Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fifth Anniversary

Five years ago, Judy was living in Owings Mills all by her little lonesome. Her movements were restricted to her perceived "safe" zone. I believe the boundaries were the McDonald's at the top of Lakeside Blvd.; the other McDonald's on Reisterstown Road by; and the Barnes and Noble on the other end of Reisterstown Road heading into Pikesville; and the Walgreen's on Liberty Road. I was serving out my year in my previous school district and acting as director of the children's choir musical, Holy Moses!

I came to visit over Easter and we spent the entire time holed up in her apartment watching NCAA basketball on her cable-less TV. It was a miserable picture and she only got three channels. (I did not require that of her but she thought cable was unnecessary for the six months she was living alone.) Our joint visit the previous November had been great with wonderful weather. For this, my second visit we had miserable weather. It was cold and rainy. The chilly rain fell steadily for the most part with intermittent periods of heavy rain. It destroyed any desire we had to sight see in Washington. In fact, we skipped a planned guided tour of the U.S. Capitol Building. (Five years later we still haven't managed to visit the Capitol.) I'm reminded of that crummy weather because that's the kind of weather we had today. Cold, steady, drippy rain fell all afternoon. Unpleasant, but a good thing really because it has been pretty dry here all winter and we could use the wet to fill the reservoir.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Antique Arms Show - MD Arms Collectors

My brother Larry (pictured above) is in town for the Maryland Arms Collectors Antique Arms Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. He called us and we drove over to spend some time with him and view all the exhibits. It is more weaponry than you can even imagine. Larry says this is the premier gun show in the country and that people wait for years to be able to have a table at the event. He was working a table with a friend with whom he works on guns. While I was there a man came up asking for a stop pin for a blunderbuss. Yeah--a blunderbuss--those short little stocky guns they used during the early years of guns.

Lots of people were exhibiting their guns and others were selling. There were tables and tables of revolvers and rifles from the Civil War, Revolutionary War, World War I and II. Lots of displays of uniforms and medals and buttons and powder horns intricately carved.

Here is a picture of Japanese armor and a fabulous statue of a knight on a rearing horse.

We had a lot of fun and it was wonderful to see Larry and meet his friends. He is very knowledgeable about weaponry and the Civil War which is a common interest for us. And we stopped and bought new Vera Bradley purses on the way home. Can't beat that with a stick!

The Perfect Poison Book Trailer

The newest thing in book promotion--book trailers on Youtube. Amanda Quick is one of my favorite authors and I am looking forward to The Perfect Poison. On sale-April 21st.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How was your weekend?

Every Monday morning arrives with a flurry of "Hey, how was your weekend?" I find this question rather difficult to answer. Unlike so many of my friends with tons of chores and kid's Lacrosse games and dance competitions, my weekends are free of anything I don't want to do. I can go out or I can stay in. The plus side of this lifestyle is I can do what I want. The down side is the pressure that comes from the "How was your weekend?" question. There is an underlying message that, surely you were productive in some way or had a special event or did something that involved getting out of your Lazyboy chair. Am I a failure when I admit I stayed in my pajamas until 3:00 in the afternoon? When I mention that I woke early, mooched around, then napped for two hours, am I a loser with no life?

Fortunately, I am saved from the looming feeling of failure that comes from a weekend spent without anything more interesting happening than a stellar game of Zuma. My brother has called. Yes, those who know me are probably gasping in shock. My brother. Larry is in town at a gun show at the fairgrounds. I did wonder who kept calling me from an Indianapolis number. The first call was at 7:30 Friday morning. No one spoke. I assumed some one's rear-end had called me accidentally. The second message was a male voice muttering about a gun show. I think he actually identified himself in the third message. So Judy and I will be going to the fairgrounds tomorrow to meet up with Larry. Thus, my weekend is saved from failure. I now have something to report when the "How was your weekend?" questions start flying.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Illinois Falls to Western Kentucky, 76-72

Awww, man. So soon? I thought sure we'd make it to the Sweet Sixteen. At least I didn't watch it. I thought Illinois was playing Friday. (I've been a little distracted.) I don't think I could handle a mega-dose of hives right now. Here's a link to the article about the game.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's Coming...

