Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Thursday, November 22, 2012

C: How Much Reward is Required?

My now-calendar rewardsgrown son likes to remind me of a “scam” we used to run on him when he was young.  We put a special calendar up on the wall just to record his good behavior.  He would earn one of those gummed gold stars on the calendar for each of several specified good deeds.

He now tells us that he paid great attention to the opportunity to fill gummed starsthose little calendar squares up with the shiny stars.  It caused him to eat way more green beans than he would otherwise have eaten (which would have been none).  It was responsible for many more beds made without asking.  It just, generally, served to achieve parental purposes at very little cost to Dad and me.

Son now says (good naturedly), “I can’t believe I fell for that!  All that effort for a stupid star!”

And we both wonder why it worked like it did.

I was reminded of this the other day bejeweledas I played my latest time-waste game on my I-Pad – Bedazzled.  I become mesmerized by this game, trying to line up like “jewels” so that they will pop and go away, others dropping in their place.

If I am good enough, I get “special” jewels that sparkle or seem to be on fire.  These make a spectacular fireworks display when they are discharged by lining them up with others like them.bejeweled 2

If I’m really good, I get a message, like the “Excellent” shown in this picture.  It is always such a thrill to get this message of encouragement.

And, let’s don’t forget the points!  You get points for lining up like jewels so that they pop and disappear.  And you get even more points for the “special jewels.”

And all this counts for what?  Nothing, that’s what.  It reminds me of the gold-star scam, above.  It makes me wonder about the psychology of reward and what’s really required for our brain to see something as rewardsa reward.  Surely, it isn’t only identifiable return…

I’ve said it before:  It takes so little to amuse me.

Kind of embarrassing when you think about it. - C

PS – don’t take this as some declaration that I’ll quit this time-waste game…

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

V: Thanksgiving Ramblings

 

Keep Calm and Gobble On

 

I’m cooking today—all day!  I’ll be cooking tomorrow too for our family gathering.   C will be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at her sister’s home with family.  She’s taking apple enchiladas!  Maybe she will share her recipe with us all!

When it’s all over  I will be exhausted for sure, but we have so much to be thankful for—not that I always remember that……

 

Thanksgiving table

 

We may use the real china like my grandmother always did and her silver which stays in the wooden chest in the buffet.  I’ll make homemade cranberry sauce with a little orange essence and there will be the canned jellied variety for hubby who is picky!  Visit www.susanbranch.com for her great recipe for cranberry sauce in the oven!  I’ll serve some spiced peaches in a crystal dish because my grandmother Elsie always had them on the Thanksgiving table—apple rings at Christmas.  Traditions live on in those that follow.  I usually feel a bit melancholy at the holiday season remembering those who are no longer with us.

 

I happened onto Edie’s post on poverty last evening and I wanted to share it with you!  Edie’s blog is a happy place, but I especially love her postings on the deeper things of theology!  She’s not a theologian (she’s actually a physician who now homeschools her girls), but I really appreciate her writings on spiritual life.  She has a book club too!  She’s been delving into the classics and even ventured into little videos which you can watch.  Not sure if C and I will ever go there, but it might be fun!  You can read Edie’s new post at www.lifeingraceblog.com.  It’s titled:  My Poverty (and Yours).

 

 

Black Friday

So I will NOT be shopping on Black Friday—and certainly NOT on Thanksgiving!!!  We’ll be stuffing ourselves silly and watching movies—Miracle on 34th Street is a favorite tradition!  I actually like the newer version best!  So how about you out there in blogland?  What are you cooking?  Do you shop on Black Friday?  What are you most thankful for this year?

 

This is my favorite scripture when I think of Thanksgiving—there’s a lot of theology in Psalm 100!  May we remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

 

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Friday, November 16, 2012

C: RANT WARNING–“Public v. Private” Matters

Nothing like a sex scandal to bring me out of temporary blog retirement. But, really, this isn’t a “sex scandal” per se, rather something much more. I smiled to myself that the very last post I wrote on this blog was about Benghazi, which is so intertwined with this subject matter which is: Generals Petraeus and Allen; Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley. For your reference as we go through this scenario, here is a little diagram:

petraeus mess

Deep breath…here I go.

