Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Up high like a kite...

H randomly had a Friday off and the weather was amazing. Since the weather was nice, we decided to pick the kids up from school and go to dinner. In a small plane.

Also amazingly, H flies a 75-99 seat aircraft, a jet,  regularly, but he has to be checked out and have so many hours in a small plane, to fly his family around. So he has been doing that. He rejoined the club he used to teach at and has been practicing with a Diamond. After getting signed off, we needed a nice day and an open evening.

 It seems so little and guess what-- it totally is...
 Trust me, you have to like the people you are flying with.
 We flew to Urbana, Grimes Field. It is a short hop and they have a great little greasy spoon at the airport. Back in the day, when H was training, this was a regular outing for us. Fly somewhere, eat, fly home, log hours. It used to be that many air fields in the area, had decent little lunch and breakfast places. Sadly, as gas prices have increased, pilots have hung up their headsets and the little restaurants have all but disappeared.
Our approach into the unmanned airfield always makes me hold my breath. There is no one organizing the traffic and it is the pilot honor system. (No kidding.)

We ate and had to be quick about it, because even though H can land that big jet at night, in the rain and blah, blah, blah, he was not current to land the little Diamond at night, so we have to get back to Columbus before dusk. (Wanna hear something really funny. Ask H how the FAA defines dusk. I dare you.)

 This is a large quarry near Plain City apparently.
 Chasing the setting sun...
Tuttle Mall area on Friday night.

 Lining up with lights and runway seem so easy when H does it. I know it isn't and he used to sweat it more than he does now. He made it seem as simple as driving a car. Behind the controls H is cool as a cucumber.
This was a great shot. We glided down like a feather. And we clapped after we got on the ground and might I just add that he cranked that little plane right around and onto the taxi way, when ground control said he could exit the runway at his discretion.

The kids had a blast.  (And seriously, they have great greasy spoon food and pie. The pie is the highlight, I am told.)

It was an awesome evening. One of my favorite things in the world is being in a small plane with H. It is awesome to see him doing something that he loves so much!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let's fly through trees-- together!

 One of the perks of H's job, is he is off and home during the week. With the kids in school, this means we can have high quality dates during the week, presuming we can find something going on and the weather permits. (There just aren't many concerts at 10 am on Wednesdays, who knew?)

When I saw the Groupon for ZipZone at Camp Mary Orton, I jumped on it. The funny thing was finding a time in October that we could go was harder than I thought. We thought we would miss the peak color, but it turns out that Friday, October 19 was almost the perfect day! It was cool, but not cold. Overcast, but beautiful color.

I did not shoot any video, but ZipZone has this lovely video on their website! (just imagine that lush canopy in a riot of red, orange and yellow. Yeah... breathtaking!)

 Our guides, Jane and Eric, were in a word-- awesome. Fun. I also felt super safe. The braking mechanism made it worry free, you fly and they make sure you don't hit a tree. Isn't H the cutest in that helmet! (The harness is fashion worthy also.)

 You can zip hands free or use the handle. The handle can steer you. (well if you are pilot like H and get the rudder like effect. I just fly and drifted around...)
 One of the best parts of this canopy tour is the length of the runs. Two of them are rather long and I loved that. I even took the one backwards, which was exciting. (I only went backwards because the 6th grade girls did it and I mean really... their bravery was contagious.)

 I love that they kept many of the details, which speak to the history of Camp Mary Orton. It has a nice feel.
 As H says about flying, take off is optional, but landing is mandatory. The last run takes you out of the trees and back to the ground. It honestly is the toughest run of all. (Honestly, the only time I felt queasy, was on the bridges. Not a fan of those shaky bridges.)

 I think it helps to visualize the runway, don't you?
Honestly, I had a great time. I plan to go back. L wants to go. It was a great way to spend a morning and then go warm up with Indian Food!

They will be having limited zipping this winter, so check their website. I think a winter, slightly snowy zip might be fun. Plus think of all the cool winter-scape things you could see. They also plan a full moon zip from time to time! Talk about cool.

