Category Archives: Carol

No, I'm NOT Doing Kill Your TV Week

The annual tradition of encouraging people to forgo their television viewing is upon us again. Frankly, I had forgotten this until my wife sent an e-mail.

Have you thought about how much TV you have watched this year? I think you will be surprised to see the statistics on this web site. For example the number of hours the average youth spends watching TV in a year is 1500 hours! YIKES!

National Turn off the TV week begins today. See if you can challenge yourself and your children to “turn off” to TV and “turn on” to reading!

This is all well and good. The problem is this: I LIKE TV. I don’t get to watch it all that often, sharing it with The Wife and the Daughter. Not that the Daughter watches it all that much either. She watches maybe 15 minutes in the morning, when she’s getting her hair done, then less than a half hour at night when she takes her medicines, including using her nebulizer. The average youth may watch over 1500 hours a year, but our youth sees less than 300. And all of it, on PBS Kids and Nick, Jr. with some legitimate educational content; I’m actually all right with that. In fact, in honor of Earth Day, Nick, Jr. is going to have a series of new shows on the topic which I had recorded for her.

So when the Wife came home Monday night and said to the Daughter, “Hey, how would you like it if I read you a story while you nebulize instead of watching TV,” and the Daughter frowned and said, “I don’t want to do that,” I was a bit sympathetic to the Daughter. I told the Wife that she had to sell the concept. So, a half hour later, AFTER I HAD WATCHED THE NEWS, BTW, the Wife repeated what she said before. The Daughter said, “Daddy doesn’t want to stop watching his news, does he?” Well, no, actually he does not.

By “selling it”, I mean to find the key to MOTIVATE the Daughter not to want to watch TV. There was this article a book review, really, in TIME magazine a couple months ago. Regarding Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the piece begins: “Whether you’re a manager, a parent or a civic leader, getting people to change can be tricky business. In Switch, brothers Chip and Dan Heath–authors of the best-selling Made to Stick–survey efforts to shape human behavior in search of what works.

“Lesson No. 1: tell people what you want them to do in a way that will make intuitive sense to them.” Not watching TV, rather out of the blue, made no sense to her. She was going to get a story anyway before bed. Perhaps discussing how others were also doing this across the country, aligned with some reward, might have worked.

Besides, since I watch very little in real time with the DVR – even the news is taped – I don’t really want to give it up myself. Does no TV mean that we just fill up the DVR and watch more NEXT week? The DVR’s hovering around 50% full already.

In parenting, we really try to do the united front thing. But in this case, my heart simply wasn’t in it.


Date afternoon

One of the things those relationship “experts” always say is that, in order to keep a relationship strong, you need to continue to “date” your spouse/s.o. It’s ESPECIALLY necessary when you have children.

So we decided on a date afternoon this past Sunday. We used to do it once a month, in the middle of the month (we got married on 15 May), but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. The trick about Sunday is that it was communion Sunday (which means a longer service) AND the wife was partially in charge of the after-service snacks. And because my wife’s a deacon, people had things to ask her. So while she was talking, I struck up a conversation with someone. It turns out she kept talking because I was talking, and I was talking because SHE was talking. By this point, our babysitter, who had previously had just been sitting around, had engaged in conversation.

So, it’s 12:45 pm by the time we get home. too late really to feed the child and get to the 1 pm movies. So instead we went out to a restaurant. It’s a Middle Eastern restaurant called Ma Moun. The food was good, but we were mildly worried that no one else came in the whole time we were there.

Then we went to Staples to buy a paper shredder. Tres romantique, n’est-ce pas? Except that it was just nice even doing something that mundane. the cool thing was that they were on sale 25%. The confusing thing was that the one we decided on was only marked down from $79.95 to $74.95; a larger machine would have cost the same. We took it to the counter for a price check and stated our confusion with that minimal discount; the clerk called the manager, who surveyed the situation and said, “How much do you want to pay for it?” Well, since you asked…The manager took $15 off, and the $59.95 was what we had in mind. Usually it’s the wife who picks up on these pricing discrepancies, but this time I sussed it out.

