Monthly Archives: September 2006

Zoom, Zoom!

Something big must be getting ready to happen. There’s be an AMAZING amount of hardware flying out of the former Air Force base, now Air National Guard base, nearby. Our house happens to be in direct line of the landing path, so all that metal flies over us on its way back home.

I can’t really tell you what all the planes are (because then, I’d have to kill you… no, not really) because I don’t know for sure what they all are. I’ve heard Husband spit out letters and numbers (Husband: “oh, that’s a P141 Starlifter.” Me: “Really? Oh. Okay.”) but I CAN tell you that some of those planes are HUGE. And I mean even up in the AIR you can tell they are ginormous planes. It makes one wonder how, exactly, those monstrosities of metal and fuel manage to stay up.

One plane that I DO know how to identify is the F15 fighter. As I write this, they must be practicing touch-and-go because they’re essentially running loops around my house. I’ll hear them take off from the base (10 miles away by road – a lot closer as the proverbial crow goes). Then they’ll TEAR over my house – I very often miss them going by because they’re moving faster than the noise they’re making and I can’t get to the porch in time. Five minutes later they’ll come by the house again, going in the other direction, on their way back to the runway, then they’ll do it all over again. And when I say “they,” I mean THEY – there’s rarely one jet at a time, though one just went by all alone – there are usually at least two, and I’ve seen as many as four flying in formation.

It’s difficult to describe the rush that I get when these fighters whiz over my home. I’m not overly fond of flying, myself, and I’m not sure that I would WANT a ride in one of the planes, though I would think long and hard before passing up the opportunity should it ever come my way. The sheer speed and power that they boast seems to find its way under my skin, though, and I feel my own pulse quicken as they roar overhead. I certainly won’t be one of the neighbors calling the base to complain about the noise, though I find that my running to the porch to watch the planes zip past is making it very difficult for me to get anything of substance done these last few days…

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Which Are You….


A “windows open, breeze in your hair” kind of person?

Or a “windows up, A/C on” kind of person?

Guess which kind I am….

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Snapshot of a Tuesday Morning

6:40 – Mommy wakes to the sound of the train passing through town. The whistle meshed oddly with a most unpleasant dream I was having about aliens and the election of a president who promised to send away the youngest child of every family.

6:57 – Mommy wakes girls and informs them of the general weather conditions and asks what they might like in terms of lunch for the day

7:02 – Mommy realizes that Beanie hasn’t brought home her lunch box. Discusses with Beanie the importance of bringing the lunch box home and decides what to do about her lunch arrangements for the day

7:09 – finally settle with Punkin’ Pie that she can make her own damned lunch as she answers “no, thank you” to every option that comes her way

7:19 – Beanie comes downstairs from chatting with Daddy while he takes his shower. Punkin’ Pie is busily making peanut butter cracker sandwiches (“HOW is this different from the sandwich I offered you?!”) and being generally fussy about what else to have for lunch

7:27 – Beanie decides on toast for breakfast, then realizes that today is her field trip day. Well, then! That means you CAN’T have lunch in the cafeteria now, doesn’t it? Mommy hastily puts together a half a sandwich, a container of yogurt, an apple and a box of juice and wraps it all in a plastic grocery bag.

7:32 – Beanie realizes that the pretty skirt she’s wearing is inappropriate for a field trip to a county fair to see animals, so she interrupts her toast preparations to change into pants. Complimenting her on her good thinking, Mommy takes over the toast.

7:34 – Punkin’ Pie is STILL making her lunch, wandering aimlessly around the kitchen wondering what else to have. Note that she still hasn’t begun to think of breakfast. Mommy takes over at this point, including a cup of yogurt and a juice box, while sending Punkin’ toward the cereal cupboard.

7:46 – while the girls leisurely munch on toast and Life cereal, the bus drives by. Daddy’s eyes, not unjustifiably, roll.

7:53 – finally shod and jacketed, and complete with lunches (such as they are) and backpacks (which, hopefully, contain all the necessary homework and accessories), the girls and Daddy begin their (unanticipated) walk to school.

sigh

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Weird

My lack of techno-savvy has rendered me incapable of altering the date on a post I started the other day. If you’re interested in a native New Englander’s musings about the coming of autumn, scroll down past the love note to the hot water kettle…

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Our New Toy

We have a new electric kettle.

I’m a little surprised by how much I LOVE this thing. I mean, how hard is it to get out a glass measuring cup, fill it at the tap and pop it into the microwave for a minute, particularly when said microwave has a designated “minute” button? Not hard at all, I tell you! In spite of the former ease with which I magicked up hot water, though, I have fallen into quite a state of love for this little gadget.

