Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coping With Financial Stress.......Stay Calm

Scary week, no? Financial swings the likes of which we haven't seen since.....horse and buggy days? Everyone around me is uncertain, confused, anxious. And what of the children? Certainly they are picking up on our stresses of paying bills, filling fridges, if not through direct conversation, or listening in on our end of phone calls, then certainly from the tone in our voices. Shopping for school supplies was never fun but now it is painful.
"Who needs all those crayons?!"
"What's wrong with last year's backpack?"
"Ten dollars for the Disney Princess six-piece stationary set?"
I am neither an economist nor a psychic, I don't know what will happen. But I am a Mom. I feel it is our job, as responsible beings to set a tone for the family. We are all feeling fear these days, but we should try to keep our financial anxiety in check. Lets just try to maintain a sense of calm and grace during this crazy time.
Breathe, Stay Active
Fear can effect our body with a "fight or flight" response, flooding us with adrenaline. Get up, move, run, walk, kick a ball, punch a punching bag, work it off. If you sit still, you will feel panic. And breathe. Again. long, slow, throughout the day. Let the shoulders go.
Couples Coping
Money is a huge stress-out subject in relationships, even in the best of times. Try to set some ground rules during these crazy days. Don't talk about money before bed. Or in bed. Support each other, acknowledge the fear. Focus on what you do have. Lovely children. Friends and family. A functioning body. Each other.
The Kids
Don't lie to your children, they always seem to know anyway. But don't overwhelm them either. A child can't comprehend the FDIC, bank consolidation or jumbo loans. I can barely. Simply sit them down and talk about how the money world is really complicated right now, and scary (certainly they have heard stuff from friends) but reassure them that you will all be OK.
And you will. Turn off the TV. Eat simple, homemade meals together, at home. Talk about other things. Certainly the financial world isn't the only thing going on right now. Just, possibly, the scariest.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Favorite Meals

It was summer, 2008. The farm dinner movement had just gotten some momentum and across the country, groups like Dinners At The Farm and Plate and Pitchfork brought fine dining to the source. Here in Colorado, the Johnny Appleseed of farm dinners, Jim Denevan swept through in his converted bus and brought together fine chefs, farms, wine, people in magnificent settings.
We made it up to Paonia for the fruit infused dinner, peach country up in them thar hills. Guest chefs Mark Fischer of Restaurant Six89 in Carbondale and the crew of Aspen's The Little Nell had a gorgeous extended table set up by Zephyros Farm's pond, but the skies had other plans. A mad dash brought the setting for one hundred-plus diners into the greenhouse, creating an intimate affair. Highlights.....Grappa-soaked peaches with goat cheese and honey, fried squash blossoms filled with lavender ricotta, lots of fresh local wine. Endless conversation with hardy adventurists from far and wide, all huddled around candles by hay bales and potting supplies. All appreciating the freshest possible delights set before us. Truly special.
A good night's sleep at a local inn topped off a perfect evening. The drive back the next morning through majestic McCLure Pass, took us through the mountain towns of Redstone ("Ruby of the Rockies") where turn-of-the-century craftsmen-era Swiss style cottages are still in use.
More modest Hotchkiss, Somerset and Marble (guess what they quarry here?) bring you right down to Carbondale, where some ill-planned construction added an additional hour to the journey back to Boulder.
But what fortune awaited us upon learning that the traveling band of gourmands were setting up another dinner at our local Munson's Farm. And the famed Frasca crew were on hand to bring their magic into the field. We were there!
A glass of wine and a tour of the farm started the evening. Jim Munson welcomed guests, then his sons Bob and Mike took over with explanations of crop rotation, irrigation, heirloom seeds, all kinds of things that are the daily concern of these noble, hardy souls. Our weekly visits to local Farmer's Markets can't reveal the true grit, real and figurative, that goes into churning out consistent, clean food that makes its way to candle-lit tables everywhere.
A late afternoon sun assured the crowd that storms were not to mar this event. The Munsons had taken out several rows of corn to lay a long, elegant table amidst towering stalks. Enthusiastic staff raced up and down the sides to rest large bowls of colorful fare, served family style. Frasca owner/sommelier, Bobby Stuckey kept glasses filled, conversation going, smiles lingering. A beautiful pasta with shards of summer squash and herbs anchored the meal but for me, this was the night I discovered Buratta. Huge pillows of this rich, buttery-tasting mozzarella-type cheese were set on plates amidst multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil. No knife needed. A spoon pierced the thin skin releasing an ooze of fresh ricottoa-like cream to be absorbed by blocks of fresh bread. And dotted with basil bits. And tomatoes. And pass that plate back over here please. And again. Thanks!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dolphin's Curse

