Monday, September 28, 2009

What I'm Listening To #64

Listening to Bee- htoven's 5th symphony conducted by Simon Rattle and the Vienna Phil- harmonic.

It drives me to dance!

Old, non-rythmic, me!--which is to say that it works miracles in the hearts, souls, and bodies of those who experience it. It's the most amazing version of this ubiquitous work of classicial music ever recorded.

It's so powerful, that my first instinct -- that every elementary school child in America should be exposed to it as part of their curriclulum -- was tempered by the fact that if fully absorbed in their innocent minds, it would drive them insane, and therefore ought better be banned! Kanye West has NOTHING over Ludwig von Beethoven! Believe it!

Legos Rule!

Legos rule! They even repair homes. Cool, eh?

More Garden Pictures, Garden Rambling...

I have lots of clay pots--every gardener does--and many sit around with dirt in them from the previous year. Many of mine also sprout with various seeds from plants long ago purchased. One of my perennial favorites is the tomatios. Back in the late 90's I bought some to make a dip for a party from a recipe that my ex- gave to me. The unused fruit ended up in my compost heap. I use the dirt from this to support my planters, foster new seeds, fill in around new plantings. At some point, from one of my planters, new tomatios sprang! And they have been springing in more and more pots year in and year out. They bear the sweetest, most amazing little pearls of fruit, and like plucking fresh peas in the early spring; I spend August to September enjoying their bounty!

In a similar fashion, the Silvia in this image just happened. I can't even remember the last time I actually bought Silvia like this as an annual to plant in my gardens. It's been years. Yet, voila! Another volunteer. Others that surprise me year in and year out are impatiens, geraniums, and coleus.
This photo is from my Goldenrod garden off the back of my garage. This species of goldenrod, introduced to greenhouses back in 1993 from the University of North Carolina is called "Fireworks" (solidago rugosa). The bed blooms late when little else is, and each cutting makes any bouquet stunning!

I've clipped a couple to feature in a bouquet of various mustard and rust colored coleus foliage that I'm taking to school in the morning. And it is stunning.

Yellow-Throated Warbler Spotted!

I awoke this morning to discover a pair of Yellow-Throated Warblers feasting on the seeds in the sugar maple in my backyard. My first thought was that they were just golden finches which are rather common, but they just lacked a certain hyper-tensivity that the finches embody in rydelin-deficited spades. I observed them for a good 15 minutes before I hit pay dirt. One emerged from the confusion of the foliage to fly to a higher branch, and I clearly saw the beautiful bluish-grey cap and back contrasted against the brilliant yellow throat. What joy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Late September Gardens

The summer seems to linger, longer and longer. The air temp is dabbling around cooler recently, but the plants are just pretending they live in Seattle! And this magnificent set of red geranium blossoms in my garden are testifying the loudest of all.

A Fairer Representation

I recently read this article in the NYT that really thrilled me. For years I've known that our representative form of democracy was deeply flawed when it comes to the House of Representatives.

In the article called: "Expand The House?" this inequity is clearly described here: "The most populous district in America right now, according to the latest Census data, is Nevada’s 3rd District, where 960,000 people are represented in the House by just one member. All of Montana’s 958,000 people likewise have just one vote in the House. By contrast, 523,000 in Wyoming get the same voting power, as do the 527,000 in one of Rhode Island’s two districts and the 531,000 in the other."

But rather than just being angry about it, there is someone taking steps to challenge the status quo. "That 400,000-person disparity between top and bottom has generated a federal court challenge that is set to be filed Thursday in Mississippi, charging that the system effectively disenfranchises people in certain states. The lawsuit asks the courts to order the House to fix the problem by increasing its size from 435 seats to at least 932, or perhaps as many as 1,761. That way, the plaintiffs argue, every state can have districts that are close to parity." I lean toward to 932 figures and actually shoot for 935.

This means that each representative would speak for a district of about 312,000 constituents. To this end I've begun recalculating the possible state delegations based on their latest census numbers and projected growth patterns to the year 2010 (next year....) As a result, in this new scheme, the state of Maryland would go from 8 members of the House to 17.

