Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Finally Flew from Montgomery

Nerve-wracking and awesome.  Thanks to Fred for inviting me on stage at his solo gig...quite a memory for us.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Nativity and Sandy Hook

Nativity of Christ
I have been struggling to come to grips with, much less write about, the Sandy Hook school tragedy. Tears stand at the ready at a mere mention of small children, and I send my own middle-schooler off with a twinge of trepidation.  He gets more hugging at the door, more texts after school, asking him to come home sooner, rather than later.

To the left is our family nativity display, which we have had for many years. I started collecting the pieces when my first two sons, now in their twenties, were small, and we had very little extra money. Each year I looked forward to the following Christmas, when I could add animals, or the wise men, or a few trees. But that first year it started with just Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In the early years the Holy Family looked like us; just a roof over their heads, and  the three of them only -- mother, father, and child.

Through the years these porcelain figurines in their manger have weathered life with us at Christmas time.  They have hosted plastic army men when the boys were little; they have hidden crayons, or matchbox cars, or sticks of gum, standing frozen in their tableau. The boys, no matter where they are in their lives and in the world, gather in December to unwrap the figurines, placing them wherever they'd like. (When my youngest son was little, he proudly showed my that Baby Jesus could balance on the manger's roof.) We have added to the scene over the years, and their manger received an upgrade five or so years ago, so they are like us -- their world has gotten more crowded, busier, more full of stuff.  Each year after Christmas they are wrapped in newspaper -- sometimes the sports pages, sometimes the Metro section, and I feel that they are absorbing the sadnesses and tribulations of the year past, as they are carefully put away and stored back in the basement. If we had a fire, that basket would be my one thing to save.

This year, our hearts were heavy as we put the beloved figurines in their places. I started fighting back tears as I looked to my downcast husband to say a prayer with all of us there -- I knew the prayer would be heartbreaking. I looked at the little baby in his stone manger, so innocent, still far away from the violent ending he would face.  Ending is the wrong word, though; fulfillment is a better one.  He was going home, and he always knew it. His earthly life was just temporary, and those left mourning would be reunited with him in no time at all, when compared with eternity.

It would seem that the harder things get in life, the more irrelevant, even silly, a few pieces of mass-produced porcelain would be.  How can they help?  They don't reflect the reality of our stressful, busy lives, there in their old-fashioned manger.  And yet I know God is life's reality because the Nativity scene's meaning keeps increasing, keeps drawing us in, the sadder and harder things get.  Something in our souls is answering a call when we move closer -- our Home is not here.  We are passing by, raising children, helping others, looking for meaning.  And then we fly away, alone, for the home that has many open doors and no end to joy. 

You are home, little ones and brave adults. And the sadness of your loved ones is a precursor to the great joy of a coming reunion -- a reunion that never ends.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elf on a Shelf

This is my son James' old elf-on-a-shelf, named Plaxo. One morning when James was eight years old Plaxo appeared at his bedside, the result of James' fervent prayers for an elf of his own. All his friends had an elf, James fretted over cereal and juice, before Plaxo came. Wasn't he good enough to be wanted by an elf , too? Before I knew it I was at the mall, desperately grabbing one of the last two elves on the shelf in the Hallmark store. (Superior marketing, elf people!)

My husband and I were initially determined not to participate in the elf-on-a-shelf fad. It was another duty at Christmas, another piece of commercial pageantry that, while magical for the kids, was work for mom and dad (mom).  The elf moves around the house when the child is not looking, and depending on the type of family he lands in, (read: how creative, rich or blessed with free time that family is) sometimes brings small treats, candy, or presents, even.  The child  must never touch him, though, or the magic is broken - James was afraid Plaxo would explode if touched. Our elf did not bring treats or gifts. He wrote notes.

Plaxo moved in, and was immediately the source of great fun. When James woke up in the morning, he would scurry to find out where Plaxo had hidden the night before. In the Christmas tree?  In a closet?  In the mailbox? Tucked under Plaxo's arm would be a scrolled up note, in which he described the elf-land that he came from.  He also wanted to know things about James: did he like school? Who was his favorite friend? What were his big brothers like? Where did he go every day? ("School, silly!" James wrote back gleefully, placing the note near Plaxo, careful not to touch him.)

At night, before I went to bed, I would write Plaxo's notes.  I used a swirly handwriting, and "Plaxo" had a very fancy signature. I must have written eighty or so notes, in the next few years. He also had his own lexicon: he called pets "beasts," he called hockey "stick games" he called candy "swizzles." He loved everything about James, and he told him so.  He watched him sleep, and saw what a kind boy he was. Plaxo went to Maryland one year with our family for Christmas, packed into a shoebox James had covered with sparkles and glitter.  His blanket was a washcloth, his pillow a cotton ball.

One year, James didn't go look for Plaxo in December.  I asked about him, feeling tentative, and sad.  After several years of friendship and mutual admiration, James was on to Plaxo. He smiled at me. "You are Plaxo, right?" he said. I smiled back, nodding. "I loved our letters," I sighed. James laughed. "I told you so many things you already knew!" Not at all, I thought.

I love Plaxo. I still take him out every year, and he has a place of honor this year on the mantel. He is so much more than a suit of red felt and a smiling face of molded pastic. He allowed me to experience what it was like not to be just that wonderful kid's mother -- but also, his friend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Seriously Siri, Lay Off

 I never thought I would say this, but I have lost my husband Fred to another woman.  Her name is Siri. She lives inside my husband's phone, and she is always helpful and never crabby.  Her cousin, Lady GPS, lives in my husband's car, and she helps him a lot more than I do, many days.  He is buffetted by two smooth, sexy and VERY knowledgeable female voices all day long.  I wonder what my voice sounds like as I screech, "I don't know what we're having for dinner!  Am I the only one who knows how to put a pot on the stove?" No wonder he turns to the ever-instructive Siri ("Siri, what is the number for Chinese take-out near me?") I feel like I have to up my game!

My husband held on to his old Blackberry for a long time.  The silver finish had peeled off, and it's poor metal body was scraped up, banged up, and washed up.  It was also the smaller-size Blackberry, so we all felt for him as he held the tiny thing to his head, making business deals, calling friends and family, or of course, ordering take-out.  When he ordered his new Iphone 5 (when he goes, he goes big), there was great rejoicing throughout our 13 year old checked the mail breathlessly each day, eager for his dad to become less Flintstone, more Jetson.

Well, be careful what you wish for. My man is an app-ed up, video-making, Siri-talking, Pandora-listening dude, and I am strugging for some Facetime (literally...when is he going to install that?  Can it be that he doesn't want to see my face in close-up, makeup-free, unfocused glory?) The old phone lies next to the bed with nary a glance or a touch from it's erstwhile owner. Meanwhile, Fred walks around the house with his earphones in - occaisionally he will wordlessly give me one to put in my ear; it's like I'm being invited into his secret universe - and his Iphone in his pocket, never too far from him. I tried to take it from him to see his camera roll, and he actually resisted, pulling it away from me!  The internet says it is never a good thing when you can't check out your beloved's phone, but I'm only jealous of two women: Siri and Lady GPS.  And if they learn to make tiramisu or drive kids to hockey...I could be in trouble.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Hope Senator Scott Brown Can't Smell Very Well

Today I was very glad to have the opportunity to meet Scott Brown, Massachusetts Senate candidate, at Grumpy Doyle's in Reading.  I was not so glad that I had just come from the barn where I keep my horse, and could have looked and smelled a whole lot better.

