Friday, July 27, 2007

Does This Chest Make Me Look Like A Boy?

"36 D and I am playing Greylag the gander in Denton Community Theatre's production of HONK JR. Go figure!"
Erin, my very girl-shaped girl has played a male in two of the last shows she has done. Greylag is not nearly the stretch that Ito, the Japanese house boy, was in MAME. It is amazing what make-up and Ace bandages can do. I guess that is why they call it acting. She does have a cute red-headed wife in HONK.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Just Be Quiet

Remember that lesson that your mother taught you, If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all? I remember it because I learned it the hard way - many times. Today is one of those days where I have nothing particularly good to say so I should say nothing. However . . .

  • The refrigerator, that was "fixed" a month ago is again covered with ice on the freezer side. I have to be up and drssed at 7:30 for the repairman.
  • I spent two hours last night with an electrician trying to trace a short in a circuit.
  • I am having trouble printing photos - the color on my printer is not matching the on screen at all. (Same printer, new problem)
  • The current issue of Spirit of Knitting is not done.
  • The dogs have shredded an entire dog bed's worth of foam on my office floor. When that ceased to be fun, they shredded paper. Who needs one of those fancy electric shredders anyway?
  • My schedule the rest of the week sucks.
  • I am leaving on vacation on Sunday. Praise God! However, I may be going naked because I have not done laundry in . . . .I can't remember.
  • Not only are all my clothes dirty, my house is filthy too.

You probably get the picture. Nothing terrible is going on, just several things that are a pain in the butt.

I suppose I should stop complaining and go do something about all the things that need to be done.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Miracle

If you ever have a day where all seems dark and dismal, here is a story that ssays that there is still good in the land.

I had a phone call from Alissa today saying that she had received an email from TSA at Logan Airport saying that they needed to reach me concerning a lost item. As far as I knew, I was missing nothing. And why did they contact Alissa? I did travel through Boston Logan on July 1st. Maybe I left a notebook or something that had a Knitting Fairy card or handout. Alissa forwarded me the email that she had received which had a phone number to contact TSA.

I called and a friendly man answered. He asked me if I was missing anything. I said, "I must be, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea what it is." A deep silence came over his end of the phone. I asked him if he could tell me what he had found. As it turns out, I had failed to pick up my laptop when I went through security. I had not noticed that it was missing because I almost never use it when I am at home. The monitor is much smaller than the one on my desktop, it is much harder for me to see. So, I have not even opened my computer bag since I returned from Boston. I would not have noticed it was missing until this coming weekend when I started packing for our upcoming trip to New Mexico.

That particular computer lists three users - me, Betty Kay, and Spirit of Knitting. The TSA people searched for Spirit of Knitting on the web. Our web page is not up and running yet, but it does exist. All correspondence goes to Alissa, or maybe it is Brad. Anyway, it does not come to me so this is the only contact information they could obtain.

AFter our conversation, the TSA officer emailed me two forms, one with shipping info so they could FedEx my computer home and one that stated that I had not filed a loss on the computer. I signed, scanned, and emailed the forms back to him. Within 30 minutes I received an email saying that my computer was on its way to Texas via FedEx. He sent the tracking number. It should arrive tomorrow afternoon.

Is that not an amazing story? I can't believe my computer was not stolen off the security line after sitting there for an unreasonable amount of time. Actually, it was probably swept away to make sure that it did not contain a bomb or something. I was flying right after all of the airport attacks in London and Scotland. After it was seemed harmless, someone went through the trouble to figure out how to contact me. I have identification on my computer bag, but not on the computer itself. I am impressed that they put forth the extra effort to find me.

I think that it is important for us all to remember that the person who turned in my computer to lost and found is the same person who is cursed by all those air travelers who are required to take their shoes off, empty their pockets, remove their belt, take off their jewelry, step to the side to be wanded, and place their computer in a separate bin. They really are not the enemy; they are on our side - the side of safety and honesty, at least in Boston.

This whole incident is even more amazing to me because back in May when Mike flew to Johannesburg, the security people in London made him check his computer bag. When he arrived in South Africa, both his personal laptop and his work laptop were gone. The airline refused to take any responsibility. Though he tried to file a complaint, ultimately he had to replace his own computer. The work one was covered by Accenture's insurance.

I suppose that the happy ending does not really come until after 3 pm tomorrow when I receive my computer in one piece. I am sure all will be fine when it arrives.

Miracles really do happen!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer School

I did something this summer that I never do. I agreed to teach summer term. I don't teach over the summer because I like being a lady of leisure and because the courses I teach are not offered during the summer. I really did not have "a class" this term; I had one student who essentially wanted tutoring.

He was a student who had been in my class during the long semester but dropped because he was going to fail had he not. His biggest problem was not that he was unable to grasp the material, but rather that he was so unsure of his skills that he convinced himself that he could not succeed.

During our summer meetings, I reintroduced the material from class by going back a little further than I normally do. This made a huge difference in his self confidence. With some of his insecurities now removed, we were able to make great strides. We had our last meeting of the summer today. He left ready to tackle the next semester of this sequence, which I also teach, in the fall.

Working with a student on an individual basis is a luxury that is not afforded to most teachers, or students for that matter, very often. In this case, I believe that this opportunity was the only way that this student could master the course content. I had the time to address his particular problems and focus 100% of our class time addressing his specific needs. Because this class was a skills class, this was crucial to his success. He left happy with his accomplishments.

