…because breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
jools never used to be the pickiest eater on the planet. in fact, he will eat (and enjoy) random things, like salmon tikka. but the boy will not eat fruit, nope. and the boy refuses to down yogurt. while he will sometimes eat a scrambled egg, options start to get limited here. and i was tired of feeding him cocoa krispies, which is what the boy really wants.
so i let my fingers do the walking, and i found a recipe for double chocolate pancakes from the site feeding my kids better. yeah yeah yeah, i know. feeding them chocolate chips for breakfast is not exactly health food. but there are good things, like eggs and milk in there. and any time the boy goes to school with a full belly, well, fist pumps all around.
anyway, i made some yesterday afternoon and set them out to cool. (and yes, i used my beloved guittard cocoa rouge powder in them.) the boy came home from school and was famished, probably because i put the kibosh on his buying cookies (to go with his lunch, which consists of a few snacks that all are acceptable — this week — on this list.) so i warmed up a pancake.
he loved it.
he asked for more.
BC came home from school on the late bus. girlfriend tried one and ended up eating THREE.
okay, okay, so i’m not feeding them sugar-free, natural perfection. but i think we have a keeper.
sadly, i don’t have a picture. (people kept on eating them.) so close your eyes, and imagine a brownish pancake with chocolate chips…
she gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse…
when our kids were born, we never assigned godparents. see, i never grew up with godparents, so it never occurred to me to select anyone in particular to be godparents to our kids. besides, i thought hopefully, all my brothers, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law will hopefully take some liking to our kids and that’s pretty cool, right? (lord knows i am extremely crazy about my nieces and nephews.) not only that, but as i have no biological sisters, i have some friends who my kids have called aunt so-and-so and who have always been very kind and generous to them, treating them as their own and even looking after them at critical junctures.
when BC was young, my friend M2k (or aunt M2k, to be specific) fell head-over-heels for my girl. somehow, M2K got the whole girly-glitter-pink thing that i never did (probably due to the whole i grew up with brothers thing.) over the years, M2k has gotten BC all sorts of wild and crazy stuff from her travels; she has visited the girl whenever she’s in town; she even watched the girl while i was in labor with jools. and BC is just as crazy about M2k, for mary loves the lamb you know. one day, little BC announced: mommy, aunt M2k is my fairy godmother.
i loved the image of M2k floating around with wings and a wand. it suits her generous and loving self so completely.
anyway, we were talking about M2k the other day, as the girl is excited for the day when M2k becomes a mommy herself. and somehow, our conversation turned us to thoughts of a mutual friend of M2k’s and mine, David. David doesn’t get over here too often; he lives a continent away. But when he visits, he always has paddington bears for everyone, or GOOD chocolate bars that you can’t get here, or even foreign coins for the boy’s collection. he is big-hearted and a dear softie and someone with whom i wish i could spend more time in real life.
David, you should know, also happens to be gay. it’s not something that has ever mattered to me, the girl, or anyone in my house for that matter. it certainly became clear the first time he and i ever went shopping together — Best. Shopping. Buddy. Ever. (outside of my mom.) but in general, he isn’t my gay friend. he is my friend who happens to be gay. he never said anything to the girl about this, as it really isn’t something that came into the conversation. (his kilt, of course, is another story. the girl was FASCINATED by the kilt he has.) but the girl knows, and the girl doesn’t really care.
why am i spending so much time belaboring this point?
the other day, BC and i were talking about music. somehow, we got on the topic of a singer named Adele who has a gorgeous voice. i mentioned that David had met her once, and she was wildly impressed. we ended up talking about how David was doing, and then she lo0ked at me and, with a straight face, said: mom, if Aunt M2k can be my fairy godmother, can David be my fairy godfather?
at first, i had to stifle a chuckle. the girl clearly had no idea of the weird double entendre she had made. then, i had to resist the urge to slap myself for even thinking such a thing. wow, things get awfully ingrained in your head. did you really say that? i asked the girl, thinking she was being extra cheeky.
you don’t think he’d want to be? she asked, straight-faced.
i got over myself quickly and realized that just because that stupid idea flashed through my brain, i didn’t need to flash it through hers and continue down the path.
