Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Liberal guilt, and progression.

I must admit I am feeling a little guilty. I am a self proclaimed history buff you see. I loved my history classes in school, I enjoy museums, National Geographic magazines, archeology, the Discovery Channel, The History Channel, various history books, PBS, etc etc. A bit of a dabbler in the info of the past. I love the little tidbits of information about that past that filters in and much to the chagrin of friends and family I love to share that information.

So I have been a bit surprised at myself.... a bit ashamed and abashed even. Since the election ended I have begun to put more thought into WHY I have been so blase about this election. I have even done a little history refresher for myself a la the internet in order to fully enjoy todays experience. Now back to the self examination...

I lay blame for my initial lackluster excitement about this election on the fact I am a Westerner. A Californian to be exact, and to put a more precise twist on my personality as far as demographics go... a NORTHERN Californian. So, I always thought I would see the first African-American President take office in my lifetime. I was not surprised or shocked or overcome (at first) by the outcome of this last election. It was a feeling almost of.... "Oh yeah... ok. Whatever." It was almost a "Big deal.. of course... why not?" kinda attitude.

Do not take offense... none is intended. I know it is a big deal.

You see throughout the campaign I had focused more on Mr. Obama's age, his message, his poise, his intelligence, his eloquence, his background, and the positive and professional way he presented himself than I did on the color of his skin. I listened to his voice, watched how he spoke, heard his words, examined his reactions to the questions put to him and focused on his answers. I was impressed with him because of all I just mentioned. At first he was a mystery to me so I was suspicious, as one should be about politicians. But my suspicion came from the fact that I knew nothing about him. However, as the election progressed I was increasingly impressed with what I heard.

I was impressed because in the end Mr. Obama is definitely presidential material... not because he is definitely black presidential material. Know what I mean?

You have to understand, along with expecting to see a black president, I also thought in my lifetime I would see a woman take that office... I expect to see Hispanics, Asians, Native American men and women. When I see pictures on the news of a flock of congressmen/women I fully expect it to look like all the schools I attended in the Bay Area. I expect to see a multitude of faces, shapes, sizes, different colors of skin, different ages, and sexes. I am always disappointed when all I see is a wall of pasty grey testosterone in navy suits with sprinklings of different colored skin, and maybe even a little estrogen thrown in here and there. Even though I am disappointed, I always use those sprinklings to give myself hope for a more balanced picture in the future.

To be frank, I am surprised we have not had our first African-American president yet. But what had I done about it? How had I helped in any way to push this country to progress? I hate to admit I have been lazy in my "demand" for that door to be opened to people other than older white men. Lazy because of my generation I suppose. You see, the civil rights movement was a little before my time.

This was not something I grew up seeing on the T.V. or in the streets:

nor was this:

and be thankful you never had to be this courageous just to go to school:

I am not naive enough to believe that since the Civil Rights Movement all is hunky dorey. We still have a long long way to go in regards to relations between the many different groups of peoples in this country.

But isn't that the point?

The very American point? WE KEEP TRYING. We keep hoping. We keep progressing... maybe slowly.. maybe we fall backwards sometimes but we always get back up, get back on track, and try again. Americans an idealistic people. That is in the very core of our makeup as Americans and it has been from the beginning. We are always striving for a better life for all of us even though we sometimes fight with each other. Our hope and idealistic outlook is why so many have come here and continue to come.

We continue trying to live up to that whole Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights thing. Those Darn forefathers set a pretty high bar for us... but damn...

Didn't we just get one hell of a big step closer?

1823 Alexander Twilight the first African American to receive a bachelor's degree from an American college.

1845 Macon Bolling Allen was the first African American licensed to practice law in the United States and later became the first African American justice of the peace.

1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people of African descent who were slaves, and/or their descendants whether slaves or not could never be citizens of the United States. Therefore they had no standing to sue, and as chattel (property) they could not be taken from their owners without due process.

1862 The Emancipation Proclamation. declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863.

1865 the 13th Amendment abolished and prohibited slavery and secured a minimal degree of citizenship to former slaves.

1866 Cathay Williams the first African American woman to enlist. Williams enlisted in the United States Regular Army on 15 November 1866. She posed as a man under the pseudonym, William Cathay.

1870 Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first African American member of the senate, and therefore first African American member of Congress.

1876-1965 Jim Crow Laws. State and local laws that mandated segregation in all public facilities with a 'separate but equal' status for African American and other non-white racial groups.

1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of 'separate but equal'.

1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned earlier rulings going back to Plessy. The unanimous decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

1964 Civil Rights Act: Outlawed racial segregation in schools, public places, and employment. The bill was introduced by President John F. Kennedy in his civil rights speech of June 11, 1963.

