Sunday, June 24, 2012


Here's a sweet little picture of my husband and kids at schoolhouse beach on Washington Island off the tip of the Door County peninsula, where we took a mini-vacation last weekend. The cool thing about this beach is all the rocks; they are bits of limestone worn smooth by the water. It's not easy to walk barefoot on a beach made of rocks, but they are fun to skip in the water and stack into piles.

Stuart and I each took a brief swim in Lake Michigan. "Brief" is the operative word here because yama hama was the water cold! You can see  the orange diving raft in the picture below. I swam directly to it, and directly back, and the whole time I was gasping for air like a goose being strangled because the cold water made my throat muscles seize up.

This is the only picture of me from the whole trip that I like, and I think it's because you can't see my face or stomach...which brings me to the title of this post and my real topic for the day (you guys don't really want to see vacation photos, do you? We had fun, the kids were cute, blah blah blah, end of story).

The thing is, I don't put a whole lot of effort into how I look, and it really shows. I rarely go clothes shopping, and when I do, it's usually to pick up a few t-shirts to replace the ones with holes/stains/ripped hems. I don't own a zillion pairs of shoes; I own a few pairs of shoes, almost all of them meant for being outdoors (flip-flops, snow boots, rain boots, running shoes, it runs the gamut, really). I get my hair cut about 2-3 times per year and it's usually up in a ponytail. Except for a tube of mascara I picked up a couple of months ago, I believe the last time I bought make-up was when I was pregnant with Anya and everyone thought I had a skin condition because my face was so red all the time.

I do put a fair amount of effort into staying healthy and fit, but that's not quite the same.

I was at the school of music for most of the day today accompanying scholarship auditions. During a few minutes of downtime I was chatting with two other seasoned accompanists, both more than a decade older than I am. They were discussing their aging bodies, needs for bifocals and the occasional steroid shot in the elbow (I'm not there yet, but as bad as my eyesight is, I'm sure bifocals are in my future!) "How old are you?" I asked my one colleague, who is in terrific shape and looks  like he could be anywhere between 25 and 40. He had to think for a minute. "I'm turning 47 this August," he finally answered, to which I replied, "But I have more gray hair than you do!" "Oh, this is fake," he said, without missing a beat, and the other pianist, who also looks pretty awesome, said "Everybody fakes it!"

This shocked me. I guess everyone dyes the gray out of their hair now? Even men? (And this guy, I might add, is not at all fussy or particular about how he looks, as far as I can tell, which is why I was so surprised.) Should I be trying harder? The few pictures of me (I'm usually the one behind the camera) from last weekend make me think so.

Is this vanity talking here? Am I vain to assume I don't need to try harder? Would it be vain to actually try harder? I just don't know. I do know that these are superficial questions, but I have them all the same.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

summer is here

Daniel entered school this morning as a kindergartener and left it an hour and a half later a first grader (no, he didn't leave early - they just had a really, really short day). It's incredible to me how much he has grown in the last nine months, physically, emotionally and intellectually. He had an absolutely wonderful teacher, made some good friends and overall just flourished. I dare say I learned a lot, too.

Anya had a pretty awesome year of preschool. She is naturally shy and cautious about new people and environments, but at the same time she has an incredibly strong sense of self. She knows who she is and what she wants, by golly, and the preschool she attended this last year nourished exactly those qualities of hers. She is more confident, communicates her feelings much better, and she formed deep and loyal bonds with several children in her class and her teachers.

Today, after picking up Daniel from his very, very short day at school, the three of us went to a nearby state park to celebrate the beginning of summer vacation with playtime at the little beach and a picnic. There weren't many people there so we mostly had the place to ourselves. It was wonderful.

Here's to summer!

Monday, June 11, 2012

is it summer vacation yet?

Tomorrow is the last day of school for Madison Elementary Schools. Daniel may end up missing it. He was home today with a fever, and while I doubt he missed out on a whole lot of quality instructional time, it's sad  to miss the last few hours of school with friends, isn't it?

