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2010-05-20 - 11:58 a.m.

...And how has YOUR May been?....

Ok, I'm at work, eating lunch, and very carefully chewing on the left side of my mouth. (more about that soon).

When we last left our teranika, she was dealing with swamps and big-ass cedars. So, what is she dealing with now?

The Christian gardener came back with his staff and did his work and then some .. and charged us for the work we didn't ask for.. Interesting how the max estimate went up by 20% when we weren't looking. And how easy it is for that to happen when you ask for a quote but they never send one. Given that this is all for a good cause, I think that I will quietly pay the bill and then just not ask them back for help on the bigger work that we had planned.

We also made progress with the swamp. The contractor came in and said the job would be done in two days. Y'all may not be surprised to hear that ten days, busted concrete, some dead plants, and missing sod and a higher bill later...the job appears to be finished. The dudes dug down and found a gigantic wad of concrete buried in our yard --> no drainage. So they broke up and dug out the concrete - which took an extra day. And then they had to wait for the sod. To grow? you ask? No, just to get the stuff on the truck. But now the stuff is in the yard and looks vaguely like a golf green. Not really what I wanted. But hey, in time, I'm sure the appropriate number of weeds will invade and it will look like a normal garden again.

So what else? Mother's Day. I happily bit down on my MOther's Day scrambled eggs, and WOMK. My in-lay popped out. I actually think that the black licorice dislodged it the day before, but those really solid scrambled eggs were the proverbial straw on the camel. Went in to the dentist the following day and got an emergency glue-job, and then luckily got wedged in the next day because of a cancellation. Spent THREE HOURS getting drilled for a new crown the next day. THREE FRIGGIN' HOURS with a drill in my mouth.

Just shoot me.

So they did. They gave me an anxiety med as a muscle relaxant. Now, everyone at the dentist's office seems to this that this is highly abnormal, but the following day I had a raging stomach flu and came down with a fever.

Of course, all this happened while I was on a day trip to give a seminar out at Island University. Interestingly, there was one dude in the audience who was really critical of my talk. I mean, really critical. But when you are just trying desperately to stand in front of an audience and not grimace with the effort of holding everything in? You just don't care. I just kinda shrugged at his comment and said, "Really? I guess I don't see it that way."

And all of this was happening while the issues with Problem Student have come to a head. Problem Student's exams are coming up shortly, and I have finally come to the definitive conclusion that, pass or fail, I no longer want to be involved. In short, Problem Student has been dishonest to me and about me to my colleagues. Problem Student has been here for quite a while and has accomplished very little of what has been requested. For whatever reason (and I have ideas of what those reasons are), Problem Student simply does not follow my instruction.

I have been dutifully keeping records, but as the exam period approached, and I made this realization, I decided that I needed to have official assurances that I would not be stuck in a non-productive relationship. So I involved the Dean, and shortly thereafter the Associate Dean, the Director, the Chair, and I think even the janitorial staff have now had a say in this. It's been a lot of talking, a lot of meetings, a lot of writing, and most of all A LOT OF STRESSFUL TIME. But the good thing is that the situation is well-reported, I am aware of my options, and people are aware of my frustration, and we have a process in place. As much as I would love to rant here, I think that I've said enough.

So now the tooth is in place, the lawn is in place, and the process is in place. And I'm sitting here questioning myself. Not about teeth and lawns, obviously.

I also received my evaluations for this year. Admittedly, I've had a very stressful term - there are ALWAYS external things that I can point to as causes. But these days, I am jsut frustrated with myself for not being able to do a better job. I want to be a better communicator. I want to be a better teacher. I want to be a better writer. I want to be a better supervisor. I want to be a better person than I feel that I am right now. I just want to do better. I think that pretty much sums it up. Although, I could add, I want to be happier, healthier, and a better family member, too.

So those are my goals.

And so I end on a positive note, though, I can briefly mention our weekend trip to the USA. Sunday morning we popped ourselves in the car and decided to drive south of the border to go to the beach.

