Saturday, March 29, 2008


Everyone thought it was spring today. As I roller-skied around the neighborhood, folks were bringing out greying Adirondack chairs, throwing grass seed on sad and sorry lawns, briskly raking and cleaning and preparing for the season still to come.

With their minds clearly reaching even farther afield, Annie and Kathryn went shopping downtown. A brought home filmy summer camis and several pairs of teeny, tiny white shorts. I gave tacit approval to the wardrobe additions once I saw them modeled, as the more important body parts will actually be covered, once spring temperatures arrive.

Hope springs eternal in the White House, too. As we hit 4000 US deaths this week, George W. opined that "the outcome of the war will merit the sacrifice". That's a standard justification in war, that the ends justify the means. Helps mothers and fathers at 2am when they lie awake in the dark, fearing their children died for no good reason.

Or maybe that's simply what Bush wants to believe so he won't feel guilt over sacrificing other people's children. After all, deciding to sacrifice young men and women is hard work. Cheney let us know that this week, how burdensome this whole war thing has been for Bush.
"Well, it obviously brings home, I think for a lot of people, the cost that's involved in the global war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. It places a special burden, obviously, on the families. We recognize, I think -- it's a reminder of the extent to which we're blessed with families who have sacrificed as they have. The President carries the biggest burden, obviously; he's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans."
Obviously. It's much harder for Bush, who goes home each evening to the White House, eats his catered meal, then is regaled with plans for his daughter's upcoming wedding, rather than the father of a fallen soldier, who will plan no wedding. Ever.

Cheney went on:
"But we are fortunate to have the group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us. You wish nobody ever lost their life, but unfortunately it's one of those things that go with living in the world we live in. Sometimes you have to commit military force, and when you do, there are casualties."
Good thing he emphasized the voluntary aspect of service. Takes away a bit of Bush's burden, since those soldiers had a choice about serving in the war. Well, except all those who signed on to the National Guard, not knowing they would be called to a war overseas. Nor those who have ended up being called to duty three times longer than they originally signed up for. Nor those who actually believed what their recruiters told them, that they'd never end up in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But for everyone else? Hey, Vice President Cheney wants you to know that it's really not Bush's fault that you were killed. You shouldn't have signed up to serve in the first place. You should have known that George Bush would declare war by lying, then keep lying so soldier would keep dying.

I'll move away from sarcasm and irony for a moment. Clearly, if you believe in war as a solution, then it has to be acceptable that people will die to solve seemingly intractable differences. Though a pacifist by nature, I'm not willing to completely discard war as a solution. Hitler wouldn't have left Europe alone through diplomacy.

But it should be the last choice, rather than the first. And it should be entered into honestly, with eyes wide open by all parties. 4000 plus soldiers deserved to make a this choice based on facts, not governmental fiction. They were denied that right. And they died.

Now that we've passed a milestone number, the war will recede back into low level media coverage. Covered or not, more US soldiers will die. Then there are the totally non-voluntary 82,000 to 90,000 Iraqi civilian deaths that have occurred since the war began, which have received little US coverage from day one. They will continue, too.

On the other side of the world, the rest of us will prepare for spring. Rake our gardens. Kick back in the evenings and watch a bit of fluff on the tube. Plan for summer fun, warm breezes whisking away any thoughts of far away deaths, voluntary or not, in Iraq.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Someone resurrect me, please

Today really started with yesterday, a day during which I was so sensitive that were a person to breathe on me, I might experience it as complete and utter rejection. Since such an occasion did happen, I did all my mandatory zen Yoda stuff that I do during such occasions, which occur at cyclically spaced intervals. I breathe, I remind myself that nothing has changed other than my hormones, I step back and notice: "Ah, look. How interesting that I am experiencing total desolation because someone breathed on me. Isn't it wonderful that emotions are mere fleeting thoughts floating across the windshield of my brain?"

Then I distracted myself by eating an entire bag of jelly beans. Hey, who needed them more at that particular moment, me or my children? The horrible feelings went away, as they always do. Funny how feelings are that way.

Thus restored for the rest of the day, and with a short night of sleep under my belt (teenagers), we move to this morning. That would be Easter Sunday morning (as opposed to Easter Tuesday, I guess.) We had two services this morning, so Carl and I were up early, playing shower tag-team. I hear his shower go off and I dive in. To a bracing cold shower. Now, I consider rising in the morning a tribulation to bear rather than a joy. The only things that make it palatable are oatmeal and a warm shower.

