December 24, 2008

Favorite Things: Christmas Movies

A Christmas Story: One Christmas, I think Papa Cool and I watched this for a majority of the 24 hours TNT (or is it TBS?) played it. Non-stop classic lines: "A major award!" "Fra-gil-e." "You'll shoot your eye out!" "Drink more ovaltine?"

Borrowed Hearts: Papa Cool and I have watched many Christmas movies. Typically, we watch so many because our gifts are already neatly wrapped beneath the tree, while Mama and Sista Cool frantically try to create and wrap their presents. One of our major coups involved watching the original (and best) Miracle on 34th St. followed by the 90s remake. This movie, however, is our classic. A total 90s cheese-fest starring Eric McCormack (of Will and Grace) and Roma Downey, it involves a highly improbable tale, a Mexican millionaire angel, an annoying kid, and a golf hustler. It doesn't get any better than this. We still call each other every Christmas season when we spot the airtimes for this movie. Papa Cool has since branched out into the wide world of Hallmark movies and Fa-la-la-la-Lifetime, but this is just about the only modern TV Christmas movie I watch.

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The all-time classic. My HS students still enjoy watching it, and I must admit to still tearing up a bit whenever Linus delivers his big "true meaning of Christmas" speech.

A Christmas Carol (the one with George C. Scott: This is the first version I remember watching, as it originally aired on TV. Mama Cool taped it off the TV, and we watched it every year. George C. Scott is absolutely perfect as Scrooge, able to portray both his evil-capitalist-who-hates-holidays side and his giddy-as-a-schoolboy side. Roger Rees, one of my favorite actors, is his nephew Fred, and every portrayal is just right. Fezziwig's is delightful, the poorhouse (sometimes left out of other versions) is absolutely depressing. The goose at the end is pretty large as well.
I don't know if you spend your Christmas Eve watching movies, lighting candles, or reading Luke, but however you do it, have a wonderful evening. (Mr. Cool, aka Scroogey McGrinch, would offer his Christmas movie warning--don't watch It's a Wonderful Life--he never has.)

December 22, 2008

Favorite Things: Christmas Tunes

Sara Groves O Holy Night: The newest addition to my Christmas tuneage, this album is peaceful, relaxing, and great background to a Christmas work day. She mostly reworks classic tunes, creating new melodies and backgrounds. It mostly works. My favorite, though, is the lighthearted "Toy Packaging," in which she echoes the complaints of millions of adults regarding the draconian plastic that encases children's toys.

Brad Paisley Christmas: I grew up listening to country music, and while I stick pretty much to bluegrass any more, I still enjoy listening to Brad, the country guitar god with a sense of humour. Sure, the country Christmas classics like "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy" are here, but Paisley creates new classics like "Penguin, James Penguin." Probably my favorite song, it details the adventures of Santa's helper penguin, a dashing, tuxedo-wearing spy. I can't wait to play and sing it with my kiddo.

Andrew Peterson Behold the Lamb of God: This is Mr. Cool's favorite Christmas album, and the one that doesn't go into storage after the Christmas season. We listen to it all year. The rare, and beautiful, Christmas concept album, it covers the full story of "the true tall tale of the coming of Christ." In addition, Peterson conquers the most boring of all parts of the Bible: a long list of begats in the song, "Matthew's Begats."

Barenaked Ladies Barenaked for the Holidays: I love all of the previous albums (and the one to come), but this is the album I love to put on the most. They do a version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?:! They sing "Deck the Halls," only the only words they use are Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young! They sing a song about oppressed elves with Michael Buble! Seriously, this album is great, and includes the most beautiful Hanukkah song I've ever heard--"Hanukkah Blessings."

Mindy Smith My Holiday: Mindy Smith is one of the new folk/pop/country chanteuses out there, and I discovered her through her blistering cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," one of the best songs ever, in my opinion. Her albums are great, and her Christmas album not only covers the classics well, as in her smokin' take of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve," but offers great new songs, including "Follow the Shepherd Home," a beautiful and true Christmas song.

Now, of course, I still love the classics, like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Mannheim Steamroller, and Russell Newport, but in addition to these newbies, my all-time favorite Christmas Album is:

Handel The Messiah: When I was growing up, my mom had a two-record version of The Messiah, and I loved to put on those records and listen. The soaring "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted," the classic and stirring "For Unto Us a Child is Born,"and, of course, everyone's favorite "Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth." When I was in college, I went down to Arizona before Christmas with my grandparents, and I was able to see a performance of The Messiah with my grandma. It was amazing to see and hear it sung live. I probably listen to this more than any other Christmas album.

What do you like to listen to this most wonderful time of the year?

December 20, 2008

A Weekend Meme

Memes, or memorandums, are a blogger way of sharing bits of your life and challenging yourself to do, or be, more in your life. I liked this one, although it made me feel a bit sad about the lack of things I've done in my life. I am only 29. I have a lot more time to go!

Things I've Done (In Bold)
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band Clarinet counts, right?
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world And I loved it!
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo As Mrs. Claus in the school Christmas pageant
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch I do believe knitting counts.
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables Only once though, and deer ate most of 'em
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset I see pretty much every sunrise.
31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted My sister is an artist, after all.
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching In Alaska--and we saw orcas!
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma And then I fainted. Seriously.
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London Sort've--there was a crowd!
77. Broken a bone My wrist, in 6th grade basketball.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle Well, I thought it was speeding.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House West Wing, baby!
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby Well, I'm working on this one!
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant

December 18, 2008

Abigail Adams

As I wrote yesterday about John, I thought I would write a little about Abigail. I studied her in a freshman history class, and took her as a hero. Intelligent, sharp-witted--a true partner to her husband. There are books about her, and you can read her correspondence, which sparkles (a cliche, but oh-s0-true) with life and vitality. Throughout her letters you can read of her passion for her husband, her thoughts on his duty to America, her duty as a wife and mother, and her real, true opinions of other political figures.

Abigail to John, as he became president (and after 33 years of marriage):
The cold has been more severe than I can ever before recollect. It has frozen the ink in my pen, and chilled the blood in my veins, but not the warmth of my affection for him for whom my heart beats with unabated ardor through all the changes and vicissitudes of life, in the still calm of Peacefield, and the
turbulent scenes in which he is about to engage.

Abigail to Thomas Jefferson, responding heatedly to his claim that he had not supported a libelous newspaperman:

The serpent you cherished and warmed, bit the hand that nourished him, and gave you sufficient specimens of his talents, his gratitude, his justice, and his truth. When such vipers are let loose upon society, all distinction between virtue and vice are leveled, all respect for character is lost.

