Monday, December 31, 2007

"My Daughter Has Potato Blight"

Having a good time this week at my childhood home in Ohio remembering funny stories.

After writing school excuse notes for 7 children over the years my mother got pretty fast at zipping them off as the kid walked out the door, all part of the normal morning routine.

But one day, writing 8 notes for 5 different kids, she just cracked under the pressure: "Please excuse my daughter, she has potato blight."

Pandora's box was now open. Another note: "Our son _____ has permission to do all this stuff." The school actually called and scolded her.

More: "Please excuse ____ yesterday, I thought he was sick."

And finally, one note written as a limerick.

I never quite had the nerve to write such notes for my own children, but was sorely tempted to do something creative for one daughter, whose attendance counselor knew the sound of my voice on the phone. For this child, I wanted to write: "Please excuse _______ tomorrow, she will have been not feeling well."


Photo by cuorhome

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Baptized in an Orchestra Pit

Sunday morning service in the church where our family has baptisms, weddings, funerals. Well, except that the new building was under construction when I was born, so services were at the nearby junior high school. I was actually baptized in the orchestra pit, which is a pretty good beginning for a future musician.

Walked the floor where my father's casket was placed for his funeral. Wandered the halls where Sunday School teachers taught me right from wrong and explained that there were children dying from lack of food and medicine -- which I vowed at age 10 to do something about. Touched the pipe organ that children were forbidden to touch. Walked up to the altar where my soon to be ex husband and I exchanged wedding vows some 30 years ago.

So many emotions from grief to joy, but the overarching sensation was one of gratitude:

For the people who gave sacrificially to build this beautiful place where so much has happened in my life.

For the minister who taught us to be in awe of the astonishing universe God created.

For the teachers who patiently explained lessons of charity and love.

For the kindergarten choir director who had us sing, unbelievably, In Excelsis Deo [Angels We Have Heard On High]. I did years later have occasion to ask him what possessed him to teach such difficult music to 5 year olds. He said he simply didn't explain that it was difficult, and we did it. There's a lesson in there somewhere.


Photo by Arkansas Wanderer

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Delicious on Purpose

Still more relatives, still more Christmas presents. I could get used to this.

From my youngest brother, a box of chocolates with the motto printed on the box:

"Delicious on Purpose"

Which is certainly to be desired, I mean what if stuff were just accidentally delicious.

Is the gym open tomorrow?


Photo by mOOrango

Friday, December 28, 2007

It Was a Really Small Plane

It was a really small plane but was able to zoom thru the sky a little faster than the trapeze. Am now in Middletown Ohio where my relatives are competing to offer me Christmas cookies. Life is good.


Photo by Elsie esq

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fly Thru the Air with the Greatest of Ease

I'm flying home to Ohio tomorrow to see my mother and some of the many egrSiblings. This looked like a perfectly pleasant way to go.

If for some reason that doesn't work out, I'll just take a plane like a normal person. Seeya on the flip side.


Photo by Guacamole Goalie

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ohio SoS to Cleveland: Ditch the Touch Screens

crossposted at firedoglake 26 december 2007

Photo by DRB62Republican vote tampering efforts in Ohio took a direct hit this week when newly elected Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner cast the deciding vote to get rid of hackable touch screen voting machines in Cuyahoga County.

Cleveland was the center of a hailstorm of objections to the presidential vote in 2004, where polls up until election day had Kerry comfortably ahead. Whoops, look at that, all of a sudden Kerry was behind...and so lost the national election. I'm sure there was a perfectly good explanation why all the exit polls were so wrong.

In 2005, partly in response to suspicions of vote tampering, Ohio voters were offered several good government referenda related to cleaning up election procedures. [Hey---I mean you could always relax and trust Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to do the right thing---right? The very idea that he came close to being governor in 2006! /rant]

As predicted by the Columbus Dispatch poll, which historically has been accurate to within a tenth of a percentage point, the referenda were slated to pass by a 2 to 1 margin. Ooops, look at that, overnight the voters must have changed their minds! The good government reforms LOST by a 2 to 1 margin. I'm sure it was just a "glitch." I hate this word, it sounds so teeny and innocent, and ever so much sweeter than its real meaning: "election fraud."

