Thursday, July 31, 2008

We saw it

Pantheist Mom and another friend and our husbands and kids and my nephew. We all saw it.

The last at bat in our team's uniform of a certain tantrum-prone future Hall of Famer. There were many, many camera flashes. I hoped he would swing hard and go out on a high note. Maybe he tried, maybe he didn't. He flied out to center.

I can't say I'm sad. As great a bat as he swings, he crossed that invisible line this year from the the light to the dark. He became a drain on the team's psyche as the antics increased. Heck, my four year old behaves more maturely that he has.

We knew they were trying hard to trade him. On games like last night's, typically he would have been done in the 8th or 9th, the outfield shuffled. But there he was in the top of the 9th, out there in front of the wall. One last time.

And it was time.

Good luck, Manny. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

But, OH! The new guy! I always liked Canada. Mr. Bay, we are ready to embrace you and teach you what it means to be loved by an entire nation. It's like nothing you have ever known before.

Get ready, because we are...

UPDATE, THE NEXT MORNING: S has always had a soft spot for Manny. She has called him, "My hero!" and gets excited when he is up to bat. This morning C and I carefully told S about Manny being traded. She cried. Hard.

About 20 minutes later, after a donut, S said, "Mommy, Manny can still be my hero."

Yes, S, I guess he can.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Saturday evening was one of those times at the beach that I am fairly certain my kids will remember.

Friends whom we have not seen in years came down to have dinner on the beach with us. That was great. At the same time, there was a little "reunion" of kids from S's preschool organized by a really fun mom. We parked near the reunion area so the kids S could see her friends while we saw our friends.

Later in the evening, our friends departed, but the preschool parents were hard-core. Several of us built fires (my husband recently acquired a very large wok that we use as our firepit) and we stayed until after 9PM chatting while the kids played with sparklers and danced to whatever music came on the radio. (There were also some fireworks, but the young yahoo assistant harbormaster shut that down. Don't think the rest of the town hasn't noticed the frequency with which he sets off fireworks. Drunk with power, that one.)

We let the boys put long sticks into our fire until the tips glowed, then they danced the sticks through the air until the ends burned out.

For all the crappy commuting and annoying small-town politics (and young yahoo assistant harbormasters drunk with power), this is why we live here. We're very lucky.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Twist and Shout

A bit over an hour ago, a tornado warning was issued for my county.

Such a warning is rare. We don't live in tornado alley - far from it. But we have been in a strange weather pattern for the last week or so. This is the second tornado warning I can remember here. The last one was about five years ago and the suspect cell was about 1/2 mile from us. I was in one tornado warning when we lived in the south - that whole day is a story from another time.

My husband called me to let me know the warning had been issued. I'd just dropped C at sailing and didn't have the radio on. My husband is supposed to be sailing tonight, too, but I bet they are calling it off. A water spout was spotted about an hour away, and the line was headed straight for us. The news estimated it would reach us in 40 minutes.

After a frantic half hour of getting some things to the basement while following the storm on the news station, the storm weakened enough for the warning to be canceled. Meanwhile a neighbor whose son was also at sailing offered to go get them. Yes, please. And thank you. I'd already called down to the maritime school to verify that the kids were indeed off the water.

Last text message I sent to my husband was "Tornado warning canceled. Phew. Just flash flood and severe thunderstorm warnings now. Bring wine."

The thunderstorm cell is right over my town right now. I can hear the crackle of lightening intermingled with booms of thunder around my house. The rain is torrential. Hail possible.

There will be trees down. I hope we keep power. I think it's safe to assume the boys' summer league baseball games are canceled.

Even as I write this, the storm is easing. The sky is even lightening a little.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How to Cheer a Girl Up

Go see Mamma Mia! Loads of fun. You can't help but smile. Definitely going to get that on DVD for exercising.

