Friday, December 19, 2014

I think I can . . .

When I was driving home after dropping Emma off at school this morning, I was thinking how, if it were not winter break, I'd have to head to campus and lecture. And the mere thought of having to expend that much energy made me SO grateful that it's winter break. 

Over the last week, I've honestly had to rest up after walking across a room.  After making some really simple meringue cookies, I realized I was out of breath --it was crazy. It's been three weeks!  Now I can do a bit more before needing to sit down. But boy I'm glad I don't have to get up in front of a class and try to keep their attention!

Our holiday prep is very slow this year. Each Saturday, the crew comes to work on our doors and windows in the living room. We're at the point now where we think they might be done this Saturday --the only thing that's left to do is the inside framing (three doors and five windows), as you can see in the photo below. But because they need access to the windows and doors, things have to be moved around, so the living room is a bit cluttered and messy. (Haha. As if it's not usually, you know.)
IF they finish this Saturday, we're going to try to find a tree to cut down on Sunday. We've been going to the same tree farm for 15 years. It's just a couple of guys, with a roaring fire, an outhouse, and a hand winch to put netting around the tree. But they're not always open this close to Christmas.

We did get lights on a little tree outside our back door, and some lights on the porch, plus a wreath on the fence down by the mailbox. We're adding cheer to the neighborhood :-)

I have finished all my Christmas shopping, and even finished up a necklace and matching earrings to include in my sister's gift (yesterday). I have managed to order or ship gifts to my extended family (today), but the meringue cookies (Rob's favorite) are the only treats I've made. Which is fine --as Rob and I keep reminding each other, we get done what we get done, and enjoy the process. This is, of course, easier with an older kid, who's happiest laughing with her friends, and doesn't require the same kind of Christmas prep she did when she was younger.

So basically, I feel we're winning the race, even though we're running really slowly.

Friday, December 12, 2014

So . . .

Still sick. I haven't had a virus kick me down this way in a few years. I sure haven't had a fever that put me in bed under a pile of blankets in a long while! Especially over the last two or three years, when Emma and Rob got sick and I didn't, I figured that my body just couldn't afford to be sick as well as hurting all the time. More likely I just went out so rarely that I came into contact with fewer germs :-)

I feel like someone is stepping on my chest. When I breathe in, there are all these little crackly whiny sounds. It's really hard to go to sleep when you're hearing your insides like that. I love my doctor, but she's a 45 minute drive south of us, so yesterday I went to an immediate care clinic. The word "immediate" on their sign should really be in quotes. The doctor listened to my story and my lungs.

"Your lungs sound good," he said. 


"They're clear."

"Then where IS all this gunk?"

Bronchitis. Most likely viral, and he'd have liked me to wait three more days, to see if it would clear up by itself. Normally I'm good with that, but after waiting two hours to see him, I told him I'd just take the anitbiotics --I couldn't really afford the time to wait through another afternoon in a few more days if it didn't actually go away. So he gave me a prescription for Zithromax. 

In the meantime, Rob and I are trying not to come into contact with each other, to minimize the chance he gets it. And I gave my finals and finished grading, so now I'm just binge watching episodes of CSI Miami on my computer. I really dislike David Caruso, and there isn't enough humor in this show, but since I've never watched it before, the mysteries pass the time. I also read another book, a good one this time: Landlines, by Rainbow Rowell. I won't bother reviewing it, since there are plenty of good reviews at Amazon and Goodreads. Her dialog and comic timing are great. It's a pity so many of her books are young-adult.

I did address Christmas cards today, and doodled on the envelopes. Baby steps.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Saving You The Bother

So, I have a cold. A nasty cold. I'm grateful that I no longer have a three year old whose needs must be met regardless of my state of health, and that I gave my last lecture of the semester on the first day of my cold. Still, the only cure for a cold is time, so I've been trying to move time along by reading and watching movies. Nothing is truly enjoyable when you have a cold, so I've been reading and watching things I wasn't sure if I wanted to make time for. But now I have made time for them, and I figure I'll save you the bother.

