Sunday, November 30, 2008
Shoppers stepped over the man and continued into the store. The store was closed for several hours while police started an investigation and the injured were dealt with. Many of the shoppers were angry that the store was being closed before they could finish their "shopping." The usual reason was "I've been waiting in line for hours."
Was getting to that Samsung TV so damned important? Spokesmen for the store said that there were barricades outside and extra personnel on duty; obviously it wasn't enough. I truly believe that the retailers want the crowds hyped up and on the verge of stampeding. The more focused the shoppers are on their bargain hunting goals the better. Don't ask any questions. The people in line with you aren't fellow shoppers; the're potential obstacles to your bargain hunting success. They might get to your shopping goal before you do; whether it's that vacuum cleaner, DVD or digital camera. You have to get there first, no matter the cost. Well, the price was pretty damned high on Long Island on an early Friday morning.
You know what's really tragic? The man worked for an outside contractor. I doubt if his benefits included life insurance. Goddess, his poor family.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Chills ran up my spine and my hair stood a little bit on end while I was scanning news headlines and perusing articles about President-elect Obama's plans to deal with the economic crisis.
The concept of an elective war sapping billions from the treasury, an economic crisis of historic proportions, and increasing political polarity combining to topple a giant on the world stage appears eerily familiar. Where have I heard/seen this before?
Oh yes…perhaps the Soviet Union of the early '90's?
I wonder…is there some foreign Reagan-esque figure lining up to take credit for the "fall of the United States?"
No, I can't quite believe that we are falling… Perhaps this 2008 election happened just in time to pull us back from the edge. But we were leaning.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
It being Sunday and all ... a little Jack-In-The-Pulpit from earlier this year seems perfect for today. Plus, it's reminding me just how beautiful spring, summer and fall weather is here in New England. 'Cause DARN, it's cold out today! No snow -- but coming soon I'm sure.
When the snow arrives, you can be sure, I'll be here writing about how great it is. Snow is the only thing that gets me through the cold, dark, winter months. (and maybe a snuggle or two)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I was at Costco doing a product run for the restaurant. Usually these shopping excursions are a matter of running to the store, racing around grabbing everything we need and high-tailing it back to the restaurant double-time, because there is some vital ingredient—like toilet paper or tuna—that we needed yesterday.
But on this occasion, it was a Saturday, the café would be closed way before we got back with the goods, and I had a few moments to "shop." For me, this meant a leisurely inspection of the two huge tables of brand new, shiny, never-owned-by-another-human-being books. Costco is just about the only place that I can afford to buy NEW books, and they always have an enticing selection of the hottest—novels, non-fiction, cookbooks, gardening books…anything that might catch the eye of the upper-middle-income suburban buying public.
I don't keep a list in my mind of what books it might be good to look for at Costco. I've only recently rejoined the human race when it comes to current literature. I just amble around the counter, recognize a few titles that have penetrated the fog of entrepreneurship, and pick up one or two that look promising. On that particular day, I was scanning the cookbooks when I came upon a smallish paperback that was evidently out of place. Someone had picked it up, carried it around, and decided they didn't want it after all. So of course it was just tossed wherever, rather than returned to its proper stack.
I glanced at the book, then grabbed it. Obviously, it had been put there just for me, and who was I to refuse such an obvious knock in the head by the Universe. "Here. Read this."
It was Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope.
Mind you, I don't have a whole lot of time or brainpower these days to invest in reading for pleasure. I don't think I've read an entire book in twenty-eight months. But I was determined to crack this one open. It seemed….important. The book has 362 pages, and in two weeks, I've made it to page 24. Not because it's a bad book, or because it's hard to read. Just because that's the best I can do with the time I have.
The book is, in fact, a treasure. I've already got several pages folded at the corners, marking passages I need to go back and savor. Exactly things I have been thinking. Things I might have written. Things I did write, though not so eloquently and thoughtfully as Mr. Obama.
“With the rest of the public, I had watched campaign culture metastasize throughout the body politic, as an entire industry of insult—both perpetual and somehow profitable—emerged to dominate cable television, talk radio, and the New York Times best-seller list…”
“…what’s troubling is the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics—the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem.”