I was not pleased.

OK. I continue breathing. Hardly the end of the world. Besides, it's a lovely Easter morning. The sun is shining, glistening off the sweetly scented, um, snow. Trot downstairs to try to make my hair look presentable. Today actually started several days ago, when I got my hair cut in a new and gloriously different style than ever before.

The women around me seem to like it, having proclaimed it "cute". My husband? As usual, he probably couldn't win no matter what he said. I believe his words were something like, "Well, it looks better than it did before you got it cut. But not as good as it used to look." Me? I think I'm still shell-shocked from the notion of having to apply "product" on a regular basis to release my inner curliness.

But I digress. Back to Easter Sunday morning. I apply said product, toss my graying locks around, and run into the kitchen to wolf down my oatmeal. Open the frig to grab my ground flax to toss on said oatmeal (hey, I don't eat vegetables so I have to do something right in the dietary department). Then I hear a rolling sound.

Rolling sounds early in the morning are rarely a positive portent. I look up. I look down. I watch a bottle of wine make that slow-motion fall off of the top of the refrigerator (hence the initial rolling sound to the edge of it) and take a step back just in time to avoid being christened.

A lovely bottle of blush something or another, all over my kitchen floor. Ceramic tile makes an exceptionally fine bottle breaker, should you ever to need smash a bottle or glass of any kind.

What to do, what to do. We must leave in 5 minutes. There is no time for simultaneous eating and cleaning. So I shovel in the oatmeal, grab an old bath towel, corral the wandering wine to a small area of the kitchen floor. Swish the broom about a bit to get the worst of the glass into a small pile. Toss the broom on top of the whole mess to signal to the still-sleeping teens, "Do not step here. Broken glass. Consider cleaning it up."


We head to church. It occurs to me in the car that I did not let the dog out. She's still upstairs, sleeping with Annie. That's ok. Two teenagers can surely take care of a dog.

Life chaos suspends for 3 plus hours of worship, broken up by a brunch break. Lovely brass choir and timpani augmented the Senior Choir (so senior that we have a self-named soprano AARP row), Children's Choir and Adult Bell Choir for both services. I shifted between ringing and singing. What joy. :-)

Perhaps Gwen will blog about the service or the sermon or Easter or Good Friday. I had several lofty thoughts during each service, all of which are now lost in the ether. All that is left is the Schalk/Brokering "Thine The Amen", during the singing of which I alternately beatifically grinned and wept. After two such services I'm left with no theological or spiritual thoughts, save joy and exhaustion.

Because of said joy and exhaustion, I don't usually cook after church festival days. (Actually, I don't cook after church on any day, but that's another story.) We rarely do the big holiday meal, as it's just the four of us (family is all far away). Just as we've developed the Christmas Eve Chinese Dinner, our dining plans have also devolved into an Easter Chinese Lunch.

Very good. Very yummy. And I didn't lift a finger, other than to feed myself. Carl and I debriefed the services, Annie tried hard not to sing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah, Jonathan listened to music and played the curmudgeon.

During this sweet interlude, it occurred to me to ask if the children let the dog out. Nope. Nope. It is now 2:15pm. Maggie has been crossing her legs since 11:30p last night. This does not bode well for the cleanliness of our home. I spend the short ride home imagining the lengthy clean up that such a long crossing of dog legs could entail. Then I remember the rolling wine and feared a mixing of the christening events.

Jon hit the house first, and went looking for the little girl dog. Moments later, she dashed out the door, pupils dilated like a druggie. Not only was she crossing her legs for 15 hours, but she somehow locked herself into the Schafer Memorial Closet in Annie's room.

Those of you who are long time friends will well remember the story of Schafer locked in this closet during a thunderstorm and the pandemonium that ensued. Think small closet, what happens to the bowels of those who are terrified, a dog with the world's largest snout trying to dig his way out of said small, poop-filled closet and the resulting mess.

Perhaps because it was Easter, perhaps because the sun was shining or because some distant deity simply decided to take pity on us, Maggie's time in the closet was apparently not quite as traumatic. She clawed holes in the walls and door, but left no mark or bodily substance behind in her attempts to free herself.

