December 14, 2005

Alex Wolff, Prez & GM of the Frost Heaves

Photo: Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography/SI

More good news! Alex & Van have a new baby... of sorts. Quick, go get yourself some Frost Heaves gear, man, so you can say you were in on it from the beginning!

We won.

A little over a year ago, in the run-up to the national general election, I was talking with a friend about how frustrating it was to watch politicians cash in on anti-gay rhetoric. "I'm past just wanting my full civil rights," I said. "I want us to get organized; if we had our act together people wouldn't just stop this stuff, they would be afraid of ticking us off!"

Well, today the future looks a little bit brighter. Following reports in the media and from the American Family Association (insert gagging noise here) that Ford Motor Company was responding to anti-gay pressure and pulling back its previous ad buys in publications targeting gay audiences, John Aravosis over at Americablog trained his spotlight on the issue. He and other members of the liberal blogosphere then coordinated a response, and today, we won.

This is what I want. To not even have to fight, because people slowly but surely realize that business models driven by narrow-minded bigotry won't work.

Wondering what to get me for Christmas? Send John Aravosis a little something on my behalf. (John Aravosis, PO Box 21831, Wash, DC 20009. Make checks payable to "John Aravosis.") The guy is doing great work.

December 04, 2005

Blog Against Racism Day (belated)

I grew up in the almost entirely white town of Big Flats (guess the state.... nope, New York). I work in a school in central New Jersey now, and am so envious of the students in my remarkably racially diverse school. I missed out on so much, growing up in such a culturally monolithic environment. And I didn't even figure THAT out until I was well into my twenties.

When I talk with students about our son's two-mom status (as I am sometimes asked to do), someone inevitably asks me about whether I worry about how he'll be treated. And I do, to the extent that every mother worries about her child. But I am also tempted to say, "What, are you kidding me? He's a white male!" (I sometimes don't say it, but writing this I think maybe I should make a commitment to saying it.)

Knowing what I know, and having lived the life I've lived, I am much more concerned about how I will prepare our son to recognize, address, and fight racism than I am worried about the queer-related crap he might have coming to him. After all, he's got two in-house experts to help him sort the queer stuff out. Helping him grapple with issues of race and racism is a much more daunting prospect for me, in part because I still feel like I have so much work to do just in my own life. I think about this stuff all the time; parenting is not for sissies.

I think the next step will be to reach out and make sure that I've got friends who are thinking and talking about these issues as they relate to parenting, so that I don't have to figure it out all on my own. (Is there a Yahoo! group?)

I wish sometimes that we could stipulate racism, so that everyone could be doing the work of unmaking it. I can't believe how many people there are in the world who persist in thinking that racism is 1) a thing of the past, 2) not all that bad, 3) no problem of theirs, or 4) all of the above. Depressing and/or enraging. Thank goodness for artists. And now, maybe, bloggers. I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's posts.

November 08, 2005

You did VOTE, didn't you?

Thank you for voting
Originally uploaded by butwait.

D's too young to vote, but he's clearly not too young to help out at the polls. He was quite happy to help people figure out if they were District 3 or District 9.

November 06, 2005

Autumn Cider

Autumn Cider
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Tea at S&L's this afternoon. Great mulled cider and conversation out on the deck. I looked away for one second and looked back to find these leaves had fallen. Today's message: don't blink.

November 01, 2005

Star Wars Ninja! (Halloween, Part II)

Star Wars Ninja! (Halloween, Part II)
Originally uploaded by butwait.

D had the time of his life running around and being terribly fierce & dangerous w/ JT. The candy was a bonus.

October 31, 2005

Halloween, Part I

Halloween, Part I
Originally uploaded by butwait.

That's our D, front and center in the Little Prince costume. Click on over here for the full story... part II included a much scarier costume and lots of running from house to house in Dunellen. More on that as details become available. (Our beat reporter is currently beat.)

October 20, 2005


Originally uploaded by butwait.

D wanted to see his newly created boo-boo tonight, but since this is the back of his head, we were out of luck... until I remembered the wonders of digital photography.

D and friend A have connected, which is a good thing, but we could have done without D and the bottom of the UNLS playground slide connecting! ("Dat's made out of wood, you know, Mommy, and wood hurts!")

