Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I finally tracked it down in the archives, along with all the blogged chatter. I thought it was interesting that the author, Steve Gordon, chose to focus on my negative comments rather than the ultimate catharsis of enjoying Thanksgiving as a time to share with some of my favorite people. On the comment board, Hayes summed up my point succinctly by writing, "I don't understand why it so hard to see what a great nation we are and at the same time admit we are not perfect saints and that we have made mistakes and not be called left elitist for it."
What Gordon and the rest of the folks who have logged negative responses don't realize is that I enjoy those as much, if not more, than the supportive responses. Gordon doesn't get it and he won't because he's locked into a different view of patriotism than I am - I believe I can love America despite it's faults and he thinks loving America means ignoring its faults. But I got under his skin a little - I made him think about it at least long enough to write the piece and send it in. He probably even talked to a few people about it and felt really mighty and strong when he saw it in print.
I don't begrudge Gordon any of that - he can call me all the names he wants to but ultimately he's furthering my goal of creating dialogue. My thanks to Gordon, to the posters on the N&R blog and to you, for reading this now!
But poet Etan Thomas makes the argument that we shouldn't try to take its power - we should remember why that word originated and seal it in the ugly annals of history, along with swastikas and Confederate flags. Read his blog post here.
p.s. I'm still going to use the c-word.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I'll keep posting but it might not be as frequently as before, at least until January when I expect the load to lighten a little. Thank you for continuing to check in and for your patience during this jaunt of mine.
Oh, and FYI: my column, which would usually run tomorrow, has been rescheduled this week only for Sunday, to coincide with the Winter Walk for AIDS. If you've never participated, I can't urge you strongly enough - it is a beacon of hope in a bleak fight. I'll be back to Wednesdays on December 13.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Today, my mother and I indulged in our yearly Carolina Craftsman tradition. Though the crowd always annoys us, we can't resist checking out the latest craft fad. This year is was dichromatic glass, mostly jewelry, and wildlife photography. Among the most pleasant surprises were a photographer who shot the most amazing still lifes and a folk artist with one large piece that was Carmen Miranda meets Chicken of the Sea.
I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving as well.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
About an hour ago, our younger dog, Cosmo, began returning the barks of dogs across the neighborhood - we could hear them like a muffled dog choir. Cosmo, being the polite dog he is, was giving his little bark but it's still a lot more than I like to hear during what I consider to be the middle of the night. Still, we were mostly asleep... until the doorbell rang. I'm pretty sure Rob yelled; I'm positive both dogs started barking in their outdoor voices.
A peak out of the window showed a cop car parked outside of our house. In retrospect, I wish we had the presence of mind to answer the door yelling something random and confusing like, "There ain't nothin' unholy about our love!"
As it was, we just answered the door to find a young, round cop clutching his 12-gauge. Seems that an emaciated pit bull was on the loose and our neighbor suggested it might be ours. For the record, we have two well-fed mixed-breeds, both of whom are indoor dogs and neither of whom look remotely like a pit bull. We suspect the neighbor who fingered us is the very one who keeps two dogs in a small-ish outdoor pen 24/7 (we've hatched a half dozen plans to spring them) and who, a year ago or so, asked us if we could keep our dogs inside so his outdoor dogs wouldn't bark at them. Sure thing, buddy - we'll potty train them.
Just then, the pit bull charged the cop who quickly asked, then immediately entered our house. Can't blame him or the dog - if my ribs were sticking out, I'd be thinking about biting a cop too. The cop kept apologizing; apparently he'd had a couple of bad experiences with pit bulls and has even had to shoot a couple to get out of it - he was pretty well determined to not have to hurt this dog. We stuck an enormous bowl of food out of the door which the dog ate in a matter of moments... probably too much for one sitting on a shrunken stomach but we were hoping to distract it until animal control could arrive.
Eventually the cop snuck out the back door and through our gate. From our window, we saw him lure the pit bull into the backseat of his cruiser. It was a pretty slick move, actually, though I wonder if the cop will regret it when the dog either pukes up all the food he ate and/or eats the upholstery.
To me, the really sad part is that people buy pit bulls because they want a mean dog and they train them to be that way; the fact that the dog was starved just made it all the worse. Maybe pit bulls do have a greater inherent tendency toward meanness, but any dog would turn mean under some circumstances, and pit bulls can be sweethearts if raised with love.
