Coming Soon To A Neighborhood Near Me: Fracking? What?

Sometimes, I purposefully do not educate myself on social or political issues so I can say, “I’m sorry I don’t know enough about that to offer an opinion.” Recent examples of this deliberate blind spot: the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the unaccompanied children trying to immigrate to America. My default position is that compassion should influence our policies, but I can’t go farther than that.

This willful ignorance (let’s call it what it is) has backfired on me.

I don’t know very much about fracking. I mean I had to look up what it was short-hand for. Hydraulic fracturing, in case you didn’t know either. I think environmentalists don’t like it very much — something, something about contaminating ground water? Negative effects on drinking water? Isn’t there a film out there somewhere about it, starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski? Probably documentaries, too. I imagine pro and con, but I DON’T KNOW.

I recently got an email from my CSA farm that the fracking company in Pennsylvania is seeking to build a facility less than a mile from their farm. From MY farm.

This seems like a Bad Idea. But I don’t have any kind of scientific information to support that Gut Feeling.

Now, what I have is the fact that this is going to directly affect my and my family’s lives. I’m not sure how yet. As well as this facility being built near a farm I depend on, they are going to start fracking near the airport, which is a few miles away from my house. I have two Post-Gazette articles — one where Don Kretschmann says this facility is going to be bad for his livelihood and for the people who receive food from him, and the other that reports on the division of the town’s residents. This KDKA story likewise reports on the New Sewickley meeting.

And I’m glad it’s being covered. But what I need to know is: Is the building of the compressor going to ruin the farm? The farm at which I usually get meat is right across the road from Kretschmann’s; I can only assume that their farm and livestock are threatened too.

How concerned to I need to be? Is my tap water going to become undrinkable?

And if no one knows the answers to these questions, well, that actually causes me more anxiety. What are we doing with a process whose long-term effects we haven’t even sussed out yet?

Here’s the first I heard of this issue, coming in the newsletter from my CSA one week. This was July 17:

“…we are totally preoccupied with stopping a Marcellus gas compressor station from being sited on a property adjoining our farm in the rear. We are shell shocked and beside ourselves after the surprise phone call last Wednesday from a neighbor about a meeting of the township board of supervisors at which they were to decide the issue. In eight hours we and several other neighbors came up with enough questions for the board to delay decision and continue the hearing on 7/23 at the township building. But we are told it will be an uphill battle. The small group of neighbors calling ourselves the Bulldogs for New Sewickley Health has alerted hundreds of residents, who also knew nothing about these plans.
     “We don’t like to bother our subscribers with issues outside our farmer to consumer relationship and deny many requests by outside groups to contact you. But this is about the future of your food supply — make no mistake. It’s about the future of our farm. … As citizens of Pennsylvania,  we all have ‘a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment.’ (Art.27Sec1PA Constitution) The state, and thus the township is the trustee of these common resources to preserve them for all of us.  Surely the production of healthy food with the benefit of clean water and air is one of the values of the environment and the most treasured of resources.”

As of right now, I don’t know the outcome of this meeting, but I am following it on Facebook.

So what I’m asking is: Does anyone know of an un-biased source for, “What You Need to Know about Fracking”? I don’t want it to be sourced from Range Resources or the Bulldogs for New Sewickley. FWIW, I am siding with my farmer and his family.

I don’t want to be a NIMBY (not in my back yard) — or if I am a NIMBY I want some factual basis for it.

And, of course, more news stories would be nice, too.

What do you think? Fracking or no fracking, or sure, frack away, just not near where I live or get my food? As for me, food is worth more to me than fracking.

Basket of Vegetables

Unexpected Return

The original plan was to spend the day at a soccer tournament. It was to be the last soccer event of the year. Everyone was bringing water, drinks, and snacks for the kids.

Then Flora got strep. I pulled her from the tournament.

Plan B was to shop and run errands in the morning. I already had a babysitter coming for the other two. Dan and I were having people over for dinner. I had a really nice meal planned: grilled meat, roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots, a lentil/rice slow cooker dish. For dessert, cheese and fruit.

(Yes, Saturday was soccer all morning and a dinner party. We are insane.)

