Fall woods

Fall woods

Monday, November 20, 2017

Just Priceless

A good friend of mine and frequent geocaching partner is an Assistant Scoutmaster.  He had to pass the Boy Scouts’ Wilderness First Aid training course in order to qualify to go on some crazy hiking trip or other next summer, so he spent the weekend up north freezing his butt off and learning what to do in case of various medical emergencies on the trail.  As he put it, if the parents knew all the scenarios they train for, they'd never let their kids go on these hikes.

At any rate, one of the potential injury types they discussed was bites from poisonous snakes (my personal worst hiking fear, so I’m glad my usual hiking partner now knows what to do if it happens.) The EMTs who teach this course told the group that women are generally bitten on the feet and legs, while men are more frequently bitten on the hands, arms and face.  When my friend told me this, I burst out laughing.  Of course, it’s because women have the sense to leave the snakes alone and try to get away, while men lean over them and poke them and try to grab them!!  Too funny.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Some Things Never Change

When my children were young, my mother, who is very good with a needle, got tired of seeing them freezing on the sidelines of soccer and baseball games and made the three of them an enormous blanket of heavyweight flannel for outdoor use that is affectionately known to one and all as the “Nana blanket.”  Two layers thick, one printed with soccer balls and the other with a space motif; it’s a good solid armload to carry but it has lived in the trunk of my car during cold weather sports seasons (and seen a whole lot of use) for the better part of seven or eight years now.

Thing One had a soccer game tonight starting at 8PM.  Outside.  I would guess the gametime temperature was hovering around 30, but at least it wasn’t windy.  Because I am still a mother no matter HOW big my kids get, I quietly walked over to his team’s bench at the beginning of the game and placed the folded Nana blanket on one end.  Sure as hell, by halftime there were half a dozen fourteen-year old boys huddled together under it!

Thanks again, Mom.  :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Not Sure If I Should Be Offended On Behalf Of All Women Or Just Myself!

So, Petunia decided that she was going to do a little Halloween decorating last week.  She dug through the big bin of decorations in the basement and chose some to put up, including a sign much like this one.

Note that there is a little tie at the top of the star where the "in" is written, so that it can be turned around to read "out."

After a day or two, I noticed that the star was being turned regularly, so I asked her about it.

M: "I see that you're turning the star on the witch sign.  Who is the witch?"

P: "You are, Mom."

M: "Uh..."  

P: "You're the lady in the house.  That makes you the witch."

Gee thanks, kid.  Out of the mouths of babes.  Happy Halloween, everyone!!

Monday, October 30, 2017


I’ve been hesitating to write this post because nothing bad actually happened to me, which makes me way luckier than so many other people currently using this hashtag.  Abuse of power is abuse of power, though, and there was an incident back in grad school that still infuriates me to this day.

My graduate program had a retreat every year, at which we would present our own research and  listen to a keynote speech by a leading national scientist. One of those years, the program head asked me and a few other students to pick up our keynote speaker from the airport.  He was and is famous, and until that day I respected him immensely.  The group of us had a lovely conversation all the way to the venue from the airport. He told us all about his wife, his kids, his research...in short, he came across as a really nice guy.

Unfortunately for my opinion of him, later that night, he tried to get me into the elevator to go to his hotel room with him.  He told me it was lonely up there all by himself.   I was so na├»ve at the time that I was absolutely stunned. I couldn’t believe that anybody would really talk so openly to me about his wife and children only a few hours before and then expect me to sleep with him.  I told him to piss off, turned around and walked away. If he said anything back, I didn’t hear it.

I didn’t report him to anybody. I didn’t think they’d believe me if I did. To this day, I wish that I had tried.  I have no idea if he would’ve tried to sabotage my career in retaliation, but as it happened I went into a different branch of science after I earned my doctorate, in which I was entirely safe from him regardless.

