No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cosmos is opposite of Chaos

I awoke Saturday morning in blissful solitude, nestled in the Tennessee wilderness with the Wifester's arm draped across my back and the Sunny-Dog's chin draped across my heel. The early morning sun & birdsong were this day's wake up call.
Our original plan was to be in Gatlinburg, but plans change, as they are sometimes want to, especially when the Wifester and I try to be spur-of-the-moment...No problem, we readjusted. And when plans changed again, we took the opportunity and found this beautiful place in The Cedars of Lebanon State Park at the last minute, who were also accommodating of the Sunny Dog. All things work out as they should.

I challenge you to find a more centering, grounding action, than removing yourself from the chaos that can sometimes envelop life around you, for a period of meditation and reflection. With solitude comes a serenity that allows for introspection and peaceful, honest personal inventory that I believe is essential for a healthy, well balanced life. Through this process, we become more comfortable with ourselves and the world around us. We become more comfortable in our own skins and where we exist in this world. The Wifester and I have really learned to embrace that and utilize it in our lives, both individually and together.
I like that about us. I wish it for more people.

I like the cosmos, the peace and serenity that naturally coincides with the processes of soul searching and honest self assessment. The road leading here from chaos may be long and uphill, but I will always testify that it is ever so worthy of the journey.

I spent the weekend hiking trails and painting with a new set of watercolors. Toasting marshmallows and snapping photos of giant insects in the act of making little giant insects. I won and lost some Scrabble. I won and lost some Rummy.
And I gained a stronger, more solid and beautiful connection to my soul mate.

The only question I have now is, when do we do it again??

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"It's Different for a Man to Show Himself Than for a Woman"

Let me back up a bit.
We're getting a new adult entertainment club. I know, I know, just what our city needs: One more place with poles, mirrors, and greased up, mostly naked bodies shaking it for your dollars.
But wait. This one features men.
That's right. Now, women or men will finally have a regular place to go watch men degrade themselves for quick cash. The owner says that they do not want it to be a Chippendale's type place. Don't call it a Burlesque. They want an open, anyone who wants to watch men dance naked is welcome type of atmosphere.
And you know what? Big surprise, there's opposition to this establishment. Metro Councilman Michael Craddock said
"I'm sick to my stomach - I'm just absolutely sick. It's different for a man to show himself than a woman. It's another step in the wrong direction."

Oh, really, Mr. Craddock? So, it's OK for women to degrade themselves for your entertainment, but for a man to do it...well, that's just sickening huh?

I'm not planning on visiting this wonderfully delightful place. I mean, I just don't see that there's anything really there that would interest me, but I think it's about time that the tables shift a bit in the direction of balance. If it's good enough for the goose, surely it's good for the gander too.

What do goat cheese and strawberry vinegarette have in common?

The Wifester and I had company for dinner last night. Wifester asked for chicken enchiladas to make their way onto the menu, and they did, but I also wanted to have a meat free alternative. I looked through my fridge and spotted an eggplant, some spinach, and two zucchini. Perfect. I peeled and diced the eggplant and zucchini. then I marinated it exactly as I marinate the chicken before cooking it. After a couple of hours in the fridge with cilantro, garlic, cumin, and other seasonings seeping into the veggies, I cooked them in some olive oil over medium heat with some diced onion, diced tomato, and chili powder. Once the spinach was tender, I removed the veggie mixture from heat, let it cool, and added goat cheese, mixing the veggies and goat cheese, then added some salsa. Not too much, I wanted to keep this somewhat thick.
I used this mixture to stuff my veggie enchiladas, and topped them with enchilada sauce and cheese as normal. These were the best veggie enchiladas EVER, if I do say so myself!

For dessert, the Wifester was very concerned when she saw what I was doing. I sliced some fresh strawberries and marinated them in 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar mixed with sugar and water. These sat in the fridge from noon until we were ready for dessert, then spooned over shortbread and topped with whipped cream. Strawberry vinegarette is Wifester's new delight!

