Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Strange (Not Odd) Lanyard Workshop

February 24, 2010

I just got a message from our friend and supporter, Robby Bennett, who says he needs lanyards for his sold out Magic Show Where's the Rabbit? at the Bayou Theatre on Saturday, March 6. He will have a display in the lobby of the theatre before and between shows. That means we need to gather at my house this Friday (even though it is an Even and not an Odd day, which makes it Strange). Let me know with a comment or an email if you can be there.

Let's get together and do some beautiful and magical work!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


February 23, 2010

This is the view from Erin's window. We hung that red bird feeder in July 2002, after Erin's first round of chemo: cisplatin and cyclophosphomide. She didn't feel like doing much in the aftermath of the pounding she took from that round, so we bought her the feeder and hung it so she could see it from her bed. Our friends Lisa and Lois kept us in birdseed. More than two dozen cardinals found it this afternoon during the very unexpected snow fall that hit south central Texas.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


February 18, 2010

First, a reminder. No Odd Friday Lanyarding at my house tomorrow. I am hosting the first annual Iron Chef competition for the soccer team tomorrow night, plus we have the big NCL Bead-a-Thon in The Woodlands on Saturday.

Spoiler alert: if you tuned in for humor, dog stories, or stapler quizzes, you will be disappointed. If you are willing to consider points of view that you may or may not agree with, you will not be disappointed.

Davis once pointed out the beauty of information graphics, visual aids to make information more accessible and understandable. Here is one, released yesterday, that struck home with me:

Walter encouraged me to show you this so that you would understand why we support Chet Edwards' vote on the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and his re-election to Congress. The video that follows shows Chet with the owner of Frazier and Frazier Industries, Inc., in Limestone County (up the road from here), the only company in Texas to get a stimulus loan. Without the loan the company would have closed its doors, leaving 300 people out of work. Coolidge, Texas, home to this company, has a total population of fewer than 900 people.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


February 17, 2010

I have wanted to write about an experience I have had a couple of times lately. I have attended some political candidate forums in small communities in the area. At each, candidates that range the gamut from county constable wannabes to heavy-hitting Congressional hopefuls crowd into community buildings to eat hot dogs, bid in cake auctions, hear about local history, AND speak briefly and answer question about why voters should consider them the perfect candidate for the office they are running for.

I have met a wide variety of knowledgeable and civic-minded people at these forums (fora?) who really want to figure out what candidates stand for (how else can a voter discern between the ten--this is not a number picked for exaggeration purposes. . .there really are ten actual people--folks running for Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace). On the other hand, not everyone I have met or observed has an equal grasp of the issues (or, perhaps more telling, an equal grasp of reality).

Herein lies my dilemma. On the one hand, some of the things I have heard, both from candidates and from audience members, are ripe for skewering on this page. I can easily imagine poking fun at some of the convoluted logic and less-than-informed opinions. On the other hand, I have attended these meeting as a representative of my friend and Congressman and do not want anyone to confuse my arch and snarky point-of-view with his generous and fair one.

But I have had an idea. What if I could invent a sarcasm font? I can think of at least two versions--one would be known worldwide and could be used just like those omnipresent emoticons to clue readers into impending sarcasm (my friend Lisa suggested that the well-known sarcasm font could have little curlicues dangling from each letter to indicate that each was dripping with disdain). The other would be useful in my current situation. I could write something using my secret sarcasm font, and my friends and those in the know could see the font, recognize my sarcastic intentions, and laugh accordingly, while the general reader could just interpret my words as meant sincerely. Imagine the possibilities.

Friday, February 12, 2010


February 12, 2010

So on the stapler question, here's how things unfolded:

As soon as I made the bet, we began to poll the class. Two students pulled out staplers almost immediately, and I thought to myself, "Cake."

Then, the stapler search stalled.

As students dribbled in, the class got into the search, but one by one the late-comers became stapler deniers. Finally, one student said, "We should just stop asking, we know that E___ will have a stapler. Her class before this is on main campus, but when she gets here, that will clinch it." Everyone agreed. E___ would have a stapler, and I would win the bet.

Except, I had insider information. I knew, from an earlier email exchange, that E____ was in Pennsylvania and wouldn't be bringing her stapler to class that day.

I lost. I was robbed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Staple and Wager

February 10, 2010

How about a complete nonsense post?

My honors students (whom I adore) had a homework assignment due yesterday. As I walked in, one of them was poking around my podium, looking for a stapler so she could have her homework squared away before I called for it. To my surprise, EUREKA, she found one, but then ALAS AND DESPAIR, it jammed and wouldn't join her pages together.

I said, "Don't worry, someone in the class will have a stapler in their backpack," thinking to myself that it wouldn't have been me as a student. I would have considered it a triumph to arrive, on time, with the assignment--maybe with a staple, maybe not--but I would have never carried a stapler with me for stapling emergencies.

I went on to qualify my statement, telling the staple-less student that I was so sure of what I had said that I would wager with her that not one but three out of the 22 students enrolled in the class would have staplers with them that day. Before I tell you who won the bet, what do you think?

