Wednesday, April 30, 2008

another reason to support organic farming

THE FOOD CHAIN
Shortages Threaten Farmers’ Key Tool: Fertilizer
By KEITH BRADSHER and ANDREW MARTIN
Population growth, shrinking world grain stocks and a growing appetite for meat, particularly in the developing world, has collided with a shortage of fertilizer.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

don't know where this one came from

So MyGal walked into the kitchen this morning, looking all dejected, and said, I just got fired from my job. Everybody hates me.

I am never really sure when a pretend game is going to show up, and when one does, I usually have no idea what my role is. Playing it safe, I replied, I'm sorry to hear that. What job did you get fired from?

She slumped over the kitchen table and said, I teach people how to be Girl Scouts. And now the principal wants to kick me in the butt.

She's not even actually in Girl Scouts. Or school. I don't think she even knows any Girl Scouts, aside from two GrownupGirl Scouts that she probably doesn't realize are Girl Scouts. I can't make this stuff up, people. She just says it and I have to write it down.

This post is dedicated to my blog stalkers at the local GS office.

Monday, April 28, 2008

tight fit

Once upon a time, there was a wee bairn called HB. He was an industrious little fella, always getting into things. And tight spaces. Like this.


Oh, woe is he, little HB. Stuck under the cribby and on top of a box, all at the verysame time.

And shirtless, to boot.


Cleverly he escaped, using only his mad creepy-crawly skills.


Guess he's not claustrophobic just yet. The end.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

confession of a sticky-fingered mama



I love this stuff. I first purchased it in a little shop in NYC last June. We were walking around the city, and I had no lip balm, and the lip situation was nearing crisis levels. Now I am never without it. It's so smooth, and it smells nice, and it's all fancy with its fancy-dancy pomegranate oil in it. And it's replenishing. You just can't ask for more from a lip balm.

But, as Paul Harvey says, here's the rest of the story.

I have shoplifted this product. Twice. Go ahead, gasp, I know you are completely disappointed with me. But it was an accident, I swear. You see, most places do not sell the Heavenly Lip Balm in this handy, doesn't fall through the holes in the shopping cart, cardboard packaging. They sell it in a shrink-wrapped tube. So, to avoid losing it whilst I wander the store, I hold it in my hand. And then, inevitably, I think, Why am I holding my lip balm? So I stick it in my pocket. Like an ass. Then, hours later, when I pull my Heavenly Lip Balm from my pocket to apply more, and wonder why is it that I can't get the cap off...oh wait, it's still shrink-wrapped...dangit, I did it again...I feel like a complete and utter moron. If I had stolen it from a local store, I would take the Stupid Shoplifted Heavenly Lip Balm back and pay for it, really I would, because I have a really overdeveloped need (read: obsessive compulsion) to Do The Right Thing. But as it is, I seem to only shoplift from stores that are an hour away from where I live. Dangit.

I am sorry for stealing the Heavenly Lip Balm. I am just going to order it online from now on, to avoid this sticky situation. Apologies, Dr. Burt.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

food as weapon

I've seen a number of posters hung in the windows of local businesses lately, advertising a pancake breakfast being held in memory of a young man who recently passed away from the effects of an eating disorder.

I knew this young man when he was a child, and what a charming boy he was! We worshipped at a twenty/thirtysomethings service together as adults. I know for a fact that his life, and sadly enough, his death have strongly impacted my community. His family and church have begun an eating disorders support group, and while I don't know this for fact, I assume that this group has something to do with this young man.

I think it's likely that I am going to sound rude, and that is not my intention at all, but these posters have brought a question to my mind that I am going to share with you. Why is it that people are chosing to remember this young man with a food event?

I have a basic understanding of eating disorders. And this is it: The disorder is about control. Food is used, or not used, to establish control. So why is it that the weapon used in this young man's death is being used to remember him? It seems equivalent to remembering a murder victim by hosting a gun raffle, or celebrating someone who suffered an alcohol-related death in a bar. It doesn't make sense to me.

There are hundreds of ways to raise money in memory of an anorexic without using food. A 5K, a walk-a-thon, a golf tournament, a concert...the list is long and there is an equally long list of people in our community who have organized such events.

And if the organization has goals of reaching out to people living with an eating disorder, is a food event the best way to get them interested in the support group? My best guess, uneducated as it is, says no. Will a city's homeless population go to a soup kitchen in a rural area? No. Will a "turn in your semi-automatic weapon" drive be successful if it is held nowhere near the demographic with the weapons? No. Will anorexics jump in their cars and drive out to the pancake breakfast? Probably not.

We have such a food-centered life here in the US. And it is getting to be a serious problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 13.8% of children ages 2-5 are overweight, and it only gets worse as they get older. 18.8% of children 6-11, and 17.4% of children 12-18 are overweight. And for adults the statistic is frightening: 32.9% of adults are overweight.

