Archive for January, 2012

Yes folks, It’s almost February and it will be 65+ degrees today in the Old Dominion. Who needs Florida, right? Too much sunshine and you run the risk of skin cancer, or even lethargy. I do however wish the media might stop grumbling about the big Newt vs Mitt controversy, and bring the spotlight on the seriously malicious tactics some states have been employing to curtail voting rights. The Chairman of the Democratic Party of VA, Brian Moran sent out this action alert:

“….Republicans are pushing legislation to prevent thousands of Virginians who do not have government-sponsored (picture) identification from casting a regular ballot on election day. They want to make people who register to vote wait five days before casting an absentee ballot. They are also trying to make it illegal to help more than two people with an absentee ballot application in the same election year.” Today there is a rally in Richmond. Will we even hear about this on anything other than NPR?

Write to your legislators! Call your local town councillors! Don’t be afraid, this is a serious attempt at pushing us back to the 1950s, to discourage participatory democracy. Then when you’ve had your say, make a feel good winter salad tonight and boycott the FL returns. Cooking always helps!

Butternut and Kale Winter Salad: Easy peasy, just roast the delicious small chunks of squash, toss with organic kale that you chiffonade into slices, and toss with yummy chunks of a good cheddar cheese and some chopped almonds. How simple. Squeeze half a lemon on top and maybe a TB of EVOO and Voila! Yes, I speak French, wanna make something out of it?

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Our Ivy Farmers have enjoyed another night of soulful talk and sinful sushi. Lucky for us, our host will often serve refreshments that are aligned with our book; and so the theme of this week’s meeting was Japan. Our book, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, was a rhapsodic tale of Japanese “picture brides,” young women who were purchased by proxy and sent overseas to husbands in California with only a picture in their hand, and no idea of the life of servitude and solitude to come.

Otsuka traces these women through the early part of the 20th Century to their eventual round-up into internment camps during WWII. She writes in the first person plural, “Some of us on the boat were from Kyoto and were delicate and fair, and had lived our entire lives in darkened rooms at the back of the house…” a literary device that only sharpens their stark separation from American society. Like many first generation immigrants, their children eventually reject them as well; forgetting their language and becoming rebellious teenagers. The women have lost their family and homeland, and finally their own children even as they accompany them west to the camps.

I came to understand how a community that ignores or marginalizes those who are different, ‘the other,’ can be silent and indifferent as they are taken away. I couldn’t help but smile as I listened to Mitt and Newt dissect their immigration policy.

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Unlike the previous posts of six worded seasonal memoirs, I’ve decided to make this one just a bit different, thanks to my new friend, Courtney, who asked for a 10 word or less memoir of life. She asks, “How would you sum up your life/ relationships, experiences on the planet in 10 words or less?” My answer to this question is a family joke. Bob’s Grandfather Sam, a Jewish Russian immigrant, sat down towards the end of his life and penned his autobiography, in Yiddish. Its title is, “Better it Couldn’t be,” well at least that was the translation.

My answer to anything that goes wrong has always been, “It Could Have Been Worse.” Is that optimistic? I think so; you skin a knee, hey you didn’t break it. Fender bender, no one was hurt, right? So here is my take on Winter in Six Pictorial Memoirs so far –

It Could Have Been…

1) Another Epic Storm

2) A Holiday Binge

3) A Calvin Klein Underwear Ad

4) Lonelier

5) Bigger

6) Well, maybe it couldn’t be any more serene!

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My home is about to be invaded by a team of dry-wall specialists. This will be the second attempt at repairing the joints in my third floor office ceiling. My writing room is octagonal in shape, with four ceiling joists that meet in a point and have cracked and ripped over time. Our builder told us the reason for this is that the outsourced guys should have used mud (who knew) and he kindly repaired everything the first time. So now we’ll try again.

Before the plaster dust starts flying, I thought you may want to know about some other artists, living and working closer to home. First of all, there is my nephew, Mark Acetelli who recently moved with his family to Mississippi from California. He does amazingly beautiful work with paint and photography. I love his ethereal figures and almost opalescent use of oils. One of his paintings was just featured on the cover of a design magazine. He is currently exhibiting here: http://www.artspacewarehouse.com/artists/MarkAcetelli.html
Or you can check him out here: http://www.acetellifineart.com/

"Three Souls," Acetelli

My wonderfully talented neighbor, Millicent Young, will be exhibiting her sculpture January 26 – March 9 at the Wood Paper and Fiber exhibit at The University of Maryland’s Art Gallery. http://www.artgallery.umd.edu//exhibition/wood-paper-fiber She works with horse hair, wood and wax paper. I love turning the corner into our neck of woods and seeing her horses grazing near their barn. And Ms Bean loves it when her Border Collie comes to play.

