Friday, May 11, 2012

Déjà vu

Retro clockToday was pretty much a carbon copy of yesterday, although a little bit warmer. Just beautiful, and after another good workout, I finished switching out my summer and winter clothes, and I was happy to get that done. Now I’m anxious for really hot weather so I can start wearing my tank tops and shorts and junk like that!

I was able to soak up some more vitamin D (but didn’t overdo it) and then enjoyed a visit with Cousin Shane. He stopped by to drop off a key for kitty care, and we spent some time out on the deck just chatting and relaxing. I burned him a Grafton Primary CD, and he messaged me a little bit ago to tell me he loves it! I thought he might. We talked some politics, family, other stuff, watched some birds, and I got a demonstration of Siri. Wow. Pretty amazing stuff. But I’m still waiting for my hover car, dammit! And a jet pack! Where’s my freakin’ jet pack?!

Ken gets back late tonight, and tomorrow morning, we’ll pick up our side o’ beef. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the freezer when we get it loaded. If it’s anything like previous years, it will be crammed full. In fact, that reminds me...I should move a few things out of there into the garage freezer, so we can defrost the basement one. Thinking out loud...sorry! Tomorrow evening, it’s dinner with Ken’s Mom, and that will be fun.

I’ve got a countdown clock going on up there on the right. It’s amazing how quickly it’s gone down since I first posted it! Just a little over a month to go. I’ll be writing about it after the countdown is done, and after we get back from our trip. I’m looking forward to it, actually! Both the trip and writing about the meaning behind the countdown. Heh.

I’m three-quarters of the way done with my latest book (The House of Mirth
), so I’m off to work on that. I hope your weather was as pleasant as it was here at Nutwood!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Getting my mind right

Nutwood Early June3As expected, President Obama’s remarks yesterday in support of marriage equality caused a bunch of people to just totally lose their shit. Mostly from the right, which was no surprise, but there was some of it from the left because he didn’t say it “soon enough.” ::sigh:: I swear, the guy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

After reading some pretty nasty comments last night, I’d had enough. I made myself a White Russian, closed up the computer, and read my book. After I finished my drink, I moved my party of one into the bedroom, read some more, and watched Howard Stern on Jimmy Fallon’s show. At some point during the night (probably after the sleep timer turned off the TV), Sheeba came in and curled up with me, and we were off to Snoozeville. I woke up feeling great, and the forecast was for a beautiful sunny day. I got a really good workout done (you ARE my bitch, Elliptical!), chatted with Mom (she’s doing well and now on another medication for her blood pressure), then suited up and spent about an hour basking in the sun and reading some more. It couldn’t have been a prettier day, with a gorgeous blue sky, a hint of a breeze, and Nutwood close to its full foliage. Oh, and several birds visited the feeder while I was out there, showing no fear of my presence.

Man, I needed that. It might all sound terribly mundane to many of you, but it was a necessity for me today. Although I read a lot of news stories today, I mostly stayed off of Facebook, and I was happy to do so. It disturbs my sensibilities and harshes my mellow to see such vociferous discord, and I wanted no more of it on such a gorgeous day. I can always tell when I reach my limit, because it’s not only easy for me to walk away, it’s enjoyable. Tomorrow promises to be a little warmer, so I’m anticipating a re-run of today. A day so nice, I’m going to do it twice! No matter what gets thrown at me, Nutwood is always my sanctuary. I turn off and tune out all the chatter and just listen to the quiet. It gets me back to where I need to be and restores my equanimity. I hate drama, so if you try to draw me into it, you can expect my withdrawal. That’s a game I won’t play.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A big step forward

Rainbow cakeWhew, I can barely keep up with the news spin cycle lately! As we watched all the fallout, both in my state and nationally, of Senator Lugar’s primary defeat, word came that President Obama was sitting down for an interview with ABC, and several sources said that he would speak out in favor of marriage equality.

And hot diggity dog, he DID! Obviously, that eclipsed all other stories today, whether you agree with him or not.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I stand with my LGBT friends and family in support of marriage equality, and I share in their happiness that our President took a stand (okay, yes...finally). I’m not going to speculate about whether this is a political liability or asset for this fall’s election (it’s both), because I’ve read plenty of articles about that today, and perhaps many of you have, too. I’m also not going to speculate as to whether this was planned or whether Vice-President Biden, Arne Duncan, and others in his administration forced his hand. It ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is that the President of the United States has said that he supports marriage equality. To use the Vice-President’s term, this is a big fucking deal. (Well, sometimes I say that, too.)

