Indoor Showers with a chance of Muchiness

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain falling. Not the sound of it raining outside, but more like the sound of it raining outside your tent when you’re camping.

I got up to investigate. Little Z was naked in the upstairs bathroom, smiling and bouncing up and down. The bathroom was flooded and a pile of wet washcloths sat next to her on the sink. The water was not visibly on.

A check downstairs revealed that it was raining in the kitchen. Water seeped through the ceiling and flooded the kitchen. It was dripping from a dozen places, all around the dark beams which give extra support. I went down to the basement the get a mop and a fan, and discovered to my horror that it was raining in the basement, too.

Little Z successfully flooded three stories.

I told her that this was really, really bad, and she should never use the sink alone again, because this is our house, this is where we live, and now it’s completely flooded.

She said,

“We get a different house!”

Oh, man. Innocence is a little much sometimes.

Mopping up, it was still raining. Raining like it does outside when it’s winter in California.

I don’t know how long the showers lasted. I set out all our dishes in the kitchen to catch it up, I set up a fan (from the barn so it instantly got everything in the kitchen dirty), I mopped all I could, and then Little Z and I went off to visit our friends Baxter the Dog and Marsha the Person. Little Z said,

“The doggie will be so happy to see me!” He was.

BAH stayed home with a temperature of 102. I think that, seeing it all through a sickly haze, he didn’t freak out because he was too sick.

Now it’s ten hours later. The rain has stopped. The fever has dropped. The bubble popped? Can’t think of another rhyme that makes sense.

Anyway, there was much muchiness to this day.

This Year's Bests

Best Explanation of How She Knew Someone:

My Mother, Frances:
"Well, I knew this French lady because I was sort of the lover of her ex-husband."

Best Unintentional Fashion Statement:

The panties as hat, by Glory Von Hather.

Best Pictures of Buildings:

Professor Batty, in general.

Best Swedish blog:

You don't have to understand the language to understand what's going on here: This girl is cooking from 1970's cookbooks and posting the results. It's disgusting and wondrous. Play abba while you check it out.

And Another Thing...

Jesus: Loves you unconditionally.

Santa: Not so much.

The true reason for the season: the solstice! People forever have had a festival of lights, feasting, joyous celebrations on the darkest day of the year!

Now you are all completely confused about my religious beliefs. I'm just sayin'.

In the Spirit

This is me and my friend Jen, gearing up for the holidays.


Teaching these kids is really dragging me down. Part of it is the stress of working at two schools. I have to be so organized, know exactly what to pack in the bag for each kid, be prepared for anything- but I'm just not like that. I'm not an insanely organized person. Each school has a different culture, too, and I find myself still very lost sometimes about when to wear red, when to dress in a goofy costume, or when is a shortened day, or when my class is at a different time at one school. Some books are okay to read at one school and not at the other. I wish I had a million dollar gift card to a wonderful independent book store, and then I could just buy all the books I need. As it is, I borrow them from a million different sources, because I'm a reading teacher with no classroom full of books. Of course, when they asked in the interview why they should hire me, I said, "Because I'm incredibly flexible." I don't know if that was a lie or if being flexible is something different from being two different people. It makes my mind disorganized and confused. It's stressful.

We have two days of school this week and then Christmas vacation. Some of my coworkers have taken off for the two days, and they're just taking this whole week off. One of them even emailed everyone to have a happy holiday. This email was sort of like a,"See ya, Suckers!" Half of me admires such brazenness.

The other half of me wishes I were her.

Mandatory Empathy Time

I have to have some empathy for someone over the holidays, and then write a paper about it. Really. No joke. It's for my mentor class, which is a class I have to take for my job.


I guess I have to be nice to one of you.


Cry on my shoulder! It's free! I'm here!

And you know I'm genuine, of course. I shall mentor you!

Losing My Religion

There are times when you are teaching school when the whole lesson plan goes straight out the window. (I use this "window" idea metaphorically, of course, because the classroom in question has no windows.) This was one of those days.

I teach reading, which sometimes means teaching science texts. For some reason I don't understand, the sweet children hate this. They think that reading class should be all about novels. So when I got out the "Life Cycle of a Star" text, they were a bit put out. The main one talking, Student 1, I had never heard say a word until Tuesday, when this happened. I mean, really. I just learned his name for certain last week, because he was always simply an observer. But something happened to him on Tuesday, when I got out the Life Cycle of Stars. It started out with the description of a Nebula, which is a cloud of dust and gas that later pulls itself together and becomes a star.

Student 1 (angrily): "My science teacher says that I'm made of stardust. I don't believe him. How could that be true? I don't believe him."

Me: "He said you were made of stardust? What a beautiful thought."

Student 2: "What is stardust, anyway?"

Student 1: "I don't believe him. I don't think so."

Me: "If you're not made of stardust, what are you made of?"

Student 1: "I don't know. God? I think I'm made of God. Maybe."

Student 3: "I think stars are made of God."

Student 4: "Maybe God is stardust? Then we're made of stardust."

Student 5: "What is God?"

