Monday, June 27, 2011

Suddenly, grass.

We're still adjusting to life without the tri-maple that came down in our front yard. Brighter sunlight outlines every spider web and dirt appearing on windows and trim. (So I'm washing the outside more often.) The hydrangeas are frying in the heat and direct light. (When they go dormant this winter, I'll move them to a shadier spot.) Tomatoes are greedily soaking up the sun's energy, producing a gracious bounty for BLT's and salsa. (I'll relocate the raised bed as well this winter, creating a decorative border in its new spot in the front yard.)

And grass is popping up everywhere.

Long dormant grass seed is finally getting much-needed moisture now that the maple's roots aren't soaking up every drop. We may actually have a lawn by next summer.

It'll be serendipity if we do, because I am not Lawn Woman. I don't love grass the way my dad did. Cutting the grass is simply a way to make the yard look tidy rather than part of an all-out assault on weeds and bare patches. I love the smell of newly cut grass, and appreciate the green. But weeds are green, too. And they all blend together when they're cut, into one green canvas over the hard-packed clay.

(I also view grass cutting as exercise, mowing at a near run to see how quickly I can finish the front and back. I bet my neighbors get a kick out of the sight.)

Found this ... Looks way more fun than my cranky lawn beast.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Long distance booking.

When I drove my mother home to North Carolina Sunday, we listened to Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, an absorbing and wrenching "read by ear" about a hapless kid who did a Jack London and didn't live to tell the tale.

Chris McCandless took off after graduating from Emory University with honors. He gave away and burned inheritance and cash, and cut bonds completely with his parents and siblings. For more than two years, he lived off the land as a modern day explorer, stopping briefly here and there without staying long enough to forge any real emotional bonds. He was fearless and self-indulgent, brilliant and disconnected, hard working and quick to move on, careful and careless.
Fascinating story, zigging around McCandless' odyssey with rich details gathered by a biographer who connected the tenuous dots of McCandless' life on the road. He wraps up McCandless' story in the epilogue, as the boy's parents fly by helicopter to see where he starved to death in the Denali wilderness. Abandoned by their child, scorned by him for reasons he never explained to them, and absolutely flattened by his life and death, they were seeking answers that simply were not there.

The book ended as I approached Greenville, South Carolina on the return trip. I turned off the audio and drove in silence back to Atlanta.

By all accounts from people he met, as well as the self-portraits McCandless took, he was happy. He loved the life he chose. That's what a parent hopes for a child. But the price for McCandless' parents ... not knowing where their child was for more than two years, not understanding why he cut all bonds with them: too dear.

Quite compelling.  I'm very glad I listened to the book.

But I do NOT want to see the movie.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The first time your kid takes himself to the dentist ...

... is rather surreal. Suddenly, your kid is College Guy, perfectly capable of handling his own appointments, thank you very much.

He's handling haircuts, shopping for clothes and toiletries, picking up his prescriptions and supplements (which are legion), and living more and more of each day on his own terms.

I couldn't be happier. Or more bemused. At the same time.

Mothers remember those last few weeks of a pregnancy that seems to go on forever, to the point that all you can think about is "when is this baby going to come out!!!!" It's the same feeling with an 18 year old. You've done all the loving and tending and admonishing and nurturing until you're just plain tired of repeating yourself. At which point, it's time for that kid to get out ... already!!!!

Okay, that's an exaggeration. I like having College Guy around because he's really a nice person. Scrupulously honest. Quite funny. And very caring.

On the other hand, he's also messy, prone to staying up all night and sleeping past noon, and impervious to smells wafting from dirty clothes kicked into the corners of his bedroom. His response to "clean your room" is kicking through the clutter to blaze a path from the door to the bed.

He may be fairly typical for his age and gender., but he's my oldest - the practice kid. (Teen Girl has had a much more relaxed mother than College Guy has ever enjoyed.) So perhaps I overreact. From time to time.

I have a feeling that I'll miss that messy room when he's living on his own - even the smells.

Both of my kids loved this book ... were they just preparing me for the teen years?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Big things are happening in the Knitternall family.

College guy is heading to North Georgia, teen girl is moving up to Dunwoody High School, I'm writing for several new freelance clients, and Terry is stepping forth to serve the town that means so much to the Knitternall family.

Sneak peek here.

We hosted a large campaign committee brunch this morning, getting input from a wide range of supporters as we begin to develop logos, positioning statements, July 4th Parade essentials, and strategies. I am simply humbled by the enthusiasm and energy of neighbors and friends - so many great ideas came out of the meeting.