It was a nice date.
Did that radio thing I was worried about yesterday; I haven’t heard it yet, but once the nausea went away, I guess it went OK. I’ll listen to it when it’s available.
Yesterday afternoon about 5 pm, Joe Fludd, long-time FantaCo customer, e-mailed me with the sad news that Nic Morrison, another FantaCo regular who worked there for a time had died. I enjoyed seeing Nic around from time to time. As the obit noted, he “entered into eternal life on his 47th birthday, October 1, 2009, at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital, ten days after suffering a devastating stroke.” The wake was Sunday, the funeral yesterday; had I known sooner, I might have made one or the other. Quoting a mutual friend, “Nic was a gentle soul and a good person. 47 is too young.”
Apparently, Blogger has a limit of 2000 labels, and I have reached that threshold. Thus, e.g., I cannot add Nic Morrison to the label. Sometime when I have absolutely nothing better to do, I will deal with relabeling fifty-three months of blogging.

Last Run

As I’ve probably alluded to, my wife Carol has been away at college for a couple weeks. Last summer, she did two intense weeks of intensive study, and she had to read a half dozen books and write a half dozen papers before she even got there. Then this past school year, she had a 600-hour internship. Now she’s back at college for another two-week stint, after the preparatory reading and writing.

This has meant that I have been calling her every morning between 6:30 and 6:45, her only free time, just before breakfast. I was about to call her one day last week when I see an e-mail from her, titled: “Sleeping late Wed 7/29”

“I am turning off my alarm clock to sleep in in the morning because I am just getting back to my room now. If you get this message, don’t call me in the morning. I’ll call you later to catch up during the day at work and then again in the evening so I can talk to Lydia.”

My wife is an early riser, so this was quite curious.

“There was a bus accident tonight when MCLA was returning from Tanglewood. I was not on the bus that ran off the road and am OK, but tired. I was on the bus that was following the one that ran off the road headlong into a ditch so we were right there. It looks as though the driver of that bus had a seizure and lost control of his bus. Two coaches got off our bus, opened the back emergency door, and tried to give the unconscious driver CPR and then the AED but got no response, and the driver was pronounced dead. I helped the rest of the adults climb out of the back of the bus. Five were taken to the hospital for minor (as far as we know now) injuries.

“MCLA classes are canceled for Wed. morning and will probably resume after lunch. They are getting counselors to talk to us if needed.”

It turned out that the bus driver had a heart attack. The 70-year-old man had just come back to work after bypass surgery. Carol could hear her bus driver talk to this guy, and he indicated that this particular drive would be his “last run” for the night. Ironically accurate.

Carol and I agreed that it would probably be better not to mention the bus accident to Lydia, since it might make her worry about her mother and/or worry about taking the bus on the field trip that very day.

I never did talk to Carol on Wednesday, but I did on Thursday and subsequently; she is fine.

One curiosity about the media coverage is that the Times Union, the local paper, had a reported a school bus accidents in Pittsfield involving five students. Since it didn’t mention the school, it gave the impression that the students were of the K-12 variety, rather than graduate students. ROG

The gender slot

My wife and I were told that perhaps we need to get another roof on our house by a contractor who had done work on our house in the past. Since he was so busy that he was unlikely angling for the job, we thought his word had some credence. So, we have been investigating roofers. My wife called – she is a teacher and therefore home much of the summer – and got three quotes. She was talking to one of them, and he suggested that we probably just needed repairs and that the roof was structurally sound for another 10 years, so we were considering that option. He added, “If you DO decide to get the roof replaced in the future, HAVE YOUR HUSBAND CALL ME.” Now I had one brief conversation with him before, but the substantive conversations were all with my wife. Fact is, because she owned a house before we did, she almost certainly knows more about roofing than I do.” Must be a generation thing.

My daughter Lydia is allergic to peanuts, as I have indicated before. When Carol is off to college, there will be a couple birthday parties to which Lydia is invited and I’ll be taking her. One mom was a friend of mine before she was friends with Carol, but she e-mailed me: “What would be a good time to call Carol to speak with her more about her peanut allergy?” Now, I replied about all of the idiosyncracies of the allergy (allergens well-labeled on most products, need to avoid products processed in plants that may have had peanuts on the conveyor belt, etc.) Yup, even Lydia’s DAD is up on the particulatrs of Lydia’s allergies; we all deal with it every time we shop for groceries, eat at a restaurant or purchase something from a bakery.


