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Thursday, February 26, 2009

What is going on at our McDonalds?

Yesterday, we were approached by a a panhandler as we drove into McDonalds in our town. We were just there for a quick snack wrap for my daughter and a man came right up to the window asking for 65 cents. "I need 65 cents to get the bus to Lindenwold, it's not for beer, man." he assured us. The man looked no better than the bums I had given change to for years in New York City. I didn't care if they used it for beer, I figure if one had to go around asking for change, they maybe needed a beer and who was I to judge?
It was scary with our kids in the car though, it is amazing how the things that never phased us when we were young and unencumbered, take on a whole different significance once we become parents. Every stranger is a potential freak and it is harder to be friendly when worrying that they might pull a gun or knife out of their pockets. We gave him the change, laughed at the way he asked for it, because he must have asked for change for beer enough times to figure that is what everyone would think. I mean here he was explaining himself to complete strangers, as if EVERYONE knew he was a boozer and wouldn't believe him. But the whole experience rattled us because we are not used to strangers coming up to our car windows.

This was not our only bad McDonalds experience, two weeks ago, a kid was riding a huge bicycle around and around the store, in and out of the traffic pattern that goes through the drive-thru and parking lot. The bike was way too big and the wider front tire wobbled. This 11 year-old was going so fast people were beeping at him as they were trying to back out of their spots. I got out of the truck and stood in front of him and told him that he was doing a very dangerous thing. I mean it was scary, so scary that I couldn't just tune it out and get on with my life. I felt that if I drove away and did nothing and that kid died, I was gonna rot in you know where. The kid looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him to stop. He just continued doing the same thing and he almost got crushed right in front of my eyes by another customer coming around the corner. I started yelling then and a worker came outside to see what was up. He told the boy to stop it and I asked where his parents were. The kid just stomped away and went inside and sat with bunch of teenagers> I suspect they were the owners of the tricked-out bike. He glared at me as our truck pulled around to the order window. I knew that little &^%$ was going to get right back on the bike when we left, so I asked for a manager and explained the situation and offered to call the police. They said they would handle it and we got our food and left.
My daughter said he was a trouble-maker in school and was always causing a disturbance. I argued that it didn't matter, he still needed protecting, since no one was doing it for him. That kid who hated me for saving his neck, was giving us tough chin-ups and go (*&^ yourself movements with his hands as we drove away.
I may have just done the world a serious disservice by keeping him from getting killed, but at least some innocent driver won't have to blame themselves for running over a child. We had a friend who ran over a little kid who rode his big wheel right out of the driveway into oncoming traffic. She was treated very harshly by some other people I know. I knew how torn up she was about it, but it was not her fault, sometimes accidents just happen.

That kid at McDonalds is wrong, his family is wrong for letting him be unsupervised, his big brother is wrong for loaning him a bike to ride around a busy parking lot, and I think I am going back to Wendy's for a while. Sorry McDonalds, love the fries, but it is too scary around there right now.


Same panhandler started panning for gold at our family business and we had to call in the authorities. I mean really, we have available jobs listed, ask for a job for goodness sakes...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pancetta Pasta

My daughter and I made this the other night for dinner. It is a an amalgam of two other recipes. Since she is building up her own recipe book of dishes she can herself make while at college ( in 4 years) she asked me to put it in a safe place. We decided that the next time we make it, we may use fresh Roma tomatoes from the garden to achieve a lighter, summery balance. SInce it is February, we didn't have that option, so canned was the plan.
She is so used to traditional family pasta dishes that we make over and over, so we are exploring other pasta options.
This is delicious

1/2 pound Panchetta cut into small thick strips
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans whole tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds linguine pasta, uncooked
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste

Cook Pancetta in a large saucepan over medium high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Leave drippings in the pan, cook until translucent. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and 1/2 the basil; cook 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes, undrained; simmer 15 minutes, breaking up tomatoes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of 4 quarts boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
Stir rest of basil into the sauce, and then toss with cooked pasta. Serve with grated cheese.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Free Speech Anyone?

Lawmaker Presses for Free Speech in Foul-Mouth Student's Blog Case
At what age should students receive their inalienable rights? Should first graders have the right to Free Assembly, should 8th graders? What IS the age of reason? It is no surprise that a bill of this magnitude originates in Massachusetts, after all it has been the nursery or playpen for freedom since America began, but I hope the lawmakers are cautious and think farther than our founding fathers did. Imagine students saying anything they want about teachers, principals and school board members. Imagine the ramifications on people's careers. If I recall, my own teenage perceptions had very little to do with reality. My take on adults then makes me look back and chuckle now. I thought everyone who pushed me to do better was out to get me. If I could have said anything I wanted and disseminated it to the internet at that time, I could have damaged people's lives with my inane chattering. After al I was SURE that my gym teacher was flirting with the young girl students, but if I went online on a SCHOOL COMPUTER and said what I really thought at the time, I could have ruined him without having any real knowledge or proof. I think if we are going to allow students to blog or myspace anything they want, they should have to deal with the consequences as adults do. Either teachers should be able to say anything they want about the students, or we should be able to file harassment or slander lawsuits against said students. As teachers we are charged to keep confidential their records, personal information, grades, and their discipline issues. Who will protect the adults that work with students? It should be each district's decision to decide how to deal with these issues. We have been ordered to teach curriculum that deals with cyberbullying, are we going to allow it from our youngest citizens? The best/nicest/most decent teachers, principals, and administrators cannot have perfect averages when it comes to students; we will always piss someone off eventually. Are we going to allow students to ruin their own online reputations by putting themselves at risk of lawsuits? There are a lot of good questions that need to be asked and answered before legislation is enacted.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Someday is Here

I am not getting old, I am not pregnant, I am not even planning on moving to a commune. I simply wanted to learn how to knit. It is one of those things I always wanted to learn and told myself I would do someday. Along with a prolonged trip to Europe, and a tour of the Hoover Dam, mastering those needles has always seemed so far away and unreachable. My new year's resolution for 2009 was to knit something, anything.