Also, uploaded about 50 new images to Flickr. Click image over there on the left to see them all.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Speaking Up is Hard to Do

I went to church on Sunday morning for the first time since the first of June. I went because I knew that the rector, R, would not be there. We had a visiting priest – a benign older guy I’ve met before. He’s retired from parish work and now travels around the area doing supply work like this. His wife is also ordained and she’ll lead the service next week.

I realize I miss it. But what do I miss? I think I miss something that no longer exists. Things related to issues at the church continue to muddle along. Not particularly positively from my point of view.

Several weeks ago, I sent an email to the bishop. I didn’t tell him what my issues were, just that we needed help down here, and to listen to those others who have contacted him, that they are not alone in their concerns. Received a dismissive email back, as though he hadn’t really read my email. Lovely.

I decided to hold back pledges for a while. For a few weeks I mulled designating them to a specific fund, but I think I need to make a bigger statement. I’ll probably send the pledge amount to the diocese for a while, or to the food pantry or another group.

A couple weeks ago there was a women only goodbye party for the Christian Ed director. The issues with the rector were like the elephant in the room that no one was talking about. That was hard. In other ways, it was enlightening. I’d say the majority of women are not thrilled with how things are going (although the hostess is the only supporter I know), but convincing people to speak up is difficult. It’s easier to walk away, or actively ignore the issues. After all, we don’t go to church to be negative. We go looking for the positive. To speak up negatively about church related subjects feels somehow wrong. At any rate, I know the women I saw there were women I hadn’t seen in church in quite a while.

I saw a woman who was on the search committee at another gathering about a week later. (Coincidentally, this was the woman who ran for school committee this year and lost.) She tried to convince me that the Christian Ed director leaving as she did was planned “all along” and I had “absolutely no reason” to be upset or surprised. Um, no. If she had been in church more than one or two times since Christmas she might know better – or even just talked to the Christian Ed director. While on the search committee, this woman was the biggest champion for R getting the job, so in some ways, she’s trying to save face. I think she would do better to look inward and examine why she has been avoiding church for months now. Unlikely.

The junior warden of the church called. He said he heard I had spoken with R (from R). I told him the suggestions I made to R. CC acted like he was surprised to hear I had made suggestions, but that he thought they were good ones. Sounds like R dismissed the suggestions when I made them. Perhaps they will carry more weight if they come from CC. More on that in a moment.

CC said the bishop came down for a meeting with R, and also attended by himself and a couple others, and that the result was that things seemed to be okay, but they’d keep in contact. Excuse me? That floored me.

CC also said attendance numbers weren’t down all that much – only 11% at the 10AM service. I found this hard to believe and asked for details on the numbers. The numbers he has have no granularity; it’s everyone in the building during service times. I countered that such a number is skewed: he needs to be able to look at pew numbers vs. Sunday school numbers vs. choir numbers and so on. The numbers in choir and Sunday school teachers have remained relatively stable because we make commitments on a yearly basis to the choir director and/or Christian Ed director. I suspect these numbers will be down more in September (at the moment I know no one willing to commit to teach this coming year – even though the job description on the Web for the Christian Ed position declares a “solid” base of volunteers), and we need be able to see what is happening where. C said he’d bring that suggestion to the vestry meeting last week, but I know for a fact he did not. Still there’s plenty –and I mean plenty - of space in the pews.

About ten days ago, the church newsletter came out. The opening letter from the rector was about change versus growth. How people say they want change, but really need to look inward and grow personally.

Well, now.

I tried to think on that outside the context of what I know is happening. It was hard. Yes, looking inward and growing is a good thing, preferable to change for the sake of change. But…

I was not the only one who read this and felt that, once again, he is not taking any responsibility for what is happening. That he thinks it is not him who needs to a change, but us who need to grow.

(My husband, of course, did an excellent job of skewering that message while we were preparing for my sister’s arrival. I said we needed to change the sheets on the guest bed and he responded asking whether we really needed to change them, or should we look inward to grow them instead. Har, har, har.)

