Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Cesar Chavez Day

I was honored to meet Cesar Chavez once when he came to speak at the University of North Texas not too long before his death.   His life's work was a beautiful example of what Christ tried to teach us to be.

Spicy Catch-up

I haven't had any time for even my normal too-rushed-late-night version of blogging this past week.  Things have been moving very quickly this school year and they seem to be picking up speed all the time.  With testing this week, and an evening doctor appointment for the Girl mid-week, an Ambassador meeting on Friday, as well as a Brownie backyard camp-out this weekend (and preparations to make for it), don't expect to hear too much from me this week either.  My writing resolutions for the once new year (along with so many others) are on hold.  Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other and sleep whenever possible.  Another season will come.

The Girl got her SAT scores on Thursday and they were great.  Really great.  Maybe not as great as those of the handful of kids who are similarly motivated and also paid thousands of dollars for the classes that are taught by former College Board employees who have now managed to copyright the teaching of the actual test templates so that school teachers are not allowed to teach them to all the kids in order that they may only be revealed to our future corporate overlords and all - but so close to those money-inflated scores that no university in the nation would fail to consider her, especially with her grades and her many more important attributes taken into account.  Impressive Girl all around.

She still wants to stay in South Texas.

Hard times lately for lots of people we know.  Circling the wagons as much as possible to keep the family unit strong when the winds of too-much-going-on-in-too-many-ways are blowing hard.  

That kind of spring.  But we are okay.  Just busy and tired.  Still very blessed.  Very fortunate.

Happy Easter!

Coloring Easter eggs...

And the sidewalk....

Easter baskets...

 Hunting eggs...


Monday, March 25, 2013

Bless Me, Ultima

My sister and I went to see the movie  Bless Me, Ultima on Saturday night.  I did not think I was going to get to see it because it was supposed to be a special, limited engagement that ended before the weekend, but I guess it got extended. 

It was truly lovely.  It was hard for me to imagine how such a literary book would be as a movie, but it was wonderful.  

Even though it is about the New Mexico borderlands, it feels so much like it is about here.  It feels like home.  Even though I am just a white woman descended from hungry Irish people who decided they were sick of being hungry for food and got hungry for land instead, it still feels like my story, too, so much closer to me than those Irish land grabbers seem.  By hook or by crook, my family made this my home before I was born and it will always be the borderlands that feel like home to me forever. I don't have the right - that is certain - but I cannot help feeling its song in me just the same.  I truly don't want to colonize someone else's culture, but this is all we really know now, all we can know, so it feels like we share in it.

Corpus Christi is far enough away from the actual border that the identification may seem a little silly, but we are where the border was supposed to be and you can still feel it, glittering along the Nueces - that we are not really one thing or another here, but always both, all of us.

I looked around the theater, seeing who was there, listening to the old ladies whisper over it ... it was beautiful.  I am honored to be allowed to see it and to feel the beauty of it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Time Stress

I've been having a lot of dreams that are obviously related to stress over not having enough time to do everything I need to do.  Last night, I had three that I remember:

I dreamt that Lone Star Pa and I were traveling with some friends and a whole bunch of random children.  I kept trying to find time to sneak off and be alone with Lone Star Pa but people kept finding us.

I dreamt that I was on a long road trip with a bunch of Girl Scouts.  We found a shortcut in a bathroom that would take hours off of our road trip but were worried that we would get in trouble (what, with the Chronoguard?  I don't know) if we took it.

I dreamt I was trying very hard to coordinate a fractious group of people to accomplish some important task in the time allotted.

Kind of tells you all you need to know about my life these days.  I do not anticipate things becoming less busy anytime soon, though.  We soldier on.


The Lone Star Girl came home on Friday scratching at what she assumed was a mosquito bite on her back, but I looked at it and it is no mosquito bite.  The big giant lump is mighty reminiscent of the lumps she still gets when she gets her ant bite shots at the allergist's office, but rather yuckier from being scratched.  Still today.

I feel fortunate that at least there was no reaction besides a big lump and itching - thank you, ant bite shots.  She says there were a lot of ants in one of her classrooms Friday because some kid apparently left a piece of cake in a desk.  Good thing we don't know which kid or he/she might be getting a phone call.

I keep spraying Benadryl on it and wondering if maybe it's a weird spider bite instead, seeing as how her ant bite lumps usually only last one day.  


Mama Action Alert: Texas Senate Sucks on Education Funding, House Makes Some Small Progress

Last week, I called Senator Hinojosa's office twice about education funding.  Once, before the vote, to ask him to either fix Senate Bill One, the budget bill, to return more than a mere 28% of the over 5 billion (that's a B, yes, for Billion) in cuts made to education last Session or to vote No on the bill.  I called again, after the vote, to voice my extreme displeasure that he did neither.  Senator Hinojosa, unlike the Republicans in the Lege, does believe in public education and does want it to be well-funded, but he was not willing to hold up the budget with a No vote when there are other opportunities to restore more funding later in the process.  I think he was wrong.

