Archive for November, 2007

Funny how things work out. At the beginning of this month when I started the whole NaBloPoMo thing, I would not have suspected November would end up with an obscenity of the XXX variety, but it has.

It seems that budget constraints and an abrupt shift in editorial policy, or something, has prompted Adoption.com, one of my employers over the past couple of years, to terminate the contract of their highest paid and most uncompromising blogger: me.

I have not been provided with any official explanation; in fact, there has been no explanation at all no matter how many times one is asked for by me or other bloggers confounded by my sudden departure. A change in editors in October did signal changes in the wind, however, and the handwriting began to appear on the wall when I decided to discontinue the assistant editor role I had stepped up for.

Is it a money issue? (They did bounce paychecks recently.) Has my advocacy for adoption been more than the site is willing to support?

It most certainly can’t be my lack of dedication, as I have been the most prolific of all writers having posted hundreds of well-researched blogs over the past two years.

It can’t be a lack of talent, because I can put words together well and keep to topic.

It can’t be for lack of readers, because before Adoptionblogs.com began hemorrhaging bloggers and listing dead blogs by the dozen I was topping out at more than 100,000 hits per month.

Yes, I did manage to piss off a few people along the way. The looney fringe of the adoption community whipped themselves into a frenzy over some of my posts … and, yes, I can hear them jumping up and down, elated over my temporary departure from the adoption blogging world. (Enjoy it while you can, ladies. Oh! and those three guys.)

Should I mention that the new “editor”, someone who freely admits on her personal blog that she can’t write … Whose bright idea was it to put someone like this in an editorial position? … is a birth mother? Should I read anything into this? (I don’t want to. I really don’t want to. But so many of the personal attacks, the truly hideous assults I have suffered over the years, have come from that angle of the triad and I can’t ignore the connection.)

Since she removed my access to the blogs before I had an opportunity to adios my wonderful readers there, I’ll just invite you all to continue to join me here.

I’m rather sick of the adoption world for the moment, however … rampant abuse and nastiness tends to do that, and XXX feels as bad as it looks and leaves one sore … but, as always, I’m happy to help out when I can.

It is a bit strange that after writing so much about abuse in the world, I find myself the victim of those who provided the platform. I’m still trying to figure out what that says about them, but I’m sure it isn’t pretty.

I do know the real world, however … I’ve seen first-hand how cruel, how base, how downright evil people can be … so I should not be surprised by bad people doing wrong things.

No matter how old I get, though, I’m still side-swiped by petty meanness and a tendency to behave badly. I simply expect better of people.

I’m happy about that part of me.

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Sweet Polska

3 December, 1942

We had an menorah on the farm that passed from mother to daughter for more than 150 years, a praxis I failed to follow. I did not forget it, there was simply no room.

Zelik remembers it in detail, and the holidays it centered those first five years. Gitla does not, and knows only the rough wooden chanukkiah carved with a lick and a promise by Uncle Josek last year, finishing, just as he did, a day before we lit the first candle. She loves it, insisting in her delicate, yet determined way that she can still see his hands smoothing the edges as his thumbnail embossed the Star of David under the shammus.

Having lost more people by the age of four than I knew during my entire childhood, perhaps she can. I fight against any acknowledgment of my daughter’s mantic tinge; her claim on this as the last hanukka chills my bones far deeper than the hoary drifts of ashen Warsaw firn, and I would much rather think her theatrical than clairvoyant.

Thank God I do not see future — it is ataraxia I seek, and that lives only in shades past — and I pray the zeitgeist of my time does not end up matching the writing on the walls of this Ghetto: Verboten! Under penalty of death.

They took Rywka and Mendel this morning. The children, too, of course. As they shuffled down the stairs she passed me a small parcel and whispered, “A mentsh tracht und Gott lacht.”*

My sister! Surrounded by Gestapo, the camps and worse only hours away, yet managing to go on her own terms in a small way.

I don’t know what I expected to find wrapped in that bit of newsprint, but a semilunar slice of contraband halva would not have been on any list. Rywka must have been saving this for months, maybe longer, and planning to share it out amongst the children over the holiday.

Well, it will not go to waste.

