Sunday, August 31, 2014


So, one of the things I do is help a colleague with setup and grading on one of his online classes.  Friday, his class was working on Whitman's "From Pent-Up Aching Rivers."  All they had to do was write a short paragraph describing what they thought the poem meant.  And one took me five minutes, context, and reading parts out loud to figure out what she was trying to say.  The sentence that gave me so many problems was "He throughout the rule book." 

What she meant was "threw out."

That's way worse than "wah-lah" for "voila."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Random Ramblings

The imp has started bringing home correctly done work, with stickers and good job written on them.  He's started coming home daily with green or better on his calendar (with one notable exception, where the teacher said he'd been very good all day, right up until the end when he seemed to start feeling bad, and told one of his classmates that they were annoying him--his allergy med had worn off, and it's ragweed season).  I'm very, very pleased with him.

His speech is better, from having spent days with other kids who speak more clearly.  I had the feeling that he'd simply mastered it to his satisfaction, and refused to try harder on it.  His teacher has noticed the same, but still feels (as do I) that he would benefit from one-on-one instruction and speech therapy.  He's already benefited from one on one help with fine motor control.  And our adorable little imp doesn't really need his Grotto grips anymore. 

Yesterday morning, dropping him off, his teacher described him as a wonderful little boy, very loving, very sweet, and very well behaved.  All I could think was, "Is she talking about my son?"  Apparently she was--our reinforcing of her authority has worked.  And worked well.  She actually thanked us for backing her up. 

And the pixie is sad because there's two mornings a week that she isn't going to school. 

Although...I got an email from her preschool teacher last week, reminding parents that children her age need 10-12 hours of sleep per night, and that preschool starts very early.  It bothers me that it was necessary for that email to go out.  Bedtimes are important.  For both my kids.  And it's one of the things I'm strictest about.  It...bothers me that parents apparently don't.  Either they don't know, or don't care.  I don't know which it is, but either bothers me. 

I've been working on getting their old frame jumper cleaned up.  It was a sixty dollar piece of equipment--and one of my colleagues, of whom I am quite fond, is due to have a baby girl in December, a few days after the pixie's birthday.

Shadow the cat has decided that the perfect sleepy spot is the little girl's high chair/booster seat (much like this one, but with the padding stripped out, and without the tray, which puts her at exactly the right height at the table), as of yesterday.  When the pixie was actually using it, the cat curled up in the jumper seat and slept there. 

Cricket has been very jumpy, lately.  And clingy.  She's too big to really snuggle down on my chest like she did when she was a kitten, so she plants her fuzzy butt on the arm of the chair where I sit, then lays on my arm, and puts her front end on my chest, with her head tucked under my chin.

Mom tells me that the dog isn't settling.  She randomly attacks the other dogs, but the way she's describing it makes me think alpha dog asserting her place.  Because both of my mom's dogs are solid beta dogs.

And neither my mother nor my sister are capable of asserting themselves as the dog's alphas.  And something my dog is smart enough to see.

I planned a treat for my students with the due dates around the first paper.  Yesterday was a freewrite day...and Monday is Labor Day, which we all have off.  I told them that I count emailing a valid check in for where they're writing, and the ones with very long drives left Thursday night to spend the weekend at home.

And my office hours have been spent grading a colleague's online lit class, then writing.  Writing has gone...strangely.  I've been having real difficulties getting the chapters out, because I've felt pulled in a dozen directions at once.  But...I did get two chapters written.  So it is happening.  Just slower than I'd have liked.

Friday, August 29, 2014


The imp had a good day at school, and came home with stickers and smiley faces on his work.  He also had a meeting with and assessment from the speech therapist that's employed by the private school--one not connected at all with any government entity.  The speech therapist has a master's degree in linguistics, speech acquisition, and speech therapy, rather than a degree in social work or education with a few continuing education credits in speech therapy. 

And now?  Now, we have a three day weekend.  Three days where I don't have to worry about his behavior in school.  Next week is a four-day week for him, two for the pixie--who hasn't really had behavior issues. 

FFOT: To US District Judge Clark Whaddoups--

You, sir, are an unmitigated fool and an ass.  You, sir, in your fucking retarded fucking ruling that polygamy is protected under an individual's first amendment rights to freedom of religion, have sentenced us to challenges by goat-fuckers flooding the country through our open borders to the south. 

It isn't just the fundamentalist Mormons who practice polygamy in their religion, you mouth-breathing fuckwit.

May your daughter (should you have one) marry into the harem of a Muslim man who believes in the gentle corrections dictated by Shari'a law, without knowing what she's getting into.  And may you realize, at that moment, that it's your own fucking fault for the fucking stupid legal decision you made that opened the door for it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Scary" is right.

So.  A couple of experts are predicting a correction in the market of up to 60%.  As in: the market will fall by up to 60%. 

Let's look at that claim a little more closely.  The reasons being cited, in specific, are the Fed's holding interest rates down to near (or below) zero, and all of the printing money quantitative easing that has gone on. 

Given that, and given the fact that our economy is not improving, and the fact that we are seeing real inflation in the things we use most (food, fuel, dry goods whose costs are driven up by shipping costs which are driven up by fuel costs), and 60% starts to seem like it's a little on the low side. 

An example: in 2000, I could buy a 1lb bag of lentils (my favorite legume) for $0.58.  In 2010, that cost had risen to $0.98/lb.  This year, it looks like I'm paying $1.18/lb. 

And this is the inflation on a food which isn't popular.  Meat has gone up more than that, as has milk, cheese, sugar, and frozen packaged dinners. 

