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


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

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 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 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 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.