Favorite movie = Cannibal! The Musical

Hello all you wonderful Sangria Lover blog readers. My lovely wife asked me to round out the month for her with a guest post and, being the completely whipped husband I am, I said “sure.” In retrospect it is quite possible that I just wasn’t listening to what she was saying and unknowingly agreed to do this post. Let that be a lesson to all the married men out there: it’s probably best to listen to your wife, or else you will spend your day off writing a post for her. I guess it really doesn’t matter whether it was my lack of attention or completely whipped state that led to this post, here I am and there you are and I am a banana. What? Never mind.

So, all you regular readers are probably aware that I have been spending my weeks with sixth graders, which has been an interesting experience. I thought I would take this opportunity to show you guys some of the work I have received from these little balls of hormonal energy.

This first worksheet accompanied a lesson I taught on the parts of speech. I had the students build sentences using verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. Here is a mix of some of the answers I received:

This second worksheet comes from a lesson I taught on using quotations. Students filled out the blank comic strip and then translated the character dialogue into story form. I have included two of the comics below:

Sixth grade has been an interesting experience, but I am anxious to get back to my second graders. I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into the psyche of a sixth grader.

Think you are smarter than a sixth grader? More creative? funnier? Try your hand at building your own sentence or making your own comic strip. E-mail me your creations:  t at pecflicks.com The best submission will get a very special prize from Mr. Tim.

Fmoss 3!

Have I ever told you guys how much I love certain friends of mine who live in New York and Ft. Collins? Because I love them a lot.

Gary, Jessie, and I go way back. I’ve known Gary since 4th grade (though I have no memory of him until 6th grade) and Jessie and I first met in 7th grade (and eventually became friends a year or so later). We’ve shared a lot of good times over the years and helped each other through the not-so-good times as well. Together, Jessie and I learned the healing powers of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, got free shirts at Lilith Fair, and, along with our friend Liz, invented what is possibly the best holiday of the year: Christmas Eve-Eve. Gary and I spent hours upon hours in high school laughing our asses off while driving around in his orange Volvo, getting ice cream at Swensen’s, and taking such challenging mind-numbing classes as “College Board Prep” and “Advanced Reading.” Oh, yes, we had some good times.

And when all three of us get together? Look out. Those are some of the best times ever. Suffice it to say that those two throw the world’s best belated Bachelorette parties.

Gary and Jessie are two of my favorite people in the whole world. (And not just because I have a standing date with Jessie any time I’m in Ft. Collins and a guaranteed couch to crash on in Gary’s NYC apartment when I finally get my ass out there to visit him.) (Although those are some pretty great qualities to have in friends.) (But also I just love them for being the amazing people they are.) (Parentheses.) (I heart Gary and Jessie.)

I also have a great love for my husband, who, by the way, will be helping me finish the month of November with a bang tomorrow. You won’t want to miss it.

Wednesday-Bensday! Special Lots-and-Lots-of-Pictures Edition!

hi guys. i’m ben. i’m a little dog.

did you guys know that i went on a trip last week? it was lots of fun. except the part where i had to ride in the car for two days. that wasn’t as fun. mostly because the people hogged all the seats so i had to lay on the floor the whole time. and no matter how hard i tried, they wouldn’t let me up in their laps.

one time, we got out of the car and went into this strange building. for some reason we stayed in a weird room that i’d never seen before all night. i was really confused and ran from one side of the bed to the other all night long hoping my parents would wake up and take me out of there. why would we spend all that time in the car just to go to that weird place? i was really confused.

one thing the wierd place did have, though, was another really cute dog. i couldn’t seem to play with him, but i did spend a lot of time looking at him. he was really handsome. for some reason my mom tried really hard to get a picture of me looking at this dog. but i was mad at her for making me stay on the floor of the car all day, so i refused to look at that other dog long enough for her to get the picture. i just kept looking back at her instead.

you are not going to believe what we did when we left that weird place with the cute dog. we got back in the car. again. where i had to sit on the floor. again. for, like, a really long time. i really don’t understand these people sometimes.

