Tuesday, March 27, 2012


March 27, 2012

As in, I wish this post had a coherent theme.  Alas, it doesn't.  But here are some random things:

Davis came home last week.  It was a coincidence.  He was accepted to attend a math conference hosted at A&M.  After I heard the theme (Groups, Geometry, and Random Structures) I even considered going to some of the sessions with him.  Of course, that was when I thought I knew what those five words meant.  When I looked at the session titles, I realized my confidence about understanding any of it drained away rapidly after I got past the articles, conjunctions and prepositions.

You can test yourself.   Here's a link to the program:

In the wake of Davis's departure, I did what came naturally.  I washed his sheets and towels, remade the bed, and volunteered to keep a teenage boy at my house for a week while his mother went to mandated training over in Austin.  I think I must have gotten used to seeing a light on in Davis's room at random times in the day and night.  I had completely forgotten the rat's nest of traffic trying to move west to east across town at 8:00 when I took Connor to school yesterday.  This morning we took a different, secret route.

I read on facebook a little while ago about a trend in smart phone storage that occasionally results in women texting photos of their boobs to their friends on speed dial.  Given the size of smart phones that don't always fit in a pocket, some women keep them in their bras so they will always have them close at hand.

I only have two thoughts about that:
  • What if there is only room for a nano iPod in there?
  • If my phone were in my bra, where would I keep my chocolate and how would I keep it warm?
I had a great time at the Greens Prairie Elementary Rodeo and Craft Fair on Saturday and the folks down there loved and supported Erin's Dream Lanyards.  I wondered if their PTO screens their officers and volunteers.  They were all very nice and very organized.  And all of them I saw could make the final call for casting for the Hot PTO Mom's of College Station.  I felt relieved that I no longer had elementary kids, because I know I would not have made the cut.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


March 15, 2012

While some people stab Julius Ceasar twenty-three on the Ides of March, I spent my day doing other things--which you don't have to hear about in their dull entirety.  I will say that part of the day, like part of the week has involved figuring out what to do with all the stuff that we moved into Davis's room back in January when we emptied the attic.  After only 27 and a half years, Walter and I finally built the cedar closets we have been thinking about our entire married life.

But, because the semester was hot to go by the time the contractor finished, we have been somewhat slow (might I say snail-like?) in putting the good stuff back in the attic and disposing of that which deserved disposal.  Today, we broke down a clothes carton that we first used when we moved to Nashville in 1990. And I felt a wee bit funny that I had a cardboard box that was almost as old as my son.

That was until I looked at a empty box I had carried to the back porch last weekend.  It came into my possession when my mom closed down the travel agency she ran.  It is thirty years old.

Of course, neither of those compare to the box that holds the outdoor Christmas light.  I'm not sure if it or I qualified for AARP membership first.

Then I reassured myself:  everyone has old cardboard boxes that they stow for years, even decades.  They probably are just the right size, were sturdy to begin with, and only get used once a year, or maybe even less often than that.  That reasoning comforted.  Well, it comforted me up until the moment that I realized my twenty-two-year-old box and my thirty-year-old-box were empties that I had saved "just in case" I needed a box.  Who in their right mind stores ancient cardboard boxes "just in case?"

Not me.  Anymore.  They have resumed their original flat shape and have gone to live at the recyclery.  What was I thinking?

Friday, March 9, 2012


March 9, 2012
I guess I need to take care not to do anything too wacky, since I am apparently an awesome trend setter. Here is proof from Politico:  
While in St. Petersburg, Fla., for a fundraiser Wednesday night, Vice President Joe Biden got a compliment on his red necktie.

Rather than just thanking the donor and moving on, Biden admired the man's purple tie, a pool report said. Then, in a moment of Biden being Biden, he suggested that they swap ties. And, in the midst of a photo line where donors paid $1,000 apiece to pose with the vice president, the two men did just that.
Of course, the Vice President takes his cues from me, because not only did I come home from Houston with a new watch, I didn't even make it all the way through last weekend before someone swapped with me again.  Here is my new Timex flex band.  The swatch has moved on.  I kind of feel like I belong to the sisterhood of the traveling watch.

Some of you had some good questions about the original swap.  
Jan wrote:  
Vickie -- your life certainly is not dull! But in all fairness -- if the new watch keeps time, then (assuming YOURS did, which seems likely) the Venn diagrams should have overlapped -- just as teensy teensy bit. I have a lot of really serious questions for God when I get to heaven (and many of them have to do with neuroblastoma and kids) -- but I will be curious to know the answer to this one too (who knows, perhaps you just passed the Matthew 5:41-42 challenge!)

Jan, you are right, of course.  My Venn diagram was inaccurate.  The swatch did appear to keep time, although because of the unusual face and lack of digits, I didn't ever really know what time it was (and I would write a song about it, if Chicago hand't already beat me to it).  As for Matthew 5:41-42, I suspect you weren't supposed to get a vintage item in exchange for your effort.

