* Clutter: another lesson in belief

“I am not a hoarder!  In fact, I am quite organized.”  I can see your eyebrows rising in disbelief.  Yeah, we have an uncontrolled junk room, tons of closets stuffed to the brim, and every drawer and shelf in the house is packed.  But that clutter is not hanging over my head, as of a day ago.  My dearest friend, who shared her “A-student” story, has inspired me to ignore the whispers of “clutterer.”  Those shelves and shelves of teaching supplies?  Their days are numbered.  Today I filled up 2 bags of clothes for the thrift shop.  Whee!

In the past, in a far away land, my cleaning binge radar was firmly fixed on my dearest teaching widower’s clutter.  In fact, my own stacks seemed to disappear as I grunted and glared at his piles of paper, pounds of erasers shavings (he writes by HAND), and random books, paper clips, dead staples, and wine-stained napkins.  My displaced clutter-righteousness had no bounds, kinda like my own messes.  Poor guy.  But NO MORE!

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The New Me does not need to focus on my dearest widower’s writing detritus.  I don’t need to accomplish a clutter-free environment today or tomorrow or within a month.  I don’t feel intimidated by what needs to be done.  I want to do a little every day.  How obvious, you say.  It’s not rocket science.  But until I heard the A-Student story, I was crushed under the weight of clutter.

With my confident belief and God’s grace, along with a dearest friend to whom I can be accountable, the era of clutter in this house is over.  I am so excited!  In fact, this will be my “before” photo:

junk 3

* A-Z Challenge: W

W is for Weekend Wildness!  We had a birthday party, two movies, a shopping spree, and overall Wackiness with the kiddos (our nephews and nieces, if you’re new to the blog).  If you haven’t yet concluded that I enjoy decorating cakes but have absolutely no finesse or control of icing tubes, well, are you blind?  The young relatives, however, were impressed with SpongeBob’s friend, Sandy.  The oldest nephew and his friend thought one particular aspect of this cake was especially intriguing.  As I asked my niece was piece of Sandy she wanted, I heard them whispering and giggling, “I know what I would choose!”


The funniest part of the birthday celebration was my niece’s determined effort to place the candles upside down in the cake.  Totally WIld!

* Dear talk

Dear Deer talk?

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Wassup?  Nuthin.  Where is she?  On the couch, STILL in her pajamas.  What are we gonna do?  Nuthin.  I mean it.  It’s no fun unless she’s chasin’ us, barking like a fool dog.  Or tossing ice cubes all over the place.  What about those day lilies?  They look mighty tasty.  Jus’ wait.  No fun eating them if she can’t chase us away.  It gives me indigestion to eat and run.  Aw, wimp.  Hang on.  It’ll be worth it.  Don’t you already have enough photos of her running up the hill, tripping on branches?  I’m hoping for fame, dude.  Something that can go viral.  I hate that word.  Huh?  Viral.  My aunt got the viral and she went all Terminator.  Dude, the only zombie deer is in that crazy movie, Train to Busan.  Maybe it’s real.  Naw, your aunt ate too many of those day lilies, is all.  I think she’s watching us.  You’re paranoid, little brother.  She’s got a gimp leg and acts all stupid.  What do you mean?  You saw her putting a Venus fly trap on the porch, right?  Who does that?  All I’m sayin’ is this is a waste of time.  Eat a few periwinkles, then.  Maybe it’ll perk her up.  I thought you said she wasn’t watchin’ us.  [Sigh}

* My husband, the gnome

One of Cee’s Share Your World questions this week asked if I would choose to relax at a ski resort.  HA!  Years ago, my dearest teaching widower and I agreed to chaperone a church youth group to a “mountain” resort in North Carolina.  As a California mountain snob, I have always regarded the worn-out hills around here as “less than.”

With that attitude in mind, we boarded a bus full of kiddos bragging about skiing down diamond level slopes.  I kept asking, “When is it going to snow?”  The youth group leader told me that some snow had fallen and the resort would make the rest.  Huh?

I was impressed with the snowy white “mountain” but before we could chaperone, my husband, son, and I were required to take skiing lessons.  Seriously?  How hard could this be?   We clambered to a narrow, icy plateau, where multiple lines of about 30 people each waited patiently for their turn with the youthful instructors.  By that time, I had discovered that my boots were too small to wiggle my frozen toes.  I asked an instructor about taking off my boots since we had a looong wait, and she was horrified.  Of course, I ignored her and massaged my toes back to life.

Our turn finally came.  Easy, right?  My husband was trying hard but moving nowhere fast, so the teenaged girl grabbed his arms and pulled him forward.  He fell on top of her, also knocking down a few folks who were waiting in an adjacent line.  I stifled hysterical laughter as my sweetheart was sent away to practice on his own.  Then our son was up.  This time, the instructor thought better of grabbing the arms of a 6 foot+ guy, so she pulled on his skis.  He also fell down, flattening her and 30 people lined up behind her!  Human dominoes!  I was laughing so hard that we were dismissed.

