Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I often think of things to write about here. Usually when I am alone in the car, worrying whether I will make it to work on time or whether I will make it to pick up the kids on time, or on some time-limited errand.

But then I get to the computer and the topics feel either lifeless or too dangerous.

I think most of the blogging world has been freed from the myth that blogging is a private thing. Even if you don't use your whole name, and limit other identifyung features, people can still find you. And if those people perhaps read something that offends, then the real world and the virtual world collide and fallout can be ugly. I'd rather not go there, thanks. My real world is complicated enough.

And so I edit.

Some people don't care, of course. Perhaps those people have a touch more courage than I do.

But, oh, I could write some really juicy things.

Guess I'll keep them to myself. For now.

(And I'll keep looking for appropriate things to write about.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

In the Spirit of the Weekend...

'Tis the season to write a sappy list of the things for which I am thankful. Yes, it's cliche. But it's all true.

I am thankful for (not comprehensive):

  • Entenmann's Cheese Filled Crumb Coffee Cake
  • Coffee
  • Hydrangeas
  • Healthy, thriving children
  • Healthy, loving husband
  • Strawberry yogurt
  • Internet shopping (saving me from the crazed masses in the stores)
  • Wet dog noses
  • Friends
  • A job at which I continue to learn new things, even if the politics sometimes annoy me
  • Peonies
  • Perspective (about some things, anyway)
  • Sand between my toes
  • Weather
  • Belly kisses
  • A roof over our heads that is not too big, not too small - it's just right.
  • Ice cream
  • Wooden knitting needles
  • Sappy Christmas music

I readily admit that I have a good life. I am lucky in so many respects.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Town Circus, I mean, Meeting

Last night I attended a special town meeting.

Ah, town meeting. That curious and quaint method of town government peculiar to New England. It can work so well, and yet, so often, it doesn't. But it's what we have. And the kind of arguments and personal attacks that come up at town meeting are enough to sway me from ever formally suggesting anything different - because anything suggested would have to be brought up, argued and voted upon at town meeting, of course.

I'd forgotten about this town meeting completely, until K, an acquaintance and member of the town's school committee, called to remind me. I knew that at least one of us should go. As faithful as I am about voting in town elections, I admit to trying to avoid town meetings Especially after the full-day Kindergarten debacle a few years ago. On the special warrant were three items related to the schools. They were items that desperately needed support - and defense from the usual town meeting suspects.

Sure enough, the usual suspects were there. Were it not for our talented town moderator we might have been sucked into the vortex of endless circular complaints about anything and everything.

What we were voting on, in the first four warrant items, were transfers from the town's free cash (essentially, emergency reserves) to various departments to cover collective bargaining agreements with various unions, expense overruns and unforeseen expenses. This was bargaining with unions and contracts that were not complete at the regular town meeting in March and much as departments tried to budget, they could not know exact amounts. The various town committee representatives gave their opinions on the warrants, recommending them for approval, for the most part, and noting that concessions were made on all sides.

Okay, so the police went first. They got all their money, no "nays." As did the town clerical staff, town library staff and the firefighters. I'm sure the group of uniformed officers standing around looking down on everyone with crossed arms had no influence. None at all.

But when it gets to teachers - well, then it got nasty. And I just wanted to shake some of these people. But I didn't. I didn't want to stoop to their level. These are teachers we were talking about, teachers who teach our children, who help shape our future, to use all the cliches. There is no evil agenda.

Our school budget is already bare bones. Our budget overall only rose about 3% from the last fiscal year and that's AFTER the approval of this additional appropriation. That's less than the cost of living! Which means our hard-working teachers essentially are taking a pay cut when you consider cost of living increases. We spend less per pupil than surrounding towns (and it's starting to show, in my opinion). We have a business manager for the schools that manages the school budget within millimeters-and deals with the people in town who berate him on a monthly basis for wasting their money.

I'm not saying the school department or budget is perfect, but they do a damn good job, with far more accountability and transparency than other departments. The school committee made a few fumbles in presenting the warrants, I think. But, two of the three school appropriations made it through, thankfully.

I absolutely understand the desire of towns people to want their tax dollars spent well. Of course I do. But why attack the schools when our small town police department has spent tens of thousands of dollars on a K9 unit and training that I have yet to hear of being used other than for show and tell at the elementary school. Our fire department has a Hummer. In addition to eight or nine regular fire vehicles. Why? We are a small town! The Senior Center gets whatever it wants. And I do mean whatever. It's getting a whole new parking lot installed but there was never anything wrong with the old one.

I would bet, that if you divided the police contract appropriation by the number of staff affected by it, and did the same for the teacher contract appropriation, the police each received a much heftier salary increase than the teachers.

There's this contingent of older town residents that say, why should we support the schools when we don't have any kids in the schools? Well, they did have kids in the schools once upon a time, and they fought for the schools then. It seems very shortsighted. What if one of their children moves back to town and wants to enroll their grandchildren in the schools? Will they be good enough then or will the years of the constant battering of the school budget have done irreparable damage by then? And don't forget, these kids going through the schools now are the one who are going to be responsible for supporting our economy-and their retirement investments-in the coming years.

There's the contingent in town with school age children who isn't active enough in defending our schools. I admit to being part of that group at times. With everything else we need to accomplish for our kids and families, it's hard to get excited about adding in hours and hours of tedious town meeting (which is why the debacle of town meeting 2003 occurred). This is also short-sighted. We need to fight for and protect our schools and other issues in town that affect us.

I'm tired of all the acrimony in town under the guise of accounting for tax dollars. When it comes down to it, it's just one side attacking anothers values.

Stop it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Party at the Polls

The middle school in town was a surprisingly hopping place at 6:08 AM when I went in to vote. Who woudla thought. Not just business people stopping by before the long commute into the city, either. It was heartening.

