Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drench Your Apples In Honey

This is what the rabbi ended his sermon with last night for the first service of the High Holiday season, for Rosh Hashana. I actually listened all the way through and didn't just wake up at the end! If you don't know the custom, it's dipping apples into honey for a sweet new year. Sounds good to me. L'Shana Tova, Happy New Year to everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tikkun Olam Fridays - Repairing the World One Step at a Time

Another Friday, another post on tikkun olam – to repair the world. Remember, you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

What action did you take this week, big or little, to make a difference?

Last Saturday a few of us Obama supporters in Ventura County made phone calls to our sister district in Nevada, working to get out the vote. Let me tell you, it was scary, even though I make phone calls all week to editors and reporters I don't know and who would rather not hear from another publicist.

Some of these folks could be angry Republicans. How would they react when they heard I was with the Obama campaign? You know how you react when a telemarketer calls. I had been building up good karma all week, being nice to whoever bothered me, even if they called during dinner.

The campaign was organized. We had our script, our list, our talking points. The host had laid out some nice noshies. We took our cell phones to different rooms, even outside on the front step. I would have called from the bathroom except for the sound bouncing off the tiles.

All went well. I spoke to 2 supporters, one undecided who was anxious to hear the debates and a few Republicans who got off the phone quickly. No one was rude and besides, I realized that I was representing the candidate. I was going to show them that Democrats were polite no matter what.

The six of us made 200 calls. Most of the people weren't home or the numbers were wrong. But our job wasn't just to connect and gauge support. We were culling the bad numbers so teams calling down the road wouldn't be wasting their time.

One of the coordinators gave us some visual help. He said remember why you're doing this. Well, I kept a picture of my kids, 19 and 16, in my mind. It was just a little tool but it worked. And I kept saying to myself, every vote counts, every vote counts. Which meant that each call, each effort I made to dial one more time, counted. I liked the sense of efficiency and accomplishment.

And I liked how we were working with folks from the neighborhood. A few of us had kids in the same grade in school or had worked on the high school's performing arts booster group together. But we didn't really know each other very well.

So the afternoon wasn't spent just reaching out to Nevada or working on a national campaign. We were building community. All those collected emails will come in handy.

Because no matter the outcome on November 4th, on November 5th the fight will continue. Taking back the country, and turning it around, one vote at a time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today Let’s Go Positive

Newsflash: ‘Green’ industrial park planned for lot

Los Angeles officials are planning a green industrial park and incubator. They want to generate jobs and ‘turn a tattered pocket of Los Angeles into a hotbed of environmentally sustainable companies,’ according to an article by Marla Dickerson in yesterday’s LA Times.

“We are rolling out the green carpet…for visionary clean-tech companies and sustainable green manufacturers that will call Los Angeles home,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday.

Check out the article. And remember, today we’re all going to try to be just a little bit positive, moi included. No cynicism allowed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Economy is Fundamentally Sound

Local furniture store, national brand, that opened about 1 year ago along a road that's been designated as a 'home furnishings' destination. About five miles or so from the Countrywide national headquarters.

I don't have to read the papers, online or off, to know which way the wind blows. I just take a little drive around the neighborhood.

But if you need more convincing, check out the front page of today's LA Times, just above the fold - Long, dark tunnel seen for California's economy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tikkun Olam Fridays – Repairing the World One Step at a Time

Another Friday, another post on tikkun olam – to repair the world. Remember, you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

What action did you take this week, big or little, to make a difference?

Last weekend I committed to cloth napkins. Actually I’ve been working on this transition for a month or so. I cut up some leftover fabric - the school project, the quilt that never happened, the teenager's project that never happened, those sorts of things - and started hand sewing the hems because I can never get my sewing machine tension to work right. (aka I have no patience to find out what the current glitch is.)

I’d sit and watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and pin up the hems and stitch a few napkins. I had a basket of nearly 30 little rectangles and squares to plow through, so it’s taken some time.

