Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Game

I got home just in time for William's first varsity game. It hadn't really sunk in that it was the "big time" in a small town until last night when they came running onto the field with the band playing, the cheerleaders cheering, and the crowd applauding.

High school football is a big thing in our community. We have a wonderful football program that not only supports any kid who wants to play (no one gets cut from the team unless they don't show up and work hard), the fans also support most of the equipment and expenses for all the other school sport teams. There were over two thousand people at the games last night, that's about 20% of the town's population. I'm not surprised. I was working the snack bar during the JV game and it kept over a dozen parent volunteers running nonstop the entire time I worked.

We were expecting William to play center but he surprised us by playing another position. After the game he told us the decision to move him had been made just an hour before the game. Fortunately he'd learned the plays for both positions.

He got his foot twisted in a pile in the third quarter. He limped off the field where the sideline doctor looked him over, taped him up, and had him try to walk it out. He went back in before the fourth quarter and finished off the game but I set him up with ibuprofen, elevation and ice later at home. Someone asked if he we were going to take him to see our doctor but since our doctor is also the team doctor, who already let him go back on the field, I figured we didn't need to go in to the office just to have him tell us the same thing he told William already, that he probably sprained his Achilles Tendon.

We're a small school in a very large state. In the team standings we're somewhere in the middle of a thousand or so schools. We played Chico last night, who are ranked in the top 10% of the teams in California. I think you tell by William's tired by happy face that we beat'em, by a none too shabby lead!

Today, for the most part, William's been laying on the couch in front of the television, letting his foot rest while he watches the first day of college football. And pretty soon we'll be adding pro football watching to the shedule. That's our autumn.

Back from San Diego

I know I mentioned I'd be going down to San Diego but I didn't say much else about it as I brought my laptop and had planned on posting regularly while there. Unfortunately the kids' wi-fi wasn't working and their computer, which we all were sharing, runs really, reallllllly slllllowww-w-w-w-w-wly. I didn't want to waste my time online when I only had a few days to visit, so I just checked for personal mail and did a few fast online tasks each day and left it at that.

But now I'm home again. Not organized yet, and a bit low on sleep, so I'll just post a few of the many pics I snapped and leave it at that for today. I had a really nice time. The whole point of the trip was just to spend time with my family, so we took it day by day with flexible plans.

While Joe visited a friend in the hospital, we went up the hill to Balboa Park and had just enough time to ride the carousel. Joli was pretty excited about riding a kitty.

They recently lost two pets, a cat and a turtle, but here's the new member of their family. He's a rare breed (at least here in the U.S.) called a Dutch Shepherd. This giant pup is only four months old! His name is Cota (short for Dakota) and he's a bit klutzy and sometimes forgets to follow the rules but hey, he's a puppy. He's very calm and good natured.

Joli trying to fill her daddy's shoes.

I was taking photos of her in this cute little turquoise outfit for this week's turquoise theme for the Shades of Inspiration Challenge I participate in when I got this unexpected expression. She looks like she's plotting something here. What sinister thoughts are lurking in that smart little brain of hers? hehehe

Here's a photo of Joe, Lisa, and Joli in the Gaslamp District downtown San Diego. We couldn't get Joli to look at the camera because just off to the side were a gaggle of gorgeous young women who were giggling and sweet talking Joli. "Isn't she adorable!" "Look at that smile" "Oh, she's so cute!" Giggle, giggle. Joli was giving her fans all her attention.

More cute grandbaby pics to follow, I'm sure. In the meantime, I'll put up some photos of the beauty and architecture of San Diego over on Laume's Studio.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's that Time of the Year Again!

Yes, football season has arrived. It's always a love/hate thing for me. We've been sitting on assorted sports bleachers cheering on our progeny for over twenty years now, the last ten heavily devoted to football as we've seen one son through high school and college teams and then William through youth football and now high school.

I'm a fairly big football fan myself, been watching it for most of my life, was pretty fanatical about it during the 49'ers Golden Years. Got out of watching pro football when we didn't have television for a year, it's not the same when you can't see the games live. But then got back into watching the kids' games and now also t.v. football with William.

