Archive for April, 2012

Yesterday’s Richmond Rally was rainy and inspiring. Twenty years ago I marched in DC with my daughter and my niece; now I march with a new friend who was a lifelong Republican. I am encouraged by these women, and by the power of social media. Women’s rights are human rights! Legislators, we are the deciders. A vote for the Personhood Bill (and many other demeaning and demoralizing bills) tells us you care less about our fertility and access to contraception, and more about your religious dogma.

Our next Senator, Tim Kaine was there. He is listening.

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If you’re old enough to remember Nixon’s bid for re-election against George McGovern in 1972, then you may have read the best selling book about that campaign as seen through the eyes of the mostly male political press corps, “The Boys on the Bus” by Timothy Crouse. Ah those were the days: reporters only had one deadline a day; many had intimate access to the candidates; boozing and cavorting were de rigueur, and applauded! http://www.npr.org/2012/04/19/150577036/boys-on-the-bus-40-years-later-many-are-girls These were Mad Men indeed, writing copy that could possibly sway a nation. I was 23 years old, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and it was my first presidential vote. Only one state went blue, and later Nixon brought us Watergate. To this day, I am proud that along with the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I voted for McGovern.

This Saturday women, and some of the men who love them, will be boarding buses all over these United States in order to unite our sisters as one voice. Our bodies, Our Choices, Our vote. Back in the day, when I had one deadline a week in MA, women were still being categorized as “soft” copy. Articles by and for women, as often as not, appeared buried in the “Style” section. Today, with a 24/7 news cycle and social media, gender-specific issues can hit the front page anywhere, and a bill about “Personhood” in MS might just roll across your Facebook news feed in VA. My friend in NY, will read about our Governor rethinking the “Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Bill” because he had ‘no idea’ it was that intrusive.

And so it adds up – like death by a thousand cuts – we see a slow but steady legislative assault on our very autonomy, on our civil rights. “Nine hundred forty four bills (to limit women’s reproductive health and rights) in the first three months of this year alone. Nine hundred sixteen such bills introduced and considered in 2011, and hundreds in 2010. Never before on any matter has there been such a legislative offensive, such a coordinated drive to overrule the law of the land and force everyone to adhere to one set of religious beliefs.”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-helfert/from-the-frontlines-of-the-war-on-women_b_1450296.html
For one woman it was seeing Sandra Fluke denied her right to speak, and then being degraded by a right-wing nut case. For another it was a presidential candidate threatening to ban contraception! Margaret Sanger, we need you again. So two ordinary women, united by their belief in a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about her body, got together on Facebook and started a revolution…they said we have to take to the streets, again. And we bi-partisan women, blue, red and all other shades, we were listening.

If you are fed up with the “Boys on the Bus” mentality, with the kind of thinking that brought us this religious vs state testimony excluding women from the conversation and you want to join us, feel free. Our bus leaves for Richmond at 11:30 and arrives at Nina F. Abady Festival Park, 449 N. 7th Street, Richmond, VA for a 2pm rally. 50 state capitals will be filled with women on Saturday. I wonder who will be listening. To find your state’s event: http://unitewomen.org/unite/

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While we are all getting unzipped today on Google http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/24/gideon-sundback-celebrated-google-doodle?newsfeed=true I thought I’d opine at the intersection of art and reality. Bob was caught watching his favorite movie on TV the other day, The Sting. Truth be told, a movie that includes Newman AND Redford would have to count as one of my favorites too. Like certain baseball movies, The Sting appeals mostly to men, and was produced in the 70s amidst a whirlwind of social change. Set in Depression era Chicago, it’s a buddy film, a comedy/crime caper with a thieving banker as the villain. Hmmm. Is revenge ever enough?

