Saturday, December 12, 2009

Book excitement

So, there was just someone knocking on my door, repeatedly, so I actually went down to answer it. Usually it's just someone offering to do something around the yard - at this time of year, it would be shoveling snow. I am perfectly capable of doing these things on my own, so I usually ignore the door.

Today, it was the postman, with a package I needed to sign for. Three picture books from India! Woohoo!! I had requested them a while ago, and we knew it would take a while. But nevertheless, it was exciting, and I'm glad I was actually home to receive them. Of course, now I realized that my entire shelf of books to review is once again about to overflow, and the regular post hasn't yet come, so I guess I need to get busy!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

PTC exhaustion

It is amazing to me how exhausting these parent-teacher conferences can be. This year, I only have 17 students, down from the 22 I had last year. Half of the class is only 3 years old, and this is the goal-setting conference. That means that I basically provide information about what they are currently doing, the purpose of each area, and project a path for each child to follow during the remainder of the year. With all of that information, each report ends up being about a 6-page narrative report.

Usually, all of the conferences can be accomplished within one week, but this year they have gone on and on for a full month. Part of it was that the school year started late because Labor Day was later this year. Then, the Thanksgiving holiday popped up in the middle of them. But that is still an excessive amount of time for only 17 kids!

The problem is, the PTC lasting so long has completely drained me! I have no energy left to read or write much of anything, which is a problem when I now have about 100 books waiting to be officially reviewed. The month has put me so far behind! I'm trying to catch up, but can't focus for more than 2 minutes on anything! And I can't comprehend anything, either!

In addition to making me sad because of having to write and read is the mere problem of being unable to handle reading my beloved new Stephen King book. I made sure I went straight to Barnes that day to purchase it in hardcover with my nifty coupon, and I haven't even been able to crack page 400! People who bought it after me are already finishing it!

I'm hoping that I can get some much needed R&R this weekend, so that I can get back on track and feel normal again!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cleaning off cars

I haven't voiced a lot of opinions lately, because I have about 85,000 of them, and couldn't choose ,nor did I want to get myself into trouble. But today, I have to complain about driving in the snow!

People, if you have to park outside during the snow, PLEASE clean off your cars! Inevitably, I always get stuck behind the schmuck who has only cleaned off enough of his windows to barely peer through the windshield and the rear window, and all of that $h!t ends up blowing onto my windshield!! Makes me crazy!!

And this is only the first snowstorm of the year, in Upstate NY, lol.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up and feel totally empowered? Like when you go out to face the world, you are going to find great things? Today was definitely one of those days.

It probably helped that the sun was actually shining when I woke up today. It has been cold and cloudy, if not rainy over the past several days. I'm a sun girl -- light makes me happy. I had stayed up until almost 2 am watching football last night (14 hours straight! more later) and managed to sleep in until 10 am. I took the dogs out and immediately cleaned out the veggie garden, which I've been putting off for weeks.

When I came in, I made a strong pot of coffee, wrote a piece for Examiner, and checked my email. I started getting hungry, and knew that I needed to get a few groceries to make it through the week.

Abundance has my almond milk on sale this month, so I knew I was going to go there for a few things, even though I really want to wait for my friend to go with me. But it's only about 5 min away from my house (over 1/2 hour from hers), and we get paid this week, so I can still do my big shop with her.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day downtown, and I felt this overwhelming urge to shop around. I really wanted to go to Lakeshore Records, which is a little shop I had discovered in the spring when eating at a little restaurant nearby. That's where I found Pearl Jam Live at Easystreet for $6, when every other time I had seen it, it was at least $20.

The compulsion to locate this place again was supremely overwhelming, despite the fact that I had frozen fruit in the backseat. I had to drive around for at least 15-20 minutes before I could finally find it again. But I'm glad I did.

When I go to record stores, I have a few people I search under. These include Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Mike Doughty, David Gray, Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam, and Toad the Wet Sprocket. I am constantly on the quest for something unique and new by these artists, as they are the ones who make me happiest. (Ok, and Fiona Apple, but dammit, she never has anything new or rare coming out that I can ever find!!)

I start digging through the stacks, looking for a prize, when I come across the new Mike Doughty CD. I've been meaning to get it since it came out a week ago (almost two weeks!) but haven't yet made it out to get a copy. I've been dealing with a copy made by a friend to hold me over.

