Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lost in Translation

Will and I recently took a trip to visit our daughter, Alli, and see her artwork on display in a scholarship exhibit in the art department at Wright State University. We're pretty proud of her and her work. She's very talented, if I do say so - you know, being her mom and all.

We did a lot of shopping over the weekend, too, and took Will to Ikea in West Chester, Ohio. For those of you who have never been to Ikea, it's amazing. You can get every- and anything for your home decor there. Unfortunately, we have none in Missouri. But Alli has found most of her furniture and kitchen utensils at Ikea. I love the place, too. I especially like being surprised by the fun things you can find there: crocheted organizer boxes for your bathroom or closets, wonderful flatware sets and kitchen doodads, wooden toys for kids, even a doggy leash hook just like I saw at Jamie's when I dropped off Storm.
Cute, isn't it? A hook for the leash that looks like a little doggie tail? We needed one.

It wasn't until we rang it up that we got the funny part. Remember that Ikea is a Swedish company. I know they will hear certain words in American conversation, but somebody needs to tell the computer entry folks at Ikea that some words are not OK for printing in polite company. Yes, that's right - you're reading that correctly. Here, I'll blow it up for you...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Takin' on the Role of Nanny

Yep, it hit me yesterday - if my mom isn't making those awesome round dishcloths anymore, somebody has to pick up the ball and run with it. That's right. I haven't knit anything in well over a decade (closer to two) but I picked up the needles today. Actually, I bought a new pair and some cotton yarn and *gulp* started knitting.
I was pretty proud of myself when the first 20 rows (one time through the pattern) came out looking pretty much like it was supposed to. I even recognized it as a part of the familiar pattern of Grandma's Round Dishcloth. (My mom, not my grandma - but my daughters both know it by this name ;) At this point I was a little disappointed in the yarn. I bought red, white, and blue specifically to make a patriotic one, but here it barely had any red on it.
The trick of the pattern is that it sucks you in. The pictures of the dishcloths look amazing and the pattern looks short and sweet. HA! At the bottom of the pattern comes the catch: Repeat rows 1-20 eight MORE times (total of nine times). Man, and my index finger is already painfully tender from shoving the pointy end of the needle around. (Remember - no knitting for over a decade = no callous.) But I had to keep going for two reasons: 1) I wanted to see how far before the blue would show up and 2) in trying to find the pullout part of the skein I yanked the guts out of it and had to knit all of that so it wouldn't tangle :P 

While the first part came out exactly according to pattern directions (a minor miracle in itself), I noticed I was knitting a little more quickly and confidently on the second part...but I think I probably goofed a row or two. No prob. I can't see any glaring mistakes and anytime a row didn't end with the right number of stitches I just repeated that row and voila, it came out okay. Luckily, the pattern has a steady increase of leftover stitches at the end of every other row so I can keep track of where I am fairly well...and if I actually did put the same row in twice it doesn't show ;)

 At the end of the third time through the pattern the blue is just barely starting - yay! But my hands need a break, so...well, blog it! Oh, dang it. Now that I'm looking at the picture I think I found a mistake...but I bet it won't matter when I'm washing dishes with it, eh? ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Moving in the Write Direction - 2

Writers write.
...and they study their craft to improve their skills. I have a laundry list of blogs I subscribe to but I don't read them all religiously. I can't. There aren't enough hours in the day. But I do check in on articles that interest me and I find a few common themes to take away. Now all I have to do is start using that good advice.
For example: I get so excited when I check my stats and find people are reading my blogs. I've had readers from several different countries, in fact, which blows me away because I have no idea how they found me and I'd love to find out so I can learn more about what works and what doesn't. So I think, "Man, I wish they would leave comments or follow me or something!" But other than following the blogs I follow, I tend to forget the advice they all give: post comments.
I need to build a few bridges in the blogosphere. I'm still trying to come up with a workable writing schedule - not tough in the summer, but during the school year... And I need to network a bit while I'm learning. I did comment to one or two bloggers and they had very positive responses. That's always encouraging.
Task: Comment unto others as you would have them comment unto you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Moving in the Write Direction - 1

