Monthly Archives: April 2007

all-American weekend

I had a really lovely weekend.

https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/189/478345963_a2fccba148.jpgQuite a bit of time was devoted to my daughter’s preparations to go to her first prom. On Friday, I took her to have acrylic nails applied. Given that she’s had (unfortunately) bitten, ultrashort nails since about 4th grade, the sudden appearance of nails of even a modest length has caused simple tasks to become difficult: She has to work hard to button a shirt or open a door, her typing has slowed dramatically, and she asks for help with opening a soft drink can. Saturday morning we went and had her hair done; the result was a cascade of thick auburn curls, loosely pulled back and befitting a princess. (I have no clue how I gave birth to a daughter with such glorious hair.) On the way home, we stopped to purchase a white rose boutonniere for her boyfriend’s jacket.

When he came to pick her up, I was reminded that all over the country, during April and May, millions of high-school boys who normally wear nothing but shorts, athletic pants, or jeans (except maybe for dress pants on Sunday) are suddenly thrust into entirely unfamiliar garments: tuxedos. They have no concept of how the pants, jacket, and vest should fit or feel; my daughter described the helpless reliance on the motherly salesladies at the tuxedo shop when her boyfriend and his friend went for their final fitting. When he arrived at our house, he commented that his pants were still too loose, despite his mother’s taking them in a little and the adjustable tabs at the waist. I suggested suspenders and found some in our closet. He had no clue how to wear them, so I fetched my husband from mowing the lawn, and he came and assisted. Meanwhile, I was safety-pinning my daughter’s bra strap so it wouldn’t show at the back of her dress. It was like a scene from a Disney made-for-TV movie.

As they were on their way out, my daughter’s best friend arrived to borrow a purse, so we got some pictures of them together. Afterward, my 11-year-old son commented in an incredibly sweet way on how both girls looked beautiful, even though they looked so different.

I spent other parts of the weekend outdoors, enjoying the glorious weather: weeding flower beds, planting annual flowers in pots and hanging containers, and putting in new plants. I’m going to buy more flowers today, as well as some plants for the water gardens I have in tubs on the deck.

https://i1.wp.com/www.hubcapcafe.com/i/2001/north_branch/olds7101.JPGAnd yesterday, finally, the convertible came out of the garage for the first time this season, and we went for an almost 2-hour ride through the countryside. (The one in the picture isn’t ours, but it’s nearly identical, including the color.) We stopped for ice cream, as we often do, at a place that’s been in business for more than 50 years and draws huge crowds all day, every day, all spring and summer.

Ahhh, yes. It was a very excellent weekend. πŸ™‚

interesting, edgy new anti-war video

This just in from Brave New Foundation, an offshoot of Brave New Films, which brought us Outfoxed, Iraq for Sale, and more:

It’s almost May 1st. Who can forget the so-called “Mission Accomplished” from four years ago? Who can forget the pomp and circumstance, the primping and posturing in a staged photo-op built on the backs of those destroyed by the war. The mission has not been accomplished.

1. Watch the film
2. Sign the petition
3. Enter the contest

In honor of all those who have been killed, whose lives have been destroyed in this terrible war of choice, we have been working hard on a short film that will not let that horrific day go unnoticed.

Watch the film and spread it far and wide: http://tellusthemission.org/

We’ve also got a contest looking for what SHOULD have been on the “mission accomplished” banner. Submit your banner and the winning one will be on car bumpers all over the country! (You’ll get some cool stuff too) For more details, and to enter:

http://tellusthemission.org/home/win

The spoken word performance in the video was done by a wonderfully talented young man, Steven Connell, who’s been in feature films on HBO, Showtime and MTV. He is a strong, creative, and articulate voice in reaching a young and diverse audience. We are grateful for his time and effort, and to Norman Lear who first found and called Steven to the attention of a wider audience.

Just days before video and webset were to go online, an American soldier serving in Afghanistan wrote an op-ed which has since stirred up a national debate. The soldier questioned why we do not lower the flag to half-staff when a soldier dies at war. We at Brave New Foundation were so inspired by his question that we decided to begin a petition to amend the US Flag Code.

Sign the petition to have flags lowered for a day each time an American service member dies at war:

http://tellusthemission.org/

Please forward this on far and wide — to your friends, schools, churches, to any local television or radio. We must not let this day go unnoticed. We must make our voices and passions heard.

suppose they invented a breast cancer vaccine…

If a vaccine became available that would stop 70% of breast cancer, I have no doubt that 99% of parents would line up with their daughters to get the shots. As parents, we want desperately to protect our children from pain — from illness — from anything that might hurt them. Cancer is close to the top of most people’s personal list of Scary Things That We Do Not Want Associated With Our Kids, and breast cancer is a much-publicized and frightening slayer of women young and old; so providing our daughters with protection against such a scourge would be a no-brainer.

