Friday, October 31, 2014

Is It Rights Or Just Class?

In all the controversy of late about the Ebola virus and how best to contain/treat/eliminate it from U.S. soil one recent story had me scratching my head. This is the story of the nurse Kaci Hickox of Maine.

First let me say that I am not a doctor. Never have been; never will be. So what I know about Ebola is very little and only that which I've heard from or seen in the media. I know that it is contagious. I know hat it has a minimum incubation period of 21 days. I know that it has a 70% mortality rate. I know that it presents like the flu and is easily misdiagnosed by the victim and physicians early on. I also know that there seems to be developing questions on just how contagious it is, how it's transmitted exactly, and just when someone is contagious. Again, I'm not a doctor. What I get from all of this is that Ebola is mean shit and people who have been exposed need to be ABSOLUTELY sure that they are not carriers of the virus or contagious before mixing with the unsuspecting populous.

Second, Kaci Hickox needs to be given the credit she is due as a care giver. She didn't shy away from the fight, she went right into the fire with the goal of easing the suffering of those poor souls who had Ebola. Good for her. And when her tour was done, she came home. And when she arrived from a west African country put on the watch list, she was placed in quarantine in New Jersey and then sent home to wait out the rest of her 21 days in her home in Maine. To remain in her home until she is ABSOLUTELY sure she does not have the virus. She said "no" and thus all the controversy about rights and such.

I don't want to talk about Ebola per se except how it relates to this particular conundrum. My question is about rights and social decorum. I get that Ms. Hickox has rights and cannot be incarcerated without reason. I'm the first person to stand up for a person's rights whether or not I like what they stand for. I get that she doesn't want to be quarantined. But....

Let's see, I cannot tell a joke that starts a rabbi, an imam, a priest and a minister go into a bar on a Friday night during Lent to get a sausage pizza and a pitcher of beer for dinner. I can't (even though it's a really good joke) because there are a number of groups who MIGHT be offended by the joke. So, because groups might be offended, my First Amendment right to freedom of speech has been PERMANENTLY suspended and that joke could classify me as a hate-speech user rather than someone who lacks social decorum and class.

On the other hand. Ms. Hickox (or anyone else who might be carriers or contagious with Ebola) doesn't want her right to freedom to be TEMPORARILY suspended even though what she MIGHT have could infect and possibly cause someone to die.

Hardly equal. Hmm. Permanently suspending a freedom because people could be insulted vs. temporarily suspending a freedom because people could die. Really? And I had the bad joke?

What we have is not really a case of rights - rights of the disease carriers vs. the rights of the unsick, and I'll also argue the whole hate-speech is crap too. What we have is a society so socially déclassé and selfish it's absurd. Why can't it be the case that I don't tell my joke (even though I really want to) because I can self-govern, self-censor, show some class and dignity and respect for others? And why can't Ms. Hickox (and others) self-quarantine, show some class and dignity and respect for others?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Indian Summer

The temperatures came down a bit from REALLY HOT to just hot. There have even been a few days of ahhhh nice temperatures - not above 85, low humidity, and sunny. And then, it gets HOT again with Indian Summer. Aside from the question of can I call it Indian Summer without offending anyone, the interesting thing about Indian Summer is the final "blooms" of the year. No, not the mums or pansies, I'm talking about mold and ragweed.

Husband suffers with this annual blossoming of pollen and spores. And every year we seem to have the same conversation.

Husband: *sniffling* I think I'm getting a cold.
Me: *knitting* It's allergies.
Husband: *sniffling* I'm only allergic to cats.
Me: *knitting* And mold.

A few days later....

Husband: *sniffling* I'm allergic to something. Did you change laundry detergent?
Me: *writing* No.

mold spores
Husband: Fabric softener?
Me: No.
Husband: Bath soap?
Me: No.
Husband: Shampoo?
Me: No.

A few days later....

Husband: *sniffling* I researched it. I'm allergic to mold.
Me: *crocheting* Huh. Interesting.

Meanwhile, even knowing what is causing poor Husband's irritation doesn't help make his sniffles go away and it's time to buy stock in allergy medication. Yet, it's pleasant to sit outside in the evening and cook out and just look at the leaves changing colors until night falls and the mold spores float down out of the atmosphere.

We are eagerly awaiting the first frost which will put an end to the spores and pollen and herald in the winter. In the mean time, autumn continues and Halloween is Friday!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Permission or Forgiveness?

Little Man used to ask permission to do things - go upstairs to play, go outside, go to the park, draw, finger paint, build with his blocks, get a snack - whatever. I liked that. It gave me control. I knew where he was. I knew the magnitude of the mess. I was able to prevent dangers.

Lately, Little Man has stopped asking permission to do things. If he wants to go outside, he does. If he wants to color, he does. If he wants to paint, he does. Often he colors or paints on things he shouldn't. This, of course, is not okay with me because now I can't protect him or the walls or table tops.

When he does something he shouldn't then I'm forced to scold and correct his behavior. Which had been working just fine.

Me: No, no we don't color on the walls.
Little Man: Okay. Why not, Mama?
Me: We only color on paper. So, we need to clean the wall.
Little Man: You do it.
Me: Don't sass Mama. That's not nice.
Little Man: You clean the wall Mama, I'm not doing it.
Me: That's it Little Man, you're in time out.

Not anymore. He has learned to do something and I don't know where he learned it. It's not a new technique - teenagers and politicians tend to use it too often. He now apologizes BEFORE I'm aware he's done something wrong.


Little Man: Mama, I'm sorry. I accidentally colored on the wall.
Me: Little Man, how did you accidentally color on the wall?
Little Man: *shrugs* It just happened. I'm sorry Mama. I love you.
Me: I love you too.

When did he learn that sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission? Is this something that is just innate in all of us? Is this just something that 4-year olds, teenagers, and politicians do?

I don't want him to think that it is better to apologize than to ask for permission. I also don't want him to not come to me at all. It's a fine line that I'm having to learn to walk. He's crafty.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Magic

Every year our church opens a pumpkin patch to sell pumpkins and mums and pansies and gourds during the month of October. The proceeds from the sales go to fund the many missions our church is involved with. One Friday night during the month, they will show movies in the pumpkin patch. The past few years it's been too wet, or too cold, or Little Man was too young. This year was the convergence of perfection.

This year, the temperatures were cool but not cold, it was clear and had been dry for several days prior so the ground was perfect for picnic blankets and lawn chairs. And Little Man is old enough now to "sit" through an entire move. Combine it with THE movie of the year, Frozen, and it would be the best time ever!

So as soon as Husband returned home from work, we loaded the car with a picnic blanket from our old motorcycle days, lawn chairs from the old beach days, and Little Man from our current days and headed out. First stop was for burgers and fries for our picnic dinner then off to find a good spot on the lawn.

We set up "camp" and Husband and I ate our dinner while Little Man met up with his friends and ran around. Yes, our Little Man has friends. He has school friends, Sunday school friends, Wednesday church friends, T-Ball friends, etc. he knew more people there than Husband and I did. And they ran. Like a pack of dogs at a dog park - as a group, back and forth across the lawn. He would return to "camp" periodically to take a sip of milkshake, or a bite of cheeseburger, or swipe a fry, but then he was not looking at us or really even with us. He was looking across the growing crowd for more people he might know and gathering his people together again for another lap around the pumpkin patch.