Students 3, 5, 6, 7: "Yeah, what is God?" [This all seems so innocent when I write it hear, but they were confrontational.]

Me: "Oh, I... darn. I don't think we can talk about what God is. This is a public school."

Everyone: "What? Why not?"

Me: "It's a religious issue. We don't talk about religious issues in public school."

Student 5: "Our social studies teacher talks about what God is."

Me: "She's better at that stuff than I am. She's a social studies teacher."

Student 1 (angrily, again): "So we can't talk about it because someone might be atheist."

Later in the class, we ended up going around what literature is, what different kinds of reading are, what their purposes are. Then, Student 1 came up with this comment, something about, "You do this and that and then you end up in the retard class." Then someone joked to him,
"Don't say the "r" word!" and giggled. I ignored the whole thing.

But later, I thought I should have said,

"This is not the retard class. You have to be pretty darn smart to question whether or not God is made of stardust." Or something like that. Sometimes, if I'm in the zone, I can be convincing. But the other thing is, sometimes I'm not in the zone, and I just screw everything up. And I never really know when I'm in the zone.

As it was, though, I ended up quoting Glory von Hathor (uncredited- sorry) about how people are all meaning making machines, and the novels are about us making meaning of our lives, as are the movies and tv shows and all that, and the science text is doing the same thing but also telling us all the things those who came before us discovered, over hundreds and thousands of years... I went off on a serious tangent, in other words. They were just hounding me with questions about everything.

At the end of class, I was exhausted. We had covered virtually none of the text. I said as much, and Student 1 said,

"But we had a good discussion."

Initially, I disagreed, but later thought better.

I mean, is God made of stardust or what? Are you made of stardust?

Even the drunk lady came!

Today began with waking up to the snow plow going by, very slowly. And then again on its way back down the road, slowly.

I got up and threw on some sweats and went to let the chickens out. They were cautious about the snow. A Brahmas hen jumped outside without looking first, and then flapped around over top of the snow, yelling. Then the Gentle Giant (big rooster) came out and just stood there, staring. No one else came out. They just peaked around the Gentle Giant.

On the way back from letting the chickens out, I ran into the Deputy Sheriff, who was slowly driving by our house repeatedly. Back and forth. He stopped to talk with me. The snow plow guy didn't like where our truck was parked. He was afraid he might hit it.

"He said he would've told you himself, but he doesn't know you," said the Deputy Sheriff. Apparently, we have a shy snow plow driver.
"I'll just move it."

I went back inside and Little Z was up, saying, "You have coffee yet?" because BAH had told her she could go outside and play in the snow once we had coffee. Little Z had her snow pants and boots on before you could say, "snow pants and boots."

So then, before you knew it, we were outside sledding, having a jolly good time. Until she wanted to try sledding down the hill alone, and she crashed, and cried, and that's when I remembered that Santa Claus himself had planned a highly publicized appearance at the public library today.

"Hey," I said. "You wanna take a break and go see Santa Claus?"
Instantly she stopped crying,

Off we went to the Troll Capital of the World.

When we reached the general vicinity of the library, it became clear that this was going to be a really big deal. We had to park a quarter of a mile away. That didn't matter- Little Z still had her snow suit on! When we reached the inside of the library, we were greeted by a slew of elves. One of them gave us a number to see Santa, 57.

When you live in a small town, our even outside of one, and you have a three year old, you pretty much know everyone else who has a three year old. Everyone in the area with a three year old was there, at the library to see Santa. There were hundreds of us. We ended up waiting one hour and forty minutes to talk with Santa for thirty-five seconds. No matter. There was lots to do there, and you didn't have to wait in a line, because we all had a number. They had crafts and cookies and story time. It was great! Well, okay. It was as fun as it could be.

Everyone there was all dressed up to get their picture taken with Santa. We were quite conspicuously not dressed up. In fact, Little Z was wearing her long underwear pants, and I was wearing those sweats I put on to feed the chickens. I hadn't washed my hair in three days or brushed it at all, and I hadn't brushed Little Z's hair, either. And there was everyone we knew in town to see us, if not dressed to the nines, at least looking very presentable. Even our dental hygentist was there. You see how this happened, though: the chickens, the sheriff, the excitement over the snow, the sled accident- I just forgot to get us dressed properly for Santa.

It wasn't so bad. It's a laid back kind of place, the Troll Capital of the World. But for some reason, people took lots of pictures of us there. I wonder what they were for? I mentioned the picture taking to BAH after we got home,

"Maybe I'll be in the newspaper?" I said.
"The article will say, 'Even the drunk lady came!'"
"I'm not drunk!"
"No, you just look it."

Ah, well.

Santa was nice. Little Z wants a Buzz Lightyear doll for Christmas.

Small Miracles

Happy Hanukkah! As you probably know, Hanukkah is a yearly celebration of the miracle of the oil that lasted a really long time.

Perhaps not surprisingly to readers of this blog, we've had our own small miracle here at Hammerdown Manor:

This bottle of St. Ives Intensive Healing Lotion has lasted like three years, even though BAH uses it every single day. It's not even a family sized bottle; it's just the regular size.

