Dinner Story #2

(Read here and then here first.)

And then there's also the story of the printer.

This is my new printer. Well, not that new--I bought it several months ago from QVC when I ran out of Polaroid film and as far as I knew that was the end of Polaroid (not true anymore, but an unusual reincarnation). It occurred to me that I should try it out beforehand. When I did that last night, I realized my camera wasn't interfacing with the printer. Yikes! Panic time!!!

I had some errands to run after retreating from the retreat, so I went up to the mall and brought my camera to the camera store. The guy totally was not interested in helping me and wouldn't even look at my camera. You know, he could have convinced a very desperate me to get a new camera or accessory thing or something, but he just totally brushed me off. He seemed to think I was stupid for not just uploading my pictures to the computer to print, but he didn't get that I bought a special printer for a special project that's very important to my family. (I also suspect he didn't want to admit he was totally ignorant of Polaroid products.)

So I went home and called the printer customer service line. They didn't know what was wrong, either, and suggested I call customer service for my camera. By some miracle, I found my years-old camera manual, and the light bulb went off. I wasn't getting the menu I should have been, but I didn't know how to get it.

After a failed attempt to contact the department for digital support (got some weird "Bob is out" message and was hung up on), I called again and talked to a nice lady in another department who walked me step by step through the whole process. Answered all my questions and everything.

It worked!!!

I hope we actually get to do the project.

Dinner Story #1

(Read this post first.)

The staff retreat at school was today. They brought in somebody to lead this retreat who thought it was funny to bring up how much she didn't like cats. . . and then decided to push it right into "The only good cat is a dead cat" territory.

Oh no, she didn't!

Oh yes, she did.

And here I am all confused, because I thought the people most in touch with their spirituality loved nature (and Lord knows we sure mentioned it a lot in those prayer sheets today), and loved all God's creatures.

I was so angry, and so frustrated that I had to sit there listening to stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with improving my relationship with God and others, that it was all I could do to stuff down the tears and try to silence the voice that keeps asking, "Why am I here?"

Some people really know how to take the "treat" out of retreat.

Downsized Thanksgiving

No, I didn't spend any less at the grocery store this year over last year--however, I did buy fewer ingredients because we're expecting fewer people. Kind of a bummer. And I don't know what's going on at Casa de Older Brother & SIL but I have a weird feeling that SIL will be a no-show. Which is already her tradition for Christmas Eve dinner, but that's another story for another time. Not to sound selfish, but the last thing I need is for all the kids to be out-of-sorts on Thanksgiving because they got dropped off at my parents' tonight before O-Bro went to work and probably are staying over. . . because then Mom and Dad will be out of sorts, too.

I hope that the fact that it's a certain couple's wedding anniversary doesn't have anything to do with it. We all want to celebrate it so what's the big deal?

In any event, fewer people (and no newcomers) does mean that I won't be asked if I'm "seeing anyone." Already this week a sixth-grader yelled out in the middle of class, "Wait a minute--you're not married!?" as if he had a "eureka moment" after finally reading the cover letter to the freaking homework the class didn't do (and didn't do again after I gave them another week to do it!). Sigh. Maybe I'll count it as an advance point in Auntie Seraphic's Thanksgiving Dinner Challenge.

This librarian knows how I feel.

But we won't have time to get to that topic at dinner, because I've got far more interesting stories lined up.

Read on.


Calico vs. Printer

(Via Younger Sister.) My cat has always had a fascination with my computer printers. She used to watch my old one spit out pages with great alacrity, and she likes to sit on the new one when it's idle.

Here is another calico dealing with a printer--captioned in a British man's voice (warning: swear words!). I think "he" sounds a lot like Scroobius Pip (swear words dropped out but there's a slightly NSFW moment).

Funny stuff.


What a Difference a Day Makes

I think the antibiotic has kicked in; already my throat is starting to feel less sore. There still was the inevitable post-school sofa crash nap, though. I think I needed that, too.

It has gotten considerably colder out, and there is a critter (most likely a mouse) scritching in the radiator. You-know-who is on the case. (O.K., she's dozing right by the locus of scritching.)

Oh, and it's payday. Yippee. I can rent this desired-by-mice place another month.

