Sunday, July 26, 2009

A sign I saw this weekend. I want it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I just plain love this !!!!!!!!

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Zoe - Free at Last

As regular readers know, I have a Bichon Frise rescued dog named Zoe. She has indeed found her Forever Home with me, and I am thankful that she lets me live here, too...

The first time I let Zoe in my fenced back yard (I had invested a TON of bucks to fence in a half acre) she found a place she could wriggle through and out. She is adventurous.

She is also a digger. Loves to dig.

So, to keep a 16 pound dog in my yard, I had to employ methods normally used for penning wolves.

Imagine chain link fence. Then imagine a wire mesh fencing material that is two feet wide. Bury a foot in the ground,alongside the chain link fence, and attach the top foot to the chain link with wire. And spend more money getting THAT done. Digging had to be done amidst tree roots, rocks, etc. Nothing is simple here, folks.

Remember -- a 16 pound FREE dog.

Who just had her annual physical $100 plus dollars.

And surgery to remove a suspicious-looking growth ($500) that is (Thank God) benign.

This is also a 16 pound dog that pouted and ignored me for a couple of days after the surgery. I must have seemed like a "Bad Mommy". But finally she jumped on the bed and wiggled up next to me.

She didn't like the surgery. Nor did she like the sock she has had to wear on her foot (with tape to hold it on) to keep her from scratching her incision raw. I did get cute pink, white and lavender baby socks, but fashion be damned. A dog in one sock? Not a fashion statement. Se honestly gives me a bad look when I have to change the sock.

I love free dogs.

Anyway, this bundle of repressed energy got her ya-ya's out BIG TIME when she ran free in the yard for the second (but finally safe) time.

She rocked.

She rolled.

She nuzzled in the fresh dirt.

She scoped the perimeter of the yard for an exit route.

She dug herself a kind of nest in the dirt, and plopped herself down in it.

And I love her. She is part of my life, and I a part of hers. If she wants dirt, well honey, have at it. Knock your pink sock off, babes.

And at the end of it all, when she came onto the back porch at last, this is what my snowy white dog looked like. Can you say, "Bath time"?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Jimmy Carter indicts religious institutions for treatment of women

[simulposted at]

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God. Jimmy Carter, Former US president, Nobel Prize Winner

In 2000, Jimmy Carter left the Southern Baptist Church, where he has been a member for over 60 years. He and Roselyn distanced themselves from full participation , but he remained a deacon and still taught Sunday School. He held on to his denominational affiliation through many conflicts - including the denomination's anti-gay positions. Carter has made an astonishing statement as a result of his relationship with the Elders, a group of retired statesmen and stateswomen who have a global presence and wish to effect global change. The document says nothing about LGBT issues, and that is a tragic shortcoming. But it does say something about women, and in that it only came part way, that part is very strong indeed. It isn't enough, but it is something.

Carter has been active for some time with the New Baptist Covenant which seeks to join various branches of the Baptist church with a social agenda. The primary action there has been to bring races together. The Elder document speaks to the issue of women's inequality.

Here are excerpts from Carter's position paper on why he left The Southern Baptists.

At their most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met...
The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Not a lot of room for interpretation there. This straightforward document had me in tears. How many women have yearned for how many years to hear these words spoken by men of influence with the religions of the world. Carter isn't the first, to be sure. But he is among the most visible and respected men to do so. And he even left a group that was dear to him. It was a move he described as "painful".

Women speaking about change can only take us so far. Men's voices joined to ours -- i.e. voices from the hierarchy -- strengthen the position by making it harder for other men to dismiss, and by waking up women who think all men hold the same position in their church.

Hannah, in her blog about faith and abuse, says:

If we can open this door, and speak of the injustice that is done in the realm of women? What is to stop the conversation from continuing on to Sexual abuse among other things. You won't have to worry about people accusing you of 'slandering a man of God' when you dare speak a word. WOW maybe common sense can be used, and uglies can be faced instead of hidden...
Carter Speaks out about Treatment of women of faith, and how it encourages domestic violence! What a man of GOD!

Wisewebwoman who is over 60, and has followed Carter for along time says:

I've always admired the man. Sure, he had his faults. But his work for Habitat for Humanity, his humility and his downright civility have endeared him to many.
And today, in his 85th year, he completely blows me over with this:

This shouldn't blow us away. It should be routinely heard. In hearing Carter's words, and experiencing my emotional reaction, I am aware how much I needed to hear a churchman say this. To say it straight out with no excuses. His comment highlights the lack of other comments.

Carter is part of a group called "The Elders" -- retired statesmen who can be activists without worrying about re-election. (Now there is a commentary in itself, eh?) Here he is speaking about The Elder's position. It is stunning in its directness.

Sarah is also moved by the statement.

I know, right?! My heart swelled as I read Carter’s recent statement condemning “discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition.”...Women’s rights are human rights. It’s amazing to read this in a mainstream publication, along with a denouncement of “tradition” as justification for oppression.

