Friday, December 26, 2008

Color Inspiration

Santa surprised me with two color-inspiration books this year. Anna Starmer's Color Scheme Bible provides color combination options and House Beautiful's Colors for Your Home gives readers actual paint names, numbers, and designer commentary. Together, they make a great resource.

I really like the pink and gold bedroom featured in the "Bible" but wonder how that will work with the orange armoire and purple wisteria in my living room. Decisions, I must make them, but today I will rest, make red bean soup, and postpone doing anything important.

Click on the links to find out more about these books.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

July 29, 1930

Dearest Katherine,

Three cheers for the long letter, wish you’d gotten to write while in the mood. I’d have been a lucky person with such a long letter.

Dorothy Dix now speaks (even if she knows not of what she writes) – I see no terrible harm in it all. But I think I’d be extra-careful and think what he’d think of it – even if it does require a lot of extra mental effort. I’d surely not get him jealous – jealous people aren’t my idea of safe playtoys. I’ve often wondered what you thought of me. Another case where you can be frank. I know there’s room for improvement and like constructive criticism. Is the advice sufficient. It’s all the good I can do ‘cause I’ve not had the experience you have and don’t know J.B. anywhere as well.

Don’t remember what I said to tell Chris about Ben. He’s one of those people that fascinate you when you’re with them. No wonder you don’t think I’m serious, you’ve heard me rave about so many people. I meant it, at the time. But I get interested in something else – it’s a case of rapid transfer of interest.

And Hatcher. I’m overcome with shock, surprise and joy. See if you approve my plan of attack on him. I’m going to wear my fluffliest, ruffled dress, of course, white shoes, and play at being a dignified, very feminine, young woman. With never a mention of anything more strenuous than dancing. Or possibly swimming – he likes that. Katherine Howard is his c.g. and being as I don’t know her I can’t imitate her. Anyway, be yourself. (Ain’t I getting dumb in my old age?) Can’t imagine what came over him to want a date with me. Hope he doesn’t change his mind in the meantime.

Unless I have to go on a pledge party, prepare for the worst, Aug. 10 – have to serve punch at Vespers Aug. 3. Imagine me presiding over a punch bowl! But it’s got to be done.

Also have more work to be done than I can say grace over. And the sad part is that it’s got to be done.

Have just come back from a field trip on which I rode in the rumble of a Cadillac coupe. Some class and great fun. Also have prevailed on Frances to let me copy a paper that’s worrying me – so I’m some better off. Even if I am meeting and running down in my shoes.

Guess you all know that Daddy is going to Augusta the first and guess the family will be up here sometimes the following week – Thursday is August 1 – guess they’ll be packed & ready to travel Mon. or Tuesday – certainly ought to cause four days is long enough for any one to take up packing.

Where did young Hogan coach last year – C.H.S or C.M.A. I have a class with him and can’t remember who it was that told me he was their coach. Poor memory, not convenient.

Went to Franklin Friday and got stormed on, but started Saturday to Lenten then didn’t like the looks of the place and came all the way back to Nashville and then to Franklin. Rode somewhere near 60 miles for our swim. We’re supposed to go to Franklin again Wed. Hope so, it will be good for the suntan.

Tell J.B. he can almost make up his mind to come to Nashville Aug. 10 cause if it’s possible I’m coming.

Did Earle ever make any explanation?

Lots of love,

This long enough? Any way it’s all I know. Ans. soon cause I know I enjoy letters more than anyone else ever could.

Katherine's Note: J's home was near Franklin and he was living (during the week) and teaching in Ashland City. Sometimes he'd pick up 'Cile as he came through Nashville and take her back to school on Sunday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

June 19, 1930

Dear Katherine:

Don’t know whether I’ll get there with anything to wear or not – Nell’s got all my clothes – I’m going to town today to try to buy something. I usually have the devil of a time trying to find something.

Saw Ned the other night and talked to him. More thrills than I’ve ever had in a short time before. Ain’t I silly?

4 hrs later
Just purchased me a dress. White shantung and a quilted hat – tried to buy some shoes but couldn’t get any that I wanted to fit me.

Don’t be silly about bringing me home. Nolan isn’t coming back for 2 weeks – and besides I’ve lost all interest in him. I’m so fickle.

I ain’t guilty of coming without any head covering. Did come without a hat but had a beret.

Don’t care what I do Fri. night. You know I don’t – but I’m a rotten bridge player. about the world’s worst. I prefer to date Hatcher or Tom – (leave Nolan to the tender mercies of Mary.) if I’m going to date. It doesn’t make any difference whether I date or not.

Oh yea, will you let me wear blond shoes with a white shantung dress and a white hat? If not I can’t come cause I can’t find any white shoes I like.

Well good bye.

Love, ‘Cile

I blistered and am peeling. I look like the very devil.

Air France

After a few more days of fun, I was on my way home. Air France has a fantastic ad campaign created by Camilla Akrans. Somehow, though, the experience didn’t live up to the promise. The seats were crowded, an amazing complaint for a small girl like myself; the TV screens were hard to see and the attendants not so pleasant. Next time, I’ll go British Air even if the airport wait is in-terminal-able. At least Heathrow has a Starbucks.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Ben Ezra Synagogue

The Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo stands near the site where the pharoah’s daughter is said to have found Moses. We took this photo on our way in and then spoke to one of the men pictured on our way out and back to the metro station. He told us there were initially thousands of Jews in Egypt and now only approximately 150 are left.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Greek Orthodox Cemetery

Egyptian Christians are known as Copts, a term originating from the Arabic “qibt” derived from the Greek “aegyptios.” Many of the graves in Coptic Cairo are of recent years, some marked in the 21st century even. The area was quiet and tranquil, unusual in a vibrant city of 17 million.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mar Girgis

