Government In A Christianist State

Last Thursday, the Nashville Scene published an article (short enough to read quickly, so go ahead!) titled, If you love Jesus, this is your state legislature. The article exposes the practice of the "Minister of the Day" in the Tennessee legislature. And, of course, each minister of the day is a solid member of the conservative Christian right, opening each session with a hearty fire-and-brimstone Christianist "prayer".

HOW is this okay?!

OMG! For the last time - you ignorant, arrogant, dillholes - the United States of America is NOT a Christian nation. Nor were we founded on Christianity. In fact our founders tried very hard to make sure we kept a healthy separation between church and state. This separation is very important if we don't want to end up like Iran.

It drives me crazy that this practice is allowed. If you want to begin each session with a moment of silence for each individual to prepare internally for the work about to be done, fine. I'm okay with that. But to tolerate what is essentially hate-speech cloaked in a "prayer" is unacceptable.

Shouldn't Christians be opposed to politicizing their religion? Wasn't Jesus supposed to have said something like, 'my kingdom is not of this world'? What part of that do we not understand? Christianists (as opposed to Christians) wield Christianity as a political force and engage in the political pollution of a sincere and personal faith. I don't care if my legislator is a Christian. I start to care when they don't protest the Christianist "prayers" contaminating our government.

If you live in TN, find this practice disturbing, and want to email your representative to let them know, you can find your legislator HERE


Hidden Messages

The wallpaper exfoliation extravaganza continues. We are little by little giving all of the interior walls of our home much-needed facials. We utilize steam first, and then we implement a gentle chemical peel. We patiently repair any surface damage and then apply a deep conditioner. Lastly, we apply two coats of protective moisturizer.

The bare plaster walls that now adorn our house include the dining room, the entire stairwell, and the dressing room. This is good because we now only have wallpapered walls in the office. This is bad because the aforementioned bare plaster walls have not yet gone through the entire transformative facial process and it looks like we live in a run-down tenement building.

In reality, we live in an extremely sturdy, well-constructed, fantastically unique house...that happens to have some rather unattractive bare plaster walls at the moment.

Our house came into existence in 1935. It was hand-built by a father for his daughter. The father and his wife lived in our current neighbor's house back in the day when the majority of the homes in our neighborhood surrounded an exclusive golf course. Many of the houses in our neck of the woods were once the vacation cottages of the wealthy folks who lived on the lavish plantations on the west side of Nashville.

So, the father built this cottage with the intention of giving it to his daughter to live in. For whatever reason, the daughter ended up never living there and the father kept it sort of as his man cave, his "bachelor" pad, - even though he wasn't a bachelor - and it stayed in the family, I guess as just an extra house, until it was bought by the Gaithers (I'm not sure what year this occured, but I'm guessing it was late 60s/early 70s).

In 2007 it was bought by an investor from the Gaithers. The investor promptly went bankrupt before he was able to "flip" the house. The bank took possession of it and then we bought it 9 months ago. So, while we are technically the 4th owners of this 75 year old home, we are only the 3rd family to actually live in it.

Since the original owner didn't live in the house full-time, the lovely plaster walls were left bare for decades until the Gaithers came into possession of the home. During their tenure, they managed to cover every single wall of the house (except the living room, which has retained the original wood paneling put up lovingly by a father for his daughter) with wallpaper. Everytime they wallpapered or re-wallpapered throughout the years, they wrote stuff on the walls before covering them with the latest interior fashion.

While I readily admit that removing wallpaper is a shitty job, it's kinda fun to discover the hidden messages behind the wallpaper as we take it down room by room.

We discovered that the room we have been using as a dressing room was previously used as a nursery - which kinda makes sense since it's so close to the master

The top one says: "Sandra Gaither Dilated 3cm Nov 7, (or it could be 17) 1979 Baby Due this date (arrow pointing to above date)"
And then something unreadable followed by the word "Terrible"

The next one says: "Pooter (you can't see the P in the photo) Gaither Age - 17 MO SistER hERE AnY DAY"

I really hope Pooter was just a nickname or term of endearment.

Then we have this one: "Rango and Ronnie stoned again" Nice. Ronnie along with his wife Sandra were the previous owners. I have no idea who Rango was/is.

The next hidden messages says: "James Flatt and Ronnie Gaither DID this January 1972 God Bless America" Perhaps James Flatt also goes by the name Rango?

The one above is kinda hard to see in the photo, but it says "Rango 12-11-92 Bill Clinton Sucks!!"

There are a couple of other messages from 1992 that we found. One telling us that someone had a wrestling match at Father Ryan High School. Apparently '92 is when the Gaithers redecorated the kitchen and dining room and put up new wallpaper.

I love that our house has a history.

We have no intention of putting new wallpaper up in place of the old wallpaper, so we can't leave hidden messages on the walls, but I'm sure we can find other ways to leave traces of ourselves for whoever the next caretaker of the house may be.


In Case You Haven't Heard...

According to the MEGA-DOUCHE-BAG, Pat Robertson, Haitians made a "pact with the devil" back in 1791 prior to a slave rebellion against French colonists. And that, dear friends, is the only cause behind the recent massively destructive earthquake. Yep, god’s wrath. It's the Haitians' fault. How good of Robertson to clear things up for us, eh?

It’s unbelievable what hateful projectile vomit spews forth from this fucking whack-a-doo’s mouth sometimes, but this arrogant, insensitive and completely out of line comment takes the cake. Keith Olberman (LOVE him!) eloquently and succinctly responded to Robertson (and Limbaugh) yesterday on Countdown. Watch it HERE.

