Friday, January 31, 2014

one of my all time faves

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Les Girls

(this is not a post about the L-Word, although I dig that show in a completely heterosexual way)

We’ve been driving past the sign for years, but only recently has it become a topic of conversation.

My girl spoke of it first, saying to her brother: “I hate that sign.”
“That sign rocks!” said he, brimming with brotherly support.

Did I have to ask? Did my asking bring more attention to the sign, which would have otherwise disappeared back into the scenery?

But I did ask.

“It says less girls!” she exclaimed

Knowing that this was a pivotal moment in my parenting story, I quickly considered the options for my response.

I decided to go with: “ .....................crickets ...................."
Ever since that first conversation, the sign is often discussed. The analysis is becoming more sophisticated. My boy recently concurred that it is indeed a stupid sign, because they spelled “Les” wrong

I have found that the best, most mature earth-mother of the world way to handle this recurring glitch is to try for distraction when we approach the sign.

“look at all those birds on the telephone wire! How many do you think are up there?!”

“hey check it out - that bum has the same sneakers as daddy!”

“do you think they really put chicken beaks in the nuggets?”

But sometimes my mind is elsewhere, and conversation turns back to the stupid sign.

They took a closer look, and my boy asked what the word “nude” means.


“Birds? Bums? McD’s?"
“But it says “body shop”, what the heck?”
“want a pony?”

“I bet they get naked and like, dance around”

“Who would dance around NAKED?”

I’m going to have to find an alternative route to karate. I’m not ready for this.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Digital detox

Technology is great; it is, don't get me wrong. Most all of us reply on it everyday in SO many ways. Banking? Can you imagine life with no online banking? Or music? Can you imagine not having the ability to download something right now? Or not having an app like Soundhound to tell you what that awesome song was and by whom it was sung so that you can go and download it right now? Or not having the ability to text someone via your smart phone? What, you mean, wait for them to return your email? That is simply archaic! I want their response right now!

Funny thing is, it was not that very long ago that our phones weren't smart,  Facebook updates weren't popping up on the additional browser we leave open at work for just that purpose, and teenage girls weren't spending entire afternoons preparing for and then taking endless selfies.

When I think back, I've owned my iphone for less than 5 years. Admittedly, I was semi-late to the smart phone party. But let's say I was an early adapter and owned that Blackberry a few years prior. It's all still so recent! But moving faster than the High Speed Internet Starter, Essential, Preferred, Premier, Ultimate plan provided by your local cable carrier. (Actual names of Cox Cable's current Internet packages.)

Snapchat, Vine, Kik, WhatsApp, Pheed, I can't keep up with the ever growing-number of apps and websites that my tween already does, or will probably soon, use.

I'll admit it, this aspect of technology terrifies me. Not so much what she will post, or even the possibility that she will view inappropriate posts and photos, but the fact that sites like Creepy and GirlsAroundMe offer geolocation information through other social networking platforms.  If I allow my mind to go spend any time on this angle it doesn't take long for it to conjure up a very clear picture of both a pit bull and a fancy pants security system in my home.

But scary or not, it's all here to stay, and I am addicted as much as the next guy. I do have to say, though, that it's a love/hate relationship sometimes.

For me, there is a correlation between social media and FOMO. The fear of missing out phenomenon is real, and growing. We didn't used to know exactly what our people were up to at any point in time, unless we specifically inquired beforehand. Or, alternatively, we'd find out only later, when we met for dinner one night, let's say, or maybe via an uncharacteristically long chatty email. But today? Well we know where lots of people are, seemingly all the time -- there are photos full of fun and frivolity to prove it too!

Wait, where are they? That looks like so much fun! Why am I sitting here alone writing a blog post? Am I a loser with a capital L?

I also find myself bawling half the time I click on the shared links that show up on my FaceBook news feed. I mean, it's really good stuff, an amazing array of human expression at the click of my mouse. But all that beauty and creativity and emotion? It makes me weep. Ach, the humanity! And it sure as hell makes it hard to go back to editing some piece about 2-Hydroxyglutaric aciduria.

Which leads me to my next point, social media also distracts me from my job, which is, of course, the point.... But it can be a problem. My mind feels scattered the more I switch back and forth (duh), and at some points I honestly question whether I am developing some late-onset adult ADD.

