Thursday, August 30, 2007

Adjustments and Judgements

My bedroom is still not quite put back together after the earlier mishaps but it is getting there. The comforter, after being washed, is now wonderfully fluffy. It seems that drying it with 3 tennis balls is a great boon to the loft. The bedroom is now off limits unless I'm in it. So far this has only inconvenienced Hooboo. Hyram is happy sleeping almost anywhere. Hooboo wants more play ground.

In my classroom, I'm finding myself already developing likes and dislikes. I have my favorites but I'm trying to make connections with all the children. Yesterday, I discovered that one student has the same birthday as I do, so I shared that with him. I hope it made him feel better. A couple of children are definitely getting my irk factor up. Neither pays attention to the teacher. They are both determined to do their own thing. One is a bit of a know-it-all. The other is a tattle tale. And although I haven't figured out yet why I think this, one of them seems to be a bit of a liar. I wonder if I'm taking denial of misconduct as a lie and over emphasizing it. I certainly don't want to be unfair. But I also want the students to own up to their actions.

At the university yesterday, I mentioned to my supervisor that my CT was less than enthusiastic about having a student teacher. So far she seems accommodating, but I worry about the things I might not be aware of and the results of any actions or attitudes she and/or I might display. I'm not always savvy about motives. My supervisor suggested that I simply be aware of it and be very, "It's your space and you rule" to her. I might even want to hold back on some of my idea generating. That's kind of sad because I really want to make learning fun. But I also don't want to step on my CT's toes in any way.

While reading Susan's blog I noticed her lovely slimy mollusk graphic and checked out TTLB. I am wondering about signing up but I know that my hit count is so low that I'd only be an Insignificant Microbe if I didn't drop off the chart entirely. I'm actually proud of my hit count. It is nowhere near Susan's but I get caught up in a lot of subject searches and so my count has climbed from 2 or 3 in the beginning to 8 or 9 a day. I've passed the 2000 mark and am almost halfway to 3000. Not bad for a beginner who is horrible at networking. I know that a few of the hits I get come from Susan's page or people who have read her page, checked mine out and came back later to see if I'd updated anything. So, Thanks Susan!

Ok, the 2nd alarm on my watch has just dinged telling me it is time to head off to work. Gotta run and do the klutzy, still finding her way, student teaching thing. Have a good day all!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Quick Notes

My blogging my evolve into short bits of news for a while. I've got so much to do in preparation for the day that I don't really feel like I have time for full posts. My evenings are busy doing reading and next it will be lesson planning. My mornings are spent getting ready and trying to make sure I'm organized. I keep telling myself that I can't wait for the two weeks of seminars to be over, but once that happens I'm sure the semester will have something else for me to be thinking of instead of early morning blogging.

We've added two students into my student teaching classroom yesterday. They are both ESL because that classroom had too many so it was split up between the others. There's a special ed child in my classroom which I don't have the experience needed to support properly. I'm thinking I need to talk to the special ed teacher.

Half day today at UTSA, then lunch, and off to the elementary school. Hi ho! Hi ho! It's off to work I go. (g)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Industrial Strength Cleaning

One of my cats is very unhappy with me. In the past 12 hours I've stripped my bed twice and thrown everything into the wash. That's not easy when part of your bedding is a down comforter. I think the culprit is Hooboo because I spotted him coming out of the bedroom just before I discovered the second middle of the sheets kitty pee "accident".

Last night's bedding took 3 loads, so I got to sleep later than I'd planned. Once stripped and remade, I read a book in bed till the washing was done and the comforter was in the dryer. This morning, I've had time to toss the newly wet sheets in the wash, clean the catbox, and take out the trash. I'm beginning to feel really organized if I can get this much done this quickly.

With the bedroom door closed, I'm hoping the problem is solved until I've had a run to WalMart. I realize I need one of those plastic covers for mattresses. I'm praying that the cause was simply an effort on the cat's part to get me to clean their box more frequently and not testosterone competition coming to a head. If it wasn't the box I may come home to something worse. If that happens I don't know what I'll do. I think I'll leave Hooboo out today just to be safe. He liked being outside yesterday and I came home to find him sleeping in my Kalanchoe planter.

On the going to work side, my CT suggests I bring my own lunch so that I can eat what I prefer. She also suggests I leave my purse locked in my car and only bring a little change in the room with me. Her room and filing cabinet don't lock well. So maybe this is a good idea. I offered to take a list of repair requests to the office for her commenting that if they kept her room in top working order she would feel taken care of. When I sign in this morning I think I'll ask who we turn in such requests to and see if they can't put a new lock for her on the to do list.

Happy Tuesday all!

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Misadventures of the Perpetually Lost

When I left the house this morning it was early enough for me to make it to school in plenty of time. NOT! Driving down Austin Hwy I got the clever idea of going past my old place work place and take a shortcut. I knew the street I needed to turn on ran straight into the road I was on. This would surely save me time. Hah! Let's just say that I learned a lesson on navigating murky waters. Don't get creative, go with what you know.

I missed the corner I needed, and when I did turn off I ended up in the wrong neighborhood. This was way beyond the place I intended to be. So I tried to backtrack. That didn't work either. The streets were unfamiliar and I ended up at Fort Sam. There the nice guy at the gate told me to go back down a certain road and I'd need to turn onto Austin Hwy. Then I could surely find my way. That didn't go as it should have either.

