I have refrained from posting about much of the recent hoopla happening in Texas around the 20-week abortion ban (as it is known, although that is a woefully inadequate title, since it has much farther-reaching implications), mostly because it is exhausting to follow the speed at which changes occur. However, I also have stayed away from it because I know that most of my readers are well-aware of my position on this issue and probably don’t need to hear any more about it from me.

That said, does anyone else feel as though we have dropped into another dimension entirely with some of the news coming out of Texas? Like a Monty Python or Simpsons-as-reality show dimension?  For the most part, I try to understand the position of someone who doesn’t believe the same as I do. For the most part, I do my best to put myself in their shoes and try to figure out why they might feel the way they do.  For the most part, I can assert my beliefs without disparaging or belittling those whose beliefs oppose mine.  And I certainly don’t intend to start saying nasty things about the politicians in Texas who are so forcefully pushing this bill, but I do wonder whether they can appreciate the absurdity to which they have resorted?

When a woman is forcibly removed from a hearing on the legislation, where women testifying about their painful personal histories with unintended pregnancies were routinely shamed and slandered by the opposition for pointing out that the “doctor/legislator” running the hearing was an opthalmologist and not an OB/GYN or even a family doctor, things are getting a little crazy.

When taxpayer dollars are utilized to confiscate “feminine hygiene products” at the state capitol building in advance of the vote, but a separate line was offered for those who wished to carry concealed weapons inside, I wonder what the goal is here.  Any woman who happened to be menstruating and wanted to enter was forced to play a little Russian Roulette by discarding her tampons and sanitary napkins at the door and hoping she wouldn’t need a little extra protection before she left.  I’m pretty sure nobody’s going to get harmed with a stray tampon, but an errant (or passionately discharged) bullet could certainly do some harm.

When a politician can sit and say, with a straight face, that sexual education, properly administered by trained educators, leads to horny teens who have unprotected sex, I worry about the future of America.

I can’t figure out whether these lawmakers are so frightened by the uprising they spurred by trying to shut the likes of Wendy Davis (as the mouthpiece for thousands of Texas women who were not allowed to speak on their own behalf) up that they have lost their minds.  Are they so smack in the middle of a fight-or-flight response that they feel like any fight will do? Rational or not? Or have they convinced themselves of their own arguments and they are just as baffled by the women and men who are vigorously and loudly opposing them all over the nation?  Whatever it is, I certainly hope the momentum continues for this fight, that there are honest folks out there who continue to report on the ridiculous lengths to which these rich, white men will go to deny choice to women and girls, and that they eventually get shut down in the next Texas election.  This is one time where I can honestly say that I have lost all ability to understand where the other side is coming from. They are speaking a language I’ve never heard before and don’t care to learn, if learning it means I’ll make no sense to compassionate, rational human beings.

I know it’s inane, but they really do drive me nuts.  And I’m willing to admit it and I feel like I am old enough to do away with them altogether without apology.

I was a child of the 70s. My sister and I shared a bedroom with matching twin beds covered in matching Holly Hobbie bedspreads – yellow with yellow lace around the edges – and pillow shams.  Our beds were made every morning after we reluctantly rolled out of them to start the day.

As a teenager (of the 80s), I was lucky enough to have the thing most of my friends wanted – a waterbed.  It was my mother’s concession to marrying a man who moved us from the town we had lived in the longest to the beach where he had always wanted to live.  My brother and I both got one – a double-size waterbed with stuffed naugahyde padding around the edges and a built-in headboard with padded doors hinged at the top so you could hide books or other things inside.  When we got the beds, we were warned sternly by my stepfather that it was important to always make the bed because if you didn’t two (bad) things could happen:

1. The heat from the water mattress would escape up into the room, causing the bed’s heater to work on overdrive to keep the mattress/water inside warm and drive up the electric bill, and

2. The cats could jump up on to the bed, drawn by its warmth, and dig their claws in, puncturing the mattress.

Since the cat(s) often slept in my bed, I became quite good at patching holes in the bed.
Since my stepfather didn’t really understand the notion of privacy, I dutifully pulled the thick comforter over my bed every morning before heading to school.