Yep. Our own private miracle. Any suggestions on how we shall celebrate this wonderment?


Who wants to do the next episode of the Lonely Limb of Plastic? His amorous adventures here are over. It's time to move along to the next blog.


I went to pick up Little Z at her preschool today, and I noticed a bulletin board with crapily drawn pictures entitled, "What we're thankful for". It was mostly pictures of people, "Brian is thankful for his mommy and daddy," said one. "Michael is thankful for his new little brother."

Then I found Little Z's. It was a roughly drawn rectangle with a spike sticking out of it. The teacher had written, "Z---- is thankful for Rhino head." Yep, that's my girl, I thought.

Tonight at dinner, I told BAH about "Z---- is thankful for Rhino head." Little Z chimed in,

"I is also thankful for chickens. Rhino heads and chickens."

This makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. Viva la Rhino Head!


A few days ago, a student came up to me at the end of class and said,

"Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for teaching me to read better."

"What-- what? Seriously? Are you kidding?" (I was completely shocked and a little flustered.)

"Thanks for being my teacher. Today was my last day in this class."

"Oh, well... you're welcome!"

My reaction was typical of me: flustered. It seems like other teachers are so cool, know the exact right things to say, and I'm just... goofy? They're all such- what's the word? Role models. I'm like one of those dumb signs, "I used to not even know how to spell, 'role model' and now I is one!" I feel like an impostor, still, in my job. One day, I shall be called to the office, and the principal shall say, "It appears I was mistaken. You are not, in fact, role model material. I hereby revoke your teacher status." The other day, I was walking through a doorway and really nailed my arm on the door frame something terrible, (it left a huge bruise) but there was this little group of sharply dressed teachers standing there, and they stopped their serious conversation and looked over (They were thinking, Who's that one again? The new one?)... and I pretended everything was a-okay. No excruciating pain here! I'm cool! I'm cool!

I am so not cool. I regularly bump into things, fall over- while I'm teaching!- forget what I'm talking about- get easily distracted- or worse yet, I don't notice something huge and crazy going on in the room- paper airplanes flying by, chairs being thrown- Okay, not really chairs being thrown. But every day I plug on. I do my best. I use the latest methods. I read and read and read to keep up. And usually, no one ever thanks me.

So, hey. That was really nice. I wish him well.

Daydream Believers not withstanding

"The location of the body is much less important than the location of the mind," according to this article. The more let your mind wander, the less you enjoy your life, so says John Tierney. He even quotes Ram Dass, ("Be Here Now") which I find really funny, because I've met him, Ram Dass, and he doesn't seem all that enlightened. I was covering him for the college paper in 1994. Hippies from all over were there, asking him all sorts of questions, and he was answering them all (regardless of the question) with answers like, "You know, just be. Just being is the point of being." He could say nothing and make it something. Forever. On and on. He really has a talent.

Santa Maria.

Which reminds me of a movie I saw, The Answer Man. It was about a guru who wrote a book, but he didn't do any personal appearances because he was a mean tempered fraud who cursed the mailman. This is what I suspected of Ram Dass, aka Richard Alpert, aka Baba Ram Dass... shoot, my mind wandered. What was I saying?

No, not really. He's not really a fraud. Ram Dass is really Ram Dass and he's really all about the here-and-nowedness of here-and-nowedness. I didn't like him, really, because I was very much in the here-and-now at the time. Or was I in the then-and-there? So I thought he was a bit of a fraud to sell it to people like that. And because he was talking about tripping on acid and I thought that was so lame, so ridiculous and annoying.

Now my mind wanders all the time. I don't know what to do about that. Perhaps I should not have dismissed Ram Dass so callously? Now I have no one to turn to- except for you, fellow minions. Except for you.

The Spirit of Vermont: Liberals with Guns

I say I live in Mt. Horeb, and my address is Blue Mounds, but strictly speaking, I live in Vermont, Wisconsin. When I first saw the headline for this article, and I saw "rural Wisconsin" and "Dane County," well, I just knew it would be the town of Vermont.

He shot his TV screen when he saw Bristol Palin on "Dancing with the Stars".

The further adventures of Lonely Limb of Plastic

Gazing at the moon...

"Would you like a ride?"

"If you've got room."

"My you're attractive!"


"Oh, such a leg!"


"That's my boyfriend! Hide!"

"He's mean!"

"Please don't hurt us!"

"No, Leg, no! He's too much for any toy."

"Ouch! He kicked me! Ouch!"

"But I showed that leg who's boss!"

"Oh my love no!"


"And he's down!"

"My love!"

"Here comes my horse!"

"I'll just hop on here."

"Hi ho Silver! Away!"

"Oh, yeah, baby, uh, you can come too."


"I'm so unhappy."

"Guess this is goodbye!"

This has been the latest edition of a continuing tale...


When I was a kid, we used to watch "The Today Show" before I went to school in the morning. They had this weatherman who would congratulate people who were over 100 years old and celebrating a birthday. (Do they still do this?) One day, he was interviewing this lady who was turning 108 years old. She didn' t look a day over 80.

