Published by sylvia on 29 Jan 2009

Civilian to military

Earlier this week, my son officially joined the Wyoming Army National Guard. The months leading up to his enlistment have had me thinking about the relationship we civilians have with the military.

I was a teenager during Viet Nam. I saw my male friends suffering the anxiety of waiting for the lottery to reveal their likelihood of being drafted. I had friends who were veterans of Nam, and in the 70’s I could always tell who had been there within minutes of meeting: there was a certain look in their eyes.

What I thought was most unfair was the attitude of the peaceniks towards the soldiers, taunting and tormenting them. At best, they felt they were serving their country; at worst, they were draftees and given no choice as to where they were sent. Yet the peaceniks ganged up on victims who weren’t allowed to retaliate. Didn’t look particularly courageous to me.

Now we are once again in an unpopular war, but this time, no one is blaming the soldiers. I think this is a huge improvement and much more just. If you want to criticize the war, criticize the politicians who ordered it; if you want to justify the war, again, the politicians are the proper target. The men and women who lay their lives on the line deserve only our support.

I’ve been very proud of our armed forces since the Clinton maladministration. In nearly every other country in the world, if someone managed to get elected who the military didn’t like, presto! Military coup and the elected leader is gone or dead. Clinton was a lying hornswoggler, but he was the elected President and our military fulfilled their oath to support and defend him as their Commander-in-Chief. That can’t have been easy, but we civilians rest easier knowing our military abides by their rules.

Now, I’m just relieved that my son won’t have to face the hatred my friends did.

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Published by sylvia on 06 Jan 2009

The good mother

Is it love to make a child dependent on you? I don’t think so.

I’ve been reading The Good, the Bad, and the Mad by E. Randall Floyd. It’s definitely an interesting collection of short biographies of unusual people, but the entry on Robert E. Howard horrified me. He was an SF writer in the early 1900’s who committed suicide when his mother died. Supposedly, his mother had encouraged an exclusive attachment after his father died.

DH and I have always agreed that our purpose as parents was to produce independent adults who could live their own lives and make their own decisions. To ensure they developed self-confidence, we provided a solid wall of love and support – either child could have cuddling for the asking so they didn’t have to misbehave to get parental attention. As they got older, I asked if they wanted me in the room for dentist and doctor visits and other scary situations. When they were ready, they tackled each new situation solo. DD is still pretty shy but can handle what she wants to, and 17-year-old DS thinks he is already an adult and very indignant that legally we still control him.

I miss my sweet, loving babies. But I would consider myself a failure as a mother if either of them gave up on life when I pass on.

Note: comments have to be approved because this site gets TONS of spam each day. If you leave a comment, please Email me at mama dot sylvia at steigerfamily dot com to tell me you left a real comment, otherwise it will probably get deleted with the unread spam.

Published by sylvia on 25 Dec 2008

Welcome to the worst Christmas of my life

It started last week, when my teenaged son told me to go to hell. So I told him that for his birthday present, I’d give him life without a mother. And I’ve not gotten in his way since.

And he has apparently been delighted, going around doing his thing, apparently not missing a mother at all. Of course, that meant I couldn’t be around when he opened his Christmas presents — more of a hardship to me than to him, obviously.

What I hadn’t expected was that my husband and daughter, who I thought did love me and want to be around me, enjoyed opening presents without me just fine. Just because I couldn’t join Daniel without violating my word didn’t mean they had to. Why on earth should my son decide he wants Mama in his life? His father and sister are around to keep him entertained and do things for him. Each laugh and happy comment was like a stab directly into my heart. And in a few minutes, they’ll eat the dinner I cooked — without me. Why did I want a family, if this is the way they treat me on the most family-centered holiday?

Peter did insist I come to a short Christmas Eve service at his church last night. I guess that means once he’s had a token Christmas time with me, he can ignore me to spend the rest of Christmas with our son with a clear conscience.

Published by sylvia on 18 Jun 2008

Is “screw the customer” now business as usual?

I try to be an intelligent, reasonable consumer. I know no business is there for the sheer joy of giving me stuff. They are all out to make a buck, and the great strength of our country is that unless the business offers items I want at a price I consider reasonable, I can simply take my business elsewhere.

But that assumes that there is somewhere else that DOES have the items I want at a price I consider reasonable, and that they will take my money and provide the item. This is not necessarily true.

Our official Cheyenne farmer’s market has refused local business in favor of out-of-state resellers for a number of years. So a group of Cheyenne residents started another farmer’s market with the express purpose of giving local people an outlet to sell local goods. Unfortunately, it has apparently turned into just a different clique than the official market, as I discovered when I asked about selling my wonderful handmade candles there. They “juried” my candles and informed me that they weren’t going to bring in my candles. (They do have other vendors selling non-grown and non-food items, so either one of the “committee” is selling candles and doesn’t want the competition, or it’s just another “you’re not in our clique” rejection.)

