Thursday, June 30, 2005

Heart Seizures in the DNC

Hugh Hewitt says:
Gee, I wonder if a Steyn-Michelle Malkin hosted show on MSNBC would do better than Keith O (that's O as in zerO ratings)?

From your lips to God's ears as the saying goes. I don't always agree with Ms. Malkin, she tends to be over the top, but she's gorgeous and an effective interviewer. Mr. Steyn is hands down the best columnist out there. Since Mr. Steyn doesn't like what most US papers are willing to pay for his columns, perhaps he could be lured back to the US with a TV show.

Echoes of Foghorn Leghorn

I can't see the accusation of "Chickenhawk!" without giggling a bit to myself. It smacks too much of the old Looney Tunes bit with Foghorn Leghorn. However with the strident anti-war crowd it is being trotted out once again. (I refuse to call these people peace protestors. You can refuse to support the war effort honorably, calling on soldiers to kill their officers is not the action of someone interested in peace or honor.)

Christopher Hitchens who is mostly exasperating to read has a good jab at deconstructing the meme. Pejman Yousefzadeh at Red State, has a novel solution to the chickenhawk arguement, get those who subscribe to it explain how they would pay for an army 60 million strong. He asks:
So what I want to know is how the propagators of the meme propose that we pay for a 60 million-plus person armed force. What programs should we cut to be able to afford to train, equip, feed, house, clothe, pay and insure all these troops? Education? Infrastructure? Anti-poverty programs? Social Security? Medicare? Medicaid? The welfare state as a whole? Foreign aid? And how much should we cut them? Even assuming that the armed force is not as large as 60 million (though it would have to be lest the remainder that stay civilians be subject to the "chickenhawk" insult), we're still talking about a lot of people that have to be admitted to the armed forces so that the polemical demands of a few misguided souls are satisfied. So again, I ask: How will all of this be paid for?

Jeff Goldstein has a good idea:
The bottom line is, the chickenhawk argument is an impediment to legitimate discourse and debate—and legitimate discourse and debate over national security is a necessity in a free society; and for that reason, those who raise the chickenhawk argument should be treated by everyone—right and left—as intellectual pariahs.

Jeff G. correctly zeros in on the fact that what really matters to these arguers is this:
Of course, in practice, non-military personnel such as those who are quick to use the chickenhawk argument are themselves permitted to express an opinion on the war—provided it’s the correct opinion, namely, that the war is illegal and immoral...

So I have a solution that employs a single fact and is guarenteed to shut up a chickenhawk screed. Agree that only military folks should have an opinion on the war and Bush as commander in chief, then point out the military went for Bush by roughly 80%.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I refer to my tomato plant of course. Or plants as the case happens to be. The liveliness of the plants has to do with the fact that I have not had a whole lot of time to lavish care on them. I have begun the bi-annual Closet Overhaul. Children's clothes, toys, my clothes and books all get a thorough weeding. (My husband is stuck with his own closet, fortunately my beloved is not the kind to keep undergarments full of holes in them. Men-you know who you are.) Suddenly toys which had been as dust beneath their feet become precious commodities. Broken kid meal toys from the drive thru, sticker books with no more stickers, a container of desiccated Play-doh of indeterminant color all receive passionate defense. The judge is cold and heartless, sentences will not be commuted.

I am late overhauling this year, usually this event occurs in April. April ushered in the Infant, so I have been catching up. Just in time for the Lion's Club Rummage Sale. This is a Big Deal. For those souls who live in a city let me give you perspective on small towns. Our big theater has 3 screens, 3! Our sheriff hangs out at the video store shooting the breeze most nights. We have one intersection that merits a traffic light.

The Lions convert the cafetorium (that combination of cafeteria, gymnasium, and auditorium unique to elementary schools) into a heaven of used books, coffee mugs, small appliances, ancient LP's and other such gems. The parking lot holds treadmills, used barbeques, bicycles, and powertools; the breezeway used furniture. This is not the place where you will find an over looked antique; no, the treasures here are more apt to be a Far Side mug with weiner dogs on it and that hard to find copy of Jane and the Genius of the Place.

People begin to gather about 90 minutes before the event begins. The local boy scout troops sell doughnuts and coffee (later hot dogs and sodas). Jockeying for place begins. Small things first, a sidle towards the rope, a trip to the trashcan by door to try to peer into the dim interior of the building. Closer to the start, movement becomes less covert and more agressive. By 15 minutes to go, the crowd presses against the rope and watch checks become frequent. There is inevitably the one old guy in the yellow Lions' vest who becomes the focus of attention, the man with the bullhorn. He pulls out a massive pocket watch, as cliched as it becomes, and at last begins a countdown, 12...11...10......5....4...3...2...1 GO!
At GO! the ropes come down and the crowd rushes in like "there's gold in them thar hills". Two years ago I saw a lady fall and get trampled, before the Eagle Scouts could save her.

