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The Generation I’m Not Talkin’ ’bout

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The PG (Parental Guidance) Post 

CHARD

Dateline: Monday evening, doing my own sous chef preparation before sautéing shallots and Swiss chard.  As I strip the ruby red chard leaves from their stalks, I remember how much my father loved Swiss chard.

*   *   *

 Band of Memories

 Chester Bryan Parnell, "These are the good times," 8-8-1924 to 2-11 -09

Chester Bryan Parnell, “These are the good times,” 8-8-1924 to 2-11-2009

I think of my father every day, and mention him often (an easy thing to do, as he was a special character), in part to keep his memory alive for K and Belle.  But when my family sees that I’ve brought out the Band of Brothers DVD box set, they know something extra is in the air.

Today would have been Chester “Chet-the-Jet” Parnell’s 90th birthday.  It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that number.  I’ll let my heart do the binding.

Martin

When Chet wanted to relax he would haul out his old Martin guitar. He loved to serenade his kids.  Beautiful, Beautiful Brown Eyes, a traditional country tune covered by singers from Roy Acuff to Rosemary Clooney, was one of the songs Chet used to sing to me at night.

 *   *   *

 My mother is frail;
“I am winding down,” she says.
She is eighty-six.

Widowed five years now;
Her eldest child lives nearby.
I am second-born.

My two other sibs
Live in the Bay Area;
Mom is in So Cal.

SOCAL

Mom loathed to travel,
even when she was healthy.
And, now she cannot.

Twenty-three years plus
I’ve lived one thousand miles north
with my family.

Mom doesn’t do much;
there’s little to talk about.
Calls can be awkward

She always refused
to learn to use computers.
Her children conspired

We got a gadget:
“technically un-inclined”
is its user base.

TECHNO

A “one-way device,”
it receives and prints email
From select sources.

Pro: she gets no spam;
Con: she gets but can’t send mail
(which is fine by her).

I send her brief notes –
a small something for the day
In her morning mail

Mondays are for jokes.
Who wouldn’t like a giggle
To begin the week?

CAMEL

Tuesdays I phone her.
Her moods and health are falling.
Tuesdays make me sad.

Each Wednesday I send
a Word of the Day feature.
(I choose cheerful words).

Thoughts For the Day
from minds famous and obscure,
are Thursday’s items.

Fridays are for Quotes:
adages and citations
to spark mind and heart.

Saturday, poems:
I send different verse styles,
From Browning to Lear.

Every Sunday
I send my mother haiku,
Two verses, or more.

I write them moiself;
thus, they are not quote-worthy.
Silly, but heartfelt.

POETRY

*   *   *

 A Brief Meditation on Ways to Fail Your Children

Is that a buzz kill subject heading, or what?  If you’re looking for the feel-good post of the week, I suggest returning to the picture of the Swiss chard and using it for a gratitude meditation focal point.

I’m thinking about the many ways my father and mother succeeded, as parents…also, about those ways in which they, and parents in general, failed.

This digression is courtesy of one of my recent morning walk podcast sessions.[1] I was listening to the Freethought Radio interview with the president of a N.O.W. chapter, re activism resulting from the SCOTUS [2] Hobby Lobby decision. This topic was antithetical to the purpose of my morning walks, which are supposed to be somewhat meditative as well as invigorating.  The former purpose took a back seat to ruminative rage as I considered the seemingly unending, fact-free, conservative political and social balloon juice about a woman’s right to right to personal jurisdiction, and other issues that should have been settled so, so, long ago….

And I find myself thinking,

We failed.

We, as in, talkin’ ’bout my generation.

We have failed in so many ways, including imagination.

Thirty years ago, I couldn’t imagine we’d be fighting the same fights. [3]  Sure, a few dinosaur fossils would remain, but I’d hoped that the battle for equality and against sexism and misogyny (at least, in this country) would be history, as in, my son and daughter would learn about it the same way they learned about women’s suffrage (There was a time when women couldn’t vote?!  And it was less than one hundred years ago?!)

I realize that historical milestones are almost never confined to a single day or week…or even era. The campaign for women’s suffrage was not waged and won on August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.  Nor was the amendment a one-time antidote to the festering, cyclic, boil-on-the-ass-of-human rights that is the tendency for groups of people to oppress those they view as The Other.

 

suffrage

*   *   *

Power shared = power diminished.

