Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #16--Favorite Snapshots

Thirteen Cool Snapshots from my trip to San Antonio, Texas!!

It's an easy squeezey list this week since I started my new job and haven't gotten into a new routine yet!

Here are 13 of my favorite shots off the camera from the trip to San Antonion last week. And no, we didn't do ALL of those things, but we did do the ones we felt like doing once we got there; and by goodness, we enjoyed the time away!

  1. The view from our hotel room (17th floor!) facing west down Commerce:

  2. The lovely and luscious Riverwalk boat tour scenery:

  3. Just one photo doesn't do it justice:

  4. This really great-looking building across the way from the Alamo:

  5. The chapel door at Mission San Jose:

  6. A view of the mission I would love to paint:

  7. A view of the Alamo enclosure wall I would also love to paint:

  8. The fountain in front of the Crockett (yes, as in Davy) Hotel:

  9. The best dessert of the weekend--tres leches with meringue on a carmelized disk of sugar:

  10. The Tower of the Americas (wow was it windy up there!):

  11. Me and Mr. Rex...believe it, or not!

  12. Me and the man who made all the fun possible (and yes, we did ride all the big coasters, including the largest wooden coaster in the country!):

  13. And for all the blogger ladies out there who love him....Mr. Johnny Depp:

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Muah! =)

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #15--Goin' to San Antonio

Thirteen Things To Do and See in San Antonio This Weekend!

Yes, that's right. I'm off to San Antonio with my hubby this weekend and this girl just wants to have FUN! Let's just get right to the photos of the places I plan to go then, shall we?

Oh, and let me just apologize ahead of time for the dinky thumbnails. They were not displayed that way when I saved them, and I just didn't have time to go back and figure out what I did wrong. (yes, I pack at the last minute too!) So perhaps I'll have MY OWN pictures next week and we'll just call this a preview! =))

  1. I hear the mission bells....

  2. Mission San Jose:

  3. Mission San Antonio de Valero:

  4. And, of course, The Alamo:

  5. La Villita:

  6. The Botanical Gardens:

  7. The Japanese Tea Garden:

  8. The Riverwalk (complete with boats to avoid walking...):

  9. Did I mention our hotel abuts the Riverwalk? Perfect for a nighttime stroll (when it's possibly cool enough to be walking) romantic, no?

  10. The Streetcars (again with the no walking):

  11. The Rollercoasters at Fiesta Texas (oh yeah baby...never been...can't WAIT!):

  12. Ripley's Museum:

  13. The Tower of the Americas:

  14. The Rivercenter Mall (oh, the shopping--I'm excited about it and I'm not even what you'd really call a "shopper"!):

Well, off to go pack now! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Muah! =)

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #14--A Random List

Thirteen Random Snippets from Last Week

What do you mean it's Friday?

It can't be Friday yet because I haven't even typed up my Thursday Thirteen for this week!


This is what happens when blogging is only in the top ten of a girl's priority list. You see, life happens, and then blogging gets bumped!

Really...grading papers happened. Ninety of them suckers. In five days. All at least 600 words long. A significant portion of them requiring helpful comments to explain the grade of B, C, D, or F.

I stopped explaining the A's. Now I just say thank you for following my instructions. Because honestly, that seems to be all it ever really comes down to. There's some kind of correlation between a student's ability to process complicated instructional material and the ability to produce readable (and enjoyable!) prose. That said, of course I am overgeneralizing. But nobody could convince me of that as I yelled, "No, no no! Why didn't you listen to what I said in class about this very type of thing?" at more than several of the papers that kept me company over the Fourth of July weekend (and beyond).

So yeah. There was that. And getting a new job at my favorite health food store! Woohoo!

So here are a few random tips or, at least, some things related to the grading/teaching I did last week that kept me so busy I look like a dork being late with my Thursday posting...and also a short list (can't come up with 13 yet) of substances to avoid if you want to start changing your diet from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to the Gorging Lusciously American Diet (GLAD). Ok, so I made up the second one, but it works I think.

  1. When you are asked to perform a specific task in a specific way, it's usually not a good time to decide that the way you've always done it before must be better. Learning is changing, so be brave enough to change. At least a little. Ok? Please?

