Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Morning Laughter

This was posted by a colleague on his Facebook page.

I don't know who thought up this idea but it makes me wonder if my own sense of humor comes from some of my Welsh ancestors.

Because I laughed until I started a wheezy coughing jag.

If you want to go to YouTube directly and view it, it's here.

- Catherine

Friday, February 25, 2011

If it's [insert your favorite day here], it must be snowing

It has been snowing in fits and starts since yesterday afternoon, which means the roads are very slick and  there's an inch or so of accumulation. Just enough to be incredibly annoying.

Will. This. Never. End?

Punxutawny Phil lied, folks!!!!!!!


It's Friday morning. I have summoned all of my creative powers this morning and will be treating you to..... my random thoughts.

I knew you'd be pleased.

Random 1) Email traffic at work slows down considerably on Friday afternoons. We must all be staring blankly at our computers, dreaming about the weekend to come. It's like a collective sigh of relief.

Random 2) The puppy is a 50 pound monster -- at only four months old. I am thinking of putting away the antiques until he is older and there is not so much romping around. I calculated our dog food bill the other day and it stands now at $80 per month for the two dogs (it used to be about $30 for just Hank). I'm told that Charley's mother eats 12 (TWELVE!) cups of dog food per day. Charley is up to seven cups. And the "little" pup is STILL growing.

Random 3) Charley has taken to sleeping as close to me as he can get -- which means he is under the bed at night. Tim refers to him as a Mama's Pup.

Random 4) Number 4 will be arriving from Canada in just over a week and will be here for most of the month of March. Wedding planning, crafting, card-making, cooking, racquetball -- all are on the agenda. Can't wait!

Random 5) Grandbaby #9 is due in just a couple of weeks!! Each baby is unique and it fascinates me to see the traits they develop as they grow.

Random 6) I am now the proud owner of a Droid X. I am in love with it.

I never thought I'd say that about a cell phone. 

Random 7) It never ceases to amaze me that the dogs can stand perfectly still together at the door for several minutes while waiting to be let in the house -- and then commence another round of wrestling, snarling and romping as soon as they tumble inside.

And now, to work.

- Catherine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. Did you know there is a National Day of pretty much everything in the universe? February 23 happens to be National Inconvenience Yourself Day...when was the last time you were inconvenienced?  In my case, taking care of our now enormous, 4-month-old puppy is pretty much a daily inconvenience of some kind or other.

2. When a room in your house needs painting who does the job?  My hubby. And he gets a wee bit antsy if we help -- he's a perfectionist about that stuff.

3. Are you friends with your cousins? Yes indeed! Thanks to Facebook, we found each other again after many years apart. It's wonderful to have them in my life!

4. Do you use an alarm clock? If yes-is it an actual alarm, music, or something else?  My cell phone is my alarm clock and it is set to a nice ethereal kind of sound for the morning alarm. Because otherwise I might throw it across the room.

5. What do you put ketchup on?  Occasionally I put it on fries, but that would be only be when there isn't any "fry sauce" available (fry sauce is a regional concoction of ketchup, mayo and horseradish). So it takes us a long time to go through ketchup in our house. 

6. What smells make you nostalgic?  The sweet, musky scent of very old houses in the East. I once worked as a docent for a historical site in NJ, and that peculiar aroma always takes me right back. Now that I live in the West, though, no such scent exists -- I have to get it through a blend of essential oils that I purchase locally (it's not intended to mimic the scent of an old house -- it just does).

7. Have you heard about the high school English teacher recently suspended as a result of some things she wrote in her personal blog? You can read the story here but in a nutshell she vented a lot of frustration onto her blog. She didn't mention individual students by name but she did make some harsh comments about kids in general and their parents.

What are your thoughts-If you're a parent is your child's teacher online and are you 'friend' or 'follower' there? If you're a teacher are you on facebook and do you accept or friend students on fb? How about their parents? If you're a student are you friends with your current or former teachers online? Do any of them have blogs you read? If you're a teacher or a parent do you ever use your blog as a place to vent your frustrations with our educational system? So much to discuss...
Teaching is an incredibly frustrating job these days. Teachers have always been viewed as "villains" by their students, but now they are viewed as real villains by the parents, the district administration and the school boards. They are in a precarious position with little to no support, yet are expected to bring about top results in every class. Kids ARE unruly in school. They do talk back, they are disrespectful and too many of them don't know how to work hard (nor do they want to). Too many have parents who live vicariously through them, believing their child can do no wrong -- these are the parents who will come after a teacher just on the say-so of their disgruntled child. I don't know how anyone stays in teaching as a long-term career anymore. 
All that said, I think the teacher in this case should have either refrained from making those comments or should have rewritten the post to tone down the inflammatory level. The online community is an extremely public place to be. She probably should have found another avenue by which to vent her frustration. 
8. Insert your own random thought here. [rant on] Randomly speaking, there are days when I think the entire world is going to hell in a handbasket. The unrest in the Middle East is disturbing. The media distortion of world and national news is disturbing. 
Just on the local level, our state is on the brink of enacting a package of so-called "education reforms" that will, in the end, gut public K-12 education and deliver it into the hands of privately owned, for-profit, on-line curriculum companies (many of whom contribute to the campaigns of our politicians).  In addition, one of our state universities had its Faculty Senate summarily dissolved by the university President, with the backing of the State Board of Education (all political cronies of the Governor).  Our state seems to believe that it will be able to survive with an ill-educated citizenry. Our state will one day be very surprised, no doubt, at the hole it finds itself in. What corporations will settle and stay here, providing well-paying jobs to the area, if they can't get a decently educated workforce?  How will these corporations attract their upper-echelon employees to a community with lousy schools? What college students will want to come to this state for their education if the universities are unstable? The short-sightedness of the state of Idaho is deeply disturbing. [/rant]

