republicans before lee atwater

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired
signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are
not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not
spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the
genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children....This is not a
way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening
war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

-- Gen. Dwight Eisenhower

poem of the day

"What Do Women Want?"

by Kim Addonizio

I want a red dress.

I want it flimsy and cheap,

I want it too tight, I want to wear it

until someone tears it off me.

I want it sleeveless and backless,

this dress, so no one has to guess

what's underneath. I want to walk down

the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store

with all those keys glittering in the window,

past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old

donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers

slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,

hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.

I want to walk like I'm the only

woman on earth and I can have my pick.

I want that red dress bad.

I want it to confirm

your worst fears about me,

to show you how little I care about you

or anything except what

I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment

from its hanger like I'm choosing a body

to carry me into this world, through

the birth-cries and the love-cries too,

and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,

it'll be the goddamned

dress they bury me in.

creative people have more sex...

....or so says this study

early weaning in sub-sharan africa

This is an interesting article on why early weaning (defined as cessation of breastfeeding before a baby's second birthday) puts children at risk in Senegal.

listening to today...

elliot reads

Via Elliot's teacher today, a photo of Elliot reading to Sabrina, their classroom's HABIT dog. I am loving E at this age.




Last night I fell down my basement stairs late at night, going down to turn off my dryer, which doesn't turn off on its own. My leg got caught in the stairs and all twisted at the knee. Last night my shin bone hurt like hell, but today my knee hurts even worse. I seriously think I almost broke my leg. So I'm grateful I didn't.

My body has been rather battered by various things in the past week. I feel like I need a day or two in bed.

celiac disease

Breastfeeding may protect against celiac disease (gluten intolerance).


when the glass ceiling is at home

This is the most interesting article on the whole "why are so many smart, educated women staying home with their kids" debate I've read in ages.

It's like I said last week (see post below on "dating down" and then discussion that followed), the real issue most women face is finding someone to help at home. Most married or partnered couples with kids find that life runs more smoothly if one partner focuses more on earning money and the other focuses more on domestic life. This just makes good logistical sense. Or it can work when you have enough money to hire someone to truly handle the domestic stuff while both partners focus on earning money.

The problem is that too often, women are assumed to be the ones who will handle the domestic front. And now, we are also expected to earn money.

I love being a mother and I'm pretty good at it, but I am TERRIBLE at housekeeping, cooking, etc. I am far better at the work I do at my job - at earning money. For this reason, if I lived with an adult guy, it might make good sense for that person to focus more on the home front, despite his gender.



I'm reading an advance copy of my friend Adrienne Martini's forthcoming memoir, "Hillbilly Gothic." It's to be published next summer by The Free Press and it's just amazingly good. The core of the story is her bout with postpartum depression and as I read about how inept and clumsy and unworthy she felt as the mother of a newborn baby, I'm struck by how much I feel like that sometimes now, parenting my 7,10 and 14 year old children.

Parenting babies came very easily to me. I immediately felt comfortable with them and never suffered any baby blues or feelings of inadequacy like so many new mothers. In fact, I would describe the waay I felt during the early months of my children's lives as euphoric. I felt pretty great.

But nowadays, I more often feel like I am screwing up. My parenting anxiety is at an all time high. I have no evidence that I am screwing up -- they all seem to be doing fine -- but I have tremendous feelings of guilt about the fact that I wasn't able to stay married to their father and thus, they have to shuffle between two households. I find myself second guessing my parenting decisions more often and feeling more defensive than usual about my mothering.

I think it's just a rough patch. This too shall pass. Parenting is about keeping your eyes on the prize: the kind of people you turn out when your mothering job is complete. But I am struck by how much Adrienne's descriptions of her feelings of inadequacy with her new baby parallel the way I've felt lately...



gay priests

This is an excellent op-ed piece (by a priest) on why the Catholic Church's sweeping new ban on gay men in the prisethood is a colossal mistake, and one that will create the very problems it is seemingly attempting to eliminate.
"I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land." -- Jon Stewart

for the girls

This site is thoroughly amusing

Well worth the relative hassle to mess around with it.


Don't forget to regularly check out the very cool MamasInk.

Thanks Giving

I'm starting a running list of things I'm thankful for - gonna add to it as I have time all weekend.

Add your own list in comments section below this post.

My list (in no particular order - very randowm - will get longer in coming days...)