In the two weeks we’ve had it, it’s boiled up a whole dining table’s worth of after-dinner tea, not to mention the single cup that Husband likes to enjoy with cookies in front of the t.v. at night. It has provided a jump start for the girls’ thermoses when soup was the bring-to-school lunch meal request. It makes short work of instant oatmeal and will, I’m betting, but just dandy when hot cocoa season comes around (though I imagine that it will only be pressed into cocoa service occasionally for the gotta-have-it-now cocoa emergency. We here at the Chili household like our hot chocolate REAL – milk and chocolate and vanilla – not that out-of-a-can powder, though such stuff does make it into the pantry and is good in a pinch). It was also handy when making WeedWoman‘s birthday cake last week.

I think part of my infatuation may be due to the fact that I’m re-reading Outlander and vicariously living the life of a time traveler who finds herself in the 1700s. It makes me glad to be living in the time that I do. What wonders we have at our fingertips! Automobiles! Hot showers! Antibiotics! And electric kettles that cleanly and efficiently meet all one’s hot water needs!

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How To Tell It’s Autumn in New England

You would think it would be a pretty easy thing to determine; one simply looks at the calendar to see that autumn begins on September 23rd. Here in New England, though, we’ve come to understand, after hundreds of years, that the calendar doesn’t always know what it’s talking about. No, if you want to know when autumn REALLY begins, you have to look for the usual signs like:

…..Football! You bet!…

….School starts…

and

….the first leaves change colors…

But then there are the less obvious, but far more telling, signs:

….the cats (all of them, even noisy “Don’t Fence Me In” Toeses) insist on coming in at night – and staying in until morning…

….the children are asking for oatmeal for breakfast and soup in their lunch boxes…

….Jackets on the way to school (though Daddy holds out with the shorts until damned near the first snowfall)…

….and the local ice cream joints start closing up shop…

Yep. It’s autumn in New England, no matter WHAT the calendar says.

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It’s Been a GOOD Day!

WOO HOO!! Mrs. Chili has had a GOOD day today. Not just an okay day, but a GOOD one! There is much rejoicing and gatitude-offering!

Item number one – I got a job! I’m an adjunct professor of English at Tiny Community College. I was interviewed and hired in one fell swoop, though the director won’t accept my answer to his offer until tomorrow – he wants me to “sleep on it” and get back to him in the morning. I suppose that means that, technically, I don’t have the job yet, but I’m not up for splitting those hairs at the moment. Regardless, he sent me home with a new-employee packet. It’s a done deal – I start in October.

Item number two – I’VE GOT THE PUCK BACK! Observe!

and

Isn’t she BEAUTIFUL!!

I’m feeling as though my Universe has re-aligned ever-so-slightly, and I am grateful.

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How We Remember


I’ve been thinking an awful lot about what has become known simply as “9/11″ and about what the events of that specific day – and everything that has come after – have meant to me as a citizen of the world.

I live about 300 miles from Ground Zero, in a semi-quiet little city on the coast of New England. I don’t know anyone who died in the planes that crashed in New York, Washington or Pennsylvania. I don’t know anyone who died or was injured in the buildings that were hit by those planes. I was mercifully spared any direct injury – physical or emotional – on that day, even though I live very near where two of the planes originated. I sometimes feel as though 9/11 should have no impact on me at all – my life wasn’t significantly changed by the events of that day; my world was not rocked by sudden, wrenching, mindless loss; I wasn’t even inconvenienced by the immediate aftermath of heightened security or delayed or canceled flights. Even so, I am a different person now, and I feel that, regardless of how much 9/11 did or didn’t touch me in measurable or tangible ways, the experience still belongs to me.

Kizz lives in NYC and she was my first thought when I found out what happened on that Tuesday morning. My husband assured me that she was fine – she had called him just after the first plane hit the north tower, though I wasn’t able to reach her for days after. She and I have never talked about the attacks beyond a brief phone call a few days later so that I could hear her voice for myself and find out if there was anything I could do to help her or people she knew. She doesn’t talk about that day – go here for an eloquent explanation of why – and I find myself cautiously respectful of her right to silence. This truly IS a case of “you wouldn’t understand,” particularly because I’m not sure anyone CAN understand the magnitude of something like this – it’s entirely unprecedented and very likely a few steps beyond what we, as humans, are capable of comprehending in any meaningful way.