I give an A+ to the operation and a double thumbs up to Eric and Jane!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bonus Music Monday: We are Never Getting Back Together

Understand I am not a Taylor Swift fan. I don't love this song. L does not love this song, but in the last two weeks I have witnessed two events that make me think this song is very important.

The other day I was dropping something off in a local office building and out front there was a young woman, I am guessing early to mid twenties talking heatedly with a man about the same age. It appeared he stopped her as she was coming back from lunch or something. She was being polite, but firm. "No I don't want to see you again." and "Please stop coming to my office."

I made a point of stopping and observing, long enough to get some key details clear in my mind. She knew I was making a point.

Then Saturday night after L's dance show, I was walking my sleepy Diva to the car and one of the older girls was in the parking lot, walking to her car and a young man, with a dozen pink roses. She kept telling him to "please just leave her alone."

He kept insisting he was "sorry" and "please just take my flowers."

I was just about to suggest he move it along, when one of the fathers in the parking lot, walked over, walked him away from the girl. The father was saying, "son, she said no."

She got in her car.

This summer my book club read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker.

This is a sobering book. He talks about heeding that little voice that tells something is wrong. He also talks about at great length, how women are 97% more likely to be assaulted on any given day and by "someone just trying to be nice." Only they aren't. They are profiling a potential victim. They are a boyfriend who just won't accept "we are never ever going to get back together."

They are the guy with flowers, who knows if you will take his flowers to shut him up and not make a scene in a parking lot, that maybe just maybe you will go out with him again, if he stalks you in a very public place and asks for a date in a few days.

During this very awful and overly drawn out Presidential campaign and highly contested Congressional campaigns, rape has, in my opinion been made light of by some under enlightened assholes. White men, who have never been in the position of having their consent violated, a foreign body shoved inside them. Held down, choked or otherwise threatened.  They have never had their decision to stop at the grocery after a evening yoga class, judged as fool hardy or a sign they "were asking for it." All I can say to the Paul Ryans and Todd Akins and Robert Murdocks of the world is Karma is a bitch and I hope you are ready, because some day she will get her do.

I digress.

Sexual assault by a stranger is a legitimate concern, but the reality is more women, will be assaulted by some one they know or have been friendly to intimate with previously.

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.1
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.1
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.1
28% are an intimate.1
7% are a relative.1

(from RAINN)

In less than 10 days, I witnessed two such examples, women being pursed by someone whom they had a relationship and ended it, and each time, these men were not hearing the word "NO!"

Even more shocking:

(also from RAINN)

I can remember in high school, college and when I was first working, being faced with the relentless pursuit of a man. As women, we are socialized to be nice. So I would always try to be polite. To be kind. To put them off. To say No, 1000 ways. To be not heard. When I finally got to No... a few times I had to yell it a few times... because they were NOT about to take no as an answer. Understand I am not talking about sex-- I am talking about invitations to date, ect. Or another date, after the first one was lousy. Or the guy who stalked me at my first job, convinced he could treat me way better than "other guy."

The cute but uninteresting guy who stood by my locker every day after math class, trying to get me to go out with him... for a year.

De Becker covers this and more in his book. Our culture rewards persistence. The Little Engine that could. Try and try again. Bring on those pink roses, even when she is yelling "go away."

Business breeds this sensibility too. One of the last seminars I took, before leaving the bank, was "Overcoming Objections." It was basically sales techniques to turn a "NO" into a "Yes."

This is dangerous I think. When the wrong person is in the audience. I think we should as a culture, learn to respect the word "No." In all cases.

No means No.

And if you think I am being dramatic-- let's consider this sobering thought--

Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.

Here's the math. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey --there is an average of 207,754 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year.
There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds/year. So, 31,536,000 divided by 207,754 comes out to 1 sexual assault every 152 seconds, or about 1 every 2 minutes.

(from RAINN)

And those are the assaults we know about... or think we know about... given that so many people do not report being assaulted or seek medical attention, it is hard to get a handle on the actual number.