Brooke wrote:

That's great Vickie! I love stories like that! The swatch is SO much more playful, and over there in business, y'all need to play more. Seriously, y'all have nothing on the educators. So, for whatever reason, I'm glad. It should entertain your students too!

I'm not sure I'd claim to need to play more, and I'm positive that Walter wouldn't agree.  His favorite family legacy quote is "Work makes life sweet" or as he will say in German "Arbeit macht das Leben sub."

In fact, I relatively sure I am pretty Libra-like on balancing work and play, BUT, you are exactly right about entertaining my students.  I have a student who collects watches that has promised to keep the watches traveling by doing an exchange the week after spring break.  At this point, I can't really tell if I am trading up and will eventually find myself with a diamond crusted Rolex, or down, where I will end up with a watch from a cereal box.

Anonymous wrote:

Okay, Vickie, you're going to HAVE to give us a little more info. Pleeeeeeze don't leave us hanging like this. Zactly how did this little exchange happen?

Similarly, Erin F. wrote:

I, too, need more details about this event. It's just too odd. Where were you? Did the owner of your watch say anything to you as she made this switch? Did she know that 29 February is not the same as 1 April? Is this a person you are likely to see again? Do you think "her" watch is truly her watch or does it belong to whoever she had dinner with on 28 February? Also, you are one of the most well-spoken, diplomatic people I know. I wonder what prevented you from negotiating your watch back. Enquiring minds want to know!

As I said in my original post, I'm not really sure what happened.  I have known the woman slightly for almost thirty years, but have never spent much time together.  I do not know her well.  She worked in the corporate headquarters of a downtown Houston bank and has since retired.  She seemed either to have a quirky personality (consistent with playing a subtle practical joke) OR she seemed to have started that mental slide down that we all would like to avoid.

In either case, as we sat there at dinner, my friend to my left was engaged in a conversation with the person on his left, leaving me to chat with the woman on my right.  As the conversation lagged, I noticed her watch (which she wore on her right arm), and since a plastic banded, vintage swatch seemed a little incongruous and perhaps would lead to an interesting story (little did I know?), I admired it, hoping it would launch us into a new conversational direction.

She took it off and began explaining the background of the designer (maybe Renzo Piano, inspired by Italian architect and designer Alessandro Mendini).  BINGO, I thought.  I struck pay dirt, and I could listen and enjoy my St. Arnold's without having to strain to make conversation.  Except then she started insisting that I should keep it.  

"No, of course, I can't keep your watch," I insisted.  But she wanted me to see how it would look on my arm, so before I could figure out what to do next (remember, I'm thinking this is just a joke or she's around the bend), she had my watch off my arm, and hers in its place.  Then, mine is on her arm.  Then, the food arrives and the conversation spreads tablewide rather that in tete-a-tetes, and there didn't seem to be any comfortable way to make the switch back happen.  If it was a joke, she would swap back in her own good time, after revealing my naivety.  If she was a little batty, then I sure didn't want to call attention to it over a congenial meal.

And so, that really is all I know, except that Davis thought this was a brilliant and funny story and encouraged me to offer whatever watch I wearing to anyone who admired it, to keep the trend going.  So, at church on Sunday, I was telling the story of how I came to wear a watch that didn't particularly suit me, and the person I was talking to, peeled her watch off her arm.  She waggled it at me and then said, I really like your watch.   So, for now I have a Timex.

The next time I write, I promise it will be about something else.  I feel a blog coming on about writing education.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Switch? Swatch?

March 1, 2012

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition.  Our chief weapon is surprise (and a whole list of other things, including nice, red uniforms). . . 

Well, imagine my surprise when, right before my very eyes, the woman sitting next to me at dinner last night took my watch and gave me hers.  I haven't felt so startled at an exchange since I lost my best shooting marble to Jeff Dean playing keepsies in the College Hills school yard at recess in 1970.  I didn't have much recourse to get my best bully taw back, since it was verboten to play for keeps at school (perhaps too close to the gambling sin for my small Texas town).  

That also appears to be the case with my now gone watch, which looks just like this one except it has VB above the 12 instead of "LHP."  I have also worn out and replaced the band, so mine the one that used to be mine is a little browner and not quite as shiny:

This is my "new" watch, a 1999 Jelly Piano Swatch:

Here is the Venn Diagram containing all the features of both watches (band style, materials, face shape, numerals on face):

Notice how much the two figures overlap?

I wasn't drunk.
I wasn't flaunting my stylin' Orvis watch.
I didn't lose (or win) a bet.

Frankly, I'm not sure what happened, but before I knew it, this older woman had my watch on her right wrist and I had hers on my left, and apparently it was for keepsies.   I kept expecting we would re-exchange, but we didn't.  

The only thing harder to picture than my face trying to make sense of this was Walter's face at breakfast this morning when I told him that someone else now owned the watch he had given me.