Sunday, May 25, 2008

Suddenly, I Feel Young Again

First, he was in our wedding and now our buddy Steve produced this video, which I really, REALLY appreciate. Not only does it give that war-mongering, health insurance-skimping, out-of-touch, etc. candidate a well-deserved jab, this video is the first thing this year that made me feel just one inch closer to being a Gen Xer.

Okay, maybe Gen X + 15.

And, Lord, there is actually an element on the periodic table younger than McCain.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I've Got Her Number

On the bench right now is the transom window that I am making for my dear friend, Lisa. The window will go over her wide front door, original to the house, that faces on to Newton Street in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, DC.

The colors she picked for the transom window, some lovely lavenders, purples, and greens, are unconventional. So, of course, I love them. This challenged me to design the window so that it would still harken back to the house's turn-of-the-century (19th, that is) style, even though the purpleness would likely have made Queen Victoria wrinkle her nose and put on more black damask. I love it, though, because it will defy the norm, while charming any passersby -- much like the inhabitants of 1349 do everyday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

DC Is For Wonk-Lovers

Himself, the wonkish husband.

If you have a pulse and a television, you must know by now that it is a presidential year. Actually, it's been a presidential two years, maybe 2.5, but who's counting?

The families, spouses, and partners of campaign and election consultants, that's who. And there are a lot of us here in Washington, DC, what I like to call the "factory town of politics." Politics and elections are the bread and butter of our city. But during a presidential year, we are also the town of "those left behind", of POWs (Partners of Wonks). We are the city filled with spouses, partners, children, and friends of campaign staff, PR consultants, reporters, and strategists. And we have not a clue as to when we might see our wonks again, so don't ask us.

It's safe to say that when I married my adorable, wonkster husband 14 years ago, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Sure I love that man, but that is after (and partially due to) spending about the first decade of our marriage trying to figure out what he did for a living. (His specialty is mobilizing voters, known as GOTV.) And I am not a stupid person. It's just that the nature of campaign work -- the long hours, its ability to swallow people whole, the way it springs up from nothing like a very well-funded mushroom -- is not what you grown up thinking it would be. On TV and in the newspapers, campaigns look regal and organized. They look like they are filled with smart, capable people who thoughtfully come up with big plans and massive mobilizing forces and political platforms and perfect hairdos. And they are -- to some extent. But campaigns are also filled with sleep-deprived people who have been eating take-out for WAY too long and have become physically attached to their blackberries and pagers and have been staying in hotels so long that they will actually weep when they are given access to a washer and dryer. These are wonks, and they are OUR people.

But, before these wonks became this way, they were someone's son or daughter, wife or husband, lover or friend. These wonks had relatively normal lives and held conversations for 10 minutes at a time without having to go on a conference call. And this is what we POWs strive to remember as we take messages at 11PM from press staffers or fedex fresh T-shirts to Desmoines, because our wonks can't even walk across the road to the Target across from campaign headquarters. We are the POWs and we understand this. We know that by Labor Day, expecting phone conversations with our wonky loved ones that are longer than 5 minutes and uninterrupted will be a hazy memory. Email is better. We know that home life and wonk life will steadily diverge, like a highway off-ramp jutting away from the road.

But, we know that sometime around November 8th, the effects of drinking jet fuel in the morning will begin to wear off our wonks. As the new administration takes up the equally relentless work of starting up a new presidency, our wonks will find those people they used to drink real coffee with in the morning. We will be the ones rattling around in what looks vaguely like those houses or apartments (with the washer/dryer!) where our wonks once lived way back when in July of the previous year. And as that loving look of recognition lights up in the eyes of our wonks, we are the ones who will say, "You're back! I missed you."

Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve! Obama supporter rallying the troops on DC's Primary Day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Noah Needed Drywall

Okay, so it has been raining here for about 1,000 hours at near Biblical proportions. It has been raining so much that even I have begun complaining about the rain, which should tell you something. (After three years of on-and-off drought, I have been known to go outside in the backyard and do a rain dance in my pajamas when we had so much as a sprinkle in July.) I rejoice that we are nearly 3.5 inches above normal annual rainfall. This rainy, cool May weather is akin to the Mays I grew up with in this area -- what we babyboomers like to call a return to pre-global warming seasonal behavior.

Along with the rain came Mother's Day, when I got to do what I love to do on Mother's Day -- shop for plants. The fact that it was pouring down rain was just an added incentive. As someone who started her first personal garden at age 5, I was taught that the absolute best time to buy and plant new garden stuffs is in a cool, substantial spring or fall rainshower. Yes, these are the times that the women in my family (ignoring the aghast looks of our spouses) trudge out-of-doors with favorite spade and trowel in hand, look up to the heavens, and pronounce, "These hands have been touched by God! Let's plant!" (Our only indulgence with religion.) My mom started me off when I was five, when I grew my first garden. It was little plot where I grew Halloween pumpkins that I later rolled into and sold in our front yard. I can't exactly remember the weather when we ripped open that packet of Burpee pumpkin seeds, but if it was like any other gardening session with my mother, it was probably during a good early spring rain.

So, digging forward to the present, that WAS me at the local nursery on Mother's Day, shopping for shrubbery in the pouring down rain. And I mean pouring down rain. I want to point out that though the shopping crowd was sparse, I was NOT alone. And I did pick up two rose bushes -- on sale, no less -- that are covered in the deepest, sexy burgundy blossoms. A couple Japanese plum yews leapt into my cart without my knowledge -- along with some Japanese painted fern that decided to follow their countrymen. (Hey, with the fascist immigration roundups these days, even Dutch tulip bulbs are shaking in their skins.)

One place in my life that the rain was not welcome: the recurrent leak in the roof over the hippie child's bedroom. It is the Carrie of Roof Leaks, lying dormant for years and then returning in haunting proportions just when you think life has settled to normal and you can slack off in the renovation poltergeist department.

Smoke the Dog is keeping watch to make sure nothing creeps in from the Other Side.

Monday, May 12, 2008


After spending too much of the last few days filling out all the insurance forms that had piled up on my desk, I just had to break free from the shackles of paperwork and....

Learn what my superhero personality equivalent should be. Egads!

Personally, I think these folks are being a bit overly enthusiastic on my behalf, but hey, I could live with a little extra electricity. Especially when the power goes out. And I have to figure out how to start up the generator to keep the aquarium pump going so our saltwater tank does not turn into a frothy pit of marine death.

Emerge and find out what the super you is. At the very least, it might give you the stamina to reboot a modem?

Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Electricity

You're highly reactive, energetic, and super charged.

If the occasion calls for it, you can go from 0 to 60 in a split second.

But you don't harness your energy unless you truly need to.

And because of this, people are often surprised by what you are capable of.

Why you would be a good superhero: You have the stamina to fight enemies for days

Your biggest problem as a superhero: As with your normal life, people would continue to underestimate you

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Last Friday, the hippie child and I spent about an hour sitting in the Starbucks taking close-ups of eachother's eyeballs and laughing ourselves silly. Given all the worry, ilness, and strife going on in our family unit, we might have had to laugh a little harder and louder than usual.

My dear mother-in-law had a massive stroke about 3 weeks ago, and seeing her usual feisty, energetic, active-beyond-most-87yo-ness so very reduced has been a shock. Let's put it this way, we went on a 3 mile hike with her up a mountain in Vermont last summer. I hope I have her energy in my small left toe, when I reach her age.

So, anyway, we all feel adrift. And that kind of unhinging just screams out, "Get goofy!" -- whenever we can. I know she wouldn't mind.