Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Inexplicable

Something I really do not understand is my affection for soap operas. Young and the Restless holds an unending fascination for me, and I am not sure why, exactly. When I was young, Days of Our Lives, Another World, & Santa Barbara were what my Mamaw watched, and I, of course, watched with her. Somewhere along the line, I picked up Y&R & The Bold and the Beautiful as well-- probably because they were more interesting than talk shows and local news.

So I recognize there is an element of nostalgia. But that can't be the entirety of the issue because she also watched The Price is Right. But what is the appeal? It is certainly not the high quality writing and acting. Perhaps it is the fact that the characters provide friend drama without the time commitment. And none of it is really secret-- they show the whole nation, after all-- so there is no consequence for knowing the secret. And if you have a friend who also watches, you can gossip without fear of consequence. Does Sharon's husband know that she is secretly in love with Brad? We can discuss away-- no danger of Jack finding out from us.

But maybe it is even deeper. Y&R provides the community that I miss, living away from where I grew up, and the church where I grew up. I mean I know people here, but I only know their lives from the past few years; I don't know the history behind them. Unlike Y&R, in real life, people don't show flashbacks to explain the current story. No one rehashes their friends' lives in the coffee shop every time they see them. Y&R provides, in an odd way, a replacement for the community I lost when I moved away from the one I grew up in.

Monday, December 29, 2008

So much to say...

I really have had a great holiday, despite the drama. And truthfully, my drama is petty, especially when I compare it to my friend's homeless sister or my other friend's disturbed brother. I have a family that speaks to one another and basically feels compelled to see each other during the holidays. In other words, I am blessed.

My baby cousin (who is now 30) came to see me tonight. She is working at Fairfield Bay this week, and decided to drive into town to see us. That was really nice. I hardly get to see her anymore. She and I were close for years-- we both spent a lot of time at our grandmother's house, and as the oldest girl, it was my job (spoken or not) to look after the younger cousins. Not that I minded. I've always enjoyed looking out for people. So I baby sat here, I listened to her rattle about her friends and sisters and boyfriends. Our relationship changed when I married my husband and acquired my step-daughter. My cousin and step-daughter bonded, and I became a grown-up to her; her friend's step-mom, rather than her big cousin and friend.

So now, what we have is a changed relationship. She and my step-daughter drifted apart. But that's okay. What we have now is an adult relationship. And I think a good one. We talk mostly on Facebook, since I am not really a phone person. Anyway, tonight was nice.

Now, I should quit blogging and cleaning off my DVR and go to bed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Re-evaluation

So, I dropped the cooking part. With Kroger and their wonderful bakery down the street, just a couple of blocks away, who needs to cook? Maybe I am not quite as dumb as I look...

I hung the new home theater speakers, except the one in the corner I can't reach. It will drive dh crazy enough to do it soon, since it is unbalanced. :)

The house is a clean as it is going to get this weekend. Which is not to say that you should consider eating off anything but my kitchen table. But I am no longer having an anxiety attack over the idea of someone seeing it. I have some baskets that are overstuffed. And magazines stacked on a bookshelf. But I can live with this. Which is a good thing, because people are coming in half an hour!

Post-Christmas

Well, Christmas has come and gone. We had, of course, family drama. What's a holiday without drama? This is my brother's year to go to his wife's family for Christmas. Fine. I think that is a fairly stupid arrangement, but whatever. On years they come to our house, his wife's mother frequently comes along. Which is great. We love her. Anyway. I thought that, since he would not be coming to our parents' home for Christmas, that we could just all get together on Christmas eve at my house, have dinner, open presents, etc. Together. Nope. Not happening. He and his wife and daughter did come over and we had lunch with my parents. His family and mine exchanged gifts. My kids opened their presents from us (we always do this on Christmas eve). My step-daughter and her husband came over and opened our presents to them (they don't buy presents for us). Then we packed our stuff and traipsed to my parents' house for Christmas. My brother and his wife and his wife are having Christmas at our folks' house today.

I, on the other hand, am at home getting ready for a Christmas party for my college friends (at least the ones in the area), at least a select group of them; i.e., the group that all speaks to each other. So, I need to clean off the coffee tables and pick up around the edges of the house. And cook. Definitely cook.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow Day!!!

Yesterday, I was out visiting a couple of our partner schools without my cell phone. I am not a cell-phone-glued-to-my-ear kind of person, but I do like to have it when I drive. Anyway, visited one partner school in the morning, killed some time at Barns and Nobel and visited the other school.

Meanwhile, Conway schools dismissed due to the weather. And the business in Little Rock started shutting down. I leave Hall High, which is in West Little Rock and get on the interstate (this is normally a 10 minute trip). An hour later, I got to the Cantrell exit, where I just got off. I poked my GPS until it found me a route out of Little Rock that did not require being on interstate anything.

So I head out through Perry County. In the dark. And the ice that has by this time accumulated on the road. I put the car in low gear down Wye Mountain, and made it down alive. I left Hall at about 3:15 and made it home after six. That was a long long trip.

Today, of course, we are all home. And it has been a pretty good day. I installed a new memory chip on my computer (for a total of 2GB of memory!), got permission from my adviser to take a Children's literature class and have it count toward my degree program, and got my grade for the class I took (A-, which is a bit better than I expected). I have not, however, managed to make my house presentable. That is okay, though. Tomorrow is another (snow) day!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A sigh or relief; Or It is all over but the shoutin'

I just turned in my final exam. Two questions out of the three listed. I could list them here, but really they are still too painful to think about.

My niece's birthday is this weekend, so we have family stuff. And next weekend is the weekend before Christmas? How did time pass so quickly?

I gave up and bought a new Christmas tree this week, because my old one is in the back of a large storage unit. My plan this spring is to empty that and sell the stuff inside. The problem is just having the time to go through it.

On to other things. Monday was probably the worst day I have had recently. My class that I was planning to take this spring was canceled. And while I was thinking about, well, fretting about that, and about scheduling a get together with my college friends and compromising on a Christmas date with my brother, I backed into our neighbor's mail box, shattering the back glass of my van.

Todd had W at his therapists, but I called and cried to him. Todd got me some plastic to tape over the gaping hole. I still had to take the kids to 4-H for the Christmas party. And where I somehow became the grown-up in charge. So I packed them up and threw them out we all went home.

The rest of the week? I have worked on my final. But now it is over. OVER!!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Jubilation?

My semester is almost done, for better or for worse. I am sitting here at my desk making instant coffee, writing because I promised myself I would.

What is on my mind? I am panicked about money, for a change. One of our credit cards-- an offer that came in the mail, (If you don't know, don't ever accept those. There are always better ones, but you have to look.) has gone over 30%. We have not missed payments, and our credit is average (too many student loans, mostly). So I really need to pay that off. And my van has been in the shop three times in six weeks, and I had to have some expensive medical tests done to find out that I don't absorb vitamin B very well. And I lost the fight with the insurance company, so I am paying retail for my son's ADHD medication. And, well, we're teachers. And I am in grad school, so I don't have time to pull in any freelance jobs.

On the bright side, Christmas shopping is done. One more small gift for a party is all I have left. I do however, still have to thoroughly clean my house. And possibly paint my living room, because that Ace-bandage pinky-beige is on my last nerve. I don't want to hang anything on those ugly walls. So all the stuff that belongs on walls is leaned up in the corner. Adding to the clutter in my living room.

So, yeah, that is what's on my mind.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coming down to the wire

Presentation done. Research paper to go. I really want to get it done before the break.

And guess what it is about? Come on, what debate to I live my life in the middle of? That college composition belongs in college.

And it does. High school is high school. It cannot, regardless of the quality of the class, be college. It just can't.

And it certainly can't if it is also an AP class.

Sorry that this is just a drive-by posting. I keep promising myself that I will actually have time to sit down and write something-- anything other than scholarship.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quick update (and a bit of whining)

The class I am taking this semester is an overview of the entire field of English studies. Which is kind of funny, because our degree program only has two tracks: Professional Writing and New Media & Rhetoric and Textual Studies. Evidently "Textual Studies" will eventually be "literature."

Anyway, I careen blindly from one topic to another, trying to catch up. This, catch this, is supposed to be an introductory class. And truthfully, I would probably resent it less if I were new, just immersing myself in the discipline. Just careening wildly from one topic to another was kind of what I did... Now, though, I have areas that I like better than others. Areas where I know the players. And my final paper will be over one of those well-trodden fields. Thank Goodness.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bad hair day

No day that starts out with hair looking as badly as mine does can be a good day. It is flat, and starting to look a bit gray at the roots.

I had a light day planned, so I did not realize that I needed emergency hair therapy. I was just going to visit a high school, meet briefly with my boss, and deal firmly with a plagiarist (who is not even in my class). No need to break out the curling iron and heavy duty hairspray, right? Sounds like a day so harmless not even bad hair could ruin it.

