Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gender vs. Sex

. . . or why words are important.

If you've seen the news this week, you've probably heard about the family that intends to raise their third child to be genderless.  They don't plan on disclosing the baby's sex, they gave it a neutral name and will dress it ambiguously.  This is disturbing on so many levels.

One that just struck me as I was writing the above paragraph is how I referred to the baby - it - as if this child is a thing.  We don't even refer to our pets in this manner.  I have a dog, Jack, that when talking about him, I'll tell you what he did.

Which leads me to the next thing that bothers me about this whole discussion - the use of the words sex vs. gender.  When a human is conceived, its 23rd chromosome either is XX and therefore a female, or XY, and is a male.  That, and only that, determines this human's sex.  We are born one or the other.  Gender, on the other hand, is the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.     

There are gender traits that are traditionally male and ones that are traditionally female, which are often defined by society, but more often created by our capabilities.  Men tend to be be the protectors, the providers, the leaders.   By virtue of their male physicality they are more capable of this.  Women more often than not are the nurturers, the caretakers, the multitaskers.  It's what we are good at. 

Given that gender is a collection of traits that define a person, it seems to me that there aren't just two,   there's an infinite spectrum between the girly girl and the macho man.  Being at one end doesn't eliminate a person's likes or capabilities along that continuum.  But by making gender irrelevant, it makes sex relative.   Who needs male and female when either sex could be masculine or feminine?  Or neither?  A woman could be a feminine partner to a man, a feminine partner to a woman, a masculine partner to a man.   

There has been a slow but continual erosion of our language.  And along with those changes comes an attempt to change societal norms.   It kind of makes you wonder what's next.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Quick Takes (7)

- 1-
I used to hate polyester clothing.  At least until I discovered that they finally make it cute and stylish.  And you don't have to iron it!

- 2 -
I used to be a morning person.  Then I got married and DH started working 2nd shift.  So I became an evening person.  Then I got a dog.  Guess what?  I'm a morning person again.

- 3 -
Does anyone use Goodreads?  I discovered something about it a couple weeks ago.  On the Explore page there's a place for give-aways.  New and no-so-new authors give away copies of their newly released books.  I've entered a bunch of the drawings and have won six books!  Like Mary Chapin Carpenter sings, "I'm Feeling Lucky."  Bought a lottery ticket last night.  Hope the luck keeps going.

- 4 -
We planted a new tree on Tuesday, between the raindrops.  It's a Parrotia Persica, or Persian Ironwood, tree.  So far it seems to be a sturdy little tree.  It withstood a pounding rainstorm last night that even included some hail.

- 5 -
So, into every life a little rain must fall.  Or in our case, a lot of rain.  But we were treated to a beautiful double rainbow last night.  Rianbows always seem to me like God's promise that it will get better.

- 6 -
Anyone else rooting against the Miami Heat?  I know it's petty, but I'd just rather not see LeBron get a championship his first year away from the Cavs.  It's kind of like rubbing salt in the wound.

- 7 -
"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
— G.K. Chesterton

Don't forget to check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dumber Things, Part 2

My guess is that most married couples have sayings and a language all their own.  One of ours, as I've mentioned before, is I've done dumber things.    I suppose life would be pretty boring if I didn't goof up now and then.  Here's my latest one:

My trusty little Saturn just turned 100,000 miles.  I was on the highway, at rush hour, and did what every intelligent, safe driver would do.  I took a picture.  And when the first one didn't come out, I took another. 

I've done dumber things!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho. . .

. . . it's back to work I go!  Tomorrow it's back to reality and my little cube solving the world's IT problems.  Okay, maybe just my little portion of my little project of my little company's IT problems.
This week was wonderful.  It was vacation week for us.  We didn't have perfect weather.  In fact, it rained quite a bit.  But I got a few things done, I had some fun, and I just got to be.  I sat on the patio with my sweety and watched the world go by.  Time is such a gift and I was certainly glad for it this week.

On the get things done list I made some progress. I did a lot of weeding and some mulching.  I went through clothes and got bags packed up for Salvation Army.  And I made myself a pretty necklace. 

Fun?  Let's see.  Dad and I made it out to Cedar Point on Tuesday. (See #2 of Quick Takes).  Thursday DH and I went on a hike and out to lunch.  We pretty much had the towpath to ourselves.  It was nice.  Other than the birds singing and the rushing waters of the nearby river, it was quiet and peaceful. 

On Friday we took a drive down to Amish country.  Ohio has the largest Amish population in the US and there's a lot to see and do.  It really is beautiful in any season, but I think spring is my favorite.  There are rolling hills and beautiful vistas almost any where you look.