As soon as I left for college, I vowed to never make my bed again.  It is one of those things that always seemed silly to me, like those people who brush their teeth right before bed and then again first thing in the morning.  Seriously? Yes, you can tell your dentist that you brush twice a day, but you haven’t eaten anything in between those two brushings, so what does it matter? Wouldn’t it make more sense to brush them on your way out the door after breakfast? Or mid-morning? After lunch?

Anyway, over the years I have stuck to that vow.  Once a week or so, I change the sheets on the bed and then I make it because it would be ridiculous not to. But otherwise, I rarely feel compelled to get out of bed and tidy it before starting my day.  And I have never felt compelled to dress it up with a pile of pretty pillows made just for that purpose. Until last year, when we put our house on the market and my realtor started talking about staging the house for showings.  She advised me to go out and get a new comforter set, complete with pillow shams and coordinating throw pillows.  Even though I knew she was right, it made me nuts to go spend a few hundred dollars on something like that.

The house sold in three days and now I’m stuck with that comforter set.  It has two King-size pillow shams and two square pillow shams for a total of four extra (enormous) pillows that will never fall under the weight of someone’s head.  Want to know where they are? Two of them routinely find themselves propped on top of the laundry basket in my room where I have to shove them aside every time I want to put some dirty clothes in. The other two rotate between the cedar chest under the window and the top of the dresser. I won’t put them on the hardwood floor because the dog would assume they were his new bed, and I don’t put them on the bed during the day because that is too close to ‘making the bed’ for my taste.  One day a week, when the sheets get changed, they make it to their prescribed spots, arranged at the head of the bed. Otherwise, they are simply in my way.  And yet, I don’t get rid of them. Because who gives two King-size pillows (with shams) and two 14×14″ pillows (with shams) to Goodwill without the matching comforter?

And so I ask, for the people who have throw pillows on their beds and who actually make their beds every day; what do you do with the pillows at night when you’re sleeping? Do they take up space on a chair in your room? Do they get unceremoniously tossed on the floor? Where do they live? And how did this trend of decorating our beds even begin in the first place?

I will admit to watching very little of Senator Wendy Davis’ single-handed filibuster of SB5, a bill that would have seriously restricted access to abortion in the state of Texas. I started to watch it, fascinated by the courage and conviction of a person who would consent to standing without leaning, eating, taking bathroom breaks, or sitting for 13 hours to prove a point.  I felt a certain kinship with someone who is so passionate about women’s reproductive rights that she would endure that much discomfort to represent other women in her state and protect their rights.

I had to turn away when she began debating a Republican Senator who also happens to be a doctor on the specifics of the legislation.  While I didn’t disagree with her responses to him, my idealist response rose up like so much bile in my throat with each exchange.  Each time he asked a question I heard my own words in my head:

Come up with all of the provisions you want. Call them what you want – safety measures, viability concerns, procedural details. I don’t care. My position remains the same: medical decisions belong in the clinic. They ought to be made between a patient and his/her caregiver(s). We don’t tell young men who haven’t fathered children that they can’t have a vasectomy. We don’t tell obese people that they ought (or ought not) to have bariatric surgery. We trust those decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis between the patient and his or her doctor. We trust that the medical professional has the patient’s best interest at heart and that they have been trained properly and that the circumstances are outside of our knowledge. I will not debate ANY abortion legislation with you under ANY circumstances. There is no condition under which I believe health care decisions ought to be made for an entire group of people at once by a legislative body. Period. Full stop. 

It came down to the wire and, at times seemed as though Ms. Davis’ filibuster was all for naught, but the eruption in the gallery prevented the lawmakers from taking a vote and, for today at least, SB5 was defeated.

I woke up relieved and then saw the news on my Facebook page that the Supreme Court had done away with the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. While neither of these decisions is as sweeping as many marriage equality proponents would like, I feel as though today is a triumph of trust.

The defeat of SB5 means that, at least for now, the majority of women in Texas will be trusted to make their own health care decisions about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.

The defeat of DOMA and Prop. 8 means that same-sex couples will be trusted to enter in to committed relationships that will be recognized in 13 states.

While I am certain that there is a lot of frantic activity today to mount offensive attacks on women’s rights to choose and marriage equality, for today I will revel in this news.

Hooray for those who would trust individuals to make their own decisions about their own private lives.


And I am, frankly, getting pretty tired of Chicken Little. I have what I am calling “donor fatigue,” and I worry that it has much bigger implications than we might think.