1965 The National Voting Rights Act: Prohibited states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.

1968 Shirley Chisholm the first African-American woman elected to Congress.

1990 Barack Obama elected the first African- American president of the Harvard Law Review

2009 Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wild Kingdom

It all started out innocently enough.
But then... doesn't it always?

There was a bit of a break in the cold today and we had been painting so I thought I would take the dogs out, and take some pictures. David had noticed froggy from the window and how even though he was sitting on a big boulder he has been slowly disappearing. Now all that can be seen is his eye which is peaking out towards the lake.

It was a nice enough afternoon outside that Cosmo the Magnificent came out without his coat so that he could make pee-sicles, and of course Delta had to watch over him since we had left the indoor land of Cosmo the Tyrant and he was now in her outdoor kingdom... she is the boss here.

If you look way down there almost to the woodpile there is Cosmo up to his own business and then he trudged back up to the house in the snow that is deeper than he is tall.

Then, all of a sudden...

I could hear Marlin Perkin's voice because Delta decided to get all Wild Kingdom right before my eyes... and camera. Marlin was talking about how in even the stark areas of the earth wildlife can flourish because they adapt, improvise, and overcome. You know... like the Marines.

Do you remember that show? We used to watch it every week. It came on either right before or after a Disney short on t.v. and I could remember sitting with my family watching it. It was quite awhile ago and I am pretty foggy on some of the shows so I dunno how much my sisters remember but I used to love it.

As you will see, Delta suddenly lost interest in guarding Cosmo when she heard some voles... (small mice like creatures... really they are just little mice with long noses) Yes, I said heard them under I dunno how much snow... check this out and as Marlin says, "hold on to your lunch if you don't like to watch nature in action." Well, he never actually said that but you get my drift. Here are a couple short clips of the action. There are three clips... after each one is over just hit the back button to return here and then scroll on down to the next. They are very short.

From Movies

From Movies

This next one is my favorite. David and I were just watching a show the other night about polar bears and the way they hunt. Those creatures (that can get over 1500 lbs) can smell seals nearly 1 mile away and buried 3 feet under the snow. These huge creatures sniff out a seal, listen for movement while standing soooooo still and then in an instant raise themselves up on their back legs and smash through the ice to yank out the seals.

Now... look at Delta:

From Movies

Oh my. She is licking her chops!
Yikes look at the teeny pink feet all splayed out by the teeny tail there.
I bet that was a rude surprise poor little thing!

Now for some indoor sports.

No not that kind.

If it was that kind this would be the point where you would enter your credit card information.

We started painting in the living room. Sheesh.
Here is a shot standing near the south window wall back towards kitchen.
The paint is literally still wet here:

Below is another from the same direction but towards the mudroom and front door.
You can kinda see the flow of color here... olive to yellow to terra cotta:

From the kitchen back into the living room:

Down the stairs...
Hmmm. I hope she does not think I look like a vole:

And here is a couple shots of kitchen:

and then from the kitchen into the russet colored bathroom.
Just ignore the morning prep stuff in there I had not put it away yet.
Just wanted to show you that yellowy-creamy color and the russet.
Just ignore the spackle and plaster tape. Heh.

Anyway... we are keeping busy and it was nice to get out for a bit and not have to go right back in. There is a cold snap coming.. now with our luck THAT forecast will come true! -20 with a windchill of -40! Great.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Start it off right!

Happy New Year to all of you!
Hope it all went well for everyone!
Being party animals we stayed up until almost 10pm,
called it good, and climbed into bed.

As far as New Year’s traditions… we don’t have as many of those as we do for Christmas. Also, instead of traditions, they seem to be more like superstitions… and instead of several I have narrowed it down to well... pretty much one. That is the Hoppin’ John.

You see.. you simply must eat some Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day as it is supposed to bring you good luck in the coming year, in particular financial good luck.

That first picture was the Hoppin' John that we actually ate… the other ones I found elsewhere were just so pretty I had to add them. I need to work on my food pictures. These others are very gourmet looking for old fashioned southern cooking. And then check this one out!

Wowee!! Hoppin' John Stuffed Tomatoes!
Well, that is what it says but, well, I don't see any black eyed peas
sticking out of there but it is a great idea.

Hoppin’ John traditionally as far as I understand includes of course, black eyed peas and a ham hock. Yum. However, David is not much into the ham hock thing so I had to improvise a little. I had previously cooked a pork loin roast thingy to shred for other recipes. You see when there is a sale, I buy a larger pork roast and then shred it for BBQ sandwiches, Posole, or whatever else I can think to put it in, I cook the pork in the crockpot with only a small amount of liquid smoke (barely a capful… might measure out to be just a few drops actually), black pepper, and maybe garlic powder. Those are the only seasonings I put on it. I put the crockpot on low until the meat practically falls apart, and it turns out almost like kaluha pig. It's just not buried in the ground and served up by a bunch of pacific island men…

Hmm.. I dunno what happened there I was looking for a photo of kalua piggie.
Got sidetracked somehow for some reason.

Anyway the crockpot makes the pork very succulent and faintly smokey. I DO NOT add salt during the cooking process. I can add salt later to taste if necessary but the smoke flavoring makes it seem salty on it’s own. Anyway, the pork roast had a smokey flavor so I substituted that for the ham hock, tossed it into the black eyed pea mixture. Dished it up over rice, and it was just fine. Tasty even.

As I mentioned above, I was not super happy with my Hoppin’ John picture so I went surfing. I looked around the internet for information about good luck superstitions surrounding New Year’s Day and found out that in some places you are supposed to wear yellow underwear for good luck on New Year ’s Day.

That’s a new one on me; well actually not on me... and I wonder how that one got started.

These folks would have been pretty darn lucky had they worn the panties in the right area… I hope their good luck spell does not work backasswards now since that was how they wore those particular garments. I mean you are supposed to hang horseshoes in the right direction or the luck runs out... you are supposed to put furniture in the right spots in your home for Fung Shui or the chi won't flow right and neither will your luck. I dunno what may happen to these folks if their yellow panty spell backfires... Let's hope for their sake it does not matter.

Speaking of hexing, I did not find out about this yellow underwear custom until after New Year’s Day had already passed. I hope I did not jinx myself because I was sporting my customary winter red and not yellow on Thursday.

I have been pretty busy lately as the Postmaster broke her leg. Another PMR from a post office down the road and I have been covering for her while she is gone. My postmaster slipped on the ice and the result of that is a spiral fracture and all the tendon, ligament, stuff connecting her foot to her leg are all torn up. Ouch. Dang. I may be busy but not too busy for wandering around in the snow once in awhile with the beasts. For the most part they seem to be adapting well. Delta has a nice fur coat as it is and even Cosmo the Magnificent has decided to go the hobbit route and let the fur grow on his feet. Check out that back foot in particular!

Delta and I had an interesting discovery the other day.
It seems we are not alone when we go out to the wood pile.

Those are mine and Delta's footprints on the patio... along with someone else's teeny tiny feet.
Hmm. Michigan mice are tough little mice aren't they?
However, not as tough as Delta... when she finds them she pounces on them with her big ole hooves and then eats them after tossing them around a bit.
I will spare you those photos.

Speaking of ice… we keep getting all these winter storm warnings and we see the satellite pictures of these huge storms coming to dump feet of snow on us… then the day comes and goes and nothing. Well, not nothing. We get a few inches here and there, but certainly not the blizzard we expected. Even Carl the weatherman the other day said, “This is it... It is coming get ready!” But it never arrived. Our little town must be in it’s own little weather pocket.

Once again with the superstitions… I have not wanted to say too much about not waking up to 3 feet of snow because if I say it too much the hex will be on and sure enough. We won’t be able to get the door open. Knock on wood, salt over shoulder, lucky penny, horseshoe over the door...

Delta loves the snow. I really don’t mind it either. Cosmo the Magnificent tip-toes around in his fancy orange glowing coat and hobbit feet, and then there is David…

I am starting to think he needs one of those light visors like people in Alaska, Washington, and the Scandinavian countries use… not because he is depressed but because he is restless.

While we were sitting in our chairs, looking out over our gorgeous wintery lake view, and listening to Carl the weatherman the other morning David burst out, “Dammet! More snow!”

I blinked… And then slowly turned my head to look at this Midwestern raised, Pacific Northwest, Southern and Northern California, world traveling gypsy man and said… “Um. Honey? It's January in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. You knew it was going to be snowy here before we moved… right?”

He smiled that smile I love and then just chuckled at himself. While he may have laughed, we both know that he has run out of big projects and is starting to find himself spinning as to what is next. Well, maybe I should not put it that way because we know what will probably be next as we have discussed it all at length. It just seems the time frame is moving up a bit because he is a man who likes a challenge and well… building the house was a challenge. It was something he had never done before, but to put it bluntly… it’s built.

So while we are just generally taking some time to relax, regroup, and recharge the batteries, he is beginning to want to stretch his wings again and it may just be the perfect time to participate in some of the different kinds of opportunities that seem to keep knocking on our door. One can only turn them down so many times before they stop knocking. So… while there has not been change in our plans, it only appears that we may be opening the door to one of those new opportunities sooner than later. Meanwhile, he will keep plugging away at the smaller projects he has on his list.

Good thing we had that Hoppin’ John.

As for me? For now I am just chillin’.
Heh heh. Literally.

I am soaking up this winter weather and enjoying ever bit of it.
Who knows what is coming down the road next. Pretty exciting innit?

And finally, a sunset... courtesy of the upper peninsula in Michigan.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin