Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tomorrow is Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I think my rear end has sprouted tendrils that have grown into the car seat. Nonetheless, over the river and through the woods . . . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Reluctant Farewell

This has been another week of conflicting emotions.

My sister-in-law Pamela (she graduated to "Pamela" from "Pam" shortly after her marriage), having been born dead some 58 years ago and resuscitated, was saddled thenceforth with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and then grew into diabetes and Crohn's disease, among other unpleasant things.

A few months ago, in August, she had a discussion with God and her husband -- a genuine saint if ever there was one -- and then made the decision to forego any further blood transfusions or hospitalizations. They all peacefully began to make preparations for her transition from this life to the next, beginning with getting her set up with a home hospice service. She was positively giddy when she called to let us know that she had been accepted into the hospice program, and that she really liked the ladies who would be her caregivers. You would have thought she'd won a trip to Disney World.

My other sister-in-law and her daughter traveled to see Pamela in the early fall for the last time -- they had a nice visit.

My husband was not so much at peace with Pam's decision. He and his brother plotted ways to make her continue the fight to stay alive, because, well, that's just what you do -- you stay alive. Or you throw money at problems and they get all better.

They wanted her to continue the fight -- until they came face-to-face with the magnitude of the task of staying alive. Her husband, an R.N., emailed a complete synopsis of her various diagnoses and treatments, together with a list of the medications she had to take daily and their out-of-pocket cost.

The cost was pretty staggering, but the cost was not what helped them accept Pamela's decision. The fact that she would be faced with transfusions every single month and still hurt and be worn out; that she no longer had the strength to sew the blankets that she had lovingly stitched and donated to babies the world over; that she couldn't sit long enough to attend worship services; that she could no longer make her fingers work well enough to play the organ their beloved aunt had given her -- those things helped them find the peace in her decision.

But when the call came Monday evening from her weary husband, my strong, brave man still wept for the loss of his baby sister. We both shed hot, bitter tears for our loss.

For Pamela, we rejoiced.

I told Pepper that Pamela was probably playing the organ -- or even the oboe, if she chose -- or dancing with Aunt Del. He sniffed and said, "No one can really play the oboe. But, I can picture them dancing."

She never could really move the way she would have liked to here on Earth. Now, I'll bet she's in the Top 20 of "So You Think You Can Dance -- Heavenly Edition."

We lay her to rest in a few days, even though she's already found her way to eternity. And I seriously doubt whether she'll rest at all -- there's too much dancing to catch up on.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Uppity Computer

I am not a big fan of computers on Mondays who try to be smarter than I am. See the (incomplete) post below. I'll fix it somehow.

A Thanksgiving Before Healthcare Reform: From the Land of the Pilgrims

I have a cousin who lives just outside of Boston. He's a very bright guy -- an architect -- who is less than pleased with the Massachusetts plan for healthcare. He hints that having to file an additional form with one's tax return (to assure that you're contributing your appropriate, fair share) is about as much fun as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, as my Mama used to say, and just about as useful.

The following are excerpts from the weekend's email correspondence:

"Following up on earlier emails re: the health-care mess, I thought you might be interested in this excerpt from a fairly recent Boston Herald article:

Wading into the contentious national health-care debate...[Massachusetts State] Treasurer Timothy Cahill blasted the state's landmark plan and warned President Obama that a similar scheme could bankrupt the country.

"If universal health care is breaking us, what's it going to do to the federal government?" Cahill told the Herald yesterday.

The treasurer...said the state's universal health-care plan...focused on insuring all state residents first and controlling costs second. As a result, Cahill said, the plan has been a major drag on the state budget.

"Health-care spending has exploded, and unless the federal government continues to reimburse us, we cannot afford it," Cahill said. "But who's going to bail the federal government out? Probably us, the taxpayers."

A report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers
Foundation, a business-based organization that supported health-care reform,
found that Bay State spending on the health-care overhaul has increased by about
$88 million annually since the law was passed.

Out of the $10 billion spent on health care in the state's fiscal 2010 budget, $1.7 billion is spent on health-care reform.

It reminds me of a quote by Thomas Jefferson: "If I could not go to heaven but with a [political] party, I would not go there at all."

I replied:

"Thanks for the update. I shudder to think what's to become of you in Massachusetts if this debacle passes at the national level. You might just as well open a vein with a direct line going into the tax coffers."

His observation:

"People will continue leaving the state in droves -- but once the feds wade in, there'll be nowhere to run to."

