I am on holiday  – see y’all in a couple of weeks.
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May you listen to The Go-Gos whenever and wherever you can; May you savor the semantic sensibilities arising from declaring you are taking a vacation vs. saying you’re going on holiday; May you enjoy the occasional – make that regular – rest from your routine, no matter what you call it; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 How can I find excuses for footnotes in such a short post?
It was a podcast that sent me back to the book, this time. By the book I mean the book I should have finished reading several ( as in, almost ten ) years ago. Do you know what I mean?
Of course you don’t. Because I am the only person on this planet who does what I am about to describe.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali came to the attention of the wider world in an extraordinary way. In 2004 a Muslim fanatic, after shooting the filmmaker Theo van Gogh dead on an Amsterdam street, pinned a letter to Mr. van Gogh’s chest with a knife. Addressed to Ms. Hirsi Ali, the letter called for holy war against the West and, more specifically, for her death. A Somali by birth and a recently elected member of the Dutch Parliament, Ms. Hirsi Ali had waged a personal crusade to improve the lot of Muslim women. Her warnings about the dangers posed to the Netherlands by unassimilated Muslims made her Public Enemy No. 1 for Muslim extremists…. The circuitous, violence-filled path that led Ms. Hirsi Ali from Somalia to the Netherlands is the subject of “Infidel,” her brave, inspiring and beautifully written memoir….. Ms. Hirsi Ali describes a journey “from the world of faith to the world of reason,” a long, often bitter struggle to come to terms with her religion and the clan-based traditional society that defined her world and that of millions of Muslims all over.
I have had the Infidel book for…I don’t know how long.  And I have started reading it….I don’t know many times. Last weekend, as I have done before (and before and before and before), I found the book in my stash pile, started over (it had been at least a year since my last attempt), then, once again, set it aside. I haven’t been able to read past the chapter in which the author – using an almost journalistic, dispassionate prose style I’ve come to recognize as being common to PTSD survivors – describes her horrific torture and mutilation at that age 5, when she (and her younger sister) underwent the barbaric procedure of FGM or female genital mutilation (which was, and in some cases still us, euphemistically and mistakenly referred to, by the countries and cultures and religions that practiced and/or mandated it, as “female circumcision”  ).
Ms. Hirsi Ali’s bravery seemingly knows few bounds; she is a passionate and articulate activist for feminism, human rights, free speech and freedom from religion, despite being under constant fatwas or death threats from Muslim extremists (ala another ex-Muslim writer, Salman Rushdie, who lived for years in virtual exile).  I’ve read/heard excerpts of Hirsi Ali’s other works and speeches; I know she is respected in the free speech and Freethinker communities, and I feel that, in order to respect her work, I need to read her influential memoir in its entirety….
And yet I just can’t get past her recounting of the misogynistic, life-negating, barbarism, which – as is the norm in FGM – was arranged and abetted by trusted family members. I know she survives her ordeal and eventually escapes from other self -negating circumstances (including an arranged marriage)…but the FGM was done to her when she was only five years old, and moiself, perhaps immaturely but self-protectively, wonders how much more deprivation, ignorance and brutality is going to be served up until I can get to the Triumph-Over-Adversity ® chapters?
What am I, some kind of intellectual coward?
As a long-time feminist activist with a background in reproductive health care, I am no stranger to the horrific reality of FGM. Still, it affects me in ways that reading about other brutalities (e.g. war; serial murders) do not, possibly in part for the personal/worldwide/political ramifications of such a primitive, atrocious, spirit-crushing, female-hating ritual.
I’m wondering if others have had the same problem, when it comes to reading about gruesome trauma? There have been other books I’ve read, usually memoir other non-fiction, where I have been unable to get past certain passages, then felt it was somehow disrespecting the integrity of the work as a whole to continue reading the book via skipping problematic passages or chapters, so I set the books aside for a few months…but eventually tackled them again and was able to finish. But, in this case, I’m talkin’ yearsof avoidance.
And now, once again, the Serious Book ® – which I’ve come to view as a literary equivalent to cleaning behind the refrigerator, taking cod liver oil, and memorizing the capital cities of all fifty states (i.e., daunting tasks that are supposed to be “good for me”) sits on my nightstand, atop myI’ll-get-to-it-eventually pile.  Not that I’m paranoid or anything, but I swear the book’s front cover has been glaring at me disapprovingly, each night since I set it atop my reading pile, as it sees me open the literary equivalent of Twinkies on my Kindle reader: two other memoirs (one of a recently deceased actor and the other of a punk/pop “princess”). 
