Friday, November 30, 2007

A Facebook Christmas

This guy buys his wife/girlfriend/mistress a Christmas gift on and then Facebook reports it to all his friends as news. Not good facebook. Facebook has since stopped that aspect of its newsfeed.

I enjoy Facebook (are you my friend yet?). I do have the sense it is evil. Whenever I add a new application there is a list of things that you 'ok' to let the application go onto your Facebook page, I find the most scary one "gather information and data about you" I think we should all uncheck that one and see what happens.

Also- even if this guy got a good deal, I doubt that his wife/GF/mistress wants everyone to know where he got that gift (the commercials are ridiculous- "the O" pleeze).

I am glad Facebook has taken it down, but I suspect after Christmas Facebook will try to do it again- I have an idea, lets all get multiple email addresses, one for facebook, one for shopping, then they wont be able to find us-right? I know- you can run, but you cant hide...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Let the party begin...

The holiday season has arrived- what dress will you be wearing this year to the festivities? Tomorrow's festivities include the Virginia Tech v. Virginia game, no need to be too fancy (anymore) and it is a 12 o'clock game, so that leaves time for the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville's Annual Ball. This year the price of admission is one present and five dollars, all proceeds to the Children's Medical Center- it is held tomorrow night (Saturday) at Sage Moon Gallery from 6-9 so if you arent like me, you have time to do other things tomorrow night after the ball.

Next we have the Grace Tinsely Scholarship Fundraiser, held at SAXX for $30pp have a great night of jazz, yummy food and meeting nice people. I probably overdressed last year, but I may do it again this year. The event is the first Saturday of December (is that the 2nd?) check out for further information.

A fellow Rotarian is having a gathering the day after the fundraiser event. What does one wear to that?

Then what? Work functions, family things and multiple Christmas'. Then just as the new year turns, a wedding. Nevermind the shopping, cards, baking and oh yeah, work.

I cant wait.

I will now take this moment to do nothing....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving- part II the Thanks

The boys were so good tonight- McDonalds and a Curious George movie- I got to make a pie, various dips and cranberry relish. Let me tell you the relish rocks. I put walnuts and oranges in it.
I told the boys at prayer time that in the morning they will have to write or draw three things they are grateful for (and that I would help them and do it myself). David said "but I dont know how to draw food, mommy and daddy"- isnt that sweet?
Grandma Sherry will be home on Friday from her deployment to Germany- I am so thankful it is soon.
The machine that picks up the leaves picked up our leaves- which is good for the parking situation on the street.
A fellow firefighter is going to help Chris butcher the rest of the venison so it is currently not in my fridge and when it comes back, we can eat it and put in the fridge (did I mention he is hunting bright and early on Friday? Buck only day-how do I know this?).
KT is coming for Thanksgiving! OK not really- she is coming bright and early on Friday, but it is always good to see her and she can help with leftovers!
Pauline plays with my boys like a kid- it is so great for them. I know how often I am not playing with them (cooking, working, email etc) so I find her patience and spirit gratifying, the boys are so blessed (and so am I).
BRUUUUUUUCE is coming to town- MY TOWN. That is friggin awesome.
How is it one can feel so grateful and so lonely at the same time? Holidays are all about ambivalence.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas Music 2007

I heard Christmas music on the radio on my way down to Botetourt County on November 16. It wasnt as though I heard one song either, the whole station had gone holiday tunes. While I thought pre-Halloween Christmas decorating in the stores was unbelievable, this music thing may even top that. When is a normal time to start decorating for Christmas (as a family) and when is it ok for radio stations to go all holiday tunes? I mean how much Christmas music do we need?

Thanksgiving-Part I the food

What do you serve for Thanksgiving? We are hosting a small gathering at the house (which is good since my house doesnt really fit that many people in the winter- summer we always spill outside, even if it is raining). I have been scouring the Bon Appetit Thanksgiving edition to remind myself how inadequate I am in the kitchen. We have the regular things on the table, combined with what I like to try.

