Friday, October 31, 2008

Fashion On the Street

This photo is from the Sartorialist. I love the expensive black bag against an urban background. I like the variation in what she's wearing - the color, the texture, the layers. Blue tights. Patent shoes. Wrinkled cotton. Soft wrap. The girl almost has a red riding hood look about her but she's still very polished. Scott calls it "The Sculptor, Moscow." Click on the pic to see it large.

Moulin Rouge

Jen's dogs, Rose and Violet, ready for some holiday trick or treating ... Halloween is said to originate in Ireland and is known as Oíche Shamhna. Pagans held an autumn festival Samhain (End of Summer) and lit large communal bonfires to protect against evil spirits.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Ballad of Ballymote

by Tess Gallagher

We stopped at her hut
on the road to Ballymote
but she did not look up
and her head was on her knee.

What is it, we asked.
As from the dreams of the dead
her voice came up.

My father, they shot him
as he looked up from his plate
and again as he stood and again
as he fell against the stove
and like a thrush his breath
bruised the room
and was gone.

A traveler would have asked directions
but saw she would not lift her face.
What is it, he asked.

My husband sits all day in a pub
and all night and I may as well
be a widow for the way he beats me
to prove he's alive.

What is it, asked the traveler's wife,
just come up to look.

My son's lost both eyes in a fight
to keep himself a man
and there he sits behind the door
where there is no door
and he sees by the stumps
of his hands.

And have you no daughters for comfort?

Two there are and gone to nuns
and a third to the North
with a fisherman.

What are you cooking?

Cabbage and bones, she said. Cabbage
and bones.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cabbage and Bones (1997)

I've been waiting for Halloween week to post Caledonia Kearn's anthology of Irish American fiction. The themes are familiar ... funerals, loss, change, resentment, and a longing for a past more fanciful than real. It's the use of language I love, the extra pronouns, and the sense of other that exists in the daily life of those from the old country. An except follows from "Hour of Spring" by Mary Deasy:

"She remembered her great-granduncle Matt as a tall old man who wore a loose-fitting dark suit and derby hat, and who came to visit them twice a year on holiday afternoons, when he talked to them about the old days when he had lived on Burke Street .... Sometimes he went further back and talked about Ireland, and of his experiences with the little people there. He told them once that his grandmother had the glamour, and could see the fairies and traffic with them. She was a beautiful gray woman, he said; and told them how she would put an empty chair by the peats on a stormy night for some poor ghost to come in and rest.

He believed all that ... he believed it as implicitly as he believed in the Lord God sitting in His golden chair, and the angels and the blessed saints round. People who never knew the old Irish might think it incredible that a man could live for more than half a century in a modern American city and still believe in the existence of fairies, particularly a man as hardheadedly matter-of-fact as her great-granduncle Matt."

What about you? Do you have the glamour? Nearly everyone has a ghost story to tell. What's yours?

Click here to find out more about the book: Cabbage and Bones.

Monday, October 27, 2008

May 28, 1930

Dear Katherine,

I thought I'd told you were I was pulling out to, Cartersville, Ga. is my destination. to spend between quarters with my good friend Frances Hill.

Listen, I've just had a thought. Nolan P. Gartner will be home sometimes in June and I crave to be in Columbia, Tennessee at the same time he is and see what happens. Things could be explained, if he would. But really don't you think it would be amusing - I do.

The above paragraph should be in parenthesis. I'll now continue as above. Evelyn said that she would be more than glad to take you to the bus station and see you off if you'd like to spend the night. If we get a ride, tho', we won't leave until Thursday morning. Our plans are awfully vague because exam schedule hasn't been announced.

Didn't send Hatcher a bid 'cause Nell has my one & only evening dress. Any way they've made a new rule of no stags and the dances are stickier than molasses. It would have been nice, tho', if I had.

Don't know whether you are slamming me as a chaperone or not but I give you warning, I'll take the job, if offered. Would be pleased to pieces to accept. Just find a man to take me, and we'll dance away at Primm's. Whoopee -------------

We were initiated last night. I'm wearing a pin instead of a recognition pin and don't think I'm not proud of it. Hate for the time to come when I'll have to give it back.

Yep, went to the Manless Dance and didn't enjoy it in the least. They are getting sticky - or something. I'm fed up with school and everything and everybody. I've decided that I'm tired of getting educated in general.

I hate to think of the persons who won't be here next year. Seems like the whole school won't be back. I'll miss Marjorie like nothin' else, 'cause she's the one up here that I talk to like you and I talk.

I was just kidding about being jealous of you. but I'm almost that bad. As I said before, you really don't know me.

The saints preserve us. I've got to go teach swimming to the kids on the parks for the next three days. Teach girls and boys from 10-14. I hate Edna Marts for asking me, Roberta Miller for telling her I could and Dottie Tollson for saying that I had to. I'm told it's a great life. But I'm weakening - wonder if it's any better then. Couldn't be worse.

