Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

For those days when I have nothing else to say

It's boring; it's sort of dull. It's nothing new.

And it's all I've got this morning. (Yes, I know, some numbers are missing; blame my source.)

1. Real name – If you don't know this, I can't help you. Hint: My name is not a nickname; it's the real thing. See birth certificate for verification.
2. Like it – Not particularly, but I would never change it.
3. Single or Taken – Taken - for a long time.
4. Zodiac sign - Gemini
5. Male or Female – If you know me, then I don't need to answer this (!)
6. Elementary - Guy A. Cowden Elementary, Greenwood Lab School, and a year at Repton County Primary School
7. Middle School - We called it Junior High back in my day. Greenwood.
8. High School - And still Greenwood.
9. Eye Color - Blue, with green.
10. Hair Color - Blonde. Naturally.
11. Birthplace - Lincoln, NE
12. Parents' names - Jean and Russel
13. University - U of Missouri-Columbia, Bradley University (and a semester where I was enrolled at SMSU, to take advantage of the tuition break while I studied in London)
14. Allergies - I am allergic to all sorts of stuff I put on my face. Have to be very careful.
15. Are you a health freak - Not a freak, but I give it my best effort.
16. Height – 5' 4"
17. Do you have a crush – On people who are unreachable: Aidan Quinn, John Edwards, Paul Simon, Viggo Mortensen.
18. Do you like yourself - Sure.
19. Piercings- Ears, 2x each.
20. Tattoos – Nope - much too permanent.
21. Righty or Lefty - Righty

22. First Surgery – Still waiting on that one, thank goodness, unless you count oral surgery at 13.
23. First piercings - Ears at age 12 for the first time, second time in my 30s.
24. first best friend - Debra Curington
26. first sport - To participate in? Never really did.
27. first pet – Dog.
30. first love - Love, or like? Like was Mark Spencer, first grade. Love? I think I married my first true love, though there were a couple trial runs along the way.

49. eating - Nothing
50. drinking - Nothing
52. listening to- Diane Rehm show
53. waiting for - This to be done; I have errands to run.
54. wearing - T-shirt and capris.

55. want kids? I already have three - aren't they enough?
56. want to get married - Already am, thanks.
67. careers in mind - Haven't quite decided what I want to be when I grow up. I'm working on making writing my career, but I need to get out of the house more.

68. lips or eyes - Must I choose? I'm a personality girl.
69. hugs or kisses - Can't have one without the other.
70. shorter or taller - Somewhat taller - at my height, that's an easy one.
71. tan skinned or light – Doesn't matter
72. romantic or spontaneous - Either is nice
73. dark or light hair – Doesn't matter
74. muscular or normal - Normal
76. similar to you or different – both, actually...

78. kissed a stranger - Not really
79. drank alcohol - Um, yes.
80. broken a bone - Never.
81. climbed up a tree - Yes, but not lately.
82. broken someones heart - Yes, but it ended well.
83. turned someone down - Yes. It's not easy.
84. liked a friend as more than a friend - Yes, who hasn't?

86. yourself – Yes, I do.
87. miracles- Maybe - define miracle.
89. Santa Claus- Absolutely.
91. angels - Once again, define angel. Probably not in the way the question is intended.

92. you are missing someone - Yes, every day.
93. whom do you love? Many people, but my husband and daughters are the top 4.
94. Are you cool? At one time in my life I might have thought so. Now? Just ask my daughters. Though I certainly strive to be a fun mom, a cool mom (!)

95. Text message - I don't really text, though I did get one from AT&T telling my rebate form was received and will be processed in 6-8 weeks.
96. Received call - Phone has not rung today, but I got some e-mails.
97. Call made - My daughter.
100. Person you hung out with - My family
101. You hugged - Sylvia, on her way to school.
104. You slapped- I don't slap anyone; I never hit my children. Spanking/slapping is lazy parenting.

105. Destination - The Container Store. Yippee! Then I am going to get some work done. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

As good as it gets

I got home today much earlier than anticipated - some days, things get done earlier than planned. Which is a good thing.

Thus, I had no excuse not to cook dinner. I love to cook but, oddly enough, I hate to cook dinner. There's just no drama, as opposed to when I have a dinner party - then cooking is fun.

But cook dinner I must - if not every night, then at least on occasion. And today, seeing as I had all this extra time, I figured I would at least get things going. So at 3 p.m. today, I had chicken in the crock pot and the entire kitchen cleaned up - the place looked like a magazine.

