Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Eve

It is the perfect night for Halloween. Today has been sunny and warm - in the low 70s - so tonight will be just cool enough to feel like fall, but warm enough to not cover up any fabulous costumes.

I have two sick people here at our house - Gary and Alison are both home with some sort of little illness. Lucky for Alison she isn't 10 years old, and she knows it. She has plans tomorrow night, so she isn't missing out on any big fun.

Sylvia is heading out with a friend and Maddie has a friend over - they have donned costumes and are sitting on the porch greeting our trick-or-treaters, so Gary and I are free to sit inside and watch Season 1 of 30 Rock. Not the most exciting Halloween on record, but Gary isn't feeling good, so for this year, it will do.

Plus, the real fun for us comes tomorrow night. I will spend tomorrow cleaning house then spreading around my fake cobwebs .... something about that does not sound quite right.

Boo!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

With liberty, justice, and opportunity for all

So. Last night, I skipped out on LBJ in favor of current events.

(I am working my way through the four-hour American Experience on Lyndon Johnson - fascinating stuff. But I don't have just tons o' time - certainly not a four-hour block of uninterrupted time, or even two two-hour blocks. So I watch as a I can. As with all American Experience programs, I am loving it. I feel as if I will soon be a PBExpert on all the twentieth-century presidents - based on the info I glean from two-hour documentaries, anyway. But surely it's all I really need to know, right?)

Caught a bit of the CBS News, where Katie "I Lack Gravitas" Couric continued to ask her "presidential questions." Which would be fine if the questions had any substance. But she asks about trivial nonsense: What's your favorite movie? Favorite book? When's the last time you cried? What do you want written on your tombstone?

And these help me pick a president how? I am not looking for my new best friend - I don't care what movies the like or what the prefer to do on vacation or how they met their spouse. Ask what they are going to do about real issues.

And for the record, lame answer on the book, Obama. Saying the Bible is your favorite book sounds like pandering to me. Nice also-ran with Toni Morrison, but come on, who reads the Bible for fun? That answer should not be allowed. And nice choice of For Whom the Bell Tolls by McCain - I love Hemingway, and it did seem a particularly fitting choice for McCain, and he did a nice job of explaining why.

However, I don't vote based on reading preferences - we're not forming a book club together.

I tuned in to the Obama show later, which was OK (very inspiring last five minutes). But after that, I caught a bit of John McCain on Larry King. Then I got to hear the experts analyze both the Obama show and McCain's interview on CNN. Which, frankly, is better than watching the real thing - I love to hear the experts' take on what they've seen.

I know, I'm a geek. And I'm probably one of only 2 percent of the American electorate that loves this crap.

Later, just before going to bed, I flipped the set back on and caught a few minutes of Keith Olbermann. Apparently, the newest pundit on the rounds is none other than that noted expert on, well, everything: Sam "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. They showed a clip of him espousing his views on Israel, of all things. Get serious - what does this guy know about Israel? Can he even find it on a map?



Maybe he can he turn all this into a country song. Because, that's right, he now has an agent who is scouting out book deals and trying to get him a country recording contract.

The United States really is the land of opportunity. And crazy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Inspiration

Out of curiosity, I tuned in to watch Barack Obama's 30-minute television ad tonight. I chose CBS, though I believe it ran on about five other networks.

Whether he runs it is pretty much beside the point as far as I'm concerned. Republicans and those who do not support Obama will criticize him for doing it, criticize its content. But I figure it's his right - he has the money, and those who aren't interested can turn the channel or turn the television off. Plus, if McCain had the money, he'd be doing it, too.

Frankly, most of it was just OK. He talked to families around the country who have financial problems, job concerns. He talked about his mother, his background, his children, his life. It was nothing I hadn't heard before - and I was busy with other things, so I didn't pay that much attention.

Until the end. The part where he spoke live, from Florida. And that part was inspiring. Truly amazing.

Obama is a brilliant man. He grew up without money, a middle-class, average existence, and this is what he has become. He managed to attend the best schools and he has really made something of himself. He is incredibly charismatic, very gifted, and he is using his talents to try to make the United States a better place. When he speaks of the rest of us helping one another, trying to do the right thing, I know he is the person I want leading this country.

I don't for a moment think John McCain is a bad person, but I am concerned about the way he has abandoned his principles out of blind ambition. I am bothered by his lack of judgment in choosing an unqualified running mate (and for those who just *love* her, I would like to know if you seriously think she is capable of leading this country). I - and apparently most of the country - simply do not think he is what the United States needs at this time.

(And on a side note, I am hardly alone there - a contingent of noted conservatives, including David Brooks, George Will, Kathleen Parker, and David Frum, have all spoken out about Sarah Palin's anti-intellectual leanings and the dangers they see in her. Should McCain lose, there will be a battle for identity of the GOP, and many are concerned about Palin trying to grasp a leadership role.)

Obama's speech tonight, although short, moved me, once again. He's an inspiring leader, and I'm refiguring my Sunday to see if I can find time to get out and knock on doors, convince voters to get out there and support this candidate.

It's an exciting time to be an American. I am so pleased that my children get to see this - and I'm looking for good things to happen.

From errands to work to business casual - all in one post

Today was a day of running errands.

