Friday, December 3, 2010

The Colander's Masquerade

Poem 2 for my Creative Writing class this semester. I had fun with this one, although I found it even more difficult. Now I just have to pick one of the two to use for my final portfolio. Decisions, decisions.



The Colander's Masquerade


She spends many of endless moments,

Trying to find something she needs

really needs

It keeps her from getting to places-

important places

without which she cannot succeed.


A colander resembles her poor brain-

leaky brain

Which hinders her quest to recall

So please help her find her lost car keys

Yes! Those keys.

Thanks! Goodbye, there's a really great sale at the mall.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

putting up the tree

The time has come, at least for me to begin the preparations for the holidays. It means that Thanksgiving and the youngest child’s birthday have both passed and I can now set up decorations for Christmas, putting up the tree, stringing up some lights around the place. I also can now get the presents I had purchased early, out of hiding, and get them wrapped. Our tradition is to put things up after Thanksgiving and then take it all back down right after Christmas, that way we give the November celebrations the attention due them without another sign of a pending holiday already in place.

But back to the tree. I have long used artificial trees. They are re-usable, do not bother anyone’s allergies, and I don’t have to worry about keeping one watered. Given my record with house plants, a fake tree is the way to go.
What I hate about them is the setting them up. We must first drag the box out of the attic and down those tiny pull down stairs. Ok in reality we hope there is nothing in the box’s path and just let it fall down the stairs. The tree is not breakable and the box is amazingly heavy. Then comes the putting together of the branches. I have one of those older style trees that you have a base, then these poles and all these branches that you stick into slots arranged around the pole in specific places. Somewhere along the line you need to “fluff” the branches. Some do it after placing the things into their slots, others do it before. We are divided in my house, which is the proper time to do so. Either method will result in scratched up hands as the fake needles on those branches are just as scratchy as the real ones, only minus the pine tar.

Then comes the time to string the lights, those damned lights. I sent Megan to the store for new lights this year because most of my old ones were not working any more. It took two trips as she realized after she got them home that the kind she had purchased weren’t the kind that you could connect together. Why do they make lights that you can’t connect together? That to me makes no sense, as I never need just one string of lights on anything I use them for.
It usually takes two of us putting the lights, and as has been the case in the past three years, at least one small cat. The two people are to wrap lights around the tree in an even fashion, the small cat to attempt to pull branches out of the slot, rip the light cord out of someone’s hand and cause general mayhem.

The beaded garland came next. We applied it to the branches of our tree in much the same fashion as we did the lights. We then took a several day break in hopes that the little cat in residence would get bored with the tree. It took all those several days and several repairs to the placement of lights and garland before he got bored.

Finally we put all the ornaments and made a sad discovery. My tree topper wouldn’t work on my tree. I downgraded to a smaller tree and the one I had bought for the big one, now at Ashley’s house was much to heavy. The topper being a filigreed cross-like item would just tip right on over on it’s way to the floor. I had to improvise and used the biggest bow I could find. It turned out ok. What I do miss is the angel I used to have. It was purchased at a specialty shop in Brevard and was made out of corn husks. She was really quite pretty, so lightweight and was painted a soft blue with gold accents and pretty gold wings. I had her for years. Then one day a kitten in residence, or one of its cohorts, decided to climb the Christmas tree. His foray into that artificial pine wonderland dislodged my pretty corn husk tree angel from her place of honor. I discovered an angel wing a good fifteen feet from the rest of her, gnaw marks clearly visible. No cat confessed to the crime.

I don’t doubt that this year the pristine quality of my little tree’s d├ęcor will only last for a little while. There are already signs of brightly shining balls being dislodged and making a feline induced exodus away from my tree. I can only hope that they leave the presents in a shred free state, or that I am not awakened at three a.m. By the sounds of ornaments and fake tree hitting the floor, being compromised by the weight of too many cats.

Every year, I vow to forgo the tree, because my tree and its decorations always seem to come out on the losing end of things with the furry members of my family around. But every year, I simply cannot resist the lure of a pretty tree all lit up with presents for my children underneath. By the day after Christmas, when I’ll take everything down and lug it back up to the attic, my tree will demonstrate just a fraction of its former glory. But it will all be worth it. We all will enjoy the tree while its up. Besides I have mostly non-breakable ornaments this year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do I feel old yet?

I happened to be one of those women who had all her children young. By the time I was 30, I potty training my youngest. This coming Saturday that youngest child of mine will be turning 21. She can’t wait and has been counting down the days for two weeks now. I’ve already gotten the request for what kind of cake she wants and what to fix for her breakfast. Wow, my baby girl, 21, a full blooded adult, with all the rights and privileges thereof.
How did that happen? Just last week, she was protesting putting on anything I suggested for her to wear, thinking staying in dirty pajamas, and slightly damp diapers was just find for a day of play. Just yesterday I was enjoying getting to embarrass her in front of her friends at middle school. Now she is just months away from having a degree and, her first grown up job, and (gasp) moving out into her first apartment.

When my oldest graduated from high school, I had just turned 37. I was asked by someone,”Do you feel old yet?’ I quickly answered. “No I’ll feel old when my youngest graduates high school.” Obviously I wasn’t thinking too quick on my feet that day. Seven incredibly short years later, my youngest graduated high school, and that stupid question was asked again. In perfect timing I answered. “Of course not, I’ll feel old when she graduates from college.”

Fast forward a couple of years, and I find myself on the crux of yet another educational milestone. Megan will be graduating from Spartanburg Methodist College in May. The chances that certain question will be rearing its ugly head again, is fairly high. I am not looking forward to it, as it is now quite obvious that I really wasn’t thinking through my responses in the past.

I called to wish my son a happy birthday this summer, and when I hung up the phone I was horrified to realize that in three years he will be 30, THIRTY! I am not supposed to have kids that age! But then I remember that I am well past the age that my son is now. I just find it keep finding it hard to believe how quickly I got from his age, when his youngest sister was a baby to now.

So back to that question, “Do I feel old yet?”. Does the fact that I have children old enough to own homes and to have kids of their own, mean I have to head right to the little old grandmother section of the local clothing store and picking out a housecoat? Does the fact that the actual color of my hair is a well guarded secret, or that I really don’t get the music some people listen to mean that I have arrived at “old” yet? Does the fact that my body is starting to display small signs of natural degeneration mean that I am old? I certainly hope not, because I am simply not ready for that label.

In reality, I don’t feel old. I do feel tired as my schedule is crazy, and having asthma can slow me down, and keep me from feeling rested. But old? Old to me is more a state of mind then how many candles it takes to set of the fire alarm. There are youthful 90 year olds and ancient 30 year olds. For them it is more, at least I think, on how they look at life and act within their views of how life is then the state of their health or their physical age.

Personally I think that I am just hitting my stride in life, embarking on a what I call my Brand New Future. I figure I still have enough left in me to be able to work a few more decades, and enjoy the challenges that may come my way. If I am fortunate, then my genetics will resemble that of my dad and his mother, ages 76 and 96 respectfully. Both are still active, vibrant, and highly talented people. If that is the case, I’ve got a whole lot of life yet to live yet. I am sure that one day I will willingly admit that yes, I am old. I just haven’t gotten there yet, nor do I plan on arriving anytime in the near future.

