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Sunday, January 29, 2017

I will not sit down and be quiet

Chicago Women's March 1/21/17 photo by PHermes

So taking part in the Women's March in Chicago last week was big for me. I have some strong opinions, but have never actually taken part in a political protest before. In fact, before the 2016 election, (my 9th Presidential) I'd only ever been to one political rally. In 1992, when Bill Clinton came to Boston, my former husband was interested in going, so I went along.

This year was different. No longer married, I had no partner to spur me on, nor to dissuade me. None of my friends invited me to join them. In fact, none of my friends were able to join me when I invited them. Not to the Bernie Sanders event, not to support Tammy Duckworth's Senate campaign, and finally, the Women's March. I went alone.

I'm a writer, not a doer. An introvert who would rather stay home and read than do just about anything. This is way outside my comfort zone. But to do nothing makes me even more uncomfortable.

So I got off the couch. I joined the crowds of women and not a few men on the early train into Chicago on a Saturday morning. The mood was uplifting. The conductors seemed especially friendly and helpful. They seemed to take a special joy in their work that day, in support of our cause.

Smiles and comraderie abounded in my fellow travellers and I was adopted into a few different groups along the way. The press of the crowds in the city made staying together an exercise in futility, so I let my new friends slip away and turned around to make more new friends. The feeling of "we're in this together" was strong. There were a few angry anti-Trump chants, the occasional profanity-laced sign, but the overwhelming vibe was that of positivity. A lot of humor, a lot of solidarity among the ages, from strollers to great-grandmas.

Chicago Women's March 1/21/17 photo by PHermes

We're all in this together. A little incredulous, as seen in the signs of "I can't believe I still have to protest this shit." We've been shocked out of our complacency. Yes, I am incredulous that a bunch of men still think it's their role in society to control women's choices by legislation. Not sure what to think about the so-called democratic process that put a madman in the White House, but it sure got my attention.

And now I've had a week to process the events, amid the daily onslaught of executive orders coming from said madman. And a few days sick in bed to hide away from the news. Nothing's changed, and there's much work to do.

If you're comfortable with the madman in the White House, then sit back and enjoy the ride. I'm not, and I most certainly will not sit down and shut up, no matter how nicely you ask. This is our new reality and we all have to deal with all of it.

Chicago Women's March 1/21/17 photo by PHermes

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sick Days

It's rare for me to get sick. Until The Pumpkin started high school this fall, it was rare for anyone in this household to get sick. But after homeschooling his entire life, he joined older brother by jumping right into the pool of viruses that live in a school of nearly 3000 students (plus faculty and staff). He struggles mightily to fight them off, but some are just too much and he ends up taking many trips to the nurse's office, and staying home more often than either of us wants.

So now it's my turn to join him in his misery. Bleh. 24-48 hours of Bleh deserves some mindless channel surfing. But I don't have cable, just an antenna for free broadcast tv. It's fine when I want to watch a specific show, but pretty limited for channel surfing. I end up flipping from one negative political ad to another. It's not helping my headache.

"Negative ad" is really just a euphemism for outright lies and blatant distortions of the truth to influence your vote. Just another use of mass media to hack away at what's left of democracy. It's not about electing the best candidate for the job at all. Only taking sides, and promoting one set of ideas over all others, and winning. And shouting down truth-tellers so that voters only hear the stories that will promote the status quo.

When I think about all the voters who don't get their information anywhere else, it's no wonder our government always seems to be a mess. Who could work with any of these characters portrayed on tv?

It's no wonder so many people feel depressed this time of year. You feel like your vote doesn't count, like your opinion doesn't count, and your way of life doesn't count, unless you have enough money to donate to the right causes and the right candidates. And all the screaming about the end of the world if the wrong candidate should actually win.

But every year, every "day-after-election-day", life goes on. Those who did not win their race pick up the pieces and get back to business. The rest of us breathe a sigh of relief as the commercials go back to hawking prescription drugs for what ails us.

Good thing there's still radio stations that play music.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

School sucks

This homework is gonna be the death of me.