By this time I was just at the "late to work" point so I called the school. They were getting ready to do morning announcements and it would take about 5 minutes. So I hung up and persevered. I got further lost and called again. Someone was finally free to help me. The only problem was that I was now in a small encircled township on the outskirts of San Antonio, Converse. Fortunately, the nice lady on the phone was familiar with that area so she was able to talk me back to Hwy 35 and from there to the school. This took some time but, after all my navigation errors, I wasn't about to let her off the phone. Who knew what would happen. When I finally got to the school it was past 8:30 and I was over an hour late.

Fortunately, the people at the school took it in good stride. It turns out the lady on the phone giving me directions was one of the teachers I'd worked with slightly in my earlier experiences at that school. She was very good hearted about it. After I got into my classroom I dutifully called my supervisor and left a detailed message telling her what had happened and that I would have my cell on me in courtesy mode if she wanted to talk to me about it. She called while I was in the cafeteria, was very nice about it, and told me I had done exactly the right things in calling the school and her so I was ok. I suspect that next year she will tell her student teachers to give the route a test run before the first day of school.

The rest of the day went fairly well I think. We had about 14 kids. Some hadn't shown up and others, not on our list, did. I learned several names pretty quickly. Those were the kids not paying attention and talking all the time. When we noticed how antsy the kids were in the midst of math she tried to think of a movement we could do while counting by twos. I offered a suggestion and she let me teach it. The kids seemed to like it and it got them up and out of their chairs for a few minutes. Lunch was good, Recess was better. We toured the school so now I have an idea where most things are. The only downside, besides getting there late was that my CT told me she hadn't wanted a student teacher and had been talked into it by the Assistant Principal. I think that is something I want my supervisor to be aware of. So, even though I got to see my two old teacher friends that work there and am looking forward to the semester, I'm a bit concerned about how things will go. Asking for prayers here folks. I really need to pass this one because you don't usually get a second shot.

Peace and Hope!

First Day of School

Good morning to you
Good morning to you
We're all in our places
With sunshiny faces
Good morning to you
Good morning to you

When I looked at my watch it said 4:00 AM. Even though I had set the alarm for 4:30 I'm awake early. It is first day of school jitters. So here I am. It's 5:30 now, I'm awake, showered and dressed, and ready to go to school. My supplies are ready. The thank you note to my cooperating teacher (CT) is written. Having done all of that, I have an hour to kill before I need to get out the door to drive over to the same school I've done all my previous teaching experiences.

When I get there, I'll have about 20 new faces and names to learn. Lots of things to see. Old friends to get back in touch with. I need to take down the names of all the kids so that I'll know them well. The instructions for our behavior today were, observe but if you can help your CT do so. Don't be needy because she has 20 children to take care of. I think I can do that.

The day's instructions don't fit with the way I'd imagined my first day of student teaching. I'd thought it would be later in the semester. I'd bring my "Me" poster. I'd bring a book to read to the children, a photo of my cat, maybe my guitar. Nope, I'm going to be nice, polite, and observant of how my CT's classroom is set up. I'm going to see if she uses music in it. Does she have the kids getting up and doing physical activities in the classroom. What does recess with her class look like?

That doesn't mean I can't dream of things I'd like to do. I'm to be putting together lesson plans. First I need to look at the curriculum requirements to see what's needed. Then, I can see about fitting my ideas into that framework. I'd like to teach the kids how to draw a maze/labyrinth. I'd like to teach them how to work sudoku. I'd like to practice skip counting lots. In my experiences as a middle school aid I saw way too many 8th graders stacking numbers and adding them in pairs to reach a multiplication solution. A philosophy I'd like to teach them is that to master something you have to practice every day and working hard only on test day isn't going to get the job done.

It's almost time to think about leaving. I've gotten my medications down. Drunk two cups of coffee and had a jello fruit cup for breakfast. Not the best of meals but it was something and I'm determined to lose the weight I gained over the summer. Yesterday I had to buy a size 16 pair of pants to have something professional to wear for the first day of school. All my interview suits are size 14. Time to lose the weight.

And while I'm talking about yesterday I want to thank my good friends JS and her wife. On a fairly busy family Sunday they shared JS's time for my emotional neediness. She went shopping with me while I got what I could of my school supplies. I also had a nice lunch with them. (g) That kind of friendship is priceless. I feel a little guilty having taken her away from her family, but the fact that she and her wife were able to do that tells me just how strong and loving their family is. They have so much love that they can turn it outwards to others from the richness that is theirs. Thank you my friends. Nothing could ever replace the things you are to me and your presence in my life. God Bless both of you.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Midnight Destruction! And maybe a blessing...

This morning, I stepped from my bedroom to find the floor covered with papers and magazines. Hooboo had climbed onto my desk during the night and knocked almost every piece of paper on it to the floor. I know it was Hooboo because the bag of catnip, carefully stashed in a tray, was out on the desk surface. Hyram just isn't that ambitious. He had also jumped up on the sofa arm, knocking off a small stack of magazines, to reach the strip of paper that was my "Ribbon" poem which I'd hung on the wall. This, sadly, was torn in two and I found half of it on the floor tangled in a piece of cording from my desk. He'd had a lot of fun while I was sleeping. It didn't take me long to clean up my desk or the floor. It will take me longer to forgive Hooboo for the destruction of my heart's creation.

