Saturday, March 25, 2006

There is No Joy in Mudville

Texas lost to LSU in overtime.

At least the grocery store won't be as crowed next weekend.

Clues to March Madness

Clues to March Madness

I’m not a basketball fan but March Madness is still impacts my life.
Despite attending two sports powerhouse universities (Florida State and the University of Texas) I don’t like college basketball or football. I think the idea that these sports are “amateur” is ludicrous and that the programs are nothing more than training programs for pro sports. College Basketball has an especially poor record when it comes to actually graduating their players.

However, March Madness is everywhere, especially since the University of Texas made it to The Elite Eight.

The internet connection at work slowed to a snails pace.. So slow that I couldn’t use it to teach lessons, order books or anything else legitimate. It was district wide so teachers started to howl. Turns out folks (mostly in the administration building) were watching the games on streaming video. Needless to say this did not sit well with those of us in the trenches who don’t have time to go to the bathroom, much less sit in front of our computers and watch basketball.

The grocery store was full of men this afternoon buying beer and junk food. Massive quantities of beer and very large bags of chips & pretzels. Frito Lay and Budweiser stock must be up by 5 points. The lines were long and the men were intent and on a mission. They needed to get their substance and get home and hunker down and personally cheer their team to victory.

Never mind that the game is in Atlanta.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My BetsyTacy list ca

My Betsy-Tacy list came down with a case of the doldrums so someone started up this Snaphot MeMe to get the creative juices (and the posts) rolling again.

I too seem to have a case of the doldrums – to much to do, not enough time to do it. Way to much stuff piled up at work – the un-cataloged books , science equipment and math manipulatives are taking over the back room. My E-bay office is a mess and I’ve 12 boxes of unlisted books in the garage. The garden is quickly being overrun with weeds and needs a couple of hours of serious attention. The phone keeps ringing and ringing and ringing. The neighbor’s dogs have a bad case of the non stop barks.

I’ve got the doldrums when it comes to blog postings too, so I’m going to borrow my list servs MeMe.

Her Little Majesty: The Life of Queen Victoria by Carolly Erickson. Found this in a scruffy little thrift shop in Phoenix. I’m enjoying it so much that I’m going to keep it. Not that I need another royalty biography but I’m such a sucker for these kind of books. .


Red long sleeved shirt, kaki pants, Sperry Topsiders sneakers and my new Frank Lloyd Wright watch. I dress for comfort, not for fashion. Earrings have been removed. Today’s choice was dangly purple crystals. All of sudden I’m wearing earrings again – the kids are school have noticed.

Baked potato soup with bacon, green onions and cheddar cheese. I make a very good baked potato soup if I say so myself.


Tired – standard feeling these days. Getting up each morning is getting harder and harder. Is this old age or is this another symptom of the doldrums?


Cape Cod White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn. That stuff is addictive.


Packing Amazon and E-Bay books so I can mail them tomorrow. Or listing books. Or re-listing all the books in my E-bay store that unlisted themselves earlier this week. Or read professional journals. Or sample books. Or folding the laundry. Or making my lunch. It’s so depressing to still be packing a lunch box at the age of 53.


Going garage sailing. And perhaps planting some herbs and flowers in my front bed so the yard won’t look so weed infested.


Packed books and spent 4 hours to the phone talking to people in India as we tried to figure out why my new Palm Pilot wouldn’t sync with my Outlook Calendar. Mercury is so retrograde. And worked the school carnival. Weekend, what weekend?


Boston Legal, with one ear, My Beloved is addicted. I can take it or leave it, but Candace Bergen is a pleasant change from the usual TV anorexic bimbo.

I’m not going to pass this MeMe on to anyone specific but if you want to do a snapshot of yourself, then take it and run with it!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sun City

Sun City

We’re in Phoenix, my beloved is playing golf and I’ve amused myself with some friends from my Betsy –Tacy list who enjoy garage sales and thrift stores as much as do.

