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Posts Tagged ‘Immigration’

There was a time in my life, well probably more than one time if we count near-miss car accidents, when I thought I might die. It was a year between the births of my two children; the last miscarriage was brutal and I ended up back in the hospital with sepsis. My roomie was an older Polish woman who spoke very little English, still I understood her. She had me fetch her rosary beads out of her purse and asked me to pray with her.

The words flowed easily from my mouth, hailing Mary I thought about how comforting it was for her and me! And just the other day with Great Grandma Ada, I happened upon another set of wooden rosary beads. She told me a woman had given them to her in Africa.

But it was the picture this morning on my social feed of rosary beads that are being confiscated at the border of our country that sent chills down my spine. How can this be happening here? Will rosary beads pile up in an exhibition, like so many gold teeth or shoes in Auschwitz, in some future museum to our Central American immigrants?

When border patrol agents separate young children from their families, they are not just inflicting harm, they are telling the world that we allowed this…here. And I cannot.

Even though Mr T’s job approval rating has gone up to 45 percent with HIS “zero tolerance” policy, and who ARE these people…I cannot abide by it.

Even when Pro Publica released an audio tape of children as young as 4 – our Pumpkin is almost 4 – crying for their parents while a guard says,

“We have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.”

I will not accept this. We need to call Flake, Collins and every single GOP legislator with a phone and a conscience. We need to rally the White House. We need to give to RAICES Texas to help fund legal services for immigrant families! https://actionnetwork.org/groups/raices-refugee-and-immigrant-center-for-education-and-legal-services

We need to be the conductors of compassion and stop this insane policy. Because praying can only get you so far. We know that one young girl has been raped by a guard – https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2018/06/17/texas-deputy-accused-sexually-assaulting-4-year-old-threatened-mom-deportation-sheriff-says

When will a child die of an asthma attack in the heat, in a cage? Because we know this will happen.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/whats-really-happening-asylum-seeking-families-separated/

What will you do?

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We all know that March can come in like a lion roaring, but I didn’t expect government buildings to close in DC and siding to get ripped off of houses in Cville. This morning we went to a preschool Purim celebration in Nashville, and Mother Nature may have turned colder here, but our wind blew in so many super heroes and princess/queens I fell in love with Judaism all over again!

When our kids were little, the President of the Brotherhood In our Berkshire’s temple dressed up as “Super Jew.” Bob once dressed as an Irish fairy because the date happened to coincide with St Patrick’s Day – a rare but exciting alignment of the stars. Purim is like Jewish Halloween and Feminist Easter rolled into one. Instead of the male protagonist dying and coming back to life, Queen Esther (who was secretly Jewish – kinda like Moses) saves her people from complete annihilation!

Purim is my kind of festival. It’s loud and glitzy and kids are all invited to the festivities. They blew up a little bouncy house in the Temple today! There’s no long wait for chicken soup, instead they had specially made cookies called hamentaschen. And just to top it all off, our female Rabbi and Cantor both dressed up as Wonder Woman!

Here are some Purim observances:

Reading of the Megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle.

Sending gifts of two kinds of food (of course) to at least one person.

A festive Purim feast, which often includes wine or other intoxicating beverages.

Maybe I could have a margarita with lunch today? I was reading up on the news, and noticed the BBC dove into the special visa our First Lady Melania obtained to blow ashore in these United States. Not a bad idea for a story, considering Mr T is preparing to deport Dreamers and even spouses of military personnel.

She landed here from Slovenia on a tourist visa in ’96, then a string of working visas until she met Mr T 2 years later at a party. That’s when she applied for a very special green card.

It’s called “The Einstein Visa” or EB-1

To obtain an EB-1 for extraordinary ability, an immigrant has to provide evidence of a major award or meet three of 10 criteria proving excellence in their field. The criteria include coverage of the applicant in major publications, original and significant contributions to a field, and work displayed at artistic exhibitions.

At the time, all Melania was known for was, “… she appeared on the cover of British GQ on a fur rug in Mr Trump’s private jet, and in the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated in the US. She was not a top international model.” It’s not quite like being being published in a major journal or something.

Well.  Well.  Well. All right, so she didn’t win a Nobel Prize, but she did win Mr T’s heart obviously, if you believe he even has one of those organs. And I’ll bet he wrote her glowing testimonials as a reference. Hey maybe she was destined to be America’s next Top Model? The next Heidi Klum?!

I just heard a tractor trailer was blown over by 100 MPH winds on the Tappan Zee Bridge. I hope the people who bought our mountain home put some bricks on the hot tub! Or we may have to send in the Super Hero L’il Pumpkin!  IMG_2359

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I’ve been thinking about my foster mother lately, Nelly Bly. She was born in Scranton, PA, the only girl out of 18 boys! Yes youngsters, before the Duggers, poor women had large families simply because birth control was unheard of, and/or you happened to be Catholic. Nell’s parents had immigrated from Czechoslovakia, and I distinctly remember her crying when we watched Russian tanks roll into her ancestral home in 1968.

The Warsaw Pact invasion of August 20–21 caught Czechoslovakia and much of the Western world by surprise. In anticipation of the invasion, the Soviet Union had moved troops from the Soviet Union, along with limited numbers of troops from Hungary, Poland, East Germany and Bulgaria into place by announcing Warsaw Pact military exercises. When these forces did invade, they swiftly took control of Prague, other major cities, and communication and transportation links. Given the escalating U.S. involvement in the conflict in Vietnam as well as past U.S. pronouncements on non-intervention in the East Bloc, the Soviets guessed correctly that the United States would condemn the invasion but refrain from intervening.                                            https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/soviet-invasion-czechoslavkia

Like the Ukraine today, the Czech and Slovak people were leaning toward the West, instituting reform and banning censorship. Communist Russia put her big bear fist down and that was that. I wonder what Nell would have thought of the Velvet Revolution, when Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two states for purely political motives on Jan 1, 1993? She died when I was pregnant with the Bride, and we still thought a poet might be elected President.

Nell was a proud Slovak, but she didn’t like to cook. For special occasions however, she would prepare Halupkis ( pronounced ha-LOOP-keys). This is a mouth watering stuffed cabbage, simmered for hours on a big bed of sauerkraut. Nell’s father used to make his own sauerkraut in the basement in barrels, but she was happy to buy it pre-packaged. I like to imagine her as a child, picking a cabbage out of their garden, helping her mother grind the meat in the kitchen, and tenderly folding the leaves around the rice and meat mixture.

Maybe because she had so much responsibility in the kitchen, as the only girl in her family full of brothers, she loved modern day conveniences – or should I say “mid-century modern?” One of my favorite dinner nights was “Chinese.” I think it was La Choy, but in the ’50s you could find a box in the grocery store with everything you would need to make dinner. The original Hamburger Helper, only you didn’t need to cook anything, just warm it up!

I translated that to “Taco Night” in our house. I’d add the packet of Mexican seasonings to ground turkey, stand up the hard Old El Paso tacos and let the kids pile whatever they wanted on top, which usually meant lots of cheese. It’s almost wistfully tender to think back about the days when we didn’t need to know where our food came from, so long as it showed up on our table.

And today I admit, I will occasionally cave and whip up an organic Annie’s Mac and Cheese for the Love Bug. Am I willing to order one of those Blue Apron type dinners that would be delivered to me in the mail, with instructions on how to prepare all the fresh ingredients? NO.

Because grocery shopping is my God-given right. I want to smell and feel the fruit, and know when the salmon was delivered. But I understand that working women, and men, are still looking for time-saving ways to serve a meal to their family, even if it’s not two dozen people at the dinner table.

Maybe I’m thinking of my Mother because next year, Bob and I are planning to visit Prague. But today I’m heading to the ballot box in VA because I do believe in birth control and I don’t believe in censorship. And I want guns out of the hands of abusers, and the mentally ill. And I have to think that Nelly Bly would agree.

This is my cauliflower au gratin – made with sweetened condensed milk and goat cheese. Nell put canned milk in her coffee, so I always have it on hand!IMG_3401

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Allow me to get on my feminist bandwagon for a minute. Over morning coffee I watched CNN’s Carol Costello interview Mindy Finn, the founder of “Empowered Women,” a right wing lobbyist group trying to co-opt the word “feminist” to include “center-right” women. She was very convincing, until she started saying that the original movement was more about reproductive rights, when today’s GOP women are all about pay equality, and of course getting elected to public office. OK. Just saying that TN women will now have to wait 48 hours before obtaining an abortion, and that’s not because their doctors thought it might be a good idea.

