Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gangsta ballerina

I spent four glorious hours today at the Synergy Dance Academy recital. Seriously, you won't find me complaining about the long afternoon because the dancers, the costumes, the lighting, and the music were all spectacular. Really truly.

Devon was in a precious little ballet number called Belle -- bedecked in a neon pink tutu and gold-sequined tiara.

She was also in a hip-hop act called Carmen/Ching-a-ling. The remix combined music from the opera Carmen and some serious rap. It was way too cool!

So who is the real Devon? A delicate porcelain ballerina, or a hoodie-clad trash-talkin' hip-hoppin' gangsta?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The handwriting on the wall

We protested George Bush's visit to the Air Force Academy graduation this morning. If your Aramaic is a bit rusty, refer to the 5th chapter of the apocalyptic Book of Daniel for an explanation of our message.

Oh, nevermind, I'll just tell you. While the arrogant King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar's son, was feasting and carousing and generally disrespecting everything and everyone, a hand appeared and wrote these words on a wall. The king did not understand the message and freaked out. A call went out for an interpreter. Daniel was the only one able to divine the meaning.

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, Divided

Our message? George Bush, your days are numbered. Your administration's deeds have been weighed and found wanting. Your kingdom will soon be taken from you.

In the Bible, King Belshazzar was slain that very night. I guess we'll have to see what fate awaits King George.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Freshman Fifteen

I'm taking over the Bachelor Nutrition Series. Yes, Eric is a bachelor. But he's always someone's bachelor; as such, he's carefully tended and well fed. The Simple Nutrition Series (its new name) should be geared toward those who know something about the body and, as such, desire nutritious fare but who, for whatever reason, find themselves independent, and culinarily challenged for a spell.
Proper equipment, fresh ingredients, adaptable recipes, sufficient time and talent -- all components of good nutrition -- are in short supply when one finds herself alone, on a big college campus, in a dorm room, hungry for both food and companionship. Yes, the hot pot is small consolation, and stands in the way of starvation. But wouldn't it be great if a moveable feast was a genuine possibility? If the way to the heart is truly through the stomach, shouldn't a girl come prepared for the journey?

My lovely Julia graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School this weekend. [Slight brag fest: Cheyenne is a Blue Ribbon School -- one of only 33 in the nation -- selected from a pool of 28,000 public and private high schools!] While Julia was voted Most Likely to Win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Best Sense of Humor -- both make me so happy! -- she did not win the Next Rachael Ray title. So begins my Fifteen Freshman Recipes Cookbook.

Freshman Fifteen #1 -- Tortilla pizzas
I will not sing the praises of the lard/bleached-flour combo known as the tortilla. Pure dreck if you ask me. But, in a pinch, it can be the foundation for a nutritious gourmet pizza.

The PRESTO Pizzazz Pizza Oven is a stand-alone device that can cook a fresh or frozen pizza in minutes. We experimented with it tonight and discovered a few nutritious alternatives to Totino's, using flour tortillas as our crust.

I placed the following items along the counter:
marinara sauce
olive oil
chopped fresh garlic
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped fresh basil
chopped fresh spinach
black beans
sliced black olives
turkey pepperoni
sliced roma tomatoes
sliced green pepper
sliced green onions
pineapple tidbits
shredded cheddar
shredded mozzarella
shredded swiss

We used the above ingredients in various tasty combinations and had a really lovely time of it.

A few combinations we discovered:
-black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, cheddar
-olive oil, spinach, garlic, basil, swiss
-marinara, pepperoni, pineapple, black olives, mozzarella

Each pizza took about six minutes, was chock full of fresh ingredients, and ended up crisp and delicious. Not exactly haute cuisine, but definitely a step up from the Top Ramen of my era!
julia walden cheyenne mountain high school

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trading Franklin for Mao

My 14-year-old son is going to China next month, along with a group of classmates and chaperones. Yesterday I went to Wells Fargo to exchange $400USD for Chinese yuan. A small currency exchange, cash for cash, very routine. To accomplish the task, however, I was required to provide two forms of identification. This was not a glance-at-the-information kind of ID check, which would've been pointless to begin with. No, the clerk put the information into the bank's data base before handing me the currency.

I asked her, "Why on earth do you need my personal information to exchange currency?" She said, under her breath, "Have you ever heard of the Patriot Act? The government requires us to gather this information so they can identify potential terrorists." She went on to tell me that Wells Fargo is the only bank in town still willing to deal in foreign currency. The other banks have opted out so they don't have to jump through government hoops and engage in data mining to benefit our nosy and intrusive administration.

Walking out of the bank with my red notes, Chairman Mao watching me, gave me a creepy sense of foreboding.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fat cows

I’ve read quite a bit about vegetarianism over the years. Nutritionists assert that in order to be healthy a vegetarian must actively seek the full complement of amino acids that make up protein, the building blocks of our bodies, by consuming protein. This sounds like a reasonable assertion, but does it hold true in nature? Do living organisms, all of which are basically organized proteins, require ingested protein to survive?