We calmed the poor pup. I cleaned up the wine and broken glass. I put together Easter baskets for the still-clamoring 15 and 20 year olds, one of whom doesn't even celebrate Easter. I recorded this weighty description. And now I will repair to the den, where I will bury my head in the Sunday paper, possibly emit a small and polite snore, and mend my sanity.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Trifecta sprinkled with sarcasm

You'll be surprised to hear (not) that I was completely bowled over by Senator Barack Obama's speech on race and hope yesterday. I believe that it could be a pivotal moment in our history, when a person of courage spoke words that many of us (black and white) have said privately to an entire nation, and where a person of vision asked us to acknowledge our feelings and motivations and move beyond them.

A good politician would have worked to bury the Wright issue as quickly and quietly as possible. A good politician would have completely dumped Wright and not looked back. But a good person is able to see beyond black and white issues, inhabiting the gray area of not dumping those who have meaning in our lives, even when what they say hurts or offends us.

I am truly honored to be supporting Obama. No sarcasm intended here. :-)

Speaking of honor, isn't wonderful the way our President has honored the 5th anniversary of the War in Iraq by declaring it (once again) a victory? Not. In Fantasy Land, where George W. Bush lives, not only have we reigned victorious, but the world has become a safer place because of that victory. Mm hmm.

In addition, Bush claims that the costs of this war are being "exaggerated". I'm not clear why anyone would need to exaggerate the costs of this war. $504, 899,000,000. As of 2:44pm Central Standard Time. See? No exaggeration necessary.

Isn't it a bit difficult to remember that we are actually at war? Have you noticed the drastic reduction in network news coverage of same? It's not just your imagination. Only 3% of the media's coverage of news was related to the war in Iraq. If you'd like to sign an open letter protesting this paucity and asking for me, try here.

And speaking of coverage, recent news reports have ballyhooed a reduction in birth rates for teens. But don't mistake that for good use of coverage, er, condoms by those same teens. A quarter of teen girls in the US have an STD. That means, for those of us who are deficient in the fraction department, one girl out of the four currently planning a sleepover at your house this Friday night has one.

Of course, I'm sure it's not my daughter. Nor your daughter. But it has to be someone's daughter. A whole lot of someone's daughters. So, on the off chance that maybe your daughter might tell someone else's daughter to use condoms, consider mentioning it to yours. Might also want to mention that tin foil isn't a good condom substitute. Or that girls can get STDs from oral sex.

Or, here's a novel thought: if you're the father of a son, consider telling him that real men insist on protecting the women they love--or even like.


Monday, March 17, 2008


I love my daughter. And I enjoy listening to her practice her chosen instruments (trumpet and piano). But I do not find the practicing of said instruments to be conducive to writing.

This is because I am easily distracted. Except when I'm really engaged in something. Then I'm impossible to move off topic. Imagine the joy I must be to live with. :-)

And the joy of living is a bit slim around here lately. Not that things are dreadful or anything. But Carl has been off work for over a week now, with that nasty virus everyone has. It's hard for a person to work in radio when they can't talk. Anxiety continues to stalk the girl child. Man child is doing just fine, though, thank you very much.

I am grateful for such small favors these days. The extended days, with sunshine on occasion peaking through the bare branches until past 6:30 some evenings. A good night of light and medium conversation, complete with sliced cucumbers and apple pie ala mode. The blessedly simple addition of the new computer to our already-extant home network.

Mostly I'm grateful because spring is coming. It is coming, even though there is--even as I type--snow gently falling outside. The certainty that a moist loamy scent will be detectable when the thermometer creeps to 45 and then 50. The little spiky greens that are, even now, poking through the still chilled earth will come forth with some fresh spring color. And the sun will shine and shine, until we tire of it and wish for a rainy day cloudburst.

Those certainties, that's what lures me to and through the end of winter. And, though Easter is certainly too early this year, it coincides quite nicely with my current longing for renewal and resurrection. Holy Week is now, though spring often feels like each successive week is holy, as I watch buds and leaves and flowers and children burst from their hiding places, having grown and changed, yet still essentially the same.

Even as I bemoan its foot-dragging, I love how spring doesn't happen all at once. Even when the weather doesn't cooperate, even if we have a Midwest spring that moves from 0 to 100mph, skipping the 50 and 60 degree temps entirely and moving into the 70s with abandon, spring still emulates fog, moving on little cat feet.

Blink your eyes and you'll miss each tiny step. Foolishly wish yourself straight into spring proper and you'll miss all of the gray-skied slow beauty of this season, its slow constancy that reassures as it progresses. It will come. It may be fleeting, it may pass you by in the blink of an eye, an overnight of rain and a sudden swath of green grass. But it will come.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday's Feast - 7 March 2008


If you could be any current celebrity for one whole week, who would you want to be?