There is no going back. That's a given. Social media and smart phones are here to stay, and do not try to get me to stop using either. But I am to the point where I need a bit of a digital detox. If not a true time out, then I think I may need to put some rules into place so that I don't get too sucked up by screen time.  My profession already has me staring at a computer monitor for 7 hours a day, which too much to begin with.

So I'm going to start slow on my digital diet and see how it goes. Something like no checking social media sites until my lunch break (which is not a break from electronic devices at all, just me eating in front of an electronic device), and maybe turning off all devices 2 hours before bedtime.

Actually, who am I kidding? Is that really going to help? I think I may instead have to resort to some of Megan Mulally's ideas below, which I found here (using that newfangled Google search technology).

15 Ways to Digitally Detox
Overwhelmed by the unrelenting reach of your digital devices?
Megan Mullally, actress/writer/singer/life guru, advises how to step away from it all.
1. Throw your phone in the toilet. Put the toilet in the trash. Leave the house. Burn the house down.
2. Buy the new Digital D-Tox app off iTunes or Google Play. Oh, wait. Maybe that’s a terrible idea.
3. Stop sexting and start actually having sex. It may seem weird at first, but it should all come back to you.
4. Feed your hands to a wild animal.
5. Tell a close friend to spray mace in your face every time you check your phone. Eventually, you will associate the pain with technology. Or with your friend. So let’s give this one a 50-50 chance of success.
6. Become Amish.
7. Build a time machine. Go back to the Ice Age. Become part of a Neanderthal family. Settle down. Destroy time machine.
8. Buy 1,000 Taco Bell Burrito Supremes. Never stop eating them.
9. Punch a cop in the face. Go to jail. Good luck getting on the Internet now, idiot!
10. Glue your iPad to your butt. Or, better yet, to a stranger’s butt
Make a rule that before you do anything technological, you have to explain how Twitter and Foursquare work to your parents. Yeah. That should do it.
Try to remember that before there was an Internet filled with adorable kitten pictures and videos, there was an actual world filled with adorable kittens.
13. Go to sleep. Don’t wake up until after the Rapture.
Start a zombie apocalypse.
Destroy all technology. Because if Mama can’t check her e-mail, ain’t nobody can check their e-mail. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Whaling City

It's hard to see the Whaling City -- or any city -- when one is within its boundaries.

Sure, one can go out on a boat, on the River, take a cruise out to Ledgie Light, and sail back to port and marvel at one's fair city while doing so . . .

That does make for a pretty great view.

But one can actually just drive on over to Fort Trumbull and get a pretty great view of our fair city -- without crossing any bridges or sailing on any oceanography boats -- as well.

Winter is a dastardly time -- "a mistake" says our friend Chuck -- but it does make for spectacular photo ops . . .

Clouds are fantastic in the winter . . .

. . . and the views of the sky and the bridge . . .

. . . and the industry, and ports, and steeples, and trains . . .

. . . well, it all comes together perfectly. It's New London.
It's the Whaling City.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Californian

I can’t find the post where I talk about how I’m shy of the guy, because the search engine on this blog is a woeful piece of shit. But I am shy of the guy. Not all guys, of course. There are many many guys in this world of whom I am not shy. But when it comes to the cable guy or the car guy, for example, I don’t wanna do it. I want my husband to do it. I am a progressive, passionate, articulate, big mouthed woman of the world and I want my boyfriend to do it. So lame.

Last week we were in need of both the cable guy and the car guy. Bill called the car guy for me, and made arrangements for the big fat stupid ungodly expensive repairs. We’ll come back to that.

The cable thing wasn’t a big deal at all… until it affected me directly. When I sat down with my family to queue up a movie on demand, and it didn’t work, I grabbed the phone and yelled at all the guys. Shy shmy, guys. Fix mama’s movie.

While my car was under repair, I drove Bill’s truck and he drove the westy. I like driving the truck, it’s powerful and roomy and fun. It’s bigger than my car, but it’s not one of those huge monster trucks that you need a step to get into. The only times I feel uneasy driving an unfamiliarly big(ger) rig is when I have to park it, and when I have to merge on the freeway during traffic. Traffic is a bitch no matter what you’re driving, but I’m good enough at it. There are, however, a couple of locations where freeways meet that can reduce me to that lame girl who wants her boyfriend to call the guy.

