Sunday, September 26, 2010

Moon over New Hampshire

I found out tonight that my son is "that kid."

Many of you who are reading this have either known Geoff his whole life, or you at least have known him from the blog, which I started writing when he was 3. He has given me the run for my money. Once in a while he is a sterling gentleman of letters: smart, polite, kind, refined. And sometimes he is Tyrannosaurus Geoff.

But most of the time, he's the joker, the prankster, the one who wants to make everyone laugh, and the one who eventually drives everyone out of their cotton picking minds because he doesn't know when to stop.

A year or so ago one of my friends emailed me. Her sons go to boy scouts with Geoff and she said "I just have to tell you... my boys love Geoff. They're sitting here at the dining table telling Geoff Stories from camping and laughing hysterically. They get him. They get it, they love him. He is a star to them. Just thought you'd want to know." She knows that I struggle with Geoff's behavior at school, and she knows there are parents in town who hate my kid and badmouth him and us left and right to anyone who will hear. So I appreciated it greatly to hear that not only had he had a great time, but he made the trip for a couple other guys.

Recently, Geoff has discovered mooning.

On a camping trip this past summer he mooned the scoutmaster's son.

And on this trip, he did it again. Not sure who the intended target was, but he let it fly. "I think I see the moon coming out!" he declared and dropped trou.

Now, TV and movies do not lie. Mooning is indeed funny. But it is also inappropriate, and when it is YOUR kid, it isn't quite as hysterical.

My neighbor gave Geoff a ride home and her son came in with Geoff and his gear. He wanted me to know about the mooning and he was laughing hysterically while he told me. His mom was slightly embarrassed by how funny he found it, but I told her that it's okay for him to think it's funny and laugh but I'm going to talk to Geoff about it. He told me that the scoutmaster gave Geoff a talking to, but since this was the second time that I would probably get a call. We talked about when stuff is funny, and how in this social climate a mooning can result in getting put on the sex offender registry or something.

20 years ago a mooning was nothing. Now, it can get you suspended from school even if it didn't happen during school.

We don't want that.

I want Geoff to be funny and make people laugh and have a great time. But I need him to know what is appropriate. And when it is appropriate. Maybe someday when it isn't a boy scout event and he's just with "the guys" it'll be funny. But right there and then, not appropriate. I talked to him a little bit.

Our discussion went like this:

Me: How was camping?
Him: Great.
Me: Did you sleep in the cabin or out in tents or under the stars?
Him: I slept in the cabin but a bunch of guys slept out and then in the middle of the night they got cold so they went into their tents.
Me: Did you see the moon last night.
Him: There was no moon out last night.
Me: That's not what I heard!

He stood there and looked at me. busted.

Him: Did T tell you that? I'll kill him.
Me: Yeah -- but you're not going to kill him. He told me that because he wants to make sure that you don't do it again and get in amazing amounts of trouble.

So we talked about it, and how he gets it, and he won't do it again but I have a feeling he still will.

Like I said, I'm glad he likes to make people laugh and people like him. But I want him to get an appropriate laugh. And not get kicked out of boy scouts. Or something.

Life without kids

So Jess is at college, and Geoff had gone camping with his boy scout troop. Saturday night we had dinner with my roommate from college and her husband. We met in Salem at the Howling Wolf, which is owned by Rebel parents so we try and go there as often as we can. I think I've gone four times since they opened. Great food and if you're in Salem -- go go go. Anyway, dinner was lovely, we sat and chatted over burritos and beers. We then went to Marblehead and sat on top of Castle Rock and watched the cruise ships sitting out on the water. Four of them are floating out there... seemed so surreal to me.

Chris and Laurel headed home then, and Doug and I checked in on Keri's dogs. I knew the house sitters were out for the evening and I'd arranged for someone to come take them out for a walk and pee/poo/feed at 6pm but I wanted to see them anyway. I also wanted Doug to meet them, and heck, since we were there... right?