By November 2006 voters in Ohio had HAD ENOUGH. With rare exception voters cast out Republicans and elected Democrats for state office including Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Treasurer. People I know who have been lifelong Republicans cast their first ever vote for Democrats, probably crying as they went into the voting booth.

Christmas Cookie Sugar Coma

Sure hope you can't get diabetes from eating nothing but sugar cookies with frosting for three days.


Photo by scottfidd

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

O Holy Night

crossposted at firedoglake 24 december 2007

Wishing you all the most precious gifts, the ones no money can buy:



Inner peace



A word about hope:

The word *yet*

“I can’t do that” becomes “I can’t do that…yet”

“We don’t have the answers” turns into “We don’t have the answers…yet”

Whatever your tradition, you can tap into the message of hope for the future. Believe in something better, and take the first tiny steps in that direction. Astonishing things can happen.


Josh Groban singing at the tree lighting ceremony, Rockfeller Center, 4 December 2002

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's A Girl!

My new little niece came into the world last night:

Claire Elizabeth Robinett, born 23 December 2007 in Missouri, to parents Heather and Larry. Congratulations and welcome to the family, little one!

Friend Ellie notes it was during a full moon and suggests "Claire de Lune" :)


photo by Little Bitty Tam

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Goodbye to Cleveland Touch Screen Voting

Republican vote tampering efforts in Ohio took a nose dive this week when newly elected Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner cast the deciding vote to get rid of suspect touch screen voting machines.

Cleveland was the center of a swirl of objections related to the presidential vote in 2004, where the polls up until election day had Kerry comfortably ahead. Wo look at that, all of a sudden Kerry was behind...and lost the election.

Ohio voters were offered several referenda related to cleaning up the election process in 2005. As predicted by the Columbus Dispatch poll, historically exceptionally accurate, the referenda were slated to pass by a 2 to 1 margin. Ooops, look at that, they lost 2 to 1. Good government reforms? Down the drain.

By November 2006 voters in Ohio had HAD ENOUGH. With rare exception voters cast out Republicans and elected Democrats for state office including Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. People I know who have been lifelong Republicans cast their first ever vote for Democrats, probably crying as they went into the voting booth.

Among the victors was the new secretary of state Jennifer Brunner. She proceeded to investigate voting shenanigans going back the last few years, centering her focus on Cleveland, which had many egregious actions. This week the vote to get rid of the suspect touch screen voting machines was 3-2, with Brunner casting the deciding vote.

As goes Ohio, so goes the nation. We hope.


I love this photo of the Ohio state flag from DRB62. We have the neatest shape flag, don't you think?

My Three Flowers

Happy mom! All three kids are home, helping put up the tree and do Christmas baking.

This gets harder to accomplish as they build lives of their own in cities of their own choosing. I treasure our time together. Somehow to get presents from them in addition seems superfluous, but ask me again Christmas morning.


Lovely roses from

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Gift to You: The Word "Yet"

Here is my Christmas gift to you guys:

The word *yet*

“I can’t do that” becomes “I can’t do that…yet”

“We don’t have the answers” turns into “We don’t have the answers…yet”

Whatever your tradition, you can tap into the message of hope for the future. Believe in something better, and take the first tiny steps in that direction. Amazing things can happen.


Lovely photo taken by PhillipC, flickr creative commons

Winter Sunrise

Good morning everyone! The sun has returned, solstice is over, and Christmas is soon. This beautiful Smoky Mountain sunrise photo captures the mood for me.

But something is missing: winter depression. This might be the first year since college that I haven't been severely depressed. Praise the Lord and pass the Wellbutrin. I've made some changes in my life including some that cause me deep sorrow but the overall impact is an enormous release of positive energy. With the support of so many dear people I have been brave enough to restructure my life so that I can follow my dreams.

