Monday, December 31, 2012

Road Daughter: No O'Clocks

Everyday this break, I've been asking the Lone Star Girl what she learned in her driver's ed class.  Everyday, she replies with some sensible cautionary topic, like not drinking and driving or distracted driving.  Today, I asked her if she was learning any sort of technique in the class time, like how to hold the steering wheel.  She said yes.  I asked her which clock positions her hands were supposed to be in.  She laughed at me and said that they did not teach it that way because no one uses clocks like that anymore. 

Yep - I'm old.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Review

As 2012 wanes, I can look around me this minute to see most of what I need to know about it and us:

The Lone Star Girl is blow-drying broken crayons into some sort of art with occasional help from her sister.  

I am preparing to teach tiny little Girl Scouts about girls all over the world (and cookies...) and how we can change the stories around us and make them better for the whole world.   

Lone Star Pa is cleaning out space in the garage so that the Lone Star Girl can keep doing some of her Larger Scale art out there and the  Lone Star Baby can play foose (sp.?) ball and other table top games (recently gifted by our next door neighbor who insists on going all empty nest and getting rid of stuff and moving stuff out to a retirement home on us, as if we are ever letting them leave) with her friends.

The animals are eating carrots.  There is a globe on the kitchen table. There are piles of drawings and school papers and art supplies and books and games everywhere.

My house has evolved to be the perfect environment for fostering creative, compassionate  young people.  We have mad skills that way.  Truly.  We are a rocking organic medium.  We are blessed.

You want to foster anything else?  We really can't get past the mess to help with that; sorry.  I may send the child to a Montessori school and love Montessori education and all but do not send the organized Montessorians over here - there is no beautiful order here, no place for everything, no spare, uncluttered lines.  We have our limits.  We are what we are - this is what we've got. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

On Targeting Children

I am really distressed by this article by Richard Dreyfuss in The Nation.  I know that Lt. Col. Carrington did not exactly mean that he thought the military should actively target Afghan children - but it was close enough. Far, far, far too close to be anything but evil.  We need to get out of there. 

Lone Star Ma Issue #11 Call For Submissions

Call For Submissions - Lone Star Ma #11

Calling for submissions for Issue #11 of Lone Star Ma:  The Magazine of Progressive Texas Parenting And Children's Issues!!!
For this issue, we are looking for feature articles on the effects of lax enforcement of environmental standards on children in Texas.  We are looking for articles on how the Right-Wing War on Women affects mothers and children.  

Specific other topics we might be interested in:  social services funding in Texas, education in Texas, urban farming for busy families, the Texas State Board of Education, libraries, sex education, breastfeeding, safely avoiding insect-borne tropical diseases.  

We also accept essays on mothers' lives and do accept articles on other themes as well if they strike our fancy, so send whatever you think we should consider and we will ponder it.   Please see the general submission information at for guidelines and please consider submitting to our various departments, as well. 

Lone Star Ma wants poetry.  Lone Star Ma wants mama fiction.  Lone Star Ma wants brilliant articles. What have you got? 

The deadline for submissions has been extended to  February 2nd.  

Raise your voices. 

xo, Lone Star Ma

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bad News For Las Brisas, Good News For Corpus Christi

This December the EPA issued a letter to the developers of Las Brisas. The letter identified many problems in Las Brisas' application for a federal Clean Air Act greenhouse gas permit, which would be required in order for Las Brisas to begin construction.  

The EPA will require a great deal of additional information from Las Brisas before issuing a permit, and even asked if Las Brisas would need to redesign the proposed plant to be in compliance with recent court rulings.

Basically, we are in good shape.

Carbon Standard Stands

In early December, a United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed challenges to the EPA's proposed carbon pollution standard.

Good news.

I hope that there will still be people at the EPA to champion those standards.  Even in the midst of good news, it looks kind of bleak without our erstwhile hero Al Armendariz or Lisa Jackson, who just announced her resignation.

May we all work to reduce our carbon emissions in 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'm Ready To Talk About Guns

I couldn't talk about it at first, for my own sensitivity and that of others, for the sacred silence of the grief, for the things that can never be said again for so many mothers...but I am ready to talk about it now.

