IMPORTANT!

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Judging from the mail we receive everything is either URGENT, IMPORTANT, or requires our IMMEDIATE ATTENTION! If it weren’t for important mail, we’d get no mail at all.

Final offer!
Don’t delay!
Send money now,
You need to pay.

Important info.,
Warranty expired
Sensitive materials
Attention required.

Immediate action
Subscription ends
Please respond and
Tell your friends!

Presence requested
Don’t hesitate
Your lucky number
Past due date.

Our last notice
Final contest
It’s no wonder
We’re all stressed!

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Join Me, Won’t You?

The older I get the more I realize I am averse to commitment. It’s not that I have anything against groups or clubs or associations, it’s just that I don’t want to be a part of any of them. Or maybe I subscribe to Groucho Marx’s rule of thumb concerning club membership:

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Most of my adult life I wanted to be part of a book club. After three months of club membership I was ready to call it quits. The other members were lovely, the book picks intriguing, and the conversation lively, but on the downside I felt had to ATTEND. And I had to read the books someone else chose within a predetermined time frame. I did enjoy the wine, though.

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One of the longest commitments I managed was to the sorority, Beta Sigma Phi. The camaraderie was great and I developed lasting friendships, but had Studly not urged me to continue my membership, I’d have opted out in the first year. I did enjoy the wine, though.

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I could list a dozen groups to which I’ve belonged for less than a year. Heck, for less than a month. I’m not sure what this says about me as a person. I like the idea of belonging to a group, just not the reality. I might be open to joining a wine club, though. Anyone want to come with me? No commitment necessary.

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Peace, people!

Tarzan and the TV Evangelist

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Around the time I was four my family lived in Lubbock, Texas, in a two-bedroom rental house with wood floors. I remember the floors clearly because I spent a lot of time planted on my butt in front of the television set on Sunday mornings watching a) Tarzan, b) televangelists, or c) both of the above.

To say my choices in TV viewing were limited is an understatement. We only had access to three stations at the time and two of the three featured oily preachers eager to snatch pennies from a gullible preschooler’s piggy bank. I remember begging my mom to allow me to send all of my money to these showmen who seemingly worked miracles of Biblical proportions, and who would gladly work more if they just had more funding. My mom was nobody’s fool, though, and she gave me a lesson in ‘con men for Christ,’ one I’ve never forgotten: the slicker the hair, the sicker the con.

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The other available station ran a Tarzan movie every Sunday morning. I loved Tarzan, Cheetah, and Jane (in that order). I could emulate the ape man’s famous yell even better than Carol Burnett in her prime. For much of my childhood my pretend play revolved around living in a treehouse high up within the canopy of the African jungle with a chimpanzee while avoiding evil hunters and rallying the wildlife to save the day, always just in the nick of time. Like Tarzan I could communicate with elephants and lions and wrestle crocodiles and snakes. I was pretty amazing for a four year old.

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While Mom and Dad had the opportunity to sleep in on Sunday I rabidly flipped between Oral Roberts and Tarzan, alternately observing faked miracles and faked animal footage. Thank goodness I never got Tarzan and Oral Roberts mixed up! Of course Mom probably would have let me send money to Tarzan, and Reverend Roberts might have been quite compelling in a loincloth.

Peace, People!

Hey, Good Lookin’! What Ya’ Got Cookin’?

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In just a week my “full time/part time” job will be at an end. Yea! I will continue administering assessments to 2, 3, and 4-year-olds at various preschools in the area, but I’m stepping away from the intervention arena.

My new gig won’t pay as much, but it will truly be a flexible, part time role. Studly is fine with me making less money, as long as, (drumroll) I take on all of the cooking duties.

I don’t cook. It’s basically against my religion. Twice a year, on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I ignore the basic tenet (thou shalt not cook) of The No Cook Cathedral of the Coast and prepare a meal. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but in my religion it’s basically the same as ignoring the commandments against infidelity and idol worship.

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My culinary skills are pretty basic. I can boil water. I am qualified to operate a can opener. I’m surprisingly adept at microwaving. But, the stove is off limits unless I have adult supervision. And knives are a no-no. No–a NO-NO-NO!! If I had a dollar for every time I’d sliced into some portion of my hand I’d be able to retire comfortably to a remote Caribbean island, and perhaps purchase a prosthetic appendage.

But I’m going to take Studly up on his offer. I’m going to refute my no cooking religion and embark on a new adventure: Cooking for Studly. Heaven help us both. Speaking of which I’ll probably need to find a new religion, too.

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Peace, People!