I'm excited when I find this one, because not only is it cheaper than it would be at Barnes and Noble, but it also comes with a live Mike Doughty bonus CD. So, I take it up to the counter, and blissfully make my purchase. The bonus CD is Half Smofe, which I have wanted to purchase off of his site for ages, but haven't yet done......

So, then I decide to finally go check out National Record Archive. I've been avoiding that store like the plague for the entire 6-7 years I have lived here, because those stores are deadly for me. Cheap used cds that play like new? And with my ecclectic musical tastes?

Luckily, I don't really have a lot of extra money to spend, and I'm trying to be a bit more choosy these days. And then I spot the original Pearl Jam Alive t-shirt. Now, I already have an original, that a friend gave me back in high school. But I'm curious, so I go through the rack. And lo and behold, I find my second most favorite shirt ever.

Have you ever seen Choices? It has a picture of a little girl on the front, with a gun and a box of crayons. On the back it says, "9 out of 10 kids choose crayons instead of guns". It was my original favorite tshirt (until I found "boundless" in Myrtle Beach in 1996, and especially after the last PJ concert I went to, Eddie was also wearing the "boundless" tshirt!!!). Every time I go to a show, someone has that damn tshirt on, and I just want to knock him over and rip it off of him -- whether or not he is cute! (haha)

For $20 bucks, I couldn't resist, even though it is a reissue, and therefore not quite as cool as an original. I don't care. I will wear it with pride!

And then I go up to the register and they say that I get a free LP bag to go with it. It's the same damn bag I got at the shows a year ago, but that's okay. I found it ironic that I had just been thinking of that bag all day, then suddenly it's in my hands. And I found it appropriate that I also found a biography of The Who for $5. (If you don't get the connection, I can explain it to you later.)

I finish my grocery shopping and running around and make my way home. After unloading, I come upstairs to play on email and whatnot. I turn on the TV, which for once in its obnoxious life isn't playing static. It's the best part of Mr. Holland's Opus. When that ends, all of a sudden, Into the Wild is on. I swear I didn't check any channel listings.

And when I looked to see what was after the movie, I realized I was on Showtime, and it was being followed by 2 hours of Dexter, which is followed by an hour of Californication, then a replay of the new Dexter.

Is it sad that these things make me happy? Even if it is, I really don't care. Music makes me happy. Dexter and Californication make me happy. Reality and work is less than 12 hours away. Tonight is the new moon, which means new possibilities. And I'm game for whatever life wants to offer up. ;-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Backspacer Review

After what feels like several excruciatingly long months since the announcement, Pearl Jam's new cd, Backspacer, finally was released today!!

We had a taste of the new sound when Pearl Jam performed on Conan O'Brien's first stint as the Tonight Show host, when they performed "Get Some". Then radio stations, if you were lucky, would play "The Fixer" every once in a while. Everyone seemed to have differing release dates. First it was going to be September 22nd, then the 27th, then ...? Finally, yesterday on Facebook, it said that you could hear the album in its entirety on Myspace as of yesterday, and that the album would be available today.

Despite being sick, I got up this morning, anyway, and took a shower. I then made myself get groceries first, because I knew once I had my hands on the cd, I would be sitting inside all day listening to it.

I went to Barnes and Noble, because I have a gift card there, and taunted myself by wandering around downstairs first. Finally, I went upstairs to the music section, and was surprised to see that there were no cds. I actually inquired at the desk, and he had no record of it even being an upcoming release. Confused, I came back downstairs, and combed through the magazines.

Rolling Stone had a short little blurb giving it 4 stars, but provided no info on the release date. Spin had them on the cover, so I picked that up. (Fun read, and you can order a special copy as well, complete with Vedder flipping you off, lol.)

Sadly, I came home, relying solely on the "new" import singles I picked up last weekend, that are actually from 2002. I went online, and finally found an article that explained that Pearl Jam was only releasing the cd through their website, indie stores, and one major retailer......Target.

I flew back out to the car and headed for the nearest Target location, fully prepared to drive all over the city if necessary. As soon as I walked into the first one, I was greeted with a giant display, with hundreds of available copies. A quick perusal of the store also found me "The Fixer" on vinyl. (Now to get that stupid needle for my turntable!)