So I came up with a new term this morning. I told my sis-in-law that I'm experiencing "writer's sludge." It's not exactly writer's block - I mean, I have ideas and word strings and all the good stuff in my head, but getting it onto the page, so to speak, is like slogging through ankle-deep mud. I can almost feel the sucking pull of the struggle to get words out of my head and put them where I can see them...well, where others can see them. Like I said, they're in my head.
Sometimes it's like video. I see fiction in scenes like a movie and it doesn't all format right when I try to puke the guts of it out, but that's drafting craft and editing craft is always necessary, at least for me. Editing is where my perfectionist OCD kicks in.
Sometimes it's audio - I hear the sentence structures and how the words flow. Usually that's my poetry, but it happens in just about everything I write at one point or another.
Sometimes it's a tactile thing. I'm a writer who still needs to hold the pen and scribble words to physically force them out of my head most of the time. Blogging isn't like that, but the rest of my writing usually is.
Writers write. Procrastinating writers...uh...study writing techniques and make excuses about why they aren't finished with their projects, aren't published yet, aren't making progress...well, you get it. It's like any other procrastinating. I want to move beyond the excuses and make a success of myself in my writing the way I have in education (so far - I have dreams and goals to achieve yet in that arena as well). 
So I have a summer goal: write a lot.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Scary Smart or Ya Gotta Love Math Geeks!

My daughter texted me about a book I needed to look into written by Mike Keith. Naturally, I checked Amazon for the book, but at first all I found was a link to a book on Java. Unfortunately, although equally mathematical and certainly technical, I don't think this is the correct Mike Keith. The book she told me to research is called Not A Wake: A Dream Embodying (Pi's) Digits Fully for 10000 Decimals. That's right, he wrote a book using pi as the basis for the words he used to write the book.
It's called "constrained writing" and involves using a set of rigid rules to write poetry, fiction, etc. In this case, each consecutive word must represent the next consecutive number in the sequence for pi. What's even more interesting is that it's not his first. In fact, this set of rules is common enough to have its own language: "pilish." It's true - I looked it up!
Okay, so I think having a word count is often a tough enough constraint for writing and academic writing is full of rules, but I get those and I can abide by them. I'm enjoying my new blog-world because the rules are what I make them and that's very freeing for an unknown writer with a lot to say. But I followed the link on his page and it gave a link to a PDF of the first few pages. It reads beautifully like poetry, which, if you understand the universe in terms of the music of the spheres (I know - you're hearing "blah, blah, blah"), it makes sense. Numbers and music are so interrelated in so many fundamental ways and the beauty in both is astounding. Just the same, I found myself checking his word lengths against a short calculation of pi . 
On one hand, I'd like to get it and read it...and keep checking pi to 10,000 decimals. Not A Wake appears to be the first novel written in Pilish. Or maybe I'll take a whack at reading his anagrammatic paraphrase of three books of the KJV Bible, The Anagrammed Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. Of course, I should really read his music writings...
On the other hand, maybe I'll just start by looking up poetry in Pilish that only goes to the 31st or 50th place and start small. I mean, this is a guy who wrote a book about numbers called "Keith Numbers." If he can name a number system after himself...
Baby steps...  

UPDATE: The article Lexi read that led her to contact me about Keith's book can be found here. There are a number of interesting numbers mentioned in the article ;)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gray Hair

Okay, so I already had a good collection of gray hair to cover before being informed of my impending nanny-ism. It's okay - I have a great hairdresser. ;) But it's not the fact that I've been kinda gray for so long now so much as the many, many more I'm getting while my daughter is carrying our first grandbaby. She travels a long way to work every day and when the weather is nasty, it's nerve-wracking for us waiting at home on a late night or icy morning. She put her car in the median once on the ice and we had to go get it the next day. Then she rolled it - totalled it - on another icy morning and we had to go get HER. Then on Wednesday, a perfectly sunny and beautiful afternoon, she was six cars behind a tanker that flipped and spilled hazardous chemicals so they had to completely shut down the highway for awhile to clean it up.