As for that dreaded question, “Do you feel old yet?” My answer this time will be, “No, I’ll feel old when my grandchildren graduate high school.” Chances are that I’ll give a new answer when that day arrives.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fooling Herself

I have been taking an introductory class in Creative Writing, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is of course a prerequisite for the Creative Writing major I am working to pursue. We have been spending the last few weeks working in poetry. I freely admit that I am not the best poet, as I find other writing styles much easier. However one of the reasons that I write is to share, the other is that I really enjoy the process. Hopefully feed back that I receive will help me continue to improve what I do. One of my goals is to be a better writer, and how else to improve but to try different styles, such as poetry. This poem is the first that I have really spent real time trying to make it perfect. It isn't of course, but hopefully I can improve on later efforts.

Fooling Herself

she stands before her bedroom door
in yellow striped pajamas,
deciding how to fabricate
the lies he made her promise.
but first she must herself convince 
the hazards of her failing.
she smooths her hair, and sees the phone
which beckons from the table
a different choice it offers her
To freedom dipped in promise 
not settled yet which way to go
the known or one uncertain
It is herself she must convince
the one she keeps on fooling.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Citizen Spartanburg hold First Chalk Talk Event

Last night Citizen’s Spartanburg hosted an event called “Chalk Talk”. The speaker for the event was Abraham Goldberg who is the associate Political Science professor at USC-Upstate. His chosen subject was entitled “The importance of Social and Community Connection, Finding Happiness”.

That dry sounding topic proved to be quite fascinating as professor Goldberg showed the audience an interesting connection between personal happiness and connections one has available to them within the community. Using a survey done by a South Korean entity, that polled people in ten different cities around the world, Professor Goldberg showed how things such as close availability to shopping, religious organizations, public amenities and volunteer opportunities had impact on a person’s happiness. The closer and the wider the availability the more happiness seemed to be scaled.

He acknowledged that things such as the wider impact on automobiles and the exodus from the inner cities have played a part as people have put more space between each other in recent decades. Now it is more difficult to interconnect because things such as shopping, homes and parks are not close together, or found in multiple use facilities. Several other factors have played a part as well, but the connection of these factors was the focus.
He also pointed out that the GDP or the gross domestic product, or what tracks income, does not necessarily ensure happiness, but it can help. What was found to be more important was things like living standards, health, education, personal activities, political and social voice and connection and the environmental issues. All of these are things that tend to be interconnected within communities. The more they were available, the more happy people tended to be.

The fact that technology has tended to pull people apart instead of together also seems to be a factor. Things like social networking via the internet, online classes and telecommuting, longer commutes to and from work, and the fact that busy lives tend to reduce the amount of time families spend together, all demonstrate a trend to insulate ourselves from others rather than connect. This trend seems to correlate with reduced happiness.

While Professor Goldberg offered no solutions, what he did was point out something that Citizen Spartanburg has already recognized, that community is vital, and a community that interconnects can be quite the happy one. During the question and answer session it was pointed out that Social Media such as Facebook can be a very helpful tool to bring people together into the same room, to discuss how we can help our community grow and thrive. It was in fact how many of the audience learned about the event.

Having data presented, and information given that suggests that caring for our own communities is important just reemphasized what several of us already know. We know that our community matters, and when community matters more want to be involved in that community. It was pointed out by several in the audience that Spartanburg is a bit unique, and that is not a bad thing. In some ways Spartanburg has bucked the trend to move away from the inner city district, and is recognizing the value of what is offered within that district. There has been some progress made at making a community more interactive.

In just our downtown area, more has opened up, within just the past year, to give residents more options without having to get into a car and drive somewhere else. There is of course more that we can do, much more to help foster businesses, and residents, and governments working together to encourage a trend towards more rather than less interconnectedness. What can be done in the city limits of Spartanburg can happen in every community and neighborhood in the county.

Will it happen? Probably not completely, as dynamics in the suburbs and rural areas do not offer nearly as many practical options for things as multi-use buildings as if found within towns and cities, but it is quite possible to encourage such development where it is possible

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Joining the Tea Party

You’d think that after the election all this talk about The Tea Party would have died down by now. But apparently pockets of tea party enthusiasts are still going strong. In fact I was recently approached about attending a tea party event. I started to resist, but their argument for my attending was so strong that I just didn’t have the heart to say no. Who knew that I would walk away being a convert for the cause?

Wait, I know what you are thinking!

Before you dismiss me as someone who’s views on the tea party just flip-flopped so violently a landed bass couldn’t do better, let me introduce you to my recruiter. She’s very persuasive, her cause was just, and damned if all she had to do was look at me with those big blue eyes of hers and I was hooked. Plus she’s three, how can you say no to attending a three year old’s tea party?

This boys and girls is what the tea party is supposed to be about. It’s not voters who are angry at the government and attend rallies that hire speakers to get them even more angry, but offer little in the way of real solutions, other then voting people less conservative then them out of office.

Its about sitting around eating little sandwiches, drinking out of undersized cups, pinkies up of course, as you watch or share in the play of adorable children. If you are wearing a silly hat, then so much the better, and in this party silly hats were mandatory. You spend the time socializing, celebrating and simply enjoying time together apart from all the craziness of life.

You can’t rush a tea party, you slow down, especially if it is for a little girl’s birthday party and she is opening presents. She takes her sweet time opening presents, despite our urging for her to move on to the next one. We were told a firm “slow down!” by her. Good advice actually. She took the time to examine all the fun stuff, paying little attention to the practicable, such as clothes. She knew Mommy would ensure that they would be worn. She sat patiently, ok, only kinda patiently, as an adult struggled struggled to remove a toy from its child and adult proof packaging.

Who decided that to get a doll out of the package one needed a very sharp implement? Maybe the political style tea partiers would be spending their time well working on overturning such a ridiculous idea.

My granddaughter’s tea party themed birthday event was the hit that her parents knew that it would be. Helene’s mom and dad pulled out all the stops, even making a very cute, but barely edible tea pot shaped cake, as well as some very pretty and quite tasty other treats. We had lemonade instead of actual tea, and even got the use of some tea sets provided by one of Helene’s great-grandmothers. That her daddy was there made it even more special. He is home on leave from Afghanistan and will fly back after Thanksgiving. It was extra special seeing that family reunited again after such a long absence, even if they will be separated again for a time.

Now you can see why I am an ardent tea party-er. With events like that how could I not be?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dressing Mr. Dunwiddy



Ok, You will be reading a short story I wrote for my creative writing class. Why a short story instead of a ancedote about my kids or the cats or the fact that I lost my carkeys again? Why am I not writing a serious minded piece on stuff I find important? Well for a couple of reasons, the most obvious is that I had already written the short story, and time these days is in constant short supply. Posting something already done, and edited to my professor’s standards, is the easy way out, and leaves me some time to study for a test I have tomorrow. Plus we’ve had a lot of serious stuff, important things we’ve been discussing here and at Flying Oskar. That is of course great, and we welcome that input, but every now and then a change of pace is needed. So I thought maybe a bit of fiction would offer that change of pace. Besides, its been a few months since I’ve delved into the world of fiction here. So a short story is what you get, like it or not. 


Dressing Mr. Dunwiddy.


Nicole Jamerson walked up to the front door of the house and rang the doorbell. As she waited for someone to answer she absently adjusted her glasses that had, yet again, slid down her nose, then smoothed down the small wrinkles from her skirt. A few moments later, the door was opened by a middle aged woman in a blue sequined gown.

“Err, Hello, I am Nicole..”

“I don’t care who you are! Just get your skinny butt in here. I need you to get my husband dressed and out the door.” The woman opened the door wide enough to let Nicole in.

Nicole stepped into the foyer. “He’s not dressed yet?”

“Of course not, that’s your job.”

“But, I’m not,” But by now the woman had started to walk away and was halfway up the stairs that curved upwards from the entrance.

Nicole, paused for a moment, not quite sure what to do next, but realizing she was being left behind, and that she wasn’t going to find out standing there, hurried after the older woman.

Stopping at a door the woman turned to Nicole, who now that she’d had a chance to get a better look at the woman, readjusted her age in her head by at least 20 years. “Surgery,” Nicole thought, “and lots of it.”


The woman nodded in the direction of the door. “He’s in there. And please make sure he wears socks and a damned tie.”

“Socks?”

“Naturally! and they better be black.”

“Mrs. Dunwiddy,” Nicole, began. “I am just here to ensure that your husband arrives at the awards ceremony on time and is prepared to give his acceptance speech. The agency said nothing about dressing him too.”

“I can’t help it if the agency neglected to tell you that part of the job! Just get it done and fast. I have a red carpet to walk down.” With that the woman, turned on her stilettoed heel and strode quickly down the hall, the sequins of her gown casting reflective lights along the hallway. Reaching her own room, she entered and slammed the door behind her.

“I see you’ve met my wife.”

Nicole squealed. Turning quickly she saw Mr. Dunwiddy. There stood 72 year old humorist whose books had been on multiple best seller’s lists and had been adapted into three movies. He had abundant silver hair, dancing blue eyes and was wearing only what God had given him at birth.

“You’re, you’re,”

“Naked, I know. Come on in. I know why you’re here. You are going to try to talk me into going to this award thing, so give it your best shot.” He walked to a large desk and sat down behind it, to Nicole’s relief.

Nicole took a couple tentative steps into the room and tried to focus only on his eyes. “Mr. Dunwiddy, I was sent here by the agency to ensure that you were prepared to attend the awards ceremony, and that you had a prepared acceptance speech, and to provide transportation for you and your wife. Dressing you is not part of my job description.”

“Call me Howard. Just how old are you?

“How old? I’m 29.”

“Damn,” He said, shaking his head. “They get younger every year. My granddaughter is just two years younger then you.”

“Mr. Dunwiddy.”

“Howard.”

“Mr. Dunwiddy, err, I mean, Howard, I need for you to get dressed so I can take you and your wife to the awards ceremony.”

“I know. I am just not going to go. I never attend those damned things. They are unbelievably boring, but every year my agent tries to convince me. Every year he fails. Trust me, young lady, I got better ways to spend my evening, like taking a nap in a comfortable chair.”

Nicole pushed her glasses up from where they had slid again. “So you are telling me that every year Mr. Kibble, or an assistant like myself, comes to your house to try and convince you to take your,” she waggled her fingers towards him, “ un-naked self to an public ceremony, where you often are a winner of an award, and every year you turn them down?”

“That’s right.”

“And just how long have you been doing this?”

“I’ve been naked for five years.”

“Excuse me. What?”

“I had prostate cancer five years ago, and the treatment gave me weird side effects where wearing clothes felt like lead weights on my body. So I stopped wearing them. Then I decided that even after the treatment was over, I was more comfortable this way. Now I only wear clothes when I absolutely have to.”

“What does your wife think?”

“Oh she hates it,” Howard said with a grin. “Which just adds to the pleasure of not wearing clothes.”

“I am guessing that You two don’t like each other very much, do you?”

Howard, picked up a photo of his wife sitting on his desk. “We used to love each other fiercely.” He put the photo down. “But then we had kids, they grew up, and started having kids of their own. Somewhere along the way we just grew apart. Now we just aggravate the shit out of each other.”

Nicole, couldn’t help but smile at that. She took a breath. “So nothing I say can convince you to put clothes on and attend the awards ceremony?”

“Nothing at all.”

“Nothing?”

“Nope, wasting your time. Elaine can just go without me again.”

“Oh, I do believe she is counting on you not going. Thank you Mr. Dunwiddy for allowing me to try to convince you otherwise. I’ll just go now. It was,” Nicole paused. ”Interesting meeting you.” She was already out into the hall, when she heard. “Wait!” Hiding a smile, she turned back.

“What do you mean she’s counting on my not going.”

Nicole walked back into the room, and sat down, for the first time on one of the leather chairs facing the deck. “Have you ever watched the award shows you are supposed to attend?”

“Hell no! They are nap inducing in person. Why would I subject myself to watch that crap on television? Hell, even the commercials are boring!”

“So you’ve never seen your wife accept an award in your absence?”

“I try to avoid watching her talk in person, why?”

“It has everything with why I think you should go, Mr. Dun, I mean Howard. It’s a very good reason, one that would make the evening quite enjoyable for you, if you choose to attend. One even you can’t deny.” Nicole said, feeling success on the horizon.

“Ok. But I smell a con, but you have me curious, what reason?”

“Your wife.”

“My wife? What does she have to do with this?”

“She doesn’t want you to go.” Said Nicole, as she pulled a nail file out of her purse and began fine tuning her nails.

“My wife has nagged me for weeks to go this thing!” Howard pointed to a black tux hanging on a stand in one corner. “She took that torture device to the cleaners, accepted invitations for us to three after parties, and has spent a small fortune getting herself presentable. How can you say she doesn’t want me to go? ”

“She doesn’t.”

“Of course she does! And if I go I’m stuck in a tux being bored out of my mind and trying not to look it!” Howard looked at Nicole, who by now wasn’t even trying to contain her smile. “Dammit girl, what in the hell are you smug about?”

“Your wife is counting on you Not to go. She only makes such a fuss because she knows you would be suspicious otherwise.” Nicole crossed her legs, and examined her fingernails making sure no snags remained. “She then goes to the awards without you and puts on a big show about how you work so hard that you can’t pull yourself away from your work, blah, blah, blah. Her dramatic, often tearful acceptance of your award almost always goes over the set time limits.” Nicole put her nail file away. “She has the time of her life at these things, because it is her getting all the attention.”

“So, if I go?” Howard started.

“You get to steal her thunder.” Nicole finished.

Howard stared at Nicole for a moment, then burst out laughing. “Ok, young lady, you win. Now get out of my office so I can get dressed. And tell my wife I”ll be down in five minutes.”

“Yes sir.” Said Nicole, as she walked to the door. “And Howard,” She added with a wink. “If you got any, wear the loudest color socks you can find. Your wife will love them.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Christianity and Bigotry

This article originally appeared at She Thought, a website that features articles on criticial thinking. I am fortunate to count myself amongst the site’s contributors.It also appears over at FlyingOskar where my weekly column is housed.

Lately there has been a lot of discussion, especially in some Christian circles, about bigotry, especially against gays. This particular discussion is very positive in theme and has been challenging the negative status mindsets that have become so prevalent in the church, especially amongst conservative evangelicals. Hard questions are being asked, and solutions are being offered using the tools of scripture, civil discourse and science to back up the better positive mindsets about our interaction with the gay community. Personally I find it most heartening.

