Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sweet Tea

I know for sure that spring weather has arrived when I get out both pitchers and have a batch of sweet tea to go with the regular house wine of iced tea.  Last Sunday was warm and I got my fingers dirty in the garden.  Then I came inside and enjoyed a nice glass of sweet tea.
 Howdy, Spring.  I hope you stay for a spell.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


The year that JT was born, I took to buying a bouquet of daffodils when I went to the grocery store each week.  There I'd be, with my fresh babine and some fresh flowers to see us through another chaotic week of new babyness.  Since that year, I've not looked at daffodils the same.  For the last few years, I've planted some daffodil bulbs each fall, in anticipation of a lovely spring display.  One day, I hope to have a front yard daffodil display worthy enough to cause folks to pause when they drive by my house.  I'm not there yet, but I had enough this year to cut a few for the Easter supper table.  
 They remind me of the fresh promise of new life and a love so great it astounds me even today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Supper

My friend S and her son D joined JT and me for Easter supper.  I made some familiar favorites and the food was delicious, though I say it myself.
But the real pleasure of the evening was the company of good friends and plenty of laughter.  For that blessing, JT and I are incredibly grateful.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Cast of Fairy Godmothers

 When my car was in the shop last week, I asked for (and received!) loads of help.  Much to my surprise, my admission that I need help did not cause the earth to stop rotating on its axis .  To thank my cast of supporters, I hit the kitchen and got to work on a batch of brownie bites, to be distributed as a thank you to my fairy godmothers.
Thanks, y'all!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hoppy Easter!

JT's away for the weekend, so we organized our Easter celebration for Friday morning.  It featured the usual cast of characters.  There was an Easter basket with a large chocolate bunny.
And some other happy treats that the Bunny knew a boy would find delightful.
In the backyard, there were plastic eggs filled with candy to be found.
And a lovely pink tulip.
JT was a fervid searcher. 
And he enjoyed a sample of the harvest.
Then we had some French Toast and blackberries for our spring breakfast.
It was a lovely morning and we hope that y'all have the same.  Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Secret

I have a student who comes to school on dress down days with the whitest sneakers I have ever seen.  They are amazingly clean and always induce a comment or two from me.  Mostly, I just want to know how he keeps them so clean and so white.  I'm convinced there's a cleaning secret involved and I want in on the action.  But Student T isn't talking.

Friday was a dress down day and I saw the sneakers in the morning, all white and lovely.  And secretive. T wasn't revealing how he keeps them this way.   Then, in the afternoon I saw Student T playing ball on the grass in the quad.  The white shoes were carefully removed, sitting on the sidewalk in their clean splendor.  Student T was playing in his now very grass-stained socks. 

The secret is now revealed.  I wonder what his mama has to say about those socks?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tulip Wednesday

I've spent the better part of the last few days fretting about my car, sequestered as it is in the mechanic's shop while I begged rides off of my very kind-hearted friends.  My spare time was devoted to worrying about the water which arrived in the basement when 4 inches of rain fell in less than 12 hours.  Add to that my usual anxieties and 3 days without working out and I think you get the picture: Crazy, party of 1.

This afternoon, the mechanic finally figured out the problem. The car will be fixed and ready tomorrow.  Soon after that, the sun came out (it may be coincidence, but I'll take it).  Supper was served in the sunshine on the warm back deck.  The bulbs in my shaded front yard got in on the happy warmth and the result is a lovely mid-week treat of blooming daffodil loveliness.
The hostas are joining in.
And the tulips are coming along nicely.
Ahhhh, spring.  You always manage to be well worth the wait.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Maintaining Standards

My car is in the shop ----- I'm working on day two of an undiagnosed car problem ---- and I'm not amused.

As it turns out, it's not just day two of no driving privileges, it's day two of not being able to go to the gym, which messes with the well-oiled machine of sanity maintenance I've got going around here.  What I really wanted when I got home today was a rather generous serving of an adult beverage.  But I'm out of whiskey, my preferred lubricant, and I'll be damned if I was going to walk to the liquor store and carry my plain paper bag home.

