The Lydster: an American patriot

making the signs

The article in Nation of Change explains Why the George Floyd Protesters are American patriots. My daughter has been one of them. I am pleased.

We have always talked about societal issues with her, pretty much since she started watching the news about seven years ago. I wondered at the time whether she was too young to take on such difficult conversations. The trouble is that the issues were out there whether or not we talked about it.

She and most of her friends were at least aware of the shootings of 20 first-graders and six adults in Newtown, CT in December 2012. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when she and some of her classmates walked out of school shortly after the killing of 17 mostly high school students in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day 2018.

And they were bitterly disappointed when there was another school mass shooting with double-digit deaths and wounded in Sante Fe, TX two months later. I know from long experience that the demonstrations don’t always seem to work.

A grounding

The former youth director of the church, Christy, had helped ground the youth in issues about gun control, violence, racism, and a number of other hot-button issues. This was usually done in a musical theater setting.

My daughter has not only help organize peaceful protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, but she’s also made many of the signs. She was a bit distraught when she turned her ankle, which swelled up and hurt greatly for three or four days. But she’s now back in the fray. In fact, when a group of protesters hijacked her group’s event, she and a friend went to some of the local restaurants the next day to distance their actions from those of the other group.

Naturally, I, and especially her mother, are a bit nervous about her activities. But I’d be a hypocrite to complain. When I was her age, I was protesting against racism and a far-off war.

She’s also been keeping track of which businesses we should boycott – e.g., Home Depot, whose co-founder backs IMPOTUS. But she also suggests which ones to support, such as Lowe’s, because of its $25 million in minority small business grants.

Some friends suggest that we must have raised her right. We’d like to think so, but, like most parents, we still have no idea what we’re doing.

Lydster: balancing act- what to share

more photos!

The primary balancing act in this here blog involves my daughter. When she was really young, I would put photos of her. Eventually, though, that seemed to be potentially unwise because people are strange.

Even early on, it was also true in the written content. I wasn’t about to write something that would potentially embarrass her years later. Of course, it’s always tricky to ascertain what will mortify a teenager.

I have several photo albums of my life prior to getting married in 1999. But I have none of the pictures from this century in books. However, I do have the pictures. Hundreds of them. Maybe thousands.

My daughter was allegedly helping me to clean the office when she got distracted by the photo books. My, she could be brutal about a pose I made, or a look I had back in the day. It was humbling, to say the least.

But she can be rather unforgiving of the way she looked when she was younger. I think she’s very cute. So does her mother. But she seems to think otherwise. Who’s right here, her or her totally unbiased parents?

Clean up time

In the months before I left work, I found a treasure trove of emailed photos there. I sent them to my personal account. Now, in the midst of purging said emails – from 10,7000 down to 4,000 so far – I’ve decided to use some of those pictures here, each month because I can. They’ll be in no particular order.

The photo below is from July of 2007. We were visiting a married couple in the Binghamton, NY area. She was in our wedding in 1999. We were in their wedding in 2002. That’s our kids playing in the sprinkler, my daughter to the left.

I think the picture above was in Oneonta later that summer. Perhaps at Brooks BBQ? Maybe somewhere else? It doesn’t much matter. The kid’s cute, though, right?

New routine: they’re home at work

You are what you are, and you ain’t what you ain’t – Dear Abby, John Prine

Stormy
I’m told I can’t use cat pictures on my blog. The only exception is if it’s MY cat. Here’s Stormy, seeking sustenance.
My household has established a new routine on most weekdays. There are variations but often it looks like this: The alarm goes off at 6 a.m. THE ALARM GOES OFF – ugh. At least it’s a half-hour later than it USED to go off when my wife traveled to work.

While my wife takes a shower, I check my email. I’m looking for articles to send to Jeff for his regular newsletter about COVID-19.

My wife watches CBS This Morning; increasingly, I don’t. I can’t do all COVID, all the time. But I do catch a bit when feeding the cats around 7:30 because they think it’s their right to be fed. My wife and I eat breakfast.

She goes to work in the guest bedroom. Her workload as a teacher of English as a New Language is so much greater than it was when she could actually meet with students in person. One day, she had a noon teleconference, then a 40-minute phone conversation with a parent of a student, 20 minutes to wolf down lunch, then a 2 pm teleconference. Another day, she spent about 100 minutes on the phone with two brothers.

I start writing a blog post but take a break to wake my daughter, who almost certainly has stayed up too late. Time for her to go to school too, which turns out to be on the borrowed laptop in her bedroom. Classes at 9 and 10:30, an hour for lunch, classes at 12:30 and 2. Sometimes I help her with her homework in the evening.

