Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wall of Separation or Good Neighbor Fence?

Whilst looking for the perfect illustration, I found this at

Hello Internets!

I need to get to bed, but I wanted to check in with you to see what you think about the concept of the wall of separation between church and state. It seems to be a hot button topic these days, but usually comes up pretty regularly at this time of year because of Christmas displays in public places and celebrations in schools.

I have my own stories and thoughts to share, but I thought I'd ask you for yours first. Please comment! I'm going to be teaching a Mature Learning college course on the Wall of Separation in January, so I'm eager to mooch off your experiences and mighty brains.

Bonus points if you also share your favorite holiday memory/film/song!
Note that I say "also" - be sure to answer the main question first!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Just a quickie for you darlings this afternoon, I'm afraid. I've been more than a little busy with this life thing. But I'm just bursting to share something, and I know that you are a sympathetic ear.

This morning, I read a blog post from a friend who has three girls. She entitled it Fathers, Daughters and Boys, and began with the words:

Our girls are precious cargo, treasures, like fragile crystal.


My husband is protective, cautious, wise and strong, and he will go out of his way to make sure our daughters are treated like beautiful creations of God. My husband used to joke with the girls about the day they brought home a boy. “I will be cleaning my guns.” He would say, and they believed him.

For some reason, this Facebook page title popped into my head:

If you hurt my son I will make your death look like an accident.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up what's in my heart. Boys are quite possibly even more fragile. And girls can be unbelievably brutal.

I think that many parents of just girls think that boys are the enemies.
And that many parents of just boys think that girls are the enemies.

But many parents of at least one boy and one girl realize that all other children, regardless of gender have the potential to hurt their kids equally.

Right now, with only my teen son out in society, I tend to think of girls as cruel, capricious and generally all the spawn of Satan.

Some day, when my little girl enters the wild world of dating, I will undoubtedly hate and fear boys as well.

I'm glad I have a boy and a girl because I see their strengths and weaknesses, and cherish both. And I hereby send a fervent request out to the divinity that shapes our ends that no one hurts either one of them.

We are all God's creatures.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Laurence Olivier, Eat Your Heart Out

Andrew Forrest as Mr. Darcy, December 2010

Imagine this image enlarged to 20 x30, framed, hung above a fireplace, lit by gleaming brass chandeliers. A shy young woman acting as the housekeeper at Pemberley inquires of a more confident young actress portraying Elizabeth Bennet whether she has met Mr. Darcy, the character who is depicted. Another confident young woman in the role of Elizabeth's aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, asks her if the painting is a good likeness.

And my heart is full.

It has been a busy couple of months preparing for the local high school production of Pride and Prejudice. I have worked harder than usual and performed a number of new tasks to support the students and their wonderful directors. And, honestly, even if everyone had missed their cues and forgotten all their lines, it would have been totally worth it.

But of course they didn't. The students and their teachers are incredibly talented, and put on a fabulous show. I have loved every minute working with them, assisting whatever way I could in order to be part of this magical process of transformation.

I have also made some fantastic friends in the form of my fellow drama mamas. They are women I might never have met were it not for the fact that our children are in a production together. And what a loss that would have been. Kim, Robyn, Tracie, Rachael....four busy women who have shared anxieties, hopes, triumphs and a lot of laughs and hugs.

There is also the experience of watching my son. My firstborn, my pride and joy. He interprets Darcy in his own unique way, with his beautiful deep voice reciting the classic lines of Jane Austen. I confess I am probably quite prejudiced, but I think his English accent is gorgeous. I am so thankful for all the hard work the directors and so many students have put into this production. They capture their characters so very well, and have so much enthusiasm. We've all seen shows where one or two people are super, but the rest are mediocre. That's not the case here. While I might tell myself that my son is the best thing evah, I also honestly feel that his peers are great. And I am so happy he has some very good friends in the group.

Like I told you, my heart is full.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adventures in Speech and Debate and Englishmen

I found this at

I feel a bit like Michael Palin's character in Monty Python's Flying Circus' "Gumby Brain Surgery" sketch.

My brain hurts.

It was a long weekend for la Famille de Forrest. Super Son competed in a Congress Debate event whilst Professor X and I scurried about doing Speech and Debate Booster Club support activities, including judging some events. We heard some great stuff from a lot of wonderful young people. I especially love judging events like impromptu, where they're given a choice of three topics and have to choose one, then make up and deliver a speech on the spot. It takes guts to do this type of activity. It's been over a quarter of a century since I participated in speech and debate, and I can still remember how nervous I felt before each round, how my heart pounded and my stomach churned.

I had lots of good stuff I wanted to tell you about regarding the speech and debate topic, but I got distracted with hanging out with the kids and my man, going to the local fitness center to get more sleek, eating a great steak dinner grilled by the man, watching The Simpsons featuring Hugh Laurie and Daniel Radcliffe, and enjoying my new secret boyfriend, Benedict Cumberbatch, in his brilliant portrayal of Sherlock.

I was first introduced to him when I watched Fortysomething, a funny television series starring Hugh Laurie. Have a peek at some of the scenes with Cumberbatch. Hearing all those lovely British accents gets me very excited about our upcoming visit to the UK this summer. I do love me some Englishmen. You're just going to have to wait for my Speech and Debate recollections and observations, I'm afraid.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WTF Has Obama Done So Far?