Our son and I took then tackled the bunny trail, where I learned that man-made ice is a great substitute for ball bearings.  My recess voice screeched at all the kids who came swooping down behind me, “Don’t you get near me!”  As I rounded the last corner, I discovered that our son had fallen about 15 feet into the base of the ski lift.  The rescue team arrived promptly.

In the meantime, all the kids from the youth group were gone, except for one unfortunate guy who had fallen into the trees.  I managed to grapple my way back to the icy training plateau, where I saw this little man, gnome-like in his pointed cap, hunched over and obviously trapped in a cycle of tight circles.  I nearly wet my pants when I realized it was my husband!  To spare him further humiliation, I laughed my way to a flat stretch of “snow” alongside the resort.  I quickly lost control and barely managed to scream, “Look out!” before taking down a fifth grader.  Bless his heart, an old woman had knocked him off his skis and was draped across his back.  I helped him stand and cried, “I am SO sorry!  Are you OK?”  He was speechless and escaped with amazing speed.


As we sat in the resort, drinking hot chocolate (sans boots), my dearest widower said that next year, we would watch skiing episodes from James Bond movies.  “Don’t ever volunteer us for this again,” he warned.  Amen to that.

* Grateful for small and large mercies

Drug City:  What a week!  I was so sure I’d get back on the blogging track.  Instead, my mind has been stupefied and groggified by trials of sleeping meds, since my new and wonderful insurance doesn’t want to pay for Lunesta.  Insomnia is no joke and neither are these “excellent” replacement options.  I’ve had dreadful reactions to all of them but I have a caring physician who understands my overly reactive body.  I think I am making his hair fall out, though.  And my dearest teaching widower has been a shoulder to cry on as my brain has been zapped into depression and more.

Foot City: Remember the wonderful time I had with the kiddos last Halloween?  I didn’t mention that I had wrenched my foot as I slipped while pushing my niece’s wheelchair uphill.  It’s been hurting ever since, so I have gotten new shoes (ooh la la) and tried not to limp.  Unfortunately, the pain has only worsened with time and my foot keeps giving way.  I am convinced that angels have caught me several times or I would have made a face plant on our driveway.  My old crutches are new friends for the next few weeks, along with footwear that lacks a certain panache.  crutches-2

Teaching City:  This has been a joy, in the midst of brain sludge.  Let’s say I work with a kiddo named Javi and I called myself Mrs. Javi.  A good reason not to speak of yourself in third person, right?  Or let’s say that I ask a student in what order he wants to complete our activities and then forget everything he said, even though it’s written into my lesson plans.  What about being unable to read?  Refer to Drug City for that explanation.  But love and patience with me and laughter and hugs?   I couldn’t ask for more.

Onward and upward, by the Lord’s grace.

* Catching up

I’m sorry that I’ve been hit or miss with my blog for awhile now.  Medical issues and work have derailed my best-laid plans.  Here are a few updates on my life.

This week, I spent quite a few hours programming Communicator 5 on a Tobii Dynavox I-12+ device.  The I-12 is a terrific stand-alone eye gaze device with a sturdy case (gorilla glass), amazing technology, and a Windows 10 operating system.  tobiidynavox-iseries-i12-1920x1080.jpg

Communicator 5 is Tobii’s intuitive program for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).  With the handy, downloadable manual, it’s a snap to set up a cool homepage with lots of links.  Granted, I still have to fix a few flaws, but I’m pleased with how user-friendly this system is.  For kids who need a voice, Communicator 5 can be a game changer.

Speaking of games, my nephew Christopher has a new game plan: “Never let Aunt Katharine catch me for a hug after church.”  He loves the idea of hugs but he adores the chase even more!  I couldn’t wait to see his latest scheme today.  I was not disappointed.  The gang came piling out of Sunday School, asking me if I knew where to find Christopher.  None of us mentioned that there was a ghost lingering behind the chairs, eyes glistening with excitement.  After I caught him, his sister got into the act.  Sister Act?  Groan….


My dearest widower took me on a date last night!  Woohoo!  We watched John Wick, Chapter 2.  Not for the faint of heart.  We had an interesting discussion at lunch with our son and his wife (happy birthday to her!) about whether John Wick portrays a parallel universe.  If so, I’m glad to be in ours!  Keanu Reeves brings gun-fu to a new level.



Image from Film Music Reporter, where you can purchase the soundtrack.

I hope you have a great week!  I’m eager to catch up on the Color Your World blogging challenge, share some math ideas, and post a review of the second book in the Nick Hall series.

* To die or not to die

That is the question you must ask yourself when you watch TV commercials for almost every medication advertised.  But let’s back up.  First, you see lovely people in distress because of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, urinary problems, depression, and whatever.


Then you see what medication can do for these miserable folks.  You will undoubtedly fall in love, have the happiest family ever, and run 20 miles a day without breaking a sweat.


