Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On My Honor its the Hodgepodge Volume 72

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge. So glad you decided to play along today...everybody's welcome in the HP! Answer the questions on your own blog or facebook page then add your link at the end of my post. Be sure to check out what everyone else had to say too.

Here are my answers-

1. What's the last job you did that required elbow grease?

Cleaning my cooktop. I hate that job and normally hubs takes care of it because he excels at it and also because he kind of likes jobs that require elbow grease. Yay hubs!

2. March Madness, aka the men's Division I basketball championship, is nearing an end...what sort of 'madness' has your house seen this month?

Well the travel bookings have been a little on the 'mad' side in March. I've spent the past month booking air and train transport and/or accommodations for Easter, Daughter2's university graduation, plus a post graduation vacation. Oh, and we've also leased an apartment for daughter2 for post college life. Plus, we've actually traveled. I know! You'll have to wait for April to hear all about that.

3. What's your favorite shop for browsing?

There's a little gift shop in the next town over that I like to wander around in when I have time. If we're talking about the mall I'd say Williams Sonoma or Nordstroms shoe department.

4. Is there ever a time when giving up makes sense?

Tough question. I think it all depends what you're giving up on. Marriage? A mortgage you can't pay? A wayward child? I can't lump all these eggs into the same basket. I'm sure the answer to the original question is yes, but only sometimes, not always.

5. What's a song you love that contains the name of a city, state or country in its title?

You know I can't choose just one, right?

Hotel California by the Eagles
Carolina in My Mind by James Taylor

And of course Please Come to Boston by Dave Loggins... 'cuz I am the number one fan of the man from Tennessee.

6. When did you first begin using a computer?

I can't remember exactly what year it was but sometime in the mid-90's. I do know I wasn't on it much. Back then my girls mostly played Oregon Trail and used the paintbox. I don't think I really 'got it' in those early days.

As opposed to now when I'm a technological wizard.

7. Did you buy girl scout cookies this year? What's your favorite?

I did buy girl scout cookies this year. My plan was to send them to my girls but they both bought some on their own. Hmmm...what to do now? Ha. My favorites are Samoas and Tagalongs.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm participating in the April A-Z blog challenge again this year. I loved it last year and really enjoyed the alphabet theme. It's not too late to sign up and join the party. Click the A-Z button on my sidebar for more details and be sure to watch for my posts from A-Z beginning April 1st. Let me know if you are playing too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 72

It has been a busy week here on this side of the pond. Not too busy to post the Hodgepodge questions though. Come back tomorrow so you can link answers with the whole wide world. Or at least this little corner of it.

1. What's the last job you did that required elbow grease?

2. March Madness, aka the men's Division I basketball championship, is nearing an end. What sort of 'madness' has your house seen this month?

3. What's your favorite shop for browsing?

4. Is there ever a time when giving up makes sense?

5. What's a song you love that contains the name of a city, state or country in its title?

6. When did you first begin using a computer?

7. Did you buy girl scout cookies this year? What's your favorite?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring is in the Hodgepodge-Vol 71

Welcome to this springtime edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. All are invited to play along, just be sure to add your link at the end of my post. Here are my answers to this week's questions-

1. The first day of spring is here-do you enjoy working in the yard? Weeding, raking, mowing, planting...your favorite springtime garden chore? How about your least favorite?

I do enjoy working in the yard. There are times when my allergies get the best of me though and once the eyes begin to itch and water my love of the game is lost. Planting is my favorite garden chore and raking my least favorite. I like the idea of raking up a pile of leaves and brush but the actual act not so much.

2. What puts a spring in your step?

Knowing my girlies will be home for the Easter weekend. Knowing we have a family beach week on the books for later this spring. Being their mom.

3. Describe a time when you had to spring into action.

Have I ever told you about daughter2's penchant for leaping and then looking followed by trips to the emergency room? Yes trips....with an s. As in more than one. She instantly popped into my head when I read this question because for every trip we took to the ER there were at least ten I prevented with my ninja like reflexes. She was too adorable though, wasn't she?

Still is.

4. We're having carrots for dinner...would you prefer yours raw or cooked?

Oh boy. It seems I'm a broken record when it comes to anything edible. Are you surprised to learn I love them both ways?