Also, in case you haven't heard...you can help the Haitian earthquake victims in a small way through a $10 donation to the Red Cross by texting "HAITI" to "90999". Your $10 donation will go automatically to the Red Cross "to help with relief efforts" and will be charged directly to your cell phone bill.

Here are other ways to HELP


A Full Cookie Jar

So, it snowed more on Saturday. Lots of gentle flurries where it was hard to tell if new snow was actually falling from the sky or if the snow that had already fallen was just blowing around. Either way, it was pretty. Pretty damn cold! The overnight low on Friday night was 11 and on Saturday we actually got down into the single digits. 9 degrees. No kidding. It was warmer in Gillette Wyoming than it was in Nashville Tennessee.

Due to the butt-cold conditions this weekend, we decided it would be in our best interests to hibernate for a couple of days. So that's what we did. I ventured out to get my hair cut. Daniel ventured out to pick up his new glasses. And then we camped out on the couch, piled on the blankets and lit a fire in the fireplace.

Though frigid weather usually saps any and all motivation, I am strangely compelled to produce baked goods when it's cold outside. In order to hibernate, one must have a full cookie jar. Yes?

So, I spent some time filling up the cookie jar with peanut butter cookies, using this recipe I adapted from Allrecipes.com:

Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Shortening
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
2 Cups Crunchy Peanut Butter
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Extra White Sugar

Cream the fats and sugars (you could use all butter or all shortening depending on your preference or what you have on hand). Add the eggs, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Stir in the peanut butter by hand (I used a mixture of Jif creamy and crunchy). In a separate bowl sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Stir into the peanut butter mixture. (At this point you could also stir in additional chopped nuts or chocolate chips or whatever you like in your peanut cookies - I went the simple route and stirred in nothing). Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use parchment paper, a silpat mat, or grease a cookie sheet. (I used parchment paper on one sheet and a silpat mat on the other and couldn't tell a difference between the two).

Roll the dough into walnut sized balls (mine were a little smaller). Then roll the balls into the extra white sugar. (I baked one dozen NOT rolling them in sugar and they came out fine - less sweet, obviously). Place dough balls on cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork (or a spatula if you'd like a flat top rather than the traditional criss-cross pattern).

Bake these cookies for 10-15 minutes. I know that's a huge range but it'll depend a lot on your oven and how you like your cookies. The longer you bake these things, the crispier they get. If you want a chewier cookie, then you'll want to underbake them slightly and let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

You can attempt to eat these without milk at the ready, but I wouldn't recommend it.


A Nashville Snow Day

It never fails to tickle me.

All the schools had already been declared closed for today by last night at 10pm. The snowflakes didn't begin floating down from the clouds until around 9am this morning. Daniel's office officially closed due to the inclement weather (bwhahaha!) and sent everyone home early. Lucky mo'fo.

The weather forecast is calling for more scattered snow showers tomorrow and Saturday. You'll find me at the Kroger tonight stocking up on bread and milk. It's what we do.


Welcome 2010

Well here it is, another year. Another decade.

Things I've Learned in 2009:

1. Stuff is so much sweeter when you really work for it.

We bought this dumpy little peach colored house, that if it had been handed to us, we probably would've looked at it and seen only the negatives. But because we had to jump through so many hurdles and have mountains of patience and perseverance, it burrowed into our hearts and became our shining palace of potential.

2. Houses require a lot of work and a lot of money.

No matter how shiny with potential a house is, it takes a lot of sweat and elbow grease and cold hard cash to make it not only habitable, but "yours".

3. Weddings don't require much work or money.

Weddings can be simple and funny and lovely and relatively stress-free, and your marriage will not suffer due to the lack of a traditional wedding. Honestly.

4. There are places on this earth that make you feel insignificant and a part of something greater from one breath to the next.

Our trip to Egypt and the Middle East was transformative on a number of levels and was an experience that stamped itself into our minds and souls.

5. A job or career shouldn't define a person.

Architect is not who I am. It's what I do. My job does not always have to be my first priority

6. Making new friends when you're 7 is a lot easier than when you're 33.

Not only is making new friends difficult, but keeping close ties with old friends becomes more challenging as well. Being far away geographically is certainly a hindrance, but you would think that with all of our contemporary communicative devices available, it would be effortless to maintain the strong relationships we've cultivated. Not so.

7. Facebook is diabolical.

It repulses me and draws me in at the same time. I feel compelled to log in at least every other day, but when I do I only become annoyed at the inane drivel people post on their page. People who friended me who I barely recall from high school write the stupidest shit on Facebook, but I can. not. ignore. it. Seriously. I hate Facebook.

8. Have faith in your abilities.

One of my most favorite people on the planet has finally been convinced of the immense talent she possesses. It took a lot of years and beating down a lot of self doubt, but she's there and it is awesome to behold.

9. Don't be afraid to rely on someone other than yourself.

Self-reliance runs rampant in my family hand-in-hand with independence. Accepting help from another or sharing your load is unheard of. We simply don't do it. I've discovered, however, that once you find a person who you trust completely and who has your back unconditionally, it's a HUGE relief to know that person is there and that you can rely on them without question. And then when you actually allow yourself to rely on them, it's near blissful. Truly.

10. Happiness is relative.

The definition of happiness changes from year to year. Week to week. Even day to day. This is probably grossly apparent to most, but it was a revelation to me this year. Happiness, on some level, is attainable whenever you want it.

Happy New Year Everyone!