Monday, October 27, 2008

Marriage is a social contract

I am going to come out and talk about another unpopular subject. Marriage. I think this country is facing some HUGE HUGE HUGE issues and marriage is one of them.

Some people in this country are rather vocal about Marriage being between one man and one woman and all about LOVE. Really? Let's examine this.

Marriage gets me a break on my taxes and my health benefits. It gets me certain rights, specifically if my partner dies. I get tax advantages when inheriting my partner's personal property. Marriage means I can own property with my partner in a special married persons sort of way. The tax advantages tied to marriage are huge. The distribution of wealth in the marriage contract are rather advantageous.

Marriage means my children have certain advantages - specifically where property and their financial care is concerned. It also affords them certain protections and customs for their care - should the partnership dissolve.

Marriage means that my life partner can make certain choices for me or will be afforded certain courtesies should I be ill and in the hospital.

Marriage used to mean - that I was property. That I was no longer my fathers financial burden but rather my husbands.

In many cases I would be the "prize" to seal a land swap or some other deal worked out by the men in power.

Is anyone detecting a pattern here?

Marriage is and historically was about money and legal rights. We as a cultural have dressed it up to be about love. Sure maybe it is. In our culture it is a blend of all of the above. In many cultures around the world it is about property, marriages are arranged and are not "love matches" there is an air of practicality.

I fully support "gay marriage." I think that a culture is strengthen by stable unions. If we are going to afford all these "rights" to married people - then everyone should have the right to pair off as they see fit.

If marriage is going to be about a man and a woman being in love - then nix the special tax benefits and make it about love and all that who-haw.

It should not be about both. It should not be exclusive. A union that combines should not simultaneously exclude others from certain rights.

Taxes are a function of government and Marriage can either be a function of government (social contract) or a function of love or a function of the religious right.

It matters not to me - as long as the playing field is equal and fair.

Are my gay friends no more or less in love and no more or less committed that H and I? Who am I to judge? Who is the religious right? Or defenders of marriage?

If anyone for a minute thinks that the weddings and marriages in the Biblical times had solely to do with LOVE, they need to think again. It was legalized slavery. Women were bought and sold - dressed up as marriage. It was about money and property and getting one more mouth out of the tent and into someone else's tent. Could Love happen? Sure. But it was not about love - it was about money and the clan and honor and it was all about MEN! As an aside - in many biblical cultures - men had more than one wife! Kinda makes the one man and one woman thing seem like a newer concept now doesn't it.

I would also humbly submit that families are best built by free choice and that LOVE comes in all forms and is splendid.

Taxes advantages and wealth distribution should not be tied to a social contract available to a select group. Where is the democracy in that?

The season...

of not eating is here! I am busy writing for one of my clients and I am doing some short blog entries and it hit me - From Halloween through New Year's I spend a disproportionate amount of time explaining why I am not eating X, Y or Z.

Nope no snickers pie for me. Nope sorry no caramel apples, caramel apple pie, pumpkin pie, cranberry corn bread stuffing, corn bread, Christmas cookies, cocktail weenies, fudge, sticky pudding, or eggnog. No Christmas Stoelen, sticky buns or otherwise.

I do plan to explore some me friendly versions of the above once MY KITCHEN is finally done, but the bottom line for me, holiday parties are lean for me and well that is ok. I tend to stay the same size during the holidays and I no longer have to resolve to hit the gym 5 days a week come January.

I am however considering making myself a sign "I eat bird seed! Happy Holidays!" or "Do you know what is in that? Yeah! Me either, so I am not eating it..."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just shut up and nod...

Ok I have developed a skill. I call it "Shut Up and Nod..." I have learned that some things are worth addressing and sometimes it is just better to shut up and nod!

For example, the contractor sent someone over to clean today. Just here and there becasue the trim guys got saw dust all over the place becasue they had not hung up the plastic over the bathroom door.

OMG there is so much dust in my house how in the hell did they notice yesterday's saw dust.

I just held my tongue and nodded. Frankly yesterday I was too tired to think straight, let alone argue...