One of those hateful spots is traveled when we go to pick up our girl from girl scouts every other Wednesday at 5:30. From Friar’s Road, you get on the 163 south, but there are many many cranky people in line to merge onto the 8 freeway in both directions, and you have to pass through all of those lanes to stay on 163. You also have to stay in the right lane so you can exit on Washington West, not University, not Washington East.

I know, I know.

So anyway. I went to get my girl on one of the days I was driving Bill's truck. It hadn't been bad when I dropped her off, but I should have factored in more time for the later time and traffic sitch. I was running late, and the traffic was awful.

I came around the entrance ramp off of Friar's, immediately scoping out the friendly looking vehicles to see where I might find a place to squeeze in and pass through to the next lane. This is where the minor difference in vehicle size got me.. .I just didn't feel sure about how much space I needed, so I was being extra cautious. I was also running out of time before I ended up stuck on the 8 gridlock, the victim of a crippling inability to merge. Lame.

I saw my moment, I edged in and just at the point when it became clear that I was in and no one was going to bash into my rear end.... the truck stalled.

It stalled! I was halfway merged and literally in between 3 freeway lanes, and the truck stopped going. It stalled. I was all like: "ohmygodohmygodohmygodOHMYGODnoooooooooooooooOOOOOOOO!" in an alarmingly screechy wail. This was pretty much the worst possible scenario, on so very many levels. No.

I was certifiably freaking out, but something else was also happening. Despite the incessant irritation of my whining, I knew what to do and I played through the scenario in my head. This would be bad for the traffic and I'd need help to get off the road, but I knew what I had to do.Radio off, hazards on, put it in neutral, eyes on the mirrors, try the ignition... pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease... it started.

Crisis averted. It was like a 10 second crisis, but it was a crisis fer sher. I waved my apologies, continued the merge, took a breath got my girl.

It really is nice to have a boy to help with some of the tasks I find unsavory, like calling the guy, but we all knew I could handle it, right?


Monday, January 27, 2014

We can't always feel good

Well, here I am employing Jacquie's new-ish trick.

I intended to write something new, I did. But well, I have not been feeling the best, and I just got a text from my ex husband telling me that my middle girl is not feeling well either, and is, in fact, at home sick instead of at school today. Oh, and my youngest daughter shat her pants in the middle of the night last night, which required ample clean up including a quick bath (motherhood is nothing if not glamorous)...all of which lead me to this long-ago post.....


Cookie toss

I'm going to employ a technique of Jacquie's, and provide a pre-post warning.

Warning: This post contains descriptions of not-so-happy people feeling unwell. Proceed at your own risk.
The week before the week before Christmas was an interesting one at our house, and by interesting I mean colorful, and by colorful I mean of the technicolor yawn variety. It was an act in three parts, if you will.

First there was Anneke’s performance. She told us she was not feeling well in the morning, and honestly she was not looking well either, but this was a Saturday in December, which meant the schedule was nonstop.

First there was a holiday dance performance that both she and her sister were to perform in, then a gymnastics birthday party to attend, then we needed to go immediately home for her step dad’s birthday celebration.

She timed it well, somehow managing to get in her bit between activities. She danced her way through her performance and did quite well; upon arrival at the gymnastics venue she was looking a bit worse – pale and somewhat listless, but still determined to participate. By the end of the party she was looking green and resting in the car, seat way back.

After fetching her younger sister and both gift bags at the end of the party, we started our short drive home.

She started up almost immediately.

“How much farther? I’m not feeling good. Really, mom, I’m not.”

“We’re close, very close, you’ll be okay,” I replied, but I knew she wouldn’t. I handed her her goodie bag and told her to empty it out and hold on to it “just in case.” She did as she was told, and used it. For what seemed like forever. It just kept coming. Her younger sister, sitting right next to her stated, “I’m not watching this,” as she turned her head to the side looked out the window and continued sucking on her Now ‘n Later. Luckily my girl had only had water in the few hours preceding the incident, so the copious spew was clear-ish and as far as I could tell, odorless. But even though she had amazing aim, and managed to get all her emissions into the paper goodie bag, the bag was no match for the wet, heavy load. Just as I managed to dump clothes out of a plastic bag and hand it back to her, the bottom of her now ruined goodie bag burst open, leaving all her recently emptied stomach on her lap.

