August 2007


31 Aug 2007 12:45 am

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Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The news media is all agog about the Memorial. Will there be an outpouring of sentiment by the English or are there enough English citizens left in Great Britain to remember? Ten years hath wrought much on that ancient island of Kings.

Much to make it less English.

Yes, I do remember where I was when Diana died. I was on my way to Washington, Pennsylvania to take my oldest daughter back to college. We stopped in Arkansas on the way to see my late father and mother-in-law, C.C. and Anna. It was their anniversary and the last one they would celebrate. My father-in-law had cancer and had finally been persuaded to put his dearly beloved into a nursing home.

She had suffered from Altzheimers for several years and he had tried his best to care for her himself. He refused to mention the dreaded “A” word, even though most of us suspected that she had the disease. My mother-in-law had been in the nursing home for only a few weeks and my father-in-law missed her dreadfully. They had been reunited on August 31st, 1997 to have an anniversary dinner. My daughter and I were visiting with him and the news flash came on the television that Diana had been in a terrible accident in a tunnel in Paris.

C.C. wasn’t much concerned about the news and we were concerned about him so we didn’t focus on it. We left soon because he was in great pain and we didn’t want to distress him. He preferred to be alone in his pain. He died twenty five days later.

Witnessing that kind of pain in a very proud man who didn’t want to scream out in front of his granddaughter made the death of Diana seem insignificant to me at the time.

I was among the 2.5 billion people worldwide who witnessed Diana’s funeral on television on September 6th but that day was my birthday and I didn’t want to dwell on such a sad event.

It’s almost as if the United Kingdom has gone the way of Diana. Spurned by her husband, she turned to other men for solace. When the divorce came, she lost her treasured title, Her Royal Highness. She chose to chafe the Royal family by cavorting on a yacht with a Muslim, Dodi Al-Fayed, son of an enemy of the royal family, Mohamed Al-Fayed. Her relationship with him led to her death.

But what of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry the Eighth? I remember visiting the place of her execution on the Tower Green twice during a span of years we visited London.

Henry the Eighth, in an attempt to have a son and heir, turned to Anne, perhaps with the idea of making her his mistress. She refused, he became besotted with her and eventually, in order to divorce Katherine of Aragon to marry Anne, Henry separated the Church of England from the Church of Rome. When Anne’s first child turned out to be a daughter, the future, Gloriana, Queen Elizabeth the First, within three years Anne was out of favor, accused of adultery and beheaded.

History does tell instructive stories and the story of Anne Boleyn could have been illuminating to Diana, had she ever studied it.

Yes, Diana, Princess of Wales was a beautiful bride, a radiant mother and a glowing celebrity.

An English rose.

Had her husband actually loved and cherished her, the story would have ended differently. But it didn’t.

28 Aug 2007 04:35 pm

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I just saw Senator Larry Craig vehemently deny that he was gay at his brief news conference this afternoon. (with his poor wife standing alongside him.) My question is, why in the world did he plead guilty to charges if he did nothing wrong? The police officer stated that Craig did some funny footwork in the bathroom stall.

Has Senator Craig ever taken tap-dancing lessons?

Most airports have executive clubs or lounges for people who want a private place to stay while waiting for a flight. I am wondering why Senator Craig didn’t take advantage of that instead of going into a public bathroom with all the rest of humanity? That is odd. There is a lot that is odd in his behavior.

Whether this is a hit job or not, Senator Craig brought it on himself. In his news conference today Senator Craig claimed that a cloud is over Idaho. Why is a cloud over Idaho? The state itself is not to blame. The cloud is over Senator Larry Craig alone.

When my kids were little I was warned by a friend who had recently discovered that her husband was gay (after an eleven year marriage and two children) to never allow my son to go to a public bathroom because that was where many homosexuals met up. That was pretty shocking information but it was very helpful.

This whole episode is pretty disgusting and has provided much more information than I ever wanted to know. I believe that Hugh Hewitt is right. Craig should have resigned back in June.

Senator Craig passed the point of saving his reputation today by holding a news conference in which he thanked everyone for “coming out” and then went on to make excuses for himself. His actions in the Minneapolis Airport brought the focus of the world on the filty and lewd conduct that sometimes takes place in mens restrooms. No parent wants their son to confront such a scene. I was hoping that Craig would announce he was resigning this afternoon.

No such luck.

27 Aug 2007 09:14 pm

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I will never forget the day I went to the grocery store searching for arragonna. It was the key ingredient of the pizza recipe that I had coaxed out of Mr. Porta, our next door neighbor and proprietor of “Portas”, a very popular eatery in our home town. Mr. and Mrs. Porta’s tiny cafe was part Italian, and part American. Their hickery smoked beef and sauce was to die for. So were their hamburgers, fries and salads. I loved their pizza burger best. My sister was fond of their spaghetti. At any time of the day one could find lines of eager customers outside of the restaurant. Mr. Porta put up a sign in his cafe that said, “Duncan Hines never ate here. He couldn’t find a seat.”

