Monday, November 30, 2009

Update on Salvation

One of the people who commented on my posting over at LA Moms Blog brought up the biblical Acts of the Apostles and the term simony. I have found it immensely clarifying and thought you might, too.

Simony is the ecclesiastical crime of paying for holy offices or positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus, who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:18-24. Simon Magus offers the disciples of JesusPeter and John payment so that anyone he would place his hands on would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of the term simony[1] but it also extends to other forms of trafficking for money in "spiritual things".[2][3] Simony was also one of the important issues during the Investiture Controversy.

The great Italian poet Dante Alighieri consigned simonists to the eighth circle of hell. In the above copy of a wood engraving by Gustave Dore, Dante visits Pope Nicholas III, who has been buried upside-down in the inferno for committing simony.

I love this stuff.

I'm in love with

the Fantastic Mr. Fox (with George Clooney's voice)

Lost in Los Angeles - Over at LA Moms Blog

Benny_hinn-india Aside from Monday, when the kids go back to school after a usually frenzied weekend of sports and church and wild careening around the house, Saturday is my favorite day of the week. And lest you think I'm one of those mothers who relishes the constant company of her children, the reason I love Saturdays is because I have a babysitter who comes at 9 am and leaves at 5 pm. She is a wonderful woman whose job is to mainly watch my daughter Sophie who, while fourteen years old, is severely disabled with seizures and developmental disabilities. Having a babysitter all day enables me to not only take the boys to their various sports activities but to go to the grocery store, run errands and even get away by myself for a bit.
So, when M called me this afternoon and haltingly started to say, Um, Elizabeth, I was wondering if..., my heart sank because I knew what was coming. I have tickets tomorrow to see a show in and it's the first time I can go and I've always wanted to go and everyone in my family is going and I just wondered if you would mind if I went and didn't come to work, she said all in one breath. What kind of show? I wondered aloud, even though I knew that of course, I'd say it was all right that I would be fine and to have a good time.
Continue reading "Saved in Los Angeles" »

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Giveaway Reminder

Don't forget to enter my Black Friday Giveaway by tomorrow. I'm giving away a free poster sized print of your choice, courtesy of Online To enter go HERE and write a comment on how you'd use the poster. I'll be picking a name from a hat on December 1st.

Good luck!

Thumb Sucker

Oliver, who is eight years old, was gazing deeply into our dog Valentine's eyes this morning. Oliver was sucking his thumb, a habit that I believe for him is part defiance, part deeply sustaining. I reminded him to stop sucking your thumb (why do I do this, over and over?) and he said,

Mom, this is how I communicate best with Valentine. It's our secret.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Superior Scribblers

Deb at the stunning Talk at the Table has kindly given me the Superior Scribbler Award. I would describe Deb's blog as beautifully written and faith-filled, so it's an honor to receive this blogger award from her. Besides, I love awards and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

Here are the rules of the award and links to my five nominations for the Superior Scribbler Award: 

1. Each Superior Scribbler that I name today must pass the award on to 5 most-deserving bloggy friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom she has received the award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on her blog, and link to this post, which explains the award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit 
This Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor! (This Linky List is still unclear to me, and as soon as I figure it out, I'll let you know!)

Here are my FIVE:

Sarah Stockton at THE SILVER GATE
Deb at JUST ME

Silent Saturday


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Giveaway

Here's the skinny! I am involved with the Blog Sponsorship Program for Online Poster Printing and have the opportunity to award one of my readers an 18X24 poster made from one of your favorite prints. Given the number of incredibly talented photographers I know are out there blogging and reading this blog, here's a chance for a free poster of one of your beautiful prints. You can see the kind of high quality work Online Poster Printing does HERE and HERE and HERE.

All you have to do is leave a comment (get creative!) about what photo you would like to print and I will pull names from the proverbial hat on December 1st. Here are the rules:

Giveaway prize: (1) 18x24 poster print for One Lucky Winner
Size: 18x24 Poster:  Paper: High Gloss; Semi Gloss
Shipping: FREE UPS Ground Shipping in the US
Eligibility: Limited to US Residents due to shipping costs. We will negotiate better shipping rates soon.

Pursuant to the FTC ruling on Blogger Reviews and Sponsored Postings, I need to fully disclose that I will receiving one poster from for hosting this giveaway.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Corner View - Menu al Dia

I'm a bit late posting this week's Corner View whose theme is Menu al Dia or menu of the day at a restaurant in our little corner.

