Friday, December 31, 2004

For Auld Lang Syne....

Been perusing blogs and it seems that a last blog of the year is semi mandatory in blogland. Me, I have nothing profound to say at all. Personally it was a very good year, what with being Teacher of the Year, going to Europe, my Amazon book business falling into place and starting this blog. My girls are actual seniors in college and will graduate on schedule and my beloved has a job she adores. And a new car and a new motorcycle. We celebrated our 8th anniversary, so we made it past the 7 year itch without a scratch. Plus we have a new kitten and the neighborhood is changing (for the better) before our very eyes. Our anonying neighbors who were given to drunken sing alongs of "The Hokey Poeky" at 2am moved and were replaced by a quiet dog lover.

I don't think the rest of the world would agree with me. Florida had not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 Hurricanes, one after another. The country had an election, the results of which did not make me happy. The president upgraded his war in Iraq. I call it "his" war because I sure don't know many people who are willing to claim it as "theirs". On the home front he decided he had a mandate from God and declared war on gays and lesbians. And again "his" God is not the one many people I know claim to have made an acquaintance with. The year started with an earthquake in Iraq and ended with an earthquake and Tusami in SE Asia. The latter is apparently one of the biggest disasters the world has ever seen, with a death toll that is beyond comprehension.

My 2 week break is about over - Monday it's back to shrilling alarm clocks at 5am and kids, kids and more kids.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

36,000+ Mugs & 38,000+ Candles

Mugs and Candles, Candles and Mugs - the ubiquitous gifts of the new millennium. Stationary, Thank you Cards and Note paper used to be the "token gift" of choice, but since nobody writes letters (and precious few write thank you notes) any longer replacements were in order. And they multiply - store 2 mugs in a dark cabinet and hey, presto there are 30 of them. 2 candles can easily morph into 40 in the blink of an eye.

Heeding the advice FlyLady I did a 27 fling boogie of our cabinets and discarded mugs with abandon. Yet the cabinets are still full. They overflow the thrift shops. A search for "mugs" on E-Bay yielded over 36,000 hits. Where do they come from? Why do people still continue to buy them, give them and keep them. Just how much coffee can one drink in a day anyway?

And then there are the candles. Yankee Candles , PartyLite candles, Hallmark Candles. Type in "candles" on E-bay and you'll find yourself with some 38,000+ listings to peruse. People actually collect them. There are "retired" candles, never burnt candles, rare candles, common candles, big candles, little candles, pretty candles and tacky candles. People don't burn their candles, there seems to be some "unwritten rule" against this. Must be related to the rule about never removing tags from pillows and mattresses.

And sometimes you get really lucky and receive a basket containing both candles and mugs. And if you are really lucky the mugs will be filled with cheap, flavored "gourmet" coffee or "herb" teas that taste of chemicals.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A Bit of Thrifting.......

My E-bay buddy and I went on yet another thrift store marathon. Ended up on Telephone Road in the SE part of town which is seedy to say the least. Gentrification has stalled in the slow lane. But there was a most excellent Goodwill with many, many books - and all nicely arranged. Not nicely priced. The Goodwill has delusions of grandeur these days. $3.99 for a mass market paperback. I think not.

Visited 2 shops that resell the items salvaged from foreclosed storage lockers. Oh, the flotsom and jetson of some folks lives. Much furniture, which was to be expected. Hundreds of videos. People who rent storage units prefer mindless comedies or high speed action chase films. They do not care for classic MGM films or BBC dramas. Needless to say, I didn't find anything that suited my fancy! The saddest sights were the piles of children's toys. It must be odd to have entire chunks of your life sold to the highest bidder because you fell behind on the payments.

We spent much time in Value Village since we had a 50% off coupon. Books were slim pickings but did find some clothes and some assorted odds and ends for school including an art box that is going to have new life as a treasure box. There were way to many undisciplined kids running wild making shopping difficult and dangerous. Can't for the life of me phantom why parents allow their kids to play with the toys and ride the assorted trikes and bikes in the aisles.
Actually, it isn't so much that the parents are "allowing" it, it's more that they are totally ignoring the kids who then run wild and play tag in, under and between the racks of clothing.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Day After........

The day after Christmas is always a bit odd. When I was a child it had a "is this all there is" feel to it - all that build up and emotion and then poof, it was over and done with. All that was left was a pile of gifts that looked so much smaller than heaps and piles of presents that were under the tree on December 24th.

One plus of a low key Christmas is that there isn't any "morning after" feelings. A very nice benefit indeed.

Shuffled off to the grocery store where the Christmas goods were already reduced. Where do all the unsold Christmas goods go anyway? Even as late as the 24th the stores are still stocked to the gills with ornaments, wrapping paper and impulse gifts and then it's all gone by New Years.
Christmas trims always look so out of place on the 26th...wallflowers at party, girls ignored by the stag line.

The TV commercials are attempting to prolong the holiday season - I would say ever other commercial featured a tree, lights or holiday music. I guess with all it costs to make commercials they want to squeeze the last drop of profits out of them.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


After a day of to much rich food and to little activity I can't get motivated to do much of anything productive. So I'm surfing blogs, reading Christmas posts in hopes of inspiring my muse. My muse I fear is hibernating. Or has indigestion. To many sweets, way to much football on TV, and bone chilling, damp cold weather.

Blog reading is always intriguing. Some are so well done, giving one a window into someone's world, and others are so amazingly bad you wonder how the writer had the intelligence to turn on the computer in the first place. Granted, spelling is not my forte I do try to compose complete sentences and keep an eye on my verb tenses. Stumbled across a site - BlogExplosion, and I've been discovering way more new ones than I can keep up with! The author of Pure Serendipity maybe very young, but she can write! Chick Lit with a brain. A fellow Betsy Tacy fan has one that I enjoy since we're both Librarians.

Having not mastered HTML I'm in awe at the graphics and bells and whistles one encounters.

Reading a blog is akin to sneaking a peek at a diary, reading a Christmas letter of some one you don't know, or finding the person who used the computer before you did left their e-mail up.
One of life's guilty pleasures that doesn't harm your health nor increase your waistline.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve

We're at this in between stage when it comes to the Christmas hoop-la. The girls are to old to get excited about the holiday and luckily they haven't gifted us with grandchildren. Lana and I are long past the "Our First Christmas Together" ornament stage in our relationship. She used to overflow with Christmas joy but a 3 year remodel of a local Mall, where she was subjected to non stop Christmas Carols, "gaydeer" and 50 foot wreaths have robbed her of the Christmas Spirit.

This year we added my hand surgery the day before Thanksgiving and one daughter's tonsilictomy the day after her finals and the other daughter's holiday travel plans so the decorations didn't even make it down from the attic. We have a Christmas Rosemary bush instead. Lana and I gave each other wireless internet - hey, we're teckies, we're happy.

So, no tree, no outdoor lights, no wreath, no carols, no cookies...the only thing we do have in Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose. In some bizarre twist of weather we're having as much of a white Christmas as Houston will ever have. All day the sky has been spitting down a mixture of snow, sleet and rain. Most of it is melting as it hits the ground but it's white and it's falling.

Definitely a Christmas to remember in more ways than one!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Fashion Void

I inhabit a Fashion Wasteland. This became very apparent when I had to go to an uptown bank to sign some papers. Men wore suits & ties, women wore suits, hose, heels & outfits that were carefully coordinated.

I work in an elementary school and elementary school teachers think it perfectly appropriate to appear in public wearning a denim jumper adorned with grinning apples and dancing school buses, white ankle socks with lace trim and red, pointy toe keds. They go all out for holidays and add earring shaped like pumpkins, sweatshirts were Rudolph really does have a shiny nose and checked shirts with embroidered G rated Easter Bunnies. On "Casual Fridays" the teachers appear wearing what most people would wear to clean their attic. Overalls, jeans with holes, capri pants and belly baring shirts.

My other standard haunt - the local thrift shops are not hotbeds of fashion either. One could (and some people do) wear fuzzy wuzzy slippers and nobody would turn a hair. Yesterday I saw a rather plus size woman in a black lace cocktail dress, long rhinestone earring, black strapped high heel shoes and black ankle socks. Her eye makeup would have done Liz Taylor proud - in about 1960 or so. Pink foam rubber curlers have occasionally been spotted. Sloppy and ill fitting appear to the be attire of choice.

Golf course attire hasn't changed much in take one basic polo shirt and pair it with a pair of longish shorts. Of course one does see some flights of fancy - leopard print capris, plaid pants or loud printed shirts, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

My only steady exposure to Fashion is on of Sex and the City , Queer as Folk and The L Word. The ladies always look fabulous but I don't think they exactly resemble real life. Or perhaps they do and I'm just inhabiting a parallel universe where jeans and T-shirts are the norm. Which is it?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Then There Were 5!

And what did you do over Christmas vacation? I trapped feral cats. 5 cats to be exact.