A tip of the hat to Treacy G, whose example I followed in comforting D after the event. FIRST, comfort the child. THEN figure out whether a trip to the hospital is in order.

Luckily, no hospital trip for us today. Just a cool photo op and an excuse for extra after-school chocolate.

October 17, 2005

Advanced Juggling

Advanced Juggling
Originally uploaded by butwait.

The Philly-based Give and Take Jugglers at Sunday's PFS campaign celebration were terrific. D couldn't take his eyes off them, and waved his little hand in the air like crazy, hoping to be picked as the next "assistant." Finally, at the very end of the show, one of the jugglers admitted that he was hoping to juggle a human being, and finally D's diminutive size made him "just right" for the part. He could not have been happier.

Take a Break

Take a Break
Originally uploaded by butwait.

D had a great time at Princeton Friends School on Sunday. There was food and dancing, music and juggling, and at some point he felt the need to take a break. So he did. You can learn a lot from a four year old.

October 05, 2005

Sat. Afternoon Arch Sing!

You'll Find Us Here
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Usually arch sings (a capella singing groups clustered in one of the stone arches on campus to dramatic acoustic effect) are too late at night for the hours we currently keep, but on Saturday (Oct. 8th) there's one just for us... at 4pm! Families throughout the greater Princeton area are invited to the first Cotsen Family Arch Sing at the Blair Arch on the Princeton University campus (pictured, behind the bookstore, email me if you need more detailed directions). The a capella groups volunteering their time for this first arch sing are dedicating their music to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Students from the Katzenjammers, Tigerlilies, Tigertones and other groups that will perform on this afternoon will solicit donations to rebuild the homes and lives of those affected by this national disaster. Come and listen, sip hot cider and nibble on donuts, and celebrate the great tradition of jazz, born and nurtured in the early part of the 20th century in the now devastated city of New Orleans. Bring a friend!

And if you want to make a day of it, see also this link from the Princeton Weekly Bulletin, which details all the cool family-friendly Community Day events going on at the University this coming Saturday.

September 17, 2005

After Naps

After Naps
Originally uploaded by butwait.

While staying at Chris & Claire's house during the Solheim Cup, I luxuriated in a nap on their very comfy livingroom couch.

When I woke up, the light was at exactly the right angle to float this grid of golden squares on the wall. By the time I put my camera away, the image was gone.

September 02, 2005

Last day of being three

Last day of being three
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Today is Dominic's last day of being three. And it's also the last day of his room being beige. You gotta respect progress.

September 01, 2005

I dream of a leader I would gladly follow

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you had a leader who led like this?

In the absence of the reality, I will continue to dream.

Bush's contention yesterday that "no one anticipated the breakdown of the levees," is nothing short of criminally obtuse. See, for example, the October 2004 issue of National Geographic, which predicted this disaster with unerring -- and now, devastating -- accuracy.

If you're too far away to help in person, please consider helping those who will be helping in person:

Second Harvest
Red Cross
Rainbow Fund
On-line Auction to support relief efforts
Feed the Children
Habitat for Humanity

August 30, 2005

Hurricane Agnes, 1972

The flood crept up on our valley town.
My father was away when the water
began, leaving my mother with the hard
job of deciding what was worth saving.
She put my sister and me to work
and we ran through the house rolling carpets up.

Rain fell all night and began to ooze up
through floorboards. No one in town
slept – watching the water rise was work
we took seriously. Except this water
looked more like old gravy someone had saved
for too long – thick and brown and going hard.

They made us leave, made my mother’s jaw go hard
with the effort of what felt like giving up.
I was pretty sure I didn’t need saving.
I knew every hill and tree of my town;
my creek sneakers could handle some old water.
I begged to stay but it didn’t work.

My father snuck past the national guard and was working
his way home, driving fast and trying hard
not to imagine how high the water
was on our street. The TV played it up:
Watch at eleven as yet another town
is swamped; see people plucked from rooftops, safe!

We kids saw two mice we wanted to save.
My father found us and told us how much work
it had been, how he’d had to search the whole town.
We stayed in a shelter and it was hard
to live in a crowd; the noise never let up,
there was no hot food, no running water.

The rain stopped but there was still all this water,
barns on their sides with the hay they’d been saving
floating past the hood of someone’s new pick-up.
The mud, the fallen trees: it all looked like work.
We got to keep our house but Dad took it hard
when one old friend just packed up and left town.

