D25: Dirt for Food

I’m not the only one who saw this AP news story in the blogosphere, In hungry Haiti dirt is food that tells of the rising costs of even the dirt itself.
At the market in the La Saline slum, two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.
Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared to food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy.
Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.

"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds 3 ounces he weighed at birth.

Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies also give her stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky too," she said.

This Caribbean economy depends on imports.The article lists the following items as contributing to almost 40% rise in places:

  • Higher oil prices for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation.
  • Prices up for basic ingredients, corn and wheat
  • Increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets
  • Floods and crop damage from the 2007 hurricane season
A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.

This story is heartbreaking, but that isn’t the only aspect the indignity of people eating dirt in a world with enough food. I’m not sure if most educated westerners know that Haitians have been the recipients of America’s imperialist strategy for a century or more. I read comments this morning on Sharon’s blog and was shocked at the victim blaming and over simplification of this situation. One commenter was 'advising' Sharon to make her post more brief. Well, it made me cranky.

My own essay contained more historical information. I put off finishing my writing until I could be free of my emotional response to those comments this morning.

Just the political sabotage alone of the 2004 Bush Administration kidnapping of a democratically elected leader, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is evidence.

The president won two elections, the last with 90% of the vote. If he were in Haiti today and he ran again, he would win overwhelmingly again. The United States provided money through the International Republican Institute to form a false opposition to Aristide in the country. The rich and the elites, who were threatened because he raised the minimum wage from $1 to $2 a day, threatened because he had proposed to banish the use of the word “peasants” on the birth certificate of poor black Haitians, threatened by a man who was loved by his people because he wanted to protect the interests of the poorest among them. And the United States overthrew that democracy. And it is so simply provable. The smallest investigation would prove what the United States has done in this case.

Lest we believe that George Bush and the NeoCons were atypical in interfering in Haitian government, I include several paragraphs of history. This is history that is rarely taught in US schools. I like to think of American Civics or History classes as *mything in action*. A phrase I stole from Heretik and I will continue to use it.

This is from the Randall Robinson, author An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, interview on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now.

RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, Haiti was the largest piece of France’s global empire. It was its great profit center, that slave colony with 465,000 enslaved Africans working there, many of whom had been soldiers in African armies before they were brought to Haiti. And in August of 1789—or 1791, rather, 40,000 of those slaves revolted and started a war that lasted twelve-and-a-half years under the leadership of an ex-slave and a military genius named Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. And this army of ex-slaves defeated two French armies, first the French army before the completion of their revolution and then another army dispatched by Napoleon under the leadership of his brother-in-law, and then the armies of England and Spain. 150,000 blacks died in that twelve-and-a-half-year war. And in January of 19—1804, rather, they declared Haiti the first free republic in the Americas, because the United States was then a country that held slaves.

During the revolution, Thomas Jefferson said he would like to reduce Toussaint to starvation. George Washington lamented and vilified that revolution. The US imposed an embargo, recognized a new French government, but did not recognize the new Haitian free government and imposed a comprehensive economic embargo on Haiti until the Emancipation Proclamation. In fact, France imposed reparations on Haiti in 1825, and the interest that Haiti had to pay in loans that were American and French loans to service this debt to France, absorbed virtually 80% of Haiti’s available budget 111 years after the completion of their revolution until 1915. It was only in 1947 that Haiti was able to pay off its debt.

AMY GOODMAN: The debt that was incurred as a result of France not having access to the enslaved people of Haiti.

RANDALL ROBINSON: The Haitians had to pay France for no longer having the privilege of owning Haitian slaves. That revolution provoked the end of slavery in the Americas. And so, that’s why it is so important that all African people, people generally in the Americas, because Haiti funded and fought in South American revolutions. That’s why Haiti is so honored in places like Venezuela by people like Simon Bolivar. Haiti was central to all of this. And we’re in Haiti’s debt.

AMY GOODMAN: Simon Bolivar came to Haiti.

RANDALL ROBINSON: Haiti, and was given arms and was given men, was given a printing press, because the Haitians believed that anybody who was enslaved anywhere had a home and a refuge in Haiti. Anybody seeking freedom had a sympathetic ear in Haiti. But because of that, the United States and France and the other Western governments, even the Vatican, made them pay for so terribly long. It’s as if the anger of it never abated. I mean, you can hear Frederick Douglass talking about it in the late 1800s, about this thing in the American craw.

AMY GOODMAN: The US government didn’t recognize Haiti for decades, the Congress, going back to Thomas Jefferson, afraid that the slave uprising would inspire US slaves.

I feel it is vital that we look honestly at our country’s behavior in the world. It is painful and shameful. But, it is moronic to make world hunger a simplistic issue of our global warming, climate crisis issues alone. Racing around wanting to ‘fix’ these developing countries is precisely the arrogant error imperialist apologists are claiming to do. Even the well meaning actions of the United Nations must confront the imperialist power of the US, despite our preference for Myths America.

AMY GOODMAN: Randall, you talked about how when President Aristide was president, before he was forced out, he was supposed to be getting hundreds of millions of dollars from the Inter-American Development Bank, I think it was, for health issues.

RANDALL ROBINSON: The loan had been fully approved. It was for $146 million. It was for health issues, for literacy, for things associated with social programs, roads and some infrastructure projects. The United States blocked that loan. And so, on the one hand, it starved the economy of Haiti. On the other hand, it trained the opposition. On another hand, it armed the paramilitaries. And in the last analysis, American forces invaded and abducted the president. [emphasis mine]

I too want to believe the US action around the world fit my best notions of the best people I have known, read and respected. But that is a fairy tale. Some really stupid, shortsighted and even miserable human beings have represented our nation with secret orders, and objectives. That is, the worst rather than our best.

Lest we believe that Haiti is unique, I turned to our latest invasion and found more people eating from the dirt, the garbage heaps.

IRAQ: Hundreds forced to scavenge for food in garbage bins
Barira Mihran, a 36-year-old mother of three, scavenges every day in other people’s dustbins in Baghdad for leftovers on which to feed her children.

“Sometimes you have to fight for a dustbin. Many women know which houses have good leftovers and so they wait for hours near the houses until the leftovers are thrown in the bins outside. Then you can see at least 10 people, women and children, running to get it, and I will be in the middle of the crowd, for sure,” Barira added.

Barira, an educated woman, has now joined hundreds of other mothers who rummage through rubbish bins for food to feed their children, according to the Baghdad-based Women’s Rights Association (WRA), which conducted a survey of displaced families and people living on the streets in 12 provinces (excluding the Kurdistan region) between January and August 2007.

“This is now a common sight, especially in Baghdad - mothers standing near dustbins trying to find some food for their children,” Mayada said.