Weatherman: "What's your secret?"

Happy 108 Year Old Lady: "I drink two fingers of whiskey every morning before breakfast."

She said it like one might say, "I read the scripture every morning before breakfast, and the good Lord chooses to keep me alive another day." And she smiled sweetly.

But that's not what she said. She said,

"I drink two fingers of whiskey every morning before breakfast."

I still am not 100% on what "two fingers" of whiskey amounts to, but I think it's a lot to have before breakfast. Perhaps her pseudo-religious glow had something to do with what she had already imbibed?

I have this sort of cache in my mind of things that make no sense but make me happy, things to revisit and smile about now and then. This is one of those.

You know you're a ____________ when...

I've changed a lot in the past year, but I don't know what I've changed into. Maybe you can help me? Here are some things I have done recently that I never did before (but I'll say "you" so you all can relate):

1. You watch a horror movie that's supposed to be about demons, but all you can think the whole time is that there's a raccoon in the house and they need to call an exterminator.

2. You watch your house for an hour and a half in the freezing cold, as the sun slowly descends on its nightly twilight path, watching for a bat to come out, somewhere. Where does the bat get in? is the foremost question in your mind. In the end, the bat eludes you, and you decide she is sleeping away the winter in your ceiling, and resign yourself to that.

3. You enjoy burning things for pleasure and heat (the heat part is what you tell yourself).

4. You sell eggs.

5. You spend ten minutes talking with sales clerks, two hours socializing with insurance agents, fifteen minutes with hunters wandering the area.

6. You see an old man standing in the freezing rain, by a mailbox, by a farm, in the middle of nowhere, and you pick him up and drive him all the way into town, even though he turns out to be one of those folks who talks with dead people.

7. You eat lamb.

8. You remove a dead, orange cat from a country road and set it down carefully in the grass, out of some hither unknown sense of common doom, of pity, and of a love of cats, even though they kill birds.

9. You think vegetables aren't fresh anymore if they've been separated from the earth for more than two hours.

10. You look down on people who drink "skim milk".

11. When your daughter bids good night, sleep well, I love you (in Swedish) to her butterfly wings, you feel an unearthly sense of Déjà vu.

My contribution

I drive a VW Bug, so whenever I drive past kids of a certain age, they slug each other and say,

"Slug bug!" And then they argue over who saw the bug first. I think.

It doesn't happen too often, maybe once every couple of weeks. I just see some kid slug another in the arm and the other kid looks startled, and sometimes slugs back.

Today I was merging onto the four lane [that's what they call freeways out here in rural southern Wisconsin, "the four lane"] and there was a school bus. I merged behind it. It was a school bus chock full of teenage boys.

It was a domino effect. At first, just one boy saw the Bug and slugged another boy, across the aisle from him. Then that kid saw the Bug and slugged another kid in front of him. Then that kid in front of him saw the Bug and slugged the kid across from him. And then, very quickly there were all sorts of fists flying across the aisle. Fists in the air. Bodies in the aisle. Within a matter of seconds, everyone on the whole school bus was beating the living crap out of each other.

Hey, at least I can say, "I made a difference in some kid's life today."

I painted this picture of Little Z today

I asked Little Z if she liked it. Initially, Little Z appreciated the intense realism of my painting. ("That my teeth!") Later on, however, she changed her mind. ("I don't like it. I not a monkey.")

The Word Made Flesh

I found this blog about people who get literary tattoos. It's funny how many of them like e.e. cummings, The Giving Tree, and Le Petit Prince. What do these things have in common, really?

But my favorite is one to which I can relate:

"I write for the same reason I breathe; because if I didn't I would die." -Isaac Asimov

Actually, I would never have this tattooed on my arm. It seems grammatically incorrect.

I don't know that I would have words tattooed on me at all. I worry that they would seem dumb after a while. (What would, "Jesus loves you and so do I" look like after twenty years? What if the Jesus-like lover became a cynical bastard over time?) I don't worry at all about pictures or symbols, though. I have no explanation.


The True Meaning of Halloween

Has Halloween become over commercialized? Have we forgotten that we need to appease the demons in order to reap our bountiful harvest? Thanks to my father for bringing to light this serious issue.

Crappy Bumper Sticker

I saw a bumper sticker today on a GMC Sonoma. (Why do they name trucks after every place I've ever lived?) The bumper sticker said,



What liars.

I guess they could have attained some higher level of consciousness whereby it is possible to love everyone on Earth, but then would they really be driving a GMC Sonoma and proclaiming it on a sticker? Does the Dalai Llama have a bumper sticker? What would Jesus drive? What about Buddha?



When I was a teenager, my dad had this sticker on his Honda,


I couldn't figure out if he was trying to embarrass me, or if he really thought it was cool. Or both.

My mother (just for the sake of comparison) had a bumper sticker that said,


Someone had tried to peel it off. Half of it was missing, but it was a strip across the middle, so you could still read it.


I don't have any bumper stickers.