When I hear diametrically-opposed opinions from someone I respect, I sit up and take note. In this instance, it is my blog friend, Karen, from This Old House, Too. Karen’s posted a couple days ago on this subject, lamenting that we have to hear about this scandal ad nauseum and that it is nobody’s business but that of the players.

I don’t get this and replied (lengthily, as none of you will be surprised), that it is, indeed, my business when the head of MY CIA engages in risky behaviors. This is Karen’s reply (in color) to my comment (redacted for space, but you can see the entire exchange by perusing her blog comments—and her blog, itself, is worth the visit).

I'm sorry C... I still do not agree with you in a big way. HUMANS will always have their sexual daliances...Just because we made it our business a long time ago to try to force human nature out of the human by insisting on monogamy...even though it goes against basic human nature.... I don't care what their position is in government, we have no business in their bedrooms. And the reports I'm reading state that there is no evidence that he gave away classified information. You can assume all you want because you are angry over the indiscretion... doesn't make it fact. We need to get real about our expectations and stop making other people's sexual -whatever - our business. Now, if they come up with hard evidence that he gave away intelligence information that could inform a "spy"... then he should be prosecuted to the hilt. I don't see that happening. The man has had an exemplary career. Stellar, in fact.
Anyway... you have a right to your opinion on this and time will tell whether this was a ridiculous witch hunt or had merit.
[the emphasis shown is mine because I don’t want to forget this and because it is part of the crux of this post]

While I agree that it is sickening to hear about this affair, I believe that we NEED to hear it.

We must consider risk factors to determine fitness of a person for a particular position or activity.

Do you think it is okay for a person seeking a high corporate position to be vetted as to his credit score? I do, because experience has shown that people experiencing serious financial difficulties may be led to do unethical things they might not otherwise do. I believe that the cause-and-effect risk effect in this particular scenario is a valid one.

In the Petraeus case, I believe that his “private” behavior mattered to the performance of and his fitness for his job  in much the same way. At the time of his affair he was head of our CIA. We traditionally worry about spies being in compromising positions because they hold the keys to so much of our national security information. Here it involved the man who holds the key to all of our national security information (or almost all of it…not sure how all that works).

Do not forget that he represents YOU. He was, at all times, YOUR EMPLOYEE. This is NOT a private matter. It is my tax dollars at work, my national security, and a serious business--beyond the usual scumbagness of adultery.

I do believe, as I told Karen, that it is a sorry statement that so many of us are willing to turn blind eyes to this serious business on the pretext of "privacy." I hold to my opinion that this is not a private matter. It's my government. And people in MY responsible positions ought to act responsibly for very good reasons.  If they want to be big shots in a pool where they can privately act in such a way, they can head up Ford Motors, but not my CIA.

Now, Moving from Philosophy to Substance:  Accounts I am reading say Paula Broadwall had information that she had no business having. Look at these very recent sources:

First, an ABC news report on November 15, 2012 5:28 PM which can be found here

Obama stressed that the affair posed no threat to national security: "I have no evidence, from what I have seen at this point, that classified information was exposed," Obama said Wednesday at a White House news conference. But it turns out that some was: the FBI has found a "substantial" amount of classified information on the personal computer of Broadwell…

Though the contents of the material obviously can't be revealed, officials say it is significant enough to warrant a continuing investigation. According to ABC sources, officials also found documents Broadwell admitted taking from secure government buildings. Broadwell has now been stripped of her military security clearance. Prosecutors are now determining whether to charge Broadwell with a crime.

Or look at what the UK’s Telegraph is reporting on November 15, 2012, quoting ABC sources, here:

Yesterday, senior government lawyers said they were keen to question Mrs Broadwell over how she came by the undisclosed material. They are also anxious to ascertain the source of the former Army reservist's information on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

In a speech at the University of Denver … Broadwell told the audience: "Now I don't know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually – had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that's still being vetted."

US officials have so far made no reference to the possibility of prisoners being the catalyst for the much criticised bloodshed in Benghazi.

So, we have the lover of the head of our CIA trotting around spouting in speeches stuff she has no right to even know and having classified information that she should not have and which the General denies giving her.

