Sunday, April 13, 2014

Suck It Up, Buttercup

   What!  I am suppose to wipe off tables in the school cafeteria and sweep the floor?  Me, the Spanish substitute teacher?  You mean to tell me I went to college for four years and I am now half way through to a master's degree so I could clean up after a bunch of 1st graders who can't keep half their food on the plate?  Doesn't this school have cafeteria workers to do that? I admit these questions went through my head last Friday when I found out that cafeteria clean up was part of my duties. Also the regular teacher's duties, I might add. Can you imagine what would happen if purchasing agents, journalists, or engineers were told part of their jobs was to wipe tables and sweep the floor at their places of employment?

   And then I remembered Mike Seaton, an old boss of mine back in my IT (Information Technology) days. I don't remember the circumstances but I was asked to do something that was way out of the realm of my job description. I told him, "It's not my job."   He replied back to me, "It's not my job to sweep the floor, but if it's dirty I will grab a broom and clean it."

   Well said, Mike. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What Happened To Me?

     Like a lot of bloggers, here I am apologizing for the long absence. Last spring, on a whim, I applied for graduate school at the University of Northern Iowa. Not that it is so difficult to be admitted as long as the money is there, but they let me in. Crap. Now I have to put out or shut up. I am about 1/4 of the way to obtaining the MA TESOL (pronounced tee-saul) which stands for Teaching English as a Second Language, something I have been doing for years now anyway. I guess the master's degree will just validate me. I am working full-time as a teacher and I also teach English to immigrants on Saturday mornings. I still have custody of my nephews, now ages 15 and 9. Andrew is a freshman with a 4.0 GPA. He's on the basketball team. He's also in band, archery club, and is vice-president of student council. Alex is in 3rd grade and just achieved his penmanship award. I've only gotten one phone call from the principal this year about his behavior (a major improvement). He plays baseball, basketball, football, and will definitely be in track because, as he says it himself, he's fast. Most of my needs to poke fun at them is taken care of on Facebook.
     My beloved Miss Daisy Dog died on January 13. She would have been 17 some time this year. We got her when she was about 5 years old from the Cedar Valley Humane Society. My son, 16 years old at the time, had been begging for a dog so I agreed we could go to just "look".  Yeah, right. As we walked down the aisle of pens with all the big dogs barking, there was Miss Daisy in the last one, paws up on the cage, telling us with her eyes that we were taking her home. And so we did.  We never had a squirrel in our yard again. Miss Daisy got around. She went to Mexico City once and she lived in Texas and Mexico before returning to Iowa. Gecko chasing replaced squirrel chasing in Texas. She didn't know what to do with the tarantulas so she left them alone. I still wake up thinking I need to let her out and I swear I can still hear her snoring in the middle of the night. I miss my little doggie.

     I still find time to occasionally do some stupid stuff like skiing although I no longer jump the moguls from fear of smashing my bones into a million pieces. I am proud to say I did not fall once all day even while taking this video, unlike my companion who did it over and over again like a champ. Since he may only be the second Mexican to ever ski, right behind Prince Hubertus, the 55-year-old Olympian from Mexico, he should get the consolation prize for trying.

     I have not given up on the blog. When I get time, or a wild hair up the wazoo, I will make an appearance here from time to time.  Don't give up on me yet. I still have lots to say.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Haciendo Tortillas (Making Tortillas)