Someday is here. It has been a week and a half since I learned the most basic knitting stitch, I have made a scarf and two headbands for my daughter. They are not horrible and she is totally excited to wear them and has started to make suggestions and requests for certain design features. I am already a yarn snob. Halfway through the first project, I decided that the yarn I was using was not soft enough for my daughter's delicate skin. I was twittering asking everyone the best method for getting that cheap practice yarn soft. I was also looking on Etsy to see what kind of knitting projects everyone was selling. After looking in my local area, I found a lady of interest. I can't wait until next week's knitting meeting to hook up with her, she spins her own yarn from her angora bunnies. I have a friend who spins her own yarn and makes amazing felted projects, but she is away right now and according to her kids, may be on a semi-menopausal tear halfway across the country.

I am excited to create accessories for my daughter to wear, I do not think of blankets as possible projects. I think little short-term projects will satisfy my impatient nature best. I really cannot see myself sticking to one large project like that for months unless it is a quilt. That will be the next resolution... Maybe a mid-year resolution.

In case you were wondering how awful my first project was, here is a sample.
That was the first day I ever knitted.

Sad Sad Day

Yesterday I was faced with a moral dilemma. I had to snub an old friend in order to not want to beat myself up. It is all very well and nice to say forgive and forget, and to not judge anyone too harshly, but I cannot just sit and play all nice-nice and pretend that everything is okay either. I need time, lots of it, and plenty of space.

We were never extremely close, I never shared any secrets with her, we were just on normal friendly terms.
But in order to make herself feel better, she shared awful secrets with me. I told her I didn't want to know, she ignored me. After she unleashed her poisonous mess all over my kitchen table, I told her I never wanted to discuss that topic again. I told her to leave me out of it and that it wasn't appropriate for her to tell ME secrets she had not shared with her own husband. Unfortunately, she got herself in a big mess with another acquaintance of mine. Now I don't want to take sides or hear bad things about my friends. I don't want to believe that they could hurt each other in irrevocable ways. I have not talked to her since and don't plan to, even though I told her I would not judge her. I am no angel, but I am not going to go ask my friends for validation of my evil-doings. My messes are my own.

I thought it was presumptuous of her to want to sit next to me. I have not spoken to her since that day. I have bounced back email messages as if I had changed my email address instead of just blocking her. I have not called or contacted her in any way. Isn't that enough of a hint? I am not trying to teach her a lesson or point out her wrongdoing, It is not my place or my fight, but I can't just pretend that everything is okay either, and I cannot sit next to her and make idle chit-chat.

She already had a seat and so did I. When she got up and came down through the auditorium rows to sit next to me, I panicked. My heart started racing, I knew that I was going to be unable to be who I had always been with her. I was completely unprepared. As she approached, I cut off my conversation with another mom, grabbed my cell phone and acted like it had rung. As I ran past her I gave a brief wave as if to say that I had an urgent call. I raced up the aisle and out of the school. I never returned to that seat where she was sitting waiting for me. Instead I ran out into the arms of another friend that I was supposed to meet at the event. I feel awful about the snub, because my behavior was not anything to be proud of. It was very high-school and juvenile. My hands were shaking during the entire event, and I was willing her not to turn around and look for me. I kept my program up in front of my face.

I was embarrassed at myself for not telling her the truth. "I don't want to be around you right now, it is too hard, I cannot hurt someone else's feelings to spare yours. I never wanted to know your secret, I wish it was all a bad dream, I wish you would go away now and leave me alone." I wish you could leave the whole mess in peace."
I wish I could just email this and get it out of the way...

Where's my eyebrow?

We all get sick kids and those sleepless night where we bunk next to them to make sure they are still breathing all night long. I never let my kids sleep alone when they are sick, so that means I rarely sleep when they are not feeling well. I don't mind, I can never relax if they are not right next to me breathing toxic germs in my face. But when you combine two or three days of no sleep with a teenager who stole my tweezers yet again, bad things happen.

In order to go to work and feel like some sort of human, I allowed my husband to take over a day of sick duty with my son. Though I did not sleep, I got ready at the usual time and decided to do a little eyebrow work with tweezers. Guess what? They were gone again, my daughter must have commandeered them. So I reached for that little battery operated shaver thingy for eyebrows and mustaches. It works in a pinch. (Remember Virginia Drinne?) It has always been a friend to me, until yesterday, when I shaved off half my eyebrow trying to get one lousy hair. Apparently it is a little hair pig, it wants them all. I took off the back half of the eyebrow and now have to draw it in, Mommy dearest style.

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