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Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

While cleaning and decluttering my aviary, I discovered a wish list I had made back in February of 2002 while still in NJ. At that time my son was applying to college and my daughter was working at her first post-college job in DC. I was anticipating the dreaded Empty Nest syndrome. It was fun to read the 25 wishes; many have already come true! Though I do not have an agent or a cook…yet.

Strangely enough, the very first thing on my wish list is to get more organized! Which is exactly what I’m doing; I now know where every single utensil is in my kitchen, I have the perfect amount of towels, and I have thrown out all those files I kept of Rumson Borough Council meetings. I did however keep the random thank you note from readers. It’s always nice to know your copy was read, and not just used to line a bird cage. Newspapers, good stuff.

As you probably know I am NOT a list-maker. But I did pick up a book during the Cville Festival of the Book titled, “52 Lists for Happiness,” by Moorea Seal. Anita and I were talking about how we could have more fun during these Trumpconian years, how we could avoid being dragged down by politics. When I read on my Facebook feed yesterday that we had dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” on Afghanistan, during the holiest week for Christians and Jews, I thought it must be fake news. But I knew Gail, the person posting this, she is a devoted activist and feminist in her church and our community.

She held un umbrella over our heads when we marched in Cville to support Planned Parenthood. She helped organize our first trip to Richmond to march for women’s rights. Gail knows a thing or two. She probably makes lists because she knows how to get things done! Gail quoted a minister, Rev Emily Heath, who said:

Next time someone tells you this is a “Christian nation” remind them that we just bombed Afghanistan during Holy Week.

Specifically we did it on the day that Scripture tells us Christ said these words:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Number 9 on my wish list was to have a “writing room.” A retreat from the world that was not just a corner of the dining room. As I sit here this morning looking at the journal I bought that might prompt me to make lists, I am profoundly afraid for our nation. We have an unpredictable President dropping bombs with alacrity, because his daughter was moved by dying Syrian babies, but not by a dead Syrian baby who washed up on a Greek island. But no, we can’t let Syrian refugees into our country. God Forbid.

At least Assad has decided to move civilians out of their war-torn cities, Sunnis go to Sunni territory and Shia go to Shia. That’s a step, to get the proxy war moving along. The Russians must be just as worried as we are! “The meeting in Moscow on Friday between Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers was the first held between the three allies since the US launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase in response to the alleged chemical attack.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39597630

I am now packing up my home, about to start a new chapter. What will I carry with me, what about all the Flapper’s correspondence? Yes. The elbow noodle pictures from preschool? Probably not. Will we be welcomed into a new community? Will people ask us, as they do all over the South, “What church do you belong to?”

Well, I belong to the church of peace and love, to the people who don’t run their lives by dogma or dietary dictates. I belong to my family of all colors and faiths. I belong to the sisterhood of brave, smart women. I’m going to start my first list – The Things That Make Me Happy Right Now:

Classical Music

Ms Bean

Birds Singing

The Mountains

Spring

The GIF of Our 2 yr Old Grandson Dancing

Bob in the Buddha Garden

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Here we go again. Last night our administration did a 180 on Syria, the whole America First thing was a sham, a synonym for Wall Street First. As a famous general pointed out this morning, we are now fighting a “proxy war,” It’s happened before – a tactical missile strike – in 1986 when Reagan bombed Libya, and last night. It’s a classic “Let’s you and him fight” scenario. We are backing the royal family of Saudia Arabia in the region, as usual, and Russia and Iran are backing Syria’s Assad regime.

And this morning all the pundits are talking. On Twitter, a Brian Williams hashtag took off because it appeared as if the network couldn’t trust Rachel Maddow to report Breaking News. In this house, I was watching Huck try to escape a sinking car on Scandal. We had been under a tornado watch, so trees were still creaking and the wind was moaning. I’d been furiously cleaning and occasionally “cooking” for Passover, which begins Monday night.

Jews everywhere will be preparing a Seder and reenacting the Exodus at their dinner tables. I am a novice Seder-maker, a maker-of-haroses for many years, but never the principle player. There will be half the number of people at my Southern table, and I won’t be making certain fried delectables in chicken fat that nobody eats. Lucky for me Ada and Hudson will be here early, so I will be tutored in the art of making perfect matzoh balls for the chicken soup!

Just as we will detail all the plagues that finally convinced a Pharaoh to let our people go, to leave slavery behind and wander in the desert, let’s examine what led up to our tactical tomahawk missile strike last night.

There was a chemical attack on innocent people, and we saw the pictures in living color. Civilians have been dying and fleeing Syria for years now, but the immediacy of watching “beautiful babies” suffer must have been Mr T’s red line. And he is a knee-jerk reactor as we know from his Twittersphere.

