Sunday, August 29, 2010

Colorful Life

Terry's post today about choosing paints and colors made me think about a new TV commercial that Sherwin Williams is airing. It utterly charms me.

Makes you want to go get some paint strips, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Women's Equality Day

Today is Women's Equality Day!

The California Commission on the Status of Women joins the Nation in celebrating the 90th Anniversary of Women’s Equality Day. Each year Women's Equality Day is celebrated on August 26th to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Congress designated this date in 1971 to honor women's continuing efforts toward full equality. Spearheading the effort was U.S. Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY).

Women winning the right to vote was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York. In addition to celebrating the voting rights of American women, Women’s Equality Day also symbolizes the continued fight for equality, justice, peace, and development for women from various nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, religions, economic and political backgrounds.

The Commission on the Status of Women encourages you to celebrate and reaffirm women’s right to vote – and honor the heroic suffrage movement that won that right for all women - by making sure you are registered to vote in your next election, and then by going out to vote!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Photowalk in San Diego

When we were in San Diego a few weeks ago, my friend Mel and I found ourselves in a lovely neighborhood of craftsman-style cottages.  We started talking about how we wished we'd brought our cameras, and then it occurred to us that we could dash home, grab our cameras, and have a photography walk through the neighborhood!  We spent a lovely few hours strolling around taking pictures.  Here are some of the photos I took that afternoon:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Troubled and Puzzled

 Warning: political views ahead.

I just do not get the controversy about Americans building an Islamic community center on private property in New York City.  I understand that certain bigoted and politically-motivated people want to stir up a frenzy about it.  But objecting to building a private religious institution on private property – even if it is near Ground Zero – seems fundamentally anti-American to me.  I’ve read what people have to say about it, and I’ve certainly heard a lot of commentary about it on tv and radio, but I still can’t see the objections to the mosque as anything but reflecting ignorance and religious prejudice.

I thought that, despite a lot of original misinformation, it’s pretty clear now that Al Qaeda was responsible for the bombing of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.  The attacks weren’t the acts of muslims following well-accepted and mainstream tenets of their religion; they were made by radical fundamentalists who were motivated by sheer hatred and the desire to inflict damage on the US in return for American’s military actions in their corner of the world.   Even George W. Bush (and lord knows I don’t agree with much from him) noted after 9/11 that it is important to distinguish between radicals committing criminal violent acts and people who happen to be Muslims practicing their faith in a peaceful way.

So why is it offensive or inappropriate or insensitive to build an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan?  Don’t we preach freedom of religion, and rebuke other countries when their governments oppress minority religious groups?  Don’t we want to encourage the peaceful understanding of Islamic culture and the muslim religion?  Wasn’t our country founded, in part, on the desire for citizens to be able to worship when, where, and how they choose without oppression from others?  

If having an Islamic community center is somehow inappropriate, then wouldn’t it be similarly inappropriate for Southern Baptist churches to exist in communities with large African-American populations?  The Ku Klux Klan is largely made up of Southern Baptist extremists – so shouldn’t those same folks objecting to the Islamic cultural center in NYC also be concerned at how “insensitive” and “inappropriate” the presence of Southern Baptist churches would be to the black communities around them?

What about the religious fundamentalists who, following their religious beliefs, zealously promote their anti-abortion stance by bombing health clinics and killing doctors?  Should their religious institutions be banned from communities housing doctors and health clinics?

Of course these are ridiculous arguments.  The Baptist religion isn’t responsible for the offensive and often criminal acts of the KKK, just Christian churches can’t be blamed when fundamentalist zealots use their Christian beliefs and biblical interpretations as the reason to kill medical workers.  There are masses of peaceful Southern Baptists, just as there are huge numbers of peaceful people who decry abortion and even based their views on their religious beliefs, but we don't shun them or run them out of communities for the actions of the few crazed criminals who use their beliefs to justify their crimes.

So why is it conceivable to target peaceful muslim Americans and followers of Islam by running them off of a piece of real estate in Manhattan?  It shouldn’t be.  To me it seems  wrong, and ignorant, and deplorable.  That bias flies in the face of the religious tolerance and liberty on which our country was based.  Thomas Jefferson’s words address this:  “From the dissensions among Sects themselves arise necessarily a right of choosing and necessity of deliberating to which we will conform. But if we choose for ourselves, we must allow others to choose also, and so reciprocally, this establishes religious liberty." (Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:545). 