The fact that I lived through 9/11 via my television screen doesn’t diminish my relationship to the event, though – my experience is just as valid as anyone else’s. I’m sure that a lot of people would take issue with that statement and accuse me of being arrogant to even consider putting my experience of 9/11 on an even plane with someone who had to run for their very lives from the wreckage of the Twin Towers or the Pentagon, or to someone who died in the aircraft that caused the destruction. I’m not talking about that experience, though; I’m talking about how the enormity of it all affected who I am as a person, as a parent, and as a citizen of my country and of the world.

As a result of 9/11, I am far more careful about my patriotism. I watched with mingled horror and shame as the rampant, mindless nationalism infected this country in the days and months following the attacks, while at the same time being proud of how well and quickly we as a nation came together to help in any way we could, from driving to NYC and DC to offer our physical labor to making donations to the Red Cross and charitable groups to wrapping up and mailing nutrition bars and bottled water. I called a Muslim organization at our local University to offer my support and assurance that not ALL their neighbors harbored feelings of hatred and hostility toward them. I wrote a letter and mailed a small check to the owner of a pizza parlor in the Boston area whose store was fire bombed because he is Afghani. My husband and I are taking pains to raise our daughters to not think in terms of “us” vs. “them,” regardless of what our government would have us think. While it may not be a very popular stance, I vehemently oppose the “war” in Iraq while, at the same time, trying to be supportive of the troops who are there doing the job they agreed to do when the signed up for the armed services. I’m paying attention. I vote.

On that Tuesday morning, I was at the health club in a step class. I didn’t have much of an idea of the extent of what was happening at the time; I had only heard that “a plane hit a building in NYC” and I thought that a small plane had veered off course – perhaps the pilot had suffered a stroke or heart attack – and that nothing much would come of it. I tend to avoid crowds and dislike participating in gawking, so when I left the class to find nearly everyone in the club clustered around televisions in the lobby, I headed up to the showers. When I was done, I gathered up the girls, then 2 and 4, and headed home. On the way, I was listening to NPR and beginning to understand that it was something far more than I had originally thought. A group of young men had congregated on an overpass of the highway already, waving flags and shouting to passing cars, and I knew that something had “snapped” and things would never be the same. I remember feeling a deep sense of dread.

As I pulled into the garage my husband, who had been working from home and watching events unfold live on the television, came out of the house. He opened the car door, knelt on the garage floor, buried his face in the baby’s lap and was overcome by wracking sobs. I got out of the car, unbuckled Punkin’ and told her to go hold Daddy, then I took Beanie out of her car seat and we all sat on the driveway, huddled together and crying while fighter jets from the nearby Air National Guard base took off overhead.

The world had changed, irrevocably and forever, and we had changed with it. Something did indeed “snap,” and we now bear the responsibility of raising children in a world where fanatics will use the intelligence they were blessed with to think up new and unexpected ways to kill those whose ideas and beliefs don’t align with their own; a place where presidents and world leaders use the fear and grief of their own people to rally them to war. It takes a lot of levelheadedness and love to counteract that kind of insanity. My dearest hope is that we are able to contribute in some small way to healing all of this pain and fear by practicing mindfulness and caring, and by raising strong, smart, gentle and loving children who will take those lessons in kindness and tolerance into the future.

I’m not sure there’s anything else we can do.

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Up, Up and Away!

The space shuttle Atlantis took off safely this morning.

I wish them a safe and successful mission.

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Do Not Drive or Operate Heavy Machinery


…A post which I write to you from the edge of a drug-induced haze.

I’ve done something to my back – again. I have no idea WHEN it happened, I only know that it did because, well, I’m in pain.

I don’t mind so much when I know for sure that I did something – even if it’s something stupid – that caused my discomfort. I’ve thrown my back out flipping a towel off my wet hair after a shower or snapping out sheets while making the bed; I’ve done it reaching into a grocery cart for a soup can; I’ve hurt myself trying to gently lay sleeping babies in their beds or tripping on the stairs. When I can point to some event and say “THERE! THAT’S where this all started!” and know for sure that I’ll be more careful when doing whatever “THAT” was again, I don’t feel quite so indignant at being nearly incapacitated by my lower back. When I have no CLUE what I did to bring me to this place, though, it makes being here all that much less pleasant.

I took a Flexeril about 20 minutes ago, and the excruciating spasms across the top of my butt are starting to give way. Of course, the pill also makes me stupid and fit for little else than an early bedtime. I’m hoping that a good night’s sleep will contribute to a less painful tomorrow, and that my chiropractor will just happen to come into his office tomorrow morning and find the message I left on his machine this afternoon. But that may just turn out to be a wishful hallucination…

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