Of course, this doesn’t change our policy as a nation. This is a big step forward, however, and I’m proud of my President for standing up and saying that he believes this should happen in our country. Some have derided his remarks about “evolving” on the topic, but I understand completely, because I evolved, too. Several years ago, my position was to support civil unions, but not actual marriage between gay couples. It wasn’t until I really started exploring the topic, talking with family and friends, reading more about it, and truly stopped to think about WHY I didn’t support marriage equity that I changed my views. The truth was that I had no legitimate objections to it, none that withstood close examination. To be brutally honest with myself, I have to say that I really hadn’t thought it through. It might have been a sort of wishy-washy compromise in order to not offend the more conservative members of my family, but whatever it was, my opposition was simply not justifiable.

The more I read and thought about it, the stronger my convictions became that this is nothing less than a civil rights issue. Most objections to marriage equality are because of religious convictions; even beyond the fact that we do not base our laws on religious beliefs, this completely ignores the fact that marriage is a civic institution. I’ve written about this rather extensively before, but it bears repeating: I don’t care if you get married in the freakin’ Sistine Chapel by the Pope himself, you aren’t legally married unless you get that marriage license from your state. That’s why our marriage is completely valid, despite the fact that we got married at Tippecanoe Place by the vice-chair of the county Democratic Party. (And for those who claim that marriage is for procreation, we don’t have kids, either. Marriage still valid. Deal.) Marriage equality does not mean that religious institutions will have to marry or recognize same-sex couples, and in fact, the states that have passed marriage equality laws make sure that such language is very clear. But that doesn’t matter, anyway. The STATE is the government entity that recognizes legal marriage. Period.

It is a civil rights issue because a portion of our populace is being denied the rights and freedoms that other citizens are able to enjoy. This is wrong, and I am confident that it will eventually be made right. President Obama going on the record and saying today that he supports the rights of gay couples to marry is a step in the right direction, and I was happy to hear him say it. Let’s keep moving forward!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gettin’ my vote on

Vintage voting machineToday was primary day here in the great state of Indiana, and although I initially hadn’t planned on voting (reasons to follow), I couldn’t bring myself to NOT vote!

[Does anyone remember the old voting machines? With the little levers, and then the big lever to register your votes? I never got to use one for a real vote, but I recall using one in a mock vote in school. Filling in an oval is not nearly as much fun as these monstrosities!]

I think there are other states like this, but in Indiana’s primary, you have to vote in one party’s primary or the other; you can’t vote in both. I had two choices today: I could choose a Democratic ballot, although most nominees were running uncontested, or choose a Republican ballot, where there is a primary race that is garnering national attention—incumbent Richard Lugar vs state treasurer and teabagger darling Richard Mourdock. I considered casting a strategic vote in the Republican primary, because my current Congressman, Joe Donnelly, is running unopposed as the Democratic nominee for this Senate seat. Senator Lugar is a stand-up guy, and I have voted for him in the past, but I’m not crazy about his recent pivot to the right to appease the teabaggers, so I would definitely vote for Donnelly over Lugar. Lugar is a stronger candidate against Donnelly, so Mourdock would be a better opponent if we want to pick up the Senate seat, and that was my possible strategic vote.

Ultimately, I chose to vote today (there was a judge I wanted to vote for) and chose the Democratic ballot, because I just could not cast a vote for Mourdock even though I have no intention of voting for him in the general election. Although I disagree with some of Lugar’s votes, I believe he has done his best by his state and by his country, as well as making the world safer for everyone with his work on nuclear arms reduction. I couldn’t vote against him. I think it’s shameful that he has been targeted by the teabaggers because he has worked across the aisle and has been willing to compromise on certain votes and issues. This ideological purity test that is happening with the Repubs lately is just sheer insanity to me, and I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. They can go as crazy as they want, but I won’t aid and abet their idiocy. Part of this was Lugar’s fault, too, for not taking the threat seriously.

Anyway, it looks like Lugar is going to lose, so in the fall it will be Mourdock against Donnelly. As the state treasurer, Mourdock has more name recognition statewide than does Donnelly, so my advice to the Donnelly campaign (if they read this...and I’ve had a few visits from various Washington, D.C. offices, so it’s possible) would be to come out of the gate hard, and start defining Mourdock as an extremist and all that junk. Donnelly is well-known and fairly well-liked in his own district, but he definitely needs to get a real jump on this and define himself—as well as his opponent—statewide.

After my errands and a good workout, the sun had come out enough to burn off the fog, and it ended up being a pretty nice afternoon. I got some reading and sun time in out on the deck, which was an unexpected treat. As an extra-added bonus, I saw a boy hummingbird at the feeder, so the boys have joined the girls! Yay!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The small stuff

Carrie onNo, that isn’t the title of my autobiography.

Today my Mom drove up to our place so I could take her to a doctor’s appointment over on the east side. She did really good this time and didn’t leave her place too early. (On previous occasions, I’ve glanced outside to see her out there a half an hour before she was supposed to be here, bless her heart.) Unfortunately, due to some pretty major road construction happening on our road, they had closed it down by the highway entrance, and wouldn’t let her through. I didn’t know that they were closing it off, or I would have had her come the other way.

