Don’t Divorce Us

Because I live in a democratic Republic, where civil rights are not majority rule, and equality is something we promise to protect in our Constitution.

Because commitment should always be supported.

Because I’m in love with my best friend, and he and I enjoy benefits by legally marrying, and others should have the same.

For my stepdaughter, my friends, my family members who should have every right to happiness, joy, and family that I have.

This.  Video.

Don\’t Divorce Us

Just a Franti Shoutout

For now, as I get ready to meet my Mockers (Mock Trial participants) for an over-the-Christmas-break practice at school (I’m sooooo cruel), just a shout-out to one of my own role models and folks-what-I-admire:  A piece about Michael Franti’s work (words, music, film) from BoingBoing.

I, too, am a Franti fan, and I, too, am reassured about the human condition by listening to his music, hearing his kindness.

More Baby!

As an addendum to a post-baby boom blog of yesterday, more baby news!

Friends of ours, Doug and Neil, are fostering a newborn baby boy, born 12/18/08 and placed in their care a day later, and hope to adopt him after six months!  They fostered a teenaged boy last year and hoped to adopt him, but with the stupid laws (he was from out of state, which was the problem) they weren’t able to.  I hope this one goes much better!

Neil and I have been friends since the Dawn of Time (okay, more like 1988 or so) and Doug since they began dating ten or eleven years ago.  Since they live in the Marshall area (Doug’s a professor here at the college), they helped us find a house when we moved here seven years ago, and I served on a city commission with Doug for a year.

Anyway, yay for more families!  As an adoptee from foster care myself (back in 1968, when I was 2 1/2 years old) placed in a non-traditional family (my parents were childless and in their late forties and told they’d make terrible parents because of it), I salute them and support them and am thrilled for all three of them!

(I’ll add a picture if I get permission from them to post it!)

In the meantime, a picture of me shortly after my own adoption.  🙂

mom and dad and me

We Two Babes of O(a)ccident Are…

Last May, two couples who are not only friends of ours, but friends of each other, both announced that they were having babies.   These babies would both be third children for each of the mothers, and both were complete surprises.  Due date for one was just before Christmas, while the other was a couple of weeks later.  The mothers joked about trying to time it so that they could be in the hospital at the same time, but we all know those plans never work out, especially over six months out.

Mischa went in on the 23rd to have labor induced–she’s had a rocky last month, and it was time.  However, like their second baby, the new one didn’t want to come into the world, and after twenty-two hours of hard labor, she agreed to a C-section.  Elliot Cooper entered the world just after 11 a.m. on Christmas Eve, joining his two big sisters, Kieran and Claire.

What we didn’t know at the time was that Sarah, from the other couple, *also* went into labor on the 23rd, and two rooms down from Mischa gave birth to a boy, and hour and a half earlier, when Malcolm joined the world and said hello to big brother Aidan and big sister Lucy.

Two good friends, two rooms apart in a largish city (60k-100k), giving birth less than two hours apart.

And *neither* couple knew the other couple was two rooms away until after both boys were born!

What a beautiful day!  I suspect Elliot and Malcolm will be friends for life!

And, for more backstory, it’s been a very tough year for both couples.  Businesses failing in the current economy, the death of a dear mother, job changes, moving, and much heartbreak.  However, in the face of a newborn, all is smiles, all is fresh.

All starts anew.

Life is stranger than fiction, at times, and all I know is that I got to hold brand new fresh babies today and ain’t much in the world can be wrong when that happens.  🙂

Welcome to the world, Malcolm and Elliot.  Find the joy, make your beauty.

Two Gifts

I’ve received two nifty Christmas gifts this past week, and both are more about the narratives than about the gifts, themselves, perhaps.

First of all, the other day after school, I stopped in at the office to get my mail from my slot.  No mail, but there was a very prettily-wrapped large, flat package, in blue paper and a bow and glittery Christmas Stockings on the label.  It said, simply, “To Ms. Olson, from Secret Santa.”

My first reaction was panic because I thought I’d somehow received an organized “Secret Santa” gift from someone and I’d not drawn a name, myself– how embarrasing!  I quickly asked Sandy, in the office, if there’d been one of those gifting parties organized this year and I missed it, and she reassured me that no, there hadn’t been…the gift wasn’t a mistake.

I looked at the writing–it looked very familiar, in one way–and suspected that it was Shuckhart, my colleague and good friend.  Justin was with me at the time, and he thought this, too, even though we’d just had dinner at the Shuckharts’ and we’d agreed not to gift this year.  We’re broke, they’re broke, I have medical bills, and they have brand-new preemie twins and more medical costs than one could wrap a mind around.

Still, I asked Shuckhart, and said, “Nope.”  In a way that I believed him.