I like going to this event with my sister. She is a Class A scavenger. I mean this in the best possible sense. She finds gold among the dross with ease. I always head to the book tables first. Since I am a book junkie, the lure of 4 for a dollar paperbacks is as irresistable as catnip to cats and hyperbole to Maureen Dowd. (alright that was low, apt but low) I've got my scavenger money set aside and been practicing my elbow jabs, you never know when you need to elbow aside another enthusiast for that boxed set of Daphne Farquitt novels.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Who doesn't like coffeecake? I love coffeecake with streusel and sometimes I stumble into the kitchen in the morning and make it. I made one this morning and my kids went nuts. Cake for breakfast!! (only after oatmeal, kid) Here's one I plan to make for the holiday:



2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sourcream
3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp softened butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs to sugar mix then slowly add buttermilk and sourcream. Gradually add flour mix. Pour into greased cake pan.

cut butter into first three streusel ingredients, then add nuts if you wish. take 1/3 struesel and swirl into coffeecake batter, then sprinkle the remaining 2/3 ontop of batter. Bake at 350 until knife comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

For a delish am treat more in line with a sweet roll, try these.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hank Hill and Flag Burning

If you have not seen it yet read Matt Bai's piece about Hank Hill. (ht: Ann Althouse) A "How to talk to Red Staters" article, it looks at Mike Judge's show King of the Hill because a southern governor uses uses Hank Hill as a sounding board for how to talk to his consituency.

There is a kind of nuttiness about this. First, I am glad that Mike Easly (the governor) cares enough to frame his views so that they are accessable to the average joe. It is a little bit pathetic that his average joe is a cartoon character. Does Mr. Easly so out of touch that he doesn't know any regular joes? Is there no one in his circle of friends and aquaintances whom he could pitch to who could tell him if he is off base?

I know my politics lean towards the right. (ahem) Among my friends and family though (not even touching co-workers, church members, and book club correspondents) there is plenty of political divide. I find myself uneasy at the thought that a governor does not have diversity of thought and opinion among his circle of aquaintance. (No, I will not even touch on Washington's governor and the Locke legacy in Olympia.)

I am not in King of the Hill's basic demographic. I don't own a truck and I am not a guy, but Hank Hill's charm is his common sense, something you wish to see in all demographics. If Hank Hill is the average guy, let's apply the Easly test to the flag burning amendment.

Hank is a patriot, his father is a veteran, and one of his good friends is a marine (albeit a barber in the marines). I think we can safely say flag burning would not be condoned, but I don't think that Hank would say that there ought to be a law. Hank is a live at let live kind of a guy. He might be disgusted at the idocity of a flag burner, but would conclude there are better ways for police to be directing thier energy. I imagine he would have a few chioce words to say to the burners though.

Mark Steyn, not a cartoon character, also has some common sense things to say about flag burning. The boys over at The Corner are debating the arguments over flag burning also. Ramesh Ponnuru is less convinced by Steyn. Andrew Suttaford says it's a free speech issue. I think that it comes down to government intrusiveness. American flag burners would do well to experience life without the privileges of US citizenship and residency, before decrying the country as evil, but the flag after all is cloth and what burners hate and hoisters revere are the ideas embodied by the cloth and no governement should regulate what you should think.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Summer Fun

Summer is here and so begins the rounds of programs sponsered by the local library to keep kids engaged and parents happy. We went to a juggling show today - these guys. Heady stuff for the under twelve crowd and fun for the parents as well. At one point in the program my 4 year old tired of waiting to be chosen as a volunteer so he walked up and volunteered himself. Nothing throws these guys off.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Our Black Robed Masters

What, oh what are they thinking? What about the fifth amendment don't they understand? Heck, the 14th amendment. Look, I am not a big property owner, but in the words of my son, "Good, gosh golly!"

The founders were real big on that whole property thing. The Sons of Liberty, hotheads of the Revolution, used the slogan Liberty and Property. The First Continental Congress used the phrase life, liberty and property when defining the rights of man. That Uber-Icon, Jefferson, contemplated the phrase when writing the Declaration but the "pursuit of happiness" has more poetry to it.

It's in the Constitution twice. Two times in that short a legal document, hmmm. Look, there are plenty of arguements about the "greater good", "needs of the community", blah, blah, blah. I am a pretty bare bones kind of Constitionalist, shall I quote?

Amendment 14: "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"

Amendment 5: "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Twice, so you'd think that they wouldn't have reached this asinine decision. Proof once again that we need more judges like Justice Thomas.

If you don't visit Michelle Malkin regularly, she has a good roundup going on.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Song For Your Delight

Riding in the car is Song Time. For a few blissful months I got to choose the songs, exclusively. This was an eclectic mix of Beatles, Gillian Welch, Diana Krall, Jars of Clay, Third Day, Beethoven sonatas, and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. (Everybody now! "I am the very model of a modern Major-General, I've information vegetable, animal and mineral; I know the Kings of England and quote the fights historical, from Marathon to Waterloo, in order catagorical...)

A few months ago the Verbalist suddenly realized that manners dicated everyone getting a choice if asked nicely. The Muralist immediately demanded "Princess Songs", ie. Disney Princess songs- "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "A Whole New World", "Once upon a Dream, "Colors of the Wind" the list goes on. They both request Raffi, who can resist such classics as "Down By the Bay"? (...I'm very well aquainted to with matters mathematical, I understand equations both the simple and quadratical. About binomial theorum I'm teeming with alot o'news-- with many cheerful facts about the square of the hypontenuse...)

The Verbalist occasionally will demand we sing his song, which is an original verse or two in a meandering tune, that trails off into under the breath muttering. His latest was unveiled today:

Bears lots of bears
A million bears
too many for a boy to take care of

Bears need toys
Spiderman toys
for thier boys to play with

So then we went back to something we all liked, "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2. A song, I am not ashamed to admit, brings tears to my eyes as sung by Sarah McLachlan in her most ache filled voice. (Ok I'll finish it---
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus,
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous;
In short, in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's,
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox.
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolus.
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from the "Frogs" of Aristophanes.
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense "Pinafore."
Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you every detail of Caractacus's uniform;
In short, in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin,"
When I can tell at sight a mauser rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by commissariat,
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery;
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy,
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat-a-gee.