My next great adventure was to ride Egypt's metro system to Mar Girgis to see the Coptic section of Old Cairo. Mar Girgis translated = St. George. This relief is from a church dedicated to the soldier who was executed AD 303 for resisting Diocletian's decree that outlawed the practice of Christianity. The metro station is also called Mar Girgis. It looks like there's the St George myth and the St George martyr, combining here the symbolism of the story with the actions of the man.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Starbucks in Alexandria (Egypt)

My sis and I headed next to the San Stefano mall where we shopped at the Spanish-owned MANGO and then after a quick latte, everyone rushed off to the train station for the three-hour trip back to Cairo. When I told the barista "shukran" (thank you), he replied with "you're welcome" (aafwaan). It's a cosmopolitan world in Alex.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

After a lovely night at the elegant Le Metropole, a hotel with impossibly tall doors and ceilings, we took a walk along the corniche and then stopped at the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina. This ambitious library and modern conference center has been built close to the original site where Alexander the Great’s famous library once stood. The statue posted is one representing knowledge. The link here will take you to a small selection of Shadi Abdel Salam’s costume design currently on display.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mediterranean Fishermen

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eid al-Adha (Tuesday)

We spent the second night of Eid in Alexandria. Thousands of people were out on the street walking, socializing, and riding horse-drawn wagons. Our lighter hair and fairer skin made us immediately recognizable as different. Many stopped to ask us in English, "What's your name?" This was followed by smiles and introductions: "My name is Noor, Mustafa, Mohamad." It was a great celebration on the Mediterranean corniche. (Maya and Asia in the lower photo; everyone else, locals who were more than willing to pose for the photos.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eid al-Adha (Monday)

We woke up early this morning but didn't get up for hours. The 5 a.m. prayer was like a megaphone right inside the house for at least 45 minutes. It sounded like the mike was passed around from one man to the next and the same phrases were repeated over and over again: God is Great. There is only one God.

Yesterday after dinner at Evelyn's house, we came home and a neighbor was unloading two quiet passive lambs. I have done some online research to try and better understand the sacrificial part of this holiday and am comforted to learn that the halal method is at least quick and relatively painless. I have to admit that Americans kill millions of turkeys for Thanksgiving and while we don't watch the process, I would be naive to think the execution doesn't occur. And I have to admit with shame that American slaughterhouse methods are some of the worst in the world.

While today is meant to be about community, we declined invitations to watch the event. I'm a bit nervous about what we may see when we go outside.

(It was fine. It was a beautiful day. Everyone was in good spirits and we saw nothing unpleasant.)


Machines in love, a 2001 Space Odyssey moment, the boot of life, and walking like an Egyptian in the closing credits.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Barbie in a Christmas Carol

Due to a late start and a flat tire, the plans to go to Saqqara have been scrapped to watch movies! Last night - full confession - we watched Barbie in a Christmas Carol.

The plot runs along the same lines as the Dickens classic, except Timmy = Tammy and the protaganist is Barbie's Victorian ancestor, Eiden.

Having learned that selfish behavior brings success, the ghost of Christmas future shows the famous opera singer that long-term security comes first with being generous. The story is passed down to Barbie and then to Kelly through a snow globe.

Eid al-Adha (Sunday)

Today Egyptians are at home with their families preparing for the Eid al-Adha celebration tomorrow (عيد الأضحى or the Festival of Sacrifice). This is a feast day in commemoration of Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. At the last minute, God intervenes and provides a lamb instead.

Tomorrow morning Muslims around the world will attend morning prayer and exchange gifts. A sheep or goat will be slaughtered (viewed by all) and the meat will be distributed to members of the community including those too poor to afford meat on a regular basis.

Last night, on the airport ride to my sister's house, we saw large groups of animals gathered throughout the city ready for sacrifice. A little upsetting to think about ...

For more information, go here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Save the Tigers

If you would like to purchase kid-designed wrapping paper for the Christmas season, please e-mail me at leslieinadamsmorgan (at) gmail (dot) com.

All proceeds will be sent to help save the tigers. Wrapping paper is $1 per sheet (size = 70 x 48 centimeters).

For more information about the efforts being made to protect tigers, go here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Pyramids at Giza

Here in America we live very much in the 21st century. In Egypt, however, the modern day prayer calls of Islam coexist with a respect for the Holy Family of 2,000 years ago and the ancient pharoahs of 5,000. The passage of time doesn't feel linear to me and as a result the ages seem to have relevance and the universe feels bigger than ourselves.

During my first trip, I did all of the "must do" things to include visiting the mummies in the Egyptian Museum and horseback riding at the pyramids. Since I was lucky enough to have an insider view, Jimmie, whose family owns the stables, led us through the non-tourist side. Afterwards, we drank tea and fed carrots to the horses.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Holy Family

This photo was take during a school field trip. After a stay in Old Cairo, the Holy Family moved in a southerly direction where they boarded a sailing-boat that carried them up the Nile. This Church was build on the site where they stopped to rest.

According to Asia, the Holy Family then knew they could leave Egypt because the angel Gabriel came down and whispered in Joseph's ear through a dream that the King was dead and now it was safe to go back to freedom.

Info from

Monday, December 1, 2008

Traffic in Cairo

This is a common sight in Egypt. A horse-drawn wagon making its way along side automobile traffic. In this photo everything looks a lot more orderly than I remember. You can see poor old donkeys driving cargo up highway ramps and cars stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason and sometimes they just back up instead of turning around.