you can ask him, i replied. i bet he’d be delighted.
i told the story to David later. bless his heart, he didn’t seem offended by my tale. in fact, i hope he wasn’t drinking anything when he read my message, as i can picture the beverage spit all over his keyboard. (and wot a waste of wine that would likely be.)
true to form, he said he’d be delighted. you know, how could he possibly refuse?
so it has been a thrilling day.
i’m still fighting some upper respiratory thing, finally with some ceftin since it’s the next antibiotic in my rolling list of meds. i’m feeling stellar, and that alone, makes it a great day. then, i knew it was trouble when i heard my cell phone play “darlington county” — that’s my ringtone for our public schools. seems i had to pick the boy up from school because he was whacked in the tooth on the playground by a metal piece of playground equipment that another boy was bouncing on… then, he threw up, so i took him home. after an initial rest period, he seems okay, so i’m just going with the no-concussion track for the day. hope i’m right.
you know, mom, there goes the whole idea of adam and eve.
exactly right, i replied.
9/11. a day that shall also live in infamy.
i’ve written before about what happened in my little world on 9/11. i think it’s safe to say that the day was the most terrifying day of my life, shepherding my then-two-and-a-half-year-old while panic-stricken in the flight path while wondering where on earth my husband, my aunt, my family could be. everyone who was alive and old enough can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing that day.
and we have a tree in our yard, one of the 182 planted all around our county, in memory of the pentagon victims. every day, i look at that tree, now tall and very leafy; and when i’m not cursing the fact that it needs a trim because it’s branches have overspread and sometimes whack my car in the driveway, i smile wistfully, thinking about a lady i never had the chance to meet, a lady who was my co-worker and friend’s wife, a lady who was on that plane. a lady whose daughter recently wrote a column that moved me. in that column, the daughter talks about how her mother, a clinical psychologist, would note that the last stage of grief is acceptance and renewal. instead of asking her to basically attend her mother’s funeral every year, she writes, why not instead make it a day to look ahead and to look inside at ways we can understand and behave better toward one another?
i must admit, the media lead-up to 9/11 is overwhelming. someone must be very afraid that americans will forget the day, as if it were some minor blip on the radar; and so we get panelists after panelists discussing foreign policy. we get memorials, we get survivors, we get audio and video from that fateful day. it’s all very compelling, like a car crash; but all these things are seared into the national psyche, and it’s as if we are looking backward and not forward.
perhaps it benefits a generation of kids who were not alive or not at least old enough to know what actually happened; but then i look at my daughter, who was a toddler at the time and know better. unlike me, she has had to practice emergency drills at school for terror attacks. she knows how best to hide in the coat closet and squish down along with her classmates in case a gunman is coming. you steer clear of the classroom door, she tells me, and you stay down. even my son, born after 2001, knows full well that sometimes, you need to practice in case a bad person is in your school. i remember when they had to figure out danger plans at my son’s daycare in case the children were on the playground and an attack took place. all these plans, and it all starts with protecting babies in daycare, children in schools. there’s a whole different culture of awareness now, since 9/11, at least down here in DC and, i suspect, in the NY metropolitan area. and it extends all the way down to our littlest citizens.
friends sometimes ask me whether i wish i could move away from this area. and after 9/11, i desperately wanted to. i live in the flight path of national airport and dulles, and the sound of planes overhead jarred me for months after the event. i would look into the sky and pray that the airplane overhead stayed suspended and continued soundlessly to it’s predetermined destination. i became afraid of planes, too, and flew infrequently. in short, i felt powerless in the face of horror, and i wanted to somehow get out of its way.
but the truth is that horror can be anywhere. and so can beauty be. after living here for over 20 years, i have grown to grudgingly love this area, a place that belongs to the whole nation. it’s a beautiful place, especially during the early spring, when flowers bloom amidst the urban world. every day, i can drive by the capitol, the national mall, abe lincoln and thomas jefferson, and see important visual statements about our nation and it’s values. it’s far from nirvana, of course, but it’s really a beautiful, important place.
i want to protect this beauty.