Not wanting to interrupt the initial listening to go from car to inside, and wanting to bask in the glory of surround sound in the car, I aimlessly drove throughout the suburbs, listening to Backspacer with the windows rolled down. I even got lost at one point....

The initial 4 tracks, "Gonna See My Friend", "Got Some: "The Fixer", and Johnny Guitar", as well as the later track "Supersonic" are a throw-back to the good ole punk days, when Pearl Jam was happy and rocking out for the sake of music. I can feel the intensity of the live performance already, and am salivating for the next tour encounter. No matter how the studio album sounds, you can be guaranteed of the penultimate presentation of the songs when the guys are in their element.

"Just Breathe" has echoes of Into the Wild as the chords are similar to Eddie's award-winning "Guaranteed". If I remember correctly, I believe this is the song that R.S. claims will be the PJ wedding song. Whatever. Yeah, it's a love song, but this Pearl Jam fanatic has found several other possibilities for her wedding, as well, trust me.

Also unique to this song is more of a country sound from Ed. I haven't yet heard this out of him, at least not on an original song. Mike McCready has played with a country sound in some of his live renditions of songs. There is just no denying the impact of good music.

"Amongst the Waves" is Ed's obligatory tribute to the ocean: "Riding high amongst the waves I feel like I have a soul that has been saved." While I do not surf, I can completely appreciate this, as my trips to the ocean are just as purifying and cleansing as, well, going to a Pearl Jam or Eddie Vedder show. Two summers ago I was fortunate enough to enjoy 2 Pearl Jam shows, 2 Eddie Vedder shows, and one glorious day at the ocean, all in Boston. People have told me I've never looked so happy. And then, of course, there was that infamous trip to Albany this past summer, when we actually met Eddie.....TWICE.

"Speed of Sound" and "Force of Nature" could also fit in with Riot Act and Binaural.

"The End" also is somewhat reminiscent of Into the Wild. So, the new album is a punk-meets-ITW-meets-country mix of masterful wonderfulness that gave me goosebumps on the initial listen, and will in person, as well. Go get it, already!

For more on my love affair with Eddie's lyrics, read Eddie Vedder Pens the Lyrics that Fulfill My Soul....and stay tuned for more!
[Photo taken by Amy Dillon in Albany....using hers, because I STILL haven't uploaded mine! lol]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looks aren't everything

I got home late tonight from Parent Night at school. Sitting down at the computer to check email and what-not, I turned on the TV. Automatically my TV turns on to NBC, so I managed to catch the last few minutes of the season finale of America's Got Talent. Susan Boyle was the final performer.

Watching her transition from the frumpy woman with a moustache who appeared to be a joke to the magnificent songbird with a makeover still gives me chills. And looking at tonight's winner, who first came on stage, I guess, he was a similar situation. It looks like he started with a backwards baseball cap and said he chased chickens. But he, too, has an amazing voice and talent.

It just goes to prove that looks aren't everything. Too many of today's performers are strictly judged on their looks. "Ugly" people never seem to have a chance, because no one will give them a second look. How many other people haven't been able to showcase their talents, simply because they don't look as beautiful as they sound?

Before the advent of even cameras, men were elected President based solely on their qualifications and eloquence. Would George Washington get elected today with his wooden teeth? Or how about the freakishly tall Abraham Lincoln? How many brilliant minds have been ignored because of looks?

For some reason it really bugged me tonight.......

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cash for Clunkers and Potty-Training

My father and I were having an interesting conversation this evening. He has been teasing me because I have been posting so many articles about potty training on Examiner. I started talking about trying to keep myself up in ranking, and how people will write about any hot topic, then throw in some random line to make it fit their category, such as a Christian writer (who is actually very talented, and I like her a lot, don't get me wrong!) writing about Cash for Clunkers. He told me I could do the same.......

Parents give cash for clunkers when their children potty train.....

Give them money every time they clunk into the toilet.....


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Thoughts on Lars and the Real Girl

I obviously had heard of the movie Lars and the Real Girl a couple of years ago through all of my awards season coverage. Frankly, the idea of a movie about a guy who pretended that his blow-up doll was his real-life girlfriend just looked stupid to me, and I didn't want to waste my time watching it. But, Ryan Gosling was up for numerous awards for his performance, and critics liked it, so I figured at some point I should try it.

