Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tis the season

I can't believe it's close to the end of the year. It feels like just yesterday I was getting ready to start a brand new school year. It's amazing how time just keeps moving us forward. I have to say that Christmas time is a lovely time, but not right now. The weather has been so erratic. It was up to 67 degrees yesterday!!! What's up? I dunno, but I think the temperatures are going to be falling and falling yet again. Which is the way it should be, no?

Any who, J and I finally got up the tree, and it looks good. It's a little bit on the small side, but slightly larger than last year. I love the decorations we have. I have a lot of sentimental ones from when I was a kid, and even some of the ornaments that were from my parents' first trees when they were first married. They weren't expensive by any means.... (99 cents and Dart Drug for12 round, glittery balls in green and red). But they hold memories of hanging on so many of our family trees. And that's the best part.

I'm also on a baking spree. I've made 3 batches so far. Chocolate chip (of course), lemon cookies, and peanut butter balls. I am still setting out to do at least 3 mores (Russian tea cakes, chocolate, and Linzer cookies). I love to bake, and this amount of baking only happens once a year. Plus, they make good gifts. And since I have neighbors this year, I feel like I should extend a batch of cookies there way.

So, there's about 2 1/2 more days of school, I have kids finishing up some self portraits (too big, they're never going to finish them) and the girls are working on prints (which are coming out nicely, but it's hectic trying to clean it all up). The kids are pretty low-key these days. A lot of students are actually finishing up their sentences, and are able to go home before the holidays. But each day we get a couple of new ones in...

I'll be glad to have a break. We've never gotten 2 full weeks off before, and it's much needed for all of us. It's been so erratic these past few months, and even though we're all handling it well, and doing our jobs, we need this break. I kind of wish we could have a year 'round schedule so we could more breaks like this.....never going to happen.

NO huge plans this Christmas time. Just spending it with the family and some friends. I hope to catch up on some reading, and painting (for myself) and watching some movies, and of course trying to catch up on some sleep (easier said than done).

So this isn't much of a post. But I did get a new camera, and I'll be taking pictures throughout the holiday season.....

Ok. Merry Everything.....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Fall

Have you heard of this movie? It came out a year or two ago. I'm not sure what the reviews were like, but I thought it was an amazing film. Not only was it filmed all over the world, the cast of characters are fantastic.

It's a surreal movie about this guy who tells a story to this little girl while they're both in the hospital. He uses the story to get her to do things for him and her imagination runs wild with the story. It's a fantasy really, and it's as beautiful as it is sad, happy, funny, dramatic, and strange. Everything I could ever want in a movie!

I highly suggest that you check it out, even if it's just for beautiful imagery of the countries they shoot in - China, India, Romania, Italy, England, Argentina, Cambodia, Fiji...just to name a few.

It also didn't hurt to have Lee Pace as the bed-ridden patient... I LOVE HIM!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dog???

Oh to go to a shelter and look at all the cute little faces of all the dogs. That is what I did two times this week. J and I came to a decision that we can really get a dog, and we can really take care of it. And we've decided to try and adopt one from a local shelter. And-- this must be the place to do it, because there were some really sweet dogs. But especially this one little guy.

This one little guy is called Colton (would be changed if I had him-- but anyway). He's a black labradoodle. He's 3 months old, and the shaggiest cutest thing you'd ever want to see... I'll even post a pictures in hopes that he becomes mine.

He is totally trainable, sweet, warm, and loves to be around people. I think he'd be the perfect mix for us. We have a yard, and room for him to grow into. He will get huge.. No doubt. His cute paws are huge. I mean HUGE! He's not even close to being full grown. But if we got him now, he'd be totally easy to care of.

So, are you sitting, are you waiting, are you wondering why I don't have this cute pup in my grasp yet? Well, hold on to your mittens my friends. There's a short wait list. In fact, there's just one person ahead of me on this list. Wait for it...............

It's Barack Obama. Yes. The Obamas might get "MY" dog. I'm thinking, I Obama my vote, and carefully carved his likeness on a pumpkin. Isn't that enough? Apparently, animal shelters in the area are in the know about the Obama's family needs for a certain type of pet. He did say a mutt, didn't he? Well, they're looking for a labradoodle, and they would want to adopt rather than buy a dog. Totally respect that.... So Animal Shelters in Alexandria, Arlington...etc.. are putting in bids for Obama to take the dog from them. So, the likelihood of me actually getting this dog as a part of my family is kind of slim. I can only hope and pray to the gods above that this shelter may actually choose me. I'd love to find out now. But I guess I may not know until January. In the meantime, the pup is stuck in the shelter.

I'm willing and waiting... I think he should be with us. So cross your fingers, I hope I really get this cute, loveable, adorable chewing machine.... It would be the best Christmas ever.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brrrrrrrrr

I was on my home from work and it flurried. What?? I'm not ready for this, please let me crawl back into my nice warm bed, with the covers secured tightly over my head.

Spa day is Friday! SO excited and maybe a little nervous at the same time. I've never had one before..... it was my birthday present from J this year and I finally get to use it! My best friend is coming with me too. Should be a great day, I'm hoping.

Ok, so hopefully work today will be semi-normal... we'll see.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not a normal day..week....ever

Everyone knows by now where I teach, and what I do. The conflict I deal with everyday is consistency. Not just with my own teaching practices, but the building, the environment, the kids, the transient nature of it all.

Well, today is no exception. We've not had a normal week since September. Almost every week there has been some kind of shortened day, or an assembly, or a training... At least once a week. Or, I've been out. Today we were actually just discussing how this week looks like it may be the first 5-day uninterrupted schedule since we can remember. No dice.

As you may have guessed, security comes first. And today, there just happened to be a breach. I'm not going to go into it on the blog, someone lost some keys.. Not teaching staff. They're important keys. If someone got a hold of them, they could walk right out of this facility. The search has begun.

So all the kids are locked down, we're stuck in our classrooms... which is fine. I got tons to do. The worst part about it, is that we don't know how long this will last. It's pretty important that they find these, or else, well, I don't know what else. They'll have to completely change all the locks and keypads.

I think it's pretty safe to say that I'm not going to be doing any teaching the rest of the day. Which really stinks. Today I was on a roll with the two classes I saw, and was really upbeat that my students would be making some strides in their perspective drawings. But I guess that's kind of on hold for now.

So much for a "normal" work week. And next week is Thanksgiving -- we only have 2 days of school next week.

I just wish things were a little different.

Monday, November 17, 2008

You Betcha!

http://yeswecarve.com/

I'm somewhere on it. Right now, it's the first page... could be second or third by tomorrow!!!

yes we did!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Front entrance for the hotel.

Everything is painted and decorated, and detailed.


Another view, more mountains, just take in the fresh crisp air.



Squirel or Bear. You decide. He's definitely wasn't just storing for winter.




The beautiful, majestic Broadmoor Hotel.

Black swans floating around in the Broadmoor Lake.


I'd stay there.






Me and Karin relaxing for a moment at the Garden of the Gods.


Colorado Round 3

Garden of the Gods! Truly beautiful!
















Colorado Round 2

The Contemporary part of DAM - it's really an amazing piece of architecture.

They made this whole open plaza, complete with condos and lofts right across the way.


This takes up a significant amount of space. I didn't realize just how large the structure was.




Colorado Round 1

They have a preserved Tibetan Mandala on display. I wasn't quite sure how I felt about the first time I saw it years ago, but I feel like it's ok. It's supposed to represent impermanence.

Lots going on in the museum, installation of grey foxes, and this interesting, yet frightening view of skulls.

They have areas where you can walk outside, they're going to eventually be sculpture gardens.



Metal man!


The inside can really play with your perceptions of space.




Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Elevation is elevating

We're back from the west. Colorado was as I remembered it, except, Denver has this really awesome contemporary addition to their art museum. Last time I visited, they had plans drawn up, and I think there was even a little construction going on, and now it's this massive silver building that takes over the entire area. It's pretty great though. They have a lot of temporary exhibits, and a few permanent ones.

I was able to take pictures of some of the permanent exhibits, and I'll post them later.

We also ate some nice meals. Particularly, at this great Italian place down off of 16th street. The meal was very good. I had a pasta stuffed with squash in a butter sage sauce...yum. But I have to say the salad I had ordered for a starter was the best salad I ever had. I'm not sure if I could re-create it or not. A baby salad of pears, walnuts, goat cheese, drizzled with a balsamic and honey glaze. Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The only problem with this high-end restaurant was their wine prices. They called themselves a wine bar too, which I guess gave them license to jack up their wine prices. It just seemed way out of price for all the glasses they were serving. Oh well, the meal made it all worth it.

