Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So Far, So Good

One week into The Big Commute, I'm pleased to report that Small Child is thriving and I'm not suffering, either!

While I'd hoped to fill the days with writing - and I know that will come soon - I'm still working out routine details: gym choice (YMCA {cheap} vs. Cooper Aerobics Center {pool}), favored free WiFi hangout, and preferred good grocery (jury's still out), to name a few.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Seeing Clearly

Click on the images below to enlarge.

I first heard about
wordle from RedMolly, but today I found wonderful wordles at Cheerio Road and Jen Lemen, two of my favored blogs these days.

The site offers a wonderful way to see your words take shape, right before your very eyes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This Will Not Turn Into A Mommyblog

I promise.

As some of you know, Small Child will be leaving the public school system this fall. As someone who was well served by public schools, and who is committed to public schools, I agonized over this decision.  But that's another post.

We will be joining a true Montessori elementary-middle school community, organic garden and all, about 30 miles away.

Small Child and I just returned from buying school supplies, and our experience reinforced the wisdom -for our family at this point in time - of our choice.

No digging through shelf after shelf of manila paper to find exactly the right size, only to find it not in stock...leading to trips to five other stores until it's found only at Office Depot.

Here is the list:

  • small to medium plant, for which the child will be responsible
  • machine washable place mat and napkin
  • solid color insulated lunch box (I called to ask if last year's, with muted circles, would pass muster and was told yes...they just want to avoid any licensed characters)
  • an old, over sized button-up shirt for art
  • rubber rain boots for the garden

That's it.  

I love these people.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Election Gag Order

I'm issuing an election-related gag order for Blue Like the Sky.  

Feelings are running too deep. Emotions too close to the surface.

And I need to find focus, focus, focus for writing.

Last night, during what should have been a funky, relaxed, impromptu evening around the dining room table, things got out of hand.

The Man, for reasons related to the family business' bottom line, tends to vote - in national races  - red. I, for reasons related to Supreme Court composition and our daughter's future freedom (not to mention social justice issues like our health care crisis) vote straight blue.  

Small child was painting. Lori from Do You Realize? had dropped by to help me finish the margaritas from last Friday's cookout.  Her eldest, off to college on Friday, wandered in. The Man entered the room, picked up some paint brushes, and started his own masterpiece. Conversation wandered to Sunday night's candidate interviews with Rick Warren.

I've been trying so hard these last few months to stay centered, to just listen, to refrain from making my views known among those who already know them. But The Man, alone in a nest of estrogen-pumped, tequila-lubed liberals, became a bit more provocative and a little less respectful of my opinions than - in my tender state - was appropriate. This resulted in tears.

I recovered quickly - in mid sentence, actually - but after a good night's sleep I've decided to back off from the political in this space. 

In my first entry, I referred to the "cerulean blue of peace."  We all need that peace in our lives, now more than ever. 

So be patient with me, please, as I stumble back to introspective substance.

Thank you,
Blue in heart, action, voting, living

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Otherwise Occupied

I'm watching Rick Warren interview Barack Obama. I have such mixed feelings about this forum.

Here's a video to watch while I process.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frivolous Friday

Turns out I do have a personality, despite reports to the contrary!

To waste time you should spend in productive pursuits,
click here. I like this site because you don't have to reveal an email address or other info beyond your zip code to play.

I may take this one again tomorrow and see if I'm different.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Counting Down the Days

 That buzzing you hear in the air around you is the collective tension of parents everywhere. Only eleven days left in Small Child's summer vacation, and I'm counting every one. It might not be so bad if we weren't in the August misery.

August misery, you ask?

Day after day of 100+ heat. Every afternoon the sky (east or west, depending on the whims of the universe) looms with the promise of relief, and every night I close my eyes to ominous silence instead of thunder and rain.

It makes me so crazy that, tomorrow, I'm going to "light the oven" (as my late Aunt Belle used to say) and bake a peach cobbler.

Even crazier? The Man will grill the seven pounds of carne asada I just put in to marinate. 

Yes, friends, it's a certifiable "These People Are Crazy Summer Cookout."

Small Child's best friend and her extended family are here to visit her grandparents. The moms have been trading children back and forth and it's my turn to feed the crew.  So, I thought, why not be as miserable as possible?  That's what the heat does to you.