In some ways the work helped cheer us up,
wearing us out when it was hard to remember feeling safe,
so that the town could sleep again – and dream of water.

August 24, 2005

Ahhhh! Two great huggers luxuriate...

Ahhhh! Two great huggers luxuriate...
Originally uploaded by butwait.

I only wish I could have gotten a simultaneous picture of Dad's face, which I'm sure showed a similarly elevated level of bliss. Mr. D sure is lucky to have this special time with his grandparents!

... while two great romantics rekindle.

... while two great romantics rekindle.
Originally uploaded by butwait.

We had forgotten how QUIET our little house can be. :-)

August 21, 2005

The latest

Of the posts I read about Camp Casey today, here's the one I liked best.

Although Truthout's recording of Steve Earle singing, "The Revolution Starts Now," is right up there.

How about you? At this point, any one person's impression of Cindy Sheehan and the activism bubbling up in Crawford is likely to be filtered through whatever lens you're looking through. The difference, for me in 2005, is that there are so many lenses to choose from, and that they're all available to me at no additional cost.

Googlezon and EPIC are looking less science-fictiony every day.

On a completely unrelated topic, I liked Hitch. Eva Mendes doesn't even really do it for me, either, but Will Smith and Kevin James are just fun to watch. Sure, it's predictable, but hello? It's a romantic comedy.

If you want unpredictable, keep your eye on Crawford, TX.

August 17, 2005

500+ Candles in Princeton

Princeton Post-Vigil Candles
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Along with over 1600+ communities, we held a vigil tonight in Princeton in support of Cindy Sheehan's efforts to hold President Bush accountable. It was wonderful to see so many people come out, great to share it with some of my friends and family, and humbling to think that we might all play some role in the turning of a tide. For a national overview of the vigils, check out MoveOn's site.

For the latest on Cindy Sheehan's work in Crawford, see, Meet with Cindy, or the Crawford Update.

August 10, 2005

Threat to National Security?

Cindy Sheehan
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq last year, is seeking a meeting with President Bush, who is vacationing in Crawford, to have some of her questions answered about the war. See the local paper or Daily Kos for the latest.

August 07, 2005

Meeting for Worship

Meeting for Worship
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Sometimes people who have never been to Quaker Meeting ask me what we DO in Quaker Meeting. I try to get people to come and see for themselves. But even then there's a good chance they'll need to come back... the answer changes all the time. We sit. We pray. We hold our loved ones and our enemies in the Light. We listen for the still small voice. When we feel truly Spirit-led, we speak out of the silence. We sing. We daydream. We woolgather. We rest. We renew. We wait.

Sometimes, if during Meeting we are working with the children, Meeting for Worship looks like this.

August 06, 2005

Seedless? Patooie!

Seedless? Patooie!
Originally uploaded by butwait.

I don't know who thought of seedless watermelon, but I'm willing to bet whoever it was isn't a parent. Seeds are practically the entire POINT of watermelon. Either because you're having a seed spitting contest, or because you're worrying about whether the seed you just accidentally swallowed is going to grow into a watermelon INSIDE YOUR TUMMY! This gorgeous seeded watermelon was lovingly and organically grown at the Watershed Farm (okay, they renamed it Honey Brook Organic Farm, but I like the old name better), and when I pointed the tip of my longest knife in to start cutting slices, it popped open with a kind of whoosh -- almost like those Pillsbury Crescent Roll containers. Most definitely ready for eating. Moist paper towels all around, and watch where you spit!

August 05, 2005

Miss Amy Rocks!

Miss Amy Rocks!
Originally uploaded by butwait.

I am a member of the "go out Friday night, get the most out of your weekend" club. Tonight, the treat was a picnic dinner at the gazebo in Hopewell, celebrating the fabulous Miss Amy's NEW CD. And the joint was most definitely jumping... look at these bouncing kids! The Wide Wide World CD has the Penguin Dance AND Turn the World Around AND the Austrian Yodeling song on it, what more could we ask?

If you don't have her first CD yet, I'll make you a deal: If you're a friend of mine, buy her first CD. (If you're local, Amy asks that you pick it up at Barnes & Noble in Marketfair.) If you DON'T love it, I will refund your money. (Trust me, this is a very low risk proposition.) Plus -- again If you're local -- you can find her event schedule and other goodies here.