Government monthly food rations - including rice, beans, lentils, flour and cooking oil - are in principle available to Iraqi families regardless of income, on production of proof of citizenship and a fixed address.

The system was introduced by former President Saddam Hussein to offset the impact of sanctions and paid for by Iraqi oil under UN administration. The system is currently reaching only 60 percent of its target, and quality and quantities are in decline, Iraqi officials say.

With refugees in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands, possibly more than a million, the picture of people unable to get this assistance is pretty clear. But we can’t deny the cause of a nation of starving people, primarily women and children. Our pResident and his cronies took us to war on a lie. And I can imagine no Iraqi family even thinking they would have to plan for feeding a family if the food supply was taken from them.

We who are paying attention to the global issues of war, peak oil, corporate greed, climate crisis and economic failure are trying to make our green plans. We want to do whatever we can for our own families and for the larger world community. Final words on this today I lifted again from Democracy Now.

In August Democracy Now had guest Naomi Klein, author chilling book , The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and Think Tanks to Battle Tanks as a guest on her program.

Is Another World Possible?’ That was the theme of this year’s annual meeting of the American Sociological Association that was held in New York City this past weekend.

“We did not lose the battles of ideas. We were not outsmarted and we were not out-argued,” journalist and author Naomi Klein said. “We lost because we were crushed. Sometimes we were crushed by army tanks, and sometimes we were crushed by think tanks. And by think tanks I mean the people who are paid to think by the makers of tanks.” [snip]

“The real problem, I want to argue today, is confidence, our confidence, the confidence of people who gather at events like this under the banner of building another world, a kinder more sustainable world. I think we lack the strength of our convictions, the guts to back up our ideas with enough muscle to scare our elites. We are missing movement power. That’s what we’re missing. “The best lacked all convictions,” Yeats wrote, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Think about it. Do you want to tackle climate change as much as Dick Cheney wants Kazakhstan’s oil? Do you? Do you want universal healthcare as much as Paris Hilton wants to be the next new face of Estee Lauder? If not, why not? What is wrong with us? Where is our passionate intensity?
I would rather that the elite eat dirt. Do I have the intensity?

D24: Democratic Leadership Like Fainting Goats

Update: Many months later I find I am offended by the particular video I'd originally chosen. The only Democrats being mocked in the video were women. I was pissed I'd missed the misogyny the first time. Chagrin . . .

D24: Daikon radishes, Dates and Dairy decisions

New discovery this week was the Jimbo’s whole foods store. Because of the rain on Sunday and my mood, I didn’t make it to the Farmer’s Market. But, I also knew I wanted to find organic, local milk in a glass bottle and I wanted to check out the organic bulk foods.

The most stunning bit of information is that Jimbo’s is just a couple miles from my home and I didn’t realize it. I couldn’t believe this whole shopping center existed virtually under my nose. If that doesn’t prove what a non-consumer I am, I don’t know what would. The architecture was the ubiquitous ugliness that is now the national norm. Overpriced everything is my experience everywhere, all the time. I am out of phase with the world around me.

But, the really great news is that I bought some kale and these bright orange beets grown at the Be Wise farm down the road. I used to belong to the CSA program with Be Wise. Finally I found milk in a glass bottle, though the cap is plastic. The dairy is 521 miles away, but I just couldn’t find one more locally. The dates and Daikon are organic, but 152 miles away. Not shown here are the small green onions I have growing in my raised garden bed. They came back from last year. I had the bed covered in black plastic and they still came up. Cool.

The Daikon and local beets will be roasted to add to my lentils. The idea to roast the vegetables came from both Melinda, proprietor of Elements in Time and Chile, who commented about roasting on Melinda’s recent comments on making vegetable stock. Melinda’s photos make roasting the vegetable more enticing. The photos here are from her step by step description of roasting vegetable. Her encouraging, sharing blog is a pleasure to visit.

My brand new, out of the comfort zone, food for this ‘D’ week is Daikon. I tried it raw, roasted and stewed. I may be one of the few who don’t know much about Daikon, but I will share some fun facts to know and tell anyway. What did I think?

Description - The word Daikon actually comes from two Japanese words: dai (meaning large) and kon (meaning root). Daikon is root vegetable said to have originated in the Mediterranean and brought to China for cultivation around 500 B.C. Roots are large, often 2 to 4 inches in diameter and 6 to 20 inches long. The Path to Freedom also has great Daikon visuals, information and recipes here.

Oh, have I mentioned that the dates were a totally impulsive buy? I adore dates. I can’t believe I lived all those years in Phoenix, in the land of dates, and very rarely ever ate them. Strange?! I have been wanting something sweet and my wishes are fulfilled. When I was a chef for a Jesuit community at Creighton University, I’d duck into the walk-in for a date treat during my shift. I also made some really mean recipes from Joy of Cooking using dates, my love.

Now let me dive into the dairy decision. I have vacillated with dairy versus no dairy. Last year I checked The China Study from the local library. It was a real eye opener for me to read about the casein in dairy being so negative for the human body. At least all of this study in China pointed to this according to Wikipedia.
The authors introduce and explain the conclusions of scientific studies, which have correlated animal-based diets with disease. The authors conclude that diets high in protein, particularly animal protein (such as casein in bovine milk) and diets high in animal fat are strongly linked to diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

As with any single source study, these claims are under fire. And news of all of the antibiotics fed cows now is also disturbing for me. That doesn’t mean that the hormone laced milk doesn’t upset me on so many levels. I first heard of this while watching the Canadian documentary film several years ago, The Corporation. When journalist tried to put their findings about the dangerous practice of injecting hormones into cattle on Fox television they learned the power of the Corporation. They were fired and the story could not get aired. Now, years later this same story continues. Ethicurean has some of the best up to the minute coverage I have seen of this Dairy fight.

This year I have come to a sort of compromise within myself. I think I can endure passing up cheese – especially the cheese food I grew up on mid-century, midwest style. But, I feel a great gaping need for yogurt. There I have said it. When I met my ex-husband’s middle eastern family I thought the yogurt, plain yogurt mind you, was just disgusting. But that changed dramatically in my first years of marriage as I had my children. Maybe it was pregnancy. I don’t know. I remember my mother in law making it and I think it is time for me to do this. That will be a post for another day.

D23: Denial . . . continued

Confronting self-denial is a central aspect to self-help methods used in addiction programs. George Marshall’s book “Carbon Detox” uses this approach for his book on 'green' language.
And when it comes to solutions I argue that we set ourselves up for failure [if we are] taking personal action out of guilt in the face of a huge global problem. Instead I suggest something deeper and harder – re-writing the story we tell ourselves about who we are. So forget about ‘saving the planet’, the reason for going through the ‘detox’ and living a lighter carbon life is because you are smart, honest and want to live in the present.