Today they installed a temp sink and counter.... Why? I get that the counter is going to take a week or so before it is ready to be installed and that we are slowly inching to the finish line - but DO THEY SERIOUSLY think I am going to sort of move into my partially done kitchen. Are they insane? I am not moving anything into that kitchen until they are DONE and vacate and I can clean properly...

So I just nodded and agreed that it was SO nice to have my temp sink and counter top...

Really it is just easier...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bicycle made for 4 +

In my less than veiled attempts to get everyone pumped up about pedal power - I bring you the bicycle surrey!

It has a basket in the front for little people E road up there and L between H and I. E was excited becasue we had found a bike with no handle bars and L was a front seat steerer...

All good and a great way to get around the island.

Just think of the possibilities in the city. Perfect for trips out to dinner, to the grocery and back and forth to school.

Ponder... gas is cheaper but think of all the pounds burned and the gas conserved! Plus it SO is like a car! *note the headlights!*

See what happens...

when you go on vacation and leave the contractors alone in your house!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stowaways will walk the plank

We checked out St. Simon's Island, the island adjacent to where we are staying. There are a number of historical building and a light house. It was dark and my pictures did not come out so well.

But the highlight of the evening was on the way home in the cool moonlight. We had a stowaway. A small greenish brown frog. We had seen it in the morning, but thought it had exited the car. Only to have it return on the ride home.

He sat on the dash board, just to the left of the steering wheel as I drove. He was sitting there all thoughtful and perhaps hyperventilating just a touch. We are all laughing about the frog and what he might be thinking.

I said he was helping me drive and E kept saying I was a "silly girl!"

To enter our island we have to stop at a checkpoint and pay the "parking fee." I wondered idly if the frog jumped out and landed on the toll booth attendant if we got a free pass?

When we pulled in and parked, H managed to usher the frog out of the car and into the grass. All is well that ends well, but I can't help but think I should have told the frog that sometimes, very often, the stowaway has to walk the plank.

AS we went to sleep, H said, "That frog looked a bit familiar. Kinda like the one on your blog."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tea-ed Up!

So I am vacationing in the south. So I wanted some ice tea. We have well water in the cottage on the island and so I used the insta-hot on the sink. Floated my tea bags, poured it over ice, took a sip and promptly spit it out. OMG that was gross! It tasked like boiled eggs and tea. Yuck.

So while we were out this afternoon, I went into the pizza shoppe across from the beach and this is what went down...

Me: Do you have brewed ice tea?

19 yr old surf dude: Sweet or Un-sweet?

Me: How do you sweeten the sweet tea?

19: Um, well with sugar. how do sweeten yours?

Me: With sugar. But you just never know. I am worried about corn syrup.

19: I made it myself. I used plain old white sugar. I do not think anyone has every asked me that before... I doubt we have any corn syrup....

Me: Well see there is a first time for everything. I will take one, lite on the ice.

19: Ok, it will be $1.61...

as I walk out I overhear him say to his buddy - she thought we made our tea with pancake syrup. It is a pizza shop - why would we have pancake syrup....(he kept shaking his head.)

See I am totally freaking out people - but seriously...One never knows. And yes - that sweet tea was divine....

The eagle has landed...

Well we made it. I was up with H at 5:15 am yesterday and I got myself all set and ate before I woke up the little people. E was too cute. I asked if he was ready for vacation? He smiled and asked "Is she coming over?" I laughed and told him we would be going for her.

We picked up my mom and got gas and still made it to the parking area a bit ahead of schedule! I know it seems crazy, but I planned it out on a time line - that is one of my tricks when traveling with children. It pays to not have to run and to hurry. Thinking it through made the trek to Germany doable solo and yesterday was no different.

My plan all worked out. Everything was on time and I had planned ahead and built in potty time and sitting time and in ALT H met us for lunch and there was a small play area. Perfect.

The only hitch is in ATL they have not elevator - so I had to fold the stroller and carry it up 2 flights of stairs on the way in and then again on the way out. Ugh. Seriously. I am not the only one traveling with a stroller. So there I was - L's backpack on, my purse and computer bag and the stroller, whilst supervising E. I will say though the guy behind was kinda impressed. Perhaps he mistook me for a wilting lily and not the seasoned traveler that I am.