I couple of months ago, I stumbled across a blogger named John Shore. Mr. Shore has managed to get himself a place at The Huffington Post’s religion segment. I happen to use the Huffington Post as one of my sources to see what may be considered news this week. His personal blog, quickly became one of those I read regularly as his topics touch on many things not often discussed openly and honestly, especially in Christian circles. In Shore’s writings, I have discovered a man whose views on Christianity and interaction within others in our communities that was refreshingly different and inclusive. Others obviously have noticed it because he often gets hundreds of responses to his blog entries, especially when he discusses Christianity and our LGBT neighbors, and why the church needs to change their tune.

Reading his work, and that of a few others, my beliefs have been strengthened in knowing that bigotry has no business having a place in my faith. Sadly it isn’t just the LGBT community that is facing bigotry within the church, they are just the ones getting a lot of attention. Hispanics (they will steal our jobs, and steal from us) liberals (they are going to turn the nation into a socialist form of marxism) Muslims (they are going to force conversions on us and bomb us to smithereens) are some of the others that some Christians seem to hate and fear. They are being fed this mindset repeatedly by a variety of means and to stand up and say “NO” is often to risk being cast into the mix of people to hate because doing so means that you stand for sin and depravity and against God’s word and his purpose for man.

I assure you that, like you, I find the line of thinking in that last sentence to be a load of crap.
I then read a manifesto by a pastor named John Shelby Spong. Pastor Spong is an Episcopalian pastor who has long been doing work to bring inclusiveness to his denomination. He believes in the beauty of diversity and that separating some because they are different or don’t fit into some preconceived mold is wrong and differs from the teachings of the Christian faith. His statement was quite startling. In it he declares:
I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate “reparative therapy,” as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired.
The rest of the article explains why he is taking that stand. While I utterly agree with his views on how the Church is wrong in condemning homosexuality I disagree with his decision to opt to no longer engage in dialogue about this matter. This is why. Those of us in Christianity who feel that the movement to forever keep gays on the outside of the church is completely and utterly wrong are a minority. Many disagree with us and just can’t understand why we can calmly state that we believe what they say and encourage others to believe is wrong. They also don’t know how to counter thoughtful, factual evidence that supports our views, and instead opt to attempt to lump us in with “those sinful reprobates”. Spong’s views that “we’ve already won this battle, all that is left are skirmishes” is to me, short-sighted. The attack against the LGBT community is just one in a long line of ethnic or cultural communities that some in the Christian faith have decided to treat in ways that starkly counter those of the one they profess to emulate.

We need to continue to stand against bigotry of all kinds and to do it reasonably, yet passionately. We need to demonstrate that the Christian form of love encompasses all human beings, not just those that fit into our little cubbyholes of acceptance. We need to demonstrate that we welcome people into our little circle and who they are, with ethnic, cultural, religious, political differences being assets rather than liabilities. We need to find delight in the diversity of humanity and see the value that can be brought to the collective table. We need to, and must continue to work towards that goal, even if it seems impossible. Jesus said “blessed are the peace makers.” What a better way to bring that about, than by breaking down cultural barriers so that we can see how alike we really are?

Mr. Spong has been fighting this fight much longer than I have. I can respect his decision to step away to most likely focus elsewhere also needed. I do wish he would stay, and that there were many more like him. My war against inequality and bigotry is just beginning. Maybe he is stepping aside to let new voices step in and carry on the fight. If so, I can thank him for his example and dedication, as well as people like John Shore and gladly add my voice along with them so that one day we can see these horrendous actions come to an end.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hello Hellcat


Rajah, aka Hellcat
I sometimes wonder if I have the word “Sucker” written in indelible ink, across my forehead. I wonder that because I am an easy sell when the merchandise is cute, and helpless. It’s a sure bet when it involves my children and cats.


I mentioned a couple of months ago that my daughter Ashley had been talked into adopting two kittens. She really had only wanted one, but was given two anyway. They were a pair of little gray tabbies, one boy one girl, who promptly were named by my granddaughter Helene. Rajah, the boy kitten, and Miko, the girl were terrified of us, and hid behind the water heater when ever one of us approached. I managed to catch Rajah once, needing a band-aid promptly after-wards. It is amazing what a combination of claws and tiny pissed off kitten can wreak when your hand is involved.

After a couple of weeks they calmed down, got used to the place and the humans in residence. They then proceeded to take over control of Ashley’s house. Before long things went missing, mostly socks, as well as Helene’s hairbows, and magnets, which kept disappearing from the fridge. Evidence of late night snack forays were also becoming apparent, Apparently that was training for the “big score”. The big score was a $50 cellular shade that Ashley had installed just two weeks prior. She suspect the main culprit as Rajah, the initially more shy of the two, but there was no actual proof as to the actual culprit, just a sad broken shade. She was at her wits end. Considering she has two very small children, two highly active kittens and a husband who is deployed, her patience was not geared to kittens who liked to destroy things.

Feeling bad for Ashley, I immediately caved and said, I’d take one, it didn’t matter which. I sorta missed having a cute cuddly kitten around. Within the hour, Rajah was delivered. The word “sucker” must have been extra prominent that day.

Normally, when a cat enters a new domain, they react by hiding under the nearest bed for a good 24 hours. They tend to be a bit skittish about new surroundings and and only venture out for food and bathroom breaks. If there is another cat in residence, there will be a lot of posturing and hissing, and retreating to neutral corners, until the chain of dominance is established, then everything calms down. That is under normal circumstances. Apparently I always get the abnormal cats.

Rajah was skittish about the new house for…well not at all. He walked in like he owned the place, quickly discovered where the food was, had the kitty toilet pointed out to him, before he decided to check out the joint. You could almost see the “Oh shit! Who is THAT??” looks on Luna-tic’s and Chernobyll’s faces when they saw Rajah.
Rajah’s response was “COOL! PLAYMATES! LET’S PLAY TAG ! YOU’RE IT!” Luna made a beeline for the backdoor so she could go outside to escape. Nobyll who stays indoors hissed, looked at me with like I had betrayed her and promptly hid. And yes, Rajah is that enthusiastic about everything.

In the couple weeks that he’s lived with me,Rajah has earned the nickname Hellcat. He has knocked most of the contents off my several surfaces, spilled my milk, reconstituted breakfast while standing on my desk, missing my keyboard by millimeters. He’s shredded innumerable amounts of paper that he has pulled out of my trashcan, been scolded for being on the kitchen counter at least five times a day. To keep in the mode of, “I am a hellcat, hear me meow”, Rajah has decided to display some odd little quirks. He takes items that he carries around, like his toy balls, or a refrigerator magnet, and throws them in the toilet. Why does he throw them in the toilet? Because he can.

We have to check now before using our toilets to make sure nothing has to be fished out first. For a cat that was so extremely anti-social at first, he is constantly underfoot. Megan and I have to close the bathroom door when we shower, or else we will have an audience. I have photo evidence of him peeking at me when I was taking a bath. The photo is of Rajah, not me!

He still chases the other two, and they still are not at all happy about how easily he established his own version of the pecking order, but they are starting to wear down a bit. Chernobyll is having the hardest time, as she doesn’t adapt to changes like that very well, however she’ll come around. The other night, three out of four corners of my bed were occupied by cat.

Next week Rajah will be undergoing a little operation to help ensure that, if he does get outside the cat population will not increase. Will that calm him down any? Only as long as it takes for him to heal from getting a few parts removed, then it will be back to full-body mayhem. The other cats will soon be recruiting him to join their own quests to completely rob me of my sanity while they cover me in cat hair. And all the while that “sucker” etched on my face will continue to glow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Election Project: the second half

As promised, I am giving the links to the responses given by two US Congressional candidates. One for the US house and one for the US Senate. I would have really liked to have more responses, but as I've been told repeatedly,  the fact that there was any responses at all, is probably more then I should have expected. Why? Because I don't represent a larger news agency, just a small community website with some idealistic dreams. Still I think this project was well worth it, on several levels, and to the candidates who did respond, I thank you.