So what do strawberry vinegarette and goat cheese have in common? Wifester was unsure of and pleasntly surprised with both.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And it's Finally Down

Three blogs, a ton of phone calls, a barrage of emails and a few conversations with the lawyer later, and the Wifester's photo has finally been removed from One Million Moron's website!
A few days late, but hey, it's done.


Now, that does not mean that they are not still telling a bold faced lie on that site, actually a ton of bold faced lies, but what does anyone expect from such characters? But at least Wifester's art is no longer being illegally used without her permission to promote bigotry and intolerance.

Promises, Smromises AFA and OMM have Moral Authority to Lie

Mr. Pat Vaughn, from the American Family Association, which is the parent company of One Million Moms, the people who stole Wifester's Pride photo and then used it in their hate campaign against Home Depot and against Gay Pride events nationwide, spoke to Wifester on the phone on Friday evening, promising to remove her photo from their website immediately. He said if it was not down by Friday evening, it would be down first thing Monday.
I don't know about you, Mr. Vaughn, but my calendar says that today is Tuesday, and I still see my Wifester's photo on your wretched, hate spewing site.

I think it is funny that this person with the AFA would lie and deceive, when their web site says that their Purpose is
"... to motivate and equip citizens to reform our culture to reflect Biblical truth on which it was founded. We believe that God has communicated absolute truth to man through nature and the Bible, and that all men everywhere and at all times are subject to His authority. Therefore, a culture based on Biblical truth best serves the well-being of our country as evidenced by the vision of our forefathers as set forth in the Declaration of Independence."

Isn't part of Biblical truth being good to your word, not telling lies, and not stealing?
hmmmm looks to me like someone needs to take a closer look at themselves before they start condemming others.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Update on OMM and their Hate Campaign

You remember me telling you about OMM stealing Wifester's photography, right? When that happened, we were livid. We immediately emailed them and their parent company, American Family Association, to notify them that they were illegally using copyrighted material without permission, and that as the owner of the material, Wifester was demanding that they cease and desist immediately. There was no response, and no reaction. So we took it a step further. We contacted the lawyers ( who advised that copyright laws have indeed been violated, and urged us to proceed with further action), we made it public knowledge what they were doing, I blogged about it, I twittered it, we wrote it on Facebook. Family (Wifester's side of the family), friends - real life and cyber friends joined in the fight and began the counter attack by emailing OMM and AFA telling them how wrong they have been and pointing out the irony that in their quest to use Christianity and the moral standing of what they feel the the bible says is right, they have broken the 8th Commandment: Thou Shall Not Steal.
I went further and also informed them of how they were also breaking the 9th Commandment in their campaign to boycott Home Depot by bearing false witness in saying that Home Depot sought children at Pride in an attempt to lure them to events where children would be subject to "homosexual activity", making it sound as though there is some kind of gay orgy happening right there on the streets of downtown Nashville!

Pride day is a family day. It's a day for families of all kinds to come together and celebrate the diversity of the human race and to embrace the fact that it takes this very diversity to make our planet spin. It's a day to bring our children out and let them see we are everyday people. It's a day to show people like OMM and AFA that being gay doesn't mean that we are a bunch of sexual deviants who only know how to party. It's about just being a community and celebrating that community. Children are always going to be there. They are a part of our families, a part of us, and therefore a part of Pride. I am glad that so many companies set up special activities for the kids. They rather enjoy the games and crafts. What kid doesn't. Our children will be at Pride whether or not companies bring kid's crafts.