When the sun went down, the movie started and all the children returned to their parents. How fun it was to watch Little Man enjoying the movie. Yes, we own it. Yes he watches it every day. Yes, I've seen it every day too. But somehow, in this venue, with the whole family together, it was wonderful.

The fun part was watching all the children sing along to the songs, quote the movie, and act it out. Even the mommies were singing it out loud. Apparently, our house isn't the only one that plays the movie over and over and over again. Even so, when Little Man asks me to play it again, I won't think of it the same way. I'll have that magical night in the pumpkin patch to remember.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Autumn

I love autumn. It is my all time favorite time of year. It heralds cooler temperatures, the hibernation of bugs and other unseemly things like snakes and such, and the beauty of colored leaves. The grass and plants slow in their growth so you aren't having to spend every weekend mowing or pruning. It's football season and sweater season and time for Halloween and Thanksgiving - my two favorite holidays. And because it is cooler, it's the time of year I am willing to venture outside.

This year, I decided that we can decorate for this season. Why not. We decorate for Christmas. I feel like decorating and celebrating the long awaited autumn. I replaced the entry florals with autumn florals and a decorative pumpkin. The dining room center piece and linens sport colored leaves and gourds.

The outside of the house hasn't been done yet but I have BIG plans for that. We need a pumpkin, or two and mums. Who doesn't like mums? Need yellow ones, or orange ones, or red ones. And then there is the wreath.

As the mother of a 4-year old I have to let Little Man have a suggestion about the décor. He LOVES the decorative pumpkin and carries it around the house. He loves the bobble-head ghost to distraction and destruction. His suggestion this year: "Mama, we need to make the house pretty outside like we do for Santa." So, we will. As soon as it stops raining.

I'll post pictures when it's done.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Not My Kind Of Tree

Photo by foto36
www.freedigitalphoto.net

I like trees. Oak trees, maple trees, elm trees, cherry trees, aspen trees, all kinds except sweet gum trees which produce those annoying spikey balls and make me sneeze all spring. Yet even they are tolerable in comparison to the worst tree of all - phone trees. Phone trees are just evil. They are evil because they give you hope and then let you down, disappoint you, and in the end, the branches come crashing down and you are no better off than you were.

My recent experience:
Recording: Thank you for calling. For English press one. Para Español marque el nueve.
Me: *press one*
Recording: Thank you for calling. Main menu. To track the status of your order press 1. To change your order press 2. To pay your bill press 3. To report a problem with your widget press 4.
Me: *press 4*
Recording: If the problem is the color press 1. If the problem is the sound press 2. If the problem is the size press 3. For all other problems press 4.
Me: *press 4*
Recording: Your call is important to us. It will be answered in the order in which it came. Many solutions can be found online at www.widgets4u.com on our frequently asked questions page.
Me: *humming to the muzak*
Recording: Your call is important to us. It will be answered in the order in which it came. Many solutions can be found online at www.widgets4u.com on our frequently asked questions page.
Me: *humming to the muzak*
Recording: Your call is important to us. It will be answered in the order in which it came. Many solutions can be found online at www.widgets4u.com on our frequently asked questions page. 
Me: *humming to the muzak*
Recording: We're sorry but your request cannot be processed at this time. Thank you. *click*
Me: &*%$#@!%&@#

Two calls later and relentless pressing of the 0 did eventually get a person to answer the phone. Who, as it turns out, was as effectual at solving the problem as the phone tree was. However, the human was able to send out a technician who fixed my widget. The worst is when you are asked to input your account number, address, phone number, social security number, date of birth, mother's date of birth, father's date of birth, address of your first grade teacher's home currently and at the time she was your teacher, etc. And when you finally do and the person answers your call they ask you for the information all over again. Really? You don't have that? Then who was I giving it to?
 
The thing is, customer service is supposed to be service for the customer. I know this because I looked it up. But what customers want is not "service" we want solutions. We want our problems to be fixed. Quickly. Cheerfully. We only want to give our information once. We want a person to answer the phone.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

So, Now How Do We Get It Home?

Newest family member
Last week we had a big Saturday pancake breakfast complete with sausage, real maple syrup, juice, and coffee. Mmmmm. And after such a large breakfast you are left with ,yes, a HUGE mess to clean up, but also the urge to lie down and sleep it off. Which means that every bite of pancake then becomes a fatty deposit somewhere. Or, alternatively, you can go for a nice walk around the block. Which we did. Mainly because after giving Little Man maple syrup, there was NOT going to be any kind of napping.

Just around the corner from our house... Okay, down the street, around the corner and over the hill... there was an estate sale going on. Estate sales simultaneously excite me and depress me. I like the idea of finding great deals on treasures that should be preserved, but I am saddened because the person these treasures belonged to is no longer around. For whatever reason - death, financial difficulties, family difficulties, down-sizing - someone had to let go of their lifetime of stuff. And no matter how many times we may say, we need less stuff, our stuff is our stuff and we want it.

Anyway, while combing through this home that had once housed children (who by the looks of the items had grown up and gone off on their own) and pets, and readers, and someone who cooked, I spied an upright piano. It was hidden behind some things and was used as a surface to display other things and perhaps, for a number of years, it had done just that. Sort of like that well intentioned exercise machine that ends up being a thing on which to hang clothes.

We'd been considering getting Little Man into music lessons and quite possibly a keyboard of some kind. Here was our chance. A real piano at an affordable price. A quick call to my mother who knows all things piano since she has the music gene I lack, and she let us know what to look for. We examined the piano in a manner that I'm sure disturbed the Christian ladies running the sale and was unsuitable for viewing by small children. After we determined that it was indeed a good deal, Husband wrote the check. The lady said have it out by 3 pm. And home we went with a skip in our steps. We got a piano!

So, now how do we get it home? Oh, I know, it's not a big piano and it's an upright, lets call Allison's Husband and have him come to help hoist the piano into the truck, drive it home, and then hoist it out of the truck and up into the house. Ha ha ha ha! See how funny I am? Apparently, pianos, even small ones, are HEAVY.

So, now how do we get it home? A few calls to actual piano movers revealed a horrible fact of life. Moving pianos is EXPENSIVE! They actually wanted more money to move the piano than we paid for it. Oh dear. And none of them were available that day. Oh dear. One mover was kind and gave us a suggestion, which husband jumped on. We rented a furniture dolly from a move-it-yourself company. And with lots of stares and laughs and finger pointing (and I still check YouTube just to see if someone recorded it) Husband and two strong young men helping at the estate sale, pushed the piano up the hill, down the hill, around the corner, and down the street to the garage.

So, now how do we get it into the house? The poor piano had to live in the garage for a night while we pondered the physics of getting the piano up the front steps into the house. We asked Single Guy Neighbor to help and called upon Allison's Husband, again, to help. Single Guy Neighbor actually had a ramp (who knew!), Husband had plywood to put over the ramp (because doesn't everyone have a sheet of plywood in the garage?) And Allison's Husband had youth and vitality and willingness to help friends. And the three of these men were able to push the piano down the sidewalk and up the ramp-covered stairs and into the house.

