For all of my lawyer friends, this is the brief that we all wish we could have written. Snarky, sarcastic. If you are familiar with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you probably caught the recent episode where he discussed coal and a certain coal mine owner who does not like publicity. He threatened to sue, and in fact he did. The West Virginia ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief which is just … too darn good. Even my non-lawyer friends will get a few good chuckles out of this. To give you an idea of what you might be in for, there are section headings such as “All of John Oliver’s Speech Was Protected by the First Amendment. You Can’t Sue People For Being Mean to You Bob” and great legal points such as “Bob Murray thinks John Oliver was mean to him, and doesn’t want him to be mean to him again. While that is sad for Bob Murray, it is unconstitutional for a Court to order such relief.” ACLU Brief, P. 8

I encourage you to follow the link here and give it a read yourself. In addition to brushing up on your First Amendment law, it’s quite the read. Excellent job, ACLU, excellent job.

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timToday, our youngest son flips the birthday page and a decade, turning 20. Hard to believe that 20 years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye. I remember the day he was born like it was merely yesterday. I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing young man he has grown to be, with his feet firmly rooted in his heritage and his family and a soul that loves to explore– always inquisitive, searching, learning, growing. The scope of who Tim is clearly reflected in what he is doing  now and where he has been this summer. He started his summer exploring his Italian heritage in Sicily, working hard to secure himself a coveted spot on the National Italian American Foundation’s Voyage of Discovery where he spent two weeks learning about his Italian roots, practicing his Italian and enjoying all the history that Sicily had to offer him. As I write this, he is exploring this country, from coast to coast, and will spend his birthday today hiking and exploring one of our country’s national parks. This picture taken on his journey this summer, it is so “Tim” I couldn’t help but “borrow” it for this post.

I admire and respect his tenacity, his thirst for knowledge and the breadth and depth of what he already has learned and his beautiful voice. He is a kind soul, always ready to lend a hand and a hard worker as anyone who is familiar with his work last summer could definitely attest to in a heartbeat.

I know that he will do great things in this new decade and those decades going forward.

One night a while back, when we had ordered some take-out Chinese, we sat around and opened our fortune cookies as we normally do, laughing at what each said. Tim’s fortune that night summed up him perfectly ~ “You are a traveler at heart. There will be many journeys.”  

Happy 20th Birthday my (not so little anymore) traveler! Love you!

dad and tjRemembering the first guy to steal my heart and wishing that he was still here to see how this grandson and the other two grandsons have thrived and grown to be men he would be proud of, especially considering how glowing he was in this picture with TJ.

IMG_5938this guy who I am so lucky to call my best friend and I can’t imagine life without him in it. He’s a great dad to our boys and I love sharing the parenting journey with him.

12308198_989180081121162_5920617141299348996_oMy brother, Bill whose smile reminds me of my dad and is a wonderful dad himself.

Damian, my brother through marriage, who has a generous heart, raised three men who are sweethearts with my sister and I am lucky to have him as part of our family._DSC0757

and my dad through marriage, Poppy, who, among other things is responsible for being the dad to my husband and raising him to be the man that I love.

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Happy Father’s Day to these wonderful men and to all our friends who are dads. You all hold a special place in my heart.

So, here is something that I found over at Sivana and it’s pretty good Zen Wednesday wisdom, and good for a few laughs, especially after the last few weeks. #6, #12 and #18 are favorites of mine. What are yours?

21 Sarcastic Zen Sayings You Need In Your Life

  1. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
  2. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
  3. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
  4. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
  5. Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield.
  6. If you ever feel you are worthless remember that you are full of expensive organs.
  7. It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.
  8. Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
  9. Always remember that you’re unique, just like everyone else…
  10. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
  11. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  12. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
  13. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.
  14. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
  15. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  16. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
  17. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
  18. Duct tape is like ‘The Force’. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
  19. Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.
  20. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
  21. If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

Today is my middle son’s 21st birthday and what follows is for him.