The statistics on eating disorders are not as accurate, due to the secretive nature of some disorders (bulimia, for example), but they are alarming. The National Institue of Mental Health figures that 1 of 5 women in America has an eating disorder. The Renfrew Center Foundation, which works to advance the education, prevention, research and treatment of eating disorders, says that eating disorders affect 24 million Americans, and 70 million others across the world. And 50,000 people will die from the effects of eating disorders.

Looking at the statistics on eating disorders and obesity together, it's no wonder that people with self-worth and self-image issues decide to use food. It's there, right in front of us, all the time! Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by images of, advertisements for, places to get food. Even when visiting friends, food is practically crammed down our throats. I know I do that (not the actual cramming), but if someone stops by, I offer something to eat and drink...I grew up seeing that (thanks, mom) and now I do it without even thinking about it. I use food to exhibit my hospitality, and that's really not necessary when I stop to think about it.

As a nation, we need to stop glorifying food. We need to exercise some serious self-control. Especially now, as the food situation around the world is nearing a crisis level, we need to examine how we use food, not only as nourishment, but in other ways, too, before it's too late.

Friday, April 25, 2008

that'd be awesome. thanks.

MyGal to me, skipping merrily down the sidewalk on the way to preschool this morning:

Let's play horses. You can be the old mare.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

more ugh.

I really and truly hate offending people. I can hear some snickers from the peanut gallery, but I assure you, it's true. I very rarely, if ever, say or do something intentional to upset somebody. I am just not that kind of person. I do, on occasion, put my foot in my mouth, and spend lots of time regretting it. And there is quite a bit of time between when my stomach is tied up in a knot, and when it it untied.

I am equally bothered when it has been insinuated or suggested that I have done something to offend, but the specific something remains unnamed. For example, let's look at my other blog, The Dayton Kitchen. You won't actually see the post that is the cause of the knot in my stomach, because I removed it. I quoted another blogger's recipe, linked to the site, gave plenty of recognition, then got a comment (hooray?) that said the author was glad I enjoy that recipe, then asked me to please email her. So naturally I did, and smelling that something was up, I asked if I should remove the post. The reply was gracious and kind, recognizing that I am new to this whole blogging thing, and that there are newbie mistakes that the author made, too, and that the author would like to make some gentle suggestions. Great! I will take suggestions. I am normal like that. And that is what I told the author.

But instead of telling me if I should remove the post, or what I should have done, the author told me about a deadline, and that this would have to wait, and that I should not use my email address to contact people about my blog, because it is a business address and not a free, nondescript sort of deal. Which is all fine, I guess. I am not trying to be a complainer here. I said I would receive suggestions. And I would have used a different address to correspond, if I didn't have a pretty good idea who the author was (as far as one can tell with the Internet). I never would have emailed my unhappy reader from a few weeks back with that address, no sir.

So I removed the post, or rather, moved it someplace else, where nobody can see it until I hear from the author again. Just in case.

I am a "fixer" by nature, and I want to rectify the situation first and foremost, and then get my lesson in blogging after that. And I am frustrated because so far, I am unable to do the right thing by this other person. And I just need to get over that and stop feeling like I am about to throw up. This is one of those days I wish I had an appointment with my Nutcracker, so that he would explain why I am such a head case about things that involve right and wrong and being a fixer.

Monday, April 21, 2008

how I spent saturday, or why I haven't blogged in days



That's me, Bec, and Betsy, all looking lovely under a pretty tree with pretty pink flowers. We were in Ithaca for the Habitat for Humanity New York State Conference. It was super. We attended some interesting presentations, including one on Building Green (you really ought to know what that means by now). There were two very opposite people discussing Green Building. The first was a mannish, tree-hugging hippie woman from the Ithaca Green Building Alliance, and she had a sort of extreme take on the subject, encouraging us to take our board making sawmill machines out into our local forest, so that we could mill our 2x4's right there in the nature, and leave all the sawdust and scraps right there in the nature, so that more trees could grow up out of the sawdust and scraps right there in the nature. She was very informative, and would often gaze off over the tops of our heads and need a minute to capture her thoughts and put them back in her mouth. The other speaker was from Habitat Suffolk County, on Long Island, and he was a khaki-wearing architect, recently certified in the government-sanctioned green building blah blah blah. There were lots of abbreviations, and it was hard for me to keep up. He had house plans, PV panels for roofs (some sort of energy-creating something. Have to read more.), and he was very by-the-book. It was a nice balance.

