summer

we're two weeks into summer break, the crazy hasn't yet hit, and yet it still feels like it's all going so quickly.

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last night henry was at a friend's house for the night, and the friend lives right next to a local park, where a summer festival was taking place. they were planning to walk over and do some activities, eat some hot dogs, watch the fireworks. a typical summer night, and i'm amazed that he is old enough to do that without mom & dad. and yet, i'm also so excited for him, that he is entering this phase of freedom and independence.

at home, harper went to bed a little after 9:30 after a long day, begging that she really wanted to sleep in my room (where this has come from in the last year, i have no idea. but it's driving me crazy.) and that she just can't sleep alone. where i'm enjoying the view of henry's growing maturity, i'm hiding my head behind my hands at harper's abyssmal bedtime and mealtime behaviors. less than 20 minutes after getting her in bed, i started hearing the pops of fireworks. sure enough, harp came banging down the stairs, complaining about the noise and how she can't go to sleep because she's scared of it. i tried to reason with her that it was just fireworks, but that didn't work. so i went upstairs and told her to come into my room to look out the window. sure enough ... we could see a fireworks display going off in some 'burb on the other side of the lake. (i don't think it was from the same festival where henry was ... the direction wasn't quite the same.) and then someone who lives on the lake started to shoot off fireworks. as we were watching the display, a memory hit me: last summer, on july 4th, we had opted to go to the new neighborhood and see if we could see either of the nearby towns' fireworks displays, since they were, pretty much, in our front yard. we ended up at our former neighbor's house to watch with them, but after awhile, harper wanted to go for a walk. we walked down to where our house was being built, we climbed up the temporary wood steps to the upstairs, which was framed in but not yet walled, and we sat in what would be my bedroom and watched the fireworks going off across the lake. then we walked to the open area that would be the loft window, and we watched the fireworks from the local towns. and we whispered that next year, we would be able to watch fireworks from our house again if we wanted. a year later, we were doing exactly that. minus all the mosquitos.

about 15 minutes into it, i said, "harper ... look at the wild part of the yard!" (the above picture? taken in the "wild part." the back third of our lot was planted with native grass seeds and left to grow. i love it and have big plans for it ... i'm sure the neighbors aren't as sure.) she looked ... paused ... and then spotted them: "fireflies!!"

now, we've lived in minnesota for 15.5 years. we've NEVER seen fireflies. i'd read that we don't have them because we're too far north ... that the lights of the city interfer with their light communication ... but suddenly, we have fireflies. and my kids, who have only had the pleasure of chasing after those little fancy bugs a few times in their lives when we've been in indiana during the summer, can now add "fireflies" to this list of childhood memories.

and once again i was hit with how "right" things suddenly seem. this PLACE we've found for ourselves ... the being a part of a community instead of just existing in our own sphere ... the peace of living in a little lake town, full of bait shops and liquor stores, surrounded by farms, where everyone waves, and the night sky is dark enough for fireflies. this is the childhood i wanted for my kids. i understand that life is what you make of it, and you have to bloom where you're planted. and we've always done a pretty good job of it. but there's something so timeless about being here ... the bikes, the bugs, the local festivals, the kids walking down the hill with fishing poles, the kids on the corner with a lemonade stand, the neighbors who walk over just to say hi, the four-lane local grocery where the check-out ladies recognize you and chat. when we moved to minnesota, never in a million years would i have said that this town is where i wanted to be. we loved the city and the vibrancy and the opportunity. but you know what? yesterday, we drove henry 30 minutes into downtown, watched "blue man group," signed the "vote no" pledge for the marriage equality ammendment, grabbed a snack at brew pub on a corner, then came home, about as far - in distance and atmosphere - from The City as you can get. and both sides of our world came together in perfect alignment. you need the yin with the yang, otherwise that balance is lost. maybe that's why i suddenly feel peace and contentment: i was missing the yin-part of life. the part that was wrapped up in the fireflies.


time for common sense to rule the senate.

