The Mind Wobbles

So many things to absorb, think about, deal with and put up with - it simply makes the mind wobble...

Monday, October 30, 2006

An afternoon of card playing

For a while now my long-time friend Millie had been wanting a group of us to go to her house to "play cards". Well, Sunday three of us finally went to play while our husbands watched football on Millie's husband's big-screen, high def, super cool TV. When we arrived, Millie's mother and two aunts were also there and we agreed to play "Continental" .

I had never played the game, but my mother used to in Cuba at "el club" a.k.a. the country club. So we started playing this incredibly complicated (at least to me) game with a million cards per hand - there were so many cards in fact that I needed a card holder to hold and sort them all. We were having a great time, laughing and sipping wine. At one point "the men" went out and grilled some hot dogs and bratwurst while we played - I found it wonderfully retro - the women playing cards and the men watching football and BBQing. All we were missing were the hi-balls!

At some point Millie's daughters got home from a party - she has a set of triplets who are 14 years old and beautiful and smart and funny and fabulous. At first they were studying or something, but then one of them joined us in the game, taking over for her great-aunt. All of a sudden we had three generations of women playing and laughing together.

It didn't hit me till much later, but I realized what a joy it was and how lucky we were to have that opportunity - and even more, how lucky those girls are. Of course at 14 they don't appreciate it, they can't be expected to. But it made me think back to when my grandmother, my mother and her friends and I would do stuff together. Be it going shopping, having ginormous get togerthers on the beach, helping them in the kitchen on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, playing long-forgotten card games. The memories make me happy and remind me of a time when I enjoyed unconditional love from some pretty amazing women.

I hope Millie's daughters remember days like today and feel that same happiness and unconditional love. Everyone deserves to be able to look back and feel that.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ice Wine, "Cranium" and the morning after

In case you are ever invited - on a weeknight - to a rousing game of "Cranium" with your girlfriends and one of them brings "Ice Wine", by all means partake in the hilarity and deliciousness...just plan to sleep in to, oh say, noon the next day.

Trust me on this. No really, I mean it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

One small step - Way To Go New Jersey!

"TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) --

New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples."

Here's the whole scoop: "CNN – New Jersey Court Recognizes Right to Same Sex Union" .

Single Sex Public Schools

I saw in this morning's "Good Morning America" that more and more public school districts throughout the country are exercising the option to open single-sex public schools. While the results are mixed, there is a belief that this usually helps girls, particularly in high school. The idea being they aren't distracted by boys, they don't try to "dumb themselves down" to make boys feel good, etc.

Before I post the ABC News article, I will say that I graduated from a Catholic all-girl school and wouldn't have traded it for the world - I firmly believe the experience made me a stronger woman and the camaraderie we shared was very special.

If I had a daughter I would prefer she go to an all-girl school.

What do you think?

Here's the article (bolding and italicizing mine):

Public Schools Attempt Same-Sex Education

NOW Says Dividing Boys and Girls Is a Bad Idea

Oct. 25, 2006 — - For the first time in a generation, public schools have won broad freedom to teach boys and girls separately, stirring a new debate about equality in the classroom. The Education Department announced rules that would make it easier to create single-sex classes or schools, a plan that's been expected for almost three years. The move comes as the value of same-sex education is in doubt.

Research shows mixed results, as even the department's own review says. Yet Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said more parents deserved to have the option. About 240 public schools offer same-sex education in the United States, up from just three in 1995, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education.

At one inner-city public high school in Chicago, girls raise their hands high in science lab and there are no boys. "You don't have to worry about dumbing yourself down as some people say," said sophomore Jasmine Perry. "Girls do so they won't intimidate guys especially in math and science."

It's a luxury that has been traditionally reserved for daughters of the upper class. "Wealthy children across this country have had these options forever. Poor children haven't," said Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools. "We're trying to dramatically change that." The Chicago Schools chief plans to open 20 more all-girls and -boys schools. It's an attempt to help fix the city's ailing public school system where graduation rates have hovered around 68 percent.

In the past, anti-discrimination laws have made it all but impossible for public school districts to offer single-sex classes. Now, federal regulations have eased and school districts around the country are looking at this model as a way to improve education.

Many organizations are against the idea. "Dividing men from women and boys from girls when they will spend their lives living and working together is a terrible idea for public education," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.

But educators at one Chicago girls school say that is not what they're seeing. Last year every single senior graduated.