First, we are strictly a turkey family. Again, given the size of the kitchen and Chris's love of all things barbequed, we will smoke the turkey. I will have to brine the turkey once I actually pick it up (save some for us). Mom's stuffing recipe is a requirement (think sausage and sage- yummy) & green bean casserole which I have never not had on Thanksgiving. Mom also likes mashed turnips, but she wont get that this year. Chris's family requires canned cranberry sauce so no real cooking there but I always think wouldnt it be good to have a different type of cranberry sauce, common sense prevails though (there is no way I will have time to make it). Mashed potatoes, creamed onions (for Chris), rolls, gravy other thing I can choose.

What should I choose? I love the idea of the brussels sprout mash with caramelized onions in the BonAppetit. But who wants to have brussel sprouts on Thanksgiving? Chris's mom usually makes sweet potato casserole which is like a sweet potato pie you put on the dinner plate (no crust). I am trying to have a slightly more healthy alternative to sweet potatoes or things like that. Veggies are the way to go. I am still searching. Any ideas?

Now for the dessert-
chocolate cream pie
pumpkin pie
whipped cream
Anything else?

Drinks? Beer, wine, sparkling juice and soda along with the dessert coffee has to be Starbucks Christmas blend decaf. I love Christmas blend.

I forgot all about the afternoon nibbles- goodness gracious I have a lot of work to do.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm "that mom" and first deer of the season

All day at the Omni yesterday. Drove to Botetourt County where I met up with my children, husband and some of my family who live there. Chris and the boys had already eaten with my family- which is ok it was close to 8 when I got there. Boys went to bed soon afterwards, discussion of politics, education, children, business, etc. ensued. In bed by 11ish.

So Chris wakes up super early and wakes everyone in the house (ok some of them were actually supposed to be awake). Where were Chris and his cohorts going? Hunting of course, it is the first day of deer hunting (rifle) season. I am now a Virginian, my husband hunts on the first day of the season. This is the same boy I married? (Not quite, he turned 30 this week).

I woke up at 7AM, everyone already up (why am I always the last to get up? - for goodness sake it is 7:00AM!) But we have to leave by 8:30 anyway because we have a bday party to go to that starts at 10AM. Who ever heard of a bday party at 10AM? In theory, it is genius- no lunch, get all the morning energy out and then everyone takes a nap. This is not exactly how it happened for us but we did have a great time in Botetourt and the birthday party so its nice we didnt have to miss anything.

The invitation said to bring 'smiles'- what does that mean mommies? When I put that on an invitation it means pretty please DO NOT for the love of all that is HOLY bring presents. It may have meant that on this invitation- but no one paid attention to it, except for me.

I am now 'that mom',
the boys need haircuts,
I follow directions on invitations,
I dont think to buy presents for teachers (tuition is expensive),
I let my kids eat chocolate and drink soda sometimes,
I do not advertise my child's allergies to the world (he will tell you if you give him something),
I let my kids fight and get dirty,
I tell them what to do when the occasion warrants it (thanks to MJ for outlining the perfect time for parental discipline)- and sometimes I even let them play guns (not with toy guns, but just the sticks they pick up off the ground).

Flogging will be held publically one of these days.

Chris killed his first deer of the season- now he is butchering it in my kitchen- what is next? blood in the driveway and hallway- yuck. I dont mind cooking it but until it is ready to be cooked keep it away please.

The next part of LC

Yesterday was a long day for us LC'ers (not arduous just long). We met at the Omni - early and by the end of the day we had choosen our projects.

I will try to remember them:
1. First Street Church project- health-related
2. Elderly oral history project (intergenerational interviews and write-up)
3. Playground stenciling-
4. Computers 4 Kids curriculum development for peer to peer mentoring and pilot the class.
5. Develop a toolkit for care providers of seniors (lightbulbs, duct tape to tape down wires or carpet etc.)
6. Financial literacy group.