He, however, was not the only one of us to have benefited from this summer school experience. It was a tremendous learning experience for me as well. I gained some real insight into the weaknesses that many of my students bring to my class from previous classes. I developed some new exercises to help this particular student, but they also have the potential to be helpful to many others. I learned how much faith a student can put in an instructor's ability to teach them. And, I saw how much an instructor's faith in a student's ability to learn can benefit that student.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Life Has Gone To Pot(ter)

I must confess that I am culturally illiterate. I am not a Harry Potter fan. I have not read a single book, and don't intend to. I have seen one, maybe two, movies but I would be hard pressed to tell you what they are really about. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that Hagrid is sexy in his own hairy way.

As not to have my children follow on my path of illiteracy, I have supported and encouraged their following of Harry Potter. At the recommendation of a friend of a friend, Brooke read the first book long before Harry Potter was as common a name as Bart Simpson. After reading the first book, Brooke was hooked.

The early books were all released in the UK before they were released here in the US. I know that I ordered at least one book from so that Brooke could read it before anyone here had it. This also meant that she read the British version. Not only are a few of the titles different "across the pond", but some of the language is also altered a bit. Reading the book in it's native tongue was a treat.

Another of the books was to come out in the US while we were on a trip to England. This did not play well with the then ten year old until we told her that it was already available in bookstores in England. We got this volume at Waterstone bookstore in Canterbury.

After the third book, Erin, who was then seven or so, became a Harry Potter fan though she was a little intimidated by the 500 page books. She listened to these early volumes on CD. When the fourth book came out, the CDs were about three times the price of the book. I told her she would have to wait until the price came down. She decided that it really was not such a big book. From that point on, I have had to buy two copies of every book.

Last night was no different. The girls decided that since the new book is the last, they would become a part of history and join all of those who were at the bookstore at midnight to purchase their copies. I was spared this adventure. Their Daddy took them. I think they all git home around 2 am. Both girls started reading immediately.

AT about 7:15 this morning, Brooke came in to my room and tossed her already devoured copy of the book on her daddy's nightstand. He left for South Africa this afternoon so he was able to take her book with him to read on the plane.

This is where I found her when I got up around 9 this morning.

When I went to check on the status of Erin and Harry, I found her still reading. She had fallen asleep for a few hours so she was behind her sister.
Unfortunately, Erin had to get up and go to the theater for tech day. The whole time she was there she was saying, "I'd rather be reading. I'd rather be reading! I"D RATHER BE READING!!" As soon as she got home, Erin assumed her position in the chair that her sister had since vacated and resumed reading. She has just finished the book.

We have a "no talk" rule at our house. No one can talk about the book until everyone who wants to read it has finished. Since I would not be one of those people, the conversation has started.

The girls are very different in their tastes concerning books and movies. The Harry Potter books are one place where they intersect. I am glad that they have both enjoyed the Harry Potter books and can engage in lively discussion about them.

I must also confess that we own the first book in American English, British English, French, German, Spanish, and Latin. And, they have each been read. Perhaps this is one of those things that is also an indicator that your kid is a nerd.

Are You Talking To Me?

Today's post contains another picture from my travels in the consumer world. I do not spend much time in the big malls anymore, but I made an exception today. It had to do with a gift for all those July birthday's I mentioned a few weeks ago. I don't know where my head was that I was actually paying attention to the marketing ploys as I made my way to my destination, but this one caught my attention. I guess they got their money's worth from the ad agency.

In case you can't read the cutline, it says, "A VEGAN DID NOT CHOOSE GREEN" it is an ad for Dell computers. I guess it caught my attention because of living with our family vegan and the fact that we are about to buy her a computer to take to school. I am fairly sure it will not be a pink one! And, I think she is leaning towards a Mac.

What I find amusing about this ad is the fact that the computer geeks are marketing to female vegan. (Okay, I realize that this a bit sexist but I am not sure even a guy who wanted a pink computer would actually get one.)
My blue-haired (really blue-haired now) vegan has worked so hard to embody the true essence of non-conformity. She does not dress "like the other girls"; she does not think like "the other girls"; she does not act "like the other girls". This way of life as kept her drug free and childless, so, suffice it to say, I am not complaining! I just think that it is hilarious that someone who has worked so hard to fly through life on the outskirts of society is the focus of what is probably an expensive ad campaign. Maybe there are more young female vegans than I know. Based on the menu choices at most restaurants, I can't believe that to be true. Maybe the same company that does marketing for Dell could work on the restaurant chains.
I believe that I said yesterday that I am often easily amused. This post is further evidence in support of that. Or, maybe it is evidence that I do not get out enough. That could be too. Maybe I am the average American driven by consumerism who is drawn into every ad gimmick that the marketing firms have up their sleeves. No way!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Not So Free Wheelin'

I will admit it - I am easily amused. As we were walking into Hobby Lobby this afternoon, the following caught my attention. And then, it made me laugh.

How often does one see a sign that says "NO SHOES WITH WHEELS" when entering a public place. The sign is referring to Heelys, a shoe with a wheel in the heel that creates a skate. These shoes have gained much attention recently, most of it negative. Doctors have warned about the dangers of such shoes saying that the unnatural position necessary to maneuver on the wheel in the heel causes children to fall backwards resulting in head injuries. The likelihood of this is augmented by the fact that most who wear Heelys do not wear protective gear.