The worst ones, really, are the environmental ones, which I haven't taken notice of in a while. Those ones with Chief Seattle,


I used to get so angry, riding my bicycle and seeing those stickers. I used to want to scream,

"You're driving an internal combustion engine, people! WAKE UP!"

But then I got older and I mellowed out a bit. Now I don't even care.

Well, I care. I just learned how not to be so angry all the time.


Still a little bitter, I guess.


Many Thanks to the 25%

We received a lovely little guitar with a lovely little case and a little tiny kitty from Ms. Glory von Hathor of across the pond. Thank you!

Of the sixteen readers of this blog, four of you have now contributed funny little things to the dollhouse.

I don't know what this signifies. Something good.

Sheep Fence: 85% Complete

Cellar Door and the Bad-Ass Husband: Tired as hell, but content.

Psychoacoustic Jamming

The way we are dealing with the bat is this: we bought this thing that makes a horrible noise, constantly. It's called, "psychoacoustic jamming". It's supposed to work to keep out rats, mice, birds, bats, hippies- you name it. Every time we leave the house for an extended time, we turn it on. The idea is that the bat will hate the noise and find someplace else to live- like one of the two nice bat houses we bought and placed outside the house and the barn. So far, I don't know of it's working.

"Psychoacoustic Jamming" is also a synonym for, "Lee Family Reunion".

Country Trash

We've lived out here in the country for a year now. The garbage has been sort of piling up in the garage all this time. I tried taking it to the dumps in Madison once, but that was really too far to go. I sold our tin cans to a guy in a barn in Mt. Horeb. We used the papers for kindling. We used the rotten food for compost. That still left a bunch of plastic, gross odds and ends, and of course Little Z still wears a diaper at night- and they add up. It was really a nice smell for the garage, all things considered.

We were told by a few different sources that there was a dumps nearby, run by an old man and only open on Saturday mornings. The thing that stopped me from going was that everyone said you pay by the calendar year, and it's already October. (Why I didn't go before this- I don't remember.) But I guess everything just hit critical mass today. The tipping point was reached. A year had gone by. Today, it was time to take out the trash. We loaded up the truck (it barely made a dent in our pile) and off we went on the beautiful, scenic drive to the dumps.

When we got there fifteen minutes later, it wasn't a dumps at all. It looked like a little farm in the woods with a lot of dumpsters sitting around, and people tossing stuff into them- but then there was this old guy directing things, setting this aside, someone can use that- he is the god of recycling, this guy. He was real skinny and a chain smoker. There was this bonfire there, too. I'm not sure if it was really a bonfire. It was just like there was this small area that was on fire, kind of. A garbage fire, you might say. In a muddy parking lot. With a red barn. And a lot of dumpsters, and some stuff set aside.

It was really awesome.

We parked out of the way and I approached the old dude (you just know who's in charge, immediately, though I can't say how- lots of people were walking around), this old dude who was now sitting with his legs crossed in the doorway of a barn, surrounded by crucifixes, holy virgins, and hub caps. There was a sign above him that said, "All transfer site users must have a permit, effective January 1, 1992." I inquired into the price of a permit, and he gave me half off, on account of the lateness in the calendar year. I was suddenly very glad that I had whimsically purchased the checks with the over-the-top Christian angels on them. He held the check up to the light, cigarette hanging out of his lips, and said, "I'll give this to Maria on Monday and she'll send you the permit." God bless Maria.

I went back to the truck and told BAH and Little Z the deal. Brian got in the truck and drove it over to one of the big dumpsters (past the fire in the middle of the parking lot). Little Z and I walked over, and she said to me,

"I want you to carry me. I afraid all these big trucks going to squish me." This is the most intelligent thing she has ever said to me.

While Bad-Ass-Husband was taking the trash out of the truck, the mice who had been living in our garbage back home ran out and played around the truck tires, not knowing where they were. People stopped and pointed at our mice and giggled and made comments. There was a leisurely pace to the unloading of trash. The old dude who runs the place came over to check out the mice, too. Then he suggested we not throw out that burlap- someone might want it for a deer blind- and he had me set it aside, with the other things he thought someone might use. People before us had left some tables, a swimming pool ladder, a shoe rack, and a lot of random wood pieces, among other things.

Suddenly five or six trucks were coming down the dirt road through the forest there, and the old dude said,

"All the lazy butts are coming in now." (The time was approaching noon.)

I wonder how many things about that dump cause death in the State of California?

Man, I loved that open fire.

That place was more fun than most places where they charge you to have fun.

The Shakers

It was in that same class that we had to do the dreaded, "oral report."

We were allowed to do a topic of our choice in history, but I think it had to be about some small group of people. A lot of people did the Donner Party, which got to be boring after a while, hearing the same oral report over and over from different people. I, however, decided to do the Shakers. I'd read about them in The People's Almanac, and I thought they would be an interesting, happy folk to talk about in front of the class.

I didn't really think this through enough.

The problem with the Shakers was that, according to the requirements for the report, you had to tell the class why the group was no longer prominent- and of course, with the Shakers, this meant that I had to say the word "sex" in front of the class. The Shakers declined in numbers because they never reproduced themselves, because they did not believe in having sexual relations.

