Adventures in housecleaning.

Shopping basket with detergent bottles isolated on white

Confession: my own cleaning supplies are not this attractive and neatly arranged.

I am, by default, the main cleaner in our household.

The Husband doesn’t notice dirt OR clutter. When The Boy is home, he has the same blind eye (though, oddly, I’ve noticed he keeps his dorm bedroom and bathroom spotless. Hmmmm…) Middle regularly assists with everyday kitchen cleanup, but she’s so preoccupied by her first year of teaching that a clean, tidy environment isn’t at the top of her list.

I, on the other hand, am pathologically averse to clutter and go around tidying and putting things away every moment I’m home. Historically the actual cleaning bit has never been as important to me – until November 9, when our nation became so filthy and disgusting that I became compulsive about keeping my own, safe nest immaculate. Not joking.

So…today as I worked through my Saturday task list, I came across a couple of fascinating (?) details:


It’s a complete mystery to me how “low” can be a lower setting than “bare,” which means, presumably, “bare floor.” Is this a setting for vacuuming in a trench? Who’s doing that?

No photo for this one, and you’ll thank me:

I’d like to hand it to whatever male in our household is capable of creating pee stains clear away from the toilet, next to the baseboard. And by “it” I mean a package of antibacterial surface wipes.

Thank goodness I’m done with my compulsive cleaning for the day.


Pink, pussies, and passion. 

I’ve never been a pink kind of person. You won’t find anything even remotely pink-ish in my wardrobe.

Until this week.

My favorite cozy winter activity is knitting. As of last weekend, that hobby has intersected with a passion. 

Yes, I’m knitting pussy hats.

I know there are some strong feelings surrounding this unusual item of headgear. 

I’ve heard concerns from transgender friends who are uncomfortable with the emphasis on female body parts as a symbol of the current feminist resistance movement.  I can understand their feelings. 

I’ve read ultra-conservative anti-woman women calling the hat (and its name) vulgar, vile, and disgusting. 

Here’s my take: The POTUS Who Must Not Be Named has publicly, over a long period of time, objectified women and their body parts. We’ve all seen the videotape in which he bragged that he likes to “grab ’em by the pussy.” His words and actions are absolutely indicitive of the direction women’s rights (as well as rights of minorities) are taking and will continue to take now that he and his gang are in office.

THAT, my friends, is what is vulgar, vile, and disgusting. Those are adjectives that perfectly describe the POTUS WMHBN. 

I am making and wearing a pussy hat to claim the word back. To declare just as publicly that women have control over their own body parts, and that those parts are OFF LIMITS to lecherous men. There are few women who don’t have a story they can relate about being touched, grabbed, and groped against their will. I remember the kid in junior high whose favorite pastime was to do exactly what the POTUS WMNBN bragged about – sneaking up on unsuspecting females, including myself, and reaching between their legs for a squeeze. 

And I say NO MORE. We will not tolerate sexual assault and the ugly male privilege it stems from, and we must fight against its proponent-in-chief.

So far I have eight orders for pussy hats from friends, family, and coworkers (side note: I work for a mainstream denomination church) who support the resistance movement. I’m happy to buy the yarn (though pink yarn is very difficult to find recently!) and do the work. All I ask is that the recipient make a donation, of whatever amount they wish, to Planned Parenthood. 

Check out Pussyhat Project

Join the resistance.

Yes, we marched. And we’re proud of it.

I was one of millions of women around the world who rallied and marched on Saturday, January 21. Three generations of our family were represented, and our little group was joined by a long-time friend who ROARED right along with us.

Our experience, marching at our state capitol building (a notorious site, long controlled by white, privileged, male tea party-ers), was unequivocally positive and affirming.

Speakers representing many oppressed groups spoke repeatedly of the importance of all of us uniting in support of each other. The transgender speaker stood up for the disabled. The disabled speaker cheered on our Black friends. The Unitarian Universalist clergy woman included the Christians, Muslims, Athiests, Agnostics, Jews, Native Americans, and Pagans in her call for advocacy. The Native American speaker honored our collective commitment to Mother Earth.

And the many men in the crowd, representing all ages and generations, shouted right along with us.

Our son came up for this march with a couple of his friends from the Young Democrats Club at their university.

It was a day of beauty, love, support, and unity. A day to energize ourselves into resistance and action against the discrimination and oppression that is already, six days into the new administration, showing up loud and clear.