As it turns out, I'm just not that pathetic.  Which is to say that I have standards, low though they are.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Faking It 'til I Make It

I had a few rough days last week and at one point I sat down and wrote about how tired I am of doing it all alone.  I debated putting it up on my blog, where I usually vent these feelings, and then decided that everyone is by now tired of my whining about my solitary existence.  Plus, for all the frustrations in my life, I know that I am blessed.  Things seemed a little brighter the next morning.  The post never went up.

In short order, over the next five days, my car started misbehaving (necessitating a trip to the mechanic and a need to request rides to get to and from work) and then the basement got rather wet, thanks to 4 inches of rain which fell in 12 short hours. 

I'll deal with both of these developments (I'm dealing with them today).  Part of me suspects that the Universe is just showing me that even my reserves have reserves.  It helps that I got some rest this weekend, hit the local Latino grocery and planned a week of Mexican food to cook, and that my boy is a trooper.  Plus, I have to put a good spin on this mess or I really will take to my bed and give up.

But, honestly, Senora Universe, how about I distract you with a tostada and you play nice for a few days?

Saturday, April 16, 2011


When I was selecting the new sofa and mentioned a need for something sturdy and durable, it was incidents like this that I had in mind.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Take Exception

Amongst the most spectacularly ridiculous claims the modern GOP has chosen to make about progressive politics is the fact that we liberals can't agree with them about American exceptionalism.

I'm a history teacher, and so I know a bit about this claim of exceptionalism.  In a nutshell, the notion of American exceptionalism is the claim that the American nation, the ideas which generated our revolution, and those that govern our institutions (looking at you, Constitution), are exceptional.  As in better than any other idea every conceived, evidence that God loves us best, and proof that we should run the world.

If that sounds ridiculous to you, that's because it is ridiculous

I'd be the first person to suggest that the promise of the American Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution ---- one of a nation conceived in the notion that all people are created equal --- is pretty terrific.  Exceptional, even.  But when the rubber hit the road here in the USA, circa 1776, quite a few people got left out of the rights and liberties parade.  Slaves, for one.  Lots of other people of varying colors and cultural traditions had some trouble (nativism, anyone?).  And then there were women, who may have been citizens but who couldn't vote or otherwise participate in American political decisions.  I believe this is called taxation without representation.

So it is that Martin Luther King will patiently organize thousands of people to ask the American government and the American society to deliver on the promissory note of freedom.  And President Johnson and Congress deliver, in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  By then, women had been voting for more than 40 years.  And the revolution was 190 years old.  Which is to say it took us nearly 200 years to actually agree that the promise of liberty and political equality could be guaranteed for us all.

That isn't hypocrisy on the part of our nation as much as it is the long arc of justice taking its sweet time to make the journey.  Yes, the power of the American promise is great.  And I presume that y'all will excuse me for getting a little teary-eyed when my students and I read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  I believe in these ideas.  But I'm not a fool and I can see with my own eyes the fact that we didn't always live up to our promises.  We don't always live up to them now, in 2011.  But we are trying.

In that, we are human.  So I take exception to the claim of American exceptionalism.  It's too simplistic to accurately characterize the sacrifices made on behalf of these ideals.  It conveniently forgets the folks for whom the promise went unfulfilled for generations.   I want to live in a nation that delivers on that promise of political equality by providing education and health security to us all.  I want to live amongst people who look out for one another, who the do the right thing (even if no one is watching), who believe in something bigger than themselves.

My guess is that living that way might very well make us a good society and nation; a place where opportunities and freedoms belong to us all and we make the world better because of it.  That's the sort of exceptionalism to which I aspire.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tulip Wednesday

The tulips are a bit wet and cold today.  Frankly, they're somewhat confused.  On Monday, we had a lovely day.  So lovely, that JT and I fired up the grill and ate our supper outdoors on the back deck, wiggling our toes in the warmth.
It was standard summer fare around here.
And it was lovely.  But temperatures fell all day Tuesday.  Today is rainy and cold. 
Spring is a difficult, moody creature.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Over the weekend, my classroom was added to a giant system which now allows the maintenance department to control the thermostat in my room.  For those of you playing along at home, that means that I am no longer in control of my classroom temperature, a fate worse then death as far as I am concerned.

Death, of course, would at least mean a colder temperature.  And that is the issue for me.  For years, it's been a point of personal pride that I never turn on the heat in my classroom.  For starters, I run to the warm to begin with and once I start moving around and teaching, I really want the room to stay cool.  No one wants to see me sweat, you know?.  Add to that a dozen over-heated teenage bodies and you've got a recipe for disaster.  Or warm, funky smells, which in my book is the same thing.  So, I like it cold, where fear of hypothermia keeps us all alert and reduces the unfragrant nature of life together. 

Today, I arrived to my classroom and discovered that the heat was on.  I was wearing short-sleeves.  I don't know who the master controller is, but I will find out.  The master controller, of course, will also come to know me as a cranky, cold-hearted bitch.

Why?  Because it's true.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Inexplicable Skill Set

As a parent, there are any number of occasions when I am required to answer questions.  Some make sense, even if they are difficult to answer.  I've explained how babies are born, what sex is, why Viagra is necessary, the uses of deodorant.  I've attempted to explain things about the world that I still find inexplicable: homelessness, poverty among children, the cost of healthcare, the difference between a curveball and a knuckleball.  Over and over, especially when someone has angered or disappointed him, JT and I have discussed the Golden Rule, the one moral code I try to live by……..Really, the list here is endless.

And then there are the questions where the answer is obvious: No, I don't want to hear you burp; I don't want to smell that fart; neither do I wish to smell your armpits; and I have no need to inspect the lint you've just extracted from your belly button.  Even so, I will admit that I did pause on Tuesday evening when JT asked, "Mama, do you want to watch me scratch my booty like a monkey?"

I was a little tempted to say yes because it's not a skill I've seen often.  But I demurred, knowing that this was the just the tip of the iceberg.  If I'd said yes, it would only be a matter of time before I was invited to knit the fuzz between his toes into a sweater or some other ridiculous notion.  And, hard though it is to believe, I do have standards.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Full Stop

Will they or won't they shut down the government tonight?  This last week, as Congress has done its level best to drive the ship of state right over the cliff, I've grown more and more frustrated by the hype and pomp of the whole mess.  Congress has a job: agree on a budget.  They should do it. 

I object strenuously to the patently ridiculous Tea Party claim that if we don't cut spending now the end is nigh.  If I hear one more elected official speak about the future of endless debt we are leaving our children, I will hurl.  Or reach through my radio and wring some necks. 

While we should certainly consider long-term fiscal solvency in this nation, it's not really that complicated.  And the real facts on the ground tell us that right now 25% of our children are living in poverty and are skipping meals.  I could be wrong, but I'm guessing these kids could give a damn about the debt.  They'd like decent health care, a safe place to live, good schools, and some nutritious food to eat.   

It also rankles me that Republicans will only consent to spending cuts to the 12% of the budget that serves the needy.  These social programs, though never generous to begin with, do keep some of our poor and frail citizens from falling deeply into the abyss.  And don't get me started on the GOP's continued insistence on historically low tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.  Or the raft of riders on issues like support for family planning and other matters unrelated to the budget task at hand.  The rich get richer while Congressional Republicans proceed to cut programs to ensure that all children are vaccinated.

Well played, GOP.

It's not that Democrats are exempt from blame.  Years of cowardly unwillingness to patiently explain how government is good and why it serves our community interests have left Democrats unable to defend the programs they believe in.  And so Republicans run rough-shod over our ability to govern ourselves at all, let alone do it well.

