January 28, 2009

Need Help?

Need a little help around the house?

We seem to find ourselves in the position
of having grown our own!

Very satisfying, all around.

Many Hands

For the past several years, members of the Meeting/School community at Princeton Friends have made sandwiches and packed lunches in support of the annual Mercer County count of homeless people. Last night we made over 500 sandwiches.

Please, Friends, if you see yourself in one of these pictures and would prefer that I not share it with the world, just let me know. (I like to check beforehand, but didn't have everyone's emails.)

(Hat tip to my blogfriend Ingrid
of Ice Cream is Nice Cream,
whose lovely slideshows inspired me.)

January 20, 2009

Boy's Eye View

Mr. D looks considerably perkier in this picture than he did for much of the day today, which he spent here at home, fighting a cold. Bummer.

The upside, of course, was that we got to watch today's inaugural events together. Good deal.

Having been told that he would be able to see the new President take the oath of office with his classmates, Mr. D initially struggled to adjust to the change in plans. At 11:00 he looked at the clock above our television and wistfully said, "My friends are getting ready to go to lunch now." But for the most part we were happy to be together, and excited to see the famous peaceful transfer of power.

Mr. D thought that the first Mr. Bush and his wife looked like nice people. He was surprised to learn that a father and son had both been President, and quickly made the Clinton connection as well. "It helps to be in those families," he informed me. He was stunned -- almost to the point of not believing me -- when I told him that we haven't had a woman president yet. Once he did believe me, he just shook his head in a kind of "that's just pathetic" way.

The next thing that struck Mr. D as we watched the proceedings unfold was the image of Dick Cheney and Joe Biden getting into the same car. Mr. D had seen plenty of rancorous campaign exchanges, and was almost shocked to see George W. Bush and Barack Obama walk companionably towards their car. "They look like they're friends!" he exclaimed. He had previously wondered aloud about how hard it was going to be for Mr. Bush to leave the White House (somewhere along the line Mr. D learned that the resident of the White House has a personal chef on call, which for some reason seems like heaven on earth to him, even though I would argue that on days like today he already
has a personal chef on call) (but I digress). We talked a little bit about post-game handshakes, and the fact that many countries are unable to take this level of sportsmanship for granted. He was suitably impressed.

Mr. D knew that the oath of office would be just a few words long (his school has been doing a good job of prepping the students, it seems). He was surprised and amazed to learn that Barack Obama was using the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used. He is very impressed with old things, especially because of his recent trip to the Met. (Spellcheck is giving me trouble over both Barack and Obama, by the way. Spellcheck needs to catch up.)

At one point during the parade, President Obama looked at his watch and the announcer made a comment about the event running behind schedule. Mr. D wanted to know what that meant (ah, youth!), and when I explained the concept he said, "So there could have been a few minutes of NO President!" He is such a little math head. Actually, I explained to him, the 20th amendment to our Constitution makes the transition time firm regardless of how well the inauguration is going according to plan. He seemed relieved.

He wondered about the soldiers passing the review stand, and seemed awed to learn that another name for President is Commander-in-Chief. He wanted to know if someone could be President if they were a kid ("the smartest kid ever"), and I explained that no, there are rules about who can be President, and that they include restrictions around age and place of birth. "Someone who was born in Australia can't be President? No matter how great they are? That's not FAIR!" he said. Then, a few moments later, "Wait, can someone who was born in Australia be the leader of Australia?" Yes, I said. "Oh, well, that's okay then, I guess."

There was a fair amount of power-envy -- Mr. D longs to live in the White House and order that chef around! -- to the point that he was even willing to trade places with Sasha Obama, although in his mind that meant he would then have to be a girl. Mr. D seemed to think this was an extremely bold and generous offer. (When I was growing up, Amy Carter was in the White House, and it makes me happy that Mr. D will be able to think "she's the same age as I am" about Sasha.)

He wanted to see a 3-D model of the White House, and was frustrated when he couldn't control the scale of all online maps the way he's seen me do on Google maps. I have a feeling that spending a little more time with the specs of "the Beast" will be on tomorrow's agenda.

Help Us To Make Choices

The Reverend Joseph Lowery:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.

Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day.

We pay now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration.

He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national, and indeed the global, fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.

Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you are able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union.

And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.

With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.

This Land

Pete Seeger, leading a chorus of thousands in a joyful rendition of the song Bruce Springsteen thinks might be the best ever written about America:

And did you see this amazing NYT info-graphic? Love it.

44 Words

Image unattributed.
Sorry, I forgot where I found this image;
I hope its owner won't mind me using it here.

Our son was eight days old when the planes hit. I sat in our livingroom, rocking him and wondering what kind of world we’d brought him into. How would I explain this to him? Today’s explaining comes easier. Still complex, but rooted in joy.

(Thanks to Melissa of
Practical Brown Bob for her inspiration.
D's staying home sick today.