Not my favorite thing to do - I'd much rather be home, spending my day leisurely doing what I want to do. But today, I had to get out, take care of some miscellany. Yesterday it was groceries; today, I think I hit everywhere else in town:

• Staples, where I purchased a replacement ink-jet cartridge (magenta) so that we can print in color once again. Plus I picked up an added detail for my Halloween costume - something I can actually use later (how cryptic can I be??).
• Bed, Bath & Beyond, where I returned an item that I picked up last week - a whole $3.20 will be credited to my VISA.
• TJ Maxx, where I returned two sweaters I picked up and decided I don't like - $42.78 back on the card.
• Brief stop at Camille's, where I met Gary for lunch, since he didn't come home tonight.
• Target, where I returned the extension cord that did not work with my outdoor Halloween lights - $6.41 credit. I then proceeded to spend an additional $40 when I purchased paper for a bulletin board I'm helping with tomorrow at church and Halloween candy.

My last stop - but perhaps the most important - was City Hall, where I picked up our building permit. Talk about a mirthless crew - that office was about the most joy-free spot I've seen in a while. Those people are sullen.

Which led me to reevaluate my need - or shall I say, desire - to go back to work. I have finally come to the conclusion that I am going to wait for just the right job. I am not going to stress about work. I really haven't been, anyway. I've sent off a few resum├ęs, even had a couple interviews. And the one interview I had felt so stifling - I am not going to spend my days locked in an office without windows doing a job I am not crazy about just for money. Lucky for me, I have that option. But while I still have children at home, I am going to hold out for my dream job. Life's too short for anything else.

Gary is home from his evening at Purdue - a Cat VP was speaking, preceded by a reception. The invitation said "business casual" - which, apparently, meant suits or ties - Gary and one other guy were the only two without jackets. The other guy wore a polo and khakis - which, to me, is truly the definition of business casual. Gary ran into the guy who lives behind us - he was formerly the principal of the neighborhood grade school and now works for the Purdue Credit Union, a sponsor of the lecture. He also talked to our state representative, who is also our neighbor. She was wondering which house we live in now, and when she finally figured it out, she realized we have several Democratic signs in out yard. She asked Gary if we would put out a sign for her - well, sure, he said, but it seems kind of unnecessary - she is running unopposed! Well, yes, she admitted, others need the help more - !

I should also not my fascinating meeting last night at Planned Parenthood, where I met with the newly forming community action board, and ran into, again, my new best friend, LC. LC is from a fairly prominent local family, and after playing Mah Jongg with her, I now see her all over the place. We are apparently now friends - and I think she likes me. I've mentioned her before - she is a formidable woman, kind of scary. She is also very well-connected. And I am kidding - I know she likes me, as she extended a personal invitation for me to attend the Temple's art auction next month - and I think I probably will.

So, on tomorrow's agenda? Helping on the bulletin board. And nothing else.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall and fun are pushing the blog to the back burner

I am increasingly neglecting the blog.

What can I say? Too much other stuff to do. Real stuff. Fun stuff.

For starters, keeping the house in order is a challenge. Bottom line: We have too much stuff. We ought to be able to live with the space we have. But it's all a matter of how the space is configured. We need our new kitchen ... and construction should begin Wednesday. I cannot wait! We will have bedrooms for everyone, an eat-in kitchen, a new half bath, and, of course, the remodeled kitchen area. I have already enumerated the many inadequacies of the current space. Suffice to say I - we - will be very happy to get this done.

But enough kvetching.

We had an incredibly fun weekend. Friday Gary was off work. I wasn't terribly productive, but we did get the pool closed. Gary had the pool company do the actual closing (though he may do it himself next time), but we opted to save ourselves $200 and put the cover on ourselves. We hauled it from the shed, laid it out, and got it all hooked on - which involved unscrewing the bolts from the ground and stretching the hooks over them, a process that involved a system with a pipe and a rubber mallet. It's definitely a two-person job, but the whole thing only took us about an hour. I cannot believe they charge $200 - I am so glad we did not fall for that.

But now our pool looks sad. When I look out the window, I no longer see the shining blue water, but a dull grey tarp.

But I'm not seeing a deck anymore either, as Gary has already started disassembling it so we can get the foundation poured. It will be ugly around here for a while. But no uglier than the kitchen I see every day.

Friday night, friends Dan and Helen invited us to join them for a tailgate party at the country club. We cheered the Boilermakers, sat around the fire, and danced to the band. It's a local cover band, originally made up of a bunch of doctors. It's a reconstituted version now, but a couple members are my neighbors, including the parents of Sylvia's new best friend. So she was totally jazzed to run around with her friend Bella, along with Bella's sister, who is the same age as Sylvia's good friend Scotlyn, daughter of friends Dan and Helen. It's a small world in these parts.

The girls were so funny - they jumped up on stage to sing back-up and they danced, danced, danced (well, unless they were running around on the golf course).

We hadn't quite decided whether or not to re-join the country club. But I think we will. We have a pool, so that's not such a big draw. But the golf course is nice, and Gary likes to play. The food is great. And it is so close - we can walk. We have particularly fond memories of the Christmas Eve dinner and Mothers Day brunch .... oh, yea. I'll be on the phone this week.

Saturday was Purdue v. Minnesota. We had great seats - better than our own tickets, as someone gave them to us - so Gary and Alison could see Purdue's loss in all its glory. I ran some errands, took care of a few things around the house.

Then Saturday night, we attended our neighborhood progressive dinner/Halloween party. Where I won best costume - the trophy is adorning the living room mantle piece. Along with Gary's/Alison's trophy.

I can't tell you any more about my costume because I will be wearing it again next weekend. What I can tell you is:

- Alison and her friend Emily were fantastic accessories, though they could have stood on their own - but they were better with me
- Gary, too, was great, though he could have gone on his own - once again, he was better with ne
- I was not the only one in my costume - there were three of us. We all three won, and we are rotating the trophy. We were all great, all with different takes on the same idea. And people loved us. I confess, initially I was a little bummed about not being the only one, but really, three was better than one.