Finally, tonight it premiered on Showtime. I'll admit that in the beginning, when Lars purchases his doll and starts carting her around as if she were real, I almost didn't want to continue watching. I was also a little creeped out as Lars kind of reminded me of a guy I dated over a decade ago. As I was working on writing blog posts and articles, I just kept it on anyway.

And then I got sucked in.

To support Lars and his delusions, the entire community ends up banding together to pretend that Bianca is real. They take her to get her hair done, give her a job, talk to her and serve her food, drive her around town, and take her to events. All of this is designed to make Lars happy, and help him through whatever psychological dysfunction he is experiencing.

I found it to be surprisingly moving, and in my usual fashion, I even shed a tear or two.

It's not a movie that I would necessarily ever want to own, but I am sure I will probably want to watch it again some day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fulfilling my Duty

So, there have been a lot of developments in the writing world since my birthday. I'm honestly too tired right now to get into all of them. But I will mention one.

I joined a writing site called Women Who Write Online. I'll have to look up the address later. It was started by one of my writing friends, and is a great networking idea.

For the month of August, we have a challenge. We must write one article and/or blog post per day. So, here I am sitting down at 11:50 p.m. to churn out a blog post before midnight arrives. I wasn't going to, because I am still coming down off a migraine, but I would feel guilty. And the fact that I still managed to put up an article yesterday with the migraine full-blown kind of negates my laziness today.

Is this cheating? Perhaps. But that's okay.

Alright, one of my fun things since my birthday is I have joined up with a website called Bookpleasures. I know, it sounds dirty, but it is a legitimate book reviewing website. I want to say I have received at least a dozen books so far from them? And Norm works with a lot of the big publishers. I've been reading a variety of books, and I'm enjoying trying to maximize any exposure and money involved. No, I do not get paid to review these books. But the free books are nice! And just the experience of writing reviews.......anyway, you can read the reviews on Bookpleasures, or on my blogs at and Then some of them get reviewed on my other websites. If I remember, I will try to go back and link all of my reviews from my blogs.

AND I will always provide links through which you can purchase the said books directly from Amazon. Good times.

Ok, the Tylenol PM to knock out the last remnants of this migraine hangover is really kicking in. I'm going to pass out to Beverly Hills Chihuahua now. (GREAT cheesy movie!!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy 32!

So, in case you didn't already know, because I broadcast it everywhere, today is my 32nd birthday. Just looking at that in print makes me feel older, even though inside I really feel much, much younger!

It was a good day.

I got to sleep in again, then a couple of my friends and I went down to 3 Brothers Winery on Seneca Lake. One of our friends is working there this summer, which is all too convenient!

It's a great place! There are three different wineries, each one with a different theme. And there is a microbrewery. For 8 bucks, you get to visit all four and try 6 things in each. Not a bad deal! And what was nicer was my class gift was from Simply Certificates, which is a set of gift certificates you can use in a variety of places. 3 Bros happened to be one of them! So, we tasted the wine for free, and I was able to buy a bunch of wine, without spending my own money.

Gotta love that!

Then I went out to dinner with one of the girls.

A great time was had by all.

And now, I am absolutely EXHAUSTED and must go back to reality in the AM and work or something. I haven't really done that since Thursday. I don't know how I will do it......hmmmmmm......

And I just have to comment that I think it is sad that I had to call my parents AGAIN on my own birthday, just to get birthday wishes from them. My sister is in South America right now and even managed to send me a msg....*sigh* Ah well. Sucks to get old! hehe

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Last Day of 31

Today is my last day as a 31 year-old. In a few short hours, I will be 32. If you wanted to get technical, I guess I won't really be officially 32 until 7:17 am, but whatever.

My friend texted me to ask me what I was doing to celebrate my last day as 31. I've been sitting on my arse all day long.

No, I have been somewhat productive, though! I've hooked up with a bunch of publishers to do book reviews, and I was spending the day researching more options and reading books I have already received. The wheels are spinning for more articles, too!