The Wife's Birthday

My wife has had a very busy year, and that busyness was contagious.

Last year, she had just returned from a grueling two-week-plus stint at a college working on her advanced certification in teaching administration. Before she even arrived, she had books to read and papers to write. The first week in particular included 12-and 13-hour days in classrooms and workshops; the subsequent time was was shorter only because the students needed more time to research and write MORE papers.

When she got back, four weeks of relative calm before she had her excruciating jaw (breaking) surgery, and had her jaw wired shut for the first four weeks of the semester, hardly optimal for a teacher, ESPECIALLY a teacher of English as a Second Language. Just making food was often a literal strain.

This meant she got started late on the 600 hours of internship she had to complete, sometimes trying to discern her assignments. Among other things, weeknights meant meetings and weekends were usually dedicated to to various projects. Then a less than perfect end-of-fall-semester evaluation spurred her on to a stellar evaluation at the conclusion of the spring semester, but through even MORE effort on her part (and greater cooperation, watching the child, e.g., on mine). But she did achieve her goal. She is FAR more disciplined in that way than I am.

In fact, her current schedule, reading books and writing papers for THIS summer’s classes, still forthcoming, has made it virtually impossible for me to even buy her birthday present, though I know what she wants, and I’ve had to enlist the assistance of a purchasing ally to pull it off. (I won’t mention it here, on the off-off-OFF chance she happens to read this.)

This summer will also mean I’ll be doing the single parent thing for a couple weeks. I left her with her grandparents for a week last year but she got all clingy and melancholy – crying on the phone almost every night. The daughter missing one parent is tough, but two was too hard (for me too) for more than a few days, especially not on her own turf. But we’ll metaphorically will leave the light on.

Anyway, happy birthday, Carol! Hope you have SOME fun on your day in the midst of all the school work and helping to feed the folks working on our church this week.

V is for Vacation

I have alluded to this before: the wife and I had not been on a vacation alone together in over five years. This correlates nicely with the fact that we have a five-year-old daughter. So a couple years back, for our 10th anniversary, the wife began saving some money for us to do something.

As it turned out, we decided to travel a mere 32 miles from our home in Albany to Saratoga Springs, NY. While our actual anniversary was May 15, we decided to travel Thursday through Sunday on a week Carol had off from school in April and the in-laws could come up from Oneonta – about 70 miles away – and watch the child.

Thursday, we checked into the inn. We had had Indian food in Albany for a late lunch so all we had for dinner was popcorn as we went to the movies to see I Love You, Man, which I reviewed here; not high art, but we enjoyed it.
Friday morning, we went to the Tang Museum, discussed here.

Then, we went to this cute little restaurant for lunch; had an Old World charm. The food was good, but we noted that they used peanut oil in some of their cooking. Tasty, but the child is allergic, so I suspect we wouldn’t be going there as a family.

In the afternoon, we went to the National Museum of Dance. Ah, piled snow melts slower.

Here’s the building. That person in pink is my wife, BTW.

I have to say that we found the museum quite disappointing. A good museum or hall of fame – and this purports to be that for dance – needs enough “stuff” to make you want to come back again. This place just did not.

On the other hand, this was the only museum-like place we went to that actually allowed us to take photographs. Make of that what you will. The showcase pictured above is the primary part of the Peter Martens display; Martens is the most recent inductee. Oh, there are the dresses below, signed by some of his dance partners.

But there were no permanent items for each of the artists, save for a banner with fairly limited information. BTW, I no longer remember WHAT this is.

One of the cool things this place DID have were coverings on the windows representing the Hall of Famers. Don’t recall who the couple are, but the woman on the left is choreographer Agnes deMille.

This begins the section “The Evolution of Dance on the Broadway Stage”, starting with a replication of the streets around the Great White Way.

This is Sardi’s, the famous restaurant where performers hung out.

A picture of one of my favorite performers, the late Jerry Orbach.