The party was such fun - lots of funny costumes, and the folks here in the hood are a good group. Halloween is a good time to test everyone's sense of humor, and judging by the number of political-themed costumes (I saw John McCain and the First Dude at this party, along with a nun, a hippie, playing cards, a Jonas Brother and Hannah Montana - not kids), humor here on the hill is alive and well.

(The biggest surprise of all? When my neighbor, who is a very prominent, very well-connected Republican, showed me his Republicans for Obama button - I knew his wife was voting for Obama on the down-low, but I wouldn't have guessed him. Just goes to show what a critical election this is.)

I have photos, but I can't post them til next weekend. But we - especially Alison - were a certified hit.

It's been a good fall. In more ways than one. The trophy I brought home - that I am sharing - is emblematic of the many positive changes in my life.

Even though it has a tiny skeleton on the top.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hey, Opie!

This is great!

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My friends, no standard is too low

I still read my former neighborhood's message board. It's your basic Yahoo group, and it was a good way to know what was going on in the hood.

They were a crowd of ... well, we'll just say they were something else. Not all those people, but a lot of them. Talk about superficial.

But that's not even the point here. The topic has turned to politics. First, when it became all about the election, some people got upset: Too many political posts; the posts are too long. So the moderator created a separate group.

I guess I would argue about censorship and freedom of speech - which several people did. After all, you can delete posts with subject lines you don't like, or you can subscribe to the daily digest and only read the posts you are interested in.

No, no, people whined. But these people whine about everything - their latest gripe is that photographers are using the neighborhood parks to take family photos, without paying for the privilege (it's not required) AND parking on streets near the park.

You've got to be kidding me - this is your biggest gripe?

But I digress. So now there is a separate political group. And these people are just nasty. Texas is a red state - we all know this. But some - and please note that I say some - of the McCain supporters have become vicious. Here is an actual excerpt from one post:

"If you are even considering voting for Obama, you're obviously an
ignorant waste of space within this country and please move to some
other country because you are clueless and I will meet you face to
face and discuss this in an adult matter to show you that you are
NOT as smart as a fifth grader.

Are you really that much of an idiot to not realize how Obama lacks
the personal character to become President, to not realize that he
is corrupt. Here is my personal attack on anyone stupid enough to
vote for Obama because honestly, you lack any sort of education, you
seriously should not be allowed to vote because you have no more
intelligence than my five year old. If anyone who is voting for
Obama would like to sit down and talk about this in a public place,
please, please e-mail me personally and I will show you a shiny
quarer [sic] that will make you change your mind because you have no more
intelligence than that quarter."

Wow.

I should also mention that, on a related note, one woman refused to concede that words like "disrespectful" and "uppity" had any racist connotations - just refused to believe it.

Some days, I just have to stay away. I know, I know - I don't have to read this stuff. But then again, I do. I have to remind myself why this election matters.

You know, I am not anti-Republican. Trust me - my best friend is a - gasp - Republican. Truly - she and her husband both. But I like them, for any number of reasons. I can respect her views because she does not call me - how did he put it? - "an ignorant waste of space within this country." We differ on some issues, but I completely understand and respect why she votes the way she does, and if she didn't respect my views, I'm guessing we would not be friends. Our kids are great friends, and she and I have so much in common. I truly cherish and value her friendship, so how she votes is the least of my worries.

My point? We are all going to have to live together when this is all over. A little civility would go a long way.

In which I muse on my great affection for PBS (among other things)

I love PBS.

I must first admit that I love good television. Oh, sure, I love to read (master's degree in English = lots of reading, and not just the classics), but I do love quality television. I am a news junkie, and I love the satirical news, too - you wouldn't believe how much good stuff I learn from John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I like to watch Anderson Cooper and 60 Minutes. And I love good series television - these days I like Pushing Daisies and The Office.

But lately, my favorite shows are on PBS. When the girls were small, it was the only television they were allowed to watch - other channels had commercials, and the quality of shows was higher. I could become pretentious and say I *never* allowed my children to watch *any* TV, but it's just not true. Plus, I think if you totally deprive children of things like television, then they go nuts when they are exposed - I say this because a student of mine wrote about being totally anti-television, then admitted that when she babysit she did watch a little, like Married With Children and Jerry Springer. No wonder she thought all TV was evil.

Anyway, I love American Experience. They've been running great ones on the presidents lately - last year I watched four hours on FDR, and this year they've done Nixon, Carter, and Johnson - great stuff. Lots I had forgotten about (Carter) or really never knew or understood (Nixon and Johnson).

I also love American Masters - the last two weeks were about Andy Warhol, and it was fascinating. The show really gets into what made him who he was - or as much as a documentary can.

Last week, I tuned into Frontline, which looked at both John McCain and Barack Obama. It was - again - a fascinating look at these two men, one of whom will be president.

And let me tell you: It solidified why I cannot vote for John McCain.

First and foremost, it portrayed these two men as fiercely ambitious, and I think those are qualities we probably want in a president. Obama's career has been somewhat more meteoric; McCain took longer in the Senate to get where he is. I don't think this makes either of them bad people.

My biggest concern is the change McCain has undergone since 2000, when he was, in fact, a "maverick," willing to take on his party. He was not in the pocket of the religious right - he worked on issues like climate change and campaign finance reform. In fact, after a fiercely contested primary with GWB, McCain was about ready to switch parties. He called Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and that crowd "agents of intolerance."

Then, in around 2005, when he decided that he wanted to run for president in '08, McCain figured he needed to court the religious right. He then, in the words of his former aides, "cut against everything he had said and done before that." He kowtowed to the religious right, meeting with Bush (they were NOT on friendly terms before this), delivered the commencement address at Liberty College/University, whatever it's called. His people met with Karl Rove to figure out what the strategy would be for him to get to the party base.