The map shows my best guess at the 17 new congressional districts. Unlike the current districts, I have completely eradicated the bazaar and profoundly partisan gerrymandering that characterizes MD 02, 03 & 07. (I despise the practice of gerrymandering and find it to be one of the greatest enemies of our still fledgling experiment of representative democracy. Just some personal disclosure.)

Taking my map to its possible ultimate conclusion, I have attached actual politicians to the districts. Incumbents first, our present delegation of 8 based on where they live. (And here I have fouled up the current delegation with my geographically compact based map, but I don't know if I've messed up Elijah and Dutch, or Dutch and John. In any event, I have no doubt that the offended party given this new reality would be only too happy to relocate in order to maintain their seat. For the remaining 9 seats, I chose politicians who hold the highest elective office in the most populace political division within their jurisdiction. This meant mayors and county executives for the most part, but I also looked at presidents of school boards, county police chiefs, et. al.


The present delegation; of 8 from Maryland includes 7 men and 1 woman; 6 whites and 2 blacks, 7 democrats and 1 republican. Using these same comparisons and my choices for the new seats based on the afore described criteria, the new delegation; of 17 would include 13 men and 4 woman; 12 whites and 5 blacks, 14 democrats and 3 republicans. And the bottom-line is truer, closer representation.

Would this lawsuit to succeed in more than reigniting political wonk's imaginations (guilty as self-identified!) what an amazing and exciting time it would be for democracy. Nothing short of a new constitutional convention could compare. And given the paradigm shift from greedy, ignorant, self-serving, pseudo-Christian, white males to a vastly more pluralistic populace, this idea bears a certain inevitability. Why arrive here kicking and screaming, when we have the choice of a deliberate and thoughtful move forward?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Baltimore Book Festival 2009

Ran up to Balti- more for the 14th annual Book Festival held on and around Mount Vernon Place. It's a bookish nerd's Mecca! And I'd forgotten just how much of the space at such events is given over to prosthelitysing. So many booths devoted to ideology from Islam to Wicca, from Afro-centric studies Feminisim. A few were more mainstream, like Sci Fi and Cooking. And there was the book booth dedicated to the writings of Edgar Allen Poe (a Balmer staple--shit, the NFL football team's called the Ravens! after all). There was also a large section dedicated to children's lit which was very interactive and inspiring.

On the square at Mount Vernon is this amazing United Method- ist church. For well over a decade now, I've visited the park and the adjacent Walter's Art Gallery, shops and restaurants, and have never before entered this church. Once, I visited the square with a doctoral student who had done actual work on and in the church only to find it locked! It's a magnificent ediface.

Today, I toured it's interior for the first time and just kept thinking, "Why isn't it larger on the inside?" Additionally, the stained glass is pedestrian at best; however, the baptismal font sculpted like a lily was its best feature .... what a waste in a denomination that only christens.....but back to the books!

Or beyond the books. There was also lots of food, mostly ethnic, mostly grilled, aromas to entice anyone. And at the top of the park was this stage where during my visit the group, "Mambo Combo" dished the best of Cubano Salsa! I only wish I could dance that way! My soul craves to, but my flesh is sadly without either the nature or nurture to do anything more than look like someone in the midst of a gran mal seizer! So I never respond in real time or in public to such urges!

In the end, I walked away with two books, and lots of ideas.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What I'm Listening To #63

Vera Lynn is a super star of popular music in England from the 1940's & 50's. This discovery, nearly brings chills to me as I listen to her interpretations of British and international standards of the war and post war years. Her voice is simple and plain, and by those virtues alone, amazing. She sings with a restrained trill that seems to embody the entire era. You are with her intimately in every song, be it in a classy jazz joint or a World War II Cantina filled with young men and women on the eve of their deployment, desperate for one last night of joy and innocence.

Combine this with my recent completion of Jane Goodall's book, "Reason for Hope" in which she recounts her own childhood during this time, and my experience of the conversation with the Holocaust survivor at the National Holocaust museum in D.C. It's practically the perfect storm of connectivity of ideas.

