Monday, June 29, 2009

Travel to You - The South Carolina Mix

When I arrived, over an hour late, at the Charleston, South Carolina airport last weekend (a foreshadow of things to come) I found Ambassador waiting for me with open arms. We hugged, giggled and promptly walked the four steps to the car rental desk (the airport was this big - put your thumb 1/2 an inch from your first finger).

We found our car and, much to our glee, discovered it had a sun roof.

Which came in handy as we drove over the Cooper River bridge, taking photos of the span while blaring Ambassador's "Travel to You" mix of songs - one of my myriad of gifts from him from that weekend.

  • Chain Reaction - Steps
  • Don't Leave Me This Way - The Communards
  • Groove is in the Heart - Dee-lite
  • History Repeating - Shirley Bassey and Propellerhead
  • It's a Sin - Pet Shop Boys
  • Knock on Wood - Amii Stewart
  • A Little Respect - Erasure
  • Never Can Say Goodbye - The Communards
  • Pride (In the Name of Love) - The Groove Factory
  • Waterfalls (Workout Mix) - TLC
  • What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy) - Information Society
  • Allegra's Aria - Soprano Yanick Alexandre
  • It's Oh So Quiet - Bjork
  • Miss Chatelaine - k.d. lang
  • Everlasting Love - Gloria Estefan
  • Whispering Your Name - Alison Moyet

  • And the song I associate with these photos is this fabulous rendition of Don't Leave Me This Way by the Communards. You have not lived until you've sung this loudly in a car with Ambassador.

    Any song that you have known forever and now have a fresh memory with it? Do share.

    Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

    Sorry for the lack of Linky Love options. Just put a link to your post in the comments and I'll make a nice little list.

    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Remembering Neda Soltan

    Today people are being asked to wear green and/or black to remember Neda Salehi Agha-Soltan, the Iranian woman whose death from a single bullet shot by government forces was captured on video seen world-wide. Her family has been forbidden to properly mourn her death.

    This morning I explained to one son why I was wearing green. I showed him this week's New Yorker magazine. I asked him to read the by-lines of several articles. Then I showed him page 28. The Letter from Tehran is titled "With the Marchers" and the subtitle A resident reports from the streets and the rooftops.

    "Do you see anything missing" I asked him.

    "There is no name" he said quietly, rubbing his finger over the blank space where the author's name should be.

    "That's why I'm wearing green" I told him.

    To remember those who have died in Iran and support those who are protesting for their country who cannot say their names.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    We could've staged a coup while visiting South Carolina

    Unbeknown to Ambassador and me, and apparently the rest of South Carolina, this past weekend their governor - one of those Republicans who wouldn't take federal stimulus money "on principle" and was a rising star in the party - couldn't be found.

    Governor Sanford literally walked off the job without telling people where he was going. At first his staff were saying that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. Then on Monday it was disclosed that no one knew where he was.

    Apparently he was in Argentina because he (I'm not making this up) "wanted to do something exotic". He admitted that he has been having an affair with a woman living in Buenos Aires.

    Personally I don't care who people screw. I don't care if they are unfaithful. That is their business.

    What I think is absolutely, completely appalling is that this man walked away from his job and was unreachable for several days. He was elected to take care of an entire state - a state I was visiting - and he couldn't bother to leave a number where he could be reached in case of an, oh, hurricane, explosion, flu outbreak.....

    But good thing Ambassador and I didn't know. We would've staged a coup.

    More photos tomorrow....

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    The bugs of Charleston

    Ambassador and I were desperate to get together. It had been over a year since my visit to the Crescent City and we wanted to meet up somewhere "in between" for a long weekend. It was to be just the two of us and our cameras. We settled on Charleston, SC.

    One subject I tried to capture, partly inspired by Ambassador's stunning images, were the various bug-like creatures we encountered in this southern coastal town.

    I did alright but really they don't compare to the master's close-ups, depth of field and stunning lighting. I watched him get so close that any normal small creature would have flown away. But they stayed. I was also amazed at how dragonflies just found him. He has a smell they can't resist.

