I Went to a Tea Party

This week, I was invited to a tea party.

We hadn’t planned to go near the center city during the convention and during this foray we learned quickly that the jokes Jon Stewart and The Daily Show folks made about the tight security in uptown Charlotte during the Democratic convention weren’t far off the mark.  Police officers in droves, many on bicycles.

These guys–a swat team from the Clayton County GA Sheriff’s Department– had to be a crowd favorite.  They were a hoot!

Nevertheless,  Dearly Beloved was able to drop us off right at the hotel entrance.  I had been invited by a South Carolina delegate and since this wasn’t her first convention, I knew exactly what to do: I simply followed her around.

There were some extraordinary women in that room.

Sandra Fluke and my arms.  The rest of me is cropped from the photo because I looked as if I’d accidentally impaled myself on a frozen corn cob.

That is Sandra Fluke, who was thrown into the spotlight after being denied the opportunity to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  Democrats on the committee had been told they could have only one witness and they chose Ms. Fluke, a Georgetown Law School graduate,  to speak about the importance of requiring insurance companies to cover birth control.  (You know, the same companies that cover Viagra.)  The others testifying in that first round of witnesses were a Catholic bishop, a protestant pastor, a rabbi, and a couple of professors… all men.

Sandra Fluke, however, was the one who was rejected by Republicans on the committee as being “unqualified” to speak.

Needless to say, a lot of people didn’t see it that way and after Rush Limbaugh attacked her in a lengthy diatribe on his radio show, calling her a slut and a prostitute, the pushback from the public was so great that Rush lost some of his major sponsors.

I was delighted to be able to talk briefly with her.  When I watched her speech at the convention on TV a few hours later,  I was amazed that this eloquent speaker was the same soft-spoken, almost shy young woman I’d met earlier.

Disheartening,  after Fluke’s speech, Ann Coulter tweeted a comment about her so vile and disgusting that I won’t repeat it here.

If you’re wondering about the accessory on my left arm, it’s the magic bracelet by which I gained entry. 

Who else did I meet?

Hmmm.  You may have a little trouble recognizing anyone in this shot.  It’s me, with Nancy Pelosi, just as some dude turned on his mega flash while my friend was taking the photo with her iPhone.

Maybe you’ll recognize her here.

Yes, that’s Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the House of Representatives.

The most unforgettable woman I was privileged to meet there was  Tammy Duckworth, who is running in Illinois for a seat in the House of Representatives.

She was in a wheelchair that afternoon, having lost both legs and severely injuring her right arm in a helicopter accident in Iraq.  (Ironically, before she was deployed to Iraq in 2004, she had been working on a Rotary International project to provide wheelchairs for the disabled in developing countries.)  Every step she takes–literally and figuratively–is an example of her extraordinary courage.  She walked on her artificial limbs, using a cane, to deliver her speech that evening.

Her opponent is Representative Joe Walsh, who just a few days ago made this statement about her:

“Ms. Duckworth has continued to show more interest in rubbing elbows with big name party insiders, then [SIC] staying home and tackling the tough issues facing voters in the district,” he said in a statement on his website. “It has become abundantly clear that at this point the only debate Ms. Duckworth is actually interested in having is which outfit she’ll be wearing for her big speech.”

I watched her “big speech.”   I don’t remember what she wore, but I won’t forget her passion, or the dignity with which she walked onto the stage.

Lest you think that Rep. Walsh’s remarks were taken out of context, here is another example, this one when he accused her of not being a “true hero” because, he said, she made her military service central to her campaign.  What she has actually done is make military veterans, especially the disabled, a centerpiece of her campaign message.

“I have so much respect for what she did in the fact that she sacrificed her body for this country,” said Walsh, simultaneously lowering his voice as he leaned forward before pausing for dramatic effect. “Ehhh. Now let’s move on.”
“What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh,” he continued. 