I hate to end on a downer note. So I think I'll go play racquetball with a couple of local teachers. We can all vent our frustrations on the little blue ball.

- Catherine

Monday, February 21, 2011

I love a day off ....

 ... don't you?

My plans for today include a little dog walking, a little card making, and very little else. And that, my friends, is a little slice of heaven on earth!

Yesterday was my Sabbath. So after an excellent sermon by our pastor and some awesome music by our band, I had a bang-up afternoon on the racquetball courts with some friends from church (a few of whom were new to racquetball and were quickly hooked on the game). 

I mean quite literally banged up, since I attempted a shot off the back wall and succeeded only in smashing the side of my face.

No stitches were required in this injury.

Then I bravely played one of the experienced guys.

He was kind.

That's the only reason I managed to score seven points off of him.

Best of all: 1) Both racquetball courts rang with laughter for the 90 minutes that we were there, and laughter is good medicine for the soul. 2) All of us were huffing and puffing at the end, which was good medicine for our bodies.

Can't wait to do it again!

- Catherine

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Follies

We farm folk really know how to have a good time, let me tell you: cops at the door, dogs barking up a storm, flashing red and blue lights piercing the darkness. The whole works.

And you thought we lived a quiet life.

In a deeply sleep-befuddled state -- and my striped pyjamas (a much better word with the British spelling) -- I answered the doorbell at 2:00 a.m. to find a fresh-faced young cop of about, oh, 12 years old. They get younger every year, along with the doctors. Have you noticed that?

Where was I?

Oh, yes, definitely more than half asleep. Once I actually realized there was someone at the door and I successfully got the door unlocked and open while yanking on Hank's collar to keep him back, I vaguely expected to hear that there was a water-main break or some other community problem.  Instead the infant cop says "I think your horses are out." He points to his right and says "I saw them go in that direction."

The Equine Gang of Six had staged a prison break.

My incredibly classy response was to bend slightly at the waist so that my face was closer to the cop's (he was short), open my eyes as wide as possible and spit out the words, "HOLY CRAP!!" He grinned and we exchanged a few more niceties of I-know-not-what.

Shutting the door I yelled to the now awakened Tim, "Horses Out!" at the top of my lungs.

"What?" he responded incredulously (and perhaps he earned just a wee bit of scorn from my panic-stricken mind at that point).

"Horses. Out!" I repeated with more emphasis, meanwhile running for my jeans and boots.

Both dogs were now barking their fool heads off and Charley, in his excitement, peed on one of the rugs. I knew Charley needed a potty break but I had to leave them both inside because I didn't know what we would find outside. The cop had pointed in the direction that makes my heart sink -- traffic and noise and lights lie in that direction. Extremely traumatized horses would lie in that direction.

Quickly we pulled out our vehicles -- me to light the corral with my headlights, Tim to drive down the road. I called my nephew, who owns half the horses on our property, and invited him to come and help us. Well, "invited" probably isn't the right word.

Before actually exiting the driveway, thankfully, Tim looked around more closely to see if he could determine the sight of the jail break and to see if there were any remaining horses.  At that point, we discovered that no horses had actually left the property. They did go off in "that" direction as the cop indicated, but only around the side of the property and into the back area where the stack of one-ton bales of hay beckons to all livestock. By the time we gathered our wits, we realized that The Gang of Four (a subset of The Gang of Six) were quietly munching on the hay bales while their two remaining corral-mates waited patiently on the correct side of the fence.

First task - mend the fence. At that point, nephew arrived and quickly pitched in. I asked him, "Are we having fun yet."  With heavy sarcasm he replied, "No one should be allowed to have this much fun. Ever."

So true.

The upshot is that we successfully shored up the fence with twine and a lodge pole and then herded The Gang of Four back into the corral. At 3:00 a.m. we re-entered our house to find that Charley's excitement caused an even worse -- and foul-smelling -- accident on the kitchen floor while we were out.  I couldn't punish him. My own insides had done some churning from the adrenaline rush too!

