Saturday, March 12, 2011

a wee bulletin

Folks, it seems I am running for public office. Not the U.S. Senate or anything, just my town school committee. Hoping to improve my little corner of my little corner of the world.

I mention it because this blog is only semi-anonymous, and it is certainly possible that hoards (humor me) of potential voters would come across and scour it for evidence of my suitability for election. However, I'm going to keep school committee issues out of it. I won't campaign here, and if I'm elected, this site will not be a source of news or information about school committee goings-on. It may have a piece about how it feels to me to run for office (hint: buy stock in Rolaids, friends), but it won't be anything specific. Noted and Blogged will continue to consist of reflections on family life, the news of the day, and whatever else comes along that I feel like writing, such as reviews of movies you've already seen.

We now return to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

It's International Women's Day

Are we equals?

Have I mentioned recently how much I love Daniel Craig? Or, as one of my friends put it on Facebook, "someone needs to send this to Sean Connery."

The video was produced by the Equals coalition, brainchild of Annie Lennox.

What a great thing it will be when those statistics are history.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Local politics: in which we prune a new library branch before it buds (or something)

Our town's week-to-week governing body, the Board of Selectmen, consists of seven elected volunteers with various, largely non-governmental backgrounds. The ultimate, twice-a-year governing body is Town Meeting, which potentially consists of all registered voters in town.  It is cumbersome, unwieldy, and sometimes frustrating, but it's pure democracy. You're a registered voter + you show up = you get to vote on the warrant articles at Town Meeting. Your vote will be disproportionately powerful, too, because not all eligible citizens are registered voters, and further, only a small subset of registered voters actually attend.

It has been amusing to see, over the years, how many candidates for public office have had virtually no history of attending Town Meeting or voting in town elections. I think that takes a special kind of arrogance. But I digress.

Like everywhere else, our town has no extra money these days. Budgets are being cut, cut, cut. It appears we can't afford to maintain, let alone construct, the buildings we need. (Actually, we can't afford not to maintain them, but that ship appears to have sailed. After all, it's so much easier not to spend money, look like a hero, and let the folks elected after you inherit a bigger problem. Anyone who served on previous boards and running for election again now should maybe be asked about this strategy.) 

Yet... yet. Sometimes opportunity knocks.  There is grant money available from the state to fund part of the construction cost of a new library in our town. The Library Trustees have been working on the plan for quite some time. They have the land. They have the architect.  They have the plans. They have this grant opportunity. To be eligible for the grant, they need a vote by Town Meeting to agree to accept the money, should it be offered. To get a Town Meeting vote, the issue has to be on the Town Meeting warrant.  To get on the warrant, they had to go through the Board of Selectmen.

And that's where the project died last night. Our Board of Selectmen voted not to allow the presentation of the library idea to Town Meeting, saying a new library is not a priority, and we can't afford one, and the proposed building is "over the top" in any case.

All that may be true. I just don't get why we couldn't have voted on it at Town Meeting, where the idea would pass or fail on its merits after having been considered by more of us who'd be paying for it if it went forward.

Frankly, it would have been a hard sell. Town Meeting is chock full of naysayers to expenditures of any kind. I have serious questions about the project myself, and I consider a robust public library to be a primary indicator of a healthy community. Clearly the Library Trustees faced an uphill battle to get their building project approved by the voters. Why not let them fight it? Why do the proponents not get a say in front of us all? The Selectmen wouldn't have been endorsing the project by allowing that much, and could in fact have spoken against it as private citizens, if they wanted to. They said that it would send the wrong message to approve the Trustees' request for a Town Meeting vote, but what 's wrong with the message, "let the voters choose"? 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

You're OK... and nobody's going to arrest Mommy.

Our Peanut had an upsetting Wednesday this week.

At dismissal time, her teacher reminds kids who are in chess club to go to that, while everyone else gets lined up for buses or to be signed out by their grown-up.  Yesterday the class had a substitute teacher who didn't mention chess club. The Peanut being the Peanut, and also being 6, forgot that it was Wednesday, and got on the bus to go home. Settling into their seats, another kid asked her, "Hey, where's the Bean?" The Peanut suddenly remembered she was supposed to be at chess club with her sister, got off the bus and came back inside, very upset at almost having let the bus take her away. The Bean found her crying in the hallway, and they both came to the library, where, by happy coincidence, I volunteer on Wednesday afternoons.  ("Do you have any books on cobras/war/knock-knock jokes/Yoda/President Taft?" Yes. Yes, we do.) 

Once the sobbing calmed down some (you're OK, you're OK...) we went over what to do if she hadn't realized her mistake until the bus had left school. We practiced some what-ifs and recited all the phone numbers she needs to know, and the places she knows she will be safe, and that if she ever finds herself somewhere that I don't think she is, she is to call me right away, etc. Phew.

Later, the Bean and I are making dinner and suddenly the Peanut is in the kitchen in tears again:  "Another thing? That happened at school? is that I told Avery that you let me have a sip of your wine! and he said you could be ARRESTED FOR THAT!" Poor kid clung to me as if the cops were at the door.

It's true -- the other day I'd poured myself a glass of wine, and, feeling intensely observed by two pairs of little-girl eyes, offered the offspring a sip.  Bean declined -- she'd tasted wine before and didn't care to again (it didn't seem to matter that what she'd tried was a Cabernet and this was a Zinfandel).  The Peanut accepted, took a wee sip, and rejected it as "too spicy."  That was that, and dinner continued.    

Evidently she mentioned it at school the next day and her classmate was horrified. Fortunately he's mistaken.  Sure it's against the law to buy alcohol for kids or sell it to them, but a parent is allowed to give her Peanut the occasional sip of a full-bodied red so she can see what it is. 

We got into a discussion of why there are laws about alcoholic drinks, what "drunk" means, and that they are never, ever to drive if they've been drinking or to go in a car with anyone who has.  No matter where they are, when it is, or if they've been doing something they know was wrong, we will come and get them, and we'll (try to) postpone expressing anger about any wrongdoing. 

Seems kind of silly talking to them about this when they're almost 10 years from their learner's permits, but hey.  Time goes fast, and I'll never have their ears more completely than I do now. Also there may be fewer of those years than we think.  I got loopy on beer at 14 -- a silly one-time thing that didn't become a habit, but still, it happened.  At about that same time (though not the same night), I started driving my parents' car around when they went out for the evening. Point being, parents sometimes have less time than we think to have these conversations. We will certainly be repeating a lot of them, but I think it's not too soon to start, if the subject naturally comes up - and even if the primary take-home message is that nobody is going to arrest Mommy.

In the meantime I might also explain, as long as it naturally came up, that the wine was not, in fact "spicy," but had a woodsy and pomegranate-inflected nose, balanced with traces of vanilla, complex red fruit, sandy soil, and cigar wrapper on the palate, with a trace of mineral on the elongated finish.  Or something.  See what Avery makes of that, kid.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

From the department of unfortunate street names

A man was shot to death in Hyannis on Sunday night.  This is, of course, awful, if not out-of-the-blue awful; the man had reportedly been involved in an earlier shooting of someone else, and drug trafficking is possibly involved.

(What, you thought Cape Cod was some kind of haven?  Sadly, no - though murder is pretty rare.)

In any event, for me, the shooting is made more cringe-worthy by the name of the street on which it occurred:  Fresh Holes Road.