I'm glad I stopped in Matilda had pee'd in front of the bathroom door. So I cleaned all of that up, and we played ball in the yard for 10 minutes until she stopped and laid down by my feet. Doug and I talked about Keri and what happens next for her after she's done in Siberia. Things on this end with her house and the dogs are settled down nicely, and I guess we just wait for her to come home. But what happens then?

We drove home and got up this morning for church. It was our annual Historical Reenactment where our pastor dresses up as George Whitefield and does an abbreviated version of one of his famous sermons. A bunch of people in the congregation also dressed up so it was really cute. Pictures on the front steps of the church, and it was such a to-do that some guy pulled his car over, jumped out and started taking pictures. So I introduced him to one of our elders and had Steve give him the ten cent tour, including the trip up to the steeple. I'm hoping the guy was happy that his spontaneous action resulted in a visit to a steeple overlooking a wonderful town.

Doug and I came home and watched football. We had a great time chatting and watching and just being together. Geoff eventually came home and took his homework upstairs, and I didn't hear a peep from him. I took a nap, and then he and I passed each other in the hall at 9pm.

It was weird to just be me and Doug.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Saints, speak for us, speak for us

Those of you who know me know that I am comfortable to call myself a Christian. I 'found Jesus' at age 16 in high school thanks to a youth group. I went to a Christian College. I have very a Trinitarian heart, believe fully in Father as Creator, Son as Savior and Holy Spirit as Sustainer.

I do not believe in the power of "Saints." I think that there are definitely men and women of the Church through history who did Great Things, with capital letters. Great, brave, selfless, amazing things for God and in the name of Jesus. Selfless, sacrificing, beautiful things.

But I do not believe they are intercessors between us and God.

I believe deeply that we, because of Christ and Christ alone, can ask God directly to assist us with our needs. We can ask him to help us with anything, and ask that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We also can thank him, praise him, and a lot of times we forget to do that when we really really should.

Many of my friends believe in Saints, pray to Saints. I know my friend Rob used to tell me when things were bad to pray to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, and St. Jude would totally step up for us. A drunken night on a beach in high school saw us with his car keys somewhere in the sand in the darkness. We looked all over the dark beach, frantic because a) we were stuck there without a way to get home, and b) his dad would KILL us.

Rob stopped what he was doing and demanded that we pray to St. Jude. So I did. He did. Everyone we were with did. And then someone stepped on the keys a few minutes later. There was much rejoicing.

We were a bunch of 17 and 18 year old knuckleheads, and I personally thought it was just plain luck. Dumb stupid drunken luck. But Rob always said to pray to the right saint for your needs, and it'll all be okay.

My question tonight is, what saint do you pray to in this situation?
  • Your friend has gone to Siberia with her daughter so they can help her sister/the daughter your friend cannot adopt due to about 10,000 insane problems over the last 5 years.
  • The daughter's passport (Russian) is expired and they were advised to go ahead to Russia and renew the passport there. They were advised by Russians here in NYC at the consulate. Sounded good, perfect, right to them so they went ahead and did it.
  • Russians state that to them the daughter "does not exist." They do not recognize her as a Russian, they do not recognize her as an American. She "does not exist."
  • They will not renew her Russian passport so she can get out of the country.
  • The sister of her daughter, whom your friend has been trying to adopt for five years, lives on the street, has had several friends commit suicide, is horribly sad and depressed, and absolutely, desperately needs to be rescued and brought "home" here to America
  • The sister, not yet adopted, says, when your friend and her sister leave she will hang herself that day
  • Your friend has decided to forgo income, has alienated a few people with her incredible sense of having to do something for the not-yet adopted daughter, and her visa to Russia will expire before the daughter's passport situation is fixed. What will happen to her? Will they jail her? Will they throw her out of the country? What will then happen with the daughter, and the not yet adopted daughter if she is in jail or thrown out of the country?
What Saint do you ask to help you with this?

All of them, I guess.

Or -- we just ask God directly to fix this.