The museum is working on developing a section on the “spa” history of Saratoga. This is a machine used in that period.

There was a small Russian dance exhibit.

The place was so casual that the purse of the woman working on the spa area, which was adjacent to the Russian area, was just sitting on a table nearby. Fortunate that we did not have larceny on our minds.

For dinner, we decided to go to the famous Hattie’s, nee Hattie’s Chicken Shack. As we were going in, a contingent of folks led bty U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer were coming out. The chicken was good, but the macronini asnd cheese was fabulous. BTW, Hattie’s is on the lower left, a comic book store which I went into briefly is on the lower right and above that is the legendary Caffè Lena.

(Incidentally, these are right across the street from a nice Thai restaurant that ADD took Rocco Nigro and me to last year.)

The next morning we went to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Now THIS is a great museum! THIS is a hall of fame! And though I’m less interested in horse racing than dance, this is a place I could return to. There were three sets of plaques: for horses, jockeys anmd others, primarily trainers. Interesting exhibits, informative films. (Picture below is not from the Hall but an exhibit of a street vendor.)

There was soime sort of vendor event in the city’s civic center, and we managed to eat enough sample foods that we actually didn’t need to have lunch. Afterwards, we went up to Glens Falls to see the Hyde Collection. It’s part a couple’s actual former house. The living room had 1500 books, surrounded by works by Rembrandt, Degas, and Rubens. The kitchen featured 17th century German chairs and 17th century French table. You can read about the collectors’ philosophy for the eclectic collections throughout the house. Definitely worthwhile.

The gallery featured Thomas Chambers (1808-1869) born and died in England, who helped create the popular market of landscape painting. He spent much of his time in the United States including NYC, Baltimore, Boston and Albany (c. 1850) before returning to UK in 1865. Just didn’t much care for it.

Then we ate an extraordinary dinner at our inn; the horse above, BTW, is just outside the main entrance of the building. Each morning we also had a nice breakfast there.

Alas, after breakfast, we had to return from our little getaway. This was a most enjoyable time where we didn’t talk about the child all weekend but rather enjoyed each other’s company.


Tin or Aluminum?

Jacquandor did this lovely tribute to his wife on her last birthday. Being an unrepentant thief, I thought I’d steal it for Carol’s and my 10th wedding anniversary, which is today. But I won’t get to 100 points.

1. The first movie we saw together was Speed, which probably has some metaphysical significance.

2. She was, at our old church, chair of the Membership Committee. Part of that involved being welcoming and that’s what she tries to do. I was chair of the Council on Ministries, which included Membership, so we were at a number of meetings together.

3. First time I met her whole family, it was Thanksgiving 1994. It was a foreign concept to me, all four adult children in their late 20s and early 30s, coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. I haven’t been at my parents’ home for Thanksgiving since 1971 or for Christmas since 1996, and that was rare.

4. Even more foreign, the Olin Family Reunion every year near Binghamton, NY. Carol’s mother had seven siblings, and one of them, Warren, traced the family back over 320 years to an indentured servant named John Olin who jumped the boat, hung out with Indians for a number of years before marrying Susannah Spencer. Carol had over 30 first cousins on the Olin side alone. Meanwhile, the Yates and Walkers on my families’ side had sporadic events. And because my parents were both only children, no direct aunts, uncles or first cousins.

5. She grew up in Greenville, NY, not that far from Albany, but she liked the country and thought Albany was too big. She’s since altered her position on this.

6. When we went out the first time, then broke up, I was still in her brother Dan’s wedding, and she was good with that.

7. Why did we break up? These things are always complicated. But certainly one factor for me was her ability, now thankfully greatly diminished, to, as a lawyer might say, “assume facts not in evidence.” Years later, only one example sticks out. We were cooking at my apartment, and she put a hot pan on the counter because she assumed it was heat-resistant; it was not. It melted the paint and left a cooking pot-sized burn mark. I probably did not react well.

8. Even though we weren’t dating, I rode a bicycle in the snow to pick up medicine for her. She had that effect on me.

9. I found that I missed her a lot, though I’d see her a lot, including at a weekly year-long intensive United Methodist-driven Bible study called Disciple that took place usually in her home. Read the whole Bible in 34 weeks, including the parts not required for the discussion.

