Monday, October 29, 2012

A Darkening Sky

The wind is a now constant now, a hum that is disconcerting.  It's complemented by strong gusts that rattle the windows and the trees.  While we still have electricity, JT is curled up in his playroom, watching Star Wars and playing on his iPad.  Child of mine that he is, he's got it plugged in to keep a constant charge.  The cats are keeping watch, curled up to watch shows recorded on the DVR (though "Call the Midwife" is hardly relaxing viewing).  We are in watching and waiting mode, with flashlights at the ready and fingers crossed.

An Ill Wind Blows

There's an old Mary-Chapin Carpenter song about being stuck in the northern cold while she wishes she were south in Louisiana where, she sings, "there's a hurricane party every time it blows."  I keep hearing that chorus in my head and then wondering about the hurricane party.  Around here, we're not having a party so much as an anxiety watch.

State workers have been instructed to stay home and New Jersey has shut down all of its public transportation.  Schools throughout the state are cancelled, including mine.  The whole of the Garden State is in a state of emergency.  We're all hunkered down in our homes, awaiting the inevitable.  

The storm is slow-moving and hasn't yet come ashore.  This morning, we are getting a pretty good preview of what's to come.  The wind gusts started last night and the air chilled.  As we slept, the wind picked up and the rain began.  Were it not for the alarmist forecast, I'd say this is just a cold, windy storm.  But in every gust of wind or unexpected creak of the house, you can hear a sense of menace.

On the other hand, I've laid in supplies and we still have electricity.  I took that as a promising sign and stirred together some homemade muffins for this morning's breakfast.  The forecast reports that conditions should start to improve by tomorrow night.  This morning, with the wind and rain whipping around us, that seems a long way away.    

Sunday, October 28, 2012

High Wind of Anxiety

The sun rises slowly on these fall days, and morning light doesn't seem very bright until  nearly 8 am.  In this morning's darkness, I should have pulled the quilt up high and settled down for another hour's sleep.  But I could hear the wind stirring the dry leaves.  Hurricane Sandy is gearing up  and the storm makes us all  restless, anxious for what's to come.

To my dismay, in the last year I seem to be getting rather experienced at the business of hurricane preparedness.   To that end, on Saturday afternoon we put all the outdoor items into the garage.  Grill, tables, chairs, benches, and assorted summer flower pots are now less likely to become hurricane projectiles. 
The storm track remains somewhat uncertain though New Jersey is awash in preparedness panic.  I got supplies on Friday night.  My flashlights are ready and I have non-perishable food and extra water on hand.  I've stored away some ice to keep a few items cool should the power go.  I don't want to say that I'm ready for the storm because that feels awfully daring and I hesitate to get into a bravery match with a hurricane.  No matter how prepared I am, I am never ready for a storm that might bring power outages, flooding, and property damage.

I will blog daily as long as I have electricity.  And I will hope mightily that this storm doesn't overwhelm us all.  Here's to propane stoves, warm blankets, bottled water, and crossed fingers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vocabulary with T: Chill in the Air edition

Those of you who have been forced to spend time in my company know that I like cool temperatures.  This is especially true come the winter, when I wish to wear sweaters without sweating and so insist on setting the furnace to a notably less-than-balmy 66.

T is not quite so cold-blooded and come the cool season can frequently be found sporting long underwear under her clothing.  And what kind of long underwear fabric does she like best?  Why, that would be polycrapylene, a space-age fiber made of things that don't occur organically.

I first heard her refer to something as made out of polycrapylene in reference to some water-resistant camping materials.  Since then, polycrapylene is virtually everywhere.  It's in your long johns.  It's what your rain coat and tent are made of.  It's likely been put to work in that water bottle you carry around.

And if you spend a lot of time at Sassafras House, it will keep you toasty warm.  Prepare accordingly.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Freshly Painted, chapter 5: Fairy Tale House

I couldn't be more happy with the completed paint job on Sassafras House.  Though I am admittedly biased, I think my home looks like a fairy tale house.
The siding color stayed the same, but the new coat of paint really freshened things up.  The color is Baltic Grey, complemented with Arctic White window trim.  The shutters and window sills were trimmed in blue.  It's a grayish shade of Benjamin Moore paint called Alfresco.  Here is the view from the west, looking at the study windows.
The previous trim was a cranberry red, which made the siding look on the brown side of grey.  The now sparkling white trim and the switch to the blue shutters makes the grey look crisper and clean, more on the blue side of grey.

And going from this powerwashed, unprimed siding: 

To this:
It makes a world of difference.  I especially love the clean and crisp front porch with its tidy posts and railings. 

The blue front door (sporting some Halloween decorations at the moment) welcomes us home each day.  That's happy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Your Weekly Dogwood: Week 8

Last week's two-for-the-price-of-one Weekly Dogwood found a tree about ready to start shedding its leaves.  So it can hardly be surprising that today's Weekly Dogwood finds a tree that has fully committed to that process.
Looks to me as if raking is about to be added to my list of weekend chores.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Live Blog, Round III

Everything I know tells me that foreign policy positions is not going to determine votes in this election. For one thing, American are woefully ignorant about foreign policy.  For another (and perhaps as explanation for the first), they don't care about foreign policy.  But I do care and later tonight I will offer up some live-blogging of the nonsense.

10:31 pm 
Near as I can tell, only parts of the world are Middle East and China.  Latin America, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, remainder of off the map.

10:25 pm
GM, again?  really.

10:15 pm
And now the China bashing portion of our evening. Sigh.

Romney: I will label China a "currency manipulator." Tough name calling, Governor.

10:12 pm
Looked like we might get to talk drones but then, no, Romney rejects Middle Eastern extremism. Hmmm, I had no idea we had trouble in the Middle East.

Obama will avoid the drones, too.

10:05 pm
Afghanistan......Romney says troops home by 2014.  Still have relations with Pakistan, though.  Because they have nucs and terrorists.  He's mostly right that Pakistan is the real issue.  But Americans have no freakin' clue what you're talking about pal.  Also, Obama is about to take credit for Afghanistan in 2014.

And he did.

Frankly, this whole situation deserves way more lip service than it's getting.  Sigh.

10:01 pm
Debate is now all over the place.  Obama just invoked bin Laden......nothing Mitt can do here.  President does get to take a victory lap on this one.

9:57 pm
Trips overseas.  Mittens says that Obama took an apology tour.  Obama now kicking some serious ass on this issue.  Also, I think he's kinda mad at you now Mittens.  And like it or not, he's the guy with nucs these days.  Just sayin'.

9:55 pm
Mittens has the most peculiar blinking pattern.  Kinda creeps me out.

9:53 pm
Iran.  No nucs for you, crazy Iranian mullahs.


Wait, did Romney just say that Iran has 10,000 centrifuges?  Really?  How does he know?

9:49 pm
Now they both have to swear fealty to Israel. Yawn.

9:44 pm
"Governor, this isn't Battleship." We have less naval ships than 1917.....and also, less horses and bayonets. Bring it, Mr. President.

9:38 pm
Now on the budget.  Bob? BOB? B-O-B?

Obama: Points out that Romney wants to spend 2 trillion on the military that the military isn't asking for.  Cha-ching.

9:34 pm
Hey, fellas, this is a foreign policy debate.

Bob, are you gonna redirect?

9:28 pm
Bob asks what is America's role on the world?

Mittens is all over.  Obama is more focused, with specifics.  Obama is schooling Romney.

9:27 pm
Romney connects economic weakness to national security after a throw-away "peace through strength" line. He's all over the place.

9:16 pm
Syria.  Which is, pun fully intended, a minefield.

Obama: Syrians must determine their own fate.  Situation is tricky.

Romney: Humanitarian disaster.  It's an opportunity for us because of the role Syria plays for Iran.  Seeing Syria remove Assad is a high priority, but we don't want to get drawn in to a military conflict.  Must arm our allies but not let those arms hurt us down the road. WTF?  Seriously, WTF?  He is scary on this question.

Hey Governor: Syria and Iran don't share a border and Syria isn't Iran's route to the sea.

What does Romney mean by "responsible party in charge"?

9:04 pm
Bob Schiefer is our host and this makes me cautiously optimistic.  I don't much like TV news, but I tolerate him, which is the highest praise I pay to TV news.  He goes straight to a question about Libya and the state of circumstances in the Middle East.

Romney goes first.  He's disorganized for his two minutes but by golly he knows the map of the Middle East.  And he opposes extremism in Iran. Blech.

Obama is more ordered.  Out of Afghanistan, kept Americas safe.  Clear timeline on Libya. Challenging Romney's knowledge and command of the issues; says he want foreign policy of 1980s. Going for the jugular here. Go-bama!

Romney: Attacking me is not an agenda.  Pretty good line.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


In my family, nicknames are king.  The sign that we truly embraced Luis Miguel were the nicknames we gave him.  T was especially adept at this and when she heard the baby called Baby-Think-it-Over, she offered up an alternative: Baby- Keep-it-in-Your-Pants.  Less subtle, certainly, though it does get the point across.

From there, she was on a roll, calling Luis Miguel Baby-Spews-A-Lot and then iBaby.  She assigned him an Indian name as well: Squallalottamie.  I called him Slugger, since I was convinced he was headed for Latin American baseball stardom.

Luis Miguel was unfazed by all of this, which is a good thing as you won't survive Sassafras House for long if you don't like your nicknames.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Luis Miguel

When Baby-Think-it-Over moved into our house, I was amused and slightly anxious.  He looked so innocent, but that electronic baby might very well be the devil.
After explaining to me that Spanish names sounded better, JT named his baby Luis Miguel.  I think that Latin American baseball players may have played a role in this decision.  When Luis Miguel settled in to a habit of eating every two hours, JT announced that he was raising a big hitter.

In fact, Luis Miguel behaved rather remarkably like a real baby.  He needed frequent attention and we had to sort out why he was crying.  The crying changed in tone when he recognized that a loved one was caring for him (there was electronic recognition from a bracelet JT wore).  Then JT had to sort out why he was upset - did he need a fresh diaper? was he hungry? did he wish to be burped?  did he just want to be held and rocked?  By the second day, JT was largely able to figure out what Luis Miguel needed.
Of much greater value, however, were the conversations that Luis Miguel generated.  We talked about what it's like to care for a baby, how big a responsibility it is, and how nice it feels to know what the baby needs.   He asked what it was like when he was a baby and he seemed genuinely surprised to discover just how much work was involved in caring for a newborn.  

With any luck he also learned that he's not ready to be a teenaged father.  Because I am not quite ready to be a Grand Mama.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Live Blogging the Debate

Okay, with the caveat that I don't think Obama blew the last debate so much as Romney wasn't a complete incompetent, I'm up for another round of live-blogging this nonsense.  And, yes, it is nonsense because a room filled with undecided voters is a room awash in nonsense.  For the love of God, who could possibly be undecided at this late date?

The misery fun starts in 5 minutes.

The worst part of any debate is that time when I must select which of the mainstream media to watch.  I'm going with MSNBC, but I will be pounding the mute button when Chris Matthews opens his gaping, unpleasant yaw.

In other news, this is funny.  Well played, DNC.  Well played.

10:00 pm
Obama is articulate, factual, engaging, competent.  Romney was defensive and deceptive on his tax plan, his view of birth control; demeaning about women in the workforce.  I'm satisfied.  What will the media think?

9:55 pm
Both men did well on the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately question.

9:45 pm
Romney has to identify his biggest difference from George W. Bush and say how he is different.  Energy independence.  Trade crack down on China.  Trade with Latin America.  Balanced budget. Champion small business.  Romney is rambling.

This is all malarkey.......Obama should explain that the recession meant government spending and that is why the debt is high.

9:43 pm
Obama says that birth control is a health issue and an economic issue for women.  Mittens?  He gets to dodge birth control completely then comes back to it and claims that he supports birth control access for women.  To which I say what Candy won't: you're a fucking liar.

9:38 pm
Finally a question about workplace income inequality for women.  And Obama mentions Lillie Ledbetter; first bill he signed into law. Bingo.

Governor?  Says he had some qualified women in his Cabinet in Massachusetts (he got 'em from a "binder full of women"...that's an unfortunate choice of words).  He favors flexible hours for mom.  Employers in the new economy will do this, he says.  When we have a strong economy, women will get good work.

Really, Candy, you'd better kick some ass on this one.

9:32 pm
Romney on the split-screen blinking furiously while Obama schools him on taxes.  Satisfying.

9:27 pm
Obama talks about the specific cuts he's made for small businesses and middle class folks.   Says 98% of Americans get no tax increase to deal with debt, but taxes go up for the top 2%, folks who make above 250K....he wants Clinton-era tax rates for those folks.

9:25 pm
A specific question about middle class tax credits......will Romney talk specifics about his plan? Not so far.

Romney: I will bring rates down for everyone.  I will eliminate credits and deductions for folks at the high end.  Says he may limit deductions to a total of $25,000 for big income.  He won't tax investments for people who make less than $200,000/ year.  Ahem, that ain't the middle class, Governor.

9:18 pm
The two are facing off and calling one another's liars.  This is a bit rocky; very combative.  Romney is implying he can lower the price of gas and that is a risky claim, as he must certainly well know.  Gas prices are determined by world markets and pumping oil here is a private business venture in the US; government can't tell them where to sell it.

Romney just said that Long Island had gas at less than $2 a gallon when Obama took office.  I live in this area, NJ has the lowest prices in the region, and I haven't paid under $3 for gas in the past 4 years.

9:11 pm
Stupid question about gas princes.  But Obama is explaining about how to create energy independence and lowering oil imports.  Romney is meandering though he says will get us energy independent.....more drilling, more permits and licenses, pipeline from Canada.

Candy asks if gas prices are at the new normal.  It's a good question.

9:06 pm
Obama wants to create good-paying jobs; build on the 5 million already created.  And he's got specifics: build manufacturing, tax incentives for those who create jobs here, help small businesses to export, build the best education system in the world, student loans, community colleges for re-training, control our own energy (solar, wind, bio-fuels), balanced reduction of deficits.

Obama home run.  Candy pushes back and asks for specifics.  Romney answers with, "I'll create 12 million jobs."  And then wonders all over the place talking about Detroit bankruptcy.   Obama hammers Romney for everything he's said thus far.  Does it in a folksy style but is still basically calling out, "liar, liar, pants on fire."

9:05 pm
Romney is going to make it easier for students to afford college.  He likes loans and Pell Grants.  And he wants kids to be able to get jobs.  But how, Governor?  HOW?

9:01 pm
What the fuck happened to Candy Crowley's hair?  I like Candy as much as I like any TV reporter.  But, seriously,  WTF?

Your Weekly Dogwood: Weeks 6 & 7

Last week's dogwood posting was delayed by the need for my laptop to spend some time in the shop.  That meant my photos were also in the shop.  Happily, the laptop is back in my custody (this is tantamount to getting my brain back) and I've a backlog of dogwood photos to share.  Fall is in full bloom around here and the dogwood was in on the action last week.

Leaves are beginning to accumulate in the backyard and the raking season is soon to be upon me.
Just a week later, the last of the tree's green leaves are now shaded red.

Old man tree is slower and commits to fall with greater deliberation.  But as this view from below demonstrates, those leaves are also headed for my rake soon enough.

We've been enjoying a really splendid autumn this year, with cool nights and sunny days and a lot of blue skied days.  The leaves around here are just getting ready to display their peak colors.  I'll be sorry to see it all come to an end and until then I plan to enjoy every last minute of the splendor.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Joe Biden Understands

I have long had a soft spot for Joe Biden.  It dates back to his days in the Senate and to the sympathies he always has for blue collar workers, for single moms, for folks just trying to get by and make life a little better for themselves and their children.  He seems to me a guy who loves his family, who knows that bad luck befalls us all, who believes that the best we can do when that happens is to pick up the pieces and move forward, however incrementally, no matter how hard that is.  He knows that we can - and should - help one another.

He comes by this knowledge the hard way, as a man who lost his first wife and a daughter in a car accident and found himself trying to be the only parent to his two young sons, while serving as Delaware's Senator and managing his own grief.  A few months ago, TPM writer David Kurtz wrote thoughtfully about that very event.  