when we finally got out of the car, we were at my friends’ house. i came to play with toffee and shadow once before, but it was a really long time ago. i was kinda happy to see them, but i was also really grumpy from not sleeping at all since we left my house, so i didn’t like it when they both jumped all over me the second i got in the door. give a little dog some space, will you? after i slept in the safety of a normal bedroom, though, i felt better.

you guys will not believe all the fun we had. do you want to meet my friends?

this is toffee. she is the boss of all the toys.

she also sometimes got jealous when shadow and i would play, and would barge in and tell us to break it up. she’s crazy.

but shadow and i would just start playing again the next time she was distracted, so that was okay.

this is shadow. he is lots of fun to play with.

here are some more pictures of us playing. and resting. and stuff.

toffee and shadow also have this really big water bowl in their yard. sometimes they get all the way in it and swim around. i think that’s really weird. but i was brave enough to get in and stand on the top step all by myself one time. it was easier to drink the water that way, but most of the time i just leaned over the edge of it so i could get a drink without getting all wet.

the people also did some stuff. they played this game that involved lots of yelling for a long time. luckily i was tired enough from playing with shadow that i just slept through all the noise.

you guys have to see this picture. it’s so dumb. my mom made a really big deal of it at the time, saying it was something called “art” or something. i don’t know what art is, but i don’t think this is it.

i;m not sure, but i think her love of this picture had something to do with these bottles her dad kept bringing to the table.

do you guys remember last week when i told you about all the food the people were going to make? and how i didn’t think i’d get very many treats? well, guess what. i did get lots of treats! they made a big breakfast and let me eat some of the leftover scrambled eggs. and then they made this big turkey that weighed as much as me and let all of us dogs clean off the plate they had put it on. you guys, it was amazing.

after all that playing and eating, i was one tired puppy. did you know that sometimes the best thing to do when you’re tired is to snuggle with your mom? because it totally is.

i think she realized how tired i was a couple of days after i got all those treats, so she said we could go home. unfortunately that meant i had to say goodbye to my friends and get back in the car. but that was okay. i was too tired to really care.

we stopped in another strange room, but this time there was no other handsome dog, and i just slept all night instead of worrying about when we were going to leave. the weird thing about this room was that there was this paper thing — you know, like what people use to keep their hands clean when they’re eating instead of just letting me lick the food off their fingers. and apparently my parents thought it was pretty funny because of all the things it said it did. i guess it claimed to do things like “remove makeup” and “polish shoes” and other things that i don’t understand. they tried to polish me with it, but it really didn’t do any good. probably because i’m already as cute as i can possibly be.

my parents are seriously weird sometimes, you guys.

after we left the weird towel room we got back in the car and then a little while later i was running around my own yard again. i had a really fun trip, but i am happy to be home again so i can guard the house and sleep all i want.

while i go take a nap, you should go see my other friends, okay? tell bugs, rufus, ted, gus, and zapp to come play with me sometime after i’ve caught up on my sleep.

Apparently I’m all about Caps Lock tonight.

After thorough analyzation of the comments on Friday’s post, it has become clear to me that y’all are not a bunch of serious shoppers. Only two of you (Lindsey and SJ) shop at all on Black Friday, but I don’t know if it even counts since you aren’t up at the ass-crack of dawn waiting in line.

I’m posting the poll results below, but I’m afraid they’re a bit inconclusive. Some of you refused to answer all of the questions, some of you provided more than one answer for one question, and others still had conflicting answers (like somebody — *cough*STEPHEN*cough* — who claimed to have had 50-90% of his shopping done last Friday and then immediately admitted that he’d only purchased 1 gift. Unless this somebody [STEPHEN] is only giving 1.1-2 gifts this year, I just don’t see how this can be accurate). Possibly hugely inaccurate results aside, I will report the poll answers as they were given. And then I’ll tell you the correct answer to each question (the correct answer being the one that I would have chosen, naturally).

Let’s begin this poll result nonsense already.

1. Do you shop Black Friday Deals?
a. Are you freaking crazy? No way in hell. 10 of you chose this answer. And 10 of you were wrong.
b. Are you freaking crazy? Of course I do! 2 of you were right! Why not take advantage of the deals any way you can and save a little cash? Well done, you two!