There are no lanes painted and no traffic lights. Everything is organized by the sound of the horn and the person who gets there first. I remember a man driving a motorcycle, zipping around cars on the corniche, with his young son in front of him and his wife behind him holding a baby in swaddling clothes. No one was wearing helmets, of course. And she was sitting side saddle instead of across the seat! I have no idea what kept her secure.

I was in fear the entire time I was there of an accident but when I came back home, I felt like I'd been thrown into a medicated state, moving forward in line and order with no deviation allowed.

Photo from Cairo/Giza Daily Photo Blog.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Take an alien's aerial view of this American holiday. Once a solar year, everyone in a geographic part of the world gets busy. They fly, drive, walk, or take a bus to some other location where they stop, eat turkey, turn around, and go home again, at which point they resume their regular life. What's it all about?

If aliens apply the method we use to explain everything we don't understand from the past, they will say it's a religious event ... maybe we eat turkey to ward off evil spirits but the magic protection is only potent if we consume turkey with the people we trust most. But, truth be told, Thanksgiving is one of the few American holidays that's not about religion or the consumer index. While the travel industry may benefit from Thanksgiving - and turkeys clearly do not - there are no cards to buy, gifts to give, or expections to meet. The United States economy is not measured by how much we spend at Thanksgiving. Such a lovely holiday. It's all about food, family, being appreciative, and sharing.

So in the spirit of my upcoming trip to Cairo, I post today a photo taken in Khan el-Khalili earlier this year. If I'm correct, Egypt's word for bread also means life. Today is about being thankful for both.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

June 17, 1930

Dear Katherine,

May the Saints preserve our happy home! I just saw Ned - I'm just no account - And he said he was going to call me. If he only does - I guarantee you I'll be bad off - I went around in a daze over Pee Wee - But I'll be in a daze of happiness - (oh fool, quit your raving). Yes, I will.

Guess I'll give the town the once over - leave here at 3 o'clock or thereabouts. As for plans, don't ask me for any - they just ain't. I'm hoping for lots of luck - guess the logical thing to do would be down to come and come back on the bus with him, that seems to work.

If you find you are about to forget thrillling events just make a little memorandum, (in short hand of course) for future reference.

Don't mind this letter, I not responsible - hope you can patch together some sense out of it.

Love, Cile.

P.S. Just don't plan any swimming. I'm due to have the curse - which means I might and again I might not.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud to be an American

Today, for the first time, I am proud to be an American.

Many gave Michelle Obama a difficult time when she made a statement to that effect, but I understood exactly what she meant. She and I are close in age. The devotion she has for her children reminds me of my very own sister’s dedication to her children. We are of the same generation and while we would not give up our citizenship, we have not always felt as if our country represents our view of the world.

I am so very emotionally proud that my country has elected Barack Obama as President of the United States of America. He represents change in a number of ways.

The fact that he’s a black man and not a white man is the most obvious change and what that means for my country’s growth as a social nation is awesome.

The fact that he’s a Democrat and not a Republican has political implications that will change my country’s agenda in terms of how we handle the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how we approach global warming issues, the economy, and health care.

The fact that he’s an intelligent, articulate man is a welcome change from the last eight years of George Bush. But he’s also an inspirational man, a leader, and from what I have heard someone who can take in enormous amounts of information within a short period of time. He has an extraordinary mind and is using it for good, as superhero as that may sound.

The most important change for me, however, is that we will begin to interact with the world in a more respectful manner. Barack Obama is an inclusive man, as evidenced by his victory speech last night when he spoke to “young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled.” He also acknowledged those “beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world.”

Barack Obama is a man of the world. He understands we are a great nation but not the “greatest country in the world.” He knows we do not need to be aggressive in order to speak. We are a part of this world and we will not become weaker, we will indeed become stronger, when we begin to show respect for all cultures and all peoples within our nation and throughout the world.

Today, I am proud to be an American.

Yes, yes we can.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Leslie in Blue Virginia

If my vote helps make Virginia blue,
it will have been worth leaving Adams Morgan.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fashion On the Street

This photo is from the Sartorialist. I love the expensive black bag against an urban background. I like the variation in what she's wearing - the color, the texture, the layers. Blue tights. Patent shoes. Wrinkled cotton. Soft wrap. The girl almost has a red riding hood look about her but she's still very polished. Scott calls it "The Sculptor, Moscow." Click on the pic to see it large.

Moulin Rouge

Jen's dogs, Rose and Violet, ready for some holiday trick or treating ... Halloween is said to originate in Ireland and is known as Oíche Shamhna. Pagans held an autumn festival Samhain (End of Summer) and lit large communal bonfires to protect against evil spirits.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Ballad of Ballymote

by Tess Gallagher

We stopped at her hut
on the road to Ballymote
but she did not look up
and her head was on her knee.

What is it, we asked.
As from the dreams of the dead
her voice came up.

My father, they shot him
as he looked up from his plate
and again as he stood and again
as he fell against the stove
and like a thrush his breath
bruised the room
and was gone.

A traveler would have asked directions
but saw she would not lift her face.
What is it, he asked.

My husband sits all day in a pub
and all night and I may as well
be a widow for the way he beats me
to prove he's alive.

What is it, asked the traveler's wife,
just come up to look.

My son's lost both eyes in a fight
to keep himself a man
and there he sits behind the door
where there is no door
and he sees by the stumps
of his hands.

And have you no daughters for comfort?

Two there are and gone to nuns
and a third to the North
with a fisherman.

What are you cooking?