But is it really necessary to post such a sign at Hobby Lobby? I will admit that the aisles of this store are lined with glass items for home decor. Even a slight bump into one display tower would create a huge mess. But why focus on the shoes with wheels? Almost anything with wheels in this environment could result in the same disaster.

Have you ever been behind a toddler pushing his own stroller through a store? That is definitely a recipe for disaster, but I do not see a sign forbidding that. Then there are those pushing their carts, paying attention, and still running into people and things. Why do we not ban shopping carts? Then there are those who just flat aren't paying attention to what they are doing, no wheels involved, who run into people and things. What should be done about them? Should all "space cases" be banned from public places? This is showing some promise!

I also had to laugh at the juxtaposition of the no shoes with wheels sign right above the handicapped accessibility sign. I am not sure what makes Hobby Lobby handicapped accessible. They do not have automatic doors. The layout is similar to that that a lab rat must endure. It is just as likely that a person in, or one who is pushing, a wheelchair will run into something as it is that the kid in roller shoes will. In fact, it is probably more likely because there are more people in wheelchairs shopping at Hobby Lobby than there are kids on wheels.

I suspect that the ban on Heelys is the result of an accident, possibly even a lawsuit, at some store. So as is the American way, we ban the problem item rather than learning how to deal with it properly.

The rebel in me wants to roll right back to the yarn aisle!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

TV Or Not TV

I was reading the Yarn Harlot's blog from July 16th. She had been deemed an uncool mom because she does not allow her teen aged girls to watch TV before 4 pm in the afternoon. I do not have the same rule per se, primarily because one of my girls is not awake during daylight hours and the other one demands much more social stimulation than sitting around watching TV. However, these things, though they do not cause "The TV Fight", cause other battles.

I went to bed last night, relatively early for me (10:45), having done the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. I awoke this morning to a sink full of dirty dishes. After ranting and raving for a good while at the father of the alleged, because said perpetrator was asleep of course, I left to take Erin to theater rehearsal telling the father that I expected the kitchen to be spotless when I returned. I really did not care how that was accomplished, I just wanted it done.

When I got home some five hours later, the dishes were done, but the counters were not cleared and cleaned. I was forced to rant some more at the now upright child.. Why can't you clean up after yourself? When you go to college next month, who do you think is going to clean up after you? NO ONE! You will not be allowed to use any common spaces because you are such a slob! If I wake up one more morning to a dirty kitchen when I went to bed with a clean one, you will lose your cooking privileges for a week!

Teenagers really hate it when their weaknesses are pointed out. And of course, there is always a comeback that is intended to make me feel like a stupid, incompetent idiot. How do you expect me to do the dishes when the dishwasher is running?! Hmm. Wait for it to finish? I can't do the dishes if YOU run the dishwasher when you go to bed. You are up all night; the dishwasher only runs for 90 minutes. I can't do the dishes if the dishwasher is full! Maybe you should wash them by hand. Deep silence fell upon the teen aged mouth. We'll see what happens . . .

So, cooking instead of watching TV has its drawbacks.

Erin has been re-reading the Harry Potter books in anticipation of the release of the last book on Friday, so she has not watched much TV either. I am not sure she has eaten at all during this week of reading frenzy. She has not even spent much time on the phone or instant messaging:however, she also has not done any of her summer reading for school or cleaned her room. But, Erin will be up to speed with Harry Potter.

Gone are the days when crayons and an endless supply of paper were all that was necessary for several hours of summertime entertainment. When she is watching TV, Brooke spends much of her time watching the tattoo shows on TLC (I think it is TLC.) She is fascinated with the entire process. Over the past few years, she has created a notebook with her own tattoo designs. Rumor has it that some of them have made it to the bodies of some of her friends, but I have not actually seen confirmation of this. Nonetheless, she keeps drawing them. My desire is that her fascination will stop with the designing and not extend to the wearing of tattoos. I am safe for at least five more months. I have tried to convince her that what seems (and looks) like a good idea at 18 may lose something in the translation to 60, 70, or 80.

BK told me a joke the other day about a woman who had a rose tattooed on her breast when she was young. Now, as a senior citizen, she says that it has become a long-stemmed rose. You get the picture.

Because she can't legally get a "real" tattoo and because Brooke likes to draw designs, she spends many of her waking hours drawing tattoos on her body with Sharpies. This has kind of an appeal. The colors are great and nothing is permanent. Because of this, I actually look forward to seeing what image she comes up with next. Some of them are quite intricate.

Here are the designs from a few weeks ago.

The amazing part to me is that she is able to draw them on herself. Sometimes she spends hours creating a design. After a shower, they are gone. The whole process reminds me of the sand drawings that the Tibetan monks take days to do and then they are gone in only a few seconds. The good news is that then the "canvas" is cleared for the next moment of inspiration.

So the TV thing, well, there are days when I am sure my girls spend too much time watching it, but all in all, I think it balances out. Thankfully, they realize that their brains may turn to mush if they spend too much time in front of the TV.

