Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pre-prom sights

Things I saw in the yard just before taking prom photos.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Which I Attempt to Make Politics Poetical

Having become suddenly politically awakened by a looming school budget deficit, I attended three school board meetings in the past month. I feel the need to express my thoughts on the experience.  Since I can’t filibuster or blow anything up, you are stuck with this.  It's long and terrible, but not as long or as terrible as a school board meeting.

School Board Meeting Haikus

Revenues are down,
State pension underfunded.
School kids pay the price.

State legislators
Require school budgets on time
But not their own.  Huh?!

Anxious students ask
“Will you let this be the day
The music died here?”

Elderly worry –
Fixed income does not allow
For a tax increase.

Impassioned parents
Plead for kids in Special Ed
Who need classroom aides.

One speaker insults
Students and School Board Members.
He follows Ayn Rand.

Tea Party speaker
Makes more sense than the Ayn Rand
Enthusiast does.

Parents, students beg
To keep the gifted program:
“We need the challenge!”

“Limit government,”
Says one man, “We can’t afford
High quality schools.”

School Board members are
Not paid a dime for this, but
They are listening.

Teachers and the staff
Agree to freeze their wage and
Pay more for health care.

Back home, my husband
Thinks that all these words and pleas
Are to no avail.

Proposed as final,
But still to be revised yet,
The budget still lurks.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Concert or Football Game?

We interrupt our fun and frazzled end-of-the-school-year feelings for this important post.  The school music concert season is upon us again. The Common Household Mom has noticed that people at music concerts mistakenly behave as if they are at a football game. Here are the Common Household Helpful Hints on...

How to tell the difference between a school football game and a school music concert

Don't make noise here:

Make noise here:

Football game:  talking is allowed during the performance.
Music concert:  no talking.  It even explained this in the program, but I guess nobody in the Neanderthal crowd knows how to read, much less obey concert behavior guidelines.

This means you, teachers.  You are getting paid to be there. I appreciate your effort to set a good example by not getting caught talking:  you talk only during the music selections and are sure to be quiet during the applause portion.  Congratulations – you thoroughly marred my only chance this year to hear the 6th grade band. 

This means you, parents.  Even if you are keen to discuss your brilliant idea for bringing about peace in the Middle East, don’t do it now.  Wait until after the concert when the President calls you.  In case you hadn’t noticed, (and you hadn’t noticed, because you were talking) our high school orchestra is a lot better than the chance for peace in the Middle East.

This means you, students sitting in the back waiting for your turn to play.  Just shut it.  The students on stage now are working just as hard as you will be when it is your turn, and you owe them your respect and attention. 

Football game: moving about is encouraged.  Jump, pump your fist in the air, rock back and forth singing, “Heeeeey, hey Baby,  Oooh!   Aaaah! I wanna kno-o-o-o-w if you’ll be my girl.”
Music concert:  if you have to move about, please do it in between songs.  If you must leave the auditorium, leave through the back so you can avoid making noise opening the side doors.

To the little girl who had to leave during the music:  I forgive you.  You are young and didn’t know any better and probably needed to get to the bathroom right away.  I am grateful that at least you weren’t talking, although your parents probably were. And I appreciate that you waited to clang the door shut until right after my daughter’s viola solo.

Football game: takes place outside.  The sound of your voice at the football game carries no further than the bleacher which is 6 inches in front of your knees.  Go ahead, shout!  I can’t hear you anyway.
Music concert: takes place inside.  The sound of your whispering carries all the way across the auditorium, straight to my ears.  Go ahead, shut your mouth.

It may surprise all of you, but I did not come just to be seen by my child, but also to hear the music.  The elementary and middle school musicians are not quite on a par with, say, Itzhak Perlman, but they improve each time, and I love to notice the advancements they have made.  For instance, the 6th grade band is 127% better than the 5th grade band was. The high school musicians are just about on a par with Itzhak Perlman, and you should be listening closely and taking note of the names in the program.  Some of them will be famous someday.  Make sure when that moment comes, you can say, “I heard her perform,” and not “I was disrespectfully running my mouth when she performed.”

These concerts are the product of many class hours.  When you are invited to a concert, it is as if you are invited to attend your child's final exam.  You wouldn't talk during your kid's final exam in math, would you?

