Thursday, September 20, 2018

Throwback Year Five

I have a collection of black and white pictures of JT that hang in the living room.  I see them every day and they never fail to make me smile.  He was five when these pictures were made, a silly and busy little boy who was rather charming.

Those cheeks have gone the way of time, but the smile remains.  

That’s happy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Supremely Well Played

When Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, I figured that Democrats would fight the good fight and lose anyway.  We’d have yet another Supreme Court justice well to the right of the center (and actual American public opinion), especially on the issue of the right to privacy and abortion.

Now that federal court nominations are filibuster-proof, a Democratic party short of 51 seats in the Senate is doomed to lose.  I had little hope that Republican pro-choice senators like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins would save us.  Of course they would ask Kavanaugh how he felt about Roe v. Wade and of course he would say it is “settled law.”  Murkowski and Collins would act as if this was re-assuring while the rest of us would know that the answer was anything but since the Supreme Court’s primary power is to alter whatever “settled” law they wish to change.  Roe would quickly be unravelled and then we’d be fighting like hell to hold on to marriage equality.  Reasonable gun control didn’t have a prayer.

I wouldn’t say that I was sanguine about this prospect.  It would be yet another in the chain of horrifying developments that is the Trump Administration.  I would not give up hope and I’d continue to fight like mad to ensure that in subsequent elections there would be enough motivated voters to back our nation off the political ledge that is Donald Trump and his merry band of right-wing bigotry.  

In an office discussion, my boss and I made one of our one dollar bets.  He took confirmation for a dollar and I was sporting, taking the side of a “no” vote for Kavanaugh.  I figured the money was gone but I like to indulge in bitter, ironic laughter.  Clearly, I hadn’t accounted for Senator Chuck Schumer’s willingness to play political hard ball.  At every step of the confirmation process, the Democratic minority leader and his fellow senators have played the long-game on the Kavanaugh nomination.  Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris were heroic in their willingness to insist upon full release of Kavanaugh’s records as well as persistence on the very hard questions.  They played it so well that although I still expected confirmation I felt the Democrats had set us up for a longer term win, suggesting enough doubts about Kavanaugh that we could use the issue to encourage better Democratic turnout in 2018 and well beyond.

I also came to believe that the combination of Republican urgency to confirm and complete unwillingness to release documents related to Kavanaugh was an odd and troubling decision.  Of course, I find many GOP positions to be odd and troubling so this was no surprise.  Then we got the bombshell accusation about Kavanaugh’s behavior as a teenager and an accuser willing to step forward.

The GOP has its hands tied now: refusal to listen to Christine Blasey Ford will haunt them now and later; they know it and have devised a strategy whereby she is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee on Monday next.  Blasey Ford and Senate Democrats want an FBI investigation, which adds time to the clock, a position that is both politically savvy on their part and likely the best approach no matter your politics.  Republicans, with an eye on the coming November 2018 midterm, want a nomination sealed and delivered before election day.  They know there is a coming accounting for their inexcusable placement of party over nation and they see Kavanaugh as one final reward before their caskets start being politically sealed for a generation.

And so we have a stand-off, not just between Senate Democrats and Republicans, but between a nation of women, most of whom know that Blasey Ford is telling the truth because we know the kind of courage it takes for a woman to come forward and tell her story.  I don’t believe that all men engage in the behavior that Kavanaugh demonstrated; I know plenty of men who are decent people drunk or sober.  I am willing to believe that Kavanaugh only did it once.  But I don’t excuse irresponsible teenage behavior that comes without regret and a willingness to change its ways.  My problem isn’t just the assault, it’s Kavanaugh’s unwillingness to be forthright about what happened.  

We are in a strange place as a nation, with a dishonest and dishonorable man in the White House, the leader of a party whose moral conscience is largely made up of cowardly jelly.  The Republican party can see its reckoning on the horizon.  When I bet against Kavanuagh’s confirmation, I never expected to win but it feels close and even if I lose my dollar and Kavanaugh is sworn into the Court, I have a powerful feeling that we are closing in on a reckoning that will change this nation forever.  I can already smell the hope and change coming our way.  

Monday, September 17, 2018

An Ode to Simple Pleasures

I am a regular reader of the Cup of Jo website and enjoy the sense of community that can be found in the comments section (that alone is rather a shocking notion, I think……but this is a site run by women with an audience of like-minded-women)  Last week, there was a post about the simple pleasures of life and readers were encouraged to list their own simple pleasures.

In the midst of the current political mess, my anxiety about the way forward, and assorted everyday worries, I do my best to keep positive.  These comments have been a lovely touch of found joy.  I’ve enjoyed it so much, that it seems silly not to share.  So here it is for you. 

Regular readers know that each month I change the “I love” list in the About Me section of this blog.  That list is an ever-changing collection of things that make me happy; my recent simple pleasures.  I started it many years ago as a reminder to find happiness where I can and it still functions that way for me.  I like a mindset that reminds me to find delight in my daily life.  That’s happy!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Throwback: Year 4

In some respects, it is like JT was born knowing he would be an only child.  His imagination was often his favorite companion and around the age of four he became the king of costumes, the better to aid his imagination.  That year, Santa brought him a pirate costume and he loved it at once.  Over the years, he had several more pirate costumes but this one started it all.  He was a proud pirate.  