Have you ever shaken someone's hand without really shaking it?  I offered my hand to the Senator then pulled it away before he had a chance to touch it, and mumbled, "Horse...barn...messy."  (I was a little kerfluffled at meeting him, and it showed.  I am a huge supporter.)  He nicely offered me a seat next to him and made me feel at ease, asking me what type of horse I had. "Hunter?  Jumper?" he asked, waving and smiling at people as they passed by while trying to eat a quick bite of lunch.  My answer?  "Normal," I said.  Normal?  My horse is normal?  No, idiot, he's a hackney/draft!  You know this!

I was very thrilled to meet the Senator, and have been proud to hold signs for him, make calls for him, and write about him as a candidate, both during this campaign and his last campaign, a special election to fill Ted Kennedy's seat.  This state needs two-party representation so badly, and Brown has done a great job for us in D.C.  He has not voted the way I would have liked every time. But we need someone of his character and independence watching out for us, and his opponent, while I'm sure very bright, is not worthy of a job in the United States Senate.  She has not answered enough questions, and has Harvard elitism etched into her persona.

My friend Julie was pretty insightful about my meeting the Scott Brown.  "You smell," she said.  I know, I know.  But I am still a citizen who needs a Washington watchdog -- smelly or not.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Inspiring Nurses Battle Sandy's Wrath

  As if we didn't love and respect nurses aleady - they wear cool scrubs, they secretly run the hospital/clinic/doctor's office, and they really do love to make you feel better - now, there's this: nurses carrying new babies down flights of stairs, manually doing the job their baby respirators normally do.

Thank you nurses, doctors, firemen, and all other responders.  Most of us can only admire (or blog about) what you are ready to do every day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurrican Sandy and Other, More Political Thoughts

The hurricane has descended upon us here in the Boston area, or at least the beginnings of the hurricane.  I had to rush to the store this morning, and it was packed. I was a little embarrassed; most shoppers were getting those few items they had forgotten during their storm preparations - batteries, candles, water or packaged dry goods, while I was pushing a heavily loaded cart!  It was my weekly shoppng time - which just happened to coincide with a major hurricane.  As I heaved a heavy bag of dry dog food into my cart, a lady stepped by me carrying a plastic arm basket containing candles, chocolates, and soup.  Somehow, I think her day is going to be much easier than mine.

I have refrained from any political blogging for the last few months, and believe me, it's been killing me.  My nails are bitten to the quick, and I have a disturbing tic under one eye.  I have my reasons, though, which I can write more about later. I will say that on Saturday I was holding a sign downtown for my favorite senatorial candidate (Scott Brown), and had a blast doing it.  You should try sign-holding if you ever get the chance, for a few reasons.  1) It reminds you to vote.  2) The conversation, while extremely focused, ("he's got to win or I'll die" type of comments abound) is also stimulating, eductional and funny.  3) You get a unique perspective on your town.   This last reason was especially interesting, living here in liberal Massachusetts.  While we got a lot of beeps (to which all fifteen or so of us, gathered on one corner downtown, raised our signs in unison and shouted a very partisan "Yoo-hoo!") we got a lot of middle fingers raised our way, too! This was hysterical, to me.  Grown men and women resorting to the middle finger to voice displeasure and disagreement!  I have to say that the only thing a raised middle finger gets you, when pointed at a bevy of sign-holders, is their immediate convulsive laughter.  (There is such comfort in the group dynamic.)  I immediately signed up for four more shifts with my old and new sign-holding friends...I'm afraid I am addicted.  Plus, they give you coffee and donuts.

So, I will ride the storm out here, in the comforts of my home, and enjoy my family, who all have the day off too.  I have in my thoughts today the homeless and poor, who must always have the weather, which we can so easily forget, in the forefront of their minds.  Stay safe and don't forget to vote on November...6th!  That's it, the 6th.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

5 Hour Energy has been so long since I've blogged!!  Soooo rusty; my fingers are creaking, I can't remember how to upload a photo, my password had to be requested because I couldn't remember it...jeepers.
Anyhoo, it's fall, and election season, and I'm feelin' fine.  I just had a quick trip down to Maryland, and experienced something I have never really dealt with before...falling asleep at the wheel.  Almost, that is.  Pretty scary stuff!  Scary because obviously people who do fall asleep don't mean to.  So, this is kind of a PSA for not driving sleepy. Because sleepy kills.
It went like this: I started out from Massachusetts, my loyal terrier Neeley by my side, curled up in his special car blanket, and I was doing well.  Radio on, coffee in it's holder, directions in my brain.  But, I had stayed up until 2 AM the night before, and have been kind of sleep-deprived in general, kind of a cumulative thing.  So, in the cocoon of my car, relaxed and alone, I must have relaxed a lot, because on route 84, which runs through Connecticut, I found myself not remembering the last few minutes of roadway.  You know what I mean?  I was like, wow, I'm driving!  Weird!
So, I began talking to Neeley, and snapping my fingers.  This sort of scared me; how long could I go on snapping and chatting to Neeley? (Who bless his heart, sat up and listened courteously for awhile.)  Then I began thinking, this snapping stuff is not good.  I can't be doing well if I have to snap to stay awake.  So, I called my husband.  "Talk to me," I said, "I'm sleepy."  This prompted an immediate directive from hubby: get off the road!  (He also wanted to know if we had jelly; this seemed as important as my sleepiness, come to think of it.)
So, I pulled off the road, to a rest area in Connecticut.  Now what?  I was still exhausted, yawning until tears sprang to my eys, and it was only 7:30 am!  Could I just sleep at one of the Burger King tables?  (Surely they could just sleep - I mean sweep - around me.)  But then what about Neeley, who I knew was up and looking through the windshield, waiting anxiously for my return.  Would he just self-combust in a puff of smoke in the car, from pure neediness?
So, I went to the little store inside the rest area, and got a banana. (??)  As I was checking out, I saw a rack of 5 Hour Energy bottles.  They look harmless; they're tiny!    "Hey," I said to the uninterested clerk, "do these work?"  He nodded.  That nod was enough for me. I bought it, and a large coconut Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and went back to the car.
OK, here goes, I said to Neeley, who was limp with relief from my simply being back in the car.  I drank half the tiny bottle (it tastes horrible; it's like herbs mushed up with old juice and rotten limes).  Then I waited, like Alice in Wonderland holding the "Drink Me" bottle.  Sure enough, a few minutes later I felt sharper; not necessarily hyper, but just more in-tune.  Like I could drive to Maryland and also tell people their fortunes.  I started the car.  All-righty!
The problem was: Neeley licked a good amount off the lid, and he's a small dog, so...let's just say Neeley was super-focused for the next seven hours, barking at anything that hit the windshield (hint - it was raining; hard.)  So, I arrived at my parents' doorstep intact, but nerves jangled to bits.  We had to peel Neeley out of a tree before I stepped inside.
Thank you, 5 Hour Energy!  And Neeley, it's time to come down, now.  We've been home for days.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nello zips right on by

This is a post about my horse Nello, who has been dealing with a lot in the last few months.  First, an abcess in his hoof, which is basically an infection that has to "blow;" meaning it has to escape from the hoof by leaking out. Until it does blow, you must coax the infection out by soaking the hoof and packing it with poultice, and it's pretty painful for the horse.  After it blows it's painful, too, as it takes awhile to get the foot back into shape. Nello was a patient fellow, even sticking his foot in the soaking tub with a huge plop, splashing water everywhere, without being asked - as long as there were treats and hugs from passing humans.  He is a loveable guy who would climb into your lap if he could.