(Well, the kitchen anyway. And my desk ...)

But that is the highlight of my day. Unless you count driving three little girls to gymnastics. And seeing someone I know there (whom I like). And reading Newsweek. And catching the end of Dancing with the Stars.

Some days, this is as good as it gets. But, I figure, it always could have been worse. I'll take what I get.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What makes you think you're the only ones who *get it*?

Young people need to grow up.

I glanced at a MySpace page the other day; it belongs to a young person I know, a teenager. In it, she goes on and on about her music - how cool it is, how happening.

And about how her generation is the only one who really *gets* it.

Excuse me?

I am not one to rail on about the indiscretion of youth - about their inexperience, their lack of maturity. There is a lot to be said about the optimism and idealism associated with being young.

But I can do without the arrogance, the idea that somehow they have all the answers, that those of us over 30 - or over 40 ... if the shoe fits - have no idea of what the real world is like these days.

Give me a break.

I am not that old. I remember being young (or younger than I am now) - I know what it was like to have the bloom of youth. I remember when I didn't have a care in the world, when I had energy enough to be totally wrapped only in my own existence.

But life changes as you get older. You have a job, a family perhaps, and responsibilities. No longer can I indulge my every whim without having to consider its effect on the rest of the world. I continue to have ideas and, while I haven't necessarily became jaded, I have become somewhat realistic. I know just how hard it is to get certain things accomplished, and what the cost is: financial, practical, emotional, environmental. Life isn't that simple.

And you know what? I listened to cool music, too. I was listening to that music before you were born. Are you suggesting that the generation that grew up listening to such bands as the Replacements, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, REM, the Ramones, The Clash, and Nick Lowe, that we were clueless?

And what sort of message are you sending to the youth of the 60s, who invented the counter culture? What about the kids of the 50s, the ones who discovered rock and roll? Not to mention the kids of the 40s, who used jazz as their form of expression. Were they all less *cool* than you? They didn't *really* get it?

Save the attitude. Sure, maybe we've hung onto some of that music for too long, unable to appreciate all the new sounds out there. But what you are going to find, as far as music goes, is that you set the soundtrack for your life between the ages of 14 and 21. Beyond that, you, too, will find it difficult to expand your listening into other areas. The music that you grew up with will stay with you. Much of it is disposable - look back at any list of what was hot in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, and a lot of it is crap - but some of it will have endurance. After all, we all still consider the Beatles great.

One day you're going to wake up 40, and your 40-year-old self is going to feel just like your 20-year-old self inside. You will look at college students and, rather than envy them, you'll feel a certain amount of smugness as you take in their very evident disdain for all that is old and uncool.

But only a certain amount. Because you'll remember when you felt like that, too. And you'll be glad you grew up a little bit.

Monday, September 24, 2007


My desk! It's organized ... well, sort of, but a whole lot better than it was earlier today.

I've been busy. I crave - truly desire - a neat and tidy desk. But I've been in the midst of a bunch o' work, plus taking care of the ailing husband, plus kids .... thus, the desk has slipped to the bottom of the to-do list.

But today I took the proverbial bull by the horns ... or, in this desk, the clutter by the pileful. And I've got the bulk of it tackled. I did some filing, got rid of notes odds and ends. I even organized some electronic files. Did some typing, some consolidating of paper work.

Whew - I am exhausted just writing about it.

There are, naturally, a few leftovers to deal with. I have some papers to deal with. Their contents? All those pesky passwords, everything from my library information (I like to be able to renew/reserve from the comforts of home); the Webkinz accounts; my health insurance log in; the iTunes password; the eBay, Pay Pal, Amazon, and Apple passwords; and the secondary e-mail passwords.

(I actually try to use virtually the same password for almost everything - it's just too much to remember. But sometimes I have to change them and can't remember just how I have altered the old one. Or sometimes I need to add caps, or numbers, or an additional extra character. I cannot keep it all straight. God help me if someone cracks my complex code combination of letters and numbers and logs into my eBay account ...)

Summer is still in the air here. Which is fine with me - I can live with the warm weather into October, as long as it cools off a bit. We can still swim for a few more weeks (until the nights dip into the 60s) and I can still wear sandals.

Today I am wearing one of my favorite outifts. I'd brand drop, but that would be rude; no need to be that way about a simple skirt and top. Oh, who cares - it's from Ann Taylor Loft. The cheaper version of Ann Taylor. I love both, and this outfit just spoke to me over the summer. I hope everyone who saw me today was impressed.

