BlogReaders Ask, I Answer: Question #5

And now for the fifth and final night of questions and answers!  Last but not least, Dave E. asks:

It sounds like you are really good at knowledge/quiz games.  Do you do crosswords and word puzzles too?  What other games, table or digital, do you like to play?

Um, I don't know about the "really good at" part with knowledge/quiz games, but I just like to play and see how much I know (or don't know).

I do the occasional crossword--the one at the back of some fluff magazine my mom brought me when I was in the hospital helped me keep my sanity--but my mom is the Crossword Queen.  She does several each weekend.  (O.K., sometimes she asks me for help if she's stumped by some mythology or Shakespeare or pop culture question, and sometimes I figure out the theme before she does.)  The senior lady who lived next door to us when I was growing up always did the crossword in the Philadelphia Inquirer, every day.  I think it kept her mind sharp well into her 80s.  So I do feel influenced by them both.

Speaking of weekend puzzles, I drive myself crazy every week trying to figure out those "visual" word puzzles that are in the dinky Parade thingy that comes with the newspaper.  I always manage to get three out of four.  Four for four is super rare.

One thing that my family normally does when Younger Sister comes for a visit is play Scrabble, but with my cousin's wedding taking up most of the weekend and Younger Sister's itchiness to get on the road (missing the boyfriend much?) no game this time.  Probably there will be one come Thanksgiving.

What other games do I like?

  • Online: I've played Solitaire 13 on Yahoo Games (Mom got me into that), and some of the word games on there.
  • Computer: Occasionally I fire up Hearts.  There's something wickedly enjoyable about dumping the Queen of Spades on another player.
  • Table/other: Well, I'm not that coordinated, but I think air hockey is a lot of fun.  Pinball, too.  Also pool (now that I've figured out I can sit on the edge to reach some shots).  When I was a kid, Older Brother got something called Pivot Pool (ours was from the mid-'80s, mind you) that was for the tabletop (no sticks)--it was fun to play, but absolutely hysterical when Younger Sister's cat got obsessed with chasing the balls and shoving them into the pockets.  I still miss that cat; she had such a fun personality.  Not to mention she'd let us put hats on her from our Hot Looks dolls as she slept on the pile of doll clothes.
  • We also have seen a revival of Uno playing in the family since Middle Nephew got interested in numbers and wanted to play.  Mom wanted the old design of the cards (I think they went almost completely wordless recently) so I had to flex my eBay scouring muscles.

I probably am forgetting something, but that's a pretty good list as is, isn't it?

I hope you had as much fun asking the questions and reading the answers as I did reading the questions and providing the answers!

And now. . . Drawing!

I have put each Blogreader/questioner's name onto a square paper from my memo cube (equal sizes) and folded them up.  They're all in a pillowcase (a la the velvet bag of buttons from the show I cannot mention because the outcome this week was absurd).  The Cat woke up in time to serve as the judge to make sure this is fair.

. . . I'm shaking up the pillowcase to mix up the papers. . .

. . . I'm drawing one paper out. . . 

. . . I unfold it and see--Rob is our winner!  Congrats to Rob; please e-mail me an address to send you a little prize.

Thank you all for playing!  Let's do it again in another 90-something posts!


BlogReaders Ask, I Answer: Question #4

Here I am, having worked from 8 a.m. to about 9 p.m. tonight (including working through lunch and teaching three consecutive classes in the afternoon), and I've got answers for you.

Tonight's question comes from Rob:

Whose motorcycle in the picture?  How fast did you go?

For those of you not sure to which picture Rob is referring, it's the photo on the right side of this blog, above the "About Me" section.  And yes, that is yours truly on the motorcycle.

This picture was given to me by my Aunt B. (Mom's SIL), who had been cleaning out her photo collection, I guess.  So I think it's a pretty solid assumption that the bike belongs to Aunt B.'s husband, my Uncle S. (one of Mom's younger brothers).  But I think all of my uncles had bikes at the time.  Sometimes they would take trips where they would stop in to visit family along the way.  North Jersey was and sort of still is Home Base, but Uncle S. & Aunt B., if they were married by the time this photo was taken (late '70s is my guess so in that case, no), had settled not far from Albany--and then my family and some other relatives were in Philly.

