Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Jefferson’

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson was the first President to propose and use ballot initiatives while WE the people are voting for our elected officials? And next week, for the first time since the killing of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, CT between the ages of 6 and 7, the state of Washington will have 2 questions on the ballot about guns.

Initiative 594 would require all firearm sales, including those at gun shows and conducted online, to be predicated on a background check of the buyer. Initiative 591, however, would disallow background checks for gun purchases unless explicitly required by the federal government. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/16/us-usa-firearm-measures-idUSBREA3F1XL20140416

62% of voters in that state favor expanding background checks according to polls, but since they can vote on both questions it may be confusing. Will Washington be the fifth state to close the gun show loophole, along with New York, Connecticut, Colorado and Delaware? Considering the most recent school shooting in Marysville, it is a timely question.

When we were young, we had fire drills in school. An alarm would go off and everybody had to proceed calmly towards the door, file into the hallway one by one in a straight line and convene outside in the parking lot. Teachers counted heads to make sure everyone was present and accounted for. They tell me we had atomic bomb drills too, hiding under our desks, but I don’t remember those. I do remember filing upstairs at Sacred Heart School for our first dose of a newfangled Polio vaccine

But today teachers and students are practicing what to do should a person with a gun walk through their front doors. It’s conveniently called a “Lockdown Drill.” Think about that for a second, our children are taking time out of their day to play hide and seek in a pretend scenario with a crazed maniac.

In this Washington Post article a teacher talks about having to keep her 4 and 5 year old students hidden and quiet in a classroom closet for 13 minutes!  13 minutes…”16 tiny bodies sitting crisscross applesauce, hands in laps, plus two adults…Instead of controlling guns and inconveniencing those who would use them, we are rounding up and silencing a generation of schoolchildren, and terrifying those who care for them. We are giving away precious time to teach and learn while we cower in fear.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/rehearsing-for-death-a-pre-k-teacher-on-the-trouble-with-lockdown-drills/2014/10/28/4ab456ea-5eb2-11e4-9f3a-7e28799e0549_story.html

She has a point, a very valid point. Instead of rehearsing for death WE the people should start screaming. I was sickened to learn that three states have ballot initiatives to try and curtail a woman’s ability to choose to have a child. TRAP laws and Personhood amendments galore, our glorious, religious right/wing/nuts would love to have government by and for WE the people control our sexual and reproductive health. But, hey keep your hands off our guns! They would rather have our teachers and children terrorized in school – and believe you me, WE are more likely to be gunned down outside a school in this country –  than propose universal background checks for gun owners. How sick and sad is that.

A ratio of 3 to 1, three states against choice to one that is trying to tackle gun violence. After Newtown, President Obama said “Shame on us,” if this tragedy doesn’t result in new gun laws. Shame on us indeed.

I teach in a country awash in weaponry. Maybe that moment I stood alone in my classroom was when I was closest to the truth. In 13 minutes, according to my gruesome and involuntary mental calculus, a single gunman with his effortlessly obtained XM15-E2S rifle and 26 rounds in each of two additional magazines could potentially kill 78 of us.    Proponents Of Increased Gun Control Laws Demonstrate In Washington

Read Full Post »

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?

 

Read Full Post »

I’m sorry to say, that while perusing Twitter I lacked the energy and inclination to watch SyFy’s new show Sharknado. It was all over my Twitter feed, but instead I linked to @KosherSoul’s Washington Post article in the first person singular. The man’s name is Michael Twitty, and I somehow found him when he wrote an article about Paula Deen. He is a Southern culinary historian and food blogger http://afroculinaria.com with a remarkably astute point of view!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/first-person-michael-w-twitty-36-culinary-historian-and-food-blogger-from-rockville/2013/07/10/a9ac8d08-d91f-11e2-9df4-895344c13c30_story.html

“No one had to tell me about “organic” or “sustainable,” because that was the tradition that was passed down to me. My authenticity is not based on food trends; my authenticity is based on what August Wilson once called the self-sustaining ground of the slave quarter.”

His intention is to bring an awareness to our white Euro-centric society of our gastronomic roots in Africa. Most food cooked on plantations in the Antebellum South was not done by French chefs – even though Mr Jefferson did have a French chef give his slave/cook Edith Fossett  instructions: “1862 He (Jefferson) had a French cook in Washington named Julien, and he took Eda and Fanny there to learn French cookery. He always preferred French cookery. Eda and Fanny were afterwards his cooks at Monticello.” So you can see how French cooking did influence Virginia and Louisiana chefs in the future.

