Tuesday, May 31, 2011



Yellow Bathroom with Blue Ball

Peonies 10:00 AM - Day 5 - Overblown



This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?
-- Mary Oliver

Mesmerized


I knew I'd love Terence Malick's new movie The Tree of Life. I knew it the first time I saw a trailer on the big screen, and this is a movie that you must watch on the big screen. People cry pretension or boring or too cerebral or he's out there, but I sit in my chair and open my eyes and literally fall into his movies, lost. I see my ancestors in this movie; I see my beginning; I see my mother and my motherhood; I see my lost love's beginning and his father; I see everything, it seems. The spell isn't broken for the rest of the day and I move as if underwater, sea-grasses blowing, eternity a sandy beach of solitary people recognizing one another, at last.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Peonies - Day 4 - Memorial Day




After the bloodiest and most divisive war in American history, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic instituted the holiday at Arlington Cemetery in 1868 "For the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land."
Though many states in the south refused to observe Memorial Day fully and continued to honor their Confederate dead on a separate day, the entire country adopted the day after World War I as a day to honor soldiers fallen in any war. Since a Congressional act in 1971 the last Monday in May has been observed as a national holiday in nearly every state, ensuring a three day weekend.

In lieu of my own memorializing of the war dead, I offer my peonies and my past two posts for this day:
Monday, May 31, 2010

Singing the Warriors Back

Last week I got the usual slew of chain emails with all the pithy reminders to honor our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. I also saw many Facebook status updates with the admonitions that our liberties have all been gained with blood. On Saturday morning, I had the honor of attending a three-hour benefit for Insight LA, an organization that promotes and teaches mindfulness classes. I sat with one very good friend and six hundred other people inside of a beautiful church and listened to Jack Kornfield, a clinical psychologist who trained as a Buddhist monk and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He regaled us with hysterically funny stories, led us through some profound sitting meditations and kept us all rapt for the entire three hours. But it was his story of an ancient Irish warrior that struck me, especially as it pertained to Memorial Day. The warrior returned from successful battle still filled with warrior rage, with the wild and burning success of rampage, so heightened that his fellow villagers knew that he couldn't stop, couldn't begin to be normal, again, without help. First, all the women of the village lined up in one great long line and bared their breasts. That slowed him down. Second, they caught the warrior and dunked him into several vats of freezing cold water. Third, they tied him up and sang him back to the present.

Jack then closed this story (which got some rippling laughs) by asking Who will sing to the warriors of Iraq and Afghanistan? Who will sing the hundreds of thousands of them back?

And now, either I'm lazy or I'm on a roll with re-posting. This is from the same day, last year, and remains true on this day, this year, for me.


MONDAY, MAY 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I always feel conflicted on these holidays -- the national ones where we're supposed to feel patriotic, full of honor, all those things. I have made no sacrifice for my country and have, actually, often despaired of my country. I struggle to feel the "right" way about soldiers and those who have died "for our country."

I do remember this poem, though, by Wilfred Owen. I remember reading it in high school from my white Norton Anthology. I remember feeling horrified. I remember wondering what sort of man Wilfred Owen might have been had he not died in a World War I battle when he was only 25.

Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas!7 Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud 
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hallelujah Cake



It's not terribly pretty, but trust me when I tell you that Hallelujah Cake is about the best dang chocolate cake I've ever made. My Texan friend Johanna gave me the recipe, and I balked at the ingredients and the lack of -- let's say, organization that went into its creation. I've got a bit of southern in me (my maternal grandmother is from the Mississippi Delta), though, and I can completely understand that after dumping all the ingredients together and then mixing it up, you might sing some praises to the Lord.

In fact, click HERE and turn up the sound while baking the cake.



Hallelujah Cake

Sift together:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt

Melt together:

1 stick butter
1/2 cup veg oil
6 heaping T unsweetened cocoa (I did use the very best here and not grocery store Hershey's)
1 cup water

Pour melted ingredients into dry ingredients

Add:

1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix well.
Bake at 350 degrees until done.

Icing

1 stick butter, melted
8 heaping T unsweetened cocoa (again, I used good cocoa)
1/3 cup milk
powdered sugar (the amount isn't indicated, but I used 1 box which is about 1 pound or so)

Mix above together and dump on cake. Spread evenly.

