Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Surprise! I'm still here!

I was a little shocked this morning to look at my old blog and discover it had been three days shy of a year since I last posted. Time flies, or something.

Since Valentine's Day has come around again, here are a few thoughts on the holiday:

I give my kids gifts on Valentine's Day. This year the gifts included Starbucks gift cards, games, books, and, for my granddaughter, a little figurine of a baby dragon breaking out of its shell. My husband got a card. I might get one, too, if he has time to swing through a card shop before the day ends.

For some reason this day for us has always been about kids rather than romance. Partly, I guess, we get all the romance we need in our day-to-day. But there's also the feeling that the most romantic thing we've done has been to produce and raise these kids. They're us, projected into the future.

I suspect Valentine's Day makes more people unhappy than happy. As I see it, there are four kinds of people: first there are the newly-in-love who adore the whole concept - a tiny segment of the population of which I have little if any firsthand knowledge. Then there are the ones in a stable relationship who don't do much by way of celebration because, after all, Christmas was just the other day, and who needs another reason to spend money and gain weight? Next up are the people in a relationship - whether happy or not - whose expectations regarding this day are never quite met. And finally, we have the people who aren't in a relationship and who wish they were. For them, this is a day to contemplate their failure to thrive in the world of romance. Sad, and not a good way to spend a day at any time, much less deep in the doldrums of February.

On the other hand, it's a very good day for people who sell cards, candy, and flowers. So there's that.

I don't know if this is a made-up holiday, or if there was an actual person named Valentine who was so spiritually inspired and inspiring that he was sanctified by the Catholic Church. Kevin Bacon played a terrific Valentine in the movie Tremors, though.

I'd love to spend Valentine's Day every year cocooned in front of a crackling fire with a good book and a bottomless pot of hot soup. I suppose it goes back to that 'February doldrums' business. In fact, if it weren't for the money to be made by the romance-merchants, I'd think this holiday was invented to lighten people's spirits in that dark space before spring begins to make itself felt. As a spirit lightener, of course, it's a bit of flop - review long paragraph above. Still, the decorations are red and white. That's gotta count for something.

All rightie, then. I've gone on long enough in this vein. If you're in the right frame of mind to enjoy this day then, by all means, have a Happy Valentine's Day. If you're not, my condolences. Next up will be Saint Paddy's Day and green beer and leprechauns, all of which I enjoy, and none of which are likely to inspire another soul-searching ramble like this one. So take heart.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

All rightie, then.

I installed a chunk of the redwood border with the help of my husband, and I cooked that beef and served it Monday night with polenta, veggies, and a tossed green salad. (What veggies? Hm. Wait a minute, let me think. I believe I steamed a mix of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and corn.) As for the high shelves - the cleaning ladies fear them for a reason. Let's not go there.

I was looking at the picture I posted of Youngest Daughter and me at the Poppy Preserve, noticing that seven years ago she was still shorter than I am, and I got to thinking. The very next year, in the pictures we took in Italy, we were the same height:

Now, of course, the situation has become simply ridiculous:

(Yes, she's the tall one in back on the right, and she's hunched down a bit so she can put her chin on her brother's shoulder. Don't ask about the funny hat. It's there for a reason...)

But way back at the beginning she was little. When we'd go to the grocery store, she would always step on the rung at the back of the cart, hold onto the handle, and lean against me. I'd push with my arms around her. This went on from the time she got too big for the seat in the cart (maybe when she was three?) until she was so tall I had to hitch my head over to the side to see around her. She must have been seven or eight. At last I told her that she was too big, and she couldn't ride there anymore. She said, "You mean never again?"

It still makes me laugh to think of that. I said, "Yeah, that's about it, honey. You aren't going to get any shorter. People grow in just the one direction: up."

Friday, April 9, 2010

On abandoning a blog

Yeah, that's what I did and not once, but twice, having also abandoned my highly grumpy and often inappropriate political blog. I didn't abandon my pair of blog-babies for the same set of reasons. Oh, sure, in both cases time got short and I got overwhelmed; but there's more to it than that.

