Monday, June 30, 2008


Last night I was channel surfing and came across a show called, “12 Sexiest Hollywood Jobs.” Well, of course, this caught my attention since I’ve worked in at least 12 not-so-sexy jobs during my lifetime, so I wanted to see where I’d gone wrong.

One of the suitcase models from “Deal or No Deal” was being interviewed, relating how the 26 gorgeous gals on this TV game show work harder than viewers may think. For one, they have to report to the studio at the god-awful hour of 7 AM to get their hair and make-up done. Then, they have to hold still for the dress fittings, and, worst of all, put on those painful 4-inch heels at the last minute--only to experience the peril of teetering on them while walking up and down stairs on stage before purring their two memorized words for the show, “Hi, Howie!” Tough stuff. The beauty wouldn’t reveal the exact starting salary for being a "Deal" suitcase girl but said it’s in six figures. For 36 days work (six days a month for six months).

Now, this is a job I could go for! The problem is, I’m about 25 pounds and 30-some years on the plus side. This calls for drastic measures, so I’m advocating a nationwide recall of these “Deal or No Deal” babes, to be replaced by your average, aging, everyday suitcase carrier…like me. The ideal candidate will be free of make-up, her hair will be pulled back in a ponytail, she’ll wear sweatpants and a t-shirt, and walk around in flip-flops. Sexy will not be a requirement. As long as she can figure out how to open the blasted suitcase, she’ll pass the test.

I figure the NBC execs will be thrilled to save the millions of dollars on wardrobe expenses and lip gloss alone, but if they don’t go for this idea, we so-so, low-maintenance gals could threaten to file a class action lawsuit, accusing them of discrimination. That’s what everyone else does these days. It’s not fair that the titillating bombshells get all the high-paying, oh-so-easy jobs. What’s your opinion? Personally, I think the show’s producers would be most happy to meet with our lawyers ....and work out a deal.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


The 4th of July used to be my favorite holiday. That was before failed ear surgery for tinnitus and the resulting hyperaccusis, which is the inner ear’s inability to filter out sound. Now, a Lady Finger practically sounds like an M-80 going off in my brain. Age tends to alter one’s perceptions. What used to be a blast (as in fun) is now misery.

In our little burg, it’s fair game to set off fireworks the entire week leading up to July 4th, from sun-up until midnight. This means I may be wearing earplugs, inside as well as outdoors, for the next seven days. I don’t begrudge the neighborhood punks lighting up their punks, though. I can remember racing to the fireworks stands to purchase Lady Fingers and Black Cats. Now, it all seems like money up in smoke, but fifty years ago I had to have ‘em.

Big Brother Beans and I weren’t satisfied with the regular ol’ sound our firecrackers made. We’d kick it up a notch by placing them inside our swing set cross bar or underneath tin cans, just to make the explosion louder. And, of course, we’d twist a bunch of fuses together to make double the noise or, if we were really in the mood for a quick fix, blow up an entire package of ‘crackers at once. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

As I got older, I outgrew the thrill of being an amateur “pyrotechnician,” but Beans never did. He just got crazier once he could afford bigger and better explosives. In fact, I’ve refused to celebrate the 4th of July with him ever since the time, probably 15 years ago or more, when he shot a Roman candle at me. I suspect he was under the influence of more than his lust for patriotism, but that experience was enough to have me running for safety. Permanently. Now, I am content to just stay at home, light up a sparkler, wave it around a few times, and call it a night.

Friday, June 27, 2008


The Flaming Bore is not so sure what’s getting soaked more….the newly-sodded backyard or the Official Water Girl Ensemble: tank top and shorts. It is likely a toss-up. Yesterday I kept trying to figure out a technique that would keep me drier, other than wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella, but nothing worked. Fortunately the backyard is surrounded by a privacy fence, so no one got the mistaken idea that I’m practicing for the next Old Ladies Gone Wild wet t-shirt contest. I thought that maybe today I’d just wear my swimsuit, a pair of goggles and flippers and go with the flow, but rain blessed us (again) overnight so perhaps Mother Nature has temporarily solved my problem.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


At long last! The sodding is done! Out with the mud pit; in with the fescue. I would personally like to thank Big Bore and the scrawny kid from The Sod Shop for their heavy lifting while I worthlessly stood around, thinking to myself that there is an advantage to having had back surgery 10 years ago....mainly, I do nothing while other people do all the work.