Old school

Time to call two people on the telephone. This has been an amazingly great exercise. Sometimes, I call people I haven’t seen in a few months, while others I haven’t been in contact with for years. (Hi, Janet!) They average about 45 minutes; some last 10 minutes, but I spoke with Bill, a grade-school friend, for about two hours. I never leave a message on answering machines because I don’t want to obligate people to have to call me back. But some see my phone ID and check back anyway.

I’ve discovered surprising simpatico with a guy whose wife also asks followup questions when he’s only reading her a news headline. A cousin of my father told me a family secret last week she had assumed I already knew. My pastors are now mailing the sermons to one of my fellow church members without a computer.

Some point, I’ll take a walk or ride my bike, take a shower, eat lunch, empty and reload the dishwasher plus washing some pots and pans, read the paper, finish the blog post, and watch the previous day’s JEOPARDY! After dinner is the daily Google hangout call of my wife’s family, ostensibly 15 minutes, but generally close to an hour. I’ll miss it because I’ll be attending church remotely on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Here now the news

Watch the evening news, which is recorded, so I can zap past all those pharma medicine ads. I either help my wife and daughter, or at least stay out of their way. I’m happy to be retired.

I should note that working on the COVID newsletter has been great. I don’t have to obsess about the issue. Oh, I still think he’s doing a bad job. I was furious that Wisconsin voters had to go out and vote in the midst of a pandemic, risking the health of themselves and others.

And I was strangely mortified that an SBA program to help small business was so poorly introduced. A CBS story showed personal information showing up on the SCREENS of the next applicant in the queue. The SBDC, where I worked for nearly 27 years, is an SBA program.

And I’m terribly sad about the death of John Prine, who was not only one of America’s greatest songwriters but apparently a really nice guy. He beat cancer TWICE only to succumb to complications from COVID-19.

Hello In There – Bette Midler
Dear Abby – John Prine
Angel From Montgomery – Bonnie Raitt& John Prine

Lydster: Chocolate mousse

Seldom

chocolate mousseOn Election Day, my daughter was babysitting for much of the day. She texted me and said that she wanted to make chocolate mousse that evening for a contest the next day. It could help improve her French grade. Could I pick up some ingredients at the store before she got back?

What did she need? The recipe she found, which she wanted to double, required:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter – we have some, but maybe not enough
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, best quality – need
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated – have
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar – ?
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar – have
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold – need
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract – thought we had, but can’t find
FOR SERVING
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold – need
2 teaspoons sugar – have
Chocolate shavings – need

Potassium Bitartrate?

What the heck is cream of tartar? I discovered one can substitute one teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar for a 1/2 teaspoon of whatever it is. We had lemon juice. I wrote, “I didn’t want to buy the cream of tartar, which we would seldom use.”

She wrote back: “You sound like a nerd. ‘Seldom’ – c’mon, mate.” While I think it’s a fine word, her peers would say, “we won’t use it much.” I think that’s too wordy. She says that we nerds have “expectations of themselves that are too high.” Not the worst curse, especially for someone she says is cool, “for a boomer.”

Most of the work she did herself. She asked for help separating the eggs, yet her ultimate solution was far more efficient than my manual method. Emptying a water bottle, she squeezed it, creating a vacuum that sucked up the yolks.

The chocolate mousse turned out to be quite tasty, according to both of her parents. Because she had even MORE homework to do on a supposed day off from school, her father ended doing a lot of dishes the next day. He’s better at that task than cooking anyway.

late summer 2007
late summer 2007

Lydster: not-absent resolution

my tale of woe

absent.truancy vs chronic absenceEarly in December, my daughter and some of her classmates were required to attend a workshop to determine what classes she could take for the next school year. She came home excited. Because she’s met so many requirements, she’ll be able to take more electives next year.

While she’s explaining this to her mother, I’m getting an automated telephone message from the high school saying that she was marked absent from school for periods three and four. Why, yes, she was absent from physics that day, for an authorized school activity. She was present for the physics lab during period four and handed in homework.

I call the school the next day. The phone menu says that I have to contact the office of the academy my daughter is assigned to. There are four academies in the school. But the Discovery office says that they can’t fix it because they only deal with actual absences. The teacher can fix this.

I call the teacher’s office. She’s out for the day. The substitute has a child in the school, so she knows that my tale of woe is true. She recommended talking with the guidance counselor.

A few hours later, the guidance counselor calls me back. She can verify that my daughter was at the authorized event for period three. She would write the teacher to correct the record for period four.

Redux

This is hardly the first time I’ve gone through this rigamarole. Nor am I the only one experiencing it. The mother of a freshman was baffled when she experienced a similar situation.

It appears that the school is better at tracking when a student is away for the whole day. My daughter went on a school trip to Montreal in the spring of 2019, but we got no robocalls. The problem seems to be tied to those in-school events of limited duration.

This may seem to be a small thing, but it happens frequently enough to become an annoyance. I don’t want to have to make two or three calls every time this happens.