5. Do you take the shampoos and other sundries from your hotel room when its time to check out?

I love the small conditioners and hand lotions but I normally only take them if I've broken the seal. We stay in a lot of hotels and I just don't need that many little bitty bottles of stuff.

6. What's the most enjoyable team or club you've belonged to and what was it that made it so?

I think its a toss up between my college sorority and the women's club I belonged to in the UK. Different stages of life but both were groups of talented women who walked with me through periods of great transition in my life. They sprinkled those years with lots of love and laughter and I hold both groups close in heart always.

7. Is cloning a sign of progress?

Should we do something just because we can?
Not necessarily.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I like to send my girls little things in the post to brighten their day. Since we have more than a bit o' the Irish in us I sent them each a little something for St. Patty's Day last weekend.

A card with a note from mom and dad along with a little something 'green'-a Starbucks card. And since it was St. Patrick's day I included a little something 'lucky' too. I found the idea and printable on Pinterest but because I was mailing mine I had to adapt the packaging so it wouldn't be all crumbs upon arrival. I put the Lucky Charms in zip lock bags and then the bag into an airtight plastic container with a green (naturally!) lid. Fun to make and fun to receive.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 71

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog or facebook page then hop back over here tomorrow and add your link so we can all come a -calling.

1. The first day of spring is you enjoy working in the yard? Weeding, raking, mowing, planting-your favorite springtime garden chore? How about your least favorite?

2. What puts a spring in your step?

3. Describe a time when you had to spring into action?

4. We're having carrots for dinner...would you prefer yours raw or cooked?

5. Do you take the shampoos and other sundries from your hotel room when its time to check out?

6. What's the most enjoyable team or club you've belonged to and what was it that made it so?

7. Is cloning a sign of progress?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We're not in Kansas A-ny-more

I've been reading about Senior Class trips on quite a few blogs in recent weeks and that has me thinking about the trips my girls took as high school seniors. I'm sure some folks reading here will gasp and shake their heads and question my wisdom in allowing their participation in these trips. To be honest, if you'd told me before I moved overseas about some of the travel I'd be okay with I'd have said you were crazy.

If you're a regular reader here you know my girls attended high school in England. An international school comprised of students from over 50 countries. A melting pot of cultures, religions, traditions, customs, beliefs, and nationalities.

As I discovered pretty quickly after moving to Europe with a just turned 15 year old and an almost 13 year old, 'kids' are viewed as adults at a much earlier age than they are here in America. They ride public transport alone in the elementary years, take gap years to work and travel around the globe before heading off to university, and in many countries must commit to a career path before they can even be admitted to a university program. In America many, if not most, kids go off to college and eventually come to a decision about a career. Some graduate still not knowing what they want to do.

One of the things (there's quite a list actually) that caught me off guard in those first few months in England was the notion of chaperones. In the US we don't send high school kids on so much as two hour field trip without an army of chaperones and an FBI check. Less than one week after arriving in England my then 8th grader went on a three day pony trekking trip to Wales with her entire grade (60 kids). Their teachers went along too but no parents. No one- adult-for-every-four-kids sort of plan. They kinda looked at me funny in the Middle School office when in my jet lagged stupor I asked the school secretary about chaperones. "Oh sure" she said, 'The four subject teachers are going." Alrighty then.

Flash forward three years and umpteen school trips later. Daughter1 had been to Poland with a theatre group, lived with a complete stranger in Provence for a week, stayed in a hostel in Berlin with her fellow art students, explored Barcelona with a few classmates on another art trip, spent a weekend in Terazin, the former Concentration camp an hour outside of Prague, again with her theatre group, not to mention two trips to Romania with Young Life, both involving 14+hour bus rides thru the mountains of Transylvania. Parents did not attend any of the school trips.

A week before her high school graduation Daughter1 and her classmates took their Senior Trip. They spent a week beachside at an all inclusive resort in Side, Turkey. There were no adults present. Well, other than the kids most of whom were 18.

Did I like this?

Even after three years of world travel a part of me hated the very idea of it. This was my little girl we were talking about. But another part of me was so excited for my daughter. And I suppose a small part of me wished I were 18 years old and on my way to a beach in Turkey with friends.

Did I worry?

Some. It comes quite naturally to me but God in His infinite wisdom used those years in England to teach me a few things in this department.

Did I pray fervently each and every day?

Did they all come back in one piece.

Could something have happened?