I should start by saying that I do not believe that American public policy will ever in my lifetime or several generations after mirror anything like my personal feelings about guns.  I am a Quaker - a pacifist.  I am a vegetarian, a non-hunter.  I personally think the whole world would be a lot better off with no guns, period.  That's me, though.  I know that is not what America wants.  We are a democracy and, so long as basic human rights are respected, we go with the majority.  I do not expect the majority of America to agree with my feelings about violence and killing - not at all.

I think the majority of America is ready for some very big changes, though.  I think that the majority of America and I can agree that a ban on automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles and most definitely a ban on high capacity magazines is the right thing to do.  No one needs those things - not for hunting and not to protect their families.  No one uses those things for anything but recreation and mass murder and, frankly, their recreational value is not worth the cost.  

I am tired of hearing that such bans are useless because criminals will still obtain things illegally.  Mass murders are not generally committed by your average criminally-minded person.  They are committed by people whose humanity has snapped in some way and become twisted up.  No one knows when a person might find themselves outside the limits of their own sanity.  It needs to be harder for those who are so badly broken to gain access to tools of mass murder.  It needs to be hard for anyone to gain access because no one can truly predict who will snap.  People are simply not strong enough to be trusted with such destructive things - our species has proved this again and again and again, especially here, in America, where such weapons are so easy to get.

Second amendment - blah, blah, blah.  No one argues that the second amendment means that people should be able to have their own personal nuclear arsenals.  Everyone acknowledges that some things are too dangerous for individuals to own.  The second amendment does not tell us which things those are - we, as a society, must decide together.  

I think we should decide that automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles and, especially, high capacity magazines, are things that are too destructive for individuals to own, things that must be banned for the sake of our children.  Our children must always be more important than intellectual abstractions - always.  I hope Congress agrees.  If they don't, we need a new one, because America agrees.  Now.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

My research on the origins of Boxing Day has resulted in many theories but nothing solid.  I think it's for lazing around watching Dr. Who.

The industrious Junior Woman, however, is building a roller coaster today.  Her physics teacher manufactured (through physics, I suppose) a loophole in the principal's edict that no homework be given over the break, calling it an extension of a project that should have been finished already, although none of the class had been able to finish the project in the class time allotted before break, and although completing it over the break required disassembling all the work they had already finished in order to get it home.  None of the Lone Star Girl's group is in town for the break, so she is nobly building and testing this roller coaster alone.  She also has art homework.  The perils of an IB education.

We definitely need some Dr. Who.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


While I was questing longer than I meant to today, the Lone Star Girl made all the Christmas cookies with what help she could get from her sometimes interested little sister.

Later, the Lone Star Baby went Kris-Kringling the cookies with me, her red-gold hair flying as she snuck through the night in boots and a blue sundress to place cookie gifts on the porches of neighbors and run away as if she might be caught and clipped of wings invisible but oh-so-seen.

The Labyrinth And The Hero's Journey

Sometimes when I walk the labyrinth inlaid in the church floor, the turns are coils of intestines that will spill out no matter how one tries to fold them back inside.  Sometimes they are the bend of the uterus or the doubling back of a neural tube that will blossom into embryonic life.

I am no hero in my journey, never one of those who always seems to know where to go and what to do.  Always I stumble my way through, fairly clueless, love my only gift and it a gift I never can stretch to the people I feel I should spend it on and a gift that makes people frankly uncomfortable, anyway.

I am no hero in my journey but I am the journeyer, and I must meet all the archetypes even if I have no weapons or cleverness with which to defend myself.

Every year I make the winter pilgrimage to honor the women who have guided me without the ties of blood or genes.  This is symbolized by taking a bag of cookies and oranges to a former boss who still lives in town and who cared for me well when I was a young woman working hard for a cause.  On the way, the archetypes crowd in to meet me and leave messages I must puzzle over all the years after, trying to grow.

First:  "Ma'am, Ma'am!"  The car pulls up behind me as I walk along.  I try to ignore it but he keeps calling so I whirl around, projecting fierceness.  The man in the truck reminds me that he works for my uncle - do I need a ride anywhere?  I apologize for my fierce look and thank him, tell him I do not need a ride, exchange holiday greetings and walk on.  I must walk alone.

Next:  I meet a giant archetype.  The woman who lived next door to me when I was six and my mother just re-married and pregnant and when my new sister was a baby.  The woman who took me into her days and showed great patience and love to me when my house was filling up with relationships that had to lessen time for me, at a time of great transitions for me.  She gave me a kitten (she had a lot of cats) that I kept until my daughter was born, after which the cat died, her work complete, at an elderly 17.  Now the woman is 75 and she looks great and talks to me for a long time.  She tells me dire stories of what became of all our neighbors.  I feel lucky but sad for everyone else.