Cabbage and bones, she said. Cabbage
and bones.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cabbage and Bones (1997)

I've been waiting for Halloween week to post Caledonia Kearn's anthology of Irish American fiction. The themes are familiar ... funerals, loss, change, resentment, and a longing for a past more fanciful than real. It's the use of language I love, the extra pronouns, and the sense of other that exists in the daily life of those from the old country. An except follows from "Hour of Spring" by Mary Deasy:

"She remembered her great-granduncle Matt as a tall old man who wore a loose-fitting dark suit and derby hat, and who came to visit them twice a year on holiday afternoons, when he talked to them about the old days when he had lived on Burke Street .... Sometimes he went further back and talked about Ireland, and of his experiences with the little people there. He told them once that his grandmother had the glamour, and could see the fairies and traffic with them. She was a beautiful gray woman, he said; and told them how she would put an empty chair by the peats on a stormy night for some poor ghost to come in and rest.

He believed all that ... he believed it as implicitly as he believed in the Lord God sitting in His golden chair, and the angels and the blessed saints round. People who never knew the old Irish might think it incredible that a man could live for more than half a century in a modern American city and still believe in the existence of fairies, particularly a man as hardheadedly matter-of-fact as her great-granduncle Matt."

What about you? Do you have the glamour? Nearly everyone has a ghost story to tell. What's yours?

Click here to find out more about the book: Cabbage and Bones.

Monday, October 27, 2008

May 28, 1930

Dear Katherine,

I thought I'd told you were I was pulling out to, Cartersville, Ga. is my destination. to spend between quarters with my good friend Frances Hill.

Listen, I've just had a thought. Nolan P. Gartner will be home sometimes in June and I crave to be in Columbia, Tennessee at the same time he is and see what happens. Things could be explained, if he would. But really don't you think it would be amusing - I do.

The above paragraph should be in parenthesis. I'll now continue as above. Evelyn said that she would be more than glad to take you to the bus station and see you off if you'd like to spend the night. If we get a ride, tho', we won't leave until Thursday morning. Our plans are awfully vague because exam schedule hasn't been announced.

Didn't send Hatcher a bid 'cause Nell has my one & only evening dress. Any way they've made a new rule of no stags and the dances are stickier than molasses. It would have been nice, tho', if I had.

Don't know whether you are slamming me as a chaperone or not but I give you warning, I'll take the job, if offered. Would be pleased to pieces to accept. Just find a man to take me, and we'll dance away at Primm's. Whoopee -------------

We were initiated last night. I'm wearing a pin instead of a recognition pin and don't think I'm not proud of it. Hate for the time to come when I'll have to give it back.

Yep, went to the Manless Dance and didn't enjoy it in the least. They are getting sticky - or something. I'm fed up with school and everything and everybody. I've decided that I'm tired of getting educated in general.

I hate to think of the persons who won't be here next year. Seems like the whole school won't be back. I'll miss Marjorie like nothin' else, 'cause she's the one up here that I talk to like you and I talk.

I was just kidding about being jealous of you. but I'm almost that bad. As I said before, you really don't know me.

The saints preserve us. I've got to go teach swimming to the kids on the parks for the next three days. Teach girls and boys from 10-14. I hate Edna Marts for asking me, Roberta Miller for telling her I could and Dottie Tollson for saying that I had to. I'm told it's a great life. But I'm weakening - wonder if it's any better then. Couldn't be worse.

Miss Rood, the woman who had me scared to death, talked like she was going to pass me but I've got to make an addition to my paper that I'll have to make up out of a clear sky. Don't think there's any thing to be found on it. Even if she does talk like that I'll be holding my breath until I get by think bout June 10. Long time.

Better start the paper.

Love, 'Cile.

Blog Note: Nell is Cile's younger sister.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

May 21, 1930

Dearest Katherine,

Okyea, Peabody will allow you to stay with me if I'm here. But it's like unto this - I may leave here Fri. night at 9:30. If we finish exams Wed., like we hope to, Frances and I are pulling out. You're welcome to the use of my bed tho! and I can give you directions on how to get to the bus station. It isn't hard to find. Or my suite mate - Mary Jane might be big hearted and take you in her car. Don't you reckon I'll have a fairly good time this summer ... a car in my room and one in the suite. Ought to be able to get a ride once in a while.

I'm glad you are going to get to stay with Ruth, but I'm sure you wouldn't mind a stranger, you'd be having such a good time you'd have lots to talk of etc. I know from experience that it isn't so bad as it sounds. and you get along with strangers better than I do.

I should hope to say I would like to go to the C.M.A. dance. But I'm used to not having the things I want most - like that so why bother - it all comes in a lifetime and 25 years from now I'll be too old to care. Guess the Columbia girls are pepped. They know what it is now not to have uniforms about. Maybe I'll get to see Pee Wee again. Now I ask you, honestly? If I ain't the world's dumbest creature. Anybody that would. It's just plumb silly - anyone can be a fool but it takes me to be a damned fool. I've a confession to make. hope you won't be mad. I snitched your picture of last year's C.M.A. football team. If you want it back you can have it. even if I did swipe it for Willson's picture. If you see little Pee Wee give him the same message I said once before you could give him.

I appreciate you trusting me with the secret. I'm busting with importance. and rely on me not to tell - and when the news is broken, I'll turn actor and do it up brown. But you'll most probably get to write me when it is announced 'cause guess it will be about May 28 or thereabouts won't it.

I'll have to remember all I can about the paper - can't get a copy - and I'd rather not write it. Even I must be bad!

As to being jealous - I'm even jealous of you when I think you like somebody better than you do me. There is only one girl up here I'm not jealous of and I know where I stand with her. She has a crush on one girl but she's my friend, gives me good advice, etc. What a life - but next to you I'd count on her if I got into trouble.

As to riding - not planning on going with anyone, just taking care of any emergency that may come up.

Guess I've about answered your letter - now to start on new things.