He changed positions on several issues, all because it was politically expedient. As late as March of 2008, he was still getting a cool reception from the right-wing of the Republican party. So, to further woo them, he chose Sarah Palin, an unvetted, untested, little-known governor without education (look at her record), qualifications, or experience, with questionable ties to the Alaskan secessionist party. He did for one reason only: To get the support of the religious right.

You can watch the episode in its entirety at www.pbs.org. This show did not make my decision for me; it merely solidified what I already thought. McCain is so blindly ambitious that he is allowing his campaign to run these negative, racist ads ("disrespectful" and "cavorts with terrorists); attendees at rallies have been heard to shout death threats. To his credit, McCain has decried some of this. But he is letting the ads run. I know he does not personally fashion these, but he does allow them to be run. And as it is his campaign, he is ultimately responsible.

It was a balanced piece, furthering my belief in public broadcasting. I'm taking a break tonight (my favorite shows run on Mondays and Tuesdays), but I'm guess there's more to come. Check your local listings.

13 Days

We are only 13 days away from the election. I don't think I need add what election - you've all seen the ads, watched the debates.

New revelations continue to pop up - never a dull moment in politics. Today we were treated to the revelations that:

- Sarah Palin managed to get the state of Alaska to finance travel costs for her children on several different occasions. The kids often showed up at events where they were uninvited or, organizers have reported, they were contacted by Palin's staff and asked to somehow include the girls. Palin has charged the state around $21,000 in airfare, not including hotel rooms for her girls.

In one instance, she billed five nights in New York at $700-plus for an event that lasted five hours.

- In other news, our "ordinary hockey mom" does not dress like one - the RNC released today that they have spent around $150,000 to outfit Palin and her family for the last 55 days. When she spoke at the Republican National Convention, she was wearing a $2500 Valentino jacket.

I would argue here that she does need to dress the part - I don't want a potential vice president (cough, cough) to dress in get-up from Target. But wow - $150,000 is a lot. I'm thinking I could have looked just as good for somewhat less.

I continue to check the electoral maps every day. Polls still show Obama with a significant national lead; but more importantly, he is leading in key battleground states. McCain has to win all of these states in order to win the election - most experts agree this is highly unlikely, well-nigh impossible.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

More signs of fall .... and a little kid bragging (take note)

The leaves are turning, and they are beautiful!

I know this because I had to drive to my daughter's school this morning to drop off the assignment she forgot. In fairness, she forgot it because I had to restart the computer when we were trying to print. I sent her off to bed and told her I'd have her print in the morning. So we both just spaced it this morning.

We live just a few blocks from the country club, so driving past the golf course and all the trees is so pretty right now, a blend of blazing orange, deep gold, and crimson.

Fall. Throw in the election signs and the parent/teacher conference (along with nippy mornings), and you know fall is here. Houston, I miss you not.

Today we have conferences for both Maddie and Sylvia. Both girls are doing well. This is not a surprise to me - they are bright girls. I can say this without bragging - it is a fact. And they have a very smart father. But I am especially proud of Sylvia.

She was moved this year into the Challenge class. They make a big show of Challenge here - it is the gifted/talented class, where we didn't send the older two (a decision I may slightly regret - but what's done is done). I've been told multiple timss just how hard it is, how the kids will not make straight A's, how overwhelming it can be. (See why I didn't send the others? If you factor in the arrogance of the administrators, you have more than one might be able to handle.) So I was prepared for Sylvia to struggle a bit. Which was OK - she really is a kid who will take the path of least resistance (what kid wouldn't?).

We had a little homework issue a few weeks ago. We sorted it out, but I warned her that this could not happen again. It has not. And the other day she mentioned that she had made the honor roll. This is not a huge surprise - all my girls have always made the honor roll.

So today I was at the school, so I looked at the wall outside the classroom. First of all, some assignments were posted. With grades. I knew Sylvia had done well, but wow - she did really well, comparatively. Not that I am comparing her to other kids, just noting that she had one of the highest scores (other kids got perfect scores as well, but lots and lots of kids did not). And I saw the honor roll posted - only about 10 kids are on it.

So, way to go, Sylvia! I thought this might be a very tough year for her, but she is keeping up, doing well. And she is definitely where she belongs. She likes her teacher (we talked about it this morning while waiting for the bus) and has made several friends. I am so pleased she is doing well.

I am pleased that all three girls are good students; they will be well prepared to go great things in life. They are great kids - I'm lucky they are part of our lives.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dear Red States ...

I would give appropriate credit if I could, but apparently the author is unknown. I will credit Gale, who ran this first on her own blog. It's a keeper!

Dear Red States,

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to our two new nations, and especially to the people of New California. We will welcome your ambassador with open arms to our capitol, the Big Apple, New York City.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the former slave states. We get Waikiki. You get Galveston Bay. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel, Apple, and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Sweet Home Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, and you can completely do away with all those horrible taxes you hate so much.

Since our aggregate blue state divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get more happy families. You get more single moms, but you can ban abortion once and for all. That's a fair trade, don't you think?

Please be aware that our Blue Nation will be pro-choice and anti-war, so we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq and Afghanistan. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We do wish you success in all of your wars, but we are going to take a "time-out" for our country and concentrate on rebuilding our infrastructure, developing our own energy sources and promoting diplomacy with other nations. BTW: You do get Alaska and Texas, so "Drill, Baby, Drill"! We know you'll have fun with that.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve Texas wines at state dinners, we hear they are wonderful), 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

Please note that you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you. We know you hate and despise Hollywood anyway, so any downside you face should wash with finally getting rid of those liberal elites.