This is a wonderful book. An energizing book. As I read, I smile and nod so much that my face and neck are getting an aerobic workout. Now and then, a quiet, "Yessss!" escapes from my lips. (It's a good thing I'm reading in the safety and seclusion of my own bedroom.) Because I can hardly contain my excitement, that a man who writes these things, who understands these things, who believes these things, is going to be the next President of the United States.
So I'm going to take it upon myself to pass on the Universe's message to me.
"Here. Read this."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I know that any aid to the ailing auto industry has to be well thought out and done with extremely strict guidelines. But, I didn't know whether to laugh or scream when the White House press secretary claimed that we had to be sure that American people got their money's worth on any bail out.
This from the administration that's poured over six hundred BILLION and counting down the rat hole of the Iraq war and no bid contracts to the likes of Halliburton and Blackwater.
There was a time when it took weeks to get election totals from all over the country and get people in place. But, we have cars, airplanes and the internet now. I see very little reason to diddle around for two months while the soon to be Former Occupant extracts his last pound of flesh from those he believes didn't support him. Keep it up guys and the by elections will see an even smaller Republican showing in both houses.
Hell, swear the new guys in next Monday, get this show on the road and deal with the problems. At least we'll know what's going to happen and can take the measures we need to get through it.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Last night, I revisited my youth. I saw Judy Collins in concert.
Do you know that she will be 70 years old next year? She talked about being inspired to turn to folk music (over classical...as she'd been trained) in 1954 by the song Barbara Allen. I don't know why that surprised me. I guess that I thought she was maybe ten years older than me...not twenty.
I hope that I am doing as well at seventy. Judy's voice has not lost anything. She can still hit those high notes effortlessly (or so it appears). She performed on that hot stage for an hour and a half, much of it standing in three inch heels. She's definatly still got it going on and it's obvious she still enjoys performing. I would have LOVED to have photographed her during the show.
She played a lot of the old best loved favorites and she did some new songs as well. She talked about how important the STORY of the song is to her and that was apparent in the songs she chose to include in the set. I couldn't help but notice a thematic thread though those songs. Love found and lost, the quick passage of time and a sense of knowing who you are by appreciating where you've come from and your experiences. For me, the last one was particularly powerful. It resonated the loss I'm feeling in needing to know that somewhere is the place I call home.
I saw Judy once before, during my college years. I'm so happy that I've had that opportunity again. What memories were dredged up with her music. I realized I learned some of her songs as a kid at girl scout camp long before I ever heard them on an album. I could certainly picture the campfires at a tearful Scouts Own down by the lake.
She included two songs from a recently released album, Judy Collins Sings Lennon & McCartney. When she first mentioned it, I thought it was a little corny. But think of it...Norwegian Wood and Blackbird as sung by Judy. It was as spectacular as you imagine. I think both John would be, and Paul is, very pleased.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I found this prayer over at Search the Sea. It immediately struck me as exactly how we must beseech God, or in my case, The Universe, for the tools needed to undo the damage that has been done in our country and to the world in the past eight years.
For our new president, and for ourselves:
May God bless you with discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in the world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Over at "Better Terms," a couple of my long-time journal friends wondered jokingly what I was going to find to write about, since very, very soon (thank god) I will not have Mr. Bush to kick around anymore.
Let's face it. The Obama election is merely one victory—albeit a large and important victory—in the battle to rebuild the America razed by the Bush Administration.
Bush's "Politics of Fear" have nourished the beast of hatred in our land. It is strong and fierce and is not going to go down quietly.
The religious right wing, given not just any seat at the table by the Bush Administration, but the seat at the head of the table, is not going to surrender that seat without a vicious fight.
Big Business, upon which the Bush Administration bestowed the Absolute Power which corrupts absolutely, will not be easily wrestled back into Pandora's box.
Last Tuesday night, even as Barack Obama claimed the victory that was not the landslide it should have been, the voters of California chose to insinuate themselves once again into the bedrooms of their neighbors and deny them civil rights based on the common gender of the two sharing the bed.
