on your blog... no pressure...

1. Describe yourself as a child. What were you like, what were you interested in?

2. What is the most unique thing about your family?

3. If there was one thing that you would like to improve in your life, what would it be?

4. What is your favorite place in the world?

5. What do you believe about the meaning of life and what happens after death?

There you go, get crackin'! Everyone can read your answers on your blog, Ruff Cut!

Monday, January 26, 2009

OK, Bunny is willing to be the next victim!

She's willing to be interviewed by me, and she'll be posting her answers on "Love and Diamonds."

So here are the questions for Bunny:

1. What is your absolute favorite memory from childhood? (Is it me? LOL)

2. What qualities do you most hope that your son will have, as an adult?

3. Why do you like living in the place that you live?

4. What is your absolute dream vacation?

5. What one thing in your life would you not change, even if you could, and, what one thing in your life would you change if you could, and how would you change it?

Take your time, no pressure, post the answers on your blog!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's later now.

On my previous post, I linked to a really good (long) article about socialization and the internet, specifically Facebook and Twitter. I said I'd write more later. And I have a lot to say about the article, but I really don't know how much energy I have to think and write right now. And it's almost my bed time. Plus, there is a pie in the fridge that is calling my name, and I haven't folded ANY of that laundry that I've washed and piled on the couch all day.

So I'm going to take a pass for now, and hopefully I can write more tomorrow some time. See ya Later!

Society, friendships, and the internet

Click here for a really good article from the New York Times, even if it's old. It's pretty long, too. But it's about Facebook and Twitter, and how it's affecting us. I want to write more about it, but right now I have to make dinner. I'm cooking roast pork in tomato sauce and having raviolis. And the fact that you now know that is part of what this article is all about. I'll be back later to write more -- after I go check out my facebook page!

Questions for Beth

Hi all! I enjoyed my interview with Jozien, and now Beth has agreed to be interviewed by me. Here are my questions for you, Beth...

1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

2. What family traditions do you have with your children, and where did they start?

3. What is your most romantic memory?

4. What makes you happiest, right now?

5. Imagine yourself in the future, looking back over your life. What do you hope you will be able to say about your life that will make you feel like you've succeeded?

OK, get writin', girl! I'll be checking in! (When you have time. No pressure!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jozien has interviewed me!

I read Jozien's interview, and it was a wonderful post. You can read it too over at "Keeper of Wild Places." She tagged anyone else who was willing to be interviewed by her to volunteer, and so I volunteered. My interview follows. Would you like me to interview you? C'mon, it's fun! If you do, follow the instructions at the end. And, without further ado, here is my interview by Jozien:

Jozien: What brings a smile to your face?

Sue: My boys can make me smile faster than anything else... especially when they are being goofy. Nick and Frank just came in and Nick was explaining a special hand shake that a guy in school was showing him. He was so funny! They are both in a really great mood, since it's Friday. They make my mood better, too. I love those guys!

Jozien: Raising children,what is important to you?

Sue: I think the first most important thing for me, when the boys were little, was that they not feel uncertain about things. I didn't want them to feel worried about anything. I wanted them to have a strong sense of love and security as a foundation to start from, and to know they could depend on me. (The down side of this will be if I can't kick them out of the nest because they are TOO dependent! I guess that is something we will find out when the time comes!)

Another extremely important thing for me is that they be nice to other people. I wanted them to be very empathetic, and understand that you can never judge a person by what you see. I wanted them to be helpful to anyone who needed them, and to care about other people.

The third most important thing was that I wanted them to learn that learning is important. I wanted them to value school and always learn everything that they can, but not stress out about tests and things.

I have always made a wish whenever I see the first star in the sky. I always wish for the same thing: happiness. Although I can remember that at first, when I was little, I would wish for a dog or a pony. Then later, as I got a little older, I thought about wishing for a hundred more wishes, because then I could have EVERYTHING. But after a while, I decided that it didn't matter what I had, if I didn't have happiness, it wouldn't be good. So happiness was the only important wish. And that is what I always wish for my children.

Jozien: What do you like about the spot where you are blogging, most often?

Sue: The spot where I am blogging... this spot in my house is very warm, and the light comes in through the window nicely in the middle of the afternoon, and you can see the sun set, and the family watches tv or listens to the stereo here.

This spot in my neighborhood is a lovely place, the best house on the street, with my yard opening up to the school yard, in a peaceful, quiet little side of town.

This spot in my state is very urban and busy but also very friendly, a melting pot of different cultures, and close to a wonderfully huge and fast paced city.

This spot in my country is near many places of employment, a place where there are no earthquakes or tornadoes or landslides... usually reasonable weather, but still a nice change of seasons.

This spot in the world is a place of opportunity, where people try hard to live by high-minded values and ideals of equality and opportunity and freedoms.

This spot in the cosmos is the only place where we have found intelligent life so far, and we are all in this spot together.

Jozien: What is normal in your life now, but you had never heard of when growing up(besides computers)?

Sue: Well, computers are the first thing, of course, but besides computers -- we never had cell phones; when the kids needed to come in for dinner, the mom would yell out the door, "Come and eat!" and the kids would come running. When the kids left there homework home, they would pay the price for forgetting it, and then remember the next time. When I broke down in my car, I learned how to fix what broke, and I learned to walk to a pay phone and call for a ride, and basically I learned how to take care of things myself. I think it is a HUGE problem for the teens today to be so constantly in touch with their parents that they never make their own decisions. They aren't learning to be independent.

Jozien: What is your favorite 'wild' place or experience?

Sue: Many people will know this... KMSR is my favorite "wild" place, although compared to the wild places you see, Jozien, it's almost suburban. KMSR is the boy scout camp that we have gone to since my boys were little. It's not too far from here -- more than an hour, but less than two -- and it's beautiful. It is a safe place for boys to run wild for a weekend or a week, and be free in nature. The stars at night are clear so far from the city. The trees and woods are full of wild things, like wild grapes, and blue berries, and skunks, racoons, and even bears. I've seen more bugs at KMSR when I've turned on a lamp in the woods in the evening than I could even count. The pine trees are pitchy and full of sticky sap. At it's heart there is a lake with fish to catch, with cattails and spring peepers, and with salamanders that hatch in the spring along the shore. It's a place where all of the boys -- mine, and the scouts I've known since they were little -- have grown up as friends, learning about fires and mud and hiking and wildlife and cooking and knives and axes and thunderstorms and compasses. (Gee, I really want to go there right now! I miss it!)

Thanks for the interview, Jozien! I hope you liked reading it... sorry it was so long.

Here are the instructions if you wish to be interviewed by me:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me".

2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions (I get to pick the questions)

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

I will post a list of those who have agreed to an interview so everyone can follow along Now it's my turn to interview any other bloggers who would like to be interviewed by me. :-) I'm going to keep a list up here of the names and blogs of every brave soul who volunteers, so we all can follow along. Please check out their blogs to see the wonderful things they have created

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My computer is back!

I'm not actually ON my computer, but it is back in it's place by the window. Our Computer Guru, Kurt, got us updated. We weren't able to save anything, but such is life. It is all just ephemeral anyway.

So now Thor has to try to figure out how to start the thing up again. That entails much wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Hi, Thor. I know you love me.) Eventually, when the correct combination of arcane data have been inputted into the correct hidden screens, and when Thor has mumbled the correct incantations under his breath, the computer will magically come alive again. There will be a sparkle and a glow and then the box will transport me from my family room to other rooms all over the world. How magical is THAT?

Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Politics (and Religion)

The two forbidden topics of polite conversation, right? I always heard that you are supposed to avoid talking politics or religion. And yet, here I am, posting politics on my blog. Maybe a bad idea? I hope not. I have a lot to say, and you might disagree with all of it. But one of my favorite political quotes, possibly misquoted, is, "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." So please realize that these are only my opinions I'm airing out, and I don't mind if you think I'm wrong.

When I was a kid, I loved talking politics, especially with Ray. Even then I was a bleeding heart liberal. He was always conservative. We had great debates. I usually lost.

The main things I learned as I grew older is:
You can't change anyone's mind about anything, even if you are certain you are right. You can't change a belief. But you CAN make people really mad at you. And who's to say, in the end, that you aren't the one who is wrong? The whole world is shades of gray. Nothing is black and white in real life.

I also learned that no matter who came in to power as President, it didn't make as much difference in my day to day life as I thought it would. Whether I loved them or hated them, my life continued along. I've been lucky.

I argued politics back in the day when we were discussing Reagan. I thought he was a nice guy, but too old, and I didn't believe he was a leader, I thought he was just an actor. I felt like we needed a leader. I didn't realize at the time that he was a good enough actor to act the part of leader, and it would work pretty well. I hesitate to say I was wrong, but he did do some very good things.

