Monday, December 29, 2008

Guilt

Not mine.

My sister and I have talked very little in the last couple of months. It's mostly fine by me.

However, she feels guilty about the way she behaved although she won't admit it. How do I know this?

For Christmas she sent me, among other things, a one pound box of See's candies. All dark chocolate Scotchmallows.

The woman who is KNOWN for her cheap shopping and re-gifting had to go have that box put together specially, and paid full-price.

The ball is in my court - as long as I don't actually insist we talk about what happened. Still considering what to do about it. Hmmm.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mutant Child

I took M and S to a new dentist today. Our old dentist is retiring and selling his practice to someone new; I decided to take the opportunity to move the kids to a pediatric dentistry practice.

The new practice was fabulous with S. Really great. It was her first full cleaning, and they even managed xrays.

M had the full treatment, too, including panoramic xrays which revealed something very interesting. The kid has an extra tooth buried high in the gums between his two front teeth. Seriously - he has three front teeth.

We'll be having him evaluated by an oral surgeon sometime soon. They may or may not need to remove it surgically.

(Very amusingly...after this discovery, I called a close friend and left her a message about it..she called back later as she had been at the dentist with her #2 son this morning and discovered he is missing a front tooth! The baby tooth has come out and there is nothing to take it's place. Dental transplant anyone?)

Addictions: A Meme

Lynne over at La Vida Es Un Sueno tagged me. I have to admit five additions.

I have more than five addictions. But do I have five that I will admit to?

Hmm....okay, here goes:

  • Coffee - an obvious but very true answer.
  • Really good sheets on my bed. I mean, really good. It's an area where I will splurge every few years. I like my bed.
  • Kisses - the human kind (though the chocolate ones are pretty good, too). Particularly those from my husband and a certain 4 year old daughter. I'd be addicted to kisses from the boys, too, but those are so few and far between that I tend to think of them as super special treats only.
  • Sunshine. It's kind of amusing that it took a move from the desert southwest to New England to realize I need sun. Need it. Late fall is a tough time for me. In "light" of that (har, har), belated Happy Solstice, everyone! It's all up hill from here.
  • Internet, of course. Of course. How did we live before Al Gore invented this nifty set of tubes?

Those who know me well may be surprised that knitting is not on the list. That's because I consider knitting to a past and hopefully future addiction. I miss it!

Now...whom to tag....the usual suspects...no repercussions if you choose not to participate...
And Happy Solstice, Happy Hannukah, Happy Christmas, and Happy New Year....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There is Always One

Excuse the language, but I am pissed.

Every year, there is at least one mail-order/catalog company that completely fucks up, and therefore fucks up my gift-giving. Every year it's a different company. Every year it's a different issue. Yet something happens every year.

Ugh.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Apparently it Does Matter

In the early morning, when C is leaving the house to meet the bus, I say after him, "Bye, sweetheart. I love you. Have a good day."

C always grunts back. That's an almost 13 year old for you.

This morning was my early morning at work and my husband was at home to get the kids off. Apparently, as C left the house, my husband said to him, "See ya."

C stopped, turned around and said, "Is that all you are going to say?"

My husband reports that he looked at C somewhat quizzically.

C told him, "Mom says, 'I love you,' and 'Have a good day,' to me."

My husband was somewhat taken aback and didn't respond quickly, during which time C said, "Okay, then, bye," and left.

I'll take parenting validation where I can - and I just did.

Eighteen Eyes

It was inevitable.

I wear glasses. My husband wears glasses. C wears glasses. It's now M's turn.

At his annual physical in October, the nurse noted during the vision test that one of his eyes is a good bit weaker than the other. Just like me. And it's his right eye, just like me. I figured I'd get him into the optometrist "soon." Read: procrastinate as long as possible.

Then a couple people mentioned to me that he seemed not to be able to read things at a distance well. Okay, no more procrastinating.

Yesterday was the appointment, and sure enough, glasses are on the way.

After determining this, the optometrist walked with us to the area of her office where the frames are. She picked out a couple and tried them on M. They looked good. I checked the price. The first pair she picked was $245. For the frame. For a nine year old.

I don't think so.

The next pair was $180.

Nope.

And on like that.

I recognize that the economy is probably taking it's toll on the optometrist, too, but get real. I wouldn't put glasses that expensive on a kid in boom times. Especially since C has already gone through pairs of glasses, three of which are at the bottom of the harbor.

Finally, *I* found a pair that was on special for $75 for everything. They looked fine on M. Done.

I think we're going to find a new optometrist.

Friday, December 12, 2008

They Are All at My House

I've been amused at the reports of an acorn shortage in the news this year. The experts obviously haven't been to our town.

We are overrun. I'm going to be spending days picking oak seedlings out of the lawn in the spring. The kids kick them and see how many they can crush underfoot as they walk to the bus. They crunch under the wheels of the car.

The squirrels are happy.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Niche Markets

At the Lego store the other day, we picked up a copy of a magazine for Lego "enthusiasts" (that would be us). It's called "BrickJournal." Santa will be bringing a subscription for the boys.

It's fun to look through. There's an ad in there for a site called Fine Clonier. "For all your minifig decal customization needs."

Think about that. Customization of little stickers you can put on Lego mini figures. Seriously.

(And I think we might actually order the Big Papi set!)

A niche market if I heard of one!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Somewhat Expected, I Guess

Today I saw the former Christian Ed director from the church - the one who was pushed out in the spring. She passed along some interesting news.

Another family has left as a direct result of the actions of the new rector. This family leaving is a real blow, I think. The wife grew up in town and in the church. She was baptized in the church, they were married in the church, and all four of their kids were baptized in the church. The youngest just a couple of weeks ago. They made their decision to leave the day after the youngest's baptism.

The family has been very active in the church. He as a choir member and active in outreach. She as a Sunday school teacher, former vestry member - and member of the search committee that chose the new rector. Until very recently she was very active in her support for the new rector during his transition.

Here's the situation...

The family, the Ss, were very close personally to the interim rector. But they also were committed to their support of the new ministry and have been very careful and clear about that. They have been nothing but positive toward the new guy; they have kept their personal relationship with the interim very separate. When it came time for their youngest (born in July) to be baptized, they dutifully scheduled it with the church. But because of their personal connection to the interim, they asked him to come to a family gathering the night before and offer a blessing for the baby. Not a baptism, just a blessing. In no way usurping the role of the new rector.

The new rector heard about this. He was not pleased. As the former Christian Ed put it, "The water in the baptismal font might have well have been ice for the way he was behaving toward the S family."

This guy is such an self-absorbed, arrogant man that he could not see through his own shit to offer that baby the love and warmth he deserved on the day of his one and only baptism.

Apparently, there were little things going on in the background, too, but the S family worked hard to put on a good face. The baptism was the final straw. While one could argue that the interim should have bowed out, no wonder they wanted some warmth and love from the interim!

I've been to church, I think, three or four times this fall. The kids are still in choir and like it, but we only go when they are singing. S has actually liked it more - but that is because her best bud is there in Sunday school with her. The last time I was there....um...mid-November, I think, the rector said something in his (rambling, unconnected) sermon about he and most of the rectors in the diocese think attendance is on the upswing and that pledge drives are going well. Several of us in the back pews rolled our eyes at this as we counted the empty pews up front. And I happen to know they aren't meeting pledge targets.

So, as ever, news but no progress in any positive direction. It's still very sad for me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Reunion

On Friday night we were scheduled to go to my husband's 25th high school reunion. We've been to his reunions before and they have been mostly fun though the last one - the 20th - was just after C was sick and my dad died; we were so emotionally spent, and I barely remember it. I wonder what impression we made then.

My husband has stayed in touch with several people from high school. I attribute this to his having gone to a small school in a small town. There were under 100 kids in his graduating class; there were almost 600 in mine. As such, I know many of the characters. But even if we are almost all somewhat known quantities, I wanted to look nice (read: rockin'!) in the presence of the ex-girlfriends and several classmates who were already on to their 2nd/trophy wives.

On Wednesday night, we received an email that the formal reunion event had been canceled. Response had been tepid. Instead, people who could were going to meet up at a local restaurant. As we already had the kids covered, and people we wanted to see appeared to be responding in the affirmative to the restaurant idea, we decided to go to.

It was so lame. Capital L. Lame. And demonstrates why I'll never go to my high school reunions.

We get to the restaurant and spy one woman in the bar area. She leads us back to a small room where "everyone" is. Everyone being eight others. 8. Eight.

