Saturday, November 29, 2008

a more honorable existence

I suppose I've never written the obligatory post outlining the things that I am thankful for this year, have I? It's really a bit difficult since I've been solidly in a "find the cloud attached to the silver lining" mode for the last month or so.

It's a dreary day outside...

Here goes.

I am thankful to those who refuse to remain silent in the face of racism, homophobia, religious discrimination and sexism. It is easy (and cowardly) to remain in the safety of our homes and invisibility cloaks and privately condemn these actions. It is more difficult and much more honorable to respond publicly, whether it's participating in public protests against California Proposition 8, or refusing to let your friend stereotype a religion or race.

I am thankful to the climate scientists who have put themselves on the front lines of what remains of the climate change "debate" (, etc). The few remaining dissenters are quite uninformed and are wrong on all of the arguments I've seen out there, but they are also quite vocal, nasty, and persuasive/persistent, so to ignore them remains a mistake. It takes someone with an extraordinary amount of patience and an extraordinarily thick skin to respond to them. It is difficult for scientists who put in 60-80 hour work-weeks, and who have families and outside lives, to find the extra time and patience to power through the education of the public. It is much easier to bury your head in the comfort of your own research and assume that with time, the tide of public opinion will become powerful enough to ensure response. I am thankful for those who chose the more difficult path and continue to respond to ridiculosities with rational, science-based arguments.

I am thankful to those who volunteer hours and hours of their time every week to help make our public schools successful. It is easy to complain about the PTA or about school policies in the comfort of our homes while downing a few cold ones with friends. It is much more difficult to give up precious extra hours in order to plan fundraisers, print and distribute newsletters, and attend meetings.

I am thankful to everyone who has chosen the difficult path of action over the easier path of apathy and acceptance. For everyone who has acted rather than simply talked, I believe you have chosen the more honorable existence. So thank you.


Here are the two cousins

And here is my sister with Roxy. I double checked that Roxy was still in the house after we took them to the airport for their departure. I was a little worried Tracy was going to sneak her back to Texas in her luggage.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ready for visitors

I woke up smiling this morning.... My little sister and my niece will arrive tonight! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I especially love having a big group over to my house for a nice dinner. This will be the first dinner I've had where I've been able to have a family member here....Not that having friends over is a less than ideal thing in and of itself. I wouldn't change a thing from any of my wonderful Thanksgivings past. I'm just very excited to have my very own sister here. (Though I will be missing my other sister! I will get you out here for a visit soon, La.)

Thus far, on the table for Thursday:
Smoked turkey
fresh cranberry sauce (courtesy of friend)
cornbread/sausage stuffing
apple/cranberry stuffing (courtesy of friend - we all have our favorites so we
just agreed to put it all out there)

green salad (courtesy of friend)
pumpkin soup (though I'm thinking of changing this to sweet corn soup...?)
apple pie with whipped cream topping (courtesy of friend)
goat cheese and carmelized onion topped puffed pastries (courtesy of friend)
lots of good wine

I'll also do something with potatoes and probably the broccoli/rice/cheese casserole that we always used to have (I'm suspecting Tra will want this). I want to come up with some good appetizers and another dessert. And for sure we'll have a blazing fire in the fireplace and candles and good music.

I also really really really like ham with these dinners, but I've run out of oven space.

Today's plans are to clean out the fridge and the oven, buy more wineglasses, replace broken dinner plates, buy new tablecloths, return the carpet cleaner, and wash windows. See how I spend my vacation leave hours?!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


We certainly did our part yesterday to continue the flow of good and services in this country. I finally couldn't stand it anymore that we had no seating (other than one papasan chair) in our sunroom, so DH and I ended up going shopping. We now have a new couch (courtesy of a local shop), and a new bookcase capable of handling the mountains of books daughter E collects (also courtesy of a local shop). This is on top of replacing the brake pads on the van this weekend (national dealership). So you're quite welcome, US economy.