10. There were a couple of failed attempts to get back together, the less said about the better.

11. I’d do lots of things to be around her, including a trip to the Washington County Fair with a Bible buddy, me, her and her (idiot) boyfriend. Not recommended.

12. When I started to woo her again in earnest in August 1998, long after she’d broken up with said boyfriend, she was oblivious to it until October, when we went for a walk at Five Rivers nature preserve and I gave her a big kiss.

13. She helped put together a JEOPARDY! watching party for me in November 1998, but she wasn’t there; her job in the insurance industry, which was well-paying but frustrating, had her in Madison, WI.

14. We got engaged at a restaurant on Lark Street in Albany called Justin’s in mid-January 1999.

15. We waited to get engaged because her brother Mark was getting married on 1 January 1999. I DJed that reception, BTW.

16. She quit that well-paying but frustrating job in February 1999 so she could see me more often, help plan the wedding and get ready to go to graduate school.

17. We went to Portland, ME in March 1999 as her birthday present to me. We got snowed in and had to stay another day. Awww!

18. I razz her every St. Patrick’s Day about the dress incident. The term “toning the bed” has a specific significance to us.

19. She developed a bond with my father, initially, over the fact that they both liked painting trees. His work on arranging the design of our wedding reception, including the flowers, sealed the deal. Since he died a year and a half later, I was always grateful for that.

20. Whereas I developed a bond with my father-in-law over baseball. I’m guessing none of his sons could identify Jim “Mudcat” grant – former Minnesota Twins pitcher. He and I have gone to several minor league baseball games. One, at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown earlier this decade, Carol attended to and conked her head on a beam.

21. Carol and I we danced to At Last by Etta James at our reception. It may be a cliche now – it may have been one then – but it definitely seemed appropriate.

22. The timing of our wedding was driven in part by our trip to Barbados which I won on JEOPARDY! We didn’t want to be in the Caribbean when it was too hot and/or during hurricane season, and we wanted to use the trip as a honeymoon.

23. The worst part of our honeymoon – leaving an all-inclusive resort to return to the “real” world.

24. When we got back home, which the first floor of the two-family house she’d bought in 1992, there were so many unopened presents – and nowhere to put them – that it took a week just to try to do the thank yous.

25. In the pre-wedding session, the minister said we ought to get a place that was ours, rather than hers. This became evident in the attempt to get all my stuff in that apartment. Dresser on top of a dresser, the idea of some TV home designer who said when you have limited floor space to “build up, up!” She did try to make the space mine.

26. Before we were engaged, she had booked a trip to Scotland with a college friend in July 1999. We both acted as though we were really cool sophisticates who didn’t mind being apart for a week a mere two months after the wedding, but this proved to be untrue on both sides of the Atlantic.

27. Being alone in “her” house, I suddenly heard every creak, every noisy neighbor.

28. We started looking for houses in the fall. There was one house I really loved, and she liked, which once belonged to an acquaintance of mine. Lots of built-in book shelves, etc. Unfortunately – or actually fortunately, in the long run – our inspector found water damage under the stucco which would have cost too much to repair, and the owner wouldn’t budge on the price. So we walked away.

29. The house we ultimately moved into we saw early on in the process, indeed, before the stucco house, but it took several months for the price to go down enough for us to make an offer.

30. It is almost undoubtedly true that if it weren’t for Carol’s fiscal prowess, I would be a homeowner. Whether that’s a good thing or not – I had been a renter since I left the family domicile – remains to be seen.

31. Part of what I hate about being the homeowner is fixing things because, frankly, I’m not that good at it. In most areas, she is more handy than I.

32. I have, thou
gh, been ceded the areas of computers, which is pretty laughable, since I don’t really know what I’m doing there either. But I know just enough – how to burn a PowerPoint presentation onto a CD, how to cancel a print job, and, related, how to reboot the DVR.

33. I’m also mostly in charge of the heavy lifting – the manual lawnmower, the snow shoveling, though she helps when it’s severe.