It's time to have a good weekend. I hope you will, too.


Strep Throat Blues

I've been keeping a low profile--just busy with things at home, and school has been pouring on the pressure. And apparently giving me strep. I didn't feel well all weekend, and had a horrible sore throat Sunday, but I pretty much have no sick days thanks to September, so I went to school. I couldn't get a doctor's appointment on Monday, anyway, and the nurse said that while there were confirmed cases of strep among the students, I didn't have enough of a temperature to be sent home. (So I've been walking around with a low-grade temp I can't get rid of in addition to the sore throat. It's grand.)

The doctor took me on Tuesday afternoon, so at least I got to leave school a little bit early. Of course, when you get a strep culture done, you have to wait 48 hours for the results, so I just slogged through the rest of the week. Doc sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics (oh joy) but said to wait until the earlier of (1) positive strep test results or (2) not feeling better by Friday.

I got #1 tonight. I couldn't figure out what weird music was playing in the background of Big Bang Theory until I realized my purse was ringing. At least the doctor didn't call until after the hilarious opening dialogue about Marvel superheroes! But he did call, and he did say go fill that prescription. So once the show was over, I hit the road for the drugstore. (Well, at least I get to listen to more of my audiobook.)

I guess I have to tell the school nurse I'm another statistic tomorrow. I'm so tired and I think my immune system must hate me by now. . . but I don't think they'll tell me to go home.

Besides, the (single) Spanish teacher asked me to help him with citations for his grad school course tomorrow after lunch.

Guess I'll live.


Somehow I Have Charmed the Little Ones

I dunno, maybe it's the time change, but the sixth graders were nearly impossible to teach this week. In fact, yesterday I wanted to walk out the door after class. Seriously, I was asking myself what was the point of it all, and did I really want to teach?

Needless to say, the feeling stayed with me this morning as I prepared to teach two more sections. Traffic was awful on the way to school, the lunch I packed was a last-minute replacement after I couldn't get the soup I wanted to come out of carton (don't ask), and the secretary was still on a tear about wrapping up the book fair hell week we'd just endured.

My lesson plans were staring me in the face, and the thought of attempting to teach two more sections of sixth-graders possibly as goofy as yesterday's section just depressed me. But then, outside the office door, I heard the secretary telling somebody (in a talking-to-little-kids voice), "Go on back, sweetie--I'm sure Miss P would love to see that." I looked up.

In shyly toddled a second grade girl with a paper in her hand. "Hi," I greeted her. "What do you have there?"

"Uh, Miss P," she said very seriously, "our teacher asked us to write about people who work in our school and what they do. And I wrote about you." She held up the paper.

And there I was, in a small portrait--curly hair and all, and my, did I look slender--beneath a paragraph about how I am a nice "libraryian" and listing the good things that I do like "help us find books." I think I was speechless for a moment. I wanted to hug her but I always hesitate with that kind of thing in school, and part of me just wanted to cry at the sheer irony of it all, so I just let myself smile the hugest smile I could possibly make.

"Wow, you really did describe what I do," I said. "This is wonderful. Thank you for writing about me!"

She smiled and went on her way. And I went on my way, a little bit happier.

At least, until the sixth-graders were positively awful even while the assistant principal sat right at the back of class, observing me.

I'm just going to tell myself that when all else fails, at least the second grade likes me.

Maybe they can put in a good for me with the assistant principal.


On the Money

Yesterday I mentioned that the library system said I had an overdue book (Playaway, actually)--one that I knew I'd returned with another book when I went to pick up a hold last week.

Sure enough, it was back on the shelf, not having been checked in. I suspect the staffer doing check-ins didn't open the box (wrong! wrong! wrong!), because all audio/visual materials have the bar code on the inside, in order to force the staffer to confirm that everything that should be in there (count discs, replace battery in the case of a Playaway, other materials, etc.).

I'm glad it was there. I'm also glad I didn't have to pay any fines.


All the Cool Kids Are Doin' It

This meme was too fun to pass up. Picked up from Nightfly.