  2. Blowing "word smoke" at the person who must evaluate your actual performance only makes you look like a smoke blower in the end. And most people aren't particularly keen on smoke blowers. Actions speak louder than words, as the pat expression goes, so if you say you are going to make something better, please be certain that you do.

  3. When someone tells you up front that the next five weeks or so are going to run "like a freight train" (ie. rough and fast), and that if you don't keep up, you'll feel like you were run over by it, chances are, you should keep up with the task schedule. Getting run over by the freight train and then complaining that it hurt is kind of like whining. And whiners are appreciated about as much as smoke blowers are.

  4. Oh, and similarly, don't wait until the very end of the line to acknowledge that you have been run over, expecting your injuries to be miraculously healed (is this analogy getting old yet?). I'm not Jesus. Take this valuable, yet painful lesson and go and sin no more, ok?

  5. When you catch yourself complaining that the world runs as it normally does, you need to take a step back and stop taking everything so personally. That's my lesson. I know that there will be casualties on each train ride, er, semester, but it still isn't any easier to watch it happen just the way I say it will. I have to remember that it's merely a matter of cause and effect. I'm responsible for so few of the causes in a student's life that I just can't make it all better, all the time.

  6. Grading sucks. As much as it sucks to be graded sometimes, I think it sucks worse to be grading. Thirty nervous people hand me their work, and now I have 30 chances to say the just the right thing that will enhance learning. Or not. Ugh. I'd much rather just help them write better and give them a pass/fail at the end. I'm not strong enough to be the gatekeeper (or the keymaster...hehe), and so, I now have a new job.

  7. Let's be GLAD now. Please, please, please stop eating these things. They are so not good for your body, and many of them are linked to the current epidemic in diseases like: obesity, diabetes, cancer, and the big one...heart disease (which kills more than all other diseases combined). Ok ready? It's a short list, but when you start checking your labels, you'll be hard pressed to eat much that comes in a package. I tell you only because I care.

  8. Partially-hydrogenated oils. This is in almost EVERYTHING in a box or bag. Start reading those labels! There are a few brands of crackers and chips that don't use these. That's IT!

  9. High fructose corn syrup. If it doesn't have partially-hydrogenated oil in it, your packaged food probably has this instead. I only found one...ONE...kind of bread in a bag that didn't have HFCS in it: Mrs Baird's Sugar-Free whole wheat bread. And that included all those fancy $4 a loaf breads that LOOK like they are better. So, know that there are certainly more like the Mrs. Baird's, but be sure to look. This stuff is a sign that you're being manipulated into eating something that is no good for you.

  10. Sugar (processed), Aspartame, Sucralose, know...all that "unnatural" sweet stuff. Try raw sugar, honey (local), agave nectar, real maple syrup (have you read the ingredients in the fake stuff? oy vie!) know...the "natural" sweet stuff.

  11. I know I'm going to be called unpatriotic for this one, but I'm not saying you can NEVER have the's just that the quantity in the SAD(iet) is so so so high. Ok, so, carbonated beverages? As in soda? (Just think though, it's got that "unnatural" sweet stuff in it too!) It's just a suggestion. And one my husband, who used to drink nothing but Diet Coke, has finally taken (and it only took me ten years to convince HIM!)

  12. Table salt/sodium. This is one nobody really talks about anymore, but all signs still point to it being something your body doesn't process well because it's no longer in its "natural" state. Try some sea salt instead (it really does taste better, and your body does need some salt...your insides are bathed in saline solution after all).

  13. And lastly, the two substances that are the most beloved: caffeine and alcohol. Yeah I know. Now I'm a quack. Alcohol seems much easier to regulate than caffeine. And I really have nothing against them, although I can't have caffeine because I have some super-sensitivity to it (in other words, if you wanted to kill me, you might try pouring Red Bull or Monster down my throat), but I'm just sayin'. These two are just not that "healthy" for you in large doses. AND, if you're megadosing while eating the other stuff on the list, well, it just all works together to cut down your health and longevity.

Well that may not be the most satisfying list. Kind of a downer I suspect. But hey, when that's what the week was like, what's a girl to do? I guess I'm still in "teacher mode," only, that's starting to feel like "stick-in-the-mud" mode. So onward and upward and maybe I taught you something new, maybe you sympathized with me (or my students), and maybe I just got to blow off some steam and you were kind enough to be a friend and listen.

Now that thought makes me smile. Hope you have a great weekend!

Muah! =)

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #13--Fabulous Quotations

Thirteen Fabulous Quotations

As I've mentioned recently, I've been teaching freshman composition at the local community college this summer. Since I began teaching college classes in 2001, I have yet to teach during a summer session. Part of the reason was that my kids were too young to be left unattended, or that I had to take wondrous summer trips to Cape Cod instead. But the other part was that I just didn't believe that I could accomplish in just over five weeks what it normally took me fifteen weeks to do.

I have three more days of class left, and I have to say that I'm amazed at what can be accomplished in five weeks. But I'm certain that the list of things I normally do, that I wasn't able to do, are still important and I miss them. All told, though, it was more of a success than I had hoped.

Why am I introducing quotations with my thoughts about summer school? Well, I thought I would "teach" one of the things I learned in college that was minor to most folks, but major to those who spend their days, nose to the student essays.

It's one of those stuffy grammatical things that English teachers have to know to show their true street cred. I jest. Well, a little.

I just thought I would share because nine out of ten people who ask me what I do then say, "Oh no! That was my worst subject in school. Yuck." So I wanted to share how yucky it can be to have to lug around all these rules in my head; rules most people would live normal, happy, healthy lives without ever having to worry about.

Oh heck. It's just a silly way to introduce this list really. So on with it I say!

Ok. So a lot of folks call quotations, "quotes," but I was told, by a very precise professor or two, that "quote" is the verb and that "quotation" is the noun. In other words, if I were to quote you, I would write down what you said. And then, what I had written would be a quotation.

I know. Boring. (any wonder then why I'm looking to change careers?)

On with the show! Here are some good ones that I've gotten in my daily quotation emails.

  1. “A human being is only interesting if he's in contact with himself. I learned you have to trust yourself, be what you are, and do what you ought to do the way you should do it. You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it.” —Barbra Streisand

  2. “Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” —Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944), writer, social activist

  3. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” —William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894), theologian, teacher, pastor

  4. Whatever you're thinking about is literally like planning a future event. When you're worrying, you are planning. When you are appreciating, you are planning...What are you planning? Abraham-Hicks

  5. “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” —Melodie Beattie; motivational author

  6. “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” —Thornton Wilder (1897–1975), playwright, novelist

  7. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ” —Thomas Edison (1847–1931) inventor, entrepreneur

  8. “Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world.” —George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) playwright, political activist

  9. “Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” —David Star Jordan, (1851-1931) educator, author, peace activist; exerpt from "The Philosophy of Despair"

  10. “Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” —William Faulkner (1897-1962) author, winner of the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature

  11. “Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” —William James (1842-1910), psychologist, philosopher, author

  12. “ The best way out is always through. ”- Robert Frost (1874-1963) American Poet Laureate 1958-1959

  13. "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American poet, lecturer, and essayist

Hope you enjoy those. I love me some good ol' inspirational quotations.

Muah! =)

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I Like to Call It Hollywoodized

Ever since the open house last Thursday, I've been looking around my office at all of the other things I've accumulated or put on display here. It's interesting to see what I surround myself with and the little things that make me smile and reminisce.

I have postcards, photos, and prayer flags; fortune cookie messages, refrigerator magnets, and tiny stuffed animals; CDs, bookmarks, and handcrafts made by my kids. There are typed, handwritten, and "plaqued" quotations, magnetic poetry in a box, and even a pearly white curly ribbon "bow" from a recent birthday present.

I even noticed, with new eyes, my collection of refrigerator magnets.

But then there is this picture that I keep at eye level, tacked to the corkboard just to the left of my computer monitor. Any idea who this couple is? (There's a clue in the photo.)

Well, if you haven't guessed, I can't tell you just yet, so let me tell you why I keep this photo first. (I promise to tell you by the end of the post!)

I keep this photo to remind me, more than any "stars without their makeup" or "stars at the beach after firing their personal trainers" photos have ever been able to do, that, well, we're all human...all average...all just regular people who can go unnoticed without all the fuss that it takes to create a more glamorous, camera-friendly, audience-appealing version of a regular old everday human being.

You see, I've been cursed with the desire for "feminine beauty" ever since I was a young child (like, preschool?) when people would say to my mom, "Oh what a cute little boy."

Dammit, people!? The dress should have been a clue...I don't care if it was pale blue! And I couldn't help it that I didn't have hair long enough for pig tails, pony tails, or even those cute little colorful barrettes with the flowers or animals on them. And that was long before my mom cut my butt-length hair (sorry Mom, don't mean to bring that up AGAIN!) into a Twiggy-esque "pixie" because either there was no such thing as detangler or she wasn't into the stuff. Oh yeah, and the whole tomboy thing after that.

So, all that to say that I had a gender-unspecific childhood and was always curious about the feminine beauty techniques that never got passed down, for whatever reason, and it made me insatiable to understand how "beauty" was made. And I suppose there's a lot more going on in there, but that's a book in progress I think, so suffice to say that I always felt like I was being measured by a standard that I neither understood nor was certain I cared to understand. And yet. There it was. An undercurrent of confusion in my self image that persists until this very day.

I still remember the first time I did happen upon one of those "stars without their makeup" tabloids in the checkout line. (I don't know if you remember, but for a long time, celebrity beauty was wrapped up in the mystery. Now there's a relentless push to "catch" stars looking, "ewwww....normal!"...a sort of backlash from the old Hollywood glamour I suppose.) It was at that point that I became aware that the flawless beauty ideal that was all around me in the consumer world was just an illusion...slight of hand, tricks of lighting, and camera angles; oh, and air brushing. What a relief.!

But still this nebulous idea of "feminine" beauty persists in my psyche, not nearly as dramatically as before though I suppose. At any rate, to combat this ghostly sense of not fitting in, I keep that couple's picture where I can see it every day. And I look at it. And I think, "If Sharon and Ozzy were normal before they were Hollywoodized, then all any of us is missing is a trip to Hollywood where the imagicians could work their magic on us too. And who needs that? Really."

(Who am I kidding? Just knowing it's a possibility is enough.)

But seriously. Just knowing that, without the imagicians, even Sharon and Ozzy would look like anyone else I know, is always a relief.

Call me crazy, but it's how I get around one of my weaknesses. =)

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #12--My Heart on Display at Home

Thirteen Things about My Heart on Display at Home
I may have just missed out on a fabulous opportunity provided by Mrs. G. over at Derfwad Manor, but I'm going to press on and hope that folks will still stop by from her home and visit mine too.

So this was supposed to be my Thursday Thirteen as well, as you can see, but Thursday, when I thought I would have time to do this, turned out to have other plans for me.

Without further adieu, then, I present to you the room in my home where my heart is. It's not the hub of the family, but it does house the spirit of the woman who is the hub of the family.

May I office:
  1. The full view:

  2. The painting section. Painting is wonderful. It's one of my favorite things to do, but I still have hangups about doing it. You know. That perfectionism thing. That and the thing about doing things that are just for your own, individual, solitary pleasure? But when I let myself, gosh, I just can't imagine why it took me so long to give myself permission again. But I'm working on this issue. Oh, and ssshhhhhh...this is what I've been working on for a while now:

  3. A close-up of my painting supplies, that probably need to be dusted at the moment, unfortunately. Like I said, I'm working through this. Once I have finished summer school, I'm going to be all about painting. Having to grade papers all the time has really kicked my yearning to paint up a notch. Make that about five notches. Ah....a pallette and paint and brushes, oh my:

  4. The painted pony ornament I bought on my solo trip to Albuquerque in the summer of '06. This one is called "War Paint," and was the one, out of the available ornament ponies, that I felt captured my Native spirit...not the war part though...well, I just think in warrior of Life.

  5. The carved Willow Tree angel by Susan Lordi, titled "Thinking of You." Oh the expression. The hand on the heart. The ear to the shell. This is me, dreaming of love and the ocean.

  6. My hand gathered cotton bole from Mississippi. Cotton is the most amazing plant. I couldn't believe it when I saw it for the first time. It proved to me that there just had to be a Higher Power taking care of us little naked human beings. Cotton. On. A. Plant. Now it reminds me of the idyllic days I spent in college in the Mississippi Delta, meeting the people who would change my life forever...for the better. And it's where I discovered poetry. And not just literary poetry that's been put in a book with a halo over its head. The poetry that is the kind that makes life worth living. Really, it was a recognition of the poetics of life. Call me a Romantic. I won't be offended.

