Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ellen, Teddy, and Me

We've been having rain the last two days, the type of slow, soaking fall that usually comes after Labor Day, the unmistakeable signal that the weather has turned over.
I turned on the tube to check the weather yesterday morning. Instead of psychedelic radar returns, pictures of Senator Ted Kennedy, (D-MA) spilled across the screen. The reporters spoke of his legacy. That meant only one thing confirmed by the recap at the bottom of the hour: the stalemate between him and the brain cancer he'd lived with for fifteen months had been broken, and he had passed on shortly before midnight Tuesday. The list of legislation making life better for the compromised and marginalized ran fifty pages; the only one missing was universal health care.
Oddly, almost a year ago on another day of protracted rain, and also of brain cancer, Ellen Weissbrot, a name everyone should know, passed into the next world. Ellen who? Well, she would have modestly protested over the attention (if by some odd chance you are reading over my shoulder, sweetie, you are worthy of it, so don't argue with me, ok?) I had the privilege of volunteering with her for an environmental group. While I didn't know her well, I feel the better person for having witnessed her being the change the world needed in action.
Ellen sought no fame or glory; she did what she did as the standup woman that she was. She worked with at-risk kids in a conservative enclave of the Chicago suburbs, supporting them and their parents as they made adjustments to their new homes. Ellen developed and implemented a lot of creative programs to teach children about the planet and its care and feeding. All this while raising three sons with her husband John.
I wish I could remember how the quote from another Kennedy went, about some people see things and ask why, I see things and ask why not? Both Ellen and Teddy lived in the realm of the why-not, doing what they both could to bring about a peaceful, multicultural, green society. My prayer is that I do something today to honor both of them. Won't you join me?

Monday, August 24, 2009


Ever have one of those weeks where it feels as if no matter how careful you try to be with your words, you still find yourself having to extract toes from teeth? I'm having one of them.
First of all, I apologize to Perez Hilton, whose names were transposed in my last posting about his guilty pleasure book, Red Carpet Suicide. Sorry about that.
I apologized this morning to the gang at Palin's Travels--I had not taken the time to research a sensitive subject before shooting off my cyber face about it.
Over the weekend, I sent an email with an apology to a friend pertaining to a very snarky e-tome I'd sent earlier.
And now, dear ones, I am so sorry about this, but I am NOT apologizing any more.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Parade Continues

I was at a resale shop on Monday when curiosity knocked me off my moral high horse. I walked out with Red Carpet Suicide, Hilton Perez's guide to what it takes to be a celebrity. Using research as a justification (yeah, right, even if I am really working on a novel about a band) as well as that the money was going to a good cause (helping people in marginalized positions develop job skills), I purchased it.
Very interesting, indeed. Heaven help me, I could not put this book down. Say what you will about the ethics involved, but Mr. Perez is a good writer. I don't like to admit it, but I enjoyed the book. Anyone interested in the entertainment industry needs to read it.
Still, despite having laughed out loud more than once, a little sad tinge crept in. Some of it was for the celebrities who feel that they have to crucify any sense of self respect or esteem to stay in the spotlight; the leaks and tossed tidbits of this escapade and that dysfunction keep them in the spotlight. Most of it was for humanity in general and our collective inability to grow up about others' issues.
Back in the Middle Ages, a common form of entertainment at court events was the dwarf (old fashioned and I apologize for using it) parade. Little people and differently abled people would march around the room for the amusement of the so-called nobles.
Except for much better clothing, is there really any difference between then and now?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Questions for a New Economy

Could we finally be on the other side of this recession? Like the first blades of grass bravely peeking through the last vestages of snow, some indicators say yes.
The lingering questions that I have are...
1. How did we the people get sucker-punched into an economic system based on credit and interest rather than on the reality of money? Convenience, yes, and that there are times when it's good to have when you just don't have the cash. But pay it back promptly.
2. Saving may involve a delay of gratification, but not necessarily deprivation. It just means that you wait until the pair of jeans or the freezer or the three-handled family credenza goes on sale.
3. How in the name of humanity did we start thinking we needed labels over quality? Over the winter, I saw an interview with the author of a book on finances for young women just getting out of college. "Now, why get the $200 pair of jeans when the $100 pair will do as well?" she asked for the sake of argument. Birkenstock babe that I am, I thought my head would explode. I personally would like to know what the heck kind of job one could get to afford those.
4. Why aren't schools teaching consumer education? Why aren't parents setting a sane example?
5. What about a return to barter? Some communities have set up time banks where participants swap skills for skills ("Here, Evelyn, I'll do the catering for your party if you pet sit for me on the 15th.")
6. How about tax credits for companies keeping jobs here rather than shipping them to China?
7. What if we here in the US remembered that by the standards of many countries we're already rich?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The House Smells Good Right Now

I returned to making soup earlier this year. I just can't bring myself to spend upwards of $3 on a can of the natural/organic ones, and the commonplace ones are chock-full of ingriedients wholesome only to relatives of the chemical company founders.
We were not designed to ingest much of what the FDA deems edible. We were designed to run on what I have in the pot: celery, onion, garlic, carrot, and the chicken that came off the bones. Pepper, a bit of salt, bay leaves, thyme, and a stiff shot of cider vinegar to pull out the minerals are all the seasonings that go in. No MSG (you do not want to know), no colorings (puffy face), no artificial flavors or preservatives. Just simple, honest, and practically free ingredients.
After our morning run to the park, I put all of the above into the pot, covered it with filtered water, and let it go. I'll be taking off the lid and letting it cook down soon. There's enough in there for a batch of minestrone and a bowl of chilled curried cauliflower soup.
The possibilities with broth, as Red Green once said, are limited only by your imagination and the laws in your area.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Good Summer

The geese woke me with their bittersweet song yesterday morning. You know, the one that reminds you that while there's still some good weather and growing days left, the deadline of shortening days and cooler temperatures loom large.
It's been a good summer. Last year's high 80's and perpetual humidity hung too heavily in the air for me. This year has been freaky cool with daytime highs some ten degrees below all that.
The Spouse was swamped with several projects. The busyness subsided to a pleasant buzz this year, with several day hikes and picnics. We've had our first cup of coffee in our lawn chairs several mornings, watching Orion as he runs about the yard on search and destroy missions against rodents.
Orion's allergies have calmed under the soothing of an herbal remedy and more frequent baths. He deals with the dousings of the hose in stride, dries himself on the sofa and settles in for a nap in his nice clean coat.
The garden did better than what I'd hoped. I harvested another zucchini, and feel fortunate to have done so. We wait for the tomatoes.
We wait in the cradle of the moment, aware of its impermanence, and knowing the next has potential to be even better.