1. Favorite childhood book?

Oh, there are way too many to list. Some are still in my possession, and some are still at my parents’, now being read by my niece and nephews. Many of them are Christmas books—Petunia's Christmas, the GingerBears—but there are also a few that are just wonderful picture books. Every once in a while, I try to get my hands on one that got away, like Giant John. I’d also like to give a shout-out to books I read when I was not so much a child, like A Cricket in Times Square.

2. What are you reading right now?

Dragonfly by Julia Golding, Catching Fire (on audio) by Suzanne Collins, Finders Keepers by Seamus Heaney. Oh, and I have to read Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann for next Monday because my mom’s dragging me to a book club.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

Surprisingly, just one, The Julian Game by Adele Griffin. I’m going to see if it’s appropriate for the upper grades for a bullying discussion. I’ve had to do a lot of requests from the library because there’s a huge renovation and 90% of the collection is in storage.
(Side note: I’m glad I had to log in to look this request up, because I discovered my account is flagged with an overdue item that I returned last week while picking up yet another request. Can’t wait to go pick up The Julian Game so I can have a conversation about that.)

4. Bad book habit?

“Bad” sounds so. . . condemning. I guess my real sin is reading too many books at once. Literary gluttony.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Everything listed in #2 except the McCann book. Oh, and from my school’s library I have Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson to read to the fourth graders next week in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

6. Do you have an e-reader?

Nope. Not in my budget.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?

Have you been paying attention?

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

No, but I’ve gotten some good recommendations that way.

9. Least favorite book you read this year?

I didn’t love Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (discussed here).

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

Don’t make me choose! If forced to, I’d probably say The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni or the book I won from CCR—that was hilarious.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Constantly, because I have to read books that I think my students might like, and I don’t have the same interests as my students oftentimes—so I have to endure some juvenile stuff sometimes.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

Things that are more age-appropriate and interesting to me, I guess.

13. Can you read on the bus?

Can you say, “Carsickness”?

14. Favorite place to read?

I don’t think I have a favorite; reading takes me to another place, anyway.

15. What is your policy on book lending?

Loans are limited to people I know well enough to be assured I’ll get the books back. I lost my college copy of Pride & Prejudice with all my notes in it after making a bad lending decision. Lesson learned.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

If they’re mine, yes, for things I want to come back to or reference. Not as a bookmark. I also underline in pencil.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Yup. I love reacting and responding to what I’ve read.

18. Not even with text books?

Again, have you been PAYING ATTENTION?

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

Properly used English.

20. What makes you love a book?

The satisfaction of a good story, engaging characters, superb wordcraft—and in the case of picture books, great illustrations. I recently fell for Henry in Love and Katie Loves the Kittens.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

I recommend books for a living, so I’d say I’m inspired by what people tell me they like and/or recently enjoyed and/or want to read. Or if they ask me if I’ve read anything good lately. But that doesn’t happen often. Oh, and then there are all those unsolicited recommendations on this ol’ blog.

22. Favorite genre?

YA. Surprise!

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?

I used to read a lot more Fantasy, but there’s too much crappiness to wade through to figure out what’s good. It also seems as if you have to be “hardcore” into it to enjoy it anymore. I wish I could get into Science Fiction but it’s so complicated it makes me feel dumb.

24. Favorite biography?

Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

More than I’m willing to admit.

26. Favorite cookbook?

It’s a toss-up between Moosewood and Cooking Secrets My Mother Never Taught Me.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?

What’s considered “inspirational”? Um, I read from Living Faith every night before bed. Does that count?

28. Favorite reading snack?

Hey, I may dog-ear pages, but I don’t eat around books. That’s just poor book care.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

Me vs. Harry Potter. I just can’t get started. Same thing with Lord of the Rings.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

You mean, like "critically acclaimed" books? I tend not to read that kind.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

I tells it like it is, babycakes.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?

French. There seem to be so many spot-on idioms that don’t translate that well to English.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

The Inferno.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?

Define “nervous.” As in, afraid I’d never finish it? Or afraid I won’t get it? Or afraid I’ll get through it and be PO’d I wasted my time? The possibilities are endless so I’ll pass. Better luck phrasing a question next time.

35. Favorite poet?

John Donne, probably.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

I average about three to four.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?

Maybe once, because I couldn’t renew it and there was a request waiting.

38. Favorite fictional character?

Too many to list.