We still need to get it tuned, but Little Man has enjoyed having it and has had a great time "playing the piano" especially while I'm on business calls or trying to get editing done. It is better than being hit in the head with a nerf bat though. Meanwhile, I try to pick out a song here and there and recall endless music lessons my mother tried to give me. I still break out in a cold sweat because the only part of the music gene I inherited is the wish I could make music and the ability to recognize music is playing. Other than that..... My wish is that Little Man will take to it and be able to make music.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Recalculating

I like maps. Atlases for the bigger view, state maps for the more close-up look, detailed city maps for getting around. It saddens me when we purge our drawers and files and toss out old maps we no longer "need." Yes, they may be outdated but that doesn't make them trash, that makes them history. How much fun is it to return to a place last visited years earlier and make note of how things have changed, been moved, roads redirected. We actually go to museums and libraries to see old city layouts and maps.

Cartography has been with us since the cave man drew in the dirt with a stick to let his neighbor in the next cave know how to get to the herd of mastodons while avoiding the sabre toothed tigers. Where would our world be without the early cartographers making rough sketches of coastlines and new worlds? And I believe, as a cartophile, that maps are works of art.

Image from Google.com
Our modern times have brought to us satellite views and Google Earth. We have Google maps, complete with street views. If you see the Google car, be sure to wave. And most cars and phones come with GPS (Global Positioning System) giving us not only maps of where we are, but directions on how to get there. AND THEY TALK!

We have named the voice of our car Joan. She is bossy and a tad patronizing when giving directions. Heaven help us if we pull off the highway for a rest stop or something to eat. She berates us with anger and impatience and says "recalculating." It's her way of saying, "you went the wrong way, stupid."

The other day, Husband mentioned something that went contrary to the schedule/plan/already-in-place actions (can't remember what it was and he was only making a spontaneous suggestion). I simply answered, "recalculating." We laughed and now it has become a "nice" way for us to say, "ummm... no."

But it's not just "no." It also means that things have to be rearranged. Sometimes, there will be an alternate route that is equally efficient and perhaps more scenic. Or there could be something interesting off the planned path worth exploring. Other times, no, there is no other alternate route at this time. Recalculate.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

By The Light of the Silvery Moon

Full Moon Over Water by Exsodus
www.freedigitalphotos.net
Every 29.5 days there is a full moon. The moon is bright and in some areas, when you are away from artificial lights, you can actually read by its light. Countless songs have been sung about the moon and there may have been a time or two when you've howled at it. It is the impetus for the transformation of men into werewolves. Yes, people, we did land on it. No, it is not made of green cheese.

Each month heralds a full moon but I bet you didn't know that each one has a special name. In fact, many cultures from the Celts to the Chinese. The common names that we use today actually come from the Algonquin tribes in New England to Lake Superior area. Here they are below with their corresponding month. You can read more here.

January - The Wolf Moon
This is the month that snow collects in the woods and the howls of the wolves can be heard echoing. Some tribes called this one the Snow Moon.

February - The Snow Moon
February is when most of the snow falls and gets deeper. Some tribes called this on the Hunger Moon due to the hunting difficulties.

March - The Worm Moon
This is the time when the ground begins to thaw and the worms begin coming to the surface for air and they begin moving in the ground. Other names are the Crow Moon, the Crust Moon, the Sap Moon, and the Lenten Moon (among the Christian settlers).

April - The Pink Moon
April is when pink phlox blooms and the flowers in the landscape begin to appear. Other names are the Fish Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, and the Egg Moon.

May - The Flower Moon
Flowers are in full bloom. Also know as the Milk Moon, and the Corn Planting Moon.

June - The Strawberry Moon
June is when the strawberries have reached their peak.

July - The Buck Moon
Deer start sprouting their antlers during this time. This moon is also called the Thunder Moon, or the Hay Moon.

August - The Sturgeon Moon
August is the month when sturgeon are plentiful and easily caught. Other names are the Green Corn Moon, the Grain Moon, and the Red Moon.

September - The Harvest Moon
This is fairly obvious, the crops and staples are ready to be harvested and put away. This moon is the full moon closest to the autumn equinox and sometimes occurs in October. It is also called the Corn Moon.

October - The Hunter's Moon
After the fields have been cleared and the game has fattened up for winter, it's time to hunt.

November - The Beaver Moon
The beavers are preparing for winter - fattening up, repairing their dens, storing food - and thus are active. Trappers are able to set their traps and catch the critters more readily. Also known as the Frosty Moon.

December - The Cold Moon
December starts winter and the temperatures drop. Another name is the Long Night Moon because the nights are longer than the days during this time.

Because the lunar month is 29.5 days, every two to three years there is an extra full moon. This moon is The Blue Moon.

So, now you know.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Think

Image courtesy of
www.freedigitalphotos.net
I like to think. I do it all the time in all sorts of places and about all sorts of thing. Many times, well okay, most times, where I am has nothing to do with what I'm thinking about.

Husband (looking over his menu): What are you thinking?
Me: Ummmm.... I think the lighter color of paint will look better in the bathroom.
Husband: Uh huh. I meant for dinner tonight. Here.
Me: I don't know, I haven't gotten that far yet.

Aside from synchronizing place/topic thinking there are different ways to think. There is Single Think and Joint Think. Single Think (ST) is what you do when you are single. All of your thoughts and anything you think up to do have no effect on anyone else but  yourself. The "Hey, I think I'll have ice cream and pop corn for dinner" thought and subsequent action is fine. It will not cause Child Protective Services to show up because you did not serve a healthy meal.

Joint Think (JT) is different and more difficult. It requires that after you have your thought you then have to have the we/us thought before any action can take place. "Hey, I think I'll have ice cream and pop corn for dinner. Wait! What would Little Man and Husband like? No. Wait. What would be healthy to have for dinner? Let's have chicken and rice for dinner."

As a child, I was taught to share with my siblings and to think about how the things I did or said would effect them and the family as a whole. That was reinforced in school - to think about others. Then, I became a teenager and my parents' tune changed. "You have to think for yourself. If your friend jumped of a bridge, would you?" And thus began Single Think and the movement away from Joint Think.

It's not as easy to move from Single Think to Joint Think as it is to go in the other direction. When Husband and I got married, it was very difficult (for both of us I'm sure) to change. "Sure, I'll go out after work for a drink or two with my colleagues. Wait. I should call Husband and let him know. Wait. Invite him. Wait. I should go home and make ice cream and pop corn for dinner. Wait...."

Joint Think is not easy or natural. And the best thing of all is when you find someone with whom your Joint Think matches - you have the same goals and you think in the same manner. It makes life easier. Fortunately, Husband and I share Joint Think. Just as awesome, my bestie and business partner, Allison, and I do too. And with two people to share the thinking with, I can think about more stuff!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Who's Your Muse?

Nine Greek Muses

Just about everyone has felt the need to create or make something. I write, Husband makes furniture, my mother plays the piano. And usually we refer to our "muse" speaking to us, guiding us, pushing us. Sometimes, we say our "muse" has left us. Yet, do we know who these wily women are and where they come from?

