Monthly Archives: May 2011

Never Blog about Girdles

Lesson learned.  When you mention pieces of lingerie or undergarments in a blog post, the weirdos come a-callin’.  You end up with some search terms that really make you scratch your head.  I have blogged in the past about interesting search terms that led folks to the Uncommonhousewife here, and it’s still funny to read the terms like free-form poetry:

How long to stay mad at your dog

Talbots mom;

Daffodils come up now its freezing.

Martha Stewart brown alpaca paint

British Airways first class pajamas.

Making girdles,

70s girdle,

Girdle “patricia”,

Retro girdles.

The milk cow urban dictionary

Rainboots puddles

Poems about cheese.

In all, I had 11 separate search terms involving girdles.  Since we are family friendly around here, I can’t mention all of them.  Creepy reprobates.  I’m also still plagued by referrer spam, making the whole “page view” thing rather pointless.  The spam bots aren’t out looking for the girdles, though.  They seem most drawn to the posts for Memorial Day and the Rapture.  Interesting.

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Honor and Remember

O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

 America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

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Honor and Remember

“Here We Mark the Price of Freedom.”

National World War II Memorial, Washington DC

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Still Here. Not Raptured.

It was the end of the world on Saturday, and I missed it.  It seems I was too busy hauling SuzyQ back and forth to chorus rehearsals, and the Rapture passed me by.  Now I have to wait for the next Armageddon.  I think it’s predicted for mid-December of 2012.  I had better get that on the calendar now.

Yep, it was a Tea Cup Ride kind of weekend here, but thankfully, it was the last of that variety for a while.  Chorus season is finished, and baseball ends today.  Maybe now I can finally spend some serious time fooling around with my anniversary present: a DSLR camera.  The thing is massive and kind of scary.  It came with 3 DVDs and a big manual with tiny print.  But I love that there was a 6-step “Get Started” instruction about how to attach the lens, turn the camera on, set the dial to Auto-everything, and away you go. 

The other half of the weekend: staking the tomatoes.

Of course, my intention is to shoot pictures in Auto-nothing.  I have lots to learn.

I have never considered myself artistic.  Musical, maybe; crafty, perhaps, but not artistic.  It’s strange to see this reinvention of myself going on.  Previously, I just liked to take nice pictures to capture a moment.  Now, I want to take better-than-nice pictures that capture emotion.  I would rather shoot everyday smiles or frowns, random sights, typical scenes.  Lately, these are the things I want to get a record of.  Maybe it’s because daily life in our family will undergo huge changes as the kids begin to leave the nest in a year or so.

Anyway, all of a sudden, I’m taking my camera everywhere.  Plus, I’m really into the idea of redecorating the house.  We have no budget for any major remodeling, but we can certainly freshen up paint and window treatments.  I keep a file (actually, more of a pile) of paint chips, fabric swatches, and pages ripped from magazines. I have given very serious thought to hauling about two-thirds of our possessions out to the curb for the Disabled Veterans to take away. 

I guess this is sort of a life makeover.  A lot of the things that were characteristically “me” before just aren’t anymore.  These days, I’m much more Pottery Barn or Coastal Living than Victorian Home.   I’m more into gardening than Girl’s Night Out.  I have abandoned Target and even Kohls for clothes and turned to Talbots and Coldwater Creek and Stein Mart.  And while I still love history, you couldn’t pay me to go back to school for a Master’s degree in history. 

Apparently, midlife crisis for me is about redefining who I am.  I have been Mom and Navy wife for so long, but now that those roles are diminishing, I get to choose the next role.  And it feels like I should say, “And now for something completely different.”  (classic “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”)  Maybe funny and artsy instead of quiet and bookish.  Playing with gadets and working in the dirt of my garden, too.  Definitely still Uncommon, though.

I have a lot to accomplish before the next End of the World.  Pictures to take, walls to paint, things to see, things to do…

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Red, White, and Blue Granola

Tis the season for presidential candidates to announce their run.  So far, there are a couple that were not surprises, one presumed candidate who’s out, one who was never really in but just stirred the pot a little, and a whole lot of others still thinking about it–out loud, in front of cameras.  Here’s to hoping that I won’t have to choose the least pathetic candidate when primary season begins.