General Motors—that good old boy network of unimaginative American industry determined to ride every wave of consumer frenzy until it crashes on the shore, rather than look ahead to catch the next wave—is standing in line with the failed banks, hand outstretched to grasp its share of the government bailout.
And even here in little Columbia County, Oregon, the voters took it in their heads to pass a measure inspired by the xenophobia stirred up by the Bush Administration—an unfunded mandate that the county (one of the smallest and poorest in the state) now by law must police every business within its borders to enforce federal immigration laws.
So, ladies, there is a lot of work to do; plenty of potential for scolding and ranting still inspires these old hands.
And maybe we'll even get to write about something positive for a change.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Here are some things about the last eight years I won’t miss. All of this material was taken from You Have No Rights by Matthew Rothschild.
Abusing the statute concerning material witnesses. The original 1984 statute was designed to prevent mob suspects from fleeing. It was used in the months after 9/11 to hold approximately four dozen suspects that were considered suspects but there wasn’t enough evidence to place them under arrest.
“Jailing people who are simply under investigation is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. If the government has probable cause to believe a person has committed a crime, it may arrest that person, but misusing the material witness statute poses the threat of making detention the norm and liberty the exception. District judge Shira Sheindlin.
Claiming that since this is a special war and the enemy not covered by Geneva convention protections for prisoners of war; that “enemy combatants” can be held indefinitely. Detainees have been held for years not only at Guantanamo Bay, but alleged secret CIA prisons or shipped to third party countries notorious for torturing prisoners. Essentially the Bush administration claimed the right to seize anyone, anywhere and hold them indefinitely. In a hearing before the Supreme Court it was argued that the Commander in Chief powers under Article II of the Constitution give the president the right to seize anyone, including citizens, even if the nation is not at war.
“At stake…..is nothing less than the essence of a free society……unconstrained executive detention for the purpose of investigating and preventing subversive activity is the hallmark of the Star Chamber.” Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens
On October 31, 2001 Attorney General Ashcroft issued a regulation that allows the Justice department at its discretion to listen in on lawyer-client conversations if, in the opinion of the Attorney General, there is reasonable suspicion that the conversations may further or facilitate acts of terrorism. Before this, prosecutors had to go before a judge and convince that judge that there was probable cause that the prisoner was using these conversations to plan or commit further crimes. It’s kind of hard to plan your defense if the prosecutor knows what you’re going to do before you even go to court.
Using signing statements to get around laws passed by Congress. The soon to be Former Occupant set a record in issuing these. Over seven hundred were issued. Basically the president says he’s free to ignore any portion of a law that that he believes conflicts with his powers as commander in chief. This includes a law passed in December of 2006 that protected first class mail from being opened without a warrant unless there was suspicion that the letter contained a bomb.
Allowing the National Security Agency to attempt to monitor our phone calls without a warrant. Even though there is a law in place that allows such surveillance as long as a warrant was obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. The ultimate goal was to build a record of every phone call made in the United States.
And finally, in September of 2006, congress passed and the president signed the Military Commissions Act. This act basically blasts laws and protections going back to Magna Charta right out of the water. This allows anyone, anyone including U S citizens to seized as “enemy combatants” and tried before a military tribunal. Detainees are deprived of the right of Habeus Corpus guaranteed in Article I section 9 of the Constitution. In January of 2007 former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez claimed in a congressional hearing that while the Constitution prohibited the taking away of Habeus Corpus there was no express guarantee that any individual or citizen was guaranteed the right to Habeus Corpus.
We started watching “Band of Brothers” again tonight. Those men didn’t jump into Hell to see us come to this. Those men didn’t jump into Hell to see us come to this. The justification for these actions is that we need to be "protected" from further terrorist assaults. Democracy is not safe and it's not for wimps.
Cross posted in Pixels.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I make no excuses or apologies for who I am. We all come from different places and spaces and adventures and that’s what makes this group interesting. When I think about our founder, Lisa, inviting me in to the group I think about how astonished I was that an intelligent, articulate woman found my private journal of enough interest to stop by and visit. And comment. And still invite me to write and post to Women On … and in the process become an on-line friend.
There is a little bit of nonthreatening pressure involved in the acceptance of the invitation. It comes from within me and is much like a challenge to live up to. Right now, I am going to try.