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Dearest Tyler:

It is so hard to believe that 21 years have gone by since the day I first held you in my arms, amazed that I could fall in love all over again with a kid with beautiful blue eyes and platinum blonde hair. A St. Patrick’s Day baby is what you were supposed to be, but you were having no part of that and decided that you would make your entrance into this world (with a little help from the doctor) in your own good time. Thinking back after all these years, I understand now why you are not a morning person since you made your way into the world at 5 p.m. 🙂

You have grown from that no-so-little baby into a handsome, kind, empathetic man that towers over me. You have always had an amazing smile that lights up a room, remember to use it often, no one can ever smile too much. I am and always will be very proud to be your mom. As I told you many times, I am and always will be your biggest fan and supporter. You are destined for wonderful things. Despite the world now considering you a full and complete adult, you are and will always be, my baby.

 

Happy 21st birthday Tyler, I love you. 

 

 

DSCN3991Tomorrow is Town Meeting Day across Vermont. Tonight was Town Meeting in Wallingford. Democracy at its finest. If you’re not from New England and have never been to town meeting, I strongly suggest that it be a reason for visiting during the midmost of mud season. Tom really wanted to bring popcorn but he held back. Honestly, depending on your town, it can be that good. 🙂

The first Tuesday in March is a state holiday, Town Meeting Day. While some towns in Vermont vote all or a part of their town meetings through Australian ballot, there is no legal requirement to do so and in fact, there are still some towns that do all their voting from the “floor” a town meeting. For instance, tonight herein Wallingford, there was actually a motion from the floor to increase our town’s budget and therefore the town’s taxes from the floor by a fellow citizen. Where else does one person just raise their hand, stand up, state their name and make a motion to increase the town’s taxes? Not in New Jersey, that’s for sure. The vote because it passed, required the moderator to do some math on the fly to revise the following article to reflect the new budget amount when the same group of town residents voted on the town budget.

The issues run the gamut as stated by the Burlington Free Press from whether or not to purchase a new truck in the town to impeaching the president. I remember our first town meeting, we showed up wide eyed and amazed at this wonderful New England tradition. Here in Vermont, the farmer down the road, the local elementary school teacher or the 18-year-old college student can stand up, raise his or her voice and change the whole budget for the town or persuade the town to support a cause or convince them to pull support for a cause or a budget item. Amazing, still after ten years.

 

I am short, no two ways about it especially when you live in a house with everyone else over six feet tall. It wasn’t always that way, I used to be the second tallest person in the house when the other three members of the family were all shorter than I. Then puberty hit (for them) and I fell right through the ranks to the shortest person in the house – unless you count the dog, but she’s not a person so I guess I can’t even win that one.

Short person problems.  You never see things that the “tall folk” in the house put away since they are usually above your head. Personally, I think tall folks enjoy this – but that’s just my own two cents.

The infamous step stool – an accoutrement of the short girl. My step stool has been all over the house and the porch. It is the extra foot or thereabouts that I need to make life work. The other day, we were bringing in wood which Tom and I usually do together. We both stack the rack until it gets above my head and then I pass to him and he stacks the rest. He wasn’t around so I wasn’t about to wait. Out came the step stool and I climbed up and down to finish stacking the wood in our wood rack.

It is my kitchen companion to reach the items on the shelves out of my reach or to get something put on top of the refrigerator. It gets pulled out when I need to attach or detach the hummingbird feeders from the porch and no tall person is around to help.

Are you short? Do you have a step stool? Hopefully I’m not the only one.

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Plastic shopping bags. You can accumulate them like mad if you have a family and do any amount of shopping. While you can recycle them at the store for re-use or reuse them yourself for trash can liners on wastebaskets or such, they do accumulate quickly, don’t they?

I always used to smirk at the sign planted just outside the automatic doors at Hannafords – “Did you remember your reusable bags?” I have joked with the cashiers that the sign, while loaded with good intentions, didn’t help walking into the store at all since if I forgot my bags, they were a good 12 miles away at home. That sign, I have said more than once, needs to be in my driveway.

I try to use my resusable shopping bags every time I go grocery shopping. In fact, I often say that I feel like a tourist if I forget them because it becomes very apparent to me, in the store that everyone else who isn’t from away on vacation, has their bags.

Pretty soon, here in Vermont we may join California, Florida, Arizona and many hundreds of other towns and cities across the country in banning the plastic disposable shopping bag from our stores. H.105 is a bill that has been introduced here in Vermont to ban plastic disposable shopping bags. The bill would protect small businesses and not apply to compostable bags or recycled plastic bags.