So while I know this song is annoying and people don't like it... I for one am glad it is out there. We need to be having this conversation more often. We need to push back-- so that under enlightened assholes like Ryan and Akin get tarred and feathered for suggesting that sexual assault, all sexual assault isn't valid or it is rare or whatever random rape denying shit rolls forth from their mouths. It happens-- EVERY TWO MINUTES. Sometimes at knife point and sometimes while in shock and sometimes at the hands of a man who swore up and down he loved you and would never hurt you. Until you tell him "no" and he forces you down and takes what he feels his for the taking.

I cannot stand the rape deniers. They have no place in our government. They have no place making laws. They need to be told-- HELL NO.

We need to teach our children that NO means NO.

But first we obviously need to teach politicians this lesson first.

Music Monday: Get Out of Your Mind and Heads Will Roll

This past week has been all DANCE all the time. Regular rehearsal Monday, extra YCO rehearsal Tuesday, L did volunteer work at school on Wednesday, Thursday was performance at the local Halloween event at the rec center, Friday was no school, but my dancer did outreach with YCO and performed at two inner city schools and a retirement community. Saturday was the show.

The girls brought down the house! So amazing. My music this week is two songs I loved, that were featured in the show. The Middle School dance company did a high energy and amazing dance to  Otta Your Mind! Loved it!

There is another version of this song by Li Jon and LMFAO, but this version by
Alex and Twitch is PG-13 and much closer to the song the girls danced to.

The other dance was "Left at the Alter" aka Brides of Frankenstein...

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs-- Heads Will Roll

I have always liked this song. The girls did a great job with it.

Halloween is a time I think we all confront and think about scary things. This year it is even more confrontational. Living in Ohio is tough... being a battle ground state, has meant my phone ringing off the hook. (The down side of being an independent voter.) I would like to off some heads. I did yell at some people canvasing last week. (Hello, it is the Internet stupid, if I wanna know about your slim ball candidate, I will look him up.)

If it were up to me, lots of heads would roll. Lots... I have decided the most useless, entitled people on the planet are in politics. If they really cared they would get real jobs, helping real people. Our two party system is crap, both parties know it and they work damn hard to keep everyone else out. (I mean who wouldn't want a job, where deadlock is rewarded one way or the other.)

If I were in charge, it would be off with their heads, let's dance cuz the wicked beasts dead. (the parties not the people, I am angry, not homicidal... although one more phone call might push me over the edge.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DIY: Girl purse from a skirt

I made this a good while back, it was only as I was repairing it, that I decided I should feature it on the blog.

L had this skirt when she was in preschool. My mom got it for her and it was a favorite. She wore it, until one day, she ripped one of the tiers and I couldn't fix it but I hated to throw the skirt away.

I found some pink purse handles at JoAnn's and decided that I could re-purpose this favorite.

Step one: Turn skirt inside out. Cut to size if needed. I think a skirt with an A-line will work best, but having said that, a straight one would work too.

Step two: Turn the skirt inside out and sew the bottom closed. I double stitched mine. You could reinforce the bottom too, if you wanted to.

Step three: Decide if you want to have a closure of some sort on the top. Since this was an adjustable waist skirt, I rigged up a closure using the existing button holes. I will be the first to admit, that this did not survive for very long. L and I have decided she does not need a closure, she can stuff more in it without one.

Step four: Figure out the placement of your handles. I used very sturdy bias tape this time. The first time, I used some of the fabric from the lower hem, that I had cut off. My first attempt was stylish and held up for a good while, but my recent repair went more for substance, less style. Really it is a personal preference. I would double or triple stitch the handle loops and back stitch for good measure.

And Viola! You have a purse from a skirt. L carries this around all the time. She loves it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music Monday: Mom, they aren't even cute

L and I are reading the Lions of Little Rock for the 5th grade Grand Discussion, which is hosted by the school's librarian. The only rules are, you have to be in the 5th grade, you must read the book with a parent, and you and a parent must come to the discussion together.

