Thursday, May 31, 2012

Innocent Until Proven Guilty??

A person DH and I know and have considered to be a friend (although not close) has been accused of... well, I'll not go into the details, but it isn't anything pleasant, and it involves a minor. This is a person otherwise considered to be an "upstanding member of the community", as the saying goes; a white collar professional, a volunteer with kids' organizations, well liked and well respected, all of that. DH heard about the accusations and subsequent arrest of this person through friends, then came home and pulled up the article in the local paper for me to see.

I am so upset about it all. Either way, it's horrible. If he's innocent and this minor and her family are looking to make a quick buck, they're doing so at the expense of this man's life and everything he's worked so hard to build. He is an entrepreneur who depends completely on his reputation and this will wipe him out financially, to begin with. It won't affect just him, either; it will devastate his family both personally and financially. His young kids are in local schools; thank goodness it's almost summer break.

False accusation is an ugly, ugly thing.

But on the other hand, if this girl is telling the truth, then he needs to be held accountable. I've been molested and I know how painful that is; this should never be swept under the rug if it's true.

But now here I am trying to decide what to do. Do I continue to interact with this man through his business (which is mainly how I know him, although DH and I spent time with him and his wife socially many, many years ago) or do I cut him off? I have no way to judge his innocence or guilt, but yet I am in a position where I have to do just that, even if only for myself. Do I believe him or do I believe this teenager?

I know that the bad guys can frequently seem like the good guys. They put on a good show, which is what they want everyone to believe, so I can't go by "well, I know him and he would never", because even someone who appears to be the most upstanding person in the world can have dark, dirty secrets. But then again, good guys can come across like, well, good guys. That's how I've always seen this man in the past- he's a good, decent person, a great dad to his kids, a loving husband to his wife, good at his job, well liked by everyone who knows him. I want to believe he is innocent, but then that would mean the girl is lying, but to falsely accuse her is ugly, too. It's awful.

Either way, I am heartbroken for all concerned.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Favorite Quotes

DH and I went to see "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" last night. It was absolutely delightful; I didn't want it to end! It's also given me a new quote to add to my favorites:

"Everything will be all right in the end, and if it's not all right, then it's not the end!"

Just love that.

And while we're talking quotes, here's another favorite; I ran across it in a magazine article a few years ago:

"...but what does it mean to lead an examined life? It means to be curious and ask questions. The reason you ask those questions is because you want to do the right thing, not only for yourself, but for the people around you as well." - Yvon Chouinard, founder, Patagonia, as quoted in Mother Earth News magazine.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Wild Child

The Wild Child was diagnosed with a reading disability and working memory problems last July. When we received the report from his testing occupational therapy was recommended to improve his fine motor skills. He also had hearing tests and that examiner recommended physical therapy for some core strength issues. (And his hearing is fine- hooray!) Following up on those recommendations has been a long process since we were focusing on his immediate reading issues first. (Which involves a LOT of time with the tutor, first in a daily summer program then following up twice a week every week during the school year.)

I finally got all the ducks in a row and he had his appointment for an occupational therapy evaluation today. To begin with, the therapist had him working at a table on things like writing, moving plastic coins from one side of the table to the other, stringing beads, and so forth. After that she got him up and moving in a gym-like area where he had to throw a ball, work on some balance activities, do push ups and jumping jacks, and so forth. While I won't get her official report for a couple of weeks, she did give me a few recommendations we can get started with, as follows:

Therapist Recommendations:
~ Karate is a good idea (thank you to my sister in law, who has been telling me karate would be good for him for a while now, which is why I mentioned it to the therapist in the first place)
~ Continue piano (he's been in lessons for several months now)
~ WRITE!! Start handwriting again; use a short crayon to force a better grip (since fine motor problems were noted in his testing last July I've let him be about writing until we could figure out what would be best for him)
~ Sit on a stability ball when working at a table (for balance and core strength)
~ Lay on the floor on tummy propped on elbows to do things (cards, games, etc.)
~ Bring in groceries (anything to build strength) (he already brings in the groceries for me most of the time so this is a "continue what he's already doing" thing)
~ Wash the car/wash the windows (use those upper body muscles)
~ Shuffle cards
~ Knead bread (anything to get his hands working)
~ Anything with pinching motions
~ Cut with scissors (holding them properly; he tends to hold them upside down)
~ “Wheelbarrow” exercise (OK, DH has to do this one with him since he's a big, solid boy)

Mentioned during evaluation and summary:
The Wild Child didn’t crawl enough as a baby since he walked at 8 months. (Toward the end of 8 months, but it was still really early.) This means he didn’t strengthen his upper body muscles the way he should have as a baby. When his larger muscles are stronger they will support the fine motor muscles and everything should fall into place for him. Therapy is recommended.