After that, poor Nello collicked, which means he had a bellyache.  The only problem: horses don't throw up, so a collic can be very dangerous.  And Nello had the worst kind of collic, an impaction collic, which means a vet was need to - er - facilitate things and get him going to the bathroom producing manure again.

Then, after a month in a paddock due to collic and foot, he was released back into his herd, only to have lost his place in the pecking order.  A new young gelding who had been his friend before he left the herd had a change of heart about him, and decided to charge and bite him when he was least able to respond, when he was grazing or being brought in or drinking water. (The foot is better, and he is able to be turned out into the field, but he at times will favor it and it is harder to get away from the young 'uns.)

So, now he is yet another herd, in another field, trying to get along with these horses.  The first day, when I took this short iphone video, he was busy keeping these new geldings in his rearview mirror, and didn't have time to chat.  I am the hopeless, helpless mommy, cheering him on and hating to see him go through all this, here in the waning days of summer.  But with animals you limit the over-protective love and let instinct take over; he is a horse, and he will figure it out on instinct.  My job is to give him a safe environment to do that in.

If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would hang around a horse barn cheerfully discussing treatments for collic and abcess, I would have laughed.  Now I find them fascinating!  Note: I know he looks Darth Vader-ish in his fly mask, but there is a handsome devil underneath!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Niagra Falls

Our recent trip to Niagra Falls was amazing.  My husband planned out a 5-day excursion to celebrate a big birthday with me, and off we went to do as we pleased for a while, staying at inns and eating lunch at beautiful places and watching the scenery go by. The freedom to do that was amazing and much appreciated, as hard as we all work these days.  (Youngest son was at a hockey camp that he loves, so the trip was guilt-free, as well.)

I have wanted to see Niagra Falls for a few years now.  I love the Marilyn Monroe film "Niagra," and I saw a television special about people who have tried to "conquer the Falls" that was really interesting.  While I thought that the would-be conquerers were pretty stupid, what I did appreciate was the Falls themselves; so powerful, so wild, so...unstoppable.  Nature at it's beautiful best.

Of course long ago, humans came around, saw the Falls, and thought, hey, we could build towns here and make some money offa this!  So, on both the Canadian and American sides of Niagra Falls, commercialism was born.  Stairs and concrete scenic vistas and boat docks were built, to bring people as close a possible to the magic.  My favorite thing about the experience was a trip aboard the "Maid of the Mist," where you don a rain slicker, climb on a boat, and get as close to the Falls as is humanly possible.  At one exciting point in the ride, when the captain has brought you almost under the Falls, all you hear is a roaring and thundering of water, all you see is falling water and mist and spray, and you can feel the Falls in your own heartbeat, like when the bass of a good sound system is really cranked up. 

My mother-in-law said to me, "I remember thinking, even now that I'm back home, the Falls is still there, still falling.  Never stopping."  Now that I've been there, I know what she means.  it's reassuring.  A beautiful destination (we stayed on the Canadian side, which I recommend), a great trip.  I won't ever forget it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tall Ships Field Trip

The tall ships came to Boston Harbor over the 4th of July, so yesterday we went down to see them, taking our 13 year old James, too.  Let me say right now that there is nothing that a 13 year old boy would rather do than go see the tall ships with his parents. It's like a field trip - but with your parents.  Standing for hugging photos, learning interesting facts about merchant marines from Ecuador, staring up at the masts until your eyes hurt; it's all part of the rich pageantry of a family outing.

The tall ships were amazing.  I saw them in Baltimore in 1976, which prompted me to say to my dad, "What's the job that gets you on one of those ships?"  He answered, "Merchant Marine."  I said, "Then that is what I'm doing for a career."  And for two or three years, I meant it.  In fact, whenever I got in trouble, I'd think, "You'll miss me when I'm a merchant marine, folks.  You'll wish you hadn't been so tough about my sneaking a peek at "Love American Style" while you were at your bridge party, when I'm in Asia or Europe on one of the tall ships."

My dream career as a merchant marine had displaced my former dream of dolphin trainer, where the thought was, "OK folks, you'll miss me when I'm in a lagoon in Florida, putting sonar tracking devices on dolphins (I read a lot about dolphins back then).  Was flushing my sea monkeys down the toilet so bad, worthy of grounding, people?  They were practically invisible, and definitely did not wear crowns."

So, no one was surprised when I ended up in New Mexico for college, and Boston for my life.  The best part?  A great family - both the family I grew up with, and the family I made - to keep me safe and happy while I live it.

Next week, Niagra Falls with my sweetie...I'll be reporting from the edge.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Vacation Looms

Well, my 7th grade son has two more days of school left until summer vacation (or 10.5 hours, as he will quickly point out), and I am looking forward to having him home.  The schedule relaxes, the weather turns hot and humid - hopefully - and lots of things on our family ferris wheel of obligations get put on pause. 

It's kind of bittersweet for me this summer, because I know this landscape; I have been here before, with my older sons.  The other night I called my son home (on cell phone here in the future, rather than by voice or wall phone) and soon I saw him rounding the corner on his bike, a bike that is now too small for his wildly growing limbs - with his baseball bat balanced across his handlebars, his baseball glove tucked under one arm, his attention wandering from yard to yard as he passed by.  Before my son, enjoying this slow ramble home, was lost behind a tree, I took a mental picture of him now.  Wild young, and perfect...and to me, he always will be.

Soon, he will change, and that's the way it should be, I know.  I'll turn around and he'll be driving, and out with friends all the time, and not here so much.  So this summer, I will be waiting for any time he has just to "hang," and I'll focus on not focusing on things, and just let the summer roll out like a carpet of time that I can only use once, and then must roll back up and store away in my memory, just an image of the real thing that I'll wish I could re-claim.

Thirteen is a great age; before the pressure and awarenesses of adulthood, and after the restrictions of being younger than thirteen.  You can ride your old bike around the neighborhood at dusk, thinking about stuff, or meet the guys at the field for some batting at the cages.