Would fifteen percent of an honors class (remember, though, that they are also graduating) be so prepared that they would carry a simple machine to join paper around with them in their backpacks or briefcases?

Monday, February 8, 2010

(Don't) Worry

February 8, 2010

I received a lot of comments, emails, and personal hugs about my last post.  However, I don't want to worry any of you about the possibility of me falling into a dark abyss.  I posted "Miss" mainly because that's just a glimpse of the way it is in the world where Walter, my mom, and I live.  We live like most of our friends, caught up in the moments of to do lists, getting dinner on the table, writing the next memo, and grading that stack of essays or attending one more meeting.  We never know when we will have an Erin Moment, and that's okay too, because that is our reality.  We experience it: somtimes appreciating it; sometimes having a hole seared where we keep our heart; and sometimes having to deal with that too-large-to-swallow lump that forms in our throats.  We hit the pause button until we can re-group, then we pick up where we left off.  Use the verb understand or sympathize.  But not worry.

Here are the girls who are my number one soccer players (DTAg 97) this year (photo credit to Terri G. who had really bad conditions to work with and still managed to get everyone looking good!)!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


February 3, 2010

I have coached Sharks,


Red Hot Chili Peppers,


and now the DTAgs (some of whom have now passed me in height), and Erin was on the field with all the iterations except the last. Some of you wonder why I still go out to the pitch with the girls, since Erin can no longer join in.

It usually isn't too hard. I love soccer. I love the players. It keeps me young and fit(ter) to stay involved. I miss Erin terribly, of course. I estimate that I actively think about her about 50% of my waking hours that I'm not actively involved in something else. I carry her around with me, and at soccer practice and games, I'm not usually bothered that transcendent Erin has taken the place of running, tackling, and striking Erin.

Last night, however, was an exception. Our soccer team is doing some non-soccer team building and since the fields were unplayable, we took the opportunity to do a little preparation for our upcoming Iron Chef competition. It struck me how Erin would have absolutely adored the idea of competitive cooking: design the menu, find the recipes, shop for the ingredients, whip up the meal, and serve it (all with your friends), so that you could WIN a competition.

I followed the girls on my team around Kroger. They checked prices and weighed the merits of buying a bag of lemons versus a specific number of lemons. I answered questions like

"Why can't we just buy one celery stalk if that's all we need?"
"What's a dressed snapper and why can't we just buy a naked one?" and
"These spices are expensive. Do we really need them to cook?"

The whole experience almost took my breath away. I could feel my nostrils start to burn like I had tweezed out some nose hairs (a sure sign I'm thinking strong thoughts about Erin). I wished yearned for her hand to grab mine and pull me along down the spice aisle. I let my mind wander to the what ifs of an avoided cancer diagnosis. Eventually, I recomposed myself and tried to remember what cream of coconut was and where the Kroger stocker would have hidden it.

Monday, February 1, 2010


February 1, 2010

If you read the post title and thought you could tune into either a history lesson on 50th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in or hear me recount my own personal history of demonstrating, sorry to disappoint.

At the beginning of last month, I gave you a hint about how you could use a joint chocolate experience to show the one you love that they mattered to you. The point was to deliberately set time aside each day to share something good (as if there actually needed to be a stated reason to indulge in chocolate after dinner every night).

Today, I want to remind you of another activity you might pursue. Recall that I am a member of a mother-daughter book club. In fact, if you want to you can recall that I am 50% of the membership of my mother-daughter reading club. Over the last several years my mom and I have read the following books:

Gulliver's Travels--Jonathan Swift
Walden--Henry David Thoreau
The Grapes of Wrath--John Steinbeck
My Antonio--Willa Cather
I, Claudius--Robert Graves
Middlemarch--George Eliot
Mrs. Dalloway--Virginia Woolf
Heart of Darkness--Joseph Conrad
The Scarlet Letter--Nathaniel Hawthorne
Brave New World--Aldous Huxley
Fahrenheit 451--Ray Bradbury
Pride and Prejudice--Jane Austen
Don Quixote--Miguel de Cervantes
Anna Karenina--Leo Tolstoy
1984--George Orwell
A Passage to India--E.M. Forster

And we made a stab at but didn't finish Ovid's Metamorphosis, The Koran, and Proust's gargantuan three-volume set Remembrance of Things Past. We are currently about a third of the way through The Arabian Nights.

Here's the punch line.

Demonstrate you care about someone by deliberately setting aside time to do something shared. It doesn't have to be your mother or your daughter. Focus on your spouse, your dad, your son, your friend, you cousin. Form a neice-aunt book club or a next door neighbor book club.

And really, it doesn't have to be books. Have a film club or chose operas to listen to (Italian, German, or Rock) or cook or camp together. My mom and her friend Phyllis took turns working on piano pieces to play for each other, thus checking the boxes by "self improvement" and "time with friends" and "expand your horizons." As busy as they are, Davis and Evi have their own book club. They have been reading For Whom the Bell Tolls for a pretty long while. Speed isn't what's important in this activity. The main thing is to spend some time talking about what you want to do together, to take turns choosing, and to find a time to process the experience.

And here's what you can do with me: share your ideas about your own very small club. Let me know what you do with someone who is important to you. I'm really interested.