Peonies - 10:00 AM, Day Three

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011



I had a stack of papers on the dining room table that isn't really for dining but for stacks of arguments-to-be and the slow leaking of The Husband's work - bills - and a bowl of odd Legos and cardboard circles for cakes and pastry tips and one of the stacks had a paper, a bill for thousands of dollars -- due, of course -- an old treatment for Sophie, another treatment that didn't really work and the form stating the insurance increase and the form for the judge who is deciding whether Sophie is mildly retarded or severely retarded and I was zipping up Sophie's sweater, trying to get her out of the door and to school and the day was beautiful, like paradise it is, always, here in Los Angeles, an extended period of green because of perfect rains. I thought what's it all for? what's it all for? and I thought, as I do quite frequently, more than once a day and far more frequently than a normal mother of normal kids, even teenagers who drive (because those normal mothers say it all the time, that they, too, worry) what if she dies? dies young? what will it all have been for? the fighting? the arguing? the searching and fixing and trying? what for? And I looked into her eyes, like pools they are, but black not blue, the light at the bottom, you have to search and I knew what it was for and it was for nothing all that fighting and working and trying and reaching it was all for nothing it wouldn't matter if she died but what did matter was the love and that was all that mattered, the love, there's nothing else that matters but the love and that's that light you have to search for to remember to live by.

Peonies, 10:00 AM

Thursday, May 26, 2011



In the mountains, there you feel free

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land


I was cutting up berries this morning, into a small container for Sophie's lunchbox. The boys were careening around the house, messing around, fighting, yelling, playing. Feed the dog, I yelled. Put on your socks. Turn off your bedroom light. What time are you going to the concert? The Husband asked as he ripped the plastic bag off the newspaper and opened it on the table. You have to be there by 4:40, Henry answered and he flew out the door to catch his ride to school. Let's go, The Husband raised his voice at Oliver and they left, too. I picked up the spread-out newspaper and placed it on the chair like I do every morning (always, always irritated by it), and then I called out to Sophie who I heard humming in her room I'm coming, Sophie. And as I walked down the hallway I wondered whether she heard all the comings and goings in the same way we hear them and whether she felt isolated from them or part of them and I wondered if the feeling I had was guilt that she wasn't really a part of them and guilt that I didn't work hard enough for her to be a part of them and then I wondered whether I would ever let go of the guilt, the guilt that comes, relentlessly, even after sixteen years of damn hard work and travail and despair and pulling up your bootstraps and dark humor and enlightenment and joy and gratitude. I wondered if guilt came naturally, anyway, when you are a mother and how I would never know that naturally, and I had all these thoughts, lickety-split, as I walked into Sophie's room and reached my arms out to her, sitting on the floor, humming, and pulled her up and brought her to the kitchen to eat breakfast.

BabyCakes

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Assorted Frosting

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What

I'm reading:



I'm listening to:



I'm watching:





I'm loving:

my three children in the "olden days"


I'm shaking my head over:


white baseball pants versus gray baseball pants and all the hoopla surrounding that in a boys' baseball league where the powers that be take themselves very, very seriously

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's not acceptable

Along with Robert Rummel-Hudson's brilliant piece on it, and my friend Jeneva's recent blog posts, HERE and HERE, the television series Glee is getting in on the campaign to end the use of the word retard. I have friends who still use the word around me -- apologetically, of course -- but they just don't seem to get it. Maybe this will help:

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan



Bob Dylan is seventy years old and one of my musical idols despite the relentless commercialism of his work and even The Man himself carefully crafting his image.

Love Minus Zero/No Limit is my favorite Dylan song.

Monday, May 23, 2011

PET - A Chapter

Yesterday, I took the boys and Sophie to the Petersen Auto Museum, and after we'd wandered around and ooh'd and ahh'd over the fantastic vehicles, we went upstairs to the children's activity room. While the boys ran around, Sophie and I sat in front of a wire sculpture whose name I don't remember, but I was reminded of a very similar contraption that used to sit in the lobby of the waiting room at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. When I got home, I dug out the chapter of my dusty book-in-waiting and decided to publish it, here, for your consideration. It's a bit long for a blog post, but I'd love to know what you think.