Book: The Celtic Dagger, by Jill Patterson.
The plot idea for this book has potential, but the writing is awful. (I was appalled to see that the author has also written a book about writing!) First, it's written in a strangely formal way, which would be all right if that was the only iffy thing. But much worse than that is that the characters are never developed, and there appear to be scenes that she thinks she included (based on later events) but which were not actually there for the reader. Weird and extremely unsatisfying.

Book: Twenty-Eight And A Half Wishes, by Denise Grover Swank
I got to about page five in this book and had to stop. Just not my style. 

(Both of the above books I've gotten sort of free, through Kindle Unlimited, thank goodness.)

Movie: I Don't Know How She Does It
I read this book (of the chic lit genre) a few years ago, and it was okay. When I saw they'd made a movie, I found I didn't have much interest in it. But it came up on Netflix when I was looking for ways to waste time, and it has Pierce Brosnan in it. (I've been in love with him ever since Remington Steele.) The movie was just one cliche after another, and Sara Jessica Parker was totally the wrong choice of actress for the leading female role.

Movie: The Quartet
This movie was made just a couple of years ago and stars Billy Connolly and Maggie Smith, among others. So far, this is the best movie I've watched in my illness. I love movies about older people --the acting is so wonderful compared to many younger actors, and it's nice to see themes that aren't about getting laid or breaking up. It was not bad at all. Not nearly as good as some others I could recommend, though.

Movie: From Time To Time
This movie also stars Maggie Smith, and was produced and directed by Julian Fellowes, of Monarch of the Glen and Downton Abbey fame. It's a movie for kids, and the main star is a boy of about eleven. Not great, though.

Movie: A Long Way Down
I haven't watched this yet. I don't know if I will or not. It's based on a Nick Hornby book that I stopped reading part way through because I got bored. I'm normally a fan of his work, but this book is about four people who meet on New Year's Eve on a rooftop because they've all decided independently to commit suicide. The movie stars Pierce Brosnan (that's why it came up in my suggestions, I think) and Toni Colette. Now, I love Pierce Brosnan because he's Pierce Brosnan, but I love Toni Colette because she's just an amazing actress. She could make the whole movie, so I'm thinking about it.

So, I'm still sick and need to go browsing again . . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kindred Spirits

The Art Charm Auction is finished, and we raised over $1,100 for Beads of Courage :-) I did bid on some charms, but I was teaching when the auction ended and was oubid on all of them. Which is okay, since I received a wonderful set of 9 of those charms in the exchange.

The Christmas season has started, and Emma said "Can we not decorate quite so much this year so we don't have so much clean-up?" A girl after my own heart.

Actually, our living room is going to be a mess for several more weeks, because we are having windows and doors replaced, but the guy we hired can only work on Saturdays. I did bring up a couple of Christmas decorations, however, and placed them on a bookcase in the hallway, and the day after Thanksgiving we received our first Christmas card.

I'm reading a wonderful series of mysteries that deal with archeology. I can really identify with the protagonist, a single mom (and archeology professor).

Kate makes a routine fuss as they pass the posters for the Pleasure Beach.

"Want Dora! Want Dora!"

"We really must take her to Nickelodion World before we go home," says Cathbad.

"I'd rather die," says Ruth.

 Totally me :-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Beads of Courage Auction & Art Charm Reveal!

Today is reveal day for the art charm exchange I'm taking part in! In addition to the fun of seeing all the charms, I want to first remind everyone that the purpose of this exchange of art charms is to raise money for a wonderful charity, called Beads of Courage. This charity uses art beads as a way to help children celebrate milestones as they travel their individual medical route. This fundraiser is the brainchild of Jen Cameron, a lampwork artist. The money is raised through an auction of the art charms made for this exchange. 

The theme for this year was Soar. Birds and feathers came to mind immediately. As I worked with the polymer clay, the turquoise and brown made me think of Native Americans. I have always admired the spiritual aspects of their culture, and that seemed fitting for this particular fundraiser.