If the government is shut down tonight it will cost us millions of extra dollars, not to mention demonstrate to the rest of the world that our proud democracy is ridiculously unable to compromise and work together for the common good.  We elected members of Congress to govern and damn it, that's what they should do.

Full stop.

Update: So we have a budget, one with some big cuts, and now we'll all just have to hope this doesn't slow down (or stall) the recovery, which I fear it will.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Tulip Wednesday (on Thursday!)

So, yeah, I'm totally late with the Tulip Wednesday picture.  There hasn't exactly been a storm of protest from the Internet world, but I like to hold to some standard, half-assed though it is.  So, with no further ado, here's the tulips circa April 6, 2011.
It's all coming along nicely.  Yesterday's clouds finally yielded us some sun toward sunset tonight, which gives a girl cause for hope.  Maybe tomorrow we'll have sun?  I'm not above begging if that's what it will take, Mother Nature.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Real Life Conversations at School: Car Trouble edition

The backstory:  I teach 11th & 12th graders, many of whom are recently licensed drivers who have cars.    Some of them have very nice cars.   Some don't.  And they are all car crazy.  One of the students (who happens to have a very nice car) had some bad luck, catching his bumper on the curb and pulling it off.  This caused some chatter in class, as the students were reviewing the incident.

Student T:  That's the beauty of the durable and stylish 1996 Toyota Camry. 

Me:  Yeah?  Its bumper can't be pulled off when you screw up while parking? 

Student T:  Probably, but if the bumper comes off the car is now worth $100 bucks less.  Who cares?  It will still drive forever.

It's important to have perspective.

Monday, April 04, 2011

April Fool

Throughout the weekend, JT kept trying out April Fools jokes.  Never mind that his weren't funny or that the day had passed.....the kid was going to keep at it until someone lost her cool.  I'm generally a fan of clever jokes and generally opposed to stupid one, a face seemingly lost on my 11 year old.  Perhaps I should point him in the direction of this summary of a few product gags that were awfully clever.

I'm pretty sure we have that Playmobil toy in our playroom at Sassafras House.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Real Life Observations of JT

We watch a lot of sports and ESPN at our house and, as a consequence, JT has seen a fair share of Viagra and Cialis adverts. I'm a full information mama and so he knows what the product promises but, at the age of 11, he finds it inexplicable. I guess that he just can't imagine having this problem (or caring about it if he did). 

The opening of the baseball season meant even more sports on TV and JT caught an advert showing dads taking their kids to Little League games, using cars equipped with (reliable!) Goodyear tires.  He looked at the images and then turned to me and said, "those men look like the kind of guys who need Viagra."

I fell out laughing.  Advertisers beware.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Real Life Conversations with JT: Homework sucks edition

The backstory:   We were working on hour number two of math homework (and don't get me started on that subject).  Tempers were frayed, to say the least.  JT took this opportunity to express his contempt for the assignment, using more profanity per square inch then even I am accustomed to hearing.

Mama:  Honestly, JT, I don't enjoy that language coming from you.

JT:  Well, honestly Mama, I don't enjoy this homework.  So I guess we're both kind of screwed.

He nailed that one on the head.

Friday, April 01, 2011

April 1st: Clematis Vine

We had some warmish weather in mid-March but as soon as the calendar proclaimed Spring, Winter turned vengeful and refused to give up the ship.  This morning, we've got cold rain and a forecast high of 45 degrees.  Not exactly hanging-out-in-the-backyard weather.   While I wish it was an April Fool's joke, it's not.  So the clematis vine, like the rest of Spring's finery, is in a bit of a holding pattern.  I suspect that the clematis is a tad more patient than me.  I've always said that the value of a garden is in the teaching of patience, a skill that I've yet to master. 
 This spring I'm getting another chance to contemplate the art of being patient.