Gas has sharply increased in price in the last fifteen years.  And I am not counting the year or so during which OPEC was fighting amongst themselves, and flooded the market with oil, bringing gas prices to below a dollar a gallon.  No, I'm only counting since 2000, when we've had gas at $2/gallon.  Yesterday, in SW MO, gas was selling at $3.27/gallon for 89 octane. 

I will admit, part of the sharp rise in real inflation--the kind felt by your middle and lower classes--has been caused by sharp rises in minimum wage (which drives up prices that stores must charge to be able to afford their workers), but that isn't all of it, nor even the worst of it. 

No, the worst part of the whole situation is that the number of dollars out there in circulation have risen sharply, which contributes more to the sharp rise in prices (which points to the dollar's decreased purchasing power) than the sharp rise of minimum wage. 

This all adds up to a crash that will make 1929 look tame, because the dollar is not linked to anything but political promises.  And we all know how reliable those are. 

Yes, ladies and gents: we're fucked.  Those who are retired are fucked harder than those of us who are fairly young.  Those of us who are carrying debt are fucked harder yet, because the Federal Reserve will have to raise interest rates...which means debts will suddenly become far, far more expensive.  Worst yet are people who are retired, in poor health, and relying on the government for income and health care.  And those who are living in high poverty/high welfare rate areas, but aren't on welfare themselves.

Because if the rest of us lose out, where will the dollars government spends on that bunch come from?  When our incomes decrease and/or dry up because of an abrupt economic contraction, so does the government's tax income, because no government is capable of producing their own income.  They take ours.

And how do you think that the welfare leaches will react when the spigot runs dry? 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oh, for fuck's sake!

So.  Obama's minions are attempting, once again, to take over the roles of parents in telling kids what to do, what to buy, and how to live.  This time, the EPA cut loose with a PSA telling kids to shop at thrift stores for school clothes, to use recycled products as school supplies, to use paper and plastic bags taped to the outside of their books in leiu of the cool book covers available at office supply stores and Walmarts, and to not take more than one packet of salt, pepper, or ketchup, or more than one napkin.  

I get my kids new clothes.  I remember having nothing that came new from the store (except underwear, which my mother rightfully thought gross getting second hand), and I remember how badly I resented that. 

I also remember the attempts at bullying that only failed because I've got thicker skin than a rhinoceros, as well as a harder head.

I ate school lunches every day--my sister and I got free lunches, and sometimes we couldn't afford to take lunch even if it was something we didn't like.  And even when we could, Mom couldn't be arsed to help us pack one.  Sometimes the only thing that made them palatable was a butt-ton of salt, pepper, ketchup and mustard.  Many days, the lunch ladies would remind us to grab several of the tiny, inadequate napkins because the food was going to be messy. 

My son, picky eater that he is, takes peanut butter--no jelly; he doesn't like it--sandwiches for lunch every day.  Three slices of bread, slathered in honey peanut butter and folded over.  Takes two sandwich bags.  He also takes a juice box, which gets thrown away.  

Yes, I covered my books with paper bags that I then covered with doodles. There were no book covers available, and no money available for them. 

When it gets to that point, I'm going to let my kids pick out their book covers.  Yes, they'll have to pay for more than just the basic out of their allowance, but the options will be there.  And if they'd rather use the big roll of white butcher paper we have, and cover their books with doodles, that'll be fine, too.

However.  Having the EPA sticking its nose in to tell kids to buy second hand clothes, use recycled trash products, and to take only ONE packet of each condiment and napkins reeks.  "You shouldn't want nice things.  If you do, you're an elitist, and shame on you."*  "You should accept trash for your belongings."  "You shouldn't take [blogger's edit: make?] more than your fair share." 

Who the fuck do they think they are?  The nation's parents?  Seriously?  The only ones who have the authority to talk to my kids like this are my husband and me.  Maybe their teachers, depending on exactly what is under discussion. 

*Tell that to the race-baiters (and white trash, from my experience, which can be just as bad in the "Oh, so since I'm poor, I'm not good enough for name brands?" attitude) in the free shit army whining about being asked to take RoseArt supplies--which I liked better than Crayola, when I was younger--that Angel blogged about.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Yet another good day.

Blue, today (on the imp's calendar--one up the scale from green).  So, the boy is well on his way to having a good week.  If he gets green or better for the rest of the week, he gets a reward. 

As for what I've accomplished...I've managed to get the laundry sorted, and the kids' clothes hamper put back into their bathroom.  Now, I just have to put their clothes away (since I've already done mine).  I got the tops of the three shelf bookcases in the living room cleared, and got the kids' books put up there, instead of stacked inside the top shelf of one (which caused avalanches daily).  We have two boxes of outgrown kid clothes to go to charity, and two big boxes of stuff to go back into storage, for now, with more to come out for sorting.

Got some other stuff sorted, too, and I have a stack of CDs 12 inches from my right knee that I need to get loaded into my laptop--everything from Metallica to Led Zeppelin (and CCR and Steppenwolf) to Kenny Wayne Shepherd to Apocalyptica. 

I still have dishes to load, and coffee pot parts to clean for a fresh pot tomorrow morning, but I think that's about it for today.

Tomorrow, I've got classes to teach.  Hoping I can get to bed early so that 6:30 doesn't seem so much like torture.

Monday, August 25, 2014

kids are abed...

It's been a busy afternoon.  The imp came home with his calendar colored purple--that's one short of being the best possible day.  He got stickers/stars on two worksheets he brought home, and so we saw fit to reward him: we took him to his favorite fast food place (Culver's--better, by far, than any other burger chain that I've found) for dinner, and he got to watch Top Gear with his daddy. 