Tonight we will light the candle either serendipity or thieving placed in Zelik’s crafty little hands and both of my children will know the sticky, sapid sensation a little slice of sweetness can bring, even here, even now. There are so many fewer to share, so they will gorge and not leave a morsel.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiyemanu, vehigi-anu laz’man hazeh.**

We are alive. My little man, Zelik, too thin, too mean, a rabid fox of a child which is why I still have him. My Gitla, frail, all dark eyes and nightmares. Me, their mother, offering havla as we once again celebrate the first night of the Festival of Lights, the miracle of oil.


Ek velt.***

For tonight, though … Happy Hanukka.

I wonder why it is that only Passover prompts the wish, “Next year in Jerusalem”?


*A person plans and God laughs.

**Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us in life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.

*** End of the world.

(This is another brain exercise for the Answers.com writing challenge. The “must use and link words” are: a lick and a promise, ataraxia, contraband, halva, mantic, praxis, sapid, semilunar, serendipity and zeitgeist. I added a few of my own for the linky bit, just for drill.)

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Anyone who reads my pro blogs with any regularity … avec their morning dose of prune juice, for example … has sensed that I am not terribly keen on the United Nations.

My International Adoption blog features an entire category dedicated to taking the UNavailing organization to task and encouraging folks to look forward to a time when it is defUNct.

Most recently, the issue was Burma and the idiotic take the UN’s “special envoy” … and just exactly what does make these people so special? … was spouting.

I didn’t see the press conference, but I have to assume that it was conducted upside down, as there is no way that praise for changes in Burma could come from anywhere other than someone’s ass.

Now, Ibrahim Gambari, the UN butt talker, is playing tag in Cambodia with Burma’s prime minister in what can only be another typically UNsavory move to run up the travel budget while appearing to have some concerns over the jUNta.

If you have interest in this issue, which at it’s foundation is the bones and blood of human rights … the supposed mandate of the UN … take a look at this report from The Heritage Foundation which carefully points out the relationship between the UN and the brutal jUNta that rules in Burma.

Here’s a taste:

The United Nations was founded in 1945 to maintain international peace and security and undertake collective measures to remove threats to peace; to promote equal rights and self-determination of peoples; to help solve problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character; and to encourage “social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” In the Charter, member states pledge “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women.”[1] U.N. treaties and conventions, such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which the General Assembly passed in 1948, form the core of international standards for human rights.

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It’s a big dividing point between American expats as far as maintaining a capacity to take in and digest present day events in the country, the 12th of June 1994.

You are forgiven if the date doesn’t set bells clanging, as events of the day easily float to the bottom of the cesspool that started filling then and continues to this day. To put it simply, this was the day Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were brutally butchered in a Southern California condo.

What followed could now probably be traced as the headwaters of Reality TV, and it ended with OJ Simpson winning the “Got Away With Murder” award.

People living in the States through that process followed along, joined the discussion, watched the glove show-and-dance, knew what Johnnie Cochran drank, how F. Lee Bailey took his coffee and what Marcia Clark was going to do next with her hair. Who didn’t have an opinion on Lance Ito, was more than a bit uncomfortable with Mark Fuhrman or thought Kato Kaelin was a moron? Eating, drinking and sleeping the OJ trail was common behavior as a cult-like fixation drew in more and more media junkies.

The verdict brought whatever emotions it brought, and those who lived through it can still be brought to a froth over specifics.

Those who left the country BOJ (Before OJ) … me, for instance … certainly heard about the case, most likely a lot, but didn’t live and breathe it. We weren’t surrounded by the story, didn’t run into video of white Mustangs and blood-soaked walkways twice a day, and weren’t assailed by details, speculation and conjecture every time we turned on a radio or opened a newspaper. We didn’t live with OJ’s oversized smirk popping up on every corner, live coverage and endless footage of the same scenes and statements over and over and over again.

Because we missed all this, we never moved into the groove that grew accustomed to the frenzy, that began to see the hype as justifiable and the massive media as a citizen’s right to know, and we didn’t for a moment see the verdict coming. In other words, we found ourselves left out of the loop that found getting away with murder a logical consequence of celebrity.

Much that has happened since in America remains puzzling to BOJs like me. The 2000 presidential election is one example; the bullshit blind involvement in Iraq, another.