I had prepared myself for bad news yesterday, so I wasn't shocked when the tide of red began to sweep the map. Still it was a blow when my own congressional district chose a woman who does not represent my values.

I've heard a lot of people say that the election of all these conservative candidates is a backlash against the President and the Democratic-controlled Congress.

I just don't get it. A backlash against what, precisely?

Significantly expanding Pell grants, which help low-income students pay for college

Providing travel expenses to families of fallen soldiers to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB?

Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America's Veterans?

Or maybe it's something else?* God knows they've accomplished a lot in just two short years, after 8 years of an administration that screwed our environment, turned a surplus into a deficit, and sent our troops into wars that shouldn't have been started in the first place.

I am angry today. But unlike Sharron Angle, I don't intend to "resort to Second Amendment remedies." Instead, I take comfort in the fact that at least she and some of the other more obvious wackos didn't win. Still, Michele Bachmann is reelected. And that woman scares the shit out of me. You probably saw the footage of her interview with Chris Matthews. Here Matthews reflects on the interview. Shades of Joe McCarthy! I want to know WTF Minnesota voters are thinking. Seriously?

*Check this out for more examples:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Second Chances

Laurie Viera Rigler, author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

I have to tell you the sad news: I didn't win any of the Austen books in the giveaway I mentioned in my last post. But the good news is that the author is offering another giveaway! Check it out and watch a funny clip about chamber pots vs. toilets:

Laurie Viera Rigler is the author. She just visited Portland, but sadly, I didn't get to meet her. Though I volunteered to help at the JASNA AGM event, and worked at the registration table, our paths didn't cross. I wish now that I had coughed up the money for the event, but it was spendy and I'm saving for a trip to visit Jane Austen's home in England this summer. Life is all about choices.

Speaking of choices, I hope Laurie chooses me to win her books!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fun Jane Austen Goodies

I'm excited about the prospect of winning a pair of novels by Laurie Viera Rigler:

"Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict" and "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict." I just learned of the contest at

Go check out the website for details, and to watch a very clever video clip.

This has been a busy weekend for me - I helped with a great Halloween theatre event/fundraiser, and volunteered at the Annual Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America. When I'm less exhausted, I'll post some observations about it all.

For now, I've got my fingers crossed about winning these fun-sounding novels!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Believe Everything You Read

I am just going to say it:

A literal interpretation of this writing leads to absolute abominations.
Am I talking about Hustler? The Marquis de Sade's libertine novel Juliette? Joseph Goebbels' anti-Semitic ravings?


It's the book that John Muir's father deemed “the only book human beings could possibly require,” the book that both Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama used to swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, the book that is so often quoted to justify hatred and violence.

I'm not just talking about loons like the Westboro Baptist Church, Rev. Donald Spitz or James Dobson. I'm thinking of people like a very nice lady who was my mom's friend, who took us out on her boat when the kids were little. Somehow we got into a discussion where she espoused the view that AIDS was God's punishment for homosexuality. I was as stunned as if she had mooned me and crapped on the deck. I disagreed with her politely (after all, we were on a boat, and I needed to get back on dry land eventually) and we moved on to other topics. But it was an epiphany for me. It's not just whack jobs like Dr. Laura who think this way.

I've been working on my upcoming Freedom of Religion class, reviewing popular culture films and television shows to serve as discussion starters. Here's a doozie on this theme.

I LOVE this clip. I love the writing. I love the delivery. And I have adored Martin Sheen since sixth grade, when a teacher screened The Missiles of October, in which he played Bobby Kennedy.

Just in case you can't get the clip to play, here's the script excerpt.

Bartlet: "Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality ‘an abomination.'"

Jacobs: "I don't say homosexuality is an abomination Mr. President. The Bible does."

Bartlet: "Yes it does. Leviticus-"

Jacobs: "18:22."

Bartlet launches into an impassioned diatribe interspersed with shots of an uncomfortable Jacobs fidgeting: "Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? [silence in the room] While thinking about that can I ask another? My chief-of-staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?

"Here's one that's really important, 'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side-by-side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you.

"One last thing. While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the ignorant tight-ass club, in this building when the President stands, nobody sits."

This is not to say that I don't acknowledge there are lots of great lessons in the Bible. Many of my friends do wonderful things, helping others in amazing ways. They choose to focus on the aspect of love rather than be judgemental.

As a teacher and parent, I've been encouraged to foster critical thinking in learners and my own children. To comprehend, analyze and evaluate rather than simply swallowing whole everything I hear or read.

I find it troubling that some folks who rationalize their prejudices do so by contending they believe everything in the Bible, yet ignore many, many parts of it. If you're going to be a fundamentalist, I don't think you get to pick and choose.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fangirl for a Redheaded Hamlet

I have seen a LOT of plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival over the past 22 years.

I have NEVER seen the same one twice.

Until now.

I've endeavored to see every play with Dan Donohue since he joined the gang in 1994.

I've really enjoyed his comedic turns in roles like
Dvornichek in Tom Stoppard's ROUGH CROSSING
Andrew Aguecheek in TWELFTH NIGHT

Not to mention his incredible work in

the three year cycle playing Hal in HENRY IV, PARTS 1 & 2 and Henry in HENRY V.

