Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ocean City, MD

During a business trip - which followed right on the heels of Uncle Shane being in Russia for two weeks - Aunt Ali found the time to send greetings to the girls.  Although it's the off-seasons right now, the beach town holds summertime allure of a raucous boardwalk, miniature golf, a ferris wheel and more.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Now is precisely the time

Here are the facts.  The facts too horrible to process, too sickening to see.  Someone killed 27 people yesterday, 20 of whom were between the ages of 6 and 7.  Six and seven.  First graders.  Six and seven fucking years old.  Babies.  First graders.

In China, there was also a school tragedy.  A man wielding a knife stabbed 23 people.  22 of them were children.  Horrific.  But they are all still alive.

There are two things that we need to talk about.  Not just on Facebook.  Not only on my blog (although I'd love to have some dialogue here, too).  But in America.

The first: guns.  Can we finally talk about it in public?  The fact that unfettered access to extended magazines, assault weapons, silencers, body armor... that this is not "a right"?  That when the second amendment to the constitution gave us the "right to bear arms," it was in the context of the rest of the second amendment - the responsibility of a well regulated militia - in the first place.  And in the second place, in compliance with the firearms regulations at the time - that some people were prohibited from owning guns, others were required to do so, and that the government would inspect all of the latter's annually, for example. 

You know that I don't want to make gun ownership illegal.  I'm not a bad shot myself.  But most gun violence is committed with weapons that (a) were legally obtained, and (b) were made with the sole purpose of killing people.  Defend your home, hunt, by all means.  But do you really need 100 rounds a minute to do either of those?

So can we talk about this now?  Because while Wednesday would have been better, today is better than tomorrow.  And it's sure as shit better than the day after the next mass shooting.  We can't remove evil from the streets, but we actually can make it less lethal.

And the second: mental illness.  It's real.  It's nothing to be ashamed about.  It should never be mixed with a Glock (see above).  And it can be treated.  And insurance should cover that treatment.  (Read: Obamacare, not so bad, right?)

I believe that mental illness is every bit as real as the physical.  I think that our society stigmatizes it, makes it seem embarrassing.  Which it is not.  But this is where we need to talk, to educate.  To ensure that the sick get treatment, that the healthy assist those who need help. 

Yeah, I've hugged my kids extra the last two days.  It makes me feel better.  But hugging my kids doesn't make our society better.  Opening the dialogue about both guns and mental health?  Well, that actually might.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

the missing

Like any math dork, I keep my holiday card list in an Excel spreadsheet.  I track the ones I add (or drop!) each year, in a separate column from the ones which I've completed.  And every year throws its complications right at me: new babies I've seen on Facebook that I know are named... well... um...

So you get it.  I have a list.

And each year, my list has a hole in it. 

This year, I will not write a letter to my Great Aunt Marion.  Who I love, and this void is physical.

But the reason I am writing instead of addressing letters... well, this has been a hole for years now.  Every year, I write my cards to friends that I shared with James.  And every year I cry because I still miss him. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pagosa Springs + Key West

While we were in Key West, Aunt Jessie had the chance to spend an extended weekend in Pagosa Springs, Colorado - a beautiful spot in the southwest part of the state - to unwind after the end of election season.  I haven't been myself, but based on her description of so much to do (snowboarding, hiking, golfing and the fabulous hot springs), you can bet it'll be on our short list!

The girls also got a postcard from Mommy and Daddy - the sunset looking more amazing than any I was able to capture myself.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The holiday walk

Among the other awesomely fun family things that the town of Evergreen does is the annual Holiday Walk.  On an early December night, the main drag is closed to traffic and the town descends.  We missed it last year, and after going on Friday we hope not to miss it again!  There were bands on multiple stages along the street (plus belly dancers - starring one of our friends!), reindeer to pet and Santa and Mrs. Claus.  Stores were open for shoppers, clydesdales pulled a trolly car and the Christmas lights lit up the town.  Fun, magical, friendly, festive.  What a great way to kick off the season!

Even the female reindeer have these funky antlers!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Back to Key West

We returned to Key West for another weekend get-away (without the kids) last weekend, and had another super fun time.  The weather was beautiful - sunny and warm - the drinks were cold and the food was delicious.  I managed to see a couple landmarks I'd never seen before: the beach (no joke - first time there), the Southernmost Point (a giant marker in the middle of a sidewalk - utterly skippable, except that for a moment I was the Southernmost person in the Continental U.S., which I suppose was something) and Mile Marker 0 (which I have clearly walked past before since it's between the Green Parrot and the post office).

We also tried a few new restaurants, at least one of which is worth adding to our roster: Santiago's Bodega - delicious tapas!  And, we found an alternative to Mallory Square to watch the sunset: the porch behind Louie's Backyard.  Great views, no crowd and cocktail in hand.  (It's also worth noting their dining room looked lovely and the menu sounded delicious.)
Sunset from Louie's Backyard

We did make the effort to go under the sea.  Our first dive was cancelled for conditions.  And the second, well... Joker enjoyed it.  Unfortunately my stuffed up nose made equalizing my ears impossible, and I had to abort the dive during the descent.  It was rather depressing, first time this has happened to me, but I guess there are worse ways to spend a morning than on a dive boat chatting with the captain in the sun.  If the seas hadn't been quite so nauseating, I'd go so far as to say it was quite pleasant. 

Pelican at the marina
Other than that... we walked, we sunned, we ate and we drank. It was a fantastic get-away, and we owe Mima and Boppie big-time for the opportunity!