I'm trying to tell myself that it is only a thing and that the poem is written in other places, my heart, this blog. But I put a lot of love and creativity into that piece of literary art and I'm wondering where I can find another strip of paper to try to recreate it. You see part of the poem is the paper it was written on which is a long ribbon of nice quality paper with a sort of parchment coloring. The words were written in different colored felt pens. I'd used a different color for each line.

The ribbon paper may have been purchased at Michael's, as a lot of craft supplies are. Since I need to go to Office Max, Ross's and Payless Shoes today, conveniently in the same shopping center, I think I will check there. Perhaps I can find some supplies to use in my classroom for my students. I really don't want to spend a whole lot on craft stuff but because it would be for my classroom I can take those supplies off my taxable income next year. So, perhaps I can find a blessing in all of this.

In other bits of news, yesterday I cleaned up my kitchen throwing away a few things and putting others I wasn't using out of sight in spare cabinet space. The whole thing looks much better and I'm pleased with the results. I also threw out some more magazines and papers and in the process got the stacks of paper on my very small coffee table down to just one pile. Having done the dining table earlier I now have two mostly bare table surfaces to look at and use. Yay!

While throwing things away I noticed the Math Pack I purchased over a year ago for my math approaches class. It is a kit with a bunch of wonderful math manipulatives and an instruction book to go along with them. This will be perfect to test out in my student teaching classroom. I'd always fussed about my professors requiring us to purchase long lists of supplies for their courses which we only used once. Now I know why we did this each semester. It was to build up a stock of things we would be using later when we had a classroom full time to work in. A stray thought popped up just now from when my leg was broken and my parents were here helping me take care of myself. I might have looked like a pack rat to them, they insisted I throw out or give away many things, but I had reasons for keeping most of the things I held on to. No classroom can ever hold all the supplies a teacher collects for use. Yay, another reason to move to a larger place when I have a classroom of my own! (G)

Happy Sunday, all!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stress Up - Hisses Down

School at the university started yesterday. I'm off and running full tilt, or so it seems. Already I've been given tons of information, joined two professional organizations (thankfully free to students), filled out forms required for student teaching, and had my picture taken for the district ID badge. The next four weeks are filled with seminars, observations, things to do in preparation for certification, and lots of different manuals to read. As intimated in earlier posts, I shall be very busy.

Today's instruction included how to write a resume, dress for an interview and how to work the student job services system. We also got a good bit of legal advice on what we can and what we can't do as teachers. Oh, and yesterday they told us about the education version of FERPA.

On the home front, I've been trying to stay caught up with things around the apartment. Hooboo has been wanting out in the mornings so I let him go. When I come back later he is ready to come in and have lunch. Considering how much hissing Hyram has been doing lately I was a bit concerned about leaving Hooboo in all day. The few times I've gone out leaving them both inside, when I come back they haven't torn each other apart. They seem to be working things out. What signs do I see of this? Well, earlier I was holding Hooboo and Hyram was watching this. When I put Hooboo down they both took the time to touch noses and no one hissed. Again, when I went to the kitchen for a snack both cats were right there wanting theirs too. Again, no hisses and each knows the placement of his bowl. This might work out. I'm still asking for prayers for both of them but I'm thanking God that they seem to be adjusting to one another.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Liberty & Turf

Hooboo got his first liberty today. For those who aren't familiar with the military usage of the word it means freedom to leave the ship/base and go out and about.

Hooboo elected to take his when I went onto the porch to do laundry. I'd offered it before, opening the screen door and putting him in the opening but this offer had been declined. He wasn't ready to go out without companionship, which I guess my laundry room visit gave him.

Once on the porch he proceeded to scarf down the food in his old bowl which I had left out there. Uck and Ick! I don't remember how long that food has been sitting there exposed to the elements. Possibly as long as a week and no doubt less than fresh. I hope he doesn't get sick.

He's still outside. He is collared with a rabies tag so I won't worry too much about his getting picked up by the authorities. I think he knows the way home. He should, he'd been sleeping on my porch since June. So, hopefully his liberty will work some of the piss & vinegar out of him and he may feel less aggressive after having reclaimed his old outdoor territory. My biggest hope is that he will then leave Hyram his space and not be so pushy.

I'm worried about Hyram a bit. It looks like Hooboo wants to play but Hyram has started backing himself into corners and hissing. He is trying to protect himself from a perceived threat and I'm wondering what to do about it. I didn't really want to get Hooboo declawed but if he attacks Hyram in a vicious manner I may have to resort to it. I'm not quite ready to go there so they both have time to adjust some more. If you have suggestions on how to handle this I'd be delighted to hear them.

Laundrys done. Yup, Hooboo knows his way home! (g)

Monday, August 20, 2007


A letter arrived on Saturday telling me about some of the transition from summer free time to very busy student time. I have my first meeting at UTSA on Wednesday. Later that same day I am to attend a meeting at the North East ISD. Each meeting will tell me some of the expectations a student teacher needs to meet. I'm slightly stressed and a little relieved. Suddenly, I'll have lots to do and think about. I'm relieved that things are finally happening and also that both meetings are spaced several hours apart. The morning meeting is casual dress and after it I can go home, eat lunch and change into professional garb for the evening one.