It’s probably a very good thing that the field is so wide open because these days, I have a hard time placing myself in any candidate’s camp right away.  When I look over my voting-age years, I see that I have identified, to various degrees, with the red side and the blue side (well, not SO much with the blue side) and everywhere in between.  If I were forced to label myself, I would definitely go with Conservative, but I would qualify my label as “kinda crunchy” or a little bit “granola.”  The Urban Dictionary defines a granola conservative as someone who is politically conservative but has a “healthy suspicion of mass culture.”  This 2009 article in The Wall Street Journal prefers the term, “Whole Foods Republicans,” who “embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics.”  I’m thinking that sort of sounds like me:

  • I was a breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mommy who gave birth one time naturally, no drugs.  So, the natural childbirth was not by choice but because the anesthesiologist was too busy.
  • I homeschool my kids.  One year, I even made up my own curriculum.
  • I know how to bake bread.
  • I’m all about farm stands and buying locally produced food.  You can read more about my opinions on that here.  Basically, I’m in it for the better flavor and health benefits of fresh-from-the-field produce.  I grow my own herbs and vegetables on my patio (with mixed success), and I’m adding more this year.
  • Give me my grass-fed and hormone-free beef and chicken.  It’s safer since the animals are cleaner, and it’s better for me.  Happy cows make better milk and steaks.
  • Waste not, want not.  Let’s conserve energy and reduce our waste output.  I believe we are supposed to be good stewards of the earth and its resources.  I’m THIS close to putting up a clothesline…nothing beats the smell of line-dried sheets.
  • I drive a Volvo, and our other car is a hybrid. 
  • I hate to see trees cut down to make way for new housing developments.  I think public libraries should be a top funding priority for municipalities.  I would love to see more public transportation (fiscally sound, of course) and communities planned for walking to schools and amenities.
  • I graduated from a liberal arts college.  Yes, I’m an intellectual.

So far, it sounds like I’m ready to sign up for “Hope and Change” right?  Here’s where things get complicated.  Mash up all of the above with the rest of my ideology:

  • A strong national defense policy goes hand in hand with world peace.  The military has been my bread and butter since the day I was born.  No one  is going to get past me with the “baby killer” and “no blood for oil” nonsense.
  • The government, the Fed especially, needs to get out of the way and let the individual and the free market rise to the top.  Washington has no business handing out health care or preschool, paying people not to work, telling me what to eat or what kind of light bulb to buy.  Don’t take my tax dollars and spend it on Let’s Move programs or studies on World of Warcraft, jet lag in South American rodents, or internet dating.
  • Individual liberty applies to everyone, that includes the unborn.
  • I’ll conserve energy because there’s something in it for me–less money spent at the gas pump, smaller electric bill, or a warm fuzzy feeling about being a responsible steward of the environment–NOT because the government tells me to.
  • I’m happy to make donations to help out those in need.  By no means does the government have to take money away from me (taxes) and give it to the poor (welfare programs) upon pain of imprisonment.
  • You’re not truly poor if you have a cell phone, cable TV, a car, name-brand sneakers, or if you’re a regular at McDonald’s.  A whole lot of the people whom the government considers “poor” are, frankly, lazy or spoiled by handouts.
  • This country will never be “post racial” if some of our population insists on referring to themselves as Fill-in-the-Blank Americans or crying racism at every disappointment in their life.
  • If the light bulb can’t produce quality light, I’m not buying it.  The same goes for a fuel efficient car that’s so lightweight it’s a death trap.  And alternative energy sources that are not powerful enough are useless if they force me to sacrifice quality of living.

I’m sure I could go on and on.  As we enter the next election cycle, I’m feeling more Uncommon than ever.  Listen up, GOP.  There are conservative intellectuals out there who like farm stands.  There’s a Tea Party.  How about a Red Granola Party?  Or maybe a Whole Foods Right-Wingers Party?

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Poetry and Cheese

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”  I LOVE this quote from G. K. Chesterton.  He was a guy with some great one-liners.  Anyway.  It seems like a lot of people are talking about poetry these days.  Our Dear Leader and the First Lady just held a poetry event at the White House.  It caused some controversy because one of the invited “poets” was a rapper known for his celebration of cop-killing along with other violent lyrics.  Charming.  So rappers are poets?  I guess they do use rhyme, but does that make what they have to say poetry??

Junior just finished a poetry unit in his 9th grade English class.  (Oops.  It’s called “Language Arts” now.)  I got an education from his textbook about how poetry is defined.  The glossary defines poetry as a  “type of rhythmic, compressed language that uses figures of speech and imagery to appeal to the reader’s emotions and imagination.”  It then goes on to explain that “Poetry is difficult to describe.”  I guess so.  The textbook has a go at defining it as a “wedding” between feelings and observations, “revelations,” and “snapshots.”  Apparently you can call things that typically aren’t poetry, poetry, like prose or monologues or just lists of things.

So, I’m not a poetry lover.  I have always been irritated by the whole image of a poet as a tortured soul who sees and experiences things differently and to exponential degrees.  The same goes for artists.  Wordsworth described poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”  Um…when I have powerful feelings that I don’t know what to do with, I usually cry or shout or something.  And I have never had an overflow of feelings about fog, tortillas, a balloonman, or any of the other mundane topics highlighted in Junior’s textbook.

