January 19, 2009

The Audacity of....

Back in December of 2000 I was one of a couple hundred people who, after reading with dismay that then President-elect George W. Bush had done away with the inaugural poem, entered a contest on Slate.com to write one for him. Alas, I did not win, but was cited for special mention in the subsequent article announcing the winner– truly a proud moment. If you’re interested in a little stroll down memory lane to the days of the Bush campaign, the article is here, and my poem is here.

I’m not really feeling poetic about Obama– that might have been a one-shot deal prompted by the peculiarly fascinating words and wisdom of “W”. This year, as we approach the inauguration I simply offer the following:

· The audacity of… Norm Coleman to continue chasing his failed dream to be re-elected as US Senator from Minnesota. Realizing that it’s tough to lose a contest to a professional comedian, there comes a point at which all politicians have to let go of their egos and think about the greater good. In this case, someone needs to be representing the Land of 10,000 Lakes. To date, all signs point to Al Franken. So be it, and let’s move on.
· The audacity of… any politician to question whether Hillary can be fair and balanced in representing the interests of the United States simply because of who contributes to her husband’s foundation. I may be naive, but pretty much every senator is beholden to some special interest or favored constituency - or other member(s) of the Senate - because of contributions, back room deals and handshakes and the innumerable quid pro quos that are the currency of politics in our country. Question her foreign policy experience, her bullet-dodging visits to other countries if you like – and you should – but leave WJC out of it. Get over him, already!
· The audacity of… our Congress to blithely hand over hundreds of billions to their friends in the financial industry apparently without any rules on how the money was to be spent, without oversight, accountability, or concessions. At the same time as our elected officials were demanding wage reductions, car-pooling and commercial flights from auto industry officials, six- and seven-figure bonuses were being handed out in the banking and insurance business. Exorbitant bonuses, zero accountability, and zero oversight for the fat cat financial experts – who, by the way were the ones we would have relied on in the old days to prevent exactly the kind of meltdown we’re in now. Get them back in and put some kind of framework in place, with real consequences for lack of action.
· And finally, the audacity of… the New York Mets and especially the hated New York Yankees, for continuing to belly up to the bar for money and deals for their new stadiums, and for any elected official in any jurisdiction in New York who approved the funds. I typically struggle with tax breaks and government handouts, but in terms of baseball, I prefer the Kevin Costner approach – “if you build it, they will come”. Certainly in New York, with our multi-billion dollar deficit, there must be something else we can do with the $2.1 billion that’s been handed over to these two profitable corporations to build their new ballparks. According to published reports, the Mets have asked for (and gotten) just shy of $700M for their $800M Queens stadium, and the Pinstripe Pansies are at $1.3B for their (you guessed it) $1.3B Bronx playground.

Here’s hoping that Change We Can Believe In truly starts now – at all levels.


January 11, 2009


Yesterday, My Sweet Baboo and I spent about nine hours turning our house back into pre-Christmas mode. Admittedly he did the bulk of the heavy lifting - literally and figuratively - putting in a solid six hours of undecorating, as well as carrying 10 or 11 festive storage tubs of varying sizes up from the farthest reaches of the basement, and then of course taking them back down. Not that I didn't help -- my three hours included a lot of undecorating too, along with a lot of sentimental musing at the thought of taking everything down. I'm not sure what it is about putting Christmas decorations away that strikes such a chord in me.

When I was a child, all of the focus was on the beginning of the holiday season, centered around the family going to the neighborhood tree farm, Dad with saw in hand, cutting down the perfect tree, and putting up our special hand-made ornaments. How many times I've looked at the patchy glittered cardboard egg-carton bells, or the snowman made out of 'plaster' that I think was mostly salt (who was painted so poorly that he looks like a survivor of a horrible accident), and others that my brothers and I made with love and which my Mom and Dad always displayed proudly on the front of the tree.

The special ornaments that have survived from our childhood are still hung carefully on my Mom's tree (Dad's been gone just shy of two years now), and I enjoy seeing them, even as I cringe as my lack of artistic ability.

At our own house, MSB and I have fairly seamlessly combined our separate (and large) collections of decorations. We put them up over the course of several days - seems like it takes about two weeks of effort, after work and on the weekend, before we have everything up and where we want it. And we don't skimp - decorations go up in the kitchen, back hall, dining room, plantatarium, living room, and foyer, as well as candles in the windows, an outdoor tree, and some red and green spotlights outside around the front porch. When everything's done - the banister wrapped with garland, the two trees with their sparkling white lights, a nice fire in the fireplace, scented votives flickering gently in mercury glass holders, stockings for the cats hung from the mantle, the tall nutcrackers standing at attention on either side of the hearth - it's really warm and homey and 'feels like Christmas'.