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sure, jon stewart is satirical. sure, he's contextual. sure, he's a comedian. he also lets experts do the talking.

right now, every member of senate needs to listen to elizabeth warren. they need to put aside petty partisanship, and put aside their promises to lobbyists, and they need to seriously consider what their votes will do to our economy and our country.

wall street's money canNOT dictate what happens to this country. obama needs to put on his tough guy tighty whiteys and be the president and tell these guys that they canNOT let the gordon geckos of the world make the decisions. greed is NOT good; it's screwed over millions of people for the benefit of a few.

it ISN"T about socialism. it's about giving the people their money back. titans of business who can essentially ruin the lives of thousands of families in one selfish swipe should NOT be given multimillion dollar bonuses for doing so.

let some of our money trickle back down to us, asshats. you had your day in the sun. now it's time to be a little decent and let main street have its money back. people have very simple dreams, and the wall street ceos are making those dreams impossible. and congress and the senate are allowing it every time a wall street ceo lobbies them.


water is the new black

i'm sure many of you (especially the scrappy types) have seen a lot of chatter around the interwebs lately about water. specifically, clean water for places which have none, for children who have to bathe and drink from the same puddles that the animals use. tara whitney has had a water drive, cathy zielske has had a water drive, and i'm sure there have been others. i just don't get out much.

here's the thing: i have a little water push with an upside for you.

last-minute gift-giving, support of a rising artist, AND water.

how could it possibly get better than that?

see this hottie?

image from photos-h.ak.fbcdn.net this is my cousin, luke. luke recently graduated with a degree in ceramics and he's doing what so many of us would love to do: he's trying to make a go of his own studio, with his own products. amazing.

here's the water connection: in his family, there is a strong connection to service, and water seems to have stepped to the forefront. his brother, abe, and his wife have traveled to africa to dig wells for villages. abe is an engineer, and used his brainy skills to provide something for people who otherwise wouldn't receive this most essential building block of life and health.

and luke's way of helping? through his art. this mission of his goes all the way through to his studio name: mudlove.

the clay he throws is mud. the mud is created by adding water. water makes dirt into something beautiful.

water makes villages something beautiful, too.

20% of luke's profits go directly toward providing clean drinking water in africa. that is a huge pledge on the part of a young artist just getting his footholds in the arena, with students loans to pay off, studio space to cover, etc.

i know there are only a few shopping days left ... maybe consider it a gift for yourself after the holidays for a job well done? ... but the next time you have a present to buy and you want something unique, perhaps consider supporting not only a young artist taking a leap, but also young children in a land far away who have never had a drink of clean water.

getting something and giving something back at the same time is such a great way to go, don't you think?

 


disney, why why WHY???

the princess and the frog.

image from www.jimhillmedia.com
harper has been waiting waiting waiting for this movie. for, like, a year. she's seen the teasers in her princess magazines. she's seen the teasers on tv and in the theater. she's seen the books and stickers and dolls at the store. she wants to see this movie. she wants a tiana barbie for christmas. she wants to immerse herself in a new fairy tale.

so ... what's the problem?

disney gives us a new story ... with tarot cards and voodoo.

really, disney?

now, i'm not some uptight bible-thumping conservative. you should know that about me by now; that proclamation shouldn't come as a shock. but am i ready to explain tarot cards and voodoo magic to my four-year-old? merciful heavens, no.

no.

&%*$&%*# disney!!! what do i do? do we go and use it as a learning moment? do i boycott on principle?

this is a hard decision for me. i encourage my kids to learn about diversity of cultures and religions. one of the things i love about this country is that it was built on the freedom to be true to yourself. and i totally get what disney is doing with this movie, as far as the heritage and history of new orleans goes. but there is also a part of me that, regardless of that liberalism, doesn't want to introduce things to which we are morally opposed for reasons of entertainment. and voodoo? i'm a little opposed to that.

gah. what to do? has anyone else come up against this conundrum? what are you doing about it? i really need some input here, because i'll either break my little girl's heart or end up going against my principles. and i don't want to do either.

 


sleepless.

why am i still awake at 2:30 a.m.?! good question. i've been sick this week ... caught what marc and the kids kicked around last week, and ended up sleeping away monday and part of tuesday. i think my body is in a state of shock as to what to do with that surplus of rest, because the past two nights? wide awake. can't sleep.

but tonight one of the reasons i can't sleep is because i'm thinking. about many things, but about this in particular:

skin deprivation.

i had lunch today with my friend christine, and she mentioned that as she adjusts to the loss of her husband to brain cancer, what she misses - what, she's learned, widows and widowers inevitably come to miss - is the loss of skin. touching. the warmth of another person.

as i laid in bed tonight, listening to marc snore, i got to thinking ... if i were to lose him, i couldn't imagine the thought of touching someone else's skin. but at some point, i'm sure, human touch becomes so strong an urge, like a survival instinct, that you eventually crawl over that hurdle and begin to come alive again.