Let the summer rip, honey.  I'll be home waiting, at my loom of being your mom, making us a carpet for later.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bragging Rights...this is my dad

I am very proud of my dad, who has worked tirelessly for many, many years to serve the poorest of the poor throughout the world, and give them a voice at the upper levels of government.  Enjoying a distinguished career in leadership roles directing federal and then international aid, and also serving as a Deputy Secretary of State under George Schultz, he was head of the U.S. State Dept.'s Refugee Affairs, and then Director-General of IOM for 10 years, where he lived in Geneva with my mother.  He still works tirelessly on multiple causes, all to benefit others.  The best part?  He's always been THE BEST DAD EVER.  Here are a few links:
Jim Purcell's Bio
Jim Purcell's Letter to Washington Post

Love you, Dad! :-)

Selfless Swimming to the Object of our Affection

    It is interesting the way in which water plays a huge role in Christianity.  We are baptised with water, water and blood came out of Jesus' side when he was pierced after death on the cross, some of the Apostles were fisherman, Jesus turned water into wine...the list goes on and on.  Today, I was realizing the ways in which water has played a role in my own life, and I vividly remembered an especially meaningful personal example.

This is a story about tubing, and rescue, and faith.  Several years back, my husband, my youngest son who was about six, and I were visiting some close friends at their summer home on New Hampshire's Lake Winnapasaukee, and our friends suggested a ride in their boat, and some tubing (pulling a large inflatable tube at high speeds behind the boat, with the tuber (victim) riding on top of the tube.)  We three readily agreed, and off we went, four adults, four kids, and one giant honker of a tube.  As we headed out towards the middle of the lake, I was comforted by one of the children's words - "my Gigi (grandmother) loves tubing!"

Now, I'm not sure what I did to our friend Jeff, but it must have been bad.  Because when I clambered atop the tube, after all the kids had made it look easy, list of hand signals reeling throug my brain (thumbs-up, go faster, thumbs-down, slower, hand across neck - stop), Jeff had a grin on his face and apparently no good in his heart.  He started me out slowly enough (just getting me into a false state of relaxation), but then as we circled, tighter and tighter, I started hitting waves.  At first they were fun "bouncy" waves that frankly made me look cool to my son and husband, and made me feel very good about myself in general; but soon the waves Jeff was creating was so fast and high that I began to worry.  Releasing one hand from it's death-grip on the tube handle, I grinned falsely (everything is fine!!  maybe a little slower just to re-position my bathing a quick THUMBS DOWN!  See my hand, Jeff?  My thumb is definitely DOWN!!))  Jeff smiled.  I didn't like his smile at all from the boat.  He gunned the boat's motor, and suddenly I was careening all over the tube, hands weakening, tube raising farther and farther up off the water with every crash into a wave.  (If you've seen the movie The Perfect Storm and it's awesome visual effects, you'll know what I mean; I was Mark Wahlberg on the bow of the ship as they crashed into wave after wave.  He drowned, eventually.)  Suddenly my hand gave, and I had to let go.  I was then sailing in mid-air, off the safety of the tube and into the lake.

When your head hits the water at that speed, it feels like it's hitting concrete, and for a moment, underwater, I was stunned.  Then, as I popped to the surface, anxious to give the thumbs-up so that my son wouldn't worry, I saw a flash of yellow in the water.  It was my little boy's life preserver bobbing in the distance; he had jumped into the water to save me - even though he was a very unsure swimmer, and the lake must have looked very big to him. He dog-paddled towards me, craning his neck to keep his head up, and spitting out water.  I swam towards him quickly, moved by his love and the enormity of his selflessness in jumping in.  And he must have had so much selfless love in his heart to forget his own safety, to reach out for his mom, whom he thought was in danger.

This morning in the 21st chapter of Acts, I was reading about Jesus revealing himself to the disciples after his physical death on the cross.  The disciples were fishing in the sea of Tiberias, and Jesus, whom they were not yet recongnising as His risen Self, was awaiting them on the shore. Verses 7-8 read: When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea."  He could not wait for the boat to get to shore, his love was so great.

James, I am still amazed at your gesture.  And Jeff, I'll get can move to India, but some day, I'll get you...

Peace be with anyone who reads this, and have an amazing week!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Identifying My I.D. Habit

Not only is TV addicting, TV may be ruining our lives, according to an interesting article on Yahoo!  (Of course, the internet, including Yahoo! may be ruining our lives, too.)  Anyhow, I have been thinking about my own tv habits - particularly one show - and it ain't pretty.

My theory is that tv is our panacea for exhaustion.  We are hit every day with so much, TV has become our "comfy blanket" at the end of the day.  Who hasn't snuggled into a CSI: Miami at the end of a long day, or enjoyed pizza while slumped on couch watching Modern Family?  We deserve a little downtime.

I love a cable channel called I.D. (Interesting note: I know many women who love this channel.  Why?) It's a channel that shows real-life crimes, and how they are solved, including the shows Dateline, Wicked Attraction, and more.  I was starting a bad habit where I was watching from 11 PM to 12 PM every night.  Murders, crimes - that's what was going into the old noggin every night before sleep.  I actually heard myself say to my husband Fred, "what's great about this show is that the stories are real."  Can you imagine?  I said that.  So, I need to cut waaay back on my I.D., even on the terribleness of that comment alone.

Do a review of your own habits; and read the article contained in the link, above.  Life is short; let's not spend it watching others live it!

Monday, May 28, 2012


This post tonight is about my dear sweet horse Nello, and how he continues to inspire me.  He is one of my life's biggest teachers - I'm so grateful for him and also for his ever-improving strength in his legs and overall good health - more like exuberant health, truth be told. 

Nello has arthritis, and I have been antsy with him lately, increasingly wanting to do more on horseback - learn more, become better, learn the art of dressage or even jumping, maybe.  And Nello, though gaining strength at our new barn with his 24 hour turn-out, just can not do these things - he's a good-time laid-back Charlie who can trail-ride and walk and trot, and that's about it.  (Oh, and lots of snuggles, carrots, and lazy walks on wooded trails together.)  But for me, with my fancy new ideas about my skill, and getting somewhere with all of this, Nello was looking like an increasingly bad bet moving forward. I heard people use the phrase "my first horse," and "the horse I started out on."  Is that what Nello is for me, I wondered, in the big scheme of things?  Could I find him a great home, and move on to my second horse, the horse I could increase my skill with?

Well, I actually connected with someone who offered me what seemed to be the perfect home for my boy - he said Nello would spend his days grazing and napping, and would be tucked into a cozy stall at night.  The only thing missing from his description of Nello's new life were the Disney woodland creatures; bunnies and blubirds and cute skunks gathering around at night underneath Nello's stall window to visit him.  I was impressed, but did some "detective work" on this person, and found that he is a horse dealer - Nello would probably be sold within a week or two of arriving at his new home for rough work - or worse, meat.  There was no Disney ending for him there.

My eyes stung with tears the next time I was standing next to him, rubbing his knobby knees and tacking him up to ride, combing his beautiful black mane and carefully cleaning his feet, the feet that have walked so many miles in the past, before I acquired him, as an over-used carriage horse.  I had come so close to losing him, all in the name of going faster, doing more, becoming more skilled.  I had forgotten commitment - not to myself, or to riding as a sport, but to him.

Nello and I went into the large outdoor ring at the barn, preparing to do our usual walk - maybe trot - before thinking about going out on the trails.  I noticed a pep in is step after I mounted up and we began making large loops around the ring, and soon we were trotting at a pretty fast pace; definitely fast for Nello.  "What's up, boy?" I said, reaching down to pat his shoulder as he continued trotting faster and faster.  Suddenly, with what felt like a lurch, we were galloping down the straight-away.  Hooting with delight and surprise, I had to slow Nello down from a slow gallop into a relaxing canter, which he was really reaching for, and sustaining.  Together, we were flying.

