300 Little Desert Flowers are waiting for a sponsor in 2015

I will be sponsoring a girl this year to protect her from FGM- won’t you join me?

Desert Flower - The Blog

300 parents brought their daughters this weekend to our paediatrician Dr. Francis Sessay to confirm their physical integrity, in order to take part in the “Save a Little Desert Flower” sponsorship project. All of them signed contracts and are now waiting for a sponsor for 2015.

Please help us to give these girls a future without FGM and forced marriages!

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Because I didn’t feel like waiting till November to talk about…

Voting

“Remember those who died to give us the right to vote.” I hear this (or some such derivative of it) all the time here in Texas, especially in the fall. Needless to say as much as I love my state I also see it as a good opportunity to develop my patience skills daily. Sometimes hourly. The people saying it invariably mean: thank the military, as if that is the main goal of the military complex. And as if the biggest threat, historically and presently, to our voting rights is some shadowy foreign power we need the military to protect us from. The truth is and was darker than that.

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I don’t know how many other 35 year olds have a 1917 “Votes for Women” poster on their living room wall, but this one does. I guess the fact that Raggedy Ann has been around for 9 years longer than my gender has had the right to vote just strikes home for me. So when I remember “those who died to give me the right to vote” I remember Mary Paul who fought and died to help give me, female that I am, that right. Women and men were beaten, tortured, and imprisoned for trying to give women the vote. Mary died for it. So I don’t care if you spend 3 hours on that ridiculous nail art- those nails should be clicking against the screen in a voting booth when you have the chance!

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(Seriously. I don’t get the nail art thing. At all. Sooo at all. But whatever, I’ll protect your right to waste your time if you want! Freedom!)

I also remember all the people who died spreading the right to vote; including James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Micky Schwerner who were murdered in 1964 during Freedom Summer. 1964. That means people were killed for trying to bring the right to vote to their fellow citizens a year after the computer mouse, Weight Watchers, and Brad Pitt came into existence. Why do I care so much about that? Because by god if you have to be touched by injustice yourself before you’ll care about it that makes you a terrible person!

History should be faced with open eyes, not squinted at sideways through pink Oakleys. Which are ugly anyway but that isn’t the point. The truth is that those who died to protect our right to vote were our fellow citizens and they were killed… by our fellow citizens. But by god, look who won! It was at such a terrible price, though… and I don’t forget.

I remember.

(image by Turneor)

Foray into Fiction: Goodbye

So… here’s an odd piece that’s been hanging out in my writing file for a few years. I wrote this for a writing contest that had to involve a voicemail message… which I then promtly missed the submittal  deadline on. Do I like it? Am I proud of it? Sure it isn’t my best… and I find it pretty dark. but I do like it. And since it seems to be so conveniently blog post length…

Goodbye

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Hey, this is Brian, leave me a message and I’ll call you back.

*Beep!*

“Hi Babe, it’s me. Look, I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry I yelled at you on that last message. You didn’t deserve that… actually, you did deserve it, don’t we all know that! But I’m sorry I did it. I’m just so sorry these days. I’m tired too, but that’s no excuse for yelling.

People just won’t leave me alone, it feels like. They keep calling. You know who keeps calling? Your brother! Isn’t that weird? Four calls in two days. I know he’s trying to be nice, but Jesus! I have other things to do than have awkward conversations about pasta. Your Dad’s pretty broken up- I saw them today. Your dad looked scared, honestly. And your mom, she just keeps moving forward, that woman.

I dreamed about you last night. God, you looked twenty five, maybe? And you smiled that smile at me, and we just fell, face to face, over a cliff… over the bed, I don’t know. But God was I happy to see you.

Look, I don’t have your password. So when these messages fill up on your voicemail I won’t be able to listen to them. Don’t want to anyway. I don’t want to hear it if she left you a message. I couldn’t handle listening to her say something and imagining it would have made you smile. That would be too much, I think. She didn’t make it either, by the way. You’d think I should be happy about that, but I’m not. Somebody should have survived at least.

And besides, I don’t want to hear what I must sound like right now. Bit of pride right there, I guess. So when your voicemail fills up I’ll cancel your phone. No more late night nagging calls from your wife; any husband’s dream right there, right? Maybe that’s this one. I don’t know.”

“I love you.”

“I miss you.”

“ ‘Bye.“

Click.

Dialing…

Hey, this is Brian…”

(image by Gary Tamin)

The Occasional Recipe Post: Coq au Vin

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(Image by Silke Rabung)

This recipe has a special place in my heart because it was on my Maternity Leave Bucket List when I was home with my second daughter. I decided to have a list to accomplish during that time with the second one because with my firstborn it seems like I pretty much didn’t leave the house for nine weeks and watched Magnum P.I. three times a day. (LOT of sitting around when you’re nursing a newborn; turns out.) A nice, involved recipe is good for getting you sane through a variety of trying times, not just new parenthood;  such as every single Sunday afternoon ever.

This is an old French recipe, and I’m sure about 65,350,000 French citizens will think I am royally jacking this up. But they put rooster feet and a cup of blood in theirs; so I can live with the French contempt. (With more French contempt.) And you need one bottle minus one glass (for le chef, of course) of red wine for this recipe and make it a middling to good one. Why go to all this trouble and have bad wine ruin the whole thing? Go ahead. Indulge a bit.

My least favorite thing about this recipe is peeling the pearl onions, but just consider it a lesson in patience. Feel free to watch a whole episode of Magnum P.I. while you do it- it makes the time go by faster. You won’t get tips like that from Julia Child! But don’t skimp or shortchange the quantity of them- you’ll thank me. And besides, Magnum P.I. is total gold. I will tell you, though I found it a pain, that if you boil them for 2-3 minutes and then put them in cold water immediately the onion jackets should slide right off. I must have done that one wrong though because it didn’t turn out that way… I’ll stick with the Magnum P.I. method, myself.

