photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Well...We Survived Another One...

I could wax all emotional about the end of this year and the beginning of a new one, but I'm still a little woozy from the stomach virus we all had this week, so I'll just forego the syrupy stuff.

2011 didn't suck.

I'll refer you back to our annual Holiday Letter if you care for the details.

It didn't suck and in many ways it was fabulous and the beginning of many new beginnings for me and my family- new home(s) being the most obvious and outstanding.

On the last day of 2011, therefore, I'm left with no major regrets, nothing I'd wished done not accomplished (except that 9 pounds I've been trying to lose since 1986) and resolve only to be aware of and respect Time and Place at all times and in all places.

I resolve to take, to MAKE the time for actual writing- this counts, but to devote more to and getting CancerDance updated and ready to roll to the editor (I'm not kidding, Alexa- this time for real). I love Facebook, shit, I get most of my news from family, friends, local, nation and world from everything pouring onto my wall every day, but...yanno.

I resolve to take, to MAKE the time to finish and/or start AND finish projects around here, many of them things we already have the parts and pieces for, so no need to plead "dearth of funding".

I resolve to take, to MAKE the time for catching up on projects at work- things that will need to be done to keep our business running smoothly this next lumpy economic year, for I AM the "mom" there and my attitude affects my employees just as it does my family at home.

I resolve most of all to take, to MAKE the time for my precious family- each and every one of them. To never ever forget, even when they're being difficult- ESPECIALLY when they're being difficult- that 100% of the time their "bad attitude" is a reflection of my own- something I think and type and read over and over and over again and it still doesn't sink into my hard stubborn petty bullhead and I reflexively snap, and snarl, and my defensive shit-shield flies up like one of those frilled lizards on a National Geographic special. If any member of my family seems "off" it's me, not them.

I resolve to always be aware of Place-

If I'm home, to love those around me above all else- even the computer.
If I'm at work, to think of work above all else- and then go one step further than I need to.
If I'm in the car, to think about driving- and leave the goddamn phone in my purse.

I resolve to Show Up-

To be more physically active outside on our property tending this speck of the planet we call "ours" for less than a blink of Mother Nature's eye.

And more physically active outside our property learning and sharing and DOING something for the causes I feel so strongly about- the first step of any change is just Showing the Hell Up.

Tomorrow starts 2012.

According to the Mayan calendar, this is it. The end of an Age.

If we all show the hell up it can be the beginning of a better one. For all of us.

I have people I love on this planet. I have to believe that, have to fight every day for it.

I resolve to be more like the person my family believes I already am. The person who is only brave, and strong, and kind, because of what they've already given to me.

And also to finally lose that last. Fucking. Nine pounds.

New Year's Day menu here will be simple (see stomach flu in first paragraph)- the requisite black eyed peas and cornbread. The black eyed pea recipe is here (see my "end of the world cookout" entry back in May) but here's an excellent bread machine cornbread recipe (yes I also make it in my iron skillet in the oven, but sometimes this is easier. Shut up)

The Essential To Go With Black Eyed Peas New Years Day Cornbread

1 egg
1 c milk
3/4c plain yogurt
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 1/2 c white flour
1 c cornmeal
3/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp each garlic powder, oregano and chili powder
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

add all ingredients to bread machine and set on "basic white"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dr. Dictator Paul- Makes Me Feel All Warm Inside- Wait, That's Just Nausea...

(be patient- I'm typing on my phone again because Alec gave the entire family the stomach flu for Christmas)

Here's what I'd like to know from the Ron Paul zealots-

How the Sam hell would that crazy little bedbug manage to make good on even a 100th of what he's squawking about?

Because according to the Word of Ron Paul, lapped up like liquid manna by his rabid followers, a Ron Paul presidency WOULD bring us-

-ending the war on drugs- make it all legal
-ending the Fed
-ending the "entitlement programs"
-giving big business full protection and support
-giving people full freedom of choice, unless you're female or gay (which doesn't even make him Libertarian, but whatever)
-hauling all our troops home

I'm not saying a few of those aren't damn good ideas, but it's a very ambitious list, in a deluded "I can reach the moon and serve it up on crackers" sort of way.

Yanno the last time I heard and saw such fervent promising was during Barack Obama's campaign- and yes I believed him and yes I voted for him.

Yanno why?

Because done correctly and with the strength of conviction, that stuff could've really happened.

On accounta he had (presumedly) the backing of his party. The only obstruction he should've faced was the Republicans.

What happened was he caved- made deals with the devils and the devils screwed him (I coulda told him how that was gonna go). Top that off with the infusion of the batshit crazy tea party electees who don't give a rat's ass about anything other than getting Obama out of office so would vote to make the National Lunchmeat baby bunny bologna if Obama voted against it and you get what we got now- a fucking mess.

