Sunday, September 30, 2007

SOS - Happy Anniversary

Today is my 12th wedding anniversary so this Sunday Soap Opera is in honor of our day. Please visit Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's for other Soap Operas.

Twelve years ago today the sun was bright all day and the sky was clear. Amazing Guy and my wedding went off without a hitch. Really. My wedding itself was not a Soap Opera at all. My biggest concern was that the flower girl would pick her nose at the front of the church during the service. Fortunately my aunt had brought up with her from Atlanta fancy white gloves for the 4-year-old. The entire time she was in the front of the church she admired her hands in her gloves.

Several years earlier I had left New Orleans to return to my hometown to attend graduate school. Amazing Guy was staying behind to finish his graduate degree. He had given me the promise ring after only four month of dating to declare he would wait for me.

The summer before graduate school started I found myself with the most amazing, wonderful opportunity. A college buddy was having an all-expense trip to Italy paid for by her mom. However, her mom wanted her to have a traveling companion. Since I had spent my junior year of college in Florence, I was asked to go and all I had to pay was the airfare. So not only was I getting to spend 4 weeks in Italy with a smart and funny friend but I was getting to spend 4 weeks in plush, fancy hotels because the friend and her mom had excellent tastes. At the time my idea of extravagance was a youth hostel with hot showers. Her idea of roughing it was a hotel with 3 stars or less.

So I went down to New York City a few days before the flight to Italy to hang out with another friend. Leslie (not her real name) was (and still is) one of those girlfriends everyone should have. Fun, generous, smart and very understanding when you don't talk for, oh, a year.

Here I am, in NYC with a terrific friend, about to go to Italy for a month with another terrific friend, and I am blue. Blue. Blue. Blue.


Because I missed Amazing Guy. A lot.

So what does Leslie suggest? "Let's go try on wedding dresses!"

I think she knew that Amazing Guy was the one I would marry. So what that we would be apart for a year and a half? Let's start thinking wedding now.

I agreed. We walked into Laura Ashley and climbed to the third floor where the wedding dresses were kept. We brought a few to the changing room and I tried them on.

I put one on that fit perfectly and looked beautiful. It was that oh-my-start-crying moment you see in movies when the bride finally finds the "right" dress.

"Buy it!" Leslie declares.

"I can't! We're not even engaged! It's seems like bad luck."

Nine months later, he proposed to me in my parents' living room. Wedding planning began. We had a date - September 30, 1995. The ceremony would be at my childhood church. A blue trolley would take us and the wedding party to the reception for dinner and dancing. We had a band and a photographer. I knew how I wanted to style my hair.

I could not find a dress I liked.

I tried on dresses and hated them. I was basically looking for the exact dress I had tried on in New York City. I was close to wearing a burlap sack at my wedding.

A friend of my mom's worked at Laura Ashley and got me to describe the dress I had tried on. She knew exactly which one it was. She said it was from two seasons ago and had been very popular. The chances were slim to none that she would find it but she would try.

A few days later she called to say she found one remaining dress in all of North America (yes - I'm including Canada in this statement). It was my size. It was missing a button and the train had a smudge.

It cost $198.

We easily made a button from fabric in the hem and cleaned the smudge. I look at my wedding photos and like how they look.

We had a beautiful day. Which is only appropriate since it has, for the most part, been a charmed life together. And I have no doubt it will be for decades to come.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Written on a board on the side of a building

On Board

Every Gun that is Made
Every Warship launched
Every Rocket fired
Signifies in the final Sense
A Theft from Those
Who hunger and are
not fed, Those who are
Cold, and are not Clothed.
And The world in arms is not
Spending money Alone. It's
spending The Sweat of our
labor, the genius of Our Scientist
And The Hopes of Our Children*

When I posted this, the Iraq war cost ticker was at $454,907,140,705 (that's $450 BILLION!) My state's share is over $12 Billion. We could have built over 114,000 additional units of housing in my state with that money. Nationally we could rebuild New Orleans, provide universal health care AND probably have money left over to fix a few national parks.

