Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dear Mr. President

I rarely write to my elected officials, cuz let's be honest, no one above an intern actually reads what is written. Also I am rarely moved to such high levels of angst. I have to tell you, not much gets me up in arms, aside from when the government tries to monkey with my right to free speech and I am a BIG fan of the 4th Amendment. I have a right to say NO you can't touch me, look through my car or house, just because YOU think there is threat.

I also have spent more than ample time empowering both L and E to say no. No you can't hit me. No you can't hurt me and no you can't touch me in inappropriate ways. I am not inclined to make an exception to a TSA official, especially when this list of folks gets to waltz through scott free, unmolested and unscreened (as reported by Chris Elliott.)

The TSA insists it is listening to air travelers, and has already loosened many of its screening requirements in response to the public outrcy, including exempting pilots, flight attendants and children under 12 from the body scans or enhanced pat-downs. (Children will receive a “modified” pat-down, but the agency declines to say how, exactly, kids will be screened.)

It is so damn easy for President Obama to say these measures are important, he gets to jet set around the world with his wife and children and not have to explain to his daughters why women and men in uniform are touching them inappropriately. He does not have to explain to his daughters why they have to give up their right to consent to sexual touching.(also as reported by Chris Elliott)

President defends pat-downs. President Obama tells ABC’s Barbara Walters tonight that the pat-downs will continue. “I understand people’s frustrations with it,” he says. “But I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people…and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly…that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us – including me.”

No one is going to goose him in an airport, so why should he care. His cronies are exempt. His wife is exempt. His children are exempt. The baggage handler is exempt. This TSA policy is for the birds and we all know it.

So this is the message I sent the man I voted for 2 years ago. His job is to keep us safe and UPHOLD the Constitution. It is not an either/or proposition Mr. President. Take your fancy education and figure out some real solutions. I would start with finding Mr. Pistole a job as a pencil sharpener, he is not representing you well.

My Letter to the President:

I am writing you to urge you to reconsider this horrible and I feel unconstitutional TSA search and irradiation policy. As the father of two daughters, I cannot believe that a) you feel what amounts to sexual assault is justified, even to young children and b) this policy with its abundance of loop holes, like unscreened airport employees and members of congress, and the underscreened cargo  is not actually making us safer, but it is discriminatory.

Buying an airline ticket should not also mean I must submit defacto to sexual assault.

There are better ways and it is up to you, Mr. President to find them.

There must be a balance between security and dignity.Policies which purport to ensure our safety but steal our dignity must not be tolerated. That is not what the founding Fathers' risked life and liberty for and we should not be willing to accept anything less than that.

Freedom comes with great responsibility and first and foremost we must responsibly protect those freedoms.
This wrongheaded and unconstitutional TSA policy are not the way to do that. I know you know that. As a father you want your daughters to be safe and have the right to consent. Do not steal that from my daughter, just because your daughters can fly on a private jet. Just because your wife does not have to be man-handled in public, do not make me consent to such treatment.

If there were proof that these type of loop hole riddled policies actually made me safer, perhaps I would go along with it, but they don't and we all know that.



Friday, November 26, 2010

This is not a craft or cooking blog.

I know, I have been posting alot of entries which have to do with cooking and crafting and this may be causing many of you to think that I am morphing into a Domestic Diva and while it is true, I am no longer fighting the economy and have embraced enjoying motherhood and writing creatively and to suit myself, I am not gunning for the Martha Stewart homemaker of the year award. (not that I have a chance of getting it, the house is cluttered and the laundry is frequently in piles and the kitchen gets torn up routinely.)

What I am doing is enjoying my children, who are 8 and 5 years old. I am home to get them off to school in the morning and I am home to hear about their days in the afternoon after school. I can afford to devote many weekends to taking them here and there. I organize trips to the library and the conservatory.  I waited well into my late twenties and early thirties to have children and for a good portion of their toddler years I fought the notion of being a stay at home mom. I worked sometimes 3 jobs to put myself through the finally two years of college. I worked hard to complete that MBA. I wanted to put all that work to use and then it dawned on me - I am. I am focusing on my children and my family and my writing and I am showing my children, that I define success on my own terms.

I thought about applying for a job or two this fall, but the reality is H is now based back at home, after a long stint in NYC and if I adopt a traditional 9 to 5 M-F work schedule, we would never see each other. Also, E was sick a week or so ago and it was totally on me, H was traveling and E was home 2.5 days, one only gets so much sick time. (I was sick the following week, totally unrelated, but still.)

I feel like, while I am busy, it is all manageable. I can make time to write. I can make time to cook, I can make time to make dolls with L and not feel like I am trying to keep the damn from bursting. I can roast a whole pumpkin, puree and make ginger pumpkin bread and homemade pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. I can spend time with friends and love ones and not constantly feel as if I am behind and overwhelmed.

So while this is not a cooking nor craft blog, it is my blog and for now, during this season of my life, I am cooking, crafting and writing and that is exactly what I should be doing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dolls and Dolls

I took the kids to Junctionview Studios on Saturday for the Viewfinder event. L is very in touch with her creative self and E is certainly showing signs of having a quiet creative spirit. I like the children to see artists, craft people and artisans working. I think in our counsurmerist centered capitalist culture, we have ceased seeing the value in those items, which are crafted with skill, heart and soul.