· Do you know that it is a federal offense to have classified information in your home, especially if you aren't cleared for it?

· Don't you think that is a good idea? Don’t you want classified information protected?

· Don’t you want responsible positions occupied by people who will adhere to the law concerning the dissemination of that information?

· If there is some criteria that says a person who is involved in risky behaviors is more prone to violate that responsibility, don’t you want to know that about them before they take that office?

· Am I the only one who considers this important?

Let’s move on to another player: General Allen, who is in Afghanistan, being considered for the Supreme Commander, NATO position. He has been found to have sent “thousands” of “flirtatious” emails to Jill Kelley of Florida, married “socialite” who was “close” to the two generals involved. It was to Kelley that Broadwell penned “cat-fight” emails (characterization is not mine—one of the news reports called it that).

Kelley is interesting only in the context of this scandal. She was given a “position” by General Petraeus: “Honorary consul for South Korea” so that she could “promote free trade.” Amazing (stifling giggle, here).

You could not make this stuff up and be believed.

Ms. Kelley may just be a socialite, but she knows opportunity when she sees it. Let’s look at an ABC news report on her published on November 15, 2012. The entire article can be found here:

This article tells the story of Adam Victor, a New York businessman who discussed a multi-billion-dollar Korean business deal with Jill Kelley who told him (and this is important) that Petraeus had arranged for her title as consul and that this put her in a position to “…have access to senior levels of the Korean Government…”

Ms. Kelley had absolutely no other credentials to be “promoting free trade” at senior levels…. She simply had the endorsement of your general (and mine) and cloaked in that credibility attempted to conduct serious trade discussions.  She demanded of Mr. Victor—are you ready for this?—a payment to her of $80 million for her services!

What do you call this? Is it influence peddling? If not, why not? Is it ethical? Is it what you want your General and your CIA director doing? As a citizen boss, do you think it might have been better not to “bestow” such a title which leads others to believe she was a serious player in global free trade?

Victor went on to say he was disappointed in Petraeus for helping Kelley become an honorary consul. "Frankly, I blame Gen. Petraeus for this as a lapse of judgment…" Ya think?

We won’t even talk about the dork FBI agent who sent Kelley his shirtless picture. I think he’s fired and, if not, I want him off my payroll. He’s obviously of inferior intelligence to what I expect of my FBI agents.

Now for the real concern I have here. I am deeply disturbed by the way the attack on our Ambassador to Libya went down on September 11, 2012.  I want to know what happened (within the constraints of true national security) and I want to be sure that it won’t happen again to the extent that we can.

As I type this there is the television blare of Petraeus’ testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.  At least he is willing to say that what the White House was initially saying was not true, but the reports are (Chairman of the Committee) that Petraeus’ testimony today differed from his initial testimony before the committee.)

Apparently, he told the committee that the report that UN Ambassador (bless her heart) was trotted out by the White House to distribute was “at odds” with the report that the intelligence community gave to the White House. (Insert sacrificial lamb, here). The committee exonerates Ambassador Rice, saying that she only did what she was told and probably had no idea that she was fed lies by the White House for this purpose. (My language—they were much nicer).

What do I expect of persons who are in the type of government positions occupied by these two generals? 

  • I want people who heed all my Ambassadors’ pleas for more security…especially in places like Libya.
  • I want folks who will pull out stops to save those who have gone in my service into harm’s way.  I do not want officials who hole up in some “situation room” watching as those people end up giving their lives while NO ATTEMPT WAS BEING MADE BY WASHINGTON TO SAVE THEM.
  • I want leaders who are strong enough not to throw up red herrings (anti-Islamic Youtube film) to excuse their failure to act.
  • I want LEADERS OF GRAVITY AND INTEGRITY who we can trust to act on our behalf to protect those overseas workers and who, when things go wrong, will not lie to us in explanation.
  • And Here is Where it Comes Full Circle, Encompassing the Generals, The Girls, and Benghazi:  I want leaders of integrity who, when they speak on these weighty matters, won’t have their words sullied by stupid acts of sex-above-all-else which cause us to wonder about their over-all judgment and veracity and which may have led to breaches of secure information. 