"Vehicle2" Young

Here is my aviary office on the last day of peace before the mudding and taping drywall storm. My fireplace is on and above it a poster – Keep Calm and Carry On – always good advice!

File by Pile

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Remember that song from The Music Man, Pick a little, talk a little…pick pick pick, talk alot pick a little more – cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap? Yet another great play from high school, committed to memory. Just ask Bob if he ever had trouble in River City, and you’ll be listening to an exact rendition of the Pool Song, for a very long time.

The Palmetto state has some troubles of its own, and has left me wondering about the qualifications of the two GOP candidates in today’s face-off. If a certain Newt liked to cheat on his wives, at least he had the common courtesy to marry his courtesan. And what a bulldog, turning his cheating ways into martyred indignation at the media talking to his ex-wife. Whereas the ever-loyal Mitt, spent his years at Bain Capital leveraging buy-outs and tending to his fiduciary responsibilities. Some call this consulting, others may call it conning. Which is why the alleged billionaire, and seemingly ethical Morman, is like Harold Hill. Pulling the wool over our eyes in his big band dance around disclosing his taxes. Can you say Cayman Islands?

Cheating the middle class, or cheating on your wife? You decide.

Of course there’s always Colbert, and a vote for Cain means a write-in for Colbert, South Carolina’s native son. Now here is a man who knows how to channel Mr. Hill. Colbert arrived at the College of Charleston in front of a full marching band playing LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem!” Complete with cheerleaders and met by a gospel choir, I just don’t see how it gets any better than that. Wait, enter stage left, Herman Cain to a full throttle rendition of Parliament’s “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk).”

All while President Obama croons to his base, “Let’s Stay Together.” Shipoopi!!

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On the day the internet went dark in protest of Washington power brokers’ attempts at corralling online piracy (SOPA), I boarded a train to head into the heart of the dragon. Living a mere two hour rail ride from DC, and an hour away from cousin Anita in Richmond, she suggested we board our separate early morning Amtrak trains and spend the day together in our nation’s Capitol. And instead of protesting something, we did a very civilized lady’s lunch and museum tour. What fun, what a delicious lark!

We met up at the bookstore in Union Station, and boarded the metro to Chinatown and The National Portrait Gallery. A part of the Smithsonian, it seemed there were more guards there than visitors. But we were on a mission; we targeted the “Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories” exhibit on the second floor and roamed freely for hours. An avant garde writer and collector of artists and intellectuals in her atelier on Rue Christine in Paris, I had no idea what a gender-bending, iconoclast she was. Her portraits, by some of the most famous artists of the period between the World Wars, are spectacular.

Stein and her brother Leo purchased Henri Matisse’s Woman with a Hat for 500 francs (about $100), which was lambasted by critics in 1905. That was the beginning of the famous ex-pat’s Salon. Gertrude supported the rise of Modern Art both financially and pragmatically. “I was alone at this time in understanding Picasso, perhaps because I was expressing the same thing in literature,” she said. Her poems and stories were built in a kind of rocky, jagged style. Listening to her voice in one room of the exhibit, I felt she may have been an early rapper! After virtually marrying Alice B Toklas, who is featured in many photographs almost as a shadow, and cutting off her hair to look like a man, they opened their hearts and their home to art.

Art is no longer for the wealthy collector. Museums bring masterpieces to our cities, and the internet brings art to our fingertips. If we as a nation begin to censor the internet, what will be next? Right now we only owe China billions, might we not start to resemble it as well? Many of our scientists have had to leave this country in order to pursue their research. Our artists need freedom to exist, to create. Let’s nurture them.

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This week in local news, the jury has been picked and a date of Feb 6th was set for the murder trial of a certain UVA ________ player.

With Republicans in charge of the state Capitol, VA is deliberating about changing the gun laws. Specifically, doing away with __________ checks and repealing a ban on its citizen’s ability to purchase more than one gun per _____. You can already carry a gun on your hip in VA, you may no longer need a permit to conceal it!

Moving up to the US Presidential campaign, it seems that one GOP candidate, who carries his dog around in an ________ carrier on the roof of his car, is being maligned for speaking ______. While another who rides with a ____ in the backseat is sparring with someone named Newt… Someone needs to do a “What They Carried” expose on anyone seeking the highest office of the land.

What does the rest of the planet think of Mitt? http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/16/what_the_world_makes_of_mitt

And almost finally in world news. The _________ industry has been named the latest to employ child laborers on the Ivory Coast. Honestly, first it’s diamonds, and now we are supposed to boycott Almond Joy? Next to coffee, how can we as a people survive without __________, a Pennsylvania company? Oh, and it seems in Italy, the concept of _____ and ________ first in maritime law has expired off the coast of Tuscany.

