Sunday, July 23, 2006

Highlights from South Bend

South Bend received us as guests this past weekend as we closed on our house. We learned a few things over the time.
  • Eric is a superhero because he drove the whole distance with nary a breather from me. Knitting was my consolation--many a dishcloth were born.
  • A likeness of Elvis' face can be found in the rear of a semi trailer. Some may have written the image off as a chance combination of shadows that deflected light and spaces that reflected it, but the astute saw the king.
  • My name is too long to sign closing papers, but I'm well trained for the endurance since as an English teacher, I graded essays in batches of 140, writing comments on each one.
  • Narnia is located in our front yard, as denoted by our delightful lightpole.
  • Police drive modified Intrepids.
  • A radio station played songs like "If I Only Had a Brain," "Moses" from Singing in the Rain, and crackly music. They still erroneously boasted the moniker: Music of the 80's, 90's and today.
  • Homeowners who close long distance are delightful. They're already established in their new home and don't want the hassle of moving any 'leftovers' in the old house. So they leave behind things like a propane grill, a lawnmower, ladders, and two weedwhackers.
  • While eating lunch Friday, we saw a license plate from Alaska with the following personalization: ALA SKA. A few hours later, while waiting at a red light, we had a car approach from the other direction. This time, the car was from Hawaii. And that license plate? HAWAII. I'm still weirded out by this for three reasons: 1) Who personalizes their plate with their state's name? 2) When you're not part of the 48 continental states, why are you driving or having your car ferried over an ocean if you're headed to Indiana? and 3) What are the odds that they both happen to be in South Bend at the same time?
  • Amtrak is a cheap supplement to an airline flight. Spacious seats greet you, guests can wander from car to car, and all the while the train rocks you gently side to side.
  • National baton twirling competitions bring about more drama than is healthy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Exploiting the Email of Others

My youngest sister heads to college next month, and we're savoring a couple days together. She's taken the initiative to make contact with her three roommates, trying to rid any overlaps in goods.

Today one of her roommates with an overly glamorous view of college wrote the following: "I was wondering, I have to go get a new comforter for my bed in the dorm, are we gonna be one of those rooms that like color-coordinates? cuz it doesn't matter to me but I spose some girls would like that?"

Dear me. First, it took every bit of my fiber to not correct her email. And second, Charity has quite the drama awaiting her. I eagerly anticipate stories of what commences when their toothbrushes clash. Don't even get me started on what havoc will be strewn when shampoo bottles aren't coordinated. I'm so embarrassed for them already.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Life Lessons

It's important to share the lessons you learn through life with others, so in a spirit of altruism, here is the newest acquired adage. Internalize it so you never find yourself making the same mistake:

"Never buy a house from a professor of European history, because he will be in Holland when you want to close."

So true. When we made an offer on our South Bend house, we knew to try for an earlier closing date than we needed, so if delays arose, we could be flexible. Eric was planning on driving out there with his car and catching Amtrak or Greyhound back home. This allowed him to see our chosen route and all of the delightful construction delays that awaited us before he was driving a massive truck, as well as allowing us the luxury of not having to hitch a car behind an already long truck.

Our realtor relayed to us that we could close yesterday. I was going to remain behind, as we had guests, but we were going to have a notary prepare a limited power of attorney for Eric, so he could have the delight of signing for me. Eric took the time off work, made hotel and bus reservations, and alerted the water company so they could hook up service while someone was there, as they won't do otherwise.

Wednesday evening, however, we hear that it's off, due to a problem transferring documents on the seller's end. Next, it will be delayed to Monday. Eric alerts his boss, and calls up the hotel, Greyhound, and the water company.

But then, we learn our seller is having trouble getting documents notarized while in Holland, so yet again, we're delayed, now to next Friday. Enter Eric on the phone to the previously mentioned entities, who are getting quite accustomed to our accounts.

So, let me reiterate the proverb that Eric so aptly coined: "Never buy a house from a professor of European history, because he will be in Holland when you want to close."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Libraries and Overextended Definitions

My sister Hope and her three children have been visiting us for the week. On Monday, I took my oldest niece to the library for Celebrity Storytime. Monday's guest was the fire chief, and children asked numerous questions, such as, "What if your house gets on fire?"

My four-year-old niece was reciting to me what she has learned about library etiquette from her mom.

"We have to be quiet and whisper. And we have to be careful with the books. We can take some of them home. And then, when we're done, we get to throw them away!"
This response threw me. Why would she think books were ever thrown away? With some deliberate questioning, I was able to ascertain the truth: she thought book depositories were trash cans.

To continue with amusing responses from this same niece, we must harken back to over a year ago. Eric and I were spending the night at my parents' place over Christmas, and my niece saw us settling down for the night and pulling out the hide-a-bed. Quizzically, her gaze went from Eric to me, and then only the one bed. Once she had the nerve to phrase her question, she addressed Eric.