*The above quote is attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower, American General, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII and the 34rd President of the United States of America. He was a Republican who ended the Korean War.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Finding a painter who lived in NYC and ...

"Mom today in art we learned about an artist...." yelled by one guy

"who moved to New York City...." yelled by the other

"and lived on the 30th floor of a hotel...."

[are you getting how this was screamed in the van?]

"and listened to Boogie woogie music"

"and painted a picture of taxis!"

Together - "Can we find his picture?"

Bless, bless Google.

I first typed into that lovely rectangle painter who listened to boogie woogie music and just got listings for CDs.

Then I tried painter boogie woogie music and this appeared on the computer screen -

"THAT'S IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" they both screamed.

Piet Modrian painted Broadway Boogie Woogie between 1942- 1943. My kids made their own versions of it in art class last week with squares they cut from construction paper.

A-toot, a-toot, a-toot-diddelyada-toot
He blows it eight-to-the-bar, in boogie rhythm
He can't blow a note unless the bass and guitar is playing with him
He makes the company jump when he plays reveille
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B

(Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by Don Raye and Hughie Prince)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Another China recall

This is so sad. Over the weekend the local paper reported that a very popular bracelet sold by a small charity for cancer work at a local hospital has been recalled. You cannot walk around my town without seeing these bracelets sold in hair salons and little shops. Women wear them everywhere and they have been given as gifts (one woman told me she bought them for teachers, bus drivers and others as Christmas presents last year). Why were the bracelets recalled?

Because the spacers between the big beads are filled with lead. Even after the Chinese manufacturers promised the charity in writing it did not use lead in producing the spacers.

Apparently a 9-month-old baby had been teething on the bracelet and ingested enough lead to require medical assistance. Don't go blaming the parents for letting the kid gnaw on it. I have certainly used non-traditional items to survive teething.

So toys, lunch bags, and now jewelry to raise funds for cancer research? My kids complained bitterly for years that I wouldn't buy them "character" toys. We have almost no toys based on characters from television shows or movies in the house. And while I wasn't doing it to save them from potential lead-poisoning, it sure made my life easier looking at the list of recalled toys.

But now? I get to say to my kids how I kept them safe from toxic toys. And now the boys themselves check labels to see if something is "Made in China".

They ask me if it is safe.

I don't know. I hate that.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

SOS - Psychedelic Furs Concert

This Sunday Soap Opera involves rain and 1980's music. Please go visit other more poignant or funnier Soap Operas at Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's.

It was 1986. The guy I was dating was in college. I was in high school. We had tickets to see the Psychedelic Furs at a brand new outdoor music venue a la Red Rocks in Colorado (except without the rocks so not as cool). The buzz was that you could have an outdoor concert even in the rain. The folks in the uncovered grass section in the way back were, well, stuck in the rain but those of us under the roof could remain dry.

That is if the first 26 rows didn't flood. Which is what happened when we arrived for the show in the pouring rain. So we got - ahem - rain checks for our tickets. The Furs would be back around in the fall.

Which ended up being a long time for a high school romance. This guy was someone I had dated on and off. During one of the "off" times I had noticed a fellow my age in that promising location, homeroom. So, that summer I was done with college guy and started dating homeroom fellow.

Somehow homeroom fellow and I had managed to start dating without being noticed by the gossip mongers at our high school. So fall rolled around and we were back in school pleasantly dating.

We were at his locker and he excitedly told me he had gotten tickets for the now rescheduled fall Psychedelic Furs concert. Of course he assumed I was going with him.

I had never told him about the rain check tickets with college guy.

So I told him I couldn't go with him because I already had a ticket and a ride with a former beau.

I figured the place was huge and we wouldn't run into each other.