The kitty transition is coming along but not very smoothly. Hyram has decided to hiss frequently at Hooboo. Hooboo, being only a year old, thinks he is invincible. Foolish kitty. Hyram may be old but is over twice his size. Hooboo has done the submissive lay on your side thing exactly once that I could tell. Hyram wasn't impressed. Hooboo has also flown in the face of Hyram with claws reaching out to scratch. He didn't quite make it. I hope he is only showing a bit of bravado. Things seem to calm down at night. Hyram takes up his post under my bed or near it. Hooboo tends to sleep on the sofa till the early morning hours at which time he invades my bed and snuggles onto my pillow with paws kneading and head nudging. Of course this wakes me from a sound sleep. The rewarding thing about this is that he isn't under my feet when he is in bed and the other evening Hyram was on one side of me while Hooboo was on the other. Both were sleeping. And thankfully so could I. This evening Hooboo found the old kitty fishing poles. He has no apparent feather color preference. He'll chase anything. Hyram prefers the hot pink ones and only attacks feathers when he feels like it. My trip to the pet store netted me lots of cat food, litter, a collar for Hooboo and a nice wide cat scratch pad. I'm making sure I reward Hooboo every time he uses it instead of the sofa. Good kitty! Have a treat! :)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Only Five Months Away

At Christmas last year, I wrote a post called "The perfect Christmas list." In it I quoted "Grown Up Christmas List," which I first heard sung by the awesome Amy Grant. I also said I couldn't give you her to listen to and linked you instead to Kelly Clarkson singing it on YouTube. Well, it turns out I was wrong. As shown above, I can indeed give you Amy Grant singing Grownup Christmas List.

While exploring YouTube, I discovered just how popular this song is. Clay Aiken performs it. Other singers perform it. I even found an anime video pieced together from other anime videos with this song as the guiding theme. It seems the lyrics express sentiments that everyone wants to profess and support.

Well, I've always been one to think of Christmas early. As the title reminds us, it's only 5 months away. My end of year looks bright. Completing my teacher certification will bring about many significant changes in my life and I'm very happy about this. So, please enjoy hearing "Grown Up Christmas List," sung by my favorite performer, Yes in August, as we head towards my favorite holiday and a bright future.

As happened last time I embedded a YouTube video in a post, there will be a host of other related versions for you to click on and listen to after the Amy Grant video has played. Enjoy!

In the "Blink" of an Eye

This morning I was looking at a reward portfolio and found a book entitled "Blink." It's description said it is about those decisions we make in the blink of an eye, why we make the ones we do, and how we can make the process better. That sounded intriguing so I Googled it and found a question and answer by the author here. An excerpt from the author's description is below.

1. What is "Blink" about?

It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.

You could also say that it's a book about intuition, except that I don't like that word. In fact it never appears in "Blink." Intuition strikes me as a concept we use to describe emotional reactions, gut feelings--thoughts and impressions that don't seem entirely rational. But I think that what goes on in that first two seconds is perfectly rational. It's thinking--its just thinking that moves a little faster and operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious decision-making that we usually associate with "thinking." In "Blink" I'm trying to understand those two seconds.

His idea revolves around the details you focus on. Further along in the interview he gives examples of how changing what details are focused on has been used to improve situations. One example I found interesting involved Cook County Hospital in Chicago and chest pain diagnosis. Apparently the hospital told the doctors to ignore a lot of things they had been using to determine cause like age, weight and other bits of information and focus just on blood pressure and the ECG.

So, I'm thinking of adding this book to my reading list. If you have an opinion on the validity of his theory and examples please step in and give it. I'm not the greatest at critical analysis and certainly don't have enough info to discount any of his examples. I'm simply going by how logical it sounds. He seems to build a good case.

Friday, August 17, 2007

More Odd Bits - posts - cat news - an interesting blog

Me has graciously let me know there are lyrics to the Enterprise Theme Song. I went looking and sure enough there they were on a SciFi channel. I've posted them in the comments for "Star Trek" Music.

Hooboo and Hyram are competing for food and space. This morning I had to pick each bowl up, fill them, and then place them down at the same time in spread apart locations (thankfully both in the kitchen). Hyram has always had his favorite places to relax in. Now Hooboo is suddenly coming into these places and there is a certain amount of hissing going on. Last night both cats slept on the floor until Hooboo discovered how comfortable the sofa was. This morning he discovered how to get up on my bed and decided he really liked being there with me and kneading the comforter. Right now, Rum Tum (affectionate name for Hyram) is stretched out on my dining table (seldom used for dining) and Hooboo is curled up near my feet. Ah the joys of being a cat mom. (g)

Found an amusing blog today. Basic Instructions was listed in the notable blogs when I logged on. I wandered through it and was most impressed with the artwork and interesting commentary and humor exhibited while giving out much needed directions for handling certain situations one might encounter in life. I'm adding a link for this one to my side bar. It's worth the occasional read.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stray Porch Kitty becomes New Kitty

In the midst of torrents of rain which Tropical Depression Erin is dropping on San Antonio, stray porch kitty came home from the vet. For a day or two, while his neutering heals, he will be an indoor kitty. Hyram is uncertain about this new member of our family. He likes Hooboo, he just isn't sure he wants to share his kingdom.

The medical news is good. Hooboo had no diseases, no leukemia or kitty HIV, and has been inoculated against both plus the requisite rabies. He did have fleas so they gave him a pill which kills them all in 30 minutes in addition to spraying him with something that makes him smell powdery sweet. And, having been neutered he is now officially an "it" and can't make anymore baby Hooboos.