So I watched last night's debate with a pretty strong bias, knowing that Joe Biden may sometimes be a little emotional, may sometimes be a bit of loose cannon, and sometimes the attack dog half of the Obama-Biden team.  Oh, Joe, we might say.  But folks, let's not lose sight of the reality on the table this November.  One of these men is going to be the Vice President; the person who takes over and leads this nation if the unthinkable happens.  For that reason alone, there is no question in my mind that Joe Biden should serve another four years as President Obama's Vice President.  Because Joe Biden is a man who truly knows what it means to do right.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Digitally Enhanced

I have been blogging here since 2006 and, as was the case when the project began,  I write for myself.  My blog is something of an on-line diary because I share (and have shared) some pretty personal details about my life.  I write about things that matter to me.  In that respect, this space is deeply personal.  I think that sometimes I overshare and I'm okay with that.  Sassafras Mama is my blog, it's about me.  I am the authority about those things.  I don't use this blog to make money and the value that I derive from the project is deeply personal.  Though it may not always be clear, there are some distinct boundaries to what I write here.

Some of those boundaries are matters of personal preference.  For example, I try not to attack people who aren't public personalities.  The careful reader will know that for at least a few years, that boundary was blurred on matters relating to my ex.  I've made occasional unkind references to my fellow New Jersey drivers, though never by name.  I rarely reference movie stars, because I don't really care about them.  Book characters are far more real to me and sometimes I've been critical of them or the author who created them.  And I pull no punches when it comes to elected officials, whose statements and actions are fair game for criticism because they are public officials.

Other boundaries are matters of decency.  I have posted pictures of people in my life, but never without the confidence that it's okay with them.  Children are never identified by anything other than their initials, as are most people I write about.    I do write about my job, and the sentiments I express in those posts are genuine and true.  But I am typically vague about specific school identity issues and I never post unkind comments about either the kids I teach or my  colleagues at work.  If I have any doubts about how a post related to my job will be received, I err on the side of caution and I don't post.

I regard my Twitter account as an extension of blogging me and mostly use it as a device for making smart-mouth comments.  There are some useful professionally-oriented Twitter communities out there and I sometimes follow their exchanges.  However, I almost never add my comment to those "conversations" because I don't typically consider Twitter a professional place for the real me, just a place where the digital me hangs out to be amused.

I post as myself on some of the political blogs that I read because I consider them to be professionally-oriented and I am a trained political scientist who is willing to own her ideas.  At blogs that I read for personal reasons, I post as Sassafras Mama.  I don't see anything contradictory or even confusing about this policy.  I see the lines as rather starkly drawn and I almost never have confusion about who I should be when I am in the digital world.

Even so, I've thought about these matters a great deal of late, because it seems like there is increasing pressure to merge our personal digital identify with our public digital identity.  I find the pressure distinctly uncomfortable because of its implication that a private identity is no longer an option in a 24/7 digital world.  I don't agree and not because I have any nefarious goals.  If a current or former student read my blog, it wouldn't matter to me.  My boss is welcome to wander over and read what I write.  I don't go out of my way to avoid such events, but neither do I encourage it.  I think there is room for a boundary between the digitally professional and the digitally personal.  I want one in my life.  But I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person who feels this way.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Programming Delay: Your Weekly Dogwood

This morning, I ventured out in the damp morning to faithfully snap pictures of my dogwood tree.  The fall leaves are lovely, I promise.  For now, you'll have to trust me on this as my laptop, the place where I download  my photos, has been sent to Apple for a little repair action.  I've got a loaner computer (rather like a rental car, that, as things aren't quite where I expect them to be) but no photo downloading ability.  This translates to no photo uploading ability.  Sigh.

I've every reason to believe that the problem will be fixed soon, at which point you'll get the dogwood you deserve.

Carry on.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Freshly Painted, chapter 4: Scraping and Priming

In the aftermath of the powerwash, the house looked pretty shabby.  But that was nothing compared to the scraping, which exposed a whole lot of bare siding.  Happily, scraping was so quickly followed by primer paint that I didn't have to worry much about the naked house.  Here are some views of the house, all primed up and ready for paint.