I bought this CD on line from a seller in the United Kingdom. It arrived within a week. And I'm utterly enchanted by it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Latest American Hero #137

Army Pfc. William L. Meredith, 26, of Virginia Beach, Va., died Sept. 21 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 569th Engineer Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo.

“Flags Fly At Half-Staff For VB Soldier”

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va - Flags flew at half-staff across Virginia Thursday in honor of Private First Class (Pfc.) William L. Meredith.

Meredith, of Virginia Beach, was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle, September 21st, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. His body returned to U.S. soil Wednesday.

Meredith was assigned to the 569th Engineer Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, out of Fort Carson, Colo.

In Virginia Beach, friends called Meredith "Lee." He went to Ocean Lakes High School with Sandy Mahoney's children. More than a decade ago Lee and her son, Chris, became best friends. When Lee's dad retired from the Army and took a job in Central Virginia, Lee didn't want to leave his school and friends in Hampton Roads. Lee's father let him stay with her family.

"We had to share bunk beds. We fought over who got the top and who got the bottom," remembered Chris Mahoney. "My mom would give us a ride in the morning [to school] the end of the day we'd walk home together."

Then last year he decided to join the Army. "He said I'm going to go ahead and join the military and he did and he came here after basic training in his uniform," Mahoney said.

"He always talked about going in the Air Force or Army," Chris said. "He was proud to be in the uniform."

Mahoney explained the Army clothes were not the only change.

"He didn't have a lot of self esteem but when he walked in, with his uniform, I never saw him stand so tall and proud as in his uniform," she said through tears.

Standing tall, Lee left again as a combat engineer and headed to Afghanistan. The 26-year-old died Monday. An Army carry team brought Pfc. Meredith's remains back home to the United States, to Dover Air Force Base Wednesday.

Mahoney said Lee was "just an awesome boy - an awesome man, who's life was cut short."

Meredith had spent most of this year in two war zones. According to the Army, he was deployed to Iraq from February to April of this year, then in Afghanistan from April until his death.

In the Army only since April, 2008, Meredith had already received numerous awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, and Combat Action Badge.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What I'm Listening To #62

Depeche Mode's latest CD, "sounds of the universe" is a dis- appoint- ment. Some groups evolve with the times. Some groups challenge the times. Some groups define the times. At one point in time, Depeche Mode did all of these things. This CD only leaves the times behind...regrettably.

Goodness Gracious! Was Ist Dieses?

Here are 4 of the images for the new ad campaign for the German company Pfanni's Brat Kartoffeln (Roast Potatoes). Clever, no? And you can bet that it's author at the Jung von Matt Advertising Agency in Hamburg, Germany played with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, as a child!

I wonder what the Dalai Lama thinks?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kicking Ass with Music in Havanna

Colum- bian super-star, rock sensa- tion, Juanes, is going to perform a concert in Havanna, Cuba tomor- row. You can imagine how distraught certain elements of the Cuban-in-exile community are over this kindness, this act of generosity given to the Cubans who didn't run away to Florida back in 1959.

Whoa. STOP! It's not 1959, and it's not about 1959. It's time somebody stood up and acted like the adult in the room.

And I applaud Juanes for being that guy.

He's gonna give a gift to the people who live in Havanna today--people who are a generation or two removed from the revolution of 1959. He's singing for and to Cuba's future on the eve of the passing of those who led the Communist revolution back in the day. Men who are dying off in droves. Juan Almeida Bosque died last week, Fidel is not long for this world, and even Cuba's current presidente, Raul Castro has to be counting his days among his other duties. These dudes have made their mark. It's an utter and dismal freaking failure. The people of Cuba long for modernity. All that Juanes can do is give them a rich and joyous taste of that, that milk of the future, that mother's milk of freedom and self-determination. May they make of it a delicious thing.

How can anyone oppose that?

What I'm Reading #22

I've just started my first book by noted primatologist, Jane Goodall. It's called, "Reason for Hope: a Spiritual Journey." After covering the first couple of chapters, I have gained a tremendous appreciation for this extraordinary human being's capacity to comprehend the meaning of life. There are points that I don't agree with, and as I read on, I hope to discover more about what drives her to these conclusions. Yet, there is much about her understanding of man's place in the natural order that I find endearing.

