Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thank You, and Howdy


Thank you, Lisa, for that generous introduction and welcome. I know many of your contributors, and probably many of your readers, from my former life in AOL Journals, where I kept the Journals Windmills of My Mind, and The BiblioPhiles. I began my "new"Blogger blog, Quid Nunc?, almost five years ago as a necessity for joining the political group blog, The Blue Voice, formed by a gang of former AOL political Journalers at that time. When we started The Blue Voice I was tapped as the "environmental" writer for the group, as I had written copiously on the environment in my AOL journal. That blog continues, though only the fabulous Bruce Miller has maintained the will and ability to write frequently in it. Most of the other blog members, myself included, have been dormant for well over a year. Some of us have spoken lately about regrouping and bringing the Voice back to life. It remains to be seen.

Though Quid Nunc? was itself dormant for most of the years of its existence, I resuscitated it this past fall when I was missing a place to simply write about my current interests and passions, and am enjoying having a place to put my thoughts onto a public page. Around the same time, I discovered that some of my longlost AOL friends had ended up in this group of wonderful writing women. After following this blog for some months, and seeing that I was indeed still able to write coherently, had something to say and was going to keep up my own blog - I got up the courage to contact both Kat and Lisa and ask about being let in to the group.

So, here I am, hopefully with something to add to the mix, glad to be back in touch with some old friends, and have the chance to make some new ones. If you take a moment to check out Quid Nunc?, you'll see where my interests lie and what my subjects seem to be. Subject, always, to enormous changes at the last minute. That's me there, in a photo I have titled "Tired Old Broad With Cat."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Announcement/Welcome

I don’t think it’s escaped anyone’s notice that this little assembly of AOL-exiles has been victimized by a myriad of personal challenges that have impaired our abilities/desires to contribute to this collective. (They say life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…) We need a bit of a jump-start, n’est ce pas? I’m thinkin’ that perhaps a little new blood is in order.

And so I would like to take this opportunity to announce the addition of a new “author” to our sadly neglected little blog. Our old friend Marigolds2—from the long ago AOL journal land days—has asked to join our group, and I think she will be a fine addition. Marigolds had a couple of blogs in old Journal Land (the names of which currently escape me—help me out here, someone…) And is the author of Quid Nunc? here on blogger, as well as one of the contributors to the progressive political blog “The Blue Voice” –for which I was also privileged to write for a short time (before I sold my soul, I mean, before I bought the restaurant…)

So, go check out her blogs if you are unfamiliar with her writing. I hope you will welcome her on board as enthusiastically as I plan to.

Welcome, Mari. We are SO looking forward to your contribution.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Photo Op day...

It has been WAAAAYYYYY too long since I posted a picture.

Here's what could be next year's Christmas Card...


lucy xmas

Yes, it's huge. But it's pretty nice, too...

Monday, December 7, 2009

All This Talk About Faces and Humanity Got Me to Thinking...

Like many Boomers—the original “Peter Pan” generation—I find it almost impossible to believe I’m over thirty-five, much less fifty. Unfortunately I am rudely reminded of that reality several times a day…particularly when dealing with the—what do they call them, now…generation “y”?—with whom I am in close contact every day. Oh, yes; there are times when I definitely feel like the moldy old relic I am. For the most part, though, I see myself as the same hip, anti-establishment almost-renegade I was thirty-five years ago. Plus a few pounds and a bit of perspective…

It’s funny how the accumulation of years upon the planet begins to impart a sense of history to those of us who are paying any attention at all. It starts when we begin to see our parents as human beings; we notice and understand the things they conquered, the mistakes they made, the hurdles they cleared. And we see how those things eventually became part of who WE are. That knowledge settles upon us like the stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, eventually, acceptance—that we are, to a large extent, those people from whom we struggled so valiantly to break away and distinguish ourselves. Little do we know that, another decade or two down the road, as our parents pass on and all we have left of them is what we can see in the mirror, we will cling to that connection as if it were the last life ring thrown over the side of the Titanic.

That compilation of years has brought me another bone to chew, of late. I’m beginning to see how we Boomers have failed our children. How our mistakes—those things we did thirty or forty years ago when WE were in charge of writing history—became a less than exemplary model for the generations that have come after us. We were all about bucking the system. We were all about re-writing the rules to suit our own sensibilities. We were young and we were free—or we wanted to be. Our parents’ social mores were stifling, prejudicial and outdated. So we threw away their rules and wrote our own.

Granted, some of those rules cried out for rewriting. We understood that our parents’ rules criminalized behavior that was the sole business of parties engaging in it. We didn’t/don’t need Big Brother hiding under our beds or dictating a social order based on ethnicity or skin color. But we were not at all selective about which of our parents’ rules we flushed down the toilet. Down it all went. We didn’t understand that the kind of freedom for which we clamored carries a great burden—first of discernment, then of self-regulation. We didn’t take the time to discern what part of the social code to which our parents subscribed was valid, timeless and universal. Our governing philosophy became, “We should be able to do whatever we want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else.”

And so, we have passed that watered-down, unspecific credo down to our children—who have proceeded to alter it even further. Today’s rule is, “We should be able to do anything we want.” Evidently, the “as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else” part of the rule was entirely too subjective—What does “hurt” mean? And who, exactly, is “anybody else”? And why should I care, anyway? So the next generation did away with that caveat completely.

In the end, what we thought was a leap toward great and necessary social liberation, turned out to be that...PLUS a step down the road to utter chaos. All because we didn’t understand that human beings are notoriously incapable of self-regulation. Because we didn’t understand that was why our parents’ rules—which were surely mutations of their parents’ rules—were developed in the first place. Now...NOW that we have managed to put a few decades under our belts and acquire some of that "historical perspective" I mentioned, we GET IT. But what can, what WILL we do about it? How can we rebuild what we tore down? Who will listen to us now?

And can we hope that our children will "get it" before their children, or their childrens' children, drag us down to complete anarchy?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Seeing faces

Earlier this week, my city started placing American flags every few feet along the main street of our town. Tomorrow morning, a local National Guard unit is leaving for their deployment, and the community is gathering first at the high school football stadium and then along the streets to send them off as their convoy drives through town. In the last week, I've worked with at least six brides to be who moved their wedding dates from a few months away to the next couple of weeks. Their fiances', who are serving in different branches of the active military and National Guard, will all be deployed overseas by the end of the year.

The surge in troops is part of an exit plan, but it cannot be seen solely in terms of strategy. It holds thousands of faces and touches even more lives. Our troops deserve to know that we, as fellow citizens, friends and family, respect their service. They deserve to know that our government will support them better than it has shown itself to do. I can't seem to join in the flag waving though.

When I see all these flags, I feel somber. I wonder how many of those beautiful young women I've worked with will be widows before they know what it's really like to be a wife. I wonder how many funerals I'll either attend or know of that will make me think back to this week.

I have no answers to this violent mess. I'm too disquieted to even work up the years old righteous outrage about this war. This is what is on my mind: There have been 4,687 coalition deaths,
including 13 civilian Department of Defense employees. 31, 575 U.S. troops have been wounded in action. 40, 000 troops have been diagnosed with PTSD, and it is feared that many others are hiding this illness.

There will never be an end to war unless the entire human race is transformed, and I just don't see that happening anytime soon. That doesn't absolve my lack of answers, and it doesn't ease the feeling of impotence I have about my prayers for peace and safety. The least I can do is remember some of the real cost of this war and treat it seriously. I won't be waving a flag tomorrow morning. I don't know if I'll be on the main road of my town tomorrow morning, but I do know that these men and women will be in my mind and heart.

Originally posted at
Sorting The Pieces.