And then it's time to take it all down. The decorations that made it out of the tubs, and the new ones are assessed and placed in groups along with the old timers. "Centerpieces and candles", "garland and bows", "cast iron and misc.", "Santas and smalls", "big glass", "plush" - each tub labeled and at the ready. As I put things away, I find myself pulling out the decorations that never left the tubs, the ones that didn't make the cut. Could I have put this ornament on the tree? Could I have put this stocking somewhere? Could the candy cane candles have gone on the sideboard? I spend almost as much time thinking about the ones that didn't get used, and how I had used them last, as I do remembering how much we enjoyed the ones that did.

Maybe it's because Christmas now starts around Columbus Day - cards and decorations and sales in all the stores, neighborhoods lit up well before Thanksgiving, and 24-by-7 Christmas music on the radio practically before anyone has a chance to finish their Halloween candy.

When I was young, the buildup was for the start of the Christmas season, and believe me, it was always December before we got started. For me now, I think I steal a little extra enjoyment out of it at the end, when it comes time to put everything away. I can be sentimental, get a little warm and fuzzy as our special decorations are carefully wrapped and placed in their tubs for another year, and carted off to the basement.

I know I'll find something that we missed, probably next week sometime, and I'm sure it will bring a smile when I do.


January 5, 2009

Why a Kennedy may be just what Syracuse needs

For the umpteenth time in the past few weeks, I saw my mayor on the NBC (Not Bad, Considering....) nightly news. In case you missed him, he's the guy on Caroline Kennedy's right in that shot of her walking into an undisclosed location after leaving her SUV. The undisclosed location is Syracuse's City Hall, something they don't typically mention on the news.

It's kind of cool to see the mayor on TV -- it'll help us recognize him if we happen to run into him at the grocery store, or at a chain restaurant outside the confines of Syracuse proper, as MSB and I did last summer. It's also kind of cool to see him with someone famous who might actually be able to do us some good. And that person may just be Caroline Kennedy.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not generally a fan of political dynasties -- and I'm not one who will chase a celebrity around looking for a chance to rub elbows, get an autograph or snap a picture. As I said, MSB and I saw the mayor and his family eating good in the neighborhood, and we just left them alone.

But. Here we have a Kennedy, who's never run for public office, trying to convince an unelected governor that she's the right person to replace a woman from Illinois (by way of Arkansas and the White House), who had never run for political office, but became our Senator after traversing the state listening to people talk about their issues -- and right next to her is our mayor!

So how can this help us? I'm thinking that, if the job of a new senator is to not aggravate anyone really important, and keep their name and face in the news all the time, we could be a whole lot worse off than Caroline Kennedy. She's already got the face in the news part nailed. And c'mon, if she does get selected, there's a point at which someone's going to have to ask "just who is that guy to Caroline's right in that shot?" Some producer will figure out that it's the mayor of Syracuse, and then they'll want to come here, learn about him, and the city, and us.... and then maybe some good will happen.

The alternative? Some guy named Cuomo, who's the son of some guy named Cuomo, who once was a famous Democrat from New York. The problem is, I haven't seen a Cuomo on TV umpteen times in the past few weeks. And I'm not sure he'd recognize our mayor if he saw him eating good in the neighborhood.

January 4, 2009

My Sweet Baboo

As I build this blog, I'll introduce you to some of the main characters in my life, as they'll be woven into the posts on a fairly regular basis, and frankly will probably be the subject of a post or two as I go along, I'm sure.

For starters, there's My Sweet Baboo -- or MSB, for short. We've been together since the fall of 2002, and both his family and mine say it seems a lot longer. When they express that sentiment, it's because he and I get along so well, and our families get along so well, it seems like we've been together forever. When MSB says it, there's more than a hint of sarcasm, as in "dear Lord, it's only been six and a half years? It feels like we've been together FOREVER!".

I don't want to bore you with a sad tale of woe, the 'girl done wrong by the bad old boyfriend' sob story, but when MSB and I got together, I had just gotten out of a long and less-than-satisfying relationship, and was not looking to get involved with anyone new. He had been divorced and was also not looking for anyone or anything in particular. Actually, we both were appeasing his sister the day we met, and but that's a story for another post.

It's hard for me to describe what a difference he's made in my life, and there will be time for lots of stories about him as we go along. Simply put, to paraphrase Gandhi, he's 'been the change I needed to see' to make my world a better place.

So, as we go along, when you see references to My Sweet Baboo, or MSB - understand that I'm talking about a crazy, rock and roll gardener/mad photographer/cat loving Boston Red Sox fan, among other things. A person like me - but with a slightly twisted view on things.



This is my first foray into the world of blogging, and as I take my baby steps in the cyberworld, I'm hoping that if nothing else, from time to time I'll give you something to think about. I don't anticpate that everyone who reads this will like me or my posts -- frankly, I've always thought that if the world was filled with people just like me, it'd be pretty darn boring around here.

If you're a family member or close friend, you're probably already used to me spouting off on the news of the day, talking about the cats, sharing garden updates, or raving over some of my new recipes. If you're visiting, these are my primary interest -- but there's really no limit to what strikes my fancy or will cause me to start typing.

Thanks for stopping - and Happy New Year!

- Sue