In the book, the main character is saddened to learn that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson have died in a plane crash.

L asked who they were and we looked them up on You Tube. L was grossly underwhelmed. "Mom, they aren't even cute, just like the Beatles weren't cute. Why are all those girls screaming like crazy."

I told her they were screaming just like girls now scream for Justin Bieber or whoever the hottie of the moment is.

She remained underwhelmed.

I can remember my mom talking about these stars. She was roughly a contemporary of the main character in this book. She remembered the "day the music died."

Buddy Holly... this isn't my favorite song nor is this a style of music that I enjoy per se

Ritchie Valens -- I remember my mom talking about how it was amazing that an Hispanic singer had made such a splash... We watched the movie LaBamba over and over when I was a teenager.

Part side show/comedy with some music. I don't get it, but then this was before on demand video and special effects. The Big Bopper... my mom would sing this one... in a word -- scary.

And the song that brought this to my attention:

Don McLean -- American Pie

So who is the heart throb of this generation? Who would the girls "miss the most?"

Monday, October 8, 2012

Music Monday: The Piano

So this is hands down one of my favorite songs-- every... I LOVE piano music. I just do... I always have... This movie is amazing and the short story it is adapted from is amazing. The soundtrack is amazing. In my top 20 for sure.

I hinted on Twitter that I was up to something and that I was proving to myself I actually can do something I was convinced I couldn't. I have been so proud of myself. So tickled every other Monday.

Today I let two poeple I care deeply for, know what I was doing and have decided to let the cat out of the bag.

I am taking piano lessons.

Yes, I am 39 years old and I am taking piano lessons. (From an amazing teacher to boot.)

I have always wanted to play the piano. As a kid there was no money for piano lessons and we didn't have a piano.

I was asked to leave the choir by the middle choir director... actually he told me I could stay if I just didn't sing. But seriously, what is the point.

I tried my hand at the viola, but it did not excite me... nor did the cello. I was also told maybe I just didn't have it...

When H and I took dance lessons, timing and rhythm did not come naturally. I assumed this meant I was just not able to do music. I am not sure I am not tone deaf and I defiantly do not have perfect pitch. But then again, Beethoven did some of his greatest work, after becoming completely deaf.

I have always felt music was just not to be mine. I could enjoy others accomplishments, but I would never make music.

A month or so ago, I decided this was crazy. I should try. Really I should just try. I had nothing to lose other than a little bit of pride. In no other area have I let fear rule my decisions. I am fairly fearless and generally totally willing to land on my ass. I mean I tried snow boarding awhile back and didn't die.

Well after a few lessons, I am playing, slowly and just baby steps, but today after my lesson, I felt so excited. I am doing it. It is work, I practice, I need to practice more, but I am doing it. I am learning to read music and I am learning to make my fingers do what they need to do.

Honestly, if I had to stop today, that would be enough. I have proven, I can do it. I am not music stupid. I am not unable.

That is huge.

And I don't have to stop today and maybe, if I work hard enough and long enough, one day I will play this song. I will be able to play one of my favorite songs.

How totally cool is that???

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Baked Potato Broccoli Soup

Baked Potato Broccoli Soup

As part of my New Me month, I made this soup the other day. We had bits of this and that and since going grain free/grain reduced, poor H is kinda hungry. The kids have adapted to grain-less dinners, H however has not.

I made chicken tenders (me friendly, using besan aka chick pea flour to bread them) and cooked up a bunch of broccoli.

We had a tad bit of plain Chobani Greek Yogurt left over from the Mango Lassis the kids and I made, and a bit of cheese and some chicken stock. This summer we have been getting the nicest Ohio grown organic potatoes from Wayward seed.

I decided to make a healthy soup for H and I.

So I cut up two good sized potatoes. (like the size of my fist) You can use more smaller ones if that is what you have. (As you have all been warned-- when I bake I measure, when I am cooking I eyeball it, fly by the seat of pants and make do with whatever I have.) I boiled them-- hint the smaller you dice them, the quicker they cook. Then need to cook the potatoes to the point that they mash easily with a fork.