Tammy is up against a wall of money, since big money PACs such as New Prosperity (Sam Fox, the swift boater) and the Koch Brothers like the Joe Walsh style and are pumping large influxes of cash into the campaign against Mrs. Duckworth.

It seems that we aren’t past attacks on “uppity women” after all.  Can a Congress which is about 85% male represent women properly?  In an atmosphere where men rule–state and national legislatures, the media, corporations, churches, etc., is it coincidence that good looks and cleavage are required to work on TV news alongside paunchy, senior men?   What kind of example is that for our daughters and granddaughters?  For that matter, what does it tell our sons and grandsons?  In 2012, are women who want entry into power circles on the basis of their intelligence and abilities still considered “ball busters” and “fema-nazis”?

Nancy Pelosi celebrated 25 years in Congress this year.  At the event I attended, she stressed the need for less money influencing Congress and more women in power.  If we want our daughters and our granddaughters to be able to dream of making changes for the better, shouldn’t we be supporting the women who are already trying to do that?

Here, here.  Now… now.

100+ Looks Better on a Spelling Test

Yes, it’s just as hot as you think it is.  Take a look at this chart from the National Climactic Data Center.

Those red spots point out the places where maximum temperatures were broken in June.  I found this in a most interesting article on NPR’s website.  You can read the entire article here.

Camp Grandad has certainly been impacted by the heat.  It’s just too darned hot to play.  Too hot to garden, to cook, to play golf, even to swim.  My library card currently has 51 books checked out and I think Dearly Beloved’s card might be smoking also.  The grandsons are fast readers and no one wants to be caught short.

Brit (that’s what I’ll call my English friend from now on)  e-mailed this week to offer sympathy about our searing heat.  She said that she could scarcely imagine it, since they are having a cool, wet summer in England.

She thought this video might help.

Diamond Jubilee

My mother’s first cousin, the self-appointed (and believe me, unchallenged!) keeper of the family history, wrote recently to tell of the various organizations my kids and I were eligible to join.   I appreciated the thought, but had no interest.   In fact, it crossed my mind that my ability to join the DAR or 17th Century Colonial Dames (?!?) meant that many subsequent generations had much opportunity to dilute my proud English blood.

Drat.  That probably explains the diminution of my spunk.  Too bad, because I do admire spunk.

No one has been a more striking example of British spunk and indomitability than Queen Elizabeth during and even prior to her 60-year-reign.   I’ve eagerly watched footage of the planned celebrations.   The British people had every reason to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in grand and glorious fashion.

And celebrate they have!   The weather has not deterred more than a million people from participating in official and locally organized celebrations.  The river pageant flotilla of 1,000 boats on the Thames River was quite spectacular with the naval vessels, the pleasure boats, the geyser boats, and the floating bel complete with ringing bells. The band, at least, was under a roof, playing enthusiastically while an assemblage of singers stood on an open barge in the pouring rain and sang God Save the Queen.   The 86-year-old monarch stood with her family on a boat and watched the entire event.

Since roughly half of Americans dislike a president (from either party) at any given time, there is something very refreshing about watching a nation united in good wishes for her monarch.

God Save the Queen, indeed.

My British friend, also a woman of spunk (she of the Burns Night Supper, the thatched roof house,  and the garden in my header) told me of the fun planned in her village.

She helped organize the festivities there–fun and food which included a Welly Toss, a throwing competition for which first prize was the Golden Welly Award–a small pair of (spray-painted) gold boots.  Runners-up received chocolate medals.  As she explained, no expense was spared.

I’m certain my friend’s entry in the cupcake contest would have garnered my vote.  Behold, her cupcake:

I’d know Her Royal Cupcake anywhere, wouldn’t you?

To see more of the Diamond Jubilee celebration, this site will take you to links of some of the BBC coverage of the events:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18316899

Here’s one with links to the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and other related history:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/people/queen_elizabeth_ii

I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else – I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations. –
Elizabeth II

It’s all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained. – Elizabeth II

O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On thee our hopes we fix:
God save the Queen. –
 Author Uncertain

Dog Days At The Beach

When we go down to the beach-house-not-on-the-beach in June,  it should be interesting, even if it isn’t exactly relaxing.