I'm following the vets instructions. Hooboo gets half his usual quantity of food and water tonight in case he throws up from the anesthesia. He has eaten and Hyram had his bowl right along side. Hooboo has shown his good manners by properly using the litter box. It's nice to know I don't have to go through the process of house training him. He even deigned to play with a puff on a stick.

If I have one reason to complain about the newest member of my family it's that he can't seem to keep out from under my feet. He has curled around and walked in front and under my feet. I'm so afraid that I'm going to step on him that I'm almost chasing him off. I'm sure this will all work out soon and he will develop habits of familiarity that are easier to deal with. I bet he has just been so lonely that he really needs to be held for a while till he feels more secure.

In the mean time, please pray for him and Hyram. They both are new to this brother business and Hyram is 10 while Hooboo is only 1. So its going to be a real adjustment for both of them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Star Trek" Music

Flipping through music books today, I came across an old song I should know but can't recall ever hearing. It was the Theme From "Star Trek." This was apparently written in 1966 and the words are by Gene Roddenberry himself. The music was by Alexander Courage. I vaguely remember the music that played at the beginning of Star Trek, I just don't remember ever hearing any words. Even so, I think the lyrics are kind of interesting because of the theme and who wrote them. So, I thought I'd share them and see if anyone recognizes them.

Beyond the rim of the starlight
My love is wand'ring in star flight
I know he'll find in star clustered reaches
love, strange love a starwoman teaches.

I know his journey ends never;
His Star Trek will go on forever.
But tell him while he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

So there you go. If you happen to remember hearing these words on some show or movie please feel free to remind me where I might have heard them. Thanks.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sick Kitty

Yesterday I put down some food in the middle of the afternoon and Hyram didn't run to eat it. It sat there all night too. He didn't go into the bathroom where I keep his water either. He seemed slow and lethargic. His usual perches, up high on a table or couch arm, weren't attractive. So this morning I called the vet. Yes, it sounded serious enough for me to bring him in. Could I make it there by 3 PM? Absolutely!

So at 2:30 I put Hyram into his carry case and hauled him over to his vet for a look see. Hyram purred in the case on the way over at the same time as he made little mewing sounds that told me he was not happy to be going anywhere. Once we got him into the examination room he refused to come out of his carry case. The vet assistant tilted it 90 degrees from the table and he clung to the inside bracing his feet against the sides of the crate. So we put him back down on the table and took the crate apart. Then we left him alone for a bit in the hope that he would calm down. After a few minutes the assistant came back and we moved him to a bigger room which seemed to help. They still had to take him out of the crate with a towel wrapped around him. He fussed loudly about this and tried to get away during his exam.

The exam consisted of the vet checking him over for abscesses of which, thankfully, there were none. He also took his temperature which was 105. While that isn't horribly high it is a definite fever and solid signs that something was going on. Dr. Ben told me that what he thought was going on was a viral infection which we would want to run its course. We could do blood work to see if any organs were failing but he didn't think that this was necessary because Hyram didn't seem very dehydrated and had only been refusing food for 24 hours. If I wanted to have this done I could have them draw blood but we might want to wait and see if a shot to reduce the infection and some antibiotics didn't clear things up. Considering that it took two people to hold Hyram down just to examine him I elected to do the wait and see.

The treatment plan we came up with and implemented went like this: 1) he got a shot to bring down the fever; 2) he got an antibiotic shot to get him started on recovery; 3) I got a bottle of 14 capsules to give him over the next few days; and 4) if he doesn't seem to improve, especially eating, by tomorrow I'm to bring him back in for blood work.

Hyram was so glad to get back in his case and into the car that he purred without mews the whole way home. The trip to the vet cost $145 which isn't too bad considering that I got some Frontline at the same time and also some pill pockets to push the capsule into so that he can take the medicine without me trying to force pills down his throat.

In addition to all of that I made an appointment for stray porch kitty to go in and see Dr. Ben to get checked over for infectious diseases, acquire shots, and get neutered thus becoming a safe playmate for Hyram. The two of them actually get along pretty well, having spent much quality time nose to nose through the screen door. The other day I had stray porch kitty in for a short show and tell to a friend. Neither of them hissed and there was much exploring and following around between them. So, I think this increased cat family will work. The stray porch kitty's name will be Hooboo. Don't ask me where I got that. It just seemed right. Maybe it is a cross between "Who are you?" and the term hobo.

The trip to the vet and back home seems to have done Hyram worlds of good. As soon as we got in and I opened his crate he took himself out and then over to the kitchen for some comfort food. Yay! He is eating already. And he accepted a pill pocket treat which tells me that he won't be adverse to them when I start using them tomorrow morning to feed him the rest of his antibiotics. And I am one very relieved owner. Thank God!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Love Jigsaw Puzzles

Click to Mix and Solve

It's true. I really do love them. Every morning in my email I get the daily puzzle link from JigZone. This is a nice place where you can work jigsaw puzzles for free. You can change the number and shape of the pieces and choose your category. There are lots of nice pictures to choose from. Today's however, was absolutely beautiful. See, I also love those underwater screen savers that came out early with bright colors and tropical fish swimming about. Today's reminds me of that or maybe a scene from the Little Mermaid. So I wanted to share it. The website allows you to embed the puzzle in your blog. So if you like puzzles too, here you go. Just click on the arrow to work the puzzle.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Labryinth

The image is an example of the Chartres Labyrinth. It is the pattern for the one at my church. Walking a labyrinth is a form of meditation and prayer.

