Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Friday, July 20, 2012


We were in Ohio last week, the kids and I - Someone would have come, but we thought he had other plans. They fell through at the last minute, too late for us to bring him along.

We had a nice time with our friends, and even manged to get down to the drum circle...albeit in the morning when it was largely empty. Sprout didn't mind, though:

I'm hoping to go back again this year, but don't see it happening, realistically. Sigh. Since when are we so anchored in reality? Bah!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Casa de Crazy, before breakfast. Subject has been awake for thirty minutes.

*What do you do all day?*

Nothing. Well, I guess you can't...hold on...the washer stopped, I need to start another load...

5 minutes passes.

So, where were we?

*Discussing what you do...*

Yeah! So it's not really true that...oh, nuts, wait a sec...

Fifteen minutes pass as the subject collects garbage bags from around the house, goes outside and rolls the rubbish bin to the street.

Okay, sorry, what was I saying?


Oh, right. I guess you can't say I do no...hold on again, the baby's hungry.

Fifteen minutes pass as the subject prepares and serves fruit, cheese, and crackers to the toddler.

Sorry about that...I think she's in a growth spurt. As I was say...um...hang on again...

Another twenty minutes pass as the subject scoops food off of the floor, changes the toddler's nappy, washes her face, and engages her in some play before washing the high chair tray.

Okay, so as I was saying, you can't really call it nothing, because...uh, hang on, the washer stopped again.

Ten minutes pass as the subject removes laundry from the dryer, puts another load in and starts the washer again.

Whew, sorry - seems like the laundry is endless around here. I don't know how so much clothing and so many towels can get dirty in a day! So...wait...uh...dang, sorry...

Twenty more minute pass as the subject changes the toddler again, empties the dishwasher, and hand washes the dishes in the sink.

*Why hand wash?*

I'm out of detergent, haven't had the time or the budget to go get more. Sometimes I think they get cleaner this way, anyway!

*Back to the original question, you were telling me about "nothing"...*

Of course! So...sorry...

Another fifteen minutes pass as the subject makes toast for the nine-year-old boy who has just risen, then carries his bedding downstairs to wash. Forty-five minutes more elapse as she sets him to a history lesson - she home schools him.

Anyway...whew...do you mind if I get a drink of water? I forgot to, this morning. That's what comes of doing nothing all day, you know...

The subject goes to the kitchen to get some water, but is stopped by the boy who asks if he has any clean cups despite the fact that he is standing in front of the cupboard and the dishwasher, both easily within his reach. Subject hands him a cup, puts away a few dry dishes, washes up after the boy's toast breakfast, makes some more toast for the ever-hungry toddler, and returns to the couch without having gotten any water. Thirty minutes have elapsed.

Right, so it's not really fair to say I don't do anything all day, I mean sometimes I...excuse me again...

The dryer has stopped, and the subject goes downstairs and once again shifts loads around, this time bring a basket of clean laundry up with her. She sits and begins folding. Ten minutes elapsed.

Sometimes I do get...baby girl, stop helping Mama fold...something...baby girl, please don't, that's not really helpful...every once in a while, anyway...baby girl, c'mon now, if you grab everything I fold and wave it around like you've captured the flag, it isn't actually "helping" Mama get this done! Grr...excuse me, please...

The subject removes herself and the clean laundry to another room where she folds it and puts it away, all while the toddler stands in the blocked doorway and whines for attention. Twenty minutes go by.

Can I offer you something to eat? Drink?

No, thank you, I'm fine. Could we return to the question of "nothing"?

Sure, sure. I think I was saying that "nothing" would be an unfair...oh, hang on...

The subject prepares a snack for the toddler, who is becoming cranky. When the child finishes her food, the subject rocks the toddler in her arms until the child is asleep. This takes half an hour.

Whew, sometimes she put up a fight and it takes forever to get her to sleep. Boy, talk about grumpy! So as I was saying...oh, pardon me...

The nine year old wants to know where his shoes are. The subject helps him find them, still cradling the toddler in her arms. She then looks around for her cup of water, only to realize she never got one. She juggles the sleeping toddler and a cup, realizes she can't reach the faucet, puts the cup on the counter and sits back down. Thirty minutes elapsed.

*Are you feeling alright? You look a little peaked...*

Oh, sure, fine. I'm pretty sure I had something to eat this morning...or was that yesterday? Anyway, I got five hours of sleep last night, so I'm good to go. Are you sure I can't get you anything?

*No, thank you. Can I get you some water, since your hands are full?*

Oh, no thanks, I'll get some when she wakes up. So, about "nothing", I...oh, hang on...

The toddler has awakened and wants a drink, and something to eat, and to be held while she enjoys her snack. The subject changes the toddler once more, places her amidst a pile of toys to play, and steps into the kitchen to finally get her water. She takes a sip, swears softly under her breath, and fetches a broom - the floor is crunchy. Forty minutes elapse as she sweeps, chases the toddler away from her sweep pile, moves toys, sweeps more, and eventually manages to use the dustpan to get the worst of the mess into the trash. She sits down with a sigh.

