Monday, September 29, 2008

Thin Skinned

Am I mental?  No wait, I know the answer to that one.

But even so, what I do not know is why random people--strangers really--can get under my skin.  Why on earth would I give more than three seconds worrying about them.  But I do.

For instance, I just got a call on my cell.  "Hi, is this Jenny?"

"Um, no, it's not."

"Is this Sarah?"

"It's not, you have the wrong number."

At least 5 seconds passed here, and I started to wonder if she'd hung up when, "Okay, thank you for being so rude" sounded sarcastically through the other end of my phone.

I'd like to inform you (since you can't read tone) that I was in a pretty good mood at the moment I'd answered, and I thought I had a friendly, smiling sound to my voice as I answered this person.  I had no opportunity of inquiring what about my manner had been so rude.  Maybe that's best. 

I related all of this to #2 who laughed a little at the silliness and went right back to looking through the Pottery Barn Teen catalog.  I realized that in telling her I was searching for validation and comfort, which I was not given.  I should have been able to follow her example;  laugh and move on.  This was such a tiny thing.  And tiny things like this seem to happen to everyone now and then.  It wasn't really about me.  I should have been able to blow it off.  But that accusation continued to ring through my ears.  I wanted to defend myself as a generally un-rude person.  

So how do I do it?  How do I disconnect my self-image from the misunderstandings of people who hardly know me or don't know me at all?  Imagine how I fall apart when folks who DO know me disagree with me or the way I've handled something.  It can be days and weeks of internal turmoil.  I need a thicker skin.  Well, Christmas and my birthday are coming up, so if you needed any present ideas ...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sweater Weather

Autumn is my favorite season.  By far.  It always has been.  Of course, I attribute this to having grown up in New England, where autumn presents itself like nowhere else on the planet.  When I went to university in Utah, I was slightly disappointed by the fall season.  But then I moved to Southern California, and realized that Utah, though no Vermont, wasn't half bad.

I love crisp, cool, Canadian air.  I love vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges in the trees and crunchy browns underfoot.  I love fresh apples and apple cider that looks like cloudy tawny potion, and not store-bought juice.  I love pumpkins for carving and baking and stacking whole for decoration.  I love Halloween and Thanksgiving and cold weather back to school clothes.  Most perfect days, in my opinion, occur during autumn.

Every year growing up we'd pick a Saturday in October and drive the Mohawk Trail in the Berkshires of Western Mass.  We'd stop off first at Atkins Farms, an apple orchard with a rather large market attached, pick up apples, the afore described cider, and mini red-wax covered round Vache-Qui-Rit cheeses.  Sometimes we'd pick up a pastry, my choice always being a cheese danish.  We'd munch these as we drove the mountain highway.

The foliage on the Mohawk Trail was always fabulous.  At least it was in my memory.  I'm sure some years were better than others.  Western Mass is brimming with big old trees--maples, oaks--and as they color they create a warm toned patchwork laid across the hills and valleys.  This patchwork is as warming to my heart and spirit as a quilt of cotton and wool is to my fingers and toes.

Seven years ago, Larry and I took the girls (and the boy in utero) to Massachusetts in October.  We spent a day in Boston at the Commons,  Fanuiel Hall, and the Children's Museum.  We spent an afternoon at Yankee Candle, which even then was on it's way to becoming Disneyland East.  We hung out with my dad and step-mom for a couple of days, and of course spent time with my mother and brother.  We even celebrated #1s 7th birthday.

But, for me, the best part of that trip was the 24 hours that Larry and I spent in Woodstock, Vermont.  The fall colors were not quite at their peak in Mass, and driving up Interstate 91 we could watch them become gradually more vivid.  We stayed in a quaint B&B and toured a dairy farm, tasting cheeses and maple syrups.  We drove over to the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut River, and crossed the longest covered bridge in New England.  We shopped at Basketville, a great huge store that sells just what you think.  It was a quintessential autumn vacation day.

While back east, I kept trying to convince Larry that living in Vermont or New Hampshire would be about the best thing we could do.  It has not been meant to be.  The west calls us.  I hear that this area has some pretty decent fall foliage.  We'll see.  I'm not holding my breath.  I do happen to know, however, that sugar maples will grow well here.  So you'd better believe we'll be buying some sugar maples when we landscape.  Then at very least I'll be able to grab a sweater and crunch around in my front yard.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bragging Rights

This summer has seen a lot of big changes for our family, and so there has been a slight trend of these self-indulging sort of personal posts.  I promise that I don't want to make a habit of that.  But early this morning there was a ground-breaking ceremony for Larry's warehouse.  Forget the fact that they'll be ready to raise the walls later this week--this was a photo-op/news event sort of thing.  Several papers were there as well as one of the local news channels.  Biggest of all, and certainly attracting much of the media attention, was Governor Otter's attendance.  The House Majority Leader was also there along with several city officials.  So we brought the kids, and the camera.  Here are some shots:

Breaking Ground
Here are a couple of employees, some politicians, Larry,
and some of the builders.  
The Governor is the 5th from the left 
and Larry is on his right.