This year, the man has outdone himself. He is totally hilarious as

Waiter in She Loves Me.

And he is amazingly masterful as

Hamlet in Hamlet.

So amazingly masterful, in fact, that I paid for tickets not just once, but TWICE.

And the family adored him just as much, so they did the same.

He is the most physical, funny, clever Hamlet ever. His intonations and expressions as he performs are so unique. They illuminate this character in a completely fresh, wonderful way. For the first time, I really gave a damn that SPOILER ALERT! Hamlet dies at the end.
We loved every minute of the play in August. And again a week ago.

We drove five hours down and five hours back in order to see him again.

And in between those five hour drives, we were thrilled to be rewarded for our wait by the stage door by him coming out and visiting with us. Even though he was clearly exhausted, he signed our programme and shook our hands, and permitted us to love on him for a few minutes.

I confess it. I am a fool for this actor.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quick! Talk to Me About Free Speech

I am putting the finishing touches on my course notes for the first class of
The Right to Offend: Freedom of Speech in America.

And I am just a wee bit panicky.

I feel like I'm overlooking something.

I'd love to hear from you, dear readers. If you were attending a community education course for mature learners (aged 55+) over the span of five weeks, meeting once a week for two hours, (ie we have ten hours to cover everything) what would you want to learn?

What topics would you find most interesting?

What specific examples of free speech issues in action would you enjoy discussing?

Use those free speech rights! Comment now!

I am all ears.

Admittedly, this is not really a picture of me. But I thought it would make you laugh, and then maybe be more inclined to share your brain. Well, not your actual brain....just your ideas.

PS Bonus points for cool things I can share with the class. I found one neat clip tonight:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Which I Confess My Prejudice

Jane Austen is celebrating to learn that her most famous male character will be played by the best actor evah!

I am bursting at the seams to share some outstanding news with you. My brilliant son has been chosen by a pair of incredibly insightful directors to play (drumroll, please)


in Pride and Prejudice.

My stage mother instincts are in full gear. I am seriously thinking about buying a full page ad in Variety to announce this. I think the child is going to be absolutely incredible. But I am honest enough to admit that I am totally prejudiced.

Get it? Prejudiced? Ha ha ha. I am so hilarious.

I am also super proud.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lord, Protect Me From Your Followers

Photo found at parody site Landover Baptist Church. Sadly, the article link below is true.

I read this exciting newsflash tonight.

I try really hard to remember that many Christians I know are fantastic people. But when this kind of shit happens, I get sick to my stomach.

When we moved to the Pacific Northwest years ago, Professor X and I joined a church. We attended services, participated in the parents with young children group, helped with Vacation Bible School. One of the things I really loved about the whole deal was that the pastor who led the new member class spoke to us about his view that there are many paths which lead to heaven, that our denomination wasn't the only way. He was accepting of other religions and embraced learning about others' beliefs.

It seems like so many Christians now adopt the "my way or the highway" attitude when it comes to faith. And when I see behaviors ranging from a teen's thoughtless post attacking non-Christians to this sort of organized, pastor-led libricide, I wonder if we are headed for a real cataclysm.

I talked to a man tonight who clearly enjoys saying provocative things about politics and negative things about our current administration to elicit responses from others. One of my friends witnessed our exchange, and I think he was surprised I didn't bother to respond to the man, voicing my own opinion. Why bother? I have had experiences with such folks in the past, and it's a waste of my time.

We engaged in some further chitchat, and he said that politics was like armpits. "Both sides stink," he chortled, obviously considering himself a great wit. I was moved to comment that I liked the Irish system of government, with more than two parties, so that leaders were compelled to negotiate and form coalitions to create policy. I think that would be a good system to adopt here. He had no response. Apparently a serious discussion of alternatives wasn't fun.

My mom used to say that politics was a dirty business, and that our governmental system wasn't any good, but it was still better than any other nations'. Mind you, she hadn't studied any of the other countries' governments, but she was a proud American. We don't talk politics much these days, but I am betting her opinion hasn't changed much. I always thought it was kind of cool that other countries had different systems, and found some good in many of them that would be worthwhile for us to consider.

After reading tonight's disturbing news story, I can't help thinking that having multiple religions is a good thing too. With our current system of Democrat vs. Republicans, all too often people fall into a sort of sports fan mentality, cheering on "their team" rather than considering whether a policy is good or not. And when leaders of Dove World Outreach Center think it's okay to burn the holy books of another religion in a kind of fucked-up rally demonstration for their team, I am angry on behalf of the religion they're attacking.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The Merchant of Venice, Anthony Heald and Jonathan Haugen

Can I share something with you? Today I read something that really ticked me off. It was posted as a high school girl's status update.
Corinthians 6:14~Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
Give me a friggin' break.

I am so tired of some Christians' attitudes that they are better than anyone who is not a Christian. (Not to mention those who think they are better Christians than other Christians.) This particular phrasing the young woman employed has been used in many other places; a google search yielded over 600 hits.