For some strange reason, seeing John Edwards getting hauled into court this week is reminiscent of that classic movie. Two pretty boys colluding to con the American people. Or was it his wife, Elizabeth, he was trying to shield from his mistress. Edward’s closest aide, Andrew Young, is now a witness for the prosecution. And now we learn that Young has sold the movie rights to “The Politician,” a scandalous page-turner he wrote about his former boss. After all, this is the guy who claimed he was the father of the mistress’ baby. He was the one who helped funnel almost a million dollars of ‘political donations’ to help cover up the affair as Edwards ran for the Presidential nomination.

Who will play Edwards and Young in this modern day Sting? Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling? And the villain, I’d say Reese Witherspoon would make a great mistress, or wait, maybe Young is the villain for snitching to the Feds? I have to think that Europe is laughing at us again, for the puritanical interest our press seems to have with our presidents. And just for more comic relief, we have the secret service demanding a discount for its secret menage a trois services. Sex and power, it just doesn’t get any better than that! If convicted of 6 criminal counts of attempting to grift the campaign finance rules and regs, the former senator from NC may have to face up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. And that would be a crime.

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Happy Earth Day! What are you doing to celebrate our planet this weekend? A group of Dems in town get together to do a road clean-up project, and with rain projected it may be a wee bit muddy. My Irish is coming out because I just watched this video about eco-villages:

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) has been around for awhile, in fact you might call it the modern evolution of hippie communes; without all the free sex and drugs. Its purpose is “…to support and encourage the evolution of sustainable settlements across the world, through:
Facilitating the flow and exchange of knowledge about ecovillages and demonstration sites thru:
Website Information sharing & networking forums and webinars;
Promoting partner programs and social actions that reflect GEN’s core values; and
Fostering Global Cooperation/Partnerships (UN Best Practices, EU Phare, EYFA, Ecosoc).” http://gen.ecovillage.org/

When we were building our mountain home, I took a class on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building practices. It was essentially one of the first courses offered about building a sustainable house in the area and I felt out of my depth with architects and builders. Some people had built houses of straw (think thatch) and some had geo-thermal heat. Many sported solar panels and rain barrels. http://www.usgbc.org/

As you know, we grow many of our vegetables in the summer and we live in a town that has grass growing on the roof of the County Office Building. I try and remember my totes for grocery shopping, and pledge to always remember them for Earth Day. I will also spread Michael Mann’s teachings about Climate Change around as much as possible (see blogroll). Knowing where exactly my food comes from was not always on my radar, but I pledge also to be better at this. Rather than doing one thing today or tomorrow, maybe we could commit to one small change for the rest of our lives to help mother earth. Remember Kaizen? We all benefit from a sustainable planet.

Here is the front of our “Not so Big” semi-sustainable house, facing east, away from the mountains. Bob has just mowed on his tractor and Ms Bean is wondering if I have a ball. Thank you to all the bluebirds and woodpeckers for letting us share your home.

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I was listening to a story on NPR the other day about Violins of Hope. It was about how a professor in NC was looking for musical instruments that were played in the concentration camps of WWII. Nazis would pluck Jews with violin cases in their hands off the cattle cars and direct them away from the ovens and into an orchestra. Many had not been played since, but were stored like a scar that can never be erased; “So I opened the violin, and there inside there [were] ashes.” After awhile, it became difficult to drive. http://www.npr.org/2012/04/15/150645417/violins-of-hope-instruments-from-the-holocaust

A week after the seventh day of Passover, Jews around the world mark the Day of Remembrance, or Yom Hashoah, differently. In Israel a siren is heard at sundown and again at sunset for 2 minutes of silence when everything, including traffic, stops. Families in America may light a a yahrzeit (memorial) candle on this day and recite Kadish (the prayer for the dead that never mentions death) in order to bear witness to the unthinkable.

Bob’s Grandparents came to this country before the war. Still, many relatives were lost. The only woman I ever met with a number on her arm, passed away on the second day of Passover this year. She was the Mother of a cousin in NY, and was married to another survivor. They both died with their families around them in great old age. They met as youngsters after the war in a refugee camp in Italy. That love can survive that period of time, the Shoah, is miracle enough.

