Monday, February 28, 2011

DOMA reconsidered

There is an article on the interwebs this evening reporting that DOMA is being reconsidered. I think that is a very good thing. I know others will discuss more at length, and with greater knowledge about the issue, while I am mainly going to talk about the comments provoked by the article.


I read about three before this comic came to mind.

I don't have time to tell each of these people what I think of their crazy ideas. Maybe I just shouldn't read the comments on these things at all.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

a little dreaming

There is nothing better after a rant than a deep, cleansing breath. Good air in, bad energy out.

I've been looking recently at some FABULOUS crafting blogs. Eventually, I will probably pick out a few to share, but right now I'm exploring. It is wonderful for me, because these are new to me. I hadn't stumbled upon them before, but one leads to another, which leads to the next. This is a network that I want to be part of. That, however is not the dream.

I get a little jealous because a lot of these people (women so far, but I'm not limiting my view) stay home and work on their crafts. Its such a nice ideal. I want that. I'm sure their houses are always clean and their children never demand their attention during a critical moment of calculating.

No, wait. I bet that isn't the case at all.

Still, I dream about having more creative crafting time. Time to try out all these wonderful projects I see, and the ones I think up. I would like to make some more sleeve wings, like Raine's halloween costume, and so much more that I won't list here. But there are bills, and food, and... and.... and.... So, off to work I go. And I still am working it out in my head, and in my life the way to make it all pay for itself, this love of crafting, so that there is a realistic way to accomplish it.

And here's something new for my personal to-do list, that one of the bloggers mentioned and I thought was an excellent challenge: make something from each of the craft books they owned. I love that challenge!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

a working rant

This afternoon, after school, I was checking out some news headlines online, and came across a piece - I'm sure you saw it, too - about Providence, RI sending notice to all teachers in their district that they may be laid off at the end of the school year. Of course they are not planning on laying off ALL of their teachers, but some will be, and since they haven't decided who, they gave everyone notice. A big boost to job morale, there. The worst part? I think that lay-offs will be happening in many school districts across the country. There are other things that concern me about school district finances, but if I talk about them now, I'll get off track. More off track?

Anyway, I read through the article, and then scrolled through a very few of the comments. The author of one of them wrote that teachers should just do more without more pay. Really? Hmmm.

Another bit of news I read was about the current American distribution of wealth. The reality, VS the perception. The gap is wide, although it didn't surprise me, really. I've been aware of the difference in earning power between my parents, and me for a while now. Here in NM, my Master's Degree is worth a little over 40k per year as a public school teacher. 40K per year is - according to the chart in that article - barely over the poverty level. I put in full time hours every week, during the school day. I plan lessons, and prepare materials. This year, I've bought all the paper I've used for handouts. I've had to, to make sure I had paper. I buy the ink for the printer in my classroom. Many of my students expect me to provide basic school supplies for them. How do you expect me to do any work if you won't give me a pencil or paper? seems to be their attitude. I stay after school, sometimes more than two hours, when our activity bus runs to take the students home. I call parents with good news and bad news. I grade papers in the evenings and on the weekends. I take materials home over the summer to be ready for the new school year. I care about these young people and their futures. What more should I be expected to do?

I understand and agree that there are problems with our educational system. Our governmental mandates are not helping to fix the problems. Demands for higher test scores and threats to teachers and schools who do not meet them do not make a better system. Budgets which raise teacher to student ratios, and causes classes to not be offered or supported financially don't help either. Will getting rid of teachers help the problems that the educational system faces? The teaching profession - at least in the public school system - seems to be fast becoming an untenable one. After all the trained professionals are gone, who will teach these students? Who will take our place? Who will teach your children? (I know I can teach mine).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

writer as artisan

Not long ago, my friend Fran awarded me with a tarot reading, part of which mention that I tend to find patterns in seemingly unrelated things. (I didn't quote her here, but this is how I took what she told me - if you get the difference, which I think is an important one in a reading).