Wonder how many other times he got away with it.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Another Loss

My high school class’s Facebook group blew up this afternoon with news that a classmate died by her own hand today, a consequence of years of crippling depression.  Apparently she posted a goodbye note on Facebook (I did not see it) that included instructions of what to do with her animals but nobody got to her in time, and if that isn’t just horrifyingly awful I don’t know what is.  (Mom and Dad, nobody you know...don’t think you would recognize her name if I said it to you.)

The friend of hers who shared the news with the group also shared the news that she herself suffers from severe bipolar 1 illness and survived a suicide attempt last year, which was news to me despite the fact that she (unlike the other woman) is actually a Facebook friend of mine.  The candor of her post blew me away.  The most amazing thing, though, was some of the supportive comments from other classmates.  Several are fighting depression themselves and on medication for it.  One lost her mother to suicide a few years ago.  Another lost a friend to suicide.  All things I had not known before today.  And most of these people I would have considered the ‘cool’ folks back in high school, proof (if any was needed) that mental illness respects nothing including social status and strikes across the board.

The first post included words to the effect that awareness is what makes the most difference to someone who struggles; having friends and loved ones to check in, to help, to support, to listen.  So, for what it’s worth, here’s my tiny candle in the darkness, and if anyone needs to talk, I am here to listen.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On The Increasing Usefulness Of My Eldest

It’s been one of those days.  Tomorrow will be another.  And per Mrs. Murphy’s Law, Himself is out of town yet again.  Both Thing Two and Petunia have math homework due Monday and not much time tomorrow to do it, so I had them working on it after dinner tonight. Thing Two’s was done but needed to be checked over, while at the same time Petunia (who had a sleepover last night, which I suspect from her behavior afterward involved very little actual sleep) was completely melting down over her inability to understand hers.  

Given that I have not yet managed to clone myself, the next best option was to grab Thing One off the sofa in the family room and send him to the kitchen table with Thing Two’s homework.  He’s three years ahead of Thing Two in school...figured he could handle checking sixth grade high math.  He caught the few errors and explained how to correct them, which left me free to calm down the crying fifth grader, make sense of her homework (why, why, WHY do they so often require diagrams for problem solving these days??) and then put her to bed.

Teenagers...not just for babysitting anymore. Gotta love it!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Yeah, I’m Still Here

It’s just been a tough couple of weeks and I’ve been too darned busy and tired to blog.  Crazy kid schedule, crazy schedule for me, status quo around here.  The big news is that the belt test went fine on the 30th and I am now an official ITF-certified first degree black belt in taekwondo, but that actually isn’t what prompted me to finally sit my butt down at the computer, at least not directly.

I went to lunch today with a big group of my ninja girlfriends, one of whom is the Egyptian former instructor who started studying taekwondo to show her then-tween daughter that the headscarf she wears as an observant Muslim does not limit her.  Love this woman.  Her daughter is now a college sophomore at a major state university and pursuing a teaching degree.  As a function of their conservative religious beliefs and her gender, they require her to live at home during college,  although she is free to participate in whatever activities she is interested in at school and it sounds like she is away from home most of any given day.  I can understand and respect that as a compromise given where they are coming from.  The interesting thing, though, came up when we started discussing the elder of their two sons, who is currently a high school senior.  I asked where he was looking at for college next year, and she listed four universities that are in our general area, although some would be a further drive than others.  This made me wonder if they were requiring him to live at home while he attended college as well, so I inquired.

Turns out that the answer is yes, but not for the reason you might expect.  They recognize that they are asking a lot of their daughter, who is American-born and -bred, in the name of their religion by requiring that she live at home while attending college, so in a spirit of fairness and solidarity they are extending the same requirement to her brothers.  They don’t want her to feel singled out simply on the basis of her gender, so they will be treating all three the same way.

I can’t even imagine the tightrope she and her husband walk daily as conservative Egyptian Muslim parents trying to raise three children in an overwhelmingly Christian, white-bread part of America without losing their cultural identity.  It must be tremendously difficult for them, and I give them all kinds of credit.  They are good people and they are raising three fine children.