Must cook the dinner - fish, potatoes, green beans. We're low-fat around here. For the time being, anyway.

Part Two of The War is waiting ...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Recounting the weekend

I like a quiet, relaxing weekend. I also like to feel as if I have accomplished, well, something. Not sure those two goals are mutually exclusive, but this weekend, they may have been.

Just what did I, or we, do? Let's see:

• Went for a Saturday morning run.
• Read the newspapers, a couple magazines, part of a book.
• Watched Pan's Labyrinth (excellent) and Kissin' Cousins (Elvis, circa 1964 - middling, at best; I was searching for an Elvis flick I remember watching at the PTA summer movies as a kid, but this one wasn't it; the quest continues).
• Took Alison to get a pedicure (got one myself) and reminded myself to MAKE AN APPOINTMENT next time we do it on a special event day (Homecoming). This had crossed my mind, but I forgot. And paid a price.
• Did two (count 'em, 2) loads of laundry.
• Went to Sunday lunch at Jason's Deli with a group of friends.
• Held an unusually productive family meeting. (Yes, we really have family meetings. Sporadically, I admit, but we have them - complete with agendas and everything. Today's was quite a success; participation empowers the girls and makes them think they are part of the decision-making process, though honestly, some votes count for more than others around here.)
• Researched and made the decision to switch our cable and Internet service to AT&T, with a total savings of more than $20/month. Wow - we will gain one more cable box (currently we have one television without, thus limiting us to a mere 13 channels; after the total switch to digital we just never got around to getting another box), get more HD channels, and more channels in general. Including HGTV in HD, as well as Comedy Central and TVLand West. Think of the flexibility that will give us. We will give up HBO, and we are sacrificing PBS in HD (not a small thing, by the way), but we'll get Showtime, Encore, and Starz - free for an entire year. And we get a $59 VISA card. And a discount for bundling services.
• I should stop - I am nearly gushing.
• Read aloud to Sylvia.
• Helped Maddie with her homework collage, finding several fun projects in Family Fun magazine that we are anxious to try.
• Made changes to the girls' college accounts.
• Paid some bills.

When looked at this way, I feel somewhat better. But let's face it - it was a slow and lazy weekend. But I am wrapping things up by watching Ken Burns' The War. Doesn't that get me double credit?

Saturday, September 22, 2007


It's Homecoming weekend for Cypress Woods High School here in the suburbs of Houston.

We are transplants to Texas. Thus I had no idea what it meant when I heard about Homecoming mums. In my naivete, I really thought they were something given to the mothers of football players.

But I was mistaken. Lucky for our daughter, she has other friends who are more knowledgeable. Her Tae Kwon Do teacher, for example, who was kind of enough to teach Alison and a friend all about making their Homecoming mums.

But I am jumping ahead. For reasons that, to me, are still unknown, it is a tradition for the students (not just girls) to make giant mum/corsage/breastplates to wear to school and to the football game on game day. They are bedecked and beribboned, all in their school colors. One chooses appropriate items with which to accessorize - in Alison's case, a small wildcat and ribbons of paw prints - that complement the school mascot. The mums themselves are fake; this way the girls can keep them on display in their bedroom for the rest of their high school years.

Some girls use two mums, some girls three. The boys wear them on a garter on their arm. Seniors decorate their mums with white and silver.

But you don't wear them to the dance. And you make a new mum every year.

Learning ... we are learning. Alison has had fun with the mum experience; hers is proudly displayed in her bedroom. Tonight she is off to the Homecoming Dance with some friends; her date (a friend from Tae Kwon Do) called her this afternoon, sick with a fever. But she joined some friends for dinner and plans to have a good time anyway. She looks beautiful in her formal, but what mother wouldn't say that?

My favorite part of this story? Cy Woods is a brand-new high school; they have not yet had a graduating class. So why have a Homecoming?

Not that it matters. A thousand 14-17-year-olds will enjoy this evening, dancing, partying, being with their friends. It's what high school is all about.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


My husband is home, up and around. I cannot believe how much medical care has changed. Two or three decades ago, this would have been major surgery, days in hospital. Now? He was released after two hours. Just before 10 he woke up, and he came home at 10.30.

(It's his gallbladder - or was. He had it removed. I was trying to protect his privacy, but he says no matter, no big deal. He's on Vicodin, eating bland foods, can't shower, but other than that, he feels pretty good.)