Both kids have asked me repeatedly why the obvious majority of poems in their textbooks are of the “woe is me” variety.  These include the “I was beaten as a child,” “I’m an illegal alien,” “I am a minority living in a bad neighborhood,” and “My family was so poor” themes, to name just a few.  Nothing new here.  These themes dominate young adult “literature,” too.  It’s all part of the education establishment’s not-so-subtle attempt to win young minds over to the welfare-state, big-government agenda.  In other words, it’s all about politics.  Poetry is supposed to be inspiring and eye-opening, kids are taught.  So students are fed the “woe is me” poetry to analyze, and they are inspired to…vote Democrat, agitate for amnesty for illegals, demonstrate against education cuts.  Get the picture?

That brings us back to the White House and the rapper.  The President made a few remarks at the start of the poetry evening.  He said that “a great poem is one that resonates with us, that challenges us and teaches us something about ourselves and the world that we live in.”  Um…if you say so.  The rapper takes the microphone and proceeds to “challenge” the audience with his thoughts on presumably black youth “end(ing) up in a coffin because we haven’t taught them.”  Not sure what these youth haven’t been taught–this is why I suck at poetry.  Maybe he’s talking about God and how kids aren’t brought up with faith?  He did go on to mention God and Christ in the poem.  Somehow, I strongly doubt that this was his intent.  But he finished big, really BIG:

From one King’s dream he was able to Barack us

One King’s dream he was able to Barack us

One King’s dream he was able to Barack us.

What??!!  I have no words.  Perhaps if he had gone with cheese as his subject matter…

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Bring Back the Cooties, Please

“You’re a turd.”

“I know you are, but what am I?”

“You have cooties!”

“You smell!”

Ah…the good ol’ days.  Remember when you were a kid, and arguing with your siblings was all about who could come up with the best name to call the other?  You would have a loud, back-and-forth insult session and then ignore one another for a hour or so.  Then, it was pretty much over.  A few really heated arguments would result in a line being drawn with masking tape down the middle of your shared bedroom, but even that would be gone by the next day at the latest.  And maybe there were a few smack-downs.  All in all, though, these scuffles were short-lived and easily forgotten.

And then we grow up.

It’s really hard to have disagreements with family members as an adult.  Nothing is easily forgotten.  Yelling is considered a weakness.  And, maybe worst of all, there is no real back-and-forth.  Adults often are passive-agressive and just say, “FINE,” or the ever-popular, “Do whatever you want,” with a huff and walk away.  Maybe they commence crying and annouce they are leaving in the morning.  Or they can be long-suffering and avoid confrontation.  That tactic often leads to the revelation waaaay down the road of years worth of slights and insults.

We’re supposed to act like adults.  At Christmas and other family gatherings, we’re supposed to get together, exchange gifts, and take pictures like everything is A-OK.  But there is all of this history now.  There’s the off-hand comment that hurt someone’s feelings last Christmas.  Or the time you forgot to include someone in your group email.  And when you shot down your sibling’s group gift idea, it was taken personally.  Plus, no one says what they mean anymore because it might hurt feelings or step on someone’s toes.  In fact, you may think you are making yourself crystal clear only to discover that your point was totally misconstrued by at least one sibling and a parent.

It gets even more complicated when you throw spouses and children into the mix.  Now you have real turf to protect.  Plus, the logistics of family celebrations get more complicated, which means there is more that can go wrong.  For instance, when Mom and Dad downsize to a condo, they aren’t realitically set up to host the whole extended clan anymore.  Unfortunately, to some, it isn’t the “real” Christmas Eve dinner if it’s not held at Mom and Dad’s.

Sometimes I think the families that aren’t close have it lots easier.  There is so little contact during the course of the year that feelings can’t get hurt.  Holiday gatherings are such a rare occurance that the question of who hosts Thanksgiving dinner is a non-issue.  Group gifts don’t happen because there isn’t enough communication to work them out.  Hooray!  No one feels slighted over a rejected gift suggestion.  You don’t attend Nephew’s First Communion; they don’t come to your kid’s Confirmation.  Cards are exchanged, and everyone’s fine with that.  Of course, the trade-off is that in these families, all hell can break loose over a sudden crisis or death in the family.  Then all of the ugly scenes that had been avoided up until that point happen all at once.

To recap: in adult family arguments, no one wins and it is never over.  Yeah, it was definitely better when all you had to do was stick your tongue out at your sister or call your brother a really gross name.  No one ever held a grudge over cooties.

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