I'm pretty sure, however, that this photo was taken at my grandparents' in North Jersey, but that's because the greenery in the background does not look like my parents' front yard.  My mom's theory is that I am wearing a dress because it might be Younger Sister's christening (and here I thought it was just to assert my femininity while being totally bad-ass at the same time), which would have to be at our home.  I can't seem to locate the hard copy of this photo to check the date printed on the back (and Lord knows my relatives were notorious for waiting forever to get their film developed anyway--remember those days?), so I am not exactly sure how old I am in the picture.  I'd guess nursery school or kindergarten-age.

That said, we are in the midst of putting together some sort of get-together to celebrate my Pop-Pop's 90th birthday very soon, so maybe I can ask Uncle S. and Aunt A. more about the photo and do an update here.  I did lose the scan of this photo when Lappy the Laptop died, so the upload to this blog is actually all I have at the moment!  I have to figure out where I stashed the hard copy.

So, how fast did I go on my uncle's bike?  Considering the fact that I am not wearing a helmet and my 99.99% certainty that my mom was around there somewhere. . .  there was no way I was allowed to take the bike out for a spin!  Even in the teeny-weeny town where my grandparents lived!

I probably just wanted to get on the bike because they let Older Brother do it.

The fifth and final question will be from Dave E. And then there will be the all-important drawing of the winner's name!



BlogReaders Ask, I Answer: Question #3

O.K., Day 3 of answering questions.  I hope you're enjoying reading these as much as I am writing them!  So much to think about.

Tonight's question comes from CCR (and perhaps a cat or two):

Do you have a recurring dream?  Good or bad.

Ohhhh yes.  I definitely do.

It's missing the school bus.

That's right, even two degrees post high school, I still occasionally dream that I'm halfway down the street to the bus stop, and I can see the bus is driving away.

Translation?  I'd say it's an anxiety dream.  There's also a variation where I'm late for an exam.

The late-for-an-exam one often is set in this one building in the college I'd transferred to in my junior year.  I think the college just kept adding onto the building so it became practically a maze. So occasionally--but not in a good while, I think--I find my dreaming self wandering around that hall, trying to find my class.

I know.  Definitely not as interesting as this one.  Or this one (uh, "rawr"?).

Next up: a question from Rob



Brief Book Talk

Just finished The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer.

I couldn't put it down.  If you are into Scrabble, you might find enjoy this story about several twelve-year-olds from different backgrounds who prepare to play in a national youth Scrabble tournament.  Not much angst--although there is a slight ethical dilemma going on--and not much smoochy stuff.  The tournament takes place in Florida, which somewhat explains the crazy cover.

But a lot about Scrabble, and a little about the joy and pain of being in middle school and dealing with family.

I predict this might end up on the Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award nominees list, if not elsewhere. Heck, I might nominate it.

(I borrowed it from my library, so you might be able to as well.)


BlogReaders Ask, I Answer: Question #2

Tonight's question comes from Sara:

What was your proudest moment? The thing that you would want emblazoned on a t-shirt?

The first thing that comes to mind is my graduate degree.  Man, I worked hard for that, and my long-time blogreaders know it.  I earned a fellowship, but it required me to go full time, and I was working my day job simultaneously.  Commencement was less of a "Thank God it's over" moment and more of a "Woo-hoo! I made it, and I'm gonna enjoy this!" moment.  Plus I met my buddy Pam through school and that is a very good thing.

Runners-up would be. . .

1. "I used to be really heavy but I took charge of my health" (Considering I'm a little above where I'd like to be, weight-wise, I don't feel totally on the level with this right now. I know, I'm too hard on myself.)

2. "My nephews and niece are crazy about me."  When Niece was just a toddler, she pointed at the door after I went to pick up dinner and asked her mom where I went.  Being an auntie is like being a rock star, and I swear there's very little you have to do, other than give 'em your full attention.  And maybe the occasional fake tattoo.

Yup, that's about it.  But maybe someday it'll be that published novel.  Maybe.