Yep, I’m steamed.  And it ain’t about the adultery right now.  It’s about folks acting in ways that fly in the face of serious and sober responsibilities they are charged with—giving heavy titles of consulates to light-weight socialites; allowing access to my country’s deepest secrets by lovers with loose lips.

I think it just generally benefits us all to demand a level of integrity and mature, sober behavior from our leaders.

And I submit to you that all the factors which bear on the above are public, not private matters.

So there!  -C

Sunday, November 11, 2012

V: Inside, Outside

 

Inside

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Cats are such connoisseurs of comfort!  These sweet boys were rescued from a plastic bag in a trash dumpster!  They had five littermates who thankfully have all found homes!  Someone’s “trash” is another’s treasure.  My grandkids are really enjoying the new kitties!

 

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Such a little imp!

 

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Always into something!

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Outside

The big rescue dog, Cowboy, always watchful and protective.

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Barn kitty, Pumpkin,  is checking out the coop!

 

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Free Range Chickens lay tasty eggs!  Perhaps they think the gazing ball is a huge egg!

 

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Cowgirl in training!

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  Have a great week!

V

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

V: Remembering A Wild Halloween

 

 

Green Halloween

“Witches and goblins and jack-o-lanterns bright

Creep through the town on a cold October night. 

You can hear the sounds of running feet when nothing can be seen

And the strangest things can happen on a WILD HALLOWEEN!”

 

“”C” and I sang this song during childhood in the sixties and now I sing it to my grandchildren!  Almost nothing we loved more than trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  Mrs. Korte who lived up the street, dressed as a witch and gave out wax lips, mustaches and fangs!  She played spooky music too, so her house was the highlight of our night!  It was a simpler time—we never heard of the ugly side of Halloween—it was so much fun to use our imagination, dress up in a costume and run up and down the streets under our parent’s watchful eye in the cool of the autumn night.  Later at home we would pour the candy out on the bed or table and see what treats we would enjoy.  Remember the peanut butter kisses wrapped in black or orange paper?  I still love them, but didn’t find them at the store this year!

 

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My grandkids trick or treated for the first time in a long time.  The past few years we have all attended a carnival at a country church with free food and lots of fun for the kids, but this year they wanted to experience trick or treating again.  My daughter’s friend lives in a great neighborhood that is child friendly!  The little elementary school where “C” and I began first grade had a wonderful carnival.  I still remember the lady in a huge skirt with pockets, the scary room which I avoided because it was dark and people jumped out, and of course a cake walk. 

Emma’s first time to trick or treat!

 

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Jack and his “Snow White” mama—his first time to trick or treat too!

 

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“Out in the street, merry children run about.  Masks on their faces, they

go with noisy shout.  They rap at every windowpane where people may

be seen, and the strangest things can happen on a WILD HALLOWEEN!

 

Hope everyone had a safe, wonderfully FUN Halloween!

 TELL MEwhat is your favorite memory of Halloween when you were growing up?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

C: Getting Political and Politically Incorrect

riot 4 Okay, I got special permission from V to veer from our usual path…

I tend to avoid commenting on politics or world affairs too much.  This is partly because I have a lot in my own little world to contend with, and this absorbs most of my energies.  It’s been a while since I have had the luxury of being impassioned about politics or world affairs. It must be added that the cynicism that pervades my philosophies in general applies here, too.  I have a suspicion of politicians of all stripes and I doubt very much that my thoughts, one way or the other, will change the world.

But lately the riots against the US in the Middle East riot 2and throughout Muslim communities worldwide  have captured some of my attention.  The images scattered throughout this post are from those events.

I have listened with growing chagrin about the murder of one of our ambassadors and the disrespect being shown to us by the riots outside our embassies throughout the world. 

It was not pleasant for me to see our embassy invaded, our flag taken down and replaced with some kind of flag bearing muslim flag an Islamic message. 

While I think that the Benghazi, Libya attack has now been shown to be an organized act of terrorism coming in under the cloak of mass uprising, it seems that much of the rioting (such as in Cairo) is, indeed, populist expression.

