Friday, June 15, 2018

A letter to Indiana's congressional representatives

I'm going to send this letter today to Senator Young. My congressman, Andre Carson already stands for us on the issues I cite, as does Senator Joe Donnelly. Is this a partisan letter? Only because of the votes cast and actions or non-actions taken.

I'm sharing it here in hopes others will be inspired to send their own letters. Hopefully you agree with at least some of what I'm talking about. A dear friend of mine and I disagree pretty strongly, which is interesting to me because I LOVE her and she's a wonderful person who would help pretty much anyone. I think it's easier to support some of these things when you think it doesn't directly affect you or your family.

I think each of these things -- and many others -- affect us all as human beings. But for today, I'm focusing just on these three...

Dear Senator Young and Republican members of the Indiana congressional delegation,

You don’t know me but I am a fellow Hoosier. I follow current events and I’m a faithful voter. Like Luke Brian, I believe most people are good.

Of late, I have a hard time putting you and most of your colleagues in that “good" category. Here are three reasons why:
  1. Recent actions to separate children from parents who are risking everything, including breaking immigration laws, to escape something even worse in their native country. Wouldn’t you risk everything to help your child? Our ancestors did. Yet you stand silent or are complicit on this issue.
  2. Recent actions to explode the ACA without offering a better way for Americans to get affordable, meaningful health insurance. I know you have great health care, but many of your constituents don't, and you voted to make it harder for them to get it or to keep what they have. Why?
  3. Teacher pay. I realize this is a local issue but you could do something about it if you wanted to. Teachers are one of the biggest influences on our children. I bet you had one who inspired you to give back, to be the leader you are today. Yet you voted for tax cuts for the rich while our teachers work second jobs to keep their heads above water. That's not right.
How about you lead for positive good on just theses three issues? Forget about who wronged whom in past campaigns and political battles. Lead like you’re helping the masses and not your party or your president. I think most Hoosiers would say that's what they thought you'd do when they voted for you.
I’m asking you to build up our country, help bring us back together rather than pull it further apart.
Let's start with the three issues above and move on to others later. If we can focus first on the basic human ones, maybe the others will come easier.


Cheryl Reed
Health insurance user
Former student whose teachers changed her life

Sunday, June 10, 2018

(Most of) What Happens at The Irving, STAYS at The Irving

"Hey Mom! Your boobs didn't pop out!"

That will likely be the quote that sticks with me after our night out at the Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Irving Theater. It was roughly 2:45 in the a.m. and I was stumbling in to the house. Ali and Jeff were still cackling about the sights, the sounds, the excess of the evening. I was standing in the kitchen, gratefully taking off my red, spiky toed heels and Ali turned around to survey my torso.

"Nice," she said. "I would have lost that bet."

Rebecca Weir would likely have also lost the bet. She was walking in from a wedding gig and came in to see Ali and me decked out in our RHPS splendor. We invited her to come, but she was tired after transporting wedding guests to and fro. She did loan Ali some dark lipstick, which perfected her look. There was a part of me that wondered if Becca would pack up and leave our crazy house while we were gone, but I think she's still downstairs...

Even though she didn't quite approve of my ensemble, Ali was largely responsible for the precarious assemblage. When it was clear that I had nothing in my closet that would come close to appropriate RHPS attire, she offered up a sheer top she owns. (She wears a full camisole or tank under it.) I paired it with a black demi-bra.

"Why do you even have something like that?" she had asked before quickly pouncing on the baby doll negligee from a long-passed Valentine's Day I tossed her way.

"I can really wear this outside?" she'd asked. I agreed that if the Captain said yes, she could.

She paired it with her own fishnets, volleyball shorts, black boots and leather jacket. The Captain OK'd it as long as she kept on the jacket. She pulled out feather boas for the two of us, as well.

(She lost the jacket a time or two, once in highly dramatic fashion, but that happened inside the theater and as the headline instructs, I've been sworn to secrecy about it.)

This is us outside the theater with our emcee.

Before the show...
If you're unfamiliar with RHPS, first-timers are identified as virgins and given a sort of hazing ceremony. My trepidation of what that would be turned to terror when my lipstick V was placed on my forehead while Jeff and Ali were marked on their cheeks. I was certain I was marked for extra treatment.

Despite the fact that we were likely the only people in the place who were cold-stone sober, we had a great time . We saw some sides of people we hadn't expected -- including some of Ali's friends from school or Young Actors Theater.

Ali and Jeff were on high alert and ready for the silly antics that involve a real-life show going on as the 1975 movie plays. I had downed a Red Bull, but it did not give me wings. It is possible I nodded off a few times. At a point when the audience can go up and do the Time Warp, I will confess that I stayed behind with hopes of stretching out and catching a few Zs. (I didn't but only because a few others stayed behind as well.)