On the upside, the early wake-up call gave us ample time to get the turkey out of the brine, rinse it off and reconfigure the fridge to give the bird room to dry until it goes into the oven tomorrow morning.
Over and out.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I did manage to sit down with the Sunday N&R and meant to comment on a couple of things but right now I can only remember one: a hearty congratulations to Mary Watson Ray whose wedding announcement ran Sunday. She and I went to high school together and were very friendly across clique lines (she was on the preppy/popular side, I was on the Sarah side, whatever that was - I really should post a high school picture or two - what fashion sense! What innovation! Whatever...) Mary Watson used to call me Sugar Bugger which still ranks as my all-time favorite nickname. She's a wonderful person and I wish her a lifetime of happiness with her groom!
I'm also tickled, though not surprised, that her wedding portrait in the paper was absolutely beautiful... I've become a bit of a newspaper wedding portrait connoisseur lately, since I realized the comedy gold to be found there. Some of these wedding photographers should be lashed with a wet noodle (my old piano teacher's favorite threat) for the bizarre poses they put some of these unsuspecting brides in - leaning over railings, twisted around as though trying to look at their own asses... for that matter, lashes to the brides who opt to put those awful pictures in the paper... I take that back: you look great, ladies. Keep 'em coming and thanks for the laughs!
All of which is a perfect though unintentional segue into Michael Richards's recent foray into racism. There's really nothing to say about that but, "C'mon, Michael - what the hell?" The power of the n-word continues to loom large because racism still does - of course black people can say it, just as my sister and I feel free to joke about Jewish people but would quickly chew a non-Jew out for doing the same - we can treat ourselves however we want to. Surely, this was not the kind of celeb comeback Richards has been hoping for since Seinfeld ended.
Maybe Richards will spend this Thanksgiving being thankful for the 15 minutes he had... My Thanksgiving ritual begins tonight when I submerge my 23 lb bird (I hope my 4 guests are really hungry) into a brown sugar and salt brine where it will sit overnight. Tomorrow I rinse and let it dry uncovered in the fridge which leads to the awkward salmonella dance - trying to keep a decent radius of space between the raw turkey and unsuspecting milk jugs.
I'll post more about this later, but just a quick reminder that Winter Walk for AIDS is coming up - December 3. Come walk - you'll love the side of Greensboro you see there! Or you can donate to our team here. Jones Computer and Networking, the company I co-own with my husband, will be matching donations dollar for dollar up to $1,000 - your donation will go a long way in the fight against AIDS!
Monday, November 20, 2006
I hardly recognize my street these days. Multicolored leaves cling to the trees; kids at the bus stop wear jackets and sometimes gloves. A few Halloween decorations remain on lawns; a few Christmas decorations have appeared. Sitting here in my tee-shirt, it hardly seems possible that Thanksgiving could be a week away. But there it is, taunting me with its mixed meaning.
Each year around this time, flyers start popping up around
Maybe they did; maybe some small band of good Europeans befriended the indigenous people, trading skills and tools and cooking up some mythical pot luck. Rumor has it, the natives agreed to bring their special cranberry sauce but it turned out it was canned.
Sadly, no amount of elementary school pageantry, no number of Timmys dressed as turkeys, no amount of headdresses or faux-deer smocks can turn
Each year, I wrestle with Thanksgiving’s dirty secret, even as it is buried beneath neighborhood games of touch football and cartoon character parade balloons. I think about it even as I embark on the multi-day ritual of brining, drying and roasting the turkey; even as I coordinate pot-luck side-dishes; even as I eagerly tally the RSVPs from the mish-mash of family, friends and friends of friends who spend the day at my home.
This year, like the years before, I will eventually console myself by agreeing to be saddened by our past while appreciating a tradition that gives me an excuse to spend time with many of the people I enjoy. I will treat Thanksgiving like the sappy version of any other dinner party, replacing Mediterranean finger foods with sweet potato casserole and cornbread stuffing.
Thanksgiving is also an opportunity to truly consider the meaning of the word, and in so doing spend real time considering our fortunes. In that way, Thanksgiving sometimes reminds me of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In order to truly observe either, we must not only consider the events of the previous year – what went right, what went wrong – but consider how to turn those into a better year to come.
While on Yom Kippur, we beat our chests and beg forgiveness, on Thanksgiving we can take a less intense approach. I’m thankful for a supportive, smart, fun husband, so next year I’ll work even harder to not take my bad moods out on him. I’m thankful to have a thriving career doing work I love, so next year I will be vigilant to seize every opportunity.
I’m thankful to be American. Despite our ugly history that extends well beyond the settlers, through the slave trade and into today’s political and global scandals, this is an amazing country with unlimited potential. Next year, I will do my part to move our country even closer to what it should be: the global role-model for freedom and democracy.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
As a friend, I've had the opportunity to taste many of Alita's cakes so I can say definitively that everything she makes is amazing, though Rob and I have a serious soft-spot for her carrot cake which is unbelievably moist with icing that's fluffy and not too rich.
Yes! Weekly did justice to Alita's cakes in their article this week but they left out one essential detail: if you want to order Alita's carrot (mmmm.... carrot cake....), red velvet or chocolate cakes, or any of her gourmet, all butter pound cakes, email her at ASC@triad.rr.com or call her at 336.510.0313. Your co-workers/friends/family/special someone will love you for it!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
As it turns out, Harold and Kumar may be more to the real Harris's taste, as evidenced by Harris's ultra-smooth admission to being gay last week. It was everything a coming-out should be: low-key, totally lacking in sensation, honest and straight forward.
I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest.
Leonard Pitts, Jr. did an admirable job in his column yesterday, comparing this kind of honest, healthy admission with the recent outing of gay-basher Ted Haggard. One one hand, we have Harris, who presumably has taken his acceptance of himself into healthy relationships - or, at the very least, honest relationships. On the other hand, we have Haggard who has lied to himself, lied to his wife of 28 years, and had children in this dishonest, self-hating atmosphere. As Pitts so succinctly says,
I bet [Haggard's wife] wishes he had 'flaunted' his homosexuality a long time ago.Would Haggard have felt the compulsion to hide his true sexuality, and carried on this kind of massive, pervasive lie, if we as a country admitted that homosexuality is an inborn trait, and accepted gays and lesbians accordingly? I doubt it.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Defying my requests that he stay 6 for a while longer, my nephew had his 7th birthday this weekend. Kids ran around, at least one cried, sugar was enjoyed by all. My bro-in-law launched his new kids' party band, Big Bang Boom - lots of interactive stuff and nothing that made adult ears bleed... except, perhaps, my mother and I singing along to our old favorite, Don't Stick Your Finger Up Your Nose. It's a classic, I swear.
And now for Thanksgiving... I have this weird relationship with Thanksgiving. As a kid, I usually ended up at my step-mother's parents' house which, while they were welcoming and all, never became part of my holiday tradition, if that makes any sense.
I started cooking my own Thanksgiving dinner six years ago, when a friend's mom moved away, leaving said friend longing for some sort of Thanksgiving continuity. I barely cooked at the time; I had certainly never roasted a turkey. I remember my then-girlfriend's mom going into a Massachusetts-accent frenzy when I mentioned the bird was still in the freezer three days before Thanksgiving. Somehow it all came together, though, and I've been cooking ever since.
I have these fantasies of big Thanksgiving dinners, people I like scattered all over the house with plates in their laps, general merriment all around. In the last few years, we've gotten half-way there: general merriment has been had though we've yet to break the sitting-around-the-table barrier. I plan to take advantage of the table-lock this year by trying to get a game of Apples to Apples started. If you haven't played this, you have to run out and get it - now! Players have cards with nouns written on them; the judge (which changes every round) throws out an adjective card. Players add the noun card they think is best described by the adjective and the judge picks a completely subjective winner... it's a lot more fun than my description. With my smart-ass group of friends, you end up with adjective/noun pairs like "Hilarious Hitler" and that kind of thing... Booze helps but isn't absolutely necessary...
I've ordered Jones CAN holiday cards and am thinking about being done with my Hannumas shopping... where did this year go?
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The fact that the Webb v. Allen race is still neck and neck is a little concerning - is Allen that charismatic or are Virginians that a) blind b) backwards c) there's no c - as far as I can tell, those are the only two possible reasons. My apologies to my family, many of whom are VA residents - maybe they can help me understand.