I was all for Clinton. I felt like he was smart, and young, and a liberal democrat like me -- I was glad when he was elected. I DIDN'T expect to be embarassed by his morals and actions. The presidency became rather tawdry, full of news stories I didn't want to hear. I hesitate to say I was wrong, but he did do some very bad things.

I was against W. way back from the beginning. (I don't remember having much of an opinion about his father.) I remember thinking that everyone was voting for the "regular guy," someone they could have a beer with. I wanted a President who was smarter than me, not just a regular person, but someone to look up to. And as much as I feel somewhat vindicated, I'm not really happy about it. I feel bad for the guy. He was elected to be a regular guy. He bumbled through a lot of things and made some really big mistakes, just like any regular guy might when he's outside the limits of his ability. If you put ME in as president, I'd make TONS of mistakes. So how can I really blame him?

I wasn't very enthusiastic about this election. I'd kind of given up on politics. But look what happened! I'm still amazed, and thrilled.

Obama's speech was beautiful. It was a call to action. But it leaves me wondering, what kind of action? We can't just listen to the stirring words and not DO something to improve the country, and improve the world. But I'm not sure WHAT to do.

He said it won't be easy, that it's going to take a lot of hard, back-breaking work. Everyone cheered. Cheering and listening is the easy part. Now, we have to fix things. And we can't leave "fixing things" up to him -- he's the leader, but we have to follow his lead. We have to actually DO something that makes a difference. We ALL have to do something.

but what?

The Speech in Video

I didn't hear most of the speech, because I was at work. I only caught a little of it. So I'm posting it for anyone who is a little behind the news like me. I want to write about it, after I watch it, but of course now I have to go BACK to work. So check in again later, OK?

The Speech Explained

You can read this online, where I found it, at the Chicago Tribune.

Obama's inauguration speech, annotated
By Julia Keller, Patrick T. Reardon, Steve Johnson | Tribune staff reporters

A great speech doesn't speak only to the audience at hand, even if that audience numbers in the billions and engulfs the globe. A great speech also speaks to the past.

For a better appreciation of Obama's address, we've highlighted passages in which the president seemed to be not just speaking to us, but also echoing those who have gone before. Instead of quoting a great many famous documents directly and frequently, Obama chose instead to touch upon them gently and gracefully.

"My fellow citizens" "Not my fellow Americans. That was the key here. He's playing up citizenship," said Bruce Buchanan, University of Texas government professor and author of "The Citizen's Presidency." "That was a novelty. It's almost universally 'My fellow Americans,' in modern times at least." In a speech that sounds the call to citizenship loudly, Obama returns to the word explicitly in his conclusion, saying that "giving our all to a difficult task" is "the price and the promise of citizenship."

"still waters of peace" This phrase recalls the first two lines in the King James translation of Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters."

"set aside childish things" This is a reference to the lines in Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (13:11): "When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things." Stephen McKenna, chairman of the media studies department at Catholic University, said: "It's also a reference to his own victory speech, where he talked about the need to put away the 'partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.'."

"our better history" This phrase echoes the concluding phrase of Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

"their full measure of happiness" An echo of the last line of the Gettysburg Address, in which Lincoln wrote, "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion."

"Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn" The Battle of Concord (April 19, 1775) was part of the first military engagement of the Revolutionary War. The Union victory at Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) was the turning point in the Civil War. The invasion of Normandy by Allied troops (June 6, 1944) was a turning point in World War II. The siege of U.S. troops at Khe Sahn (Jan. 21 to April 8, 1968) was one of the bloodiest battles in the Vietnam War.

"This is the journey we continue today."

The word "journey" is more momentous and historically inflected than a flat, ordinary word such as "trip." Yet it isn't as pretentious or stuffy-sounding as "voyage" or "odyssey." It echoes proverbs such as "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

"Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began."

While emphasizing the nation's strengths despite its economic travails, Obama echoes one of the central themes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first inaugural address, arguing that the country has all it needs to renew prosperity, except for leadership and revived confidence. Roosevelt, speaking to a cold March audience in the midst of the 1933 banking crisis, similarly said, "Our crises come from no failure of substance. ... Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply."

"pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off." This is an allusion to lines in the song, "Pick Yourself Up" (music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Dorothy Fields), sung in the Depression-era movie "Swing Time" by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: "Nothing's impossible, I have found./For when my chin is on the ground,/I pick myself up, dust myself off,/Start all over again."

