birds of a feather…flock together

A post written by Candice at http://wrygrass.com/2013/08/28/fire-frenzy-and-calmness-in-a-fur-coat/ had me laughing…and thinking I’d found a soul sister.

Could it be that there’s another woman out there who lacks common sense? I thought for sure I was the only one. I’ve never admitted it before, but reading about Candace’s behavior in the face of a crisis empowered me to speak up. Until now, only those nearest and dearest to me knew the truth. At least…I hope so.

“Common sense” according to Webster’s is “sound practical judgement; normal native intelligence.”Well, I’ve never been practical and at times I’ve jokingly told my daughter that I was “aby-normal.”

Cover of "Young Frankenstein [Blu-ray]"

If you’ve never seen “Young Frankenstein,” you should. When Gene Wilder asks his hunchback sidekick, Marty Feldman, whose brain he got for Frankenstein, Feldman replies “Aby someone.” Wilder asks “Aby who?” To which Felman says “Aby Normal.” I loved that line and have since borrowed it. 

Now where was I? Oh, yes. I was talking about Candice and I being…birds of a feather…or chickens with their heads cut off…or Chicken Little running around crying “The earth is falling! The earth is falling!”

Like Candice, I had a run-in with my oven.

When I was in my late 20s living on Long Island with my hubby, I decided to take a sick day from work to bake up a Christmas gift for some friends. At the time I was heavily into making, and eating, chex mix snacks. Still in my flannel nightgown, I put my first batch into the oven and wandered off. Not long after, the smoke alarm started going off. Hurrying back to my teeny-tiny kitchen I was alarmed at the sight of a fire in the oven. In a state of panic I reached for the phone and dialed my husband at his office…in NYC.  I stood out in the small, enclosed foyer talking to him as the fire continued to burn. Ever the practical one he told me to call 911 and get out of the house. I did as I was told, feeling slightly foolish standing in my snow-covered front yard with the phone cord stretched to the max as I dialed for help.

In no time the fire engines arrived…two, I think…with firefighters hanging off the sides and backs of the trucks. Of course the neighborhood was alerted by the sirens blasting, as if calling one and all to bear witness to my stupidity. I’m sure I wanted to find the closest mole hole and crawl inside with my heretofore sworn enemy…Mr. Mole himself.

The firemen stormed into the house, hatchets and fire hose in hand.  Soon one of them emerged flinging my baking pan onto the lawn. All that remained of the chex mix was a charred blob. Meanwhile, the windows and doors of the house were thrown open to allow the billowing smoke to escape. I don’t recall if any water was used. I don’t think so. But with the passing of time I can only recall what I did…and didn’t do.

While I know this wasn’t the first time I pulled a humdinger of a boo-boo, it was the first of many, many stories my husband has loved retelling. Thank goodness he has a funny bone that runs the length of his body. If not, my marriage might not have lasted as long as it has…42 years.

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...

Have you a “Chicken Little” story of your own to tell? Or are you…

…the one with the common sense?…

………hugmamma. 

…a new day…

(The following post was written earlier…)

My daughter’s middle name…Kehaulani  is Hawaiian for “morning dew.” Like drops of water clinging softly to a flower…my days begin with thoughts of my beloved daughter. 

Dew Drops

Today was no different, except for the fact that it was unlike any other…for both the Royal Family…and our family.

Delicate tutus will no longer grace my daughter’s lithe body. With pointe shoes in hand she is exiting stage right…a ballerina, and re-entering stage left…a contemporary dancer

While ballet companies are updating their repertoire to include non-classical pieces, they continue to make the bulk of their earnings from the likes of Romeo and Juliette, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Cinderella.

What ballerina doesn’t dream of dancing the lead in these epic tales of romance and drama? But as we all know the fairy tale ending is that only one lucky princess gets the prince. The company’s remaining women dance supporting roles.

While never the leading lady, my daughter has done her share of awesome dancing. She was especially honored to dance wonderful parts in pieces by guesting choreographers who hand-picked their dancers from among the company members. It became increasingly apparent to her, and others, that she was a natural in contemporary dance

Dancer Abby Silva Gavezzoli leads a master cla...

I had the rare opportunity to watch my daughter in dance classes while visiting NYC recently. She spent 6 weeks taking master classes at STEPS ON BROADWAY this summer.

Master classes are not for the novice…or the faint of heart or mind. They are normally taught by dance notables. As an added bonus, my daughter’s instructors were directors of small and large contemporary dance companies. She experienced their high expectations first hand, while sizing up the competition. 

Naturally I’m prejudiced, but my daughter was among the handful of dancers who stood out in each class.

Cheshire Cat

Among my daughter’s fans were a couple of moms who also observed classes in which their daughters were dancing. One remarked to the other “That girl in the purple tank top is an amazing dancer.” To which her companion replied “I know. I’ve been watching her all week.” Smiling like the Cheshire cat in “Alice in Wonderland,” I didn’t let on that it was my daughter about whom they were speaking.

The Russian woman who taught the daily ballet class my daughter took, praised and complimented her. The instructor loved having such a beautiful dancer in her class. Instructors in other classes made similar observations. Four were company directors who asked my daughter to keep in touch, a couple even asking that she send her resume and invited her to take class with their companies.

The future looks bright and promising.

My daughter is finalizing a Fall gig with a choreographer she greatly admires. In August she will audition to dance in a Broadway remake of “An American in Paris,” set to run during 2014-2015. And then, of course, she will be pursuing a dialogue with those artistic directors who thought she might be a good addition to their companies.