Netflix has jumped on the “how poor service can we get away with?” bandwagon also. I received an Email that they will not have different “profiles” on the same account after August. Profiles were a wonderful way for us to let different family members create their own queues and decide what they wanted to watch at any given time. To combine them into a single list and decide who can set the movie at the top of the list next would be a nightmare, and there is no way I’ll bother trying; I’ll just cancel my Netflix account. (I know, of course, what they are trying to do; they expect each profile to become a separate account to increase their revenue.
Hopefully enough people will decide they can do without Netflix to hurt them financially unless they reverse the decision and continue to allow individual profiles.)

This attitude just baffles me. I have a small online store, and know that unless my products, prices, and service are all outstanding, my customers can find dozens of other places on the Web to buy scented candles and quilting supplies. So I make the effort, and nearly always get pleased comments from customers. But apparently it’s a secret that good service makes happy customers, to judge by what other businesses are doing.

Published by sylvia on 25 May 2008

Memorial Day tribute to our military

We have the greatest Armed Forces in the world.

Our all-volunteer military consists of men and women who must accomplish goals set by others, sometimes at the cost of their lives. In many places around the world, the military is run by greedy officers to further their own ends. Elected officials have been routinely overthrown by military juntas for centuries. But our military has followed the orders of its Commander-in-Chief even when most of its members disliked or distrusted the President, such as when Bill Clinton held office.

And, mostly, it has comprised members who had ethics and tried to live by them. George Washington refused to allow himself to be named King of the new country. Robert E. Lee was not the only Southerner who resigned from the U.S. Army when he felt his primary duty was to his home state rather than the federal government. The occasional glaring exception to the high standard of conduct, such as My Lai and torture of Iraqi prisoners, has been punished. (Our free press takes some of the credit, of course, but let’s commend the military for their tolerance of this essential element of our democracy.)

Our citizen-soldiers take their can-do attitude into military service. The Normandy invasion during WWII is probably the shining example of the difference between rigid and free societies. On D-Day, no one in the German war machine had the authority to get the reserved Panzers into action (which experts agree could have turned D-Day into the worst Allied defeat) and Hitler’s personal staff refused to wake him up. But when Allied tanks were halted by enormous hedgerows, American ingenuity quickly developed several ways to enable them to advance, including the famous “rhinoceros” that cut through the hedgerows.

My father is a vet of WWII and Korea. I grew up during Viet Nam, and thought at the time that the antiwar activists were wrong to blame and abuse the participants. I’m glad today that even those who oppose our involvement in Iraq recognize the military deserve our commendation and support. My 16-year-old son is planning on serving in the Army after college. Although I naturally hope nothing happens to him, I’m proud that he has this goal.

There are (well-deserved) tributes to those who died or suffered injuries in the cause of freedom. But we need to also remember those who served, came home, and lived the rest of their lives as productive members of society, sometimes with haunting emotional scars. Thank you, all of you, for the freedom we take for granted.

Published by sylvia on 10 May 2008

May in Wyoming

I love Wyoming, I really do.

I drove DD and all her stuff home from college yesterday. It was wonderful to see her, of course, but I decided to tease her a little. Spring is the snowy season in Wyoming, and all semester, whenever it snowed she griped about it snowing AGAIN. So I told her that she probably wouldn’t have any more snow to complain about until fall.

She responded, “you never know.”

So, naturally, it’s snowing today. Not just a few light flakes, but hard enough that sometimes I can’t even see the next house below us. In mid-May.

It’s just never safe to say that winter is over!

Published by sylvia on 07 May 2008

Read about writing … or write?

I’m a Writer’s Digest addict. I admit it. My local library carries it, and I always get great ideas from reading it. The problem is that I don’t carry through with those ideas.

I think in some ways I’d rather read about writing than actually write. Like many people, I have enough ideas to fill my time as long as I can use a keyboard. (Some of them are even pretty good.) But at actually making myself sit down at the keyboard on a regular basis, I have failed miserably.

That doesn’t mean I don’t write. I enjoy writing the product descriptions for my online store. I pop off chatty Emails at the drop of a hat. I review and revise the files for CheyenneFreecycle regularly, to keep them useful to the members. But writing that I actually might be able to sell — always seems like too much work, somehow.

Published by sylvia on 04 May 2008

Who needs TV? We have cats

Up at the top of this page as I write is an image of our two cats.  Several years ago, I gave in to the pleadings of our kids and let each of them adopt a kitten. I stressed that how they were raised would largely determine their personalities, and both kids needed to spend lots of time petting and playing with them. They happily agreed and both did a good job. Unfortunately, one cat didn’t come back after a trip outdoors, but the owner picked out a duplicate from the animal shelter who liked people attention even more.