By the end of every season I'm always glad to see the season end. It's not that I don't enjoy the games but the long distance travel every other weekend or so for away games, and figuring out what to do with our dog on an away game weekend, always a lot of work and money. Too, there are a lot of things I'd like to do in the autumn but my weekends are completely booked from late August through the middle of November every year. Still, I'm always up for a new season when they arrive.

Hubby was very excited to go to the game. He has his football hat and his football shirt on. Doesn't he look armless in this photo? Happy. But armless. It was actually William's shirt and William made him take it off so Hubby had to buy one for himself at the game.

The bleachers filled up fast. This is a football loving town. During the time our older son played, the team was virtually unbeatable for almost a decade. We're not quite that legendary any longer, but we still often play and beat teams much larger than ours. Because our town is so far away from any other town even close to our size, our away games involve driving two to six hours EACH WAY. Still, we often have as many fans stuffed into the always inadequate visitor's bleachers as the home team we're playing. Home games draw in half the community and in a really exciting game the cheers from the stadium can be heard anywhere in town.

Last night wasn't actually the first game. We always start the year off with a scrimmage called The Grizz Feed.. All the parents bring a dessert or salad and the snack bar provides grilled hamburgers and drinks. For $5 you get an all you can eat plate. After the game all the players eat for free. Everyone gets a chance to mull about and say hi to everyone you haven't seen since last year. Well, it's a small town, we probably have seen just about everyone over the summer, but it's still fun to all be together again.

I like this photo that shows the bright lights and festivities, behind everyone the big, dark woods. I really enjoy people watching at the games. Especially the clusters of teens. It brings back the "feeling" of when I was in high school, how different the world seemed to me then, how life could center around something as silly as an upcoming party or one boy who didn't know you existed. Sigh. I was naively and happily oblivious to most of the things I'd learn to worry about even just a few years later. I also like to watch the little kids who run wild getting dusty and tired. About the only people who sit in the bleachers for most of the game are the parents and grandparents.

William is varsity (mostly junior and seniors) this year. He's got a shiny new uniform and a new number as a senior still on the team had his number. Here he is stretching out before the game, wondering why his mom is being such a nerd and taking photos of him.

They played football for a bit. We watched some, chatted with friends some, went back to the tents for more brownies and potato salad some.

Being varsity is a big thing in this town. They have all these traditions and routines that only the varsity players get to do, a reward for sticking it out for all the previous years. This is them after the scrimmage doing their jumping all over each other routine.

We hung out a bit afterwards while William got his food, waiting for him to be ready to go home, until it finally dawned on his parents that ..... Duh! William drives now. He had his own car there. We didn't need to stay. Sniff. Kids grow up so fast.

I'm looking forward to taking a lot of photos this year as I have my new camera with twice the telephoto capacity. I'll try not to deluge you with too many purple and gold pics. But I can't make any promises.....

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I was trying to take photos of my faded prayer flags the other day. My new camera and I are still working out our focus issues, especially on macro. I'm sure it's nothing a little reading-of-the-instructions couldn't fix, but that would be too easy, yes? I took a number of photos and when I uploaded them I was particularly struck by these two that are almost identical, except for what the camera eye is focused upon.

(Speaking of focus, Hubby just came in the room, obviously bored and wanting my attention, asking questions about all manner of inconsequential issues. I've been puttering for hours with nothing that needed my attention, no focus required whatsoever, and the SECOND I started to focus on this blog post, in he wandered. Same chemical reaction with kids. They're busy doing their own thing but if you try to have a conversation with another adult or start a project that requires you to focus, suddenly they're all about being with you and wanting your attention!)


This photo is obviously a close up of a faded prayer flag hanging in front of a tree branch.

And this photo is just as obviously a photo of a tree branch, seen through a faded prayer flag.

It makes me think of a number of different things. The saying "She can't see the forest for the trees" for one. And the old parable about the blind men and an elephant. Whether it's a number of people trying to agree on one issue or just you trying to choose amongst many issues, it's all about focus.

I had my book club meeting last night. I've been worrying and stressing over this for weeks now. My house was a mess and I've been chipping away at making it presentable piece by piece. The last couple of days I finally got down to the nitty gritty of basic cleaning and making some hard, fast decisions about the piles and clutter that would be the most obvious to visitors.