Living in the Heights, an area undergoing gentrification always comes with unexpected extras - in our case any number of feral and semi feral cats. The old homes are being torn down right and left and the little old ladies who feed the cats are moving elsewhere. So now we are feeding the cats. Cujo ,the raccoon helps keep the population down but we still had a summer population explosion. One of which Skitty Kitty, now known as Mr. Sass is now living with us.

My E-Bay Buddy discovered S.N.A.P., which has a Feral Cat Spay and Neuter program. You trap, you deliver, they spay and neuter at no cost. It's all run by volunteers, some of whom have made SNAP the focus of their lives at the cost of their sense of humor. But they do good work and we could never afford to spay the critters on our own. Cujo is not a humane form of birth control so it's wonderful to have an alternative.

According to the SNAP folks one female cat can have 420,000 descendents in the space of 3 years so I feel most accomplished. Some folks go to the mall at Christmas, me I go to the feral cat clinic. At least it doesn't add to my credit card debt!

Tonsils Then, Tonsils Now

At the ripe old age of 22 my eldest daughter had her tonsils out. I didn't know they took out tonsils anymore. I wasn't even sure if babies came equipped with tonsils. Hadn't heard about them in years, perhaps they had vanished like our primeval tails.

When I was a child (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) many a classmate had their tonsils out. The operation was a common as "tubes in the ears" is today. Then, tonsils went out of fashion and nobody ever had them removed any longer.

Back then, there were even children's books to allay fears - "Tommy Goes to the Hospital". The operation ivolved a 3 day hospital stay, Sue Barton, visiting hours, much ice cream and fun times in the hospital playroom.

Not any longer. The surgerical center was in a strip shopping center, right across from the Wings n' More. That did make it easy to grab some lunch and the parking was free. We showed up at eleven, the surgery was scheduled for noon, the Doctor was late (some things haven't changed) and we went home by 4. No Sue Barton to administer tea and sympathy, just Mom who has to get up ever 4 hours to dole out the pain medication and carry up the bubblegum popsicles. The patient spent most of her day sleeping.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

A Thrifin' We Will Go...

One of the regulars at the Salvation Army Saturday Book Sales (oh the people you meet when you hang out at thrift stores) told about a couple of thrift stores in Porter that had vast collections of books. L. is also a dealer, so I knew she knew of what she spoke. I've been on to many wild goose chases when "lots of great books" translated into a stack of Readers Digest Condensed books and some old textbooks. L. and I have different areas of specialization so sometimes we share tips and tricks. In one way we compete with each other, in another we don't.

The stores were in Porter, a mere bump in the road just north of Houston. There isn't much to Porter, it is a town that time forgot or else lost and never bothered to find. Couple of stores, all withering on vine - or FM 494, most of Porter's economy has moved westward to border I-45.
But the thrifts were choice. Chock full of stuff, so much stuff it was almost impossible to move. There isn't a big market for books in Porter so the shelves were crammed full. And the prices were cheap, cheap, cheap - such a nice change from the Houston thrifts.

We found a vast store of library discard children's books- pure gold for our niche market. Didn't even have time to explore one thoroughly since it was about to close. Much, much dreck - failed craft projects, hideous double knit clothing but there was gold among the mugs, singing Billy Bass and simpering cow statues. Classic Little Old Lady thrifts, where the stock is never purged, it's just piled higher and higher. You dig and dig and dig and if you are lucky uncover a treasure among the floatsum and joastsum.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

I'm Old, I know it. I wrote my first Christmas letter. Will a subscription to Reader's Digest be next? And for those inquiring it is...

Dear Abby says you shouldn’t, but I love holiday letters. Maybe it’s everyone’s dirty little secret, just like reading the National Enquirer in the grocery check out line. This year I even have an excuse – minor surgery on my palm makes grasping a pen difficult. 2004 was a year filled with books, travel, motorcycles, golf (all four of which were often intertwined) and cats, who did their best to hinder the first four adventures.

My Betsy-Tacy / E-Bay buddy Michele and I continued to expand our book business – we traveled to a couple of out of town book sales and now know the thrift store employees by name. Thanks to the Thrift List, a new list serve we also discovered selling on Amazon, which has morphed into a lucrative sideline. It’s delightful to have a hobby – the thrill of the hunt makes it all worth while- that is also occasionally lucrative.

Lana and I spent 3 weeks in Europe this summer; truly the trip of a lifetime. One week in Austria riding motorcycles in the Alps, a week in Paris, the city that indeed was everything everyone said it would be and a week in Holland, meeting up with relations and getting in touch with my roots. I started keeping a blog and decided I enjoyed online journaling so it’s still an ongoing item. It can be found at:

Once we got back from Europe Lana shocked everyone by selling her beloved Harley and buying a BMW motorcycle. She then rendered everyone speechless by changing jobs, selling her beloved Tahoe and buying a BMW SUV. All in the space of two weeks!

After a long hiatus she also took up golf again with a vengeance. Feeling rather left out, I tried the sport and much to everyone’s amazement (especially mine) discovered I liked it. Not that I will ever be proficient, but it’s enjoyable and scenery is certainly lovely. We went to the Doral in Miami for golf, football and a visit with Miss. Katherine and my mother. We also went to San Antonio for golf and a visit with Miss. Christine.

Both girls graduate in May, 2005. They are not looking forward to leaving the womb of college; we on the other hand look forward to no longer writing large checks to institutions of higher learning. Katherine is planning on graduate school in the marine sciences, Christine plans to join the working world doing something connected with the radio or music industry.

Two more cats joined the household, bringing the 4 legged total to 6. A semi feral cat had four kittens under the house. To our horror we saw the kittens fall victim to the neighborhood raccoons so the last one and his mother moved in. The kitten is indeed a charmer and his mother has a sweet purr and a Siamese voice.

We hope that 2005 brings you much joy, happiness and good times with old friends.

Found the Local Color in Guadalajara!

Only afternoon, after dutilifly looking at books at the Book Expo, the four of us took of to Tlaquepaque, a shopping area recommended by a colleague. Turned out to be a winner. Restored homes turned into quaint little shops, many of which were stocked with good quality Mexican arts and crafts. Lovely silver jewelry, pottery and dishes. Much was not to my taste, though I could admire it from an artistic standpoint. Excellent restaurants - the food in Guadalajara was been most elegant and very sophisticated.

Tlaquepaque had a couple of ornate churches and a lovely old square with statues and benches. Good place to sit and watch the world go by, which I did since my shopping stamina was not that of my companions.

We also visited one other shopping area, The Plaza del Sol near downtown Gualalajura. Think Fiesta Supermarkets meets Northwest Mall meets the Dollar Store.

Never did make it to the older part of town and Cathedral which I understand is quite something. Perhaps next time. Let's hope there is a next time!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Things are somewhat different here...

When you step onto an elevator you greet the occupants with a polite "Buenos dais". Nice change from the US where you either look straight ahead with a stony expression or examine the tops of your shoes!

The ATMs - of course they have them, they are everywhere. However I have never seen an ATM guarded by two men in bullet proof vests toting sub machines guns while a third man replenishes it. Added a rather surreal note to the teaming book expo.

The teenagers are as attached to their cell phones as they are in the US. The students all wear uniforms and look charming. Some of the uniforms look downright chic and that´s hard to achieve. The children are so much thinner than the students who have migrated to the US. Less fast food perhaps? There were multiple classes visiting the Expo yesterday.

Taxis are cheap, cheap cheap and plentiful. Most excellent in this city where I would not want to drive. Traffic is like Paris - many traffic circles, with all the drivers driving as fast as they can and honking their horns furiously. Motorcycles seem to favor zipping in and out and driving on the center line.

The Holiday Inn version of Mexican coffee is not pretty.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Mexican Retrograde

If Mercury Retrograde is bad in the US it is even worse in Guadalajara, Mexico where the "manana" mentality reigns supreme. Luggage carousel clearly marked with our flight number. Does our luggage show up there? No, it shows up at a 3 carrousels over that is clearly marked with another flight.

At the hotel, the rooms aren't ready, despite it being 3pm. Ready in 20 min, ready in 40 min, still not ready, the hell with it, leave the luggage and go the Book Fair expo. But not before one member of our party tries to make a phone call. Several wrong numbers and assorted adventures later she too gives up and heads for the Expo.

At the expo, inquiring the whereabouts of the food court lands us in the parking garage. Inquiring where the children's books are lands us in the ¨children´s play area" which is swarming with ninos all of whom run, push and shove just as much as they do in the Houston Thrift Stores. Must be cultural.

Book expo is overwhelming, bigger than TLA. Tonight I will get anal and try and map out a plan of action. Today I just wandered about trying to ¨Gork it all and not succeeding very well.

One unfortunate thing is our hotel is way the heck on the edge of town, not near anything of any interest so I can´t indulge in my favorite activity of walking around and getting lost. Taxi´s are cheap, I may treat myself. I don´t want to come back from Guadalajara having seen only the Holiday Inn which looks like any other Holiday Inn in the world. In other words, it´s bland and boring.