  7. Ah, my Cape Cod shells (some of them) and my Walden white birch bark, right in front of Thoreau, Emerson, The Transcendetalists, and so forth. This is home. I grew up in Massachusetts, but didn't discover the Transcendentalists until I made it to Mississippi. That's when I learned who I was and where I fit in...and how the transition between those two geographical locations was like a birth canal from heaven to seeing the light for the very first time.

  8. This hand made oil lamp was thrown and glazed by a friend of the family who I always admired. I've never used it because I broke the oil holder one day trying to get it ready to put oil in it. Now it sits and looks lovely in front of my grandmother's collection of Rudyard Kipling volumes.

  9. And now that I've mentioned a few of the books on my shelves, here are some close-ups of my favorite sections. This is the feminist section. Everything from Lizzie, written by my journalism professor at Delta State, to Susan Faludi's Backlash, to a really cool compilation of woman-centered science fiction called, Women of Wonder: The Classic Years. (And that's my Queen Power tiara sitting atop the lot of them--my wonderful friend from Mississippi sent it to me as a gift.

  10. And here is my Native American collection, as well my Latin American, Asian American, philosophy, Romanticism, and others that seem to fit here. The book Spirit Walker came from an undergrad class in, you guessed it, Native American Literature, but it was like taking a philosophy and religion classes (heck, all the literature classes I loved were like that though), but what happened was that I fell in love with this book. It's gorgeous. It made me want to paint. I made me want to write poetry. It made me feel like Native American philosophy must transfer in the genes (felt like home). And it made me want to visit New Mexico, where both author, Nancy Wood, and artist, Frank Howell, were living at the time. And so I did. Quite a few years later, and not Taos, where they lived, but I did go to New Mexico. Alone. And I had an amazing experience with a mountain and a town called Albuquerque that is still one of the best things I've ever experienced in life. I just have to remember the trip to smile and feel peaceful. Like nothing in this world is big and bad enough to make me forget how big and beautiful this life and this planet really are. The trinkets from the trip are all in front of the books (still no picture in the adobe frame!):

  11. There were a whole lot of other things I could have taken pictures of I suppose, but this one makes me smile and actually feel like I've accomplished something outside of the home. No, not the diploma hanging on the wall (it was in the first picture with a flash reflection on it!), but this nifty little plaque that a student anonymously recommended I should be honored with. Being that it was anonymous, I wondered if it were a scam, or a joke, but then I found out how the nominating process worked, and so I figured I could at least take it as a sign from the Universe that I was on the right track. Most days I feel like I don't know enough to be teaching, but then I remind myself that if I teach everything I know, including how to be nurturing to the mind, then I can feel good about my abilities. And as the saying goes, I've learned more as a teacher than perhaps my students do. It's the wonderful two-way exchange that makes teaching such a blessing. (That I have trouble remembering only when my eyeballs are falling out, I'm tearing my hair, and mumbling to myself about, "Is anyone listening when I talk?" But hey, I remember eventually.):

  12. My life just wouldn't be the same without vanGogh's work. I've mentioned before that when I see his paintings in museums, I am overcome with emotion and cry. It's like seeing a soulmate across the distances of time and space. I just understand something when I look at them. And I feel what he's expressing. I really believe that his emotions are still in the paint, at least, that's what I feel I pick up on when I regard them. So, since I don't have enough money to buy the real things to gaze at around the house, I settle for prints, notecards, and whatever this box that the notecards came in...and yes, vanGogh makes me want to paint too:

  13. This is the only living thing in my office, besides me, and this little thing is just a little bundle of personality. Really. The picture shows that she is just a loyal friend to a human who spends way too much time facing a monitor these days. Normally, like right now, she's gruffing out the window at the FedEx or UPS trucks, people walking by, birds, squirrels, stray dogs, butterflies, and the elusive nothing, running back and forth from one window to the other and back to her spot and then back down again. Sometimes it's annoying, but when I haven't heard anything for a while, I turn around, and there she is, waiting:

So thanks so much for stopping by today! I have a million other things I need to go do now, but seeing these 13 pictures of the place where I spend most of my time, second only to the kitchen (a girl's gotta eat, right?) or the bed (and sleep?), well, I just feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It was nice having you over and showing you around. Hope you enjoyed your visit!

Hope to see you again soon! Muah! =)

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!