Saturday, October 31, 2015

Taking the Plunge

This is it. I've got myself geared up for tomorrow. The start of a marathon of sorts, plunking down at least 50,000 words in one month. Yes, I've done it before, but that writing wasn't planned, so I wonder if the same zeal might be induced to overtake me. I don't know. I can't be sure. But in the event it happens, I've got pencils sharpened, computer charged, characters sketched out, and plans to keep the coffee coming. I might even neglect my subbing duties for the month. We'll see.

So please forgive my lack of quality writing on the blog for the month of November, but be sure to check out how I'm doing. I promise to keep you updated, but remember, since Aaron's birthday is on the first, I'll only be giving you progress reports on the 2nd through the 30th. Which should work out fine, since I like to post first thing in the morning.

Happy Writing to those of you also participating in NaNoWriMo!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Why Stories Matter

"NaNoWriMo is really just the concrete version of the idea that it’s okay, it’s great, it’s important to make your creative self a priority; that it’s okay, it’s great, it’s important to believe that you have something to say that people want to hear.

...Because when you start believing in your stories, you start believing in yourself. And to paraphrase the great Mal Reynolds, once we’ve done the impossible, it makes us mighty. Practice believing impossible things. Your story matters. Let it make you mighty."

~Sarah Mackey, Director of Community Engagement at NaNoWriMo. See her video, below.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Your New Addiction?

I received a lovely little email this morning from Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt. The subject of the email was, "Your new latte addiction."

I've never had a latte in my life. In fact, just to be sure what a latte was (other than a coffee drink), I looked it up. Apparently, it is a drink made from espresso and steamed milk. The milk I could get behind, the espresso, not so much. But of course, Orange Leaf is a frozen yogurt franchise. So what they are serving is yogurt, not coffee drinks. However, you know that I've tried to limit the amount of sugar I take in each day. So the chances of me trying this new flavor over at Orange Leaf is slim.

Why am I telling you this? Just because. And because I have only a few days until NaNoWriMo commences and I have characters to sketch, which meant posting something easy today was the first thing on  my list.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tell Me How You Really Feel: 23

Usually these posts tend to run long because you know how I can go on and on about a topic. (I know you love that about me.) Today's post won't run long. In fact, I stole some words from friend (thanks, Ben!) who borrowed them from website, which you can find here.

I don't need to say much about these words. I'm sure many of you are nodding your head right now, remembering the times you've forced a smile on your face when really, you felt like crumbling. I've been there more times than I can count, but I know that very few people realized what I was going through.

So what I want to say is this: KEEP SMILING. No one's life is perfect, and sometimes, the smile you see on someone's face doesn't tell the whole story. But by giving a genuine smile back to that person, or a quick hug, or even just a moment of your time, you're doing something. And doing something is usually better than doing nothing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blood Sugar Monitoring

Over the last several weeks, my twice-a-week runs have dwindled to once-a-week. Now you all know I'm not running much even on those two runs, but with one, I'm only managing 30 minutes a week. And, I'm not walking very much either, because I don't like that form of exercise much. What does this lack of exercise mean to me?

I don't care much about the fact that my leg muscles aren't what they used to be or that my bum is a little flabbier. I don't even care that my shoddy abdominal muscles are even shoddier now. What I do care about is the fact that I think my blood sugar might be suffering.

You see, I'm pretty in tuned with my body and I try so very hard to eat well. Actually, I enjoy fruits and vegetables the most, so eating healthy has really never been a problem. And the sugar, I've mostly cut that out, at least in it's refined form. What I'm finding now, on the days (or weeks) that I'm more sedentary, that even eating pasta or pizza can cause me to become quite tired. And that just shouldn't happen.

I don't normally eat both pizza and pasta at the same time, but one at lunch, the other at dinner, and I'm under the table for dessert. Sleeping.
With my Dad's history of diabetes, I plan on being proactive about this potential problem. I head to the doc next month for a checkup. I'm going to ask her to order a blood draw so I can have a baseline for my blood glucose number. No matter what that number is, I realize that I do have to up my exercise. Walking is better than doing nothing. I'll just need to keep telling myself that.

Monday, October 26, 2015

New Necklace

Over the past year, I've taken to wearing a Tree of Life necklace that once belonged to Talia. It lays nicely on my sternum when I wear V-neck T-shirts, and I like what it symbolizes: the interconnection of all life.