I feel the need for a good dose of local color so tomorrows mission may be to find it!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Mercury is retrograde and It's Not Pretty

Today was once again one of those days when the simplest things took way longer and were ever so much complicated than they had to be. I finally admitted that the keyboard on my computer was beyond help so back to Dell it went. In one of their post paid boxes. Not a problem, but the shipper was DHL who is not the most popular shipper in Houston. The DHL location was closed for the 4 day holiday, the UPS store wouldn't take the box and neither would Kinko/Fedex. OfficeMax is a dropoff stop but their internet was down. The Box Store, despite being touted on the DHL website as an "official drop off" site declined the honor. 2 hours later the OfficeMax on West Grey finally delivered for me. Now let us hope Dell delivers it back in a timely manner - and with a working space bar.

Needed to rustle up business cards for the upcoming trip to Mexico...again an exercise in frustration. Finally bought pre-prefed cards to make my own, but the printer won't take the card stock. So it's back to Kinko's tomorrow to run the stock through the copy machine. Let's hope it is a one stop errand though considering how things went today I have grave doubts.

Monday, November 22, 2004

DayTime TV

It's Thanksgiving and we get the entire week off - what a blessing. It's raining, raining, raining, as in "Noah, Where's the Ark" raining so I stayed home and piddled about with this n' that. Happily watched all my new BBC DVD'S on the downstairs TV which is the latest and greastest in TV technology. The one in my upstairs office is several generations removed from latest and greatest.

Curious to whether or not the city was underwater I turned on the mid-day news. It's very apparent who their target audience is.....people who are on disability or wish they were. The broadcast was sponsored by various personal injury lawyers of the ambulance chaser variety.
The overlying theme was "I'll get you money" and the testimonials were all given by people who did not use their settlements for some badly needed dental work.

And yes, the city was underwater - at least at some key intersections.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

And They Wonder Why People Abandon Teaching!

The Texas Education agency has decided, in it's infinite wisdom to survey all teachers on their use and opinions of Technology. Good enough idea, but then they made it way more complicated than it ought to have been, mainly I think to provide "busy work" for some over paid and under worked administrators.

First, all classroom teachers had to give up one of their planning periods. Those of us not on block planning had to carve out some time out of an already to full day. I joined the third grade. 5 teachers + 1 librarian at about $50 an hour = $300 worth of tax dollars.

The Instructional technology department sent not one but 2 trainers to train us. 2 trainers, 1 hour + 1 hour travel time = $200 tax dollars.

We were given 3 photocopies. We then watched an on line video of a talking educational head who read us the photocopies. The head was an administrative head so it was most likely paid double what we are. 1 talking head x 2 hours to make the film = $200

Then we were allowed to access the web site so we could begin to fill out the survey. Price to create survey? Who knows? At least $1000 worth of staff time.

This training was repeated 6 times at my school alone, multiply that by the 40 schools in my district! The amount of money spent to achieve this end is obscene.

Hey, I've got a college degree, I sell on E-Bay, I order on-line, I've taken long distance learning, I keep a blog. I am very capable of filing out an online survey without 30 minutes of prior instruction.

The final indignity? We were handed a pencil and a printed copy of the survey. We were told to fill out the hard copy first and then transfer the information to the on-line version!

Where's my resume?????

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Books,Books and more many books!

Between my trip to Miami and driving Jane, the author to and fro and fro and to I managed to miss most of our annual bookfair. A pity since not only is it an excellent opportunity to actually look at the books I might want to order, it is an even better opportunity to visit and talk shop with fellow librarians. It was slim pickings in the sample book reading department - this year I only ended up with 3 boxes of books-normally I have at least 6. Less books, more competition and a shorter reading season.

So, now they are stacked in the back of the library in need of cataloging. Not sure when that's going to happen.

Should of gone this past Saturday when the building was open but I to deal with all the books at home instead. Books needed packing, books needed sorting, books needed culling and books just plain needed to be put away. Oh yes, and books needed to be read too but somehow there just wasn't time for that. Hum...perhaps I need to rethink the priorities.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Changes Changes

I left Miami for good in 1970 and while I’ve been back intermittently, I’ve not stayed for more than a week or so. Some things haven’t changed. The vegetation is as lush as ever, the grass green and palm trees stand tall. The shopping centers I remember from my childhood are still there, though with updated false fronts. The traffic is worse, far worse, despite there being any number of new freeways. The drivers rival those of San Antonio. Never have I seen so much blatant running of red lights.

There is a new underclass. When I was growing up the maids, waiters, taxi cab drivers and doormen were Cuban. All newly arrived and fleeing Castro’s Cuba. Their children now run the city and hire the newest crop of immigrants – the Haitians. I wonder who will take their place some 40 years hence? The African Americans appear to be left behind entirely. Some parts of Miami simmer with the anger of the disposed.

Miami Throwback

The Doral Resort and Spa – once known as the Doral Country Club is a throwback to the 1960s, to the days when blond furniture was in vogue, Jack Kennedy was in the White House and Camelot was on the horizon. The days when the men golfed and women played bridge and never the twain shall meet. Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior and the rest of the rat pack would feel right at home. Chances are they were once.

This image was further solidified by the 400 partners and counsel of Hogan and Hartson, who had picked this particular weekend for their annual retreat. It was a small affair, just some 400 odd lawyers and their wives, and costing, according to a bell hop, a mere $1,000,000.

I’m not sure how the most likely minimum wage earning bellhop felt about a firm who made so much money they could squander $1, 000,000 of it in just one weekend. I wanted to ask him, as well as ask the mostly Haitian cleaning crew but I suspected they would only give me a polite smile and pretend to forget all their English. It brought to mind Marie Antoinette and her “Piete Trinion” – her fantasy farm where she gamboled about presenting to be a shepherdess while the people of Paris rioted in the streets.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

No Miami Vice - To Many Lawyers

We spent the weekend at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami in the company of 400+ lawyers from Hogan and Hartson enjoying their annual "Partner's Retreat". Given what this place costs it was very apparent that the law firm - was very well heeled and a quick Google search confirmed my suspicions. Reading between lines of all the corporate babble the words "well connected", " fat cats", "Political Pac" , "good old boys", "rich white men", "conservative" and "Republican" all came to mind. This is the kind of firm Ken Lay would hire to get him out of the Enron mess. They are most likely very happy with the outcome of the recent presidential election.

Many rich white men, accompanied by either their original wives (looking expensively matronly) or their trophy wives (looking trim, well cared for and sporting flashy diamonds). There are also a few women members of the firm, they read legal briefs poolside while the wives read Nora Roberts.

Saturday night was black tie formal - the men in tuxedos - though their name tags would have garnered them black maks from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" men. The trophy wives wore short, clinging black dresses, cut low where it counted, the original wives wore figure flattering , hide the bulges black and the women lawyers wore basic black so conservative it was boring and unforgettable. No flaming red halter dresses or sequins for this crowd. A couple of the women wore "Tootise" style suits which will most likely not help them make partner any time soon.

The men have been playing golf - there must be a class in law school entitled "Corporate Golf 101". The women have been spaing. In between they are entertained at a none stop flow of parties all carefully scripted by an events planning firm(easily identified by their matching pale peach polo shirts and tense looks).

The amount of money(no doubt tax deductible) spent could fund a health care clinic for at least 6 months if not longer.

Sad commentary on the current state of our divided country.

The main purpose of our trip was to visit our daughter who attends the University of Miami. We treated her to a day at the spa and a good time was had by all. My Beloved had a migraine so we passed on the University of Miami Football game which was no great sacrifice on my part. Miami lost in overtime so going would not have helped the headache situation.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

The week wouldn't never end

It was one of THOSE weeks at work. Due to a scheduling misadventure I had an Adventure Land book fair, Family Literacy night, District book exhibit set up and an author visit, all in one week. That was about 3 things to many.

The Book Fair went well, we sold $1,800 worth of books, which is a tidy sum for a school like ours. The children got a crash course in economics. A 5 year old has no concept of money and sometimes just can't graspe that their quarter can't be stretched to purchase a 12.95 Spiderman Book. We combined it with Family Literacy Night and had a excellent turnout and a satisfactory program. The higher ups were pleased with the efforts.

We've hosted the author - Jane Tenorio-Coscarelli before, and she's delighful. Jane is a friend of Jerona , my principal which whom she shares a passionate interest and ability in quilting. She was in town for the Houston Quilt Show. Jane is the author of numerous books, all with a quilting theme and all based on her own childhood. She's Hispanic so all our kids can relate to her stories of Pinatas and tortillas. After her last visit, Jerona created The Pinata Quilt for the library, which hangs in a place of honor over our computer corner.

I didn't do the schedule, and the principal who did gave the poor woman 3 schools per day. That was a great pity since that didn't give us time for lunch with kids and all presentations had to be large group, rather than small. I did my best prep and the kids did me proud, listened attentively and asked sensible questions.

