Friday, February 22, 2008

Heavenly Friday Five

Singing Owl writes this week's Friday Five~

I am in Seattle assisting with family stuff and preparing to attend a memorial service (Saturday) for my sister who died of complications of early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

I am not grieving much, since the shock and tears and goodbyes and losses have been many and have occurred for a long time now. I am mostly relieved that my wonderful sister and best friend is free from pain and confusion, and I am thinking of eternity. That sounds somber, but I don't mean it to be. I decided to have a little fun with the idea. So how about we share five "heavenly" things? These can me serious or funny or a combination of the two.
What is your idea of a heavenly (i.e. wonderful and perfect):

1. Family get-together

I'd love a family gathering where my parents could be with my children. I'd love to know my parents as old people. They both died much too young.

2. Song or musical piece

When I get to heaven, I hope I can sing. Here on planet Earth, my voice won't do what my ears tell it to do, so I don't sing unless I'm alone in the car. If I can sing along, I'll be happy.

3. Gift

Travel, tickets to any kind of live performance, cashmere.

4. You choose whatever you like-food, pair of shoes, vacation, house, or something else. Just tell us what it is and what a heavenly version of it would be.

I want the perfect jeans -- a pair of button fly, boot leg, low-rise jeans that have been washed enough to be soft, but not so much that they sag; a crisp white cotton blouse; a black cashmere sweater; a colorful French silk scarf tied around the handle of a soft coffee-brown leather satchel; a pair of red silver-buckled loafers from Milan, and hips slim enough to pull it off.

5. And for a serious moment, or what would you like your entrance into the next life to be like?
What, from your vantage point now, would make Heaven "heavenly?"

Given my family history, I'd like my entrance into the next life to be when I'm really, really old! What would make heaven "heavenly?" Forgiveness.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tagged by Counselor In Process

I got tagged by Counselor In Process.
The rules for the meme are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share six non important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

Six unimportant things, hmmm.
~ I have eaten peanuts or peanut butter every day for as long as I can remember. My Grandfather, Daddy Matt, worked in a peanut warehouse. (yep, I know, really southern, but there's nothing like a Virgina peanut)
~ I have to read a little bit before I fall asleep at night, which means I sometimes don't fall asleep because the book is too compelling.
~ I have multiple piercings in one earlobe, but don't wear extra earrings any more
~ I still haven't outgrown my seventh grade penchant for colored ink. Not very lawyerly, but my pink and turquoise pens amuse my opponents -- and being underestimated is almost never a bad thing.
~ I really like teenagers. I think they're funny and interesting and great company. I also like two-year-olds. Thirteen-month-olds are the only kids I don't enjoy. The poor little munchkins can't walk or talk, but they know enough to really want to, so they spend their time frustrated and falling down.
~ I have three last names. No, not like a soap opera diva. In real life, my first name, middle name and last name are all surnames -- my mother's maiden name, my grandmother's maiden name, and mine. It's another southern thing. The girls I grew up with had names like Randall, Ridgely, Ramsay and Cooper. And the kids named Madison, Ashley, and Courtney were christened with their mothers' and grandmothers' surnames. It's a tradition I'm glad has spread beyond the south.

I tag Garden Girl and NJGrits because they never post anymore. I also tag Songbird and anyone else who wants to play. P.S. None of you are random.

Another Question -- Why Aren't We Outraged?

Robin Morgan's eye-popping essay Good-Bye to All That (#2) examines the way the media and the voting public have treated Hillary Clinton's candidacy. Whether you support Obama, Clinton, or McCain, pay attention to Robin Morgan's words and examine your own emotional response to Hillary Clinton's candidacy. I hope you'll follow the link to read the entire article, but here are two brief excerpts for you to ponder today as you listen to news about the campaign and talk with your co-workers, friends and family.

From Robin Morgan, February 2, 2008 ---

"Goodbye To All That” was my (in)famous 1970 essay breaking free from a politics of accommodation especially affecting women (for an online version, see here).