Lessons learned: 1) The horses know where the stack of one-ton bales are and they like them. A lot. Enough to stage a prison break if they find a weak part of the fence. 2) Baling twine is the duct tape of farm life and can sturdily shore up just about anything that has fallen down or been pushed over -- and be horse-proof at that!

As I write this, The Gang of Six is peacefully residing once again inside the corral, eating their own supply of hay.

And here I will leave a shout-out to the unknown passing motorist who saw three horses in our front yard and knew that something was wrong. Thank you for calling the cops on us at 2:00 a.m.! (I may never say that again.)

- Catherine

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. Your favorite chocolate treat?  "Death by Chocolate" is the customary name for an incredible flourless chocolate torte. Love all that deep, dark, gooey richness!!  Love the name too!

2. What more than anything else makes you feel loved? Surprise moments of recognition of someone's affection for me. More specifically, when it dawns on me, through something that is said or done, that I am loved by that person more than I realized. It's an incredible feeling!

3. Cherries or blueberries? Blueberries. Except for the purple tongue, which I hate. But fresh blueberries are a thing of beauty, both to look at and to taste. Especially when they adorn my cereal or yogurt.

4. What is the one trait you most want the leader of your country to possess? Integrity, hands down. Because integrity will lead a person to be honest and fair, and will lead him/her away from manipulation and politic-ing.

5. Are you a saver or a spender?  Sadly, I am more of a spender. I do try to be a saver -- I do actually save, and I'm doing better all the time, but I take after my father in that the overwhelming natural inclination is to spend.

6. If you gave a party for all of your friends would they already know each other?  No, because I have lived in New Jersey, Utah and Idaho, and I have friends in all three states. Also, I have made friends through my work -- and they are as far-flung as South Carolina, Florida, California, and everywhere in between.

7. Are you interested in antiques? Yes, but out here in the West they don't seem to be as high quality nor as historically interesting as they are in the antique marts and flea markets of the East Coast. I don't know if that's my own East Coast bias creeping through, or if the antiques out here aren't as, well, antique (nothing from the 1700s or early 1800s out here, folks!). Whatever the reason, I don't bother looking around much here. And I miss the lazy Saturday afternoons spent poking around a good old fashioned flea market.

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, I am in the process of perfecting my electronic signature technique. I purchased a Bamboo pen and touch pad, which hooks up to my computer and allows me to sign my name on a document as I am creating it, rather than after I print it out on paper. In theory, this will save me from having to print out every document and will be a big help when I'm on the road. Using the Bamboo pen and pad is easier said than done at first, however, although the quality of my signature is improving all the time.
- Catherine 
PS -- if you wish to play along, answer the questions on your own blog and use the graphic at the top to link up at Joyce's blog.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Raising Charley, Part II

Charley had his very first walk on harness today.

It's one of those contraptions that is supposed to cure a dog of tugging. This seemed good for us since Charley will be gargantuan in a few months time and good leash manners are invaluable. To that end, I purchased this harness some months ago when I knew we were going to have the kind of dog that could pull me flat to the ground with one good tug.

What I didn't do is double-check by peeking through the clear packaging to see the color of the actual harness that I was buying. I just looked at the cardboard signage tucked into the front and back of the clear package, which showed a red harness.

Red is a good color for both my dogs. So I grabbed it and headed home. 

That was in November.

This morning I opened it up.

It's pink.

A pink mesh harness with pink fleecy padding and a pink lead.

Sorry, Charley.

And Number 7 won't be best pleased because he won't want to train the dog with a pink harness. But it's too late to take it back now.

The good thing is that Charley won't care, especially after March 1st when he goes to the vet for his, um, transformation.

- Catherine

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's weekend agenda(s)

  • 1) work all day on Friday 
  • 2) and all day on Saturday
  • 3) eat yummy food Saturday night with project leadership and staff (I'm staff)
  • 4) work Sunday afternoon and Monday

Hubby and Number 7: 
  • 1) drive to city to meet up with Catherine on Friday night and stay in nice hotel
  • 2) play all day on Saturday, including at least one movie and other miscellaneous fun stuff in the city that have nothing to do with anyone's work
  • 3) eat yummy food Saturday night with Catherine and her group
  • 4) drive home after leisurely Sunday breakfast to resume normal life

Not a rose in sight.

What is WRONG with this scenario???

- Catherine

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. What is more important-doing what you love or loving what you do? Loving what you do, because that's a choice to love no matter what the circumstances.

2. Do you like bleu cheese?  Only with Buffalo Wings.

3. What is the most difficult emotion for you to handle?  Anger. I stop thinking clearly and ride my emotions instead, which just fans the flames even more.  Very discouraging. Thankfully, God isn't finished with me yet ...