Fingers crossed for the rest of the winter, but for now that sunrise is lookin mighty beautiful.


This amazing photo from Picture Taker 2

Monday, December 17, 2007

Senate Phone and Fax Numbers

HIDaniel Akaka(202) 224-6361(202) 224-2126
TNLamar Alexander(202) 224-4944(202) 228-3398
COWayne Allard(202) 224-5941(202) 224-6471
WYJohn Barrasso(202) 224-6441(202) 224-1724
MTMax Baucus(202) 224-2651(202) 224-0515
INEvan Bayh(202) 224-5623(202) 228-1377
UTRobert Bennett(202) 224-5444(202) 228-1168
DEJoseph Biden(202) 224-5042(202) 224-0139
NMJeff Bingaman(202) 224-5521(202) 224-2852
MOChristopher Bond(202) 224-5721(202) 224-8149
CABarbara Boxer(202) 224-3553(415) 956-6701
OHSherrod Brown(202) 224-2315(202) 228-6321
KSSam Brownback(202) 224-6521(202) 228-1265
KYJim Bunning(202) 224-4343(202) 228-1373
NCRichard Burr(202) 224-3154(202) 228-2981
WVRobert Byrd(202) 224-3954(202) 228-0002
WAMaria Cantwell(202) 224-3441(202) 228-0514
MDBenjamin Cardin(202) 224-4524(202) 224-1651
DEThomas Carper(202) 224-2441(202) 228-2190
PARobert Casey(202) 224-6324(202) 228-0604
GASaxby Chambliss(202) 224-3521(202) 224-0103
NYHillary Clinton(202) 224-4451(202) 228-0282
OKTom Coburn(202) 224-5754(202) 224-6008
MSThad Cochran(202) 224-5054(202) 224-9450
MNNorm Coleman(202) 224-5641(202) 224-1152
MESusan Collins(202) 224-2523(202) 224-2693
NDKent Conrad(202) 224-2043(202) 224-7776
TNBob Corker(202) 224-3344(202) 228-0566
TXJohn Cornyn(202) 224-2934(202) 228-2856
IDLarry Craig(202) 224-2752(202) 228-1067
IDMike Crapo(202) 224-6142(202) 228-1375
SCJim DeMint(202) 224-6121(202) 228-5143
CTChristopher Dodd(202) 224-2823(202) 224-1083
NCElizabeth Dole(202) 224-6342(202) 224-1100
NMPete Domenici(202) 224-6621(202) 228-3261
NDByron Dorgan(202) 224-2551(202) 224-1193
ILRichard Durbin(202) 224-2152(202) 228-0400
NVJohn Ensign(202) 224-6244(202) 228-2193
WYMichael Enzi(202) 224-3424(202) 228-0359
WIRussell Feingold(202) 224-5323(202) 224-2725
CADianne Feinstein(202) 224-3841(202) 228-3954
SCLindsey Graham(202) 224-5972(202) 224-3808
IAChuck Grassley(202) 224-3744(202) 224-6020
NHJudd Gregg(202) 224-3324(202) 224-4952
NEChuck Hagel(202) 224-4224(202) 224-5213
IATom Harkin(202) 224-3254(202) 224-9369
UTOrrin Hatch(202) 224-5251(202) 224-6331
TXKay Hutchinson(202) 224-5922(202) 224-0776
OKJames Inhofe(202) 224-4721(202) 228-0380
HIDaniel Inouye(202) 224-3934(202) 224-6747
GAJohnny Isakson(202) 224-3643(202) 228-0724
SDTim Johnson(202) 224-5842(202) 228-5765
MAEdward Kennedy(202) 224-4543(202) 224-2417
MAJohn Kerry(202) 224-2742(202) 224-8525
MNAmy Klobuchar(202) 224-3244(202) 228-2186
WIHerb Kohl(202) 224-5653(202) 224-9787
AZJon Kyl(202) 224-4521(202) 224-2207
LAMary Landrieu(202) 224-5824(202) 224-9735
NJFrank Lautenberg(202) 224-3224(202) 228-4054
VTPatrick Leahy(202) 224-4242(202) 224-3479
MICarl Levin(202) 224-6221(202) 224-1388
CTJoe Lieberman(202) 224-4041(202) 224-9750
ARBlanche Lincoln(202) 224-4843(202) 228-1371
MSTrent Lott(202) 224-6253(202) 224-2262
INRichard Lugar(202) 224-4814(202) 228-0360
FLMel Martinez(202) 224-3041(202) 228-5171
AZJohn McCain(202) 224-2235(202) 228-2862
MOClaire McCaskill(202) 224-6154(202) 228-6326
KYMitch McConnell(202) 224-2541(202) 224-2499
NJRobert Menendez(202) 224-4744(202) 228-2197
MDBarbara Mikulski(202) 224-4654(202) 224-8858
AKLisa Murkowski(202) 224-6665(202) 224-5301
WAPatty Murray(202) 224-2621(202) 224-0238
NEBen Nelson(202) 224-6551(202) 228-0012
FLBill Nelson(202) 224-5274(202) 228-2183
ILBarack Obama(202) 224-2854(202) 228-4260
ARMark Pryor(202) 224-2353(202) 228-0908
RIJack Reed(202) 224-4642(202) 224-4680
NVHarry Reid(202) 224-3542(202) 224-7327
KSPat Roberts(202) 224-4774(202) 224-3514
WVJohn Rockefeller(202) 224-6472(202) 224-7665
COKen Salazar(202) 224-5852(202) 228-5036
VTBernard Sanders(202) 224-5141(202) 228-0776
NYCharles Schumer(202) 224-6542(202) 228-3027
ALJeff Sessions(202) 224-4124(202) 224-3149
ALRichard Shelby(202) 224-5744(202) 224-3416
ORGordon Smith(202) 224-3753(202) 228-3997
MEOlympia Snowe(202) 224-5344(202) 224-1946
PAArlen Specter(202) 224-4254(202) 228-1229
MIDebbie Stabenow(202) 224-4822(202) 228-0325
AKTed Stevens(202) 224-3004(202) 224-2354
NHJohn Sununu(202) 224-2841(202) 228-4131
MTJon Tester(202) 224-2644(202) 224-8594
SDJohn Thune(202) 224-2321(202) 228-5429
LADavid Vitter(202) 224-4623(202) 228-5061
OHGeorge Voinovich(202) 224-3353(202) 228-1382
VAJohn Warner(202) 224-2023(202) 224-6295
VAJames Webb(202) 224-4024(202) 228-6363
RISheldon Whitehouse(202) 224-2921(202) 228-6362
ORRon Wyden(202) 224-5244(202) 228-2717

