Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holiday, Whatever You Celebrate

The hypocritical Buddhists are eagerly awaiting Santa Claus. In the interim, Merrick proudly presented his mother and father with their school-made Christmas gifts.

The young lad sewed the Matron a beautiful flowing heart, adorned with lace, on a hard red paper.

For his father, he sewed a rat.

Happy Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas and Upcoming New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Something other than Christmas -- abit of fresh air for those of us stumbling after organizing all that holiday cheer.

Stryker's algebra teacher has brought the Matron back to the day. You see, Mr. X is a guy's guy, the kind of man who stands firm on a handshake. He fills the algebra classroom with Tale and Parable, warning away his young charges from drugs, alcohol and those damn Democrats.

Here's how he replied to an email alerting him to the fact that Stryker was home sick for the day, by parental decree.

"Mary. Stryker would never skip, lie or cheat. He's solid. His word on anything is enough for me. Thnks."

Mr. X? An avid hunter. Registered Republican. Computer and algebra geek morphed into a thirty-something teacher with two small children of his own, who clearly adores his junior high charges.

Stryker worships the man.

Mr. X was the only one of Stryker's teachers to receive a holiday present and the only teacher bold and politically incorrect enough to put in a request: "I like books. You don't know which ones. That equation equals bookstore gift cards."

Stryker does algebra equations with reverence and care. After all, Mr. X will be seeing them.

He's an incredible teacher! Who reminds the Matron of this one. . . .

When the Matron was a Very Young Miss and entering seventh grade, she suffered from a severe case of Math & Science Fear. An otherwise straight A student, she stumbled and bled in these two departments. Believed herself Less Than, incapable.

She decided to get Biology over with during summer school, the summer before officially entering 7th grade.

Now, Very Young Miss's mother saw her daughter's academic anxieties and so struck this one and only school-incentive deal. Should Very Young Miss get an A in summer Biology, her single mother (who worked two jobs so you know rolling in dough they were) would spring for the item that Young Miss desired above all else.

A Samonsite bag. They were all the rage. The girls whose fathers owned furniture stores and car dealerships each had one. Never in her wildest dreams did Young Miss think she would be so lucky.

So she vowed to get an A in Biology. Nothing would stand between her and that bag!! She knew this was her one and only chance.

Her teacher? It took about four days for Mr. Z to identify himself as a Republican, prolife, Catholic, 'anti-women's libber." If memory serves, he used those precise words. And Young Miss's Incredible Left-Wing Sensibility was already firmly established.

She hummed "I am Woman" on her way to school while he thought that breed should be, breeding.

But, complexities and complexities abound in the human spirit.

On day two, Mr. Z pronounced: "About the only thing as bad as those doctors who kill babies are girls who believe they're SO DUMB they can't kick the behinds of those doctors who do it! Dumb girls almost always are my straight A students. You boys are weenies compared to the dumb girls who will one day kick the butts of those abortion doctors and any other butts they want to kick!"

Remember, this was the 70s. Classroom conduct had a different definition.

Young Miss was terrified by and attracted to this teacher, who pontificated on things she KNEW were inappropriate for Biology 101, like homosexuality (bad) abortion (mortal sin) Catholicism (convert). But he made those cells in the fish and worm come alive for her, the fauna and flora and whatever it was, pop.

There was that Samonsite bag!

Young Miss quickly became the Wonder of Seventh Grade Biology. Not only did she earn an A in those six summer school weeks, she did not miss -- one, single, point.

And nearly everyday, Mr. Z would pace around the room, waving Young Miss's most recent assignment, with a variant of this speech: "See this, the rest of you C and Bers? A DUMB GIRL is getting a first-ever perfect score in this class. This dumb blond will kick butt one day while you're all recycling beer cans and paying for abortion doctors and Democrats to make sure baby killing is legal everywhere. This dumb girl is not only blond, but she is going to run the world. Whaddya all think about that?"

When he slapped that assignment on Young Miss's desk, every day, he beamed at her as if she had just singlehandedly eradicated abortion and liberal politics everywhere. "Atta girl," he grinned.

She loved him!

She got the bag. The perfect score. And his assessment? "You're the real deal, for a girl. You got the goods: the brain."

She loved him!

Four years later, as the Matron entered 11th grade, her mother forced her to take Chemistry. Mother was all about 'college' and 'prerequisites' and did not care one whit that Young Miss cared nothing for said discipline, planned to major in something very WORDY and knew, rightfully, that colleges were all full of "Science for Poets" classes and Chemistry was not actually something she needed.

But her mother called the school, and forced her.

Mr. Z was her teacher. Oh, so thrilled was he to see her sweet face in his classroom!

Here's how he greeted her: "Hey, the rest of you losers? This dumb girl is the best student I ever had! Perfect scores. So while you're all chasing cheerleaders or football players, she is going to be kicking your butt and changing the world."