Henry, Jane & Elliot
Eleanor & McLean
Jones, Anna and Helen
Gray & Jack
Betsy K.
Susan K.
Uncle J.
Grandpa R.
Patty & Brandon
Loud music
James & Julie
Kimi, Bill, Lane, Charlie, Drew, Harris and Inara
All the folks at my job, whom I love
Ann, Sydney and Shawn
David O. & fam
Fiat, Mabel & Cookie (dogs)
Dickens & Cinco (ponies)
My cozy little house
Christmas lights
Chocolate biscuit cookies from Harrod's
Bell Buckle
old books in dusty bookstores
Fiesta Farm
Howard Dean
Jon Stewart
Sarah Vowell
David Sedaris
Power Pop from the '70s
Knitting stores
my mother's spaghetti
stone fences in middle TN


breastfeeding has significant impact on your risk for diabetes

Breastfeed for at least a year and reduce your OWN future risk for this nasty disease by up to 15%, say researchers.

Read all about it right here

Of course, it can also be said (but rarely is) that NOT breastfeeding RAISES the risk for diseases such as diabetes. If breastfeeding is the norm, then that's actually the appropriate way to frame the issue.

breastfeeding isn't a lifestyle choice; it's a critical infant-maternal health issue

Six million lives a year are being saved by exclusive breastfeeding, and global breastfeeding rates have risen by at least 15 per cent since 1990, says a report released on the 15th anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding.

Between 1990 and 2000, exclusive breastfeeding levels for children under six months in the developing world have increased by as much as three or fourfold in some countries.

UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other child survival partners hailed this progress as they commemorated the adoption of the landmark Innocenti Declaration fifteen years ago today, at a meeting in Florence, Italy. At least 30 governments signed onto the Declaration in 1990, a document which set ambitious new standards for national support to breastfeeding.

“Exclusive breastfeeding is one of the most powerful tools we have to combat child hunger and death,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “The Innocenti Declaration created a movement that has helped to save millions of lives and brought us closer to the Millennium Development Goals.”

This celebratory event is jointly organized by the Regional Authority of Tuscany and the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre with a wide partnership, including the Italian National Committee for UNICEF, UN organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations like the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, the International Baby Food Action Network among others and an international expert panel.

Veneman said the achievements since the Innocenti Declaration should inspire us to do more to reach out to vulnerable mothers and children. She praised the dedication of a vast international community of breastfeeding advocates, who have worked tirelessly to turn the promises of the Innocenti Declaration, and the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, into action.

Through their efforts, nearly 20,000 hospitals in 150 countries have become “baby-friendly”, more than 60 countries have laws or regulations implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, and many countries have some form of national breastfeeding authority.

But the Innocenti partners warned that the original goals of the Declaration are still far from met. For instance, only 39 per cent of infants in developing countries are exclusively breastfed. Lack of awareness amongst mothers, and lack of support from health workers and communities, is largely to blame.

Breast milk gives a baby ideal nourishment during the critical first months of life, as well as vital immunity against killer diseases like pneumonia. Babies should be exclusively breastfed from birth to six months, and then breastfed alongside age-appropriate, complementary feeding for two years and beyond.

Achieving this target would give an extraordinary boost to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is estimated that almost one-fifth of all child deaths could be prevented if this target is achieved, saving over two million children per year.

The new Innocenti report published by UNICEF, WHO and other infant-feeding specialists, calls for greater government action and investment to protect exclusive breastfeeding.

It also warns that mothers and children are facing new dangers, including a growing number of emergencies and the continued rise of HIV/AIDS. Women need to be supported in providing the best nourishment for their children and governments urgently need to mainstream the latest strategies for HIV positive mothers and infant-feeding into national policies.

“In times of crisis, the right feeding practices for children are the key to saving lives,” said Veneman.

For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

P.S. from Katie: That cute kid on the pony in the photos below was breastfed for more than four years. She's healthy, happy, and athletic, and nursing her was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far.


Tennessee Valley Hunt

Saturday was Junior Hunt Day at the Tennessee Valley Hunt. It's a day for kids to enjoy a cross country fox hunt, with games and races and such. There is no real fox - just a guy dressed in a fox suit laying down a trail of bread crumbs all over the place, and the kids have a great time.

hunt 11

My daughter Jane is the small person in purple on the small black pony


hunt 12

hunt 13

hunt 15

hunt 16

I didn't get to go watch this year, but I've gone before and it's a really pleasant way to spend a Fall afternoon. As you can see, it's gorgeous East Tn scenery

Walk the Line


RG and I, plus some family members went to see the new Cash biopic at a theatre near Nashville Saturday night. The place was sold out and people seemed very psyched to be seeing it (clapped at the end - which I haven't experienced at a movie in a while).