I remember the first reusable grocery bags I found years and years ago when I still lived in New Jersey. Chico Bags. They were very nice bags that could fold up and be put right in your purse or glove compartment or pocket. They could even attach to your car key ring. They came in a variety of colors, but all the same shape. osrd-3

Now, Chico Bags have bags on their site in every style, size and color. In fact, most every store you walk into, be it grocery, clothing or hardware, has its own type of reusable bag for sale. Bags are made from varying materials for strength and durability.

Do you use reusable shopping bags? Do you need that Hannafords’ reminder sign in your yard? What’s your favorite bag?

img_4887So here’s a question. Do you push in your chair when you get up from the table?

Does the type of table you are getting up from determine whether or not you return the chair to its position tucked under the table?

Do you even have any idea what you do or don’t do with your chair when you get up from the table?

Do you push in your chair when you leave a conference room?

I have been observing. In my heart, I think I am a true people watcher.

Lately, I have been noticing people and their chairs. Weird, I know, but I notice that it is about evenly split, whether one pushes in one’s chair when they leave a table or not. This got me to thinking about the etiquette of pushing in one’s chair and if there was even such a thing.

img_5364I was raised to push my chair in after I got up from the table. Maybe part of it was that our kitchen was also our dining room and there wasn’t much room to spare, so pushing in your chair when you got up was not only polite, but it made sense. With our house, our family pushes in chairs when they get up from the table. The boys were taught that was the proper way to do things, at least at home, although I have personally observed them pushing in their chairs when we are out at dinner. Proud mama moments, they are truly the little things – but I digress. 🙂

I notice that not everyone pushes in his or her chair. In fact, a lot of people don’t push in their chairs. It can be annoying when you get up or try to get up from the table at a restaurant and bump into the chair behind you that wasn’t pushed into the table. At home, it is frustrating when I have to go around and push in chairs if someone doesn’t push in their chair when they get up, things look off, could be OCD on my part, but hey, it’s my house and I like my damn chairs pushed into the table. 😉

So, the question remains, what is the proper etiquette? According to Emily Post, the mother of all things “etiquette”, it is basic table manners to push in one’s chair when one leaves the table. It’s so basic in fact, that it is in categorized in her 1922 etiquette book under the category “The Kindergarten of Etiquette”. Evidently, according to Ms. Post’s rules, a child should not even be allowed to dine at the adult dinner table until the child learns how to pull out and push in his or her chair (along with other basic table manners).

As I investigated even further, modern manners, almost 100 years later, still expect that when you get up from the table, you push in your chair, even if you are just leaving to use the restroom! In fact, just because you are eating your meal at McDonalds and not some fancy five star restaurant doesn’t excuse you from pushing in your chair. You are even expected to push in your chair when you get up from a conference room table at a business meeting. The prevailing thought is that it is just plain ol’ polite and helps to prevent someone else from bumping into or falling over your chair.

Therefore, it appears that we all may have a bit of work to do in the chair pushing in department. Next time you are out and about, be a bit of a people watcher and take notice. Let me know what you find to be the prevailing trend. I’m truly curious.

 

 

Friends and family often comment that we are lucky to live here. We absolutely are. We are blessed with beautiful views, good friends, wonderful neighbors, good cross country skiing and great fresh air. But we are also stuck with nights like tonight. We decided to head out to a local place for a quick bite. It was not late, but it also wasn’t early. We got to the spot and it was packed. Of course what did we expect? Friday night during ski season in the land of skiing, right in the path of those coming from out of state. It was disappointing to both of us and reminded us that there is a downside that is not always readily apparent to those that come to visit.

Enough of the whining. Now, the upside. We headed home grabbed some frozen beer battered haddock from the Wallingford Locker, made some rice pilaf from scratch with lots of garlic and parsley and had a delicious but quiet dinner at home. When you are in the mood to go out and socialize, as my husband who doesn’t get out all week with work, was – it was disappointing. But we made the best of the situation. And the other upside, was the delicious blueberry turnovers for dessert. Ssshhhh.  Those are the same turnovers I am bringing in the morning for my school board retreat. 🙂fullsizeoutput_6ad4fullsizeoutput_6ad5

Last night was Christmas, all over again. We got tickets from our son for a concert at ArtsRiot in Burlington. It was a lovely evening. We had dinner with some of our favorite young adults, walked over to the concert venue on Pine Street and settled in for a nice musical evening. We were not disappointed. The entire concert was an acoustic event. The opening act was a Burlington singer/songwriter named Henry Jamison. He was wonderful. If you have not heard of him or his music, take a listen here. If you have the opportunity to see him near you, I would recommend it highly.