Her own narrative is certainly endearing. I'm so tempted to share a portion of this book with my colleagues at school; a moment in which she is so overcome with curiosity as a young child that the police are actually called in to investigate her disappearance, only to discover that she's been performing a bit of childhood scientific observation involving a chicken. And her mother's response is simply textbook perfect. At this point in the book, she acknowledges the role of her generous and gracious childhood played upon her adult personhood as well as her sense of the Divine.

So far, this is a wonderful read full of thought-provoking ideas.

A Room With A View of Late Summer

I refilled the second story window boxes on the back of my home with autumn flowers today. The back of my home is rather plain by comparison to any other side, and so I mounted a couple of flower boxes along the bases of the two main second floor windows some years back. My goal was to spruce things up with fresh flowers. I imagined brilliant red geraniums and cascading mounds of cheery nastursiums. But my home was built in the early forties and the sashes are original to the house and a royal pain in the ass to open and close requiring the removal of the storm windows everytime I needed to water live plants. The romance soon wore off!

My solution? Silk flowers! They are so realistic, and from the distance of the ground they give the effect of lush flower boxes without any of the maintenance issues. They hold up to both rain and snow. And when it's time to change, I just chuck the old ones, they're cheaper than live plants. And right now both Michael's Crafts and JoAnn's Fabrics have them on sale for half off. I almost went ahead and got my Spring plantings, too!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guilty Pleasure ~ Silly Admission

Okay, already, I LOVE her! She never fails to make me laugh, feel happy, feel good about myself. She's a ad campaign's dream girl. And while I have no intention of buying what she's selling, it's a comfort to know that I am not alone.

"The Strange Allure of the Progressive Insurance Girl:
What makes normal people fall so hard for the cute and perky pitchwoman known as 'Flo'?"

Two hours of hair and makeup transform improv comic Stephanie Courtney into Flo, seller of insurance and stealer of hearts.

She's bubbly and beaming, high-volume, with a flip of dark hair and a face like a lollipop. She irks as she endears, bemuses as she bewitches. She's a bundle of energetic contradictions, bursting here, retracting there. Her expressions blink and change like a neon sign. Her eyes are popping globes. And she just sold you a bunch of car insurance.

First she caught our eye; now she's snatched our heart. Viewers are smitten. They're crushin'. They want to know: Who's that girl?

From a recent blog at, with the headline "The Cult of the Progressive Car Insurance Chick":

"Am I the only one completely and totally enamored of the woman in the television ads for Progressive car insurance? You know, the ones starring that babelicious brunette named Flo with her 'tricked-out name tag' and her '60s style eye makeup and her kissable red, red lips?"

No, sir, you are not.

"It's so weird," says Stephanie Courtney, the actress who plays Flo.

How much is Courtney like flamboyant Flo?

"It's me at my silliest," she says. "You start off with a script, but at the end they usually let me put a little zinger in there. We put a little mustard on it. That's when it gets fun.

"Flo could be one of my improv characters, always on and sort of cracked in a weird way."

And I end this post by suggesting that if Flo is weird, Flo is what the world really needs more of! Progressive Insurance? who knows?....but Flo, definitely!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Facebook Phenom!

I read today that Facebook has declared itself profitable. Well, bully for them! I have yet to spend a dime there, but who knows?

When it comes to Facebook, I'm both late to the party and a neophyte. And then add to that my INFP status psychologically, and no sooner had I joined than I personally had to put the brakes on my Facebook world. I literally can't keep up with it. Given the range of posts, I'm not even sure that I understand it's raison d'etre, either. Why, just tonight, I used it as a way to negotiate a substitute teacher for a colleague of mine at school who's not even one of my friends!

So who are my friends? Too many Episcopal priests! Priests from Cheyenne, WY, Newark, NJ, Cincinnati, OH, Opelika, AL & St. Louis, MO; College professors from St. Mary's College, MD, Rutgers, NJ & Bowling Green State, OH; Teaching collegues from Lexington, KY & Gathersburg, MD; a former high school classmate who lives in Tampa, FL; a political activist from Kansas; an author from New York, New York; a friend and former TV talkshow host from Mexico now living in Houston, TX; art curators living in Maryland and Texas, a college employee and friend in Tennesse, and former fuck buddy & friend in Boston, MA, etc....

