Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!


This entire post is stolen blatantly, word for word, from today's Wonkette. Thanks, Wonkette, for making my Halloween witchilicious!

Lil’ Sarah Palin Wants Welfare Handouts 
Friday, October 31st, 2008
Family Circus



Dolly’s sadistic parents have dressed her as America’s most-hated angry dingbat, so the neighbors will feed her poison. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flashback: 1964


One of the memories that crossed my mind when I voted for Barack Obama was watching my mother pay her poll tax. 

For those of you unfamiliar with that term, the "poll tax" (along with other practices such as "literacy tests") was a particularly pernicious form of disenfranchisement, abolished in federal elections by constitutional amendment in 1964 and in state and local elections by the Supreme Court in 1966.  

My mother often took me along when she voted. When possible, I take Small Child with me.

But, in a change of seasons, today I took my mother to vote.

With a spiffy cap covering her chemo-hairless head and a cane to steady her ever-weaker gait, she made her way into the courthouse for early voting. She was able to handle the ten or so stairs down into the courthouse entrance nearest our parking spot, and fortunately the elevator was working. 

When we reached the second floor, the stairs loomed so very large.  She was ready, though. Ready to climb to vote in what is, realistically, at age 87 her final presidential election. 

But in one of those moments of grace, all too rare in this season of sniping and vicious campaigning, the worker stationed to greet and guide those arriving to vote took one look at us and said, simply, "We're so glad you're here. Would you like us to bring a machine down so you don't have to climb those last few stairs?"

Mother paused a moment, then replied, "Yes, I think that would be best."

I wish I could say that in the 44 years since the poll tax was repealed the world had changed enough for her to vote for Obama. In truth, I think she was voting for McCain rather than against an African American man. 

But as I sat there, watching a patient Latina assist her with the electronics and a rainbow of diverse voters pass by, I felt so very grateful that my world has.

History.


Yesterday, I voted for Barack Obama for President of the United States of America.

Texas has "early voting," and turnout has been brisk.

All sorts of memories of discrimination -  de facto and de jure -  flooded through me as I worked through the screen. 

And with one touch of a flashing red button I blasted them all away.

Good luck, Senator Obama.

And all you folks out there... go make some history, okay?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Melancholy, Thou Hast Thy Music, Too...

It's happened. Fall has come (and gone, with today's warm sunshine, but will come again).  On Thursday morning, we officially saw our breath and the overnight low dipped to 39. 

Or has it? The drought continues, giving the grass a bonus crunch. The mosquitoes are still biting. 

Nothing seems quite right.

Astrologers claim this is a result of some pretty dramatic planetary dancing. Pundits attribute it to the election. Common sense suggests a look at the financial crisis. 

All I know is that I am not feeling fall. And that is a bad, bad thing. 

Friends of Blue know I am prone to Fall Fever: giddiness, spurts of activity, glee, joy, and the tendency to lie on blankets with books.  The first symptom is the annual Keats Email, in which I expect my friends to share, once again, a sentimental attachment to A Beloved Poem. Last year, I experienced a second symptom, the first annual Keats Blog Post: a cry of bliss to the universe.

Earlier this month, I alluded to my autumn-ennui on these pages. I thought that might banish the funk, but it did not.  

Maybe I wasn't explicit enough. Maybe I need to summon seasonal joy in a different way. 

Maybe if one of Keats' Odes is good, two would be better?

So this year it's a two-fer. We're going to begin with "Ode on Melancholy." Feel free to skip the first stanza (I always do), but don't miss the opportunity to roll around in the gloom of the second and third.  If you sink into it, really feel it, you'll begin to feel better. And then you'll be ready for "To Autumn."  It's a wine-ripe apple of beauty.

Enjoy.

Ode on Melancholy

1.

NO, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
  Wolfs-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss’d
  By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries, 
  Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
    Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow’s mysteries;
  For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
    And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul. 

2.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
  Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
  And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, 
  Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
    Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
  
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
    And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes. 

3.

She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
  And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
  Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight 
  Veil’d Melancholy has her
sovran shrine,
    Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
  His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
    And be among her cloudy trophies hung.



To Autumn

1.