But I was troubled. It wasn't the thumb pricks that were a problem. I couldn’t get over that it was going to be okay to use a pretty piece of cloth for my breakfast cereal. And everyday no less. It just seemed actually more wasteful than reaching for the paper napkins. Wasn’t cloth for company?

Then last week I went out to Bed, Bath and Beyond with my handy car stash of coupons, determined to find the least expensive napkins they had, no matter what color. Well, they couldn’t be ugly, weird polka dots. Come on. I’m channeling my Sustainable Martha. I still love my kitchen.

So I go immediately to the sale shelves and lo and behold, before my very eyes, are stacks of napkins. Now my favorite color has always been green - olive, lime, hunter - even in my previous wasteful life. And there, unbelievably, were sage green damask napkins. 21 of them.

I scooped them up. Not only were they on some kind of ridiculous sale. But I had a $5 off coupon. Go me! The checker threw in the 21st one for free, because of a packaging mistake, and the price came to about 60¢ each. For that price, I could add a touch of elegance to my life and be frugally chic.

My husband complimented me several times on my purchase. (an added bonus and also a correct move on his part).

So now we have breakfast/lunch/office coffee mug mini napkins and lovely family/company dinner napkins.

And I broke them in with a spaghetti tomato sauce dinner with nary a qualm.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Great Depression II

I just came back from back-to-school night for our daughter who’s a high school junior. She’s taking, among other subjects, AP English and AP History – the American versions of both.

She doesn’t know how lucky she is. To be reading about our great country during the difficult times we’re going through. Of course, she’s only 16 and she isn’t aware of the problems.

I thought if I told her about the financial market debacle this week I could guilt her into cleaning up her room and getting more organized for what should be a most difficult year but I was being selfish and stopped myself before I dumped the problems of the adults on the shoulders of a 16 year old.

But I did want to sit in on her classes for sure, especially if this time around I could bring to it the knowledge and discipline of an adult. Instead, I went to the Internet to find Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech about the four freedoms and then I started surfing. I found his first inaugural address from March 4, 1933, the one about fear and read it all the way through. I was guessing that it would be as encouraging a message for our times as it was for my parents and grandparents going through the Great Depression. Damned if I wasn’t right.

Check out this site for the speech. Read through all of it. It will lift your spirits. After a week of financial disaster and head banging BS from the Republican candidates, I needed to know that if we got out of one hell of a pickle, we could once again. You will be amazed at how similar our times are to those of the First Great Depression.

Surely FDR’s America, listening around a radio, was no smarter than our America now. Yet Mr. Bush is seemingly AWOL once again. A bad case of senioritis I would say. And McCain/Palin, well, I’m beyond insulted at how stupid they must think I am. Once we had real leaders. I pray that one day we will again. Obama can inspire, but can he lead, can he pull together his own brain trust for the tough days ahead?

When economists throw around phrases like “worst financial disaster since the Great Depression” I can only assume that they know the full impact of what they are saying. I can only hope that they aren’t just reaching for another sound bite, that they actually stayed awake during their American history and English classes. Because I did and those words have resonated in my head all week.

My daughter has to read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath this year. Perhaps I should offer to be her study buddy.

Shut Up and Drive

Have you signed up yet? Why not? The road map to change starts with us. Find a Travel for Change Weekend in your home state. Go door to door in a sister district. The 24th Congressional District of the Great State of California is going to Nevada. Obama Biden 08

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Good Reads from Today's New York Times

Mr. and Mrs. Local are celebrating 21 years of wedded bliss and kitchen table politics by wine tasting in the breathtaking Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County.

Before we trek up the coast, I needed to pound the keyboard with some scary but important articles in Sunday's New York Times Opinion section.

Check out Frank Rich, "The Palin-Whatshisname Ticket". The question is no longer is Sarah Palin qualified to be vice president and a heartbeat away from the presidency. It's what kind of president would she be.

Then another fave of mine and a greenie, Thomas Friedman, "Making America Stupid" asking how can we elect a president who pushes 19th century technology when we need 21st century innovation.