On a side note, we are in the full swing of school work around here. I anxiously await progress reports from my children, and I am LOVING that you can log on and check grades (though one of my daughters totally hates this feature of the computer age). I am a big believer in getting papers/tests returned to students quickly. Too much delay impedes the learning process. Grace Gardener, high school history, used to hold onto tests for weeks. It was wretched ... but frankly, most of her teaching strategies would fall under that category. One of the many examples of bad teaching that stands out in my memory; thank goodness we had good teachers, like Bob McLaren, to balance it out.

Finally, finally, last night we watched Part Two of Prime Suspect: The Final Act. It did not disappoint, even though we figured out whodunit - I never saw it coming, then pow! suddenly, we knew who it was. Shocking. That is one gritty show.

This afternoon we started Jesus Camp, which we will finish later. It is also gritty, in a different sort of way. All you have to hear is, "We're Christians ... the others are our enemies" or "It's great how (Christians) can use kids" before you are horrified. Both quotes are paraphrased but trust me, that is the idea. I grew up in the Lutheran and United Church of Christ, and they just did not behave this way.

So. Tomorrow is Friday. And it is Homecoming weekend - it is a learning experience for those of us new to Texas. Details to come. Night, all!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Catching my breath

I have been swamped. Swamped, I tell you. What with kids, work, health - it's all a blur.

But, I'm getting back on track.

I never blogged about the birthday this weekend - my eldest is 16. Can you even believe it? She deserves more, much more, than a passing mention, but this is all I have energy for ... at the moment. She will get something more eloquent, and soon. Suffice it to say she is a lovely young woman. And she is the type of teenager who will make a better adult than she does a teen, trust me (!) I'm just glad she can't drive til mid-January ...

Did bunches of work yesterday and today - I am so good. I had to stay up late last night, get up extra early today, but I did it. But I am going to have to start leaving the house more. I can crank out some pieces lickety split - magazine articles are a piece of cake. When I have an assignment (which I always do - they tend to be specific) it usually requires a few phone calls, some research, and then boom! they practically write themselves. For other things, though, I am too easily distracted. Must make a new plan.

Gary had his procedure today. He was scheduled for noon, which meant I was to drop him off at 10.30. Suddenly they changed the time and he had to be there at 6.30 ... slight problem since the girls have not left yet, and I cannot (or will not) leave them alone in the morning. So he had to drive himself; I picked him up, and my neighbor will take me to get the car later today. Then they called me to come get him at 10.30 - I had an appointment at 11.20, so it was cutting it close. Grrr ... they could have asked if the time change would work for us.

Plus, who is ready to go home less than two hours after surgery? This was a relatively minor procedure, but wow ... what about complications? Crazy.

OJ is back in the news - didn't we get enough about him in 1995? I mean, really. Let's hope karma is coming back around to get him. Be gone!

I've been so busy, and now I must tidy downstairs; it is looking a bit scary. Gary has commandeered the stereo - I guess he deserves it, but still ...

Friday, September 14, 2007


Work. More work. Doctor's appointments. Kids. Homework. Orthodontist. Gymnastics. Tennis. Theater. Music. Groceries. Cleaning. Laundry. Cooking. Dishes. Bills. Checks. Checks. Dog. And writing more checks. Birthday this weekend.

Get the picture? It will end, but not this week, probably not next. Surgery has been scheduled - a common procedure, should be relatively uncomplicated. But it's surgery, none the less, so I am cautiously optimistic. Gotta take care of the husband and daddy.

More when I have caught my breath.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

As if I needed this stress

I have lovely, responsible daughters. The two elder ones are capable of babysitting; they are quite good with young children.

But, as always, there is a catch: They are very good with other people's young children - their own sibling is not included.

Tonight was open house at the middle school, so Gary and I thought we would both attend, leaving Alison and Maddie home with the Sylvia. Took the elder two to the orthodontist, ran to the grocery store, where I picked up a quick dinner along with the other groceries, then got home, dropped off the older girls with instructions that we would be home in 90 minutes or so. We left in plenty of time for 6.30 open house.

Ooops! First mistake: It started at 6. I had Maddie tell me what the note said, but I did not actually read it myself. Last night's open house was at 6.30, hence the confusion. By the time we got there (thinking we were early?) they were just finishing second period. On the bright side, the first two periods for Maddie are PE and advisory. In other words, we didn't miss much.