Here's the thing-something can always happen. I'm not implying we don't do our very best to protect our children but somewhere along the way they need to develop independence. Travel, especially foreign travel, is huge in this regard. Three short months after this trip I would be kissing my little girl goodbye as she settled into her dorm room on one side of the ocean while I winged my way back to our home on the other side of the ocean. It was in large part her high school experience that elevated her confidence to a level that allowed her to embrace and enjoy this new and exciting, but slightly scary, experience called college. Me too.

Two years later and daughter2's turn rolled around.
Aiya Napa Cyprus this time.

I still have never been to Cyprus.
Or Turkey for that matter.
Five years of travel under our belts now but still, it's my baby.

Daughter2 entered this world with an independent streak but swim meets in Cairo and Paris and Volleyball matches in Antwerp and Frankfut and a week spent living with a stranger in Santiago de Compostela Spain, and two trips to Romania and two more to Bulgaria with Young Life all helped boost and cement her natural confidence.

Three short months after her week in Cyprus there I was again, kissing my baby goodbye on one continent and flying back across the ocean to a newly empty nest. As kids enter the young adult years we are not ever present in the physical sense but I suspect (and hope) that I am ever present in their head. That I have passed along wisdom and good judgement and most importantly a desire to know God's will for their lives and to follow Him.

They took those senior trips and made memories. They also made decisions, some excellent and some that were maybe something less than excellent, but then that's how we learn and grow and become adults. We parents go merrily along our way, raising our children and then BAM, what feels like all of a sudden, we're the crossroad where childhood and adulthood intersect. I think successful parenting means there will come a point when we have to extract ourselves from some aspects of our children's lives and trust that we've given them what they need to meet the challenges of adulthood.

I know there will be people reading this who will think -No way! People who will say 'never! ever! ever! would I allow my 'kids' to traipse around the globe like you did.' All I can say is once upon a time I was that parent. But that was before I was standing smack dab in the middle of opportunities that I never imagined would cross our radar. Would I hold on ever so tightly to children who over time had become more adult than child? Would I keep trying to make an imperfect world a perfect place or would I begin gently releasing them into a world that is less than perfect but which is held in place by One who is perfect? Would I move from the spot I'd held since their births, front and center, to a place beside and behind? No less important a role, still an encourager, sounding board, voice of reason and experience, and their biggest fan?

My girls will tell you that one of the phrases uttered most often around our house during their teen years was this-'perception matters'. Whether you're alone in a crowd of friends on a beach in Cyprus or on a college campus an ocean away from all that you call home, it matters. Perception matters. I'm sure as they are reading that sentence they hear my voice saying it. I like that.

I've never been a parent who goes along with everything under the sun because its the latest thing. I pray long and hard about things large and small in this adventure we call parenting. And it is an adventure. I'm thankful every day for the many life lessons we all learned while living abroad. As it turned out God had more than a few things to say to me.

I had no idea.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lucky You It's Time for the Wednesday Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Everyone's invited to play along...answer the questions on your own blog, add your link at the bottom of my post, and then check out what your neighbors have to say. After you read my answers of course-

1. St. Patrick's Day will be celebrated this coming Saturday. What's a favorite article of clothing you own that contains a touch o' the green?

I love green, its one of my favorite colors especially in decorating. I guess my favorite wearable green is a scarf I own with lots of green, orange and yellow in the print.

2. What's a favorite 'green space' in the town, state or province where you live?

I've written about Highpoint NJ on my blog before....definitely one of my favorite green spaces in our state.

There is more green space in New Jersey than one might imagine if ones only picture of NJ comes from watching programs like Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, or Glam Fairy. Ugh.

fyi-nothing beats the green space in England...

I strolled thru here every day on my walk into town and that's just one little itty bitty village. They know how to do green space across the pond.


3. Do you wish you were taller, shorter, or think you're just about right in the height department?

I like my height. I'm on the tall side of average. Now if you substituted the word weight for height I might have a different answer.

4. What's the surest way for someone to pick a fight with you?

I'm not a confrontational person so it would have to be something pretty significant. I'm more likely to have my feelings hurt than to argue back.

Unless I'm married to you and then I may feel the need to have that last word on occasion. I think I'm still a work in progress.

5. Broccoli-spinach-string beans-peas...of the four your favorite green veg? (Or the one you dislike the least if that first option is too hard for you. I know there are some veggie haters out there).