Over the past few months, my dear and lovely friend Keri has done some amazing and self sacrificing things, like the Saints of Old. So I think she's earned her wings as it were. If she could, and I have ranted so many times in the last five years about how Angelina Jolie should not get all the attention in the universe for her adoption stories but women like Keri should get a little attention and support as well.

She has turned things over to Him. She has prayed the rosary and had the perfect sense of peace that passes all understanding. She has trusted Him. She has turned everything over to Him. So yeah. Hey God? Saints? Jesus? Jebus? Jesus Buddah Allah I love you all? (as Homer Simpson says). Joking.

Can you, dear reader, help us by praying in the way you know how? By Saints of to God or to the Universe or whatever YOU call it.

I once had a pastor tell me that on All Saints Day we should always remember that we are all God's Saints. Not after we're dead, but now, here, on earth. So dear saints, please pray for us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

9/11 Thoughts

This is a photo of my friend Mike M. I went to high school with him. You can guess where he is, and I'll just say that this photo was taken 24 hours after the towers were first hit. I'll talk a little more about him later in this entry.

The world is abuzz and on edge right now with talk of the Mosque near Ground Zero and the pastor in Florida who wants to burn a stack of Korans to prove his point.

Both parties have a right, here in America, to do what they want to do.

The muslim dudes own the building, they have a right to put what they call a "cultural center" in that building. They THINK that their presence there will bring happiness and joy to the neighborhood, kind of like the 92nd Street Y brings all over the city. Art, music, fellowship... The 92nd Street Y and all its satellite locations are YMHA, not YMCA, a Hebrew association.

So they want to do the same thing, which sounds nice.

But I have a feeling the Muslim "interfaith" center will be a lot more religious in an Islamic way than "interfaithy" like the 92nd Street Y's mission has been. But that shouldn't make it illegal or wrong for them to build their building and do what they feel is best for their vision and mission.

A lot of people are mad that it is "too close" to sacred ground, being a few blocks away from Ground Zero. Thing is, how far away would "comfortable" for the people who don't like it? Five blocks instead of two or four? Fifteen blocks? Another state? What difference does it make if it is there or on Mars.

The muslim center's refusal to budge and relocate is stubborn, but it is their right. Their legal, first amendment based property owners right.

As it is the right for people to yell back and squak at them about it. Who knows, it could turn out to be a real gem in lower Manhattan. It could also turn out to be the embodiment of everyone's paranoid nightmares that seem to be blown out of proportion. I can't predict the future.

The pastor in Florida who believes that his righteous act of burning Korans is a show of strength for America and sends a message to the islamofascists that we won't be trifled with. It doesn't really. Thing is, I bet there have been plenty of people who HAVE already done this and no one knew about it. This guy is provocative, purposefully so. He is less interested in proving a point than he is in getting attention and making a media circus about his beliefs. He is less interested in dialog with "moderate" muslims than he is interested in giving the finger to radical extremists. And he really does not give an ounce of care to what the repercussions may be.

He's entitled to do what he wants and say what he wants, just as much as someone who wants to burn a bible, or an American Flag, cover a Christ on a crucifix in piss and call it "art" or whatever.

It is his right. Just like the muslims have the right to build whatever they want on the property they own. None of us have to like it. Don't like it? Don't participate. Don't go there. Don't burn the books, don't hang out at the mosque.

The thing is, pastor Jones is trying to make a point to an audience that will not feel the same way that I do, and will not see it as his right to do so. They are people who only believe in THEIR point of view and actually want to impose and force their way of life onto others, killing those who do not agree with them, which makes them very dangerous.

These are the same people who have a death threat out on a Danish cartoonist for drawing a picture of take anyone seriously. They aren't open to discourse. They don't want to have a discussion. They are not looking to live in peace and harmony. And by conducting the Koran burning, he then puts everyone in the line of fire and in danger.