We also snuck in time to go to Sam's Club--parents are responsible for providing the kindergarten class with snacks twice a month, so we got cheese filled cheese crackers: a package of forty little packages.  There are sixteen in the class, so...yeah.  One package equals snack time twice for the whole class.

Better yet, we got the imp set up with a speech therapist.  He's now ready, and has the motivation to actually pay attention and try.  And the speech therapist has a master's degree in that, not a degree in education with a class in it, or a social worker with a professional development seminar.  Yes, she's going to cost money, money we wouldn't have to spend were we willing to put up with "services" offered through the local school districts.  However.  I'm more than willing to pay for higher quality therapy than we could get for free.  The flyer and referral from his teacher to this individual came at a spectacularly good time--I was gearing up for a speech therapist search that we'd be paying for out of pocket, since I am not willing to deal with the local public schools.

So, yes.  It's been a long day.  A busy day.  A productive day. 

Overall, a good day.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Random ramblings

The imp had instructions to color his day yellow, yesterday, even after having hit the other kid in the face.  He still doesn't listen to instructions for the whole class.  Guess what we'll be working on this weekend? 

His homework for the weekend is beginning to memorize a bible verse (I strongly approve of memory work--no matter if it's bible verses, or poetry--because it works the whole brain.  I just happened to suck at it in school), and going over the vowel and consonant sounds in a small beginning phonics booklet.  So, while Odysseus takes the pixie out for her treat for having been a good girl, I'll work with the imp on his homework. 

The pixie has brought home consistently good behavior scores--best for the preschool 3's is three stickers, and every day has gotten three stickers.  We're incredibly proud of that, and even more proud that she listened well enough during her preschool Spanish class that she brought home an award certificate for it. 

So, since she's been so good, Odysseus is going to take her to the padded play area inside the local, air conditioned mall for her to be permitted to play with other kids for a while (or just run crazy if there aren't any small children for her to play with). 

We're still trying to find a new routine for the school year.  I think we've got the morning routine down pat--up at 6:30, dress, breakfast, play or read after they're done eating, and out the door by a quarter 'til eight.  I have office hours--in my classroom, since the admin twits decided to move their classes without telling anyone because the room was "too small"--until eleven, and then class until 1:00 (two fifty minute periods back to back) on MWF, and the pixie has classes on MWF until noon (about when Odysseus gets out of class).  I don't know precisely what Daniel's class routine is, but I know he has, at different times, art, music, Spanish, and PE, as well as two recesses and lunch.  And a rest time. 

It's after school that I'm struggling with, and that's partly because plans depend on the imp's behavior.  Green days means he's permitted to watch TV; yellow or orange means he's not.  Red means he's not permitted to play, period, and has to sit in the kitchen by himself quietly until supper, then shower, then bed. 

The imp, in particular, needs routine.  The pixie is a lot more flexible, but the imp, like his daddy, doesn't like change and disruption, and doesn't have many resources to deal with it except bad behavior, since he's not quite six.

The cats have not appreciated having all of us disappear for three mornings a week, and have been skittish and unhappy.  Shadow has expressed that by trading a few traits with Cricket: Shadow gets clingy and affectionate, and Cricket goes poof.  Both cats try to comfort upset imp when he's being disciplined by being sent to sit in the kitchen.

The dog is still with my mother.  She's happy, for the most part--she's got friends to play with (one at a time, or she gets jealous and attacks the interloper), a huge yard to run in, a wading pool to splash in (I know--you'd swear the little Scotty dog was part Lab).  She's got people to love on her (though she does get jealous and bite when they stop to go do something else--something that worries me).  But she still gets depressed and mopes when we visit, then have to leave without her. 

I have been having issues with FlashPlayer, lately.  It'll eat memory like nobody's business, and wind up taking up more memory than everything else put together.  I keep having to tell the computer to kill it--sometimes three or four times per online session.  I don't know if it's an issue with the recent Adobe updates, my laptop's available memory (or rather, the lack of--I've only got two gigabites for the laptop; Odysseus's has double the memory, and no issues), or what.  All I know is that it's getting really irritating.

Because it freezes everything, until I kill it.

As for classes, I've walked my students halfway through the first paper.  We started with topics on Wednesday, and moved through working on thesis statements yesterday.  Next week, we fill out the organization worksheet, and then go through development.  There will be a freewrite day, for them to bring a laptop and work on actually writing the paper, in class, with my help.  And then, we have Labor Day, and have it off.  The first paper is due the Friday after. 

Which is good--it gives me about two and a half hours three days a week to work on writing in peace and quiet.  I finished with chapter 27 yesterday of Fire and Forge, and started work on chapter 28.  It's up to right around 74,000 words (around 236 pages in the same print size as the Modern Gods series, of which this is a part), with about five chapters to go.  Chapters have been been most often between 2500 and 3000 words, so that should put the final word count somewhere around 86 to 90,000 words for the first draft...which I plan to finish in the next two weeks, before I'm swamped with grading.

After that, I'm taking a short break and setting Fire and Forge aside, before I go through and edit a print copy.  I plan to start drafting whatever comes up next in November.  See how much I can get written before classes start back up in January. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Conversations in the kitchen...

Me: Son, why did you hit the other little kid?
Imp: [tears]
Me: Did they hit you?
Imp: No... [more tears]
Me: Take something?
Imp: No...[more tears]
Me: Make fun of you?
Imp: [crying accelerates] Yes!
Me: Why?
Imp: My talking.
Me: Because of the way you talk, or because you never shut up?
Imp: The way I talk! [positively bawling, at this point]

And at that point, I gave him a snack, and went off to ponder advice.  About half an hour later:

Me: [sitting on the kitchen floor] Son, come here.
Imp: What?
Me: No hitting.  Not anybody. 
Imp: That boy hurt my tummy.
Me: You mean your heart?  Your feelings?
Imp: Yes, my feelings.
Me: You still don't hit.  You say "Well, God bless you, too."  And you don't talk to them, or play with them, or sit with them.  And then you go tell a teacher. 