Silence and indifference to suffering, silence and indifference to injustice, fear and hate speech are part of what lead Europe off the brink of sanity in the 1930s. Today, more than 30 death camp violins have been restored and music from the camps has been recreated. Today the Auschwitz violinist can play his instrument again.

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Hazily coming up out of a semi-good night’s sleep, I heard what I thought was a duck being strangled. Then Ms Bean’s bark was added to a chorus of early morning, pre-dawn sounds. Bob was heading into the hospital, and I was stumbling toward the door to see if our small brown shelter dog thought she was a large golden retriever. There, sitting regally in the top of a tree near our driveway, was a very real, very mad peahen!

Once upon a time I had purchased 2 peacocks, who are always male, for my brother Mike’s birthday. His home in MS has a beautiful 14 acre park for a backyard and I thought this would be the best lawn decoration ever. As soon as they were delivered to the manse, one flew into a tree and proceeded to squawk to his buddy, “Hey let’s split this place, no peahens!” Here is a picture of the family at my niece’s wedding in a beautiful, but peacock-less Japanese garden.

And while I am writing this, I’ve been informed by my daughter via text that she is indeed having a girl! She and her husband are in the doctor’s office and she has managed to text me a picture of the ultrasound. I am beyond jubilant and think my peahen was announcing this like a trumpeter to the Queen of Little Sleep this morning, “Wake up, wake up, it’s going to be a girl!” And honey, I’m ordering this onsie for you right now. Cause you know it’s not a war on caterpillars we’ve been fighting ever since your Great Great Grandmother Anna Robinson, my Nana, got the vote, as one Republican has opined. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/rnc-chair-reince-priebus-compares-war-on-women-to-war-on-caterpillars-its-a-fiction/

We’re going to dream big for you baby girl. It’s going to be cups and ice all the way, in a land where peacocks and peahens play.

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A music festival was happening right in my own backyard and I didn’t even know about it until now! This weekend kicks off the 1st Annual Tom Tom Founders Festival http://www.tomtomfest.com/ in honor of, you guessed it, Mr Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Lucky for us, it’s a month long celebration! There was a 10 band block party last night on the steps of the old McGuffey Arts Center, that spilled into the park where the Groom first saw his Bride!

This sounds like an ambitious and highly creative project that maybe needs a better PR team, but hey, this is the run-up to next year. It’s like MOMA meets SXSW and a modern day southern Woodstock is born!

Bob is flying to Williamburg today for a lunch date with his Woodstock buddy, Al and his son Brian. Brian is many hours into pilot training and did a tour in Cville at the JAG Law School. I’m glad the Army chose to keep him in the area. Part of the second generation of Big Chillers, I’m also thankful one of that group became a lawyer. Along with doctors, rock stars, engineers, and travel executives, you never know when you might need a good lawyer…

Which leads me to my very BFF in MA, Lee. She was an assistant DA for many years while having her children; later, she opened her own law practice. My favorite Mother’s Day memory was playing with our babies while the dads grilled dinner in our backyard. For the GOP to start up with the whole “Working Mothers” divide is semantics at its worst. Ann Romney is right when she said we all have that choice to make; we women, our bodies, our babies, our choices. The naughty little twist in that equation is that money can make the choices much, much easier. Single moms, and moms who must work outside the home to make ends meet, they know the true story. Some moms can afford nannies, and some can barely pay for day care (that’s another problem), some have husbands who are parenting at home, while some choose to stay at home working… Let’s not divert the war that is being waged on reproductive rights with a false dialogue on working women.

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In 1966, when Bob and I were going to our Senior Prom in NJ, a suburban Jersey housewife, mother of two daughters, was busy writing songs and trying to keep her husband, Gerry Goffin, away from LSD. Carole King is one of the most prolific, phenomenal pop divas of our generation. And her song, the one Aretha Franklin performed to No 1 stellar star status, is the title of her new memoir, “A Natural Woman.”
This will absolutely be on my must-read list!