Abigail to her only daughter, on the subject of grandparenting:

I begin to think grandparents not so well qualified to educate grandchildren as parents. They are apt to relax in their spirit of government, and be too indulgent.

I could go on.
This painting of Abigail was painted by Gilbert Stuart while she was still first lady. While painting it, Stuart remarked that as a young woman she must have been a "perfect Venus," to which Adams replied, "She was! Oh, sir, she was."

December 17, 2008

John Adams

I have just finished John Adams by David McCullough. Whew. I had definitely not read any hardcore nonfiction in a while, but I was fascinated and sucked in by the story. It helps that Abigail Adams is one of my heroes, and she figures prominently in the story.

The vast amount of correspondence sent by John Adams, his wife, his children, his friends--it makes me lament the lack of real letter writing we do today. Perhaps I should think of this blog as a letter--and based on his proclivity to write letters and articles for newspapers, I can definitely see John keeping a blog.

If you have any interest in the Revolution, the early years of the U.S., or John Adams, I would recommend this book. It is fascinating to read his own words.

A Great Anecdote: The 1800 election, a contest largely between Jefferson and Adams (as the incumbent), was bitter. Adams was mad, a monarchist, old, and toothless. Jefferson cohabited with a slave woman. All of this rancor led to this story:

"If Jefferson carried on with slave women, Adams, according to one story in circulation, had ordered Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to London to procure four pretty mistresses to divide between them. When the story reached Adams, he
was highly amused. 'I do declare upon my honor,' he wrote
William Tudor, 'if this is true General Pinckney has kept them all for himself and cheated me out of my two.'"

The painting I chose was painted by Gilbert Stuart when Adams was nearly 89. His son, John Quincy, asked him to pose for it. Adams enjoyed posing for Stuart, saying, "He lets me do as I please and keeps me constantly amused with conversation." This is the last painting of Adams.

December 16, 2008

Does Pregnancy Affect Hearing?

Misheard today:

Student A: What's for lunch?
Student B: Speedo or ham sandwich.
Teacher: What?! (Hysterical Laughter)
Student B: Crispito (a taquito hybrid)--what's funny about that, Miss?
Teacher: Nothing--I thought you said speedo.

Followed by an explanation of what speedos are to clueless student.

December 15, 2008


I was doing a bit of geography research and found this great site/picture. If you've ever wondered about the size of Alaska, take a gander at this:

Just so you're clear, Alaska is also not down by Hawaii. Just making sure you know. (Not all of the kids are that clueless, not all of the kids are that clueless . . .)

-18 Below

Actual Conversation Recorded in My Car Pool This Morning:

Me: What's the temperature reading now?
Driver: It's reading -18.
Me: Seriously?
Shotgun Passenger: It has warmed up. It was reading -22.
Me: This is ridiculous. I should be sitting by a fire.
Shotgun Passenger: Heck, we should be IN a fire!

Group Laughter and Shivering

Edited to Add: Happy Birthday, Mama Cool! I hope you can stay nice and warm and cozy today! Much love!

December 11, 2008

You Can Lead a Horse to Water

We currently have a week and one day until the end of our semester. In HS, semesters count. If you fail the semester you will be taking my class again. I have a class with five sophomores/juniors trying to pass English I for the second time.

Currently, four of them are failing again. Two have a chance--their Fs are very high, and they are turning in all their work. When all the grades are in, they should pass. Two have very, very low grades. I have given them multiple copies of every assignment. I check in with them constantly. I push and push to try to get them to do work. I give them extra help, extra time, every little advantage I can think of.

This is the most frustrating part of my job. They could pass. They should pass. They would pass, if they would just do some work.

I just can't make them drink.

December 09, 2008

Favorite Things: Christmas Goodies

The goodies list came out today--each department has a day when each teacher must bring goodies to load up the teachers' lounge. I imagine that one of things most people can agree on about Christmas is the number of delicious goodies that seem to appear only at this time of year.

I love so many Christmas traditional yummies Mama Cool has whipped up over the years--English toffee, peppermint bark, gingerbread cookies, drommar, Honey Twists, snowballs . . .the list could go on for miles. What are your favorite treats this time of year?

In the spirit of the season, though, I thought I'd share my favorite goodie to make and share. If only the internet was magical enough that you could reach into the computer and grab some.

This recipe is from the back of a bag of Jolly Time popcorn. I think it makes the best caramel corn ever. It makes a bunch too, so feel free to share!

Baked Caramel Corn

Nonstick cooking Spray
6 quarts popped Jolly Time Pop Corn (air popped is the absolute best)
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup (I prefer dark for a more caramelly color)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 F. Coat bottom and sides of large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place popped pop corn in roasting pan.

In heavy saucepan, slowly melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Gradually pour over popped pop corn, mixing well. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly covered container.

Makes about 6 quarts

December 08, 2008

The Christmas Debacle of 2008

I have never been very good at buying Mr. Cool presents. He tends to really want items that are way out of the prescribed Christmas budget, so the value items I get tend to not get used that often. Books, DVDs, food dehydrators (but he loves jerky!), are covered with dust.

This year, I was determined to finally get him something big, exciting, and off his list. On Saturday, when I sneakily consulted the list, I saw that a reasonably affordable tool had made it on the list: hand router. Excellent, I thought. I can totally find one of those. So, off I merrily tripped to Harbor Freight, Home Depot, and Lowe's, finally finding the perfect Dremel with a plunge router attachment. I scurried home, wrapped them up, and placed them under the tree.

Upon returning, home, Mr. Cool spotted the presents. "See if you can guess!" I chirped merrily, dripping with Christmas spirit.
"I don't know," he said, carefully eying the wrapped presents. "Maybe a couple books? Unless, it's a hand router."
I began to try to brazen it out, but my unstable emotional state led to me start tearing up. "It is," I said.
"I bought myself one last week," he replied, "I was meaning to tell you."
"A hand router? You bought yourself one?!" I was incredulous and began to cry. And cry.

To Mr. Cool's credit, he felt pretty terrible. I then made him unwrap the gifts, to make sure they were exactly like what he had bought, and that he couldn't use them. He admitted that they were nicer, but that he wouldn't really need or use them. He started to get a little teary.

I took the tools back to the store yesterday. I was really disappointed that the clerk didn't ask me why I was returning them. I wanted to regale her with the story of my lame husband, who buys items less than a month before Christmas that are on his list. "It was a preliminary list!" he said, trying to justify himself. Hmmm. Yeah, right. But what do I get him now? Perhaps I should just give him a duster, so he can keep his old gifts clean.

December 06, 2008

The Defarge Scarf

Way back on Halloween (when they were just starting to put up Christmas decorations), I started knitting random codes into a roughly scarf-shaped piece of cloth. Dressed as Madame Defarge, I alternated knits, purls, k2togs, and yos as I told the students I was carefully putting their names on the list for death. Well, I ran out of yarn, and so had a bit of a scarflet, here modeled on my way to Thanksgiving dinner.

Yarn: Manos del Uruguay 100% Wool, in a beautiful colorway.
I have "pinned" my scarflet with a Scrabble bobby pin that works perfectly.

Giving the camera my best "You can tell the wind and fire to stop, but don't tell me," look.

Underneath a coat, this is just perfect for keeping my neck warm, and looks like an ascot. Only, it's in wilder colors. Yay, finished knitting!

December 05, 2008

Keeping My Head Warm Since 2008

Remember the bee hat? Well, in today's 1 degree (Fahrenheit) morning chill, it kept me quite cozy. Not as cozy, perhaps, as the snow day I so longed for this week, but my head remained warm and my brain is ready to quiz students on regular and irregular verbs, so it works!

Sorry to report, I have no photo of the knitwear in action. Perhaps next time!

December 02, 2008

Favorite Things: Christmas Stories

I LOVE this time of year. LOVE it--I love everything about the Christmas season, even (to a lesser extent) the commercialism. I love decorating (the tree gets decorated tonight!), listening to the music, and most of all, reading the stories. Throughout this season, I'm going to share a few of my favorite things, and I'd like you to share right back. A person always needs new traditions!
This has been my favorite Christmas story since I was a little girl--I loved the illustrations, the story--it is a romantic and heartwarming story, and I know this year I am going to just sob. (I'm already a bit on edge whenever I see a new mother story.) I believe it is still out of print--I found my copy for $3 at an antique store that did not know what they had.

The classic, and still champion, Dickens' immortal A Christmas Carol. Mr. Cool becomes Scroogey McGrinch this time of year, but even he consented to letting me read this aloud one year. It sparkles, it moralizes, and (best of all), it is short! If you prefer one of the gazillion movie versions, I love the George C. Scott version, and Scroogey McGrinch likes the Mickey Mouse version. To each his own.

One of my favorite, beloved authors is Connie Willis. If you've never read Connie Willis, start! She is a fabulous science fiction author from Greeley, CO, and she has written one of the best Christmas short stories ever. It's probably in a compilation, but I read it and print it out every year online (ah, the wonderful interwebs). Called "Just Like the Ones We Used to Know," it involves blizzards and overplayed Christmas songs, to which we can all relate.
So what traditional readings do you have this season?

November 28, 2008


So, this post is a day late and a dollar short. I couldn't come up with a way to make this post clever and informative, so I'm just going to come out and say it: a new Cool will be arriving in June. A very small Cool, and we don't yet know if it will be Miss Cool or Master Cool. As of this week, though, the future Cool had a strong heartbeat and a proclivity for waving her hands around. Probably preparing for a political debate!

Anyway, we are pretty excited at the Cool household, and we have been ever since we learned that pirates are wild*. So, that's what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving season--heartbeats!

*In an episode of the Simpsons, the pregnancy test Apu and his bride take operates on the slot machine principle--three seperate slots. Babies, obviously mean baby, and pirates are wild. So, baby, baby, pirate equals a pregnancy!

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Eve

Today, I'm celebrating an early Thanksgiving with Mr. Cool's family. Now, I know Thanksgiving Eve is not a traditionally observed holiday, but perhaps today, instead of hanging stockings, you could start preparing your list of things you are quite thanksful for. I promise tomorrow, a special Thanksgiving post from here. You won't want to miss it.

November 22, 2008

An Exercise in Futility

This post is a bit late after the event, but better late than never, right? In October and November, I went to a spinning class with my knitting group. In case, like my husband, you assumed we were taking up a new form of exercise, I will clarify that we were spinning yarn.

You start with this--some nice sheepswool, cleaned, processed, and drafted into a chunk of fleece.

You then try to put it on a spinning wheel. This is the wheel I had the best luck with, an Ashford Traditional. Hopefully, you're thinking of Sleeping Beauty now, although it is a bit different. What you can't see is my right foot, trying to smoothly pump the treadle to maintain a continuous speed, without any speed-ups or slow-downs.

I wasn't great at spinning. What you see above is my best tiny little ball of yarn--and it isn't great. My yarn is uneven, either just barely spun or overspun. I'm not a natural, and I don't know if our instructor knew quite what to do with me. My biggest struggle involved getting the yarn to feed in and wrap around the bobbin, which apparently means my problem was tension. No one ever showed my how to adjust the tension on my wheel, so that made it hard.

Still, it was fun to try. I need to figure out some way to display my "beautiful" balls of yarn. Mr. Cool is relieved that he doesn't have to drop a chunk of change on a new wheel. Maybe I'll have to try with a spindle . . .

November 19, 2008

Past Life

LIFE magazine just put their photo archives on the internet, and look what I found! It's me!

November 11, 2008

Medal of Honor: A Veteran's Day Post

Last week, Mr. Cool and I stayed up late watching a documentary on PBS on the Medal of Honor and its recipients. Mr. Cool knows he can always suck me in to anything military as long as they mention the Civil War. It was fascinating, and we spent a good deal of time this weekend reading about the Medal of Honor. I learned about some amazing men and women who have served our country above and beyond, and I wanted to quickly share some of my favorite honorees.

Tibor Rubin, a Hungarian immigrant, was placed in a Nazi concentration camp at the age of 13, until liberated by American troops. He wanted to go to the U.S. to become a G.I. Joe, and although he struggled with the language test, eventually made it. He served in Korea, under an anti-Semitic commander who tried to kill him. Unfortunately, he was just too darn good at soldiering. He was later taken captive and held as a prisoner of war, where he stole food for his fellow captives and worked hard to domitzvahs (good deeds) as his late mother had taught him.

