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On my beach I find

smooth petrified bone

fragments of shells in perfect color schemes

perfectly white marbled pebbles

skate jaw pieces (at least that’s what I heard)

gold stones whose pallor changes when dry

occasional sea glass not quite ripe yet

flotsam and jetsam that masquerades as something else

all while looking for shark teeth

not so big but just big enough for today.






My coffee pot is gurgling

I’m killing time

(what an awful, perfect expression)

before that glorious first sip

of liquid heaven

I look out the window

the neighborhood fox

is on patrol

bouncing down the lane

stealthily observing

skittishly avoiding

but I see you

I want to approach

you stunning creature

but I’ll never get close


you’ll never let me.




Emotional Eating

I’m in an eating mood today.  I’m in a cheesy soup, warm biscuit mood. I’m in an eat the whole row of Oreos mood.

The better part of my day was spent in five minutes conferences heaping praise on uber-involved parents of children who are geniuses due to their parent’s amazing rearing practices.  It’s like speed dating.  Please move on and I’ll keep smiling.

Unfortunately the parents I really need to see don’t show up for conferences.

I also have lots on my personal plate. Mostly good stuff, but stressful nonetheless. And I’m always afraid things won’t go my way.

It’s cold and wet-snowing. I love snow in the winter months, but I find snow inhospitable in March. As a result, my cold feet are inconsolable.

And I keep hitting the wrong keys on my keyboard.

Is it time for bed yet?  What else is there to eat around here?!?!?





Emotional Eating

Ticket Madness

Milk cream dog food spinach lemon juice yogurt soup cornbread chicken veggies bananas apples clementines sour cream Windex rice beans

I dictated the above items to my iPhone while begrudgingly heading to Safeway after school today. I have grown to hate grocery shopping.  I hate having to handle each item 5 times before I actually get to use it: I put it in the basket, I take it out of the basket, I put it in the car, I take it out of the car, I put it away; it’s maddening.

But the more maddening thing occurred when the sweet young clerk who checked me out handed me a pile of Monopoly tickets, the latest game at the grocery store. I usually blow off these things, thinking I haven’t got the time or the wherewithal, but I accepted them gracefully, shoved them in my coat packet and went on my way to handle my purchases at least three more times.

As I do most weeknights, I had to pick up my husband from the metro.  As usual, I have few minutes to spare so I figured I’d spend the time on my phone checking messages, surfing the internet or scanning Facebook.  I put my hand into my pocket to find my phone and came upon those damn Monopoly tickets.  I decided to see what the fuss was all about and started folding the perforated edges, ripping off the sides and unfolding the little slips of shiny blue paper.  I was only able to open a small portion of the pile before my husband opened the door and we headed home.

Most people would move on and find something far more interesting or productive to do, but I arrived home with my curiosity peaked. I found the two other piles of the game pieces I’d stashed in a basket of crap in the kitchen and set to obsessively tear through the rest of them, determined to finish before dinner.  My husband took the dogs out for their long evening walk and returned to goad me, asking, “You still at it?” (He thinks what I’m doing is ridiculous.)  I attempted to defend my actions but ultimately stopped to have dinner and watch Jeopardy.

So now here I sit in my living room with the alleged Monopoly board out in front of me on the coffee table splitting these tickets open while my fingers turn blue.  I sure hope the glossy blue dye they use isn’t toxic.  I’ve seen medical dramas about that this kind of thing.

IMG_1305 (2)                 IMG_1315

Although I haven’t found the magic big winner piece (yet),  I did win a free doughnut and some canned vegetables and more Monopoly game tickets [heavy sigh] and coupons for things like Pirate Booty and Mountain Dew (no thanks) and Snapple (maybe) and tissue and Atkins snack bars (yuck).  I haven’t even gotten to the teeny weenie little numbered pieces that I have to match on the game board in order to win $1 million or $10 in grocery cards or a $200 family picnic (that’s a lot of potato salad).

I’m aware that it’s likely after all of this effort I will not win.  In fact, I won’t even use the coupons because coupons irritate me.  But maybe I will win the big one; someone has to, right?  I’ll let you know.  Or maybe I’ll be in Tahiti.