i want to be a part of the citizenry that says no to terror; i want to be a part of the group that lets terrorists know that while they do harm us in serious, painful ways, that we respond. and yes, we respond in grief at first — but we eventually get past that crushing weight and move into acceptance and renewal. my city’s not of ruins; it’s of people who fight terrorism simply by being here and living their lives. i have accepted that i am here, and i have accepted that, while painful and frightening as it can be to live here, i am going to live here as long as i can stand it. i am going to live here as long as i can love it.
and i intend to love it as long as i can.
i know, i know. i’ve been scarce.
it’s been a crazy year. but no matter what the gods threw at us, we were buoyed by the idea that at the end of june, we were going to spend 8 whole days at club med sandpiper in florida, followed by some time in south florida capped off by a visit with my old friends plus a phillies game versus the hopeless hapless helpless florida marlins. sun, beach, fun — what could be better?
to be sure, we have been to club med sandpiper before. 3 or 4 times, to be exact. (sort of.) we loved the fact that the kids loved having fun in the kids clubs while mom and dad did anything from flying trapeze time (no lie) to water skiing, to rollerblading to golf (okay, well, BS is the golfer; i find golf snoozeworthy.) there was a man as old as methuselah who taught the yoga classes, there was an adult pool and a restaurant for adults only as well as endless, delicious food.
and the bread…
club med sandpiper has undergone a pretty big renovation. where there once was a patio where the kids ran and ran, there’s now another pool, a lovely one with chaises all around. but if you want to sit in one of those chairs, you’d better put your stuff down on one to reserve it by about 8am or you’ll be sorely disappointed, as we often were. at times, we escaped to the adult pool, only to find other adults bringing their children to it. (!) one day, one lady removed her bikini top (a no-no on the beach, despite the number of people who were not from the US of A) while two clearly-under 18 boys ogled. (only adults have the clear wristband.) one actually stood up and stared at her freed boobage. i walked over to beavis while his butthead friend looked on. you do know this beach is for adults, right?
hey, he replied earnestly, i’m almost 17.
there was a lot of this sort of entitled attitude i experienced here on my visit, a surprise, maybe because this time, there was a predominance of americans?
there were some pretty major changes in the dining, and not just that my beloved chocolate bread was only served at lunch and dinner. firstly, the adult-only restaurant was gone, replaced by a lunch/dinner/post dinner snack type restaurant with an unchanging menu. one time, the girl and i went to have a snack. she ordered a cheese quesadilla with guac. i ordered the crudities, which were tiny, itsy-bitsy pieces of vegetables. (the carrot portion of the dish probably consisted in total of 1/2 of a baby carrot.) good thing i wasn’t hungry.
the main restaurant is buffet-style. in the past, there were simply massive tables where waiters would seat you and others together, travelers as well as the employees (or G.O.’s, as they are called). this was actually wonderful, as you ended up meeting other people easily and felt part of a community of sorts. not so anymore. now, people sit wherever they want, and there is a serious predominance of reserved tables. sure, if you have taken your family of 18 on vacation together, you probably want to sit together. but there were tables of 4 which bore the little Reserved For signs and which we found rather obnoxious. (of course, one day, one of the tables had a sign that said Reserved for Korn. sweet! my BS exclaimed. there are rock stars eating here!) we only sat with another couple once, by our invitation. we never sat with a G.O. (of course, we sat with plenty of flies, which aboundeth.)
anyway, you care about the food, and i do, too. gone is the freshly squeezed orange juice; i’m sure some stupid americans complained that it was too difficult for them to squeeze their own o.j. and why should i have to squeeze my own juice — i’m on vacation! (spoilsport.) the omelette guy is the best thing about breakfast; every day, i had my egg white omelette and my oatmeal and was happy as a clam. (note to self: are clams really happy? how would anyone know?) especially important, considering there was no chocolate or white chocolate bread at breakfast. (have i mentioned how much i love this stuff?) curiously, the skim milk went M.I.A. most mornings. i’m not sure who you have to sleep with to get skim milk instead of whole or 2%, but it was annoying.