At 27 with 11 years of professional ballet experience to her credit, my daughter is confidently heading toward a new horizon in her career as a dancer. 

I wish Catherine and William and their royal son…all the love with which my husband, daughter and me have been blest.

babies are like dew drops…welcomimg the dawn of a bright, new day…

A drop of dew cupped in the leaf of the common...

………hugmamma. 

cut from the same cloth…

Someone paid me the nicest compliment early this morning and literally made my day.

The unexpected bouquet of fragrant words was sent me by a perfect stranger…Don.

After the slew of emails we recently exchanged, I can’t really call him a stranger. I can, however, call him perfect…a perfect host.

English: Times Square

English: Times Square (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our family has decided to spend some time in The Big Apple this summer.

Rather than pay exorbitant hotel prices, we’re renting Don’s vacation hideaway. The decision to do so was not lightly made. But then again I never, ever do anything…lightly.

I researched all the angles as though my life depended upon it, or at the very least, as though I were aiming for an A+ on a college term paper.

For every answer Don gave me, I had at least 3 more questions. We were burning up the internet, with me splitting hairs over every minute detail.

Don was either desperate for my business or Heaven help him…he actually liked me! And that’s when he let slip those priceless words.

“You remind me of my mother, and that’s not a bad thing.”

I adopted the man on the spot! Well…not until he admitted that he was younger than me…49 to my soon-to-be 64.

The moral of the story? Be yourself. Someone might just like you that way. And if not? It’s got nothing to do with you. It’s their perception that’s skewed. You’re fine…just the way you are.

…i know i am…my husband and daughter told me so…but even if they didn’t…

…i’m just fine…

………hugmamma.

NYC…underwater

 

New York City

New York City (Photo credit: kaysha)I worked in NYC for nearly a decade, from the 70’s to the 80’s, and lived on the east side for almost a year.

It’s hard for me to fathom The Big Apple coming to a screeching halt. Can anyone recall the last time NYC was brought to its knees?

The Great Depression?

After Sandy takes her leave…how long before New Yorkers are…up and running?

…my thoughts and prayers…are with them…

………hugmamma.

say what?…eat…what???

Offal Tacos

From time to time I’ll post an article of interest from The Wall Street Journal. Well, this is one of those times. I couldn’t regurgitate it if I tried. And believe me…I don’t want to try.

You might be more the gourmand than moi. Read on…

Smalahove

Smalahove (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Offal Tale: For This Club, Everything Is on the Menu
In New York City, ‘Innard Circle’ Samples Wide Range of Fare; ‘Always Terrific
by Spencer Jakab

     You’ll never be a member of the Innard Circle if the likes of brains in black butter, Uzbek boiled spleen or Fujianese pig heart make you squirm.
     Since 1999, an intrepid band of New York City foodies has been meeting about once a month to indulge their penchant for “nose to tail eating” in a city that provides great opportunity to do so. The city’s thousands of ethnic restaurants are constantly refreshed by new waves of immigrants, many of whose cultures serve animal parts that most Americans wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot fork.
     For the organ-lovers though, what really gets their goat–or pig or sheep or rabbit–is when a restaurant is out of a delicacy they traveled across town to sample.
     “I mean really, who eats bull’s penis before 7:00 p.m.? complained Bobby Ghosh at a May meeting, recounting a recent trip to a northern Chinese restaurant in Queens.
     They had to settle for the animal’s somewhat chewy testicles and a dish on the menu called “Big Buckstraps Paddywack.” The waitress, who only spoke Mandarin, pointed energetically to her diaphragm when asked what they were eating. Mr. Ghosh said. That was as close as the group got to discerning what part of the animal it was.
     It was tough but tasty, they say.
     Mr. Ghosh, originally from Bengal in northeastern India, was Time Magazine‘s Baghdad bureau chief for five years and worked in Hong Kong–both places where he sampled a wide range of food. Always seeking variety, different types of meat began to taste more or less the same to him.
     “But a camel’s eyeball is way different from a goat’s eyeball,” he said.
     Digging in to a five-course meal of organ meats specially prepared for the group by Umbrian chef Sandro Fioriti at his Upper East Side eatery Sandro’s, journalist Daniel Okrent, one of the group’s founders, tries to explain what attracts him to innards.
     “Growing up, I was a very picky eater,” he said. But his wife Becky, a food critic and a member, introduced him to what’s known as the “fifth quarter” of the animal and he’s never looked back.
     “There’s no question there’s an element of showing off, but it’s great food,” he said, between bites of brain, kidney, intestines and sweetbreads with polenta.
     Though he has had many memorable meals with the group in New York–and who wouldn’t remember the likes of “crispy colorectal,” North Korean jellied tripe or a central Asian organ melange called “geez-beez”–he says the pinnacle of his offal-eating days came in the 1990’s during a trip to Italy. An old restaurant near Rome’s stockyards served him rigatoni alla pajata–the intestines of a freshly-slaughtered nursing calf still containing the curdled milk of its mother.
     “Does that gross you out?” asked Melissa Easton, an industrial designer and the group’s unofficial “organ”-izer.
     A shrug brings a nod of approval, as if having passed a squeamishness test. Many haven’t.
     “We’ve had people join us for a single meal and never come back, without explanation,” Ms. Easton said. “There’s a certain kind of discomfort that registers on their face when they realize what they’ve gotten into.”
     No wonder the late Calvin Schwabe’s 1979 book on Americans’ disdain for foods that he called “cheap, nutritious and good to eat” is titled