But there's the requisite bucket of pre-made margaritas congealing in the freezer (high fructose corn syrup be damned just this once) and three bottles of sparkling wine chilling so the grownups shouldn't notice the heat or mosquitoes too much. The Gang of Five (as I refer to the children) will be in and out, inspiring the classic Southern anthem, "Close the Door! You're Letting the Air Conditioning Out!" 

And about 11:30, when the kids are collapsed on a big bed somewhere in the house and the adults are sitting out on the patio, having accustomed ourselves to the humidity after all, I'll look around at these faces I've known for so many years and think, "You know, it's not that bad around here in the summer after all."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Sobering Clip

Thanks to Molly for this one.

I respect that everyone will make an individual choice in November, one that will reflect his or her beliefs and personal situation, and none of us will be 100% happy with any candidate. It should be no secret to most of you which candidate I support. While I may not change your mind by sharing this video, I do ask that you consider the implications of the opinions it presents.

Furthermore, I am fully aware that sound bytes and statistics can be cobbled together to serve just about any purpose...I'm a writer, after all. I'm posting this clip, rather than any of the other zillion available, because the speakers cited are all Republican elected officials, weapons inspectors, high-ranking military personnel, or Republican-associated figures. Perhaps that will give it a bit of cred with my more moderate to conservative readers.

If you've been following the news, you know that some pretty nasty things are happening between Georgia and Russia. While our obligations in this conflict are unclear, some believe we have an implicit if not explicit commitment to Georgia's defense. The fighting in and threats from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran are nowhere near a resolution. Large portions of Africa are a living hell (even though in this country one has to search international news outlets to learn of much besides celebrities' outrage over Darfur).

But when I saw this clip, all I could think of was children. Many of you have them. All of you love them. And to think that we can wage war on multiple fronts on multiple continents with a volunteer army and high-tech gadgets is, at best, naive.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

OoooooWeeee! She's Politically Explicatin'...Watch Out.

Be forewarned.  It's 2:20 a.m. Later in this post you will read sentences that could be construed as racist. When you do, remember these italicized words: I am commenting on the possible thoughts of others, not describing my own.  And it's way too late for me to revise this.  So there.

I've blogged here and here about the serendipity of the iPod. But tonight I found that my adored white rectangle is also a ruthless political truth-teller.

Around 11 p.m. tonight, Large Dog and I set out for our walk. It's been a rough week, but I felt strong and peaceful despite a menu of disappointing news. My mother's white count is next to nothing, a nasty war is afoot between Georgia and Russia, and John Edwards - a politician who articulated so many of my dreams and concerns - admitted to a cliche' affair.  

But it was a bit cooler today, if still humid.  I'd just finished an audio book and thought, "Change of plans. Shuffle Songs." I won't bore you with the details, but off we went to a random playlist that started with "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House and ended with "Chelsea Hotel #2" by Leonard Cohen.

My epiphany hit right in the middle, courtesy of The Pretenders*:

No, my head wasn't split open with a divine solution to my broken washing machine crisis. And, like many metaphors in my unskilled hands, this one is far from perfect. But think on these lyrics:

There go the whites
Mmm, getting whiter
There go the colors
Getting brighter
There go the delicates
Through the final rinse
There goes my Saturday night
I go without a fight
In a nutshell, this is the Obama campaign's Southern White Problem. And Blue Collar White Problem. And Hillary Lovin' Steel Worker Problem. And Evangelical White Problem.

There.  I've said it. Don't hate me yet.

I will fight to the death anyone who says all southerners - particularly all Texans - are racists. We're not. Neither are all Northerners ready to join hands and sing "Kumbaya." But the rumblings are out there. If you lined up 100 "I think Obama might be a Muslim" spouters and scratched their surfaces, how many times do you think you would find honest theological worry? Come on. It's code. 

Those of you who actually talk with me know my belief that Edwards was essential to Obama's middle-South success with white male voters. But today the Delicate - the perfectly coiffed poor-boy-made-good many less fortunate or uneducated southerners hold up as proof it is possible to succeed without family contacts or inheritance - went through the Final (Blond) Rinse. 

Some who fit the Red State demographic profile see Obama and think, "There go the colors/Getting brighter," while others (Toby Keith, anyone?) have no trouble whatsoever articulating - however obliquely - the stereotype of the Uppity N*gger.