The second seminar was one dealing with our Affiliate Tithe. If you are not familiar with the concept of tithing, and it is said with a long i (like necktie), it is a Biblical principle that instructs us to give 10 percent of our income to the church. In HFH, each Affiliate is required to give 10 percent of its unrestricted donations (restricted donations are supposed to be used completely by the Affiliate; the donor restricts the Affiliate from tithing) to HFH International, to be used in developing nations. My Affiliate, Genesee County NY, tithes to the Philippines. It costs about $2400 to build one home there, so for every home we build here, we build two in the Philippines. I like to tell our donors that when they support our fight against poverty housing here in Genesee County, they are building three houses instead of one. They get all excited and write bigger checks. One donor wrote us a check for a complete house, and when we went back to them to explain the tithe the donor wrote a check to cover the tithe as well. That was a super sweet donation.

After a lovely lunch full of ham sandwiches, chips, and networking, we learned about advocacy (bugging your state and federal lawmakers) and how to best engage our volunteers based on their generation.

Then we went shopping in Ithaca. Because, you know, when two or more women are gathered together in a cute city, that's what happens. It's nature, just like milling your own handsawn trees in the forest. Or something.

We snuck off with Awesome Christine, the Director of Affiliate Tithe for HFHI. Yep, we like her that much we stole her away from all the other affiliates. And she likes us so much, she bought us dinner...AT THE MOOSEWOOD RESTAURANT!!! It was beautiful. But I am getting a little ahead of myself. Check out the pics.


It might not look this way, but I had to CLIMB up on this horse. It gave me a cramp in my foot, just like when I was pregnant for all those years. So I had a cramp in my foot and a piece of steel sticking, ummm...in my jeans...yeah. Hence, the face.


Turns out that Mustang Sally was facing an Ithaca Police Department car. SUV. So Bec decided she was a rebel, too, and hopped up. We are naughty. The passersby stopped to watch us get off the horse. They laughed. They should have laughed. I suspect they stuck around to see if we were ticketed for pretending to ride an inanimate horse. No such luck.


Here we are, from right to left (let's honour the Chinese, they've been getting a bad rap lately, those overpopulated, polluting monk-haters): Moi, Bec, Christine, and Betsy. We are Drinking. And we are Eating Naughty Desserts. Mine was Citrus-Soaked Date Nut Cake. The others ate the most divine ice cream on earth.


I love local breweries. So naturally, I had to try me some Ithaca Beer Company. I had Nut Brown. And I loved it. The other gals had the Apricot Wheat. It was fruity (you are saying Duh! The word 'Apricot' is in the title!), and if I had some of that I would have been in trouble. Serious. Can't. Drive. Home. Trouble. You know, the happy kind. Behind the pint glasses are the takeout containers. The contents are a secret. And they are currently empty. I did not share. So too bad for my Mister and the Short People.

After dinner, we found a cafe sort of establishment and sat for more coffee and other Adult Beverages for hours more. I just love those gals. Women. We four are more than Just Gals. So there.

It was loverly. (Name that musical.) The not blogging in days is due to the serious lack of sleep acquired prior to, and following the trip to Ithaca. I'm a little better now. But tomorrow I will have six Short People in my presence all day. I hope they will not be actually in my house all the livelong, but outside, running around, getting themselves set up for successful naps. Otherwise, you might not see me again for a few.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

another good idea

MyGal: Mom, we should get a frog.

This is where I am trying to look as calm and nonchalant as possible, you know, as if I were actually considering this ridiculous suggestion.

MyGal: It would eat all the bugs.

And this is where I tilt my head ever-so-slightly to the left as if she has made a good point...I also nod and shrug a little. And this is so that I do not say something that would hurt her feelings, or laugh sarcastically. Because I Am A Good Parent.

I hear you snickering.

MyGal: I could put a leash on it and tie it to my bed.

And this is where I look at her with wide, wide, wide-open eyes, my jaw hanging there like an empty swing. Because WHO HAS EVER HEARD OF A FROG THAT BIG? It was comic and terrifying all at the same time. And if it were that big, would it just lash out with its nasty frog tongue and try to eat me? Because I am NO FLY! I will not be tongue-spanked by a comickly-terrifying frog. Who cares about the freaking bugs now? THERE'S A GIANT FROG IN OUR HOUSE!!!!!

Then, my dearsweet NumberOneSon chimes in, "And we will wive hapuhwee evah after."

Without a frog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

mygal buried my shoe...can i hit her with my shovel?



SuperClever Person of the Day: Jill!
thunderous applause, eternal fame, whatnot

We have had a certain amount of shovel use lately, so I had to go with Jill's callback of the child violence. Good work.

Next week's "What am I saying/What the heck is going on here?" photo will feature MyGal breakin' it down, yeeeaaah.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

starvation subsidies

Today was a busy day. We tumbled out of bed, ate a noisy breakfast...er, were noisy during breakfast, and got ready speedy quick to head down the street for our coffee tasting event.

What fun! We chatted, no small talk, we ate, we drank coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Everyone was excited about Equal Exchange's program and their amazing coffee, and I think there are going to be some new customers. I wish more people would purchase fairly traded products, because poverty sucks, and those farmers, all farmers for that matter, should be able to make a decent living wage.