Thank goodness for people who follow their dreams.

And a big "mwah" kiss to the fabulous folks at 22 Seminary Avenue in Hopewell, who graciously provided an emergency pit-stop for a certain young gentleman. We love happy endings.

August 04, 2005

Must. Not. Use. Credit Card

Loads of great vacation time = not much discretionary spending left. But here are the two sites that are testing my willpower today:

Spreadshirt and Zazzle.

For someone who spent her entire childhood sadly reconfirming that all of the personalized "Shelly" geegaws in the world were missing the crucial second "e," these are very tempting times indeed.

August 03, 2005

A little spineless fun

What could be more fun than a spineless Bush in perpetual free-fall? Probably lots of things. But today, this just seems to be hitting the spot. Hat tip to Pete at Crossroads Observer.

August 02, 2005

July 20, 2005

That's a LOT!

That's a LOT!
Originally uploaded by butwait.

For those of you who have lost track, Mr. D provides a clue (and some commentary via facial expression) as to the exact number of candles now required for Tama's birthday cake. (We gave up and went out for ice cream instead.)

Many thanks to those of you who have shared with us reports of beastly local weather in our hometown (and in some of yours, too)... fabulous weather really does feel even better when you know you're escaping some sticky nightmare of a day somewhere else. We had a great week of camping at good old North of Highlands, and are now living it up at the Best Western way out at the tip of the Cape. Adventures have included tree climbing -- Mr. D now has a pair of pants that he calls his climbing pants -- bike riding (Mr. D's in the trailer still, so we're in great shape), a witnessing of a historically accurate re-enactment of ship-to-shore rescue techniques, lots of kayaking and beach time (still no burns, Grampy!), and now, a week of hotel decadence complete with pool and nearby wireless access so I can update y'all on the latest. La di dah.

The little man has been learning a lot. He's napping now, but earlier today he and Tama were working on a model schooner they picked out at the Province Lands Visitors' Center the other day.... he's quite a good little paint mixer. He can also now smack a mosquito with the best of them (the bugs have generally not been a problem, but when dusk falls, LOOK OUT!)... the other day after killing one that had somehow snuck into the hotel room he turned to us and said, "We are hard monsters to them, aren't we?" Quite pleased with himself, and maybe a tiny bit horrified.

July 15, 2005

Tama's all wet!

Tama's all wet!
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Mr. D apparently felt that Tama hadn't truly EXPERIENCED the bay to the extent she might have during her six mile solo trip up the Cape Cod "arm" from the mouth of the Pamet River to Provincetown. Nothing a little watering can action can't fix!

July 10, 2005

Ready to defend his home away from home

Ready to defend his tent
Originally uploaded by butwait.

For those among you who were skeptical of our stated goal of getting Mr. D to sleep in his own tent during our week of camping, here's proof positive that he pulled it off. Of course we had to make sure he had his new alligator squirter handy in case, well, you know, just in case.

July 07, 2005

Just not a FAN

Yesterday Mr. D and I shared a mini-bagel as an after-school snack. I put mine in the toaster, he asked me why, and I explained that I sometimes like the crunchiness of toasted things. But that I wasn't going to toast his because he doesn't really like toasted foods. "I do," he quickly corrected. "I like some things toasted. Sometimes. [pause] I'm just not a FAN of that."

Okay then. Glad we got that cleared up.

July 04, 2005


Originally uploaded by butwait.

One would generally expect a photo entitled "Jump!" to at least include the feet of the subject, but in this case... well, there's just not much point. Yet. Miss E was certainly TRYING to celebrate Independence Day by freeing her feet from good ol' Mother Earth, but it just wasn't happening for her. She does get an A for effort, and an A+++ for cuteness. Just LOOKING at that little smile makes me want to scoop her up for a snuggle. After first begging her Ladyship's permission and pardon, of course. Thanks for the hospitality, L, J, & E!

June 28, 2005

Cousins + Sand Crabs = Fun!

Cousins + Sand Crabs = Fun!
Originally uploaded by butwait.