  • We have the house there on the market.  There have been a trickle of lookers.
  • We will have Granddog Ivy and Miss Piggy with us for six weeks.  Three of the grandsons and their parents will be staying at the beach, but they will be in and out.  JOY!  And mayhem.
  • I’m not known for my tidiness.
  • Oh yes… Beryl is coming this week, bringing wind and rain.  Yard cleanup.

One of our neighbors there says that traffic is already heavy. Everyone who isn’t on the beach is in cars, clogging the roads.

Everyone.   She sent a photo she took at a traffic light to prove her point.

Cool Dude!

Dearly Beloved and I have decided that whenever the house is being shown, we’ll take the dogs for a drive, since they aren’t allowed on the beach this time of year.  That’s good–for the dogs’ sake. The last time I looked on the internet, there were 938,000 sites for doggy beachwear.  Grrrrrrr!!!

Still, a sunhat for Ivy might be in order.

Stoned

It’s been a week now and I’m still bummed about the passage of Amendment One here in North Carolina.

It seems counterintuitive to prohibit two loving adults–regardless of sex–from marrying.   Sheesh!   Put that energy toward preventing little girls from being promised to old men… toward getting rid of child pornography.   We’re among the worst in the nation in the number of children who suffer “food insecurity.”  That means they can’t assume they’re going to have food that day.  Or the next.  Thousands are homeless in our state.

I must tell you, I have never understood the threat of gay marriage and I can speak with some authority.  At one time, Dearly Beloved and I lived in a hip, contemporary urban neighborhood where, for a while at least, we were the only married heterosexual couple on the street.

The day after we moved in, we were welcomed with still-warm chocolate chip cookies from the two men who lived diagonally across from us.  We liked them immediately.  They watered my plants when we were away, Introduced us to their extended families, and invited us to their parties.  They are still a couple two decades later.

The two men next door to us moved in about the same time we did and their relationship is still intact today.   One confided to me that his mother told him she would never set foot in his house.  It was her loss, for they were intelligent, funny, kind, successful guys.

Here is the wording of the NC amendment:

[] For [] Against
Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized by this State.

This wording affects common law relationships between a man and a woman as well.  Already a local commissioner is at work to take away benefits for the families of any city/county workers, gay or straight,  who don’t conform to this definition.

Far wiser people than I have written about homosexuality.  I’ll stay out of that and so should Franklin Graham.  I can, however, report that during the time we lived in the gayborhood,  DB and I never once considered switching teams.

Perhaps our experience may reassure the professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Seminary about two concerns he voiced during the pre-election debate.  Although I dearly loved my Akita, the late Howard Lee, it never crossed my mind to marry him.   Nor was Dearly Beloved inclined to wed the bowl of ice cream he ate every night.

I hope that puts the professor’s mind to rest.

Although I can’t remember the name of the book, a line comes to mind where one of the characters asked the other, “How can you possibly think that??”   Her friend answered, “I don’t have to think.  I’m Catholic.”  

Of course I have thinking Catholic friends.  The point is that too many of “the faithful,” whatever the denomination, let someone else tell them what to believe and I’m not talking Jesus.  

Despite all the fist-pumping preachers and the ecstatic red-suited middle-aged platinum blondes celebrating on the television news,  I can’t picture a jubilant Jesus high-fiving the passage of this legislation.

It feels pretty low here in the land of the moral high ground.

Ivy League

Granddog Ivy had gone to the canine coiffure the day before she and her peeps visited us and frankly, Dearly Beloved and I weren’t sure what to make of her new “do.”

Sometimes her grooming has left her fluffy and other times she’s been shaved to waif-like thinness.  This time, she had a fluffy tail, shaved body and a pouf topknot which came off looking more like a permed mullet.

