August 28, 2012


This post is inspired by a short Facebook discussion with longtime friend of mine. We are on different sides of the aisle, but our friendship goes way back and even was as recent as a dinner we shared last summer. I like my conservative friend a great deal, and I am sure it's mutual.

His post began regarding some comments by Samuel L. Jackson on his Twitter feed. They were stupid remarks, especially when broadcast out of context. While I don't want to give credence to what he said, I should be fair and share. He tweeted his disappointment that Hurricane Isaac missed Tampa and was headed for New Orleans. What a horrible sentiment.

Mr. Jackson, it's not an either/or choose your poison situation. Your remarks were thoughtless and insensitive to two cities. I do not buy into "joke excuses" as in, I was trying to be funny, as a way to justify a thoughtless remark.  The fact remains that you wished a horror that New Orleans is still recovering from on the city of Tampa that is currently populated by folks you disagree with. How you could joke that a hurricane would hit either city? You're not funny or relevant, in my opinion.

You see that is what we do when we disparage each other. But it's so much easier to latch onto a soundbite than it is to really dig deeper. My conservative friend decried the lack of media coverage regarding Mr. Jackson's remarks. My answer was simple:

  • ... both sides make ridiculously stupid comments. However, there is a double standard when it comes to media attention or lack thereof. No one on the Democrat side came out against his statements.

    Okay, then I will. Little voice that I am, I will. I fell in love with New Orleans this summer, but that doesn't compare to my first love Florida. I think Southern cities rock. And it was irresponsible to diss either one on the basis of politics. I'll let you know when it's published. I don't pay attention to noise, so the fact that I don't zoom in on stupid is my "excuse" if you will. However, I will now that it's been brought to my attention. Who knows? my goal is to get folks talking. This could be a start.

I will. I will denounce it. I am a small voice, but I like to think I'm a reasonable one. Mr. Jackson was wrong. He was as wrong as Akin who said stupid stuff then tried to further suggest that homosexuality is cured by breastfeeding.

It's time to stop obsessing with the minutiae. We are ONE NATION. (some of us believe UNDER GOD but thank God (or not) that we are not required to believe that),  (this part we must believe!) with liberty and justice for all.

It's time to let go of the distractions and figure out the best way to walk forward. Somehow, I don't believe it's by arguing over thoughtless stupidity.

Let's debate intelligently, and see where that gets us.

I'd love your comments...

August 23, 2012

Raw umber and other childhood delights

... Crayola Crayons were invented in 1903
by cousinsEdwin Binney and C. Harold Smith.
The name "Crayola” was coined by Alice Binney.
It comes from "craie," French for "chalk,"
and "oleaginous" or "oily." 
Today, in honor of back to school season, The Smithsonian Institute posted a photo of a 1903 box of Crayola Crayons.

Delighted to see the photo, I also reminisced about the joy of a new box of crayons and dug out a piece of Americana that I have saved for over 20 years. 

In 1990, Crayola retired eight colors that were staples of my childhood drawings. I bought a tiny limited edition box of the retired colors. 

I have an irrational fondness for the color Raw Umber. Most folks will describe it as a dismal black/brown mud color. But to me it was much more. I grew up on a farm and we had acres of fields and gardens. Raw umber is the color of the soil after a good rain. Raw umber is the color of the ground the plow turns up as it is prepping a field for crops. I can remember chasing my father behind the plow with my brothers looking for night crawlers to sell in our front yard to fishermen who traveled to the many lakes and campgrounds near our house. 

We had a big hand painted plywood sign that declared:
  "NIGHT CRAWLERS 75¢ a dozen" 
 propped in our front yard and my brothers made their spending money selling worms.

I didn't really love hunting for worms or handling them, so if whenever I could, I would holler at the top of my lungs "BOYS... WORM CUSTOMERS!!!". My brothers would tease me unmercifully about how I pronounced werms, warms. They'd say we better go WARM them up.  

Apparently, though, my affection for raw umber became ingrained in my psyche. When I was 7, the age of reason, I was allowed to decorate my own bedroom. Sort of. I dreamed of a girly-girly room with a canopy bed and pinks and purples galore. As I poured over JCPenney and Sears catalogs, my bedroom vision grew. Mom told me I could design my dream bedroom and off we went to the wallpaper store. We started paging through the massive books and I "oohed and ahhed" over the pinks and purples and Mom pooh poohed them. Every time I pointed out something that I liked she steered me to another page. She never liked the color pink, so I'm sure the thought of turning her daughter's room into peptol bismol nightmare was not what she envisioned at all. In a defiant act that can only be described today, I told her I wanted a brown room. Yes, Brown. 

And that is exactly what I got. 

Or more accurately, raw umber. My room was carpeted in raw umber shag carpeting, the walls were covered with a delicate white floral and vine print on a raw umber background. I did get the canopy bed, and it had a yellow and white gingham bedspread and white canopy. 

