Monday, January 26, 2009

A Nobel Peace Prize for Pete Seeger

Maybe some of you are too young to remember Pete Seeger and his incredible contributions through music and protest to the peace movement, but I hope not. Pete remains as incredible and vital as ever, witnessed by his performance at Obama's Inaugural Concert, We Are One.

And now something that to me is long overdue...the nomination of Pete Seeger for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Barbara Lee, Congressional Representative from the 9th District, California, has agreed to carry the nomination of Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The petition has grown to over 21 thousand signatures. If you go to this website, you'll see where you can click to sign the peitition and also see what moving and sincere comments people have made about how Pete opened their consciousness in so many ways. The petition will hopefully be kept open until the end of the year so that the final document will be sent to the Smithsonian Institution, or whereever Pete's archives will eventually be housed, as a document for posterity.

Thanks for signing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Big Day for All of Us

A lot of folks claim the District of Columbia as their home and those who claim native Washingtonian status are asked one question and one question only. It isn’t what high school did you go to. It isn’t where’d you live. It remains to this day, "So, where were you born?" Hint: It doesn’t count if you were born in Maryland or Virginia, no matter how close your hospital was to the District line.

It's a city that's full of transients…folks who are there for a brief idealistic while after college, for the four to eight years of a new administration or working in one of the departments and bureaus that are scattered throughout the City and into Maryland and Virginia. But, to this day, a rarity is the native Washingtonian.

When I was a kid, Washington was a small, Southern city, easy to navigate and laid out on a pretty logical grid by L’Enfant in the eighteenth century. I first lived in the Adams-Morgan area of Washington, close to the National Zoo, but my family became a white flight statistic in 1956 when we moved to Silver Spring, Maryland. The City remained familiar, though, and Christmas and back-to-school shopping all happened downtown on F Street. Woodward & Lothrop (Woodies), The Hecht Company (Hecht’s) and Garfinkels…these were our big department stores. Sure, a few suburban branches existed but they were nothing like the downtown stores. There was even a Best & Co., in Chevy Chase as I remember.

And because it was Washington, DC and politics is the main game in town, most kids had family or family friends who were involved in the business of government or reporting on the business of government. May Craig, an important journalist and frequent panelist on Meet the Press, was neighbor Buzzy’s Claggett’s grandma, and frequently in the neighborhood for Sunday dinner, regaling all with insider tales. I can remember parties where young Al Gore, one of David Brinkley’s sons (can’t remember his name now) and various embassy kids were regulars. I guess it’s like L.A. Sooner or later you’re going to be partying with someone who doesn’t know you but you know all about him.

And elections always were big deals in Washington, even to kids. Most children knew the names of the players at a pretty young age. "I Like Ike." That’s what I remember about Eisenhower. That and a black and white photo at our neighbors, the Rowe’s house. In the picture, my friend Jere's mom, Mary Lou Rowe, one of Eisenhower’s secretaries, is sitting on the corner of a desk (Ike’s?) with a coke bottle in one hand and a cigarette in the other and in the background, there’s the president. The first presidential race I vaguely remember was the 1956 (I was eight) election. I had an "Adlai Stevenson…The Thinking Man’s Candidate" button. Secretly I wished I could wear an "I Like Ike" button. Much catchier. More fun and punchy. Hard for a kid to talk up Stevenson’s superior intellect. I was disappointed that the guy on my button didn’t win, but it didn't run deep.

And then it was 1960 and though I wouldn’t be able to vote in a Presidential election until 1968, John F. Kennedy energized American youth, including elementary school children, similarly to Barack Obama today. A week or so before the inauguration one of our very liberal neighbors asked my parents if I could come with them and their daughter, Ellen, to the Inauguration and the parade. They’d moved to the area the year before from Washington State and would only be in DC for two years while Ellen’s dad was a visiting professor at Georgetown. That connection somehow secured tickets in the stands and transportation (from the University) to the Mall. Because a lot of dignitaries hadn’t been able to make it to Washington due to the winter storm the night before, people were encouraged to sit pretty much wherever they wanted so if you were able to make it through the snow, you could pretty much be assured of a decent seat in the stands.

I remember being pretty excited about missing school and am ashamed to say that most of my memories of that very special day involve the bitterly cold weather. We’d had heavy snow the night before, although you’d never know it by looking at the parade route. Pennsylvania Avenue and any important access roads along it were clean and dry, the snow having been plowed, shoveled and dumped into the Potomac by what I now know to be thousands of members of the military. Grassy areas were piled high with snow that hadn’t been moved and Ellen and I spent most of the parade climbing the frozen mounds, doing cartwheels, making snow angels and running around having snowball fights with other random kids under the bleachers.

But what do I remember of the important stuff? Not much. Even the entreaty from Ellen’s parents to hurry up, the President’s limousine is almost here fell on deafish ears. We got there in time to see the black convertible’s tail lights disappearing slowly up Pennsylvania Avenue, the President and Jackie barely visible. Can I tell you how disappointed I am in myself?

And then years later, my daughter Jane, who was asst. press secretary for Wisconsin in the first Clinton-Gore campaign (and we have the picture of her with the President to prove it) drove off to Washington after the election to work on the Hill for Wisconsin Representative and now Milwaukee Mayor, Tom Barrett. She went to an Inaugural Ball (I don't remember which one) and lived the DC life for seven years, until she and her husband moved to Los Angeles.

And now the Obamas!

This morning my best DC girlfriend, Kathy, sent me this email.

"I am on my way down to the Inauguration. Wind chill 8 degrees! Help! Hardest part so far has been finding someone to go with me. One of our former law clerks. A really sweet guy whose wife said no way. John is going, but is biking down the canal. That sounded a little bit too ambitious for me, so we will be taking a train/bus and will then walk. Look for me on your telly!

Isn't it all just too much?!?!?!

Love, K"

And then later on she made more to say...

"Okay, so I was dressed in so many layers I looked like a kid in a snow sujit, but did it ever pay off. I never got cold. Did get a little stiff standing on the frozen ground for 4+ hours. Getting down to the mall was a breeze. Left on Metro at 7 this morning and got down there on the mall in about 45 minutes. We were halfway between the Capitol and the Monument watching the whole thing on the jumbotron with the Capitol straight ahead of us. Close enough to see the bunting. It was cool staring at the Capitol in the distance while we watched Obama take the oath on the big screen. Getting off of the mall took a lot longer. Abut 2 hours to get to the Metro, but then it was clear sailing. Linda, the whole experience really was incredible. We were hugging strangers. Lots of tears. Everyone around so jubuliant, and hopeful and happy, happy, happy. Every time they showed Bush's stupid face on the Jumbotron the crowd would start singing "na, na, na, goooood byyye!" Great to be with millions of like minded people! As we were standing around trying to get home we actually saw Bush's helicopter fly away. Isn't that neat? Later, Jeremy and I got separated -- the crowd was so huge -- but we already agreed that if that happened we would just go it alone. I think I made better time. Got home at 3:15. Not bad.

I am so sorry that you couldn't text me. I just got a new phone and that would have blown me away! Gosh, I would have loved having you with me! What did you think of his speech? Wasn't it great when he took those shots at the past administration? I couldn't believe that Michelle did not wear a coat! She looked kind of bulky, so I'm hoping that was long underwear. And why didn't those girls have on hats? Linda, you can't imagine how cold it was today (yes you can, you lived in Milwaukee for all those years). By the way, Amy Holmes is talking now. I can't stand her. Can't they find someone less Republican?

Okay, I've got to take a hot shower. I've been watching the parade, but I am stiffening up. I think I walked about 10 miles today!

Love to you, and aren't we all incredibly lucky to have that wonderful family in the White House? Yippee!!!!


This is not a woman prone to multiple exclamation marks. To me, she says it all with..."aren't we all incredibly lucky to have that wonderful family in the White House."

Yes, Kathy, we are.

And, in case you’re interested. I was born in Sibley Memorial Hospital…the old one, in Washington, DC.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sosie's Third

The party hours were specific: 10 AM to Noon and the castellated bouncy house was delivered and inflated shortly beforehand. No games were planned but there was a picnic table disguised as a craft table where butterflies could be decorated with glitter and style. Numerous mini wheeled vehicles and balls of every hue and stripe were at the guests' disposal while bowls of goldfish nibbles and a cooler filled with water and juice boxes were there for the taking. As we cast our collective eye over the set-up, checking for last minute omissions, the doorbell rang and the first of the 30-odd folks, ready to party, arrived.

It was as though each child had an entourage: This one had two parents and a brand new sibling while that one came with an older brother, younger sister and a dad but the mom was in hospital recovering from pneumonia. Daughter Jane wisely decided not to exclude anyone and just to make it a loose affair with good food. She made four terrific quiches, a big green salad, a fruit salad and good bagels and cream cheese. Odette, a darling three-year old who is going through some asthma issues (hold the dairy), told me that she couldn't have keem tzeez but liked buddor on her bagle. Everyone loved the food and because the kids just aren't given as much sugar as kids of yore, when the cake came out they were psyched!

Sosie (our Sophie who can't pronounce the 'f' sound on any word) was happy and then overwhelmed...every 15 minutes or so. She changed her outfit at least four times so all our pictures look like they're from different days. And here's the day as I saw it, in no particular order.

Uncle Colin getting things moving in the bouncy house.

Best friends, Charlotte and Violet.

Birthday girl (wearing one of two cake cutting outfits) and Mommy

We were then entertained with an après-dîner extravaganza of dance and music.

