31 December 2010

Last Post o' the Year

To end the year, I thought we'd revisit my birthday list. Now that I'm 37 7/12, let's see if I've made any progress. Visit the original to see the whole thing. I'll just list the ones here that I've completed or made progress on.

9. Let go of all my old shame/guilt for stuff that doesn't matter to anyone but me. This, of course, is ongoing, but generally the last 7 months I've been fairly successful at it. Which is really something, considering Shaun's health and Mary's health and V's hairballs and the whole giant mess.

10. Take $haun to Vegas. Done!

12. Take a few sabbaticals: I've applied for my first. Because my college expanded immensely about 6-7 years ago, many of my colleagues became eligible for sabbatical at the same time. Which has created a backlog, so I would not be surprised if my sabbatical is not granted this year. But at least I've written one. You can't get a sabbatical if you don't apply.

13. Teach a class on circus freaks. This may be a few years down the road, but I did work both the movie Freaks and a lengthy power-point enhannced lecture on the history of the American Freak. So fantastic.
31. Find Tim Johnson and Shannon Welch, twolong lost friends (from college & elementary school respectively). One down, one to go. Via Facebook, someone read this post and told me someone they were friends with who was friends with Shannon. That was very exciting! Now, dear readers, help me find Tim Johnson. C'mon.

32. Watch the series finale of LOST. We did this the the evening of my birthday. It remains one of my favorite shows ever. Plus it was a good way to get a running start on the 37 things.

Since I've given myself 37 years to complete these 37 things, I think progress on four and completion of 2 is a pretty good start.

I've never been a fan of resolutions, but this ongoing list is a type of resolution, I suppose.

Oh, 2010, you've been a royal bear. I sure hope 2011 is much calmer, gentler, and healthier for us all. Languishing wishes all of you a very blessed New Year.

List #12: Things my Daddy Taught Me

Winter storms are dangerous. Frankly, it's a miracle that no one has been more severely hurt yet. It was just over a year ago that I posted on this very theme, but clearly some residents of this area have for some reason not read my blog or have chosen not to heed my advice. So I'm going to spell it out more clearly. I often have this conversation with my students (especially when we have first-time-winter-experiencers, whether from Kentucky or Kenya), because I worry that they don't have anyone to tell them the important elements. Our tri-state area should make some kind of pamphlet for new residents. Here's what I would include:

1. Listen to the weather. This seems obvious, but many of my students only get their weather from Facebook, which scares me. Of course, it's not that much different than just getting my news in college from Kurt Loder, but Kurt Loder never let me wander around in a blizzard.

2. Keep your car full of gas. I know that with gas near $3 a gallon, this is not always easy. But if you end up on I-29 as night is falling, and you run out of gas, what are you going to do for the three hours (or more) it takes the authorities to come and get you? And even if your car has four-wheel drive, you know that you can still go in the ditch, right? It's not like all 100 of the cars on 94 yesterday were just Ford Focuses. An ambulance came from Valley City (60 miles away) last night, and even though they were lead by several snowplows, it took them three hours to get here. Your car cannot run for 3 hours on 1/8 of a tank of gas. Honest.

3. Get winter clothes, even if you don't want to wear them. The guy the highway patrol found on interstate with just shorts on, in a stalled car? See, he would have been a lot safer if he'd at least had freaking pants in his car.  I worry that our access to cell phones has made us all a little stupider, because we feel like we are always within reach of assistance. But just calling for help is not always the hardest part.

4. Get a hobby. It's okay if you have to stay home, people. To make your hobby help your chances of survival, consider becoming a Mormon. One of the tenets of their religion requires that each Mormon family have enough stored food to live 1-3 years. YEARS. See, if you were a Mormon, you wouldn't need to go to Hornbacher's right now.

5. When the highway patrol says no travel except in emergencies, you should stay home. You should not go to Target. And the though I understand the importance of fresh fruit, you probably don't really need groceries either, once the storm starts. We should all plan ahead a little bit, especially since we're listening to the weather more now, per #1. And if you've followed point #4's advice, all your neighbors will know where to come to borrow a cup of sugar.

Okay, I need to stop this list now, and go shovel, because there's another storm coming tonight. I'm not sure if we can get out of our front door. But be safe, people, and stay warm, and try not to be stupid. That's what my Daddy would want you to do.