The branches on my tree are a little curlier, but you get my drift. If you want one, go here.
The other day, however, I happened to look up something for class and came across a jewelry design I'm pretty excited about. And for me to be excited about jewelry, it must be something cool. Well, it is. Behold my new fascination.

Jewelry designer, I am not. You can find it here.
Yes, dear friends, that structure is a multipolar neuron! You can see the cell body (complete with nucleus), dendrites, and myelin-sheath covered axon! I love teaching the neuron at school, and when I saw this piece, I became energized. Not only by the thought of keeping a neuron close to my heart, but for what that neuron means to me now--a structure that is currently deteriorating in the brain of my mom.

Sad? Maybe a little. But I think I'll buy something similar to this piece (they have a neuron within a circle instead of a rectangle that I might like better) as a way of remembering what my passion for science as well as my mom mean to me.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Happy Fall

Autumn is my favorite season, as long as the temperatures are still somewhat warm. So far, we've been lucky here in Southern Ohio. The last few weeks have been blissfully temperate, so I'm hoping we don't get slammed with cold anytime soon. However, as the saying goes, if we wait five minutes, the weather will change. (Check back with me this afternoon. I'll probably have something to say about the weather again.)

I don't have a good camera or the time to take pictures of fall around here, and I needed a little inspiration. Thus, a few nice fall pictures to get my day started.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Wanted It

I found this very short story earlier this morning and it made me really think about relationships that have come and gone, and relationships I've read about or know about. And you know that in my opinion, anything that makes me think is worth keeping and sharing.

*For all of you worriers, I'm not thinking that I missed the boat by marrying Tim. I did, in fact, win the jackpot when I decided to hit on him.

Friday, October 23, 2015


I've gone and done it: jumped off the deep end of the pool without thinking about how it might affect me and mine. Actually, all I've done is sign up for NaNoWriMo. Yeah, that's it. Nothing big going on here at all...only that I have plans to write a 50,000 word novel all in the month of November.

What? Yes, I just said that I signed up for NaNoWriMo during one of the busiest months of my year. Have I gone crazy? Is the Pope Catholic?

So here's the deal. While I'm writing my book, I have no plans to actually write on this blog. That doesn't mean I won't post, it simply means that my posts will be very similar to a captain's log of sorts. A log of how I'm faring and the status of my book.

Therefore, each day in the month of November, starting with the 2nd (this way Aaron might get a birthday post...we'll see), I will answer the following questions:
1. How many words I wrote the day before.
2. Did I make the word count goal for the day? (1,667 words)
3. Am I on track to finish 50,000 words by November 30?
I'm signed up, I'm buddies with Bethany House, who will keep me in line for sure, and I'm happy to be writing buddies with any other crazy person out there. You can find me under the author name of cmconsolino and the title of The Chocolate Garden.

Write on!

*For those of you who might recall that this title is already in use (by me), know this: I'm using this month to actually finish a book I've started. I don't know how many words I already have in my draft of The Chocolate Garden (it's not much), but those words do nothing right now except allude to a story. I plan on adding at least 50,000 more and to finish the draft!!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

So Over It

I love this forum sometimes, because I can say what I want when I want to say it. And presumably, you'll all let me.

What is it today? I'll tell you. I am tired of hearing the word gorgeous.

Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous.

Are you tired of it yet, too?

Over the last year or so, I've heard that word used for everything and anything: that gorgeous story, her gorgeous essay, this gorgeous show, his gorgeous recipe, these gorgeous sentences. 

Never is anyone talking about a person, or a piece of art, or an animal--the types of things we, in the past, would have described with the word gorgeous. And while I appreciate non-traditional usage of words, and how language evolves over time, I still have a problem.  EVERYONE IS USING THE WORD!

The thing with gorgeous language is this: it's only gorgeous when it's novel. After it's overused, it's just done.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dear Student IV

Dear Student,

I don't know anything about you other than your name and that your blond hair likely comes out of a bottle. I don't know anything about your friends, either, except that the girl in the far left corner of this room looks like the stereotypical redneck and that your brunette friend in front of you could stand to smile. Perhaps if she smiled, she'd be somewhat attractive. Oh wait...I just saw Ms. Brunette smile and the contortions of her face scared me. So forget that I said anything at all about her physical attractiveness. In fact, from what you've showed me so far, all three of your personalities are so unattractive that your looks just don't matter. 