Boy was I wrong. My van wouldn't start. Granted, this has been kind of an on-going issue, but we thought we had it solved last night. Found out this morning that we did not. So I have to drive the moldy car, again. But today, I have to drive it farther because marching band is over and 10th grade band meets over at East campus, which is way out of my way.

So I make it there and to work with only a blistering headache and a mild asthma attack (forgot to mention the mold allergy, didn't I?)

I had to cancel the school visit.

The meeting with my boss was okay, though. We'll see how it goes with the plagiarist.

I would feel better with some heat styling and some hairspray.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Busy busy busy

Last week I was in Las Vegas at the International Writing Center Conference. My friend and colleague Joanna and I had a presentation accepted. We saw a lot of good sessions, but were a bit disappointed by the turnout for our session. I have some observations from that trip that I will get together eventually.

This week, I have been playing catchup. Laundry, student issues, spending catch-up time with my kids (the little one played sick on Monday so she could go to work with me). Oh, and the 4-H award banquet was on Thursday, after class. My kids are new, so they didn't get any awards, but now we know that awards exist...

Mea's last half time show of the season was last night-- senior night. So she missed the 4-H banquet, and I missed her last half-time show. And this weekend, we are staying home.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Adventures in Computing

I have a lovely custom desktop at my house. I built it. So I really chose carefully what goes in it. It has two gigabyte of memory and a 250 gigabyte hard drive.

I have a teenaged son. He likes to look at p*rn. Animated p*rn, to be precise. I found this out because he likes to look at it on my computer. This bothers me because this is not the p*rn that I remember my brother and my guy friends looking at. Evidently, tasteful p*rn is more expensive than really tacky p*rn produced by drunken amateurs. I was of course, horrified. What mother wouldn't be? Especially since, and this is important, it is on my computer. In my cache. Popping up when I am trying to do other things. So I bought Cybersitter. I did my research. It claimed to block sites that I wanted to block and allow sites that I wanted to allow. And sure 'nuff; it did. For months.

Then it started malfunctioning. Someone, somewhere, forgotten to share with me an important truth: Norton 360 and parental control software cannot exist on the same computer at the same time. If an unsuspecting person tries to force them to, one of them explodes. I have had this experience before, with daughters instead of software, and a single bedroom instead of a computer. A similar result ensued, though, and we moved into a house with an extra bedroom.

So I try to uninstall Cybersitter. But I had waited too late. There was no patching things up at this point. Cybersitter and Norton 360 were duking it out. They were headed to divorce court. But neither one would leave the house.

So not only do I have these two programs completely blocking my access to the internet (and my email-- this marks me as a digital immigrant), but in trying to use the Repair function that comes with Cybersitter, it got stuck in a loop, refreshing an "information" box (a.k.a., an idiot box) every second. So I couldn't do anything on my computer. I could not get Cybersitter to open up to disable it.

Then I do what any self-respecting nerd would do: I try to boot Windows in Safe Mode. Not happening. Cybersitter had hijacked my safe mode. Fine, I thought. I went into my BIOS to changed the boot order. The computer should not have been able to boot from my hard drive.

But it did.

At that point, I gave up. We took it to the shop. They were able to work their magic and uninstall the divorcing programs. This magic, however, was not free. I spent $40 on the program and $50 removing it.

And now, I am back to having to look at a Princess Jasmine, topless.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

War Eagle

War Eagle Craft Fair is, truly, one of the reasons that I love living in Arkansas. Located in the middle of nowhere is this old mill where a craft fair has been held every fall since the 1950s. War Eagle, is a bit different from a typical craft fair. While there are quilts, carved wood spirits, embellished sweatshirts and hand poured lip balm, there are also museum quality Shaker boxes (starting at $20-- I kid you not!), metal sculptures, and home furnishings made from salvaged lumber.

We meant to leave early-- right after I dropped Mea off at school. But instead, I decided to drop by Kroger and pick up some food for breakfast and lunch, so we wouldn't have to eat out. That took about a half hour, of course. Todd had taken a personal day, and we took the younger kids out of school so they could come (and we wouldn't have to make arrangements to get them picked up). We finally got out of the house about 9. We started west on I-40. And drove and drove. We stopped at the park in West Fork for a picnic lunch (which Olivia didn't like, of course).

Another hour on from West Fork, we got to War Eagle. Going on a Friday is infinitely preferable to going on Saturday. We drove right up to the parking area and parked with minimal fuss. The boys and girls basketball teams from Elkins were directing parking to earn money for new uniforms.

At the main fair, there are four huge tents. Each tent has four rows of crafters inside. Booth after booth of (mostly) wonderful items. I do have to say, though, that I am not sure that the organizers juried as strictly this year as in years past. Some of the items for sale did not look to have significant hand work done on them, at least to my eyes. And I am not exactly a novice. But other items were amazing. I bought a box from Got an Idea Primitives, made out of beautiful wood. Judging from their website, it seems likely that the wood is salvaged, which just makes me happier. I am on a green kick right now, especially in terms of furniture. I hate particle board (and with my kids, it is really a waste of time to even bring particle board home), and I am too poor to afford "fine" furniture. So I have acquired a taste for mid-century vintage furniture to combat this. But salvaged from a house being torn down? Even better.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

High school drama is not high school musical comedy

High school drama, is, I have decided less fun than a high school musical comedy. There are fewer cute teachers and a lot less singing and dancing.

This all started because I suggested that Mea invite a group of friends to see the new Michael Cera movie because one of her friends felt Neglected. So my dear Mea's starts making up a guest list on Facebook, because that is where teenages do such things these days. God forbid they actually make phone calls. Anyway, said Neglected Friend has decided that since Mea invited people that Neglected Friend does not like, that obviously means that Mea is selfish and inconsiderate. Bear in mind, that only two of people that Mea invited Neglected Friend does not like. But one of them is Boyfriend to the ShyFriend that we drive home from band. The other one that Neglected Friend does not like is friends with every other person in the group. What evil must this disliked girl have perpetrated on Neglected Friend? She said something tacky a couple times in 7th grade.

So Mea is obviously a Bad Friend. Would you believe this consumes hours of my time? Mea tries to make peace. With everyone. She doesn't want to hurt people's feelings by leaving them out, which happens when you invite everyone you hang out with, but the people that Neglected Friend does not like. However, Neglected Friend makes so much drama out of every imagined slight, that she kind of bullies her other friends into doing things her way. On the bright side, one of their other friends got to hear the drama for the first couple of hours, cause Mea was with me and W and Miss O at 4-H. See why I want the singing and dancing? Really, whoever did the music for Wicked could totally do the music for High School Drama- The Musical Version. It couldn't be worse than Springtime for Hitler, right?

Speaking of 4-H, it has changed a bit since Doc Blanchard and Linda King, Newton County's extention agents, used to come to Mt. Judea school once a month to hold meetings. In those days, dad stopped by the courthouse in Jasper and picked up a project book, for free. I suspect they just pointed him to the file cabinet and told him to get what he wanted. These days, I have to order the materials online, and they are so not-free. I spent, seriously, like $50 on project books for my three kids! (Did I mention that these used to be FREE?). Anyway, Mea and W are both officers in the 4-H chapter, so I guess that we are commited, possibly for life. Oh, and my sister-in-law's sister is the co-leader of the chapter, so I was probably in trouble long before the election.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So...

So my life is kind of settling out. No crises lately. Mind you, we are still living out of boxes, but no crises.

My home phone is now working. During my furor at AT&T, I switched to voice over ip (VoIP) through my new cable internet. (Which does not, incidentally, work as well as DSL. Download speed seems to be okay-- upload speed not so much). It has technically been connected since the 6th, but I couldn't get it to work. Changing a router setting and power cycling everything seems to have done the job, finally. Best part? $15 a month, for caller id, voice mail, call waiting, etc. Lot less money than I was paying. I just have to gut out the cable internet.

Todd & I went to the homecoming festivities. It was fun seeing former students on the homecoming floats & then we got plates & headed over the Honors tent to hang out with my friends. Except then the lousy country cover-band started playing. Loudly. And kept playing. Why on earth did someone book a band to play during the tailgating? We couldn't talk to each other. Believe me, none of us would have walked across the street to hear that band play (not that we would have needed to), but we had spent time planning to be together at Homecoming to hang out. And so we tried to get our visiting in during the breaks between the songs. Not fun. But the food was good.

W had a quiz bowl tournament today. Not that he competes, but he is an alternate. Anyway, when he got home, he only made a half-hearted effort to get in touch with us before walking home. Well, of course, it takes him forever. So we worry and worry and worry, and finally cut the tailgating short and headed off to look for him. Before we got out of the parking lot, though, (of course), Mea called to tell us that he made it home. But we still left. Didn't want to haul all that stuff back up to the tent.

Really, some days, the kids make me crazy.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

So...

