Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Rally Good Day

"Hey, Mom. Why didn't you want me to go to that rally after the election but when you want to go to a rally, it's OK?"

Ali asked me that question this morning as we were preparing to go downtown to the #WomensRallyIndy, She wasn't snarky. She wasn't mean. And it was a fair question.

She'd wanted to join an anti-Trump rally the day after the election and I'd told her that I didn't think she should. "We don't like the outcome of the election, but we have to respect the process and the office," I'd said.

"But you said rallies don't really make a difference," she reminded me as she busted me well and proper.

I had said that. And at the time, I think I meant it. I'd like to throw myself on the mercy of the liberal court and say I wasn't in my right mind that Wednesday. But the truth is I've been lazy. I've been apathetic. I've not been willing to inconvenience myself.

I do still believe that we have to respect our elective process and respect the office holders whether they're our candidates or not.  I also hope we get to the bottom of the Russia business, but unless and until we do, we have a president and we need to get to the business of governing. And that means all of us.

"The difference between that rally and this one," I said, "Is that we're not protesting the actual president. We're working within the system to be heard, to stand up and say these are rights we're willing to fight for and that our elected leaders need to know we care this much."

She accepted my answer, but I think the wheels are still turning in her smart little head. And while she wasn't excited about getting up this morning, we were both extremely happy we joined the 7-10,000 people who gathered at the Indiana Statehouse to stand up for women's rights.

I have Susan Kessler to thank for the idea of biking downtown and for our awesome shirts, which she revealed New Year's Eve. (This is why you should surround yourself with smart people; I keep hoping the smart rubs off.)

Are the shirts a little obnoxious? Maybe. But the "Don't Tread on Me" is a favorite of the right wing. If they really don't want anyone to tread, they should think about that when it comes to basic women's rights.

It was a glorious day for a bike ride and the rally itself was a love fest. The people were awesome and the police presence -- out in full force -- had little to do but read some awesome signs.  Highlights of the day:
  • "Will you take a picture of me with my daughter?"  If I heard that once, I heard it a dozen times. It was so awesome to see generational activism. And teenagers happy to be hanging out with their mothers.
  • "Where's the Rapture when you need it?" #PentecostalSarcasm
  • The emcee diverted from regular programming to announce a credit card had been found and would its owner please come get it.
  • People kept asking if they could take pictures of our shirts or get one of their own. One guy said he wanted to show his neighbors: "They're Tea Party people."
    • "I would normally be freaked out if a stranger wanted to take a picture of my boobs," Ali said. "But I'm OK with this."
  • It truly was an uplifting experience. We saw a ton of friends. One, who I'd not seen in too long, and only saw for a nanosecond today, caught my attention as we bobbed and weaved throughout the crowd. 
    • "I KNEW you'd be here," she said.  (Ditto, Sarah...)
  • As we were heading to our bikes, we passed three commercial buses. A guy was getting supplies out of the bottom of one of them and I asked him where they'd driven in from. "Bloomington," he said. And then we saw each other. "John!" We blathered on for a while. I introduced him to my daughter. "Hi, John, I'm Ali," she said. He introduced us to his wife and friend.  It was only as we walked away that I had a V-8 moment.  "Umm. Ali. I wasn't thinking. I should have introduced you properly. That was the mayor of Bloomington."
  • We were taking a group photo when a young girl with a Trump-Pence sign walked into it. Ali asked if we could ask her to step out but I didn't want to. "That's what this is all about," I said, but I asked her why she supported her candidates. "Because conservatives aren't being allowed to speak and our rights are being taken away she said. 
  • I hope I was as kind as I intended to be when I said, "But that's not true. Look around. No one here is telling you to stand down. We all get a voice." She nodded and did take a look around. It might be the Pollyanna in me, but I swear she was seeing something new out there.
    • Later, Ali and I talked about how brave it was for her to enter the estrogen-strong crowd.
  • Another example is the attendance of a woman who voted for Trump but made a point to drive down to add to the signal that women's rights are equal rights.

Maybe we all CAN get along. So here's to taking part in our democracy and kicking apathy to the curb. Go America!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hey, Dad!