The story of the labyrinth, as it was told to me, is lovely and right out of medieval times. Back in the days of old faithful members of the church longed to take pilgrimages to the Holy Lands. This was seen as a life goal of the faithful and many saved for years to go on one. Then along came the Crusades. Suddenly it wasn't safe to travel over there anymore. This made walking a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands very difficult. To compensate for the lack of opportunity Labyrinths started springing up all over the place. On them one walks one's pilgrimage in silent meditative prayer.

Church of Reconciliation Episcopal introduced the Labyrinth to San Antonio. We have a ministry with a portable one which we can cart from place to place and are in the process of building a permanent one. We see it as a resource for the entire community. Several other churches now have labyrinths or are in the process of building one in town. One of the nice things about labyrinths is that you don't have to be rich to walk one. You don't need to be Christian either. It is truly an interfaith tool.

I've added a link to The Labyrinth Society in the new Meditation section. This is a lovely page that covers just about as much information about the labyrinth as you might want to know: its history, different types, where to find one, how to walk one, and there is also a section on labyrinths and children. There are also instructions on how to make a labyrinth and several animated drawings so that you can draw a finger labyrinth. I think this art might be a good thing to use in the classroom. Children know instinctively how to use a finger labyrinth and helping them draw their own would make a nice cross-cultural art project. In the mean time, I plan on trying my hand at drawing several of the labyrinth forms. Somehow, I suspect the drawing of one is almost as effective at calming stressed nerves as tracing one.

This is a finger labyrinth. You can trace it online with your finger. Here's a link to one in PDF format that you can print out and keep.


Meditation - a new link category

Prayer is meditation. Walking can also be meditation. To my mind, so can singing and dancing. Meditation is a focus on the spiritual. It comes in many shapes and forms and crosses most religious boundaries. It connects us with our past, present and future.

My best friend meditates as frequently as she can fit the time in. Susan seems to meditate through her daily exercise. My sister, when she was younger, took one of those courses on transcendental meditation with a guru. This was during the 70's. She still meditates today in the structure of her faith and life. I'm finding myself doing a form of meditation that has nothing to do with clearing the mind but a lot to do with finding a focus and a connection to the spiritual. My church has a prayer garden which is so meditative in nature that even the spirits of past members rest there. We are in the process of building a labyrinth.

Because so much of faith and communication with God centers around a form of quiet reflection (a.k.a. meditation) I decided that it would be a good thing to include a list of meditation links here. The ones I have found so far are linked to one another. The first is the World Community for Christian Meditation. It led me to The Spiritual Site. From them I found Hamish Fulton who is an artist who loves walking. WCCM has a lot of good information and some really good articles on meditation. One I particularly like is about silence in the Eucharist. The Spiritual Site is a work in progress. They have some very good links in addition to some audio interviews with Laurence Freedman. Hamish Fulton's website is a work of art in and of itself. There is a constant sound of walking and some very beautiful images that fade in and out and blend as you progress through the site.

I'll add more links as I find them. Enjoy!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Odd bits

This past week I've spent more time at church than usual thanks mostly to Vacation Bible School. It has been fun even if I was one of the only people there who had never been a parent attending. In addition to the fun, I got to meet some people I didn't know yet, and I got out and involved in children's education. One thing I liked about it was that adults were learning right along side the kids. Ever since the first time I experienced it, I have always felt that having children see that their parents are learning at church too and some of the same sort of stories is both practical and effective intergenerational functioning in both church and education. Makes me wish that when a child in school has a parent that can't read or do math we could include that parent in our education system right along side of the child. It would make so much more of an impact that I think both generations would gain from it.

I also managed to watch two movies: "Night at the Museum" and "Hide and Seek". Both were pretty good. Although I don't remember the rating, I'm guessing that Night at the Museum is family fare. So that is probably something I can discuss with kids at school. Hide and Seek on the other hand seemed to make a study in psychological horror. The movie was pretty spooky. Enough so that when I watched the special features, such as alternative endings and deleted scenes, I turned on the commentary so that I'd have something to distract me from the spookiness of the scenes. The next movie from Netflix, which will arrive on Saturday, is "Without Borders." This is a love story about two doctors who help people in poor countries and during national disasters and keep meeting during these things and fall in love.

I've had the 4th of the 5 guitar lessons. They have gone pretty well. I pick up fairly quickly what Matt shows me but don't always get it smooth. This last lesson we got around to playing some songs. I had a small book in the guitar case and we wandered through it playing this and that. I promised that next lesson I would bring the score to Come Saturday Morning, which he had never heard before but thought it was pretty when he heard me sing a little of it. This in my, no longer very nice, voice so it must have really impressed him with its lyrics and melody. Now I need to look up what movie it came from because he asked and I couldn't remember.

Sometime in the past few days I found time to hit the local healthy foods market, Sun Harvest (a.k.a Wild Oats). They had meat on sale and I added a few items to my list just for that trip. When I got through the register I was stunned to find that the cost of the meat was considerably less than the other items I had purchased. This didn't use to be the case. I remember, when I was younger, being very careful to get less expensive cuts of meat to save money. Things sure have changed since then.