I thought it was very, very good. It left me thinking a lot and I'd like to see it again. The theme of redemptive love was just beautfully done without beating you over the head. There was obvious, palpable sexual chemistry between Phoenix and Witherspoon, which is pretty rare in movies these days. You could really feel their longing for each other from beginning to end and yet there was almost zero explicit portrayal of their physical relationship. It was all in the way they looked at each other.

I was interested to see how Cash's first marriage would be handled, since I know the Cash family (including his daughters from the first marriage) were really involved in the making of the movie and the bottom line is that his pining away for June Carter broke that marriage up. I felt like it was handled fairly and sensitively. You really came to understand that unless John Cash had June Carter by his side, he couldn't be the man he was meant to be. But again, this never seemed maudlin or over the top. And they gave fair attention to the fact that Cash was very torn over the fact that he had fallen out of love with his wife and in love with another woman. He was never flip or callous about it.

The supporting cast was top notch, too. The folks who played Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis were spot0on without resorting to caricature. The people who played June Carter's parents had really small roles but were terrific...

And the music was great!

Highly recommended.


the morning after pill

This is an excellent interview with Dr. Susan Wood, who resigned as head of the FDA's Office of Women's Health after it became clear that approval for over the counter availablity of emergency or "morning-after" contraception was being impeded by politicians, and that the process was completely different from how the FDA normally makes a decision about something like this.

Les raisons d'etre

I am feeling very grateful and blessed today. It's a beautiful day.

Granju family - June '05

quote o' the afternoon

"As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're
gonna make mistakes."

- Mel Brooks

the turkey baster

My children have never really had any special stuffed animals that they couldn't live without. I did when I was little (and I carried that dirty, worn out stuffed mouse off to college with me), but my children just never got that attached to any single blanket or stuffed animal. They've had favorites at various times - Jane currently favors a stuffed panda bear she's christened 'Andy Malanakis' (sp?), but no can't-live-without ones -

They have, on the other hand, developed bizarre if fleeting attachments to OTHER things they would haul around with them. When Henry was about 2, he was obsessed with a small, plaster of paris elephant for a few months. He carried it around in his chubby little fist at all times, including in the bath tub.

Currently, Elliot has developed a particular fondness for a turkey baster. Why I even HAVE a turkey baster, I am not sure, as I have no idea how to cook, much less baste a turkey. But at some point, my mother or someone must have hopefully given me one, and the other night E found it in a kitchen drawer and promptly adopted it.

The turkey baster has bludgeoned various people over the head, served as a squirt gun, played the role of a catapult outside his toy castle and two nights ago, I went to tuck him in, only to find him already asleep, with a stuffed dinosaur under one arm, his favorite Bart Simpson comic book resting on his chest, and the turkey baster clutched in his other hand.

i hope my obit is half as interesting... this one from the London News Telegraph:

Lady Sibell Rowley

Lady Sibell Rowley, who has died aged 98, was the last surviving daughter of the 7th Earl Beauchamp, KG, and thus a member of the family that inspired Evelyn Waugh to write his celebrated Roman Catholic novel Brideshead Revisited.

Sibell Lygon, the second of the four Lygon daughters, was born on October 10 1907. The eldest girl, Lettice, married Sir Richard Cottrell. The third daughter, Mary (or Maimie) Lygon, a beautiful blonde, married Prince Vselvolde of Russia, and ended her days as an alcoholic stroking a Pekinese; while the youngest daughter, Dorothy (Coote), endured an unfortunate late-life marriage to Robert Heber Percy, known as "Mad Boy", the eccentric squire of Faringdon and former boyfriend of Lord Berners. Of Sibell in childhood, Dorothy recalled: "She was rather a stormy petrel - and a great wielder of the wooden spoon; if mischief was going to be made, she made it."

In the early years their family life enjoyed a degree of stability, as they moved between Madresfield Court in Worcestershire, Walmer Castle (where their father was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports) and Halkin House in Belgrave Square, London. Their father read them stories from Victorian historical novels. Their adolescence was less secure, and the tensions of this period provided Evelyn Waugh with the raw material for Brideshead.

The daughters, aware of their father's nocturnal prowlings, would sometimes advise their boyfriends to lock their bedroom doors. Lord Beauchamp once complained at breakfast: "He's very nice that friend of yours, but he's damned uncivil!" Unfortunately, the problems proved more serious, concerning incidents with footmen, and as a result of a campaign instigated by his brother-in-law, Bendor, Duke of Westminster, Lord Beauchamp was forced into exile in Europe. The Duke tried to explain the circumstances to his sister, Lady Beauchamp, who failed to grasp the essentials. "Bendor says that Beauchamp is a bugler," she announced.