Not a one. The whole concept of celebrity repulses me. People who are famous for being famous, valued for being known by vast quantities of people rather than for who they are, or even what they do? I am annoyed enough by a society that values only what we do (or don't do) for a living, let alone the vapidity of our celebrity-struck world.

I know, I know: Liz, tell us what you REALLY think.


On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you enjoy talking on the phone?

7.5. I like talking to people whom I know well on the phone. Making the phone call? That would be a 1.25. I'm absolutely terrible at calling others, even those I love dearly. The only people I am able to call without angst are my parents.


Name a charitable organization to which you have donated (or would like to).

Heifer Project. Fabulously wonderful organization that donates animals to poor families around the world, aiding them in achieving sustainable independent livelihoods.

Main Course

What is a food you like so much you could eat it every single day for a month?

Mashed potatoes. Or popcorn. Both with tons of butter. I'm salivating, as I forgot to eat lunch today. And, I assure you, *that* doesn't happen very often.


Have you or anyone in your family had the flu this year?

Nope. Wish Annie had. At least it would have run its course by this time and she'd be healthy again. Instead, we've had the World's Longest-Lived Virus invading our household for weeks, having run through both Jon and Annie. Nothing like a little mucus production to make your life interesting.

On that tasteful note . . . .


Wednesday, March 05, 2008


How many blogs have I posted out here that have come to fruition (or would that be "have been produced through vegetation?") while making a stew? It does seem that preparing stews somehow provides me with enough time to cogitate up something to share.

There's danger in my wandering down pathways of interest before I am before a keyboard. I tend to leave my best writing amongst the potato peelings. Even if I can remember what I've been thinking, by the time I get back to the computer, the spiciness seems to have been left in the Dutch Oven to simmer, leaving me with a bland, half-concoction to toss up here.

So I often try to stop my brain from writing while I'm slicing and dicing. There's definitely a difference between my thinking mode and my composing mode. But it's hard to stop. And sometimes, it's just too late. I've moved to composition mode and the words are just going to come out and I ought to move fast and find a bucket because it's all going to splat out, whether I get it written down (typed in) or not.

And so it happened this afternoon. I was handling a knife, and thinking about the precision with which Hillary Clinton was using her words in the past few weeks. And I was angry. The words came tumbling out. I will attempt to replicate them, below. But know that they were much better over the kitchen sink.

I have a number of friends who are thrilled beyond words that they may soon elect a woman President. While I will surely vote for Clinton should she beat Obama, I will do it with no love lost. I had this naive idea that when I, at long last, was in a position to elect a female as President, it would be someone, um, better. Better than politics. Better than negative campaigning. Better than all's fair in love and war.

But Hillary Clinton is not better. Exhibit A: “I think you’ll be able to imagine many things Senator McCain will be able to say — he’s never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”

I think I'm supposed to view this is as savvy politicking. A woman triumphing in a traditional male arena. Showcasing her strengths compared to his supposed weaknesses. I don't.

I view it as a person lowering herself to demeaning tactics to win at all costs.
Apparently, winning is the most important value for Senator Clinton. It's more important to put down her immediate opponent, and make it appear as though she values conservative Republican Senator McCain's experience over Senator Obama's Democratic values.

What is she thinking? What is her staff thinking? The personal attacks that these candidates have exchanged is bad enough. But to then veer into positive comparisons of a conservative Republican candidate over a candidate from her own party whose stances are, generally speaking, virtually the same as her own? Just a bit of cutting off her nose to spite her face, don't you think?

Clinton is proving herself a master. She's managed to take a huge strength--being an intelligent and charismatic communicator--and turn it into a negative for Obama. Good thing none of Bill Clinton's Democratic primary opponents didn't choose to do the same. We'd have missed out on 8 years of prosperity and Democratic leadership.

I'm hoping that, in the coming weeks, Clinton will have gained some experience herself. That she'll come to realize that attacking her colleague and possible running mate rather than the Republican nominee is foolish and short-sighted. Unless she apologizes for doing so (and how likely is that, given her complete inability to admit she was wrong for supporting the Iraq war?) my support will be tepid at best.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Something to say

I'm still operating in frazzled mode. But you needn't miss me. Go read Gwen's blog instead. She's a far better writer than I, and just posted on a topic near and dear to me.

I'll be back tomorrow, if I manage to put the newest computer together, rework our network, and get us back up and running without blowing anything up. :-)