The next couple of days we spent with my friend from high school... Karin. We drove down to see her and had a nice but way to short visit. There were beautiful vistas, and a visit to the majestic Broadmoor Hotel. I will try to explain to you just how beautiful it is.

The hotel was built in 1917. It's beautifully decorated, the grounds are amazing. The people are so friendly you wonder how someone can constantly smile like that all day long without going insane. Which makes me wonder.... if you work at this complex for too long, might you go insane (a la Jack Nicholson in "The Shining") ?

There's something about the Broadmoor that exudes elegance, charm, and the feeling that you might actually be a part of some aristocratic family.

So we sat in the bar, where we relaxed in beautiful leather chairs, sipping our beverages, letting the altitude have it's way with our consciousness. Soaked in the scenery of the mountains behind us, and had some delicious snacks...and possibly the best nuts you've ever tasted.

We watched the bear-like squirrels search for food, birds fly in and out, and swans (white and black) find their way around the little lake. Probably one of the most serene places I've ever been where there are so many people moving about. J and I walked around the lake took some pictures and went back in as soon as the chill got to us for a delicious hot chocolate.

We also went to the Garden of the Gods. A really interesting area that jets out into the foothills near the city of Colorado Springs. The red and yellow tones of the rock, the sharp shapes that drastically change from each angle. Just beautiful the way the light played of the rocks.... -sigh-

The elevation didn't play too much into our daily routine, I think we both suffered from a slight headache on the first day, but we tried to keep up our liquids (all kinds of liquids). I kind of long for the day that I can actually get into some real elevation. For some reason these high desert cities are places that I connect with. I really miss being out there, but I know that I couldn't live in those areas. I'm definitely an east coast girl and really love where I am at the moment, but I always long for it, I always want to be there, and when I am there -- it's almost like coming home.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I voted!

And Virginia must have it's act together, because it took be about 60 seconds. I didn't have to stand in any line, and I voted on a paper ballot. Easy as PIE! Unlike Floridians, who can't seem to get their act together.

I'm so excited for the change. I am actually tempted to get my hair chopped off this week, but I think I should really wait for the Inauguration Day. That is the official change of power. THANK GOD. And if all goes according to plan, it will be Obama.

Not that it matters if I vote for the president, because I don't hold the key. The stupid electoral college does.

Anyway, must go finish my grading, and lesson planning. In this district we have no school today, only a teacher work day. Which is great for us. But what about the rest of the country? Why don't we vote on the weekends? Or make it a national holiday? It's ridiculous.

Tonight I'm definitely watching the results. I hope we know by 9 pm!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

YES WE CARVE! or at least i do.








I hoping they'll post it on the yeswecarve.com site!!!
BARACK the Lantern!!! oh yeah, and vote too....


Almost there

It's the end of my Thursday. Just need to prep for tomorrow and I can go home.

It's been one of those weeks where nothing goes according to plan. My one saving grace is my Unit 2. As about as consistent as a class can get. They come on time, work hard, I get to interact with them individually, we talk about their work. It's great. I couldn't ask for a better end to any teaching day. Unit 2 is like a group of 16 year olds. Most of them have been here for a while, and it's not as transient as most other units. Maybe that's why? They're used to each other, they treat each other more like brothers. It's a comforting feeling I think. They're much more at ease.

Even with their artwork they're taking more risks than any other class. I never hear "I can't". So I have to say, the end of my days are a breeze. I'm glad I get to end with them and it makes me appreciate where I teach. Because, with them, at least I know they're doing more than just finishing an assignment, they're putting their own stamp on it, and creating work that is meaningful to them.....

I really need to post some pictures soon.... As soon as I find my card reader.

Anyway, tonight is pumpkin carving at home. And yes, I have seen yeswecarve.com. I LOVE IT! At least one or 2 of my pumpkins will be dedicated to the election. Most of them are really easy to do. I think the hardest part of pumpkin carving is the digging out of all the "guts".

Next week will be interesting! I'm going to really wish I had Wednesday off, because we'll be following the coverage at a bar... Iota, I think? Jolie Holland is playing (I love her) and of course there will be election coverage....and many beverages...

But, I shouldn't complain. All I have to do is make it through, and then it's of to Colorado for an extra long weekend!! I'm so excited. I can't wait to be out there, I hope we have a little bit of time to go on a hike, and make it to the Boradmor. We'll also be in Denver, I'll make a repeat visit to the Denver Art Musem (it's AMESOME) And this time I'm getting the DAM t-shirt (yes, pun intended).

Ok, so maybe this week wasn't so bad. Certainly there is always light at the end of tunnel.

Barack the vote everybody!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

ain't nothin' but a GS baby...

Yes, they've coined a new word for me at work... I am a "GS" - gangtsa-socialist. I have no problem with that either. It's true, I'm respected by many on and off the streets while I seek social justice for ALL.

Damn right, you heard?

It's ridiculous that sometimes at work it feels like it's going ever-so-smoothly, and then BAM- it just disintegrates

Bottom line is that my students' work is getting censored. I'm not even being asked about it, or anything. People are just coming and taking down random pieces of work. WHAT? I don't get it? At least come to me and say," hey I noticed that this piece is gang-related, here's why...".

Not only that, but they're taking books from kids that are non-fiction pieces, written by former gang members or criminals that are sharing their stories so kids like mine can make better choices, or get the courage to get out. IT'S UTTERLY RIDICULOUS.

So, what's a d-home teacher to do? Well, the one thing I will NOT do is stop making my students think. I'm truly impressed by the work that my students churn out (if given the chance to finish). Most pieces are thoughtful, emotional, and just amazing. As I said before, some kids try to put gang symbolism in their work, but if I catch it, I usually give them a chance to change it, and you know what? They usually do without any problem.

Today that same thing happened. I saw a kid using blue- and only blue. I was handling the situation just fine when the detention specialist just flew off the handle about gang-this and gang-that. Normally, the kid would have just added something...that's the kind of kid he is. Is he connected? FOR SURE! But he's also a reasonable 17 year-old, which is extremely rare.

I know I keep going back to the same thing, but how are kids supposed to get past where they are? How are kids supposed to problem solve? I would rather have a calm, individual discussion with the kid first, than just tear right into the kid....ARGH~!

Gangs, totally serious issue, needs to be handled constructively. Not through even more aggression and hostility. They're used to that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ok, it really does exist..and interpretations


My students are doing a project with text. We've looked at a lot of art from all over-- especially at graphic design, and of course people like Jasper Johns, Jenny Holzer, and Islamic art. So they get the idea that they're turning their poetry, word, quote into a piece of art that carries across the theme of their words.
So this kid comes to me and says I want to do something about where I'm from. I'm like ok. He's from Florida-- so I figure his theme will be kind of sunny and fun...because he's like that, and he really misses home.

Yesterday he was working really hard on the lettering. He's doing all kinds of crazy graffiti, and it looks GOOD. But I look at it, and I say to him... "Plant City? You're from Plant City...ummm, I don't think so." He's like, " No Ms. I really am, it's an actual place, I'm not trying to be like that." I say,"Really, there's a Plant City? In Florida?" He goes, "Yea, Miss. And they have a strawberry festival and everything, I can't believe you haven't heard of it, it's true." So I say," Ok, I believe you, I just want to make sure you're not going to get into any trouble. Can you show me."