While as a child it wasn't what I wished for, I grew to appreciate the sophistication. I didn't tell my mother that I never wanted a brown room until years later. I was an adult and we were talking about decorating my own child's room. She said something about how she wondered if my daughter would pick brown. I said, "I hope not, and if she wants pink or purple, that will be the color she gets." At that point, I confessed the tantrum my 7 year old self had when I wasn't allowed to look at pink or purple wallpaper. 

That earthy color probably defined not only my childhood, but who I am today. My adult home is decorated in earth tones of browns and greens, mostly greens. A vast portion of my wardrobe is chocolate browns, or maybe raw umber. My life is plenty colorful. I'm grateful for the grounding effect of raw umber. It wasn't really discontinued. It lives on in my memories. 

August 22, 2012

Disney presents: Steven Spielberg's Lincoln

It is part of my ongoing delight as a Disney blogger to share a sneak peek of the movie about of one of our favorite presidents by one of our favorite directors. I'm really excited to see this movie.

Who was your favorite president?
Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come. 
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln” is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media, releases in U.S. theaters exclusive on November 9, 2012, with expansion on November 16, 2012.
 Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

August 14, 2012

On Target

Target for Taft ElementaryWant to help some kids? It’s easy. Taft Elementary school can receive up to $10,000 in Target GiftCards® for books or any supplies we need. Wouldn’t that be great? All we need to do is vote for Taft school each week until September 8. It’s part of Give With Target®. For every 25 votes Taft school receives, Target will send a $25 gift card.

Taft Elementary is a school I where I volunteer a lot of time. It's in the inner city of Youngstown, Ohio in a blighted neighborhood. When I saw the Facebook app to help donate to different schools, I noticed that nobody had even once clicked for my humble little Taft. It's a great school with wiggly young children, eager to learn. They come from walks of life most of us will never experience, but they never fail to have a smile when I come to their classroom.

Here are a few excerpts to stories I've told about my adventures there. Let's help their teachers get some supplies, because I know any teacher out there can tell you they buy them out of their own wallet.

from The Value of Teachers, October 19, 2011:
The building is only 4 years old. As I was walk in, I notice two smashed windows held together with duct tape. I'm not sure if it was a gun or rock or what exactly was used to smash the windows. I can only hope it was after school hours. There are signs all around the block "school zone" no shooting/drugs/etc.
As if. We're assuming those doing the shooting have respect. In the past month alone, there have been 3 random shootings in this neighborhood. Admittedly, I'm nervous driving through there, but I think if everyone is afraid to go in, the children will never see a way out.
While I walked out, I see the flag on the flagpole hanging upside down. I've got a really strong patriotic streak, and I almost marched back into the school to tell them that the flag was hung wrong, but then I realized how busy they really are. The school doesn't have time to fix the flag. But it just made me sad. I've heard an upside down flag is a sign of distress. That certainly is the truth regarding this district.
When I was driving away, I saw an elderly gentleman walking along the sidewalk. He was wearing dress trousers, a fisherman's type of hat, a cardigan sweater, and was carrying a single golf club over his shoulder, presumably as a weapon if needed. Either that or his golf league had one last round and he was walking to the course. I'm gonna guess option A.
from Stopping the Leaks, February 12, 2011: 
One sad reality in today’s world is that only about 70% of high school students will actually graduate. That statistic is closer to 55% at inner city schools, in crime ridden areas with high poverty levels.
... as I drove through the tired neighborhood filled with boarded up homes that surround the school where I was volunteering.  I reminded myself that my car had an alarm as I parked it and tried to put aside my concerns. I wondered what it must be like to walk these streets where most of the sidewalks were heaped with snow, unshoveled, every day to school.
I walked into the classroom and it was stacked with crates and papers in a state of complete disarray. The teacher explained in an exasperated voice that the roof leaked in her classroom and that the contractor and the architect were fighting over whose fault it was and instead just kept replacing ceiling tiles. My first impression was how sad it was that such an investment was being wasted. Then I realized the investment wasn’t the building but the 21 little people whose bright eyes stared back at me with enthusiasm and energy.
Well, actually only 20 of those 21 eyes. One little guy was sound asleep, head down on his desk. As I went around the room introducing myself to each child and asking what they wanted to be when they grew up...
When I got to the sleepy guy, his table mates said, he always sleeps. I glanced at the teacher and she nodded her head in agreement. I felt sad that he would miss our fun and educational time, but neither did I want to disrespect the teacher who dealt with him on a daily basis.
Apparently, it was acceptable to let him sleep. I wondered momentarily about a second grader whose parent(s) didn’t make him go to bed, or perhaps even worse, who for any variety of reasons didn’t feel safe sleeping in his home.
My children excitedly announced that they wanted to be police officers, fire fighters, nurses, veterinarians, singers, soldiers and teachers. Typical second grade dreams. I had to pause for a moment when one little boy told me he wanted to be a gang maker. I asked him to repeat that and explain to me what he meant. He said you know, like video games, I want to invent video games. I blushed at the mistaken conclusion I had reached.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what it must be like for someone who deals with it every day and the kids who have seen more in their seven years than most of us ever will see. I hated to think that statistically, only about half those children will even finish high school. I hated to think of the violence and crime that surrounds their world, as I only have to look on the front page of our local paper for proof. I hated to realize that my hopeful game maker, with a few bad influences, could indeed become a gang maker instead.
I want to keep the faith. I want to believe we can make a difference. I think it takes the na├»ve enthusiasm from someone who hasn’t lost their hope, whose spirit hasn’t been dampened from leaks. I want to think about a building that is solid from the inside out, where leaks aren’t ignored by bickering about where to cast blame. We can stop the chaos one leaky drop at a time. 
This is why I urge you to help this special school. 