Just a few days ago we received a postcard mailing from the church reminding us to keep pledges up-to-date during the summer months. The most interesting thing to me was the label. It was addressed to my husband only. For the entire time we have been at the church, every single mailing has come to my name and his name last name. For something to come to just my husband was odd, particularly because he’s been three times in the last year, and I’m the one involved. I am the one who manages household bills and makes the decision about how much we pledge. I made a couple of phone calls. There were more than a few perturbed women out there in town. Turns out all the mailings went to the men only.

Let me repeat that.

Men only.

I think we have a sexism issue on our hands. (Amid everything else.) I’m not trying to be alarmist here or create more trouble where there is none. A pattern is emerging. Intentional or not.

I tried to deny it myself. I don’t want this to be an issue on top of everything. I didn’t really even occur to me until I read this piece about women and the church. Rather women AS the church. The article is about the greater church, but well worth considering on a local level.

Our church leadership may be mostly male, but women are the core. We’re the ones who typically drive taking the kids to church, being a part of the community. We teach Sunday school, keep the prayer chain going, feed one another, literally and figuratively, run all but one of the volunteer and outreach efforts. Yet our voices are not heard when there is a problem.

The women of our church are, very clearly to me, being dismissed. It’s been all women who have spoken up so far. Suggestions we make are overlooked. I will bet that if – IF- the (male) junior warden makes the same suggestions I made to R, they will be acted upon. Because they come from a man more than anything. The meeting between the bishop and the rector and the others was all men, and, hey, apparently things are fine. And when it comes to pledges, talk to the man of the house because, clearly, women have no decision making power there.

So back to church on Sunday. After the service, feeling like I have nothing to lose, I approached CC, the junior warden. I let him know that 1) was there because R was not, 2) the message in the newsletter was extremely telling, and 3) if he continued to allow church leadership to marginalize the women of the church, even in the most seemingly benign ways such as omitting women’s names from mailings, he would be able to watch the church totally disintegrate beyond repair.

Whether or not he heard me, I said it. I’m glad I did. Ironically, it was immediately after a sermon about hearing.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Sometimes the weather one direction is vastly different from weather in the other direction.

About ten days ago, dinner on the beach looked like this:

Click to enlarge.

Deep Breaths, Fourth of July, Garden, Kittens

My sister, her husband, and their youngest son are visiting. They are staying with us.

As I said to a friend on Saturday night, I prefer to have this side of the continent to myself. For scrawny woman with an eating disorder, she sure takes up a lot of space and requires an immense amount of energy.

Deep breaths, deep breaths.

I had fun taking photos of fireworks on Friday night.

I had even more fun when I took these photos on Saturday at the town beach party and bonfire. These photos have not been through any manipulation software - it's just what came out. Pretty funky, huh?

S and her daddy walk toward the bonfire.

Garden is finally blooming. The hydrangeas are really late, though. I have no idea why.

The kittens continue to be lots of fun.

When my sister is gone, I get a good nap and a morning at the beach, I hope to be more articulate.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A**holes in America

So I popped over to the local big box home improvement store at lunch today to try to find a specific florescent light bulb for the fan/light in the bathroom. Just as I exited my car, a stumbled ever so slightly as I checked to be sure that yes, I had my specifications and my keys and my phone. It wasn’t even enough of a stumble to make me think, “Gosh, I hope no one was looking!” Thirty seconds later, I barely remembered it.

As I walked through the big orange doors, a man says to me, “Have a nice trip?”

I looked at him quizzically.

He said it again, “Have a nice trip?”

I was just about to say that he must have me confused with someone else when he added, “I saw you trip in the parking lot.” Then he chuckled and walked away.

I was stunned. My jaw was open a little as I tried to remember. Then, oh, yeah, I guess I did trip a little.

But then my mind quickly went to this thought: A**hole.

I went to find my lightbulb, but kept an eye out lest that beautiful specimen of humanity end up in my aisle.

I still can’t really believe it. It’s almost surreal. That an adult (notice I didn’t say grown-up) would go out of his way to say something like that to a complete stranger is beyond me.

I'll bet he was a bully in high school.