Good Reading

Here is a wonderful essay written by one of our "Followers..."


Hobbes, Rousseau, and the Nature Of Humankind


It really is a "Must Read."

Go!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

PINK GLOVE DANCE

This is a wonderful video. Medline Industries, Inc., began manufacturing pink gloves as a way to promote breast cancer awareness, and they agreed to donate some of the profits from the sale of the pink gloves to fund mammograms for women who can’t afford them. To promote the gloves and breast cancer awareness, more than 200 staff members of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, made this video wearing the pink gloves and dancing to Jay Sean’s song “Down”. Enjoy (and get a mammogram!).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

SHE SAID YES

It may be my iconoclastic, eternally questioning little soul but it’s been years since I bought into the “gentle Mary, the meek and mild” interpretation of Jesus’ mother. I guess this is my not very traditional take on the advent season.

A few years ago I found myself asking “what if Mary had said no?” In theory she could have. We do have free will within our relationship with God. I assume she was a well brought up, faithful Jewish girl. She’d probably been to the synagogue; was familiar with the Law and the commandments. She was betrothed; she was as good a married. Customarily it was all over except for the blessing as soon as the marriage contract was signed and here was an angel announcing that if she said yes Someone Else was going to be the Father of her first born. Even if all this was God’s idea, if Mary said yes she was technically committing adultery. If you look at it one way God was breaking His own commandment.

Her first thoughts just may have been “Joseph is not going to believe this” followed by “and neither will anyone else.” Then I can see her straighten up, lift her head and step right off the path of the known of the Law and into the unknown of the Promise.

This was no empty vessel. When God said “walk with me” she reached out and took His hand. Then they both reached out to Joseph and said “trust, it will work out.” Then to add a little extra adventure to the story and get mom to Bethlehem where the prophecy was to be fulfilled the Romans decided that this year would be a really good time for a census. And to accomplish this exercise in imperial bookkeeping for tax purposes everybody had to be counted SOMEPLACE ELSE. Imagine nearing your due date and traveling from Galilee to Bethlehem either one….step….at…..a……time, or perched on the back of a donkey. Makes me sea sick just imagining it and I’m not nine months pregnant.

Then because everyone else in Judea had to be someplace else at the same time as everybody else in Judea, she found herself giving birth in less than shall we say desirable conditions. In a stable for crying out loud. At least it wasn’t by the side of the road. I guess you have to count your blessings. Many Mediterranean buildings do have the living quarters over the barn; even if the stable was in the ground floor of the inn, it was still a stable. Most western mothers to be would probably faint at the idea. The heck with the Father, I’d want my mother, now.

So Mary’s managed to give birth to her promised first born. The family has been counted, the baby has probably had his bris and they learn that life just keeps getting better and better. Somehow the new parents discover that Herod the Great AKA Herod the Paranoid and Extremely Ruthless believes that while prophecies of promised Messiahs are all very well in theory, he prefers theory to fulfillment. It would be better to return home,eventually, by another road. Via Egypt. Joseph’s house and workshop probably weren’t all that much, but it was home. I mean, here we are stuck in a stable and now we’re homeless and on the run. Just keep repeating “we did say yes, we did say yes…..”

Traveling overland through country that’s just this side of being a desert on donkey back toting a newborn? If that isn’t trusting in the promise I don’t know what is. I can only imagine what was running through their minds every step of the way; “we did say yes, we did say yes, we did say yes…………”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Truer Words Were Never...E-Mailed

I received this in a forwarded e-mail today.

I don't usually go ga-ga over chain emails, but I'll gladly make an exception for this one. It is so priceless, so perfect, so spot-on--I wish I'd written it.

Subject: Lost

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him,

"Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

"She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be an Obama Democrat."

"I am,"replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CAN WE SAVE OURSELVES?

So, the health care reform opponents have been at it again. Using images from Nazi Germany. Trying to tie this administration somehow to those…….abominations. Are some of these groups so hard up for fodder for their campaigns that they have to resort to using these horrors for personal gain? This is personal opinion, but I find this: God save us, these actions seem to be committed by individuals who are either abysmally ignorant or criminally cynical. If it’s through ignorance than I can only think they’ve been sitting in a corner with their fingers in their ears humming really, really loud. If it’s cynicism; honestly why should I be surprised. We’ve seen it before, over and over in the last election campaigns. Karl Rove would be so proud.

I stumbled across a rerun of a short mini series on the early years of John Paul II starting with the occupation of Poland by the Nazis. The program reminded me of other material I’ve read or watched over the years. I worked my way through the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in the ninth grade but seeing is still more immediate than reading.

Here was true horror. The Holocaust not only of the Jews but the attempts by the occupying forces to stamp out Polish language and culture. The Nazi’s plans for the Slavs were slightly more generous than what was planned for the Jews, but not by much. The attacks on refugee columns. The bombing and near wholesale destruction of cities. The closing of schools, seminaries and universities. Deportation of men and women as slave labor in the Reich. Teachers, professors, clergy, civil leaders, even monks and nuns either shot without trial or sent to concentration camps. Constant harassment by occupying troops. The country stripped of resources, the population to be reduced to slavery, ignorance, and near starvation. The Poles fought back, not only with guns and bombs but with underground theaters, schools and seminaries.

Heaven save us. May this country never be faced with a similar fate. America was singularly fortunate at the end of the war. We didn’t have to rebuild our cities, homes and factories. We could count our dead in thousands, not millions and almost all of those were military not civilians.

I’m truly afraid that we’re past the point where we’re willing to talk to each other instead of shouting at each other. I’m even more afraid that the violence in out language is mirrored in the constantly increasing physical violence around us. In the last week a police officer was killed in a drive by shooting in Seattle, the shootings in Texas and another in Florida. I feel like I'm watching a train heading downhill with no brakes and the bridge is out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

YOU LIVE IN OREGON.......

A friend of mom's passed this along to her.


THIS IS WHAT JEFF FOXWORTHY HAS TO SAY ABOUT ‘LIVING IN OREGON’…….


If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don’t work there, you live in Oregon.

If you’ve worn shorts, sandals and a parka at the same time, you live in Oregon.

If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Oregon.

If you measure distance in hours, you live in Oregon.

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in Oregon.

If you switched from ‘heat’ to ‘A/C’ and back again in the same day, you live in Oregon.

If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both doors unlocked, you live in Oregon.

If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Central, Southern or Eastern Oregon.

If you design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over 2 layers of clothes or under a raincoat, you live in Oregon.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow and ice, you live in Oregon.

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Oregon.

If you feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash, you live in Oregon.

If you know more than 10 ways to order coffee, you live in Oregon.

If you know more people who own boats than air conditioners, you live in Oregon.

If you stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" signal, you live in Oregon.

If you believe that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain, you live in Oregon.

If you can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, and Dutch Bros., you live in Oregon. (That’s coffee, folks. I'm sure other states could say the same about their regional coffee sellers.)

If you know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon, you live in Oregon. (Especially if you know that fish are being discussed without salmon added to the description)

If you know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Clatskanie, Issaquah, Oregon, Umpqua, Yakima and Willamette, you live in Oregon.

If you consider swimming an indoor sport, you live in Oregon.

If you know that Boring is a city and not just a feeling, you live in Oregon.

If you can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food, you live in Oregon.

If you never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho, you live in Oregon.

If you have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain, you live in Oregon.

If you think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists, you live in Oregon.

If you buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time, you live in Oregon.

If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your friends (Oregonians or otherwise), you live or have lived in Oregon.