"We will restore science to its rightful place." The first of several direct repudiations of the Bush administration, which has been widely criticized for politicizing science in government. Later Obama said: "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals," a reference to what many saw as the subversion of the Constitution in the name of national security after the Sept. 11 attacks. Obama also references Hurricane Katrina and, calling to mind the course of action in Iraq, said that "our power" does not "entitle us to do as we please."

"not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." Obama is trying to set aside the long-running argument over President Ronald Reagan's criticism, echoed by Republican leadership since, that government had grown too big.

"slaughtering innocents" While saying that the U.S. will stand up to those "inducing terror and slaughtering innocents," Obama uses language that recalls the biblical slaughter of the innocents in Matthew 2:16 in which King Herod sought to induce terror and advance his aims by trying to kill the newborn Jesus: "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were 2 years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi."

"Jews and Hindus--and non-believers." Several scholars agree that this is the most overt reference in an inaugural speech to the fact that many Americans do not believe in a god. "This is inclusion by a very wide margin," said Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, an expert in presidential rhetoric at the University of Minnesota, perhaps in reaction to a campaign that was, at times, religiously divisive. "He kind of litanized the non-believers," said McKenna.

"A new era of responsibility." "There's very little that's memorable" in the speech, Campbell said. "It's a speech that's full of crisis and demands. ... The most memorable phrase, I think, is the 'new era of responsibility.' That encapsulates the speech."

"Our Founding Fathers ... drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man" "The big struggle in any institution is between change and continuity," said Campbell. "Obama represents change. So it's very important to hear the sound of continuity. He's saying, 'I believe in traditional ideals. I hold traditional values. I remember American history.'."

"these words read to the people" These words came from a Dec. 23, 1776, Common Sense pamphlet by Thomas Paine. George Washington had it read to the Continental Army troops before crossing the Delaware River Dec. 25 and attacking Trenton successfully the next day. The more familiar part of the pamphlet is: "These are the times that try men's souls."

"children's children" This phrase occurs 14 times in the Bible, such as in Psalm 103, verses 17-18: "But the loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember his precepts to do them."

"eyes fixed on the horizon" This phrase recalls the 1965 folk song by Alice Wine "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize," a civil rights movement anthem as well as the "Eyes on the Prize " documentary series about the civil rights movement that ran on public television in 1987 and 1990.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter, with the promise of spring.

This is the Magnolia tree in front of our house. I love this tree, it was here at this house when I was born, and I've grown up with it. I never climbed it as a child, and I didn't know why until I looked back at photos later in life -- it wasn't really a tree for most of those years, it was more a shrub. There was nothing for me to climb, but it was a great tree for my boys to climb on when they were little.
Posted by Picasa

In the spring, the flowers are usually beautiful. The buds that you see are the flower buds. They are there all winter, covered in an almost furry coat. As it gets warmer the buds get larger and then split open to reveal beautiful creamy white and pink satiny flowers. There are still no leaves on the tree until after the flowers fade, and when they all drop off, you can see the tiny green leaves just beginning. If you look really closely, you may be able to see the leaf buds, which are tiny little bits near the flower buds. The leaves are velvety in the summer, and go from the brightest shades of green to a deeper green to finally turn brown and tan in the fall.


Winter can be a beautiful season. More beautiful in some ways than spring. But looking at the buds right now, I can't wait to see the tree in flowers. I guess most of all, I always look forward to the change from one season to the next. I don't think I would enjoy winter without the promise of the spring. When spring is here I enjoy the flowers but I look forward to the heat and shady leaves of summer. In summer I look forward to the cool breezes and colorful leaves of autumn. And in Autumn I can't wait for the first snow fall.

In honor of MLK Day

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Big Friday Night - and Panasonic's G1 Camera!

The wait is over! Here's the big post! And I do mean big... you'll have to scroll down through a whole lotta pictures to see what we did last night. And this morning.

Here I am, as we got on the train last night for New York City. Thor is taking this picture using his amazing new camera, Panasonic's G1. We love it already. Well, I should say HE loves it already. Thor says the camera was "Popular Photography" magazine's camera of the year for 2008. And, unfortunately, it is HIS camera, not mine... but he is willing to share.

So, this was the plan. I had gotten Thor free tickets for a show for Christmas. Aren't I a big spender? I had gotten an email saying I could get free tickets to see "TEN", which is a Pearl Jam Tribute band, at BB King's Club in New York City. So I decided it was a perfect gift for him. Of course, the only show was at 12:00 midnight.