Thursday we set out for Sun City, which was worth the trip, even without all the goodies we found.  What an eerie, Stepford Family quality the place has.  There are no children no young people at all, they aren’t allowed.  No schools, no playgrounds, no swing sets or tricycles on the lawns.  Everyone we saw was white, tanned and elderly.

Men are men, regardless of their age and when it comes to toys they must have the latest and greatest.   In this case, the toys are golf carts.  We saw one particularly dapper gentleman tooling along in a brushed chrome number with shiny chrome hubcaps.  Took “Pimp My Ride” to a new level.

The houses are the epitome of “Little Boxes on the Hillside (or since we’re in Phoenix the sand).  All looking just like and frozen in a time wrap dating back to when they were  first built.  The first wave, built in the 1960s are all flat roofed with shag carpet and  harvest gold and avocado green appliances. The second wave, done in the 1980s are just a bit bigger and had lots of fake wood paneling.  I understand there is now a third wave of Sun City McMansions, but we didn’t make it that far.  It’s to new to have many estate sales.

We encountered flocked wallpaper, gold gilt upholstery, pink and turquoise tile and shiny Formica flecked counters.  The furniture had a similar frozen in time look. Sun City residents mostly hail from the Mid West, and acquired their furniture before the South West desert look was chic.   Overstuffed chairs, ornate pseudo Victorian chairs, “Early American” sofas– complete with hideous plaid or floral upholstery.  Large TV consoles and I lost count of the number of entertainment centers containing record players.

Phoenix is in the midst of the drought and new houses don’t have lawns  - they have heat tolerant desert plants.  Not so in the first Sun City dwellings.  The residents seem to have done their best to replicate their former homes complete with lawns.  Only the lawns have long since died and have been replaced by artificial putting green cloth.  And a very bright green it is too. It’s Saint Patrick’s Day every day in Sun City.   The 1980s home tend to be of the cactus and clay pot school of decorating – much more environmentally friendly.

The estate sales were the most fascinating.  It was an exercise in sociology to see what people choose to bring with them.  I was amazed at the number of furs.  Not new furs, but old 1950s mink stoles and those gruesome fur pieces where the minks are all biting each other on the butt.  Hanging in the closet at one house was a WW II era mink coat – padded shoulders and all.  Just the sort of the thing the Andrews Sisters would wear on a USO tour.  It had a monogram  and came from a furrier in New York City.  It was also very, very tiny and judging from the polyester double knit pant suits for sale it’s owner outgrew it years and years ago.  Oh what stories that coat would tell and why did its owner bring it with her to the desert?

We were looking for books and they provide the best snapshot of who once lived in the house.   Just about every sale had a local cookbook or two from the owners’ hometown.
One home had a shelf full of “how to write” books, another had shelves of theology titles.
Just about every book every issued by a book club was to be had as well as many, many Readers Digest condensed books and National Geographic’s.  Some folks knitted, some did needlework and many, many, many  were golfers.   Our favorite house had art books – not coffee table art books, but technical how to draw books, all dating from the 1940s and 1950s.  Tossed in with those were children’s books, mostly from the 1960s – nice, hardbacked with the dust jacket children’s books from a time when the only kiddie lit people owned were Little Golden Books.  

The saddest houses were the houses with no books at all.  

“A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them.”
Horace Mann

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Musings From Phoenix

We’re in Phoenix, AZ – it’s my Spring Break (Yeah for Spring Break!) and My Beloved has a golf school on her agenda. It just happened to be in Phoenix and just happened to take place during my Spring Break. Clever woman, My Beloved.

Assorted musings include:
Woman with large rumps should not wear Capri pants and stiletto sandals. They resemble a watermelon balancing on two toothpicks.

The checkers at the Fry’s on Baseline Road in Phoenix are delightfully friendly and helpful. Such a refreshing change from the bored, with attitude teenagers at my local Kroger.

People who frequent the library for free internet access via the library computers are sorely lacking in the social skills and will not hesitate to bite one’s head off at any imagined slight or honest mistake. I am very grateful I have my own computer.