Cover of

Cover of Unmentionable Cuisine

Unmentionable Cuisine.” He chalked it up to “prejudice or ignorance.”
     It is no accident that the Innard Circle, which has about a dozen steady members, isn’t only a well-traveled group but, with journalists, authors and a book publisher, a well-read one too. After all, the most famous organ-eater of all time is the character Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s  novel Ulysses. Bloom “ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes.”
     Ms. Easton, like most members, struggles to come up with the oddest thing she has eatern because it all seems normal to her and usually delicious. The best thing she has had is seared calf liver sashimi at a Japanese place in the West Village.
     Jeannette Seaver, a publisher and author of four cookbooks, joined the group a decade ago because of her love for her native French food.
     “Our cuisine offers many succulent dishes made of innards, so it seemed right for me to be part of the group,” she says. “The food is daring, challenging at times, but always terrific.”
     The group, which is also known as Organ Grinders, finds plenty of humor in the foods. Fond of puns, the word “offal” is particularly ripe for abuse. The word’s English etymology speaks volumes about Anglo-Saxon disdain for organs. With origins in the 14th century, it is thought to refer to the “off-fall” from the butcher’s block, meaning the less desirable parts.
     Some members’ attraction to offal stems from their disdain for Western squeamishness and wastefulness.
     “This isn’t weird–it’s perfectly normal for lots of people around the world,” said criminologist Leonid Lantsman between mouthfuls of spicy duck tongue and braised goose intestine at a June meeting of the club at Chinatown eatery Rong Hang. “If more people ate entrails and offal then we wouldn’t waste so much food.”
     The seven-course meal began with duck kidney, before moving on to more hard-core offerings: beef large intestine in Fujianese red wine paste and pig stomach. The somewhat lighter frog’s legs and pig skin hot and sour soup followed and then gave way to a couple of exotic but non-organ offerings.
     “Watch out everyone–there’s no offal in this one!” joked Robert Sietsema, a food critic at the Village Voice, as a seafood dish was placed on the table.
     The one organ the group has yet to sample, despite it being a delicacy for some ethnic groups, is uterus.
     “I guess it’s more of a home-cooked thing,” said Ms. Easton.
     But she would eat it in a heartbeat.
     “Am I missing some part of my brain–the part that screams revulsion? Perhaps. In fact, very likely.”

 

Roast Pork and offal on rice AUD11.50 - City B...

Roast Pork and offal on rice AUD11.50 – City BBQ 鸿运 (Photo credit: avlxyz)

Now I ask you…aren’t you just going to rush right out and get yourself…some innards?

Growing up on the island of Maui, and being of Hawaiian descent, I did partake of ancestral foods at festive celebrations known as…luaus. At the time I was so caught up in the deliciousness of things our family did not regularly eat, largely owing to our near-impoverished status.  A greenish, pea soup looking dish was pretty tasty, until I learned it was made from pig’s intestines. Blood sausage…was just that. I never cottoned to it.

My mom, a native Hawaiian, drooled  over tripe stew, pig’s feet, turtle soup, taro patch snails, sea urchin…and who knows what else. I’m certain my father, of Chinese ancestry, had his peculiar tastes as well. Somehow their taste buds never made it down to me…their 9th child together.

…can’t say i’m sorry…that i feel i missed out or something…   😦

………hugmamma.

new york cynicism

New York City

Image by kaysha via Flickr

At the risk of being called a cynic by my husband, and you, I must confess to being one. Can I at least blame it on having lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade?

Just before he went to bed, I spoke with my husband about my experience with Twitter today. Half asleep since it was almost midnight, I expected his eyes to grow bigger by the minute as my tale unfolded. Instead, tiny wrinkles formed at the corners of his eyes. I’m sure he delighted in telling me that I’d made the mistake, and that the brouhaha of which I posted earlier was another one of my lapses into New York cynicism.

I’d forgotten that I’d opened my Twitter account using my husband’s email address. Why, I don’t recall and neither could he. No wonder my email address and password didn’t work. Duh?!? So there! I admit to my egregious mistake, and may Twitter and Helah Chester @helahcobtendy forgive my trespasses. Mea culpa! Mea culpa!

Thank goodness my husband and I have funny bones. We had a good laugh, albeit at my expense.

New York City

Image by kaysha via Flickr

…you can stop laughing now…hugmamma. 

and the award goes to…

Comcast Corporate Customer Service!!! Yessir, they’ve done it again. Just as I’d done months ago (check my winter month archives), I sent an email off to my buddy Mark Casem at we_can_help@Comcast.com, this time asking for information regarding my daughter’s cable service. She was under the impression that because she was moving from one apartment to another, that there might be a promotion offering a discount of some sort. I wasn’t so certain. So she called her local Comcast, first as a current customer, and then, upon my husband’s advice, as a prospective one. In both cases, my daughter was treated as though she were engaged in the sidewalk scam, the shell game.” The guy shows you a pebble and directs you to watch it as he moves it from under one cup, to another, then another. After doing this a few times, the game ends with you selecting the  cup under which the pebble finally came to rest. Our family’s not the type to engage in mind games. We prefer to deal truthfully. Of course there are times when you’ve got to strategize. That’s code for confrontation…without being confrontational. Not my cup of tea. But hey! That’s life. If we have to…then bring it on.