But I digress...

My point is, Obama took office with his party behind him.

Both parties (and most voters) think Ron Paul is an odd little man who wants to be dictator, not president.

I can say that because without substantial support from at least ONE party, the only way he'll be able to do even one of his sweeping promises is by literally taking over the country and hamstringing both House and Senate- to become dictator of the steaming pile of shit he envisions turning this country into.

I'd just as soon that doesn't happen, thanks anyway, Paulbots.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It Was the Best Christmas Ever!

Remember thinking that? When we were little kids and we'd talk to our friends after the Christmas holiday?

"How was your Christmas?"


When I was little, Christmas was magical- not because of all the gifts, although there were plenty of those, but because of the traditions- the big family gatherings at my Great Aunt Nora's house, a tiny house with a big basement where they set up the long folding tables. The "master" bedroom was where the coats got tossed onto the bed and all of us kids (about half a dozen assorted cousins) figured out that if we crouched down on the floor and listened at the heating duct vent we could hear what the adults were saying downstairs.

It was invariably boring and mundane but that's not the POINT- the point is we could do it and they didn't know about it.

Later on, Christmases were at my mom's house and the presents were distributed by the youngest child, who read the tags and piled them in front of their rightful recipients. Then we'd open them from youngest to oldest and repeat till they were all open.

My grandmother would always sneak the next present onto her lap and stealthily work away at the tape till it was almost completely open by the time it was her turn again.

My mother, an expert seamstress with high hopes, good intentions and no spare time, would end up wrapping tangible IOU's- material, buttons, trim and a pattern for whatever she PLANNED on making us.

Grandpa Norman always wore his Christmas socks- one red and one green, and would tell everyone "I've got another pair just like it". Years later, when he passed away, I told Grandma he needed to be buried in his Christmas socks- no one would see them- and she agreed. I'm not sure if anyone but she and I knew.

My first 18 Christmases were the Best Christmases Ever.

Then I got married and had my own children.

Every Christmas Eve was spent with my husband's family and every Christmas Day with mine. In between, I hosted a Christmas brunch for just the grandparents to come see what the kids had gotten from Santa.

I was the designated pie baker and made pumpkin, apple and french silk pies- 2 of each for every gathering.

My in-laws' family was bigger than mine, so we'd all buy gifts for all the kids and the adults would pick names out of a hat between themselves. I did whatever I could to get my brother-in-law John to choose my name- the single guy of the bunch, he had an incredible sense of just the right sweater- all my favorite sweaters came from John- hunter, beer drinker, seal-the-store-bag-with-scotch-tape-wrapper. The one year my husband bought me a sweater it was so itchy I couldn't even wear it with a blouse underneath.

Those were my Stepford wife, good girl, Sunday School teacher, voting Republican years. Family traditions, babies born and growing, doing everything the absolute way I'd been taught to. And I remember them as being the Best Christmases Ever.

Then I got divorced.

I moved to Texas.

The next few years were hard. The kids stayed in Wisconsin and came down the day after Christmas. I was working 2 full time jobs- one day job and one night job. I volunteered to work on the holidays so the other employees could be with their families- MY family was coming on the 26th.

I cooked/served/cleaned up at the Salvation Army Christmas dinner in between holiday shifts. When the kids got here I was able to spend time with them thanks to my bosses and fellow employees who let me have off- and just being with them made those
The Best Christmases Ever.

Then Ward and I got married and had Alec.

We started renovating our grand old house and settled into small town life. Each Christmas the halls were literally decked and the stockings hung with care. Alec loved having the older kids visit and for just a few rose-colored sugar-coated years they were The Best Christmases Ever.

The older kids grew up and got jobs which precluded them from coming down during Christmas, Ward's mom passed away and Ward got sick. A few years we sandwiched Christmas in between hospital stays, but I doggedly persevered in as many of our traditions as I could- the decorations in the house, cookies baked, Santa's arrival- not because I felt like it, but because when faced with the hideously abnormal, maintaining normalcy is a huge act of defiance, and empowerment, and comfort.

And every year we'd look back and see what we'd been through and then at each other- our amazingly fragile yet titanium-strong family and realize that we were having The Best Christmas Ever.

We "adopted" Joe, and now his mom Edna- our family has grown in a completely unconventional yet wonderful way and Alec said the other day, "It's great that we have other people living here with us- it's like our own little community".

Last year today our contractor/our friend Ronnie finished sealing the interior wood in this house- on Christmas Eve morning. That night Ward and I came out to sweep and seal the floors. I'd refused to decorate our grand old house because we were hoping to be moved into the new house by Christmas, but it didn't happen. We moved in on January 4th.

