Monthly Archives: September 2014

Quick Hit: Whoops

So, ever since the kittens figured out how to bust out of the nursery, we’ve been a little worried about the ponytail palm.  She’s a lovely specimen, with long, flowing fronds that are just PERFECT for kittens to bat at and nibble.

I have her sitting on a low plant stand, but with the combination of the stability of the stand and the low center of gravity of the plant, I wasn’t even a little concerned about the kittens being able to pull or knock it over just yet.

I, on the other hand, am another critter altogether.

Yes, Friends and Neighbors; *I* knocked the ponytail palm over this morning – ironically, while cleaning! – and managed not only to get dirt and water EVERYWHERE (because, of course, I had JUST watered all the plants), but also to crack the pot so badly that it is completely un-salvageable.  Observe:

photo copy

Added to my to-do list today is a trip to the greenhouses for a new pot.

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Ten Things Tuesday

DAMN, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these! Today, you get randomness:

1. The kittens – all six of them – are hanging out at the shelter awaiting their spay/neuter surgeries, their first rounds of vaccinations, and their ID chips. As a consequence, the house is very quiet.

2. Well, quiet, but not silent. We haven’t figured out yet if Miss Kes is doing all her talking because she’s looking for her kittens, or because she’s finally gotten comfortable enough here at Chez Chili to let her true self out. We don’t know much anything about her origins, but a quick look at her reveals that there’s GOT to be a Siamese somewhere in her lineage, which could account for her vociferousness.  We’ll see, when the kittens return, if she continues to be as vocal as she is.

3.  In the absence of kittens, I’m doing a major house cleaning today.  I’ve already done two loads of laundry, vacuumed and reset my bedroom, the upstairs bathroom, hallway, and loft.  I’m going to tackle the great room and kitchen when I finish posting this, then give myself a break to watch the Sons of Anarchy episode I have on TiVo before hitting the family and dining rooms.

4.  My composition students at both colleges turned in their compare/contrast essays yesterday.  I haven’t looked at a single one yet, but I have a glimmer of optimism that, for first papers, they won’t be that bad; the classes seemed to embrace the work we did in terms of drafting, and I gave them plenty of time for workshops and revision.

5.  I am taking the first of two barre trainings this weekend.  It’s a four-day intensive thing, and I’m hoping to come out the other side with a skill I can market to both Local U and the health club.  I’m not wild about teaching the strength classes I’ve been given at L.U. (I teach two strength classes and three yoga classes there) and I’m hoping that the barre certification will mean that I get paid at my yoga rate for whatever classes I lead.  The health club doesn’t have a barre installed, but the rumor is that their thinking about adding one, so this certification might be timely.

6.  Except that the timing sucks.  The first day of training coincides with my town’s apple harvest festival, and I’m bummed that I’m going to miss that.

7.  We went last weekend to a big fair in the state, though, and that was interesting.  I have a post brewing that is inspired by all the hysterical “they’re coming for our guns” tee shirts that I saw people wearing all day on Sunday at this event, and I’ve been musing ever since about willful ignorance and the energy which people are willing to put to shoving proverbial fingers in their ears, scrunching their eyes up tight, and yelling “LA, LA, LA, I’M NOT LISTENING TO FACTS!!” at the top of their voices.

8.  There is a strong possibility that I might have a part-time gig at a charter high school in January.  I don’t want to jinx it, but from here, it’s looking pretty good.  I’ll keep you posted.

9.  It’s well and truly autumn here now.  The leaves are lovely, the temperatures are cooling off significantly, and I’m starting to cook comfort foods again.  Also on my to-do list today is to make the pot of spaghetti sauce Mr. Chili requested the other night.  Marc is coming over tonight for a dinner of stuffed shells.  Mmmm.

10.  Did you know that it is REALLY hard to get a good picture of an all-black cat.  I have a bunch of really great shots of Sisko and Jordi, but a picture that does justice to my pretty Nala continues to elude me.  As of right now, this is the best picture of her that I have:

photo“I am Nala, Mistress of Darkness.  Fear me.”

