Archive for May, 2008

Sgt. Matthis Chiroux

Have you heard about Army Sgt. Matthis Chiroux?

After being honorably discarged last year and serving for four years all over the world, he’s been called back up to serve in Iraq.  He’s refused to go.  Publicly.

Make sure you read his statement.  I think it’s eloquently put and a convincing argument.

But what’s more amazing about this story is that I went to high school with Matthis Chiroux.  We weren’t extremely close, as he was two years younger than I was, but we certainly had many mutual friends and I called him one of mine.  He was at my graduation party, and I jokingly referred to his sister as my “adopted little sister.”

Matthis was a quiet, somewhat self-conscious young man who was a keen observer of the world around him.  He noticed things that other people didn’t (which is one reason I’m so pleased to see that he’s become a journalist).  He was gentle and kind.   I remember hearing through the grapevine- we didn’t stay in contact after I graduated- that he had joined the military and being sad about it.  He never struck me as the type who would be happy in that kind of environment, but as I said, I didn’t know him terribly well. 

It’s a happy occasion to hear that he’s doing well and doing something so strong and brave.  I’m so proud to know that he’s grown into the kind of man who’s willing to stand up to the military and to this adminstration and finally say “enough!”

Good for you, Matthis!  Thank-you.

See a video of the press conference here.

All links via another fellow alum, supercres.

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Teddy

Damnation! Looks like that seizure Ted Kennedy had was just the beginning of his troubles.

Here’s hoping he makes it through this. He’s one of my favorite politicians and living proof that lifelong privilege and a house on the Vineyard doesn’t mean you don’t care about poor folks. He’s a true champion for the people who need him.

Get better soon, Teddy!

Finally!

It’s here y’all.  It’s finally here.  After months of grey, bleak skies and dead trees, it is finally, freaking here.

THE GREEN!

This is what I’ve been waiting for.  I’ve stayed sane for the past 6 1/2 months because I knew this was going to be here soon.   The green of spring in Massachusetts is indescribable.  It’s shockingly green.  It’s so bright it blinds you.  It’s beautiful.   And damn y’all, it comes on fast.

It’s been creeping up on me.  Spring has been slowly coming in little fits and spurts for the last couple of months.  First the daffodils and forsythia bloomed, a sure herald of spring, but they bloomed amid dead grass and bare limbs.  The, slowly, the grass started to green-out, yet still amid the gray, dead limbs.  Finally, last month, all the flowering trees began to flower in a profusion of color and ruffly-ness.  Lovely, yes, but they were little beacons of light that glowed against the still- infuriatingly!- damn gray trees.

And then, one day, it was here.  And I mean like BAM!  On my train ride into Boston in the morning, I gazed wistfully out the window and noticed- could it be?- the little yellow glimmer of yellow leaves sprouting out of all the trees.  Then, on the ride home, it was there.  That saturated, rich green.  It’s the most beautiful sight in the world and it was all I could do not to run down the length of the train and kiss my fellow passengers on the mouth screaming “BLESS YOU THOR FOR PROVIDING US WITH THE HERALD OF SPRING.  I WILL SACRIFICE A MAN-GOAT IN YOUR HONOR LEST YOU SMITE US FOR IGNORING YOUR BOUNTY!”  I wanted to dance with satyrs in a thicket of myrtle trees whilst drinking wine out of bladders.  I settled for squee-ing to myself and then leaping into the car with Pete when he picked me up and screaming into his face THE GREEN IS HERE!  THE GREEEEEEEEN! (His response: “……ummm…Hi honey.  Did you eat that old stew beef, or something?)

Needless to say, I’m terribly pleased that I can finally put this godforsaken winter behind me and enjoy the pristine glory that is a New England spring.  It truly is spectacular.  I celebrated spring by going out and buying 40 plants for my flower garden then spending six hours on Sunday hunched over my little plot trying to avoid fainting every time I saw an earthworm  (Shut up!  They look like snakes and the make me woozy!) (Pete’s response to this odd quirk is: “What the hell kind of country-girl are you?  You’re afraid of an earthworm?  My response is: “Oh god!  There’s another one! I think I’m going to puke!”).  Brilliantly, I did this in a tank-top.  Without any sunscreen.  From 9:30-3 or so.  Well, nothing say “yay spring!” like a blistering sunburn.  They say that wearing green will make the red look less, I don’t know, freakishly startling.  So at least the trees around me are counteracting the molten-lava glow emanating off my back.  Sadly, they do nothing for the searing pain.