This is true of Washington too. They just have more rain and more snow. If we get a foot of snow in the Southern Cascades; Washington will probably get three feet on Snohomish Pass. At that point getting through on I90 get a little problematical.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

LOOKING AT THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

Bandit is the only cat we've ever had that regularly sleeps on her back. I mean no matter what position she starts out in; she ends up on her back when she feels really safe and relaxed. She really loves mom's chair and she's even taken to doing it when Lucky (the senior kitty) is around. But, Lucky doesn't yank any chains unless she really feels like it.
I love her lazy, half asleep grooming. She almost makes it to her ears.


Sort of washes her face.


Cruisin' on auto pilot

I'm so totally adorable aren't I?




Tuesday, November 3, 2009

VISITORS



We live on the east side of Kelly Butte. The butte is about seven or so blocks long and basically runs from Centennial to the river with one street to cross on the south end to get to the river. The wild critters can go through the pack and hit the woods south of town or work their way up the greenway along the bike path for a couple of miles. Heck I wouldn’t put it past them to swim the river or use the railroad bridge, follow the tracks and hit the hills on the other side of Glenwood.

Our back yard goes up the hill and the backyards of the lots up the hill go down the hill leaving a fair amount of tree and brush covered ground that the deer can cross to go back and forth. Many of the yards are fenced but ours isn’t. So, we’re part of the deer expressway. And they aren’t too proud to raid the feeders or check out the ground below for what spills over. Please do. The squirrels are such sloppy eaters.

This morning we had a momma and her twins drop by for a visit. I got some half way decent shots through the windows.



Monday, October 19, 2009

On The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

I’m sure everyone thought the resident Obama fan would have some comment about the President being selected to win the Nobel Peace Prize. So here are my two cents:

Do I think Mr. Obama’s selection for that lofty prize may have been a bit premature? Yes, I do. Do I think President Obama has had an opportunity to implement his world-peace-enhancing policies? No, I do not. Do I believe that our Congress/electorate/national media will even allow him to implement those policies? Hard to say.

But what I think is not important. In fact, what we as a nation think isn’t important. The Nobel Prize is awarded by a committee that represents, arguably, global interests. And that is key.

What we don’t, as a nation, see—what we refused to allow ourselves to believe for eight years—was how far, under the hand of the Bush Administration, the United States of America had fallen from the ideals that had made her the great nation she was. After the September 11th attacks, the US turned cowardly. Fear made her retract the great wings of freedom and protection with which she traditionally attempted to enfold the world. Fear made her stretch her sharp talons in the direction of any threat, real or imagined. Fear made her claw and snap and growl. A world that had depended upon a strong, brave, free and generous America saw the US turn into a very large, very wounded animal, with the Bush Administration continuously chewing upon the sores to keep them open and to keep her fearful and angry and half-crazed with pain. And the world became afraid—of us.

Finally, We the People regained our senses and drove the party responsible for our loss of respect on the world stage out of the White House. Sure, we elected a man who got the job pretty much because he was as far from the person and policies of the previous Administration as you could get. President Obama was elected because he was NOT George W. Bush, and as far as the rest of the world is concerned, that (obviously) carries a tremendous amount of weight. Mr. Obama has at the very least talked the talk of a complete about-face from the previous administration’s policies. That was enough to impress the Nobel Committee, to inspire them to award the Peace Prize to the man who personifies the restoration of the United States of America to her rightful place in the world—that of Uniter, not Divider.

I look at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize as having been awarded more to the people of the United States than to the new President. We kicked the bad guys out, and demanded the change that the Obama Administration represents. Let’s just hope that, now, we go forward and implement that change the world so desperately needs to see in us.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Transition Works


Sanibel Island, Christmas week 2003


Back when she was fourteen with long, naturally colored hair and braces on her teeth, I couldn't have imagined how quickly the years would go and how interesting they might be.We are coming up on twenty-one! (What?!) and that means all those dreams I've been dreaming and all those worries I've been worrying are now right in front of me and the time has come to make some concrete plans, allow for some flow to them and get down to the business of bringing Emily into adulthood.



It's daunting.



I began the process of transition to adulthood back in junior year of high school when I approached the school about a part time, after school job. With a job coach. I was pleasantly surprised and mildly shocked when the school okay ed a vocational evaluation and a quickly timed meeting followed and that very afternoon the job facilitator found her a paying job at a local store, two hours, two afternoons a week with a job coach. She's been working ever since!


That job was a wonderful job at a local five and dime, now closed. But oh! She has a wonderful boss and a job coach match that clicked and it's been going forward since. The store closed one year after she began working there but her job coach mosied on over to the grocery store next door and Emily found herself gainfully employed pretty much before she was unemployed!


Same deal, two hours, two afternoons and she loves this job. She's been there over a year and a half now and has developed some co-worker friendships in-house. Which is where they will stay. But the in-house friendships does this mother's heart good. They remind me that there are still good people in the world and that my daughter is fortunate to be surrounded by folks who respect her, support her and like her.


Will her life always be this way? I like to think so. Ah, but I am more realistic than naive and so I tend to walk around with the feeling that a shoe is going to drop or the eggs aren't going to hold me. A small price to pay to see this wonderful young woman have a good, meaningful life.


Now we are facing one more year of school and then what? What will she do during the day? Continue where she currently works -- for two days, two hours? Will more hours be available? Will transportation miraculously appear? Who will her friends be in adult life? Where will she spend her off time? At home, alone? With Mom or Dad? Or will she go to a day program? A sheltered work shop? (shudder at that thought) Forty hours? Twenty hours? Health insurance?


As I mentioned, it's daunting.

While the dream is to eventually find Emily living in an apartment with friends [and help] for the moment ...

...I envision her living at home, with Mom & Dad, getting up in the morning and then going off to a day program, perhaps three days a week, and on the other two days working at her job. I envision transportation pulling into the driveway, but that's a dream that's not going to happen, so pull yourself together Mom and envision you and Dad doing the transportation piece.


Emily will be happy because she'll spend time with friends, learning new skills and fine tuning the ones she knows and we all will be healthy and ... living happily ever after.


Nope! Don't tell me no. I ain't gonna listen! Weekends will be filled much as they are now, with Friday night social group and Saturday morning sports and time at the gym when we can. Visits with cousins and aunts and friends and mall trips and phew ... I'm tired thinking of all we accomplish now and then I wonder, 'just how does one do this for ... ever?'


How do I make this happen? Right now I am attending a series of work shops put on by a local ARC program and I am busily calling day programs, post grad schools and day rehabs for visits to check them out and see what they have to offer. I have been talking to DDS to see what exactly they'll fund. Let me tell you, the answer there is usually 'We don't do that.' or 'There is no funding.' But I know better and don't want to hear there's no money, 'cause I know there is. I don't want to hear 'we don't do that' because I know you can if you want to and I know there are many ways to knit a sweater and we're probably using a similar pattern to others but our cables might be a bit thinner or maybe a bit more complex.



Relax, I'll help YOU figure out what she needs and we'll go from there. Team work. Team effort. Just the way it was when she was a toddler, a preschooler an elementary student and then middleschooler and highschooler. It's all about the team and the people that will come together to help make her life meaningful.


I've already begun to worry about depression and how it will set in if she goes from five or six very active days out in the world to sitting home waiting for me to get home from work. That will not work and I won't allow it, but none the less, I worry about it.


Will I be able to cut my hours back? Retire? Work evenings? Will I be able to pull any of this off?


But more importantly than anything I've thought of or worried about ...
What will Emily want for herself?

June 2008 holding brand new cousin Jazmine.

Her license? A car? A house? A husband? A baby?



The one thing that Emily hasn't learned ... is that she really can't have it all.

Not in the way you or I can. Or the way her sister or her cousins can. But it seems to me there is a built in knowledge that what she can have, she can have differently.