So without further ado, I now bring you the last two candidates and their responses to our questions.

Faye Walters, Candidate for US House, district 4

Tom Clements, Candidate for US Senate

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Election Project: the first half

Yes, as I wrote earlier, my project to give voters better insight into how candidates stood on several issues, met with only marginal success. However I did get a few responses. I still feel it is important to allow people to make informed choices. I was just hoping for better side by side analysis for each of the races. But I'll take what I can get.

Over at Flying Oskar, I have begun posting the responses I have received, giving each of the candidates their own responses and am going to link them on this blog, but in two segments. The first two which are state house candidates will have their links to what I have posted at Flying Oskar today, and the last two which are US Congressional candidates, will go up on Monday. Of course you can just follow the progression at the originating site. I just wanted to try to offer each candidate a bit more coverage.

I am not endorsing or promoting any candidate, as I would have done the same for anyone who responded, regardless of party affiliation, views on issues, etc. I was just trying to provide information, to allow voters make choices. It has been a learning experience, and I will likely try something similar next time around, with some changes. Maybe.

Now on to the responses.

Jerry Blanton, SC house candidate for district 38

Tom Davies, SC house candidate for district 35

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Election Project: An Introduction

A couple of months ago I, with the help of Chris George started a project. The project was intended to give Spartanburg county residents better information about the candidates that would be appearing on the November ballots. A secondary purpose was to give candidates, especially those in smaller less publicized races and third party candidates with miniscule budgets, a chance for voters to hear what they had to say on a few topical issues. Yes, I am an idealistic, wishful-thinking kind of girl.

A list of questions was compiled for each category of candidate based on the seat they hoped to obtain, and each candidate with the exception of those running in unopposed race was contacted. With some, getting the actual questions to the candidates proved impossible, as the campaign headquarters of these candidates did not deem my little list of questions worth bothering their candidate with. Two campaigns promptly put me on their mailing lists however. That was certainly not what I had asked for. As for the actual response from all the people that Chris and I contacted, there was very little.

Yes I am very disappointed, but as was explained to me, I shouldn’t be surprised. Transparency, although much-touted amongst candidates, especially those with ridiculous amounts of funding, is avoided when it comes to real issues like the proverbial plague. Why? Because taking a stand may mean that their opponent may use that as a weapon against them. Crazy, huh? Smaller races, of course have ridiculously low funding to run their campaigns so getting to the voters on issues can be quite the challenge. One would think that they’d fall all over some free publicity, yet, that wasn’t exactly the results I got.

The money that is thrown at the big races so that candidates can pretty much say the same thing over and over again while reminding voters what a horrible person the opponent is, is in my opinion shameful. Just imagine what could be done with the money that instead, ends up in the pockets of consultants, media outlets, speech writers, advertisers etc? One big U.S. Congressional Race could almost refit an Elementary School with state of the art technology, or pay all the teachers salaries of that school for a month. But that’s a rant for another day.
I did receive four response from my list of questions, two from U.S. Congressional candidates and two from SC Congressional candidates. Sadly, we got nothing from the few local County Council candidates races, or the governor’s race. I did not contact state officer candidates like state Secretary of Education, although I considered it. Three of the four were from third parties, one was from a Democrat who’s name appears on a second party in his district.

Now on to the responses.  The questions for state races were intended for both State House and the Governor’s position. The ones for US Congress covered both houses. I am going post one set of responses per day, beginning tomorrow. I am thankful to Jerry Blanton, Tom Davies, Faye Walters and Tom Clements who took the time to respond. I will give a brief introduction to each candidate then let their responses do the rest of the talking.
Stay tuned. In the meantime, I urge you to discover information about the candidates in your district yourself. For a list of the candidates visit scvotes.org

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taking a Nap

Miss Mom: Taking a nap

October 19, 2010
By Sylvie Galloway

Isaiah Napping
There is a activity common among the very old and the very young that those of us in the middle partake in all that often, even though it would benefit us greatly. I took the rare opportunity to enjoy this little activity and I had a really good reason to do so.


I took a nap.

There is little doubt that lives like mine are fairly typical of most of us in modern Western societies. We are busy, and counter our business with more activities. Then we add stresses, worries and not enough sleep to the mix, along with just not quite enough exercise and too many french fries and then are surprised that our bodies feel so damned tired all the time.

I am no exception.

I’ve been once again burning through my energy candle at a rapid rate. My blow torch keeps running out of propane as I have tried to get to everything that I’ve needed to get done. Today I hit a wall. I got up tired, tossed in some laundry and stumbled through breakfast. After running a few errands, I came home and face planted right into my bed where I stayed for over an hour.

It was glorious.

I didn’t sleep the entire hour, but instead simply dozed off and on, with at least one cat snoozing alongside me. I decided right then and there, that there is plenty that can wait a day or two and I’ll get to it all eventually. Making time for physical rest from my labors was a priority today and I was bound and determined to check that off my list.

I need to keep adding that simple task called “nap” to my constantly evolving to do list.

I just love when my grandson Isaiah gets sleepy. At first he is a little cranky, then he just sticks a thumb into his mouth and cuddles up to sleep. He is a champion cat napper, and has no problems what so ever with catching ten minutes of sleep when he needs it. Yesterday we were visiting with my sister and her family and my nephews were playing guitar and drums, loudly in another room. Isaiah fell asleep through all the noise.

I need a dark room, a fan running, and complete quiet.

Maybe I’ll start adding naps to my life more often, Lord knows that I can sure use them. But I first need to reteach myself that, taking time to rest is not being wasteful or lazy. That is difficult mindset to break, and its one I’ve maintained most of my adult life. Still, breaking that mindset is likely quite healthy. Then maybe I won’t feel like an extra in a zombie movie all the time. Maybe I should work at trying, more often, to lie down on a soft surface in a quiet room while closing my eyes. The last time I was able to enjoy a daily nap was when I was recovering from surgery. That was two years ago. I sometimes still miss that 2 o’clock siesta.

I doubt I am alone there.

Maybe slowing down just a tad is something we can all do. It must be, because I do return to this very topic every now and then. It is partially a reminder to myself that I need to stop trying so hard to stay busy, feeling like I’m not productive if I am idle. But I think also we all could use a collective nap, just taking some short periods of time in the day to sit back, turn off all the things that would keep us busy for just 30 minutes. We could use that time, not to catch our breaths before jumping back into the fray, but instead purposely deciding that, for now, the fray can wait. For now we are tuning out, and turning off. Things can wait just a bit, as we do a physical and often mental recharge. We can decide not to worry about the bills, the kid’s dentist appointments, how the boss feels about an upcoming project, how the country is “going to hell in a handbasket, and that damned handbasket’s weave is coming undone”, whether we can lose those ten pounds, drop that cholesterol level, or why an extended family member insists on ruining Thanksgiving every single year. We can instead, say no, all that is totally off limits for the next half hour.

Sounds rather nice, doesn’t it?