So here you go.... it may sound drug related...but it does exist:



I'm pretty sure he has a lot of friends in here because they all know he's from Plant City.... but anyway.
I can't wait to hang it up and get all the grief. People jump to all sorts of ideas. I'm thinking about just hanging up a map that shows that this is an actual place.
About a month ago they took down about 4 pieces of art that they said was "gang related" (isn't everything?) without telling me. And when I went upstairs and asked them to show me just what actually was gang related, they didn't show me... They were just trying to censor the kids, mainly because they were putting out some kind of truth that they actually know about.
Makes my face turn a tomato color because I realize that it really is all about censorship.
Today a different student and I were saying that everything seems to get that gang-related-label. He actually was one of the kids who got censored --and FYI he's not even in a gang-- so it really wasn't gang-related, but more of a coincidence that someone else thought his artwork was. WHATEVER. He and I agreed that it's blown way out of proportion, and it's truly a shame when people go out of their way to find a reason to make objects, pictures, and symbols (most that are cultural) "gang related".
ARGH.
I realize that where I work I do need to know and be aware of what kids are doing. But one of the benefits of where I work, is that I actually get to see them everyday. I know who they are, they know what they can do and shouldn't do. Yes, there are kids that do put typical gang stuff in their drawings, and I do warn them that I have to turn that in. And I'm on top of that. I realize that kids are savvy and some things get put straight past me, but most often than not a kid is really trying to make a genuine piece. Free of "gang" paraphernalia. (whatever that is)
Not to mention the ugliest mural that I keep meaning to take a picture of... This summer students of ACPS were asked to complete a mural with an artist (who definitely got paid a lot). It is the ugliest mural ever, and it's already starting to fade.... But the real kicker is that there are blatant gang symbols in there. How did that pass? Even I recognized it.... I'll have to see if I can manage to take a picture and post it. You will probably see what I mean. I won't even tell you what it is... I'll let you figure it out.
Day by day I become more and more savvy. I need to start remembering the things I learn from my students. Maybe I should write them down and turn them into a book. "J" says I should be doing that already.... I just find every excuse not to. LAZY... I know. That's all it is.
Ok, rambling stops.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sooo Cool!


They just found an old manual typewriter in the ducts in the basement. It must have been there for years, and it must have been from the original owners! It's a Smith Corona Skywriter Typewriter. I can't wait to use it. It obviously needs new ribbon, but I found many places that have it. What a cool thing to find hiding in your house.

Sure, it's not a million dollars, or old wedding rings, or a Rolex, but it's a piece of history.

I'm planning on using it in future art works... I think I just found my newest obsession!

YES!

The tides really have turned this weekend, haven't they? And by that I mean.... Colin Powell. YES! I have more and more respect for him the more and more I learn about him, hear him speak, and see his actions. Finally, it took Colin Powell to say it.. in a very eloquent way, he basically said... No, Obama is not Muslim you idiots....and it shouldn't even matter.

Props, he may have even changed my dad's mind... (I really do...)

So I'm really happy about that. REALLY happy. If everyone goes and votes like they say they are, maybe Obama will win by a landslide.

Ahh, elections....this one certainly is exciting.

And BTW-- I picture Palin having some sort of conservative/crazy talk show on tv after the republicans lose... Maybe she could be on the outdoor channel, or have a food network show that revolves around how to make meals out of caribou or moose. I don't know, but I saw her momentary tv time on SNL this weekend, and I just keep thing about how she has no substance. None whatsoever. But it seems like she can read teleprompters very well. And that is key to talk shows.... Move over Sally Jesse Raphael.... time for some new glasses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Road

It's going to be a movie, so you better make yourself read it....if you haven't already.

I just learned of the filming locations, and it seems so very fitting for the bleakness of it all, check it out:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/locations

Bleak, I'm surprised they didn't venture slightly north to Clarion. Although Breezewood is bad, alright.

Don't like yard work today.

So, I hate roots. They are horrible things. There are so many going everywhere in the little garden patch. I can barely pull them out.

This garden thing is going to take a lot more work than I expected, and I'm half wondering if I can get a good amount completed by the time it rains (end of the week, they say). I think it will be fine, but loosening up this really hard ground is so difficult.

Don't even get me started on the grass. That's pretty much going to be impossible too. I bought all the stuff, but we need much more top soil, and then I think we might be able to get started on throwing the seeds around. I just hope they germinate before the first frost....

In the meantime, the contractor and his crew have torn out the walls of our basement, and have really opened it up. We're making the little bathroom downstairs full size, and redoing the staircase in wood, as well as putting in some more lights. It's going to be so much nicer, and user friendly....and ready for visitors in about 2 weeks!! I'm really excited. it's going to be so nice. We're even having shelving and storage be put under the staircase. YEAH for storage!!!

Tomorrow I head down to Richmond for an art/music therapist meeting. Should be interesting, last time I went I was glad to meet some peers. So hopefully I'll get to know them a bit more, and it will be a nice and easy day. Although, I'd rather be teaching right now.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My week has ended

Yes, I decided to take a personal day. I have a total of 8. So I figured I would give myself a little fall break. We do have Monday off, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to take an additional day that tags along with a holiday... but my principal said it was fine.

So today my prep time was filled with preparing for the sub. I think i left everything I was supposed to. Sometimes I don't even get a sub.... oh well. I'll be back on Tuesday, hopefully a little bit more refreshed and relaxed. I'm just way too tense lately.

I wish I could use my birthday gift sooner than later... I got a fabulous gift certificate to a fancy-schmancy spa in old town. Can hardly wait!!! I've never been to one before, never had a massage or a facial, or anything like that. I'm looking forward to a day of pampering... It's still a month away though... -sigh-

Ok- my weekend begins now... (which will eventually be filled with house work, but at least I can sleep in the WHOLE weekend)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

WHY??

Why does my classroom have to be colder than the outside temperature? ARGH! So frustrated. We ask nicely, we ask nicely again, we beg, we complain, we cope, we compensate. Why is it so unreasonable that I can't have my room the same temperature as the rest of the building?

The thing is, I know the answer.... It's not the fault of the technology. It's the fault of the Principal's office....I love my principal. And I love our secretary...but it's all her fault. Here's why....

I have started bring my alarm clock with a thermometer to class. I take it to every room I go in. The education wing is cold. ALWAYS... too cold in almost every season. But especially this year. My room reads 4 degrees cooler than the upstairs part of the building, and the residential units. Fine. No biggie. Here's the kicker. Our secretary is using a space heater in the office, which must share a thermostat with the rest of the education wing..... ergo- cold! So, my answer has always been that maybe she should cut her heater off, and then the air conditioner wouldn't be running throughout the building. AND- we'd all be comfortable.

But this is the third year, and I think I'm going to buy a space heater. It's ridiculous. It's like 74 degrees outside, and about 67 in my classroom. That makes no sense at all.

ARGH! I think 72 (which is the temperature in the rest of the building) is quite nice. We would all be extremely comfortable if that were to be the temperature in our classrooms.

Sorry for the complaint.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

No time

I think I'm kind of realizing that I have absolutely no time to write. The house is for sure keeping me busy. I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. I basically go to work, come home and work. Someday we'll begin to feel settle, I'm sure.

School is going great. Students are working hard on their projects. They completed a symbolic timeline, narratives. And now they'll be doing a huge text project. They'll be using they're own poetry, found poetry, lyrics, whatever is meaningful to them.. and create an "abstract" (hate that term) painting using only text. The point is for them to create a mood that goes a long with the writing, but also to create texture and visual interest with the paint color schemes. MAN-- they sure love to mix paint. They can't believe how many colors can be made with just the primaries (plus black and white). And I can't believe they've never been giving the opportunity to do it. These kids are 15!! (at least)

I don't know what it is, but I'm really enjoying the school year this far (makes me want to knock on some wood). But we have super-small class sizes, and kids that who have been there for a while (which is unfortunate and fortunate at the same time). I really have been able to teach, coach, encourage, support, and explore what they're doing, and why. I need to start keeping track, and write a book.

In the mean time, I'm not really working on my own artwork.... And I need to. I think about it everyday, but the only artwork I'm making are examples for class. And even those are half-finished. I keep saying I need to get in gear as an artist.... and I haven't fully done it. Hopefully, now that I'll be in one place, it will be something that I can accomplish in the near future. I just have to make a plan.

Ok--- that is enough time, I suppose. Sure, i didn't talk about politics, or the economy... But we hear about it all the time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just one place

The merge is almost complete. I am only responsible for one house now. I was able to turn in my keys for the apartment yesterday. So now I only have 2 keys... not one for the laundry room, the mail room, entry key, and front door......... NO.. now I only have my house key and car key. It's a beautiful thing.

To make things EVEN BETTER--- they found someone to rent my apartment for October! I am NO LONGER responsible for it. Thank god, because there was no way I would have been able to pay for a mortgage and rent. But for some strange reason, they said I needed to give 60 days notice. Which is ridiculous, no one can give that much time when they're buying a house. You never know when it's going to happen....

But it's all good now.

I only have to focus on one place. We still have so many boxes lying around. For many reasons really. J just finished moving his stuff in last night, and we really don't have that much storage space. We do have a basement, however, it's going to get re-done in the next 2 months... Still, there is the attic, but alas, no ladder yet. And we need to get the mold sucked out of there too. So we are living in "cardboard box land".