Copyright © 2006 ABC
News Internet Ventures

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Browsing and Borrowing

In browsing through several blogs today I came across a couple of interesting items I'll share with you...

First on the blog Punctuation Fetish, I found this article. How cool is that? As Shane (the "Punctuation Fetishist") asks, when can our country do this? Hell, when can we get a city to do this?

Then at another blog Observations of a Librarian, I found one of those random either/or questionnaires I love so much - apparently in the blog universe they're called "memes" (Who says you don't learn something here in The Mind Wobbles?).

Anyway, here it is - with my answers:

Target or Kmart? Target

Beef burger or chicken burger? Beef

Faux or Fur? Neither really, but if I must pick – faux of course

Out of a can or out of a bottle? Bottle

Hotel or tent? “Tent”? Me?
Preferably with cable and room service.

Coles or BiLo? This must be regional to somewhere, I’ve never heard of either

Pasta or Pizza? Both really – but today I’ll pick pizza

Thongs or sandals? Sandals

Backyard pool or beach? Pool

Souvenirs or photos? Souvenirs

BBQ or food court? Food court

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Organized tour or do it yourself?
Do it myself

Home cooked or home delivered? Delivered…even better, eating out!

Coffee or tea? Coffee

The strength of an ox or the strength of a mule?
If we’re talking about me, I’d say mule – because of the added stubborness factor

Love or lust? Love

Thought or action? Thought

Friday, October 20, 2006

Mark Foley and the Upcoming Elections

Like Paris Hilton and humidity the Mark Foley story has not gone away regardless of how much I try to ignore it. But what's happening now is that the Republican party is peddling the story that they may lose in the upcoming mid-term elections because of him.


Look, as a hard-core Democrat I want Republicans to lose seats in Congress, no question - but don't blame it on Foley. That's not a good reason for the Republicans to lose seats - they should lose seats based on the debacle in Iraq, the increased terrorist threat, our ever-diminishing diplomatic power, the lack of adequate health care, increased prescription prices, increased governmental corruption, ever-increasing infringements on personal freedoms, and a plethora of other important issues.

Having said that, does my being amused by the following make me a bad person?:

"WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 — Tax-cutters are calling evangelicals bullies. Christian conservatives say Republicans in Congress have let them down. Hawks say President Bush is bungling the war in Iraq. And many conservatives blame Representative Mark Foley’s sexual messages to teenage pages.

With polls showing Republican control of Congress in jeopardy, conservative leaders are pointing fingers at one other in an increasingly testy circle of blame for potential Republican losses this fall. "
Here's the whole story: NYT - Republican Woes Lead to Feuding by Conservatives

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More "Mrs. Dalloway"

Yes, I'm obsessing a little bit, but hey - humor me!

As I've discussed here before, this is not an "easy read" for me, but today I came across what I thought was a phenomenally powerful passage describing what I can only interpret as an orgasm. Here it is:

"Only for a moment; but it was enough. It was a sudden revelation, a tinge like a blush which one tried to check and then, as it spread, one yielded to its expansion, and rushed to the farthest verge and there quivered and felt the world come closer, swollen with some astonishing significance, some pressure of rapture, which split the skin and gushed and poured with an extraordinary alleviation over cracks and sores! Then for that moment, she had seen an illumination; a match burning in a crocus; an inner meaning almost expressed. But the close withdrew; the hard softened. It was over - the moment."

I think I need a cigarette, and I don't even smoke!


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wanna see my Christmas Wish List?

OK! Here it is, in order of desire - this is, of course, a work in progress:

Hilda’s Christmas Wish List 2006 (as of 11/17/2006)
  • i-Pod
  • i-Tunes gift cards
  • Gold hoop earrings (2” diameter)
  • BBC’s version of “Pride and Prejudice” 3-DVD set – UPC # 733961753684
  • Peanuts Holiday Collection: (A Charlie Brown Christmas/A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving/It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown) 3-DVD set
  • "The DaVinci Code" Special Edition Gift Set ( DVD set)
  • “Have a Nice Decade: The '70s Pop Culture Box” – CD set
  • Gift Certificate
  • gift certificate
  • Barnes and Noble Gift Certificate
  • GE 7-2887 Superadio III Portable AM/FM Radio (for the office)
  • Perfume (Red Door, Carolina Herrera, Tressor
  • Beanbag Chair
  • Brookstone Tranquil Moments Plus Sound Machine
  • “Lost” – The Complete First Season (DVD Set)
  • Pee Wee’s Playhouse #1 - Seasons 1 & 2 (DVD Set)
  • Pee Wee’s Playhouse #2 - Seasons 1 & 2 (DVD Set)
  • “The West Wing” – The Complete Second Season (DVD Set)
  • “Sex and the City” – The Complete Second Season (DVD Set)
  • “The Manchurian Candidate” – Special Edition DVD (1962)
  • Corinne Bailey Rae – CD
  • Starbucks Gift Card
  • Candles
  • Incense
  • Frames

I'm sorry - I think this is ridiculous!