The days leading up to the concert homeroom fellow seemed to take it well. The night of the concert he went with a couple of friends and I went with college guy.

We walked into the venue and were sitting in the middle section in the center. We were on an aisle side. We danced and sang but it was awkward. The Psychedelic Furs were heading into the encore part of the show when the entire row emptied of concert-goers. At the end of the row I was in, at the other aisle, was homeroom fellow with the friends.

I was told later that one of the friends, an incredibly nice and bubbly girl, saw me and said "Oh!!! There's Allison with her *college* boyfriend! He's so good-looking and COOL!" She was clueless that I had broken up with college guy and I was dating homeroom fellow standing right next to her.

To which he snarled "Let's see how cool he is" and proceeded to lead the group across the row.

I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye, turning to see him coming towards us. I found myself between two tall men who were glaring at each other (keep in mind I'm 5'9"). I muttered introductions, watched them shake hands in front of me and then they both furiously danced on either side of me.

I actually don't remember the concert ending or saying goodbye to the high school group. What I remember was riding in college guy's car with the moon roof open looking at the stars. He was seething and I was happy.

I spent the rest of my senior year in high school dating homeroom guy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Honorable Mention


Really, finally.

The Write-Away Contest hosted by Scribbit

I received an honorable mention in Scribbit's monthly write-away contest for the piece I wrote about teaching one of my sons how to ride his bike. And not call him a wimp to his face. It was not one of my shining moments as a parent.

But he knows how to ride a bike.

I plan to "wear" the button with great pride. And big thank you to this month's judge, Chelle!

But wait!!

I've got a new blog buddy (a bloggy or blogdy?) who is leaving terrific comments. I also just love her signature image. It reminds me of Elastagirl from The Incredibles. I can honestly say I was sad when the kids opted to not watch it anymore. I didn't mind watching that one over and over again.

So to my surprise I was checking out her site, found out she was starting a new award then discovered she had awarded one to me!

And the company she put me in? Wow.

Now to pass it along -

Jen - from A2eatwrite is an amazing writer. Seriously, she leaves me breathless sometimes.

Fourier Analyst - she wanted to be an astronaut and now writes under the title meaning "a mathematical tool which can do a number of things." She leaves me feeling like my brain is very, very small.

Go forth and share ladies or ignore. Just know that I think you are out of this world.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Car questions

In my church, middle schoolers have a sexuality class as part of religious education.

Have you spit out your beverage yet?

When I was young it was called About Your Sexuality (AYS). Now the curriculum is called Our Whole Lives (OWL). Once my brother and I were out of the house, my parents were OWL instructors during different parts of the 1990's and even into the 21st century. I remember calling home one evening as they were preparing for a lesson and hearing all this crinkling and grumbling.

"What are you two doing?"

Mom's reply was "trying to figure out what we should use for the condom demonstration - a cucumber or banana."

My favorite memory from my own class was bounding into the car as a 6th grader after the anatomy lesson. Both my parents were in the front seat. As my dad was driving up a very big hill in our town I leaned forward between them and asked,

"Dad. How long is you penis?"

My mom just burst into hysterical laughter as my dad nearly swerved into a tree on the other side of the road. He was able to right the car.

Then he gave me an answer. An actual number (and no I don't remember. And even if I did I wouldn't tell you).

It was my mom's turn to yelp and stutter "how do you know?"

He grins. "Do you think that is a question any high school boy doesn't know the answer to?"

Curious to see what I look like? Revisit Goofball's post about meeting me. She went back and posted a photo. And go look at her other posts. She took some great photos.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The perfect swing

While in Canada earlier this month I noticed something. Something I had been missing since my kids were born. Something that would make my life much more enjoyable.

A proper swing.

When I was a kid, all swings had hard seats. Nowadays they are soft so that the seat conforms to your backside and, in my case, pinch. And I'm not that wide. But soft swings are not as fun as the hard ones.

