Archive for July, 2006

Desert dirt sucks

July 31, 2006 By: nooccar Category: House

Elsewhere we wrote about the wonderfully facetious experience of having out south of the border friends install our new block fence. That was in April, and we’ve done very little with the yard since -to the point where we had a moratorium on the grass. Our dog loved rolling around in the dirt lot that we called our backyard. That was the last few months, and even yesterday when we let him out to pee, he ran out through the leaves fallen from our Ash tree.

Then today we came home, and we had grass. Grass. Green stuff jutting from our dirt lot. Grass now grows overnight in the desert. It’s like Poison Ivy blew her sweetened breath on our back lot. We have grass and heaven-forbid we’re considering actually turning on our sprinkler system to make that grass grow faster.

Those Stickers…

July 27, 2006 By: nooccar Category: Miscelany, Politics, Religion, Work

Sitting in Starbuck’s with a colleague last night I had that feeling you get when someone is staring a hole through you. You know the one, where you’ve got a "Kick Me" sign on your back or a stringy booger grasping to the tip of your nose without you knowing. Looking across the room a skinny man with a bike messenger cap, orange shirt and short shorts was staring at my laptop. At one point he even hunched over since it was angled open. At this point I could just imagine him running over and slamming the lid closed and shouting obscenities at me and my opinions.

My laptop lid is covered in stickers. Maybe because the damn thing got scratched to hell and back over the years or maybe because I want to subtly tell people what I think. Now stickers like "It will be a great day when schools get the money they need and the air force needs to hold a Bake Sale to buy a Bomber" tell you a little about what I think of the military and politics, without jumping down your throat with my opinions. Or the other about television, parents and babysitters. Sometimes I fear telling people my opinions because their opinions may differ. I get tired, and I often think I write better than I can verbalize. Therefore, I’d rather write about my feelings, opinions, and desires. And sometimes I don’t even do that. Sometimes I just don’t. I keep them elsewhere and push them aside. But other times I go out and buy one of Those Stickers to just see who peers over their Venti-Iced-Fat-Free-No-Whip-White-Mocha-Add-a-Shot at my computer lid.

First Day of School

July 24, 2006 By: nooccar Category: Work

Today was my first day back with students. The eighth time. I cannot believe I’ve been teaching for 8 years, and I remember when I was teaching in Casa Grande and wanted to run home to Pittsburgh. I thought for sure after two years I’d leave, take my wife and move home. That never happened. Other than the weather, I love it here. I have wonderful friends (Dan, Madeline, Ryan, Laura, Liza and everyone).

So today was the first day back, and I even began a brand new Creative Writing course. It’s interesting to teach an elective since there are kids who don’t really want to be there. Then there are kids really excited to be there. It will be a good class, and I started a creative writing blog for the class elsewhere. I don’t know if I will publicize it here since it’s being used for my class. I need to protect the kiddies.

Every year I worry about the first day, and this is the first time I really felt totally comfortable with it. The kids even laughed (occasionally) at my stupid jokes about Dante licking the inside of Claire’s throat and George, the killer turtle.

Several students were despondent that I was not their AP teacher this morning during zero hour. If Shirley and I could’ve picked and chose our rosters that would be one thing, but we couldn’t. One student was able to switch back, and that’s fine with me. Even one of my bosses said "I know you’d teach anyone, but sometimes you gotta let someone else do it…". Yes, I always like to think I would teach as many as would fit. But I remember last year I had 120 AP kids and essays upon essays sitting on Claire’s stroller that I’d push around campus while people looked at my funnily.  It’s ok. I will be fine, and so will they.

As for Monsoon season, it’s here. The wind chime clang against each other as the wind howls and whips the Ash leaves around my dirt yard. I love it. And yes, Donna’s right, Pittsburgh could’ve only been better if had rained every single day.

Back home and back to work

July 24, 2006 By: turtlegirl Category: Adams, College, Dante, House, Leisure, Pets, Pittsburgh, Travel, Work

Things will never be the same again.  Not that they ever could be, but I am occasionally a dreamer.  Especially when I’m being lazy and it is easier to dream about something than to actually do it.

But to imitate Devon, I digress.  Last week, Devon and I returned from a wonderful two week vacation in Pennsylvania.  It was relaxing and joyful.  The weather was wonderful.  Only two humid days and one day of rain.  (Athough Devon would have loved the weather even if it had rained each day).