I'm going to post the Thanksgiving menu at a very special place called The Larchmont Larder. It just happens to be owned by The Husband, a chef extraordinaire! The menu is items available for pick-up -- as some of, but not all of you know, tomorrow is America's Thanksgiving holiday so most people are either busy at home cooking or, hopefully, picking up delicious food from the Larder.

Soups, Gravy, Sauce
Roasted Fall Squash Soup with Ginger and Sage $10.50 qt
Serves 3-4

Swiss Barley Soup with Root Vegetables and Prosciutto  $11.00 qt 
Serves 3-4

Home Made Turkey Gravy  $8.00 pint
Serves 4

Cranberry-Orange Sauce  $7.00 pint
Serves 4-6

Salad Dressings, Stuffing, Sides
Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing   $5.00/8oz
Balsamic Vinaigrette   $4.50/8oz
Lemon-Horseradish Dressing   $4.50/8oz
Fennel, Italian Sausage and Corn Bread Stuffing   $20.00 
Serves 6-8

Traditional Stuffing with Vegetables, Sage and Raisins  $18.00 
Serves 6-8

Creamy Mashed Potatoes  $10.00 qt 
Serves 4

Sweet Potato Casserole with Rum and Pecans  $18.00
Serves 6-8

Oven Roasted Winter Root Vegetables with Shallots and Sage  $10.00 qt 
Serves 6

Sauteed Green Beans with Almonds and Parsley  $12.00 qt
Serves 6

Brussels Sprouts and Glazed Chestnuts  $15.00 qt
Serves 6-8

Braised Savoy Cabbage with Onions, Bacon and Cider  $12.00 qt
Serves 6-8

Classic Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream  $24.00

9″ ~ Serves 8
Apple Pie  $28.00
9″ ~ Serves 8
Dried Fruit Tart with Lattice Top  $32.00

10″ ~ Serves 10-12
Assorted Cookies
see store display

For more corner views, go to our lovely host, Jane.

I'm thankful for (among many other things too numerous to enumerate)

today's news that Senator Barbara A. Mikulski introduced “Rosa’s Law,” a bill that will eliminate the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from the federal law books. U.S. Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is the Republican sponsor of the bill.

Read more about it HERE
And if you're a bit like me and inclined to think "why should words matter so much, especially these?" here's my favorite quote:

When Rosa’s Law was being considered by the Maryland General Assembly, Rosa’s 13-year-old brother, Nick, successfully testified on her behalf for a substitution of mentally retarded with intellectual disability. He explained, “Some people say they are just words, and it’s not going to make a difference if we just change the words. Some say we shouldn’t worry about the words, just the way we treat people. But when you think about it, what you call people is how you treat them! If we change the words, maybe it’ll be the start of a new attitude towards people with intellectual disabilities. They deserve it.”

Question of the Day

Why is the healthcare debate between the health of American capitalism and the health of American citizens?

(I'd love a good discussion, here.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

O Christmas Tree (in honor of Ms. Moon)

If you have any interest in winning an artificial Colorado mountain spruce Christmas tree, valued at $799, check this out by clicking here:

Artificial Christmas tree sweepstakes at Balsam Hill 

You can also go to my sidebar and click on that.

And, I think if someone wins from my site, I get $500!

Good Luck to all of us!

A Toast

That's my Italian grandfather at the far left. He owned that bar and grill in Harlem, I believe. By the looks of the television at the top left, I imagine this photo was taken some time in the late forties but I can't be sure. I've always loved this picture. It seems like a world away but I can see my family in his smile.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In lieu of posts

I think I'll just throw some vintage photos at you this week. My parents are in town and staying in my room which makes it really hard to write.

Plus this will be fun.

This one jumps out. Me, sometime in the early to mid-seventies, reading, as always. Do you love the hair? How about the dress? I think it hit the floor and was my Christmas outfit for both parties and church. I believe my sister that year wore a floor-length jumper made of the Sunmaid Raisin fabric. Was there ever a more awkward decade in which to come of age?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shameless Call for a Vote

No, this isn't a call to ask your Senator to get off his or her bottom and do something for healthcare reform. I've actually given up ranting about that sorry cause.

This is actually all about ME.

If you're so inclined, please go to my sidebar and vote for me. I am a Top Health Blogger for the Children's Health Committee at Wellsphere.