I am in group #4. All of the projects were impressive. #1 had the most takers, including me and another member of my group, but we couldnt have too many people in the group so we gracefully went to group #4 (one part of this sentence is not true). #4 is a discrete project with clear objectives and I am looking forward to getting to know the folks at C4K. The group frequently applies for funding, which honestly it has not been awarded (so this is the Catholic guilt thing). The group is worthy and I am privileged to be working with the folks in my group and c4k.

I am happy to report I won an election. I am one of two representatives of my class on the LCAA (Leadership Charlottesville Alumni Association). From LCAA board to the Senate- it could happen...

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I changed the way my blog looks and now I dont cringe everytime I look at it. Success.

Tonight the Task Force will be reviewing RFPs in public. We have never really had people come to our meetings, although they are open to the public. I have never felt pressure from any applicant before this money came under our watchful eye. In the CDBG process (federal money targeted to particular neighborhoods and activities), we are the experts on the applications, but it does have to go through the Planning Commission and Council for approval. Admittedly these expenditures are typically rubber-stamped. The primary reason for the rubber-stamping is the priorities are set early by Council, then we follow the priorities and the federal regulations on the CDBG funds.

This money is different- this is City affordable housing money, with definite priorities. However, the funding is limited and its not clear the money will be available to these same organizations on an ongoing basis (the City has a commitment to at least three years, maybe five years). The task force (I dont speak for them all) acutely see this as 'our' taxpayer money to be spent exceptionally carefully to most effectively combat the affordable housing problems in our City.

I always say the CDBG task force is the best board in the City. The board is diverse on many different levels, thoughtful, engaged, respectful, and unapologetic in its critiques of these RFPs. I understand Council may override all the decisions we make in this RFP process. I look forward to this layer of transparency on the process for the community to see not only our hard work, but the wonderful organizations in our City trying to make a difference.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Priority question

The CDBG Task Force is honored to review RFPs for the affordable housing money appropriated this year. I am very proud of the work we have done so far. This community has a lot of people doing great work in the housing arena. We look very carefully at the RFPs because of the limited amount of money and the great need.

The other day, I read an article in the Progress regarding priorities for the next budget cycle. This paragraph stood out

"Early next year the council is likely to vote on setting a lower real estate tax rate for energy-efficient homes and buildings. And a majority of councilors have come out in favor of handing out compact fluorescent light bulbs to residents, subsidizing energy audits for low-income families and increasing Charlottesville’s tree canopy." My emphasis.

On the task force we have reviewed two different grant applications submitted for the purpose of providing energy audits for low income families. As a board, we love the idea, but we are constantly battling with limited resources - if given an energy audit, these low income homeowners would not necessarily receive the funding to actually implement the strategy outlined by the audit. To be fair a recent RPF suggested a $500 maximum to implement some of the strategies(although the homeowner would be reimbursed, so on the front end would need to outlay the money).

I wonder how many people think energy audits for low-income homeowners would end up being overall a savings for the homeowners (especially if there is no implementation strategy)/taxpayers (who presumably would have to pay less for heating programs and the like). How many middle-class homeowners would like an energy audit? How many would pay for it? I suspect a lot.

At this point, my thought is money could be going to rehab and weatherization, actual repairs on homes that are substandard with attention paid to energy efficiency while repairing.

I suspect a lot of middle-class homeowners would like the opportunity to pay for an energy audit and strategies for implementing efficiency in their homes. If the group is successful with that model, the low-income homeowners audits could be subsidized by the middle class audits- just a thought.

Am I off base? Or should the priority be energy audits to low income homeowners?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Police Searching for Vehicle in Suspicious Death

In my bloglines feeder- which I love- I get RSS updates from the City of Charlottesville. This morning's was disconcerting. A suspicious death on St. Clair Street in the Martha Jefferson neighborhood- a 26 year old woman had been shot. Police are looking for her car. Below see the test of the press release and dont forget to subscribe to the City's RSS feed for updates on city happenings.