The plan had been to have a tea party sort of theme and although I cleaned the main common areas of the house, to have the meeting in my garden. It didn't work out that way though. It was too windy to set up outside but too hot in the house to have hot tea. So instead I had an ICED tea party and offered trays of tiny sandwiches, hummus with crackers and veggies, fruits, pickles, etc. The basics. I put out a huge bowl of ice and three flavors of iced tea, as well as offering juice and coffee.

Losing my point here for a moment, let me happily announce that the gathering was a surprising success. People seemed happy, comfortable, delighted with my home and the food and drink I put out. They were entertained by Rosie and loved my cats, especially my fattest-cat-ever, Ginny Weasley, who graciously went from person to person allowing herself to be petted, which took some time as there's a lot of her to pet.

It was really odd but pleasant to see my world through "strangers" (we've mostly all just met a few times) eyes and I was sort of startled to discover that I actually LIKE entertaining. I had somehow decided that I used to like to entertain but that I no longer liked it. That it was way too much work. What I realized yesterday was the actual party specific work was minimal. A couple hours of cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, general pick up, would probably suffice for any party. And it took me a couple of hours at most to set up, cook, display, and clean up afterwards.

The part that was overwhelming and hard and made me come up with the "too much work" idea was all the extra work it took me to get my house back to where I really wish it was all the time. The half finished remodeling and redecorating, the piles of overflow that don't have a place to call their own in the middle of things, the cat hair and dust that I can't keep up with because I'm always behind. So, if could just get to that balance of chaos/order that I want to achieve, my guess is that a lot of things that seem TOO DIFFICULT will perhaps not be difficult at all.

So, back to focus. The last minute adrenalin before the meeting honed my focus to a extremely fine point. I didn't have time to pick up a box and and spin my brain around a dozen different things I could do with it - should I sort it out? Put things away? Which things should I keep? Where should I store them? Should I give them to someone? Should I clean the dust off first? Should I put it all in a smaller box? Should I put it in the garage with other similar boxes? Should I just put the box back down where I picked it up from and deal with it all later? Or deal with it never?

Instead my focus was on one thing - not the box, but the end result. I needed a clean room and I needed it IMMEDIATELY. The box no longer loomed as a huge, overwhelming decision. It had been relegated to being a minor step in much bigger issue. And miraculously, my mind felt sharp and clear. At least a dozen clutter hot spots that I tackled seemed almost stupid. The solutions were so easy, why had they languished for so long not dealt with? Other things required required a bit of mental "elbow grease" but still, the answers weren't on the level of "what is the meaning of life?". (Yes, I know, the answer is 42.)

Another story that comes to mind is the one with the one about the rocks, pebbles, sand and the glass jar. If you do not pick your own focus, if you let small every day things pick it for you, then you can't fit everything into your life that you need to be content. It's such an obvious truth that it should be easy to practice. But what's easy is to lose your focus. There's a million things out there jumping up and down, waving their metaphoric arms, shouting our name (with it's metaphoric mouth), trying to get us to pay attention to it. Most of us are terrible at tuning it, all those millions of its, out and keeping to our chosen focus. So we run about dealing with a million different issues instead of dealing with a few important chosen issues and relegating all the other crap to it's proper, insignifigant place in our life.

It seems like a small thing (all of it seems like just a small thing, it's the mass of all those small things put together that's the problem) but it's probably the most important thing we'll ever learn to do. That's the whole point of meditation. How does one learn to meditate? One learns to still all those multitude of other things we chose not to focus on. They keep trying to get our attention, we keep gently ignoring them. It's not like they ever go away. We just have to remember not to give them our attention for any longer than it takes to dismiss them.

In our nonmeditative life, that means pay attention to them no longer than it takes to deal with them or chose to ignore them. I know that I probably give most details 6,000 percent more time and attention than they actually require to pass them through my consciousness. It's not the details themselves that slow me down so much as the amount of energy and focus I allow them to have, how much time I spend mulling them over, worrying them, twiddling with them.