And almost immediately we began hearing the backlash. 

Women who mocked the marchers because they, themselves, had never been discriminated against (lucky them) and didn’t need anyone’s “pity” or any “special treatment.”

Men who characterized the marchers as shrill whiners.

People who dismissed the march as simply being political and anti-Trump.

I’m here to tell you, as someone who was actually there and whose life was changed by the event, that the critics have it 100% wrong.

Keep marching, my sisters. Keep shouting. Keep acting out for the sake of others. Keep resisting.

This world needs you.

Middle proudly carried this sign she’d made in support of her best friend.


Image credit: National Public Radio. Credit for defacing it so that the incoming evil monster resembles a pile of poo: All me.

It’s the day we’ve been praying would never come. 

When I saw the above photo in a report about the pre-inauguration concert (before I improved it through the magic of photo apps), I was physically sickened – just as I am every time I’ve heard a news report referring to “President-Elect XXX.” 

I’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial a couple of times. My memories of being there with the people in my life who are most important to me are indescribably precious. We stood in awe, reading the earth-shaking words carved on either side. We soaked in the imposing beauty in the depiction of our greatest president. We went down a few steps and wept as we approached the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his momentous speech. These were moments of reverence, of wiping away tears of thanksgiving for people like Lincoln and Dr. King in our nation’s history.

The sight of this almost-a-president who will NEVER be a true president, mugging for the camera, is a profanity. It’s as ugly as if thugs had defaced the monument with spray painted four-letter words.

It’s nothing to do with politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about this person’s inability to take any interest whatsoever in anything outside himself. It’s about someone who is, quite objectively, evil. Someone who will destroy the office of the POTUS. No matter what he might do – or not do – in office, he is our national disgrace. Our collective embarrassment. 

He is where he is because our citizens are, as it turns out, one of two things: ignorant (willfully or through poor education) or Machiavellian. There’s no hiding that almost half the voting population of the U.S. asked for this travesty.

And we are left in mourning, with tears of horror.

Shame on you!

Now this? This is something to be proud of. Photo taken in 1917.

As if we didn’t have enough evidence that the world has gone completely mad, the big news is that…

The national organization of Girl Scouts of America is sponsoring the participation of Scouts in the inaugural parade on Friday.

Let that sink in for just a moment.

The organization that has long promised that its goal is to “Help Girls Grow Strong” is encouraging girls to participate in an event for a person who has repeatedly, over time, denigrated women. A person who has been captured ON VIDEO bragging about committing sexual assault. A person who is known to deliberately walk in on half-dressed teens in dressing rooms for his beauty pageants (vile concept, in itself).

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a long and extremely negative history with GSA. I’ve had very little respect for the organization for the last 20 years. But one thing I did always believe is that they believe in helping girls to become strong and assertive.

No more. I won’t even give them that much.

The official story of the GSA is as follows:

I call bullshit.

“Peaceful transition of power” is a phrase that’s getting bandied about quite a bit lately. And it’s absolutely a vital concept for democracy. But here’s what peaceful transition looks like: A sitting president cooperating fully with his successor, even when they have absolutely nothing in common. A political rival gracefully conceding defeat. Congress members who don’t create a pact on day one NEVER to cooperate with the incoming president. Peaceful protests, rather than riots.

You know what is NOT a part of peaceful transition? A celebratory parade. Especially a parade celebrating a person who is, objectively, completely devoid of morals.

And there are many ways young women can practice civic engagement and serving their country, without showing public support for someone who would gladly grab their pu%*ies.

Shame on you, Girl Scouts.

Fashion tip.

So I’ve made my first foray into the fashion world of jeggings.

For the record: A) mine do not look this good on me (Is it possible they’re not intended for middle-age moms?), B) I do like how they look with certain outfits, and C) I wouldn’t be caught dead in those heels. Actually, if I wore those heels I would end up dead. 

Things I learned about jeggings upon wearing them for the first time today:

  • Pro tip: After going to the bathroom, pull up the underwear and the jeggings SEPARATELY. Trying to do them together turns into a torture chamber nightmare and will keep you in the bathroom so long someone will send 9-1-1- in after you.
  • They serve the same **ahem** function as Spanx, but are way more comfortable, except…
  • Do not wear them on a super long day at the office. They’re fine when you’re standing up, but sitting in them for more than a couple of hours will cause your body to be painfully and ruthlessly sliced into two halves, right at the waist.
  • Peeling them off like a banana skin and then having to turn them back right-side-out is not exactly a fun activity when all you want to do is fall into bed at the end of a long day.