Unable to decide whether she should simply transfer at the same rate she’d been paying, or disconnecting and trying for a better rate, my daughter pondered her options. With the clock ticking towards 6/28, tomorrow, when Comcast was scheduled to cut off her service, I told her I’d write headquarters to see if they were aware of anything that might help persuade my daughter one way or the other. My mantra continues to be “It never hurts to ask. All they can do is say no. It’s nothing personal, after all they don’t know me from Eve.” Of course I may not like their answer, but I can always opt out and go elsewhere. Not easy, for sure. But again, that’s life.

Mark Casem didn’t reply to my email, but a Michael Cardone did. He asked me to forward my daughter’s account number (telephone number) and her contact number, which I did. The next day my daughter received a confusing voice mail. Because I’d been one digit off in her account number, Comcast headquarters asked the local Comcast to call a Mr. Collins about his query. Of course my daughter felt the call had been misdirected, but when another voice mail was left, she decided to call the local rep back. 

Customer Service

Image by RW PhotoBug via Flickr

Happily, my daughter indicated the Comcast rep couldn’t have been nicer, and offered my daughter the same deal she received when she moved to her old apartment 4 1/2 years ago, $99/month for all three services, phone, internet and TV, for an entire year!!! Normally the package costs $160 monthly. Satisfied, my daughter decided to take the offer.

It’s been my experience that local Comcast stations aren’t as diligent about customer service as the corporate office. I suppose as with any operation, the further afield one gets from headquarters, the less “corporate” the mentality. Rules have a way of becoming more localized, perhaps to suit the surrounding population. Dealings with our local rep here are a whole lot better than when I lived with my daughter for a couple of years in Atlanta. Service there was “hit or miss.” My feeling now is if I can’t beat them at their own game, I’ll just call out the big guns…Comcast Corporate Customer Service.   

I will always be grateful for having lived and worked in NYC. I learned to speak up rather than always hold my tongue; try very hard not to take things personally; and celebrate the small things… for therein lie our biggest accomplishments. I think my daughter’s becoming New York savvy. 

Comcast Building

Image via Wikipedia

…another win…for david and his slingshot…hugmamma. 

 

in the aftermath…#1

President Obama confirms death of Osama bin Laden

Just as the media was rife with coverage of the royal wedding, so now the spinmeisters are  squeezing every last bit of life out of the latest news, Osama bin Laden’s demise. All the details have been revealed and recycled ad nauseum. So too have the endless probing questions put forth by the journalists. It’s made me realize that they’re just doing their jobs, as we all are, prince and princesses, presidents, housewives, reporters. So rather than regurgitate the known facts, I prefer to share some insightful opinions from different perspectives.

Obama’s Finest Hour
by Bret Stephens

There was only one discordant note in Barack Obama’s otherwise masterly speech Sunday night announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden. It came when the president invoked the word “justice” to describe what had just been done to the architect of 9/11.

It wasn’t quite the word he was looking for. But actions speak louder than words.

Justice as we in the West have come to know it, requires due process. It takes place in a courtroom under the supervision of a judge. Prosecutors must prove their case; defendants are entitled to a competent defense; rules of evidence and procedure must scrupulously be followed. A jury must render its verdict. Punishment can be neither cruel nor unusual.

Khalid_Sheikh_Mohammed

Image via Wikipedia

This is the sort of justice the hapless Attorney General Eric Holder had in mind when he sought to have bin Laden’s operational lieutenant, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, tried in a civilian Manhattan courthouse. The people of New York City revolted. KSM will now get better than he deserves in a military tribunal.

As for bin Laden, what was meted out to him was vengeance. Vengeance pure and simple, sweet and sound. Vengeance cathartic, uplifting, necessary and right. Got a problem with that?

I don’t. Nor did the people who poured into the streets Sunday night to cheer outside the White House, or the crowd I saw Monday morning as I walked the perimeter of Ground Zero.

“Why does everyone root for the avenger in feature films?” asks my friend Thane Rosenbaum, who teaches law at Fordham and is writing a book about revenge. “Is it because people are immoral in the dark, or is it because we all realize that the avenger’s quest and duty is righteous and true?”

Thane’s point isn’t that vengeance is better than justice. It’s that there can be no true justice without vengeance. Oddly enough, this is something Barack Obama, Chicago liberal, seems to better grasp than George W. Bush, Texas cowboy.

The former president was fond of dilating on the point, as he put it just after 9/11, that “ours is a nation that does not seek revenge, but we do seek justice.” What on Earth did that mean? Of course we sought revenge. “Ridding the world of evil,” Mr. Bush’s other oft-stated ambition, was nonsense if we didn’t make a credible go of ridding the world of the very specific evil named Osama bin Laden.

For all of Mr. Bush’s successes–and yes, there were a few, including the vengeance served that other specific evil known as Saddam Hussein and those Gitmo interrogations that yielded bin Laden’s location–you can trace the decline of his presidency from the moment he said, in March 2002, that “I really don’t care (where bin Laden is). It’s not that important.

Outside of White House after death of Osama bi...

Wrong. It was of the essence. Americans didn’t merely want to be secured against another attack–an achievement experienced only in the absence of fresh outrages and appreciated only in hindsight. Americans wanted vengeance. It’s what they had wanted after Pearl Harbor, too: what took the Marines up Mt. Suribach, the Rangers up Point du Hoc. Revenge is a glue that holds a fractious nation together in the service of a great and arduous cause.