This last week we discovered more connections linking Trump with Russia:

  1. Eric Prince (founder of Blackwater and brother of Betsy DeVos) met a Russian official in the Seychelles with a crown prince of the UAE;
  2. Jared Kushner met a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, in NY, and hey, he’s willing to talk about it;
  3. Carter Page (ex-policy advisor on energy to T’s campaign) met a Russian spy, Victor Podobnyy, in NY.  http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/05/politics/trump-associates-russians-meetings/

But let’s not forget that St Petersburg was recently the target of terrorism…and that Secretary of State Tillerson is cozy with Putin…and that we called Russia to let them know we were going to strike that air base. Is that something you would do to your enemy? I can’t help but think that behind the scenes, even though Putin must publicly decry our actions, something else is going on in this proxy war. I wonder if Mr T asked his “friend,” China’s Xi, down at the Florida palace what he would do now? #WWXD?

What we know is that instead of talking about trade with China, this airstrike has taken precedence. “One of the most urgent issues for the US is North Korea, which is trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the west coast of the US with a nuclear device. It fired a medium-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, the latest in a series of launches.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39517569

I wonder what North Korea is thinking this morning. That is truly our existential crisis. I’m living in a whirlwind of Seder preparation and packing, sometimes it feels like I’m sinking inside that car Huck was trapped in, bleeding and hallucinating. I wanted to wake up this morning and think it was all just a nightmare…what US president would bomb a country without notice against international law? Like Asia and Kim Jong-un, we are dealing with an unpredictable leader who travels from the Hill to the links at his Mar a Lago resort, treating his presidency like a lark.

I can only hope for our sake that Tillerson and Putin are fighting a fair proxy war, and that chemical weapons will never see the light of day again. Ask yourself four questions, Mah Nishtanah – 1) How was last night different from 1986?  2) Why did we only warn Russia of the attack? 3) Why is a chemical attack worse than a bomb? 4) Is this just another ploy to distract us from the Russian Connection?

And will somebody tell the South that a Passover section in the grocery store should NOT contain anything with flour! I’m going to try and make kugel muffins, with matzoh meal or potatoes. Wish me luck!  wide-spinach-kugel-cupcakesjpg

 

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What do you do to mourn? In the past, I’ve been known to bake a cake, a carrot cake. I also bake this cake to celebrate, so it’s an equal opportunity toasted coconut frosted masterpiece, if i do say so myself. I was taught early on by Ada, never send flowers, always bring food to the bereaved. I remember when Bob’s brother Dickie died, we called it the “never-ending fruit salad” since we received so many fruit baskets.

But after suffering through three miscarriages in one year, I felt compelled to de-clutter my life. If my own body wouldn’t cooperate, well then at least I could control something. I’m sure this has a psychological term, but I didn’t ask Dr Jim. I stripped away dead leaves on indoor plants, I scoured kitchen drawers for duplicate utensils. Normally housework wouldn’t interest me, but I became a regular housfrau.

Lately, I’ve been prone to prune more than plants. After downsizing to our Blue Ridge home, we had left some things undone. Beginning with Bob’s surgery I felt the need to pair down our possessions. To actually open those boxes in the basement that made it through two moves without being opened. Before the Paris massacre, we began to tackle our cluttered “unfinished” basement; this weekend we finished it.

We found some amazing things. Academic awards from the Rocker’s school days. The fairy tale I wrote for the Bride’s sorority.

Once upon a time, an ex-hippie ER doc married a feminist writer, a New Englander at heart, and a princess was born on Windsor Mountain. The baby had eyes as black as coal and skin as white as alabaster. A spring fed pond was the setting for her first foray into the wild…

I found the portfolios of both my adult children. The ancient ice-packing-sling-thing  Bob used after his shoulder surgery years ago showed up amid gear Bob used to keep in his plane’s hanger. The Piper Arrow that is missing his touch. The basement was functioning as a garage/archive of our life, but it was drowning in stuff!

Now we can breathe a little easier. This weekend our cousin in Richmond will be called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah. I will remember to be thankful we live in a country where police do not guard the doors of every synagogue. I remember when the Bride tried to enter a Temple in Paris for the High Holidays 15 years ago, and she was surrounded by police, they questioned her to see if she was really Jewish. She was tall and blonde, ‘she didn’t “look” Jewish.

They made her recite a prayer in Hebrew.

Is this what we must do with every Syrian refugee, interrogate every single one? Shall we make them wear a sign pinned to their sleeve that tells us who they are?