L has wanted an Ugly Doll for awhile and we have resisted. She has a zoo of stuffed creatures, one can hardly see her in her double bed most nights. She saw some handcrafted stuffed pets at the Viewfinder and as we walked back to the car, full of Pattycake cookies and high spirits, she said she thought we could make them.

In truth my sewing skills are not salable quality, but I can sew. It is something I enjoy, if I am not that good at it. I would like to sew more, but finding the time for me to really focus on the task is a challenge.

So thanks to the power of Google and YouTube, we found a video and a pattern. I blew the pattern up slightly using our copier and we set out, looking through my material scraps and my craft buttons. (I also did not trace and sew, as L wanted more elaborate embellishments and we had to make some modifications.)

L helped design the dolls, picking the fabric and the embellishments. We offered to include E, but he passed. I think he thought we were nuts. Saturday night we plotted, planned and pinned. On Sunday we cut, pieced, and sewed. Then L stuffed. At swimming lessons, I hand sewed the heads closed and patched any of the holes, which formed as enthusiastic stuffing split a seam or two.

I am pleased with the results. L had named hers - Stubby (Top right corner)  and Clara (blue strips with pink tummy patch) and they have been going to school with her, this short week of school. She is proud of our efforts and most of all happy, I think at realizing her creative vision and doing so, with me. It was a very nice mother/daughter project.

The other two have found good homes as well. So all is right in the stuffed world.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yummy Butternut Squash Pasta sauce

I have been experimenting with squash. I have many from my CSA and I have aimed to use every single one. So when I read this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens I knew I had to give it a try - with some modification to accommodate my allergies and sensitivities.

Here is the recipe from which can be found here


  • 1  large  butternut squash, 2-3/4- 3-1/4 lbs., or 1-3/4 lbs. ready-cubed (6 cups)
  • 1  large  onion, finely chopped
  • 2  Tbsp.  olive oil
  • 3/4  tsp.  smoked paprika
  • 1  Tbsp.  unsalted butter
  • 3  Tbsp.  Marsala
  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 2/3  cup  pine nuts
  • 1  lb.  pappardelle or other robust pasta
  • 6    fresh sage leaves
  • 5  oz.  soft blue cheese, such as Saint Agur


1. Peel, halve, and seed the butternut squash; cut into roughly 1-inch cubes.
2. Cook onion in olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan that can accommodate the pasta later. When the onion starts to become golden, add the paprika.
3. Stir butter and squash into onion mixture in pan. Add Marsala and water. Bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 10 minutes or until squash is tender but still holds its shape.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to boiling; add hefty pinch of salt. Cook pasta according to package directions. Toast pine nuts in a hot, dry frying pan o the stove top until dark gold. Pour them into a bowl or onto a plate to cool.
5. Lightly season squash mixture to taste with salt (the blue cheese will add additional saltiness). Remove from heat.
6. Finely chop sage; sprinkle over the squash, reserving some for serving.
7. Remove about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water with a ladle or mug; drain pasta. Add drained pasta to the squash mixture. Gently stir to combine. If sauce is too dry or mixture won't come together, add some of the reserved cooking water; the starch in it encourages the sauce to emulsify and cling to the pasta. Stir in most of the pine nuts and blue cheese. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with remaining sage, pine nuts, and cheese. Makes 6 (1-1/2 cup) servings plus leftovers.
My changes -

1. I could not find gluten free Pappardelle. I did find some wide noodles which were gluten free, but they contained corn starch and eggs so they were a no go. I opted for some gluten free penne. Which seemed strong enough to hold up to the thick hearty sauce.

2. At Whole Foods, I selected a sheep's milk blue cheese, which seemed milder than some of the very sharp cow's milk blue cheeses, but I was just happy to be able to use blue cheese.

3. I am not a huge fan of  Marsala. So I used some white wine. The same for pine nuts, not a huge fan and I am thinking nuts are aggravating my tummy, so I omitted those also.

I found this to be an easy and yummy dish, very hearty. I served it with green beans. H is wanting to try more vegetarian dishes and reduce our consumption of meat. This fit the bill and is very filling. This made enough for two good sized dinner portions and plenty of leftovers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A flying...


This phrase has always struck me as bit off. I imagine little fairies or cherubs or 300 pound men on Circus trapeze, whatever. When kids would say this in High-school, or more correctly yell it, I was always puzzled. I digress.

I picked this title because a friend made a very funny funny and it inspired me. (Thank you R!)

If you are somewhat awake and following the news, you know that the TSA has been busy of late. Want to bone up on the full body scanners and enhanced pat downs - go here for a primer.

I will also note, H had an incident this week, at an airport, where these new procedures are in play. A butter knife was found and H followed protocol and the head of TSA for that airport came and that clown asked H if he wanted to search the plane or not. H is like, heck ya I wanna search the plane, I want to see what else you missed.The passengers deplaned and they all got re-screened and the plane got a thorough going over (all except the cargo, that is.)