You get much better jumps off of the hard ones.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

First 10 Days of School

There are usually "First 100 Days of" analyses for a new president or Congress. I thought it only appropriate to share a literal list of what happened in the first 10 days of first grade.

Day One (a Wednesday) - recounted here.

Day Two - one guy goes to the nurse complaining of a stomach ache.

Day Three - one guy goes to school while the other ends up at the pediatrician. He has strep throat.

Day Four (a Monday) - Amazing Guy has to drop of penicillin at the nurse's office. The guys are picked up by their awesome soccer coach for a play date at her house followed by the first soccer team practice. Little lady and I meet them at the field. And 1st grader who missed school insisted on finishing all the worksheets from Friday, even declining watching television in order to complete them.

Day Five - both guys do well at school, although one says "I wish I was in second grade." Think he is bored? I attend my first PTO meeting that night. The room had over 80 parents, the superintendent was there and the meeting was well run. I even got to ask if there will be French and Spanish classes offered after school (for a fee) like at other elementary schools in the town (yes, I know. How precious of me).

Day Six - both guys bitterly complain how they have no homework. "When will we get homework?!" one moans. As I am getting dinner ready my dad calls to tell me my mom is in the Emergency Department after exhibiting symptoms of a stroke. I get a friend from church to stay with the kids so I can go to the hospital. The kids become monsters to this poor 14-year-old.

Day Seven - guy recovering from strep is back at the nurse's office with a stomach ache and everyone agrees it is from dealing with his grandmother being in the hospital. Other guy complains to me that a kid in his class keeps taking the kickball away from him. My mom, their grandmother, is still in the hospital.

Day Eight - little sister is taken to the pediatrician and is also diagnosed with strep throat. While waiting in line for school to start, guy with kickball-stealer for a classmate points out the offender - HE WEIGHS AS MUCH AS ME! While I'm only being slightly facetious, the kid is obese. My mom, known as Lovey to the kids, is out of the hospital and doing fine with no lasting issues (yippee!).

Day Nine (Monday) - Lone kid who wasn't sick starts the morning with his own dose of Amoxicillin after being diagnosed with a strep infection at the weekend clinic the day before. The promised homework is not in anyone's bag. "The teachers wait until October to give homework. When's October?" I also hear that kickball-stealer is losing recess time so teacher is on the ball (pardon the pun). Once again, awesome friend/soccer coach takes boys home with her for fun then we meet up at practice. When we get home the boys play rugby in the backyard until dark. At bedtime they are asleep in less than 5 minutes.

Day Ten (Tuesday) - The boys change clothes after school and run out to play rugby in the backyard. Everyone has a pleasant evening.

Could we have a routine? Is life humming along? I cannot stress enough that my mom does not seem to have any lasting problems or concerns. We are all grateful for the care she got and that she is o.k.

I have no plans of doing this type of list again. Well, maybe for the last 10 days of school at the end of June. Which will hopefully not involve hospitals, one prescription for penicillin, two for amoxicillin, or bullies.

Monday, September 17, 2007


There isn't enough nice in the world. Really.

In fact people scoff at it. Even use it as a term to sneer at someone. "Eewww. That's so [pause to sneer] nice."

I've noticed two versions of a Nice-ness button going around. One is this very frilly Victorian pink thing. One is this smut image of a woman's back side. The first one is too, well, frilly Victorian. The other one doesn't make sense to me. Now maybe some people might think a scantily clad woman's a** is a "nice" image but I don't think they say "awwww that's nice" like you are talking to a puppy.

They are saying "look at THAT! Now that's nice!"

And to finish this obvious digression, that isn't a "nice" I want on my blog.

Painted Maypole apparently received both versions of this kind button going around the blog world and decided to make her own version by commissioning an original piece of art for the background. And then she turned around and handed it out to two folks - one of them to me!

And why does she think I am nice?

"Also, to Allison over at Soccer Mom in Denial who calls her husband Amazing Guy. Doesn't that just say it all?"

