I’ll vote for the possible!


My mind’s been reeling lately, there’s so much happening worldwide, nationally, locally, and personally.  It can get to be overwhelming.  It doesn’t help that along with rhododendrons, flowering trees, crocuses, and daffodils, campaign signs are springing forth.

Our local primaries will be May 16th.  Mark your calendars; and if you aren’t in Pennsylvania, find out when yours are and mark your calendar accordingly.  While the nation may seem to be falling apart, we can still show up en masse  and voice our opinion locally; because lets face it, the local election results are often what hurt, or help, us first – as they are the elections that determine who will govern and make the local laws, ordinances, and policies that we deal with on a daily, and often, more personal level.

Locally there’s a mayoral race that could get ugly.  And like the November election, I’m shocked at how many campaign signs are springing up in support of someone whom I view as not worthy of the title of “Mayor”.  This may be one of the few times that I make an effort to contact a campaign and put a sign in our yard – I probably won’t, but the fact that I’m thinking about is says something about the race and how strongly I feel about the candidates.  Heck, I might even go to the debates, just to watch the circus – wonder if they’ll sell popcorn (I could pull a Lorelai Gilmore and bring my own*)?

I had been registered as an independent until the last Presidential primaries when I wanted to vote for a major party candidate in the primaries.  For that reason I finally picked a party and changed my party affiliation from Independent to Democrat.   Right now in the local mayoral race, there are 4 candidates.  The hot mayoral primary race will be on the Republican ticket where the incumbent and two contenders are running.  Since in PA you can only vote on/for candidates on the ticket for which you are registered, I can’t vote in the Republican race.  I’m not thrilled about the democratic candidate, so I need to research whether or not you can write in a name from the other party and still have my vote count.  That might be the loophole I’m looking for.

So why is this such a big race?  Because we live in a small city with big city problems.  Because the city has so much potential but many want to try to recreate and relive in the glory days of their youth.  Because many don’t want to try and combine heritage and history with progress.  And because, like many cities of our size, we’re broke.

I don’t believe I’m being naïve when I downplay the problems in the city we call home.  The Goat and I have lived in this city for 20 + years.  Yes, we’ve got crime but I’ve never felt threatened when taking my morning or evening walk around the neighborhood(s).  It’s hard getting along with everyone when we you live in such close proximity to one another, but my neighbors help each other out, chat with one another across the street or from porch to porch, and the kids play games across multiple yards.  It’s an urban setting,  but I just spent the weekend raking leaves.  We have a drug problem, but so does most of the nation – be it heroin or prescribed medicines; the solution is out there and like the rest of the nation, it may just take some time to find it.

Yes, there are problems.  But there are good things too – our hospital, public transportation, a varied selection of stores and businesses near the Main Street corridor, paid fire company, a police force that’s active in the community, a large public library, a wide selection of houses of worship, the YMCA and YWCA, an active community theater group, a decent park system for a city of it’s size, a community based farmer’s market, a rail-trail that links to a neighboring community, a minor league baseball team and stadium…

You get the idea.  So for me, this May’s primary election is about the possibilities, not the problems.  I hope it is for you too.  I’ve found that when you focus on the problems, especially in an election, the negativity starts to take over and solutions seem more difficult to find and/or implement.  When you vote for the possible, the problems are often solved in ways that are creative, effective, and life changing.  Even if you aren’t in our area, when you go to your primaries, vote for the possible!


*Lorelai Gilmore is a fictional character from the television show “Gilmore Girls” who would stash snacks, including popcorn,  in her bag when she attended town meetings.







At least I found the scissors.


Answer: Three clothespins; a Christmas ornament; 8″ pair of scissors with lime green handles; a large barrette; 2 stitch markers; and a marble sized, rock hard, dog turd.

Question:  What did the Hippie Chick find in her sofa?

I’m sure a number of you will be completely freaked, grossed, and troubled by the last item in that list.  But if you have kids, pets, or even just live in your living room from time to time, I’m sure you occasionally find something similarly organic in your sofa – because admit it, no matter how well you clean up after that sick kid, watch the dog when you’re house training or it’s elderly, or even eat the occasional meal on your sofa, you’re going to miss something.  Something will fall between the cushions or get lodged in the springs, or under the arms.  And you will find that something at a later date.

That’s what happened today.  Our last dog, the Jasmanian Devil, had started to have issues with the nerves in her back legs and the vet had warned us that incontinence might become an issue as the problem progressed.  She died before that happened.  But occasionally, the urge to poo would sneak up on her.  Towards the end of her life we would find random single small turds on the stairs, in her crate, and yes, on the sofa.

