Been doing a lot of stuff lately.  Mostly this:


(All taken with my iPhone.  No filters, no color correction or enhancements.  I know, right?)


And I made this for you:


(Again, with my iPhone, but this is terrible.  Maybe I should have taken this outside and flung it in the air to get a good shot.)


I’m outside every day with Nellie and it’s giving me plenty of time to reflect, and considering the escalation of terrible events lately, I want to appreciate simple beauty right in my back yard.  I am so thankful I have what I have, and I’m grateful for opportunities to give, and I wish my American readers a Thanksgiving of simplicity and contentment.


Back soon, and maybe there’ll be some sarcasm.

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Oh, For the Love Of……. and tags

First, I’m taking a moment of silence for my beloved Mets who didn’t bring quite as much to the table as the hungry Royals did.  But there were class acts on both sides and no hating, so #LGM2016!

Now, you know I’ve been out of teaching for a few years, so I don’t have a horse in this race any longer.  But for crying out Pete’s sake, would all those of you who haven’t the slightest idea how classroom management or impressionable children work please take a large step backwards off that cliff and shut up about educational reform?  Could you please find a different cause to hang your flag from, especially during the presidential “debates” (and how I wish I could do ultra sarcastic air quotes to really impress upon you how ridiculous I find these televised arguments) that show your true ignorance?

Unless you have a degree in education AND have taught in a public school, you cannot profess yourself to be any kind of an expert on what will make our schools run better.  You are blabbering out of the wrong side of your mouth and your ideas aren’t just bad, they’re potentially dangerous.  How about you look back on WHY we have public schools under local control instead of federal government-run schools?  There is a huge difference between the life of a student in Appalachia and Chicago and Wisconsin and Florida and Oregon, and your attempts to put forth a nationwide test that measures every answer the same way not only won’t prove anything substantial but will end up hurting the systems that already work.  You can’t ask a child to define the word “soda” when he’s spent his whole life hearing it referred to as “pop.”  You can’t mark a New Jersey child wrong when defining “parkway” as synonymous with “turnpike” because the test creators in Oregon define it as a strip of grass between a street and a house.  You also cannot argue that those changes to a national standard of definitions or formulas or meanings is for anyone’s betterment except those who sell the curriculum and design the test.

Why does someone like Mike Huckabee or Bill Gates or David Koch think they know best about how a child in a classroom in Rhode Island should be educated?  How do they know what works and what doesn’t, and what “should be” the accepted norm?  They don’t.  But they can’t sell anything if they don’t create a need, whether it’s themselves as a political leader or industrial leader or technology leader, or the companies they buy and sell to reflect their standards of the world.  Do you know why there’s such an emphasis on testing?  Because there is no creativity with a test, no resonance, no empathy, no relation.  It is simply finding which answer on the pre-printed form is likely the one that somebody else thinks is correct.  And when all those tests are scored and tallied and put into pie charts and graphs, what then?  It certainly isn’t benefitting the student or giving them a clearer understanding of how things work.  The test only shows them how to fill out a test.  And in their dim future (if those titans of reform get their way) they will become compliant workers in somebody’s business, not questioning or reasoning or doubting or exploring or creating.  Just doing what the boss dictates, because the boss thinks and creates for everyone.  It’s not your job to think, we pay you to perform.  And if you are at all different from the pre-set standards we’ve determined, then there is no place for you.

A public school is a locally-run entity that reflects the values of the society that supports it.  Where ever you live, you are supporting your public school with some sort of tax dollar, thus ensuring that every child in your community has the opportunity of a free and thorough education.  Not education for only the elite or the well-connected or the privileged, but for anyone who is willing to learn and do more.  If you prefer a private school, by all means pay for it to receive the specific kind of schooling you desire for your child; or don’t, and homeschool your child.  This does not excuse you from the responsibility to support your local school, just as not driving a car doesn’t excuse you from paying taxes to support infrastructure.  In return, you have a voice in that system: you can serve as a member of the board of education or attend their public meetings and address your concerns.  You are a responsible member of that community that supports that school and, in turn, every child in the community who deserves the free and fair education.

For the people who currently feel that “ed reform” is the new Temperance Movement, I say this: when you have put in the time and training and effort and LOVE it takes to be an effective teacher, then we can have a dialogue.  Until then, back off.  Find that cliff and back off.


Today is tag Tuesday.  Even though I sound pretty pissed off up there, I am always happy about certain things, and today it is family.  Remember, all tags are available in my etsy shop (link on the side over there).  You can also mix and match any style you’d like, up to four different designs in each dozen.

IMG_8763 IMG_8762

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Just Putting It Out There



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Argh and Tags

Did you ever have an Argh Day?  That’s a day when you wake up as normal, go about your normal routines, and then just a little niggle sets in.  Like today, I lift the dryer to start taming the head of snakes that is my hair, and the dryer does not work.  (Yes, I checked the switch.  Yes, I checked the reset on the outlet.  Yes, I checked the reset on the dryer.  Yes, I unplugged it and plugged it back in again after 30 seconds.  Yes, my hair looks gross.)  

Women, has anyone NOT had an unpleasant experience having a mammogram or a follow-up or an ultrasound?  Can there be no technology developed that doesn’t include smashing your tissue flat between two hard sheets of acrylic set at just the right level of height for you to be slightly on your tiptoes while you keep your shoulder down and your chin pointing up and remembering to “relax”?

When I learned to drive, I couldn’t pass my road test or my written test if I didn’t know what a STOP sign was.  Have they changed the test?  Sure seems that way to me.  Do the new tests now require drivers to wave flippantly at the driver they’re cutting off as they run the stop sign as if to say “oh just hold on a minute you can wait for me don’t be so impatient.”  Do I need to retake the road test?  Because I’m very good at flippant signs.

Do all supermarkets have a sign I haven’t found yet that says “This supermarket proudly supports the movement to abandon carts in the middle of aisles and wander off somewhere else thereby ensuring no smooth flow of shopping traffic”?  With the corollary of “Go ahead and leave your cart on line and shop some more!  Your fellow shoppers will be glad to hold your place in line for you as they have nowhere special to be anytime soon!”


Aaaaaannnnnnd, breathe.


Here’s today’s Tuesday Tag:


Get ’em while they’re….. well….. they’re not really going anywhere, so mosey on over and grab a dozen.


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Scenes from an Autumn Home


Wee flowers in a jar, sad because they didn’t make it into the big arrangement. We love you anyway, blossoms!


This is about as scary as we get around here. We are not a family for gore and horror.


Small boxes on a windowsill. I think they used to hold candy or something. The boxes were the good part.


I don’t know why, but I love this floppy-footed guy.


This blurry guy is sitting on our mantle. Note: It is TOTALLY the pumpkin that is blurry. It is not a reflection on my camera skills or lack thereof.


And this little guy hangs on the other end. Note: HE knows how to do his job right and not be blurry.


That rusty little watering can speaks much about my gardening talents.


A friend made this for me. It’s so tiny! So cute! So squee!


Another view.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love autumn?  Probably not.  I’m really restrained about things like that.