After an hour of meeting teachers, hearing the law of the classroom, we headed home. Alison had already left for Tae Kwon Do, having cleared this with us ahead of time. We walked in, chatted with Maddie, then asked if Sylvia was done with her homework.

Bombshell: Maddie answers, Um, I actually don't know where Sylvia is.


Apparently Sylvia had cleared it with Alison to go across the street to her friend's house, but Maddie never got the message. Then Alison left. Major communication breakdown.

We found Sylvia (there were really only two alternatives as to where she might have been). And when she came home at 8.15, she asked if we would help with her homework. Yet another problem - why was she at a friend's when she had homework to finish?

All in all, not a successful evening. We had a looong talk with the other two about how we handle evenings when the parents are not at home. No visiting friends; communicate. Homework first.

And we've done some thinking. Maybe we can't both attend open house without the kids. Which works when Gary is home, but leaves me right back in the same boat next week when it's Alison's open house night and he is out of town.

Oh well, two bright spots on the horizon. One, Gary went to the doctor today to sort out why he hasn't been feeling good, and he may not be traveling next week after all - he may be getting ready for surgery.

And two, I figure this is not the last bad night I'll have as a parent - not by a long shot.

See? It always pays to look for the silver lining, such as it is. Good thing I'm an optimist, huh?

Monday, September 10, 2007

School Daze

It's back in full swing. School. We are down and dirty: Homework. Projects. Fundraisers.

Tonight was "curriculum night" (read: Open House) at the grade school. We wasted ... er, met for a few minutes in the cafeteria to be addressed by the principal, meet all the large group teachers, be reminded that our children need to wear tennis shoes on PE days. They then dismissed us third-grade parents to retreat to the "cottages" (read: trailers, or portable classrooms). There we met with Sylvia's teacher, a delightful woman. Sylvia is smitten - rightly so. And she knows how to make a parent feel good: When we introduced ourselves, she practically gushed, "I love Sylvia! She is so wonderful to have in class!" Words that make a parent proud.

Maddie is hitting us all up for her school's magazine sales fundraiser. There are few things I hate more than selling things, but having my kids sell things is certainly one of them. And boy do I resent fundraisers for schools as wealthy as ours.

Unless, of course, it's writing checks. So much for education provided for our students - I will be writing plenty of checks in the next few weeks, to supplement the checks I have already written. Chief among them, checks for Alison to participate in the school play (costume fee) and for her to attend the thespian convention.

If it's not one thing, it's another.

Perhaps fortuitously, I have been offered more work this week - two more short pieces for a local magazine. Part of me is exhausted, having done three pieces last week. The other part of me - the part that is speaking louder - is telling me to do it, strike while the iron is hot. Earn a little cash to pay for my children's educational extras. Which is what I intend to do; I can relax next week.

I'm counting the days.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I say that we are in recovery, but it really isn't true. A night with six seventh-grade girls was not a big deal - they were very well behaved, very low-key. They swam (until it rained), ate pizza, painted fingernails. Didn't cause any problems, didn't torture anyone.

Of course we were down two daughters - one spent the night with a friend, the other was babysitting.

They even went to bed on time - one of the girls had to get up early today, so they went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Today was mostly relaxing. This morning I cleaned the guest bath, scrubbed the kitchen sink. A bit of a problem, since I am paying a cleaner to take care of these tasks. It's under discussion, believe me. Grrr. I hate to be one of those women who is constantly complaining that things are not done up to her standards. But ignoring the guest bath is a problem.

I also took today to excavate the depths of our refrigerator. Not one of my favorite household tasks; it ranks right down there with, well, with everything, really - cleaning house is not among my favorite pastimes. I found items that were so old ... well, let's just say they weren't recent acquisitions. Some of this I can blame on me and my lack of enthusiasm for cleaning. Some of it I can blame on the girls and their assistance - when they put the groceries away for me, or when they get things for me, they do not look to see if we have an older package of cheese, for example, that is already open.

The problem is solved - for today, anyway. The refrigerator is tidy and sparkling. If only it would stay that way ....

Spent much of the afternoon in the pool - perfect. The day was sunny and warm, and my book entertaining enough.

Mostly, my brain is on vacation today. After a week full of deadlines, I deserve a day off. The grind begins again on Monday.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Just a day

On the first day of school, the high school bus was a no-show.

On the second day of school, the middle schooler told me their bus was on driver No. 3. On day two?