Diana wonders if he could not have made more changes by staying within the SB framework, but says:

The R.E.M. hit song which made the expression of “Losing My Religion” an internationally recognized phrase, was written about unrequited love – and the expression itself comes from the American South meaning that a person has run out of patience. I think President Carter is suffering a broken heart after so many decades of having faith that the teachings he worshiped as a Southern Baptist could help make the world a better place, especially for women. As Carter notes in his essay, every religion suffers corruption at the hands of selfish people, and he has decided that the change needed in the religious tradition he called home cannot be realized form the inside. I appreciate that in the process Carter is demonstrating a way to examine sexism in our faith communities.

Charlotte talks about her long-standing admiration for Carter and adds:

Thank you, Jimmy Carter, for standing by your principles and your faith (as opposed to the religion you left) that sees us all equally as children of God. And thank you for being someone still worthy of the admiration that began when I was a little girl.

Blog after blog by women just reprints the whole essay by Carter. as if to say, "It speaks for itself."

I am so glad he wrote it, but sad that it feels so surprising. And sad that there are not more echoes. And sad that it took so long. And sad that we feel we have to say thank you, because so few religious male leaders have taken this position. And sad that all of our GLBT brothers and sisters can't enjoy the same mention.

But I can also feel pleased that Jimmy, at age 85, came through. At last.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From Xu to You and Me.

Xu Niankui is a 76 year old retired teacher in Shanghai who just taught me a lesson. He carries thank you letters that he gives to people who offer their bus seats to him. The Shanghaiist reports that in 1997 a young girl gave him her seat. He spoke with her and found out where she went to school,and sent the school a note about how thoughtful she had been. The school recognized her for her act of kindness.

This was a revelation for Xu, who decided that if people realized how much a simple motion like giving up their seat meant to other people, they would do similar good deeds more.
Xu began bringing pre-written letters with him onto the bus, to hand out to those kind enough to be aware of others. Whenever someone offered their seat to him, he would give them his letter of thanks.

What a fabulous idea!

It is one thing to be thankful, to express gratitude, but quite another to be ready to actually hand someone a thank you note. I am imagining what my thank you note might say. I'd put it in a little card, maybe with a gift certificate for a cup of coffee or tea or whatever at Starbucks, or McDonald's or wherever.

Hello, stranger!
You have just done something kind. I want to thank you. Life is short and it can be full of big problems. But so many of those big problems seem smaller when someone reaches out with a kind word or action on even the smallest of occasions. So thank you for being compassionate and friendly today.
Best wishes!

It will be an interesting experiment. I could surely keep a couple of cards in my purse, zipped in their own area.

Another thing that I have started doing lately, after a friend encouraged me - is that when I receive excellent service, I ask to speak to that person's supervisor and I tell them how well their employee handled the situation. I have done this mostly with telephone customer service. Customer service is notoriously bad these days overall, but how much better could it be if we thanked good people for good service and furthermore let their bosses know?

Now, as a woman who waitressed her way through college and grad school, no amount of notes takes the place of a good tip. But a few words to the restaurant manager about exceptional service is a lovely add-on.

Kindness grows when it is fed. Gratitude is its best nourishment. Xu Niankui hopes that his letters inspire people to even more kindness. I will bet that he is right. He doesn't hand them out frequently -- only about 25 times in two years, but each time they have had meaning.

There is a fine quote by G.B. Stern. "Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone."

In the past I have written about writing a gratitude list -- still a darned swell idea. But this is different. This is a proposition that we start living at the ready to actually express thanks in bigger ways. I suggest we turn into a Thank-You-Waiting-To-Happen.

How might that change how people treat us? What if we entered situations hoping that something lovely happens? I'll wager that changes the energy around us, and gives out spirits something different in a situation. It will communicate a compassionate heart. Energy like that radiates, changes things, makes little corners of the world gentler, better, finer.


How to Say Thank You in Hundreds of Languages

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pooch Trauma

Well, my darlin' pooch, Zoe, had to have surgery to have a growth removed from her left shoulder. Having had two dogs in the past with cancerous growths, I didn't want to ignore the fact that this growth was expanding -- so it was time to get it cared for --- fortunately it turned out to be benign. But now I am dealing with a confused dog who doesn't understand why she has a 6 inch in diameter shaved circle on her back, a 14-stitch incision, and a shaved mid-leg(that held the IV tube).

She hurts, and she doesn't know why. For the 1st four days she has been on pain pills. They end today. She'll be on antibiotics for about another week, and then will have her stitches removed.

The first night she was doped out, but in obvious pain. Finally she fell asleep. I called her "my crack-head Bichon" because she was so out of it. But when I awoke and looked at her back, I saw that she had scratched herself almost raw in a about a 2 inch area. Fortunately, her foot cannot reach the actual incision. I saw the raw spot at about 6am, an hour and a half before I could reach the vet. It was red and angry looking. So I reached for the A&D ointment -- the best solution I had at hand. She screamed when I touched the area. Literally screamed.

