Wednesday, May 25, 2011


May 25, 2011

A few years ago to celebrate the end of school, Erin, my mom, and I went with the Tjoelkers down the road to the Little Brazos River to wade around, look for fossils, and hang out.  

We picked some seed pods off a wild hibiscus we found and planted them in the flower bed outside Erin's bedroom.  When I came around from the dog walk this morning, I noticed the plant that came up had started to bloom.

It is not as bold as my day lilies or as edible as the pears that are in process in the next flower bed over.  

In fact, it is reasonably spindly and windblown in comparison.  But I'm glad it it there for me to gaze on.  I have almost reached the point in my grieving that I can appreciated reminders of our good times together without it taking my breath away and making my nostrils burn.  As I said, almost.

Speaking of walking the dogs, I have noted some strong similarities between my three dogs and the students I encounter in the business school.

Uma is the dog equivalent of a doctoral student.  She has a very deep, but narrow working vocabulary.  For example, she knows at least twenty different words for food.  And when I say know, believe me, she knows.  Here's a partial list:

green beans
"it's time"

Willie, on the other hand, is the complete undergraduate.  He has nine total words that he understands only vaguely.  He might be able to guess the meaning on a multiple choice exam if there were enough other clues and the alternative choices weren't too fine-grained:

"letsgo"--we are headed outside and I don't have to be on a leash, at least not immediately, and I think I'm supposed to catch up if I'm lagging behind.

"thisway"--oops, I'm interested in something over here, but someone who has a dull sense of smell would like me to go in the exact opposite way.  I will come when I'm ready. 

"wait"--I'm supposed to slow down enough that it looks like she could catch up if she tried but actually I can bolt and get away if I need to.

"uppie-uppie"--someone wants me to sit on their lap and give me mega pets.  This might or might not include an invitation to jump up on people when I first meet and greet them.  I'm not sure.

"youdaman"--I have done something great fantastic stupendous, but I'm not sure what it was and am absolutely certain I won't be able to do it again, except by accident.

"wheresyourropetoy?"/"getyourropetoy"--she wants me to do something and if I can figure out what she wants me to do she will play with me.

"whowantsatreatie?"--if she says this as she walks to that box in the kitchen I get a pitifully small milkbone snack.  Can't she see that she has bought the ones for medium-sized dogs and I am venti?

"biteface"--she wants a sloppy kiss.

"bunny"--there is a fierce intruder threatening my kingdom.  I should run from room to room (if I am inside) or dash around as quickly and randomly as possible (if I am outside) to protect my people from this menace.

"No" would have taken him to double digits, but it has proven problematic.

"noooo"--not sure, but I think it means keep doing what you are doing, only try harder.

Notice the complete absence of "come," "stay," "sit," or "heel." 

Teddy is definitely an MBA, about to graduate.  She has only one word, 


But that's all she needs.  Capisce?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


May 19, 2011

The one thing about the possible rapture on Saturday (not that I'm going anywhere or anything), but there could be a radically lower number of kiddos attending summer camp at Mo Ranch and Flaming Arrow, and my mission to count out 1800 bags of beads (one for each proposed lanyard) might magically melt away.

Two-thirds of a million beads.

I no longer count sheep at night.  In fact, by bedtime I'm really tired enough to drop off without counting anything.

What else can I tell you?  The semester ended successfully for all but a couple of my students (and it really wasn't a disaster for any of them).  The garage sale was a success (around $1100), but if you missed it and still have items you want to donate, 1st Presbyterian is having a garage sale on June 18, so you still have a great outlet for your stuff.  

Walter's tenure as department head of history is finally coming to a close.  He has another book in the works that he has noodged along in his less-than-copious spare time.  Starting June 1 he can dive in.  I'm going to force him into a brief vacation to San Diego and southern Cali right after he goes off the clock, but then he can muck around in archives and libraries as much as he likes.

Davis is deep into his third quarter at The OSU, and it is finally not winter.  But unfortunately, winter morphed right into monsoon season.  He may never get to take his bike, the beautiful Ruby, out for a spin ever again.   His classes (both the ones he takes and the ones he teaches) seem to be fine and dandy, not that I understand much of what he does for a living.

Willie and Teddy and Uma are going to be the subject of my next post, so I won't say much about them here.  I understand that some people say that having obedient dogs is overrated.  I would like to be in a position to judge whether that's true or not. . . maybe in another life time.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


May 12, 2011

So I have balanced my MacBook on my Rubbermaid kitchen step stool and put them both on the kitchen counter so that I can avoid dying.  According to this New York Times article Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? (which you can read for free here even if you have already burned through your free access to the Times this month already and can't get past the paywall) suggests that you don't just have to be a couch potato lying on the sofa watching re-runs of CSI and Law and Order to be doing yourself in.  According to inactivity researchers, including a study by epidemiologist Alpa Patel, "The death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40 percent higher." 

Not going to catch me just sitting around anymore.  Here's the lowdown in infographic format (and, no, I'm not in the habit of perusing Medical Billing and Coding dot org regularly.  It was just something that came across my feed.):

Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Did you make it past the scary part?

