flightless hag

A chronicle of the adventures of birdwoman: a lonely, talentless freak who wanders the internet in search of entertainment.

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Location: Philly

I'm a 40-something married white female, survivor of weight watchers, avid reader of pulp. Dogs (not cats), extreme right (handed, not politics), ENTJ, alto, wanna-be knitter.

November 24, 2016

poor little me

So, Birdman has been quite the handyman of late. He googles and youtubes and channels Bob The Builder (can he fix it? yes he can! mostly!) whenever we have something break in the dusty aviary. So, two weeks ago, the stuff, it started breaking again. He Was On It!

Broken whack job hinge that is out of warranty? Fixed! (after much swearing). Weird lights coming on in the cars? Fixed! Medicine cabinet door snaps off? Fixed!

Except, this presents a new problem for me...

See, he had to replace the medicine cabinet. And he did a fantastic job. But. The medicine cabinet is child proofed. It's waaaaay up high in the bathroom. The handle is, I crap you not, over my head.

I am the only one who in this house who has to tippytoe to open the damn thing. Sometimes, I hate living with giants. Moth has taken to calling me the imp or Tyrrrion or midget... definitely Harvey genes there. Stinky just looks down on me, gets his Larry glint in his eyes, and grins. I know what he's thinking. He knows I know what he's thinking. Point to giant.


Another thing John has gotten into as of late is Words With Friends - or rather frienemies. I have heard much of the might and wrath of Thundarian and his ilk. Today, Moth challenged Dad to a game of scrabble. There was much going back and forth, but with the strategically placed "hats," Moth pulled into the lead. And Dad had to go take a shower. So, Tim officially won the match. Poor Dad.

And now, we're off to the original Birdland to be birdibles (like cannibals only eating a great, big bird) and hang with the Harvey crew. (or crΓΌe, if you're from the 80's, as we are. )

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 06, 2016

Doo Dah Doo Dah

So, I was over on the Book, the FaceBook today. One of my high school fellow alumni posted from Stevensville.


Now, some years ago, I got quite interested in genealogy. Of course, my interest was sparked after most (if not all) of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents had passed on, but I got bitten nonetheless. I do wish, all of the time, that I had listened to the oldsters' stories when I was a younger brat. Alas. Regrets.

Anyhow, one of the things I learned in research (knew from the stories, if I thought about it) was that my grandmother was a Stevens from Stevensville. Never quite knew if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Stevensville was named for Peter or Aden stevens... can't remember which one... who came down round about revolutionary war time to settle the area. See, NorthEastPA (how natives refer to it?) wasn't settled by whites until the early 1800's - it was still Indian territory and quite a number of settlers found that out the hard way.

Anyway, I have always wanted to take the time to track down Stevensville to see where it is. So he told me where when I asked, and I googled it. Sure enough, there it is, too small for the map, next to Camptown.

Now that's a story I remember: either Grandma or Aunt Florence telling me about Camptown - the big town next to Stevensville, and of Camptown Races fame.

30-35 years later, I'm like, yeah right. There have to be a dozen Camptowns in the US. What are the chances the fly speck on the map of PA is the one Steven Foster wrote his song about.

Guess what? I should trust Aunt Florence's stories more. It really was.

And I should have known. She's been proven disturbingly correct before. I remember back in high school, I was sitting at their kitchen table doing my homework. Aunt Florence came out to talk to me.

"Whacha doing there?" (this is my memory of her voice, though I could be making it up)


"French? Why would you study that? They don't even have running water over there."

(at this, I stopped copying my 4th copy of conversation blah blah... Philippe nage a la picine. Phillipe plonge! and looked up, quizically) "What do you mean?"

"When Jerry was there, they didn't have running water."

Now, Jerry was Aunt Florence's second husband. (As opposed to Dick Bohner, her first, much lamented, infelicitously named and short-lived husband. I shall leave it to you, dear reader, to decide if the lamentations were due to the name or the importune passing.) Jerry was much older than Aunt Florence. He had, in fact, served in the war. The Great War. World War I. In France.

So, yeah, in 1917, the war-torn area that he... visited didn't have running water. I'm sure I did the teenaged eye-roll. "I don't think many people had running water in 1917. They probably have it by now."

"Them French are dirty. Don't know why you'd study French. Heh heh." My memories of Aunt Florence are of her often laughing at strange moments. Again, I may be imagining this in retrospect, but I don't think so.

I just shook my head and studied my French. Mademoiselle Marshall was quite the taskmaster, after all.

Fast forward 20 years. Mr. Birdwoman and I went on our Big Trip Before Kids. We spent a fortnight in Britain. One of our last days there, we decided to take the new fancy-schmancy chunnel tunnel train over to Paris. One day in Paris to end out or adventures would, as Ma Bennet might say, set us up just right. 

So we got over there, and Mr. Birdwoman had to pee. And he could find nowhere to pee. Nowhere. Found a urinal at a museum, finally, but it was a few hours.