Not only does Jane have to deal with a schedule that resembles the Long Island Railroad, she also has to cope with new librarians, some of whom are not adept at doing author visits. The second visit after mine was an author's worst night. I called to say we were coming and the response was "what author"? Someone hadn't bothered to read numerous e-mails. Another librarian didn't quite stoop that low, but she fessed up that she's not introduced her students to the books, despite the fact I've had them on campus for over a month.

Even though none of the snafus were my fault I still felt hideously embarrassed, I'm a perfectionist who prides myself on a job well done. Jane was most gracious but it was still most annoying that some folks did not act in a professional manner.

Many people in Houston are inner loop impaired so I'm doing the pick ups and the drop offs. Jane is a Starbucks addict after my own heart so I'm hoping that double lattes will offset some poor planning on the part of inexperienced librarians.

The Light Shineth! Posted by Hello
Well, the conversion that began this summer is now 100% complete. My beloved has sold the Harley - it was on consignment at Republic. Driving down there to pick up the sellers check was her last trip to a Harley dealership. No more planning vacation trips around the locations and hours of HD dealerships. We'll most likely visit some BMW dealerships but they are few and far between.
She flew to Atlanta and bought a BMW 100RT from her buds she'd meet on the trip - they own the Atlanta dealership. Drove it back, loving every minute of it. It rides so smooth and stops (and turns) on a dime. She's already been to a a rally, the Roar to the Shore at South Padre where she enjoyed blowing past everyone who tried to pass her. So far the top speed she's achieved is 116 miles. There were a few other BMWs there and all the riders gave each other knowing winks. After all, they knew who had the superior machine!

Before She'd Seen the Light Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Skitty Kitty Surveys her Kingdom Posted by Hello

There is no joy in Mudville - or in Houston

A Baseball fan I'm not, but the playoffs managed to suck me in. Houston Astros for the first time in living memory (if not ever) vs Saint Louis. The Astro's gave it run for the money but went down in game 7. The entire town was ago with baseball fever, even the nonfans (like myself) were watching with baited breath. It was baseball at the games best, with extra innings and nailbiter finishes.

On the East coast the Boston Red Sox surprised everyone by beating the New York Yankees,thus giving themselves a berth in the series. Needless to say the residents of Mudville are pulling for Boston.

I introduced the kids at school to Casey at the Bat. Very suitable for the mood ofthe city.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Family Library Night

'Bout 4 years the district got a mega grant entitled Academics 2000. The bulk of the money went to buy zillions and zillions of Wright & Rigby Guided Reading books - more than anyone could process or even use at any given moment. Stacks of them are still piled up in assorted warehouses and stashed in back rooms and cubbyholes. Oddly, though it was supposed to "extend literacy" not one penny could be spent on books for the school libraries. However, a small amount of money was allocated to library programming, for the libraries. I'm not much for pull out the stops, one time programs so opted to open the library once a week to the community.

The Library @ Housman Posted by Hello

For some reason it was just what the community needed and wanted. We average 50-100 people each week, even though we offer no food nor any bells and whistles. The computers are the big draw, but the kids love the games and puzzles and the adults just like having a place to chat. We seem to be a combination homework help, playing area and neighborhood Starbucks sans the coffee. It's made our parents more comfortable about coming up to school for other events also and given the school a standard night for activities. Since we require the children have a parent (loosely defined as someone over the age of 18 who can escort the child home when we close) it's not turned into a free daycare center, instead it really is a Family Library Night.

The place has an entirely different feel on Thursday nights. It's humming and buzzing but it's a good, positive energy. Amazingly we have few discipline problems and the children do a good job of respecting the library rules and sharing the computers. It's odd that something so simple is so successful. A classic case of KISS.

Skitty Kitty surveys her word Posted by Hello
She's not much for being held, but she does like to sit upright and view her kingdom. She's learning how to purr.

My Beloved & her new baby Posted by Hello
My Beloved has had many cats in her life, but never a kitten. All the others have wandered into our life when they are well past the cute kitten stage. She's a push over for all animals. Skitty is the only one of the 7 kittens (2 litters) to survive Cujo the Raccoon. Only 6 weeks old and she's already used up one of her nine lives.

Now We are Six ...the Saga Continues

Mama Kitty, feeling at home Posted by Hello

Mama is starting to plump up. She still has a knobby backbone but her tummy is beginning to pouch out a bit. Skitty knows she has a charmed life and scampers across the living room, tail straight up like a little bottlebrush. The other cats continue to be tolerant and even Heine is thinking about coming round when she thinks no one is looking. We catch her looking at the kitten with a puzzled expression. She's like to join in kitten play but can't quite bring herself to do that. She doesn't want to loose face.

Mama & Skitty Posted by Hello

Ollie Man in a contemplative mood Posted by Hello

Monday, October 11, 2004

Obscure Holidays

Columbus Day is one of those holidays that nobody but the Feds observe any longer. Perhaps it's a big deal in the East but in Texas it's pretty much ignored. A year or two ago the School Board snapped to the fact that it's a long stretch from Labor Day to Thanksgiving, so they dug up some little observed holidays to ensure we'd get one per month.

Today was the day. A most excellent day for a holiday since nobody else had it. My E-Bay buddy and I went thrifting in East Houston. Explored a new to us Family Thrift Center which was new, clean & not yet trashed. Found a stack of books, some jackets and other odds and ends. The other two thrifts were disappointing but the FTC is definitely worth a return trip. To bad it's not on the way to anywhere I ever go. Three of the books have already sold - easy in, easy out. Were it always so easy!

It was a picture perfect day (which is just as rare as a tidy Family Thrift Center) so once My Beloved got home we went to Memorial Park to ponk golf balls. For once my driver did what it was supposed to do and actually connected with the ball with a decent sounding "ping".

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Blessed be Saturday....and Fall

Both of which finally arrived. The gray skies didn't matter, the temperature was below 70 and the humidy was was non existent. I slept in, had some energy and managed to have my books before I headed to the Salvation Army for box book table sale day. Tried out my Scoutpal and promptly made back my first month's fee. Not in books I bought, but in books I didn't. There in appears to be the value of the gizmo- by saves you money by keeping you from buying books that have no resale value.

Stuffed books into Sellers Assistant, photographed covers, sorted books into boxes and even managed to get the laundry put away in a timely manner.

Somewhere out in this great land is a Presidential campaign and I'm totally ingnoring it. Texas is a given for Bush so the news media and the candidates are not giving us the time of day. Does mean we aren't sujected to non stop political commercials. So far we've had 2 Presidential debates and one Vice Presidential and I've not watched any of them. I'll vote even though it won't matter, the electoral votes for Texas are a given. I feel like I'm failing in my civic responsibility but it's hard to have much excitement about the entire affair.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bookselling in the 21st Century

At every sale I attend I see more and more booksellers punching in the ISBN's on their cell phones. My E-Bay buddy and I deal in mostly pre-ISBN books, so that method wouldn't work for us, but we do deal in some current titles. I dabble in textbooks were a 2000 copyright can be worth 42 dollars or 42 cents depending on whether or not it's been superseded by a new edition. I've been musing on going wireless myself.

Thanks to Bookthink , a handy little e-newsletter I learned about ScoutPal and decided to give it a whirl. Seems easy to use, we'll have see if it's worth the monthly fee. I sure hope I don't into a Godzilla BookDealer like the ones we saw at the Galveston sale last weekend.

There were 3 of them, working in teams, all armed with cell phones. One tore through the textbooks in hurricane force fashion, and excellent imitation of Hurricane Ivan left destruction in her wake. Books tossed helter skelter, dumped on the floor. The sale operators had done such a careful job of set up and they destroyed it. The others attacked the non fiction, piling up stacks of books and shoving others out of their way. Their stacks were so high and so untidy that it was impossible to tell that the books were "taken". They screamed at anyone who dared approach them and did their best of keep others away from the shelves. I know they made a killing in the textbooks- Galveston is always a good source for medical books. Luckily for us, they didn't bother with children's books.

I've seen them at the Bellaire sale too - 2 scoop up armloads of books and take them to cell phone central who hordes them and keys in the ISBNs as fast as he can. Some sales are starting to ban horders and snatch and grabbers and I can't say that I blame them!

So, I'm going to do my best to remember my manners and not let technology surplant my mental knowledge of "flashpoints".

Monday, October 04, 2004

And Now We Have 6

Mama Kitty and her one remaining baby have moved in and I think they are here to stay. Mama is very young, not yet a year old and coal black. She's got some Siamese in her, what with her triangular face, long slinky tail and her vocal cords. Skinny little thing but we're working on that. Baby is smoky gray, like her Dad who has some Russian Blue blood.

Mama is not totally feral, she's adapted happily to being in the house and has no interest in going out. Her purr rivals a buzz saw. She's also very easy going when it comes to the other cats. Baby is happy to be anywhere Mama is. Her current favorite toy is the automatic litter box.

The other cats are pretty much ignoring them. Gabriel, the elder statesman has seen many cats come and go in his time and Leia knows she's the Princess so they aren't concerned. Ollie keeps to himself as always. Just as we suspected, Corky is the one who wants them gone. She's very protective of her "territory" and doesn't care for interlopers.

