Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You know you're a Grandma when...

you find yourself at the age of 53 having dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for dinner.

And it's not half bad.

A nice round number

600 more days for the Bush administration.

May the republic last that long.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I'll be doing even lighter than my usual light posting for the next few weeks. I'm in one or another of the Carolinas, watching my small grandsons for a few weeks while my daughter jets off to see Europe. Or at least some parts in Germany and Ireland.

You should be lucky enough to have such a mother.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Post Office Standard Time, or 5:03 is the new 5:30

I had to go into the office today and was gone much longer than I planned. This meant I had to make a beeline to the post office to get my bills sent out before I leave town in the morning. Not to fear, though. I know EXACTLY when the boxes outside my post office are picked up: M-F 5:30 and S 4:30. This is emblazoned somewhere on the side of my brain. I sometimes plan whole days around these times.

Imagine my surprise, then, to pull up to the boxes at 5:03 today, a Monday, and find a post office employee cleaning out the boxes. Seven of us in line jumped out of our cars and RAN to him, frantically waving our mail. I told him that I thought the box was picked up at 5:30. He said something that made no sense (he was finished inside?), but I didn't argue with him because I wanted to make sure my bills got in that bin of his.

Maybe since all three numbers are the same -- 5, 3, and 0 -- 5:03 is just as valid a pickup time as 5:30.

This shouldn't be optional, though. If the posted time on the boxes is 5:30, we the patrons should have until 5:30 to get our little letters in those boxes.

(EDIT: My skeptical mind asked if the guy might be an impostor, but if he is, he's both well-prepared and impudent. He was wearing a post office uniform, driving a post office car, and he had the keys to the post office box. After he finished collecting the mail, he drove to the back of the post office. I sat and watched to make sure.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Yards of work

When I first came out to work, the resident bunny ran out from under this chair and streaked across the yard. I have yet to catch a good photo of the bunny. But I continue to try.

While school was in session, I didn't have time to do things properly, including yard work. We've had so little rain that it almost doesn't matter that the leaves still cover the ground and the grass remains uncut. (Except for a small patch of weeds, the ground cover has barely grown.)

So today I MUST do the worst of it, since I'm leaving town for three and a half weeks the day after tomorrow.

Under normal circumstances it wouldn't be possible to do this kind of work in the middle of the day on May 20. According to, it's 81 degrees, but it's the insanely low humidity -- 46% -- that makes yard work in mid-day not only possible, but pleasant. I would be enjoying it but for the knowledge that this is not normal and suggests something scary about our climate.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Cavemen are Coming!

ABC has placed Cavemen on its fall schedule, a spin-off from those clever GEICO ads. You can keep the Gecko; I'm half in love with the long-suffering C'man who scoffs at the insensitive GEICO ads and struggles through sessions with a therapist who, from her position of privilege, just doesn't "get" the prejudice faced by a caveman.

The ad's guy doesn't seem to be one of the series' cavemen, however. I suppose he isn't/can't be available since he's already the very public face of GEICO. Too darn bad.

ABC/Cavemen producers: don't screw this one up.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I wanted to post some flowers for all the mothers -- my mother, your mother, you, you who want to be mothers but aren't yet, and especially those who want to be mothers but can't be.

We all mother in our way.

I wanted to post a photo of flowers, but my parched yard doesn't have any, and I didn't want to pinch a copyrighted photo. Then I noticed the tiny basket of shell flowers that Grammie gave me years ago.

It seems appropriate.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Justice for Pfc. LaVena Johnson

Go here.
(I'm keeping this post at the top.)

Not all Army work is destructive

By now, those of us paying attention have heard of the Case of the Mysterious Missing Honeybees:

In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through [...] shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”

The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.

Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.

Now, in a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.

As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability of the commercial bee industry to meet the growing demand for bees to pollinate dozens of crops, from almonds to avocados to kiwis.

Along with recent stresses on the bees themselves, as well as on an industry increasingly under consolidation, some fear this disorder may force a breaking point for even large beekeepers.

A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. “Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food,” said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation. (emphasis mine)

However, the Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center may have solved the mystery:

Researchers have identified potential culprits behind the wide-spread catastrophic death of honey bees around North America and Europe. A team of scientists from Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and University of California San Francisco identified both a virus and a parasite that are likely behind the recent sudden die-off of honey-bee colonies.

