Thursday, May 31, 2007


Well, even though I only had 7 weeks back at school it is really nice to be out for summer. Although there'll be no rest for the weary. I start teaching summer school next week and will be back at the nursery when I'm not teaching. I am also going to do some volunteer teaching/lesson planning at Lubbock Lake Landmark. I am getting to teach lessons on prairie dogs and their habitats. It should be tons of fun.

I think I am really back into the swing of life in the states. The trip seems a distant memory. It is really good to be home and back to normal.

I went home for Mother's Day, which was really good. Those days seem even more significant to me since mom was diagnosed with cancer. She finished her chemo in March, so we are thankful to be done with that. During my time home I helped her get her garden in order. That is always fun for me. While I was there, I was amazed at my mom's country survival skills. We heard a squeel which we thought was the cat, or something caught by the cat. My mom's white schnauzer was wandering around the yard and pasture and dragged up a live cottontail rabbit. I was horrified. I get the dog away from the rabbit, who is mortally wounded in the neck. My mom decided she was going to get the shotgun out and put it out of it's misery. I begged her to just let it be, but she was determined to end the rabbit's suffering. She tried to load the shotgun with birdshot shells, but ended up having to call my dad to ask how to load it. I had to go in the house, because I could not bear to be there. I ran inside and shut myself in the bathroom, and turned on the heater so I couldn't hear the shot. By the time I came back out, she had shot the rabbit and threw it over the fence for the cat to feast upon. The next thing we know, the dog was dragging it back over into the yard. Mom finally disposed of the rabbit. It is kind of funny to see this little white lap dog act like she is a country dog. I left thinking my mom was quite the frontier lady. I have to admit, I never thought I'd get to see her use a gun, but she can do some damage with the birdshot. Small animals beware!

I showed my parents some souveniers I collected in Vietnam. My mom took the picture below. I should be ready for a summer of gardening!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

What You Might Have Missed

I am really sorry to have taken so long to get these posted. By now there may not be anyone interested in reading the blog. I have finally readjusted to life back in Lubbock. I hit the ground running back at school, returning in time for the TAKS test. My kids acted like they were anxious for me to be back, but that was short lived. One day I visited them before I was actually back in the classroom. They all tried to convince me that the teacher who took my place while I was gone was "really mean". Mind you she is one of the most nurturing, kind, pleasant people you could ever hope to be your teacher. I guess they had forgotten what "really mean" was in my absence. It didn't take long for them to loose their excitement about my return.

Anyway, on to a story I completely forgot to post. We were in Thailand, when Melissa (the boys' mom) asked me if I wanted to go to a cobra milking at the Red Cross. Absolutely! I thought.

So we go and there is a small area of stadium type seating. We wait patiently for the "milking" to begin. The first snake was a king cobra, who was brought out bare-handed by a trainer. I was really surprised considering what I had learned about king cobras in Nepal. The trainer let him down and began antagonizing the snake for a good show. Everyone was standing up half out of wanting to see, half out of reaction that a frickin' king cobra being set down below us. I kept thinking about what Sanjay told me in Nepal about king cobras being able to propel themselves with their tale towards the head of their victim. I invisioned that king cobra going straight for my forehead. When it was time to bring out the next snakes, the king cobra's trainer walked up next to him and swiftly grabbed him around the throat and walked off. Another trainer walked onto the scene showing us his four fingers on one of his hands. He had apparently lost his index finger after a king cobra bit him.

Two more trainers brought out two siamese cobras. According to the speaker the siamese cobra venom is more potent than the king cobra's, and it takes less time to inject their victims, if you will. The trainers did the same antagonistic dance with these two snakes, then walked right up to them and snatched them up by the neck. I kept wondering how one gets past the fear of being bit. I know I never could.

There were more vipers brought out for show, but the one that impressed me the most was called something like a copperback racer. It wasn't a copperhead. Anyway, it was a smaller snake. When its trainer put it on the ground, it coiled itself up and propelled itself at the trainer's head. I stood in complete amazement as the trainer caught it in mid air with just enough room for the snake to barely miss the guy's forehead. I have never seen anything so crazy in my life. It was like some syncronized circus act.

After they showed us all the vipers, they demonstrated the milking of a siamese cobra. Right after, they showed us how they force feed them so they will produce the venom more quickly. While we were watching this demonstration, my mind went back to the museum I went through in India with the display of vipers. It showed how a person might be able to tell whether or not a snake was indeed a viper. The first way was by looking at its belly at the arrangement of scales. There are people who do this, and other crazy things, such as catching one in midair. Glad there are people willing to do this for anti-venom, but you have to question their sanity just a little bit!

King Cobra

Siamese Cobras

Milking Siamese Cobra

Force feeding after milking

One other really cool thing we did was going to a Chinese Acrobatic Act in Shanghai. There were contortionists, acrobats, gymnists. It was really neat. I think their joints must be made of rubber. All the guys had their hair spiked with wild colors, and were wearing fur half vests. It reminded me of the movie Hook. I wanted to yell "RUFIO, RUFIO!" The boys granddad really hit the nail on the head during intermission when he announced "I think they's 'bout half flyin' squirrel!"

Well, I am not sure what to do with my blog now. Nothing interesting going on here in Lubbock. Tim Rush suggested me doing something about things I love about Lubbock. I could try that, but for some reason, I think it would be about my favorite restaurants, considering that there are more restaurants per capita here than anywhere in the U.S. or probably even the world.

Thanks for hanging in on this wild adventure. If you have any blog ideas, let me know and I'll see what I can do.