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General!)

Chili and Cornbread

Everyone has thier own chili recipe, for some it's out of a Nalley's can. Horrors. Chili is also one of those perfect meals that is good whatever the season. What is chili without cornbread? That's like Independence Day without fireworks. Chili, ho!


1/2 lb beef (ground beef, steak, whatever you want or have)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small habenero minced
coarsly ground black pepper

saute and set aside. In large pot or crockpot:

1 lb of pinto beans
6 cups of water
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp salt

boil on low until beans are tender. Add:

onion/meat mixture
3 tomatoes diced
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp brown sugar

Stir throughout the day, letting it boil down to desired consistency. Salt to taste. To make vegetarian, just omit meat.


1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 honey

Combine and bake in greased cake pan at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Going to the Movies

I ran across this bit in the Wall Street Journal today.

Warner Bros. expensive comic book movie Batman Begins had a tepid opening weekend, taking in an estimated 446.9 million in domestic box office receipts despite positive critical reviews.
The results continue the movie industry's longest losing streak in 20 years in which weekend receipts have run behind those of a year earlier.

Blah, blah Christian Bale, blah blah. Then this:

The latest weekend results are the 17th in a row to fall short of cumulative box office receipts for the same weekend last year-making this the longest year to date down streak since 1985.

First getting over the weirdness of 1985 being 20 years ago, I got curious what was in the theaters a year ago and what was in the theaters 20 years ago. The answer? Last year at this time we had: Passion of the Christ, LOTR: Return of the King, Spiderman 2, Shrek 2, HP: Prisoner of Azkaban, Scooby Doo 2, Kill Bill vol.2, Barbarshop 2. Now this trend makes sense; a highly controversial film about Jesus (during Eastertime no less), and some huge franchises vs. Matagascar, SW: Episode 3 and a bunch more forgettable things.

When you look at the movies of 1985, very little of the memorable movies premiered at the beginning of the year. The end of the year released franchise films in both the Rocky and the Rambo series and launched the Back to the Future franchise. The second half of 1985 gave us Out of Africa and The Color Purple. I hope the second half of 2005 does as well as 1985 successfully launching the franchises of Chronicles of Narnia and Serenity.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

We just got back from my dad's house where my family gathered for Father's Day. It was fun. The guys gathered on the deck to admire dad's new grill. Shiny! The kids ran around and at last watched Raffi while the adults talked and passed the baby around.

Family gathering mean board games on my side of the family. We broke out an old favorite-Taboo. If you are not familiar with the game here's how it goes: a sender tries to get a partner to say a word, for example candle. Then they have a list of words they can't say when trying to get their partner to say it: wax, birthday, wick, light, blow. This game is much easier if you and your partner have alot of shared reference points. It also is hilarious when people begin to blurt out the odd non sequiters they rustle up under pressure.

As I watched my dad, husband, and brother-in-law interact with the kids I thanked God for the dedicated men who are pouring into those young lives. Fathers are underappreciated and are so vital. Happy Father's Day, thanks for sticking with it.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Reports from the Outer Rim

I was asked why I call the Congress the "Outer Rim". It's because Congress seems so out of touch with the electorate, at least many of the established Senators and Representatives. Elected cycle after cycle they get feeling as if they are invincible from the electorate, accountable to the politically active only. If they can bring home that government pork, say platitudes during election cycles, and pacify those folks who write thier Congressmen then what they say in Washington doesn't really matter to those folks who only pay attention every four years, or even every two.

When I was a girl, I asked my father why a great many people who didn't like the man voted for Bob Packwood, then a Senator from Oregon where I grew up. "Well Sweetie," he replied, "he's got clout and seniority, people think he can make a deal in Washington for folks back here. They don't want to have a Senator who has to earn it." Packwood resigned after the Ethics Committee recommended it, having been exposed as a drunk who groped his interns.
That's it in a nutshell. A good many senior politicians think that government pork and platitudes is enough to appease voters, sadly they are right, for the moment.

There are somethings though that election time platitudes and government pork can't gloss, especially if anal retentive bloggers with long memories keep bringing up. Chances are that the general populace wouldn't remember Dana Milbank's story about House Democrats and thier make believe, or Howard Dean's Cornucopia of Idiotic Assertions. Political junkies do and now they have a broader voice. They will bring up these folks entertaining Jewish conspiracy theories (two links), calling our soldiers Nazis, and other such outrageous behavior during all the election cycles.

Patterico thinks that the trend of the Democratic politicians in Washinton and the voter fraud perpetrated to aid democratic politicians, is indicitive of banana republic shennanigans culminating in a coup. I think it is simply an indication that they hold voters in contempt, that they still don't understand a wider audience is watching, and that they can buy thier way out lies and bigotry with money for highways and whatever else they can bring home.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

On Gitmo and Patrick Ruffini

Patrick Ruffini says:

Here's the Guantanamo narrative, and then tell me who it favors: Camp X-Ray is about detaining terrorists who want to kill Americans -- the al Qaeda kind of terrorists, the September 11th kind of terrorists, the comrades of Atta. Some on the left would like to dismantle Camp X-Ray over some perceived injustices. The injustices? Placing the Koran on top of a television set. (Pity the poor little terrorists.) And what do they propose we do with the friends of Atta? They won't say. Have we forgotten that we are at war with these people?

Patrick Ruffini suggests that we need to say loud and clear to the populace at large who the detainees are again. I agree. What it will not accomplish is shutting up the anti-Gitmo people. Why? I'm glad you asked. Because the anti-Gitmo people either believe we deserve the 9-11 attacks, a la Ward Churchill, or that detaining those folks is not an apporopriate response to 9-11.

I had a long conversation with a lovely woman who was so utterly opposed to any kind of substative security protocols. Her whole argument refuted the notion that it was justfied. No military action - not just Iraq but our actions in Afghanistan, no Gitmo, no nothing. I asked her: "What if there were more 9-11's? What if they attacked Michigan (where she lives) rather than New York? What if your husband died?" She in utter sincerity replied that she would rather die in another 9-11 than one innocent Iraqi, Afghani die because the US tried to end terror regimes that perpetrated the attack.
She would rather risk a 9-11 than see someone who may not be a terrorist wind up in Gitmo. This woman and I disagree on most everything other than fiction reading. She understands my arguments for everything and disagrees with them from moral conviction. She doesn't cuss and doesn't call me a "closed-minded, war-mongering, Christer bigot" as do several leftists of my acquaintance, she just draws absolutely different conclutions from the same facts. So this is who, besides the cynical politicos, calls for the closure of Gitmo, and no arguement you make or fact you can cite will change thier minds.

English Majors - You Are Doooooomed

I have wended my way through the internet to land on this, an article based on remarks made by Mark Danner to english grads at UC Berkeley. While alot of it is the usual accusations against the military and administration, parts of it I couldn't pass up. Let's jump right in:

To be an English major is to live not only by questioning, but by being questioned. It is to live with a question mark placed squarely on your forehead. It is to live, at least some of the time, in a state of "existential dread."

Here I thought English Majors were to read. Gee, maybe I am not as sensitive as Mr. Danner and the parolees at UC Berkeley but I never gained a state of existential dread from reading Chaucer or Langston Hughes.

To be a humanist, that is, means not only to see clearly the surface of things and to see beyond those surfaces, but to place oneself in opposition, however subtle, an opposition that society seldom lets you forget: What are you going to do with that?

So if you appreciate literature and self realization through reason, if you can see the multi-layered nature of life, you reject practicality? High minded thoughts rarely put food on the table unless you have a patron.

To the recent graduate, American society -- in all its vulgar, grotesque power -- reverberates with that question.


It's not easy to be an English major these days, or any student of the humanities. It requires a certain kind of determination, and a refusal -- an annoying refusal, for some of our friends and families, and for a good many employers -- to make decisions, or at least to make the kind of "practical decisions" that much of society demands of us. It represents a determination, that is, not only to do certain things -- to read certain books and learn certain poems, to acquire or refine a certain cast of mind -- but not to do other things: principally, not to decide, right now, quickly, how you will earn your living; which is to say, not to decide how you will justify your existence. For in the view of a large part of American society, the existential question is at the bottom an economic one: Who are you and what is your economic justification for being?

English majors, and other determined humanists, distinguish themselves not only by reading Shakespeare or Chaucer or Joyce or Woolf or Zora Neale Hurston but by refusing, in the face of overwhelming pressure, to answer that question. Whether they acknowledge it or not -- whether they know it or not -- and whatever they eventually decide to do with "that," they see developing the moral imagination as more important than securing economic self-justification.

Oh vulgar America! Vulgar nation that emphasises the need to not be on the public dole! Oh silly man that thinks that you must be an English Major to develop a moral imagination. Woeful indeed are the English Majors not realizing they had to make a choice between love of books and marketable skills. I never realized I had to make that choice and now I know. I must give up the Bard before I continue my plebian path of earning a living.

I found myself lying on my back in a small apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reading the New York Times and the New York Review -- very thoroughly: essentially spending all day, every day, lying on my back, reading, living on graduation-present money and subsisting on deliveries of fried rice from the Hong Kong restaurant (which happened to be two doors away -- though I felt I was unable to spare the time to leave the apartment, or the bed, to pick it up). The Chinese food deliveryman looked at me dispassionately and then, as one month stretched into two, a bit knowingly. If I knew then what I know now I would say I was depressed. At the time, however, I was under the impression that I was resting.

Ya know Mr. Danner, this kind of anecdote infuses new life into those worn English major jokes. Very few people I know would exist on grad-present money, they have to pay back school loans and flip burgers while looking for jobs in thier field. Maybe you wouldn't have had to deal with so much existential dread if you put down the Times and worked as the Chinese food deliveryman.

remember: whether you know it yet or not, you have doomed yourselves by learning how to read, learning how to question, learning how to doubt. And this is a most difficult time -- the most difficult I remember -- to have those skills. Once you have them, however, they are not easy to discard.

Because remember graduates, as soon as you get a job, Corporate America will turn you into a mindless drone; if you manage to resist Dronehood, unhappiness is what awaits you. The literature you love will never exalt your spirits. Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter. What mindless dribble! The Doom of endless teen angst be yours! May you never become establishment! Be right back.