I am getting used to sleeping there though. It's nice to hear the crickets and keep the windows open, especially with the cool/dry nights. (last week not so much). Hopefully in the next month it will look and feel like home, and not just be a house.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm really liking...

- the paint colors in my house
- our new bedroom furniture
- the fancy wine rack
- that everyday we get closer to the direction we're going with the house
- that I can turn in my apartment keys today
- that she can cook now
- the new "TV on the Radio" tracks...although this new stuff is so listener friendly that they'll be HUGE!
- my new dust buster and rug cleaner
- the dishwasher and washer and dryer
- that I'll be able to have trick or treaters!!

There is a lot to like, probably more, but it's so darn early that I can't think of anything else. I'm really tired. Basically I cleaned all weekend. Believe me, it's a good thing. I can't even tell you how much grime I've cleaned off the kitchen, and how much more there still is to do in other rooms. I don't think we realized how bad it was when we walked through. I think we had naive eyes. I tell you one thing---- next time (whenever that is), I want a move in ready home. It doesn't have to be new! But it can't be like how this is.

Ahhhh, the joys of home ownership. We haven't even started on the outside yet.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Long time no post...I wonder why.

Wow, I have no time for anything but work and house. It's fine, it's a good thing. But when you're spending less time taking care of you and more on things... it's kind of a head check. Why do we feel the need to own homes again? And what is really wrong with renting?

No, I'm very happy to have my own home. It looks like a hurricane went through the living room and dining room, and kitchen. But we're getting there. We're finding that it's taking a lot more elbow grease than anticipated. Which, is the good kind of grease, not the bad kind, which seems to be all over the kitchen. Did the previous owners do anything else but fry things? I don't think so. So there's the smell too. And it just will NOT go away. I think we have to replace the main duct, and fan that takes it out of the house. We are getting a new hood, and a new stove. SO I think that will help some.

Another thing is the disaster outside, called our yard (front and back). It's an overgrown mess, and there's some poison ivy I spotted (it's the only thing I can spot that's bad). So we need to deal with that (Gardening tips welcome).

Upstairs is live able, but the bathroom needs some TLC too.

We haven't cooked yet. So we're spending way too much eating out, and I really could go for something I actually cooked myself. I long for it actually.....

One funny thing is--- we got cable. And I was fine without it, but it's really relieving stress for both of us. Last night we just sat and watched an hour of Law and Order--- and I was completely fine with that.

I'll post some pictures soon, we just have a lot to do still-- but we're doing it. And very soon it will feel like our home.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tender loving...cleaning

So we went to the walk-through last night at our very-soon-to-be new place. And it needs some major cleaning. I was debating whether or not to hire someone to clean it, but we wouldn't be able to get anyone in there until Tuesday... So I think we're going to just use our own elbow grease to clean it all up. I'm not quite sure I'm ready to clean up other people's residue, but the sooner I can get that house to feel like my own, I'm all for it.

We're going to have to get a new range. But the fridge is decent, and although the dishwasher has a blue side, it works well, I think. All these things can change over time. Phew. It's a lot though.

We will take pictures tonight, though. Just remember they're going to be the "before" pictures. So no comments that will make me cry.

3 more hours until we're homeowners!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Walk this way...

We get to go see our house for the walk through today. YEA!!! So I will take some before pictures and post them ASAP.

I drove by our little house last night and there were people still in there. Probably moving. So I can't wait until this afternoon. We go at 6 pm. Then tomorrow is the actual exchange of keys. SO EXCITED.

As you might of guessed I am surviving on very little sleep...indeed. I really need to figure out what to do about that. Nothing seems to be working in my favor. How much is it to ask for some decent sleep. Can I go to the bank or something and take out a loan???

I have no idea.

Maybe after this huge undertaking I will be able to calm down a bit and just take it all in. I keep telling myself to do that, but it's not working.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

For your info

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/
News papers, polls, non-partisan for the most part


http://www.dailykos.com/
Definitely a blog worth looking at, very liberal, not necessarily factual, but opinion

http://www.factcheck.org/
All the facts you needed to know....those chain e-mails debunked, and news clears up things about all the p0oliticians

VOTE PEOPLE! VOTE

PA and VA both swing states!!!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Last minute.

Why do things wait until the last minute? Mainly I mean the mortgage company. I realize there are a lot of things they're trying to take care of, just like us. But they sent us a list of extra things on Friday night, after the banks close. How am I supposed to get what you need from my Bank when I didn't even get the e-mail until Saturday, after the banks were close. So cut to Monday and they're calling me at work. Fortunately for me I keep my phone off. Several e-mails were sent too, and I saw those. But I'm a teacher. I don't have any free time to get these things done until after school. In fact my prep is the first period. So at lunch, I had lunch, or I would have never eaten.

Frustrating. So now I'm waiting on 2 documents. A copy of check I have to pick up from the bank, and the DEC page (don't even know what that is) from the Insurance company. They're supposed to fax that, but haven't yet. And I kind of need that now, so I can fax it to the mortgage people, so I can leave to pick up the check, to fax to the mortgage people. Something tells me there will be a few more bumps before J and I actually get into the house. I hope not. But I'm trying to be prepared.

Buying a house turns out to be kind of stressful for me. I think moving will be a breeze, and I'm so ready to just zone out and paint. I really don't mind it at all.

Ok, enough complaining. WE'RE GETTING A HOUSE! And that's a great thing.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Are Americans the only ones that have these ridiclous commercials?

http://sweetsurprise.com/

WHAT? Since when is it ok? Since when?

HFCS has been added to almost every kind of food here in the states. I agree that sugar should be avoided where possible, but almost every processed food that you can find in the grocery store contains it. It's ridiculous.

umm- major cause of diabetes and obesity.

It's only a cheap preservative--- so people that need to watch their dollars when they go to the grocery store are the ones that end up eating this. DO you realize it's in a can of kidney beans? COME ON!

Not only that, but the growth of this product is corn, which isn't that great for the environment.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/06/AR2008030603294.html

Choose your food wisely, and always read the ingredients. Almost always I see salad dressing full of HFCS, especially in the non-fat/low fat category....

Friday, September 05, 2008

Tidbits

We've all been using Google for 10 magical years... Can anyone remember what they used to use before this almighty search engine?? I can't really. I know there was something. But I am clueless about my internet life before Google.

And----

Did you know they have a motto? I didn't either... It's, "Don't be evil."

I love that.

Anyway, Happy 10th birthday Google, you've made research fun.

Other tidbits, did I mention I had a freaky nightmare about zombies coming out of the Potomac River? No? Well I did. It was also mixed in with other dreams. And I felt like I was sleep walking. I don't think I was, but I had a strange sensation that I did.

And why might I have dreamt about such oddities? Well, I confused my sleeping medication for 4 days. I was taking twice the amount of something that I hadn't been taking and didn't want to take. It was an old prescription. When I realized the mistake I made I threw out the container with the left over pills. Unfortunatley, the risidual effects left me with strange behaviors as my body was trying to get rid of it. Fortunately, I think it has finally left my system, but I haven't slept well at all. It's just continuous. I can't seem to get over it. My mom reminded me that I have always had trouble sleeping (even as a child), and that I used to sleep walk and my eyes would be wide open, but they could tell I wasn't "awake". Strange.

I'm sure the recent pause in sleep is because of all the stuff that's going on. Buying a house, moving in with J, thinking about all the possibilities. Which are all good! But it is a lot when you factor in my job, my family stuff, and packing....

Yoga kind of works for the most part. I'm still able to go a couple times a week. Maybe if I go more often after we move it will have more of a positive effect on my physically and mentally. Plus, I'm currently wasting money because I signed up for a monthly pass, and have only been able to go 2-3 times a week. ARGH!

So- McCain. I was so bored listening to his speech that I changed the channel to watch "Sex and the City" on the WB. I didn't think his speech was at all good, and the crowd just kept interrupting him and made it last longer. Oh GOD-- and don't get me started on Cindy McCain-- she failed to mention that she stole money from her own charity, was in a domestic dispute with John, he calls her names, and oh yeah-- was formally addicted to pharmaceuticals... Yeah. But yeah, she got a child an operation for her cleft palette through operation smile and adopted a Bhutanese child... So that MUST make up for it all. ARGH-- How does that even compare to Michelle Obama? And why is it that the republican nominees have like 12 kids (13 if you count the unborn child) between them and the democrats have 4? Do you see what I'm saying?