4. Fresh flowers or a box of chocolate? Not both????  Knowing how much I love chocolate, you might expect me to prefer that. But I really LOVE to receive fresh flowers as a gift, so that would be my choice if I could have only one. (But I think it's mean that I get to choose only one.  Just sayin' ...)

5. What's a song you love that has the word 'love' in its title? It doesn't have to be a 'love song'.You know, I can't think of a single one right now.  Eeek!

6. Are you the person you wanted to be when you grew up? I could go on for days about this one, Joyce! Let's see. When I was young and thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I only considered the outward aspects -- career, car, husband, house, etc. In that sense, I'm not the person I wanted to be. I wanted to be a librarian and live in a nice apartment or house in a city. As it turns out, I'm happy that didn't come to pass because I love the life that God has blessed me with (with which God has blessed me, in case my grammarian cousin is reading this).  As for inwardly, I don't think that I ever gave a thought to what KIND of person I wanted to be when I grew up. I wasn't close to my parents and didn't really pay attention to the people they were.

7. Any special Valentines Day plans?  We will be in Salt Lake City for the weekend. I'm working. Tim and Number 7 will be playing. That's it.

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, one good game of racquetball is worth several hours of talk therapy.

- Catherine

PS -  If you wish to play along, you may answer the questions on your own blog and then link up over at Joyce's, using the graphic at the top of this post.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

About that National Anthem..

My cousin over at Bensrib had much the same thing to say as I did yesterday.

You can read her excellent post here.

- Catherine

Monday, February 7, 2011

Could someone sing, please?

The singing of the National Anthem.

Once again, there is much gnashing of teeth in the land.

I am gnashing my teeth too, but not because Christina flubbed a line (every vocalist occasionally flubs a line in performance, folks -- it's inevitable, and the girl has apologized already).

I'm gnashing my teeth over the fact that no one seems willing to sing our National Anthem in the style in which it was composed and meant to be sung.

We don't need a new style for singing this most patriotic of songs. Musically and vocally it stands perfectly on its own and no amount of busy vocal embellishment (trills, turns, runs) can ever make it any better than it already is. In fact, I submit that the current fad of over-the-top vocal embellishment detracts from the beauty of the music.

I long for the days of Rosemary Clooney, who knew how to sing a song in a way that brought out the best of the melody as well as showcased her incredible vocal prowess.

Today's singers, courtesy of the proclivities of the current music industry, just don't have a clue, musically.

And that's sad.

To today's performers I say this admittedly cranky statement: if you can't sing the melody of the National Anthem without feeling compelled to put your individual vocal styling all over it, then please don't sing the National Anthem at all.

- Catherine

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. Would you rather be seen as a person who did their duty or forged their own path? Probably Id’ rather be seen as someone who did her duty (because occasionally that might involve forging my own path, whereas the reverse isn't probable).

2. This week's Wednesday Hodgepodge happens to fall on Groundhog's Day. In keeping with that theme, if you could have a do-over of any one day out of the last seven, which day would it be and why. If you haven't seen the movie Groundhog Day this question will make absolutely no sense but that's can answer anyway.  Out of the last seven days I'd wish to do Sunday over because it was such a great and fun day! We had an amazing time of worship at church, listened to an excellent sermon, and then spent most of the afternoon playing racquetball and having a lot of laughs in doing so. After that, it was the Pro Bowl with my hubby. A terrific day!

You thought my question was going to be weather related didn't you?  Well. Yes.

3. Hot cocoa...yay or nay on the marshmallows?  Nay. Why muck up a perfectly good cup of hot cocoa with the cloying sweetness of marshmallow?

4. Do you wear makeup every day? What are the top two must haves in your daily makeup routine? I wear makeup most days but not every day.  The two must-haves are powdered eye liner and mascara.

5. Is it more important to you in a relationship to be loved or understood?  To be loved, because sometimes I don't think I can be understood (heck, sometimes I don't even understand myself these days). But love covers a multitude of sins, understood or not.

6. Parsley sage rosemary or thyme... your favorite?  Rosemary, just for the scent. It's clean and pure and calming, and I gladly drink it in whenever I have occasion to use it (which is often because I love it).

7. What do you do when you feel angry? My first reaction is sarcasm, but I now try very hard to shut my mouth. Sarcasm used in humor is funny. Sarcasm used in anger is extremely damaging. It took me a long time to realize that, and now I try very hard to either leave the room, work it out on the racquetball court, or (on admittedly rare occasions) be objective and reasonable in my response.

8. Insert your own random thought here.  How many of you have a tennis ball suspended on a string in your garage? This is new to me, but it does help keep my car away from Tim's work bench!

If you wish to play along, answer the questions on your own blog and then link up at Joyce's (use the graphic above to get to her blog).
Thanks, Joyce!

- Catherine