Mini-trips to Conneaut and Warren were made to visit relatives.  Philly relatives made the trek to PGH at the latter part of our vacation.  We packed the time between trips by getting a mani/pedi (me and mom), attending my 11 year high school reunion, seeing Pirates of the Carribean 2 AT THE THEATER, visiting the zoo, going to the mall, celebrating Meghan’s 25th birthday, taking a Ducky Tour of the city and doing a few other random things.  Claire had a great time with her peeps and learned to speak a few new words – all of which are acceptable at daycare, so no damage has been done – yet!

We returned Sunday afternoon after a day of travel to 94 degree temperatures.  No, not outside (it is over 100 in AZ right now).  The AC at our house broke while on vaca and we had to vacate and stay with Ryan, Laura and Emma.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your hospitality!!  Devon and Claire battled it out in the heat temporarily on Monday while the AC guy replaced the transformer and wiring.  Good news – it didn’t cost too much.  Better news – AC is now working.  Woo-hoo!

While Devon and Claire were home, I spent my first day back at work.  Now considering that my job is the same, it shouldn’t be too different, right?  Wrong.  Gail is gone!  :(….  (I literally cried about this many times since she announced her retirement in May).  Now Jim is in.  OK, Jim is a nice guy, but he is not Gail and I quickly note MANY differences.  It has been a rough week back at work and I am now crossing my fingers, legs and arms that I’ll make it through the year.  Same job, different boss actually makes the job very different when your title is Administrative Assistant.  Your job is to assist the boss, so the actual person in the position has a HUGE effect on your job.  Well, I guess I’ll survive.  If you want more details, you’ll have to ask me in person because I don’t want to pull a dooce.

Universal Cruelty

July 24, 2006 By: turtlegirl Category: Miscelany

I can’t believe that I punished myself last night by tuning into the Miss Universe pagent. What was I thinking?  After scouring the channels and checking the DVR, I settled on the pagent.  What a desperate move…

I tuned in as the top 20 finalists were named, then labored through the swimsuit competition, immediately elimated those whose ribs jutted out further than their breasts.  After naming the top 10 (I picked 5!), the evening dress "competition" ensued.  Could some of these dresses even be considered gowns?  Paraguay – what were you thinking?  The mess of a metal contraption that Puerto Rico assembled was my second to least favorite.  USA – loved the gold neckline and backdrop, but the bottom was distracting.  Japan – love it!  Switzerland – definitely a good color choice. 

The field was narrowed to five and two of my picks were still included:  USA and Japan, although Switzerland had grown on me.  The questions were probably the highlight of the evening, as I enjoyed the women competely ignoring their interpreters and rambling in foreign languages.  Now, on to the results.  5th place:  USA.  Whatever!  Do they keep USA around in the finals so that viewers don’t tune out?  4th place:  Paraguay.  Good!  3rd place:  Switzerland.  What?  Are you sure?  You didn’t actually intend to put Puerto Rico in the top two did you?  (Yes, I was talking outloud to the TV at this point). 

OK, I’m holding my breath.  You have to pick Japan; she is so spunky and energetic and cute.  Come on, pick Japan.  Dammit.  Are you serious?  (I throw the remote).  Puerto Rico beats Japan.

I get up and storm out of the room telling Devon that this is the reason I don’t watch these shows and to never let me do that to myself again.  You know, because it is all his fault.

JC Penney

July 23, 2006 By: turtlegirl Category: Leisure, Miscelany

Devon and I don’t shop.  Often.  Well, not power-shopping or mall shopping unless it is Christmas-time.  Usually we spend time at Target or the grocery store picking up weekly necessities.

Claire I decided to pickup my new glasses at JC Penney on Friday and browse the selections prior to their Saturday door-buster blowout.  Briefly looking through the misses section, I found a whole corner of clearanced goods.  Jackpot!  I braved the aisles with Claire reaching out to grab every hanging tag she could see.  I stacked item after item onto the stroller and squished us into a small dressing room.  Alas!  Two suits fit!  Grabbing them, a pair of pants, and two shirts, Claire and I squeezed our way back out of the dressing room and made our way to the cashier.  As she was totalling the purchase, I offhandedly asked if I could have the receipt discounted if I returned during the sale the next day with the appropriate coupon that I procured upon entry to the store.  She gave me a strange look and said that the sale was today and tomorrow.  What?  I can use the coupon today?  Score!  10 more bucks to spend elsewhere…

Claire and I moved on to the rest of the mall, briefly entering a department store just to use their elevator, browsing the JC Penney home store for decorating ideas, perusing the puppies at the pet store, then stopping to have lunch.  Claire enjoyed my Chinese food, especially the fried rice, which she devoured. 