Tonight I will hope for either inspiration for a new tattoo design or mindless TV so that Brooke will not feel compelled to cook. Right now the kitchen is clean. It is in her best interest that it stay that way! She will starve if her kitchen privileges are revoked. Because you don't cook anything that I can eat! Should she reach the point of starvation, she will notice that the emaciated look, like age, has ill effects on body art.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Birthday Bash

Today was Mike's 48th birthday - not a monumental birthday. Well, I guess every year that a man lives without his spouse killing him is monumental in its own way. You would think that after being married for 24 years, it would be easy to buy him the perfect birthday gift. Wrong! He is the most difficult person I know to find a gift for. This is because he beats any woman I know at the shopping thing. If he wants something, he buys it. Since he travels so much, I have no idea what he has bought.

This year I put all of my creative energy into picking out the perfect card. You know, one of those with a perfect sentiment, one that reflects my deep feelings for him, one that upon reading he would know it was from me because no one else could possibly feel that way about him. On the front it read, "It's your birthday, and, well, I'm afraid I have some bad news . . ."

What kind of news would be bad for a 48 year old man?
  • I'm pregnant.
  • You are going to be a grandfather . . .and your daughter is only 14!
  • The cashier at Denny's just gave you the senior citizen's discount.
  • You are too old to shop at Old Navy.
  • I am ready to accept the "I'm too old for that." excuse.
  • The Jay Leno Show is on past your bedtime.
  • Now when you drive around in a sleek little sports car, rather than being whistled at, the woman will all yell, "mid-life crisis!"

All of these may be true, but the card said, "Apparently sucking in your gut like that has blown the hair off the top of your head."

The truth hurts some times. Well maybe it is not one of those sentimental cards. Do people really send those? According to my children, only grandparents send "that kind" of card - the ones with some sweet-as-sugar sentiment in some elegant font perfectly placed amidst the arranged pastel flowers. If you actually read the words you know that the person who sent it does not know you very well at all. If anyone in my family ever gave me one of those cards, I would know that I was dying or something. It just would not happen. It is simply inappropriate. At our house, love is expressed through sarcasm and bad taste.

Last night, I did bake him a spice cake from scratch, at his request. I even let him lick the bowl. When asked if he wanted the cake frosted, Mike said that he would rather have a dusting of powdered sugar. That makes it easy. The cake was sitting on the stove waiting for us to return from the casino, another wish of the birthday boy, to open presents and have dessert. On the way out the door, I noticed that someone had sampled it already. Unfortunately, that someone is black, has four legs, and does not have any experience with knives. Adidas helped himself to many bites out of the center of the cake. He created an indentation that looked like the outline of the United States. Had I been frosting the cake, I could have hidden his artwork, but powdered sugar just accentuated the North American shaped crater. I tried to do something nice; I really did. The dog just wasn't on my side! Maybe Adidas was mad because he did not get to lick the bowl.

Do you think that if I had picked out a nice mushy card, the atmosphere would have been a little different and the dog would have sensed that a canine sculpted cake just would not do for an occasion that required a card with pastel flowers and a curly font?

I will never know.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sad State Of Affairs

Over the past few weeks BK has been designing a baby bootie pattern in multiple sizes for the next issue of Spirit of Knitting. Because none of us has a recent memory of the real size of those tiny feet that babies come with, BK has been accosting mothers and babies in nearly every public place we have visited in the last week asking to borrow the babies' feet to try the booties. Though the pattern is done and the booties are knit, she is still scoping out babies.

This evening on our way back from Austin we stopped about an hour and a half away from home for dinner. There was a family with two small children. a girl about 3 and a baby boy about 9 months, seated at the table next to us. The baby kept smiling at BK. Once he was bored with that, he decided he was going to crawl out of his seat - a booster seat. We all knew that that was going to come to no good; however, we did not expect the "no good" that came.

In an instant, the booster chair slipped and the baby fell flat on his back onto a concrete floor and hit his head. His daddy jumped to pick him up. All I could think at that moment was Cry. Please cry! I have always heard that when babies don't cry quickly after a fall that the situation is not good. He did begin to cry. It seemed like it took forever but it was probably only a few seconds.

The parents took the crying baby outside. They returned a few minutes later and he had stopped crying. None of the staff at the restaurant seemed overly concerned. The parents were much calmer than I would have been if it were my child. I did hear the father ask if they had any Tylenol in the diaper bag. Mom gave him a dropper full.

There were three of us eating together, one of whom had been a nurse. She went over and asked if she could help; she looked at the baby and did not see anything immediately that was cause for alarm though she suggested that they take the baby to the hospital to be checked out just in case. They agreed and asked where the closest hospital was. They too were traveling and did not know the immediate area well. The closest hospital was about 30 miles away.

They asked that their dinner be brought to go. We asked our waitress if the manager had filled out an incident report. She was not the sharpest tool in the shed and it took a few seconds for her to figure out what we were even talking about. In a few minutes another woman, who did not look like she commanded much authority, came over and scribbled the people's name down on a piece of paper. I don't think that she was taking the whole thing very seriously.

The deal is, that these parents who were about to take this child with a head injury to the emergency room needed all the documentation that they could get because in this society, they are going to be treated as guilty of child abuse until proven innocent. By law, medical professionals are required to report incidents of this type of injury to CPS.

We were all sitting at the table knowing what kind of hell these people will probably have to endure. We did not want to say too much about this because we did not want to scare them so much that they would be afraid to take the baby to the hospital. We did give them our contact information and ask that they phone us and let us know how the baby was doing. Deep down, we knew we were giving them the information in case they needed us to tell the authorities what happened.