Finally, because the government has ruled that we must know what could REALLY happen if you take those pills, the looong list of warnings is recited calmly as we watch the deliriously medicated folks:

  • fatal allergic reactions
  • heart attacks
  • cancer
  • even greater depression
  • kidney failure
  • liver failure
  • dementia
  • uncontrollable bleeding
  • erections lasting more than 4 hours
  • strokes
  • death
  • death
  • death.

Hmm, I think I might pass on the meds.


* Cabin fever?

A collective parental “aaargh” rippled across the area as schools remain closed tomorrow.  Another snow day.  Kiddos are rejoicing, for the most part.  Teachers are examining the number of remaining workdays.  Grocery stores must be shoveling produce.  Most of us have parked cars at the ends of our driveways, ready to slide onto the icy roads.

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My dearest widower and I love being trapped in our cabin.  Last night we watched episodes of Black Mirror, a 21st century version of The Twilight Zone.  A bit depressing.  We’ve enjoyed a Korean zombie movie, Train to Busan.  Also a bit depressing.  Started Gilmore Girls.  Fluffy and funny.  Watched some of Legends, season 1, with Sean Bean.  One of those plots that can’t end well.  

I’ve just finished Leslie Wolfe’s Alex Hoffman series.  Now I have to wait for another installment, if there is one.  Boo hoo!  My current read reminds me of sci fi I read as a kid.  It’s Post-Human series by David Simpson, with lots of typical goodies, like time travel, end of world events, and the battle between AI and human intelligence.  I’ve whipped through the first book and it’s intriguing enough for me to keep going.  

The forecast is for temps to rise over 40 degrees by Friday, from the high 20s to the 70s.  We’ll say adios to snow and ice, close our cabin doors, and head back to work.  Until the next winter storm….

* Winter, southern style

Winter storm Helena is still breathing light snowflakes on us we settle back to survey the “damage.”  Here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, schools in the area closed early yesterday in anticipation of an afternoon snow event.  I got stuck in the apocalyptic traffic snarls as parents snatched their kids from school and frantically shopped for enough bread and water to feed a Gulag of prisoners.  Why do southern folks eat like prisoners when it snows?  Grocery store shelves remained adequately stocked with everything except those two items.  Well, the sugar snap peas were also gone.  Bummer.  I headed for the chocolate aisle and smiled.  I must be the only one eating chocolate today.


You know that a forecast of a quarter of an inch of snow terrifies folks around here, so imagine our reaction to a potential 6 to 9 inches!  Horror!  The governor’s inaugural event was canceled and streets were brined.  The proactive salting of streets only started in the last decade here.  I’m not sure how effective that measure is, because in our locale, any winter event seems to start with rain, as the temperatures are loathe to drop below freezing.  Even the clouds fight desperately to hold their loads of moisture.  Yesterday they leaked rain and then sleet, possibly washing away all that brine, and it was near midnight when snow forced its way through.

My dearest widower and I stared through the curtains last night as the snow pinwheeled like blossoms under the streetlight.  No way were we getting 6-9 inches.  Maybe 2?  Should I have bought bread and water?  Nah, I ate some chocolate and prayed that no one would lose their power.

Here’s the view from our front porch this morning.  I parked at the edge of the driveway this year, ready to flee, because my dearest widower was in PT for a year after shoveling the driveway in our last icy debacle.

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I haven’t ventured onto the snow yet, worried about that treacherous layer of ice under the fluffy snow.  I see that a snowplow has barreled through, ruining a perfectly good sledding hill.  Oh well, you notice that no kids are around?  They’re probably too weak to crawl out; that bread and water diet is a killer.


* Rising to new lows

What have I been up to these days?  It’s been a l-o-n-g week and today is only Hump Day!

Monday I started my week in bumpy fashion.  I overslept because I’d set my alarm for PM, not AM, so I missed a session with a student.  Then I decided that I should take a double dose of this supplement called Cordyceps to improve my immune system, kidney function, and memory.  Sadly, I was unaware that it also knocks down blood sugar levels, so I couldn’t think straight at all!  I left my lunch at home, which didn’t help my blood sugar one bit.

I tutored another nephew on Monday evening; by the time I got home around 9, with my blood sugar having turned to salt, my dearest teaching widower started passing me chocolate.

Tuesday, because I STILL hadn’t realized what was happening with Cordyceps, I went to work without my key tools of the trade (all things vital to my lesson plans).  My dearest widower drove the needed stuff over just in the nick of time.  Later that night, I typed his latest training project.  My goal was to be as sweet and helpful as he had been, but doubling the Cordyceps continued to plague me.  I became Snake Woman after a few drafts of the project and my dear widower retreated upstairs.

Today, oh today, was very difficult, but not because of the supplement (a helpful nurse got me back on track).  Instead, I attended an extremely painful IEP meeting.  At one point, I had to force back tears as I begged for services for a child.  My heart still aches for the child and family, but I trust that God has it all in hand.

Laugh of the day?  I am officially on snow watch until March but that’s the serious part. Siri and I may both be on Cordyceps!  Can you catch her glitch from this screenshot?