Thursday, May 31, 2007

Riley Has A Lot Of Knowledge

I took Riley to her kindergarten to be assessed. They wanted to meet with each child and see how ready they are for school. Well, according to Mrs. W., Riley "has a lot of knowledge" and she is definately ready for school.

I'm so proud of her.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm Feeling Psychic Today

Anyone care for a reading? Leave your queries in the comments. I shall then consult the spirits on the other side and lend you their guidance. Their beacons of wisdom shall hit me in the forehead and awaken my vocabulary. I shall unleash their knowledge in the public park of this blog. I will try to pick up their psychic poop and dispose of it appropriately.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Career Advisor Was SO Wrong About Me

You Are the Ace of Diamonds

You are a lucky person, and you always seem to find yourself surrounds by pretty, shiny things.
You have a knack for success and money - though your skills can't really be learned or taught.

You shine in a room, and you a have a truly sparkling personality.
A true extrovert, you always are able to share a witty joke or the latest scandalous gossip.

While you do have an eye for bling, you are also quite generous.
A lot of wealth and luck comes your way. And you're not afraid to pass it on.

A gamble you should take: Sports betting

Your friends would describe you as: Captivating

Your enemies would describe you as: Greedy

If you lived in Vegas, you would be: A trophy wife or husband

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I'm Ready To Be Nostalgic For The Nineties

The Reunification of Germany

Street Clowns

The Internet

Generally Worry-Free Air Travel

Dream Dancers

Flannel Shirts

Princess Diana

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Riley's Gallery

The Weed of Weedness

The Toes of One Weed

The Zebra

The Antarctic of Jeannie

The 6,000 Flowers of Roses

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Duck, Duck, Goose...

I'm sitting at the small bar in my garage watching over my children playing in the driveway. They are making chalk drawings and spying on our neighbor. Riley is wearing a cute blue tee and a ruffly blue skirt. Lucy is wearing a red tee from Rawhide in Arizona, khaki shorts and red cowboy boots. I'd post a picture, but my camera battery has bit the dust.

This has been a great vacation. Usually, when I plan my vacations, I usually plan to do something ridiculous like a garage sale or finishing my novel. But this time, I had only vague plans to do some things, if I felt moved so to do. What have I been doing? Tanning. I know! But I'll tell you what, nothing has felt so wonderful as sitting in the sun cooking myself. My arms and shoulders are a lovely bronze and my gold bangle bracelet looks good on me. Also, the heat of the sun is welcome after such a lengthy winter. By the way, last night I dreamed that it snowed; I was really pissed.

I've been doing my homework, like a good little grad student, and I've been trying to keep up with everyone's blogs. But, really, Doc has been hogging the computer, so I haven't been able to do much more than glance around, see that everyone is OK and go back to slacking/tanning. Yesterday, I took Riley to school and then Lucy and I went to the library. I got a bunch of videos, including Popular Mechanics for Kids video on roller coasters. I may not get to an amusement park this vacation, but I will have lived vicariously through this awesome video and Roller Coaster Tycoon 2.

After the library, Lucy and I grabbed a couple of McGriddles and headed to the park. We sat in the morning sunshine and ate our breakfast in the Garden of the Five Senses. When we finished eating we walked around the other Gardens and crossed a bunch of bridges (Canton City Park is silly with bridges) and made our way to the walking path. As we walked the path, we saw a half a dozen geese with their babies, hanging out in the shade. We were able to get up really close and get a good look at them.

We spotted a family of geese as they swam down the stream that runs the length of the park and followed them for a good ways. Then we saw a mother wood duck and her babies swimming the other way. We followed them for a bit. She was much more touchy than the geese were, squawking if we got too close.


Last night Doc and I got to go out. Mom and Dad came over to watch the kids and we headed out to spend our gift card for Chili's that Doc got for Christmas 2005. We stuffed ourselves on cheese dip, steak, corn on the cob and Texas Toast. Seriously, we could barely move. Then we headed over to the Moose to watch American Idol. Snore. I think all the tanning has burned away any enthusiasm I have left for this season. Though, I must say this: BLAAAAAAKE! Eeeeeeeeeeeee!