34. A couple weeks after moving into the house in May 2000, I stepped on a nail in the back yard. I hobbled to the front of the house, rather than tracking blood into our new old house, walked in the house, and called, “Carol!” She said. “I’m upstairs!” Undoubtedly, I was too calm sounding. Ultimately, she drove me to the urgent care place.

35. Carol started grad school to become a teacher of English as a Second Language in the fall of 2000; I was living with a coed!

35. I got to read every one of her papers looking for not only typos but consistency of idea; she’s said repeatedly since then how much she appreciated that.

36. A few weeks after 11 September 2001, I suggested we get away for the weekend. She said we could get away while staying at home; this is a fiction. When she’s home, she’ll always find something that needs cleaning or fixing or tending. So we went to a B&B in a place called Cherry Valley, NY on Columbus Day weekend, only about an hour away, but it was wonderful. Things I remember from that weekend: Mark & Leanne’s daughter as born and, in the only world news news I actually heard – there were no TVs – the U.S. war in Afghanistan started.

37. She denies this, but we’re often late because she’ll take on one last thing – doing one last load of laundry, pick up a few things. I’m usually late because i just lose track of time reading.

38. Speaking of laundry, even before the child came, she was doing it several times a week. I was more of a weekend launderer in my single days. she washes at a temperature one notch colder than I would. She also fills the machine less full than I tend to.

39. She thinks I have too many pair of underwear. This comes me usually from doing laundry every three weeks – therefore, 21 pair. I think she has too few.

40. In 2000, Carol’s older brother John, my greatest ally in wooing Carol back, starts dating a woman he met online, discovers he has colon cancer, and gets married to Cyndi 31 December. It was supposed to be the day before, but a massive storm that blanketed that part of northern NJ with 26 inches of snow. The actual wedding the attendees were my parents-in-law, Mark & Leanne, Carol & me. (Dan was home with Tracy, who was eight months pregnant with twins). And the reception more so, with Mark & Leanne getting lost and never making it there, so there were two cakes for the happy couple, four attendees and the minister and the organist.

41. Various members of the Powell family, including Carol and me, make regular trips to NJ to see John who seems to be getting better, then not so much. He died 12 February 2002. Carol, who just doesn’t generally do that, was compelled to write a poem for the occasion; it’s very touching.

42. In her first year in this house, the second of Carol’s grad school, the big expenditure was a new kitchen faucet. It would wobble like a car’s standard transmission on acid.

43. We used to watch TV together more than we do now: American Idol, My Name Is Earl. Now she watches her shows (figure skating, Dancing with the Stars), I watch mine, Lydia watches hers (though one of us generally watches with her). Carol and I eventually will watch those unwatched eps of Scrubs, the Office and 30 Rock. (That whole bit in The Office where Michael goes off on his own? We haven’t seen it yet; don’t tell my wife.)

44. Carol’s a decent cook but a better baker. I think it’s part of that 4-H thing she grew up with. My cooking tends to be limited to a half dozen things.

45. In 2001, we got a new kitchen floor and a new dishwasher. The old dishwasher had damaged the old floor. With the dishwasher, I did something I seldom do: read the manual. I often rearrange the dishes Carol places in the machine. Just last weekend, only 7.5 years after getting the machine, she agreed that I load the dishwasher better than she does, that my way creates far fewer dishes that need to be hand washed.

44. In the summer of 2002, we had a bat in our bedroom – the flying variety, not baseball variety. Being a country girl, she figured to leave it alone and it’d leave us alone. Wrong. Ultimately, we ended up getting rabies shots, which almost derailed her trip to Ukraine.

45. In the fall of 2002, we got a new refrigerator. She likes a full larder; I like to see what’s actually IN the refrigerator.

46. She does most of the food shopping. When I go, I usually buy multiples of things on sale. She used to think having four boxes of Cheerios was silly; now, I think she understands the strategy.

47. When we discovered Carol was pregnant in the summer of 2003, we kept it a secret from everyone, not just because we’re supposed to, but because we enjoyed having this delicious little secret.

48. We found out about a resort in Poland Spring, ME that only allowed adults, so we went there in August 2003; we didn’t know when we’d have a chance again.