Fast-forward a few years. Older child is off at college, living in a dorm where animals are not allowed.  Cat is left at home, with no human slave dedicated to petting her. Cat does NOT like this. So, in between long naps to recover from hours of doing nothing, she saunters out of her human’s room looking for petting.

I am not the favorite petting source, but right now no one else is home.  So she has condescended to jump up on my recliner, purr for a while, and then settled down to sleep with her chin on my laptop.  (Cats are only comfortable when they are in the way. They are a lot like toddlers.) When I pet her, she may stretch in her sleep, or meow complainingly, or start trying to lick my hand. When she wakes up, she may glare at me like I’m from another planet, or race the length of the house making as much noise as possible (her “thundering herd of elephants” game), or amble off like I am not worth noticing.

The one she is really dedicated to eliciting attention from is my dog, a border collie mix who has decided the two house cats are her herding charge. To see the two of them together, the cat rubbing against the dog trying to make friends while the dog looks horrified because this is NOT the proper distance to keep the animals one is herding, is hysterical.

I don’t remember the last time I turned on the TV. Our own unscripted sitcom is way funnier than anything coming over the airwaves.

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

Tragedy: no brownies

We need brownies.

This doesn’t sound like much of a problem. Just mix some up and bake them, right?

Not exactly. The mixer arm to my Oster Kitchen Center hasn’t reappeared since we moved over a year ago. I bought a replacement on ebay which my son dropped a spoon into. Clue: OKC mixer arms aren’t designed to stand up to having a spoon dropped into the beaters while running. I bought another replacement on ebay. It doesn’t work. So, while the OKC works very well for its other functions (blender, chopper, salad shooter, even ice cream maker) it is useless to mix up brownie batter.

It’s not that the house falls apart when we don’t have brownies. It’s probably been months since anyone made brownies (partially because we don’t have a mixer, see above). But right now, we need brownies. (Okay, I need brownies. But when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.)

DH keeps saying he can mix up batter by hand. But he has disappeared into his office and hasn’t responded to my announcement that we need brownies.

So there are no brownies in the Steiger house. <sigh>

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

My new blog home!

I have officially switched my attempt at blogging over here. My dear programmer hubby found this blogging software that not only allows me to write but allows readers to add their own comments, so enjoy!

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

Getting caught up on my Quilt Pati projects

3/24/2008: I’m sure none of you EVER have this problem, but I’ve let too many Quilt Pati projects turn into UFOs. <hanging head> I’ve now dug them out and they are sitting on my desk to remind me to finish them. First will be a reversible Little Bag as a present for my sister (fortunately she doesn’t read blogs), then a Star of Bethlehem using Quilt Pati diamonds, and then I can get back to my scrappy GFG which will (eventually) be a bed quilt. Stay tuned, I’ll add photos when they are done! (If you’ve never seen this great way to hand-piece challenging figures like the Grandmother’s Flower Garden, click here to check out my tutorial.)

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

What NOT to keep in a motor home

3/22/2008: If you’ve ever thought about keeping an emergency stock of food for “just in case,” such as in a motor home or camper, let me tell you about one item NOT to include if you live in a climate that freezes: canned potatoes. We’re cleaning out our motor home to sell and using up the food that was stored in it.  Anything in there has been there over a year, including in temps down to at least -10 F.  Sealed items like sugar were fine; so were unopened items like pasta.  But oh, those canned potatoes did NOT survive in edible condition.  I opened a can today to make a potato casserole, and they were the exact consistency of jellyfish that had been left in the sun and then rained on.  Blech!  Straight into the trash.  (The canned milk wasn’t in great shape either.)

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

Check out my new online store!

3/21/2008: Click here to see MamaSylvia’s Stuff, my new online store. I finally got most of the customization done, so you can find specific products and order them, and see my store name. I’ll be adding options to pay by check or money order soon!

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

Desperately trying to setup new online store

2/19/2008: After years of running my little online store via static HTML, I’m trying a free online store program, ZenCart. It has a steep learning curve but lots of neat capabilities. I’m still fighting to get ZenCart installed and somewhat customized. I’m not trying at this point to redesign pages or even set a different color scheme. But I’d really like to get rid of the “Sales Message Goes Here” blurb and the “Zen Cart” page description that appears on the top blue line of Netscape. There are some people on the ZenCart forum trying to help me, but I feel like they are giving me programmer answers when what I need is “pick up the blue duckie and put it on the sofa” simple directions. So far, every time I’ve changed something, the store has disappeared. I’m sure glad I do know enough to reinstall the original file so it reappears, even though it is still with the “Sales Message” message!

Published by sylvia on 01 May 2008

Evidence for Creation: the cat

The basic idea of the evolutionary theory, grossly oversimplified, is that traits that promote survival enabled their possessor to survive long enough to reproduce.

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