I realize that cases of child abuse and neglect occur way more often than any of us likes to think. Just last week there was an incident in Dallas where a toddler fell down some steps. His mother put a Popsicle on his head, went back to sleep, and woke to find her child dead. But, there has to be some way to deal with cases in a way where we don't assume that everyone is guilty.

I pray that the little boy we met tonight is OK. And, I pray that his family does not have to endure an investigation by CPS. I hate the fact that this is what the world has come to. This whole scenario has a level of paranoia to it that really makes me uncomfortable. I trust that this little boy was taken to the hospital to receive proper medical attention but I wonder how many children don't get medical help when they need it because their parents are scared of what might happen to them. Have we not created another problem with equally significant ill effects?

I guess it is better to be safe than sorry but I have to admit that I am glad that I am not the one having to convince the ER staff that the head injury that my child suffered really is from falling from a booster chair.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What's For Dinner?

"What's for dinner?" is a loaded question at my house. No matter what the answer, someone is going to roll their eyes and give me "that face". When Offspring #1. is a vegan and Offspring #2 is a carnivore, there is no way to please everyone. Husband leans more toward the carnivore side but sometimes it is possible to sneak in a vegetable or two. In an effort not to starve anyone on a regular basis (some nights one or the other resorts to cereal), we have "assemble your own dinner" meals - taco salad is a great example of this. You want meat? Have meat. If you don't, have beans. The choice is yours. However, even I get tired of taco salad and I am willing to alternate between the meat version and the beans version and call it two different meals Because of these incompatible eating habits, there are nights when we do not all eat at the same time, though most nights we do all sit down at the table together.

Tonight I managed to create a meal that everyone, including the dogs, was happy with. The current issue of Woman's Day magazine contains a recipe for Asian lettuce wraps. They are made with ground beef seasoned with Asian spices and brown rice. I know, you are wondering how this pleased the vegan. She wanted me to make zucchini "hash browns" (shredded zucchini that is seasoned and cooked in a skillet as you would hash brown potatoes). She substituted the zucchini for the meat in her wraps and the rest of us, minus Offspring #2, ate it as a side dish. We also had an awesome loaf of homemade (by Offspring #1) sourdough bread. George Bush would be so impressed with our family mealtime - not our conversation, just that we were all here together.

We all sat down together and everyone was happy with what was on the table. What a feeling. There were no real leftovers to speak of - a spoonful each of the meat, the rice and the zucchini. I mixed it all together and gave it to the dogs. They too were licking their chops, and the empty plates as I placed them in the dishwasher.

This seems like such a simple accomplishment, and it may be, but it rarely happens around here so I am celebrating!

I am leaving for an overnight trip tomorrow. I am sure they will all resort to cereal and other random culinary combinations that may or may not contain any nutritional value. But hey, I am not the responsible adult for approximately 36 hours. Anyone can live on cereal for that little time and not suffer any long term effects.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bad Mother

Okay, I have done it this time. I am no longer a candidate for Mother of the Year. All my chances gone in a mere 24 hour period.

I know that parenthood is not easy and that we all make mistakes. For the most part, it has been fun and not too painful for me. I know that I am extremely lucky that my kids have rebelled by being a blue-haired salutatorian and a stage diva who sometimes masquerades as a math genius. Believe me, I know that things could be much worse.

That said, I must now confess my two great parental failings of the last 24 hours.

FAILURE #1 Last night, Erin wanted to go to the movies with a friend, a girl. The girl wanted to go to the movies with friends, Erin and a boy. Erin was okay with being the third wheel. The problem is that for religious reasons the girl is not permitted to date. So, Erin was a distraction so that the girl's parents did not know that she was going to the movies with a boy. Every bit of this I knew as we strolled into the theatre. I played along. Should I have done that? Have I betrayed the parental tribe? Should I have said something to the girl's mother?

I am grateful that Erin felt that she could share with me what was really going on. Though I don't condone lying or sneaking around behind your parent's back, (I know, I know, actions speak louder than words. But I can explain!) I felt like this situation was relatively benign and tattling would cause much more trouble than it was worth.

The kids, Erin, girl, and boy, were waiting in the lobby of the theater when we came out of our movie. Erin and the girl walked out with us. Boy went out a side entrance because girl's mother was waiting out front.

As we were leaving the parking lot, Erin got a panicked phone call from boy because he was afraid that girl's mother had seen him. What was he going to do if she got in trouble? It is nice to know he has a conscience. In trying to escape the theater through a back entrance, he also got lost. Erin was on the phone with a panicked, lost boy trying to give him instructions to get home. I felt sorry for him. I found myself giving Erin all kinds of scenarios that would account for boy's presence at the movies - none of which included meeting the girl. I was teaching my daughter how to lie! What was I thinking?

Truthfully, what I was thinking is that I am glad that my kids tell me the truth and that their lives are not governed but such strict rules that they feel it necessary to lie about what they are doing. As it turned out, no one got in trouble. Girl's mother did not know that girl met boy at the movie. That is our secret.