I finally made it a point to donate to the Move On campaign too. I also get a shirt for doing so, and my money goes to helping register voters. Something I feel better about, rather than to just go buy a random shirt at some store in Old Town. I also want a button. So wherever I can get a free button, by donating, I'm going to do it.

In the meantime, I want to chop off my hair. I can't take it anymore it looks like a nest most days.

Oh and another tidbit, Hurricane Hannah is working it's way up the Eastern seaboard. I think we'll end up getting a lot of rain, but who knows. 5 years ago we had a huge tropical storm and there was no power for a day and no water for even longer. I had to travel 45 minutes away just to get drinkable water. And school was canceled. Hopefully that won't happen this time, but I guess you can never know...so maybe i should go purchase some rations, so I can have drinkable water for the next few days, just in case.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I love rhetoric!

Is it me or does Tina Fey make a great Sarah Palin for SNL?




No, I'm not a republican by any stretch, but I did want to see what she would say at the RNC last night. So I made myself stay up and listen to her nutzo acceptance speech. Indroducing her family... This is "Trac", "Trig", "Willow", "Bristol", and "Piper"... WTF, I thought she was a conservative nut job, not just a nut job.

Here is why "original" names can go too far:


I don't mind Willow, or even Piper. That's fine. But I feel bad for the others. I will admit that if I ever have kids, I have a few "original" names picked out. But nothing that has to do with a sport, witches, or math ( i know it's norse..but Trig. Why not calculus, or algebra, or Cosine). The poor boys. She must hate them.

ANYWAY-- I watched. I think she gave a good speech, but I don't agree with anything she said. Did she really say to drill for more oil in Alaska is God's will? WHAT?? IS SHE NUTS? Yes. yes she is.
So I am giving all the candidates my sort-off-equal-attention. I don't think I've ever taken such a strong interest in any campaign before, I guess I feel like it's really time. I don't know if I'll go so far as to knock on people's doors or call people, but I'm seriously thinking about getting a button or a bumper sticker with Obama on it.
We need a change. We need someone else in their. I don't know what I'll do if McCain is president. I was kind of threatening to shave my head, but I don't think I could do that. I don't really have a pretty skull. There's scars and it's bumpy. And it will also be winter and my head would be cold. And my hair doesn't grow fast.... I know so many excuses. I'll just have to hope for the best. I guess my other choice would be to move out of the country.... again. I'd bring "J" with me. We could rent out our house.... umm......Hopefully I won't need a plan "B".
So anyway, enough of all the words of what will happen, promising this, promising that. I want an end to bureaucracy. Enough stalling. We need real solutions. We need the war to end. Everyone on the republican side seems to think there is a win/loss issue with this war. And that terrorism will win. And that the "Axis of Evil" will cause destruction of all Western culture (would that actually be so bad?).
I'm ready for someone to do something about NCLB. Every child has been left behind during this time. By 2012 (or whatever) all children are supposed to be 100% successful at everything? What? So if you started school in 2000, and graduated in 2012-- apparently all of you should get into college (especially the Ivy Leagues) with no problem because you will have reached the AYP goals!! Right??? And if your school has reached AYP every year--- and wasn't shut down, or unaccredited...well then all of your students should have mastered the entire state curriculum with no problem. Right?
Roooight. As if.
So I recommend this read. Yes, he's a bit psycho too, but it is fun to read, and full of commonsense ideas. Like making high fructose corn syrup illegal, and what else, oh I know-- changing the "pledge of allegiance" to pledge to each other as citizens of the same country (not to a flag), And hey, I like that we should leave out "God". It was originally left out because officials like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin didn't necessarily believe in God, but being spiritual, and studied why people believe in a "higher power" (whatever you want to call it).
He's the good kind of nuts.
Ok, enough of my opinions for today. But I felt I need to share.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's official

We got the house. The seller decided to accommodate and fix some of the things before we move in and give us some money in our pockets to fix the rest. Which is completely fine with me. We'll take care of that before we move in. Thank goodness we have a 3-weekend overlap with our rental places!

We're super excited right now. We've already ordered a couple of pieces of furniture, and picked out the colors we're going to paint the house. We're going with an "analogous" color scheme. In art speak that means the paint will be in the blue/green/yellow family (colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel). We're not going for dark colors, we're keeping it kind of light. Our house is smaller, so no need for deep hues in this one. Although, paint can always change. I also want to have some kind of neutral color in the basement place, and our office/studio space upstairs.

Did I mention we're excited? Only a few more papers to sign before the place is ours on September 12th.

We also had a blast at the beach this weekend. It was great! We met up with my family for a long weekend at Bethany Beach (we've been going there for 20 years!!). The weather couldn't have been better. It was warm, but there was a nice breeze, and at night the temperatures would just drop enough to put on a sweatshirt and eat some yummy ice cream (black raspberry anyone?). We played games, walked on the beach, swam, ate some good food...and... READ!

So speaking of reading. I finally read "The Road". It was a very quick read, I didn't want to put it down. The writing was beautiful, yet simple. The story heart-wrenching, the battle to survive in the unknown, with a splash of hope thrown in. It's basically a story about a man and his son, who must survive in the post-apocalyptic world. They are some of the only survivors left on earth. While they're traveling along the road, they come across a lot of hardship, horror, and bewilderment, but need each other. And love each other. It made me cry.

I plan on reading "No Country for Old Men". I saw the movie, and it was dark, filled with peril, and not happy in the least. But what an amazing writer Cormac McCarthy is....

Oh a much brighter note, I had the chance to play Guitar Hero~!! It's awesome. I loved it. It was hilarious and fun. I want my own. I wanted to take it from my niece, but she said no. Oh well, I'll just have to go get my own.

So there's an update for you, lots of stuff going on. And more to come. When I get in the house again, I'll take pictures...and we'll do the before and after shots!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Success!

The inspection was good! We're almost there. There are some minor issues, one being insulation in the attic, and the other being-- part of the roof over the front porch (they forgot it when they put on the new roof of the house?). So today we're going over with our realtor about costs, and if the owner will possibly take care of some of the minor issues before we move in, or knock some money off so we can get the repairs fixed ourselves. In a way I would rather it be fixed before we move in, but since we have a 2 week overlap with our leases on out own apartments, it would probably be fine.

So now the fun part begins. Painting, re-designing the basement, landscaping, furniture, decorating! Yea~! I'll try and take some pictures so you loyal readers can see the before and after images. Although it might be a long while before anyone sees the after pics. Here we are moving into this place in the next month, and work will be in full swing for both of us. I guess we'll just take it a day at a time. All our stuff will have to be in there no later than my birthday.

With that said, I've already started packing. I've cleared out a large number of book shelves in my own tiny apartment. And I'm kind of cheating with that because I'm bring a lot of books to work (s0 I don't have to move a large number to the house). Now I just need to convince J to start thinking about packing. He has lived in his apartment for over 5 years and just has tons of stuff to go through. He'll do it, but I told him he better get rid of any bodies he has stashed under the bed.... ;-)

There will be a few more steps in the process to this finally buying this house. It really makes you feel like a real adult. I can't believe I'm going to be a homeowner. A homeowner that's going to be in the same place for a long long time. I don't think I thought about this a year ago. In fact, I never thought I'd be able to live in this area for a long period of time. I always thought I would have to move from here.

I guess I better give my apartment manager my notice!! It's time to move on!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bid 2

So I got overly excited about the first house J and I put a bid on. Whoops. I guess you really shouldn't announce things until they really happen. But guess what? You all are on the roller coaster with me now, so why not continue to talk about it.

Last Thursday the inspector came to look at the house. He did a full report and it was ok. There were lots of minor/handyman type stuff to do, like tighten this, cover that. BUT the major problem turned out to be the FOUNDATION! The inspector said that we should have an engineer come out if we really wanted to think about purchasing the place. It was an extra thing to pay for but better to pay a fee than become involved with a money pit. And we really liked the house, so we thought we'd need to follow through.

The engineer came in the morning on Saturday, and we met him over there. He looked at the inside of the house, the inside seemed sound enough. We went down to the basement and that is when everything fell apart. He checked out the multiple cracks we didn't even notice before, and told us that the types of cracks that were in the foundation now could be fixed, but it would be expensive ($10,000), and there would be no telling what would happen with in 3-5 years.