I reached the vet who said she had some spray that would help, and that I should tape a baby sock on her leg, so that she couldn't claw the skin.

I don't know where you live, but in my town it is not very easy to find a baby sock in white at 7.30 am. I called drugstores. Drugstores open at that hour had them in colors, not white.

I had a friend come over to watch Zoe while I went to the vet. Yet another friend went off in quest of white baby socks. Finally we all converged on the dog and got her socked up. Then we sprayed her. You might have thought we had gutted her. Turns out, from the scent of it -- the spray had an alcohol base. Of course she screamed. It must have hurt like hell to put alcohol on raw skin.

Nonetheless, whatever else was in it - steroids, I think -- seemed to bring some relief. At least the skin was not so red. Zoe didn't seem to mind the sock at all. She is used to getting dressed up --she had to wear coats in winter when she went out -- so maybe that helped her get used to the idea.

But after hearing her howl for a second time when I needed to spray her later that day, I called my vet again and told her that was not a good solution. She then recommended Gold Bond Medicated Powder, which has worked wonderfully. I do not have to touch the sore area, and it does not seem to irritate her when it goes on.

So, 5 days later she is still restless, still not very adventurous and still sore. I am babying her, but it is not possible to give her a big old cuddle because of her wound.

The dog has rendered me helpless. I want so badly to tell her why we did what we did, and that she will be better soon. But right now she is just puzzled and hesitant to be around me. She was a rescue dog, so I am afraid I may have to start the wooing process all over again. It just troubles me so much that after what she went through before I had her, that she has to go through pain now.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

ahhhh, summer veggies

I took a long drive into the country today with my 86 year old cousin. We were in search of farm fresh berries and other treats of the farm stands. New England is full of little family farms with fruit and veg stands in front of them.

All spring we have been buying asparagus from a farmer that just put the asparagus out on a table with a cash box and a sign saying "Honor System: $3 a bunch. Please pay here."I never saw the farmer, but we bought his asparagus weekly until one day the season was over and there was no more table. I like that about the countryside here. The Honor System works.

Today's adventure netted small ears of fresh corn, beets the size of peaches that were surprisingly crisp and robust, a bunch of basil, little pickling sized cukes and fresh scallions. Then, to our delight - strawberries and raspberries from Kate, the slim, smiling grey haired, apple-cheeked woman who raises them organically.

But the mystery item that I did not get was kohlrabi. Wikipedia says that the name comes from German words meaning "cabbage" and "turnip", and that Kohlrabi is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in Kashmir.

That being said....I have never had it. My mother never cooked it. I have never seen it on a menu. No one I have ever visited has served it.

It is the mystery vegetable.

It looks like alien food, beamed down from Saturn, or from a galaxy far far away.
I have looked up recipes on the net, but they seem improbably varied -- from use in a salad to a casserole with dill sauce to a baked and stuffed version. Has anyone out there actually eaten one of these?

They will probably appear in my dreams, singing kohlrabi songs, doing a kohlrabi dance.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I watched the BET Awards show because I was interested to hear the Michael Jackson tribute. Michael was a troubled boy, and a troubled man -- he was also a musical genius. His videos changed the face of American music videos. He was a consummate entertainer. He was also odd, eccentric and allegedly "strange" around children. Abused in childhood, stuck in childhood, obsessed with cosmetic surgery, he as a product of Hollywood -- and in some ways a product of the twisted energy of fans. He is reported to have been canny and clever in the business world, no shrinking violet there -- but in his personal life, there are some who say he was manipulative, others who say he was charming and genuine. Odds are they are all right.

Do you remember the movie "Rose"? It was a thinly veiled depiction of Janis Joplin's life. Rose actually dies on stage. It is a comment on her life. It becomes the "perfect" ending for a life lived in the intrusive spotlight. Die onstage. Fans roar.

Michael Jackson was never a man, always a commodity. Could he have stepped back from fame? I'm not sure he knew where that was. In any case, his death, like his life, made me sad.

The BET Awards chose to only depict him as a musical genius. I think that is OK. It may have made more sense for a separate event to take place, but that as it is, they worked hard to show his life and music in its purest form. After all, memorial services rarely trot out any negative sides of the departed.

So at this event, how do they precede the very moving remarks by Janet Jackson?

With one of the single most vulgar raps I have ever heard. In it Lil Wayne says repeatedly that he "wants to fuc* every girl in the world" while underage girls are dancing on stage. Here are the lyrics.

What the hell is BET thinking?

This isn't about Michael. This shouldn't precede Janet.

This shouldn't even be on the air, or in a recording.

How can any woman (let alone any man) sit still for such insulting, anti-woman, entirely sexist GARBAGE being sung? What does this say to our kids? What does it role model?

This isn't about sexuality, or love -- this is about the sexual abuse of women as chattel.

Michael Jackson would have been appalled.

I am contacting BET here. Feel free to join me.
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