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
  And still more, later flowers for the bees,
  Until they think warm days will never cease, 
    For Summer has o’er-
brimm’d their clammy cells.

2.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
  
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
  Steady thy laden head across a brook; 
  Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
    Thou
watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

3.

Where are the songs of Spring?
Ay, where are they?
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 
  And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a
wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  Among the river
sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly
bourn
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Say No to No!


I received a disturbing email from a friend last night.

The local junior high is presenting the
Aim for Success abstinence program next week.

As it turns out, the kids who attend the assembly get a homework pass.* The kids who don't attend the assembly have to bring a signed form from their parents saying that they are not going to attend. And guess what? No homework pass.

Of course, part of the assembly is The Signing of the Abstinence Pledge, a statement that the signer promises not to have sexual intercourse until he or she is married.

Let's forget that CDC statistics show abstinence programs don't work.

Let's forget that asking very young teenagers to broadcast publicly private decisions about their sexual choice is offensive and intrusive.

Let's forget that, should an individual be gay (in most states) or unable to find a spouse he or she - under this ludicrous model - is signing away a basic human need.

Let's forget that the "science" behind this program is suspect at best.

Let's forget that our children need knowledge to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease.

But let's do make sure to "reward" those students who participate in this sick charade and "punish" those who don't.

Wonder what the homework load will be on the night in question?

*Correction: I was wrong about the method for homework pass distribution. Parents will receive the homework passes, presumably to give to their children, if they attend the parents' meeting.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Harvest


Today, Small Child and I saw our first V of geese.

A few days ago, a beautiful, giant full moon hung low in the sky.

Here and there, leaves go golden.

The squirrels have been frantic for a couple of weeks, and Large Dog has been in what can only be described as a manic state.

And exactly one year ago tonight, I
wrote a post that ended with the words, “I wish it would rain,” words that crossed my mind endlessly today as my feet crunched across dry grass on cracked earth.

All signs point to autumn. To fall. To harvest.

But I’m anxious.

I have not been tending my garden lately. Since I began blogging 18 months ago, I’
ve sown many seeds (consciously and otherwise). I grew weary of carrying water when the rains stopped. I’ve veered off into the easy subjects, partisan politics, sentiment-at-hand. 

Honestly? I’m not even sure I remember what seeds I threw in which direction. I
didn’t keep good records. Some plants looked promising but withered in the brutal summer sun. Others I just abandoned, too busy to water. Entire sections fell to mysterious blight. I put a few seed packets down and forgot about them; plants sprouted right out of the paper. The months have been that way.

The months have been so much that way that often many go by without a glance at the garden. But autumn forces the gaze.

Some of those seeds have grown into plants I really can’t ignore any longer, the kind that crack walkways, ruin foundations, choke out
desirable species. The tough, spiny ones that can live without irrigation or attention. It’s time for me to face my fear of runaway vegetation. Gotta thin, prune, mulch.

I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. You only have to flip on the news or walk through a store to hear uneasiness, fear, and worry.

But not all gardeners have been dithering or wringing their hands. I admire their work.

One is seeing her children through transitions joyous and painful, making enormous sacrifices yet still finding time to laugh, play, create and be a wonderful friend.

Another has, in what most find a daunting economic climate, listened to his heart and birthed a second successful business that feeds his soul.

Yet another, who completely plowed under a marriage of many years and lost much in the process, found not only freedom but also a second go at love and parenthood.

Finally, a
friend and fabulous writer with talent and discipline and wit persevered right into a two-book deal.

It’s been a heavy year, friends. I don’t know what I’m going to find out there when I pull on my gloves, pick up the shovel, and start digging. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll find succulent autumn vegetables, as much as I adore them.

Whatever I find, I’ll do my best to make it relevant and readable. If not, you can always toss it in the compost.





Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Generation Gap?



I've been running my mouth enough lately.

Try this for a breath of fresh air:



Monday, October 13, 2008

Another 40 years...


Here and there, as I've caught bits on radio or television or scanned blogs and print, I've seen references to the presidential election of 1968 and the George Wallace campaign in particular. Readers, I'd been thinking those same thoughts but had not voiced them. To prove that I am not recycling content, I'm going to share another elementary school memory.