I love them all but string beans are my favorite veg, green or otherwise.

6. March is National Women's History Month...besides friends, neighbors, and the women you're related to, who's a woman in history you admire and why?

If you've haven't read The Hiding Place I highly recommend. I read her story when I was a young girl and it has stayed with me all my life. She was a woman of amazing courage and her well of faith ran deep. She forgave, up close and in person, people who committed unspeakable acts against her family and the world. She had such wisdom favorite quote is attributed to Corrie ten Boom-'Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.'

7. Keep calm and ___________on.
You fill in the blank.

Keep calm and write on.

Something of a mantra for me this year.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Spring is in the air and I am loving these temps! Course its only March and it has been known to snow in March in this part of the country. April too but shhh!...don't say that out loud. Sunday afternoon the thermometer hit 50 degrees and bright sunny clear blue skies made the day feel full of possibility. We spent the afternoon here, lounging round our backyard firepit-

It was a perfectly perfect way to spend an almost spring day.

Hubs and I were not the only ones who thought so.

"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want-oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache you want it so!~Mark Twain

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Questions for the Hodgepodge- Vol 70

Below you'll find the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Pop back in here tomorrow to post your link and share answers with all the lucky readers.

1. St. Patrick's Day will be celebrated this coming Saturday...what's a favorite article of clothing you own that contains a touch o' the green?

2. What's a favorite 'green space' in the town, state, or province where you live?

3. Do you wish you were taller, shorter, or think you're just about right in the height department?

4. What's the surest way for someone to pick a fight with you?

5. Broccoli-Spinach-String Beans-Peas...of the four, your favorite green veg? (Or the one you dislike the least if that first option's too hard. I just know there's some veggie haters out there.)

6. March is National Women's History Month...besides friends, neighbors and the women you're related to, who's a woman in history you admire and why?

7. Keep Calm and ____________on.
You fill in the blank.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, March 12, 2012


When I say Reminiscing I'm talking about the song.
Well likely a bit of remembering too because there's always a lot of that on my blog, but mostly I'm thinking of the song.

It's been playing in my head since Friday night when we went to see Little River Band perform in a nearby smallish venue. I love to see/hear live music in these types of settings and we were on the third row so super close to the stage. We chatted with the other couples in our row while waiting for the show to begin and since this was our first time in the venue a woman sitting nearby warned us it would be loud. Ha. We're okay with loud. I might like to play my music kinda loud. ahem. My girls are laughing right about now.

fyi-it wasn't too loud.

Little River Band was originally a group of musicians from Australia who were popular in the late 1970's and early 80's. Even if you don't recognize the band name you probably know some of their music. Band members have changed some in the course of 30 years but their wonderful sound remains the same.

30 years?
That can't be right, can it?

Has it really been 30 years since I was in my lovely dorm room with the built in bunk bed and the cinder block wall and no a.c. listening to Little River Band on something that was not a CD because there was no such thing as a CD?

Nothing in that last sentence dates me, does it?

One thing did make us feel a little bit old. As I said the venue was not huge, a former movie theater with the screens removed to make way for a good sized stage. Most of the crowd was our age, give or take ten years. A couple who appeared to be just a few years younger than us took the seats across the aisle from ours. They were reluctantly accompanied by their tween-aged son who so obviously wanted to be anywhere but there on a Friday night in March. Oh, he was not a happy camper.

How did we know this? Well, let's see, it might have been the fact that he was the only under-25 in attendance, the surly look on his face, the slouch, or quite possibly it was the eye daggers aimed at mom and dad.

Fortunately when he dressed for the evening he anticipated a little bit of what he was in for because when his mama literally leapt out of her seat and ran to the stage and to say this nicely?....shook her groove thing? he was able to pull his hoodie completely over his face. If there had been a hole in the floor he'd have been in it.

His mother was o-bli-vi-ous.
I think she was a lost in 1980 for a minute or ten.
Nothing like watching that to remind you you're not 20 anymore.

One other little fun thing about the evening was that we got to meet the keyboard player...such a nice guy and so talented. Good hair too which is something held in high regard at our house.

Turns out he's from tiny town Virginia and one of our college pals is a mutual friend. This friend sent the keyboard player a facebook message saying we'd be at the show so he looked for us afterwards and we chatted. This wouldn't have happened back in 1980 ya know. We'd have had to stalk the band the old fashioned way.