Yes, the imp needs speech therapy.  Yes, he has needed speech therapy for a while.  Yes, we had him assessed, but he was totally uncooperative.  I figured that we'd have to let him experience this before he'd be willing to do the necessary work.

I love my son.  I love my son enough to break my own heart by letting him get into situations like this.  If he's permitted to fail now, he'll learn how to handle it, and he'll be a success later in life, while the little mouth-breathing spoiled-rotten neanderthal who made fun of him can't do anything more complicated than pushing an idiot stick* with a fifty-thousand dollar student debt hanging over his head.

*An idiot stick: A stick with a shovel, mop, or broom head on one end, and an idiot on the other.

...okay, seriously?

Got another email from school today about the imp's behavior.  Seems today, at lunch, he hit another little kid in the face, then tried to hide the fact that it happened, that the principal saw it happen, and that he was supposed to miss five minutes of recess for it from his teacher.

He doesn't get away with this kind of bullshit at home.  What the fuck is he thinking, acting like he thinks he should get away with it at school? 

I am...incredibly angry at him right now.  And he will hear about it when he gets home.

Thank God it's Friday, so I'll have two days he isn't pulling shit like this.

FFOT: getting sick.

So, the pixie caught something from one of the little snot-gobblers that she goes to preschool with last week.  About Tuesday night, I caught it.  I've spent two-thirds of the first week back to class sick.  And that can fuck off.

Here's hoping I don't lose my voice next week.  

How has everybody else's week been?  Sound off in the comments.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A bit better, today.

So, last night, after his very bad behavior day, the imp spent from the time he got home from school until the time he took a shower* and went to bed.  Nor was he permitted to play with his toys this morning.  Instead, he sat in the kitchen with his breakfast, and then on the couch with a book (until he hit his sister with it, and got sent back into the kitchen).  He got talked to by Mommy, then Daddy about what is acceptable behavior, and the minimum we expect from him while he's at school.

Something worked.  He had a green day today (about a C were I giving behavior letter grades--acceptable, but not great).  There are three colors above green, just as there are three below green, and when he gets above green, he gets a treat.

Yes, we have made that clear.  Yes, we will continue to emphasize that. 

No, I do not expect that it will work all the time.  He is, after all, my son.

On the upside, the imp came home telling us that three of his classmates (sixteen in the classroom) got orange or red days.  So at least it's not just him. 

And with the imp, one of the biggest influences on his behavior is routine: a solid routine means his behavior will be pretty good; a new or broken routine?  Yeah...not so much.  So, we've just got to be a bit patient, and emphasize what he should be doing at school (listening to the teacher, doing what he's told, not talking in class, etc.).

*Last night's shower was a first, for him.  I usually plonk him in the bath with bubble bath, and let him self-agitate; however, last night, I told him, "If you didn't stop playing when your teacher told you to, then you've played enough, and you can't play anymore today."  He was scared, at first, but then enjoyed it immensely.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Well, shit.

So, on Monday, my son brings home a calendar.  He's got a day colored in.  Twice.  Yellow, then orange over the top.  He'd behaved badly at school.  We forbade him from watching TV. 

Yesterday, he got a green calendar day.  That means he wasn't well behaved, but not badly behaved, either.  We let him watch TV last night.

So, today, the imp comes home, and Daddy's dragging tear-stained boy.  And frowning.  Not only did he not listen, not follow instructions, he flat refused to stop playing when it was time, and had a meltdown over being told that he was going to color his calendar day red.  Red is the worst one, the one where the teacher contacts the parents.

And, apparently, this happened fairly early in the day.  Because the email hit my inbox before I was done teaching (12:18 pm). Basically, her gentle explanation is that he "does not seem to be accustomed to listening to instructions and obeying them. Whether that is a by habit or a choice, I do not know. When instructed to "not talk while the teacher is talking, stay in your seat unless you have permission to be up, put your folder in your desk, stay in your place in line, put your crayons away, not run in class or in the building, etc.," he doesn't seem to hear and understand."

I am...very much not happy.  Not unhappy with the teacher, unhappy with the imp. 

He does listen and obey (for the most part) at home.  Instances of not doing so are quickly corrected.  I do not know how to do so for school, long after the fact.

There will be, at the very least, no TV tonight.  I'm trying to tame my temper down before I decide anything else. 

And, in the meantime, the imp is sitting in the kitchen, at his spot, facing into the cubby between the cabinet on his left, the wall in front, and the fridge on his right. 

I don't know what to do.  I simply don't know what to do.

Long morning already.

The pixie woke us up at 2:30.  She had peed the bed for the first time in months.  She's a little sick with a sore throat and cough, and has discovered that a sip of water will help. 

Unfortunately, she took a few too many, and I had to get up, change the sheet and blanket, while she cried and changed her panties.

Oh, and we need to replace her rubber sheet--it's ripped.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I am SO GLAD I wasn't drinking anything...

...when I ran across this on Angel's FB page:

If I had been drinking something, I'd've likely had to replace my keyboard.  Again.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Alrighty, then.

So, I used a study room this morning for office hours.  I headed up to my classroom right about classtime (got there a couple minutes early) and spotted two signs, one for each useless class scheduled in my room during my requested office hours, reading that the class had been moved because it'd gotten too big, and they'd gotten a bigger room.

Which made the front desk librarian even angrier than she already was, because these two admin twats didn't bother to tell the library that they were so doing. 