Find out more and vote at

August 13, 2012

First Date

I'm nervously anticipating a first date today around lunch time. As a married woman with two children, this first date is even more nerve-wracking. But as nervous as I am, the thrill of a new romance has me giddy. The implications of a first date are a bit overwhelming at my stage of life, but believe it or not, my spouse actually knows about this first date and reluctantly approved.

I actually won the date at a charity event. It was a raffle item at the recent Relay for Life walk. I nervously dropped my ticket into the jar, wondering what on earth I would do if I actually won. Imagine my surprise when I did. I felt like the proverbial dog that finally caught its tail. Now what? I actually have to follow through on this date. I claimed my prize and then quickly tucked it away trying to figure out a suitable time for the first date.

I've nervously wondered if I actually would follow through considering I already have everything I need for such a date at home. But rather than let my date wonder why I never called, I decided to finally make time for this first date. I picked up the house and invited my date over today. I'm nervous but committed. My date arrives around 12:30 today.

My first date is with a local housecleaning service, operated by the Beatitude House. I'm really excited to meet my date, which is part of local foundation. According to Green Clean's trainer and superviser, Mary Kohut,

... the two guiding philosophies of the company are to clean with environmentally friendly products and to give women an opportunity for bettering their lives. 
“We are all about improving the lives of women and children and this is allowing us to give women meaningful employment while offering them the chance of company ownership and profit-sharing,” 
I'm just excited about my first date. I hope it goes well.

August 9, 2012


August 2, 2012

This Magic Moment

angry bird pizza
Angry Bird Pizza
Yesterday afternoon, I had to run to the grocery store for a few items. I realized I didn't have any cheese to make an "angry bird" pizza that had me smiling all morning. How a bird with a scowling face could make me smile... well, it just did. I don't even have little ones, I have teenagers... but the angry bird pizza was something I was compelled to make.

I didn't really need to go to the store, and I kept reminding myself that my busy teenagers were not as likely to be amused by the angry bird pizza as I was, but I still took the drive.

I'm apt to do that sort of thing these days, as I straddle the line between young mom and empty nest. I see my beautiful young adults stretch out before me, planning their futures, while I just cheer them on. But in a quiet place in the back of my mind, I remember the days when something as simple as an angry bird pizza could make their day. I remember painting shells and rocks, spreading a plaid blanket on the grass on a summer day and calling it a picnic, filling a blow up pool at the bottom of our backyard swingset slide.

Before I sound maudlin, I want to reiterate, that while I remember those days fondly, I also anticipate the joy they bring me as young adults and the excitement of the future. But nonetheless, I had it in my mind that angry bird pizza was just what I needed and set off to procure the ingredients. I figured it was a perfect panacea for a slight case of "they are growing up/that means I'm getting older" blues that afflicted me.

I got to the store with little other purpose than cheese and pepperoni, when I spied a young father pushing a cart that looked like a fire engine. Actually, I shouldn't say I saw him, but rather I heard him, as well as his young boys. They were making "Vroom vroom" and siren noises as he pushed the cart around the store. I felt like I had been rolling channels and was compelled to stop. The dad was preoccupied with his boys so I hope he didn't notice me watching, but my internal smirk at my silly need for angry bird pizza became a genuine smile as I watched the young family. I watched the boys zooming down the aisles bringing colorful boxes of joy to their dad, cocking their heads asking if it was okay and then slowly walking back to put whatever enticement caught their attention back on the shelf.

I heard them excitedly talking to their dad amid gleeful traffic sounds to accompany the fire engine cart navigating the aisles. They were loaded with energy and giggles. I couldn't stop smiling and finally at one point, our carts passed and I said, "Nobody could possibly be unhappy hearing your boys!" He smiled tiredly and politely agreed.

Then it hit me. Sometimes it takes a stranger's words to impact a moment. Sometimes when we see our lives through their eyes, our angry scowl becomes a smile. Our furrows become joy. Our eyebrows rise with glee. We know, that the moment we seek is now.

P.S. I didn't wind up making an angry bird pizza, but rather filed away the idea for when I have my niece and nephew visit. My angry bird was too busy smiling to be brought down by a scowl.  


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