2009 Book Challenge Update

As of yesterday, I have completed Part I: Read 12 Miscellaneous books. I am on pace to achieve Part III; my page total is 12,243 towards the 50,000 pages. I have not yet read even one biography however. Karen and Judy have read around 13,000 pages so I'm trailing behind according to their unofficial book challenge information. I will keep plugging away anyway. I'm confident my summer vacation advantage will result in a significant lead by September. Heh heh.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sharon Shinn's The Twelve Houses

I just finished reading all the books published so far in Sharon Shinn's The Twelve Houses series. Sharon Shinn is a wonderful author of fantasy/science fiction books. Her Samaria series which begins with Jovah's Angel is fabulous too.

The stories are set in the country of Gillengaria, which is made up of twelve territories run by major and minor families. The time period is pre-industrial with vassals and what-not. The first four books have a connected and continuing story arc about a period of rebellion and revolution in the southern territories.

The fantasy element of the story is that some of the people of Gillengaria are "mystics" or have magic. The book's main characters are Senneth; a mystic who can control fire and heal; Tayse; a King's Rider--the ultimate soldier dedicated to the King; Kirra; a mystic who can shape change; Donnal-a mystic who can shape change--vassal to Kirra; Justin; a King's Rider recruited by Tayse, and Cammon-a mystic who can read other people's feelings and thoughts. The core group are present in all the books. They are the ensemble cast of the series, so to speak.

The first book, Mystic and Rider is about the group's adventures in the southern region gathering Intel for the King about the rebellion and the rise of a new religious order which persecutes mystics. The bulk of the story is told from Senneth and Tayse's points of view.
Senneth and Tayse end up in love--so Shinn throws in a little romance, which I always enjoy.

The second book, The Thirteenth House is Kirra's story. The rebellion is gathering momentum and the King's choice for a regent for his teenage daughter is kidnapped. This is a bittersweet book because Kirra falls in love with the regent and begins an affair with him. He's married though and it can't and doesn't end happily from that point of view but it was a great story.

Dark Moon Defender, is the story of Justin's undercover investigation into the religious order Daughters of the Pale Moon. He has some exciting times while separated from the group. He too, falls in love with an utterly unsuitable novice in the order. The rest of the group are accompaning Princess Amalie on a tour of some of the territories.

The final book in the story arc, Reader and Raelynx is Cammon's story. He is given the job of protecting Amalie and helping to choose a husband for her by reading the intentions of the various suitors. Unfortunately, he and Amalie spend so much time together that THEY fall in love. The war breaks out in earnest and the King is killed. The book comes to a terrible and powerful conclusion--but happy--for those who insist on such things. (And I do.)

I think Shinn intended to finish the series with Reader. I have not insider knowledge, but I think that this world was just too good to leave. The next, but hopefully not last book is Fortune and Fate. It is something of a stand-alone book. It is about Wen, a King's Rider who appeared in the previous books as a secondary character. Senneth, Tayse and the gang all show up in this book but they are not the focus of it. After four books you might assume all those southern factions that rebelled against the King were evil--but this book shows the aftermath. The people left behind who were damaged and how they recover.

I enjoyed every one of these books. In fact, I stayed up way too late trying to finish a couple of them which accounts for my obsession with sleep this week. Any book that keeps you reading because you just have to know what happens next, even when you have an early faculty meeting is a good book. I really cared about the characters and I wanted everyone to be happy and to survive. Shinn made me worry that they might not all survive which certainly added tension! I highly recommend the series and I award it a five out of five stars.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Judy has come up with a new word to decribe the act of putting one's pajamas on in the evening. It's a verb, as in, "Tonight I will jammify as soon as possible". It can also be a noun, as in, "Jamification is complete." Just for the record around here, jammification happens as soon as we get home on Friday. I may also stay jammified all day tomorrow just to add ease to my Saturday napping.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sleep Experiment

Well, my sleep 'experiment' was a total failure. Not that it was a bad idea but I haven't managed to get eight hours of sleep even one time all week. In fact, Tuesday night I stayed up until 1:00 am which was completely stupid. I was reading Sharon Shinn's Reader and Raelynx and it got good. The war was heating up; I was worried about my characters dying; I had to see how it all turned out. My helpless fascination with fictional characters and events has gotten me in trouble many times over the years. Starting in elementary school, if you can imagine! Not surprisingly, I am so tired that I wish wish wish wish wish it was Friday night right now. Mr. Foot has hinted that there might be snow in the region tonight that could cause a school delay tomorrow morning. Oh, I hope hope hope hope hope that happens so I can sleep an extra two hours. Irregardless, as my mother used to say redundantly, I am going to bed early tonight. Whine over, plan in place.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How Not To Do a Powerpoint

I have swiped this hysterically funny video from someone else's blog. It's called, "How NOT to do Powerpoint." It should be required watching for everyone who has ever made up a powerpoint presentation.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

It's Official...