Next up: CCR's question



BlogReaders Ask, I Answer: Question #1

I guess I should say, Questioner #1, because I got a set of three questions from Angela Noelle.  Let's dive in:

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

I'd have to say that in recent times, my favorite tradition is something I made up--only that's not why I like it so much.  The original idea behind it was to keep Oldest Nephew occupied back where there was pretty much just Oldest Nephew (and maybe Niece as a wee baby but my memory's a bit fuzzy on that detail).  Anyway, there wasn't really anybody else around his age at our family get-togethers.

I've talked about this tradition before: the Polaroid Project.  Briefly, I became the owner of a Polaroid camera one summer after a crazy photo scavenger hunt took place at my old corporate job, in place of the usual company picnic.  They raffled off the cameras after the whole ridiculous thing was over.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but when Thanksgiving started looming on the horizon, I thought, "Why not play 'reporter'?"  It was hands-on and got people to talk.  All I needed was some posterboard, scotch tape, and markers.

The response from my family was amazing.  Mom let us tape up the posters in the dining room.  Everyone read each others' answers and laughed.  I'm pretty sure my mom has kept most or all of them as a record of who attended, not to mention her grandchildren's handiwork.  Because, you see, now Niece, Middle Nephew, and Youngest Nephew (who got a new set of washable crayons this past project) want to be involved, too.  Even if Middle Nephew gripes about getting his picture taken at first.  I've added in glitter markers and seasonal stickers to the materials. . . not to mention a Polaroid printer for my digital camera, after Polaroid stopped making film for my camera.

This event isn't limited to Thanksgiving or Christmas--as I found out one time when Oldest Nephew asked where the camera was at Christmas (silly me, I thought they'd be too into presents)--but we try to do it at Easter as well, when there's a big gathering of the family.

Hey, maybe one day there will be Polaroid posters at my wedding.


Is working as a librarian what you expected it to be like or very different?

O.K., this definitely isn't a yes-or-no question.

I'd have to say that of the things I was prepared to expect--for example, working with young people, reading and making recommendations, materials selection, working with teachers, working within a budget--I pretty much got what I expected there.

I don't think I expected things like writing a ton of lesson plans, grading assignments, dealing with red tape and/or restrictions on many occasions, non-supportive parents (some, not all), and just plain being exhausted and frustrated so often.  Just this past month, I had to throw out two weeks of lesson plans to accommodate a special project for November (Library takes the first leg of it).

I thought I'd have my summers off to write, too, but that seems to be a very distant possibility at this point in time.

But mainly, I did not expect how long I'd have to pay my dues (or how long I will be paying them).  I thought I'd fall into this more easily, but I still have that "What am I doing? Where am I going?" feeling more often than not.  But I'm pretty sure I'd feel that no matter where I was.

If you could pass one law that everyone had to follow, what would it be?

Oh, wow, good one.  I often lament that discretion is dead--a lot of it comes down to realizing you're not the only person in the world and what you do affects others, looking out for the little guy--so I guess what I'd say is Be Considerate.

Maybe we could talk more quietly into our cell phones, or better yet wait to have that discussion about the relative who's getting on our nerves until we get in the car or get home.
Maybe we could pick up your trash instead of thinking someone else will do it.  Maybe it's not even our trash--but we just take pride in your environment.
Maybe we go back to the old driving textbook idea of "Defensive Driving" instead of Offensive Driving.
Maybe we can't stand people of a certain religion/political view. . . but we realize that they are human, too, with families and needs.
Maybe we just start saying "please" and "thank you" more often, especially when nobody expects to hear it.

As "social" as we've gotten with social media, we tend to be more isolated and more impatient than ever.  It's time we show our machines what they're missing.

Next up: Sara's question



1.  I am still here. . .

2.  My cousin's wedding was pretty good.  I got a couple compliments on my dress, but more on my singing at the ceremony, which went very well, considering. . .

3. Dad and I picked the gospel acclamation at the last minute, and I've been fighting the sniffles all week--blame my co-librarian's rug rats, whom I've heard coughing before they even come through the library door--requiring a Friday night trip over the river to the NJ chiropractor for an adjustment to kill my sore throat. . .

4.  The sore throat's gone, but today I wasn't able to breathe much through my nose at all, except when it's running (like right now). . .

5.  I gotta crash early tonight, because tomorrow I will be fully immersed in Outside Book Sale garbage in the library for the next two weeks (no space in the library to hold classes, cashiering, arguing over procedure with the rest of the library staff or some other drama, at least one 16-hour day, etc.). . .