After this barrage of emails and phone calls all week long. We finally received a call from a Mr. Pat Vaughn, with AFA last night. He was a rather unpleasant man, who assumed absolutely no responsibility for the theft of Wifester's photography, and claimed to have no idea who was responsible for finding it. He says that they are very careful to only use images from public domains however, in this case he was sorely mistaken. When informed of this, he abruptly said simply, "It will be down tonight or by Monday.", and with that, Mr. Vaughn disconnected the call. As of this morning, Wifester's photography is still visible on their website.
I wonder if OMM and AFA have special exemptions from God that allow them to break certain Commandments sans penalty?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some Doors Are Slow to Open

I searched through the obituaries as I'd done so many times over the last several years. Hunting, scouring for any trace of my family name. For nearly six years, the Tennessean had become my sole link, my only way of knowing if my parents were still alive. Sure, there's the telephone, and yeah, I had their number. But after getting your hand burned by the candle, don't you steer clear of flame? Every week, I'd look through, double check, sigh my sigh of relief and go back to licking my wounds and wishing things could have been different. It was almost routine by now, but that dread still lingered each time I flipped open the paper to that morbid section full of lives summarized in paragraphs that read more like a casting call of who remains in the play that was...
This time was different. half way down the page, in big bold letters, there it sat. My surname. I blinked a few times and adjusted my sight. I may have even flipped the page and came back to make sure, but it was still there, plain as day, a name like that you just can't mistake. It was my uncle, and although I knew age and health were not in his favor six years ago, I was terribly saddened to see it. It occurred to me, finally that my aunt and uncle had nothing to do with the problems that existed between my parents and myself. In fact, they were the very last people I had seen in my family before leaving Nashville six years ago, which may as well have been two lifetimes ago by now.
For all the chaos and insanity that had encompassed my world then, I had tranquility and peace now. I knew what I needed to do.

Her voice was old. Feeble and shaky. Not at all the voice I remembered her having.
A lot changes in six years. She recognized my voice right away though, and we talked and talked. She told me all about my uncle's last few years. How she'd cared for him, how his health had deteriorated. I thought to myself how caring for his deteriorating health had worked a number on her's...
I promised to keep in touch with her and she with me, then I hung up the phone and I cried.

My twist on Pasta Abruzzese:

1 lb Sweet Turkey Sausage ( or use the real deal if you like )
1 fresh fennel bulb trimmed and skinned bulb finely chopped
1 small sweet onion chopped as you desire
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium/fat free)
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
fresh, chopped parsley - use a bunch!
1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
oregano to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbl sp. sugar
Parmesan Cheese

heat evoo in a deep, heavy skillet on medium heat. Add the turkey sausage and crumble it ( I use the potato masher) while browning. Remove the sausage when it is completely cooked, let it drain, place pan back on the heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and oregano. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion becomes translucent. Add tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Return the meat to the pan, add parsley and sugar. Let simmer. Serve with cooked pasta, top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Veggie Burgers a la Fortune Cookie

Extra Firm Tofu
Whole wheat flour
Ground cumin
Crushed Red Pepper
Soy Sauce

drain excess water from tofu, leaving it very moist. combine all ingredients in a large bowl, adding flour and mashing until you have a nice, firm doughy ball. Use spices ad-lib. Season to taste. Cover and set in fridge for at least 1 hour. When ready to cook, form patties from the ball just as you would to make burgers. you can run your hands under water first to prevent the tofu from sticking to your hands and make it easier to work with. brush the patties with soy sauce and sprinkle some seasonings of your choice on the tops.

Grill or cook in skillet as you would hamburger. Be sure to use no-stick spray or olive oil. Cook until firm to the touch.

Even the carnivorous, picky, persnickety Wifester proclaimed "MMMMM! Good burgers, honey!"