The campaign website will have all the details, while I continue to chronicle our slice of life in Dunwoody here on this blog.

Fall 2011 will be especially memorable for all of us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Things to do when you're not thinking.

Saw this headline in the AJC:  Jumping from bridges into lakes risky.  Um, seriously?

How about Forest Park votes to drop age limit on public breast-feeding. Micromanaging much? Pretty sure that was a no-winner for the council.

And a gem:  Weiner admits photo, won't quit.

Too much information featuring boneheaded moments in the lives of the average (and high profile) citizen. Add cable news' screaming diatribes by so-called experts and I'm just numb.

I'm more interested in the local news ... really, really local news ... for today. Such as

College Guy Returns Home from Freshman Orientation.

High School Girl Cleaned Her Room and It's Still Clean Two Days Later. 
Milk, Bread, and Dog Food Nearly Out.
Husband On Business Trip, Needs to Get Home to Kill The Huge Roach That Just Sped Through the Front Door.
Preschool Phonics Classes Nearly Full For Fall 2011. 

Scooter the Wonder Dog Still Hasn't Caught the Chipmunks Living Under the Front Porch.
Swamplandia Finally Ready for Pick-Up at Dunwoody Library.

Now that's news I can use.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sure is hot out there.

The greeting du jour, moaned by sweaty folks in grocery stores and pharmacies, office parking decks and swimming pools, dry cleaners and pet clinics, post office lines and playgrounds around Dunwoody. We're melting in this early summer heat wave, with a week or more to go before there's any relief.

Might as well have fun with it.

Never let them see you sweat.

It's wicked hot.
Alternative cooling system.
Stress sweat.

So, if we're sweating like a pig, we're actually cool and dry, right?

Don't sweat the details.
All that sweat equity we've put into our homes ... so not funny.
Don't sweat the small stuff. Or the behemoth SUV parking right against your passenger door.
Sweat lodge. Unairconditioned transportation for our kids when they head back to school in mid August.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Just because ...

Just because the federal government proclaims that no child should be left behind doesn't mean every child is capable of going to college.

One of my favorite cranky bloggers, The Other Dunwoody, today blasts education academia for its emphasis on pedagogy over content.  I agree just a bit ... I've encountered one too many teachers in the public school system who regurgitate the same tired lesson plans year after year because they fit the bureaucracy's paper trail and formulations. (Bless the teachers who figure out how to write to the form and then proceed to teach with professionalism and excellence far beyond the understanding of their administrative superiors ... and they've been the rule, not the exception, in Dunwoody schools.) A critical piece of legislation may finally get through the Georgia state morass allowing principals to fire incompetent and lackluster teachers on the basis of poor classroom skills and judgment rather than wade through years of documentation and supplication to highers up. Shuffling them to another school so they can be someone else's problem is currently the only solution available.

I also disagree, for one simple reason: the emphasis on college prep as the end all and be all of high school education leaves too many children behind, in remediation the moment they step into college, in debt because they can't keep that almighty Hope B average, and feeling less than stellar about a vocational track when they have every reason to be proud of those skills.

That isn't a teacher issue. It's another intrusive legislation from the Federal level down.

I believe in multiple tracks: college, technical, arts, so-called career, and more. If we are truly preparing every child for a life of financial independence and self-reliance, then we need to give them the tools to excel with whatever talent or passion they possess. Public (and private) education is failing the carpenters and electricians, early childhood educators and auto mechanics, multi-media electronic technicians and small business entrepreneurs, chefs and store owners, learning disabled and emotionally delayed who don't need a four-year college degree as much as they need the opportunity to explore basic skills that prepare them for a job or technical school, and then forge productive, well paying careers.

No B. A. or B. S. required.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hot times.

It's hot.

Really hot.

Superheated, humid, heavy air presses down on us, straining air conditioning systems and gardens.  Summer has shifted from February cold to August hot in just a few weeks.

Weather forecasters predict more hurricanes than usual.  A price war on seedless watermelons has broken out among Publix, Fresh Market, Wal Mart and Trader Joe's (though it's a bit surreal that $3.98 is a really low price for a watermelon).  Normally cold pool water is sun-warming much more quickly so early morning swim team practice actually feels refreshing. Pony tails stuffed through a visor have become the style du jour as hair volume wilts in the heat. Hot tempered travelers are touchier than ever (a fight just broke out on an overseas flight when one passenger fully reclined his seat). And HVAC companies can't keep up with the frantic calls from people whose A/C has broken down in the unexpected heat wave ("Your wait time to talk to a representative is .... twenty minutes.")

Summer is a Southerner's tough love season.

Particularly when it begins a month early.