Today, it’s a CNN piece that has me scratching my head … the one about the University of Pennsylvania professor who beat his wife to death last year as she wrapped Christmas presents. He’s finally fessed up and is likely to do 4.5 to 7 years for his crime.

Excuse me, but WTF kind of sentence is that?

And what kind of sentences are these … ?

“What kept them there [in the marriage] was their undying love for their daughter Olivia,” said Art Gregory, who is now raising the girl. “Both of them put Olivia first, beyond anything else, unfortunately to a very tragic end.”

Rafael Robb apologized to Olivia, who was not in court, and said he was “very remorseful.”

“I know she liked her mother. … And now she doesn’t have a mother,” he said, stifling tears..

This is how cold-blooded murder is covered in the US today? With “stifling tears” and not one single mention of how appalling it is that a creep who bludgeoned his wife to death in the middle of her Christmas prep will probably be out by Christmas 2009 … having to do his own gift wrap, thankyouverymuch … seeing as how he’s unlikely to find a wife to kill while in prison, so should get time off for good behavior, and probably also for time served while hoping to slip the noose without having to admit that he bloody well did it?

Like coming into “Lost” in the second season, having missed the OJ show I just can’t get up to speed with so much in America these days and the point of the plot is lost on me completely.

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I have a political question for today:

Are folks in America as hot over the YouTube “debates” as they look to be from out here where CNN comes only in brief, but enthusiastic spurts?

I heard the hype leading up to the Democrats doing their version of “Who Do You Trust”, and now that it’s Republicans about to step into the limelight, it seems the same attempt at frenzy whipping is happening.

For the first time in presidential debate history, user-generated video will drive two unprecedented debates.

Be still, my pounding heart.

Do people actually perceive this song and dance as some sort of prime example of true democracy in action? Or does everyone know that these are just the latest “reality programming” offerings, but with a longer wait for gratification as there is a bit of a twist on the voting procedures?

Is the process to choose a new leader of the free world now the same as deciding who is in and who is out of the house, off the island, the next pop star du jour?

Voters must realize that there is nothing democratic in the process that decides which videos make the cut, which don’t get a second look, and which are only used as teasers in the ad campaign leading up to the show. Someone with quite the agenda in tow is picking and choosing. The manipulation has to be obvious to one and all, and surely the idea of CNN in charge must give pause for thought. Mustn’t it?

“YouTube enables voters and candidates to communicate in a way that simply was not possible during the last election,” said Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube. “For the first time in the history of presidential debates, voters from around the country will be able to ask the future president of the United States a question in video form and hear the answer.”

“These debates take the bold step of embracing the ever-increasing role of the Internet in politics,” said Jim Walton, CNN Worldwide president. “The inclusion of the massive online community enables these debates to engage more viewers – and potential voters – than ever before.”


So putting debate questions in “video form” somehow elevates that material above the living room dialog of the Iowa Caucuses or the coffee stops in New Hampshire? And because this was “simply not possible during the last election” it’s assumed to be a good thing?

Suppose next time around it’s possible to pose YouCube questions to candidates in 3D, will that guarantee a freer, less corrupt America and assure that the person with the most votes wins?

All one must do to get the true point of this for CNN is to substitute good demographic market targets where Jim Walton parenthetically positioned “potential voters”.

Want to embrace the ever-increasing roll of the Internet in politics? Get candidates to start blogs where anyone can ask questions, make comments, demand straight answers, and be able to search archives. Sure, it would be a massive amount of work, but politics ain’t for sissies … plus they could do it in their jammies from anywhere.

If Americans are truly concerned about moving the election process into the 21st Century, they should be demanding an end to the Electoral College instead of letting Anderson Cooper run the show.

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They’re doing well, Dinah’s puppies, and growing so fast I can almost see the size increase as it happens, especially around the belly. Dinah is a good mom and has been very attentive, but now that her brood is approaching 3 weeks of age she’s spending more and more time away from them.

Can’t say that I blame her! Eight pups latched on and sucking for all they’re worth has to be draining in more ways than lactation can account for. There’s nothing subtle about a bottomless pit o’ pup, and there are a lot of those here, and a few hours of peace and quiet in the garden or a friendly romp with another adult dog must feel like a little bit of heaven to a mother of eight.