Toll-free numbers for Congress from Katymine:

1 (800) 828 - 0498
1 (800) 459 - 1887
1 (800) 614 - 2803
1 (866) 340 - 9281
1 (866) 338 - 1015
1 (877) 851 - 6437

Friday, December 14, 2007

Voters Boot Out Pro-Blackwater Board

crossposted on firedoglake late nite 13 december 2007

Voters in Potrero CA ejected all 5 pro-Blackwater members of the planning board Tuesday. Local opposition to the proposed private military training camp produced a 59% turnout that booted out the incumbents by significant margins.

If you're looking for job security, this board ain't it. Another three of the nine members were dismissed earlier when it became known they had been improperly appointed, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The ninth member opposes the training camp.

But don't be looking for used jackboots on ebay just yet, the big vote is still a year away, when the county Board of Supervisors makes their decision.

Blackwater VP Brian Bonflglio commented on this exercise in democracy with customary sensitivity for community relations:

“I don't care one way or the other,”

And God forbid the voters should have a say in the matter:

“I feel bad that people that I believe were serving the community were removed based on political influences,” Bonfiglio said. [egr bold]

Juls has the background in this Kos diary:

It was the nation's first ever electoral vote on Blackwater and it was a massive people-powered grassroots victory over the mercenaries. Every "stop Blackwater" candidate won by at least 63%.... [snip]

It is also a blistering statement by a very conservative town to reject the Bush world view. Our nation is not better served by having a privatized Army. There is nothing pro-troop about supporting Blackwater.