The other day I was lamenting the fact that there are no fresh tortillas in Marion. I never learned to make tortillas in Mexico because you can run down to the corner 7-11 (and there is a 7-11 or Oxxo on ever corner) and pick up a package of fresh hot tortillas.  Here in Marion the best tortillas I can find are at only one Hy Vee (Iowa's version of HEB) which come uncooked and I put them on the comal (a flat rimless pan). They're OK but I still would like to buy a package of the hot and fresh stuff. Asi es. Don't get me started on the nearly nonexistent jalapeƱo section at the store. And if I every buy anything exotic like tomatillos or serrano peppers, I bet 10-1 the clerk will ask me what they are. Anyway, back to my tortilla story. As I said I was lamenting the fact that I can't find good tortillas so I asked one of my Saturday adult students if his wife could show me how to make them. As I related the desire to make tortillas to Will  (he's another story for another time, but I will tell you he's from Reynosa, Mexico), he interrupted me to give me some very important information. Apparently one should not say, "Quiero hacer tortillas con la esposa de Florencio" which translates to "I want to make tortillas with the wife of Florencio".   It's a perfectly good sentence but it has another meaning in Mexico. When two women are making tortillas (hacen tortillas) it means they're in a lesbian relationship... not that there is anything wrong with that.  Basically I told Florencio that I want to get lovey-dovey with his wife and somehow he kept a straight face.  I won't make that mistake again. Just like I won't order "camarones sin ano" - shrimp without assholes - again.

The Oboe. Oh, Boy!

I hate to be one of those apologetic bloggers so I must hate myself for saying I feel bad about not writing more often. I have a lot to say. Being silent is not one of my stronger points. Last spring I applied for grad school at the University of Northern Iowa. Surprise, surprise, they let me in.  It was more like an oh, shit, what the hell were you thinking moment when they accepted me. I am midway through my second class in linguistics and I am proud to say I got a 94/100 in my first class. Facebook has taken over for the immediate need to say things like when my nephew recently decided to take up the oboe. Do you all know what an oboe sounds like?  Check out this youtube video.

Yup, that's what I am listening to as I write. A stepped-on duck. A stepped-on dying duck. He already plays the piano for which I have to listen to Christmas music through March until I scream ENOUGH ALREADY. And then when he joined the school band, they put him in the percussion section so I get to hear pound, pound, pounding of unsteady beats (I'm used to that - my son Brian played drums for 13 years). At least he doesn't get to bring the crash cymbals home. Then I found this website for oboe jokes that I yell to him above the screeching sounds. I played flute in the band. We all knew that oboes were the butt of all jokes.

All kidding aside, the kid (he's in 9th grade) hatched the plan and did all the footwork to start oboe lessons. He is the class vice president and he is thinking of going out for basketball and tennis. Did I mention he had straight A's last year? And straight A's so far this year. Can't complain about any of that. I won't complain about the oboe when he stops sounding like a dying duck.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Online Dating

One of my Facebook friends pasted a link to online dating site profile called IWontMurderYou.  I couldn't resist. Basically this guy's premise is if you go out with him, he won't murder you. He justifies it by saying he's never murdered anyone in the past and will not do so in the future. I especially like his favorite movie Silence of the Lambs that he only likes ironically.  I bet he gets a lot of willing women. I'm tempted to contact him just to find out what is his success rate.

I started nosing around to see what other dating sites are out there without paying a subscription fee and came across DateHookUp and Badoo.  In the interest of not wanting to further publicly humiliate some of the guys (they've already done a good job themselves), I won't post links to the winners I found.  Here is my list of what you should NOT do with your profile:

1. Shirtless.  Not too many guys can pull their shirt off and look good. And if you do look good, then you might come across as a cocky asshole who knows it. 
2. Stupid profile names like HotSexyStallion or anything with the number 69.  You will have a lot to live up to and my bet is 9 times out of 10 the women are disappointed and that is why you have resorted to online dating. Stupid names like that make you look desperate.
3. Shots of the crotch even with clothes. We are not interested in photos. It's how you use it. 
4. Photo of you shaving. Really?  No more explanation needed. Next
5. Photo of you standing in bathroom with one foot on top of the bathtub. No more explanation needed. At least it wasn't the toilet. 
6. Private profile photos. Admit it, asshole, you're married. You shouldn't be lurking around dating sites.
7. The obviously fake profile photo that was taken from a professional advertisement. 
8. Sunglasses.  Eyes are windows to the soul. You're hiding something.
9. Laying on the sofa. If you're too lazy to sit up for a profile photo, I can imagine what it would be like to get you to cut the grass. No thanks. 
10. Sideways shots. If you can't bother rotating your photo, I can't be bothered with turning my head to the side. 