And the rest? She aspires to it. All of it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WE WRITE BECAUSE......

Why do we write? Because if we didn’t we wouldn’t true to ourselves. We hate the dry spells. Life gets in the way and we can’t write as often as we’d like to. The brain goes totally blank and we can’t come up with the words we need to save our souls or at least our sanity. And then I start to feel so empty because if I don’t write I’m not me.

It’s hard to believe, but this wonderful little poem was written in the eighth or ninth century by a Benedictine monk who also happened to be Irish. We don’t know his name but he lived in St. Paul’s Monastery on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance. The Irish church had more than a few religious who founded religious houses from Ireland to Italy. To be true to himself, the monk has to follow the bread crumb trail in search of spiritual truths that are food and drink to him. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be a writer. To be true to himself the monk’s furry room mate has to chase mice. If Pangur Ban didn’t chase mice he wouldn’t be a cat. PANGUR BAN

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Often times a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

A wonderful little poem that has managed to survive for nearly twelve hundred years. I first came across this poem in May the Wind be at Your Back by Andrew Greeley. Granted if Pangur Ban doesn’t catch mice he’s not only not true to himself, he’s also going to get awfully hungry. Not quite true for his person.

Cross posted in Green Woman.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Journey of Life, The Journey of Grief

Our friend Robin—who is walking a journey of crushing grief caused by the death of her son a little over a year ago—has posted a couple of entries about a conversation she had with a friend over breakfast recently. Wherein the friend seemed to communicate that Robin should be…somewhere else in her journey. Maybe having achieved more distance, more “closure;” thereby making it easier, perhaps, for her friends to begin to relate to her again.

Today, Robin mentioned that her friend had told her, “In the end, the only thing you can do is choose happiness.” Perhaps, if this friend has ever experienced a stunning, incapacitating grief, this is what she believes she did to put it behind her. Personally, I think it’s a flawed concept.

One does not choose happiness, any more than one chooses to grieve. Our emotional states are largely dictated by outside influences over which we have no control. If I witnessed a terrible accident in which hundreds of people died horribly before my eyes, could I then make everything all better by turning around, walking away and choosing to be happy? Hardly.

Still, I know, in my own journey with grief, there were times when I had to choose to step away from the sadness. If only for a few seconds, or a minute, or a couple of hours. At first, it’s almost impossible to do, because you feel the very act of pushing out of the sadness is a betrayal to the memory of the loved one you have lost; a discordant note in a life that now has to be lived without someone too important to lose; a futile exercise in sublimating a pain that will never go away. But, at some point, you realize that you have to walk out of the pain or be totally and forever consumed by it. You want to remember who you were, even though you know you will never be that person again.

And it sticks to you, that sadness...like a magnetic fog. You may not have a strong grasp on reality outside your grief, but you can be certain of this: that the sadness is always there, it will return and enfold you like a shroud. Days…months…decades after the loss, the sadness is there.

So, no…I’m not living in a place of acute grief any more. Not right now. However, I don’t expect that aspect of life to become anything but more familiar as I move into my own twilight years. I think it would be much harder to face if I hadn’t realized early on that you don’t get over grief. You don’t “recover” from it. Ever. You come to the understanding that the grief—the loss—is now a part of who you are. You embrace it; you pick it up, sling it over your back and keep walking.

In Robin’s post today, she contemplated the purpose of life. Is the purpose of life to be happy? Or is it, as an aspiring Presbyterian minister believes—to know and love God? What’s MY answer?

Certainly life isn’t all about being happy. The pursuit of “happiness” is an often selfish undertaking that can, as often as not, end in disaster, and inflict pain on others. To know and love God? Um…I don’t believe in “God,” at least, not in the sense in which that Power is described and worshipped in our current popular belief systems.

I look at life as a journey. From where and to what, I really have no idea. There is incredible beauty and nearly unendurable sadness to be experienced along the way. There is more love and wonder and worth around the next corner, as surely as there is another tragedy or horror waiting somewhere farther down the road. So you have to keep going. You have to…you have to…pick up the changes and the losses and the tears and the tatters and the heartbreak. Sling them over your back, and keep walking. To do otherwise would cheat yourself, and dishonor this incredible gift—and challenge—that we call “life.”

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A MODEST PROPOSAL

I did something I very rarely do. I bought a best seller while it was still on the best seller list. It’s Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. And based on my first blast through the book I have a suggestion that would put Mr. Polansky’s talents to good use and keep him too busy to enjoy the delights of either France or his home I Switzerland for a very long time. How about a life sentence to community service making documentaries? On location.

He could start with the stories of poor or rural girls from Nepal to Malaysia and Thailand. Lured with promises of decent work in the cities or outright kidnapped they end up in a brother. Drugged, beaten and terrorized until they submit. Discarded when they reach their early twenties as too old and often with added bonus of infection with the AIDS virus.

Then there’s the use of rape as a weapon of war in Central Africa, Sudan, Darfur, the Congo region of Africa, Rwanda, Kosovo, or Bosnia. Tracking down and telling the stories of the survivors and how they’re putting their lives back together one day at a time, one step of a time. That should keep him busy for at least a year.

I have a title for a third possible documentary. One Woman a Minute courtesy of Mr. Kristof’s book. Approximately one woman dies every minute, sixty minutes an hour, twenty four hours a day, three hundred sixty fire and a quarter days a year. They die in child birth or from complications of the birth. They die from ignorance, lack of pre natal care, or lack of post natal care. They die because they were married too young. They die because in too many parts of the world girls and women are the last in line when the food or medicine runs short. They die because they need surgery and the family has no money to pay the doctors that won’t help unless they’re paid first. They die because the doctors are willing and the supplies aren’t there or were stolen. I could go on and on.

Even with our teetering health care system an American woman has excellent odds of surviving; ours are 1 in 4,800 of dying in childbirth. Not the best; the odds are 1 in 47,600 for a woman in Ireland but it still beats the hell out of the 1 in 7 for a young other in the Western African country of Niger.

There’s hope in the world too. The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh pioneered the use of micro credit loans to help villagers start small businesses, very small businesses. The catch? Almost all the loans go to women. When a woman earns extra money she puts it into her family. And in parts of the world where access to education is severely limited those extra coins can make a difference between some education and no education at all. Here’s a statistic for you. Six dollars a year for a new school uniform for a South African school girl can help keep her in school and unmarried for another year. That education can help her put off early child birth and raise her chances of surviving to raise those children.

I could go on, but those four would do for starters. If he manages to get those done there’s a world full of hurt and courage to be recorded out there It would not only bring Mr. Polansky face to face with the pain of your girls forced into the sex trade. It would also remind the women of the United States, Canada and Western Europe of what too many of our sisters are still forced to endure.

Cross posted in Walking With Hope.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beauty and The Beast...

This is Samantha Geiner at 13. I found this photo on Google Images. This is what she looked like when Roman Polanski decided to give her champagne and a Quaalude and have sex with her. Mr. Polanski was 44 at the time.

When Mike Wallace caught up with him after he'd fled to France in 1977, here's what Polanski had to say about Samantha in the days before the internet and Google Images: "Well since the girl is anonymous and I hope that for her sake she will be, I’d like to describe her to you. She is not a child, she’s a young woman, she had testified to a previous sexual experience, she was not unschooled in sexual matters, she was consenting and willing, whatever I did was wrong I think I paid for it; I went through a year of incredible hardship, and I think I paid for it…"

I have strong feelings about this, but I wasn't going to post about it. Why not? Because I haven't the heart to read comments defending Roman Polanski, should anyone make them. Which isn't to say you shouldn't make them, if you feel that way. Just that I get a sort of sick feeling, reading them. But after I saw Robert Harris' OpEd article in the NY Times defending Mr. Polanski, I was so disgusted I decided to go ahead and post.