As if shopping for meat, thereby reducing my grocery budget, wasn't bad enough, I've also managed to actually cook a few things. One of them was a nice NY Strip steak. I was grateful to have remembered the spice combination an old friend from NY used when he dined at my house once (in the 70's so you might imagine how old a memory this was). It was a little salt and pepper, a sprinkling of garlic powder, and a dusting of ground celery seed. I substituted unsalted lemon pepper for the first two, added unseasoned tenderizer just in case I hadn't picked out a really tender cut of meat, and put it under the broiler for just long enough to get medium to medium rare meat. Despite the beef scares of recent years, it tasted fantastic! Today I remembered how to cook corn on the cob. And later this weekend, when the chicken breasts are defrosted, I'll bake them and then slice them into pieces for portion control dining later in the week.

Oh, and I've taken to keeping some limes cut into pieces in a small container in the fridge to add to the ice cold water I am starting to drink more and more of. Sounds like my diet is getting healthier. Hopefully I'll be back down to a size 14 when the spring semester comes around and I'm starting to interview. In the mean time the water with lime tastes really good.

One last and almost spiritual habit I've resurrected is involved in teeth cleaning. A couple of visits ago my dentist confessed to me that his favorite toothpaste was baking soda. I asked him if he meant the stuff that came in tubes and he said, No. The stuff that comes powdered from a box." It seems that when he was in dental school he had been looking at some plaque under a microscope and had put a drop of baking soda onto the slide to see what would happen. Poof! No more plaque. That impressed me! My grandmother used to brush her teeth with a mixture of baking soda and salt. I haven't pulled out the salt yet because the baking soda is a bit salty in it's own right. The nice thing is that when I'm done using this powder, picked up from my palm on my damp toothbrush, my mouth tastes sweet and the teeth are polished clean with the tiny granules. And it is so inexpensive that I could probably buy a nice skirt or blouse in what I'm saving on tooth paste at the end of the year. So I'll keep on using this remembered habit from my grandmother, from whom so many spiritual connections seem to come, and figure that in addition to saving money and taking better care of my teeth, I'm also taking better care of the temple my body became when I received God's spirit.

Peace, Hope & Joy!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Playing Tag with Seven Things thingy

Since two of my friends have done this I'm going to jump in on it too. I'm not sure I have something that falls into every category. Maybe not even most of them. But I love this kind of thing so here goes.

1) Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies: Well, there used to be one of those a long time ago when I was in my 20's. It's out of print and I can't even find a reference to it on the web today so I'll go with my next one. It's Genesis Meditations by Neil Douglas-Klotz. He also wrote Prayers of the Cosmos. This man's writings about the mindset of the language used have given me a different perspective on how to read books of faith. They've given me a different standard. Faith is talked about in terms of a living, ever changing thing. Life is change and Life in God is even more so. I've given away a copy of each of these to my closest spiritual friend. I'd gladly give away other copies if I had the wherewithal to do so. Maybe someday soon when I'm a working teacher...

2) Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music: Paul Horn's music. Especially that he recorded in the Taj Mahal. He has turned music into an environmental experiment and the results are beautiful. Ever since listening to his works music has changed form for me. I can listen to a few notes and hear melody where I hadn't known any existed before.

3) Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue: Actually, I can name two: The American President and Twister. The American President takes me back to the days when JFK's kids were pictured in Life magazine tumbling around on the White House lawn. Twister caters to my love of special effects and storm watching. I've seen each film so many times that I almost have the scripts memorized.

4) Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief: This one's really hard. I worked at not getting too absorbed by the fantasy of movies and TV shows because I get so easily caught up in the story that I feel like I'm a part of it. So picking out an actor or actress who I'm willing to see as the "real thing" in any role they choose is tough. I used to like to watch Bonnie Franklin who played the mother on One Day at a Time. She did the most awesome monologue on turning 40 that I'd ever heard. It was totally believable. I haven't seen her in anything lately so I don't know what she is doing. Someone I will watch in just about any movie he stars in is Harrison Ford. He is very good at the roles he plays and is also easy on the eyes. I can say the same thing about Sandra Bullock.

5) Name a work of art you’d like to live with: I agree with JSD here. I love the world we live in and the wilder, more "God's country" the place is, the happier I am. If I picked a work of art for my walls I'd like the original Michel Whalen painting that was the piece for the cover of The Stone of Farewell. It is an awesome wrap around cover with a beautiful lad in the midst of a cloud of butterflies with a lake in the background nearby. Here's a link to the print on Whalen's web site.

6) Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life: The writings of Robert Heinlein. Particularly Stranger in a Strange Land. I read that one several times and got something new every time I reread it. I was young and liked his liberal views on God, faith and love.

7) Name a punch line that always makes you laugh: I'm not sure I can answer this one. I love a good joke but other people are usually better at telling them than I am. Nor do I have a huge list of punch lines to pull from. Favorite comedians I can do. I grew up on Bob Hope and other intellectual humorists. They didn't generally repeat punchlines. Red Skelton was wonderful. I loved him for the poignancy of his humor. I also loved Carol Burnett. People I'll gladly watch today are Whoopie Goldberg and Robin Williams. If I ever do come across a punchline that I never fail to laugh at I hope someone draws it to my attention. I'll gladly come back and finish this list.

I wonder who is going to do this next.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fallow Fields or What Lies Beneath

The other day I was complaining to my PC that I hadn't done anything all summer. I was "unproductive." Nothing was getting accomplished! Thank goodness my PC has a much brighter view of my life than I do. After listing a few of the things I had mentioned accomplishing in past sessions he thoughtfully told me about a couple of images he saw in me. One of them was that of a seed which hadn't yet sprouted but had powerful things going on beneath the surface. The other image was that of a fallow field. He asked if I could have faith in that image.