Lehman's Hardware is always fun to browse and I've gotten some of my best, and pretty inexpensive, bakeware there.  Stopping for cheese at Heini's is a must.  They have the best butter there too.  Puts the grocery store stuff to shame! 

We did something different this time.  We stopped an Amish petting farm.  What fun!  When we first got there, this goat wandering around the parking lot.  She escaped from greener pastures.  Silly girl!

So, we were treated to a front row seat of a new sport - Amish goat wrestling.  This older Amish man and young woman heaved her up and over the fence.  It was kind of funny to watch.  Isn't there a gate around here somewhere? 

There's a ramp by the barn that lets the goats go up on the roof.

For a doller, you can buy a cone with goat chow in it and then put it on the conveyor belt.  Crank the wheel and up it goes.

The goats wait in eager anticipation of a tastely treat.

Waiting. . .


I want to know who came up with this idea and why.  It's not everyday that someone thinks "Hey, let's let the goats walk on the roof and feed them by conveyor belt!"

They have other animals besides goats.  The horse here is Big Ben.  He weighs over 3,000 pounds!  That's DH petting him.  He's 6'2" so that gives you an idea just how large this animal is.  He is beautiful and so gentle!

I thought these roosters were beautiful.  They have such pretty markings.

This goat stole my heart.

This little one was just one day old!

Can you tell I like goats?  Some day I'm gonna have me some goats for pets.  Someday. . .

Me, looking for my next photo op.

After all the excitement of the of the petting farm we drove down to my very favorite fabric shop.  It's one of those places that if you can't find it there, you're not going to find it.  They have the best selection of Batik I've ever seen.  We were hunting down browns and golds and oranges for our next frayed quilt project.  Parking was pretty limited and we had to share the lot.

Sigh! It was a good week.  A very good week.  Can't wait to do it again.

Sunday morning thoughts

I don't know why the saying Cleanliness is next to Godliness popped into my head this morning, but it did.  Other than our souls, does God really care how clean we are?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Quick Takes (6)

- 1-
Rain, rain, go away.  Don't come back 'til after May!  To say we've had a lot of rain is an understatement.  Only hafway through May and we're already an inch and a half above average.  And more is predicted in the coming week.  It seems like it's all everyone can talk about.  Lawns aren't getting mowed.  Fields aren't getting planted.  And people are really cranky.  Really.

- 2 -
In spite of the precipitation, Dad and I made it out to Cedar Point on Tuesday.  We can now say summer has officially started, for us.  Because of the wind a lot of rides didn't open, but it was a perfect day for me anyhow.  We rode my favorite, Millenium Force, three times.  I love that ride.  It's fast.  It's smooth.  And it makes me giggle.

- 3 -
Much mulch.  That's what I have.  I had five yards delivered yesterday that I need to start spreading.

- 4 -
Has anyone seen my green folder?  I can't find it for anything.  It's got all my writings and poems from grade and high schools.  There's no way I would have thrown it out.  I am so bummed about loosing it.  If you think of it, say a prayer to St Anthony for me.

- 5 -
Does anyone make lists?  I always have some sort of "to do" list going.  It's either for the day, the week, or like now, for vacation.  I'm finding this habit to be both good and bad.  It's good in that I have a memory like an iron sieve, I am pretty forgetful.  There's the sense of accomplishment when I cross something off it.  On the bad side, it reminds me of all the things that I had wanted to do but didn't get done.  Maybe I just shouldn't make them so long.

- 6 -
Do any of you use GPS?  Isn't it great?!  When we bought our car a couple of years ago we really didn't want it, but they threw it in for free.  One long road trip and we were hooked.  We even named it.  It's Christy, for St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers.  It really came in handy on Tuesday.  There was a bridge out on our normal route out to Cedar Point and we needed to take a detour.  Christy to the rescue!

- 7 -
“No sceptical philosopher can ask any questions that may not equally be asked by a tired child on a hot afternoon.”
George Bernard Shaw by GK Chesterton

Don't forget to check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dumber Things

A number of years before I even met DH, I bought a house that, let's say, needed a little TLC.  Over the years I worked my way through the rooms pulling down wall paper, painting, sewing, and replacing light fixtures. One room was left untouched, the living room.  It was what I thought good enough until I could "do it right".  It had pale yellow walls, except where paint had been pulled off by tape to expose the lovely institutional green beneath it.  The hardwood floors were stained where the previous owner's cat had its accidents.  And the furniture was mismatched hand-me-downs.

Fast forward a couple of years, DH and I celebrated our wedding in the fall and were preparing to host our first family Christmas.  Of course, the living room had to be done before that.  DH rented a sander and stripped the floors.  I painstakingly applied three coats of polyurethane to them.  DH then tediously removed the six plus coats of paint with a heat gun that covered the crown moulding.  He painted.  I sewed.  We moved his matching furniture in.  We hung new blinds.  He rag rolled over the newly painted walls.  We arranged the new end and coffee tables.  It was perfect.  Almost.

