Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My maternal grandmother, Gig, is home again after a brief stay at the hospital.

When she was checked in last week, we weren't sure how long her stay would be. So the kids immediately set out to make "get well" cards and pictures for her.
I put a picture of Gig on the fridge, and told the kids we needed to pray for her to get all better soon. No better method than to set the multitudes a-stormin' the holy gates, right? (that word is my Mom's addition - I wouldn't go so far as to call the brood a "multitude," now would I? Hmm?)

Cole got a small chair from the playroom and staked out a spot right in front the picture. He assumed a prayerful position and sat there silently. If the prayers of small, earnest hearts count for anything extra, then that was a moment.

So I mailed the cards, and waited to hear the prognosis. It was a short wait, as I found an email from Gig in response to last week's blog post. She regularly responds to each post by emailing her encouraging thoughts, and I look forward each time to what she will say about what I have said. More so this time, because it meant she was home again, and well enough to be online.

Then on Monday, I chuckled when I received this email from Gig:

"Tell the children thanks for the get well cards. I took Bush down from the frig and put up new art work."

Well, well, well. Who would've thought. I actually feel a little sorry for GW and Laura, as they have reigned quite supreme on that fridge for many a year!

I am mostly just happy to know that Gig is recovering well. She is not just a grandmother, in the snuggly home-made cookie sort of way. She is my friend. My listening ear. Those doctors tell us that her lung function is reduced, but I have to say - she still has a-plenty of hot air... ;-)

Be well Gig! The multitudes love you!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sideblog: entourage song selection

My (potential) entourage has informed me that this is the correct song. I like the kicky beat of the first one though. :)


It was a red letter day on Friday, as I woke up to the surprise that my Letter to the Editor had been published in the local paper. Rachael called to tell me, and I went into flutter mode. What? When?! Where! Page 14, to be exact. It was the letter I posted a few weeks ago, questioning the school administration's arbitrary decision not to show the students the President's speech.
Hi, my name is Bethany. But you can call me Mother Shocked. :) And what about that ad underneath, proclaiming Free Publicity! Bring it.
I received some phone calls and emails from neighbors, and a visit from one over-the-top friend who insisted I sign her newspaper. She then chattered something about an "entourage," and asked when I would be volunteering at school next. I am pretty sure she envisioned trailing me around the school with a boombox on her shoulder, as it played John Legend's "I Can Change."
The most gratifying quality of the emails from my neighbors was this: they are not all of the same political persuasion. And yet, they recognized that slippery slope that crops up when unfounded decisions are made, and were thankful that someone spoke up.
I am simply thankful for friends and neighbors that recognize that there is room for disagreement, but not disrespect.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A change of heart

I think the blue blends better with the car, right? :)
Change is not always what we expect. From the changing ages of our children, that bring fresh joy and unseen challenges, to the changing needs of our nation. Much like removing a sticker or bandage, change tugs constantly and stings a bit at times. Because no matter how inefficient, ineffective or unjust a situation may have been, it was still comfortable and familiar and well-fitted like an old shoe.
I was thinking today about the changes America has undergone in the past century and beyond. From women being allowed to own and inherit property, which paved the way to women as citizens rather than chattel, all the way to enfranchisement and full citizen rights. It is remarkable to think of just how much change has come to the various citizenry of our nation.
Southerners hold change at arms' length, and the fear of it close to their hearts. Growing up and changing in societal surroundings both uncomfortable and intense causes that wariness. Small towns change slowly, no mistake about that. It seems safer on the whole to simply build a wall than to consider good that may result.
My parents grew up in the times of desegregation in a small southern town. That change came hard. Wisps of southern male ideas of a woman's place also still broke through in casual conversation. It's no wonder desegregation came hard - some men barely realized women now had rights! Yet with each generation, an easing and an acceptance has fallen. A widening of the horizon of equality has opened up to many, if not all.

I mull over these things, trying to shake loose some meaning. Trying to grasp the climate of today and figure out how we got here. I am reminded of a quote I saved years ago, that resonated in me:
"Idealists are the salt of the earth; without them society would wither and fade."
Novel ideas are not always outlandish. Sometime they are necessary and just. Without our homegrown idealists, movements of change now synonymous with America would never have occurred.
Civil rights.
There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

nae sma' care

Well, you might have guessed I disappeared into a book, and you would be right. The hidden warning of impending book-diving came with last week's post, about going to the book fair.

See, Diana Gabaldon takes 3 years to write a book. There are already 5 books in the Outlander series, and the sixth is coming out very soon. So I had to re-read the first 5 to be caught up and ready for that sixth. Yes, I re-read the entire billion page series every time a new one comes out. And at least one time in between. Obsessed is putting it mildly.

My title today comes from a quote in Dragonfly in Amber. It's Scottish dialect, spoken by a mother of ten.