I swear everyone checked out mentally after the Memorial Day weekend, though. Elementary kids had tons of field trips that were more fun than educational (bowling, anyone?), and with all the end-of-year picnics and fundraisers and celebrations, it's just been a little much. It feels like summer already started weeks ago. The pools are open, the water is on in the local splash parks, it doesn't get dark until 9:00, we've burned through two bottles of sunscreen already, and today I finally turned on the air conditioning in the house. (We've had a few days over 90 degrees, so I'm rather proud I held out this long, but I probably wouldn't have caved this early if I weren't trapped at home with a sick kid.)

I'm looking forward to summer. We're taking things easy, and I hope that daily swimming lessons, weekly piano lessons and lots and lots of play dates keep the kids busy enough. We'll have lots of visitors in the next few weeks and one big trip at the end of July. Time will zip by, I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

thoughts on the recall

So about yesterday's election. Ouch. Not only did Walker win that recall, he won handily (55/44 split, despite polls showing the race being neck-and-neck). It's disappointing and discouraging, certainly a blow to those of us who were hoping he'd get his comeuppance.*

As energized and motivated and organized as we were, I have to admit that Walker had a lot on his side. For one thing, he had time. Once those petitions full of signatures were collected, he made sure the GAB (Government Accountability Board) took as long as possible to validate all the sigs, thus forcing the primary and recall election to happen late in the spring. This made it hard for college students to vote, since many have left for the summer and/or haven't resided in their precincts for the 28 days required under the new Voter ID law. The extra time also deflated people's energy. Voters are tired of this business and maybe decided he isn't so bad after all (how they could come to this conclusion, I don't know).

But the most important advantage Scott Walker had was MONEY. Money talks. Money talks REALLY LOUD in politics, especially since the Citizens United ruling, which allowed special interest money to roll into Wisconsin like a tsunami. There are no limits on the amount of money you can raise for a recall election. I'll say it again. There are no limits on the amount of money you can raise for a recall election. Walker out-spent his opponent Tom Barret 7:1, with most of his $30 million+ coming from extremely rich donors out of state - donors like the Koch brothers and people connected to them.

There were other problems, too. Democrats put a lot of energy into the primary when they shouldn't have. Unions initially supported former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, then had to switch allegiance to Tom Barrett. Barrett then had only 4 weeks between the primary and the recall to get his act together and prove to the state that he could beat Walker (when he lost to him in the 2010 gubernatorial election). In the meantime, Walker's camp had a lot of voters convinced that the protests and toxic political climate of the last 18 months were somehow not the fault of his actions, but those of us who oppose him.

Walker has done a lot of damage already. He has slashed funding to every public program that matters, from education to health care for the poor and disabled, to environmental protection. He has demonized public employees and the unions that represent them. I shudder to think what he will try to accomplish in the next two years now that he has gotten through this recall.

We can't give up, though. I'm cynical enough to believe that politicians will never really be on our side, as long as money is such a big factor in campaigns (and I don't see an end to that any time soon). I've read The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn and I know that since the U.S. was founded, it has basically been for the rich and by the rich. This will not change.

But you know you what else will not change? My determination to advocate for what's good and just and fair. When I was a union thug (yeah I saw the comments from the anonymous troll who probably failed remedial English and I left them there because I believe in free speech) we had a saying: agitated, educated, organized! At the very least, we have come out of this recall with a grassroots movement that is sure to stick around for a while.

*All is not lost. Scott Walker may yet get his comeuppance. We're pretty sure he is the target of an ongoing John Doe investigation by the FBI. Six people associated with his previous campaign have already been arrested on felony charges, and Walker has assembled a legal defense team using public money...which he's not supposed to do unless he's indicted or under investigation, which he won't admit to. It's complicated, which is probably why this issue didn't play a bigger role in the election. I just hope they nail him on this sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


If you live in Wisconsin, PLEASE GO VOTE IN THE RECALL ELECTION. Voter turnout is expected to be higher than usual, but the race is extremely tight, and we need EVERYONE at the polls today.  I can not emphasize enough how important this is.

If you signed a recall petition this winter, you may have received a robo-call telling you that you've already done your part and there is no need to vote today, IGNORE IT AND GO VOTE!! Scott Walker and his fans are not above dirty tricks in an attempt to mislead and disenfranchise voters so they won't go to the polls. It's probably illegal, but they're doing it anyway. Let's prove to them that their dirty tricks won't work.