Archive for the ‘life’ Category

The Arrangement

17 March 2016

My husband G and I were having a problem. Neither one of us likes doing dishes. We had been taking turns cooking dinner (or deciding on a restaurant) and then not washing the pots and pans and cutting boards and sharp knives and other accoutrements of cooking. On the weekend, the dishes would get cleaned by the person who hated the pile of dirty dishes more. And that was not me.

While I did not mind not doing dishes, G was getting more and more resentful of me not doing dishes. Which I can totally understand, but which was not a good motivator for me to do my share, especially since he rarely complained. But he did complain, eventually, which is a good thing.

I apologized. The next day, I proposed an arrangement, inspired by a couple I had met when I was in college.

I proposed that G cook all the dinners, and I would wash all the dishes, as my job.

I think I got the better deal, even though I don’t like doing dishes. I love having someone cook for me every night! I love having someone else decide what to cook! I love smelling the cooking meal and wondering what it will be! I love not having to stop at the store on my way home at rush hour, or on weekends when the store is super crowded!

G thinks he got the better deal, since he gets to try out even more new different recipes and he never has to do dishes.

So far, after a week and a half, things are going great. I don’t wash the dishes every night, but I do them often enough.

No piles of dirty dishes!

No piles of dirty dishes!

G is happy that the pot or pan or knife or cutting board that he needs is clean, ready to use. I am happy to have my responsibility defined. Maybe this arrangement will last a long time. It will be interesting to see if we can keep it going.

Pajama Day!

31 December 2013



Pajama Day

When I quit teaching, I thought I would never have another reason to wear my polka-dot pajamas. I don’t wear them to sleep in, because I sweat in them and wake up all clammy. I bought them specifically for Pajama Day, traditionally the Monday of spirit week leading up to Homecoming. I thought I would never have another spirit week again. Well, that is probably true.

BUT, I have been delighted that at my new job, we have so far had Employee Appreciation Week (as a teacher we had a teacher appreciation luncheon on one day each year), Octoberfest (no beer, but free lunch with brats and potato salad and sauerkraut and other goodies), a Halloween Costume Contest (departments dress up according to themes, so it was a lot like being in the science department at East), a Pie Party, and today is Pajama Day! So here I am at work, ready to answer customer calls (even the CEO wears a phone headset most of the time), in my polka-dot pajamas!

Of course, there is a downside to wearing one’s comfiest clothing to work. I had to bring extra clothes to work so I could also run errands (which I had to do at school, too). Also, part of the joy of pajamas is not having to put on deodorant and a bra, but since I was coming to work I did that anyway. On the other hand, I also brought my slipper socks to change into once I got to work, which is awesome. And I get lots of compliments on my PJs, also.

Happy New Year!


Change is Good

13 December 2013

There have been big changes in my life. I now live in Oregon, having previously lived in Pennsylvania. I am no longer a teacher, by my own choice. I know I stopped blogging for a while, but I hope to start up again. I am happy.

Happy Mothers’ Day

8 May 2011

I love you, mom.  Happy Mother’s Day!

My mom, Doris, is really beautiful.  I look like my dad.  She used to complain that she has no eyebrows and refused to go out without lipstick, but she never needed it.  Here she is when I was very young, with me and my dad:

My mom taught me to sit up straight, keep my elbows off the table, and to look it up when I didn’t know something.  She taught me to wash dishes properly, set the table properly, and how to iron.  She insisted I learn to sew, and sent me to Mrs. Helen Grabowski to learn.  She refused to teach me to drive, and made my father teach me when I neglected to make an effort to learn on my own.

My mom threw the best birthday parties, hiring a magician or a psychic to entertain me and my friends, insisting on a lip-syncing contest, baking cakes and taking us to the skating rink.  As an only child, she made sure I had friends to do things with, and even on our annual vacation in Letchworth State Park, she welcomed my best friend Julie and had fun with us all week. Here we are overlooking the Genesee river: me, mom, and Julie.

Thank you, mom, for proofreading my papers in high school (I wish my students had moms like you), and passing along your love of books.  You can often find me in the same pose as my mom:

Yep, on the sofa, covered by an afghan (big difference: she can make her own afghans, something I still have never done), reading!

When I was a teenager, mom and I had lots of arguments.  I guess that is kind of typical.  She was aggravated by my choice of hairstyle, clothing, earrings, music to listen to, and attitude.  I didn’t study hard enough, I neglected to call and say where I was or that I would be late, I ought to do the vacuuming and the dusting and clean the bathroom.  Thank you mom, for teaching me to clean the bathroom.