I'll blog about the politics over there, but my reasons for not posting here are complicated and have to do with a recurrent suspicion that I really don't know a damn thing about raising kids and that there are better things for me to do than inflict my meanderings on the Internets. I could, for example, work on one of my books. I could dust the high shelves where the cleaning ladies fear to go. I could do some yoga, or even better, some tai chi. I could thaw that good slab of beef, cut it in chunks, and cook it Tuscan-style with red wine, peppercorns, and garlic. I could dig a little trench in front of the roses for the nine-inch-high redwood border I bought last spring.

My youngest daughter - the recalcitrant teen - is barreling headlong into adulthood. My eldest daughter is being dragged inexorably towards middle age. My middle kid will soon be Doctor Dave. And although all of these brilliant people spend a large amount of their time here, I'm feeling very empty-nesty, which, coming on the heels of forty years of parenthood, is a bit of an adjustment. In that light, I have found it easier to ignore this blog.

Yeah. Easier, and less threatening. Nobody's perfect. Every parent makes mistakes and it's painful to look back and admit them. You find yourself caught between kicking yourself and grieving for what might have been if only you'd been wiser, more experienced, more patient, more generous. Ack, you think. Let's just move on.

On the other hand, chronicling the lessons-learned might make a difference, if not for other parents going forward, then at least for my kids looking back. And there are the laugh-out-loud-funny moments we all shared.

So maybe I will still post here. Maybe. First, though, I really need to get that redwood border installed.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday dog-blog

Here's Roxy, sleeping with her toy on her nose.

I'd blog the cat, but she went outside and refuses to come back in. She's mad because Roxy waltzed into the bedroom where she was sleeping. Worse, poor kitty was subjected to a giant brown Roxy-nose sniffing her tummy. Bad scene all around.

What Roxy's really doing in this picture is waiting for someone to try to steal the toy away so that somebody will have to chase somebody else. Her preference, of course, is that when it all settles out, she'll be the one being chased. I'll be the one running after her.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The kitchen is a wrap

Here's what we started with:

And this, along with an empty savings account and a few more gray hairs, is what we have now:

Yeah. It was worth it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's a new year

and let's hope it's a better one than the last. Here are ten of my fondest wishes:

1. Newspapers recover. Twenty-four-hour news outlets fail.

2. It rains in California. It stops raining in Iowa.

3. California calls for a constitutional convention and produces a new constitution which requires a two-thirds majority to amend the constitution and a 50%+1 majority to pass a budget and to raise taxes. Lowering taxes requires a 60% majority. Heh.

4. The Supreme Court decides that money does not, in fact, constitute political speech and caps corporate political spending.

5. The FCC decides that nudity is not scary, that the word 'fuck' will not harm future generations, and that freedom of speech is not threatened by banning ads which contain demonstrable falsehoods.

6. The FDA bans commercials touting prescription drugs.

7. Genetically modified foods are found to taste awful. Monsanto gives up its GMA programs and devotes itself to promoting organic gardening.

8. No Child Left Behind is amended to require a.) national testing standards and b.) an increase in funding for all schools which fail to meet yearly progress goals.

9. Roman Polanski goes to prison.

10. Health care reform becomes law, and includes caps on profits by insurance companies and for-profit health-care providers.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

On to the new year

and good riddance to the old. I have no idea why 2009 was so awful - it just was. The partisanship from the right which crippled Congress; the hatred and racism spewed over the airwaves by the likes of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh; the idiocy from the left when it became clear that President Obama was only a very smart man and not the magic liberal fairy-godfather they thought they'd elected; and the continuing pressures of recession, high unemployment, and climate change all combined to make everybody in the world crabby, intolerant, and out of sorts.

On the bright side are these: George W. Bush is no longer president. We are not dealing with the worldwide economic depression that seemed inevitable a little more than a year ago. Our troops are leaving Iraq; and although Afghanistan is ramping up, there's a time line in place for our involvement there to end as well. Guantanamo is slowly being shut down. We are finally taking climate change seriously. Our government is re-establishing diplomatic ties around the world. Health care reform bills were passed in both the House and the Senate, and need only to be reconciled for at least some of the horrible inequities in our health care system to be addressed.

So let's ring in the New Year with hope in our hearts and a renewed will to work to make our world the secure and happy place it can still be.