Saying "sex" several times in front of the class would have been bad enough, but add to the usual embarrassment that my hugest crush of all time was in the class. He sat in front. I still remember looking into his emotionless pale blue eyes and saying, "They didn't, uh, hm, mmm... have sex, so they didn't have kids, so, um. Yeah. They didn't get more people." My cheeks, my hair, my lipstick- all were of the brightest red that day. At least I made an impression.

Damn you, Shakers!

But not really. I still think the Shakers were hella cool.



Going Batty

We think there is a bat living in our bedroom wall. It wakes us up around four or five every morning. We hear it rustling around in there. It's disturbing.

We see it flying around outside the house in the evening, too.

We can't figure out where the bat comes in and out.

Little Z thinks that we should install a bat door for the bat. It's not the best idea, in my opinion, being that it would encourage the bat to live here, rather than discourage it. It's just interesting that Little Z has an idea that she can articulate, and that it actually somewhat makes sense (if you're a big animal lover like she is).

So. We have a bat in our wall.

Any other ideas?

The Things They Know in the State of California

At work, we aren't allowed (by the fire department) to tack things up on more than twenty percent of the wall unless they are known to be fire resistant in the State of California, and are labelled as such. But, of course, we don't live in the State of California, so I object. Things catch fire all the time in California- I know! I used to live there! There are brush fires, bush fires, grass fires, hair fires, forest fires, you name it! Wisconsin? Not so much.

Of course, whenever you buy something and it says, "Not for Sale in the State of California," or better yet, "This item has been proven to cause cancer in the State of California," the logical thing to say, and the thing we always do say is,

"Well, it's a darn good thing that I don't live in the State of California anymore, now, isn't it?"

Dodged that bullet.

The Wig

We went to the thrift store one day, Little Z and I, and I always buy her one toy when we go to the thrift store. This one day, she picked out a gray wig. It was a real wig, like the type that an old lady might wear, with the real old lady hairstyle- like she had had her hair in curlers all night. Little Z put it on her head and called it her new "hair hat". I bought it for her. $5.99 at Savers Thrift Store.

We went outside. She was wearing the wig. A lady driving by stopped her car and screamed out the window,

"Did she actually pick that out for herself!? Oh, my!" or something like that. So, Little Z stopped traffic with her new wig.

She wore it a few times and then got tired of it and left it in a drawer. That was about three months ago.

Yesterday was "crazy hair day" at school, so I wore the wig. It still had the tag from the thrift store - $5.99- hanging off of it. I thought that was the greatest part. My students thought it was genius, too. They kept pretending not to know who I was in it. It was awesome.

And then my co-teacher walked in. I was in front of the class sort of in the middle of passing something out and lecturing- blah blah blah- and in came K. (She has to come from across the building, so she's always a little late.) K. took one look at me and said in this weird, husky whisper,

"That wig! That wig! I need that wig! I mean, I know this sounds strange... but my mother-in-law died yesterday, and they cut her hair so short, you know, that we were all saying she needs a wig- could I borrow that wig?"

So, god knows what I was telling the class about just then. What I couldn't understand was, if the lady was dead, why did she need a wig? Of course, K. was basically telling me that she was in mourning, so I had to be tactful. And then my next thought was, crap, we're teaching the class! So I whispered,

"Let's talk about this in a little bit."

So the truth was unveiled later on that they wanted an open casket, but her hair looked awful. The relatives all wanted her to have a wig, but had no idea where to get an appropriate wig on short notice- yet Little Z's "hair hat" was perfect. K. decided that if it was okay, she would pay me for the wig. She knew how much it cost me, of course- $5.99 at Savers Thrift Store. That's what the tag hanging over my forehead said, after all.

What could I do? I gave her the wig.


Norway! I went to Norway a few times, once for about a week, and... yeah. Nothing really struck me about Norwegian culture. Well, except, of course, for the fact that Norway spawned the likes of Thor Heyerdahl, the Twentieth Century's greatest adventurer. I saw the Kon-Tiki in a museum in Oslo and bought a slide that looked like this:

Fast forward fifteen years and...

I volunteered to be a guest teacher one day in a high school special ed social studies class. I had recently found a box of slides labeled, "Norway". I had no real way of looking at the slides, except in the teeny tiny view, but I was pretty sure I could wing it when I saw them. I mean, who doesn't remember pictures they took in a foreign country, even after fifteen years?

I introduced the slide show to the class- "These are some pictures of Norway I took when I was your age," blah blah blah. I turned on the slide projector, and that slide- the picture up above there- came up. And I, naturally, had absolutely no idea what that slide was meant to represent. I paused. A feeling of panic slowly came over me. Then, out of the blue, a voice,

"The Kon-Ticki!" yelled a man in the back of the room. He yelled it with gusto! With joy! Apparently, he was a substitute for one of the assistants in the class, and he was a great fan of *Thor Heyerdahl, the Kon-Ticki, Norway in general. And so was I, suddenly. It all came back to me! He saved my life, for the moment. Or, at the very least, he saved the social studies lesson.