I most assuredly am still running errands. Got to report to one of 'em as soon as I get out of this class. She lives in an apartment and hope I don't have to wash dishes or clean up her house. I'm getting used to the ribbon except when someone gives me a queer look - got so tickled yesterday when Miss Rood asked two old numbers where their hair ribbons were. Going to chapel every morning gripes me. at 20 til 8 and I don't have classes till nine. Have to get up a whole hour earlier than I would - loosing more good sleep.

Guess maybe we'll get initiated Sat. or I hope so anyway.

You know I just thought - imagine me doing that. Hope Hatcher doesn't forget about that dance at Primm's he was going to take me to.

We're going to have a Manless Dance Sat. Don't know whether I'll go or not. I've evidently lost my taste for them 'cause I didn't enjoy the last one a little bit.

We spent Sat. night and sun. out at Knopp Farm. Had a fairly good time but it rained and stormed on us. and I got scared half to death - the chaperone just barely missed catching me smoking. She walked into the room and wouldn't even look at me. She's my friend for life. Even if she does up and bust me on some courses. 'Cause she could ship me on it easy enough. but she doesn't want to get rid of any majors. I'm cured of one thing tho! - I'm going places where the chaperone won't be likely to walk in next time I choose to indulge in the nicotine habit.

Saw a cute show last nite - don't up and not go just cause I recommend it now - Charles Farrell & Janet Gaynor in "High Society Blues." I enjoyed it just lots. Also went to Ward-Belmont May Day yesterday and was kind of bored. Of course it was pretty. things over there always are, but just the same I have seen better ones.

This class is about to end and my information is running out so -

Love, 'Cile.

Bus schedule
Leaves Nashville 7 & 8 in the morning 12:30 and 4 in aft.
Time of trip about 8 hrs.
Arrives Knoxville calculate for yourself.
Rates $5.00

P.S. Little girl, you just don't know anything about me and I just wouldn't be interested in disillusioning you all at once - so live and learn - now you have something to live for. Thank me for giving it to you.

Blog Note: Katherine's trip to Knoxville was for her future husband's UT graduation . Perhaps the secret Lucile keeps is Katherine's engagement to J. Ruth is J's sister.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Powell Endorses Barack Obama

See the video here on Meet the Press. The key points of the interview are summarized below and taken directly from today's Washington Post.

During the recent economic crisis, Powell said, Obama had shown "steadiness, intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge." As for McCain, he said, "I've found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having, and almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. And that concerned me. I got the sense that he hasn't had a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had."

Powell said he was also concerned by McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whom he called "a distinguished woman" but someone not ready to be president. "That raised some question in my mind as to [McCain's] judgment," he said.

In explaining his decision, Powell was more critical of the Republican Party and McCain's campaign than of the candidate himself. He said Republican attempts to tie Obama to the 1960s domestic terrorism of William Ayers amounted to "demagoguery" and a distraction from pressing issues.

Powell also said he was troubled by Republicans who "said such things as 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well, the correct answer is 'He is not a Muslim; he is a Christian. He's always been a Christian.' But the really right answer is 'What if he is?' "

Powell, who supports affirmative action for minorities and abortion rights, has also expressed concern about McCain's positions on domestic social issues. "I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court," he said.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barack Obama for President

The Washington Post endorsement below:

THE NOMINATING process this year produced two unusually talented and qualified presidential candidates. There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Sen. John McCain. Yet it is without ambivalence that we endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president.

The choice is made easy in part by Mr. McCain's disappointing campaign, above all his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president. It is made easy in larger part, though, because of our admiration for Mr. Obama and the impressive qualities he has shown during this long race. Yes, we have reservations and concerns, almost inevitably, given Mr. Obama's relatively brief experience in national politics. But we also have enormous hopes.

Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. Obama has the potential to become a great president. Given the enormous problems he would confront from his first day in office, and the damage wrought over the past eight years, we would settle for very good.

The first question, in fact, might be why either man wants the job. Start with two ongoing wars, both far from being won; an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan; a resurgent Russia menacing its neighbors; a terrorist-supporting Iran racing toward nuclear status; a roiling Middle East; a rising China seeking its place in the world. Stir in the threat of nuclear or biological terrorism, the burdens of global poverty and disease, and accelerating climate change. Domestically, wages have stagnated while public education is failing a generation of urban, mostly minority children. Now add the possibility of the deepest economic trough since the Great Depression.

Not even his fiercest critics would blame President Bush for all of these problems, and we are far from being his fiercest critic. But for the past eight years, his administration, while pursuing some worthy policies (accountability in education, homeland security, the promotion of freedom abroad), has also championed some stunningly wrongheaded ones (fiscal recklessness, torture, utter disregard for the planet's ecological health) and has acted too often with incompetence, arrogance or both. A McCain presidency would not equal four more years, but outside of his inner circle, Mr. McCain would draw on many of the same policymakers who have brought us to our current state. We believe they have richly earned, and might even benefit from, some years in the political wilderness.

OF COURSE, Mr. Obama offers a great deal more than being not a Republican. There are two sets of issues that matter most in judging these candidacies. The first has to do with restoring and promoting prosperity and sharing its fruits more evenly in a globalizing era that has suppressed wages and heightened inequality. Here the choice is not a close call. Mr. McCain has little interest in economics and no apparent feel for the topic. His principal proposal, doubling down on the Bush tax cuts, would exacerbate the fiscal wreckage and the inequality simultaneously. Mr. Obama's economic plan contains its share of unaffordable promises, but it pushes more in the direction of fairness and fiscal health. Both men have pledged to tackle climate change.

