Tuesday, May 30, 2006

gone to carolina in my mind

I've always been obtuse. (Now that's an inviting way to start a new blog post, isn't it?) But in all honesty, I am. I've always known things to be true in my gut well before my brain can figure out the logic of why I feel a particular way. I've surrounded myself with intuitive friends who can help me see both the forest and the trees while I'm gazing up at the sky. So it's really not all that surprising that it took a little over 40 years to realize how much the mountains of North Carolina speak to my soul. I arranged for DH and me to take our honeymoon there, and our family vacationed there several years ago with my parents and sisters. I found myself back there again this Memorial Day weekend, and finally realized just how much I love this part of the world.

I love the beauty of the Rockies, and I know I will be in awe of the Alps. But the Smokies? They are my heart. They are lush and green and peaceful and quiet and inviting and sexy. They are cinnamon coffee and cabernet and bread fresh from the oven. They are a cradle for life and they are both mysterious and sultry.

It was a great weekend because not only was I out in a place that I dearly love, but we met up with old friends that we dearly love. That's a winning combination from any direction that you look at it (even an obtuse one).

Little girls traipsing through the labrynth

We're here for this one go-round, aren't we? So what are we waiting for? Why any hesitancy to pull out the stops and fling out our arms and enjoy?

It was a good weekend. I'm ready for summer to begin now. Thank you Carolina.

Monday, May 22, 2006

legal bombs

Oooh, this blog is magic. After complaining in my last post, Q's baseball team won their game on Saturday night. They nearly forfeited but one of the kids showed up at the last minute to make it 8. Then they turned around and WON the silly thing. The head coach wasn't there, and Q played catcher most of the game. So I'm just sayin'....


Virginia's state government is following in the footsteps of several states that have amended their constitutions to define marriage as limited to a man/woman couple. Last November, eleven states approved admendments to their constitutions banning same-sex marriages (Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah). This wave of constitutional tinkering happened directly as a result of the Massachusettes case where the supreme judicial court ruled that MA laws banning same sex marriages violated the state constitution - allowing for (gasp, horror of horrors...) two people who love each other and want to build a family together to get married, even if they are two men or two women. Now Virginia and several other states are worried. While they already have laws on the record that ban same-sex marriage, they are worried that judicial rulings may overturn those laws too. So they are working to incorporate the wording directly into the state constitutions as an added safety measure to keep us all safe from these scary homosexuals. That's the background. (I don't hide sarcasm very well do I?)

Here are the words to Virginia's proposed amendment:
“That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

“This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.”


Obviously, for those who know me, I believe this is a hateful, spiteful, idiotic piece of biogtry. But all that aside, it's also a very poorly worded, confusing piece of legalese that will cause all kinds of controversy and lawsuits if it is passed. The confusion comes in of the "another union, partership, or other legal staus..." phrase, which, if interpreted literally, is probably general enough to encompass legal relationships including things like Living trusts. An opinion piece by Charles Nance in the Daily Press described some of this:

From a property rights standpoint, it's those "other legal relationships" to watch out for. That's because today, the majority of assets owned by Virginians are subject to private contracts and agreements and do not pass to loved ones under their wills or probate. Most of the assets we have today are owned - and will transfer upon our deaths - based on private contractual arrangements that we make during life. These contracts include beneficiary designations (such as you have on life insurance, IRAs, 401(k)s or retirement plans) and depository agreements with your bank or credit union (when you decide how to "title" your account as joint, with survivorship or "payable on death," for instance). These are all private contracts...

...All of these types of contractual agreements could be ignored or set aside under the language of the proposed marriage amendment.

Virginia's idiotic legislators, rather than having the courage to just put out there in black and white that they are homophopic enough to want to ban same-sex marriage, have couched it in enough legalspeak so as to confuse the voters. Why? I have no idea. Morons. If it is passed (and if other states are any indication, it probably will), it will likely generate enough lawsuits and controversy that it will have to be revisited and revised. How much money (that could be spent on other necessary things) is THAT going to waste?

The latest controversy is in the wording of the explanation of the amendment that will go along with the ballot, which opponents claim is anything but a neutral interpretation.