I was the only spouse. There was only one other guy. Three of the eight hadn't graduated with the class - one had been with them through 10th grade before going to boarding school, and the other two had left after 8th grade to go to a Catholic school next town over.

So that left five women. And they all live within 20 minutes of the restaurant. They all see each other fairly regularly. Their kids are in recreation leagues together and they go to the same churches. Their parents and siblings are friends.

One of the five was the ex-girlfriend of one of my husband's closer high school friends (who was supposed to show but didn't). I've heard enough about her over the years that it was kind of hard not to call her the less than complimentary nickname by which her former paramour continues to refer to her. Don't ask.

I was kind of shocked with how these women were behaving. Talking about going out to other bars later, and so on. Not my scene. It reeked of mid-life crises.

Over the course of the evening, people we expected to show up didn't. Seems one is still holding a 20 year grudge against one of the five women who was there. Dumb. Just before we left, another guy showed up, clearly a little worse for the years. He's the kind of guy who looks like he was never young. And he definitely looks years older than my husband. None of the ex-girlfriends showed.

Oh, there were two other guys in the restaurant, I learned later, but they decided to stay at the bar. Classy.

I kept thinking back to that Dixie Chicks song, "Long Way Around."

This isn't to say the evening was terrible waste. It was nice to see this one woman. She and my husband were good pals in high school, and I think hubby would like to get back in closer touch. I'll try to make that happen this summer. She's a friend on Facebook now.

And one very sweet thing did happen. The woman who I struggled to call by the correct name had dug out her old photo album and come across a photo of my husband receiving his high school diploma from his mother, who was on the town school committee at the time. She gave it to us to keep. It was very nice of her.

We were on the road early home early, and settled with the kids before it was too late. That was a good thing as the next day hubby was working while I looked after our kids plus a friend's two kids for 10 hours while their parents went to an event. But that's another story...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Duh!

It's official: US in recession

Um, duh.

Oh, sorry. That was rude.

I meant DUH!

And stock market? This is hardly breaking news. What was the point of the dive? We've known for weeks that it's an all-bad-news-all-the-time cycle. It's going to be a long climb back to something resembling a baseline. All these freakish ups and downs are just going to give people heart attacks. So chill out already!

Sheesh.

Well, Obviously!

Yesterday morning I hoped in vain to get some extra rest. I just haven't been sleeping well.

My husband was off to work early. M was up shortly thereafter and went down stairs for computer time. S was next up and wanted my attention. I encouraged her to go downstairs to find her brother. C was solidly, soundly conked out.

As I drifted off, S came back upstairs and asked for her breakfast. Ever the slacker mom, I told her to go downstairs and ask her brother for help. She tromped down the stairs.

I tried drifting off again, but S was back in my face, telling me that M had refused. I told her to tell him to come here.

A few minutes later, M was upstairs and I was asking him to please help S get some breakfast, that I really needed some extra rest and didn't want to be grumpy during the day because of lack of it. M, however, started using a whole lot of attitude, at which point my annoyance and blood pressure was raised a touch he lost the privilege of going back on the computer. He sulked downstairs - but I did hear yogurt and Rice Krispies in the works for S.

I tried again to doze off, to no vail. So much for extra sleep.

Later in the morning M reported to me an exchange they had during breakfast.

M: S, why did you tell on me?

S: Because you're a boy.

And there you have it. A reason as plain as day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Toxic Update

My toxic sister's birthday is on Friday. Given her response to my lateness of card and gift for her son, I'm not going to be late for her birthday. In fact, her gift already has arrived according to UPS tracking.

I'm not actually speaking to my sister, though. It's not that I'm intentionally not speaking to her (though would you really blame me?), I just haven't had any urge to call her. None at all. And she hasn't called me. It's working out fairly well, actually, from my point-of-view.

I emailed her a few weeks ago and asked what she wanted for her birthday. She responded that she wanted a MiniCooper S in black or an iPhone.

As if.

But then I thought, hey, she didn't say "working iPhone" or "full-size street legal MiniCooper." (Odd to see "full-size" and "MiniCooper" in the same phrase, isn't it?) So I went to my trusty Google search field and typed in "iPhone dummy" and "MiniCooper model" and came up with several hits.

The iPhone dummy is a little pricey for what it is, and it would be sent from Europe. No go there. I did find a place to print out and fold/tape a dummy model. I sent that link to my brother; he might have fun with it when he sees her on Thursday.

So my sister is getting this for her birthday.

She's gonna be pissed.

(evil cackle)

Okay For Now

With an odd mix of relief, sadness and lingering vulnerability, I learned today that my job is okay for now. My coworker is leaving. I will keep my current hours, keep at my projects, and try to pick up some of what my coworker was doing.

On the drive home (in the rain - four+ hours total in the car today!) I realized I am tired. I am wiped out.

Time for throwing some quick food in the oven for the kids and installing myself on the couch with a glass of wine and the food channel.

I Believe the Term is "Karmic Payback"

Ann Coulter's Jaw Wired Shut

Monday, November 24, 2008

Well, That Was a Bummer

On Saturday night, we went out to dinner as a family. It was only the second or third time we've eaten out since we confirmed that C is now allergic to shrimp and other crustaceans. The first times went okay - one was as a Mongolian barbecue kind of place that was very accommodating. The one other time I didn't think too deeply about it - but I've since learned more about the risks.

We went to a burger place the next town over. C was craving French Fries (one of the only two ways he will consume potatoes - the other is potato chips). In the car on the way over we practiced what he needed to ask about preparation and all that - I'm trying to empower him as much as possible in this learning process. We made sure we had the EpiPen.

I wasn't expecting to see fried shrimp on the menu. It kind of didn't occur to me. Then we asked the dreaded question: Is the shrimp fried in the same oil as the French Fries and onion rings?

Yup, it was.

Big, big bummer.

No French fries with his burger. No onion rings as an appetizer for the family. Using shared oil for frying both is a cross-contamination risk.

C was a sport and ordered coleslaw as his side.

We asked if they could be sure to prepare his food separately from any shrimp, and the server seemed hesitant. I asked if the server could go check. He did, and said that could be accommodated. But even in his checking and response to us it somehow didn't seem like he got it. Like the restaurant itself didn't get it, either?

In addition to all that, we were seated at a table that was so wobbly that drinks spilled every time the table moved and it was in the direct path of the front door draft, so we had our coats on the whole time. We ended up having them wrap our dinners and leaving.

I don't think we're going back there. And I think we're going to have to do some research on friendly, accommodating restaurants for people with food allergies. I just had no idea it would be like this. It's going to be an adjustment for all of us, not just C.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Faster Than a Weed, Actually

About a year ago, C needed new jeans. Since he won't go shopping with me anymore (I'm too much of an embarrassment to him), I checked the old size (10) and bought one size up (12).

At first, he complained they were too long. But he wore them anyway and soon enough they were just right on him.

At the beginning of this school year, he tried on those jeans, and they were much too short. I bought him some size 14 jeans. He tried them on and they were fine. I thought we were mostly set for the year.

A few days ago, C bent down to reach something and I realized that his jeans were pretty much around his butt, showing off a few inches of boxers. I asked him to pull them up. He complained that he couldn't, because when he did the pant legs were too short. He demonstrated.

Oh. My. God.

Suffice it so say that I just went out and bought my 12 1/2 year old son size 16 boys jeans.

The Job Things

Bottom line is that I have no resolution yet. I don't know what is happening.

My coworker is trying for going down to two days while looking for something else. Thankfully her husband can pick up benefits for them. She was told she needed to decide what to do this last week, but I was not told that same time frame. The inconsistency makes me feel awkward in our small office.

Wednesday I was a nervous wreck. I updated my resume, reestablished some other contacts, sent an email to an old friend in California who is a venture capitalist (interesting insights there). I also made a plan for Thursday.

Before this week, I had already scheduled a meeting with our CEO to rollout a current project to him. As he doesn't come from a technology background, I figured this was a great opportunity to show him what a technical writer does, and how we add value to the company. I also had three other rollout meetings scheduled for Thursday, so lots of face time with people. Visibility and perception are important in times like these.

Anyway, I pitched my heart out. I showed him the project I've been working on, what my coworker has been doing, our list of identified future projects, ways we act a resource to the whole company, and on and on. I think I opened his eyes somewhat. I don't know how it will translate.

Meanwhile, my boss was too busy with something else to confirm any changes with either of us. This may be a strategic move of his to keep the status quo a bit longer. With no communication about a change or paperwork passed, it can't be official, and we keep writing.