Site visits are fun. I get to see what other teachers do and what other classes do. Tuesday, I went to Clarksville. Good teacher, great students. Good stuff.

I had the bright idea that I was going to head up to my parents' house from there, since it is in the same general area. (Clarksville is in Johnson County-- parents live in Newton).

I set my borrowed TomTom GPS for their house and took off. It led me down the road and out of town. Then it led me down a dirt road. I approached this road with a bit of trepidation. But I know, from growing up in the country, that sometimes short stretches of dirt road connect two paved roads. So I headed on. And on. After a while, I decided I must have done something wrong. Or if not, I still could not manage this; my spare is inoperable. Dirt roads are, well, bumpy. I was concerned about my tires. And my well-being. The van has been in less-than-perfect-running-order of late. So I check the settings on the GPS. Turns out, I had told it to take me to Vendor by the shortest route. So I told it to take me by the fastest. And I went down the road again. As I got more dirt roads, I told it to just take me back to Clarksville.

So it led me further into the woods. Eventually, I started noticing how pretty the area was, how clean, how... dust free. No trash in the brush. The road was a bit washed out (not that uncommon here); then I drove over a broken culvert. At this point, I start looking for a place to turn around. I gear down, because the hill is steep. Eventually, I get to the top of the hill. The map shows that it is not that much further, so I thought I might just follow it. Then I saw the tree. Across the road. So I turned around. The last thing I need to find is someone's patch, or worse, lab.

So I get to the bottom of the abandoned road, and just head for home. Dirt road or not, as long as I saw houses, I figured that I would be okay. At Hagersville, Strawberry Loop (the county road I eventually landed on) turned into a paved road, and I was home free on Hyw 123.

So I made it to my parents' house, where I saw for myself that my dad survived his eye surgery. He had, in his fearless way (I come by my idiocy naturally), punctured his eye brush hogging the field. His eye fluid was leaking, but he finished what he was doing, then he put the tractor up and drove home, then called Mom. Mom left school and came and got him & took him to town, where he saw the optomitrist. Who referred him to an opthamologist. Who sent him to Springfield for emergancy surgery. That was Monday. On Tuesday, when I saw him, he had one stitch, and some eyedrops. And could see out of that eye.

Fortunately, my trip home was less eventful.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Afterword on my DSL debacle

So my phone company calls me today-- more than a month after I started trying to get DSL moved to my new house-- and tells me that they are ready to install it. Because, yes, indeed DSL is available at the neighborhood at the corner of Prince and Salem.

A cable modem and new Lynksys router after I had given up on them completely.

Evidently no one had actually been reading the notes on my account. Or if they were, no one knew what they meant.

On the bright side, the Rhea Lanna 1/2 price sale started today and I got a ton of stuff for my 6yo. And the best part? She has not yet figured out the difference between a consignment sale and Old Navy. Yes, I *am* savoring this while it lasts.

In other news...
So, in my interim position that I am not qualified to apply for when it comes open, I had to talk to someone today. In, like, an authoritative way. I am not sure that I am comfortable with that. I think I had rather confront plagiarizing students three times a week than have to be an administrator forever. I am much happier in my life when I am just arguing with students that yes, indeed, they do have something to say and they need to discover how they need to say it without me giving them an organizational plan.

My eight year old van is acting kind of iffy. I don't want a new one, because we are still paying for my husband's truck. I really would like to pay that off, then wait a year, and then buy a new family vehicle. So that probably means a substantial repair bill. And another two years.

So I really need to think of something good to counterbalance all this negative.
Let's see... I figured out why my groupwise was almost overflowing. I am forwarding my messages to my gmail account because groupwise was so wonky this summer. And all of those sent messages were cluttering up my server space. So I went from over 75% full to somewhere around 40%.

I talked with a couple guys I knew from college on Facebook today (besides the one I talk to regurlarly).

Mea had a good night at band. And her shy friend has a date for Homecoming. (Mea has a dress-- probably skipping the date).

All my kids are home and safe. And Todd dropped the boy off first so there was no awkwardness. (Boy who likes Mea needed a ride home from band; the shy friend always rides home with us).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Closing

So we finally closed on September 17. We passed all the inspections. We paid all the cost over-runs. So now we officially own our house (well, us and the bank).

We walked away about even, with only the Home Depot credit card remaining for what we owe on the old house. I promptly spent money that I should have spent on something else on a flat panel television, because I am a complete loser I want to have a tv that I can hang on the wall rather than taking up our floor space.

Right now, Todd is installing the bracket. The $80 bracket, mind you. Who ever heard of an $80 bracket to hang a tv with? He has spent the last 30 minutes drilling one hole out of the three that has to be drilled.

I am, while he does this, trying to write a paper outlining the debate about what the content of FYC should be. Should it be literature? Essays? Student work? Works from the disciplines? Fun, right?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Great News!!!

It took a plumber, but everything on the ADDI list is done.

As soon as the inspector can make it back, and he clears the house, then we can close. I can quit paying both my early occupancy fee AND my mortgage for the house I am selling (we let the buyers do some repairs in lieu of early occupancy).

I loved that little house on Oliver Street, but I am relieved that this will soon be over. I only need two things in life right now-- to close on our house and get my DSL hooked up.

To add to the fun, the city code inspector came and left my brother a list of code violations that their house has. Their house that they live in, that is... My parents actually own the house. So guess who is technically responsible for the work? My parents.

In other good news, I am going on the Honors retreat this weekend with the Alumni Association. I am taking my work that I need to get done, and should have peace and quiet to work on it.

I am presenting at the Ozarks Conference again this year. I have written the paper, of course, but I need to make it a presentation. Cut it to eight pages. And somehow explain Kenneth Burke to a lay audience.

I definitely need some time to work on it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Forgetting, for the moment, the people who have real tragedy

Three more calls to the lovely people who may or not provide DSL service to PRINCE and SALEM. If anyone in Conway has DSL, shouldn't it be the neighbourhoods at the corner of Prince and Salem?

Neither here nor there.

I have my PVX program on my husband's computer. Because Polycom is not made up of idiots. The software I downloaded worked with the license & serial numbers I already had. Now, if I can get the drivers all aligned on the Lenovo, I'll be in business. The Lenovo came with the Vista pre-installed. For a number of reasons, that needed to be changed. But, as I feared, (and the reason I put off installing XP for eight months) drivers for XP are not as easy to get together as they could be. So I am downloading drivers and configuring his computer. Tonight I think I will go over to Craig's house and test it, with him there to open ports for me :)

All this just to go to class tomorrow. Oh, but am I prepared? Not exactly. Because what have I been doing? Trying to get DSL set up.

Oh, what fools these mortals be!

New chapter in the unending saga of how my high school friends have f-d up their lives:
Ark. man pleads to 2 deaths, gets 32 years

Last Update: 9/08 11:54 am

JASPER, Ark. (AP) - A Jasper resident has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other crimes in the deaths of two men whose bodies were found two years after they went missing.

William Ashworth, 42, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of manslaughter, two counts of abuse of a corpse, and a felony firearm violation toward sentence enhancement, Sheriff Keith Slape said Monday.

Ashworth was sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison, with eight years suspended, the sheriff said.

Ashworth originally was charged with capital murder. In pleading guilty, he admitted to the deaths of Timothy Ray Eddings, 38, and Tilton Housden, 22, then burning and hiding their bodies.

The two men, both from Jasper, were last seen alive Oct. 19, 2005, after they finished roofing a house in the Shiloh Mountain area of Newton County.

A confidential informant later told FBI agents about the deaths, and told police he helped move the men's bodies. He told police Ashworth doused the bodies with diesel and set them on fire. The remains were found Sept. 15, 2007, in private woods not far from where the two men had vanished.

The sheriff said Ashworth claimed the men had "come over to do harm to his house or his daughter."

Ashworth entered the pleas in a Newton County Circuit Court proceeding, held in Harrison last week. He was being held Monday in the county jail in Jasper, pending a bed in state prison, the sheriff said.

---

Information from: Harrison Daily Times, http://www.harrisondaily.com
Man slaughter??? Tell me how it is possibly manslaughter to murder two men and set them on fire? Self defence, my eye. If something is self defence, you shoot, call an ambulance, and then call the sheriff (or shoot, hide your stash, call an ambulance, and then call the sheriff). Either way, you only burn bodies if you are trying to hide something. Not if you are a victim.

As I've said on here before, Timothy was a acquaintance of mine. We didn't really hang out, but we always had something to say when we ran in to each other. I didn't know the other victim at all. While Timothy was by no means a role model, I liked him. And I think it is unfair that his murder will not likely see his entire sentence. In fact, he may spend less time in jail than Timothy's family spent wondering if he were ever coming back home.

Monday, September 08, 2008

DSL

I have been trying to get my DSL installed since August 22. It took until August 30 to get my landline moved over, so then I could order DSL, right? So I tried to find a phone number to call. No dice. So I try to just upgrade my service, thinking that would generate an order... (Contact #1).

