Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Washington DC under occupation, IVAW guerrilla street theatre commemorates 4th anniversary Iraq war

In a staged all day guerrilla street theatre production, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, gave an example of what it might be like if Washington DC was 'occupied' by military troops. IVAW - whose members are returning Iraq veterans who have served in combat tours in Iraq - commemorated the 4th anniversary of Iraq war with this staged production in Washington DC, March 19, 2007.

When I saw some of the photos, I was both startled and impressed with the way IVAW chose to share their message. I think you will also be startled, and I hope impressed, by the photos depicting the actions of IVAW. I do wish I had been in DC to see it as I know it would have kept my interest the entire day. I hope IVAW will stage this kind of theatre again, maybe in various local communities. I talked to one of my colleagues in Texas and she thought she might invited them to stage the theatre in her city in Texas.

See additional photos including the mock taking of detainees at IVAW website.
And see More photos - excellent photography with chilling effects.

Also read the 'Far From Iraq; A Demonstration of a War Zone', the Washington Post article and account of the IVAW actions that day in DC. Interesting way WAPO put it together - and gives more detail to some of the photos, and some of the citizen public reactions to what was happening! There is also a short online video posted at WAPO website, along with the article.

photos courtesy of my friend,
Bill Perry, Delaware Valley Veterans For America Disabled American Veteran, VVAW, VFP, VFW, VVA

He was there and has these comments (along with the photos) on the experience:

Truth is the FIRST CASUALTY of WAR

It was a remarkable privilege to witness IVAW running a mission that included interrogations of civilians, taking hostages, and displaying the hostility that an Occupation Force must possess.

IVAW certainly learned from us VVAW Vets of R.A.W. ( Rapid American Withdrawal ) and our Labor Day weekend, 1970 March, from Mooristown, NJ, to Valley Forge, PA.

Our VVAW March had incredibly long stretches thru the countryside, where nobody but pheasants and farm animals saw us, over 3 days.

IVAW's run, from Union Station, Congress, the Nat'l Mall, Wash Monument, etc., only took 8 hours, and garnered worldwide attention.

The varied reactions of passersby ran the gamut: Fear, consternation, shock, appreciation, and many expressed great PRIDE in IVAW's Guerilla Theater.

My favorite moment was when I informed 3 or 400 high school kids, { in the RED Tee-shirts } what the IVAW mission was, and they broke out in wild applause & appreciation.

Securing the Area

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Americans support the troops with food, soap, DVDs

Americans support the troops with food, soap, DVDs

[Excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor. The read the entire article, click here]

Four years into the war in Iraq, private support for US soldiers looks as strong as ever.

By Tom A. Peter | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

Page 1 of 4

What do US soldiers need in Iraq? Probably not hand-knitted caps and booties.

"We're running into a lot of knitted items" in care packages, says Marine 1st Lieutenant Barry Edwards, public affairs officer for Regimental Combat Team Six in Fallujah.

"Great job on the knitting, but we're starting to break 85 degrees [F.] ... and in about another month it's going to be over 100."

Four years into America's war in Iraq, public approval of the effort has fallen sharply, but private support for the troops looks as strong as ever. Since no official statistics exist, the evidence is necessarily anecdotal. Soldiers in war zones receive a steady influx of care packages and letters. Domestically, organizations that offer aid to soldiers and their families have enjoyed consistent support, and some have even grown.

After only three months in Iraq, Lieutenant Edwards has received over 200 care packages addressed to him. They came from friends, family, and complete strangers, he said in a phone interview, adding that he distributes most of them throughout the regiment.

"We definitely receive more now than in previous deployments. America's support for her troops has not waned," he says.

Other troops report similar experiences.

"I have received so much stuff, I would be hard-pressed to say 'thanks' enough," writes Commander Paul Eich, a naval aviator working as an intelligence officer in Baghdad, in an e-mail.

Commander Eich, speaking as a citizen, not a representative of the US military or government, says he once received two boxes with enough hand sanitizer to last him over six months.

Army Pvt. Ryan Zarzecki, from the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment in southern Baghdad, said he's often surprised to get mail from a stranger.

"Anything you get in the mail that's not a bill is a nice thing," he says with a smile.

The read the entire article, click here
The Monitor article is excellent.
Long distance attending to detail by citizens must be augmented by those we elected and expect to attend to the important details once our loved one's arrive home.
Bring the troops home now!
Take Care of Them When They Get Here!
Lukovich's cartoon below talks about those who say but don't do.

Mike Lukovich
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Still Cooking Thai - the Asian grocery store where I live.

I know, I know - I've neglected my blog(s). Quick update to my little adventure of learning to cook Thai (vegan Thai) and yes we are still eating pretty much strictly Thai. I won't add the latest recipes to this post, but I will be adding them to the blog shortly. It's been a month now - my - a month has passed since I began converting us to vegetarian. I've been cooking vegan Thai recipes for a month now. Thai cooking is not meat free, and I have been using the vegan Thai recipes at Vegweb. No sense adjusting to Thai food with meat only to remove the meat later, so this is what we now know to be Thai cooking - the vegan way. (No, it wasn't my plan to go vegan religiously; vegetarian yes, but not vegan, so this is more the convenience that Vegweb offers in providing recipes from people who are vegans!)

Update 1) I made Spring Rolls, which are NOT egg rolls, although I wound up also making egg rolls because initially I had purchased the wrong kind of wraps. So egg rolls are egg rolls and the wraps include a combination of flour and eggs and the recipes for the fillings vary, but essentially you wind up cooking the little dumplings in hot oil. I wondered as I was dipping them into the basket of cooking oil how this isn't much different than french fries or fried chicken parts.
And yes they were good, tasty and I enjoyed the egg rolls, but I digress.

Spring rolls are not cooked. The wraps are actually tapioca based and flat like a tortilla. To make the spring rolls, the basic recipe is a use of a mix of vegetables (carrots, onions, bean threads, cooked tofu, mint or cilantro) wrapped in a lettuce leaf or two, then the whole thing is wrapped in the tapioca based shell. The shell is set into water for a few minutes to soften, then removed and kept softened between two clean, wet dish towels. Whle still soft, the vegetable combination of ingredients are wrapped into the shell in a kind of burrito fashion.