Then:  Walking past that house I lived in at six, my former landlady's daughter lets me pass her dog, a danger avoided.

Next:  I walk past a friend's house.  The lights are on and the door is open.  I do not want to disturb.  I wonder if they will see me pass or not.  They do not, although I find an old man dozing in a car parked in front of their house.  I ask him twice if he is okay and he finally waves me on vacantly.

Then:  A bald man glares at me like a cyclops but lets me pass to the block of my destination.

I call my husband to come meet me on my way back with the car because my long conversation lengthened the journey and I will not be able to walk home before dark. Maybe I do not have to walk alone?

The house:  I find it - blue shutters -  walk up to the door, see the place mat that says "Joy" every year and leave my offering, then turn back for home.

My husband finds me on the road and makes me go to Dollar Tree with him - a penalty for not walking alone but also a lesson about sharing.

I will study the messages....

(Also, I'm pretty hopped up on allergy medicine.)

First Day School: Simplicity Testimony & Christmas

Today was a lovely Meeting with long-traveling Friends back again.  

In First Day School, we finished up our "unit" on the Simplicity testimony by finishing up our reading of Thee, Hannah!  and discussing the lesson that Hannah learned about what the simplicity she so struggled with could mean to others.  We discussed how the Simplicity testimony shines in the Whos of Whoville in the story How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  Then I read the seasonal parts of L'Engle's The Glorious Impossible while the Lone Star Baby drew a picture of Baby Jesus in the manger surrounded by friendly beasts, snowflakes and the Star.

Some Friends may come for Christmas dinner!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Carols And Little Girls!

Yesterday, we took the Brownie/Daisy troop Christmas caroling (bilingual caroling, even) at a local nursing home.  We go every year, but usually just our little troop.  This year, I invited all the other troops in town to join us and a lot of girls showed up.  It was really sweet.  The song list was:
  • Cascabel
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Noche de Paz
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas and
  •  Feliz Navidad. 
The girls passed out little ornaments they had made after they sang. I was proud of our girls and proud of myself for getting others involved.

Today, The Lone Star Baby has a couple of little friends over to play so it is still little girl time!
I wish that Benadryl did not make me as woozy as I am feeling so I could enjoy all of this even more, but it is lovely, even through the fog.


Friday, December 21, 2012


They lit their candles
In the cold
To drive away the darkness
And everywhere the evergreen
The cold, fragrant air illuminated by
The winterfires
Boughs of pine hung on every home
For the powers that walk
The sleeping earth
The people with song and dance
Do light the trees and pray
(and pray)
These short and quiet days of snow.

An Open Letter To the Cedars Trees of Austin, Texas

Dear Cedar Trees,

You are really pretty - at least that's what I think when I'm all woo-wooed out on the Zyrtec and Benadryl that you necessitate.  Wherefore is it that you hate me?   Why must it always be December, a time of festivities and singing, when you drop all of your pollen and send it flying South, via the winds, on vacation to Corpus Christi?  

You know that Corpus does not like you.  Very few of your brethren have managed to settle here.  I am not trying to be mean, but we don't want your pollen here.  It makes us hoarse and boogery and sickly.  I tried living in Austin and I left, partly because of you.

I'll visit.  I promise.  (Not in December, though.)  Just keep your sneezy self in Austin where you belong, please.  Thank you.

Riah of the Cedar Allergies

Road Daughter

The Lone Star Girl has driver's ed. every single day this winter break except for Christmas Day.  It's all classroom stuff for now, so you should still be safe on the roads. 

She'll be permitted soon but I anticipate a long wait until she actually gets licensed, based not only on needing to make sure that plenty of practice happens first, but also on preliminary car insurance quotes.  With no car anywhere in her near future, it does not make sense to incur a huge monthly payment that we cannot afford when we need to be saving for IB tests and dorms.

Still - a big step!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Virtual Holiday Greetings

I love you all very much.  I am sorry to say that I am not going to be making the whole Christmas card thing happen this year.  My original kid-crafty Christmas card plan was struck down by the kid who was not feeling crafty and I did not manage to implement a replacement plan soon enough.  Hopefully, I will do better next year.