I accidentally click on something, and a chat pops up. So I ask the guy how to get my service moved.

He evidently could not understand me. He just typed away at his script, providing answers to somebody else's questions. (Contact #2).

On Monday, Labor Day, I call. The tech, who obviously also does not understand what the problem is, tells me that my DSL will be turned on at "precisely 8 o'clock" the next night. (Contact #3).

At 8:22 pm, I call the phone number again, and the smart system tells me that my order would be completed between 8am and 8pm on Wednesday. (Contact #4)

The next evening, after 8, I get no smart system information. Just that they are closed. (Contact #5).

So on Thursday, I call and get a human. I think she said that her name was Kathy (but I would bet money that her mama did not name her that). She told me that my DSL had been on since Tuesday, but since it was not working for me, she open up a trouble ticket and gave me the number. She also said that they needed to run a line test, and someone would call me back in about two hours, but do not use the line for anything for the next 30 minutes. (Contact #6)

About an hour later, I called back, trouble ticket number in hand, ready to hear that I needed a service call, because it was still not working.

Somehow, the heavens heard me, and I got someone who understood English, instead of just speaking it.

So he tells me that my DSL move order was never put in, and he transferred me to sales, who told me that hot places would freeze before I could get a same day hookup. I complained about line noise (fearful that a bad connection would keep the DSL from working once I got it). (Contact #7)

A repair tech shows up at my door at 8:05 on Sunday morning (he did call first). He brought me a filter for my phone-- the noise comes from my (non-working) DSL modem.

This morning, I call yet again, because I still do not have internet. Man (who's English is shaky) tells me that I cannot have DSL-- that all the accounts are taken. Well, first he tells me that it is not available in my area. I told him it was, too. (really adult there). Then he tells me that all the slots are taken. I ask to speak to his supervisor, he hangs up on me. (Contact #8).

So I call back. And this time, I don't talk when the smart alec smart system asks me if the phone number that I am calling from is the phone number I am calling about. Instead, I wait. I wait out the smart alec smart phone system. My reward? A woman who spoke English as a first language. And she understood what I was asking. She answered questions. And when she didn't know, she asked. And she found out. Turns out, the system had down my phone number as being unavailable for DSL, but not my address. So she changed my phone number. And promises me DSL by Thursday. (Contact #9).

I am hopeful, but not exactly holding my breath.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What was McCain thinking?!?

One of the many stories about Sarah Palin...

This whole thing makes me angry on so many levels... Couldn't McCain find a woman whose family is not a Lifetime movie? I hear conservatives justifying her decisions and life, but good heavens! I realize that she is not applying for the position of mother of my children, and I also realize that if she were a father the conversation would be different.

But abstinence only ed?
US Republican presidential candidate John McCain, whose presumptive running mate disclosed that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, has opposed proposals to spend federal money on teen-pregnancy prevention programs and voted to require poor teenage mothers to stay in school or lose their welfare benefits.
What was she thinking? Did she need her 17 year old's pregnancy to know that this is a bad idea? Couldn't she have learned that from other people's mistakes?

Not that McCain is any better...
In 2005, McCain opposed a Senate Democratic proposal that would have spent tens of millions of dollars to pay for pregnancy prevention programs including education on emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill; teen-pregnancy prevention programs except abstinence-only education; and required insurance companies that cover Viagra also to pay for prescription contraception.
On the positive side:
Palin's fifth child, a son named Trig, was born in April with Down syndrome, a genetic abnormality that impedes physical, intellectual and language development. Conservatives supportive of Palin as McCain's running mate have praised her choice to deliver Trig even after the family learned about his condition during prenatal testing.
I respect the fact Palin chose to give birth to a child with disabilities, even though she knew ahead of time. Personally, I am pro-life (although I do not believe that I have any right imposing that belief on others, or judging others for believing differently). For myself, I chose not to have the kinds of prenatal testing that would show disorders. (Not that W's problems would have shown up anyway...) But having had a disabled child, I don't see where she is going to find time to be vice-president. I just don't. Todd, the conservative, says that Palin's husband will just take care of the baby. Again, what I remember is that Todd and I both went to a number of the doctor's appointments for W, just so we both knew what was going on.

Again, Palin is not applying for the position of mother, but of vice-president. So is it even fair to look at her mothering?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sigh of relief

For all intents and purposes, the moving is done.

Well, I said that. I just got an "upset" voice mail from the realtor. We need to clean up the back yard. Which we knew. It was dark outside last night. And she is bringing over cleaners to clean the inside. Which I don't really get. It is way cleaner than the house she sold us. WAY cleaner. We wiped everything down (oh... forgot to clean the toilets again-- we haven't been living there. And I bet I forgot to wipe down the sinks again. Ahhh. People kept using them!) I will grant that I didn't scrub everything, but it is cleaner than any house I have ever moved into.

And, of course, I have never mastered being a clean freak.

I have a headache. Of course, in all fairness, the headache began last night and hasn't really let up yet.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Updating (for Monda)

So yesterday morning, I was in the bathroom. The toilet was not flushing just right. So I flushed again. And it started filling up closer to the rim. So I ask if anyone has seen the plunger, in our new house that we are not totally moved into. Olivia, who is six, found me the plunger. So I plunge. And plunge. And it started going down a bit... Aha! I thought I had solved it. So I flushed. And the toilet began overflowing, all over the bathroom floor. So I am standing there, in my underwear (because I don't want to get it on my clothes), trying to clean up the mess ('cause you don't want that in your woodwork). And I swear, I felt like I was up to my ankles in sewage (it could not have been that high, realistically, but I am talking about felt truth here...).

And then it was time to go to get my daughter to marching band practice. But, after I go clean up (in cold water, because the hot water is not yet on). So I clean up in cold water and then start trying to get my daughter out the door.

But of course, she is not dressed. And she cannot find clothes. And she is a nervous wreck, because she can't find the clothes that she wants to wear. And when she gets nervous, she gets physically ill.

So she stayed home.

So then, I call my realtor. Crying.

And she calls the owner (because we haven't yet closed. ADDI inspection. Long story), since we are doing early occupancy. And the owner, riding his shining white horse, agrees to fix the sewage (although he questions whether or not the line was really clogged-- men never believe that I know anything about plumbing). I do go pick up Mea, because everyone is uncomfortable with my teenage daughter being home with men coming in and out of the house. So I go pick up Mea, and we go to Stobys. Because god knows that after a morning like that, we need comfort food (pancakes).

And they found the shop towel that the boy-renters had flushed down the toilet. And then, the owner cleaned up the mess in the bathroom.

And then the other owner (the wife) rode in on her own white horse. She knows someone at the gas company, so they come in days before the "first available appointment" and turned on our natural gas (and thus our hot water).

So last night I took a hot shower. And that made me so happy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fresh pain

So Todd has decided that everything inside the house is mine to finish packing and moving. He really is being a baby about this, and is making me crazy.

And gas? Friday. No hot water until Friday.

And the plumbing has problems. How on earth did the home inspector that we hired not bother to flush the toilets??? The house has a home warranty, which is great. Except the owners did not choose coverage for themselves while the process was ongoing, so they aren't covered. And we aren't covered until we sign the paperwork. So our choices are to live with the problems or pay to fix what a home warranty will cover.

But the house itself really is great. If my husband and I don't divorce over this move, all will be worth it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

So, when things move, they move

Well, we move anyway. We are moving into our new house tomorrow. We can't paint, or rip up carpet or build walls. But we can move our stuff in.

And just for fun, AT&T is providing fresh hell. I can't get internet service until 8/30.

And I have class on Tuesday & Thursday. Those days are before the 30th.

So I guess I can have class here while we live in the other house.

Fun AND exciting.

I replaced my driver's license today. It disappeared last week when I got pulled over. Why did I get pulled over? As nearly as I can tell, because I pulled out in front of a cop. But the cops seemed to have been thinking that I was that I was drinking with my underage friend (Mea). They were being jerks, generally, and harassing us. But then they got another call. And I think they jacked my driver's license. It was going to have to be renewed in November anyway, and they went ahead and renewed it while they were replacing. So at least I don't have the trauma twice in three months.

Tomorrow, my dad and brother are coming to help us move. Not that we are actually packed, but we are moving the furniture anyway. Oh, and the house will not have water turned on until Monday. So, we will move all our stuff, and sleep here Sunday. And we will move our mattresses on Monday. Cable will be installed on Tuesday. Phones on Friday (along with Internet). Now all I have to take care of is natural gas. I think the hot water heater uses natural gas, which means it can't wait until winter.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Down to the wire

I think we have finished most of the work on the exterior. I still have a couple of things to (re)caulk and some paint to touch up. Oh and cleaning up the overspray from the painter.

Now I have to catch up on the laundry I have been neglecting since I got back from Virginia.

I bought a nifty new toy.