Jess Bob Tour Eiffel 20151117

 

 

 

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Something psychedelic has been happening lately on Facebook. A friend from my high school’s Class of ’66 issued a challenge to her classmates to change our profile picture to our teenage self, preferably sporting that iconic hairstyle, the flip. Our generation bridged the gap between the long, straight hair type and the teased within an inch of your life Peggy Sue Got Married type. And nestled right there inbetween the greatest social changes imaginable, lots of us wore the flip with impunity.   CLR High School Web 20131107

Once your virtual self looks sixteen again, memories start floating back. I entered a public high school fresh out of Catholic school. My hair was the least of my worries. I had a severe case of poison ivy on my face Freshman year, and I only knew a few people. The bulk of Sacred Heart grads went on to a Catholic high school; I put my foot down. I was tired of memorizing Catechism. A girl named Margie introduced me to a boy named Bob and from that moment on my fate was sealed.

We sat together at the ‘nerd’ lunch table, which at that prehistoric, precomputer time meant the outliers. Those kids who didn’t play a sport, didn’t wear black leather, didn’t fit in. What we did like to do was drama club, so we would try out for all the plays and look dramatic over tuna fish sandwiches. Our town was salt of the earth blue collar, but most of this lunch table was headed for college. My counselor put me on track for secretarial school, so even though I wasn’t in many of their classes, they accepted me. We were brothers and sisters in Terpsichore.

Some of us became the Big Chill Thanksgiving troupe, gathering again year after year over turkey and cranberry sauce. Too bad my eyes are closed.12156_101119189911809_6561742_n

And it may be hard to believe, but we had a student at our school who suffered from polio. Before the ADA, this girl had to be home-schooled because she was in a wheelchair. I knew she lived in Victory Gardens, and that was all I knew about her. I remembered being lined up at Sacred Heart in the hallway, having to swallow some pink liquid. This was the first polio vaccine, and so I guess our generation bridged that gap as well.

Bob was just telling me how polio is making a comeback mostly because of war-torn Syria. How health officials can’t cross borders to get the vaccine to millions of children. He said it was nearly eradicated world-wide, a gem in the WHO world, and now this creeping viral outbreak.

Following reports of a cluster of 22 acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases on 17 October 2013 in the Syrian Arab Republic, wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) – See more at: http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/Poliothisweek.aspx#sthash.FoP4dKlo.dpuf

Polio doesn’t need a mosquito as a vector, it is passed from person to person which makes it imminently treatable, and even more deadly. On this #ThrowbackThursday, let’s flip this disease around. Consider giving a charitable gift to Unicef this holiday season to help refugee children, to help contain this epidemic. http://www.unicef.org.au/charity-gifts/polio-preventers.aspx

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When it’s a glorious Fall weekend, with nights in the 50s and the high for the day is maybe 80, we will always meander our way off the mountain and down into the city, to mix and mingle at the Farmer’s Market, aka Cville City Market. College kids are back in town, and because it’s a big football weekend there are Ducks everywhere (Oregon), so it’s shoulder to shoulder energy.

Breakfast included a locally sourced bacon and egg sandwich with organic iced green tea. This is however a recipe for disaster with my visual field deficit courtesy of a West Nile mosquito. Because the sun was merciless, and live bluegrass music was everywhere, I wore my sun hat and therefore couldn’t see (or hear) anything to the right of me. Needless to say, I bumped into lots of friends and strangers!

What got to me this time was the abundance of heirloom tomatoes. I don’t think I could ever eat another supermarket tomato again. I moved here determined to stay true to the famous Garden State tomato. That and pizza. But it’s time to admit defeat, one out of two ain’t bad. The many-colored and zebra striped heirloom tomatoes in VA are simply divine.

Which leads me to a little riff on loyalty. I’m about as loyal as they come, like James Carville is to Bill Clinton. I still buy Tide and Dove soap. Which is why I’m keeping my options open about Syria. Yes, I’m a pacifist and I detest this run-up to war. You can’t bring about peace by surgically striking Damascus. If I were that opthalmologist-turned-dictator Assad, I’d get pretty darned pissed. But the mere fact that our President has changed his mind, and is asking the Congress to step up to the plate, gives me a measure of hope. This President who stood tall against the Iraq war. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on Tuesday night.

Because when Virginia’s own President Woodrow Wilson tried to prevent another world war with his League of Nations, he was on to something. And so the world waits for the UN Security Council to vote and for our elected officials to say Yea or Nay. Because Syrian violence is about loyalty – the succession of leadership by bloodline from Mohammed (Alawite a type of Shiite interpretation – 12% minority but ruling class of Muslims) vs a belief in succession by Mohammed’s most able and pious companions (Sunni – 70% of Syrian Muslims).