Governor Otter has a cowboy hard hat!
State House Majority Leader on the left
City Councilman on the right

Palmer "dug" next  
Larry's brother, Eric, is in the green

...and then it was our turn

Larry and Governor Otter

The Governor and The Fam

There you go.  I should maybe mention that the Governor lives in our town, and probably came to this on his way to work in the capitol.  At any rate, we're finding it is much easier to be a big shot in a small place like Boise than a big place like Southern California.  Not that being a big shot is our goal, of course.  But on days like today, it's exciting just the same.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to School Night

Parents will be familiar with the concept of "Back to School Night" where moms and dads go to meet their children's teachers.  At elementary schools this is often accomplished in an open house or multi-session format to accommodate parents with more than one kidlet attending.  In middle school, however, parents spend a couple of hours following the schedule of their child on an abbreviated clock, thereby hearing from each teacher.  Fortunately, although we have two kids at the school, we also have two involved parents.  Unfortunately, one of those parents is in California on business.

My #1 is mentally disabled, therefore I feel the need to be extra visibly concerned and involved in her schooling.  But #2 is a self-motivated learner, and if I don't make the effort to become informed, I get left out of the loop.  Being the fretter that I am, I spent several hours pouring over the two schedules in front of me, trying to meld them into one super-schedule which would give me optimal accounts of each girl's educational experience for the year.  I even emailed my oldest daughter's resource teacher for her advice on the matter.  The end result was a balanced product of four core classes of each daughter.  Not ideal, but under the circumstances, not half bad.

Unfortunately, it was a busy day.  Errands and an appointment in the morning, and a church activity, which I jointly lead, for the 8 & 9 year-old girls in the afternoon, finishing at 5:30.  Fortunately, I was prepared.  House was picked up, dinner was in the crock-pot.  Instructions for the evening were given to the older kids.  I arrived at the middle school at ten to seven.  

Unfortunately, nearly EVERY parking space was already taken.  Fortunately, after driving around the bus route to the rear of the school I found ONE spot on the curved driveway.  Unfortunately, I would have to parallel park, which I stink at.  Also unfortunately, this was one of several spots that a revolving sprinkler was hitting at regular intervals.

I pulled in.  I backed up to try to maneuver myself closer to the curb.  No change.  I am sure all of you good parkers are at this moment knowing exactly how I should have steered to get in closer.  Myself, after three backups and pull forwards, I decided to check the curb to see if I was close enough to call it a night.  Put it in park.  Opened the door.  Okay, not bad.  Grabbed my purse and class schedules.  Checked the sprinkler.  Enough time to run.  Locked the door.  Shut the door and ran for it. 

Unfortunately, over the noise of the sprinkler and the music playing (don't YOU function to constant background music in YOUR life?) I couldn't hear the engine running until I was to the back of the Suburban.  Engine running?  Seriously?  Unfortunately, yes.  Unfortunately, no AAA or "OnStar."  And there is no "fortunately" coming.  

Trying to fight off the panic that set in, I called Larry, who as you will recall is in California, to think for me.  I've never locked my keys in the car, let alone with it running.  He suggested I call his brother to look up the number of a towing service to come let me in.  My sister-in-law answered and kindly gave me several numbers to try.  Unfortunately, I had no pen in my purse, which I had noticed earlier in the week and had never remedied.  Fortunately, I had lipstick.  Try, however, writing legibly in lipstick.  Not as easy on a half sheet of paper as it is looks on a huge high school bathroom mirror.  Unfortunately, the first guy was an hour away.  Fortunately, the next guy was a little closer.  

So I waited.  I called my sister back to let her know I was okay.  I tried to call my husband back to let him know I was okay, but I got his voicemail.  I called my kids to check on them, because I felt like a dork just standing there.  All of that time and thought and energy and worry over which silly classes to attend.  All of that, just to stand there, missing them all, and wait.  Larry finally returned my call, and I cried.  I'd been holding it back, but when I heard his voice, that was it.  And the last thing I had wanted to do was cry.  

Fortunately, the guy had hurried as best he could and got there sooner than I'd feared.  He got me into my car quickly, wrote up a bill quite slowly, I paid and thanked him, and was off.  Unfortunately, I'd missed a full half of the night.  Fortunately, I was able to spend some one on one time talking about #1 with her resource teacher, with whom I was actually quite impressed.  In the end all was not wasted.  Fortunately, I feel pretty good about being back to school.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Have you ever seen this?

I was leaving the Albertson's parking lot yesterday after picking up instant tapioca, cooking wine, and ground turkey, when I was stopped by a strange sight.  It was a very pale yellowish, octagonal metal shape fixed to a post.  It reminded me of other similar shapes that frequently catch my attention, except that they are generally red and read "STOP" in white capitals.  

Okay, it was in fact a stop sign.  But I've never seen such a faded one.  I could hardly make out the ghost of the word.  This is a relatively new complex.  I mean, it's not like that sign has been in the sun for 50 years or even 15.  So what gives?  Cheap paint?  I know the government is frugal here.  And that's great.  I try to watch my expenditures too.  But when we go to paint the exterior of our house, I'm not going to use Deltacolor acrylics.

Already Idaho is switching to what Larry is calling "gift shop" license plates, where the numbers are not raised.  A few surrounding states are doing the same thing.  I feel like I'm driving a Barbie car.  I assume this is a money saver.  My brother-in-law has offered other possible motives for the switch such as ease in traffic photoraphy.  I guess.  But it also seems like they would be easier to falsely modify with some navy blue model enamel.  Twenty dollar bills have gone hi-tech while license plates and stop signs are going down the toilet.

What is the world coming to?

Speaking of which, did anyone else notice Bob Barker up there on the stage of the Price is ... er ... the RNC, kissing all of the Palin girls last night?  Or was that just me?  

Please spay and neuter your cats and dogs.  Good night, folks.