She seemed more reserved than she has on earlier visits.  Only during walks did we see signs of her usual enthusiasm.  Even our daughter thought that Ivy seemed a bit depressed.

(What was it about that hair style?   Shirley Temple?  Roseanne Roseanna Danna?  Aunt Pittypat?  I couldn’t put my finger on it.)

I e-mailed a picture of Ivy to my British pal.  She wrote back immediately that, “the dog looks like a real floozy.” 

Really?  Look at that melancholy expression.  It says, “I’m a sensitive, pensive  adolescent.”  

Does it say, “floozy”?  I think not!

Ivy’s lack of zest was so obvious that even Miss Piggy, who usually considers the granddog a pest,  seemed sympathetic.  She made a real effort to get closer.

After Ivy returned home to her peeps, I continued to worry about her.  Worried, that is, until I received an e-mailed photo from my daughter.   I couldn’t believe it was the same dog!

The subject line:  “Ivy and her boyfriend.”

Good grief!  My friend had a point!

Never Iron a 4-Leaf Clover*

My friends Beanie and Hoot toured Ireland via back roads and lanes in September.  They planned their own itinerary, rented a car, stayed in small inns or B&B’s, ate at small local restaurants, and visited the neighborhood pubs for the delightful music of local musicians who gather for impromptu sessions.

Beanie’s  photos make me want to go there.  You come, too.

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May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.
~Irish Blessing

*You don’t want to press your luck.  – Daryl Stout

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Beverly at How Sweet the Sound has plenty of Irish links  on her Pink Saturday post.  

♥y Har Har

I love coming upon hearts in nature.

(Perhaps. she wrote mushily, it’s because Dearly Beloved stole hers.♥)

Although I enjoy irises,  I’m not a fan of their cactus-like leaves after they bloom. The plants with heart-shaped leaves in our yard may have insignificant flowers, but oh, those leaves!

HEART-SHAPED LEAVES


ROCK HEARTS are treasures to find.  I have one I lugged back from Arizona, but it must be camera-shy because I couldn’t find it today.  However, my friend Dirt Woman supplied me with a photo of a rock heart she found.  It looks like chocolate, I think.  (The caladium leaf above was also one of hers.)

SAND HEART, compliments of DB.

I

In a dark corner of our back yard, I was delighted to discover this surprising heart:

MOSS HEART

Moss Hart won 1937 Pulitzer (Drama) for The Man Who Came to Dinner

OOPS!  Wrong picture.  Let me try again.

MOSS HEART:

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
Oscar Wilde

A Matter of Degrees

It’s the fourth warmest winter on record here, I heard today.  Daffodils are blooming throughout our neighborhood.  My neighbor’s large tulip magnolia is unsure what it’s supposed to do–about a third of the blossoms opened before the temperatures dipped this week.

The weather in Europe has made the news here because of the awful cold.   My British friend says they’re getting a surprising dose of winter weather in England.

Do you remember the Burns Night Supper post?   The haggis and Scotch evening traditionally held on the occasion of the Scottish poet Robert Burns’ January 25 birthday?  I had been so interested in it and asked so many questions that my friend shared some photos of the evening.

The setting in her “15th century straw house” looks just as lovely as I’d imagined.

I thought this menu was especially clever:

I’d take a Spoiler, but leave out the Scotch.  Then again, were I eating haggis, I might need the Scotch.

Since I’d also been curious as to what her guests would wear on such an occasion, she obliged by sending these photos, also.

She did say, however, that some just don’t have the figure for kilts.  I agree!

The Cat on the Mat

My friend DirtWoman sends me great photos and videos.  Besides gardening, she also  

loves cats (these two in particular) and fitness classes, so it’s no surprise that she found this delightful video.

Even a catless couch potato will enjoy this one.

You can bet it wasn’t an exercise freak who invented power steering. Garfield