    And while I captured a few good images, I am most proud of catching "on film" a bright red, skittering cockroach along a vine covered walk to a cemetery.

    Radioactive Red there reminded me of his cousin who on our first night in Charleston jumped on my lap in a very swank hotel rooftop bar. They were both about the size of my thumb. And I have a big thumb.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Get Out of My House Lady Gaga - Dear Jake version

    Dear Jake,

    Oh. My. Word.

    I can't stop laughing. I'll start with what you wrote for a comment to my post last month Get Out of My House Lady Gaga.

    get a life.
    music is music and people like to sing and dance.
    who gives a shit what it means.
    you cant bubble wrap children forever.
    you crazy religious nut.

    Jake, you are absolutely correct. I do not have a life. I am a 40-year-old working mother of three kids, ages 8 1/2 and 5. I will assume you can figure out how I can have three kids but only list two ages.

    I will also not assume anything about you even though you have made several about me, without reading the entire post. If you had you would have noticed something I wrote:

    I have no problem with her music, her lyrics or her video. Have fun madame Lady.


    And let's not forget that I teach sex ed. In my church.

    So I really didn't complain about Lady Gaga. I was complaining about parents that inflicted the song onto younger children (please reread the post to refresh your memory). As I note before, I explicitly tell Ms. Gaga to have a blast. She should enjoy her fame. People should enjoy her. People old enough to get the fun and humor.

    8-year-olds and 5-year-olds are not in that club of people old enough to get the humor.

    Please tell me what, ahem, "crazy religious nut" you know teaches sexuality education - including a panel discussion with transgender youth - at their church. Really. Tell me. Because you will then teach me that not all crazy religious nuts are close-minded bigots who fear their children growing up. Clearly, you mistook me for one of those folks.

    I am not.

    You are correct that I care about words. I care that my children may think that a popular singer is promoting losing consciousness, or worse, that abuse is part of love.

    Because I won't assume that you are a white man in your 20's who hasn't thought of what it feels like to have your [future] kids sing and dance songs with cruel, destructive lyrics. Because dancing and having fun is important but so is the meaning of words. And when your future kids why "love isn't fun without a gun" get in touch with me.

    Let me know how it feels.

    With honest sincerity,

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Dear Mother Nature - late Music Monday edition

    Dear Mother Nature,

    I never did hear back from you after my letter last week. I took matters into my own hands. I went south - real south - to Charleston, South Carolina. The temperatures this weekend hovered in the high 90's. The heat index was in the mid 100's.

    It was hot.

    And I loved it.

    I loved the smell of the humidity. I loved the sweat that instantly collected on the back of my neck. I love the respite found on the shady side of the street.

    I also love who I met up there. We hadn't seen each other in over a year. This week I'll tell you all about it but, Mother Nature, you will have to wait to find out who it was.

    Just like you are making me wait for summer here in my hometown.

    Really, could we please have summer? Now?

    Pleading on bended knee,

    "Too Darn Hot" - Erasure's tribute to Cole Porter from 1991's Red Hot and Blue. But trust me, Charleston was just right this weekend.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Dear Mother Nature

    Dear Mother Nature,

    Hi. It's me. SMID. I'm sorry to bother you. You are probably insanely busy so my request may seem really plain in comparison. Perhaps even a bit silly.

    You see, I think you haven't been flipping your calendar. I forget to do that as well. For a couple of days.

    I think you forgot for a couple of months.

    Yesterday, on June 15th, it only got into the low 60's. Last week I spent both of the boys' evening baseball games either wearing three layers or wrapped in a fleece blanket. Saturday was actually sunny and got into the 70's but now we're back into the 50's. A cold, wet 50's.

    I thought we had a deal. In this part of the world we don't really have spring. That glorious spring people describe in the southern part of this country when the temperatures slowly rise, the sun is bright but not oppressive and, well, there is that smell of flowers and newness in the air.

    Here we suffer through cold until May but then you wave your magic wand and *poof* we have warmth. But that hasn't happened this year.

    So the only reason I can think of is it is because you didn't flip your calendar. It's o.k. if you haven't for a little while. Like a few months. I'll give you a few days to get your head around the fact that in this part of the country, it is actually June 16th, not March 16th.