Monday, August 17, 2009

An open letter to One Million Moms

Dear One Million Moms,
One Fortune Cookie here. I am writing today to express my sincere and absolute disgust in your hate filled campaign against people you don't even know, as well as your dishonest and fraudulent actions of stealing other people's art and presenting it as your own, in order to propagandize and spread your insidious intolerance.
I would expect that before you embarked upon such a quest, you would cover yourself of any liable actions. However, recently it has come to my attention that you have stolen my Wifester's beautiful photography from her photography web site and used it in your anti-gay campaign against a major retailer, calling upon members of your fundamentalist group to boycott them. Shame on you! Wifester never received a request to use her photography on your site. She never had any contact from you at all.
In the past, when other web sites have found her photography appropriate for their content, they have utilized the "contact" link on her site to send her an email requesting permission. Such permission has been granted, and her photography is now seen on travel sites and others. But you, with your high moral standards and authority, seem to have the idea that you are exempt from needing permission to use other people's art. Well, let me tell you something, One Million Moms, this is called copyright infringement, and it's wrong.
I ask you to remove my Wifester's photography from your anti Home Depot campaign immediately.
And while we are on that subject...why are you only anti Home Depot? I mean, geez, everyone had a booth at Pride. I guess you better boycott all of them too. That includes other retailers, banks, restaurants, and churches as well, some of which were:
102.5 The Party (radio)
102.9 The Buzz (radio)
ACLU of Tennessee
Agape Animal Rescue
Alive Hospice
Americans United
Arlington Properties/1700 Midtown
Bangkok City
Bank of America
Beyond the Edge
Camp Bow Wow
CASA of Nashville
Church of the Living Water, The
Comprehensive Care Center
Covenant of the Cross Church
Dawn Ashley Independent Consultant - Arbonne
Dell computers
Dixon Center of Chiropractic
Domestic Violence Program of Rutherford County
Edgehill United Methodist
Fifth Third Bank
Green Party of Tennessee
Greyhound Pets of America - Nashville
Holy Trinity Community Church
Home Depot
I Plegde Eco
Instinctive Touch
It's A Wrap
J&L Mobile
Jackie Light, Weichert Realtors - The Andrews Group
JD's Cap's & Tee's
Jen Bluekissed
Jive - A Digital Print Company
Jonda Kisses
Just Imagine
KDB Concessions
Law Office of Bart Durham
Law Office of Donald D. Zuccarello
Light Connection
Lighting 100
Love Thy Pet
Lovie's Legacy
Metro Public Health Dept.
Middle Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church
More Light Presbyterians
Music City Rollers
My Second Home Pet Resort
Nashville Grizzlies Rugby Team
Nashville Humane Association
Nashville in Harmony
Nashville Peace & Justice Center
Nashville Pharmacy
Nashville Scene
Nashville Symphony
Nashville Women's Rugby
Nick’s Gay Art World
Out and About
OutCentral Cultural Center
Outloud! Bookstore
Outright Libertarians
Paradise Travel and Market
Party Henna
Peck-er Pleasers Bird Supply
Planned Parenthood
Ready to Go
Red Panda Chainmaille
Robert Rhea Photography
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Smoky Mountain Rodeo Association
State Farm
Stirrup Nashville
SunTrust Bank
Tennessee Equality Project & TEP Foundation
Tennessee Glass Stains
Tennessee Repertory Theatre
The Brooks Fund
The New York Times
Therapeutic Interventions, Inc
Two Friends
Unity Church for Positive Living
Village Property Management
Vitamin Water
Wildhorse Saloon
Wow, that kinda sucks for you. It's going to be hard to find a bank in Nashville, or adopt a pet, or take your kids to the theater, huh?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's that? Russian or something?

It's so hard to get back in the swing of things. I feel like I've been playing catch up all year with school, work, this blog, my housework, you name it. Nothing helps one to get even further behind than to go on vacation for a week, but that's just what the Wifester and I did last week. Just in time too. We were just about to go stir-crazy if we didn't get a vacation in soon. We saved up our vacation for the arrival of our new nephew, Henry, so that we could go welcome him into this world properly, and welcome him we did.
As do most babies, Mr. Henry found my lady lumps to be quite the comfy spot and decided that whenever I held him in my arms, my soft, pillowy breasts were the perfect place to nap. I did, however contract a pretty severe case of babyitis from this holiday. Yeah, it's terminal.
After the third day visiting with Mr. Henry, though, the Wifester was reevaluating her position on becoming a parent.
"What if our kid wants to cry and keep us up all night like that?" she pleaded.
"babies cry, it's what they do" were the only words I could find to offer her in consolation.