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Ten on Friday

  1.  The Mets are going to the World Series.  It is very strange to type that sentence even though it fills me with absolute joy.  I don’t think I remember how to be a baseball fan in October.
  2. My knitting seems to be all garter, all the time.  I have a huge garter blanket going right now for a gift, as well as a garter Baby Surprise Jacket for a December baby, and I’m thinking of another garter blanket when this one is done.  I wonder if that’s a secret signal that my knitting brain is fried.
  3. It is October 23 and it’s still not warm enough to think about baked apples, butternut squash soup (yes, Younger Daughter, I think you jumped the gun), and pot roast.  I think November is going to be a flurry of fitting all these things in before turkey and cranberry season.
  4. I am purging things in my house like mad.  I used to be a collector of stuff, certain I was saving the earth from needless garbage while I thought about how each item would be carefully recycled into something beautiful or useful.  Now I’m all get-that-crap-outta-my-house.  And I’m not doing the “tidying up magic” that’s all the rage now because I seriously cannot hold wallpaper scraps in my hands and divine whether or not they bring me joy and thank them for their usefulness.  I just want all-that-crap-outta-my-house.
  5. If I hear “where’s my hoverboard” one more time I may have to punch somebody.  It’s a movie.
  6. There are a bazillion ideas floating in my brain for landscaping our huge backyard, and I think back to the days when I was moving rocks and digging whole gardens.  Today I couldn’t get up from a kneeling position.  Time, you are a schizophrenic friend.
  7. Of all the things I miss about working, having the funds to hire somebody to clean my house tops the list.  It’s not that I don’t clean my house, it’s that I really suck at it.  I don’t notice stuff until it’s in full horror-movie mode and then I’m frantically trying to fix it before somebody notices.  Or worse, I think to myself “huh, I’ll have to take care of that” and then poof! it’s gone from my thought process and I’m playing another game on the iPad.  (I love my iPad.  It’s so bad for me.)
  8. This year I’m not buying any candy for Halloween.  (Gasp.)  I am getting a pumpkin and painting it teal.  Have you heard about that?  It’s to signify that you are a home dispensing treats that are safe for little monsters that have allergies, so no nuts or wheat or crushed roaches or whatever.  I am handing out little bags of potato chips instead.  And while that is making sweet-tooth Hubby a bit pouty, I am all about the chips.  Mmmmm……
  9. Can we fine all political candidates who flood our mailboxes with glossy mailers about how wonderful they are going to be if you elect them, even though they haven’t been wonderful before this and they’re surely wasting money and materials mailing out those stupid things?  Because I could get behind that.
  10. Luna bars make a perfectly decent breakfast when you don’t want to go through the hassle of making breakfast.  My favorites are Coconut Chocolate and Honey Salted Peanut.
I shall pose like this and look like I'm in charge.

I shall pose like this and look like I’m in charge.


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This, That, Sheep, Tags

And so the craziness that is Rhinebeck happened for me again.  I had the best time this year!  Sunday was not nearly as crowded as I hear Saturday had been for which I am so grateful.  Younger Daughter and I went up together, leaving at 7:15 a.m. and sipping our Dunkin’ Donuts hot tea.

(Speaking of which, I know making tea can be an art or it can be basic.  But there’s something about my cup of hot water and tea bag from Dunkin’ Donuts that is better from any other hot-water-and-tea-bag-dispensing place I’ve come across.  I wonder why that is?)

We saw the emerging oranges and yellows and scarlets scattered across the valleys and mountains of the Catskill regions, delighting in the fact it was cold enough to wear handknit accessories.  We sang show tunes at the tops of our lungs, and tried to out-pun each other.  (Spoiler alert: I raised a master punner.)

Then we arrived and crunched along the frosted grass and beheld all the happy faces waiting to get into the Knitter’s Disneyland.  We scoped out the handknits, unabashedly staring and admiring and cooing and petting absolute strangers who were happy to return the favor.  Some feats of handknitting were not to be believed in their absolute beauty.  I’m not good at the stealth photo mode so there are no photos of strangers.  But there are photos of stuff!

Sheep butts!

Sheep butts!

He's a little horny.  BWAH!

He’s a little horny. BWAH!

Madam posed beautifully.

Madam posed beautifully.

Now this character was posed in a barn, wearing a scarf/shawl.  I wanted so badly for it to be wearing a COWL.

Cows should wear cowls.  Just sayin'.

Cows should wear cowls. Just sayin’.

And THIS character was posing with a beautifully knitted shawl.  Just because she’s my progeny doesn’t mean I can’t be critical about her knitting skills: they far surpass my own.  She had quite a few compliments and even had her picture taken for a local paper.  (Yeah, I agree: it would have been nice to have gotten the actual name of the paper, but hey, we know what we look like.)  

You can't see it, but the shawl matches her eyes.

You can’t see it, but the shawl matches her eyes.

Do you see that white streak in the photo?  That is a SNOWFLAKE.  October 19 and it was snowing.  My flabber, it was gasted.

Lookee what I had for lunch!

Mmmm, brisket.

Mmmm, brisket.