29 December 2010

Mail call

One thing about sending a letter or better everyday to the same person is I become very concerned with repeating myself. My life is not all that fascinating (said the blogger...ha ha ha...), and though my craft supplies are extensive, I still strive to mix things up in most any way I can think of. Here are 5 recent letters, ready to be stamped and mailed. They come from a boxed set of blank cards I found at Michael's; I love the rich colors. But different colors do not make interesting enough distinctions after a while, I find. So I practice my best penmanship on one address, then make my letters blocky and s   p   r   e   a   d    o    u   t  for the next one. I wish I had mastered calligraphy, or at least practiced more. Or could at least find those fancy pens. Must search through more crafting boxes!

(The return address IS repetitive, I realize, but it's a self-inking kinda thing that I just rediscovered, and it makes me happy. So much for mixing things up.)

ps: I've almost reached my 106 posts goal! Wheeee!

28 December 2010

List #11: The good parts of 2010

As the year whirls to an end, and I try to meet my self-prescribed post quota, I've decided to try to come up with 9 good things that happened this year. Let's see if it works.

9. We got our second car. It still makes me happy every time I drive it, even though it was damaged in the fender-bender on the Worst Day Ever. But let's not talk about that.

8. There was a magnificent wall of mushrooms near Lake Belle Taine.

7. I started using a 35mm camera, and I liked it. Now I just need to find a reliable, talented developer. Suggestions are welcome.

6. V learned to ride her bike. Another step to growing up. For Christmas, I got my own bike helmet, so I won't feel like such a hypocrite when we go for bike rides together.

5. I started my genius list project. (I don't know why I call it genius, especially since I saw a bunch of other folks doing it first).

4. V and I went camping again. I hope we can do that at least once a year until she abhors me, and beyond.

3. The Red River Valley Fair was pretty awesome for us this year.

2. V had one heckuva birthday party.

1. Shaun and I got to go to Vegas together for the first (and hopefully not last) time. And linking to that post, I just realized I never wrote the follow-up post with more Vegas pictures. Maybe we'll do that in February, when things are so cold and so dark.

There were other good things too, like cookie decorating with my side of the family, and spending time with Tenessa's family at (sadly) two funerals, and trips to Minneapolis, and a long visit with Tami, and one or two good hangovers, and my birthday list of 37 things I want to do, and Beth and Chris and Jake moved back to Minnesota, and V went skinny dipping in October, and Crystal and my students had a rocking good art show, and, jeez, I guess there was more good in 2010 than I realized. I love it when a blog post helps me look on the bright side.

What're your 2010 highlights? Aside from reading Languishing, of course. Do tell.

27 December 2010

Marie's Camera

While visiting the in-laws last week (for the first time in months! it was fantastic to see them!), I noticed an older model 35mm NikonF. My in-laws have a general fondness for their digital camera, but neither David nor Mary were, to my knowledge, all that interested in photography. So when I saw a gigantic lens to go with the Nikon, I was even more confused.
But it turns out that David's mother, Marie, was a very interested in photography. We found a receipt in her papers for a camera dated 1948: she paid $208 (which translates to $1,909 in 2010 dollars). The Nikon F was released in 1959, and she must've upgraded around then.

As a family history nerd, this kind of thing normally makes me giddy: my great-grandfather's saw, for example. But I know very little about Shaun's grandmother (she died when he was in college). I know she was extremely frugal, and did not have an easy life. She raised six children without indoor plumbing until the youngest was at least in junior high school. She was not, as I understand it, terribly sentimental, an attribute I tend to attach to everyone in my past, because I am so very sentimental myself. And so, holding her camera, which she took very good care of (she saved the instruction booklet it came with, and had a fine leather case for the camera and her multiple lenses) felt very strange. This woman's grandson is my husband: my daughter is genetically 1/8 her. (Well, mathematically. Or something. I don't know enough about genetics to just leave that sentence unattended). But I just discovered she was a photographer last week. I've never seen one of her photographs, or eaten cookies made from her favorite recipes. I don't know her from anyone. But she raised the man who would raise the man I would marry. It sort of breaks my brain.

I took all the photos in this post on Wednesday, 23 December 2010 with Marie's Nikon F. The camera is over 50 years old, and the original owner has been dead well over a decade. The film was terribly outdated: I found it among the receipts in the camera bag, and loaded it carefully. I had no idea if any of them would turn out.
I never knew her, but I'm grateful, even for just these four photos, and an inter-generational connection I never expected on this gray December day.

23 December 2010

List #10.5: More mediocre but heartfelt gift ideas!

Thanks for tuning in for part #2. If you missed part #1, go here first. Thank you for your patronage.