It is spring here in Maryland. How do I know? Rita's is open! And the coolest thing is Free Ice Thursday at Rita's is coming March 20th. Woohoo! Today I did not have my usual Mango Gelati. Instead I indulged in Blueberry Gelati. It's was chock full of blueberry goodness. Mmmm.


How much sleep does a sleeper sleep till a sleeper is slept out? I keep telling Judy that we are not getting enough sleep. I think this weekend is the proof in the pudding. Friday night I slept over ten hours. Then I took a two and a half hour nap on Saturday afternoon. Last night I slept nine and a half hours. She slept even longer than me because I had to wake her up on Saturday morning and out of the nap, otherwise Judy would have probably slept through till Sunday morning.

The thing is--we're gettin' up there in age, all immaturity notwithstanding. (Is that even a word? I ponder...) We find ourselves constantly making comments about how we can't remember this or that and searching for the right word to use, we find the stress in our jobs stressful...and now I'm becoming convinced it is all evidence of sleep deprivation!!! I used to blame my "time of life" for my insomnia--but I now think it was my anxiety disorder that was causing me to have difficulty sleeping. With my new treatment plan, I fall asleep easily and I don't wake up freakishly early anymore. (I kinda miss that. Early arising made me feel superior to slug-a-beds. I understand those early birds and their attitudes toward night owls now.)

So I heretofore resolve that I will get eight hours of sleep each night this week. This will require GREAT discipline on my part--something I am not known for. I am a natural night owl after all. I will then subjectively determine if my memory and word retrieval skills are improved, also my emotional capacity to handle stress without wigging out. Yeah. That's it. An experiment. I'm in.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Girls & Boys

The Black Horse and a Cherry Tree song reminded me stylistically of Ingrid Michaelson's Girls and Boys cd. It became popular a while back because of the informally known "sweater song" which is actually titled The Way I Am. The Youtube embed function is disabled for this official "The Way I Am" video posted at youtube which you can watch it at the link, OR watch this homemade, rather simple version of the song.

Black Horse and a Cherry Tree

Thanks to the commenter who pointed me to youtube for this video of the song Megan Joy sang last night on AI. The originator of the song, KT Tunstall has a great website.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Blogging the Idol "Wild Card" Show

Judy has had a bad day at the Cup, so we are going to blog the American Idol Wild Card Show. We're not technically "live" because nothing will induce me to give up the ability to fast forward through Ryan Seacrest's inane chit-chat and the possibility of having to actually listen to something that Paula Abdul might slur out.

First up, Jessie Langseth from Minnesota: She's grateful for the opportunity. Randy thinks she needs to show her range. So she's gonna do that. She's singing "Tell Me Something Good". Whoa. She's got a whole retro look going on with the hair and outfit. She's yell-singing right from the get-go. She---whoa---just got a look at how short her skirt is--I think she's going for the sex sells advantage. Meanwhile, singing-wise, she was off key. It wasn't good. The judges note that she sang off-key. Paula's impressed with her "tenacity". Cuz that's what you need in a singing competition.

Matt Giraud is up next. He's singing for his life. He wants us to go "WOW". He's singing "Here's Loving You" by the Jackson 5. He's got a whole hat and scarf thing going on. He's really driving the R & B thing. He appears to be channeling Ray Charles. The audience love him. Judges think he was a little "over the top". Ohh, burn. Simon thinks he was a bit Taylor Hicks. Can't get a worse comparison on Idol.

Hippie Chick--Megan Joy Corkrey. She's thanking her lucky stars. She's gonna rock house. She's singing "Black Horse". Sadly, I have no idea what song that is...Full sleeve tattos are on display...she's straightened her hair...and she's twitching her hips and shoulders...Hmm, isn't that the behavior that ruined her first performance?? She's not bad but she acts weird. I confess this may reveal my utter unfamiliarity with current culture and music. She really likes putting her hands on her hips. She didnt' suck. Naturally, Paula noted first thing that she looks beautiful. Simon likes her and thinks she's terrific. She's current. (Judy and I think that she might be Lilly Allen-ish or Amy Winehouse-ish. Which could be why I didn't recognize the song.) I suspect she'll make it through because she's different from all the others.