Two days ago, the US House of Representatives passed an ban on abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  While the measure didn’t pass with flying colors (228-196), and while it afforded very minor exceptions, it had seismic ripple effects that resulted in a cascade of frantic emails begging me to donate money to every pro-choice organization I’ve ever (and some I’ve never) heard of.


Starting with the last Presidential election, I have been inundated with communications from the Democratic National Committee, Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, etc., etc. They all have one thing in common: FEAR-MONGERING.  I am sick of it.  These emails tout our loss of freedoms, an ever-restrictive, woman-hating opposition coming to power, and aim to drain the color from my face and set my heart to pounding.  Other organizations such as Women’s Rights News post fantastical, sensational headlines on their Facebook pages designed to incite anger and raise my blood pressure.  Many of these posts are downright man-bashing, stereotypical nastiness that embody everything these organizations hate about the way women are treated and I am left wondering where our momentum has taken us.

The fact is, we live in a pretty damn good time.  While I most definitely do not agree with President Obama on every point, he has proven to be supportive of women’s rights for the most part (good thing he backed down on the Plan B availability to all women and girls) and had the most recent abortion ban passed in the Senate (which is a big What-if, because it seems highly unlikely), he would most definitely have vetoed the bill.  Women and girls are making strides in elected office, education, and our fight for equality in the United States and around the world. We are by no means enjoying absolute equality and justice, but our voices are being heard more than they ever have, thanks in major part to organizations like Moms Rising and Miss Representation who direct their efforts toward educating others and amplifying the voices and stories of individual women and girls who are suffering injustices due to the way our system is designed. I am not constantly flooded with pleas to DONATE NOW by either of these groups and yet they seem to be effective in getting their message across.

I worry that groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List risk nickel-and-diming (and annoying) their constituent base by making weekly requests for money every single time a Republican lawmaker (or group of them) does something stupid. The truth is, these occurrences are all too frequent and we need to be able to distinguish between the times when a response is required and the times when these politicians are better left to twist in the wind.  Simply reiterating that House Republicans would rather spend their energy voting on legislation that is entirely useless (repealing Obamacare, restricting abortion) than addressing the fundamental challenges most Americans face right now is probably more powerful a message than asking for money. In these cases, I am less and less sure of where my donation dollars are actually going and I am more and more likely to hit “delete” when I see any email from the offending organizations because I can’t stand one more screeching cry that “The sky is falling!”  By the time it actually is, I won’t have any money left to give.

Lola got her first chain letter (email) yesterday.

They were so much more work when I was her age.  I remember getting the intricately folded sheet of notebook paper slipped into my palm or underneath my textbook on my desk during class, excusing myself to the restroom to open it up, and feeling my heart sink.

I distinctly recall sitting in the bathroom stall contemplating my next steps. Once entrusted with the note, smeary with pencil lead and softened in the creases, I now had to choose 10 or 15 others to pass the message on to…OR ELSE.

Sometimes I was promised magical outcomes upon successfully forwarding the note – the boy I had a crush on would walk me home from school or my most fervent wish would come true – but more often there were dire threats should I fail to identify enough friends to pass it to.

The difficulty was embedded in the intricate social structure that existed for a girl in the fourth or fifth grade.  There were a multitude of ‘best friends,’ many of whom the note had already passed through. Choosing the wrong girls meant that I would either hurt someone’s feelings or look like an unsophisticated fool.  Not passing it along was not an option.  Boys didn’t count, even if they were my friends, because they would never keep the chain going. You had to pick people that would perpetuate the note, and you couldn’t give it to anyone who wasn’t cool or skip over girls in the established hierarchy.  I was somewhere near the middle of the pack, which made it hard because I was never the one to start the chain.

Inevitably, on the evening that I received the note, I would settle down on my Hollie Hobby bedspread with ten fresh sheets of notebook paper to hand-copy the message. By the time I was done, the callous on my middle finger would be throbbing and red, complete with pencil-imprint in the center, and my heart would beat along in desperation that I had chosen the “right ten.”  Finding a clandestine way to pass the notes at school the next day posed nowhere near the danger that not passing it did.  I didn’t want to die in my sleep, for goodness’ sake!