1968, for you pretty young things, was not a pretty year.  1968 is why protesters are now contained in fences far away from political conventions. Why you don't see coffins come home on CNN.  People were dying abroad and on American soil for the issues in play in that fall's election.

I grew up in a Texas suburb that had "desegregated" by writing a policy. The policy was "school choice."  Students could attend any school in town, but they could only ride a bus to their neighborhood campus. Again, for younger readers, this was not the open door shindig it may appear. Many families had one car, and that car was used for one person to drive to work. Most elementary children got to school on foot or bike or on the bus.  This policy remained in place until my graduation, as far as I know. In 1977, my graduating class of 626 was "integrated" by perhaps ten African-American students.  I never sat a class with one of them. Our school song was "Dixie." The confederate flag flew at football games. Yet we were, for the most part, good kids. 

But I digress.

At the Blue house, politics veered pretty darn far to the right, at least where my father was concerned.  My mother never said much, which I now know meant she spoke volumes. But "hippies," "liberals," "communists," and "Humphrey" all pretty much added up to the same thing in the paternal lexicon. I honestly don't remember which of the other two candidates he actually supported. I suspect I'm afraid to remember.

But I digress yet again.

Even in elementary school, it was impossible to escape the campaign.  All most of us had in our homes for entertainment was a single television, so we all saw the same news. At least our input was fairly consistent. 

Every day at lunch, in the School Cafetorium, we'd peel the tops off our "ice milk cups" and start politicking. Amid a fair amount of trash talk (always within acceptable volume limits, lest the red-yellow-green traffic light of silence glow crimson), nine- and ten-year-old Americans would vote with their wooden spoons.

N

H

W

The letters were carved into the pristine surface of our dairy-ish confections. I will admit, right here and now, that I did not commit firmly to Humphrey, a fact I now regret. I like many others vacillated between the N and the H, depending on the mood of the day or the friend of the moment. 

But you know what?

The W kids never wavered. They knew. They sat together, and they never changed the letter they carved. 

The cafeteria contained nothing but white faces*. Those kids (well, most likely their families, but still...) may not have known what Wallace was for, but I'm pretty sure they knew what he was against.

And that is exactly what I remember when  I watch those clips of angry, fearful faces at McCain/Palin events. 

The Wallace Kids.

* I no longer live in the town mentioned above. Out of curiosity, I visited the school's website. Its population now appears to be significantly made up of children of color, which suggests that the same de facto segregation policy is still in place.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gone Too Far.


I'd like to stop posting these.  But this one, from a Pennsylvania Palin rally, is truly awful.  You can find the accompanying article here. I have such mixed feelings. I want to share my outrage by letting people know this poison is out there. But I also worry that I'm spreading toxin merely by posting it. Troubled.



What's more, McCain held a rally in Davenport, Iowa yesterday.  At that rally, a minister gave an invocation including the following language (you can find the full story here,):
"I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god - whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah - that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons,” Conrad said.

"And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day.”
The racism is frightening. But these words scare me much, much more.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My leaves aren't golden; silence isn't either, you know.

Greetings from persistently green though increasingly scraggly NoTex. 

I know you are out there, readers. I see your hits on Google Analytics although I have no idea who you are. 

My blogfriend, Molly, announced recently that her amazing site had garnered its 3000th comment. This fact has awakened the competitor in me, the one I have been secretly dosing with Ambien for a couple of decades. If you know me, you are aware that this could be a very scary situation indeed. Spending a fall afternoon walking near Dick Cheney with a bird dog and a gun will seem like a walk through Portland's Japanese Garden.

Perhaps I exaggerate. Or not.

Anyway, friends, I am comment hungry. Starved.  I refuse to believe that, of all the things I've written, something hasn't pissed you off or made you think. So flog me with your brilliance, even if it is anonymous. 

Don't make me resort to giveaways. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Now I really need a glass of that Strenuous Tongue Cabernet!


I just thought I'd been rendered mute by melancholy. Last night's debate, and the events of the days leading up to it, made me more so.

Tell me why the Secret Service did not arrest the individual who shouted "Kill him!" (calling for, if you have not heard about this, Obama's assassination) during a McCain/Palin rally.

Tell me why McCain felt that a young black man would not have heard of the two largest mortgage programs in America.

