Wednesday, May 30, 2007

States I have been to or through - though I wasn't always conscious. I may have slept through Idaho.

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide


I have this mated pair of cichlids that I’ve had for several years now. I think that I got them when Mary and I were living together on Delmar, so January of 2004, but it might have been earlier. The female has gradually lost the use of her air bladder, just since school let out, and so she is spending more and more time on the bottom of the tank, increasingly on her side. I am facing fish euthanasia issues. She is obviously dieing, but is still strong enough to right herself and eat whenever I feed them. It is very sad to watch. The male hovers around and tries to help right her. He literally noses her into an upright position and digs sand out of her nesting area. There isn’t really anything we can do other than try and make her more comfortable.


Monday, May 28, 2007

baby growth


Doings: It’s been a busy birthday week for me. Wednesday night Jes hosted a surprise party at Third Degree for me. She taught some of us the basics of making paperweights and then Jes’ mom, myself, Beth, Kat, Vanessa, Dan, and Tyler worked in three person teams to make our own paperweights; a very cool birthday indeed.

Thursday I went with Vick’s and Brad’s ESL students on a tour of the Fox Theater. Stan Kann was there and played the orchestral organ for us, rising up out of the stage as he did so. Apparently these tours are a regular thing most Thursdays and Saturdays. Stan the Can isn’t always there and he can’t always get access to the main organ because of rehearsal and set up schedules, but I would still recommend giving the tour a shot. At the end of the tour, fifteen international students from around the world stood on the stage of The Fox and sang happy birthday to me.

Saturday we had a big cookout with around twenty guests. Jes’ mom and David bought me a slow cooker to replace the Weber that was stolen last year. It has several levels and I managed to cook corn on the cob, cedar plank pineapple salmon, hobo stew, and mango chutney eggplant almost simultaneously. I did the brats and finished off the corn on the regular grill. Much fun was had by all, and I had maybe a little too much fun… ouch.

We’ve also been getting after some high tech wants. We got a 160 GB external hard drive to start to manage our data better. I’ve wanted one since my last hard drive crash a few years back, but am just getting around to it. Jes has a massive archive of digital photography to secure, and we are trying to save the laptop on which I am currently typing by backing everything up, nuking its contents, and starting over. We’re going to wipe the hard drive and begin again.

We’d been vaguely trying to get a Wii game system since Christmas. My nephew had brought a new system to the farm over Thanksgiving and we were both quite taken with it. Unwilling to pay the high premium for an internet ordered new one, we finally found a refurbished one in the hood a few weeks ago and it is working great. It’s a very interesting gizmo.

The technology buzz a few years back was “convergence”. The idea behind the term is that technology will converge into single devices that perform many functions – the TV, phone, computer, stereo, etc. will all be the same box. The Wii is a step in that direction. We have it hooked into our wireless network and half the time that it’s on, instead of playing games, we are reading A.P. headlines on the Wii news channel or watching the Wii weather satellite feed. It also has an “internet channel” from which I can surf blogs etc. The Wii Sports games are quite fun, and I’ve been working my way through Zelda.

Today we have a cookout at Sharron’s and then tomorrow I will start on my fall syllabi. We looked at several houses last night that are all possibilities. One of them needs a fair amount of work, like installing a kitchen, but it has an old commercial garage on the back of the property that would make an excellent production studio for Jes. So, it is summer, we are busy, how are you?


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I had this kinda cool idea for what to do on my birthday since we are doing a BBQ party this weekend. I thought it would be fun to go up to the glass studio and try my hand at making a paper weight under Jes’ instruction. So, that is the plan for later. In the meantime I went to look at a house that we can’t afford and also met with the staff at my new school. I was afraid that I would love the house, but thankfully I only really like it.

Professionally I have a fair amount of course design work ahead of me and I need to jump right in as my AP syllabus is due to the clearinghouse in early June. So much for a vacation… I have lots of work to do! Summer is a break from having students, but it is not really a break from being a professional.