Oh, I like that. I want to be smart and honest and live in the present. I like that far better than feeling badly that I have been a sound asleep, when not greedy, privileged shit. (/snark)

Ethical living - Smart Living - Safe Living’: how to target environmental communications

Pat Dade, of Cultural Dynamics, and colleagues, have been using a very rigorous (nationally validated) model of adult values development rooted originally in humanistic/transpersonal psychology pioneer Abraham Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ to understand what has really been happening to people’s values (or ‘Values Modes’, as they dub them) within the green movement and beyond. And, importantly, they explain how to deliver green messages that will actually hit home with diverse audiences and encourage new environmental friendly behaviours. [snip]

Naturally many people might be a mix of all three or may adopt different roles in different company or circumstances, or at different times of life, but usually one of the types is recurringly dominant and is a strong determinant of response and behaviour. In a rather horribly impersonal marketing sort of way, we can therefore divide people very crudely, and with a necessary degree of fluidity, into three sets.

Inner-directed Pioneers are strongly motivated by ethical concerns and stimulated by new ideas and ways of doing things. When becoming aware of a problem, the action mode of inner-directeds is DIY: they are the activists and they most naturally accept campaigning messages. Inner-directeds start things, including social trends, and start change. Most of them have either already gone green or are contemplating it. Inner-directeds are likely to soak up ‘green language’ and eco-paraphernalia and be stimulated by it. Most people reading this report are probably Pioneers.

The dominant motivation of outer-directed Prospectors, on the other hand, is status and the esteem of others. [snip] They are more likely to ask “What’s in it for me?” or “How will that make me look good or be more successful?” There is a danger that outer-directeds will dismiss environmental or ethical campaigns as do-gooding and they are less likely to resonate with green language than inner-directeds. [Snip]

Settlers are also more likely to feel uncomfortable with language that implies challenging authority or traditional values, such as pressure group, campaign or demo, and find other green language that implies instability or threat unsettling. There is a high risk that messages using Pioneer-style approaches might be blocked or dismissed.

This framework might yield more success than running a campaign that pretends everyone thinks and acts in the same way. It’s naturally more work for us because it means segmenting out our audiences and addressing them separately but then changing behaviour is about the hardest thing to achieve and needs complex approaches.

Well, I suspect my approach wouldn’t appeal much to a ‘Settler’ because my communication style is fucking ‘unsettling’ and anarchy often feels like a superior solution to me. That may be overstating it, but this country’s ‘center’ has gone so unquestioningly far right I often feel like an incredibly radical old broad. Add to this conundrum the whole generation coming up who simply have no information about anything prior to this administration. That is a problem outside the theme for today of denial. That is a whole population of young who aren’t denying facts; they aren’t being given many facts at all on television, in the news, movies, papers, churches or at a kitchen tables. Maybe this is a post unto itself.

To return to the Settler in the above scenario, I want to acknowledge the 21-24% of people who will never, ever be dissuaded that Chucklenuts isn’t doing a great job, that Saddam was involved in bombing the World Trade Towers, that people are not responsible for the Climate Crisis and the Democrats caused the budget deficit. Despite voting against their best interests, this percentage are simply never going to be people who I will have dialog. There is nothing for me to say to them.

Now the outer-directed 'Prospectors' gang are not my peeps. This is a group I don’t have entrée to due to being too old, too poor, too unattractive, too serious, too female and too critical of white privledge. I know this crew and it is greed v green all the way. Harrumph. They are worth trying to sway, but probably not by me.

So, my self-involved little soul stands alone. It isn’t entirely true as I have some 'Pioneer' cred. I accidentally have had some great interactions with the 'neophyte', the 'traditional' and the ‘style’ types of communicators. In fact, the *internets* is the best place to stumble on connectivity. It is especially helpful to not be immediately dismissed for being (see above) unacceptable. For my make-a-(green)plan blog, I will not deny I tend to preach to the choir. But, our choir still needs a whole hell of a lot of work and support. I enjoy bolstering my compatriots along the way. It is important to me to acknowledge that my strengths are not to be a direct facilitator to the unconvinced. But, I will pay attention to my team, the ones more than willing to face his or her self-denial, attempt self-disclosure and move forward.

I am glad that there are those I read (check out my blogroll) who are stellar in building bridges to the sustainable world concepts and practices. Colin at NIM has a running dialog with someone I wouldn’t have even engaged in a conversation. Susan at StepWise is completely involved in community workshops on communication and gives great resources. There are so many reaching out. You will find authors and community leaders within that list. Plenty of room within this movement for all kinds of people, nationalities, beliefs, approaches and communications, I say. The only requirement is that we can’t pretend it isn’t happening.

D23: Denial of Reality

Debates, schemmates . . . Our biggest danger in this life is that there are no debates in this country. Debates paid for by the coal industry of course will have no questions, no discussions about drought, global warming, climate change, food supplies. Business as usual, move along, there is nothing to see in the environment, lets talk silly stuff instead. Okay? Okay.

And then the Decider does another raft of dishonest claims in the speech last night. I discovered Think Progress did a good job of parsing the speech. For those of us interested in sustainable life policy decisions (or lack of decisions), I include a few of these deconstructed claims. The deceptive speech is followed by the facts.
SOTU: Bush Has Repeatedly Blocked Global Climate Efforts

Bush said: “And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride.”

FACT — BUSH BLOCKED GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE EFFORTS: The United States remains the only industrialized nation to refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol. At the most recent global conference on climate change in Bali, the United States rejected mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions and was “principally responsible for obstructing progress.” [National Geographic, 12/3/07; BBC, 12/15/07; Reuters, 12/13/08]
FACT — ‘MAJOR EMITTERS’ MEETING UNDERMINES GLOBAL EFFORTS: This week, the United States will convene a “major emitters” meeting in Hawaii. By meeting outside of the U.N. framework and by likely agreeing only to “aspirational targets,” Bush’s ‘major emitters’ meetings undermines the efforts of the United Nations to draw up a global binding agreement. [Reuters, 1/27/08; NYT, 9/24/07; BBC, 12/13/07]

SOTU: Bush’s Policies Have Catered To Energy Interests

Bush said: “Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future.”