Now, before you get all "isn't that nice" or sweet, or cute, or whatever sneering thing you are thinking just remember:

  • how someone you didn't know made your day by smiling at you - that was being nice

  • how you gave up your seat on the subway for an older rider (or a pregnant one) - that was being nice

  • how someone told you your children were well-behaved - that was being nice

  • how the teen down the street helped you with something (clearing your driveway, carrying in the groceries) - that was being nice

Have you told your partner, spouse or best friend how much they mean to you, today? By "renaming" Mr. SMID to Amazing Guy I think I have conveyed that he isn't just an extension of my blog. He is an incredibly talented, funny, loving, smart, rugby-obsessed man. (I'm not too fond of that last part as some of you know but hey, I said he was Amazing, not Perfect).

So go on, be nice to someone today.

And the following folks are off the hook because they are already nice:

Jenn in Holland - goes without saying. She celebrates the cute things other people's kids say even though she has three of her own. She is the reason the photo site, Looking Into, even exists and isn't some idea floating in my head. I told her I wanted a photo site and she had it created in less than a day.

Jami - the brains behind not THAT different. When I saw I had this button to bestow, I immediately thought of Jami. She would probably laugh very hard but she is nice. She combines politics with the personal, humor with the sad and makes my world better. Especially when I get emails from her. That makes my day.

So post that little button ladies or ignore it. Share the niceness or ignore. Just know I think you are, yes, nice. And it comes with a big bear hug from a 5 foot 9 inch gal.

Want to hear about these hugs I give? Go check out Goofball's World account of meeting me. And then read her tales of traveling through my little part of the world. Bon Voyage Lady and Lord Goof. It sounds like you are having a wonderful time.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

SOS - broken 4th grade heart

It is that time again! Go visit other Soap Operas this Sunday at Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's.

I was all set to play Lucy to his Charlie Brown.

Phil (not his real name) was a whole year older than me, a 5th grader. The older elementary school kids of the church were putting on a Peanuts play and I had been paired to do one of the classic therapist scenes with one of the dreamiest 5th graders around.

He was blond and blue-eyed. We weren't in the same school so church was the only place I saw him. Looking back, what I felt is exactly what a crush is. Butterflies in the stomach, uncontrolled nerves. How does this happen to once confident little girls who could care less about boys? What triggers the switch?

Then, a couple of days before the performance, the first one appeared. A little red dot. That itched. Really itched. Then another. And more. Until I was covered in them.

I was taken to the pediatrician and to this day remember the exchange with him. I was sitting on the examination table, wearing the paper johnny and he said to my mother "Chicken Pox. She can't go out for a few days."

"But my play is in two days! Please can I be in the play?"

"No" he said firmly.

To which I burst into complete hysterical crying. Body shaking, hands over eyes, stomach aching crying. The pediatrician left the room, leaving my mother to deal with the slobbering, pox-infected child in front of her. And was I upset about missing the play? Not having a chance to perform?

No, I just wanted to be Lucy to Phil's Charlie Brown.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad

Me with my dad in 1969.

Happy Birthday Dad.

In case you don't know much about him, here are a few pieces to introduce you to the first man who had my heart.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My husband joined the street performers in Quebec

No he didn't run away. Well he almost did.

Away from the approaching performers determined to have him stand up and hold a flaming stick in the middle of a Quebec square. But he knew the kids would love it. And that I would love taking pictures.

He was brought up with several other men to hold up flaming torches.

So we thought he was done with his part of the performance as they moved on to juggling knives.

But apparently they were not done with him. The gentleman escorted Amazing Guy back up to the center for a solo visit (no other audience members) and requested he display his muscles.

He obliged.

Only to be used as a hat rack.

To a woman on stilts.

I'm glad Amazing Guy wasn't part of the last act. Since it involved a narrow flaming circle of knives balanced on the woman.