I get my preferred spot for office hours, at the times I wanted. 

I just wish there'd been less drama.  That particular librarian?  Yeah, she's pregnant, and due right at the end of semester.  She doesn't need the aggravation. 


I put the kids to bed early, last night, because both ended up not having a nap yesterday (well, the pixie did, but it was all of a quarter of her usual nap length).

By ten pm, the pixie was crying.  I got her up and to the bathroom (and changed, since she'd decided upon going to bed that she wanted her flannel nightgown), and discovered that she was running a low grade fever.  She was up again at 12:30, 2:00, and 3:30, feeling bad, sad, and generally upset.  She finally fell into a deep sleep after the last wake-up, but by then, the damage was kinda already done.  To her night, Odysseus's night, and mine.

This morning, when I got the kids up and dressed, it seemed that the pixie's fever had run its course.  I got them fed, and checked again to find it creeping back up.  It's the first day of semester, so I don't have the option of staying home with her, yet--I dosed her with Ibuprofen, and took her to school anyway.

So, up at 6:30, dressed myself, and the kids, then fed the kids and stayed on them while they ate, then fixed sandwiches, and rushed around getting their stuff together.  Then had to put on my teacher-face (I don't wear makeup except on days I work--and then it's part of my unofficial uniform).  And then, it was time to finish getting the kids ready, find my shoes, discover that the shoes I'd bought for work shoes ran a half-size too small (!), and hunt for my boots.  I did not have the time to sit down and print off my rosters (which the registrar used to do, but has now decided that they're too important to do), or to check email, or have even a sip of my nice, fresh, hot coffee. 

So, coffee came with me. 

We got the kids to school, and then ourselves to campus--Odysseus has a 9:00, a 10:00 and an 11:00 class on Mondays and Wednesdays, and loses the last class on Fridays; I have office hours planned for 9:00 til class time at 11:00, then class from 11:00 til 1:00.  I spent the first half hour I was on campus over in the actual department building, dropping off printed materials for a colleague, and begging the department secretary to print my rosters for me,* then signing my contract.  Then I walked over to the library for office hours and class, and discovered that my reservation for my classroom for office hours had been pre-empted by someone of higher rank for a worthless, useless class that was designed as make-work to put the admin twats in front of the classroom (and suck more tuition and fees out of the students, since it's a required class). 

Right now, the librarian who dealt with my reservation is confused, irritated, angry, and pregnant.  She gave me a key for a study room on another floor for my office hours today, and is trying to figure something out, and straighten things out for me. 

But...right now, I have a sick three-year-old in preschool, office hours that I don't yet know where to tell my students I will be, a book to finish writing before the first papers come in in two weeks, and a major case of brain fog because of interrupted sleep.

Thus far, not a terribly auspicious start to the semester... 

I am hopeful that things will get better, not worse.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mom's birthday

Odysseus went to see Guardians of the Galaxy, not too long ago.  He came home and reported that the soundtrack was really, really good, if it was the mix tape that the character's mother had made for him when he was a child.

So, I looked it up...and found that it would be perfect (or nearly so) for Mom for her birthday (which was today--she turned 69, and I treasure each birthday she's around to celebrate). 

The CD comes with auto-rip, which means that you get the MP3 album for free.  We used it to double-check to make sure it really was the songs I remembered Mom loving...and it very much is.  It really is a fun collection of music, with only two songs that are more average than awesome.

Go take a look.  It really is a fun bit of music.

(And yes, my mom is happy...and my aunts are jealous.  It was, overall, a good birthday for her.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Random ramblings

I love my son.  I really do.  But sometimes, I want to strangle the little twerp. 

So, Thursday, he started kindergarten.  And Friday, he came home telling me the vowels.  Brought a folder full of classwork that he'd completed...badly.  He either hadn't listened and followed instruction, or he'd deliberately done it wrong.  One of the two.

Of the two, knowing this child, I'm betting it was deliberate.  He doesn't want people knowing the extent of his capabilities.  I'm not sure why.  I'm not sure if he knows why. 

He's a bit young for that, but he's been that way since he was an infant.

According to the school's sent-home handouts, they're planning on having him reading by the end of the year.  I don't think it's going to be too hard...his grandmother told me that he spelled out most of "airport" while he was playing with a "car rug"--a printed map of roads and places to be played with using matchbox-style cars.  And that when she looked later, that word was nowhere on the map.  And he's refused to do it since.

The pixie came home from three year old preschool telling me she'd made "too many friends."  In pixie-speak, that means too many to count.  And I can believe it--she's the sweetest, most outgoing little girl ever.  She helps younger children to do things, and she's one of the oldest in her class, since she'll be four in December.

She brought home a folder of things she'd completed, and a behavior report card that had a perfect score of three stickers.  And a few things telling us what she'll be learning in class: she'll be learning to count (she can already make it up to fifteen), learning the alphabet (she already knows it), learning sign language a bit, and learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, and shapes in Spanish. 

Color me impressed.

I asked her what her favorite lesson was, and she reported that her favorite was the bible story.

Last night, Odysseus and I sat down and watched a movie.  We watched X-Men: First Class.  I loved it.  He loved it.  The cats...ended up perched together on the back of the couch, washing each other's ears very intently.  Kind of a relief, that--they'd been fighting, as in tearing fur out of each other fighting, all week.

I'm beginning to wonder if it's because the dog's gone, and they don't have a common "enemy" anymore...

Speaking of the mother said that she bit my sister last week.  Not hard enough to draw blood, but certainly hard enough to leave a good bruise.  She said that my sister had been playing with the dog, then stopped to do something else, and the dog got jealous.