Lady Sibell's own career was not without notoriety. She acted as receptionist at the hairdressing and beauty establishment in Bond Street run by Violet Cripps, one of the former wives of the Duke of Westminster, her maternal uncle. When not behind the counter, she tended to eschew society parties, though she relished hunting. She was heard to moan: "The time is coming when there will be no idleness in Mayfair. We shall all work."

Presently she became a Socialist and tried her hand at journalism, contributing stories to Harper's Bazaar. She fell foul of the Duke of Westminster in 1934, when she allegedly libelled him in an article in the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, causing him to issue a writ; the matter was settled with an apology. She also contributed occasional pieces to the Daily Express, though she later confessed that most of them were written by Lord Beaverbrook, with whom she had an on-off affair. He once told her: "For all the awful things I've done in my life, I am paid back by my children's behaviour." Beaverbrook introduced her to the rising politician Aneurin Bevan, who was much taken with her and at one time possibly wanted to marry her.

On another occasion a policeman called at Madresfield, suspecting that Lady Sibell did not possess licences for her dogs. He was told that it was inconvenient for Lady Sibell to receive him. When he called again, he discovered that the licences had been taken out a few hours after his first call. The matter went to court and Lady Sibell was fined 30 shillings.

Her father died in November 1938, after which she moved out of Madresfield, returning there only once during the reign of Mona, Countess Beauchamp, her brother's Danish wife, with whom she was not in sympathy.

In February 1939 she married Michael Rowley, an aircraft designer eight years her junior, at the Brompton Oratory. Curiously, he was the son of George Rowley and his former wife, Violet Cripps, who had subsequently married Sibell's uncle, the Duke of Westminster. The business of marrying was far from uncomplicated, and was later the cause of another court case. The first attempt was to marry on January 7 1939 at Caxton Hall, but this was postponed, with the groom's father professing never to have heard of Lady Sibell. The next plan was for the Oratory on January 31, again cancelled. Another idea was St Peter's Catholic Church at Marlow, also put off. Finally, they married in the Brompton Oratory on February 11 in the presence of a few friends and relatives.

Their problems were, however, far from over. A few weeks after the wedding, Rowley revealed that the previous year he had married a German girl called Eleonore. Rowley had then been in love with the girl, and they were secretly engaged, but had no intention of marrying. Then, while in Mexico together they had enjoyed a substantial liquid lunch before spotting a sign outside an office proclaiming "Get Married Here". They had entered to find a young American couple in the process of marrying. This couple offered to be witnesses for them, and so they got married too. On his return to England, Rowley met and fell in love with Lady Sibell.

On hearing this story, Lady Sibell was far from amused, and in June 1939 the pair went over to Germany to see the first Mrs Rowley. The rejected wife appeared to accept her lot, although her marriage was still valid (as technically the second marriage was not).

Matters deteriorated during the war, when Rowley served as a fighter pilot with 601 Squadron. In 1940 he developed a tumour on the brain, and Lady Sibell took him home, doing her best to keep his life stress-free.

The following year, on receiving an enquiry from Eleonore, she replied that Rowley had been killed in the war; in fact, he was still alive.

After the war Eleonore claimed that this dishonest information had caused her considerable shock, and she sued for damages.

The court found that, although Lady Sibell's letter had not been inspired by malice, she should pay Eleonore damages of £814. Following this, Rowley's first marriage was officially dissolved, and he and Lady Sibell married for a second time in 1949. She nursed him faithfully throughout his long illness until his death at the Radcliffe Infirmary on September 19 1952.

A month after his death, Lady Sibell took over as Master of the Ledbury Hunt. She lived at Droitwich, and later at Stow-on-the-Wold. She was cited in the divorce case brought by Mrs Anne Warman, of Salwarpe Court, Droitwich, against her husband, Francis Byrne Warman. Other romantic involvements concerned Lord Rosebery.

Lady Sibell was buried at Madresfield. She had no children.


I saw the movie "Shopgirl" last night. It was a very slight movie, but beautiful in its way.

My favorite line was when the Claire Danes character asks Steve Martin's character why he won't love her. He can't give her a good answer. In a moment of clarity she realizes she has to break it off with him, and she says, "I guess I can either hurt now or hurt later; I'll hurt now."

That's pretty much the best way to make a hard decision that involves change and loss.

Tim Lee Band

Tonight RG and I are going to see our friends, The Tim Lee Band playing at Barley's in the Old City. Opening will be John T. Baker and a line-up dubbed Econopop.

Should be a lot of fun. You should come out too. Tim says the band will be playing a number of songs from their forthcoming new record.


dating down?

A friend e-mailed me this this morning. She says it's a trend: women "dating down".