No worries, no pressure.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Seizures, Potato Chips and Us

Two nights ago, I was in the kitchen making dinner while Henry sat at the table doing his homework. Oliver was playing in his room, setting up all of his cars to make an airport parking lot. I had been to a luncheon, earlier that day and was munching on some gourmet chips that came in the swag bag one receives at these affairs. (Aren't I fancy?)

Anyway, I was literally munching these chips, or crunching these chips and evidently the sound was so loud in my head that I only SAW Henry leap up and run toward the door. I swallowed, hastily, and simultaneously heard and realized that I'd missed something and that something was probably Sophie who was in her room and had probably fallen because she had probably had a seizure and Oliver was yelling, Mom! Sophie fell! And Henry was already out the door, looking back at me, saying Didn't you hear that Mom? Sophie is having a seizure! 

And what could I say? Sorry! I was eating potato chips!

I mean, really, what does one say in situations like these?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas, 2005


By the time I was six months old, she knew something
was wrong with me. I got looks on my face
she had not seen on any child
in the family, or the extended family,
or the neighborhood. My mother took me in
to the pediatrician with the kind hands,
a doctor with a name like a suit size for a wheel:
Hub Long. My mom did not tell him
what she thought in truth, that I was Possessed.
It was just these strange looks on my face—
he held me, and conversed with me,
chatting as one does with a baby, and my mother
said, She’s doing it now! Look!
She’s doing it now! and the doctor said,
What your daughter has
is called a sense
of humor. Ohhh, she said, and took me
back to the house where that sense would be tested
and found to be incurable.

"Diagnosis" by Sharon Olds, from One Secret Thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


This week's Corner View was supposed to be wordless. But I just can't resist. I went to the Lupus Bag Lady Luncheon this morning in Beverly Hills. One of my dearest friends, C, invites me every year. And while the cause is a worthy one and I'd do anything for dear, dear C, the luncheon is so over-the-top Hollywood, Beverly Hills stereotype that it's worth going just to gawk. The top picture is my dining room, right before I left. Someone called me and I snapped what I saw in that moment.

The next photo is a bunch of paparazzi inside the hotel snapping the few celebrities that were attending.

The third photo, my favorite, is one of the bags that was auctioned. It was a chartreuse silk evening bag with a gold serpent clutch and was donated by Elizabeth Taylor. Last time I looked, it was up to $1200. Oy.

The next photo is one of the godawful ceiling fixtures at the hotel. Very Beverly Hills.

The final photo is my favorite. The front of a stretch Rolls that Jermaine Jackson got into.

Sometimes, I can't believe I live here, it's so ridiculous.

For more Corner Views, see JANE or La Ninja, our host.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thank You

Cecilia Beaux (American, 1855-1942)
A Little Girl

A while back I got an email from someone who reads my blog and has one of her own. She wondered whether Sophie enjoyed music and told me about her own daughter who is evidently a musical wonder, singing and recording at a very young age. She wondered if Sophie would like to hear her daughter's music and gave me the links. The music is beautiful, as is this woman's blog which you can read HERE.  She asked me whether I would give her my address so that she could send me something. I said yes.

Yesterday, I opened an envelope in the mail and a cascade of dried flowers dropped onto the table with a tiny ziploc bag of a gray, powdery substance. The cover of the card was a copy of the above painting which I had never seen before. The girl resembles Sophie a bit, especially in the intensity of her eyes. Inside the card was this note:

For Sophie
Ash, also known as vibhuti,
blessed by Amma.
Dried flower petals blessed by Amma.

I had heard of Amma, the Indian spiritual teacher who is known for her smiles and hugs and unconditional love and humanitarian efforts. I believe that when she came to Los Angeles recently, she received an incredibly long line of people to embrace and just, well, love.

Thank you, T, for this beautiful gift to a stranger. It means more to me than you know.

Blogging has been an incredible experience for me -- opening my world up to a wealth of information, to people from many different cultures and countries. The people whom I've met -- YOU -- have wowed me with your writing, your photography, your advice, your wisdom, your children, your troubles, your beauty, your humor. Many of you have sent me gifts, books, cards, crafts.

I'm nowhere near Amma but I sort of see you all as this long line of people for whom I feel gratitude and even love.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Monday, November 16, 2009


In true Bill Maher style, I found this piece to be brilliant -- and not because it echoes my own views (recently published HERE)  but because it's sensible, practical and well-written. Above all, it intimates that the immune system is a powerful thing and that bolstering its power through nutrition and supplements and common sense from birth onward might be a better prevention tool than vaccines and antibiotics.