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Department Of You Had To Be There
Sighting of week: Dateline, Monday morning, just before 7: 30 am. A big ass truck (y’all know the kind) pulls into the driveway of a house I am approaching on my morning walk.
This about captures the size ratio.
The driver’s door opens, and inside the big ass truck I espy a very petite, very blonde, very, very pregnant young woman. Dwarfed by the mammoth vehicle, she exits the cab by somehow sliding down the side of it (the truck has no cab step). She manages to land gracefully and delicately on her tiny feet, then waddles toward the house.
On the one hand, nothing remarkable, right? On the other hand…I have different fingers.
On the other hand, it seemed like a noteworthy feat for me to bear witness to, let alone for the Very Petite, Very Blonde, Very, Very Pregnant Young Woman ® to accomplish. The image has been coming back to me all week, and has served as a reminder that there is a kind of extraordinary grace – even beauty – to be found in ordinary situations.
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Department Of If You Haven’t Got Anything Nice To Say, Come Sit By Me
Dateline: last week, driving to the beach. I took one of my favorite “shortcuts” from the Sunset Highway to the coast – a very windy, two lane road snaking through the Nehalem River Valley, Route 53, which MH and refer to as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – and stopped for lunch at a café off of Highway 101. I’ve eaten at the café many times in the past few months; I’ve found the service is friendly, and the food a notch above standard diner fare if mostly unremarkable.
There was much food remarking that day, however, between a young man working at the café and an older couple who were seated at a table near the door. The café is small, and I couldn’t help but hear the conversation, which began with the couple complimenting their lunches (“This is hands down the best food we’ve had on the coast! ) to the young man when he refilled their water glasses. They asked him for dining recommendations as they headed north; the young man enthused about a Thai restaurant up north of Astoria, then the three of them began discussing other local dining options
The couple said they’d heard about a new restaurant in Manzanita, which several people had recommended to them, but it had a crazy (to them) name: Yolk. “Whose idea was it to call a restaurant, Yolk? the man chuckled. It’s not very appealing, but their food is good, I hear. Maybe, a little on the fancy side?”
“It’s hard to imagine it would be as good as this,” said the woman, indicating with her fork the mass various yellow, fried items on her plate.
Young Café Man thanked them again, and said he thought that his café’s food could stand up to that of any other restaurant, including the “high end” ones, like Yolk. He treaded lightly at first – he said he had friends who’d dined at the new place and liked it – then he dove right in.
“I don’t want to knock another local place….“Young Café Man said (as he proceeded to do so). “Fancier places like Yolk have a impressive menu and all. But most people don’trealize we local restaurants all get our food from the same suppliers, then they serve the same thing – they serve the same French fries we do – only call it something different and charge four bucks more a plate for it….”
And there I sat, eating my Gardenburger, trying not to smirk as I realized that holding my tongue when I first heard the mention of Yolk was a good idea. I was going to offer, after the man had said their food is good, I hear, that indeed, IMHO, Yolk’s food is not only good but great – in fact, Yolk was my favorite place in on the coast for breakfast and I would highly recommend it, for the incredible, tasty, creative menu items, a visually appealing dining space and friendly service….
But if I had done so, perhaps I wouldn’t have had the guilty pleasure of listening in on Young Café Man’s bogus claim about Yolk’s food sources.
Yo, Young Café Man: it’s one thing to share your opinion – to which of course you are entitled. But when you start making allegedly factual statements that are untrue….
“… then they serve the same thing – they serve the same French fries we do – only call it something different and charge four bucks more a plate for it….”
Young Café Man, I have many meals at your restaurant, and also at the restaurant you unjustly disparaged. Not only does Yolk have an entirely different menu than your establishment,  they do not, in fact, “serve the same French fries.” Thus, I assume you were just talking out of your ass. Let’s hope your restaurant doesn’t cook that way.
“You want to cook out of my what?”
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Department Of And One More Thing
BTW, when you’re in Manzanita, be sure to get either breakfast or lunch at Yolk. Owner Connie and staff will take good care of you. Their lemon ricotta pancakes are rave-worthy, their take on huevos rancheros (served atop a delectable grilled cornmeal patty instead of a corn tortilla) is sublime, and whatever you order, be sure to get the molasses oatmeal bread. My go-to favorite is their roast veggie hash (with just the right touch of harissa, a simple yet inventive touch rarely found in a breakfast dish. Yummers!).