Here's the rest of my post.  I'm not sure who put the master calendar together for my universe over the last week, but I sort of wish they would have checked in with me first.  Really!

May 4--Erin Buenger Scholarship presentation
May 5--Top 10% Banquet at Jane Long Middle School for all of Erin's friends and peers
May 6--Final Projects for my grad students (10-12 pages each) due
May 6-7--Relay for Life
May 7--Erin Buenger/JLMS Garage Sale
May 8--Mother's Day
May 10--Final Exam (all essay) for my undergraduates
May 12--Grades due for graduates

These are just the psycho/emotional milestones and don't actually include work or non-work commitments like meetings and conference calls aplenty.

I also needed to order 650,000 seed beads, 1850 lobster claw lanyard clasps, and over a mile of wire to supply Mo Ranch and Camp Flaming Arrow (I'm still working on the accent beads and am open to your ideas and suggestions and help)!  

My response:  Well, I took a pass on a couple of things (sorry to all our friends who were looking for us at Relay!) and slogged through the rest of them.

Given the dire consequences of just sitting around, I had no idea I was saving my own life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Allow me to present Phylicia Taylor, the 2011 Erin Buenger Scholarship recipient!  She is interested in biomedical science, music, and neuroscience and aspires to be a surgeon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


May 3, 2011

Announcements on top.  Fun below.

  • If you live within a fifteen mile radius of my house and want to donate items to the Erin Buenger Memorial Scholarship Fund garage sale Taking place this Saturday (May 7) from 8-2 in the gym at Jane Long Middle School, please give me a message, text, email,  phone call, or smoke signal, and I will swing by your place and pick up your stuff.  
  • If you'd rather shop than donate, that's fine too.  I have seen a few of the donated items:  
    • almost new toddler bed and mattress 
    • multiple children's bicycles in good condition 
    • foosball table
    • table lamps
    • working toaster oven
    • much, much more
  • Both Mo Ranch Summer Camp and Flaming Arrow YMCA Camp in Hunt, Texas have adopted Erin's Dream Lanyards as their summer service project, thus sending me into a spinning frenzy trying to figure out how to supply 1500 kids with enough beads and wire to make beautiful things happen.  Ideas, anyone?
  • Erin's Dream Lanyards is also one of the featured service projects at the Presbyterian Woman's Conferences at Mo Ranch.  
  • The Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network (which I have a tiny part in helping to organize) will hold its Learn and Launch Meeting on Sunday May 15 at 5:00.  Save the date and I will provide more details later.  Here's the gist of the new organization:  As the immigrant population in Brazos County grows, there is an increasing need to promote the human dignity and the well-being of immigrants in our community and to advocate for and facilitate better access to legal, educational, and social services. BIIN will provide three main services not currently available in the Brazos Valley area:
    • Information and referral services for immigrants, regardless of legal status;
    • Speakers Bureau; and 
    • At a later date, training opportunities for local people to become accredited Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) representatives.
  • Relay for Life will start at 7:00 on Friday night at Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater. Many teams walking a raising money in Erin's memory and the memory and honor of many others. Walk some laps for someone you love.
Now for the fun:

Q: What is this hummingbird doing in my coffee cup?
A: The backstroke?

The real the answer is: Preparing to challenge Gemma Spofforth for her world record in the 100M backstroke, because I can't imagine what/who could swim faster than a hummingbird stoked by my mother's chickory-laced, fully caffeinated, loaded with sugar, Cafe du Monde French roast. Somehow, she had left a cup half-filled with "her" day starter on her second story deck. When she returned an hour later, she found the hummer drenched in go juice, still stuck in the cup. She showed up at my door with the soggy bird wrapped loosely in a towel, afraid that if she let it go it might die of C8H10N4O2 (caffeine) poisoning. I found the water spray bottle I keep in my trombone case, spritzed the little guy all over ( I don't think you really notice wet birds when it's raining, but they are pretty sad looking up close), and in a moment it flew away, willy nilly, and ever so quickly. With its chances of aquatic glory dashed, it was no doubt looking to set a new air speed record (with the added bonus of putting some distance between itself and those ladies riding the crazy train).

Finally (but still fun), I let it slip by without telling you that I had a special occasion last weekend. The Bryan/College Station Pre-Natal Clinic picked me as one of the honorees for this year's “You’re the Tops!” Luncheon, proving yet again that it is quite possible to pull the wool over people's eyes.

As lovely as it was to be chosen, it was ill timed.  Who could have known that all the horse-drawn carriages would be outsourced to London for the weekend, forcing me to drive myself in the fiery Prius? I also had a hard time finding a decent crown, tiara, or if can believe it, hat.  All sold out by the time I looked.  Something about someone's nuptials or something.  I had to settle for a new outfit and the five most handsome escorts in the room!

Starting from the upper left and moving clockwise:  Nico, me, Jesse, Jason, Ian, and Adam.