Actually, my rigorous job has just begun. I am Water Girl. This means overseeing an H2O regimen five times a day for the next two weeks. I'll turn on the spigot, move the hose around, and, well, that's about it. I hope I am up to the challenge.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Big Bore and I have decided not to be complacent and relax on the porch swing the remainder of the summer. Since we are finished digging and putting in flower or vegetable gardens all around the house and in the backyard, after two years’ work, it’s time to start a new project. The property line goes five feet north of the driveway, so why not dig up that turf, too?! Surely we can think of something to put into the ground besides the forever evil Bermuda grass.

Now, we’re talking about a 45-foot long stretch, here, so this may take us quite a while to do, but we finished an 8x5 foot section before it got too hot yesterday. Big Bore was the head digger dude…as we all know what big, strong feet he has, and I followed later, busting up the dirt and pulling out the grass roots…six garbage bags full of grass roots, which he then hauled off to the town dumping ground. We are a fine tandem.

As I was working, a kid pedaled by on his bike and did a gawking double-take. I could tell he was so jealous…wishing he could be rolling in this big mound of dirt just like moi. Either that, or he was wondering, “What in the heck does that crazy old broad think she’s doing?” I prefer to think his thoughts were the former.

Today we’re taking a break from this new plot of raw ground, though. We’re putting a 250-square foot patch of fescue sod in the backyard, at long last. If any %#&@! Bermuda grass dares to show up there, ever again, I’m going to…hmmm…I’m not sure what drastic measures I‘ll take, but, I can assure you, it will not be pretty and it will most likely involve a shovel!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Today the Flaming Bore household is honoring the Kansas State Flower: the sunflower. Here are some pictures of the sunflowers “planted” in our yard by the birds who stopped by our feeder earlier this year and spread seeds.

When I was in grade school, we kids sang a song about Kansas and sunflowers. Here it is:

“I was (clap) born in Kansas. I was (clap) bred in Kansas.
And when I get married, I’ll be (clap) wed in Kansas.
There’s a true blue gal who promised me she’d wait.
She’s a sunflower from the Sunflower State.
She’s a sunflower. She’s my one flower, and I know we’ll never part.
She’s a sunflower. She’s my one flower. She’s the flower of my heart.”

Any of you old timers from Mound School reading this blog remember that song and how we basically just yelled out the lyrics and clapped as hard as we could? I think there was even some heavy duty stomping going on by the boys, too. That’s back when our energy and enthusiasm levels reached orgasmic proportions. (Snore.)

So, for June 24th, I want you to race outside, find some gorgeous sunflowers, yell, "I was born in Kansas!!!"---then clap your hands, stomp your feet on the ground, and have a sunny day!

Monday, June 23, 2008


The other day Big Bore decided he needed to whip up something better for his pole beans to attach their vines to because they weren’t trailing up the privacy fence. I suggested he just go buy some lattice work, but, of course, he knew he could rig up a masterpiece from crap he'd find in the garage, so more power to him. I left him on his own. Staying out of his way and letting genius take its course is usually the best policy.

When he got the job complete, I was invited to go outside and marvel at his creation. I about fainted. In the process of setting up the climbing apparatus for his beloved beans, he had stomped all over my even more beloved white and pink vinca!!! With his size 13-G (for giant) clodhoppers!

“Look what you did to my flowers!” I moaned, pointing out the damage.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t see them.”

“Because you were careless and not paying attention!” I continued moaning.

“They’ll bounce back,” he offered optimistically.

“Yeah, probably if I go buy new ones,” I said, sticking out my lower lip in its best pouty position. “How would you feel if I flattened your green beans?”

He walked away in defeat, knowing he was in the doghouse and it was best not to argue with me. He’d mucked up. Leave me alone and I’ll eventually calm down.

I got out a spade and some dirt from the compost pile to try to elevate and reinforce what was now laying over. I’ve been babying them ever since and all but one now look salvageable. More or less. Big Foot, er Big Bore, is going to have to make amends for his lousy footwork, though. My birthday is coming up and you can pretty well guess what I want from him: flowers….lots and lots of flowers…the more, the better. And he can have the pleasure of planting them for me, too…if he’ll just watch his step!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


At last! Summer has arrived on the calendar. Time for my scorched brain to recall the year that the National Weather Service officially declared Kansas as being "Hotter than Hell"---the summer of 1980. It seemed that almost every day from June through August was over 100 degrees, many 110 degrees-plus. Check the records yourself; the Flaming Bore is not exaggerating, for a change. It was HOT!