Instead, here we are at Children’s Hospital again. M has been spitting out blood the past couple of days. Never a lot, and not for very long. But they wanted to see him, and observe him for 24 hours. We arrived around 9:30 a.m. They had to stick him three times to get an IV started (that SUCKED as you can imagine).

I have had a granola bar and a single cup of coffee. It is nearly 3 p.m. Dan is on his way. I am hangry! He can’t get here soon enough.

It’s a rotten way to spend a beautiful Saturday, that’s for sure!

When’s the last time you ended up on an unexpected Plan C?

Surgery: Pre-Game

We did a lot of prep work this weekend (while also attending a picnic on Saturday and a communion party on Sunday).

Cleaning: My parents are staying with us for the week. God bless them. We excavated the girls’ room, cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed just about everywhere, wiped down the bathrooms, swiffered the kitchen floor, and even cleaned the oven.

Our bedroom and the office remain pigsties.

Information: The place that is doing Kate’s and Michael’s surgeries sends out an email with a link to an online informational presentation that goes over… a lot. Now, if you are like me, there is no such thing as too much information, and this is a good strategy. It did not alleviate my anxiety, per se, but it gave me some good ideas of issues to be aware of and questions to ask. And reminded me that I needed to put Children’s Tylenol on my shopping list.

Shopping: We’ve stocked up on popsicles, Gatorade, applesauce, and pudding. We’ve got smoothie ingredients. I’m hoping that by the weekend, Kate will be ready for scrambled eggs and soft noodles. If not, plan B is some of those fruit pouches for toddlers. And more smoothies.

M should be eating just fine by Wednesday.

Packed: The children’s bag is packed. I will have to remember to put M’s Monkey in the bag tomorrow morning.

Talking: We’ve prepared Kate as well as we could. Basic information, assurances that everything will be okay, assurances that it’s okay to be scared, that she has good doctors and we will be there. We haven’t lied about after, that her throat will hurt, that she will need to eat soft foods.

M… we’ve tried a little bit. His biggest concern is whether or not he is getting a shot. Technically no. Tomorrow is going to be unpleasant for him.

Our check-in time is 10:30 a.m. No breakfast for the kids. No fluids after 9 a.m. I hope some Gatorade will stave off the whineys until then.

No idea what Dan and I need for tomorrow and tomorrow night. Suggestions welcome!

They Got Me

After many ear infections, viruses, and pediatrician visits for the children, I have been felled. I fought the good fight, but I am currently incubating my own ear infection plus conjunctivitous (a.k.a. pinkeye). I am waiting for my prescriptions to be filled so I can go home, have soup and grilled cheese, and take a nap. Although the nap will depend on what my also ill 3-year-old decides to do.

Happy freaking Monday.

Random Thoughts: The First-World Problems Edition

1. When this story hit my social media streams yesterday, I had a very mom-guilt reaction. After all, I had taken acetaminophen during pregnancy — I was told it was safe. But now this study is showing a correlation between acetaminophen use in pregnancy and ADHD in children.

Which would explain a lot about my sweet yet flighty (at times) children.

Reading through the news article, though, I realize a lot more study needs to be done. So I’m going to go back to blaming Flora’s attention issues on genetics (i.e. her dad’s genes).

You’re welcome.

2. We are taking the children to the wedding reception up in Erie for my cousin. The reception is basically dinner at a nice country club.

I have a son who only wears “soft” pants (i.e. sweatpants). I foresee a problem with this.

3. Of course, I have to decide what to wear, too. I think I’m going to go with a fancy dress and high-high heels. This way, I can make Dan chase the children.

4. I should also find a way to do the girls’ hair. Braids for Flora and curls for Kate? It’s a pity I was given two girls with such pretty hair. I have no idea to do with their hair — I have no idea to do with my hair most of the time, so it’s not a mystery. Flora barely likes pony tails, which I make her wear for soccer. Although she does occasionally like being fancy. Maybe we can figure something out.

5. I need new bras. I hate bra shopping. Especially as it’s not really something you should do over the Internet. Mine are old, and they probably shrunk in the wash, and now I need to go get measured — a uniquely humbling experience. I’ve long made my peace with the fact that I have very small boobs. They managed to breastfeed all of my children (for a few months), and my husband never, ever complains.

I would consider ditching the bras altogether, but it seems to me they are necessary in some settings (i.e. at work) and/or with some outfits. So.