For all of that, though, I never faced the fear that Lola experienced when she opened the email from a trusted friend last night before bed.  Lola’s unique perspective on the world is often quite literal. She has difficulty sussing out nuances when it comes to threats or promises and discerning whether or not they are real, and while I am fairly certain that she didn’t truly believe some horrible fate would befall her before morning if she didn’t quickly choose five friends to forward the email to, she definitely felt some sense of foreboding.  It made for a very difficult bedtime routine.  Following a candid discussion of what chain mail is (complete with the admonition that it’s more of a scam to get people to pass on viruses or phish their email inbox than anything social like it was in my childhood), we went through two rounds of cheesecloth and a meditation before she would even consider laying down.  It was another hour and a lot of cuddling before she was able to get out of her own head enough to feel safe and fall asleep.  This morning, we’re crafting an email to her friends to ask them to please not pass those emails on to her and I am struck by how much more work it was for my generation to hand-write each and every note we were passing on. We had to put in a lot more sweat for our terror!

I had a lunch and dog-walking date with a new friend last week on a gloriously sunny (unseasonable) June day.  We hurtled ourselves down the block through conversations about parenting and feminism, justice and writing, laughing and marveling at shared sentiments.  We sat down to a lovely lunch of salads with another friend under the shade on a tree-lined sidewalk and the discussion was as satiating as the food, filling us up and nourishing us with the camaraderie of friends who share passions.

As it came time to meander back, the conversation turned to a more challenging subject with a history of hurt feelings and misunderstanding and while the two of us took care to tread lightly and with solid intent, the tone was certainly different.  At one point, T stopped and cocked her head to listen.

“Is that? Yes, it is!” she crowed as two children popped out onto the sidewalk from their front yard.  These kids, a young boy and his younger sister, were T’s neighbors and had just closed up their lemonade stand.  They were headed to buy a slice of pizza and some ice cream with the cash they had made and stopped to introduce themselves to me, all sunshine and smiles and enthusiasm.  We spent a few minutes chatting with them and when they had moved on, T turned to me and said,

“No negativity! See? I told myself that whenever something starts to get negative, something positive will show up to take its place.  We were talking about something hard and then, boom, the kids showed up to interrupt it. The world is a marvelous place!”

I loved her perspective and joy at having run into her neighbors and thought about what she said for several days afterward.  What a fabulous idea – that we can choose no negativity.  What if I tell myself that every time something starts to turn negative, something positive will show up?  It speaks to my belief in balance (I am a Libra, after all), and the tendency of energy to come back to equilibrium.  What if that is what always happens and I simply have to tune myself in to it?

It’s worth a shot.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales pled guilty last week to killing 16 innocent Afghan villagers in March of last year in order to avoid the death penalty.  He is a young man with two small children of his own who now faces the rest of his life behind bars.

May he one day find peace.

This is a young man who went to Iraq three times for the military and was on his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan, likely spending his waking hours plagued with fears of IEDs and surprise attacks.  I don’t know the details of his service and I certainly cannot justify the targeting of innocent people or their brutal murders.

What I do wonder is how many other angry, frightened soldiers are out there held together with spit and baling wire (as my grandfather used to say), barely holding on to some semblance of sanity? How many others are there who have both witnessed and committed atrocities on the orders of their superior officers whose dreams are haunted? How many others are self-medicating with alcohol and valium, simply clinging to those muted moments until they can try to figure out what a peaceful life is again?  And how can we continue to send these young people into harm’s way, revere them as heroes and then discard them on the streets of our cities after denying them the health care they need? How can we continue to be horrified at their acts of desperation and then send them away, sentenced to mental hospitals or jail cells simply because they couldn’t handle the burdens we placed on their shoulders?

If this isn’t a case for restorative justice (and pacifism), I don’t know what is.  So many lives lost and shattered in this instance, and even today, it is old news, as the headlines move on to conflict in other parts of the world. Ahh, Syria. Is that where our soldiers go next? To kill and be killed? To go slowly mad at the violence and pain of it all?

I don’t claim to have diplomatic answers to any of these conflicts. I certainly don’t condone the targeting of innocents by the Syrian government or the Turkish government or any other entity, for that matter. But I think we have seen time and again that war doesn’t do much but create victims on both sides for generations to come.

May he one day find peace.
May we all.

“Idiot compassion.”