I've seen a number of articles recently telling of the riots around the world that are taking place because of the insane increase in the price of food. People in third world nations are unable to feed their families. That's certainly not new, but when food prices skyrocket by 150%, it's tragic news. Most of us here in America can suck it up and deal by cutting extras out of our budget, but there are millions, billions actually, around the world who have no way to keep up.

Within the past few days, the US government has pledged a ton of money (that we presumably do not have) to help feed the world. Other developed nations are doing the same. But what happens when our food supply dwindles as well? Why are farmers being paid to keep perfectly good farmland empty when people are dying of starvation? Certainly those subsidies could be paid to increase agricultural production, to better utilize our resources, to put food in empty stomachs.

How about a little reform in the USDA? How about a little bit of actually caring about people, and a little less about OurRoyalSelves? We can be doing better. But when will that start?

We did a little bit today, getting eight more families to support some hard-working coffee farmers in South America, Africa and South Asia. With enough drops in the bucket, things will change. I hope.

Monday, April 14, 2008

warm and cozy

We all were having a time of it this morning. HB sat in his high chair, rubbing his eyes, wailing, and cramming oatmeal in his face (all at the same time) for 15 minutes. And then I put him back to bed, just 30 minutes after he had woken up in the first place. Poor lad, poor lad. (Name that operetta!) MyGal and NumberOne intermittently threw things at each other, beat one another about the head, and disrespectfully declined to eat their breakfasts. I drank as much coffee as I could, and ate my divine groaties with toasted walnuts, craisins, and a teensy bit of brown sugar. I am not stupid. I had to put on my oxygen mask before the plane crashed, because then where would I be? You know you have to mask yourself before you can help put the mask on other people, especially ornery short people who are starving.

It went downhill. Or, to stick with the airplane bit: Crashed. (Fistfight.) Burned. (Screaming and sobbing.)

Despite my excellent breakfast and healthy (for a 300 pound man) dose of caffeine, I could only come up with one option for the heathens. Who, by the way, did not steal my camera, as I had been suspecting. Lucky for them. And, as you may have noticed, I found my camera. But I digress.

My solution: Enforced Cuddle Time. If you do not have Enforced Cuddle Time at your house, you should consider it. Everyone wins. We went to my room and climbed up on the bed. Being the Boss of Things does have a few perks: in this case the perk is having a way bigger and more comfy bed than in the ornery heathens' bedroom. MyGal was already a little interested in cuddle time, so I handed her my phone. I do understand that this does not make any actual sense, but you are just going to have to move on with me. Come on. I know you can do it. MyGal called her Grandma, who happened to be riding in a car going north on Route 15 in Maryland. That is a long road, and boy do I know it. (Sorry, Grandma, I really needed things to chill out a little, and you had a little time on your hands.)

And here comes the Enforced Part. I pulled #1, dragging Beloved, his "peshul Beloved Bwanket" up to Cuddle Central--and I know that sounds completely dumb, but I can't have anybody thinking I do wrong things with my babies--and I threw my right arm and leg over him and held him tight until he stopped wrestling with me.

Which took about an entire 29 seconds, for all of you picturing an epic battle. Seriously. I didn't smother him with a pillow or anything. In fact, he responded by saying, "You da best mommy ever."

We three laid there, snug and warm and cozy and quiet. And everyone said nice things. And there was no shouting. And no fighting. And no whining. Because that is our motto. I make the children chant it as they clean the toilets. Well, someone has to....I am kidding. I clean the toilets. But I do make them say it when I am reaching a point with them.

No Fighting! No Shouting! No Whining!

It's catchy, no? And for some reason, they feel compelled to say it in that order, and only that order. I love it when people are predisposed to alphabetizing.

But I love it more when we have moments like this morning, when it looks like everybody's jumped into the handbasket, well on their way to you-know-where, that end with a cozy tangled cat nap. I love cozy tangles.

coffee tasting update

We are meeting at the Alexander United Methodist Church tomorrow, not my house.

Too. Many. People. My cats would lose it.

Be there, or be decaffeinated.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

caption, please.



Take a good look at HB, and come up with a caption for this here photo. I'll check back on Wednesday morning, and let you all know who is the cleverest one of all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

uphill, downhill

Is that why so many of you don't comment? Because of the Blasted Word Verification? I do realize it didn't stop The Kind Professor, but he was On A Mission.

I have deep-seeded negative feelings about the Blasted Word Verification. And I apologize for making you go through that to leave me your sweet nothings. And your sweet somethings. And your offers for...well, never you mind about that. Because I turned the offers down flat. I can't be bought or persuaded, people. It just. Won't. Happen.

But the Good News is that I have disabled the Blasted Word Verification. And it will remain off unless I start getting lots of porn and insurance advertisements, you know, in case I want to insure my porn?

Not likely.