We've spent 37 minutes together now, a time during which I had to reprimand you several times for talking. As a substitute teacher, I understand that you walk in the classroom and rejoice. Your teacher is out for the day and you can, presumably, do less work. I get that feeling--I really do. Believe it or not, I was once in your shoes. But you need to understand something: as far as subs go, you could do worse. A lot worse. (I'm not patting myself on the back here. I've heard some of the subs that inhabit the classroom. They've been mean, demeaning, and downright ignorant. But that, of course, is for another post.) And for the most part, I do not mind when students are talking. Which means that if you had spoken quietly to Ms. Brunette and Ms. Redneck and had you not disrupted the entire classroom, I likely would not have said anything at all to you about how much talking you were doing.

But you and your cronies have gone below and beyond any low standard I have expected until now. You're calling out across the room, not doing your work, and pulling up pictures of men you hope are single on your phone. (Really. I'm not kidding. I just heard you say, "Is he at least single?" Let me tell you honey, if I see him, I'm going to tell him to steer clear of you.) You've rolled your eyes at me, thrown snide remarks my way, and basically disrespected me to the point that I want to spit at you. Or throttle you. (Again, I'm not kidding.)

Of course, I can't spit at you or touch you or even tell you what I'd really like to tell you (yes, it's that bad) because I will get in trouble. So instead, I try as hard as I can to let you know what you should be doing. I even go so far as to ask if you'd be behaving this way if your regular teacher were here. "Yeah, we talk when she's here," you say. And I have to wonder if she really lets you get away with this behavior. Because if she does allow this crap, then I have no chance in hell of making the next 13 minutes go any better.

And since I can do nothing to you besides write a note to the teacher indicating you were disruptive, I'm going to say this now so I can at least get these negative feelings off my chest. You might sit there, snapping your gum and rolling your eyes at me, talking about people you saw at lunch and calling them fat, but someday--I don't know when or where or how--you will not be the cool chick in the corner. You won't be the bully. You will be the person who is being bullied or stepped on, or crushed. Or maybe you'll be brought to your knees in other ways, when you least expect it. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm not wishing harm to you, because I would never do that to anyone, least of all, someone I've known now for 38 minutes. I'm just wishing life to you. The ups and downs, the good and the bad, the positives and the negatives. Most of all, my hope for you is that someday, someone treats you the way you treat other people. And I know they will. How do I know this? Because I've lived a hell of a lot longer than you. I've seen what life doles out. And I know that Karma's gonna get you, and as they say, she's a bitch. (There's another quote about Karma that I like: "I hope Karma slaps you in the face before I do." Yeah, that made me smile. Or how about this: "Karma has no deadline.")

Oh look, our time is almost up. I'm sure you'll be thrilled to walk out my door. I want to say one other thing to you before you go. I could live the rest of my life without seeing you again. EVER. And that is saying a lot. Which means the next time your teacher asks me to sub, I might just say no. Ten dollars an hour to babysit a bitch like you isn't nearly enough.


Your substitute teacher

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kitty Cuteness, XIII

Dear Readers:

I was so rudely reminded that I haven't posted any true kitty cuteness pictures in a while. That's because, my dear friends, the cats are larger, and no longer cute. I'll say it like it is.

Actually, I'm kidding. The reason I'm not posting more cute pictures of my feline friends is that with my schedule, I'm not home. So, I'm not taking pictures. However, our furry creatures helped us out recently with a few candid photos.

I know, Shadow is not a kitty. But he has to deal with four kitties. He deserves a medal.

Don't you wonder about the spine?

Over sixteen years old and still looking pretty handsome.

They don't quite fit as well here as they used to...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cause of Death

I love when Melina tells stories. She includes details about the setting, many of which a true writer would be proud. She sets up the scene, makes sure the listener is engaged in listening, and then, with that flourish of her hands that can only belong to Melina, begins to tell the story. The only problem is, she doesn't always get the story right.

Like the other day, when she closed the story with, "And then she died of natural resources."