Apparently Alexandria and some parts of Fairfax County are built on areas that have Marine Clay. So what happens is when it rains it absorbs all the moisture, and then cracks when it dries out. This is bad because the house will shift a lot. Not to mention it's kind of on the side of a hill. The yard slants towards the house, and the house is slightly lower on one side. And since half of the foundation is exposed (because there is a walkout basement) there is nothing supporting the structure and the side of the house come apart. NOT GOOD! So we didn't even ask him for the full report. We just paid his fee, and decided it would be best for us to move on. -phew-

That Saturday we were a little unhappy, a little pouty. But our really nice realtor said he would be happy to show us other places in the neighborhood, if we wanted. He actually said he had never seen a foundation that bad. We were initially worried about having him play both sides of the card for the other house. He was actually the seller's agent. But he has been nothing but honest, and now he's actually become our own realtor.

Later Saturday afternoon, he took us around the neighborhood (he also lives there). He showed us five places in our price range, and one above our price range. It really varied, one place was really scary, dirty, needed tons of work. The next place ok, but needed tons of work. The third place, great price, clean, well taken care of, new windows, great wood floors, a finished basement. The fourth place was on a hill side and also needed a lot of attention. 5th place was nicely painted, corner lot, but the kitchen was really strange, lots of wood paneling in the basement (think 70's), and there was carpet that might have been covering up a problem with the floors. The sixth house was the nicest. Beautifully landscaped, kitchen completely redone and expanded, new windows with nice woodwork, lots of paneling-- but nice would paneling. CLEAN. But a little out of our price range (we'd be pushing it).

So after all that, he also took us to some neighbor's places. These guys were really nice to let us see the work they were doing, and it was amazing. They both had these beautiful additions on the back, and sides. Amazing kitchens (the one guys kitchen had granite with actual fossils in it), beautiful light throughout. Just amazing what they did with the duplexes. So that gave us a bunch of ideas.

With all that inspiration, we decided to go with house number 3. All brick, enclosed porch on the front, and room to put on an addition in the back (a couple of years from now, of course). We feel we can really make it our own. The price was perfect, the owner had an extremely low price, so we offered the full price plus helping us with 1/2 the closing costs.

We met our realtor early Sunday morning and signed all the paperwork, and finally heard back today that the seller accepted our offer. The next step is another inspection. It may happen tomorrow or next Monday. I'm hoping for tomorrow, and then we can figure out the appraisal, and then get to settle. Or final closing date is still set for September 12th! And we'll actually be able to move right in after we paint and clean!!! I'm so excited, J is so excited. I hope this goes though.

It really is like a roller coaster. It's up and down, and nights thinking about all the things you can do, and then all the money it may cost. But we're hoping to be in there for a good 7-10 years (especially if we decide to put on an addition).

So wish us luck on house 2. I'm saving boxes, and I'm planning on packing up little things tonight. I'll be ready to move. I'm ready now...well, just mentally.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

WE GOT IT!

The house will be ours, the inspection is today, so if it all goes according to the plan... we'll be moving in on September 12th!!!

WOW! It's all happening very fast, but we're so excited. I think we're going to take a walk-through tomorrow to measure things and see what exactly it is we need to do!! I can't wait to get started on it. It's going to be like a 1200 square foot art project!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Septermber 12?

That could possibly be our closing date! We met with the realtor today and it sounds as if the owner is ready to sell his home (it's been vacant for a while, he's already moved). It's an exciting time, but I feel nervous (as to be expected). The whole process is a lot to handle, especially when we're kind of on our own. J and I decided we didn't really want to use a realtor. So we're in a unique situation with the realtor who is selling the owner's house. He basically will get 2 commissions, which is excellent for him, and may give us a little wiggle room on the sale price. However, we're still doing a lot on our own and relying on the seller's realtor for information he's giving us. Which may or may not work for us in the end, but I'm hoping it does.

Tomorrow he'll give our offer to the owner, and I will be be turning in a huge check that will go into escrow (I finally understand what that means!)..... YIKES! It's happening fast and Saturday will possibly be the big inspection. If all goes according to plan we'll be moving in on September 12th!! HOLY COW!

And when I say moving in, I really mean we'll begin working on the house. I think the first thing we're going to have to take care of are the windows, then the kitchen/painting, and then the floors. It will be quite an undertaking this fall.... not to mention the work we'll have to do on the yard.

The anticipation is fun in a way, a little stressful, but a good stress. There are tons of papers to go through and read, things to initial here and there. Dollar signs, facts and figures.. It's a lot to take in, but I wouldn't want to go through it with anyone else. A lot of our personality traits are shining through right now. Me, the more nervous type, and J the excited type. We balance each other out a bit. I'm staying on the positive side, though. I am imagining that we're getting this place, and I'm thinking about the colors that we're going to be painting on the wall, the new kitchen we're going to have put in, the furniture going in particular places, Lhotse enjoying her little back yard, and growing a late summer garden.

So we'll know...soon...very soon.....

The funny thing is, the realtor's office is right next to the Thai restaurant J and I had our first date, almost a year ago.... -kismet-

Monday, August 04, 2008

Holy Changes Batman!

A lot can happen in a short summer vacation. One week you're looking at pictures on the Internet of real estate, and the next Friday you're getting approved for a loan. And the very next Monday (today) you're putting an actual bid on a piece of property! WOW! Originally I was thinking we were looking at bidding in late fall (like November). But no. We did our homework, looked at several locations -condos/town homes- and came up with a duplex! Circa 1949!

So we're going for it. We put a bid in today, meet with the realtor tomorrow, and hopefully at the end of the week, we'll have either gone in the direction of buying the property, or searching again.

But this duplex. It's a tad small (1200 square feet). But has a lot of character. A nice upper deck that looks over our small--but usable backyard. A nice front door with a porch that's perfect for rocking chairs. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths (kind of...more on that later) a separate dining area, and living room, and a miniature kitchen (and I do mean miniature, we're already looking at appliances on line, and they're the smallest dishwashers and stoves. At least we don't have to worry about cooking a turkey anyway)

It's a busy time, but a good time. I'm really excited and nervous. I hope it goes through though. I'll post pictures soon, if we get it. We meet with the realtor tomorrow to go over terms...and the bid.

And yes... you should go see the new batman movie....although it really is the joker movie. Heath Ledger is wonderful..and I'm not just saying that.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eddie vedder is my hero

Today, after -w- got on the tv to tell us how well the "surge" was working, I decided to blast Eddie Vedder's anti-bush-cheney-war music. It's good, you should listen. Also, it's on the "Into the Wild" soundtrack -- the deluxe version. His songs for the movie are great too. One in particular always makes me teary-eyed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And one more thing.............

Umm................... to all the people standing and waiting for hours and days to get the new Iphone... I have one thing to say to you:

You are wasting your life!

Seriously.

Yoga revolution!

Yep! I joined the yoga revolution. I've been going the last couple of weeks, and I decided to make a commitment to it. I'm one for diving in and sticking to something, so I decided that this might be a good thing for me. There's not dilly-dallying around it. I'm going for it.

I hope that it'll help me learn to slow down my mind. I'm also hoping it will help with a whole bunch of other ailments that have cropped up this year (shoulder injury, back issues, tight muscles, lack of sleep). It's time. I've always done such jarring exercises, and my joints hate me for it now. So it's time to concentrate on building strength, flexibility, breathe slowly, and kind of treat myself.

No, it's not cheap, but it's something I can go to when the school year gets tough. And it will.

So-------------

Namaste and good luck. (haha, any idea where that line comes from?)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Oh summer....

I can't believe how fast it's been going. I just started to feel relaxed. If I were in a normal school I'd have one more month completely off. But I'm not here to complain. I am only wishing. Anyway, one good thing I've done since being off this month, is pick up yoga again. I wish I had been taking it all year long. But that's the good thing about it, you can pick it up at anytime. So I plan on sticking with it from now on. Om.................................................

This weekend J and I will fight the traffic and go down to Charlottesville, via Richmond. Since we leave today, I'm not really looking forward to driving. We won't be able to leave until after 3 or 4 pm.... which is a bad idea. Hopefully we'll decide to eat dinner first and leave afterwards. But who knows. Richmond isn't that far away (1 hour and 1/2 without traffic), but on a summer Friday afternoon, I am almost 100% positive that it will be double.