Here Deer?

Some weird hunting season must be in full swing here in the Florida panhandle. My friend Lee Ann, visiting from Indiana, and I discovered this on our return from Apalachicola on Saturday afternoon.

We’d driven down to eat lunch at a little restaurant called The Owl (I highly recommend this charming place where the waitress said she’d be back to ‘water us’ before taking our order). After our wonderful meal–Lee Ann had a grouper sandwich; I had a crab and shrimp salad–we wandered around the quaint downtown area spending money and making witty repartee.

No trip to the Gulf would be complete without a visit to St. George Island, so even though the temps were in the mid-40’s Lee Ann and I walked on the beach for a bit before heading home.

Instead of taking my well-worn path back to Tallahassee through Sopchoppy and Crawfordville, I turned towards the tiny burgs of Sumatra, Wilma, and Clio. All three are one-blink towns: blink once and you’ll miss them. This road is almost completely enveloped in pine forest, with occasional glimpses of swampland.

Just past Sumatra we noticed a trio of 4-wheel drive pickup trucks being driven erratically on the grassy area beside the main road. Lee Ann and I both wondered aloud just what was wrong with those um, knot heads. A little further along we realized what was wrong: Hunting Fever.

Hound dogs, armed camouflage clad men, and pickup trucks abounded. The testosterone glimmered all around us, like hairy legged fairy dust. We even spotted one hunter standing on the tool box of his truck, rifle at the ready. Instinctively I ducked thinking we would feel a bullet whiz past at any minute. It was madness, I tell you, madness!

After stopping for a bathroom break in Hosford we turned north towards Tallahassee. Not far beyond the Hosford city limits sign we came up on a group of pickup trucks parked next to a bridge. A man wearing a bright orange hunting vest over the requisite camouflage ensemble stepped into the road and began gesticulating wildly. Even though his intended message wasn’t clear we slowed down just in case he was attempting to warn us about a large herd of elephants on the highway.

A reduction in our speed must have been his goal since we received a cheerful thumbs up from Mr. Orange Vest. We soon saw a hunting hound apparently hot on the trail of some prey, nose to the ground heading off the road and into the brush. Had we not slowed down we might have hit the little guy. Thanks Mr. Orange Vest!

Lee Ann and I never did figure out what was being hunted so exuberantly yesterday. We did see deer placidly grazing along our route, so that didn’t seem likely. Whatever it was I hope most of them successfully evaded the hunters, and that no dogs or hunters were injured in the process.

Peace, People!

Observation and Evaluation

Observation and Evaluation. Two words capable of striking fear into the heart of even the most seasoned teacher.

The truth is that a great teacher can have an awful day and an awful teacher can fake a great day during an observation. I’ve been both great and awful and can attest to to the truthfulness of this statement.

In my current role as an interventionist for a literacy research project I’m observed frequently–at least once each week–to make sure I’m following the intervention protocol. Normally these observations don’t phase me. I’m either doing the intervention correctly or I’m not.

But today I pretty much bombed during an observation. Lack of preparation wasn’t the issue–I had all of my materials prepped and ready to go. I’d practiced the lesson with a co-worker as is our daily custom. The first 15 minutes of the lesson were perfect.

Then everything went to hell in a hand basket when the second graders decided to go slightly psycho. It’s a small group of four kids, three boys and one girl. The little girl was an angel and looked on with horror (along with yours truly) as the lesson went from perfect to putrid in 10 seconds flat.

One of the little boys began farting. Loudly. The smells accompanying the farts were horrendous. At first we simply ignored the sounds and smells, until it was impossible to pretend nothing was going on.

Of course the other two boys thought this was hysterical. I’m not afraid of farts; I’ve been known to pass gas on occasion, but I’d never experienced farts of this magnitude. They rated at least a 6.4 on the Richter scale.

While boy #1 was engaged in gas passing one of the other young men used the distraction to turn off my recorder–the one that has to be turned into the office at the end of the week. Boy #3 decided to roll on the floor in a fit of giggles.

The observer, who looked to be in her early 20’s, didn’t know which way to look as I scrambled over the table, reset the recorder, and scooped up boy #3. I then sternly sent Fart Boy to the bathroom.

By that time, our 30 minutes was up, and we were nowhere near completing the lesson. As I escorted our group back to their respective classrooms, picking Fart Boy up on the way, I gathered them together for a team meeting.

“Look,” I said. “I realize that sometimes things happen that cause us to laugh and that’s okay, but how could we have handled this situation better?”

Fart Boy raised his hand.