She was a few minutes late, and I was starting to get worried about her, but she finally made it...then she told me what had happened. She had to turn around and backtrack a bit in order to get to our house the back way. (That was also blocked off to through traffic, but we could get out and back in that way.) She was a little wigged out, worried that she was going to be late to her appointment, and I patted her hand and tried to get her to relax a bit. I said, “You know what? Even if we were a little bit late, it wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s all okay, and you can’t sweat the small stuff.” We got there in plenty of time, and the doctor was running late, anyway, so no worries. However, her blood pressure was way up because of this, and the doctor thinks that might be part of what is causing her dizziness, so she needs to contact her regular doctor tomorrow. (This guy was an ENT specialist.) Even as the nurse was checking her BP, Mom was telling her about this incident, and I had to make calming motions with my hands to get her to stop, and the nurse had her take a deep breath.

My sister Diana met us there, and we all talked a little bit about handling stress. Mom seems to worry about so many things, and we tried to get her to think about how she could not get quite so wound up about stuff. I don’t know if just being more aware of the problem might get her to stop and take some deep breaths when she feels her BP going up, but I think I’ll suggest the deep breathing thing.

It got me to thinking about my own response to stressful situations. Although I’m certainly no Zen master, and I can get plenty wound up at times, I generally have a fairly calm reaction to most things. It takes a lot to send me into a tizzy. I guess I’ve come to the realization that there are always things (most things, actually) that are beyond my control, and I can either let it freak me out, or I can adapt and find an alternative. I always do my best to be on time to something, but if I’m 5 or 10 minutes late, is the world going to come to a standstill? Of course not. There were some people at the lab who didn’t handle change well, and every new method or new test (and because it’s a constantly changing field, there were many changes) was a reason to get worked up into a lather.

I also had my moments in the lab, and I have my moments now. But I’ve learned to try to not lose my shit. It doesn’t do anyone any good, including me. I had to look this up to see who wrote it, and I was surprised (I’m not sure why) to see that it was Rudyard Kipling: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.” I won’t go quite that far, but I know it’s better for my own health, and probably for that of those around me.

Keep calm and carry on, citizens.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I’m touring the facility

Route 66 Motel...and picking up slack!

After my workout today, I took care of the Nutwood birds (seed, suet, cleaning the bird bath), and tried to get a little time in the sun on the deck. Unfortunately, by that time it was clouding up, so I gave up and started cleaning some of the old food out of the freezers. (Note to self: it’s all fine and good to freeze stuff when you can’t quite eat all of it, but you have to eat it soon. I’ve reclaimed at least half a dozen plastic containers.)

After I showered, I decided to work on the Route 66 trip a little bit more, and finalize some stops and plans. It’s not as easy as you’d think, because many of the stops are off of the Interstate, and many of the little towns don’t have places to stay nearby—at least once you get out to the Southwest (which is where I had to finish up the planning). We have side trips planned for Meramec Caverns (of course!), the Petrified Forest, and some cliff dwellings. We thought about the South rim of the Grand Canyon, too, but that’s going to be a little too far of a side trip, and it would also have been another side trip out of Flagstaff (the cliff dwellings are the side trip of choice out of Flagstaff). I’ve got us staying an extra day in Albuquerque, which will be not quite halfway, so we can get a chance to stay a couple of nights in one place! (And do some laundry.) It will also be a good chance to see all the Googie signs in the city, both during the day and lit up at night.

We have one day that is mostly free at the very end of the Road, in Santa Monica. We’ll take that time to just enjoy the Santa Monica Pier and the end of our epic road trip, and we’re hoping to meet up with our friend Marty of Heard at Starbucks. A visit to 7th and Montana is definitely in order! After Santa Monica, we’ll be busy with family, Andy’s graduation, and then a weekend in L.A. with Kim and Steve and our nieces (with visits to the Huntington Library and the Getty Museum). I wish we could get together with our other friends in L.A., but I’m afraid there are only so many hours in the day.

Anyway, it’s good to have the foundation of the itinerary in place. I’m going to add a few things in there, but not too much—that’s what my reference books are for! I’ll get it printed out (with some extra space for if I want to write in anything later on), and we’ll be good to go except for the packing part. Whew! I’m trying not to overplan or micromanage...I’m no Clark Griswold, sticking to a set schedule with no flexibility. If our rental car is a pea green station wagon, I’m going to be pissed! But having a general idea of where we’ll be at the end of each day is a good thing, and there are only about three weeks before we leave! Oh boy!

After all that, I gave my brain a rest and went out on the deck to shuck some corn for tonight’s barbecue. It’s not locally grown corn—that won’t be on for a couple more months—but I bet it will taste good all the same. Plus steak and a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing. (No pineapple...hahahaha...private joke!) Add a nice glass of red wine, and it will be a much-needed relaxing evening.
I hope you all have enjoyed your weekend, whether you were relaxing or having fun!