49. Carol giving birth to Lydia in March 204 was amazing; she was very strong, probably a function in part of the Kegel exercises that she was doing on the Bradley method.

50. That was why when she had the jaw surgery that went not well last year, I knew it had to hurt tremendously. The most physical pain I’d ever seen her in. Not surprisingly, I HATED it.

51. We both felt out of our element with a constantly crying baby until we slowly started figuring out together.

52. There’s a division of labor with the child that’s evolved over time: I drop her off at day care, Carol picks her up. I generally dress her (and if necessary , slowly wake her) in the morning, but Carol does her hair, etc. Carol picks her up and makes dinner before I get home. We trade off on medicines and the like. But I read stories and sing songs. These get thrown off when Carol has evening meetings or I have choir.

53. She has become more politically aware. Partly it’s that she watches and listens to and reads more news from a variety of sources than she did when I met her.

54. We share a common gross irritation with litter as an act of royally selfish people.

55. The best thing about our recent vacation sans child is that we had a good time alone together while not talking about said child all the time.

56. She loves Norman Rockwell, so when we went to his museum last year, i looked at the graphic novel stuff, and she – OK, we – looked at Rockwell.

57. She likes Lindt’s chocolate truffles. She gets them for every major holiday: Mother’s Day or our anniversary; her birthday; Christmas.

58. I used to be the guy up half the night, but she has (grumble) converted me to a morning person.

59. (stolen from Jaquandor) Why don’t we play mini golf more often? We both love mini golf. The Daughter loves mini golf. What gives?

60. she’s one of the only people I know who doesn’t think I’m kidding when I say that I’m basically shy.

61. It used to bother me that she didn’t read my blogs, not even the one for the newspaper. In fact, for that one, her colleagues would tell her about my recent post. Now occasionally she’ll surprise me with “I read that on your blog.” I wonder how long it’ll be before she discovers THIS post? Shhhh!

Happy anniversary, honey!

Mother's Day

My mom is a good woman. She’s not particularly flashy; whereas my father would dominate a room, my mom would work quietly in the background. If they were casting The Hare and the Tortoise, my father would be the Hare, running off in all directions , not necessarily along the designated path. My mother would plug along unobtrusively. And you know how that story turned out.

At my father’s funeral, my sister sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” to my mother on behalf of my father. No, my father never sang that, probably seldom said it. (And yes, it’s a treacly song, but one gets a pass when dealing with grief.)

There were lots of adults in my mother’s early life, including at least one uncle, one aunt, and a very domineering maternal grandmother. Then she married this multitalented singer-painter-bunch of other hyphenates. Perhaps this explains that at some level, she’s still finding herself.

I haven’t seen my mom in over a year, though we talk on the phone regularly, but I’ll see her next month, ironically around Father’s Day.

Happy Mother’s day, Mom.

Carol’s a good mom. Lydia and I almost certainly wouldn’t get out the door in time every weekday to catch the bus if not for her. While I dress the child, Carol does her hair and makes sure I have the right accouterments, whether it be blankets for nap time or her swimsuit. At night, she picks her up from daycare, makes us dinner, makes sure she has clean clothes. I usually give the medicines and get her into the pajamas, but Carol makes sure Lydia’s teeth are brushed and flossed before I read stories and sing songs. And on Thursday nights, when I have church choir rehearsal, Carol does all of the tasks above.

It’s not just the functions, though. Lydia feels safe and secure with her mommy, and that makes me very happy.

I’m sure Lydia has made something for her award-winning mom so she can wish her a Happy Mother’s Day as well.
Best wishes to Gordon’s mom re: her liver transplant. And to Gordon as well.
Jaquandor’s loving tribute to his late mother-in-law.


The weekend without the child

My wife and I haven’t been away alone together in over five years. This correlates nicely with the age of our progeny. (This is not to say that Lydia’s never been away from both of us; last summer, while Carol was in college, I dropped her off at Grandma and Grandpa’s in Oneonta, about 75 miles away, so I wasn’t the position of both taking her to day care and picking her out.)

