Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fall Chores

We’ve had a warm fall and only this week have we had several nights of freeze warnings in a row.  The warmth has meant extended flip flop enjoyment.  It’s also meant that I could hold off on many of my fall chores.  Earlier this month, I put away my fairy garden.  This past weekend, I raked some leaves, dug up my dahlia bulbs, and stacked away my tomato cages.  I also decided that I needed to mow the lawn one last time.  Though it was late November, the grass was as thick and lush as if it was a Springtime lawn; the downed leaves were the only indication that it was Fall.

I enjoy mowing and I’m always sad to put the mower away for the season.  But it’s been run out of gas and placed in the back of the garage, having earned a rest for Winter.  Leaves have been mulched or raked into bags; I’ll finish some more of that this weekend.  Two nights of temperatures well below freezing confirm that Winter is on its way.  My yard is ready for the chill.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sign of My Advancing Decline

When I first got my station wagon it was June 2011 and the notion that heated seats would be a welcome addition to my world seemed unlikely.  After all, I had never had a car with heated seats before and seemed to function quite nicely.  But that first winter I found value in the heated seats and since then the return of cold weather finds me increasingly thrilled to turn on the heated seats.

I’d assume this affection was a sign of my advancing dotage, but JT is as much a fan as I am.  This week, very cold mornings have returned with a vengeance (today it was 28 degrees when I started the car) and each day we have been grateful  for the blessing of a warm seat on our morning commute.

Before you know it, I’ll be setting the furnace in the house above 75, just like a genuine old lady.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Communications Issues

I can only speak for myself, but I think that Jesus’s PR rep might want to think about drawing more favorable comparisons.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Unseasonable and Unkind: Week Three

Still going strong with Halloween over at the neighbor’s house.

Ben Franklin On Liberty

Like everyone else I know, I have followed events in Paris since the attacks last Friday.  For me, the tragedy has been magnified by the unthinkably unkind and fearful American rhetoric about refugee immigration that has followed.  As I understand terrorism, its primary weapon is fear.  Fear is an irrational emotion, one that thrives off our feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.

The power of terrorism lies in its unpredictability and the fear generated by that uncertainty.  We don’t know when, where, or why a strike will happen.  Life always features uncertainty, of course, but acts of terror magnify that uncertainty.  We want protection.  When we have been free of terrorist acts, we can rationally admit that such perfect protection is impossible.  But a recent attack, like the one in Paris, finds us afraid and longing for safety and security.

It’s hard to remember that even in the best of all worlds,  perfect protection is impossible to secure.  When terror strikes, all bets are off.  Alas, terror thrives on the fact that rational minds are not in charge when fear has taken hold.  Demands for restrictions of Syrian refugees that have been cloaked in terms of safety are appealing because they claim a protection that we crave.

Such protection cannot be had.  It is irresponsible to claim otherwise.  Syrian refugees who wish to come to the United States are seeking liberty as generations of refugees before them have sought.  We are a nation of immigrants, one whose ability to persevere and thrive is a function of our multicultural identity.  Calls to shut the door on refugees are not just cruel, they are inconsistent with the liberty that we have claimed for ourselves since the first settlers came ashore in North America more than 400 years ago.  Governors, Congressional leaders, and presidential candidates who demand that we shut the door on those in need of refuge are ignoring the historical mission of this nation.  They are a betrayal of who we are and what we believe about ourselves and the world.  For them I recommend the wisdom of Ben Franklin, who seemed to understand the conundrum of human emotions that follow from fear for our safety.

Franklin isn't the only leader reminding us that fear is not the answer to our troubles.  There are others who urge us to stand up for what we believe.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Season 2

The cross country season has officially ended and JT’s next sport, wrestling (!), doesn’t officially begin practice until November 30.  However, the team (which seems to be as much a cult as a sport) has decided to have some early morning runs to get in the spirit of things.

To be honest, I cheerfully agreed to twice-a-week  7:15 am runs with the view that they would never last.  But it’s week 2 of morning runs and there are a lot of boys out there stretching and otherwise getting ready to make a 2 mile jog down the towpath along the canal that is next to campus.

Last night I told T that 7:15 runs were a damn sight better than midnight trips to the police station, which I suppose nicely sums up my current parenting philosophy.  It would also seem to explain why we arrived at school at 7:10 this morning.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Philadelphia Freedom

Last week was my birthday and on Saturday, JT, T and I set off for a little adventure in Philadelphia.  We listened to a soundtrack of Elton John songs on the way, arriving at Philadelphia Freedom just in time.  Bam!

Though we live less than two hours from the city and I’ve lived in this corner of the world for more than 10 years, I’ve never taken the time explore the well-known historical sights of Philadelphia.  Last weekend’s adventure was an effort to remedy that oversight.  We had a look at the Liberty Bell, which JT declared to be awfully small.  We were too late to get tickets to see Independence Hall but we could peer in the windows.

We did have the chance to walk through the door of Carpenter’s Hall, where the First Continental Congress was held.  That was awfully thrilling for the history geek in me.  Independence Hall is important, of course, but at Carpenter’s Hall, the whole business of revolution got started.  I enjoyed the thought of the rebels walking through the doorway to a whole new future.

We saw the Ben Franklin Museum and dropped by the Reading Terminal Market for an early supper.  JT tried his hand at Rocky-like feats as preparation for the coming wrestling season.

All in all, it was a lovely adventure.  There is still plenty of the city left for us to see, so Philadelphia, consider yourself on notice.  We’ll be back.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Real Life Conversations with T: Sweater Weather edition

The backstory: I like sweaters and have many more than I need.  That doesn’t necessarily slow my sweater acquisition plans, though I know that it should.  T tolerates this closet of madness, though she’s been known to offer an honest assessment of the excess.

Me (turning the pages of a catalog and sighting a pleasing sweater):  How many fair isle sweaters does one woman need?

T:  Apparently one more than she already has.

It’s like she can read my mind.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Morning Coffee

Each evening before I take to my bed, I make sure my coffee service is set up for the next day.  I grind coffee beans and prepare the coffee pot, which has a handy automatic timer.  I set out a coffee cup and creamer for the next morning.  Everything is arranged so that when I come downstairs in the early dawn the smell of fresh-brewed coffee fills the kitchen.  I have favorite coffee mugs and an assortment of creamers that make my morning welcoming.

Some mugs serve coffee all year; some are set out seasonally.  The collection shown here are the mugs I use in the Fall and Winter.  Some are many years old and have made the journey with me from Tennessee to Nebraska and now New Jersey.

Some are handmade.

Sometimes I want my coffee cup and creamer to match, as if Martha Stewart was in the kitchen (she’d judge, as well she should).

Some are recent acquisitions that make me smile, though I’m well aware that I’ve no more space 
(or need!) for coffee mugs.

All of them make my morning brighter.  That’s happy!