The other story that shocked and surprised me involved Admiral Stockdale. Yes, the same Admiral James Stockdale who served as Ross Perot's running mate in the 1992 election and famously said, "Who am I? Why am I here?" at the VP debate. He has been the butt of many jokes ever since, when in reality his Medal of Honor citation is incredible. I find I must quote it, rather than trying to re-tell the story:
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while senior naval officer in the Prisoner of War camps of North Vietnam. Recognized by his captors as the leader in the Prisoners' of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation, Rear Adm. Stockdale was singled out for interrogation and attendant torture after he was detected in a covert communications attempt. Sensing the start of another purge, and aware that his earlier efforts at self-disfiguration to dissuade his captors from exploiting him for propaganda purposes had resulted in cruel and agonizing punishment, Rear Adm. Stockdale resolved to make himself a symbol of resistance regardless of personal sacrifice. He deliberately inflicted a near-mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War. By his heroic action, at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country. Rear Adm. Stockdale's valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
I hope today you will take a chance to learn about the many Medal of Honor recipients, including Vernon Baker, originally from Cheyenne, WY, "Hershey" Miyamura, raised in New Mexico, and the four heroes from Pueblo, CO. And, if you really are a Civil War nerd like me, reading the various citations from the Civil War is a great way to kill some time. Of course, thanks to any and all veterans who read this blog, and a special thanks to my family who has served in the military: my Grandpa Bill, my father-in-law George, and my brother-in-law Matthew.

I'll close this rather long post with a quote:
"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." ~Winston Churchill (Mr. Cool's oft-quoted quote)

November 10, 2008

John Leonard, In Remembrance

I grew up watching CBS Sunday Morning, with Charles Kuralt, and then Charles Osgood. I always stayed to watch John Leonard review books, movies, and TV. I loved his style, his words. He was a master of the grammatically correct extra-long sentence. As I watched Sunday Morning yesterday, I was saddened to learn he had died. I am grateful for the internet, which allows us to find his reviews and read his prose. I will leave you with a quick quote on reading, and a link to his review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The books we love, love us back. In gratitude, we should promise not to cheat on them -- not to pretend we're better than they are; not to use them as target practice, agit-prop, trampolines, photo ops or stalking horses; not to sell out
scruple to that scratch-and-sniff info-tainment racket in which we posture in front of experience instead of engaging it, and fidget in our cynical opportunism for an angle, a spin, or a take, instead of consulting compass points of principle, and strike attitudes like matches, to admire our wiseguy profiles in the mirrors of the slicks. We are reading for our lives, not performing like seals for some fresh fish.

November 05, 2008


Whatever your feelings about the incumbent, one of the marvels of American history has always been the transition from one administration to another. Sure, John Adams left in the middle of the night to avoid Thomas Jefferson, but every since it has been a time that astonishes the rest of the world. So, today, I thought President Bush's comments about the election were pretty dang classy:
"No matter how they cast their ballots, all Americans can be proud
of the history that was made yesterday," he said. "Across the country, citizens
voted in large numbers. They showed a watching world the vitality of America's
democracy and the strides we have made towards a more perfect union. They chose
a president whose journey represents a triumph of the American story, a
testament to hard work, optimism, and faith in the enduring promise of our
nation," said President Bush.
Today, I am indeed proud to be an American. Although, I'm not sure what commercials will be on TV tonight.

November 04, 2008


I voted this morning in a small-town City Hall, with a cold line first thing in the morning. I am proudly wearing my "I Voted" sticker.

Many other elections have happened on November 4th, so check out today in history.

Edited to Add: Perhaps the coolest place on earth to vote today--if only I wasn't afraid of heights!

October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Some student artwork on my whiteboard

Madame Defarge knits her students names into the list for the guillotine. (Madame Defarge's shroud is coming along nicely--it should appear in another post as a finished item.)

October 30, 2008

A Final Election Post

If I lived in Colorado about 120 years ago, today would probably be the latest I would be getting any election news before I sent my husband to the polls on his horse. (Remember, I couldn't go, just send the breadwinner with exhortations.) So, I'm closing out my political series for a while. I decided to close with the lyrics to one of my favorite Jackson Browne songs (if you don't listen to him, start now. He still rocks.) When I was singing along with this song on my walk yesterday, I realized that it contains all I have left to say about this election. Perhaps, if we could all sing this song, this time of year would be a lot easier.

And the river opens for the righteous (5 times)
I was walking with my brother
And he wondered what's on my mind
I said what I believe in my soul
Ain't what I see with my eyes
And we can't turn our backs this time

I am a patriot
And I love my county
Because my country is all I know
I want to be with my family
People who understand me
I've got nowhere else to go
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous

And I was talking with my sister
She looked so fine
I said, "Baby, what's on your mind?"
She said, "I want to run like the lion
Released from the cages
Released from the rages
Burning in my heart tonight"

And I ain't no communist
And I ain't no capitalist
And I ain't no socialist
And I ain't no imperialist
And I ain't no democrat
So I ain't no republican
I only know one party
And it is freedom

I am, I am, I am
I am a patriot
And I love my country
Because my country is all I know
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous...(repeats)
I want to run like the lion,
Released from the cages
Released from the rages
I said what I believe in my soul
It ain't what I see with my eyes
Someday (repeats)

October 29, 2008

Sweetie, I've Got Bad News

This is old news, but I'm pretty sure you don't know--Fox cancelled New Amsterdam. Oh--and CW cancelled Aliens in America. I was just checking, because I hadn't seen any ads. I thought I'd let you know. Bummer.

Please post any remembrances of TV shows you loved that were cancelled way too soon.

October 28, 2008

Standing up for Sarah

I found this interesting article, concerning how some feminists who disagree with Sarah Palin are still trying to stand up for her. I found it interesting, as I too have been disheartened at the treatment she has received with a lack of media outcry. Specifically, when I heard Larry Flynt was crafting a porn film about her, without any sort of outcry, I felt a loss of hope for the position of women in our society. Perhaps if more people think like those in the article, there is some hope.

October 24, 2008

Color Me Surprised

Just for fun . . .
you are lightcyan

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very low - you have better things to do than jump headfirst into every little project. You make sure your actions are going to really accomplish something before you start because you hate wasting energy making everyone else think you're working.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the html color quiz

TAMP: Mr. Cool's America

The following occurred between the hours of 0600 and 1700 (which is 5pm for those who haven’t mastered the whole subtracting 12 from another two-digit number). The activities prove that (A) I am more American than apple pie and (B) I am less American and Captain America himself.