According to one Wise Old White Guy © I had the pleasure of knowing, [4] there is a widely held but false axiom behind bigotry and discrimination. That was the gist of what he tried to explain, one day in our Tuesday morning book group of yore. The group stumbled onto the continuing struggle for civil and women’s rights vis-à-vis religious institutions – a provocative topic for anyone who hasn’t downed their first cup of coffee by 7 am.  I brought up what I saw as the ultimate butt-frosting, teeth-grinding, bloomer-bunching irony: in order to acquire the rights and opportunities that you, say, a woman or African-American, are denied, you have to convince a majority of those in power – the very people who have been denying you those rights – to grant them. [5]

This prompted WOWG to share his “unfortunate observation” regarding human nature:

Few people anywhere have ever easily agreed to share power.

I knew what WOWG meant, but asked him to elaborate.  What follows is my (paraphrased) recollection of his simple but profound Walter Cronkite-ism [6] :

 Power shared = power diminished – this is what people in power believe. But power does not diminish when shared, it multiplies.  Small, stingy, fearful minds don’t understand that – they think power is finite, or is in limited supply, and therefore sharing power with you means there is less of it for them.  This is especially true for those who are (or who see themselves as being) on the lower rungs of the power and status ladders; e.g., some of the fiercest, most vicious criticism of the civil rights movement came from poor white southern men.

He ended with: We failed. Our generation didn’t fix that. Maybe it can’t be fixed; but now, it’s your turn.

 *   *   *

And now, a segue to make us all feel better.

I Am A Bad Person
#359 is a never-ending series

Making travel arrangements for an upcoming family wedding, my brain did that thing it does, and conjured up a memory from a friend’s wedding, several years ago.  I was talking to a teenager at the wedding reception. When I asked her about the rather sour look on her face, she complained to me about how “old people at weddings always poke me in the ribs and say, ‘You’re next!’ “

I told her she could get revenge by saying the same to them at funerals.

 

"I'm sure she meant, next in line for the buffet."

“I’m sure she means, next in line for the buffet.”

*   *   *

Spam subject line of the week:
IF  YOU  DON’T  READ  THIS  NOW  YOU’LL  HATE  YOURSELF  LATER !!!

I didn’t read it “now” (or at all).

It is later.

I don’t hate myself.

Ergo, it must be my turn for an all-caps-three-exclam-attack:


VICTORY IS MINE !!!

Mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha !!!

Mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha !!!

*   *   *

 

 

May you always be next in line for life’s buffet, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] During my morning walks I listen to podcasts of some of my favorite radio shows, including Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Freakonomics, RadioLab, This American Life, TED Talks, Fresh Air, and Freethought Radio.

[2] Which, yes, oft times seems as if it should be the acronym for Sexist Codgers (and not Supreme Court) of the United States.

[3] Only with different, and often troll-enabling – technologies.

[4] WOWG lost a brief but fierce battle with leukemia ~ 10 years ago.

[5] I remember, a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, trying to explain to my kids, who were dealing with fledgling democracy concepts in school, how women couldn’t vote to give themselves the vote.

[6] “And that’s the way it is.”

[7] Wait a minute…there is no seventh footnote.

The Ides I’m Not Bewaring

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March 15.  The Ides of March.  Beware them.

The main reason my elderly mother should have internet access.

Forget all the practical reasons: the mental stimulation provided by keeping up with technology, promotion of intellectual vigor and independence, facilitation of communication, including keep up on the family news and receiving the pictures of grandkid that, these days, we tend to take (and send) digitally…. None of these factors have convinced her.  Perhaps if she knew, if she really understood, that she’s missing out on the viral video memes, including my favorite:  singing goats.  There’s even a French version.

pi

Happy belated Pi day, y’all

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The Mighty Quinn got a review in Kirkus Reviews, [1] The review is live now for Kirkus subscribers, and will be available for anyone to see two weeks before the book’s scheduled publication date (so ~ May 1). Here are the quotes Scarletta Press  is pulling from it:

“For her first middle-grade novel, set in Hillsboro, Ore, Parnell creates interesting child and adult characters and confronts them with serious issues, including child abuse, care for the environment, ethics and even skin color.” — Kirkus Reviews 

“…it will certainly provide food for thought.” — Kirkus Reviews 

“…one of the few books for the audience that discusses the possibility of not practicing a religion. (Fiction. 9-12)” — Kirkus Reviews

Further on in the review there is a mention of the action being “often humorously interrupted by the realities of family and school life,” but, golly gee, nothing about belching the Pledge of Allegiance or cultivating the friendship of dead mice or the applesauce-diarrhea art project (it’s not all serious stuff, folks)….

‘Tis a good thing – the review itself, and even getting a review, especially considering the chances any book has of getting reviewed by a legitimate book reviewing outlet.  The stats, from Publishers Weekly via the Authors Guild Bulletin, vary only slightly year to year:

“Three thousand books are published daily (1,095,000 per year) in the U.S.  Six thousand are reviewed, less than one percent of the total published.”