Mr. Obama, for all his talk of justice, understands this. Or, in the education that is the presidency, he has come to understand it. Maybe it’s true, as his critics allege, that his steady focus on finding bin Laden was done for the sake of declaring victory in the war on terror so that he could start rolling up America’s commitments in Afghanistan. If this is his “Mission Accomplished” moment, he will come to regret it.

But I doubt Mr. Obama is that dumb. Nor is there any reason not to take him at his word when he said Sunday that bin Laden’s death “does not mark the end of our effort.” Osama is dead; his franchisees carry on. Count on a self-styled bin Laden Martyrs’ Brigade to take credit for whatever terrorist atrocity comes next.

But even if it does, it will lack the sinister potency of previous attacks. The air of mystery that sustained al Quaeda all the way through Sunday night has finally been laid bare, and it looks like an ugly house that can be located in seconds on Google Maps.

Here is something that Mr. Obama, more than most Western leaders, deeply understands: Symbolism matters. It matters that the ultimate symbol of Islamist rage did not wear a ring of invisibility. It matters that he was taken out not by a laser-guided bomb, but by American fighting men whose names we may someday know. It matters that the story of 9/11 has been brought full circle, even as the fight against terrorists carries on.

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

There’s been a whiff of sour grapes in some of the right-wing commentary about the president’s speech. Too much emphasis on the first-person pronoun, not enough credit to President Bush, and so on. It’s unbecoming. If ever there was a doubt about just how American Mr. Obama is, Sunday’s raid eliminates it better than any long-form birth certificate. This was his finest hour. It’s for the rest of us, avenged at long last, to rejoice.

(Write to bstephens@wsj.com)

 

superheros…come to life?!?

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have been singled out for protection by real superheroes, not the make-believe ones of comic book fame. In its February 25, 2011 edition, The Wall Street Journal carried an article entitled “Bam! Pow! Superhero Groups Clash In an Epic Battle of Good vs. Good.” I knew I wanted to share this story so I added it to a stack of other articles I’ve been collecting.

I was mystified by the thought that real people would risk their self-esteem, not to mention their lives, wandering the streets of Seattle and Portland, bedecked in costumes that would surely have citizens chuckling, if not laughing out loud. Phoenix Jones will appear at Crypticon May 29thPhoenix Jones, a 22-yearold-day care worker, changes into his black-and-gold outfit at night, to walk Seattle attempting to “harass drug dealers and break up street fights.” This, it seems, is not as big  a deal to Jones as having to deal with “his latest nemeses: members of the ‘Real Life Superhero (RLSH) movement.’ ” So what’s the beef? Evidently they don’t like Jones’ confrontational style, or rather they don’t like that he’s getting all the publicity because of it.

World-wide RLSHers include grown men posing as Zetaman, Knight Owl, Dark Guardian and Mr. Raven Blade. Trying to convince the communities in which they serve that they’re the “real deal,” not geeky comic-book charachters, they feel their efforts are compromised by Jones’ physical approach. They prefer to carry out charitable works like delivering food to the homeless, rather than bring attention to themselves personally. They want to be “a force for good in the world,” and as such do not give out their names.

Real Life Superheroes, who seem to favor masks and dark clothing–sometimes emblazoned with homemade logos (like the Superman “S”)–exist in pockets all over the world. Some like Knight Owl and Thanatos, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, typically focus on charitable activities.

Others, such as New York’s Dark Guardian, patrol areas known for drug activity–a bit like the city’s old subway-riding Guardian Angels. Dark Guardian shines lights and takes videos to try to deter crime nonviolently, and he makes emergency calls to 911.

“Mostly, they’re relatively normal people trying to help out and have a little fun along the way,” says Tea Krulos, a Milwaukee writer working on a book about them.

Phoenix Jones, on the other hand, interjects himself into situations.

A mixed martial-arts fighter, he broke his nose last month while breaking up a fight, and he says he has been shot and stabbed, too. He often travels with a posse, sometimes carries a Taser nightstick and tear gas, and repeatedly has himself been mistaken for a criminal.

On a particular Friday evening Jones, accompanied by 3 men, Buster Doe, Pitch Black and Ski Man, a superhero-in-training, and a female, Blue Sparrow, walked Seattle’s streets. Obliging night spot patrons, Jones posed for photos outside the establishments but admitted that it “distracts me from my mission.” Turning to the task at hand, he “chastised a man for yelling at a downtrodden passerby. ‘Let’s keep it cool; let’s all have a good night,’ he said to the man, who quickly backed down. ” To those hanging out in areas frequented by drug dealers Jones remarked ” ‘Stay safe tonight,’ he said. ‘Stay warm.’ ” One thing was clear when he and his posse couldn’t catch a car driven by a suspected DUI, their inability to fly was a definite disadvantage. Jones admits to feeling foolish in his superhero get-up when he does little in the way of crime-fighting.

The EYE

While Seattle Police Detective Mark Jamieson congratulates the efforts of citizens getting involved, he is concerned about situations going awry. ” ‘Our concern is that if it goes badly, then we wind up getting called anyway, and we may get additional victims.’ ” Zetaman, a Portland superhero, feels similarly. After an evening of late-night patrolling in Seattle by both Jones’ group, the Rain City Superheroes, and Zetaman’s Real Life Superheroes, the leaders and their groups have gone their separate ways for good. Jones makes his position clear when he says ” ‘I don’t see the point in handing sandwiches to homeless people in areas in which the homeless are getting abused, attacked, harassed by drug dealers.’ ” And Zetaman charges back with ” ‘(A)ll of us are afraid of one day someone is going to get killed and it’ll be all over. … I don’t need this kind of macho c_ in my life and I don’t need to prove myself to anyone, least of all to Phoenix Jones and his Rain City Superhero Movement.’ ” Superhero Knight Owl makes a good point when he said ‘We’re not one giant family, … After all, we’re a colorful collection of individuals. We’re superheroes.’ “

how I wish superheros were real.