Eroding our rights is a time-honored tradition for the Republican party. How about all those little bills popping up in Southern states involving TRAP law? Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers was just one small slice of the GOP strategy to impose their right-wing, religious agenda on a woman’s right to choose what is best for her life. If they can make clinics close due to regulatory folderol, or increase our wait time, or include unnecessary vaginal ultrasound probes into our bodies, well all the better! Please, explain to me again Ms Finn how women need to join the Republican party. Sure, if you think an old white guy from Alabama has your best interest at heart, go right ahead.

“What do today’s female presidential candidates think about feminism?” This was Carol Costello’s question on Twitter. Really? I almost snorted up my coffee!

Then I read this: https://medium.com/human-parts/how-to-date-a-feminist-4e0fdf48d364 by a young feminist.

You date a feminist the same way you date anyone; you treat them with respect and try to impress the crap out of them. As long as you support equal rights, you got a shot…You hold the door for us and we will most certainly appreciate it. We hold the door for you and hope you’ll say thanks. It’s a door people, no big deal.

It’s a good read. And in case you thought the Republican agenda was just about closing doors on women’s reproductive rights, let’s talk immigration. Remember when President Obama announced a unilateral federal action back in November to reform immigration? We were supposed to give nearly 5 Million undocumented workers a path to citizenship in order to free them from the fear of deportation. And guess who has blocked this by imposing a hold on the executive action? Ding ding ding!

You’re right, 26 states of the mostly Southern persuasion. So this action would include women and children, because it specifically targets illegals who came here as children, and those with children born in this country, so called “anchor babies.” We can let this population grow to fight in our wars, but not make them citizens? The DOJ argues that our immigration system is broken and the federal government needs to fix it. But these Republican states beg to differ. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32893810

I wish I could step through a time travel door, and see what side of the argument history looks back on, which party wins. With Ireland passing their own marriage equality law this week, my ancestral homeland and the first democratic country to do so, I think we may have a clue. Very proud Ireland!

Dublin Doors

Dublin Doors 

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It’s not everyday that my whole family gets to walk around NYC, on a holiday weekend, when anyone with a car has long since left this piece of the Apple. The Bride thought the city looked beautiful in its abandoned state: an older woman was slowly pushing her small dog in a fancy pram; decorated, horse-drawn carriages were lined up in front of the Plaza waiting for tourists who never came; and out on Sue’s upper-East side terrace, where she had planted 35 tomatoes in painters’ tubs, a nest of baby birds was singing to us. It’s one of those strange, paradoxical moments in time. In the midst of grief, sitting shiva in the middle of this concrete canyon, we realize there is still beauty.

And that’s probably what we are meant to do, reflect on my cousin’s life through our own lens. Someone said she wasn’t a political person, but I knew better. Because around Ada’s kitchen table we let our political hair down, and Sue was always in the middle of the fray, leading the conversation. Maybe with her NYC realtor/colleagues she didn’t voice her opinions, but her family and close friends knew she had the heart of a liberal. Which is why my conversation with the cabby of my taxi on the way to Penn Station was apropos.

He was from Africa. He spoke French “officially.” He got his BA from Baruch College in the Flatiron District and was going to get his masters soon. Just as soon as he gets his green card…

And to wake up at home this morning and hear all about President Obama’s meeting with Gov Perry in TX and speculation about Obama’s decision not to have a “photo-op” holding refugee children at the border yesterday made me feel sick. Particularly when I saw Perry quickly swivel his chair out of sight as the CNN camera started rolling at that meeting with the POTUS. God forbid he should be seen like Gov Chris Christie – embracing our President. Of course Perry would like a picture of Obama holding children he is “…about to deport” as one commentator said.

Because to a politician, it’s appearances that count. And the optics of immigration isn’t very pretty.

My cabby told me there is a French saying about things you may want in life. Bit by bit, the bird builds her nest.

Father and Daughter in NYC

Father and Daughter in NYC

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IMG_0787Yesterday we got up early to wish our country a happy birthday. Like we’ve done so many times before, we headed up the mountain to Mr Jefferson’s home for the 52nd Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello. http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/nearly-citizens-naturalized-at-monticello/article_33d59e48-03f4-11e4-af9a-0017a43b2370.html

Thousands always gather to watch our newest citizens swear an oath of allegiance to these United States; red and blue, right and left unite in our collective pride for once. And as Iraq was dissolving into tribal warfare, trying desperately to sustain its very early gestational stage of freedom, I thought about the bigger picture. How we didn’t achieve true independence in 1776, well not ALL of us did, IMG_0792

We had to fight our own bloody Civil War and then survive the tumultuous 60s, and we are still voting one state at a time for marriage equality in 2014.