Later. I was about to overload. This kind of self pitying spew gets my goat. This kind of thinking is made possible by a nation and a people that have needs met and nothing better to do. Not that a poor man or nation can not think Big Thoughts but rather focuses on immediacy of need and doesn't have alot of time to drivel about the soullessness of labor or the hypocracy of kings rather he just gets to living life. Or in the words of the Swan of Avon:
Sweats in the eye of Phoebus, and all night
Sleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn,
Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse,
And follows so the ever-running year,
With profitable labour, to his grave


We live in a very cool age. (ht: The Corner) I remember when computers made the leap to homes, fax machines were introduced and cell phones were the size of brief cases. (I feel my father laughing dryly.) Sometimes the progress of science slaps you at times. I wonder if folks in the industrial revolution had the same amazed disconnect at automobiles and assembly lines as I do at chimeras and replicators.

Have passed 1,000 visitors to this site, so thank you all for coming. Please leave comments once in a while. If you are curious about The Verbalist, The Muralist, The Infant, ect take a gander at the lovely photos here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Let the Haggling Begin!

The nice thing about living near family is that you get to see them. My sister is hands down my best friend. I don't take for granted living near her because her husband is career Navy and we are never sure where his orders will take them. For now though I live within twenty miles of both my sister and my folks and within two hundred miles of my in laws. Consequently when any kind of event or holiday roles around there begins negotiations on how and where it will be observed.
Next comes haggling over who brings what to eat. Everyone in my family is convinced that they are pretty decent cooks and to be honest we are not fooling ourselves. (Toot, toot! Yes that is my own horn) I usually get awarded breads and desserts because I once was a baker for a living. My sister generally does sides and appetizers and mom (and dad) the main meat. Anyway, I was refreshing my mind on ingredients I needed for Father's Day desserts and stumbled across a couple of recipes for ya'll to enjoy.

Hawaiian Bread

1 tsp active dry yeast
3 tbsp sugar
3 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 egg
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut (optional)
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional)

activate yeast with water and sugar and add remaining elements until you have formed a dough ball. Portion into rolls and bake at 350 degrees. I almost never add the nuts or coconut they seem like over kill. Also the dough will be a bit sticky- at least mine always is. If you have leftover rolls I love spreading them with cream cheese and strawberry jam for breakfast. And since we are in the neighborhood:

Coconut Cream Pie

5 tbsp shredded coconut unsweetened*
10 graham crackers crumbed
2 tbsp brown sugar
5 tbsp melted butter

mix together coconut, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar with a fork in the bottom of your pie pan. Add the melted butter and then push mixture along bottoms and up sides until evenly distributed. bake at 325 until deep golden brown about 20 minutes. Cool while doing the following.

14 oz coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp butter

In bowl whisk together egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch until smooth. In medium sauce pan, over medium heat bring milk, coconut milk, coconut, remaining sugar, and salt to a simmer. Temper the egg yolk mixture then add to sauce pan. (to temper, add a little of the hot mixture from the saucepan to the egg mixture. This keeps the eggs for congealing and turning nasty if you add them in straight to the hot saucepan) Bring mixture to simmer, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and a few bubbles burst. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter, stirred in thoroughly. Pour filling into cooled crust and cover with plastic wrap. Be sure to press plastic wrap onto surface of filling to keep a skin from forming. Chill until pie is cold and firm-about 4 hours.

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp dark rum
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

When you put the pie in to chill also make room in your fridge for a mixing bowl. Chill bowl, beaters and heavy cream. When pie is cold, take out your cold bowl and cream and add sugar, rum and vanilla and whip. low speed 30 seconds or until bubbles form, medium speed another half minute until trails form, high speed until soft peaks form about another minute. Spread over pie. Enjoy!

*toasted. If you have never toasted coconut, spread on baking sheet or pie pan in oven and toast about 8-10 minutes stirring twice. Oven at 325

No Tsunami Came

No tsunami came as a result of the earthquake in Eureka, Ca. This is very good news and not wholly because I live on an island in Puget Sound and my house is almost level with the water. No, I think this is excellent news because we have avoided nut jobs who would have said:

A) a tsunami is Gaia upset at the Bush administration's foreign policy
B) a tsunami is Gaia upset at the Bush administration's enviromental policy
C) a tsunami is Gaia punishing wicked, cruel and greedy Americans who are miserly towards relief areas in the rest of the world.

I just know I'd have been sitting in a elementary school cafetorium emergency relief center sipping donated Starbucks and someone would have shown it to me in the P-I.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Can You Tell Me How To Get . . .

how to get to Sesame Street? Sesame Street is great, a staple of my childhood. I'm skeptical that Sesame Street will wither up and blow away if less tax payer dollars go to NPR and PBS. My kids have Sesame Street toys, puzzles, clothes and dishes. Elmo videos are stacked next to Nick Jr. and Disney offerings - heck we "Elmocize" three times a week. Somehow I don't think Sesame Street is scraping by. What will happen if the cuts to public broadcasting actually happen? Mmmm, perhaps they will have to have competitive programming. Worthy programs like Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street could find homes on ABC, Nickelodian, Disney channel or anyone else who'd love to add them to their stable. I bet Disney executives would wet their pants to control rights to Big Bird and Winnie-the-Pooh. We'd see Grover on the big screen.

As for "commercial free" have you seen the sponser blurbs now on PBS? Not just a high toned voice saying, "brought to you by a grant from Scrooge and Marley's Business Innovations and The Catherine T. Moneybags Foundation." No no, it's full on Clownheads advertising burger joints or cold cereal. Elmo is brought to you by Happi-os Cereal. So the kids want to purchase happi-os because it is kind enough to provide Elmo a little air-time. I don't begrudge the companies thier commercial, but I think it's self deceptive of public stations to bill themselves as commercial free just because thier commercials are all at the top or bottom of the hour instead of sprinkled through.