2. How do you prefer to do your Black Friday shopping?
a. Amazon dot com at midnight, beyotches! Nobody picked this, even though it’s so obviously the correct answer. Think about it — all the money savings, none of the sleep loss/crazy people fighting. Y’all have got to re-think your shopping strategies.
b. At 3am my coffee and I are in line at Best Buy. Nobody picked this one either. I applaud you all.
c. I sleep all morning long and maybe dream about shopping. Maybe. 9 of you chose this semi-correct answer. But it’s not all-the-way correct, so you still lose.

3. Do you take advantage of Black Friday deals to get goodies for yourself or for others?
a. It’s all about taking care of the holiday shopping. Anything else would be selfish. 1 winner on this question. You guys. You’re killing me here. The point is to get your holiday shopping done and help others get theirs done as well. Why buy something for yourself when you can strongly hint to your loving family members that there’s a REALLY GOOD DEAL on this one thing that you REALLY MIGHT ENJOY having?
b. It’s all about me, Me, ME! Nobody picked this one. Again, I applaud you.
c. A little of column A, a little of column B. One quasi-sensible person chose this one. Which I guess is sorta okay. Maybe.
d. It’s all about the sleeping and avoiding crazy people. Another almost-correct answer. Almost-well done, you 8 people who chose D.

4. How early do you start getting excited/planning for Christmas/Christmas shopping?
a. Don’t ignore the Turkey! Celebrating Christmas in any way is not acceptable until after Thanksgiving. Waiting until December 1st is preferable. For once, most of you were right. 7 of you picked the correct answer! Way to go! Thank you for not annoying me with your WAY TOO EARLY Christmas decorations!
b. Christmas decorations go up mid-October. NO thank you to the 1 person who chose this one.
c. I’m lucky if I’ve decorated, let alone begun shopping, on December 24th. You 3 need to stop being so lazy and bring a system of organization into your lives.

5. As of today, Black Friday 2007, how much of your holiday shopping have you finished?
a. All of it. Bought, wrapped, and shipped. THANK GOD nobody picked this one. Because I may have had to punch them in the face. Nobody needs to be THIS organized. Nobody.
b. Some, but less than 50% finished. 4 of you picked this, and that’s pretty respectable. Pretty good job, you four.
c. Between 50 and 90% done. 5 winners on this one (although one winner [STEPHEN] is HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE. Especially since the 1 gift he has is for us, and he said it’s lame. Wow. I CAN’T WAIT to open THAT present.) I’d say Tim and I are about 70% done, thanks to Amazon.com and that lovely thing called “free shipping.” We rule.
d. None of it. I’m too busy unwrapping Thanksgiving leftovers. 3 of you (possibly the same three from choice C in Question 4? Hmmmmm…) should maybe start thinking about shopping. A little. If you want. So that, you know, you’re not losers or anything.

The end.

p.s. Can I just say that I am SO GLAD that Friday is the last day of November? I can’t tell you how relieved I am never to have to post on a weekend ever again for as long as I live.

Grace

In the house we lived in until I was five years old, we had the most wonderful neighbor. Her name was Grace, and if you looked up “Sweet Old Lady” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure you’d find her picture.

To my brother and I — a couple of curious and energetic kids — her house was full of treats and treasures. We spent hours upon hours next-door, helping Grace plant flowers in her always-beautiful garden, snacking on the cookies that only Grace had, helping her bake even more delectable goodies, and admiring her collections of pressed flowers. Those pressed flowers are probably what I remember most about Grace. She pressed them herself — flowers from her garden — and whenever a holiday rolled around you were sure to receive one of Grace’s signature cards: handmade by the woman herself, and always with a couple of pressed pansies or petunias laminated onto the front.

Being younger than five years old when we lived there, I don’t have a lot of very specific memories of what we did at Grace’s house. But every last one of the memories I have, fuzzy though the details may be, is filled with feelings of warmth and joy.

