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CALMLY RANDOM

TOOTH WARS

ELECTORAL COLLEGE HAS ROOTS IN SLAVERY

PERFECTION, THY NAME IS APPLEcropped-cropped-night-with-moon1.jpg

HOME SWEET KITCHEN

A CRANBERRY BOG IN EVERY POT

          STELLAR POINT
          DE-CLUTTERING
          NOSTALGIA
          THE SEARCH FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
          WRITER’S BLOCK
          DELIRIUM
          THE DIFFICULT SEASON
          I FIND THE WORLD A WONDER
          THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS
          BLOG NIGHT
          A WAITING GAME
          MORNING HAS BROKEN
          THE TRUST FACTOR
          ARE TEACHERS HUMAN?
          TAKE 2 ON MY VIRTUAL WORLD
          STATE OF THE BLOG ADDRESS

 

Tooth Wars

CALMLY RANDOM

The poppy seed bagel I just ate for breakfast (oh, is it noon already?) was taken from the freezer, microwaved to defrost, and slathered with cream cheese. Tell me why I hate frozen bagels. No, I’ll tell you. This could be considered diet food. The entire thing was so elastic that I looked like my old dog Ivy ripping away at a rubber bone. Grrr…….! Rfffffff….!! Grrrrrrrrrrr! Good dog! Good doggie!

Ivy  had better luck with her old bone than I did with my round chew toy with the hole in the middle that they market as a bagel. In my defense, a dog’s jaw is made of titanium. Whereas my two front teeth will never be the same. Now I’ll pretend to be one of those ‘glass half full’ types, and say: At least I got most of the cream cheese off.

Between this and the pineapple from the other day that turned my whole mouth fuzzy, I think I have my next book title. Tooth Wars: Attack of the Killer Pineapple, or, Chewing for the Fun of It.

 

 

Electoral College has roots in slavery

CALMLY RANDOM

Did you know the Electoral College has its roots in slavery? When crafting the Constitution, northern states wanted direct representation elections based on majority vote (white, adult male landowners). Southern states objected because they didn’t have as large a population as the North. Their slaves obviously couldn’t vote. Slaves were considered property, not people. The South could never win.

Thus they came up with the idea of a bicameral legislature. The Senate represents each state, rural or urban, with equal voting power (currently two senators for each state.) The House of Representatives gives larger populations more voting power through proportional representation. The two bodies together, Senate and House, make up our Congress.

The Electoral College was instituted to elect the President and Vice President. White, adult male landowners voted. But the Electoral College decided the vote. They created a patriarchy of educated men who would directly represent the results of the popular voting in an orderly fashion. This was thought necessary when it became law in 1780. Why? Because the voting regions were vast, most people had little or no education, and crime was mostly unchecked. The integrity of the popular vote could not be assured, nor could the judgment of the common man be relied upon. This was the thinking, which allowed Electoral College representatives to vote their conscience rather than directly representing their constituency. The 12th Amendment codified the Electoral College with the following deal:

A Bicameral legislature didn’t satisfy the South. Why? Because they still didn’t have the population to vote in their candidates. Now, if they counted their slaves as full people as the north wanted, they’d have the population but their federal tax load would be higher because their population was higher. But if slaves were counted strictly as property, there would be no voting advantage. They wouldn’t join the union without a deal. The North was so eager to complete the union that they agreed to count each slave as 3/5’s of a person. The South got a lower tax burden. And there was no change in the way slaves were considered property. And because there were half a million slaves in the South at the time, they ALSO got higher representation in the House and a greater number of Electoral College representatives.

Southern candidates thus had the advantage of additional representation in the Electoral College based on their “larger” population. The pro-slavery compromise resulted in the slave-owning South winning 32 of the first 36 years of the new presidency.

So if someone tells you that the Electoral College helps prevent the majority from tyrannizing the minority and that was its original intent, you can tell them that they’ve whitewashed history; that our country was built on the backs of slaves.