Using a new technology called the Integrated Virus Detection System (IVDS), which was designed for military use to rapidly screen samples for pathogens, ECBC scientists last week isolated the presence of viral and parasitic pathogens that may be contributing to the honeybee loss. Confirmation testing was conducted over the weekend by scientists at the University of California San Francisco. ECBC scientists presented the results of their studies yesterday to a United States Department of Agriculture working group, hastily convened to determine next steps.

For the past year, experts have observed a marked decline in the honey bee population, with entire colonies collapsing without warning. Approximately 50 percent of hives have disappeared and researchers around the country are scrambling to find out why. Scientists have termed this phenomenon "Colony Collapse Disorder" and fear that without honey bees to pollinate crops like fruits, vegetables, and almonds the loss of honey bees could have an enormous horticultural and economic impact around the world.

ECBC is one of many academic, commercial and government concerns studying the honey bee population decline. ECBC’s role will be to identify the extent of the problem and conduct ongoing detection activities.

One summer when I was in high school and both ECBC and I had different names -- its was Edgewood Arsenal -- I worked there. So did my pal Vintage Flowerchild. Sixteen years old and I had a security clearance. Yes, I used to work for Uncle Sam, just like George Bush does. (clears throat)

Anyway, it's nice to see that all that military whiz-bang genius designed to save soldiers from chemical attack might also help us save our food supply, especially since the news from China is so frightening.

Woman Survives Being Pushed over a Bridge, or, Damn Those Hummers!

This is either Arlene Payan's worst day ever, or her best:

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Her hands still trembling, her clothes and hair still damp, Arlene Payan found the strength to talk about the drop that could've taken her life.

"It's scary, it's nothing fun," she said.

A blown tire forced her to stop on the bridge.

"There was a huge rock on the bridge," said Arlene. And I got off the passenger side to check it out. And that's when I heard the screeching when the other car, a Hummer, hit the side of my car."

The H2 Hummer smashed into her little Toyota.

The force sent Arlene's car into her.

She sailed over the railing.

"After that, I just remember when I was flying over the bridge," she recalled. "I don't know how the car hit me or anything."

She popped up like a cork, twenty feet below, unhurt.

"I just started swimming, I had to. I just started swimming and just hoped everything was going to be OK."

A Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer leapt from a helicopter hovering over the river and hauled her to a boat.

"It was wonderful. I'm glad they were there."

Back on dry land, Arlene refused a ride to the hospital and came back to check on her car.

She works as a manager at a pharmacy in Jacksonville Beach. Her boss gave her the day off.

Pavlov's Bitty

In my current job, I rarely use the phone. By contrast, during the 12 years I worked as a real estate secretary, I spent half my time on Mr. Bell’s invention.

But it’s the end of the semester, when everything changes. Students suddenly discover that they want information from me, want feedback. Students are dropping by the office; students are calling.

Perhaps it was because I was distracted: I had one student in the office and we were in mid-conversation when the phone rang. But how surprised was I when, in automatic response to that ring, I almost said into the receiver, “Mr. C’s office”?

I haven’t worked for Mr. C for nine years.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Let there be LIGHT!

Recently our school installed motion detectors in offices and bathrooms to control the lights. (But not classrooms yet...are they afraid that everyone will go utterly still and the lights will go out? Sometimes students are sluggish, but not THAT sluggish).

In my building, when we go into the ladies' room, there's a little anteroom that we enter before we go into the stall/sink area. Each of these two rooms has its own motion detector. When no one has been in those rooms for a while, the lights turn off.

When I walk into darkness, I stand in the anteroom and wait until the outer door closes (so no one sees me acting like an idiot), then I walk into the stall/sink area, thrusting my arms upward as I enter as if I'm invoking my magical powers. Lo, this movement turns on the lights. I can't do this in my office because the movement of the door swinging in turns on the lights. And someone might see me.

It's a heady, catharctic feeling, having power over power.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

It's (going to be) a Boy!

Marine Son just called. The latest sonogram shows that grandchild #4 will also be grandson #4.

I get to meet him in September.


Edit: with some sadness, I just realized I won't be meeting him in September. New Little One will be born in California, a world away from me.

Time to buy webcams.