Mr. Obama also understands that the most important single counter to inequality, and the best way to maintain American competitiveness, is improved education, another subject of only modest interest to Mr. McCain. Mr. Obama would focus attention on early education and on helping families so that another generation of poor children doesn't lose out. His budgets would be less likely to squeeze out important programs such as Head Start and Pell grants. Though he has been less definitive than we would like, he supports accountability measures for public schools and providing parents choices by means of charter schools.

A better health-care system also is crucial to bolstering U.S. competitiveness and relieving worker insecurity. Mr. McCain is right to advocate an end to the tax favoritism showed to employer plans. This system works against lower-income people, and Mr. Obama has disparaged the McCain proposal in deceptive ways. But Mr. McCain's health plan doesn't do enough to protect those who cannot afford health insurance. Mr. Obama hopes to steer the country toward universal coverage by charting a course between government mandates and individual choice, though we question whether his plan is affordable or does enough to contain costs.

The next president is apt to have the chance to nominate one or more Supreme Court justices. Given the court's current precarious balance, we think Obama appointees could have a positive impact on issues from detention policy and executive power to privacy protections and civil rights.

Overshadowing all of these policy choices may be the financial crisis and the recession it is likely to spawn. It is almost impossible to predict what policies will be called for by January, but certainly the country will want in its president a combination of nimbleness and steadfastness -- precisely the qualities Mr. Obama has displayed during the past few weeks. When he might have been scoring political points against the incumbent, he instead responsibly urged fellow Democrats in Congress to back Mr. Bush's financial rescue plan. He has surrounded himself with top-notch, experienced, centrist economic advisers -- perhaps the best warranty that, unlike some past presidents of modest experience, Mr. Obama will not ride into town determined to reinvent every policy wheel. Some have disparaged Mr. Obama as too cool, but his unflappability over the past few weeks -- indeed, over two years of campaigning -- strikes us as exactly what Americans might want in their president at a time of great uncertainty.

ON THE SECOND set of issues, having to do with keeping America safe in a dangerous world, it is a closer call. Mr. McCain has deep knowledge and a longstanding commitment to promoting U.S. leadership and values.

But Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and America's place in it. He, too, is committed to maintaining U.S. leadership and sticking up for democratic values, as his recent defense of tiny Georgia makes clear. We hope he would navigate between the amoral realism of some in his party and the counterproductive cocksureness of the current administration, especially in its first term. On most policies, such as the need to go after al-Qaeda, check Iran's nuclear ambitions and fight HIV/AIDS abroad, he differs little from Mr. Bush or Mr. McCain. But he promises defter diplomacy and greater commitment to allies. His team overstates the likelihood that either of those can produce dramatically better results, but both are certainly worth trying.

Mr. Obama's greatest deviation from current policy is also our biggest worry: his insistence on withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq on a fixed timeline. Thanks to the surge that Mr. Obama opposed, it may be feasible to withdraw many troops during his first two years in office. But if it isn't -- and U.S. generals have warned that the hard-won gains of the past 18 months could be lost by a precipitous withdrawal -- we can only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of success in Iraq and adjust his plans.

We also can only hope that the alarming anti-trade rhetoric we have heard from Mr. Obama during the campaign would give way to the understanding of the benefits of trade reflected in his writings. A silver lining of the financial crisis may be the flexibility it gives Mr. Obama to override some of the interest groups and members of Congress in his own party who oppose open trade, as well as to pursue the entitlement reform that he surely understands is needed.

IT GIVES US no pleasure to oppose Mr. McCain. Over the years, he has been a force for principle and bipartisanship. He fought to recognize Vietnam, though some of his fellow ex-POWs vilified him for it. He stood up for humane immigration reform, though he knew Republican primary voters would punish him for it. He opposed torture and promoted campaign finance reform, a cause that Mr. Obama injured when he broke his promise to accept public financing in the general election campaign. Mr. McCain staked his career on finding a strategy for success in Iraq when just about everyone else in Washington was ready to give up. We think that he, too, might make a pretty good president.

But the stress of a campaign can reveal some essential truths, and the picture of Mr. McCain that emerged this year is far from reassuring. To pass his party's tax-cut litmus test, he jettisoned his commitment to balanced budgets. He hasn't come up with a coherent agenda, and at times he has seemed rash and impulsive. And we find no way to square his professed passion for America's national security with his choice of a running mate who, no matter what her other strengths, is not prepared to be commander in chief.

ANY PRESIDENTIAL vote is a gamble, and Mr. Obama's résumé is undoubtedly thin. We had hoped, throughout this long campaign, to see more evidence that Mr. Obama might stand up to Democratic orthodoxy and end, as he said in his announcement speech, "our chronic avoidance of tough decisions."

But Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Starbucks in Ballston (Metro)

I've been in my new condo for a month now. There are many things I like about it ... I sleep better. I have a dishwasher. The light is good and my view is green. The best part is I don't spend endless hours commuting to work and fighting city dust, but lately I've been missing my Adams Morgan Starbucks. They are a fast-paced group of interesting people that remember what you order day to day and have your cup of coffee ready before you step up to the counter. Geographically, I'm only a few Metro stops away from my old home but the difference from DC to Virginia is astounding. I mean, for God sakes, how slow can you possibly pour that cup of coffee and count out my change? These people must all be on sedatives.

I know I sound irritable and maybe I'm suffering from caffeine withdrawal since I don't live right over top my fix anymore, but I miss the city pace even if it's not healthy for me.

And that brings me to today. I stopped in for a tall coffee at the Ballston Metro Starbucks and asked the barista kid where I could get back issues of the Good Sheet. My country bumpkin server told me he didn't even know what I was talking about. The brochures have only been right under his nose for several weeks now. No wonder people vote for celebrities instead of intelligent candidates. Picking up a piece of paper might have caused this kid to exert some energy.