One of these days, a few decades from now I will be retired and have the capability that I once enjoyed when I was very young, the ability to take a nap whenever I felt like it. Until then I keep trying to balance out my life while I rush headlong into the things I feel I must accomplish. When I do reach that stage in my life, and you catch me napping, please just cover me up and let me be. I do need my rest. you know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

playing with widgets.

I frequent another blog, http://johnshore.com/ and he recently installed a new widget that I really like, so I installed it here. It is a comment tool, that gives a commenter a few more options, like the ability to edit a comment and to rate another's comments. It also has a couple of other things like commenter rankings.

I do realize that my blog is not nearly as popular as John's...yet, but I like the tool and so am testing it here. Give it a try,why don't you?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love and Hate

I found myself in a sort of reflective mood. Maybe it is because I am very tired, having spent a lot of time and energy, on work, college and how exactly am I going to solve a transportation issue on my tiny budget. Add what I think an asthma related flareup which has left me feeling rather less than perky, and I discover myself still in my jammies, with socks because I’m cold, and dreading having to work on a Sunday. Oh yeah attending church was so not happening  as well.

So in this somewhat negative, yet reflective setting I find myself in, I thought I would engage in a little self therapy. I am going to play the hate/love game. I invite you to play along.

hate having health issues like asthma. It often shows up without warning, is starting to worsen, and combined with other issues like allergies, and no sense of smell, so I can avoid some possible attack triggers, asthma can take the fun right out of my day.

love however that I have medical professionals who are helping me manage my asthma. I have medications that I take either daily or as needed to keep things under control. Plus I have friends who are understanding of my situation and will get me coffee or my inhaler in case I get a sudden flare-up. I am also very thankful that being aggressive about treatment is allowing me to live this crazy whirlwind of a life with only occasional needs to stop and spend a day in bed.

hate having just enough bills to use up all my paycheck. Luxuries for me these days is take out from one of my favorite restaurants like Monsoon Noodle house, and those luxuries I try to space out. The life changes I made this past year have made my financial situation somewhat worrisome, and I tend to fret that a surprise expense is going to show up to toss me over the proverbial edge.

love however, that I also tend to be frugal. Every month all the bills get paid, every last one. Yeah I am making only partial payments on some of the medical ones, but I get them something every month. I am thankful that I have a job, and it is one I enjoy. And I am also knowing that I am taking a major step, because of the mentioned major life change to work towards a brighter financial future.

hate knowing that there are children in my community, my state, my nation, my planet who don’t have enough to eat, or have a safe place to play, or sleep, or who live in fear of someone they know, or of strangers who’s intention is only to harm. To hear or read about yet another person who has been arrested for treating a child in any way other than they should be treated deeply saddens and angers me. To see photos of children in crises often brings me to tears and I wish I had the room and the money to bring every last one home with me. To know that statistics say that this is more common than we’d like to realize just saddens and angers me more. To know that so many simply don’t care and that I am so incapable of doing much more than pointing out that we need to help these little ones is very disheartening.

I love children. My own three make me extraordinarily proud, and my two grandbabies make my heart melt every time I see them. I love that there are other parents who feel as I do about their own kids who sacrifice and work hard to try to give their kids a bright future. I love that many parents also extend the love for their own kids to other kids they come into contact with. Those kids remember years later how a friend’s Mom always made them feel special and loved, even when things were tough at their own homes. I love that there are people who willingly go out of their way to open their hearts to reach out and help kids in need. People like social workers, guardian ad lid ems, people who foster children, teachers, child care workers, nurses, doctors, and a host of other people many who are parents or grandparents, aunts or uncles, sisters, brothers or cousins, who themselves work quietly and diligently to nurture give assistant to children and their care-givers.

hate bigotry. I hate it even more that it is becoming more common, not less, all it seems to have done is shifted focus to some new groups I hate that I find bigotry is even quite common amongst my faith and feel strongly that it should never have been allowed to take hold within Christianity. I hate that bigotry keeps people apart, preventing them from actually getting to know each other’s values and worth. I hate that it instead separates; the anglo and the hispanic, the liberal and the conservative, the gay and the straight, the people of any other faith and your own, the pro life and the pro choice, the poor and the wealthy. I hate that bigotry is often fed from fear and ignorance and mindset that the other person or people group is inferior or a threat to livelihood, social status, economic stability or cultural acceptance of another. I wish I could eradicate bigotry forever from the human psyche.

love however, the fact that there are people who are willing to challenge bigotry and harmful prejudices. They are willing to ask tough questions and to take the heat for asking them. They invite discourse, challenge the reasons for certain beliefs when it comes to the discrimination of others and welcome willingly the opportunity for people of varied views and backgrounds to come together to see how alike we really are. They are willing to accept and respect the differences that shape us, deciding its ok to disagree on a principle, but still value and willingly interact with the person they differ with. I love the journey of perception that challenging bigotry has set me on, and the people I have been fortunate to encounter along the way. I also love the fact that I can choose not to go the way of divvying up people into supposedly little neat and totally separate categories. I believe in the beauty of diversity, that diversity is intentional, having been made that way by the God I worship.

Putting things into the “yucks and the yays” can help us get a better perspective on how we feel. Life isn’t all bad, and it isn’t all good. Some things we can change, others we cannot. My list is of course the greatly condensed version of my hate vs. love things in life.

So what about you? What is it that you hate that you can counter with the concept of love? Do you hate American politics but love your community enough to get involved? Do you hate that people don’t really care that we still keep polluting our planet and ourselves, but love finding new ways to live greener? Do you hate the choices that are on television but you love the fact that turning the TV off has given your family opportunities to interact that you hadn’t thought of? Sharing those things can actually help us to check our own perspectives and maybe work together to get rid of some of those hateful things.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lets review a couple of things

I have had a whole heap of stuff on my plate lately so I haven't had time to do any product reviews. Therefore I am going to do three in one blog. Two have been sent to me, one is something I decided to try on m own to see how it worked.

The first is from the Febreeze company. They have a new product called Set and Refresh.
The first nice thing about this is that there is no need to plug it in anywhere. It is also pretty small and you can place it about anywhere you choose that has a flat surface. Because of its small compact size it can easily hide behind another object but the simple shape of the refreshener holder makes it not stand out like some other products.

I of course can't notice the smell, but one thing I do like about Febreeze products is that they do not trigger allergy or asthma symptoms. My tester, or youngest daughter who still lives with me, likes the smell. I have had it sitting on my entertainment center for well over a month. There is still a little bit of the liquid yet to evaporate which is how these products work. In my opinion they last longer then the plug in type room refresheners as heat tends to make liquids evaporate more quickly. This one is a keeper.

The second products is one I decided to buy and try. It is a stick and leave fabric softener for my dryer. I



I needed fabric softener one day and I saw these sitting on the shelf. As I am one to always forget fabric softener sheets, and feel that I go through the liquid kind too quickly, I thought I'd give these a try. 

I don't know yet how long the dryer bar will last as I am only approaching about 6 weeks since I bought the thing. But I suspect that for me I won't use up all the product in two months. I don't do that much laundry anymore. However it does work very nicely. I have no static cling, my laundry is nice and soft, but not overly so. Plus this appeals to my little "save the planet" side. The packaging was small and recyclable and the product itself doesn't have to be thrown away or added to the water system after each use. Time will tell, when I need to replace, how hard the sticked on holder will be to remove from my dryer. Hopefully that is not a big issue.

