Category Archives: Friends

Ten Things Tuesday

I am 44 today.  I’m not a suspicious person by nature; I don’t believe in astrology or numerology or anything like that, but I am gearing up some hopeful anticipation that this year is going to be a good one (Lord knows I deserve it; ’11 and ’12 were much harder than I ever expected).

Here, then, are 10 things that I am looking forward to in my 44th year.

1.  I make no secret about the fact that my marriage is the most important part of my life.  I’m very much looking forward to another happy year with Mr. Chili.

2.  Being the mother of two (three, if you count Sweet Pea, and I do) teenage girls can be a challenge sometimes, but that doesn’t keep me from loving them to the center of my being.  I’m looking forward to my girls and our continually evolving relationships.

3.  I’m really hoping to nail the perfect job.  I don’t want to settle for whatever I can get, and I don’t want to find a position where I have to bend and twist my ethics or my enthusiasm to accommodate others’ fear or laziness.  I know that job’s out there, I just have to find it.

4.  I’m really digging having Bowyer back in our lives, and I’m looking forward to more family time with him and the boys.

5.  I’m also really loving having Sweet Pea’s family as part of our tribe, and I’m eager for another year of our easy, funny, harmonious companionship.

6.  I’m hoping to go places this year, though I’m not sure what our travel schedule will look like (given my current unemployment and the girls’ hectic schedules).  Punk’s going to England with the school band and Bean’s eighth grade class is going to DC in the spring; I’m hoping that, along with our annual haj to the lake, we can squeeze in a family trip to either DC or Florida sometime this coming year.

7.  I’ve been doing well with my increased focus on my yoga practice, and I’ve managed to get some other kinds of exercise in during these last few weeks, as well.  I’m going to keep at it so that my 44th year will be marked both by easier movement (I’m still battling the constant drag of arthritis) and my presenting slightly less force on the Earth.

8.  I’ve also been doing pretty well keeping in touch with people I love.  I get to see O’Mama fairly regularly, I reconnected with Ellen (formerly known as the Goddess of the Front Desk), and have managed to keep up with farther-away friends a little better, too.  I’m going to keep that up; I’m happier when I get to spend time with people I love.

9.  I’m loving being a student again, and am sucking up all the opportunities I can find to take classes, attend lectures, and participate in workshops.  I fully expect to complete my CAGS by the summer, and I’m going to have all of my professional development hours in the bag, as well.

10.  I fully intend to continue being actively engaged in politics and social issues.  Despite the fact that I get “all worked up” (as so many of my friends like to point out), I love the energy and purpose that I feel when I’m thinking, working, and educating.  These things matter, and I plan to stay in for as long as I can stand it.  If I can make even a little difference that makes the world better, it will be worth it.

Here’s to another trip around the sun!

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Birthday Love

Today is Kizz’s birthday.  Please go over to her place and wish her happy.

My friend has been very, very busy lately.  She’s produced and is performing a one-woman show, she’s raising an adorably rambunctious little dog, she’s been taking pictures all over the place and she’s holding down a job.  Seriously.

One of the things I treasure about my friendship with Kizz is that we’re so incredibly different.  We like different movies, we like different music, we have different perspectives on a lot of issues, and we live almost completely different lives.  I love that she’s there to offer a point of view that I never would have come to on my own; I know for sure that if I go to her with a question (and I go to her often), she’s going to give me something to think about that’s going to help me see farther than I would have otherwise.

Kizz is funny in a way that I think too few people appreciate.  She’s got an eye for the absurd and is able to point it out in a way that makes me laugh and think at the same time.

Kizz is passionate, and I think, if I’m going to be honest, that’s the thing I respect most in her.  She loves New York and the people in it, and she’s active in community organizations that help to keep her city strong.  She stands up against those who seek to diminish the status of women in the world; she doesn’t take any shit about that, and her writings on the subject have helped me to solidify my own thinking about women’s rights.  She’s all in about animal welfare (and always has been).  She’s dedicated to getting information to the public about important things happening in her neighborhoods and beyond; she is still my go-to source for updates on Sandy relief.  There’s a no-nonsense feel about her when she’s working with something she cares about, and I admire that about her.

I am very glad that Kizz calls me friend, and I’m happy to be celebrating another year with her in it.  Happy birthday to you, Kizz.  I hope that this year is your best yet.

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Ten Things Tues… er… Monday!

Since tomorrow is Christmas, and I’m likely not going to want to take time to post a TTT, I’m going to do it today.  You get Chili Holiday Randomness!

1.  The prime rib I ordered is nearly 11 pounds and BARELY fits into the pan in which I intend to cook it.  I’m going to have to put the sucker in the oven (at 200°) at 7 am if I want it done by 1:30.