Mama has a sister who just had a litter too - so I wonder if the cat population is about to take another jump.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Kitten Drama

We seem to be overrun with cats - not only do we have 4 inside ones of our own but our back porch has become a hang out for the semi feral neighborhood cats. The perils of living in an area undergoing gentrification - they are quite a few homeless cats in the neighborhood. The little old lady down the street feeds many of them and doesn't seem to care that the reproduce at will.

2 young black females have taken to living under our house. One had a litter about a month ago - 2 back, 2 Russian blues. So cute, all big blue eyes and upright little tails. First one black one disappeared, then we found on the gray ones on the back porch with a broken neck. The last straw was this morning when we found the remains of the sole remaining black kitten. We suspect it's raccoons - we know we have some in the area since we've seen them on the porch too. We found the last surviving Russian blue and it's upstairs with Mama who is getting tamer by the minute. I think we've upped our indoor cat population.

The other one had a litter last night. One got separated from the others and entrapped in the Mexican Heather. I cut it loose and luckily found it's littermates and returned it to the bunch. I hope the mother cat won't reject it since I've had to touch it. I also hope Mama moves them to a safer place and that the coons don't decide to come looking for dinner again tonight.

All this kitten strum and drum has taken up way more time and energy than either of us can deal with. I know nature is not kind and that nature is cruel but facing it at 6am in the morning is another thing entirely.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Booksale Frenzy

Tis the season of the library booksales. This is the time of year when I acquire a the bulk of my E-Bay inventory. It runs from September till end October and then goes into haituts till March. My e-bay buddy and I have been to so many that we know the regulars.

First there are the pros - a group that once consisted of overweight people with bad hygiene and a passion for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Now, with the onslought of the internet they have been joined by folks who know from nothing about books but have a cell phone with internet access. I don't mind them, except for one group who moves in a pack. Two or three fan out, grab stacks of books and deposit them in front of the man with the cell phone who looks up the ISBNS and cherry picks the lot.

We deal in children's books so we get to contend with the homeschoolers. They move in packs too, Mom in her dowdy jumper and tennis shoes, accompanied by a minimum of 4 children and a stroller the size of a Mini Cooper. Said stroller is always wide enough to block an entire aisle.
The children, who don't seem to have been schooled in public manners amuse themselves by playing tag under and around the tables. Given the crowds at the sales and said strollers this is not a good thing. And then there is the occupant of the stroller who is hot and miserable makes sure everyone knows this. Everyone else gives thought to calling a truant officer and wonders just why anyone would bring a toddler to such an event in the first place. They buy stacks and stacks and stacks of books - many must have a library to rival that of any school in their house.

Some book sales are starting to ban srollers, wagons and anything with wheels and while it would put a crimp in my booksale activities, I must say I think it's a good idea. I knew the one we attended yesterday had narrow aisles so I opted for a couple of canvas bags.

What ever happened to public service?

Lost my cell phone. Very anonying. Think it fell off my belt between point A and point B. Back tracked and it wasn't anywhere. Called, reported it lost, arranged for a new one which I was supposed to pick up the next day. Seemed easy enough.

But it wasn't. Cingular replaces the phone and the accessories - in other words the black leather carrying case it lived in. Cingular store had a phone - actually it's a nicer phone , it takes pictures. They were out of the case. So I asked if I could take the phone and come back for the case. No, couldn't do that - they had to close out the entire thing, they couldn't do a partial. I could either do without a phone till the case came in or go to another store. At 6pm. In Houston rush hour traffic. After working an 11 hour day.

I thought not. They thought yes. I asked for the manager. Was told he wasn't there. Requested the person in charge. Was told nobody was in charge. Suggested they phone the next higher up.
They said it might take some time. Retorted with I had my book, a latte from the nearby Starbucks and would be glad to wait till they located a person in charge.

And low and behold, I got a phone and a rain check on a case. Which is all I asked for in the first place. Why did it take getting testy and grumpy? Especially since the request wasn't unreasonable in the first place?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Catch Up Time...Maybe

Things are piling and piling and piling up. Saturday was taken up with a workshop in puppetry- well worth time but there went Saturday. I learned a few tips and tricks and discovered I knew more about using puppets in library programs than I thought I did! In fact, I could take my own show on the road. Of course, I did have to buy a couple to add to my own collection! There was a vendor selling Folkmanis puppets and I couldn't resist a very realistic spider and a bunny in a magicians hat.

Sunday was find the floor in the office day. I had stacks of books for pack for e-bay and Amazon
and so many books to put away that I couldn't find the ones I needed to pack. 4 hours later I emerged with 30 books in mailers and all books filed in their proper boxes where I can hopefully FIND them when needed.

Somehow squeezed in some laundry, book listing, bill paying, coupon clipping and general cleaning. Sunday was not a day of rest at my house!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Lost in Austin....

Austin has sorely changed and I don't think it's for the better (I suspect many long time Austin residents would agree with me!). Drove up last Friday for the Friends of the Library Monster Book Sale, one of the highlights of the Booksale circuit. It's well laid out, nice wide aisles, good venue with good light and lots of space, reasonable prices and excellent selection. Oddly, it doesn't attract the usual crowd of dealers we manage to trip over at every other sale. Austin is strong in Children's books and we always do very well.

I drove up after work, got snarled in construction in Bastrop, traffic going into Austin and then eaten alive by the spaghetti bowls in South Austin. Arrived almost an hour late, meet up with my E-Bay buddy, who had of course scooped up most of the good stuff! Did find enough gems to make it worth my while.

Leaving, we were to head up to E-Bay buddies daughter, only we got snarled in the freeways. It was late at night, we were hungry and tired and my windshield was covered with mushed love bugs. Not exactly ideal driving conditions. The first hour was grim, the second which involved nachos and maragritas at El Mercado was much better.

I lived in Austin from 1974-1976 and have fond, fond memories of the city. Then it had one freeway, I-35 which went through the center of town in a north / south route. Now it has many more than encircle and surround the city- to the point of strangling it. I-35 is a double Decker nightmare. The construction rivals that of Houston. Throw in the fact that the Colorado River, the hills and the creeks made it impossible to lay the city out on a grid and you have a logistical nightmare. Especially when having to peer through a bug smeared windshield!

All's well that ends well but I'm glad to be home!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Money Talks

My beloved a minor surgical procedure involving a lump today. All appears to be well, which is of course, to quote Martha Stewart, "A Good Thing".

She opted to go to the plastic surgeon she used several years ago. Today's event took place at a day surgery center on the 10th floor of the building where said surgeon has her office. My beloved and I have weathered numerous medical adventures - I keep telling her while some folks travel to exotic places for their anniversaries, I seem tour hospital waiting rooms instead.

It was very apparent that this clinic catered to woman who were paying for elective plastic surgery out of their own pockets - or more correctly their husbands pockets. There was a view to die for - and since we were there at 6:30am I got to admire the sunrise over Houston.

The furniture was new, cushy, oversized and upholstered in masculine tweeds and heather greens. No row of hard chairs with metal arms and uncomfortable seats. Quiet and subdued atmosphere, no extended family groups complete with raucous toddlers and clamoring cell phones.

No ancient and tattered magazines - instead there were copies of ESPN Sports, Sports Illustrated, Wall Street Journal and Golf Digest. All nicely arranged in neat rows. Phones, adequate electrical plugs for laptops and fresh coffee. The other occupants were neatly attired in starched white shirts and preppie ties. Me, I wore a Harley Davidson T-shirt and was the only women not having surgery.

The staff was friendly, accommodating (they even validated parking tickets) and were not overworked, understaffed or rushed.

Money does indeed talk, especially when it comes to health care.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Nothing Like Old Friends

Spent last night a party given by old, old friends. Folks we used to see all the time but hadn't spent any quality time with in months and months. We'd seen them here and there and about town in such fleeting circumstances as Comets games and our dinner group. But we haven't had time to really talk and catch up. Delightful evening - excellent food and even better conversation. Laughter, talk, jokes and remembering old times. What more could one ask for?

100% Conversion

Well, it happened. My Beloved took her bike down to Republic Harley Davidson and is working with them on selling it. Could have knocked me over with a feather. I knew a BMW motorcycle was emminet but thought she'd buy it in addition to the Harley. In fact I was thinking that all things do indeed have a silver lining - a second bike would mean that she would finally have to clean out the garage. 1/4 of it is mine, 3/4 of it is her's and it's piled full of boxes of stuff she hasn't wanted to deal with. Filing paperwork bores her to distraction.

But no, in a sudden moment of financial prudence she's decided that she doesn't ride enough to justify two bikes. BMWs not only cost less, but they are lower maintance. They are also a well performing bike - nothing corners like a BMW.

The BMW is already lined up - going to buy it from BMW Bob, whom we meet on the Edelweiss Tour. He's giving her a good price and I bet wants to use her testimonial in an ad. Harley's are commplace she says, everyone has one. 10 years ago they weren't all that common, especially for a woman but now - well- My Beloved never wants to be part of the mainstream. That's a trait she shares with our oldest daughter, who also turns her nose up at anything -be it music, clothes, books or fashion once it's commonplace.