End of rant.  We now resume our regularly scheduled season of fun and frazzlement.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Seven Things Shunned by Teenagers

Ten teens gathered at our house for festivities of a birthday nature.  Ordinarily on hearing a statement like that, I would brace myself to hear a tale of destruction, excess, and violence. I am here to testify to you that if this crop of teens is any indication, there is hope for the newest generation of adults.  They didn’t wreck the furniture.  They didn’t make a huge mess.  They didn’t engage in illicit behavior.

They were well-mannered.  They gracefully included my two younger kids in the festivities.  They played fun party games.  They readily agreed to wash their hands before decorating cakes.

There were some things that they shunned, however.

1. Paper invitations:  I suggested this, but my daughter said, “Nah, I’ll just send them an e-mail.”  Score one for the environment, I guess.
2. Meat:  We ordered pizza, and no one wanted pepperoni, sausage, ham, etc.  This is both environmentally friendly and health-conscious.  Two points!

3. Napkins:  I followed them around like a puppy looking for love, with napkins in my hand to dole out.  Maybe shunning of napkins is environmental too.

4.  Chips:  My daughter made individual cakes for each guest, and had bought supplies for the cake-decorating portion of the party, but didn’t buy any other food.  My husband and I both thought, “It’s just not a party without chips!” so I bought two kinds.  The chips remained untouched by the teens.  Guess who ate them.

5. Ice bucket.  Before the guests arrived, I filled the ice bucket.  But it sat there unused.  I think teens do not recognize an ice bucket.  They did not have any idea what it was.

6. Diet soda without caffeine: As the hour got late, some of the kids wanted caffeinated soda, excuse me, I mean pop.  There was disgruntlement that the only kind we had with caffeine were also diet soda. 

7.  Leaving before my bedtime:  For some reason my daughter had told her friends that the party would go from 5 to around 9 pm.  I thought that 9 pm sounded kind of early to end a teen party, but since that’s just 30 minutes before my bedtime, I certainly did not object.  Some of them left by 9:30, including one young man who insisted on finding me so that he could shake my hand and thank me.  (I loved this.  He was raised in another country.)  A few teens stayed on, playing games like “Apples to Apples” and “Curses.”  When I was too tired to stay up anymore, I thought of playing “The Party’s Over” on the piano as a subtle suggestion.  But then I decided to just let my night-owl husband handle things, and I went to bed. 

Best Teen Party EVAH!

Any teenagers in your vicinity?  What do they shun?

Some of the cakes, decorated:

Good use of gummy worm - not too many

Note side decorations and prominent peep placement

This cake has the answer to life, the universe, and everything. 
Thanks for all the Swedish fish.

A lovely beach-ocean scene.  I don't know what those dark M&Ms are supposed to be.

So happy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Botany for Dummies

The Common Household Husband took it upon himself, this past Saturday, to trim the bushes.  We have an entire hedge made of forsythia, which we (and by that I mean The Husband) trim every year right after it blooms, thereby preventing it from having an excess number of blooms next year, since forsythia forms next year’s buds right after it is done blooming.

Last year we planted a new bush in front of our house.  This spring it had one solitary bloom on it, which is about what I expected given my gardening results so far during the past 18 years. Remaining ever hopeful for next year, and thinking that the forsythia blooming principle might apply to the new bush, I specifically asked my husband not to trim the rhododendron bush. 

He said, “What rhododendron?  We don’t have a rhododendron.”

I said, “Well, it’s an azalea then.  The bush in front of the house.  Don’t trim it.” 

He:  “What azalea in front of the house?  What are you TALKING about? We don’t have any azalea in front of the house.”

Me:  “The new bush we planted last year.”

He:  “That’s not an azalea or a rhododendron.”

Me:  “Whatever it is, Don’t Trim It!”

My anti-trimming message got through, but the plant still has an identity crisis, as do a few other plants in our suburban cropland.  So, dear reader, can you help me identify these plants? If you click on the photo,  you should get an enlarged version so you can see the leaf shape better.

Plant 1:  The Bush In Front of the House with Solitary Bloom
I know the bloom is kind of blurry in the photo, but I can't go back and take another photo because this was weeks ago, and the bloom is long gone.

