Friday, December 15, 2017

About to explode

The government is trying to tell the CDC scientists they can't use words like fetus, diversity, and science-based.

It's time to read Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny.  Again.

Do not obey in advance.

"Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do. Anticipatory obedience is a political tragedy."

"When political leaders set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become more important. It is hard to subvert a rule-of-law state without lawyers, or to hold show trials without judges.  Authoritarians need obedient civil servants, and concentration camp directors seek businessmen interested in cheap labor."

First, they eliminate the intellectuals.

This decision to forbid scientists from using certain words is coming from the same people who claim they haven't been able to say "Merry Christmas" while the black man was in the Oval Office.

Call your congressman, call your senators, call Secretary Tom Price, call the Pope, call your neighbor and tell them that if they allow this, it is just the next step in the downfall of U.S. democracy.  Resist.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Prayers on Thanksgiving Day

Prayers uttered on Thanksgiving Day by the Common Household Mom

O God of Mercy,

Please grant me your merciful permission to cook the turkey with the neck inside. 

Alas, my sinful ways have caused me to start defrosting the turkey only 6 days ahead of time.  In my human hubris, I had imagined this to be enough time to fully defrost the 14-pound turkey, but I did not take into account that the temperature in the back of the fridge is less than at the front.  My human pride in this caused there to be a coating of ice in the regions in which an underpaid and overworked assembly line worker stuffed in the bag of giblets and the other end in which a same such worker stuffed the neck. 

Grant me the wisdom and fortitude to spend extra huge amounts of money on a fresh turkey next year.  But this is only assuming that I can request the giblets and the neck on the side, instead of in. 


* * * * *

O Lord,

Forgive me for secretly reacting with disdain when my husband appeared at 10 AM (only after my struggle with the giblets), looked in the refrigerator, and said, “There’s nothing to eat in here.”


* * * * *

God of Providence,

Thank you for providing us with the bounty of a working clothes washer and dryer.  We praise you for your continued upholding of the plumbing.  We are reminded of this scripturish passage:

And they shall descend upon your household as grasshoppers for multitude,  heavy laden with all manner of soiled clothing;
they shall approach with laundry bags overflowing.
And day by day for the entire Thanksgiving weekend shall the washer be in use.
Woe be unto you mothers and fathers who did not have the wisdom and foresight to finish your own laundry before your offspring arrived.
                                    The Book of Admonitions 10: 2-5


* * * * *

 As always, Lord, thank you for pie.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mr. Golden Sun: Thanksgiving survey results

Nobody said that the beach was their favorite place.
Too much sand.

Thanksgiving survey: Places

1. Name a place where you have never been, but for which you are grateful, and explain why.

Answers received from the Common Household extended family:

a. Only 2 questions?

b. Switzerland – They seem civilized, not prone to violence, and they make good chocolate and good timepieces.

c. Antarctica, because it’s where the emperor penguins live.  The mother penguin lays the egg and the father carries the egg on his feet.  The mother goes tobogganing off to find fish to feed the whole family.  And the father produces milk!

d. The vet, because it means I don't have to take care of gross dogs.

e. That place in the sun where the reaction takes place that creates sunlight, because that provides light and heat for the earth.

f.  The core of the earth.

g. the refrigerator

h. The Forbidden Island

i. kelp beds

j. the sun – gives us light and keeps us warm.

(Please click to enlarge)
Pictionary Telephone game, in which
"Now is the winter of our discontent
made glorious summer" becomes
"Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun"

2. Name your favorite place on earth (other than your home).

Answers received from the Common Household extended family:

a. Only 2 questions?

b. Vermont – Little River State Park, B & Bs, fishing, Ben & Jerry's

c. (still thinking about it)

d. Maryland, because that is where my family is.

e. the local park, because it is a nearby place where I can enjoy nature.

g. The top of a mountain with a lovely view on a sunny day.

j.  Solon, OH.

(Please click to enlarge)
Pictionary Telephone game, in which
the survey question was used as a
starter sentence.
3. A bonus question was not posed; however, a bonus answer was received.