But the wife and I alone together for more than a few hours? Doesn’t happen. Yet our tenth wedding anniversary is coming up next month. Taking off time during the school year is tough, and the summer will be pretty packed, too. This past week, on the other hand, school was off.

So my parents-in-law kindly drove up the hour and a quarter to watch Lydia Thursday afternoon while Carol and I took a vacation in Saratoga Springs. Saratoga? Isn’t that only about 30 miles away from Albany? Indeed it is. but we stayed at an inn, and visited places we’d never been before. You know how people in Manhattan never go to the top of the Empire State building unless they’re hauling in relatives from out of town? It’s pretty much the same thing.

It was near enough that the trip there and back wouldn’t be onerous, but unfamiliar enough to be able to explore.

I’ll undoubtedly discuss the specific aspects of the trip over the next few weeks, but let me give you some first impressions:

*We end up watching either the Today show or Good Morning America only when we’re off work. saw Today on Friday, GMA on Sunday. What depressing shows. No wonder people tune out the news.
*We ate too much.
*We’ve become near experts at getting around Saratoga.
*We worried that the child would miss us. we called Thursday night and she talked to us, but when we called Friday night, she was too busy watching TV to pick up. (That is NOT a complaint.) However, she (with Grandma’s help) called us Saturday morning.
*She has so many things that getting Lydia yet something else seemed undesirable. Ultimately, we opted for flipflops.
*The hotel allegedly had a public computer, but the two times I actually had time to use it, it died after 16 minutes one times and 20 minutes the other. So no, I haven’t read any of your blogs lately; I will, I will, eventually.
*The times I did get on my e-mail, I got e-mails from a friend of a friend of Raoul Vezina’s and my high school history teacher, both of whom came across me through this blog.

Ah, my wife needs to use the computer. Bye for now.


A Cornucopia of Stuff

The good news here is that after six weeks of having her teeth wired shut, my wife Carol can now open her mouth. This doesn’t mean she can have steak, but she can have soft foods such as scrambled eggs. After a month and a half of not using one’s jaw, one must relearn to use it.
One problem is that she cannot yet open her mouth sufficiently to use her toothbrush, something she was REALLY looking forward to. Fortunately, her clever husband, quite possibly inspired by this workshop, suggested that Carol use a smaller toothbrush, and as it turned out, we had a couple replacement brushes for Lydia that Carol could use.
One of my sisters works for Wachovia bank – well, she did until there WAS no Wachovia. Like just about everyone dealing with a bank, she didn’t originally work for the former giant, but rather First Union out of Charlotte, NC, where my mother also used to work. But First Union got taken over up by Wachovia and now Wachovia is owned by Citicorp. It reminds me of fish in the food chain being swallowing up ever larger creatures. In any case, she still has a job, for now.
While my retiring Democratic Congressman, Mike McNulty , voted for the bailout, the frosh Congresswoman from the area, Kirsten Gillibrand , voted no. So did Maurice Hinchey, a liberal Dem from my old district, whose state Assembly campaign I supported in 1974. And of course, Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who’s been marginalized a lot this year, but is often correct. Someone sent me this alternative proposal; we’ll see if THAT passes.
Seriously, they’ll be some sort of deal soon, if only because there is no credit available for businesses large or small.
The Veep debate is tonight, and it ought to generate real interest, mostly to see if Sarah Palin will self-destruct. Based on her performances in the Alaska gubernatorial debates, excerpts of which can be found here, she may fare better than most people think. On the other hand, check out this link. After the 50 seconds of the Today show description of Tina Fey channeling Palin, you will watch a side-by-side comparison of Palin and Fey. As SamuraiFrog asked: “You know what the difference is between Tina Fey and a pit bull with lipstick? Tina Fey didn’t have to keep looking down at her notes.”
Bill Moyers’ interview with Andrew J. Bacevich on his book “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism”, which is “one in a series called the ‘American Empire Project.’ Several noted scholars and writers are examine American aspirations at home and abroad, looking for ways to foster democracy without succumbing to imperial ambitions.”
Because you need to know: an Internet Memes timeline.
That’s all I’ve got, but I’d be curious to get your reaction to my piece Is getting people interested in politics REALLY a good idea?