That does not bode well.  And I'm going to need to do some research to a) make sure she'll be safe with the kids in the yard when we get a place outside of town, and b) see if it's possible to train that out of her.

Classes start for our local university on Monday.  Odysseus and I plan to head in and drop the kids off at school before heading onto campus.  I'll have two and a half hours or so between arrival on campus and start of class, so I've decided to hold office hours during that block of time.  Odysseus has two hours before his will start--Tuesdays/Thursdays, too--he's planning on using that for homework, study, and research time. 

I've been too busy with the start-up of school--the kids' preps and my own--to get a whole lot of writing done.  I have gotten some done, but nowhere near as much as I want.  Call it a chapter every other night, instead of every night. 

I do, however, have three hours of free time lined up for three days next week, and the week after.  Starting the first week of September, I plan to use that time for grading papers.

Friday, August 15, 2014

FFOT: forgetting things while you're out

So, this morning, I don't have much.  The imp started kindergarten yesterday, and the pixie started preschool this morning.  We went to Walmart for a couple of things, then decided we were going to go to Sam's Club...then totally forgot to go to Sam's Club, and had to backtrack after we'd gotten 90% of the way home.

Took almost forty minutes off my planned cleaning-without-kids-underfoot time. 

Being forgetful can fuck off.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Got a bit done today.

Imp was at school, and pixie was really, really quiet and tired--got her up at 6:30 this morning.  She went down for her nap early, and slept longer than usual.

We shall see what tomorrow, and her first day, brings.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I am reminded of a line of Emily Dickinson*...

Things I learned at the zoo, today...
  • Capuchin monkeys can be shy.
  • Spider monkeys are not. 
  •  The burro is the worst mooch in the petting zoo.  And the smartest: she scares the kids with her great big teeth, so they won't feed her--therefore, she tips her head way back and opens her mouth for the treat to be dropped in.  And she will follow people who've fed her around and do that to make them laugh...and get more treats.
  • The imp's hair is about the same color as the crackers they sell for guests to feed to the giraffes...which got his head licked pretty solidly.  I'm just sad it happened too fast to get pictures.
  • Wolves are actually quite easy to freak out.  Three zookeepers were in his enclosure, building him a den, and he was running circles around them, watching them, terrified.
  • Snakes will wake up and move to see the imp better, just as the bearded dragons in PetSmart will do.
  • The zoo will occasionally drain the hippo's pool...which makes for a sad hippo.
  • Tigers are also very much not shy.  And the one that was the most not shy was also male.  See post title.
 See: A Dying Tiger Moaned for a Drink.  You'll know which line I was talking about.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Having quite a lot of fun...

So, I now have six fountain pens--my red Parker Vector (my first one, which I am still quite fond of), my red Jinhao dragon pen, and my four Jinhao 250 pens. 

I also now have several colors of bottled ink.  I have blue, inspired blue (i.e., turquoise), green, and red in Waterman, and have received my order of Noodler's Burgandy and Purple.  I still haven't gotten my black, nor have I gotten the pen which I'm going to use for the black.

The Noodler's ink comes in very plain, very, very full glass jars--full all the way up to the very brim.  There's ink on the underside of the lid because there's no air space in the jar.  The Waterman's ink is only filled up to the bottom of the very pretty bottle's neck.

Yes, I'm having fun playing with filling my pens.  Having a lot of fun writing with the different colors of ink. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Don't mess with me, man! I'm a lawyer!"

I don't know what to say, how to react to this

Sunday, August 10, 2014

...and we start the final week of summer break.

So.  Summer is ending.  I've never had a grown-up job where I worked year-round (except for those miserable, energy draining two years of teaching online over the summers, when I had a total of two weeks to prepare between spring and summer, and between summer and fall semesters, and had to spend those weeks rebuilding the book and the class--and still didn't make $10,000 for the year).  So, for me, a new year is about to begin. 

We have a busy week lined up, this week.  I will be meeting a colleague and helping him out tomorrow morning, while Odysseus takes the kids and goes and gets cat food.  Tuesday night, we'll be taking the imp and pixie (and their school supplies) to the school's open house to meet their teachers (and leave their supplies in their classroom.  Wednesday, we'll be taking advantage of some slightly cooler weather to take the kids to the zoo before school starts on Thursday.  Classes for Odysseus and me start the following week.

I have not yet put my classes together, though I have edited the class text for the few mistakes my students last semester noted.  I plan to do that Thursday morning, while the pixie is watching something, or playing with her tablet. 

This coming Friday is when the class site will be made available for my incoming students.  So, I'm cutting it kinda tight, mostly because I don't want to be thinking of it yet.  Because two or three weeks in, I'm looking at the resurgence of grading.

Which, I must admit, is the one part of teaching that I am absolutely not looking forward to.  And one of the reasons I've procrastinated so much on getting the class site together, when it's been ready since the 28th of July.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Random ramblings

Apparently, the imp greatly adores my fountain pens.  And my ink colors.  He got into them, this morning--the red and the turquoise--and sloshed a tiny bit on himself and the floor.  It didn't look like it was a tiny bit, but there wasn't a noticeable amount gone from the bottles. 

He confessed himself disappointed by looking in the bottles.  Inside the bottles, the ink looks black. 

He has decided he wants a fountain pen, too.  I've told him that he can have one after he's learned how to write with a pen (which, I guess, I'll be teaching him after he learns how to write--the promise of brightly colored ball point pens went a long way to getting him to be willing to learn). 

The pixie just loves the look of the fountain pens.  And there are a lot of beautiful, inexpensive pens in her favorite colors that she would dearly love to have, especially with all of the possibilities of ink colors. 

