Friday, June 6, 2008

5:00 Fridays

The matriarch at Chez Dirt & Noise would like to introduce a new weekly post: 5:00 Fridays!

I don't know about you, but a refreshing cocktail at the end of a long week is just the ticket to paradise I need. Even when I worked full-time (in an office, as opposed to the more-than-full-time activities of being a mom), I loved Friday happy hours with my coworkers. We toasted some positively deadly Long Island Iced Teas and fruity concoctions served in fish bowls with multiple straws. Those happy hours inevitably turned into some rug cuttin' long nights...and even even longer hangovers.

Happy hour is much tamer these days. There's no room for hangovers in our lives anymore, but that doesn't mean we can't sip a tasty treat time to time.

Without further ado, drum roll, please.....

Introducing what we like to call our family's signature drink: the Moscow Mule.

It's traditionally served in a copper cup, but unless you live in Colonial Williamsburg, I'm guessing you didn't get a set from your wedding registry. Nonetheless, we just use a highball glass here. Trust me, it's just as tasty.

2 ounces vodka (not the cheap stuff you drank in college, pony up for Absolut at the least)
1 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice (and NEVER Rose's! Only the fresh stuff, this is key.)
4 ounces good, spicy ginger ale (like Blenheim's) or ginger beer (NEVER EVER substitute ginger ale. That would make a crummy, wimpy Moscow Mule.)

Add ice and the ingredients in the specified order. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

Mmmmm....it's only 8:00 AM, but my taste buds are dancing a jig just thinking about 5:00. It's going to be 100 degrees here today so an icy, spicy, limey cocktail will be just what the mixologist ordered.

So what about you? What are your favorite summer cocktails? If you send me the recipe, I just might test it out and post it next week.


The fine minds at Momocrats have concocted a drink in honor of all the Obama Mamas out there. Add it to your happy hour round. Check it out here.
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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dry Drowning...Who knew?

This is a must read for all of you who will go swimming with your kids this summer.

I have never heard of dry drowning. This is a timely article for me since Bird starts his swimming lessons this afternoon. As if there aren't enough reasons to be paranoid and freaked out, especially when it comes to kids and water.

I wish I had a pouch to protect my boys from all of life's potential harms. Surely some will befall them, but I can live with scrapes and bumps. But really, that's about all I can take. Can you say "prematurely gray?"

Please pass this on to everyone who will be at the beach or pool with children. Keep that ever watchful eye out.
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Driven to Tears

Did I mention that Obama's speech Tuesday night brought me to tears? Literally, tears. They were streaming down my cheek, and I didn't even realize it. I don't know if it was his message or the enormity of the moment I was experiencing, absorbing. The unreal heft of the occasion possibly came over me. I can't even blame hormones for the display. Mac Daddy was likewise moved, as he watched entranced.

Bird and Deal know who Obama is. They get all atwitter when they see the Obama logo. Of course they know what a logo is; their mother is a marketer. They know Hillary too. We're trying to mask our true feelings for her and simply tell them we like Obama more because he will do more to ensure a bright future.

Then I let as much venom flow about John McCain as preschoolers can handle. That amounts to something like, " We don't think McCain cares about the earth and its children. He wants to keep soldiers away from home in a dangerous place. John McCain is not going to be nice to America."

Now Deal sees any old geezer guy, and yells, "Mommy! Mommy! John McCain! We don't like him." That's all well and good until he starts shouting it at the post office or coffee shop. I suppose it's easier for my kids to tell Obama and Hillary apart from other people. McCain is just any old guy. Ah, the knowledge of children never ceases to amaze me.
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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Give me an O! B! A! M! A!

I am doing a wild, maniacal jig right now! My heart is thumping. My arms are flailing. My whole being is atwitter. And yet, I am speechless. Awestruck. Star struck. Proud. Humbled. Energized. Inspired.

I would be remiss to not write about history in the making tonight. I will remember forever and always where I was when Barack Obama became the Democratic Party presidential nominee. I’ll have to embellish the story a bit for Bird and Deal, considering I am sitting on my ass, laptop burning my lap, on my leather couch that is hot and sticky on this humid June night, cat hair flurrying about with a fat cat purring loudly and getting in the way of each keystroke. I feel like I should at least swipe on some lipstick or something to mark the occasion. Mac Daddy and I have champagne ready to pop. Tiffany crystal glasses ready to toast. OK, so we don’t generally need much reason to drink champagne since we keep a few bottles stocked and chilled at all times. But tonight is different. In a word, MOMENTOUS. We’re stoked and extraordinarily proud tonight. For the first time in a very long time, oh say, like 8 years, we feel like our fellow citizens did not let us down.