1) I cleaned a gun while watching the definitive liberal political drama series (West Wing).
2) I saw a celebrity: Tony Scheffler (TE for the Denver Football Broncos), then I saw an even bigger celebrity – Tony the Tiger of Frosted Flakes Fame. One is obviously better than the other, but they’re both GRRREAT!!!
3) I ate a hot dog for lunch. A Nathan’s dog as big as a small child’s leg (Sam’s Club is the cheapest lunch ever - $1.50 for a dog and a soda; and since I have no shame as an American, I stopped my wandering of bulk packaging twice more to partake of the free refills (96oz. of pure bladder bulging bliss)).
4) I wore cowboy boots all day, and yes, that cow poop is authentic.
5) I purchased 700 rounds of pistol ammunition before the sun rose, and will shoot them all by the week’s end.
6) I exercised my 2nd Amendment right of awesomeness (as mentioned above), but also explored my 1st Amendment right by reading a book about concepts I don’t necessarily agree with, by a guy who’s morally opposed to moral absolutes – all without issuing a Fatwah, declaring a jihad, or calling Limbaugh or Franken to complain.
7) I listened to National Public Radio, during a pledge drive no less. I could listen to dulcet tones of Nina Totenberg and Kai Ryssdal read the phonebook.
8) I, like any good American, made purchases on credit, using a flag motif card.
9) I watched PBS. I still don’t know why “America’s Test Kitchen” hasn’t won a day time Emmy – the ricotta cheese from today’s lasagna has more character than Days, Passions, and General Hospital’s combined.
10) I voted early. I voted for my guy, then using Tony the Tiger’s ID, I got back in line and voted again – thanks ACORN!
11) Seriously though, as is my custom, I confused the nice lady trying to record my vote. Only after my successful casting did I learned they were out of “I Voted Today” stickers. Upon hear this disastrous news, I asked the patriotic volunteer straight faced “how will I know not to vote again without my sticker?” She stared back at me blankly, either scared that I was serious or too afraid of my obvious mental instability to flag down the driver of my short yellow bus.

Yes, definitely more American then apple pie, but Captain American stands tall among our fallen Patriots. May he rest in peace…

October 23, 2008

Evil Wil Wheaton

I've talked about how I'm a geek, right? Well, luckily, people I've watched on TV and movies forever are also geeks. Although, sometimes they show up on TV police procedurals as evil serial killers. I'm not always down with that. If you know who Wil Wheaton is, and like to read a former TNG-er's thoughts on life, head on over to his great blog. It's a blog I like to save up, and then read a chunk of posts at one time.

October 20, 2008

Fiction for the Election

The best short story about politics, elections, and the presidency I've ever read: 2066 Election Day by Michael Shaara. I do believe I've found it full text on the fabulous interwebs. Please enjoy!

October 18, 2008

I have died of dysentery and gone to heaven

If, like me, you did a significant portion of growing up in the 1980s/90s, please read this article.

Then, if you follow its links, you can join me here.

October 17, 2008

Obama & The Godfather

While checking out our presidential candidates pop culture favorites, I learned that Obama's two favorite movies are The Godfather, Parts I and II. In fact, I saw him talk about this on TV, citing the fact that the first movie begins with the line, "I believe in America."

I'm not going to fault him for this, as I too love The Godfather, both book and film, but I would like to clarify what he's talking about. This will involve a trip down memory lane, so be prepared.

When I took European Immigrant Literature in college, I was fulfilling a credit requirement for my English Education degree. Luckily, I loved the class, and never more than when we were reading The Godfather. What an assignment! I loved every second of it, and when we watched the movie (Part I), it blew me away. I know most people think of this as a "guy" film, but it's fantastic. Powerful, mesmerizing--the acting is insanely good. (You should, of course, know who's in the film--Brando, Pacino, Duvall.) I've seen it many more times since then, although I've never managed to force Mr. Cool to join me.

So I totally understand why Obama loves this movie. I respect him for making the choice to say he loves a gangster film over, say, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but his choice of singling out that first line rings false. Oh, sure, it's the first line of the movie, but it's said by Amerigo Bonasera, who has come to the Godfather for help. He has always believed in America, so when his daughter was brutally attacked by WASP boys, he trusted the American justice system to punish them. It failed him--they were released with just probation. Bonasera, though, wants more. He has always believed in America, but it has let him down. It has not given him the justice he desires--so he has come to ask the Godfather to kill the two young men. The Godfather refuses, and chastises Bonasera for not coming to him earlier. If he truly believes in America, he should accept the justice it provided. In the end, the Godfather does send some thugs to properly beat up the young men.

The idea throughout The Godfather is that while America is a land of prosperity, opportunity, and justice, if you are an Italian immigrant, you will be better served by the Family. There you can truly find prosperity, opportunity, and justice. Perhaps that is true for all of us--perhaps only in family can we find true fulfillment. Patriotism might only lead to disappointment.

October 14, 2008

Fantasy Campaign Ad #4

Destined to be the leader . . .

Supported by a strong, intelligent wife . . .

Victorious in battle . . .

A gracious host to the previous rulers . . .

Seeks advice from different channels . . .

Doesn't this sound like a man you want in charge?

I'm Macbeth, and I supporteth this message, and I desperately wanteth to be King! Even tho', tis but a sound and fury, signifying nothing, this ad wast paid for by my dear Lady Macbeth, who almost more desperately wanteth me to thine King!

The Pick-up Artist

A student just offered two pick-up lines to me:

"Miss, are you a parking ticket, because you have 'fine' written all over you."

"Miss, if I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put U and I together."

I told him I'd put him and work together.

The Teaching Depths

Last week, parent/teacher conferences. Two nights of four extra hours of work, discussing grades and behavior with parents. I saw good kids, I saw bad kids. I met happy parents, I met strict parents, I met cranky parents.
I was tired.

This week, the first quarter ends. Four more days of dealing with students sudden realization that turning work in would help their grade, and their frantic pleas to accept late work. Which, being a softy, I always do. Four more days of grading late work, entering grades, answering frequent pestering to "tell me what my grade is now!"

If I can just make it to next Monday, maybe I can climb out of the depths, and back into the heights of teaching.

October 09, 2008

Fantasy Campaign Ad #3

Do you need a reason, puny human?

Vote Zeus!

This message paid for by Hephaestus, Lightning Bolt Crafter and organizer of the Keep Zeus in Power Fund.

October 04, 2008

Spirit Week, in Haiku

Underroos on top
of jeans--too wild and wacky?
Does Ironman care?

My blast from the past
Looked back to my senior year
Is ten years the past?