She's fine and baby's also doing great, thank God...but I think He's trying to tell her that yes, He's watching over her, but she needs to transfer to the local store sooner rather than later...or her parents may expire! ;)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Barometric Pressure

Okay, today my Tolerating Stupidity meter is pegged. 
  • Somebody I don't know sent me pornography on my phone, claimed "wrong number" and thought it was funny ("my bad"), and sent more after I told her I would inform the police.
  • My students could NOT get their "talk" buttons turned off, no matter what consequences I offered them.
  • I watched a car nearly sideswipe another right in front of me...
  • two miles later, the car beside me tried to sideswipe ME.
What is it that sets the whole world spinning just a hair off-axis, anyway? Big storms are moving in tonight. Maybe once they get here and clear the air, things will settle down again. I know last year we had a bunch of squirrely activity for a couple days before a tornado hit town, but the day after - when we expected the kids to be crazy - they were calm and awesome all day. Go figure. So if it will work, bring on the rain!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


As I'm learning more about how to use my blog and track usage and readers, I discovered I have had a couple international readers :) Yay! How exciting!

Well, one is my son-in-law. So when he comes home I won't have that particular coolness on my stats. But one was in Denmark. I don't think I know anyone in Denmark - that's REALLY cool! 

So please, if you stumble across me here in the ether, drop a comment to let me know what you think...or keep coming back to visit :) Better yet, follow me and get updates whenever I post. Little things like that make me smile - it takes so little to bring a bit of joy to my aging heart ;)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Getting to Old

My online presence has been...well, off lately. I apologize to my loyal fans (both of you ;) and have to beg infirmity. Getting old has its moments...senior moments, painfully stiff moments, achy joint moments...

I had the opportunity last weekend to update and certify my Tai Chi for Arthritis. It was wonderful to spend the day with so many tai chi players and so many levels of experience. I came away tired but feeling warm and limber. But have I had time to play since then? Well, not a lot. I do some with my students because it helps them learn to calm themselves and focus, improves balance and overall well-being, and lots of other wonderful side-effects. And it's fun for them and for me ;) But teaching is not the full routine or the calming and strengthening I need for my own achy joints, especially when I'm mostly working the same few beginning exercises.

*sigh* It's this changeable spring weather. My hand aches...then my elbow aches...then my knee gets into it...then they start getting together in different combinations. I now have a new set of fashion accessories to help: a pair of crafter's gloves and a brand new elbow support sleeve. Yay. But it's never going to go away completely. Arthritis is a fact of life I'll have to learn to live with.

But this getting to being old thing is for the birds. Yeah, that title isn't a typo - I'm getting towards old these days. I've been joking about it for years, but the achier I get the more I'm not feeling the funny, ya know? *sigh*


Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Babies

As I mentioned previously, I'm going to be a grandmother this summer. Currently, my daughter is living with us while her husband is deployed. I'm sorry he's missing this part of her pregnancy, partly because no man should miss out on the months of crankiness and morning sickness, partly because no daddy should miss out on watching his first child growing...or his wife, for that matter. ;)
I watch her sleeping (she hates it when I take pictures of her sleeping, but I always have enjoyed doing that)and I remember her as a baby herself. Sometimes I can't believe that grown woman really is the same little girl that kept us up half the night and made us walk her for hours every evening for months. Her time is coming. My little one's little one has already done his/her fair share of making new momma miserable. Her husband helped her out: he sent her a wonderful pillow. 
The problem is that when I see her sleeping soundly in that pillow, I remember her in her carseat coming home from the hospital with a bumper around her. She's just bigger with a bigger bumper. Leachco Back 'N Belly - Contoured Body Pillow, Ivory 
The little one is going to be a pistol. How could it be otherwise? Grandparents are, parents are...if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it produces baby ducks.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I learned a new word: polymath. At first I thought it must have something to do with math - makes sense. So it sounded like a person who could figure out lots of kinds of math...maybe? But it was on a writer's blog. Just to be safe, I looked it up. 

polymath: (noun) a person of wide knowledge or learning. (--Oxford Dictionary of English, Kindle Edition)