It is nothing short of a minor miracle that I managed to get these four to stay still long enough to all fit into one picture. Mr. D coudn't be coaxed away from a very important wave-jumping engagement, and Summer was catching up on her cutie-rest. (Similar to beauty-rest, but for sweetie pie toddlers.)

Cheek to Cheek

Cheek to Cheek
Originally uploaded by butwait.

On the other hand, beautiful sunny beach days are pretty darned excellent!

June 27, 2005

Rainy Day

Rainy Day
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Who cares about a rainy day? We've got games and imagination!

June 25, 2005

He Just Couldn't Bounce Back

I've just returned from a round-trip drive to Brooklyn, and I'm pretty sad about it. Terri drove up to Brooklyn last night to scoop up F, the boy who spent two weeks with us last summer as a part of the Fresh Air Fund's program to give city kids a chance to have a real country vacation. He is a great kid, loves animals and bridges, and was a complete sweetie with Mr. D.

Something was different this year. We're not sure why, but F's homesickness, present but manageable last year, was absolutely paralyzing this year. I honestly think that part of it was that he'd never heard of Delaware before and was afraid to go someplace that was completely off his mental map. We might as well have invited him to a week at the beach in Albania. He talked a good game while he was still at home, bragging to his friends about the upcoming trip, but cried the whole way to our house, then cried himself to sleep and was barely functioning this morning.

Little Mr. D was the only one who could manage to get him to interact positively, and even that only lasted for a few minutes at a time. This morning, when a visibly despondent F wouldn't eat and talked about hurting himself, Terri and I looked at each other and called his mother. As soon as he got in the car with me and we headed north towards his home, he magically turned back into the F we all fell in love with last summer.

We're all disappointed, Mr. D most of all. But it was definitely the right decision. And we WILL get to the beach today, come hell or high water.

June 19, 2005

Crying from Happiness

Mr. D watched the tail end of the US Open (men's golf) with Tama today, and was quite surprised to see the winner crying. "What happened, Tama?" he kept asking. "Why is that man crying?" Tama talked about strong emotions and crying from happiness as well as sadness, and Mr. D took it all in. Tonight, as I was singing him some extra "special request" lullabyes, he scrunched up his face a little and asked, "Do you know what I'm doing?" "No, what?" I asked. "I'm crying from so much happiness," he responded with pride.

June 14, 2005

NJ AIDS Walk 2005, Part II

Team DFA
Originally uploaded by butwait.

When I arrived at Skelly Field on Rutgers’ campus, I thought of my mom at Douglass and my dad at Ursinus, back in the day. I wondered if they’d be able to imagine the spot from memory if I described it to them. Was the small pond to the left of our route nicknamed “the Passion Puddle” even back then? When I signed up for the walk I thought I might try to walk with Jeff – and Gigi, the third DFA’er – but Terri and Mr. D and I spent the night before the walk at Stacy & [she whose name is no longer spoken] & JT’s house because our air conditioning was on the fritz. I hadn’t taken the time to go online, and so had not connected with Jeff or Gigi. I’d never met either of them in person, only emailed back and forth online, so I didn’t have cell phone numbers or anything, and as I drove down College Farm Road and saw the huge crowd of people milling about in a staging area, any hopes I had of finding them quickly dwindled down to nothing.

I was immediately struck by the celebratory feel of the gathering. Despite the wilting heat and the seriousness of our cause, it felt more like a festival than anything else. There was a huge stage from which the organizers periodically made housekeeping announcements, and in between announcements there was a live band playing upbeat, “you can do it” music. This was very different from the “Silence = Death” ACT UP activism of earlier decades. People were walking in a spirit of support, and the common ground was a given. The walkers seemed generally willing to have the fighting of the disease – and the societal forces that work against those struggling with it – remain an implied and understood backdrop. The other thing that made an immediate impression on me as I tried to figure out where I was supposed to sign in was how predominantly brown and black the assembled walkers were. It made perfect sense, thinking about how communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the AIDS epidemic, but since living in Philadelphia I don’t spend that much time in settings where white people are in the minority. Sometimes I miss it.

As I stood near a merchandise table, reminding myself that the last thing in the world I need is another t-shirt, a voice came from the side. “Hey, you’re Shelley!” It was Gigi, who amidst the hundreds of walkers had somehow spotted and recognized me from the picture I’d posted on my NJ AIDS Walk fundraising website. And with her was Jeff! I was so happy to connect with my fellow teammates, and when the walk kicked off a few minutes later, we stepped off side by side.

