Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dude, Where's My Country?!?!?!?

So while smiles are plastered on for the cameras and hands are shaken, and "compromises" declared, we've now legalized torture and indefinite detention without due process of law. We're created loopholes around habeus corpus. We can no longer, as a nation, claim any kind of moral high ground. We're supposed to be better than this.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. --Friedrich Nietzsche

Digby's had the best series of posts on this travesty I've read anywhere. Especially this one.
People and societies don't just wake up one morning to find they no longer recognize themselves. It's a process. And we are in the process in this country of "defining deviancy down" in ways I never thought possible. We are legitimizing torture and indefinite detention --- saying that we will only do this to the people who really deserve it. One cannot help but wonder what "really deserves it" will mean in the years to come as we fight our endless war against terror.

That's the thing that people who think it's A-OK to torture or imprison "them" without due process don't get. It doesn't take much for "them" to become "us." When it's acceptable in current political rhetoric to label those who don't support the Iraq war or Shrub's policies as "terrorist sympathizers," it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to picture outspoken critics being "disappeared" to gulags or worse. If you've ever watched the movie "Sometime in April" about the Rwandan massacres, the dialed up rhetoric of hate radio led neighbors to slaughter neighbors in the most brutal ways imaginable.

When even the opposition party won't stand up and speak out against this, what hope or recourse do we have? I can't help but think we're about to enter a very dark period in this country's history. The last six years have been a downward spiral, but I'm afraid we haven't hit bottom yet.

Monday, September 18, 2006

In Praise of Wisecrackin' Dames

I've actually been planning to post this for a week or so, but in honor of Governor Ann Richards, here are some of my favorite real-life and cinematic Wisecrackin' Dames:

"Let me tell you, sisters, seeing dried egg on a plate in the morning is a lot dirtier than anything I've had to deal with in politics."

"They blame the low income women for ruining the country because they are staying home with their children and not going out to work. They blame the middle income women for ruining the country because they go out to work and do not stay home to take care of their children."

"I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like." [1988 keynote address, Democratic National Convention]
--Ann Richards

"The first rule of holes: when you're in one, stop digging."
"I believe in practicing prudence at least once every two or three years."
"During a recent panel on the numerous failures of American journalism, I proposed that almost all stories about government should begin: 'Look out! They're about to smack you around again!' "
--Molly Ivins

" I'm going crazy. I'm standing here solidly on my own two hands and going crazy."
--Catherine Hepburn as Tracy Lord from The Philadelphia Story.

And from that same movie, there's Miss Imbry, who steals every scene she's in,
Tracy: "Duluth. That must be a lovely spot. It's west of here, isn't it?"
Miss Imbry: "Yes, but we still get the breezes."

"I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that."
--Lauren Bacall

"You know Steve, you're not very hard to figure, only at times. Sometimes I know exactly what you're going to say. Most of the time. The other times... the other times, you're just a stinker."

"I'm hard to get, Steve. All you have to do is ask me."
--Lauren Bacall as "Slim" in To Have And Have Not

"I love him because he's the kind of guy who gets drunk on a glass of buttermilk, and I love the way he blushes right up over his ears. I love him because he doesn't know how to kiss, the jerk!"
--Barbara Stanwyck as Sugarpuss O'Shea from Ball of Fire. If you've never seen this movie, go rent it. It's a stitch!

"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."
"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."
"I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond."
"He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of."
--Mae West

And of course, Steel Magnolias is a treasure trove of great lines:

"Time marches on and sooner or later you realize it is marchin' across your face."
"When it comes to pain and suffering, she's right up there with Elizabeth Taylor."
"There's so much static electricity in this room, I pick up everything but boys and money."
"Oh, Sammy's so confused he don't know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt."

"The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God."
"I'm pleasant. Damn it! I saw Drum Eatenton at the Piggly Wiggly this morning, and I smiled at the son of a bitch 'fore I could help myself."

"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize."
"Ouiser, you sound almost chipper what happened today you run over a small child or something?"
"Well, you know what they say: if you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!"

So let's hear your favorite lines by wisecrackin' dames. There are too darn few of us around these days!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

More Dilletantin'

Coco, who is now 8 months old, seems determined not to become housebroken. She'll pee outside or on our walk, and 30 minutes later will pee again on the kitchen floor (or wherever she is at the moment). She doesn't seem adverse to peeing in her bed either, like most dogs are, so crating her doesn't always guarantee that she'll hold it until she gets outside. Byron, who is a rather headstrong dog in many ways was a piece of cake to house train compared to our Miss Coco Thing.

Got a haircut today, and for the first time since I've been going to this stylist, I'm not sure that I like the cut. I liked it better after I washed out the various "product" and all of the styling he'd done on it, but the jury's still out.

Maya's Granny posted this today about recommendations coming from the International Conference on Obesity in Sydney (which sounds scientific but is really just a gathering of folks who stand to make a buck off peoples' misery about their weight like pharmaceutical and weight loss companies) that children as young as 5 be put on diets. This is pure and utter bullshit. Sure, if you want to create a child who will end up being obsessed with food and weight, and probably fatter than if she never started dieting, it's a recipe for success. Otherwise, probably about the worst approach you can take. I say this as a kid who was nagged endlessly about my weight by my parents from about age 6 on, and who often was denied certain "fattening" foods that others in my family enjoyed. It did not make me thin, (or even thinner) and it set me up for 20+ years of eating disorders and ultimately a higher weight. I felt that being fat was somehow my fault, because I ate the same food as the rest of my family (sometimes less) yet still I was the "fat one." The only explanation in my child-mind was that I was somehow defective at the core of my being that I couldn't just somehow will myself thin. That inherent sense of being different and somehow defective has never really left me. Even though thoughts of food and eating occupy very little of my consciousness these days and I rarely overeat or feel guilty about anything I eat, not a day goes by that I don't have at least fleeting fantasies about being thinner than I am.