Now, Fran also works at a very cool mystery bookstore in Seattle, which I wish I could visit, especially when they are having a signing. Yep, I get all geeky and excited about stuff like that. Fran also blogs (which I enjoy reading and have given you a link to) and has written several times about the future/fate of bookstores like the one she works in. Here's one such post.

I think that shops like the bookstore where Fran works have to figure out what will keep them alive in a market that is rapidly changing. It holds a lot of uncertainty, but also a lot of possibility. My personal belief is that being able to use the internet as a marketplace will create an upswing of artisans, if the networks can be created. I think that writers can very well be considered among those artisans. The book market has traditionally included agents, publishers, editors, contracts and advances. I don't know the intimate ins and outs, and I won't pretend to, but, authors who's work won't sell enough copies to make the printing profitable (for whatever reason) don't get printed.

Now, along comes the internet, and anyone can write just about anything, and publish it - at least virtually. Maybe no one else will read it, and maybe a few people will. Or maybe - over time, and with marketing of some kind or another - maybe a LOT of people will read it. I think of actor/author Wil Wheaton, who blogs, does podcasts, and sells his books. He sells them from his website, and he sells them at cons. Does he make his living at it? I haven't - and won't - get a look at his financials, but I doubt it. It is just one facet of his income. But he makes a good artisan model. People go to gaming conventions and visit with him, get him to sign a copy of his book for them and then because he has created a certain recognizability, he also gets acting work, which gives him time to write, etc. He sells books, either in print, or download. He has parts or all of his various works also available in audio versions. He has a wide-spread audience, but they can access him, and his work at any time. I think he would be an example of writer as artisan.

Another example might be The Leviathan Chronicles which may have started as a book that the author was unable to sell. It became an audio performance in podcasts. As the audio performance it is entertaining, and the author has found a way to market his ideas to an audience who will appreciate and enjoy them. Another artisan.

There is something here, my friends. Something that I am still working on getting my head around for myself, as I would like to apply it to artisan crafting. It is what I'm considering as my "next job" when I can figure it out. Or get it to take off. I think it is something that brick and mortar bookstores could consider. Do they become the "studio" for these writer/artisans? Do they facilitate the public access to them? What would it look like? How would it work? What about established authors who have relationships with publishers? Would it be a one-or-the-other situation? What is it that these bookstores would be selling? What would keep them afloat and paying their employees? I have many questions. Many ideas, and more questions...

Monday, February 21, 2011


Cheryl Wheeler wrote a song called "I Know this Town." She recorded it, and so did Bette Middler. I couldn't find a video of either of them singing it, but I linked the lyrics for you.

As I was exercising today, walking through my neighborhood, that song popped into my head. I pass the houses I was walking past every day in my car, and here I was walking past them, noticing more than I could ever have time for in while driving. I enjoyed my walk very much. The exercise, greeting a neighbor here and there, and noticing stuff.

We had a cold snap a few weeks ago, with temperatures at 17 degrees for a couple of days. I know that doesn't seem like much for many people who live in colder climes, but for southern NM, it was pretty much a record. As we've been going here and there, we've noticed the cactus, especially the flat ones, are - well - even flatter. Flat on the ground. Dead. Big stands that took years, probably decades to grow, just laid out. I've looked over my rosebushes, and our little pomegranate bush, hoping that they've survived, and I'm not sure they have. Guess we'll see when they decide to leaf out, soon. Or not.

There were several yards, ours included, that had the sprinklers going, hoping to see that very same thing with other plants. The oleanders were hit hard in many yards. Ours looks better than many. Soon will be time for fertilizer and grass seeds, and watering for spring.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

thank you presidents

For having birthdays for us to celebrate. By celebrate, I mean, not WORK. Well, at least not GO to work. I still have some grading to do, that I have been avoiding so far this weekend. I've also been working on other projects, though, as well.

