Strength Thru Peace

After a mere 13 years, I feel I may have finally found a reason to become a registered voter and to take part in the 2008 presidential election.

Try to contain your gasps of disbelief please.

This is all the doing of Jennifer, my avid political participant friend, who sent me the following link this morning:


Don't ask me why I even decided to follow her devious link (typically I delete any and all politically bent emails), but I did. And I took the quiz I found there. And lo and behold! I actually stumbled across a candidate who appears to be an intelligent, decent, humble human being. Amazing, I know.

Seriously, I am kind of excited about my discovery. Which is strange seeing as how I am so very apolitical - not that I don't hold political opinions (trust me, I do), it's just that I detest the whole political game and have thus far refused to participate in the self-serving, manipulative machine that is present-day politics. What can I say, it just gives me a heartache.

BUT, just wait until you read about presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Who? I know, I know…I'd never heard of him either. But, the more I read about him, the more I like him. And the more I like him, the more I want to read about him. His wife too, Elizabeth Kucinich, is a fascinating and admirable person. If you take a few minutes to read about them, you won't be disappointed - well, unless you favor violence, greed, colonialism, ethnocentricity, and the general break-down of our constitution. In that case, Dennis may not be the man for you.



Unmistakable Autumn

It's that time of year again.


It's that time when the temperatures at night are perfect for sleeping. A time when your alarm goes off in the morning, there is not even a hint, not a glimmer, of sunrise.

It's that time when nothing tastes so delicious as a cup of apple cider and a hot donut.

It's that time when you go into a store to be surrounded by fake blood, fangs, and fairy wings. A time when the metal shelves are crammed floor to ceiling with bags of every imaginable candy.

It's that time when it's not uncommon to drive by bright orange fields of pumpkins and to catch a whiff of faint damp leaf smoke.

It's that time when you dig through your closet and pull out your soft, warm sweaters - familiar and comforting as old friends.

Now is the time when the warmth of summer has gradually, imperceptibly faded - though it seems rudely abrupt.

Now is the time for nostalgic reflection. A time when reveries, regrets and ruminations creep into your thoughts; some putting a wistful smile on your face, some evoking a twinge of longing, some prodding that tender part in your chest.

It's that time when the physical distance of those close to you feels even farther - an impossible chasm of time and space.

It's that time of year when the past mingles freely with the present, revealing emotions and memories in that deceptively golden dappled light that filters through the brilliantly colored leaves. A time to be soft, but vigilant.

Yep. It's that time of year again.




I embarked on my maiden voyage to the Smoky Mountains this past weekend for some much-needed restorative hiking and nature communing. I had never been to the venerable mountains of eastern Tennessee. And now that I have, what can I say?

Achingly beautiful.

Views to make the heart take wing.

Truly, words to describe the grandeur elude me.
Gatlinburg, on the other hand, is another story. Not at all what I expected. Imagine the most kitschy carnival, boardwalk, and amusement park all rolled into one...add bumper to bumper traffic and a couple dozen tattoo parlours, and you come pretty close to imagining the phenomenon that is Gatlinburg. And although I'm sure words would not elude me so readily in further describing this town, I am up to my eyeballs with work at the moment and so will defer my own description to that of the inimitable Bill Bryson:

Gatlinburg is a shock to the system from whichever angle you survey it, but never more so than when you descend upon it from a spell of moist, grubby isolation in the woods. It sits just outside the main entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and specializes in providing all those things that the park does not - principally, slurpy food, motels, gift shops and sidewalks on which to waddle and dawdle - nearly all of it strewn along a single, astoundingly ugly, main street.
For years it has prospered on the understanding that when Americans load up their cars and drive enormous distances to a setting of rare natural splendor what most of them want when they get there is to play a little miniature golf and eat dribbly food.
So Gatlinburg is appalling.

Fortunately, we did not spend any time in Gatlinburg and instead basked in the refuge of the surrounding nature (well that, and the hot tub at our cabin!)


Excuse me while I vomit

Anne Coulter makes me physically ill. Read her interview...if you can stomach it.




Hmm...let me think...It's difficult to articulate, but I'll try.

Sometimes I feel like I'm 5 years old and something has occurred which, in my immature mind, is so grossly unfair that I want to lie on the floor and beat my small hands and feet against the linoleum until they hurt more than the pain of the unfairness I am suffering. Until my cries of injustice are heard and recognized. Something must be done! It isn't fair, after all!

And other times it feels like I've lost something. Something important...like a kidney or a phone number or the ability to speak. And besides the bewildering sense of loss, there are red wavy undercurrents of frustration and anger. My brain chastising my ineptitude. You idiot! How could you lose something so important!? This, of course, is almost always accompanied by quivering self-doubt and the inevitable questions of self-worth.

There are moments...few, granted...when it is frighteningly reminiscent of the grief of death. Fleeting segments of desolation and despair. A gaping hole left ragged around the edges where once there was laughter...security...blind faith.

But then there are the times when I feel only warm tenderness and gentle sadness mixed with a hopeful certainty that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well". At those times I am convinced that I will be well. So shall we all be well.