I guess it depends on how you define "nothing", really. I mean, an anyone truly say...

The toddler thrusts an empty cup at the subject, demanding another drink. The nine year old wants to know where a particular toy is. The subject refills the toddler's cup and tries to help the boy find his toy in his bedroom, which seems to have a carpet of nothing but toys, stuffed animals, and clothing. She admonishes him to get his clothing into the hamper and if he kept his room tided up he wouldn't have trouble finding his toys, and didn't he have that particular toy in the garage yesterday, anyway? He runs to the garage without cleaning anything up, and she returns to her seat where the toddler clambers onto her and demands attention. Thirty minutes have elapsed.

I'm sorry, but will you excuse me? I need to...umm...

The subject retires to the restroom for a few minutes. The toddler whines at the blocked door.

Whew, that's better! I never went when I got up...oh, wait, sorry, TMI! Anyway, I do sometimes manage...excuse me...

Things continue in this fashion into the evening. For the sake of brevity, we will now skip to the end of the interview. The telephone has rung and been answered a number of times. Several puddles of cat vomit have been cleaned up. Nappies have been changed. Snacks have been prepared, eaten, and cleaned up. Lost items have been searched for, some have been found. Laundry and dishes have continued to be done throughout the day. The toddler is sleeping fitfully, occasionally waking and crying until the subject rocks her back to sleep. Dinner has been cooked, and haphazardly eaten. Toys are scattered throughout the house, despite the subject having continually picked them up throughout the day. The floor is once more crunchy, despite several sweepings. The nine year old is in his room, playing before bed. The subject is sitting on the couch, eyes drooping. She yawns.

Wow...so what were we talking about?

*You were explaining what you do all day.*

Right, right! So I don't think you can say I don't do anything. I mean...even just sitting here all day, my heart beats and my body processes things, so I don't think "nothing" is a fair assessment. And anyway, sometimes I go get the mail - that counts as something, right? Nah, okay, I guess maybe I really do nothing all day - I'm lucky that way.

End interview.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Yep, this is a repost, but why re-write what already suits??
In writing the Declaration of Independence, in ratifying it, in signing their names to it, the men named at the bottom risked the very things they hoped to secure for themselves and for future generations. They were performing an act of treason, and by putting their names to it they made of themselves targets for the man, for the nation, they accused. They fought for the principles they named, fought for their families, for their lives, and for the burgeoning life of the tender new nation they hoped to nurture into a great place, a free place, a place where anyone could hope to not just survive, but thrive - a place where anyone willing to put their all into it, to do their very best, could find success, no matter what their gods, their nation of origin.

Since that time, people have tried to follow their lead, standing up and making their voices heard to help secure their rights, the rights of future generations. They have added color and sex to the list of things that cannot determine success, cannot be used as an excuse to deny equal opportunity.

You do the same when you vote. You do it when you attend council meetings, board meetings, town hall meetings, and speak your piece; when you ask the hard questions, protest with signs, songs, shouts; when you show people who think they own this nation to the exclusion of others, people who think they have the right to amend your rights to suit them, that you are watching them, that you SEE them, that you know better.

You do it when you tell our armed forces "Thank you for your service" whether you agree with whatever conflicts we're embroiled in or not - because they are standing up for our liberty doing a hard, dirty, often thankless job - and they are there, ultimately, to preserve our nation and its principles (As an aside - thank you, men and women of the armed forces. Thank you, and blessed be, and come home safe to the families who love you, miss you, and hope only for your swift return.).

You do it when you teach the children in your life what it means to be free - freedom to fly means freedom to fall, and freedom to rise up again; freedom to succeed means freedom to fail, and to try once more; freedom to speak means freedom for dissenting opinions to be heard; freedom is not comfortable - at times, it is downright terrifying...but it is necessary to the human spirit.

Given a choice to be cold, hungry, ragged, poor, weary, worn and free, or to be clothed, fed, housed, succored, safe and bound - I will be free. Do not make the mistake of giving up your freedom for the illusion of safety - you will one day wake to find you have nothing left but the yoke you bound yourself to.

I could go on, but to what purpose? You understand or you don't - and my little rant won't sway anyone, I fear.

Here, then, is a transcript of our most essential document, the one that began it all, the one that first gave shape to our name, to our identity as a nation. Read, if nothing else, the first two paragraphs. They are as stirring, heartfelt, and powerful now as when they were first written.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1 - Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Column 2 - North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Column 3 - Massachusetts: John Hancock Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

Column 4 - Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Column 5 - New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Column 6 - New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton
If you've made it this far, thank you. To support out troops, go visit Any Soldier or Troop BeBop (I know this woman - she's a force of nature!). I wish you a safe, joyous, and happy Independence Day.