I prefer to think the best about my boss' motives here, though I feel anxious about the outcome. Perhaps we'll know more in a few days.

Ugh.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Headbanging, Modular Plastic Brick Style

System of a Lego

(updated to actually embed the clips - was in a rush when I first added this post last night.)

Pay extra attention to the facial expressions.









You're welcome.

An argument for cooler heads

The economy sucks. It does. No two ways about it.

However, I think there's something to say about the role of the media in fanning the flames. I think the media is helping to make the already tough situation worse. Cooler heads need to prevail.

It's obvious that things could not go on as they were. It wasn't unsustainable. Something had to happen. Prepared or not, that time of "something happening" is here. (And markets, how is a demand for true understanding about how an industry will spend bailout money a bad thing worthy of diving market values?!)

But here's the thing.... are we making things worse?

Cutting back in tough times is absolutely appropriate. But cutting things out completely perpetuates the negative. If you used to grab a muffin from a local bakery most mornings but since the stock market started tanking you aren't doing that at all - even if your day to day economic picture hasn't changed - you are affecting that bakery owner, aren't you? How about, if you budget allows, still grabbing that muffin once or twice a week?

Maybe you used to go out to dinner fairly regularly. Could you still go out, but less often? What about the local businesses? Can you help support them, just a little? Because if some of that kind of discretionary spending doesn't happen, more businesses will shutter and more people will be unemployed and the situation will continue to spiral down.

I'm not saying wine and dine like it's 2006. I'm not. I'm saying be careful and considerate about what is happening, keep an eye for planning for a long downturn, but don't stop participating in the economy completely. Think strategically, and think locally.

Does this make any sense to anyone but me?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chickens with No Heads

The continuing panic in the economy his hitting here. My boss called me in yesterday to say that he needed to cut a writing head - and there are only two of us. Has to make his decision within a couple weeks. Looking at flexibility where I can - reduce hours or whatever. It would hurt, to be sure, but I'd still be employed.

Major stress here.

No wonder the CEO wouldn't look me in the eye in the office yesterday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

When I Least Expect It

Late last month I touched on the continuing fallout from C's illness. Pieces and issues around that time continue to surprise me.

On Friday, C brought home this year's school picture. It's a fine picture. Not fabulous, not awful, just fine. I went to put it in the frame in the living room that holds all his school pictures-I've just been putting each year's picture in front of the previous year's picture so they all stay together.

This time, though, one more photo wouldn't fit. So I took all but the newest one out and went to file them away. As I walked into the study, I flipped through them and stopped in my tracks.

You know how kids loose their chubbiness in their cheeks over time, and it's usually only in retrospect that you can see that chunkiness fade over time? C lost all of it all at once, when he was sick. I knew that on some level, but seeing it represented visually was something that, somehow, I had avoided seeing.

C's first grade photo - six months before he got sick - is great. He's a chubby cheeked six year old with a big smile. C's second grade photo- six months after he was sick- is also good...but there is absolutely no fat in that kid's cheeks or face. Gone. Looking at subsequent years, his face retains that no-fat look.

I went to look at M's pictures, and in those you can sort of see the slow thinning out of the face. Some of it is still to come. It's very different.

After putting the photos away, I sat down for a few moments. I was on the edge of a panic attack again. I've mostly learned how to manage when I feel the anxiety increasing. I'm so thankful for the health of my family, but the fear of what could happen is still very real to me.

I thought I was doing so well processing all this. Guess there's a bit more to go.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not Dead Yet

A couple of weeks ago, when my husband arrived home from work, he made his usual rounds through the house setting things down and saying hello to the kids. He paused for a few moments at the fish tank.

Then he walked into the kitchen where I was making dinner and said, softly, "You know the black fish is D-E-A-D, right? It's floating upside down."

Ah, yes, the black fish, acquired last Christmas. Floating upside down. Being still. Normally this would indicate fish death, and I had thought the same thing earlier in the day, but really, no, it's alive.

If you watch closely, the fish does move about. If you tap the glass a little, activity increases. It's alive.

This fish is a greedy little bugger, and its now mostly upside down life is a result of this greed. When we sprinkle the fish flakes into the tank, this fish is very aggressive in eating, nudging the (two) other fish out of the way, gulping air. Gulping all that air has resulted in a little too much buoyancy - too much air in its air bladder. Making it difficult to do anything but float upside down and sideways, mimicking the classic dead fish pose.

Who knew?

Our off little creature has caused us to crack jokes about acquiring a whole group of animals with death imitating skills. Fainting goats, for example. It has freaked out guests, and we've played with that a little. Fake grief and all. "What do you mean? Oh nooo!" and "He was so special to us!"

We also sing that Python song.

Yeah, we're weird. And we have a fish to match.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Suspicious Activity"

So, we made the police log.

--------------------------------

SUNDAY, NOV. 2

8:03 a.m. T----- Street, suspicious activity, caller reports three political signs removed from her property.

--------------------------------

Looking at the rest of the log, I think it would more accurately be described as "malicious" activity. I didn't "suspect" the signs were stolen; obviously they were. Though I do "suspect" they were stolen with "malicious" intent. It also could have been categorized under "missing property," because it was. Those wacky police officers.

Whatever. Just kinda fun to see us there. Especially knowing our response.

The Let Down. And Tidbits

It's been an interesting week. I think many of the people I know are going through election let down. There was such a ramping up of the anxiety in the days and weeks before the election. And it was a lovely (less than) 24 hours of pure joy.

But we all know there is much hard work ahead. It's daunting.

That said, it's rather a relief to let go of some of the election countdown stress. No more checking FiveThirtyEight and HuffingtonPost and other liberal leaning news sites every 30 minutes seconds. No more anxiously waiting for 8PM and Keith Olberman and for 9PM and Rachel Maddow (only regular waiting). No more slightly panicked scans of Canadian real estate sites.

Time to consider whether to go to the inauguration. I've reserved a couple couches at a friend's house, but the tickets available through my congressman are all spoken for. Hmm. Given the inauguration is the day after MLK Day, I am sure there will be many amazing events in the days before the actual swearing in. So we would be going down (along will millions of others, I'm sure) to just experience the atmosphere. Hmmm. And more hmmmm.

It was so different when I went to Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1992 - but that was before, long before, 9/11. It just so happened that it was a few days before a college friend was getting married in central Virginia that I was going to anyway. My friend with the couches had a relative (husband - now ex - of her husband's cousin) who worked in an office overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. After a quick stop at my friend's doctor's office, where she had a rod removed from her foot post surgery (I kid you not), we were among the throngs of people on the mall while the 42nd president was sworn in. No ticket needed. Maya Angelou read a poem (....Good morning!"). We trudged (my friend limped) to try to get into the relative's building before the Secret Service sealed and secured the area - we'd had to get security clearances to be in the building weeks earlier - and watched the parade from the window. Again, no ticket needed.

Hmm...to go...or not to go....hmmmm.

In other bits...

There was a test of the emergency warning system in our town yesterday afternoon. There's a nuclear power plant not too far away, so they do this regularly. The town also announces well in advance so no one freaks out and thinks it's for real. C still has issues with alarms of any kind. Yesterday was no exception. Except now he has a little sister to try to help him hide it. It's S that he's trying to help, he says. S who is scared. I let him know that anxiety as such was perfectly understandable, but he assured me that, absolutely, it was not him who had the anxiety. Not at all, he said. Okay, I said. I let it go. I didn't try to push. When the alarm actually did go, it was barely audible. S laid on the couch, watching PBS with hardly a notice. C was up in his room, in the dark, pacing. Three minutes later it was over, and everything was fine.

My sweet, brave boy.

There was more thing I wanted to say. Lost it. Gone. Oh well.

Oh, there is this, (though it's not what was lost):

Facebook=Glorious Time Suck

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Excuse Me While I Wallow for a Few Minutes

This crap with my sister keeps welling up. My oldest nephew's birthday was yesterday, and while he was speaking to C said, "Why doesn't your mom let you come out to see us?"

Which was totally unfair because my nephew and I have discussed my concerns about visits long before a visit request was made. And he agreed with them, even.

So now we have tension within the house because C, at 12, doesn't truly understand. He just thinks I am being mean.

What he doesn't understand is that I really wish that I had that kind of family. I wish I had an immediate family that I could turn to for support. I wish I could send him out there for a visit with confidence, knowing that he'd be safe and have a lot of fun.

I don't have that kind of family. They have never been that. I'm talking my mom, my sister and my brother. My dad was great - until his 2nd wife started complicating things, and then he got sick.