The impetus, it is said, is a film that people of the Islamic faith find offensive.

Really?

Rioting because someone makes a film insulting your religion?

Who acts this way?

I happen to be a Christian.  When folks make fun of or insult my religion or those important to its tenets, such as Jesus, it really does not matter much to me.

Water off a duck’s back.

I don’t understand why an insulting film would make thousands riot and, generally, act like animals. 

When comedienne Kathy Griffin said some pretty insulting things about Jesus in her stand-up routine, making headlines, my back was a watershed.  It did not make me want to picket her home or her performances.  It did not riot 3 make me hate her or think she is destined for Hell (not my business—that would God’s business).  I may choose to avoid her or not listen to her drivel, but it had no effect, whatsoever, on me.   What she says about my religion just does not matter much to me.

I don’t get offended much by the beliefs of others (or their non-belief).  And I think I am following in Jesus’ steps by being that way—He seemed to me to be the least offendable person who has walked the earth.

And, no, I do not feel it is my duty to defend God, Jesus or my faith by rioting or force of any kind.  We tried that in the Crusades and, as I recall, the process did not bring out the best of Christian virtue.  Let’s never go back to that. 

I read one article that said that the Islamists involved are upset because we (America) don’t force the film off the internet.  First of all, how do you do that?  I think that once on the internet, it’s pretty much a genie out of the bottle that can’t be put back in.  (Just ask those who,whoops, had a sex tape published that they wish had not seen the light of day).  But, then, I err in applying any logic to this situation.

bill of rights The larger issue is that we Americans have the First Amendment.  If some dough-headed Christian group wants to say something nasty about another religion, well, they get to do that….we don’t “take down” those expressions—that would be the style of those oppressive countries who are involved in these riots.

And, by the way, the riots began on September 11, the anniversary of an event that most Americans consider a cause for deep hurt and sadness.  Did we riot because they rioted against us on that particular day?  Not that I noticed…

Now, here’s where I get really politically incorrect:  When our former President George W. Bush would say of our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, “We’re bringing democracy to the Middle East,” I used to shake my head. 

Democracy?

Really? 

In an area where they want to stifle free speech, where they oppress women crushingly, where torture chambers are standard? 

The riots prove my point. Democracy has worked well for us.  We need to understand, however, that not everyone wants democracy, and not every society can sustain it.

Especially societies who riot over expression of opinion; or

Whose usual style to effect change is mass rioting.

I know that we are supposed to feel (and say) that all cultures are equal in value and yadayadayada.  Perhaps, however, those societies involved in this mess are societies which we should leave to stew in their own non-democratic juices.  Not all societies want or can sustain democracy, and we need to accept that. Not all societies are on equal footing…

Thanks for giving me my politically-incorrect moment.  C.

PS – please understand that I am NOT saying that we should not voice our beliefs, vote our consciences, etc.  (quite the opposite—we should relish and exercise our freedoms)

What I AM saying, however, is that we should be respectful and civil about doing so…to-wit: don’t riot and pillage over ideas…

Thursday, September 20, 2012

C: My Childhood Reading Favorites

Did any of you see this heart-stopping YouTube video?  I first saw it on a news broadcast and only made it through the entire thing because the anchor said at the outset: “Don’t worry—it all ends well.”

I loved seeing this—how the little ducklings would scurry back to the guidance of their mother after their little group was scattered by the wind of passing traffic.  How she would wait on them to regroup before continuing her perilous path.make way for ducklings

It made me think back to one of my favorite childhood books: Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey (1942 Caldecott Award.)  For those of you who don’t know this book, it is  about a family of ducks crossing a city street (with the help of the friendly traffic policeman) to get to the lake at the Boston Public  Gardens. 

The book is famous enough to merit sculpture at the gardens to commemorate it.make way for ducklings scuplpture

Another of my favorites was about Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Marianne (by Virginia Burton, 1939.)  I also loved The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward (1953 Caldecott Award.)  I shared all these with my son.