The house is fantastic. Great view, nice and roomy. I know most people would pack in more people, but the entire point of this trip is a nice vacation for my Mom and I would rather spend some extra money to ensure peace and tranquility and not be a sardine - no make that a grouchy sardine.

The car rental was a breeze, we hit the grocery and then got to our cottage. Ate a quick dinner and walked the beach before bed.

I promise I will share pictures later... but right now the priority is beach toys and beach time...

Happy Happy Weekend one and all...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

see I am not the only one...

Saw this on Yahoo whilst researching an article. See I am not the only one nay saying on the bail out.... or laying blame at the feet of several key people.

An American in Paris

I have actually never to Paris. I want to go - alas the dollar is worthless and I will remain state side for the time being.

I have spent a reasonable amount of time off and on over the last 20 years overseas, specifically in Germany. I studied abroad, I have visited friends and family. I have experienced German culture not from a tour bus but from the living rooms and pubs, with actual Germans. I went to school in German for a bit and I have just done normal daily stuff.

(Switching gears - trust me we will get back to the topic.)

I live less than a 1/2 from L's school. I have mentioned before that I walk while most of the neighbors drive. L loves to ride the bike train. She enjoys biking. So of late we have been biking. Now I happen to believe that there is biking and then there is riding your bike.

Biking is the kind of activity that requires a special work out type outfit. The point of biking is to work up a sweat, train for an upcoming event, ride for miles and miles and miles.

Riding your bike is how you get from point A to point B. Perhaps it is a distance a bit too far to walk or your mood fancies a ride over a walk. It is not speedy per se, but rather leisurely and calming and peaceful. You can dress in more or less normal every day clothing.

(Back to my topic)

In Europe and specifically in Germany, people ride their bikes all the time. I rode my bike to school. I rode my bike to the market. I rode my bike to meet friends for beers or coffee. I rode my bike to the theater once.

Women in Germany do not wear work out outfits to ride their bikes to the market, they dress nicely, in jeans and a sweater or a skirt and sweater. They wear a trench coat when it is cold and I can assure you they seldom wear tennis shoes. They will be wearing boots, heels, clogs or just everyday leather shoes whilst riding their bike. I would image they would also be wearing a fashionable scarf. Germans wear scarves all the time.

I fail to see why it is different here. I get up before the little people, get dressed for the day and then see to the little people and if my day includes going somewhere in the morning like the market or a meeting or something, I dress for that, ride her to school and then come home and continue on my day.

I am raising this issue for a number of reasons. First and foremost I can ride my bike in a skirt. As long as it is long enough and I am covered who cares. (Um yeah I have gotten dirty looks.)

I can and have ridden my bike in fashionable jeans and a nice sweater and platform shoes. It is doable. There is no reason to be in athletic clothes.

Today I even - hold on - wore my trench coat. It was cold and I was dressed to head out in a bit. I garnered all sorts of disapproving looks.

Many children ride their bikes to school. They are excited to ride their bikes. It is healthy to start the day with a bit of exercise. It is a great way to clear the mind or experience nature.

We have a well documented gas shortage in parts of the country. We are a nation of overweight people. We have an economic bubble about to burst. There is no reason, that we cannot learn to change and look to other cultures and see what may work.

We have built our lives around what is quick and easy and are totally dependent on our cars and SUVs. In Europe a drive thru is a rare site, a bike rack is always easy to find. Mark Twain wrote a charming story about a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. We have a history as Americans as being innovative and forward thinking.

I think a bit of reflection is in order and perhaps it is high time to admit that some of our choices have not been for the best and we need to perhaps contemplate what others happen to do well and learn from their example.

We can change - if is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other - or pedaling with all our might. Just becasue we have "always" done it one way does not mean we cannot change.

I say we slow down, breath deep and think about what kind of world we want our kids to grow up in.

So I am going to head out for coffee now and yes I very likely will be driving my car, although... it is in biking distance and stranger things have been known to happen.


Have I mentioned that I am a writer but not such a hot editor... I cleaned up yesterday's piece to fix some spelling and grammar mistakes....

I am working to edit better on fly... but well the brain works the way the brain works...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Burn Baby Burn

I have been silent on the Bush - "Hey I Wrecked the Economy with my Lack of Leadership, but damn I have a nice White Cape Bail Out!" dog and pony show - but I think the tumble in the market reflects a number of things. Let's examine them, shall we! (see serious news story here...)