One quote from inside the theater. We were getting settled and Ali had taken off her jacket and boa claiming she was warm. She leaned over and whispered to me,  "Remember back when you wouldn't let me wear leggings if I didn't have on a shirt that covered my butt?"

She giggled. I reflected on my parenting skills.

Anyway, we had a great time. Jeff and Ali were still sharing quotes from the night when we got home. I was lucky to wash the lipstick off my forehead before I crashed into bed. I woke up to find red feathers on my pillow and no doubt they'll be all over the house for weeks to come.

We got up this morning and got Ali off to the airport for her 10-day trip to Berlin, Krakow, Budapest and Prague. Jeff says part of the reason he was OK with being out so late the night before was to give her a great send-off and to also get her to sleep on the plane so she can better deal with jet lag. I think he just wanted to go to the show....

I'm pretty sure I'll be napping later. Here she is at the airport, eager to shed us and get to her adventure. One of her friends going along is Navy, who faithful readers will remember as Ali's savior when she broke her collarbone.

Between our similarly campy movie night Friday, Pride and the Irving, she has plenty of tales for her seat-mates. We'll see who keeps a better secret for what went on inside the building...

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Some cars, some gravy, it's all good on 38th Street

We spent most of the day downtown at Pride-related events, but we started the day off at National for the second Cars & Gravy event of the summer. Because we weren't there long, I have more pictures than words. But they're pretty good pictures...

If you have any appreciation for cars, and you're in the area next month, you should totally put this on your list of things to do. It might occupy you for less than an hour or you might find yourself there most of the morning. It runs 8 a.m. to noon.

Cars & Gravy is a neighborhood get-together for anyone who likes cars or gravy or is interested in what's going on inside the bank at 215 E. 38th Street. Vacant for years, the bank was renovated and is now offers community meeting space and will soon be the home of Neal Brown's newest restaurant.

The restaurant will be called Midtown All Day, and if you're lucky, the chef will be serving something yummy inside the building.

The car part of the event is a super casual - which makes it super fun - a potluck of vintage or unusual cars. People drive in with whatever they want to show off.

The gravy part is Old Major Market, a gourmet bacon maker who offers biscuits, gravy and a cup of Joe. That, too, is worth your drive.

And just for fun, there's a fresh-cut flowers vendor in a pretty truck with even prettier (and reasonably priced) flowers. You'll probably meet some new friends.

It's fun to march with the Y.M.C.A!

I think I've said this before, but Indy Pride is one of the most fabulous days of the year. And not because of all the glitter.

It's just a fun day. Everyone is so happy and there's just a ton of silly fun happening everywhere you look. This was our third time to get to walk in the parade -- thanks, Karin Ogden and the downtown YMCA team for letting us join in.

To your left are Ali and Jeff as we began to step off with the truck speakers blaring, what else? "YMCA." I don't know if their letters were off or my shutter wasn't up to par, but you can sort of see the letters if you squint.

Extra points if you sing the song while you scroll.

While we were there, Ali ran into her friend Roxie, who is involved with the local Rocky Horror Picture Show event. Ali got all excited about it and wanted to go.

Jeff, of course, dove right in and he and Ali started singing songs and gyrating in a manner that fit right in with the ambiance of the day.

"I have the soundtrack on one of my cassette tapes," he claimed. "It's Number 156, I think."

Sure enough, when we got home, he pulled it out and played it. It's a 1982 vintage and plays just as well now as it did back then.

You may recall that I am not a rock and roll scholar. In fact, at Pride, when the band played a short round of country music, I was the only one singing. Ali cringed.

But when they covered Shania, it was Ali who said, "Let's go girls.." And we had a  tiny duet.

Despite that, it seems I'm going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show tonight. I've been resting up since we got home.

Oh! Shades of Sugarland at the State Fair. We had just gotten out of the place and were in our car headed home when the tornado sirens blared and there was a temporary evacuation.

Since the Sugarland disaster in 2011, Indianapolis doesn't eff around anymore when storms are sighted. There had been a report of a funnel cloud north of the city. We were blessed with good timing, but a lot of folks were just getting in, a lot more were inside, and they all must have gotten soaked.

Our friend Jeph got stranded along the canal underneath West Street. It was en route to the Eiteljorg, which was the evacuation site . Once the rain ended, the festival resumed, but it was a bit of excitement.

Imagine all the glitter that got washed off in the rain. Sad. Then again, it was crazy hot so the rain might have felt good.  It's been dry for hours now, not that I'd know as I've been resting my delicate self.