A few choice snippets:

"For Ms. Sullivan, dating down, while appealing, has its limits. She referred to her own relationship history, with a series of starving-artist types. “For me, it was almost an escape,” she said. “I could leave the office after a stressful week on Friday and relax with one of those guys, bumming around drinking margaritas at Tres Aztecas, listening to him drone on about the one time his band played CBGB’s or whatever, and basking in his no-pressure lifestyle. It was like a little glimpse down the path not taken or something. Of course, eventually this always became entirely maddening and ended in a screaming ‘Why don’t you grow the fuck up?’ fight.”

“Sometimes, dating down is like waking up and looking in the mirror on a bad-hair day,” mused Allyson, the married high-school teacher. “You know you can do better, but you’re just too lazy to try.”

“I think a lot of women who end up dating down, so to speak, are tired of it and don’t want to deal anymore,” Ms. Coen said.

But those women who snuggle up happily at night to their dog-walker stay-at-home honeys? They should be celebrated—not vilified.

“Frankly, a lot of it is superficial crap that has nothing to do with the guy being less of a quality person than the woman,” said Sloane Crosley, publicity manager for Vintage Books and a voluble cheerleader for dating without boundaries. “Most women I know can look past a 32-year-old guy with a massive amount of credit-card debt, bad clothes, a shit job and three roommates in Hoboken—if he makes her laugh.”

While calling this a "trend" seems a bit contrived, I can relate to some of this, since I do have a tendency to date folks who are more creative but often less gainfully employed than I am.

But really, I would be A-OK with a guy who didn't have a job or much of a job if he handled things on the domestic front - things I am not great at or don't have time for because I'm busy working...

What do you think?


when children attack

I love this woman's blog - it's a regular read for me -- and yesterday she wrote about how horrified she is to find herself the mother of the kind of child who throws fits in shops, and how she's learning to accept that her kid is just not the easygoing, easy to handle kid she always figured she would have. It's very funny and very true.

I have one of these children as well - my youngest. People REALLY look at me askance when he's a pain in the ass in public. They're all thinking, "Hey, didn't you write a parenting book? So why is your son flailing around on the floor like that?"


the state of feminism today

Interesting critique in Alternet today of Maureen Dowd's new book, as well as the new one about "The Rise of Raunch Culture," neither of which I've read yet. I plan to pick up Dowd's book this weekend, but the other one sounds an awful lot like Katie Roiphe's book, "The Morning After."


listening to today ...

decisions, decisions

I am faced with two or three rather big decisions at the moment and am finding it difficult to come to definitive conclusions. My choices depend on a momentous leap of faith and I am anxious.

So I'm looking for good advice; how do you ponder and then settle on conclusions when you have major decisions to make? How do you decide when to close your eyes and jump, trusting that someone will catch you when they say they will? How do you know with some clarity that you've made the right decision?

baseball in knoxville?

This is a photo of my paternal grandfather's Uncle Victor, likely taken sometime in the 1920s. I am trying to figure out what team he might have been playing for - what league was in Knoxville then.

Anybody know anything about Knoxville baseball at that time? (And yes, I am asking Jack N. ;-)

My family isn't from Knoxville - Victor was born and raised in middle-North Carolina, so I was surprised to run across this photo.

Uncle Vic



This is a photo of me at my high school reunion earlier this year:


It was a great party and we had a terrific time. I was looking forward to getting more photos from the event taken by a classmate who is a really good photog.

They arrived in the mail yesterday, along with a note indicating the same photos had gone out to everyone...EVERYONE... with whom I graduated.

When I opened the envelope and held up the group photos she had taken, my jaw dropped. There is literally no way to describe to you how bad this photo is of me (I'd show you but I don't have a scanner). Everyone else looks about the same as they do in the above photo, but I stand alone, in the middle, with my mouth wide open and my head tilted back and my belly out in such a way that I look at least thirty pounds heavier than I actually am. I look like a chubby, braying mule.

It is literally THE most unflattering photo ever taken of me, ever. Seriously. I mean this. And it is even more horrific because A.) Everyone else in the photo looks normal and B.) I know that it has been sent to everyone in my class.

I had to laugh when I saw it, and I am trying really hard NOT to let it bother me. I mean, who cares, right? That's not what I actually look like and I never see most of these folks anyway, right? Right?


breast and bottle

This is an interesting essay from a woman who says she feels embarrassed bottle-feeding in public.

I'm sorry she feels this way, and really, she shouldn't, but things must be really different where she lives because in most places in the U.S., bottle-feeding is the norm and breastfeeding in public is rare. There are exceptions (well educated white women in the Pacific Northwest, for example, have a relatively high rate of breastfeeding), but here in Knoxville, TN, bottles far outnumber breasts in public spaces.

are you self actualized?