2.  We’ll be 11 at dinner tomorrow; we four Chilis, Bruder, Mother and Father, Bowyer and the boys, and Martin, his wife Nancy, and her daughter.  I’m so looking forward to sharing my home with these people!

3.  In addition to the prime rib, there’ll be a turkey breast (Dad would prefer turkey, I think; he’s got a fussy tummy) and pasta in a roasted garlic parmesan cream sauce (for Bruder, who is a veggie-saurus).  These choices will be accompanied by brown sugar carrots, smashed red potatoes with garlic, green beans, and creamed onions.  I’m also planning on putting together a batch of pull-apart rolls, but we’ll see how tonight goes.

Edited to include; I put them together, and they are glorious.

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4. Desserts will be Mother’s plum pudding (requested by Martin, who remembers such things fondly from his childhood), Oreo truffles, shortbread, and an absolutely gorgeous dark chocolate cheesecake.

5.  Auntie and The Girl are coming in the morning.  The girls have to get their Nerf guns ready for the annual Christmas Morning skirmish.

6.  Our table looks GORGEOUS.  Punk did a wonderful job putting it all together.
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7.  As I write this (9:00 at night), Mr. Chili is wrapping presents in the family room.  How this last minute stuff doesn’t stress him right out is beyond me.

8.  I haven’t yet determined whether the girls are still writing Santa letters.  I hope they are.

9.  According to my iTunes info, I have 17.7 hours of holiday music (and that doesn’t include all the nuns and monks I’ve got stashed in there).  That ought to do nicely.

10.  I offer you my deepest, most heartfelt wishes for a safe, joyful, and contented holiday.  I hope it’s even better than you wish for.

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Happy Solstice

Sweet Pea and her family are joining the Chili family (plus Bruder) for our first annual Solstice celebration.

There are comfort foods on the menu; pot roast with mashed potatoes and carrots for the carnivores and bow ties in roasted garlic parmesan cream sauce for the veggie-sauruses, and fresh-baked bread for everyone.  The table is beautifully set thanks to Punkin Pie.  Candles are lit, presents are wrapped, and Solstice gifts of salt and nuts and other sustaining things are in the basket.

I’m very excited to start this new tradition.  Solstice has always felt like my holiday, like Christmas and New Year’s all in one day.  I’m delighted to find another family that feels this way, and I’m excited to begin this new tradition.

Happy Solstice.  May the coming year be marked by peace and compassion.

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Ten Things Tuesday

I think this is going to be a hard one.

I was talking to Sweet Pea the other day, and she told me that she’s been trying – deliberately and mindfully – to stay positive in the face of all the ugly and mean that dominates our day to day.  To that end, she’s making a list of all the GOOD things that happened in 2012 and she suggested that I do the same (which, I’m not going to lie, is likely going to present a challenge.  2012 has been a really, really hard year for me; it was not at all what I had hoped as I ushered 2011 out the door).

Here, then, are 10 things that went right this year.  Some of them may be a little backhanded (where I’m glad that something didn’t happen, or I highlight a silver lining) and some of them may be lame, but I’ve got what I’ve got.

1.  Sweet Pea is still here.  She’s healthy and whole and emerging from her darkness, and that may well be the best thing to happen in my world this year.  Even though I’m not listing things in any particular order, this one is definitely #1.

2.  My grandmother didn’t suffer months of dying.  A friend of mine likes to say “if it can’t be good, let it be quick.”  It was, and while I miss my grandmother every single day, I’m glad that she made a hasty exit when it was time to go.

3.  The Chili family has developed a strong and intimate connection with Sweet Pea’s biologicals, and it’s a relationship that I’m really cherishing.

4.  This is another one of the backhanded positives; I got Bowyer back.  I am sad to say that it took his wife’s leaving him to get him back in my orbit, but I am grateful, every day, that this man is a regular feature in my life again.  Anam Cara, indeed.

5.  President Obama was re-elected.  This is a foundational positive in my life at the moment; I’m not sure I could cope with what’s going on post-Sandy Hook if I were anticipating a different occupant in the White House.

6.  Mr. Chili is still employed, and reasonably securely so.  There are some changes and restructurings happening at his workplace, but we’re pretty certain that he’ll emerge from the shake-ups with a job (whether he’ll still be at Local U. is still up in the air, but still…).

7.  Another backhanded one; I’m actually glad to not be working at CHS anymore.  The more I hear about what’s going on there, the more convinced I am that, had I not been jettisoned last summer, I’d be perfectly miserable right now and working myself up so hard that I’d be sick all the time.  I miss the kids like crazy, and I do wish that I were working, but I’m glad that I’m no longer in a position of having to compromise my ethics for a job.

8.  I was accepted into the CAGS program, and I’m reasonably confident that I nailed the class I was taking.  The Paper is pretty good, if I do say so myself, and I’m expecting that to reflect in the grade I receive for the class.