I did a google search, and got to some directions for a crocheted Tam 'o shanter. One of those hats. The directions were printed in the 1890's, by a yarn company. They suggested it be made of silk (for the troops, who could carry the hat in their pockets) and it told how many spools of their silk thread to buy. It has no mention of what weight, how many yards of silk, or what size of hook to use. Hmmm I went to Hobby Lobby and found a silk and bamboo blend, that is about a sport weight, then I came home and found a size D hook, that looked like it would do the trick. So far, that pattern is pretty easy to follow. I'll let you know how it turns out, size and all.

Another cool thing that I found out today is here. I grew up with Sheri Bone, and she was smart, and funny and athletic, and one of the nicest all-around people you could ever know. Oh, yeah, and beautiful. That she has gotten where she is today is testament to that and more. I'm glad she shared this with me, and I think that she is pretty awesome.

Friday, February 18, 2011

a musical stream

Have you hear of Folk Alley? It's a web site that streams folk music. My friends Phil and Cheryl had it playing one evening while I was at their house, and I liked it, and asked what it was. This evening I've just been enjoying the heck out of it. They play a wide variety including Celtic, and well, almost anyone you might hear on Prairie Home Companion. (OK, OK, I'm terrible at names.)

Anyway I'll include a link, so enjoy! Folk Alley is here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

seeing the light

No. REALLY seeing it. Understanding the refractive qualities of the atmosphere on the light. You know, more inner truth. For myself.

Deep breath in.... deep breath out.

When I had my check up in the fall, my blood sugar was up higher than my doctor liked it to be. Frankly, I had been doing rather poorly on my diet, so I wasn't surprised. OK, well, maybe a little, because I was fooling myself that I was doing better than I really was. I hadn't gained weight so... I splurged now and then. Yeah, more frequently than I should. So he gave me another pill to take with the Januvia. Well, it caused my ankles to swell. Side effect. And I already have problems with my ankles swelling. As wide as my feet are, I could seriously run out of shoe options. Really.

OK, I told myself, I will eat better, and exercise more. And I have. I started swimming a couple of times a week, and it felt great. Then, came the first sinus infection of the season, and antibiotics. Then, the second... with tonsilitis. This one set me back a little because I didn't want to get in the pool with it, and when I was better, the pool was closed for almost a week because of the weather. Finally I got back to the pool, which I feel is better overall exercise for me, and less stress on joints etc. Besides, I like to swim. But now, I'm slowly feeling icky again. chest, this time, and a growing cough.

I feel like it is another wake up call for me. I better (as I've said I should before) get (and STAY) real with myself again. Some more. I need to be diligent about what I eat. I need to exercise, and not just the days I go to the pool, but EVERY day. I've figured out where a mile is, here in my neighborhood. I'll walk the half for the next week, and then go to the mile. The days are growing longer, so the evening will just about keep me in the light. Its a journey, folks, and I know I'm not the only one taking it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

weather or not

It would seem perhaps that the groundhog was right this year. He said winter was over, and now I am believing him.

Today, our weather was warm, nearly 80 degrees. Sunny. Windy. Yes, the southern NM spring winds have started already. Sigh. Believe me when I tell you, no matter how good the temperature sounds, that the wind is not what you want. It wouldn't be so bad if it would leave the dust, dirt, and debris alone. But, no, the sky turns brown some days. It wasn't too bad for that today, just in places. But it will be. It will.

We are supposed to get a mild cold front later this week, which will take the temperatures down a few degrees, and then more wind over the weekend.

I guess we used up our winter in that one shot.

Monday, February 14, 2011

oh my darlin'

It is Valentine's Day, today. Another excuse for crass commercialism in the land of America. Crass commercialism and parties. At school, the balloons, and flowers and... well everything... were quite distracting. My students could hardly think of anything else, except maybe candy. I saw at least two girls walking around with stuffed animals as big as they were.