And btw, 90% of Muslims worldwide are Sunni! Imagine if Jesus had children, and so Christians split into 2 sects; the apostles and saints vs his progeny…instead of say how many? Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Congregational, Lutheran, Baptist….

According to Shiite Islam, Mohammed’s only true heir, imam, was his son-in-law Ali bin Abu Talib. But Alawites take a step further in the veneration of Imam Ali, allegedly investing him with divine attributes. Other specific elements such as the belief in divine incarnation, permissibility of alcohol, celebration of Christmas and Zoroastrian new year. http://middleeast.about.com/od/syria/tp/The-Difference-Between-Alawites-And-Sunnis-In-Syria.htm

Making the world safe for democracy, doesn’t seem to fit in this scenario…at least not without more bloodshed. And unlike my heirloom tomato tart recipe, I can’t envision the end game.

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We’ve all come to that point. A place where there’s no turning back, not enough fuel to land safely at home, but just enough to make it to the next destination. Some people may fold at this point, insist they could never get there, afraid of the unknown, so they’d rather take their chances swimming with sharks. Others may just hover, like Wiley Coyote over a canyon, in their mistaken belief system that the air will keep right on supporting their standing-in-place bodies.

But some keep going. The drums of war are beating once again.

Baghdad is suffering more violence today than it has in years – 1,057 killed last month alone, 50 killed by bombs in the last 24 hours…”More than 4,000 civilians have been killed and 10,000 more have been wounded so far this year, with Baghdad province worst hit.”

I am by no means a Mid-East scholar. But I do like to source my news, to hear all the stories surrounding an issue, to try and not make snap judgements. And that’s why I started reading alJazeera around the Egypt uprising; and I’ve even tuned in to their new American news network, channel 215 on Dish, these past few days.

Because I’d been unplugged in Nashville, and am returning to an inevitable “surgical strike” by our forces in Syria. And I learned that there have been around 20 instances of the use of chemical weapons within the country since the fighting began, which leads one to wonder why the West is responding now? Does a “red line” have to show videos of women and children dying? As one Arab scholar mentioned, “Killing is killing.” How very biblical.

And btw, Russia will veto any intervention proposed to The Security Council, because they think the horrendous attack in a suburb of Damascus on August 21st was actually caused by the rebels. And as I’m listening to alJazeera America, I’m thinking back to my favorite HBO  show of the moment, “Newsroom.”

This fictional newsroom ran a story about Serin gas, a story that proved to be false. And I thought about when the Bride was in Paris during her 2nd semester, about the Serin gas that was used in the 1995 Metro bombings.

And on this rainy morning, I’m really not sure who to believe. Certainly the Newsroom’s General Stomtonovich’s on-air “confession” was cooked by its producer, we saw him do it.

And now the UK has drafted a resolution  “…authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians in Syria.” And we are circling our battleships; the drums are drum drum drumming.

And I think back to the bill of goods we were sold about WMDs in Iraq. And it’s like our whole country has gone out to the edge, once again.

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Good Morning Followers! Finished your coffee and croissant? It’s back to work for Bob and laundry for me. Sorry to say, I like getting very little French news on our island. Diving back into American culture photo copy and listening to CNN has left me with a headache; the Pope is leaving (really?), Woodward has been “threatened” by the White House (I doubt anyone could threaten this man), and John Kerry has announced we’ll be giving Syrian rebels some “non-lethal” aide (so we send them money to buy our guns?).

Being an old newshound, I found my way to Politico for the Woodward story. Instead I clicked on the piece about John Kerry speaking French, mon Dieu! “Secretary of State John Kerry decided to show off some of his French-language skills during a press conference in France Wednesday.” Ha, not all reporters have gone to Rome! It seems that while running for President it’s better not to speak French, but knowing how to speak a few different languages might be helpful for a Secretary. http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/02/kerry-busts-out-some-french-158056.html?hp=r23

Now about our old friend Bob Woodward: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/exclusive-the-woodward-sperling-emails-revealed-88226.html?hp=t1_3 Breaking News!! It’s semantics people. The word “regret” was used about implying that sequestration was a manufactured idea by POTUS. I find it fascinating that a little tete a tete between two people is more newsworthy than the actual bit about those humongous budget cuts that just may cut the legs off of our economic recovery. Hello!

Needing a break from such serious matters, between the rinse cycle and the 2nd cup of coffee, I thought I’d leave you with this little pick-me-up. Our First Lady, in her continuing effort to fight obesity, taught Jimmy Fallon a few, fine Mom Moves. Couldn’t help but rock that cardigan Madame Michelle! Altogether now, get up and dance!

PS Thank you Aunt Cait for the picture of Fourchue Bay!

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