When I turned 30, I started a little bit of writing, to break into the field and get my feet wet. At 31, my websites and exposure increased exponentially, and I started dabbling in book reviews. 32 is going to be all about those book reviews! I mean, what could be better for the perpetual nerd who has been reading for 30 years? And getting paid to do it? The advantage of all the sites that I have is I can reuse the same book time and time again.

Tomorrow will be a day of celebrating. We are heading down to a winery where a friend of mine works, to go wine and beer tasting. Yummy.

I already had a fabulous birthday day on Thursday. I thought I was just going to lunch and hiking with my friend and favorite 6 year-old. Instead, they had presents, and a homemade birthday cake with cream cheese frosting, and we spent the afternoon at the beach swimming and hunting for fossils.

And then she and I went out for Mexican and margaritas.

Can you guess which one is mine?

I'm still tired two days later. haha

Actually, my sister's dog flipped out for a few hours last night because we had thunderstorms and he is terrified of them. Then he thought it was funny to wake me up at 8 am. God help me when I have kids!

And to end my last night of being 31, I am going to continue reading, writing a few blurbs here and there, and watching lots of movies.

Cya at 32!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Nights in Rodanthe

I rented Nights in Rodanthe last night to watch during the rainstorm. I thought I had read the book, as I thought I had already read all of the Nicholas Sparks books. But apparently not, because I didn't recognize the story at all.

I don't know if I am just getting too cynical about Nicholas Sparks stories, especially as they are all so damned predictable, or what. I just didn't care for the movie at all.

Normally I like Nicholas Sparks movies and books. And I love Diane Lane and usually like Richard Gere, and the two of them usually work well together. But I felt that the love affair was forced. I didn't see how it happened and it just didn't feel real to me. And I didn't even cry at the end of it. If you know me, you know that I cry at just about everything.

Perhaps it's because I was so restless last night and just kept rambling on my blogs. Perhaps it really wasn't a great movie, like so many people liked to think.

Whatever the reason, I was kind of sorry that I spend the dollar, especially because I'm sure it will be on one of the movie channels to which I subscribe any time now.

Maybe I should try reading the book? If you have read it, please let me know how it is! I kind of want to redeem my negative feelings toward the movie......

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eddie is yummy

In case you haven't already heard, I have a slight obsession with Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam. I have had this obsession for 18 years now, and it's not ending any time soon.

And in case you haven't already heard, when my friend and I went to Albany to see the first two nights of his solo tour a couple of weeks ago, we got to meet him.

It was the single greatest moment of my life.

I had bought a new camera before the trip, because I was determined to meet him this time (four solo shows and at least 12 full band shows.....). And wouldn't you know I was so nervous again that I couldn't operate my stupid camera??

I did get a few pics with my camera phone, and ended up with a couple of good shots with the digital outside after we met him the second night. You can see my pictures and read the stories of the two nights:

We Met Eddie Vedder!

We Met Eddie Vedder......Again!

And just as I was getting over the whole thing, tonight my friend had to post her photo album of the event. I totally stole this picture off of her page:

Because it is beautiful! The fact that I was this close to my idol, my muse, my favorite celebrity in the whole wide world whose music has kept me going for 18 straight years.......!!!

I almost flew down to Atlanta to stay with friends and family so that I could go to two more nights and try my luck again, but I couldn't make it work. In some ways I am kicking myself. In other ways, I am grateful that I didn't, because the venue probably would not have been conducive to meeting him again. And why risk ending on a less wonderful note?

Now for the new album and next tour.........

Julio as protective big brother

Ok, I am obviously bored out of my mind. I was trying to work my gardening jobs today, but got rained out yet again, and I just cannot concentrate on writing articles! That Bright Hub one I did wore me out!

So, the saga of the battle between the canines and felines continues......I finally found Fiona hiding under my dresser in my room. (Damn, I STILL haven't found Cassie! I need to try to do that.....) Eventually the boys got bored and left my room, so she decided to come slinking out. I held her on my lap for a while. Julio came back into the room and jumped up on the bed, so I put her up there with him.

But then Jefferson came around the corner, saw Fiona, and started barking at her. So, she ran and hid under my bed now. It's kind of annoying, because I know she will probably come out while we are asleep, but then they will hear her and chase her in the middle of the night. But I don't know what else to do right now.