During my decades in civil-rights, anti-war, and contemporary women’s movements, I’ve avoided writing another specific “Goodbye . . .” But not since the suffrage struggle have two communities—joint conscience-keepers of this country—been so set in competition, as the contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) and Barack Obama (BO) unfurls. So.

Goodbye to the double standard . . .

—Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a Snow Maiden who’s emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for politics.

—She’s “ambitious” but he shows “fire in the belly.” (Ever had labor pains?)—When a sexist idiot screamed “Iron my shirt!” at HRC, it was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted “Shine my shoes!” at BO, it would’ve inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national dishonor.

Young political Kennedys—Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr.—all endorsed Hillary. Senator Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits would snort “See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the forward-looking generation backs him.” (Personally, I’m unimpressed with Caroline’s longing for the Return of the Fathers. Unlike the rest of the world, Americans have short memories. Me, I still recall Marilyn Monroe’s suicide, and a dead girl named Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick.)

Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .

Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary’s “thick ankles.” Nixon-trickster Roger Stone’s new Hillary-hating 527 group, “Citizens United Not Timid” (check the capital letters). John McCain answering “How do we beat the bitch?" with “Excellent question!” Would he have dared reply similarly to “How do we beat the black bastard?” For shame.

Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously outraged—and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.

Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history, including one with the murderous slogan “If Only Hillary had married O.J. Instead!” Shame.

Goodbye to Comedy Central’s “Southpark” featuring a storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in HRC’s vagina. I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.

Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?

Goodbye to the news-coverage target-practice . . .

The women’s movement and Media Matters wrung an apology from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews for relentless misogynistic comments ( But what about NBC’s Tim Russert’s continual sexist asides and his all-white-male panels pontificating on race and gender? Or CNN’s Tony Harris chuckling at “the chromosome thing” while interviewing a woman from The White House Project? And that’s not even mentioning Fox News.

And read here as Robin Morgan reminds of the power of women to change the world. The fight against sexism is far from being over in this country and around the world.

We are the women who brought this country equal credit, better pay, affirmative action, the concept of a family-focused workplace; the women who established rape-crisis centers and battery shelters, marital-rape and date-rape laws; the women who defended lesbian custody rights, who fought for prison reform, founded the peace and environmental movements; who insisted that medical research include female anatomy; who inspired men to become more nurturing parents; who created women’s studies and Title IX so we all could cheer the WNBA stars and Mia Hamm. We are the women who reclaimed sexuality from violent pornography, who put childcare on the national agenda, who transformed demographics, artistic expression, language itself. We are the women who forged a worldwide movement. We are the proud successors of women who, though it took more than 50 years, won us the vote.

We are the women who now comprise the majority of U.S. voters.


I hope you'll read the entire article and think about how you approach Hillary Clinton. Having a woman candidate this close to winning the Democratic presidential nomination is an historic event, and no matter who you plan to support, I hope you'll continue the conversation about how women are perceived in our society.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Obama Question

Perhaps I spend too much time among politicians for my own good, but I have a question.

Right after Obama gets to the White House, Congress is going to say, "Thanks for all the stirring speeches about unity and bipartisanship and all, but f*** you, we aren't going along with Plan Yes We Can." Here's what I want to know -- what is Plan B?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Other Side of the Ticket

Here's what the opposition looks like --

Let's not allow this to happen.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Five -- What Are You Doing For Lent?

Ready or not, Lent is upon us! This week's Friday Five is from Mother Laura at RevGalBlogPals.

1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?

I spent Tuesday evening at a largely Quaker retirement village. My hostess told me that dinner would be a traditional Mardi Gras feast, then looked at me as if I was nuts when I said how much I love pancakes. The menu was catfish and gumbo and bread pudding with praline sauce, and it was delicious. Still, the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper is my tradition, even if the food is not as exciting as the Mardi Gras menu.

2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?