 

heavens to mergatroid!!!…………real life?…………or reality show gone amok?!?
………………………….hugmamma.

“the daughter’s walk”…from spokane to nyc

WordPress site, jeanne’s blog, introduced me to Blogging For Books. In exchange for free books from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group, bloggers are asked to review them when done reading.

The Daughter's Walk: A NovelNot normally a reader of fiction, non-fiction being more my speed, this book caught my attention since it’s based upon the life of a real woman who lived in the Spokane area of Washington State, where I reside. Moreover, she is of Norwegian descent. My husband’s boss hails from Norway, and we’ve traveled to that country, so I had an inkling about its heritage, but wanted to learn more. The most intriguing thing aboutThe Daughter’s Walk,  however, is the walk itself. Mother and daughter trekked from Spokane to New York City to raise money to save the family farm. They had entered a challenge in support of the ladies suffragette movement, which would pay $10,000 to whomever won.

So The Daughter’s Walk  had 3 very persuasive ingredients which drew me in. It occurred in my own backyard, so to speak; it involved a culture with which I wanted to become more familiar; and undertaking the challenge was a phenomenal feat for women. It helped that I had also lived and worked in NYC, because I could visualize the ordeal and felt it an impossibility for 2 lone, female travelers to undertake.

Author Jane Kirkpatrick writes fluidly, so the read was relatively easy. In 385 pages she managed to cover quite a bit of the history of the Estby family, as told from the viewpoint of the heroine, Clara Estby. I must admit I’d not realized that the story was based upon real people and real occurrences. I probably picked up the book, turned to the first page, and started reading. I don’t tend to study the whys and wherefores, unless it’s a book for which I’m passionate to know every single detail, like a favorite person’s biography.

It’s probably just as well that I read Kirkpatrick’s book as pure fiction, because I was simply captivated to see it unfold as an imaginary piece. I was amazed at the details she included such as those with which Clara needed to educate herself to run a furrier business. Growing up in Hawaii, skinning animals for their luxurious pelts is totally foreign to me. Hence my captivation that a young woman would so involve herself.

Clara’s family background also touched a chord in me, since I’m the youngest of 9 who grew up without a father since he died when I was one. You’ll have to read the book yourself to see where she and I might have something in common. Suffice it to say, our childhoods weren’t normal, especially in relating to our siblings. Our moms also had their own burdens which weighed heavily upon those around them. Again I think Clara and I bore a resemblance in that we were extra sensitive to our mothers’ struggles to be independent, without success.

As expected, the walk from Spokane to NYC was not something any woman could undertake without consequences. I felt the author skimmed the surface of that entire experience. I thought mother and daughter would surely encounter so much more in the way of bad things happening, not that they hopped, skipped and jumped across the continent. But I thought they got off relatively unscathed. Except that how their adventure affected the remainder of their lives compensated for what I felt was lacking during the trek across country.

When I realized, at the conclusion of the book, that The Daughter’s Walk was, in fact, a historical recollection of true facts, which were slightly embellished to fill in the blanks, I was very excited. To think that these women really did undertake the walk from one coast to the other, and that Clara Estby’s experiences left her mature beyond her years, quite literally dumbfounded me. I’m not sure the same could be undertaken in our contemporary times, with the same results. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t.

I recommend The Daughter’s Walk for the unique experience it offers in a pleasantly told, conversational narrative. Jane Kirpatrick helps us to see that anything’s possible, with hope and determination.

(Note: Please rank my review by scrolling to the top and clicking on the image in the upper left hand corner. You can help me win an award! Mahalo…hugmamma. 🙂 )

365 photo challenge: beyond

Training with New York City’s American Ballet Theatre’s Ethan Stiefel one summer at Martha’s Vineyard, was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that went BEYOND my daughter’s wildest imaginings………………………………………

and mine, truthfully………………………………………………………………hugmamma.

well worth a visit…

 

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

Image via Wikipedia

Have found a few more blogs of interest, again for different reasons. Wish I could visit the millions of blogs that exist on WordPress, but I think that’s very unlikely. But every so often I peruse the pages, and pause on a blog whose post’s title and first several lines make me curious enough to “click,” and read more. I never gave much thought to how very important those 2 items are to getting read. But with so, so many to choose from, how does one decide? I have no idea, truthfully. My method is just to handpick them one at a time. And these are the ones I’ve recently enjoyed.

New York, New York. Newsroom of the New York T...

Image via Wikipedia

Carloscollazo06 is an avid baseball fan. I mean avid.  He’s a high-schooler who hopes to become a sportswriter. Judging from his blog, I’m sure he’ll succeed. I understood one post, the one about his passion for writing, in spite of his being so young. His observation, not mine. While he hopes to venture beyond scripting posts about baseball, I’m not so sure he’ll be successful there. Scrolling down, I saw entries containing words like the Braves, Joe Madden, the Phillies’ second baseman Luis Castillo, and a reference to fantasy baseball on ESPNDid I get that all right? I also knew this blog and mine were generations apart because there were words I’d never known before, like yerd (yearbook nerds) and  werd (“writing nerd, of course”.) Of course! Who wouldn’t know what a yerd and a werd are? Duh!?!? Me!!! Nonetheless, this young blogger is worth checking out. He did spend time in NYC on a yearbook conference sponsored by Columbia University’s Scholastic Press Association. We might be reading his sport’s column in the New York Times one day, so you might want to get started now.