I'm not some superfamous novelist like Jennifer Weiner, but I do occasionally get asked some very weird questions when I do readings or speeches about stuff I've written. Here's Weiner's recent bizarro reader question of the week.

sondre lerche

It's always fun to discover new music you've never even heard of, much less heard before. Last night (via Rick G and his fellow Carl Snow Band-mate) I heard Sondre Lerche for the first time and I've been playing his CD this morning and just love it.

It sounds like a mix of Burt Bacharach/AC Newman/Nick Drake. It's very melodic, very complex pop, but with a stripped down arrangement that lets you hear every word perfectly. It sort of reminds me of cheesy French pop from the 60s, but in a good way.

Highly recommended.


Last night, after getting RG sufficiently well fed and liquored up, I convinced him to sit down with me and watch a chickflick-to-beat-all-chickflicks: Bridget JOnes: The Edge of Reason.

Big disappointment, especially for fans of Bridget #1, which is among my fave romantic comedies, period.

In this version, Bridget is so over the top that she's a caricature. All the characters are, actually. It's impossible to imagine Mark Darcy wanting to have anything to do with this frumpy crazy woman.

We only made it half way through the movie before RG began snoring, so I turned it off and watched the rest after he left.

Not recommended.



I saw a really good band last night, from Boston: The Weisstronauts. They have three awesome guitar players and sound sort of like space-surf-jazz-punk. Very fun.


Speaking of breeders (below), you should buy this book:


Are you metrospiritual?

tilting at windmills

This article from the New York Times. attempts to make the case that the desire some folks have to see kids behave in public places, like restaurants, is a battle between those of us with children and those without. The breeders vs. the childfree.


I am a breeder, for sure, with three kids and a passel of nieces and nephews I'm often running around with, but I do not allow my kids to be obnoxious in restaurants, stores, etc. If one of them falls apart (which sometimes happens with even the best behaved children), we leave. It's as simple as that.

makes elliot happy

My littlest child, ELliot, is incredibly grumpy in the mornings. While Jane bounds out of bed with a smile and a plan, and Henry is slowly communicative with a shower and caffeine, Elliot is just intractable. Much of the time, I bathe him and get him fully dressed for the next day the night before so we don't have to deal with battling over getting out of bed and dressed every morning.

So I was surprised that he hopped up with a happy mien this morning. When I asked him why, his answer was:

"I'm happy because today at school we get to dissect real cow eyeballs."


new pornographers

Perhaps the worst music video ever from the best pop band currently making records (click on "rock videos" tab at top of page).

But this one, for All For Swinging You Around and also directed by Blaine Thurier, is really good.

so very, very wrong

Read the last line of this article

Rod Stewart. In a thong. While you are attempting to focus on giving birth. Too scary for words.

And today it's...



Yesterday I rented and watched the movie "Sylvia," the Sylvia Plath biopic starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig. While I was watching, I wasn't that impressed with it, but today I find that it really stuck with me and I can't get it out of my head.

The movie is beautifully shot and gives a real sense of place and mood. And GP is quite amazing as Sylvia. But the missing link is that you never get a sense of the great passion that brought Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath together and ultimately tore them apart. Hughes is portrayed as an arrogant serial adulterer with few redeeming qualities.

A better piece of Sylvia-worship is the book Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath by Kate Moses.


a rant

Okay, I know this is a very common complaint, but I'm going to make it anyway: what's with the Christmas decorations already up all over my neighborhood? It's only November 6, for goodness sake. I took a long walk this morning and it was just really incongruous to see all the gorgeous fall leaves still mostly on the trees and then run across ayard with a huge plastic creche in it. I think that there should be a rule: no Christmas decorations until the trees are bare.


When someone dies, the people who love them worry that some day, the memory of that person will fade. That they won't remember them clearly. And the eventual loss of those clear memories is painful in its own quiet way, following the acute pain of losing the actual person.

I find that this is happening to me with memories of my marriage, which lasted more than a decade. It's not that I can't remember the person I was married to; I communicate with him almost daily because we are parents, but as time passes, I find it hard to remember the "us" part - what it was like when we were together. Our shared interests, our inside jokes, the way each of us positioned ourselves in our bed each night... These memories are curling up at the edges now.

And despite the fact that I believe ending the marriage was the right thing to do, I find myself clinging to what I can remember and sometimes, trying really hard to conjure up a clear memory of that now-dead relationship.

Currently listening to...