From today's CNN:

School bans tag, other chase games

POSTED: 10:52 a.m. EDT, October 18, 2006

ATTLEBORO, Massachusetts (AP) -- Tag, you're out!
Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.

Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe, who approved the ban.

While there is no districtwide ban on contact sports during recess, local rules have been cropping up. Several school administrators around Attleboro, a city of about 45,000 residents, took aim at dodgeball a few years ago, saying it was exclusionary and dangerous. (Watch how second-grader Kelsey interpreted the rule -- 1:30)

Elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Spokane, Washington, also recently banned tag during recess. A suburban Charleston, South Carolina, school outlawed all unsupervised contact sports.

"I think that it's unfortunate that kids' lives are micromanaged and there are social skills they'll never develop on their own," said Debbie Laferriere, who has two children at Willett, about 40 miles south of Boston. "Playing tag is just part of being a kid."

Another Willett parent, Celeste D'Elia, said her son feels safer because of the rule. "I've witnessed enough near collisions," she said.

(Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.)

OK, anyone who knows me knows that I am the anti-outdoor-activity queen. But even for me, playing "freeze-tag" during recess remains among my happiest childhood memories. Yes sometimes we would fall down, and then we got back up - if we were bleeding the lady in the school office would clean it off and put a band-aid on it. Nobody sued anyone!

What the hell is wrong with people?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Virginia, Clarissa and Me

If you look in the What I'm Doing section of my blog page, under the What I'm Reading section you'll see Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway".

I've read Woolf before:
"To the Lighthouse" , which I read quickly and enjoyed and "Orlando: A Biography" which I didn't enjoy. Mrs. Dalloway, although I'm enjoying the story, is proving a challenge to read. I don't know if I'm not focused enough, but I'm having a tough time not losing track of the story and find myself having to reread sections.

Since I left the book club of which I was a member for 10 years, I've started using the 50 page rule - where if I don't like the book after 50 pages, I stop reading it. However, I can't say I don't like the book, in large part because it reminds me so much of Michael Cunningham's
"The Hours" which is evocative of and inspired by "Mrs. Dalloway". I find myself matching up the characters in the "Mrs. Dalloway" chapter of "The Hours" with the characters in the real "Mrs. Dalloway" - I think I've got them all.

I'm going to keep reading...hopefully I will eventually set sail in Virginia's stream-of-consciousness and bask in Clarissa's musings.

Have you read "Mrs. Dalloway"? Was it an easy read for you? Have you ever read a particularly challenging book which you wound up enjoying?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Heart Stopped

It was around 3 p.m. and I was engrossed in my work - so much so that I ignored the e-mail notification that a CNN Breaking News message had arrived. Then I heard someone in the office say, quite loudly: "What? A plane crashed into a building in New York?"

I froze. Everyone heard it and for a beat, no one spoke.

It all came rushing back - those feelings from 9/11. Queasy, cold, vertigo...

Then I checked the CNN message, followed the link, and eventually it seemed clear that it had been a horrible accident, not what we all feared.

As more news was revealed later in the day it turned out to be Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor who crashed into an aprtment building. The feelings changed to sadness at the loss of a young man who left behind a wife and son while pursuing his passion for flying, and also quiet relief that there weren't more deaths.

As I pray for the families of those who died, and for the quick healing of those who were injured - I also say a prayer of thanks that our national nightmare wasn't repeated.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I bought a David Cassidy album - I'm talking *vinyl*

...yes, vinyl! The same album I had back in the 70s!

OK, stop laughing at me - I love David Cassidy!

So, during our vacation we decided to drive around Orlando and we found an antique area with really nice little stores. One of the stores was a record shop where they sold *actual records*, both 45s and "long playing albums".

I tried to be responsible. I saw the album and saw that it was $15. Since I have a rule to not spend more than $10 on any one item when I'm *antiquing*, I sighed to myself and put the album back.