Muses come from Greek mythology. Supposedly, Zeus sweet-talked Mnemosyne and slept with her nine consecutive nights. The result were these nine daughters. Which is an important lesson to all young women that they should not get all weak when flattered by an older man. But that is a different story. Anyway, Mnemosyne gave her daughters to the nymph Eufime and the God Apollo to raise and to educate.

The muses worked together on some things and singularly on others, but they are responsible for the arts and sciences. So, who are they and what did they do?
  • Clio - Invented dramatic history and the guitar.
  • Euterpe - Invented musical instruments, courses, and dialect.
  • Thalia - Invented dramatic comedy, geometry, architectural science, agriculture, and the protector of symposiums.
  • Melpomene - Invented dramatic tragedy, rhetoric speech, and the island Melos.
  • Terpsichore - Invented dance, the harp, and education.
  • Erato - Protector of love, love poetry, and weddings.
  • Polymnia - Invented geometry (along with her sister) and grammar, and the protector of divine hymns and mimic art.
  • Ourania - Invented astronomy, and the protector of celestial objects and stars.
  • Calliope - Protector of heroic poems and rhetoric arts. She is the superior muse.
So who do you blame for abandoning you or pushing you? Depends on your art. Perhaps you'd have a couple of muses, or more, inspiring your creative impetus.

What I find MORE interesting is that the muses were women. They are at the same time an inspiration (how many love songs and poems have described a woman as an inspiration?) and a relentless nag. Is nagging and inspiring the same thing? What's the saying? Behind every great man is a pushy woman. So... behind every great artist/writer/musician/woodworker is a muse? Seems right to me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Put Together

I marvel at some of the women I observe while running errands and living life. These are not the scary "People of Wal-Mart" we see on those random emails or Facebook posts. No. These are the opposite. These are the people Husband and I refer to as "Put Together."

At 9 AM I take Little Man to school. I'm lucky if I can get dressed in clean clothes. I'm happy if I get a shower before taking him. I'm really happy if I can get a shower AND get dressed. And the best morning of all is if he's dressed, I'm showered and dressed and he's had breakfast. I don't know why, but even though I'm up in the wee hours of the morning to get Husband off to work, I just cannot seem to get "Put Together" by 9. Actually, I can't even get "Put Together" by the time I need to pick him up in the afternoon. Yet there they are, pulling into the parking lot in the morning all "Put Together" and so are their children. I bet they've even fed their children.

These women manage, somehow, to not only be showered and dressed in clean clothes, but their clothes match. Their jewelry is coordinated. They have on make-up that compliments their clothes and jewelry. Their hair is done - meaning brushed and styled in some manner. Sometimes it is curled and coifed and other times, for that "casual" day, pulled back into a ponytail (with outfit-matching clip or scunci). Their nails have been painted to coordinate with their outfit, and toe nails too. Equally coordinated are the children that spill from their washed and detailed cars.

How these women manage to do this AND get to school on time by 9 AM I don't know. I have a very full day, and I make my daily list of things to do - I get my work done, my crafts done, the bills paid, the dogs fed, and most of my scheduled housework done. I'm up at 5:30 AM and collapse from exhaustion after running non-stop at 11 PM. I don't know where I'd squeeze in the time to get "Put Together."

I could paint my toe nails and do my work while they dry but that would mean I'd have to sweep first so the dog fur wouldn't stick to the wet polish. I could paint my nails but I'd have to finish my work first so the polish wouldn't smear all over the keyboard. And while my nails are drying, who's cooking dinner, putting laundry away, or washing dishes? If I take the time in the morning to do my hair and iron my clothes and coordinate my jewelry and make-up, who's making breakfast for Husband and Little Man? Who's packing their lunches?

Is being "Put Together" an item to put on my list? Is it priority enough to shuffle things already on my list of things to do? Will my family and friends love me more if I am coordinated? Perhaps I'm missing the "Put Together" gene. After all, I missed the musical gene and the athletic gene. Or perhaps I'm missing an important accessory like a housekeeper or nanny. Even then, would I use that freed up time to get "Put Together?" Or would I use it to do more writing, spend more time on Pilcrow & Dagger, spend more time with my men, or doing crafts?

Actually, I think I'm pretty put together. Husband and Little Man are happy and well fed. The house is, well, not sterile but disease free anyway. My writing is going well - I'm finishing up the ghost writing project, scored two editing jobs, learned to do my own formatting, worked some on my rewrite, and started Pilcrow & Dagger. So what if I'm not coordinated?


photo credit: fervent-adepte-de-la-mode via photopin cc

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unpredictable

Painted Lady by Tina Phillips
www.freedigitalphotos.net
The Butterfly Effect, or the Chaos Theory, is the thought that a small incident will cause cascading events that result in exponential actions or events. The example, of course, is the flutter of butterfly wings will set off triggers that result in a hurricane down the road. As a writer, I like it. It makes for a great plot line. It can be used in a straight line or in multiple lines in parallel universe type plots. It can be used for time travel forward or back, flashbacks, dreams, etc. In real life, I'm not a fan.

I like predictability and routine and schedules. I have a HUGE white board calendar that hangs in my hallway. I have a kitchen calendar that hangs on the wall. I have a Franklin Planner that I carry everywhere and write everything in it. I have even started using the reminder and calendar functions on my phone. I plan everything and schedule everything literally months in advance. Surprises and spontaneity, I don't like. At all. Period. I don't understand them.

I get that things happen and come up (although I'm not sure why when there are planning devices everywhere) but I particularly dislike the concept of the Butterfly Effect. Just why should a butterfly fluttering in the Congo result in a hurricane taking the roof off my house? Rude! Just where is this butterfly now? I want to press it in my planner. What that is, is something, or someone, making their problem my problem and I don't believe they have the right to do that. And if they try, I don't think I actually need to participate - I can say no. I should say no. Especially when it comes to things that could have been just as easily scheduled with a little forethought and preparation by the first party.

Then again, from strictly an outside perspective there a certain Rube Goldberg-type beauty of the Butterfly Effect. Like intricate cascading dominoes or an M.C. Escher sketch. Who hasn't marveled at one of Escher's sketches and tried to find the logic in the absurdity? Who hasn't stood dominoes on end and then tapped the first one making them fall? Isn't it disappointing when they don't all fall (or is it)?

Maybe the key is to remain objective, to try to see the bigger picture. What is our Muse's plan, or God's plan, or the structure in the chaos? Perhaps on some level we are all butterflies to someone or something else that is bigger down the road. Or, perhaps we are in the midst of a hurricane waiting for the storm to pass. It makes for good musings. I'll have to schedule time to think about it.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Recovery

A couple of weeks ago I underwent surgery to be spayed. I'm okay with that. Little Man will forever be the only Little Man we have. Even if I didn't have my girl parts removed, he would still be the only off-spring because I am *ahem* over thirty-five. Okay, I'm over thirty-eight. Aside from no longer needing the parts, in my family bad things start to happen to the parts and they turn on us and become toxic. My parts were heading down that road. Rather than take a "let's monitor the progress of trouble" stance, my doctor offered me the choice but told me that eventually we'd reach the removal part. I was all onboard. Just get it over with.