FAILURE #2 For several months, Brooke has been making noise about going to the beach for a week with four other girls who graduated last May. My first thought was over my dead body. But, I refrained from immediately responding that way. I simply said that I did not think that such a trip was a good idea. In typical teen aged fashion she came back with the proverbial WHY NOT!! Let me count the ways:
  1. You swore off the beach when you came home from that 7th grade trip with second degree burns from sunburn.
  2. You have not seen any of these girls this summer and you have never socialized with them, never, outside of required school activities.
  3. You have very little in common with them.
  4. You don't own a bathing suit.
  5. Chasing boys is not your favorite hobby.
  6. I don't trust a couple of them.
  7. I don't want you driving 9 hours
  8. I don't want you driving 9 hours.
  9. I don't want you driving 9 hours.
  10. I just don't think this trip is a good idea. (This is based on mother's intuition but I knew that wouldn't fly so I kept that thought to myself.)

Brooke actually agreed with points 1-5 but said that none of that really mattered. As to point 6, she said that I did not have to trust them; I had to trust her. The deal is, I do trust her but I really don't trust them. Brooke reminded me that in a few months I was sending her to Chicago where I would not be able to choose her friends or mandate her comings and goings. True, but that is different. (Give me a minute and I will figure out how.) To points 7-9 she assured me that none of them has ever had a wreck. To which I replied, "there is a first time for everything." I found myself relying heavily on my gut feeling that this trip was just not a good idea.

I don't think I have failed as a parent so far. Here it comes.

In the past week Brooke has misplaced/lost her Ipod. She has the same kind of relationship with her Ipod that a toddler has with a blanket or a favorite stuffed toy - they are nearly inseparable. After we all tore apart the house looking for it, I told her that I guessed she was going to have to buy herself a new one. Through a voice much like that of a whiny toddler, she said, "I don't want to spend my money on a new Ipod. I want you to buy me a new one." Yeah right. You have graduation money. You buy it.

Then the bad parent gene kicked in. I have a solution to both of our problems. I told her that if she would agree not to go to the beach, I would buy her a new Ipod. Without hesitating, she said, "Deal!" I have probably been had because I honestly think that when it came time to really make the trip, she would have backed out. But this way, I don't have to worry anymore. We are both happy. Brooke will have a new Ipod and I will not have to worry about her on that trip. That is enough for me. To hell with the Mother of the Year thing . . .

Monday, July 9, 2007

No Mistakes

I just got home from seeing the movie Evening with Meryl Streep and Vanessa Redgrave, as well as a host of other fine actors. The screenplay is based on the book, of the same name, by Susan Minot. Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours was also involved in the screenplay. This movie probably falls into the category of "chick flick" but not in the same way as most that earn this designation. It is not a boy meets girl, they fall in love, and live happily ever after movie. Rather, it is a film that, if you really watch it, asks some difficult questions.

Without giving away the entire plot, because I recommend that you see it, I will say that the overarching message is that there are no mistakes in life. For the hour or so since I left the theater, I have been pondering this.

Really? There are NO mistakes in life? What about people who are divorced? Or in prison? Did they not make mistakes of one kind or another?

At this moment, I have come to the notion that maybe there is a distinction that must be made between a mistake and a bad choice. The two really are not synonymous.

Several years ago when we took the labyrinth into a minimum security women's prison, I listened to several of the inmates as they told their stories. I realize that much of what they said may have been fiction, but nonetheless, I remember thinking that all of us are just one bad decision away from being in their shoes. That is a scary realization for someone who is such a goody-two-shoes that I feel like helping myself to free refills in a restaurant is somehow stealing. Just one bad decision away from being in prison. I suppose that some of these woman may feel that they made a mistake. For whatever reason, their life took a path that led them to prison. In an ideal world, they will learn something from the experience and return to the world outside as a person who is changed for the better. I am not a Pollyanna; I know that this is not always the case. I did say in an ideal world.

Have people who have divorced because they married the wrong person made a mistake? A bad decision? Perhaps it takes having spent time in the wrong relationship to appreciate the right one when it comes along. Again, all the experiences that we encounter on our personal journey are important to forming the person that we ultimately become. There is no guarantee that the decisions we make, even the right ones, will not be painful or difficult. They very well may be, but that does not mean that they are a mistake. In fact, it may mean quite the opposite.

As I go to bed tonight, I am reliving my 45 years asking myself, "Do you think that anything that you have done in your life was a mistake?

All of these thoughts are definitely unfiltered. (This may be translated as rambling or not well formed. ) Perhaps I should have spent more time thinking before I chose to pontificate on this whole matter. All I can hope for is that if I said something really stupid, it will be regarded as a bad choice and not a mistake.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Responsible Adult

Yesterday was the first celebration of the many birthdays I mentioned the other day. It is amusing to me to see how adults choose to mark off the years. We celebrated Gerald's 35th birthday. Though finding the perfect gift could have been problematic, (What would you get a middle-aged former drag queen?) Gerald is just a big kid at heart. So, we got him play-dough. It was a cool set! It was like Mr. Potato Head except that rather than coming with a big plastic potato to stick all the crazy body parts in, you get to shape the body yourself with the play dough. A fantasy come true! He probably would have been happy with a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, but the blonde pony tail moms get a little nervous when a bunch of adults come in to play games, so we went to the adult version of this kiddie restaurant, Winstar Casino just across the Oklahoma border. As we were making our way there, I realized that this really was kind of a grown-up thing and I don't do many things that can be considered grown-up activities.

The first thing that made me feel like an adult was that we did not even leave town and head for the casino until about 10, the time I am usually putting on my pajamas (though I am rarely in bed before 12 or 1.) As I mentioned in a recent post, I am not much of a gambler - not with important decisions and not with money. But what the heck, I don't do this kind of thing often.