I spent most of today at what I will now call “The Circus” (I’ll elaborate more on why I am calling my new job “The Circus” at some later date), sponging up as much as I could from the woman who I am replacing. She is in her mid sixties and it turns out that we have several people in common in our career paths. She had worked with Shirley M. on the AP for several years and was saddened when I told her about the rapid onset Alzheimer’s/dementia. Jim B. had told me that when he saw her last she had no memory of him.

It’s a shame I am replacing this instructor, I would have loved to have had her as a colleague. She is clearly brilliant and I am stepping into some very large shoes. It’s exciting to think about what will be expected of me in the coming year. At “H” I was mostly teaching material I had been teaching for years – I was able to challenge the students, but my personal challenges were more logistical than intellectual. In the coming year I will be jumping into the deep end of the pool and will have to grow as an educator and intellectual in order to meet the rigorous demands of the curriculum. I am so very glad that I returned to teaching – I can’t imagine any other career that would both challenge me to grow and be so interpersonally rewarding. That’s my birthday present to myself: a rewarding future of committed service and personal growth. Jesus, I sound cheesy. Yes K.J., you do.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I cleaned the house tonight – or some of it anyway – and it felt like I was moving back in. When you work an eight hour day in a town that is an hour and a half away you have to let a lot slide. I had no idea what food we had and had to reorganize the pantry to make sense of the myriad cans. In general I don’t know what’s where. You know you are living on the margin when you have a stock of canned meat that you didn’t know you had and your wife is a boarder line vegetarian.

Since we lost the bid on the foreclosure we went house hunting again tonight and are forced to come to terms with how little a lot of money can buy. I promised myself that I wouldn’t ever live like I did in college again, but college style housing is what we can afford. Of eight homes we saw tonight I thought two were livable, if they were in another neighborhood… you have to kiss a lot of frogs. I want to be past the starter home phase, but we aren’t. To keep this post positive, I’ll just say that home hunting in huge urban area is going to take some time. Thankfully we have a month to month lease and are under no pressure to jump at what might work and can wait for what we want.

I am still exhausted from the end of the term.
I will be thirty-four tomorrow.
BBQ is Saturday if you’re free.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

We found out Friday that we'd been outbid for the house. Our second offer was still too low. That's ok. It was going to be more work then I wanted to do anyway. The owners had been chain smokers and I'm not sure that even gallons of Kills could have really solved the smell issue. There are lots of houses that we can afford that have already been rehabbed, they are just a lot smaller.

Friday night I got home and slept, slept, and slept until I woke up rested enough to go to bed and get a good nights sleep. Today we went to the Chinese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. We have a family membership there and can get up to ten people in free with us - we took Vanessa and had great food, got chased by lions and dragons, fed the coy, and watched acrobats do very odd things with their pelvises. I ran into the band teacher from H who retired yesterday - just when you think you're out, they pull you back.

Tomorrow we are helping an Indian family give their furniture to charity. They work with Jes' mom and are moving back to India. Monday is my last day at both H and the puppy mill. Then I will sleep more...


Friday, May 18, 2007

This morning I wrote:

Here we are at the end of another chapter in my life. I handed in my letter of resignation yesterday – parting on very good terms – and in the fall I’ll start a new position here in town. I was so exhausted last night that I fell asleep during dinner. I just put my head in my hands and was gone. I woke up when the strawberry covered cheesecake appeared.

The flip side of crashing so early is that now I am wide awake at two a.m. I am trying to decide between forcing myself to fall back asleep and just going into work. I have two contract days left – half days – to finish up my grading and clean out my room. I was thinking that I would take the truck today, so that I can easily load all my stuff up. The tags are expired, so there is some risk involved.

Blah, endings are troubling, but as they are also generally beginnings the angst is mitigated. I have the summer off to contemplate my navel while I continue to get paid – there is much to recommend the teaching life.