Answers received:
i.  bonus answer

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thanksgiving survey: places

A time-honored tradition in the Common Household: the turkey pillow

It's time for the Common Household time-honored tradition of the

Thanksgiving survey:

1. Name a place where you have never been, but for which you are grateful, and explain why.

2. Name your favorite place on earth, other than your home (although I’m not trying to say that your home is necessarily your very favorite place on earth).  Bonus if you say why it's your favorite.

Please participate by giving your answers in the comments.  Happy Thanksgiving Preparation Week!

Chautauqua Holy Land Map

How to make sure your letter gets to the place you intend it to get to

Best Poem Ever with the word "Place" in the title

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What do empty nesters think about?

In this Common Empty Nest Household, it is just my husband and I now.  Often our thoughts turn to…. food and drink, of course.

Husband, about the casino:  Their desserts aren’t very good.  I know, because I’ve tried them all.

Husband:  When we get a new refrigerator I would like to get one with ice replication technology.

Me: The grocery store has replaced the deodorant section with wine.
Husband:  Well, that seems very French.

Husband:  There are only two kinds of bagels here.  This is not America.

Husband was reading an article in the newspaper about the overabundance of Asian carp.
Husband:  If there are so many carp, why doesn’t the price of gefilte fish come down?  There’s collusion!  There’s collusion in the gefilte fish industry.  There should be an investigation…. You think I’m kidding.

* * * * * * * * *
On that note, I must reveal to you this brilliant limerick, cribbed from NPR’s September 23rd episode of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!  In this radio game show, the contestant is supposed to fill in the final word of the limerick.

Bill Kurtis:
“This jar is my Jewish old realtor’s wish
It’s a gourmet, fine smoked-to-the-filter dish.
Beige dumplings of pike
Will get a price hike
We’re selling some high end ________”

Contestant:  “Gross disgusting fish.”

Peter Sagal:  I’ll give it to you!  You’re right!  Although technically, it’s called ‘gefilte fish’. Just in time for the Jewish High Holy Days, it's artisanal gefilte fish. If you're unfamiliar with this delic-atrocity, gefilte fish is an appetizer traditionally prepared by a rabbi with a cold who puts a piece of pike or carp in his mouth and then sneezes it out through his nose into a Manischewitz jar.

You’re welcome.  Now you may go eat.

Post-script:  I do believe that this limerick represents the only time in human history that ‘gefilte fish’ has ever been rhymed. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Defiant Joy

Look!  Our vacuum cleaner is a progressive!
I saw this news report saying that the negativity we encounter in the news and on social media can rob us of joy.  With the leaf truck making its first visit joyful of the season today, I shut off the media and went out to multiply my joy by picking up our vacuum cleaner.

Our vacuum cleaner had languished at the repair shop for two months.  I had gone in, about a month in, and asked about it, but the person just said they were waiting for a part.  Another month went by.  My husband called, and got a detailed explanation about faulty employees, an apology, and a promise to do better.

Being without the vacuum cleaner did not rob me of joy, but still, we decided that it was time to reclaim what is rightfully ours. Today I went to pick up the vacuum cleaner.  The staff were apologetic.  I said, fine, I just want my vacuum cleaner back. I calmly pointed out that since they didn’t fix the broken part, I shouldn’t have to pay anything. They agreed and added that all the employees we encountered up to now have been fired from their company.  I expressed sympathy for their business suffering from poor employee behavior.  It sincerely grieves me to see a business not do well because of jagoffs*.  But I also pointed out that it was only when my (male) husband got involved that we found out what was truly going on with our vacuum cleaner.

Text to my husband about vacuum cleaner: 
another fun part of married life

I triumphantly put the (still broken) vacuum cleaner in the car and started for home.  I turned on the radio, which lately I have set to the classical music station because it has more joy than NPR these days. As the traffic light turned green I recognized the strains of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 4th movement.  That’s the one with full orchestra, full chorus, full soloists, full everything.  The one Ludwig wrote when he was stone deaf.