Please note we will be teaching evolution and hard science in our schools and rerouting much of our military budget into advanced education for all our citizens. We know that 38 percent of you in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws or collateral damage in foreign wars, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties. Now is your chance to Christianize your schools and get away from all of us horrible, godless, socialist, palling-around-with-terrorist, heathen sub-humans.

We encourage you to follow your own path and build the country of your dreams!

It's been a real slice of heaven. Good luck in all your future endeavors!

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out,
Blue States

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Update

I'm loving fall.

Loving it so much that I am turning into a very bad blogger. Ah, well - as I've mentioned before, I am just finding too much other fun stuff with which to fill my time - the blog has taken a back seat.

It has turned cooler - and I am pleased. Last night we made a fire in the back yard firepit, which was very enjoyable. While Gary and Jeff watched Missouri get its ass kicked by Texas, JoAnn, Syivia and I sat in the backyard toasting marshmallows and eating smores. Mmmmm. We were even nice enough to take smores inside to our menfolks - aren't we thoughtful?

Cool weather, football, sweaters, Halloween decorations, apples (more mmmmm) - it's everything I love about fall and really missed while we lived in Houston.

Friday night we went to a Circle Supper - oops, new name, Shared Hearth Dinner - at church. They are small gatherings in people's homes. We went to one hosted by a couple we know and attended by one family we know and another we didn't. Very enjoyable. The host couple has two sons, boys who were somewhere between hellions and just not very charming when they were younger.

The boys are now tenth and sixth-graders. And just the nicest kids - the elder one is not only nice looking but very polite and just pleasant to be around; the younger one has completely outgrown his obnoxious streak and is a nice kid. I have not doubt about how smart these boys are (I know the parents). The mother is very, very shy, a trait I used to mistake for being slightly aloof. But she has been just so nice to me lately. Anyway, dinner was very nice.

Yesterday we went to Sylvia's soccer game (she lost), and I spent part of my afternoon nursing my headache while watching Andy Warhol on American Masters. Then last night we watched the game after having JoAnn and Jeff join us for dinner

Today was congregational meeting at church - I love my church, love the people (well, most of them - you know how it is), but wow ... our meetings drag on for-ev-er. We are big believers in the Democratic process and listening to voices of dissent. Which we do. But I catch myself looking at my watch from time to time, I must admit.

I have become fully entrenched in church activities - I am on two committees and considering a third. Welcome back!

All right. Off to the hardware store - finishing bathroom touches.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Random

I am deeply affected by my environment.

In other words, my life is like my house: Cluttered. Distracted. Disorganized.

But happy, none the less. Kids don't need order and cleanliness to be happy. Gary and I don't need a clean and tidy house after all.

But we want one. Badly. I am getting so little done - it is truly mortifying. I will spare you the long list of what I am not accomplishing these days.

The bathroom is almost done. ALMOST. We need one or two tiny details finished, then we're done. DONE! I'll post picture when - if - it happens. I'm feeling optimistic that the inspector will come this very week.

*****

It's raining here; raining and pouring. I like a rainy night. I can curl up and watch the debate on television. Sounds perfect.

*****

Went to a Democratic social last night - just a little happy hour sort of event. Walt told me how lovely I looked. Which I repeated to Gary, who could only say, Just how old is Walt? 90?

Wow, Gary - nice. Nice way to let me know that you, too, find your wife attractive. Nice way to say, Yes, I noticed how nice you looked, what a stunning outfit you were wearing. Nice to way to note that you were proud to be there with me (even though we did not arrive or leave together - he had a dinner at work, so we were technically separate). Nice way to feed my (evidently needy) ego, my vanity (oh, there's definitely a level of vanity here).

And for the record, Walt is only 80, not 90. And his wife, Emma, is a lovely woman. Not some little old lady, but a strong woman. A great couple, still active, still writing letters to the editor, very involved in local politics.

And they still have an eye for fashion.

*****

I've listed our old washer and dryer on Craigslist. The ad read something like this: "GE Hotpoint washer and gas dryer, circa 1990, top-loading washer, cycles blahblahblah, almond color ... " You get the idea.

Got an inquiry: How old is it?

Well let's see ... if we subtract 1990 from 2008 ...

She probably read it quickly and didn't notice the year. I should not be so snippy. And in my reply, I was not.

I am finding the responses ... well, we'll say "interesting," shall we, rather than "galling" or "nervy." I am asking $75 for a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer with an icemaker and ice/water in the door, $75 for a washer and dryer. And people want to haggle. I am always stunned at how people want to bargain.

I'm just not a bargainer - I hate trying to make a deal. Just name your price - a fair price - and I'll pay it. I hate, hate, hate having to guess how low I can go without being insulting. With houses, I hate hearing "This is your best offer - don't be greedy" when we're selling while simultaneously hearing "Don't insult them by offering too little." We made one low offer on a house this last time; I guess they were "offended," because they countered back at nearly the asking price.

We refused and moved on; they've had no offers since and the house is still for sale. They've lowered the price another $25,000. Good luck - I think they got their best offer out of us.

*****

JoAnn and I made plans to go to the WL farmers market ... then it rained. Sad. Another day, perhaps. Except that there are not a lot of other days for the farmers market. Next year?

Time to fly -

Monday, October 13, 2008

Never a dull moment.

Or a free moment, it seems.

Which is totally not true - I have all kinds of time. I just find lots and lots of stuff - fun stuff - with which to fill it.

Went to the big middle school chicken noodle dinner Friday night. It was better than I expected - the band sounded good, and the eighth-grade choirs were good. (I'll reserve comment on the seventh-grade choir.) Saw some friends, including some I hadn't seen since we've been back.