What was the gift, you might ask?  I beautiful European-made calendar of Stockholm.  Gorgeous photos.  Text in Swedish, English, German, and Russian.  Very, very cool–and because I am a fan of Scandinavia and am Swedish myself, in heritage, I have to assume it’s someone who knows me quite well, yes?

I can’t wait to hang it up in a couple of weeks.  It’s gorgeous.  And I wish some unnamed Secret Santa out there a very happy Christmas, and I wish I could return the joy!

The second story actually began while we were dining at the aforementioned Shuckharts’ home last weekend.  We got to talking about upcoming plans, and I mentioned the beginning of March for some reason.  Justin, casually walking away so I couldn’t see his face, said, “Don’t plan anything for March First.”

I immediately ran through all my in-laws’ birthdates, my parents’, and school functions…nada.

“What’s March first?” I asked.

“Nothing.  Just don’t plan anything for it…”  Oh, he’s sneaky, isn’t he?

“Will I find out on Christmas, perchance?” I asked, getting a confirmation.  Cool!  I like surprises like this!

Now, the thing you have to know is that Justin also has a habit of never closing out of windows (or even signing out before he does close them), and I woke early the next morning to find several open web pages on the computer.  As I began closing out of them, I noticed one of them featured Greg Brown, one of my favorite musical artists, and so of course I began reading the news item.

The news item that said, in essence,  “Greg Brown to perform in St. Cloud on March 1, 2009.”

And while I can be very, very dense and slow on the uptake, this wasn’t very difficult to figure out, you know?  And while I was thrilled to find out that we were going to see Greg Brown live, I was very torn on what to do about finding the webpage.  I hate lying, even for a good reason, and I’m not very good at it anyway.  Yet, I didn’t want to ruin Justin’s Christmas Day surprise.

I tabled the decision, waiting to see if he even brought it up before Christmas.

A couple of days later, he did, while we were driving to work.  “Only a few days and you’ll know what March First is!” he teased, happily.  In a split-second decision, I decided against lying, even for a good reason. I told him what had happened.

All is well.  We laughed, he doesn’t seem disappointed that the surprise didn’t last longer than it did, and besides…we’re going to see Greg Brown in March AND I have a nice, new, Swedish calendar!

Forty Below in the Modern Age

‘Tis the season to take things for granted and go capitalist-crazy, or so I’m told.  Today, however, I’m finding myself feeling definitely pampered and Queenly because I have central heating (mostly reliable), indoor plumbing (completely reliable), and double-glazing (a bit leaky).

See, it’s 40 below zero (fahrenheit) in the wind chill here right now.  In common parlance, that’s “freaking frigid.”

This morning as I was complaining that I still had to go to work (two hours late to allow for it to warm up a few degrees for kids waiting for buses), stepping out of a nice, hot shower, I suddenly felt sheepish.  I had a warm room to step into–warmth I didn’t have to carry and burn wood, or coal, to have.  Constant, steady, reliable (except for the three furnace repairs I had done last month, ugh).

And I didn’t have to pee in a bucket or risk my skin going to an outhouse in temperatures that can freeze within seconds.

And only a few of my windows were iced over on the inside, and that’s only because the storm windows weren’t yet on (how stupid is this?) or not completely sealed (as on the storm doors).

And, after my husband left the car run for a few minutes (he had to step out for a smoke, anyway, is my rationalization for his starting it), I had a very warm (overly warm) car to step into after only a few cold steps from my warm house.

And I wondered what people did before the last few decades of princely pampering?  How did people survive here?  How *do* people survive in places with extreme temperatues but little in the way of modern convenience even today?

Now, I like winter.  In fact, I love winter.  I would never live anywhere more temperate than where I do, and I’d much prefer to be even further north.  My father, too, is a true Scandinavian who relishes the cold and abhors the humid heat of summer.

So, I’m not complaining.

But I do wonder.  I asked my father–born in 1923 in central Minnesota to a poor farming family–how he survived before air conditioning, and he said, quite honestly, “I have no idea.”  Like father like daughter, neither of us likes temperatures above 75F at any time.

But, in most cases, the summer heat doesn’t kill—the winter cold, on the other hand?

My parents have told me stories of warming rocks, or potatoes, on the hearth and putting in the foot of their beds at night.  Of having the dogs sleep with them.  Of the dread of emerging from under the covers in the morning, to a cold, unheated upstairs, with the fireplace/woodstove a full flight of stairs below, and all of this before decent insulation.

I don’t know how humans adapt to this, and I fear how weak and unable to cope we’ve become in a generation or two.

However, my fear hasn’t prompted me to sign up for any winter camping expedition in order to toughen myself up, I notice…

(And I promise to get the remaining storm windows in place as soon as it’s warm enough for the latches to move!)