This is the size of a Gideon Bible and will hold 250GB of data. (And, yes, mine is cherry red.) It even has a case (purchased separately-- like Barbie accessories) that looks like a Bible case. My university-issued laptop has been making me crazy because it is full, full, full. (I am so tempted to move all my data off and wipe it and reinstall everything.) So, I am moving stuff off-- everything but what I am currently working on. And some music. Let's not go crazy here.


Monday I am orienting our new adjuncts. I have packets for them. I am a great believer in packets. They have all been given sample assignments and a model syllabus already. Now I just have to read what I put together so that I am prepared to talk about it. Tomorrow. On top of the touch-up painting, caulking, and cleaning.

No pressure, right?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Porch

How can a front porch cause so many problems? We replaced the decking on the porch, because it was so ratty. Then the FHA inspector came and said that the paint had to go, because somewhere on there may be lead. So we have tried and tried to get the paint off. Now we have just taken the wood off. And have to do extreme cleanup.

It is hard to focus on the advantages of the new house at the moment.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Growing up in Cotton Country

New audio essay. It does run a bit over 15 minutes. It is kind of modeled on a "This American Life" format, shortened for a class assignment.

"Growing Up in Cotton Country"

Song List:
Intro: Dixie performed by Sealed and Delivered Signed
Act I: Cotton Eye Joe from the Alan Lomax Collection
Act II: Cotton Crop Blues performed by Cotton James
Act III: Dixie performed by Black Oak Arkansas

Monday, August 04, 2008

So, Facebook has a purpose

So, I discovered some of my old college friends on Facebook. Who knew? I paged through a huge list of people who graduated from SMSU the year I should have, and I knew a few of them. So I have happily spent the day in the past, remembering.

That is the good news. The bad news is that a truck ran into an electrical pole a few streets over on Saturday, and evidently sent an electrical surge to my poor computer. I had to get the power supply replaced in my desktop (the computer with hard drive space-- my laptop is full, full, full). And I had to replace my battery backup surge protector. This time I bought APC. So I hook everything back up with the new surge protector.

Then I tried to turn it on. An hour of gnashing of teeth later, I pulled out the video card, and lo and behold, it worked. I'll have to replace that at some point. But not today.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My new house

As decorated by my mother-in-law the previous owners. The rental company that managed it had pictures up on their website. It does not look nearly this nice now, the carpets are stained and the walls are really banged up. But it has enough bedrooms and two living spaces.























Staircase bookcase

So this is the house that we are buying. See that big peak over front door? I am thinking that could make a loft, for books. Or my sewing machine.

One of my professors had a party for the grad students. Her house was older, obviously, but had a really lovely cathedral ceiling and a loft library and a spiral staircase.

Anyway, remodeling plans are in the future. And first on my list may be the kitchen because it is tiny. Although book storage is an ongoing problem at my house...

But this might solve my problem. Look at all those books in that tiny otherwise-wasted space. I could so fill that up with books. Tonight, I mean. And it could lead up to the loft that I want to create. Although reading around about the process tells me that raising the ceilings might cost more than I want to spend (like $30-$40K).

Reckon I could build the staircase anyway? Maybe just to the attic. Hmmm.

Monday, July 28, 2008

George Carlin on Writing

George Carlin in an interview just a few days before he passed away.

Coming clean

I should come clean. The classes that I am taking this summer are fine. The professors have been very generous with the workload, and the subjects are really kind of interesting.

I am just so very tired of not being able to study what interests me.

American English was offered this summer, but not for us.

I keep hearing my classmates talk about the classes they have taken (such as a class on authorship!) that sound so interesting. And it is not as though I had chosen to take something else. I took what was offered.

Every single semester, I have taken what was offered. I made two choices in the entire program. Two. And one of those is going to cost me extra, since it is not required for graduation. But I need it on my transcript.

Oh, and I like my professors this summer. Shoot, I may ask one or both to be on my dissertation committee if something horrible, like a B, doesn't happen before the end of the semester.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A night of not-so-good food

We thought that we would try a new place. One we had never tried before. It has the all the outward signs of being pretty good, despite looking a bit like a dive. It was in Ghent, where the rent is high, the parking lot was not empty. People with accents were eating there. There was a lot of tobacco smoke, but they placed us in a non-smoking room. See why we thought it had potential? Oh, and it was cheap. It said it served Greek food. I like Greek food.

So, Leslie and I both ordered the lamb kabob. Leslie took about two bites and said it tasted funny. I gamely kept dipping mine in the yogurt sauce and kept eating. Was that a mistake.

Two tums, a dose of peptol, and a pepcid later, I am starting to feel vaguely human.

Vaguely.

Copyright, yet again

Here is a chart, explicitly explaining when items enter the public domain.

Which is to say, everything that I am interested in working with will be available sometime after I am dead.

The work that I would really like to do, work with the collected folktales of the Ozarks, I really can't, unless I track down a copyright holder. Because the people who were telling the stories are, of course, dead, so I can't track them down and ask them to tell me. And besides, the stories are copyrighted by someone else. Frustrating, frustrating.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today, we played, until it started raining. We ate brunch at Freemason Abbey, which is just gorgeous. The food is exellent. The service was perfect. The prices were not bad at all, and certainly were not bad for the level of service that we recieved. We indulged a bit, and had cheesecake for dessert. But we split one piece three ways, so it was less of an indulgance that it could have been. Oh, and that cheesecake? Brought in from New York.

The pictures, from top to bottom: 1. Leslie and me, in Freemason Abbey. 2. My plate from brunch. (salmon cake, on a bed of greens) 3. Leslie, me, and Mimi. 4. One of the Norfolk dolphins, with Freemason Abbey reflected in the glass.


We walked through the historic area today, which was beautiful. Parts of the old part of town still have their brick streets. Even the warehouses are pretty.
Of course, then it started to rain. Second day in a row that it did that. Yesterday, we went out to the botanical gardens, but were rained out of there, too. But we consoled ourselves in McArthur Mall.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good god. Copyright again

The copyright discussion is not any more entertaining today than it was last time (or the time before) or even MSTA back in 2000.

So, on to an update.

First of all, my house sold. We signed papers on Saturday. There are inspection hoops to jump through, but it should be a done deal. Less money than I hoped for, but enough to move on.

I survived my trip to Virginia. The weather was mostly cooperative; only a 30 minute delay.
Leslie picked me up at the airport, and warned me that the rooms were bare-- the three hots and a cot were reduced to a stripped bed. No microwave, no sheets, no mini-fridge, no towels--- not even pillows for gosh's sake.

So I went to Target and Walmart and bought linens and pillows. And Leslie bought a mini-fridge. We got the fridge back to the dorm, and it had a huge dent in the side. She wanted to take it back on Monday, but white trash that I am, I talked her into waiting until the last day. No point in overly complicating things.

Project Runway starts its new season tomorrow. And do we have a television? Only in the lounge. How badly do I want to torment those poor foreign nationals to try to watch it?

I'll probably just catch the re-runs. Although, one of the designers is from Mabelvale. Mabelvale! How does a designer live in Mabelvale, Arkansas?

My classes are blah. They are not classes that I wanted to take. But they fulfill my residency requirement.

Back to class, I suppose.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What I have been reading...

Besides the textbooks, I mean. I have been reading Generation Y'all, written by the daughter of one my co-workers (one I like and visit with periodically). Like me, Emily had her first baby obscenely young. While I was married, instead of single, a lot of what she writes about seems really, really familiar. Mea was born when I was 21 & W was born when I was 23. I drug the kids across campus many days when I could not get a sitter & was too poor for daycare. The lack of stroller accessibility on campus does not appear to have changed. I am living, breathing proof that it is do-able to finish college with babies. Do-albe, but not easy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Let's do the time warp again...

So I haven't written in what? Nearly a month? I guess it is really just a couple of weeks. I have started back to school-- headed off to PhD camp next week. Two weeks in Virginia, sans kids, so maybe I can catch up. Maybe I can even get ahead?

I am only a week in, and am so sick of my classes I could die. Truthfully, the main problem is the lack of relevance. One class is a reprise of what I took in the spring. While interesting, it does not really add anything to what I did then. The other will probably help with a grant I want help write for our writing center. Regardless, I had rather take something that will count toward graduation. Which neither of them do. I have already taken all my electives. So, all this summer does is let me fulfill my "on campus" requirement.

Okay, enough ranting.

My house is nearly done. I should post pictures.
It looks darling and we have two "second-lookers" scheduled this evening. I hope one of them makes an offer. I am so tired of picking up my house. I have threatened my children that if they use "real" cups instead of disposable ones, I will maim them. I am so tired of chasing after them to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. And yes, I do know that by doing that I am depriving them of learning to do it themselves. But I also know that shrieking like a banshee when potential buyers are driving up is not a way to sell a house, even though the children may learn a great lesson from it.