Read it HERE.             

Social Security Office - Applying for Replacement Card

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

We're already two weeks in, but November is National Caregivers Month.  Click on the above very official document to find out more. And if it's too small to read, check out the website HERE.

The document sure looks real, but I wonder about its relevancy in an era where most states' budgets are shrinking dramatically. California, at least, long known for its generous programs to help the disabled, has slashed its Regional Center budgets so much that there is virtually no money left for respite for the families of children with special needs and the elderly. I don't know what the answer is.

Now go out and find a caregiver, near and dear or even not, to you, and offer to help.

If you're a caregiver of someone with a chronic illness or special needs or profound needs, accept help and stay courageous. I wish I could say that it's all going to be all right, but we know better, right?

Tiny steps, tiny steps.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Horrid Henry

I'm actually not talking about my Henry but the horrid Henry of the children's books. The Horrid Henry series, written by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross, tells of the life and adventures of a very naughty -- let's just say, outrageously unpleasant -- boy named Henry.

My son Oliver is in third grade and despite his often alarming acuity and ability to articulate his feelings and thoughts, he struggles mightily with reading and writing. While he can come up with amazing stories and tells them with "above grade level" vocabulary and skill, when he puts pen to paper it looks more like cuneiform. The boy literally can not spell. And while he focuses beautifully and listens rapturously when read to, his own reading is tortured and "still below grade level."

I should appease all you sharp-eared folks who might think "learning disability" or "something wrong," -- his teacher and I don't yet think so, and he is making progress all the time, but I consider myself heroic if I don't box his ears while listening to him sound out the word has five times on one page.

Huh - ah- s, he says.

HAS! I screech, You just read the same word, here and here and here!

And such is the spirit of this boy that he yells right back at me OH YEAH! HAS! and then we're off again, finger on the page, tracing the letter, me coaching and biting my lip and wondering how in the hell I happened to have a child who doesn't love to read. Because that's the crux of it all, actually. It's all about me. I remember vividly when I really learned how to read. It was like an explosion that just went on, I guess, forever. It's still exploding, actually.  I remember The Big Red Book in my kindergarten class and how I already knew all the Tom, Betty and Susan sentences. I remember moving on to The Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew in first grade, and The Secret Garden and A Little Princess in the second; by the third grade I was reading The Hobbit and then there was just no stopping my seemingly insatiable desire to read every book I could get my hands on.

So much for passing that gene on. Sigh. But parenting is like that, no? An endless series of compromises and humiliations, hidden joys and the occasional blind-side.

One of my favorite blogs is A Diamond in the Window because it's all about children's books and reading. I don't read it for my children, actually; I read it for myself. It brings back memories of the libraries I went to as a child, their dusty, dim shelves and the almost shivery excitement I felt when I left, my many books piled high in my arms as I climbed into my mother's car. One of the great features of the blog is recommendations of books for particular readers. It was at A Diamond in the Window that I read about Horrid Henry and promptly ordered four of them:  Horrid Henry, Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb, Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy, and Horrid Henry and the Soccer Fiend. 

When they came, Oliver groaned and tossed them aside, flippantly telling me, once again, how much he hated reading and they looked stupid.

You can see where we're headed. It turns out that Horrid Henry is genius, as my Henry likes to say. It's laugh-out-loud funny, in an irreverent but not obnoxious way.

And Oliver loves it.

from Horrid Henry's School Project:

Horrid Henry scowled. He hated working in groups. He detested sharing. He loathed listening to others. Their ideas were always wrong. His ideas were always right. But the other children in Henry's groups never recognized Henry's genius. For some reason, they wanted to do things their way, not his.

and from Horrid Henry Reads a Book:

Oh. A reading competition. Horrid Henry slumped in his chair. Phooey. reading was hard, heavy work. Just turning the pages made Henry feel exhausted. Why couldn't they ever do fun competitions, like whose tummy could rumble the loudest, or who shouted out the most in class, or who knew the rudest words? Horrid Henry would win those competitions every time.

Kindergarten graduation - May 2007

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Check This Out

A while back I went to a fundraiser for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. It was a fancy affair and lots of money was raised. What I didn't know was that Sophie's beautiful face and story would be featured in the Director's brief talk. Here's a copy of the talk. I encourage you to watch the whole seven minutes, but if you only have time for Sophie, she's around 5:25.