Public broadcasting is Government Pork pure and simple. I hope that Congress has enough spine to close thier ears to the squeals of public broadcasting lobbyists as the pork gets carved from the budget.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Life imitates IMAO

Or is Frank J. actually onto something here? He writes Howling Howard's next absurdities but I think that his Stay at Home Mom's joke has already come to pass. Let's look at the evidence shall we?

First here is Dean's speech (emphasis mine) as captured by Trey Jackson:
"You think people can work all day and then pick up their kids at child care or wherever and get home and still manage to sandwich in an eight-hour vote? Well Republicans, I guess can do that. Because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."

Let's see then, according to Howard Dean then being a stay at home parent is not a real job. Neither is working from home to facilitate watching your kids instead plunking them in day care. I bet Howard Dean would never figure out how to take three kids under five to a polling place. But wait there is more! Many elected Democrats are saying that Dean is not speaking for the party, let's do a time warp and look at the words of what could have been our First Lady.

Quote One:

Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job — I mean, since she's been grown up.

Quote Two:
I had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a school teacher and librarian, and there couldn't be a more important job than teaching our children.

Lest you forget, Teresa Heinz Kerry was dismissing Laura Bush because she had stayed at home to raise her daughters, and then when she apologized didn't bother to say parenting is difficult. These quotes caught my eye back during the election cycle because I have been and am a librarian, teacher and stay at home mom. I think the insults have already been dished out.

Howl's Moving Castle

There is a rich, rich world of juvenile and young adult fiction out there, and among the offerings fantasy fiction holds gems. JK Rowling is just the most hyped among many talented authors. Diana Wynne Jones has written scads of great books and one of my favorites is Howl's Moving Castle.

Imagine my delight when I heard Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of Spirited Away, had produced a film version of this off beat fairy tale. I have reservations then when reading this and then this. How different is this version? In the book everyone has a lesson to learn. Sophie is a doormat in the beginning, letting people use her, meekly assuming her worth is far less than it is. Her curse turns into a blessing as she uses her new condition to act differently, to stand up for herself.

Howl is vain and fearful but is trapped in a the consequences of misusing power. Calcifer, a fire djinn, is sly and you are never quite sure he is trustworthy. Calcifer is Ariel to Howl's Prospero.

DW Jones' books are full of delight no one is quite who they seem and they often poke fun at the earnestness of adult concerns. I hope that fun and delight will be shown in this adaptation.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Macho, Macho Men

So the French say that macho men are becoming rarer. Well, maybe in France. But I wouldn't say that about him or him.

The traditional man still exists in China, Le Louet said, and "is not ready to go". But in Europe and the United States, a new species is emerging, apparently unafraid of anything.
Some thing tells me Le Louet has never been beyond Madison Ave. Plus, men's manliness is not defined by what they wear. In earlier centuries manly men were often more gaudily dressed than Liberace was this century. It takes a real man to wear hose, Elizabeth I would agree with me. I dare you to tell caber tossing Scotsmen they are unmanly because they wear a skirt.

Ace advises them:
Try reading Field & Stream or Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Mad Max Movies.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Bard in the Movies

I was going to snark at the Cornucopia of Idiocity but it's too rainy. The rain is shutting down my snarking abilities, as is the hot chocolate and crackling fire. Instead, I will review Merchant of Venice which I watched yesterday while folding laundry.

Merchant has often been criticized as anti-Semitic, and as such doesn't get the attention that some of the other plays do. In fact, the Bard is called anti-Semitic because Shylock, the villian, is a Jew. I have always thought those criticisms shallow because Shakespeare more than anything else wrote about people and how they are all the same. In Merchant this very point is made by Shylock, in his famous "have Jews not hands" speech. Shylock is actually the most sympathetic of Shakespeare's villians. Iago, Don John were villians just because it pleased them to be. Macbeth was weak and manipulated. Claudius was ruled by avarice and lust. Caliban was a drunk. Shylock now, was driven by persecution until he could no longer contain himself, and even then sought recourse thru the law and a bargain foolishly made.

I love Merchant though, because of the clever women. Clever and ready to seize the chance for happiness, Portia instigates her future. Lynn Collins is a wonderful Portia. She is lovely, with a roundness that is refreshing from the stick-like qualities of Cate Blanchette, Gwenyth Paltrow, and other Hollywood stars. She has a clever gleam in her eye and delivers Portia's careful parsing of words convincingly. She seems to melt at Bassanio's words of impatient love, he is "on the rack" of love and must win her immediately. One criticism, I had always invisioned Portia directing the song full of hints more obviously than portrayed in the movie.

Jospeh Finnes is great as Bassanio. He has the same intensity with the love language that makes him a treat in Shakespeare in Love. He makes you realize how passionate and romantic the words are all over again.

I was a bit disconnected from Jeremy Irons' Antonio. Antonio has always been the most inexplicable character, there seemed no motivation for entering into so foolish a bargain with Shylock. Irons gives him motivation, a change from ennui and a steadfast refusal to believe it would actually come to pass. Irons is so languid and so withdrawn that you don't have much empathy for him, beyond the knee jerk cringe of having flesh carved off you.