It's bad enough having to live with the reality that my "representatives" are so lost in their closed political worlds that they don't see the blatent discrimination here. But to realize that they are also legal idiots is almost too much to bear. The scary thing is that Virginia is rather in line with much of the rest of the nation. Can anyone give me a good logical reason why two loving adults can't marry? (and "god hates homosexuals" isn't good enough). By the way, what's going to happen to the children of these parents? My friends, who are lesbians, had a daughter 10 years ago. One of the moms got pregnant from sperm of a relative of the other mom. This was done to ensure that the daughter could be legally "claimed" by family in the event that something were to happen to the birth mom. Because her other mom wouldn't be good enough to qualify as a parent around here in these parts. Am I really that far out of place there in this country? I don't get it. :-(

Thursday, May 18, 2006

bejeweled magic

Oh good lord. I've turned into one of those parents.

I could give you a litany of all the things Q's baseball coach is doing wrong, but then there'd be no debate amongst you that I've become one of those parents. But gee whiz, by golly, these poor children. They have a record of 1 (one) win and 9 (nine) losses. The one win came against the team currently winning the division. It was a forfeit. The lousy coaching is just assuring that they do not win a game. And even more heinous, he's not playing Q enough as catcher. See? If there were any question of whether I am in the ranks of those parents, that should settle the issue. I can't tell you for sure when I made the transition, but I noticed I was fully there tonight. DH (darling husband) just laughed at me. I made a valient effort not to bite his head off. After all, we're talking youth baseball here. Good lord. Someone better come save me. Steve R. (aka TM) I'm expecting you to fully understand. Thank you.

In other news, I discovered the value of blisters today. I've got some lovely blisters, one on each foot, from walking too much in my flip-flops...which reminds me of a funny story from a neighbor about flip-flops, or thongs, as they are called in parts of the U.S. including these here parts; and in particular, this story is about crocheted thongs (aka flip-flops) which she bought for her daughter and which were recorded on the store receipt as "crocheted thong", which in turn caused her husband's eyebrows to pop up along with his excitement level when he saw the receipt until she figured out what in the hell a "crocheted thong" was doing on her receipt.

Anyway, decked out in band-aids and a bejeweled thong - I mean bejewled flip flops, I headed over to the cafeteria for my daily veggie sub, and realized I needed to walk slowly. Very slowly, to be more correct. It was the blisters you see. Or maybe the bejeweled thong, who knows? But the critical story element here is that I was forced to slow down. And you know, everything just changed as a result. It was very nice. I didn't rush through my well-worn routine of grabbing the sub and a diet Dr. Pepper in one fell swoop and paying the $3.30 to the same cashier I see every day as I grab napkins and a paper bag to stuff everything into and rush back to my office to eat at my desk. Instead, I calmly observed the nice flowers in front of the cafeteria as I slowly ambled up to the front steps. I spoke to a very nice lady at the mailbox about how gorgeous the day was. I even thought about getting a different lunch since I was forced out of my groove, but I love me my veggie sub. I looked the cashier in the eye and spoke to her for a few minutes. I enjoyed the nice Virginia air as I shuffled slowly back to the office. It does pay to slow down a little bit. Don't know why, really, that I'm in such a habit of rushing. I guess it's a focus on the goal rather than the path.

So good can even come from blisters, see? Or maybe it was the bejeweled thong that provided the magic. Hmm.


I'm back from my visit to Texas, which was wonderful!

No time for a full post, but I just wanted to say that I am so bummed Elliott was voted out of American Idol!! He was my favorite all season long. E came and gave me a hug and asked me if I needed her to sleep with me. She's such a sweetie.

Don't give up on checking my blog...I'll post a real post soon, I promise.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

mother's day

I'm so excited! I leave (extremely) early in the morning to fly down to Texas to go see *MY* mommy for Mother's Day!! It's been a very long time since I've been with my own mom for Mother's Day. Mom, do you want me to make you some half-cooked pancakes on Sunday? Seems like the last Mother's Day we were together, that's what I was doing for you. Yum.

My Mom is wonderful. That is such a simple statement to make, but it is full of so many details. I still call her maybe twice a week and she sounds happy to hear from me every single time. She found the perfect balance between giving me independence and being there for me when I was growing up (and while I am grown). She has been supportive of everything I do, whether she agrees with me or not.
She is one of the most positive and strong people I've ever known. Her approach to life is to love it, wherever she is, and to not bother with any regrets from the past. She loves to enjoy herself and doesn't worry about fitting herself into any mold. She just revels in life - both the simple and the complicated - and assures that she gets back from it all that is there.

Basically, I've got the perfect model for my own life and my own mothering- I hope I do even half as good a job. I love you, Mom!!

If I were asked to define myself, my mom would be the core of my definition.

And as for going full circle and being a mother, it's something so all-consuming that it is easy to lose myself in the role of "mother. But the reality is, that is who I am. And I want it no other way. I adore my children unlike anything I have ever known.