School starts for them at the end of next week.  Tuesday has an open house where we take them to meet their teachers and put their supplies in their desks; the imp starts on Thursday, and the pixie on Friday.  They're looking forward to it immensely. 

I, on the other hand, am not.  I really do have trust issues, especially where my children's safety is concerned.

The cats are quite pleased with the changes around here.  They were here for three months before we brought the dog home, and have never enjoyed having her around.  Then again, the dog also didn't care for the cats (although she and Cricket would play when they were both bored). 

Odysseus and I have one more week before our university starts back up.  I've got the issues my students last semester noted in the textbook revised, but I'll still need to set the course sites up.  It shouldn't take long, though.  It'll just be a lot of copying and pasting from one of my old courses to my new shells.  And I'll have around two and a half week after school starts before the first paper comes due.

I also need to note in my calendar when our days off happen to be for the fall semester, and create my schedule of due dates.  I've already got the kids' days marked.

I had some trouble, night before last, with the 20th chapter of Fire and Forge.  I'd gotten something like a page written, and it...stalled.  I couldn't get anything else out.  So, I gave up on it, and set it aside to think about.  Yesterday evening, I picked up a notebook and approached the chapter from a different direction (and different character's perspective)...and wrote six pages in about an hour.  

Because of that little issue, I'm about a day behind where I'd planned to be.  I'll have to play catch-up today.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Here's some irony for you...

One of our local churches in one of the attached but semi-independent bedroom communities of Joplin got hit by lightning early this morning, and was a near-total loss as a large percentage of it burned to the ground.

And this after having been eaten by a large tornado* in '03.

One begins to wonder if that particular church has done something specific to make God angry enough at them to withdraw his protection...

*That tornado was one of the biggest in area history before the one hit Joplin in May 2011.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Thank you, King Putt.

Back in '06, my other half and I decided to start trying to become parents.  We shopped around to find a catastrophe coverage that we could afford, and found one for around $160/month for the two of us that had a $3000 deductible, and only covered maternity if there were complications.  We budgeted and planned to pay the maternity costs ourselves (and did, for both pregnancies). 

The imp was born (eight weeks early), and our insurance bill rose to $210/month in '08 with his addition.  A reasonable increase, I thought. 

And then, our price jumped in '09 to $350/month.  So, we went in and had our deductible raised to $5000, which brought it down to a more reasonable $280/month. 

The only difference in the sudden price jump was that certain laws were on the horizon.  And the insurance companies were looking to stack up cash to save up for the stupid that was going to be foisted upon us all.

The price started creeping again almost immediately.  By the time the pixie was born, it had already crept back up to $360/month. 

When the pixie was born and we added her, it jumped to $385/month.  For catastrophe-only coverage with a $5000 deductible.  And then, the company sent a letter not too long before her first birthday that the price was going to jump to nearly $450/month.  Something we couldn't afford, at the time, because Odysseus was between jobs.  So, we went in and had our deductible raised to $7500.  That lowered the monthly payment to $320.  For a little while. 

We have had, for the past year, a $10,000 deductible.  We raised it that far because it dropped our monthly cost from $415 to $320.  And then, six months ago, we got notice that the monthly cost was going up to $340. 

Yesterday, I got a letter from the insurance company.  As of September 5, our new monthly payment will be $385/month. 

If insurance companies were permitted to charge by services used that they were billed, we'd be paying something around $150/month.  Because we pay cash for services provided. 

Unfortunately, we aren't paying for just our care.  We're paying for the care of those whose life choices have put them at double or triple a healthy weight and have contracted chronic (and expensive) health conditions.  We're paying for the care of those who didn't carry insurance until they got sick, and then decided that that was a bad idea.  We're paying for the care of those who have chronic conditions that could be mitigated by either lifestyle changes or by expensive medications.  We're paying for the care for those who have been smoking for years, and have developed COPD and/or cancer.

The political chattering classes whined and moaned about how it "wasn't fair" that these people didn't have access to affordable health care, and that the rest of us needed to pay for our "fair share" of their bills. 

I beg to disagree.  TANSTAAFL.  Make choices, pay for choices.  What isn't fair is to make those who made good, sensible choices pay for the idiots.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My hands still hurt.

So, I went on a writing binge yesterday.  Wound up adding a lot to the chapter I'd thought I had finished on Friday, didn't get the one I'd planned to do written Saturday, then wrote two chapters last night.  There was a goodly amount of long-hand, as well as nearly 11,000 words typed into Fire and Forge.  It's currently sitting at 46, 000 words, just over 2/3 of the length of Pendragon Resurgent.

I honestly didn't have much choice.  The characters wanted out, wanted out last night, and wouldn't leave me alone until I got done what they wanted done.  I fell into bed right around ten 'til one this morning. 

And my hands are still aching a bit.  Partially because I have most of another chapter insisting on coming out, and coming out mostly in longhand. 

No, I don't write for the paycheck.  I write to get the characters in my head to shut the fuck up and give me some goddamn peace so that I can fucking sleep.

But really, writing is going well.  I'm well on schedule to get this finished in the first draft before the end of the month.  Possibly before the end of the first week of semester. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014


It was odd, this morning, not attaching the dog to her 20' leash and putting her out the front door for her morning wee.  And it's quiet without the clicking of claws on the linoleum in the kitchen, snorting and little noises she makes eating and drinking, and little vocal sounds she makes when she's trying to either bully the cats or entice them into playing with her. 

My mom and sister have told me that the dog is nervous and upset, and wouldn't eat yesterday.  That she didn't get along at all with the other dogs (she likes other dogs just fine, through a layer of fencing) and ran over my aunt's little dog.  That she was clingy and unhappy, but was just as sweet as pudding to my mother and sister.*

I am not happy.  My kids aren't happy.  The dog isn't happy.