I could go into story after story of non-support while I was in college, when I was getting married, during stints of unemployment, health issues, and on and on. All the while, when something was going on with them (particularly my sister), I was expected to drop everything and "be there" - taking every phone call and sometimes flying out.

I have, very intentionally, made my own life. Far away. Because if was trying to do any of this close to them, I would get sucked into the day-to-day drama and shit. Heck, my husband would like nothing more that to move to southern California - but we never will as long as it is within easy visiting distance of my family. When he starts daydreaming all I have to say is, "My sister will visit." And that ends that.

I know making this break was the right thing for me, for my sanity. I am trying to build a family life for my kids far different from what I experienced. In the process, I have tried to accept my family for what they are.

But you know what? As much as I have worked for accepting them for what they are, and as much as I am okay with it most of the time, sometimes it still hurts. It hurts that they don't offer any support. It hurts that they are so manipulative and untrustworthy. It hurts that they are so nasty.

It just hurts.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Tale of Two Palins

In the midst of the campaigning, I went (online) searching for the the target of the Tina Fey joke, "I can see Russia from my house."

The idea of Alaskans seeing Russia from their house (or shack on stilts, as the case may be) comes from Little Diomede Island in the middle of the Bering Strait. Big Diomede Island belongs to Russia. Many of the inhabitants of both are related. They are separated by a couple of miles of fast moving current and the International Dateline.

Sarah Palin has never been to Little Diomede Island.

Michael Palin has.

You know, Michael Palin of Monty Python fame.

His travels are fascinating, really.

Somebody could take a cue. Because Africa is a continent, not a country in and of itself.

UPDATE: A kind reader has corrected me (in comments) on some points regarding Little Diomede Island. I would do well to remember that facts sometimes get diluted in a partisan way during election season. (grin)

Question of the Day

If you want to become a billing services phone representative for the cable company or cell phone company, is being an idiot a prerequisite?

Less Than 24 Hours

Sadly, it took less than 24 hours for my post-election glow bubble to burst.

Yesterday evening, C told me about racist jokes that were traveling around his school.

Sigh.

We have come so far in this country, yet we still have so, so far to go.

I having been thinking about what to do, if anything, in light of this. I think I have decided to call the assistant principal and suggest that now might be an excellent time to have some workshops and activities in the school.

We can do better.

Yes we can.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Kids Respond

C was up with us until the race was called. He was excited in a quiet sort of way. I'm sure he feels vindicated after the comments he received at school.

M, when I told him this morning, was over the moon. Truly. He made himself a sandwich of cream cheese, strawberry jam and blueberry preserves for lunch. Red, white and blue...get it? We also had a brief discussion about gracious winning and a reminder about respect for others' beliefs.

S just grinned when I told her. It occurred to me that she will not remember the Bush years. Her first political memories will be of Obama and a new era of hope (hopefully). Lucky S!

My very conservative small town went for Obama by 350 votes. Wow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

If only to hide the tears of joy.

Thank you, America.

Watching Local Races

Amid the exciting national races and statewide questions, I am also watching a state representative race not in my district.

An old college friend is running for state representative. She'd be excellent. The big paper around here endorsed her and things hopefully are in her favor.

Send some happy election vibes to CD, please. :-D

The Time is Now

I voted early this morning. The polls were a hopping place for 6:15AM.

Last summer during the Fourth of July parade, our spot was across the street from a group of supporters for our state senator. They were an unsavory bunch - making borderline comments to any high school girl that might pass, and when the local environmental group went by shouted out, "Piping plovers taste like chicken!" Lovely. Anyway, the state senator was on the ballot running unopposed. I wrote in Mickey Mouse.

Our sign is still standing. I'll take it down late tonight. In spite of C being into it when we made it, he said yesterday that he was embarrassed by it. Apparently he was razzed when he got on the bus Monday morning. Oh dear.

I'm very nervous today. Feeling superstitious, too.

Since the schools are closed, M is with me at work today.

How is everyone else doing?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What Pissing Off the Local Republican Hooligans Looks Like

On to Another Tactic

This morning, all three of our yard signs are gone. Two Obama, one "No on 1".

On Friday I traded one of our remaining yard signs for a bumper sticker that reads: Obama/Biden '08: Two Minds are Better Than None." I still have two to put out, but I think we need to do more.

I think we'll head over to the discount store later today and get a couple of cheap sheets and some black fabric paint. I'm thinking....BIG!

I was at the Obama office yesterday doing some data entry. We're all so nervous. We were only joking when we were saying what the call centers need is someone to lead 15 minutes of yoga every couple of hours to help everyone deal with the stress.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

One Way to Deal With The Situation

By 8PM last night, our Obama signs had been knocked over - but were still there. My husband came up with an amusing solution.

After returning from Trick-or-Treating with M (garden gnome) and S ( batman), he went to the shed, retrieved a shovel, walked over to the dog's area, (I think you know what is coming next) and proceeded to transfer the freshest doggie doodoo to the area around the signs.

Maybe we can't prevent people from stealing our signs, but we can increase the likelihood that they will smell pretty awful doing so.

:-D

Friday, October 31, 2008

"Profound Ignorance"

Just read it for yourself.

Palin claims her First Amendment rights are threatened by criticism.

I looked at Canadian real estate listings today. I did.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Toxic People

I've known most of my adult life that my sister is a toxic person. Mostly I deal with it.

A few weeks ago, I asked what her youngest son wanted for his birthday. She said what he really wants is for my C to come out for a visit next summer.

That is SO not going to happen. Bottom line is that I do not trust my sister to take care of my son appropriately. Period. It's why, when C was sick, my brother was charged with the job to NOT let my sister get on a plane to come "help." (Later, after C came home, she stopped speaking to me for several weeks because I had not called her personally every single day to give her an update. Apparently I "didn't understand" how worried SHE was. I kid you not.)

Anyway, I came up with something of an excuse. Off school schedules and the kids' preferred summer activities probably would preclude such a visit.

I asked if there was anything else. She said she'd think of something.

On this nephew's birthday, I called during the day but he wasn't home yet. I wanted to call later in the day, but the day got away from me. Bad, I know. I was kicking myself. The next day, when my sister called me, I spoke with this nephew and asked what he wanted. Again, he said a visit by C.

I was not about to promise something I could not deliver. I danced around it best I could.

In the meantime, I got delayed sending a card or anything. I admit another bad on my part. Finally at the beginning of this week, I sent a card and a Borders gift card. Late, I know, but I did it. Remember this is the woman who asked me if I was sure my own son's birthday was on a different day - that is to say, she does not have a perfect track record in this department. I cannot count the number of times she's been late with gifts.

In today's mail, I opened a letter from her that was seething with nastiness about how awful it was of me not to give her son what he wants for his birthday, not to call him on his birthday, and not even send a card.

What. The. Fuck.

Of course, this explains why she hasn't returned my phone calls over the last week.

This woman is a piece of work.

At some point I should go into detail about her visit in July. It was...interesting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Day...

...another attempted theft of the yard signs.

Sheesh.

Way back in 1992 we were in upstate New York with some friends a week of so before Halloween. We picked some pumpkins from my friend's mom's farm (there were growing on the manure pile from the seeds of the previous year's Jack O'lanterns that had been tossed there) and carved what we considered at the time to be the scariest possible faces: Ross Perot and George HW Bush.

This year, C thinks the scariest possible pumpkin faces would be Sarah Palin and John McCain. It would be pretty funny, and patterns are available online, but we've decided not to let him do it. We are not going to bow to the negativity in any way. We are not going to go to the level of the people who steal yard signs and rant about"forged" birth certificates. We aren't going to get petty.

(I'll get a little petty here, but I'm careful not to talk to the kids in that way.)

I bet this set of signs will be gone by tomorrow morning. We'll put out three more. And so on, and so on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Both Ways

If a certain event is not big enough for you to postpone a the already ambitiously timed release of major project (the dates for which are fully under your control - and let me be clear that I think the event in question IS big enough for you to delay), then it's not an acceptable excuse for you NOT to do what you promised for me - three weeks ago! - as I work in support of that project and its release.

Just sayin'.

Not a Political Post

Surprise! No politics today. Maybe I'm burning out?

First, to follow up: that boy who was injured on Friday? He's going to be okay. Phew, phew, and phew.

Between that and M's annual cardiologist visit tomorrow, I'm a tad anxious around kid health issues.

We haven't seen M's regular cardiologist since last year's visit in which he declared the status quo, much to our relief. We also haven't seen him since he handed my husband a prescription for an ace inhibitor for M in the hallway with little explanation a few weeks later and the subsequent 2nd opinion visit with another cardiologist (who declared the status quo, so no meds for M thus far).