And that Not Likely means I AM NOT LIKELY TO POSSESS PORN!!!! You and your dirty Saturday night minds. Clean it up over there before you get to church tomorrow, so that you can concentrate and Behave Appropriately.

Besides, why would I actually buy porn, when there's so much free stuff on the internet?

i heart springtime

My flowers are blooming! I am so excited. I have two daffodils that are showing off their bright yellow faces, and white and purple crocuses have popped up to join the snowdrops. The tulips are promising to have a good year, too. There are enormous groups of tulip leaves popping up all around my house. I don't know what it is, exactly, about tulips that make me love them so, but oh, my dearies, I love tulips.

I am going to try my hand at a few rosebushes this year. I got some last year, and we didn't love them enough, so they up and died on us. I'll attempt to love them more this time around, so we'll see what happens. And also some echinacea, more lavendar, two kinds of sunflowers (for MyGal's Bit of Earth), pansy, nasturtiums, and a variety of herbs.




I finally made my list of seeds to purchase for our vegetable garden this summer. I also got some fabulous rhubarb seed, which, according to Heirloom Acres, is a gem due to its low acidity and relative sweetness.

I present to you Vegetable Garden 2008:
Tema Green Bean

Great Northern Shell Bean

Blue Lake Pole Bean

Green Sprouting Broccoli

Red Core Chanteney Carrot

National Pickling Cucumber (It's endorsed, for crying out loud. How can I not?)

Salad Greens Mix (includes Arugula, Green Wave, Southern Giant and Red Giant mustard greens, Mizuna, Red Russian Kale, Tatsoi and Komatsuma. That is a mouthful.)

Spring Lettuce Mix (includes Ruby Red, Oakleaf, Black Seeded Simpson, Buttercrunch, Paris White Cos, and Salad Bowl Red. That's another mouthful.)

All American Parsnips

Sugar Snap Pea

King of the North Bell Pepper

Purple Beauty Bell Pepper

Howden Pumpkin

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Amish Paste Tomato

Rutgers Tomato

Pearly Pink Cherry Tomato

Thursday, April 10, 2008

hurrah.

It seems I have my first official Dayton Time blog hater. He (is he a he? I wondered last night. Turns out he is.) left me a snarky comment about a mistake I made...yes, even I can be misinformed...and then I apologized, so let's all move on already. And then, in another moment of greatness, he left me another snarky comment. And he said maybe it would be better if I didn't blog. Do you hear that sound? Is that sound of me being shocked? And insulted? No. That is the sound of me ROLLING MY EYES.

Uncle I-Know-Things says he seems like a nice chap. And, well, maybe he is. I think it's possible, but he very likely has a narcissistic side to him, and is really getting off on being an insulting f-with. He's probably gloating right now because I am spending a few seconds of my day on him, and now you are, too, and that is probably the most anyone has ever considered him in the past twenty-two years, ever since he moved out of his mommy's house at the adventurous age of 38.

So let us take a minute to shake our heads in the general direction of my angry reader, who must be living a boring and miserable life to have so much free time on his hands.

P.S. If you are just dying to throw the man a bone, visit his website.

P.P.S. (or is is P.S.S. or does anyone actually know and/or care?) And if you read this before I substituted the real-liveFword with a stand in f-, and were offended, I apologize. I find the word amusing, but don't really use it in public. If I offended you and you want to leave nasty comments, I promise to publish them. Just keeping it real over here.

coffee tasting

By now you all should be aware of my love of the legal, addictive stimulant that is coffee. And you may also be aware that I am in favor of third world farmers making a living wage. On the right hand side of my blog, there are a few links of businesses I support. Equal Exchange is one of them. You can visit their website to learn more.

I buy Equal Exchange coffee at the local First Presbyterian Church. By the case. And it is completely worth it for a number of reasons.
  1. it is the least expensive organic coffee in the county.
  2. it is the least expensive fairly traded coffee in the county.
  3. it is less expensive than Dunking Coffee and Starbuzz.
  4. it tastes better than any other coffee I've ever had in my short but highly-caffeinated life.

I am inviting some lovely people over to sample four of the varieties offered by Equal Exchange. I did email a few of the lovelies I know, but if you feel that we would be better with you than without you, consider yourself invited. You should leave me a comment to let me know you are coming.

We are a snack-loving people, here so if you have something scrumptious to share that's great. I'll have some gruel for the kiddos on hand just in case.

Children are welcome. No pets. Shoes optional. Shirts? Well, I will leave that to you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

objectionable content

The Mister's blog was flagged for objectionable content. I have reviewed said content, and believe some may be offended by the last line of his haiku that refers to the certain smell of cow ...dung... in the air. He didn't use the dung word, he used the sh!t word, and now he's naughty.

Now, I do have to admit that I was concerned about some sort of other naughtiness on The Mister's blog, seeing as how I was Under The Influence last night, and don't actually remember things too well. And it's unlike him to put certain things on display... I don't know if he had located nakey pictures of so-and-so and found them funny, and shared them with the world.