"Bairns are certain joy, but nae sma' care."

And that's second reason I've been missing - that "no small care" part. Weeks like this always make me think I need better vitamins. Something! An infusion of energy and dedication to match the boundless energy and sibling bickering going on. Little wonder I have been hiding away with my nose in a book.

Besides, it's the perfect perch for the thumb-sucking snuggly boy. He feeds my reading habit by requiring a lengthy sit-down every hour. Or I feed his habit by sitting down first - either way, we sit a lot lately. Assume the position. Knee up to prop small bottom in crook of leg, body curled like a small shrimp, cheek nestling on my chest, thumb in mouth. Begin the sit.

That's my story.
I have another one brewing.
Just let me eat some vitamins and get typing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Local conservative columnist gets it right

Our local paper features a conservative writer/editor that I am often ambivalent about. His articles are typically fine, but nothing to write home about. But last week, he broke ground with a well-written op-ed piece. He said what I wanted to say - but hey! Saved me the time. :)
Bravo, Hatcher.

Obama polarization: Spin out of control
by Hatcher Hurd
write the author
September 09, 2009
Sign of the approach of the apocalypse: When the president of the United States wants to address the students of the nation to exhort them to study hard and apply themselves, to work hard because it pays off in the end and to take individual responsibility for their actions, and many adults react in apparent fear their children will be brainwashed.

What is this country coming to? You may not always agree with the president, you may not like the president and you may not like the color of the president's skin. But he is the president. He does presidential things that are part and parcel to being a leader of this country.

But in the dark recesses of spin control, message distortion and The Big Lie, the truth is relegated to a seat on the sidelines. Every action, every proposal is flayed for its "hidden agenda." The radio pundits pour on their bias, innuendo and selective presentation to pander to a receptive audience. Then the e-mail trees launch their attacks. No one knows where these Web allegations spring from, but they are passed along by willing hands, because they say to them, "You were right. See here is more proof."

The radio pundits report rumor and present it as fact. They don't do any due diligence, they say they are not reporters and thus are not bound by such ethics. No, they are radio personalities, you see. They just pass along what they hear.

Now we have parents upset that the president of the United States is making an address to the students of America exhorting them to work hard, study hard and dare to dream big. Is there no decency left in America? Do we have to assail every word, every action in a jihad of political orthodoxy? The president is a democrat, thus he is a Liberal and a socialist and thus everything he stands for is a perversion of truth, justice and the American Way. And we certainly cannot have him infecting the minds of our young people with such ideas as personal responsibility.

If this same address to students were made by his predecessor, I don't think there would have been a ripple about it. There was nothing ground breaking in Obama's addressing the students. What was groundbreaking was that parents and principals denied them the opportunity to hear the president speak directly to them.

Yes, that would have sent a message to impressionable minds, although it is a bell rung only once. Instead, we have given them quite another message – a message about respect, or the lack of it, about twisting words rather than listening to them and about hate.That is what you have when you take all of the reason out of politics. Just hate.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

books and bottoms

It was a plan that came together. A little escape to Grown-Up Land. It was a visit to the Decatur Book Festival to hear my favorite author speak! You may have noticed the tiny wee ticker to the side, counting down not only the days until her next release, but the hours and minutes. Whee!

Diana Gabaldon (rhymes with stone) has been one of my favorite authors for about 8 years. In fact, I first read a book of hers in August of 2000. And if you think I remember the date and place of every book I read, I can assure you it is not so. That may be the *only* series I remember exactly where and when I was when I found it. Out of hundreds.

A ringing endorsement? Surely. But she's not for the faint-hearted, since her books tend toward tome-size and you need to cheerily sing Sir Mix-a-Lot's tune to the words "I like..... big books and I cannot lie..."

So off I rolled with a pal in tow, to hear Diana speak and read a bit from her upcoming latest addition to the Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone. She began with a raunchy 18th century joke and ended with a spicy scene from The Book. And as we left the sanctuary (I don't call it that because I love her - we were actually in a sanctuary), Dana turned to me with pink cheeks and said "I see why you like those books!"

And yet, the more shocking expose of the occasion was the young lady in front of us, who was of a generous size. In her haste to get to Diana's speech, she appeared to have forgotten both her undergarments and some shorts that actually fit. And each time she stood up to adjust her tiny swatch of khaki clothing, she treated us to the fullest moon I have seen outside of a bathtub. It is a simple fact, that unless you are a trained medical professional, receiving payment, that sort of view is really unnecessary. But much like roadkill, it was difficult to look away, and even more difficult not to giggle riotously. I floated the idea that the song-line "teach your children well" may have been referring to proper use of clothing items.