(J writes here encouraging those of us lucky enough not to be unemployed at the moment to not become too cautious of spending. It's a cornerstone of our economy. If you can, then do.)

My heart is totally warmed by this couch, by the way, as the MOMENT the delivery guys put the couch in the sunroom, E grabbed pillows and blankets and a good book, and she has been parked there ever since. She's claimed her spot.

Note, at the time of this photo, E temporarily moved to the papasan chair because she wanted a snack and I'm forbidding food or drink on the new couch for a while. Wow - the walls REALLY need some color and some artwork, don't they? Regardless, Oh, I love our sunroom.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm here...

I'm sorry I haven't updated in so long. It's Mare's fault for getting me to join facebook so blame her.

We're all doing well, and it's looking to be a very nice holiday season, with visits from friends and family in abundance. The first order of business is Thanksgiving, in which my littlest sister and her daughter (E's age) will come visit us. No matter how old and responsible she is, she will always be the baby in my mind - poor Seester Tra. I have a turkey in the fridge and have invited a boatload of people (who may or may not be able to come), but that's the extent of my planning so far. I did notice that E was curled up on the couch watching Altan Brown last night and was taking notes, so she will probably dictate to me what our meal will be.

I'll try to refocus energy here in the future, but you can still continue to blame Mare.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If you love your country, thank a vet...

Hoo boy.
I managed to make it through my daughter's 4th grade Veteran's Day program without crying, but only barely.
Here's E saying her part.

(Hello! Can you GET any more all-American then a 4th grade class putting on a Veteran's Day program in a school gym decorated red white and blue in front of a painting of the Statue of Liberty?)

I was able to hold back the tears (barely) when Mr. O, our school's beloved custodian, came out to sing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" with the kids. He does this every year, and invariably gets a rock-star reception with cheers and stomping and whoops (Mr. O is very loved in our school). So here was this black man, our custodian, who is as kind and generous and humble and hard-working a man as I've ever seen, in a setting with about 100 kids absolutely adoring him, singing about his pride in this country, which has just elected its first black president. I can only imagine what he was feeling. (It was at that point that I looked at Q who was standing beside me and said "I'm trying not to cry." Q gave me the middle school eye roll.

The section where the kids sing the service songs and have audience members stand up during their song, for recognition??... (sob) That one gets me every time - watching moms and dads and grandfathers stand up proudly and giving a big thumbs-up to their 4th grader. I watch the kids so proudly singing patriotic songs and think - well yes, that's pretty much what it's about, isn't it?

Thank you, my country's armed forces. I believe this one thing very firmly. Our country has remained a safe-haven for American families, a place where liberty and freedom runs rampant, only because of the courage and the dedication our armed forces. It seems trivial to simply say "thank you," but it is all that I know to say. I'm a little verklempt, having just run through the wars that this country has been through since it's inception, and thinking of the sacrifices that have been made to bring it where it is now.

And on a totally different subject, then there was the outrageous fact that my baby looked so freaking big up there.

Sorry, can't help it:

(note the lovely bangs-job courtesy of her brother that year)

When did she turn into this pre-pre-teen up there wearing jeans and flipping her hair and whispering with her friend (lord, those two are gonna TEAR UP this town when they're older). She has always been the smile in my family. She's a happy kid. (She cried during Mr. O's song...she's also sentimental.)

Friday, November 07, 2008

my afternoon walk

I spent the afternoon walking by myself at the state park just down from my house. East coast autumns. (sigh)

"If you're walking down the right path, and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress"
(Barack Obama)

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
(Henry David Thoreau)

"The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration."
(Claude Monet)

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. (Carl Sagan)

"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here."

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree”
(Emily Bronte)

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
(Frank Lloyd Wright)


My son is laying on the couch under the influence of muscle relaxers and zithromax, and my jaw is aching from the repair of my broken tooth. We're falling to pieces.