There does seem to be some excitement with this election, a feeling of change in the air. Regime change begins at home, after all.

An election shouldn't have to be exciting or controversial to get people to the polls, though. It's our privilege and responsibility to vote. I usually take at least one of the kids with me and sometimes let them fill in a bubble or two. A friend of mine recalls being ushered through the snow in northern Vermont by her mother to get to the polls; her mother setting the example that one votes when an election is held, period.

I had this notion drilled into my head from an early age, too. I know exactly the look my father's face would have if I did NOT vote. As it is, I know he's looking down on me, watching me vote for members of the other political party and thinking, "At least she voted." With a heavy sigh.

Last spring in the town elections, I almost didn't vote. We were doing some house and yard work and completely forgot about it, until someone called to remind us. I rushed and made it with about ten minutes to spare. Later the next day, I learned that an acquaintance who was a candidate for library trustee was won her spot by two votes. Two. Votes.

As much as I believed in voting before last spring, and made the effort to vote in every possible election, it was that election that drove it home for me. My vote counts.

So does everyone's.

And that's just really cool.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Guess I Am Sticking Around for a Bit

When I started this experiment I wasn't sure I'd stick around. I still don't know how long I will last, but I'm here for now.

I've started telling a few people about it.



I think. :-)

Suburban Strife

What makes for a bad day in suburbia?


My husband had to be away for most of the weekend. I decided to take advantage of his time away and watch one of the ultimate chick flicks possible - the BBC mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice. Two discs, five hours of classic chick lit translated to film. The discs from Netflix arrived in a timely fashion. I had good wine.

Friday night went as planned. Got the kids to bed, poured a glass of wine, put in disc 1, and curled up under the duvet. Ah.

Saturday night was all set to repeat. Got the kids in bed, poured a glass of wine, and put in disc...hey, wait a minute. This isn't disc 2. It's another disc 1.


I checked the disc sleeve. Yup, it said disc 2. I check the other disc sleeve and disc. They match in saying disc 1.

Sigh. Thanks, Netflix.


My hair is extremely thin, fine, and straight. I hate it, of course. I'm slowly learning to live with it. Maybe by the time I'm 90 I'll be at peace with it. Because of the nature of my hair, it's extremely difficult to cut. The slightest error in the cutting line is very visible.

Over the years I have struggled to find people who can cut my hair well, much less at all. There was one woman out west during my high school and college years; I would actually go six months without a cut so she could do it rather than risk a bad cut. Then she left the business to start a family and I tried for about 12 years to find someone - yes, 12. In that time I don't think I ever saw one hair dresser more than twice. Once I left a salon and not even the receptionist would tell me I "looked great" in that falsely perky manner that seems to be required of salon support staff.

A little over five years ago, just after we moved here, I tried the local Aveda salon (as I did and do enjoy Aveda products). It was one of the worst cuts I have ever had. The owner had to try to fix the damage, but the fix was barely better than the original. A woman I knew actually asked me if I'd had my hair cut that way on purpose.

After that fiasco, I decided I needed to go to the city, that I would have a better chance there. Suburban scissors would not do. After a little research and some building of courage, I called a specific salon and asked for an appointment with the owner of the salon. It was more than I'd ever paid for a haircut in my life - and it was perfect. Worth every penny. Even my husband recognizes that splurging on a good haircut reaped benefits with him, too. No more whining about bad haircuts for months on end!

I found my person. Over the last 4 1/2 years, I had come to trust him so much that I would sit down and not even tell him what I wanted done. I would just say, "Make me look good." And he would. I referred several friends for him. I even started getting highlights from him (fabulous, natural-looking), though I did not keep that up because finding that block of time to get into the city on a regular basis was difficult (and the cost was hard to justify-if the cut was more than I'd ever paid before, imagine partial foils! Worth it for the quality and time spent, but still pricey).

Because I am out in suburbia, and because of the relatively craziness of our life, I do not get into town for cuts as often as I would like. The last time was mid-August. I realized a couple of weeks ago I really needed a cut and started looking at the calendar for a time I could get in. Once I figured that out, and cleared it with my husband's schedule, I called.

Me: I'd like to make an appointment for a cut with David on November 17th, late afternoon.

Salon: Um, David is no longer with the salon.

Me: What?

Salon: David is no longer here.

Me: Who owns the salon now?

Salon: A woman named Monica.

Me: Do you know where David is?

Salon: No, I don't.

Me: Uh...Okay...Uh ...Um...Thanks...Uh, bye.

Obviously, I was shocked. When I was in for my cut in August, I asked how business was going and he indicated it was going well. And not to have a postcard or some contact information for loyal customers is surprising unless it was a sudden decision and/or he has left the business altogether. It may well have been sudden, as his father's health has been up and down in the last couple years. Wherever he is, I hope he's okay.

I guess I'm growing my hair out.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Things They Say

Every family has their own lore. Tales told over and over again about funny things that have been done and said by members of the family.

I woke up this morning thinking about something C said maybe a year and a half ago.

When I was pregnant with S, C was not particularly thrilled about a new addition to the family. It was only months after his illness and he was struggling with his own feelings around that. He openly expressed to me his desire not to have another brother or sister.

When S was born, and C and M came to the hospital to meet her, his first words were, "Can I hold her?" And from that moment on he has been a loving, doting and caring big brother. S is lucky girl. M is a lucky boy, too, as C can be a wonderful big brother to him, but it seems to be different with S. Less fraught with competition as it is between C and M. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

One day while walking the dog, I asked C, "So, bud, you weren't too thrilled with the idea of a sibling while I was pregnant. What happened?"

And with a completely straight face, C replied, "I didn't know she'd be so cute."

Say it with me now..."Aawww."