Thursday, April 30, 2015

War zone next door

I went to turn onto Riggs around 2 PM today. I couldn't because the National Guard was there with guns and armored vehicles.

On another street, the Baltimore Police had cordoned off vehicle and, it seemed, pedestrian traffic.

At the basketball court I went to for the food bank, the MD police helicopter was hovering above the area for a couple hours.

It seemed like war preparation. People were just walking home from school and sitting on their stoops. A friend commented on a post of mine about the baseless arrests in Baltimore that it seemed more like a Middle East dictatorship.

Nevertheless, the spirit and hard work of this community were in clear evidence today. They do not deserve this war zone. In the greatest country on earth, we should be making sure these conditions don't exist. We treat our animals better than this, why don't we treat people better?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Filling the bucket

Two things happened yesterday that spotlighted something I try to avoid in my life...being known as a negative complaining person. I do complain about lots, like the ants in the shower at the gym, people on their cellphones in the bathroom, slow drivers, etc. When I complain to the people at the gym at the ants, I try to be neutral - "Hey, there are ants." Not "Hey there are ants and this place is disgusting and what the hell are you doing about it because there are ants!"

But I was talking to a friend about a mutual acquaintance that we were with recently. Apropos of nothing, she said "Wow, she is SO negative. She just complained the entire time we were together." I said, "Yes, I found it very draining." My friend said, "That's exactly the right word."

My daughter's school awards ceremony reminded me of that later on as one of the awards she got was the class Bucket Filler award. Quick lesson: positive actions and words fill a bucket while negative ones deplete a bucket. Her classmates voted her as this quarter's bucket filler.

When I spoke to her later, I asked her which award did she think was the most surprising or which made me proud, etc. She said the Bucket Filler award and I said I liked that one the best too.

I'm not a natural bucket filler. I often say or do things that don't even occur to me as being negative because I see them through my Kirstycat filter rather than through the rest-of-the-world filter. I don't go out of my way to invite people to do things as I assume I'll be rejected - I'm rather shy/unconfident in that perspective. People are often surprised to find out that I'm barely an Extrovert on the Myers-Briggs test.

My daughter has been filling my bucket at home too. Helping make dinner, making me laugh when I'm down and cleaning up cat hairballs. (VERY useful!) She is so much better socially than I was at her age (actually probably at any age).

(You know who is not a Bucket Filler? Derby cat. Because he is making it very difficult to type this post. When I try to push him off me, he grunts/growls at me. And then returns.)

My fortune cookie today was completely wrong - I am NOT quiet and unobtrusive. But hopefully I'm not loud, obtrusive AND constantly negative.

You know how you could be a bucket filler tomorrow? VOTE in the Columbia elections. (Of course, only if you live in Columbia.)  Meeting quorum in our villages is not easy even if there isn't a contested elections.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oakland Mills elections

Do you know what Saturday is? If you live in Columbia, I hope you do. Wilde Lake has already put up signs all over Twin Rivers promoting this weekend's elections and they don't even have a contested one this year! In fact, they need a fifth board member and info is at the above link.

Town Center didn't have a contested election either...Which means that I've been able to spend the past couple of months learning about my village board in preparation for my official term to begin next week.

My friends in Oakland Mills, however, have a VERY contested election. It's a stark contrast. People who make up lies about the other candidates and have been serving their current term with an unhealthy side of NIMBYism. Exhibit A: How do we get rid of the FARMS kids from the Oakland Mills schools?

Several good people - Bill Woodcock, Marcia White, Fred Eiland and Daniel Kirk-Davidoff - believe in an inclusive village. One that leverages existing spaces and works to build relationships not destroy them. Although I don't know Fred and Daniel personally, I do know Bill and Marcia.

I had the chance to walk three miles, I mean help out my friend Bill Woodcock and his slate as he canvassed the Stevens Forest area of Oakland Mills. I've known Bill for a few years now through the blogging community and he has great ideas for his village.

From the moment I met Marcia during last year's campaign season, I immediately liked her. Smart, generous and pragmatic. She also has a positive attitude toward the challenges facing the village. She builds relationships with people, she doesn't tear them down.

They both have been an avid supporter of small business in the Village Center. They have worked on Columbia Town Center issues, envisioning a more symbiotic relationship between our two villages. I appreciate their time and energy toward making Oakland Mills run more smoothly and without the rancor that have marked recent years' boards.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dinner is served

One of the reasons I hate making dinner is the coordination. When do you start the meat? When do you start the vegetables? Only 1 time has that actually occurred disastrously... But it was Thanksgiving. I put the thermometer in the wrong spot.

Most of the time, I get it right. More often, my daughter is helping me cook. Which I love.

Tonight, all 3 of us were cooking and working in the kitchen and it was lively and lovely.

Plus dinner tasted good and the kid asked for seconds of everything. In the busy life of ballet & community, I need to remember how much I love this, rather than opting for the easy restaurant meal.

Oh, and the senior cat was on the prowl for leftovers... Always a sign of approval!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fresh starts

During my work on last year's campaign, I mainly used my voice for Tom and secondarily for other candidates on the Democratic ticket. I'm proud to say some of my friends won and sad to say some lost their elections in November. We've still got fall-out from some of those results, Exhibit A: Potentially unnecessary cuts to teaching staff from an odd budget that cuts people but adds technology. I would have looked for other sources or maybe added another $20 million in bonds. Investing in our schools has property and transfer tax returns, but anyway...

That is to say is that I had been representing others and not myself. Not anymore!

Although my term on the Board does not begin officially until May 1, 2015, the current Town Center Village Board has already welcomed me to its meetings and discussion - no voting, of course, but they have included me.

I look forward to working with this board over the next two years. Many issues - Inner Arbor, increasing awareness amongst residents, working with the county on Downtown Columbia development - have drawn me to want a seat at this table.

I have a lot to learn, but I should have more confidence in myself. As my daughter and husband often tell me, I have picked up a lot in the last few years about Columbia and Howard County. And I've made a lot of friends that are great resources to fill in my gaps!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Side benefits

As many of you may know, my husband has been working everyday since Christmas. More than 15 years and it's never been like this.

My girl has always loved her daddy. I could cue a country song or a dozen.

But the benefit of my husband being away has been the strengthening of us two girls. When necessary, I will not be her friend, but her mom. But the last couple months have been a lot of companionship. Her worrying about me. Me worrying about her.

This week, we've been shopping for pointe shoes. I vaguely know they are and how beautiful a ballerina looks when on pointe. But I know exactly negative 5% about what they involve. The sewing. The lambs' wool. The ribbons.

Ballet Mobile's director and prima ballerina have been so amazing in helping us. They directed us to Dance Supplies Etc. where they spend a lot of time fitting the shoe. I think we were there for an hour today. And Ms. Susan was inspecting Lil's form in each of the shoes and for that, I could cry. They want to make sure Lil is ready for this next big step.

And the side benefit is that when Lil got into the car, she couldn't stop talking about the box, her toes and her Russian pointe shoes.

I have that amazing moment when she went on pointe indelibly printed on my brain. And in the cloud. And most importantly, in my heart.