And it goes without saying that as the economy flounders, the election nears, and these rumblings come nearer the surface, "There go the whites/Mmm, getting whiter." I don't know about you, but I've not seen many faces of color on the campaign trail with Senator McCain. 

I worry that November's final demographic breakdowns may not make us particularly proud.

Here, in my little part of Texas, the Obama volunteers are of every color, shape, age, and background. This, to me, is what is truly revolutionary about his candidacy. This is what drove my choice. This is what will win the election - outreach to both new voters and stalwart believers in principles the Democrats hold dear. 

What will lose it - for either side - is for any portion of the constituency to think, "There goes my Saturday night/I go without a fight" and stay home, watching the clothes go round, on the second Tuesday in November.

*My apologies...I could not find a Pretenders performance clip of this tune.  I do hope you will click on the song links early in the post, particularly "Chelsea Hotel." Classic Leonard.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Do you remember, years ago, when Oprah wanted all of us to keep “Gratitude Journals”? I’m embarrassed, kind of in the same way I’m embarrassed to ‘fess that I dig an occasional Danielle Steele novel, to say that I kept one for a month or two way back when. And maybe more embarrassed to say that it did improve my day-to-day mood, if not all day every day then at least when I read over a couple of days’ worth of entries. I am constitutionally skeptical of this kind of thing, as I am of so much self-help "all you have to do is be positive to be happy" crap that's out there these days. And it's also extremely self-involved. At little too Joel Osteen, "What's in it for me?", if you know what I mean. 

But busy lives can tangle us in webs of self-involvement that block the ends of our noses, much less the beauty in the world.

It’s August 1. Every day is either hot as hell or almost as hot as hell and twice as humid. School for Small Child begins in 24 days and I’ve accomplished next to nothing on my list of things-I’ll-be-able-to-do-during-summer-vacation list. Large Dog’s presence in the house is becoming a source of domestic discord. I still need to clean out my office at the college. My last two go-to babysitters are leaving their parental nests for the joys of higher education.

What better time, then, to pull out the Gratitude Journal concept?

Hence, from a dark room late on a Friday night, a totally random, off-the-top-of-my-head compilation of a few things I like about my world right now.

• I have a large, private backyard. Like many around these parts it’s crunchy and hosts fire ants, but it has big trees and (for most of the part along the street) a solid fence. Therefore, on a night when I have a serious case of lazy, I have an alternative to the long, hot dog-walk (wasn’t sure about that hyphen, but I want to make clear that I’m not walking long hotdogs). Between the fence and the foliage, it’s unlikely that anyone speeding by in the dark will be able to discern the woman with the icy drink and her faithful companion prowling the perimeter, whatever she does or does bother to don.

• Many wonderful young women have helped out with Small Child over the years, but no one comes near to the delightful woman I shall now label The Sommelier. She finished college, with honors, four years ago. She didn’t take the route many expected – graduate or professional school, foreign study, or the like; she refused to do what was supposed to come next just because. Now she does great things in a job that has turned out to be an education in itself. The Sommelier dropped in for a visit today, bearing gifts for Small Child, a huge smile, and news of great personal growth and happiness. We will always consider her part of our family.

• Have you visited
Goodreads? If you are reading this you are obviously highly accomplished at finding ways to waste time at your computer, so tread carefully here. You can post what you are reading, trade suggestions and actual books with your friends, and waste waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time playing The Never-ending Book quiz (which, in my opinion, has too many questions about fantasy series and too few on Modernist novels). Just don’t play when you’re really sleepy, or you’ll get your Bronte sisters and your Austen characters mixed up and end up with a percentage like mine.

• While I did not reach my
goal of reading an actual, physical book every week, I have begun to read more actual, physical books. During the last week of our California vacation, I enjoyed a paperback a day. To preserve my reputation, I doubt I’ll be posting any of these great works on Goodreads. True confession: I even ponied up the $3.99 for Amazon Prime overnight shipping to get the book whose teaser chapters ended the one before. Straight to the beach house, for less than a tank of gas. That’s living.

• I’ve made peace with the decision to take Small Child out of public school. This deserves a blog entry of its very own.

• And I like my friends. Near and far.