1. The stock market is not the economy. The stock market is both more important than the actual economy and simultaneously less so.

The market or actually Markets in all fairness - are a place to exchange stock. Stock is paper ownership in a company with limited control. Control of the company is on a percentage basis and trust me the company set it up SO THEY HAVE the MAJORITY share - THEREFORE CONTROL.

The market is like a being of its own. It is fed on rumor, speculation - investing in stock is always about speculation. Sometimes the market trend leads the economy and somethimes they lag or are reflective.

The market can be going like gangbusters and the economy can be for shit. Or the market can be doing lousy and the economy can be booming.

At the moment - well they are both for shit.

2. House of Cards.

For the most part the entire banking and brokerage industry is a house of cards. The problem is THEY need us little guys. We bring in our paychecks and then the BANK gleefully plays fast and loose with our money. Same with the brokerage houses.

The problem is - the Banks and Brokerages have been playing fast and loose with each other and making bad loans and bad choices and well it is a big knot which cannot be easily untied and FRANKLY the simpleton we call our President and his addled HENCHMAN cooked up a plan that was a GREAT sound bite but fundamentally flawed. (I think while we are letting people hang we should add the entire government machine - bloated and needs a house cleaning - an overhaul maybe.)

I normally am loathed to agree with anything the far right has to say but I was excited when House Republicans stood up and defeated this BILL the 1st time (I will explain why later...)

Had the SEC and NASD and Banking Regulators been enforcing the rules on the books already some of this might have been mitigated. But when those agencies are stock full of ex-bankers and ex-brokers and they are now policing their buddies - well it is a bit like the FOX guarding the HEN HOUSE is it not?

3. One Man's Collapse is Another Man's Break

I think we can say that the Great Depression was horrible for people. People lost their homes and their life savings and their security - not to mention terrible job loses. I am not saying that we need to experience that again.

HOWEVER - I think that instead of giving Wall Street another dime - the Government should do its job and protect the people. Give me my tax money back. Make it easier for me - while I weather the storm. Freeze credit. We can all live without a new car. Ease the crunch by having a borrowing holiday.

I would not give those greedy rat bastards on Wall Street a piece of chewed gum - let alone billions of dollars. They fucked up - they should pay. They should lose their big houses and big bonus and their golden parachutes.

After the market collapse in 1929 and a period of terrible austerity for most Americans - we had a period of enormous economic expansion. Granted a War helped - but I would argue that when the chips fall - SOMEONE picks them up.

The government should not bail out companies they should protect citizens and they should enforce the rules we have and they should stop accepting corporate campaign dollars and they should throw these cheats and frauds in jail and lose the key.

Maybe if we went after White Collar Criminals the same way we did drug dealers (who by the way run a CASH business... mmmm) people might make better business decisions.

4. Capitalism is organic - kinda like the Hunting Lion

Would you step in front of a hungry Lion about to take down a gazelle. Yeah, me neither. Capitalism is alot like that. It is ugly in its raw organic form. I would argue that of any economic system it is the most organic in that it follows the laws of nature. Survival of the fittest and all of that - BUT it works.

What does not work is all this intervention and rule breaking and all of that. We either have a free market or we do not. We either want a capitalist state or we do not. We either let the cards fall where they may or we reward bad behavior and encourage it to be repeated.

Our economy is built almost completely on NOW NOW NOW and more credit and more credit.

The House Republicans actually asked some of these questions and I applaud that (regardless of their reasons.) The entire mess is a mess of our own gerrymandering and frankly no bail out is going to solve the root of the problem. The problem is cultural and systemic and deep and goes back about 4 generations. We are a culture of greedy Me-First - Gimme, Gimme, Gimme - people - who have lost site of important things - like honor, dignity, community, and compassion.

So I ask you - What really is that House of Cards?

Friday, October 3, 2008


I decided to shake things up again. Change the template and all that and well - opps! That messed up my label cloud, so I had to spend sometime recoding and the like, but all is well now. I may be adding some new widgets in the next few days.

I am not sure why I decided I needed to change things up - but I did and well... now it is done.