We have hundreds of national guard members returning home to East Tennessee from a year in Iraq this week. There has been lots of coverage on the news and in the newspaper showing happy family reunions. And no matter how many times I see someone go sprinting toward a returning soldier and jump in his/her arms, I get all weepy. It's just a beautiful thing. I'm so sorry they had to go at all but I am awfully glad for their families that they are home. And of course I think of the families all around our area who are also watching these reunions, knowing that their own soldier won't be coming home...ever.


I'm a huge Johnny Cash fan and can't wait to see Walk the Line when it comes out next week. The romance between June and Johnny has always fascinated me. Here's an an interesting new article about its turbulent beginnings.

So apropos of June and Johnny, do you think some people are meant to be together or that this is a romantic myth? Do you believe in love at first sight (or meeting)? Comment below...

greek for me

Apparently, one can now get really good Greek food at the Big Orange Chevron in South Knoxville. I love, love, love Greek food. I plan to try it out this weekend.
Here's an article about the surge in planned c-sections and inductions.

I can't imagine why anyone would plan a surgical birth. And more importantly, I am shocked that doctors do them, given that the risks are much greater than natural birth. Plus, are insurance companies PAYING for all thes unecessary c-sections and inductions?


Janeane Garafolo on Karl Rove:

"The only interesting thing about Karl Rove, in my opinion, is that he is, I believe, gay or bi. I find that to be the only likeable thing about him. I think that Karl Rove should be outed as gay only because if their fundamentalist evangelical right-wing backers (I know that a lot of progressives are evangelical, I'm just talking about the conservative fundamentalists) knew that one of their masters, Karl Rove, is in fact gay -- and there's absolutely no crime in that -- I think that might shake their fundamentalist evangelical base. That might be helpful in stopping people from voting against their best interests."


This morning and last night, listening to...

irony isn't pretty

Oh, Alanis, you are looking so, so bad.


meet the breeders

I think this blog is quite entertaining: Meet the Breeders (Formerly Annals of the Reluctantly Procreative)

It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons

I just got my copy of my friend Andrea Buchanan's new anthology, It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons and it's WONDERFUL. I stayed up late reading it last night. I am very honored to have an essay of mine included among all the wonderful writers in the anthology. The entire list of contributors is:

Stephany Aulenback, Karen Bender, Kathryn Black, Robin Bradford, Gayle Brandeis, Faulkner Fox, Katie Allison Granju, Ona Gritz, Gwendolen Gross, Melanie Lynn Hauser, Marrit Ingman, Susan Ito, Suzanne Kamata, Katie Kaput, Jennifer Lauck, Caroline Leavitt, Jody Mace, Jennifer Margulis, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Catherine Newman, Sue O'Doherty, Marjorie Osterhout, Jamie Pearson, Lisa Peet, Jodi Picoult, Maura Rhodes, Rochelle Shapiro, Kate Staples, and Marion Winik.

Andi's answered some questions about how she came to edit the book (she's also editing a companion anthology, It's a Girl):

From Rebecca Steinitz:

Q: As you read through piles of manuscripts from mothers of boys, did you find any consistent threads? Anything surprising?

Andi: I was surprised by the sheer volume of pieces I got on wanting to have a daughter instead of a son. Of course, I had felt that way myself when I was pregnant and had been so attached to the idea of having two girls, but I hadn't encountered too many people in my real life who felt the same. So I surprised to get so many essays on being the reluctant mother of a son.

From Sandra of the blog, Dance As If Nobody's Watching:

Q: What seems to be the biggest thematic difference between boy-centric concerns and girl-centric concerns?

Andi: For both the Boy book and the Girl book, I received many essay submissions from writers who were conflicted about the sex of their baby, something I came to call "prenatal gender apprehension." But the concerns of writers in It's a Boy were about the otherness of the male gender: What the heck do you do with a boy? Some of the writers in It's a Girl ask a similar question about raising their daughters, but what prompts that question is not the fear of an unknown gender, but of knowing it all too well. Also, in Boy, writers talked about the act of separation -- letting go of teenagers and a mother's changing role as her child becomes an adult. This separation, though, was mainly about adolescents. But in It's a Girl, writers wrestled with letting go of daughters who were five, eight, nine, teenagers, grown women. Clearly – in these collections, at least -- identification and separation between mothers and daughters is a different terrain from that of mothers and sons.

From Shannon at Peter's Cross Station:

Q: When I first heard about the project, it sounded like yet another opportunity to make stereotyped claims about gender in children. How have you been able to avoid falling into that old rut? How did you manage to do something new in this book (these books)?