In lieu of an actual mother’s day post

Since I spent yesterday slaving away in a field (no, really!) building fences and digging up Jerusalem Artichokes, I wasn’t able to do a Mother’s Day post.

In all the glory that is my mom, she must have sensed my lack of being able to post so she graciously surprised me by essentially writing a post for me.

So here’s one from my mom.  Thanks, mom.  I love you very much.

_______

Taylor, your description of “working in the yard” reminded me of your now (amongst family and friends) famous gardening story…since it is Mother’s Day, I feel I have the right to share it with your blog readers…

So…. Taylor (who was around 6 years old) and I were planting daffodils and other miscellaneous bulbs in a newly dug flower bed in front of the house her dad and I were buiding…Taylor stepped back and took a long slow look at the house, the garden, the beautiful woods and the flowers we had planted…

“You know, Mommy…someday this will all be mine, right?”

“Well Taylor…you never know…when your dad and I get old we might have to sell this place to have enough money to take care of ourselves in our old age.”

Taylor looked up to me with her big, beautiful blue eyes and said in her wonderful little Smurfette voice…”Mommy, you don’t have to worry about that. By the time you get old I will be a rich and famous scientist” (she had not discovered history yet).

(Ed.  And also, I hadn’t discovered science yet, which I failed miserably at.  Who knew that science wasn’t about training dolphins and blowing stuff up?  There was like…math and shit.  What the hell is up with that?)

My heart swelled with pride…what a precious, innocent, unselfish child…in my mind I finished Taylor’s sentence…”and I wil take care of you…”

And as I was gazing down on her with the adoring look that only a mother can give to her child she said:

…”And I will put you in the finest nursing home money can buy!”

Aaaaaand…moment over.  It’s a wonder she kept me around, right?  Doesn’t that make you want to run out and have kids, so that they will tell you they are going to throw you in a home when you get old?  What a little darling I must have been.

Was that wink suggestive?

I think my conductor hit on me this morning.

Really…it was completely weird and uncharictersitic of him. Well, not that I’m in a position to know what is and what is not uncharicteristic of my conductor since my relationship with him has a depth not dissimilar to a muffin-top (of the actual muffin variety, not the dreaded clothing-induced “muffin-top“). Our relationship is thus:

Me: “Good morning!” I say brightly. Because everyone needs to hear something brightly at 7 AM.

Him: “Good morning! How are you today?”

Me: “Very well, thank-you” as I show him my pass.

Him: “Wonderful, have a nice day!”

Me: “Thank-you, you as well.”

And that’s that.

Now, occasionally this exchange is slightly different because as the train pulls into the station, he will sometimes get off and I’ll run into him on the platform and we will exchange our pleasantries as I get on the train. Simple, right? And that just the routine we’ve been having for the last several months.

(I go out of my way to be friendly to him because I can only imagine that he has a difficult job. He not only checks my ticket at 7 AM which means he has probably been at work for at least an hour already, but he is also the person that checks my tickets when I am coming home at 5 PM, which means he has had a LONG day. It’s likely that they have a much longer break midday than I do, but still, that’s a long time to be away from your home. And not only is he there for all that time pacing back and forth along the cramped aisles of a moving train, but he’s always friendly to everyone. So I’m always friendly back.)

But today, things took a suprising turn. As I was getting on the train this morning, we had our usual conversation and then he said, “by the way, I really like your jacket.” This is not in anyway unusual because I am in possession of what must be one of the most fabulous, magical jackets in the history of the world. People LOVE this jacket. I am not exaggerating when I say that complete strangers have stopped me on the street to compliment this jacket, multiple times. And remember that I live in Boston, and people on the street here are not friendly. Most of these people wouldn’t alter their path to avoid stepping on an old lady who fell on the sidewalk, much less strop a stranger to give her a compliment. It’s a good jacket, is what I’m saying.

So he says, “By the way, I really like your jacket. It looks good on you.” And then, y’all, then he winked at me.

Weird. And yucky. And (WICKED) awkward.

And now I’m nervous about coming home on the train tonight because he went and awkwardized our casual, friendly exchanges. And I can’t tell, was that a flirtatious wink? Would my 40 year old conductor be trying to flirt with me? Or was it just a friendly, playful wink? But still, does he think he knows me well enough to be giving me playful winks? I think regardless, it has offended my southern sensibilities. Because I am a delicate and sensitive flower. Ahem.

BUT IT WAS WEIRD, RIGHT? Wouldn’t that weird you out?

What’s your greendex?

This is a neat little quiz by National Geographic that allows you to test your impact by answering a few multiple choice questions and then comparing it to the “greendexes” of other countries around the world.