The last product is something a bit different. I was sent these little timers. http://www.timesince.biz/Welcome.html They are small and compact and can easily be set on top of a prescription bottle. The concept is that one sets the timer so that you get a reminder when it is time again to take that medicine. This would work best for those types of medicine that you need to take every few hours, like cough medicines for that sick child, or a pain medication that you don't want to take too early. There are other applications that could apply where one would need a reminder to do something in, say four hours. 

The downside to this timer, is that it isn't very useful to a someone who takes medication at set times of day, like I do, every morning, when I get up and  right before bed, and is used to that routine, but there are certainly situations where these little timers could come in very handy. For example, if you are one of those that is prone to forget to take that medicine when you are supposed to.

That's all my reviews for now. If you try any of these products yourself, send me feedback.  On the items with aromas, I always need help. My sense of smell, being non-existent, does handicap me a bit and forces me to rely on people with working olfactory senses. If you have something you want me to test and review, send me an email and I will add that to my list of things to test and try.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kitty Time

Copied from my column at FlyingOskar.com


Miss Mom: Kitty Time

September 28, 2010
By Sylvie Galloway
I tooks this myself
What do you do when it is 8:30 on a Monday evening and you have a column due in the morning? That is my dilemma right now. I had every intention on writing about something serious and important. Ideas would spark into my brain only to spark right back out like a cheap light bulb. I did a homework marathon this weekend that involved a whole lot of writing with more pending. (Yay college!) I had thought about writing about some of the other websites I frequent, or about grand parenting, or why I could care less what hot new shows were on TV this season. But Ideas were not forthcoming. So, I wrote what was right in front of me…or right by my right hand. Yeah I know, take the easy route out Sylvie.

Chernobyll, whom I have written about before, is sitting waiting for me to reach for my mouse. That is if I could get to it. Her butt has nearly completely covered the thing. When I reach for the mouse, she will position her head so that it pushes against my hand. While her head is pushing against my mouse wielding hand, her butt is effectively blocking any clear view of my monitor. Often at least one paw is planted firmly on a key of my keyboard. This is her “pet me dammit!” position.

This is completely normal for her and a constant source of aggravation for me. Especially when I am trying to do something important, like work on a homework project, read my email or, just finish a quest in WOW before bed. Before she settles down to ensure she gets a pet, or for me to yell at her, she must, and I mean MUST make a complete round of my desk rubbing against every single object sitting on my desk, paying attention to the front side of my monitor.

Lunatic has completely different ways to annoy the crap out of me. Her getting my attention to come inside is to scratch at my kitchen window, or my dining room window, or my living room window. They all used to have complete screens. I have tried keeping her indoors, but she is too quick to scoot outside, usually causing a tripping hazard. She has claimed my yard as her personal domain. Well that and any cars in the driveway. She loves tire wells, which is why she isn’t always a pure white.
"ringing the doorbell

Then it comes to her night moves. Yeah she’s got ‘em. They involve forced petting, while she tries to knead through soft tissue, then stealing a good portion of the bed, where she’ll stay until I am supposed to wake up, according to cat time. Chernobyll makes sure of that.

So why do I put up with these two litter box filling, food bowl emptying, shedaholics? Because of when one of us is sick or sad, they are right there to offer comfort. They just seem to know that a little kitty lovin’ is just what the cat-doc ordered.

A few months ago I caught a nasty bug that gave me a high temperature and forced me to bed. I couldn’t get warm, and even with my heaviest jammies and three blankets, I was still freezing. If I got out of bed I shivered so hard I could barely walk. Luna and Nobyll kept a vigil with me. When I got under the covers, they got on either side of me and essentially pinned me down adding their body heat to mine. Neither of them moved until I needed to get up, then right back to their warmth inducing vigil they went. Only when they were right with me was I warm enough to get comfortable enough to sleep. They stayed with me till my fever broke and they determined I was healthy enough to check their food status.

For times like that, I’ll gladly put up with their more annoying qualities. Now if only Chernobyll will move her butt over just a few inches, I can submit this thing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adventures in Commuting

This originally appeared at http://www.flyingoskar.com


Take two college students, attending two different colleges, of which, one student holds a full time job at a third location. All three locations are several miles from each other and also several miles from the college students’ place of residence. Of the all the  locations the students need to find themselves on a daily basis, there is a scheduling conflict as to who needs to be where at what time, at least twice a week. Add to the formula one car, and you have the perfect recipe for what can easily be dubbed Adventures in Commuting.

That is the state of transportation bliss that Megan and I find ourselves in these days. My daughter used to have a car of her own. It was a 12 year old purple Neon that had been given the nickname “The Hotrod”. The Hotrod was one of those cars that usually had something really aggravating wrong with it, like a corroded battery wire, other wires deciding to quit working,  shocks and struts not performing, leaking fluids, brake issues, stuff getting stuck in tires and other issues ranging from the normal to the utterly aggravating.  ”The Hotrod “required itself to be in the shop for its annual $200 to $400 dollar checkup. It acted like it was going to shake itself apart if you took the speed over 6o MPH on the highway, bringing to light the irony of it’s nickname. On the plus side, it had less than 100,000 miles on the odometer.

This last time, the “annual, what the heck is wrong with the car this time” trip was sure to blow my miniscule budget, and would have utterly destroyed my daughters. The repair estimate reached close to the estimated worth of the car.  So we sold it so she could start saving for another car to get her through her last two semesters of college.
In the meantime we plan out our week around my work schedule, both our class schedules and any extra errands needing to be taken care of like doctor visits, and trips to the bank. As both of us are used to having complete access to a car whenever we wanted, it has been a bit of an adjustment having to share. Thankfully so far we’ve managed, asking my other daughter, Ashley to help, or in my case asking a co-worker on occasion to give me a lift to work. I have considered trying to use the bus on Fridays, but I just have yet to find myself in a situation where that is the only option. I suspect that a trip across town would take about 45 minutes on the bus, where in a car it takes about 15. So far a better way has always presented itself. If we end up replacing Megan’s car later instead of sooner, then I stand a fairly good chance of finally trying out Spartanburg’s Mass Transit system.

I thought back the other day about my parents and how they managed to transport six children around to all our various activities using only two cars. My dad always had one car at work, and so my mom was the chief transportation officer at our house. I know we all rode the bus to and from school, from first through 12th grades. I am fairly sure that carpooling with other students was a common occurrence as well. I do remember my first car, an oil leaking, mechanic’s dream come true in the form of a little Honda Civic. That car stayed in the shop more than out. When it was in working condition, my brothers often borrowed it for dates then returned it home with the gas gauge pointing to “fumes”. It finally blew out a head gasket and headed of too the junk heap. By then our family had acquired a couple of other cars, given to us by grandparents. They were ancient, but ran until something better could be afforded.

Somehow all of us managed to get where we needed to go and back home again often in time for supper. I don’t doubt that our mom was relieved when we started driving and she didn’t have to make the rounds to pick up kids (her own and often one or two extra), dry cleaning, whatever else needed to be taken care of while she was out running her own one woman mass transit system. She certainly appreciated having one of us go get some milk or a sibling when we were able.

Megan will find another little car soon, and we will return to more freedom when it comes to transportation. Our situation is hardly as crazy as it was for my parents when I was growing up, but I better appreciate the time and planning that it took to get us all to our varied destinations. I am enjoying mine and Megan’s commutes together. We get to spend time together that we otherwise wouldn’t, especially as both our schedules are rather full these days. As Megan is the last still at home, I am looking at this adventure in transportation as something to enjoy, even if it has some big inconveniences. We’ve even agreed on a commuting rule, whoever drives gets to pick the radio station.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Did You Hear?