i’ll combine lunch and dinner. it’s easy to combine them now, as they are pretty much interchangeable. in the past, there were theme nights, and it was fun, albeit scary, for an american palate to encounter some euro foods. not any more. usually, there was some asian (read: fried rice or something indian-like/curryish) sort of food which was heavy on the salt and limited on the actual spice or flavor. in fact, BC thought that they must have a basic asian flavor that they use for all their asian food, and it isn’t even good. there are often pieces of fish or fowl and sometimes beef. crab legs one night. but nothing stood out. and the desserts were completely lackluster and repeated. in the past, there were different desserts cranked out by the bakers. now? it’s the same few sorts, rotated, plus cookies at lunch. so dull, the kids and i decided to eat our beloved chocolate bread for dessert.
waterskiing and rollerskating are no longer part of the program. (well, you can waterski, but it costs extra now.) i tried taking a golf lesson to attempt to catch up to my BS and try to play on the pitch and putt. the lesson: how to grip a club. the instructor spent 10 minutes berating me because i have a lefty grip. then, he told me to stand behind him and watch. oh, and whenever he said left, i should substitute right. thanks. after not being able to see him, i waited until the question and answer time. only, too bad for me — he had a cellphone call to take. i waited patiently for him to finish, then i approached him. only once again, too bad for me — i encountered a french-canadian golf gang hell-bent on monopolizing the teacher’s time. literally every time there was a break, i tried to get his attention. sadly, i am not cute and don’t speak with a french accent, so he continued to pay attention to these amazons from montreal. finally, fed up, i left the course. i had stood in 90+ degree heat and wasted my time for an hour. thanks, dude.
(the husband had a similar experience in the teacher’s intermediate class. so it wasn’t just a beginner neeb like myself.)
i spent some time in the weight room, which is nice but small. people hog the ellipticals and the one treadmill. and people also don’t wipe down the equipment. (the husband was stunned as i brazenly told a man next to me not to forget to wipe down his machine that he had drenched. yes, i am that lady.) once again, another situation where you have to fight to get to do something you should be able to do on vacation. another hassle. and as in most cases, the G.O.s are not paying attention and don’t want to get into any sort of situation with patrons.
the girl is old enough for the teen club; she was allowed to basically wander the place at will, which she loved. but the boy was not so entranced by his group, the manatees. and frankly, i had the feeling that the G.O.s who ended up with his group probably had somehow felt like they had gotten the short end of the stick. i didn’t sense that any of them particularly liked kids, which is such a vastly different experience than what i had had when my kids were younger. back in the old days, G.O.’s tried to create a fun pride in the group with cheers and songs. i didn’t see any of that happening here.
and then, there was the slapping incident.
jools tells me that he wasn’t allowed to eat dessert. i asked him why. he tells me that he said: ew, gross! when this one boy stepped on a grape. and then, the boy slapped him. now, two things should be evident here to any of you who are parents: 1) the story makes no sense, and 2) WTF? a kid slapped my kid? so, like any concerned parent, i went to talk to the G.O. well, yes, she said, jools lost dessert because he didn’t listen and went to get dessert before she said he could get dessert. (which, for reasons i don’t understand, they were only allowed to get the ice cream and not the cookies, which is absurd. oh, and they wouldn’t let them have soda. hello? this is VACATION. i paid for all this food. let my kid eat whatever he wants, thanks very much.) this had happened the day before, so she wanted to teach him a lesson.
okay, i replied. so tell me about the slapping part.
well, she continued, a boy did slap julian. i asked her what happened to that boy.
he lost dessert as well.
hold the phone. are you telling me that not listening and getting dessert is on the same level as slapping another person?
of course not, she said. i talked to his dad. (i don’t think there was any time for her to actually have spoken to the father, and there was never any apology. i doubt this ever happened.) so the next day, i had a kid who didn’t want to go back to group, and i frankly didn’t want to send him there because i wasn’t certain he was being treated fairly and kindly. considering the kids camp is the number one selling point of this entire operation, this is a serious dealbreaker. while i adore spending time with my kids, we have always adored club med sandpiper because the kids have fun and the parents get a break. and now? no breaks for mom and dad.
