Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Is this an empty-nested world or what? I suppose technically so, since M left over a year ago, but what with the frequent presence of the Blue-Eyed Boy, and then having D and the two little girls living with us for a few months, it was easy to disabuse ourselves of the notion.

Well, the Blue-Eyed Boy has started school :-( so we do not see him as frequently as we used to; and D and the girls have long gone to Kansas, to be seen only on very special occasions. So "home alone" is now pretty much the norm around here.

Some things stubbornly remain the same: the grass still grows just as fast, dust collects just the same, the cars still need the same amount of washing. But other things relentlessly emphasize the empty nest:

  • There is no more sleeping with one eye open waiting for the squeak of the door that announces the last kidlet's return home for the night;
  • Laundry, once done at the rate of 2-3 loads every day, is now done 2-3x a week;
  • Cooking has dropped from 2+ times a day down to once every day or two;
  • Even dishwashing, the once-upon-a-time, 3x-a-day dreaded chore now happens maybe once a day.
But the other day something happened that well and truly struck home, reinforcing once-and-for-all, that the empty nest is official. It was a simple thing, really, as turning points often are, recognizable only in retrospect. It happened like this:

The other day, somewhat desperately wondering "What's for dinner?" I decided to make an omelet. My mother taught me growing up to keep two dozen eggs on duty at all times, and this I have done faithfully for the last 30+ years, though over the past year, it has pretty much gone to one dozen. Well, this particular evening, I reached for the one lonely dozen in the refrigerator only to notice the *expiration date* of August 6th. Hm... only three weeks out of date.

And that's when it hit me: We not only don't need two dozen eggs on hand, one dozen is even too much. I have always pitied those blue-haired little old ladies in the grocery store buying their little six-packs of eggs to stock their little kitchens. And now . . . NOOOOOOO . . . I am just like them!!!! Well, not quite. I don't have blue hair. But other than that . . . I am, sadly, too much like one of them.

Eggs . . . or the lack thereof . . . an apt measure, indeed, of an empty nest.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

Celebrity Death Alert: announcing the demise of Ted Kennedy. I don't mean to be irreverent or anything, but I'm having a hard time working up any angst over his passing.

I know that in some quarters, the mere f/act of dying automatically qualifies one for sainthood, and such is now the case with Ted Kennedy. A man whose legacy includes such sterling character qualities as alcoholism, debauchery, sexual harrassment, and second-degree murder is now being lionized on every hand.

Regular programming on television this morning is being hijacked to laud and exalt "The Lyin' of the Senate." One reporter had high praise for Teddy's role in such legislative acts as: Americans with Disabilities, Civil Rights Act of 1991, Ryan White Care Act, No Child Left Behind, etc. Government-run health care is reported to be a more recent one of his pet projects. Government-run health care for the masses, that is. Curiously, Teddy and his cronies would be exempt from the health care disaster they are attempting to foist off on us. But I digress.

So off with tv and on to the internet, only to find it awash with lively debate. According to one fan there, he "impacted and will continue to impact millions of lives." Uh, yeah. Exactly the problem, if you ask me. Another fan admonishes us to "show some respect" to this noble, self-sacrificing soul who has spent his entire life in "service" to his country. Service? A term in the Senate does not automatically equate to service, unless, of course, you consider self-service. In any event, Ted Kennedy was a drunk and a womanizer, and no amount of service changes that.

Poor Ted Kennedy, devoting his entire adult life to nine terms in the Senate. NINE terms? Depending on how far into his ninth term he was, that translates to, what.... something on the order of 50 YEARS!!!!! Now there's a record to be proud of: 50 years on the dole. The man never held a real job in his life, so how is it exactly, that he purports to "represent" the people? One thing is certain: the founding fathers never intended a senate seat to be owned the way Ted Kennedy has owned that one.

The Kennedys on the whole are a bunch of self-centered egotists, a family of privilege unequaled, and now that Teddy is out of the picture, what we have to look forward to is... more of the same, because there are plenty more where he came from. Those Kennedys are like the hydra: chop one head off, and two more grow back in its place.

In all of the day's reporting by the news media, the one thing conspicuously missing was any recollection of his misadventures on Chappaquidick Island. The sole mention of this ding on his otherwise stellar CV was from one of M's friends on his Facebook page: "Hey, if they bring up Camelot, we get to bring up the Lady in the Lake," sparking a spirited discussion that, hours later, is reverberating still. Teddy has definitely hit a nerve.

All in all, I would have to agree, Teddy truly was a major player in changing the face of America. Sadly, thanks to 50 years of him and his pals, we are now headed squarely in the direction of socialism.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Year In

We are one year, and a little bit more, into a seriously empty-nested life.

A few days ago we had a surprise phone call from M. His only agenda was chit-chat, and he asked what I was doing. "Knitting a baby blanket," I told him.