I was relieved about the cow poop. I am not relieved that I am finding cow poop more and more appealing. I love that one of the happy smells of spring is Spreadin'. The farmers don't spread until it's really, really spring. They take their vats and silos full of objectionable content and spread it over every uninhabited square acre of the county. And it is lovely.

I like objectionable contents.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

what a day

So last night, I had some really bad abdominal pain. And by really bad, I mean I have never felt such a thing in my life, and that includes birthing my big ol' babes. They were big ones. It was bad enough I called the doctor, scheduled an appointment for tomorrow, then called back this afternoon and told them I needed to come in immediately. They sent me for a CAT scan, and the words "kidney stones" and "ectopic pregnancy" were burned into my brain. Thankfully, I am not pregnant, and there was no evidence of any kidney stones. I was given some happy pills that work AWESOME!!! And also an anti-nausea medicine, which is making me very sleepy. My doctor thinks I may have an unhappy gall bladder, and instructed me to eat a low-fat diet, and keep off the meat. That's a bummer. I like me some meat, you know.

Apologies if this post is a little wacky. I am entirely stoned right now. Legally. Stoned. I am going to bed and hopefully will feel better in the morning. I would appreciate your prayers, so thanks in advance.

beyond critical mass

The screaming, tired children in my house today outweigh me by almost forty pounds. I am doubting my ability to take them should an insurgence present itself. Argh.

More. Coffee. Needed.

And maybe a powerbar. I'll take all the help I can get.

Monday, April 7, 2008

brothers, cameras and telling tales

The short ones have taken my camera. I want it back. Unfortunately, nobody knows where that shiny little fella is. Or they're not telling. There's nobody who is being a tattle-tale. No breaking that sibling code of silence.

At least those little future felons are loyal.

My brothers and I were very serious about not telling on each other, after we reached the Certain Age of Realization where the brilliance of not ratting illuminated us like the...umm... uh... oh I don't know what. But it was a good moment in our lives. The Inclination That One Would Undergo Bodily Harm or Be Arrested were the two reasons to blow a sibling in to the authorities.

It was great. There was a decided decrease in fighting, much less kicking under the table, nasty looks, beat-downs. And much less getting into Actual Trouble.

It did not put a complete end to the fighting, I clearly remember a fistfight between Uncle Benna and someone over a game of Monopoly. It's so fuzzy...Who could it have been?...Maybe it was a girl?...No, well, could it maybe have been me?...It was so long ago that it's hard to say who it was. But anyway, it was a doozy. And Uncle Benna started it.

And there was that one time at Christmas dinner when I was nine months pregnant, and Uncle-I-Know-Things refused to stop telling me I was fat. He and his wife, soon-be-Auntie Teff to the incubating babe, hadn't endured a pregnancy yet, and he did not have the valuable information that YOU DO NOT TELL A WOMAN IN HER NINTH MONTH OF PREGNANCY THAT SHE IS FAT, MORON. He was duly warned, a number of times, and I was forced to stand, er, lumber up out of my seat, lean over the table (read: lie in the mashed potatoes), and punch him in the mouth. I'm not proud of this moment, I was simply doing what needed to be done. But do not be concerned for Uncle I-Know-Things; I promise you I hit like a girl. A very little, pansy-assed girl. I believe he actually laughed, but to his credit, he did manage to control himself until I had locked myself in the bathroom to cry.

Not that this has anything to do with my siblings, but now I'm stuck thinking about being knocked, so here's another tale to confuse or something. I had an interesting little hormone issue going on during my first pregnancy that was kindasorta like a game show. We called it Laughing or Crying? And we tried not to play. Here's why: someone inevitably said something, and funny or not, I would laugh. At the verysame instant I would begin laughing, my family would begin taking bets on how long I would laugh before I burst into tears. And nobody ever knew what to expect, especially me. I did not really enjoy this game.

However, my ability to function did improve with each subsequent pregnancy. At least, that's what they tell me.

Too bad nobody will tell me about my camera.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

popscicle

Doing their best to convince me that I should be the Doler-Outer Of Popscicles, the children were stumbling over the word. MyGal tried to assist NumberOne by breaking the word into syllables.

"Say it. POP." Pop.

"UH." Uh.

"GULL." Guww.

"No, that's not it. POP." Pop.

"UH." Uh.

"GULLS." Guwws.

"NO. Just say it right."

NumberOne followed with this list of possible ways to pronounce popscicle.
  1. pah scuh cle
  2. pah scah ble
  3. pah aahh kle
  4. pah gah gle
  5. pos gah gle
  6. pops gah gle

So there you go, in case you have tired of saying popscicle and are looking for something new to try out. Happy Saturday, people.