If there’s a place where a peaceful Islamic cultural center is needed, maybe it’s precisely near the World Trade Center site, so certain people’s misunderstanding about the role of Islam in that national tragedy can be rectified, and the religious rights of peaceful muslim Americans can be respected and honored.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tahoe Torpor

I am just back from a last-minute trip to Lake Tahoe.  My sister-in-law has a house there, which we visit a few times a year for our breathe-the-amazing-pine-scented-Tahoe-air fix.  Last week, my SIL called and was going to be there alone unexpectedly, so she invited me to join her.  R was getting ready to start school, and Miss C, just having returned from a week in San Diego, was not willing to abandon her cat and friends for another week away.  So, I zipped up my suitcase without unpacking it from San Diego, threw it into the back of the car, and away I went.

I wasn't joking about the incomparable Tahoe air.  There is a scent there that causes my blood pressure to drop and my whole body to flood with a sense of relaxed well-being.  My favorite time of day in Tahoe is early in the morning.  I make coffee, and I sit outside on the back deck in the silence... well, it's not silent for the twittering birds and jabbering blue jays and squirrels skittering across tree branches.  But it's peaceful and sitting out to sip coffee and read my book is the ultimate vacation heaven.  Here's one of my early morning companions:

My SIL Diane and I had a very nice time for all of 24 hours, and then she got a call from home requiring her there I was all alone.  Usually, we're up there with a full family contingent, so it was distinctly strange to be up there all by myself -- no people, no dogs to keep me company.  Thank goodness I had overpacked my "fun supplies" to a ridiculous extent, so I had my laptop, my Kindle loaded with great reading, a basket full of home-schooling materials with which I planned to organize lesson plans, several magazines, watercolor painting supplies, and my Nintendo DS for game-play.  I made good use of all  of those supplies.

Oh, but before I forget, I had some fun time with Diane's new puppy Cassidy, a rambunctious golden retriever.

One day, I did something I've been wanting to do for ages: I hopped in the car and set off to drive around the entire lake.  Someone told me that if you drive straight along without stopping, it's a 2 1/2 hour trip.  Me, I stopped whenever I felt like it.  One of the most interesting stops was at a gorgeous old mansion right on the edge of the lake.  It's Ehrman Mansion, in a state park, where the grounds and beach and even the house are open to the public for a glimpse of what it would have been like to be up there in the early 1900's.  It was a lovely setting.  I took this shot from the wide, old porch of the house -- it was one of those places I'd love to just sit for a day or three.

Of course I found a quilt shop along the way, Quilting Tahoe, and had a fun time perusing the wares there.  I stumbled onto an arts and crafts festival, and wandered around there for an hour or so.  When I crossed into Nevada (those of you non-Westerners may not know that Lake Tahoe straddles the line between California and Nevada so part of the shoreline is in California and part is in Nevada) I couldn't resist stopping at a casino (Montbleu! So elegant sounding!) where I lost a few dollars but had fun anyway. I even wound through the area of Tahoe my family vacationed in when I was a little kid, and going through there always brings back memories of feeling sunburned and reading Dennis the Menace comic books and licking drippy ice cream cones.

At the end of the week, my BFF Beth arrived to play with me.  As we were getting ready to head out for a hike, we realized it was raining!  Quite unexpected, and especially odd as the sky was predominantly blue!  (It is oddly disconcerting to be standing out in the rain and looking up at blue sky.  Someone there said it's something to do with the mountain effect and coolness somewhere and warmth somewhere else...but whatever the reason, it's weird.)  So, we stayed inside and tried to remind ourselves how to play cribbage.  Hardly exciting, but we had a grand old time.

So that was my last-hurrah vacation, and I have come home to the realities of legal work to get done, school to get started, and all the stuff that goes along with real day to day life.  It feels great to be home... but I do miss those quiet piney mornings...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

San Diego

Ah, the summer sunshine of San Diego... We are back from a fun and relaxing time with long-time friends.  Lots of laughter, beach, shopping, and silliness.... the perfect end to summer vacation.  Our very fun times included:

Visiting the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts and seeing the exhibit of rock and roll photographs curated by Graham Nash

Concocting lemon drop martinis to sip out on the deck

Touring the SAQA exhibit "Transformations: Reflections" at the Quilt Visions gallery

Enjoying a delicious dinner at the Third Corner bistro and wine shop, where we dined among stacks of wine crates

Shoe shopping at Nordstrom in search of just the right flat shoes

Watching episodes of The Choir and Rachel Maddow late at night in our jammies

Eating fish tacos in Ocean Beach

and lots of just hanging out to talk and laugh.  Perfect.  Just Perfect.