Empowerment is
tons of teenage guys in pink--
maybe we can change.

Spray can hair color--
Blondes turn green, purple, orange--
I should have bought stock.

Be true to your school--
paint your face blue, red, white--
I can hear pores cry.

October 03, 2008

The VP Debate

Well, not too bad, I think. No moments of, "Senator, I knew Jack Kennedy, and you are no Jack Kennedy." No candidates declaring, "Who am I? Why am I here?"

Although, to be fair, I sort've zoned out and started surfing the internet after a half hour, as I can only take so many talking points before I get grumpy. I relish the fact that we are only about a month away from the end of the campaign, as it truly feels like it has been going on since I was a wee voter.

I think I have only about one political, election-related blog post left in me. Then we will return to our normal teaching, reading, knitting schedule. So, today I leave you with an interesting commentary on the debate from Peggy Noonan. It was nice to read a moderate, conservative, positive spin.

October 01, 2008

Sarah Palin, Take 2

I've been hearing a lot of negative stuff about Sarah Palin, but as I was prepping myself for the debate tomorrow by reading upon various things, I watched another interview with Katie Couric. I found it quite interesting, both in that she did well and shares several of my beliefs, but also that this time Ms. Couric felt a bit more hounding. Look, Katie, I'm not going to tell you all the magazines and newspapers I read either, because I'm not here to give out free advertising. Anyway, if you're still watching and enjoying aspects of the campaign, take a watch.

My video wasn't working, so I've replaced it with a plain and simple link to the interview.

Blue Jeans

Without a doubt, blue jeans are my favorite piece of clothing. (This might break my mother's heart.) I feel like I look better in a great pair of jeans, that all my t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, vests, and blazers look better with my jeans, and that I am much more comfortable in my jeans.

This is a deep, life-long love affair, although according to pictures, my childhood in the 1980s led to some pretty bad pairs of jeans. I've also never quite recovered from Levi's decision to stop making ladies' 565s, which were my favorite style.

So, this week is my favorite week of school. Why? It's Spirit Week, which means as long as we are dressing up/participating in the fun days, I can wear jeans. It's fabulous--as a comfortable person, I'm a better teacher, I have more fun with the kids, and I'm quicker to the right discipline move.

Sigh. If only I could be draped in denim every day. (I love you, Mama Cool, and I do wear dresses and skirts sometimes, really!)

September 29, 2008

TAMP: Man Cannot Live on Bread Alone

Worth the wait? Probably not, but I’ll try anyway. To my 3.59 faithful readers, sorry it’s been a while. I wish I had some legitimate reason to excuse my absence from “those aren’t my pants,” but sadly the truth is I haven’t had any real inspiration recently, so here I go again…on my own…along the only road I’ve ever known…etc, etc…(Is there a legitimate thought that can’t be seconded by a kick-a$$ power ballad? I didn’t think so.) Since I don’t have a real thematic presentation for this entry (and I will try for one in the future), your stuck with more random thoughts and observations:

As I may have mentioned before, my job is a little odd, and full of interesting sights and smells. This week I’ve been working in Booking, where I kindly usher Weld’s fugitives of justice from the warm embrace of their arresting officer to the crushing reality of life with a criminal record, a frightening booking photo, and a bad night in a room cell 1. Cell 1 regularly houses 15 inmates and when my mad human Tetris skills are at work has been known to house 21-28. Stacking alleged offenders like cordwood has its disadvantages, most notably the smell – as one can only imagine – but this is not the smell that struck me the most this week.

As I was taking one of my breaks in the staff lounge this week, I was hit with a familiar and not unpleasant smell that one doesn’t normally associate with the men’s room at work. In my umpteenth trip, my brain had finally cataloged the smell and alerted my consciousness to what it was – the scent of fresh baked French bread. In some sort of Star Trekian vortex or Stargate-like worm hole, the men’s restroom in the officer’s lounge at the county lock-up smells like a Parisian patisserie (bakery for you simpletons out there).

In the past week I’ve booked in a grandmother, an active deputy sheriff (from another county), and almost got to book in a few nuns, which is a story for another day, but nothing I saw, read, observed, or experienced had the gross juxtaposition of a latrine mixed with the odor of a crusty and delicious conveyance of meat and cheese. Well, with that work done, I think I’ll go the bathroom and make myself a sandwich.

September 26, 2008


PETA's newest idea--incredibly wacky, as sexist as their fur ads, and a bit funny. It also makes me want a pint of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.

September 25, 2008

A Lurking Conservative

I haven't been blogging much, because I've been engaged in ready an incredibly lengthy debate on one of the general forums on Ravelry. It started out with the question from a European confused about the positive response toward Sarah Palin. It has turned into an intense, somewhat acrimonious debate concerning McCain vs. Obama.

Yesterday afternoon, I had sometime to throw up a few mild ideas that were moderately well received. Reading it this afternoon (I had over five hundred posts to catch up on), I realized that only one conservative woman was posting her ideas, and she was being debated by about twelve more liberal women. It was interesting to read--I lurked, but chickened out of really getting involved. I was a bit shocked to read this vitriol from women who love to knit, but apparently I've picked up a habit not quite in keeping with my more conservative self.

Should I have spoken up? Shouldn't we all just agree to disagree? Is the election invading any of your "comfort" spots?

September 23, 2008

Is it 11-5 yet?

My students are eagerly awaiting the end of the election season. As they can't vote, they are mostly indifferent to the process, and they are REALLY tired of all the political ads. I feel their pain.

I have to admit to some election fatigue myself, but as November 4th creeps up on us, I realized I hadn't checked out the candidates' education policies. If you care about education as well, please check out each candidate's ideas before you make your choice. Keep in mind, though, that the total American mindset toward education may need a change. The Quite Cool educational policy would involve changing our entire way of schooling, and perhaps moving away from a liberal arts education for every student. Harry Potter didn't take English I-IV. Maybe we should only give students a liberal arts education through grade six, and then allow them to make a choice about their future education.

Anyway, I have many more thoughts, but I also have some grading to do, so without further ado:

Barack Obama's Education Policy

John McCain's Education Platform

September 22, 2008

The Power

I just did bus duty. Which, in high school, means I stood in the middle of the road holding a small stop sign, so that all the buses could quickly swing left. Yep, I stopped a long line of high school upperclassmen in their tracks, with one simple sign. I'm still a little trembly from the adrenaline rush.