I guess I know she's at least paying attention and learning something at school.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Happy Saturday to You

Sometimes I walk along and a writing prompt just slaps me in the face.

If you're not exactly sure what the words say, I'll tell you: FunTime Inflation Station. Yeah, I had some fun with that one. Perhaps you will, too.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Family Fun

Melina arrived about six and a half years after the girls. That number can sometimes cause a problem. What 13-year-old girl wants to hang out with her 7-year-old sister all the time? Not the two 13-year-old girls we have in our house. However, other times exist where the three of them have fun.

The audio on this video is pretty awful, but the kids don't say much anyway. And yes, Melina is dressed in a pair of my pants. And only those pants.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Picture this:

I'm sitting around a table in the workroom of the high school yesterday morning, with four (count them) high school teachers. Because the morning is filled with testing for the kids, I'm simply filling in where needed. The other teachers are not subs--they are full-time employees who happen to not have a roomful of kids at the moment. Hence, they, too, are filling in where needed. Most of that filling in is spent distributing/collecting test material and picking up attendance forms.

In this moment, it is clear that the five of us (Lady #1, Lady #2, Man #1, Man #2, and me) are not imminently needed. Since the other people are full-time employees, they're sitting in front of a computer, connected to the internet. Based on my lowly sub status, I'm reading a book, after having worked on writing up a critique for a fellow Plot Sister.

All of a sudden, a call comes through the walkie-talkie. The woman in charge (Lady #1) picks up the walkie-talkie, says "copy" and listens to the man on the other end. To be honest, I can't remember what the man said, but he used a rather large word in the course of his comment. That word? Diaspora.

The moment the woman takes the call and hears that word, her eyebrows furrow. She finishes listening and clicks off the walkie talkie.
Lady #1: What's a diaspora?
Lady #2: I have no idea.
Man #1: No clue.
Man #2: Sorry, don't know.
And they all go back to what they were doing before the call of the walkie-talkie.

But what about me? I'm still sitting at the table, reading and smiling at this bunch of so-called educators. I can excuse the fact that they didn't know the meaning of the word--my vocabulary these days can also stand to be improved--but I can't excuse that not one of them even bothered to Google it. Each of these people had an opportunity to improve their vocabulary and not one of them took it.

I'd like to think that I'm not judging these four foks, but I am. I so am. These are the people who live in our society. These are the people who walk the halls of the schools. These are the people who TEACH OUR CHILDREN.

I'd also like to think that if a child had been present, at least one of them would have thought to look the word up. And yet, I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Unreliable Narrator

In writing, there's something called the unreliable narrator. What is this you ask? According to Now Novel, the unreliable narrator "is a character who tells the reader a story that the reader cannot take at face value. This may be because the point of view character is insane, lying, deluded or for any number of other reasons."

I'm sure you've all read at least one book with this type of narrator. A couple of summers ago, the book Gone Girl was a hit. That novel is a great example of a story with an unreliable narrator. (If you're not sure why, you should go read it. As much as I detested the characters, and felt the book was over-hyped, for those of you who like a thriller, you might be pleased. So I won't spoil any more of the story.) A more classic example of an unreliable narrator would be the teenager Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. (For the record, I didn't like that book that much, either. I remember my dad repeating over and over to me, "It's satire! What didn't you like about it? It's satire." But again, I loathed the character. It's hard for me to find love for a book in which I just don't like the characters. However, I do have plans to reread the novel because I think now, I'd probably appreciate what good ole J.D. was trying to do.)

It took me long enough to realize that these unreliable narrators...well...I don't like them much. If your narrator is a child, unreliability goes hand in hand and seems natural. But if the narrator is older, I expect to be told a story that is more or less true. That's not to say that I don't like a twist or two in the plot line, but the narrators who flat out lie to, I'm not a fan. The narrators who, due to illness can't recall the story in the proper way? That's the sort of unreliable narrator I'm more drawn to because their unreliability in unintentional.

I've been thinking a lot about unreliable narrators not so much for my writing, but in my real life. We encounter people who might fit that description every day. We all know that when a first grader tells us a story of what happened at school, she might very well be an unreliable narrator. Or how about the 87-year-old woman down the street? She might also be an unreliable narrator. As might the jaded teenager you know from church or the ex-husband of a friend of yours. All examples of people who might tell a story we can't take "at face value."