I'm looking forward to getting away. As much as I love where I live, I like seeing less traffic, being around nature, and seeing more nice faces. People around here are much more harsh, I feel. Not like NYC harsh (obviously), but sometimes people can be extremely rude (except in yoga...hahahahah). I sometimes long for the day that I can move out of this area for a much more low-key kind of place. Like-------------Charlottesville. I love it there. It's beautiful, but there's everything I could want... You could easily go for a hike during the day, and then end it with a gourmet-vegetarian meal at an amazing restaurant. Homes--- affordable. DC, only about 2 1/2 hours away (on a good day). There aren't that many places I would like to live. I can easily think of far off places, but when it comes down to near by areas, or in the country, I draw a blank.

OH the summer. Only about a week and a couple of days more. And I intend to make the most of it. I'm off to yoga in a few, and need to run some errands, but I may just make it too the pool too! Ahhh the summer. Everyone should have one.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Craziness

More than a few things have been going on in the last week.

One being, I decided to try to have a green thumb. I'm actually growing some lovely veggies to enjoy. I've planted basil, rosemary, thyme, lavender, lettuce, jalapenos, and green onions! YUMMY! I can't wait to see these things grow. We've used some of the herbs already, and I can seem green onions beginning to sprout (from seeds-- wow). So it's really rewarding. I know I'm picking some things that are a sure thing (lettuce is like the easiest thing, and most satisfying thing to grow). Maybe next year I'll be up to things like tomatoes, and cucumbers. I just need some more space. Everything I'm currently growing is all in containers on J's porch.... Don't worry he gets to reap the benefits too!

The other thing that was crazy this week, was Wimbledon. Holy Mackerel, I can't believe I watched the Gentleman's final... The WHOLE thing. I was indeed rooting for Federer, and of course Nadal took it. Which is fine, because I saw some historical play. Federer was looking to win his sixth straight win, but that didn't stop him from making history. He and Nadal played the longest championship grand slam match in the history of tennis. Imagine playing for almost 5 hours. Now, I must tell you, there were 2 rain delays. But they played all 5 sets. 3 to a tiebreak. There was a chance for 4 championship points, many many deuces, and I can't even tell you how exciting it was to watch. The match (in play) lasted almost 5 hours. The coverage almost as much as nine hours (don't worry I did leave for the first rain delay).

Phew, that will probably never happen again. One, I just can't watch that much tv, especially when it concerns sporting events, and there will be no more rain delays in Wimbledon because they're going to have a roof!

What else? Just awaiting more fun in the weeks to come. A friend of mine is coming to visit this weekend, the next weekend we head down to C-ville, the next -- Tilly and the Wall! Yippee!

It's going fast, and I just started making a round of paintings. One complete. A drawing --ummm, don't know what to make of it. So now I'm doing another painting... I'd like to make a little series by the end of the summer, but who knows what will happen.

Here's to summer, hope you're enjoying yours!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Internet and Buddhism

I'm not sure what to make of the Internet anymore. It's just growing and growing. It goes into the unknown, and known.

Recently I have just been re-introduced to friends from high school. It's so strange. You hear nothing from these people for years, and years. Then all of a sudden they're right there, almost just around the corner. It's a good, yet scaring thing.

In these times, when you barely know your neighbors, people are reaching out more and more to their past, their forgotten, their memories. The Internet is made up of 4 things . The past (search for people, reconnecting, people finder), the future (ordering goods on-line, match making services, etc..), fantasy (people pretending, chatting, etc..), and the present (news stuff, and maybe even blogs). I don't think it's a bad thing to experience these things, but I do believe the Internet has created a new culture (one that I'm a part of). While it does open up a world of information, it also takes information. In a sense, whatever you put out there, you really are going to get back. The Internet is karmic.

With that being said, it's important to remain in the present. One should be here and now. Although the world wide web offers us a chance to reconnect, live out fantasies, and attach us to a variety of information, we must be where we're at. Live now.

I love the Internet, I love checking my e-mail, and downloading music, but I also know that I don't want to get stuck just being a person that is "electronic". To me it's important to have real relationships with the people around us, know our own community, and build it up. I love not having to order my pizza by phone. But guess what? I still have to tip the driver and get it directly from his hands.

Just a thought. I'm getting out of my apartment for the rest of the day...time to enjoy the natural things on this earth....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Almost done

My grades are done, the week is almost done, we're almost done.

This week has been a little different. I wasn't giving an exam, so I didn't have class. But I still had a world of other things to accomplish. Like:

taking down everything off of the walls
organizing which art work belonged to which kid (no names are a real pain..how hard is it to put your own name on something...totally a different subject all together)
carefully placing all claimed artwork into their personal properties at intake
finding some kind of closure with the kids without holding classes
re-organizing the art supply closet (yes I was happy to get a room this year, but I didn't have anytime to organize it)
cleaning
cleaning
cleaning
completing transfer summaries
and a world of paperwork....

It's ok. It's mostly happy times at the end of the year, even in here. The kids feel like it's the end. They're happy they've made it through something, and "finished" something. It's a sense of something "normal" in their lives. And for us too. Some of these kids will still be here when we return in a month, but there will be a bunch of new kids too. (not really wanting to think about that right now)

What I really like about the end of the year here, is that I get to give kids all their artwork back. Some of them actually forget what they've done, and how far they've grown (if they've been here a while). Some kids don't want to have anything to do with their artwork-- which is normal in this climate too. But, I find that a lot of them want it, but don't want to show their pride. So I have to kind of coax into taking their artwork. After that, they usually have this innocent smile, and their eyes beam with some happiness. I want them to know how proud I am. And how glad I am to have them as a student. It's important for both of us.

So anyway, one more week (I suppose). I'm not sure if I get some days to "work at home". I'm hoping for that.... but I'm not sure.

Right now, I want to make some late summer plans.

I want to make it to the beach
I want to see some friends
I want to feel like I've been on vacation..
I really don't want to make the mistake of not doing anything, and regret not doing anything....

Hummm....... We'll see what happens. I'm low-budget, so who knows where I can go for a minimum price. I'm thinking very local. Very... no flights, no grand car rides (I think I could limit myself to 8 hours), and cheap accommodations.....if that's even possible. Who knows, though, last minute deals can be had!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Breeders!

I never thought I would go see The Breeders! But I did! And they were AWESOME! I loved it. They were fantastic. It was a fun, exciting, loud, rocking, guitar playing, bass drum beating, smash out, good time. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about them, the lead singers have interesting, yet sometimes hard to listen to voices. It takes some getting used to. They have sort of this sharp alto voices that are loud and very throaty. Not my favorite kind of singing, because it can come off in a live show as shouting. But NO! They actually sang. And it was loud, and throaty, and all of that.. But it was good. They totally rocked. They did some new songs, old songs, covered songs. It was fantastic, and had it been a weekend I probably would have danced around at bit more. However, being a school night, and recovering from my illness(es) I thought head bobbing and a touch of hip-shaking was just fine.

I didn't think I would be too impressed with them, but I love it when women totally own the stage, and are a bit aggressive. They were also funny, and joking, and having a good time. There was a bit of audience participation, and one of the sisters even managed to get into the crowd to film the rest of the band! Who does that??? You can really tell they love what they do, and they are talented musicians. I can't believe how their hands just went over the guitar as if it was nothing. It was amazing. I'm so glad I saw them.

I even liked the opening band. Although it took a little while for "The Montana Boys" to grow on me. I don't know what kind of sound they're looking for. Or if they care. They seem to try and do a little bit of everything. At first I thought they were channeling a little bit of "Clap your hands, say yeah" , but then it turned into some kind of typical college band, and then they got all bluesy, and folksy, dancy. It was interesting. Better than most opening bands I see.

So what's next??? I don't know. No shows on the immediate horizon that I'm dying to see. I may try to venture out to listen to "Tilly and the Wall". It's only $13. I can enjoy a night of tap-dancing percussion and dance along right with them.... It would at the very least, be interesting to watch. Plus, they're from Nebraska!

OK- time to go put in some teaching time. Only about a week to go with students.....

For your entertainment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt5MWCwFhCI

and for historical content:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGXdXcpNsv4


Because as you know, there are a few bands that emerged from the Pixies.....including the Breeders.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Enough is enough

I've been sick for way too long. It all started about a week ago. I've missed a lot of work, but I'll be back tomorrow. It's horrible to be sick, especially this past week. We've been having a heat wave in this part of the country (actually all over the eastern seaboard). It's been above a hundred or near 100 degrees in the last week. I've felt clammy, and hot, and overall horrible. Once I got over the flu part of it, it became a hacking cough along with some congestion. Thanks, just what I needed.