For the section off the back deck, I didn't even get to see the scraping and priming.  The work started early and by the time I came home after school, the first coat of paint and some of the trim had already been applied.
At some point last Saturday, the front and sides were changing over to the Baltic Grey color and the window trim work was in progress.  This picture of the front of the house shows a bit of a split personality as the work progressed.
It's been fun to track the progress of the changes unfolding at Sassafras House and we've enjoyed the process.  Well, everyone but Tiger and Lucy.  But that's a story for a another day.  

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Real Life Conversations with T: Call me Abuela edition

The backstory:  Thursday night, in preparation for the arrival of Baby Think-it-Over at Sassafras House, JT gave some real thought to what he would name his baby.  He announced that he likes Spanish names because of the way they sound and feel when you say them.  He made a rather extensive list of his favorites: Jose, Juan, Carlos, Luis, Miguel, Roberto, Santiago, and Francisco all made the list.  Then told me that some combination of them will be his baby's name.  I repeated the story to T, and she had a response.

T:  Is he running around with some Latino girl that we didn't know about?

Me:  Si.  Call me Abuela.

My grandson Luis Miguel is really quite charming, though I wish he'd sleep through the night like a decent baby.  

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Real Life Conversations with JT: Single Parenting edition

The backstory: In his Values & Choices class, JT is required to look after a baby (Baby Think it Over) for a few days, including bringing it home for the weekend.   The baby is computerized and he cries, needs to be fed and diapered, and otherwise interrupts your life like a real baby might do.  When the class first began, JT feared this was a joint project and he was worried about his co-parenting options.

JT:  If I don't choose the right partner for the baby project, I'll have to do it all the work on my own.

To my eternal credit, I didn't make the obvious caustic observation that I know damn well how he feels, having chosen unwisely and therefore ending up a single parent who does all the work on her own.  By golly, I wanted to say it, oh how I longed to be sassy.  But I'm an adult and I refrained.  Instead, I stuck to another script.

Mama:  I'll help you out son, and I wouldn't worry about it quite yet.

As it turns out, single parenting is the law when you take possession of Baby Think it Over.  He moved in to Sassafras House yesterday afternoon.  After some negotiation, JT did not name the baby Salmonella, as he originally proposed.  I think that's the start of some quality parenting.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Herding Cats

Some weeks just cry out for cute cat photos.  This is one of them.  Have a good weekend, Internet.  You've earned it.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Debate 1: The Expectations Game

Though it's painful to acknowledge, Mitt did just fine in last night's debate.  I don't think he hit it out of the ballpark, mind you, but he was competent.  The mainstream media conclusion is of the dramatic, "this changes everything" pronouncement, which I just didn't see.  However, President Obama was not at his finest.  He certainly should have gone on the attack more boldly and I have no idea why the president didn't push the 47% accusation.

The format was a flippin' mess.  Without a forceful moderator, both candidates could pull a dodge and weave.  In his conclusions, Romney bobbed up and down while making his points.  It was peculiar.  I don't think that Romney's facial expressions when Obama spoke did him any favors.  He continued to show his ability to rhetorically wander, though Obama wasn't able to take advantage of that.  I am also at a loss to understand why Obama didn't go after the Republican do-nothings in Congress, especially the House.  When Romney blathered on about his ability to compromise and work deals with the other party, why didn't Obama point out that GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell bragged that he wouldn't work with the president?  The president wasn't that inspirational and I think that he's got some serious prep work ahead if he wants to take command of the next debate.

We may see the race tighten from here.  The Obama folks certainly need to re-group and take care, especially as Crossroads GPS and other GOP Super Pacs gin up their efforts.  I don't think that the fundamentals have changed but this race isn't quite in the bag.  Yet.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Live Blogging the Debate

I've no idea how long I will be willing to live blog the debate since I expect most of this exchange to cause my head to spin and blow up.  For your added pleasure, I highly recommend that you organize the supplies to play Presidential Debate Bingo, provided for your edification over at Mother Jones.

Live Blogging starts when the debate begins.  I'd say may the best debater win, but frankly, I don't give a damn how good Mitt Romney sounds, I'm with Barack Obama. So let's be clear: may Barack Obama wipe the arena floor with Mittens.

10:10 pm
Time limits for presentations are gone, clearly.  And now Mittens is invoking Reagan. Platitudes and nonsense, that.  Mittens is all over the place.  I'm taking this operation upstairs and I'll drift off to sleep watching the disorganized mess that is debate number 1.  I'd better not have nightmares, you two.