 

Perfection, thy name is Apple

CALMLY RANDOM

apples

 

I’ve decided that an apple is the perfect food. Why, you might ask?

1. It’s round, and I identify with that.
2. It’s sweet, and no matter how much we’re told that sugar is evil, we all like it and it makes our lives happier.
3. It’s crunchy: my teeth, gums, jaws, and esophagus are all getting a great workout, which I count as my exercise for the day.
4. There is a star in the middle if you cut it in the right way, no doubt the universe confirming what I already know about myself, dahling.
5. Everyone has a favorite apple. A totally scientific study I just conducted did not come up with even one negative answer stating s/he doesn’t have a favorite because s/he hates them all. Given it’s the internet, I was expecting just such an answer (you $@&””ing !!/@! you must be working for the apple lobby!!!!) Nothing even close to that was stated. Honest.
6. You can take an apple with you when the mobs start chasing you down with torches and pitch forks. Totally mobile and easy to cling to.
7. I like the color red.
8. Teachers like them, and who doesn’t like teachers?

That might be it. Signing out. Crunch. Swallow. 🍎

 

 

Home Sweet Kitchen

CALMLY RANDOM

My fiancée and I recently bought a coastal farmhouse built in 1901. The house is spacious with high ceilings, hardwood floors, and elegant woodwork. The property was love at first sight for both of us.

But I hated the kitchen! Cramped and crowded into one small portion of a large space, the kitchen had dark brown cherry cabinets on one side and mismatched glossy white utilitarian cabinets on the mud room side. It was a visual disaster. To make things worse, a kitchen peninsula was set diagonally into the room at a height that was substantially lower than standard. The peninsula blocked light from the beautiful windows over the sink. It cut the room into sections, visually and literally. There was nothing in the kitchen that honored the 1901 house. It was as though a 1990s oddly placed but upscale suburban kitchen had come for a very long visit.

I asked my friends and sisters for advice on how to fix this disaster. Most said to live with it the way it was. Several thought the dark cabinets looked good enough. Everyone said I was being too picky. Of course I didn’t listen to them. What else is new? I have a strong sense of style and knew I had to fix the problem or I’d never enjoy my kitchen. So I asked my son the architect for advice. His pay for services rendered was a pizza dinner.

He immediately suggested that the diagonal sun-blocking peninsula had to go. We agreed, but I needed the cabinet space that it provided. He recommended an alternative: take the peninsula out, and build a new, straight, standard height peninsula at the corner where the kitchen door leads to the dining room. He felt this would open up and extend the kitchen into unused space. Furthermore, by painting the entire room the same color, the kitchen would appear more integrated with the mud room side. He also suggested we install a small sink preparation unit into the peninsula.

It was a lot to think about. I realized we had been thinking of the kitchen as it was already defined; that is, crowded into one small part of the overall space. His idea to extend the kitchen visually by utilizing empty space was the inspiration for the eventual design. I didn’t use his specific idea for a peninsula. But the concept of opening up the space was freeing to me. It inspired us to build an island that fit perfectly into the extended space. We even used the same granite countertop and cabinets from the existing peninsula to craft the new island! We painted the entire room the same color, built new closet doors and painted every door and cabinet frame the same color, and installed all new hinges and door pulls. The result is a gorgeous kitchen that looks like it belongs in our beautiful house.

I’m proud that my son’s instinct and design skills helped us get the kitchen that I happily spend time in every day. If you’re looking for an architect to help you achieve the home of your dreams, email me on the ABOUT page, and I’ll pass your request on to him. I imagine, though, his fee will be a bit more than a pizza dinner!

old-kitchen-pic2

BEFORE: Old dark, congested kitchen

new-kitchen-pic

AFTER: New kitchen is open and light-filled

new-kitchen-pic2

AFTER: New kitchen with island

 

A Cranberry Bog in Every Pot

CALMLY RANDOM

cranberry-bog

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Liberté, égalité, fraternité. A room of one’s own. What is it that makes a woman feel complete, that her life is worthwhile? Is it a full belly, true friendship? Love? Hope? Maybe it’s freedom. Maybe respect. In 1851, freed slave and anti-slavery speaker Sojourner Truth said, “Look at me. Look at my arm! I have plowed and planted and gathered into barns and no man could head me. . . And ain’t I a woman?”