I got amused at the dogs' reaction to her being under the bed, though. Jeffey was trying to be all tough, barking at her, but she would hiss, so he would back away. (Apparently he once was attacked by a cat with claws, so he keeps his distance. Cassie is declawed, so he has never feared her.)

Julio, on the other hand, is trying to coax her out. He, too, tried to crawl under the bed and pull her out. She just went farther back under the bed, so he just spent the last ten minutes barking at her, tail wagging. But it wasn't the "I want to chase you" bark. It was more of a "Come out, I want to play" bark. It's like he's saying, "Come play with my brother and have fun!"

Now he has given up and has passed out, almost protectively, in between the edge of the bed and the door to my bedroom. Jeffey is out in the hallway. It's kinda cute.

Random story: The day that I brought Fiona home, she was a tiny kitten. At this point, Jefferson no longer lived here. I held Fiona on my lap, and let Julio come up and sniff her. First he licked her head, and I thought, "How cute! He's going to take care of her!" Then he smacked her in the face. I guess he wanted to establish his dominance over her?

But the two of them quickly became the best of friends. He put up with her crawling all over him and they like to snuggle together. It's like kitty and doggie calendar cute. [I'm too lazy to look on my computer for any of the pics right now, though.)

It is my hope that some day soon, they will all make peace! And then I will have to find something else to ramble on and on about.......:-)

She did it again!

I came home from my gardening jobs this afternoon and was going down into the basement to work on some more laundry, and again I could hear crying coming from above my head! This time Fiona had somehow gotten up on the hot water pipe!

This time Mommy was able to get her down faster, because I already had the camera phone with me, haha. I brought her upstairs and slammed the basement door shut, because I don't want to keep doing that! At least up here she can go hide in the extra bedrooms or something, where the boys don't go.

I still haven't found my other poor girls.......yuck and now I can hear my sister's dog yakking in the other room........*sigh*

My Psychotic Siamese

So, my sister's dog has come to stay with me for a while. He is also an adorable Shih-tzu. The boys together have been harassing my older cat, Cassie, ever since they were little puppies. Julio gets along with my Siamese, Fiona, as I introduced them when she was a kitten. Jeffey, on the other hand, wasn't here when Fiona arrived, so he never had the pleasure, and she is terrified of him.

I haven't seen the cats since I brought Jeffey home yesterday, and figured they may be down in the basement hiding. So, when I went down to get my laundry this morning, I fully expected to see them. But they weren't there.

But when I walked into the laundry half of the basement (also known as the "unfinished" half of the basement), I could hear Fiona crying. But I couldn't see her. Then I realized the sound was coming from above me.

Somehow, she had gotten up into the ceiling of the "finished" half of the basement, and now couldn't get herself down!

Naughty mommy that I am, instead of rescuing her immediately, I had to run back upstairs to get the camera phone. By that time, of course, she had hidden herself even further back and it took a lot of coaxing to get her to come to where I could reach her again.

I found the situation highly comical, even as I was terrified trying to balance on the archaic bar stool. She is such a little sh!t and frequently gets herself into trouble! And something tells me I won't find it as amusing if she does it again......

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Celebrate Each Day

There was just a beautiful story on the Today Show about a family whose baby only lived for 99 days. The fact that he was even born at all was a complete miracle. I cannot remember the name of the genetic disorder that he had, but children with that disorder often don't even make it to birth. If they do survive until birth, they usually die within 9 days. This child beat that eleven times over.

Instead of being upset and mourning the loss of their baby, his parents decided to celebrate each day of his life. They maintained a blog (I believe called "Dear Eliot") and had a birthday party for him every day. Bigger to-do's were saved for the bigger milestones of his life, as in the achievement of each month.

Eliot was forced to have tubes for oxygen and feeding, and after he turned three months old, they were taking out. Of course, just over a week later, he passed away. But the fact that he was able to have the tubes taken out was yet another miracle.

At his funeral, his family and friends let 99 balloons go -- one for each day of his life.

It was a beautiful story, that of course got this emotional Cancer going this morning. But it's just another reminder that you need to cherish each day as it comes. Each day that you wake up breathing is a gift, no matter how bad things seem at the time.