The lodge was empty, so we decided to jam the jukebox. Then I provided dialogue to the characters from On The Lot, or American Idol, Only With People Trying To Make Movies Instead Of Sing. Not even Carrie Fisher could get me to pay attention to this crap, other than to mock it. So, surprise, the Moose was a bit of an anticlimax. Come on, you guys! Join already.

So, home we went, where I passed out in a haze of steak and Jack Daniels. Ah, vacation.
I'm off to frollick in the sun. But don't worry, we've all got our sunscream on.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's That Time Of Year Again...

I'm off for 11 glorious days. And, if my raise + backpay (from all the way back to July 2006) comes through, we'll be off to Geagua Lake! Let's hope my fellow bureacrats pull it off! Otherwise, the closest I'll come to an amusement park will be playing hours of Roller Coaster Tycoon. All things considered, it looks like it will be a good break.

Friday, May 18, 2007

If We Build It, Will You Come?

My neighbor, Frank, found a classified ad for a farm in Ashtabula, Ohio. The people who are selling it are asking for people to send in $100 and and essay. They will then pick the one they like and give the farm to the winner.

Well, we are all over this idea. In fact, when I chatted with him last night, we came up with the ideas in the previous post. Actually, I didn't mean to post the list, but I left it up anyway. I thought they sounded intriguing.

I have been charged with writing the essay and Frank is putting up the hundred bucks. But I need your help. I'm going to outline the dream here and I want you to let me know what you think. I also want to know if it would be someplace you would like to go for vacation.

The Dream

We would like to create a bed and breakfast that caters to the whims and wants of writers. It would be a place where people go to get some peace and quiet, soak up nature, have time to reflect, talk about ideas around a campfire or fire place. We would also have a first rate chef (Frank) and the kind of kitchen where, if you were a guest and felt like cooking, you could pitch in.

In the winter, we could have "snowed-in weekends," no phones, no TV, just the radio, the fireplace and good company. I would also like to make an arrangement with the local schools and give guests the opportunity to tutor students. Maybe we could bring people in to help tutor the guests too.

If there is enough land, we could set up a golf course that could be used day or night. During the night, Frank thinks we should have food and drink stations at every hole. And lasers to light the course.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ah! Ashtabula!

bed and breakfast
writer's camp
midnight golf

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Interview Granted!

After I completed all the paperwork in triplicate, Grant Miller, of Grant Miller Media, kindly granted my request for an interview. As you will notice he's truly insightful...

1. You were an English major. Kill, fuck or marry - Grendel, John Milton's Satan or Theodore Dreiser.

Sigh. I was not an English major, though I do speak English. But, since I was a well-rounded classicist, I think I can tackle your question with some authority.

Kill: Theodre Dreiser. I would need to off this poor, depressed little midwestern man before he beats me to it. He would totally not be my type as he would bore me to tears, never getting to the point.

Fuck: Grendel. He's the original bad boy. 'Nuff said.

Marry: John Milton's Satan. He just needs the love of a good woman to turn things around and I am that woman.

2. How is it fair that record and entertainment companies reap huge fortunes from "American Idol" while the amatuer performers, often lacking agents or industry knowledge, get only a fraction?

It's not fair at all because life is not fair, sweetie. Anyone who thinks they can stand up to the powers that be in the music industry and maintain their "integrity" will find themselves playing for coins on a street corner and/or hanging out with Constantine Maroulis. However, if they play the game for a while, they can break away and produce their own work. It's called paying your dues. Everyone must do it and since most American Idol winners kind of skip that stage, it is only just that they pay the piper in some way, i.e. working for peanuts.

3. Was David Sedaris shorter than you expected? I didn't expect him to be tall, but never imagined I'd look down at him.

No, he was as short as I imagined him to be. Though he was bulkier than I expected.

4. You're from Cleveland. Recite the lyrics to Huey Lewis and the News' "Heart of Rock and Roll" without looking.

New York, New York
Isn't everything you think
It's nothing like a Baton Rouge

LA, Kansas City, Detroit
That's not where
I want to be

Then I hear the music,
the sweet sweet music
And then I realize
It's the same old
Back beat rhythm and
The heart of rock and roll
Is still beating...

