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Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Obama’

If Mirriam Webster is on to something, they just let the world know. The Word of the Year for 2016 is “surreal,” or “having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic;” and after the past few days and months I’d have to agree: a truck plows through a Christmas Market in Berlin, mimicking the Nice attack earlier this year; a Russian ambassador is assassinated in Turkey while being filmed by an AP journalist, just as citizen journalists have been documenting killings by police and streaming them in real time in this country; a Twitter-babbling, boisterous billionaire wins our election with a little help from Russia, just as many populist politicians all over Europe are disrupting the status quo.

The past year does seem like a nightmare, surreal, only we are not dreaming. Yesterday the deal was sealed with the Electoral College, and Melania (or Ivanka) will get to pick out the new White House china, not William Jefferson Clinton. Will it be American (I love my pattern from Lenox, which was once produced in NJ) or Slovenian? Just think, if Hillary had won, Bill could have just recycled the fine china Hillary picked the first time around! This would have saved taxpayers plenty!

I wonder what kind of food Mrs T will serve at state dinners? I heard a fascinating author discussion on NPR about the history of First Ladies and how they have sparked culinary trends in the past. Think of Jackie O introducing French food to the American palate. She and Julia Child shaped my young interest in all things French. I nearly burned down my first home trying to make coq au vin.

Just as Eleanor Roosevelt told her chef not to produce any meal costing more than the average American could afford during the Great Depression, Michelle Obama has been instrumental in getting our country moving and making sure her chef, Sam Kass from Chicago, planned his meals based on Real Food.

Kass changed the Obama’s diet—more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; less processed foods and desserts. As first lady, Michelle Obama passionately told her family’s culinary story, especially how it benefited the health of her girls. She and Kass turned to broader health initiatives beyond the first family’s table. They grew a vegetable garden on the South Lawn, launched the health and lifestyle initiative “Let’s Move,” tackled school lunch reform and redrew the United States Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid as a simplified icon called “My Plate.”http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/12/09/504693961/first-ladies-often-forge-food-trends-but-melanias-menu-is-a-mystery

If I were to apply the term surreal to Mrs T’s gastronomical philosophy, we might imagine a state dinner consisting of her favorite fruits. After all, this is what we know, she eats 7 fruits a day. So perhaps the first course would be a baked fig? Followed by a blueberry and raspberry terrine? Would she serve a third course, a potato or pasta dish? Maybe she would branch out and serve cauliflower rice in a lovely crystal bowl? For dessert, it would have to be apple pie…or maybe strudel? We already know Mr T doesn’t drink alcohol, but I’m sure they would have to serve the appropriate wine pairings to their guests of state. Right?

This week we are off to Nashville for some grandparenting fun. It will be the first year in a very long time when Bob will NOT be working on Christmas, however our daughter WILL be seeing any and all comers in her ER on Christmas Eve. She loves her urban hospital as they see lots of ages and real life and death problems – unlike a suburban hospital’s typical run-of-the-mill, free-floating anxiety problems. The staff really cares for their homeless population who tend to come in as the temperatures drop. I hope she doesn’t mind my little synopsis.

I’m looking forward to my enforced news sabbatical and will try to write between grating potatoes for the Bride and Groom’s Hannuka party and warming up the dreidel. Hope whatever holiday you are celebrating this year is filled with family love, cheer, real food and friends. And I hope your dreams are filled with nutcrackers and sugar plum fairies! Thought you might want to see my tiny, surreal tree!

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Long flowing hair…

“I want long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka dotted, twisted, beaded, braided
Powered, flowered and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled and spahettied”
Read more: Hair – Hair Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Here are the things my mother, the Flapper, told me about my hair:
“Get it out of your eyes.”
“Brush it every night.”
“It’s your crowning glory.”
“You have to suffer to be beautiful,” while pulling tight on my braids. A message I did not internalize.

She never told me to cover it, unless it was cold outside. I’ve been thinking about hair because of FLOTUS’ scarf-gate. Y’all knew I’d have to write about it, that place where feminism, culture and religion intersect. To simply say it’s much ado about nothing, another political prank, is the obvious reaction. After all, we see Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton sitting, heads uncovered, with the Saudi royals. Oh, and that time when FLOTUS did cover her head in Indonesia? She was inside a mosque; similar to going to the Vatican to meet the Pope with a doily on top of your head. You pay some respect right?

But even as a child in Sacred Heart Church with a beanie or a doily on my head, I thought it odd that men had to take OFF their hats for Mass! Children are really good at spotting inequality. Back when men wore hats all the time, they would customarily doff them for a woman. It was a sign of respect, a greeting, “Top of the Mornin” and all that.

So what is it about our hair ladies that’s got severely religious Muslim and Orthodox Jews wanting us to cover up whenever we venture outside? From an Hermes scarf for an Arab princess, to the burka for a Persian schoolteacher. Granted with Hasidim the women can wear elaborate wigs that probably look even better than any hair style I could create with ten children hanging on my skirts. Aha, that’s it! Think about it…

It’s really not about our hair, it’s not that we wouldn’t want them to see our beautiful, long, flowing hair. Hair down to there hair. It’s about control. And it’s not that the men in these religious communities/countries wouldn’t be able to control themselves when confronted by our hair.