"And what I recall of Sunday school was,that the more difficult something became,the more rewarding it was in the end."-- Edward Bloom, "Big Fish"


Maybe there's something wrong with me...

Yesterday afternoon I took my car in to the service center for a minor repair (I don't know, some little hole in some little tube somewhere). The polite and helpful technician took my keys and my car and ushered me to the customer waiting area. I walked in to the surprisingly comfortable environment only to find myself in the company of one 13-month old toddler and her mother, and I inwardly groaned. The groan was not prompted by the toddler. No, I actually like kids; it's their parents who usually annoy me.

And almost immediately I knew this woman would embody everything about breeders that I detest.

Upon entering the waiting room, I greeted the toddler with a smile and a friendly "hi there" and nodded and smiled to the toddler's mother as well. They were the only occupants of the room and had made themselves at home by spreading out the toddler's varied accoutrements on the floor, coffee table, and chairs. I politely took a seat at the far end of the room to accommodate their territorial boundaries and promptly settled in with a book I had brought.
Less than 2 minutes had gone by when the woman started speaking to her toddler in a loud, high-pitched voice which indicated that she was not so much speaking to her daughter as she was speaking to her daughter in order to get my attention.

Loud-mouthed breeder: (in that exceedingly irritating high-pitched "baby talk" voice) hahaha…you just won't be ignored, will you? You just love being the center of attention and will do anything to get it! Hahaha

I glanced up from my book to find the smiling, shiny-faced toddler standing in front of me. I winked at her and told her what a pretty dress she had on. She grinned and sort of danced around in that wobbly toddler manner and her mother squealed with delight and used the opportunity to launch into conversation with me.

Loud-mouthed breeder: (grinning from ear to ear) both my husband and I act on the stage, so we knew we were in trouble with her - she's such a little drama queen. She just loves attention. Hahaha. She made her first stage debut at 9 months…my director wanted me to sing the lullaby "Baby Mine" - you know from Dumbo - in this musical review and I said, "sure"…well he found out that lullaby is HER lullaby and told me I should carry her out on stage with me. Well let me tell you! she just completely stole the show! (addressing toddler) didn't you!? you just stole the show! Hahaha

I smiled, I nodded, I contemplated the massive amount of blue eyeshadow smeared across her lids. I said, "how old is she now?" And then (yes, I regretted it almost before it escaped my lips) I said, "she's quite mobile for 13 months". And I felt the last nail being pounded into my coffin. The very proud woman proceeded to regale me with details on how she herself was an early walker and how her precious toddler was displaying the same genius and how any day now she'll be running and how will we ever keep up with her….yada yada yada.
My eyes sort of glazed over at this point and I kept glancing longingly at the closed book in my lap while still trying to maintain a semblance of polite interest ignoring the voice screaming in my head, "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UUUUUUUUUP!"

She finally paused for air and stopped talking at me. I took this fortuitous opportunity to open my book and made every effort to appear absolutely engrossed. She turned her attention back onto her genius toddler and I tuned out her ridiculously high-pitched baby talk and focused on the story in my hands. Which, in case you're interested, was "Blindness" by Jose Saramago (you may recognize his name as he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 98).

Not ten minutes later, two middle-aged women joined us in the waiting room and the clucking began again in full-force only NOW the breeder had an attentive audience! Neat for me.
So there we all were - three women and a toddler. Upon entering, the two women immediately swooped down to the toddler, exclaiming how precious and adorable she was in the by-now-familiar high pitched squeals reserved especially for infants and small children. I don't get this…why? Why do some people feel the need to increase their octave ten-fold when addressing a small child?

The mother of the toddler was naturally overcome with joy at the attention being lavished upon her and enthusiastically went into her spiel again about being an actress and her husband being an actor and oh lord! we're certainly going to be in trouble with this little one...it felt like an alarming déjà vu episode and it was all I could do to refrain from visibly rolling my eyes.
The three hens clucked incessantly (and so very loudly) for the next 40 minutes (or was it 40 years? I can't recall) about the intimate details of their various pregnancy experiences, including a collapsed lung and how the toddler's name is Bethany, "but we call her Bette!" and again with the walking at 9 months self-congratulatory exclamations. They were all inordinately proud of their reproductive capabilities and were not at all reticent in proclaiming so. This loud discussion was interspersed with those high pitched comments directed at Bette:

"You're just a little ray of sunshine, aren't you?!"
"She certainly is!"
"What would we do without you here to brighten the room?"
"We'd be bored!!"

They kept casting suspicious glances at me from time to time - me without my blue eyeshadow, in my dark grey slacks and black top and my non-frosted hair. I mean, what kind of person sits there reading a book and minding her own business when there is a toddler in the room and a mother who is only too gleeful to talk about it! She must be one of THOSE women!

At one point, one of the women went into great detail explaining why she was at the dealership selling her car. The lengthy (and VERY personal) story involved a couple of marriages, a couple of kids, a couple of divorces and some really bad choices. Really!? Who does that!? Who openly and unabashedly displays the contents of one's personal life to complete strangers?
Three words. Too. much. information.

I don't know...sometimes I have so little tolerance for people. Maybe I'm just not a "people person".