I know that we all see things differently. The details of a situation that I grab are going to be different from the ones that you focus on. Two people can see one event and describe it in two different ways. I know this happens. But I strive to be reliable in my story-telling, whether in a book or in life, and I'm finding lately that I don't have much patience for people who aren't like that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crazy Hair Lady

As many of you know, I've done it again: made a change to the color of my hair. This time, it's black. As in all over black. With my pasty skin and pale lips, I probably look like a walking cadaver, but with a little red lipstick, I feel more like Snow White.

Overall, the response has been positive. I've had a few people exclaim, "Oh my gosh! I LOVE IT!" and a few more give two thumbs up. The twins like the black hair--and want black hair of their own--and another friend told me to milk the color for all it's worth: "Become the emo/goth girl you never were," she said.

The issue I find the most interesting with respect to my own response is that I'm simply not used to all-over color. Even before I began putting a red stripe in my hair, my head could be called chameleon hair. I had the sort of hair that lightened in the sun, hair rife with natural highlights, even in the winter. Had someone asked me what color my hair was, I always said brown. But that didn't quite cover it. And now? Now there's nary a highlight to be seen, unless you count a few of the dark brown strands the girls missed when placing the dye onto my head.

How to fix that? Tim suggested putting a couple of pink streaks in and amongst the black. As cool as I think that would look, it would be tough to do. But this black is only supposed to last about 28 washes. So in a month's time, maybe I will put the pink in, and truly become the crazy hair lady some people think that I am.

Monday, October 12, 2015

History Lesson

"History of tampons?" Zoe's face screwed up as she looked at me with the question in her eyes. She'd just read the last words I'd typed into my search box.

"It's for a blog post," I said.

She didn't say so, but the look on Zoe's face at that point indicated that somehow, she wasn't surprised that I'd looked up the subject, nor that I had plans to blog about it.

My only reasoning in even wanting to blog about this particular subject is that I think I should thank the person who first invented these little plugs. As much as I find my period a necessary evil, I am so thankful that I have some option other than the sanitary pad.

As an aside, my mom never really mentioned a tampon as an option. I'm not sure if she was just embarrassed by the whole bloody parts deal, or if she really didn't want her teenager wearing a tampon for fear of toxic shock syndrome. It wasn't until college that I was able to live that one week a month in relative comfort: bloody pads are never any fun. Trust me.

As usual, I digress. What happened after I typed in "history of tampons"? Well lo and behold, The Atlantic published an article in June of this year on that very topic. I sat, mesmerized, and read what the author had to say about the evolution of the plug with which I'm so familiar.

Picture from

And because there is no need to invent the wheel, I'll ask you to go there if you're still interested in reading about how old the tampon is (tampon historians think the concept of the device goes back to Ancient Rome), how many tampons a woman might use in her lifetime (16,000!), or when the tampon became commercially available, as opposed to a device used strictly in the hospital (1933). The article is quite fascinating, actually. The best details I'll leave for you to unearth.

And I'll get back to simply saying thank you. Yes, the tampon has it's flaws, but for the most part, it does the job.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Receipt Paper and Spinach

Those two items are what I need from the store today, but I know that if I don't write them down, I'll likely forget them. With four kids, a husband, two jobs, and several hobbies, if I don't make a list of what I need to do or what to get, it won't get done or bought.

I never used to be this way. In college, I rarely used my calendar. I could remember due dates of all the projects and assignments I had, plus what time I needed to be at work. I could throw in a social engagement or two and still be fine. My memory was so sharp.

I wonder sometimes if my inability to remember everything is simply a consequence of a full plate or if, like my mother, I'm on my way to dementia. I have no way of knowing, and no plans to fixate on the possibility that I might become like her. Worrying never did anyone any good.

In the meantime, I'll continue with the lists and hope that I don't lose them!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Promises, Promises

Every once in a while, I like to shake things up. That includes shaking up this blog. How will I do it? Different background? Better writing? I'm not sure yet.

I'd like to think that in whatever way I shake this blog up, it's going to be awesome. However, I can't promise a darn thing. Just thought I'd warn you.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tall Task

Wednesday night arrived and so did my turn for having my work critiqued. I'd put this night off since June--it was originally scheduled on a night when I needed to be in Michigan. But there it was, staring me in the face. I went back and reread my material, wondering how I thought about it. Was it any good? Could I identify where it needed work? And did I care?