One of the things we have been talking about lately is the captive dolphin industry. The photo here shows what looks like a pair of happy smiling dolphins, frolicking and cuddling a human. Guess what. They aren't happy. They are cursed with a mouth that curls up at the sides and resembles a human's mouth when the human is happy and smiles. But the dolphins are not happy at all.
They were probably herded and selected and separated from their loved ones, in a brutal, confusing capture. They were most likely shipped to a penned setting, possibly polluted with chemicals and their own excrement. Their keen sonar system disoriented by strange machinery humming through the water. They were starved into submission. Tricks. Play. Be gentle.
The multi-billion dollar captive dolphin industry, along with the annual dolphin slaughter in southern Japan is the focus of the upcoming film, The Killing Cove, that the Oceanic Preservation Society has been working on for the last four years.
Look for it in early 2009.
And please don't spend hundreds of dollars to "swim with dolphins" in some hot concrete pen. Or go watch a show and buy dolphin-embossed souvenirs in a fit of compassion and love. PBS sheds some light on these corporate cetacean mills.
But the facts below about these brilliant, advanced creatures are chilling.

A study in 1985 revealed that of 32 killer whales examined after dying in aquariums around the world, half had died of bacterial infections, and one quarter of pneumonia. 53% of those dolphins who survive the violent capture die within 90 days.The average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years; yet half of all captured dolphins die within their first two years of captivity. The survivors last an average of only 5 years in captivity. Every seven years, half of all dolphins in captivity die from capture shock, pneumonia, intestinal disease, ulcers, chlorine poisoning, and other stress-related illnesses.

To the captive dolphin industry, these facts are accepted as routine operating expenses. In many tanks the water is full of chemicals as well as bacteria, causing many health problems in dolphins including blindness. When a baby dolphin is born in captivity, the news is usually kept secret until the calf shows signs of survival. Although marine mammals do breed in captivity, the birth rate is not nearly as successful as the one in the wild, with high infant mortality rates.

Wild dolphins can swim 40 to 100 miles per day - in pools they go around in circles. Many marine parks subject their mammals to hunger so they will perform for their food. Jumping through hoops, tailwalking and playing ball are trained behaviors that do not occur in the wild. Dolphins are predators of fish and spend up to half of their time in the wild hunting for food. Supplying dead fish results in less exercise and lack of mental stimulation, thus causing boredom. When trapped together, males often become agitated and domineering. This creates pecking orders (unknown in the wild) and unprovoked attacks on each other and the trainers. In the ocean, although fights are not unknown, the wild dolphins have a chance to escape. Confined animals who abuse themselves (banging their heads against the walls) are creating stimuli which their environment cannot supply. Dolphins in captivity tend to develop stereotypical behaviors (swimming in repetitive circle pattern, with eyes closed and in silence) because of boredom and confinement .This is equivalent to the swaying and pacing of primates, lions, tigers and bears confined in cages.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Enough With the Palin Impaling

So I have given the Palin beat over to someone far more skilled at it than I.
Famous too.
Please follow Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with "an astringent eye", according to the New York Times.
I had to thank her.
She responded earlier today:
"Please feel free to link to any of the blog sites or audio files, parody songs 'gotta laugh or you'll cry about Sarah Palin'. Use any of the information on www.syrin.vox.com or www.palininvestigated.blogspot.com and always check these Alaskan News sources www.voiceofthetimes.net and www.andrewhalcro.com. "

So we will, Sherry, thanks.
Internet Election, rock on!

About the photo, The Anchorage Daily News hosts a "Palin and Me" link that offers citizen journalists the exposure only J School students dream of.
Actually, this is a glimpse into the life of a very interactive politician. She seems to be everywhere, from Girl Scout meetings to Vet memorial celebrations, to whale kill ceremonies. And people in Anchorage seem to love her.