Had a very interesting conversation with my mom on Sunday. We're in different worlds, really.

So mid-afternoon, my niece calls M to wish him a Happy Birthday. I hear snippets of conversation over the course of several minutes. Then M comes in and hands the phone to me. I ask if he has talked to both his cousins and his aunt and uncle. He says yes, and that it's actually Grandma on the phone. Oh, okay. My mom is visiting my brother and his family for the afternoon. Cool.

So I say hello and my mother proceeds to talk at me for ten minutes or so, not letting me get much in other than, "Yeah," and, "Uh huh." This is par for the course with her.

Then she says, "It was so nice of M to call me."

Me, after pausing a moment: "M didn't call you. A called M for his birthday."

Mom: "Oh, yes, his birthday is around this time, isn't it. I just assumed he tried to call me at home and when I wasn't there, he was smart to guess that I was here."

All I could say was, "Oh."

We hung up the phone shortly thereafter. I sat there for a few moments wondering what the heck had just happened. My mother and sister are both so good at making absolutely everything about them. Wow.

Oh, and at the moment, this issue with the music company just might work out in my favor. We'll see.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Letter

This morning I picked up five more Obama signs. I put out two.

Within those two I placed a letter in an envelope. I stapled the envelope to the sign so that just a 1/2 inch is exposed and on that exposed 1/2 inch it reads, "Dear Thief."

The letter reads:

Dear Thief,

Thank you for stealing our yard sign.

In addition to attempting to subvert the political process, showing a complete lack of respect to your neighbor, and being a poor role model to following generations of Americans (threats to the democratic process, all), your act of petty thievery will have the following benefits to the Obama campaign:

1. The number of signs in our yard will multiply. If you steal one, we’ll put up two more. If you steal two, we'll put up three more. And so on. Since there is a charge for every sign, this will result in more money flowing into the Obama campaign.

2. We will make additional donations to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee as direct result of the thefts. So, if Barack Obama addresses the nation on the night of November 4 as the President-Elect and thanks all who helped him get elected, he'll be talking to you, too. You will have helped Barack Obama get elected. Likewise other Democratic candidates for elected office.

Of course, we'll also be reporting the theft to the police, so don't forget to look for yourself in the paper in a couple of weeks.

Happy thievery, and thanks again,

Committed Obama Supporters


We'll see how long these two last.


Gone

Our Obama sign.

Assholes.

On my way to get two more.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Panic

I haven't written much lately about C's health in relation to his illness, or fallout from his illness. I didn't write about it much in the spring. The first spring I blogged was very helpful for me to process the many varying emotions around the experience. I still think about that time in our lives, though. I think about it every day. And I never quite know when something will trigger a reaction related to that time.

This afternoon when C arrived home from school, I was on the rowing machine. He told me about something that happened in the final minutes of the school day. Apparently an 8th grade boy was walking from the office to his class, jumped to try to touch the ceiling and lost his footing on the way back down, hitting his head on the floor (C described it much more graphically). The boy was placed on a Med-Flight into a trauma center in the city. The school sent out an automated phone message shortly thereafter, and there is no update on the boy's condition yet.

C doesn't know who the boy is, but is concerned. However, hearing this threw me into a panic attack while I was exercising. Suddenly my vision was tunneling and I was having a hard time breathing. Knowing that there was a local parent going through something so awful and scary at this very moment is what triggered it. I can manage the general but less specific knowledge that someone somewhere is going through such a thing, though it makes me uncomfortable and squirmy to think about it. Knowing it so concretely still rocks me right back to the seconds/minutes/hours in that PICU room when we didn't know whether C would live or die.

So, if you would, some prayers and good energy for all the kids and parents in this world going though a medical crisis. They could use them.

I'll let you know if I hear anything.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Kindred Spirit

This morning I noted a piece on Huffington Post about a Goldwater grandchild voting for Obama.

The name Goldwater still carries weight for many conservatives, both in and out of Arizona - and even though most current Arizona residents haven't been there long enough to remember or understand Barry's impact, much less remember Goldwater's department store where I worked during high school.

My friend eba was kind enough to send me a link to a piece about another Goldwater going Obama.

The last quote made my day:

“Coming from a political family, I had insight into a lot of things,” Goldwater Ross said. Of McCain, she said, “I don’t have respect for him.”

A kindred spirit, on so many levels.

Insanity

This afternoon, I picked up the mail as we headed out to M's annual physical appointment. In it was the town's weekly paper.

In the waiting room I flipped through the newspaper. On the letters to the editor page, there was a letter from a town resident about the presidential election.

The letter was so astoundingly...how to say this.... stupid! So full of innuendo and misinformation. Seriously, watching Fox news would be a step in the direction of real knowledge for this guy. Among other things, it claimed Obama hates the US and all it stands for, has no regard for the Constitution, is a racist anti-Semite Marxist, and on and on.

It also went on to question whether Obama was born in the US, claims his birth certificate is a forgery, other ludicrousness (if Obama were elected it would throw the country into a constitutional crisis, for example). Oh, please. That's all been settled (factcheck.org has it all), aside from the plain lunacy of it. And it's McCain we should question on that front; McCain was born in Panama, and was only declared a "natural born citizen of the United States of America" by a special resolution passed by Congress.

For a pro-McCain letter, it didn't even say a word about a "pro" characteristic or issue of McCain's. Only anti-Obama vitriol.

I thought for a long time about a response letter - what it would say, and whether I even should. My husband came home, and he had the best response. We may actually do it. It would read:

Dear Editor,

Thank you for publishing Mr. O__________ brilliant letter last week. What excellent satire it was! We laughed so hard, our sides hurt.

Thanks again for making our day.

Sincerely,
Us

But also today, after only four days, someone tried to steal our Obama/Biden sign from the yard. During daylight hours. (It might have been the letter writer as apparently he lives in the immediate vicinity.)

My husband was able to secure it a bit more. We'll see. I'm just getting so very tired of the nastiness in this town. I've mentioned before that it's a very conservative town. Apparently one of the values they are passing on to the kids is that it's okay to harass and attempt to physically intimidate kids who support the other guy. Meanwhile, I tell my kids to focus only on the positives about Obama, don't go to that nasty level. C is handling himself very well - but I just wish it weren't like this.

Anyway, if the sign does get vandalized again, we will replace it and add one, but inside the new ones we will write a note. I'd love for it to read something like this:

Dear Scared White Guy with a Small P***s,

Thank you for your act of petty thievery. Your disrespect of the political process and those around you will have the following results:

1. The Obama signs on our yard will multiply. If you take one, we'll put up two more. If you take two, we will put up three more, and so on.
2. We will make an additional donation to the Obama campaign. Yes, that's right. You will be directly responsible for the Obama campaign receiving more money. And if, on the night of Nov. 4, Obama addresses the nation as President-Elect, he'll thank everyone who helped get him elected by making a donation. You will be included in that group; he'll be thanking you.
3. We will call the police and make a report, of course. Don't forget to look for yourself in the police log in the paper!

Happy Thievery.

Or maybe not.

And on that note, good night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Healthcare for Fifteen

Yes, she needed new clothes. But did she need $150,000 of new clothes? And does she need that much new clothing? Her clothing allowance works out to over $2500 per day. PER DAY! And that's only so far.

The economy is tanking. Retired people are having to back to work, millions of people are without health insurance, millions are sliding into poverty, unemployment is going up and Sarah Palin is getting new designer clothing. The campaign says they intend for the clothes to go to a charitable cause after the election, but are they really going to Goodwill or the homeless shelter in Anchorage? Really? Let's put some GPS chips in the heels of those boots, shall we?

If she's really like us, she (or her staff) would have gone to Marshall's and TJMaxx and the sale racks at Macy's to scrounge out appropriate clothing. Or Target or Kohls or WalMart. Wouldn't it have been better to look good on a seriously tight budget, like the rest of us? What about buying carefully so that pieces can be rearranged and resused?That might have connected with real hockey moms.

Yeah, I'd love of $2500 Valentino jacket. Or to have my daughter hold my Louis Vuitton bag for me. Or to have $75000 to spend at Neiman Marcus. It would be great. I love Project Runway, but for me, as it is for most people, that level of expenditure it's total fantasy. Total.

But if I actually had $2500? It would go to something for the kids (braces, musical instruments) or house maintenance. A single item of clothing would be the last on the list.