At the time I didn't make the connection. Fallow fields are those lying unused for a season. "In what way are those productive?" I wondered. So when I saw him today I asked him to explain the image because I didn't feel I was getting it. He reminded me that when a field lies fallow it is being allowed to rest for the purpose of recovering it's strength and richness. The farmer will plow the field under, in the process turning all the roots and stems of the past year's crop under to decay and renew the nutrients the soil had expended in bringing that crop to fullness and bounty. Then the field will be allowed to rest for a year while this renewing takes place. When the fallow season has passed the field is once again healthy and ready to bring forth life from the seeds planted in it. It is rich soil and fertile.

His message was, that my unproductive summer was a time that I had used to rest and recover. I had found time to do some of the things I loved and done others I had wanted to but been putting off for various reasons. We started looking at what I had done over the summer and he was right. This past summer I've made progress in finding my personal inner strength. Even though I'm not where I want to be with some of the changes taking place in my life I can see the direction these trends are taking.

I've started rearranging my possession list to eliminate some things that bring up bad memories. Often those memories are from my marriage which I no longer want to remember. I'm finally severing that connection and the pain it brings from time to time.

I've found time to read quite a few books. Some of them were even helpful in recognizing what is going on with me. Reading has always been a source of renewal and escape for me. I've used it to find new places to send my mind since I was a teen struggling with the angst of growing up in a family that didn't appreciate me and was doing more criticizing than applauding.

I've spent time growing closer to a friend and fostering a few new relationships. One of those relationships is with myself.

I've made good progress in regaining a beloved skill that I had let slide, my guitar playing. And best of all for this one...I have plans for the furthering of it. When my series of 5 guitar lessons ends I will have Frederick Noad's Solo Guitar Playing to help me continue to grow in skill and technique.

I've found the time and motivation to get out and see things I wanted to and was able to do this without anyone else along. In doing so I found, for the first time in years, that I didn't need anyone else's company to enjoy the experience. That is a huge step forward for me. Over the course of my marriage and divorce I had gotten so used to having companionship and valuing things based on shared opinions and experiences that I'd almost forgotten how to enjoy something solo. I see being able to be solo and liking it as a strength for facing the future no matter what it brings. If I can enjoy life just for the sake of it and not for someone else then I can do whatever I want and go where ever I desire. I can make a life for myself and not hurt when it isn't shared by someone else. Yes, I still want to have someone in my life, but I think I begin to see a life that isn't crippled by not having anyone else in it but me. What does that say about me? It says I'm beginning to like me again. For a woman of my generation who was "left" that is an enormously wonderful feeling.

When I look back at this past summer, I can tell I've made good progress. And if I can keep that in mind when I find myself doing the "oh, I'm not doing what I should" thing and starting to beat myself up mentally, I'll be just fine and getting stronger by the season. Maybe that is what he meant by having faith in an image.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A little bit about spam

Recently my inbox has been assaulted by a particular type of spam I hadn't seen before. This is the ecard spam which claims I have received a card from a friend, classmate, family member, co-worker...all kinds of relational people I might have hoped to hear from but don't recognize in this format.

I admit that I opened the first one and was preparing to click on the link within when I noticed that it wasn't a webpage. Instead it was a set of numbers which I guess was an IP address. When I realized that there was no real address in the link I tried to find the ecard company that it came from. I found a page but no legitimate functioning on it. There was a place where I could put in the number of the ecard but it gave me the same numbered address. I decided to give it a pass. Now, after a bit of research, I'm glad I did.

Apparently, some of these links take you to a webpage which contains nothing and instead connects you to a worm. Others are from major spam servers. All in all it isn't a good thing to get one. Since that first one, my receipt of these letters has grown by leaps and bounds. I'm ignoring them all. The sad thing is that I love getting ecards from my friends and regret the insult this type of spam is doing to the legitimate ecard industry.

How can you tell when one of these ecard letters is spam? Some common sense is helpful so you might want to read the following bits. I've noticed at least one difference between the good and the bad ecard letters.

1. Most legitimate ecard companies have your friend's name or email address as the sender and not their own. Sure, some ecard companies use their own name as the sending email address but these are ones you know and recognize.

2. Legitimate ecard companies don't know anything about your relationship with the sender. They could be your brother or a total stranger but the ecard company doesn't know if you are related to them, went to school with them, or graduated with them. So if the letter claims a relationship give it a pass and send it to the spam filter. Your friend did not give them that kind of info.

3. Don't click on links you aren't sure of. Links in letters can appear to be good but might not be. I use Firefox and Eudora. If you put your cursor over the link these browsers have the real address you are clicking on in the lower left hand corner of the window frame. You can use this to tell if you are seeing the real thing or being rerouted to somewhere else. If the email address isn't on the up and up don't click on it. If you really have to know go to the real ecard address by typing it into your browser and then manually enter the pick up code. If you got a card you can then pick it up safely. If you didn't then the code should get you some kind of error message.

That's pretty much it. Common sense, mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism, is a huge help in figuring out scams and spam. Lots of people have extra "throw away" email addresses. I've never done this. I'm basically lazy and don't want to go through the extra work involved. But don't go by me. If you are inundated with spam then by all means do something about it.

Be careful out there. If you like ecards and use them like I sometimes do why not send a nice letter to your friends telling them which ecard companies you use and then maybe they won't be deceived by the other kind.