I decided to vacuum the sofa today because I wanted to try and clean up and declutter my little corner of the living room;  and I was actually looking for a button – which I didn’t find, it’s fairly large, and metal, so I was hoping a “deep” vacuuming of the sofa would help me locate the button.  It didn’t.  The button is still at large.  (By deep vacuuming, I mean vacuuming while standing on the sofa so that the gaps between the base and the back are opened up and I can now see into the gap created by my localized weight and I can get the nose of the hose in there – which is how I found so many random treasures.)

Lately I’ve been noticing that without Jasmine the dog around, I’m getting “sloppy”, things are getting cluttered, my stuff is accumulating differently.  I can’t speak for The Goat, but for me, having a dog in the house meant I had to think about putting that drink on the table at the end of the night, or returning it to the kitchen.  I had to take the time to put my crochet or knitting projects away, or she would sleep on them (and consequently, unintentionally, often undo a row or two or mess up the piece).  I didn’t leave books and magazines on the sofa because she would kick them off of it so she could get cozy.  Clothes didn’t hit the floor as often, because she would search the pockets for “truffles” (used tissues) or walk/lay on them.

All of these little things have been adding up, along with my recent desire to declutter and remove the excess bits from our home.  How do all of my scarves end up in a chair in the living room?  Why did I leave our clean sheets on my dresser?  We have how many blankets? (Really!  How many?  I know I get cold, but I own a freakin’ yarn shop!  Why do we have so many fleece throws?  They must reproduce at night.)  Why is our address book still on the kitchen counter?  Why do I have 3 slippers by the bed – not 3 pair, 3 slippers; 2 left and a right?

Some days I feel like I’m taking one step forward and two steps backwards.  As I get a few things taken care of, tackle a larger task, or take care of the day to day stuff, new tasks are created.  So now I feel weeks behind in my housework.  I’m not so far behind that I can’t catch up with the day to day stuff – cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floor, etc.  And honestly, most people wouldn’t even notice, but I do.  And that’s what bothers me.  Why do I notice?  Until now, you didn’t know I had 3 slippers, or fleece throws that multiply like bunnies.

Needless to say, finding a petrified piece of dog poo in the sofa may be the highlight of the weekend.  If only because it reminds me not to become so consumed with my housework to-do list that I forget about the home and the beings that live (and have lived) in it.  Because at the end of the day, it’s having a home that matters.  (And the scissors.  I wondered where they went.)




Raggedy, Monsters, and Stuff.


When I was a young child my sister and I would make our Christmas lists on Thanksgiving.  It was a family tradition, the lists went home with our Grandparents to be mailed to Santa Claus.  We put a lot of thought into those lists.  A lot.  We were told to make them long to give Santa options.  Remember, there was no internet then, this was a carefully crafted, well thought out and researched list.  Our research consisted of sale flyers, toy catalogs, and friends’ homes – what did we play with there?

Surprisingly, my sister and I were also pretty vague, at least by today’s standards.   I don’t think either of us ever put anything Barbie on it, and the “it toy” was a new concept when we kids.  By the time the Tickle Me Elmo craze happened, we were in high school, and old enough to laugh at it.  Our lists had thing like “bike”, “record player”, or “lace up boots” (I was a strange kid,  I wanted boots – like the ones Laura Ingall Wilder would have worn)

Even though we were told to be specific, except for book titles, games, and color preferences, I don’t remember often including a brand or specific toy, except the year my sister wanted Monchichi.   Most of the years I can remember, my list started out the same way, doll house, doll for my collection (this was an obligatory request by the time I started to be able to spell “collection”, since my grandmother had started a doll collection for me), books, and a Raggedy Andy doll* to keep my Raggedy Ann company.

I don’t know what it was about Raggedy Ann and Andy that held my interest.  I still have one of the books in my collection, so at some point, I know I read the stories, maybe we borrowed some of the books from the library, or had a record/book set, it’s possible I saw the movie or TV show too.  I really don’t remember; but I do remember wanting both the dolls, and now that I look back on it, it’s a good thing I didn’t want the camel, the dog, or any of their other unusual friends… Santa would still be looking for those.

At some point, as a very young girl,  I did get a Raggedy Ann doll, and she was splendid.  I don’t remember if she was a gift that then triggered my reading the books and watching the movie, or if it was the other way around.  Regardless, she was, from then on, a favorite of mine.  She was big, for starters, at least 24″.  She had a red heart on her chest with the words “I love you” in it, a painted face with button eyes, red yarn hair tied up in a weird sort of bun in the back and she wore knickers, a flowery dress, and an apron.

I used her as a pillow, she was one of the few things that was always on, and in, my bed.  I was not the type of kid that usually slept with dolls or stuffed animals, after all, they had their own bed!  I had a few that occasionally made the cut, and at one point, my grandmother was given garbage bags full of stuffed animals by a friend of hers, so my sister and I were overwhelmed with stuffed whales, giraffes, tigers, owls, and more.  But unless I was scared or sick, I usually didn’t cuddle with stuffed critters or dolls.  However, Raggedy Ann was always at the foot of my bed or leaning against the headboard next to me.

I did have an overactive imagination (still do, if you hadn’t figured that out) and the dark of night was a great time for my imagination to come up with some crazy ideas and leave me sleepless.  Maybe, after reading the stories of Raggedy Ann’s bravery, I thought she’d protect me from the monsters under my bed – they were big, had tentacles, and were friends with the humidifier dragon on the dresser.

At some point her seam split on the one side.  I remember my mom fixing her, Raggedy Ann had “surgery”.  I don’t even remember what  ailment we made up, but it wasn’t a life threatening thing.  After stitching her back up, mom put a fabric band-aid over the stitches – we had to use a fabric one, because the plastic ones wouldn’t stick to cloth!  Close to 40 years later, that bandage is still on her side.

When I was a teenager, Robby, our labrador puppy had a full on labrador frenzy in my bedroom.  Raggedy Ann became truly raggedy.  She lost an arm, part of her face and most of her stuffing.  By this point, I didn’t think I needed her protection from the monsters under the bed, but she was still manning her post on my bed every night.  So I re stuffed and stitched her back up the best I could.  Of all the shoes, bags, telephones and microwaves (yes, telephones and microwaves) that dog ate, I think the attack on my toys, and Raggedy Ann in particular, is what made me question why people love Labradors so much.  But that’s another post.

Despite her pitiful condition, I kept Raggedy Ann; and I still have her, as you can see by the photo above, in all of her well worn, worse for the years, faded gloriousness.  In addition to the missing arm, and ripped face, the elastic in her britches and cuffs gave out years ago, the ribbon on her apron is fraying, and her hair has matted.  Through college (she didn’t go with me), my first apartments, and even after getting married, I kept her.  She now sits in the corner, at the base of the stairs, still protecting us from the things that go bump in the night.

Recently, when I walk past her, I started wondering why I still have her and I think about getting rid of her.  I mean, she’s not worth anything to anyone in her current condition.  I know there are doll hospitals out there, and I could even try to find a match and frankenstein together one complete doll.  But I keep wondering if this is worth it to me.  Really, at this point, all she’s holding in her single hand and printed little heart are my memories.  Do I need her just for that?  Is there a monetary value in that?  No, not really.

We all manage to get attached to objects.  Some of them are small physical reminders -trinkets, jewelry, ticket stubs, things we can stash away in a cigar box somewhere.  Others are larger, but still “stashable” or hangable – bottles, framed photos, posters, things we can place on window sills, book shelves, or hang on the wall.  These are often the items in our homes that give our space that feeling of calm, a sense of belonging, and adds that extra bit of something that makes it uniquely ours.

But what do we do with our larger items?  Those things, like Raggedy Ann, that take up more space than a frame and are no longer of any real use to us?  How long do we hold onto them?  Why do we hold onto them?  Sentimental value is a very real thing, but it’s physically incalculable and nontransferable.  It’s like a coupon – no real value unless used, but it’s use is very specific.

I’m trying to purge useless things from our home in an effort to declutter, prioritize, and organize.  But things like Raggedy Ann trip me up in my efforts.  I don’t want to just box her up and put her in the attic, that will just delay the decision.  I wonder about reusing parts, but how?  I can’t donate her, she’s in too bad of shape – maybe if she were only missing an arm, I’d consider looking into donating her to a children’s hospital, as I’m sure that one armed little girls like dolls too, and some of them might have monsters under their beds.

When it comes down to it, she’ll most likely remain at her post for a little while longer as I try to decide if it’s worth finding the parts, patterns, and time to repair her.  Maybe as I find more photos of our adventures together I’ll be able to let her go.  So I shouldn’t be surprised if one day, I decide she’s just not needed anymore.  After all, it’s the memories she’s left me with that are more important, right?   Isn’t that true of all our stuff?

photo from rottentomatoes.com


*I did eventually get Raggedy Andy, when I was in my late teens and their popularity swung back around.  New, smaller, and from a different company, next to my well loved, but still two armed,  Raggedy Ann, he looked like an imposter.  I never took him out of his box to sit on the bed next to Ann.  He remains in his box in a trunk in the attic.




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