Jeff and Gigi and I immediately fell into a comfortable companionship… a little odd, given that we’d never laid eyes on each other before, but nice. We traded book recommendations while scoping out the other teams. We talked about our first political memories and our experiences around AIDS. A Rutgers grad himself, Jeff smoothly shifted into tour guide mode and regaled us with tales of Rutgers traditions and news. We tried not to talk about the heat. (On the drive to the walk site, I heard an ever-so-helpful radio weatherperson breathlessly exclaim “Highs today will be in the mid-90’s, but with the heat index it’ll feel more like the 100’s!” Who pays these people?) Clearly concerned about the safety of the walkers, the walk organizers had arranged for plenty of water to be available along the route; although it was stored in buckets of ice, the intense heat meant that it only got vaguely cool, and that only for a few minutes. When a fellow walker blithely tossed aside an empty water bottle, we reminisced about the “litter bug” commercials of our youth and wondered whether “these kids today” would even recognize the phrase. Much of our walk route led us along sidewalks or pathways; when we walked on roads, it felt a little bit like walking on a cookie sheet. In an oven.

Still, I didn’t see anyone fall by the wayside. The route was clearly marked, there were volunteer marshalls everywhere, and it seemed pretty easy to just get caught up in the tide and swept along. There were a few large teams (ETS and J&J were the ones who seemed to have the most participants), but most seemed to be smaller, more intimate groupings. I saw families walking together, some with small children who were being pushed along in strollers. There were some grandparental-looking folks walking. A few groups of young women who looked like they might be sorority sisters. And while the group did thin out a bit from the initially massed formation at the beginning of the walk, the column of participants remained impressively dense throughout the entire walk; I would love to know how many people there were!

The walk was tiring, but surrounded by all that determination and good will, we just kept on trucking. I poured most of my walk water over my head, and I can still remember the sound of the collective “ahhhhhh” that went up from the walkers when a rare breeze blew down the lines of walkers. Towards the end, conversation died out a bit as we concentrated on the task at hand, and we periodically catalogued our growing list of aches and pains. (Reminded me of the kids’ song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” except that it went in the opposite order.) Finally, just as we were starting to wonder about our collective sanity, things started to look familiar and we realized we were almost back at the staging area. And then we were done.

The one aspect of pre-walk preparation that didn’t get covered in all the advice I received concerned my rings. About 3K into the walk, I noticed that my hands were swelling up in the heat, and managed to pull two of my three rings off. The last one was clearly on for the duration; my fingers finally got back to normal about eight hours after the walk. The ring I couldn’t remove was the one that Terri and I designed together, a celebration of the relationship whose beginning almost thirteen years ago was marked by a pounding heart and an AIDS test. Aching for all the right reasons, I slipped my ring back on with a silent prayer of thanksgiving.

June 13, 2005

NJ AIDS Walk 2005

NJ AIDS Walk 2005
Originally uploaded by butwait.

I had my first and last blood test for HIV in 1992. At the beginning of a relationship that felt like it might be going somewhere, I wanted to make sure to start things out right. To my mind, that included both of us committing to taking the test. I had to talk my doctor into it, because to an external observer, there was no reason for me to be taking this test; my identity as a monogomous lesbian put me in one of the lowest known risk groups. At the time, amidst all the talk in fundamentalist circles about AIDS being a punishment from God, the joke in the lesbian community was, “If AIDS is a punishment from God, then lesbians are God’s chosen people!”

But I prevailed, and on a crisp winter morning walked to my doctor’s office in West Philly to have my blood drawn. The results would come back negative. I knew they would. And my doctor’s office was only six blocks from my third-story Cedar Avenue walk up. So why was my heart pounding?

So much has changed since then. A different century, a different world, a different life. Same partner, though. And still the spectre of AIDS, menacing families and communities. The power of AIDS to make my heart pound stayed with me. When Ronald Reagan passed away and the news was full of rosy-tinged remembrances of all he had done for our country, I seethed. I was suddenly flooded with memories of my college years, during which Ronald Reagan remained silent on the subject of AIDS for years while the death toll inexorably rose. The daily undertow of fear and sadness that was the aftermath of the September 11th attacks reminded me of nothing else so much as that time in the mid-80s, when everyone I knew was waiting to find out which of their friends had been sentenced to die. AIDS is now less of a death sentence than it once was, at least for some people – e.g. those fortunate enough to live in America and have healthcare coverage – but its power to disrupt and destroy remains undeniable.