so basically, we have here uninspiring food, G.O.s who don’t seem to care a lot about the kids in their care, pushy people, an inability to participate in most activities because they are crowded, adult-only places where the adult-only place is never enforced by anyone, and just not a lot of fun to be had at a not-so-cheap cost. we used to hold all other vacations up to club med sandpiper — we didn’t care that it wasn’t the fanciest place. we l0ved the feel of the place. we loved the community. we loved the energy. and now? there’s none of that. sure, the physical plant is probably somewhat improved, but in general? a serious, serious disappointment.
and this was our big vacation for a few years. thanks for nothing, club med.
in memory of a great and inspirational man.
today is the anniversary of the assassination of the reverend martin luther king, jr, MLK. i prefer to reflect on his life rather than his sad demise; but thanks to this classic u2 song, i will never, ever forget what happened early morning, april 4.
like any human being, MLK had his flaws, but i wonder why our society fixated on his misdeeds. when you think of all the good MLK did in his brief life, who really cares whether he had affairs? i’m beginning to think that so many people in power think that to be an option; i don’t agree, obviously. i think we expect our heroes to be made of something out of a storybook: but these leaders are, inevitably, flesh and blood. i suspect that if any of us were judged under a microscope, we would all be found wanting in some way.
the bigger question i think people ought to ask themselves, though, is what have i done for the world? i struggle with this question daily. one day, i was actually upset about my answer. people like MLK inspired me as a child to do something important for humanity. MLK helped african-americans and other people of color make important gains toward achieving their proper, equal place in american society. i do not believe i have ever done anything as critical.
some people just try to make it through the day. others are looking toward the weekend, the future, the promised time when they can achieve a measure of happiness. me, i want to do something good for the world. and i just wasn’t seeing how i was getting there as a stay-at-home mom. BC came up to me as i sat, slumped. what’s wrong, mom? she asked. i no longer hide my moods from my daughter; she knows me as a whole person as well as her mom.
well honey, i replied, when i was your age, i thought i was going to do something important to help people in the world. and i just don’t see how i’m accomplishing that at all right now.
BC, thoughtful 40-year-old-in-a-12-year-old-suit, breathed in for a second. then, she replied: you’re raising julian and me to be good people. isn’t that enough? i smiled and hugged her hard. perhaps it is, i mused to myself.
so i now have a dream. maybe it isn’t as lofty as MLK’s. maybe it will be far-reaching, maybe not. it is certainly inspired by the man.
and hopefully, it will be fulfilled through my children.
middle school. the loveliest time of life, methinks.
i’m very fortunate to have a relationship with my daughter where she still deigns to speak to me. at the ripe old age of 12+, girlfriend is supposedly at the point of life where parents are beyond embarrassing. i remember trips to the mall where i tried to walk several paces away from my mom (not always, of course — just when kids from school were sighted) and pretended to have been apparently spawned from thin air. don’t get me wrong — i have always, always adored my parents. but it was a tricky phase at times, balancing the person i was with the person i knew i should be.
girlfriend doesn’t seem to be bothered by that sort of nonsense. she’s clearly more mature at this age than i was. (arguably, she is still more mature than i am, but that’s fodder for a different day.) she walks with me. sometimes, she’s even willing to still hold my hand. (not when her friends are around, of course, but that’s to be expected.) and best of all, she continues to tell me all about the magical time she is having as a young middle schooler.
middle school, in her view at the moment, is full of dudes experimenting with their respective swaggers. i hear tales of boys using extremely profane language (one was talking directly to BC for a time. i called his mom, as i knew that if it were my kid, i would want someone to call ME. bless that mom’s heart; she heard me, understood me, and together, we worked to change that situation around. i am very grateful to her.) i hear of boys putting irish spring soap in their pants, mushing it around, then taking it out and giving it back to other boys, an act which seems unbearably odd. and of course, on her school bus, there is the issue of the traveling tampon. it is apparently the height of comedy to throw a tampon around the bus, although the other day, girlfriend was extra-mortified by this activity, as the aforementioned feminine protection product had what appeared to be some blood on it.
most of her girlfriends appear to be relatively sane at the moment, but of course there is talk about the girls who are rude, petty, and mean. there are the girls who are dressed up, date, and go grinding with the boys at a monthly local church dance. some things never change, i guess.