PET SCAN
In the lobby of the hospital on Broadway, way uptown, is a giant contraption encased in Lucite. It’s so mesmerizing that even if you’re late for an appointment, you feel compelled to stand in front of it and watch for a few moments. The contraption isn’t electrical but rather mechanical, made up of a series of wire tunnels with levers and catapults. Many large balls travel through the whole thing in crazy patterns, completely fueled by the construction of it all, not any outside force. As they roll down hills, drop through holes and even make their way in what seems like an impossible upward climb, they make a clicking and clacking noise that lulls you into a kind of daze. Children stand with their noses pressed to the Lucite, quiet, their parents above them, both rapt at the continuous rolling movement of the balls. Nothing every really happens and it’s hard to figure out where and how the whole thing starts. There doesn’t seem to be an end, either, just an endless clicking loop for the balls to travel on forever.
   In January of 1996, we got a PET scan of Sophie’s brain. She was ten months old. The previous month when Dr. N recommended it, Sophie had already been on eight different antiepileptic drugs. PET is an acronym for Positron Emission Tomography. A website definition of the procedure says “positron emission tomography is a diagnostic examination that involves the acquisition of physiologic images based on the detection of radiation from the emission of positrons. Positrons are tiny particles emitted from a radioactive substance administered to the patient. The subsequent images of the body developed with this technique are used to evaluate a variety of diseases.” Dr. N said that since Sophie’s seizures hadn't been responsive to medical therapy, the PET scan of her brain might help to determine whether she would be a candidate for surgery.
   The technology was still very new and rarely done. I remember that there weren’t even that many actual machines in the state of New York. Fortunately for us, though, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, the home of Dr. N, had one, so we made the appointment. Nowadays, you can get all your information about any procedure on the Internet, but in the dark end days of the last century, the only information came from your doctor. Initially, the procedure was denied by our insurance company, but I was armed with enough information to fight for it. With a lot of perseverance.
“Can I have your subscriber ID number?” the agent asked when I called one morning.
Click click clickety click, went the keyboard as he typed in the information.
“A procedure for which dependent?”
Click, click, clickety click.
“Child’s birthdate, please.”
Click, click, clickety click.
“Procedure name, please.”
Click, click, clickety, click.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we’re going to need some more information about this procedure before we can give you an approval to proceed.”
“Like what kind of information?” I answered, defensively, because by now I knew the insurance drill.
“Like if the procedure is medically necessary.”
Medically necessary? I’m thinking. Medically necessary? No. We just want to inject our nine month old baby girl with a radioactive substance to see her brain light up and then maybe have the opportunity to cut into it for fun. Just kind of experiment with a cool new procedure. We’re hoping that you’ll pay the five thousand dollars for it.
“You’ll have to get your physician to write a letter stating that the test is medically necessary,” the agent repeats.
I guess I swallowed and agreed because a month later we are scheduled to go into Columbia Pres for the test.