Giving the IRS yet more responsibility and authority, plus ineffective actual healthcare delivery. How's that for an uplifting start to the week before Thanksgiving.

"Nowhere to run to." New Zealand, maybe? 1981?

UPDATE: I'm going to have to try to figure out what happened to the quote. I hate computers on Mondays.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saints, Baby!!

Game Day, Baby!! Kickoff, T-90 minutes, give or take a few.

Who dat!! Ain't dem Rams, Baby!!

Thank God for a diversion from Washington.

UPDATE: 9 - 0, baby!! It weren't purty, but it's a W!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bearing a New Moniker, "Jailbird Bill" Will Take Extended Junket to Federal Penal Facility

That man wearing the deer in the headlights expression is "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, my former Congressman (the one who preceded Anh "Joseph the Turncoat" Cao), and he's going to have a new nickname from here on out: "Jailbird Jefferson."

Thirteen years worth of new nickname.

In passing sentence on Jailbird Bill yesterday, federal Judge T.S. Ellis, III, stated:

"Public corruption is a cancer that needs to be surgically removed. . . . I have no doubt you have led an extraordinary life; you have accomplished a great deal. . . . It makes this even all that much sadder for me and many others. Obviously you are a man of great gifts. It is a tragedy these gifts have been squandered."

Jefferson's attorneys have asked that he remain free pending appeal, which will probably take up to three years, because he's not a flight risk (translation: he has surrendered his passport) and is a "strong family man." In other words, William Jefferson could be described as an honorable man, worthy of retaining his freedom until the last possible moment.

Wasn't the same said of Brutus and the gang before their little -- forgive me -- tea party at The Forum? But, then again, was not Brutus fighting corruption rather than living it? Whither lives, "honor?" Not, I would suggest, in the Jefferson household. (Nor in the White House, but we won't go there today).

He'll probably do his time in a minimum security federal "camp," but he will be incarcerated and he will actually be doing penance for abusing the public's trust. Though short of the maximum requested by the prosecution, Jefferson's sentence is the longest imposed to date for Congressional shenanigans. Judge Ellis also warned that Jefferson's sentence would serve as a "beacon" that abuse of the public's trust will carry a price. A dear price -- at least a baker's dozen of years in our short time on this Earth for one miscreant.

Someone needs to poke Charley Rangel and point out that Jailbird Jefferson once thought himself bulletproof, too. Run and dodge, Congressman Rangel -- run and dodge.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Watch Beck Tomorrow!!

Blog buddy, Maria (pictured at 6 o'clock above), from My Voice on the Wings of Change will finally be on the Glenn Beck show tomorrow together with other conservative black bloggers!

At least that's the plan. But it was also the plan last week when the Left managed to burst Glenn's appendix, so I'm holding my breath until air time.

Go get 'em, feisty lady!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To All Our U.S. Vets -- Thank You! Love, Moogie

This morning a grateful France rang and donated a beautiful, precisely measured replica of the Liberty Bell, cast in Normandy, to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The bell sang in E Flat to commemorate the liberation of France and Europe from the Nazi yoke by the Allied Forces. Such a lovely ceremony -- 5 American WWII Vets were also awarded the French Legion of Honor medal, 2 posthumously, by French diplomats and military brass.
Happy Veterans Day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fort Hood, Remembered and Held in Honor

The roll call goes unanswered.

Rest In Peace, valiant fallen of Fort Hood, and may God's peace comfort your loved ones.

May the wounded have a full and swift recovery.

And may we -- all of those left behind -- never take a single member of our uniformed services, nor a moment in time, for granted.

If I hear one more television commentator refer to First "Calvary" or an Army "Base" I may have to scream.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Congressional Blue Dogs Double Down on Tyranny

On this day that we observe the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's collapse, my mind keeps mulling over and over the concept of "tyranny." And the light bulb in my head keeps popping to life over one word: Congress.

The Constitution has become to Congress what stoplights are to New Orleans drivers: no more than a mild suggestion; and the first pavers of the yellow-plated brick road to the EmeraldGreen City of communism were laid last weekend by 220 members of the House of Representatives. Including mine.

Where is a Wizard when we need him?

(The cartoon was stolen from a Facebook buddy -- we can't lose all sense of humor now can we. At least, not yet.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Health Care Reform Vote and the Slow-Learners in Congress

I obviously have not forgiven him for uttering it, because I certainly haven't forgotten it, but my husband made an observation a number of years ago that I think has particular applicability to Congress's vote last night on the House health care reform bill.