We got in the car and decided to teach Susi how to say, "U! S! A!" Best we got out of her was "S Number 2!" (No, I have no idea where the split ends in these synapses are.) So we abandoned our attempts at cute empty 2-yr-old flattery getting us through the border crossing more quickly.

Turns out the every Canadian and her brothers were trying to get over the border that day. 45 minutes later, we made it into the building to secure K's I-94 visa....and saw the INSIDE line. There's really no turning back at this point. So K got in line and I spent the next hour chasing Susi around the room and keeping her out of places marked "No Admittance." Because, really, you don't wanna be going into places marked "No Admittance" at a border crossing where everyone is ARMED.

Lessons from this experience? ALWAYS. BRING. TOYS. TO. THE. BORDER.

I brought lunch, but I forgot the friggin' TOYS! So we ran around and Susi internalized,

"FLAG! No touch flag. FLAG! No touch flag. FLAG! No touch..." and in typical two year old fashion this repetition went ON and ON and ON...

Things were getting a little bit iffy after one lady refused to sit down when requested by the staff to do so, and three guards piled out and stood ten feet away from her while she refused to sit. It was a very bizarre incident, and it didn't help that the lady was particularly impatient and loud.

So I was trying very very VERY hard to keep Susi from racing through the aisles. (I have been chastised before and asked to sit down, too, and I was anticipating this request. When this happens I smile and blame the 2-yr-old.)

Discovered a GREAT toy at the border. The electronic door opener. AMAZING. It was Susi's first experience with an electronic door. And thank you god for that experience. We then spent the next half hour opening the doors for all of the nice officers coming in and out of the visa room, and with running commentary:

"Push the button!"

"Oh! Open!"

"Wait for it."


"Push the button!"

Ad nauseum.

Pretty soon, fellow line-standers were coaching Susi about when to open and close the door. "NOW!" as an Italian family came through. And as we left, the guard by door offered Susi a job.

And so we moved on. After a walk on the pier and a coffee in Bellingham, we went to Birch Bay park to hang out at the beach.

After Papa rolled up Susi's pants, she went charging into the water, about 8 feet out onto the slippery rocks. Papa, charmed by the endless cuteness of our child's first real experience with the beach, ran back to the car to get the camera, leaving Mama (in her expensive leather sandals) to deal with the subsequent, less-confident, "mama hand? mama help?" as Susi realized just how slippery those rocks ARE...

So Mama was standing on the beach piled up with towel, ball, sweatshirt, food, blanket, etc., just as Susi fell over into the surf. 8 feet out. (to reassure all of you - this is the lamest surf you've ever encountered. In fact, I feel kind of disingenuous referring to it as surf. It's more like a bathtub ripple.)

So Mama looked at the slippery rocks covered in skin-wrecking barnacles of the Pacific Northwest Rocky Intertidal Zone. And she looked at her child 8 feet out sitting in the surf. And she looked at the stuff piled in her hands. And finally at her expensive leather shoes...

With a deep sigh, she said, "Susi, hold on, Mama will be RIGHT there." and she turned around to walk up the beach to put down the bundle of crap in her arms (hoping that papa would return quickly and let HIS $20 crap sneakers bear the brunt of walking in the saltwater. ahem. BEACH. WHY DIDN'T EITHER OF US BRING BEACH SHOES?).

And as she turned around, all she heard from the surf was a COMPLETELY panicked, "MAAAMMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" emitting from the child on the rocks eight feet out in the surf. Never before have I heard my daughter panicked that her mother was leaving her. And let me tell you, it was enough to impress EVERYONE on the beach as well. So Mama turned around and heaved a sigh as her shoes hit the saltwater.

And all was well. Susi spent the next half hour clutching onto Mama with one hand and throwing clam shells with the other. Mama, on the other hand, tried to teach Susi a few things about the rocky intertidal zone. Susi did well with clam and crab. I think we'll have to wait a few years before she gets limpet, Littorina, Venerupis, and Chthalamus ballanoides....;-) At least she was as happy as a clam.

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