Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I'm sorry. I haven't visited much in recent weeks. I'm not particularly busy, but I haven't had a lot of computer time, either. Get in, check email, check CrackBook, edit a little, get out.

Thankfully, I have had a few jobs over the last couple of weeks. Small jobs, but I'll take any work I can get.

Something in our house smells really bad. It smells like old balogna. I have a bad feeling that it actually is bologna, because I threw some stale stuff out a few days ago. Knucklehead may have filched it from the trash and buried it somewhere in the living room. It's not uncommon to find chunks of stale Italian bread stuffed down the sofa cushions or buried in the laundry. Goofy dog.

My poor goofy dog. There's definitely something in the works (or not working) with her hindquarters. She's showing definite signs of weakness in her stance and her gait. Thankfully, she's not showing signs of pain. Unfortunately, getting her to the vet isn't an option because, quite frankly, the money isn't there. It sucks. The vet's office used to work with customers a bit, allowing customers to pay bits at a time - especially for surgeries and other costly things - but they no longer do that. I guess he's been burned quite a bit and can't do that any more.

The school year's coming to a close. The kids' last full day is 6/10, and they have half days through 6/17. They'll have ten days off before starting a summer day camp on 6/28. (I wish I'd fully understood the depth of the dog's issues before signing them up for camp last March.)

Precious Daughter is mightily protesting the camp. "Camp sounds booooor-ing," she says. Boring? I think not. Tennis, basketball, swimming, and crafts are just the tip of the iceberg. She still balked. I told her I wasn't going to let her spend another summer parked in front of the TV whining about how bored she is.

Mighty B. has another baseball game tonight. I'm not looking forward to providing snacks, mainly because I never got anyone signed up for it. (For all the good it does, since last week's parent dropped the ball.) If I do this snack-organizing thing next year, I think I'm going to take up a collection from all the parents and just buy a season's worth of juice pouches and cookies and bring them myself each week.

B. also has a make-up game tomorrow night. He's going to be one tired and ornery bear on Friday morning.

I'm sorry for being such a pessimist today. Hopefully my next post, whenever it comes, will have a happier tone. I hope all of you are well!

Yeah, I know. I'm a slug. I have pictures on the camera and haven't uploaded anything to here or FB. I will. Eventually.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers' Day!

Yes, I know, there are only 16 minutes remaining, but it's been a busy day. This is my first opportunity to put my feet up and surf a little bit.

Saturday was a first for me. The Home & School Association held a Mothers' Day plant sale on Friday. My kids came home with a lovely selection of flowers that needed to be planted, and I decided that I wasn't going to put them in large pots as I had in years past. Thanks to the help of a local garden shop (the same, in fact, that supplied the flowers for the H&S sale), I actually dug out a spot at the base of our lamppost, and Mighty B. helped me plant everything Saturday morning. It looks really nice.

Yes, I could have used the biiiiig flower beds on the side of the house or in the front yard, the ones I've been working on, but it seemed silly to plant eleven little plants in such a huge space. And I've been wanting something by the lamppost for a while.

I just hope that they don't freeze tonight. And I hope Knucklehead doesn't trample them. She's already run through the bed twice, kicking up mulch. Oh. She buried one of my gardening gloves too. I can't find it anywhere. I just hope it's not under the flowers.

The second grade at the kids' school celebrated First Holy Communion yesterday. Today, all the kids were asked to return in their Communion clothes for the 9:00 a.m. mass, and we served goodies to the kids and their parents in the church hall afterward. Tradition has it that the first-grade parents help with the reception, since our kids will be making this sacrament next year.

My job was to pick up sticky buns, two big boxes each containing a 24 x 36 sheet of sticky buns. Lordy, they smelled divine. They were decorated with white, pink, and blue frosting (gurk!). Why, oh why, do you feed a bunch of eight-year-old children dressed in expensive all white clothing pink and blue frosting?

The frosting was a good thing for me, though, because it kept me from eating the sticky buns. (It did not, however, stop me from buying a butter cake while I was in the bakery. It's probably the best butter cake we've ever eaten.)

In the afternoon, we made dinner for my in-laws. Yeah, I know. People say I shouldn't have to cook on Mothers' Day. It wasn't actually planned as a Mothers' Day dinner. The Oracle and my FIL wanted to talk some stuff over, and I offered dinner as a way to make that happen. During the week it's too crazy and he doesn't get a chance to stop by their house. Anyway, I love to cook. I like it much better than housework. Much to my relief, The Oracle handled the bulk of the crisis cleaning while I was at the church. AND he peeled the potatoes. I hate peeling potatoes. If I could get away with mashing 'em with the skins on, I would. My in-laws brought lemon meringue and apple crumb pies for dessert. YUM!!!

In addition to the flowers from the plant sale, my kids treated me to the neatest stuff.

Mighty B. painted a heart-shaped wooden pin and decorated it with foam stickers. He also made a card and a little booklet outlining my (his?) favorite recipe and a booklet of coupons for things like setting the table and picking up without being asked. (Of course, if I present the coupon, doesn't that mean I'm asking him to do it?) He made all this cool stuff in school.

Precious Daughter also made a card ("Mom, U rock!"), and in her class she made a "snow globe." It's a 16 oz. plastic bottle of water heavily dosed with multicolored glitter. Inside is a laminated picture of Precious Daughter. It's really cool, but there's something weird about shaking my daughter upside-down to swirl the glitter around.