Refresh my memory here, Blackwater is fighting for the American way and democracy? Seems they just can't be bothered with actual pesky voters.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Waterboarding, Is That Like Snowboarding?

crossposted at firedoglake 11 december 2007

graphic by twolf

A parade of witnesses appeared this morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee Gitmo hearing, broadcast on C-span, to explain how it ever got this far.

Seton Hall Law Professor Mark Denbeaux got things rolling by shooting down the myth of all those dangerous guys in Guantanamo captured on the battlefield by American soldiers: all one of him. Of the 759 Gitmo prisoners, nearly all were brought in by other governments or were unlucky enough to be sold into slavery captured by bounty hunters.

Denbeaux explained the size of the bounty was large enough to provide for the financial security of an entire village. Troublesome neighbor? Problem solved. And hey, when Jane Harman's new House Unamerican Activities Committee gets going, you too can help round up your very own neighborhood terrorists.

But the prisoners at Gitmo, surely we believe Bush that these are dangerous people who will go right back into battle against American troops if we release them, right? Well, of the 30 that the administration keeps talking about, Denbeaux explained that 5 went to London to make a video about Gitmo; another 5 are the hapless Chinese Uighurs; and---my personal favorite---two of them were never in Guantanamo to begin with. Only 3 of them actually returned to battle.

In the next panel retired Rear Admiral John Hutson, now President of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, said he initially favored military commissions but now he's changed his mind. And for people who say we can't close Gitmo, he declares: "We can close it, let's not pretend we can't. We need to make a change. The time is long since past. We ought to demonstrate to the world what the United States stands for.”

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sheldon Whitehouse Video: Rule of Law, Part Two

video by selise of firedoglake 7 december 2007
part two of two

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) explains the Bush administration's egregious power grab in part two of his floor speech December 7. The text of the entire speech is available here.

Whitehouse summarizes with Bush's 3 new rules:

1. “I don’t have to follow my own rules, and I don’t have to tell you when I’m breaking them.”

2. “I get to determine what my own powers are.”

3. “The Department of Justice doesn’t tell me what the law is, I tell the Department of Justice what the law is.”

How did we ever get so far away from what is Constitutional, what is right, what is plain common sense? And how are we going to find our way back?


Sheldon Whitehouse Video: Rule of Law, Part One

video by selise of firedoglake 7 december 2007
part one of two

The administration makes up its own rules, then rejects the role of Congress and the Supreme Court in creating and interpreting what the Executive does. Welcome to the monarchy.

Glenn Greenwald was all over this a year ago with his terrific book How Would a Patriot Act: Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. Don't miss the first Spotlight review "Monarchy...again??"


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Firedoglake: Pull Up A Chair

crossposted 8 december 2007 at firedoglake

It's a Surprise!

Staring at the open box of 750 jigsaw pieces, each individually wrapped in a piece of toilet paper and scotch tape, I knew I'd been had---but good---by my six younger siblings.

They were hoping I would take the time to unwrap each piece, but instead I saved this creative treasure intact and it was re-gifted several times on other holidays. I like to think it's still out there somewhere, causing outrageous laughter for some hapless recipient.

Speaking of surprises, many years later when young egrDaughter was old enough to understand the idea of presents, she was all excited and helpful when taking a wrapped package over to my brother: "It's a camera! It's a surprise!"

Sometimes you even get the good stuff on video. Younger egrDaughter opened up the package with her Barbie house, containing all the little plastic stuff doomed to be broken or lost within 48 hours, and shouted "Now I know there's a Santa Claus, 'cause you said you would NEVER get this for me!"