 My Life in Photos – 365 Challenge, a newbie of 2 months is off and running, challenging her readers to post a photo a day in correlation to a given word. Today’s word, for example, is “situated.” Not an easy challenge , as you can see. My brain cells will definitely grow by leaps and bounds, which is more than welcome in my case. How about yours? Someone who has journaled for 25 years, you might want to check out this blogger’s photo-take on life.

Quickly becoming a friend, another blogging buddy, but one with whom I also regularly exchange emails is Figments of a Dutchess. Living a world away from mine in Holland, she shares my sense of fun, love of pets, appreciation of the great outdoors, and a passion for blogging. What we’ve not got in common is the wind blowing like a jet stream through her beautifully coiffed, short, blonde hair, while she sits confidently astride a Harley. Yikes! If I were to do that, my thinning, henna-rinsed hair might come undone…totally. Like gone, goodbye, fare thee well. I don’t think I’d look good in bald.

The Duchess is a great writer of fiction, having whet my appetite with “the second room on the right.” Hopefully, she’ll be launching the full episodic novel very soon. Like my buddy Scriptor Obscura who has been sharing technical tips with me, like “adopting” my internet doggie, Cheddar, Figments of a Dutchess has assisted in attaching the image “of pointed-toes, an umbrella, and raindrops” in the right sidebar of my blog. The amazing thing is that clicking on the image magically brings up the YouTube video of Gene Kelly in his signature dance role, “Singing in the Rain.” Try it!!!

finding friends on the internet…like finding gold…hugmamma.

the “power of words,” beware

Spent the night tossing and turning as negative thoughts about this, that, and the other, crept into my overactive brain. As I fought to regain control of my positive self by repeating good thoughts, I finally felt as though an invisible hand reached in yanking me from the fray. I’m sure you’ve had such moments, perhaps not as I’ve described. But I’m a writer so I tend to dramatize.

The “invisible hand” was the realization that Kitty Kelley, via Oprah: A Biography, had inadvertently infiltrated my spirit with negativity. It may be that all she says is true, as told by those she interviewed. Of course it’s their perception of events and occurrences to do with Oprah. Meanwhile, the woman herself did not speak on her behalf. So we must take the words written about her with the proverbial “grain of salt,” in this case a whole shaker full.

I don’t question others’ perceptions; I do question the author’s need to slant her “tell all” with overwhelming negativity. As a biographer, Kelley feels compelled to delve deep. But the truth she reveals can be edited to corroborate what will drive readership and therefore, sales. Just as Oprah may not be the altruist everyone perceives, Kelley may not be the diligent author she presents herself to be.

Other than financial gain, why would Kelley choose to decimate Oprah’s visage as the great humanitarian? In speaking of the failed attempt by Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu to get Oprah nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Kelley writes:

I started the Nobel movement after Oprah appeared at the Dream Academy Dinner (May 24, 2005) to raise money for at-risk children whose parents are in prison,” said Washington, D.C., publicist Rocky Twyman. “When she stood up, praised God, opened her purse, and gave that Dream Academy a million dollars, I wanted to get her the Nobel Peace Prize…but the Nobel committee did not want to give it to a celebrity. So I formed a committee, and we talked to Dorothy Height (president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women), who was all for Oprah because Oprah had given Dr. Height two-point-five million in 2002 to pay off the mortgage on the NCNW headquarters….Dr. Height contacted Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu, and we set out to get publicity to collect a hundred thousand signatures for Oprah’s nomination to present to the Nobel committee….

“Unfortunately, we only got forty thousand signatures…because a lot of men, black and white, refused to sign…and a lot of religious people would not sign because they said Oprah was not married to Stedman and she gave a bad example to our young people by her lifestyle. I believe we all sin and come short of the glory of God, but these folks, mostly from black churches, and all conservative and law-abiding, felt very strongly that Oprah had put herself above the laws of God. I was stunned, but I’m afraid there are strong feelings against her in our (African-American) community….Of the forty thousand signatures we were able to get, most were white, not black. We got a lot of publicity and raised awareness for her getting the prize, but in the end I guess God did not want it to happen.”

Good read, but essential? Only in a gossipy tell-all book, trying to leach off the wealth and celebrity of another. I got sucked in, yes, but most biographies I’ve read have a thread of compassion running through them. When I turn the last page, I’m usually filled with sadness that once again fame and wealth has destroyed, rather than helped, someone’s life. By comparison, Oprah: A Biography, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. All the negativity consolidated in one place by the author’s self-serving manipulation of the facts, goes against my beliefs.

My gut instincts now tell me to be wary of silver-tongued writers. Readers with a stronger stomach and a less-sensitive constitution may be unaffected. I take what others say, to heart. Living and working in New York City left its mark, for I am cynical. But my island roots run deep, and my Aloha spirit makes me more empathetic, especially when Oprah’s childhood was not one of happiness and privilege. I may not condone all she does, but I take the good with the bad. She’s human like the rest of us, no matter what she and her fans might think, and say.

the power of words…be wary of their effect…hugmamma.  

redding ct, like the maui of old

When someone learns that I’m from Maui, she always exclaims “Oh, don’t you miss it? Why’d you ever leave?” I take a breath, preparing to answer what I truly feel in my heart.