This was, unfortunately, the same summer that the women's slow-pitch softball league in our little town got uniforms. Now, I'm not talking just a v-necked, numbered t-shirt to be worn over a pair of cut-off shorts. Oh, no. This was a major-league, regulation, polyester double-knit top in chocolate brown worn over stretchy, neon orange, heat-sucking, below-the-knees pants. We all looked like big-butt, ball-playing, screaming pumpkins. Hideous. I hated that uniform. And I hated it even more when the temperatures started soaring.

Well, we all know that women can only tolerate so much heat. One miserably hot evening, a few of us on our team decided we'd solve the problem and show up for our game wearing the sticky, itchy shirt over brown or orange shorts. We'd still be in our team colors and have our sponsor's name on our chests. We'd just be more comfortable. Little did we know that we'd cause a calamity.

"The sponsors have donated a lot of money. You have to wear the complete uniform," the league director told us. "I'll let you get away with it this time, but next game you must wear the pants."

"But they're so hot and uncomfortable!" someone, not me, wailed about the pants. "It's 115 degrees out!"

No mercy. "That's the rule. Wear the complete uniform or you don't play."

I was no fool. There was no thinking over this one. The enjoyment of the game was long gone. I resigned on the spot. No more suffocating in that awful uniform. No more looking like an orange nightmare. I wasn't a hot-head about it. No, no. I kept my cool. Then I happily went home and spent the rest of the summer of 1980 in air-conditioned comfort. That was the last year I ever picked up a ball glove or stuffed my butt into orange polyester pumpkin pants.

Friday, June 20, 2008


There's a nice lady in Arkansas who is pregnant with her 18th child. You've probably heard about her...she and her husband and their platoon have made the rounds on talk shows. They seem like fine people and are self-sufficient, so who am I to criticize? What totally amazes me, however, is NOT how they manage to raise this many children, but how in the world they're able to attach the right name to the right face. I can't even keep my cats Muffin and Fluffy straight. I've just started using "Fluffin" to stand for either one of them.

To complicate matters, all these kids, ranging in ages from 1 to 20, have names that start with the letter "J," which makes some of them sound a lot alike. There's Jeremiah and Jedidiah. Joshua, John, Johannah, Jana. Jinger, Jennifer, and Jill. Joseph, Josiah, Joy. Jesse and Justin. James, Jason, and Jackson. How do these parents do it? I think it would have been a whole lot simpler to have started with an "A" name and worked their way down the alphabet. In a few years, they'd be ready for little Zelda and could call it quits.

When I was teaching, I would occasionally call a student by an older brother or sister's who'd been in my classroom in a previous year. It was annoying to the poor mislabled kids, so I started giving them 3 points extra credit whenever I made such a goof. That seemed to ease the disgust with my brain lapse. In fact, some became eager for me to screw up just so they could get the points and were disappointed when I addressed them by their correct names.

I wonder if these parents in Arkansas use name tags, numbers, or have their kids color-coded. Truth be known, I suspect they use the identification method that's been the most tried and true for confused parents over the years: "Hey, you! Get over here! Right this minute!" Works every time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


In case you've been living in a cave this week and haven't heard, California has passed a law allowing gay marriages. Big deal. I'm one of these people who pretty much adheres to the "to each his/her own" policy, so it takes a lot to get my panties bunched up in a wad. Gay marriages don't upset me. Neither do gay divorces. I figure I have more important matters to worry about, like paying my bills, being a decent person, and solving the daily word jumble. I know it sounds selfish and lazy, but if a situation doesn't pertain to me, especially sexual ones, I'll typically keep my nose out of it. If two people of the same gender want to marry, who am I to say they can't?

Big Bore and I were discussing California's law during the TV news yesterday. We don't think it would ever fly in Kansas. Too conservative. Not enough gay registered voters to garner the support needed. If it ever did come to a vote, I'd probably just pass. Heck, I haven't even decided who to vote for president yet. I'm still pondering each candidate's platform and am waiting for one or the other to make a major screw up that will be the decisive, maybe, McCain challenging Obama to a duel, or something of that nature. During the primaries, I kept hoping Hillary would dump Bill, come out of the closet, and marry a lesbian lover, just to shake things up a bit, but no such luck. Now THAT would have been news!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


My teen-aged great nephew Bo is at a cool camp in the Ozarks this week...caving, rappelling, sounds like a total blast, and I'm glad he is getting to have the experience. By the time he visits the Flaming Bore next month, I hope he has all the adventure out of his system so he can slow down the pace and be ready for, well, boredom! Excitement isn't exactly tops on the menu at the Bore household, even if life does sometimes seem like a rollercoaster.