Medieval Barber from Saturday Night Live
There's a whole lot of trust that goes on when you place your life in the hands of other people. I'm not good with that. I know me better than anyone else. I know what I need and what I can and cannot tolerate. When you go into surgery, you have to hope they listened and they are paying attention. And that is usually the case. But always keep in mind they are still practicing medicine and so were Medieval barbers. Yet it's after surgery that I dread.

First, there is discomfort from the surgical procedure. Then there's all the tubes, the uncomfortable bed, the really bad food, and lack of privacy and dignity. Most of the nurses are fine and know how to draw blood and hang a new IV bag. Just remember, they have a number of patients and you are just another alarm going off that needs to be checked. They don't know you and your "things to watch" unless they read through your chart. If you survive for two days, they let you go home. Ahhh, home sweet home.

For me, recovery is tortuous. I can handle the discomfort or pain and I stop the narcotic medications before I go home. If I need something to take the edge off, well, I'm good with ibuprofen. For me what is so difficult about recovery is the idleness and isolation. I can't drive. I can't lift or pick up Little Man. I can't easily go up and down the stairs. I can't sweep, or clean, or cook, or do laundry. I can't sit too long or stand too long or lay down too long. I don't sit still vey well and being idle drives me crazy.

Sure, I've done a LOT on the needlepoint project for church. Yeah, I finished knitting my sister's sweater. Yes, I started a scarf for the church knitting group that resumes in a couple of weeks. Yup, I am working on starting a business, working on the final touches of the ghost writing job I've been doing and I've done some revisions on my novel. But, I'm used to doing all that, and everything else too.

But what I miss most is Little Man. While I was in the hospital and during my recovery he has stopped needing me to lay down with him to fall asleep. He goes to bed on his own. He has stopped asking to sit in my lap and goes off to be by himself. He has stopped giving me random hugs. He stopped needing me. I don't know if I'll ever recover from that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What's In It?

I am the product of parents with allergies. Not weird allergies, just your run-of -the-mill allergies like hay fever and minor food allergies. Their combination, however, manifested in all three of us children allergies of the most serious kind - anaphylactic reactions. All three of us have adverse reactions to nuts. And also other things, but primarily nuts. Now, I can eat some things that my siblings can't and they can eat things I can't and the sisters can eat things my brother can't, and he can eat things we can't. All-in-all, we are an allergists dream case study! What are the odds? Well, 1.3% of the American population has this type of allergy to nuts and when one sibling has it, then the other siblings are 7% more likely to have it too.

photo by franky242
www.freedigitalphotos.net
This food allergy battle is one we've fought our whole lives. Both my sister and I carry Epi Pens in case of an emergency and all of us have gone to the hospital at one time or another because we inadvertently ingested something we shouldn't have. We've also endured the comments from the non-allergic people about our being odd or even people making fun of the nut allergy. I get it, they don't understand and don't care. The kind side of me shrugs it off. The bad side of me envisions putting a plastic bag over their heads and watching them struggle to breathe. That's what an anaphylactic reaction feels like. Maybe then they wouldn't joke about it and they'd take it more seriously.

In 2004 a federal law was pass (the Food Allergen Labeling Law) that requires packaged foods to disclose ingredients that are food allergens such as nuts,  soy, eggs, wheat, etc. This was expanded to restaurant menus too. Personally, I'm grateful for the notices on the restaurant doors that tell me they use peanut oil. Thank you Five Guys, Chick-Fil-A, Maryland Fried Chicken. I will never eat at your establishment - not because I dislike you, but because I can't. I am, however, forever grateful for the life-saving warning.

There have been a number of deaths due to the unknowing ingesting of allergens. Most notably was the 1986 case in Providence, RI. A restaurant used peanut butter in the chili as a thickener. A girl ate the chili, had an anaphylactic reaction and died before she could receive treatment. There are countless other stories, just Google it. Most recently there was a blog post from Christina’s Cucina  circulating on Facebook about a girl who had a reaction to a spice that was used in her food. The 2004 law eliminated the requirement for labeling spices since they are used in such small amounts as to not be troublesome. I disagree with that since I get tingling from nutmeg. Not enough to make me stab myself with the Epi Pen, but still I tingle unpleasantly. Anyway, this girl reacted to pink peppercorns in the pepper blend the restaurant used. Apparently, pink peppercorns are not peppercorns but a cousin of cashews. I’m glad I saw this post. I had just purchased a new bottle of peppercorn blend and wouldn’t you know it – pink peppercorns. Yup, I tossed it. No reason to poison myself in my own home.

Now that I’ve gotten the introduction out of the way, this is what I’m trying to say. Yes, I know it’s my problem. Yes, I know it’s my responsibility to stay away from the things that will hurt me. Yes, I know it’s my responsibility to ask what’s in the food. So, here it is. Ready? When I ask, it’s your responsibility to know what’s in the food and tell me. What? Yes. When I ask, “Are there nuts in that?” you must to be able to tell me yes or no. My life depends on it.

In case anyone is confused about what constitutes a “nut” or you were too busy rolling your eyes to read how serious this issue is; below is a list to clarify my question, “Are there nuts in that?” this is what I mean by “nut.”

Almonds
Hazelnuts
Filberts
Almond paste (marzipan)
Nutella (hazelnut/chocolate spread)
Pine nuts (watch for in pesto)
Almond extract
Frangelico
Cashews
Amaretto
Pistachios
Pink Peppercorns
Peanuts
Macadamia nuts
Coconut
Peanut butter
Brazil nuts
Gingko
Peanut oil
Nutmeg
Shea
Walnuts
Pecans
 
Walnut extract
Chestnuts
 

 Please don’t invite me over for fried turkey you fried in peanut oil. Please don’t offer me hazelnut coffee. Please don’t put ground walnuts in the crust of your pie or cheese cake and offer me a piece. Please don’t put nutmeg on my cappuccino. Please don’t put almond extract in your fruit pie. I do not want an amaretto sour or an Alabama Slammer. No, I’d rather not have pesto sauce. No Pad Thai noodles made with peanut flour or Mexican molé sauce with the peanut butter either. Please don’t offer me anything to eat unless, of course, you can tell me what’s in it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stuck Between A Dog And A Doorjamb

Our fixer-upper house is, obviously, an older house. A late 20th century home to be exact. A traditional, colonial revival. It is not one of the newer open floor plan homes where the living space is one giant room - living room, dining room, and kitchen - all together. Our home, having a traditional floor plan, is made up of lots of rooms - a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen - all compartmentalized. I was raised in a compartmentalized house. Husband was raised in a compartmentalized house. It's what feels right to us. It also makes it easier when Little Man is being little monster and needs to be in time out for a few minutes - we can put him in another room, away from the stimulus that caused his tantrum. Or he can continue his tantrum out of our earshot. Either way it's a win-win.

There are lots of plusses with separate rooms. I can be banging and clanging in the kitchen and Husband can be watching TV in the family room and my noise won't disturb his viewing pleasure. Also, we can entertain and have people over for dinner and they aren't looking at the mess I made creating the feast. I can even put off doing dishes and kitchen cleaning after dinner and enjoy the evening because out of site, out of mind.