Just one thing stood in the way of perfection.  We just had to get the matching sofa table to put under the gilded mirror.  So we drove down to Amish country.  Three days before Christmas.  In a driving rain storm.  At night.  If you've ever been there, you'd know that it's full of narrow country roads with rolling hills and not a street light for miles and miles.   And buggies.  Lots of black buggies with dark horse and no tail lights.  We found out just how well our brakes worked that night. 

By the time we made it home we were shaking.  We just looked at each other and one of us said, Now we can say we've done dumber things.

It didn't take much time before we had that opportunity.  About three days, in fact.  Christmas Eve as we were finishing the last of that project we realized we had no tree.  So off we went to the tree lot.  It was closed.  And so was the second.  Back to the first one, which was at a Protestant church, we went, where the last of their trees laid in a pile.   We knocked on the door.  We rang the bell.  No one was there.  So we did what all good people do.  We snatched a tree off the pile and drove home.  We stole our first Christmas tree! 

Well, we've done dumber things!

PS - We did send them money for the tree afterwards, anonymously.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Books, books, and more books

Can anyone ever have too many books?  I guess that's a rhetorical question since I love to read and always have. 

My love of reading started as a little girl.  My earliest favorite books that I can remember were the Winnie the Pooh stories.  I couldn't put them down.  At night, after I had said my prayers and got tucked into bed, I'd pull out a flashlight and the book I had hidden between the mattresses and read under the covers.  Mom quickly caught on and I soon had to find a new hiding spot. 

I went on to read all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden books I could get my hands on.  And of course there were CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series.  I read so much that in fifth grade I once got in trouble.  Sr Mary Jean told me if I read less and studied more I would have gotten an A on my geography test instead of a B+. 

Every other week we would go to the library and I'd bring a stack of books home.  And, if I finished reading my books before the two weeks was over, I'd start on my dad's.  I can remember reading Surgeon Under the Knife, I Am Third, and a bunch of books by Dorothy Fuldheim when I was in junior high.  If he couldn't find his books he knew where to look!

These days I've got a number of favorite authors I like to read.  My favorites as far as popular fiction goes include James Patterson, Catherine Coulter, Mariah Stewart, Mary Higgins Clark and Janet Evanovich.  I've also been reading some oldies, but certainly timeless, books by CS Lewis, Hilaire Belloc and GK Chesterton.  I have lots to say about those three that I'll leave what I think to another post.

I've  discovered a few new (to me) authors that are not only great writers but tell stories from a faithful, positive, Catholic perspective.  I met Regina Doman at the Chesterton conference last summer and have since devoured all of her books.  Her books are geared towards teens but are intelligent and complex enough that adults will like them also.  She has adapted a number of fairy tales to modern day times and handles delicate subjects with sensitivity.  Michelle Buckman is similar, though her books are thoroughly adult. 

Who do you like to read?  What are your favorites?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Quick Takes (5)

It’s warm.  And it’s sunny.  In northeast Ohio that is news.  April was seriously depressing with a record amount of rainfall.  Blue skies and blooming lilacs do wonders for my mood.

Starting at 4:30pm EST I’m on vacation.  I’m on vacation!   I’m on vacation!   I’m on vacation!   Do you think I’m a little bit excited?  I’m not going anywhere, except perhaps something local.  Mostly I’ll be doing yardwork, reading, and spending time with my honey.

I got to go to the Indians game the other night with DH and my cousin’s son.  It was a lot of fun, once they started playing.  The ninety-five minute rain delay for “impending bad weather”  put a damper, so to speak, on things for a while.  And it barely rained.  Uggh!  It was a great game with the lead changing several times.  But in the end, the good guys won.  Go Tribe!

 Well, I started writing this the other day when it was warm and sunny.  That changed quickly yesterday afternoon.  Let's just say we knew it was going to be bad when we saw the radar - lots of yellow, red, and purple coming right at us.  The rain and hail lasted quite a while and when it was done our stream turned into a lake.

Did I tell you I’m on vacation???  ;-)

The gratuitous cute puppy picture. . .

“Do not enjoy yourself. Enjoy dances and theaters and joy-rides and champagne and oysters; enjoy jazz and cocktails and night-clubs if you can enjoy nothing better; enjoy bigamy and burglary and any crime in the calendar, in preference to the other alternative; but never learn to enjoy yourself.”
The Common Man by GK Chesterton

Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Happy weekend everyone!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A bushel and a peck

One of my favorite memories of my mom was her singing A Bushel and a Peck to me as a little girl.  Mostly it's just a vague memory, but one that's filled with love and warmth.  Something that is more vivid was when she was sick, I think after chemo, and laying on the couch in their family room.  I asked her about the song, and as I sat on the floor beside her, she sang it to me.  It didn't matter how crappy she felt, she always made sure we knew just how much we were loved.