Then he asked what his dad was doing. "Watching a PBS show about Pennsylvania diners," I said.

And then there was a l-o-n-g pause. "Did I call the house" asked M, "or did I call the old folks' home?"

Hmmmm....good question.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

School's In!

The thing is, what passes for education today is not education at all. It takes no account whatever of the person; it makes no effort to capitalize on the student's strength or to strengthen the student's weakness. Instead, it insists on treating everyone "equally," meaning, for example, that a group of 5-year-olds will all be "taught" the alphabet, even though some of them already know how to read, while others haven't learned the shapes and colors yet. This results in a great deal of frustration to a significant number of children on both ends of the spectrum.

Rather than actually teaching, mentoring, or discipling by word and example, "educators" today very much prefer to stand themselves up in front of a group to tell and lecture, but there is a disconnect between the lecture and the lives of those in the audience, and while the lecturer may be willing to answer questions, woe betide the student who questions the answers. This is not education. This is brainwashing.

Rather than pose problems requiring thinking and discussion and discernment, it is far, far easier to set up a "test" of true/false, or multiple choice questions: Little to no effort required from either the teacher or the student beyond the memorization of a head full of trivia.

This has come about because in America today , the goal of "education" is no longer the development of mind and character. Instead, its object is for all students to come out looking like the same piece of bologna; it is preparation and conditioning for young people to take their places as cogs and robots in a mindless socialistic society and economy where they will be plugged in, interchangeably, at the will of the state.

Yes, there are some wonderful teachers out there, but even the best are hogtied by the rules and regulations of the bureaucracy under which they must operate. And yes, there are those students who come out of the public schools and excel, but I suggest that these succeed in spite of the system through which they are forced.

I don't mean to be facetious, but the detractors of homeschooling are almost always people who don't have a clue about homeschooling, or even education really. They generally labor under the misconception that going through the motions somehow assures learning, and that learning happens only in the classroom. I admit that learning can happen in the classroom, but I submit that more of it happens outside the classroom, in real life.

After a day spent learning to tie her shoes, my then 4yo daughter once said to me, "Now you just have to teach me how to read, and then I'll know everything." What wisdom from a child. If you nurture your child's curiosity and make sure he has the tools to learn ~ reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic ~ he may not know everything, but he can indeed learn anything.

Sadly, there is no longer any place in "education" for the creativity or imagination or inventiveness which once served as the foundation of the grandest, noblest of all social experiments: America.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Madame Secretary

Hilary Clinton is a No-Class Act.

So maybe she is the Secretary of State, while her husband, on the other hand, is just a has-been president.

So maybe she feels she wasn't given her due, what with being upstaged by the shadow of her husband and all.

So maybe she was stressed out on her If-It's-Tuesday-This-Must-Be-Belgium whirlwind tour of seven countries in eleven days. Sorry, but "stressed out" is part of the job.

So maybe there was a language barrier. Could she maybe have waited to make sure she understood the question before she rose so testily to her defense? According to the followup, it was explained later to her that there had indeed been a misinterpretation. Did she offer an apology, as Democrats are so very fond of demanding from others? Perhaps an "Oh, I'm sorry, I misunderstood the question?" thereby giving everyone, including herself, a face-saving opportunity? She did not. Her comment to the hapless questioner was, "Don't worry about it."

So, so, so...She signed up for the job. Could she have been even a little bit more, uh, diplomatic? Tact and diplomacy should be the #1 tools of her stock in trade. She is, after all, as she so emphatically pointed out, the Secretary of State of the Unites States of America. Very highly placed indeed, and she certainly ought to have herself in hand. But no. Instead she engaged in a tirade reeking of insecurity and jealousy and immaturity. Basically an adult temper tantrum.

Once again, Madame Secretary has managed to make herself (and, alas, us) look like a childish, egotistical, self-centered, narcissistic prima dona who just can't get over herself, providing another round of ammunition to a hostile world just waiting for another excuse to launch yet one more round of potshots in our direction. As usual, Madame Secretary leaves me scratching my head and rolling my eyes, wondering what "we" have signed up for.

Her behavior is a shame and a disgrace.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Whose body is this, anyway?! I am feeling hot and old and tired. Everything hurts. What doesn't hurt doesn't work. And some of what hurts doesn't even work.

My hair is turning GREY!!! At least around my face. That way, when you see my face, I look o-o-o-ld. The back isn't so bad. It's still mostly dark brown, but, being in a braid down the middle of my back, it's a well-kept secret. I guess I could dye it, but I don't know how much time I have left, and whatever I have, I know I don't want to spend it on a new career keeping the grey undercover.

My skin is giving in to gravity. Don't even wanna talk about that.

My hands look like overworked old lady hands, with spots and veins, and skin worn so smooth it shines. There are no fingerprints left.

My legs are patterned with varicose veins. Don't wanna talk about that, either.