The down side to having separate rooms is doorways and entry ways. There are several passageways that seem to collect the family (Husband, Little Man, me, and both dogs) at precisely the same time creating a traffic jam. Usually at dinner time or when we are trying to get ourselves together to leave the house. It's like the Three Stooges.

To me it seems odd that we have this issue in our home and I don't know what to do about it. I don't recall this problem in my home when I was growing up. Maybe I need to reorganize the house so that there is one way traffic through the doorways and passages. But that won't work either. Perhaps in our fixer-uppering I should suggest to Husband expanding the size of these areas. If we remove the back staircase, move the main stairs, knock out the half bath and move it to the laundry hall where the back stairs used to be ..... I don't think he'll go for it. Maybe later, after we're done with the fixer-uppering and time has passed and it will be time for remodeling. *smile* As a writer I call it rewriting and revising. *grin*

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yes, Little Man, There are Red, White, and Blue Pirates

Last Friday our Little Man turned 4 years old. I can't believe 4 years have passed - it seems like such a long time but at the same time, it seems like no time at all. Perhaps that's because I am sleep deprived and my sense of time is all muddled. Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to involve him in his party planning so that he could have a party he'd enjoy.

Me: Little Man, what type of birthday party do you want?
Little Man: I want a red, white and blue pirate birthday party.
Me: A pirate party? Okay.
Little Man: No, Mama. *rolls eyes* A red, white, and blue pirate birthday party.

You can find red, white and blue 4th of July themed party items. You can find pirate themed party items. But red, white, and blue pirates? Well..... that's a bit more difficult. I was further hampered by the fact that I am not Martha Stewart. Husband found a website that had pirate party ideas that were helpful.

Pirate ship tree house adorned with red, white, and blue streamers
Photo by LeeAnn Rhoden

Fortunately, when it comes to pirates, Little Man has two very specific obsessions -- swords and treasure maps. That made a cohesive thread possible - treasure map invitations, treasure map thank you notes, treasure map cake. For the favors - inflatable swords (so no one would put an eye out), eye patches, pirate masks, pirate hats. These were all stuck in, yes, pirate buckets that were actually red white and blue! There were also poppers and pinwheels to celebrate our nation's birthday. And for fun there was a treasure chest piñata. Nothing quite like 4-year olds swinging a wooden sword as hard as they can at a swinging object. Duck!

It's amazing how much fun 4-year old boys can have with inflatable swords in a pirate ship tree house. It is also amazing how exhausted 4-year old boys can make their parents! Husband and I were zombies by the end of the day and I believe we slept most of the following day. This morning Little Man came to me with a question:

Little Man: Mama, can I have a birthday party tomorrow too?
Me: No. You have to wait until next year to have another party.
Little Man: Oh. Okay. I want a 4th of July, red, white and blue prince and knight party next year.
Me: Oh. Okay.

I'd better start planning. Time flies and I'm really not sure what day it is any more. Anyone have Martha's phone number?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Discontinued

Every now and then I go shopping. I don't like to go shopping so it's not often. Well, let me clarify - I don't like shopping for clothes and such. I DO like shopping for things like appliances, cars, furniture, houses, interior décor, bags (luggage and purses), and kitchen gadgets. But clothes? Not so much. The result of my not enjoying shopping is that I end up wearing hand-me-downs from my mother who DOES like shopping, or clothes I've had since college. And they look like I had them in college - out of style, frayed, faded, perhaps stained. And after Little Man was born, most everything I owned was stained with some sort of food, formula or bodily function of and infant/baby/toddler.

So, every now and then I go shopping. This last time I went clothes shopping it was at the behest of my wonderful husband who handed me the credit card with a smile and said, "I love you. Go buy some clothes." So, okay, I searched for the most economical method of buying clothes (coupons, online deals, etc.) and I shopped. I got several new outfits that will do for the summer. I'll worry about autumn and winter if they ever come back. Now I need new shoes. I really hate shopping for shoes because since Little Man was conceived my feet have swollen up and no amount of diuretics takes the fluid out. My once single w-i-d-e feet are now double w--i--d--e. And guess what? No one makes double wide cute shoes. I do have a pair of Nikes I like but I can't really wear them with my new dress to church.

Because I don't like shopping I tend to wait long periods between going. And once I've found something I like, when it's time to get something new I'll look for the thing I like. Recently I found myself in need of a new bra. I still need a new bra because I haven't gone to get a new on yet. I did go online to the store I purchased it from, and searched for the brand name and model number. Guess what - discontinued. What? Why?!
Photo by Salvatore Vuono
www.freedigitalphotos.net

That's just the latest discontinuance that has crossed my life. It's happened before with lipstick, eye shadow color, eye liner, hair brushes, shampoo, soap, perfume, air filters, blankets, upholstery material, pens, and light fixtures. Now I can add bras to the list. I know what you're going to say, "So, go buy something different." I don't want something different, I want what I liked. I don't like change. Besides, that would involve shopping.

See, it's not really the buying that bothers me; it's the shopping. Shopping involves going to the stores, searching through the shelves and racks, trying things on, thinking about the item and deciding if it's right/comfortable/looks good. It's too much like work.

Being discontinued is the message that you've become too comfortable. Life is too easy. You've been discontinued unless you get up and get out there and no matter how busy you are, go and find something else that is just as good. It's life.

Have you ever been discontinued? What was it? What did you replace it with?

On a new note - I have been able to link this blog site to my website www.leeannrhoden.com so you can read it there as well as learning all about me and other things.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Father's Day

Photo by Winnond
www.freedigitalphotos.net
Last Sunday was Father's Day. We spent that weekend with a trip to visit my dad and a whirlwind trip to the Virginia mountains where Little Man was born. Since Husband and I are not good with the gift-hint thing, Husband is still deciding what he wants for Father's Day. When he decides, he'll tell me, and Little Man and I will go get it. Or if it's heavy, Husband will get it. It may sound cavalier that we pick our own gifts, but it's not. When we get it, we get exactly what we want. And, being *ahem* over 35, our romantic expectations are more realistic. Even though Husband would probably be proud of his wife for knowing exactly what power tool would be perfect, I would be a little creeped-out if he knew the perfect purse.

What Father's Day is, is the appreciation of fatherhood. Fathers are important. I know that my dad was, and is, very influential in my life and someone I know I can always turn to for advice, truth, and support. Love you Dad! There has been, it seems, a message since the 1970s at least, that fathers aren't necessary. I think that explains the number of single mothers increasing in number. Depending on the source you investigate, the statistics show that as much as one-third of the children in the U.S. are born to single mothers.

So, these are the questions that pop into my mind:
  • Where are the fathers of these children? Why don't they take responsibility for their offspring?
  • Why would any woman want to be a single mom? It's hard work made harder without support.
  • What is the impact of fatherlessness on the children?
I think a lot of nonsense has been spewed in recent years in the media and college campuses that try to equate male and female roles. "A woman can do anything a man can do." "Women are equal to men." "Men can be equally nurturing in child care as a woman." Blah, blah, blah. While I don't dispute the equality of men and women, I say out loud, we are not the same. Our abilities and skills are not the same. Our minds are not the same. Our bodies are not the same. So, equal and equally important, yes. The same? No! Duh.