Here is the scenario.

Jane and John who have been dating awhile, decide to break up, or at least give their relationship a break. Being the modern tech savvy people that they are, they change their relationship status on the social media site Faceplant, from “in a relationship” to “single”. Friends of both offer condolences and support on Jane and John’s comments following the status update. A couple of friends and relatives of John, who didn’t like Jane offered congratulations and offers of helping to find “the perfect girl” on John’s page.

Then a cousin of John decides to jump in to offer support and defense of John’s honor. She mentions a supposed second love interest that had taken an interest in John and he her, that he should man up about it and isn’t it a shame that Jane never knew, especially as Jane is friends with “second love interest”.

The sister of Jane wonders the reason why now is the time for this news to be revealed now, after the break-up and in such a public way. The cousin tells the sister to butt out using language best suited for a PG 13 movie. The sister again wonders why Jane was never told by the cousin about this liaison with “second love interest” and John when it was occurring and is now only letting everyone know.

The “second love interest” who in reality never was a love interest at all, just a mutual friend of both Jane and John, seconds the question. The cousin replies that “the whole family knows what you did” and then calls “supposed second love interest” a hypocrite.

Then the boyfriend of the cousin jumps in. He pretty much insults everyone and their mothers, tosses in another wild accusation or two for good measure while cousin backs him up.

For those of you who think that I just revealed the plot for the next season of Jersey Shore, I didn’t. This is a variation of an actual conversation on a social media site. The facts are simple. Jane and John broke up and there is a mutual friend that has been accused of being involved with John by some people in John’s circle. The cousin never bothered to ask John if it was ok to discuss this matter, or to check the facts with him to see if it was true. She obviously didn’t do so to Jane, as has been already pointed out. This particular exchange certainly didn’t paint John in a positive light. It made him look like a cheater, Jane look like a victim, and the friend like a player. Naturally not a word of what the cousin was saying was true, or the boyfriend of the cousin. Jane and John wisely stayed out of the whole Jerry Springeresque mess.

What is sad about that little story is that kind of scenario happens all the time. That story is a very good example of what happens when people choose to gossip and do so maliciously. I find it maddening and extremely sad that people, especially grown ups who should no better would behave in such a way. There are no winners in that type of situation. The people who have been painted poorly are hurt that someone would say such lies about them, the people who are the ones who are supposed to be helped are embarrassed by the drama, and the people doing the gossip and getting ugly when being questioned about the matter are getting angry and are not coming across as kind, caring people. Everyone is upset, hurt or angry. All of it could have been avoided.

The old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Is a simple rule that we all could do well to follow more diligently. Talking bad about someone else, gossiping or outright lying only causes hurt and often does a pretty good job of displaying the person saying such things as someone who is hateful and mean. None of us want to be looked at in that light.

Now that we have things like Twitter, Facebook and other outlets to share information, we should remember to make sure we have switched on our integrity when we log on. Gossip is much easier to share, but should we be partakers of the feast that is gossip? Are those things that are being said true? Are we sure? Really sure? Is it something we would want said about us? Especially if we would know that the people saying these things only have a small portion of the information they are so sure they have all the facts about? See that is often what gossip is. Someone has only a small part of the story and they decide to fill in the rest themselves. 99% of the time the filler is wrong, and most of the time that filler is consisted of stuff to make someone look bad.

Sadly people do it, and likely always will, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they think we want to hear about it, maybe they think they are trying to help, maybe they want to make themselves feel superior in some way, maybe they are just plain mean. Whatever reason it is, I wish that gossip, especially the demeaning hurtful type would vanish from the planet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sleeping with the Toddler

Every so often Helene’ the rapidly growing toy strewing toddler, gets to spend the night with me, her Nana. I enjoy very much spending one and one time with my granddaughter. She’s funny, way too smart for her age, and full of adorable little surprises.When she sleeps, as the nap time photo demonstrates, she’s still utterly adorable, and us grownups get to catch our breaths, while we clean up after her. I love having her visit me as she is such a delight.   It is at bedtime  I know, that one of us is not going to have a whole lot of fun. Well at least not much sleep.
One would think that a little person a fraction of my size and weight (details of which will remain confidential) wouldn’t be that much of an issue when one is sharing mattress space with. Especially when that mattress is of the Queen size variety. Oh Contraire! What really happens is as follows.

Going to bed.

There is much procrastination involved. Helene’ will ask to have her teeth brushed, and then wants to know where all her animals are. She prefers a large retinue of stuffed critters. Then it’s time for prayers. Whatever grown-ups are in residence at the time must have their turn. She also has a session of “Let’s talk about it.” That is actually you singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to her. I have no idea why she calls it “Lets talk about it.” Then hopefully she’s ready to go to sleep.

Going to sleep.

Here lately that has been a problem. She is going through a phase where she doesn’t want to be alone in a darkened room to sleep. She’ll cry and sounds actually somewhat frightened. It usually takes a couple of visits to get her calmed down and into sleep zone.
This last visit, she went to bed a bit later than her usual routine. Since I was also tired, and was not exactly in the mood to hear her crying for an extended period of time. I decided just to go to bed early. I figured she’d calm right down and go to sleep, knowing a grown-up was right there.

Going to sleep, one hour later.

Yep, she’s still awake, wriggling around, kicking her feet every so often, and poking me to see if I respond. Every so often I mutter “Go to sleep.” Finally she goes to sleep as close to me as she can get having claimed her spot on the bed. Right smack in the middle.

Right smack in the middle.

A toddler usually can pick a spot in the bed, like right smack in the middle and pretty much stay there. The only downside is that they will pivot while in that spot, periodically altering which direction their feet are pointing. In my experience, a small child can do all the points of a compass in a single night while remaining essentially at the same point in the bed.  Head and feet are pointed at first vertically and can move suddenly to horizontally. Of course that changes drastically what unclaimed space remain for you. If you are like me, you may try to move the sleeping child back into a more sharing friendly setting, only to discover that sleeping children are surprisingly heavy.  Most of the time, I try to find a spot free of flailing elbows and feet and try to go back to sleep.

4:16 AM

I get a pat on the face. “I gotta go potty Nana.” Ok, a very important statement coming from a child who is still trying to master the whole going to the bathroom thing. So into the bathroom we go. She does her business and is done. While we are there, I might as well go to.  The child is now wide awake and playing with the rubber ducks left over from last night’s bath. Within seconds she is asking for breakfast. I quickly shoot down that idea as I turn off the lights and put her back into bed with me. Prolonged kicking and wriggling commences for a solid 20 minutes.

5:30 AM

“Nana, I gotta go potty, and I’m hungry.” We repeat in its entirety the sequence of events that had occurred 45 minutes previously.

6:30 AM

There is a toddler fast asleep on top of what covers she hasn’t already kicked off to the far side of the bed. I have to get up. I believe that I have gotten just enough sleep to keep me craving coffee all day long. She’ll wake up in a little while, totally refreshed and ready to face the day. I’m already wanting a nap, I know I won’t get.
I told my grandmother about my night time experience with my granddaughter. She laughed offering absolutely no sympathy. Apparently I did pretty much the same thing to her when I was a little girl. It’s “nice” to know Helene’ and I are carrying on a family tradition.