To get back to the car, we had to go back through JC Penney.  I walked a different route than I had left the store earlier in the day.  Guess what?  I found the suit section!  I also regrettably went through the juniors section and picked up a few t-shirts and dresses to try on.  As I entered the fitting room, I noticed the "Please limit your selections to 6" sign, looked down at the 30+ items on the stroller and pushed forward.  Luckily this fitting room had a really big stall.  About half the suits fit, none of the junior’s shirts fit (duh!), and a few other items worked out – luckily a few of which were little shirts to go under suit jackets. 

Getting to the check out line I was again pleased to find out that I was allowed to use two coupons (in two separate transactions) to get the maximum discount for my purchases.  $35 saved so far!

I got home, put Claire down for a much-deserved nap, then laid out my outfits on the bed to show Devon when he got home.  I was proud of my purchases and proud that I had spent so little money to get so much stuff.  $180 suits for $23.98!!  Devon got home, took one look, and simply said "cool".  Men.

Since students return to school this week, Devon had to go to work Saturday morning.  While he was gone, I decided to teach Claire how to hunt – for bargains!  OK, I really wanted to find a good black suit.  I took long enough that Devon joined us and we both made a few good finds, but no black suit.  I did get a pair of shoes though!

Quote of the Day!

July 19, 2006 By: turtlegirl Category: Miscelany, Politics

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."

~Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), American humorist and lecturer, 1835 – 1910 


July 18, 2006 By: turtlegirl Category: Miscelany, Politics

Apparently George Bush was caught on tape swearing to Tony Blair recently.  Read more about "Good Shit" here.

Warren, PA

July 11, 2006 By: nooccar Category: Leisure, Pittsburgh, Travel

In July 1994 I stayed in my in-laws basement late on the 3rd of July, way before they were my in-laws. I had been dating their daughter for approximately 25.2 days, and the next day we were going to visit her paternal grandparents in Warren, PA. For those people who have no geographical expertise of middle-eastern-northern PA, it’s about 60 miles east of Erie, PA (you know, of Great Lake fame). And about 27 miles from the hometown of Psycho-hose Beast (of whom we do not generally speak). Anyway, we were headed up there in the back of my now-mother-in-law’s blue car, while Meatloaf sang about homeruns and stealing bases.

Warren is a small town near other cool places like Todioute and Tionesta and Kinzua Dam, places where my dad took me hunting, fishing, and camping when I was a wee lad. Near where he worked in the state department early in my parent’s marriage when I may have been a kidney bean, kumquat, and other embryonic fruits and veggies.

In 1994 the whole family was there, including all of my father-in-laws brothers and their families. This time there were less people, but cousin Wendy came down, who is the most ripped chick I personally know. And her man from the winery who makes the nectar of the gods from crushed grapes. And her boys.

We all planned to go the fireworks the other day and beforehand walked around the carnival. Zambelli put on a fab show, and we all sat up in the pickup with Yeungling and cotton candy. I took several pics, and we were there for the weekend. I just love walking around Grammy’s neighborhood. It reminds me of when my dad took me to Potter Country archery hunting when I was a teenager. We’d go up the first week of deer hunting season in October every year with his best friend, Bill. Grammy’s house is near the highway, but it’s like you’re in the woods. Oak and Pine trees line to roads and there small one bedroom house has a huge basement of which I am totally jealous. And several of the trees around there were seedlings with Grampa planted them years ago.


I miss green.

Conneaut Lake Park

July 04, 2006 By: nooccar Category: Pittsburgh, Travel

While in PA we wanted to visit my grandparents who decided to move in with my Uncle’s family in Pymatuning, so we decided we were coming here for the Fourth of July fireworks display at Conneaut Lake park. Last night several of us fished in a private pond in the back of my Uncle’s property and hauled out dozens of Blue Gill and several Bass, and tonight we were off to the park. We were so excited to show Claire the fireworks that we were disappointed when our bubbles were burst because their fireworks were the other night.

We still went to the park with Grumpy, Grammy, cousin Rachael and us, but the park has long since had it’s heyday. It’s a park of old like Palisade’s, and now sits with peeling paint and dilapidated carousel horses who can no longer pump their little legs up and down with the weight of the paucity of small children who still climb onto their back for a buck fifty. Our disappointment grew when they announced the park would close at 9PM tonight after we arrived at 8:15. We threw wiffle balls at cups, shot water guns at hoses, and looked longingly at the funnel cake fry cookers, before throwing in the proverbial towel and pushed Claire’s new umbrella stroller toward the exit.

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