The most memorable Shrove Tuesday was the year we made too many pancakes and too much sausage. The Youth Group, which hosted the Pancake Supper, solved the problem by having a sausage-eating contest. I won. Blech! What a tummy-ache.
The most memorable Ash Wednesday was when I was in about 7th Grade. I insisted that my parents drive me to the Ash Wednesday service. I can still remember the dry chalky feel of the ash on my forehead. The silky ash that sometimes forms in our fireplace can transport me back there in an instant. The depth of my adolescent piety was just as gawky as everything else about me at age 13, but the feeling that I was participating in something ancient, along with my dawning sense that belief was about suffering as well as joy, was a transforming experience.
The most memorable Lent was in 1981. My father died suddenly at age 42 just after Ash Wednesday. (I was 20.) The images of loss, grief and loneliness during Lent were so strong for me that year, I couldn't bear to go to church at all during Lent or Holy Week. I thought that Easter would make me feel better, but the Resurrection story and readings for the Easter season were just as piercing. I sat in the back pew on Sundays so that I could escape when it got to be too much.

3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?

See above.

4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?

A little of each. My participation in Lenten discipline has waxed and waned over the years, and I have been in a waning period recently. One of my daughters loves Lent and we often go to church together on Wednesday evenings.

5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year?

My parish hosts weekly Lenten dinners after the Wednesday evening service -- homemade soup, salad and freshly baked bread. Simple and delicious. I don't usually stay for the class afterward. I hope to attend at least two or three of these, though work and family responsibilities make it difficult.

Monday, February 4, 2008

2008 Reading Challenge - January - Part 2

Here is the remainder of the list of books I read in January -- I think I need a little fiction for February!

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School -- Matthew Frederick

It's only 101 pages long, and I keep thinking I'm finished with it, but then I come back to it again. I am fascinated by the interplay of our interior experiences and the external world -- not only how we respond visually to images, but also how we respond to spaces. How does a building feel holy or home-like or bureaucratic or majestic? Frederick conveys the work of architects both as nitty-gritty how-to, like his suggestion that plans and drawings be rolled with the drawing surface on the outside so that they'll lie flat when laid out on a table; and aesthetic theory, like his observation that an appreciation for asymmetrical balance demonstrates a capacity for higher-ordered thinking. He covers everything from how to draw a straight line a discussion of ego and design.

Eat, Pray, Love -- Elizabeth Gilbert

The jury is still out on this one. Reading it felt indulgent and a little escapist, but I loved the descriptions of Italy. I enjoyed the sojourn in India a bit less, and by the time Gilbert reached Bali, I lost interest, and only got to the end so that I could find out how her journey ended. She's a terrific food writer and travel diarist, and a few sections of the book are laugh-out-loud funny, but I'm not adding it to my list of great spiritual memoirs.

Microtrends -- Mark Penn

January must have been my month for books that could be read in small, small bites. Mark Penn is a well-known pollster and the man who defined the term "soccer moms" in time for the 1992 election. Here, he examines the niches of American society, and instead of "soccer moms," he brings us "cougars," middle-aged women who date younger men. Hmmm . . . wonder if that's what happened to the soccer moms.

How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian -- Mark Bittman

Speaking of books that you read in bites, this cookbook is yummy, wonderful, and written by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Mark Bittman, who writes the New York Times weekly column "The Minimalist."