And the gentleman jumped right through.

The first week home the kids were playing with silverware. Good thing they don't know where the matches are kept.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Montmorency Falls, Quebec

The Montmorency Falls are a short drive outside of Quebec City, across from Isle D'Orleans (the Island of Orleans). While not as well known to Americans as Niagara Falls on the Canadian/US border and certainly not as large at the humongous Victoria Falls in Southern Africa, I am impressed by the sound of the rushing waters, the mists rising from the churn below and the shear height of the Fall. We always end up there on our second day in Quebec and do the same things.

We ride a cable car to the top (again avoiding many steep stairs. Notice a pattern?) and work our way to the suspension bridge that goes over the falls. First we notice the twisted trees that seem to grow out of rocks and boulders.

We cross the bridge, nervously (remember the falls are loud, there is mist and, well, there is a steep drop).

This year Amazing Guy noticed some folks professed their love of Canada. In logs.

And we found yet another playground. This was the only time during all of our Canadian playground excursions that we had a kid be mean to one of ours. A little guy, about our daughter's age (but much smaller), decided to follow her around and shove her at any chance. And while she didn't seem too bothered by it, her brothers were mad. They asked that we leave the playground. It did seem that the other mother was having a hard time with her demon child.

And just so there was no doubt about who they were in relations to their sister, this was how they left the playground for the return trip over the bridge.

Tomorrow: Final installment - Amazing Guy joins the street performers (and reconsiders his chosen profession).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A funeral procession in Quebec

The Mayor of Quebec, Madame Andree Boucher, passed away in late August. Her funeral was the Saturday we were in the old City.

We noticed there was no traffic when we walked past the wall. We were able to roam around and managed not to be near the Cathedral where the funeral mass was held. But while walking back up the hill, we saw hotel staff lining up for the procession taking her casket to the cemetery.

We decided to stop and wait as well. I gave the boys stern lectures to take off their caps and place them over their hearts as a sign of respect when the funeral procession came by.

I didn't feel comfortable taking too many photos of the actual procession. Each department of the city had a vehicle with flowers.

Suffice to say, I was a bit surprised when people around us broke into resounding applause as Madame Mayor's hearse came into views. The kids looked at me perplexed but I gave them a when in Rome look (or in this case Quebec) and we all joined in the applause.

Little lady started waving "to the people" in the limousines, members of her family, following the hearse. Several grandchildren (we later learned) were riding with their parents (the Mayor's children) in the cars. And I'm please to say that a few of them smiled after seeing my kids.

Only when I looked down did I realize that with one hand my three-year-old was waving while the other hand had hiked up her shirt and was rubbing her belly button.

At least they smiled.

Tomorrow: we cross the falls on a shaky foot bridge.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Old City of Quebec

As most of you know, we ran away to Quebec, Canada over Labor Day weekend. I have over 100 photos from this trip (doesn't count the ones I deleted to free up memory in my camera) and a slew of stories. I'm going to have to do this in parts. Now don't panic, I'm only sharing some of the photos and a few tales.

For the next few days.


Quebec City is perhaps best known for the walls surrounding the old city along the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

Yup, the St. Lawrence River from the 21st floor of our hotel.

The first day we're in Quebec City (the province or state it is in is also called Quebec, like New York City in New York State) we always walk past the provincial government buildings and walk through the old walls.

On the lookout atop the old wall.

The Old City is divided between an upper and lower sections. You can go between the two areas with lots of stairs (lots of steep stairs) or on a funicular.

We take the funicular.

Riding down to the lower section.

One thing we love about Quebec City is its playgrounds. Big climbing structures that let our kids go high into the sky.

Thar she blows!

For several years we do the same thing for morning snack on the first day. We buy ice cream at 10am. And every year the kids act like it is the greatest, most amazing thing in the world. They also wonder what happened to their parents because their real parents would never, ever buy them a treat before lunch!