Many of you have asked what you can do in the event someone you know has a seizure. I am grateful that you would want to know. Here are some tips from the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles:
Seizure First Aid
What to do during the seizure:
It is most important to protect the person from harm during a seizure. Here are some tips:
•    Remain calm.
•    Stay with the person until the seizure stops.
•    Notice what time the seizure starts and stops and what body parts are involved.
•    If the person is sitting or standing, gently ease them to the floor. Turn the person onto their side. Keep the person’s head from falling backwards. A soft object may be placed under the head to prevent head injury.
•    Loosen tight clothing
•    Move tables, chairs, or other hard objects away so that they will not hurt the person. (If objects cannot be removed gently guide person away from them.)

What not to do during a seizure:
•    Do not try to open person’s mouth or place anything between their teeth. This could injure his/her gums or break his/hers teeth.
•    Do not restrain or try to stop the individual’s movement.
•    Do not try to “shake the individual out of it”.

What to watch for:
Some people get a feeling or “aura” before a seizure begins. Muscle twitching, irritability, headache, vision changes or upset stomach may be part of the person’s aura. This is different for each person.
The doctor may want to know what the seizure was like so watch during the seizure. After the seizure, write down what you saw. Look for such things as:
•    Where did the seizure start? (hands, arms, legs, eyes)
•    Did the seizures stay in one area of the body or did it move to other areas too?
•    What type of movements did you see? (jerking, twitching, stiffness)

•    How many minutes did the seizure last? (Time the seizures with a watch, if possible.)
•    Precipitating/trigger factors 

What to do after the seizure
The person may have soiled their pants or vomited. Allow the person to rest after the seizure. They may be very tired and may sleep for a few hours. They may complain of a headache or soreness. If person feels cold, keep them warm with a blanket or coat.

Call the doctor or paramedics if:
•    The individual has trouble breathing or skin color becomes bluish. Call 911 for emergency help if needed.
•    The seizure lasts more than 5 minutes.
•    The individual cannot be awakened 30 minutes after the seizure.
•    There has been a change in frequency or type of seizure activity.
•    The individual has a fever and you don’t know why.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Corner View - Favorite Dish

(a bit of a tribute to soldiers on Veteran's Day)

This week's Corner View is hosted by Joyce and it really stumped me, at first. I couldn't come up with something to write about if I were going to define "my favorite dish" as something to eat because the possibilities are just too many. Should it be the barley soup that my husband wooed me with before we married? Should it be a yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting that my mother makes for our birthdays?Should it be plain cheese pizza or spaghetti bolognese? Nor do I have an actual favorite literal dish. So then I realized that the word "dish" used as verb is actually something I could write about (but have no fear as I won't be doing the actual dishing!).

Dish, used as a verb, is defined as such: distribute: administer or bestow, as in small portions; "administer critical remarks to everyone present";

Right now one of my favorite dishers might be Garrison Keillor who writes so well over at Salon. I look avidly each day to see whether he has something to say about anything happening in our world. Today was no exception:

How to Pass Healthcare Reform

There are some things we will never understand. Death, for one. I overheard a woman in the drugstore say, "He went into the hospital yesterday and he was eating his supper and then he fell asleep and then he died. I don't get it." She didn't seem grief-stricken, just uncomprehending. (Why did it have to happen now?) The paranoia that has seized the Republican Party is beyond my understanding. So is the physics of cord entanglement: how two power cords set separately in a briefcase become so complexly intertwined in only a few hours. And why do you find the rudest people in first class? Passengers in steerage accept their misery with stoical grace, while the privileged sit in luxury in a cold rage.

To read the rest of this essay, go HERE.

To see more Corner Views and other interpretations of DISH, you can visit any of these wonderful, international sites:  jane, ladybug-zen, ian, bonnie, esti, sophie, cele, modsquad, caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, skymring, elizabeth, allison, lise, cate, crescent moon, erin, otli, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, april, b, kyndale samantha, karen, kristina, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, aimee, sunnymama, jenell, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, jodi, gillian, travelingmama, athena, pienduzz, latisha, clairette, kelleyn, iris, demara, mus, ninja, guusje, di, sammi, theresa, cherry b, victoria, kathryn , lisa, liza, juliette, braja, mulot, anne, lucy, leonor, elizabeth, helene, dominique, shokoofeh, cole, jenna, podane, grey-lemon, line, nihal, urbaNiche, inner toddler, puna, lucylaine, adrienne, emily, lynn, skywriting, eliane


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