I had a small poster on my old refrigerator. It has a rambling prose titled "What I Focus on Expands". It starts out:

"I focus my energy on what I want, not on what I don't want. Whatever I place my attention on I energize. Whatever I take my attention away from dissolves. I am always at choice to where I fix my gaze."

It goes on and on saying the same thing from different directions. Talk about focus, this had been stuck to my refrigerator for so long that the entire poster had become completely invisible to me for I don't know how long. Magnets held it right in the center of my refrigerator, the refrigerator that I opened and shut at least a dozen times a day, and yet it came as somewhat of an unexpected discovery to "find it" when I took it off the refrigerator preparing for the new refrigerator delivery. It makes me wonder how many other things I tend to forget simply because my focus has wandered.

I'm going to try to work on my focus. On focusing my focus. Keeping it honed like it was yesterday to a small enough point that it's got energy, it's got muscle behind it. I'm not so much worried about finding the right focus as I am on staying focused in any particular moment, at any particular task. I think the more one does so, the easier it gets. It's not that I haven't been taught this lesson before. I've learned it and even reaped its rewards over and over. But then I lose control of who's in charge, and life takes off with my focus like a pack of monkeys who've gotten into a fruit basket. They rip it to pieces, fighting over the juiciest bits, squash a good bit of it under foot in the process, and then take off for the trees, scattering far and wide.

I like that simile, it's clever and the whole image seems sort of sweet. The monkeys are cute. But in real life, it's not cute. It's not funny. In real life I really don't want to look at the number of hours, days, weeks, years, I've let the monkeys destroy. I don't want to think of the emotional weight lack of focus has created for me to carry. I want to work on picking up my focus again and getting rid of some of that emotional weight. It felt good, yesterday, to be in charge. I want to be in charge more often.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cooler Weather, Cleaner Toilets and.... Paris

Last night the hot, muggy system we've had for the last week disappeared. I don't know if it just went *poof* or blew off to bother people elsewhere but all I know is it's gone. The first cool sleeping night since Oregon. Sigh. Blissful sigh. Today was more wonderful weather, the high was around 80 but by evening it was chilly enough again for a sweater if you wanted, or shut the windows if you wanted. Not that I wanted either, I'm really lovin' the cool, but you could.

I expected to go crazy cleaning today as I have my new reading group arriving on Wednesday evening for a meeting. In my house. And I'm supposed to serve something to eat and drink too. So I have to have time for that as well. In my fantasies I'm this amazing hostess, a cross between Martha Stewart, Tasha Tudor, and M.F.K. Fisher perhaps. In reality my hostessing skills are more a mixture of The Mad Hatter, Amy Sedaris, and Mrs. Weasley.

People seem to like visiting me, but I'm much better at the unexpected visitor where I can excuse away my mess by claiming to be in the middle of remodeling or moving or just getting back from a trip to Machu Pichu. I'm not very good at planned visitors who show up to practically the same level of chaos but leave me with a lot more challenging task of explaining it. Uhm, I'm involved in a decade long experiment with a secret but very important organization measuring domestic entropy and time distortions in disorder or randomness in a closed family system?

Well, anyway, that all day cleaning frenzy got procrastinated down into an afternoon cleaning frenzy and then detoured because of more football tasks and family phone calls and finally ended up being a couple of hours of cleaning late tonight, including the front bathroom which I've left to the men to clean for the last year. BAD IDEA. Not the scrubbing of it, but the having left it to men to clean for so long. I wouldn't be surprised if my arms and shoulders are sore tomorrow morning. Odd, once I got going, I really enjoyed turning chaos into clean and orderly space. (don't tell that secret organization that I messed with their experiment!)

Tomorrow the plan is I clean some more as well as see the doctor for that tooth I broke last week. Shudder. I won't think about that right now. There's nothing for it but to go in and get the news on what needs to be done. Hopefully my panic over getting my house clean and something baked in time will cancel out my dread of visiting the dentist.

And now, let's forget all that and do something completely relaxing and pleasant - look at some pretty photos of Paris. Pull up a chair and... er, here, let me move that cat. And brush off a bit of the cat hair. Okay. Ready?