Except that I found myself strangely at a loss for words. And so I decided to post this excerpt from Steve Lopez' September 30th article in the LA Times, in which he comments on quotes from Samantha's grand jury testimony:

Q: Did you take your shirt off or did Mr. Polanski?

A: No, I did.

Q: Was that at his request or did you volunteer to do that?

A: That was at his request.

She said Polanski later went into the bathroom and took part of a Quaalude pill and offered her some, as well, and she accepted.

Q: Why did you take it?

A: I don't know. I think I must have been pretty drunk or else I wouldn't have.

So here she is, at 13, washing down a Quaalude with champagne, and then Polanski suggested they move out to the Jacuzzi.

Q: When you got in the Jacuzzi, what were you wearing?

A: I was going to wear my underwear, but he said for me to take them off.

She says Polanski went back in the house and returned in the nude and got into the Jacuzzi with her. When he told her to move closer to him, she resisted, saying, "No. No, I got to get out."

He insisted, she testified, and so she moved closer and he put his hands around her waist. She told him she had asthma and wanted to get out, and she did. She said he followed her into the bathroom, where she told him, "I have to go home now."

Q: What did Mr. Polanski say?

A: He told me to go in the other room and lie down.

She testified that she was afraid and sat on the couch in the bedroom.

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: Him.

She testified that Polanski sat down next to her and said she'd feel better. She repeated that she had to go home.

Q: What happened then?

A: He reached over and he kissed me. And I was telling him, "No," you know, "Keep away." But I was kind of afraid of him because there was no one else there.

She testified that he put his mouth on her vagina.

"I was ready to cry," she said. "I was kind of -- I was going, 'No. Come on. Stop it.' But I was afraid."

She said he then pulled off her panties.

Q: What happened after that?

A: He started to have intercourse with me.

At this point, she testified, Polanski became concerned about the consequences and asked if she was on the pill.

No, she told him.

Polanski had a solution, according to her.

"He goes, 'Would you want me to go in through your back?' And I went, 'No.' "

According to her, that didn't stop Polanski, who began having anal sex with her.

This was when the victim was asked by the prosecutor if she resisted and she said, "Not really," because "I was afraid of him." She testified that when the ordeal had ended, Polanski told her, "Oh, don't tell your mother about this."

He added: "This is our secret".

NOTE: You can read Steve Lopez' excellent article in it's entirety here, and, if you have the stomach for it, you can read the entire transcript of 13-year-old Samantha Geiner's Grand Jury testimony here.

cross posted at Talking to Myself

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Change Is In The Air Because My Kilter Isn't There

I had popped off an e-mail to a blogging friend ... one from way back on AOL-J (that many of you know as well) and the response I received was a bit disconcerting.

It seems this friend is going to be off line a lot more than on (from now on? forever? or for a while?) and I absolutely respect that.

I certainly didn't ask why, because if I did I wouldn't be respecting that. And I don't want to make this about me ... but I somehow feel as though I've let this person down. Call it a gut feeling, woman's intuition or even paranoia if you will.

But the news that this blogger was going off line indefinitely (forever? for a while? from now on?) got me to thinking a bit 'harder' than I have been or usually have about my own blog.

I've fallen into the trap of slacking off ... and I have contributed I am sure to the demise of the sense of community some of us feel, although I know not all of us [from AOL] feel that way.

"So," you think, "She's still going on and on and on about blah, blah, blah." On the one hand that's true, but on the other, finally some light has dawned on Marblehead and I've realized I've been neglecting my own blog for a couple of fairly simple reasons.

The first is that I still have this tiny fear that an ex-girlfriend from real time life will find me and harass me. I should just get over it. If she does. She does. Not much I can do about it except to go private, but I was unhappy private at AOL-J so it stands to reason that when the opportunity popped up for me to post publicly so-to-speak, I jumped right in.

The second is that I often feel as though I have nothing useful to offer this crowd of bloggers. It's a huge community with lots of talented writers and interesting people who find very interesting or engaging 'things' to write about. So the dilemma becomes, "What should I write about?" I guess I haven't quite grasped the atmosphere here, although when I do get round to friends blogs, they are pretty much the same as they were before. Interesting and engaging.

I've finally figured out that I am out of kilter here ... just a bit ... but then I was knocked over today by the news that my friend (and yours) won't be on line much anymore. (forever? for a while? from now on?)

And I don't want to face a loss here again.

So I must look to my friends who are still here ... posting daily, weekly, infrequently, rarely, always ... for unspoken and unwritten encouragement.

Because I recognize that just by their being here ... they are being supportive.

What change is in the air? Well, I've been thinking about writing about what I know best ...

an old, old photo ...

... and so I am going to start at the very beginning and write the story of Emily.

Will the story be in order? Probably not. But will the story be entertaining and interesting?

Oh yeah. It will.

cross posted @ Flamingo Feathers

Monday, September 28, 2009

RIGHT WHAT'S WRONG

If you’re like me and you can remember the late sixties and early seventies with the “hard hats” and the “silent majority” you’ll probably also remember “my country right or wrong.” Imagine my surprise when I found at least one version that is just a little bit longer.

My country right or wrong; if right to be kept right and if wrong to be set right. I can live with that. Now if we could all agree on the wrongs that need to be set right. The devil truly is in the details.

Another of the “we don’t want socialism” letters in the local paper Sunday. Well, for starters, what do you mean by “we” Kemo Sabe? I don’t recall getting a call from anyone asking my opinion so let’s change we to “me and some of the people I know.” And then most of the writer’s examples refer to purely economic matters rights. Car choice, light bulbs, temperature settings, and one that I assume refers to the minimum wage. Kind of a narrow definition of freedom in my opinion.

Last time I checked any nutcase in the country can start their own church, pray that our current president will die unpleasantly and end up in the hot place without any cops showing up or their churches being closed. So I guess freedom of religion as long as you aren’t a Muslim, pagan, free thinker or a member of some Peacenik, tree hugger group is alive and well.

Oh, and you’re also free to be a former child TV star turned evangelist trying to rewrite Darwin and blame evolution for the Holocaust even though it appears you have no pst high school education in either science or theology. (see Kirk Cameron) Here I spent all those years going to the U of O and LCC, silly me.

The freedom to show up at a town hall where the president is speaking with an AK47 seems to be alive and well. However being an unarmed civilian anywhere near the G20 meetings last week in Pittsburg didn’t seem to entitle them to the same protections.

There’s a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that Saudi oil money built most of the Wahabi madrassas in the border areas of Pakistan.(one source Three Cups of Tea-really good book) So, yeah if you wanted to buy a big ass pickup a few years ago (and didn’t have something similarly big assed to haul) well gee I wonder how much American money ended up funding the training of the young men who are shooting at us now?

And it’s not just our driving. The average American meal has traveled 1500 miles by the time it gets to our tables. (source Animal, vegetable, miracle by Barbara Kingsolver) And since synthetic fertilizers and many pesticides have a petroleum base, trying to cut down on oil use takes on a whole other dimension.

We appear to still have the right to vote for the Republican or Democrat of your choice. That is unless you lived in some urban, largely minority neighborhoods in Ohio back in 2004. Precincts that didn’t have enough voting machines, were lucky that the majority of them worked, and found the doors closed promptly at 8 PM even though potential voters had been waiting in line for hours.

As for that pesky minimum wage; well hon if you’re an employer see if your workers will work for straight commissions. If you’re a worker I guess to be true to your ethics you should tell your boss you’re willing to work for what he/she is willing to pay and we won’t worry about those pesky overtime regulations.