Pacino shines as Shylock. Shylock is so full of depth and motivations and Pacino explores all of them. You can see him whipping up the passions of all Venice and exposing the double standards applyed to Jews. He also shows how Shylock also has his own brand of intolerance when his daughter runs off and marries a Christian. You can see how Pacino is an Oscar winner in this role.

So three out of four stars. Bring on the Swan of Avon!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

C is for Cookie

This weekend the kids and I baked cookies. There is always an excuse for cookies. Cookies and milk. Cookies and a tall, frosty glass of milk, mmm be right back.


Anyway, we made cookies because the kids saw an activity advertised on the Disney Channel. We made a snack bag with an elephant on the front. The Muralist is into elephants in a big way. What better snack than cookies? (ok, carrot sticks, string cheese, raisins yeah, yeah) How about what funner snack than cookies? Here is a favorite in my house.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal

1 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 cups flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup raisins
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash cloves

Soak raisins in 1 1/4 cups hot water. Cream shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add egg. In seperate bowl, mix: flour, oats, soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Add to sugar mixture. While they combine, drain off raisins and add to cookie dough, then add chocolate chips. Scoop 1 ounce cookies onto cookie sheets lined with parchment. Bake at 350 degrees

Monday, June 06, 2005

I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing

A ruling has been handed down against the GOP in the Rossi/Gregoire governor contest. There is uproar among voters. King County Democrats are ecstatic, Mrs. Gregoire will remain governor until 2008. Many other Washington residents are less thrilled.

Judge Bridges ruled to the exact letter of the law, for which he is to be commended. He set aside the illegal votes but would not proportionatly deduct them - which would have changed the results back to Rossi's favor. That is where the case hinged. Republicans said that the illegal votes in King County should be set aside in the proportion in which King County voted. Bridges rejected proportional analysis and would only specifically deduct illegal votes proven to go to one candidate or another. The problem is that no one knows who those illegal votes were cast for, the ballot is secret after all.

Bridges knew he was in the hotseat and said this before ruling:

"I have been asked in closing arguments to send a message. I'm going to decline that invitation. This court is not in a position to fix deficiencies in the election process that this court heard about over the past nine days."
He also slapped election officials with this statement:

"It's inertia, it's selfishness, it's taking our paycheck but not doing the work."
He said it is up to voters to fix the problems by getting rid of elections officials who were not doing thier job. My questions are these: how do voters vote out election officials in a system many are convinced is beyond repair? How do you ask voters in Spokane to vote to fix problems in Seattle?

Voters may affect statewide positions but the rotten apples are local to King County. I don't have much faith that King County wants to correct election problems there.

Tempting fate every summer

I tempt fate every summer by planting tomatoes. I am definately NOT a green-thumb. In fact, I once had a friend who asked me to help her with her garden in the hopes I would kill some of her zucchini plants that ran amok. (no, I am not joking, she didn't tell me until I had accomplished her goal, and ashamedly admitted the death of her produce bearing vines. Do zucchini grow on vines? I feel my mother shaking her head sadly)

The seeds my children and I planted in the spring have failed to germinate, so I trundled off to the Walmart garden center and purchased three tomato plants about a foot high. I potted them, in Miracle Grow (or in my case - Miracle Stay Alive), and placed them in my sun room. I do this every year, dutifully starting seeds in March, despairing by May, and purchasing plants in June. Every year some tomato plants are exiled to the Russian Roulette of my care. They die or produce wildly, no in between. I either go a begging or begin pushing off extra tomatoes on the FedEx guy.

I am gazing at the plants now, they have an added threat currently - dogs. I have 2 cats and my children and husband have a dog. She is a nice dog, an Aussie Shephard who is Ever Vigilant, but I am not a dog person. They are Too Doggy. I prefer the arrogant affection of a cat. A cat doesn't get hurt feelings if you go for a car ride without them. As long as you come back to give them chow and entertain them before they sleep on your pillow, cats are cool. Dogs are Needy. They need approval and validation constantly. I said dogs though. I am caring for my sisters canines.

She has gone to see her husband's family farm. That is, the farm he grew up on back in Tennessee. His dad's family has been in those parts since before statehood as I understand it and went back to the farm after retiring from the Navy. My brother in law is on year 13 in the Navy and his folks are hoping he will follow in his dad's footsteps. They have planned a Big Push to extoll the virtues of Tennessee to my sister, correctly concluding if they convince her to move the chances rise sharply. Graceland here she comes! Dollywood, not so much.

Care of her canines were split between my mother and I. I got the weiner dogs, she got the big, water doofus. The Doofus is sweet and wants to swim in anything deeper than an centimeter. Except that I have the Doofus now. I am not thrilled. I am hoping the Doofus goes back to mom's. The Doofus wants to chase my neighbor's cows and if you learn one thing living in the country, it is: do not upset a farmer's cows - that upsets the farmer. And farmers have pitchforks and tend to congregate at the grange hall.

Friday, June 03, 2005

False Feminism

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this kind of thing. (ht: Best of the Web) The New Testament rewritten with Christ as a woman and the Godhead referred to as female.

The publisher, LBI Institute, has released this new Bible entitled: "Judith Christ of Nazareth, The Gospels of the Bible, Corrected to Reflect that Christ Was a Woman, Extracted from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."

I am not disturbed so much at the stupidity of the idea, but note the word corrected in the blurb. As if historical documents now conclude that Jesus was a woman, never mind theological implications or the notion that God has a gender. However, in his Incarnation, Jesus patently did have a gender - MALE. Sorry, fragile egos of my liberal sisters.

