Thursday, June 28, 2007


I reached a new milestone since I last blogged. Last week I visited my eye doctor, just knowing that the inevitable would happen this year. And it did. I now wear reading glasses. I knew it was coming. For a while now I've been sitting as far away from my laptop as my arms will reach. When I read a book, I have to move the book around every so often and look at it from a slightly different angle. I was starting to squint at things. The doctor said that I was suffering from eye strain and said that I would feel better if I wore reading glasses. The good news was that my distance vision is still very good, so I was able to avoid the dreaded bifocals. I swear I will never wear bifocals.

I am reminded at this point of an English teacher I had in high school. She wore two kinds of glasses--a pair for distance and a pair for reading. In class she didn't have to use the distance glasses, but when she wanted to read something she'd put on her reading glasses, read a few lines, look up and take them back off. It was sort of her trademark, repeatedly putting her glasses on and taking them back off. My eye doctor told me that I need to wear my glasses only when I'm going to be reading or working at the computer for long stretches, so maybe I won't become like my eleventh grade English teacher.

Shopping for reading glasses was not an altogether unpleasant experience. The girl who helped me was very friendly and honest and helped me to avoid any glasses that might make me look like a professor. I've never been a vain person, but I rather enjoy being mistaken for a college student when I'm at work, so I certainly did not want glasses that would make me look older. I picked up some brown glasses sort of the same color as my tortoise-shell sunglasses, put them on, and took them right back off again. Right then I decided to stay away from any drab colors. Since I don't have to wear these glasses all the time, I reasoned, why not go for something sort of funky, so I tried on pink glasses and green glasses and red glasses and multicolored glasses. I finally settled on a pair of turquoise and tan glasses that look nice with my eye color and will coordinate with most of my clothes.

When I used my glasses the first time I was sort of shocked. I opened my bible, looked at the words, and then put on my glasses. "Whoa!" I said. Although my eyes aren't in that bad of shape, I was amazed at the difference. I guess I'm sort of surprised since I've been an avid reader since I learned to read that this day didn't come sooner. I just hope that as the rest of my body starts to wear out, correcting the problems will be as simple as a new pair of glasses.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's Time for Passover Again

Here's a wonderful piece of information I received in a newsletter from the president of my university:

"State legislators for the second consecutive year approved increased general operating funds for state colleges and universities. Seventy million dollars for new operating funds and 3 % across-the-board employee salary increases were approved.

"The 3% salary increase will be effective July 1. . . . The percentage raise will not apply to adjunct faculty, temporary employees, graduate assistants or student workers."

At my school, temporary faculty teach most of the general education courses--those classes that are required for all students (English, math, etc.). More and more, universities across the country are relying on temporary faculty; however, these same faculty are continually short-changed when it comes to raises and benefits. (I'm one of the lucky ones who does receive good benefits.) These faculty also typically teach twice the number of students per semester than their tenured or tenure-track counterparts.

This is the second consecutive year that temporary faculty will be passed over for a raise. I would complain about it, but because I had to reapply for my job this year and I haven't heard anything yet, I think it's better to keep my mouth shut. But this continual neglect is causing me to rethink how hard I want to work at my job this coming fall.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Today we finally got some much needed rain. Maybe now the grass in my yard won't be crunchy. But I doubt that whatever rain we get today will do much to alleviate the drought we're in.

Nothing much is happening around my house. We get up around 5:30; Husband goes to work, and I stay home and do laundry, study my bible, and think up something good for supper, or think up a scheme to get to go out for supper. That hardly ever works on a weeknight, however.
We're planning a fun weekend outing. We're going to canoe on the Caney Fork river on Sunday morning, putting in at the Center Hill dam and getting out at Betty's Island. We had a lot of fun the last time we went, and this time should be even better since we just got a new canoe. I can't wait to get it on the river. It's sort of hard to know how well it will handle just trying it out in my brother's swimming pool, but we got a pretty good idea that it's not nearly as tippy as our previous canoe. (Yes, we actually did try out the canoe in the pool. It was the highlight of our day--we're easily amused.)

Is everyone else having as uneventful a summer as I am?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Book Report

Tony recommended that I read Doug Marlette’s novel The Bridge, saying that I would love it. He was right; it is an excellent story. The primary story takes place in the present day, but a secondary story—what the main character, Pickard, learns about his family heritage—takes place in the late 1920’s through the 30’s, the main character of which is Pickard’s grandmother, Mama Lucy.