Around the time that he received this costume we were driving to school when he announced, "as long as I have my brain, I'll never be bored, Mama."

“Yes, indeed,” I agreed.  He knew himself well at the age of 4.  In some of these pictures, he looks so very serious.  When they were first made, I imagined that I was seeing a glimpse into his grown-up face.  He was certainly determined to be a very serious pirate.

One with a sense of style, of course.  This first costume led to nearly a dozen other costumes and a boy who planned his Halloween celebration with the aid of his sewing grandmother and the precision of Eisenhower in advance of D-Day.  The costumes are long gone, though the boy with the imagination for a companion lives on, still comfortable for hours on his own.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September Front Porch

The porch got a wash for the start of the school year.  The sunflower flag is waving.

So far, September has been warm and so the indoor plants are still outside.  The shefflura keep me company when I sit in the rocker, which I try to do in the afternoon.  

The fuchsia hanging baskets are looking a little weary but there is a bloom or two left and so they will stay up for the month.

The table has a blue gingham cloth, plants, summer flowers, my wooden village and some lovely fairy lights to make me smile.  Though school has begun and I’ll be out here less than I would like, the porch is my happy place and it remains as welcoming as ever for September.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fall is in the Air

After some blistering and steamy heat last week, the weekend brought cooler weather.  Today is overcast and rainy; despite the green leaves and lawn, there is a hint of Fall in the air.

Soon, there will be leaves to bag and I’ll need to grab a sweater before I go outside.  I always enjoy the seasons and Fall is no exception.  Though I’m always sad to give up flip flops, cooler days and nights will be welcome.  I’m looking forward to Fall recipes (pumpkins! apples! butternut squash!), cardigan sweaters, sleeping with the windows open, and cozying up under a warm blanket.  

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Race Day: Smith College Invitational

On Friday afternoon, T and I made the trip north to watch JT run in the second race of the season, held at Smith College.  After a blistering hot week, the weather had cooled and the morning of the race was overcast with temps in the 60s.  The team was excited.

The start was its usual stampede.

The course was hilly and the team ran with a purpose, looking to send a message to some of the teams in their conference who were also present in the race.

JT ran well, shaving time off of his last performance and coming in 29:22.  It was a hilly course and he was especially pleased with how he ran.

His team did well; the women placed third and the men placed first.  T and I had fun and took him out for lunch after the race.  He talked a mile a minute about his classes and the team.  We drove back home pleased that he’s settled in so nicely.  

That’s happy!

Friday, September 07, 2018

Bulletin Board 2018-2019 School Year

I have a bulletin board in my office that is one part inspiration board and one part memory board.  Each August, I take the items off the board and then put up a new display.  All year long, I collect items for my bulletin board.  It’s a reflection of recent adventures, things I am or love and believe, and there are items that are there simply because I like the way that they look or the ideas they invoke.   There are always historical figures, flowers, and political buttons.  Last week, I put the new board together.  This week, I made some tweaks and now it’s complete.

I enjoy seeing it every day.  That’s happy!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Throwback: Year 3

JT and I both started school this week, me for my 17th year at RPS and him for his 1st year at Springfield College.  Below is a picture of JT’s first year at RPS, in the fall of 2003.  I remember the day like it was yesterday.  He was nervous and clutching his Ninja Turtles lunchbox, which had a ham sandwich, chips (that boy loved him some chips), fruit snacks, a granola bar, and a bottle of water.  He held tightly to my hand as we walked to class but when we entered the room, he was excited and stepped boldly forward throwing an “I love you Mama” over his shoulder as he let go of my hand.  At the end of the day, he climbed into his car seat and reported that the best part of school was playing outside.  Then he fell asleep.

The Ninja Turtle lunchbox is long gone and playing outside has been replaced by miles and miles of running outside.  He doesn’t hold my hand anymore but he still says “I Love you Mama” when he says goodbye.  To the world, he’s a young man but he’ll always be my little boy.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

First Days and Fresh Starts

Every year at the closing ceremony for the Middle School, I watch 8th graders and their parents smile as they celebrate the coming excitement of high school.  For the most part, this celebration is dry-eyed.  Middle schoolers are in the midst of a confusing transition and the few parents wrap up their child’s time in middle school with the wish to have those years back.  But I know how fast high school will pass and I cherish the tweens and teens in my care, even when the journey is difficult.

Today is the first day of class at my school.  JT also starts classes at Springfield College, where he’s been for the last two weeks enjoying Cross Country pre-season training.  For him, it’s the first day of his next academic journey.  I’ve had many first days of school but I still enjoy the tradition of a fresh start.  This year it comes with the reminder that time passes quickly.  I plan a year to make the most of it.  

That’s happy!