How was that?

5. Why should people read your blog?

I'll give you ten good reasons:

  1. It's important that people keep tabs on Mel Gibson and they can do so by coming here and getting all their Mel Gibson alerts free of charge and in a convenient package.

  2. My blog can sometimes be the "poor man's Grant Miller Media" because I find it hard not to rip off your bits from time to time. (See: Tags below) People seem to like your blog.

  3. Well, Dale reads it. That ought to be good enough for most people.

  4. My grammar is exemplary.

  5. No pictures of cats. Edited to add...OK one picture of a cat.

  6. I try to change the look every now and then, to keep it lively.

  7. I am loyal; if you read me regularly and comment often, I'll read you. And I link.

  8. It's a blog free of emoticons, abbreviations, and footnotes.

  9. I never call anyone a "sick, deviant fuck."

  10. I'm married to John Milton's Satan.

Thank you so much, Grant Miller, for being a regular reader and for taking time away from your busy schedule to interview me. I'd love to have the opportunity to return the favor. I'm a huge fan of yours and I appreciate very much that you have kindly pointed your readers in my direction. You are the Blogfather.

The Pact Is Over!

Yes my friends, Doc and I have gone one year without paying for movies. That means, we didn't buy DVD's, go to the theater, or rent movies on our dime for 365 days. Woo-hoo! We did it!

There have been many times of weakness, especially in the beginning. Doc and I are both huge impulse movie buyers and that seems to be cured. I think, spending idle moments flipping through our DVD storage books, and seeing how many CRAP movies we have has turned on a light, at least for me. I will probably never buy a DVD on impulse again. I don't ever want to be stuck, broke, and bored, looking for a movie and being faced with a Lee Marvin retrospective. No thank you!

Not seeing movies at the theater wasn't as big of a challenge. Face it, we're broke, so going to the movies is a real luxury and a rarity even without the pact. But these are the movies we bravely missed this past year:
  • Night at the Museum
  • DaVinci Code
  • Superman Returns
  • Casino Royale (ouch...still haven't seen it but it tops Doc's list of must-haves)
  • Click
  • Borat
  • The Devil Wears Prada (I got this from the library yesterday...)
  • Dreamgirls
  • The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
  • Eragon
  • You Me and Dupree
  • Rocky Balboa
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Final Destination 3
  • The Queen
  • The Lake House (Phew, dodged this bullet!)
  • Man of the Year
  • Snakes on a Plane
  • Clerks II
  • Letters from Iwo Jima

No big loss, in hindsight, wouldn't you agree?

Movies we did see, through the kindness of others or for free:
  • The Last Mimzy
  • Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest
  • Cars
  • Talledega Nights
  • Jackass: Number II
  • V for Vendetta
  • Curious George
  • Me, Eloise
  • Veggie Tales: Moe and the Big Exit
  • MST3K Escape 2000

As you can see, a majority are kids movies, but overall, these were movies I enjoyed and don't regret seeing. I am looking forward to the summer blockbusters as well as seeing smaller films in an actual theater. But it will probably still be a rare occaision for the time being, what with the babysitting and financial situation being what they are.

This pact has had quite an effect on me personally. It helped me to realize what a compulsive buyer I am. I now consider most every purchase carefully. I've actually started making gifts for people instead of buying them movies, which is much more cost effective, as well as creatively gratifying. Actually, I used to get quite a thrill going shopping. Now, I become aprehensive, almost overwhelmed when I go into a large store, like Target or Walmart. I don't want to be swept away by the so-called "bargains" or "price roll-backs." Because, frankly, it all adds up, bargain priced or no. Now, I can go into Target and leave having only spent $20 instead of $200.

My pick as first movie to see now that the pact has expired? Hot Fuzz. See you at the movies!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sorry I Haven't Posted...

I've been nursing Doc back to health. He has a nasty gastrointestinal nightmare. Don't worry, though; I've got plenty to say, once I finish cleaning all these bedpans.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Yesterday, God Busted My Ass...Twice!