6. My MIL must have gotten bleach on my purple jeans, and they are ruined. Should I say something to her, or just suck it up? I still have green jeans!

Got any first-world problems today, reader?

Random Thoughts: The If I Had Known Edition

If I had known one of my car windows was going to crack into little, tiny pieces while I was driving this morning, I wouldn’t have made dentist and doctor appointments for my children this afternoon.

And if I had known a really hot brochure would have to be completely overhauled by Monday, I wouldn’t have made plans to leave work at 2 p.m. to get to said appointments.

I am resigned that I can’t see kate cheer at the school’s pep squad tomorrow, though. I have to use vacation hours to fix this:


Thank goodness for comprehensive car insurance is all I have to say.

Friends with Benefits

(Not those kinds of benefits.)

One of my friends came to visit us this weekend. She was actually in town to do us a great favor. She wrote about it here — and yes, I lifted her title. My favorite line, “They ran around like molecules.”

I missed my kids a lot this weekend, even though we were home together. I was up to my elbows in art supplies, old paperback books, photographs, and paper in my home office — also known as the Office of Doom.

But Jen came with her 4-year-old, and entertained my kids. A lot. For the better part of two days. I’m going to have to find her recipes for “chalk” paint, and find another tablecloth my kids can fingerpaint on, and figure out how to glue more tissue paper onto glass jars for vases (I suddenly have a great idea for teachers’ gifts this year!).

The biggest progress Dan and I made was to get stuff out of the house. We donated two bags of toys, and a box of clothes. Plus gave Jen clothes for her daughter. I took two boxes of books and games to Half-Price Books. We recycled a diaper box full of paper. And I reclaimed the arts and crafts drawers for actual arts and crafts supplies, organized into bins and ziploc freezer bags.

But more than that, we renewed ties with friends, and showed our kids how to do the same. I’ve known Jen since college, and we have never lost touch even through a lot of changes.

I am reading The Little Prince to my daughters, and Saturday night, I read them the passage about the fox and its taming. And I told my daughters that what we did, being friends with people by choice, people who technically aren’t part of our immediate family — that’s being tamed. Whenever someone mentions Bedford or Route 22, I am reminded of Jen and her family. When I see Michael’s muddy shoes when I get home tonight, I’ll recall him delightedly splashing through the yard with Aunt Jen (“Den!”). My girls have embraced her daughter as another sister — for better or for worse. And after the kids were in bed, we exchanged recipes and parenting war stories, shared drinks, and tried to see our way through the next 20 years.

I sometimes feel more benefitted than benefitter when it comes to friendships. I listen well, and am always willing to do so over a beer or glass of wine. I give out hugs freely, either virtually or in real life. I pray a lot for my friends. But between a full-time job and three munchkins, time to give seems in short supply.

But you know, I think my friends understand.

At least I hope so!

Meatless Monday: Quiche (and Random Thoughts, Memorial Day Weekend)

I’ve written about quiche before, and it’s one of those dishes that once you learn how to make, you can pretty much go any direction with it. I love quiche because 1) It’s delicious; 2) It’s easy and 3) Once it’s together and in the oven, you can go do something else!

Here are the basics:

Pie crust (I use Marie Callender’s because they are vegetarian)
2 Tablespoons room temperature butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk (I use whole milk or cream)

Here are the variables:

Cheese (4 oz. or about 1 cup)
Vegetables (blanch or steam them first)

Here are the steps:

Preheat the oven to 400.
Spread the butter in the bottom of the pie crust. Spread or sprinkle cheese on top.
Layer in the vegetables.
Beat together the eggs and milk; pour over the fillings.
Bake on a cookie sheet (you may want to cover the cookie sheet in aluminum foil) for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For Mother’s Day I made a goat’s milk cheese and asparagus quiche. For brunch yesterday (which was actually Meatless Monday, wasn’t it — yes I am just realizing this now in the post, and I don’t care, it’s staying as is) I made mozzarella, broccoli, and sun dried tomato quiche. It was lovely.


Other stuff that happened this weekend without me having to do too much:

Flora rode a two-wheeled bike. And just like that, she can now ride a bicycle. So. She got up on one at my nephew’s birthday party, and after being exhorted to “just keep pedaling,” she balanced herself and took off. She spent most of the rest of the weekend pedaling happily around the neighborhood. Her next trick will be to get her daddy to go on a bike ride with her.