Todd and the kids went with dad to the Buffalo today. (We drove up to mom and dad's yesterday). They are out of the house and so it is peaceful.

In my old age (and having spent too much time painting lately), I have turned into a Muppephone. The "ow!" sound that escapes my body when I stand up is involuntary and really should fit into a Marvin Suggs rendition of Lady of Spain. Of course, Statler and Waldorf would probably boo me off the stage.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

So, more painting

Just finished up the master bath. I had it kind of botched, really, with two different shades of green and rough drywall. And the top two feet of the walls were siding that was peeling and not very nice. So I scraped peeling paint and textured the drywall. And filled rough spots. And primed, and painted.

I hurt.

And the ceiling is still peeling. We are just going to put up new bead board and be done with it. I cannot scrape and sand 100 square feet of ceiling. Just can't. I can already hardly breath from the sanding, etc. that we have already done. Mea has been a trooper, doing what work that she could and keeping me company when she couldn't.

The color is an awful pale apricot. It looks so... boring. But it is done. And it looks more "finished" than it did before. There is some fiddly bits around the shower to sort out, probably with caulk. I sort out a lot of things with caulk.

My closet is located inside my bathroom-- not the best plan, but it is an old house. Much of it does not appear to be planned. Anyway, now all the stuff that I pulled out on Tuesday has to go back in. And the house needs to be straighted up, because I have so not been picking up since I started on the latest round of paint. So there is laundry to be done and kid stuff to hide.

And a trip to the mother-in-law's to pack for.

Yes, gentle reader, my husband has scheduled a trip to see his mother. Neil Gaiman canceled his reading in Tulsa, so he figured that it couldn't get much worse, so we are packing up the minivan with all three kids and my husband's breathing machine and heading to southeast Missouri in the heat of the summer.

And tomorrow, I must finish the tile in the other bathroom. Todd finally put the cement board around the window so I can (did I mention that I started this job in April?), so I need to get that done. Why the push to finish up all my home improvement projects? My classes start on Monday. Only six hours this summer (as opposed to nine last summer-- that was insane), but I am interested in neither, really. Oh, and I have an article to co-write in the next two weeks.

It is after midnight, so I suppose I should go to bed. So I guess I will.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My turn with the funeral post...

Today I went to Arvilla Smith's funeral. Arvilla and I were not that close, but she and my great-grandmother were. Arvilla came from a big family, and, as I understand it, kind of got lost in the crowd. My granny (the afore mentioned great-grandmother) was raising her grand daughter, Patsy, who was about the same age, and so Arvilla kind of adopted the family.

So Arvilla was always around. While she was not technically related, I saw her more often that I did many of her cousins (except Wardena's kids mentioned in the Pond story recently).

We went to my granny's on Sundays, after church and after lunch. About every month or two, Arvilla would be there. As far as I know, she never came empty handed. She was always bringing a pie, or flowers, or something. When granny got older and couldn't take care of herself, Arvilla got a job with the Area Agency on Aging so that she could come and get paid to take care of her. Arvilla is the only person I know that could bake an apple pie that tasted like my granny's. And I think granny had her bake the pies for us, really. She liked circus peanuts (which I still like stale, because that is how granny's always were, because she stored them on top of the refrigerator).

Eventually, Arvilla got a different job-- one that was full time with benefits. Which is a good thing, because, like everyone I love, she got cancer. She won a couple of rounds, but with cancer, you always lose the war. Cancer won June 15.

It is not that Arvilla and I were that close, really. I have only seen her a handful of times since my granny died. But I still loved her, if that makes any sense. When she came to my mamaw and papaw's house after my papaw died, we all cried together. She came to the house for my mamaw's funeral as well. She was part of the family. Any of us would have done anything for her.
And more than herself, personally, she is part of my childhood-- my life at "home." That life keeps slipping further and further away. I used to kid myself and say that I would move home, if I could get a job that paid anything, but Todd was actually offered a job there a couple of years back that he turned down. That is not who I am any more.

But it is hard watching that world evaporate. Arvilla's kids are not like her (and the one that is most like her lives in Greenbrier, not at home). My mom is not like her granny. And I am not really like either one. I wish I could capture that world, because there is no where like it. It was anachronism twenty years ago, so it would be even more so now.

But, oh, how I wish it weren't.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Disappointment

Neil Gaiman won't be coming to Tulsa. Evidently my tickets will be refunded.

And the only people who have looked at my house (so far) can't really afford it. (In the multilist, it is #10196134). And, turns out, real estate has been slower this June than normal.

Disappointing.

On the up side, we went to Branson yesterday to take the kids to Silver Dollar City to celebrate surviving putting the house on the market. After the kids rode the rides for a couple of hours, we went to Bass. And Bass was having a sale. I got a couple pair of shoes and two linen dresses and a woven top. I love the dresses. They will be nice and cool this summer. And they were 70% off. And Todd got some shoes, too. But they are boy shoes and much less interesting. So that was lovely. And then we ate in Harrison and then we came home.

Actually, only some of us came home. Mea went to church camp. AG church camp. That just makes me smile a little bit. Her grandparents sent her. I don't think I could have gotten her there with a cattle prod. Why? You may well ask. For one thing, their website is terrible. For another, their rules are restrictive. Here is a sample from their application:
Multi-media players, firearms, knives, weapons, communicative devices or clothing and other articles displaying questionable content are NOT allowed.

Cell phones are not allowed. Students caught using cell phones will have their phones confiscated until checkout on Friday. The AR DISTRICT will not be responsible for lost or stolen cell phones.

DRESS CODE -
  • ALL CLOTHING MUST BE NO SHORTER THAN 2” ABOVE THE KNEE.
  • Shorts can be worn during the day. Absolutely NO spandex shorts, boxer shorts, or shorts shorter than 2” above the knee.
  • Abbreviated attire such as half shirts, tank tops, sundresses, spaghetti straps or crop shirts will not be allowed, and should be left at home.
  • Shirts and dresses that have ANY part of the back missing will not be allowed. NO oversized armholes or sides cut out of shirts.
  • Tight fitting clothing (pants and shirts) should be left at home. If you bring it, you will be asked to change. ALL CLOTHING MUST BE MODEST.
  • Shoes must be worn at all times. Shoes that cover the whole foot must be worn while riding go-carts.
  • For evening services, young ladies may wear modest dresses or long pants. Young men must wear long pants (this means clean and with no holes in them) and a shirt. Absolutely no shorts for evening services!
  • If in doubt, DON’T BRING IT!
Mea dresses pretty modestly for a 15 year old, but these rules may hearken back to 1955... We had to go shopping so that she would have some shorts that she could wear.

Actually, the dress code is less restrictive that when I attended in the 80s. Back then, shorts were verboten, but we could wear culottes. My mother, who only sews under extreme duress made me culottes because she could not stand the thought of sending me to Hot Springs in the summer in jeans. They were terrible, but I was sent back to my room to change one day because they were too short! So someone had something wrong with them, and I am pretty sure that it was not my mother. Ah, they joys of religious education.

And W? He is hiding out at Mom's. He had no desire to come home and not mess up his room.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Pond

Mike, from the National Writing Project of Central Arkansas, (and who is not my cousin) came to our institute on Monday and led us in some great writing exercises.

One was to draw a map of where we grew up and then mark places where interesting things happened. Then write about one or more interesting places.

These are the assignments that I never try, because I cannot imagine them working, but I felt compelled to play along, since I had invited him and I was in charge (at least nominally) of the institute.

Anyway, this is what I wrote about...

The pond was forbidden. Partly because it was nasty. I mean, we could see the cows standing in it, so we knew it was foul. The other reason is that my mother and my grandmother both had a deep abiding terror of us drowning.

Of course, that made it all the more interesting.

On the whole hilltop, my brother and I were the only kids. In the days before VCRs and satellite tv, boredom was our constant enemy. My cousin, Mike -- his parents called him Julio for some reason I could never fathom-- occasionally came over to our grandparents' house. We lived for these visits. Mike was an expert at keeping boredom at bay.

So when he came over, us kids would go outside and play. Some places, of course, were off limits. Off limits were the chicken house, the "smoke house," the garden, the haybarn, the hog barn, the old barn and the pond. Those were places where work was done-- except the old barn and the pond. They were just dangerous. Work, or anything resembling work, we were content to avoid.

Danger was another matter.

We used to sneak over to the old barn. It was built in the 19th century, about the same time my Granny's house was built. The barn lost its roof to one of the very few wind storms that we had in the Ozarks back when I was too young to wander the farm by myself. We weren't, however, stupid-- just daring. We stuck to the log pens where the roof was totally gone rather than where the roof was only partially gone. But my grandpa still scolded us every time he caught us there.

The pond was also forbidden. It was spring fed, so it always had water in it. The spring wasn't big enough to cause the water to move a lot. Still, the orange water beckoned us. We knew that we would be beaten if we were caught playing in the water, tempting as that was on an un-airconditioned July day in Arkansas. So instead we haunted the edges.