These and the rest are 28 lives more than enough to keep track of and comment on and support.... So Facebook: Thumbs up or thumbs down? Jury's still out, but grateful that FB making a profit means that they will likely be around long enough for the jury to make a wise decision.

Mid-Week Funny #3

The pics are from a friend's blog, the dialogue was supplied by my over fertile imagination!

Mid-Week Funny #2

When the deck is stacked against you....

War On Terrorism September Up-Date

With the 9/11 anniversary just behind us, and renewed concern over the prosecution of the war now focused back on Afghanistan, I thought it a good time to take stock of what this year in the war on terrorism is about regarding casualties. The map shows the casualties rates for soldiers as compared to the rates for soldiers from those states in 2008. It suggests where in this country the impact of the war is likely to be felt more accutely by the people who live there. To date, 14 states and the District of Columbia have met or exceeded their casualty count from the previous year.

Most of these states have met last year's totals, but a few have exceeded: By 200% - AL, HI, & MN; by 156% - OH; by 143% - MA; by 136% - NC; and by 114% - GA. Overall, 327 soldiers have parished in the service of the War on Terrorism in the first 259 days of the year or a daily rate of 1.3 solders a day (9 soldiers a week).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

70th Commemoration of the Invasion of Poland by the Nazi's and Start of World War II

I attended this event this evening at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum down on the Mall in Washington, D.C. I have been a charter member of this museum, and from time to time receive invitations to events. I rarely respond, the place is so holy and so powerfully charged with "presence" that it almost always exhausts me. Here's the information about the event that I received with the invitation:


Meyerhoff Theater
Introduction: Jacek Nowakowski, Senior Curator,
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Raye Farr, Director of the Museum's Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive, will introduce Siege, an Oscar-nominated short film directed by Julien Bryan, an American filmmaker, which captured Germany's ferocious siege of Warsaw and provided the American public with some of the first images of the start of World War II. Hear more about the Museum's efforts to rescue and preserve Bryan's invaluable film and photo collection.
Edwarda Powidzki was just 13 years old when she witnessed the Nazis invade her native Poland. In a conversation with Museum curator Susan Goldstein Snyder, Powidzki will share her recollections of the first days following the invasion and her subsequent arrest and imprisonment at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

And it was the idea of hearing first hand from a death camp survivor that inspired me to attend this event.

And now I don't know what to say. It was profound. It was pedestrian. It was incomprehensible. It was all too easy to imagine. The film was a gift of courage from a very courageous man. The memories were precious jewels, snippets polished with grace from a very courageous woman. And I don't feel exhausted. I feel affirmed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The sounds of mid-September

Include the gentle splashing of my fountain and the buzz of the random cicada. Such a lovely day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today's Sermon #18

Part Two: Nature


A SPIDER sewed at night
Without a light
Upon an arc of white.
If ruff it was of dame
Or shroud of gnome, 5
Himself, himself inform.
Of immortality
His strategy
Was physiognomy.

~ Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886

My Gardens -- The Tropics!

Welcome to the tropics, on my deck! I know, it's not exactly Amazonia, and no self respecting orangutan would let me delude myself for an instant that I was anywhere near Borneo. Yet, in a wonderful way, tending to these palms and various tropical understory plants gives me a sense of kinship with more verdant climes. The mish mash of plants contained only further establishes the fantasy with offerings tossed together that would never be joined in the wild. Plants native to Central America, Equitorial Africa and the Asian sub-continent thrive comfortably together in these two faux ancient Greek planters!

When the leaves fall and before the first frost, they'll both move to the Sunroom to survive the winter. Another experience that their feral relatives could never imagine.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What I'm Reading #21

Just polished off the first four chapters of this memoir of Matthew Shephard by his mother Judy. It's so accessible and plain-spoken. Judy not only describes the Wyoming ethos, she embodies it in her narrative. And as a teacher, I've seen "Matthew" time and again in my career. Implied in this tome is wisdom, and I look forward to growing from it.