I believe in the notion that hubris brings about a fall and I have the wounds to prove it. Sometimes I get pretty pleased with myself (no, really, I do), and yesterday was a banner day. I saw the results of two years of struggle culminate in a very satisfying way yesterday. Also, I've been pretty high on myself with regard to starting my new masters program.

My colleagues and I were walking over to the conference center yesterday to hear a big wig (or so we thought) motivational speaker. I was jabbering away about something when the heel of my shoe caught on the cuff of my pants, and, since I was walking at a good clip, not only did I begin to fall down, but I was also propelled forward spectacularly. I hit the ground with the percussive force of an old-timey oil drill.

"Let me help you up," said M as she reached down.

"Not just yet, I need to sit here for a moment," I replied.

It took me about a minute to recover from the force of the impact. In my moment of recovery, I reflected that this particular combination of shoes and slacks was dangerous and might be deadly and I ought to be more careful throughout the day.

And I was. But during the day, I began to feel pretty full of myself. I enjoyed the discovery that something we thought was very bad for us turned out to be very good instead. I was hit with the realization that, not only am I totally ready to take on this masters degree program, but I'll probably be able to do it without breaking a sweat. I was revelling in me. I had twinging sensations that I sounded a lot like the Hare in the Tortoise and the Hare fable, but I brushed them away.

As the ladies and I were leaving work, I was jabbering on about something else altogether. You may not know this about me, but when I get a good head of steam going, conversationally, I begin to forget about my surroundings and responsibilities. In fact, one time, when I worked as an assistant to a blind guy, I was leading him to my car in the parking lot, and was in full-on gab mode. I warned him that there was a step, but I think he was tuning me out and he went down. Boy, nothing in the world makes you feel much more like a humanitarian than dumping a blind guy down on his knees in the parking lot of Staples.

So, we were about 15 feet from my car, and wouldn't you know it? The same heel on the same shoe caught in the same cuff and I went down again, re-injuring my knee and now my ankle. I could barely walk. I hobbled, with assistance, to my car (with a manual transmission) and got in. I began to wonder if God was trying to tell me something. Or maybe it was karma. At any rate, I began to think back on why I might have deserved to have the same punishment twice, with cumulative pain, in one day. Then the light went on.

  1. One time, Doc, Elizabeth and I were hanging out in our garage/lodge. He had just gotten out of the hot tub and was telling us a story about one thing or another. He turned his back towards us and began to walk toward the kitchen door. The next thing we know, he pitches over like a felled pine tree. There was a beat of silence.

    "Are you OK?" we asked him.

    "I'm fine," he winced.

    And then I started to laugh. I couldn't help it. I blame America's Funniest Home videos. I shouldn't have laughed, it was my fault he fell. I had left my purse on the floor and he stepped first into one loopy handle with his right foot, and then the other with his left. Both of his feet were caught in my purse handles. He later described the sensation he had as he fell as "Feeling like I was a horse trying to get into my own saddle." I can't help it. I'm laughing as I write this. It was funny. I think my first fall was punishment for laughing at Doc.

  2. The second fall of the day was pure and simple. I was puffed up with pride and I was gloating. I quite literally was knocked down a peg.

So, what did I do with such a clear message from the universe? Well, first and foremost, as soon as I got into my garage, I took those pants off, handed them to Doc, and asked him to please burn those God damned devil pants. Second, I quite literally interpreted the message: keep close to the ground, humble. "Only the penitent [wo]man shall pass."

I'm still pleased with myself, my accomplishments, my future plans. But, I'm going to stop revelling in it. It really is unseemly, unkind, and it makes me look like an asshole.

Thanks, God. You're a true friend; next time, though, I'll remember to read the memo.

P.S. Doc laughed his ass off when he heard this story. I totally deserved it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dale Interviews Flannery

I couldn't resist the lovely Dale's offer to interview me...

You're clearly a woman of many talents Flannery Alden. Among your educational pursuits and raising adorable children, I see on your sidebar that you're writing a novel. Pretend I'm secretly in publishing and this is your big pitch meeting. What's the damned thing about?