We recently spent a glorious week down in Ashland (insert genuflection here) at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, seeing plays and attending discussions with actors and dramaturgs. I'll share more about the details in future posts, but I want to mention something specific here: my family's response to The Merchant of Venice. It was a brilliant production of a troubling play. Spoiler alert: Shylock, a Jewish moneylender in Venice, is forced to convert to Christianity in order to retain his property. Both kids were outraged at this turn of events. And they found it totally believable, given the intolerant, holier-than-thou attitudes of so many of their Christian peers.

I read a great piece about Anthony Heald, the actor who portrays Shylock. The first Jewish actor in the 75 year history of OSF to perform the role, Heald wrestled with many issues. I love his analysis:

"I think the biggest mistake is to present all the Christians as bigots and Shylock as noble. What that does is leave the suggestion that even noble Jews are capable of vicious acts. No -- Jewish people with psychological flaws, like Christians with psychological flaws, are capable of vicious acts."
Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Anthony Heald has found a rewarding home in Ashland, where he's become a key member of the talented company. Director Bill Rauch describes him as "a brilliant craftsperson" and a "seeker of the truth" through his art. ~caption from Marty Hughley's Oregonian article
I'd encourage Christians to really consider these words:

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means,
warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his
sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
(Act III, scene I)

Right on, Will.

I am sick of sanctimonious schmucks.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Departing Friends

I'm feeling melancholy this evening, as I contemplate the upcoming move of a very good friend. Mama Milton is leaving our town, headed to a place a few hours away. I know that I will miss her very much, and Daring Daughter will miss her wonderful girl. But I've tried hard not to think about it since she broke the news. Like Scarlett O'Hara, I told myself I'd think about it tomorrow.

Very soon, there won't be any more tomorrows. She will be down the road, and I'll no longer be able to just call her up on the spur of the moment to get together.

This sucks.

But she will still be close enough that we can, with a bit of planning, rendezvous someplace between our homes. Or we can travel down a few hours to see her. Still, it is a loss, and I'm mourning.

There's another friend I met through blogging that I won't be able to visit. His name was Barry Fraser. He lived in Canada with his wife, and they had many adventures together. I discovered his wonderful storytelling and commented at his blog, An Explorer's View of Life. Soon, he was reciprocating. I always looked forward to his observations on my posts. We shared a love of nature, a willingness to protect it through environmental activism, and a progressive view of politics. Then he discovered he had cancer. And though he battled it with determination and grace, he passed away on July 20th.

His blog has a wonderful quote that gives me comfort. But I still miss him very much.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Slightly pensive but still scrumptious

My heart goes pitty pat. He really is not that much younger than me.

When I was in college, I was quite disapproving of the behavior of my various roommates who played the same song over and over incessantly.

When I became a parent, I quickly grew resigned to the fact that my spawn would play the same video again and again nonstop.

But now that I am a (mostly) mature, well-rounded woman, I recognize there is nothing strange about watching a DVD eleven times in a three day period.

Not when it features Jason Bourne.

What took me so long to discover these films?!

Put that paper down and come to bed, honey.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One Fine Day aka Magic Bus

Because I am feeling slightly pooped très fatigué this evening - whoops, this morning (it is now 12:05 am) - I am going to rely on my exceptionally talented writer friend Bad Mom to share the deets of the early part of our day together.

Please go over here to enjoy her wonderful text and photos.

More later. Because she left out a ton of good stuff. She must be très fatigué aussi.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where Would You Go?

Professor X and I were talking today about the prospect of a sabbatical in a few years. We definitely want to go back to Europe; the entire family loved being there. Rather than renting a house for 9 months and then roaming around from place to place for two months as we did previously, we thought it might be better to rent houses in different places for 3 months at a time and roam for a couple.

For some reason right now, I am obsessed with the idea of France. I blame Facebook. The advertising gnomes put an ad for a vacation home in Domme into my sidebar. That area is my idea of heaven. I also loved the buildings of nearby Sarlat and the countryside. So I am lobbying for a French locale as one of our three.

Where would you stay if you could spend 3 or more months? It's time to share your travel fantasies.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rejection Sucks

Someone I love has just been rejected.
It makes my own heart ache; it gives me cause to reflect.
How hard it is to put yourself out there, to be hopeful, to make an offer of oneself.
How brutal it is to receive a "no, thanks," no matter how kindly given.
So now there is the licking of wounds, the questioning of one's self worth, the pain.

I think about my own hopes and dreams,
and resolve to do more to expose myself to rejection
because taking the safe path and not trying
might not be so dangerous
but it also yields no rewards.

Whether we are disappointed in love
or in our creative endeavors
it's a punch in the gut.

But if we keep trying like Dr. Seuss did,
remain as upbeat as Dante was about Beatrice
our hearts will heal and we'll be happy.

Still, there will be gloom despite the sunshine today.
As Charlie Brown so aptly observed,
when musing on the the lack of reciprocity from the red-haired girl:
"Nothing quite takes the taste out of peanut butter like unrequited love."

This song's for all of us who've had our hopes dashed. May it help the peanut butter taste better.


So there we are in Ikea, after a satisfying dinner of 100 meatballs, mashed taters and lingonberries, when we decide to buy some stuff in the food department. And what does my husband get but a bag of this coffee. Our son read the name and could not stop laughing. Our daughter read it and cracked up. My husband was aghast that she found it amusing at her tender young age.

I asked her "Sweetie, why is that so funny?"