September 20, 2008

Letting Go of Guilt

A phrase one hears a lot in the blogosphere is "guilty pleasures." People regularly list various things they like under the heading of guilty pleasures. Why the guilt, I wonder? I suspect it's because of one's self image. People develop an attitude and perspective, and when they like something outside of that image, they feel shame and guilt.

Life's too short for guilty pleasures. I think if you like something, you should enjoy liking it. Any guilt or shame is built on what other people think of you, and that shouldn't be a concern. If a person really likes the new New Kids On the Block singles, they should just enjoy the music. No shame or guilt at all.

September 19, 2008

Avast, Me Hearties!

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! By thunder, it's time to have some fun, or, shiver me timbers, I'll keelhaul the lot of you! Savvy?

To help you celebrate, here's some pirate vocabulary.
The above picture is my new t-shirt for today--and I encouraged all my students to wear their skull & crossbones apparel.

September 18, 2008

When this ol' election starts getting you down

Well, I have to admit, this election has people just about too much for me to bear. I am relatively new to presidential politics, but I don't know if I've ever seen so much hate in an election. Real, deep hatred for both sides--and as I'm not a hateful person, it sort've drives me wild.

So, it was with great excitement that I found some humor in the election today: some wonderful person has created the Sarah Palin baby name generator. You see, Sarah's kids are named Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig. Not your normal, everyday names. Wonder what your name might have been had your parents had Sarah's creative gift? Head over, and check out your name.

If you do go, please comment with your name--I want to see what other people get! Thanks much, Crutch Camp Palin

Edited to Add: more Palin humor! (If you like Monty Python, you should get this!

September 17, 2008

Cheating on Tests

Not the students, me. If you are a teacher, you know where I'm coming from here: tests are hard to write. (Have I written about this before? It's a bit sad that I can't remember. Hmm.) Let me clarify--multiple-choice tests are hard to write. Essay tests are easy. I bet you can guess which is easier to grade though. (It's the multiple-choice tests.)

So, I have a test coming up. We've just finished The Most Dangerous Game, a thrilling short story by Richard Connell, and we're finally ready to test. Just a short test--it was a short story--so I'm cheating. I'm not carefully writing my own perfect test. I'm heading down to the copy room to run off the book test.

Most teachers don't have any qualms about this, but I do. Sometimes the materials we get that go with our textbooks are loads of help, but about 89% of the time, they are rubbish. The exact sort of rubbish, I imagine, that the testing folks want our kids to write. I like to create my own materials, not just blindly copy what the good textbook folks want me to.

But this time, I'm copying. I've been so stressed and overwhelmed that all I want to do is run off a few copies and relax. I don't have the time amidst all my other duties to write a focused and challenging test. (You might be noting that I have found time to blog.) So, here I go, off to the copier. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Do you have any fond test memories? I miss blue books, and wish I could use that with my Honors kids. Do they still use blue books in college? Sigh. Probably not. It's probably all digital.

September 16, 2008

It's True!

I'm currently working on my three toughest projects--no pictures, yet--and treasuring any time I can find to knit! I'm working on my first sock--I'm just about turn the heel--and I've started my first lace projects, a hat and a scarf. It's good times, although, now I need a week off to work on my projects.

Drumroll Please

A new blog has joined my list of blogs I obsessively check--and this one's family!

That's right, Sista Cool has started her own blog!

September 15, 2008

A Moment of Silence

When I first moved to Greeley, there were no Starbucks places. There was a delightful bagel shop that served great coffee. Now, there are (pause while I add them up) at least eight Starbucks locations in Greeley, CO.

I can't lie, I've had a Starbucks on occasion. My favorite coffee place in town, though, was Dazbog, where I could enjoy a delicious sugar-free peanut butter latte. Mama Cool loved to get a cinnamon-coconut latte when she visited. I had a long-running Bible study that always met there. Dazbog closed this summer.

My knitting group has been meeting at Red Roasters, a locally owned coffee shop, that seemed to have a good crowd and a lot of buzz. I just heard from a fellow knitter that it closed down. Where do we meet now, we wonder? We've considered a lot of local places, but not a Starbucks.

Most mornings, my car pool stops for coffee at the Human Bean, a great, friendly drive-thru shop, with no place to stop in and gab while sipping an addictive Cafe Mocha.

So, today, I ask for a moment of Silence for all the Coolest coffee shops in Greeley, slowly consumed by a monster of, dare I say it, Moby Dick proportions.

September 12, 2008

Di & Sarah

The Bottom of the Ticket

I heard an interesting discussion this morning on NPR about the boost that John McCain is getting from adding Sarah Palin to the ticket. They discussed how people rarely vote based on the bottom of the ticket, but that Sarah Palin may be an exception. I've already written about the vice-presidential choice, and how little we know about vice-presidents, so that's undoubtedly true. People were voting for Ike, not Adlai Stevenson, and for FDR, not Harry Truman. I imagine there might be a change this year, with a few people voting for Sarah Palin, not John McCain, this time around.

To be honest, I've voted the bottom of the ticket twice in my limited presidential voting career--I was more excited about having a VP from Wyoming (Dick Cheney) than I was about George W. Bush. When you're the smallest state (population-wise), it's pretty cool to have the VP hail from your state. I imagine some Alaskans will understand where I 'm coming from at this point. Thinking about this led me to an interesting observation--Republicans, in the last few elections, have chosen VP candidates from states with very few electoral votes to offer, states that typically don't figure in D.C. political power polls.

So, I'm offering a few Alaska/Wyoming parallels this morning:
Population: WY 515,004 (#50)
AK 670,053 (#47)
Size: WY 97,809 square miles (#10)
AK 591,004 square miles (#1)
Electoral Votes: WY 3
AK 3
Citizens w/College Degrees: WY 22%
AK 25%
Registered Democrats: WY 59,000
AK 53,000 These are rough numbers, data difficult to find.
Top Google News Story: WY Fallen Wyoming serviceman honored in Iraq
AK Palin and Gibson re-enact 'High Noon' in Alaska

I could have added a lot more, but I think we begin to see a pattern--small states in population, large in size, with similar numbers across the board--and I have to admit, I think it's pretty cool that the Republicans will choose candidates from our "not nationally important" states.

September 11, 2008

A Clean Desk

A simple pleasure today--after four weeks, I finally managed to clean off my desk. Perhaps because, after four weeks, I finally had a planning period all to myself. Oh, sure, there's still stuff on my desk, but it's the stuff I want there, organized, neat, tidy.