Friday, September 03, 2004

What a difference 100 more kids makes...

We picked up 150 + extra kids due to boundary changes and what a difference it is making. The library seems to be going non-stop, especially on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays! The kids keep coming and coming and coming. The classes are bigger - most of our teachers are at their class limit and we've added two new teachers besides. The students we inherited from another school aren't used to routines & rules. All of us are spending a great deal of time and effort in teaching them that at Housman kids don't run, walk in line and respect their teachers.

I am so grateful to have an assistant not many librarians have that luxury. I think I'd run screaming from the place were it not for Joyce. No way could we run the program we do without her. School has only been in session for 3 weeks and we've already checked out 4,500 books.

We gave out High AR Point passes today- always fun. The kids who earn them are so excited - Jerona lets me do a "come on down' over the intercom. A large crop lost theirs due to not reading, some of whom we will miss and some of whom we most certainly won't. The latter earned theirs due to class reading done with their teacher and not due to efforts on their own. Left on their own devices they would rather do as little as possible - and did.

3 day weekend coming up - yeah! I will miss my Monday though, which I use for catch up since nobody wants to come to the library on Monday- due to said 3 day weekends!

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Blast from the past

My girls gave me the first 2 seasons of Dallas on DVD for my birthday. I was one of many who was hooked on the series back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Folks used to plan their social life around it. One friend even scheduled her C-section so she wouldn't miss an episode. Of course, this was prior to the days of VCRs and Tivo.

It hasn't aged well at all. Camp to the extreme. The clothes! The acting! The dialogue! Especially the dialogue. Watched 2 seasons - the disco scene was the best (worst), and Lucy was certainly an evil little sex kitten in those early episodes. And, oh how has technology changed. J.R.'s Secretary (secretary, not Administrative Assistant) is typing on clunkly IBM Selectric. All the phones (in tasteful pastel colors) have cords, there is not a computer to be seen and nary a cell phone in evidence. The TVs all have dials, nobody wears a seat belt and everybody smokes.

My eldest is has discovered the media of the 1970s and I think she'll find Dallas fascinating. Right now she is reading her way through the novels of Jacqueline Susann. "I didn't know people wrote about stuff like that back then" she told me in utter amazement. She's happily recreating the 1970s and I'm feeling old. My life is now history and nostalgia. It doesn't seem all that long ago to me, but to her it's ancient history.

Monday, August 30, 2004

There Ought to be a Law....

....about having birthdays fall on a Monday. Mondays are bad enough as it is. Friday is a good day - you can celebrate all weekend, Thursdays is tolerable - the week is about over - but Monday! There is never anything good about Monday. My beloved did send me a dozen roses which were duly admired by all and sundry. They are lovely- yellow with peach tips. They are on display in the library and some of the kids asked if they were real. I can't have them at the house since Leia the high maintance cat has been known to dine on them.

It was a slow Monday- we have few scheduled classes because nobody wants Monday as their library day. In fact nobody wants Monday period. Due to holidays and inservices anyone with a Monday library day ends up missing it at least once a month. At my school, nobody wants to miss library time. Which is I guess, a compliment.

So we did thises and thats and odds and ends. Cataloged, lesson plans and such. We are piloting a Gifted and Talented Program with first and second graders. We were promised a curriculum which of course did not materialize so we are creating our own. We is myself and another teacher - we are co-teaching since we have 14 students. She's bi-lingual, which is a nice plus since 6 of the children are too.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Blogger Ate my Post

Wrote a spritely entry on Thursday night and then Blogger had some server problems since it timed out. Tried to recreate it but just couldn't. I can always edit a post but can never recreate on from scratch when it is eaten by a computer glitch. Somehow the second post always sounds forced and has no flow.

Finally some rain - and oh, do we need it. It held off till the afternoon so I did make it to the Salvation Army for box/book/table day only they didn't have many books out. They had restocked the cookbooks so I made off with a new stack of Junior League cookbooks. Spent the afternoon listing all the Landmark Books I picked up at a booksale last weekend. They always appeal to homeschools. The books are accurate historically, but it's a very 1950s viewpoint, where all the American heroes are 10 feet tall and feet of marble, never of clay.

Coaxed My Beloved off the couch and away from the Olympics for dinner at Barnabys - craved one of their burgers and needed time away from the computer.

Odd things of note - the Blogger spell check does not recognize the word "blogger". It wants to change the word to "blocker". Another odd thing...why are Cadallic and Lincoln making SUVs? Why would a little old blue haired lady want a Lincoln SUV? Is she planning to drive over hill and over dale ? And why do they drive them so slowly? Not to mention parking them. It's a puzzlement.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

My Glasses Keep Steaming Up...

Come August I always reconsider lasik surgery. It's steamy in Houston, I get out of the car, my glasses fog up and I can't see. Most anoying. August is the time of year when one wonders why anyone ever wanted to settle in Houston in the first place (real estate hucksters - some things never change). The afternoon rains don't cool things off, they just add to the sauna effect. Fall will arrive - all 3 days of it, if we can only live so long.

Wasted an afternoon in the most useless of in-services. Why are teacher in-services yet another example of "do as I say, not as I do". The instructor was poorly prepared, rambled, got off topic and never did articulate just what information she wanted to convey. I figured out what we were supposed to learn in about 15 minutes and spent the rest of the time wishing I was elsewhere. Couldn't leave because I needed the almighty certificate to prove I'd been there. All teacher inservices are paced at the level of the slowest learner - and that speed can be very slow indeed. There wasn't even any good thrifting on the way home. A new bookstore advertising that it had books at "80%" off turned out to be a remainder bookstore - Half Price Books at lower prices. The high point of the afternoon was releasing a book for Bookcrossing at Starbucks. And getting to the Post Office in time to mail my books.

To quote Scarlett...Tomorrow is a another day...and it better be a better one...

Monday, August 23, 2004

Monday Monday

Seem to be getting into the swing at work - actually left on time. Not that I should off, but I would like a life back. We are caught up with new kids and new cards and it's a trickle instead of a deludge. Actually finished up a book order and an Accelerated Reader order.

Lessons are easy this week - just explaining this year's AR Celebrations. Next week comes "picking a just right book" - my ever constant and sometimes all so futile attempt to convince a poor reader that Harry Potter is a bit much and encouraging a 5th grader that it's time to move onward and upward from Junie B. Jones. Blocks on the AR tests help a bit, but our kids are such reluctant risk takers. They want the old and familiar and the tried and true - something that spills over into all aspects of their daily lives. I swear it's one of the reasons so few of them go on to college - fear of the unknown. Better the devil they know, than the devil they don't, even though the devil they know is dead end jobs at minimum wage. It's very frustrating.

The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming..

Yesterday my E-Bay buddy and I made a first time foray to the Jewish Community Center Booksale. It was a tad pricey - all hardbacks $2 and all paperbacks $1. On the plus side it was well organized, well laid out and not well publicized so we didn't have to contend with some of the usual suspects. I didn't tell Mr. Wireless about - after all, all is fair in love and war and if he chooses not to read the paper carefully. One delightful plus was that it was held on Sunday morning, which suited me, your basic heathen just fine. The Homeschool Moms with their dowdy jumpers , their misbehaving children (clad in matching baggy jumpers) & monster strollers were busy with their Sunday church activities.

I came away with 50 some odd books - a big stack of Landmark books which often have a ready market among said homeschoolers. Oddly, we both found some books with Russian title pages and English text. There were also a number of Russian textbooks and books - donated by someone from the Houston Russian Jewish Expatriate community. Houston is such a melting pot, we have a little of everything.

However, one does wonder what journey a book printed in Russian, with English text and an English gift inscription that indicates it was bought in Moscow in 1956 took to land at a used booksale in 2004.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Sports Overload

Houston is a sports mad town. This goes without saying and mostly those of us who are not just learn to live with it. But, every now and then, something pops up that screams "priorities" and "excuse me, is this really so all fire important?". For example - last night, the "teasers" for the local evening news "Houston Little League Team exposed to contagious disease". The mind starts to wonder ..hum...STDs (after all some of those kids are older than their "birth certificates")? Hepatitis from unclean needles due to steroid abuse? Nope, turns out they are at the Little League World Series and one of members of a team they are sharing a bathroom with has the chicken pox. The future of Houston's Little Glory is in danger because one of the players just might come down with chicken pox. Never mind there is a now a vaccine for it and all children have to proof thereof before they can enroll in public school. Nope, germs are going to shoot down another chance at sports glory.

This on a night when we are in the midst of a Presidential Election, a serious war in Iraq and the Olympics. I do love our local news, I've never seen an organization do a better job of dispelling the notion that Houston is the nation's 4th largest city.