As I worked on this I realized the list keeps getting longer and longer. After all it costs more to hire licensed electricians, plumbers, contractors you name it. Of course if you hire someone who can prove they have the training there’s a good chance your new wiring won’t short out and burn the house down. It costs more to make sure work places, packing plants, and eateries are clean and safe. I guess to be true to your non interference ethic you shouldn’t call the health department if you come down with food poisoning because somebody didn’t sanitize the tools and work surfaces after they diced the chicken before the salad veggies were prepped.

As I said at the begining, the devil does seem to be in the details since I suspect that my wrongs to be righted might just turn out to be someone else’s keep what is right, right.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

JUST ASKING

Something I'd like to ask everybody on all sides of the so called health care debate. I'm just curious mind you.

IF YOU CAN'T CHANGE YOUR MIND ARE YOU SURE YOU STILL HAVE ONE? (found on the web)

The Things You Find On You-Tube...

I have to thank Cynthia for digging this one up. I found it over at her blog, and it is absolutely PERFECT!!!




Oh yeah! I think we should be SOOOO proud!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yes, Mr. Carter...I Do Believe It's True

Former President Jimmy Carter on what might possibly be ailing present President Barack Obama's most vehement detractors:



In my humble opinion...

He's absolutely correct.

THE POWER OF THE DOLLAR

I’m on the updates mailing list for Sojourners, a progressive Christian ministry and magazine. I’ve gotten three requests to add my name to letters to be sent to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. The letters disagree with the stands that these pundits have taken on such issues as health care reform. I haven’t added my name but I did send this e-mail.

“ I have received your e mails asking me to sign letters to be sent to the like of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Hey, I don’t have a problem with that. I honestly believe that these pundits either don’t check their facts or are outright liars. I just don’t believe this tactic will work.

These commentators have built their business plan on a particular segment of the population. They aren’t going to abandon that audience. The audience that presumably listens to the commercials that pay for their airtime. They benefit from these advertising dollars. It would probably be harder but go after the companies. Without their dollars they don’t get airtime.

Hey, it’s perfect capitalism. The pundits have the right to say what they want. The companies have the right to spend their advertising dollars where they will. They just don’t have the right to do it with our dollars: the only votes we seem to have that count for anything.

I believe the message to the companies is simple. We find so and so’s views to be either poorly researched or out right lies. Since your company supports this programming with your advertising budget we can only assume that you either support these views or haven’t done your research either. It’s your right to do this. It isn’t your right to expect that you can do it with our money.

Heck, I’m probably not the first one to come up with this. And the word boycott has such negative baggage these days. From Irish home rule to Montgomery Alabama if the cause is just then God is with us.”

And the screams about censorship if such a campaign did work would be so, dare I say satisfying. And that’s one of the things that always bugged me about the likes of Limbaugh, Colter and Hannity. They claim the right to say whatever they want whenever they want. And nobody can say anything about it. Go after their advertisers and it’s “censorship.” As I said in the e-mail: you’ve got the right to say what you want. You just don’t have the right to do it on my dime.

So, I guess I’ll have to do some limited Fox watching with the mute button engaged. And be prepared to send some e-mails to their advertisers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Sorry" My Patootie...

Why are we ever shocked at the lengths to which the GOP will go to destroy the Democratic Party and anything associated with it?

Remember, this is the party responsible for badgering, belittling and eventually filing a trumped-up impeachment of the last Democrat to hold the office they believe should be exclusively theirs—by right or might, lies, arm-twisting, murder, and/or deals carried out in smoky back rooms or private board rooms.

I remember, ten years ago, never believing that the party out of power would carry their thirst for supremacy all the way to an attempt to oust the duly elected President of the United States. But then it happened…I was aghast. Weren’t we all, really?

Now we have a Democrat in office, one who was elected by a people sorely burned by eight years of Republican lies, bumbling, avarice and sword-rattling. The GOP screwed up everything they touched, and the people rewarded them by soundly throwing them out of office.

But the Republican Party has no intention of mending its ways. It has no intention of trying to “regroup” and reform itself into a party that speaks to the needs of the American people. Let’s face it…they don’t CARE about the American people. Have they not made that more than plain? Have they not proven that what they CARE about are power and money? For themselves, and themselves alone? Have they not proven that they will lie, cheat, steal, kill; attack and disgrace anyone or anything standing between them and the power to rule the world?

So don’t kid yourselves into thinking that Joe Wilson’s outburst at President Obama’s speech last night was any kind of mistake. That it was not carefully planned. That it was not part of the GOP’s continuing agenda to disgrace and discredit this President. Think about it.

Think very hard about the lengths to which the GOP will go to oust a sitting Democratic president. Think about the “Obama Birth Certificate” furor. Think about the “Socialism” ranting. Think about how we never thought the GOP would actually impeach Bill Clinton. If they did not hesitate to carry through with that plan, what might they have cooked up for Mr. Obama?

They will stop at nothing. And we had best get that in our heads, and act accordingly.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Don’t Go There

When I read Cynthia's post, I realized that it's not that people hate fat people these days; it's just that people HATE, period, and they do not shy away from expressing it. Well, no…it's not that they simply aren't shy about it. Nowadays, our society actively cultivates blatant, aggresive hatred.

We have entered an era of social anarchy. There are no rules. It's "Say Anything you Want, Do Anything You Want, and Screw The Other Guy (At Every Possible Opportunity.)" See someone do something embarrassing? Point to them and laugh, loud, immediately. Neighbor bugging you? Bang on his door and get right in his face. Indifferent service at a restaurant? Not leaving a tip is so passive…grab the server or the manager and demand satisfaction in the rudest possible terms. And by all means, carry a gun under the front seat of your car so you can take potshots at people who piss you off in traffic.

Movies, television, radio, professional sports—all those forms of entertainment upon which we have seized as an antidote to our stressful, crazy world—are the source and the conduit of this social erosion. And the internet…the internet is a dangerous thing. It is the perfect forum for people to display the deepest, most abhorrent emotions staining the floors and cracks of their souls—completely anonymously. "Comment" spaces are open invitations to this behavior; and so they've become cesspools of our secret deviance.

I learned long ago that if I wanted to enjoy my internet experience, and not feel soiled by the s**t that some people leave here, I would not go looking for it. So I rarely leave or look at public comments on any news story or feature on the internet. I don't want to lose the two grains of faith I have remaining in the basic goodness (or at least moral neutrality) of the human race…

Sunday, September 6, 2009

ANOTHER BOOGEYMAN

I didn't realize that merely being exposed to the president was so dangerous. Apparently the prez is planning to give a speech Tuesday morning that will be available to be shown to students in their classrooms. The subject? Stay in school and study hard. Sounds pretty harmless doesn't it? I mean it's not like the drop out rate has been falling and it's even worse for minority students, right?


To hear some of the conservative talking heads and panicing parents tell it the Visigoths are at the gates, the Mongols are ready to sack the city and their favorite hobgoblins are back under the bed ready to bite their ankles. One mother the regional cable network was in tears and looked like she'd been that way for awhile. Either that or she had a plentiful supply of chopped onions in the kitchen.


Good Lord woman. Do you honestly believe that one speech shown over a TV is going to undo all your parenting? Are you admitting in public that you have so little influence over your own children that one speech is going to undo everything you've taught them?


Oh, and incidently every person I've seen interviewed was white. Nah, that's just a coincidence. And I have some really prime farmland in southe eastern Oregon for sale. Just the other side of Fossil. :-)

Speaking of Pressing Partisan Agendas on Impressionable Young Minds...