9.  My people are all reasonably healthy.  Mother Chili is beginning her decent, I think, but not in any precipitous or alarming way; she’s falling down more often and will tell us the same story several times over the course of a single dinner, or she’ll completely deny being told something when there were witnesses to the telling.  Dad, at nearly-91 (in February) is still chugging along just fine.  The girls are healthy; Mr. Chili and I are healthy; it’s all good.

10.  There was laughter and comfort and friendship in my life this year.  For that, I am always grateful.

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Ten Things Tuesday

Today is O’Mama’s birthday.  Here are 10 things about her:

1.  My friend is such a dork.  She freely admits – out loud an in public – to lots of geeky obsessions; fan fiction, Dr. Who, Star Trek, that sort of thing.  I dig that about her.

2.  My friend has a very distinctive style.  She loves (and looks gorgeous in) clean, classic clothing accentuated by fun (but not too funky) jewelry.  Though she will deny this, I think she nearly always looks put-together.

3.  My friend shares my love of laughter, and it is true that when we get together, we laugh a lot.  It is also true that the people at the next table over in the restaurant most often have NO idea what the HELL we’re talking about.  I dig that.

4.  My friend appreciates the little things in her life (that, when you get right down to it, aren’t so little).  She is the only other person I know who is as happy in her marriage as I am in mine.  She loves her daughters while simultaneously being mystified (and sometimes horrified) by them, just like me.  She knows she’s got it good, and she’s conscious enough to stop every once in a while to appreciate it.  I REALLY dig that about her.

5.  My friend is a part of my foundation.  Even though we don’t see each other nearly as often as we used to – or as we’d like – I know that she’s ALWAYS there.  I can text her in the middle of the day, and she’ll respond.  I could call her at two in the morning, and she’d get in the car in her pajamas to be with me.  That sort of thing overwhelms me; I am honored and grateful to have that kind of stability in her.  I hope she knows she has it in me, too.

6.  My friend is smart; she is one of the most careful and critical thinkers I know.  Her input on the things we think about together is invaluable.  I am a smarter, better person because she shares her thinking with me, and I am profoundly grateful.

7.  My friend cares deeply about fairness and justice and basic human dignity.  The work that she does with her husband (the doctor) furthers her deliberate intentions to do good in the world.  I dig that about her.

8.  My friend is observant.  She has a way of seeing subtle connections, discerning motivations and consequences, and considering implications that reveal that she doesn’t miss much.

9.  My friend has a pointy sense of humor that I just love.  She has a way of highlighting the absurd in situations, she can clearly see the funny in a lot of life, and she’s a master at the deadpan ridicule of the inane.  She’s also not above pointing out the ridiculous in her own habits, and she does impressions (mostly of brogue Scots and old Jewish grandmothers) that crack me up.

10.  My friend is a genuinely good person who is constantly working to be even better.  She is self-aware and honest, and that’s a mighty rare thing.

Happy birthday, Bitch!  I love you!

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Quick Hit: Holiday Bush

We have procured this year’s tree!!

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It’s nearly 13 feet tall and has, by far, the biggest trunk of any tree (of any height) we’ve ever had before.  In fact, one of the guys who helped Mr. Chili wrestle the thing on top of his Tiguan commented that “she’s an old one.”

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You can’t really tell from the picture, but the trunk is wider than the span of Mr. Chili’s hand.  Seriously.  We were concerned it wouldn’t fit in the tree stand.  It does, but there’s not much room for water in there; I’m going to have to tend to her a couple of times a day.

 

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Without the able assistance of our neighbor (who, himself, wrestled his ginormous tree into his living room yesterday), we never would have gotten the thing upright.  Mr. Chili will be pressured into putting the lights on it tonight so that the girls and I (all four of us; I promised Sweet Pea she could be in on it) can decorate it tomorrow.

Thus, my holidays are officially begun.

 

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Wordy Wednesday: The Long Lost

*Author’s note; I started this entry about a dozen times, and I can’t seem to get it just right.  Bear with me while I work my way through this.*

Today is my friend Mary Margret’s birthday.  The thing is, I haven’t seen Mary Margret in years.  Mr. Chili happened to see her in the grocery store a few weeks ago and reported that she looked well, but I haven’t laid eyes on her in far too long.

Mary Margret and I didn’t have a falling out.  There was nothing (that I’m aware of) which precipitated our losing touch.  While this has never been confirmed by any sources outside of my own head, I strongly suspect the reason that Mary Margret and I don’t see one another anymore is because Mary Margret’s wife never liked me.