SB1 passed with only two no votes - those of Senator Wendy Davis, Democrat from  Fort Worth and Senator Sylvia Garcia, Democrat of Houston.  Senator Davis and Senator Garcia both felt that public education in Texas was important enough that no budget should pass that did not fully restore its funding.  They kind of rock that way.

A day later, the House Appropriations Committee voted to add another 1 billion in funding (still a net return of slightly less than half of the cuts) and the Committee Chair, Representative Pitts, Republican from Waxahachie, said he plans to add $500 million in a supplemental spending bill for this fiscal year (though this kind of bill is really hard to pass, technically).   

(Imagine the House caring more than the Senate - weird.)

Debate and votes on the House budget should occur on April 4th - call your state representatives, mamas!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Like me
Waking up to find that spring is still
Equal parts swimming and drowning
My foot on that high wire
One half in darkness
One in day
I balance

Monday, March 18, 2013

House Republicans Back More Tax Cuts For The Rich

Though against raising wages for the poor and revenue for the nation through an increase in the minimum wage, House Republicans are all about increased buying power for the rich, even when it decreases revenue for the country.  Their newest budget proposal would cut the highest tax bracket from 39% down to 25%.

It is pretty obvious to anyone who pays attention that the Republicans Party cares about nothing except making the rich richer no matter cost to everyone else.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mama Action Alert: Oppose Senate Bill 957

A bill has been proposed in the Texas State Senate that would not allow Texas citizens the right to contested case hearings on water quality, air quality and waste permits.  Under Senate Bill 957, Texans would only be able to file for administrative review of a new or expanded waste water facility, landfill, power plant, mine, etc. after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality had already granted a permit (which, as we know, they will grant to anyone) and after the facility had begun construction.

Since it is pretty much too late for anyone to stop polluting industries under the current regulatory climate by that point.  

If SB 957 had been in effect in the past four years, hundreds of thousands of asthmatic Texas children would have been sucking petroleum coke and coal dust right now, and it would take years to make it stop, if it were even possible.  Including my asthmatic child.

This cannot be allowed to pass.  Please call your state senator on Monday and ask him or her to oppose Senate Bill 957.  Hurry, mamas!  The hearing is Tuesday.  Pass this on.

House Republicans Unanimously Vote Down Amendment To Raise Minimum Wage

An amendment to the SKILLS Act introduced by Representative Miller of California would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, gradually over the next two years.  It would also have raised the minimum wage of tipped employees to $7 per hour.  184 Democrats voted to support the amendment, but House Republicans unanimously voted it down.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Koch Brothers Closing In Further On Democracy

Cue the scary music. Word on the street is that corporate pollution giants and Congress-buyers extraordinaire, also known as the Koch brothers, are looking to purchase several major newspapers:   the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times.  

It just seems like there should be a way to stop this sort of thing.

White Smoke

Wow.  The cardinals did elect a Latin American pope who cares about the poor!  Who would have thought it? Pope Francis does not sound any better on social issues and it sounds like he has been at times unwilling to stand up to scary regimes, but I am hopeful that his priorities will be a big improvement!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Tarde is a Spanish word that means afternoon or evening.  When the Lone Star Baby was still in her Spanish-immersion pre-school, this was a time when she mostly was at school and only speaking Spanish, so she usually said the word in Spanish all the time, as she thought it in Spanish.

Her elementary school is a dual-immersion program and her school words are more and more often thought in English rather than Spanish now which makes me a little sad sometimes.

That said, she still says the word evening whether she means the time of day that most people who speak only English would call evening or the time that most people who speak only English would call afternoon.   I know that this is a remnant of the fact that, for her, the word tarde was learned first and she still thinks of evening and afternoon as that one word, even if she now says it to me in English.

I expect this will wear off eventually and one day she will start saying afternoon but I will never, ever suggest it. 

I treasure her tarde. 

Happy Girl Scout Week!

The Girl Scouts celebrated their 101st birthday yesterday!  Many happy returns!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Family Planning Crisis

In the 82nd Legislature, the Republican-controlled Lege cut 73 million in funding from family planning programs.  Texas left the federal Women's Health Program, losing federal funding for family planning services because it banned the use of agencies that were affiliated with agencies that might fund abortion (define affiliated?) in a thinly veiled campaign to defund Planned Parenthood, even though no federal or state money is ever, ever used for abortions.

The Legislative Budget Board, however, has stated that these cuts will result in 20,000 more unplanned births and cost Texas more than 200 million dollars.

So now Texas has launched a new state health program to try to replace some of the services lost.  Pity that Perry and his cronies still won't let the agencies that have professional expertise and a good track record of providing these services participate.