Bo and I always go to the Mosley Street Melodrama in Wichita when he is my summer guest. He doesn't seem to mind being seen with me in public, especially since I'm buying the drinks. These are non-alcohol types, of course, but just saying, "I'd like a VIRGIN Pina Colada COCKtail, please," makes him feel more sophisticated. He also likes booing the villain, cheering for the good guy, and laughing at all the raunchy jokes, most of which he has to explain to me. There was one a few years ago about an elephant's trunk that I'm still trying to figure out. Hmmm.

After his busy summer, Bo will start high school...a big high school, not like the small one I attended, where everyone knew everyone else and still liked each other, anyway. As most freshmen do, he will try to find his niche in order to keep his self-esteem intact for the next four years. I don't envy him. I'm not so thrilled about pushing 60, but I'd still never want to return to the angst of teenager-hood. I was such a goober at 14, slobbering over boys much of the time. I hope Bo will manage to avoid all the cell-phoning, text-messaging, hormone-ravaged dimwits and keep his head on straight. These days, rappelling off a cliff has GOT to be MUCH safer than having a girl chasing after him.

Monday, June 16, 2008


"Talking to myself and feeling old...."

Oh, never mind. That's a line from a Carpenters classic, not me.

Now that I'm feeling better, I had big plans to work in the yard today, but the constant rain has put that on hold. The backyard looks like a mud wrestling pit, and we may be able to set sail in the southside yard before too long. I've stayed busy in spite of the lousy weather, and, best of all, have already managed to down 48 ounces of water....over halfway to my daily goal, which will hopefully prevent any more evil kidney stones from ripping into my belly.

I don't know if it's the rain outside motivating me or the heavy drinking, but I've probably tripped to the bathroom well over a dozen times already today. I figure a flotation device is soon going to be needed. Indoors or outside, I can use it either way. Here's hoping I have a bon voyage.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Before I got off the telephone a while ago, ending a conversation with Mama Bore, I wished her a Happy Father's Day. Since my paternal unit ran away from home when I was around 7 or 8 years old, she pretty much served both parental roles and she did a fine job. None of her five children have ended up thugs, and I never felt deprived not having a father around. I was not a Daddy's Girl.

Many years ago when I was enrolled in a college course that was called something like Sociology of the Family, I remember getting into a heated discussion with the instructor. He advocated that the children of divorced parents should be assigned an entirely new set of parents, thus alleviating all the so-called evils of single parenting. He theorized that the kids would be much better off that way. I was one of a few students in the classroom who had come from a "broken home," so I took the stance that one parent might just be able to manage quite nicely, thank-you, and there was no need to think that all children of divorce were deprived and tainted. The debate became rather heated, as I recall, and I now suspect he was just baiting us with food for thought to get our wee brains to thinking about more than just our social plans for the weekend.

Single-parent homes, two-parent homes...I don't think the number really matters all that much. If a kid has at least one parent who gives a damn, he or she is probably going to turn out okay. Of course, I'm no expert on parenting, so who am I to make such a generalization. I can't even get my cats to listen to a word I say.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Late Thursday night, while Big Bore and I were sitting on the front porch swing, we were treated to a light and sound show...lots of silent, flashy lightning, the distant grumble of thunder, and a steady, soft rain. No wind. Nothing threatening. Very soothing and relaxing. The kind of mood that makes it easy to talk about what's on your mind...dashed dreams, what ifs, hopes for the future. We didn't solve any earth-shaking problems or make any monumental decisions, but when we finally went inside, I felt re-energized. Everyone needs a front porch swing from which to watch the world.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Hours after the ol' stent removal yesterday, I developed the bladder pain from hell. More hours passed, with no relief, so I decided to call the physician's assistant who'd done the removal. She was with a patient, so I left a message and then called the urologist's office in Wichita to seek advice. I should have known better. Since my doctor is part of a group practice, a phone service took all incoming calls. In other words, I had to listen to a robotic litany of possibilities. "If you are a patient doubled over in pain who doesn't mind being further irritated by this lousy recording for the next 10 minutes, press 4...."