Part of the charm of Portas was the banter between Mr. Porta and the customers. He stood in front of his grill, quickly working the food while he made multiple conversations.

Our family always felt lucky to have the Portas as our neighbors. They had four children and the two youngest were close in age to us and became our best friends. Every cat in the neighborhood also benefitted from Mr. Porta’s largess. Every night when he came home from work, he had leftovers for them. He even fed our pet chicken, Crip.

So when I wanted to learn how to make pizza I went straight to the expert. Mr. Porta’s family were immigrants from Italy. He and his brothers had come to the United States with their parents when they were very young. Several of his brothers also had great restaurants.

I was eighteen years old the year I tried to make Mr. Porta’s pizza. I had made the Chef Boyardee from the box pizza mix ever since I was thirteen. It was never very good. The crust was either too hard or tasted like cardboard. My family always made me feel like an excellent cook even though I knew I was not. Mr. Porta set a high standard for me. So I was thrilled when he gave me his recipe. Actually he told me his recipe and I wrote it down.

So there I was in the grocery store trying to find the arragonna. I’d found the tomato sauce, the mozzarella and parmesan cheese but I couldn’t find the arragonna in the spice aisle. I asked one of the clerks if they had any arragonna but they looked at me like I was from the moon. “Never heard of that.” the clerk replied.

I went to another grocery store and couldn’t find the arragonna there either. Frustrated, I explained to the store manager that I couldn’t find a key ingredient in the pizza I was going to make. He thought a little and said, “Maybe you’re looking for oregano. It’s what my wife uses when she makes her pizza.” I checked the shelf and there it was.

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The oregano.

When I wrote down the recipe verbatum I distinctly remembered Mr. Porta’s pronunciation of the word, oregano, and it sure wasn’t the way it was spelled on the container or the way the store clerk pronounced it. I was still doubtful that it was the ingredient that Mr. Porta called for but I bought it, took it home and made the pizza. It was okay. Better than the Chef Boyardee box pizza but nothing like Mr. Porta’s. He could have been holding out on me I suppose, but I think it was the crust that wasn’t as good as his.

I still pronounce oregano, arr-a-gonna in honor of my favorite Italian cook, Mr. Roger Porta. Although Mr. and Mrs. Porta died in the late eighties and their cafe is no longer around I still think of them everytime I add oregano to any dish. I miss them for more than their fine cooking, they were wonderful people.

Mr. Porta’s Pizza

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2/3 cups warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
5/8 teaspoon active dry yeast

flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
pizza sauce
2/3 lb mozzarella cheese
1/4 lb Romano and Parmesan cheese
chopped basil
garlic powder
onion powder
oregano (Mr. Porta didn’t tell me the exact amount of seasoning to use.)

Pizza Sauce

1 (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes

Preheat the oven to 475°F

Mix the warm water and sugar in a small bowl until blended together.
Add the yeast and mix well. Then wait about five to ten minutes.

While you’re waiting, mix the flour, salt and olive oil in large bowl.

Once the yeast/water mixture is ready, add it to the flour mixture and stir. Continue to mix until you get a doughy mass that is smooth and elastic. If it is still sticky, add some extra flour to it (It’s okay if dough is slightly sticky).

Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Roll the ball in the bowl so that it is covered in oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place; let rise for at least an hour. While you’re waiting you can make the pizza sauce.

Place dough on a floured surface.
Punch it down and work into a circle. The dough should be smooth and elastic and easy to work with. If not, add a pinch full of flour and rub it on top of the dough.

Use your hands to spread out the dough. Place on pizza sheet. Brush the pizza crust with olive oil. Then top with pizza sauce and cheeses. Then, add the herbs and any other topping of your choice.

Bake for one hour at 475°F (or when it looks done)

Speaking of dishes, Sisu has been cooking up a storm.

22 Aug 2007 12:03 pm

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I’m back in school and planning for a great year with my art students. I’ve added a plaster bust of a Greek woman to my classroom. I did the sculpture in my freshman year in college and it has sat on my father’s rolltop desk in his den since 1969. He let me take it to school under protest. But this year has a Greek theme to it.

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I’m sorry that my blogging has been nonexistent of late. I have been very busy getting ready for school. I know that I sometimes make the mistake of thinking that bloggers have no other life except for their existence on their blogs. It’s similar to the notions of many school kids who are surprised to learn that their teachers live in houses with families instead of at school.

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It’s good being back in school. It brings September and October that much closer. My brother and son will be home from Iraq then. Heaven protect them.