Love and Peace and Joy to everyone this holiday season and always.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Long Nights Blessing

Last night, the Lone Star Baby asked to sleep in our bed.  She rarely does this these days, so I usually trust that she should when she asks.  The full-size bed, though, is not really big enough for the three of us anymore.  In the night, I awoke and realized there was tooth fairy business still to be done so I got up and did it.  In the night, the Lone Star Girl came tapping my shoulder that she was sick with a stomach bug.  In the night, I ended up in the Lone Star Baby's bed for lack of space in mine.  There was not much sleep happening on my end, overall.

Tonight, when we got home, the Lone Star Baby and I made Christmas tree-shaped beeswax candles and some rolled beeswax candles for the Lone Star Baby's teachers.  Like all sounds-good craft ideas in my world, it took muuuuuuchhhhh longer than I had anticipated.  Now the Lone Star Baby is sleeping in our bed again while I finish getting things ready for tomorrow.

I don't think I could be any more lucky with my life.  I am so, so deeply grateful for these long and sometimes sleepless nights, which I do not always appreciate as I should.  Truly, they are the best, most brimful blessings in all the worlds.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Coventry Carol

There are no words for Friday's tragedy, only silent grief and prayers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's The Economy, Baby

It's hard for me to remember in my morning car life that I want things other than coffee or NPR, but I try.  On most car mornings, though, no matter what else I am managing, coffee and NPR will be part of it.  Due to this, my car mostly companion, the Lone Star Baby, has been hearing a lot about the fiscal cliff lately.  

Unless NPR is being unusually gruesome, I usually assume that the Lone Star Baby is doing something else back there in her booster seat - eating a taco, reading Harry Potter, completing a word jumble or an activity in a tween activity book - and not really listening to Morning Edition, as this is generally the case.  She surprises me sometimes, though.

Lately, she's been asking a lot about the fiscal cliff - about tax rates and sequestration, Medicare and Medicaid, good trades and bad trades.  She wants terms explained and wants to know my opinion on various aspects.  She wants to weigh the pros and cons as she sees them.  These are good conversations to be having with my eight-year-old; it is heartening to observe her diligent efforts to become an informed member of the electorate someday.  I'm proud of her.

(And NPR rocks.)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

My Girl's Effect (And The Business of Bake Sales)

I am so proud of all that my Girl is doing in the Girl Effect Club she started at school as a take-action project after the WAGGGS Girls' World Forum she attended this past summer.  She and other girls at her school do various projects to raise money and other sorts of donations for girls in developing countries, usually through joining efforts of existing organizations, but a variety of them.

She organized a soap drive to gather donations of soap that an organization called Clean The World would distribute in developing countries   She had the four high school classes compete:  my Girl bestowed, at a pep rally,  to the class that collected the most soap the Class-That-Cares Spirit Stick (which she made).

She organized a trick-or-treat for UNICEF drive in all the classrooms at the high school.

They have recently been having bake sales for Heifer and she's been baking up a storm.  When I noticed that she had glazed the sugar cookies she made and remarked on how nice they looked, she told me that glazed sugar cookies sold at twice the rate of non-glazed sugar cookies.  She then added that snowflake-shaped, glazed sugar cookies sold slightly better still but not at a high enough return to make up for how much longer they took to make - the regular glazed cookies were the sweet spot.

A teacher who was supervising her club told her that some business would be so lucky to have her someday. Then the teacher realized who she was talking to and said - well, some non-profit organization will be.

That's our Girl.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Last night, the girls left their shoes out under the Christmas tree.  Today, they found that St. Nicholas had come and left little gifties for them.  The Lone Star Girl found a set of sharpie fabric markers in her shoe and the Lone Star Baby found a set of holiday smencils (scented pencils) in hers.  They are pleased.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Last night, we went to Harbor Lights, the annual festival of lights that kicks off the Christmas season here in Corpus Christi.

Today, we had a family portrait taken for the first time in forever.  After that was Meeting.  In First Day School, we are still studying the Simplicity testimony and reading Thee, Hannah!.

At home this afternoon we rolled  Advent candles out of purple and pink sheets of beeswax (I love the tiny hexagons - they make me feel all queen of every hive, womb of every holt and stuff).  Now we need to light the first candle over dinner and later we will turn to our Advent calendars and moving our Magi down the hallway a bit.

What are your holiday traditions?