She looked pathetic, with her soaking wet legs and spit dripping from her lip, but all I could do is laugh, and tell her I hoped she felt better because there were people coming over as soon as we got home. In fact, the first guests were arriving as we pulled up.

Merrell started feeling unwell the next afternoon following our return from The Nutcracker, and did not eat much of her macaroni and cheese or carrots at dinner. I should have known better, because I swear every time this girl pukes it’s some form of semi-digested mac 'n cheese. But I live in denial at times, and really did not see it coming. If I did, I would NOT have put her in her usual top bunk.

But come it did. Right off the top bunk onto the bottom bunk. This stuff was not colorless, nor was it odorless. No, no, it was orange and stinky. Luckily, it hit the sheets but not her sleeping sister in the bunk below. Bunk assignments were quickly switched and my poor girl continued to hurl into a trashcan placed lovingly by the side of the bed.

She was fine by noon the next day. But not without managing to pass it on.

My husband looked a bit off a few mornings later, but assured me he felt fine.

Turns out, he did not. Because a few hours later I received this email:

“…Threw up in the bathroom at Ralphs. Yes I know, I "ralphed" at Ralph's. I did finish shopping after though. No quitter here.”

Poor man. It hit him in the produce section. And I’m assuming it was colorful, although I did not ask for details.

I do, however, have to ask, once again, who names a grocery store Ralphs? I could not believe it when I moved here way back when. Ralphs? Really? Ralphs? Who’s going to shop there?

Sick people, that’s who.

Here's to a healthy, happy 2010!

Friday, January 24, 2014

How I Love Luncheon

What I love is luncheon.

Mistah and I have a long-standing tradition -- two years is a long tradition, in my book -- of going out to luncheon to celebrate the Good Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr's birthday . . . .

And oh what a time we had . . .

Oysters . . . 

. . . and Dead Soldiers.


Caesar Salad . . . 

. . . and Dog Watch Salad.

And ah, the entrées . . .  lobster ravioli . . . 

. . . and a tuna burger . . . wait that's not right . . . 

. . . there, that's better. Tuna Love.

Don't you just love luncheon?

On a beautiful winter day?

In a cool place?

Yeah. I love luncheon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

throwback thursday, january 2011

This one seemed timely because I will always remember my girl's ire on the ice, and she is in my heart after having a rough day. I've been missing my mom, too, and this post reminds me of Corey fortitude, and celebrating what's to be celebrated, and how much fun we always have when we're together. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Oh, I've got photos

What's that you say, Ellie? You hope that someone has photos of the ice rink in Millennium Park?

Oh yes, sister. I've got photos!

As Ellie alluded, our massive group had plans to divide and conquer the windy city that day. Although I wept with angst every time anyone left me, ever, I managed to pull it together enough to capture at least one shot of our smaller group on yon side of the ol' beanie weanie.

Body language translation: only chumps choose bookstores/bars/museums over skating!

Ellie and Jane (I think) carried a combined total of eight pairs of skates during the bean adventure; it wasn’t until much later that someone had the brilliant epiphany that everyone could  technically carry his or her own pair.

Have you ever seen a more adorable glimmer of joyful anticipation?!

We were thankful to have that huge assortment, because the line for skate rental would have required endurance of an hour or longer in the frigid cold.We had ourselves a joyful glimmer, but many among us were grasping it by threads.

Aside: note the difference between those who own flattering headgear for long term endurance of the season and those who grab whatever is made of fleece, thinking: "Fuck my good looks, it's cold!"

We smugly eschewed the rental line and went into a wretched little room equipped with benches to select whichever skates we could find to fit our respective tootsies. Mine were perfect, but Jane sported a size 9 men’s hockey skate on her wee size 7 geisha feet! This room was a cesspool of humanity, mostly inhabited by children bellowing MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM and moms sweetly suggesting that the beckoning children stifle themselves or face their untimely demise.