6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs

1/3 cup all purpose flour

Salt and pepper

6 slices of bacon

8 oz Cremini mushrooms, cut in half

2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces

12oz beef broth

1.5 Tbsp. tomato paste

25-30 small white pearl onions, peeled

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 fresh bay leaf (or 1 dried, if fresh unavailable)

4 sprigs fresh thyme (1.5 tsp. dried, if fresh unavailable)

1 bottle (minus one cup) quality red wine – Pinot Noir preferred

1 package Egg noodles (12 oz.)

*small handful minced flat leaf parsley for garnish

In your biggest pot over medium low heat cook the bacon, being careful not to burn. While that is cooking mix the flour, salt, and pepper together on a plate and then dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture. Remove the bacon, once it is cooked, and then increase the heat to medium in the pot. Brown the chicken pieces in batches in the bacon grease, and remove to a plate. Add 1 tbsp butter, if needed to any remaining bacon grease and sauté the pearl onions, carrots, garlic, mushrooms and celery. Remove vegetables from pot. Pour off any remaining grease or oil, carefully. Place the pot over medium heat again and deglaze the pot with a cup or so of red wine. Add chicken, vegetables, thyme, bay leaf, remaining wine, tomato paste, and beef broth to barely cover the chicken and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Cook the egg noodles in a separate pot, drain and return to pot. Place one chicken thigh on a bed of noodles in individual bowls and spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with the minced parsley.

From the Paper: Chaos Theory

I find the opinion pages of my small town Texas newspaper to be a daily lesson in patience. Most of the time I can be that water-resistant backed duck. But sometimes… Perhaps it’s simply that any kind of nationalism (yes, even our own) strikes me as a bad idea.  Odd to hear coming from a Texan? Who loves her state yet realizes calling it “the best” is an opinion based on bias and lack of knowledge on the others? Yup. Hi there, that’s me! Extrapolate that out to all nations, cultures, ethnicities, and races and that there is my world view. So anyone claiming to be “the best!” gets my back up, and strident whining about how everyone else should appreciate said bestedness even more so. Toss some twisting of historical fact and thinly veiled Hitler praise in there and I get all fired up. Same as the last time I wrote a post like this I’m not posting the letter to the editor I responded to here… due to possible issues with my local newspaper and because I’m not giving the author a forum for his words to go one step further in the world so maybe this is a bit cryptic. I’d like to think it can standalone in this way though let me know if not and I’ll work the next one differently.

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Chaos Theory and that thing Mr. O said about 1941

Let’s talk “Butterfly Effect” briefly- and I’m talking chaos theory, not the 2004 movie with Ashton Kutcher. It gets oversimplified into this: the possibility that a hurricane in North America may be caused by a butterfly flapping its wings in China, and all of the aftereffects that result from that small action. Now, there are some problems with this theory, I’ll admit. One of the main ones: Could you really say with certainty, after the fact, which butterfly was responsible for a specific result? The other problem with the theory, as I see it, is that due to such rampant pollution I’m really not sure how many butterflies are left in China. Come to think of it, it has been a pretty quite hurricane season…

When this concept is taken out of the realm of just butterflies and applied to man it basically boils down to this: every action has an effect on the present and therefore changes the future. I’m not going to pick apart each of the claims Mr. O makes about the German influence on history… except for one. (We’ll get back to that.) I’ll just state that his assertion that “there would be no USA or Europe as we know it today (without Germans)” is only accurate if we realize there truly would be no USA or Europe as we know it today without every single action of every single one of the people of the world. Chaos theory. Butterfly effect. The past changes the future. It is a beautiful way of seeing the world and is one of the main reasons I love history as much as I do.

Now…let’s talk the German invasion of Russia in 1941 that Mr. O states was to protect Christianity. Go ahead and look up who ordered that action, called Operation Barbarossa and why it was ordered… no don’t do it on Wikipedia! Sheesh, use a reputable source… go ahead. I’ll wait here. Found who ordered it? Little bit shocked, aren’t you, that anyone would have the absolute chutzpah to trot out anything that guy did as heroic, protecting Christianity, or anything worthy of praise? Yeah, me too. And for anyone who didn’t look that up- here’s a hint: he’s wiped a specific form of mustache off the list of acceptable facial hair for well over six decades now. Was it done to defend Christianity?  Do butterflies flap their wings to make hurricanes? Or do they do it to preemptively invade Russia to defend the Third Reich from a perceived threat on its Eastern front? Now, the cause of the invasion can actually be proven (there is, not totally unexpectedly, a plethora of very well-organized notes and directives concerning it) but the final effect is what is up for some interpretation from us today. So there you go, that gives you free reign to interpret and have opinions on the results of factual events in history… just not to misinterpret the motivations or to be piecemeal about the facts themselves.

(Image courtesty of Jean Scheijen)

Random Picture Friday

Low on inspiration for blog posts? Or have SO many things to possibly write/think about; surgery, new carpeting, health insurance decisions, phone plan decisions, real estate decisions, vehicle decisions, work decisions… that you just want to take a nap instead? Well have I got the blog post for you! Here’s how it works: Press the Random Picture generator on a free images website. Press it repeatedly until you get to a picture you cleave to, but pretend you only take the first one that pops up.Write zippy comment(s) about said picture… and you’re done! Without further ado, may I present to you:

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Image courtesy of Gölin Doorneweerd – Swijnenburg

A load of carp- first time ever that has been typed and not been a typo. We’re making history here folks!

I’m scraping to bottom of that carp barrel, so you’ll just need to give me a pass on this one.

Happy Friday!