Michael ran around the front yard in his birthday suit. Dear lord, that child has the cutest tushie ever. I resisted taking pictures, but just barely. (ha!)


It needs a bit of finishing (either sod or a stone border?). That patch of ground has not been so thoroughly planted since we moved into this house seven years ago. Big props go my father-in-law who did most of the roto-tilling and sifting while we entertained friends from out of town. I helped finish up the sifting, decided where the plants went, and planted most of them. Dan helped with the planting, and then we mulched.

And then we showered. And today I am realizing that gardening is a lower-body workout. Ouch.


Here’s the thing that happened this weekend that I did not understand.

Flora had been eager to plant flowers since I mentioned the possibility sometime on Friday or Saturday. Sunday evening, we — all five of us — ran up to the Home Depot to pick up plants and mulch, etc.

All day Monday, from the time she got up, Flora asked when we were planting flowers. As I mentioned, my FIL started in on the roto-tilling and dirt sifting while Dan and I readied for brunch with our out-of-town friends. Flora went in and out, and didn’t want to eat anything (either for breakfast or brunch), and asked and asked and asked. After our guests left, I went outside to help Dad finish up with sifting the dirt.

And Flora asked and asked and asked. “When are we planting flowers? Is it time to plant flowers? Now? How about now? I just want to get to planting flowers!”

Finally, around 2:30, I started planting flowers.

Flora decided to go for a bike ride.

I found this maddening, but I tried really hard to let it go. But then it was, “When is Daddy going for a bike ride with me?” And then it was, “I want to play with the hose.” And then it was, “Why can’t I get wet?” (After she had “played with the hose,” which mostly seemed to consist of spraying Kate on purpose and spraying Bella and me on accident.)

I simply did not understand her switches of attention from the thing she wanted to do to the NEXT thing she wanted to do.

Maybe it’s her version of the running list I keep in my head, which is kind of the thing that keeps me from “living in the present”. Although I’ve gotten better. I guess I have to hope that she will too.

Random Thoughts: The I Can’t Win Edition

Monday to Tuesday, Michael finally slept through the night after weeks of not doing so.

I, on the other hand, was up from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Racing thoughts, general anxiety, etc., etc.

Insomnia can suck it.


I can’t get comfortable at work. Sweater on, too hot. Sweater off, too cold. I feel as if I’m still sick: my head hurts, my throat hurts, my neck and shoulders are stiff and achy. My whole body, actually, feels as if I’ve been beaten with a whiffle ball bat.

I have not taken my temperature. Because that would be conclusive. And I don’t have anymore time to take at work, so it doesn’t matter. I’m just going to hunker in my cubicle until the end of the year, and hope I don’t infect anyone. If I am sick, which I may not be. It may just be stress.


I usually get to work an hour to an hour and a half early on Thursdays. It helps to off-set the days I have to bolt because of a sick child or school meeting.

Yesterday, the girls could not have been more unhappy about this. I’ve been doing it for months, pretty much since I came back to work after Michael’s birth. We’ve had time to get used to the idea. My MIL comes over to help get everyone out the door.

Yesterday, Flora was clingy and sad; she wanted me to drop her off at school. Kate was just generally in a foul mood, and didn’t want me to leave.

I found it especially frustrating because on the days that I do actually drop them off at school or daycare, they move like molasses. Dan and I have to say the same things over and over again to get them out the door. I finally put together a schedule (morning and evening) for each of the girls to try to make our time together less fraught and stressful. No one likes yelling mommy (or daddy).

Someone tell me why I’m working full-time again? Because mornings like yesterday seriously make me wonder.

So Close

I managed to post 25 days in a row. But Saturday, I could not get myself to my computer. I didn’t feel like dealing with the massive box Dan had launched into our already extremely messy office.

So I let it go.

I’ve got a Meatless Monday, but probably not today, and Michael turns 1 this week (WHAT THE WHAT?), so I’ll be posting plenty. Michael also has a double ear infection and is super clingy and miserable, which is another reason I didn’t feel like wading into the office to do a post.

Now to turn my energy toward decorating for Christmas and shopping. Oh, and a birthday party to plan on Saturday.

Yeah, not much going on here at all!