Ticket Madness

Oh Alex

You have a place in our homes
And in our hearts.
Regardless of what goes on in our days
Or on the dreadful evening news
At 7:30 we change the channel
And there you are
Like a pleasant, predictable beacon
A fixture
Smiling welcoming engaging
Teasing and testing us
Calling us to compete
And we oblige.
When the kids were babies
The bright blue squares on the screen
Would hold their attention
And we’d have a little peace
In an otherwise chaotic evening.
As they grew older
You became Uncle Alex
And would bookmark our evenings.
Now as you hold court on our screen
And uncover the categories
We each claim our best topics
Hoping we can run the category
And gain your admiration.
We become irritated with the one
Who shouts out the answers
Before anyone else gets the chance
To even think.
You know who you are.
And when the final jeopardy category
Flashes on the screen
We place our bets
All or nothing.
When the final question is unveiled
There’s an unspoken rule
To be quiet
Until each person present
Gets the chance to come up with their answer.
God help you if you shout it out.
Sometimes we get it
Sometimes we don’t.
It doesn’t matter.
That’s not the point.
There’s no one like you, Alex Trebek.
You are family
A dear uncle.
You’re are a part of our nightly ritual.
After you
The night slows down
Dinner is done
And everyone retreats
To their separate corners
Of the house.
But for a short time
You bring us together
Even when tensions are high
Or the mood low
For a 30 minute hiatus
From our angst.
Please don’t go away too soon.
We need you.

Oh Alex

One of Those Days

What are we doing today, Mrs. Brown?

At this point, my snarky comeback usually has to do with getting the warm-up started, which is ALWAYS posted, followed by waving my arms in an overexaggerated manner at the agenda on the board, which is also ALWAYS posted.

It goes something like this: I introduce said student to the board and vice versa (“Johnny, the board.  Board, meet Johnny.”)  Rarely do I achieve the laugh I am going for.

If I’m feeling convivial, I won’t buy into my frustration and simply say, “Please get out the __fill in the blank here___” or “pick up the _____  sheet as you enter the room and read it” or “get ready to turn in the _____” or something to that effect.  Clearly the more adult thing to do.

Regardless of how I present, these are the noises I frequently hear:  Aaaooh. Meh. Noooh. <This is whining—I can’t seem to find the right alphabet letters to make the particular sound a sixth grader makes when they are not pleased. >

This is a chronic occurrence, so much so that I posted this sign above my whiteboard in the front of my classroom:

There's No Whining in English Class - NEW Funny Classroom Poster

It hasn’t worked.  I will also channel Tom Hanks’ character from A League of Their Own and lament, “THERE’S NO WHINING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL!”   That hasn’t worked either.

Oh well.  Good thing I was gifted with a sense of humor–a vital quality for a teacher who chose to teach middle school English, as far as I’m concerned.  That peppered with a little bit of sarcasm at this age pays dividends for all concerned.

One of Those Days

Satisfying Sounds

The crinkle of the wrapper on a new pack of gum
The swift, successful carving of a stack of papers on a papercutter
Shrieking, excited kids outside my window after the last bell of the day
The whooshing sound my iPhone makes when a message is sent
Likewise, the double vibrate when I receive a message
Rhythmic stapling of hundreds of handouts while I wait (no paper jam)
The silence in my classroom when all are deep in thought, answering an open-ended
question about the latest novel they are reading–you can almost hear them thinking
Likewise, ANY time students are discussing literature
Reid playing guitar and singing in the office with confidence and conviction–it also
means he’s home
A shrill whistle that starts a race
The squirting of a Windex bottle on a dirty window, then rubbing the window with a
paper towel until it squeaks
The tinkling and cracking sound bamboo makes when the wind is really blowing
Ice dropping into a glass followed by the fizz of bubbly seltzer
Izzy softly snoring in her hidey-hole bed (she demands attention even while she sleeps)
The low hum of air escaping a vent, the dishwasher at night, the refrigerator during the day when I’m home alone–all these sounds are strangely comforting
The soft knock of someone who doesn’t want to startle you
The last sound a door makes as it’s quietly closed
Tapping of rain on a metal roof while I read
When the one I’m looking for finally answers the phone









Satisfying Sounds

Saturday Morning Expectations

I am always the first one up.  On purpose.  I love the quiet.  And when the other beings in my house begin to emerge, there are Saturdays when it takes everything in me to be congenial.

Don’t get me wrong…I live with very good people and pretty good dogs.  Neither are in the habit of demanding more than their fair share, certainly no more than I demand of them.  But I do wonder if there are times I could be content living the hermit life.