For someone who close-to-never reads book reviews,[2] my own or anyone else’s, this whole getting-a-review thing [3] is going to be an interesting experience for me.  Interesting as in the actual meaning of interesting, rather than as how some people employ it as a passive negation of all things exciting or note-worthy.  When my mother an older relative of mine remarks, as per the exotic [4](to her) dish I’ve cooked, “Isn’t that interesting?” she really means, “I don’t like the way that smells.”

My first book, This Here and Now, a collection of short fiction, was statistically consistent in that it was one of the 99+ percent that didn’t get reviews [5]My Closet Threw a Party managed to get a couple,[6] although my editor didn’t bother to alert me to them.

About that pesky legitimate adjective, as per reviews.  What with self-publishing and e-publishing, the reviewing game [7] has changed.   There are services now that, for a price, will give your work a flattering review.  The most recent Authors Guild Bulletin alerted me to an article in the New York Times, “The Best Reviews Money Can Buy“, which focused on one such service:

 “Todd Rutherford offers a service that provides glowing “reviews” of self-published books.  He charges $99 for one review, $499 for 20…. All of them will say your book is terrific.  His reviews will say your novel is “shattering.” Or your book is a “classic memoir.  Will change your life.  Lyrical and gripping. Studding and compelling. Or words to that effect.”

 Have the reviews in publishers weekly and the few newspapers and magazines that still review books become irrelevant?

The Times article said: “Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion[8] of truth.  The Federal Trade Commission has stated that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal.  So forget about the old-fashioned, serious reviews. They are barely clinging to life.  From now on, selling a book will be just like selling perfume or breakfast cereal.”

A coda, of sorts:  The guy in the article, the composer of for-hire rave reviews?  He says that he is now suspicious of all online reviews — whether of books or of anything else.  As my mother might say, isn’t that interesting?

bad smell

*   *   *

Smarter People Than Us Said This

* If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: “Thou shalt not ration justice.” ~ Sophocles, Greek playwright

* It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. ~ James A. Baldwin, American Novelist, poet, social critic

* Corn can’t expect justice from a court composed of chickens. ~ anonymous African woman

*   *   *

Justice, schmustice.  And by the way, what spirits were consumed by our spirited forefathers [9] that led to them to think ’twas a good idea to allow Supreme Court Justices to serve until they die or retire?

Nine of the most powerful people in the country are not elected by the people.  Rather, they ascend to their position of power via political appointment.  Supreme Court Judge is the only position in the federal government appointed for life.  Once they’re there, there are no competency tests, no opportunity of voter recall.

Which brings me to SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia, aka the Rush Limbaugh of the Supreme Court.  When it comes to being the poster boy for arrogant, white male privilege blindness Scalia has a litany of the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me incidents and statements, including his refusal to recues himself from a case involving his good friend and duck hunting buddy, Vice President Dick Cheney.  More recently, Scalia criticized and quoted parts of the “Obamacare” law that weren’t actually in the law, admitted he hadn’t even read the law he’d criticized and was about to rule on, and laughed at the notion that he should actually attempt to read the Affordable Care Act before ruling on its legality.

facepalm

Scalia’s most recent face-palming pronouncement came during the SCOTUS hearing on the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most successful pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.  Scalia said “This is not the kind of question you can leave to Congress,” [10] and labeled the continued existence of the Voting Rights Act a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.

Emergency call for all budding inventors:  please, ASAP, devise an intellectual equivalent of Depends for the mouth of Justice Scalia.

The only way Supreme Court Justices can be removed from office is via impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction in a Senate trial, but only for the types of offenses that would trigger impeachment for any government official under Articles I and II of the Constitution.  Such offenses have been interpreted by the courts to equate to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Really, shouldn’t embarrassing themselves be somewhere in the criteria?

scalia hat

I don’t know which is more indicative of Scalia’s declining mental fitness, his (most recent) racial entitlement blather, or the fact that he thought a miniature pillow sham was fitting head ware for the Presidential Inauguration.

*   *   *

crocus

The sighting of the first purple crocus breaking through the topsoil – ah, the harbinger of spring!  For one brief shining moment there is the reminder of the season to come…and then there is the reminder of the season to come.  In my nose.

I used to love Spring, until my beloved Oregon [11] decided that the tax for residency for this ex-pat Californian would be levied in the form of fucking fauna sperm pollen allergies.  I feel like a kind of seasonal Scrooge when I find myself reacting to the first series of sunny days with a Bah humbug! attitude toward the imminent nasal mucosal assault.

sneeze

*   *   *

Take me now, Flying Spaghetti Monster
Aka Department of Does it Get Any Better Than This?