Wait, let's address the elephant in the room. Yes, it's been two years and some months since the last post, a rather pleasant suzy-homemaker post about homemade english muffins. Shortly before the shit hit the fan and the world came crashing down around me. So it took awhile for me to pick up the pieces and put some of them back together in a way that may or may not work. But I'm trying, making it work for what's left, making something new out of the mess that was. So now ...

back to the goddamned never-ending homework.

Homeschooling was never this much work. I rarely stayed up past my bedtime for any school-related assignments. If the boys had to stay up late to finish something, well, then they got to sleep in the next day. We Did NOT Lose Sleep for School!!!!

But now the almighty Algebra regularly keeps me up at night. English essays are worth losing sleep over? Yet another Packet for (this is ridiculous) PE. Yup, even PE assigns homework and tests. Because public school has to suck the life out of every single student, every single hour of every single day.

Back when my oldest was a freshman, he quietly did his homework until ... he didn't. Just stopped. For three years. Pretty much until he found classes, and teachers, who realized that overwhelming the students with tons of homework doesn't accomplish anything.

Now, the freshman of the hour regularly falls asleep while in the midst of his piles of homework. I can't help but wonder exactly who thinks this is making him into a better student? And to top it all off, the sleepy one has become quite clumsy and accident prone as well (but nobody thinks it has anything to do with a lack of sleep).

I'm a firm believer in natural consequences. So what shall they be for the perpetrators of our torture? Too tired to come up with anything good right now. But later, after coffee ...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

English muffins

I like to bake bread. Not just plain old white bread, which I have been forced to use my bread machine for this winter because my kitchen has been too cold for anything to rise. But lots of breads, in different shapes and sizes. Yeast is my friend (except when the kitchen is too cold!), and kneading is good for the soul.  And I don't shy away from trying something new.

So yeah, I went there. This recipe has been taunting me as long as I've had this cookbook. It was a gift at my wedding shower, so that tells you how long I've been thinking about this. But who makes their own english muffins? When you have Thomas' sitting on the shelf at the grocery store, so easy.

The recipe itself is pretty basic. Milk, yeast, salt, sugar, some shortening, and then throw in the flour. It's a sticky dough, so go ahead and throw in some more flour. Then let it rise. Throw in some more flour and let it rise again. Cut out your circles, and yes, let them rise again.

That's three times, rising. And if you think you've just spent all morning making your english muffins, then wait, there's more ...

Cook them on the griddle, on the stove top. Since my griddle basically holds four, at 15 minutes per side (my gas stove actually cooked them in 12, but still), a whole batch of these will take not only all morning, but definitely past lunch time.

These are my first four. Yep, I already ate two, I was hungry.

After cooking on the grill, then cooling, then gently splitting them with a fork (yes, you really do split them with a fork, it works), and then toasting them in the toaster ... butter melting into the nooks and crannies ... yum, yum ...

My kids, both of them, just shrugged their shoulders. Nope, nobody wanted to even try one.

So I still have a dozen or so left. All to myself. Once I finish grilling them all. And since I technically did not shell out any money for these, all the ingredients are always in my pantry, I consider them to be free. Time consuming, but still free. And free is good.

So that's how I spend a carefree Saturday morning - into-afternoon. Oh, and they taste good, too. I'd say just as good as the store bought ones, but since there's nothing I can't pronounce in the ingredients, they're definitely better. And free, did I say free?

Monday, January 06, 2014

How cold is it?

After being snowed in all weekend, now we're "cold- in". All the snow that was blowing around for the last couple of days has turned into giant blocks of ice.

I had to explain to my boys that they have NEVER IN THEIR LIFETIMES seen it this cold. And hopefully, we will never see this again, because when they grow up I will retire to someplace warmer, and with less snow.

We used to have a saying around here, "too cold to snow". Because when it gets anywhere near this cold, it usually is too dry for snow to even form, let alone make it to the ground. So the worst of winter in the Midwest is usually pretty dry, and driveable. But nooooooo ... old man winter had to go and give us both. Record-breaking, death-bringing cold on top of a couple of days of blizzard conditions and oh, a bunch of snow to try and shovel out of the way so we can get on with our daily activities.