Time marches on.

It was a fun evening and we were both a little bit hoarse on Saturday.
I'm pretty sure I heard my hubs invite the band to stay at our house next time they're here.

I told you I have to watch him every minute.

Some things never change.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A walk in the park and then some

Sunday afternoon we ventured out for a walk with the dog. I have a website I use to find hikes within 30 miles of our house and it's great because it includes the length and difficulty and also the approximate time required to complete different hikes in the area. In addition, hikers who have taken the various hikes leave helpful notes relating to any issues they ran into along the way. Comments like, 'Lovely walk around the reservoir, didn't make it to the other side as we encountered two bear and felt the need to turn around.'

Like I said-helpful.

Now normally hubs and I are on the same page with this sort of thing but on Sunday it seems we were not. We were both prickly. Actually, hubs was prickly and I responded in kind. He may dispute this point but suffice it to say moodiness was plentiful when we started out.

He was not too keen on this destination from the get-go but I didn't pick up on that until we were en route. Normally hubs is not one to beat around the bush, that's my department. He's more of a tell it like it is kind of guy except for some reason on Sunday he wasn't. Or maybe he was and I neglected to listen which is also a possibility to consider but I'm telling the story so we'll go with my take on the whole thing.

Which always ends well so don't you worry.

We didn't have the sat nav with us so we were winging it a little and as we got closer we could tell this hike wasn't for us. Okay, maybe hubs could tell long before we got close and then when we got close there may have been a little I told you so but whatever, there was too much suburb and not enough woods and space.

Not only that but we couldn't figure out the crazy parking which only made one of us more irritated. We turned around and drove back towards home, each one feeling disappointed and annoyed with the other. It doesn't make sense but that's how married life is sometimes.

It's quite often the little things.

As we were zipping along in our respective silences we noticed a sign with an arrow pointing to a lake and at the last minute hubs turned off and asked if I'd 'seen any trails in this area' and... 'remember when we lived in NJ a long time ago and I used to go to the office this way' and 'there's a sign for a bear crossing!' and giggles and 'oh shoot, I wish I had a picture of the sign' and ever so slowly the tension in the car began to ebb. We wound around and around and over and through, away from the edges and back to the middle. While it wasn't where we thought we were going we did end up in a really beautiful place.

That's also how married life is sometimes.

The trees parted as we came round a bend and there sat Ringwood Manor which has a long history dating back to our #1 President-

Let's not forget to mention the fabulous grounds with plenty of geese to chase-

We rambled and peeked and photographed and as the clock ticked we found our way back to our everyday normal.

Lenape Indians once lived in this area and nothing would make my hubs happier than to stumble across an artifact from those days. They're still finding what the park service refers to as 'new old roads of historical significance' in this park so ya just never know, do you?

We stood where George Washington stood and we thought about that for a while. Ringwood Manor was at one time home to Robert Erskine who managed three iron making plantations from this location and went on to become the army's first geographer and surveyor and General Washington's mapmaker.

I love finding a small slice of history pie on a Sunday afternoon in March.

We laughed at our crazy wannabe circus dog and decided to extend the day, taking the long way home. Suddenly it didn't matter that we weren't sure of our precise location and when or if we'd hit the main highway. We felt our way back...around the lake, thru a little village, stopping for a late afternoon meal, and then finally pulling back into our own driveway.

When you've been married for many years and you're feeling cranky, blah, or just inexplicably touchy its easy to use a sharp tone. It's equally easy to use no somehow expect your other half to read your mind, know what you're feeling and act accordingly. Doesn't work that way.

Will I never learn?

We have choices. Every minute of every hour of every day.
When moodiness rolls in I tend to like to wallow in it for a while.
Not attractive I know, but there it is.
Hubs does not wallow. He likes to put it all out there. No holds barred but then let's move on.

I've learned thru the years that little things in married life are not really so little. Those are the kinds of things that wind up pinging around inside your brain. Little things need to be dealt with before they pile up because we all know what happens when stuff gets stacked too high.

Did you know swans generally mate for life?

Thankfully so did we.

I love that my husband can make me laugh even when I want so badly to be mad. He knows that's what I need to shake a mood. I know that's what I need too, even when I'm too stubborn to admit it.