Beethoven’s Symphony of Joy.  O Freude! I turned up the volume and cracked my window open.  Spreading joy!

I thought of how the vacuum cleaner repair place only gave results to my husband, and not me.  I thought of how, throughout the years, when we had an issue with our kids’ school, school officials would respond meaningfully to my husband, but not me.  Some people are stone deaf when it comes to listening to a woman.

I thought of the time when, as a young single woman feeling uncertainty and angst in my life, I went to seek help from my pastor, a married man twice my age.  As I expressed my psychological agony to him, his response was to take me in his arms and kiss me, full on the lips.  I cannot tell you the shame and confusion I felt at that moment, and still feel on remembering it.  This is, to my knowledge, the first time I have mentioned this to anyone.

Me too.

This, my first “me-too” moment that I remember, was not as severe or traumatic an experience of sexual harassment or assault as other women have had.  It took me a while to realize that my experience counts as part of the culture that allows it all to happen.  I am mistrustful of social media campaigns like this “me too” thing, but I felt compelled to declare that it has happened to me, too. I want to acknowledge that I have forgiven that man.  All of us, including me, are prone to make judgments of error.  I was not permanently scarred by this incident.

Pulling onto the main road and growing defiant in the way only a middle-aged suburban woman can, I turned up the Symphony of Joy to ear-splitting volume and rolled down both windows. 

I thought of the all the times when I was the only woman in the business meeting with about twenty men.  One of them cracks an off-color sexist joke.  They all laugh.  Then the jokester turns to me to “apologize.” I thought of the time I was at the Paris office for one of those meetings.  I needed to make photocopies for the meeting but had no clue how their photocopier worked.  A grain trader came up to me and asked me to make his photocopies.  Because apparently men couldn’t do things like make photocopies.

I decided it doesn’t matter if the sexist-joke-plus-apology or the men-don’t-do-office-tasks was full-on sexual harassment that qualifies as part of my me-too list, or just jagoff behavior. (I wonder what it is like in the office of the ******-in-Chief.)  

I thought of the time the male doctor I went to about a sore throat felt compelled to feel me up, somewhere lower than my throat. That happened when I was married, and I told my husband.  He encouraged me to report the doctor.  But somehow I knew that reporting it would cause me far more grief and pain than it would the doctor.  After all, it was my word against his.  My silence added to my shame - because I wasn’t willing to fight it.

Me too.

Then I thought of instances I have seen recently of men minimizing women. You know, it’s 2017, and it’s still okay to suggest that a woman can be paid less than a man for the same work, especially if the woman is married to a man making a professional salary.  You know, it’s okay to call a woman by a demeaning nickname rather than her actual name, and if you have a problem with it, you need to lighten up, honey. Those of you who do these things – yinz are jagoffs.  And don’t say that my objections make it impossible for you to interact with women at all.  Just treat women respectfully as your equal.  It’s that simple.

The chorus and orchestra were by now blasting All Joy out of my car windows into the suburban street.  I fully entered into defiant joy, driving aggressively under the speed limit for maximum effect. 

I must proclaim, in my defiant joy, that nearly all of the men in my life have been genuine, kind, respectful, worthy, upstanding human beings.  I have encountered many pastors who listen respectfully to me and respond appropriately.  The company I currently contract with has none of those shenanigans at meetings.  As Beethoven and Schiller put it:

Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium…
Alle Menschen werden Brüder**,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Joy, beautiful spark of divinity,
Daughter from Elysium…
All men shall become brothers**,
wherever your gentle wings hover.

I forgive the sexual harassment and discrimination directed at me.  Let’s wise up, people, and learn how to treat all of us with respect.

* Jagoff (definition): ˈjaɡˌôf/ noun (chiefly in western Pennsylvania) a stupid, irritating, or contemptible person.
At the request of my husband, rampant use of this word in this post has been reduced to just three instances.

** Dang it, it’s just impossible to escape gender-non-inclusive language.  I guess I have to forgive Beethoven and Schiller for their 18th century verbiage.