Love and miss you mom!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A little bit of our humanity

Yesterday morning when I woke up I turned the TV on hoping to catch the weather and a little bit of the local news.  Instead I was greeted with breaking news - Osama Bin Laden was dead.  Not only was he dead, he was killed by our forces.  They showed people celebrating in Times Square, in front of the White House, and more locally, in Mirror Lake at Ohio State. 

All this celebrating somehow this struck me as odd.  I understand what this man means to our county.  He was the mastermind of terror and the deaths of so many, and on our own soil.  The pain, hurt, anger and fear he caused is incalculable.  And we wanted him brought to justice. 

But was this justice?  It strikes me more as revenge. If it was justice, wouldn't we wanted him to have been captured, tried, found guilty and then executed?  We did that with Sadamm Hussain.  Found him hiding like the rat he was in a hole in the ground, tried him, then as the law of his country dictates, hung him.  But this, from our president's mouth, was a kill mission not a capture mission.

Don't get me wrong, I am glad that he was found.  And ultimately, I'm glad that he is no longer walking this earth.  And I am sure our dear Lord is meting out the justice this man so richly deserves.

But in celebrating our revenge in his death, I have to wonder if we didn't lose just a little bit of our humanity.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Only two weeks and counting. . .

.  .  . until Cedar Point opens for the season! 

As a kid Cedar Point meant summer.  No matter what, we'd make it out there each and every summer.  My parents loved the place.  From the time they started dating, they went every year, missing only one, the summer when mom was pregnant with me. 

Dad, Mome & C
Me and my sister, C -
check out the big 80's hair
My parents would plan the day carefully as to maximize every minute the park was open.  My dad knew just how long it would take to drive there and we would be up early in order to arrive at the front gate in time for the national anthem, which was played just before the gates opened.
One year, the unthinkable happened - we got stopped by a slow train on the drive out and the schedule was thrown off!  So, to make up time, once we got on the highway, dad did something he normally never did - speed.  And the local police just loved people like that.  Dad got his first ticket ever!  So much for the schedule that day.  I can't kid him too much about that since 20+ years later, I was the one getting the speeding ticket on the way out there.  Huron's finest nailed me too!

No ride is too high or too fast.  Bring it on baby!  We've seen rides come and go.  We've stood in line for hours to get on the latest and greatest.  We've gotten scoarched by the sun, pooped on by seagulls, stuck on the hill of a stopped coaster, run away from water spouts from Lake Erie that came ashore during a storm - and we still go back for more.
View from top of Gemeni

My favorite is Millenium Force.  It's high, fast and incredibly smooth for a coaster.  As you go up the first hill, there's time to look out over the park and over the bay.  Riding at night is even better.  When you look straight up, you see such a vast, beautiful sky dotted with stars.  It's really lovely.  And it's the calm before the storm.  Hang on!
Dad & Mom waiting for Top Thrill Dragster

Even being diagnosed with cancer didn't stop my mom from going out there and riding everything.  One summer, when she was wearing a wig to cover her bald head, she attached a long string onto it and tied it around her neck so she her hair wouldn't fly off on the roller coasters!  She was there just three weeks before she died.  She couldn't ride a lot, but she certainly enjoyed her favorites - Max Air and Skyhawk - rides that let you fly through the air and perhaps glimpse a little bit of heaven.

The week after mom died, dad, my sister and I needed to do something to let loose a little.  So, of course, where did we go?  Dad had an interesting experience when he we were there.  On Top Thrill Dragster they needed a single rider to fill the front seat on one of the trains, so he volunteered.  He got to talking with the woman he was sitting next to and found out her name was Rose, just like mom, and that she was fighting cancer too.  She told my dad that "this Rose would be riding for your Rose."  It gave him some peace, mom was there with him.

DH on ferris wheel
What's funny is that both my sister and I married men that don't appreciate our need to scream.  They don't like rollar coasters or even the tamer "spin and barf" rides.  But when I've gone out there with DH, I see a different part of the park than I do with the rest of my "coaster freak" family.  We ride the giant ferris wheel, the train, the cable cars, and the boat where the "captain" tells the same corny jokes year after year.  We lay on the beach and watch the waves roll in.  We'll feed the goats in the Frontier Trail petting zoo.  Amid all the noice and chaos of ther park, there can be quiet and peace too.
me on ferris wheel

View of Midway from cable car

Cedar Point beach

So, in a little over two weeks, I'll be heading out there with dad. 
Feel free to join us!