Maui as it is today, even as it was 15 years ago, is no longer the island of my childhood. As with the neighboring  islands, in fact as with other popular destinations, tourism has transformed what was a less populous, less commercial, off-the-beaten-track locale into a mecca for the rich and famous, and even the not so rich and famous. Mind you, I came to terms with the drastic change some time ago. On one of my last trips to Maui, years ago, it was apparent that visitors to the island provided a livelihood for the majority of the locals. So I wasn’t about to admonish them as co-conspirators in the “ruination” of Maui, while I left to make my living and home elsewhere.

Before my daughter was born, actually before she was even a possibility, I was returning home to Long Island, New York from a business trip to Kansas City. Seated next to me on the flight was an attractive man dressed in cords and a sweater, appearing very much like a New Englander. Striking up a conversation, we spoke of many things.  One of the topics was where we resided. I explained that while my husband and I lived in Westbury, I wanted to move somewhere reminiscent of my birthplace, Maui. I desired the same small town atmosphere, where neighbors knew each other, where children played together, where there were town parades, fairs, picnics. Without hesitation, my traveling companion blurted “Redding, Connecticut! You should move to Redding, Connecticut!” 

I’d never heard of the town, so my new friend proceeded to describe it as a small, rural community isolated from the hubbub of surrounding towns by vast acres of pristine land, much of which belonged to the town ensuring that they would never be commercially developed. He went on to explain that to enter Redding, one either drove alongside reservoirs which supplied water to the town, or along country roads shaded by trees. The idyllic picture seemed lifted from a postcard. Giving me the name of the realtor who helped find this New York City writer a getaway home, I was convinced that my husband and I needed to make the 75 mile trip north of NYC, in search of Redding.

We got more than we bargained for, as a result of our hunt for a new home. Nearly bereft of hope that we’d be parents someday, Redding was the answer to our prayer. After 16 years of marriage, our daughter was born. The first 11 years of her life were spent in an oasis within the midst of suburban Connecticut. Watching her in those early years was like stepping back in time, into my own childhood Paradise. 

Topographically different, Redding had rolling hills, and a man-made lake in which to swim; Maui boasted a dormant volcano, and ocean waves upon which to surf. Redding’s landscape was dotted with sugar maple trees, whose leaves were seasonally transformed into the colors of the setting sun. So unlike Maui’s tropical palms swaying gently in the evening breezes, as the glassy Pacific waters below mirrored the shining  moon overhead.

In spite of their disparities, the people of both Redding and Maui were alike in their hospitality toward newcomers, and the friendliness within their communities. Schools were small, so while students didn’t know everyone personally, they were aware of everyone through friends or others. Children looked forward to trick-or-treating, door-to-door.  School plays were exciting affairs, as were school dances, and basketball games. Sleepovers were commonplace, as were play-dates and church picnics. Dads coached sports teams and led the Boy Scouts; moms were Girl Scout leaders and drove carpools. Children caught buses to school, or walked. Neighbors helped one another; they prepared meals for a family with a cancer-stricken mom; they cared for children when parents were tending to emergencies; they consoled those who laid loved ones to rest.

My daughter’s memories of an idyllic childhood in Redding  are just that, treasured remembrances. And so it is with the Maui of my youth. So when I’m asked “Wouldn’t you want to live there now?” I always reply,  “The Maui where I grew up is in my heart; it’s with me, wherever I am.” I know my daughter feels similarly about Redding, Connecticut, the town she still calls her home, though she’s not lived there for 13 years.

“home is where your heart is,” truly…hugmamma.

a football player, and more

Read an amazing article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Meet the NFL”s Most Interesting Man.” In part, it reads “The wonderfully named Zoltan Mesko speaks five languages and grew up dreaming of being an aerospace engineer before graduating from Michigan with a business degree and a master’s in sports management. He got lured into football only after he smashed a ceiling light with a kick ball in his Twinsburg, Ohio, junior-high-school gym.”

Romanian by birth, Mesko moved to America in 1997, when he was 10. Having left behind a war-torn country, his parents, both engineers, found living in a New York City apartment not much better. “It was expensive, dirty and cramped-even for three people–so they moved to Twinsburg, a Cleveland suburb with a large Eastern European community.”

In high-school Mesko discovered he could earn a college scholarship as a punter. “When he told his parents, they didn’t believe him. But Mr. Mesko knew they couldn’t pay for college, so he devoted himself to the singular skill of kicking a football as high as he could.” With the help of his father who “sent VHS tapes of Zoltan’s highlights to 86 colleges,” and his mother who researched school rankings according to their academics, he was the nation’s top punting prospect before his senior year. He was offered a scholarship to Indiana, and thereafter, admission to every Ivy League school. Wanting the best of both worlds, Ohio State and Columbia University, Mesko enrolled at Michigan State University.

“In 2009, he set Michigan’s records for gross yards per punt, at 44.5, and net yards per punt (gross minus the return), at 41. He was also named an Academic All-American and became the first specialist in 130 years of Michigan football to be named a captain. ‘That’s one I’m proudest of,’ he says.”

On July 16, the 24 year-old, 6-foot-4 punter signed with the New England Patriots. At the NFL’s minimum wage salary of $325,000 a year (we should all try out at that rate), plus a team bonus of $187,250 Mesko “might be among the poorest players in the NFL but is probably the richest kid from Timisoara, Romania.”

a football player, and more…hugmamma.