This was a courtyard just off Place des Vosges. I was taking a photo of the colorful window and the beautiful winding vine when this young Parisienne thought he'd make the photo a bit more interesting for me.

The fountain (not running while we were there) in the middle of what my Hubby dubbed "his park". It was nicely situated with Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co. Books, and a cybercafe with American keyboards all just across the street in three different directions. It was the one place in Paris he didn't mind being left alone without feeling lost. (Not that he knew how to get anywhere from here, he just didn't mind being here until I came back for him.)

Sam, Kyla, and Hubby just chillin' with the Seine lapping at our feet.

Beautiful old building, a sparkling fountain, late afternoon sun filtering through pale green spring leaves, a pretty street lamp, and a nice corner cafe. It doesn't get much more picturesque than this. Oh, and check it out all you faery lovers - just through the left edge of the water spray in the fountain, you can make out a pair of white faery wings. They were attached to a young bride-to-be being feted by her friends. It seems to be a tradition to go out dressing up the bride-to-be, and sometimes the rest of the party, in something odd like masks, hats, wings..... and go about celebrating publicly. I love this idea!

Walking along above the Seine late in the afternoon. So much to see, so much to photograph. Or maybe I'll simply stroll along with a quiet smile and enjoy the moment.

More faery wings over on Laume's Studio today.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Faerieworlds - Other Beings and Creatures

Although the overwhelming majority of attendees at the festival were faeries, that's not to say that there weren't a lot of others there as well. So many that I could have taken hundreds of photos and still not captured all the variety of beings. But here's a few I caught with my lens.


A shaman?


Even a few witches. (Actually, there were quite a few witches there, although many of them were dressed as faeries.) This one flew in on a vacuum cleaner.

An ogre

Perhaps some sort of Viking medicine man?

There were lots of horned ones.

We weren't sure what this creature was either, but we're pretty sure it was an elemental. It moved very slowly, never spoke, and didn't even seem completely aware of the creatures around it all the time.

The Greenman

A dragon

There was an entire tribe of mud people.

And even some creatures - here's a bumble bee dancing with a wee faery.

There were lots of pirates. The guys really liked to be pirates! Did you know they have entire festivals just for pirates!?

A clown

And I'm not sure.... a troll? A dwarf? Not pointy enough to be an elf.

Fauns both male and female. Here's a female one dancing with a friend.

Wizards were at hand of course. There always seems to be at least one or two wizards about in every crowd, even seemingly ordinary ones, yes?

And he is a......?

A tree sprite or perhaps a young ent.

Another dragon, this one from the Eastern world.

A few knights kept things from getting too rowdy. When they weren't getting rowdy themselves!

More pirates!

A Pic Warrior dressed in woad.

And perhaps the oddest creature of all, a few humans were mingling in the crowd.

Over on Laume's Studio today I started a series of posts showing all the amazing and unlimited variety of wings I saw at the festival. Go check 'em out.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thoughts on Summer's End and Some Chocolate

Sleeping Beauties times two.

I've whined about this already several times .... I think. Maybe I was smart and just thought about it and then wisely chose not to post about it. In any case, here I go again..

I feel like summer was in some ways a complete bust this year. Not the things I did this summer - having my kids all home, greeting a new grandbaby, going to Faerieworlds. I mean summer as a backdrop was a bust. It was so hot and so smoky for so long that a lot of the summer activities I'd looked forward to doing just didn't happen.

I didn't garden past a week in late spring. I didn't do a lot of walking. I didn't finish cleaning the back courtyard so I could enjoy my new cafe set and fountain. I didn't have any tea parties or games nights (because they would have required too much cleaning and preparation). I didn't clean out my garage or have my yard sale finally or make much art or finish painting inside or...... All those things that required physical energy were just beyond me in those weather and health conditions. The only times I felt 100% were when I was in Washington and later Oregon and the temperatures were temperate and the air was clean.

And now here it is, between harvest celebrations on the calendar and what do I have to harvest? Not much from the garden. Not much project wise. I can accept that we just had to muddle through best we could. It's not like I'm the only one who had to deal with the fires or the odd summer! My life was touched only peripherally compared to many. I'm just feeling a little sad and bittersweet about it.