Is it just me, or am I of a "certain age" now so that our leaders are looking more and more like our children? Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Labor, visited a school in my county this week to speak to the students, and I swear to you, he makes me feel really OLD!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Canada Memoir #2: Viva la nudite!

When I saw this image I was reminded of an experience that I had back in the summer of 1990 with my best friend K. We'd planned a month long trip through New England and eastern Canada. Around the end of the second week we pulled into a public campsite in Quebec. It had been a very long day of driving from our previous campsite on Lake Champlain in Vermont, and after setting up our tent, we were looking for a place to freshen up before cycling into the nearest town in search of dinner.

K. asked me if I saw any place to change. Looking around, I noticed two families in an adjacent site (dads, moms, and little children) just returning from the camp's pool in swimming clothes. Before I could divert my glance, both fathers shucked off their trunks in broad daylight for all the world to see. I turned to K. and said, "I really don't think it matters where you decide to change."

When in Rome (or Quebec), eh?

What I'm Listening To #61

Allow me a few thoughts to preface this post. I am 48, and they've been amazing years. I have friends all along the spectrum of my life who have for one reason or another ceased to be curious when it comes to music. Some are even musicians, and I don't have many musical bones in my body! Yet, music permeates my life. I just can't imagine a moment without's almost a manic sort of thing for me.

And so while I appreciate the music of my youth (Motown), and my high school years (Bob Seeger to Cat Stevens), I just can't stop wanting more. Ergo, you can find in my collection of CDs everything from the complete Goldberg Variations performed by Glenn Gould to all the CD's that the Indigo Girls have recorded. There are CD's by Garth Brooks, Annie Lenox, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. CD's recorded in Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Moldovian, Romanian, Finnish and Latin. Music spanning the spectrum of genres from Opera and Baroque Chamber ensembles, to Hip Hop, Reggae, and Boricua; from Country and Folk, to Jazz, Zydeco, and Alternative Rock. I've even got a couple of things that defy the genre mentality! It's all good.

Enter Pitbull's CD "Rebel- ution". This is such a quint- essential act of fusion creativity. The music is Rap-Hip Hop-Pop-Techno, packaged like a James Bond movie. The lyrics are relavent, creative, dynamic. The rythyms pound with a vital power. To fully appreciate this CD, you have to forget that some words are labeled "profanity," especially with songs like, "You're so Full of Shit" (and that's on the mild side of some of the lyrics). To focus on these things is to utterly miss out on the genius of this music.

Life is a fucking flood of ideas and experiences; and too many people spend their meager energies trying to control the current, trying to stem the flow; when the most courageous and rewarding thing you can do is rest in the presence of the torrents with your eyes and ears atune to the unlimited generative powers of the waters all around you.

Mid-Week Funny #1

I have resisted with every fiber of my being from editing this cartoon to reflect more directly an educational authority structure...The thought alone, left me laughing out loud!

Monday, September 07, 2009

What I'm Reading #20

"Playing in the Dark" is a rather dense and brilliant little monograph from Nobel Prize laureate, Toni Morrison. In it she seeks to challenge the conventional wisdom that the American literary tradition was born from an Anglo-American root that was pure and unaffected by "Africanist" influences. She does this by exploring the archetypal motifs of American literature not as unique ideas formed by a unique people, but as painfully and powerfully conceived out of an essential, psychologically entwined relationship with this nation's profound African heritage. Not an easy read, but a wonderfully satisfying one.

What I'm Watching #210

"Right By Me" is a Thai film that proves that not only does Thailand have a highly evolved, mega-technically proficient film industry; it also has evolved a cinematic culture that is vibrant enough to support independent works with more heart than expertise. It's a classic coming of age, coming out movie. The focus is on the lives of three friends. The first is Thailand's version of Jack McFarlan from "Will & Grace," the second is the well rounded "everyman," and the third is the conflicted jock from the wrong side of the tracks who has a girlfriend, but really likes boys. There are no suprises and the acting is generally on a par with a middle school production of "Arsenic and Old Lace." It's a sweet film in spite of this, and not a bad way to while away an hour and half on a raining day off!