He was telling me, as sure as I sit here typing this, don't give up,  I can do this.  Have faith.

Thanks, buddy, for the lesson in life, one of several that you have taught me.  You'll always be good enough, even when riding is just a memory for us.  I'll be there, and I will worry more moving forward about whether I'm good enough for you - and your huge heart.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bob Marley Movie a Winner

A week or so ago, my oldest son, a musician, invited me to see the movie Marley, a documentary about Bob Marley and the Wailers.  We went, and I'm so glad I did.  (Marley and I almost have the same hair, after all.) The man and his music are imbedded in my mind this week - if I sing the chorus of "No Woman No Cry" one more time I am going to drive myself crazy.  (One of my top five great songs of all time, by the way.)  I highly recommend this movie - there is so much more to Marley and his music than what we have been told.  Westerners have been sold a pre-packaged, pot-smoking, dread-locked cult leader who developed reggae through a haze of marijuana while fathering multiple children with different mothers on the side.  That is selling him way, way short.  In fact, browsing Youtube for some interviews about Marley in the 1970's, he was presented as a bizarre creature who made Jamaicans wild with his "revolutionary reggae beat."

My son has been asking me to get to know Bob Marley's biography and his music for some time, and I have always resisted, afraid, I guess, to support him in any way in my son's mind.  I was imagining the Marley listed above - I judged without knowing.  Bob Marley was, in fact, a shy but determined outsider (his father was white and mother black, making him an immediate outsider) who followed strict Rastafarian laws (Rastafarianism is the worshiping of the King of Ethiopia Haile Salassi as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ) and played and wrote music ceaselessly that demanded change in his country.  He was almost assassinated at one time, and in an historic free concert quelled violence in the street by joining the leaders of the two opposing political parties together on stage for a handshake (and a hug; Marley was thrilled and wrapped an arm around each one as the people, hungry for peace and any measure of prosperity, cheered and cried.)  Marley had become a voice for change in a world that initially shunned him.  And he wanted peace.  Such an over-used phrase, but still beautiful in it's actual meaning - peace for all people.  Did he smoke pot?  Sure.  But it was used as a sacrament, and went along with some pretty strict Rastafai laws - the women were to wear no make-up and dresses in the Nazarite way, and the men were to treat the body as a temple and stay fit and in pursuit of happiness and peace. They were looking for Jah.

I am much different from Marley, but see a lot of beauty in his life.  And I'm proud, now, that my son thinks of him as a great inflence in music and in life.  Me too.

 One love.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bruins and Flowers and Big Thoughts

These flowers are for you, if you are a visitor to the blog today...

Well, last night the Bruins lost, my 13 year old had a terrible migraine and couldn't even watch the game, and my husband so busy with work he was up well past midnight (banging on his laptop keyboard - not happy - thanks, Bruins).  I have been busy with housework, driving up to NH to make sure my horse Nello didn't melt away in the rains of the past few days, taking care of all our other pets, working, etc. 

I got up very early this morning to get my son up to do homework he couldn't do last night, and was struck by these flowers on my table, and the way the sun was streaming in on them.  They are all from my yard (yay!!)  Over and over again, nature asks us to slow down and observe, and that's what I am increasingly drawn to in an outdoor life.  (I don't live in a shack on our property or anything; I am just outdoors a lot; my vitamin D levels self-corrected just through sunshine!  Yay!)  As we move forward technologically, we miss more and more of the simple and restorative moments that nature provides.  (Have you ever looked up at the sky and noticed the blue and the clouds and said to yourself, "Hey, when was the last time I even looked up at the sky??")  We're busy and stressed, and just doing our best to hang on.

And, the Bruins lost.  I'm going to be outside all day staring up at the sky. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Haunting Performance from A Multi-Talented Man

One of my all-time haunting movie performances (right up there with Robert Duval's performance as Boo Radley in "To Kill A Mockingbird") is the performance of a fine actor who played Loretta Lynn's father in the amazing "Coal Miner's Daughter."  Together this actor and Sissy Spacek portrayed a very close and connected father-daughter relationship that even transcended death, when Loretta, not knowing her father has died, sees him after his passing.

I remember the scene that always chokes me up in "Coal Miner's Daughter" - the scene at the train station, where they stand quietly, the father coughing from the coal miner's Black Lung that will eventually kill him, waiting for the train.  This train will take Loretta away from him, and into an uncertain future, where all he can be sure of is that she will be poor. "I won't never see you again, Loretty," he says softly, heart breaking.  And indeed, he never does.

And who, do I find out today, was this actor that so naturally and heart-breakingly played Loretta Lynn's father?  It was Levon Helm; drummer, all-around instrumentalist, mandolin player, and voice extroardinaire for The Band.  He passed away this afternoon, and those of us of a certain time and age also see some innocence and true musical style of our own youth passing with him.  "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," one of the best jam/funk/rock songs ever produced, reminds almost all of us of a specific time and place when we were young, and we all sang along.

We won't never see you again, Levon.  And yet we, like Loretta Lynn and her father, will see you again.  More accurately, we'll hear you, and we'll remember to sing along.

Battlestar Galactica - Portlandia on IFC

Haven't we all done this?  Or something like it's school vacation week, and instead of going to take your 13 year old to see Lexington and Concord you are in your pajamas watching Portlandia episodes on Youtube??

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Talent Alert! My Friend's Painting

This is an original painting done by a friend I see at the barn where I keep the Original Wonder-Horse Nello; I think it is just amazing.  I wish I could post it larger, but this is all the dang blog will allow without going haywire.  I love the energy of this painting; it has movement and an incredible positivity.  I love how each figure is immersed in their own activity but they are all connected.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This is a shot I took on the iphone, sitting at dinner down in historic Faneuil Hall in Boston.  My husband and I were seated in front of a large glass window looking out at the flower market at night, near closing time, and I was suddenly struck by the beauty of the flowers; they seemed both vulnerable and strong there in the dark.  No matter how much we look forward to travelling, sometimes the best views are right here at home. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sour D @ Hard Rock Cafe

My son's band Sour D at the Hard Rock Cafe Boston!  Great time, fun with friends....packed venue. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Adopted A Zoo

Okay, you have heard the saying before: Empty Nest Syndrome.  It is an over-worn but very true phrase meant to signify a time in your life when you are adjusting to no kids at home, or less kids at home, or...more pets at home, as is the case with me and Fred, my husband.  And one of us ain't likin' it.

The count at the Reillys: 1 horse - non-negotiable. Lives in Salem, NH.
 1 rabbit named Nelson - cute, low- maintenance
 1 guinea pig named Betty (Nelson's  best friend, they co-habit and were adopted as a pair)

3 dogs: Copper, Neeley, and the recently added Bella. a sweetheart of a dog added this week to my wolfpack.

Honestly, I must be working through something, because I like pets, but I've never been like this.  Never.  And honestly, I do still have one child at home, my 13 year old son.  He is my partner in crime, and my very best bud.  "Do you think we could handle another dog?  It would be up to me and you," I say to him, perusing the web, looking at all the dogs who need homes, especially in these hard times. 