She said, "Mom! It's like that alien guy Robin Williams played! You know, Mork from Ork? Only it's Morkrost, like he's been ground into coffee beans and roasted!"

I am very confident that is NOT why our son was laughing.

I am also not entirely sure that she wasn't laughing for another reason too.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Have you ever really wanted to do something, but then decided that you didn't want to do it after all? And then you worry that your friends will think you are a complete and total flake and idiot and they won't want to be your friends anymore?

Of course, I'm totally just speaking hypothetically here.

See, I have a friend - we'll call her Spamtastic Sorryass - who saw a really nice desk and file cabinet that her friend's late father had owned, and thought "Wow, that would be great in my home!" So when she learned it would be part of the estate sale, she said "Oh, I definitely want that!" And she even wrote out a check for it. But then she realized that she didn't NEED the desk, she just WANTED the desk. She needed a bunch of other things instead. And she didn't even really have room for the desk. So she felt totally foolish. And she quickly called the estate sales person and asked that the desk be put back into the sale. And then she prayed that someone else would buy the desk. And now she is awake at half past midnight, freaking out that her friend will think she is a total spaz because she kept saying how much she wanted the desk previously.

What a pitiful person. Ha ha ha! Good thing this is just a hypothetical situation, right? It would totally suck to be stupid like that.

Yeah, it sure would.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On Unexpectedly Finding The Perfect Sentiments in a Hallmark© card

I don't know about you, but I agonize a bit when I need to purchase a birthday card. And not just because they have become obscenely expensive (I saw one for $7.99 at Walgreens yesterday) but because I want to make sure that it is THE PERFECT CARD.

The card that will make everyone laugh.
The card that will express everything that is in my heart.

The card that will let the recipient know that I am THE BEST FRIEND EVER/BEST DAUGHTER EVER/BEST SISTER EVER....
The card that will let the recipient know that he is THE BEST SON EVER.

I looked at a lot of cards that were very nice. I almost bought one; the message was nearly right, along the lines of how proud of him his Dad and I are.

But I kept scanning the rack for something better.

I almost didn't find it.

And then, tucked behind some envelopes, I spotted it:



You know you're blessed
when you have a son
you really believe in -
when you look at him and see,
above all else,
the talent and the determination
to accomplish whatever
he puts his heart and his mind to.

That's the kind of son we have in you,
and if we could wish just one thing
for you on your birthday,
it would be this:

May you always believe in yourself
the way we believe in you.

Happy Birthday, Andrew. We know you will do great things, because you have already begun to do so.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Student Politics are not for Sissies

Each time someone sends me a friend request on Facebook, I spend some time first thinking about whether I'm comfortable opening up myself to that person. It's not that I hide my political beliefs or my propensity to use bad language from those I know, but some of the requests I get are from people who may have just met me, and I might not have had a chance to exercise all of my colourful vocabulary in person.

It's a particular concern when I get friend requests from young people. Some of Super Son's friends have sent me requests. I like to think it is because they admire me as a brilliant conversationalist and potential mentor, a trendsetter whose style they want to emulate. Yeah....sure. It does make me wonder sometimes who else is reading my scintillating status updates and snarky comments to friends. Do groups of students gather around the computer of one who has friended me, eager to see what I've written? Not bloody likely. Are parents of some of these impressionable young persons reading my blathering, aghast at my wild liberal viewpoints on issues like health care reform, social justice and gay rights?


But I just can't lose a lot of sleep over what they think. Because although some of what I write and say is pure silliness, sometimes a tad racy (truthfully, not much worse than the level of a "that's what she said" joke), some of my posts and comments relate to my core beliefs and values. And if I'm not willing to state those positions and take action every once in a while, I'd be a pretty poor role model.

There are some evildoers from Westboro Baptist Church coming to my town, determined to picket at a local high school. You can read the details here. I posted the article on my Facebook page, and noticed that many of the local high schoolers were already doing the same thing. Word spreads pretty fast on the interwebs. Young people are organizing to take action to counter protest these haters and spread a message of acceptance and tolerance and love. Super Son is one of them. And I've volunteered to drive him and others - who have their parents' written permission (I am not stupid, after all) to the counter protest. I am proud of and impressed by these young people. They are standing up for what they believe. That takes guts. And I want to support them.

I believe there are bad guys and injustice in the world, and it's up to people like me to stand up to that to make things better. Now all I need to do is decide what to put on my counter protest sign. Leave your suggestions in the comments. The photo at the top of this post shows some examples of signs from another counter protest. They make me laugh. Laughing is good. I think God likes laughter, don't you?

Here's my theme song. What's yours?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Would YOU Do?

My second husband takes Stephen Hawking to task for his comments about time travel. Consider this my Cinco de Mayo gift to you. Enjoy with a nice glass of sangria. Then leave me a comment on this topic: What would you do if you could time travel?
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Hawking Is Such an A-Hole - Time Travel
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Civic Courage

As Super Son stays late after school each day, in rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz, (the story of a young girl's desperate struggle to return home to her beloved Uncle Henry), I am watching the news with great interest. Recently, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said something I thought was pretty darned smart:

Running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage.