And Florida: Mark Foley?!? Seriously, 48% of you voted for Mr. Protect-our-kids-until-their-parents-aren't-watching? Mr. See-you-as-soon-as-you're-18?
But that's democracy, I suppose. I may think the voters backing Allen and Foley are twisted, sad people who were probably humiliated in front of their third grade classes, but majority wins. I have to confess that I was concerned about the validity of this election (and reports of photo IDs required to vote suggests an attempt to weed out immigrants) but the paper printout attached to the voting machine I used today made me feel a little better... a little...
I'm off to bed, perhaps to awaken to solid, honest election results or maybe to headlines exposing some amazingly choreographed poll fraud. Only time will tell... Happy Election Day! May Democracy be with you!
We caught Claypool last year in Baltimore, touring as his solo incarnation which includes accompaniment by Gabby LaLa on the electric sitar. It was a great show except that Rob and I have reached that point in our lives where the crowds bouncing into us, and the long hours standing on the cement floor before the show even starts, and the copious cigarette smoke really get to us... to the point that we swear off club gigs forever... right before another band pops up that we really want to see. But Primus is a must see, so off we went to the Tabernacle, an old church that has been converted to a venue. The organ pipes are still the backdrop to the stage; every square inch of the walls and ceiling have been decorated with geometric shapes in red, white and black. Two balconies ring the main floor - balconies with seats, mind you. We scored a couple of choice seats directly above stage right. When Claypool finally took the stage (after much anticipatory chanting of "Primus sucks" - endearment, believe it or not), we were 30 feet away from him which meant that we could watch his hands fly across his base, often playing one tune on the body and a completely different tune on the neck. As a bonus, there was no smoking in the auditorium - which, of course, didn't mean there was no smoking but there was certainly less, and people waited much longer to light up.
The set list was short but each song included its own enhancements and solos. Every song was flawless - even more impressive than on their recordings... I know almost nothing about music - except if I like it - so I won't try to describe or explain why it was such an amazing show except that I spent the entire time torn between watching the band and dancing like the idiot I am. It's the kind of music where you have no choice but to bounce - it just gets its grip on you. In the standing room section, there were even a couple of mini-mosh pits of the old school variety - the kind of good-natured pummeling where people check on the kid that fell before beating the crap out of him some more.
An unexpected treat for Rob was his favorite, a b-side if Primus has any, Sergeant Baker and finished the night with what Claypool called a Celtic ditty inspired - as is his entire career - by Sting: Wynona's Big Brown Beaver which is about the animal... sort of...
The opening band, Rasputina, was also impressive, particularly considering they are made of two cellists and a drummer - again, it was amazing the sounds they coaxed from cellos. It strikes me that Claypool seems to choose his opening bands in order to give up-and-comers exposure rather than the standard practice of choosing openers who are a draw on the own right.
Like all great shows, it was over before we were ready... and though I've seen some great bands - Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dogg, Erikah Badu, BB King, Johnny Lang, Indigo Girls, etc - this easily ranks as the best show in the best venue... it's gonna be a hard one to top...
Friday, November 03, 2006
With Bush's clear support of "aggressive interrogation," I have no doubt that the abuses by Cardona and the rest of the Abu Ghraib crew were sanctioned from the top, however subtly. Which leaves me wondering which is worse: that they would use these people as patsies for crimes they encouraged or that they wouldn't subject their patsies to the full extent of the law.
Now Cordona gets another chance to die in a pointless war, becoming a statistic that most of us will gloss over in our morning paper, much like the more than 100 Americans dead in October alone.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
There's never a bad time to start eating locally!
It seems like just weeks ago that I was eagerly anticipating the spring revitalization of the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market: the return of Goat Lady Dairy chevre at the end of their kidding season, spring salad greens, green tomatoes, the first strawberries and the slow, steady filling of the aisles with familiar faces, the subculture of local food enthusiasts.
But October is over; the Market vendors will shift from predominately farmers to predominately craftspeople until the winter holidays have passed. Then the Market will become truly sparse through the coldest months.
The end of the growing season is even more jarring than usual for my husband and me. This was our first year participating in a CSA, or Consumer Supported Agriculture.