And on the third day of school, the third-grader came home on a different bus. The original bus, with our familiar driver, pulled over and let the waiting parents know that the buses were crowded and some changes were being worked out. No contact from the school, however. So for two days, their bus numbers were changed on their transportation stickers. By the end of the week, we were back on the regular bus.

Unfortunately, the message didn't get to one little Kindergartner, who was sent home on the wrong bus. Her older sister, on the correct bus, warned the driver, but it was too late - the other bus had left. The mother was able to find her, but no one from the school had ever gotten involved in looking for this missing little girl.

Our schools are too big, too crowded. Sigh - what to do.

So, today I drove up to the Woodlands to finish updating our wills. It's a 45-minute drive, and my GPS took me some funky back way, down rural roads, past churches that look like barns, houses that were built way back in the '60s when this must have been way out in the woods.

I am questioning my choice of attorneys. I know them, sort of, but didn't get one of the couple I know, but one of their associates. It cost a small fortune to prepare what amounts to a boiler-plate will - nothing special, no particular bequests or wording. Really, a good legal assistant could have typed our names in the blanks, and we paid a lot. A lot. For very little service - she made a ton of errors that had to be corrected. More than once. And you get better service at a house closing - no offer of beverages (even though we were there at lunch time), no nice pens, no nothing.

Still, it's done, and that's what matters. I'm just wondering why we had to pay so much when we already had wills and just wanted them updated. I'll think twice and check prices before doing this again.

Even after all that, driving home was pleasant. I'm wearing a particularly cute outfit today, the sun was shining, and there was good music on the radio. And if all my radio stations failed me, I had a couple of good CDs in the car. How can life be bad when there's good music?

Tomorrow night we are hosting a birthday party .... I'm working up my endurance tonight by going to bed early. I'll be ready to face a passel of giggling middle-school-age girls. I think.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tap your foot once for yes ...

I'll admit, I found the whole Larry Craig controversy a little funny. At first.

Craig, as you undoubtedly know by now, is the Idaho soon-to-be former senator, who pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent behavior after his arrest in a Minneapolis bathroom in an undercover sex sting. He contends that he most decidedly is not, and never has been, gay, and pleaded guilty simply to spare himself and others the hassles of a trial. The married Craig insists that this is all a misunderstanding, and he is out to clear his good name.

(And, apparently, in updates today, re-claim his senate seat; using the word "intends" before "resign" may give him legal leeway. The outlook on whether or not he can overturn the guilty plea is somewhat less certain.)

First things first: I think Craig most likely is gay. I suspect that undercover cop knew exactly what he was looking for, and Craig's claims that he has a "wide stance" sound a little suspect. I find it hard to believe that bathroom propositions are so ambiguous that an innocent bystander could really be that misunderstood. I suspect that Craig has been living closeted his entire life. He truly does not consider himself gay - he thinks he is straight, and sometimes engages in a little clandestine "recreation" on the side.

Secondly: I don't think Craig should have had to resign. OK, so Craig came onto some guy in a bathroom. Why he is being singled out for bad behavior? When David Vitter - yet another "pro-family" senator, this one from Louisiana - was outed for being the client of a well-known Washington DC prostitute, he wasn't pressured to resign. He said his mea culpas and spent some time in seclusion, ostensibly to have some "quality time" with his wife. (And who isn't slightly curious to hear those conversations?)

Is it because Craig is gay? We can tolerate a certain amount of bad behavior from the straight guys because, well, boys will be boys. The Kennedys and Cinton got away with it - we can all turn our heads because, from time to time, even the best men will stray. But a gay affair? Now that's tawdry? Personally, I think it smacks of homophobia. I'm not defending sexual deviants, but I think a consensual affair is not the same thing as what Mark Foley did - sexually harassing minors is never funny.

I also think these bathroom stings are counterproductive. Men are being arrested for asking other men for sex - is this illegal? Are we going to shut down every bar in the country, every place where men try to pick up women - or vice versa? Or is the goal - once again - to go after only the gay pick-up places?

I'm not suggesting that all men's public restrooms be allowed to turn into wild pick-up joints. But I do know that there is a secret culture of bathroom rendezvous, and it is very subtle. Every university in the country has its spots, well-known to those who are interested. It is so covert that those who weren't looking would never guess. The signals are known, and most men who wish not to participate are blissfully ignorant.