i asked the girl once about whether kids were dating in the 6th grade. her response?
well, yeah, if you call dating sitting together in the cafeteria, hanging outside during lunchtime, and then, if you’re really, really crazy, walking up the street afterschool to the harris-teeter to go get a free sugar cookie.
i have been informed that this sort of activity is not for her at the present time. i am, in short, relieved.
middle school is like a cauldron of sturm und drang. i continue to share with her my tales of my time in hell, where the boys ran around and snapped your bra straps without anyone screaming sexual harassment and where having glasses and/or braces was pretty much a sentence into your own private gulag for a few years. mercifully, the latter seems to not be in play anymore, but it is still a rocky, rocky time. her tales sometimes are so cringeworthy; they remind me of times i didn’t particularly enjoy. and yet, i hope i continue to hear her tales, no matter how graphic, gory, or gross.
for as she crosses the street toward adulthood, it’s sometimes a good idea to continue to hold hands while in the middle of the road. at least, for now.
because you just never know where your inspiration will come from…
so yesterday was purim. purim, to me, is the very best jewish holiday going. chanukah gets more press because here in america, it has ended up in a tit-for-tat with christmas. american jews run to the shops to buy altogether too many things for their offspring, because G-d forbid jeremy or sarah feels left out of the gift-giving frenzy. oy veis mer.
but purim? hands down, it rocks.
i sometimes call purim the jewish mardi gras. (well, only in my little bear brain, of course: obviously, it has nothing at all to do with the tale behind mardi gras, but it’s almost as much fun.) sure, you have to sit through the reading of the book of esther (the megillah, as in the whole megillah fame. not to be confused with the gorilla of a similar sounding name.) but every time the evil haman is named in the story, you are encouraged to make boatloads of noise (vuvuzelas, anybody?) to blot out the sound of he who should not be named, one of the bigger villains who wanted to kill all the jews. (sadly, this appears to be a recurrent theme in our cultural history.) it’s literally the only time i let my kids yell boo in public (though in all fairness, i haven’t yet taken them to a yankees game.)
you’re also supposed to get seriously wasted on this holiday:
A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai”
honestly, as a mom and as a person of a certain age, i don’t really ever get to do this. and i still didn’t get to do this. but it’s nice to know in the back of my mind that i’m supposed to do this on this one-time-only basis each year.
i did, however, eat my weight in hamentashen this year, the three-sided cookie that we red sea pedestrians eat as a traditional holiday treat. old skool ashkenazi jews like to eat them with poppy, prune, or apricot filling. bleh. over the years, though, i have enjoyed more and more delightful fillings, like cherry, chocolate, and basically anything not poppy or prune oriented. i mean, imagine if you did get drunk AND you had eaten a lot of prune-filled delights? i shudder to think.
so what the hell does this have to do with a psychedelic hit, you might ask? (well, besides the being wasted part of things.)
many synagogues put together a purim carnival for the children. ours was no exception — lots of games and a moonbounce for the kiddies to enjoy. BC missed the entire thing because of a prior girl scout commitment (and BOY, was she mad.) but jools? he had the time of his life. he played all sorts of carnival games, winning tickets to earn small prizes. that being said, his eye was on a particular prize — candy. he loaded up on a lot of hershey kisses and miniatures.
but then, he went up to a friend of mine, who was running the prize area, and he was counting his tickets. how many do you have? she asked him. he continued to count.
i’m trying to see whether i have enough tickets. i want to get a peppermint patty for my sister. she loves them. i want to get one for my dad, too.
bless my friend’s heart. thinking of your sister and your dad is a mitzvah. you can have one for each of them, no tickets required.
i am always incredibly grateful when a child does the right thing and an adult reinforces the message. it really does take a village to raise a a child, and moments like these, i’m so glad to find like-minded people in my little village of sorts. it’s magical, it’s meaningful.
and, like incense and peppermints, it’s so sweet.