The particulars of CSA programs vary by farmer; some expect members to spend a set time working at the farm, others expect only a monetary buy-in. In exchange, members get a share of the farm’s freshest goods, usually vegetables but sometimes meats or dairy depending on the farm. More than a dozen small farms in
We chose to join Handance Farm’s CSA in large part because I have more than a decade of history with the farmers, Pat and Brian Bush. I met Pat in the early-90s when she ran the kitchen at
It wasn’t until last year, though, that I rediscovered the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market, reconnected with the Bushes and learned about their CSA which is filled with the heirloom organic veggies they so carefully cultivate.
The Bushes ask for only a monetary buy-in; they offer farm work opportunities but do not require it. The CSA begins its cycle in January, when members reserve their spot by sending in a check for $320. This past year, pre-season monies allowed Pat and Brian to purchase a much needed and hard to find mulch spreader; you can imagine the added efficiency when you realize that prior to this purchase, they hauled mulch by the bucket-load down every long row.
We started picking up our bags in May – reused paper grocery bags, packed with kale, beets, tomatoes, eggplant… The contents changed by the week and though seasonality is a predictor of what we would get, there was still the element of surprise and the culinary adventure of learning how to use a half-dozen varieties of greens and keeping delicata squash interesting for the fourth week in a row.
In addition to all the farm-fresh produce that two people could eat in a week (and often more), Pat and Brian also included a paragraph summary of that week on the farm. It’s not weeding a bed of garlic, but for non-farmers it offers a slightly closer connection to the land, something we often forget in the grocery stores where even our potatoes are immaculately dirt-free and every apple looks shiny and identical.
Over the winter, I will reacquaint myself with the produce people at the grocery store, who I now only see on my way to the coffee aisle. My husband and I will eat vegetables that have traveled more miles from farm to our kitchen than we will have traveled all year. And we will eagerly anticipate next May when our first CSA bag offers more treasures unearthed from the
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
- Are you familiar with the term "peak oil"? If so, what actions do you plan to take to help us deal with the coming energy crisis?
- What has your greatest challenge in Congress been over the last few years, and how do you propose to tackle those particular issues if reelected? What would you do differently?"
The greatest challenge is how the middle class can have a prosperous future. The income of the middle class has not kept up with inflation. We need to support job training programs so we can have the most skilled workforce in the world. We need to support research that will lead to new job-creating businesses.
- Do you think the
USshould maintain military bases in , even after our withdrawal? If so, why do you think that is necessary. If not, will you vote against any appropriations that fund the construction of such bases? Iraq
No, I have sponsored legislation to prohibit permanent military bases in
- I am interested in Congressman Miller's reading list. What has he read lately? Is there a recently published non-fiction book that he wishes everyone else would read?
Most of my recent reading has been light fiction. I just finished a pot-boiler by Stuart Woods, Iron Orchid.
- What is Congressman Miller's approach to further informing himself and others about the economic and social developments in
Indiaand that continue to effect jobs in NC? Does he see an upside for NC companies in the trends of outsoucing and offshoring? And if so, what are his recommendations for NC businesses to capitalize on globalization instead of just falling victim to a continued loss of jobs? China
We need to have the most skilled workforce in the world. We can’t compete for low-skilled jobs in labor intensive industries. We need workers who can perform most sophisticated jobs in any industry. And, we need to stop giving American corporations tax breaks when they move jobs from the
- Would Congressman Miller support Bush impeachment proceedings?
No, but I support oversight of the Bush Administration by Congress which the Republican Congress has not done for 6 years.
- With the big money required to win a campaign, corporate sponsorships seem to be giving big business tremendous influence over elected officials. Is it possible for a candidate to be elected to any national position without being beholden to “the highest bidder?” Along those lines what can be done to reform campaign financing so the people know that their elected officials are the peoples’ elected officials?
We need to elect political leaders with the backbone to say “no.” We need to explore ways to limit money in campaigns that won’t be struck down by courts as unconstitutional. I am a supporter of the Democrats’ plan for “open government, honest leadership” . For more information, go to: http://www.democrats.org/a/2006/01/the_democratic.php
- Where do you stand on the rights of gay and lesbian Americans, including gay marriage, partner benefits, and the rights of two same-sex parents to share legal custody of children? Do you support “Don’t ask, don’t tell”?
I have sponsored legislation to end “don’t ask,don’t tell.”
I otherwise think those laws should be decided by states, not the federal government as they have been for more than 200 years.