All in all, it was a fun day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Punctuation Vent

I've noticed that when I start going stir crazy, it's due in part to an astonishing lack of leisure reading. You'd think I'd get my share with all the books my kids read, because I make sure to read everything they do. Now that they're getting older, the selection is getting better. I just finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Anyway, I've started reading Dark of the Moon by John Sandford. Several years ago, E introduced me to John Sandford and the Prey novels and I really enjoyed them. I have, however, lost complete track of which ones I've read, and he's written a number of them since I fell out of the Sandford habit. I need to do some homework before signing out another, because nothing irks me more than tucking into what I think is a new (to me) book and discovering that I already know the ending.

So, anyway, Dark of the Moon isn't part of the Prey series, but it branched off Prey and became another series all its own. I didn't know that, either, but I'll get over it. I like to read a series in order because the later stories tend to reference the former, and I hate having a surprise spoiled.

I'm anal retentive with commas and punctuation. I have to be in my line of work. If you sent me a letter with misplaced commas and such, I really don't care. You're taking the time to write me, and I'm happy for it. I know I'm miles away from perfect on this blog, too. It's hard to catch mistakes when you're nose is in it from beginning to end, but I'm not paying for someone to proofread my blog, and I'm not making anyone pay to read it. I think it matters when people are paying for what you've written, whether it's a lawyer paying for my transcripts or an author charging for his novels.

Sandford, in my opinion, needs to slap his editor or his proofreader or whoever it is that allowed this book to reach the store shelves. If he insisted on publishing exactly what I'm reading, then HE needs to be slapped. I'm barely sixty pages into it, and my eyes hurt from all the comma oddities.

Let's have a grammar lesson, shall we?

Sentences involve two types of clauses, the dependent clause and the independent clause.

The independent clause is exactly that. It's independent. It is complete with a subject and a verb. "I went to the store." It can stand on its own as a sentence or be joined to another with a comma followed by a coordinating conjuction (, and) or by use of a semicolon (;).

A dependent clause is one that is not complete. It needs something to finish it off. It has to depend on something else to make it whole. "Before I went swimming." Please read that aloud. It feels unfinished, doesn't it? Before you went swimming...what? What did you do? The thought is incomplete.

(Bear with me. We're getting close to why I'm so annoyed and why I can't read another page of this novel until I get this out of my system.)

Using my sample phrases, you may or may not use a comma to join them together and make a complete sentence.

"I went to the store before I went swimming." No comma required.
"Before I went swimming, I went to the store." Comma required.

DO NOT write, "I went to the store, before I went swimming" unless you plan to add more information. "I went to the store, before I went swimming, and bought a bottle of waterproof sunscreen."

In this case, "before I went swimming" is bracketed by commas because it's information that's not essential to the sentence "I went to the store and bought a bottle of sunscreen." You can pluck out that clause between the commas and still have a grammatically-correct sentence.

So, why is John Sandford's book driving me crazy?

  1. I busted him for robbery, when I was a deputy. This one is simple. Dump the comma and it's fine.
  2. Her name is Margaret Laymon and she called me up, about five minutes ago. This one is really irksome. When two independent clauses are separated by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, for, no, so, yet), a comma is placed before the conjunction. The rule isn't hard and fast. If the clauses are short, you can drop the comma. Her name is Margaret Laymon and she called me up. That's fine until you reach "about five minutes ago." Now it's a long clause and needs a comma, and that comma belongs before "and." Her name is Margarget Laymon, and she called me up about five minutes ago.
  3. Yes, and he's got several parcels of good land down south of here, that'll be a nice chunk of cash. "That'll be a nice chunk of cash" has no business being tied to that sentence with only a comma and no conjunction. It either needs to stand on its own as a separate sentence or be joined with a semicolon. Yes, and he's got several parcels of good land down south of here; that'll be a nice chunk of cash.
  4. The creeks and ditches sometimes collected into larger streams, usually a snaky line of oxbows cut a few dozen feet deep in the soil; and sometimes into marshes or shallow lakes. This one is like skewers to my eyeballs. I understand that the effort is to describe the larger streams as "oxbows," and the clause running from "usually" to "soil" isn't critical to the sentence. The creeks and ditches sometimes collected into larger streams and sometimes into marshes or shallow lakes. I simply don't "get" what that semicolon is for. My senses tell me it should be a comma. If you're really worried about confusing your reader with all those commas, you can use dashes. The creeks and ditches sometimes collected into larger streams -- usually a snaky line of oxbows cut a few dozen feet deep in the soil -- and sometimes into marshes or shallow lakes.

Ahhhhhh, that's better. Thank you. Maybe I'll be able to enjoy the next sixty pages this book instead of getting constantly poked in the eye with crappy punctuation.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


This post by E triggered a few thoughts, and since I've neglected my blog so badly I thought they'd be worth sharing. (Shoot, anything that gets me here and writing is probably worth sharing.)

In the mid '90s, I worked at a business that sold freshly-made pasta. Their pasta was wonderfully light, and that lightness was due to the dozens of eggs that went into each batch of pasta. E mentions that double-yolked eggs are an unusual occurrence. I guess they are, but we got plenty of them at the pasta place. I guess they weigh in differently or something, and that's how they get boxed up for foodservice use.

Whenever I can, I prefer to buy organic eggs. One afternoon, I approach the dairy section and am dismayed to see a slightly disheveled-looking man poking about in several opened boxes of organic eggs. This really annoyed me, because I didn't want some stranger's hands in what could be my box of eggs. Yeah, I know, several people had already handled them before they wound up in their little cardboard box.

I asked him what he was doing. It seems he was perplexed by the many different shades of brown in the organic egg boxes, and he was trying to find a box with eggs that were all the same color.