It's quite 'artsy' when finished, the green lettuce shows through the transparent shell. The taste is fresh and the mint or cilantro add to that sense of 'freshness'. The Spring Rolls can then be dipped into a peanut sauce and it's a quite lovely eating experience. When I sent these along with Sweetie for his lunch, he came home and reported there was a lot of ooohh la la- ing from his work buddies and I think Sweetie was kind of impressed that his wife had sent along a 'specialty' for his lunch.

Update 2) The Asian grocery store where I shop. Obviously I have made many more vegan Thai dishes since I last blogged, and the Spring Rolls get special mention because they were a labor of love and 'art'. So I have been back to the Asian grocery store for the second time now to replace some ingredients and get some new ingredients. It is still a bit of a time consuming experience as I continue to learn the various ingredients. I spend a lot of time reading what lables I can that are in English, and asking about labels that are in Asian languages with no English anywhere. It is a pleasant experience.

The Asian grocery store called Ping's Market also has a 'restaraunt' area and a limited menu of items that the store owner cooks and serves. I had the Pad Thai noodles and Spring Rolls in my first shopping trip which inspired me to actually make Spring Rolls at home. In my second shopping trip, my granddaughter (15 yr old Emo kid - by her own description of herself) was with me. I shared the 'lunch' experience with her and she was Not impressed - more like 'ugh', but it's okay, because someday when she is 35 or 48 she will remember this lunch experience with her grandmother.

The store owners are quite elderly and a younger woman, one of their daughters, was there the first time I went and again this second time. I asked her if they had the dvd that was playing on the tv the last time I was there - it was a series of Thai dancers and singers. I wanted my granddaughter to see the dancing. She went to see about the dvd, and came back with one (I don't think it was the one I wanted to see, but that is okay) which she put in. I began asking some questions and that generated conversation with her. She shared with me that her parents were, in fact, refugees, having left Laos at the time of Vietnam war, to Thailand, where they remained in refugee camp for 5 yrs. Then they crossed over as one of the many 'boat people' to America on a sponsorship by the many churches that were sponsoring Asians at that time.

She relayed to me a tad bit of a story her mother tells her. Since she was already born, and her parents were escpaping with her when she was but a baby, her mother explained how desperate survival was for everyone. Mother explained that had baby made sounds or noise, the others accompanying them would have felt compelled to drown both mother and baby. I felt empathy for how terrifying that must have been for the mother. I am not a stranger to these kinds of stories, as in our little remote community several families that are refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have settled here. The region where we live has a sparse population of people and only a few communities among a county full of trees, wetlands, mudflats, rivers, sloughs which all feed into or out of the Willapa Bay, which meets up with the Pacific Ocean. A bit of a quiet life for war-torn refugees. I spent 16 years as a case manager with our State social services programs, so I have had my share of interviewing and helping refugee families over the years, including here where we now live.

What was intriguing to me about the story as the daughter told it is that the daughter relates more to her life in America than her life as an infant and child in the refugee camps. As Daughter shares the story with me, it seems to come across in a tone that implies the story seems a bit unreal to the Daughter. I am reminded again that now that I am into those mid-elderly years of 55, how important passing along the heritage stories are to not only my childrens' generation but their childrens' generation. I don't know what my 15 yr old granddaughter will remember about the lunch, but I hope when she is herself an adult and past the 'teen' dramas, she will remember the Daughter's story.

How fortunate I am that Ping's Market exists in the small town communities that have so little in the way of choices to offer. It wouldn't exist here in this remote location except that some of the refugee Asian families chose to move here and remain here. I live in a fishing village, population of a mere few hundred. Nearby towns have population of a few thousand, but nothing of the size that warrants the 'shopping mall', 'strip mall', 'box stores' type businesses. Nor would I like to see these communities catch up with 'progress' enough to desire or want to attract such businesses.
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No Impact Man blog - urban New York family experiment - one year of no impact

Well good for him and his wife and their small child. He decided to put into action and action plan to reduce his family impact on the environment - in the urban setting of New York city. Instead of mouthing all the assortment of platitudes, he decided to make a committment, reduce their environmental footpring and is blogging about it.

While I self congratulate on the efforts we have made in our family towards reductionism, No Impact Man takes it further. I'll be following along with his blog and maybe commenting from time to time. It's not easy to make so dramatic a change so suddenly, so it sounds like his blogging will serve as a kind of 'how to tutorial'.

We moved away from urban setting/city to try to find more meaning in our daily lives by going backwards in time. And we did so before it was 'popular' to be environmentally conscious about the effects of global warming. We were doing fairly well with what was then termed 'intentional,meaningful, simple living'.

Then Sept 2001, then President Bush decided to invade and occupy Iraq. Two members of our family found themselves in Iraq. One was already military, the other enlisted after 9/11. We hadn't been a military family for decades, since we were in our 20s during Vietnam war and now here we were again a 'military family'. After a bit of internal ambiguity, I decided to become a military family speaking out borrowing from my own life experience as a young military wife during Vietnam war, and as what is affectionately termed a 'military brat' being raised as a child on military bases.

I threw myself into this new arena (for me) of activism, in earnest hope that with enough voices, enough counter energy, surely Americans would not want to support the creation of another Vietnam type situation. I gave it all up to trying to be among the contributors to end this war in Iraq the first year, the second year, the third year, the fourth year. Now as we move into the fifth year, I find I can not keep up that level of intensity and want to put some other of my life elements back into balance. Returning to some of the philosophies of our intentional lifestyle, I find they are now repackaged with new labels as a result of the buzz around 'global warming'.

Good, great, and I'm down with that since the more concerned citizens taking action steps towards another kind of counter revolution the better. A different kind of activism! I already have blogging outlets for my thoughtful reflections and opinions about how this Administration is managing the war in Iraq, so I don't need this blog as a pulpit or venue for expressing those concerns. Along the way of my journey these past four years into activism, I've also been exposed to and learned a great deal about environment, intentional corporatism, and the grotesqueness of full blown consumerism as thieves in the night taking from people's lives their very consciousness of meaningful living.

So Mr. No Impact Man, it's great to have run across your blog today and thank you and your family for what you are doing.
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Project; Envelope Books

I wind up with left over envelopes, and I save them..for - just in case. Still have them, and there has been no 'just in case'. I also occasionally see bundles of envelopes for sale at thrift stores.