And then when he told me my coffee was on the house, and I insisted on paying anyway, he put the $2 in the TIP JAR for HIMSELF? Can you believe it?

Next time you are in Starbucks, pick up the Good Sheet and try to behave better than I did. It's an adjustment I'm going through. This week's topic talks about where your money goes when you buy a gallon of gas. Be informed and vote Democratic.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Giant (1952)

I've read both the book and seen the movie now. And neither as a whole is as good as a combination of bits and parts from each. In the movie, the courting scene between Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson is a shallow event. Considering the length of the production, it's surprisingly overlooked. Yet in the book, Edna Ferber's description of Leslie's shabby chic home in Virginia and her lead character's seduction of Bick is one of the better parts of the novel. You feel the bride's pain when she realizes what she's left behind for the man she loves.

In the book, Jett Rink is a disrespectful field hand who has no redeeming qualities of which I'm aware, yet in the movie he has depth and pathos, and his downfall is understood as coming from his desire to do and be better without the support he needs to get there.

If you take both versions of Giant, the message is powerful. Quite a few grown men today remember without pause the author's name and the role she played in America's consciousness in the 1950s. In Giant, the movie, the ending is idealistic. Leslie changes Bick. He stands up for the Mexican and equal treatment and takes a beating in the process. The book is more realistic, though. Leslie argues for change but continues to look away. Her husband never changes but accepts it because he has no other choice. It is their children who embody the future and begin the social integration of Texas.

Click here to find out more about the book: Giant.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

April 15, 1930

Dear Katherine,

I started you a letter last night, but didn't get to finish. I realize I don't owe you a letter but I'm mad and you're elected to hear my woes. So prepare for the worst.

I'm mad at my roommate. And I mean truly mad. I didn't think anything could make me lose my appetite – and here its happened twice in two weeks – or is it three?

I've done some good at that. I've decided why I fell like a ton of brick for "Pee Wee." And what I wouldn't give to see that little boy! You just don't know.

Why am I such a d --- d idiot? Someone would do well to invent something to make people sensible. They would be a godsend to people like me.

I'm deciding that I've got to learn to play tennis. Starting this aft. but you should see how I blister. My nose is burned and slick as a peeled onion. Just the same, I'm going to learn to play tennis. I'm getting brown as an Indian.

This is for a purpose – you might have known it! I'm coming down next week-end – April 20 to be exact. Think I'd better give dates so we will understand each other.

A letter on the installment plan, doesn't it sound hashed – but who cares? It won't make a bit of difference a hundred years from now.

Love. 'Cile.

Blog Note: Katherine and Lucile are first cousins. Both girls were born in 1910.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Whenever Sur La Table sends me a $10-off coupon, I buy a cookbook. I guess that's in direct conflict with my promise not to buy any new books this year, but this one cost me $2.95. When I go to Egypt next, I'll buy an authenic tagine with a wonderful pattern and hope the color is free of lead. Until then I will make these spicy stews in a stock pot. I'm looking forward to the cooler temperatures. It brings out the best in me.

Click here to find out more about Tagine: Spicy Stews from Morocco.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gathering Blue (2000)

Gathering Blue, a companion to Lois Lowry’s earlier The Giver is another really good book. The author writes a similar story but this one’s not a lesser copy or an imitation of the first. It stands just as strong and reads just as well on its own.

A band of creative children (and a bent-tailed dog) pull together to support and love each other in a greedy, beast-like society. Kira, the main character, has a physical defect and is left an orphan in a village that destroys its weaker members, but the young girl rises above her difficulties and emerges in a position of power, one that will lead her world to a better place.

I recommend Gathering Blue for all ages and look forward to reading the final book of the trilogy, The Messenger. (thanks, Maya!)

To find this book on Amazon: Gathering Blue.

Monday, September 1, 2008

January 19, 1929

Dear Katherine,

I’m having the most fun sitting up in some onelse’s room and playing their “vic.” out of hours! I don’t know what I’ll say to Mrs. Harlan if I get caught.

Your kind sympathy for my soreness is accepted and I’m still enjoying it because I’m still sore. Oh! my poor legs are in the worst condition imaginable. Never mind! After Mon. night I won’t have to play. We play our first game and I’m afraid we will be successfully eleminated.

I’m mad. Did you see that piece in the Tennessean about the “Phis. Ed.” majors. It said we drank, smoked, cussed, wore pants and were mad because we couldn’t take wrestling under a handsome man and he’s ugly as a mud fence. We signed up for wrestling because the man’s notice was on our bulletin board.

We haven’t been able to go swimming yet. The pool closed two weeks before holidays and they haven’t opened it yet. So sorry to hear you’ve been sick in bed. I guess you are up now. Here’s hoping.

One of our cutest majors left last week to teach. I surely miss her. Hope don’t any more leave.

Kiddo, another Manless Dance Friday night! I can’t decide whether to go.

As to Harmonson, suits me, but please, if you value my life don’t spring him on me. I haven’t had a date in so long.

Dear Katherine, I’ve cut my hair short, windblown in fact and everyone likes it fine. Since cutting mine I advise cutting for yours. You must follow my example. Yours truly, Dorothy Dix.

Ask me another!

Also ans. P.D.Q. or I’ll be awfully aggra-fretted.

You asked who had captured the “fair lady’s fancy.” Listen, no body, no one soul, and I have no intentions of them ever doing so. My only crushes have left me too far in the depths and one horribly disappointed human, so I’ve sworn off crushes along with cigs.

I’ve done rash things. Last week I promised to keep training and today I promised to go to bed before eleven and not eat between meals until after Monday. Will power come to my rescue or I’ll break my promise and that would never do.