Conservatives across the country, and especially here in Texas, are having a hissy fit over President Obama's speech to students scheduled for Tuesday. They say that the president is going to try to brainwash students by pressing a partisan political agenda on impressionable young minds. Speaking of which...when Mike and Chris were still in high school and President Bush was still in office, I began getting voice messages on my unlisted land line from an adult male asking Chris to return his calls. Mike and Chris each had cell phones which friends and family used to reach them, so I wondered about this guy calling our house. Chris ignored the calls, but that didn’t stop them. They became more frequent, and the guy sounded like a creep to me: “Hey man, this is Bob, c’mon, call me back, we have things to talk about.”

“Who is this guy?” I asked.

“Just some guy,” Chris answered, with typical, teen-aged male succinctness.

Alarmed, I returned the call myself. “Why are you calling my son?” I asked

He said that he needed to talk with Chris.

“About WHAT?” I asked. When he realized I wasn’t about to give up or to let him talk with Chris, he identified himself as an army recruiter.

It turns out that President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act requires all public high schools to turn over private student contact information to local military recruiters or lose federal funding. This particular provision of the Act was added by Louisiana Republican, then Representative, now Senator, David Vitter, who identifies himself as a "staunch conservative". The first sentence in his biography on his website reads: "David Vitter is dedicated to making life better for his young family and all Louisiana families." Uh-huh. He's reportedly pro-life and pro-gun rights but against same-sex marriage, funding for abortion providers, increases in CHIP (the state Children's Health Insurance Program) and amnesty for undocumented aliens. I guess he's a family values sort of guy. Oh, but in June 2007 he was also identified as a client of D.C. madam Deborah Jean Palfrey's prostitution service. And that wasn't just some random accusation by some liberal out to get him, he admitted and apologized for it. Hey, a guy has needs, right?

If you want to read more about military recruitment on public high school campuses, check it out here (Mother Jones). If you want to find out about more protesting this practice or if you want to opt out of the database, check out the excellent website, Leave My Child Alone.

cross posted at Talking to Myself

Friday, September 4, 2009

Full Moon…

Counter girl calls me to the phone. Customer complaint.

"We ate at your restaurant last night, and my receipt shows two charges of $1.00 each on 'Dept. 1…' What is that for?"

"Yes…you ordered two bacon cheeseburgers. We ring those up as the burger plus $1 for the rest of the stuff on it…"

"But you can't do that… That's terrible…!"

"No, you don't understand. The burgers you ordered were the special. They were $7.95—stated clearly on the special board. The way we ring those up is to ring up the plain burger at $6.95 and then ring up the dollar for the bacon and the cheese. You weren't overcharged. It comes out to $7.95.That's just the way we ring it up."

"Well, that's just a TERRIBLE way to do business. We WON'T be back! GOOD BYE!" *Click.*

Whatever….

The Bogeyman...

Meet Roger Stephens, a 61 year old Walmart shopper who took it upon himself to make his visit to a Walmart in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a more pleasant experience for himself by grabbing a crying two year old and slapping her in the face several times in an attempt to make her stop crying. Mr. Stephens reportedly said to the child's mother, "If you don't shut that baby up, I'll shut her up for you". The mother picked up her child and walked away, but Mr. Stephens followed her into the next aisle where he grabbed the child and slapped her several times, after which a fellow shopper restrained him until the police showed up and he was arrested for felony cruelty to a child.

If you want to get really depressed, read the comments in the various places this story is posted on in the internet. There are people defending this jerk.


On the arrest report, which is available on the internet, the child's race is listed as black. If that's correct, it makes me wonder...would he have felt compelled to do this, if it had been a white woman with a crying child? Would he have dared to do this if it had been a white man with a crying child? And if Mr. Stephens had been a black man hitting a white child in a Walmart just outside Atlanta, would this story be a different story?

cross posted at Talking to Myself

Sunday, August 30, 2009

SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

Business as usual. I was surfing for something else on the web and stumbled onto this beautiful version of the Lord’s Prayer courtesy of our Kiwi cousins down south. Leave it to the New Zealanders to adapt something and make it their own. And so often the attempts to update old prayers are well meaning but clumsy. This one works.


The Lord's Prayer(from the New Zealand Prayer Book)


Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in who is heaven:
The hallowing of our name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed b the peoples of the world.
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from on another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love now and fore ever.

Amen

Friday, August 28, 2009

Loving the hate

Tonight, for the first time ever, I found an article in a mainstream news magazine that addresses the prejudice against fat people in America. My initial reaction was wow. I've read articles like this before from different sources, but they have all had a stated Fat Acceptance agenda. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. With the exception of anti-all-weight-loss-diet dogma, I fall into that camp myself. This is Newsweek though. I see national news magazines as at least holding to the illusion if not the real goal of objectivity.

When I read the article, I have to admit that I was impressed. It addressed the general size of our population, the multiplicity of reasons behind obesity, the complexity and unrealistic expectations of weight loss, that good health and healthy lifestyles are found among the fat as well as the thin, that the rudeness fat people receive often drives them to avoid seeking medical treatment for non-weight related issues and that too much weight can have medical consequences. One of its links discusses the fallacy of the use of BMI as a health index and mentions a study that shows having a few extra pounds can add to one's life expectancy.

Then I started reading the comments about the article, and the migraine I thought I'd beaten into submission early this morning flared up with a huge spike of pain. One and a half pages into the comments, I had to give up. I almost chose not to write about this at all. I had to go back to the article though and read through the editor recommended links. Good stuff there as well, including some very interesting news about the institutionalization of fat prejudice. The comments on the main article, from what I read just proved one of the points that the article made. People love to hate fat people.

As one of the hated, I've done a lifetime of thinking about this. One of my current ideas is that our culture has a history of prejudice. It used to be something that was acceptable. What we now see as bigotry and hatred used to be called common knowledge. However, we, as a country and a culture, have had to go through a lot of growing pains to get to that point. We are supposed to have learned from the struggles, the unfairness, the bloodshed, the outright atrocities of the past.

This is especially true for the educated. Prejudice is something for the uncultivated, narrow mind, but the habits of prejudice have been ingrained by generations of practice. Maybe it's generations of seeing the first kid in class to know the answer be seen as the smart one, but reaching a quick conclusion, regardless of the complexity or factual data of a situation, has come to be regarded as a sign of intelligence. That alone can be powerful feedback. Add to that the enjoyment of hatred mentioned in the Newsweek article, and why wouldn't people enjoy prejudice and want to keep it around?

The old prejudices though are just no longer acceptable. We've learned too much. We have too much class to accept racial, ethnic and sexual bigotry as a culture (except for when we do but count on people to speak up), but we still want the comfort of a socially acceptable prejudice. Right now, fat people fill that niche.

It still ain't right. It's still wrong thinking, and there's a lot to be learned about weight, health and size.

This was originally posted at Sorting The Pieces.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Goodbye, Senator Kennedy

Back in May of 2008, when we first heard about Ted Kennedy's cancer diagnosis, I asked the ladies of "Women On" to gather their thoughts on Senator Kennedy and write a few lines. When I heard of Mr. Kennedy's death today, I went in search of those posts; mine, in particular, because I knew it said what I wanted to say today.

So, rather than just post a link, I'll repost the essay in its entirety here:


I went and asked others to gather their thoughts about Ted Kennedy, and now I find I’m having difficulty corralling my own.

JFK was the first President I knew. I was only eight years old on November 22, 1963—the day his presidency was ended by an assassin’s bullet. Even so, I recall clearly the images of that day and the days following. Jackie Kennedy in her blood-stained powder-pink suit; a shaken LBJ taking the oath of office with his hand resting on a hastily acquired bible; little John-John’s grave salute; the flag-draped casket rumbling through the streets of the capitol, the prodigious assembly of the Kennedy clan on foot behind it. And the photographs—color, black & white, blurred frames of home-movie film, from as many angles as they could lay hands upon—showing the President’s head exploding…over and over and over.