Von Smith is up next. He's ecstatic to be asked back for the wild card round. He wants to show what he can do (like he hasn't been given that opportunity once already.) He's singing "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word"---didn't he already do Elton John? He's voice is all chipmunky as we called in in Robin/JudyWorld.
Ohh, very whiny sounding. He also has Alfafa Hair...very pointy at the top. Apparently, he chose to ignore Simon's advice about wearing a hat. Meanwhile, Simon thinks he's boring. He's too earnest.

Jasmine Murray thinks it's unbelieveable to be here and experience this. She's planning to show off her vocal ability. She's singing "Reflection" by Christina Aguilara. Nice ombre dress that goes from black to magenta. Judy criticizes her pronunciations first thing "art" instead of "heart". She's yelling pretty good. It sounds like a Disney soundtrack. She's best in the quiet parts---she way over-sang the loud bits trying to out Christina, Christina. Randy thinks she was better than last time, but the song was too big for her. (He generally thinks all songs are too big for everybody except, Mariah and Whitney.) Simon gave her a mostly good review.

Here comes, Ricky Braddy. Interesting name--very rythmic. His performance before was "flawless". He feels that he needs to just show his personality and he'll be in it. He's singing "Superstitious". Judy thinks he's good--very comfortable on stage. I don't like the white shoes but then, I have issues with white shoes. He too is going for the pointy hair head look. Simon doesn't think he made the impression he could have made. He's disappointed. Bad song choice--the dread karoake--darn it..I don't know how to spell that.

Is it...yes! It's Tatiana "Crazy Girl" Del Toro time. Freak-extraordinary. I KNEW she would be brought back--she's gives good "television". The producers couldn't resist. She's telling us from her heart how much this all means to her. She has love for everyone and everything. Meanwhile, I don't think sentiment will do it. But hey--good television is good television. She's ready to sing for you America, thank you so much. She's singing "Saving All My Love For You". Judy is gobsmacked. Didn't she sing this already?? Didn't she plan another song? Is this the same dress too? Mind you--I thought she was good the first time. Her gestures seem oddly familiar. Hm....well, rehearsed even. Meanwhile, after singing, she started shouting that she loves the judges. Who would think she's trying to influence the judges? Just because she has a history of begging. In case you didnt' know, she really really really really really really really really really really really really wants a spot in the top twelve. Paula is so discombobulated she can barely form a sentence. Wait, that's how she normally acts. Simon gives her a really hard time about singing the same song again. I predict that she'll make it through again. Wait and see. Her television draw is just TOO good.

Anoop Desai is ecstatic too. There's alot of that going around with these wild card contestants. He wants to show the judges that Noop Dog is back. He's singing, "My Perogative". The audience is going nuts. He's even winkin' and sexifyin'. He's sings very well. Simon doesn't think he's the best singer we're going to hear but he's likeable. Boring singers don't get put through. They need personality too. (Tatiana anyone? I'm tellin' ya)

The results--probably decided before the show. Here's how it plays--Jasmine is in. They do the traditional and STUPID mis-direct which I fell for. Dang it. Ricky is out. Tatiana is out. Megan is in. I'm SHOCKED. I really thought good television would win out--(Tatiana should have sung a new song. Also, she needed to not be such a drama queen. Idol already had a prima donna in Taylor Hicks. Apparently, they don't want another one. Still-I'm surprised. I'll leave my wrong prediction in because I'm honest.) One more to go...and rats...the dvr cut out too soon and I have no idea who the last pick is going to be. Oh, well....guess I'll find out when somebody else blogs it.

I have a weakness...

for lol cats with stuffed animals.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I have a weakness...

for little cats with stuffed animals. (especially beanie babies)

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Oh for pete's sake...