("We are part of the hard times!" my husband reminds me emphatically, as he uses the lint roller to remove dog fur and scoots a little dog from the pathway to the door.  He then points at Nelson, who is hopping by.  Nelson is trained to return to his crate to use the bathroom; he free-ranges around the house all day with a frighteningly blank look on his face.) I know, I shrug; I can't help it, and with James helping me, well... it's almost do-able.  And the Titanic almost made it.

I have analyzed myself, as I lay across my bed with a dog on my feet, one under my dangling hand, and another curled up in my bedroom chair.  "Hey, Nelson," I say gloomily, as he hops past me.  (He really is sort of disturbing.  No expression at all - is he happy?  Sad?  Mad? We'll never know.)  Why do I need all this activity, this busy-ness, this chaos?

Well...because I miss it; the full house with the three kids and the friends and the noise.  And, I want it for James.  I want him to stay away from the tv and the video games, and I love expanding our family.  As I often say to Fred; hey, these animals could be foster kids.  Think of that.  I'm not ready to fold up my chair and go home yet.  And, with so much that a son shares with his father (hockey, sports, NESN, hockey, baseball, hockey, ESPN, hockey) this is for me and James, and for now, it (barely) works.

So, this Friday I drive down to Maryland to see my family.  "Who are you taking?" my husband asks, meaning which pets.  Nelson hops by eerily; would he like to go?  Who knows?  I opt to take Neely, the tiny dog who loves the car, is obsessed with me, and who settles in happily down in Maryland, spoiled to his eyeteeth by my mom.  I'm looking forward to a break from work, and housework, and all the obligations that make up my home life.  But I'll miss everyone too, and leave my son in charge of the zoo until I return.  Not to all these pets...but to him.  Ok, and the pets... even that freak Nelson.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is It Local? - Portlandia on IFC

Oh my gosh, love this new show on IFC...this conversation reminds me of what you might overhear downtown in Cambridge, MA (home of Harvard).   Enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Don't Forget to Just Hang Out

I went out with fifteen or so girlfriends the other night, to celebrate a good friend's 50th birthday.  (This is the type of friend that you would walk 100 miles through the desert for, if she needed you to.) 

We had so much fun, laughing and chattering (there may have been wine, too) for hours.  It is amazing what some time with good friends will do for you.  We forget to just be with our friends, as grown-ups - remember when you were a kid, then a teenager, then a twenty-something?  You would rather die than miss hanging out with your friends.  Where does that go?  (I guess I kind of know; we're tired!!!  The kids are wearing us out!!)

Anyhow, it's so good to laugh until you can't breathe, to smile across a table at friends who you love, and who love you, to hug it out.  And to gather for a friend who you love, and who does so much for others...just icing on the birthday cake.

So, happy birthday wonderful friend, and kudos to our friend who planned it all.  I felt like the little guy in the picture above.  Tee-hee!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making Waves

OK, a little post about puttin' it out there:

I have so far garnered 29 glorious signatures for my petition to request a name change for the show "GCB," and so I wanted to ruminate for a moment on "causes."  If you go to, you will see many, many petitions that you can sign, and my feeling is that we will all be receiving more of these petitions as times get a little more heated and there is more and more to fight for, and against.  You may want to send a petition out yourself, one day.

Here is my feeling on working for causes: it is very important - if it is important to you.  Some people really float through life, and they don't let these things (like "GCB") bother them - they may not agree with it, but hey, who are they to say?  I wish I were more like this - and I am getting more like this on many things as the years go by.  But I really think that it's not the mountains you move, but your willingness to try.  All the ripples together make a wave - if we all waiting for the time when we can change the world by ourselves, well...we'll be waiting for a long time.  We were created to work together, like the parts of the human body, each created to perform a different function.   Similarly, if we create art or music solely for the masses instead of for our muse, or to follow our creative instincts, we fall short.  It is our unique contribution to life that we leave behind - a wonderful recipe, a great sense of humor, a story, a poem, a cause, a drawing in the sand.

So put it out there in the way that suits you best. Create!  Petition!  One of my 29 signers may say, "Hmm, I'm going to start a petition about so-and-so," and create another ripple that joins with mine, and the wave builds a tiny bit.  That's what it's all about.  Then, after you do your part, move along happily, and be able to leave a cause behind.  It doesn't mean that you abandon every cause (some are grand in design, and cost their flag-bearer everything, and that is meant to be.) I just mean that it's ok to do your little part in many cases, and then happily move on.

Bye for now...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Protest the name "Good Christian Bitches" or "GCB"

I have created an online petition to ask ABC TV to re-name their "GCB" television show (the GCB stands for "Good Christian Bitches.")  I have no opinion about the show itself - it will probably tank on it's own - but I feel strongly that NO religion should be portrayed in this way on a supposedly family-friendly network.  WE view these programs, and hence give these networks their very l existence - we can have a say when they cross the line - and we should. Protect the sanctity of all religions by standing up for one.

Please sign the new petition I created at, which will go to ABC...

If you are moved to do this, you have taken a step towards being in control of what you are fed on television.  Congrats! 

Have a great day!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Doonesbury is Done-sbury in My Book

Has our society gone completely,
irretrievably insane?  Issues of name-calling and civility are popping up almost too quickly to react to these days, and then thrown like handfuls of seeds by the internet, radio and tv, which causes even more inflamed reaction, which provokes even more comment...and so on and so on, in a whirlwind that leads straight to hell.

A conservative radio host calls a young woman "slut" (while another liberal television host is calling a woman a c*#* and t***, and getting away with it, because, lets face it, he is "cool.")  And he's on cable, and can say more, and get away with it.  Cable programming like HBO and Showtime, those visionaries so fawned over at every awards show, are at the forefront of turning slimy language, previously unimaginable sexual imagery, and the slip-sliding of many a fine actor and actresses' career into the go-to source of "edgy" and "hip" of the modern world.  Puhleeze.   A television show that I am in the process of actively boycotting called "Good Christian Bitches" hits the air, and now Gary Trudeau, in a stab at a return to relevancy, writes a week of comic strips about abortion.  The only thing more graphic than his work is the actual topic of his work, a "procedure" that is one of the most heavily-debated social issues of our time.  Here is a summary of Doonesbury strip (thank you to blogger Jim Romanesko whom I am linking to); scroll down a bit, then peruse at your own discretion.  The only thing we can be grateful for is that no artwork is supplied with the sneering  text in this week of strips.  I love liberal outrage at a hint of humanity that costs someone something cloaked as artistic (free-pass) commentary, don't you?

What has happened to our civility, our morals, our class, people?  Where, oh where are the days where Charlie Brown and Linus and Snoopy smartly commented on the times of our lives in a piece that you could ponder, laugh at, and then proudly hang on the fridge?  Where did our creative intelligence go? Why are we stabbed in the back by our own television networks, airing GCB with a grin and an outstretched hand, ready to sell us out to help sell soap?  Why the heck are we swearing so much in the public square; name-calling now being the go-to tactic? (You too, Rush.) As Charlie Brown would say, "Auugh!"