The Oregonian editors wrote a great piece about the case involved. You can read it here. The case, Doe v. Reed, is from my home state of Washington. As the editors explain:
The court was wrestling with the nature of democracy vs. secrecy. At issue: whether people who sign ballot petitions should have a new right to add their names to ballot petitions -- anonymously.
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, a place with some very interesting politics. It wasn't until I moved out west, first to Oregon and, later, to Washington, that I learned about the initative process. Professor X and I did quite a bit of research in the 1990's on Ballot Measure 9, a precursor to the recent Proposition Hate in California. Like those two measures, the one involved in this recent court case concerns gay rights. This little gem, which I'm happy to say was resoundingly rejected by the voters, sought to overturn domestic partnership protections for gay and lesbian couples. Petition signers didn't want the public to know about their bigotry and sought to have the names remain secret. The Oregonian observed that
But by signing their names on initiative or referendum petitions, people act as citizen legislators. Yes, in the age of the Internet, it may take some special courage to let your name hang out in the public square, but that is a minimal requirement of petitioning for a change in the law. ... Signers' names should be public in the same way that lawmakers' names, are public.
Years ago, I had a mad crush on was crazy in love with deeply admired one of my political science professors. Something he said has always stuck with me. Just a pithy little truism, I suppose. But that doesn't make it any less valid.

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

I believe firmly in the sentiments expressed by this quote of Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle:

Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.

A military man, my professor undoubtedly knew of the speech of General Douglas MacArthur, in which he stated:
Last, but by no means least, courage--moral courage, the courage of one's convictions, the courage to see things through. The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It's the age-old struggle--the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.
Maybe if people know that they can't anonymously seek to prevent others from having equal rights, they'll think again. They might ponder how their friends and neighbors would feel if their intolerance was public knowledge.

I've testified at many hearings and written many letters to the editor expressing my opinion about all sorts of issues. It's not always safe; sometimes those who disagree have confronted me and asked to take it outside. Once, I testified at a Forest Service hearing about wilderness areas and the need to protect some places from motorized vehicles. A motorcycle enthusiast got in my face when I was done speaking, and walked into the hallway with me so that he could explain that God created those wild places so that he could ride his noisy, stinky bike there. He phrased it a little differently, but he definitely mentioned that it was God's will. A friend I know testified at a hearing in Idaho on another environmental issue, only to find that his small car had been flipped upside down by angry opponents.

But we keep standing up and speaking out for what we believe.

Here's a lovely little clip from The Wizard of Oz. Just click your heels together, say "There's no place like an open democracy" and then click on the pic below.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Super Son is playing the role of Uncle Henry. He's going to be awesome.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sounds of Silence

Image from SodaHead

Warning: Some of this may be offensive to some readers. For example, the incredible misspellings in a quoted Facebook status. Or maybe even the notion that someone can be so young and so bigoted. Read at your discretion. goes.

I have been extremely unsettled since I read a young man's status post on Facebook the other day. He wrote - no, wait. Let me share an interesting post (yes, it is related; I am not going off on a tangent) I read at Militant Ginger: Why do Christians hate Gay People?

Don't feel like clicking the link and reading the whole piece? Okay, slacker, I'll give you a good quote from it:

While certain Christians were instrumental in securing Civil Rights for African-Americans, the core support for racial segregation across the United States came from the majority of 'decent,' normal, Church-going Americans. The same people who are now protesting against gay marriage.

In fact, the scriptural arguments were quite similar, too - with the 'mark of Cain' often being interpreted as dark skin, thereby offering scriptural evidence to support the assumption that black people were spiritually inferior to whites.

Such scriptural interpretations were clearly just cynical attempts to hide racism and bigotry behind the legitimacy of religion. I honestly don't see how the Christian position on homosexuality is any different today.

The recent case of Constance McKinnen's prom (Don't know what I'm talking about? Have you been living in a cave?) illustrated a depressing demonstration of hateful homophobia by Christian churchgoers. Go over to Wisenheimer for a funny take on this story. No, really, go over there now and read it. I will wait.

That Courtenay has a way with words, doesn't she? Yes, this is related to what I began telling you about. It's not a tangent, I swear.

Okay, now back to the Facebook kid. He was writing in response to the Day of Silence on April 16th. Don't know what that's about? Don't feel bad; I didn't either. Here's how the group sponsoring it describes their mission:

The Day of Silence, a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is a student-led day of action when concerned students take some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment -- in effect, the silencing -- experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students and their allies.

Sounds like a pretty damned good idea to me. I thought of my friend Mrs. Chili, and the posts she's done about the young men who were driven to suicide by such bullying. This is a worthy effort on behalf of a group who deserve better treatment. In the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., it was a good old fashioned non-violent protest. It was greeted by these compassionate words in this child's Facebook status:
Not participating in the Day Of Silence tomorrow. Honestly, there are bigger problems to rally for. 4,000 Children die every hour from starvation and I see no Day of Silence for THEM. Thousands of Christians and their families are tourtured, imprissoned, and killed every year and nobody says a word. But if gay couples aren't allowed to marry? OH NO!!! Lobby!!! Boycott!!! Rally!!!

I told you were were some serious misspellings. There is also a depressing lack of tolerance for his fellow man. What made it even more depressing to me was seeing that ten of his peers, including a girl I know, had clicked the "like" button. It shook me up to think that this girl agreed with such a bigoted view.