It took me a little while to find this quote, but in an interview Pastor Jones is quoted as saying:
I think, most of the time, we as Christians are indeed called to turn the other cheek. I believe that, most of the time, talk and diplomacy is the correct way. But I also think that once in a while- I think you see that in the Bible- there are incidents where enough is enough and you stand up. Jesus went into the temple and he threw all of the money-changers out. He did not ask them to leave. He was not peaceful. He was at that time very, very upset. Even when this very close friend and disciple, Peter- even when he tried to stop Jesus from fulfilling his will- from fulfilling the father's will, Jesus called him the devil. Jesus called the religious leaders of that time serpents and snakes. So I agree that, most of the time, diplomacy and turning the other cheek is the proper way, but sometimes not.

Read more:
I think that he is totally out of his mind, that Jesus is Jesus, and by turning the moneycounters tables over in the Temple, he proved his point because ... HE IS GOD and people LEARNED from that. Or they got pissed and you know what? They then hung him on a cross and killed him. Either way, Pastor Jones is not Jesus. And if he thinks that his act of burning Korans is doing what Jesus did he's just so wrong.

As for turning the other cheek, Jesus told us that we are to continue to turn the other cheek. It is up to our government to do certain things, and pastors to do other things, like tend to their flock with love. Not do something like this.

Which brings me back to the photo at the top of the page.

Mike and I went to high school together. He is a year younger than I am. He and I were in marching band together, and I always liked him but didn't know too much about him beyond school. It wasn't until we reconnected on facebook that I learned that he was an Eagle Scout and other great things. And I learned that he was there on 9/11.

He lost friends. Beloved brothers, fellow servants that day. He refers to the photo above as the "crime scene photo" of him the following morning. He was angry at the photographer who was marching around snapping photos. He didn't realize it was a CSI. Thought it was a media photographer, or some pervert disrespecting the murder scene.

Mike's face says a lot. It is a look that could kill. But Mike isn't out killing muslims, or setting fire to things. Mike's loss, and the loss of many others, is deep and amazing.

Continuing to insult those who are aligned with, or peripherally associated, or simply of the same faith as the guys who took all his friends isn't the right thing to do. Continuing to add fuel to a horrible fire that has been smoldering for centuries only creates a conflagration.

I do not want to lose Mike, or any other friends, because this fire flares. I honestly believe that Pastor Jones will cause that to happen. And rather than insult, he should serve with love. There is no better way to send a strong message to those who hate that we won't be trifled with than loving and being kind and doing good work in the community.

I am very afraid for us at this point if people do not start to recognize that just because you CAN do or say something doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Monday, September 06, 2010


Labor Day Weekend, and we didn't go anywhere, didn't go camping, didn't do much. We took two nice hiking trips locally. Doug and I are trying to get back on the trails. We have discovered that the hiking trips take quite a toll on Jack. Last night I had to carry his back end up the stairs because he got halfway up and lost his strength, slid down on his belly the whole way to the bottom.

It reminds me of Kinger and what we went through with him. I will be calling the vet tomorrow and talking about medication options for Jack for arthritis. Medicine gave Kinger a lot of good months before we lost him (car hit him, if you recall).

We got yardwork and cleaning doe, and Geoff wanted to bake. We doubled what we usually do for chocolate chip cookies so we can ship a box out to Jess tomorrow. We also made peanut butter browies, which I didn't think were going to work but they came out great.

My kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it, but there is a lot of yummy baked goods in there now too, so it is a nice trade off.

Now that Geoff is back in school I need to get the push on to getting a job. I also have to be a better house keeper up in here. I've got no excuses. I've been re-reading all of the 2002 entries when I was laid off and I did the same thing then as I do now -- nothing.

I really want to go camping. I kind of am getting stir-crazy from being unemployed. I also am missing Jess a lot. Maybe I'll go camping in Pittsburgh.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Old Archives...

Since I started using Blogger as my home I've been going through the old Journal at amusings dot net slash clg and pulling the content over here. What I love about this is that I can date stamp things with the correct dates from the past, and I can go back and re-read the content.

I just uploaded Jessica's 10th birthday entry from 2002. In which I wrote:

But now comes the hard part -- the next ten years of her life. The teen years. Eventually, college. Cross your fingers. Pray for us. Wish us luck.