Look what some clever people at Church of Craft came up with for ways to creatively use envelopes!

and here is a tutorial with basic instructions for making accordion envelope books at Paper Source.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Iraq Veterans Memorial (online) launches this weekend - 4th Anniversary of Iraq war

Iraq Veterans Memorial launches today in respect for this weekend which will be the 4th Anniversary of Iraq war as our country moves into 5th year in Iraq.

The Iraq Veterans Memorial is an online war memorial to honor the members of the U.S. armed forces who have lost their lives serving in the Iraq War. It is a collection of video memories from family, friends, military colleagues, and co-workers of those that have fallen. The memorial will be an online destination for people to honor and remember those we have lost.

Full length collection of all the stories LINK at Google video. Visit the link to the Google placed video collection of all the stories.

The Iraq Veterans Memorial is an online war memorial that honors the members of the U.S. armed forces who have lost their lives serving in the Iraq War. The Memorial is a collection of video memories from family, friends, military colleagues, and co-workers of those that have fallen.

You can 'host' the online video memorial collection as a vigil, and in the age of high tech, you can hold a laptop vigil which is a techie way to conduct a candlelight vigil in real time. You can also share the memorial video on your blog or myspace.

You can contribute your own video memorial - (from the Iraq Veterans Memorial website)
We need your help to make this complete. If you knew a soldier who died, please contribute your own video memorial to them. There is no deadline.


Thank you for visiting the Iraq Veterans Memorial.

Over the past four years we have lost many wonderful men and women to the Iraq War. This site was conceived as a place to honor the fallen servicemembers who gave their lives representing the United States of America.

By watching the videos, you will have the opportunity to learn about these heroes from those who knew them best -- their family, friends, and fellow servicemembers. Each man and woman represented in the memorial had attributes and qualities that made them unique, but they all have one thing in common - they were truly loved and are deeply missed.

We hope that by viewing the Iraq Veterans Memorial you will learn a little bit about how these men and women lived. We encourage everyone who has lost a family member or friend to create a video memorial so that others can better understand the life that was lived and the love that was lost. Find out more information on contributing your video.

There are many other people who have died during the Iraq War - contractors, Iraqis, servicemembers from other countries - and many who have been critically wounded. Many heroes have also died and been wounded in Afghanistan. We honor all of these people and their families for the sacrifices that have been made.

We greatly appreciate and respect those people who have shared a part of themselves by participating in this project. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to learn about the men and women who died for their country.

Jim Miller and the team at Brave New Foundation
Learn who we are
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Thursday, March 15, 2007

So Congress will you Fund or De-Fund the Iraq War? Supplemental Appropriations Bill Begins Today

When you phone today to discuss and urge our Representative Congress to action; below is a list of some of the concerns you are likely to hear from the Staffers who will likely be taking your phone calls.

Please call the Capitol switchboard (ask for the office of your Representative) at 800-828-0498, 800-459-1887 or 800-614-2803 as often as you can between now and when they vote on the House Supplemental Appropriations bill next week. Tell your Congressional Representative about your personal connection to this war, and how important it is that they act now to use their 'power of the purse' to end the funding that will allow this unjustifiable war to continue.

The House Supplemental Appropriations Bill: “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act” These talking points cover why Military Families Speak Out is urging a “no” vote on this bill:

• President Bush submitted his supplemental budget request to Congress in February, 2007 for approximately $93 billion to continue the war in Iraq.

• The House Leadership, headed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, crafted this supplemental budget request into a funding bill that will most likely be voted on in the Defense Appropriations Committee on Thursday, March 15 and come before the full House of Representatives sometime during the week of March 19. March 19 th is the 4 th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq

• The House Supplemental Appropriations Bill as written would give funds to President Bush to continue the war in Iraq.

• The House Leadership is trying to get all Members of Congress who oppose the war in Iraq to support this House Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which they named the “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act”. They claim it has the following provisions which are supposed to support our troops and bring about the end of the war in Iraq, but their claims are not supported by the facts:

Claim: Troop Readiness Requirements: no funds can be appropriated to deploy any unit of the Armed Forces to Iraq unless the unit is fully trained, equipped and “mission capable”
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive troop readiness requirements

Claim: No Extended Deployments: no funds can be appropriated for extending the deployment of the Army, National Guard or Reserves beyond a 365-day deployment, or a Marine unit beyond a 210-day deployment
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive the prohibition on extended deployments

Claim: Rest Period Between Deployments: no funds can be appropriated for deploying any Army unit that has been deployed within the previous 365 consecutive days, or an Marine unit that has been deployed within the previous 210 consecutive days
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive the specified rest periods between deployments

Claim: Requirements for Iraqi Government Progress: if the Iraqi government isn’t making substantial progress by October 1, 2007 and again by March 1,2008 in making the country secure, democratic and reducing sectarian violence, the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq within 180 days.
Reality: The bill allows the President to unilaterally certify “Iraqi Government Progress”

Claim: Date Certain for U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq: combat troops out of Iraq by August, 2008 at the latest
Reality: With three U.S troops dying each day the war continues, August, 2008 is not an acceptable deadline for withdrawal of US troops. It is not bringing our troops home now. Furthermore, the bill allows U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after the August, 2008 withdrawal date if they are “engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach” [note: the
terms “limited in duration and scope” are undefined in the bill]; and/or if they are “training members of the Iraqi Security Forces”. This provision could be used to keep tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq for years
to come.

• The House Supplemental Appropriations bill as written would allow thousands of additional US troops and untold numbers of Iraqis to die before the U.S. occupation of Iraq is ended.

• The Supplemental Appropriations bill as written is really about positioning the Democrats for the 2008 election, not about bringing our troops home quickly and safely.

• It is wonderful that the House Leadership is putting more funds than the President asked for, specifically targeted toward military and Veteran’s health care. However, by providing the funds to continue the war in Iraq, they are ensuring that there will be thousands more troops whose lives will be damaged or destroyed, who will be wounded, who will return with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who will be at risk of long-term health problems from exposure to Depleted Uranium.

• It appears that many in Congress, including self-described “anti-war” Members of Congress, feel the need to vote for the House Supplemental Appropriations bill in order to deflect charges from Vice President Dick Cheney and others that they are not “supporting the troops”. These Members of Congress seem more afraid of a newspaper headline than they are about the reality that three U.S. troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men are dying each day this war continues.

• As military and Gold Star families, no one is more concerned about the safety and well-being of our troops than we are. It has been our sons, daughters, husbands,wives, brothers, sisters, fianc├ęs, partners, grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews,mothers and fathers on the front lines of this war; our loved ones who have and are paying the price for it.