I love Cindy's look in this shot. What happened to her arm?

Kind of Funny, Kind of Sad

We are selling a lifestyle here, not a printer.
Clean, happy life. Connected. To a wireless printer (if the IT guy set it up right) but are we connected in real life?
This is dad and daughter, she is clearly too young to be a girlfriend. They are hanging out. Super edited clean house, white on white on white on.....who let him in with the shoes! Oh, ok, they are his inside kicks. And he owns the place. No prob.
So we can assume this is dad's house, maybe the parents are divorced, mom lives elsewhere in a hovel with stained carpets and no wireless printers. Or, mom is simply out of the photograph, in the kitchen preparing a nutritious meal for the clean team.
How are these two people relating to each other? Are they? She is smiling, maybe at some witty Facebook comment, he is smiling, but his eyes are not on her. He is online too. A golf crony just made a jab at his handicap. Or the hottie from last weekend just suggested something fun but furtive.
They just happen to be in the same room. Like at Starbucks. Maybe they don't even know each other. Yeah, that's it. They are related but don't know each other.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More Wine?

More servitude, this time from the skies.
Exhibit B:
An unnamed airline wants us to know that at 35,000 feet, cordiality still rules. Scary, no? All those females with keys to the kingdom.
Relax. I will serve you. Food, wine, smile. Your friend there, she's ok, but she only gets a drink. You, on the other hand, get spinal support, drip-free red wine and my constant attention.
So Happy.

And Now For Some Fun

OK, I need to get off the pony political for a minute. Time for some innocent fun.
We are looking at ads, costly ads that are designed to affect our thinking and spending, and sometimes they are downright ridiculous.

Exhibit A: Swanky hotel chain, running a series of crazy print ads. We see exotic, colorful people cavorting in surreal pleasure palaces, being served (always being served!) odd things. What is on this plate? Beautifully arranged nail extensions?
What is that guy next to her? Her date. An amused stranger?
And to his left. Exotic up-do or handbag on head?
And speaking of hair, the waitress just performed in Act II of Giselle?

A Call To Arms (Legs and Brains Too)

OK, enough already with the Palin stuff. I just got an email from a friend in Chicago, active-O supporter, traveling to key states on weekends to canvass (the systematic initiation of direct contact with a target group of individuals commonly used during political campaigns). She also brought this up as a call to arms, and movement. Many of us are now preaching to our own choirs and this is when action matters most.
"Time is critical, and your help is needed. Given money? Attended events? Circulated e-mails? That’s all great, but how about traveling to a key battleground state and canvassing for the campaign?!"
If you are working towards an Obama victory/presidency, you are probably hooked into this site but if not, go. Join an organized virtual community working towards a common goal. The ultimate Internet Election. Yay!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Come Vote. It Really Matters This Time!

Americans have this cool thing going on where they can all collectively choose their leader, as opposed to those other countries that don't. Like the Congo or Myanmar, where leaders (dictators) hold power not won by collective agreement, they just rule from on high and that's the deal, don't argue.
Or Syria and Cuba where there is simply one party governing things, no elections, no November refreshment. Nada.
We here in the US have a gift. Our forefathers and foremothers fought for this right, the comfort of knowing that your participation in the selection process of leadership contributes to the group. We now must take part in this essential process. We register. We vote.
Here Ya Go.
No worries, its easy, 1-2-3 snap. Take care of it. Please.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hockey Mom, Sports Mom