Imagine having to justify your very existence as Truth was compelled to do. Imagine living a life devoid of respect, lacking in trust. Imagine fighting for the most basic of rights – the right to be black, to be a woman, to vote, to be free.

In comparison, my life is a ball. It’s a fairy tale, an amazing dream existence. I know it. Lately I’ve been thinking of buying an organic cranberry farm. I could work the fields, build wind turbines for power. I could make cranberry wine and chocolate covered cranberries. I could live by the shore in the beautiful sandy flatlands of southeastern Massachusetts. I could plow and plant, or hire someone to do it for me. I could gather my harvest, a bounty of ripe, crimson berries. Berries with roots that dig deep into the Native American soil. Berries that clung to the soul of this land for eons before those old Pilgrims ever stepped onto our windy beaches.

In pursuit of happiness, will I be happy? Would I be more content with a full belly, with a simple chicken in my pot instead of a cranberry bog? Would fraternité please me more than the lonely bogs under the stars at night? My cranberry bog might be my room, the one place where I feel free to write and create and be who I need to be. One thing I know – égalité is something I won’t give up on. Even now, even 160 years after Sojourner Truth cried out with such humility and common sense for justice, the world tries to hold women back. There are those who say we should be content with the privileges we have. There are many who rail against women who use their voices for change. There are some of both genders who show contempt for the female sex. Why? What’s wrong with being a woman? Ain’t I a woman? Are you saying there is something wrong with me?

So we know that Truth’s work is not done. Every woman has the right to find what makes her happy, where her freedoms lie, what constitutes her liberty. A reason for living, each one deciding for herself what that reason may be. A pot for every woman. And the cranberry bog of her choice in every pot.

Stellar Point

CALMLY RANDOM

Have you ever wished for something that seems impossible to attain? Ever wanted something so badly it becomes an obsession? Put yourself on the line, made a fool of yourself, only to be shot down again and again? Have you raised your eyes to the starry night and made an if-only pact with the heavens?

If only they like me…
If only my job goes well…
If only my other job goes well…
If only I could lose a few more pounds…
If only the house sells quickly…
If only my kids are happy…
If only I could find a perfect new home…
If only I were rich…
If only I could get my book published…

If only, then what? What is it that I’m willing to trade to reach my dreams? I feel at times desperate for forward motion. Life can be a giant circle, a continuum of sameness. Treading water, never gaining, never changing. Many people, perhaps most, like that sameness. There is comfort in routine, in knowing exactly what’s coming next. Routine means security, safety in the performance. One has an almost perfect sense of the future. Turkey and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Gifts and decorations at Christmas. Candle-lit menorahs for Channukah. My son said to me yesterday, “Is it eggnog time of year yet?”

As comforting as all this predictable turning of the wheel is to most, I yearn for something different. I want independence. I want freedom. I do not want sameness. I want to take a risk, a chance. I’m not a crazy, jump off buildings kind of risk taker. It’s more that I want to experience the new. I want to find the kernel of truth in the making, that wonderful new idea, that stellar point. Yes, that stellar point, that sparkling tease high in the sky, beckoning me. Making me reach, making me work for the challenge. Fixing my mind on an impossible task, finding what makes me happy.

Yet there is nothing free in the universe. If only I could find happiness, would I stop dreaming? Would I stop reaching? Would finding what makes me happy actually make me happy? Or is it the if-only search of the heavens, that continuing quest, that obsession with the discovery, that desire for the future instead of the now, that will keep me alive and feeling? That wonder, that wish upon a distant and shining star? If only I knew.