And natural she is, with her halo of grey hair and make-up-free face, King was always true to her music, and herself. Over the years she’s had four husbands, four kids, and won four Grammys in 1972. You have to love a woman who is unapologetic, who still comes across like the Jewish Mama from Brooklyn (originally), who only wants to take care of her family and make everybody feel good. “I kept pushing music away because I thought it was keeping me from having a normal life. At this moment, I understand that for me, music is normal life,” King says.

Let’s think about what a natural, and normal life is like for a woman in the spotlight. Becoming famous is almost like putting a magnifying glass between the star and the light – it can only burn. Look at Ashley Judd. A brilliant woman, who happens to be from a musical family but chose acting instead, is speaking publicly about the objectification of women. You’all know my feelings about this. Thank you Ashley for not just explaining your “puffy face,” but for calling our culture and the media to task. “You have to suffer to be beautiful,” that’s what the Flapper would tell me as she combed and pulled my hair out of my head to make perfect braids. It’s time we gave our daughters a different message. “Normal” life is whatever you make it, and a natural woman is beautiful. Beauty is illusory.


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Good Morning Everyone! Who knew that “Red Flag” warnings meant absolutely glorious weather. Not a cloud in sight! I didn’t even know what it meant; blue skies, 70’s, a good breeze and no rain? Seems perfect to me, but the weather folk want us to watch out for fires. So instead of red, let’s call this a Fuchsia Flag day! Miss Bean spotted 4 deer grazing down the hill and started her day with a romp and a good barking session. Her work is done.

And speaking of work, are you a procrastinator? I’ve noticed lately that due to my never-ending need to stay on trend, or with-it, I get to my actual writing later and later. First it was the Bride talking me into joining Facebook, and I must admit I was more up-to-date on the Egyptian revolution via Facebook than any other news outlet. Then, the Rocker told me that Facebook is over and Instagram is next. So snap, he took our picture with my iPhone and now I’m thinking visually all the time. Guess Facebook got that message cause they bought it for a Billion yesterday! http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57411451-93/instagram-how-to-go-from-zero-to-$1b-in-under-two-years/?tag=fd2010TopHeadlines.0
And you know about the tornado and Pinterest.

The promise was that I would check all these things in the same way I check my emails in the morning. Coffee, 20 emails, coffee, cousin gathering Easter eggs, coffee, cool pic of niece’s baby in pink forest, coffee, who just pinned my Celtic Barbie? Great! Only if you tend to be just a tiny bit ADD, one thing leads to another and you’re starting to write around lunchtime. Well hold on to your hats, cause I’m streamlining my tech-life, yesterday I took a bite out of the forbidden Apple! Goodbye ancient, ten year old desktop Dell PC, hello Mac Pro. You look marh-ve-lous!! No more rebooting every time I upload pictures from my camera… or every other day for no reason. Now wish me luck in learning how to speak this wonderful new language and can anyone explain the whole “in the cloud” thing to me? “There’s no need to dock or sync to your computer. With iCloud, it just works.” Exactly!

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The annual pilgrimage to Grandma’s house was capped off last night by a special tribute to the great American film classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. We were transported back to the deep South of the Depression with one of my favorite heroines, Scout, and her heroic Father, Atticus Finch. President Obama introduced the film on its 50th anniversary to an exceptionally large TV audience, by distilling the story – it’s about doing the right thing, even when it’s difficult.

And talking about the future with healthy, active octogenarians was one part of the weekend festivities. Change is always hard. Living in the same house for 45 years means that more than memories reside in every corner. And for some, like Atticus’ neighbor, Maudie, knitting on her porch in front of her beautiful garden, aging well, in their own home is the answer.

Here is a picture of the Rocker in a highchair and the Bride in the middle, happily enjoying a Seder years ago. This year the newlyweds were in Italy, but the Rocker was home from his tour and paying attention. He said he’s watching what we do with his Grandparents. Like Scout and her brother Jem were watching Atticus from the Colored balcony as he spoke about injustice and all men being equal, we parents model more than we’ll ever know.


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