Miss Rood, the woman who had me scared to death, talked like she was going to pass me but I've got to make an addition to my paper that I'll have to make up out of a clear sky. Don't think there's any thing to be found on it. Even if she does talk like that I'll be holding my breath until I get by think bout June 10. Long time.

Better start the paper.

Love, 'Cile.

Blog Note: Nell is Cile's younger sister.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

May 21, 1930

Dearest Katherine,

Okyea, Peabody will allow you to stay with me if I'm here. But it's like unto this - I may leave here Fri. night at 9:30. If we finish exams Wed., like we hope to, Frances and I are pulling out. You're welcome to the use of my bed tho! and I can give you directions on how to get to the bus station. It isn't hard to find. Or my suite mate - Mary Jane might be big hearted and take you in her car. Don't you reckon I'll have a fairly good time this summer ... a car in my room and one in the suite. Ought to be able to get a ride once in a while.

I'm glad you are going to get to stay with Ruth, but I'm sure you wouldn't mind a stranger, you'd be having such a good time you'd have lots to talk of etc. I know from experience that it isn't so bad as it sounds. and you get along with strangers better than I do.

I should hope to say I would like to go to the C.M.A. dance. But I'm used to not having the things I want most - like that so why bother - it all comes in a lifetime and 25 years from now I'll be too old to care. Guess the Columbia girls are pepped. They know what it is now not to have uniforms about. Maybe I'll get to see Pee Wee again. Now I ask you, honestly? If I ain't the world's dumbest creature. Anybody that would. It's just plumb silly - anyone can be a fool but it takes me to be a damned fool. I've a confession to make. hope you won't be mad. I snitched your picture of last year's C.M.A. football team. If you want it back you can have it. even if I did swipe it for Willson's picture. If you see little Pee Wee give him the same message I said once before you could give him.

I appreciate you trusting me with the secret. I'm busting with importance. and rely on me not to tell - and when the news is broken, I'll turn actor and do it up brown. But you'll most probably get to write me when it is announced 'cause guess it will be about May 28 or thereabouts won't it.

I'll have to remember all I can about the paper - can't get a copy - and I'd rather not write it. Even I must be bad!

As to being jealous - I'm even jealous of you when I think you like somebody better than you do me. There is only one girl up here I'm not jealous of and I know where I stand with her. She has a crush on one girl but she's my friend, gives me good advice, etc. What a life - but next to you I'd count on her if I got into trouble.

As to riding - not planning on going with anyone, just taking care of any emergency that may come up.

Guess I've about answered your letter - now to start on new things.

I most assuredly am still running errands. Got to report to one of 'em as soon as I get out of this class. She lives in an apartment and hope I don't have to wash dishes or clean up her house. I'm getting used to the ribbon except when someone gives me a queer look - got so tickled yesterday when Miss Rood asked two old numbers where their hair ribbons were. Going to chapel every morning gripes me. at 20 til 8 and I don't have classes till nine. Have to get up a whole hour earlier than I would - loosing more good sleep.

Guess maybe we'll get initiated Sat. or I hope so anyway.

You know I just thought - imagine me doing that. Hope Hatcher doesn't forget about that dance at Primm's he was going to take me to.

We're going to have a Manless Dance Sat. Don't know whether I'll go or not. I've evidently lost my taste for them 'cause I didn't enjoy the last one a little bit.

We spent Sat. night and sun. out at Knopp Farm. Had a fairly good time but it rained and stormed on us. and I got scared half to death - the chaperone just barely missed catching me smoking. She walked into the room and wouldn't even look at me. She's my friend for life. Even if she does up and bust me on some courses. 'Cause she could ship me on it easy enough. but she doesn't want to get rid of any majors. I'm cured of one thing tho! - I'm going places where the chaperone won't be likely to walk in next time I choose to indulge in the nicotine habit.

Saw a cute show last nite - don't up and not go just cause I recommend it now - Charles Farrell & Janet Gaynor in "High Society Blues." I enjoyed it just lots. Also went to Ward-Belmont May Day yesterday and was kind of bored. Of course it was pretty. things over there always are, but just the same I have seen better ones.

This class is about to end and my information is running out so -

Love, 'Cile.

Bus schedule
Leaves Nashville 7 & 8 in the morning 12:30 and 4 in aft.
Time of trip about 8 hrs.
Arrives Knoxville calculate for yourself.
Rates $5.00

P.S. Little girl, you just don't know anything about me and I just wouldn't be interested in disillusioning you all at once - so live and learn - now you have something to live for. Thank me for giving it to you.

Blog Note: Katherine's trip to Knoxville was for her future husband's UT graduation . Perhaps the secret Lucile keeps is Katherine's engagement to J. Ruth is J's sister.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Powell Endorses Barack Obama

See the video here on Meet the Press. The key points of the interview are summarized below and taken directly from today's Washington Post.