I was saddened to hear that former Texas Governor, Ann Richards passed away last week. Molly Ivins does her memory some justice.

She was so generous with her responses to other people. If you told Ann Richards something really funny, she wouldn't just smile or laugh, she would stop and break up completely. She taught us all so much -- she was a great campfire cook. Her wit was a constant delight. One night on the river on a canoe trip, while we all listened to the next rapid, which sounded like certain death, Ann drawled, "It sounds like every whore in El Paso just flushed her john."

Governor Richards was a class act and an inspiration. She was inclusive and effective and lost to George W. Bush anyway, which goes to show that there ain't no justice in politics. One of my favorite quotes attributed to her is, "The roosters may crow, but the hens deliver the goods."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/12 thoughts

I didn't have a chance to post yesterday, but don't think I could've said it any better than Maya's Granny. Hang on to those people in your life that you cherish.

Keith Olbermann has always been a favorite of mine. Even when he was doing the sports news show on Fox, he brought a level of intelligence and wit that surpasses most of the talking heads even in major news organizations. If you haven't watched this video, do it now. It's one of the most powerful statements I've yet seen about 9/11 and the aftermath. A bunch of terrorists hijacked some planes on 9/11. The Bush administration has been hijacking our country ever since.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tonic for a Parent's Heart

Tuesday was Sam's first day back at school. He came home very happy and sang us a new song he'd apparently learned that day, something about grape juice (the only words we can make out are "grape juice" and "go go go...mmmm juice!"). Wednesday morning the first words out of his mouth were "I want school!"

He's in the same class with the same teacher he had last year. She's wonderful...very committed to the kids and runs a very structured and predictable day, which these kids really need and rely on. They know the routines and know what comes next, which makes transitioning between activities much easier. After so much craziness and upheaval and teachers who didn't "get" him (we still refer to his pre-school teacher as Frau Blucher) or who had nervous breakdowns halfway through the school year (his first year of kindergarten) it's such a relief for him to be in a classroom setting that really seems to be working for him. It's such a crapshoot with Special Ed; you don't have a lot to choose from, and you're at the mercy of the district hiring and staffing. The district won't give you much information about the experience and background of the teachers, and sometimes won't even tell you until a few days before school who youf kid's teacher will be. But we got lucky last year and this and for that I'm grateful.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tabouli Salad

Big Sur Coastline

Tabouli Salad
(Best made a day or two ahead)

1 cup wheat bulgur
3 cucumbers, diced
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, diced
1/2 bunch parsley, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

Pour boiling water over the wheat bulgur, let stand for 20 minutes then drain

Mix everything together in a large bowl, cover, stick in the fridge overnight.

Everytime I make this, it takes me back to the early 70's and my friends' place in Big Sur. The Addams* lived at the end of the road where we moved when I was 10 years old, and we quickly made friends with their daughter, who was in between my sister's and my age. They were one of the first hippy/granola/Bohemian families I ever met. Their living room had hardwood floors, open beam ceilings, comfy beat-up sofas, track lighting and miles of bookshelves. Mrs. Addams wore blue jeans and Birkenstocks and let her hair grow long and straight, when our and most everyone else's mom still got a shampoo-and-set weekly at the local beauty parlor. She grew sprouts in jars on the kitchen windowsill. There was an artists' studio over the garage, a pottery wheel in the utility room off the kitchen and a bathroom that converted to a darkroom, where Mrs. Addams taught me when I was 12 how to develop my own black-and-white film and make proofs and enlargements. Mr. Addams had made a fortune in the electronics industry in the mid-60's and retired at 45. They bought 350 acres of rugged Big Sur coastline property and spend several years building their house there. Their property was right off highway 1 in one of those parts of Big Sur where the hills rise almost straight up our of the ocean. Their house was less than 1/4 mile in from the ocean, and 1800 feet up. They were they only people I've ever known who actually needed 4-wheel drive vehicles as nothing else could make it up the steep, rutted and narrow dirt road.

My sister had made a few weekend trips to visit there while they were still building the house and returned with tales of wandering the hills to gather large stones for the fireplace and the inevitable run-ins with rattlesnakes. My junior year of high school my sister and I, the Addams girl, and two other high school friends in our group went with her parents to stay in the newly-almost-finished house during the Easter break. We hiked during the days, coming back in the afternoons exhausted, filthy and with matted hair, played Ouija board at night by candlelight (especially wonderfully scary during the lightning and thunderstorm), binged on handfuls of Mrs. A's homemade granola, and learned how to wash a sinkful of dishes using less than a quart of water. Vinca grew by the stones leading up to the front door, and in the morning when we woke up we'd look out over a sea of fog some 1000 feet below. I remember that week as being an oasis in an otherwise weird period of my life. One of the dishes that we helped Mrs. A prepare for dinner was that Tabouli Salad and making it always takes me back to that week and the way the sun would turn everything golden right before it set.

*Not their real name.