It's about this guy, you know? He's got it all together and everything begins to unravel, starting in his subconscious. There's death, intrigue, some drama, and perhaps, for flavor, a little bit of comic miscommunication and slapstick ala Three's Company. It's kind of a saucy, psychic mystery-caper with a car chase.

...Wait...are you secretly in publishing?

2. In scouring your blog, I jealously read of your encounter with one of my favourite authors David Sedaris and the lovely anniversary present he gave you. Do you have a wish list for other authors you'd like to meet and could it in any way be as good as your time with David as I call him?

I'm not sure anything could surpass my meeting with David Sedaris unless it was a longer meeting with David Sedaris. But the following authors would probably come pretty close:
  • John Irving
  • Bill Bryson
  • Tyra Banks (she's written a book, right?)
  • J.K. Rowling
3. If you were on American Idol tonight with Barry Gibb (is he the dead one?), which of his songs or any other disco song would you perform? Would you wear the white suit or go out on your own?

Just to clarify, I believe Barry Gibb is still living. Brothers Andy and Maurice have walked on. I don't know if I could choose one song of his...I loathe most of them. But I would probably go with "Jive Talking." If it could be any disco song, it would of course be "I Will Survive." I've had lots of practice singing this song; it's on my SingStar game.

4. You and Big Orange seem to have each other's backs. Who is this big fruit and why do you like him?

Where do I begin with Big Orange? How about at the beginning...When I was a freshman in college I stayed in a dorm, like many other college students have done. During the first week of classes, our RA held a "meet and greet" for all the people on the 11th floor. I was bored. There were many lame-o's and poseurs. The introductions made their way around the room until it was BO's turn. When he began to speak, I was totally engulfed in picking the fuzz off of the arm of the cheap-o dorm furniture. As I listened to his lovely voice I was compelled to pause in my efforts of snatching the old plaid couch bald. I lifted my eyes to behold a long-haired, bedimpled young rogue who caught my heart when he mentioned casually that he played the bagpipes. Suddenly, the skies opened up and a beam of heavenly sunlight struck him as angels sang. Yes it was love.

We dated for a little over a year and then we broke up amicably. That was over 20 years ago and we're still friends. We parted ways because I was much too much of a prude to carry on with such an anarchic free spirit as himself. But he is very intellectually stimulating and hilarious. It's also extreme fun to induce a fit of giggles in him, what he calls a "pineapple upside down moment."

What do I like about him? He's smart. Very smart. Sometimes I can't keep up with him. He's probably the only person I know who can stump me in a conversation. He also finds me funny, a very important qualificiation for my friends to have. BO is a very sweet and quirky man; totally my type, if a little too much on the fringe.

Sadly, he lives a million miles away, so we only get to talk on the phone (thank God for free long distance/minutes) and through the blogs. We're both too broke to zip around the earth hanging out with each other these days. But when I run the world, you can bet he'll hold a cabinet post.

5. You seem to enjoy lists. Can you name a few things you'd like to try while you're on Earth and which you think you'll actually get to?

Hmm...OK. I'll bold the ones I think I'll get to:

  1. Write and publish a book
  2. Have my own talk show
  3. Dance the tango
  4. See Europe (the continent and the band)
  5. Complete a checklist
  6. Live in the mountains
  7. Summer somewhere
  8. Have grandchildren
  9. Glass blowing
  10. Make a dramatic egress without forgetting my purse

Thank you so much, Dale, for your questions. I adore you even more now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Oh, Tasty Schadenfreude!

Guess who's joined the ranks of celebrity apology-makers! It is Ty Pennington! He was arrested on drunken driving charges. Finally, this clean-cut, hunky do-gooder with quip package has tarnished his halo.

Not that I am against do-gooders. I just can't stomach all the "look at these unfortunate people and watch us change their lives for the better by spending millions of dollars on ridiculous construction projects when giving that kind of money to Habitat for Humanity would help so many more people but if we did that you couldn't see how wonderful we are being so we opt for the showy, yet much less effective, ta-dah! instead," bullshit he represents.