Have you ever sat and observed a roomful of Special Olympians?
Colin approaches me as I enter wearing a generous smile and with a solid thud on my shoulder (meant to be a pat), “Hello Mum!” Of course, Colin is not my son, I am not his mother, but I am there with Emily, my daughter.
We are at the Fall Dinner Dance for Special Olympians sponsored by the same charitable group that sponsors all the sports for the athletes in this area.
The music is loud and dance-y. Some sway to the music on the dance floor. Others sit and mark the beat. All are smiling.
Pockets of conversation surround me: hushed, heads together in order to be heard, loud, above the noise voices, in order to be heard. “Are you playing basketball this season?” “My mother dropped me off.” “I’m hungry! When are we eating?”
Their physical ages do not matter because they are all eighteen to twenty-four or so socially. It’s a good group in size, more men than women -- the primary reason I sit in the back of the hall, notebook and pen in hand, reading book at the ready -- boundaries are not always known or remembered.
The sheer joy of life in the room keeps me from my book, but does help me to make a few notations.
Mike doesn’t like to dance, but he enjoys showing others how to use his I-phone. James likes Gabby and wants to dance with her, but he is too shy to ask. A little help from a parent gets the two onto the dance floor. Scott and Lauren sit with each other holding hands under the table in order that no one sees. Greg and Will sit with their backs to the dance floor, playing a finger game on the table. Corey, Albert, Dennis, three men with a purpose dance together. There are no rules of social graces in this hall. You dance with who likes to dance. Or you don’t.
Emily sits quietly, a serious expression on her face. There are interesting exclusions and cliques in the group and she is trying to discern which group she belongs with. Jen and Olivia are good buddies and hang out together. Abby and Emily C are best friends and they are together. Kristen and Marcia. Matthew and Everyone. Taylor and Himself. Mark and His Caregiver. Harry sits with Tim. Susan is with Janice. Mae is with Her Housemates. Emily’s best friend was unable to attend this evening and she is a bit lost.
I walk past Harry who looks up at me and asks, “Is something wrong with Princess?” I stop and respond, “She’s waiting to dance. Maybe you could ask Princess to dance?”
Harry is up and out of his seat and asking Emily for a dance before I can count to ten. She accepts, which is what got Corey and Albert up and out of their seats! She officially has a full dance card. They wait patiently and then begin the process of cutting in and it’s all very cute and funny from where I am sitting, way back in the room.
I am amazed at Harry. He is new to this group and already he is as entrenched in the social scene as any of the others. He is observant and thoughtful -- a welcome new addition to my way of thinking.
As I sit and watch my mind wanders to what my dreams were when I was young and carrying Emily within me. I thought of how she would look, who she would become as an adult. Isn’t that what pregnant mothers do? My mind goes over, once again, the surprise and shock after her birth, of this disability and how many times I’ve asked myself the same question. Again and again and again:
If I could change Emily, would I?
The answer is as complex as the life we have lived if I think about it too long. There is a little bit of leftover grief for the baby I was expecting who did not arrive. But there is far more joy in my life over the baby who was delivered instead and who has enriched my life more than I could have thought possible.
I feel honored and privileged to be the mother of this woman-child. I am blessed beyond anything I have ever deserved and I am sure that I am, like other mothers, doing the best I can, but wondering always, is it enough? Have I given her everything I can to ensure her life is full and meaningful and joyous?
I stop making my notes and I look up to the front of the room where they all are donning red and green tee shirts and Santa hats. It’s time for the annual Christmas card photo. They are not that much different than others their age group ... well, yes, they are. But they aren't.
And surer than shoot, I see the look on my daughter’s face and I know that all is at it should be. That her life will be full and rich and interesting and that yes, it is enough.
cross posted on http://flamingofeathers-kathy.blogspot.com
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tears streamed down my face as I listened to Barack Obama's speech Tuesday night, not because it was all that brilliant a speech, but because it poured out so effortlesly. Like the words he was saying were actually connected to what was going on inside his head. Here was our future president, speaking in public and NOT sounding like an eight-year-old standing in front of the class attempting to recite The Charge of the Light Brigade.