What I'm Listening To #60

This 1994 CD by Desiree just get better and better with age. The grooves warm these old bones, and the words are inspiring and filled with hope.


Listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds;
Try to keep you hands up to the sky.
Lovers, they may cause you tears.
Go ahead release your fears.
Stand up and be counted,
Don't be afraid to cry....

...Love will save the day!

New Ave

Good things are happening in the neighborhood! And even more ambitious and wonderful things are awaiting in the wings.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What's For Dinner?

Why soup, of course!

I stopped at the Korean super market in upper Silver Spring on the way home yesterday. They have the best Kim Chi offering in the area, and wonderful produce with things you just won't find anywhere else (can you say Chinese Grass Asparagus?). The clientele is as much Central American as Asian with a smattering of Anglos and west Africans. The prices beat the competition hands down for fresh produce and meats and are above average for canned, dry, and frozen goods--every market has its strategy.

I've been jonesing for some cooked cabbage for a couple of days now, and between the market and my cravings, this soup was the result.

Combine in this order:

1) 2 quarts of water with 2 chicken bouillon squares set on medium heat.
2) a teaspoon of kosher sea salt
3) 5 strong cranks of the pepper grinder (black pepper corns)
4) 1 bunch of crisp, fresh scallions sliced crossways.
5) 1 cup frozen mixed yellow and white corn kernels
6) 1/2 a medium sized head of green cabbage (chopped into 1 inch squares approximately)
7) 1/2 a green bell pepper, diced
8) a fistfull of garden fresh green beans tipped and cut into generous lengths (1-1 1/2 inches)
9) 2 cans of diced fire roasted tomatoes
10) a generous table spoon of olive oil

Cook avoiding a rolling boil until the green beans are tender. Serve with an artisan bread and hearty appetite.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

As a child, my sister and I spent countless summer days innocently engaged in the "sport" of butterfly collecting. Dancing and chasing the delicate insects through fields of daisies, black-eyed susans, and queen anne's lace with our nets crafted by our mother, we weren't thinking about the fact that a successful hunt would mean the demise of our prey. We just loved catching butterflies.

And today, I miss the Monarchs. I know they're not exactly extinct yet. But I also know that they are well on their way to that ignoble inevitablity that conforms to the law of entropy and someday even awaits humankind. Have you ever thought about life that way? We humans are famously self-absorbed and unself-aware at the same time! Yet, the day will come when our species will know what the Dodo bird, the Passenger Pigeon, and the Carolina Perakeet knew before us.

But I digress; today, the story was the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. Such beautiful, grand butterflies, and they frequent my gardens throughout the summer. Their current obsession is with the monumental, poly-headed thistle that voluntarily grew in my circle garden to a height just shy of 8 feet! It's nothing to see three of them exploring the blossoms at a time. There were two, when I snapped this picture along with a bumble bee, a clouded sulpher butterfly and a fiery skipper. This single plant is a lepidopterist's fantasy come true!

What I'm Listening To #59

Lester Young was nothing short of a genius. A veritable everyman who lived by the beat of his own drum. He coined the most ubiquitous slang phrase in the entire English language, "Cool." I'm not joking here, he's the father of COOL! Swell, groovy, bad, phat...let's face it, they're all "cool" wannabes, and come and go as they do, cool remains on the throne of it's own utter coolness.

It's kind of like Lester Young's music. In the vain of John Coltrane, Young enbraces a melodie with his saxophone like the serpent around the sensual body of Eve in the Garden of Eden. You feel that you are not so much listening to music as witnessing love making. And it's so cool, you don't even have a reason to feel ashamed.

Defense of Marriage? Fabulous!

The facts are in...those pesky little liberal and progressive facts that drive the self-serving, self-aggrandizing, conservative dunderheads to fits of screaming rage! One of my personally favorite things they do! Makes me laugh everytime.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Random Quote #108

"He drew a circle to keep me out,
A thing of scorn, and a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.”
~ Edwin Markham, 1852 - 1940