I especially try to hold onto that every day that I work this summer. On one of my Facebook status updates one day, someone commented on how lucky I was that my work was to create pots and plant for other people. I have held onto that every day. So even when I get bug bites, and my muscles get sore, and people occasionally ask for ridiculous tasks to be done, I am so grateful that I get to spend 3-plus months of the year working in the Great Outdoors. I get daily fresh air, exercise, and get to bask in the glorious sunshine as I help to maintain a beautiful Earth.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Britain Drops Spelling Rule

Even if you are a horrible speller, I'm sure that you remember the rhyme "i before e except after c"....and then about 85,000 exceptions to the rule afterwards. It's the one rule that every school child learning English actually learns, remembers, and recites, even if they can never remember to follow it.

And now the British want to get rid of it.

Jack Bovill, leader of The Spelling Society, is looking to simplify the spelling of the English language, and feels that this is one way to do it. Because the rule has so many exceptions, there is just no reason to teach it and further confuse the children.

Is this a good idea? Would it help to make the spelling of the English language simpler? Do we need to take this route and people in general are dumbing down?

In some respects, I think it could be a good idea, especially as I witness the plethora of spelling errors made by my friends, former students (yikes!), and people trying to write profesionally. But would it actually help them? Or would it add to the "dumbing down" of society as people wouldn't learn the "new" rules, either?

How much of our literature from the last several years and decades would go by the wayside as the spelling would be completely different? Would reading Hemingway become as painful as trying to decipher Shakespeare and Beowulf?

Obviously English has evolved over the centuries, and perhaps this is just another step in the process.

And I am one of those people who learned spelling and grammar at such a young age, to the point where it is as much a part of me of my hair and arms. I tend to be resistant to change. But it just seems really weird to me to change the spelling rules.........

"British government spells end of "i before e' rules Yahoo!News Retrieved 6-21-09 from

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Newly Discovered Use for Peppermint Essential Oil

I found a new use for peppermint essential oil.

The other night, I sprinkled lavender essential oil on my bed, as I have been doing since I bought it. And I started thinking about the peppermint essential oil that I have. A few people told me it was supposed to wake me up, but I remember reading on a different bottle that it was supposed to be energizing.

I was stiff and sore after working a lot on the computer and doing other stuff, and my neck was bothering me. I realized that I didn't have any Icy Hot or otherwise similar product to use on my achy muscles.

So, I grabbed the bottle of peppermint, and put a couple of drops on the sides of my neck. The peppermint sort of iced the area, and the pleasing aroma mixed nicely with the lavender to relax me further.

Today, it has been raining all freakin' day. Rain sometimes gives me a headache. Plus, I have been doing a lot of computer work, writing and researching. So, when the headache ensued, I decided to try something new. I put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on my forehead, and rubbed it around to my temples. Again, it made me feel icy and relaxed away the headache.

I don't know if it's supposed to be used in this fashion, and I know it is recommended that pregnant women not use it. But I have to tell you, I think I have found a new use for it and will continue to use it, until someone proves to me that I shouldn't!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PETA Goes After Obama

The big news yesterday was that President Obama had managed to swat and kill a pesky fly during an interview with CNBC. It was all over the news stations, replayed again and again, and of course all over the Web. This morning, the news said that PETA is upset with Obama for killing a fly, because it was inhumane.


But, something like his voting record seems to usually be in favor of animal rights, so they aren't going to go after him too strongly. But they are going to send him some kind of a trap that allows you to humanely catch the insects to release them into the outdoors where they belong. Because he doesn't have anything better to do or worry about.

I wonder how PETA would feel about me using the attachment on the Shop-Vac to suck the little buggers directly out of the air?

In case you missed it, here is the video that I found on YouTube:

And, of course, the remix video:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review of New Rice Dream Milks

My friend and I went to our local co-op, Abundance, the other day for some tasty organic groceries. As we were perusing the aisles, my eye fell upon some new Rice Dream milk flavors. One was Hazelnut Vanilla, and the other was Chocolate Chai.

I have now tried them both, and I have to say, YUM!! The Hazelnut Vanilla is actually quite similar to the plain Vanilla flavor, but with just a touch of hazelnut flavoring. It would probably taste really good in coffee. (I was first introduced to Rice Dream by a former neighbor who always put it in his tea.) But it's also nice as a special tasty treat when one is thirsty.