Then along we went, to stroll the streets and eventually wander into Javamonkey. Where I thought we were having coffee, but was informed we were having wine. And it was tasty and just right for the day. Though it took a moment to adjust to not having to tuck tags, wipe mouths or shush small voices... it was thoroughly enjoyable to sip and chat in a wine bar with a view of a poetry-reading outside and the city's mix of pedestrians meandering along the sidewalk.

A few hours out of the norm does a body good.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Because Friday couldn't be uneventful...

Oh no! It had to be an eleventh hour event! I really like that phrase, eleventh hour. And I work well under pressure. In this case, the eleventh hour call to action came in the form of an email from the elementary school Principal. Late Friday afternoon, before a holiday weekend, she dropped this tidbit in my lap:

Dear Parents,
You are probably aware that on Tuesday September 8, President Barack Obama will host a webcast directed towards school children. We have had numerous phone calls at Manning Oaks, inquiring about our plans, if any, to broadcast this school-wide. This communication is to notify you, that consistent with other schools in our cluster, Manning Oaks will not be broadcasting the address at school. Families have the option of watching the President's remarks with their children outside of the school day, as the speech is expected to be available on both the White House ( and CSPAN ( web sites after the broadcast.

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend! School is closed on Monday.

To which I offer my reply, on a sunny Friday in Georgia:

Dear Ms. ____,

I received your email regarding the decision not to broadcast the President's speech to school children.

Frankly, I am utterly shocked and disappointed with that decision.

Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George HW Bush all addressed the nation's school children during their administrations. I believe this decision is a disservice to the education of the children under your care. Regardless of political affiliation, this is the elected leader of our country. It is our right and duty to respect the office. His speech, like others before him, consists of a call to focus on education - it is a pep talk, and an encouragement, not a policy talk.

As M__ openly held mock elections all through the fall, I would have expected the M___ administration to support and welcome this window into our nation's leader. For the children to feel involved and a part of something so much greater than themselves, and to possibly gain a spark of interest into the workings of our country, would only benefit the school. It would certainly benefit the nation, when these young ones grow up. A politically tuned and interested electorate is always a plus. I distinctly remember being a part of President George HW Bush's "Presidential Fitness Award" and still have the plaque I earned. It was an exciting moment to feel some connection with a world leader.

To hear that the school we have proudly attended and touted for 4 years has now made a decision that smells of spoiled politics rather than education, makes me upset. I sincerely hope that the true goal of education will not be derailed by a paltry few outraged phone calls. If I had known that would be the case, I would have alerted other parents who support the Presidential address, to make our voices heard to the school district.

At a state-funded institution, not a private school, I expect and insist that my children be allowed to watch the President's broadcast at school, as has been done for generations past. It is their right and privilege as American citizens, patriots and students of American culture and history.

Bethany L___

Stay tuned for further communication from B. v . Board of Education...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Celebrate craftiness!

Today I give you a most crafty link, from my most crafty friend. The craftiest crafter who introduced me to craftiness, lo these many years ago. What is scrapping paper? I asked her, and lo, she showed me. What is this crafty tool kit I now possess, and how do I work it? And lo, she showed me. What are these fine gatherings of white-tents filled with handmade delights? Yes lo, oh lo, she showed me.
We have toured many an arts and crafts show over the years, from one side of Atlanta to the other. We have shared in painting and pottery classes at the local arts school, and I really can say that this pal inspired every bit of craftiness that lay dormant in me. You have seen her work before, if you received a fantastic handmade card that you thought I made, but when you asked me, I totally 'fessed up and said I did not in fact make that fabulous card.

Her handmade delights make me smile.

You have also seen her work about my house and blog, in the shape of photographs of the children. Those poster-size black & whites of each child, in our playroom? Traci's work! She is already skilled, but we still welcome any opportunities to be photog guinea pigs.


(Oink...ready for family shots...oink)

And so without further ado, I give you...

Traci! And her beautiful new blog that you will enjoy browsing:

One Fell Out of the Cuckoo's Nest

And if you need a spare old pan to create a fantastic calendar like she has, let me know. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

small finds

For a while, I huffed. I puffed. I shook my head. I tossed items in the cup with a furrow on my brow.

Then as I watched the collection grow, I became intrigued. I looked at the found objects before tossing them; I wondered what caught the small attention. I wondered where they came from. Some were obvious, with their shiny or sparkly parts. Others? Only the mind of a child could love. Coins, rocks, buttons, rubber animals, dried flowers, leafy crumbles, metal bits and even the latch to a window screen. (Note to self: check that all screens are latched.)

It is the window into their days. It is the key to personality and quirk, and each item tells a story. One girl has odd bits and unusual pieces. One boy has rocks, rocks & coins. Another girl, always a tiny animal.

I began to look forward to befuddled smile that grew on my face each time I delved into small pockets.
The detritus of the world, collected piece by piece by a child with an eye.
Laundry may not be fun, but pocket finds do add interest.