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May you be able to see the grace and beauty in mundane situations; May you have the courage to finish the books that need finishing; May you know the difference between expressing an opinion
and unfairly dissing a competitor; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 I purchased it not long after it was released, so it could be as long as 10+ years.
 FGM could only be compared to male circumcision if male circumcision involved the excision of the entire penis, rather than a portion of the skin of the tip of the penis.
 And then in the good ole USA, Hirsch Ali had an invitation for an honorary degree withdrawn from the university that extended the honor, after her telling the unvarnished truth criticisms of Islam’s treatment of women was called, “hate speech.”
Dateline: Tuesday afternoon, driving to lunch/errands. I change the radio (I cannot abide a certain Taylor Swift song unless it is the goat version) and land smack dab in the middle of an advertisement for Northwest Surrogacy Center. A suspiciously animated-yet-serious female is talking about how fulfilling it was for her to serve as a surrogate for a gay couple. Her story ends with a brief/odd comment on how handing over the baby was “…the easiest part.” An official (male, ahem) announcer takes over, and talks about how the center is looking for women between the ages of 21 – 40 who have already had one “easy” pregnancy, and how surrogates can make “up to $27, 000.”
“HA!” I hear myself say,  as I pound the steering wheel. “Like that’s a reasonable reimbursement.” I must pull over to the side of the road and do the math.
Gestation is no 9-5 show. It’s not even back-to-back swing shifts. When you are pregnant you are pregnant 24 hours a day (and during the last month it can seem like 48 hours a day). Forty weeks of pregnancy = 5,720 hours; thus, being paid $27k for the gig works out to less than $5/hour, less than minimum wage. Even less than that, when you factor in what the post-preggo Pilates  are going to cost. The never ending story, of how anything considered “woman’s work” is undervalued.
Joy can be interrupted – but not lost. Most people think of motherhood as a joyous experience, but for some it can be an experience of interrupted joy. This anthology delves into the subject of motherhood and loss from different perspectives of authors and artists from all over the world. This anthology includes Short Stories, Poetry, Art Work, Essays, Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and more. Contributors explore such topics as Adoption, Death, Infertility, Disabilities, Illness, and Estrangement. Various themes addressed include Coming of Age, Identity, Recovery, Connections, and Forgiveness.
But wait, there’s more:
The internationally acclaimed contributors are: (snip snip of a whole lotta names that are not mine), Robyn Parnell, (more snip snip)…
Internationally acclaimed? This is news to moiself. But if it’s in writing, it must be true, right?
Still, I await the multilingual kudos. Having heard none, I’ll furnish my own:
Συγχαρητήρια  Ole! Felicitations! Chúc mừng! Pongezi! Gratulerer! Cestitke! Kung hei lei! Donadaliheligv! Comhgháirdeachas!
The Mighty Quinn is available now at Amazon , Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers, in both paper and eBook formats. Starting May 14 it will be available at your regular brick and mortar bookstores.
Of possible interest to you locals (local as in Portland metro area): As part of the celebration for National Children’s Book Week I’ll be doing a reading-book signing event with another local author at Powell’s Books Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton) on Tuesday, May 14, beginning at 7 pm. Another Local Author is Heather Vogel Frederick, who’ll be reading from her newly released book, Once Upon a Toad. 
After the reading and signing my family and I will be de-stressing celebrating at Peachwave Frozen Yogurt afterwards (Cedar Hills Crossing Mall, enter by the Starbucks) – stop and say howdy if you can!
“Caveman Matt” Chapter 5, The Mighty Quinn
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From their halcyon days as America’s sweethearts to their current status as superstars who pioneered a genre, The Go-Go’s preside over an amazing three-decade reign as high pop priestesses….
(from The Go-Gos website, re their upcoming concert tour)
That is what I want to write, and get paid for doing so: hyperbolized press releases.
I’m trying to imagine phrases like “halcyon days” and “amazing three-decade reign” – not to mention “high pop priestess” – being used in conjunction with my name. Not to get all philosophical or nothin.’
I couldn’t find a High Pop Priestess Picture. But the green telephone is worthy of royalty, don’t ya think?
You may remember  the Halibut That Ate My Daughter’s Brain (April 19 post). I have been experimenting with halibut chowder/soup/stew variations every Sunday since, with the apparent approval or at least toleration of our regular Sunday dinner guest, the lovely and talented (and patient) LAH. I have been tormenting son K, a lover of all things seafood chowder-y, with information re my culinary concoctions. Next week is finals week for K, and he’ll be home from college for the subsequent Sunday dinner, the 19th. There is enough halibut and fish stock left in the freezer to make him his very own tastefully-sized tureen trough-full of whatever version I shall deem as the best-est. 