Eventually, we decided to buy a meal before heading back to London.

In the restaurant, I asked the waiter where the WC was. He smiled, gave me directions and a coin. I looked at the coin and then at him. "You need to pay to go." So I did, and I did. To open the door, you had to pay. It was a tiny litle toilet, hardly worth the fee, but I really had to go.

A minute later, John asks where the men's room is, and if he can borrow a coin. The waiter smiled and said, "Men don't pay."

Oh, I was too astonished to be angry. But as I waited for John to come back, it really started to bug me.

And then, he came back. And he was pale and looked quite disturbed.

I asked what was wrong, and he said, "later..."

So, when we were safely ensconced back in the train, heading back to England, I asked what the problem was.

"Well, men didn't have to pay for a reason. There was no urinal, no toilet, and no sink. Just a trough running down the wall. The #2's sat there waiting to be washed down by #1's. Worst thing was, while I was leaving, the cook went in. I can't believe they didn't have running water!"

Oh, my. Aunt Florence was right. Dirty birdies, real rap.


(Of course, I'm sure this is not most of Paris. And I'm sure my brain has exaggerated this story in the last 15 years. Whatever. It's a blog and hyperbole is allowed.)


November 03, 2016

Living in Union Town

So, we're in the middle of a transit strike here in Philly. Bad for birdwoman: I take the public transport. Sigh. This week, I've been forced to upgrade to the big trains. Moth would be in heaven. I must admit, I get a bit of a thrill taking the big trains; especially on foggy, dark mornings. It's like something out of a Bogart movie - not that I've ever seen one. However, on top of my already kinda expensive monthly transit pass, I have to pay an extra $7 a day for the privilege of going to work. In the end, it's fine, though, because I really love walking through the city, especially in the morning.

Our kids at school have it much, much worse. I'm not in a neighborhood school, I teach at what's called a magnet school. Most of our kids come in from FAR away, so attendance is in the cellar.

The first day, I had 2 kids in one class; my max class was 11. Generally, all of my classes (except last period) have 30. We have, generally, a 95%+ attendance rate for all of the students. In the city, that's pretty amazing. So, this week has been really quite strange.

The second day of the strike, my bad class almost all came. Yes, I have a bad class. I teach 9th grade this year, and some of these freshmen are so immature... like they get up and dance in the middle of class. NOTHING about my classes is exciting enough to inspire dance. I have one student who, whenever he has a question, gets up from his seat, walks over to where I am, and no matter what I'm doing, shoves his paper in my face and asks his question. I could be talking to another student. I could be lecturing. It matters not to chappie.

So, I'm like, great. My good class is empty and my headache class is full. I was at the door when I heard one boy (the dancer) talking to a girl. (no-filter girl - always says EXACTLY what she's thinking, all the time, REALLY loudly. It's like my class has a soundtrack of her thoughts.)  "Yeah, Mom made so-and-so take me to school. She had to pay and everything. But she said she couldn't stand me being home anymore."

A. Whole. Class. Full. Of. Them.

Not really - just 6 of them; 4 really obnoxious. The rest are just our regular students - awesome kids who are trying to make the best of their lives. I really love my school.

One of the interesting things about teaching in the city is trying to get the names right. At my old school, I did have a student named Shithead (that's shi-th-eed). Imagine trying to pronounce that the first time! This school has an interesting mix of city names - which are really neat and creative, cultural names (as we have lots of first gens here), and traditional names. They seem to follow patterns. Last year was the year of Destiny (3 in one grade), this year is Jaylyn/Jaylah/Jaila/Jayla. I once had 4 Jasmines in one class, all spelled differently: Jazzmyne, Jasmine, Jazmen, Jasmyn. But it's the rarity that I have more than one traditional name.

In one class this year, I have Erin and Aaron. They don't like it when I say their names and they don't know which one I'm calling on. Usually, I'll say Mr. so and so or Mademoiselle so and so. But as his last name makes the immature 9th graders giggle (eyeroll) and her name is two huge hyphenated names, this is a pain. So one day, I called on him by calling him A-a-ron. And we all laughed. Did you? If not, watch this video, stat.

 (yes, there are teachers like this in the city. they are a bit scary.)


Part of the coolness of not having blogged in two years is that I have stories... if I can remember them. One story is one you should thank me for.


Back when I was still posting, we had had a huge winter storm that had knocked out our power for three or so days. It was quite awful. The next year, Sandy hit, and we went another three? four? days without power. We had some tricks from the last time on keeping the ambient temp in the house not frozen. We had to bail our sump pump in the dark - egads that was awful.

So, being the lazy sods we are, we invested in a whole house generator. It's housed behind our abode and it supposedly will come on in any power interruption of longer than a minute.

We've not even had a bad snow storm since we got it, almost two years ago now. :) You're welcome.

And the bell rang. There are a total of 10 kids in the hallway. :(  Have a nice day!