When we arrived at the medical center, we were taken to an examination room that housed the PET scanner, which has a hole in the middle and looks like a really huge doughnut. It’s white. The techs administering the scan told us that first they would open a vein in Sophie’s arm through which they would later inject the radioactive substance.
“Where is the substance?” I asked.
The tech pointed down to the floor and nodded toward what looked like a huge vacuum tube attached to the wall. Above the tube, near the ceiling was an enormous digital clock with bright red letters.
“The stuff is in the basement?” I asked again. The tech is busy with a metal tray. My husband has the baby and places her on her back on the examining table. She is about ten months old and chubby; her wrist is just a crease dividing the baby fat of her hand from her arm. It’s here that they’re going to find a vein.
“Actually, yes. It’s sort of in the basement. It’s radioactive and made in a machine downstairs called a cyclotron. When we’re ready for it, we’ll let them know and they’ll send it up.”
While the tech is explaining this amazing technology, he is also busy patting the fat on Sophie’s little arm. He’s actually almost slapping her, trying to find a vein. There’s a rubber band on her upper arm and she is starting to fret. She’s used to needle sticks as the neurologist is always trying to get a blood level of whatever drug she’s on, but some people are better at it than others and this guy doesn’t appear to be one of them. I move over to the table and squeeze myself next to Michael who I always accuse of being too passive when it comes to blood sticks. He steps away because he knows me.
“I think you’d better try somewhere else,” I say.
The tech’s lips are tightly closed, and he releases the rubber band and puts it on her other arm and then starts slapping that wrist. He sticks the needle in, a moment when I always (ashamedly) wince and turn away, my body steeling itself for the scream. And Sophie screams, so I turn back or open my eyes and the tech is basically rolling the needle around under her skin. He hasn’t gotten it. I let a few seconds go by.
“Stop,” I say, “try somewhere else, please.” I’m bent over Sophie, trying to soothe her. She’s stopped screaming but is impatient lying down. I want to give her a break and ask for a second.
The tech says that we have to get going and starts working on the veins in her feet, then her ankles. Each time he does the slapping and then the stick and then the rolling and probing. At the seventh stick, I shout, “STOP!” Michael’s hand is on my back and he’s looking at me warningly because he knows that I’m about to explode. Which I do.
“YOU’VE GOT TO GET SOMEONE ELSE IN HERE TO DO THIS RIGHT NOW,” I shout. “It’s not as if this is a life or death situation.” I’m crying, now, enraged and holding Sophie in my arms. Michael still has his hand on my back.
The tech isn’t apologetic, just sweaty and bothered, but he goes to the telephone and asks someone to come up and help him. When the nurse arrives we find out that she’s from the NICU, used to sticking preemies and “good at it.”
We lay Sophie down again and the nurse gets the needle in the vein on the first try. We’re ready for the radioactive substance. The tech places the call to the folks in the “basement,” and when the big red clock clicks over by a couple of seconds, we hear this tremendous “whoosh” and watch him put on some enormous gray gloves and walk over toward the tube. There’s a door in the tube, a panel and it opens and the tech reaches in with his space gloves and pulls out a huge needle. It’s not actually all needle; it’s a regular sized needle attached to a syringe that is encased in some kind of protective material. So the tech gets this radioactive substance at a precise moment, protected by the casing on the syringe as well as his enormous gloves, but he moves over toward the examining table and injects the stuff immediately into Sophie’s vein. The tiny vein in the crease of her right elbow.
The radioactive substance is attached to a natural body compound, usually glucose but sometimes water or ammonia, and once this is administered to the patient, the radioactivity localizes in the appropriate areas of the body and is detected by the PET scanner. It takes from 30 to 45 minutes for the substance to travel through the body and accumulate in the tissue that is being studied, and after that time, the scanning begins. When Sophie is slid into the doughnut hole, she has been sedated. She is in there for a little less than an hour. Within the machine are many rings of detectors that record the emission of energy from the radioactive substance. The detectors permit an image of the brain to be obtained which is displayed on a monitor of a nearby computer. The images show alterations in biochemical processes.
I could hold up the copies of those images in my hand and peer in wonder at the inside workings of Sophie’s mysterious brain. There were spots there that were sort of blue, lit up, I suppose, from the radioactive substance. I wondered at the absurdity of it all, the juxtaposition of nuclear medicine and the incredibly primitive way in which the stuff was administered. Whatever was happening in the “basement” in that cyclotron had the power to travel through the veins and light up targeted tissue. But to get there, we still had to open the vein with a needle, a sharp point had to puncture vulnerable flesh. Couldn’t there be some kind of advancement in the administration of a nuclear material? It wasn’t the nuclear medicine that scared me that morning, strangely. I was undone by the seven needle sticks, the bumbling idiocy of it and my own helplessness.
The PET scan of Sophie’s brain was inconclusive. It showed “activity” on both sides of her brain and it was determined that she probably wasn’t a candidate for surgery. We were left hanging, again, in the unknown. People always say that it’s good to “rule things out.” So far, I have found that to be incredibly frustrating.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Caketastic 2

Vanilla Cake with Pale Pink Vanilla Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Filling and Belgian Chocolate Frosting

Coconut Cake with 7-Minute Frosting and Coconut Flakes

Sunday Morning

I'm having my first cup of coffee in 21 days right now.

Perfect.

The cleanse was very successful. I think I've kicked the sugar habit (this, despite baking 3 million cakes the past three weeks) and I've lost nearly ten pounds. I feel good.

Yesterday was an insane day of baseball games, cake-baking (pictures later), baseball practices, haircuts, new shoes, a birthday party and dinner with friends.

Perfect.

Here are some photos of my crazily gorgeous son playing baseball -- he's the catcher, #12.





contemplating stealing to third base

walking back --

hectoring the pitcher by clapping -- weird boy thing

stealing to third base

running home

Final Score of the game: 7-6 (Indians!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What makes me rapturous

What I showed Oliver this morning

Yosemite, 2009



1Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”....
4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,a’ and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed... 

36“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,f but only the Father. 



Matthew 24.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Air Quotes


Oliver got up from the dinner table where we'd sat and the children ate bow-tie pasta with olive oil and parmesan cheese, tiny French green beans and sea salt. Here in Los Angeles, we've had the "pleasure" of viewing enormous billboards proclaiming the end of the world, imminent, for months. While my boys laugh and scoff at the whole thing, they also seem a bit nervous, particularly Oliver. During dinner I reassured him that we lived right down the street from the La Brea Tar Pits, where the bones of animals literally millions of years old lie buried in tar. We are just specks in a long continuum that will go on forever and ever, probably as long as our lifetimes and way, way beyond, I said. Henry stated that if it were really the end of the world tomorrow, he wished that he hadn't gone to school.