Yet, when I was a teenager, we shared season tickets to the theater, read some of the same novels, we both liked watching Pierce Brosnan in that detective show and Bruce Willis in that other detective show.

By getting in my mom’s way in the kitchen, I learned to cook (to her surprise!).  However, I never learned tact from my mom.  She is very frank.

In this photo, my mom smiles despite the fact I am wearing the earring she hated most of all: a long rubbery plastic fish.

Ever since I moved away to go to college (22 and a half years ago), my mom has been complaining that I don’t call enough.  I’m sorry, mom!  She worries that I am depressed, overworked, sick, or otherwise miserable.  Thanks, mom, I am usually OK, just a negligent, terrible daughter.  But I call you way more often than you called Grammy Wilma, in my memory of growing up. I LOVE YOU! And I’m like you in many ways.

For example, I am always right, just like you are.  This works better when we are not in the same place.  I’m a good cook, I enjoy art and dance and plays.  I’m not as excited about Paul Simon as you are, but I like his music.  I have a great vocabulary like you do, and I forget some of it, like you do.  We’ve both been on our own church’s board of trustees, and we’ve both enjoyed Scottish Country Dancing.  I still can’t get into T’ai Chi, though Greg and I took a class a few years ago.

Here we are at my wedding to Greg.  You made your outfit, and you loaned me your pearls to wear.

Thank you for bringing me up in the Unitarian Universalist church, for promising me a college education and fulfilling that promise, even though I chose a very expensive school, and for helping me get on my feet after graduation.  Thank you for raising me not to use bad words, to enjoy tea, and to enjoy houseplants.  Thank you for recommending Tony Hillerman, and suggesting I would enjoy reading Game of Thrones (now an HBO series).  Thank you for the recipes for stuffed peppers, popovers, roasted root vegetables, and explaining over the phone how to cook pumpkins and turkeys (back when I still cooked turkeys).  Thank you for the wardrobe advice, the suggestion that a glass of wine is OK to have after a hard day at work, and for sending cookies to Greg before he decided to move to the east coast, years before he proposed.  I love you, mom!



7 November 2010

Normally, I love November.

I like the change in the weather, to chilly.  I like wearing sweaters, scarves, and hats.  I like watching the bright leaves escape the trees to form brown drifts in the sidewalk for shuffling crunchily through.

This year, I am not so happy.  Since the 3-day, I have been in a funk.  I feel behind on schoolwork, I feel behind on housework, I don’t think I ought to be turning 40 this month, and I feel really down.  I haven’t felt this blue in a really long time.

I am really glad I have been through this before.  I recognize this feeling.  I have a loving husband who has also noticed my mood.  So tomorrow I have a doctor appointment and I hope I will get some meds to help with this.  I actually spent several weeks this year getting OFF meds, and I thought I was doing pretty well.  I don’t know if it is the lessening of the sunlight, the sudden lack of exercise since I stopped walking so much, or just a stronger than usual school-year anxiety that is getting to me.  But I know I have to do something about it.

Meanwhile, I can get a hug from my husband, eat some chocolate, and pet the cat.  Tycho is on my lap purring right now, in fact!

Maker Faire!

26 September 2010

My ticket and the map I printed out

I have wanted to go to Maker Faire ever since I first heard about it.  I’ve been a subscriber to Make: magazine for three and a half years, now, and while I haven’t done very many of the projects I have been inspired and enthused by reading about them!  Make: magazine comes from O’Reilly media and for several years has been sponsoring Maker Faires in faraway places like Texas and California.  So when I found out that there would be one in New York City (specifically, in Queens), I immediately made plans to attend.

Two-person pedal-powered ferris wheel

Well, that was yesterday.  I drove up with an interesting guy who does science parties and teacher trainings, Ken Fink of Wondergy.  He was a helpful navigator (it is always a challenge to find my way to a new place…can’t easily read my Google Maps driving directions AND watch the road!) and good nerdy conversationalist.  We arrived, presented our tickets, and entered wonderland.