Yes, you can argue that this is a trivial point, that there are bigger issues to dicuss (not that the McCain camp will, but there are). But I do think this is representative of some bigger issues. The GOP and the RNC are completely out of touch on what is going on out in the small towns they claim to love so much. The "real America," as they say.

"Real America" gets frustrated at the rising grocery bill while the items in the cart are shrinking in size and quantity and doesn't see the point of thousands of dollars for a jacket from a French fashion house (and wasn't it the Republicans and all the "pro-America" areas of this country who were so hot to rename fried sticks of potato "Freedom Fries" instead of "French Fries.")

And yes, I say this as part of the "intellectual elite" in the Northeast. I probably don't have a true idea of what it means to be in these struggling small towns - but I do have brains enough not to insult their intelligence by wearing boots that would feed their family for a couple or three months.

$150,000. Amazing. The yearly budget of some socal service organizations, I bet. Healthcare for fifteen. Teachers. And on and on.

And let's not get me started on Palin charging the state of Alaska for the whole family to fly and watch her husband in a snowmobile race.

If this political party can't make appropriate spending choices for the campaign, there is no way I can trust them for four years.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The One Thing That Bugs Me About Obama

There's an article in the New York Times today about the health of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates and what has been disclosed and what hasn't. It points out that there are a lot of gaps in the knowledge about the relative health of all the candidates - and the ability of these people to fill out their duties is an important issue. You can read the article here.

Much was said about McCain, because there is much to say about McCain - you can read about his melanomas for yourself. There's stuff to be said about Biden. We know nothing at all about Palin. And not much is known about Obama.

What we do know about Obama is that he was a smoker. When primary season first started, it really turned me off. I felt much better about him when I read that he had quit smoking.

But the Times article says this: "Mr. Obama said he quit smoking in 2007 when he began his presidential campaign. But he has “bummed” cigarettes since then, he has said."

How disappointing. I understand he's under a tremendous amount stress, but the idea, in this day and age, and knowing the risks, and as a role model to so many, that he's smoking at all, even occasionally, is so disappointing.

I'm no saint myself. I smoked in late high school and college. Not a lot, but I did. But it was when we lived down south amid tobacco farms, it all really started to gross me out. A lot. Then seeing how the big tobacco companies were behaving down there - ick.

Then there was C's illness in 2003. I am so fanatical about lung health now. The idea of a smoking president is not at all appealing. At all.

I wish Obama would quit once and for all. He may or may not. As a role model to so many - not to mention his own kids - he should. I suppose as long as he doesn't allow himself to be photographed smoking, I suppose I can reconcile it in some way. Wish I didn't have to, though.

I recognize that this is a personal thing - both Obama bumming cigarettes and my being upset by it. It is not health care policy, foreign policy, economic policy. And that IS where the focus should be right now.

See, I'm not blindly biased here. I am not denying flaws exist in my candidate of choice. But I am still going to vote for him. Between the history and relative health risks of McCain and history and health risks of Obama, I'm still pro-Obama.

Damn straight I am.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Looks on People's Faces

At this very moment, I am sitting in the parking lot at church. C and M had to be here early for choir and my husband is taking S to a birthday party. I had extra time, so I brought my laptop and am trying to catch up on a few things, mooching off the church's wireless in the process.

A family (that I barely know) pull in beside me. Now, these are tight parking spaces, but with a little finesse it's possible to get in just fine. I did. I have a larger vehicle. But even if you are exactly centered in the space, you need to take care getting out. Even if you have a compact car. You just do. And this is true for every single space in the lot.

So the woman in the passenger side opens her door hard, ramming it into my car. My whole car shakes. I look up. The woman doesn't see me - yet. She steps out of the car - her car door still pushing hard on my car.

Then she sees me.

I smile broadly.

She gets that "Oh, shit!" look on her face.

Then she smiles weakly and mouths, also weakly, "Sorry."

I nod.

I look down again and keep at my stuff.

People get such looks on their faces when you catch them doing something they know they should not be doing.

On that note, time to go into the service.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wait. Aren't Smart Elected Officials a Good Thing?

I mentioned late last month that there is in initiative in the state to have civilian flaggers take over many police construction site details (not all, though). The police are angry (and behaving inappropriately), but this is the right thing to do. Extremely budget-conscious - and we are facing big budget issues in this state, just like every other state.

Close on the heels of the governor's initiative, our local selectmen (in lieu of a mayor and staff, we have selectmen - one of whom is a selectwoman - and town meeting) bowed to pressure from the police department and added language to their contract giving the local police full control over staffing police details. Meaning, no civilian flaggers here, and the police will continue to get $40 an hour overtime pay for listening to their iPods. Mostly, anyway. Great.

This week in the local paper there was a letter to the editor decrying this turn of events. And it was someone I know. Cool, I first thought, and set in to the first paragraph. I was actually thrilled that the writer and I had something in common!

Within three sentences, the writer, CS, was ranting about "intellectual elitism" of our selectmen/woman. Aside from it having nothing to do with the issue at hand, and since the selectmen/woman are of the same political persuasion as CS (and all of whom are in contrast to this house), I wondered, since when is it bad to have smart people running our government? And what place does CS have to call anyone intellectual elitists?

Let me tell you a little about CS: He went to an Ivy League university (the one in Connecticut) and has an MBA from a well-known local university (though not the H). He runs a hedge-fund from his basement. He drives luxury cars and belongs to a local private club. He's doing pretty darn well for himself and his wife and four kids (who are extremely adorable).

In short, he has no fucking business calling anyone "intellectual elitist" in a derogatory manner. I think the term is "the pot calling the kettle black."

My sister does this, too, and it makes me nuts. By many definitions, she is an "intellectual" (though not by mine) and she's definitely elitist. She is college-educated with some graduate school, is well-read, she's affluent and well-traveled, and so on. When she tries to complain about "intellectual elitists", it's just a touch hollow. Just a touch.

It doesn't matter whether you are rich or poor or educated or not, snobbery exists at all levels of our society. The poor can be snobs about the rich just as the rich can be snobs about the poor, the more educated can be snobs about the less educated while the less educated can be snobs about the more educated (and I think we are seeing that in this election cycle). Yes, I recognize the difference between snobbery and elitism, but I happen to think CS really meant snobbery since he is part of the "elite". I know it's what my sister means.

I don't know how to get snobbery out of the equation as we move toward the general election. It would be nice. What I don't want to take out of the election is intellectualism. I want smart people to run my country. I want people who can make bigger connections than I can, people who can understand the economy, foreign policy and health care at a deeper level than I can.

It is not wrong to want the smart people running our country. I will not apologize for wanting that. Ever.

And if that makes me an "intellectual elitist?" So be it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Cure All

Mallomars.

When the going gets tough, the tough go for chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers.

From the Police Log

Friday, October 3

2:25 p.m. T------ St., suspicious motor vehicle reported in area of town hall. Officer reports it’s a paper delivery person.

10:10 p.m. A----- Ave., animal complaint. Caller reports cow in backyard. Farmer on scene and has cow in tow.

Saturday, October 4

6:34 p.m. P------- Road, noise complaint. Caller complaining of loud machine noise that is disturbing his party.

Sunday, October 5

2:12 p.m. M------- C--- Lane, animal control incident. Cat refuses to come down from tree.

Monday, October 6

8:53 p.m. L----- St., annoying calls. Caller reports receiving a phone call from an unknown party looking for an unknown party.

Trying to Be a Grown Up

Last year I mentioned an issue we had with C's French Horn (mentioned in the third bullet here).

Since that nasty experience, I've avoided the instrument company. I cringe with every check I write to them (and make sure - just as I did before all this - that the check is NEVER late).

This summer, C's teacher told me it was time to move up to a better instrument. I was confused. I was told when the whole instrument thing started that these were great instruments, would take them through, etc. Apparently that is not really the case, especially in French Horn land. Single French Horns are pricey enough; doubles are, that's right, almost double.

While I was first annoyed that this wasn't wholly communicated at the start (as I might have been one to just go for the better instrument to start rather than having to do this swap thing), my bigger concern was how to deal with the instrument company. I can ask the music department to be more upfront with incoming students at another time.

I researched double-horns online. Ouch. From a straight cost perspective, ouch. Buy a new one and keep paying on the current one? Not in the budget. (Especially since another added cost this year is that the small group instruction lessons we were promised through 8th grade have stopped and now all 7th grade and up musicians have to pay for weekly private lessons. School budget cuts.)