Hope you’ve found something useful in this little tutorial. Thank you, and good-night. 

Reichenbach Fall.

I think…maybe…hopefully…I turned a corner yesterday. 

Through the power of blogging and the power of supportive friends and family, I believe I’ve found the resolve to begin to change my career circumstances. It’s the first time I’ve felt hopeful for a long time. Nervous because I am SOOOOO not a risk-taker. But still hopeful. I actually put out some feelers already yesterday.

On the other hand, this is the last week.

The final few days of President Obama’s term. The end of pride in our nation. I’ve been holding my breath, trying to will some miraculous event to stave off the evil that looms large at the end of this week. 

It’s worse than a nightmare, because there’s no waking up. It’s worse than dystopian fiction because it doesn’t end when you turn the last page. In a few days our entire government will be in the power of cruel, greedy, power-hungry, Ayn Rand devotees. Rights for the poor, minorities, women, immigrants, and anyone who’s NOT a powerful, privileged, white male will disappear one by one.

I’ve stood in this spot a couple of times when visiting the Lincoln Memorial. It gives me chills to remember it.

But, like many, I’m doing what I can to make a stand against the coming tyrrany:

  • Celebrating MLK day with Middle, who has the day off from teaching, by going to see “Hidden Figures.” It’s the film about the long-ignored team of black female scientists and mathematicians who heavily influenced the space race.
  • Making plans to donate to a few meaningful causes on Friday – the two I’ve picked so far are the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • Preparing for the Women’s March taking place in our state capital on Saturday. I’ll be attending with my mother and Middle, while Oldest will be marching in DC. Our sweatshirts and buttons will arrive in the mail in a few days, and we’ll be picking up a big load of sanitary supplies to donate on March day, for the drive sponsored by the local organizers.
  • I’ve signed up to make phone calls for Every Town for Gun Safety. It’s funny, that. One of my introvert tendencies is that I despise talking on the phone. But I discovered during our local elections last year that I totally rock at making calls for causes I’m passionate about. 

This week it feels like we’re all about to take the Reichenbach Fall. (Yes, I’m a huge “Sherlock” fan. Did you see last night’s episode?!)

Let’s hold hands and take the jump together. And then turn up quite alive and well, thank you, just like our friend Mr. Holmes.

Sunday celebration.

A rundown of today’s Ice Storm experience:

6:00 am: Wake up for the fifth time since midnight and notice no tinkling sound of ice falling outside. Look out the window with a sinking heart upon seeing very little ice shining from the glow of the streetlights.

6:10 am: Check phone compulsively for a text or a FB post saying church has been cancelled today. No dice. Try to gather the wherewithal to drag myself out of bed and begin getting ready to leave the house.

6:15 am: Nearly faint with joy when the text finally arrives: All services cancelled due to icy conditions. Send multiple group texts to alert volunteers I’m responsible for, so they know to stay home today.

6:17 am: Snuggle back under the covers and sleep until 10:00 am. TEN O’CLOCK! I haven’t slept that late since the time I had a 10-day bout of flu!

And now, here I sit in my jammies at 12:30, enjoying the best of all possible worlds (well, except for the fact that Oldest and Youngest are far, far away instead of sitting around with me enjoying a cup of coffee, silly conversation, and a round of Bananagrams).  Just enough ice to make the church parking lot too slippery for safety, but not nearly enough to create power outages. 

To top it all off, I’ve just read a very helpful, hopeful, and inspiring comment on my post from yesterday. When I started blogging over three years ago, I had no idea I would end up making friends all over the world who would actually make a difference in my life. But that’s what I’ve experienced, and I’m thankful.

I’m now able to look ahead to the coming week with some sense of positivity. One of the most difficult situations I’ve been dealing with at work will almost certainly come to an end this week. Not the end I would have preferred, but an end that will allow me to square my shoulders and move on. I think – just maybe – I might have the energy to look ahead and start making plans for something new. To paraphrase one of the goals of a community-wide team I love working with, “Something awesome will happen and I’ll know what it is when I see it.” 

Fingers crossed. 

How does an ice storm relate to issues of faith? It’s a long story.