…and don’t be a bully.
a few weeks ago, i crushed on the housemartins. this week, i am crushing on a former member of that band, norman cook, aka fatboy slim. while an old friend of housemartins’ leader paul heaton, cook eventually left to go do the type of music he truly loved — a mish-mosh of danceable sampling. i was never a huge fan of sampling — i always thought it was the lazy person’s way to music. but then, when i heard what fatboy slim did, i was hooked. (in fact, one of my fondest memories is of my then-two-year-old daughter dancing around the family room to praise you.)
in don’t let the man get you down, cook samples an old hippie anthem, signs by the five man electrical band.
anyone a little older than i am (or my age with older siblings) can remember that song and how it talks of society’s push to make us all conform. just that first line in don’t let the man get you down is enough to make a person feel a little hippy-righteous. and now, it’s danceable. what could be better? sure, the video is a bit creepy; but it could have been creepier… it could have featured christopher walken.
oh wait — he did that a different time, didn’t he…
anyway, at this juncture, the man is getting me down. the house just passed a bill that is so riddled with insanity, i just don’t know what to think. instead of tackling the real 800 pound gorillas of defense or entitlement programs, the cowardly republicans picked on basically everything and everyone else. one congressman was unhappy that planned parenthood provides abortions as part of their services (not with federal funds, mind you — they do all sorts of counseling and other stuff with federal funds, but they are not allowed by law to provide abortions using federal money), so he put in a provision to eliminate ALL federal funding from that specific organization, legislating his own personal vendetta. (and for you folks out there who think that funds can end up providing abortions anyway, they don’t. they can’t. and established and above-the-board organizations like PP know better than to even try something like that for fear of losing their needed funding.)
oh, and instead of discussing and debating the clean air act, the republicans have taken passive-aggressive behavior to new levels, slashing the EPA and it’s ability to regulate dangerous air pollution in this same legislation. no, it’s too difficult to talk about clean air — which by the way has provided a great return on investment — $4 to $8 in economic benefits for every $1 spent on compliance, according to the non-partisan U.S. Office of Management and Budget. not sure what these folks have against clean air, but this is not the legislative vehicle from which to essentially create such a huge policy decision without any conversation.
let’s see… defunding PBS? WTF did Big Bird ever do to you, GOP folks? do you have any idea how valuable a resource PBS is and has been to our nation? one of the rare safe places for my kids to watch TV without getting bombarded by half-hour-long cartoons which serve only as infomercials for some toy. i adore american masters, i adore american experience, i adore my eastenders, i adore so very much about my local PBS station! nature, science, news, art, history — it’s all here at PBS. i cannot begin to tell you how much i have learned all my life thanks to PBS. and you’re taking this away?
other highlights, according to the washington post:
If enacted as is, the GOP plan would eliminate numerous programs, including the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs the AmeriCorps program, and it would terminate federal funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It would cut $600 million from border security and immigration programs. It would eliminate nearly $80 million for the District and slash funding for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay.
so let me get this straight: we’re against fostering community service. we’re against border security and immigration programs that work with the people who are trying to get in here legally. oh, we know you hate the District and its denizens (oh, and btw: fuck you back for doing this when we truly have taxation without representation.) and what do you have against the crabs you love to eat from the chesapeake? i’m so very, very confused about the messages you people are sending.
but you’re terrified of the giant and true drivers of the federal deficit — medicaid, medicare, defense, social security. oh, and why would that be? oh, well, those are thornier problems that require actual intellect and serious thought, something you apparently are incapable of accomplishing. and something which can’t easily be explained to your constituency in a solid, 30-second sound bite. so instead, you pick on all these other items, showing your constituents that you have the courage of your convictions and the balls to carry it out. only what you’re doing sounds to me a lot like what we moms call bullying. you’re feeling afraid of something or someone bigger than you, so instead, you’re taking it out on weaker things. someone ought to give you people a time-out.
what you’re doing isn’t going to mean diddly-squat in the big budgetary picture, but it sure is going to screw your constituents down the road. (look up pyrrhic victory.) and you will eventually get that long-deserved time-out.
so yes, the man has gotten me down a bit this past week. but i’ll be damned if i stay down.
oh, electricity. i am your bitch.