I met Mary Margret some 20+ years ago when she was a patron at the bank where I worked as the only customer service representative.  Something about her energy was instantly sympathetic with mine, and we became friends over the course of her conducting business at my branch.  One afternoon, her car wouldn’t start in the parking lot.  I asked her if she could drive a stick, and when she said that she could, I tossed her my keys (much to the dismay of my coworkers); I trusted her early and easily.  She would call me to check on her accounts, and I would ask about her significant other in ways that made her plainly aware that I was an ally.  We got along gracefully and well, and it wasn’t very long before we were friendly outside of work, too.

When I was cooking Punkin’ Pie, Mary Margret got me a job working alongside her at our public television station’s annual fundraising auction.  We had a wonderful time together – it was often just the two of us making phone calls to potential donors, and I remember laughing like fools most of the time (“Ooooh!  I’m calling a psychic next!  Let’s see if she knows it’s me!!“).  Everything about Mary Margret radiated warmth and acceptance and generosity of spirit, and I loved her deeply.

I was never comfortable around her wife, however.  Charlotte always gave off vibes that let me know she deeply mistrusted me.  I doubt that she was jealous per se, she and Mary Margret had been together for some 20-odd years before I met them, and I am clearly a player on the proverbial other team.  It could well have been jealousy, though; Mary Margret and I did have a kind of ease and comfort that belied the short time we’d known each other.  Regardless of the reason, though, Charlotte was very clear in her attitude and her body language that she didn’t approve of my presence in their lives.  I think that was why, eventually, Mary Margret and I lost touch.

I have to respect Mary Margret’s decision not to maintain our relationship; while it has never been a feature of my own marriage, I understand that lifelong commitments sometimes come with certain conditions.  I am sad, though, that it worked out the way it has.  I’m sad for me because I’ve lost a true and dear friend.  I’m sad for Mary Margret because, at some point, she felt had to make that choice for Charlotte’s sake and, knowing Mary Margret as I do, I know that must have been wrenching for her.

I’m mostly sad for Charlotte, though, because I can’t imagine being that fearful all the time.  I brought nothing but love and good intentions to her doorstep, but she saw me as a threat.  I’m sorry that I made her feel that way, and I’m sorry that, because of it, we’ve all lost something special.

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Birthday Love

It’s Carson‘s birthday!  Go on over and wish him happy.

I will freely admit to having a huge, geeky crush on this man.  For starters, he is, as we say around here, wicked smaht.  The work that Carson does in academia is stunning, and though he assures me that I am his intellectual peer, I’m not sure I buy that; I think he’s much smarter than I am.

Our politics are nearly perfectly aligned.  Though there are a few topics we haven’t covered yet, we determined a few weeks ago that if we’re not spot-on in terms of our respective stances, we’re at least in the same zip code.  What I really love about this, though, is that we don’t just sit around assuring one another of our correctness; we’re willing to ask questions and challenge assumptions and make sure that we really understand the implications of our stances.  I dig that about him.

There is something about Carson’s energy that I love.  He’s engaged and enthusiastic, seemingly all the time.  He’s a careful and thorough critical thinker.  He radiates generosity and compassion.  Oh, and don’t forget the funny; here is a soul who loves to laugh, and in that, we are peers.

Carson is a running freak.  I mean it; the man goes for “easy” 20-mile runs.  WHAT?!  About this, he and I are decidedly incompatible, but I respect and admire his fortitude and his commitment.

I am honored that this man offers me his friendship, his time, and his attention, and I’m grateful for another year with his voice in my chorus.

Happiest of birthdays to you, my friend, and may you celebrate many more.

 

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Thought for Thursday: Fear and Rage

I’m not one to gloat.

It’s not that I don’t have feelings of in-your-faceness, it’s that I want to be a better person than that.  While the facebook universe was exploding with “suck it, Republicans!” messages, the only bit of bitter celebration I allowed myself was this, mostly because I thought it was more funny than mean.

As the confetti settles and we try to regain a sense of normalcy after the insanity that marked the last few weeks (to which I completely surrendered myself), it’s interesting – and more than a little scary, sometimes – to see what’s happening with the people who feel that they “lost.”

The first thing I saw on Wednesday morning was this:

The accompanying news article says that it was a “mistake” and that the “flag pole is broken” and that accounts for the presentation (which, for those who might not know, is an indication of extreme distress).  I’m not sure I buy that story.

This seems to be a popular item among the disappointed.

This astounds me.

The thing that continues to amaze me is the depth – the genuine, honest-to-goodness truth – of the fear that so many people harbor.  I know this isn’t a joke to them – they are really, truly scared, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.  No one is coming for them.  No one is trying to undermine them.  No one has it out for them.

My greatest wish for the next four years is that the angry and frightened stop – just for a short time – and really look at what’s going on outside their bubble.  The economy is growing.  Wars are ending.  Equality is a good thing.  You are not under attack and your country is not disintegrating before your very eyes.  Take a deep breath.  Turn off Fox and Beck and Limbaugh for a month and see what happens.

Come back to us.  We miss you.

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