Think of cows. What do they eat as they grow fat and delicious, merrily trotting the path to becoming culinary delights for the non-vegetarian population? Do they eat thick steaks, succulent chickens, light flaky fish, or the other white meat, pork? No, of course they don’t. They eat only plants — grass and hay — and only as much as they need.

Recent research suggests that our grains, fruits and veggies have become less nutritious over the past century. Man’s interference with the growth of plants — breeding for certain marketable traits, using chemical pesticides, artificially propping up the depleted soil with chemical fertilizers, speeding the ripening process — has resulted in not only dangerous food, but less nutritious food.

Animals are instinctive. They know what they need. They neither over- nor under indulge. I mean, have you ever seen an overstuffed cow, lying on her side in a meadow, moaning oh my god, I feel like a fat cow? No, nature provides every needed nutrient, in proper portions and proportions, for our cattle.

Or at least she used to. These days, ranchers do, in fact, encounter fat cows, dissatisfied cows, cows with big hay bellies. When cows aren’t getting needed nutrients from the grass they eat, they eat more, and more again, until they do. The fact that ranchers are seeing hay bellies is an indication that food ain’t what it used to be.

We have a similar problem. As Big Food alters the natural food supply to ensure that food looks pretty, has a long shelf life, is conveniently packaged, transported, and prepared, we are starving to death. Without micronutrients like resveratrol to signal satiety, without phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins and minerals to nourish and support our biochemical processes, we’re eating more and more to gain needed nutrients, and we’re getting fatter and unhealthier in the process.
Tags: Big Food, Environment, Nutrition

Friday, May 16, 2008

Weekly appointment

time was almost up.

he said i have issues with emotional intimacy, i "skitter away" whenever we get close to the subject. no, no i don't....i am perfectly much as the situation will allow...maybe that's why i spent so many years in church i said, not thinking. he leaned forward in his chair...tell me about that he said. we looked at each other. i just mean...what did i mean...that there is a perfection that exists, a love, no not love it's different than that, like knowing....anyway, i said, when you have experienced it...mining syllables....then finding intimacy with another person is like chasing a shadow because there is no one that could ever...i guess

he said i understand and, yes, not many...but not none


Wisdom from my favorite author

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it. Without any remaining wilderness we are committed wholly, without chance for even momentary reflection and rest, to a headlong drive into our technological termite-life, the Brave New World of a completely man-controlled environment. We need wilderness preserved-- as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds-- because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. It is important to us when we are old simple because it is there–important, that is, simply as idea.

Wallace Stegner, The Wilderness Letter, 1960



1. Get enough food to eat,
And eat it.

2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.


Richard Brautigan, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thomas Jefferson would be proud

Today, the California Supreme Court lifted the ban on same-sex marriages. Whatever your opinion on the issue, Thomas Jefferson would be a proud founding papa!

Bob Barr, former Member of Congress from Georgia and current candidate for President for the Libertarian Party, issued the following statement in reaction to today's decision by the California Supreme Court allowing for the recognition of same sex marriage in that state:

Regardless of whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, the decision to recognize such unions or not ought to be a power each state exercises on its own, rather than imposition of a one-size-fits-all mandate by the federal government (as would be required by a Federal Marriage Amendment which has been previously proposed and considered by the Congress). The decision today by the Supreme Court of California properly reflects this fundamental principle of federalism on which our nation was founded.

Indeed, the primary reason for which I authored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 was to ensure that each state remained free to determine for its citizens the basis on which marriage would be recognized within its borders, and not be forced to adopt a definition of marriage contrary to its views by another state. The decision in California is an illustration of how this principle of states' powers should work.

The Defense of Marriage Act? Sheesh. I had chalked that one up to religious hypocrites. Turns out, the act was about preserving states' rights, a subject I wrote about way back when. Such is the peculiar pain of the Libertarian-leaning progressive.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day with the family

The kids and I went to Denver today to celebrate Mother's Day with various family members, including my own adorable mom. My sister and her husband are big kids -- though they're sometimes disguised as an attorney and an architect -- and have every imaginable toy, including this insane surrey bike for eight!

Today also happened to be my brother's 40th birthday. My sisters filled bunches of balloons with helium and, instead of paying proper attention to the gift-opening thing, Andy inhaled helium and said funny things, which amused the actual children to no end.

Kisses to you, sweet family!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace. ...

Written in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe -- one of the founders of Mother's Day -- as a call to mothers to oppose war and promote the causes of peace and justice.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tiny prophets

If we listen closely, there's a small voice in the wilderness, calling out to us, warning of a coming transformation.