I know that when Little Man feels tired, sick, hungry, lonely, uncomfortable, or scared he will cling to me. And when Little Man feels like exploring, learning to do something, being physical, or playing he wants his dad. Why? because I nurture, coo, hold, sing, comfort, and provide calm consistency. Husband, on the other hand, provides strength, confidence, and surety. Our equal but different qualities provide Little Man with all his emotional needs.

Shouldn't we as a culture be concerned about the children? I don't say society because we do that already. We provide subsidized housing, day care, medical care, school breakfast and lunch, free education, etc. As a society we do provide for the children. Our village does help support the children when the families cannot do it alone. But as a culture shouldn't we strive for more than just child support? Shouldn't we say, "Hey, fathers are important." "Intact families are important." Shouldn't we recognize that it takes two - a father and a mother - to make the child and thus raise the child with their equal albeit different strengths? Isn't the emotional stability of the child just as important as its financial stability?

I haven't even touched on discipline. Mothers discipline much differently than fathers. And how do you discipline and soothe at the same time? Father's make more head-way in instilling appropriate behavior by being stern. Will there be tears? Probably. That's when mom steps in as support to the discipline, wiping tears, explaining that the child is still loved but the behavior isn't, how to apologize, etc. It take two.

Anyway, Father's Day is a day to appreciate the fathers in our lives and to let them know they are loved and needed and respected. Happy Father's Day Dad and Husband! I love you both!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dumbing Down is Dumbing Down

I was a Language Arts teacher. That means I tried to instill in my students the art of language. What? Yes, the Art of Language. Language and the proper use thereof is an art; and not to be taken lightly. Our English language has structure, and rules, and exceptions to those rules, and syntax, and parts of speech, and vocabulary. When all of these come together correctly, we have the ability to express, either succinctly or verbosely, marvelous ideas and stories.

Our language, which is indeed a living, breathing thing, changes over time. Change is not necessarily bad because we can create new thoughts and ideas with new words. For example, 200 hundred years ago the word microwave was not in our everyday usage. Today, we just pop something in the microwave. There are a multitude of words, or combinations of words, that have come to be because of technology and growth and development that have enriched our lives. Who wouldn't want to x-ray their arm to see if it's broken? Who hasn't felt the thrill of watching the space shuttle launch?

Still, some change is not good. No, we no longer speak the English of Shakespeare but wouldn't it be nice if we could just bring back the accent mark? It's the difference between aged and agéd. It's more poetic. And what of vocabulary? You don't feel nauseous, you feel nauseated. You didn't stop the road widening project, you thwarted it. Try using impetus instead of reason. And perhaps you aren't merely good, perhaps you are superb. Words have meaning and nuance and they should be used to bring life into what you are saying or writing. Structure is important too. You must precede a pronoun with an antecedent. And you did NOT go to the movies with Jimmy and I. You went with Jimmy and me.

All languages change and mutate which is why we speak American English and not British English or Australian English or South African English. But it doesn't have to change in the negative. What happens is slang and jargon take over and you'll see parents speaking incorrectly in the home and not correcting their children. Even teachers will speak "relaxed" language rather than setting an example. I don't know how many times my mother corrected us in our speech.

Worst of all is the adoption of text language in well, text. You know, typing "RUOK" rather than "are you okay." In a text, or tweet, this might be appropriate, but in a written (or typed) email or letter or essay, it is not OK. It does not make me LOL. Sadly, these short cuts have diminished our ability to spell, use grammar correctly, or to even convey the correct sentiment because of our dumbing down of vocabulary into abbreviations. Perhaps this is why students struggle so desperately with the SAT analogies section.

This is the great divide in our society. There are few successful businessmen or professionals who fail to use an advanced vocabulary, correct grammar, or put together coherent thoughts. You simply don't make it among that ilk without doing so. And you won't really be given the opportunity to prove yourself if you can't express yourself.

So, so don't dumb down, smarten up. Spell your words, use your vocabulary, learn a new word every day and use it in a sentence at least once. Stop using abbreviations and slang and keep the art in our language.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Under Dogs

It is the American tradition to route for the under dog. Why? Because we are the under dog. Who'd have thought that a rag-tag group of merchants and farmers could have held off one of the best armies in the world in the late 1700s? But we did. And we did it again in 1812. Who doesn't love a rags to riches story? The small-town kid making good? The guy building a multi-million/billion dollar business (Microsoft, Amazon, Apple) in his garage?

Last Saturday the Belmont Stakes was run. This year there was a chance at a Triple Crown winner in California Chrome. He won the Kentucky Derby and a few weeks later he won the Preakness. He was the under dog. He was bred by a mare no one wanted. His owners, who are blue-collar workers, scraped together from their savings and retirement $8,000 to purchase the mare and another $4,000 to breed her. And for a measly investment of $12,000 they produced a foal that had the spunk and fortitude to rise above his humble beginnings.
Image from bloodhorse.com

And rise he did. He came from nowhere; against all odds; against the careful, expensive, pedigree breeding done by those who have themselves been carefully bred into the equestrian world. Who'd have thought the blue-collar would win over the blue-bloods? America cheered for him when he won the Derby. America roared when he won the Preakness. America put money on him to win the Belmont. We wanted him to win, we needed him to win.

He didn't win. Our hopes were crushed. Our expectations unfulfilled. That happens sometimes. Remember, to be the under dog, you have to lose sometimes. With all the attention that California Chrome was getting, and the love he was receiving form the entire horse racing fandom, didn't that by definition make him no longer the under dog but now the favorite? Didn't that make every other horse that raced that day the under dog? So, with the win by Tonalist, didn't the under dog actually win?

Anyway, congratulations to Tonalist for a race well run. Congratulations to California Chrome for giving us hope and reviving the thrill of the race. As my Dad once told me, "we know who the real winner is."

Friday, June 6, 2014

So Much To Do

We are at the end of the first week of June and just getting into the swing of summer. The temperature is rising and the humidity is increasing. My favorite parts about summer are the sounds and smells. The sounds of sprinklers ch-ch-ch-ing in the mornings, evenings bring the buzz of lawn mowers. Everywhere is the sound of children squealing and laughing. We live close to our neighborhood pool and I can hear the splashing and giggles and life guard whistle. There is the smell of wild onions and chives and cut grass, and wafting through the air the aroma of meat on a grill. Fireflies and stars light up the nights, a bright sun lights up the day.

For us, June is a busy month. It is the first full month of summer and the "Summer of Fun." The Fun Bowl is still full of slips of paper with activities to be selected. The BIG ones - zoo, aquarium, children's museum - are still to be pulled out. This week we went berry picking, made an angel food cake, went swimming, went to a magic show, and attended a birthday party. This is on top of practicing making Little Man's bed and getting dressed himself.