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!

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Quick Hit: Our Countrymen

This popped up on my facebook feed last night:



The caption on the photo goes like this:  The American Challenge
Many of you have done the Ice bucket challenge. Let’s see how many of you will do the American Challenge! You have 48 hrs to post a pic of yourself with an American flag, a Bible, and a gun or post on your timeline why you do not accept the American Challenge! Let’s show the world that we are PROUD AMERICANS

Not for nothing, this lovely example of American culture has adopted “Benghazi” as her middle name.  Kinda tells you all you need to know about her, huh?

I’m posting this because I want you all to remember that SHE VOTES; you can COUNT on that.  The mid-term elections are in 35 days (as of this writing).  We have two choices; we can continue to complain about people like Ms. Benghazi over here, or we can go and vote out of office the kind of elected officials who encourage (foment) this kind of dangerous, ignorant fuckery.

What’s it going to be?

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Filed under Civics on Saturday, critical thinking, doing my duty, dumbassery, politics, this is NOT a drill, Worries and Anxieties, WTF?!

The Equalizer

Seriously?  The best movie of its kind I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

Beyond the stellar performance of Denzel Washington (can this man do anything badly?), this was a really remarkable film.  It’s an action movie, make no mistake about that, but it’s an action movie that assumes its audience has a maturity level above that of your average 14-year-old boy.  The story takes its time developing, there are a number of subtle and nuanced details that, if one isn’t paying attention, can be easily overlooked (or misunderstood), and the character development is masterful.

Our hero is not a stereotype; we don’t get the exhaustive (and exhausting) back story that movies which don’t trust the intelligence of their audiences tend to beat to death.  We are given some time to get to know this man, and if we’re paying attention (and I was), we pick up on several subtle cues that give us some insight into what kind of man he really is.  His interactions with the people in his life, from his coworkers to the hooker who eats pie at the all-night diner he frequents, are genuinely caring; he’s patient, attentive, and generous with his time, though despite that, we can tell there’s more he’s holding back than he’s giving.

The event that pushes him “back” into a life he’d walked away from surprises both him and us, and his response to it reveals that he cares a lot more than he he is willing to initially credit himself for.  He’s not a man to do anything halfway; he’s observant, thoughtful, and deadly thorough (and demanding of himself; the one amusing quirk of timing his actions – and then being disappointed when he takes longer than he expects – speaks to his expectation of perfection in the execution of his missions).

Despite the presence of tattooed Russian mafia and dirty cops, the film doesn’t drop into the action flick tropes.  There’s no love interest in need of saving, there’s no sidekick who’s the brains of the operation, and the contact to whom our hero returns for information is a woman without the usual “I have something to prove” attitude (and her husband’s presence and demeanor may inspire another essay on the film all by himself).

If you like a smart action film, I cannot recommend this one highly enough.  It’ll be added to my personal library as soon as it’s out on DVD, and I can’t wait to see it again.

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Gotcha Day *EDITED*

I dropped Kes at the shelter on Wednesday so that she could be spayed, vaccinated, and chipped.  I go this morning to pick her up and bring her home forever.


It is ridiculous how much I’ve missed her these last two days.  Fortunately, the coordinator at the shelter is a patient woman and has put up with my texts asking for updates on how Kes is doing (and she consented to give my baby some chin scritches for me).  I cannot wait to go and get her; she’s mine and I love her.


**Side note: The kittens are going in for their work-up on Monday, but I don’t know whether we’ll get them back on Wednesday or Friday; it all depends on the surgery schedule at the shelter, but it goes without saying that we’re all hoping that they’ll be cared for on Tuesday.  The folks who are taking the three that we’re not are all lined up and ready to go; Sweet Pea and her man are taking Lincoln, the ginger, and they are as anxious to have him forever as I am about Kes.  One of Mr. Chili’s coworkers is taking the calico twins, and they’re all ready for them; they came by to visit them the other day and told us all about the arrangements they’ve already made to the house to accommodate the girls.  Everybody wins.