But let's flip it around and end on an upbeat. I've felt really inspired since returning from the faery festival. The weather has been hot and muggy lately, but there are signs of autumn, so I'm just working around the edges of the day knowing that cooler temperatures have to be just around the corner. Or a couple of corners. Although I'm not working as quickly as I'd wish, I'm at least finally getting some stuff done. Maybe I'll get some of those to-do's off my list by Mabon, who knows.

And I have a trip to look forward to as well. I know I've been saying I want to stay home for a change, but it's a last minute planned, pressure free trip. I'm going alone so I don't have to coordinate pet care or pack for the family or anything. I'll be behind the wheel both physically and figuratively, so it should be relaxing. In a week I'm taking off for San Diego to visit with my son Joe once more this year before he ships out to an overseas tour of duty. But I'm gonna try not to think about that. I'm just gonna enjoy his company, enjoy my grandbaby and DIL, and walk a bit in the ocean waves.

And finally, I promised you chocolate:

We stopped at this quirky chocolate shop in Ashland on our way up to Faerieworlds and I just now retrieved the photo I took of my purchase from my other camera. Almost too beautiful to eat! (although, I got over that pretty quick. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. All gone!)

I see they're available by catalog now - Silly Rabbit Chocolates. We discovered it a couple summers ago. You might remember me blogging about it. I think I showed you a photo of the front of their shop where they have a bubble machine going. How could anyone resist stopping to play in the bubbles, yes? I was happy to see that they were still in business. Their chocolates are very expensive, which is why I only bought a box of four. But oh, worth the money. They specialize in the unexpected - chocolates with flavors like pear, forest berries, basil, blood orange, s'mores, rosemary.... We also bought a bag of their specialty made focaccia garlic crackers. Yum!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Library Hours, Newspapers, Teens, Weather, and Public Schools

The local bars are open almost round the clock, seven days a week but the local library just reduced it's hours again and is now only open 25 hours a week, none of those hours on evenings or weekends. It's so frustrating. Sometimes I think they should just burn all the books and be done with it for all they seem to care about the community doing any actually reading.


My husband has had an ongoing "spite fence" sort of argument running with our local paper delivery guy for almost two years. The other day it all came to a head and the newspaper took back their newspaper tube, returned our money, and refuses to deliver the paper to us any longer. Sigggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh. The delivery guy, the supervisor, and finally the publisher himself all acted unprofessionally and sometimes like outright assholes but the problem is that my hubby isn't coming out of this smelling so clean and pure himself. Sometimes I just want to slap men. Really. Slap them. And then send them back to preschool where maybe this time around they can learn how to play well with others.


William called me from his friend James' house down the street, he wanted me to drive him and James across town to their friend Jake's house. I had just come back from running errands and, frankly, I didn't want to go out again. But I didn't want to dismiss them outright either. So I said "I'll make a deal with you. It will take me about fifteen or twenty minutes to drive you two over there, so that's how much time I'll lose doing something around the house. If the two of you do something for me first, I'll drive you both over there."

"What do you want us to do?" William asked warily.

Thinking fast, "Pick up apples in the backyard."

"For how long?"

"Ten minutes. Both of you."

He discussed it with James. "Okay."

I hung up and went to get my shoes on and get ready when the phone rang again.

"Uh Mom, Becky (James' mom) is gonna give us a ride instead. She loves her children more than you do." Translation: She's not gonna make them do anything in return for her time.

"Fine by me. I didn't want to go out again anyway."


The smoke had finally gone away (or rather, gone elsewhere I suppose, knock on wood) and the temperatures were in the low 80's and then about four days ago we started a humid and hot spell. Hot we're used to around here, but humid is a rare creature in this neck of the woods. I've been miserable. About an hour ago the quality of the light changed and the wind, which is warm, picked up. A storm is brewing. Also rare for summer. I can practically feel the barometer dropping. I sure hope we get something wet out it. Maybe that's what's been making me feel restless and off. It's true y'know, the older you get the more your body has it's own weather forecasting tools built right into it.