Kids, we need to respect each other. We can rally for more than one thing. We can help feed children and protect Christians from the lions and let gay folks get married. Of course, I'd argue that we should probably have fewer children so that there are not so many hungry mouths in the first place. But that's sort of a tangent. The point is that Christians should stop hating on gay people.

For some reason, I'm reminded of the poem "First they came" by Pastor Martin Niemoller. Often quoted, it describes the dangers of political apathy in response to fear and hatred which soon escalates out of control.

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

and by that time no one was left to speak up."

My son heightened my sense of anxiety about this current of hatred in our country when he talked this evening at dinner. He mentioned things he'd read in the news about the rise of militia groups and the threat of civil unrest in this country.

But that's all fodder for another post. I'm worn out right now (as you've probably already surmised by the rambling incoherency of this post) by the thought of young people I have met who are bullying those who are unlike them. From the things I've read about Jesus, I don't think he'd cotton much to their actions. I'm headed to bed now, with visions of a Ricky Ricardo-like Jesus greeting them some day beside St. Peter at the pearly gates "Kids, you got a lotta 'splaining to do! What part of " but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" did you not understand?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

UPDATED!! Carry-on Douchebaggery is Afoot

tips and tricks about travel and the crazy business of travel
orig. from Blognonymous, which then switched to Ragebot - check them all out!

We rode Southwest Airlines to LAX on our recent trip to Disneyland. The fare was the cheapest and they don't charge for checked bags. I booked another trip elsewhere coming up and chose American because their fare was the same as Southwest's; I plan to only use carry-ons because they charge for checked bags.

But now my heart is filled with fear. I just read this story about an airline charging for carry-ons.


This part really kills me:

Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza said having fewer carry-on bags will help empty the plane faster. He said the idea is to get customers to pay for individual things they want, while keeping the base fare low.

"The beauty of it is they will do what they think is best for them and will now have the choice," he said.

The choice? How about the choice to not fly your feckin' airline, buddy? That's one choice this traveler will be exercising.

When we lived in Europe, Ryan Air was reknowned for super cheap fares. We flew them from Eire to the UK, and were amused at the attendants' antics hawking water for a euro, even selling lottery tickets and perfume to passengers. But this proposed policy goes beyond the pale. It's enough to make me say "Piss off!"

UPDATE! My second husband has a lot to say about this issue. Check him out at Colbert Nation.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Altering the Course of My Generation

Funnel cakes. It's what's for dinner.

I haven't stepped on the scale since we returned from Disneyland, but I am officially ready to make some BIG changes around here. Sure, we walked our butts off for six days all over the Magic Kingdom, but we also ate Monte Cristo sandwiches, funnel cakes, ice cream sundaes and other treats. So our butts didn't actually get walked off. Nor did our guts. And I won't begin to tell you about my despair regarding my upper arms because some things should just remain private shames.

I'm not talking about Professor X (aka the Human Stringbean) or Super Son (who wants to tone up but is basically quite healthy). I am talking about beloved little daughter and me.

Today is the day I go to the grocery store and revolutionize how I shop. Veggies, lean meats, whole grains. And the day we go to the fitness center and begin healthy moves. My friends have been doing it for some time - running, shredding, working out and eating healthy. It's high time I jumped on the bandwagon. Or maybe it would be better to walk briskly alongside it. Heh! I might lose weight, but I will never lose my fabulous sense of humour.

I saw this today and wanted to share. I think it's inspiring!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Kindly pardon my recent lack of posts;
we've been off gallivanting.

Five points if you can identify this location.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Back in the last millenia, when I was a debater, my coach told me that people favour the status quo. The presumption is always with the current system.

Even if things suck, we are creatures of habit. I used to joke that the reason Professor X and I had been married so long was that we were too lazy to go after something better. Don't get me wrong - I do love him and we have more fun than a barrel of monkeys most of the time - but we've also had a few moments of lifewouldbebetterapartitis, and there is an smidgen of truth to the notion that one reason we have endured is simply because we're afraid that being with a new person might be worse. I read an interview with Valerie Bertinelli about her breakup with Eddie Van Halen. She decided to leave him in 2001, yet didn't actually divorce him in 2005. She explained the time lag by saying "I'm a procrastinator."

People can recognize things aren't good, but they procrastinate on making changes. They worry that they'll rue their actions. Let us draw inspiration from brilliant songwriter Kevin Cronin, whose classic single from the You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish album reminds us

So if you're tired of the
Same old story
Turn some pages
I'll be here when you are ready
To roll with the changes

Let's watch the lads in R.E.O. Speedwagon sing this toe-tapping tune.

Man, that brings back some memories of my wild youth. I remember seeing these guys when I was in high school. Let me propose that this song be an anthem for all progressives who yearn to feel a sweet sun shower.

Yes, my fellow Americans, it is time to be brave and embrace the change that is upon us. The House of Representatives voted today to take some baby steps toward health care reform in our country, and I say Bravo!

I will have more thoughts on this tomorrow. I must nap now. Change is great, but a mite exhausting.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Céad Míle Fáilte!