I did not take the truck. I did eat at a truck stop. They were playing ABBA in the truck stop and it was odd. Many hours later I was at the staff picnic and they were also playing ABBA. It was also odd. Take a chance on me, baby can't you see... I liked that song immensely the year before I started kindergarten. I used to sing it when we played Monopoly and I had to draw a Chance card. I am feeling bookended in time by ABBA.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

It’s been a busy day. We bought a WII video game system and put an offer in on a house. We made a low offer so we are expecting some back and forth next week. We bought a re-fabricated video game system and the house is a foreclosure so we are maintaining a consistent pattern for beating market prices. Our last video game system and our car were purchased in similar “deal” circumstances so we are making this pattern our modus operandi for major purchases. I started talking about foreclosures with friends and it turns out that several of them bought their first homes as foreclosures. I don’t mind the work of fixing it up – it feels as though I might be going to work for myself this summer increasing the value of our newly purchased home. I’m done teaching in a week. How are you?


Sunday, May 06, 2007

I am not feeling particularly loquacious, but I seem to have a little time on my hands. I am so used to being overscheduled that when I do get time, I’m not really sure what to do with it. I end up tinkering with fish, plants, or paperwork. Perhaps I should tinker with my long-suffering blog more. I have sixteen or so occasional readers who have stayed with me through this dry spell. I know some of you, but the land-o-lakes reader in Minnesota is a mystery, as is the Navy ship on Westpac. Hello to you readers, I hope you are well. Thanks to the reversible mirror of stat-counter technology, here is where you are viewing me from of late:

26 St. Louis Missouri
6 Chicago Illinois – Justin/Vicki?
5 Wichita Kansas - Vanessa on vacation?
5 New Melle Missouri
4 Merritt Island Florida – Kelly?
3 Kansas City Missouri – Jason/Bethany?
2 Ames Iowa – Kim?
2 Washington Pennsylvania
2 Kirksville Missouri – Jen?
1 Florissant Missouri – University Medical Center?
1 Mexico Missouri
1 Jefferson City – R?
1 Carthage Illinois – Gary?
1 Jacksonville Florida – Vicki?
1 Ft. Worth Texas – Amy?
1 Grand Rapids Michigan
1 New Orleans Louisiana
1 Austin Texas – Angela B?
1 Dallas Texas – Amy?

I handed in my final grades for seniors on Friday, which means that my work load just dropped by half. Three of my classes ended and one of the remaining three lost half of its students. I have three weeks left at the puppy mill (my extra job) and only two of those involve instruction. The class I am taking ends Tuesday night. My academic life is winding down for the summer. This means that soon I will have time and be a person again. I will drink herbal tea and walk the dog. I will refinish furniture. I will clean. I will not drive three hours a day.

Yesterday we went out to Fairmont Park to place bets for the Kentucky Derby. Jes and her father had never been so Mary and I showed them the basics – emphasis on the Mary showing them as I have only been a few times before. We bet a live race and won our bet back plus forty cents – wow – we should have bet Win instead of Show. We left the park before the craziness got too bad and watched the Derby at Mary’s several hours later. None of us won our bets, but the mint juleps were tasty and the pecan pie was really excellent. I am not really much of a gambler, and when I do it is mostly a break even affair on a very small scale.

We have a new realtor, Tina, and she took us on a tour of houses today. We liked two of them. One is move in ready and at the upper limits of our price range; the other is very low for what it is; it needs a great deal of work. It does not need so much work that we couldn’t do a great deal of it ourselves this summer.

I expect that a rehabber will buy it to flip before we can get an offer together, but you never know. It’s two stories, one block from here, and already has a serviceable coy pond location. We liked it a great deal, but we’ve been riding the house train too long to get our hopes up. If you saw it you would love it and think that it is very us. It has twice as much space as our current digs. It has a great deal of potential as a long term residence and as an investment property. Who am I? Did I just say investment property? Good lord! Well, I had to grow up sometime didn’t I? It’s a good house. Maybe we’ll get a little lucky and land it.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

One of my students told me she was going to the Nora Jones concert tonight at the Fox. Our alarm isn’t working at home, so when I called Jes to wake her up this morning I mentioned the concert and I told her the Fox sometimes has great seats that they save until the day of the concert. She checked online and got us second row center for much less then you would expect such tickets to be. We are having dinner and then it’s off to the second row show!!!

baby growth

The baby just got rudimentary hearing last week, so this is her/his first concert!!!! We'll have to tell them about it later.