6.  That said, I have not forgotten your questions, and in order to give myself something to look forward to each day, I will answer one question a night this week (with a name-drawing at the end for prizes).

7. Oh, and The Cat told me to tell you she's doing well.  Aside from the fact that it's getting cold out and she wants the heat turned on in the building so she can sleep in her happy place. (Now with updated curtains! And chunkier- Oops, I mean fluffier calico!)

That's all for tonight.  I have to go write elsewhere--inspiration has struck on an area of my novel that needed a rewrite.  Off to the notebook.



Making Progress

The good news is that at last, the new laptop and the old printer decided that they could work together.  So now I've got your questions printed off and am ready to start responding.

The bad news is that because I had to go do last-minute shopping for a dress to wear to my cousin's wedding (good news #2: I did find one), and I have to grade some assignments in order to have enough grades to upload progress reports tomorrow (ugh), I haven't gotten a chance to sit down to answer questions yet.

So sorry for the delay!  But let me tell you about the dress.

[Hear that? That was the sound of my male readership's clicking over to ESPN.com or something else manly.]

I didn't mean to wait so long to look for a dress.  I secretly was hoping something would magically appear in my closet that fit and was appropriate, but the more I looked through my closet, the more I realized that I had summer dresses and Christmas dresses, and nothing in between.  Not to mention that most of the dresses in my closet aren't fitting that well because I've just started back on an exercise regimen, carefully, after getting knocked flat last year.

It's that weird time of year where stores are full of Summer dresses on clearance, don't have much in the way of Fall dresses (who needs a dress for Fall? Just wear tights and a sweater with your Summer dress, right? Um, no!), and aren't quite ready to roll out the holiday dresses--which are too over the top for a Fall wedding, anyway.  At least one that's not black tie optional.

When you're a short woman, there isn't much out there for you, dress-wise, unless your budget is unlimited.  Mine was a hopeful $40 but a more realistic $75.)  If you're a short woman who's not a stick, you're even worse off.  I tried some petite dresses; I tried some regular dresses.  We almost had something with this turquoise dress, but it was a size too small, and even if we'd found the right size, it would have needed extensive tailoring to fit shorty me.  However, Mom found a cool wrap-style jacket in cream/gold/black print that will look nice with a black skirt she already has.  We tried to get the salesclerk to look for the dress I liked in either petite or another size, but I think she was not exactly proficient in searching.  She did redeem herself by giving us a "shopping pass" that gave us 20% off, even regular-priced items (like Mom's jacket).  So that was Score #1.

At the outset, I had said I might consider the Juniors department, because they tend to have homecoming dresses, but I had no idea how many shiny and tacky options we'd have to wade through.  Even when my mom pointed to a leopard-printed dress hanging on the wall, I hesitated. Still, I'd said I would be open-minded, so I said I'd try it on.  There were no Mediums, so she grabbed a Large and a Small.  Juniors' sizes tend to run smaller than misses' and it seemed pointless to bring the Small. . . but I'm glad she got it.

After we sneaked over to the adjacent department's fitting room (Intimates) because there was no waiting and more air conditioning--seriously, how can the Juniors' fitting room seem so huge on the outside but be disappointingly cramped inside?--I tried on the handful of dresses we'd picked out, saving the leopard dress for last.  The Large of the leopard dress was. . . not bad.  Not super, because it seemed big in the shoulders and a little too full in the skirt, but it was not horrible, to my surprise.  It actually had sleeves, which was a plus.  It is like this dress (by the same maker) only in the leopard print and with a rounded neckline--small gold "studs" at the neckline, too.  I had to take a chance and try the Small.

It looked even better.  I still felt a little ambivalent because I don't wear a lot of prints, let alone a print all over, but the longer I wore it, the more comfortable I felt.  And with the 20% off justification, I went for it.  $47 and change (O.K., O.K., plus a little more for something to wear under it) and I was all set.

Now I just need to figure out jewelry and makeup.  I picked a fun dress because I'm going to have fun and not feel weird that I am among the "last of the unmarrieds" in the family.  It's just a small detail on a big day.

Plus I am going to sing the heck out of the wedding music, and there won't be anything else for anyone to consider!