4. As I mentioned in earlier gift posts, gift cards are pretty lame, overall. But if you're out of time, sometimes it's the only thing you can do. In this case, consider something out of the ordinary. Target & Amazon are really fun, sure, but not especially memorable. I mean, I've appreciated every gift card I've ever received, but I don't remember what I bought with hardly any of them. Consider Sock Dreams, who will e-mail your gift card to your recipient. On the other end of the spectrum, consider an Ax-Man gift card. I'm not sure if they even sell gift cards, but Tenessa once gave me a fancy handwritten slip of paper that said she'd buy me $25 worth of stuff from Ax-man. This meant we got to go together (and do you have ANY IDEA what $25 will buy at Ax-man?) and share the joy. So, so much joy.

3. Perhaps you're broke, or trying to save up for rhinoplasty, or just don't know where you put your wallet. That's okay. Look around your house and find something your recipient would enjoy. Now, I'm not talking about cleaning out your dryer's lint trap for your sister, here, unless she's really into that. But perhaps she has always loved your silver dollar key chain, or has never read your favorite novel. There is nothing wrong with a used gift, especially if it is well loved by all parties. Be careful to avoid lovingly used items such as toothbrushes or panties, though. Wait...it depends on the recipient again. Never mind.

2. Consider simplicity. My friend Joel used to (and may still...we haven't talked about this in awhile) go to a bookstore on December 23rd or 24th and do all his shopping in one afternoon. I adore this idea: any decent bookstore will hold all kinds of inspiration and something for everyone on your list.

1. Go big or go home. This can create all kinds of awkwardness, but really, isn't that what the holidays are all about? Scrimp and save all year and/or take out a new credit card and buy ridiculously extravagant gifts for everyone on your list. Trips are almost always breathtaking, for example, and couldn't your mail carrier use a week in Vegas? Your mother-in-law may only buy you socks and underwear every year, but that doesn't mean you can't get her a 300 carat sapphire pendant that makes that Titanic necklace look quaint. It may raise eyebrows, but I guarantee she'll never forget this Christmas.

Time's a-wasting, people. Get to work, get your gifts done, and then eat some cookies and drink some 'nog. May your gift giving be even more rewarding than your gift receiving.

Six posts in eight days....and List #10: Holiday gift ideas

...is not unlike Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Except there are no brides. Or brothers. Or singing. But otherwise, totally similar.

I try to beat each previous year's number of posts, see. Last year I had 104, and the year before, 106. So I'm shooting for a tie with 2008, which leaves me with 6 more posts to do before the end of the year. Are you up for it, Languishingland? Can you handle that much Languishing in a little over a week?

Me neither. But let's try anyway, shall we?

For the first of six posts, I decided to provide a rambling introduction full of non-sequitors (check) and then go into last minute gift ideas. I know that you're not completely done shopping yet (or, if you're like Shaun, you haven't yet started), so I want to help you. Here're the best ideas I've got this year. For more best ideas, check out this post from 2007.
9. A gift certificate for a salon something-or-other. If you know where your recipient likes to go, that's a good choice, or offer someplace new (and therefore exciting!) Consider, if you're one of my Big City Friends, Tami Holtan at East 42nd Street Salon. I fell in love with Tami 19 years ago in college, and if you don't know her yet, you should. Giving a gift to visit Tami is seriously the one of the nicest things you could do for anyone. In the Fargo-Moorhead metro, I recommend Juliet at Cloud Nine Salon and Day Spa. It's a lovely space, and my sister swears Juliet is as close as she's found to Tami in this part of the world.

8. Consumables. I love clutter, and consider it an afront that those Hoarder's shows haven't come to my doorstep yet, but I also appreciate the glut of stuff so many of us have. These are also good gifts for people who are moving or people you don't know especially well, or can't think of something meaningful for. A bottle of even cheap champagne (I mean sparkling wine) is always fun, or perhaps some fancy ice cream toppings. Go beyond the tins of popcorn or box of chocolate-covered cherries and consider a fancy salad dressing or delightful cheese. Tenessa once gave me a jar of finely minced green olives, and as I mixed them with cream cheese and ate them on crackers, I missed her a little less.

7. Art supplies. I know you're thinking "but jen, my recipient is not an artist!" Ah, I am replying, but maybe he is. Provide a small, nice-quality journal (you can get one for about $5) and some good fine-tipped pens, and her high-school doodling hobby will come rushing back.