Friday, April 4, 2008

what i have been doing lately

This has been another long week, but believe me when I say it has been MUCH more fulfilling and frustrating than barfing, catching barf, cleaning up barf, and dealing with other gastrointestinal nastiness.

I am on the board of directors for my county's Habitat for Humanity affiliate. I was the Boss of Things for a while...a long, LONG, while, and am happy to have served as the Boss of said Things. I rather enjoy being the Boss of Things, however that is another topic for another day. My current duty is Support Person for our Partner Family. The family is made up of a single mom and her three sons. I like the woman I am serving. She is smart and hard-working, drop-dead gorgeous, but best of all she wants better things for her babies. I am sure they would cringe if they knew I referred to them as babies, but you know that is how I refer to Short People. So get over it, boys. And I am really motivated by other people who are motivated. (Read: constructively motivated.)

This is a really stressful and exciting time for our Partner. The house is complete. We have a Certificate of Occupancy. We have the final cost-out on the house. Our attorney, who is so far from being one of those Butt-Of-The-Lawyer-Joke guys, is on the case (sorry, that was a lame and unintentional pun) and is preparing the documents for closing. Our Partner has prepaid her closing costs, has completed her 300 hours of Sweat Equity. For those of you who don't know, one of the principles of Habitat is to require the Partner Family to work on their home. Our affiliate requires 300 hours from a one-parent household, and 500 from a 2-parent home. Kids contribute by getting good grades, because they are not allowed to be on the actual job site when actual work is being done. Safety and things, you know. The stressful part comes in the form of waiting for closing. Waiting. And. Waiting. AND. WAITING. And if you've ever waited to move and have a major change in your life at the same time, and had no idea when the move would take place, you can appreciate the situation. The closest I can come to in my mind of picturing it is imagining being nine months pregnant, plus two weeks overdue, living in my house with some stuff boxed up and crammed everywhere, with an OB who refuses to induce, and knowing that when I get out of the hospital, all of my stuff will be moved someplace else, to another house entirely.

I think I can turn every stressful event into a pregnancy story.

This is also a stressful time for me (I'll refrain from the preggers bit), because I am supporting our Partner, which involves encouraging her to be patient, and also advising her about things like lawyers and insurance. And this also involves lots of nagging...not Partner, so much, but everyone else who is a part of the Process Of Closing The House. And nagging involves phone calls. Lots and lots of phone calls. My children have (this is me cringeing) watched TV for four hours both yesterday and this afternoon. Because I have been Talking To People.

The worst was this afternoon's conversation which I will preface with this:

Our rules say that Our Partner must purchase outright her first year of Homeowner's Insurance. We gave her a ballpark figure of how much she should be paying, and also told her how much the house is worth. She went to Her Person, who does all of her family members' insurances, and the person quoted her RIDICULOUSLY HIGH on everything: limits, coverages, deductible, and the actual cost of the thing...twice as high as we recommended.

I told Our Partner flat out, in no uncertain terms, in such a way that I did not need to repeat myself: You are being screwed. No, let's not say 'screwed', let's say she has taken a number of sharp rods and impaled you with them. Go back and tell her that is ridiculous and that there is no way on earth you will pay that.

Our Partner went back, and only the price was changed. So after consulting with Men Who Know Such Things, I gave her an idea of how many tens of thousands of dollars in coverage she was being over-covered by, and told her to go back again, and have it changed and also get the deductible cut by 75%.

Insurance Lady got snippy and said she wanted to talk to me. Super! (That is me, saying that with my sarcastically happy voice.) I have played phone tag with Insurance Lady all bloody week. And, for the record, I don't know if she's actually snippy, or just sounds snippy. There's just so much snippyness to snip through to get to the real answer that I have decided I just don't care either way.

So finally, today, I was able to reach her. Lucky for me, it was Snippy and Patronizing Day At The OK Corral. First off, I introduced myself as Pamela. Everyone who knows me knows that I Will Be Called Pamela, Dangit Already. I have never once in at least the past 12 years called me Pam. There are a number of reasons, but again, another post, another day. She refused to call me Pamela, even after I gently corrected her. And then again, after I less-gently corrected her, she still ignored me, but continued to use half of my first name in every sentence. It was all I could do to not jump on the Snippy and Patronizing Day BandWagon.

Then she educated me about how insurance works. And here is the lesson: Deductibles don't actually matter, you don't actually pay the deductible, and the deductible is high to prevent petty loss claims. Insurance Lady also told me that "the deductible is just subtracted from the check we send you if you have a loss."

I think that, in some circles, could possibly be regarded as paying.

I EFFING HATE THE SEMANTICS DANCE!!!!!!