As luck would have it, that applies to me. So it makes sense to have multiple pages rather than just multiple blogs to monitor and build. This way I can blog with fair regularity on a variety of topics without seeming too out of the norm...for me, anyway. This makes me happy. :)  I want to be a regular contributor, not just post as the whims occur, but the haphazard nature of my inspirations and interests leads to a cluttered blog, so I end up not posting anything. And I don't want to have a dozen different blogs. That's just another batch of clutter. So I'm adding a few pages:
  • The Pendulum Swings - this one will highlight how events happen in different ways throughout history and how they seem to affect today.
  • Unapologetic Christian - I find myself reluctant to post my Christian views on my regular blog because I don't want them buried in the sea of other ideas. Be forewarned: my Christian views include but are not limited to my political stand on various issues, not the least involving the erosion of American Christian freedoms.
  • Where the Ozarks Meet the Prairie - this one relates nicely to the new blog I have in partnership with my friend, Lisa, in Michigan. Here I will photoblog our various travels, scenery, nature subjects, Missouri history and culture...and stuff like that.
  • Adventures in Nannyland - I'm about to be a Nanny! (That's grandmother to all you non-Philly-ites.) Although my family mostly goes by "grandma," I was a great fan of my mother-in-law and will be "Nanny" to my grandbabies. (Besides, my husband and daughters would be heartbroken if I didn't. ;) First one is due in August and I would imagine I'll have a lot to say. (No surprise there to those who know me!)
  • Moving in the Write Direction - *contented sigh* a place to post fiction snippets, thoughts on writing, frustrations along the road to publication and recognition (i.e., getting paid to do this :P), and rants on grammar and usage - my personal pet peeves. I may even write a book review or two, who knows?
  • My Personal Reformation - this one might be hard for me. Believe it or not, I have a private side I don't like to share with others. Included in that is the fact that, organized as I appear, I'm a clutter fiend, too. It's in my DNA so it's doubly hard to fight. But I'm on that road and I need to stay on it. Part of the overhaul of my system includes writing daily, soooo...
How many pages is that? I think Blogger allows ten...;)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Startling Beauty

It's been a beautiful winter this year. Tough? Yes, but exceedingly beautiful. Before Christmas we had one school cancellation for extreme cold. Since we came back from Christmas break we've missed nine more days - that's right, a total of ten so far - and we don't appear to be finished yet. Today many schools around us closed early for the rain-sleet-snow-freeze happening all day. Our district stayed open, but I had to clean a half-inch of wet sleet off my windshield before I could leave our slushy parking lot and drive home. 

Now, at nearly 9:30 p.m., we have yet another gorgeous winter scene developing out our windows. The rain and sleet have made the conditions perfect for a thick build-up of snow on the trees. The clouds and falling snow are collecting the light pollution and turning night to twilight reflections.
I decided to try to capture it without flash to show just how bright and beautiful the winter night can be out here where the Ozarks meet the Prairie. The tree out our back window is thickening with snow. It looks like hoarfrost the way it's glued to the branches and building up on them. 

Truly unexpected and absolutely wondrous.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

MMEA - Music in the Ozarks

Every January I travel to Osage Beach to meet with friends and learn more about the art, craft, and techniques of teaching music in elementary school. This year we had great sessions on folk music with Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, two of the New England Dancing Masters. If you've never heard of them, you can learn more at either of their two websites: http://amidonmusic.com/ and  http://www.dancingmasters.com/ The Amidons not only taught us several folk dances, they taught us how to teach them to others. They advocate folk dance in communities and schools as part of our cultural history as well as just plain fun. The New England Dancing Masters have a selection of instructional books with CD's as well as other CD's of music that can be used with their books for variety.
Sashay the Donut (New England Dancing Masters: Even More Dances for Just About Anyone: a companion to the CD)
Chimes of Dunkirk: Great Dances for Children

As a 4th grade student, my teacher and her 5th grade cohort joined our classes to learn to square dancing. I still remember the joy of dancing with classmates and learning the old steps, applying them to newer music just to see if we could. Back then we didn't have a separate teacher for music in the elementary schools in our district. The seeds of my future in music education were planted back in those days. Let's give our kids that chance at tying our past to the future and keeping the fun alive.

For more information about the annual music conference in the Ozarks, see my article: Ozark Music Oasis
For more information about good music stores in our area: Anybody Know Where I Can Get 76 Trombones?