"So, Faithy's sleeping there with you?"



In Eric's simplest logic, he responded with, "Because we're married."

My niece took this in, and the puzzled look dissipated. With newfound clarity, she boasted, "Oh. I'm married to mommy."

Monday, July 10, 2006

I Know What to Get the Golfers in My Family for Christmas

I've seen some interesting advertisements lately. First it started with an Arby's billboard that boasted, "We cater!" I'm not sure curly fries are quite up to being called 'catering,' but I'll let it be. Then there was the above advertisement in a restaurant. Consider: what may be the "proper preparation" for golf? Perhaps this was advertising sleek gloves, you ask? No. The newest golf club? Not quite. I'll go easy on you, since you're stumped. Here was the text next to this photo:
Golf and cigars. They are nearly synonymous with each other. Yet, until now, the cigar smoker on the links was forced to carry his prized smokes in less than ideal conditions. Let the Armored Humidor join your foursome. The Armored Humidor features a watertight, unbreakable case that meets military specs for high impact, humidity, and immersion. Inside, the leak-free, maintenance-free humidification system maintains constant relative 70% humidity regardless of outside conditions. Three sizes and five colors are available.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another Year of Being Cute Together

Today marks our third wedding anniversary. Yes, three years ago today we were blissfully married.

Not much has changed. We're wiser and happier. Every now and again, another couple tries to come along and supplant us as Cutest Couple Ever, but they quickly learn they're deceiving themselves. That, or they disappear--can't handle the truth.

School Memories: A Tale of an Infatuated Seventh Grader

I was winding up my poetry unit, wherein we were writing some poems to close the time. Most students need guidance to write poems, so I had structured lessons. One such lesson was to write a poem inspired by a photograph.

Students were asked to bring their own, but knowing that some would forget, I printed several from my computer for students to use. Pictures would be analyzed for details that revealed their stories. I selected pictures based on "narrative" or "descriptive" quality. There were several from when I was a child, one of our wedding showing a nondescript couple running through birdseed to the awaiting car, and some photographs of artwork from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

I also had some Czech pictures from my youngest sister. Some were quite artistic, like a black and white of a man in a dark subway. There was also one of a friend of mine, Shalin, with perhaps a fondue pot in front of him at a restaurant.

In fifth hour, one girl grabbed it and asked who it was. I replied, "A friend of mine from college." She took it to her desk, her parting words being, "He's HOT!" I told her I'd inform him a 12-year-old girl thought thus, and she was embarrassed (and hopeful) as only a seventh-grade girl can be.

I'm not completely sure of the accuracy of the following, as I was just out of earshot, but someone asked her about the picture, and I believe she might have claimed the picture was hers from home. Oh, what the throes of young love will push you to say!

Then, my next class rolled around...and I realized that Shalin's picture was missing. I imagined this girl at home, fawning over Shalin's image. In time, she would pull it out to show others and brag about Shalin being her boyfriend, or some other equally entertaining story.

I had printed these off anew, knowing some could be bent or misplaced through the exercise, so I wasn't despondent about the loss of a picture. Curiosity, however, caused me to near the girl's desk the next day and ask her about the picture. Should she have claimed it was in her locker or at home, I would have let it be. Bashfully, however, she opened her binder where it was displayed and returned it to me.

Yes, I recognize I am cruel to break up a harmless, imagined romance. Alas, I am the ogre English teacher, and I must keep my reputation intact.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

How My Interview Ended up on the Editing Room Floor

Last Monday I was contacted Monday by a producer for a public radio show who had stumbled on my site because of my entry on Poetry and Potatoes. She wondered if I would be interviewed for their Wednesday show, as they periodically close with a three- to five-minute spot for a Blog Story segment. And the theme for the show? "We Say Potato." Since the only conflicting events were doing laundry, packing up boxes, and going to the pool, I agreed. Tuesday over the phone the producer had me discuss my spud background and read "Mashed Potato Love Poem."

Even though the producer claimed I was a "natural radio talker," she did say that there was no guarantee they would have room for it in the show; sometimes the host and guests just can't get enough of their subject and use up all the time. The producer just does all she can to ensure they aren't stuck with an excess of time, so she makes sure they're overprepared. Such was the case last Wednesday. So the interview was all for naught, and the public lost an opportunity for being enlightened to a glorious poem. That's okay. I'm not sure how I would feel learning my first radio exposure stemmed from my love of all things potato.

The show's name? Open Source with Christopher Lydon. I had heard of it before, but it's primarily aired on the coasts. They have a philosophy of using the show as an outlet of their website, taking many suggestions for topics and guests from the online discussions. I listened to a couple excerpts of shows after I was contacted, and there's a spectrum of interest. Some I found amusing and entertaining where others were so specific in their topic that I was hard-pressed to remain engaged.