This is a novel that can be read more than once, and the reader can explore different themes during each reading. I particularly enjoyed the little history lesson presented in the story, one that I had never really learned about in school. Mama Lucy grew up in the South working in the textile mills weaving cloth. Her story centers on the textile workers’ strikes during the 1920’s and 30’s and the workers’ attempts at unionizing and petitioning their bosses for better pay and working conditions. What Mama Lucy experiences during this time is fundamental in shaping her actions and attitudes later in life towards her family.

Family dynamics, particularly those of Southern families, forms a major theme in this novel. Mama Lucy is the cause of much friction in the family. When she is first introduced, she a frail but feisty old woman celebrating her ninetieth birthday and resisting being sent to a nursing home. She still does all she can to exercise control over her grown children and grandchildren. Her family consists of a very colorful bunch, very few of which made it past high school, and those who did (Pickard) are viewed with suspicion. Pickard describes his extended family in the scene leading up to his attendance at his grandmother’s birthday party and family reunion:

The Cantrells are a fiercely modest clan, not given to ostentatious displays of personal wealth, material possessions, or hubris of any kind. Any and all forms of “showin’ off,” “puttin’ on airs,” or “gittin’ above your raisin’” are generally frowned upon in my family, and whatever pride we might possess is religiously suppressed, except when it comes to our means of transportation. Any residual Cantrell strut and boast is channeled into the chrome and paint jobs or the horsepower per cubic inch under the hoods of our latest set of wheels. We Cantrells may not go far in the world, but we’ll get there in style. No wonder a number of my relatives made their livings working on and around combustible engines—as garage mechanics, car dealers, auto parts specialists, service station attendants. Ambition in my family was gauged by whether you wanted to pump hi-test.

Pickard’s cousin describes ambition as the “Southern Disease,” a virus that should be avoided at all costs because “nobody likes it when somebody breaks with the rest of the herd. It pressures the rest to do the same, and that’s risky.”

Despite their various feuds and alliances (which will likely remind readers of some of their own past and ongoing family dramas), the extended family is very protective of each other, not allowing anyone, including other family members, to speak negatively of the family in pubic. When a particularly “redneck” cousin decides to badmouth Pickard at the reunion, another cousin comes to Pickard’s defense with a threat that I found particularly hilarious: “I want you to apologize to Pick, ‘fore I rip you a new asshole and rearrange your digestive tract to where you don’t know whether to piss or fart.” If the offender had been someone outside the family, he likely would not have received fair warning before being subjected to such a procedure.

In his dealings with his family, the main character Pickard enters upon a journey of self-discovery. Along his journey, the novel explores many other themes such as loyalty, betrayal, resentment, and forgiveness, not only within the family dynamic, but in other venues as well. This is a novel that can be read and interpreted on many different levels, and readers certainly will see parallels to their own lives in this very engrossing story. I will definitely look for other titles by this author.

If you've read it, let's talk about it. (Do I get an A, Tony?)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rest In Peace, Woody

My dogs and I will miss seeing you jumping out of your Element and christening cars on Saturday mornings.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bored and withering up like this tree

The lack of rain has taken its toll on the vegetation in my yard. I have watered this tree repeatedly, but as you can tell, my efforts seem futile. It's weird, though, that this tree is the only one that is suffering to this degree. The grass looks pretty bad, too. I last mowed the yard nearly three weeks ago. Husband mowed a little yesterday, but it didn't seem all that necessary.

Life since school has been out has been extremely slow. I have been doing some housework that needed to be done, and I've been putting off some tasks that I know will be very boring. It's sort of ironic, though, that I fear that August will come much sooner than I'd like.

I"ve been reading some. I read a book called The Faith and the Power. It's a history of the time between the crucifiction and the destruction of Jerusalem. Very interesting. Then I started a mystery novel that I picked up for a dollar a couple of weeks ago, but I'm having trouble getting into it.

I have not listened to very much news. It seems that every time I turn it on, it's the same stuff. I'm tired of hearing about Paris Hilton. The story about the tuburculosis guy was mildly interesting. I don't care about hearing from the presidential candidates because I don't see much point in following them this early in the game. Besides, the media will choose the top two in each party and that will be that.

I have not posted in over a week because I have nothing to say. The problem is I still want to blog. I like writing. Someone please give me a writing assignment.