I ordered the free tickets, which actually ended up costing me $12.00 with tax and shipping and handling (I printed them out on the computer, but there were still charges for SOMETHING.) He seemed to love the present on Christmas. I love a really good present for someone that doesn't cost too much! :)

But a few practical questions came up... like, for example, the fact that very few trains come back that late at night. And it's a pretty far walk to the train station. Well, not TOO far, but pretty far for that late at night. And it just seemed like a great idea to actually stay over in NYC. I've never slept in the city before!

The rates weren't too bad, considering it was NYC. It cost like $160-ish with tax and fees -- so there you go, my free Christmas present for Frank was rather expensive. Not to mention dinner and breakfast and train fare. But it was still a nice idea, wasn't it?

So here are a bunch of photos, taken with the mega camera, of all around NYC. We didn't actually bring the camera to the "Ten" show, because we weren't sure we could bring it in, and it just seemed simpler not to.

I hope this whole thing was worth the wait, and all that dramatic tension I tried to build up!
Posted by Picasa

Comfy Bed, lots of pillows

 We checked in and then took off for a night out. Lil, in case you're reading, you'll note we brought the scarf? It really didn't go with my outfit, though. :)
Posted by Picasa

Not far from Times Square, NYC

We walked from the hotel to BB King's. This was taken as we walked. It was BITTER COLD out. I didn't exactly dress up like a city chick, I made a lot of fashion decisions based on temperature and not style. However, I saw plenty of people that were VERY underdressed. Style is way more important when you are young, I guess. We noticed at least one girl walking around with open toed high-heels. I don't even wear high heels around here, never mind to NYC. Never mind in 7 degree weather. I blame that "Sex in the City" show. And "The Devil Wears Prada."
Posted by Picasa

A glass of wine with dinner :)

Posted by Picasa

Dinner at Lucille's

BBKing's Bar and Grille has a restaurant called Lucille, named after his guitar. We went there for dinner and there was a live band playing some pretty decent music. In the room we were going to for the Ten show, the night's first show was on. The Outlaws were playing. I always liked the Outlaws. But the tickets weren't cheap and the evening was costing enough already....

Dinner was very good. Thor ordered the BBQ combo and I got the Mac and Cheese and we both tried a little of each other's meal. Yummy.
Posted by Picasa

As we left for the show,

Thor took this photo of us. An especially nice mirror shot, isn't it? He's wearing his funky hat with the braids. I put my own hat back on after we took this photo. But we didn't take the camera to the show, sorry. I know that none of you readers are big Pearl Jam people anyway, so I'll spare you the details. It was a very good show, the guys who played were really spot on.
Posted by Picasa

"All this could be yours."

No, not really. Thor just said that. Anyway, this was the view from the hotel room. We were on the 29th floor of the Courtyard Marriott on 40th Street. Times Square is on 42nd street, so we were right in the middle of things, even though you can't see any neon from our room.
Posted by Picasa

Backpacking, urban style

In REALLY COLD WEATHER. Thor very rarely needs to add a sweatshirt under his coat, and over his longjohns, to go on a hike. And the back pack was a great way to carry our overnight stuff, including the equivalent of about $40.00 worth of beer and Jack Daniels. (That's expensive in the city -- one drink can cost $11.00!)
Posted by Picasa

A Pigeon Lady

Don't assume just because New York City is a city that they don't have their share of wildlife, bird watchers, and animal lovers. We watched this lady with her little hand cart of bread feed the pigeons. See? Someone loves the pigeons. Of course, other people hate them. Basically, I like birds, even pigeons. The kids used to love chasing them. The pigeons aren't afraid; you can practically trip over them before they move, and then they are just as likely to walk away and glare at you with their little beady eyes as fly off in fear.
Posted by Picasa

Walking in NYC...

... is more fun and great exercise.

The pace is VERY fast. Part of the reason for this is because you are governed by the red light hand/little white light walk guy. You want to hit each corner as the walk signal comes on, and they come on quickly. They are timed to be on a fast pace.

You can cross the street anytime you want to, of course. People cross all the time, whether they have the light or not. HOWEVER, don't think a car won't hit you just because you are a pedestrian in an intersection. So it's best to try to wait to cross when the little white light walk guy says it's ok, and it's best to wait when you have a red hand telling you to stop. Of course, the minute people get the "OK to Walk" signal, they will walk in front of anything moving (assuming it's going reasonably slow enough to notice them.) Walking in NYC is a little bit like "Kill or be killed."