The day couldn't have been more perfect.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Choccy Treats

Good chocolates, who needs ‘em? I do, but not at Christmas.

We’ve eaten our share of lofty chocolate over this holiday. Michel Cluizel from Paris, oui, fantastique. B. Castellain (Macaibo and Coffee-flavored), Bonnat and (if you get real lucky) Utopia are all merveilleux. The spicy, chili flavored Vosges bars are amazing. Our son introduced us to Alma chocolate, out of Portland, endearingly shaped into squirrels and owls. Delish. Hell, even Trader Joe’s has Vahlrona Noir Amer and even sometimes 70% Ecuadorian and/or Venezuelan chocolate bars by Chocovic…for a great price.

But at Christmastime, when I drape my home with yard after yard of tack, my taste buds search the familiar. Quality Street…I bought you in England and hauled your sweetness westwards to my Canyon and then gluttony forced me to hide you somewhere in this not-so-vast house in September when I couldn't stop plunging my hand into your jolly, foil-wrapped tin of excess. And now Christmas and New Year’s have done their thing, my tree droops ever more, pinging needles and tinsel across the floor every time the slightest of breezes hits it, and I can’t fucking find you. Quality Street, where are you? Talk to me. Give me a clue. Quickly. My family is beginning to suspect I ate the whole tin.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Some days I need to remind myself just how lucky I am to wake up every morning to this view. Taken from my bed. Camera in one hand, mug of tea in other.

And below, at night.

Some days I need to remind myself just how lucky I am to wake up every morning to this view. Taken from my bed. Camera in one hand, mug of tea in other.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Waiting for the Boy

Before our dinner guests arrived last night I called my son to see if his delayed flight from Madrid/Heathrow/NY had arrived but his cell went immediately to "Hi hi you've reached Colin..." and I knew no such luck.

He'd gotten stuck in Madrid when one-third of the poxy air traffic controllers decided that Saturday was as good a day as any to not show up for work, resulting in two of four runways being shut down and a missed connecting flight out of Heathrow to NY for him and his partner, Anne. In itself, none of this is that big a deal except that Colin has to be in LA tonight on business. He's got a shoot out here and just called us from JFK...where he's waiting for another flight to wing him even further westwards.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Year in Wild Things

All in my back garden...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

All Bright and Shiny and New

I tried reflecting on New Year's Eve, but Lottie & Sophie came over and all I could think about was what if they wake up at 6 and how I would be pitifully weak and exhausted if I didn't get more than six hours of sleep and so I insisted we go to bed NOW, minutes after watching the ball drop in Times Square. And Roger fell into a deep and heavy sleep within 15 seconds of his head touching the pillow but at 2 AM, with him snoring and snockering away, I was still awake, unable to tell him to roll over or shut up since he's had some back issues of late and it would be unkind of me to tell him to move, what with him being comfortable and all. I grabbed my duvet in a huff and left the room, thinking unprintable, non-jolly thoughts. And the girls woke up at 7! YAY! This year went as quickly as any other and each month had its share of memories. Here's my lame attempt at remembering this past year.

I just had a look at how all these pictures 'took.' They didn't. It worked for the first few months. Pictures all lined up tidily with captions...and then it just got all untidy. Captions and pictures all over the damned place. Oh well...much like my year!

Sophie’s Second Birthday

January Hikes. Winter in Socal suits us just fine.


Dear Friends, Betsy y Lee’s Going Away Dinner

They’re in Portland now, which suits them just fine but is still causing some adjustment by those they left behind!

Winter Rains Bring Color to the Canyon
Which otherwise have a barren beauty


A Bumper Crop of Meyer Lemons on one of our trees

And fabulous produce from our local Farmer’s Market

And Easter


Lee’s Birthday in Portland and Uncle Colin's Visit from NY

Jane's Birthday. So wonderful to be in the same city so we can celebrate together


We're always celebrating something in my French class and
always with a princess cake


Fourth of July Watching the Fireworks

I celebrated a BIG birthday

We pimped our house, taking pictures of it from the best possible angles for
a house exchange.


We went to France and all the pictures
are on the other computer and I'm too lazy to get them.

But we also went to England to visit Mum.
No, she doesn't live in Canterbury


Charlotte’s Seventh Birthday
Wearing a Crown of Flowers from Betsy

No photos, but another September highlight was bloggity friend, GrannyP's visit. We packed a fair amount into a few days and we just finished the wonderful cardoman fig jam she brought with her from Lanzarote.


Soccer Games

Roger’s uncles visiting from Wales. Hoover Dam, Vegas and Riding the Waves in Malibu.

Colin's Birthday



Birthday Boy and his Bride of, gulp, 40 years.


Chinatown, Brooklyn, with Colin and Anne post Dim Sum

Dancing in the New Year