When I was first learning to play at golf (I still haven't learned to "play" it, just "play at" it), Pepper and I started playing "Twilight Couples" rounds in which we were paired with another couple and assigned some bizarre format designed to produce a divorce or two per round. On one of those blissful Friday evenings, I blew a putt. Actually, I had blown several putts on several different holes in one of those formats that, in addition to boosting the bottom line at the divorce lawyer's firm, had the added benefit of torturing the weaker player in a twosome.

The "weaker player" -- that would be me.

Anyway, after I blew the third or fourth putt, my precious soulmate turned red in the face as that vein in his forehead popped out, stared me down, and in a measured tone a few octaves higher than his normal speaking voice that turned the surrounding air a little blue, spat out the words: "G.D., Moogie! Even a monkey learns after watching other monkeys for a little while!!!"

For some reason that I still fail to understand to this day, I chose to finish the round and not leave him. And a few days later, I got a really nice gift -- it may even have been sparkly. That's kinda how my precious soulmate apologizes when he knows he's really screwed up.

So, when that memory floated to the top of my consciousness this morning as I dissected yesterday's House vote in my cozy bed, a whole bunch of monkeys and apes sprang to life right before my eyes. Monkeys named Canada, Sweden, England, Massachusetts, Tennessee. Apes that had played with socialized healthcare and figured out that it doesn't work; monkeys that watched its citizens losing way too many balls in a bottomless rough without boundaries; apes that were living the old joke about how to play a really long round with the partner who had a heart attack on the course: hit the ball, drag Fred; hit the ball, drag Fred.

Next, I realized that I'm Fred. You'll be Fred. Our grandkids will have to pay Fred's greens fees and drag us around without so much as being able to tee one up. And then I realized that those monkeys we've been watching have given up on this game because the rules aren't fair, the game is way too confusing and expensive, and there aren't enough tee times to go around.

Damn, Congress! Even monkeys can learn after watching other monkeys for awhile!

Those apes on Capitol Hill must be a little slow. We'll have to use very small words while explaining the error of their way. And take away their bananas.

Somehow I don't think we'll be getting a nice gift, though -- sparkly or otherwise. Maybe just a little more monkey poo flung in our direction.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fort Hood's Fallen: Please Accord Them Dignity and Honor

Oh no.

The slaughter on Ft. Hood is tragic; it's too hard to think about and I can't really express all the conflicting, raw emotions I'm feeling, or even wrap my mind around the circumstances.

But, after replaying in my head the White House's reaction to June's slaughter of an Army Private in Little Rock, a worse thought has just hit me smack between the eyes.

The Young President and Michelle, after his inexcusable gaffe that passed for a press statement yesterday, will most certainly show up at the services intended to confer military honors to the fallen. Then, the somber ceremonies will become nothing more than "The Obama Circus Show."

I may have to throw up.

UPDATE: Although W was not my most favorite CinC of all times, he -- and especially Laura -- understood what it meant to wear the uniform and/or love someone who does. Class will tell every time, and it did yesterday when the Bushes went to visit the wounded and families at Ft. Hood, without fanfare.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dear Congress: It Won't Work, no Matter How Clandestine Your Behavior

Emailed this morning to my Congressman, Anh "Joseph" Cao, and Pelosi, plus to Vic Snyder and Mike Ross of Arkansas:

Congressman Cao:
I called your office this morning concerning the pending health care reform bill. I'm following up that call with an email to reiterate my position that your publicly announced refusal to comment on the bill until after a vote is wholly unacceptable. It is your job to comment -- not to keep your constituents guessing what actions you may take. Please take note that my opinion about your duties doesn't exist in a vacuum -- I venture that the vast majority of your constituents share my thoughts.

I also emailed the following to Speaker Pelosi this morning; please take my comments to heart:

Speaker Pelosi:
My husband and I are opposed to the healthcare reform bill you announced on October 29th.

(1) The Bill demands an unprecedented expansion of the federal government -- that expansion, both in the Executive branch and via the Legislative branch, is beyond unacceptable, it is intolerable; (2) The Bill is overreaching and overbroad -- vast improvements in the delivery of health care and reining in its costs could be achieved incrementally instead of attempting to eat the elephant in one gulp; (3) The Bill is too expensive and will result in irreparable damage to small business, and will soon require dramatic increases in the middle class tax burden (how you characterize what you snatch out of a taxpayer's pocket doesn't matter -- a "fee," a "penalty," a "tax" -- they're all exactions, and they'll all wind up in government coffers); (4) The Bill's efficacy is, without doubt, unsustainable. Period.

I am a registered Independent, but I intend to dedicate my time, talents, and resources to the defeat of all Members of Congress -- regardless of party affiliation -- who vote in favor of your merged mark-up of HB 3200. This Bill represents the very worst of Government, the antithesis of our Representative Republic.

Please withdraw this ignominious and unabashed power-grab disguised as legislation, and return the healthcare debate to where it belongs -- in the open Democratic process under the watchful eye of reason.

Most sincerely,


My husband and I think we heard something about healthcare for pets yesterday. Although that would make Bouie happy, I hope we were just having a "senior moment" and made that up.

I'm gearing up for either the Gulag or Gitmo! Send cookies.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Roosevelt Rises From the Flood Waters

We experienced another of those New Orleans "recovery" moments last night, and I get a pleasant case of goose bumps just thinking about it, even this afternoon.

Yesterday was the 60th birthday of the Navy League, a major observance of "Fleet Week." The New Orleans celebration was meticulously planned down to the last detail, even bringing in five crew members from the USS New Orleans as special guests. Impressive young men they were. Impressive, indeed.

But, as strong and handsome as those young sailors were in their spotless white uniforms, and as tasty as the food was, and as nice as the open bar was (don't you just love an open bar!), nothing about the evening could hold a candle to the venue.

The Navy League celebration was held in the lovingly restored and newly re-opened "Blue Room" of the Roosevelt Hotel, now a Waldorf Astoria property.

Having regained her former name -- the name of her glory days -- she was, yesterday evening, elegant, dripping in history, and a magnet for memories: a grand lady, properly courted and attended to by an adoring throng. I thrilled as a sharply uniformed doorman greeted us and welcomed us to enter the door he held open with pride and a genuine smile.

Four years ago, in August of 2005, this hotel was the Fairmont New Orleans. Her guests were permitted to hunker down and engage in "vertical evacuation" for Hurricane Katrina -- a formerly common practice of checking into a high-rise downtown hotel to ride out approaching storms. (You'll notice I said "formerly" -- not any more. If the order to get out of Dodge is issued today, then everyone must get the hell out of Dodge, hotel employees and all.) After the storm passed, the hotel's management brought in chartered buses to transport the guests to safety in their Dallas property, then it set about assessing the damage sustained by the luxury hotel.

And the Fairmont sat vacant.

It sat abandoned and vacant for years, its intricate mosaic tile floors filthy, its traditionally gleaming brass handrails dull and lackluster, its artfully detailed frescoes fading in the humidity, plywood boards blocking out people and sunlight. No floor shows in the Blue Room, no "Angel Hair" Christmas decorations in the lobby that stretches an entire city block.

No celebrities to take up an entire floor and order specially-made peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches from room service, as Elvis did while filming "King Creole." No elected "royalty" to enjoy a cocktail and tryst with his Bourbon Street scarlet lady, as Governor Huey Long did during his reign, later cut short by an assassin's bullet. No Sazerac Bar to break the gender barrier, allowing women to belly up to the bar alongside their male counterparts (to which the ladies took as a duck to water!).

But, two weeks ago, the Roosevelt re-emerged to fanfare and jazz and revelry.

Last night as we prepared to leave, we decided to make "the promenade" down the long lobby and back to the entrance. Holding hands, we silently took it all in --the artistry, the amazing clock that keeps time according to the movements of the Earth, the towering displays of fresh flowers. We listened to echoed memories of our first New Orleans Mardi Gras ball held in the ballroom on the mezzanine, and imagined my parents as a young couple enjoying cocktails and a show featuring comic Brother Dave Gardner in the Blue Room. And we smiled.

Strolling to the parking deck, we passed the still-shuttered Orpheum Theater, deserted former home of the Louisiana Philharmonic, and our reverie was tarnished just a whit. But then, as we approached Canal Street in the car, we saw the lights on the art deco Saenger Theater marquee, illuminated last Thursday for the first time since the Storm. Another thrill, another restored pleasure promised for 2011.

We've learned not to open our hearts to too much relief about our adopted City's recovery -- there's always something around the block to shatter that satisfaction. But today, the return of New Orleans takes mostly giant steps, not just itty-bitty baby steps. And new lights brighten the night sky in the City That Care Forgot more and more often, brighter than before.

I can't wait to see what's next. Or to see the Roosevelt decked out in her Christmas finery!