• We know the President’s supplemental budget request is not about providing funding for our troops – he is seeking funding to continue this war that is so damaging to our loved ones and all of our troops.

• The most important thing Members of Congress can do to protect those who swore an oath to protect us all, is to vote against the House Supplemental Appropriations bill that will provide President Bush with funding to continue the war in Iraq.

• As military families, we have learned that there are funds available to bring our troops out quickly and safely. If more is needed, funds from the Department of Defense budget could be re-programmed for this purpose.

• Congress needs to understand that by continuing to fund this war, and leaving our loved ones in Iraq, they are abandoning them.

• Congress can not both oppose and fund this war.

• Members of Congress may be afraid for their political futures, and afraid of being “swift-boated” if they were to vote to de-fund the war. We are afraid for the lives of our loved ones. We are afraid that if we are lucky enough to get our loved ones home, they will return with wounds both physical and psychological. We are afraid that our loved ones who return will never be the loved ones we knew before they deployed.

• The Constitution gave Congress the ‘power of the purse’ for a reason. The unjustifiable war in Iraq is just such a reason. President Bush is not going to end this war. It’s up to Congress to bring this misbegotten war to an end.

• It is time for Members of Congress to support our troops by voting against the funds that allow this war to continue.

• To Members of Congress we say: if you vote to continue funding the war in Iraq, it will no longer be President Bush’s war. It will be yours. If you fund it, you’ve bought it and you own it. And we will remember.

• We are asking Congress now to show the courage and leadership that our loved ones have shown when they signed up to defend the Constitution of the United States.

• Ending this war is the right thing to do. And Congress can make this happen. We call on Congress now -- Don’t abandon our troops! De-fund this war!

Note: Information about the “Barbara Lee Amendment”: Congresswoman Barbara Lee has put forward an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation bill that would limit the use of the appropriated funds to spending for a fully-funded safe and orderly withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. It would further set a firm deadline for withdrawal of December 31, 2007. As we write these MFSO Talking Points, there is uncertainty about whether or not Congresswoman Lee’s amendment to the House Supplemental Appropriations bill will be allowed to be put forward in the House Appropriations Committee deliberation of the measure on Thursday, March 15 on the House floor when the measure comes to the full House of Representatives next week (the week of March 19).

While it would be wonderful to have this amendment to the House Appropriatons bill be introduced, accepted and become part of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, there is little chance of this happening. Therefore, the core message Members of Congress need to hear now is: Support our troops, de-fund the war, and vote against any funds for continuing the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Project; Hanging Pendant lights from Vintage Jello Molds

Now this is an idea that might be fun to try. Making lights from vintage jello molds. I have not yet converted anything into a lamp or light, so I'm not one to give advice. Instead I'll take it on the advice of others who have converted old treasures into lamps or hanging pendant lights. A series of hanging pendant lights seems to be a trend right now.

Found at decor8 and read the post and comment for yourself, as others who have converted a lamp say it's a fairly simple process using converter kit available at hardware stores.
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Project; Making Paper Beads using magazines. Doorway or Window curtain

Paper Bead Art. I never heard of it, but others have. Why it caught my attention was because it uses magazines (and I have too many) plus the suggestion that the paper beads could be strung together to form a doorway curtain (or a window curtain). While the suggestion pictured is using the paper beads as art, I would be more likely to make the paper beads as a project to use the old magazines, so I would need plenty of paper beads to then string a doorway curtain.

For the tutorial how to - see at curbly

and the paper beads are shown in this framed art piece

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Project; Turn a tree branch into a coat rack

Coatrack from a branch...I can do this!

found at Apartment Therapy - San Francisco, which found the image somewhere else, it was promotional of the wallpaper decor. Turning the branch into a diy project; hang branch by curtain rod mounting brackets; use S hooks to hang hangers.
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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Iraq Messages this week - a General, A Military Mom, A Congressman, A Military Wife, A Journalist...

My mind is swimming today with the differences in messages and approaches of so many earnest people endeavoring to try to end Iraq war.

  • Retired Major General Paul D Eaton, Fox Island, WA, speaks from Seattle last night on Real Time with Bill Maher about conditions of Walter Reed being the 'tip of the iceberg';

  • Representative David Obey (D- WS) recorded on video Thursday losing patience with questions from Tina Richards, mother to Cpl Cloy Richards, returning Iraq Marine veteran, twice deployed to Iraq, soon to deploy for third time. MSN, Chris Matthews interviews Tina Richards Thursday on Hardball.

  • Bob Woodruff, injured in IED explosion ABC journalist 'To Iraq and Back' and his wife are interviewed Friday on MSN Hardball with Chris Matthews.

  • Two of the arrested Port of Tacoma protesters are inteviewed on Fox News Hannity and Colmes.

  • Op-ed published this week by a Washington based military wife, Stacy Bannerman married to WA Natl Guardsman, himself a returning Iraq veteran. Stacy tells of the casualty of marriages in military families faced with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, including her own.

Different kinds of messages from different military-connected people with 'skin in the game' - a phrase for being in Iraq or having loved ones in Iraq. Different routes up the same mountain. But are the roads overlapping, perhaps tangling up the effort and the message - are some routes leading to dead ends?

-- video - HBO - Real Time, Bill Maher. Retired Major General, Paul D. Eaton, Fox Island, WA, speaks on the conditions of Walter Reed as the 'tip of the iceberg'. Paul Eaton was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004. He is speaking to Bill Maher via satellite with the Space Needle and Seattle skyline in the background. He says an interesting thing on the Real Time show last night and I have to admit, it took me by surprise, so when Bill Maher repeated it, I knew I had heard what I thought I heard. Quoting excerpt of end of one of his sentences

'arrival of Democratic controlled Congress, Thank God, 7 November'.
Bill Maher responds that it is not often you hear military people say arrival of the Democrats and Thank God in the same sentence.

See retired Major General, Paul Eaton, Fox Island, WA companion piece, NY Times Op-Ed, 'Casualties of the Budget Wars' published this week. You may recall also as reported by NY Times last year in April 2006, Paul Eaton was among the six Generals calling for Rumsfeld resignation - link .