Saturday we went to Sylvia's soccer game - she won - then painted the bathroom. Then Saturday night Gary and I were invited to the home of some new acquaintances for dinner. He is running for County Council, and we've met them a couple of times lately at different functions. Out of the blue they called and invited us over. I can't figure out if they are grooming us for something or are just entranced by how charming we are.

In either case, it was a pleasant evening; they are a very nice couple. A bit older than we are, but fun. After dinner, we headed down to OUTober Fest, hoping to do some people watching. Saw a few friends, but Gary pointed out that most of GLBT friends are probably home in bed by 10.30 - !

The girls walked downtown earlier to check out the festival. They ran into a friend, Kat. There were protestors, and Kat asked if they were bothering the girls. No, they said, they were fine. OK, Kat said. But if you need me, just put out the Kat Signal.

Funny.

Came home after I got a phone call from my BFF up the street. She and some others were hanging out, sharing wine, and she was wondering where I was ... so I walked down to join the crowd, just as it was breaking up. But I was not quite done partying, so I twisted BFF's arm, along with that of my neighbor, CK. The three of us sat on CK's porch and drank wine til she kicked us out at 2 a.m.

CK is a hoot. She lives behind me, and she knows BFF, since we all live near one another. (And this is a tight-knit neighborhood.) CK also knows someone I go to church with, and have sort-of a history with (long, long story that doesn't really involve me so much but other people that I am pretty good friends with.) This whole group of people who grew up here and still live here are all so connected. This history does not, naturally, involve me or BFF. But we know everyone involved.

My point - and I do have one - is that Lafayette really is a small town. I feel like I know everyone - and at some point, you feel as if you know a little too much about everyone.

So we discussed our mutual friend, some other mutual friends, and other neighbors. One in particular, I used to think was rude. Or arrogant. Or not friendly. Or didn't like me. But it's not just me - BFF commented in particular about how this woman treats her every time they see one another. I was always surprised that they were not friends - just seemed like they should be. And CK said the same thing. I have another friend who knows this person, has filled me in a bit.

Which leads to may last bit of wisdom - and it's a big one: It's not about me. The way she treats me? The way I would take it personally and feel dissed? It has nothing to do with me. Maybe she's shy; maybe she does not realize. So little of what we perceive is really about us.

I'm learning. It has taken me years to figure some of this stuff out. But it feels good to reach this next level.

This is my new mantra in dealing with people: It's not personal. And this new-found philosophy is so liberating - I feel great.

And I learned something else: BFF and CK? They are sooo much fun! Must make plans to get together again soon.

I'm rambling. Now that I've shared my new enlightenment, must run. Cheers!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Little bits, busy bits

I polished my toenails today. Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom.

Really, these are things that one ordinarily need not mention. But I call them to light because they are emblematic of how my life is going at the moment.

Noting the bathroom cleaning is significant in that we are currently living in what I hope will be a temporary phase: the days of no cleaning.

Because with construction through the end of the year, what's the point? I dusted our bedroom last weekend because it was just horrifically dusty. And today, I looked, and the nightstands are one again just covered.

This is a by-product of new drywall. And it's unavoidable.

And more importantly, it makes me feel that cleaning is pointless. I am ignoring the carpet, wearing slippers at all times, knowing that I will simply pull it out when this is all over.

(We are not total slobs. We clean the kitchen and we do laundry. I even vacuum. I'm just not too orderly and tidy these days. And I am certainly not going to pay a housekeeper to essentially rearrange the dust on a bi-weekly basis.)

And on to other things ... I polished my toenails today. Which is notable for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it is really warm here. It is that late-summer/early fall weather, very warm during the day and cool, cold, in the evenings. I can snuggle up at night, wake up to cool mornings, but enjoy very pleasant afternoons. Thus the sandals are not done for the year.

My old polish was chipping dreadfully. I've ignored it, wearing closed-toe shoes when needed. But I could avoid it no longer. And I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I have no polished my own toenails in some time, opting instead for professional pedicures.

But right now? I am much too busy to sit for 45 minutes at the nail salon. I could make time if really necessary, but frankly, my life is much too full to sacrifice the time.

It's a small thing, but a good thing.

Now, must run to the 7th-8th-grade music/dinner evening at the junior high. Chicken & noodles, music, and friends.

Fun times indeed.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Politics of Attack

Today, I will let the New York Times speak for me. I know it's politics, but really, Palin's behavior is disgraceful.

Should I be angry at her, or does this give her too much credit? Get real - she doesn't make these moves on her own.

And what does it say when even Karl Rove thinks McCain has gone too far?

Published: October 7, 2008

It is a sorry fact of American political life that campaigns get ugly, often in their final weeks. But Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have been running one of the most appalling campaigns we can remember.

They have gone far beyond the usual fare of quotes taken out of context and distortions of an opponent’s record — into the dark territory of race-baiting and xenophobia. Senator Barack Obama has taken some cheap shots at Mr. McCain, but there is no comparison.

Despite the occasional slip (referring to Mr. Obama’s “cronies” and calling him “that one”), Mr. McCain tried to take a higher road in Tuesday night’s presidential debate. It was hard to keep track of the number of times he referred to his audience as “my friends.” But apart from promising to buy up troubled mortgages as president, he offered no real answers for how he plans to solve the country’s deep economic crisis. He is unable or unwilling to admit that the Republican assault on regulation was to blame.

Ninety minutes of forced cordiality did not erase the dismal ugliness of his campaign in recent weeks, nor did it leave us with much hope that he would not just return to the same dismal ugliness on Wednesday.

Ms. Palin, in particular, revels in the attack. Her campaign rallies have become spectacles of anger and insult. “This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America,” Ms. Palin has taken to saying.