That last question worried me. I vacillate between feeling gung-ho and indifferent about writing. Probably because I'm finding so little time to write these days. And if I have so little time, how am I supposed to practice the craft?

What I found out Wednesday night is this: the chapter I had revised the most--the one I wrote, rewrote, tinkered with and teased because I was reading it a Sinclair's National Day on Writing last year--is the chapter my group LOVED. And we all know what that means--with revision, my writing probably isn't all that bad.

So, the challenge is on. To find the time to tweak and massage each chapter, one by one or however it works--depending on the day, probably--until each one is worthy of my writing group's love. It's a tall task, but I'm willing to try. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Just My Thoughts

Slight warning here: Not too bad, but not for the littlest readers in the bunch.

Don't ask me how I got there, but I found myself on a Goodreads page for Unraveled, by Lorelei James. No, I haven't read the book, but if I did, I hope you wouldn't judge me. It can't be any worse than Fifty Shades. Or maybe it can, but I'm not going to find out. I've made myself a promise to concentrate more on better literature these days. But I digress...

Once at the page, I scrolled down to read the synopsis of the book (old habits die hard and all). And then, I read the first of the Popular Answered Questions. It said (I did not correct the writer's grammar):
I have a question, is there a strapon scene in any part of the book?, is just a hard limit for me, and would love to be warned, in case, thanx.
If you don't know what she means by strap on, go look it up. I'm not going to be the one who defiles your mind. (Fun fact: Even though I know what a strap on is, and please don't ask why, I went ahead and put into my Google search box strap on, and the first few things that popped up are strap on roller skates, strap on roof rack, strap on luggage. I'll tell you that none of those describe the strap on you might be looking for.)  I'm also not going to define hard limit, but I think you probably can get the gist of both of those words.

But I found myself laughing at this question, for three reasons. 1. From the synopsis, it's clear to me that the book is a contemporary erotic novel. So sex and such will be featured. A lot. 2. Based on the popularity of such books as our not-so-favorite Fifty Shades, it's likely some sex toy or accoutrement is included in the scenes. The woman, from her comment, is okay with everything except a strap on? So, only strap ons cause this woman to go, ewww? Just in reading, or in real life? (Real life would be just too much information, I think.) 3. Isn't part of the beauty of a book it's structure? If you get to a part you don't really want to read, can't you just skim the words and move on?

Just my thoughts. It is a Wednesday--although not a true Tell Me How You Feel Wednesday--after all.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kitty Cuteness, XII

I know a lot of people who LOVE cats. I am not one of them. Yes, we own four cats. I LOVE those cats. But I do not LOVE the cats of other people. I can easily ignore other people's cats because they are not mine. (I think I feel like that about kids, too. I'm not sure, so let me think about that.)

Anyway, these cats--whether they are mine or yours or your neighbor's--are really cute while they're little. And then, they grow up. And wake you up at 4:13 a.m. every morning, or piss on your clean laundry. Or, play soccer with the piece of Kix until it gets stuck under the dog's water bowl and instead of letting it go--oh no, he can't let it go--decides that it's a good time to try to get under the dog's water bowl, emptying the bowl on the wood floor. Oh. Your cat doesn't do that? Benedict and Arnold--those traitors (Ha!)--do that. ALL. THE. TIME.

Hell cats, I tell you. Sometimes it's hard to love these cute kitties, but I do.

So today, for the fun of it, I felt like seeing what other cute kitties are out there that might be a little hard to love. And, as you can probably guess, I should have labeled this post something other than Kitty Cuteness.

Found at

Came from

The Daily Mail once asked if this is the world's scariest cat.

Don't know who owns this image. It's not me. But I wouldn't want to wake up to this.

A little manipulation from someone over at produced this.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Half-way and the Almost

My mother loved Ayn Rand. I can't say for sure if she still does, considering her memory is leaving her. Does she remember how much she talked about that author? Her books? Can she remember the details of the books and her philosophy? What does she remember, if any of them? Or would she pass over her Ayn Rand books without a second thought? I don't know.