Here at my house, things were a bit simpler. We had a really nice dinner at a new Vietnamese restaurant. The second time we've eaten there, and we are still happy with it and looking forward to the next time. mmmmm

Raine filled out Valentine cards for her classmates, and had a little Valentine party at school. I will admit, when I was in elementary school, Valentine's was my favorite holiday to celebrate at school. We made "mail" boxes for our cards to go in. We did other crafts as well, with glue and glitter and paper doilies, often heart-shaped. But the best thing of all was exchanging cards. The excitement of getting all those cards to read was a big deal to me. I still love getting mail.

I will say that I am happy for having my family, and thankful for them. I'm not so romantic or sentimental (if that's the right word) that I need Valentine gifts or much beyond, really, the acknowledgment that others are thankful, too.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

couldn't get through it

I've been listening to Seduced by Moonlight, by Laurell K Hamilton. I checked out the disks from the library because I knew that she writes some urban fantasy type books, and lately, I have been enjoying that genre. Perhaps I would enjoy one of her other series more than this book, or maybe its just this book, and I unluckily picked it. Really. I couldn't get through it, even just listening.

I'm not big on politics or whining, and this book has plenty of both. The main character is a "princess," and her bodyguards feel like they too good for anything (or, they're too emotionally wounded). There is sex, a lot of it implied. I can deal with that. There is no adventure, though! I like adventure! Motion. Movement. A greater purpose. Nope, none of those things here.

I don't care about the main character. I don't care that to become ruler, she must get pregnant (so she has an excuse to have sex with every other character in the book, or at least considers the possibility. Please, it gets OLD!) I don't care even more that she has to make/maintain treaties to keep herself safe, nor that she buys those treaties with her body or her bodily fluids. (EWwww) I don't care how handsome her whiny body guards are. Whiny is SO. NOT. SEXY.

So, anyway, I got through 4 of 12 discs, and I'm done. If I'd been struggling through an actual print book, I probably wouldn't have gotten past the first chapter. Is this book typical Hamilton?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

i miss something I never had

It is - at least in part - facebook's fault. I talk to people and keep up with them on facebook. Some of my cousins that I haven't talked to for years, and I missed. Life keeps moving on, and whether you like it or not, sometimes people fall by the way, even though they shouldn't. Since my parents died, it has been harder to keep up with extended family, who are all busy with living their lives in those extended places.

I've also reconnected with some friends who have moved onwards. Time has brought us children to add to the time and distance. Children I would enjoy getting to know, watching grow. I enjoy looking at their photos, and sharing the antics of theirs and mine. But, I miss them, too. I miss that we don't get to hang out and let our kids play together, and argue and - yeah, OK - scream with each other. I miss the family that we created, and then had to let fly. I miss it, but while we were all in the same place at the same time, the kids were only starting to start. Or they were older. But I know how we all kind of pitched it with the kids who were here, and I would love that to happen for/with Raine. It won't though, there was some kind of magic going on. Or something.

So, I will continue to enjoy the photos and the stories, and the updates, and wish we were the still the village, raising these kids together. Supporting each other.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

one picture, or...

Um... yeah, one more Raine's birthday related post. I know, I know, you're as fascinated as I am. or. not.

Raine's grandparents sent her some money for her birthday, as grandparents will. I took her to the store over the weekend, after the snow and all, and let her pick out something. The something turned out to be a dragon. I thought she did pretty well with staying in her budget and all, and she is very pleased with the dragon.

I suggested that she take a picture of the dragon, so she could e-mail it to her grandparents and show them what she got. She was happy to do that, and carefully posed the dragon and we pushed the button so it would light up, and she took several photos. (digital cameras are wonderful) She sent a little message along with the photo.

The better picture - the one I didn't take (didn't want to wake her up) - was the one I saw later that evening. The fierce dragon was posed on the pillow, next to her favorite stuffed dog (that's his "bed") and under the covers. Not so tough now, are you, sleepy dragon...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

kinda cool

Yes, this is another picture from Raine's party this past weekend.

Ezekiel wore his spore creature shirt, and then stood in front of their blue screen projector. The shirt has a blue background, which pretty much disappeared, leaving the creatures.