So today is about unpacking and doing laundry and sorting out school books.  Boxes of homeschool materials arrived in our absence and I am looking forward to diving in.  (I may be the only one who is, however.)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Summer Scattered

I'm feeling more scattered than usual today, so here's a random assortment of thoughts rolling around in my head:

R and I are celebrating our 17th anniversary today.  Hardly seems like that many years!  We will celebrate in lavish style this week with a nice dinner out with friends in San Diego, but today is the actual day and we have had a lovely time.  Our celebration dinner tonight was take-out Chinese food.  Yum.

I am totally smitten with Gareth Malone.  You don't know him?  Check out BBC America's show "The Choir," in which a young and charmingly enthusiastic choir master sets out to bring choral singing to some of Britain's low-income comprehensive schools.  It's entertaining and fascinating and actually uplifting.    

Aren't puppies the best?  Our nextdoor neighbors have a brand new puppy, a cattle-dog mix from a rescue organization, and she is adorable.  Floppy ears, loose wobbly tail, black freckles on her white muzzle...just adorable.  Makes me want another dog, much to R's chagrin.  Gemma would love it, though.

Miss C and I have had some lovely time this weekend playing with our Nintendo DS's together...Pokemon HeartGold and Pokemon SoulSilver to be precise. Yes, I'm a cool mom with my own Nintendo and an understanding of what makes Pokemon so interesting.  It really is very multi-leveled and amusing.  (I've been wondering whether I can find an original version in Japanese so Miss C can play for Japanese language practice.  Hmmm.)  I'm glad to report that the Nintendo developers must be aging because they've made the new version with a much bigger screen and much clearer visibility.

I just finished a lovely lovely novel, called The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek.  Wonderful reading, makes me want to read The Great Gatsby again.  I loved that book.

We are thinking sad and loving thoughts for our dear friends Diane, Eric and Abby this week as they have had to say goodbye to their beautiful yellow lab Molly.  They are the dog-lovingest family I know, and Molly had a wonderful life with them.  I know she is romping in a big field in dog heaven.

We are packing to head off on a trip to San Diego for a few days.  Another reason I prefer car travel to air travel?  You can take as many pairs of shoes as you like, and then some.  Deciding which shoes to bring is always the hardest.  I have reduced my assortment to 3 pair but I am planning on a shopping excursion to get those perfect flats I don't yet own.

I told you...Random.  Here's hoping the week ahead is full of summery fun for all!  (By the way, if you have applied to the Artful Quilters Blog Ring just lately, I won't be around to deal with it so don't worry.  I'll catch up when I'm back.)

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Walt Disney Family Museum

I have been meaning to write about our visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco a few weeks ago.  This is a rather new museum (opened in October, 2009) and it's located in the Presidio, a former military facility right on the San Francisco bay that is now a national park.  (See in the sign picture above, you can see that you are right near the Golden Gate Bridge.)

We'd read a fair amount about the museum as it was being built.  People worried that the Disney cute thing would invade and destroy the historical look and feel of the Presidio.  But the foundation that built the museum did a beautiful job, simply refurbishing the existing building and making it a seamless part of the area.  It's so discrete that it's almost easy to miss.

Why San Francisco, you ask?  Apparently Walt Disney's daughter Diane lives in San Francisco, and she felt that the SF bay area has become the center of cutting edge animation, what with George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar here already.  I suspect she wanted to separate the man from the whole Disneyland/MickeyMouse thing in Southern California, too.

At any rate, the museum was wonderful.  It followed Walt Disney's life and explains and demonstrates his influence on animation, movies, television, the theme park industry, and popular culture.  What's amazing to realize is that Walt Disney had already made industry-changing inventions and innovations in animation before Disneyland's ground was even broken.

Don't think this will be a dry museum -- which is, I guess, sort of what I expected.  It's done with the usual Disney style panache -- lots of imagery and animations and exhibits that are visually stunning and absorbing.  There is something for everyone, whether you're the sort who likes to read the detailed placards or whether you just like to look at things in exhibit cases.  We found it engrossing.

Photography wasn't allowed in the main part of the museum, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of the floor in one area.  I'd love that in my house!

Even the bathroom was delightful.

A small word of caution: this is not a park for tiny kids, nor is it geared toward people or kids expecting a mini-Disneyland.  There are no rides.  But there are fun things to see, cartoons and animations to watch, and any school-aged child would be entertained there.  I highly recommend visiting it if you are in the area.