6. Go practical. Like #8, these are things that get used up. But these are not edible: think a giant box of garbage bags, or a deluxe jumbo package of toilet paper. Consider, though: How much room you have for gifts in your car, how much wrapping paper you are willing to put into one gift. Pros: You'll look super generous, at least until they open that giant package.

5. Go ridiculous. For a baby gift, I once found a lovely set of chicken salt and pepper shakers. It didn't make any sense, but we all laughed a lot. The best thing about this gift is it can often be purchased at the dollar store. Try Loopy's: that's V's favorite.

Come back soon for #4-1: I need to spread this out a little if I'm gonna come up with another 5 posts this week.

21 December 2010


Oh, universe. I am sorry I've upset you so.

For those of you who've been following our family craptacular, here're the updates.

Myra: the bilateral temporal artery biopsy (used to diagnose Giant Cell Arteritis) did not confirm GCA as a diagnosis. Which is good, we guess, but she may still have GCA, or she might have something else, and no one seems to know yet. She's got several upcoming appointments for blood work and other stuff, and hopefully we'll get some answers within the next few weeks. But you never want to be the patient who stumps the experts. I guess we're just lucky.

Shaun: perhaps because I blogged about it earlier, or maybe it was gonna happen anyway, Shaunsie had a full-blown nervous breakdown this past Thursday. As in an ER visit wherein we discovered they won't admit a patient to the psych ward unless they are psychotic or suicidal. Luckily he was neither, but he couldn't get the help he needed anywhere, it seemed. His amazing therapist, though, stayed after hours to meet with us Thursday evening, and Shaun fortunately had gotten his Christmas bonus a few days earlier, which he put towards a 2 day hotel stay, where he could recuperate and get his bearings back. V and I even got to visit and have a little swim on Saturday. He has another appointment with Amazing Therapist today, and is feeling, overall, much better.

V: Yesterday we had our appointment with the neuropsychologist. As I mentioned in that earlier post, I was nervous as all heck about labels and diagnoses and what it all meant. But it turns out my fears were misplaced: V has been diagnosed with nothing. She is very intelligent, the tests showed, though we already knew that. She also shows some behaviors on the Asperger's spectrum, like sensitivity to light and sudden loud noises, and has some OCD-esque behaviors, like sorting and laying things out in a straight line repetitively, but none of these symptoms manifest themselves as completely "vital" to her: if she gets interrupted, she can often be redirected; they're not severe enough to merit a diagnosis. What does that mean for us? It means we have a strong willed, stubborn girl who knows how to get what she wants. It means we need to consider a different preschool, and consider accepting a really really unsavory diagnosis if we need her to have a para in the classroom. It means a therapist  of her very own.

My non-doctoring ways kick in here, and I think it's silly. But I also know that when I was a little girl, I struggled mightily with many of the things V struggles with today: anger, and reactionary-ness, and sensory integration issues. I remember at 6 thinking if only someone could talk to me, could explain to me in a way I could understand, maybe I would feel better. Shaun, too, had struggles as a little boy, and ended up in the hospital with uncontrollable vomiting (from anxiety, he later discovered) for the first time at 5. If a doctor had just suggested talk therapy, how different could our lives have been? How much less suffering would we have had to endure? That's what we're shooting for here: to help our anxious, stubborn, smart child put those emotions and tendencies where they belong.

Perhaps you find this post self-indulgent. That's okay. In some ways, this blog serves as a quick way for us to get information out to all our interested friends and family, and though it's more public than a personal phone call, it also takes a lot less time, and we can be more thorough and thoughtful. I'm not looking for pity here, honestly (though I was in that "I'm so tired" post, just to be clear). And I know a lot of this stuff is still not widely discussed: mental health issues, especially, still feel deeply personal and a lot of people get uncomfortable with this topic. But therapy and depression and anxiety are major factions of our lives, and ignoring that won't make it go away. This blog, as a reflection of our lives, is going to have to acknowledge those factions as well as the crafty, Rock Band, salt-free cooking factions.

20 December 2010

If you don't think about it, it won't bother you.