When the menu finally came to my physician's nurse, I pressed her number....only to learn from her voice mail that she was "out of the office." An alternative number was given; it was busy. Son of a.....

When I finally got through, the agony increasing with each passing second, the substitute nurse said my doctor was also out of the office and she'd have to page him and call me back with an answer. By the time that happened ("Try to deal with the pain."), I had already talked to the local physician's assistant who'd removed the stent. She explained that I was having bladder spasms, which would ease up if I kept drinking water, and she was right. After four hours, I was feeling better, no thanks to the telephone "service" from the urologist's office.

I've had the spasms on and off today but they haven't been as bad or lasted as long, so I guess I'll stay off the telephone, keep my sanity, and suck it up. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The stent was removed from my urethra this morning. I was alarmed at how long it was...a good 12 inches or more. Fortunately, the head stent gal pulled it out in one swift motion and didn't prolong the agony. "Breathe deeply." She then asked me if I wanted to save it for a souvenir to show at family gatherings.

"Hell, no! Double hell no! Triple hell no! Throw it away! Stat!"

We yapped some more about the agony of a kidney stone. Then, as I was out the door, she said, "Oh, if you can't pee you'll need to come back and get catheterized. There's always the possibility of a blood clot."

Oh, great. That's just what I want to go through again. Another catheter. When I got home, I started drinking up a storm...after taking a pain pill. "Please, God, let me pee on my own. Please, please, please."

When I felt it was time to head for the john to give peeing a try, I was anxious. My body just HAD to work on its own....and, thankfully, it did.

"Hooray!" (Yes, I said it out loud.) "I can pee! I can pee!" Not a lot but this called for a celebration. If only I felt like it. I'm going back to bed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Dr. Big Bore has been doing an excellent job taking care of me since I got out of the hospital Sunday. I've tried not to be a demanding patient, however. Make me some Jello and buy me a bunch of bananas and I'm happy. He's been off work the past two days, which has been nice...he can do kitty litter duty without feeling overwhelmed.

"It hasn't been so bad," he said this morning, about being head pooper scooper of the household for a few days.

"Well, if that's the case, you're welcome to keep doing it after I recover," I responded.

"That's okay, I'll let you have it back," he said.

Big Bore doesn't want to deprive me of doing meaningful work. He knows I like to feel important. As soon a I get the stent yanked out of my urethra, it's back to the litter patrol. Oh, joy!

Monday, June 9, 2008


Last week the KU basketball team (national champions, need I remind you) made a trip to Washington, D.C. to mingle with President Bush. Now, I figure this honorable occasion was more of a thrill for the president than the student athletes, but I'm not one to begrudge them a free trip to the White House. The champs presented Mr. Bush with a KU #1 jersey, cap, and an autographed basketball. And it was at this point that my ol' pal Dr. Maureen, a KU medical school grad, about had a stroke.

"Did anyone else see that ditz George W. with the team yesterday?" she e-mailed. "They gave him a basketball autographed by the team and coaches and he tries to DRIBBLE IT??!! Nothing like wiping away those names on the concrete!"

I suspect Dr. Maureen wasn't the only Democrat in the country who picked up on this presidential faux pas. Plus, she is, and I would swear on a stack of Sports Illustrated about this, as sports savvy as any commentator you'll ever see on TV. Rules, players' backgrounds, statistics, she knows it all. She is also, and I say this in a kind way, verging on being obsessive about her favorite teams. To dribble that signed basketball would be sacrilegious in her mind, aside from being stupid. It needs to be hermetically sealed and placed in a shrine, of course.

In fairness to our president, though, he probably has more important matters on his mind than to be aware of sports etiquette. One of his daughters recently married, and we all know how distracting and stressful that can be for a parent. Oh, and then there are some other little problems to worry about...our lousy economy, the lousy high price of gas, and the lousy war in Iraq that he helped to mastermind. I suspect Dr. Maureen would recommend that it's probably time for him to leave the big arena, dribble on back to Texas, and let someone else be named to the starting line-up. In other words, she's ready to pull the plug.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Don't ever get a kidney stone. That's my advice for today...mainly because Friday I woke up with the most horrendous pain I'd ever experienced, and, long story short, I was ambulanced over to a hospital in Wichita, where this pea-sized stone was blasted out yesterday by some laser contraption. Don't ask me for details. I was too busy shaking and screaming and puking to care to remember much about it. From now on, my mission in life is to make sure there are no repeat performances for the ol' Flaming Bore, here, and to get the stent removed from my urethra...or whatever it's called "down there." Here's what will be my new bumper sticker:


I'm hoping that one of our presidential candidates will pick up this slogan as a campaign catch phrase and spread the word. Kidney stones are a bitch! A double bitch. No, a triple bitch. Man, they suck!