-- link video - MSN - Hardball,Chris Matthews interviews Tina Richards; mother of Iraq veteran Marine son, twice deployed and will deploy third time March this year. Her encounter with Representative David Obey (D- WS). Tina was representing Grassroots Missouri on Hardball yesterday. She is also a member of Military Families Speak Out, although it sounds like she is taking action as an independent military family on behalf of her son's upcoming third deployment to Iraq.

-- link video - MSN - Hardball, Chris Matthews. Bob Woodruff and his wife interviewed on Bob's recovery from Brain Trauma Injury. Bob Woodruff ABC journalist who was severely wounded Jan 2006 in IED explosion while covering Iraq. (My note - reference another Washblog story I wrote on Bob Woodruff in the special ,'To Iraq and Back' )

-- link video - Fox News - Hannity and Colmes. Two arrested at Port of Tacoma protesting the loading and shipping of Stryker equipment destined for Iraq. See Noemie story at Washblog as she endeavors to explore the Port of Tacoma protests.

-- An op- ed by a published auther and military wife of Washington state National Guardsman, Stacy Bannerman wrote an op-ed March 7, courageously sharing with the public the breakdown of her marriage as a direct result, she says, of war in Iraq. Link 60000 Marriages Broken by Iraq, Including Mine, read through the comments and you can feel the tone of empathy (or lack of empathy) which military families generally encounter. Some of the comments are the usual of what we as military families have been hearing for the past four years now (and we heard it in Vietnam era too), but some of the comments are from peace/activist people who can be equally harsh in their comments. (I find this happens as well in the comments to Daily Kos stories)

She was prompted by the comments to write another op-ed, also published at Alternet March 10, 2007 link 'Volunteer Soldiers Devastated by Iraq Weren't Asking for It'. Stacy phoned me this week to pass along a request she had received for military family to speak at a Seattle area church for 4th anniversary event. She passed it along to me for consideration of Military Families Speak Out - WA chapter to determine if one of our member families was willing to speak.

That led me to share some thoughts with Stacy about how I am feeling more uncomfortable with the relationship of military families and the peace/activist movement/communities. As I explained to her, I can't tell if my growing discomfort, some of what has felt like exploitive experiences, is coloring my perspective. I am disinclined to want to participate in any of the 4th anniversary acknowledgement events being planned in Washington this month. I'm not so sure that the message I carry is best represented within the context of the planned events. I'm not sure it doesn't feel a bit like being a willing mouthpiece puppet for messaging that does not entirely reflect my own thoughts and message.

Sometimes, I shared with her, it feels like I am pressed hard from both sides - the right wingers rhetoric, and the peace/activist movement rhetoric. She, a long time peace activist, shared with me that until she herself became a military wife, she would have had a hard time understanding the viewpoint of military culture. It helped me to hear her say that, because it reminds me to continue to try to be patient and not grow impatient at what feels like the disconnect I sometimes feel with the peace/activist communities.

Of late, I'm not liking the direction of what I'm hearing from some peace/activists who point the finger at the soliders who do deploy. It sounds a lot like the residue of Vietnam to me - blaming the soldiers for a) going, b) for not putting down their weapons, c) for not refusing to go in the first place. I have actually heard someone say to me when I asked what you would have the soldiers already in Iraq do and the response was that they should put down their weapons. "While they are in Iraq," I asked, "they should put down their weapons?" I'd say there is a real disconnect happening that is unrealistic in this kind of discourse.

I received a phone call this week from a woman who invited me to show my oil paintings on an art show offered by Comcast TV channel in Puyallup. She came across one of my oil paintings on our MFSO chapter website . (That is the result of the pride of my husband who felt a photo of one of my oil paintings should be part of my profile info). As I explored this with her, confused because of the contact via MFSO website, she shared with me that her husband is a Vietnam veteran, who experienced the homecoming of having red paint poured on him and being spit upon by the peaceniks there to greet him.

This was astonishing to me because I know there is a published book, Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, indicating that this spitting on the returning Vietnam veterans never happened, is a myth, and can't be validated by first hand accounts. I asked her if she knew of this book. She did not, but she says her husband knows his own experience, and he might like to know about this book as he could offer direct first hand experience. He was not a protesting anti-war veteran. I know many Vietnam veterans reference the 'spit upon' as symbolic and indicative of how they were welcomed home as opposed to actual first hand experience. But as I shared with her, I well remember my own experience then, and the climate was not welcoming or conducive to my sharing that my husband was a returning veteran from Vietnam. We expected an unwelcome response so we shut it down in public venues and talked about it only among some of our friends - friends from high school who found themselves in Vietnam at the same time.

If the leftover ideals of the 60s protesting era are being revived and used again as rhetoric and talking points among peace/activist communities and directed at soldiers and military families, then I contend this is a disservice to those of us contending daily with this war. I'd like to think it is the few and not the general tone of the peace/activist communities, but my experiences tell me otherwise.

I don't know what the best course is to trying to end this war and getting our troops home, all the while ensuring they are not without the equipment they need while they are in Iraq; not to mention the medical services they will need, likely long term. A hard-wired mantra for me is that we (America) don't abandon our troops in the field and leave them with a shortfall of funding which translates to equipment and medical care. This is very real for me.

Another hard wired mantra for me is the experience of Vietnam. I'm still learning nuances - 35 years later - of what went into that era and what brought that war to an end, even though I actually lived in that time as a military wife. It doesn't seem to be any more clear cut now than it was then.

There are those who say it took the soldiers themselves protesting to bring it to an end (do see the dvd Sir, No Sir). There are those who say it was the massive protests, the college students, the violence against the protesters (ie, Kent State) and that without the 'movement' in place, the soldiers would not have had the support in place to launch their own protests. There are those who say it took politicians umpteen tries politically to bring it to a close; that the work of politics is a slow moving mechanism - taking years and years sometimes.

As near as I can tell, the stew of ingredients that finally brought Vietnam war to a close was a combination of many social, political, economic elements. It took a combination of ongoing public protests, increasing pressure on Congress, having the soldiers themselves refuse to continue to participate in Vietman war, the condition of the 'draft' = widely sweeping to affect all draft age males pressing them into involuntary military deployments, and the element of the 'unknown' as it was not expected that soldiers would find so many ways to refuse to participate.