our part of the world is not known for dealing well with any sort of precipitation. people line the supermarkets, clamoring for bread, milk, and toilet paper whenever the weather reports hint of any impending white stuff. couple that with a hard, wet snow, very old trees in serious need of help, inadequate snow plowing on side-streets, and lots of above-ground lines, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
there we were, sitting around, basking in the joy of a potential snow day on wednesday night. the kids had all gotten out of school early due to the impending storm. the boy was extra-happy because he got out of a gymnastics class. the girl was in ecstasy because her religious school was cancelled. i was thrilled because i had cooked not one, but TWO different dinners, which would allow me to spend less time cooking and more time lazing around or playing. we had just finished a game of monopoly cards (during which i had one two out of three games), when suddenly, the fireworks.
we looked out the window to see a transformer blowing up on the main road and spewing all sorts of little fireworks in the sky. then, a minute later, another one blew similarly. then, another. whoomp, there it went: our power was done for.
fortunately. BS is the sort of guy who likes to be prepared. we had all sorts of flashlights, a crank radio, and a good attitude… for a time, anyway. we brought the kids’ sleeping bags into our room, and we all prepared to camp down together in the chilly evening. unfortunately, the ancient trees on my street were sagging scarily underneath the weight of the snow. huge branches were snapping. the kids were terrified that a tree would fall and take us down with it. the boy calmed down relatively easily, as i started to sing songs in the dark much like the songs i sang to the kids when they were infants. he fell asleep, his head in my lap. the girl, however, was not as easily swayed; she, like me, was up for a large part of the night.
oh nervous night.
the next day, we hoped for the best. BS put food into iced coolers and dug out the sidewalk. i dug out the mom-mobile with some help from my neighbor across the street, who simply stopped work on his driveway and just started in. (i am blessed to have some truly wonderful neighbors. i am baking something as a little thank you.) BS dug out the prius. the kids sleighed for a time before my other neighbor found a dangerous spot and stopped all the cul-de-sac kids from sledding. the entire street lost power, and the entire street lost phone service. my cell was dying away, and no recharging in my car was really cutting it for some reason. and dominion power was continually telling us that nearly 200,000 people were without power and that they could not yet give us a time estimate for repair.
and the house got colder and colder.
so BS realized he needed to think about plan B. unfortunately, foraging for potential hotel rooms required his computer. i suggested he hit up our beloved local library branch, where i suspected he could plug in for awhile and use some of their free wifi. so off he went to the library. upon his return, he shared two things: 1) most of the hotels were looking for upwards of $200 for one night, and 2) people around here are seriously obnoxious. apparently, some of our fair residents decided that the library was their home away from home to charge all their items. one enterprising person and her friend/family member brought a surge protector and proceeded to plug everything from phones to ipods into it, while taking over the other plug for one additional item. ultimately, BS found a spot in a hallway to plug in his little pc.
upon his return, the lights went on in the homes behind us. we felt hopeful and decided that we’d go out to dinner and then, upon our return, decide whether to hit up a hotel or stay home. after a yummy, caloric dinner, we returned home to discover that the power remained out. BC had been invited to a friend’s for a sleepover, so we brought her there and then the three of us set off to find a hotel. our path was blocked by a police blockade, so we meandered our way over to said hotel. only, too bad for us — no room at the inn. by this time, the boy was falling asleep in the car, so we figured we would hunker down again at home. we put the boy into his sleeping bag, covered him up, and then we, too, tried to fall asleep in a r e a l l y cold house under about a million blankets.
i was afraid to fall asleep because i knew that the minute i finally fell asleep, the power would go on, the lights would pop on, and all sorts of things would scare the bejeebers out of me. i fought sleep for awhile, but eventually, i succumbed to a fitful rest (which included a bizarre dream about my marrying owen wilson, who seems like a nice, sensitive guy but who isn’t really my type) until at 5am, the giant light over our bed went on, along with every other electrical thingy in the house. yeah, it scared me. but it also delighted me.
and now today, we take all the items the husband saved out of the cooler. ( he really loves me; he, who loathes coffee, saved my vanilla creamer along with the milk.) we buy some more stuff. and we start over.
and i start to think about how, in some small way, it was awfully nice to have the family unplugged. if only for 34 hours, anyway.
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