I knew that the instrument company claims to do trade ups, etc., on the same contract, so as much as I disliked the company, I made a phone call. I felt stuck by the rental contract. But dealing with people we don't necessarily like is part of being an adult. I'm trying to move on here, trying to be that grownup.

I left a message. No call back.

I called again. No call back.

I called three more times. No call back.

This week, C's teacher called them. She sent me an email this morning, and without telling me the entire conversation (which I suspect was nasty on their part), said I should not expect a call back. They are refusing to do further business with me. C's teacher is great and is rather floored at their response. She's had a bad experience with them before this, too.

If I return the French Horn now, it's a straight loss of $1387.50. Yup. Almost $1400. To buy the rest of it out so I don't have to deal with them anymore is $1276.50. Then I'd need to buy the new horn somewhere. I looked online about selling this one, and there appears to be a glut of French Horns available for sale (not a time people are buying, and a time when people are trying to sell lots of things in general). No matter what route I go, it's a loss.

And this company is taking advantage in a tough economic time, ignoring the needs of one of the music students it likes to claim is so important to them.

Looking back on that heated exchange last year, both sides said things they probably shouldn't have. I can see that. But I stand by my original issue of the company returning a "repaired" instrument to me with a pencil inside. I suspect the company is digging in their heels so much because they know they were wrong on some level. Whether it was the original error of the pencil in the tubing while they were resoldering a strut or accusing C of sabotaging his instrument, it doesn't matter.

I've thanked C's teacher profusely and left a message for the head of the music department about trying to do right by a student. Isn't that the bigger point here? Getting kids involved with music, and keeping them involved?

If C didn't actually enjoy playing his horn, I'd just be done with all of this. I would.

Oh, and that solder point? It's broken again.

Sigh.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NetFlix Season

C might say I am not a "true fan," but I can't watch the carnage anymore. Not tonight anyway.

If we continue to play like this, there will be but one more game this (formerly promising) season, and then it will be NetFlix season. I have 40 or so movies in my queue that need watching, and I doubt any can disappoint me - even send me into despair! - as much as these last two games have.

Sigh.

Sigh again.

Muffin Top

I have had just about enough of this middle age thing.

I am tall and not overweight. I am not underweight, either, but reside in the lower half of the preferred weight range for my height. My BMI is very good.

I eat healthy foods in appropriate proportions and enjoy the less healthy stuff in moderation.

I exercise - quite a bit actually. My exercise includes abdominal work.

And yet, I have a muffin top. One that seems to be getting worse.

I hear this is middle age hormones.

I am not amused.

I'll Take it Where I Can

Anne Lamott makes me smile.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Something I Thought I'd Never Do

I was in Girl Scouts growing up. I hated every minute of it. The girls in my troop were snotty and nasty. Though I was very good at selling cookies, I wanted out as soon as I started. My mother said no, and emphatically.

I realized shortly thereafter that it was a battle I would not win. Scouting was expected of me. Period. I would, somehow, some way, get my First Class ranking (a designation since retired from the program). My mother had been in scouts, my sister, other female relatives (and all my male relatives were expected to be Boy Scouts, and achieve Eagle). Notice I said "expected" not "encouraged." There was no way out.

So after years of those blasted troop meetings and camps and everything, I did the bare minimum to get my First Class...and immediately bolted for the door. I never looked back. I think it's kind of interesting that I dislike Girl Scouts so much since I ended up attending an all-female college and loving it.

While not as severe as my experience, my husband did not have a particularly good Boy Scout experience - although his brother did. My husband's parents, however, let him quit.

At some point through the years, my husband and I talked about scouting. Neither of us felt like it was something we wanted to promote to children of either gender. From a general comfort standpoint as well as political and moral standpoint, we weren't comfortable.

I'm not saying either organization is a bad one - they aren't. We just didn't feel comfortable buying into an organization that promotes discrimination (on the male side), or one that (in my experience) promotes narrowly defined gender roles (girls side).

When C brought home a notice about Boy Scouts six years ago and initially expressed interest, I didn't know what to do. I hemmed and hawed. I said we'd talk about it. Eventually he learned that most of his pals were not doing it, so his interest waned. Fine with us.

My husband and I talked about it again. We agreed that if it did come up again, we'd gauge our son's interest and if he really, really wanted to do it, we'd give it a try. But we wouldn't necessarily bring it up. The subject dropped completely.

M brought home the same notice a couple years ago and we ignored it. He ignored it. I thought we had dodged the Boy Scout bullet and only needed to avoid the Girl Scout stuff from now on with S.

But last spring, M decided he wanted to join Boy Scouts. At first, we thought it was a phase about wanting to spend more time with his best friend who was in a troop and it would pass. Nope. He declared again and again that he wanted to join. Finally we agreed to give it a try - in part because his best friend's mother is the den leader. She promised to take him under her wing, understanding our parental ambivalence.

Now we are in - and it's already kicking my butt. I was just putting in all the meetings into our family Google calendar and, oh my goodness, it's a lot. Not to mention I cringe whenever I have to take M into the local Catholic church for meetings (local Catholic leadership are an interesting lot).

M is so excited, though, and I am trying hard to respect that. We have not given him details about why we are ambivalent - or even that we are ambivalent. We've said since we are really busy as a family anyway, we just want to make sure he understand the commitment, and he assures us he does.

I know scouting is all about your group and the individual experience. I know people love it, and other people hate it. My brother and his son are involved with scouts, too, so M already has their (positive) interest in his experience. My sister, though she hated Girl Scouts as much as I did, loves Boy Scouts and was a leader for years. It could all be very different going forward and I need to keep an open mind.

But I still can't believe we're doing this.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Hitchcock Moment

There are literally hundreds of birds in the trees out back of the house.

They are making such a racket! The dog is freaking out.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It Sounds So Good

Getting lost amid the presidential debate this election season are ballot questions of all sorts. One question in particular on our ballot has been pretty much swept under the rug in the he said-he said drama of the Presidental debates.

Question 1 on our ballot asks whether we should repeal the income tax.

It sounds so good doesn't it? I agree! Wouldn't it be nice not to pay that tax every year?

I think that first thought is what promoters of the question are counting on. That first thought! Yes! Smaller government, yes! Circle in. Go on to the next questions, the presidential election, turn in my ballot and walk out the door.

At which point the voter stops and thinks. After it's too late. What did I just do?

How will roads and schools get funded now? What about the programs I depend on - whether I realize I depend on them or not?

We have a flat income tax rate here, comparable to Utah's, and the flat rate is even down from where it was in 2000. Yes, for some on the lower end of the income scale the tax is higher than in other states - but for people on the upper end of the income scale, it's a bargain. People call this state "Taxachusetts" but it's not, really. I paid far more in taxes as a percentage of my income when we lived in the south - the cost of living was actually higher, too.

Income tax revenue accounts for about 40% of the state's budget. Imagine your budget going down by 40% instantly. It would have a pretty devastating effect for most of us. And now that the global economy is in flux and revenues are down in other areas...gulp.

From a state perspective, think 40% less snow clearing in winter, 40% less of the bridge repairs, 40% less for already budget strapped schools, 40% less for food programs for the young and the elderly, 40% less for the justice system.

But yes, also 40% less for questionable programs. I hear that.

If the ballot question were about repealing income tax over time while providing for developing other ways to generate substantial, sustainable revenue for the state, I might be into it. But that is not what it is about.

I don't love paying taxes. I don't know anybody that does. While I think tax dollars could be spent more efficiently in some (many?) cases, I recognize that part of my role as a member of this society is to pay taxes that support our government and programs in my community. I do enjoy paved roads and police and fire services and the school my kids go to - things like that.

Unfortunately, if question one goes through - and it may if there isn't a concerted effort to help voters understand what is truly at risk - we are all going to suffer.

So here, I am, promoting typical "tax and spend" liberal values - because it's just not as simple as that. It sounds so good to repeal the income tax, but it's not. It's really not. Not right now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Remember 2004?

Remember 2004 when the Republican party was solidly behind W and the Democrats were grudgingly behind Kerry?

Have you noticed how, for the most part, that's changed? Republicans are grudgingly behind McCain (one ultra-conservative pundit famously promised NOT to vote for him) and the Democrats and fired up and (mostly) united in their support of Obama.

While I think allowance for and tolerances of differences of opinion are part of what makes the Democratic party a good place, the lack of unity (perceived or real) hurt the left in 2004. I admit I wasn't particularly fired up about Kerry - and I thought his speech at the convention in 2004, particularly the introduction, was a tactical error.