I do know that for all the reverence my mother gave to that author and her works, a piece of irony exists. For I stumbled across this quote the other day:

What would happen if Mom read that quote now? If she did, would she, even for a minute, admit that it applied to her? It didn't take me but a millisecond to understand that those words describe Mom to a T. My mother has always lived at that stage: the half-way, the almost, the just-about, the in-between. Before her memory began to deteriorate, did she recognize that fact? Her house was always almost painted. Her filing just-about done. Was she half-way to getting her degree when she quit? Could be. Oddly enough, she's lived a life that would have been deemed unacceptable by the one person she really respected.

Please don't think that I'm casting judgment. I have my own sins and inadequacies to bear, some that I recognize, probably far more that I don't. However, I'd like to think that I also possess the fortitude to change, to live large, to be bold, to be who I am, to try live life in a different place than that described in the photo above.

And my mom, sadly, never found the strength to do so. Her inability--where it comes from, why it persists--is her story, not mine. And with a diagnosis like Alzheimer's, that story will forever be lost, somewhere in a mix of the just-about, the in-between, the half-way, and the almost.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Writing Rules

I've seen the following poster before, but now, I'm deciding to share it. I can't take credit for it. And I can't read the bottom of the poster to see who printed it. Just make sure to keep these in mind...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cows, Shirts, and Dresses

Overheard at our house last weekend:
Aaron: Hey. I opened up my present from Aunt Tara. [He holds up something toward Melina, then lays it on the floor.] Look at my sleeping bag. It's really silky.
Melina: Oh yay! [Melina dives onto the sleeping bag.] It's silky, but not jersey silky.
Aaron: . . . [Look of confusion on his face.]
Melina: My dresses, Aaron. The jersey fabric. They are much silkier than this sleeping bag.
Aaron: It's still silky.
I'm not convinced Aaron had a clue what Melina was talking about. I just know that I thought the word jersey referred to a sports shirt up until I was about 37 years old. Then, I move to Ohio and find out that cows and dresses can also hold onto that descriptor. So you can see where he comes from, but Melina? We're still not sure where she came from.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Boy

The boy is either not trying very hard, or he's just plain stupid, but because we're only five weeks into the semester, I'm not sure which scenario describes him. He walks into class with a smirk on his pretty face and a twinkle in his eye. He seems to be listening, but every once in a while, he leans over to the girl next to him. I've seen them around campus, together, so I can only suppose they're dating. But again, I can't be sure.

Today he takes his lab exam. He stands before the first question, set out on the lab bench, with a scowl on his face. I look up and wonder if he will be able to answer it. The question isn't difficult. In fact, the first few questions concern the microscope--the easiest subject on the lab exam. And if he is having trouble figuring out what happens when you change an objective lens from 10X to 40X, then he'll have a heck of a time figuring out the number of peptide bonds in the molecule over at number eight.

What happens when you switch from 10X to 40X?*

How many peptide bonds are in this organic molecule?**

I'm not trying to be crass or rude, considering I just might have called him stupid. I'm just perplexed. He attends lab each week and lecture every day it is scheduled. I give him all the information to work with. I clue him in to what he needs to know--without teaching to the test. (I compose my own lecture exams, but not the lab exams.) I encourage questions and hold review sessions. And still, this kid is not doing well. So the only things I know about this boy at this point in time are twofold. 1. The information I'm telling this boy is not settling into his brain. 2. He wears Lucky Brand underwear. (While taking the lab exam, he was leaning on the bench in front of my desk. I looked up and all I saw was Lucky Brand in script. Not my fault.)

Navy. He wore these in navy. (I really wish I didn't know this about him.)
So what's the problem? Is he not trying hard enough? Does he even bother to study? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

Therefore, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and hope that at some point, this boy and his underwear (and his pants--we need have those) saunter over to me and say, "Hey, I need some help." And at that point, I'll help him, because it's my job.

However, should he pass this class and eventually become a nurse, I will be very wary of him.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Guest Password

On Monday of this week, I subbed at the high school. Based on past experiences, when I had nothing to do but read a book or twiddle my thumbs, I thought I'd bring my laptop with me. Maybe I could work on some novel revisions, write up a blog post, or make up an exam for my own classes. But when I got to the classroom, I realized that the school's wi-fi needed a password and some of the things I wanted to do required the internet.