I was a little surprised that Jeff agreed to this midnight movie request.

Ali leaves for a 10-day, 4-country European tour with school tomorrow. Jeff is wringing out every bit of time he/we can have with her before she goes. (I'm one to talk as she and I saw a movie -- "But I'm a Cheerleader" -- at Newfields last night. )

Also playing in her favor for tonight is the fact that Jeff knows every word, bump and grind of the soundtrack of Rocky Horror.

Ali thinks we'll need fishnets and eye-liner. I'm hoping she means for the two of us...

Monday, June 4, 2018

Used but Useful

We inherited a lot of stuff when we moved into our house, and I keep finding treasures like this fun little metal tray and a gazillion - give or take a zillion or two - nails, screws, bolts and washer preserved in old jelly jars.

We only met Emil Gelb a few times, but every time we find something useful, or something that makes us shake our heads, we think of him fondly. (Among the treasures he left that didn't make the "keep" pile was enough dry-cleaner plastic bags to stuff a mattress or six.)

Two of the best things were lawn chairs. The old kind with woven strips. We have decided they're at least 60 years old because they're super sturdy and don't fold. They went perfectly with the house until some of the webbing started to give way to age.

Our neighborhood had a yard sale and I found some things down the street that I thought my sisters would want. Our neighbors Don and Patty Holtz actually knew Mr. Gelb, the original owner of our house.

Don and Patty were giving away some lawn chairs of the same ilk as Mr. Gelb's but more modern. As Jeff and I argued over whether they needed to come live at our house - Jeff reminded me of our years-long plan to re-web the inherited chairs and I reminded him of the years-long part, which inspired Don. He had spare webbing that he was trying to get rid of.

So we spent most of Saturday afternoon fixing the chairs. It required only one trip to the hardware story and we didn't even get into an argument over how to do it. It was a major milestone in the Reed family joint home improvement projects.

We had enough good strips to keep one chair in its original form for a little while longer. The green and white one is a combination of Don's old webbing and a few new white strips we had to buy. You'll find us on the front porch in them for the rest of the summer toasting both the Gelbs and the Holtzes.

It's been an eventful couple of weeks. My niece, Rebecca Weir, has moved in for a little while as she takes a couple summer classes at Butler University. She'll be back in university housing in the fall, but for now, we're having a lot of fun with her her. Via Netflix, she and Ali are introducing me to Parks & Recreation, which I somehow missed the first time around.

They made French macaroons today. Becca was recovering from her Organic Chemistry test and Ali is working on a project for our neighbor, Kris, who's father passed away. If they keep this up, I may not make it through the summer without needing to buy new clothes.

 Last weekend, we spent some time at Queen Lynn Sinex's lake with John and Lisa Vielee. While it wasn't especially taxing, day drinking is apparently not a skill either Jeff or I have acquired.

Ali and her friend Nikki hit the water almost as soon as we go there. It was super fun and I woke up in time to come in 2nd in the pool for who would win the Indy 500.

We started off this weekend with a trip to Newfields, formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art where we were going to watch "The Phildelphia Story" on the outdoor movie screen. Weather sent us inside, but it was still a lovely time with our friend Clay Miller.

It was a fitting prelude to our dive into restoring vintage chairs, although the movie is likely older than the chairs.Ali was a good sport hanging out with old people and even said she liked the movie, although if she had to choose between Katherine Hepburn and Clay's chicken salad, I think she'd choose the salad...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I may be turning into the Lupine Lady

It's a wonderful book, and if you have a little one, you should get it.
Back when Alison was small and we went home to visit our Maine family, she would make a beeline to the stack of books Grammie would have waiting in her bedroom. Some were stories Grammie had bought for Jeff, Jen and James. Others were more recent.

For several years, Ali's top three requests -- first to be read to her and later for her to read to someone or even to herself -- were The Color Kittens (A Little Golden Book), Leroy the Lobster and The Lupine Lady.

The Lupine Lady is about an old woman in Maine who, when she was a little girl, had told her sea captain grandfather that she wanted to be just like him: to travel the world and have adventures and then live beside the sea. He'd told her she could do all of that, but she had to do one more thing, as well.

 "There is one more thing you must do, you must do something to make the world more beautiful," the sea captain said.

Years later, she passes his admonition along to her young niece, who wants to be just like her.

The Lupine Lady, AKA Miss Rumphius, didn't do her last task right away, but once she'd begun, she kept at it. She scattered lupine seeds across Maine like Johnny Appleseed did with apple tree seeds across the Midwest. Which is how she earned her nickname, a reputation as possibly the craziest and oldest woman in the world, and credit for the  non-native flower's proliferation across The Pine Tree State.