I was re-reading Michael Greenberg’s “Hurry Down Sunshine” last week for a writing workshop I’m taking and when I saw the phrase ‘idiot compassion,’ it struck me as though I hadn’t read it before.  In fact, I think this was one of those memoirs I read so quickly and superficially that I’m very grateful I was led to read it again for this class.  I don’t think I absorbed much of it at all the first time and I suspect that is because the notion of being locked away for mental health treatment is something I fear almost more than anything else.

But I digress….

The description of the phrase ‘idiot compassion’ was basically when you get so sucked in to someone else’s pain and suffering that you begin to empathize on a cellular level. You begin to have trouble separating your pain from theirs and you render yourself completely incapable of offering any assistance whatsoever.

Been there, done that.

I suppose the reason the words impacted me the way they did is because one of them is a favorite of mine and the other one I generally abhor.  The word ‘idiot’ conjures up meanness, judgment, misunderstanding of another’s true gifts. ‘Compassion,’ on the other hand, is something for which I strive each and every time I interact with another human being.  Putting the two together jolted me in to assessing how often I drag myself down that rabbit hole of compassion to the point of idiocy.  How many times have I over-identified with another human being so completely that I start to panic at the emotions that are triggered in my own body?  And how is that helpful?

It isn’t.  Nobody who is suffering wants that kind of compassion. We may all want empathy when we are struggling with a difficult challenge, but not to the point where others appear to take on our suffering. For one thing, it isn’t possible – trust me, if it were, I would have made the enormous mistake of onboarding Bubba’s, Lola’s, and Eve’s discomfort from time to time.  And, if I’m already drowning, your flailing about in the same freezing water isn’t going to do either of us any good. It might be a little less lonely there in the ocean as my lungs are filling up with fluid, but ultimately it doesn’t change my suffering a bit to know that you’re wheezing right along with me. In fact, it might increase mine by making me feel guilty you’re there at all.

More and more as I age, I am reminded that the most powerful form of compassion lies in something that looks a hell of a lot like inactivity.  I call it “holding space.”  It doesn’t involve telling you about my life experience with a similar issue and offering advice. Holding space doesn’t have anything to do with holding you, unless you want a hug and it will make you feel better.  It is simply the act of me sitting with the acknowledgment of your pain and allowing you to feel it as you need to.  Holding space is not judgment or an attempt to diminish or ‘fix’ your suffering, it is a validation of your feelings and your right to feel them.  It clears the way for you to sit with your own frustration as long as you need to, knowing that I will be there for as long as it takes.  I can’t take any of your pain away but I can help you hold it for a while until the time comes for it to move on through.  And so if you ever have occasion to hear me say I am sending love and light your way, it simply means that I am holding space for you. It means that within that space there will be love and light surrounding you for as long as you need.  That doesn’t mean I don’t desperately wish there was something more tangible I could do to help, but idiot compassion doesn’t help any of us.

A few days ago our neighbors had a tree service come take out an enormous tree on the sidewalk near their property. The trunk was probably five feet in diameter and I don’t even want to hazard a guess as to how tall it was.  I think it was some kind of maple, rough-barked and stolid, standing on the corner like some kind of massive pin that held the block in place to the earth.

As I walked past yesterday, before they had come to haul away the chunks of debris, I could see the center of the trunk eroded like so much sawdust and thought to myself, Aahh, it was dying. That’s why they took it out. I don’t know about your city, but our city doesn’t take too kindly to removing established trees, especially those considered ‘exceptional’ examples of their species – ones that are large specimens that have been in the ground for decades.  We like our greenery here in the Pacific NW and God help you if you want to embark on a construction project that might necessitate the removal of a tree on your property. The neighbors will stage protests and tie neon ribbons around the trunk, write letters to the city planning office and plead the case for this poor, defenseless tree like they wouldn’t for a human on death row.  The fines for removing a tree without a permit are based on the assessment of ‘fair market value’ for the particular tree, and can run to tens of thousands of dollars.

But as I strolled past this one, I thought I could plainly see why they had removed it.  Until a man and his dog came around the corner and stopped short. Thin and grey-headed, the bearded man in his Seattle-uniform of khakis and work boots and olive green vest led his dog up to the remains to check it out.  I was still about half a block away and watched them circle the pile of limbs and trunk sections, the dog marking each piece in that special dog-way.  As I neared, I prepared to meet the man’s eye and smile a greeting, but he looked at me and shook his head with a mixture of disgust and sadness. He was clearly unhappy that this tree had been cut down.