And apparently, Mr. Obama has command of other languages besides English. One of my regular customers is a young woman who owns a nearby dairy farm. Sandra is deaf. She came in for breakfast this morning, all excited about the Obama victory. She pointed to a picture on her phone or PDA or whatever it was... A picture of Barack Obama flashing a hand signal that I did not recognize.
"What is that??" I asked.
"It's 'I love you,'" she grinned. "Obama is saying 'I love you' to deaf people!" She was so enchanted by the gesture.
Thank you, Mr. Obama. Thank you for knowing what to say and how to say it. Or sign it...
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
No speeches, asking questions and listening to the answers. No press train, no entourage. Not gonna happen, the secret service would have a collective heart attack. But, a girl can dream.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I couldn’t help it. There stood a man, a bright articulate man, speaking of change and hard work, healing and unification… instead of mouthing platitudes, whipping up blind nationalism, reminding us of our fears and encouraging our craven trembling in the face of all manner of threats and dangers. And this man…this well-spoken, inspirational man… was designated our next president. Representing the absolute antithesis of the buffoon we have borne in that capacity for way …too…long.
It hardly bears believing.
As I watched Barack Obama address his people, I literally felt as if a great heavy cloud was lifting from our nation. A cloud that no matter how hard we’d struggled or how loudly we’d shouted at it, would not budge, but rather settled more and more heavily upon us until we were utterly immobilized by its weight, a weight more analagous to the granite of a tombstone than the insubstantial mist of cloud.
Oh my god, it’s been a long time coming. I can believe in this country again. I can hope for this country again. I can look forward to seeing her regain her proud place among the nations of the world.
I emphatically wish we hadn’t had to endure the past eight hideous years in order to see this day. And I suppose it is likely that if the past eight years had been any less hideous, we would not be seeing this day. We have seen the worst. Dare we hope that, now, we may see the best?
All I know is..for the first time in a really long time, I can say with some conviction…
I’m proud to be an American.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Say or do the thing that no one else has had the brass cajones to say or do in public or on the air—the thing that until now, common decency, courtesy or decorum has kept sane people from saying or doing—and you will grab the world by the throat and keep them coming back for more.
Okay…I can play that game. I want to play that game. Just this once.
Here is what I wish I could scream from the rooftops tonight:
If you have not bothered to educate yourself on at least some of the vital issues of the 2008 presidential campaign;
if you only come out of the political woodwork every four years to cast your vote for whomever your pastor or your boss or your neighbors dictate;
if you’re going to cast your vote for leader of the free world based on which candidate you would feel most comfortable drinking a beer with;
if your vote is even slightly influenced by whom the media have transformed into a pop icon;
if your vote is cast as a tribute to and continued glorification of ignorance and racism…
Do the world a favor and
Sunday, November 2, 2008
If you hate the picture, I can make it go away...
And anyone who wants to make up a new heading/picture thing is welcome to do so and email it to me. They are easy enough to change and there is no reason in the world why we can't change them out whenever we want...
Saturday, November 1, 2008
We used to have an Austrian pine in the southeast corner of the yard. It was supposed to be the shrub version of the plant, but oh well. It finally got so tall that it was growing into the lines going into the neighbors' house. After the ice/snow storm in January of 04 the utility guys came around to top it. Mom asked if they'd just cut it down. Goodby tree.
So we're the proud owners of the stump of a pine tree. But, the pine tree isn't alone this fall. We had rain yesterday morning and then some sun and up sprang dozens of little tiny toadstools making their home in the bark of the old tree.
Also, I suppose you noticed that I added a blog list to the sidebar. I should have asked your permission on this. My idea was to show activity on each of our personal blogs, in case any "Women On..." readers would also like to visit our personal blogs. But it occurs to me that perhaps you might not want your personal blogs tied to this forum? Let me know, and I can change this if need be.
Here's another question: Cynthia, I have not figured out how to "follow" your blog. If there is a "follow this blog" somewhere on your page, I can't find it. But I noticed that Kat has figured it out... What's the story?
Lastly, has anyone happened upon someone they would like to be a contibutor to "Women On..."?
Let me know...