We finally got everyone into skates and toddling precariously toward the ice, so very eager to test our talent and the ankles that in youth had never let us down. At the exact moment we prepared to set off, the whistle blew, indicating that it was time for the Zamboni.

I swear, it was the same guy who used to torture us at Crystal Rink, in conspiracy with the evil lifeguards who enforced adult swim at Shorehaven. I wished ferverently for a rotten tomato in hand to chuck at the Zambonista’s fool head. It took just under 75 bazillion hours for him to adequately encircle the ice until it sparkled and shone like … um, ice.

And then, we were off:

Is that the unibomber?

My girl cried in despair the whole time, despite the fact that she was literally being carried aloft by her mother and her aunt. This smile appeared only when we had agreed to let her stop and I told her: "I hope you'll make this a good memory, because you did really well and it was fun."

If only we could see her ginormous feet.

This guy considered himself the king of the rink.

He even offered to teach his younger cousin how it's done. Although I'm not exactly sure that shouting: "just go fast!" is technically considered teaching...

Through it all, my girl Ellie and I wore huge grins, marveling at the muscle memory that escorted us around and around on that little freezing patch of ice in the middle of Chicago. It was so fun! We never left the rink, the two of us, until absolutely everyone else had disappeared back into the pit of despair to de-skate and wait. They were patient, though. One of the greatest things about that week together was how patient everyone was with each other, each person allowing the other to indulge in her own winter midwest adventures without judgment or ire. Ellie and I loved that skating, and we stayed 'til the bitter end and then took a moment to try and capture the happy with a self portrait:

Here's where the grumpy people in line for skates could have come in handy to help us by taking a shot, but they were too grumpy. 
When it was finally time to leave, it was c-c-c-c-coooooold. The smart thing would have been to hightail it over to our warm cars and head back to Jane's warm house. But we were right there in the middle of the city, and Jane, Ellie and I were in agreement that we should make at least a rudimentary attempt to find a nearby pitstop.

Less than two blocks away, there was a bakery, with cocoa and cookies but tragically,  no pie:

Guess who quipped: "What kind of bakery doesn't have pie?"

I may or may not have fallen UP the stairs in that bakery.

But the best part was that two doors down was the Chicago institution, Miller's Pub, where polite young gentlemen gave us their barstools and Damien gave us big people our drinks:

Photo by Damien

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Never never land

My kids are growing up. This is no surprise. So far I am really enjoying my kids getting older and more mature. My oldest is 12 and overall I like the age, this pre-teenage stage. Sure, she can be a sassy pants, and she is a bit too full of herself sometimes, especially if she has a friend in tow, but she is funny and kind and seemingly well adjusted for a middle schooler.

But it can't be denied that she is changing. Her friends are taking a more central role in her life, which is normal and good and as it should be.

Unless you are her younger sister.

My middle daughter, age 9, is a rock. She is good natured and a good listener and smart and interested in the world and typically lets things roll of her back. The poor dear sleeps in the only downstairs bedroom, which is even lacking heat. Does she complain? No! She loves her little subterranean cave. And prides herself on never being cold. "Maybe just one more blanket, mom," is about as fussy as she gets.

She and my middle schooler are close, traveling together as they do, from my house, to their dad's house, back to my house, etc. They are together twice as much as they are with either parent. They are their own little family within a family.

I have no doubt that they will grow up to be extremely close friends. The kind of friends that only sisters can be. (Of which I have no clue, seeing as I have no sisters. But Jacquie and Ellie totally know what I'm talking about. I think.)

But right now? Well right now is a little rough. Right now there is a lot of fighting and hurt feelings and meanness. Jacquie told me that her girl, who is friends with both of mine is quite impressed with my girls' fighting. (I'm pretty sure you could substitute horrifyingly amazed or completely freaked out for the word impressed.)

It can be quite a show. And it's worse, of course, when there is a friend around. My middle daughter is no longer the only playmate in that situation. She is second string for sure, and it can be hard.

I went down to tuck her into bed Sunday night and found her crying into her pillow. She rarely does this; I was thrown off, and of course asked her what her tears were about. After hesitating for a bit she admitted that she was sad because her sister didn't like her anymore, didn't want to spend time with her anymore.