Good, I thought, he realizes that he has some responsibility here. “What do you suggest ‘Jon'” I asked.

His response? A resounding fart.

We can hope for a better day tomorrow. Prayers are appreciated.

Peace, People.

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Do You Remember?

What is your very earliest memory?

Mine is an image of my mother carrying me early in the morning to my babysitter’s house. I wasn’t very old, perhaps not yet two, so I have a feeling that my memory is a conglomeration of many mornings of being carried; the repetition, as well as the feelings of warmth and love, firmly embedding the experience in my mind.

Studly’s earliest memory is of his mother trying to help him get over a case of the croup with a concoction of honey and whisky. He doesn’t recall how old he was, but he’s certain he wasn’t school age yet. I wonder, was it his mother’s love or the whisky that made the experience memorable? At any rate, he hasn’t had croup in years.

It isn’t surprising that for each of us our mothers play such an important role in our earliest memories. I would imagine that is most often the case, with memories of fathers coming in a close second. I could do some research, but who has the time for that? Unless, YOU could help me! Yes, YOU!

What is your earliest memory? (Notice how I made my first sentence work as my last sentence, as well?)

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Will she remember this epic Christmas of 2014?

Peace, People!

Back in the Day

This post was inspired by my good friends Guy and Janice who have for years regaled their grand kids with hilarious tales of fantastic adventures of their early lives–none of them true.

“Back in the Day”

Back in the day
Before I was old
I used to go prospecting
For silver and gold.

Back in the day
When I still had my looks
I often went dancing
With gamblers and crooks.

I joined the circus
And flew the trapeze
Climbed tall buildings
With the greatest of ease.

Back in the day
When I was still fit
I ran a marathon
And never once quit.

I scaled the Matterhorn
And swam down the Nile
Jogged up the pyramids;
That took awhile.

On African safaris
I traveled each week
Even tamed an ostrich
With a 30 foot beak!

You see, back in the day
I could almost do it all
But then just maybe
This tale is too tall.

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Onomatopoeia

Okay, I was in a super silly mood this morning. Please bear with me!

Growl, snap, pop,
Crackle boys!
Buzz, snip, growl,
Gasp, gulp guppies
Pssst, whoosh,
Whew! That was close!
Plip, plop, ploop!
Gurgle down the drain,
Slurp, splat, whisper
Sweet nothings.
Crash, bang, boom
Bombs bursting
That’s rare!
Ribbit, croak, burrrrp,
Excuse you, dear.
I don’t know about
You-a, but
Every bit of me-a
Likes onomatopoeia.

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The Great Non-escape

I’ve always thought myself a capable problem solver. Recently, during our Family Christmas Rendezvous to Nashville, I had the opportunity to test my capabilities.

My son-in-love, Stephen, found a website for a place called, The Escape Game (www.nashvilleescapegame.com), a place where participants are locked in a room for 60 minutes. To escape the room before time runs out, a series of puzzles must be solved. Correct solutions to each puzzle result in the group’s being given a key or code to exit the room.

There were ten of us in our family group: Studly, Stephen, our daughter Ashley, our son Jason, granddaughters Dominique (12), McKayla (10), and Harper (2), and grandsons Garrett (12) and Jackson (8), and me.

Going in, I was pretty confident that we could solve the puzzles in the 60 minute time frame, even though the percentage of escapes from this particular room was 46%. The room resembled a pre-k classroom complete with slides, a chalkboard, and colorful carpeting.

The game started with an employee explaining the rules. Once he left, the timer started and we got down to business. Now we signed an agreement to not divulge anything that went on in our room, that is, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you, but I will say our group would have been better served by holding a brief organizational meeting before we began problem solving. Instead, we scattered and began working on puzzles that appealed to us.

I found one and quickly figured out the way to solve it netting us three components of the code. We needed 50 total. No problem, we were on a roll. Only 47 to go, right? Unfortunately after finding those three I was pretty much a zero–the kind of woman who gets eaten by zombies on day one of the apocalypse.

The biggest assets of the day were the grandsons. They each solved two tough puzzles garnering 20 or so components each. The rest of us made small contributions. Mine came mainly in the form of making sure the two-year old didn’t scatter the ones we’d uncovered.

With three minutes left on the big clock we had all the components necessary to solve the puzzle. Pure panic mode set in as we attempted to arrange them correctly before time ran out. We came so close. Alas, no escape!

But what fun! I certainly recommend The Escape Game if you find yourself in the Nashville area. I’d go again, but I’m not sure anyone in my family would want me as a teammate.

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