Less than five years later, we were tortured by images of Kennedy’s younger brother Bobby lying on the floor of a California hotel, stunned and broken, an assassin’s bullet in his brain. I was almost thirteen when Bobby Kennedy was killed. But for some reason I don’t recall as much of the media coverage of his assassination as I do of JFK’s. Two things come to mind: I remember that the country was still reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King two months before. And I remember Ted Kennedy, his voice strained with tears, eloquently eulogizing his brother.

I remember thinking how hard it must be to be Ted Kennedy. How must it have been to be the baby of that privileged household, and suddenly have all their political and social aspirations thrust upon his shoulders—at the callow age of 36? He most certainly was not the best nor the brightest of the Kennedy scions, but he was the last one standing. And as such, he would take on that burden. He had no choice.

Through the years, Ted has lived a difficult and challenging life. He fell heir to the Kennedy power and entitlement, but he also inherited their penchant for scandal and tragedy. Power and entitlement saved him from the Chappaquiddick scandal, but could not spare him from the tragedies of an alcoholic wife or a son crippled by cancer. And he has toughed out forty years of increasingly blood-thirsty media that find their greatest satisfaction (and readership) in toppling or at least tarnishing anything even resembling a "hero" in the public’s eye, and thus have chosen the Kennedy clan as one of their favorite targets.

Through it all, he’s been "Senator Kennedy." In 1962, he succeeded JFK as Senator from Massachusetts (the seat was virtually handed to him as soon has he became old enough to serve.) And he has held it ever since. Through the assassinations of both his brothers; from Viet Nam through 9/11 and Iraq; through the Cold War to the fall of the Soviet Union; through Democratic majorities and minorities, and the terms of eight presidents, Ted Kennedy has served. Forty-six years. Now, his constituents back him on his own merits, rather than on those of his two long-dead brothers or his politically potent surname. He’s the elder statesman…the liberal lion. The embodiment of everything the right wing loves to hate. He’s done his best.

So I wish Ted Kennedy godspeed as he faces his own bullet to the brain. May he fight the good fight, and may his brothers embrace him when it’s over.

And so they have, I'm sure...

"HEALTH" CONSUMERS

This entry says about half of what I’d like to say. I’ve got it in my head but getting it on paper is a problem sometimes. Oh, well, enter rant, stage right.


I know Lisa and I knew just a little of what her family went through during her dad’s final illness. Damn little it turns out.


In a twisted way, a very sick twisted way, what happened with her dad makes perfect sense. When our fellow Americans are referred to in the media it’s usually as consumers, not citizens and our mis-named health care system is not set up to deliver health: as if you could buy five pounds of health at so much a pound, but tests, procedures and surgeries. When Lisa’s dad was sent home, he was no longer a consumer of tests, procedures and surgeries.


At that point what he needed was human on human care. And when it comes to face to face, hands on interaction with another human being you have to fight like hell to get it. And the people who provide that care are lucky if they make a little above minimum wage. No reflection on them, the men and women in the trenches do the best they can with the little they get.


Dean Ornish made the comment in one of his books that a patient’s insurance company was willing to fork over at least twenty five thousand bucks to pay for by pass surgery but wouldn’t pay for office time for a doctor to counsel the patient on diet and exercise changes he/she could make to avoid needing the by pass in the first place or to avoid needing another one five years down the road.


“Reforming” health care won’t work until we rethink how we see the other human beings who live within the lines on the map labeled the United States. And that rethinking goes far beond the cost of an office visit. It's everything from access to clean locally grown food to cleaning up the toxic left overs that don't appear on corporate balance sheets. We’re human beings, not "consumers" and we have the right to be treated as human beings and to take the time to be human simply because that is what we are whether we choose to consume what the corporate culture wishes it could sell us or not.


The system, as it exists now, doesn’t support our humanity. So ladies, how do we remake the world?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another (Slightly Rambling) View on Health Care

Our friend Robin has posted a good piece on Health Care Reform here:

Health Care Rationing

She points out that her son, who works in food service, pays a lot for an awful insurance plan. He is lucky. My employees can't pay anything for any kind of plan. I couldn't possibly afford to provide it. Husband and I are covered by his Kaiser plan from his employer. If he stops working there, we are both out of luck as well.

I pointed out in a comment on Robin's post that the idiots screaming about "Death Panels" have obviously never tried to shepherd an aging parent through our health care system. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, the treatment he received amounted to minimal (and erroneous) diagnostics, and surgery to reduce the tumor and find out that the diagnostics had been off and he was much sicker than they thought.

Then they sent him home to die. Period.

We got no help from his "primary care physician." We were not referred to an oncologist. The only services he was directed to when he left the hospital were "home health'--which provided a constantly shifting array of inept nursing practitioners to come to house to "check on him" twice a week—and the place where we got his tube-feeding equipment and supplies.

No one gave us a prognosis. No one discussed with him or us what we could expect from the course of the disease. We had to scratch and claw for every bit of care he got, just to keep him comfortable. For four months.

A week before he died, when his hospice nurse had him checked into the hospital because he was unable to tolerate the tube feedings anymore and he was dangerously dehydrated, the resident on call at the hospital asked, "What is this man doing here?" Kind of like--"He's dying. He can't do that HERE."

And they made sure they got dad checked out of that hospital before he was in there long enough for Medicare to have to pay for the stay.

This was ten years ago. And let’s just say that I’m confident the system has not improved in the interim.

So who is getting all this great insurance coverage with all these choices and wonderful physicians that they don’t want to lose? And who is getting all the unnecessary procedures that they say are driving up the cost of health care? Who makes the decision that a 79-year-old man has lived plenty of life, and the dollars and the care need to go to someone else?

My family is slightly to the north of middle class, economically, and yet we are suffering substantially from the lack of accessible health care. Then I heard on NPR the other day that the West, particularly the Pacific Northwest, is a model for how well the HMO system can work. I looked at the radio like it had just vomited pea soup into my car...

Surely it’s evident that health care is just one more arena in which the wealthy are buying the right to control the outcome of the debate. Are we going to sit quietly and let that continue?

Monday, August 24, 2009

at long last...

























photos from Google Images


When I was a young woman I bought and read Glamour Magazine every month. I poured over the fashion photos and read the articles and spent a fair amount of time dreaming about someday writing some of those articles. A male friend once berated me for how much I loved that magazine. He said it was a complete waste of my time and mind to read it. I pointed out that he spent at least much time perusing Playboy, Hustler, etc. I don't remember him being properly chagrined, but it did shut him up.

I haven't read Glamour in years, but it's still around. In the September issue (on the newsstands now), in an article on feeling comfortable in your skin, Glamour ran a photo, not of an actress or supermodel or of anyone whose idea of lunch is a can of Red Bull, but of 20 year old Lizzie Miller (above, left), a softball playing, belly-dancing young woman who's coincidentally 5'11" tall, 180 pounds, size 12-14, and BEAUTIFUL. One of things I love about her photo is that she's not afraid to show that like most of us, she does not have a belly off which one could bounce quarters.

Since this issue hit the stands, Glamour has been inundated with favorable letters to the editor about this pic. By
modeling industry standards (there's an oxymoron for you) Lizzie Miller is a plus size model. Dove started the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, in an attempt to make people realize that beauty comes in all shapes, ages, and sizes. Maybe the message is finally beginning to take.

So which model do you find more attractive?

cross posted at Talking to Myself