The real winner, though, is definitely the Chocolate Chai. It has got a rich chocolate flavor with plenty of spices. Think of it as the cold version of the chocolate chai Yogi tea (also highly recommended!). But the flavor is even richer and more intense. This one is definitely good for an after-dinner treat. It satisfies that craving for something sweet and chocolately, and is infinitely better for you that dessert!

The price, though, left a little to be desired. It was $3.49 for one of those little boxes of milk. What are they, about 32 oz? Then again, Abundance isn't known for being cheap, so it will definitely be worth watching for sales, then stocking up!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reflecting on The Bucket List

I like to doze off to movies, and last night I watched The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I love that movie, and have watched it a few times. I believe my father actually enjoyed that one, as well, even though he usually hates the formulaic movies of today.

Every time I watch that movie, I always have to ponder my own bucket list. What do I really want to accomplish? What is left for me to do? And perhaps I was even more moved to do so based on current events.

So, what would I put on my bucket list? Well......Change someone's life. Become a published writer. Meet Eddie Vedder and thank him for the last 18 years of musical lifeblood. Have a family. See Mt. Everest (just like the movie!) though I don't think my ankles would allow me to climb it. Go to Africa. Go to Italy. Visit France as an adult. Read every book ever written. Work as a gardener or horticulturist. Travel cross-country like Jack Kerouac or Donald Miller.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that pop up again and again. And well, I can already cross a bunch off. I am a Montessori teacher, and I know that I have changed the lives of children and their parents. I write for over a dozen websites, so I am a published writer. I met Eddie Vedder, TWICE, last week (in case you hadn't heard, but if not read more here.) My family right consists of close friends, and my kids are my furry ones. If I am meant to have the other kind, it will happen, but I'm not picky. I'm working on reading, and I'm reviewing books on Associated Content, Suite 101, and Andi's Book Reviews. I am doing the gardening every summer now for myself and families from school, and just started Andi's Gardening Experiments. And the traveling is yet to come. But at 31, that isn't such a bad start!

The other thought-provoking part in the movie is when they are sitting atop the Pyramids in Egypt. Morgan Freeman is talking about the two questions that are asked before one enters Egyptian heaven. 1. Have you found joy in your life? 2. Have you given joy to others?

1. Yes, I regularly find joy in my life. It may only be glimpses here and there, or it may be an extended period. But, you need to experience some sad and frustrating times to make you truly appreciate those joyful times.

2. I like to think I have brought joy to others. I have been told that I have. I strive to do so. So, I guess I can get into Egyptian heaven?

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Random Thoughts....Essential Oils

This is going to be my quirky place to put all of those weird random thoughts that frequently enter my brain, and that do not fit into any of my other blog areas. You never know what I am going to come up with and may not agree with me all of the time, and that's okay. I'm always up for productive conversation!

First random thought of the day......essential oils.

As I am sitting here working at my computer, I can see my little collection of new essential oil bottles. I have eyed these lovely things for weeks, but have never tried any of them. Finally, a sale at the local co-op encouraged me to try a couple. I was most interested in the lavender, because I can often have difficulty sleeping, especially when my brain is on overdrive. Lavender, unfortunately, is quite expensive. But the first night that I tried it, I slept really, really well! I think I used too much, though, because the next day I was still totally in a zone. But now I have used it three nights in a row, and it is quite relaxing.

Because I was so tired after the lavender, people suggested to me that I try peppermint to wake up. But the bottle of peppermint says it is calming. I did notice that I was calm, and it does wake you up a bit, depending on where you put it. When I was at the store I noticed that spearamint is supposed to wake you up.

The third one that I have tried is a lemon eucalyptus one. It was recommended to me for use as a way to ward off bugs when outside working in the garden. I noted that it also claims to be an awakening scent. I have used it a few times in the yard, and I haven't had as many bugs bothering me. I'm also using it along my windowsills, where I want to have the windows open for fresh air, but my darling cat has ripped the screens, so the bugs come in. It does, again, seem to be warding off the bugs. But the problem with using it in my bedroom is, I have to remember to use it in the morning, because the scent keeps me awake at night, thus defeating the lavender!

Any further suggestions for essential oils to try would be greatly appreciated.....especially as they are on sale through the month of June. :-)