(I know I could sound so much more professional about all this dog and breeding stuff if I referred to Dinah as a bitch, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. She’s such a sweet girl.)

Voracious as these guys are, solid food is already relished as you can see, and because of that, I’m guessing, their mother is less interested in cleaning up after them. (Can you blame her? I am SO glad we humans don’t have to tidy our children the same way other animals do. Sure, it would save on wipes, but … blech!) With proliferating piles of puppy poop plopping on my porch, we’re moving the whole family down to the kennel today. It won’t be as easy to schmooze a pooch when they’re not right under foot, but having them elsewhere will freshen the air up here considerably and provide me with a good excuse to take a longer break more often.

I’ve taken some shots this morning, but they’re not great. The pups are almost more than a handful now, so it’s a lot harder to get a decent photo of them.

A good mom
Dinah and pups

Eyes open, but is anybody home?
Eyes open

A handful, and with big feet

Solid food!
Solid food

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Ahhhh, Saturday. The weekend. The break between one work week and the next. A chance to … to … to what?

Around here, it’s a chance to play a game of Scrabble with Gay while the kids hang with dad in the garden, pitching in with the yard work … or pretending to … while a relaxed and quiet atmosphere prevails.

Or not.

Today, not only did we have the now-constant racket of puppies a-whinin’ and a-howlin’ and perpetually-hungerin’ loud enough to beat the band somewhere in the upper octaves, these often ear-splitting wails were accompanied by the whine-whirl, vroom-vroom of weed-wacker, the deeper bass growl of chain saw, with assorted power tool embellishments.

Yes, it was men-doing-stuff day, and in my world that means NOISE.

From eight o’clock this morning until about fifteen minutes ago I could, almost literally, not hear myself think. Three men doing stuff … cutting the grass, building something, propping up the banana trees, getting the kennel ready for the puppies to move off the verandah … can make my Saturdays a practice in concentration, a day-long search for a quiet moment, wistful wishing that I still owned a mouth guard so I could take some measure to keep my teeth from rattling out of my head.

Our house is a work in progress, so some Saturdays include carpentry work. Our garden is over an acre of lush growth, so the grass needs cutting and shrubs need pruning and coconuts need picking up. Mark’s list of chores never seems to get any shorter, so there’s always something that needs doing, and just about everything requires some piece of equipment with a motor attached to do it.

There’s an hour lull for lunch … Didn’t I just clean this kitchen? … when the machines are switched off and the mouths on. With the conversation completely in Creole, I don’t spend any time trying to listen in, not that I’d need to strain my ears. Three Seychellois men munching down fried mackerel and baked breadfruit somehow manage to carry on conversation without pause and seem to crank up the volume with every bite. The talk must be engrossing, as there’s not even a second’s let up, but whenever I ask Mark what all the yack was about, like an evasive teen his answer is always, “Nothing.”

Lunch over, it’s vroom, growl, whine all over again, and seeming even louder for the absence.

Knowing that think time would be limited, I opted to clean the shelves in my kitchen, so instead of something deep and interesting for the last NaBloPoMo Saturday post, you get this.

A thought, though, before I go …

If women worked with power tools more than men did, do you think we’d make them quieter?

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The power has been out almost all day here today, so I’ve been racing to get my pro blogs written and posted while I can and hoping something would slosh over to this one so my NaBloPoMo thing gets done.

I could write about our Thanksgiving that wasn’t or the fact that it’s Friday again already and how spooky this flying time thing is becoming. Or I could post photos of the puppies that are now two weeks old, HUGE, cute as anything and opening their eyes.


Oh! Here’s something to sink my teeth into!

The UN is calling for a ‘joint climate control effort” and Ban Ki-moon is demanding action.

Pardon my language, but give me a fucking break.

Okay, okay … yes, I detest the United Nations and see the organization as a money-sucking job justification for a whole bunch of people who should be forced to find some honest work. And Ban Ki-moon, the new guy with the new suits and the massive travel budget has not impressed one little bit, even though it should have been damned easy to after Kofi Annan.