Blessed Be Friday. Left school ON TIME. Got the books packed and in the mail and was asleep by 10. Despite a wonderful thunderstorm I slept till nine. Woke up in time to make it to the Salvation Army for their Saturday Book Sale. I found a big stack of community cook books which always do well for me. The usual suspects were in attendance, including a man who looks up every ISBN on his wireless internet phone and was amazed that I operate strictly on prior knowledge and intuition. Most of what I work with hasn't an ISBN so I have no other choice.

Folks used to migrate toward bookselling because they LOVED books and would rather read than eat. Now, with the rise of E-bay and the Blackberry there is a new breed who know from nothing when it comes to books and sell because they can. For them it's all about the money. They do well enough at it, perhaps better than me but they never look like they are having fun. I adore the thrill of the hunt and matching up a book with a customer who has been looking for it. Yes, it is a a business, but it's also nourishes my soul.

Mr. Wireless only deals in new self help and non fiction so we get along just fine. I didn't bother to point out to him the gems he was over looking - I just grabbed them for myself!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Got Sucked In ..Despite My Better Intensions..

Well, once again the women's gymnastics have sucked me in. I will be staying up way to late tonight and be oh so sleepy in the morning.

Swimming has to much of the "hunk" mystique and women's beach volleyball is more cheesecake than sport. I am certain the woman are true athletes but why are they dressed in its, bitsy, teeny weenie bikinis? Yes, it developed on the beaches of California , but the men get to wear baggy shorts. When it comes to the ladies, I've seen more clothes on a Hooters Waitress. I would think it would be difficult to keep ones mind on the game if you have to worry about having plumbers butt.

The gymnastics is fun, though the ladies look oh so serious. Not much joive de viere among this years crop. The smiles look so forced and automatic. And they are wobbling and bobbling all over the balance beam - poor things.

Where are all the people? The stands are empty - even at the gymnastics finals. Fear of terrioritsts? The state of the US economy? The low dollar as compared to the Euro? Greece is to close to the Middle East? I wonder if the Olympics are becoming a dinosaur?

No matter what, books are not getting packed tonight. Will have to rush home from school tomorrow, pitch them into envelopes and fly to the Post Office before they close the doors.

Of course, should of packed last night, but I worked till 7 at school. So many new students this year - we picked up a new tract, to relieve overcrowding at a nearby school. All needing new library cards, AR entries and a strong grounding in library routines. We had a big stack and I wanted them OVER with before left for the night. Thanks to an over long faculty meeting I didn't get them done after the bell rang.

Very long faculty meeting -staff shufflings, due to shifting enrollments. To many kids in some grades, not enough in others. It's hard on the children, who are just feeling comfortable - and the ones who are shifted always feel slighted - as one child put it one year "I was given away". And what's even harder are when teachers are shifted from one grade to another on 3 days notice. We're getting a new 4th grade teacher who is "excess" at another school and Jerona doesn't even know the sex of the person. The 4th grade team, which works well together and doesn't cotton to newcomers they haven't approved is most disgruntled. This new teacher will have a hard row to hoe, his/ her only saving grace is that the other bi-lingual teacher is new to our school also. When it comes to teaching, misery and uncertainity does love company.

These days, the district has a budget shortfall so it's all about the money, and keeping the classes as full as the law allows. Jerona tries to project the enrollment but she has no control over the apartment complexs and their propensity for offering $17 move in specials.

It's going to be an intensive year, especially since the state of Texas has raised the bar on the dreaded and all important TEKS test and along with our shifting demographics have come some kids who are really low.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Where Did the Weekend Go?

First weekend after working all week, and as always it was WAY TO SHORT. To many things to cram into it, and they wouldn't all fit.

The Summer Olympics have started but I can't whip up any enthusiasm about the process. It's not an amateur competion in any sense of the world - what with NBA and WNBA players on "Team USA", athletes who train full time on someone's nickel and doping scandals. I hate things that pretend one thing are actually something else - like college football. I like Pro Football, because they make no bones about the fact it's all about the money and the winning. College Football and the Olympics are all about the money and winning too, but they pretend otherwise and try to disguise it using phrases like "glory", "sportsmanship", "national pride" and "goodwill". It aint't about goodwill, it's about who will get featured on the Wheaties Box.

My Beloved is becoming more and more involved with the Executive Women's Golf Association as her interest in playing golf grows. I do like the women in the club, most are about our age, busy with careers, happy in relationships (none of this change partners and dance bit) and happily stable. We are starting to socialize with a group who share a T-Time with My Beloved.

From weeks of no social life, this weekend was a social whirl, in that we also had dinner with My Beloved's mother and her husband. Dinner was great fun and they gave us the most delightful scrapbook. They'd printed out my blog, added pictures and clippings and mounted them in a scrapbook. We're going to add pictures to it and it will be the perfect memory book.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

School Day I

First day back with kids and we all survived. Actually, it was one of the smoother openings, not to many crying children or clingy mothers. Got roped into helping with registration and one mother, who seemed to take forever going through the process had 3 toddlers with her, one of whom was strapped into a stroller and shrieked, yipped, howled, yowled and roared the entire time. Of course, she was the one with the most problems, missing paperwork, shot records and so on. By the time she was finally done all the adults had a headache. The mother on the other hand was oblivious to the entire adventure and didn't seem to mind that her 4 year old was pushing the howler all over the cafeteria, careening into corners and doing wheelies. One mother was told that an eviction notice was not acceptable proof of residency. And speaking of , it looks like one of our most troublesome and dysfunctional families might not be back. Rumors of evictions abound.

The weather cooperated by not raining and a welcome cold front produced semi cooler temperatures - high 80s, instead of our typical blast furnace 90s, heat index of 105.

I much as I didn't want to go back to work, there is still a feeling of excitement when the kids show up, all excited about a new year and a new beginning. Most of our kids like school, they like the routine and predictability.

The library looks good, lots of new books and new stuffed animal and puppet displays which look friendly and welcoming.

If only I wasn't so tired and had more hours in the day. I would love to job share but financially that isn't an option. 1 more year of college for the girls, plus credit card debts to pay. Plus, for the first time I don't have an escape valve. I'm 8 years from being able to retire and have to stay put. School teachers don't' have a 401k they can roll over! I've got to finish out my time so I can get a pension, being that My Beloved and I won't have access to each others retirement benefits, unless there are some drastic changes in our country. Something I don't anticipate seeing in my lifetime.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Nose Worn Off by Grindstone

Whew...Work is back and there aren't enough hours in the day! In-service presentation went well, though we didn't have enough time to do the Library Resources Page justice. I should of gone back to work once we were done, but it was 3:30 and thrift stores were calling my name. So I heeded their call, found some promising books and headed home to deal with e-mail at home. The rest of the week was pretty much taken up with still more in-services. Boring as always, I sat in the back and read and marked professional journals. Not exactly polite but not nearly as rude as the aside conversations that everyone else indulged in. Nor as loud.

So Saturday work was in order...Got the first week lesson plans, the story section and the seasonal decorations up so come hell or high water I can deal with kids when they troop in on Thursday. Did still more work at home, trying to feel caught up.

The high point was a good garage sale sponsored by a usually overpriced society charity thrift and a pool party and dinner at the home of some new golfing buddies. And now the weekend is almost over and all I have to show for it is a very tired feeling and a stiff neck from being hunched over my computer.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Nose to the Grindstone

The alarm shrills at 6am and I am dragging by 8pm. First day back I got roped into helping with new teacher inservice which did wonders for PR but nothing for my to do list. The tech coach & tech spec weren't on campus so I galloped from one computer to another trying to solve e-mail & computer woes or come up with alternative solutions. The only things that got checked off my own list were changing out the flags, finishing the unpacking and cleaning up a batch of Marc records. I am feeling most UNREADY for the first day and fear I'll be putting in some Saturday hours. My to-do list is growing instead of shrinking. This is not a good thing. Most discouraging.

The few hours I was home was spent packing up the E-Bay and Amazon books. The Memory Books from our trip went into the mail and I hope everyone likes them. I'm beginning to think I need something in my life other than books!

Day two was spent at the Library In-Service, which as always was chock full of information, much of which is rocking and rolling around my brain in a most unprocessed state. This is the year I'm going to have to go the 3 hole punch, note book route since we are re-doing how we are designing lessons and many trees are giving up their lives for the cause. The best part is always seeing all my colleagues and exchanging tips and tricks. Sometimes I think the breaks are the most informative times!

Did treat myself to a trip to Blue Willow books - one of the last independent bookstores in Houston. It's not on any of my usual routes so I rarely make it there. Such a fun place - bought two new "first day" books to start out the year. The owner loves literature and it shows. No junky TV tie in books in her displays - she goes for the good quality literature with seasonal tie ins. So much having something other than books in my life!

Tomorrow is present the Library Resources Page day to the new teachers. Those poor folks have already endured 2 days of in-services and are most likely on some serious brain overload. There is so much on the page that they can use to make life easier for themselves but I don't know if they will be able to remember much of what we say. Hopefully we can impress upon them that their librarian is their best friend.

Note to self - get a double venti latte to ensure "perky".

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Hot, Hot, Hot......