But mostly today’s Southern cuisine is the result of black enslaved women, who created wholesome, real food;  locally grown and harvested. They raised the cows, chickens and pigs that were slaughtered without drugs. They grew the vegetables and fruit without pesticides.

So I began to think of my own culinary history, born in PA coal country and nurtured in rural NJ. How is it that I managed to raise 2 children who became healthy, real food-types despite my own upbringing? My foster mother Nell cooked by can, usually Campbells. She was of that new-fangled, post-war generation that was sold a bill of goods. Look, we created a frozen TV dinner for you to just “heat and serve” to your family! Marketing was focused on making the happy 50s housewife’s life simple and easy. Where do you think that canned green bean special swimming in soup came from on Thanksgiving?

But Nell was first generation Yugoslavian, and she talked about her father keeping barrels of sauerkraut in their basement. Sometimes she would fry pork chops, but for special occasions, she would make “halupkes.” These are the most delicious little pillows of ground pork and rice, rolled in a cabbage leaf and simmered in sauerkraut. I adored this Slavic stuffed cabbage, with a passion. Even today, comfort food usually involves pork. But lucky for me, the Flapper loved to cook.

The Flapper was married first to an Italian man, then widowed and married to my Father, an Irishman. She married my step-father, who was Jewish, after I moved back into her house. Consequently, she was a proper global chef de cuisine. My pre-teen and teen years were filled with lovely aromas and real food. She baked banana cream pies, deviled eggs and put together a proper meatball and tomato sauce. She could roast, fry and broil just about anything using her Fanny Farmer cookbook. In fact, I think she only opened a can to get at some stewed tomatoes for her famous Depression-era mac and cheese, with bacon!

Nell taught me to cook with love on special occasions, and my MIL Ada taught me how to make a proper seder dinner. But the Flapper taught me to cook with alacrity, with whatever is in season, using the freshest possible ingredients. And this led to the Bride winning her Kindergarten Mother’s Day essay by “writing” about my mac and cheese and how I cook “from scratch,” even when I make PB & J sandwiches! Here are my herb planters on the deck.

IMG_1431

The best thing I learned from the Flapper was always adding some TLC to any dish. What is your culinary history?

Read Full Post »

Happy, snowy President’s Day everyone. This weekend we avoided big box store sales and headed up the mountain to our very own Monticello. Even if we didn’t live here, I’d have to count Mr Jefferson as one of my very favorite presidents. His writing, his architecture, his grandchildren! We met cousins Anita and Skip for an author’s book launch lecture, “Jefferson’s Granddaughter in Victoria’s England,” by Ann Lucas Birle.

Ellen Wayles Coolidge was a favorite granddaughter. She was schooled alongside TJ at Monticello by her Mother in all the classics that young men would learn in the early 19th Century. Her retired Grandfather would hum Scottish tunes while he worked and always made time for little Ellen; calling to her, asking how many thousands of things she must have to talk to him about. She didn’t marry until she was 27, almost ancient for a bride at the time, and most likely because she was not only brilliant and charming, she was extremely witty. I imagine a young suitor may have been intimidated by her presence, along with the requisite entrance into the Great Hall in order to meet the President, her Grandfather. The not so young Mrs Coolidge managed to have 6 children in 5 years (there was a set of twins) and if ever there was a reason for contraception, Mr Santorum, just read some history!

If she lived today, she’d be a blogger! She wrote almost daily in her “fully indexed” travel diary from 1838 to 1839 and as a result, we can now read about her first trip to England. Ellen Coolidge’s health was failing after such rapid-fire childbirth, and so the trip was planned to restore her body, mind and spirit. Her writing is fiercely personal, but with lightening flashes of divine satire. It’s as if Edith Wharton met Jon Stewart. She writes of the Coronation, the Tower, of art and the great English writers she meets. And about Thomas Jefferson she says:

“My grandfather can never be a favorite of the few, being himself the friend of the many. There is a perpetual opposition between the rich and the poor which makes an advocate for the one always appear an opponent of the other; but this is temporary; posterity, although divided into the same classes, judges with less ‘esprit de corps’ the actions of past times and tardy justice is done….”

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: