Mrs. Arable figeted. "Fern says the animals talk to each other. Dr. Dorian, do you believe animals talk?" "I never heard one say anything." he replied. "But that proves nothing. It is quite possible that an animal has spoken civilly to me and that I didn't catch the remark because I wasn't paying attention. Children pay better attention than grownups. If Fern says that the animals in Zuckerman's barn talk, I'm quite ready to believe her. Perhaps if people talked less, animals would talk more. People are incessant talkers - I can give you my word on that." -Charlotte's Web, by E.B.White
Guess what? H brought home an audio recording of Charlotte's Web from the library. Good thing it's his teacher who's reading the book aloud in class and not his mom. Just listening to it on tape makes me cry.
Ah, the Pledge of Allegiance controversy has come to Falmouth.
Was our selectman trying to undermine the basic freedoms upon which our country was built? Or was she just trying to shorten up a lengthy meeting by eliminating something unnecessary in order to get to the important matters at hand?
Whatever those important matter may have been the media instead picked up on the subject most likely to cause the biggest stir - her decision not to start the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.
After that little else mattered: administrative salaries, school budgets, wind turbines, yet another road race permit; whatever came next paled in comparison to that initial omission.
Now Falmouth is making the news, but not for anything significant.
Now Melissa Freitag is being called, among other things, a socialist. I don't know if she is or not but I know someone who was - the original writer of the Pledge.
I sometimes think there's a misconception that the Pledge of Allegiance was handed to Moses along with the Ten Commandments.
It wasn't written by the founding fathers either.
It was written by an employee of the magazine Youth's Companion as part of the celebration surrounding the 400th anniversary of Columbus not really discovering America.
That anniversary was celebrated in a big way at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1892. The same world's fair that brought us the Ferris wheel, shredded wheat, spray paint, picture postcards, and the hamburger.
Francis Bellamy is credited with penning the original Pledge. According to "The Pledge of Allegiance," by Christine Webster, Francis Bellamy was "noted for his socialist and patriotic beliefs." In addition to being a socialist, Francis Bellamy was, like his father before him, a Baptist minister. Even with his theological background, he wasn't compelled to mention God in his Pledge.
This is how the original Pledge went: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
The pledge has been changed more than once from the original 22 words Bellamy penned. The words "under God" were the the last two to be added, more than 50 years after the Pledge of Allegiance was written.
According to Webster's book the initial purpose of the Pledge was to spur unity between schoolchildren living in northern and southern states, many of whom had family members still smarting from Civil War wounds both physical and mental. A mutual love of their flag, the editors of Youth's Companion hoped, would lead to the country towards a more unified, indivisible, front.
Instead of unity, what we have now are people working tirelessly to divide the country over whether on not the pledge should be said in schools or at town meetings.
It's interesting to note that the original words "one nation indivisible" which was really the heart of the Pledge have now been divided themselves by the placement of the phrase under God. Words with stemmed from an amendment to the Pledge proposed by the Knights of Columbus during the height of the Cold War in 1952 and approved as a change by then President Eisenhower in 1954.
Maybe it's this history, along with the Pledge in its original form that should be recited outside town hall next Monday night at 6:55 PM.
song: This Land is Your Land • artist: Woody Guthrie
Fenway Park, the Red Line, Girl Scouts of America, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC, and of course the Titanic. Is there anything that's not celebrating it's 100th anniversary in 2012?
Some days I feel like I might be turning 100 myself but then it gets better because I get to go to dance practice.
song: Stay Young, Go Dancing • artist: Death Cab for Cutie
It's amazing the trust our kids put in us. Not that I'll make wise decisions or judge squabbles fairly, but that I can successfully drive them to the place where we want to go.
It was the same when I was a kid. I never doubted for a minute that my parents didn't know where they were going. And that was before Mapquest and GPS. Of course they knew. They were grown ups. Grown ups just know.
There we were on Monday morning - at 3:30 AM, driving in complete darkness to a town I haven't been to since I was a kid looking for some battlefield and not only that but once I find said field I have to find some nearby parking.
And there my kids are, in the back, blissfully oblivious to the fact that their directionally-impaired mother is driving around in the dark - lost. And yes, it didn't actually occur to me that it would still be dark when we got there.
They are confidently reading by book light and I'm in a panic thinking who am I trying to kid here? I once missed a Falmouth verses Barnstable hockey game because I couldn't find the Hyannis skating rink.
Then there was parking.
There's nothing worse than the sinking feeling that you're about to deprive your sons of the shot heard round the world because you couldn't parallel park on a Lexington side street to save your life.
Do I need to mellow out , when, at the Earth Day canal clean up, the volunteer hands me a bagel on a paper plate and I think "OMG! Why are you giving me this one-time-use disposable paper plate - it's Earth Day for Christ's sake!"
Maybe it's time to just calm down and have a little less coffee in that there stainless steel mug.
The Titanic has been making the news everywhere this week with experts surmising that a great deal of the ship's allure lies in people wondering whether or not they would have gotten in a lifeboat or chosen to dress in their Sunday best and down with the ship.
I'm glad we're all assuming that we'd be in first class. Guess we're the 1% after all.
song: Dance Band on the Titanic • artist: Harry Chapin
Depressing quote of the day from Susan Freinkel's Plastic: A Toxic Love Story: "unless it's been beached or removed, every piece of plastic that has entered the ocean in the past century remains there in some form or another."
Except that actually that's wrong. What it should say is "unless it's been beached, removed, or ingested..."
Though I suppose removed is technically the same as ingested.
Now I think I've even more depressed. And not even this sappy 80s tune can cheer me up.
song: What's Forever For? • artist: Michael Murphy
On Easter, a Lexus passed us on the Mass Pike sporting a bumper sticker that queried "got Jesus?"
It seemed ironic, like the Don Henley line, "I saw a deadhead sticker on a Cadillac." Didn't he know the one about the camel, the needle, and the rich man? The rich man with the Lexus?
Or maybe he was just being really literal.
As in, "I got Jesus. Right here. In the trunk of my Lexus."
In this new non-competitive (at least at the elementary-school level) world kids now inhabit, where ribbons are no longer given out at field day and jr. baseball coaches pitch until the batter gets a hit or the coaches arm gets tired and he gives up and walks the player. And where no one officially keeps score at recreation league soccer games except the kids and the parents - it's a wonder we still have this tradition of Easter egg hunts.
Easter egg hunts, which are hunts in name only, more like an Easter egg grab, are like a combination of the "Lord of the Flies" and "The Hunger Games." Kids take to a roped off field convinced that their village will starve unless they knock down all those put-that-speaking-shell-down-we're-not-in-Kansas-any-more wussy kids on their was to a coveted chocolate covered egg.
That's over in the ages five and up coral. In the four and under area little kids wander about in a daze while parents shout useless instructions at them from the perimeter of the arena.
"The blue one! Get the blue one!"
"It's right there! By your left foot!"
"The egg! Yes! The egg!"
"Pick it up!"
"Quick! That little kid with the glasses is headed towards it! Ahhhh! Oh! Don't let him get it! Pick it up! Pick it up!"
"Okay. Then yellow one then. Get the yellow one."
"Yellow! Like a duck!"
It's like a frog jumping contest that you're really, really vested in.
Finally frustrated parents will enter the sacred taped off area and try to lead their offspring over to an egg without actually picking it up for them.
Yesterday in town the egg hunts were staggered so that enterprising kids could attend the 10AM egg hunt at Mashpee Commons, the 11AM hunt at the WCC and finally the 1PM hunt on the library lawn in Falmouth with each hunt taking approximately 7 minutes from start to finish.
Me: "Why'd you collect so much candy? You don't even like most of those?"
C: "I know. But I can make money off them."
Me: "You can? How?"
C: "By selling it back to you."
Am I crap mom for bailing on my six year old this morning?
After he came down for breakfast ten-minutes late (we have no room to spare in the morning) he couldn't find his sneakers at bus stop zero time. So I left him with Daddy and walked to the bus stop with C.
I prefer to think that I teaching him a real-life lesson about the importance of good time management.
Keep in mind we've been talking about the benefits of getting out of bed at the first wake-up call (instead of the third, forth, or fifth) for a long time now.
Sometimes it takes forever for kids to fall asleep.
Sometimes they fall asleep in the time it takes you to walk down the hall for lip gloss and return to their room.
On these nights it's important not to get cocky because chances are that by morning those same children will be sleeping in your bed.
I just read in Plastic: A Toxic Love Story that at least for the moment plastic pellets (raw plastic) is created here in the United States - then shipped to China to be made into everything from computers to the plastic crap given out in birthday party goody bags. Then it's shipped back to the United States to be sold.
It's kind of like growing apples in New Hampshire, shipping them to Russia to be made into apple pie and then sent back to be sold in Stop and Shop.
Don't tell me we already to that too.
When my snack falls on the floor in public, in view of other parents, Mommy always snatches it up and throws it out - all the while lecturing loudly about germs.
When my snacks fall on the floor out of view of other parents, Mommy always picks it up, dusts it off, mutters something about the five second rule, and hands it back to me.
It's a lot harder to play April Fool's Day jokes on your kids on a Sunday when you can't trick out their lunch boxes or wake them up an hour early for the bus.
I settled for switching all the clothes in S & N's closet for all the clothes in C & H's closet.
H didn't even notice.
He put on a size 3T shirt, then turned to me and said, "Mommy, this one's a little small."
song: What a Fool Believes • artist: Doobie Brothers