Chapel atop Croagh Patrick

St. Augustine's National School, Murrisk, County Mayo

Today is a special day for me and my family. Although we're not Catholic, our spirits are uplifted at the thought of this special saint's day. Many of you know that the Fabulous Forrest Family took a year-long sabbatical in Ireland. We lived in a magical place in the northwest corner of the Republic, in County Mayo, called Murrisk. The village was little more than a collection of homes strung out along Clew Bay, anchored by a small community center, an abbey and cemetery, and a couple of taverns.

And a school. There were two classrooms - one for pre K-2nd grade, the other for 3rd-6th grades. Our children were instantly welcomed there by the wonderful teachers and students, and Professor X and I made friends with their schoolmates' parents and the teachers.

We lived in a beautiful home at the foot of Croagh Patrick, a high mountain with a tiny chapel atop it. Legend had it that St. Patrick had climbed up, built a church there, and after fasting for 40 days, he threw a silver bell down the side of the mountain, knocking the she-demon Corra from the sky and banishing all the snakes from Ireland.

Our fireplace was often ablaze, filled with the loveliest smelling peat, as a wild wind raged outside. I miss the smells and sights of Ireland as much as the sounds. Such music they have! 'Tis fine, indeed.

Here's a clip of one of my favorite movies, Hear My Song. Here's some fun background information about it. It's got a brilliant soundtrack. Ned Beatty plays real Irish tenor Joseph Locke in a VERY loosely based version of Locke's last concert. Very cute Irish guy Adrian Dunbar plays a concert promoter who persuades Locke to come out of forced retirement (he was wanted by the Brits for tax evasion) and perform at a benefit for a London concert hall. This clip shows Locke (Beatty's voice is dubbed by Vernon Midgely) singing on the way over to England.

Another marvelous film related to Ireland is Waking Ned Devine. Some youtuber combined the last song in the film, a classic tune entitled The Parting Glass, with some photos of Ireland with a special emphasis on County Mayo. It's sung by Shaun Davey.

Oh, geez. I'm starting to get teary-eyed.

If you're wondering about my post title, it's Gaelic for A Hundred Thousand Welcomes. Which is what we received when we went to Eire. I remember so well one of my son's friends opening the door to his home when we came for supper one night. Young Matthew proclaimed to the four of us "Come in! You're very welcome!"

Now I'm REALLY getting all teary. We absolutely must go back and spend more time in that place. A piece of my heart is there.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blogging and Porn - Addictive Behaviours 101


I'm starting to prepare for my late spring teaching gig, and I'm beginning to wonder if I'm doing the right thing.

I'll be leading a course entitled Share Your Brilliance: Blogwriting for Beginners, and I'm worried it will create a classroom of addicts.

Last night, I tuned into House, MD with great interest; previews had revealed that the POTW (patient of the week) was a woman blogger. There were another subplot that intrigued me even more: House and Wilson were going speed dating. I couldn't wait for the funny to begin. Ultimately, I was a little disappointed because the speed dating bit was pretty short and most of the best parts were in the preview. Of course, when it comes to any opportunity to watch Hugh Laurie being clever, I am totally insatiable, so perhaps my expectations are unrealistic.

There was also SPOILER ALERT! a fabulous subplot about House discovering that Wilson had been in a porno movie when he was younger. House, being House, tormented poor Wilson mercilessly about this. It started when House rented three films from a local shop, Wilson returned them before House watched them, providing a flimsy excuse for doing so, piquing House's curiosity. House then re-rented and viewed them and spotted his colleague wearing a most fetching bear skin. There are more twists and turns, but you get the idea.

It was only later, after watching the addictive behavior of the blogger patient who felt she had to constantly post about every aspect of her life that I began to think about House and his actions related to porn. Sure, he jokes about it a lot, but renting the films shows he follows through. And three films? I mean, aren't they all basically the same thing? As Ronald Reagan observed about trees, you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. Aren't there better things to do with one's time? Better films to watch? Maybe even spend time with actual women?

My class has nothing to do with that type of addiction - unless my students intend to create racier content than I think they will. But it raises the same sorts of questions if students wind up falling down the rabbit hole of blogging addiction. The blogger character in last night's program talked about the sense of community and interaction with people through her blog. She was constantly grabbing her laptop to share new developments in her life, even as doctors struggled to figure out what was wrong with her. Her loving husband stood by, trying to talk with her and make decisions about the future as she turned away to communicate with Bloggyland. It was annoying. And I recognized some of the behaviors as my own.

This Sunday marked my second totally awesome Oscar Party at Bad Mom's house. A gang of super fun women gathered to watch the festivities, eat scrumptious food and drink amazing cocktails concocted by Bad Mom's wonderful husband. We dressed in our best red carpet finery (I chose black velvet, red lipstick and sparkling rhinestones) or incognito celebrity airport outfit. We laughed and gabbed in the classic tradition of what Professor X lovingly dubs a hen party. Except two of us were high tech hens. We hunted and pecked our keyboards, live blogging (on Facebook, don't look for it here) the Oscar action. We also multi-tasked, chatting to each other from our laptops although we sat a mere foot apart.

We had ginormous fun. But are we losing that personal connection? Are we becoming so dependent on our little silver devices that we're not able to interact properly? Am I going to spread this type of aberrant behavior by teaching the class? Is this the downfall of society?

Stay tuned for more thoughts on this troubling topic.

Some brilliant youtube producer combined clips from House with the stirring song "The Internet is For Porn" from Avenue Q - Enjoy!