No one needed to wish us luck. It turned out, the next ten years (well, 8 because she's 18 and not 20 yet) were easy. She found her own way through junior high and high school, she developed into an amazing teenager who didn't give us a lot of challenges or fights. She found the theatre, she found Shakespeare, she inspires others, she knows right from wrong and always (as far as I know and can see) makes the better choices. She is sarcastic and funny, but not cruel and indifferent. She is just the right balance of what I like to see out there in the world.

I love that she has chosen a college that academically will fit her best instead of settling for something else. I miss her like hell though. I miss having her here to talk to daily. I feel like right now we're not communicating because she's busy in a good way, finding her path.

There are a couple songs that remind me of her, and right now the one that is most poignant to me is The Story's "So Much Mine," which you can hear by clicking this link and going to Youtube. The song is more about a mom looking at her teenaged girl who is making bad choices, "walking that way and wearing that dress and yeah, I know how you learned that because it was me" kind of life. I like to think that yeah Jess is so much mine because she's chosen the Model UN and the Obscure Movie Club instead of a hoochie dress and some strange dude's cold pillow, because certainly those former items would have been my choices. But still, the song makes me miss her. Among others, but that one the most right now.

You were so much mine, now I reach for you and I cannot find you....

Friday, September 03, 2010

Goodbye, Earl...

All up and down the eastern seaboard for the past several days, people have been fretting and sweating over the big bad hurricane named Earl.

Now, longtime readers of my journal know that I think that weather prognostication is a whopping heap of bullshit (I would say "pantload" but my friend Keri has forbidden me from using that term because it grosses her out. The mere mention of it will most likely cause her to never speak to me ever again, methinks. Anyway...) these "computer models" and "experts" always seem to get things whipped up into a frothing frenzy and people start literally losing their cotton-picking minds about a storm.

When Earl was way down past Puerto Rico and our weather dudes were sporting a massive woody over its "encroachment" and how it would soon be "bearing down" on the eastern coast, I told Doug that this was all going to fizzle out like a damp roman candle on a rainy fourth of July.

Days went past, and at about 10 miles an hour, long enough to give people the opportunity to start running around in circles screaming, Earl made his approach... heading for the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Now, having been there, I know that it takes just one wave to take all the beach off the Atlantic Coast and plop it down onto Rte 12. We drove down there once after a particularly bad storm, and in the pitch dark as we were cruising to Salvo where our rental house was, I almost ran off the road because the road vanished, replaced by sand as far as the eye could see... and a snowplow ended up leading our way, plowing the sand the way 7 inches of snow would get plowed off of a New England road.

Watching the storm, a category 4 storm at the time, I actually was nervous for the little less than a mile wide in some places barrier island. The forecasters had it right, Earl wasn't going to go straight into land but would curve north east and come up to New England. A soft glancing blow "kissed" the Outer Banks and Earl made his way ... straight for us.

Earl petered out over the last 24 hours, and is not quite here yet... outer bands of drizzle mixed with dead calm and sunshine were all we got all day long after a night of panic and advice to take our boats out of the water! board up our windows! buy all the toilet paper!

This morning, I went to the market not because we needed supplies for six days of possible horror, but because I wanted Lemonade to mix with the vodka.

I also wanted a bunch of extra toilet paper, because everyone always buys all the eggs, milk and bread, but they do NOT buy TP to wipe their butts with after they've eaten their french toast. And you all know I am totally the person who is completely prepared. The place was insane. Like the end of the freaking world was coming.

And as of this writing at 7pm, the whole thing is, as usual, has been much ado. These things usually always turn out this way. And it is no wonder that no one left New Orleans before Katrina came ashore. No one believed the freaking hype.

I fully blame our media for their non-stop, incessant, frothing about these storms. I have asserted in the past that the media mega-global hyper-conglomerates are in full cooperation with Egg, Bread, and Milk suppliers to create periodic frenzy to force people to the markets to buy unneeded supplies.