As the nation heard Sarah Palin's self definition last week, "the only difference between a Hockey Mom and a pit bull is a touch of lipstick" (she had lip liner on as well, define "a touch") a few of us sports chauffeurs wonder what unique qualities we bring to the table.
Amy Finnerty and Annabel Levy astutely sort through the fine points in Forbes, closing with a jab at the baseball Mom.
"Unlike in soccer, where the mothers are free to show up looking as if they just rolled out of bed (often their actual state), in Little League Baseball, looks count. The baseball mom doesn't so much choose a team or coach as a coach chooses her, it is said. He usually prefers the boss' kid, his son's best friend or ... the one with the hottest mom. And by the end of an eventful season, if dad isn't equally committed, she tends to have her divorce lawyer on speed dial."
(A-Rod culture?)
Each sports kingdom brings its inherent personality, which washes through the arena, court, locker room, starting with the heroes, on down to the coaches, players, and of course reflected in the supportive Moms on the sidelines.
Over the years, my boys have played tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. So I have been many kinds of Moms. Hip and flippant. When we cheered our soccer team on those chilly Fall mornings, we were keenly conscious of anyone tripping or grabbing our little heroes. We made our gentle noise.
Hockey and football on the other hand seem far more vicious and violent. They thrive on the blood. I seem to remember something about an enraged parent and a sharp hockey skate blade. And jail time.
Around here, we know some kids that play Rugby and Lacross. They are often bruised.
I, on the other hand, raised wusses. I carried arnica in my bag, along with The New Yorker. From my folding chair on the sideline, I never raised a racquet, we occasionally questioned a ref's call. But a civilized discussion sorted everything out.
So what's with the tough? Maybe it has to do with sports requiring helmets, the danger, the violence is heightened. Pulses race. Veins stick out of screaming spectators' necks. Not so with the leonine Frisbee player, loping and lunging to catch the lobbed disc. The greatest danger with that sport is grass stains.
According to Vicki Poretta, creator of The Mom's Guide to Sports, there are lots of differences between sports for the mom. "Volleyball is indoors, in a gym, not very complicated," say Poretta. Tennis? diplomatic. Golf, you just drop and go. Parents don't stay and watch. There are no stands, sidelines. Swimming, you sit indoors in a cozy warm arena, knitting. Stressful? Only when your child's goggles fill with water.
Now softball and baseball, those tend to last long. Many late afternoons are spent sitting in chilling rain, no chance of getting a home-cooked meal into the little sluggers. And what about the car? Trashed from spilled take-out food, mud, smelly uniforms? And don't even talk about cranky losers. "Would you mind not kicking the seat?!"
Also, imagine the organization skills of any sport Mom, as she plans drop-offs, pick-ups, sometimes at various locations. Practices, home games, away games, sometimes out of town, travel plans. Fridges full, fridge door papered with schedules. Cooler in car filled with snacks, liquids.
So any sports mom really has the patience of a saint, the brains of an air traffic controller, and any one of us, with a bit of coaching could be qualified to throw on a dash of lipstick (and liner) and run for office.
Join us next week when Ballet Moms take on the Senate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

State of the Art of Dining

Today's busy bees can't be bothered relating to other humans in the flesh, what with crazy schedules and all. Why not just call it a day, retire to your nearest cozy restaurant, order some yummies and get back to everyone virtually. No need to make small talk, go through the split-the-check dance, or even set a time. Just get out and dine, but phone it in.

Monday, September 8, 2008


This is making the rounds. I have received several emails today urging me to add to an insta-blog, Women Against Sarah Palin. With the click of a button, voices can now rise up, not solo but in resounding chorus. Any woman with an internet connection can, and should make her voice heard if she is not comfortable with, is insulted by, or shudders in fear of this looming puppet.
I share with you:

Friends, compatriots, fellow-lamenters,

We are writing to you because of the fury and dread we have felt since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce on the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate that has a real possibility of becoming fact.

Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms. Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present or future daughters. To date, she is against sex education, birth control, the pro-choice platform, environmental protection, alternative energy development, freedom of speech (as mayor she wanted to ban books and attempted to fire the librarian who stood against her), gun control, the separation of church and state, and polar bears. To say nothing of her complete lack of real preparation to become the second-most-powerful person on the planet.

We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin's political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we've so demonstrably benefited from.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

Therefore, we invite you to reply here with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation.

Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and place of residence.

We will post your responses on a blog called "Women Against Sarah Palin," which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest conveniencethe greater the volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.

Thank you for your time and action.