Saturday, March 09, 2013


The Lone Star Girl took the SAT today!  She says she thinks it went well!  I really enjoyed quizzing her on vocabulary a couple of times because I am La Word Geek, but mainly she studied alone and with friends.  She's a highly motivated individual.

Mama Action Alert: Bag Bans - Let Cities Choose

The plastics industry has managed to get a bill filed in the Texas Legislature that would prevent Texas cities from enacting bans on single-use plastic bags and prevent the enforcement of existing bans.

City revenues are the ones that are exhausted by having to clean up the ghostly hordes of discarded plastic bags that float like poisoned jellyfish on the wind, bog down in our waterways and endanger our wildlife.  Cities pay, should get to choose.

Call your state legislators, mamas, and ask them to  oppose HB 2416, because this should be an issue of local control.

If you are in the Coastal Bend, Representative Herrero's number is 512-463-0462 and Representative Hunter's number is 512-463-0672.


President Signs VAWA

On Thursday, President Obama signed into law a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act with Vice President Joe Biden, the author of the original 1994 bill, standing by his side.

The House had finally passed the reauthorization of VAWA on February 28th, with 138 Republicans still voting against it.

Friday, March 08, 2013

International Women's Day: End The Violence

Today is International Women's Day.  The theme this year is A Promise Is A Promise:  Time For Action To End Violence Against Women.

According to the United Nations, up to 50% of sexual assaults worldwide are committed against girls under the age of 16. 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not legally a crime.  70% of women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence.  Over 60 million girls worldwide are married before the age of 18.

Today, we, the women of Earth,  the mothers of humanity, call on our governments and all people to join together to end the global pandemic of violence against women.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Happy Texas Public Schools Week!

Here is hoping that the Texas Legislature will develop the conscience to listen to their constituents and return the $5.4 billion they cut from education, along with enough to soften the federal shortfall.  We can always pray.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

First Day School: Peace Testimony And The Zax

Girl Scout cookie booth sales kept me from Meeting during all of February.  I am not proud of this, but the reality of scheduling things that numerous people must attend is what it is and our Meeting does meet only twice a month, Sunday afternoons, while most people go to church in the morning, a fact I generally really appreciate, but no system is perfect.

The Lone Star Baby and I were very happy to return today.  There were, including us, eight people at Meeting today.  I think that may be a four-year record.  After Meeting for Worship, we even had a very nice little Meeting for Business and drafted our State of the Meeting report - so nice.

In First Day School, we reviewed our SPICES overview lesson and moved on to start studying the Peace Testimony.   We read The Zax by Dr. Suess and Cain and Abel: Finding The Fruits of Peace by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and pondered some queries about the stories and about peace.

I feel so close to the Lone Star Baby when we are at First Day School.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Game On: Battleground Texas

Find out how you can join the fight to turn Texas blue at Battleground Texas!

The Smell Of Sequester In The Morning

It is frustrating to hear so many ignorant people blame the president for the sequester.  Congress decides on the budget and the President's only role in this is that he will not approve a worse budget where all budget cuts are made on the backs of the poor and middle class as Congress desires.  The fault belongs to Congress and the President should not be blamed for not caving to their desire to exacerbate a corporately controlled caste system in America.

That being said, the sequester is awful.  Again, many in Congress are trying to shrug off this result of their refusal to compromise as no big deal - it's just 9% cuts domestically.  Programs should be able to handle that, they say.  They seem to be missing the fact that the across-the-board nature of the cuts makes them ever so much more difficult than that sounds.  If I had to cut nine percent out of my household budget, we'd stop eating out and buying breakfast tacos and coffee and books and we would pare our grocery budget down to beans and rice (or probably potatoes, since the girls dislike rice) and apples, supplemented by the fruit and greens that I grow in the yard.  We would not stop paying nine percent of our mortgage.  The details matter.

It also matters that we are coming out of the Great Recession and many people are still unemployed or underemployed and our education and social services budgets have already been mercilessly gutted so more cuts are pretty untenable.

In Texas, where our schools have been stripped to the bone already, we are looking at losing about $67.8 million in funding for primary and secondary education.  We are also looking at losing millions in nutrition assistance and public health funding.  And that's just a small portion of the cuts.

It's scary.  

I hope Congress decides to think of more than just the rich Americans soon.

Friday, March 01, 2013

VAWA Passes

The House of Representatives passed the (good) Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act yesterday in a 286 to 138 vote, with 87 Republicans joining all 199 Democrats in support of the bill.  I'm pretty excited about this (even though I doubt much programming will happen if the sequester does) because we are now seeing that some Republicans are going to go with public opinion and not with the Platform of Crazy.  Here's hoping that the whole "sense" thing catches on...