And here are the two examples she quoted me:
  1. There's a windstorm, and your screen door blows off your house. It's a $100 door, so with a high deductible, you just hop your little door-less self off to the Home Depot (we WNY HFH-ers prefer Valu Home Centers, by the way) and pick up another door. If you had a tiny deductible, there would be petty little claims every time it got windy, and wouldn't that be a waste of time?
  2. In case of a catastrophic loss, everything is replaced, and the coverage is in layers, so you get layers upon layers of money thrown at you, minus the Ridiculous Deductible. Which is not to be confused with actually paying the Ridiculous Deductible, which is demonstrably different?

I tried to pry information regarding this mystery deductible from her, say, in the case of a $1200 claim, is Our Partner supposed to come up with the Ridiculous Deductible off of the Money Tree we are not planting in her yard? And her response: return to the Screen Door Scenario, and review the whole thing with me again as if I were a Colossal, Brain Dead, Naive Ass.

It was the longest 24 minutes 38 seconds of my week.

And THEN, despite me completely not asking, Insurance Lady said, "I don't get commission from the policies I write. I get paid based on the number of points I get."

Deep. Breath. To. Attempt. Cleansing.

Nope. Didn't work.

I EFFING HATE THE SEMANTICS DANCE!!!!!!!

The number of points she gets determines her salary. I honestly have no idea what this means, and I wouldn't care, except for the fact that she just said she doesn't get paid commission, and boy, that sure sounds like a twin sister to the commission system.

I politely thanked her for her time and hung up the phone.

I wasted 24 minutes and 38 seconds of my life listening to that woman lie to me (let's call it what it is here, people) and treat me like a moron. I can't imagine how Our Partner must have felt talking to Insurance Lady.

Most importantly, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how it is acceptable in our society to take advantage of the working poor. I don't understand taking advantage of anyone in a malicious way (except for when I play Monopoly with Uncle Benna, and then I assault him unkindly at every turn, but that's different).

This woman, Our Partner, is busting her ass to make a better life for her family. She is all those boys have, and she is responsible for everything, like so many others out there in the world. What good is there in overcharging her on something as simple as insurance? So when a kid comes over to play and slips and falls and breaks his whatever, Our Partner has to come up with a heartbreaking amount of money to cover the balance of the claim?

I do not wonder why there is a foreclosure crisis in our country.

I do not wonder why so many families live below the poverty line.

I do not wonder why people can't afford health care.

I do wonder how some people can live with themselves. There are some who should be ashamed. There's so much shame surrounding poverty, that shame should be spread around a little to everyone who contributes to continuing the downward spiral that is poverty, so that it's not just the poor families who are suffering the embarrassment. Don't misunderstand me and interpret this as me saying that no blame for poverty should be on the families. That would be a vast generalization. There is a lot of blame that could be cast.

But there is a lot of improvement that can be done.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

long, dark weekend

It has been too long. Have you missed me? I always wonder if I am the sort of person people miss when I'm not around.

This weekend was one of those tedious sorts of never-ending events that, um, never ended. Here it is, Tuesday night, and I feel like it was just Saturday. Or whatever day yesterday was. I think I am going to consider yesterday and today the same day, because I was up with HB ninety thousand million gajillion times in the night and wee small hours of this morning, thanks to his high fever and superpointy incisor teeth. They are so sharp and pointy, yet they refuse to pop through the gum and be actual, real, live teeth. Why is that?

I am sure part of it was the Series Of Barfing Episodes, Etc., and I will spare you the etc., and everyone's General Crankiness, and Teething, and Not Getting To Do What One Desires, but it was painful. And gross. And long. And exhausting. I'm not complaining, really, because if I was complaining, I'd be going into great detail about my deepest, darkest (and they were dark) thoughts and feelings. I'm just giving a name to the Series of Unfortunate Events that has been the past seven days.

But today. And by today, I mean after the most recent breakfast consumed in my house. Today was Glorious. It was drizzling a happy little springtime drizzle, and the big kids went out to play. MyGal's hair was a damp frame to her pink-cheeked face, and NumberOneSon's hair had gone completely curly thanks to the moisture. They chased each other up and down the sidewalk and through the mud pit that is my front yard. Silly kids, in their pajamas and puddle boots and jackets. HB eventually woke up, still feverish and sobbing, and none of the usual tricks would cheer him. I opened up the front door so he could watch the other two playing.

We breathed the smell of earth. The scent of wet, thawed-out, just-rained spring earth is heavenly. As we stood there, soaking in the first real taste of springtime we've had this year, the robins chittered happily, the breeze brushed our cheeks, and the sun was shining boldly.

And all of the blech faded away. HB couldn't even wait for shoes, he was out the door before I realized he was gone. The back yard was littered with fallen twigs, branches and snowdrops, MyGal's favorite sign of springtime. There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of them, in clumps of twenty or thirty that made little polka-dotty designs in the grass. Not all of the snowdrops survived the day. She picked bouquets for our neighbors, and I tied them with bows made of pale pink yarn.

I'd like to think I'd have appreciated today as much as I did, even without the long, dark winter that was punctuated so strongly by this long, dark weekend. But maybe not.