Mathematica temporary tattoo

The first area I entered had tents with fabricators (shopbot, home plastic vacuum forming, CNCdevices (think home-accessible 3-D printing, though still pricey), instructional areas (lockpicking, soldering), and various commercial interests (Ford, Wolfram, US Patent Office).  MakerShed was there (the Make: magazine store, full of books, kits, parts, more learn-to-solder stations, etc) and there was a beer tent and a giant version of that old “Moustrap” board game.  Plus a two-person pedal-powered ferris wheel and a pedal-powered electric guitar windmill tower.  I got a Wolfram Mathematica temporary tattoo (almost gone now, actually) and entered a query into Wolfram Alpha to receive a deck of WolframResearch playing cards!  I did not bother to learn lockpicking.  It’s not something I feel I need to know right now.

Garden indoors with a setup like this in a window

I then wandered over into a large parking lot (for the NY Hall of Science) where I found an area of recycling/composting/indoor gardening booths, and a bunch of big tents set up.  I wandered through one, finding things like nixie-tube sudoku; beautiful brass, steel, and wood electrostatics demonstration equipment; musical instruments played by pulling on ropes or powered by arduinos; and Cooper Union students showing off their chemically-powered robotic vehicle.  I stopped at the booth where a guy from the UK was teaching surface-mount soldering on a scrolling digital name badge powered by arduino.  Free to learn, $20 to keep.  Of course I made one!  We didn’t use soldering irons for the surface-mount work, instead we used these nifty little butane-powered heat guns – I will have to get one if I ever get more into surface-mount work, though that seems unlikely at this time.  I have no particular need to work with components that tiny and hard to see (I didn’t even think to bring my reading glasses, though I had my own safely goggles!)

What a beautiful electroscope!

Every so often, it became impossible to hear anyone who was talking to you because of the rocket ponies ride from the Madagascar Institute.

I wandered a little more before deciding I was hungry, so I bought a plate of paella.  It was huge, and included huge prawns which I had difficulty eating.  My parents know I can’t deal with soft-shelled crab, the one time I had Maine lobster my friend Line kindly extracted the meat for me, and in general if it still has a head on it I can’t eat it.  But the rest of it was delicious!  I couldn’t finish it, though.

Windell, me, and Lenore

After lunch I found my way inside the NY Hall of Science, where I finally met Lenore and Windell of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.  I’ve been a fan of their blog for a few years, and once got a lot of traffic on this blog when they linked to my “Cheer Up” post featuring the fish-shaped ice cream sandwich.  I have made their bulbdial clock kit (lots of soldering – the normal kind – which I love) and I have placed their egg-bot kit on my wish list.

Some things an egg-bot can do

There were also a couple of guys with an amazing machine which shoots little balls through holes in rotating disks…amazing!  I met a Mexican guy who has set up a knowledge exchange (“Will trade my brain for info“) and who gave me a linoleum print, and bought a Nikola Tesla poster from the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project.  Woot!  Several people or groups had brought interactive art installations, like a ferro-fluid puddle with an upper and lower adjustable magnet, and a large screen which would display a splotch of spilled letters when hit by a thrown book.  And all over the place there were kids involved, learning to take stuff apart (there was a small room dedicated to deconstruction) and put stuff together and to be creative.  That was beautiful!

I should have taken a photo of the other side, so you can see how nice the stockinette stiching is

Then I went back outdoors and entered the Craft tent.  I was immediately asked if I knew how to knit or crochet.  When I answered no, I was asked which I would like to learn, and was seated next to a very patient woman, handed a thingy of yarn and a pair of 6.0 mm (U.S. 10) needles, and taught to knit and purl, do stockinette and make ribbing.  Wow!  Then, I was given the remaining yarn and the needles to KEEP!  Sweet!)  Later, I signed up to win a $500 gift certificate for personalized designed furniture, learned about using resin to make jewelry, and saw some people who were all about making stuff out of cardboard.  Just outside the tent was a car covered with a knitted “pseudo-sod” car cover, that had taken the artist a year to make!

Pseudo-sod car cover

Later, I wandered through a craft-vendor area, where I found everything from Martha Stewart Living to a woman offering crafts made from yogurt containers and plastic bags.  She let me make a little plastic skull with her stuff, which can be a magnet or a brooch, depending on what I decide to attach to the back.  There were lots of t-shirts for sale, jewelry, some pottery and ceramics, and even food vendors (artisan ice cream and chocolate).  I’ve been going to craft fairs since I was very young, and of course I bought things.  A barrette that spells out “NERD” in scrabble tiles, a headband of block-printed, layered and stitched felt, a print touting the “tofu revolution,” and some greeting cards made with the pages of an old children’s encyclopedia.  I did not go back for the chocolate because I decided to catch the last performance by ArcAttack at the end of the day.