This a false feminism and one I utterly reject. It is the feminism described by CS Lewis in That Hideous Strength, rejecting the male simply because it's male. Madeline L'Engle notes it also in her Austin family series, her wise maternal character admonishes her daughters to reject false feminism also. Pride in gender and it's inherent roles does not mean refuting the other gender's role and place. That is the same thinking that keeps women behind the veil in the Middle East or gives credence to the thought that too much education would ruin a woman's mind.

The Bible does not trample women. They are not portrayed as second class. The Bible is full of comparisions and allusions to the feminine aspect of God, there for the reading. Genesis 1: 26-27 says:
Then God said, "Let us make man(kind) in our image, in our likeness, let them rule over the fish of the sean and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth , over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man(kind) in his own image,
In the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them." (NIV)
The Godhead is likened to a woman in Luke 15:8-9. Even Paul's much maligned passage about women's roles in church has this to say:
In the Lord however, woman is not independent of man, nor man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. I Corinthians 11:11-12
These statements occur right after his admonishments of how women should behave. The point of the whole passage is this: everyone should be focused on God in church. If someone is being disruptive they need to be under authority of someone. In ancient Corinth, that authority was a man. Again, simply a reflection of what was and not a whipping post for an outraged false feminism.

Back to CS Lewis. In Perelandra, Lewis writes a truth: gender is only the animal extention of masculine and feminine. God encompasses both masculine and feminine, to rewrite historical fact to exclude the masculine to redress a wrong that has not been comitted is not a work of serious scholarship. You want to translate the Bible in a way that highlights the feminine aspect of God - go right ahead, but a silly hack job that promotes a falsity will not empower women.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I can't keep up

This morning I said John Kerry had the stupid Democrat quote of the week. Was I wrong! Check out that Cornucopia of Idiocy, Howard Dean, at Ankle Biting Pundits and the video by Trey Jackson. I especially like the quote about the evangelical Christian (emphasis from ABP):

"And the young lady piped up and said, now, Governor, just a second, I'm an Evangelical Christian. and we don't think there ought to be separation of church and state. We think this is a Christian Nation. And you could have heard a pin drop.....And after dinner I was thanking everybody for coming and contributing and everything. and I went up to her and said how is it that you managed to support me as an Evangelical Christian? There's some things you can't possibly agree with me on, such as Civil Rights for all Americans and a woman's right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she has."
Wow, Dean has actually talked to an evangelical Christian? I would never have guessed.

Just what New Testament are you reading?

Have you ever pretended to know about a topic that you were only marginally familiar with? Maybe your boss asked you about something and you fudged until you could look up the information she wanted. Maybe your kid asked you a question and you dredged your mind for information on a topic only to come up shy. You've got two routes: tell what you know is accurate and admit you need to do more fact gathering or brazen it out and make a total fool of yourself.

The Verbalist is four and has developed an interest in space. He started asking me information about the moon.

Where is the moon in the day? Why does the moon change shapes? How far away is the moon? What is it made of? Why does the moon circle the earth? Why does the earth circle the sun? What would happen if we stopped?

On and on. For every question he asked he would ask WHY? trying to get to the bottom of everything. I eventually had to fall back to the last bastion of answerhood: I don't know, God just made it that way. I try to be truthful. Sometimes though I can't help but try and buffallo the kids, they can believe the most outlandish things. I have to make it plausible though, the kids can sniff out when I am pulling thier legs. Which brings us to the stupid Democrat quote of the week:

"I went back and reread the whole New Testament the other day. Nowhere in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ did I find a suggestion at all, ever, anywhere, in any way whatsover, that you ought to take the money from the poor, the opportunities from the poor and give them to the rich people."
That of course was John Kerry. It's not that he's wrong in suggesting that it is a Christian's duty to help the poor or comfort the widow, it's that he's making a factual error. See all he needed to do was read the gospels to find his error. Personal accountability and good stewardship are spoken of in the Parable of the Talents. More on that here.

Kerry is indicitive of Democratic Party leaders at the moment. A reflection of the cluelessness that they approach all those Jesusland people. (my new motto: Jesusland not a red state but my state of mind. Evangelicals ought to reclaim what started as an epithet) When Howard Dean says Job is his favorite New Testament book, Kerry is unable to find the parable of the talents in the Gospels, you come to the conclusion: was Kerry actually reading the New Testament? Democrats seem to think they can bluff out on a subject they know nothing about, the way I can my kids, the problem lies in the fact that the audience knows more than they do.

Chicken Stuffed Focaccia

So you had a roast chicken the night before and are looking to use the leftovers in a creative way? Never happened to you? Can I live in your life so I don't have to make creative meals from leftovers? Well if you do need to use up leftovers try this.

Chicken Stuffed Focaccia

1 tsp dry active yeast
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp salt

Combine to a dough and let rise.

While dough is rising, combine filling:

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand. I like cheddar, provolone, or swiss)
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
10 oz chopped broccoli or spinach
1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 tsp salt

After dough has risen, divide into 2 equal portions. On lightly floured surface roll out 1 portion of dough into a circle. Place on a greased pizza pan or baking sheet. Spread filling in the center, leaving room (about an inch) around the edges. Take second dough ball and a form into a circle and place on top of filling. Moisten and pinch edges of the dough to each other. Dimple the top and brush on olive oil generously. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.