Now excuse me while I go back to profile viewing. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Safe In The Frozen Tundra

It's been cold here in Iowa.  The massive amount of rain over the massive amount of snow this past weekend created massive amount of flooding.  Our garage included. The area between our house and the neighbor's house became a lake because the rain caused a snow slush dam. The dam overflowed and went to the lowest point, our garage. The sump pump in the garage was sucking it out back to the lake which overflowed back to the garage. Vicious cycle.  I have two wonderful neighbors who have come to my rescue more than once and so they did again Saturday. Randy created a trench in the snow out to the street and the lake flowed like a river away from the house. The sump pump pulled out the water and the garage is dry again. Nothing was ruined.

As much as I complain about the Iowa winters, at least it is safe compared to the city I lived in just south of the border. Over the weekend, residents of Reynosa cowered inside their homes while a war was raging outside. Been there. Done that.   And here is a report of some of the shit that went down yesterday.  I've read about videotaped beheadings (I'm warning you, don't go there)dismembered bodies (again, you don't want to go there), but a friend's comment on facebook just grossed me out. He witnessed street dogs eating the remains of a dead body yesterday.  

Damn. Makes my bitching about water in the garage seem petty. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pecking Order

In the natural order of the universe the older siblings pick on the younger ones. Deana, the middle child, picked on Lynn, the baby. I picked on both.

I had a school girl crush on the neighbor boy who was as cute as he was ornery.  When I was about 12 and Lynn was 2, I convinced her to yell at the neighbor boy out the window, "Ronnie is an asshole."  Now, why my 12 year old self thought I should call the neighbor boy a name, especially when I liked him and thought he was cute, is a good question. Ronnie sprinted across the yard, opened our front door and started to chase Lynn through the house. I remember how she came running for me in her white high top Stride Rites hugging my knees for salvation.

Next to Ronnie lived Sherry who spent a lot of time at our house. For whatever reason, we decided to put dog kibble in Lynn's peanut butter sandwich and try to convince her that Mom made a mistake and bought crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy.  Lynn was about 4 or 5 at the time and was getting a little wiser to our evil tricks. She didn't eat it beyond the first bite. 

Then there was time I put a realistic looking hairy tarantula spider toy in her bed. I posed it so it was peeking out from under her pillow.  Her scream brought Dad running. They saw through my protest that I was innocent until proven guilty. "Me? ME?? What did I do?" 

I suppose the worst thing we did was to train our dog to attack Lynn.  Sister Deana was as guilty as I. Remember, the pecking order.  Now let me explain the dog was no serious physical threat. She was an 8 pound fluff ball named Candy, as in cotton candy. She was, by all reports, the craziest neurotic dog we ever owned. She did weird things like pee on the blankets we kept on the sofa in the basement. We always had to do the sniff test before using them. She hated thunderstorms, fire crackers, cars that backfired, or being left alone, and could destroy an entire house in a matter of minutes if pestered by any of these things. Deana and I decided we would train Candy to attack Lynn.  Pointing at Lynn, we would sizzle our s's while commanding the dog, "Ssssick 'em" over and over again.  Especially if Lynn was up the steps trying to come down. And the dog would actually park herself at the bottom of the steps laying in wait for Lynn to bravely take one step. That dog would chase her back up the steps and sometimes attack the socks on Lynn's feet. Lynn would always claim that she was 16 years old before she owned a pair of socks without holes from Candy attacks. 

It may seem kind of weird that this how I share my memories of Lynn today on the 3rd anniversary of losing my baby sister. But we did a lot of wonderful things together. I used to pull her around the neighborhood in a red wagon. I taught her how to ride a bike.  I took her to the park. I filled her backyard pool and chased her with a hose on hot days. I pushed her on the swing and we played in the sandbox. In the years following during family gatherings, it was always funnier to recount the awful things we did to her. I sure wish she was here so we could pick on her some more. You'll always be the baby, Lynn, and, therefore, at the bottom of the pecking order. I love Lynnie, the Pooh.