Plant 2: Either Grass or Day Lily
If it's grass, I'm yanking it.  If it's a day lily, I'll leave it for the deer and rabbits to eat when it flowers.

Plant 3:  Either Day Lily or Grass
See note for Plant 2.

I used to keep a map of this plot of land, showing where I had planted things.  (This is what my father did when he had a large vegetable garden.  He also keeps records of all his scores on Scrabble games.) I have to grow perennials here, because it is a hillside with poor soil, and it’s too difficult to plant annuals each year.  In the past few years, I have given up on the map.  I just stick some perennials in, and hope for the best.

I do know what the following plants are named, and am amazed that they continue to grace this hapless piece of land.

Bleeding Heart, type 1  (more delicate but blooms for short period of time)


Bleeding Heart, type 2 (less delicate, but blooms longer)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Sacrificial Passover Ham

While I was with my parents over spring break, my husband was taking his mother home from our house, in the opposite direction from where I was.  He found his own set of difficulties to deal with, but we tried to support each other across the distance.  As I complained to him about my parents’ situation, he completely sympathized, as he had gone through similar problems during the last year of his own father’s life.

When we started the drive home Easter Sunday morning, I was all out of energy.  Instead of stopping for a lunch break, we pushed on through and made it home by mid-afternoon.  As we came in the house, there was a heavenly aroma of... bacon?!   I turned the corner from the kitchen to the dining room and there was... an Easter lily!  And heading upstairs there was... my own bathroom.  At the Old Folks Home it was difficult to take a relaxing shower, so the first thing I did when I got home was hop in the shower.  After that, my husband encouraged me to take a nap.  I slept for two hours.  Oh, bliss!

After my nap, I investigated the bacon aroma.  It wasn’t bacon, but was pretty close.  My husband had gone whole hog, shall we say, and cooked a ham on the bone for our Easter dinner.  This may seem like nothing out of the ordinary, but I must remind my readers that it was still Passover.  While the Common Household does not keep kosher, they avoid pork during major Jewish holidays.  Making a ham was a supreme sacrifice for my husband, who is a bona fide nice Jewish boy. 

At the same time, he also made an entire second dinner, in case someone would refuse to eat the ham.  He roasted a turkey breast with vegetables.  He stir-fried some broccoli, and mashed some potatoes.  He really went all out.  Just one more thing needed to complete our Easter dinner – matzo, of course. 

As we sat down to our Easter ham dinner, I saw a parallel, however distant, between God’s sacrifice leading to the Easter resurrection, and the sacrificial meal and reviving naptime my husband offered me.  There was a reason that ham tasted so heavenly.

We have returned to our non-pork existence, but when I use the oven, there is still a faint aroma of bacon that wafts out at me when I open the oven door.  And there are several meals worth of ham in the freezer. 
The Easter-Passover Ham

The non-ham Easter dinner

Easter Still-Life with Lily, Matzo, and Ham

Friday, May 6, 2011

I will have more to say later

There is more to say about the Common Household Easter celebration.  But it will have to wait.  For those who make their money from forecasting crops (I am one), this is a very busy time of year.  The impossible task of determining how much land will be planted to corn, soybeans and wheat falls to me.  I have been working almost non-stop.  This is a good thing.

It is also Common Household birthday season, which begins in late April and ends in late June.  Tomorrow evening twelve or more teenagers will attend a cake decorating party at our house.  This celebration was postponed (from April) until after the birthday girl’s AP tests were over.  So tomorrow morning there will be a flurry of cleaning.  Perhaps some decorating.  And much ordering of pizza and drinking of soda.   This is a good thing.

The dear Common Household Husband’s birthday is on Sunday.  We will probably go to a baseball game.  We hardly ever go to a baseball game.  This is a good thing.

Many of you asked this past week how my parents are.  I am happy and grateful to report that their health is improving. My mother is cleared to drive again, and has started to dive back into her activities.  My father is slowly recovering from his root canal.   This is a good thing.

Many good things, little time to think or write.  Soon, soon.

Earthday Cake, made by Youngest Daughter.

Happy belated Earth Day!