The extreme contrast is walking in Massachusetts. When we walked around in Boston, if we even got CLOSE to an intersection, cars would screech to a halt from every direction. Frankie and I still joke about it. Sometimes, in fact, in Boston, we felt compelled to cross a street we didn't want to cross, because everyone had come to a stop assuming we were crossing. It's the law there, and it sure must be enforced.
Posted by Picasa

We stopped for brunch... a place called something like the Brooklyn Diner. I had a delicious corn muffin and scrambled eggs; Thor had some really good, very warming Chicken Noodle Soup.
(This isn't the place.)
Posted by Picasa

New York City Street Vendors

 There are always a ton of street vendors in the city. I'm assuming that most of them have licenses to sell their products, but I know that some of them don't, because some of them sell knock off designer stuff. If you ever shop in the city, keep in mind it's strictly "buyer beware." But it's a lot of fun.
Posted by Picasa

Macy's NYC

  We didn't stop to shop, but this is a great place to shop if you wanted to.
Posted by Picasa

It doesn't look like it's 8 degrees!

  We had to walk quite a few blocks before I noticed the sun at all, between all those big buildings casting shadows.
Posted by Picasa

Artsy City Photo Editing


I like it, what do you think?
Posted by Picasa

Train Station Poetry


As we waited in New York City's Penn Station for our train to arrive and the track to be called,we were treated to some lovely culture -- poetry on the walls, classical music in the air, and people all around. Very metropolitan, yes?
Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 16, 2009

OK, but I had to post this before anything else...

I saw this one on Rollercoaster Teacher's blog, it is so beautiful I actually had tears in my eyes... like I wrote on her blog, I can be overly emotional about strange things. You gotta watch it!

I have to say -- my exciting post tomorrow won't be THAT cool!
I don't have much time to write, just wanted to check in... tonight's my big night :D

I've had a lot of people asking me what's going on, I guess you'll have to wait and see. (Am I creating dramatic tension? Probably not!)

It should be a lot of fun (for me, at least) I hope it makes some interesting reading! And hopefully, a ton of good pics! So check back in tomorrow night... it will probably take me a few hours to download all the photos I want to post for tomorrow!

And in case you are checking in, Lil -- I've got the leopard skin sparkly gold scarf!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I have so much to do and so little time... right now, I'm supposed to be creating 9 awards for the Map and Compass competition of the Klondike Derby camping trip the boys are going on. I am having trouble finding the topographical maps I used to find on here.

I do feel like crawling under my desk (at home OR at work) and drinking hot chocolate, preferably with peppermint schnapps... and then finishing my book!!!
I'm doing this from work. Technically, I'm on break, but I didn't want to go home. But it feels very weird to blog from here... But I didn't want to go home because the weather is wintery! The snow started coming down hard just before I left for school, and it's still coming down pretty hard. Today would have been a good day for my movie!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wow, I can get on here from work! Shocking!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nick just got back from his second driving lesson. He did good, he said. He seemed happy. He's happy 'cause I made chili for dinner, too.
I just found out my childhood nemesis has died, and I feel rather bad about it. I spoke to my mom-in-law, and she'd read it in the paper today.

In middleschool, this boy was the bane of my existence. We were on the same volleyball team in gym. The team did really well and we were in first place. I was a complete klutz and afraid of the ball, and the team always yelled at me. He yelled more than anyone else. I couldn't stand him. It made me want to quit school.

Later in life, Thor told me that this kid had a really messed up life, with strange parents. His life was pretty difficult, and I guess he took it out on me.

I had spent SO MUCH TIME HATING him, it was hard to let it go. I tried to.

Now it's just a funny story, but I'm sorry I never met him again as an adult to say I was sorry for hating him.
Just got back from the pulmonary doctor... it went well, but Frankie does have asthma (just a little, no big deal.) It's actually Crohn's related. Just add it to the list.

At the hospital, we dropped off a used video game system to the Child Life Department, that his teacher gave him. AND we picked up a really nice letter of recommendation from them, for the scholarship he is trying to apply for next.

I did much less of the talking now that he's 18. And he HATED seeing his own name as the "guarantor" that the bill will be paid! I kinda liked it.