Sweet! He's wearing a browncoat t-shirt under his chainmail!

ArcAttack?  They’re the guys who make music by vibrating the air with sparking tesla coils.  They wear head-to-toe chainmail so that they are protected by personal mobile Faraday cages.  If you ever get a chance to experience their performance, do it!

Note: more photos are on my Flickr.

Also, here are all the video links:
pedal-powered ferris wheel
electrostatics demonstration equipment
powered by arduinos
rocket ponies
amazing machine
ferro-fluid puddle

Tea with Tycho

11 September 2010

Actually, the title should be “Tea while Tycho hides under the bed.”

We’ve adopted a new kitty!

This is Tycho, who is from South Carolina and is probably a little over a year old.  When he languished, unadopted, in a humane society shelter, he was shipped to Pennsylvania along with other unadopted animals and turned over to TreeTops Animal Rescue.  One of my colleagues at school fosters animals for TreeTops, and she and her husband had been caring for Tycho for about three weeks when school started and I told my department the sad news about Buzz.  We made a date for us to come meet Tycho in his foster home, filled out an online application, and welcomed Tycho into our house on September 9th.

He’s part Maine Coon cat and part something else (listed as Domestic Longhair, but I doubt it), so he has furry paws, long ear hair, and an incredibly soft coat.  He’s also tiny compared to Buzz, just a little scrap of a thing (which is unexpected, since Maine Coons are known for being large)!  Tycho loves to cuddle, but he’s still pretty skittish around us.  He spends a LOT of time under the bed.  I was able to get a better photo there than when he was in a corner behind a chair.  But he does explore and play also!  He is very active at night.  The first night he was with us he woke us up at 3 AM with a couple of loud meows.  The second night, he discovered the TOP of the bed.  Any hand not under the covers should obviously be petting him and scratching under his chin!  Happily, he declined to sleep on my face.

We are enjoying getting to know Tycho, and it is hard to be patient.  But we know we have to let him get comfortable in his own time.  So far he enjoys our loft, has found some of Buzz’s old toys and also some items not originally meant to be cat toys.  He hasn’t clawed the furniture or had any outside-the-litter-box accidents.  And when he cuddles, he purrs and purrs.  PrRrRrRrRrRrrrRrRrRrRrrrRrRrRrRrRrRrRrRr…..

I hope Tycho will help me get back on track with blogging.  I apologize for the lack of forthcoming information!  Meanwhile, if you are curious, I have started a specific-to-teaching blog: The Virtual Image.  This is intended to be about what I am doing in the classroom, how it went, and how I might do it better next time.

Home life

15 July 2010

Summer…and busy.

I’m behind in canning (there is an excess of cucumbers and beets in the fridge), I’m only partly ready for my yard sale planned for July 24, and Buzz is sick.  We’ll hear back from the vet tomorrow about his blood work, and in the meantime we are trying to coax him to eat.

Saturday, I’m heading to Portland, OR for the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers.  I’m behind in walking (hoping to do some catching up in Portland) and I haven’t managed to sort the rest of the vacation photos or put together the videos of monkeys and hummingbirds.  I won’t be able to work on that in Portland because the photos aren’t on my laptop which is going with me, they are on the desktop and the media server at home.

I am hoping to at least spend some airplane time working on stuff for school…if I can find the list of things I need to do for school.  I’m feeling like summer is almost over and I’m not ready!  Thank goodness summer is not really as almost over as I’m feeling, but I still need to work on some sewing projects (including new pajamas for myself and Greg) and make my halloween costume (it will be hard to find the time once school starts).

And I still haven’t dome anything with my Arduino!  Eventually I will write a blog post all about my Arduino and what I have dome with it, but first I have to actually do something with it!

At least I am mostly ready for the AAPT meeting in Portland.  I’m not packed or anything, but the powerpoint slides I need for my report to the Section Officers Exchange are done and I’ve loaded a Portland map into my GPS.  I’m readying my laptop and I’m doing laundry tomorrow.  Whew.