Hot, humid, sticky, wet, steaming...all adjectives that describe Houston's weather this weekend. Trotted off to Office Depot for their Teacher Appreciation Breakfast - free food, some free goodies and 10% off on all purchases. Then to Salvation Army in the hopes they were having a book table box sale. They were but slim, slim pickings - all religious books which I know nothing about. Home to sort, toss and deal with e-mail. Have my calendars sorted out so I do feel a bit more under control - I have all my booksales listed. According to Booksale Finder it's going to be a busy autumn. The next step is to make a list a'la Besty Ray.

Still fiddling around with E-Bay books, moving some to Amazon, consigning others to the half price box. Amazon is proving to be brisker than E-bay which is quite a switch.

Cooked a REAL dinner tonight - it's time to stop eating everything that comes across the pike and think less and no fried! The weight I took off prior to Europe came back, which I suspected it would since I indulged in cheese and chocolate. Of course saying no to sweets will be tricky now that work is about to start again!

My Beloved played golf on both Sat. and Sunday and is feeling the heat a bit. I'm laying off on Dr. orders, but given the heat, I honestly don't mind to much!

And oh, it's going to hurt when that alarm blasts forth tomorrow morning!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Back to work - sorta...

Well the day is approaching...I went up to school today, just to have a look around and dump some of the STUFF I've collected over the summer. The carpet cleaners had come and gone and as always, everything was piled up higgley piggely. It will take at least an hour to put all the chairs back and such like. And why, do they always manage to leave the spots behind? I now know them like old friends - the one by the door is from a spaghetti celebration lunch and the one behind the circulation desk is compliments of computer tech who practices "do as I say and not as I do" when it comes to coffee. School was empty but it was very early. Tomorrow school is closed which is nice, that way I needn't feel guilty about not being there. Of course I could be, but there won't be an A/C and suffering is not on my agenda.

I am feeling overwhelmed and totally disorganized.... I must sit down, put things on my calendars and make a list. I will still be overwhelmed but at least I'll know what's causing the landslide. Plus, I can cross things off and feel accomplished and course lists appeal to my type A personality!

Stopped by Library Media to say hello and catch up on the news. Always good to see the friendly folks there. Lots of new librarians on board, and new challenges what with funding cuts and increased emphasis on teacher librarian collaboration.

Hit a couple of thrifts on the way home - no real finds but some ok stuff. Went to a new coffee shop to release another Bookcrossing book - and picked up one for myself!

Home with the Democratic Convention on TV. Tonight is John Kerry's acceptance speech. It's being over analyzed to death and he has yet to set foot on the podium. I miss the old conventions, with the fraction fights and drama as to who would get the actual nomination. Now it is a done deal, so the convention is nothing but a 4 day infomercial. The graphics are more sophisticated and the budgets are bigger but the intent is the same. Convince people they really need and want something they really could very well live without.

Ollie, the No Maintance Kitty Posted by Hello

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Last Thriftcom of the Summer

My thrifting buddy and I went forth to our last thriftcon of the summer - 
 headed to the southwest portion of Houston,  home to a mini United Nations of cultures and some of the worst drivers in the city.  It was half price clothing day at the Salvation Army and the place was wall to wall kids,  all of whom were bored and playing with very LOUD toys.  However it was worse at Value Village where they were racing the kiddy cars up and down the aisles while their parents paid them no attention.  I am not exactly anticipating the new school year with baited breath.

Pickings were good though - a box of assorted books, 2 of which have already sold on Amazon, some almost new Cole Haan shoes,  couple of shirts and assorted stuffed animals for school.  Very pretty, hand made pottery serving dish with lid. And I found one of my thrifting Holy Grails - Pampered Chef Stoneware.  This time it was a loaf pan, brand new, never used. Can't decide whether to keep it or e-bay it.

Besides the final thriftcon, it was also the week for my final culture trip.  Culture Buddy and I trotted off to the Fine Arts museum to see a Diane Arbus retrospective.  Many of the pictures were familiar but some very new.  The exhibit included her notes and portions of her diaries and letters.  Her photos are odd and she was even odder.  The comments she made about the birth of her daughters and how she felt about them were both chilling and unsettling. How very sad to feel that alone and that unconnected in the world. 

Monday, July 26, 2004


....I managed to add some links to my blog.  Took me 2 hours of trial and error - with may more of the latter than the former.  HTML is indeed tricky.  I felt most accomplished when I finally triumphed.  I now have links to our Trip Pictures, my E-Bay Page and BookCrossing.  Bookcrossing was very nice and even provided a cut n' paste text block so I got their cute little graphic too. 

Hauled book cullings to Half Price Books - the Montrose location, which is my favorite one. The clientele and the staff are always so eclectic; plus they pay more than the suburban locations. Of course, as always I spent more than they gave me, but there are 2 less boxes of books on the pool table so it was still a successful trip.

My Beloved actually wanted to go work out, so we meet at the gym and then had lunch together. Very nice surprise and break in the day.

A Day's Work Posted by Hello

Lots of odds and ends today since TIME IS RUNNING OUT.  Sorted back to school things, sent out e-mails about the blog and our trip to folks, mailed packages, planted more flowers.  Even cooked dinner.  A very accomplished sort of day in a low key putter kind of way.

Front Steps Posted by Hello

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Attempted to bring some fresh energy to our little garden plot by adding some flowers - Another Place in Time , my favorite nursery celebrated Christmas in July so I took advantage of their reduced prices. Of course I had to check out their scratch & dent section and found a pile of flags. I use them to decorate the library so I'm always on the lookout for new additions to the collection.

Front Garden  Posted by Hello

Put in long hours shuffling the book inventory for to Amazon - it's been a very tedious project but it is almost done. Amazon sales have shot up, though so it appears to be worthwhile. So far 26 books sold in just one week. That's a new record.   6 bags of books are out the door to Half Price books.  Granted, they will only give me pennies on the dollar but the empty space is more important than the money.

Sarah McLachlan was in town and she's a long time favorite of My Beloved so of course we had tickets. Good show, but the crowd made me feel oh so old! Most of my concert experience has been among the big 2 of Lesbian music - k.d. Lang and Melissa Etheridge , the crowd always does include lots of young baby dykes, but the gray hair and birkenstock set is always well represented. The Sarah McLachlan crowd had a bit of that, as well as a  sprinkling of queens but so many 20somethings. Strappy little tank tops, slip dresses, spiky heels and more surgerically enhanced breasts than I've ever seen other than on the Playboy Channel.  There were a few out of control screamers and the ubiquitous cell phone users  and  it was a very good show, with a singer who really enjoyed what she was doing and wanted to give the crowd their moneys worth. The non stop cell usage never ceases to amaze me, why spend $65 for a ticket and then talk on gab during most of the concert?  This 24/7 need to be in touch and top of things is something that I just don't understand.  I am on the wrong side of the generation gap and I don't like it!

Friday, July 23, 2004

An errand running I shall go

Yesterday was a day of frustrations interspersed with a few pleasant moments. I somehow misplaced My Beloved's credit card which resulted in much wasted time in searching for, not finding it and then canceling it. What an annoyance.

However did have lunch with my thrifting buddy and 2 other friends from the Betsy Tacy list at Baba Yagas, which is a Houston institution. In Houston, any restaurant that has survived 30+ years, the oil bust and the Enron debacle qualifies as an institution. Good good - lots of innovative vegetarian selections and even better conversation.

Onward to brave the Katy Freeway, get my glasses fixed (AGAIN) and to Target for cleaner. I've discover Method Cleaners and I really like the way the products smell. I have no clue if they are any better than the stuff at the dollar store - they probably aren't but the packaging is so much more attractive.

Braved the construction on Loop 610 to get more meds for Leia the High Maintance kitty- it's harder & harder to get to Gulf Coast Vet since the entrance keeps getting lost in orange barrels and the piles of dirt.

Leia the High Maintance Kitty Posted by Hello

I MUST start thinking about school again - boo - hiss so I got a stack of posters so I can make my signs. I really should go to work next week but just can't muster the motivation. Somehow the entire day was gone with nothing to show for it but a half empty gas tank.

I did treat myself to the new Jimmy Buffet CD - License to Chill. Haven't listened to it yet since My Beloved is not fond of the Man from the Gulf Coast, but he'll keep me company on my next round of errand running.

Busied myself this morning packing books, getting some books ready to release via Bookcrossing and putting together a care package for a soldier in Iraq. Someone on my thriftlist passed along the most interesting site - I'm going to try to send out one book a week. I certainly don't agree with the war or the government but the soldiers are another thing entirely. They need all the support they can get, and besides, librarians are supposed to put books in people's hands! I registered all the books with Bookcrossing, just to see what happens.

Still slogging through my / Amazon books. I'm so disgusted with half com that I'm putting most of my inventory on Amazon and experimenting with ProSeller. It is very tedious work but at least I have new BBC DVD to divert me - Anna Karenina, staring Nicola Pagett who was so lovely in UpStairs DownStairs. I really do want to finish this chore before I go back work again and loose all my free time.