Friday, February 27, 2009


Dr. Lobo is sixty-four years old today. I've known him since he was twenty-one and the Beatles were popular, although I think "When I'm 64" came out when he was twenty-two . In honor of the birthday boy, I'd like to present this video.

Yes, Dr. Lobo, I still need you now that you're sixty-four. It's a good bet I'll still need you at 94.

Happy Birthday from your number one fan.

What a kid! What a man!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Today was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I’ve been a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) all my life except for a brief time when I tried to be a Baptist. (It didn’t work, but that’s a story for another time.) When I was a child, Disciples didn’t pay attention to Ash Wednesday, but in recent years many Disciples churches have incorporated Ash Wednesday services into the life of the church. It’s a time in which we acknowledge our sinfulness, honestly examine our shortcomings and failures, and ask God to give us clean hearts. I have come to appreciate this day.

In my church the Ash Wednesday service includes hymns, prayer, and scripture reading, followed by the imposition of ashes and participation in communion. And although it’s a somber service, it also has elements of forgiveness and grace, for which I am grateful.

I’m trying to make two changes during Lent this year. The first one is silly, but I’m writing it down so that I will take it seriously. Are you ready for this? Okay, I’m giving up Spider Solitaire for Lent. I hope I’ll be able to give it up forever. It’s a seriously addictive game, and I have a seriously addictive personality, so I have wasted hours and hours playing it. I tend to play it whenever I come to a tough spot in my writing. I’ve decided I’d be better off plowing on through the writing. Or if I’m totally stuck with the writing, I’ll use that break time to load the dishwasher or dust or do something worthwhile.

The other change is serious and personal, and I don’t feel like sharing it with the entire internet. So I’ll just say that with the beginning of Lent, I have begun the struggle. If you’re a praying person, I’d appreciate a few prayers on my behalf, because this is going to be HARD.

Here’s a quote that I like, and one that I will look back on while traveling through Lent. It’s called “Dust that Dreams of Glory” and is by Michael Mayne in PRAY, LOVE, REMEMBER.

Ash Wednesday is a day for honesty, a realistic assessment of the human heart. By tradition it is a day when we assert (unfashionably but rightly) the sinfulness of our nature, and ask God to “create and make in us new and contrite hearts,” and many kneel to have ash placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. But even in the stringent days of Lent there is a complementary truth which also needs affirming. We may be dust, but we are dust that is full of mystery and that dreams of glory; dust (we sense) that is to be changed, transfigured, into God’s likeness.
Now, just to show you that I’m not a pious religious type, I’m inserting a bit of humor about Ash Wednesday. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Why is this woman wearing her Book Woman tee shirt and carrying her "I cannot live without books" tote bag?
She is dressed appropriately for one of the most significant days of the year.

Dr. Lobo and I, along with our kids, have celebrated a holiday for over thirty years. It occurs during the last full weekend of February, and its significance ranks right behind Christmas and birthdays. Although we sometimes refer to it as the Nerd Convention, it is commonly known as the Library Book Sale.

The Friends of the Library for Oklahoma County’s Metropolitan Library System has one of the largest used book sales in the nation. Booklovers and used bookstore owners from neighboring states travel to Oklahoma City to take advantage of the bargains. They line up in front of the state fairgrounds building where the book sale is held for hours before it begins.

Our family is composed of unique individuals, but we have one thing in common. We all love books. We like to read them. We like to own them. We like to feel those pages between our fingers. When we were raising our kids, we often told them we couldn’t afford various things, but somehow we always managed to have shelves and shelves (and piles and piles) of books.

On the first night of the book sale, Dr. Lobo always left work early so we could be there before the doors opened at 5:30. Unlike those hardy souls who camped out for hours, we usually stood in line for about thirty minutes before the sale began. We took our duffel bags, backpacks, and suitcases. (Other folks use giant trashcans, baby strollers, their kids’ little red wagons, and other wheeled objects, and stuff them full of books.) We spent a couple of hours—or more—looking through the thousands (millions? billions? trillions?) of books, occasionally adding one to our stash. After paying, we lugged them out to the car, where it could be a challenge to find space for all of our newly acquired books.