And while the keynote speaker, David Rubenstein, co-founder and CEO of the Carlyle Group, read an amusing email he received from TJ himself, it was his list of famous immigrants that caught my attention; Albert Einstein, YoYoMa, Kissinger, Madeline Albright, etc and I couldn’t help but think about the buses of women and children that have faced angry mobs in California, and the refugee camps we’ve set up along border states.    IMG_0797

Still, what other country our size manages to allow and contain so much dissent, along with a free press? How will history tell this American immigration story? It turns out Mr Rubenstein graduated the same year as Bob from Duke University. I asked Bob if he thought he’d been a frat boy in 1970. The Yearbook that year was divided in two, one for the Greeks and one for the Geeks (Hippies).

And as I stood there with my little flag and my hand in its splint, I thought about the Supreme’s latest Hobby Lobby ruling. In 1967 when I was in college, doctors were not allowed to write prescriptions for that newfangled birth control pill if you were unmarried. And today, your boss can determine your reproductive destiny because SCOTUS has ruled in favor of corporations over women. And it has once again softened the line between church and state, and we know what Mr Jefferson would say about that! IMG_0783

http://classroom.monticello.org/teachers/resources/profile/6/Jefferson-and-the-Declaration-of-Independence/   ps why do I always look like some botched plastic surgery victim?

 

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We always stay put on the 4th of July weekend. One reason is because the new residents have just started their intern year and need supervising. This has been true for centuries, if not for most of our marriage. The new doctors have to learn how to write a prescription, or maybe today how to email it to a pharmacy. They need to know the complex ins and outs of  digital, medical-coding and record keeping. They need to learn when to admit a patient to the hospital, and how. And what to do when said patient refuses admission and walks out – against medical advice. In other words, all the stuff they didn’t learn in medical school…they have to learn this in the month of July. Which is why you should try to avoid a teaching hospital’s ER in July.

The other reason we stick around on this holiday weekend is because I won’t drive anywhere. Because back in 1949, after my Father had died of a brain tumor in April, the Flapper went for a ride to see the new Wilkes Barre airport. That 4th of July weekend she had her legs crushed and nearly died when a drunk driver hit our car. My Nana and sister Kay were both in a coma, and my brother Jim was sent off to camp with broken ribs. After that trip to the ER, I was 10 months old and ended up with a foster family.

This year, though Bob is working the weekend, he’s off on the 4th so that we can attend Monticello’s Naturalization Ceremony. It’s become a tradition since we moved to Central Virginia, to hike up Mr Jefferson’s mountain and watch and weep while newly minted citizens pledge to honor and defend their new country; more than 3,000 immigrants have raised their right hands since 1963.

Monticello is a beautiful spot for this, full as it is of the spirit that animated this country’s foundation: boldness, vision, improvisation, practicality, inventiveness and imagination, the kind of cheekiness that only comes with free-thinking and faith in an individual’s ability to change the face of the world — it’s easy to imagine Jefferson saying to himself, “So what if I’ve never designed a building before? If I want to, I will.”
from Sam Waterston’s remarks at Monticello, July 4th, 2007

Monticello Fourth 023FB

“Cheekiness,” I like that! We missed the year that George W Bush was the speaker, I don’t know why?

But we’ve heard actors and artists galore rave about these United States of America. https://mountainmornings.net/2011/07/02/yearning-to-breathe-free/ This year our local boy, Dave Matthews will be the keynote speaker. I used to see him working out all the time at our sport’s club (kind of like when I worked out next to the Boss in Shrewsbury). Star struck old lady on a stationary bike. It’s a bit more organized now since we first started our trek nearly 10 years ago. Now you must actually purchase a ticket, and you have to be bussed up to the old house.

I read somewhere that a woman who was taking the oath of citizenship, refused to say she would take up arms for her newly adopted country. http://rt.com/usa/doughty-atheist-citizenship-arms-012/ This created an uproar since she is not religious, but feels as a person of conscience she would not kill anyone. It seems the powers that be wanted her to get it (her pacifism) in writing from a church, before they would allow her to become a US citizen…only the Catch 22 is that she doesn’t belong to any church…Are we surprised that happened in Texas? Obviously a glitch in the naturalization process, since I’m sure Mr Jefferson would agree with her!

The wedding took place one mountain over from Monticello, 3 years ago, where Mr Jefferson grew his grapes and fruit trees. We were pretty cheeky!

J&M  0891

http://www.monticello.org/site/visit/july-4th-monticello

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