My neck is killing me. I can't turn my head without suffering excruciating pain. I hurt it engaging in the strenuous activity of washing my hair. Leaned my head back to rinse, and *snap*!!! The neck bone is connected to the wrist/ankle bone, and every time I lift a finger or take a step, the pain shoots all the way up my arm, or my leg, straight to my neck. So in an effort to minimize the misery, I am mostly sitting, ramrod-straight. No movement = no pain, right? Wrong. No movement = different pain, this time in the form of stiffness and tension caused by not moving, leading to the mother of all headaches in a band of pain creeping up the back of my neck, over the top of my head, and settling in squarely behind my left eye.

Unless my Man happens to go to the store with me, I am reduced to buying the small bag of dog food for my over-sized dog, because I can barely pick up the big bag anymore! And if we manage to get the big takes both of us to dump it into the feeder.

Getting into and out of the car...a production.

There are a whole lot of other things to complain about, but...I can't remember what they are. I can't really remember much of anything anymore.

All I know for sure is I didn't sign up for any of this.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Senses Of Summer

A feast for the senses! The scents and sights and sounds from deep in the heart of summer...

  • Newly mown grass
  • Petrichor after a welcome, surprise thunderstorm
  • Cool mint, mowed down right along with the grass
  • Fresh dirt clinging to garden bounty
  • BBQ grills fired up all over the neighborhood
  • Fresh air and sunshine on line-dried laundry

  • Sheet lightning in the distant nighttime sky
  • Rainbows in the spray of the hose
  • Neighborhood kids running through the shimmer of the lawn sprinkler
  • Red and white striped tents at the farmers' market
  • Piles of fresh veggies straight from the earth
  • Fresh laundry billowing in the breeze
  • Fireflies blinking their presence in the evening

  • The crackle and sizzle of summer lightning
  • The rumble of thunder early in the morning
  • The plop of heavy drops on the sidewalk when the rain finally comes
  • The trill of crickets and cicadas in the heat of the day
  • Marching band music wafting up the hill from the high school
  • The whirring of window fans, tower fans, box fans, ceiling fans...
  • Kids splashing in the pool next door l-a-t-e into the night
  • The snapping of sheets on the clothesline
  • And did I mention the wind chimes on the front porch? Great in any season!

Ok, it looks like I'm enjoying summer a little too much. Don't forget, it is still August in Texas. It is still Africa-hot. It is too hot to escape the sweat running down inside your clothes. It is too hot to cook anything in the oven. It is too hot to sleep under a cover, even just a light sheet. So, on the other side...

  • A hot dog, languishing in the sun
  • The overpowering scent stench emanating from the too-infrequently-picked-up dumpster
  • The rotting of the compost pile (although eventually this changes to rich chocolate-brown dirt, see #3 above)
  • Mildew odors on wet towels
  • Chlorine smells evaporating from swimming pools
  • Sweaty clothes
  • The acrid smoke from a grass fire

  • Overweight women in if-this-size-fits-you-have-no-business-wearing-it bikinis at the public pool
  • In any public place, the skimpiest of clothing leaving bra straps hanging out on the top, butt cheeks hanging out on the bottom, and nothing to the imagination
  • Old men in short shorts exposing their hairy white legs and knobby knees
  • Yards full of sad yellow grass
  • Parched, wilted, saggy, droopy gardens

  • LOUD crap rap music blaring from passing cars with their windows rolled down
  • Air conditioners working overtime
  • The ice cream truck coming down the street (The Princess calls it "the music truck.")
  • The increased traffic of the comings and goings gearing up to start school (We live in a Bermuda Triangle amid three schools.)
  • The screeched protest of an overworked fan
  • Crispy, dead grass crackling underfoot
  • Gangs of motorcycles revving up to hit the road

So. For better or for worse: Summer. In all its glory/misery.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Already August?

Can it be? This year, which started out like all the other years, fresh and new, is now, like all the other years, more than halfway wasted spent, and it didn't take that long to get that way. So. Time to get a grip before the rest of it slips right through our fingers, and the next thing we know, the whole thing is lost and, like all the other years, no more than a memory.

August. Quite emphatically my very least-favored month of the year. August in Texas is Africa-hot, sultry, and humid. Absolutely nothing to redeem it. August doesn't even have a holiday to its name. Wait! I take that back. August is the month of BB3's and Gi's birthdays, so there is that.

In a transparent effort to ingratiate itself, this August came sneaking in on the heels of yesterday's most welcome thunderstorm, capitalizing on the happy mood and cooler temperatures (and tempers) left in its wake.

So today we have the windows open, filling our ears with the sounds of summer...the buzz of cicadas, the whir of fans, the melodies of wind chimes, against the backdrop of the sun less its sizzle.

Can autumn be far behind? Well, yes actually. Autumn is nowhere in sight. Not even close. But, it's absolutely worth waiting for!