Food for thought...

I am scared of food and I am hungry... After the bout of itchies, I pared back on my list of safe foods, getting back to basics and once again being a bit fearful of food.

I have said this before but food for me is now scary. It used to be exciting and I loved trying new things and new combinations of things and I loved to experiment. Now I feel like a food Nazi. I ask a million questions, I read every label and all the fine print. If a food has more than 5 ingredients I generally assume it will have something I cannot eat and skip it completely. My source of good choices - Whole Foods has eliminated some of my favorites - for reasons I cannot understand. Their replacement choices - either not within my guidelines or tasteless.

I am afraid of eating out, unless I have been there before. I used to be open to trying new places and now I am less so.

I went to bed kinda hungry last night becasue my stomach was giving troubles and I felt unsettled and frankly nothing sounded good and I am tired of the same 10 things. Part of this is the fact that the kitchen is a mess and well cooking is basically out of the question and the other part is my mind cannot get over the fact that the rash and the stomach upset came from something I ate and well I am still not 100% sure what it was.

I remember when I went on this eating plan, that I struggled and I feel like I am back there again. I am taking baby steps into the scary world of food. Leaving no stone unturned and well apple slices really are the best bet - and the healthy choice, albeit not exciting.

So we are heading out to dinner, somewhere we go often and a kitchen that I trust and all I can do is be thoughtful in my choices and be hopeful that my trust is not misplaced.

Intellectually I know that my reaction the last time and any in the future are likely to be fierce, given that I am so careful - but still it is scary and it does make every meal a bit more of an adventure than I would care it to be. I am lucky my reactions are not classic allergic reactions - no shock and no swelling of the throat - or at least they have not been - but then one never knows.

What I do know is that I am really hungry...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What IS she saying....

Ok I listen to this 3 times and WHAT EXACTLY IS SHE SAYING... I am scared really really scared.

But HEY this little sound bite did ONE great thing for me - Made me scared enough to go get an OBAMA/BIDEN yard sign!


I have had a great summer, a challenging summer, a complicated summer, a busy summer. Any of those statements is true - the reality is I have had a great challenging complicated busy summer.

True on many levels. As a mom of 2 busy kiddos - busy and great.

As a business owner - challenging and complicated.

As an artist - busy and great and challenging.

As a woman - all of the above and then some.

Sometimes I get lost in the process of my life. I am surrounded by needy (I do not mean this negatively) folks. L and E need me. My mother has and is undergoing 2 great life changes - moving (done - check - yipee) and she is coping with the fact that here time on this earth has a reasonably finite end. Cancer is curable - hers is not.

I am coping with that also. As her daughter....

I also tend to put everyone else first. I have gotten lost. What do I want exactly? Where am I going. What are my goals. I want my business to do well, but that is a slow process. I have been very focused on setting it up - creating a frame work, building some creditability and now the 4th quarter I am starting to pursue projects once again.

I have thrown my hat into the ring to step out of my previous professional role and try something new - leveraging many of the skills I had from my previous position(s) in a new and different way. It would be a contract position and I like the idea of a short term position - a great way to test something out and add something to my resume.

I also like the idea of versatility. I like the idea of economic flexibility. I crave options.

I have also taken a HUGE step and am going to finish my MBA. I can do it in less than a year. A series of 10 6 week classes - taken one at time and online. Perfect for me. No babysitting required.

There has been a series of events which have pushed me to break out of my holding pattern and finally take back the helm of my own ship. I am the Capitian and the Mistress of my Destiny and it is up to me to LIVE my life.

My best friend said it best...

"And I quote....from YOUR BLOG: "Life is really short. I mean really short. When great moments come along - Live them, because once they pass you by - they are gone forever."

Why only live the great moments....aren't all moments meant to be lived to their fullest?! I'm just saying, take your own advice and make all the moments worth living however you need to do so. "

It was the kick in the pants I really needed. I had been sulky and struggling and feeling cornered a bit and overwhelmed too I guess. And yet it is an easy choice - live life or pretend to live life. Develop a plan and execute it or not...

While I think I will be one busy girl over the next 12 months... I feel very positive about it. It is what I need to do get to the NEXT chapter in my life.