That line follows passages in Ms. Palin’s new stump speech in which she twists Mr. Obama’s ill-advised but fleeting and long-past association with William Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground and confessed bomber. By the time she’s done, she implies that Mr. Obama is right now a close friend of Mr. Ayers — and sympathetic to the violent overthrow of the government. The Democrat, she says, “sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

Her demagoguery has elicited some frightening, intolerable responses. A recent Washington Post report said at a rally in Florida this week a man yelled “kill him!” as Ms. Palin delivered that line and others shouted epithets at an African-American member of a TV crew.

Mr. McCain’s aides haven’t even tried to hide their cynical tactics, saying they were “going negative” in hopes of shifting attention away from the financial crisis — and by implication Mr. McCain’s stumbling response.

We certainly expected better from Mr. McCain, who once showed withering contempt for win-at-any-cost politics. He was driven out of the 2000 Republican primaries by this sort of smear, orchestrated by some of the same people who are now running his campaign.

And the tactic of guilt by association is perplexing, since Mr. McCain has his own list of political associates he would rather forget. We were disappointed to see the Obama campaign air an ad (held for just this occasion) reminding voters of Mr. McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five savings-and-loan debacle, for which he was reprimanded by the Senate. That episode at least bears on Mr. McCain’s claims to be the morally pure candidate and his argument that he alone is capable of doing away with greed, fraud and abuse.

In a way, we should not be surprised that Mr. McCain has stooped so low, since the debate showed once again that he has little else to talk about. He long ago abandoned his signature issues of immigration reform and global warming; his talk of “victory” in Iraq has little to offer a war-weary nation; and his Reagan-inspired ideology of starving government and shredding regulation lies in tatters on Wall Street.

But surely, Mr. McCain and his team can come up with a better answer to that problem than inciting more division, anger and hatred.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In Which We Travel Across Town to See the Purdue All-American Marching Band

It was field trip day at Edgelea Elementary School.

And all across the county, as all the area's fourth- (along with some fifth-) graders trekked over to Purdue to see the Purdue All-American Marching Band in concert.

I rode along as a parent chaperone. I am not employed full-time - there is nothing stopping me from going on field trips. So I headed over to the school around 8.15 (Sylvia did not want to ride with me, choosing instead to ride the bus), ready to meet the bus for the trip.

The concert was lots of fun. I am a big enough geek that I loved watching and hearing the band. They played their usual - the fight song, other little snippets that they play during the games. They ran out onstage just like they do the football field, and the 330-piece band was joined by the Goldduster Dance Team, Color Guard, Twirling Line, Silver Twins, Girl in Black, and Golden Girl.

The twirlers are good. I've never gotten to see them that close (our seats are not that good at the games). They had one, two, sometimes three batons going (not my earlier post where I said my high school twirlers were not that good - they couldn't really twirl one baton, much less three at once). The twirling line tossed their batons from one to the other, and very few hit the ground.

Purdue has a great band. (Though I thought Marching Mizzou was great, too.) I love it when we go to the Christmas parade here in town. All the area high school bands march through, then along comes the Purdue band, blowing them all out of the water. They are huge, and just so much better.

As I said, I'm a geek. So I love this sort of thing.

What I didn't love? Sitting by the father of one of Sylvia's classmates. He went off on a diatribe, singing the praises of Fox News. Fair and balanced - right. Mostly I just nodded - what can you say? I wasn't going to change his mind. But if there's one thing I can stand, it's people who represent their position and have no idea what they're talking about.

And I am not intolerant - I have plenty of friends who do not vote the way I do. But I can respect their opinions because they are smart. I have on particular very dear friend, and while she and I agree on many, many things, we do not always vote the same (though this year she could well be voting the same as I am - I have not actually asked her because it does not matter - we are friends, regardless). I do know her husband will vote differently than I do. But you know what? He is smart, and he can talk about issues intelligently. And while we don't always agree, I truly respect his opinion. He jokes, on occasion, that he will turn us into Republican some day ... we'll have to see about that.

*****

Watched House Hunters tonight on HGTV - love that show. Not sure why, but we do. Tonight they featured a lesbian couple ... gotta love enlightenment!

Friday Night Lights (and other musings on high school)

I parked at the grocery today next to a Dodge Dart.

Which reminded me of high school. Lots of kids I knew - at least five - drove Dodge Darts. They would have been 15 years old or so when we were 16, so they were economical, still in relatively good shape, and a car that no teenager felt cool driving. Perfect.

(The one I parked next to was in remarkably good shape. Just thought I'd mention that.)

I was also reminded of high school when I attended the Jeff Homecoming game Friday night. Like many high school students, my Friday nights in the fall were spent at football games. Hanging out with friends, marching in the drum and bugle corps (big thing where I grew up, though I don't see them around here much), watching the game. My kids are doing the same thing.

Alison had on what I thought was a ridiculous get-up - she was outfitted totally in red and black, short skirt, black knee-highs with red tennis shoes. Then I got to the game, and I realized she looked fairly normal in comparison. Go school spirit!

It was cold out there on those bleachers. I had planned ahead and dressed warmly; my kids were a little chilly. Well, I say this about Sylvia - you don't think Maddie and Alison were sitting with us, do you? So we stayed through half-time, saw the king and queen crowned, watched the band, and headed home to hot chocolate.

The band did their entire competition show, "Sounds of Africa." We especially enjoyed the part where the color guard grabbed rifles to twirl - Gary wondered if that represented the white man invading. I kid you not - is the irony totally lost on them?