I got a score of 50, which better than average, but still not as high as I would like.  When I start getting food from our farm and growing some of our own veggies, it will be higher, but as long as we drive as much as we do, it will never be as high as I’d like.

What’s your score?

What can you do to make it better?

via DailyKos

Animal, Vetgable, Miracle

On a lark, I checked out the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver during a hurried trip to the Boston Public Library on my lunch break last Wednesday. I count the proximity of this storied and august institution one of the best perks of my job. At a fast clip, and luck with traffic lights, I can get there in 10-12 minutes. That leaves me a luxurious 30-35 minutes to pick up a few books, ponder frescoes, and eat lunch in what I am convinced is Boston’s best kept secret. But before I give away that secret and bring the flocks of my many (read: one) (Hi Rhea!) Boston readers, let me get back to this book I checked out.

Like I said, a lark. I have never read one of her books, though my sister and the woman who is essentially my surrogate mother both like her. The cover caught my eye for two reasons. First, because it was green- green in a sea of non-fiction somberness. And not just any green- it was the green that I am craving. The green of fresh trees and the first precious blades of long-awaited grass that are so beautiful it is all I can do not to fall to my knees and cuddle it to my weary bosom. Second, because of the beans on the front cover that are enormous and beautiful. They struck me. See:

I vaguely remember my sister and the surrogate mom talking about this book the last time that I was in Alabama, but uncharacteristically, I didn’t pay attention (Oh! Shiny!). I caught something about food on the cover so I figured it was a cookbook of sorts. I was right, but only barely.

I’m not exaggerating when I was this book changed my life. And I don’t mean in the way the 90 BBC television series The Vicar of Dibley changed my life (But sweet baby Jesus you all need to be watching this show. It is a RIOT) and I don’t me the way the South American grain Quinoa is changing my life (but also ditto- the life-changing part not the riot part). I mean it truly changed my life.

You all know I’m haphazardly green. I try, but I’m not nearly as committed as I could or should be. I’ve sworn off plastic bags and petroleum-based laundry detergent (that 7th Generation lavender detergent is changing my life– whoops!), I’ve put a bucket in my bathroom to catch the water when the shower is heating up to water my house plants, and whenever Pete wants to drive the truck somewhere the car could be driven, I give him the stare. Like I say, I’m trying.

One of the things Pete and I have recently done is joined a local community supported farm. This is a wonderful (and not new) idea where you essentially invest in a local farm. Instead of getting a money return, you get it in goods- in this case farm fresh produce for the entire growing season. It’s an expensive initial investment- $450 in our case- which isn’t insignificant for us (and by “isn’t insignificant” what I actually mean is “someone get me a damn paper bag! I’ma gonna faint!”). They do let you pay in installments and that combined with a hefty tax return allowed us to do it. The pay off is a large box of produce and eggs every week from June 1st to October 1st, which works out to somewhere around $25/week- totally reasonable, right?

I am desperately in love with this idea for several reasons. They encourage members of the farm to come by and actually help with the work- planting, harvesting, weeding, building fences. I think I must be weird that that sounds so appealing to me, but I am DYING to get in there and help out. I love agricultural manual labor and I miss being able to do it (I worked in the garden and the yard a lot with my parents as I was growing up), so this is like a super extra wicked awesome bonus for me. Add that to the fact that I am getting plant-ripened local produce (and if you haven’t ever had a tomato that was picked off the vine and eaten 20 minutes later, you are missing one of the greatest moments you can possibly have- and I hate tomatoes!) that is 100% organic and that I am helping to keep a beautiful piece of 200 year old farm land out of the hands of developers and I can’t find a good reason not to do it.

So how does this relate to the book, you ask? Well, it was highly coincidental that we joined this farm and the 5 days later I picked up this book, because it’s about the importance of eating locally and supporting community-based agriculture. Barbara Kingsolver and her family took the dedicated step of moving from Arizona to a farm in Virginia and took a vow to only eat foods that were grown locally (like, literally from their yard or their neighbors yards) for an entire year. It seems completely impossible, especially when you consider that there is no such thing as fresh produce in Virginia in December so everything they were eating in the fall and winter was grown, harvested, and preserved in the summer. And it is so inspiring. They manage it and they manage it without a ridiculous amount of strain or hardship and with an abundance of hilarity.

Seriously, read this book. If you think you are making a difference by living in Boston and eating organic produce, just keep in mind that the tomato you are eating in January, regardless of how it was grown and what chemicals weren’t used, came from somewhere very far away. How much energy is used to drive a refrigerated truck from southern California to Massachusetts? Do you really think that organic sticker makes it worth it?