You know, I love Dave Barry's wacky presents but he isn't the only one who can make us laugh at funny gifts or stories. I want to hear from you all about holidays past or present when you found yourself laughing aloud at something silly.

We've worked hard this week, it's time for some fun. So put the politics aside for a little while, pass the scotch tape please, and pull up a chair....

This mesmerizing photo from MarkyBon, flickr creative commons


Friday, December 07, 2007

In Support of Writers

If you have trouble with the click here, Use this link to WGA

Thank you!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Here's One For You

Love this version. Enjoy.

[Hey we can't be politics and raving all the time.]


Republicans Stall While Children Drown

crossposted at firedoglake 4 december 2007

I've got yer family values right here:

Republican Senator Tom Coburn is holding up legislation that would help prevent children from drowning in pool drain accidents.

Thirty-two children drowned and another hundred were seriously injured---by drain suction pulling out their intestines or trapping a limb---between 1985 and 2004 according to the Washington Post. John Edwards had a well-known case involving this kind of injury.

Legislation to require inexpensive raised drain covers was all set to pass when Sen. Coburn [a physician!] decided we couldn't afford the $7 million---spread over the next five years---so he put a hold on it. Gee this is what, about 10 minutes of the cost of the mess in Iraq?

Sponsor Debbie Wasserman Schultz explains it actually *saves* money overall: the long run the bill would probably save taxpayer dollars by preventing fatalities and costly injuries such as brain damage caused by near-drownings.

I'll tell you what we can't afford, is a Congress that won't take care of American citizens. Demand better: Stop killing Iraqis, start saving children's lives. Now was that so hard?

P.S. Feeling like Colombo here, just one more thing...Harry Reid, how come when a Republican puts a hold on legislation, that's honored, while Sen. Dodd's hold is ignored? Just askin'.

photoshop by twolf1


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Firedoglake: Sunday Talking Head Thread

crossposted at firedoglake 2 december 2007

"Do I have to watch?"

©2007 donna h chiarelli studio

Here's the Sunday talking heads line-up for today:

C-SPAN's Washington Journal -- 7:30am - Philip Klein, American Spectator, Reporter & Blogger; 9:00am - Keith Crane, RAND Corporation, Russia Analyst; 9:30am - Phoner From Caracas, Venezuela: Richard Lapper, Financial Times, Latin America Editor; 9:30am - Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.S.

ABC's This Week -- Gov. Mike Huckabee on Iowa and beyond; Roundtable with Peggy Noonan, Elisabeth Bumiller, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and George Will; and Steve Van Zandt talks about his foundation's work bringing rock and roll into the schools.

CBS' Face the Nation -- Senator John McCain (R-AZ); Obama chief strategist David Alexrod; Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson.

NBC's Meet the Press -- Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), just returned from Iraq; election roundtable with David Brody, David Gregory, Michele Norris, and Eugene Robinson; and E Street Band's Steve Van Zandt.

CNN's Late Edition -- President George Bush; Sen. Chris Dodd, (D-CT) Presidential Candidate; Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, Commander, Multi-National Corps-Iraq; Sen. Carl Levin, (D-MI) Chairman, Armed Services Committee; Sen. Arlen Specter, (R-PA) Judiciary Committee.

Fox News Sunday -- Karl Rove and DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen; FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith.

Firedoglake: Pull Up A Chair

crossposted at firedoglake 1 december 2007 on the new site


Ready for a vacation yet? I thought the hammock looked pretty inviting. Or as a friend says, ready to run screaming out the door?

The crazy season is upon us, the pressure to have a perfect holiday. And sometimes the suggested solutions are worse than the original problem. Now instead of buying something we have to make something [which if you've seen my arts and craft skills is SO not happening].

I typically race thru my holiday card list to hurry and get it done. Am wondering if this is quite the point. Might it be possible to send out fewer cards, and spend a moment to think about these people? Nah, back to work.

One of my friends said holiday preparation makes her so frazzled she dreams of attending someone else's celebration: "I'd like to just show up."

So I'm thinking of a little experiment this year---