So there you have it! He'll be a busy boy this summer with 4 days a week with the tutor again and his therapy, piano, and karate. (Now I have to get him signed up for the karate, but there are a dozen different karate schools in the area so that shouldn't be an issue.) Luckily The Eldest and DH have promised to help drive him around so I won't have to be in the car constantly!

And so his file folder gets a little bigger. I took the whole thing in with me and I couldn't help wondering how many parents they see each day with fat file folders in hand. There were kids in there with issues that make his look like a walk in the park. We are so fortunate that he'll be able to overcome his challenges.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Garden Update

Way back in, oh, September I think it was, I planted some little tiny seeds. I planted a bunch of seeds for all different kinds of things. Some of them didn't grow at all, some of them grew a little, some of them grew, then stopped growing, then GREW!!! Here are the pictures, taken today, of my garden. I am doing well with cherry tomatoes, planted from seed, and collard greens, purchased as seedlings at Home Depot. The other veggies, not so much. The lettuce was always too bitter so I let it go to seed. (I haven't ripped it up since it's pretty and I don't have anything to go in that spot at the moment.) I also planted broccoli, swiss chard, and several other veggies but those never made it into the ground. I think I'm figuring out the tomatoes, though. My "lessons learned" are as follows:

1. I do well with the smaller tomatoes; I have some larger ones planted but they never ripen properly. They always split and crack before they are ready to eat. I think it's the climate- hot, then rainy, then dry, then really rainy again. The inconsistent watering and the heat are not helpful. I'll try planting the larger varieties earlier for the next season so they are fruiting during cooler weather.

2. Tomato hornworms and fruit worms like my tomato plants too, but they are easily picked off the plants and thrown into the lake for the fish. (When I can find them; they camouflage well.) I only had trouble with them for a little while though, then Mr. Toad moved in and I haven't seen one since. (I did NOT like it when Mr. Toad ate my monarch caterpillars, but he can have all the hornworms he likes.)

3. I don't know if the spiders are helping or not, but they don't seem to be doing the plants or fruit any harm so I leave them alone.

4. Over zealous watering is not a good thing. My seedlings got to a height of about 4 or 5 inches and stopped growing so I tried all sorts of things. I fertilized, I went ahead and put them in the ground, I mulched, and still nothing. I stopped watering daily and cut back to every other day and voila! They went berzerkazoid and grew like crazy, so that they are now big, huge, full, tomato producing, taller than my 11 year old plants! I get handfuls of tomatoes from them almost every day.

5. The "jelly bean" tomatoes, or grape tomatoes, are yummy and I need to plant more of those next season! They don't seem to produce as prolifically as the cherry tomatoes.

It's fun to know I planted those seeds and they are now producing food for my family. (Well, except for The Eldest, who doesn't like tomatoes.) I am raising them with absolutely no pesticides whatsoever so they are healthy and delicious. I can't wait to start seeds for the fall and expand the garden a little more. I've read that you shouldn't plant tomatoes in the same spot more than once every 3 years so I've put a large board over the area where they will go next year. That's already killed the grass without using any nasty chemicals, so now it's only a matter of putting out the border and filling it in with some good dirt. I'm hoping I'll figure out the lettuce for the next season!

The Garden, wide shot:

"Jelly bean" (grape) tomatoes and the tip of some collard green leaves:

One of the large tomatoes that, sadly, will never ripen properly:

Some green cherry tomatoes and some almost ready to pick:

The herb garden, such as it is:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Very Entertaining

The internet so totally rocks! I have 8 vintage glasses from my grandmother but I have 11 place settings of my wedding china (that match the glasses). A quick search on Google and a few clicks later I've figured out who made the glasses, the time period they were made, and about a dozen different places to buy more!! (And the 12th place setting to complete my china is out there too, if I should one day decide that's important, even though the pattern was discontinued 6 years ago.)