39. Favorite fictional villain?

They’re villains so I’m not inclined to like any of them. . .

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?

Something I haven’t read yet, obviously.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.

I went a couple days without reading matter when I was in CA and was quite happy when we found a Target near the hotel so I could get a magazine (finished that night) and a book (finished on the plane ride home).

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

The Notebook. Sold it on Half.com for a tidy profit (it had been a gift).

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

I’m pretty focused when reading but sometimes The Cat has a habit of revving up the affection when I’m reading and she wants attention.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

An Ideal Husband was pretty good.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

One I saw: I’m sure there are worse, but In Her Shoes annoyed me for bending over backwards to redeem Maggie, when what happened in the book was adequate. Rose should have been played by a less slender actress, too. Still, it was fairly faithful.

One I refuse to see: Ramona and Beezus—for starters, the book was titled Beezus and Ramona, so right off the bat you’re confusing potential readers. Also, that actress who plays Beezus just irritates me. I feel as if she’s always smirking.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

I tend to spend a lot when I’m buying gifts, probably because I have to buy them brand new. If they’re for me, I either borrow or buy used.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

Before reading? Not much. Before buying, if it’s physically in front of me, pretty much always.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

Um, it sucks?

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

Fairly organized, yes—but it’s a system for me, not anybody else.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?

It’s a case-by-case decision.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

There certainly are some I never want to see again. But it’s probably safe to say anything by Philip Roth or Dan Brown.

52. Name a book that made you angry.

It’s kind of obscure, so I won’t name it, but it was the last book in a fantasy trilogy. I hated the nihilistic ending so much that I was almost completely put off fantasy. That’s when I started writing.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

I didn’t think I’d like The Hunger Games, but I’m hooked now.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

I’m pretty selective in advance, so I can’t recall anything. If it's something I had to read to satisfy my curiosity or to preview for the library, I've already prepared myself.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

Right now I’d say The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. I just allowed myself to buy the last book because the school administrators gave me a gift certificate.


From Cantor to Usher

O.K., so some readers may recall that I cantor--as in lead the singing, not ride a horse ("canter")--at Mass most weekends at my home church, and about once a month along with the occasional wedding or funeral at another parish. At the other parish, I'm required to do a few extra things. One of them is that I have to read specific wording from a sheet at the beginning of Mass to welcome people and then during Mass to introduce the songs/parts of the Mass.

I knew something was up when the supervisor of the cantors sent around an e-mail last week saying there would be a new sheet we had to use from that point on.

I got the new sheet today in my in-box and started skimming the welcome segment.

"Good evening and welcome to [the parish]."

O.K., that's the same.

"Please take a moment to silence your cell phones."

Uhhhhh, say what???

Really? Do I really have to say that? Has it come to this?

It's so. . . profane. It kind of makes me sound like the bad guy, too.

OTOH, I've been to enough Masses where at some point during the biggest part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which is usually the most silent, most reverent, most awesome part--and a phone has rung out of somebody's purse or pocket. More than once.

I know, I know--people forget their phones are on. That's why churches tried putting discreet signs in the vestibules asking for phones to be silenced. But let's face it--people don't read signs. So now we cantors have to announce it.

I'd rather drive it home, touch people's hearts and minds, so instead they're just already aware of what they're entering into when they come to Mass. For about 45 minutes (we keep things moving at my church), it's Heaven on Earth. Just as parents put down the phone and devote their full attention to their children, that's the least we can do for the Lord and for our faith community. That we should be moved to do.

I wish I had words like that on my sheet instead.


In Which I Get Into Trouble on My Day Off

Working late last Tuesday was the last straw for my feet. Ever since I started teaching, even student teaching, my feet have been hurting because I was wearing the same shoes I wore to the office all the time. I wasn't on my feet a ton when I worked in an office. For the past two years, my feet have been taking a massive beating. I realized that if my feet were going to survive, I needed better shoes.

On the recommendation of a teacher friend, I have taken the Dansko plunge.

Heck, I took the clogs plunge. I now have these.

These are more typical of what I like to wear.

I also bought orthotics to try to make my other shoes more supportive.

It's probably pretty obvious I am now on a payment plan with my mom. But at least she took me to lunch before working out those details.