During the recent economic crisis, Powell said, Obama had shown "steadiness, intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge." As for McCain, he said, "I've found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having, and almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. And that concerned me. I got the sense that he hasn't had a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had."

Powell said he was also concerned by McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whom he called "a distinguished woman" but someone not ready to be president. "That raised some question in my mind as to [McCain's] judgment," he said.

In explaining his decision, Powell was more critical of the Republican Party and McCain's campaign than of the candidate himself. He said Republican attempts to tie Obama to the 1960s domestic terrorism of William Ayers amounted to "demagoguery" and a distraction from pressing issues.

Powell also said he was troubled by Republicans who "said such things as 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well, the correct answer is 'He is not a Muslim; he is a Christian. He's always been a Christian.' But the really right answer is 'What if he is?' "

Powell, who supports affirmative action for minorities and abortion rights, has also expressed concern about McCain's positions on domestic social issues. "I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court," he said.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barack Obama for President

The Washington Post endorsement below:

THE NOMINATING process this year produced two unusually talented and qualified presidential candidates. There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Sen. John McCain. Yet it is without ambivalence that we endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president.

The choice is made easy in part by Mr. McCain's disappointing campaign, above all his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president. It is made easy in larger part, though, because of our admiration for Mr. Obama and the impressive qualities he has shown during this long race. Yes, we have reservations and concerns, almost inevitably, given Mr. Obama's relatively brief experience in national politics. But we also have enormous hopes.

Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. Obama has the potential to become a great president. Given the enormous problems he would confront from his first day in office, and the damage wrought over the past eight years, we would settle for very good.

The first question, in fact, might be why either man wants the job. Start with two ongoing wars, both far from being won; an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan; a resurgent Russia menacing its neighbors; a terrorist-supporting Iran racing toward nuclear status; a roiling Middle East; a rising China seeking its place in the world. Stir in the threat of nuclear or biological terrorism, the burdens of global poverty and disease, and accelerating climate change. Domestically, wages have stagnated while public education is failing a generation of urban, mostly minority children. Now add the possibility of the deepest economic trough since the Great Depression.

Not even his fiercest critics would blame President Bush for all of these problems, and we are far from being his fiercest critic. But for the past eight years, his administration, while pursuing some worthy policies (accountability in education, homeland security, the promotion of freedom abroad), has also championed some stunningly wrongheaded ones (fiscal recklessness, torture, utter disregard for the planet's ecological health) and has acted too often with incompetence, arrogance or both. A McCain presidency would not equal four more years, but outside of his inner circle, Mr. McCain would draw on many of the same policymakers who have brought us to our current state. We believe they have richly earned, and might even benefit from, some years in the political wilderness.

OF COURSE, Mr. Obama offers a great deal more than being not a Republican. There are two sets of issues that matter most in judging these candidacies. The first has to do with restoring and promoting prosperity and sharing its fruits more evenly in a globalizing era that has suppressed wages and heightened inequality. Here the choice is not a close call. Mr. McCain has little interest in economics and no apparent feel for the topic. His principal proposal, doubling down on the Bush tax cuts, would exacerbate the fiscal wreckage and the inequality simultaneously. Mr. Obama's economic plan contains its share of unaffordable promises, but it pushes more in the direction of fairness and fiscal health. Both men have pledged to tackle climate change.

Mr. Obama also understands that the most important single counter to inequality, and the best way to maintain American competitiveness, is improved education, another subject of only modest interest to Mr. McCain. Mr. Obama would focus attention on early education and on helping families so that another generation of poor children doesn't lose out. His budgets would be less likely to squeeze out important programs such as Head Start and Pell grants. Though he has been less definitive than we would like, he supports accountability measures for public schools and providing parents choices by means of charter schools.

A better health-care system also is crucial to bolstering U.S. competitiveness and relieving worker insecurity. Mr. McCain is right to advocate an end to the tax favoritism showed to employer plans. This system works against lower-income people, and Mr. Obama has disparaged the McCain proposal in deceptive ways. But Mr. McCain's health plan doesn't do enough to protect those who cannot afford health insurance. Mr. Obama hopes to steer the country toward universal coverage by charting a course between government mandates and individual choice, though we question whether his plan is affordable or does enough to contain costs.

The next president is apt to have the chance to nominate one or more Supreme Court justices. Given the court's current precarious balance, we think Obama appointees could have a positive impact on issues from detention policy and executive power to privacy protections and civil rights.