The last time I had truly engaged the AIDS epidemic in a personal way, was when I was living in Philadelphia and singing in the Anna Crusis Women’s Choir. One spring, a small group of us sang at an AIDS Hospice. It wasn’t a very large facility, but every inch of it felt sacred. The residents of the neighborhood had initially fought tooth and nail to prevent the hospice from opening, but it had since become a kind of accepted oasis. The patients, all in the end stages of AIDS-related diseases, were busy with the hard work of making peace and letting go. Not everyone was interested in having a bunch of strangers seranade them. In one room, though, we discovered that the Gershwin song in our repertoire was an old favorite of the man in whose room we were singing it. He struggled to a sitting position and quietly sang along as tears streamed down all our faces. In the intervening years, friends of mine had participated in events designed to raise funds and awareness in the fight against AIDS. Hearing about the upcoming NJ AIDS Walk made me wonder… was it my turn again?

As anyone who knows me could tell you, I am not a particularly fitness-oriented person. In grade school, I was truly talented – at sit-ups. While working at Penn, I played softball on a C-league team, C-league being Penn’s euphemism for “no skill required.” Since then, pretty much nothing.

Although I do come from good walking stock – if you visit my parents, good luck keeping up with them as they embark on their daily constitutional! And I live in an eminently walkable town. I heard about the NJ AIDS Walk at about the same time that DFA (Democracy for America) was calling on its members to give back to their communities in June; the more I thought about it, the more the walk moved into “I should do this” territory. When I heard about fellow NJ DFA’er Jeff Gardner’s commitment to make the walk, and then learned that the graduation ceremonies at Rutgers Preparatory School were later the same day and just minutes away from the walk site, the stars seemed aligned. I logged on to the site and signed up.

So it was that I found myself soliciting my more athletic friends and family members for advice about how to prepare for the NJ AIDS Walk. They really came through for me. Stretch your achilles tendons and your hamstrings. Drink lots of fluid in the days leading up to the walk, but don’t over-hydrate on the day itself. Smear Vaseline all over your feet, taking special care not to neglect your toes. Check, check, check.

As the day of the walk approached, I was relatively confident of my ability to do it physically. It’s just a 10K, after all. But my heart was pounding again. I’d only ever seen pictures of events like this. And heard or read my friends’ accounts. As I’d been talking with family and friends and soliciting their donations, the reality of the enormity of the cause started to sink in. Not knowing what to expect, I set a fundraising goal of $200… my friends and family blew through it in just a few days. Every donation added to my sense of responsibility.

June 10, 2005

Just Once...

Just once, I'd like for my repair experience to go like this:

Me (to repairdude): So when can you be here?
Repairdude: Anytime you like, ma'am.

And then, when he arrives, promptly and not smelling even a little bit like smoke, here's how I'd like THAT to go:

Me (to repairdude): So, what do you think?
Repairdude: It's not that bad, actually... this little valve over here just gave out. And we sell a ton of these, so I probably have the part right out in the truck. (Goes to truck. Returns and re-enters the house after carefully wiping feet.) Yep, here it is! Should take me about 20 minutes.

At the moment, we have no air conditioning. I'm blogging from the basement, the only place cool enough to hear myself think. (Yay, DSL!) What do you think the odds are of the scenario above playing out in my lifetime? Sigh.

June 09, 2005

Under There Somewhere

Under There Somewhere
Originally uploaded by butwait.

Poor Hal Bigelow! He found some great pieces of cherry and handcrafted a beautiful dining room table for us. You'll have to take my word for it.

June 04, 2005

Music Lovers Ahoy

Anyone out there who loves music or is at least interested in musical instruments should check out David Ahmed's amazing freeware program here.

Great tip, Angela... I know a certain small someone who will soon be grooving on this.

June 02, 2005

Most Excellent

Hey, I'm liking the redesign. Just thought I'd mention that. Will shout it from the rooftops once I've got the bugs worked out.