Quinn Latimer and Lyra Kilston
New York, NY

**PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY! If you send this to 20 women in the next hour, you could be blessed with a country that takes your concerns seriously. Stranger things have happened.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Internet Election

So I just received an email letter (e-letter?) from a friend, about the upcoming election. I suppose we will see and send many in the next few months but I felt compelled to post this.
I hear that this is the Internet Election, we can now post, link, upload a variety of information. This is good, and I assure my readers that I will certainly apply editing skills to avoid overload, but when something touches my heart, I must share it with you:

Dear friends and acquaintances,
I grew up on the dark stories told by my parents, Holocaust survivors. Watching the Republican convention on TV, I became physically ill because this is what Fascism looks like in its early stages. The venom, the lies and half-truths, the mockery, the nationalistic fervor, the demagoguery, and the utter lack of empathy for most of humankind chilled me to the bone. Couple this with the fact that the Republican Party strategists are not allowing journalists access to Palin (just heard this on CNN) and are effectively demonizing the media that veer from right-wing ideology, and we can see clearly where our democracy is heading.

We can, of course, shrug and say this is hopeless situation, or we can resort to magical thinking that all will turn out for the best if we simply send Obama good thoughts and vote for him. Let us instead act. In the two months remaining let us do EVERYTHING to elect the Obama and Biden and (for those of us living in Colorado) Mark Udall--who is being relentlessly attacked by the oil industry--and Jared Polis. For our children and grandchildren, let us do everything and then some. If it is comfortable to send $25 to the Obama campaign this week, please send $50. If you are well-to-do, please be extraordinarily generous in your giving; give so it makes a dent. Go to https://donate.barackobam.com/wecan. If you don't have discretionary money, think of something else to do, and keep on doing things until election day. My friend, Wayne (a physician) plans to go to nursing homes to inform patients that under a McCain/Palin administration, Medicare (which really works!) is threatened. My Sudanese daughter Rose is volunteering in Mark Udall's office even though she is not yet a citizen. My husband and I, both introverts, are canvassing for the Democratic Party.

In addition to working for the Obama/Biden ticket, if you like this letter, please send it on to others--those already committed, those on the fence, and those in the McCain camp.

Thank you with all my heart,
name withheld

Friday, September 5, 2008

Password Please

Doncha hate when you forget (or misfile) your password to some site and you try to enter and you can't but they offer a "forgot password?" button and you hit that button that assures you that all is forgiven and no problem, a new temporary password will be sent to your email and you wait.....and wait.......and wait.......and where is the damn email from them?
I am currently waiting for:
American Airlines
and a few others I don't want to divulge....
I am still waiting.
Please send me new temp passwords because the ones I have entered don't work and I can't access my info and I just need to get in there and didn't this all start with September 11 in the first place?
Anyone else?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cleans Up Nice

I know, Barak, families are off limits. The media should indeed spare the innocent offspring of candidates. No scrutiny. No judging. No labels.
But what about the fiction that is being concocted before our eyes, as Levi Johnston morphs from hot-blooded hockey teen to first family pawn. What is going on here?
"Just play nice and get married, kids."
"You can still get into good schools, we will take care of that for you."
"Put this ring on before the cameras arrive."
"Better get on a plane and meet Momma's new boss."

For most of the other unwanted pregnancies in this country, the outcome will not look so bright. No marriage. No sparkly ring. No makeover and White House trip. No school. No career. No cute Juno (odd coincidence, Alaska's capitol and hit film) type ending. No support. No nanny. No forgiveness.
And many teenage girls do indeed find themselves pregnant. According to The Guttmacher Institute, almost 750,000 teenage women aged 15–19 a year in this country.
For some reason, teen pregnancy rates are much higher in the United States than in many other developed countries--twice as high as in England and Wales or Canada, and nine times as high as in the Netherlands or Japan.
We cannot assume all teen pregnancies are unintended.
Some girls get pregnant to make their partners happy. Some girls carry the mistaken belief that the babies will give them love and nurturance. And some want to get pregnant because they see other girls in their social circles getting increased attention and what seems to them increased material benefit by being mothers.
But we can help those who don't want to get married or raise a child in poverty. They certainly need more help than we are offering.
According to the CDC, efforts to decrease unintended pregnancy include finding better forms of contraception, and increasing contraceptive use and adherence.
We should be able to at least talk to our children about these things. Sex is depicted so often in advertising and entertainment, yet consequences rarely.
A pregnancy changes lives, and not always for the best.
That said, blessings on the new family.