Sunday, August 26, 2012

bad weather for the RNC

I haven't written about politics here in a little while, have you noticed? Mostly, I don't know where to start. Also, for me personally as a voting citizen, I know exactly where I stand on all the major issues and most of the smaller ones, too. My mind was made up long ago, so short of ranting and raving about the News Topic Of The Moment (which I am fully capable of doing, of course), I just don't have much to say.

I couldn't help but make the following observation, though: does no one else find it ironic that the political party with the most vehement deniers of global climate change have to delay their own national convention due to weather conditions brought on (or at least exacerbated) by that very phenomenon? Or is it just me?

I know, I know. It is hurricane season. Mostly, the RNC has unfortunate timing and they couldn't really foresee this back when they scheduled their convention. They aren't solely to blame for global warming, either; we all are. I just wonder when they will finally admit that there is an environmental catastrophe happening now (as in present, not future, tense) and that it's time to do something to fix it.

You'd think your own convention get pounded by a hurricane would them give pause in this regard. (But then, you'd also think a grown man with a college education and children of his own would have a basic grasp of reproductive biology, wouldn't you?) Alas, alas.

Friday, August 24, 2012

one truth

Here's one truth about motherhood: the ingratitude. You work your ass off to take care of everyone but yourself, make sure they are fed and clothed and well-rested and don't eat too much sugar or watch too much TV and you spend an hour or more making a healthy well-balanced dinner from scratch and they push it away and say "Yuck!" and "Stinky!" and laugh about it and don't understand when you leave the table in a huff. In fact, as you sit on the front porch contemplating all you do for no pay and little thanks, you just feel guilty for storming off and saying something guilt-ridden and emotionally manipulative hoping for an apology. You know that's far, far too much to ask from children too young to understand but you do it anyway because you are so upset you can't help it.

I guess they'll appreciate me when they're grown up. I guess it's too much to ask for them to at least eat without complaining. I know I did it to my mom over and over, I must have. All kids do. But it still sucks.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

sometimes, you need to call your mom

Folks, I am having a blah week. Stuart was out of town for 7 days, then the kids got sick, my self-confidence took a dive... I won't need to bore you with more details. But this evening, when Daniel complained of a tummyache and I looked at the pile of dishes in the kitchen, I just couldn't face it anymore, so I sat on the porch and called my mom.

Sometimes you just need to do that, you know?  I don't have anything big to feel sad about, but since we got back from vacation it's just all been piling up without a break and I needed to unload to someone who won't judge, who will just listen, who doesn't mind a little excessive whining and self-pity (now that I'm grown up, at least), and also, someone who has been there. She remembers what it was like when my brother and I were little and she had no time to herself. She remembers feeling unnecessarily anxious when we got sick. She remembers the seemingly endless days of whining and runny noses and bickering and ingratitude and night after night of fractured, restless sleep.

Thanks, mom.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I had a rather unusual encounter while out on a run this afternoon. I was nearly done, about a half mile from home, and while waiting for a stoplight, a man also waiting to cross the street asked me if I knew how to get to Reedsburg. You mean the town of Reedsburg? I said. I'd have to look at a map, but it's pretty far from here. How are you going to get there? Well, he replied, If there's no bus I guess I'll walk. 

As we crossed the street together, I gathered the following information from this man: he is from Chicago.  I learned his first name and told him mine. Today he took the bus from Chicago to Madison and is going to Reedsburg to visit his brother, who was married recently. He may be staying for a little while. He's never been here before and didn't know how far away Reedsburg is. He does not have a phone, so even though he has his brother's number, he had no way to contact him. I considered for a moment, then decided no way was I going to let this guy walk all night in unfamiliar territory, so I told him to come to my house to use the phone so he could at least call his brother.

Stuart, understandably, was uncomfortable with me showing up at home after a run with a total stranger, to whom I offered our phone and a glass of water. But I didn't know what else to do; the guy seemed stranded. (Meanwhile, Daniel looked out the window and said "Who's that guy?" and Anya bounded out of the house in an uncharacteristically extroverted fashion and introduced herself.) When the brother didn't answer, I invited him inside while we figured out what to do. I checked google maps and found that Reedsburg is about an hour's drive away, too far for one of us to drive him there (even if one of us had felt comfortable enough to do it, which neither of us did). So we sent him on his way. I told him which direction to walk.

And then I fretted about him. On the one hand, this guy is clearly an adult (hard to gauge what age, though maybe 20-something) and should be capable of looking out for himself. On the other hand, how could I send someone on a 50-mile walk in the early evening, knowing he may very well be walking all night? He's probably hungry, I said about 20 minutes after he'd left. I should go find him and give him a sandwich or something. Stuart thought it was best to let it be, so I did.