Thursday, June 5, 2008


My least favorite household chore of all time is vacuuming. It's a hassle shoving around this so-called modern convenience, plus it's noisy, and changing the bags is the pits. I once learned the hard way that a nasty, dirt-bulging bag should always be removed outdoors--the time that it ripped open, inside the house, of course, spilling months of crud back onto my carpet.

The first vacuum cleaner I ever owned was a canister type that had about a half-dozen or so handy-dandy attachments, all which I lost within a few weeks of purchase. I had a heckuva time dragging the contraption through the house without battering it into furniture. The coffee table received so many deep gouges that I finally decided to purchase a lighter weight upright number a few years ago. This one is supposed to work wonders on both carpet and wood floors, all with the flip of a switch. To tell you the truth, it doesn't clean very well either way, but the price was right.

It seems that not everyone is an anti-vacuumist and detests these monsters as much as I do. I checked out the Internet and discovered vacuum cleaner museums and several collectors' clubs and websites. One poor sap claims he owns 137 vacuums! What is wrong with this man? I can't even tolerate owning one! Where does he put them? Another writes of his fascination with vacuums as though he is romancing them (" heart started pounding when I saw it....") Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe he is romancing them. Anything's possible.

Lately I've been giving a lot of thought as to how to make vacuuming easier, and here's what I've decided: I'll either hire a maid or spread a few packets of zinnia seeds on my bedroom carpet, water it every once in a while, and let the dirt have at it. Problem solved!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Yesterday after supper I was out pedaling my trusty Schwinn 3-speed southeast of town when I happened to turn my head skyward to the west. What I saw was breathtaking. The sun was beginning to peek behind a dark, fluffy cloud and the rays stretched all the way to the horizon. In the foreground was a fence, with grass swaying beside it. Damn! Where's my camera when I need it? I began to think of how I would have captured this awesome vertical shot, changed it to black and white on the computer, and played around with the contrast. Black mounting board, silver frame. Oh, I would have made Ansel Adams proud! But, I'll never have that picture back again. I could plan and plan and wait and wait and the sky will never be exactly as it was last evening. What a shame that I missed such a glorious shot.

There have been similar times in the last few weeks when I wished I'd had my camera...the sun peeping through cedar trees and iris at the Neodesha cemetery, its rays settling on an old obelisk gravestone; a rainbow arc behind Mama Bore's house as viewed from Fredonia's South Mound observation tower. Why didn't I think to bring my camera with me?

Well, I tell you what I did when I returned home from that bike ride yesterday. I went to my closet, dug out an old fanny pack, and from now on the camera goes wherever I go. I don't care if it's just to walk down to the post office and back, I'm hauling that 10x, 8.0 mega pixels baby with me. I may never get those other awesome moments back--in fact, I'm positive I won't, but I'm not going to miss out on any more.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


While I was walking about town yesterday, I ran into an old student who had been in my English II classroom 17 years ago. We stopped to hug and chat and before long we were laughing about crazy incidences that took place, all in the name of higher education, of course.

I reminded the student about her stellar Act III, Julius Caesar performance, when she was on her knees begging the Roman ruler to allow a family member to return to the city. The boy playing JC, not the most solid reader in the class but game, nonetheless, misread his script and instead of saying, "Metellus, you can bow to me all you want...." said, "Metellus, you can blow me all you want...." The young lady was mortified and looked up at me to see if I'd cut the action, but I was concentrating on videotaping the dramatic event and didn't catch the crazy mistake. The show must go on. The "Romans" in the background were busting up behind their scripts, while "Caesar" continued his rant, wondering why everyone was laughing, not knowing what he'd said wrong until the scene was over. Needless to say, it was the talk of the day in Room 114, and there were plenty of demands for instant replays of the tape.