As we cleared the table, Oliver said to me, using air quotes on the word last:

I'm going to take my "last" bath, Mom.

The Rapture



Let us love the country of here below. It is real; it offers resistance to love.

Simone Weil

I am a sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the world's rock altar, waiting for worms. I take a deep breath, I open 
my eyes. Looking, I see there are worms in the horns of the altar
like live maggots in amber, there are shells
of worms in the rock and moths flapping in my eyes. 
A wind from noplace rises. A sense of the real
exults me; the cords loose; I walk on my way.

Annie Dillard

What came home in Sophie's backpack yesterday:


There's nothing like being known and counted in the Los Angeles Unified School district.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Me, today


Crushed mint in my fingers
the hedges spaced for slivers of sunlight
The wind in the palms and the rustle of the dead
fronds
draped over wires
too attached to let go even when yanked
hanging
a dragonfly sits for minutes
on the tip of a lemon branch
its heart in its transparent, webbed wings.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Me and Nie and a Correction

****I made a few mistakes in this post, namely describing the attack on the Muslim woman as being from her husband when actually the attack came from a man whom she had rejected when he proposed to marry her. I also called her an Arab when she is Persian -- I wasn't aware of the difference (my own grandfather was a Christian Syrian). Here's the definition of both: The Arabs, though themselves not homogenous, are a Semitic people, whereas the Persians are Indo-Iranian, their language belonging to the Indo-European language family. In short, they are historically, culturally, linguistically and ethnically separate populations who happen to share a home in the Middle East. (from Wiki answers). Thank you, Chris, for straightening me out!
Despite my inaccuracies, my opinion remains the same.

I've followed the story of Stephanie Nielson, the Mormon blogger horribly burned and disfigured in a plane crash several years ago. I've marveled with the rest of the blogging planet at her resilience, beauty and grace and admired her devotion to her family and husband. While her writing isn't particularly inspiring, the photos she posts of her beautiful children and the home she's created are fascinating in their seeming perfection, and above all her strength in recovery and honesty about its difficulty are at the very least, moving, and awe-inspiring otherwise. I think pretty harshly about the Mormon religion and its constructs, but I admire Stephanie's faith in something larger than herself and can only wonder, from a distance, on how she does it. 


When I opened up her blog, though, last night and saw the photo of her in the arms of Glen Beck, I practically fell out of my chair. I'll be blunt: I find Glen Beck to be a repulsive sycophant who has done as much as anyone to promote the image of our country as a bunch of ignorant charlatans. I watched the video that Stephanie posted and not only fell out of my chair but lay there on the floor, beating my head against it. Basically, Beck tells Stephanie's story -- and it's a moving one if you don't know it already -- and brings attention to a recent 20/20 episode that featured Stephanie and her family. He underlines Stephanie's Christian faith in God. He highlights a segment of an interview with Stephanie where she tearfully explains how difficult it is for her to be mocked or stared at in public by children and adults but how she forgives those people. This is all good -- I know that I learn from the strength of others, and I struggle myself with my feelings toward those who stare out and speak rudely of Sophie when we are in public. I am often humbled by Stephanie's grace in the face of far bigger problems.

But then Beck does his thing. He tells the story of a PERSIAN woman who has also been horribly disfigured and blinded as the result of acid burns inflicted on her by her husband. In the country where this has happened, the perpetrator is to be punished in the same manner as his crime, and guess what? Beck condemns the horribly disfigured woman as a vengeful, evil person because she wants her husband burned in the same way as she has been. Well, he doesn't actually condemn her as much as he condescendingly shakes his head and contorts his face, suggesting these Muslims are crazy, evil people now, aren't they? I looked closely for his tell-tale tears, but I didn't see any. To tell you the truth, it was the longest I'd ever listened to the guy. Now, if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time or know me, you know that I'm NOT an eye for an eye kind of person. Although my mouth is as big as the Grand Canyon, I generally tilt toward pacifism, and I certainly don't support the barbaric practices of backward countries. So I'm not going to defend this poor woman's motivations. But Stephanie Nielsen and this Muslim woman have only the terrible scars in common and literally nothing else. I believe that Beck has used Stephanie to help his flagging popularity and he's done so with customary repulsive tactics.

