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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Here!

I'm using a shared computer so I don't have much time... but I wanted to let you all know that I'm here and doing well and having a great time. I've met some fabulous people and am learning some interesting and helpful stuff for my lessons.

I may be able to post later this week. If not, I'll write a long post about my experiences here when I get back to Colorado (most of my readers probably won't care all that much but one or two of you might!).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Off to Maine!

In ten and a half hours I will be on my way to Portland, Maine where I will be spending the next week studying with internationally renowned improv teacher Keith Johnstone (I know that his name doesn't mean a lot to most of you but I promise it's a big deal for me!). I can't wait to learn and be inspired and meet other artists from all over the nation who are also eager to study with this man. Just to put it into perspective, I read a lot of books in graduate school. Of all of the books I read, Keith Johnstone's Impro stood out to me as the most pivotal in the way I think about acting and teaching.

Tomorrow will be a long day of travel. I leave Alamosa at 6:15am and get into Portland at 5pm. Then I'll spend the night in a hotel and then the next afternoon be picked up by a bus that will take me to the theatre. I'll be there until next Sunday and will be home around 9:30pm Sunday night (if all of my connections make it).

I may be able to check my e-mail and blogs but I may not be able to. I hope that you have a happy, healthy and productive week!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thinking About Mom

I'm not sure when my mom will feel like reading blogs, but I wanted her to know I was thinking about her! Apparently she and my dad went to the emergency room and she ended up having an emergency appendectomy! She is now at home recovering as the surgery thankfully went off without any complications.

Get better soon mama! I'm thinking about you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Good Weekend... and Procrastination

Reid and I had a very nice weekend (despite the fact that there was some pretty impressive rain on and off all weekend which made it difficult to cut the grass, which still has not been done and which is soon going to cross over from cuttable to jungle).

Friday night we went and saw "The Dark Knight." It was good, though definitely darker than Batman Begins. I think they're definitely setting up for a trilogy, following the vain of Star Wars. The first one was a lot about the young hero not knowing how to fill the role he was thrust into. The second one is dark, with friends and support slipping away and leaving the audience in a bit of a sad state. I told Reid that this makes me very happy, because then the third one should have cute furry animals (hooray Ewoks)! Right?

On Saturday we prepped for a get-together with friends that we had at our house that evening. Since it threatened (and delivered) rain all day and evening Reid had to grill under the little awning of the garage. But otherwise we had a lot of fun and got to meet a few new faculty members and their significant others (and reconnect with a few that we had already spent a little bit of time with). My hope is to be more social this year!

And Sunday... well, frankly not much happened on Sunday. It was a rainy day as well. So there was a lot of book reading and a little bit of movie watching.

And now it's the week. My last week before I go to Maine. My last week before being thrust into a new semester. My last week to work on a paper that I have been supposed to be working on all summer long. And yet, I keep putting it off. I think a part of it is that the paper is for possible publication... and I just don't know that I'm that good of a writer... and if I start and get stuck then it will be confirmed! And I think the other part of it is just that I'm being stubborn because this is my last week of vacation and I want to spend it lounging around, reading my book for pleasure because I know once school starts pleasure reading has to come to a grinding halt.

Tomorrow I go into campus for a few meetings and some photo-copying and errands. Then Wednesday and Thursday I am going to make myself write... sure I am... if only that Diana Gabaldon wasn't calling me...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Side-by-Side Comparisons

Well... I think these are the last of my Raley pictures. I put together two little side-by-side collages. The pictures on the left are from the first week I was there. The pictures on the right are from the two days before I left. I don't know about you, but I can certainly see quite a change from the left to the right side! And you know what that means Sarah... we need pictures of her on a regular basis because she's practically changing week by week! :)

Hello up there! That silver shining box is realyl cool!

What? I'm supposed to be awake??


Hello everyone! I'm Sweets!
Sweets came to stay with Reid a couple of weeks ago. We are cat-sitting him for the lady who acutally used to own this house. We're not sure how long we'll have him, but he has certainly added a fun kitten air to the house!

As you can see, Sweets has some scar tissue. As a kitten he was accidentally burned over the majority of his body when they were burning the irrigation ditches around here. All of the hair on his scar tissue has grown in white. There are also a few places where the hair never grew back, like on the end of his nose and where his whiskers should be. Without whiskers, I think he has a bit of a human look to him. His paws were the worst burned and he had to have several toes on his front feet amputated. Besides a slight strangeness in his gait, though, it certainly doesn't seem to slow him down any. He is all kitten, attacking your feet one minute and then loving on you the next!

What are you looking at?? Come on over and give me scritches!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

RIP Glory

I've been putting off writing this post but it's been hanging over my head since I got home. It's never going to get easier, and since most of you already know this story, you can skip over it.

Glory was, apparently, not meant to be our dog for long. As you all know we took her back to the shelter when Tater and I left to go out west. About a month later the shelter called and told Reid that Glory had rejected the puppies (which at seven weeks is pretty natural as they were eating solid food and socializing with one another) and that he could come get her whenever he liked. In fact, they said that she was acting depressed and that it would probably be a good thing to come get her sooner rather than later, since she was out in the runs with the other dogs at the shelter and not doing well in the socializing department.

Reid was excited to go get her because after all he had been here all by himself for almost a month. He went and got her and did notice that she seemed kind of depressed. More importantly though she seemed to have some mastitis in one of her teats and a runny nose and watery eyes. He immediately took her to the vet who prescribed an antibiotic. And she seemed to do much better for awhile, though she still seemed to have a cough that wouldn't go away.