So there were no decorations last year. The decorations were stashed in the rented storage shed- the one we were only going to have a few months. Therefore they were unloaded into the very back corner of said unit...which we found out a few weeks ago when we went hunting for them. For a few frantic sickening days I thought maybe somehow the decorations had been tossed out by mistake.

But in the end, there they were.

And here we are.

My children, all of them, are healthy and well. I'm not doing too bad for knocking around in this half-century+ bag of skin, bones and too much padding.

Every morning, I open my eyes and can't believe we're here, in this house, at last.

Every night I close my eyes snuggled in next to my darling courageous husband who's still here with us.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day- and I already know it's going to be the Best Christmas Ever.

Silent night- all is calm, all is bright. Rainy and cold outside, warm and so very contented inside. Wishing for you all every day as Special as Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thebj goodness dif auto correct...

So I'm oresssrf dot rind and Alec has taken ivermectin my computer with his incessant needs for information, shock I'd something I can't deny him.

Therefore,imn typing on my phone. It's a likely phone- one of those with the handy ayor correct si I don't have to stress about the time little keys that are so easy to misspell thins with.

The presents are mostly Borden and I just have to wrap even at work roniaske- the boys were shocked and a kittle iggdbfrdcrgat I insisted on taking then to work and locking Rhenish inti my office rikk Christmas (the presented, bot the bits).

We've decided that we're found to forefinger the bid holiday dibber and just head fir the Chinese restaurant ob Sunday, which makes ne feel fault and more than a little kgvwteated.

Hor's dob and famine wukk be comics ob Saturday and I roof Edns sgoooibfcroday and will hejpvher cook a bog.Chrtstnas eve dinner mark fir them.

Rift bow the bots ate St art class so I'm Judy sitting here enjoying the quiet avf the pteygj lights Wafr. Our up akk around the house.

They'll nr hive doib and we'll have dibber and watch a niche.
I cavy believe how quick I can type when I don't have to pay attention to sprigging.

Thank goodness fit Syria correct :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

...and a Merry Christmas To All

So I innocently posted something I thought was clever on Facebook. It was an alternative to the literal buttload of "Put the CHRIST back into CHRISTmas- repost if you're a PROUD AMERICAN ***CHRISTIAN***" posts we get inundated with this holy holiday season of love and goodwill.
(I didn't write this- I just passed it on)

WHAT A CROCK ..... We can't say Happy Holidays now we have to say Merry Christmas. We can't call it a holiday tree, it HAS to be called a Christmas tree. Because it might offend Christians if they don't get to monopolize the holiday season and make the country pretend that Chanukah, Yule, Kwanza, and the winter solstice don't exist or deserve respect. If you don't like our freedom of religion and ...freedom FROM religion, and it offends you so much, then LEAVE: I will help you pack. If you agree with this, repost. I AM A PROUD and EDUCATED AMERICAN CITIZEN. Happy Holidays to ALL Americans, whatever you celebrate! Do you have what it takes to be respectful of everyone and repost this? It's not a war on Christmas, it's a war on rudeness and exclusivity.

Well. The reaction wasn't a total "shitstorm" but it was filled with a fair amount of Christian persecution rhetoric along with a huge dollop of mis-learned history.

The posters are my friends- real life friends, not "just" Facebook friends, so I know they were as tactful as they could muster, and for that I thank and respect them- as I respect their Reason for the Season.

Their main objections to "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" are that "God is on our money and in our pledge and the 10 Commandments are in our government buildings so we ARE a Christian nation and have always been", that it's only been the last few years that people have started complaining about prayer in school and that before that everyone "just got along". That we are a nation of many faiths and that they DO respect everyone's right to worship or celebrate the way they choose- that I have it all ass-backwards- it's the OTHERS who are picking on and limiting the Christians, who are tolerant and loving towards all.

I guess it may look that way...from that side of the mirror. Because these are thinking intelligent people who I happen to love, I have to believe that.

Of course, since I can't keep my mouth shut, I also had to address things they stated that clearly aren't true. Why they still love ME is anyone's guess.

The whole "God is on our money and in our Pledge, and the 10 Commandments are carved into the walls of our government buildings" is NOT as old as our nation- those things were added in the '50's in response to the Red Scare and to differentiate us as far as possible from the "evil Commies".

The FIRST Europeans who came here- the Puritan Pilgrims- were so strict and harsh in their Faith that Christmas as a CELEBRATION to be touted and given holiday status was against the law punishable by imprisonment. So to say "It's always been this way" isn't true- it's only been this way in OUR lifetimes.