We received William's STAR testing results from last school year's spring semester in the mail today. For those of you who aren't familiar with STAR testing, I believe it's specific to California schools (although it might be a national testing system), it's those bubble sheet tests the kids do so that the government and other officials can gauge how well (or not) the school district is meeting standards and educating students. Unlike SAT scores, the test isn't meant to assess an individual student's progress, only the school's progress, and I think only the parent sees the individual student's test results.

William's test scores were all over the place. A few were below average, most were average or above average. He scored exceptionally high in Political Analysis, Post WWII History, and Science Investigation and Experimentation. He also scored above average in almost every other history and science category. He scored below average in Language Arts and Alegebra. These latter two scores surprised me as I know he's so far above his peers in reading comprehension that most adults don't understand his sophisticated wit and a lot of his vocabulary (just don't ask him to SPELL any of it!) and he enjoys math of all kinds and get's A's in his algebra classes.

I shared the print out with him and asked "What's with these math scores? Why are they so low? I know you do well in math."

"What is this again? Oh, the STAR testing? Well, those scores don't mean anything."

The kids know the "score". "So, you mean you didn't even try?" I said. "I would have have liked to see what you could really do."

"Well, you have my grades for that." William said as he went back to heating himself a couple of bean burritos in the microwave.

We both laughed. We've had an ongoing issue with him doing well in his classes. His teachers all like him, he participates in class, does all his work, but has a bad habit of not turning it all in on time or sometimes at all and so his grades don't come anywhere close to reflecting his skill level! We keep trying to impress upon him that even though he knows and we know and his teachers know that his grades aren't really anything but a mark on a paper, that those marks have the power to open or close options for him in the future. If you're gonna play the game, in this case the academic game, then you should be sure you know all the rules and play it to win.

""It's just, since you had to take the testing, I just wish you could have made an effort, that's all."

He was putting yogurt on top of his heated burritos. He turned and gave an sigh. "Mom, NO ONE makes an effort on those tests!"

And suddenly I realized what a scary and stupid thing this really was. It's true. The kids all know that the tests don't count for anything and it's undoubtedly true that all but those rare kids who like taking tests just for the fun of it (like me, I'm such a nerd) probably make minimum effort or less. Come to think of it, I remember one of my other sons, a teenager that was perfectly capable of acing any skill or class he put his mind to, confided to me that one year he just filled out his test paper so the bubbles made a pretty pattern. The other son reminisced that by the end of the day he would get tired and bored with it all and just start filling in bubbles randomly.

Yet here are politicians, school boards, polling institutes, academics, and school districts making decisions based on the results. And those decisions are making a difference in schools, teachers, and students lives. Too, think of all the public monies being spent in the testing!!! When you think about it, the entire process is beyond ludicrous. I have to say, it doesn't do much to shore up my confidence in the institution of public education.

Restless Moonlight

Today, which by that I mean yesterday, as I'm writing this at 2 am, was "one of those days." Not an extreme "one of those days" but still, not the best day I've ever had. Eventually it just devolved into a day to get through with hopes that tomorrow (today) the temperatures would drop and the cheer factor would rise.

It was hot, hubby and I were bickering, kids were traveling (always sets me on edge with worry), my most recent home on the net was down all day, and we discovered another one of our credit card numbers had been stolen. My son's card was hacked into two weeks ago, I discovered my number had been stolen last week, and today we found out hubby's number had been being used on a Canadian holiday that we weren't taking. (Reminds me of those old credit card commercials that were much funnier than when it happens to you in real life.)

Things weren't all bad though. I got some decluttering done, FINALLY put the new plates I bought last December into the cabinet, had a nice lunch with hubby (where we took a two hour break from the heat and the bickering), drew some chalk faeries on the sidewalk, had a nice chat with a friend, watched new episodes of Monk and Psych tonight, and the teen has decided to be pleasant again.

But tonight it was still a hot, restless, almost full moon sort of night. I was suffering from heartburn if I tried to sit down or, heaven forbid, lie down to sleep. So I went outside where it was marginally cooler.

Doesn't it look sort of like a glowing face?

My little ghost fox by the light shining through the front screen door.

A cauldron of white miniature petunias glowing in the same light. I didn't plant them in there, by the way. They just appeared like, well, like magic!

And who knew that chalk faeries glow in the dark!