FACT — BUSH AND ALLIES HAVE RAKED IN MILLIONS FROM COAL INTERESTS: During the 2000 campaign, the Bush campaign received more than $2.8 million from energy interests, including $442,739 from electric utilities and $107,821 from the coal mining industry. “Over the last six years, coal companies have donated $9 million to federal political candidates and party organizations, and 90 percent has gone to Republicans.” Massey Energy, one of the largest American producers of coal, boasts one director who alone has contributed over $89,000 to Republicans over the last eight years. [Earth Justice; NYT, 8/9/04; OpenSecrets.org]
FACT — BUSH REJECTS RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD: Bush threatened to veto the 2007 energy bill because of the renewable electricity standard that would have required utility companies to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. [Washington Post, 12/4/07]
FACT — BUSH DEMANDED CONGRESS KEEP TAX BREAKS FOR BIG OIL IN ENERGY BILL: Bush also threatened to veto the energy bill over a tax package that would have repealed $13 million in government subsidies and tax breaks to oil companies. The money would have helped pay for the legislation’s renewable energy and energy efficiency provisions. A 2006 analysis by the US Climate Energy Council found that oil companies were slated to receive “$31.6 billion on handouts from taxpayers over the next five years.” [Reuters, 12/12/07, Climate Energy Council, 2006]

To review, the debates have denied realities that we face global climate crisis, Dubya ‘the decider’ has always denied this reality and used the executive branch to cover up science about peak oil, global warming (to name only two). Lastly we can look at the American population. We have denied the reality of many decades of myths about our country and how it works. It seems to me we appear to be an easily duped, distracted or just plain disillusioned electorate. Now that our survival is in the balance and so many of us are aching to make a difference, reality is our mission. The following from Pacific Views inspires me:

So please understand, in all ways, that the greatest tragedy of global warming, this very serious and urgent climate crisis, is inaction. Is a belief in human powerlessness in the face of a problem we ourselves had the power to create. Is the blinkered moronicity that allows leaders to make decisions exactly as if money were edible. Is the trap within which the public is caught that makes it difficult to have the time and resources to do more than buy what they're offered and try to chill out a little bit every evening by the flickering glow of reality television.

And in that frustration, there's the seed of hope. We did this to ourselves. We can't change the inexorable laws of physics that are destabilizing our weather. Yet we can change each other's minds and willingness to act, we can help each other find the way out.

"If one thing could be different, everything could be different." - G.I. Gurdjieff

D22: Dubya disgorges, depletes air around him

I stole from IamTRex, Mock Paper Scissors and I'd like to say, Thanks. If you want to get more pictures of many, many yawns of the bored crowd, check out Shakesville.

I tried to grab the picure of chucklenuts kissing a republican congress critter (Shay), but I had to stop myself.

I don't want to accidentally look at it ever again. I'd be happy if I never again saw 43 , heard his voice or read his name. What a murderous ass.

D22: Dreary Monday

I am a bit blue. Although rain is needed, I want it to rain, but days of drizzle, downpours just depress me. In fact, after receiving some disheartening insight on Sunday about my life, my assumptions I tried to step back and take a look at what triggers my depression - besides dreary weather.

Here is a fascinating pattern I came upon in my own writing. I did a search of the word 'depression' and looked at a year of letter and journal writing. Lo and behold the keyword popped up almost every single month, and more surprising (or not) the keyword, depression, was used at the end of the month. I am a great believer in cycles. It is the pagan, the naturalist in me. This cyclic finding gives me some respite to know that depression is more like a dip - opposite a blip - on my internal delight and satisfaction scale. Did I mention that sometimes my use of the word was brief and unremarkable and other times penetratingly retrospective?

There is a reason I am glib. It is a bit like whistling in the dark. Serious depression has plagued my loved ones as it has in most people's families. But, I have spent a lifetime anxious about depression without actually having been diagnosed. For myself I have grown sick of the melodrama and dread. My relatives are near worshipful of this lifestyle of depression, therapy and lots of pharmaceuticals. (When did people start rattling abbreviations for medications with the assurance that everyone understands?) I am grateful I am functioning without drugs. The cost alone would create an endless cycle of depression.

Speaking of cost, after weeks of rain off and on I realize that the roof repair I paid for 18 months ago failed. I have the occasional droplets of water dripping from my drywall ceiling, despite temporary plastic sheets to cover the area. I will have to deal with that depression in the metal roof of my trailer where the water pools and finds entry into my snug little home. I am hoping to find a solution that both creates a waterproof cover over my trailer roof and a surface to grow a green roof. Spring and summer projects of sustainability that seem far, far away.

And that depression, the economic crash of my lifetime is around the corner. Why wouldn't any sentient human being be depressed? In a word, others . . . Later this morning I pulled aside my curtains and looked upon Matisse before my eyes. My wonderful, creative neighbor designed a laser cut metal piece of Nu bleu (IV) to mount on her fence and I feel like it is my own private art gallery. Pure, delicious delight without cost or medication, may blip me out of my dip.

footnote: SOTU tonight is depressing to even contemplate. I uttery refuse to watch.

C21: The China Syndrome

I woke to another downpour in the middle of the night. The winds were slamming the neighbor's loose roof metal. I went outside around 3 am thinking the banging was a cabinet door I have mounted outside. It wasn't but I couldn't get back to sleep. Wide awake I watched The China Syndrome.

Made in the same year as the Three Mile Island incident, "The China Syndrome" posits a core meltdown in a Californian nuclear plant. What if contractors, driven by profit, omit to x-ray all the welded joints in a power station's water pumps? What if contaminated water leaches into the environment? What if faulty instruments indicate that reactor rods are being cooled, when in fact they are exposed, and generating uncontainable heat?

The film is also a dissertation on the power of the media to shape our awareness. In the opening sequence we see images of Kimberly Wells, the Channel 3 news presenter, but we hear the disembodied voices of directors controlling the newscast. Powerful, unseen people decide what we can see. There are also mishearings and broken links - TV is an imperfect medium and the wrong information can easily be conveyed. "Hey! Hey! Is anybody listening to me?" asks Kimberly. It is a metaphor for the whole film.

I wish everyone would watch this film again - or for the first time. It is so timely now. It is also the best argument why we should not be considering Nuclear as an alternative energy source. As I watched the profit motive driving all of the decisions in this film, I shuddered to think how much worse it is 29 years later.

C21: Counting Votes

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. Joseph Stalin
I am miserable about the campaign. The horserace aspect for the past year is a critical waste of billions of dollars and political attention towards more important things like voter security. I live in an area where the elections have been tampered with, been stolen, for the last 7 years. Minimum.

I thank earthfamilyalpha for this video. As a feminist I applaud this accompanying post by Susan Bright on Hillary Clinton claiming experience as a president when she was a first lady.
But I have never abandoned that first insight — that women are not part of a man’s being, psyche, world. We are individual, free-standing beings.

My husband can build an entire house beginning with a pile of sticks on the ground. Either of my sons can accomplish a break job on a car in minutes. I cannot. It would fool hearted for one to hire me to build a house, or fix the brakes on their car. If I said I could do either based on the experience of my husband and sons, I would be lying.[snip]

I think it does matter how one wins.