What I don’t have a picture of (for many reasons, one of which is that I’m just not that fast-thinking or coordinated) is me meeting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  The Harlot herself.  I’ll let you ponder that for a minute.  Yes, I actually met another member of knitting royalty that I admire so much for all she’s done to make knitting easier on the psyche and embrace the funny.  It was a fairly empty hall first thing Sunday, and she just walked right by so I just said “Hello, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.”  She stopped, turned, probably thought dang, almost made it to the door and smiled.  She held out her hand and said “Hi, I’m Stephanie.”

Thank the heavens and all the wool in the world I didn’t babble or gush.  I told her my name, introduced my daughter, and admired her cowl.  (Idiot that I am, do you think I admired the sweater that she had been working on up to the last minute and instagrammed and blogged and tweeted?  No, of course not.  Again, not the fastest-thinking knife on the tree.)  Then she said she liked my shawl.  Then we discussed trees and blending and the bark and I actually barked and she kindly didn’t run screaming away from me but laughed a “oh, ha-ha!” and then she was off.

I’m not kidding when I say I actually had to lean against the booth I was near for support until I stopped hyperventilating and Younger Daughter said I actually had tears in my eyes.  I did.  I love to meet people I truly admire not for celebrity status but for good and decent things they write or say or do.  Last year I got to talk to Clara Parkes and was just as grateful to have that small moment.  I also spent a good time talking with Sandy Wiseheart (and let me tell you, that is an apt last name for her) and I was all glowy and warm and feeling like I swallowed some sparkles.  It just made a sweet weekend that much more sweet for me.

And now, today’s tag:

mother tag

Available here.


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Tag Tuesday

Latest listing in my etsy shop:



One dozen sweet little teacup tags.  Listed on my etsy for $8/dozen, my Tea and Sarcasm readers save $2 using the phrase TAS2015 at checkout.  Good through December 31, 2015.

TAG!  You’re it!  (Get it?  Eh?  EH?  I crack myself up.)

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Day…..What? It’s Over? Where Have I Been?

Admit it, this doing stuff every day like, I don’t know, a routine or something is not easy.  Really.  Wasn’t I just writing my last post yesterday?  Did you all enjoy the many blog posts I wrote in my head?  Which one was your favorite?

In other words, I cannot believe it’s October 9, I haven’t done the tag thing yet, I haven’t blogged the last week of Writing 101 (and there were some awesome ideas coming, trust me) (you kind of have to trust me, because there’s no way you can verify whether or not I actually had awesome ideas in my head which is the closest I’m going to get to exercising some sort of control right now), I lost track of my days and missed teaching a music lesson, I didn’t do any of the things on the lists I made because I misplaced them before I could do the things…..

So what HAVE I been doing?  Funny you should ask.  There has been a lot of knitting because I quickly remembered that I had two baby showers in quick succession and one involved a trip to Virginia.  There’s a really cute photo of the really cute sweater (in my head) but have I gotten the camera to shoot said photo?  No.  I have that disease where as soon as you swivel your head in a different direction and focus your eyes elsewhere, everything you were just thinking flies right out of your brain.  When do I remember these things?  In the shower.  When I’m driving.  As I’m climbing the stairs to bed.  All terribly inconvenient times.

And the kicker is, I can’t promise myself it’s going to get any better.  I think I’ll make a list of all the things I want to improve on this weekend…..yeah, that’s a plan.




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Day 13, 14, and 15: I Seriously Need to Schedule Myself Better Than This

Yeeeeesh.  Where did the week go?  Where has the calendar betrayed me?  Where is my brain lately?  For the answers to these and other thrilling questions, tune in tomorrow…..

Nope, only kidding.  I’m getting it done TODAY.  Right, here we go.

Day 13: “Tell a story through a series of vignettes that together read as variations on the same theme.”  Okay, here goes:

Click.  The knitting needles sounded soothing and rhythmic as the blue-green yarn wound around them, mysteriously forming stitch after stitch, in a meditative state that comes to knitters when they’ve reached the state of knitting zen.

Tink.  The knitting needles jabbed a bit at each other as each mistaken stitch in the blue-green yarn was tugged apart due to the knitting zen that caused the knitter to stop paying attention to the pattern.

Gnash.  The knitter’s teeth made the unpleasant scraping sound as the hideous blue-green yarn was unceremoniously yanked out in a hot spaghetti mess on the floor as the dropped stitch fifteen rows earlier screamed “neener neener!”