Finally, finish this sentence for me please. “The US is___________”

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I don’t know about you, but I really really hate it when evidence-based, clear cut science gets pre-empted by politics. Maybe it’s because science isn’t sexy enough? Or maybe it’s because we’ve all been blissfully happy riding around in January with our sunroof open, but newsflash – mother earth is in dire need of our attention – NOW! An ex-UVA climatologist – currently at Penn State, but still embroiled in litigation with our esteemed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli over his grant applications – Michael Mann will be back in the Blue Ridge speaking about “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From the Front Lines” for UVA’s Enviro-Day, January 17th. http://helpdesk.evsc.virginia.edu/EnviroDay.html
Here is the amazing scientific commentary website he founded called Real Climate – http://www.realclimate.org/

“Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming” is Mann’s latest book written with Lee Kump to debunk some of the myths the Right like to pull over our tree-hugging eyes. None other than the Yale Forum on Climate Change credits this publication with the most “…stunning and informative graphics and illustrations. Hear that? Repeat: Stunning and informative.” Here is their review: http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2008/09/dire-predictions-unique-and-uniquely-illustrated/
What I like, the last section is devoted to “Solving Global Warming.” And its simplicity. “We don’t need an elaborate climate model to understand the basic physics and chemistry of greenhouse gases, so at some level the fact that increased CO2 warms the planet is a consequence of very basic physics and chemistry,” explains Mann.

Here is his famous hockey stick graph model showing simulations of Northern Hemisphere mean temperature changes over the past millennium.

Can we start to SAVE more than a puck in the future? It’s only our children’s future we’re playing politics with.

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Camelot was a staple on the record player while I was growing up. The Flapper had a thing about Broadway, so imprinted in my memory are the lyrics to some of the greatest show tunes ever – Gypsy, Oklahoma, Funny Girl. I actually saw Barbara Streisand playing Fanny, since we lived only an hour away from the Great White Way. And my first attempt at show biz was playing Sir Lancelot At Camp St Joseph for Girls, age 11, because I was the tallest; singing “If Ever I Would Leave You” to a captive audience of nuns and campers. “Broadway Bound” was the caption in my high school yearbook!

Which is why this frustrated song and dance girl couldn’t help but hum about the simple folk last night. Michelle Obama was in town, at a fundraiser on an Albemarle estate. I met the owner of said estate at our sport’s club once; it was held at the home of Dave Matthew’s band drummer, Carter Beauford. Carter is a sweet guy, we chatted about my rock star son, and I even met Dave Matthews there once or twice. Along with his trainer, they were a totally kind crew and most people left them alone. Turning to Bob, I wondered why we weren’t invited to said fundraiser? “We were invited,” he said, “we didn’t go because the tickets were around $35,000.” Oh!

I was having so much fun watching the GOP eviscerate each other over who was the most cut throat capitalist, I almost forgot we Dems have to raise about 800 million for a re-election campaign. Aside from the sheer folly of that, Brad and Angie were meeting with the President back at the White House last night, while the First Lady was hobnobbing with our 1%. Yes, it’s not only Republicans who know how to make and invest money. The question we’ll have to ask ourselves in this election, is what as a nation do we value enough to vote for. Is Camelot still possible? I’m willing to bet on it.
“We all rise together or we all fall together.” — Michelle Obama, 1/11/12

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Are you following the Republican caucuses? One pundit I could listen to for hours is Chris Matthews, and this morning he described the New Hampshire voters as “…flinty.” Although not familiar with this adjective, I knew exactly what it meant when he said it. Of or pertaining to flint, “…unyielding; unmerciful; obdurate: as in ‘a flinty heart.'” Anyone who digs in this Albemarle red clay dirt knows a thing or two about flint; and having lived in New England for over a decade, I knew the Hardball host was spot on.

Let’s look at the positive side of flint. It is an extremely hard and opaque piece of quartz that can be used to make a fire, just in case you find yourself lost in the woods. It’s not decorative like chalcedony, it’s useful. Humans have fashioned tools out of flint for centuries. When your ancestors have forged a living out of such rugged terrain, you’d better believe the New Hampshire voters are made of strong stuff. And if you happen to love covered bridges, and who doesn’t, you can take a virtual tour of over 50, like this one @ Happy Corner, here: http://www.nh.gov/nhdhr/bridges/table.html

Enough about New England, and on to Old England. The second season of Masterpiece Theater started out this week with a bang – right through that lying, villainous valet’s hand! I’m officially an old codger because I adore Downton Abbey. I’m sure we Boomers are leading the American addiction to a period series about WWI era landed gentry and their servants. And some are asking why? As much as I love our native son, (Grisham’s new legal series The Firm was opposite DA on Sunday night), I just can’t look away from these characters. Maggy Smith being one flinty example!

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