In conjunction with that, free wi-fi is one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century.

And further more, I am very grateful I no longer work in a public library so I don't have to deal with clientele who don't want to give up their computer terminal because their time is up

Why did it take us only 3 hours to fly to Phoenix but then take 2 hours to retrieve one’s luggage and rental car? The Phoenix airport has ; in its infinite wisdom built a central rental car terminal. It’s Aggie Architecture at its best - the ramps are so tight and narrow that the shuttle buses they use can’t navigate it.

No matter what town I visit I always seem to find the day-labors site. Must have something to do with my fondness for thrift shops.

Phoenix in March is heavenly – the temps are a prefct mid 70 with not a smidgeon of humidity.

Phoenix & Scottsdale must have strict signage laws. Not only are the buildings low – I’ve seen few about 4 stories, the signs are also low to the ground. Very refreshing to eye after Houston’s visual pollution. Everything is painted in desert blending colors too – nothing garish or gaudy. The freeway noise muffling walls are inlaid with the most interesting Southwestern designs. Houston should take some lessons.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Book Sailing We Will Go...

A Book Sailing We Will Go….

Woo- Hoo! I’m on Spring Break and the book sale season has begun. We kicked it off with the annual Boerne Library Sale, followed up by the next day with a Mini-Monster book sale in Austin.

The Boerne sale begins on Friday at noon so I started my Spring Break 1 day early. My principal knows my book buying forays add hundreds of dollars to books to the library so she is lenient about awarding personal days.

We set forth at 6am and sailed into New Braunfels by 9:30, just in time for the thrift stores to open up. Not much in the way of goodies but such is life. Hopefully no scores meant the book sale would be good to us. Book Sellers are perpetual optimists.

Boerne is a small town, about an hour north of San Antonio that for some reason has a stellar sale. Well laid out, well organized, not to pricy and in a building that is big enough to accommodate the crowds. Boerne is a well-heeled area, catering to retirees who are enjoying the good life. There is a also a population of ex-hippies, artsy crafty people who love the Texas Hill Country - not only is it beautiful, but it is also the vortex of all things liberal in Texas. Overall, it adds up to a population of avid readers.

By 11:30 the line was 50 people long and growing. Most book sellers know each other by sight so there was lots of chatting going on, talk of past finds, future finds, the fate of, whether or not it was worth it to open an e-bay store and acceptable book sale behavior.

It is a hot topic in the book-selling world. Technology has radically changed bookselling, what with the Internet and Scoutpal almost anyone can become a bookseller – at least for a little while.

In the old days book sellers relied on notebooks and their memories, which were prodigious and photogenic. Scoutpal enables one to scan or type in an ISBN and instantly find the value of a book according to Amazon. One does not need to know anything about books; one just needs to know how to type. At least that is what they think.

Dubbed the “scan monsters” they are considered lower than low. Many good booksellers use Scoutpal - I for one swear by it. However, we also have an intrinsic knowledge of books and use it as an additional tool, but not as our only tool. We go thought the tables, book by book, selecting what we want and setting them aside to check later when we cull prior to buying.

The scan monsters don’t operate like that. They sweep the contents of an entire table into boxes and carry the boxes to a corner where they scan every title and toss the discards, helter skelter into a pile. To them books are commodities. Period. Often they operate in a family – 3 or 4 of them grab up armloads of books while several others scan away in a corner. They horde stacks and stacks of books and allow no one else near them.

One of the worst offenders lives in Houston, nobody knows her name but everybody knows her. She arrived and the buzz started as folks pointed her out and recounted horror stories of her past behavior.

At the stroke of noon one the sale organizers opened the door and climbed on a chair to make some announcements. After the usual thank you for comings she stated that, based on past behaviors, they had made some changes in the rules. Anyone caught hording books, cleaning off tables or being rude or greedy would be asked to leave.

The line broke into wild cheers and applause.

Just like Queen Victoria, the Scan Monster was not amused.