Then three Thursdays ago, she started having tremors in her leg. And then they moved to her whole body. Reid called the emergency vet who said Reid should bring her into the vet's office first thing in the morning because all of the symptoms sounded like distemper. We said, how could that be? She was vaccinated in April and again in May. Reid took her in on Friday morning and the vet swapped underneath her eyelid, to send for the test that would show distemper. He said the only thing we could do was wait and see... Poor Reid was, of course, beside himself and told me that night that all he wanted was resolution, either to be told for sure that it was or was not distemper (a disease for which there is no cure). But unfortunately they had to send the sample out of the valley and we knew we wouldn't get the results until the next week, at the earliest.

Glory, in her infinite sweetness, decided that Reid wouldn't have to wait for the test results. She had a grand mal seizure early Saturday morning (distemper moves quickly upon infection and eventually results in neurological symptoms that get worse and worse until the dog dies). He called the vet, took her in and had her put to sleep. All while I was fifteen hundred miles away and could do nothing but support him over the phone! We got the test results at the beginning of this week. She was positive for distemper.

Apparently vaccines are the least likely to take when a dog is pregnant. At that time her hormone levels are fluctuating so greatly and her immune system is attacking things inside her body (in order to keep the pups safe) at a really high rate, probably before she could build antibodies. Because of the short duration of time between exposure and the first signs of the disease, we are reasonably sure that she contracted it while back at the shelter after being removed from the puppies. The only two apparent blessings to this otherwise terrible event is that no other dogs at the shelter have shown signs of distemper (so don't ask me where she got because she certainly didn't come into contact with any dogs while here and she came to Reid already exhibiting the first symptoms) and that Tater was with me in DC while all of it went down. He has been repeatedly vaccinated but it was nice that we didn't have to worry about him being exposed.

And we have learned three very valuable lessons from this experience. First, vaccinating your pets is REALLY important. It only takes a brief exposure to another dog or cat for them to be infected with a disease like distemper, for which there is no cure. Second, we're going to take a bit more care in the future in terms of where we adopt a pet from ('cause I really don't think we could handle this stress over again). And third, love your pets every second of every day, because you don't know how short or long their time will be with you!

In my next post I'll introduce you to the little guy (a cat we are cat-sitting) who helped to raise Reid's spirits during the week between losing Glory and my getting home. "Sweets" is truly sweet.
We only had you for a short time little Glory-bell... but we're going to miss you for a lot longer.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The Big Read is an NEA program designed to encourage community reading initiatives. They've come up with this list of the top 100 books, using criteria they don't explain, and they estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of these.So, we are encouraged to:

So, we are encouraged to:

1) Look at the list and bold those we have read. (I had to underline them in order to get them to stand out)

2) Italicize those we intend to read.

3) Underline the books we LOVE

4) Reprint this list in our own blogs and share!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (almost… minus a few)

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (yes, I actually read the entire thing... aren't you proud of me?)

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (no, but I've read Frankenstein... does that count?)

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (no, but I've read two Toni Morrison books... who I think was my generations Alice Walker)

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (I even read it in French... so there NEA!)

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So… I have only read (or can only remember reading) 23 of the 100 (though I feel a little like I’m cheating with that, since Hamlet is a part of the complete works of William Shakespeare… and the truth is I don’t think I’ve ever read Cymbeline, a few of the histories or some of his sonnets). It certainly gives me a whole list of books to go look for at the library. I didn't italicize those I want to read because until I've read the descriptions of them, how will I know (though just by the titles Love In The Time Of Cholera and The Five People You Meet In Heaven are intriguing)? Plus, shouldn't a part of me (the academic part at least) want to read all of them?

And I want to know where are Fahrenheit 451 (which is one of the NEA Big Read sponsored books!**) and Hunchback of Notre Dame (one of the few books I was required to read in high school that I really enjoyed… there is just something truly rambling and wonderful about Hugo). And for that matter, where is Red Badge of Courage or The Scarlet Letter (both of which I would have to only half-bold because I read parts of them… enough to pass the tests in MA Block, sorry Mrs. Singleton).

(this list courtesy of both my mother’s blog, AliceDsThoughts, and Merrilee’s blog, Merrilee’s Musings, on the side)

(**Thank you to the first comment for pointing out the disparities between the list and the "One Book/One Community" program... I, in fact, know about the latter due to the fact that our theatre department was granted a NEA Big Read grant last year and we did an entire year of programming focused on Fahrenheit 451, including producing the play as our last show of the spring season... we also gave out over three hundred free copies of the book to individuals here in the San Luis Valley and had forums on censorship, a banned movie series, etc. In no way were my remarks above intended to belittle the NEA. I think some of their grants and sponsorships are very noble endeavors).

I am home

As my father pointed out in the last comment section on the last post, yes I am now home. I spent yesterday working on class prep and will probably spend the next several days doing the same.

And as for the drive... yeah, I got nothing. It was about as boring as Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado can be when you are looking at them as you go by at 70mph on I-70. But that was the way home, and I'm certainly glad to be here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Laptops are not my friend

After posting last time, the laptop I was using while Sarah and Dan were in LA refused to connect to the internet and then refused to move the cursor... so I didn't get to post any more during my four days off. I had a very good and relaxing visit to my friends in Richmond and then a few days off work this past week trying to help more with their house before I had to leave. I drove to my parents' house today where I'm spending the night. Then tomorrow I drive until I can't drive any more and then stop... then get up and drive the rest of the way home on Sunday.

So... if you have recently e-mailed me or written a particularly witty blog post, I promise I will get to it in the coming week (after I've had a little bit of time to decompress)!