I embellished the clay feathers with a little paint, to bring out the texture.

I painted a feather on the backs of the charms.
And finally I dressed them up with a couple of small beads that matched in color and feel.

Participating in this charm exchange includes sending eleven hand-made art charms to Jen, who then sorts and sorts and sorts, and finally sends you back a package with ten charms (1 of your own, 9 made by other participating artists). She keeps one of your charms to auction off, which is how the funds are raised to donate to Beads of Courage.  It's a lot of work for Jen, but for us --receiving that package from Jen, with 9 art charms made by wonderful jewelry artists, is like an early Christmas present :-)

So here is a collage of the art charms I received --you'll find links below to each participant's blog, so you can get a close-up look at these charms and what went into their creative process.

I'd like to encourage you to check out the auction, and bid away! Remember that all the funds raised will be donated to Beads of Courage! Last year we raised over $1000 :-)

And below are links to the blogs of all the participating artists.

2014 Art Charm Exchange Participants

Cassi Paslick:  <--You are here 
Jenny Davies-Reazor:
Lennis Carrier:

Saturday, November 22, 2014


I am feeling really sorry for my sister these days. After partially recovering from surgery for a hammer toe, she was back at work a week ago. She had to attend a day of meetings at a hotel near the local airport (she's a senior underwriter, whatever they do). After finishing up, she was walking back out to her car, in three new inches of snow, and stepped onto a metal plate in the cement. She couldn't tell it was metal instead of cement, and therefore much more slippery, and so of course she slipped. Which wouldn't have been a big deal except her heel got caught on the plate, so she went down but her leg didn't.

This happened on a Thursday, and after being evaluated at a nearby clinic, her leg was splinted until she could see a surgeon. Tuesday she finally saw the surgeon, who re-splinted the leg and scheduled her for ankle surgery this Monday. Apparently they have to rebuild her ankle, and it's a lot more complex than getting a hip replacement. There is also a fracture up near her knee, which they can't do anything about except keep the leg immobile. She'll be in a heavy cast for three weeks, and a lighter cast for six more after that. She can not leave her house for nine weeks! She can't even work from home until early December! 

All from a simple slip.

And she's single, so there isn't anyone living with her to help out. My brother (who lives in the same city) is helping, and she's got friends helping, but it's not really the same as having a spouse or room mate, who's there most of the time. I wish we didn't live so far away. Rob and I are paying to have someone come clean her house for her once a week, but that doesn't do much to help for the day-to-day.

Be careful out there!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wandering Away

Emma took her high school placement exams this morning. 

She had a weird week, what with Mon and Tues off school (teacher planning day and then Veterans Day) and then she was home Weds and Thurs because she came down with a head cold. Rob and I were at work, but I think she played a lot of guitar, and I think she watched the movie "Across the Universe" several times (because last night she made me load almost the whole Beatles catalog on my iTunes, since she has a Macbook Air and can't load music from CDs, so I have to put it on my computer, then transfer it to a flash drive (we use Sylvester: 
which I got for Rob's stocking last Christmas because he loves Looney Toons), then she can copy it to her computer and some of it to her phone --hmm, I seem to have lost track of both this sentence and my parenthesis, so I'll just put a period and closing one here.)

Anyway, she was anxious. Her school doesn't really do a lot of testing, so taking what seemed to her to be a high-stakes test made her anxious last night and this morning. And I kept thinking the test was at 8 am, when it was really at 8:30 am, so we were up a little earlier than we needed to be, which just meant more time to wait through. We listened to Revolution on the way, and I tried to get her to eat a piece of chocolate, because that's supposed to help your concentration. But she said it would be better if she wasn't throwing chocolate up at the test, and I had to agree. 

But we she got through it! After the tests, I took her to school for her first and last day this week.

Tomorrow she turns 14. And I guess next year she'll actually be in high school. Weird.