Personal Village -- Marvin Thomas

I had several conversations in a short time with people I care about who expressed a sense of loneliness and a lack of satisfying friendships. One of them asked me point-blank how I maintain a maze of personal connections. I wasn't sure how to answer, and several days later came across this book. I hoped to find a way to talk about building community that would be helpful. I found in this book an enlightening discussion of the different levels of relationship that form a full sense of community. Some people in our lives enrich us by being friendly and familiar touch points as we move through our day, and we can be the same to them. My father taught me the importance of honoring the people I encounter daily by learning their names, asking after their children, noticing their absence when they're ill or on vacation. I know the names of most of the security guards in my office building, the secretaries at the school my children attend, the mayor of our town, most of the people who work on my hall, and many of my colleagues, and they know mine. Thomas describes other levels of relationship --neighbors, friends from church, and people we socialize with occasionally. More intimate are the relationships with our closest friends and family. Thomas believes that we need some of each kind of relationship at a variety of levels of intimacy, but that each of us is better at some kinds of relationships than others. For instance, I love being part of the civic community, but I am not so great at somewhat mid-range relationships in groups, like clubs or sororities, though I know people who get tremendous satisfaction from these associations. I'm lucky to have some close friends and a family that I not only love, but enjoy spending time with.
When I had a chance to resume the conversation with one of the people who inspired the purchase of this book, I was aware that my friendliness with cab drivers and co-workers had been mistaken for more intimate friendships. The two of us then talked at length about what makes the right mix of relationships for different people, and I learned a lot about which realms of our respective social networks felt full and which felt empty. Emptiness in different areas produces very different kinds of loneliness.

On my bookshelf for February--
March -- Gwendolyn Brooks
Tin House: Graphic Issue -- Win McCormack, et al,
The Thirteenth Tale -- Diane Setterfield
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die -- Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Saturday, February 2, 2008

2008 Trying New Things Challenge

On February 15 and 16, the Little Blue State Theater Company will host a benefit performance of the Vagina Monoloques. My eighteen year old daughter, Shiny, and I are both in the cast, along with several friends. My family will be in the audience, along with the gynecological oncologist who treated me three years ago.* I expect he will learn a thing or two about the women he treats!

This is the first time I've been on stage since I played the Giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk" at Camp Carysbrook sometime in the early 1970's. (In a small-world twist, the director of "Jack and the Beanstalk" grew up to become the artistic director of the Little Blue State Theater Company where the V Monologues will be staged.)

The Vagina Monologues, were written by Eve Ensler, who interviewed hundreds of women about their bodies and their lives. The monologues will bring you to tears, both from laughter and from pain. It's grown from a one-woman show to a world wide phenomenon. Our cast is an amazingly diverse group of women ranging in age from 18 to 86, both professionals and amateurs. Experiencing this with my daughter moves me beyond words.

The community has responded enthusiastically and the Friday night show sold out immediately, so the organizers added a Saturday matinee, which is also almost sold out -- and that's with almost no advertising! I'll keep you posted as we get closer to performance time.

*My doctor just gave me a clean bill of health, so I can relax for a bit. Whew!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday Five -- Saints' Days and Superbowl

Friday Five- options, options edition

Sally, the birthday girl, gives us options for the Friday Five.

Superbowl -- love it or hate it?

I don't understand football, but I love the commercials. This year one of the commercials will feature a long-standing joke among the deaf community. It's amazing, and yes, it's silent.

So cool it might turn this inveterate Diet C*ke addict into a P*psi girl.

Candlemas/ Imbloc/ Groundhog day/ St Brigid's day- all of these fall on either the 1st or 2nd February.
1. Do you celebrate one or more of these?
No, and reading other people's answers, I am worried about my feeble ability to celebrate.

2. How?

Does meditating on Bill Murray's performance in Groundhog Day count?

3. Is this a bit of fun or deeply significant?

Actually, Groundhog Day (the movie) is fun *and* deeply significant. I can't help it; I cry when Bill Murray's character finally becomes kind and generous. And who wouldn't love to wake up every morning to Sonny and Cher singing "I Got You, Babe" with it's hurdy gurdy instrumentation.

4. Are festivals/ Saints days important to you?

I love the stories of the saints and one of my favorite things to read is the saints' biographies listed in the church calendar found here. I love the Episcopal Church's teaching that we are all saints, and that some are recognized because they are an example and inspiration to others.

5.Name your favourite Saints day/ celebration.

The Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St. Francis. After all, I share a house with two dogs, a cat, two geckos, a bearded dragon, twenty-odd guinea fowl, and a pond full of fish.

Thank you, Sally. Happy Birthday!