CONTACT PERSON: Detective James Mooney/ Sgt. Marc Brake


"CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - On 11-09-07 at approximately 14:46 hrs the Charlottesville Police Department responded to 807 St. Clair Avenue for a report of a suspicious death. Upon arrival police found the victim Jayne Warren McGowan, a 26 year old University of Virginia graduate dead in her living room. The victim was apparently shot and died as a result of the gunshot wound. Police are currently looking for the victim’s vehicle which apparently was taken from the residence. The vehicle is a Nissan Sentra, with Virginia license AED-2522 and is gold in color. If you see this vehicle, do not approach the occupants who should be considered armed and dangerous and call 911 immediately. Anyone with information about this case should call Detective Mooney or crime stoppers at 977-4000. Any media related questions contact Sgt. Brake at 970-3970."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Surreal Kmart

The boys need new toothbrushes (today) and we need a few other items. Head over to Kmart around 6:00- David says excitedly from his new CARS booster seat "Kmart is having a party!" I look over and sure enough balloons are hanging near the entrance way. David suspected it had something to do with Christmas.

Cautiously we approached the Kmart, it was dark and it is difficult to navigate with two children, that awful crosswalk and balloons awaiting us. The greeters (was there such a word prior to WalMart?) said "WELCOME to our grand re-opening celebration, have a bag of Hershey kisses" the boys were immediately won over.

I looked around and this is not the store I remembered from a month ago (the last time I ventured there), I had seen the 'primer' on the outside, but what changes could Kmart have possibly made that it didnt 4 years or so ago when they changed last? Turns out quite a bit of cosmetic changes have happened this time.

All the shelves are lower, more red is in the store (instead of gray- this is a nice change). The aisles are wider AND KMART sells appliances now (think Sears).

This weekend Kmart is having its grand reopening- the boys enjoyed more free food as we left (cheese, crackers, cookies, soda etc.) and Andrew loved listening to the harpist. Yes a lady played the harp. Surreal indeed...

Check it out and tell me if you think this is a fundamental change or cosmetic?

Leadership at a Crossroads

There are two parts to LC, the first ten weeks are a four or five hour class once a week. The other is a group based, self-directed project to be completed by May when we graduate! This week was our last official Leadership Cville class.

I enjoyed every week (although I was sick one week and only could savor the wonderful BRIX lunch- sponsored by BartonMalow- before I went home). I am one of those annoying people who get a lot out of things, so while some are bored, I am on the edge of my seat (sidenote to my high school teachers- this happened sometime in college- I apologize for napping, doodling or otherwise not focusing in your class).

So what project idea do I have after learning so much about the Charlottesville-Albemarle region? ... I may not present an idea, I havent quite decided. Sometimes it is nice to be a member of a group, not the originator of the idea. I have a lot of energy to move a project, but I find it difficult to move people to the idea of my project and keep them motivated throughout. I am still learning about leadership.

I have one idea- I actually had this inspiration at a QCC meeting on Restorative Justice. I am throwing it out because I want someone to make this happen and I have very little time to devote to doing it right.

My idea involves offenders coming out of jail (non-violent and other qualifiers that I am not thinking of right now); recidivism rates are exceptionally high among this population because offenders find it difficult to get a job. It is hard to find a job for a number of reasons (training, depression and offender status). My hope is to have a non-profit in this community (ie OAR) to work with Chamber businesses and offenders to facilitate transition from jail to the workforce. Cville has an inordinate amount of non-profits so I dont want anyone starting another new one, and the jail here is progressive so the folks do try to help promote a smooth transition already. However, with training specific to the jobs available, mental health treatment and reasonable expectations on the part of the offender perhaps the recidivism rate would improve.

What about it? Is this possible? Is it true I dont have time or am I making excuses?

I love when it feels like it will snow

The overcast day, the cold biting at my nose, the colorful leaves on the ground awaiting raking (and mulching)- the first day it feels like it will snow in what feels like a year. An excuse to watch tv, pull blankets on, drink warm beverages, rent movies and hike through the woods (maybe we will get to that tomorrow).

So far from a month ago when it was 90 degrees outside and I arrived everywhere sweating. That this urge to nest comes after the election is a good thing since I was working my a$% off prior to the election.

I doubt it will snow, but I am ok with that too.