And for some laughs, because we sure need them, Maureen Dowd, "Bering Straight Talk". She suggests that Palin has the 'power of positive unthinking' like W and the 'same flimsy but tenacious adeptness at saying nothing.'

Now we're off in search of Rhone varietals along Foxen Canyon. Would you like us to bring you back a bottle of Syrah? Only if you sign up for Obama phonebanking.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tikkun Olam Fridays – Repairing the World One Step at a Time

Another Friday, another post on tikkun olam – to repair the world. Remember, you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

What action did you take this week, big or little, to make a difference?

As Hurricane Ike moves towards the Texas coast, Americans have been ordered to evacuate. While working and watching my little TV, I caught a piece of a news segment with the Texas Red Cross.

The Red Cross is running out of funds. How ‘bout we send them some? They’re actually borrowing money so they can still provide food, care and shelter.

As someone who's lived through numerous earthquakes and watched flames highlight the night sky on the mountains near my house, I know that what goes around, comes around.

Come on Americans! Time to rally!!! Check out the news release below...

American Red Cross Launches National Fundraising Campaign

Goal to Raise Initial $100 Million for Disaster Relief Fund

WASHINGTON, Wednesday, September 10, 2008 — As Hurricane Ike continues its path towards the United States, threatening families along the Gulf Coast with potentially damaging winds and torrential rain, the American Red Cross is launching a national fundraising campaign to raise an initial $100 million to fill a Disaster Relief Fund depleted after an active year of disasters.

The Disaster Relief Fund allows the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to help victims of disasters meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, counseling and other critical services.

The Red Cross responds to 70,000 disasters each year – the majority of them “silent” disasters never making the news. After tragedy strikes, the Red Cross relies on this fund to mobilize volunteers and resources to help communities throughout the United States.

“The Red Cross is always there when disaster strikes, but this year has been an active disaster year and the cost of providing relief has rapidly outpaced contributions,” said Gail McGovern, American Red Cross President and CEO. “We sheltered more people during the first nights of Hurricane Gustav than the first days of Katrina. While the media has packed up and moved on, we are still there helping a large number of people.”

“The American people have always responded generously to support their neighbors during their time of need, and I urge all Americans to join together and make a contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund today. No matter how small, every donation can change a life.”

The Red Cross is taking many steps to reduce its disaster response costs including consolidating warehouse space, using technology to further automate its casework process and placing a greater emphasis on deploying local volunteers and leveraging community partner resources.

Since January 2008, Red Cross volunteers have responded to thousands of house fires and more than 60 large-scale disasters —including a record number of tornadoes, the worst flooding in the Midwest in 15 years, an early wildfire season and an active hurricane season that is not over yet.

Expenses for Hurricane Gustav alone are estimated in the $40M - $70M dollar range for the Red Cross and the organization has only raised a fraction of what is needed to support affected families.

As the Red Cross continues helping individuals and families battered by the 2008 storms and hurricanes: Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav and Hanna, it is also actively preparing to respond to Hurricane Ike by mobilizing trained volunteers and pre-positioning disaster supplies.

In the interim, the Red Cross is borrowing money to cover the costs of the hurricanes of 2008. Despite this, the Red Cross has not cut any of its services to disaster victims and does not expect to do so.

While the organization is initially striving to raise $100 million to help those in need, the Red Cross is in the midst of both hurricane and wildfire season and does not know what the future will bring.

You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Hurricanes of 2008, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. You can log-on to http://www.redcross.org/ or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) to make a donation. You can also use your cell phone to donate $5 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by text messaging the keyword “GIVE” to “2HELP” (24357). You can send multiple donations depending on your carrier. Contributions will appear on monthly bills or be debited from a prepaid account balance. All applicable text rates apply.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mea Hot So Mea Culpa

I couldn’t take it anymore. It was 100°, more or less, on Saturday. We were out most of the day but it was unbearable upstairs when we returned. I knew my daughter wouldn’t be able to handle it. And I really, really wanted her to put her clothes away – in drawers and not draped over the banister, the teenage slumpy chair, her desk, the floor of her room.