Life is good. Has anything simple filled you with joy and accomplishment recently? I hope so.

September 09, 2008

Evil Amanda

You might not know this, but I am a die-hard Indianapolis Colts fan. "Wait!" you shout, "You live in Colorado! Aren't you supposed to root for the Broncos?"

"A-ha!" I reply, "I was born and raised in Wyoming, so aside from my beloved University of Wyoming Cowboys, I'm a free agent."

So, the Colts. I love 'em dearly, the whole organization, and a part of me would move to Indianapolis just to be around like-minded fans. I have the jersey of a Colts player who shares my last name that my dear brotha-in-law The Coach gave me. I grew so angry at the start of their Super Bowl that I had to go sit in another room to cool off. (Devin Hester ran back the opening kick-off for a TD, if you've forgotten.) I managed to come back and enjoy the victory, however.

Anyway, the Colties (as I call 'em), had a bit a bad start against those Bears yesterday, but I feel confident Peyton will get his groove back and we'll be stormin' through the AFC again.

And then, yesterday, the best news for a Colts fan--Tom Brady is out for the season. A gleeful Evil Amanda pumped her fist in joy at the computer screen. I'm predicting it now, especially based on the Chargers start, Colts Super Bowl XLIII champs!

September 08, 2008

A Yarn Metaphor

I spent nine hours this weekend untangling a skein of yarn. While trying to wind it into a nice ball, so I start a beautiful wavy scarf, my Estes Park Wool Market purchase of Plain & Fancy sport weight yarn in a Primary colorway tangled. Tangled badly. Tangled into so many hopeless knots that Mr. Cool told me to just toss it.

"We'll buy more yarn," he said. When I protested that this was special, he suggested I just wait until next year's Wool Market. I stared blankly. Plainly, he does not know the inherent stubbornness of the women in my family. So, nine hours of carefully picking out knots, threading the growing balls of yarn through loops, and wailing at the sheer mangled tangles, I have two nicely wound balls and a scarf started. Four of those hours involved me staying up past midnight on a Friday, picking trance like through the knots.

There's a metaphor in all this--perhaps that I won't settle for a tangled life, perhaps that I am simply too stubborn. I could make a metaphor about Jesus gently picking through the knots in our lives to leave us clean and smooth. Maybe I could focus on the irony of untangling yarn only to carefully tangle it back up through the process of knitting.

An ancient form of meditation involved labyrinths, and this yarn became to me a maze, a way of breaking down all worries and struggles into following a single thread through each loop and knot.

Hmm--this might be a bit too philosophical, but I had to get something more than balls of yarn out of my weekend.

September 06, 2008

Why I Can't Be Vice-President

And no, it's not just because I'm not old enough. I have only been out of the country once in my life. I've never been to Mexico or Canada--my passport has only one stamp, from England almost six years ago. I do know a few people who have travelled enough to possibly qualify--Hannah, Abby, Jen, and Sista Cool all have a quite a few stamps in the ol' passport.

Why do I bring this up? One of the attacks on Sarah Palin has been that she hasn't travelled enough, that she first got her passport and left the U.S. in 2007, to visit the Alaskan National Guard in Kuwait and Germany. So what? Not many of us have the resources and time to travel the world. Besides, she lived in Alaska, a place most people have pretty high on their travel lists. I think the media needs to wake up a bit--for Americans, travel has always been a bit of an elite proposition. We live in a big, fantastic country, but it's all one country. A person could visit all fifty states, an impressive feat, and apparently not have travelled enough. Perhaps this criticism stings because I haven't travelled nearly enough in my life. My chances aren't very high to travel around the world any more, unless Mr. Cool finally wins the lottery, and I would hate to think that if my latent political ambitions spring forth, I could be derided for not travelling enough.

Well, enough Election 2008 ranting for today. Check out this nice piece in Newsweek from a liberal woman who still likes Sarah Palin.

September 04, 2008

The Queen Bee

Well, I'm ready for fall! I have hats that need a-wearin'.

I've just finished my Queen Bee hat, and my sense of accomplishment is pretty big. I first saw this pattern a year ago, when I was still teaching myself to knit, and I wanted to make it. I tried even, with cheaper wool, but I had no idea what I was doing, and it has since been frogged. This time, I got it right.

Pattern: The Buzz Hat for Queen Bees from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation
Yarn: Goldenrod Lamb's Pride Worsted, from the Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell, NE
Buttons: lovely wooden bees from My Sister Knits in Ft. Collins
Modifications: I shortened it up a bit, so the top isn't quite as bee-hivey. It's a bit tricky to photograph, but if you ever see it in person, it looks like a beehive!

A close-up of the bee buttons--I saw the buttons at My Sister Knits and instantly thought of this hat. I then rushed around the store looking for the perfect golden honey yarn, and found this. It was wonderful to work with, and I am very happy with this hat. It's a nice, loose, cover the curls hat. Where's that first freeze?

September 03, 2008

Star Wars & Feminism

I have wanted to blog more, desperately full of things to write about feminism, Sarah Palin, elections, teaching--but I am left with nothing but a vague weariness when I leave school.

My school is desperately trying to improve, with new schedules, new teacher demands, new rules and regulations--and I am exhausted every day. I simply do not have the energy to do much more than come home and read or knit.

And I have been reading--Mama Cool also gifted me with Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet, one of her Crosswicks journals, full of L'Engle insight; for my knitting anniversary I purchased a historical tale of Knitting in America, and I've been learning just what and how they knit in the past. The incredibly tiny gauge and needles and L'Engle's wisdom and honesty are blowing my mind.

And I have been knitting--I've finished my Queen Bee hat, so it's just waiting for buttons; I'm knitting in circles on my plain socks, and I tried to wind up my Plain & Fancy yarn for a lovely scarf last night, but tangles ensued.

So, I'll leave you with a Star Wars feminist thought: as I watched A New Hope last night (Han Shot First!), I realized that to Obi-Wan and Yoda, Leia was more important. Think about it--she was much more protected, having been adopted, sent to a completely foreign to Darth planet, and having no name connection to him. Meanwhile, Luke's last name was Skywalker, and he was hanging around Tatooine with Darth's step-brother. Maybe this is interesting, or maybe when watching a movie for the billionth time you lose all sense of reality. (This also happens to me when I read Romeo and Juliet.)

So, can America handle a regular gal as VP? Can you be a conservative and a feminist at the same time? Have you ever read and loved a L'Engle book? Is Leia more important to the rebellion?