That was my first year of teaching. In spite of the mistakes now and then, I had a wonderful time, and I think most of my students learned a little bit and enjoyed the class, especially the creative and personal writing assignments. Some kids told me that, for the first time, they liked walking into an English classroom.

By the time I retired 15 years later, though, a lot had changed. President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 made it necessary to drop many of the "fun" assignments from previous years. The state's emphasis on writing moved from narratives to exposition. Specific standards were established, all directed to the state assessments, and teachers were supposed to teach towards those. I lost my enthusiasm. I also became lost in a sea of paperwork. Then I lost my good health. It was time to leave.

Today I went down to the basement to dig up some old VCR tapes from school for the "kids" of the Class of 1998 who are having their 10-year reunion this weekend. One of their activities will be the viewing of their campy Hamlet and King Arthur skits from English II. I'm wondering if any of them will watch the videos and feel regret that they were "left behind" because they graduated before Bush's NCLB Act was instituted. For some reason, I doubt it. In fact, I'd bet money on it.

Monday, June 2, 2008


When I was back in Fredonia helping out Mama Bore last week, I went for long walks each evening. Since she lives across the street from the high school, one stormy looking night I decided to hit up the track. I figured if all hell broke loose, shelter was close by.

The track is one of those fancy, all-weather, cushy types...and it was while I took notice of its high quality that I had a flashback to 1961. I was suddenly 11 years old and a member of the Fredonia Shamrocks, a girls track and field group that was a part of the town's summer recreation program.

Back in those days, no one had heard of spongy tracks. We had...cinders! I suppose it wouldn't have been so bad had I owned a pair of spiked running shoes that dug in and provided some traction, but such sporty footwear cost high dollars. For many of us, it was either tennis shoes (and we're not talking Air Nikes!) or, my choice, going barefoot. Yes, on cinders. I considered it a source of rugged pride (okay, maybe foolish pride) that I was tough enough to allow my feet to be chewed up by black, hot, ground-up chat.

I actually wasn't all that bad. The 200-yard shuttle relay team I was on ended up having the 3rd fastest time in the nation for 10-11 year olds that season of '61. I have the official AAU certificate to prove it. My favorite event, however, was the standing long jump. It was easier on the feet. Competitors launched into a sand pit from a slanted platform. I had pretty good technique, wrapping my toes around the edge of the board for extra push. My personal best was 8 feet, 4 inches. Why do I still remember that distance?

When summer was over, for some reason, girls didn't get to compete in any school sports. Boys only. No girls allowed. This was in spite of the fact that the Shamrocks were quite accomplished in the Junior Olympics circuit--mainly because we had an older girl on the team who always took first place in everything she entered...hurdles, long jump, dashes, whatever. You name it and she was sure to win. She was so talented that three summers later she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and running the quarter-mile in the real Olympics in Tokyo. Her long legs were like a thoroughbred's and, of course, she wore spikes. She trained on the hometown cinders, running against a boys' 440-yard relay team, whipping them every time. Oh, how we girls loved to see that happen.

The other night while walking around the track, I could still envision her gliding effortlessly around the track, stride long and graceful. She was a running vision to behold. And I could almost feel those blasted cinders burning the soles of my feet during 50-yard practice sprints, my ponytail flying in the breeze behind me. --Ah, it doesn't really seem that long ago.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


The Flaming Bore has been blog-less recently, as Mama Bore was in the hospital for a few days reeling from an inner ear condition. Once she got home, I stayed on to be her gofer/gardener. Fortunately big brother Beans brought daily meals on wheels, since he is a chef supreme who knows that my cooking would have made Mom more nauseous than she already was. I am happy to report that she is feeling better.

Although I knew Big Bore could take care of himself in my absence and would remember to water the yard and feed the cats, there was one chore he would be certain to conveniently overlook. He does not do litter boxes. Never has; never will. His idea of tending to the two "depositories" on our back porch is to keep throwing on the litter, hoping that maybe the problem will go away on its own. This was the longest I'd ever been away from him and the cats, so I was prepared for the shock. I'll spare my gentle readers the description but will say that all four babies were overjoyed to see me come to their rescue. I swear I heard poor Critter meow out, "Hallelujah! She's back!"

Between the overflowing litter boxes and the bills that arrived in the mail while I was gone, I think I'm about ready to call 911 and check in at the hospital. I'm beginning to feel a little woozy.