    It was an honest mistake. Looking forward to the glorious weather, once you flip your calendar.



    Monday, June 15, 2009

    Determined pointed toes

    While last year little lady had her first dance recital, this weekend was the first dance recital on a huge stage, with hundreds in the audience.

    There was a rehearsal, on a different stage, last week and it was a near disaster. The teacher used claps to cue the girls to their next dance step and a series of claps confused the 4- and 5-year-olds. Eight little girls ran off to gather their flowers.

    Two little girls stood their ground in the swirl of pink and white toile that flew by them. And then flew back to return to their spots. My little lady and her dance partner, who came up to her shoulder, stood with their hands on their hips and calmly pointed their toes.

    But, as the saying goes, a bad dress rehearsal means it will be a stunning performance. And it was.

    At least I think so. It was a bit hard to watch through my tears.

    Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

    Nothing like a beautiful ballet to end the weekend. What song ended yours?

    Tuesday, June 09, 2009

    She should bring more often - Part II

    Last year I wrote about how my daughter nearly accosted a woman at a clothing warehouse sale for a women's skirt for me. She charged up to this stranger and asked "Can my mommy have that skirt?" I hadn't even seen it yet so I didn't even know if I would like it.

    The woman wouldn't relinquish the skirt but did find the very last one in the warehouse and gave it to me. It was turned into one of my favorite pieces of clothing.

    This past weekend was the annual summer clothes sale at the warehouse. I brought along little lady and she patiently went through all the color-coordinated racks with me and eventually I had several items in my hands that she insisted I tried on. I actually had five from her and five I picked.

    Two of the items she suggested looked great on me. She was too busy climbing inside the shelving or chatting with the woman trying to keep the changing are tidy to notice but she gets the credit for finding them.

    When I had narrowed down my purchases I decided to make one more sweep of the warehouse and a woman I didn't know stopped me to ask for my opinion. I told her my choice between two shirts and then she noticed my daughter in her brightly colored patchwork short shorts and completely different colored peace-emblem shirt along with her bright yellow plastic shoes from her Woodstock costume.

    "I love her daughter's clothes! I dress like that too!" This woman was in her 50's at least.

    She then got my daughter's attention and asked her what her opinion was on the shirts and every other item. She narrowed down her choices based on my 5-year-old daughter's suggestions, left items behind and went to the cash register with the clothes my kid picked.

    I'm still incredulous.

    Monday, June 08, 2009

    A whole community to lean on

    The other week we were told the town was going to have try-outs for a summer travel baseball team for 8-year-olds. I'm going to put aside how much I hate try-outs at such a young age and just tell the story that ensued.

    We went back and forth about having the boys try-out. What if one made it and the other didn't? How could we manage the week day practices and games when we both worked? Was this experience worth the effort?

    In the end we let the boys tryout this weekend and they felt really good about their playing. They recounted specific plays and hits. They pointed out dents on the bat from really good swings.

    Sunday morning we got the email that they didn't make the team.

    The crying that followed proved that 8 year old hearts really do break. And they break really hard. And those breaks hurt. Hiding in the pillows hurt. Clutching mom's waist hurt.

    And they begged not to go to church. Which was exactly where they needed to be.

    They were part of the annual children's Sunday service. All the classes shared what they learned and children are invited perform musical numbers or read writings. My boys played the piano for the first time in public. They heard an 8th grader read a school essay about the death of his dog and how much it hurt but how he had to keep going. They heard another 8th grader they idolize play Mendelssohn's Song without Words. An 8th grader who plays serious baseball but never did the 8 year old travel team.

    And they heard a 4th grader play this on the piano. No words, just the music. And it couldn't have been more appropriate.

    We couldn't have been luckier for their friends - young and old - who were there for them.

    Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

    There are so many friend songs. Which one captures it for you?