* For those of you not in the know, Thor Heverdahl sailed a raft around the world, in an (I think successful) attempt to prove that primitive peoples could have travelled the earth in rafts and moved from one continent to another.

I think he had a lesser-known adventure when he lived on an island with his wife for two years. I only remember mostly that in the documentary they mentioned that they were naked almost the entire time, because they liked feeling the leaves brush against their skin.


The best part about the Fins is their modesty- or perhaps their misery. I'm not sure which it is, but almost everyone I met there said,

"Why would you come here? You could go anywhere in the world. Why come to this place?"

Technically speaking, I couldn't go anywhere in the world, I just happened to have an opportunity that presented itself to go to Finland. However, if I had never been to Finland, I think I would now be sad that I had never been to Finland; it was a place I wanted to see.

The Vikings! They're buried all over the place over there in Finland, and there are these cobblestone streets that lead through the fog into what may be an empty abyss- who knows? It's a mysterious place. Lovely. Totally worth going to.

Sweden 2

A lot of people in Sweden have a little shack in the woods somewhere, often by a lake, a "sommarstuga," or summer cabin. These cabins are primitive, and they generally have an outhouse. In that outhouse one very often finds a picture of the king or queen of Sweden- often both. It's usually a postcard size portrait, placed right where you can see it when you are sitting on the throne. Other outhouses- like at roadside pit stops and such- also often have the picture of the king and queen as well.

I never figured out where this tradition came from. It's a mysterious thing. If I ever have an outhouse, though, I'm putting a picture of the king of Sweden up inside.


When they were coming up with the name for Canada, the one guy was drawing the letters out of a hat, while the other guy was writing down the letters on a piece of paper. The guy with the hat drew a /c/, and said,

"C, eh?" and so it was written, "CA."

"N, eh?" and so it was written, "NA."

Well, you know the rest.

I guess my favorite part about Canada is the Frenchiness. That and the vast expanses of beautiful, nearly untouched beauty.

We were staying in a cabin in the town of Marathon, and "Return of the Jedi" was on television- with a catch. It was overdubbed into French.

We watched it for probably an hour just to hear what, "Use the force, Luke," sounded like in French. ("Utilisez la force, Luke.")

I've never been to Quebec. We still heard the French spoken all around Lake Superior on our "round the lake" tour. Apparently, quite a few people in Canada speak French, even outside of Quebec. I wonder if anyone ever says, "Bon Courage"?


I spent two weeks in England. (Which obviously makes me a complete expert.) The best part was the pub culture. We have places that call themselves "pubs" in the U.S., but they aren't. They're just restaurants or bars. Typically, American restaurants have giant pieces of garbage (old bikes, telephone boxes, toys,) strapped to the wall above your head, and I, having grown up in California, am perpetually worried about them falling on me in a freak earthquake. Not so in England. The pubs in London are unpretentious places to eat and drink. Solid meals are served there. People are friendly and at the same time mind their own business. I could live in English pubs.

I probably looked like such a moron while I was there, always drinking just one too many and looking around saying something like, "Wow! This is great!" about a place that was just 100% average.

But, you know, it was great.


I lived in Sweden for a year, and I can truly narrow it down to one thing that I found most wonderful: the language. It's sort of a self centered love. I loved the language, and the language seemed made for my brain somehow. I learned the language, and everyone was so impressed that I learned it so well- and it came so easily. I love how Swedish is literally backwards at times. I love how it really does sound like the Swedish chef. I love how you have to sing a little to speak Swedish. I love how, once you speak Swedish, you understand Norwegian, Danish, and a little Icelandish, too. I also love the near complete uselessness of it- almost all Swedish people speak English. It's art for art's sake, speaking Swedish. I still dream in Swedish sometimes, after almost twenty years. (Although, sometimes, in the dream, I say, "could you say that in English? I mean, it's been a while...")

Growing Up

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an artist.

I have debates with myself over whether or not that happened. Isn't teaching really a sort of performance art?

The Hemland

I don't know who did this originally- stole it from Frog Blog. Does that mean She did it?

The Strange Light In the Sky

There's this light in the sky directly north of us. It's sort of like a star. It stays in the same spot all the time and different colors swirl across it: green and red. BAH says it's Santa Claus.

I looked at it in the telescope tonight. (It's a beautiful night.) The lights swirl across it in the most psychedelic way. It looks very man-made, but it's too high in the sky to be a tower or anything attached to the ground. What is it?



Dear Mexico. Marvelous Mexico! To narrow it down to one thing is near impossible. But I can. And I will.

It's an attitude. I love the attitude. (Maybe that should be the tee shirt, "Mexico. It's an attitude.") The attitude that maybe it's okay not to be all together perfect, as long as you're doing your best and you know how to relax a bit. A sort of "safety last" attitude. And yeah, the government down south doesn't do the best job, but the flip side of that is that people in Mexico seem to rely more on their own brains to figure things out. They don't act like cows and assume everything will be okay. Or maybe, you know, they do, and I'm just stereotyping, because stereotypes are fun!