Ban in Darfur talking about how “shocked” he was gave the perfect indication of how limited progress during his tenure will be, and now he is challenging governments to action on climate change. Sounds like global warming is as much of a surprise to him as starvation and death in Darfur.

You see, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, a UN branch of the WMO arm of UNEP for anyone impressed by the ability to make alphabet soup, has reported that climate change is real.


And Ban comes to the table from somewhere in the UNmosphere that is just getting around to hearing about this.

“I come to you humbled after seeing some of the most precious treasures of our planet threatened by humanity’s own hand,” he said.

“All humanity must assume responsibility for these treasures.”

Can we hear another “Duh”, please?

IPCC is on its fourth go-round in 20 years and is just now getting around to grinding out some numbers that put the true picture of what the planet is up against out there for the UN to take a gander at.

Too little and too late, and they’re not really going to do anything, anyway.

They’re in Bali next month to do some yacking about what we’re up against, and it’s certain that yacking will be all that’s done … well, in addition to schmoozing and preparing some really expensive, but oh-so-official-looking reports.

Here’s a link to the IPCC report in pdf. Read it and know more than the Secretary General of the UN ever will. Add the info to what you already know, and know more than anyone at the UN ever will.

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I am thankful. I am SO thankful. I am really, really thankful.

I am thankful for my life, the fact that I have had one and that I still have one. The emergency heart surgery in Singapore in ’99 was a close shave that puts me in mind every day of what a gift each is.

I am thankful for the miracles that are my children and am perpetually astounded at the people they are and how lucky I have been to have them in my life.

I am thankful for my husband, for his kind and loving nature, his generous spirit, his humor, and for the circumstances that allowed us to find each other even though he was on one side of the planet while I was on the other.

I am thankful for all my family, for my friends, for the people sharing the same plane of cyberspace I cruise.

I am thankful for my home, for clean air and clear water, the comforts my life provides, for the timing and circumstances of my birth that have allowed me to live without war in my back yard or the horrors of life as a refugee. I have never been truly hungry, and neither have my children, and that’s enough right there to fall on my knees in appreciation for.

Because my life is as wonderful as it is, I have the time and energy today to wallow in misery, and although that may sound like a mouthful of sour grapes, there is no way I can let this day pass without spending a good bit of it sad as anything and ready to burst into tears at the drop of a pilgrim’s hat. I am miserable in honor of all that I have that I no longer have access to, and as happily content as my life is now my losses still deserve commemorating, so here goes …

Today I miss my mother. I miss my oldest daughter and my granddaughter. I miss my grown son. I miss my brothers, their families, their humor and their appetites. I miss green Jell-O. I miss the country that celebrates thanksgiving so wonderfully and enthusiastically. I miss a chill in the air and the sight of my own breath. I miss the smell of sycamore leaves. I miss pumpkin pies cooling on my mom’s washing machine and the pattern on her good china. I miss the company of those who have known me for all their lives or all of mine. I miss sharing memories of Thanksgivings past with people who where there. I miss a shared comprehension of what it means to eat turkey and how important variations in stuffing can be. I miss hand-print gobblers on fridges. I miss my childhood, or at least the good parts. I miss the drive up I-5 and my mother’s kitchen.

I rue the fact that I could be in California today, that Mark and the kids and I, had we planned well and done what needed to be done, would right now be a couple of hours away from waking up on Thanksgiving morning and preparing to sit down to an early dinner with some portion of my family somewhere, if not the whole fam damily … if the planning had gone really well.

As I say every fourth Thursday in November: Next year, for sure.

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After a couple of days of posting fears and complaints about the direction this beautiful country is taking these days, I’d like to provide a link to a small, hopeful glimmer that has to do with people trying to hang on to some of the beauty of the country.

Here is a blog written by a guy who is in the country on behalf of the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone corvine), one of the rarest birds in the world.

It’s well worth the click. Enjoy.

I should probably mention that this bird lives only on the island of LaDigue, one of the nearby inner granite islands I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, and one that I haven’t visited since 1993. I can see it from the road as I drive to town, but haven’t managed a trip over there in close to 15 years. I did, however, see the illusive Flycatchere when there … a few of them, in fact.

One of these days, we’ll pop over with the kids and call it a vacation!

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