Alison got it into her head that she needed to make a Civil War recipe. Her AP US History class is deep into the Civil War and she's getting into it. Over the years, she's made French macaroons and creme brulee for French class and rainbow cupcakes or her GSA group and assorted other themed delights.

So for next week's history class, she made these things called "Beaten Biscuits." Ingredients are sparse, as befitting an army on the run or folks with highly limited resources: flour, sugar, salt, shortening and ice water. You make this into batter and then beat it flat for 20 minutes before you bake it.

Personally, I think it was the beaten part that attracted her to the dish. So she had more fun than she should have pounding that thing flat. They look like a thick sugar cookie or a flat biscuit. A generous sprinkle of confectioner's sugar saves them, I think. Just out of the oven they're not bad.

So she was finishing up the cookies when her father wandered by. "Hey Dad. Did you ever have hardtack when you were in the Army?" she asked, totally serious.

He looked at her. Took a breath and said: "No, Alison. I was not in the Civil War. Or the Continental Army for that matter."

I just laughed.

Unlighting it up

When I start hoping the Captain will come home to catch me doing wacky home improvement, I know I've overextended my home maintenance abilities. Today's adventure had me up on the roof in an attempt to clear the trees of the last of the Christmas lights.

I can usually overcome being the shortest person in the house. We have ladders and step-stools and chairs, the neighbors brick wall -- all kinds of things I can use to gain some height. A few  years ago I bought Jeff the best ladder on the planet and I stashed it in the garage recently knowing I would need it to get the rest of the lights down.

The Captain (and possibly others) tends to look with disdain on my height achievement methods. I have yet to explain to him that when I'm struck with the need to tackle a project, I HAVE to do it. It's like having leftover dessert in the house. You can't go through the kitchen without finding yourself with a fork in your hand and half the pie gone when all you meant to do was go to the bathroom.

Which is why I start most of my home improvement projects when he's away. And every Sunday morning, he's away playing basketball.

When I went out to get the newspaper, it seemed like a warm front had moved in as opposed to the ice apocalypse the weather folks had predicted. So as soon as I'd gotten caught up on world events, I put on my sneakers, got my ear muffs and gloves and headed for the ladder. Everything was fine until I actually got up there.

I don't know if it was icy or mossy but there were parts of our roof that are definitely slippery. But I'm still fairly nimble.  That and I live in fear of the day the Captain comes home to find me splayed out in the bushes like a rag doll.

Our house is a ranch. So even if I did fall down and the bushes didn't soften the blow, I figured I wouldn't die. And probably someone would find me before too long.

The trees in front of my house are scrawny, ugly fir trees I'd like to see gone. Jeff and Ali disagree. And it was the two of them who'd draped Christmas lights all over them. One of the geniuses had decided it wasn't enough to drape them artfully on the low branches; he/she/they decided the top branches needed to have the cords triple wrapped around forks and nodes that were way out of my reach.

I remedied this by using the cords to pull the branches toward me until I could grab the suckers. I slipped a bit, slid a bit and may or may not have done lasting damage to a few of the less hardy branches. I tried using a fallen branch to snag an out-of-reach cord, as well. I got a mouthful of fir tree with that attempt. And I didn't come close to dislodging the cord.

I considered getting the clippers to cut the branches I couldn't reach, but that would have involved getting down and back up, and while I wasn't giving up, I knew that once my feet hit the ground, common sense might return and keep me from climbing back up.

And yes, my brain kept replaying  the warnings from NBC's Chris Clackum and Angie Hicks in a TV consumer news segment about decorating dangers that I'd helped produce right before the holidays. But I was being very, very careful. And I'm nimble like a mountain goat.

At one point, I slithered like the Grinch to get under some branches and around others to get to the trunk. I used it to get upright and was on my tip-toes, stretched across the back of the tree just millimeters away from the cord I need to pull around. That's when the roof slime almost got me.

I'm happy to report that my strategy of using the tree to brace or stop my fall worked like a charm. I maybe hadn't counted on the amount of sap and tree debris that would come with Mother Nature's safety net, but hey: I've long been accused of being a tree hugger. Now I can actually say I am.