Overshadowing all of these policy choices may be the financial crisis and the recession it is likely to spawn. It is almost impossible to predict what policies will be called for by January, but certainly the country will want in its president a combination of nimbleness and steadfastness -- precisely the qualities Mr. Obama has displayed during the past few weeks. When he might have been scoring political points against the incumbent, he instead responsibly urged fellow Democrats in Congress to back Mr. Bush's financial rescue plan. He has surrounded himself with top-notch, experienced, centrist economic advisers -- perhaps the best warranty that, unlike some past presidents of modest experience, Mr. Obama will not ride into town determined to reinvent every policy wheel. Some have disparaged Mr. Obama as too cool, but his unflappability over the past few weeks -- indeed, over two years of campaigning -- strikes us as exactly what Americans might want in their president at a time of great uncertainty.

ON THE SECOND set of issues, having to do with keeping America safe in a dangerous world, it is a closer call. Mr. McCain has deep knowledge and a longstanding commitment to promoting U.S. leadership and values.

But Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and America's place in it. He, too, is committed to maintaining U.S. leadership and sticking up for democratic values, as his recent defense of tiny Georgia makes clear. We hope he would navigate between the amoral realism of some in his party and the counterproductive cocksureness of the current administration, especially in its first term. On most policies, such as the need to go after al-Qaeda, check Iran's nuclear ambitions and fight HIV/AIDS abroad, he differs little from Mr. Bush or Mr. McCain. But he promises defter diplomacy and greater commitment to allies. His team overstates the likelihood that either of those can produce dramatically better results, but both are certainly worth trying.

Mr. Obama's greatest deviation from current policy is also our biggest worry: his insistence on withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq on a fixed timeline. Thanks to the surge that Mr. Obama opposed, it may be feasible to withdraw many troops during his first two years in office. But if it isn't -- and U.S. generals have warned that the hard-won gains of the past 18 months could be lost by a precipitous withdrawal -- we can only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of success in Iraq and adjust his plans.

We also can only hope that the alarming anti-trade rhetoric we have heard from Mr. Obama during the campaign would give way to the understanding of the benefits of trade reflected in his writings. A silver lining of the financial crisis may be the flexibility it gives Mr. Obama to override some of the interest groups and members of Congress in his own party who oppose open trade, as well as to pursue the entitlement reform that he surely understands is needed.

IT GIVES US no pleasure to oppose Mr. McCain. Over the years, he has been a force for principle and bipartisanship. He fought to recognize Vietnam, though some of his fellow ex-POWs vilified him for it. He stood up for humane immigration reform, though he knew Republican primary voters would punish him for it. He opposed torture and promoted campaign finance reform, a cause that Mr. Obama injured when he broke his promise to accept public financing in the general election campaign. Mr. McCain staked his career on finding a strategy for success in Iraq when just about everyone else in Washington was ready to give up. We think that he, too, might make a pretty good president.

But the stress of a campaign can reveal some essential truths, and the picture of Mr. McCain that emerged this year is far from reassuring. To pass his party's tax-cut litmus test, he jettisoned his commitment to balanced budgets. He hasn't come up with a coherent agenda, and at times he has seemed rash and impulsive. And we find no way to square his professed passion for America's national security with his choice of a running mate who, no matter what her other strengths, is not prepared to be commander in chief.

ANY PRESIDENTIAL vote is a gamble, and Mr. Obama's résumé is undoubtedly thin. We had hoped, throughout this long campaign, to see more evidence that Mr. Obama might stand up to Democratic orthodoxy and end, as he said in his announcement speech, "our chronic avoidance of tough decisions."

But Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Starbucks in Ballston (Metro)

I've been in my new condo for a month now. There are many things I like about it ... I sleep better. I have a dishwasher. The light is good and my view is green. The best part is I don't spend endless hours commuting to work and fighting city dust, but lately I've been missing my Adams Morgan Starbucks. They are a fast-paced group of interesting people that remember what you order day to day and have your cup of coffee ready before you step up to the counter. Geographically, I'm only a few Metro stops away from my old home but the difference from DC to Virginia is astounding. I mean, for God sakes, how slow can you possibly pour that cup of coffee and count out my change? These people must all be on sedatives.

I know I sound irritable and maybe I'm suffering from caffeine withdrawal since I don't live right over top my fix anymore, but I miss the city pace even if it's not healthy for me.

And that brings me to today. I stopped in for a tall coffee at the Ballston Metro Starbucks and asked the barista kid where I could get back issues of the Good Sheet. My country bumpkin server told me he didn't even know what I was talking about. The brochures have only been right under his nose for several weeks now. No wonder people vote for celebrities instead of intelligent candidates. Picking up a piece of paper might have caused this kid to exert some energy.

And then when he told me my coffee was on the house, and I insisted on paying anyway, he put the $2 in the TIP JAR for HIMSELF? Can you believe it?

Next time you are in Starbucks, pick up the Good Sheet and try to behave better than I did. It's an adjustment I'm going through. This week's topic talks about where your money goes when you buy a gallon of gas. Be informed and vote Democratic.