I immediately checked my thoughts about the tree removal.  Maybe my assessment had been wrong – maybe what I saw of the inside of the tree didn’t represent disease or a good enough reason to cut it down. Had these people been wrong to do this?  

Fortunately, I was able to recognize this pattern of thinking for what it was. Namely, my tendency to assume that my reaction is the wrong one upon encountering someone else who feels very differently than me. Especially when that someone is a stranger, older than me, and male.

As children, we begin forming our opinions by mirroring or imitating our parents. As we move into adolescence, we slowly start to individuate, often by reacting to situations in the opposite way of our parents, but this generally lasts only for a few years as we try out different personalities in order to better determine who we are.  Generally, as we become adults we settle in to some middle ground where we are able to exercise more critical thinking and assess our own reactions and opinions with some degree of realism.  Hopefully, this comes about thanks to parents or other influential adults in our lives who have taken the time (and patience) to guide us through our teenage years as we react to things more based on emotion and erroneous assumptions than clear logical thinking. (That said, if you haven’t read Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide, you should check it out because he reveals how much of our “rational” decision-making is actually based on emotion and gut-feelings and how important that is).

I spent much of my adolescence straddling the line between adult responsibilities and desperately wanting to rebel but fearful of the consequences.  I often felt as though I was faking it as I worked hard to convince the adults in authority around me that I was capable of taking care of myself both physically and emotionally so that I could be left alone. On the inside, I was terrified of being ‘found out’ for the chickenshit that I really felt like.  That set me up for a deep mistrust of my own opinions and anytime I encountered an older person who seemed like they might have it all together, I fell all over myself to defer to their ideas of right and wrong.  It took years to begin to put stock in my own thought processes and values and, sometimes when I least expect it, my tendency to doubt my own beliefs sneaks up on me.

Fortunately, it’s not important whether or not I think the tree removal was justified, but it sparked a valuable inner exploration of how often I discount my own knowledge without thinking simply because someone else appears to think differently.

We have a pretty major construction project going on at our house right now.  Well, I hope the construction part starts to happen pretty soon, because so far it’s mostly been destruction, but I’m holding out hope.

There are two components to the project – one outdoor and one in the basement – that requires some fairly delicate fine-tuning and cooperation between the two sets of laborers.  Here are a few things I’ve learned in the last four weeks:

1.  Each separate entity has their own set of quirks around how they like to work, when they like to work, and what their particular set of responsibilities entails.
2.  It is my job to facilitate constructive collaboration between these two entities.
3.  This is not like herding cats.

Herding cats is a phrase I generally like and have used often, but it conjures up discrete individuals with their own ideas and agendas who simply don’t care about anyone else’s silly little life. Unless it affects when they eat.  That is important to cats.  This task is much more like herding labrador retrievers.  The head of each crew is answering to me, loyal to me (the check-writer), and concerned with my needs, like a sweet puppy dog who needs my approval. That part is great.  However, they circle around each other, wary and sniffing and a little territorial and it is my job to keep the tails wagging and not get peed on.  That is more difficult.

Both jobs are big and will take months to complete. Both are fairly intrusive to my life (ahh, the perks of working from home?), and the two jobs dovetail in multiple areas which means that if one crew takes a little longer to accomplish something (or their subcontractor simply doesn’t show up for work one day without notice), it affects everyone else.  The tension that ensues is no big deal unless I don’t nip it in the bud.  There has been some almost-middle-school drama wherein a seemingly casual conversation quickly turns into a not-very-thinly-veiled accusation against the other crew for “passing the buck” or “screwing up” and it is all I can do not to crack up.  Thus far, I have been able to deal with these jabs the same way I do with Eve and Lola, by giving more details and explaining how such a thing might have come to pass. That said, I’m fairly certain that I have the power to tip the scales simply by appearing to side with one or the other and starting a full-scale war for my admiration.

At one point, I was describing such a scene to Bubba and he remarked that, while I’m learning a lot about how boilers work and gas lines are installed, perhaps my biggest lessons in all of this will be the ones about managing people and personalities.  I agreed, but didn’t have the heart to tell him that running this household with him and two children had already given me an education in that subject.