My high school didn't have a marching band - we were too small. But we did have the afore-mentioned drum and bugle corps. We were ... well, we were really pretty bad, as I recall. We actually had kind of cool uniforms - resembling those of Yeoman warders more than anything, only in blue and gold - but we were so small that is was hard for the group to make much of a statement. And no one had any real training in playing the drum. Or the bugles. Or the cymbals. Our baton twirlers did not know how to twirl (and consequently didn't); our flags did nothing. Our marching formations were lame. We were directed by an over-taxed music teacher who really knew very little about what we were to be doing. Try-outs were run by the girls in the corps, and positions were handed out as if they were for patronage.

The Jeff marching band was, by comparison, quite good. They have the advantage of a much bigger student body, and I'm guessing they have directors who actually know what they are doing. We were so small that everyone in the drum corps was already in 10 other activities; at bigger schools, kids can really commit to band, practicing 90 minutes a day. We didn't have that sort of dedication.

It is eye-opening to see what bigger high schools can do. I could share horror stories about stupid stuff that went on at my school, votes that were tightly controlled, administrators and teachers not allowing the democratic process, other grievances. Doesn't matter now. But I do know what it taught me. And I will be more vigilant for my own children.

I can't undo my own high school experience, one that I realize now was lacking in more areas than I care to admit. I'm glad my own girls are exposed to more opportunity, more teachers, more diversity. They'll be better for it.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Catch Up

Whew.

All I can say is, I obviously have plenty of things to do that are a lot more interesting than blogging. But I still enjoy the blog. I like to swap thoughts with friends, ruminate on my half-baked theories (of which there are many), and wax poetic (or not) on any number of other thoughts; you know, whatever bounces through my head.

Movie I want to see: Religulous. Love Bill Maher, love heavy satire/sardonic films. Can't wait. Wonder if we'll need to drive to Indy.

(Films and shopping are two of the things I actually do miss about life in the greater Houston metropolitan area. The trade-off, however, is so worth it.

Movie I won't be seeing: Nights in Rodanthe. I really love Unfaithful with Diane Lane and Richard Gere; the film was shot beautifully, and the writing was very good. Plus it featured Olivier Martinez, who made the movie totally watchable. Quite liked it, even if some found the outcome to be morally ambiguous. (Me, I'm not so hung up on morality in my films - frankly the term "morality" is relative.)

Anyway. I'm not sure another pairing of Gere and Lane is really necessary. Plus it is based on a book by Nicholas Sparks. Whom I may hate even more than Mitch Albom. Those books are manufactured sentimentality. I slaved my way through The Notebook and swore to never again be duped by such cloying nonsense.

What I did not do this weekend: Painting, organizing, tidying, reading ... you know, a bunch of stuff I should have gotten done.

What I did do: Jeff HS homecoming game Friday night, then church retreat all day yesterday. Much fun. Stayed way too late, hanging out with the music-playing folk, singing along. It was folk/traditional music, the way my dad and brother used to play. I wish they had been there. I was up way, way too late. And after that much communing with nature and fellow UUs, I figured I did not need to be back at the camp for the service this morning. Gary and Alison went (they were on clean-up detail anyway). I slept in, did laundry, and felt spiritual in my own way.

These are the side benefits of being UU - no guilt.

Watched This Week with George Stephanopolous today, which was good, as usual. He had George Will, some woman from Time, another man and woman I didn't know. They were pretty much in agreement: Unless Obama really screws up, the race is his.

I wouldn't recommend feeling too confident. There are four weeks left - anything could happen. Frankly, the race should be further apart right now. And it's not. Too early to predict anything for sure.

But I did love this:

Friday, October 03, 2008

I love ....

I love fall.

I love the crisp mornings, the nip in the air. I love the sights and smells. I love the mums outside my front door; I love the Halloween decorations that I will soon pull out and use to adorn my house. I love the pumpkins that will soon sit on my front porch. I love the changing leaves, even though I will have to rake them. I love to walk through them and hear the crunch.

I love election time. I know, some people feel it drags on forever. Me, I find it fascinating. I love to hear the commentary, read my Newsweek. I love to listen to NPR when they look closely at what the candidates have said and correct them, fact v. fiction.

I loved watching the debate last night. My friend Gale came over, and she and I were all set to cheer and jeer. Unfortunately, we lost power for about 20 minutes, missing the entire section on foreign policy.

I'll give Palin credit. She did well. Now the bar had been lowered after several disastrous interviews with CBS, but generally, she is comfortable in front of the camera. She tried very hard to appear "folksy," with her "you guys" and "betcha" answers. And she is a quick study - she learned her script and memorized her talking points.

But. She did not answer questions, choosing instead to turn everything back to energy. She's not alone - almost all politicians do that in debates. But Biden appeared to answer the questions with more substantive responses.

It was fun to have Gale here. But she's always fun to be around.

Let's see ... I am loving all my friends these days. There's Helen, my neighbor/BFF who is, unfortunately, busy with her job and her kids. But when I do see her, I just enjoy it that much more. There's JoAnn, Gale, Kat, Kitty, Cheryl, Karen, and any number of other women from church (I am sure I have left out several ... sorry). There are friend from my neighborhood - Ann, Debbie, Melanie, Christine. Friends I've known from Miller PTO days, like Kris, Margot, and Holly. Parents of my girls' friends, like Chris and Belinda, former co-workers, like Val and Kat (oooh - two mentions!). I love seeing them, going to lunch, running into them around town, going to parties.

I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such great women in my life.

I am loving my new bathroom. Sure, it's over budget. And it's not done. But it will be fantastic. One of these days.

And last, but not least, I love my husband, my girls. They make me happy every day. Well, almost every day.

I love ... I love ... I just love my life today. And nearly every day.