Extreme Home Makeover reminds me of the show "Bye Bye Birdie," where a rock star is drafted and his PR people decide that he'll symbolically kiss all the girls goodbye by picking one girl and kissing her on TV. It's a stunt that purposefully pushes certain buttons in people to coax out a specific emotion, i.e. an emotional lapdance. It also seems to exempt them from doing any real good in the world. ABC could learn a thing or two from Fox and Idol Gives Back.

Exclusive Interview With Elizabeth

Recently, I took the time to interview my good pal, Elizabeth. As you can see by the picture of us to the left, we know each other in the "real world." She was my first college roommate and remains one of my very best friends. I knew we would be BFF's when she and my other BFF, Joanne, saved me from a very bad date on my first weekend ever in college.

You can tell how much I love her because I posted a picture where she looks fabulous and I look pasty and awful. Sadly, I have no access to photoshop and my regular photoenhancer minions are out playing grab-ass. Please enjoy her interview and let me know if you would like me to interview you.


Monday, May 07, 2007

First Day Of School

Saturday and Sunday I spent in my first class for my masters degree. It was a one credit hour course and I'm done with it (except for the homework). Only 38 credit hours to go!
It's an 18-month weekend and online program that I had a hand in designing. It's interdisciplinary and I got to research and recommend what classes should be in it. So, basically, I helped design a masters degree program perfectly suited to me. And 22 other people who are in my cohort.
I rule.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Sorry I lost my cool you guys. Poverty is a hot button issue with me. I think about it every day and my work involves trying to alleviate its effects on learning. I could go on an on about how the poor start out in school at least three years behind their middle and upper class counterparts (at age five, they are already more than half their lifetime behind!) how hunger and toothaches prevent children from learning, how cultural differences can cause some children to be labeled "learning disabled" because the way they act and learn is different from their middle class teacher's way of doing things, how their parents are afraid to into the school because of negative experiences they had as students so these kids have no one to advocate for them. You tell me how will they ever escape poverty without academic success. They won't in a knowledge/information based economy, that's for sure and they won't get the education they need without an even playing field.
In W's defense, I am totally behind his sweeping legislation called the No Child Left Behind Act. I believe it is a civil rights act even more so than an educational one. It forces schools to be accountable for "subgroups" they were never held accountable for before, i.e. special ed kids, minorities, free and reduced lunch kids. NCLB is imperfect, it is shamefully underfunded, and its implemementation has been problematic. However, it is up for renewal and many educators and education organizations have made very specific recommendations for its improvement.
If not for the war in Iraq, Katrina, and all the closed-door dealing that has gone on, his legacy could have been one of a president who shined a light on inequity in education and made steps to correct it. So, perhaps I was a bit unfair in my attack the other day. However, I do believe that sometimes his left hand doesn't know what his right hand is doing, and not in a good way. With one hand, he is trying to level the playing field for everyone to have success in America. With the other, he is spending every penny he can find to fund the war in Iraq and it breaks my heart. Just think of what the US Education system could do with $24 BILLION.
But we do what we can with what we've got. NCLB is a grand, if problematic, idea. When a democrat takes office in January 2009 and NCLB is renewed with improvements recommended by education professionals, and we withdraw our troops from Iraq, we may see things start to change for the better. Until then we must continue to move forward the best we can.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007



Seacrest out.

My Vampire Name

Your Vampire Name Is...

Athene of Pain
I like my Vampire name; I'm a huge fan of Athene. However I hate vampires. I don't like vampire movies, I don't like vampire stories, I won't eat Count Chocula. I pretty much hate everything about them. Here's why:
  1. They are wiley coercers who prey on the innocent and unsuspecting.
  2. They have no respect for the living or life
  3. They are very high maintainence
  4. They inspire goth types to become even more annoying
  5. They don't like garlic
  6. They drink blood
  7. They mock people
  8. They have made Anne Rice more rich and famous than she deserves to be, based on writing talent alone
  9. They are smug
  10. They usually speak in a ridiculous accent

I do appreciate a few things about them. They are snappy dressers and their ability to turn into mist is a very handy and totally awesome super power. But this is not enough to coax me into reading about them or watching a vampire movie, except of course for Dark Shadows.