All of this searching for glasses and china came about after I did some entertaining recently by hosting a tea. I went all out- all of the aforementioned wedding china, all of my fancy serving dishes, several items from my grandmother, and a few new things to fill in the gaps. (Mix and match is a very good concept; I used it to full advantage.) Each china place setting includes a tea cup but I also wanted to offer iced tea (which is what everyone wound up drinking) so I pulled out my grandmother's Libbey Silver Foliage Highball glasses. With only the 8 glasses, therefore only 8 complete place settings at the table, but about 12 people in the group, I was short 4 place settings. Well, I went for it anyway. If more than 8 people showed, then the wow factor with my fancy table would be there for the early arrivals, and the late comers would get... something not so wow, but still nice. (Mix and match, mix and match!!) I am fond of everyone in the group but I was so hoping the numbers would work.

Well, I lucked out. One person (one of my dearest friends) had to leave early, then another member turned up late, so we only ever had 8 (including me) at one time. I had enough china to pull out a clean place setting and the highball glass got a wash and was good to go when the last person knocked on the door. Whew!

It was a lot of work to pull off the tea but it was so much fun to do. DH and the kids even pitched in and helped out, especially on the day of. I did as much as I could in advance; the table was set days ahead with warnings to the Wild Child not to even THINK of going by the table. I polished the silver, too- a first! I shopped for additional serving pieces, tea pots (I found two) and loose tea blends. (Which no one drank, but it is hot this time of year.) I made my grandmother's pound cake. A few of the people in the group are vegan so I also had some vegan selections for them, including delicious lemon/blueberry scones with coconut whipped "cream" to top them with. Of course there were also tea sandwiches and plenty of desserts. (Including hummus tea sandwiches for my vegan friends.) I threw in a watercress salad (thanks to DH for prepping the watercress- talk about a tedious job!) since we almost always have a salad at these gatherings, but the watercress made it British. Unconventionally, I put out a cheese tray and found a mix of regular and vegan cheeses to go on it. Deviled eggs rounded things out, since I am a southern girl. Yum!

All in all, I think it went pretty well and it was a great learning experience. I have a better idea now of what it takes to pull off something formal, and it will definitely be easier next time. When I put everything away I rearranged so that I can pull it all out more easily. Items that won't get used again (like stoneware from the 1980's in colors I don't use anymore) that were taking up valuable storage real estate are going, going, gone, leaving room to put things away properly. That was a big part of the work for this tea- just pulling things out of the awkward places they were hidden in and getting them unwrapped, washed, and ready to use took forever! I won't have to shop at the last minute for the odds and ends to complete my table, either, so that will be easier. Thanks to the internet I can even get those glasses to match my grandmother's set so I'll have enough the next time!

Here's a picture of the tea:

My china is Noritake Cumberland.

The cake plate way in the back ground on the dresser (that's supposed to go away- it was in my son's room and I've tried to Freecycle it but no one wants the darn thing) with the pound cake on it is Lenox, a 10th anniversary purchase, from their "Swedish Lodge" collection. You can't see it well in the picture but I love it so I had to mention it. (Scroll down to "footed cake plate" for a picture on the link.)

There's also a vintage cake plate, somewhat smaller so you can't see it at all, and I can't remember where I got it. My grandmother? Kevin's grandmother? Who knows, but Macy's has a "modern vintage" collection with some very similar pieces that were oh, so tempting...

Also from Macy's and a new purchase for this event, are the bowls and saucers. I used the bowls to hold jam and apple butter. (They aren't filled yet in the picture, obviously; you can see them at the bottom of the picture. One is to the left of the first place setting you see looking from the bottom up. There are a couple others to the right.) I love the elliptical shape which makes them more modern, yet they coordinate perfectly with my china.

Macy's also had a square serving platter with silver highlights that was absolutely perfect. It's covered with the lemon/blueberry scones so you can't see the pattern, but it is pretty.

And also from Macy's, a floral tea pot. (And thank goodness for sales and discounts!) (It's on the side board and not in the picture.)

I had so much fun finding these new items. I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a table cloth (I needed one that would fit with the extra leaf in the table) and found a pretty mini salt and pepper mill set too. Dillard's was next but they didn't have anything I liked so I was going to leave the mall, but at the last minute I decided to go ahead and give Macy's a try. I am so glad I did! The new serving pieces I purchased round out what I already have perfectly, and everything was on sale! It was win-win all the way around, and I'll have those pieces forever. I can set a spectacular table now- my grandmother, a wonderful hostess in her day, would be so proud. It makes me miss her, but it gives me warm feelings to remember that about her, too.