And my elderly mom, who visits us every Sunday from the assisted living facility, would be over the top. She’s complained all summer. Was it safe to let her suffer so? Really, wasn’t there some biblical injunction to honor her with weather under 85°?

Last week, everyday by 3 o’clock I wanted to slam down the laptop and give up. Even driving around in the car with the air conditioning cranked up didn’t crank up my spirits.

I prayed for fall, or the Southern California equivalent. I fantasized about treating myself to some new jewel-toned cable knit sweaters in cranberry, hunter green and plum. Corduroy slacks, long sleeved Gap tee-shirts and black blazers to wrap myself in when the thermometer plunged to 50° were my pornographic fantasies.

So friends, I’m sorry. On Sunday, we turned the air conditioning on. All day. Down to somewhere in the low 70’s. I let my husband decide the number. He could take the wrap.

It was like manna from heaven. My skin was cool. My neck was dry. I was energized, not enervated. I’d suffered all summer, banking my brownie points for this one luxurious moment.

This week the mercury has dropped. The evil AC is off. But that 100° weekend was just a wakeup call. I know our monster heat waves will rear their oven-like heads several times more before Thanksgiving. I think we should name them after chili peppers and measure the heat factor in Scoville units like a jalapeƱo’s burn ability.

I carried my stainless steel water bottle with me everywhere this summer, filled with clanking ice cubes, clutched against my grateful face. I counted sweat drops. I suffered. Oh how I suffered.

But for one reverent moment the perspiration dried from the nape of my neck and I knew the blessed relief of the whirring fan.

Next Sunday the Ice Man cometh again and I will welcome him in. Green guilt be damned.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gobble Gobble Whine Whine

The September assignment for the Carnival hosted by the APLS bloggers (Affluent Persons Living Sustainably) is to write about affluence and what that means to me.

As I started to plan my post, I realized I didn’t know which way to go on this one. Guilt, arrogance, denial, indifference? It was clear that even thinking about the subject pushed a lot of buttons.

Then I took that global money test that’s cropping up on frugal blogs including the APLS site. Whoa. Talk about perspective. I certainly had nothing to complain about. I would be affluent with just a smidgen of what I currently have.

So I kept asking myself the question. What does affluence mean to me?

Then – a small epiphany. Thanksgiving Day without the Macy’s Parade as the answer rolled out in my mind.

I have enough money and …

The kids are healthy. My husband and I have jobs. The cars are paid for. The roof has no leaks. The monthly mortgage invoices don’t scare us. The fridge is full. The toilet works. The water is clean. Our country is free, no matter how much we complain. Through most of our history we have had no fighting on our soil. We have wonder drugs and health care technology that cured my mom, dad and sister of cancer. I value my dentist and my eye doctor. I have a college degree and a library card. I have clothes and a machine to wash them in.

Wow. I am truly blessed. And I say that without a drop of smugness. Because to those to whom much is given, much is expected. To me affluence means I have the time, money and moral obligation to give back.

To volunteer in the community – the arts, hunger, literacy, politics, religious community – wherever the need and one’s skills and interest match up. To do otherwise would be selfish in the deepest sense of the word.

Grateful, thankful, humbled and most of all - responsible is what affluence means to me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Endangered Species Act - Time for Action

I received this email from a thoughtful friend. We only have a week. Click through and then send it around.
Photo by Michael Nichols
National Geographic Website

Endangered Species Act Under Assault: Send Comments to Secretary Kempthorne

To My Friends,

I need your help to prevent Bush from fatally crippling our nation's most successful wildlife law and we only have ONE week left to do it.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced devastating changes to the Endangered Species Act, signaling the end of protection for thousands of imperiled species.