So far our “ice storm of the century” is underwhelming. We have about 1/4 inch of ice, and the streets currently are passable. I wouldn’t care to take a walk down our slippery driveway, though. We don’t do salt or ice melt at our house. Not out of any grand environmental concerns; we’re just lazy bastards.

Anywhoo…the forecast, at least, is all I could ask for. Freezing rain and ice pellets beginning again late tonight (Saturday) and continuing into the day on Sunday.

And why is a Sunday morning ice storm a good thing, you might ask? Or you might not, depending on how bored you are so far with my tale.

Because I work for a fairly large church. And this forecast means a pretty good chance we’ll cancel worship tomorrow, to avoid broken bones in congregants making their way from the parking lot into the building. And that’s where the issues of faith come in. Now we get a little more serious. Because the idea of not having church tomorrow pleases me to no end.

I’ve been a full-time, paid lay minister in this congregation for 12 1/2 years, as Director of Children’s Ministry. My job description? Anything that has to do with families having children ages birth to 6th grade. And anything else I need to do to keep the congregation in good shape. Assisting with worship planning. Writing devotions for adults. Creating a system for keeping needed supplies in the building stocked. Creating and implementing a protection policy for children and the adults who work with them. Serving on teams that do work completely unrelated to children and families.

In other words, I know the workings of the congregation, its pastors, and its lay-leadership inside and out. I’ve seen behind the curtain. 

And I don’t like what I see. In fact, I’m fed up with what I see. It’s become so negative in the past year it’s a cause for constant stress and anxiety. I’ve had more confrontational conversations in the last year, trying to deal with some of the crap I’m seeing, than I’ve had in my entire lifetime. Confrontations, for this introvert, put my stress level way over 100%.

A good friend, who has also spent much of her life working in ministry, asked me recently if everything I’ve been dealing with at church is affecting my faith and my relationship with God.

Answer: No. Not at all. God and I are cool. God has absolutely nothing to do with the nasty bullshit going on behind the scenes in our congregation. (FYI, nothing prurient or illegal – just seriously wrong, as in deception, lack of communication, and extremely non-Christian behavior.) Everything that’s going on is purely due to human error. 

But the end result is that I have a very difficult time at this point engaging in my work, knowing what I know. I have to put on a good face for most people, be the cheerleader for an institution I believe in less and less every day. Individually, most of our program staff members do amazing, Christ-centered work. As a whole, it’s a sham.

If I could change careers I definitely would. And, to be honest, I would be unlikely to attend any church for a very long time. But I’m responsible for half our family’s income and all our health insurance. For now I’m stuck. Currently I don’t see a way out. 

Working in ministry, I’ve read plenty of pieces over the years about the damage done to so many people by churches. Generally those are stories about people being beaten over the head by some narrow definition of religion: gay people told they’re sinful; women told they’re value-less. This cold, hard truth about much of Christianity makes me ill. 

My situation is entirely different. One thing I can say with pride about our congregation is that we’re progressive and affirming. Nonetheless, I, too have been damaged by organized religion.

So…no church tomorrow? Time to celebrate!

And there you have it. How our ice storm and issues of faith are related. Thanks for listening. 

Ice day!

Image credit: David Stimac Photography

An ice storm is predicted to last the entire weekend in our part of the world. All school districts are closed and travel is restricted to “essential only.”

You might call it an introvert’s Perfect Storm.

So…the question is – what will this particular introvert do with potentially THREE ENTIRE DAYS without leaving the house? Save the world from nuclear disaster? Write the great American novel? Discover a cure for the common cold?

Nah. Here’s my Perfect Storm list:

  • Read.
  • Sit quietly under layers and layers of blankets.
  • Netflix and Acorn TV.
  • Knit.
  • Pilates and yoga videos to stave off complete lethargy (and actually doing the Pilates and yoga, rather than just watching from under aforementioned blankets).
  • Bake.
  • Feel smug because I figured out on Wednesday, by looking at the weather forecast, that I needed to order groceries ASAP for delivery on Friday morning, before all the delivery times were booked.
  • Text funny tidbits to my far away darlings so they don’t seem so far away.

Of course, there may also be the search for flashlights and the rush to get our refrigerated foods packed into ice, due to the likelihood of power outages. I can live with that, if it means three days of glorious solitude.

Thank you, weather gods.