I will let you in on a little secret. I dislike Big Brother (who now is turning into Creepy pervy - in a bad way - Uncle!) I have a real problem with people in authority who are stupid. While we are at it, I have zero tolerance or patience for stupid in general. I also have a BIG problem with my basic rights being violated. Convicted criminals cannot be subjected to this type of invasion of privacy without proper cause and yet we the American flying public are paying to be subjected to groping and radiation and news flash - it isn't doing anything to make us safer. Not when cargo goes unscreened or under-screened and airport employees are only randomly screened.

So while those of us who choose to fly (which is not me - after my trip to Cancun, I plan to stay firmly on terra firma for awhile.) are stripping down to our underwear, being zapped with what cannot be a safe amount of radiation, by people who may or may not be saving those images, and then poked and prodded in a manner that would get the average horny guy in a bar arrested and on a sexual predator list - millions and I mean millions of pounds of cargo are flying on commercial airliners - unscreened or under-screened. H says he routinely gets a manifest which includes cargo, that NO ONE had screened since it has been entered into the system and then it is likely the shipper answered some yes or no questions, and not enduring a groping.

Go with God, darling. Go with God. Especially when this is the US attitude toward screening of cargo.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole, who also attended the conference, said a delicate balance needs to be struck to ensure that the enhanced security requirements for air freight do not disrupt global trade.
"The flow of global commerce is key to economic recovery," Pistole said. "Security cannot bring business to a standstill."

So while we consumers, air travelers and normal Joe's are being subjected to draconian and I think illegal searches of our person and property, cargo, stuff in boxes is flying first class, unsearched and unscreened.

This Article has a great graphic detailing how cargo is processed. While there is some screening, it is not nearly as invasive or as thorough as passengers are enduring. Nor is cargo stored in a sterile area. It is often left unattended, on the tarmac, on a truck or in a warehouse.

Now if I were of a mind to wreck havoc, I would go for the airport employees - who come to work and largely get to pass through unscreened. While nosing around, I found this article about what the TSA says it is doing. I am not buying it. H says he has never, in all the airports he has been in, seen it either. I think that every employee of an airport should have to submit to the same screening as passengers everyday. Why should they be any different than the guy who flies two to three times a week? They are the door in. Let's face it, they are paid peanuts. Many are foreigners or new to the US and money is an issue. I am not sure how easy it is to do a 10 year background check on a tarmac employee, who is from Kenya or Somilia or Mexico and been in this country for a few years. I am sure those governments, in the developing world have great record keeping methods and I am sure they are super willing to share that information.

Also I recall rather fondly the time, I discovered while doing a client's 401 K pre-test audit and discovered that there were 17 different employees, at three different plants, with the same social security number. Fake ID's anyone? The terrorists who brought us 9/11, many of them had valid State issued ID. While it is illegal to lie to the BMV, a guy or gal who wants to blow something up, I seriously doubt lying to a quasi government agency, a government they have great contempt for, is a great moral quandary.

I am not the only one concerned about this. This article speaks to the perils of swipe cards and security by-pass procedures, which are the rule at US airports, not an exception. (Read more here and here )

So I do give a flying f*ck. My Sweetie, goes to work and his office is 35,000 ft off the ground. I want him to be safe and if I was assured that all the other loop holes were closed and the only way we could assure his safety was for me to strip naked and walk through the airport, get my thyroid fried with radiation and let some pervy, underpaid, under educated goon grope me, I would do it. Heck I might kiss the goon.

But that is not the case and until we close those other loop holes - this is a classic case of the government being lazy and stupid and motivated by corporate interests. Don't hold up cargo. Don't make my employees have to go through security, it eats into the work day. Why should I pay to have them groped. Blah, blah, blah.

The metal detector and the wand searches are enough. They are not 100%, but I think H's experience this week proves they are just as effective as the searches which steal our human rights. I would rather take my chances on what works reasonably well and maintains my dignity than what clearly doesn't work and puts us on the slippery slope to a police state.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Goodreads: Fear of Flying, Eric Jong

Fear of FlyingFear of Flying by Erica Jong

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


While I could not read this book, finding it hard to read bits and put it down and pick it up, without having to flip back a few pages and re-read, I did end up finishing it - but in audio book form. I found having the book read to me, to worked wonders.

I purchased the audio version on and the narrator is wonderful and the book really comes alive.

I found myself really loving the frantic prose and the jumping from topic to topic and while reading the meandering of Isadore's mind proved challenging, listening to them was rewarding and pleasant. I actually found myself thinking about all the craziness she was explaining and experiencing, instead of drowning in the words on the printed page.

I think this book is very well written, and rich with fantastical phrases and very rye and sage observations, very relevant still today and worth being read. I don't actually  like any of the characters and while I would like to say I am grossly disappointed in Adrian Goodlove turning out to be a worthless, spineless, fraud - what does one really expect from a character deliberately named Goodlove.

I am glad I got creative and took a chance on the audio book, it really did make all the difference.

View all my reviews