i've become a much more touchy-feely person than i ever thought i was. something about marc and the kids ... i need to touch them all the time. know they are there. let them know i am here. with my kids, it's a memory thing; to remember how small their hand is in mine, what the shape of their head feels like, that velvety-ness that is a child's cheek, that smooth space on the back of their neck. these things won't last, they change every day, and i won't always be granted access to stroke their hair, pat the bottoms, kiss their heads. but with marc, it's different. it's a spouse thing, i guess, but there's something so comforting in the tactile. rubbing my hands along his chest, smoothing my thumb across the scruffiness of his chin, tracing the edge of his lips - even though he hates it, but lets me do it anyway. it's how i end my day, just as the way he ends his day is to pat my rump one final time after i roll over to go to sleep.

there are so many ways in which we have a hold on the people we love, but shouldn't it all start and end with touch? when kids are born, they are immediately laid upon the mother's chest. skin is the first thing they feel in the outside world.

i recently read an amazing book called "here if you need me," by kate braestrup. her husband was a maine state trooper, who was thinking about switching careers to be a minister when he was killed in the line of duty. through her grief, kate decided to finish his dream, and herself became an ordained chaplain, working with search and rescue teams. now, while this is a powerful story, what does this have to do with touch? after her husband's death, she decided that she should be the last person to touch him; that he should not leave this world being washed and dressed by a stranger when it was her duty as a wife to take care of him.

that was so powerful to me, and it made me think for months: could i do that, if something were to happen to marc or one of the kids? then again, how could i not? i'm not sure i could let any of the three people i love most in this world be cared for by someone else in their final moments. i know every inch of each of them, know exactly what they feel like, and no one else could wash their faces, brush their hair, button their shirt with the love needed. i admire ms braestrup and the courage she had to request and then carry out that desire. and by golly, i will do my best to do the same if, heaven forbid, that day comes. because skin, touch, is the most personal gift we can give.

so now i'll head up to bed, and i'll pray for health to return to our house, pray for christine to find comfort, pray that she finds a new person to touch, if her heart opens up to that again, and pray that marc, whose skin i love and crave above all else, stops snoring. because i am ready to sleep.

Marc


i'm in tears.

literally. sobbing through laughter and smiles.
what a proud, amazing, unforgettable moment.

and i'm all alone. dancing in the living room. crying through laughter.

though the boos from mccain's followers, even as he urges them to respect the vote, threaten to dampen my mood, i won't let it. no one can be made happy all of the time. and if the shoe was on the other foot, my tears would not accompany a smile.

but the future is ahead of us. and it is bright.

thank you, america.

... adding this, now that i've watched his acceptance speech:

to those of you who don't like obama, who don't believe in him, who DO believe in the lies and slanders that you've been fed over the past year ... please ... open your heart over the next four years. try to see what we see, and try to understand what it is that we see and feel when we listen to him speak. this election goes beyond party lines, it goes beyond race, it goes beyond platforms and issues. it is about hope that things can be better. it is about hope that our country is turning the corner and becoming the place it was always meant to be.

i hope your lives are better four years from now, not that we can say "told you so," but that we can say, "now you understand!" it was never about mccain or palin; it was always about what we envisioned the world could be with a breath of fresh air.

and i love REM ... i do ... so i have to edit one more time to post this. how great would it have been to be at this concert at this moment?! wow.


last one.

tomorrow's the day! finally, right? my gosh ... how long has this election cycle been?? seriously. regardless of how fed up you are, or whether you still don't know where your vote will go, please VOTE. it's your right. and whether you believe in my politics or are the polar opposite, every vote matters. unless, of course, you disagree with my politics and don't feel like voting ... then by all means, stay home and watch regis. ha.

but here's my last political statement, if you will, then it's on to happier things. like, maybe ... a book giveaway later in the week? a win-before-you-can-buy, perhaps?

;o)

Obama/Biden vs McCain/Palin
what if things were switched around? think about it: Would the country's collective point of view be different? Could racism be the culprit?

Ponder the following:

What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who became addicted to painkillers?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard? What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

What if Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to display a serious anger management problem?

What if Michelle Obama's family had made their money from beer distribution?

You could easily add to this list….. Educational Background:

What if Mccain graduated from Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations. Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

What if Sarah Palin graduated from the University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science. Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

vs.

Barack Obama - United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Joe Biden - Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study University of Idaho - 2 semesters -journalism Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

Education isn't everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world. Don't we expect a little more from our most powerful leaders? Don't we want our president and vice president to be more than "just like us"?

You make the call.

credit to an email from my dear friend, kellie.


i find this interesting ...