When I got back to the car - my husband doesn't partake in my antiquing adventures unless it's a major flea market or antique fair or something that will take hours - I showed my husband what I had purchased, and told him about the album. Then, because he is the most wonderful man in the world, he gave me a $20 bill and *insisted* that I go back and get it! YAY!

I remember *all* the words!

Monday, October 9, 2006

Book Review - "The Mermaid Chair" by Sue Monk Kidd

I was disappointed by this book. While I enjoyed Monk Kidd's writing - as usual - this story didn't work for me. Specifically I found her relationship with Whit (Brother Thomas) unnecessary. Not only did it not help the narrative, IMO, it lessened the story and the characters.

I think the story would have been better if Monk Kidd had instead focused on the other aspects of the novel - Jessie's midlife discontent, her father's death, her mother's condition and her relationship with her mother, her relationships with her husband and daughter, the relationships of the other island women, more information on the Gullah culture, etc.

There is no comparison to "The Secret Life of Bees" which I found magical and more compelling. Also Sue Monk Kidd's non-fiction "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" was, IMO, fantastic - and had a resounding impact on me.

I would recommend other Sue Monk Kidd books before I would recommend "The Mermaind Chair".


Vacation is Over

Reality has begun to creep back into my life. I go back to work Tuesday. Actually, I hadn't realized I had Monday off.

See, back when I requested the vacation days at work we were planning this vacation to be to Madison, Wisconsin so that on Saturday, October 7 we could attend the
Drum Corps International World Championship - this is one of my husband's hobbies. We were going to fly in and out of Chicago, so Sunday the 8th we had planned to drive from Madison to Chicago and then fly out today. Our plans changed several times since then, but I never changed the dates back - so the week before I left on vacation I accidentally discovered I was off today - YAY!

Anyway - we had a wonderful time in Orlando. We were horrible "Disney tourists" though. We wound up only going to 2 of the 4 parks, but we rested, relaxed, had wonderful meals, explored around the Orlando area, laughed and were just happy together - so to me it was the perfect vacation! I finished three books: Judy Blume's
"Forever" and "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret"as well as Sue Monk Kidd's "The Mermaid Chair" (see my review of this book in a separate blog entry).

Oh well...if vacations never ended we wouldn't appreciate them as much.

Monday, October 2, 2006

They Kept the Girls

This afternoon when we returned to the hotel room after spending a wonderful day at the MGM park here at Disney World, I logged on to check my e-mail and saw a CNN Breaking News message telling me that a man broke into an Amish school in Lancaster, PA and killed three little girls between the ages of 6 and 13 and then did us the favor of killing himself. When I looked further into the story and watched the handsome police chief tell us what happened I learned the man had let the boys go and only kept the girls.

Wait! Didn't the same thing happen last week in Colorado - where a man went into a high school and let the boys out but kept only girls which he apparently assaulted sexually and then killed one before, again, doing us the favor of killing himself?

What the hell?

Setting aside the horror of the fact that children aren't safe in school anymore - what's the deal with focusing on the girls - in today's case, as young as 6 years old?

I was stunned when I heard today's news - you'd think I'd be used to this by now. In a way I'm thankful I'm not - I don't want to be numb to these aberrations, I want to be outraged. I want everyone to be outraged. When I saw the Colorado Sheriff crying last week as he told us that a young girl had been killed and when the Police Chief today was visibly shaken during his comments to the press - it helped me maintain hope that we are not desensitized to these outrages.

Here in Disney World I am surrounded by children, happy and safe with their parents or other caregivers. That's the way it's supposed to be - children are supposed to be happy and safe - not at the mercy of people who because of real or imagined problems in their life walk into a building and threaten, assault or kill other people's children.

It's just wrong.

And the fact that today's victims are part of the Amish community just makes it more surreal. These are people who have made a conscious choice to live separately in their faith, to keep their children apart in separate schools, partly to keep them safe. While one may not agree with their choices or lifestyle, they are philosophically opposed to violence of any kind under any circumstance - can you imagine what they are feeling right now?

My prayers are with the families...of both the victims and the's killer left behind three children. What must be going through their minds right now?

Sunday, October 1, 2006

I'm on Vacation!

I'm in the happiest place on earth - no, not locked in a Godiva chocolate store - I'm at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Even though we live about 4 hours away, we haven't been here in over 10 years. I wanted to see what was new from the inide, so we're staying at an actual Disney resort. It called Port Orleans Riverfront, and so far it's great.

Today we drove from Miami and when we got to the resort we just crashed - we orderd delivery pizza so we wouldn't have to go out.

I'll let you know as it progresses...:)