One summer, we had enough of a drought that Mike decided that we could get to the stump that was in the pond. This was no ordinary stump, you understand, but a giant stump that was the remains of an ancient tree. It was not intact, but instead had a multitude of levels supported by gigantic roots suspending it as an island in the pond.

We wanted to conquer that stump. It was just big enough for the three of us to sit on it. So we waited until the grown-ups were busy talking about who had the best tomatoes on the creek and what calves might be selling for in the fall to head out for the pond to make that stump into our domain.

We stood by the edge of the pond. There was a rock positioned fortuitously between the shore and the stump. If we could just stretch our legs out far enough, we could catch that rock and jump over to the stump. Mike and I were not quite sure that we could do it, so we put my little brother up to trying. Craig would do anything to win our approval, so he blithely bounced over. Mike and I followed.

Everything we talked about sitting on that stump, every stupid game we played crackled with the excitement of sitting on our perch that was both surrounded by the pond and above it. We did this every time Mike came over that summer.

Until, of course, our grandfather caught us. Our pleas that we were in no danger went unheeded. We were supervised for the rest of the summer.

And so boredom defeated us. That summer.

There are details here that I made up, but the pond, the stump, and the barns were real.

House for sale update...

So Wednesday afternoon, I came home and the house looked worse than it did when I left. Todd and Mea decided to hook up the other room-sized air conditioner, and they broke a window pane. Then spent all day cleaning it up. So I called my realtor and asked her not to come.

Today, she could have come, even though the house is far from perfect. But she was busy, so is coming in the morning.

Monday, June 02, 2008

So, still selling my house

My Realtor probably thinks that we are lying to her. That we don't really intend to sell. That we are the most disorganized people on the face of the planet (well, that part is true anyway).

Well, she just called. She's coming by on Wednesday to advise about what our priorities should be.

Now I am off to pack up more of Miss O's stuff. Did I mention that that baby has more stuff than I do? Every time I look up, there is another box of her crap to pack up.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New post

I stabbed myself installing lino tiles in Mea's room. That makes me an idiot. I stuck a band-aid on in instead of going to the emergency room to get stitches because it was still attached. (Mea laughs as I write this, but I don't think it's funny).

But, on the bright side, I found the makeup that both Clinique counters in town swear has been discontinued. Where did I track down this elusive makeup? Ebay? A flea market? An obscure foreign makeup website? Nope. The Clinique website. And what makeup product do I so diligently seek? A special shade of lipstick? A particular eye shadow? Volumizing mascara? Nope. City Stick foundation. I am feeling really boring as I write this... How lame is it to be this excited to buy foundation? (And yes, I do wear it, lots of times, especially at the beginning of a semester-- not so much after mid-term). And next semester, I have to talk to grown-ups, not just students. So I'll have to wear some makeup, right?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Moving before moving

So we have told our realtor that she can walk through our house on Wednesday.

That sentence causes my chest to tighten.

We have done some landscaping in our front yard.

We have hauled out several pickup loads full of stuff.

Our house does not look any less full.

Right now, it sounds like a dandy idea to tell her that we need a month. Or three.

We have to empty rooms in order to paint.

We have to paint. No option.

And now Olivia is crying. Dissolved on the floor. And I am not sure I care why. She needs to go to bed.

I need to go to bed. Barring that, I need to do some laundry.

Maybe I should dissolve on the floor crying. But I am pretty sure no one would care why.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

So, selling my house

We have made an offer on a house-- a nice house in a nice neighborhood that looks like it was decorated by my mother in law. Not that there is anything wrong with that; my mother in law has great taste. Anyway, that means a marathon to getting our house ready for people to see it. Including our Realtor.

In other news, we were approved for the loan we need for the new house. I was a bit worried about that, simply because I forget to pay bills on time occasionally. And we owe too much money to everyone in the world.

We landscaped the front of our house today. We had a couple of flower beds already, but they were kind of empty. So we lit out at the crack of dawn this morning and went to a nursery in El Paso (just past Vilonia) and bought some shrubs. Then we went to Home Depot and bought some huge ferns. Then I painted part of the front of the house (where I am not longer sure we will be able to put scaffolding) with a roller. That takes forever.

Tomorrow, I need to finish tiling my bath tub. And decluttering. And, more decluttering. This does not strike me, right at this moment, as my smartest move ever.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Allure-ment

Is anything more alluring that stolen moments to write? Right now, I should be coding my research project, which is due on Tuesday. But I am not. Here I am instead, with too much to say and everything wanting to come out in a jumble.

The news of today? The county I grew up in has some of the cleanest air in the nation. That does not surprise me in the least. But I can't help but think back to high school when one of my friends did a science fair project on acid rain, and discovered that nowhere was safe from it, not even Newton County, of the A air quality rating given by the American Lung Association.

In other news, I have decided that I desperately want to sell my house. And truthfully, it is not that I don't love my house-- I do! But I need a four bedroom house in a way that is hard to express. Miss O occupies our bedroom, Mea's bedroom and the living room. I so want *one* room where all of her stuff can reside! I even know the house I want. It has four bedrooms and was built in the 1950s, and was never updated. Paneling everywhere! And a pink bathtub in one of the bathrooms. Pink! 1950s cotton candy pink. And you know what? I would totally leave it.

This is so, by far, not everything I want to say, but I have miles to go before I sleep.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cattle

We came home (to Big Creek) for the weekend. We drove up last night after the Tennebrae service at church for Good Friday. I skipped it to pack (and order a new camera), but the kids said that it went well. The purpose for this trip, other than Easter service with my family, was to work cattle. By work, I mean vaccinate, spray for insects, mark, tag, fly tag, and, ahem, castrate as necessary. Todd and the kids did not have skilled jobs in this program. Instead, they chase cattle, and help separate calves. Actually, Mea had a skilled job. She organized all the supplies, and handed tools as necessary, kind of like a surgical tech.

My contribution to this operation was documentation. I took my video camera and filmed an hour of their work. One of the neighbors, Phillip, came over and helped out. He works around for different folks on the weekends. Phillip is amazing to watch. Dad was, too. I wonder if those skills will be around in 30 years. I know when I taught in St. James, the farmers had already switched to a service instead of doing it themselves.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Closing tabs (and up too late)

I just put the Vino on a CD to send to press. It took longer than I expected. A couple of people had technical problems that slowed things down. I guess I need to remind everyone that they are welcome to use the Vino computer for editing ; )

The Skidmore Writer is guide to college writing for students. I find the section on Understanding Professor's Comments to be interesting and can see where it would helpful for a first year student.

"How to Create Scoring Rubrics" from the Teagle foundation has information on creating and using scoring rubrics.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

So... Saturday Morning

Why can't I sleep late on Saturdays any more? Is this an unforeseen (and even unforetold?) curse of oldness? Bah.

The remote control for our cable box has disapparated. Evidently the cat snuck in an ate it. I say this because none of my children have seen it. My husband swears that I was the last person to touch it. Of course, if this were true, it would be in one of the places I leave it (which it is not). Miss O had a knock-down drag-out tantrum last night because she hadn't had a "tv turn all day." And no remote.

We ended up watching Muppet Show (season two) in my bedroom. With the crisis over, she was asleep within ten minutes.

So, up, with everyone asleep, remoteless, I am watching Lost in Translation.

Random Blathering

So my life is so completely lame. I am trying to think of something to write about, and all I can think of is what is on television-- Friends. The one where the girls lose the apartment.

Mea is sick today-- we are hoping that it is *not* strep. Especially since strep means that I have to do her wretched babysitting job.

Today is my spring break. No class today, but I do have to get my research project started. I now have IRB clearance from two institutions. That is a lot of IRB.

We are doing professional development to get ready for our assessment program. It is really going pretty well, but it is tiring. More tomorrow (along with my regularly scheduled class load), and on Thursday.

On another subject...
My children are seriously lacking in the 80s-90s movie department. I discovered a couple of weeks ago that Mea had never seen Wayne's World. Or Weekend at Bernie's. Or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. She (and W) are seriously missing out on the whole... understanding of the popular culture that has shaped my understanding of reality. They get the music, so I am not completely isolated in my home. (Actually, Mea introduced me to Bauhaus-- how wrong is that??) So on movies, I educate them, one movie at a time.

Feel free to give me some ideas for 1980-1995 movies to share with teen aged children.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sound Essay

This was done for the New Media Theory and Practice course that I am taking... I have no idea how the grade will be, but I love the result. (Crossposted from http://cybernatedlearning.blogspot.com-- dreary class blog)

I knew what I wanted to write about from the beginning of this assignment. I believe passionately that people should write and tell their stories. Or just tell their stories. I draw heavily on my past and on my cultural heritage to make meaning of my life and experiences. So it was very important for me to try to pull in someone from my hometown.