19vt2

obama resoles his shoes on the campaign trail.
michelle obama wore a $150 dress on "the view." and buys from the gap, not valentino.
sarah palin and her family have been outfitted in $150k worth of designer threads for the campaign ... paid for with donor money.
john mccain's wife wore $300,000 worth of clothes and accessories on ONE NIGHT of the convention.

let's see if we can figure out who has a better handle on what average americans are going through right now, shall we?

for $150k, a family could pay medical expenses ... college expenses ... the mortgage ... pay off debt ...

for $300k, a family could buy an average home in most cities, a way above average home in smaller towns ("real" america, palin might say) ... send a couple of kids to college ... cover the costs of treating diseases that aren't covered by hmo because they were deemed "pre-existing" ... put money in the bank as a safety net ... donate to charitable organizations that help the less fortunate ("spreading the wealth," a socialist might say) ...

huh. i'm just gonna think about this for a bit.

while i'm thinking, watch this video, and read this article. especially if you are a conservative/republican. it's some powerful stuff, from your own backers:


we're better than this.

i've sat back for the past week and watched everything that's been happening on the campaign trail of the obama and mccain camps. i've been reading about their rallies, about the things their supporters are doing and saying.

here's a small sampling:

mccain's rallies are growing smaller, louder, and more vicious. they are regurgitating the hateful vitriol that the mccain camp is feeding them. they are racist, fascist, hate-mongering, intolerant, and small-minded. they urge violence - cries of "terrorist!" "kill him!" and "die!" ring out. and what do their leaders do? smile and nod. keep flaming the fire.

obama's rallies and growing larger, louder, happier, enthusiastic, and optimistic. and there are ever more republican faces in the crowd, smiling and looking for hope.

15 minutes from my house on friday night, mccain spoke at a high school. the crowd started to go into loud, hateful mode and mccain - perhaps because deep down he's decent? perhaps because he knows that he's started this fire and it could spill over into a national tragedy come january if he doesn't try to squelch it? - actually told an audience that obama is a decent guy who they don't need to fear as president, he just happens to disagree on the fundaments of policy.

and the crowd? they BOOED mccain for saying that.

they booed him.

i thought, as a country, we'd moved beyond this. i had no idea racism and fear and willingness to be led like sheep was still so pervasive.

here's the thing, people: generations have fought for the right for a peaceful, equal country. we are on the cusp of something extraordinary, and instead of america embracing it with optimism and pride, small factions are becoming increasingly vocal about just how backward and unenlightened and ignorant they really are.

all it takes is a look at a mccain/palin rally side-by-side with an obama/biden rally:

wow. from hatred and yelling and looks of pure evil, to cheering and laughter in the rain. seriously - what country do we want to live in? i would rather cheer in a rain of hope and optimism any day than align myself with people so full of their own sense of self-righteousness that listening to the truth is beyond them.

two weeks ago i sent out an mail to some friends and family. in it, there was a story from a young woman who was trying to get from the miami airport to her new husband in norway. she was told she would have to pay a $100 surcharge for her worldly possessions that were now in two suitcases. she started to cry when she realized she couldn't pay the charge. a voice spoke up behind her, offering to pay. it was barack obama. this was 20 years ago when he was a poorly paid community organizer on the south side of chicago, and yet he did a wonderful thing for this woman without any expectations of agenda. when he started to run for office several years ago, she sent him a $100 campaign donation, and now says she is so proud to have had that experience all those years ago.

i read that story and thought, "how wonderful! a story about genuine character in a person who is running for the office of president." and i sent it out.

one of the people i sent that to sent it on to her own group of people, and then replied to not only her group but to mine and started a firestorm. her group, obviously, was in disagreement with my politics. it became a ridiculous back-and-forth, until one of her group sent out a link to the list that linked to a hate site about obama. a site that lists him as a terrorist, a muslim, and every other cliche lie that the republicans have put out there. this man, who i assume is fairly well educated and a christian because he is on my friend's mailing list, seriously bought into the hate machine and took it as truth.

the most important thing we, the democrats, can do right now is try to get the truth out there. if obama wins in november, there will be a small but vicious group of dangerous minds out there who will be a threat to not only our national security but also to this wonderful family man who is inspiring people all over the world.

it's unlikely these people will ever deign to learn the truth, but in case we run up against one willing to listen, here are some sites they need to see and read:

snopes.com (click on obama in the hottest urban legends tab)
factcheck.org (a non-partisan look at the rumors and platforms of political candidates)
mediamatters.org
politifact.com
fightthesmears.com (yes, this is obama's site. he's been proactively addressing all the lies about him since the beginning of his campaign.)

i look around my multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city, i look at the faces of my kids, and i have to believe that this country is on an upswing of acceptance. dr king dreamed of a world in which people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. well, quite honestly, if you call barack obama "bob," pretend he's white, and put him and his rallies up against mccain and palin and their rallies, whose content of character speaks to the kind of world you want to live in?