Post-ice cream stroll.

While riding back up on the funicular (remember those stairs) one of our guys gave a detailed explanation of how it works (with much 7-year-old creativity and a smattering of reality). A fellow rider nudged me and said "He's going to be an engineer."

Going back up.

And our daughter is going to be a huckster. She was enthralled with every street performer in the city.

And there were a lot of them.

Drawn to the music.

Tomorrow: we stumbled upon the Mayor's funeral.


Be sure to check Jenn's and my photo site all this week. Not only does Jenn have some great images but we have a guest on Wednesday. Oh, and I picked my favorite Quebec photos to go there.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Scribbit's Write-Away

I'm trying again. No need to vote. I just need to acknowledge Scribbit's monthly Write-Away contest. September's theme is - yup - learning.

So if you want, feel free to visit one of my more glorious moments of parenting when "helping" my son learn how to ride a bike.

SOS - Introducing the awardee

Again, I skipped last week's collective bath hosted by Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's. And again I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the flexibility they give those of us that want to participate in Soap Opera Sunday. So now, aren't they wicked awesome? Go to their sites today to read their and other sudsy tales.

Here is another one of mine....

By the late 1990's I had married Amazing Guy (AG), gotten my masters degree in Maternal and Child Health and was working for this incredible organization seeking to make the health care system more equitable and accessible.

One sadness though was that my mentor, the man who had given me all of his knowledge, time and contacts so I could be the health care advocate I was becoming, was getting sicker and sicker from AIDS. He worked for a different non-profit so I nominated him for one of our organization's annual awards and he was selected. He, in turn, asked me to introduce him at the awards night.

Several hundreds of people attended the celebration, including one of our then Congressmen and his wife. My parents and husband came as well. I got up on stage with the Congressman on my right, and formally introduced my friend and mentor. I did not mention his potty mouth, his absolute love of repeating how I couldn't spot an erect elephant's, ahem, thang when I was on a safari (no, I haven't told you about it either), nor that he could be a bitchy queen.

I spoke with dignity about his intelligence, his compassion and how a poor client bought him a new leather carryall after watching him try to carry papers in a ratty, torn pouch.

So I gave him a hug and stepped back as he walked to the podium. He got up and said,

"When I learned I was getting this award, I knew I had to have Allison introduce me. She tells me a friend in New Orleans calls her 'a gay man trapped in a straight woman's body'. Since I consider myself a feminist lesbian trapped in a gay man's body, I knew we were meant to be friends...."

Did I mention there was a Congressman 7 feet from me?

And my dad was in the audience?

Next to my mother?

Who was next to my husband?

And over 200 other people including my colleagues, state legislators and funders?

As I sat back in my chair, Amazing Guy leans over and asks,

"If you are a gay man trapped in a straight woman's body, what does that make me?"

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Enough Said

by Pat Oliphant

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Inspiration by Brown

This morning I walked into the large warehouse of a well-known shipping company (let's just say I was in a sea of brown - brown trucks, brown uniforms). I walked under chutes, saw rows of trucks with packages neatly stacked and was surrounded by lots of loud noise. I had been asked to give a 3 minute speech about my organization's work for a fundraising initiative. It was during the 8:15 morning check-in before the drivers headed out for their runs.

I decided to focus on our efforts to change laws impacting foreclosures in our state. It's been in the news a lot and has resonated with other audiences.

The drivers had been hearing about different things during this brief meeting - schedules, injury prevention - and looked ready to go. As I started my speech, I asked how many folks had heard of the foreclosure crisis in our state. Some folks raised their hands but what I hadn't expected in the sea of 50+ faces was a certain reaction.

It was that obvious look on a few faces of how did she know?

Afterwards I commented to a manager that some of the drivers had probably delivered a foreclosure notice.

"Several of them have been foreclosed on" was his barely audible reply over the din.

I just wanted to turn and yell over the revving engines, "I'm trying to fix it!!"