Hope he'll be well enough
to watch some history with me.)


A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president. O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears-- for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger-- at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort-– at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience-- and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility-- open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance-- replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity-- remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States. Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand-- that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace. AMEN.

(In other news, we had a wonderful Saturday visit
with Auntie 'Nish and a satisfying wander-through
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art;
some stories and pictures to appear here
once life settles down a bit, I think.)

January 06, 2009

Slip Sliding Away

(Image: Ondra Soukup via Flickr)

Tama brought home a pretty great true life story tonight.

It's been raining for the past few hours. And she's been hard at work, it being January and all. When she finally decided to come on home, the temperature had just started to flirt with the freezing point. Walk to the garage? Too slippery. Wait for the bus? Too cold. Finally she pulled up her collar and walked it, carefully making her way down campus to the garage, only to be stopped by a serious-looking member of the public safety crew, flanked by two fellow officers.

"Is your car parked on the upper level, ma'am?" he asked.

Thinking oh man, what? did I leave my lights on?, she said, "Yyyesss...."

"Well, ma'am, you're not going to be able get to your car tonight."

"I beg your pardon?"

"The upper deck is completely iced over, ma'am, and we've had one lady try to drive out and, well, she couldn't, so we're here to stop anyone else from trying."

Tama: "Yikes! Okay, what should I do?"

"Can you call someone for a ride?"

Tama: "Well, my seven year old is fast asleep at home in bed, and the only other person in the house is his other mother, so... no, not really."

"Well, where do you live?"

Tama: "Over on Xandsuch."

"You know what, ma'am? That's not that far. How about we just drive you home?"

Apparently at least one of the other restricted drivers was far less flexible than my lovely partner. Suffice it to say that the officers were practically fighting over the right to give Tama a ride.
And that, my friends, is how she got her first-ever no-charge, uniformed-officer-provided, door-to-door ride home.

Things are supposed to thaw out again tomorrow.

(No one is wearing her jammies inside out, BTW,
so there WILL be school tomorrow.)

January 03, 2009

Strain Your Brain

Aw, c'mon! Just FIVE points away from the dreaded level seven?! This is almost as much fun as online SET.

January 02, 2009

For Richer or Poorer

"For richer or poorer" is a phrase taken straight out of the standard marriage vows. It's a phrase I've never uttered, at least not in a ceremonial context.

My partner and I are not married, as we are not currently afforded that opportunity under US federal law. Since Proposition 8's passage in November, many gay and lesbian couples in the US are feeling like the "poorer" part of that equation has come to pass.

A friend this morning told me that she'd written a letter to the editor about President-Elect Obama's selection of evangelical preacher (and Proposition 8 supporter) Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama's inauguration.

The pragmatist in me likes what Heather Gold has to say on the subject. Although I was also grateful to read my friend Melissa Harris-Lacewell's Not In My Name post.

But I haven't spent enough time thinking about it to develop a nuanced opinion of my own. I've been living without the benefit of societal sanction for so long that my status a second-class citizen has stopped feeling like something that requires emergency attention. Sad but true.

The good news? My friend who is facing eviction has found a new place to live and will be moving within the next few weeks. My friend who lost her job still has a roof over her head and plans to send me a copy of her resume to look at. My friend who was afraid her family wouldn't be able to afford health insurance says that she thinks her husband's new job might pan out after all. For now, anyway, those in my immediate circle seem able to keep the wolves at bay.

As more and more people may be facing the tangible stresses associated with financial poverty, I pray that we won't lose sight of the needs of those who are teetering on the brink of emotional bankruptcy. And I don't mean me.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)

What I Learned From 2008

Look, Ma, one hand!
(Mr. D perfecting his moves in his after-school program.)

2008 was a great year, full of surprises and small satisfactions.

I just treated myself to a meander through my posts from 2008, and have selected a few for my end-of-the-year highlight wrap-up, going from most recent to oldest:

Be Late

Sometimes, being late is the responsible choice.

Reacting to Others' Losses
Talk less. Listen more.

Are you treasuring yours?

Lessons from Camp
So much to learn!

Forever Family Day
Celebrate the things that make you stronger.

More Sky
Honor your losses.

Baby Freeze
If you want to learn something, track down an expert. (Hint: they're all on YouTube now.)

Snow Day
We only had one snow day in 2008, but I've been coasting on this memory ever since. I defy you to watch this video without smiling.

Mr. D's Times Tables
Sometimes it's worth doing something hard just so you can look back at it and think, "I did that."

Saturday Afternoon at the Kitchen Table
We can support each other in our creativity while doing very different things.

Go, Auntie Nish!
Given careful and loving attention, small ideas can turn into giants.

(Thanks to those friends
who pop in over here periodically,
and a special thanks to those
who even leave an occasional comment!
Thanks, too, to Robert Hruzek
for his "What I Learned From"
call for submissions.)