Our vacation was W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L! Not only did we get to meet our new nephew, but we got to visit with all the family that we haven't seen since last Christmas, go to the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Zoo, and see the Cleveland Orchestra perform at Blossom, an outdoor ampitheater, while sipping wine and enjoying a picnic basket under blue skies.
I got to tour Amish country, and saw more horse and carriages than I've ever seen in one place, as well as debate with the Wifester over weather or not umbrellas are considered to be"modern technology". (considering that many of the Amish were carrying umbrellas, I say no, umbrellas are not "modern technology" but the Wifester says those Amish were cheating, and that umbrellas are in fact a modern technological advancement that should be prohibited by the Amish... I think she just wants to see how they look with wet bonnets!)

I did notice something peculiar while touristing around Cleveland, though. First, their art museum is phenomenal. It's enormous, with piece after peice that I've only ever seen in art history books and bibles. There were pieces from every corner of the world, of every genra, from every era. And it was FREE! Free to get in! Ok, we paid $3.00 for parking, but that covered four adults and a kid! Sure, you could pay a nominal fee and see other exhibits, too, but we spent several hours and never finished seeing everything that was FREE! Compare and contrast that experience with Nashville's Frist Center for Visual Arts, which costs $8.50 to get in, plus typically $5.00 to park as well. After you shell out your $14 to Frist, (and yes, it is that Frist, Bill Frist, the Republican senator from Tennessee) you enter the Frist center to find very limited exhibitions, in a very limited space, with obscure pieces that you will most likely need to conduct research to find information about. You will search high and low and possibly find two pieces that you remember from art history class.

The next stark contrast that I noticed was with the zoo up there. Cleveland's zoo ROCKS! It was enormous! We roamed that zoo for four hours, trapsing around monkey island, the polar bear habitat, wolves, kangaroos, girraffe's, giant turtles, sea lions, you name it, they had it.
We even had to take a train ride to get from one side to the other. We could have made 6 laps around Nashville's Zoo at Grassmere and stopped for lunch in the time it took us to make one round of Cleveland's zoo. And guess what? Yep, it was cheaper too. Grassmere = 12.00 Cleveland Zoo = 10.00

It got me to thinking, how does that work? I mean, surely an art museum with Van Gogh and Picasso and Warhol costs more to insure and maintain than one with unheard of artists. Surely the overhead costs, lights, maintenance, and security cost more for that huge complex that is the Cleveland museum than the little ole building that houses the Frist collection, right?
And the zoos... I know Cleveland is paying a LOT more for upkeep on that zoo than our little park at grassmere. Just the cost of feeding the animals alone has to be at least 5 times what Nashville pays. How is it that they can provide such a better complex, with more animals and bigger, better habitats at a lower cost?
Maybe more people in Cleveland go to the zoo and the art museum than do people in Nashville. If so, why is that? I don't know, maybe it's because it's just not enough bang for the buck here in the music city.

Who knows, who cares. I can't wait till vacation time comes around again. And I can't wait to see Mr. Henry at Christmas! He'll be 5 months old then and much more alert and active. Christmas is gonna be a lot of fun from here on out, now that there's a little one in the family!

I also can't wait for these awful calculus and statistics classes to be over with!
Last night the Wifester noticed my notebook on the coffee table with some math problems that I've been working on for homework. She picked it up, brows furrowed, studied the page a few minutes, tossed the notebook back down with resignation and said to me "So, whatcha got there? Russian or something? Cause I recognize some of those characters, but others, not so much, and I have no idea how to pronounce them or what they are even for"

Yeah, Wifester, you and me both.