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As I grew older, my reading interests became more focused.  I was a horse lover from the get-go.  C. W. Anderson’s series on Billy and his pony Blaze were some of my early favorites, not the least because of Anderson’s ubilly and blazenbelievably beautiful and realistic illustrations.  Billy and Blaze had many, many  adventures together, including forest fires and mountain lions.  I so identified with Billy because from age 6 I had my own horses on whom I rode hours at a time on adventures in the miles and miles of wooded trails that surrounded our house.

You may be more familiar with the movie based on these, but Walter Farley wrote a series of books that I devoured.  The black stallion Black Stallion was the first, but there were many, many after: The Black Stallion Returns, the Son of the Black Stallion, the Black Stallion Races, and on and on.  He also added a few books called “The Island Stallion,” about Flame, a beautiful red chestnut who lived—where else?—on an island!

And I cannot leave out Marguerite Henry.  She wrote a whole bunch of books on horses, the most famous of which may be the series on Misty of Chincoteague about the Assateague Island wild ponies and the festival each year where the herd king of the wind must swim to Chincoteague for the auction of some of the herd to keep it thinned.  My personal favorite of Henry’s books was King of the Wind (1949 Newberry Award.)

There were many other books that cultivated my imagination as I was growing up –too many to catalog here!  It is safe to say that I read all the time—now a lifelong habit.  Going back over these in my mind after watching the duckling video gave me a great deal of pleasure.

I can only hope that this video-game age of kids will continue to read, as I did, so that they may have this kind of memory to enjoy in their waning years! 

Let me hear about some of your favorite childhood books!  --C

Saturday, September 15, 2012

C: Eating Healthy (Gross Factor Warning)

family devotions Someone close to me once gathered her two precious children around for a morning devotional and Bible study. 

Such a beautiful perfect-family picture.  Her seven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter were interested, earnest, and in good humor as they started.

The lesson was about turning to God for assistance in cleaning up our lives.  Mom spoke to the kids about bad habits and how prayer can enlist the help of God and focus us on our efforts to break them. 

Think about something you’d like help with this morning.  If you want to share it, fine.  If you are not comfortable with sharing, that’s fine, too.  We all have things in our lives we’d like to change and we need help to do it.  I’ll start.”

Mom shared with her kids that she had gained a little weight and that she knew the reason was poor eating habits.  “I need help from you and from God so I can remember to make good choices in my diet.  I need to learn to eat healthy.”

She waited, respectful of her children.  After a minute, Boy spoke up, noticeably shaky and ashamed.  “Mom, I need help to stop eating boogers.”yuk

Mom was stunned.  She froze, her eyes locked on her son’s face.  How could this be?  Her polite, nearly-perfect little son with such a disgusting habit?  It was all she could do to keep from jumping up and exclaiming something surely judgmental and emotionally-damaging as she retched. She fought to remain poker-faced, knowing that judgment was not the thing to display right now.

In the stillness of the moment, she collected herself.  Her eyes slid to her firstborn, her dainty, quiet daughter whose eyes were fixed on her mother’s face.  As if on cue that it was her turn once Mom’s eyes met hers, without prompting Girl started her own confession.  “Me, too, Mom.  I think I need to stop eating boogers.”

Stunned silence. 

The internal struggle was intense.  Where had she gone wrong as a yuckmother? 

She considered options: Should she jerk their revolting little bodies up and wash their nasty booger-ridden mouths out with soap? 

Should she give them extra housework to make sure they never forgot their struggle to crush this habit?  

Should she tell their father what abhorrent, foul children they had raised? 

Emotion and nausea flooded her. 

She struggled with balancing the need to be emotionally-supportive of their confessions against her need to expel the disgust she felt building inside her.  healthy

Control regained, she bowed her head and simply said: “Lord, please help us to be healthy in our eating habits…”

The kids grew out of it, apparently. The story is now told by them all,  They love the shock and disgust that goes across people’s faces.

And, in case you wonder, she is a great mother. 

We can be good parents and teach our children all the right things to do. Still, our kids just veer from the paths we think we have set them on—all of them.  This disgusting little story is just a reminder. 

When I hear clients bemoaning their wayward adult children and saying, “Where did I go wrong?” I remind them that we cannot blame adult bad choices on parenting.  To try to force them into seeing this, I ask:  “Which parent failed Adam and Eve?”