Before we castigate Larry Craig, I think we need to examine a little closer the motives. If he is being forced out of Congress for behavior we won't tolerate from anyone, then that's one thing. But if we are creating two sets of standards - a separate set of rules and morals for those who are gay - then we might need to rethink how we are treating this particular group of Americans. We no longer condone discrimination on the basis of race or sex; sexual orientation is the next logical step.

I don't necessarily want my U.S. senators propositioning men in public restrooms. Nor do I want them picking up prostitutes, taking illegal kick-backs, or using undue influence for improper gains. What I do want is for the rules to be consistent. If Larry Craig really should go, then there are plenty of others who should join him. If this were to keep up, we could have one empty Senate chamber by October.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rules without reason

"You can wear black to a wedding, capris to work, and flip-flops to dinner, but white after Labor Day?"

It's a burning fashion question, and thanks to the Houston Chronicle, I have an answer I can live with.

Last year, in fact, I wrote to this writer at the Chronicle for a little clarity on that very question. Since then, she has done some research. As it turns out, there is no "real" rule about white after Labor Day. Its origins lie in antiquated rules bound in - what else? - class; some experts say it was insituted in the 1950s to differentiate the upper echelons from those with less breeding.

Artificial etiquette - gotta love it.

Today, most experts agree, there are no such hard and fast rules. In climates with defined seasons, these guidelines are more practical. But in places like Houston, where summer temps can linger well into December, these notions are much more flexible. While it might be best to put away the eyelet and skimpy tops of summer come September, many of summer's pieces can be worn well into the fall.

I've put away my white sandals, my eyelet skirt, and my linen. But I have a white skirt and white pants that I have every intention of wearing, certainly for the rest of this month. While I'm running air conditioning in my house, I figure I can wear white.

I'm all for rules, when they have a purpose. But fashion has a whole lot of leeway, and I refuse to be bound by rules arbitrarily invented by fashion designers hoping to make a fast buck, or artificially invented rules that are made to separate the haves from the have-nots.

And there was a time when I adamantly adhered to the Memorial to Labor Rule on white. However, I also wore white hose with dark shoes and dresses - a fashion I'd prefer to forget that I saw over and over in lots of early-80s Princess Diana footage. Luckily we've all evolved - I prefer not to wear any hose if at all possible. And with the weather here, I am in luck. (Plus, it seems oddly patriarchal to encase my legs in flesh-colored nylon. Ick.)

I refuse to change my purse daily in order to match my shoes. I wear a jean jacket with virtually any outfit for a casual look; I wear mini skirts that some may consider out of my age group. I've been known to mix gold and silver, wear heels with cropped pants or long shorts, and wear skirts longer than my coat. I love denim overalls on the weekend. I have a shiny top that I wear during the day, and I have items in my closet that date back more than 10 years. Or 12. Or 15 ...

Call me a renegade. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, or even make a big statement. The biggest fashion rule should be: Be yourself. Be comfortable. That's my aim - and to look good doing it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Summer farewell

How do you bid farewell to summer when you know that the 90-degree temps will linger for another month?

The answer, it seems, is that you bid a formal adieu, but go back to business as usual, starting tomorrow. The public pools will remain open on weekends through the month, and our backyard pool will not close (we keep it open all year long - we can use the hot tub all through the winter). Wardrobes don't change - capri pants can be worn virtually all year long - and the AC won't go off til sometime in October.

So Labor Day is merely symbolic - even though everyone is back in school, back to the fall routine, the summer temps will remain.

We ventured over to Austin for Bat Fest 07. Austin is home to largest urban bat colony in North America; nearly 1.5 million bats take flight every evening from the Ann Richards Congress Street Bridge, and it is a sight to behold. The girls and I went last year, and the sight of all those bats taking flight at dusk is phenomenol. Bat Fest, however, turned out to be a bat dud - the bats, for whatever reason, were a no-show. The bats are there - living in good health beneath the bridge - but despite the pleas of the Bat Signal, which graced the side of a hotel near the bridge, the bats did not appear. Disappointing for us, but especially for Gary, who was not with us last time and was looking forward to the spectacle. Maybe next year ...

Today I got in a couple hours in the pool early, before we were hit by rain. Did some reading, some laundry, Some holiday, huh? But it feels like a holiday, with all the kids at home and no school, no work.

Tomorrow, it's back to business. School, work, the normal drill. But today, we're still pretending it's a holiday. We'll just celebrate again when, or if, summer ends for real.