Day 14: “Write a post that takes place during one single day.”

The elevator doors slid open and I stepped into the parking garage.  My car was not there.  Well, my car definitely was not there because it was in the shop waiting for its final diagnosis.  My rental car was not there.  It had been parked on the end spot right across from the elevator, so the only conclusion was I had gotten off on the wrong floor.  But wait!  What if there was an elevator on the other end of the floor?  Maybe that’s the one I was parked outside of?  Now picture me, walking all over this parking garage, looking for my rental car (a white van; nobody drives a white van, right?  Wrong!  EVERYBODY drives a white van and they all parked in that parking garage!) and turning many different ways.  During that treasure hunt, the garage called me with the list of woes and how much they would cost and to be honest, I really didn’t hear everything because I was thinking I’d have to tell them I lost their white van and maybe they shouldn’t use white vans as loaner cars in the suburbs?  But when I mentioned that I would love to call them back once I’m in the car and hopefully that would be soon as I seem to not be able to find it just at that moment, the mechanic gave me the helpful suggestion to hit the panic button.  (Insert some lofty and esoteric words here about needing a panic button for life.  Good.)  Do you know what hitting the panic button does in a garage?  IT ECHOES.  When it echoes, you can’t really hear from which direction the sound is issuing, so there was another ten minutes of me roaming around the place and beeping and shutting off the beeping.  Eventually, I found it, not on the fourth floor that I was sure I had parked on, but the second floor.  Next to a white van.  OF COURSE.  This time delay put me square in the middle of rush hour on a busy highway, and for the first time in three unemployed years, I needed to be somewhere on time.  All my long-buried commuting habits came back with a rush and I was calling people morons and glaring at those cutting in front of me and pounding the steering wheel with frustration when the car in front of me insists on going TWENTY MILES AN HOUR BELOW THE SPEED LIMIT and everyone is whizzing by and cutting in front of him which is making me slower…..

Reflecting on this episode, I have come to this conclusion: I don’t handle stress well.  Raise your hand if you’re shocked.

Day 15: “Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

(Nietzsche is hard to type, yo.)

This is the quote I’m writing about because I was a music teacher.  I taught every grade level and I can tell you honestly that music doesn’t mean the same thing to same people.  To school administrators, it means “we have no money for your program but make sure you put on stellar concerts for the parents to like so they’ll support the school budget.”  To little kids it means “can we play on all the instruments really loudly and clap our hands and can we sing The Elephant Song again and again until you get that crazy look in your eyes?”  To older kids it means “I want to learn to play the trumpet/clarinet/saxophone/drums but I really don’t want to practice, it’s too hard, so can I just learn enough to be in the concert?”  To high school kids it means “music is everything to me and it’s going to be my focus when I’m out of high school.  I’m going to be a music teacher/recording star/songwriter and get the true message out there.”

But when you’re the music teacher?  It means telling your administrators several billionty times that no, you are not a jukebox and you can’t just play a little song as background for some meeting or other; telling little kids that we are learning about rhythm when we clap and play sticks and we’re not pounding them like a baby in a playpen, and telling their parents that no, we don’t just sing songs all day; telling older kids that if a commitment is being made to an instrument then it’s going to be a real commitment and of course it’s not easy, because if it was everybody would be doing it and that’s not what we’re into; and telling high school students that they should of course follow their dreams and be true to themselves but maybe take another course that would earn them some money.

And what do I tell myself?  That after fifteen years of teaching music, of not being respected by administrators or colleagues, of hearing lame excuses by parents why their children won’t be in the concert tomorrow night (we want to get an early jump on the holiday weekend traffic) and dealing with zero budgets for instruments or sheet music, and of too many nights and weekends away from home, I am glad to be done.  And after fifteen years of hearing sweet young voices united in song and beginning instrumentalists reading music and performing a song correctly with pride and hearing more experienced instrumentalists play music that moved me to tears with its simple beauty and watching high school students succeed in college and afterwards at their musical careers…..

I know it was all for a good reason.  No mistakes here, Mr. Nietzsche.

"A little softer, trumpets, listen for the flutes."

“A little softer, trumpets, listen for the flutes.”


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