It’s always so demoralizing in business to see the fat cats getting fatter. I see this in my consulting business everyday. It seems that the folks making strides and making money are all assholes. Obama represents a change of tide. The good guy finally prevailed. Integrity finally won. Fingers crossed that the honeymoon continues through November.

As my loyal readers know, I campaigned and volunteered my heart out for Obama in North Carolina. His overwhelming victory over Clinton was more than a notch in my belt. It was a wake up call that yelped louder than a horny rooster in spring. North Carolina, a traditionally conservative state that still struggles with race relations, raised its hand to vigorously support Barack Obama. I met many a Republican who changed her voter registration to vote in the Democratic primary just to cast a vote for Obama. I met many a first time voter, ranging in age from 17 to 79. North Carolina is actually poised to be a potential swing state. The fact that Obama has a real shot at carrying this red state speaks volumes to his appeal, message, and plan.

I am ready, willing, and able to start campaigning for November. My buddy Will, of video fame (No, not the Paris, Lindsay, Pamela kind of video!), and I have some ideas brewing. Stay tuned for more… My sleeves are rolled up; I’m ready to get to work!

It is rare that we actively live and acknowledge history as it is happening. Indeed it is a privilege. Sure, we all live history every single day, leaving our own DNA and footprint on something that is worthy of the history books. We generally stumble through life oblivious to the historical impact of our actions and decisions. Posterity is an outdated concept, stuff that our grandparents and great aunts are made of. We live at a lightning fast clip and wrongly think that only technology and celebrities make history. The next generation will be asking “Britney who?” while Barack Obama will be a political superstar, and this year’s race will still be the bar against which all other campaigns are measured.

Only in America.

This is why my parents moved us here, leaving their own home and country 39 years ago. This is what makes America unique, casteless (albeit in theory), the real land of opportunity. The melting pot is alive and boiling. We all have reason to be proud tonight. Take a moment to drink in the history. Savor the weight of what our country is experiencing. Consider this: 50 years ago Obama would have ridden on the back of the bus. Now he is running for leader of the free world, hyperbole fully intended.

Obama has inspired legions of citizens of all ilks to participate in the system, flawed as it might be. He has single handedly reintroduced pride, citizenship, and patriotism to what has become this sickly nation of ours. And now he is charged with healing the ailing Democratic Party…in just a few, short months. A tall order for an upstanding man. Obama makes me want to stand tall as a proud American again. Granted, I’m only five feet tall so I mean this entirely figuratively. After the last presidential election Mac Daddy and I went to Paris. Friends made us sandwich boards to wear that read, “I voted for John Kerry.” No need to be on the defensive now. Dang, it feels good to be part of a winning team! Paul Wellstone would be proud.

As the mother of biracial children and a minority myself, I feel a special kinship to Obama. Perhaps I am living vicariously through him since I cannot be President. He represents all that my boys can accomplish. I grew up with dolls that did not look like me. Role models that did not look like me. Storybooks replete with blond hair blue eyed girls. Magazines with nary a minority in sight. Brown girls like me weren’t smart or pretty or worthy. At least that’s what social messages would have led me to believe. The world is an entirely different place now. Bird and Deal will grow up in a society with more than two colors of the Crayola box. They will see a minority president lead our nation at a time that will mark the early years of their long-term memory. They will remember this man, this bastion of American-ness. They’ll have their Yes We Can! T-shirts as mementos of their small role in his success . Hopefully the anointing of Barack Obama will be the beginning of a long life of civic duty for Bird and Deal.

And yes, I am confident Obama will win in November. It’s his time. It’s our time.

Barack Obama, I salute you.
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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fugitive Fear

We were awakened by shushing voices murmuring in hasty clips last night. There were distinct voices coming from the garage. Though we were, ahem, otherwise occupied, we were distracted by the voices that were right outside our bedroom window. Then the sirens started. Then the lights flashing. More sirens. More lights. Neighbors' dog barking. "We should get dressed," Mac Daddy and I said in a rather delayed, startled manner.