The last time I was in a casino, you put your quarters in the machine, pulled the arm, and watched your money disappear. At Winstar, you get a card and add money to your card. The thrill of pulling the arm, and that little bit of exercise, are gone. I had decided that I would put $20 on my card and that was it. When we got there, I discovered that they had penny machines. Oh Good! $20 goes a long way when you are only betting a penny at a time. Granted the winnings aren't nearly as big,when you play pennies, but neither are the loses.

Liz and I headed for some game that involved frogs and fireflies. I never quite figured out what combinations won, but in about an hour I had racked up $44.06 on my card. I know that most of that came from a $20 firefly. I kept playing until my card was down to $40. I stopped then figuring that doubling my money, even if it wasn't much, was a pretty good deal. With that win, I made back the money I spent on dinner for me and Erin and got home with five dollars more than I left with. It is hard work being a responsible adult!

After my big night out, I slept away the bigger part of this morning. Okay, I admit that was kind of a teen-aged thing to do. Oh well, regression happens to the best of us. I did act responsibly this afternoon and worked on the models for the next issue of Spirit of Knitting. After knitting for a couple of hours, I went outside with the dogs. I sat out on the deck and enjoyed the late afternoon sun and a little breeze that brought the 99 degree temperature with heat index down to a tolerable 80 something. While I was sitting, thanking God that it was not raining, I realized how little I take advantage of this outdoor space. At this point, the only thing that was missing was a beverage.

I headed inside to fill my tea glass. On my way to the kitchen I walked by the wine rack. This rack holds bottles of wine that have been around for 10, maybe 20, years. We have received many bottles as gifts but the thought of drinking them never really crosses our minds - until today. I decided that since I was having a weekend of adult behavior (thankfully the casino was dry so no liquor was allowed on the premises)I would have a glass of wine before dinner. I picked out a bottle based on the eye-catching label not on the wine itself because I know so little about wine that the information on the label was almost meaningless to me. I poured a glass for me, BK, and John. Just like grown-ups, we sat outside and participated in cocktail hour. We followed it with brats on the grill and chips so the adult behavior did not last too long.

I enjoyed a weekend with some variation from the norm but I don't think that I can continue to masquerade as an adult for too long. The fact that I am about to finish writing this and press "Post" so that I can play a few rounds of Zuma before going to bed suggests that the kid in me is a whole lot stronger than the grown up.

To adulthood I say, "Are we there yet?"

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thinking Of You. Really, I Am!

I am often made to feel guilty because of all the December birthdays that occur in my family. (The girls weren't due until January: it really isn't my fault) However, those of you born in July far outnumber us December babies, though December babies are still best. As I began looking at the calendar for this month, I realized that I have to buy birthday gifts for nine people. They range from my dad and my husband to my best friends, adopted family members and friends of the girls. It is almost like Christmas in July - without the crowds and the terrible arrangements of holiday music being piped through all of the stores. This should make shopping tolerable.

To me, birthday shopping is fun. I believe that it is an opportunity to really think about the person whose life you are celebrating. The gift you give them should reflect how you feel about them and the relationship that you share. I had already done some shopping as I have come across things that remind me of someone, but today was the day set aside to do the bulk of it. Several gifts have to be mailed so it is in my best interest not to wait until the last minute.

Over time I have developed a strong dislike for chain stores. So, this morning we set out for some of the locally owned businesses in town. Shopping at these places means that the only thing that can be on your shopping list is serendipity. These stores never have the same thing from one visit to the next. I go hoping that I can find "just the right thing.", but not having the slightest idea what that might be In most cases today, I was not disappointed. I found several great gifts that reflect my relationship with each person. The places where I came up empty handed are the instances where I was looking for something very specific. I am sure that I became so intent on finding what I was looking for that I overlooked something that would have been equally as appropriate or possibly even better. I guess I will have to undertake the chance approach next time.

The one thing I do not want to do is resort to gift cards. I know that they are always appreciated, but gift cards seem so impersonal unless you know what someone wants and buying the actual item is not possible for some reason. On general principle, however, gift cards seem like a cop out. They say, "I did not want to expend the energy to think about and shop for an appropriate gift for you so you do it yourself." On the contrary, for teenagers who are attempting to build their independence, shopping with a gift card is a means to facilitating an understanding of the concept of just how far a dollar does not go. For them too, the shopping is part of the fun. But, is this also true for adults?

Let's face it, most of us don't really need anything in terms of material things. What we do need is to know that someone cares about us. This gets back to my belief that a birthday gift should be something that lets the birthday person know that I care about them. Often, this can be accomplished with something very simple - a book, a silly toy, a meal or a cup of coffee together, something handmade. The possibilities really are endless.

I hope that all those to whom I give birthday gifts this month will sense that I do care about you and cherish the relationship that we have. I promise not to give any of you a toupee or Relationships for Dummies. Aside for these things, anything is fair game. Beware!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Preparing For Independence Day

I am always fascinated by the segments on Jay Leno when he takes to the streets and asks average Americans questions that we assume are common knowledge. The ignorance of people in our country is astounding! I wonder what the responses would be if Jay were to ask, "Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?" I would hope that most people could at least get to the fact that it is Independence Day, but what does that really mean?