Sometimes married life really is a walk in the park.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Roaring into the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Volume 69

Last week we were leaping, this week we're roaring. I need some new metaphors but welcome anyway to the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer the questions on your own blog and then add your link to the bottom of my post. Once you've done that you're ready to visit around the neighborhood. Enjoy!

1. Did March come in like a lion or was it something less ferocious in your neck of the woods?

Something slightly less ferocious. We had a little bit of snow on the last day of February but everything had melted by the the time March rolled in.

2. Speaking of lions, which one's your film favorite...The Cowardly Lion (Wizard of Oz), Mufasa (The Lion King), Elsa (Born Free) or Alex (Madagascar). You might notice I left Aslan off the list. Including him would have made this question way too easy for many of you.

I can relate a little bit to the Cowardly Lion who learns that acting in the face of fear is what makes one brave. And I admire the father in Mufasa...'I'm only brave when I have to be.' But if I have to choose a favorite I'm going with Elsa. Mostly because that movie takes me back to my childhood. Made me long for the wide open spaces of Africa and a pet lion cub.

3. What's your favorite spot from which to view the sunrise or sunset?

My front porch~

c. 2009

The water~

c. 2001

4. To what extent is knowledge power and to what extent is truth power? What's the difference?

Wowza, this question requires some unraveling. Having knowledge as opposed to being in the dark certainly arms one with a certain amount of power in certain situations. Raising teenagers springs to mind.

That being said, knowledge may just be a fancy way of saying information. It's really what you do with the knowledge you have that can make you powerful.

As far as truth and power...truth can never be refuted nor does it ever need retracting...the truth is what sets us free and that's powerful.

5. What's something peculiar you've seen recently?

We were in Central Park not long ago and were greeted by this sculpture-

It's 30 feet high and is called 'Tornado'. There was a lengthy explaination posted as to its significance but in the end I saw old rubber tires. Me thinks one man's peculiar is another man's art.

6. Bottled water...your thoughts?

Who else loves the Brita commercial where the lady gives the Eskimo water and tells him it comes from a drinking fountain at the mall like that's something special? So funny.

I don't buy cases of bottled water but I do like to keep some in the frig for convenience sake when we hike. We have filtered water in our frig so its easy to fill up a reusable bottle too. The water in our neck of the woods is super hard and although we have a purifier it doesn't always keep up with the job. I only use filtered water in my coffee maker, otherwise it turns spotty. We could just drink our water right out of the tap and that's true for most of America. I think this is an area where marketing campaigns have ruled the day and successfully convinced us we need bottled water.

7. What's your strongest sense?

Sight. I'm a visual person and of all the senses this is the one I'd miss the most.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The lion question got me to thinking about the movie, Born Free and it seemed appropriate to post this clip here-

The music in that film was so hauntingly beautiful....the lyrics were lovely too. The couple, George and Joy Adamson, who raised Elsa from a tiny cub, sadly died violent deaths. My sister and I loved this movie when we were kids and my own girls loved it too. An African safari is still on my bucket list.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Complete and Utter Madness

If you're looking for this week's Hodgepodge Questions you'll find them here.

Once upon a time I enjoyed following political races and listening to healthy debate. With every passing year and election cycle my enthusiasm has waned until I've gotten to a place where I can barely stand to glance at the headlines. I'm not sure healthy debate even exists in the land of the free and the home of the brave anymore and that makes me so sad.

I turn on the news and the shouting and the arrogance and everyone talking all at the same time gives me such a knot in my stomach I have to hit the mute button, turn it off, walk away. Does anyone listen or does everyone just talk? No need to answer that.

When I hear political ranting I sometimes feel like I'm at a Jr. High lunch table. If these grown adults were my children I'd send them all to their rooms. Just like a 7th grade child who misbehaves they'd be grounded from doing anything more than going to work and coming home. No microphones, websites, talk show circuits. Also included in this mess would be the people who speak on behalf of our elected officials, those who are sent out to do the dirty work, i.e., say the nasty comment, condescend, show the smug face, shake their head at the 'poor uninformed masses'.

We've lost the notion of common courtesy, not just in politics but in America in general. People zealously defend their points of view by attacking with great gusto anyone who dares to differ. The elevator heads straight to the basement too, the lowest place possible, with words like fool, intolerant, and bigot. Remember when those words were reserved for people who really were those things, not just for those with whom you disagreed? The dialogue (I use the term loosely) in recent years has morphed us into a society that has lost its ability, or maybe its will, to come up with solutions to very real and serious problems.