It was a bit of an exaggeration, but there was some stone cold truth in it, and the disappointment and loss that she was feeling were palpable. She felt so left behind and alone. I held my tears for her back, and told her it was normal and nothing she had done -- that her sister was headed into the early teen years and that we might not recognize her for a while. Well, this was so helpful, that she re-burst into tears and sobbed, "I don't want her to grow up!"

Oh my fucking god, I thought, I'm not sure I do either! You have a point, my girl, you do! How many more months will she beg to sleep in my bed? Or tell me that she misses me, or want to paint my toes? How many more days until she's too cool to play monster with both sisters, or build a fort, or dress a doll for her youngest sister?

We are going to lose her!!!

It really hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt my girl's pain, her sense of being left out, left behind, too little, abandoned, but also realized my own, the real truth that my oldest's childhood is fleeting, at best. And that there is no going back.

Where the hell is Peter Pan when you need him?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Too Soon

Too Young.

Owen's dad, the Inimitable Woody Poole.

Too Soon.

Victoria's mom, the Incomparable Pat Sorensen.

Too tragic.

Too soon.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy Birthday, and thank you for more than the day off

August 28, 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fiction Friday: this shit changes you!

Hey, well, it's been a looong time since I've thrown up a Fiction Friday (pun intended). But I read something the other day, about fiction, that I found pretty amazing....

Neuroscience research finds that reading fiction can boost brain function. Reading fiction that resonates with you can actually cause changes in the brain that persist, at least for a couple of days. And maybe longer.

A study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (this is not Fox News evidence, people) found that participants "showed heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, on the mornings following the reading assignments."

I mean, how many times over your academic career did your teachers and professors tell you that reading will make you a better writer? That it will improve your overall language performance? Well they weren't just bullshitting you!

The other, more surprising finding, at least for me, was that there were changes in the central sulcus of the brain, which is the primary sensory motor region of the brain. Movement? Say what?

The authors state, "Neurons of this region have been associated with making representations of sensation for the body, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition. Just thinking about running, for instance, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running."

Although this sounds like something a social scientist would write, the neuroscientists go on to say that "The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist. ...We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else's shoes in a figurative sense. Now we're seeing that something may also be happening biologically."

Wow. That is so cool, and I can definitely relate. And the fact these changes last "at least a few days" really resonates too. Some reads don't go away for a while, right? You know what I'm talking about, where you find yourself thinking about Lily Owens' world of bees and honey and the Black Madonna, or Antonio Marez and Ultima in New Mexico, the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic,Vianne Rocher in Paris, or Lisbeth Salander is Sweden straight into the next week, and sometimes a lot longer than that. These characters, and others, definitely worm their way into your mind, into your reality, and I guess, when you think of it that way, it's kind of obvious that they've (they story itself has) changed  your brain?

I've actually had a hard time with fiction lately, only memoirs and nonfiction, if that, have been able to capture my attention, but this new information may just be the nudge I need to boost my brain function via a well told story...

If interested, you can read the Emory Health Science new release here:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Don't You Love Food?

Around here, we love food.

We especially love food on a bright October day, with the piano table festooned, and the deck doors open . . .

. . . and a glass of a lovely crisp white pouring . . .

. . . and a lovely Lisa S.'s lovely pink-sheathed arm joining . . .

But let's face it people. This is not San Diego. We have like 12 seconds of nice weather a year here and although we greet those 12 seconds with gusto and verve and élan and enthusiasm, most of the year around here is not temperate.

So we make do.

Actually, we make cauliflower soup.

But how, you ask? How do we make this cauliflower-and-onion-and-spices concoction . . .

. . . with extra roasted cauliflower, I might add, into honest-to-goodness (did I just say honest-to-goodness?) soup . . .

With, my people, a Smart Stick.

Your own blogger Jacquie picked my name in the family Kristina Kringle exchange, and *I* was the benefactor of an honest-to-goodness (I did just say that) immersion blender.

Soup, baby.

But what, I ask you, is a day in the life without a Mistah Schleckah Still Life?

I know. Don't you just love?