Tell me why the man who wants to lead our country into a era of smaller government last night proposed having the government buy up mortgages.

Tell me why the same man could not correctly state the details of his own health plan, suddenly promising a 5K credit per individual American rather than per household.

Tell me why Rush Limbaugh, a man I foolishly listened to this morning, is now blaming the entire "bailout" (the one proposed initially by the current president) on the Democrats, claiming it is an Obama plan to socialize our nation's economy.

Tell me why the same talk show host is saying, many times a day, that Obama and Osama bin-Ladin are the same because they "know terrorists."

Tell  me why fliers are appearing in low income Philadelphia neighborhoods warning people that, "according to an Obama operative," if they have any outstanding warrants (even for traffic tickets) or prior felony convictions they should "take care of them" before voting because police will be at the polls to arrest them. Maybe it would be best to stay home.

Tell me why people are willing to believe in and act on such vitriol.

Tell me why I am supposed to feel pride for my country instead of sadness and shame.

Monday, October 6, 2008

86: Mist, Mellow Fruitfulness


SCENE: Keats’ Café. Early October.

A WOMAN of a certain age, obviously exhausted, walks slowly through the door. She looks around, as if seeking a familiar face. Finding none, She moves to a table near the window, where she places her heavy bag on the floor.

Placing her reading glasses low on the bridge of her nose, she scans the menu.

A waitress, FANNY, approaches. She is smacking gum.

FANNY:
Hey. I’m Fanny. What can I getcha?

WOMAN:
Just some water for now. It’s been a while since I was in, and I should probably look things over.

FANNY:
You betcha.

FANNY exits.

The WOMAN continues to move her eyes over the menu.

WOMAN (to herself):
Ah! There it is. I was afraid they’d taken it off the menu.

FANNY (setting down a large glass of water):
You ready?

WOMAN:
You have no idea how ready. I’ve been waiting for this all year. Let’s see…I’ll have the “Season of Mist” and definitely some “Mellow Fruitfulness.” I’m starved.

FANNY:
Sorry. We’re out.

WOMAN (incredulous):
WHAT?

FANNY:
We’re out. Out of mist. Mellow fruitfulness, too.

WOMAN:
You’re kidding, right?

FANNY:
Nope.

WOMAN:
But your thatch-eves have vines running ‘round!

FANNY:
They’re from Hobby Lobby. I had to go pick them up last week.

WOMAN (stunned):
Guess I’ll settle for the swollen gourds, topped with plump hazelnuts and sweet kernel.

FANNY (over her shoulder): Yo, Keats, we got any squash yet?

KEATS (offstage):
Truck didn’t come.

FANNY:
You heard the man.

WOMAN:
No. This can’t be happening. My hair was soft lifted by the wind, wind that winnowed, when I got out of my car. And I’m sitting careless… or at least I was until you started telling me you’re out of everything good. I mean, look outside! The day’s soft-dying! Crickets! Whistles and twitters!

FANNY walks over to the jukebox, pops in a quarter, and presses a button. Happy music fills the air.

FANNY:
Maybe that “Song of Spring” will perk ‘ya up.

WOMAN:
Turn that crap off. Nobody comes to Keats’ Café for spring. It’s October, Fanny. I need autumn. I’ve been coming here every October for years for my favorite dish. And now this nonsense. If you don’t have mist, mellow fruitfulness, gourds, hazelnuts, sweet kernels, or even a real damned vine, what do you have?

FANNY:
Well, there’s a great wine special.

WOMAN:
God, I could use a drink.

FANNY:
We have Strenuous Tongue Cab by the glass. It’s like squishing grapes in your mouth.

WOMAN:
Bring me a bottle. And tell Keats to get his sorry ass out here right now.

FANNY EXITS, calling the order.

A moment passes. KEATS, a dark-haired man wearing an apron and a toque enters stage left. He sees the WOMAN, removes his hat, walks slowly to her table, and sits beside her.

She looks up, and into his eyes.

KEATS:
So it’s you who ordered the melancholy. How have you been?

FANNY returns with a bottle and two glasses, pours wine for both, and exits. The lights fade to black as KEATS takes the WOMAN’s hand in his, and she begins to answer.