Our society has hit the skids.  Sure, there are societies that are worse, but they never showed the promise that ours did and does, they never where what we once were.  Our fall is a hard and painful one, because the drop is so far.  We are a fractured society too obsessed with words, and celebrity, and good intentions as stated on Twitter and Facebook - it doesn't even matter if we follow through - just saying that you care is enough these days.  (If you "like" it on FB, you care.)  We are a reactive, scared, angry, dull society - and we need to wake up, get up, and become who we once were.

You don't have to be actively against abortion, as I am.  But you should admit that it is a relevant, important moral discussion that this country is having, and not go insane, surly, disgusting and cruel when one side gains some ground in favor of life.  That's what I don't see - if there is even a question that a fertilized egg is a life, then isn't this the situation to err on the side of caution; of life?  When the Texas legislature attempts to do so, all hell breaks loose - or at least the pen of a liberal darling artiste.   Repeat after me, ladies: I am an enlightened American woman because I accept the consequences of sex, and am prepared to deal with them, in every way.  I think ahead, or think quickly, in a loving, responsible manner.   I don't make my decisions behind a locked door with a doctor in a mask that doesn't care about me.  That is not feminism.  That is a woman - a person - in bondage.

As for "Good Christian Bitches," stay tuned.  I will be posting contact info for their advertisers, and for ABC (you can also find this info elsewhere with a quick search; I am by no means the only or first one to be upset over this.)  If you want to let your money talk, don't patronize these advertisers, and let them know.  And tell the network that it's Easter here on the planet Earth - and we won't stand for this anymore.

Time to make Lucy, Linus, Charlie and Snoopy proud.  Let's use our minds to get what we want - and let's not want fame, but good.  Let's not want attention, but only to contribute.  Let's not want cleverness, but intelligence. Let's aim for edginess only as it pertains to really solving some of the problems and ills of our time - let's invent things again, let's challenge anyone who wants to change what is pure and strong about us.  That is what is good in a rational, moralistic, caring country. Time to seperate the wheat from the chaff.   Hang on, Snoopy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giving Up People for Lent!

Lent is a time of preparation for Easter - and, a time of giving things up to heighten our focus on Christ.  Lent, or "Lint," as my 12 year old keeps calling it by accident, then correcting himslef - can be a challenge for even the most well-intentioned Catholics.

I, in the past, have given up People magazine; why in the world do I need even a few minutes a week of celebrity gossip?  What is that bringing to my life?  Well, in a sign of the times, I am giving up this year; I now read People online.  It may seem a small thing to give up, but it is kind of important; in a society where celebrity no longer has anything positive, on the whole, to offer us, not a moment should be spent idly perusing pictures and articles about people who seem more and more to be in their own version of hell.

Kids are amazingly good at sticking to their Lenten obligations; one year my youngest son gave up video games, and I never heard a thing about them for 40 days - while I was at the check-out line of the grocery store cocking one eye at the magazine rack and deep-breathing through the screaming headlines and "fun and flirty" fashions being worn by air-brushed stars that I could "copy at home - myself - even on a budget!"  Oh no - was one of my favorite stars having a breakdown, taking pills, or having an affair?   It's funny, but once you are actively giving something up - cigarettes, caffeine, sweets, a relationship, celebrity mags - you begin to see in high detail their pull on your life; the exhaustion and stress even seemingly innocent things can cause.  In this way, Lent frees you, instead of imposes on you.

So, I will continue to avoid People, and when I want to read it - or, more accurately, when I, like a zombie, move to my drop-down bar on my computer to select in a break from work  - I will pause and say a prayer to be better, to give more, to thank my lucky stars for everything I have, everyone good and fine I am blessed to have in my life.  And my son will be quietly and steadfastly giving up all soda for the next 39 days, without a word of longing or complaint, fulfilling a promise he has made to God.  Amazing, energizing, and something to emulate.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston - Didn't We Almost Have It All


I have two wonderful memories of Whitney Houston's music, although I have a great familiarity with most of her songs as her music was my generation's music, and she was part of the soundtrack of my young adulthood.  The first memory is of dancing to Whitney's I Want to Dance with Someone who Loves Me with my young husband at a friend's wedding, and being so happy that I was dancing with someone who loved me.  I can still remember it well; bee-bopping around and thinking, "Wow, I'm married!"

The second memory is of this song that I've posted, Didn't We Almost Have It All.   Back when I had my first  two little boys, I took an aerobics class every day, and at then end of the class the teacher would lower the studio lights and we would stretch and relax soundlessly, listening to this song in the dark, tired and open to the music.  There were more than a few eyes glistening when the lights came back up.

Thank you Whitney, for being a big part of my soundtrack back in the day.  Rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Can Santorum Swell be turned into Conservative Tsunami?

I would be all for a Santorum Swell in the Republican race for candidate for President of the U.S. of A.  Is the time right for this Catholic to feel some faith from the voters?

Santorum needs to fix a few things if he is to continue, in my opinion, but they are things easily fixed.  He can be whiny, as a debater, and does a little too much pleading, and not enough commanding of the debate stage.  This is easily overcome with the right debate coach and a little practice - in front of the mirror, in front of his wife, , his team, his kids...whomever.  It is imperative that this be corrected, or Obama will mop the floor with him in Presidential debates, should it come to that. When speaking to a crowd Santorum is much better - he is passionate, and can clearly crystallize a cohesive conservative message for the masses.  Interestingly, he was the best, and most relaxed I've seen him, when he returned from his very ill young daughter's bedside to comment on his campaign; he was relaxed, unruffled, and speaking with the insight of one who has just had his priorities re- aligned by the health of a child.

One of Romney's senior strategists compared Santorum's three-state sweep on Tuesday night to a
"student body election," effectively dismissing the importance of Santorum's victories - even an embarrassing, to Romney - victory in Minnesota, where Romney has Pawlenty stumping for him, and is a state he won in 2008.  Of course in 2008 he was a conservative state's conservative choice against McCain...and now in 2012 there's a new conservative kid on the block in the sweater-wearing, clean-cut, unabashedly Catholic Santorum (we have heard precious little about Mitt's Mormonism - for good reason, he must feel.  Voters are as a whole way too unsure about what Mormons believe - which equals a potential weakness for the Romney campaign in the general, I would surmise.  Although in a general election, you would fight one "Mormonism" with a Reverend Wright comeback, and come out ahead.  Of course, all of this would be un-spoken, and in the mind of the voter, but faith may be a real factor in the general election, because Church and State is becoming a hot-button issue in the country.)

Santorum's biggest asset, right now, is the backward movement of the government, the courts, and the "Boob Group," Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer "Race for the Cure."  I call them this not because I disrespect breasts - I have two myself, have had two biopsies in the last ten years as a result of mammograms, and care about everyone's breast health.  But SJK acted like boobs when they walked back their cutting of ties to Planned Parenthood - a group under Congressional investigation, and an organization that is a "pass-through" in the breast cancer fight; they issue referrals for mammograms, but do not offer mammograms directly.  Why is it wrong, Komen, to only offer grants to organizations that do offer the mammograms themselves?  (Note: Check out the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for an alternative to Komen when donating; Komen CEO makes $450,000 per year in salary, funded by you.)