The thing is- the US is a nation that IS predominantly Christian, but as written in our constitution by men who left other places BECAUSE of religious persecution caused by governments that were theocracies, not democracies or republics, we are NOT a Christian nation.

That's a subtle, but very very important difference.

I know ALL the messages are not militant, but there are plenty out there that are- one of my friends was actually denied admittance to a store by a "Christian" group who refused to let her pass until she repeated "Merry Christmas" with "Merry Christmas"- which she would've done happily if they hadn't been brandishing it like a weapon and literally spitting it at her.

I don't know of ANY non-Christian who is insisting that no one can say Merry Christmas or put up 10,000 trees and nativity scenes if that's what they believe and how they want to celebrate. I LOVE Christmas trees and nativity scenes and will have both proudly displayed once I find my decorations buried in the bowels of the storage shed from hell.

Is a nativity scene appropriate in a public school? ONLY as a form of history and culture next to all other December holiday symbols. Not to say "THIS is why we celebrate Christmas" because chances are not all the students ARE celebrating the birth of Jesus and it's NOT THE JOB of a PUBLIC school teacher to convert or teach Christianity in school- I would personally call for the firing of a teacher who preached ANY religion in public school.

Why are the same people who say "We're a melting pot nation and are inclusive so stop harassing the Christians" also the ones picketing Mosques being built by Muslim US citizens?

It all ties together, you see. We have candidates and politicians out there who are saying "Government isn't in charge of health care- that's the CHURCH'S job to provide charity AS THEY SEE FIT" which leaves you pretty much dead unless you're a member of a church with money to spare.

They are saying "We don't need a minimum wage, banking regulations and safe food and water, we need PRAYER".

They are saying "If you are unemployed all you need to do is pull yourself up by your bootstraps- God helps those who help themselves".

They are saying "We need LESS government intervention in our lives and *I* will work for that- and also to make damn sure government forces everyone to tend their daily personal business in a manner according to our interpretation of the Bible".

The answer is NOT "our country needs to be run by the Christian law" any more than it is to be run by (another government law-making time waster) the scary boogeyman of Sharia Law.

The government needs to care for the weakest members of society and regulate the strongest. Within those parameters lies the true freedom and luxury for everyone to live in a free and dignified manner.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's OK- We Didn't Need Any Sleep Tonight

We had a little scare night before last.

Alec woke up in the middle of the night crying, which is very unusual.

He's a stoic boy, not given to being sick and being very brave when hurt.

It was abdominal pain, so severe he couldn't even turn over or sit up or walk.

No fever, no vomiting, no ("MOM- don't say it"), just blinding awful pain.

We tried some Tylenol, then some GasX, and manually shifted him around to see if any other position was better than another. Since the boy opts to sleep on his loveseat, which is about half his body length, we asked if he wouldn't be more comfortable on our bed, but he couldn't get up.

*disclaimer- he HAS a bed- he has THREE mattresses- all of them currently used for piling STUFF on.

Without thinking, Ward picked up his 85 pound son and carried him to the bed. Across the house.

We got him a little more comfortable in the bed, but he was still in awful pain.

In between tears (not like him), informing us he'd never been in so much pain EVER and imploring me to do something to MAKE IT STOP, he started asking to go to the emergency room.

I called the nurse at telecare and she talked to him. When I got back on the phone she said "He's very sincere- it sounds like he's in a lot of pain- even though it's not specifically on his right side, we can't discount appendicitis and I recommend you go to the emergency room NOW".

Ward and I dressed to go and I texted Joe to let him know where we were going, why, and that I'd call him when we knew anything.

I brought clothes into our room for Alec to get dressed in and he said

"Hey. It's gone. The pain is gone. Now I'm really tired."

And he got up, walked back to his room and went to bed.

Ward and I looked at each other. I texted Joe. We got into our jammies and went back to bed.

Ward stared at the ceiling. "I'm too old for this shit".

I've known that ever since Alec was born. The midwife handed me the little person I'd grown inside of me and instead of 8 pounds 4 ounces he seemed to weigh a million pounds and I knew that this one was different. Different from the other two.

Not that he's more special- because he's not.

But that *I'M* different. I'm older. I know the truth.

The truth that slices my heart into shreds when he's sick or hurt.

Because when you're young and you have babies they get sick or hurt and you think "Bummer- poor baby" and you take care of them till they get better.

When you're old your brain flashes every news story about every child who's ever died from the exact same thing yours is currently suffering from.

Over and over and over again until they're better.

So Alec's better. And we're all better.

Every day is a gift. Every moment spent with the ones we love is a blessing.

Life is fragile.

Handle with care.