And Young Miss slouched in her chair and said nothing.

Her first assignment? Handed in, blank. First test? She wrote her name on top and doodled. Her strategy was to sign her name to all her work and do nothing. This is exactly how the first half of the semester went until Mr. Z told her to stay after class.

Mr. Z: "You've got a perfect zero, you know."

Young Miss: "Hmmmm."

Mr. Z: "This is a pretty small town and your mom's a teacher. I know you don't want to be here."

Young Miss: "Hmmmmm."

Mr. Z: "Well, I'm not going to play your little game and let you 'hurt' your mother by getting an F on your record. The only person you'd hurt is yourself and your chances for a scholarship, which I know you need. So no F. You can sit here and do nothing all semester and I am STILL giving you a C. Sorry."

And with that, she was dismissed. Oh, she was furious. Undone! Discovered! She had indeed been planning to show her mother a thing or two with that F.

But two years later, when she got that letter saying "full scholarship" to a private, four-year college? She was grateful.

Still is.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Matron and Machinery . . .

have incompatible operating systems. Yesterday, the technologically-challenged Matron discovered that an hour at Life Time Fitness requires more than sole to ground. There are machines. To operate. See the stair machine above?

She fell off of it.

Because she set the speed insanely high and couldn't get it to stop.

Now, that endeared her to the staff, who made haste regarding law suit (don't!) and setting up the sad middle-aged woman on a safer, flatter, plane. But nobody showed her how to work the darn thing, so she spent her entire 45 minutes on this

trying to get the elaborate dashboard to tell her how many calories she'd burned OR what her heart-rate rose to. At least she didn't fall off.

But then, there's this.

Friends, this machine felled her before she even turned it on. Indeed, the oven has the ability to render the Matron a hopeless fool in its presence. There are some kind of brain implants sent through the airwaves, she's certain.

Because her husband is a realtor (no need to send $, yet, but talk to her in February), she is baking cookies instead of buying gifts for friends and neighbors. The only glitch to this highly rational plan is that whatever she puts into an oven is magically baked into an inedible item.

Decorating the cookies?

John said: "Are you sure? Remember how you ended up throwing three dozen botched reindeers out the back door five years ago?"

Wise man, although she will deny that.

So she settled on two cookies, impossible to ruin. No decorating.

No fuss. Just bake and shove chocolate in the middle.

She was all fine and go with the flow after scorching the bottom of the first batch of pretzel m & m's. Who doesn't forget they just put fifty pretzels in the oven?

But when the peanut butter-kiss cookies turned up, post-oven (BAD machine!), all soggy and muck -- unable to host the Hershey Kiss, even -- the Matron was ready to throw in the towel.

Turns out she forgot the two cups of brown sugar.

Damn that oven! It's under Satan's Familiar's s, spell, she's certain. Two ruined batches of two different recipes under belt and only six more to go. . . . .maybe she'll fall off the oven.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just Ignore The Alien Space Ship in the Corner

The Matron's photography skills are legendary for her lackthereof. These pictures would be primo examples of her complete ineptitude and her unwillingness to spend another five minutes trying again.

Don't you love her?

But if you can ignore the Alien space ship or perhaps Alien frozen breath in the upper corner, it is possible to understand what the word "Minnesota" really means in December. Yesterday? Entire buckets of snow were dumped upon her.

Now, normally, the Matron is a runner. As in every day, except when its below zero.

But while she was contemplating the deed, she decided that good old fashioned Activity would be her exercise. As in shoveling. You see, the Matron and her husband? Are currently responsible for shoving their entire block. And then some. Because this neighbor is in her sixties and her husband, away, yesterday, the Matron shoveled out this house:

See that blue house tucked behind the pink, above? Well, that neighbor recently broke his neck, felled by a walk in his sleep that turned into a tumble down stairs. He broke other bones too. So the Matron and her husband will be adding this house to their permanent list. Which includes the neighbor below, because she and her 18 year old son appear in capable, year after year:

This is the four foot snow fort the children built!

And she shoveled, as usual, her immediate neighbors, who are in their late seventies, and frail.

Thanks for the workout, Santa!

But today, the temperature is just dancing around zero --below, above, below then above. And the Matron cannot find it in her sturdy constitutional to don the four required layers of clothing and run outside until it is a wee bit warmer.

Oh no! She's an exercise addict! She is newly frugal! What's a girl to do?

Why, the Matron is headed over to LifeTime Fitness for her FREE seven day trial membership, which should just about get her through this cold snap. Sure, she has to endure the 45 minute sales pitch. But there's a sauna!

St. Paul is home to Ballys, Lifetime, Anytime, Curves, and Sweatshop Fitness Centers -- not to mention all those YWCAs. Plenty of trial memberships to carry her through the most frigid air, no problem!