But guess what? When I took my daughter on Friday to get the first of a series of three Gardasil shots, the nurse said to her, “You know, you’re lucky to have a mom who’s letting you get these shots. A lot of mothers won’t.”

I find this so staggeringly mind-blowing that it’s nearly impossible to comprehend. I’m a mom who’s letting my daughter have a vaccination that will protect her from the HPV viruses that cause 70% of cervical cancer (and 90% of genital warts). I’m a mom who’s letting my daughter avoid the things that I’ve gone through:

  • The stress each and every year when it’s time for my Pap test
  • The anxiety of receiving phone calls that my test results were abnormal and I need to be retested (this has happened three times)
  • The stabbing pain of a cervical biopsy (this has happened twice)
  • The panic at being told that I have severe precancerous cervical dysplasia and that immediate treatment is necessary (only once — so far)
  • Surgery during which a sizable portion of my cervix was burned away with a laser to destroy the abnormal cells

You’re damn right I’m a mom who’s letting my daughter be protected against all these things — and against the worst of them all, the one I fear and will have to continue fearing my entire life: being one of the thousands of women who die each year in the U.S. from cervical cancer.

In some inexplicable manner, many parents have got it in their heads that letting their daughters have the Gardasil vaccine will give them license to run amuck sexually. I beg these people to remember that when they first considered having sex, the risk of the HPV virus and cervical cancer was not even on their radar. The sex-related argument against these shots is utterly specious — a fabrication of twisted, overly zealous minds.

Friday was one of the happiest days of my life, because I was able to personally help ensure my daughter’s protection against a killer. To be unwilling to do so — to deny this protection to a daughter — is surely tantamount to child abuse.

meat muffins

(How’s that for a subject line?)

I remain firm in my belief that cooking is therapeutic. Just ask my friend and sous chef, Jack.

I’ve had a long and stressful week, and yesterday I went to cook my weekly meal at church hopeful that making and serving the meal would, as it usually does, soothe my nerves and my soul.

It did.

But this week, I owed much of my enjoyment to the accident of not having sufficient loaf pans to hold all the meatloaf (10 loaves’ worth, to be exact, which can also be expressed as “two huge bowls full of more meatloaf than the average person cares to imagine”). What should we do? We began to make loaf shapes and put them in larger pans; but then inspiration struck. We would make meat muffins! We rounded up 5 pans, to hold 5 dozen muffins, and filled them to overflowing.

https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/224/465097595_87d78ccf71_m.jpg

The results were fabulous: The meat muffins finished cooking in less time than a loaf; they were beautifully brown; and they looked, well, cute, like little meaty muppets. We wished we had a way to put little googly eyes on them. (They tasted really good, too.)

https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/215/465097591_645157e492_m.jpg

The next time you’re making meatloaf (or vegetable loaf, or whatever variety of entree foodstuff you might normally make in a loaf pan), I recommend the muffin approach. It isn’t just food: It’s fun! πŸ˜€

mourning

https://i2.wp.com/visualpalate.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/mourning.jpgTomorrow morning my 6th-grade son leaves on the grade-level trip to Chicago — his first time away from home.

In two years, my daughter will leave for college.

How can I bear to let them go out into such a random and violent world?

the candidates spoke, and I’ve revised my opinions

https://i1.wp.com/www.moveon.org/images/home/features/endlesssticker200pxhome.gifLast evening’s MoveOn virtual town hall about Iraq was an extremely interesting event. Five other MoveOn members joined us at our home; we snacked, talked, petted our assorted cats and dogs as they wandered through, and listened to each of seven Democratic candidates. (About 1,000 such gatherings were held around the country.)

Each candidate gave a 3-minute response to the same opening question: “What is the best and fastest way to get out of Iraq?” They also each answered two questions submitted by MoveOn members, and then gave a 1-minute closing.

Go here to access audio of all the responses, transcripts, and a podcast of the entire event.

The candidates included three that I thought I knew well (Clinton, Edwards, Obama), two I knew marginally (Biden, Kucinich), and two I knew almost nothing about (Dodd, Richardson). I came into the town hall with firm opinions as to my favorite candidate. But by the end of the evening, I’d been impressed in ways I didn’t expect — and, just as unexpectedly, underwhelmed by a couple of the presentations. Following are my thoughts about the candidates in the order they spoke.

John Edwards. I came into the evening an Edwards supporter. I’ve been talking for a long time about Edwards/Obama as the perfect ticket. But he didn’t sell me last night. I went back this morning and listened again to his opening response, hoping to hear something that I missed — after all, he went first, so maybe I’d been getting settled in my chair and hadn’t paid full attention. Nope. As my husband put in this morning, Edwards sounded pragmatic but not presidential — not strong enough. Compared to some of the other candidates, his Iraq proposals don’t have sufficient coherency and specificity.