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Remember to get your pet halibut his fish license, and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Actually, I hear myself say a stronger version of HA: the version that rhymes with, HORSESHIT!
 Or whatever exercise regimen you’ll undertake in a futile attempt to undo the damage done to your body in order to give someone else “the gift of life.”
 Acclamations are in Greek, Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Swahili, Norwegian, Croatian, Cantonese, Cherokee, Irish Gaelic.
I tweaked my wrist while setting up my new ergonomic computer stand.
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Not even one paragraph into the post, and I digress.
Last Sunday, during my family’s customary dinner at the BCC,  friend LH mentioned that, in anticipation of Tuesday’s election results, she’d purchased a bottle of champagne and a bottle of tequila. Bubbly = good news, tequila = ay yi yi.
As Election Day approached I shuddered to think of a Mitt Romney presidencyay-yi-yi outcome, but forced myself to consider the possibility. The only way I could do that sober was to fantasize about distracting Romney’s Secret Service detail and hoisting his magic undies into a wedgie of presidential proportions.
I never asked LH about what kind of tequila she’d purchased. Shots of any rotgut (“mixtos”) brand, or even your best reposado, would do for a toast to misfortune. But the following margarita is too good too good to waste on sorrow. This is not your Applebee’s bar blender/slurpee-style margarita. The key is using the best ingredients: the proper tequila, ditching the triple sec, and only fresh lime juice.
La Margarita Que yummers – makes 2 -2 margarita glasses prepped w/kosher salt and lime slices or wedges
cocktail shaker (do not even think of using a blender)
-1/2 c tequila blanco **
-1/4 c agave syrup or nectar
-1/4 c freshly squeezed lime juice. Not frozen, nor from a plastic jar. Fresh.
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker, fill shaker with ice & shake well while singing your favorite variation of Guantanamera. Strain into prepared glasses. What do you mean, how do you prepare a glass for a margarita? Do they let you out without a chaperone?
** Always use tequila made from 100 % blue agave. Use only blanco (silver or white) tequila in this recipe.
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On Tuesday I gave a good deal of thought towhich bottle LH might be tipping later that night. It was better than thinking about the news, which I tried to ignore all day, which means I had to stay off my computer. The three advance dinners in our refrigerator offer silent but yummers testimony as to which room in the house became my safe haven.
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What, me worry? Well…yeah.
To those who might call me cynical I have four words: Look around. Pay attention.
Cynical? Try realistic. Or, observant:
– millions of viewers make “reality” TV (Jersey Shore & Here ComesHoney’s Booby… whatever) a rating success
– the past four years have seen a buttload of Republicans who support (or refuse to refute, which is the same as supporting in my book. Silence = acquiescence, y’all) the thinly disguised racial slur/code word rhetoric of the tea party/birther barfbags, and just as many GOP gorps muster little more than a lame, “Golly, that was a poor choice of words,” when their candidates launch their latest, mind-numbingly ignorant attacks on women’s private medical issues
– there are an exasperating number of media outlets that pay attention when Donald Trump’s facial orifice moves, as though there could be anything other than self-promoting trollery in his blatherings, which regularly, cacophonously, emerge via the festering conduit linking his mouth and the brain tissue allegedly residing under his shag carpet cranium.
I could go on, but it’s too damn depressing. Oh, and any one person in any of those categories, guess what? They get to vote. And their vote counts, the same as yours or mine.
As a country, intellectually and culturally, we’re not the brightest bulb in the planet’s chandelier. My dear friend, expat-Oregonian and temporary Coloradoan LH nailed it: I just have to hope and believe that tomorrow we won’t read a version of the UK Guardian headline, circa 2004: “How can 35 million people be so stupid?” Peggy Noonan predicted that Romney would win because she has seen an increase in Republican yard signs. Two things that should never be mixed together: Republicans and scientific methodology.
And then, late Tuesday eve, I discovered that although you still cannot lawfully partake of non-medicinal marijuana in Oregon, LH’s fellow Coloradoans were celebrating their legalization measure, along with our northern neighbors in Washington.