In spite of the rancorous primary races on the Democratic side, I think the Democratic party is united behind Obama, and that enthusiasm draws independent voters in this direction.

Granted, it took me a while to get here myself. By summer, I knew I would support Obama in the end, but it took until late August for my whole heart to be here.

I was a Hillary Clinton supporter, you see, and not just because she was a woman, or that she and I share a couple of experiences. She's so damn smart. She knows the issues inside and out and backwards and forwards. I knew that if she were elected she would do an amazing job. Not that I necessarily liked her in a "let's have a cup of tea on Wednesday afternoon" way, but I thought she would work her rear off for the American people, Democrat AND Republican.

But the primaries didn't turn out like I hoped (and I think sexism played a major role, just like the race issue is an unknown issue for Obama, sadly), and I accepted that I needed to throw my support behind Obama. What turned the tide for me for supporting Obama was how he handled the Palin pregnant daughter issue.

I wrote around that time about the expectations of political families, and I stand by what I wrote. And even though Obama could have made some great points about hypocrisy and reality in that situation, he didn't. He took a very high road, and I admire him for that. It turned the tide for me. Obama is the class act in this beauty pageant.

I know Obama is not perfect, and I am not about to claim he is. No single candidate is perfect. Every single one of them is flawed in some way - and some are showing more flaws every day! But I believe with my whole heart and brain that Senator Obama is the best choice for our country in the coming years.

So people, lets get out there and get our candidate elected. We need this. Our country needs this. The world needs this. Our children needs this.

That Didn't Take Long

The tshirt.

I'd consider actually ordering it, except that I prefer it read "That One '08" not "Thatone '08".

And that proceeds go to the campaign.

I may, though, work on my own and print it to iron-on transfer paper for M. He's been asking for a shirt of his own (since C has one).

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Excuse me, what?

Two words.

"That one."

Senator McCain, one of the major things you are going to have to do if you are elected President is work with people you don't like. Foreign leaders and Democrats, just to name a couple.

"That one."

But if you can't be civil to your opponent in this Presidential debate, I doubt your ability to be civil to and reach out to those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, or the opposite side of the world.

Monday, October 06, 2008

He Says Potatoe

In light of the current VP candidate on the GOP side and her verbal gymnastics, anyone else thinking about the Dan Quayle years?

Aliens Invade the Magnolia Tree

Imagine my curiosity when I looked up at the magnolia in the backyard and saw these:






I was initially concerned they were some sort of gall (like the wasp galls we had on some oaks in the spring). A Web search, however, seems to indicate they are immature magnolia fruits. Amazing what you find when you use "alien", "growth", and "magnolia" as your search terms.

Ready for a Closeup




























Sunday, October 05, 2008

An Appropriateness Issue

We've had fun watching a whole lot of post-season baseball this weekend. I was sad to see the Cubbies go (though I have mixed feelings about Lou Pinella given his years in Tampa), sad to see the Brewers go (with Gabe Kapler there, their silly mascot - and that my mom spent a large part of her childhood there), psyched to see the White Sox step up, and now am biting my nails through the game about 35 miles north of here (and so pleased at my boyfriend's performance thus far - I was rooting for a grand slam in the 2nd, but I'll take that 3 run bloop).

What I am NOT enjoying is the commercials for V*agra, C*alis, and "Z*ck and M*ri Make a P*rno" (asterisks to try to fool search engines into not showing up here).

I mean, really. Are such ads appropriate for a Sunday afternoon? Am I doomed to explain what a "p*rno" is to my 4 and 8 year olds? And e**ctile dysfunction, too? I understand that there are plenty of target consumers among baseball fans, for both pharmaceutical products and the movie, but there are families watching, too.

And let me tell you - I really like Kevin Smith movies! Dogma, for all it's crassness, was also really rather smart - and a wicked piece of satire. Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy - they are all well-done movies. OKay Jay and Silent Bob strike back can go to the dumpster, and I never bothered with Jersey Girl, but for the most part, he's a director I respect. This movie may well be a decent movie, but it's subject matter isn't appropriate for family-time advertising.

So I've been really quick with the remote, but I hate that I have to be. I just wanna watch some baseball.

It Just Keeps Getting More Dumbfounding

WARNING: If you lean to toward the politically conservative, you might want to click Back. Now.

There's this.

I'm pretty sure that the quote was taken a bit out of context anyway.

That said, I think she just answered Katie's question about what she reads regularly.

And this.

Sarah must be getting speech advice from a lady in York, PA.

And this.

I'm thinking Katie was just as annoyed by you.

And this.

Yes, I realize this was meant to be a joke, but, really. Given where the polls are at all over the country, sounds more desperate than funny.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Where is James Carville When You Need Him Most?

In spite of my interest in, and ire about, the political race in the country, I've felt something was missing. Namely, those spot-on, edge of snark comments that cut straight to the heart of the matter.

We've been missing James Carville in the spotlight.

Oh, I know he's been around, but he hasn't been as vocal lately. His smart-folksy demeanor would be such a welcome counterpoint to the GOP's we-think-you're-stupid-folksy

I miss him.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mid-afternoon Munchies

Is there anything better than a piece of fresh, soft, slightly warm bread spread with softened (unsalted) real butter, then sprinkled with sea salt?

Didn't think so.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Time Warp

I like post-clinch/pre-playoff baseball, usually, but last night was ridiculous. It was like October 14, 2004 all over again.

He Said What to His Wife?

The GOP candidate is known to have a sometimes explosive temper. I knew that.

Some would call this an example of someone who says it likes it is, paint it as a positive, and so on. I mentioned earlier this week that I want a chief executive with a more even temperament than me. I think it's really, really important NOT to have an explosive temper and possiblly "go off" at any time when you have sensitive foreign policy issues to deal with - not to mention your finger on the proverbial button.

The Web page listed here was mentioned in our local paper yesterday. Read them all - but if you want to cut to the chase and find out what the title of this post references, scroll down to #1.

Oh. My. God.

No. No, thank you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Blogday

It just occured to me to check the dates in my archives.

Turns out I started this little experiment two years ago today.

Huh.

I didn't think I had that much to say (and the last couple days I can't seem to shut up).

If She Was Looking for Sympathy, She Made the Wrong Call

My sister called last night very upset.

Seems her middle son has registered as a Democrat.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another Partisan Comment

So I was reading comments over at Dooce. One of her commenters relayed a comment by a coworker. It was that having Sarah Palin as the VP, and possibly eventually the P, was like having your big sister run the country and wouldn't that be cool.

Given what my big sister is like, it's even more horrifying a thought.

Let's see, if my big sister were running the country we'd have a self-absorbed anorexic adulterer who excuses her every action by claiming it's "God's will" in charge of things. And when she wouldn't get her way, she'd bite people.

No. Thanks, but no.

I don't want a chief executive, or a backup chief executive who is just like me. I want some one smarter than me, harder working than me, more selfless than me, more informed and well-traveled than me, with a more even temperament than me. I don't feel the need to "like" the executives in a "let's be pals" sense. The stakes are much too big for that to matter.

Too. Much. Free. Time.

From the latest police log:

THURSDAY, SEPT. 11

3:05 p.m. A---- St., noise complaint, loud music from field near tennis courts, officer spoke to coach and will turn down music.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 13

1:38 p.m. S------- St., suspicious activity, suspicious male in area, suit and tie, walking back from funeral.

One of My Least Favorite Parts of Being a Grown-Up...

...is having a front-row seat to disintegrating marriages.

A friend called this morning. Her husband has moved out. They've been struggling for quite some time, and probably this will be for the best in the long run, but it's just so, so sad. We know both of them, we know their kids, our lives are intertwined in many ways, and this is a small town.

Their oldest is a good friend of C's. Their 3rd is a good friend of M's. Their youngest (4th) is a good friend of S's.

I hope that everyone involved can find happiness. Meanwhile, we'll do what we can to support and love them all.

Even while feeling utterly sad.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Astounding

Just yesterday I mentioned the police department and their strong-arm fundraising tactics.

They called again a few minutes ago. I wasn't going to answer because it came up a blocked number, but M answered and handed it to me.

I told the guy that I would not give them any more money until they presented themselves in a wholly transparent and respectable manner.

He tried to tell me I could drop off a check. I said, no, you didn't hear me, and repeated that until they presented themselves transparently - including letting phone numbers through - and respectably when they show up at residents homes, I will not give them more money.

Then he hung up on me.

Yup, hung up on me.

I left a message for the chief of police on this. I don't expect it to help any, but really, it was so unprofessional, especially when an organization wants charitable donations in tough economic times.