And speaking of birthdays - this is my father's birthday month (happy birthday Dad!). Last year my siblings and I threw him a BIG party. This year he mentioned that he was looking forward to the 2nd annual birthday celebration. Ummmm... sorry, Dad. This year Little Man turns 4 and he told us in no uncertain terms that he wants a 4th of July Pirate Party. Well, who doesn't? So he gave me his invitation list, we made invitations and mailed them out. Now all we have to do is wait for the RSVPs to come rolling in. In the meantime, he has chosen three different cake styles he'd be happy with. Oh my.

June is also the month for Father's Day. And since Husband and I are not good hint givers/takers, Husband has told me what he wants for Father's Day. There are two items on his list and I get to choose which one to get. I think I know which it will be. Now to actually get it in time for Father's Day. Sometimes I lose track of time and forget to get cards and gifts on the correct date - I'm usually a day or two behind. I plan on being late to my funeral too.

Tomorrow is the Belmont Stakes. It is the third race in the Triple Crown and all I can say is GO CALIFORNIA CHROME!! I'll be watching and cheering. Will you?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bags

A while back, on a different blog, I wrote about my love of bags. I love bags, all sorts of bags - luggage, purses, canvas bags (the bigger the better), backpacks, diaper bags - you name it, I either have it, want it, or covet it. I referred to myself as a bag lady because at any given time there are bags all around my spaces in my house because I use them as organizational tools. I have a knitting bag that contains current projects. Each project has its own bag to keep them separated. I have a computer bag when I need to take my laptop with me. I have a writing bag that has binders and folders in it of ideas and scribblings. The pool/beach bag hangs on the coat rack at the ready stocked with towels, sunscreen, and toys. Wherever I go, I'm usually toting a bag (sometimes with more bags in it) that contains something to keep me busy.

There is one bag that gets more abuse and neglect than any other bag is my purse. I know women who change out their bags to match their outfits. I know women who *gasp* don't carry a purse. I know women who manage to have the same purse day in and day out, yet it rarely shows any wear and tear. I haven't been able to find a purse that suits my needs perfectly let alone several to match a number of different ensembles. My poor purse looks like it went three rounds in the gorilla cage - cracked leather, frayed seams, missing zipper pulls. And just who are these women that can carry the cute dainty purses? And no purse? These are not human women.

Swiss Gear SA1908
Image from www.amazon.com
I thought I'd prepare for summer and the "Summer of Fun" activities with Little Man and look for a backpack that could be a purse/carryall where I could carry my laptop/knitting/book/notebook/water/snacks/purse stuff/Little Man needs AND keep my hands free. Alas, that is not the case. I realized that such a contraption would be more of a piece of carry-on luggage. In fact, the closest thing I could find was a Swiss Gear SA1908. Heck, why not just keep carrying the diaper bag?

For the summer and the "Summer of Fun" activities, I have returned to an old stand-by backpack/purse I used in the old days when Husband and I would go on motorcycle trips. It's roomy but not too big. I wear it like a backpack and thus my hands are free. It's leather so it is durable and water-tight, at least in a quick rain shower. It does not hold my laptop, knitting, book, notebook, snacks, water bottles, or Little Man stuff. I still need an extra bag for those things. Sigh.
My current purse for the
Summer of Fun

And this is my problem. At the end of this "Summer of Fun" I will need to transition from the backpack purse to something more autumnal. Dressier perhaps. And right now I don't have anything in my closet that is suitable. The purse I just vacated is in no condition to return to.

Fortunately, I LOVE shopping for bags. Husband is sweet and offered to get me a purse for my birthday/anniversary/Christmas/Mother's Day/ just-because-I-love-you gift. However, a purse is personal and can't be a gift. I have to feel the purse for it to be right, the same way a man needs to feel right about a new wallet. A purse isn't just another bag, it's a part of me. I am a bag lady after all.

Update on the "Summer of Fun." We went to the Georgia Renaissance Festival last weekend and Little Man got to see knights, princes, kings, queens and all sorts of medievally-garbed people. It was also pirate day so there were a multitude of pirates, male and female, wandering about. There was one Roman soldier too; I don't know why. We have also attended a magic show which was exciting and this week we go berry picking and we will make strawberry shortcake. Little Man is having fun and keeping busy. I'm exhausted.



Friday, May 23, 2014

Something Wicked

Photo by Ambro
www.freedigitalphots.net
There is a disturbing trend that I've noticed in our culture. Husband has noticed it too. It isn't the rising cost of gasoline or groceries, although that is also concerning, but the seemingly decreasing ability of our younger people to do simple troubleshooting and follow through.

I'm sure everyone has encountered this problem in the now popular centralized customer service centers. Back in the day, when customer service was local, it seemed like our problems were taken, well, seriously. If you had a problem with your refrigerator, you called the local repair company and you spoke with Irene. She would schedule an appointment, say Thursday morning at 10 AM, when Ernest would come to fix the refrigerator. Thursday afternoon Irene would give you a call to make sure everything was working alright. Later that week you'd run into Irene, or Ernest, at the grocery store, or church, or the hardware store. Now days, companies are BIGGER and in an effort to consolidate departments and save money they have centralized their customer service departments. Now, if you have a problem with your refrigerator you call the repair company at 800-and-more-numbers, and you talk to Darshwana, who barely speaks English, she makes an appointment to have a repair man come to take a look at your refrigerator on Thursday between 10 AM and 4 PM. Suddenly, Darshwana has a degree from Harvard Law and she recites the disclaimer where you are warned to be home because he won't wait, there will be a $75 service call fee whether or not it can be fixed. Further, you, the customer, accept all responsibility for payment, parts, and if it is determined that YOU are the reason the refrigerator is broken then you will pay another fee. The repairman may, or may not show up, Darshwana never calls back to make sure he got there, and unless you live in Mumbai, the odds are you'll not run into Darshwana at the grocery, church or hardware store. There is no incentive for her to care.

Husband and I have different views on this problem which he witnesses everyday at his work. He believes it's due to a disposable culture we've built. In the old days if something broke, you figured out what was wrong with it and you fixed it. Today, something breaks, you throw it out and get a new one. Even your big-ticket items like refrigerators and cars seem to be disposable. Perhaps, he'll muse, that it has something to do with our culture being so closely tied to technology. Something's not working right? Control-Alt-Delete. Undo. Reset. There's no investigation, no logical troubleshooting, no process of elimination until you come to a possible solution.

My view is that it's a cancer spreading in our education system and PC world. After all, even our President doesn't believe you can do that, or build that, on your own. Our schools don't teach critical thinking. Instead, they teach what to think rather than how to think. Ask any high school senior what a syllogism is and he won't know. Do they teach proofs in mathematics anymore? And why should our youth care about logical thinking, or troubleshooting? Why will it matter? There's no reward for trying or succeeding and they know this because they've played countless games for fun and not for competition or excellence. Everyone gets a trophy after all. It's wicked in the evil sense.

Hopefully, Little Man will understand that we expect him to be excellent even though his classmates may accept status quo. Hopefully, he'll understand why we'll keep insisting he try and then try harder and tell him that we know he can do whatever he sets his mind to do; he simply needs to set his mind to doing everything. Hopefully, Little Man will keep score and aim to win. And even if everyone gets a trophy, hopefully he'll play to earn it.

What are some of your experiences with customer service/troubleshooting/follow through stories?