As un-Disney Princess that I am, I will admit that was at this moment  that I had an image of the Captain pulling in the drive, slamming open his car door and belting out a "Goddammit, Cheryl!" before scrambling up to pull me back to solid ground.

No such luck. So I got my own damn self untangled from the tree and off the roof.

By the time I'd cried "Uncle," I had fir tree twigs and greenery in my hair, my underpants and possibly in my left eyeball. My right shoulder feels like it might have separated from wherever it's supposed to lodge and my thighs are still trembling from the trips up and down that damn ladder.

My mission to unlight the night had begun a few weeks ago when I got about 12 feet of the total 540 feet of lights down. I gave up this morning with four of the 3-feet-long strings still dangling from the trees.

Oh, the Captain, my Captain wasn't  thrilled when he got home but he helped me anyway. Now I have to wind the lights back on their wheels and hide them away for a few months. Or forever.

One more note:  I don't know how long I was on the roof scrambling about, but I think I deserve more love than my FitBit gave me.

Just for the adrenaline rush, I think I deserved more than the 2588 steps gave me as I was risking my life so the neighbors don't have to see holiday lights until spring.

Maybe I should just be thankful I didn't come away with a surgical scar to compare with Grandpa's...

Monday, January 2, 2017

New year, new hardware for Grandpa

For the first time in 20 years or so, Jeff and I spent New Year's Eve apart. We weren't angry at each other and I was wholeheartedly happy that he was sitting bedside with someone else. But it was a little weird not being with him.
 He'd stayed behind in Maine because Grandpa had a fall on Christmas morning, which landed him in a surgical unit that night. He emerged with hardware in his hip and a stint in a rehab hospital. The doc says Gary should be ready for our beach vacation come late March, so there's hope on the horizon.

Ali and I have spent our days swinging between laying around like dogs, taking down and organizing the Christmas decorations. We made a Goodwill trip and managed to get her to swim practice and me to the gym but if we weren't doing chores, we were laying about. It was pretty awesome.

Some stuff we learned while on vacation:
  1. Reindeer games can be fun but you need fully inflated antlers and the "deer" has to bow his/her head to give the ring tossers a viable shot.
  2. Triple A services follow the driver, not the car. So if your adult son is stranded solo in your car, even a 29-year member is not entitled to service if said member is not in the car.
  3. If a 29-year member is outraged enough, he will get service extended as a courtesy.
  4. Mainers are really nice. While Jeff was stranded, every person who passed by him offered help, and one not only offered to follow him home to ensure he got there, he actually did when they discovered that he lived a couple streets over.
  5. Alison, a huge fan of Auntie Jen, learned they do not share musical taste. A ride in Jen's car is a flash back to the 80s.  Billy Idol's "Flesh as Fantasy" was the tipping point. "Auntie Jen has weird music. It's not as bad as your country music, but man."
  6. It pays to use small airports. If you leave your driver's license in the dish at Security, the TSA folks will call you on the P.A. system to drag you back to retrieve it.
At our annual Christmas Eve at the Chinese buffet, Alison ate so many crab legs even she was embarrassed. The next evening as we left the hospital and were talking about where to have dinner, Jeff suggested we go back there. "I can't go back there, they'll recognize me," she said.

I don't have many pictures from NYE, which was much more fun than I'd expected as a solo participant. Ali had a friend over. Cory is the only one we know who can challenge - and even beat her - at Mario Cart so they gave the Wii a workout.

Eric and Tracy drove up even though Jeff wasn't going to make it back before the ball drop. I though the four-hour drive was an indication of real friendship until I realized she left behind an enormous tin of chocolate. 
We'd planned to get back to the days when we rotated hosting a gourmet food fest and high-end champagne extravaganza.  Jeff's absence was noted - we called him a couple times and he informed us he was having Chunky soup and craft beer. We managed better fare. We dropped by Susan and Jeff's party as well, which kept us out well past my bedtime.

Jeff came back New Year's Day, so we've had a couple days before having to go back to work. We scored with a Jenna sleepover tonight so that's livened up things around here.

 Happy new year, everyone! Here's hoping for good health, happiness and great friendship in the coming year.