The main act was a Maine singer/songwriter called Lady Lamb. Another acoustic performance. While we were not all that familiar with her music beforehand, by the size of the crowd and the sold out show, Burlington was definitely familiar with her. A great performance. It was a very nice night of lots of great music, evidence that a gift of experiences trumps a gift of things.

It was also evidence of the small world we live in. Another couple asked to share our large half moon booth, to which we gladly agreed. Turns out, she was a Mill River graduate who was very familiar with our little corner of Vermont. The four of us had a great conversation waiting on the concert to start. It was a lovely evening on many fronts.

 

Kerplunk – To fall with a sound like that of a heavy object falling into water.

Wednesday was not a good day. Didn’t start off so terribly, I woke up and that’s a positive right there. No, the problems started when I put my phone in my back pant pocket in order to carry my basket of laundry downstairs first thing in the morning. Since I never put my phone in my back pocket, I forgot that it was there and went about my business. Until a short time later when I walked into the bathroom and heard that sound – kerplunk. As the definition states, it is sound of a heavy object falling into water — or in my case, the sound that your Iphone makes when it falls into the toilet and sinks immediately to the bottom of the toilet bowl. At first, the sound did not register, what could have fallen into the toilet? Then with horror I realized it was my phone. There was cussing and screaming and crying because you see, my phone is not up for a new phone until much later this year and a wet phone is not a good thing. Not at all.

I immediately grabbed the phone out of the toilet and now the flash was on and the phone wouldn’t shut off and …did I mention I was crying?… gave it to my husband who thought I must have been suffering some medical emergency when I came screaming and crying out of the bathroom. Into the bag of rice it went, I grabbed my computer and texted my eldest son, who deals with these sort of phone emergencies in his daily work. In compliance with his instructions out of the bag of rice it came. It was taken apart and the battery was disconnected so no further damage could occur. It was left open to dry for 4-6 hours as directed by the kid into whose mouth I put spoonful upon spoonful of rice cereal 21 years ago.

And we waited. And I also decided, after I ripped the molding off the door trying to bring the wood cart in with firewood later that morning, that I should refrain from doing anything further to endanger myself or those around me. So, I waited some more, not doing much of anything, except maybe still crying and chastising myself for being utterly stupid.

Hours later, with eldest son on call as the phone was reconnected, we learned it wasn’t completely dead, but sadly wounded. I then contacted his work, Wires Computing‘s website and opened a ticket for a repair since he was in Burlington and I was here and my phone desperately needed his expertise two hours away. With an interesting role reversal, he calmly assured me that he sees more of this type of thing than I knew and I was evidently one of the eleven or twelve other people (mostly women) who have their phones fall out of their pockets and into toilets on a weekly basis – and who also seek his help.

My phone was mailed the next day as directed, received the following day and repaired that same day by my dear, sweet, very talented son. It was shipped out to me this morning and if all goes well, I should have it by Monday.

While I am always proud of the boys, I am particularly proud of the guy who was able to save his mom (and her phone). He is going to school for engineering and graduating this May, but he works doing micro soldering (which is soldering done under a microscope on electronics) repairing phones, computers and other electronic devices that are mailed to them from all over the world not working, with water damage, with cracked screens, etc. If you are in need of this service, as I was, I would encourage you to check out their website. The service was quick, can be done from anywhere (in the world, evidently as he said he has phone from Europe, South America and the Middle East right now he is working on) and there is little hassle. You receive emailed updates of the status of your repair and an email when it is finished, your invoice is ready to be paid and your phone is on its way back to you. The final email was my particular favorite and I’m sure you can figure out why.  🙂

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We still haven’t figured out if that was just because it was my phone or whether that message accompanies every repair he does.

 

Evilwife on the move

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