What is different this time with Iraq is that this Administration - please don't forget this fact - was also there at the time of Vietnam. Rumsfeld, Cheney, George W. Bush, Wolfowitz, Perle, all had direct experience of the political climate of Vietnam. I would say they learned how to 'contain' the imaging, message, and narrative we are given about Iraq from what they learned about Vietnam. I would offer as well that there continues to be the kaleidoscope of the techniques of misdirection that keeps many of us off center and sometimes without firm ground as we try to dissect what is really going on.

Is Jack Murtha on track then? He has a strategy of redeploying the troops out of Iraq and leaving some of the troops on the horizon. How about his recent suggestions to ensure troops are given opportunities of full training, recuperative one year between deployments as a kind of back door approach to stemming the flow of 'volunteer' troops who are kept in combat via back door draft of stop loss extended deployments?

Is what Representative Dave Obey (D- WS)shared with Tina Richards on the mark? Is it accurate that Democratic party cannot get the required 233 votes on their proposed non-binding Resolutions? Is it true that even should they be able to get Resolution passed it could be vetoed by President? Is it true that the appropriation funding is needed to provide for the already deployed troops, get them fully back home safely and provide for their medical care? Is there a political way in which the Iraq war can be made to be an illegal war and therfore illegal to fund, as Rep. Obey seemed to suggest in the exchange with mother, Tina Richards?

Or is it true what Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) indicates as enough funding already in the pipeline to safely bring the troops home now, and that additional funding is not necessary to get them home, rather that additional funding perpetuates and continues the war in Iraq? That a vote now not to fund is not a vote against the troops and will not impede getting them home safely; will not abandon them in the field.

Is the Democratic party in the majority now working on a plan or several plans to actually find an effective way to end the war in Iraq, which they know is an immoral and probably an illegal war?

What about the voices and messages, ie, General Wesley Clark, that express grave concerns about the U.S. military action expanding to Iran?

I'm not at all sure on this fourth anniversary of the Iraq war what message I want to be sending and how to best symbolize and represent that message.

I want the politicians to do their jobs and bring this war to an end yesterday. I want to give them the space they need to do their jobs but each day of delay represents so so many deaths. A sense of urgency presses military families as their loved ones deploy over and over again into an ill-defined mission. When I speak of concern for our own loved ones and our troops, the focus is not limited strictly to our troops as that is too narrow - hundreds of Iraqis also are killed daily. I think of another Washingtonian, Bert Sacks, of Seattle and his own individual courage in trying to help Iraqi children.

What of General Casy who seemed to be warning us all of the impending 'long war' against 'terrorism' in the Middle East? When a military General says 'long war', my ears perk up and I ask myself if I am hearing the nuanced statement to the public of a General's assessment that this will be a decades-long war. Where will the troops come from to continue a decades long war with recruitment numbers down and fewer willing to enlist in what they have come to recognize as a questionable war? Will the two in my family be serving deployment after deployment over the next decade? How is this going to impact their wives and children?

How can the former code of the military that goes down through the generations telling the new crop of soldiers and their families to 'suck it up' possibly relate to the experience of so many repeat deployments? That is not in their experience, so how can they know to give advice of that nature? It is the new crop that have the message in this war, and we aren't yet hearing from them.

We hear from some, those who find peace/activist communities that give them a platform to be heard. I rather think though that there are many more who are very perplexed, dissatisfied,confused and wanting to share their own message but not ready to swing that far away from their clan in speaking out quite so radically. Often I ask myself, isn't there a kind of middle ground that permits one to have both conservative and liberal views - does it have to be one way or the other? Where are those people, and where is their platform, what venues are provided for them?

Maybe it all flows together in ways I can no longer easily detect and maybe we all do get to the mountain top by different routes. Maybe there is room for all the divergent viewpoints, approaches, strategies and tactics. Right now I'm having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees - I think - but I know my intentions are honorable. Aren't they all - the intentions of all who take on this struggle?

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Arthur's Busy-ness

I'm sitting here on a Saturdy morning feeling healthier, wiser and motivated for new vocational directions.

Lifestyle changes driven originally by take the test are having an intitial dramatic impact. The incredible dietary change resulting from Lietta's research and committment to change has been augmented by my own promise to exercise frequently.

At work - where I'm authorized a morning and afternoon break, I stopped sitting and reading and committed to walking. 7 1/2 minutes from the office and 7/12 minutes back morning and afternoon. Add to that a 15 minute walk during my lunch hour and the results have been very gratifying and motivating.

Not only are my clothes already fitting better, but my internal sense of health, energy and mobility are readily apparent moment to moment.

I have very little sense of weight loss but know that there has been an initial reduction because my pants fit more loosely and my discomfort in hot environments and heating up from exercise has lessened considerably. At first I had a fear that walking would force me to give myself minibaths, change shirts and sit in front of a fan for a long time before being able to return to work.

For the most part that hasn't happened, although I do have a problem at work in a poorly ventilated interview room that suffers mini-global warming (by mid morning on warm days, that room is like an oven) that the landlord has yet to resolve. However, for someone who could raise a sweat by climbing the stairs at home, the difference and improvement is radical.

Furthermore, I have to comment on what apparently is the effect of regular coffee consumption on the Type II diabetes I expected to commence a year or so ago. Studies indicate that coffee consumption reduces the probablity of Type II onset by as much as 30%.

.... and for someone like me who avoided coffee for religious reasons for the most of the first 45 years of my life.

Anyway, with the support of my beautiful companion who immediately moved into lifestyle change when the test indicated that my chronological age of 60 does not reflect my actual health age up in the 70's.

So far so good.

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Friday, March 9, 2007

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

504,000 Troops have deployed more than once to Iraq/Afghanistan

Found this from Shaun at Upper Left blog who says he hates what they are doing to his army, then cites some number crunching. I wanted to capture the numbers -- accurate number crunching about mulitiple rotated deployment tours this 'all volunteer' military is forced (drafted) to do voluntarily - over and over again. I guess that is okay with the Administration, Congress and the American public, who continues to favor the argument that they knew what the signed up for when they took that oath, or as Congress argues that we can't bring them home, or this Commander-in-Chief who seems more intent on a stubborn-ness of will contest while real people die daily in his war debacle .....

Do these numbers have the ring of truth to you that these kids knew what they were signing up for ?

From Upper Left blog -

I hate what they are doing
…to my Army, and I hate that they're doing it over and over again. New numbers from the Center for American Progress.

Brigades with one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan: 12
Brigades with two tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 20
Brigades with three tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 9
Brigades with four tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 2
What's that mean in terms of people?
...a total of 420,000 troops have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan more than once, and over 84,000 National Guard and Reservists have done multiple tours.
Hell with a revolving door.