I have some video of my grandmother, who passed away in 2005. She was our next door neighbor, and was consequently very important in my life. She often talked about her past, but of course, she never considered herself to be a writer, and she never wrote. Rarely did she even write letters, as the telephone was so much more immediate. My video, however, would not import (after about eight hours of trying), so I did not get to use my grandmother's voice.

Something that I did have, though, was an interview that my daughter did for her history day project with Mrs. Marshall, a friend of my mother's. Mrs. Marshall and my mother ended up talking about the stories they knew from childhood, and how telling stories made it easier to cope with the death of loved ones. So after 14 hours of attempting, I finally re-imported Mrs. Marshall's interview into Adobe Premiere Elements, which allowed me to extract the audio.

My audio essay was originally a lecture that I gave to our Honors College freshmen class about writing memoir. It was based heavily on a piece by Patricia Hampl that we all read. So I removed most of what came from the reading, except one little piece that I quoted.

I also went looking to see if I could find Donald Murray talking about writing. He has been the most influential theorist on my teaching. And I love the way he approaches writing, especially if I trying to encourage someone to write. And I did find an audio interview with him by Chip Scanlon.

I used Mediaevel Baebes' Veni Veni as a background track.

I am really pleased with how this turned out, except that I am afraid that the volume is not even throughout. That was hard to get right because the Murray clip was posted online, and he was on a telephone. The interview footage with Mrs. Marshall was from a video camera without a separate microphone. The difference in inputs makes it hard to get the volume right. If I only had a mixing board.

I was really surprised by how many problems that I had with the technology. I usually have way more problems with the concepts than with the tools, but this time the concept came pretty easily and the tools nearly killed me.

Audio Essay: Writing Your Self

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Writing home

Yet another post inspired by Tim...
I am trying to write my home. And that keeps me from writing other things. And I am not sure that I can write it until I come to terms with it.

As much as I love the Ozarks, and the Ozarkers who live there, growing up, I was more ambivalent. I never really fit in as a child. I read too much, I had asthma. I have a non-verbal learning disability-- I don't pick up some social cues, especially non-verbal ones. And I was sensitive as a child and cried easily. Sounds like a textbook case for alienation, doesn't it?

And so I hung out with my family. My grandparents lived on the next hill. My great-grandmother across the field from them-- a quick walk around the pond. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I learned to sew. I learned about when they lived in Kansas City and in California. I admired the strength and determination that allowed them to buy the farm that we all lived on (my parents bought part of it).

But then school intruded.

Everyone I knew is dying, though, Joe Kenneth, Timothy, Amber (a girl I used to baby sit-- baby sit! She was 26), my granny, my grandparents, Gladys (my grandmother's friend).

I would love to do this well-- a cynical A Long Way from Chicago... a story that shows the beauty of the area and its people, and that shows me as, well, frankly, not a pathetic victim. I want to be a smart, engaging observer. But the problem is, of course, the reality of who I was. So really, the first character I have to create is myself as a child. And that is a major reconstruction job.

So, of course, I am paralyzed. I write about what I would write if I were to write. And I really only manage to write that here. So.

There you go.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reruns

I am watching a Designing Women rerun, which makes me wish for the 80s, or at least 80s television. Mary Jo and Suzanne are debating the difference between "come hither" and "happy to make your acquaintance" looks. That is so what I want to see on TV Land, not the High School Reunion reality show they are hawking. I have managed to miss my own high school reunions. The only one I have any desire to watch is Romy and Michelle's. It makes me wonder what is wrong with those people who sign up for that show. Kind of like Who Wants to be Superhero (which I love, don't get me wrong-- mostly out of adoration for Stan Lee).

Now Mea wants to watch The Breakfast Club, which I think glorifies drug use. And worse, it shows drugs solving isolation. Drugs don't ever solve isolation. Drugs don't solve anything. I try not to judge people who use. I understand that some people need to escape from their lives. I try to construct my life in such as way that I do not need to escape it through anything more than a couple several hours of husband & kid free scrapbooking. Mostly, I have been successful with that.

I am obviously getting old. It is 10 pm and I am falling asleep as I type.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stranglehold

My life is a bit overwhelming. Miss O was not feeling well, so I let her sleep in and then took her to school. W didn't realize that she was at school, so he did not get her.

And our childcare provider completely forget about the kids. Completely. And her cell phone battery died. So we could not contact her.

And of course, today was one of those days when I had a meeting with my department head and people outside my department (including another department head).

And the renewing contract that I thought I was getting? Seems be have become someone else's tenured position. But I am sure they will still let me do site visits.

Oh, and the circus I thought I was sending my kids to? NEXT week. In my defense, Todd had the tickets with the date, not me.

I want to go to bed, but I have another hour of class.

Fun.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Funerals

This began as a comment about Tim's really wonderful piece about Southern Funerals.

My family is about as bad. I know which funeral home will be called, and where my family members will be buried. I even know which florist various members of my family will use. I think we are all leaving the songs up to whoever is stuck planning the thing (and paying for it) though.

And I don't know where I'll be buried and funeraled, which I find distressing. Everyone I really know is down here, but "our" funeral home is in Harrison. The older I get, the less I belong in Harrison (or the surrounding areas). So what do southerners do who have lost their place in the world?

Joe Kenneth died week before last. It is not like he and I were close, by any stretch of the imagination. But Joe Jr. and Craig were best friends all the time we were growing up. And when Jr came over, I played GI Joe with them (I got to be Scarlett) until Algebra destroyed any free time that remained in my life.

When my parents called me to tell me that he died (okay, so Dad emailed me-- we are just that dysfunctional) my question about the arrangements was "when" because I knew where. And who would officiate. And I wish I could have gone. Right now, my life is not arranged in such a way that I can just take off. Although when Aunt Dorotha died, I made a flying trip to Harrison for the visitation.

There is something comforting about going to a funeral in my hometown. I know the people who are there, many of whom I care for a great deal. I know what will happen. (Well, except the time I almost pulled out of the "family side" of an icy parking lot at a funeral home). But a funeral, for better or for worse, is a ritual. And as such, it reinforces our place in the world.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lots of family time

Everyone was over at one point or another today, since it was W's birthday. The house, of course, is a wreck, but at least the seating areas were cleaned off by the time everyone got here. Dad helped Todd cut a tree and put up cement board in the bathroom. We still need to replace the window with glass block, but that will be a pain, so I am avoiding it. After the window, we (read I) will have to tile the surround. I am avoiding that, too.

Todd is changing sheets, because he told me two days ago that he would. He didn't actually mean it, as it turns out, but I'm holding him to it (I hate changing sheets-- cleaning the bathroom I don't mind so much). So he is fussing at me to find stuff and is making snorting noises as he works so I will fully understand how vexed he is.

Now that the bed is made, I am going to get it in. Today has been a long day.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Oddly enough

Pilots may benefit from anti-impotence pill

I am not completely sure why this article from Reuters strikes me so. I find it both funny and terribly, terribly wrong.

And Ricky is off of Project Runway. I'll grant his design was not as good as some of the others, but I was so happy that he won last week's challenge. Had they not done away with immunity, he would have been fine. I suppose that one reason I liked Ricky so much. besides his constantly feeling unsure of himself in a non-annoying way, is that I have an affinity for people who come from marginalized backgrounds. Not from my own background, which was fairly solidly rural middle class, but from the working class background of so many of the people I grew up with. I get so tired of hearing how they could be "just as successful as anyone else if they just tried harder." Well possibly, had they been blessed with parents who read to them, mentors who encouraged them, a prestige accent, and above average intelligence. But that is not really trying harder, is it?

Friday, February 01, 2008

So I am old...

My daughter (who is really only 14) has a job. It is a temporary job, working in a church nursery for a Bible study. But still. One more milestone in the downhill slide to old-ladyhood.

We're going back north tomorrow morning for another attempt at History Day interviews.

I played hooky this afternoon. I did. After my classes, since I had no office hours, I left. Just walked out. Becky and I went to Bread Company and had lunch, and then went shopping. I bought the girls some stuff & me some shoes. I needed shoes. I have a hard time getting shoes that I am comfortable in all day walking around, so if I find shoes that I can get by with wearing with a skirt that are socially acceptable, I snap them up. And then wear them until the insides are shredded and/or the soles disintegrate.

Miss O is having multiple meltdowns this afternoon. She is "hungry" but only wants food that I don't have here. She doesn't even want to go shop for food. She evidently only wants to terrorize me.

And she is succeeding.

And to make things worse, she is watching Animal Planet. I HATE Animal Planet. I had rather sit in a room with flickering lights. Even if they buzz.

She has subtly changed her demands so that they can, technically, be met. Perhaps that means they are negotiable? And I do get to run some errands this afternoon? (Although it must be noted that I can no longer run them all, since it is now after 4:30).

So I am now off to do the bidding of a tyrannical five year old.