I loved that marriage equality measures looked to be passing in Maryland, Minnesota, Washington and Maine. I loved that so many of the Republican slime-fests came to naught; I loved that Colleen Lachowicz, the Maine Democrat who was slammed by the GOP for her online gaming activity, won her seat in the Maine state senate, and that Tammy Baldwin won her senate race in Wisconsin despite the She’s a commie lesbo! smears from conservative pundits. And I really, really, really – and did I mention, really? – loved learning that those “Life Begins at Rape” GOP caveman, those walking, talking, human peshas Richard Mourdock, Allen West, Joe Walsh and Todd Akin , all lost their respective, disrespectful campaigns.
Yo, future candidates. Behold grace, and a dose of humility and pragmatism, in action:
“You always have two speeches prepared, because you can’t take anything for granted.”
(President Obama, 11-6-12)
It is a political tradition, like ass- and baby-kissing, for the winning side to praise the loser’s “gracious” concession. And from late Tuesday-early Wednesday, the talking heads did that, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. However, I think they were remiss in applying that adjective to Romney’s five-minute, teeth-clenching, whine concession speech.
Romney bragging about how he hadn’t written a concession speech was condescending and naïve, not gracious. Making the nation wait until early Wednesday morning, nearly two hours after the AP, CNN et al had called the election, was stubborn and petulant, not gracious.
I heard no grace in Romney’s mercifully brief but nonetheless arrogant, clueless and sexist recognition – phrasing expected from the most stereotypical 1950s corporate CEO but cringe-worthy when coming from a 2012 candidate for LOTEFC – of his sons “for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and… their wives and children for taking up their slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.”
Romney’s mopey wish, “that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction,” was a thinly veiled tantrum. I wanted it to be different – waaa! As for what followed, those of us who are religion-free know well the creepy, patronizing, presumptuous and sinister threats that are often disguised with an ostensibly innocuous, I’ll pray for you.
“Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for (Obama) and for this great nation.”
Yeah, cause you’re gonna need it! Ick.
In Romney’s insular world, his ethnicity and gender give him power as per his religion. Add that to his birthright of wealth and social and political prominence – it’s obvious the dude is used to having it his way, and not having to do much on his own to get it. His the other guy won so let’s all pull together now speech had all the sincerity of a hostage reading a ransom note at gunpoint.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed. I think the reliably more-articulate (and less profane)-than-moi salon.com columnist Mary Elizabeth Williams put it best:
He wanted it to be “different,” and he’s praying for you, America. That is not “gracious.” What it is instead is a pretty typical Romney, a man who would arrogantly refuse to entertain the notion of defeat and then grind in his heels and refuse to accept it for as long as possible. A man who…thanks men for their tireless work and “wives” for picking up the slack. That was your glimpse, Tuesday night, of what your President Romney would have looked like. And maybe it doesn’t sound gracious to say so, but thank God that’s the last look we’ll have.
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MH, like me, is sick of the years of political mindfuckery, and wants it to fade away. For the record, for what it’s worth, MH does not agree with my interpretation of Romney’s speech. He thinks I’m reading/hearing too much into it; he thinks I should let it go. Perhaps, unlike MH and very much like the Dixie Chicks, I’m not ready to make nice.
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Every Wednesday, after my Tai Chi class, I have lunch at a local pasta café. This week the café’s cute, chatty, mildly spacey and abundantly tattooed counter-girl squirmed with excitement when she brought my Caesar salad to my table.
“Harry Potter! You’ve seen Harry Potter?”
“Have I seen Harry Potter?” I doffed my reading glasses and brushed a crouton off of my NY Times crossword puzzle. “You mean, the movies?”
She giggled her affirmation.
“Every one,” I confessed. “And read all the books.”
“I finally figured it out, who you remind me of,” she gushed. “Especially when you put on your glasses – you look like the professor who reads the tea leaves…I can’t remember her name, but isn’t that great?!”
Me: “Uh, yeah…the flaky one Professor of Divination, Sybill Trelawny.”
* * *
Sometimes, you just have to crank up the volume and dance. As Professor of Divination, I see a Go-Gos song in my future. Hijinks ensue.
 “Barney Frank in a dress” is my favorite of the histrionics flung by conservative spewmeister pundit/columnist Jeffrey Kuhner.
 A wet fart (Worthington family lingo). AKA Brewer’s Farts, Fudgies, Playing Misty….
 Awesome bit of Schadenfreude from a person who, unlike me, rarely exhibits taking pleasure in such a petty but satisfying emotion.
 Damn right I’m whacking on the Mormon thing. And so should you. All aspects of a politician’s belief system should be on the table for evaluation, religion included. No exceptions. Future blog posts shall deal with this issue – be forewarned.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.