It’s not enough to elect a woman if you want to advance the status of women in the world. Thatcher showed us that. Nancy Pelosi is giving us a refresher course. We need an enlightened woman, free of corporate strings, separate from a political machine, an independent thinker, person, being -- not one who claims her husband's experience as her own.

I am particularly fond of Susan's feminist perspective on this. She makes some really great points. It worth reading the whole thing.

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

C20: Cork

I am crazy about cork. And as part of the Re-think It challenge I wanted to describe my project to give my home missing baseboards. But, instead of wood baseboards, I will use cork from wine bottles. The inspiration came from this photo, though my approach will be simpler. I don’t want to include the wood strips.

My son is a general manager at a local restaurant, so I keep bugging him for corks. Alas, I am not a wine drinker. Thank goodness, because I’d worry that for the sake of my baseboards I’d be a drunken sot.

I also have a cork floor that I laid myself. This is a sustainable material from the past. My understanding it's had continued use in Britain, like linoleum, and is making a comeback in this country. I am an unabashed fan of this product. Here are some fun facts to know and tell.

Cork Flooring
  • Superior Resilience
  • Acoustic Insulation (sound absorbing qualities)
  • Compressible and Elastic (returns to shape after subjected to pressure; cork is 82% air, and within that, for every cubic inch there are 200 million air cells; cork will recover 99% after compression)
  • Impermeable to liquids and gases
  • Low Conductivity of heat, sound, or vibrations
  • Extremely high coefficient of friction (very slip resistant)
  • R=5;Natural product that warms and enriches any interior
  • Fire Resistance – cork is inherently fire resistant
  • Good thermal insulation
  • Naturally Hypo–allergenic (resists rot, mildew, and mold)
  • Naturally Anti–Static
  • Easy to install and care for (similar to wood floors)
What’s the history of Cork Growth and Development?
The cork that is used to make cork flooring tiles comes from the Cork Oak, which is found and is most prosperous in a narrow band around the western coast of the Mediterranean. A distinct mixture of temperature, sunlight, relative humidity, and soil make–up is needed for the Cork Oak to flourish. The laws set–up in these areas to protect both the development and peeling of the Cork Oak are stringent, and punishable by strict and ever–present fines. It is considered a natural treasure.

For millions of years, the cork oak has survived on its inherent strength and spontaneous natural regeneration, though artificial regeneration is becoming more common. Selective thinning is also necessary to regulate the density of the cork oak communities, and to remove the aged trees. Cork trees that grow too close together heavily jeopardize their neighbors’ development, for the nutrients in the soil are detrimental to the cork oak’s longevity and success. In general, cork oak communities are thinned every 9–10 years, similar to the time period between which the stripping and pruning is undertaken. Regarding the actual stripping, most countries can only (by law) prune the oak when it is dormant in the winter months between December through March.

These photos were taken during my remodel. The original flooring was covered in yak vinyl. We removed all of this and a whole portion of the rotten trailer floor (not shown here). After all the drywall work was done I laid the cork tiles over the wood subfloors. This lower photo was taken when I decided how to arrange slate tiles for my shower tiling project. Too bad I didn't take a better picture of the cork flooring installation of the 12 inch square tiles. I got them on sale in 2005 for $3/square foot. Besides this good price and all of the features described, I found one of the nicest aspects for me is that this cork pattern hides dirt. Since I've writing about cleaning this week, this seems notable. Oh yes, indeed it is. When I get enough corks to complete the baseboard project I will publish them on make-a(green)plan.

C19: Comedy Parody

This is a follow-up to last week's Batshit Crazy video of Scientology Prince Tom Cruise. It is pretty frightening that the Scientology crew has the kind of relentless dedication to remove that video wherever it appeared - or so it seems.
Huffington Post send up this today. Lovable actor Jerry O'Connell ("Carpoolers," Rebecca Romijn and "Stand By Me") did a spoof of Tom Cruise's Scientology video.

I am a little partial to this actor. When my son was newly enrolled in the High School for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, he was invited to appear on a Saturday morning teen program. The format was a bunch of young aspiring actors interviewing Jerry O'Connell. Though not much older than his interviewers, Jerry was ariculate, warm, funny and respectful of all of these awkward, self conscious teens. It was a thrilling experience for my son and it sticks in my memory as a real gift. He has Cruise's laugh down.

C18: Cleaning the House

There was a point when I thought that I could use all this week writing about cleaning. Yet the challenges and choices of MLK and Roe v Wade just had to be addressed first. But, now it is time. Cleaning is such a metaphor for confronting our poisoned, polluted air, land and water. Cleaning is the language used in the campaigns against political corruption. Cleaning is intimately connected to the politics of feminism. The other glaring reality is the cleaning consumerism based on billions and billions dollars spent by corporations to convince us we are dirty, filthy slobs. We must be swarming in germs, cooties and disease if we were to listen to the ads shouting at us.

Cleaning house is as basic as eating, drinking and sleeping. For myself, I am slowly but surely ridding myself of caustic chemical cleaners and replacing things with healthier versions.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle names products and chemicals in some detail by citing a report released by Women's Voices for the Earth, a Montana-based nonprofit working to eliminate or reduce toxic chemicals in the home. For instance, a type of glycol ether is frequently found in popular cleaning products such as Windex Aerosol, Formula 409, Lemon Fresh Pine-Sol and Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner.
Ethylene glycol butyl ether or EGBE, is on California's list of toxic air contaminants. Some animal studies indicate that it produces reproductive problems, such as testicular damage, reduced fertility, death of embryos and birth defects. People exposed to high levels of EGBE for several hours have reported nose and eye irritation, headaches, vomiting and a metallic taste in their mouths, studies show.
Not only am I sick and tired of all the poisons foisted on us all, I am amazed at the manufactured products in this realm alone. The Swiffer™ is one of the silliest products to clean house in recent years. Millions of dollars spent and millions of chemically filled throwaway paper wipes tossed with this unnecessary product. I just think it is a hoot to use something free or really cheap to do the same thing.

Vinegar, salt, lemon, newspapers and baking soda are the few things in my arsenal for most household cleaning tasks. It is always cheaper and more sustainable to make your own. I only now realized I haven't blogged yet about paper products. I don't use paper towels, so my cleaning rags and newsprint (for glass) are my reuse or recycle methods. The paper can go to the worms. Below are some tips and recipes I found while researching homemade alternatives.

-all purpose spray cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
combine in a spray bottle and use for surfaces.

-abrasive cleaner
(I am currently using Bon-Ami, does not contain bleach)
sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge for bathtubs, sinks and refrigerators. for tougher grime, make a paste of baking soda and water, apply to sink, and allow to stand for 10 to 20 minutes.