I have other memories of living next door to Grace, though they’re not my own. They’ve been recounted enough times, though, that the only reason I know they’re not my own is because I know I would have been too young to remember them at the time. One of these memories is about how Grace would always let my mom borrow her lawn mower. Our yard was small — too small to justify the expense of anything fancier than a manual push-mower. But Grace had a power mower, and every time she saw my mom out mowing the lawn with the little push mower Grace would immediately call my mom over to borrow the power mower. I may not have been around to see it happen, but in my mind’s eye I have a very clear picture of how Grace would look coming to the fence and telling my mom to come borrow her mower.

Grace was a wonderful neighbor. Anyone would have been fortunate to live next-door to her little house with its beautiful garden. It wouldn’t take more than a week or two to find out that the little old lady tending the garden was even more beautiful than the garden itself.

After we moved out of that house, we still kept in touch with Grace. We took her a coffee cake every year on Christmas Eve and sat in her sitting room, next to the tiny Christmas tree she always had sitting on top of a table, and reminisced about the good times we shared as neighbors.

As the years went on and my brother and I went to high school, and then college, and then got married, we still saw Grace every year on Christmas Eve. I remember thinking how old she seemed when I was still the little girl next-door, and realizing that, well, yes, she was old then — at least by a five-year-old’s standards. She would have been in her early 80s when I was over there helping her plant flowers. Around the time I was starting high school, Grace began to show signs of her age. Her health wasn’t all it once had been; her body was slowly starting to break down on her. But her mind was still as sharp as ever. She always held up her end of the conversation as we sat by that little Christmas tree and reminisced. Even so, her physical ailments couldn’t be ignored. I left her house that year thinking, “That may be the last time we deliver a coffee cake to Grace.”

And, wouldn’t you know, I’ve thought the same thing every Christmas Eve since.

The sweet little old lady continued to get older, and her physical health continued to decline with every year. We started delivering her coffee cakes to her in a nursing home, and though she missed her house terribly, she was clearly well-loved by all of the staff and other residents.

Her memory started to fade a little; she wouldn’t recognize us right away when we came to visit her. But one look at that coffee cake and she would exclaim with delight, “I know who you are! I’m so glad you’re here!” And then we would reminisce as we always had.

When Tim and I got married, we sent Grace an invitation even though we knew she wouldn’t be able to attend. Shortly after the wedding, my mom told me that we should go visit Grace next time we were in Ft. Collins; Grace had a wedding present for us. When I went to visit her, I told her who I was, and she immediately went to her dresser, opened a drawer, and pulled out a gift bag with my name on it. Inside I found a leaf-shaped candy dish — handmade by Grace, of course. She had made a clay imprint of a grape leaf from her favorite plant at the nursing home and constructed a rim around the shape of the leaf to make the dish. Her voice was filled with pride as she explained to me how she had made it and taken it herself to have it glazed and fired. She may have only signed it in one place, but that candy dish has Grace written all over it.

That same summer, my parents, Tim, and I got to visit Grace again — this time to celebrate her 100th birthday. It was about as festive a party as you can expect a 100th birthday party to be, and Grace was as delighted as ever to see all her friends.

This past Christmas, when we took Grace her coffee cake, she wasn’t feeling too well. She was laying in her bed, obviously very tired, and took a couple more minutes than usual to remember who we were. She did remember, though, and we had a nice, albeit brief, chat, catching her up on the details of our lives and recounting one or two stories from our days as neighbors. I clasped her hand and wished her a Merry Christmas, and as we walked back to the car, I thought the same thing I’d thought for the last 10 years: “This is probably the last time we’ll get to bring Grace a coffee cake.” This time, as it turns out, I was right.

Grace passed away last Monday. She was 102.

Grace was kind, generous, and dearly loved by everyone she met. I will always remember her kindness, her flowers, her delight upon recognizing old neighbors bearing coffee cake every Christmas Eve. Most of all, I will remember the feelings of warmth and happiness that filled her house, the same feelings that surrounded her, I’m sure, until her very last day.

Goodbye, Grace. We love you, and we will miss you. The world is certainly a far better place having had you in it.

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