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

First Grade at a New School

"IT'S FIRST GRADE!!!!!!!!!!"

Please note the caps, bold, larger font and multiple exclamation points to convey the emphasis that was put into this yelled statement.

Next to my bed at 2:15 this morning. Two fifteen Ante Meridiem (AM).

Do you think someone was excited?

Both boys were up at 5:50 Ante Meridiem (AM), dressed in 4 minutes and downstairs ready to go to school. Then. Right then. Even though school didn't start for another 2 1/2 hours.


They were beyond excited, clearly nervous and losing control. They were wrestling, quibbling about things and refusing to eat breakfast. This was a completely new school for them.

All along I planned on my kids attending public school. But when we didn't get two of the few full-day kindergarten slots in our town school system, we had to scramble to get them into a full-day program that could accommodate Amazing Guy (AG) and my work schedules. We also were dealing with the fact that the boys had already been in a year of kindergarten.

Yup, our boys were born 10 days before the cut-off for first grade. We didn't want them to be the youngest in their class so we decided that after a year in a small (only 9 kids with one teacher) kindergarten class, they would have another year in separate classes for no other reason than to get used to being apart. Nothing academic or social. We just wanted each boy to get a bit more comfortable in his own skin.

So between wanting this extra year, and not getting full-day kindergarten, we ended up in a parochial school. We always knew this would be a one year thing.


So off we all went this morning with only one kid having to spend time in his room for misbehaving. As we arrived we saw kids from previous soccer and basketball teams and kids who had attended their beloved preschool. All the first graders and their families went into the auditorium. The kids lined up beside their teachers' names on poster boards. Some kids were just looking around, others were having joyful reunions while others were bawling.

Then there were the parents. Some were just standing to the side watching, others were on top of their kids trying to introduce them to every other kid around, some were trying to pull their kids off of them while others were openly crying.

AG and I? We stood back and waved when they waved but otherwise hung back and talked to other parents. "Bye Mama!!" they both yelled when it was time to leave with their classes. Both have young teachers - one is still a "Miss" while another is just returning from maternity leave. They both seem capable and enthusiastic. Exactly what you would want your children's first grade teachers to be.

And after the boys left for their first grade class? AG and I didn't exactly skip out of the school.

But it was close.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Odds and ends

We're still coming up for air after getting in late last night and preparing for....

drum roll.....

FIRST GRADE (times two)!

So in the next day or two I will regale with tales of Quebec and bore you all with the obligatory slide show in the basement.

However, before you go I have some odds and ends to tend to.


Go visit Jenn's and my photo site, Looking Into, for a stunning image by none other than Aimee of Greeble Monkey. She is our first professional on the site and I really have this feeling of "one of the cool kids is hanging with us!" Thanks Aimee for sharing such a wonderful photograph. I also think her site, Greeble Monkey, is funny, talented and heartbreaking. Oh, and did you know she likes Crowded House? Alot?


Looking Into got its first recognition from a very talented photographer, Jams O'Donnell at The Poor Mouth. To be recognized for this little experiment of ours is pretty cool. To get it from someone like Jams who sees photography as an art and not simply a series of snapshots, well that is even cooler. Dare I say it? It is wicked cool.


Lastly, I promised that if anyone ordered from my list of suggested New Orleans businesses I would sing their praises. Who else but Flower Child in Washington DC would click the Dirty Coast link and viola!
"Check out my cool t-shirt from Dirty Coast! I LOVE IT!
FYI - I often order women's small but for this I ordered medium and it fits beautifully. And it's sooooo soft. Heavenly."

[And doesn't Flower Child have the cutest chin? I think so!]

Now just because you aren't hearing about New Orleans in the news anymore (you know, why should the press pay attention to it when the anniversary is gone?) doesn't mean you can't spend some money there. So let me know what you buy, even if it is Tony Chachere's at your local grocery store.