When potatoes are done, drain and mash in the pot you cooked them in.

While they are cooking-- cook the broccoli. I prefer my broccoli firm, but you do whatever you want. You could also use left over broccoli or asparagus for that matter. Save the cooking water if you blanched it.

I cooked a huge head of broccoli, so I grabbed two generous handfuls. So maybe 2 cups. Again use how much you like or have on hand. Chop it finely.

After you have mashed the potatoes, add the chicken stock (don't have chicken stock, then use the broccoli cooking water, or water or milk and water or veggie stock.) I used what was left over, so about 2-21/2 cups. Make it to taste, some people like a thinner soup. I was going for a chunky thicker soup. Again, up to you.

Stir and bring to a gently boil. Then I reduced the heat, tossed in the broccoli and about 1/3 c of the yogurt (again what was left. I was cleaning out the fridge.) Stir until smooth. Then I sprinkled in maybe 1/4 c cheese. Again to taste.

Switch off the heat and serve.

I generally do not do dairy, but I am finding that a little bit here and there is tolerable. Hence I used more chicken stock and less dairy... you could just as easily use more dairy and less stock.

Soup was tasty and filling. H is really watching his salt intake, so I did not season the soup and it was just fine. Enough salt in the stock and cheese. If you prefer more salt, taste it and add some. Had I used my own homemade chicken stock, I would have added a pinch of salt.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About KevinWe Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In terms of prose, this book is beautifully crafted. Shriver is an amazing writer and I will admit, the prose challenged me, which is frankly rare. It took me the first few chapters to get my head around what she was writing and how.

The subject matter of this novel is rough. Read the back jacket and you know what you are getting into. Shriver does not sugar coat, nor is she afraid to look the monsters in the closets right in the eyes and then dare them to blink. She dares you, the reader, to do the same.

I will also say that while we ALL know what happens, we truly have no idea. I made some assumptions in the beginning and Shriver systematically shoots them down, one by one.

I also will admit that she surprised me, really surprised me and disturbed me at one point in the novel.

I have to thank my book club for picking this book, I doubt I would have picked this one up on my own and I am going to look at Shriver's other titles. She is a talented writer and I admire her fearlessness...

View all my reviews

Monday, October 1, 2012

Music Monday: Roll Out the Barrel

The Beer Barrel Polka... a variety of renditions...

So a little known fact, H and I can polka and pretty well actually. We took the kids to the Oktoberfest this weekend. I have to say the Oktoberfest here is as about as authentic as the Irish Fest. It is an American version of why a Oktoberfest might actually be.

And that isn't all that fair. H and I have been to some festivals in Germany and they are similar to ours-- food, beer, wine, and fun. I do recall the food being better...

When L was young and we went to Germany, before this blog existed and before E was on the scene, we went to a Spring Festival. There was music and dancing, kids activities and plenty of drinks. Drinks served in real glasses.

Germans have a tradition of beer halls, beer gardens and Stammtisches. Time to gather and drink and socialize.

I have to say the bands at the Oktoberfest were very good and the kids danced and H and I did too...

The children are over half German. H is 100% and I have a quarter or so in me. It is their heritage, even if we do no belong to a German-American society like H's parents did. We don't use real candles on the Christmas tree and while I make a mean schnitzel, I can't make a strudel to save my life.

I remember when all things German were treated with suspicion. When I was a child there were whispers of Nazis and Walls and responsibility. East Germany was a scary place. (And honestly, it was... and I have some toilet paper from East Germany, from my time studying aboard and that stuff was like sandpaper...)

I remember one of my first non-academic run ins with East Berlin and the realities of a totalitarian regime was the movie Gotcha. We would get it from the library. I know I watched it more than once before my trip and after.

So while we polkaed away and the kids ate American food and wrinkled their noises at H's goulash, I wondered, what will they remember of their Oma and her country? Is that the reality of the melting pot, does it all fade away to a facsimile of what is real?