No daily activities here.

I did get my car started. And I did get out to see that sometimes, even the experts at road clearing can be overcome in the face of the deepest depths of cold.

So back inside I go, thankful that we only have a few days of this, instead of weeks, or months. Thankful I have working heat and hot water, that my pipes haven't frozen (yet!), and that I have the right winter gear if I should need to go back out, for any reason. Thankful we are warm.

Friday, October 04, 2013

This boot was not made for walkin'

It's been a week.

A week of sitting on my butt. Should be relaxing, don't ya think? I've got my 'puter, my phone (unless someone walks off with it and forgets to bring it back), my tablet, an assortment of books and notebooks (but never a pen where I can reach it!) and the TV remote, some of the time. And even a cup of coffee, most of the time. Sounds like a mother's dream.

Or a nightmare.

But really, more like a HUGE inconvenience. I guess I'm not the lazy slob I thought I was. I really do prefer the house to be reasonably neat and clean, and I guess I really do prefer to do it myself, rather than sit around all day asking the almost-teenager to do it. Even though he needs the practice.

Because I am BORED! I can't believe the crap they put on TV, my selection of books fails to interest me (since I seem to fall asleep after only a few minutes of reading) and one can only spend so much time on Facebook before going absolutely insane. I'm getting close. And where's my pen?!

So four more weeks of this boot cast. I'm told I'll get used to it, like anyone can get used to walking around with one leg 4 inches shorter than the other. That would be difficult for a normal person, but with my history of falling off a sidewalk curb while wearing athletic shoes, the odds are not in my favor.

That's what I did, really and truly. Fell. Off the curb. And broke my foot (proof that if you take enough x-rays, the dr will find the teeny tiny fracture that's causing inordinate amounts of pain and swelling and a gorgeous shade of purple). And sprained my wrist/thumb. And bruised my knee (more purple, my favorite color). Forgot to tuck and roll.

At least I didn't bump my head. This time.

So, I've got to have a challenge to my day, but this is ridiculous. And I need to exercise. Hobbling around Target does not count.

Must. Walk. The Dog.

Time for meds. If it doesn't rain I may just attempt grocery shopping. Maybe I'll get to drive one of those scooters around and terrorize other shoppers.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

It all happened so quickly ...

I still love the heat. Nothing better than a hot summer day, I say. So on any hot summer afternoon, you can find me outside, enjoying the weather, maybe playing with my dog.

And that's what we were doing yesterday ... afternoon, maybe eveningish (that is so a word!). The sky was cloudy, maybe darkening a little. But that was in the east, and the sun was setting in the west, so that made sense, at the time. I wasn't expecting any storms, and if I was I'd be looking southwest, as that is where most of them come from. But not east, definitely not east. Not from the front yard.

But the sky continued to darken. Then the wind picked up. The neighbor's tree, on my right, nearly bent over, and suddenly the table umbrella, behind me, started to rise and float away. It took a moment for that to register, that my 9-foot umbrella was actually floating up and away from the table stand, before I grabbed it and proceeded to wrestle it to the ground, trying to fold it in as I brought it down, looking for my little toto-ish dog running around (hopefully not floating away!) so as not to bury him under it.

Yeah, that's what I did. I wrestled a 9-foot umbrella in the wind. Where's the video camera when you need one?

I paused and looked at the clouds. They fascinate me, how beautiful and mysterious, floating and swirling in the sky. One in particular, off to the east, intrigued me for a moment. Long and sinewy, stretching out of the sky, swirling and coming toward me and OHSHITGETINTHEHOUSE!!!

For some people, it takes a flash of lightning, a sudden downpour, or even the emergency siren to get them to stop appreciating the beauty of a coming storm and take shelter. A funnel cloud works for me.

Almost as soon as I got in the house and ran to a front window where I could see from a sheltered distance, the cloud was being swallowed up into the sky. Gone. As fast as it came, it went. No harm done.

(photo by Brandy Carrelli, )