Joe Biden. And then came Joe. Wow. Talk about a surprise! I had no expectation of finding him remotely interesting — but he blew me away. His proposals were strong, specific, and intelligent, and I was absolutely convinced that they would work. After the town hall we agreed that Biden had impressed us all. Unfortunately, as one of our attendees said, gesturing to some of the snacks on the table, “Joe is no more going to be elected president than this bowl of peanuts is going to be elected president.”

Dennis Kucinich. (A confession: I was distracted by Kucinich’s ugly neckties in the photos shown onscreen while he was talking. Can a man really be an effective president if he goes out accessorized that way? There; I’ve admitted my shallow attention to sartorial detail.) I didn’t know much about Kucinich coming into last evening, other than the fact that many people consider him The Guy when it comes to fixing American’s health care problems. Maybe when MoveOn does their health care town hall, he’ll impress me; he sure didn’t last night. His approach was to repeat (four times) the fact that he was the only one of the candidates to vote consistently against the Iraq war and to also repeat (five times) the fact that his proposal, HR1234, will fix things. Based on the details he mentioned about his proposal, I don’t believe it will work. And regardless of how smart he is, and how experienced, he doesn’t sound strong or presidential.

Bill Richardson. Richardson did well. I learned more from some of the attendees about his extensive foreign policy experience. His plans are coherent and sensible, and he presents them clearly and effectively. But, you know, he just didn’t stick in my head with any sort of lasting impression. He’ll need to put himself out there a lot more in order for people to get a sense that he could be presidential material.

Hillary Clinton. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the big surprise. Clinton completely sold me last night. I came into it firmly believing that she can’t be elected, that she’s only in it for personal political power, that she isn’t an effective speaker, and so on. I’m still not convinced that she can win, because of the numbers of Republicans who will head to the polls specifically to vote against her — but she’s got my support. She sounded incredibly strong, focused, and smart. She’s got clear objectives and plans and the skill, experience, and determination to make them work. She sounded — presidential. (She was also the only one of the seven candidates to use the phrase “when I’m president…,” which sounds corny but was very effective in the context.) In MoveOn’s follow-up poll, I voted for her as my choice for the evening as the best candidate to lead us out of Iraq.

Chris Dodd. See my earlier comments about Bill Richardson. He did well, he’s clearly smart, experienced, and so on, but I still don’t have a memorable image of him as president. He’s got a lot of work to do.

Barack Obama. Very disappointing. I expected to hear fire, enthusiasm, great plans — all the things we’re told to expect from Obama. Instead, he sounded not terribly strong, not terribly energetic, and not terribly focused. When asked the opening question about the best and fastest way to get us out of Iraq, he spent much of the time reciting casualty statistics. He finally mentioned that he has a plan, but he didn’t go into much detail about it — at least, not details that impressed me. Obama absolutely did not give me what I wanted and expected last night.

If you have time, I highly recommend listening to the podcast of the entire event. It lasts about 80 minutes. It could be that, like me, you’ll be surprised.

laws? the White House don’t need no stinkin’ laws!

https://i0.wp.com/www.dflsenate.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/rover.jpgI learned about this last night on Capitol Hill Blue, and I had to laugh and swear alternately. Why am I not the teeniest bit surprised that the White House (and Karl Rove in particular) would use computers owned by the Republican National Committee to circumvent oversight and get around the requirements of the Presidential Records Act?

Here’s an excerpt from the full article in the LA Times:

When Karl Rove and his top deputies arrived at the White House in 2001, the Republican National Committee provided them with laptop computers and other communication devices to be used alongside their government-issued equipment.

The back-channel e-mail and paging system, paid for and maintained by the RNC, was designed to avoid charges that had vexed the Clinton White House β€” that federal resources were being used inappropriately for political campaign purposes.

… Democrats say evidence suggests the RNC e-mail system was used for political and government policy matters in violation of federal record preservation and disclosure rules.

In addition, Democrats point to a handful of e-mails obtained through ongoing inquiries suggesting the system may have been used to conceal such activities as contacts with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted on bribery charges and is now in prison for fraud.

… Some Republicans believe that the huge number of e-mails β€” many written hastily, with no thought that they might become public β€” may contain more detailed and unguarded inside information about the administration’s far-flung political activities than has previously been available.

“There is concern about what may be in these e-mails,” said one GOP activist who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

“The system was created with the best intentions,” said former Assistant White House Press Secretary Adam Levine, who was assigned an RNC laptop and BlackBerry when he worked at the White House in 2002. But, he added, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, last week formally requested access to broad categories of RNC-White House e-mails.

Waxman told the Los Angeles Times in a statement that a separate “e-mail system for high-ranking White House officials would raise serious questions about violations of the Presidential Records Act,” which requires the preservation and ultimate disclosure of e-mails about official government business.

…The private e-mail system came to light in the U.S. attorney controversy because one of Rove’s deputies used an RNC-maintained e-mail domain β€” gwb43.com β€” to communicate with the Justice Department about replacing one of those prosecutors.
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