Andi: Well, as I said in my original call for submissions, my whole idea with this book was to refute the gender stereotypes about boys and girls, and to explore whether or not those stereotypes really exist in actual boys and girls through essays by thoughtful writers. For the BOY book, I was specifically looking for pieces that questioned the cultural assumptions we have about boys -- whether the essayists ultimately embraced the stereotypes or rejected them was not as important to me as whether or not the writers wrestled with them in the first place. So the BOY book has pieces about a mother being surprised by a son's love, since what she experienced with her son ran counter to her expectations of what a boy would be like; about a transsexual mother grappling with how to raise her son in the face of everyone's attitude that her mere presence tips the scale in the direction of him being gay; about a woman nurturing her son's desire for soft, pretty things, even though a part of her wants to protect him from the harsh, messy world that will surely not be so kind; about boys who defy stereotypes, boys who fit them, and the way mothers adjust their expectations to fit the reality of who their sons are.

From Marjorie at MomBrain:

Q: You have a son and a daughter. How have these projects changed your feelings about mothering a son and mothering a daughter?

Andi: I think the experience of having a boy and girl has probably changed my feelings more than working on these projects has. Pre-kid I was a big nurture versus nature proponent, but now having two kids and seeing how different they are, I am more prepared to believe that children pretty much come as they are – both of mine were born with their temperaments, and I feel like my work with them is to help them either cope with that temperament or embrace it. (And that's how I think of the differences between them, by the way, as differences due to temperament, not necessarily gender.) But working on the books did give me a wonderful chance to read so many people's stories about their lives as mothers of boys or mothers of girls, and I found these tales of varied experience quite absorbing. I did come away from these projects with the distinct impression that mothering a girl can be somewhat more . . . intense or personal than mothering a boy. There's something about raising a girl that makes a mother have to confront her own girlness, and brings up her relationship with her own mother. That kind of intergenerational fraughtness just doesn't seem to be there with mothers of boys – at least in the stories in my book.



Don't forget that today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month. My writing buddy is my pal Rich Hailey. We are both committed to pounding out 50,000 words of fiction by the end of the month.

Here is the first letter of encouragement from the guy who started the whole thing:

Dear Writer,

What were you thinking?

I mean, really. With your busy schedule; with everything else you're
supposed to be doing in November, you're going to write a novel too?

Are you crazy?

We here at NaNoWriMo think you might be. Which is why we're so proud to
have you as part of the team this year.

Because you know what? No one in their right mind has ever accomplished
anything truly great. It's a delicious sort of insanity to reprioritize
your to-do list and move this freaky, creative adventure of novel-writing
to the very top.

Well, near the top, anyway.

Showering is important too.

As is napping.

The bathing and sleeping, we'll keep. But as for all the chores and favors
and selfless acts of kindness you've spent your life bestowing upon the
people around you...Well, in November, you're off duty.


Let the dog walk itself. Empower your kids to drive themselves to school.
Nothing instills character in a child like operating a piece of heavy
machinery. Cooking? Bah. A host of local fast food chefs stand ready and
waiting with a wondrous array of largely edible delights.

Pizza is brain food, after all. And you have more important things to do
than cook. You're going to be busy building universes and forging lives.
In November, we spare no moments for drudgery, devoting our limited hours
instead to frantic typing, long, bookish walks, and soulful glances out
the window (which serve as restful interludes between prose creation and
much-needed practice for our future book-jacket photo shoots).

Yes, November is our chance to play. To goof around in our imaginations.
To fall asleep fulfilled and wake up a'buzz with revelations about
backstories and front-stories and the electric, book-changing knowledge of
what our Peruvian double agent has been hiding inside that taxidermized
muskrat all this time.

In four weeks, this state of manic creative bliss will be over. And we can
go back to doing dishes and wearing clean clothes and talking in complete
sentences to our loved ones.

For now, though, our books beckon, and our tales demand an author.

Let's go give it to 'em.

Best of luck to everyone on the first week of writing. We'll meet again in
seven days, when we gather together on the mighty precipice of Week Two.

Off to dream a few beautiful stuffed muskrat dreams,


the halloween squash

I kept putting off getting a pumpkin to carve and finally, it was after dark, the night before Halloween (a Sunday) and I had a fruitless search for a pumpkin. After calling around, my brother in law located pumpkins at the Food City on Clinton Hwy, so I headed over there, only to find that what they called pumpkins, most people would call gourds...or squashes. But it's all they had, so I bought two of them and took them home. I expected my children to be really disappointed, but they found it quite amusing and were happy with their Halloween gourds

Here are Jane and my niece Eleanor with the Halloween gourds.


And Henry and I had a friendly wrestling match over the Halloween gourds.


And then Elliot fell asleep on the floor clutching his favorite of the two gourds.