Last Saturday MH and I were treated to have a behind-the-scenes tour of the Oregon Zoo‘s updated Humboldt penguin habitat and facilities.  Through our Conversation Circle membership and K’s and Belle’s involvement with Zoo Teens we’ve had many opportunities to go where no zoo guest has gone before, but this one was my favorite.  I finally got to meet Mochica!  Mochica is a penguin who imprinted on and was hand raised by humans – he seems to think he is human.  I’d heard so much about him over the years, particularly from K, who’d done an internship with the penguin keeper.   Mochica was just as described:  observant, friendly, curious, intelligent, and with just enough eau d’herring to give one’s nasal passages a good workout.  I got to scratch his favorite ahhh spot (the back of his neck…so soft), and Mochica gave me the high honor/vote of penguin confidence by grooming me, which in his case consisted of gently nibbling my forearm.

groomed by mochica

As you might imagine, much penguin hijinks ensued.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] One of the oldest book review magazines, Kirkus, reviews ~ 5000 titles per year.

[2] The two times a year times I read book reviews, I am reminded of why I don’t do it more often.

[3] Translation: reading reviews TMQ may get, and, frankly, convincing myself to care about them. Yep, I’m cranky that way.

[4] To her, cooking with spices other than Morton table salt and black pepper = exotic.

[5] Other than by its editor (which doesn’t count as objective, does it?) and consumer reviews on book sites.

[6] School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.

[7] Given the statistics, I have always considered it a game.

[8] My emphasis, ad my comment:  all reviews offer the illusion of truth. It’s all they can offer; it’s all an illusion.

[9] Adams enjoyed a tankard of hard cider before breakfast; Madison drained a pint of whiskey each day; Jefferson made his own wine; they all enjoyed (and often brewed their own) beer and whiskey.

[10] Uh, actually, it’s exactly the kind of legislation appropriate to Congress.

[11] Grass seed-growing capital of the world, hip hip achoo hooray!

The Cough I’m Not Suppressing

Comments Off on The Cough I’m Not Suppressing

Yes, I know it is months before the book’s real-time release, but there is a FB fan page for The Mighty Quinn.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mighty-Quinn/314422698666956

Like it.
You know you want to.
Please don’t make me beg.

*   *   *

Now that Santa’s left the proverbial pile of coal in select stockings,[1] it seems fitting to haul out the Asshat of the Week award.  I don’t want to be stingy, especially at this time of the year, but really, so many asses, so few asshats.

The Iowa Supreme Court seemed to be a slam dunk, what with their ruling that a woman could be fired if her boss finds her “irresistible.” I’m looking forward to benefiting from the legal wisdumb of the Big Minds in such matters, when  the inevitable lawsuit find its way to the SCOTUS, allowing them to rule on the workplace hazards of those deemed to be too fabulous.

As I was saying, the candidates for the award were legion. And during this Solstice season, with its focus on charitable feelings toward one’s fellow human beings, it seems only fitting to list a few of the other contenders.

It seems the Big Daddies of Catholicism spent a good portion of their holy season getting their rhetorical man-panties in a knot.  The Imbeciles of Italy’s chief blusterhole spokesman, Joseph Ratzinger [2], used his annual Vatican Christmas message to diss marriage equality and other gay’s civil rights advancements as a “manipulation of nature” and an “attack” on the family. Meanwhile, the gentle folk of Ireland were privy to the gibbering of another pontificating baboon, this one taking the form of Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate[3] of all Ireland (I jest not; that’s his official title).  Brady, one of Ratzinger’s fellow pedophile apologists, used his Cardinal’s holiday soapbox to exploit the death of a pregnant woman in a Galway hospital.[4] Brady misrepresented the proposed content of Irish Constitutional legislation while he urged the Irish people to protest plans for legalized abortion (the medical treatment that would have saved the afore-mentioned woman, who suffered an agonizing death from septicemia).

But wait, there’s more.  Just days before the RC dudes chugged their Kool-Aid, another public figure was caught after indulging in too much eggnog.  I refer to Mike Crapo, the aptly named Republican Senator from Idaho who was DUI’d after a cop caught him blowing through a red light.  Crapo, a Mormon who has said he does not drink alcohol,[5] was a member of last year’s “Gang of Six” budget committee and is was considered a candidate for the top Republican spot on the Senate Banking Committee.  It wouldn’t surprise me, should Crapo play the penitent, that his party would keep him on their list for the committee.  Because there’s nothing our country needs more than a teetotaler drunk Mormon Republican kicking the crap-o out of our nation’s fiscal policies.