The new regulations would:- Exempt thousands of federal activities from review under the Endangered Species Act:

- Eliminate checks and balances of independent oversight

-Limit which effects can be considered harmful

- Prevent consideration of a project's contribution to global warming

- Set an inadequate 60-day deadline for wildlife experts to evaluate a project in the instances when they are invited to participate -- or else the project gets an automatic green light

- Enable large-scale projects to go unreviewed by dividing them into hundreds of small projects

Send a message to Kempthorne and members of Congress that these changes are unacceptable.


Your friend

Visit: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2167/t/5243/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=25351

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tikkun Olam Friday - Repairing the World One Step at a Time

Another Friday, another post on tikkun olam – to repair the world. Remember, you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

The Flag of a Proud Democrat

After two weeks of political conventions, I must ask you to think about who best can repair our nation. Without change at home, I fear we won’t be able to repair the world.

In July my husband and I visited Vancouver and went wine tasting. At one winery we somehow got into a discussion of politics with the hostess. (Somehow? It’s all we talk about.) We assured her we hadn’t voted for Bush. The mess wasn’t our fault. Her compassionately spoken reply: I feel for you.

Just four words reminding me that Canada is a separate country, not America Adjacent, and that the US has problems to solve. Alone.

So this week, before I ask what you did to repair the world, let me ask if you watched the Republican National Convention. Did you like what you saw? Then stop reading now.

But if your heart soared last week as Barack Obama showed us who we can be once again only to break as you watched in horror at the world portrayed by McCain, let me suggest what you can do between now and November.

Donate to Obama's campaign and talk up the issues like energy, health care, the economy, the environment, education, the physical infrastructure and the food supply.

Then help get out the vote. And vote yourself as if your children’s and grandchildren’s lives depended on it. We cannot have another 4 years of the last 8 years.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

APLS are growing in California

APLS are Affluent Persons Living Sustainably. Each of us care about the earth in our own way, define our path and blog about the journey. Check out the main APLS blog, get the full 411 and sample the individual bloggers. We come from all over the country, perhaps even the world.

We're all in the Bushel Basket together but we’ve coordinated ourselves into some regional baskets as well. So far we've got Colorado, the Great Lakes, the Lower Mid-West and me in California. If you want to organize your region, jump in. The plan is to learn, share and build eco-conscious communities. Some of us may even meet up if the distances aren't too far.

August was our first Carnival, a chance to write and share on a specific topic. Last month was sustainability. September is affluence. The deadline for submission is Sept 10th and on Sept 15th all the posts will go up and we can read some thoughtful, personal commentary. Visit the blog for details.

So check us out. The email for the main APLS blog is aplscarnival (at) gmail (dot) com. Golden State APLS can contact me at bobbiwords (at) aol (dot) com.

We’re crunchy and committed. Join the APLS Bushel Basket.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friday Night Jazz at LACMA

Summer nights in the city, filled with music and art …

While I wish I lived closer to more cultural opportunities, sometimes driving is worth the effort. This past Friday was one of those times. My husband and I drove to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for one of their Friday Night Jazz sessions.

We had to drop our daughter off at a friend’s house and didn’t want this relatively new driver to brave the LA freeways during rush hour traffic on a Labor Day weekend. So we did it instead. No complaints from me. Here was a chance to use our LACMA membership for some art viewing and the opportunity to hear free jazz.

I used to be a jazz fan but moving further out into the ‘burbs 15 years ago meant fewer concerts and losing some radio reception. KKJZ, 88.1 FM, (KJAZZ) from Cal State University, Long Beach, was one of those lost connections. Online listening didn't grab me, and I just drifted away. So I haven't stayed current with contemporary artists. Friday I found a new one to add to my faves.

Outside in front of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, we were in for a real treat. Bill Cantos, singer/songwriter/pianist was playing. We listened for much of the 2 hour concert. Even my classical leaning husband enjoyed the show and remarked on the uniqueness of Bill's voice, lyrics and ability to connect with the audience. I've never been good at head counts, but I'd estimate at 750 jazz aficionados groovin' to the beat.

Here’s a link for Bill on MySpace. Enjoy yourselves…I bought a CD and I’m reliving this end-of-summer evening under the palm trees. Good bye summer, hello autumn.