-toilet bowel cleaner
use undiluted vinegar

or pour bucket of water to empty bowl of water
sprinkle baking soda, then use toilet brush

-glass cleaner
(I use the all purpose formula above, but these sound interesting)
club soda is an effective glass cleaner. or try this recipe:
1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand.

lemon juice acts as a natural bleaching agent. put lemon juice onto white linens and clothing and allow them to dry in the sun. stains will be bleached away.

My toughest elimination was pine scented cleaner. It was psychological. Bleach is the last to go. I think my ultimate happiness will depend on avoiding white. A note to those who are not factoring money into the equation and want to buy products. There are thousands of products now claiming safe, organic ingredients. The packaging, the factory location, the labor issues, the natural resources and a host of other issues enter the decision making matrix for über consciousness. Frugality rules for me. If it didn’t I’d feel I should take on the other issues or feel conflicted that I didn’t. (Like with my shampoo, stay tuned . . .)

In the sixties, my mother was a Heloise Hints fan. Mom and I have shared tips back and forth over the years. The thing is, my mother always kept a really clean home. I haven’t always. I spent decades not paying much attention. This might sound like the confession of a slacker. It is not. On the contrary, it is insight from a parent learning tolerance. I come from a long line of perfectionists. Yet, I found myself sharing of few hundred square feet with my teenage daughter and something had to give. This was 1985 on the upper West Side of Manhattan. I found that I had three choices:
  1. to be perpetually cranky and judgmental with my daughter’s messes
  2. to be slavishly resentful while doing all of the household cleaning to my standard
  3. to discuss between us our comfort levels with mess, to clean myself what bugged me, and learn to let go
When my son and I shared space several years later, I went through a similar learning curve. For sanity and serenity I still needed to relax my notions, but in different ways. Just as I’d done with his sister, I often got too demanding or martyr-like. But, eventually I calmed down and often followed his lead. Then a funny thing happened when I later lived alone. I found that my own place disgusted me. I started paying attention to what I’d taught myself to ignore. I only bring this up to – ahem, clean the air. We are more malleable them we sometimes imagine. I believe it is largely a perception thing.

Oh.your.god., I just thought of something I have been meaning to write about FOREVER. I find it amazing that there are so many clues within the blogosphere of people (mostly white women I think) who have read Flylady.net. Am I wrong? I found Flylady when I realized I’d let things slip in my house and I also wanted to purge. I was laid off at an architectural firm and decided I wanted to start my own company. Big plans and a mountain of organizational work ahead. I was simply captivated at this wonderful 15 minutes at a time approach to cleaning. If you have never checked out the Flylady website, do. It is a trip. I learned a great deal about getting past inertia. That part is all good.

Okay, the part that put me on edge is the same thing I see all over the blogs I read. That is ‘DH’ for dear husband. (or DS, dear son and DD, dear daughter) It just strikes me as cloying or excessively sweet. I suspect this is because the abbreviation was frequently used in the Flylady comment thread narratives that rationalized man o’ house or kids doing jack shit. Sounds hateful, but it is more a question of tone. It is wonderful to love the people you live with without this kind of dog whistle.

Cleaning is as basic as eating, drinking and sleeping. Isn’t it? Are there humans who are removed from this theme? I guess royalty, the extremely rich only have to pay attention to cleaning body parts and all else is handled. So, I will restate that for most of us cleaning house is a basic requirement. Well as I just said above, there may be way more men and children excluded from this requirement than this feminist would like to acknowledge. And this feminist has worked as a cleaning supervisor for the ‘Maids’ type corporation and an independent contractor cleaning lady in three different states. All of this may come out in another post I suspect.

C17: Cleansing Foods

First let me clarify that this will not be a discussion of the ubiquitous ‘cleansing diet’ so popular with many. I will not be including fasting, juicing, colonics or supplements in this brief post. In fact, I can’t get behind those methods. No, I simply became intrigued with my discovery this week with carrots being cleansing. This is not anything more than the causual google giggles with plant based whole food. You won’t find nutritional citations or any sort of science. It’s just us people trying to get better at eating good local, seasonal things.

It occurred to me that given what I have to choose from each week at the farmer’s market or with bulk foods or at the grocery store, my challenge has always been to find the least expensive. But, eating locally and seasonally also brings the choices of best for my individual body needs and tastes. I have had months of eating chips, dip, sausage and cookies. And, now that I am on this theme of cleansing foods. . I have listed the best cleansing vegetables according to Urban Wellness.

The top 10 cleansing foods:
1. Lemon, with its astringent and antiseptic qualities, is great for detoxifying the liver. It also contains potassium and vitamin C, and is possibly the best fruit remedy for people who have had a high fat/high protein diet. Lemon helps to increase the formation of fluids in the body, and this helps to flush out impurities. Start your day with a tall refreshing glass of water with the juice of 1/2 fresh lemon. Yea! Lots of free lemons from the neighbors tree right now. I am coming off a high fat, high protein stint.

2. Watermelon is a cool and refreshing diuretic which greatly benefits the intestines by keeping them moist. The seeds of the watermelon help with constipation, and contain a compound called cucurbocitrin, which dilates the capillaries. This in turn helps to decrease high blood pressure. Freeze watermelon chunks for a cooling summer treat. Wrong season, good to remember.

3. Radishes are very useful for getting rid of excess mucus, and old residual waste in the body. They also clear the sinuses and helps indigestion. Regular use can help prevent viral conditions like colds and flu. Slice some radishes and add to soup, salad, sandwiches…..or slice in half and dip into hummus for a crunchy snack. I consider radishes a staple, like lettuce. I promise myself that one day I will grow these year round in my own garden. Delicious peppery delight that goes in every salad.

4. Cabbage is great for the stomach and intestines, is used to treat constipation, and has a high sulfur content which destroys parasties and purifies the blood. It promotes circulation within the lungs and the elimination of waste. Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) is wonderful for cleansing the digestive tract, improving the good bacteria necessary for digestion in the intestines, and treating constipation. Look for fresh, raw sauerkraut as opposed to canned. Add sauerkraut as a regular side dish to your meals for a savory flavor! Red cabbage is another regular year round for the salad. I should make saurerkraut, never have.

5. Asparagus contains a diuretic called asparagine, which helps the body to eliminate water through the kidneys. Also helps to cleanse the arteries of cholesterol and stimulates metabolism. Add asparagus to soups, stir-frys, pasta, even fruit salad! Season is several months away. I will go crazy when it comes. I simply adore asparagus.

6. Watercress promotes circulation in the lungs and is beneficial for the skin, as it helps to clear facial blemishes. It helps to remove stagnant blood and increase the flow of energy in the body, and is used as a remedy for intestinal gas and bad breath. Toss some watercress into your salad or include in your favorite fresh vegetable juice. CSA boxes used to provide this in the winter. I never remember to look for it.