I'm starting to feel better, so that's good. But let me just tell you about our lovely health care system. I tried calling my primary doctor, they wouldn't let me come in until next week. So they suggested that I go to urgent care if I felt like I really needed to be seen. They gave me the number. So I called. The receptionist asked me what insurance I had. So I told her. She said that I would need a pre-approval from my primary care doctor before I came in. WHAT? So I asked her," This is urgent care, right?" She said, yes but I would need pre-approval. So I decided that my own diagnosis was the flu and basically said-- forget it.

How could I need a pre-approval from my primary doctor to go to an urgent care place? What is the point of having a point-of-service plan if I need pre-approval? And why did my doctor say I should go there as a suggestion, if I needed pre-approval?

Do you know how long a pre-approval takes? 2 working days. That means I still wouldn't have been able to get in today.

Not only that, I had to get a prescription filled. My insurance no longer covers it...for some strange reason, no one told me. I've been taking this medication since November..... WHAT?? So I had to change to something else.. I don't even know if it's good for me to do that.

So, do we need an overhaul on our American "Health" Insurance plans? YES, by the grace of GOD-- or Obama, we definitely do. It's ridiculous how much I pay for it out of my own paycheck, but then I can't even get treated. I'm not the type of person to even go to the doctor all the time. I go when I need to go.

Needless to say, I was not happy. But, I am going to the doctor next week. I need to talk about my sleep issues, and get those squared away, I'm so tired of not sleeping.....

After all this, I realized it was lucky that I could take all these days off. My principal was very supportive, and luckily I had enough sick leave to cover this last week. I really needed it. I still have a few more weeks of school to go. I hope I make it through, so I can actually enjoy what little time off I have for summer.

Monday, June 02, 2008

UGh

I love having the flu. But at least the haze of Dayquil is working this morning. I'm just in a fog. Which is good, because we just had a staff meeting and found out that we have to go back to work on July 29th. I get just 4 weeks off. I'm too tired to fight back. I'm too sick to get angry. I'm just not happy. It looks like I really do need to go find another job. I can't deal with this. It's not like I get paid any extra. Yes I get paid for the extra time I work. But it's not worth the stress. I never feel relaxed after a weekend. I never feel refreshed. And this weekend I had the flu. ugh.

Friday, May 30, 2008

NOT A SPOILER---

Lost's season finale was last night. And all I gots to say, yo...is... What the Hell?

I can't talk about it on the web. But I have so much info playing through my mind. This season was back to being really good. But come on, do I really have to wait until the show finale in 2 years to see what happens to EVERYONE? It's getting ridiculous.

The main characters still seem to be growing a bit, so that's good. I can't say much for the new characters they add to the show, though. It's a hard show to have new characters on. They should have been on there the whole time, for us to love or hate them. Most of them I just don't care about...

For those of you who don't watch or haven't ever watched, you are missing out on a good show. Really. It's fun to guess what the plot twists will be. SO FAR--- I'm doing pretty well, but sometimes I miss..... Last night I kind of predicted a really important piece that had been left undone last season.... Now I just need to know how and why!! ARGH!! That's the show for you. You may have an answer, but the journey to get that answer is always left hazy.

Anyway, made it through a week from HELL. You'd' think since having a short week, I'd be having fun, enjoying the quickness of it. But no. Yours truly pretty much had a meltdown on Wednesday at school. Not my finest hour. And it will never happen again, but I was so mad, upset, frustrated, and everything else. It wasn't about the kids. Although they made the level of frustration quite high that day. But the staff member. He blatantly interrupted me while I was teaching. He walked right through the center of my class to whisper to me," Do you want me to open the door?" I went off on him. I spewed," WHAT? I don't CARE. DO whatever you want to do! I really couldn't care less how warm it is in here, I just want to do my job.!!!!" I didn't insult him, but I did yell. And that shouldn't have happened.

The history between me in this staff member is difficult. I've always tried to approach him in a calm way, asking him what can we do to communicate without interrupting the class. Because he ALWAYS interrupts me when I'm trying to teach a new lesson. ALWAYS. In mid-sentence no less. So, this is the straw that really broke the camels back. He just doesn't get it at all.

I have my reasons of why he does these things to me. One, I think he is actually clueless. Two, it is drilled into his head that education is second. Three, he is afraid of the kids and as a male he feels he needs to appear powerful and strong in front of the kids. Four, he doesn't have the understanding between unnecessary and necessary. It wasn't an emergency to have a door open. Was it warm? yes. Did the kids care? not really. They were just being jerky kids. They weren't being dangerous. It wasn't a safety issue.

The staff, was really concerned with how he looked. I apologized about my reaction, but continued to tell him that his interruptions have happened before, and that it frustrated me. I get stopped in mid-sentence, for a random thing. I reminded him that I am trained as a teacher, and most good teachers ignore little behaviors, or try to put out fires indirectly with students. I told him I didn't feel like I had any control over that class because he was shouting out at all the kids.

Whatever. I shouldn't have reacted like I did, but it's so frustrating that this guy just doesn't understand, and that he is so 1-dimensional. He's not even fair, and he's passive-aggressive.

Anyway, moving on. It is the weekend, I get to hang out with my BFF today. Haven't seen her in a while. So excited. We'll probably just chill, but that's really all I want. J is chilling with his buddies too. So that's good.

3 more weeks of nonsense---------------ugh.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Still stupid.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/alltherage/2008/05/rachel-ray-gets.html

Ok, this one is a little funnier. Read the comments...... I'm going to wear mine to work tomorrow.

STUPID!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24860437/?GT1=43001

Don't blame me, I didn't write it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back from the Bahamas

Wow, what a beautiful place. I've never seen such clear water in my entire life. It's a good thing we weren't there very long, because I didn't get enough time to adjust or get used to being there. And, I'm thinking that might have been the best thing possible.

We arrived Thursday evening to a very warm evening and a nice breeze. It didn't take long to go through the airport. We got into a cab and got the the hotel as quickly as we could. By the by, they do drive on the left hand side of the road, and yes, the Queen is on the money too. (But they do take dollars freely).

Got checked into the hotel and ran down to the beach immediately to dip our tootsies into the water. SHOCKER-- it really is warm!! Ahh. We walked for a little while and thought to ourselves, "How come we haven't had a drink yet?" We went to our hotel bar and ordered up the finest rum drinks we could get our hands on. J got a Bahama Mama (the national drink, of course) and I got something with a really long name that was fruity, a bit of coconut, and strong... YUM. There was plenty more to come.

The hotel next to us had a casino, so we thought we'd try our luck and check it all out. J played blackjack, and actually got ahead for the evening (Yea!!).
In the morning, I immediately woke up and got us ready to go down to the beach. WOW! What a beach, white sands, the clearest yet blue water I've ever seen. We spent the whole day just relaxing, reading our books, and swimming. I had my goggles, so I managed to see some beautiful fish too. Towards the end of the day, we decided to have a mean game of ping pong, and shot some hoops.

In the evening, drinks, a wonderful dinner at an Asian-fusion restaurant, and a bit of blackjack (although this time, minus a few dollars). We were worn out. Not to mention a little burned.

The next day, repeated. Except we got a chance to see a little more of Nassau. We drove along the main road. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of Nassau, because it closes down at night, but we went to a fantastic Indian restaurant for dinner. I think it's much what you'd expect from an island nation. It's depressed, relies on tourism. Lots of estates being built, some colonial style buildings, and of course, huge resorts. I'm sure you've heard of the massive complex called "Atlantis". It really is gigantic. The resort could be seen from our hotel and it was around the tip of the island. It reminded me of the pyramids.. No joke. What a strange place that was me. I didn't really care to go visit or see it since we were only there for short time. And J had already been.

Unfortunately it was time to go on Sunday. We didn't have much time to spend on the beach, and we had to make our way to the airport. And it's a good thing we did, because we not only had to go through the Bahamian customs, but also US homeland security...before we boarded the plane back to Miami. Needless to say, it was a long line.

But, here are a few pictures. There aren't too many, because, we were on the beach most of the time. But hopefully you can see what it was like.


Me on the beach at night, after the first day. Sorry, these
are a little out of order.



Every night, the hotel has an island band perform.

It was fun to listen to, it was really low-key.

I think mostly because the hotel was half empty.

Beach chairs in the sun.


View from above the day we left...-sniff-

Our first night!! We are definitely happy to be there.

Our last night there, notice change in my skin tone....

It's toned down a little by now.