I might write a blog post from Portland.  Maybe.  In the meantime, here is a photo of a white-faced (capuchin) monkey from our last full day in Lapa Rios:

Law & Order

17 May 2010

Sometime while I was cooking dinner and my husband was taking a nap, our driveway got blocked by a police car from the town two townships north of us.  It wasn’t really the nice policeman’s fault, he was blocked from going any further down our street by another police car (from the township immediately to our north) parked crossways across the street in front of our house.  The police cars from OUR town (I’m not sure if our town has one or two police cars –  I think it is two) were further down the block.

[We live in a suburban county outside Philadelphia, where the townships cram up against each other.  Having police from the next town over show up on calls is a matter of course.  If we had kids, they would be in that school district anyway, since our town is too small to have its own school district.  Police from two towns over coming to help out on a call is more unusual, but our suburbs are generally pretty quiet.  I remember once (when living in another nearby town) having a car accident on the way to the video store (back when we went to video stores).  We had three police cars show up for our fender bender, and an ambulance stopped by just in case (nobody was hurt, so they didn’t hang out long).  So excitement attracts police from all around, desperate for something to do besides sit hidden near an intersection in hopes that they get lucky and catch someone running a stop sign.]

I headed out the door to see what was going on, which is what we do on our block.  Last year there was a fire a couple of houses down (a very minor fire – the house remained completely livable) and the whole neighborhood was out chatting about it in groups on our lawns and sidewalks.  But this evening the woman next door poked her head out and told me that I should go back in, because the police down the block had rifles.

Well, I had dinner on the table, so I didn’t mind going back in.  After another half hour or so, the police came one by one to put away their rifles and drive their cars away.  We can leave the house by car again if we want to.  Not that we want to.  I’m supposedly grading papers (actually writing a blog post) and my husband has a WoW raid.

What I really like about watching Law & Order on TV is that when a bunch of police investigate something, before the hour is up there is a suspect, an arraignment, a trial, and a  verdict.  Done.  Forget this real life stuff where there is no guarantee I’ll ever know what was going on.  Law & Order is one of my favorite shows.  I’m a little bummed that NBC isn’t going to continue it.  You’d think that after that whole Jay Leno fiasco they’d be keeping the known good shows.  Oh well.

In other news, President Obama called and left a message on our answering machine today!  There must be a tightly contested senate primary election tomorrow!

[UPDATE: 5/29/2010

It happened again, only this time we had been out at a party, and returned home to find that we could not get to our driveway because one of our town’s police cars and an ambulance were parked opposite each other on our street, with not enough space to squeeze between them.  We parked on the street a couple houses down from our own house, and as we were walking across our driveway to get to our front door the other police car from our town showed up and parked across our driveway.  Our block gets more and more exciting!]

Spring training

21 March 2010

I have a feeling training in the Spring is going to be a lot more pleasant than Summer training later this year.

The weather has been beautiful this weekend and we have been taking advantage. I have been walking, and Greg has been gardening. Today I saw two magnolia trees in full bloom, a lot of magnolias in bud and partial bloom, many crocuses, tiny daffodils smaller than crocuses, pansies, and lots of people out working in their gardens! This was on a walk of about 3.5 miles, which I did in a little over an hour. It was a good walk!

On Friday I took a personal day from school to attend the NSTA convention in Philadelphia. I planned ahead to get of the train at University City, so I would have a two mile walk to the Convention Center before attending any events. All worked perfectly, and I wore my pedometer to count my steps. It is half a mile between my house and the train station, adding another mile to my day’s total. The one thing is I can’t figure is how far I walked on the floor of the vast exhibit hall, or going back and forth between sessions at the convention center, the Marriott, and the Loews Hotel. I am guessing, since my pedometer read 17914 at the end of the day that I must have gone at least an extra 2 miles while at NSTA, but I cannot truly tell.

Saturday I had initially planned to attend NSTA, but after the past several weekends being very busy and really only “1-day” weekends, I decided to give myself a 2-day weekend and stayed home.  I managed to get in 40 minutes of DDR, and a LOT of good sleep!  I feel much better for all the extra sleep!  Last weekend I was at our local AAPT meeting on Saturday, the weekend before that I spent all day Saturday in Brooklyn with Science Bowl, the weekend before that I enjoyed my friend Sarah’s company on Sunday, and the weekend before that was Physics Olympics on Saturday.  So even though I am looking forward to Spring Break next week (starts March 27!), I felt like I really needed two days of weekend. It was great!

Now if only I had finished all this grading…

PS: you can keep track of my walking training on my new Training Log page.  Click on the link on the upper right when you are on the home page!