This celebration is a commemoration of the United States' freedom from the United Kingdom. 231 years later, are we still honoring the same thing? Maybe so. However, perhaps it would do us all good to think about what Independence Day in 2007 means. Have we achieved freedom, liberty, and justice for all? Be honest. We gained freedom from the English. Have we yet reached a point where all in this country are free? Does justice prevail. Consider the following:
  • Do we really have gender equality in this country?
  • Do people of color have ALL the same rights as their white counterparts?
  • Are gays and lesbians afforded the same rights as heterosexuals?

If we answer honestly, the response to each of the above questions is a resounding, "No." We do not live in a country where freedom is extended to every citizen. Though those who are considered "privileged" now constitute a larger percentage of the population than they have in the past, the lives of many of those who live in the United States are marked by a world of inequality and injustice. What can we do? Just as America fought for independence back in the 1770's, we must continue to fight for freedom and independence for those living in this country now. If you are a man, are you willing to fight and sacrifice to obtain equal rights for women? If you are white, are you willing to eat, sleep, work, live, pray by a neighbor who is black, brown, yellow, or red? Are you willing to fight for the rights of our homosexual brothers and sisters? If you answer no to any of these questions, then perhaps you do not yet understand what Independence Day really means.

As you gather with your family for picnics and fireworks tomorrow, remember those whose families are not recognized by this country and all those for whom justice and equality mean nothing. As you watch the fireworks illumine the dark night sky, may fireworks also explode in your heart and bring light to all those places where injustice and inequality are hidden by darkness.

. . . with liberty and justice for all.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


What Would Jesus . . .Yell?
This is an interesting question, but not really where I am going. WWJY sums up my last day in Massachusetts. Witches, Water, Java, and Yarn.

After getting up at 5:45 every day and playing for 14 services, yesterday afternoon was a time for a little free wheeling - literally. Joy, who has played the flute and John Michael, who has played violin, with me all week took off for a scenic tour of the area. Joy loaded us all in her jeep, with the top down, and we headed out in the sunshine and fresh ocean air - for a little. Water, Witches, Java, and Yarn!

We ended up in Salem, hence the witches. It was a beautiful New England town. I had seen many tourist brochures advertising the witch museum, but we simply drove through the town. I am not sure that any of us had enough wits about us to take in the history at more than a superficial level.

We made a big circle and headed back to downtown Beverly. As we were approaching the edge of the commercial area, Joy swerved into a parking lot. We had no plans to stop so I wondered what she was doing. When I looked at where we were, it was a yarn shop. I crawled over the side of the jeep and made my way inside. I was the only knitter on this little field trip, but John Michael and Joy were willing to humor me. John Michael talked to the resident dog and Joy, though not a knitter, soaked up the beautiful colors and textures of the fibers. Before we were barely in the door, the woman behind the counter greeted us with a most cheerful voice. Being that we were obviously tourists, she asked where were from and what brought us to the area. I told her that I was from Texas and she responded, "me too!" She had been raised in south Texas. In fact she had just returned from a trip to Austin last week; we shared stories of our travels to Austin and Hill Country Weavers. All of the employees at this shop were cheerful and pleasant. I could have stayed all afternoon, but that would have been a little unfair to the others. We did ask them if there was a coffee shop that they would recommend. They suggested one diagonally across the street.

We all made our way to the coffee shop for a little caffeine to help us over the mid-afternoon slump. I had the best iced mocha that I think I have ever tasted. We all managed to make room for a sweet treat as well. Most drinkers are happy to close down a bar in the wee hours of the morning. This crowd closed down the coffee shop at 3 pm. It was a subtle reminder that we were in a small town and things don't have to do business 24/7.

With a few minutes to spare before we had to be back for evening prayer, we stopped for one last walk on the beach. The rocks and stones that had been washed up by the tides caught out attention. Scouring the shoreline, we found bright blue, green, terracotta, yellow - rocks of almost every color. We were like little children who had never been to the seashore before! An attempt was made by each of us to see how far we were willing to go into the water. None made it past about ankle deep. Needless to say, the water temperature is still on the cold side!

All in all it was a relaxing afternoon. The number of services we were asked to play with little or no practice and preparation was a bit on the stressful side. Add to that mix the fact that we had never played together, blood pressures were high. Having this time together to play and get to know one another beyond, "Are you playing the alto or soprano line" or "What are you playing for an intro?, allowed us to play better as an ensemble. Unfortunately, just as we were beginning to make real music together, the week was over. It will probably be five more years before we have another chance to make music together. Oh well . . .we worked hard; the reward is the gift of lifelong fellowship. Wat a blessing!

Here we all are with our head of liturgy after last night's Service of Profession.

After the final Eucharist this morning, I headed back to the airport. Though there was the possibility of long lines at security because of the recent problems in Europe, check-in at the airport was relatively painless. We did leave an hour late because of problems moving earlier plane off of our gate, but that was only a minor inconvenience. Once in the air, we were rerouted twice because of storms east of Texas. This scenic tour added another hour to our travel time. Once on the ground in Dallas, two hours late, we had to sit on the runway for 45 minutes until a gate was available. Our scheduled arrival time was 7:15. I finally walked off the plane at 10:08. It probably took another 30 minutes for the bags to come up. Except for the fact that I had not eaten all day because I missed breakfast to practice and lunch because of the airport shuttle schedule, and that I was exhausted, the trip was pleasant despite all of the unexpected delays.

I am glad to be home. All went well without me. That is nice to know. Perhaps I should find somewhere else to go!