No, it's not John the Baptist. It's America's honey bee, dying by the millions, prophesying the demise of the country's fruit and vegetable supplies. More than a hundred crops rely on bee pollination for survival, yet bees are dying off by the millions -- 90% of the feral bee population has died -- due to a mysterious condition called Colony Collapse Disorder. No doubt it is due to man's interference with delicate natural goings-on, and his extreme disrespect for the Earth herself. The health of the planet is being sacrificed on the the altar of corporate ignorance and greed.

A really amazing documentary called Vanishing of the Bees is in the works. Check out the trailer here. Seriously, check it out.

If this war and those to follow, global warming, environmental toxins, inaccessible health care, the credit collapse, the burning of the Constitution, the destruction of community, apocalyptic Christian Zionism, the lies and deceptions and ugliness and hate and greed of this current administration, and the next, aren't enough to cause self-examination and a commitment to change, this may very well be the thing that gets our attention.

Albert Einstein said if honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years.

Pre-e-e-pare ye the way of desolation and death. . . .


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hip Hoppin' at the talent show

Devon and Madison!

Hey Mickey!






Love Song

How can I keep my soul in me, so that it doesn't touch
your soul?
How can I raise it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote lost objects,
in some dark and silent place that doesn't resonate
when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin's bow,
which draws one voice out of two separate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, May 5, 2008

Government rapists

One of my favorite jump starts to the day is a breakfast of cottage cheese, fresh fruit and almonds. It's is a simple meal, easy to prepare, and represents a near-perfect combination of protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat. It's the almonds that provide the magic. In addition to a low glycemic index, which curtails a heavy duty insulin response, almond intake protects proteins from oxidative damage while delivering vitamin E and other antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, protein, fiber and living enzymes.

The USA has a near lock on almond production. 70% of the world's almonds come from California. I can only thank goodness that raw almonds are readily available in our bountiful land, even at most corporate grocery stores.

Oh, but wait. The FDA recently decided that all California almonds must be either irradiated or chemically pasteurized prior to sale. Not so for almonds exported to other countries. No. This particular punishment is reserved especially for the American people.

What this means is that our pristine, nutritious and beautiful almonds are subjected to gross degradation by FDA rapists. Irradiation exposes food products to extremely high levels of radiation that kill bacteria, parasites and fungi. Never mind that animal studies have shown that irradiation may promote chromosomal damage and cancer. And never mind that toxic radiation demolishes the nutritional value of food.

Chemical pasteurization is even more dangerous. The technique used is called propylene oxide fumigation, which makes use of a chemical compound that the EPA has classified as a probable human carcinogen. Here's another interesting note: Propylene oxide was once used in racing fuel, but in 1993 the National Hot Rod Association banned its use because of cancer concerns. Yet this poison is used to pasteurize almonds and other foods – EPA and FDA approved. Oh yeah, baaaaby, just gimme the purple stamp!

One comforting tidbit, we needn't worry our purty heads over this because it's all being done without our knowledge or approval. Ya'll know that ignorance is bliss. The FDA -- that trusty public servant -- has allowed almond growers to pretend that it's business as usual. California almond growers may still label their almonds "natural" and "raw" even though they've been corrupted by irradiation and chemical pasteurization.

The FDA is tired of being held accountable by the vocal few. They are more than willing and able to fly under the radar. And, obviously, California almond growers are happy to fly with them. One of them should stand tall and expose the FDA for the abusive piece of shit that it is. If they'd take that leap of faith, I'd buy their almonds -- though they be unfit for consumption -- until the poor drugged fallen cows come home!

A matter of perspective

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Jean Ciavonne Poetry Contest

When Devon and I realized that the contest deadline was upon us, she grabbed a pen and pad and ran off to write her poem. "The theme is music!" I yelled after her. Ten minutes later she handed me her finished product.

"Devon, come on. Don't you think you should spend a little more time on it?"

"Nope," she said, wearing her best how dare you question the artist? face.

We submitted it. And she won!

Music is My Heartbeat
by Devon

when I hear the beat

I get to my feet

'cause I just can't stop

the urge to hop

I got rhythm deep down inside

this is somethin' that I just can't hide

twistin' and turnin' on the dance floor

got to keep movin', I need more

music moves my soul

like jello in a bowl

music moves my spirit

everyone can hear it

my feet are skippin', barely touchin' the ground

my jivey jumps bring people around

they gather together to see my moves

they're all watchin' to see my grooves

music makes me feel so free

for music is a part of me

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sock hop night!

I just started playing around with Photoshop and, as you can see, I need a tutorial!

Still, it's pretty awesome.

I am going to get really really good at it. I am.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My sister and Rush!

My sister, Suzy, and her hubby have been Rush fans for as long as I can remember. Not just kinda sorta fans, but like MAJOR MAJOR fly-to-wherever-they-are-playing fans. Even name-your-firstborn-son-Geddy fans.

Here is the pièce de résistance (well, maybe not) of their years of loyal fanship: a picture of them with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson in Albuquerque. Woot, woot!