7. Fennel is a good digestive aid which helps to rid the body of excess gas. It also stimulates liver and kidney function. It has a sweet flavor and a crunchy texture. Roast some sliced fennel with a little olive oil for an interesting addition to your meal. This beautiful, feathery plant is a must in my next garden. How cool if it aids the gas and stimulates the liver. I eat a lot of beans and want to keep my liver happy. Lots of cheap light beer over many years took a toll on my poor liver.

8. Leeks help to promote good digestion, and they also help to clean out the intestines. They also stimulate the liver, gall bladder and kidneys. Leeks promote warmth and move stagnant energy through the body. They clean out the arteries and slow the growth of viruses, yeasts and other organisms that often show up with an unbalanced diet. Add finely chopped leeks to salads, omelets, soups or stews for extra flavoring! Besides its miraculous healing qualities, leek ends parboiled several moments make beautiful dark green ties for bundles of steamed julienned vegetables!

9. Ginger is known for its circulation-promoting properties. It helps to prevent the blood from sludging, which is one of the causes for heart attacks and strokes. It is also an anti-inflammatory, a digestive aid and improves appetite. Treat yourself to a cup of ginger tea after a meal or sprinkle some grated ginger over vegetables as a garnish. I love ginger raw. This is another vow to make it a part of my garden, my staples.

10. Figs are one of the most alkalizing foods, which is great for cleansing because this balances the harmful acidic conditions that result from a diet rich in animal protein and most refined, artificial foods. Figs are a wonderful, soothing laxative and they clean the intestines as well as treat hemorroids. Enjoy the sweet flavor of figs as a delicious dessert! I just need to say how delicious I think figs are regardless of their goodness for the intestines. My son, who is half Lebanese and should know better, doesn’t like figs or dates. Go figure.

An Afterword . . .

In a perfect world, we could buy all of our food from organic sources. However, sometimes that is just not realistic.

If you would like to start moving into buying organic food slowly, the Environmental Working Group has come up with a list of fruits and vegetables that are best to buy from organic sources if possible. They call them The Dirty Dozen, because the group found that their counterparts tended to have the highest pesticide residues:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes, imported (Chili)
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach

There is so fucking much disinformation out there it make me ill to think I could be posting even more. We are bombarded by such nonsense every single day. I started to list these and it futile to name a couple in a veritable 24/7 onslaught of food related lies – pure corporate fantasy. Having said that, I don’t believe there is anything in this post that will do harm. At best it will encourage a reader to try some different foods and at worst it will deny some taste buds. No biggy . . .

flickr green vegetables

C17: Cherimoya, Chard, Collard Greens & Ciabatta

I went a little ‘C’ crazy at the Farmer’s Market last Sunday. I was thrilled to see these pictures on a local blogger’s site this morning. And, I will also lead with his picture of the ‘soulful little trailer park’ where I live. It’s across the street from the Farmer’s Market. I put the soulful part in quotes because the blogger titled it this way.

This week is about the ‘C’ of clean. Winter vegetables, especially dark greens are of the most cleansing. This is a separate post today. But first I want to rejoice in the things I bought on Sunday. Though I spent a bit more this week ($15), it’s all enticing.

Cherimoya is cultivated in many places
throughout the Americas, including California, where it was introduced in 1871. I had cherimoya once last year and wasn’t that thrilled. I think of it as avocado’s sister. The taste is described as custard-like. But, I think it is time to try it again (and again and again). This is a challenge to get out of my comfort zone and eat locally, eat seasonally. I just love that it is a good example of nature’s tessellation and fractals.

Chard, in particular Swiss Chard is a favorite food of mine. For one thing, I think it is so beautiful I have used it as an ornamental bed for food at dinner gatherings. I have also used it like a bouquet. I love the different colors available locally, although the red is still my favorite.

Collard Greens date back to prehistoric times, and are one of the oldest members of the cabbage family. The ancient Greeks grew kale and collards, although they made no distinction between them. The only conundrum for me is that I didn’t want to fix these with ham hocks, the traditional Southern recipe. I want a meatless version. Well, I sauted onions and decided I love them – even without the onions. I was not looking forward to the smell when the collard greens were cooking that I read about. Actually, that was no big deal. We can all be pretty prissy about things can’t we?

Ciabatta was an impulse buy because the bakers were such warm people and the breads looked so fresh. This little mini-ciabatta was their least expensive offering at $1 and I fixed a fried egg sandwich the next day. I used some cheese spread I made from letting yogurt drain through cheesecloth I’d hung above a bowl. Yum.

"What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds."
-- Will Rogers

Later in the week I decided that Carrots were the obvious ‘C’ food. I find them boring and rebel against them being one of the only recognizable vegetables to the population that seldom eat whole food. But, a bit of Googling showed me that this popular vegetable has a right to its fame. There is much to celebrate about this classic orange root.

Carrot is mostly known for being a powerful antioxidant due to its high beta-carotene content, the precursor of vitamin A (light cooking of the vegetable improves the assimilation of beta-carotene in the body). It is used to maintain health and prevent cancer and night blindness. Carrot protects the lungs, fortifies the liver and spleen, regulates hormones in combination with beets, reduces acid flux, cleanses the digestive tract from parasites and bacteria and stops diarrhea. Beta-carotene in carrot has an anti-inflammatory effect on the mucus membrane. Silicon in carrot improves the absorption of calcium and builds connective tissue. A daily glass of carrot juice or eating some can supply the body with all the above benefits.

Well, damn. Time to buy some carrots.

C16: Choice

On the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we feminists, bloggers are asked to blog for choice. I must vote pro-choice. There is no reason to even consider human rights without accepting control over one’s own body. For a woman, choosing when, how, why or if reproduction is a part of her life responsibility is completely her decision. The word responsibility = the ability to respond. Only a woman herself can choose for herself. Only a woman herself can know if she is able to respond to carrying a child.

There is some really fine writing going on around the blogosphere. I thought I knew this subject until I read this Salon article with feminists from the cutting edge here.

Among the Salon group above Cristina Page wrote something that really struck me personally. I preface her paragraph by saying that I am past child bearing age, my daughter died nineteen years ago and I live by a railroad track. It becomes easier to become numb.

What surprises me about the current state of reproductive rights is how much it has all become white noise for the average American. The abortion debate has become the political equivalent of living next to the train tracks -- after a while, you no longer feel the shake as the train powers by. As long as the pictures aren't falling off the walls, Americans don't pay much attention to which direction the train is heading -- or what rights it is carrying away with it. It's all political white noise until the pharmacist won't fill your prescription, or until you need the now-banned partial birth abortion because your very-much-wanted pregnancy is gravely deformed and now threatens your ability to get pregnant ever again, or your 16-year-old daughter just missed her period. It's then that the white noise can become the soundtrack for your personal nightmare.