(But still riding the wave of optimism. Mostly)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Thank you, America.
I am freakin' proud.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh yes, it's personal

This is the traditional Tibetan prayer flag sent to me several weeks ago from my dear friend Kath. The colors represent the "five pure lights," or elements. Blue (sky/space), White (air/wind), Red (fire), Green (water), Yellow (earth). Each flag has a picture of a "Ta" (a strong horse) which is a symbol of speed and the transformation of bad fortune into good fortune. Traditional mantras are written around the Ta on each flag that promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. When you hang it in the winds, they are supposed to take the good will and compassion into all pervading space. I've been saving it to put out on this particular morning. I'm rather in the mood for some positive forces in this world. Wisdom is a good thing, as are peace, compassion and strength. We need it all.

So on that note, does anyone want to take a guess on who I might vote for in the presidential election today? Seriously. Any takers?

Well, OK. You're right - actually, I have known for a while. To be exact, I've known since July 27, 2004 that I would one day be voting for Barack Obama for my president. My family was in Baltimore, MD to watch the Red Sox play the Orioles that evening, and we had rented a hotel room near Camden Yards. I believe the Red Sox lost that night, and we had walked back to our room afterwards, totally exhausted. Once back and showered and pajama-ed up, we cozied up beneath the blankets and had the TV tuned to the Democratic Convention. John Kerry was being nominated that year. I liked the man, and still believe he would have been a good president. Whatever. (gasp and shake your heads all you want. He was swift-boated!!!) Since we were all so tired, we fell asleep quickly with the TV still on. I woke up a bit later and sat up sleepily to see what was going on at the convention. It happened to be just in time for the keynote speaker for that night - an unknown guy from Illinois that I'd never heard of named Barack Obama. I listened for a couple of minutes and ended up absolutely transfixed. In fact, I started crying. Bawling. The next morning I told DH that Barack Obama was going to be our president one day. I absolutely knew that it was inevitable. I told my parents. I told anyone who would listen to me. I wrote about it in my blog. I hope I was right, and will find out in several hours if I was.

I absolutely admit that my support for Barack Obama at that point was visceral. He is a young, good looking man with an overwhelming aura of control about him. He is an electrifying and eloquent speaker. Visceral, perhaps, but the ability to inspire and persuade are not traits to dismiss when you are talking about the president of a large and powerful and influential country. Since that night, my support for him has remained.

In the very long (f*cking LONG) four years since that night, well... things have certainly played out on the world stage, haven't they? We are still sending our future, our young men and women, to Iraq into what I believe is a misplaced war (wrong place, wrong people). Many of these young people aren't coming home. Ever. We are in the middle of a global financial crisis that, I daresay, most of us don't understand. What I do understand is that within the past month no less than 6 friends have told me that they or their spouse have lost their jobs. The climate is changing with increasing speed as a result of global warming and folks? If you think these other issues are difficult to deal with, they will pale in comparison to this.

We have some very difficult times ahead of us and it is going to be a painful time for so many people. That's not going to change regardless of who we elect as president. In the short term, it's going to hurt. But it is crucial that we pick someone who is going to move this giant elephant back into the right direction. We need someone who is wise enough to listen to experts and discuss options. We need someone who will move beyond politics and be honest with the public. We'll need the cooperation of the world to do this - this country cannot continue to exist in such isolation as it has for the last decade. We've got to put that arrogance aside and realize we are part of the global community. The opinion of the rest of the world about this election is obvious. My friend in England just yesterday sent me an email to wish me luck with "our revolution." It's an important election for them, too.

I could continue for days on individual policy points and why I believe Barack Obama is on the right track, but I won't. This post is a personal one for me, a visceral one. I have been waiting for this day for a long time. I don't know what the outcome will be. I do know that there will be tears tonight, no matter what it is. I'll have my champaign handy, in case I need it. I'll be at the computer with my cell phone handy so I can enjoy this night with my personal gang (Mare, J, Polli, Jamie, Kath, Carrie...) who feel as strongly about this as I do. Ladies, if the world was made out of people like you, we'd be unstoppable. Maybe...just maybe today, we'll start moving in that direction.