It just happens – to the best parents.  -C

Monday, September 3, 2012

C: But It Was Different With Us…

pickup line I’ve written about this before. 

It’s worth mentioning again because we are all prey to the idea that our circumstances are special, different.  The rules and statistics don’t really apply, so we think.  This can cloud judgment.

Mattie was married to a well-known personal injury lawyer, “Jim.“  I had heard of him; don’t know of him except by his reputation.  I expected to find lots of assets.  I was right.

She’d been married to him 34 years.  She was 52.  He was 18 years older than her and at a well-preserved 70, rich and thanks to Viagra,  going strong in all respects.

Frankly, it seemed to me that Mattie ought to wait it out…he was content to be married while he continued to sow his elderly oats.  Apparently when one is rich one can find plenty of fertile ground in which to do so, no matter your age.  Divorce was going to be emotionally hard and, surely, he’d either die or stroke out soon.

But I always tell my clients, “Only you know what’s worth what emotionally.”  Apparently, life with him was something she just could not take any more.  She told me me of decades of putting up with his infidelities, his promises to get better, which invariably evolved into suspicious activities and new discoveries of betrayal by her.  A never-ending cycle, it seemed.  This latest was more than she could bear.

She had recently discovered him in flagrante delicto—literally.  She’d walked in on hubby and his cute little thirty-year old paralegal deep kissing in his office.  It was bossclear to her this wasn’t the first such kiss they had shared: blouse was partially off and husband’s hands were…er, not visible.   Classic, isn’t it?

Now she wanted a divorce.  Okay, we can do that.  And she will be okay financially, although when you deal with egos like her husband’s you can expect to be put to through the wringer in a divorce.  His arrogant pride will assure that, and I warned her of this.

So, how long have you known he is a cheat?” I asked, always curious about the development of relationships.

He’s always cheated on me,” she said.  “I first caught him our third year of marriage, right after the birth of our first.  I just can’t do it any longer.  I deserve a few years of quiet contentment, don’t you think?”

I nodded.  “How did you meet?”

I was a receptionist in his firm.  I went to work there when I was 23.  He was the most handsome man I’d ever seen and so confident.  He swept me off my feet.  I should have known how it would be, because he was married at the time.”

My ears pricked up.  I sat still, sensing she would continue.  She did.

He told me how unhappy he was in his marriage.  When we discovered each other he said it gave him the push he needed to end the misery for both him and his wife.”

Did he have children?” I asked.

Oh, yes—three of them.  All still in grade school except for the youngest who had not yet started school.  They adopted her from China.  You would not believe what a little snot she grew into.”

So you aren’t close to them?”

Well, no.  I eventually had my own two girls to take care of, but every other weekend and every vacation trip and holiday, we had his three by his first marriage.  The trouble was that my husband was always a workaholic, so most of this time was done under my watch.  It was not easy duty, I’ll tell you.  The kids never really liked me.  I’m sure their mother bad-mouthed me at home.  Now that all the kids are grown, I never see them, and he rarely does.”

I bet.  I pried again: “So, did you ever worry at the first that he might cheat on you like he did his first wife?”

I sensed a little bristle at this.  “I know what you’re thinking.  No one else can understand how ‘right’ our love was—I mean we were soul mates.  I really don’t think it is something most people experience; it was special.  He said so, too.  It was different.  I didn’t break up their marriage.  He would have divorced her eventually.

Here is my thought bubble at this:

Really?  Maybe. Maybe not.  Maybe wife no. 1 just did not tolerate humiliation as well as you did this last 34 years…truthfully, lady, you don’t know whether it was the wife who got sick of him rather than him leaving her for your perfect love…

No, I did not say that, but I thought it. 

Why do wsnow whiteomen think that a cheater will cease to be a cheater---ever?  Because we buy into the fairy tale definition  of love…the Disney-princess-love-at-first-sight-forever-and-ever-conquers-all-through-thick-and-thin kind of love.