It started to rain and I fretted a bit more. A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was the young man's sister-in-law, who had been driving around Madison with her family all afternoon looking for him. They had checked their answering machine at home and gotten our number from his call earlier. I told her which direction I'd sent him walking, then set out to look for him myself so that I could call her cell when I found him. After 10 minutes, I spotted him in the parking lot of a strip mall a couple miles away from our house. I pulled up, told him I'd gotten a call from his family, and waited there with him. After just a few minutes, a red van pulled up, and he said, "That's them!" I introduced myself briefly, they thanked me, and I left. I expect they're home by now.

So in the end, it was a happy reunion and I can go to sleep tonight knowing this guy isn't walking all night all alone along highway 12 trying to find his brother's house. But a lot of things about this encounter bothered me. The man wasn't very forthcoming with personal information, but considering he stepped off a bus from Chicago with only a drawstring bag full of clothes, no cell phone, presumably little or no money, and no clear plan for getting to his final destination...well, one could infer all kinds of things about his situation that may or may not be true. (For one thing, he needs to learn some communication skills if he didn't realize his brother was going to drive to Madison to pick him up.)

My own hesitation bothers me a little bit, though. He was a person in need of help getting in touch with his family and for some reason I was hesitant at first. I was taking my own safety into consideration, true, but really there was no danger. We were walking on very public streets in broad daylight, and once we got home I wasn't alone because Stuart was there. Furthermore, this guy didn't ask anything of me other than directions. He was never impolite or pushy. I offered him the phone and the drink of water on my own.

Sometimes I don't know whether I'm too cautious or too naive. I'm just glad it worked out this time.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

daniel got a haircut

This time, with superglue!

Don't worry, grandparents. The faux-hawk isn't permanent. It's just extra-strong hair gel the stylist used. I swear that stuff is like super glue. This 'do is two days old and spent some time under a bike helmet this morning!

Monday, August 13, 2012


Last week, Daniel finally reached this milestone:

I took him to the dentist for a routine cleaning and check-up, which was months overdue; there was one scheduled for April that I forgot about and I didn't get around to rescheduling until now. As if taking your kid to the dentist five months late wasn't bad enough, the hygienist informed me that he is doing a terrible job brushing his teeth and we really ought to be supervising him more closely and helping him brush. Stellar parenting there, huh? Yikes. At least there were no cavities.

"And that loose tooth is barely hanging on," she added as an afterthought before turning to go back for her next appointment. Loose tooth? What loose tooth?  He'd never noticed it before that appointment, and an hour later it came out in a bowl of yogurt.

The tooth fairy did visit that night and left a congratulatory note and two dollar bills, quite a generous sum. She was perhaps so excited to share in Daniel's enthusiasm over finally losing a tooth that she did not consider how many are left and that by Christmas she may very well be broke.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


Sorry for disappearing for a couple weeks  there, everyone! We were on a short vacation to the Rocky Mountains, where we met Stuart's parents and some family friends of theirs at a retreat center on the Pikes Peak massif. The air was thin, the view was stunning, the tap water was cold and delicious, and we had a fabulous time hiking and spending quality time together.


After a couple days acclimating to the altitude, Stuart and his dad and I hiked up Pikes Peak. It took 10 hours to hike the 13.6 miles up and back. By the end we were exhausted and sore, but it was so totally worth it. Here's a sample of what we saw on the way:

Above: I thought this looked like a gate to hell. I hit a wall around 12K elevation and was convinced there was no way I could make it to the top. Leave me here to die, I wanted to say, my feet hurt and I can't breathe. Stuart insisted on cheering me on, despite my terrible attitude.

Above: The last piece of living vegetation I saw on the mountain. This was well before we summited. Even the plants know better than to climb that far up!

(Climbing up and then down this boulder field was NOT FUN. If we hadn't been so damn close to the top when we reached these, I really would have quit.)

The last and only other time Stuart and I hiked up a fourteener (a mountain 14K feet tall) was ten years ago when we climbed Mt. Yale with his brother Mitch. That time it was a 7-hour hike, I didn't quite make it to the top (we'd only given ourselves one night to adjust to the 10K altitude and I was too short of breath to summit), we were sore for days afterwards, and Stuart wrecked his knee and had to have surgery on it the following summer. This time, despite being a whole decade older, we are both in much better physical shape, we had more time to acclimate, and - this is important - we had the foresight to bring hiking poles. Stuart and his dad each used a pair of purchased adjustable poles, while I just had a sturdy stick I found in the woods, but this made a difference on the wear and tear to the joints. We were all sore the following day, but recovered quickly enough. 

Here we are at the top:

I would totally do this again.