I had a nice easy scifi book I've been wanting to read - "Ender's Game" == that I got to read most of the time I was there. Yay!
I've got a half day of work today, because Frankie has a doctor's appointment. Can you believe, a half day of work means I can leave at 10:30?! This is one of the reasons it's great to start so early! :D

Monday, January 12, 2009

Technically, my usual bed time is 10:22. But I'm ready to fall asleep already. Good night!
Vegging on the couch.
Mindlessly entertaining.
Consider haikus.
Deadlines are helpful. The FAFSA deadline is February 15th.
yum, pancakes for dinner. I'm stuffed. Yeah, maybe not the most dietlike food I could be eating, but that's why I like this carb diet - you get one good meal every day. Of course, I'm not losing weight on it this time. I wonder why? (Don't even bother to comment this one. Please.)
My feet are cold. Actually, my feet, my nose, and my left cheek and my left hand are cold. I must be sitting in a draft.


Well, we might not have much snow around here, but the arctic blast is coming in quick. It's the perfect weather to come home right from work, put on a big pot of chili, cuddle on the couch with my afghan and my computer, and watch TV all night.

HOWEVER, I've looked at my schedule, and that is not part of the plan for this week! I've got a lot to do and not much time to do it in. Some stuff I can do at home -- paperwork kinds of things that I must catch up with, like filling out the financial aid (FAFSA) form for Frankie for college; some stuff I have to go out for appointments -- like tonights meeting on HOW to fill out the FAFSA, at a local high school; some fun stuff, like a pretty cool plan for Friday Night that I'll tell you all about on Saturday Night.

So, anyway, my point is that I won't have much time for computering this week. I still hope to post once in a while, but it won't be much until the weekend. So, my plan is to just post a sentence or two every few hours... rather like a twitter feed, but without twitter. And, fair warning, I might not have anything to say, and I probably won't be reading anyone else's blogs until the weekend, either.

But on Saturday, well, I should have an EXCELLENT post!

(Of course, I guess that depends on what you think constitutes an "excellent" post!)

Well, check in periodically to see what I mean.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It was supposed to snow a lot today.

So I thought, wouldn't it be cool to make a movie showing the snow accumulating? I had wanted to try a stop action movie with my camera and the picasa program. So this is what I came up with.

For those of you who haven't been to my house, this is the view out the front window. This is the same view I've been looking at every single day since I was born. It isn't a spectacular view, but I do love it. It could certainly be worse.

Obviously the music is by Eddie Vedder. (That isn't obvious to you? It's obvious to me! It's Tuolumne from his Into the Wild album.)

It took me a while to get this finished, and I don't love it... but I had fun, and I have a great idea for the next movie :) And yeah, next time I guess I'll use the tripod!

Waiting for my 16 year old to grow up.

It's 9:30, AM, and I'm sitting here waiting.

It's supposed to be snowing, but it isn't yet. Well, there are a few faint white specks, but not alot. Which is actually good. I want it to snow, but not too much until later.

I'm mostly waiting for Nick to get back. He just left for his first ever driving class. I am not exactly worried about him, but I am a little. But I'm also glad that his first lesson was early enough in the morning, on a day when everyone is planning on staying home because of the snow we're supposed to be getting. The traffic should be light. And it hasn't really started snowing enough to affect his driving.

Nick seems to be feeling very unconfident lately -- maybe he's always felt that way, I don't know. He seems not too thrilled to be learning to drive, and he's not really interested in getting out to get a job -- I think that's because he doesn't want to approach the manager about an interview, more than because he doesn't want to work.

I wasn't sure what to do about it; I want him to get a job. I thought about driving him over to the food store myself, where he wants to apply, and asking to speak with a manager, and pushing him forward and saying "My son wants a job." But I tend to think that won't be a very good way to handle it. If he can't speak up to get the job, he probably just isn't ready yet.

So I've decided to wait a little longer, but I'm gonna make him work much harder around here. Play time is over, and it's time for him to do adult work around the house. I want him to cook a few meals a week and vacuum, do laundry, and stuff like that. Maybe by being responsible for certain things, he will become more confident.

He isn't overly excited about driving, but maybe when he starts driving around some, he will find more confidence.

I don't know what else I can do besides wait.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My eyes...

... are very blurry right now, I can't see a thing.

I just got back from the eye dr. -- a new one, higher up the food chain from the last two eye drs. I went to -- and he said that a bunch of things are making me have eye problems -- I'm allergic to my contacts (didn't even know that was possible!) -- I have rosacia (which I don't know how to spell, but is usually a skin condition) inside my eyelids, they are very dry, and I need bi-focals (That part I figured out on my own.) So I'm pretty happy because none of that is insurmountable, as long as I throw enough money at it (buy new glasses, buy different brand of contact lens, buy prescription.)