**EDITED**  DAMMIT!  It turns out that Kes has a minor infection (mastitis, in case anyone’s wondering) that kept her from having her spay surgery yesterday.  I still picked her up this morning, but she’s not officially ours yet.  Seven days of antibiotics and we’ll try again.


Filed under Home and Family, love notes, pets

Meme Me!

I found this one on Facebook.  I switched “favorite” for “best; I make no claims to the objective quality of the things I like:


Favorite Action Film: Avengers
Favorite Science Fiction Film: Star Trek (2009)
Favorite Fantasy Film: The Lord of the Rings (specifically, Return of the King)
Favorite Romance: 50 First Dates
Favorite Western Film: This one’s a tie between Dances with Wolves and Unforgiven
Favorite Foreign Film: I don’t think I have one; I don’t really know any foreign films…
Favorite Comedy Film: It’s a tie between Young Frankenstein and The Big Lebowski
Favorite Mystery Film: The Bourne Identity
Favorite Crime Drama Film: Gone Baby Gone
Favorite Revenge Drama Film: Leon (The Professional)
Favorite Caper Film: Oceans 11 (2001)
Favorite War Film: It’s a tie between Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List
Favorite Noir Film: I don’t think I have one
Favorite Horror Film: They’re more thriller than horror, and it’s a tie between The Sixth Sense and The Others
Favorite Children’s Film: Anything from Pixar, though I have a special place in my heart for Finding Nemo
Favorite Animated Film: Disney’s Tarzan
Favorite Musical: I really don’t like musicals
Favorite Documentary: The Civil War
Favorite Concert Film: Stop Making Sense
Favorite Silent Film: Nosferatu

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On Children

For as long as I can remember, being a good mother has always been the single most important goal of my life.

I did not have a good mother growing up.  In fact, I had a pretty terrible mother; she was in turns shockingly neglectful and viciously emotionally abusive, so it was practically a spiritual imperative that I would make my mothering experience as a counter to all the bad energy that my own mother poured into the world.  I wanted this for my own children, but I needed it for me.  Being a good mother is how I have been healing the very wounded child that I was.

I think, for the most part, I’ve done what I set out to do.  I have two wonderful daughters who are strong, loving, compassionate, decent human beings.  I have really amazing relationships with these girls, as well, which has been – and continues to be – both wholly satisfying and completely alien to me; until I was a teenager, I didn’t have a model of how mothers and daughters could co-exist in anything even approaching a warm, safe way.  I am loving having young adult daughters; our relationships are dynamic and meaningful and very often a lot of fun, and the ease with which I interact with my girls is an important part of my day-to-day.

That being said, I think I may be a bit of an aberration as a mother.  I am not – and never have been – the kind of mother who hovers or feels the need to be all up in my kids’ stuff all the time.  I have known, keenly and since the very beginning, that my primary job as a mother is to teach my children how to get along in the world without me – so much the better if they can do better than I did – and I knew that I couldn’t reach that goal if I did for them when they could do for themselves.

One of the stories I tell to illustrate this idea involves a pre-school aged Punk, a snowstorm, and pretty shoes.  I have always let the girls choose their own clothes, even when they were little-little.  We woke on the particular morning of which I speak to about 4 inches of new snow, and Miss Madam decided that today was the day she was going to wear a dress and pretty shoes to school.

I took her to the window and showed her the snow, then reminded her that choosing pretty shoes was going to result in chilly piggies and would complicate her outdoor time at school, but she had made up her mind about how she wanted to dress that day.  She knew the consequences of her choices and she was willing to live with them, and so was I.

I helped her pick her way through the puddles and drifts to get to school, kissed her goodbye, and went on with my morning. Pick-up, four hours later, was traditionally outside; parents came to the play yard, checked in with the teachers on outside duty, and collected their children.  As I rounded the corner to the gate, I saw Punk, looking quite pretty and feminine in her dress and pretty shoes, on the pavement talking with one of the teachers on duty.  She was clearly not distressed that she couldn’t be in the drifts digging forts and throwing snowballs; she was perfectly content where she was, doing what she was doing.