Today began as most Saturdays: I settle onto my living room couch with my coffee, computer, Weekend section from the Washington Post and other sundry things I intend to read, basking in the aloneness, the solitude, those precious minutes when there’s no one about.  I expect at least an hour before anyone will bother me so I’m all set.

It’s at this exact moment, ass on couch and coffee in mid-slurp, when Mac gets up from his cozy bed in the hidey-hole near the heat vent in the kitchen and begins to stare me down. Usually he gives me no notice, waiting instead for the real pushover, my husband JB, to come padding down the stairs.  Most mornings JB can’t even consider getting his first cup of coffee before Mac and Izzy (our Beagle-Jack Russell) have sprung out of their beds at the sound of his familiar footsteps and are doing their little yappy dance, requesting an audience for their morning constitutional.

For some reason, though, Mac will not wait and starts an incessant whine; Izzy is still lying in her bed, not bothered by the annoyance.  But this one has staying power.  He will whine and moan as long as it takes to get what he wants.  I try to ignore him but after a few minutes it’s really no use.  I’m not a cruel person, but I’m no pushover either.  I have a pretty strong will of my own, having raised two willful boys (I have NO idea where they got that from) and from teaching middle school.

But I can take it no longer.  I get up.  And the day begins.  Mac, with Izzy in tow, gets his way.  They do their business and get their treats, which I’m sure is what they really wanted.  I pour another cup of coffee and sit back down on the couch, sandwiched by dogs on either side of me.  Shortly thereafter, my husband emerges and the dogs take off for their preferred person.  He gives them another treat (of course!), turns on oldies music (aka the music we grew up with) in the kitchen and begins talking (he’s a good man, but a real talker);  my silence is broken.  I guess it’s time to get over myself and join the human race.  I make muffins.

Saturday Morning Expectations


So.  How many blogs start with “So.” or “So, I’m starting a blog.” or “So I’m starting a blog and I have no idea what to say.”

So anyway.  I am really uncomfortable with this, but want to be a more versatile writer.  I am quite good at the “voice”-less academic writing and research writing; in fact, I rather enjoy it. But I prefer to consume personal narrative yet so unsure of my own “voice”–am I corny or too trite? do I have anything to say? or worth listening to?  I’ve been told I’m funny, but I’m only funny when I’m not thinking about trying to be funny.

So I’m in my 50s, but feel like I’m a child, particularly when I’m pissed off.  I have a husband who is both my best friend and worst enemy, depending on my demeanor.  I have kids who I love fiercely yet drive me crazy daily.  I am an orphan, having already been through the sandwich and buried both parents.  I have siblings who I’m so close to but have to be guarded with because I don’t want to give them too much vulnerability ammunition (a treasured family value).  I have two very cute, crazy, smelly dogs who I’d like to kick out of my house whenever they crap on my kitchen floor. I am a walking contradiction.

So I’m also a middle school teacher.  Anytime I tell someone what I do I am given sympathy.   It feels good until I realize they pity me.  Hmmm.

So.  I am problem solver.  A director.  In charge.  In certain ways, I am dripping in life experience.  I plan.  I satisfy needs.  I make it happen.  I tend to react.  I’m quick-tempered.  A match-head.  I adore laughing.  I love and hate sarcasm.  I’m rarely lonely.  I try not to lie.  I watch too much tv and I HATE laundry.  And I’m always on a quest.  So what.  So what’s for dinner?



CPB cottage

I wrote this 3+ years ago–not much has changed about wanting to head to my happy place, except we now have internet, giving me the ability to binge watch my programs!  Otherwise, I love to escape and have a little time to myself.  It’s a requirement for my sanity…

“Time to head to my happy place.  The beach.  My little creative vehicle.  A place I call my own.  Alone or with others.  My colors: blue and yellow.  Long walks on the beach.  No phone.  No internet.  Limited cable.

That being said, I still bring my self.  Hello self.  Changing locations doesn’t change me.  I am still crabby and menopausal.  I just don’t have other personalities to contend with.  Am I edging towards spending too much time alone?  Possibly.  Do I resent people when I have to re-enter my reality.  Sometimes.

Nevertheless, I go because I am drawn to it.  I am drawn to the comfort.  I go because it’s different than this reality, where I am always on call and there’s always a mess to clean up.

In order to make the most of it, I go with this mantra, one that has worked for many years: be here now.  And maybe, next time, I’ll take someone with me.  Maybe.”

CPB cottage