Here are a few quotes I found that I like:

A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after. ~Peter De Vries

If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? ~Milton Berle

A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world.
It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down
remorselessly all that stands in its path
--Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976)

"The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world."
-- William Ross Wallace

Sunday, May 07, 2006

accomplishments and limits

I feel very accomplished this weekend. I finished knitting and felting two, count 'em TWO booga bags for Teacher-Appreciation week (Teachers - I love you. I only do these kinds of things for you because I love you and you hold the most honored job I can imagine. You all rock, and I include my wonderful sister in that statement too. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!) Anyway, despite staying up past midnight to do that (see, I told you I love teachers), I also managed to orchestrate our Saturday circus, including (briefly) baking, planning meeting, baseball game, piano recital and girl's night out. After today's youth UU service, which went off great, I thought, we took the YRUUs out for ice cream, and then I went home, sat down and promptly got sick. Well kind of. I sure felt sick for a while. Can you say exhausted?

So pat me on the back - I got through the weekend.

One thing about staying so busy that works for me is that I lose my obsession with the news and politics. I realize that all these lousy things continue to happen in the global playing field whether I'm paying attention to them or not. While I realize that, I hate the sentiment, because I hate apathy almost as much as I love honesty. Yet still. In order to stay sane, you have to draw the line somewhere, don't you? What is there to be done in any case?

How much impact can one person really have on the world - for problems that are of global reach? Unless you're a famous sports hero or movie star or in politics, one person's reach is sure limited. It's a feel-good thing for us to say that we're "doing our part" or "touching one person is touching the world", but in all honesty, I think the reality is that we have to come to terms with the fact that there are limits to what we can do. For instance, I think about global warming and climate change and it scares the crap out of me. I periodically go through spells of dreaming of buying solar panels and converting my cars to run on vegetable oil or of moving to a place that's withing biking distance of work and stores. But ... guess what? Haven't done it. We drive two vehicles 40 miles each way each day to work, and we keep our air conditioner at about 72. You tell me - what difference would it make in the big scheme of things if I did go totally green? Um... I think none. These individual contributions to global problems just aren't going to add up. There are global problems like this one that can only be addressed by large social shifts, driven by either politics or industry. We're not going to cut down on oil consumption as a nation by individually going green. We're only going to do it when the political and economic pressure is there to encourage green technological advances.

How about global poverty? How much is it really going to help if I buy a llama from Heifer International? It may end up helping a few people somewhere, but global poverty? Nope. Our individual contributions are bandaids, not solutions. Meaningful solutions must come from national levels, not the individual.

I'm not saying bandaids are bad - they're certainly needed. I'll continue to supply bandaids when I can, and hope for some hero to come along that has the influence to move nations. I think there are things I can do that will be felt more locally. I'm active on our PTA board and am having a little influence on raising and spending money for my local elementary school. I'm working with the youth in our church. I can try to apply bandaids where I see they're needed, and I think I'm at a place where I can even help with SOLUTIONS on a local level.

But these big issues that dominate the news like the war? Darfur? Famine and drought? If I take on those responsibilities, I will drown. There's got to be a line between apathy and the realization that we have limits to what we can do. It's frustrating. Let me know if you figure it out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

our spring, in a nutshell

I know I'm just the tiniest bit biased, but man, these are two CUTE kids.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

oh honey, honey

My friend Tracy (wife of my team leader at work) claims that eating local honey will help with allergies. Huh.

Whether or not it is true, the idea of a big jar of fresh honey just tickled my taste buds today so I tromped down to the office of the guy at work who is a beekeeper in his spare time and bought a large jar of fresh golden honey. It sat in my office all day and I smiled when I looked at it. Yum.

Driving home, I set it on the floorboard beside me and held onto it at every turn (we're talking 45 minutes of driving here so this is some major jar-sitting). I envisioned hot tea with honey and warm milk with honey at bedtime tonight. I tasted fresh honey on my morning oatmeal. Cookies and cakes with honey. Honey on warm buttermilk biscuits. My mouth was watering as I turned into my driveway. I kid you not. I was on the verge of proposing to my jar of fresh, local honey.

I gathered up all my belongings, including my precious jar of honey and hurried toward the house, with visions of honey on everything dancing in my head. But wait. I was hasty, I was in a hurry. I dropped my jar of honey on my gravel driveway and watched in dismay as the jar shattered into a bajillion pieces (all mixed in with the honey) and honey oozed into the dirt...all in slow motion, mind you. Sniff. It was very very sad.