Ali always teared up when we talked about how the lupines outlasted Miss Rumphius, but that she had left a beautiful legacy. We'd talk for a little while about what we would do to make the world more beautiful before the kittens, Blush and Hush, or Leroy and his friend, Crabby Crab, or other books caught her attention and we needed to check in with them.

All this to tell you that I came across some lupines for sale a week before Mothers' Day. I'd never seen them in Indiana, and I bought one. I suggested a couple more would be a nice gift for the holiday, thinking I might need more than one if I'm to get them to take hold.

Apparently I should have bought more when I was there because Jeff spent most of last Saturday scouring the flower and hardware stores across Hell's Half Acre for more. I didn't even ask him if he was checking for the elusive flowers at any craft beer or fancy liquor stores -- that's how good a wife I am...

Happily, he finally found some, and they're safely in the ground. They're tiny compared to the statuesque one I found, but we have all summer for the little ones to catch up.

I probably won't end my days living by the sea -- though I could totally be down for that. I haven't yet explored as much of the world as I want, but I have time for that, too. And I'd argue long and hard that by producing Ali, I have most definitely made the world more beautiful. Any other lasting, physical efforts will likely be in flower form.

The first lupine, a week before the irises bloomed.


In other news of late, Jeff and Ali and I took a walk around the neighborhood, something we haven't done as a trio in a while. We used to do it almost every evening in good weather. She brings a ball and we -- mostly her and Jeff -- play catch. I'm not as committed to the game as they are. And sometimes I carry wine.

They started their in-the-street game when Jeff had the crazy idea that she would love T-ball and he could help develop her arm. She didn't fall in love with T-ball but she did develop a decent arm. On this walk, we discovered a bucket in the middle of a street that marks a currently small sinkhole. It made a good target.

Alison, the T-baller.

If you look closely, you can see the yellow ball about to enter the sinkhole bucket. Let's  hope that thing doesn't spread...
Ali is much more dedicated to her baking/cooking craft than ball. She gifted me with jewelry and banana-walnut pancakes. It was a lovely day, made better with their company and the emergence of my irises, many of which came from my mother's yard. They seem to like  2018.

My mother's mother and one of her sisters were named Iris, so I like to see them bloom for a lot of reasons.

Side note: My Aunt Iris, for reasons unknown to me, had the nickname "Jiggy" and in any story about my mom's side of the family, usually had an "Aunt Jiggy" reference. Jeff has had a hearing issue for a long time, but it was only at her funeral, several years after he'd met her, that I discovered he had always thought we called her "Aunt Ziggy." (This may only be amusing to me, so skip this paragraph if you didn't giggle a little...)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Blooms are awesome; roots are more important

Spring has apparently decided to do more than stick its head in the door, and my yard is awash with color. Thanks to my botanical strategery, we'll have splashes of yellow, purple, pink and magenta for next few weeks before a wave of orange and different shades of yellow displaces the early bloomers.

The flowers are a diversion from the mangy lawn that one day will get serious attention, which I'm sure my neighbors will appreciate. But that's another story.

Most of the plants I have on purpose in my yard are perennials -- phlox and daffodils, hostas, black-eyed-Susans and day lilies, flowering ground cover and lamb's ears, hens and chickens, grape hyacinth, iris, bee balm -- which pop up every year without me having to do anything to them. I should have a ton of tulips but the damn squirrels have ferreted out just about every bulb I've ever planted.

The magnolia that came with the house and its sister tree next door provide different shades of pink and if my lilac ever blooms, it should be a huge pop of purple in front and back. When it's all in full bloom, it's kind of awesome.

I'm a huge fan of perennials because the more serious upfront costs have an endless and amazing ROI. Annuals are fun bits of different colors and petal shapes to mix in, but they're one-and-done kind of plants. They don't dig their roots in deep. They don't keep coming back to enrich and beautify your life just when you need them most even when you've kind of forgotten about them.

Good friends are like perennials. They're rooted deep. They're there even when you can't see them, don't think about them. Even if your level of care and feeding would shrivel less-hardy stock.
One case in point: Debbie Ellis Lubelski. Back in high school, she and I went together like peas and carrots as Forrest Gump would say.

We were country kids, so we spent a ton of time outdoors with horses and dirt bikes. We tore up the back roads in her little red Chevette. We were going to go to Purdue University together, get our degrees and work for National Geographic. I'd write and she'd take stunning photographs. We were going to travel the world.