Why am I writing all of this? Partly because it incenses me and partly because I find it fascinating. I think it's gloriously human to be drawn to and strengthened by stories of people overcoming great obstacles and even tragedy, but I think it's uniquely American to turn these stories into fodder for the commercial machine. It makes me sick that Glen Beck has done so.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

iPad Giveaways!

Bob Barker of The Price is Right
Come on Down! 


Marissa's amazing father, the writer of Marissa's Bunny is having another incredible iPad giveaway for special needs kids. Marissa is a beautiful little girl with infantile spasms, the hideous seizure disorder that Sophie was also diagnosed with many years ago. Marissa's father has become a staunch advocate not only for his own daughter but also for all children with special needs. With the help of his employers and other generous folks, he has already given away numerous iPads and has a new offer.


Go HERE and read all about it.


Good luck!

Someone's telling our story, and it looks fine:

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Riot of Roses and Random Dickinson







Low at my problem bending,
Another problem comes -
Larger than mine - Serener -
Involving statelier sums.


I check my busy pencil,
My figures file away.
Wherefore, my baffled fingers
Thy perplexity?

-- Emily Dickinson c.1859

Hexagram 5

Waiting

All beings have need of nourishment from above. But the gift of food comes in its sown time, and for this one must wait. This hexagram shows the clouds in the heavens, giving rain to refresh all that grows and to provide mankind with food and drink. The rain will come in its own time. We cannot make it come; we have to wait for it. The idea of waiting is further suggested by the attributes of the two trigrams – strength within, danger in front. Strength in the face of danger does not plunge ahead but hides its time, whereas weakness in the face of danger grows agitated and has not the patience to wait
.
THE JUDGMENT

WAITING. If you are sincere,
You have light and success.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Waiting is not mere empty hoping. It has the inner certainty of reaching the goal. Such certainty alone gives that light which leads to success. This leads to the perseverance that brings good fortune and bestows power to cross the great water.
One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing. Only a strong man can stand up to his fate, for his inner security enables him to endure to the end. This strength shows itself in uncompromising truthfulness [with himself]. It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized. This recognition must be followed by resolute and persevering action. For only the man who goes to meet his fate resolutely is equipped to deal with it adequately. Then he will be able to cross the great water – that is to say, he will be capable of making the necessary decision and of surmounting the danger.

THE IMAGE
Clouds rise up to heaven:
The image of WAITING.
Thus the superior man eats and drinks,
Is joyous and of good cheer.
When clouds rise in the sky, it is a sign that it will rain. There is nothing to do but to wait until the rain falls. it is the same in life when destiny is at work. We should not worry and seek to shape the future by interfering in things before the time is ripe. We should quietly fortify the body with food and drink and the mind with 
gladness and good cheer. Fate comes when it will, and thus we are ready

--from the Wilhelm-Baynes translation of The I Ching or Book of Changes

Have you ever worked with the I Ching?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Clear View

Rooftop, Arclight Cinemas, looking south-east, Los Angeles 2011
I woke this morning to the sound of rain, an unusual occurrence in early May in Los Angeles. By late morning, the skies had cleared and were an intense blue, the air windy and golden. It wasn't a good day, particularly. I had to read the riot act to The Boys and finally escaped to dinner and a movie without them. I saw Win Win, with Paul Giamatti and Amy Adams and an ensemble cast that was fantastic. It's a small movie about big things, and I loved it -- easily my favorite movie so far this year.

Whew.


As of this writing, the cakes are all made, the ten-year-old boy sleepover party is over (at 2:30 am when I morphed into a screaming battleaxe), three baseball games have been played, and five loads of laundry are folded and put away.

I'll leave you with scenes from the party:

Pre-party dancing


The Big O can dance --

Henry and his buddy Noah


In the interest of people's privacy, I won't post pictures of the boys who attended the party except in a general sense -- but they were all WILD. They hung from the trees, ran around with toy guns playing cops and robbers and war, opened their mouths and screamed war cries incessantly and generally tore up the neighborhood. I stood in the doorway to my house and made feeble efforts at control.

Henry's homemade death-defying zip line

Thank God -- another use for the Halloween costume -- (I'm such a good mother)
 What about cake?

We started with a chocolate cake with plain white butter-cream frosting. Lots of candy in bowls all around:



Oliver gave orders to begin the decorating process:



All hands necessary to push in the ten candles 


String licorice -- Pollack style

Do your teeth hurt, yet?




Happy Birthday Oliver!




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