E thinks I should go buy another jar tomorrow. But I don't know - it just seems wrong. That jar was my jar. I'd be cheating on it if I just went immediately to another. I think at least a few days of mourning is in order.


I believe I have solved the mystery rash. I have only itched like this in a tear-my-skin-off, grab a fork way twice in my life. The first time we deduced it was a penicillin allergy. I was taking penicillin for some dental work. This time, however, there was no penicillin. Ah - but there was dental work. I believe I may be one of the rare folks blessed with a type IV allergic response to dental anesthesia. (Type IV means a delayed response, most often an itchy skin rash that lasts several weeks). Two for two. Yep - pretty sure. Any bets on whether I'll be able to convince my dentist of this?


And I just want to add here before I close that...I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my family. And I think they love me despite the fact that I have weird skin type-IV allergic reactions and am careless with the love of my life jar of honey. It doesn't get much better than this, folks.

Monday, May 01, 2006

me and barry bonds

My big accomplishment for the week is stumping my doctor. He has no idea why this mystery rash that makes me claw my skin off has shown up on my arms and back for the last month. After observing the clawmarks on my skin, he prescribed a hefty dose of prednisone to keep me from disfiguring myself which does nothing for an actual cure. Does the fun never end??!!

While I was shivering in the fresh May air (Coldspell!) this afternoon whilst watching E practice baseball, several other moms and I struck up a conversation about parenting and all the things this generation of parents is doing wrong. (Now, I didn't say I necessarily agreed with them). The gist of what they were saying is that current parents seem to have several loads of baggage we choose lug around with us that previous generations didn't: namely guilt and the happiness syndrome. Mom "A" said that she was highly envious and impressed with the parenting style of her bro and sis-in-law, which seems to be in the same vein as Nanny 911; i.e., parent-led household as opposed to kid-led, clear rules, consistency, and no problem with having the little sweeties go through tough and uncomfortable times if the need arises. She said she felt like current popular thinking is, alternately, to provide happiness at all times to children, and to bend your life in order to achieve that. We don't want them to grow up in need of anything. We are here to provide them the perfect and fulfilled childhood that they deserve.

My unspoken reaction was "Uh-uh!!!!", which I kept to myself despite its being so obviously articulate. OK, well. I guess her assessment is not really so far off base, maybe. But I know good and well that she, and myself, and the other moms that were there, are not really that far out there on the crunchy-granola, feel-good, touchy-feely front. None of us are going to let Johnny get away with sassing because we're afraid to hurt his feelings. None of us are going to do homework for him or let him run the household.

As we speak, Q was wandering through the house in a funk because he lost his "Thursday folder" and is under dire threats of abuse from his teacher if he can't find it (his version). DH and I were helping him look, but the minute I saw him sitting in the hallway sulking rather than looking, I told him this was his issue to deal with and not mine, and I came back here in the office to finish up my blog-thing. We told him it's his responsibility so he'll just deal with the consequences. OTOH, E came in telling me she needs a bag to put her piano books in and she asked if she could just use one of the old bags in the closet. I said sure for now, but I'd love to buy her a new one.

So there you are. Tough mom/softy mom. I wonder if parenting styles have really changed all that much over the years, or if it's simply the pundits and the way that we frame it for ourselves that has changed. I don't see that much difference in the way I parented and the way that my parents parented me (other than the whole seat belt thing, but that's just the way things were back then).

I told Mom "A" and the other moms that I figured regardless of what we do, our kids are going to turn out fine. (They did not look convinced). I thought the issue with parenting was primarily how insane we want to make ourselves during the process. (They didn't look convinced with that either). So I'm not Rosemond and I'm not Dr. Sears (of attachment parenting fame). I'm just me doing what I feel like works for my kids. I don't cook them separate meals (they have to make a pb&j sandwich if they don't like the looks of supper). OTOH, I don't make them clear their plates. They don't have specific chores. OTOH, they are expected to help when we ask, and they certainly have a lot of responsibilities with their homework, piano, and baseball. We sometimes eat dinner in front of the TV and computer in XM radio rather than together at the table. I have taken away Game Cube from a particular son who shall remain nameless for a month because of behavior issues. And I have let the kids discuss consequences with me and compromised on things when they have good points.

You know, you just do what you do. The earth is going to keep spinning around until the sun explodes and the universe is going to keep expanding and contracting, or just expanding, or splitting into alternate universes, or catching up to other universes, etc., etc., despite whether we buy our kiddos most of what they want or decide to educate them in the realities of need. You know?

In the meantime, I'll be lifting weights and bulking up with these steroids and maybe I'll have me a MLB contract before the rash goes away.