I thought it was kinda cool, and I would share with you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

not as planned

This year we planned to give Raine a swimming party for her birthday. After all, the new indoor municipal pool has opened and she and I have been enjoying it for a while now. So, we booked one of their party rooms, and Raine filled out her invitations and delivered them.

Then, mother nature made some deliveries, too. Snow, of course, and the coldest weather we've had in quite a while. The electric power stations were hard pressed to operate in the cold, and so there were rolling blackouts for several days. Many facilities closed (in fact I didn't go back to school today, even though Raine did - GHS was still having water issues) for the duration. The pool manager called and said we would either get a refund or we could reschedule. Sigh.

We relocated the party, because Raine's birthday has already passed, and the pool scheduling made us have the party later than we would have liked. We went to her close second choice, and the kids who made it had a good time, and that's the important thing.

It has been suggested that maybe a happy unbirthday party at the pool some other time might be just the thing. I'm inclined to agree... but maybe not THIS month...

Friday, February 4, 2011

raine stuff

If you look pretty close, you can see Raine's tooth, finally coming in. She's pretty cute, all right. Just ask me, I'll tell ya. She's also pretty patient with her mom, who takes silly pictures of her new tooth finally coming in.

Hope the other one breaks through soon. She's been without them since about Easter. (remember the dangle-y teeth photos?)

We had her birthday party planned for the new indoor pool facility that opened in the fall. Unfortunately, our recent winter weather has caused rolling black-out in the area, so they are closed until Tuesday or so. They called and said we could either reschedule or get a refund. We're already more than a week past her birthday, so I think the reschedule is out. We're kinda disappointed, because the pool party just really sounded like fun. Oh well, Chuckie Cheese, here we come.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

an interesting week

The winter weather that hit much of the country did not pass us by, here in New Mexico. We got our 2-4 inches and it brought us to a halt. In many places, that much snow is barely noticed. Here, it's more problematic.

For one thing, although we might get an inch or two of snow every other year or so, we don't usually get the cold temperatures that we have this year. Not only has this been the coldest weather of the year, but the coldest of several years, maybe a decade. We don't have the street equipment to clear the roads if the sun doesn't do it for us. We have sand and road graders. Yep, I've seen it with my own eyes.

Another thing that has happened this year, is that a couple of the local power stations can't handle the cold, so the power grid here is on the edge. There have been rolling black-outs for a couple of days, now. We have been pretty fortunate, they haven't been too long, or tooo annoying. The power company has asked that the schools remain closed, however, to prevent further drain on the system.

Along with this, many people have had frozen pipes, which will result in leaks of various sizes when things thaw out in the next couple of days. We've been lucky that ours are doing OK so far.

It has been a week of reading, occasional computer time, grading papers, and - hopefully, tomorrow - some sewing. Raine has probably been bored occasionally, because that is how kids are. I've been reveling in it. I know the time is a gift that isn't given that often.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

strings of pearls

The photo today is of Roxanne's tunic top. Yes it is sleeveless so she can wear it like a shell, under jackets or sweaters. I've given up on the outfits that include jacket-y pieces. I really like the way they look, but I just get too HOT. Then, I want to take off the jacket, or push up the sleeves, and generally, then the outfit doesn't look as good. Roxanne, however, enjoys them. She also works at the university, and walks outside, and has an occasionally chilly office or lecture hall.

I do want to talk about the fabric for a moment. It is a black background with flowy stripes of beads. It is very organic feeling, and I think the wavey stripes add a lot of interest to it. The camera, on the other hand, didn't like them quite as well, as you can see. I think it would help if I set the camera on a tripod, but I don't have the patience yet.

Anyway, I think it manages to satisfy my idea of something that is formal and serious enough to wear to work while still incorporating an element of fun. I was very happy with how it came out. So, would a couple of long strings of white pearly beads work on this top, or would it be too much? Maybe something in turquoise...