I don't really belive this post's title, though I used to practice it pretty hard. But right now, having left up that bleak "tired" post for a week, I'm going to go tangental and I'll come back to the juicy stuff. Here are two photos of the gifts under our tree. This is the first year I've used fabric exclusively as wrappings for gifts.
 I know Shaun thinks I'm a crazy hippie, and I accept that. In the end, though, I really, REALLY like fabric, and I love the idea of less waste (I hate that we often fill 2 giant garbage bags with trash from all the gift wrapping!). And also, most of what you see here are pillowcases, made for everyone in the family (fun game: family, guess which one is yours! No fair looking close to see the tags...). When I went to wrap the first one, along with other gifts for the receipient, I thought, "Hey, this is stupid. I'll just use the pillowcase." So I did. Some of them have small enough gifts inside that I could tie or twist or arrange the fabric to hold itself together. Others are full pillowcase-sized gifts, and those I tied at the top, attaching a tag to the ribbon.
In the upper right in the photo above is a smaller, non-pillowcase satin pouch that I made with some of my favorite fabric: it holds a gift that was so small it would've been lost in a pillowcase. I hope to make a few more like those, simple and pretty, so we can reuse them. And hopefully the pillowcases, too, will get lots more use than just looking like a crazy hippie's wrapping job.

Just a little holiday update from the Languishing house. Ho, ho, ho!

14 December 2010

I'm so tired.

I don't want this to be a whiny blog post. But it might end up that way. Consider yourself forewarned.

First of all, the art show was a terrific success. We had 150-200 people attend, which is phenomenal, and our students were out-frickin'-standing. I was as proud as I've ever been, as a teacher.

Tomorrow, I give my last 2 finals, and then I grade until my eyes bleed, and I'll try to turn grades in by Friday. Please, god, let it be over by Friday.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law has completed 5 of 8 chemo treatments; I haven't seen her since the beginning of September, and I miss her terribly. She's over halfway done, though, and we're all hopeful for the future.

Shaun, V, and I are all recovering from bad colds, and V and Shaun got the stomach flu over the weekend. For V it was just an awful 12 hour deal, but it's so much harder for Shaun with this happens. Hopefully he won't need to be hospitalized, but it is excruciating to see him suffer and not be able to help more.

V went in for testing last week with a neuropsychiatrist. You remember V from such uplifting posts as Our Out of Sync Child and the one about the Holiday Party last year, right? So, she's still got those issues, although in slightly different forms. She seeks structure, she doesn't handle routine changes well, she...she struggles, often, with things that other kids take in stride. One day a couple of months ago, after an especially difficult car ride home, she started sobbing in the backseat. Exasperated, I said "What is it now?!" She said "Mama, am I ever going to feel better?"  We sat in the driveway and cried together. I don't know that she knew what she was asking, but we're trying to find the best ways to help. On Monday December 20, we'll presumably get a diagnosis. So I've been thinking of this a lot, lately, about labels and what they mean, and about how Monday will not change who V is one tiny bit: she will still be our goofy musical actress who can read like a 4th grader. Yet...today, I can still pretend she might outgrow it. After Monday, when this quirkiness goes beyond quirkiness and gets an actual name, well, then it's here to stay, I suppose. Of course, it's here to stay if it's not diagnosed, too: as my friend Todd pointed out, 10, 20, 30 years ago kids like V went to school undiagnosed all over the place, and many just struggled through, got left behind in some ways, and excelled in others. Shaun and I both remember things in our childhood that could have gone better had we had some of the interventions V's had. And so I wait for Monday, and hope I can remember that she's still our V, and not a diagnosis, and so much much more than we'd ever dreamed.

Shaun continues to watch his diet, though he's dropped off in his excercising in recent weeks, to help his heart heal. We're scheduled for a second echocardiogram on January 24, and hoping for good news. And if it's not good news, at least it hopefully won't be terrible news. He feels pretty good (aside from this damn flu), so I'm optimistic. I was going to say "we're optimistic," but Shaun has never, to my knowledge, been optimistic in his life. So I am.

And there's 37 other things occupying my brain, keeping me awake at night, causing the muscles in my neck to bunch up. My mom, for example, has been having new, excruciating pain in her hands these last three days. We're hoping to find some kind of diagnosis for her, or at least pain relief that doesn't lead to hallucinations. V's supposed to bring snack on Thursday. And start kindergarten next fall. And eventually graduate from high school. See? See why I'm tired?

I know I have so, so many things to be thankful for. I know many people have it much worse than I do. And still, I find the time through all this to write a whiny-ass blogpost.

Here's to happy diagnoses, longjohns, and Christmas cookies. And blog readers.


08 December 2010

I teach.