Oh, hell’s bells, let ’em all share it.  Supreme Courts, Popes, Irish Primates, Crapos – this asshat’s for you.

AHat640

*   *   *

This week, the days I think of as the Tweenolidays, are some of my favorite days of the year.  Dec 26-31; the pressure is off while the fun still lingers; there is still another major celebration on the horizon; the seasonal fatigue hasn’t yet set it.

‘Tis also the season to be jolly judgmental.  I had the opportunity to refine this art yesterday, while waiting in the checkout line at a bulk/discount grocery store:

The Woman In Front Of Me, whose cartload of items was being scanned by the checker, was going through her wallet and pockets, counting her cash while her way-too-old-to-be-sitting-in-the-shopping-car-seat son dangled his feet from the shopping seat’s legholes. The boy loudly spewed wetness in my direction; TWIFOM occasionally/half-heartedly admonished her son to cover his mouth when he coughed.  He ignored her. The next time he coughed I got his attention, smiled at him, and mimed covering my hand over my mouth, indicating he should do the same.  He stuck his tongue out at me.

The checker was waiting. TWIFOM apologized for not having enough funds to cover her purchases (“I need to pay in cash”), even as both the checker and I could see that TWIFOM’s checkbook style wallet was bulging with forms of plastic payment.  TWIFOM directed the checker to remove and reverse-scan certain items, to get her total down to cash-on-hand.  While the checker did this I passed the time by silently critiquing TWIFOM’s choices:

 (“No; keep the low-fat mozzarella! Your son does not need that box of Red Dye #2 Krusty Sugar Puffs for breakfast. And neither of you needs that processed lunch “meat,” which, BTW, costs twice as much and has 5 times the fat, half the protein and 100 bajillion times the sodium as the carton of eggs you’re subtracting…Thank you, Sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster, at least she’s removing the Summer’s Eve box – wait,WTF?!  She’s changing her mind…she’s directing the checker to rescan the va-jay-jay douche?).

I shut my eyes and took a brief trip down memory lane, back to when I was a health educator in an OB/GYN practice. I had a spiel for the traveling corporate reps who had the misfortune to try to convince me to stock free samples of their “cleansing wash”:

The vagina, like other bodily organs, is self-cleaning; douches are marketed as part of the primitive cultural baggage that teaches women that genitals are icky. Not only is douching unnecessary, the practice is associated with serious health conditions, including bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. My boss, Dr. B—, says that your “Summer’s Eve” should more accurately be named, “Summer’s Deceive.”  Only a douche would try to promote douching…

It’s one of my fondest memories, that of Fleet Laboratory salesreps leaving skid marks trying to flee our office.

But I digress.

I kept my diatribe to myself and seethed in silence. Meanwhile, TWIFOM placed her V-be-gone product next to a jug of blue-colored sugar water in her “keep” pile and removed – this was so painful to watch, my eyes almost bled – a bag of navel oranges, a second carton of eggs, and a gallon of 1% milk. 

Excellent parenting choice. Pay for your lady parts to smell like morning at the bakery while your son’s only breakfast option is to lubricate his Type II Diabetic-inducing cereal with high fructose gel.

WT food

After finally settling with the checker TWIFOM bagged her groceries junk. The checker began to scan my items, and I noticed TWIFOM hds left her open wallet (the thing had so many credit cards into its slots it couldn’t be folded shut) on the checkout counter. I hoisted the wallet and managed to catch TWIFOM before she left the store. “Whoops, you don’t want to forget this,” I said.  I handed her the wallet; she lamely joked about forgetting her head if it wasn’t on top of her neck, but offered no “thanks.”  Nor did she apologize when her son launched one last, obviously intentional, spittle-laden cough in my direction as they exited the store.

On my way to my next stop, the market where I was to purchase the organic produce I am fortunate to be able to afford, I pondered the differing perceptions of, and the relationship between, having good luck and making good choices. I’ll notify the Nobel Prize committee when I figure it all out.

*   *   *

 An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
(Bill Vaughn, American author and newspaper columnist.)

Until next year, when hilarity ensues.

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Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] It’s too early for a footnote, don’t you think?

[2] Bear in mind that “Pope Benedict XVI” ad nauseum are made-up monikers – attempts to confer an aura of authority to the theology-thumpers .

[3] A fitting label in so many ways, although the RC poobahs would remind you that “Primate” is a title of honor denoting ceremonial precedence in their church.

[4] I blogged about the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in my November 16 post.

[5] But he supported a federal bill to cut taxes on small beer makers (Mormon farmers in Idaho raise barley for Budweiser and Negra Modelo beers).