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Monday, March 5, 2007

Military Times coverage of Walter Reed controversy - it goes deeper and deeper

First they go through the meat grinder of combat and an unclear mission with an unclear 'enemy'. Then they return 'home' and go through another meat grinder in obtaining medical care, facilities and services. Why oh why do I hear the deja vue bells of Vietnam era tolling in my head. We love our veterans - yeah right - and we support them - yeah right, when it serves a political agenda - yeah sure those yellow magnets of public support have gone a long way to being of substanative help to our returning veterans. We care about our troops. Yeah right - well let's see what these Hearings produce and let's see how America reacts and responds this time around...

Oh, I'm not shocked, not at all. You see, as military families, we know, oh do we know and many of us, well about 3,200 of us have been trying so hard to speak out and call attention to how our loved ones are being treated - rather, I should say left untreated.

With a shout out of thanks to Chad (the left) Shue at his blog, I bring forth to my own blog only one of the items Chad referenced in his blog. Please also refer to and read Chad's blog.

from the Army Times;

Military Times coverage of the controversy at Walter Reed

Posted : Friday Mar 2, 2007 18:54:42 EST

Francis Harvey, caught under the giant shadow cast by the controversy over outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, resigned today as secretary of the Army, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced Friday afternoon at the Pentagon.

Read all Military Times coverage about Walter Reed Army Medical Center:

Official: Gates fired Army Secretary (March 2)

Democrats say Harvey’s ouster isn’t enough (March 2)

Walter Reed topic of five hearings next week (March 2)

Maj. Gen. Eric Schoomaker named new Walter Reed head (March 2)

Committee subpoenas former Walter Reed chief (March 2)

Walter Reed chief fired; critics say more must go (March 2)

Army denies patients face daily inspections (Feb. 28)

Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet (Feb. 27)

Walter Reed soldier wins small victory (Feb. 27)

Gates’ candor on hospital woes lauded (Feb. 27

Pentagon names members of Walter Reed panel (Feb. 23)

Renovations underway at Walter Reed (Feb. 22)

Wounded and waiting (Feb. 17)

Here is another blogger report at Pacific Views on Walter Reed titled, ' Conservative Ideology Responsible for Walter Reed Mess' and that title is not without merit.

Another blogger at Upper Left uses title 'Bush's Second Katrina'. I'd go further and say it was already Bush's Katrina before Hurricane Katrina took out New Orleans. The stories of troops going with inadequate to no medical care date back to the first year of Iraq and have continually surfaced in media reports in the years that followed. It didn't take much digging to find out what was going on, and I'm relieved that the story is breaking and bringing forth the tenacles of the underpinnings as to why such abuses of returning wounded troops were permitted and tolerated in the first place.

There are more who have blogged this story and I want to call attention to the gift of blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer who provides the Topic Hotlist tool that permits me to see what the Northwest bloggers have to say on topics relating to Iraq. Oh, I should clarify that to be the progressive NW bloggers.

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Recipes This Week; Still Eating Thai!

Catching up on the new recipes I made this week. See what happens when I miss one day of blogging the progression? It turns into two missed days, then three, then an entire week goes by and I find myself needing to write a 'super' sized blog entry. The order of the days we had the new eats isn't too relevant, but the grades and rating we gave the new recipes determines if we will have that one again ... or not.

So here goes. And again, most of the recipes come from - where I have my recipe box, and ability to plan meals and print out my grocery shopping list.

Sweet and Spicy Thai Stir Fry

2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
2 small jalepeno peppers
snow peas
Spanish red onion or shallots
1 pkg Lo-mein noodles (thin yellow spaghetti like chinese noodles)
1 jar sweet red pepper Thai ssauce
1/2 cup sweet plum sauce
soy sauce


Slice the green peppers into 1/2 wide long strips. Dice all other peppers down to about 1/2 square. Slice ends from snow peas, otherwise leave them whole. Dice red onion or shallots smaller than the coloured peppers.

Run the lo-mein noodles under cold water in a collander for about 5 minutes to loosen.

In one stir-fry pan or wok add all peppers and snow peas (feel free to add any of your other favourite veggies to this wok as well). Add a bit of oil, about a tablespoon of soya sauce, and about 1/2 to 3/4 of the jar of Thai Sauce. Stir fry at med heat until the sauce has thickened slightly and the vegetables are well cooked.

In a second stir fry pan or wok add bean sprouts and lo-mein (can be substituted with a nice tri-color rotini pasta). Add a bit of oil, soya sauce, and just enough plum sauce to glaze the noodles and sprouts. Stir fry for about 5 - 7 minutes on med heat, until noodles are hot and sprouts have wilted.

Voila, serve veggies woks contents over the noodle contents. The veggies will spice up your mouth, the noodles will chill it out, and I guarantee you'll enjoy it (my roommates at university did when I first created this one)!

(We Loved This One! It is just as the contributor said - veggies spice up your mouth while the noodles coated in the plum sauce chill out your mouth. I was very surprised, since I'm not a big fan of green, red, yellow and orange bell peppers - but it was delicious! I didn't have Lo-Mein noodles, and instead used Angel Hair Spaghetti noodles. I also did not have snow peas, so did not use. We liked the results so well, that I would repeat again using the modified recipe as I made it. We will use the recipe as taste treat to ourselves and as special dish for company.)

Thai Cucumber Salad

2-3 whole cucumbers
1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3-5 cloves garlic (to taste), minced
1 large shallot, minced
salt, to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)


Wash cucumbers well and peel (I like to leave some of the skin on for color, but it's of course optional). Slice in rounds as thinly as possible.

Place in bowl and cover with vinegar, sugar, and salt, stir to dissolve. Add garlic and shallot, mix well.

May be served immediately although I find the flavor improves if it's allowed to rest in the refrigerator for up to two hours. Add pepper flakes to taste when serving, if using.

(We enjoyed the salad like cucumbers with the spicy sweet taste - gets the taste buds going. Will make this one often, good use for cukes in the summer when cucumbers are garden plentiful)

Egg Rolls -
using recipe on the wrapper package. While I intended to make Spring rolls (not cooked - certainly not deep fried), I wound up having to go in a different direction. I had purchased the wrong type of wrappers which required cooking first. I will be sure to purchase the correct kind of wrappers next time as I wanted Spring Rolls, not Chinese type Egg Rolls. Anyway, I wound up following the recipe on the wrapper package, deep frying them or wok frying them - but nonetheless, this is not a 'healthy' kind of recipe.