I’m a cynic.  I no longer buy this.   Rather I buy into Maya Angelou’s wise saying:

The first time someone shows you who he is, listen…

And then there’s another:

Karma’s a b*%*h.

karma

-C (for “cynic”)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

C: Comfies

linus Could it be that our heat wave is over?  It has been one long, hot summer here, dry as a tinderbox.  The only upside has been very little mowing.  Our grasses have struggled this summer,and I am thankful I no longer have horses in need of winter hay, because the price must be sky-high.  We’ve had rains now, and we’re only the the 90’s during the day, which is feeling like a cold snap!

But early last week, the heat was still on.  I’d come home from work at 6 p.m. and my little car would still be registering over 100 degrees.

On one of those mornings as I traveled to work, I noticed that at 7:30 a.m. it was already near 90 degrees.  My drive takes me along a four-lane, divided parkway, the two sides enclosing a wooded area which has paved pathways.  Inmom and stroller the mornings I see health-conscious folks out walking, jogging or skating there. 

This particular morning, I spied a young mother in her exercise shorts and tank top pushing a stroller.  Sitting  upright, contentedly surveying her world, was a little girl who appeared to be eighteen months or so.  Piled up on her stroller’s little tray and probably tucked around her was a fluffy, pink blanket. 

All I could think was, “My goodness, that blanket must be hot at near 90 degrees!”  But I remember well how important it was for my son to have his blanket wherever he went at that age. He, too, would have wanted it, no matter the temperature.  I knew why this Mom did not veto the blanket on this hot morning—things would have gotten really hot in its absence!

sock bunny I thought back over Son’s several comfort items:  the blanket with the satin binding that I had to sneak into the washing machine.  His two sock bunnies, one white and one brown (“Chocolate Bunny”).  These were important to him, soothing and comforting.

Even as adults, I think we have continue to have comfies to ease the stress in our lives.  I started thinking about some of mine:

  • Oh, yes, I’m afraid there is comfort food.  It is a mac and chees comfort habit I am trying to break, but try as I might, macaroni and cheese is still a go-to in times of stress.  Unhealthy, I know…yes, I need to work on this habit of turning to food, but I’m trying to be honest in my assessment of comforts here.
  • My dog.  Chili is a great source of comfort.  He is invariably delighted when I arrive home from work each day.  He accompanies me from room-to-room.  When I am home, he is my constant companion and a great comfort.  I think petting him decreases my blood pressure!
  • Pajamas.  Not only are these physically comfortable, I think they are emotionally comfortable.  When I pull pajamas on, it is like a signal that my stressful day is over and it is time to relax.

Do you identify with the little girl and her hot blanket on a hot morning?  What comfy would you have even in the face of “heat?” What gives you comfort in times of stress?  --C

Sunday, August 12, 2012

C: Anglophilia

Oh, dear me!  My sister has recently put me onto Netflix, and I am so loving it.   Yes, I can get some pretty good, pretty current movieupstairsdownstairss through Netflix.  And I am a sucker for documentaries of all stripes, so I’ve done quite a bit of learning through those this past week. 

But what has really done it for me is the ability to see all my favorite BBC series.

I have rewatched all the Upstairs, Downstairs episodes.  I have worked my way through the first series of Downton Abbey, which I had not seen before. 

Both of these reawakened my great longing fordowntonabbey staff: A parlor maid to keep my house “tidy,” a cook to prepare and serve delicious meals so that I actually have  time to “dress for dinner,” and a butler to iron the creases out of my morning newspaper. 

Sigh.  I love this escape.

I have gotten two-thirds through the House of Cards trilohouse of cardsgy, and it’s just the best! 

I love the smooth evil of Francis Urquhart (so aptly called by his initials “F. U.”, first name  pronounced “Fraaahncis”) 

(If you haven’t  watched this series, by all means give it a go

And here’s another thing:  All this British television is causing me to think like they speak.  In my thoughts (please, God, don’t let me actually enunciate this), I find myself using “cahn’t” instead of “can’t” and “ahfter” instead of “after,”" just as Francis or the Butler Hudson woucup of teald say. 

When else but when I am on a British telly streak am I tempted to use the word, “daresay,” as in “I daresay, old chap, I need to go and put a bit of stick about in that  courtroom…”

Such jolly fun…I think I’ll go and have a cup of tea and a biscuit…C

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