Also good news -- Frankie and I finally finished the paperwork for a scholarship he is applying for, for college. Who knows? It's a bit like the lottery. No guarantees, but you gotta be in it to win it.

Also good news -- Thor is going to visit Barnegat this weekend, and taking Nick, so I've the house (almost) to myself. Now, I just have to convince Frankie that he WANTS to go with them. PLEASE. He loves to go to Barnegat, but he wants to spend time at home hogging the computer we are sharing.

I got go so I'll post again one of these days...

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Mundane

One of the problems with writing a blog, for me and for a lot of my friends, I think, is... what am I gonna write about? My life is not exciting. I go to work, come home, cook dinner, go to a meeting, do some laundry, and go to sleep... every single day (just about.) There are some variations, but that's basically it.

But it really isn't boring. Or at least, it doesn't feel boring today. Today it feels beautiful.

Well, that's not saying that the BLOG isn't boring. Because I guess a lot of days it is boring. Do you really CARE about my laundry?

(I can hear Thor yelling "YES!!! DO IT!!!")

But every one of those mundane days has an additional layer of beautiful things. There is a beautiful sky as I'm driving to work. There is a really wonderful cup of tea. There is a pleasant camaraderie at work, saying the same pleasant "good morning" to about 40 teachers, and "Have a good afternoon" at the end of the day. There is an amazing song on the radio as I'm driving home for my break. There is the time I have for meaningless or deep conversations with my family, and there is the often funny conversations around the dinner table -- well, you might not think they are funny, but Schroedinger's Cat jokes always make us laugh. And there is the relaxation of the couch at the end of the day, watching a good story on TV, reading some interesting blogs from friends all over the world... it's a great thing.

And how much of a blog can you write about that?

But it's there. And when I see a beautiful sunset, in the same spot I see the sun set practically every single night, I am thrilled. But I take a picture of it, and it looks pretty much the same as the sunset I posted last time. So I might not post it. But it's what makes life wonderful. Even if my blog is boring.

Love ya --

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday Morning

G'Morning, all. Well, for some of you, it may be rather late. But it's morning here at my house, and it's a nice quiet one so far with nobody up but me, which is just how I like it.

Today is the last day of Christmas break. That is a rather sad fact. Also sad is the fact that I haven't really gotten ahead of the laundry that has to get done, or anything else for that matter. It's not just a matter of procrastinating, it's straight out not bothering to even think about that stuff.

But today is the day, I will certainly work my butt of to get ready for the work week. I'm going to make some low carb soup, so I have lunch for this week, (Yuck.) And I'm going to cook a roast for tonight's dinner, and get a crock pot ready for tomorrow's dinner. And I'm going to get ALL that laundry done AND put away.

So far, I've spent the whole new year reading -- and not eating much, just drinking ginger tea, going along with my dieting resolution. But I'm between books now (and my eyes are absolutely BURNING!), so I have no more excuses.

I think I should make a DAILY resolution. And my resolution for today is to restore some order to this mess! Thor will like that one!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Is it really Saturday?

It still feels like New Years Day! How are your resolutions going so far?

Mine are going ok...

I'm feeling skinnier already!

But I'm CERTAINLY not getting on any SCALE.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

It's a whole new year!


Here's to a brand new beginning - a new year, a new chance to start over and do everything right this time. It's more symbolic than real, but it's a great symbol!

I'm excited to have a new year beginning, aren't you? I started my diet today. I went to the store and bought a handful of diet like foods that I plan on using to help me. I drank a lot of ginger green tea, and I made "Hopping John", which is an old folk recipe from my Grandma's era and culture for good luck in the new year for money. It's actually pretty tasty and I made a slightly more diet version than I usually do -- and it was good, surprisingly!

I also bought two lottery tickets for Thor and I. But we haven't scratched them off yet. We aren't in any rush to scratch them off, because right now, unscratched, they are pure potential... they are certainly winners.

I have a bunch of books to cuddle up with for the winter, and I'm absolutely excited about THAT! I have the books I bought the other day, and the books that Amber gave me for Christmas, and I bought the next book in the Twilight series, and the sequel to Ken Follett's book "The Pillars of the Earth." Right now I'm reading the Deepak Chopra book which I am totally fascinated by... he's got a very understandable style, and I love what he's saying.

I hope you all find a lot to look forward to for the new year!
Posted by Picasa

Happy New Year ...

 ... from our party to yours!
Posted by Picasa