I appreciate Shakesville for really fresh feminist writing. Melissa McEwan blogs today with the kind of conscientious questioning I think we must use in making a choice about who to vote for pResident of the United States. I am in agreement with her in wanting to present my favorite leading candidate’s words today:
"Roe v. Wade was an important step on the road to full equality, opportunity and dignity for women. On the 35th anniversary, it is important to reflect how far we've come as a nation, but more importantly how far we still have to go.
"I strongly support a woman's right to privacy and reproductive choices. That right has been under attack though -- by President Bush and his anti-choice agenda and by the Supreme Court, which has been moving the right-wing's agenda faster than we've seen in decades. The hard right turn of the Supreme Court is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake - starting with a woman's right to choose.

"As President, I will guarantee the right to choose and ensure that women can make choices in their lives with dignity and can participate in our society fully, as equals."

Speaking of dignity, I can’t dignify the anti-choice aims and claims with cogent arguments. I am unable to blog about choice beyond repeating that it is non-negotiable right as far as I am concerned. The toilet that is the Theocrat’s mindset would have me believe that I have no right to privacy or control of my own body, get this, because the Theocrats are the Talibangelicals who imagine their beliefs must be mine. Oh, and this intrusion by ‘so-called’ Christian is extended to all women everywhere around the world. Whacked.

To quote another writer from the Salon piece, Shelby Knox:
"This isn't the legacy the women who fought for reproductive rights had in mind"
Photo from Feministe
It's a perilous time to be a young woman: Your abstinence teacher says you aren't responsible enough to take the pill, emergency contraception is available only if your pharmacist deems you morally fit, and even if you are lucky enough to live in one of the 13 percent of counties that have an abortion provider, you may still have to take a letter home to daddy and ask him to sign off on your choice.
There is a convergence with sustainability and conscious living here. The threat to a woman’s right to choose comes in yet another Orwellian Name, Pro-life. We all have millions upon millions of examples of the utter contempt for life, the aggressive destruction of life, the absolute non-concern for living children and indifference to future life on this planet by the Bush Administration, the Federalist Supreme Court, the Neo-Con pro-war punditry, the Theocrats in the evangelical Christian organizations and rubber-stamp Republican congress. For these anti-life, anti-humanity forces it is merely a tool of controlling women (1/2 of the population) to obstruct a woman’s right to choose.

C15: Challenges = Good Clean Fun

I made the point yesterday that within the blogosphere we
borrow from each other. Last week I borrowed videos from several places when my schedule got turned around. But I want to write about one of the things that seems to be spreading. And that is the playfulness of environmental challenges within this sustainability blogosphere.

First I refer back to my Crunchy Chicken post
about freezing our butts off. This challenge was my first since I started blogging in November. Within that post I highlighted a bunch of her really engaging challenges. I missed many of the early ones. The latest one is to cut waste. Now I like the idea of no waste, but the hook is too closely linked to the same old jazz about weight loss that women had to tolerate for too long. Not Fun. I won’t get behind this one.No matter what, Crunchy is the undisputed queen of rallying the energy around challenges that are fun and no small struggle to take on in this culture that demands relentless happy.

Chile Chews had a Re-think It Challenge last week. Now this speaks to my favorite thing – repurposing items. I thought of half a dozen projects I want to do, though they won’t happen this week. I find that Chile and I are kindred spirits as far as this goes.

This Australian blogger's challenge is one I stumbled upon and it gave me the idea to list the ones I am aware of or have accepted the challenge.

This one seems a bit vague from my point of view, so I don’t think I will participate. In truth I think it is just that I feel my plate is full, rather than any real criticism of the challenge.

The dramatic new challenge from the Path of Freedom family is the 100 foot diet. I begin with the notion of my weekly trip across the street to the Farmer’s Market. I will blog each Wednesday on the new local, seasonal foods I am finding there. I want to be a part of this home grown in my yard intent, but I am quite a ways from my own spring garden planting. Last year was my first attempt with my garden and I intended to keep it going through the winter. Didn’t happen.

Here is another blog that stresses eating locally. It is a real challenge to people who live in the cold, dark north. I am one fortunate woman and I know it. Living in Southern California is a real boon for eating locally. I found this one on the blog Elements in Time, a convergence of many like minded people it seems. They too are hosting a challenge to encourage gardeners to try new foods and push beyond the boundaries in individual ways.

Riot for Austerity is a challenge I haven’t signed on to do. Having said that, I am trying to do in privately. The guidelines are something I strive to do. I spoke about the criteria in my opening Step One - priority baselines to prepare for my year.

What is it about these arbitrary constructs that help us take on these life changes? And while I am on this theme let me just complain that the graphics challenge today has bested me. Maybe I will come back another day and place the banners a bit better. In the meantime, my point stands. These different methods used by these bloggers help put some spirit into what could be considered overly serious, daunting days. As MLK said, keep hope alive.

C15: Challenge - MLK Day of Service

College of Charleston
Fourth Annual MLK Challenge
January 21, 2008

We are gearing up for the fifth annual MLK Challenge, a day of service to commemorate Dr. King's dream on January 21, 2008. On this day of service, students are grouped into diverse teams and given a "challenge" project to benefit the local community. Since the first MLK Challenge, CofC teams have developed creative solutions to a range of community needs, provided physical and intellectual help around the city, and collected nearly $22,000 worth of project-specific donations. We are recruiting faculty and staff to participate as team facilitators for the challenge projects. Responsibilities include driving a passenger van, facilitating student problem solving and reflection, and providing guidance when necessary. We want to capitalize on the strengths of our faculty and staff by allowing you to list preferences of areas of interest (e.g. environment, women's issues, poverty) and skills (e.g. construction, creativity, resource development) and will give priority to those who respond early. For more information contact the CHEC Community Service Center at chec@cofc.edu or 953-5838.
The Teams From 2007
  • Determination
  • Diginity
  • Diversity
  • Dream
  • Equality
  • Freedom
  • Greatness
  • Harmony
  • Honor
  • Humanity
  • Peace
  • Perseverance
  • Power
  • Triumph
  • Unity
This is one way for a college to inspire students through challenge. Visit the link to see the student teams have a good time taking on the challenge.

I woke this morning to King's "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech from April 3, 1968. This was his last speech given to Sanitation Workers in Memphis. As I grapple with this year long challenge, my household waste is a much more important thing in my thinking then it was forty years ago. Just imagine having a national leader going to speak to a group of Sanitation Workers in a smaller southern city today. Unless there was a profit motive it simply wouldn't happen. This man was a treasure.