It’s all about controlling our bodies. And in this country, religion and state are separate, so our government cannot tell us: not to use birth control; not to drive a car; not to leave the house without a man; not to shake hands with a man we do not know; and on and on. Although some legislators in our government would like to limit our access to reproductive health care, would like their religious views imposed on us. But we, the female people, have prevailed so far, so good.

And as for Michelle Obama? Well played First Lady, well played.

Rag Curls before SHS

Rag Curls before SHS

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Imagine a time when women were addressed by their husband’s name, Mrs Andrew Ford for example. Imagine a time when we couldn’t vote, or inherit property. I know, it’s hard for us to imagine all this, although when I went off to college I was not allowed to wear pants on the street or in any fine restaurant. We were not given a tie, like a man who might show up tie-less, and told we could now enter their dining establishment, we were just scooted out. Girls were dying or becoming infertile because this was before Roe vs Wade, and back-alley abortions were as common as…coat hangers. Our lives were less than, and then we changed all that.

And Maybe the exPresident of France married a model, and maybe President Xi Jinping of China married a pop singer. But our President married a no-nonsense lawyer. And good for Michelle, for not tolerating a heckler. Bravo! “I do not do this.” Haven’t we all wanted to shout that to the roof tops? I do not mop floors! I do not bake cookies! I do not join PTAs!! I know, I did all those things, but still… I remember when a cousin told me she just doesn’t cook, and I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Shame on you people who thought Michelle was acting like an “angry Black woman.” Here we go again, trying to restrain our evil womanly ways, and spinning it like it’s a racist thing. I was so happy she came out of her First Lady persona to call out a heckler, at a gay fundraiser. She went right up in her face, she got in her grille. And that’s just the way you want to fight, standing up for yourself, defending your right to be there, to speak your mind. So it’s fitting we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of a little known English Suffragette this month, Emily Davison.

At the 1913 Epsom Derby in Manchester, Emily threw herself into tho ring to place a Suffragette banner on the King’s horse, at full gallup. Good idea, bad execution, since 4 days later she died of her injuries.  An active, determined fighter for women’s voting rights, “She was frequently arrested for acts ranging from causing a public disturbance to burning post boxes and was sentenced to a month’s hard labour in Strangeways after throwing rocks at chancellor David Lloyd George’s carriage. During her sentence, she went on hunger strike and blockaded herself into her cell, leading prison staff to turn a hose on her and almost fill her room with water.”                                                   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-22826644

Today, it is hard to believe that we had to witness yet another panel of mostly military men (yes, there was 1 woman) sitting before Congress. And exploring the level of sexual assault in the services has reminded me of the Catholic Church looking into pedophilia and priests. The word clueless comes to mind. So, I’m asking our First Lady, a staunch supporter of the military, to step up; tell Congress and the Pentagon we don’t do this. American women are not only wearing pants in the street and in battle today, they are bringing home the bacon once they return in record numbers, and they are being treated as less than by their superior officers. Please sign this petition: https://www.thisispersonal.org942532_492383090840563_145442712_n  And Michelle, if you want to stay home for your daughter’s birthday this weekend, that’s fine by me!

 

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If I may, I’d like to give you some tried and true suggestions for raising teenagers in the White House.

!) Keep up the no Facebook policy: I’d like to think if there were such a thing when I had teens it would have been verboten, like MTV. Oh and let them watch more than 2 hours of TV a week, maybe 4 not counting sports?

2) Make them pay half for their first car: I know they probably don’t have a part-time job, like working at Starbucks or babysitting, but make it clear you expect a contribution.

3) Set a reasonable curfew: Figure out when the bars close in DC, and make it an hour before that as long as it’s before midnight. We all know bad things happen after midnight.

4) Make no drugs or alcohol a sacrosanct rule: Destroy all paraphernalia you find immediately and have the Secret Service (SS) deliver any drunken teenage boys they might find on your lawn to their own homes pronto.

5) Make no exceptions to Rule #4, except: Have them sign a contract that states they can call you at anytime if they have eluded the SS and are drunk and need a ride back to the White House; no questions asked.

6) Cellphone criteria: There will be NO sexting, instagram or tweeting. Zero, zilch, none.

7) Dating Dilemma: Have a realistic sex talk please, if you haven’t already. Mom and Dad-in-Chief will have to meet and approve of each date; football games, movies, concerts. Of course the SS will have fully vetted said date, and will accompany them. There will be no dating of bodyguards!

8) Lighten up on Health: We all know body image problems may set in when hormones surge. Eat fewer carrots and more pie. Practice yoga and not spinning. Allow NO permanent body changes (such as tattoos or body piercing) until age 18. Wear less sleeveless shirts, those arms are intimidating.

9) Do NOT hire a college counselor: You are an educated woman, surely you can require the dreaded college essay and application packet be delivered on time. Suggested topic: “How to Elude the SS.”

10) Be Proactive: Invite their friends over on weekends, start a bowling league in the basement or set aside an arts and craft’s room near the Blue Room. Keep their friends close.

I hope you take my suggestions freely and without any mental reservations.
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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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