10:06 pm
Would someone please ask Willard how he will pay for pre-existing coverage healthcare requirements? Or covering kids until they are 25?  And here comes the President to skewer Mitt on this question.

10:02 pm
Note to Mittens: No Republicans support healthcare reform, which is why none of them voted for it.

9:58 pm
Healthcare.  Willard just invoked the Massachusetts healthcare plan.....Tea Partiers are gonna be cranky.  And now Obama is citing the Obamacare advantages. Nicely done.

9:56 pm
In the smile contest, Obama kills it.  Mittens has a thin, mean smile.

9:50 pm
Will Willard get specific about what regulation is excessive?  Yes...Dodd Frank. Seriously, Dodd Frank didn't do nearly enough to regulate, pal.

9:48 pm
Romney's getting in the weeds on healthcare.  And that silly smile after he speaks doesn't help his cause.  Obama was a bit weak at the outset, but he seems to have hit his pace.

9:25 pm
Jim Lehrer has lost control. That ain't good.

9:17 pm
Mittens is getting worked up about whether or not he will reduce taxes for the rich.  He says that he won't.....and he will lower taxes for the middle class. I don't buy it.

9:15 pm
That split screen ain't helping Mittens.

9:04 pm
Shouldn't Jim Lehrer ask Congress if they will do anything to create jobs? Because that's who needs to do something.  I guess that tonight we can pretend otherwise, but that ain't gonna light a fire under Congress.  Obama did fine with his usual list of specifics.  Mittens is also offering specifics, which is a change.....started off strong but lost the trail of thought at the end.

9:00 pm
Look here, Mittens, let's get this started on time.  It's not like I don't have some laundry to fold.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Your Weekly Dogwood: Week 5

October has started and it seems clear that cooler nights are inclined to stick around, though cool nights  for at least a few days this week may just mean temps in the 60s.  Even so, that's good news for trees in the business of shedding their summer coat.
The dogwood is now fully invested in impressing me with its color changes, determined even to outshine the evolving paint job on my house in its bid for my admiration.  

Monday, October 01, 2012

Back to School Workout

No matter how much I prepare in advance, the month of September is exhausting.  Though I'm excited to be back in school, the return to our regularly scheduled programming makes me weary.  Gone are relaxed wake-ups, morning workouts, hours to read, afternoons to cook, and endless time for laundry and gardening.   They are replaced by scheduled mornings, busy days with lessons to teach and papers to grade, athletic practices, supper to get on the table, and laundry, laundry, laundry.  By the time I settle into bed with a book, I'm lucky to read five pages before my eyes close and I drop the book on my face.

Nowhere do I feel the transition as much as in my daily workout.  In the summer, I head to the gym in the morning, usually after a leisurely breakfast and enough coffee to face the day.  I run on the elliptical for as long as I want and then come home for a relaxing shower.  The workout leaves me feeling pleasantly tired but still energized for the rest of the day.  Once I return to work, the schedule is dramatically altered.  Workouts happen after school and nearly always with an eye on the clock because there are still a host of chores to complete before bedtime.  Plus, instead of climbing on a machine with fresh legs, I'm climbing on after being on my feet for most of the last 8 hours.  By the second week of school, I'm so tired by 9 pm that I'm convinced that something is dreadfully wrong.  I head to Dr. Google, prepared to diagnose myself with some immediately terminal condition.

Then I realize I just have Back-to-School-itus, a condition that will start to cure itself by mid-October, when I hit my pace.  Workouts are both a help and a hindrance during this time.  They help by serving as daily stress relief and relaxation and by keeping me strong for the long run.  But my tendency to overdo it (of course I can teach all day and then run five miles this afternoon) can overload my circuits and then the workout is exhausting instead of exhilarating.  This fall, I was determined to set reasonable expectations and a responsible pace for my back-to-school adjustment.  I didn't work out three afternoons in a row and I went easier on myself when exhaustion rolled over me.  I took Friday afternoons off no mater what.  As a consequence, I face the fourth week of school without the need to self-diagnose my exhaustion.

I think this sort of self-awareness is called being a grown-up.