I unlatched the gate and made my way to my baby, passing a little knot of mothers who chatted together while waiting for their kids to finish whatever project they were working on in the yard.  As I got closer, I could make out the gist of what they were talking about, and it went something like “what kind of mother dresses her kid in Mary Janes and a dress on a day like today?”

I’m not one to meekly cower in the face of critics, and while I wouldn’t exactly characterize my response as “rounding on” the ladies, I did make it very plain that *I* was the kind of mother who ENCOURAGES her child make her OWN choices about what she chooses to wear.  I pointed out that my child was neither going to freeze nor miss out on some rare and important opportunity due to her clothing choices, and in fact that our morning had been entirely pleasant because, rather than fight about something as inconsequential as pretty shoes and force my will on my child, likely causing her to resent me and making our future interactions more difficult, we had a lovely breakfast together and she was complimented on how cute she looked by the teachers when she arrived in the morning, further bolstering her confidence and self-esteem, thankyouverymuch.

They had nothing to offer in response.

I’m telling you this story to tell you another one, because where I am a huge advocate of compassionate detachment with my children, my husband is not, at least, not about the girls and school.

Mr. Chili found out that, only a week or so into the school year (her senior year, it should be noted) Punk was already missing some assignments in class.  He sent me an all-caps text message expressing his outrage (and just general rage) about the situation, and that he wasn’t going to put up with it anymore.  I wasn’t home when it happened, but what I’ve been able to piece together from the fallout was that he came home that afternoon and DID round on the girls.  I gather he insisted that they be diligently working on their homework when he gets home, that he wants to see EVIDENCE of their doing the work, and that he’ll brook no more lackadaisical attitudes toward their scholarship.

What’s killing me is that he’s making THEIR behavior and attitude toward school about HIM.  He cannot see – and I cannot get him to understand – that the girls’ school performance has NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM.  It’s not a reflection of his capacity as a parent (he insists that it is), it doesn’t impact his life in any meaningful way (again, he says that it does), and it certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with how the girls feel about him as their father (there’s the kicker; I think he’s tying their respect for him to their willingness to do their homework assignments, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how he’s doing that particular bit of emotional acrobatics).

What really gets me is that he doesn’t just want them to go through the motions, though that’s exactly what they’re going to do to satisfy his demands, and they’re going to resent the fuck out of him for it.  He wants them to CARE about their schoolwork.  He wants them to CARE about getting the grades and being good students.  I cannot get him to understand some very important things about this; first, that one cannot compel another’s passion.  He can no sooner make them care about something they don’t than he can make them like a flavor they despise.  Second, and this is something that he gets angry at me for pointing out (I AM a teacher, after all!) is that the system is NOT set up to inspire kids to WANT to participate.  There’s precious little that’s “fun” about school the way we do it; we don’t excite kids (in fact, we spend a lot of time, effort, money, and pharmaceuticals getting them to sit down and shut up).  We don’t encourage them to be curious or to dig into things that interest them.  We insist that all kids learn the same things in the same ways, and that they demonstrate the same levels of competence using the same metrics.  It’s fucking soul-sucking.  Really; it’s a wonder we can get the kids to willingly submit to it day in and day out.  Honestly?  I’m pleased the girls are doing as well as they are, given the circumstances; school the way we do it is not kind to thoughtful, creative minds.

I’m having lunch with my husband this afternoon, and I’m hoping to gently ease him back from this rampage he’s on.  It’s going to give him an ulcer, and the only thing he’s going to succeed at in this effort is making his kids hate him every afternoon for a couple of hours.  I’m not sure that I can get to the root of what this is about (it’s clearly something about HIM, but I don’t know a) if I can get to it or b) that he’ll be willing to look at it if I do), but I owe it to my kids to try.  What we’ve got going on now is untenable.

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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