Unless you live under a rock you've no doubt heard been bombarded by the latest brouhaha revolving around a well known radio talk show host and something he said on air. What began as a hearing on whether or not the federal government could legally require religious hospitals/schools to provide contraception and abortion services under the new health care guidelines has deteriorated into some of the most disgusting rhetoric ever. I'm not going to debate here the original issue and I'm certainly not defending the language used by the radio personality but what I will say is this-whatever happened to the original issue? Where did it go? Its been completely lost in all the bickering, name calling, and aggressive co-opting of the discussion for political gain. And so it goes.

A radio personality is not the equivalent of a US Senator or our President. Neither is a pro ball player, an actor, or a circus clown. A radio personality in America can say whatever they want and people can listen or not, change the station, stage a protest, write letters, pull advertising blah blah blah. We're stuck with our elected officials and they are held to a higher standard than a 'celebrity'. Or at least they should be. After all, we pay their salaries. And while I'm on the subject of celebrity, when did we stop thinking for ourselves and start caring so very much about who some current or former politician or other 'famous' person is supporting for office? Think America!

For the most part I steer clear of politics on my blog, and definitely on my facebook page. I really dislike reading anything political on facebook-blech!. Lately my head has felt like it just might explode if I don't scold someone. Politics has descended into madness and I'm not sure we can find our way back. Unless reason and civility return to public discourse I'm afraid we never will.

This post is linked to the One Word Carnival hosted by Peter Pollack.
Go here to read more posts on today's prompt-'madness'.

Questions for the Hodgepodge-Vol 69

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Be sure to come back tomorrow and add your link for all the world to see.

1. Did March come in like a lion or was it something less ferocious in your neck of the woods?

2. Speaking of lions, which one's your film favorite...The Cowardly Lion (Wizard of Oz), Mufasa (The Lion King), Elsa (Born Free), or Alex (Madagascar)? You may notice I left Aslan off the list. Including him would have made this question way too easy for many of you.

3. What's your favorite spot from which to view the sunrise or sunset?

4. To what extent is knowledge power and to what extent is truth power? What's the difference?

5. What's something peculiar you've seen recently?

6. Bottled water...your thoughts?

7. What's your strongest sense?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sometimes The Couch Calls Your Name

We had a quiet weekend.
No place we had to be.
No planes to catch, no bags to pack, no conference calls at 9 PM on a Sunday night.
Nothing. Nil. Nada.

Let's just stop and appreciate that fact for a minute because it's a rare and beautiful thing around here in the year 2012.

Friday morning I had my third camera lesson. The instructor always gives me an assignment for the week and last time I'd written that down in general terms but then I couldn't figure out how to make the camera repeat what I'd done in my lesson.

As my favorite bear would say- 'Oh bother'.

Good thing I'm not being graded.
In my head I'm being graded which is a little bit depressing but I keep plugging away.

I simmered a big pot of vegetable beef soup most of the day Friday so I wouldn't have to cook on Saturday. Or Friday night. You know my rule book says we eat out on Friday nights. Hubs wholeheartedly supports this notion so we went for Thai food which is pretty much my favorite thing.

Saturday morning we lounged. Is there anything better than coffee sipped at your leisure as bacon sizzles and an unmarked day stretches out in front of you? We've learned to savor that sort of morning.

Hubs got a new phone last week and needed a case for it so we made plans to see a movie and then do a little shopping later in the day. It had to be later in the day because we somehow got sucked into watching The Godfather saga, all four of which were running back to back this weekend. We briefly considered chucking our plan to leave the house but we know us a little too well, and while we like a little bit of lounging we don't like a full day of feeling lazy. We hit record and saved Parts 3 and 4 to the DVR.

The movie theatre was a zoo on Saturday afternoon because The Lorax had just opened and everyone and their offspring must have been there to see it. I could go into a small rant here about the inefficiency of the concession stand employees and how it took every ounce of self restraint I had not to leap over the counter and help them but I'll refrain.

We saw Act of Valor. It was so good and stirred up all kinds of emotion in me. Bravery and courage and sacrifice make my eyes water and my heart well up. Go see it.

After the movie ended we walked around the mall. Hubs was spending too much time looking at I don't know what in the AT T store which is how I ended up with a brand new pair of sunglasses. The sunglasses shop was just opposite the phone store and by the time he finally got there I'd tried on no less than 647 pair. I kinda had to buy, right?