I walked to the unit office to ask about a password. I didn't really think they'd give it to me, but I thought maybe they'd have a guest password for me to use.

"Head to the Century 21 classroom down the hall," the secretary told me. "You can ask about it there."

So I did.

The moment I walked into that room, I knew I'd met my adversary. A tall blond woman with thin pursed lips looked at me. She looked familiar, but I couldn't remember where I'd seen her. As it turns out, she reminds me of a blond, unsmiling Park Overall.

Found this image here. (The lady I met wasn't nearly as funny as Park Overall is.)
"Hi," I said, forgetting to introduce myself. However, I had a guest teacher tag on, so I was easily identified as a guest in the building. "I brought my lap top today and wondered if I could get access to the wi-fi. Sometimes, I have time on my hands, and I thought I'd try to be productive."

Without a single moment of hesitation, Park Overall II said, "We don't do that here." 

I wasn't sure what to say. I guess I'd expected something more informative than the five words she uttered."Uh, okay..."

"And who are you?" she asked. As I said, I'd forgotten to tell her, but the large blue tag hanging against my chest told her exactly who I was. Maybe she was too lazy to look down.

"I'm subbing today..."

Her eyebrows furrowed. "The teacher didn't leave a password for the computer?"


"Well, we don't give out the password."

I knew then, by the way she held herself, that she was done talking to me. And actually, I had no desire to be in that room anymore. So I said, "Okay, thanks." Thanking her like she'd done anything for me. As if.

I realized once I'd gotten back to the classroom that I'd forgotten to ask about a guest network. I hunted for one and found nothing. So I went about my business, taught a few things about coordinates and points, and when I returned home that night, I contacted a technology coach for the schools, asking about the possibility of a guest network at the school.

"No guest network," he said. "But let me check into this for you." Later that same day, he wrote, "They did indeed turn off the guest wi-fi and you simply need to take your device to a tech leader in the school and they will log you into the staff wi-fi. They will not give you the password, but they will log your device in and then your computer will remember it for future times."

Hot diggity! I marched into the school yesterday with a spring in my step. Perhaps, in between vocabulary and theater, I'd be able to do a little research for a book, or access the images I wanted to load for my class. With a smile on my face, I asked the front office secretary who the technology leader was. 


Yep, the secretary informed me that one of them was the lady, Park Overall II. I should have known not to go back to her. My first instinct was to run, but I didn't. Instead, I strapped my laptop onto my shoulder and headed down the hall.

As I poked my head into her room, her face spoke before she did. It said, "Crap, she's back." 

I told her about the emails between the technology coach and me the day before and that since there was no guest network, he'd found out that I could give them my device and they could log me in. While I was talking, her face never changed expressions: Park Overall II continued to scowl.

"Well that man you spoke with isn't my boss."

I wanted to ask her who peed in her Cheerios, but I didn't. "Okay. Well, then...could I speak with your boss?"

"No, that's inappropriate to go above me." 

Of course, that wasn't my intention--to go above her. I simply wanted to get an answer and I knew I wasn't going to get one from her. She was right...she should be the one to speak to her boss, not me. But she could have offered that solution two days before. Furthermore, she didn't have to be so rude. 


She continued. "I can talk to him. But we don't give out passwords. We don't load passwords. That's not our policy. What's your name?"

She didn't write my name down. I'm betting she forgot it, or, she went back to her office and labeled her favorite voodoo doll with my moniker. All I know is that I won't be hearing from her. I'm sure of it.

In the end, I managed to find plenty of things to do. The teacher had left a vocabulary exercise for part of one class, and for the classes where I simply had to watch the kids write, I revised some paragraphs of one of my books. But later in the day, when I was in the middle of cleaning things up in the empty room, the teacher I subbed for stopped in.

"I'm sorry she was so rude," he said. "I had to leave, that conversation made me so uncomfortable."

I was glad to know that I wasn't crazy, and that I hadn't misinterpreted her rudeness. I'm seriously thinking about going in on Friday, when I'm back there subbing again, and peeking into her classroom, just to bother her. It would serve her right you know.

**In all seriousness, the school needs to make sure they have a policy for usage of wi-fi by subs and by guests. What happens when they invite teachers from other schools for a conference? How do those teachers login to the system? And I have to wonder what she thought I was going to do with access to their system. Come over after hours and help myself?