Guess what I did today. Went to the show by myself. I wanted to see William Haines in “Alias Jimmy Valentine” and I do believe everyone I know had either seen it or had a date to see it tonight. Everyone said it was darling so stubborn me went alone. It really was cute so was Colleen Moore in “Synthetic Sin.” I can do the tackiest things. Four of us went to the show in slickers and without hats and we saw more Peabody people than I ever have seen in town at one time. We got in at eleven, with a whole half-hour to spare imagine us!

I just barely missed being called before Miss Carr again day before yesterday, honey, pray for me that I’ll get good an won’t get sent home for making noise.

Be good, if you can’t be good, be careful, if you can’t be careful, name it “Lucile.”

Love, Lucile

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer's Last Days

It may be the last of August but we still have a few fun-filled days left. Photo by Andi.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Mallory is a fictional comic book character sometimes depicted as a mercenary or anti-hero, who appears in books published by Marvel Comics, usually in the X-Men family of titles. Created by artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza, Mallory first appeared in The New Mutants #98 (February 1991).

Nicknamed the "Merc with a Mouth," Mallory is a high-tech mercenary known for his wisecracks, black comedy, and satirical pop-culture references. Like the X-Men's Wolverine, Mallory is the product of the Canadian government's paramilitary Weapon X program, although his place of birth is unknown. After Weapon X cured his terminal cancer by implementing a regenerative "healing factor" extracted from Wolverine, Mallory is left disfigured and mentally unstable.

Mallory was originally an adversary of The New Mutants and later X-Force, developing an infatuation with X-Force member Siryn. Mallory received two limited series: "Sins of the Past" and "The Circle Chase." He graduated to an ongoing series in 1997, which was known for its slapstick tone and willingness to break the fourth wall.

Mallory shares many similarities with the DC Comics villain Deathstroke, particularly in regards to the character's costumes, professions (mercenary/assassin), and real names. However, since Mallory's introduction, Mallory and Deathstroke have developed in vastly different directions. Mallory will appear in the upcoming 2009 film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" in which he will be played by Ryan Reynolds.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sammy Beckett

Because he's cute and today's his birthday.

When I came back from New Orleans, I thought I would never feel right again. I had been taken outside of my comfort zone like never before. We stayed in the deserted city even though we weren't supposed to on the second floor of the house with a generator. It was like the wild wild west. People were driving around after dark – even though there was a curfew – with guns looking to rob houses. Food was scarce. We couldn't bathe. Everyone's possessions were being pulled out into the street for trash pick up. Dogs ran wild in packs throughout the city and reminders of animal suffering were everywhere.

I did the most I could but I hurt. I came home and everyone sat outside my Adams Morgan Starbucks and walked their dogs and I wanted to tell them, your life is not secure. This could be gone tomorrow. All of it.

And then, 10 days later, while sitting in my office, I heard a sound like a bird's and looked outside my window. It was that day I found Sammy, a small orange and white 2-pound deserted kitten. He was wailing and it took me two hours to catch him, but I finally brought him inside. Over the next three weeks, I nursed him. He had coccidia, worms, fleas, ear mites and needed all kinds of medicine. He's now a happy healthy full grown cat. The vet estimated he was was born on August 29, the day New Orleans flooded.

I am an existentialist intellectually and I think we are all pagans emotionally, but I know God gave me this cat. It is through him I was able to heal.

Support your local animal shelter, the Humane Society or the SPCA. They continue to do good work and animals everywhere need you.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just One Block

These photos were taken within a one block radius. Later that day, Paul and I went in search of an open grocery store and discovered an entire neighborhood of forgotten pets … cats sitting on porch fronts, dogs hysterical and missing all of their hair. Maybe some of them were strays. I still suffer for these animals while I write this post. I gave them all of our canned tuna, wrote down the address, and became obsessed with helping them.
From my cell phone, I called the Friendship Animal Hospital in Washington, DC and Jennifer Trujillo called someone she knew with the Humane Society who went down the very next day to see about the dog. The owner had "been hit hard" but was coming back to take care of his pets. The dog would be okay.
Eventually, I received confirmation that food and water stations had been set up for the cats. I don't know who came through for them, but thank you to everyone who listened to me. I emailed every organization, called anyone I thought might care, and talked to everyone I met while in the city.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gone to Texas

When I got out of the truck to take this photo, I almost stepped on a dead cat. Big, like my cat Oscar, with his mouth wide open and his cat fangs gasping for air, I presume.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Animal Rescue

The woman who drove this van lives in New York. One week after the flood, when we were all watching the misery of the Superdome on TV, she got into her car and drove to New Orleans. She fed animals through windows until the water went down and then she set up feeding stations throughout the city. She said at first the stench was so bad even the birds evacuated. And she told me, the big dogs were eating the small dogs in order to survive. It wasn’t pretty but she was and I admire her proactivity to this day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Carrie of New Orleans

This woman stands proudly by her shoes. She took me upstairs to show me all of the matching dresses. Her husband was pulling down the dry wall inside their house. The black mold was everywhere and they didn’t have insurance.

They also showed me the roof top where his brother sat for three days while the water rose. He didn’t want to leave their dogs. Finally he had no drinking water and he had to get in the canoe that came to rescue him. He left the dogs upstairs with a lot of food. When they came back the small dog was okay. They don’t know what happened to the two big dogs.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Searching for ... Buttons

Three years ago this Friday, Katrina hit, the levee broke and New Orleans flooded. I went down to help with the clean up six weeks later. This photo looks like the 1930s depression era but it’s October 2005 and this woman is looking for her cat Buttons. She and her brother had to leave in a hurry when the city was evacuated and they couldn’t find their cat. As it turns out Buttons climbed up under the house and when the water rose, she couldn’t get down.