Why Did the Deer Hop Inside a Cell Phone Store?

I suspect he was attempting to make a "booty call." Gotta love mating season. Deer sprints through Chester Co. Sprint store | 6abc.com

(Yes, this was The Big Story on the news that day.)

Don't forget to get your question in!


The Seven Seas (C's) Tell Me It's Giveaway Time!

My previous post was my 700th post!!!  Wow, that's a big number for little old me.

You regular readers (the whole handful of ya) know what that milestone means: It's time for Ask Kate P (Nearly) Anything!

Yes, you can ask me (nearly) anything--anything relating to me or about me or anything I've talked about on this blog, or whatever.  The usual rules of decency and confidentiality apply (e.g. no asking me stuff like what my real name is, or where I live/work, or what I am wearing--ew!) appy.  

From now until Thursday 11:59 p.m. (Eastern), you the blogreaders can post a question here in the combox or e-mail a question to me (see sidebar for address). Anything relating to me or about me or anything I've talked about on this blog, or whatever. The usual rules of decency and confidentiality (e.g. no asking me stuff like what my real name is, or where I live, or what am I wearing--ew!) apply.

I will answer every question over (most likely) a couple of posts. Asking a question (or two or three) will get you a raffle entry into a giveaway for a surprise treat!

Past Q & A sessions:

June 2010

November 2009

November 2008

June 2008

Have at me!

Auntie Kate P's Day Out with The Niece

By the end of this past week, I'd had enough of bad news and brick walls and the word "No."

Because the Library gets all the newspapers, I got hold of a little "weekend info" insert in one of the local papers and caught sight of an arts/crafts festival going on in Philly. . . and a light bulb went off.  The Niece loves arts and crafts!  And she has been going to first grade for a month now and making a smashing success of it--which means she doesn't get to hang with the grandparents one day a week like her little brothers anymore.  She needed some attention.  And maybe a little "girl time."

Her parents said yes, and I borrowed the booster seat from my parents' station wagon, and off we went.  The weather was spectacular, so the festival was super-crowded.  But Niece waited patiently in line for her face-painting (happy dolphin leaping over a wave), held my hand as we navigated a sea of people, and enjoyed the sights.  We even played in the park a bit and people-watched as we shared a soda on curbside seats.

On the way to dinner, Niece conked out (good thing the booster seat has a cushioned neck rest). I'll admit, when we arrived at the restaurant and she was still asleep, I wasn't sure what to do.  This sort of thing isn't in the aunt handbook.  So I turned off the car and let her sleep for a few more minutes as I sent some texts.  Including a photo of her asleep to her parents.  Then I figured we both needed to eat--and, uh, not loiter in the parking lot--so I got out and opened the door on her side.  She was groggy for a minute, but then once she realized she was getting dinner and ice cream, she was good to go.

We had a lovely dinner conversation about mixing colors (did I mention she loves art?) and she demonstrated her knowledge of Katy Perry's "Firework" (accompanied by hand motions).  She ate all the hard-boiled eggs out of my salad and a mountain of fries, washed down with two (2!) chocolate milks.  I think she might have eaten one chicken finger but it seemed a perfunctory gesture.  And she went with the flow when the waitress informed her the soft-serve machine was out of order, happily devouring a green (mint) "monster" sundae.

Sure, she later might mention to her parents that we took a little detour on the way to dinner (i.e. Auntie got disoriented with the street closures for the festival and needed to call her dad for directions) but I think she probably will say she had a great time and can't wait to do it again.

And even though I was delighted to be asked to be the godmother of the new baby today, even if new baby is a niece, The Niece always will be number one for "girl time."

A good start to the week.  In spite of having a faculty in-service and not a day off tomorrow.



It's Just Not Letting Up!

So in addition to the funeral for one of our teachers yesterday (Monday), another teacher's mother passed away, so tomorrow (Wednesday) I am subbing for one of the middle school teachers who will be going to that funeral.  Fortunately, I have only one regularly scheduled class on Wednesdays, at least for now, so it shouldn't be too bad.

Still, we all definitely are out of sorts this week.  We're doing the best we can, but I think everyone's drained at this point.

I hope we've reached the end of the bad news for now!