In reality, I didn't get to Purdue, but life worked out fine for this Sycamore. Deb, however, graduated from Purdue, where she met and married a great guy (hence the Lubelski portion of her name.) They have two sons, and they both work at Purdue in science-y jobs I can't describe. David works in a clean room where you can kill yourself with chemicals if you're not careful. Debbie oversaw greenhouses and is about to go back into lab work. They're super smart and probably have done things that have made your life better or safer.

Aaron has graduated and lives out-of-state doing important research. Adam is finishing a nursing degree at Purdue. Other than an occasional visit over the years, Deb and I have kept in touch largely via Facebook despite not living that far apart. But when I messaged her to say Ali was interested in Purdue and ask if she would have any time at all for a personal tour of the place, she didn't hesitate.

Deb didn't just give us a tour; she wore the hell out of us.

We'd had a great group tour earlier in the month, which gave Alison a glimpse of some of the labs. The Lubelski tour went from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or so, and we were in and out of places I bet some students don't even see -- certainly not as high school juniors.

And while it had been years since we'd seen each other, it didn't seem like decades had whizzed past us once we re-united. The last time I'd seen David, we decided, was at their wedding.

I'd been to Deb's baby shower for Aaron, her oldest, but I'd not met Adam at all. But it didn't seem to be an issue.  He met us for lunch and then stuck around to show us places he haunts on campus - places he thought Ali might want to know about if she goes to Purdue. He and Ali took off a couple of times on their own, leaving the old folks to catch up and rest weary knees.

At one point, another student was taking us to some chemistry labs and Adam was peeling off to go study. I remarked about how amazing it was that he was so willing to take so much time to trot us around. Debbie thought I was talking about the female grad student who was ahead of a few steps with Alison. She quietly corrected me on my pronoun choice.

"I meant Adam," I said, which set us off into a laughing fit that made me remember a time her mom was driving us to an away basketball game and someone (it was probably Debbie) said, "I got gave a pig."

Debbie's dad was a pig farmer, so it makes sense that a porcine transaction would have been a topic of conversation. It makes sense that she would have said but I don't remember  the details. Just that the sentence's grammatical incorrectness made us explode in laughter that must have driven her mother to the edge of insanity. You probably had to be there to get the joke, but my stomach still aches from laughing about it.

Which brings me to my actual point. In my garden of friends, Debbie is a perennial. How many friends you haven't seen in decades would take a day off work to cart around you and your kid around a college campus? And bring along her husband and kid because it was long past time that you got to know them? And whose spouses you've barely met would make time for you like that? I hope you have some because they're awesome.

It was an amazing day. We had department heads, grad students, undergrads, scientists who took time out of their day to show us around. We saw mass spectrometry and electron microscopes being used, a mice lab where the woman running it showed Ali how to inject DNA into embryos that would be implanted in mice as part of her research into killing tumors.

Another lab was working on super secrete defense stuff. We were in a greenhouse with a guy who is trying to figure out how to keep e. coli out of our salad bowls. We were about done when someone mentioned electron microscopes and Deb said, "You want to see some?"

"Uh, yeah," Ali said as if it was crazy to think she wouldn't.

So we popped into another building where a woman thought for a second about who was doing what with the equipment in that area. She walked us back to an area where two guys were using one of the microscopes. These aren't the desk top microscopes you may remember from high school. They each have their own room and they kind of reminded me of a submarine periscope. They're huge and they give you an atomic-level view of whatever it is you're examining.
Our guide decided that the first viewpoint wasn't good enough, so she grabbed a tissue sample and gave Ali a closer look at it using a different electron microscope in a room across the way.

Ali geeked out and talked science with more people than we will remember. Many of them offered up their contact information if she wanted to stay in touch. On the way home, I said something to Ali about how fun it was for me to watch her talk science with these folks who are conducting what could be truly life-changing research.

"I was glad I could hold a conversation," she said. "It was super cool."

It was super cool, and made possible only because of the generosity of my old friend and the favors she and her husband called in from their network of friends at Purdue. So if their credentials aren't enough for you, there's that.
Oh. I said Deb wore the hell out of us. Here's my evidence. When we got back in the car to go home, Ali curled up and was dozing before we got off campus. I woke her up a few minutes later when I stopped to get gas and a Red Bull, without which neither the Mustang nor I would have made it home.

I'm fortunate to have met friends like Debbie everywhere I've been. The grape hyacinth in my yard came from my friend Cindy Athey's yard. Every year when it pops up, I think about her and wish we saw each other every day like we used to. I have peonies out back that my former neighbor wanted me to transfer so she can some visit them one day. My day lilies and irises are from back home.

The great thing about friends and perennial flowers is they don't have to always be in bloom to be part of your root system.