Tomorrow, my students are putting on an Art Show. It's really more of a final project presentation, because I don't teach art; I teach Humanities and English. And in this course (which is actually 2 courses, one of which is taught by the Amazing Crystal), the final project we assigned the students was to create something (we offered them the opportunity to sculpt, paint, direct a brief film, take photographs, create a religion, write a story/poem/memoir/song...) that combined elements of the course in a personal way that could be understood by others. As it turned out, they all chose to create visual art (though a few poems will also be included within larger artworks), and so...Crystal and I invite you to a student Art Show tomorrow from 2-5pm.

But that's not why I'm posting this. I'm posting this because this is kind of a scary thing: normally, my classroom stays semi-private: me and 15-40 students share a learning experience of varying qualities and quanities for 15 weeks, and then we finish up and go on with our lives. But now we're opening up that classroom to share it with the larger public, and with that brings the possibility for criticism, or press coverage, or, worse, no response at all. It's a whole new level of teaching that I don't usually wander into.

And yet, I'm not sorry, even while I'm slightly terrified. These 17 students have created work of which they should be truly proud. They each individually took in the texts we studied, thought deeply about them, and created something completely unique and truly powerful. I am so moved when this happens (and it does happen, quite often, in a good class), but can rarely share it with peers on any full level. But tomorrow? Tomorrow the whole damn town can come see these students, and the beautiful, thoughtful, sometimes disturbing, always intentional things they've created.

I'm very excited. And very proud.

(photos from yesterday's frosty morning, in our front yard)

04 December 2010

List #9: Hobbies o' Mine

Nothing too profound this snowy Saturday: just a list of some of my many hobbies. I'd love to hear your favorite hobbies, too, though I certainly don't need anymore of my own.

1. Jewelry making: I especially love making earrings, because they don't take long and they can be so lovely. This summer we made stretchy bracelets for my aunts and cousins, using stretchy bead thread. If you take your time with the knots, you'll be happier with the result. Cute, fast, and easy, just like me! (um...nevermind)

2. Quilting. You've read Languishing's award-winning Quilts of our Lives series, and I do love to quilt. It's hard for me to get inspired without a scheduled retreat or weekend set aside, because they are labor and logic intensive, and I don't have a lot of either to spare. But when I'm quilting, I'm a happy girl.

3. I make books. I can do more elaborate, formal bindings than those in the picture, and am particular fond of Japanese stab bindings (it sounds so violent! But it's not). They make lovely scrapbooks and guestbooks and journals. I taught a group of 5th and 6th graders to do that form several years ago, and discovered working with kids that age is remarkably similar to college age students, but with less swearing.

4. Crochet. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was about 10, but I lacked any semblance of patience, and it ended when I snapped my plastic knitting needles in half in frustration (Sorry, Beulah!). When I was in high school, my mother learned to crochet, and my sister and I followed suit. Mostly I make dishcloths & scarves, now: a girl only needs so many afghans, and the carpal tunnel keeps me from projects of that size. I like crocheting because, after this much practice, I can do it in the dark of a movie theater or while we're watching something at home, and not feel like I'm being indulgent quite so much.  Idle hands do the devil's work, you know.

5. House plants. I have almost totally failed at this hobby, and I have a dozen dead plants in my house to prove it. But I also have a few (5 or 6, maybe?) that persist in living, and I adore the idea of healthy, happy houseplants. I just don't remember to water them regularly enough.

6. Collage: This is how many of my students spell "college." At any rate, I like to cut things up and paste things back together (which is a lot like quilting, now that I think of it). I use collage to make little trading-size cards, alter books, and jazz up my syllabus. Decoupage is my friend.

7. Card-making: Connected to #3 and #6, this was a natural outcropping. My mom and aunt and friend have a ridiculous collection of supplies, and when I can get there to play, it's a breeze to make cards. Lately, though, I've been sending Mary a card a day, which really ups the ante: I'm trying to keep things interesting but don't have access to the supply mecca. It's been fun, actually.

8, Facebook: Oh, facebook, you evil temptress. I came to this party late, but I find myself checking it time and again throughout the day, almost automatically, like looking at the clock. When I'm bored, I get irritated, and want it to entertain me. Gak.

9. Dexter: We don't have Showtime, but we recently discovered how to run Netflix through our XBox 360, so we can livestream all sorts of things, provided our somewhat pathetic internet cooperates (which, by the way, do any of you, gentle readers, have internet through DirecTV? Any thoughts?). We'd heard about this show, and just finished season 1. I love it: it's like CSI meets Criminal Minds meets the Sopranos. What's not to like about that?

These are some of the things (besides blogging) that I do in my spare time, or in my avoid-doing-what-I-ought-to-be-doing-time, like cleaning and/or grading. What's your favorite distraction?