Santorum can take the outrage of conservatives over 1) Komen, 2) the California court's over-ruling of the will of the people - a ban on gay marriage, and 3) the White House's recent decision to make Catholic Charities provide "health services" (morning-after pill, birth control) and bundle it into a perfect storm for a real conservative candidacy to be backed by both the Republican establishment, and conservative America.  He can stand up forcefully - skip the whining - and speak from the heart, and from his record.  He can fight the vast moneyball of the Romney campaign as best he can, and give conservatives a true choice with which to battle Obama. ( Romney is not a good debater, and I think that we are in trouble right there if he gets the nomination.  Can you see a flustered, high-octave, bumbling Romney agains the King of Slick and Cool?  C'mon, he can sing!  Marvin Gaye and Al Greene!)  Plus, Romney's money, his tactics and his faux-conservatism irk me to no end.

Is the Santorum Swell a tsunami in the making, or just an errant wave on a low-tide sea?  Time will tell.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What of Art? What of Longing? Where Is My Head?

Okay, so I remember when I was posing for this sculpture...(nah, just kidding.  I have never had, nor will I ever have, rippling abs.  I also have my head, and all extremities too, as of this writing.)

Anyhoo, this sculpture lives in my yard. About seven years ago I was in a garden shop and I saw this sculpture and I said to myself, "You know what, Self?  You have three sons and a husband - you are drowning in playoff games, fart noises, and Axe deodorant. The last intellectual thing that went on in your house was a game of online Solitaire.  But what of Art?  What of Culture?  What of Man's Longing for that Which Is Indefinable Yet For That Which Is Still a Part of the Search for That Which...oh, never mind, Self.  Just grab that statue and let's go."

Well, my sons, at that time, ages 5, 15 and 18, were horrified when I put my statue in our old backyard.  They immediately wrapped her in a beach towel, and begged me to throw her away.  (I privately named her Clothilde; classy, mait non?)  For boys that snickered endlessly about "boobs," when presented with two plaster breasts, they had precious little to say, but did a lot of blushing.

Oh, I forgot to mention - she had a head back then - a cute Greek head with those precious short Greek curls; one can imagine the subject of the sculpture gently sawing off her curls by the Aegean Sea with a seashell when they became too long.  Anyway, she moved with us to our new house (I remember she was hanging out of my husband's window, looking expectantly down the highway) and recently I glanced up into the garden to the side of the driveway and noticed that dear Clothilde was...headless.  What?  I stormed in and demanded, "Where is the head of my statue?"

My youngest son James, who is 12, and has been vehemently opposed to Clothilde since she came, said, "Oooh,  about that, Mom.  I, well, I accidentally kicked a soccer ball when I was out with the guys, and it knocked her head off."  I was distressed; Clothilde did not remind me of all that is pure and fine and desirable in Society with no head; instead she reminded me of...well, she just wasn't herself.

And yet, she was herself.  I do still like to look up in the garden and see Clothilde turned gracefully to look out to sea.  I still like how her plaster has aged, and how she reminds me of that day's persistent internal response to a piece of plaster gracefully rendered.  And as any friend would, I've looked for her head, but it was apparently thrown away in fear; right into the back of the trash truck as it rumbled away.

Ah, Clothilde, together we still search for that which is nameless and yet pursues us like wind as we walk...ah, forget it.  But rest assured; headless and ever beautiful Clothilde knows just what I mean.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not By My Chinny-Chin...chilla?

This cute little fella, pictured at left, is a chinchilla.  Basically, a very large mouse with a squirrel's tail and the attributes of a superhero - chinchillas can run off walls, never touching the floor, they can move at lightning speeds, and they jump pretty fiercely, reaching some pretty surprising heights.  And I am putting all my efforts into not becoming attached to one.

We are chinchilla-sitting right now; my husband, my 12 year old and myself.  My college son's girlfriend has been away, so the job of chinchilla-sitting fell to him...which means now it has fallen to me.  And I love animals, and this animal presents a whole new world of excitement: chinchillas take dust baths!  (You buy dust at the pet store - no kidding - and they roll around in it!  Seriously!)  Chinchillas are soft!  (They used to make fur coats out of them.)  Chinchillas often like people, and bond with them!

So, I have been instructed to avoid this chinchilla's adoring gaze, ignore his soft fur, and turn away when he is jumping around appealingly, inviting me to observe his antics.  You would think it would be my 12 year old my husband is worried about - it's me, instead.  "Peanut has to go home soon," he said gently last night, as I was gazing into (our) chinchilla's little red eyes while I cleaning his cage.  "He has a real mommy.  We are just baby-sitting.  This is not a forever pet, just a visitor."  (Then he hands me my binky and my blanky and I toddle off to bed.  Come on; I'm a grown-up.  A grown-up that has to have a chinchilla or I'll just die!)

I know, I know.  You would think 2 dogs, a tortoise and a horse would be enough. there ever enough cute jumping softness in one's life, I ask?

P.S.  These cuties live a long time, so if his real mommy takes more trips or needs a sittter...Aunty is waiting!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa Primary Results...Veddy Interesting

Wednesday AM, Post-Iowa Caucus:

Such an interesting race to the GOP nomination this year!

I stayed up as long as I could to watch the results in Iowa, and ended up hanging off the couch almost upside-down (which makes the cadidates' faces look very long, in an interesting optical-illusion aside.)  The rest of the fam had long gone to bed, and after 11 PM it was clearly shaping up to be Santorum's night, a tie being a win in this case. (I think Romney was 3 votes ahead in the end.)  Who would have guessed just a week before, when it looked like Newt Gingrich would be the big opponent for Romney?  Newt is now calling people liars and looking utterly exhausted.

I think that Romney is vulnerable to Santorum in a way he has not been vulnerable to the others because a) Santorum has no baggage, like the other contenders (Cain, Newt, Perry's early debate flubs), and b) Santorum is truly conservative in a narrowing field.  Mitt has had to play the game by switching positions to move ahead, which I don't entirely oppose - views do change, and you must be pliable, let's call it, to move forward in politics.  But Santorum is who he is, or seems to be who he is (does that even make sense?)

This election is so important, that in the end, the candidate must be able to beat President Obama.  Period.  If the jobs numbers look up, the President will gain swift traction, even though he is currently boasting Carter-like numbers of the approval-type.  Yikes!  The Republican nominee must be a good debater, have no "buzz-phrase" weaknesses (Romneycare), and must be able to connect with independents (I think this ultimately goes to Mitt, with his business experience.  It will be a JOBS referendum.)

There is something seemingly made of steel about Romney - he just presses forward, from election to election, debate to debate, and now primary to primary.  There is a forced-jovial doggedness to him that is both impressive and scary.  Remember the scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" where Butch and Sundance are being chased through the plains, and they keep looking back, and then at each other, and saying "Who IS that guy?"  His name is Mitt Romney, boys.

The next two debates will tell so much; buckle your seat belts and grab your score cards!

**I am assuming this is goodbye for Bachmann; good job, girl.  Good effort.**

Obama's Missed Legacy

A thought I find so troubling and just plain sad in the wake of the Dallas shootings and all the other racial unrest bubbling up in our na...