We headed for home, back to our comfy clothes and couch and a bowl of vegetable soup, aka comfort food. We watched some more of The Godfather but since we were both nodding off during part 3 we decided to give up and go to bed.

At 8:50 pm.
Not 9 o'clock.
On a Saturday night.

Did I mention we've been going 100 miles an hour here since the first of the year and we needed to hit the brakes? Well that's exactly what we did this weekend. It was riveting stuff to read I know but it can't be all foreign cities and across the sea travel tales around here all the time now, can it? A lot of that will be happening later this spring though, and I feel like I need to rest up. Hubs keeps reminding me I'm going to need to put on my big girl britches for our Asian adventure. seems he's traveled with me before.

I realize I haven't mentioned Sunday but this post is already long and a little bit dull so I'm going to save that for a blurb of its own. Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Innocence Remembered

Davy Jones passed away yesterday. If you're a member of the under 40 set you may have heard this piece of news and thought to yourself, "hmmm...Davy Jones? Wasn't he a character in Pirates of the Caribbean?' Yes he was but as we all know characters don't really pass away, they remain forever and always within the confines of a book or movie.

I'm talking about the Davy Jones. Davy Jones who sang vocals in a band popular back in the late 60's and early 70's known as The Monkees. Davy Jones who was a heartthrob of epic proportion. If you're part of the over 40 set and heard this news you may have felt a touch of sadness and a small wave of nostalgia for a more innocent time. Most women my age will tell you that in their once upon a life they dreamed of walking down the aisle with Davy Jones.

The Monkees were were one of the original 'boy bands' and they made records and had their own tv show. Davy also made a famous guest appearance on another show popular during my tween years which was The Brady Bunch. Marcia Brady had a bona fide crush on him and if you surveyed my peers you'd find pretty much all of them remember this particular episode. It aired in 1971. I was 11 years old and in the 5th grade

Do 5th grade girls still play Barbies because we did. My sister and I had quite a few and when friends joined in they'd pack up their Barbies in the original clunky-chunky black Barbie suitcase and carry them over to our house so we could really have a big game.

One of the things we liked to do was assign each Barbie a boyfriend and the three most fought over were Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, and David Cassidy. This trio of 'teen idols' were all rather boyish in their looks, handsome and neatly dressed, with winning smiles and a twinkle in their eye. They sang pretty harmless stuff about love and life and nobody dropped the F-bomb into their lyrics or called women nasty and derogatory names or wore sunglasses indoors at night (puh-leese!) or talked gangsta when they most assuredly were not anything remotely close.

Oh they may have been dealing with all sorts of yucky stuff behind the scenes but they weren't tweeting it to the universe and they had no fan page on facebook because, duh, there was no facebook. We could innocently crush because if they were abusing drugs or had a foul mouth or demanded a bathtub full of Evian or their hotel room painted black before they'd agree to set foot inside or some other such ridiculousness we never heard about it.

And you know what?
I think that was better.

People like to make fun of that era and granted, the style trends make for an easy target, but I look around at this world sometimes and I long for eleven year old little girls to know the innocence I knew in 1971. There's something to be said for peeling back the layers of life one birthday at a time, to exploring your world bit by bit and not having the entire universe at your fingertips in a google search.

We can't go back. We can't undo technology and I'm not sure I'd even want to if given the chance. I use email daily, write a blog, and I'm on facebook and twitter so obviously I can appreciate some technology. Even so, it saddens me a little to think my future grandchildren will live in a world spinning faster and more furious than we do in the year 2012.

Some days I want to slow it down, add a filter, let us come to the world instead of the other way around.

Days like yesterday when something takes me back to 1971 and suddenly I'm face to face with the memory of my dad mowing the grass on a sunny Saturday morning. The smell of a barbecue grill and fireflies dancing in the dark. The sound of my sister's voice on the telephone, the one with the extra long chord made for stretching and twisting and wrapping as you talked. My brother on his guitar with his bedroom door slightly ajar. The giddy and glorious freedom I felt playing tag with the neighborhood kids in the dusky light of a late summers eve. A sister who was my constant companion and our suitcase full of Barbies.

Daydream believer and a homecoming queen. Imaginations running wild in the safe place called childhood.