Okay, forget it. Can't narrow it down to just one.

Things I love about Mexico:

1. The attitude.
2. The buses.
3. The food.
4. The food!
5. The food!
6. The food!!!!
7. The ways of expressing religious reverence.
8. The food!!!
9. The language.
10. The way people carry their children.
11. The food!!!
12. So much more.


This week I shall blog about the tidbits of other people's cultures which I find special or wonderful or - well, whatever.

I once became friendly with a French exchange student in the US. When I went to Sweden, we kept writing letters, and he often ended the letters,

"Bon Courage."

Since then, I've noticed that this is a common phrase for the French. I assume it means something like, "Have courage," except that if you think in French, the world is of course a different place entirely.

I wish I had someone now in my life now who told me, "Bon courage." Being a schoolteacher is scary.

Perhaps I have finally found my mantra.

Glasses Dark As These

I propose a new TV series based entirely on the songs of Johnny Cash. It might be a bit violent- should be late night. Each episode would follow the life of someone- the outline established in an old Johnny Cash song. The theme would be that of redemption, of course. It could be called, "Glasses Dark as These" from the quote, "It's so hard to see the rainbow through glasses dark as these."

Possible episodes (there are more, I'm sure):

One Day Too Late

No Picking Cotton

Oly Gets His

Tennessee Stud

One Man Who Tried (Climbing the Wall)

Mamma Waits Up

Johnny Take His Gun To Town


"My Name Is Sue. How Do you Do?"

I'm sure that one of you is secretly a television producer, right?

As good as it gets

Today Little Z and I lay underneath the giant Maple Tree and watched the leaves fall on us (her idea). She calls it "the Tree House," I think because it's as big as a house- or maybe because it covers the front yard like a roof. It was a good idea. Very relaxing.

Unfortunately, right now she is screaming at me. Over nothing. Such is a three year old.

And now, for my real plan...

I have all of your email addresses. I can now commence with phase 2: email you long jokes and inspirational messages, daily! Hourly! Semi-hourly! This way, you can all know the true me. Nothing will stand between us now.

The Dance

They had this dance after school on Friday. The idea of my eighth graders at a dance was just too much for me to miss. I snuck over to take a peak.

The teacher manning the door knew exactly what I was there for.

"I haven't taught middle school in like seven years, and I just had to-"

"I think I can sneak you in," she said with a wink.

There were the blinking lights, the loud hip hop music, the lounging kids pretending to be at ease. The door monitor showed me around,

"This is where they dance, down here," she said, with the same kind of look on her face as I felt. "This is where they lounge about. Then the gym is open, too, so if they want to go play basketball..."

We were standing over a sunken area which was serving as the dance floor.

"Oh, my god. Oh, my god. They're so cute! I just couldn't miss this. They're so cute."

They were doing the raisin' the roof moves.

"Aren't they?" We stood there with a giggly, warm glow about us.

No one noticed us.

This is just their nightmare, isn't it? People standing around talking about how cute they are. Of course, everyone knows that teachers aren't actually people, so it doesn't matter in the slightest.

Privacy and all that

I made the blog private because I was starting to get paranoid. I didn't want to post anything, because of the public nature of being a school teacher in a rural area. So, here we are! La creme de la creme: people I actually know, and people whom I've come to know through other blogs- and that's it!

It's like a birthday party, but without the cake. Welcome. (I hope you brought a good present.)

TheFrown: Candy Hole: Candy Is Good

TheFrown: Candy Hole: Candy Is Good

This is not for the faint of appetite, but I just love it. It seems to be created by a friend of a friend of mine- or possibly he was my friend once, too, but I've forgotten him. Someone I grew up near, anyway. But that's not why I'm posting it- I think it's horrific genius.

A Mystery

One of the roosters- the freakiest looking one, with the bald neck- he just dropped dead.

The other chickens were going about their business. Stepping over him. Such compassionate creatures.

It's a bit mysterious, no?

The Tiny Impotent Rage Machine

Little Z is going through this stage where she is randomly absolutely insane. She just gets so angry. Who is this child? I was really worried for a bit, and then I saw this comic.

Natalie Dee, you make the whole world a brighter place.


I read Bridget Jones' Diary once, and I was wondering... Is England really like that? I mean, if you stay longer than two weeks...

That is all.

And Then There Were None

I've been teaching reading to middle schoolers.

I did a little reading survey to discover what they like. One class is into mysteries. To my delight, I found a class set of And Then There Were None, complete with an audio CD to play if I like. I don't even have to waste my breath if I want to read aloud. Imagine that.

I love that book. (Though I'm glad they trashed the original title.*) I've read it three or four times. The first time was when I was my students' age (thirteen). I was shocked to find a class set of it at school- uncracked paperbacks.

The librarian orders the books. I find it a bit ironic that one generation's smut becomes, over time, a classic to be read in school.

So be it!

This week is Banned Books Week! I could happily read nothing but banned books for the rest of my life. The only commonality between them seems to be that they make you think.

* A bit ironic after my latest entry, isn't it? We'll most likely be talking about that original title in class.