    Thursday, June 04, 2009

    "The Tank Man" - Beijing, June 5, 1989

    The above photo was taken by Charlie Cole of Newsweek Magazine. He described his version of taking this iconic photo twenty years ago along with three other photographers on the New York Times photoblog site. I've just highlight a bit of his story:

    As the tanks neared the Beijing Hotel, the lone young man walked toward the middle of the avenue waving his jacket and shopping bag to stop the tanks. I kept shooting in anticipation of what I felt was his certain doom. But to my amazement, the lead tank stopped, then tried to move around him. But the young man cut it off again. Finally, the PSB (Public Security Bureau) grabbed him and ran away with him. Stuart and I looked at each other somewhat in disbelief at what we had just seen and photographed.

    After taking the picture of the showdown, I became concerned about the PSB’s surveillance of our activities on the balcony. I was down to three rolls of film, with two cameras. One roll held the tank encounter, while the other had other good pictures of crowd and PLA confrontations and of wounded civilians at a hospital.

    I replaced the final unexposed roll into the one of the cameras, replacing the tank roll, and reluctantly left the other roll of the wounded in the other camera. I felt that if the PSB searched the room or caught me, they would look even harder if there
    was no film in the cameras.

    I then placed the tank roll in a plastic film can and wrapped it in a plastic bag and attached it to the flush chain in the tank of the toilet. I hid my cameras as best I could in the room. Within an hour, the PSB forced their way in and started searching the room. After about five minutes, they discovered the cameras and ripped the film out of each, seemingly satisfied that they had neutralized the coverage. They then forced me to sign a confession that I had been photographing during martial law and confiscated my passport.

    Sometime later, I was able to return to the room and retrieve the film, which I took over to the A.P. office and developed. Afterwards, David Berkwitz, who had been sent to Beijing as the Newsweek photo tech-photographer, transmitted the picture to Newsweek in time for our deadline.
    Imagine if this photo had been confiscated. Imagine never seeing this photo and what it represents. This photo has always given me chills. I never knew it had to spend time hidden in a toilet in order to see the light of day.

    Tuesday, June 02, 2009

    Can't believe it - spinach edition

    While running to the liquor store to get wine one 8-year-old son started to beg me to go to the supermarket for salad fixings. I thought I had fallen into the Twilight Zone (as in the 1950's show).

    After getting the all important vino, we went into the store where the boys picked out spinach, plum tomatoes and red bell peppers. We got everything home and they meticulously cut the veggies into a lovely salad.

    One guy tried his salad and went back to his staple fruit - Granny Smith apples with peanut butter. The other guy ate a large helping of salad. Probably the 4th salad in his life.

    But what floored me though was after dinner, after the kids' dessert (I refrained) little lady - who has about 4.7 types foods she will eat - asked to have a bite of spinach. She took a bite, chewed it up, swallowed it and asked for another bite. She ate.... prepare yourself.... 8 pieces of spinach. Then declared she loved lettuce. I explained it was spinach to which she declared she now eats "lettuce-spinach".

    To say I nearly peed on myself is an understatement. My 5-year-old daughter put something green in her body.

    Other than chocolate chip mint ice cream.

    Monday, June 01, 2009

    Won't be silent

    To be honest I didn't even want to play music this Monday.

    Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who was one of the few doctors in the United States to perform late-term abortions was shot inside his church on Sunday morning.

    According to the New York Times, "Dr. Tiller, who had performed abortions since the 1970s, had long been a lightning rod for controversy over the issue of abortion, particularly in Kansas, where abortion opponents regularly protested outside his clinic and sometimes his home and church. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by an abortion opponent but recovered."

    As one of the few doctors who would perform third-trimester abortions when the life or health of a mother was at stake his death will make it even harder for women dealing with those situations to terminate their pregnancies.

    So I was going to not play any music today. I was at the March on Washington in 1992. I do not apologize for believing in a woman's right to choice.

    But then, the horrid murderer would win. Those who want to silence women and our right to choose would win. So I choose to play a loud, buoyant anthem for us. For Women. Because Sisters, no one is going to do this but us.

    Dr. Tiller's motto was "trust women". How sad that someone who treated us as grown-ups had to die for that belief. But we will not be silenced. Dr. Tiller should not die in vain.

    Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

    Got any girl power songs to share?