I wonder who Pete is, anyway. So, here's the thing---I have a salivary gland infection or blockage. Yup. Can you believe it? I look like McCain, with this bulbous swelling under my left ear. Plus--if I eat. It HURTS. Since I'm activating my salivary gland and it can't squirt out saliva, well you get the idea. When I ate a Happy Meal this afternoon, I discovered this sad fact. What have I learned as a result? Only eat the things that are worth the pain. Like, I don't know...doughtnuts. See, I know I have a fat face, but that wierd lump on my left is not normal. (That's Saba! in the background giving me advice about taking a picture with my webcam.)
**Update** My doctor prescribed a Z-pack and I am happy to report that the swelling is significantly better and did not worsen when I ate my breakfast. Whew.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Terrific Tuesday

This morning, in spite of the fact that CCPS had a two hour delay to the start of school, I was almost late for work. I arrived at 32 minutes after the hour, with only three minutes to spare. I don't like to cut it that close. In spite of having an extra two hours to get ready--I found that plucking my eyebrows, ironing my pants, trying on four different shirts and then changing my earrings to match my final shirt choice, put me off schedule a bit. Then, as I was filling my to-go cup of coffee, I realized that my birthday person does work on Tuesday (not just Monday and Wednesday as I had been imagining) and that I needed to take her cake and present to school. A quick hustle and I had everything in a bag. without forgetting anything--but I was now running really late. I headed out at 10:17 for a fifteen minute drive with a 10:35 deadline. I was a bit concerned that I'd run into traffic, or bad road conditions from yesterday's snow but there was, happily, only one bad patch so I made it to work on time. I mean, how embarrassing to be late with so much extra time to get there. I'm just sayin'.

Well, Terrific Tuesday is winding down for me. I'm home from work enjoying the quiet respite between my getting home and Judy's arrival. She's still slogging away at the salt mines, poor thing, but I am not. During this time, I usually talk to Jeri Lynn on the phone, (she calls a lot) blog, read, nap, and otherwise engage in total sloth. Occasionally, I cook or do some chore. Not today---I'm exhausted from my shortened work day. :O)

So, I'm sippin' a cup of french vanilla coffee and pondering my next book read. I finished Sharon Shinn's Mystic and Rider last night. I should read a biography next for the book challenge. I have many, many choices but I just don't have the energy to decide. Should I go with a Lincoln book, a royalty book, Oscar Wilde's secret life, or Emily Dickinson? Lately, I find I am doing a great deal of waffling on book choice. I have started but not finished about a dozen books. I keep thinking if I just pick them up again I can quickly get my page numbers up in the book challenge. (Currently, I appear to be in last place. I can't figure it out. I am the fast reader. Judy is the slow reader. Karen is in second place and she is the super super fast reader. How is Judy doing it? I suspect cheating. I know there is sabotage! going on in the evening. No sane person flips the mute button on and off so many times otherwise. By the way, please be sure to say the word "sabotage" in a hissing whisper, otherwise that sentence loses something.)

What I really want to read is the next book in Sharon Shinn's series, The Twelve Houses. Since I generally do what I want to do, I think I will stop blogging and start reading The Thirteenth House.

Now that's a sweet little kitty....

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day!

At last, a snow day on a day when my back is in fairly good shape. Believe it or not--my plans include laundry, working on my book, lesson plans, as well as, reading and general sloth. Hope I can fit it all in--I might need a second day. ;o)

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Just when we thought it was safe to think about spring, Maryland is under the gun of a big snow storm. It was warm enough this past week to have a fire drill! But public school teachers and students are now on the countdown to a possible snow day. After the last big snow storm predicted fizzled into nothingness; it's best to take nothing for granted. As in, I'll believe it's snowing when it starts snowing.

Last night when the sleet started tap, tap, tapping on the window pane, Judy was pretty irritated with me. After we went to Target yesterday, sat in our car in the parking lot at Bed, Bath and Beyond talking to Karen for like an hour, shopped at BB&B (got a set of Henckels knives, woohoo!), paid the rent, picked up Burger King for "linner", and unpacked our goodies from BB & B which involved washing all the knives and putting them in the knife block; my back was ready for a rest. Which turned into a nap. When lasted like, um, three hours. She fell asleep too! How is that my fault? I just started out resting my eyes. So we ended up waking up at 9:00. That's too late in Robin-world to go to the grocery store. Hey--I don't like going out in the dark. Sue me. I assured her that I was confident despite the evidence of sleet falling that we would be able to go to the grocery story on Sunday and I was right. So there.

Meanwhile--I feel confident that if we actually slept more through the week, we would not 'accidently' end up napping on the weekends for three or four hours. I'm just sayin', what was I sayin'? I can't remember what point I had, if any, so I'll just hit post.