We checked the boys and worked our way downstairs to ensure everything was securely locked, silently acknowledging the recently added chain locks and motion detectors. The police cars kept coming. Sirens still blaring. Dogs still howling. Then out of the pitch black a spotlight shines up our front walk. Mac Daddy and I froze, he more brave than I, since I was literally hiding behind him, thankful for his 6'2 frame. Ding Dong. Ding Dong. We stood there, unsure what to do. Movie montages flickered through my mind. WWJLCD? That's "What would Jamie Lee Curtis do?" for you Halloween neophytes. Then the spotlight pointed straight through the (glass!) front door. I saw a face peering in, hands framing the eyes so he could see in. Eyes frantically flickering about. Right. Left. Right. Left. I didn't move a muscle, and had I not just peed, there would have been a puddle at my feet. Mac Daddy approached the door gingerly. As he got closer, the face was peering at us more and more intently. Not moving. Not talking. Just staring. Glaring. At us. Our little boys, asleep upstairs. Our sweet, innocent children curled up in their new Superman jammies, each clutching his teddy.

More montages played out in my mind. Damn, I wish I didn't have a slasher movie phase back in high school.

Mac Daddy flicked on the porch light in a hurry, and we jumped back a step, or four, or five. It was our neighbor, John, neighborhood watch dude extraordinaire, at the door. He had come to explain the sirens and ensure we were OK. That's the kind of guy John is. He's uber equipped for any emergency and would drain his own blood into a flask if it would save you from distress. John certainly had cause for alarm last night.

Fugitive on the loose! IN OUR PRISTINE NORMAN ROCKWELL NEIGHBORHOOD! I can honestly say that the word "fugitive" has never entered my vernacular, unless you count 1993 when my friend Pat made me see the movie.

Aw CRAP. This stuff doesn't happen in our parts. We chose a sleepy neighborhood in an inconsequential city for a reason. It was a nice change of pace from the paranoia of Chicago post-9/11. And while we are neither scared nor paranoid, we like it here, sleepy and inconsequential as it is.

Mac Daddy and I hunkered down and went upstairs to be with the boys, who were thankfully obliviously dreaming in a blissful slumber. They sure would have dug the police action though. When we heard a police officer shout, "Hands behind your head!" and "Cuff 'em!" we knew it was safe to peer out. That's the crap I expect to hear in a movie theater action thriller that my stepdad watches, not in my own backyard. Clint Eastwood and Denzel (who needs no last name) say stuff like "Cuff 'em!" A cuff to me is lovely arm candy, the perfect minimalist accessory to a simple tank dress in summer. I suppose that tells you that kinkiness is not my thing. Nonetheless, I don't think anyone has been handcuffed in my hood before, except for those who are into that sort of thing by choice. Oh, and I have my suspicions who those folks are!

It turns out there was a mega drunk driver pulled over up the road. He blew a .23, thrice the legal limit. Said drunk and menace on the road also had a revoked license. Imagine that. The idiot thought it would be better to slip away and run for it than face the music. Granted, he was not thinking rationally. He was apparently a fast bugger, running on adrenaline alone. Or maybe he had a case of Red Bull and vodka (GAG). After a 15 minute chase, weaving in and out of our yards, a cop tackled the guy. And off he went. Handcuffed. Sobering up pretty quickly.

Our neighbors don't need a reason to converge outside on a warm night, and we certainly don't need more conversational fodder. However, the fugitive of 5/31 still had us whopping it up today. That kind of excitement generally passes us by. And we like it just fine that way.

But you know what kept me up all night? The moms and dads who live in constant fear everyday. The nameless souls paying the price for irrational wars waged or policies and a social caste system stacked against them. The ones who can't afford to sleep with even one eye shut. What about the working folks in the rough neighborhoods of Detroit, St. Louis, and Flint, the cities bearing the title of most dangerous cities in the United States? What about war ravaged regions in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Kashmir, and Afghanistan? Those children, who learn fear from a tender young age, go to sleep in a state of fright every single night. Safety is a luxury. I felt a heavy, heavy heart last night thinking what it must be to fall asleep worried for your children's well-being every night. During the most vulnerable hours of the day. Night time. When the world should be at rest. At peace. When dreams should wrest power from nightmares.

Last night I said a prayer for all the moms, dads, and children asleep in homes less comfortable, less secure, less stable than mine. I will continue to add those nameless families to my prayers. I experienced but a moment of fright last night. A life lesson no less.
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