Chop Suey

3 stalks celery, diced
half a small cabbage, diced
2 large onions, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
3 tablespoon oil
1 cup vegetable stock
half a teaspoon yeast extract
half a teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon corn flour
4 tablespoon water
salt & 125g bean sprouts


Heat the oil in a large pan, add all the vegetables except the bean sprouts and stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, add the yeast extract and the soy sauce. Mix the cornflour and water, add to the vegetables, season and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and cook for a further 2 minutes. Serve with boiled rice.

(Well - the ol' Chop Suey which is not Thai and I think more a Chinese dish hybrided for Western palletes. This was filling and that makes it a good, thrifty type recipe for using those odds and ends veggies, and rice. I don't have corn flour, but I do have soy flour, so I used that instead. And I'm not sure what yeast extract is, but I do have nutritional yeast so I used that and perhaps it is the same thing. I think there are likely a number of Chop Suey recipes, so this one is probably not more or less outstanding than another Chop Suey recipe. It is after all Chop Suey.)

Chow Mein which is a recipe I already posted here (using chicken). I made this for us this week, using tofu instead of chicken and it was probably just as good. I would make it again because I love those crispy chow mein noodles!

Simple Thai Pizza

pizza crust (I use the easy, yummy, and Quick Pizza Crust recipe from this site or Rustic
2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
2 tablespoons peanut or sesame oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter, unsalted & all-natural
1/4 cup tamari
1 lime, juice only
1/2-1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste (make sure to check label for fish sauce or shrimp
8 oz. of your choice of protein - Morningstar Farms Chicken Meal Starters, or Thai-Style
marinated baked tofu
1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and light green parts only)
1/2 cup carrot, shredded or julienned
1/2 cup pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed


Preheat oven to 450*F.

Mix the ginger in with the oil. Brush mixture (I use a silicone basting brush) across the pizza crust.

Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven.

Mix together the peanut butter, tamari, lime juice and curry paste. Spread this on the crust and top with remaining ingredients. (TIP: If you are using MSF Meal Starters, put them on the pizza BEFORE the sauce and they will absorb lots of extra flavor.)

Bake for 10 additional minutes.

Makes a great appetizer for parties. Serves: 6-10 slices

Preparation time: 15 minutes prep + 10 minutes baking

(We appreciated this recipe as a replacement for our 'Friday Night' treat meal. We usually will have a store-bought DiGiorno's Pizza or I will make us Hoagies or Sweetie will bring home subway sandwhiches from Subways. Sometimes we would have a take out Chinese meal, but that was rare. So I made this Thai Pizza and it was Great! I used a refridgerator packaged prepared pizza crust. Followed the directions and ingredients list, using tofu (that I baked first) and it was a most interesting tasting pizza. I will make it again, but the sauce was a bit runny, not sure how to avoid that in future. Fun pizza for guests.)

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Friday, March 2, 2007

Project; Arrange your books by color on your bookshelves

Found some great links today. And local to my area, okay, well at least my state. Found at Apartment Therapy reference links to Re-Use Salvage stores in Seattle and Bellingham, WA. I know there are salvage operations, and that is not new. But the focus to re-use, not toss out, and refashion or repurpose is a bit of 'repackaging' or re-marketing an old idea.

Earthwise, Inc., Building Salvage (Seattle)

The ReStore (Seattle and Bellingham)

How clever is this for decorating without spending big $$? For those who are lovers of books, this is fun idea. Shared at Apartment Therapy - Los Angeles.
Books arranged by color. chotda at flickr

and another, also at Apartment Therapy - Los Angeles, by sugarfreak at flickr

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Grandmothers still teaching; 'The Three Sisters' gardening

I absolutely did Not know this - but I do now. I have often heard of The Three Sisters, without full recognition of the relationship. I will be planting my corn, beans and squash in a quite different pattern this year. In fact, I think I will plant it in that sunny space behind the house and actually name it My Three Sisters Garden. I came across this in my morning reads - attributed to a post at one of my listserv groups by Sweet Spring Farm.

*The Three Sisters*

The "three sisters" of New Mexican agriculture, corn, beans, and squash,
were hundreds of years ahead of their time. This system serves as the basis
for inter-cropping systems currently being used around the world as tools to
increase agricultural productivity in areas facing food shortages. Why is
this such a successful system?

Simply stated, each of the three sisters serves an important role. To
understand the system, one should first consider the three plants
seperately. Growing corn in rows is a good idea but wastes valuable planting
space. Beans require some sort of support system and must be staked up to
grow. Finally, both squash and corn require additional nitrogen in the soil
to produce adequately in New Mexico's typically sandy soils, which are also
prone to losing valuable moisture due to evaporation.

As corn reaches for the sun, beans may grow up the strong stalks and the
necessity of building a support system or frame is reduced. One must plant
corn some distance apart, leaving the ground bare; however, planting squash
between the rows of corn reduces soil moisture loss as the squash foliage
acts as a natural mulch, reducing soil temperatures and helping to "hold"
moisture in the soil where it may be used by the plants and not lost to the
atmosphere. Finally, beans have the unique capability of being able to "fix"
atmospheric nitrogen, pulling it from the air and improving soil nitrogen
status; essentially, "fertilizing" the other two sisters.

Contributed by Dr. Dann Brown, Professor of Botany, Eastern New Mexico
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Thursday, March 1, 2007

The 'Victory Garden' still has meaning for today's generation

I have long believed the WWll concept of everyone having a 'Victory Garden' of their own has more meaning for us now in these times in a quite different way. In the time of WWll, individuals grew Victory Gardens as a response to war-time rationing and as a united gesture of patriotic support.

As 'living off the grid', becoming consumer-less, corporate farming, global warming, terminator seeds (food seeds), sustainable living and stewardship for Mother Earth's resources become relevant issues, I have yearned for us, as a collective country of concerned citizens get back to the idea of Victory Garden brought into the 21st century. Looking back at earlier decades - fashionably called 'retro', and repurposed or refashioned to the 21st century, why not look back to the Victory Garden concept of WWll and give it a 21st century facelift?

Please take a look at WorldChanging: Tales of a Self-Sufficient City.

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