Now, this sounds like a simple process, especially since the books have been categorized so you can go directly to the topics that interest you, but you have to realize that there are about a million booklovers competing for the goods. This can be a dangerous situation as you try to maneuver your way down an aisle between tables piled high with books. Those trashcan-wielding warriors can be vicious. If you want to look at the books piled underneath the tables (and of course you do), you take your life in your hands. Bibliophiles are looking at books; they tend to miss seeing objects (even overweight objects) on the floor. It is highly probable that you will get kicked or stepped on if you get below table level.

After surviving the battle, we ate at a restaurant, where we discussed our best finds of the evening. Then we went home, sorted our books, and settled down to skim through our treasures.

On the second and third days of the sale, we returned to the fairgrounds for another look, particularly on Sunday afternoon, when prices were lowered.

These photos were taken on Sunday afternoon, when the vast majority of the books and customers were gone. Imagine all of these tables completely covered with books. Now imagine more books piled UNDER the tables. Imagine the room so full of people that you can barely move. Imagine those people with dollies loaded with boxes of books or wagons full of books. You have to really love books to put up with such craziness. (On Friday night, after coming out of the building, Little Guy said, "They don't MAKE enough medication to convince me to go back in there!")

We actually had good self-control this time. In recent years, we have been more selective about the books we buy, and the number we bring home has decreased substantially. We're realizing that we'll have to live to one hundred to read all the books we already own. Dr. Lobo and I bought mostly audio books this time. We like to listen to them when we travel. This picture shows about half the books that three of us bought.

It’s a nerd holiday, for sure. Other families watch the Superbowl, play soccer, or attend rock concerts. Not us. We go to the library book sale.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How I Became a Cat Woman, Part Two

Once I loved Veto, it wasn’t hard to become fond of another cat. A couple of years after Veto came to live with us, Dr. Lobo discovered a half grown calico hanging out in our back yard. When he saw her trying to eat a bumblebee, she stole his heart. He concluded that she was hungry, so he began to feed her on the sly. As we all know, once you feed a cat, she will not go away.

At that time both of our sons lived with us. One day we were all out in the back yard when the calico showed up. We each admitted that we had been feeding her. Even The Blonde, who was dating Wild Child at the time, had fed her. On that day we decided to bring her inside and formally adopt her. Veto was actually rather fond of her. They quickly became buddies.

The Visa credit card folks had a popular slogan around that time: Visa, everywhere you want to be. We soon discovered that the calico was always everywhere we wanted to be—on a chair, a bed, or the floor where we tried to walk. So of course her name became Visa.

Visa makes friends with some unusual characters. Here she is with her double.

And here she is with her pet iguana. (No, he's not real. If he were, she'd be chasing him, not sleeping next to him.)
Visa continues to find interesting places to hang out, and we have many photos of her in unusual locations. Even though Veto is my favorite cat, I have to admit that Visa is definitely the most intelligent cat we own. (Or should I say “the most intelligent cat that owns us?”)
Here are a few of her favorite places.

Visa tends to be more aloof than our male cats, but she can be quite affectionate. Here she is enjoying an afternoon nap with Little Guy.
She especially loves Dr. Lobo. She seems to know who saved her from a bumblebee diet.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What I Miss About Teaching

I visited my old school on Friday. The classes were having Valentine's Day parties, so it was a good time to talk with my former students and coworkers. My fourth graders are now fifth graders, of course, and it's amazing how much they've grown in a year.

I love fourth graders. They are no longer little kids, but they still try to please the teacher (most of the time). Most of them are self-confident, and they are willing to try new things. They are developing very distinct, unique personalities. My students were very affectionate, and I received hugs daily. Sometimes they even told me that they loved me.

Kids that age will tell the teacher their thoughts and feelings. It's an honor and a privilege to be trusted by a ten year old. I miss that a lot.

I'm posting some photos. About half of these kids were my students last year. You will see more girls than boys. In this particular group of kids, there are more girls. Also, the girls were more willing to pose for me. I got a few pictures of boys, but a lot of them weren't good. They moved too fast (some of them were in P.E. shooting baskets, and they didn't want to stop and pose) or they looked goofy. (Ten and eleven year olds can look very goofy!)

Take a look at these cute kids. Aren't they wonderful?

No, I don't miss getting up early, making lesson plans, staff meetings, recess duty, or the stress. But I sure do miss the kids!