The cats?  They're fine with the situation.

I'm going to be spending some of our reserves to repair and improve the house's saleability over the next couple of years, while Odysseus is getting his degree, and while he's getting established at what he calls a "grown-up job."  After that, I'll be cutting as many financial corners as I can and socking away as much money as I can so that we can get at least a good downpayment together for 20-40 acres with a house in the middle, so that we can fence in an acre or so for kids and dog to play in, and not have neighbors pissing in our business. 

For now, though, one of the things we will be doing today is taking down the dog's pen, spraying the fence-line with weed-killer, putting down ground cloth, and putting up a raised bed garden.  Marigolds in the corners to get established, then tomatoes and peppers for next spring. 

I am tempted to find the nastiest, smelliest fertilizer to put down, but that would more likely cause more problems for the kids.  And for me, when they've decided to dig in it, and then come in for a bath.

*There is every chance that we won't get my dog back--my mother's dream dog has always been a Scotty dog, and her puppy-mill rescue is still really people shy...which my dog absolutely is not.  My dog may end up being my mother's dog.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Random ramblings

I have a sad, sad, little imp.  He misses his dog already, and we haven't left yet to take her up to my mother's (which we will be doing before going up to Odysseus's parents' place for his mother's birthday).  The pixie doesn't understand what's going on, I think.  Otherwise, she'd be sad, too.

I, on the other hand, am incredibly, incandescently angry.  I don't know which neighbor hates our dog enough to call the cops out of "concern," but I frankly don't care.  I do believe all interactions with both sets will be minimal from now on.

I suspect that I will be spending most of the early mornings between now and school sitting in the back yard so that the imp and pixie can play outside for a while before it gets hot (when it get's hot again).  I am so glad I have a good travel mug for coffee.

Speaking of's twelve days before the open house (when we take the kids' classroom supplies in), and two days after that for the imp to start (a Thursday).  The pixie starts the next day, since her preschool is MWF mornings.  Both kids are very, very excited.

Last week, I handed the pixie a dress and asked her to put it on.  She cried, telling me, "But Momma, I wanna dress!  Dis is not a dress, dis is a shirt!"

It's above her knees.  And it's a size 4.  She will not be four years old until the first part of December.

Both kids have full new wardrobes for school.  The school's dress code requires jeans or knee-length shorts and polo shirts or button-down shirts for the imp.  He's very, very happy with that, because he loves polo shirts.  The pixie's can be that (which she wouldn't be happy with), knee-length or longer skirts and polo shirts or button down shirts, or dresses.

The cats are...cats.  Thursday was spent with Cricket, our black and white spaz, shut in the back room, first for her own protection--she pissed Shadow off, and Shadow beat the crap out of her.  Cricket only fights back enough to get Shadow off her so that she can run.  She ended up running into the back room and I got back there just in time to shut the door in Shadow's face.  And, after I let her out, she decided to spaz up and down the hall, which had Shadow eyeing her like she was going to jump her again.

The not so happy.  She's been shut inside the house since the visit from officer not-so-friendly.  And now, she's going to go up to my mother's, and won't see her kids but once in a while.

Classes start back up on campus on the Monday after the kids start school.  Odysseus has given notice, and will be working his last day next Friday.  He's got twelve credit hours set up for the semester, and doesn't think he can keep up with everything if he's still running deliveries 'till eleven most nights. 

I still need to set up my class site, but haven't logged in yet.  I'm dreading the start of semester.  I have for the past two.  However, my writing isn't anywhere near covering replacing my income, and the bills just keep coming.

Speaking of's going pretty well.  I've written one chapter per evening for the past week.  I've written through chapter 14 (of a planned 31), and have nearly hit 40,000 words.  I'm very pleased with how it's coming along, and am hopeful that I'll have the first draft finished by the start of classes for me, and can get a revised draft done in September, and get the draft to my beta readers by October.

Hopefully.  Hopefully, nothing blows that plan to bits.

Then again, I'd planned on being the dog's forever home.  And we see how well that worked out. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fucking hate nosy neighbors.

We have, as people who read my Saturday posts know, a dog.  She's a Scotty dog, a small, noisy dog, who has a small pen inside the back yard (which wouldn't hold an arthritic basset hound, with how many gaps there are). 

We also have nosy neighbors.  Nosy neighbors who have twice called the cops out of "concern for the dog's well-being." 

The dog hates being inside.  Hates it to the point where she's not trustworthy outside her crate.  She's smart, and she believes that if she's obnoxious enough (i.e., can chew up enough furniture, kids clothes, rugs, toys, and/or clothing; can piss or shit on the carpets while staring right at us; can chase the cats and/or the kids enough) she gets put out into her pen, where she's happy.  Her favorite thing to do is to pretend to be Snoopy and sit on top of her house to watch everything that goes on. 

She has a double dish that I keep full of water.  I refill/wash out as needed.  I bring her inside, happy about it or not, when there's no more shade in her pen, and don't put her back out until she has shade. 


Somebody has called the cops about her pen.  Twice.  And this latest prick told us that refusing to let him in the house was obstruction. 

Guess our dog is going to have to go live with my mother until we can find a place out in the country.  And I guess I can't let the boy go outside and play by himself anymore, since we won't have our noisy alarm system in place.

And...nearly done.

This weekend is the state sales tax holiday for back to school.  We've gotten the kids' school supplies, and clothes.  We just need a few more things, like the industrial sized bottles of hand sanitizer and a big pack of generic Clorox wipes each.  Those, we'll get at Sam's Club in just a little while.