16 Aug 2007 11:55 pm

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Art by Laura Lee Donoho

I don’t believe Hillary Clinton will win the 2008 Presidential election and here are the reasons why:

Hillary’s beating Barrack Obama and John Edwards in the polls. (or rather they are beating themselves.) The problem is, there are few real men in high places in the Democrat Party.

Consider the petulant Harry Reid, the bloated Ted Kennedy and the car salesman, Chuck Schumer. None of these prominent Democrat males seem to understand that what defines maleness is not how lucky they get with women or how smoothly they can make a deal. It’s integrity that defines a man. Also, real men rarely whine.

Hillary hasn’t an honest bone in her body. And the tone of her voice is cringeworthy.

When Hillary is stacked next to a Giuliani or a Romney she won’t have the advantage of being the real man in the campaign as she does now.

That Hillary, in her new campaign ad, claims she will unify the country is beyond ludicrous. She, who can turn on a dime when it will benefit her, has never demonstrated character or integrity. Some prominent conservatives believe the campaign ad is good because it is well produced. I believe it is a cunning fisherman’s tale which appeals only to those who believe they are “invisible” to the government.

Most of us know we are not invisible to the government. Especially on April 15th.

08 Aug 2007 10:42 am

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Our beloved Captain, February 11th, 1994 - August 6th, 2007

We lost our Cappy two days ago. This past weekend he began to have labored breathing so on Monday I took him to our vet. I knew he hadn’t been doing well for the past two weeks but I was in denial. I knew that when I took him to the vet it would be for the last time. I was putting off the inevitable. But when Captain began to gasp for air I put him in the car and drove him to the vet. He listened to his chest and told me that it was full of fluid. The first X-ray showed nothing but fluid and perhaps some tumors but it wasn’t clear enough for a real diagnosis. So the vet gave Captain something to help his kidneys rid his body of the fluid and waited to take another X-ray. The tumors were large and revealed there was very little lung function left.

My husband, daughter and I were there in the backroom of the vet clinic, petting Captain and considering the hopeless prognosis. We could take him home for a few days to love him and receive the great love he always offered and then bring him back before the other horrible symptoms such as seizures presented or we could make Monday, August 6th, the day he would leave us.

Considering the events of this weekend and Captains’ inability to move around (and obvious pain) we couldn’t take him home for more of that.

We made the dreaded decision.

We took Cappy home one more time but it was the saddest trip we have ever made with him.

Captain lies near the backyard bushes he would hide under when he was able to escape the house. The deep pink Crepe Myrtles are beautiful right now and they provide shade for him.

Captain, with his lion-like personality, enriched every year we spent with him. One extremely cold winter night in February, 1994 at Fort Drum, New York as we were going to sleep, I could hear a cat calling outside. It was sixteen degrees below zero, (not the wind chill, the actual temperature) and the snow was piled high. The cat was meowing loudly and sounded so mournful. I had a hard time sleeping that night thinking about him. I couldn’t imagine how any animal could survive in that frigid environment. We were living in Army housing at Fort Drum and the thought that any person would send their pet out of doors or abandon them made me angry.

I was haunted by the clamor the cat made and determined to rescue him. He was like the town caller, calling to all who would listen, to rescue him. The next morning I put our cat, Abbey’s pet carrier outside on the front doorstep, with dry food and water in it. I placed a blanket on top to give the carrier some kind of warmth. The water kept freezing so I would put hot water from the tap into the bowl and change it every hour because it would freeze so quickly. I kept opening the door to check to see if we had a boarder in the little shelter but all day Saturday there were no takers. Sunday morning I opened the door and there he was, sitting inside the carrier. I shut the door to it and quickly brought him inside putting the carrier in the bathroom.

We already had two cats, Abbey and Sabby, so I wanted to make sure the huge cat inside the carrier wasn’t wild. I opened the door to the pet carrier and let the cat out to get a good look at him. He immediately meowed at me and rubbed his body next to my legs. I bent down to pet him and he licked my hand. It was love at first sight for me. My husband was a battalion commander at the time and always at work and on that Sunday he came home at lunch and found me sitting with our soon to be named “Captain”. Bob harrumphed and fussed, saying we didn’t need another cat. It was good that I had rescued him, he told me but he wanted me to take the cat to the Humane Society the next day.

I made sure my husband was present when I called the Watertown Humane Society on the following Monday. I asked them what their policy was with stray cats. Did they euthanize them if they didn’t find a home? They did. After I got off the phone I looked at my husband and he said, “we’re keeping him.”

I took Captain to the vet in Watertown to make sure he was in good health and he was. The vet thought he was about two years old. We knew he must have been someone’s pet so I made a flyer and put it around the neighborhood advertising that we had found a great cat. I hoped no one would claim him though. Thankfully, no one did.

Our youngest daughter, Charlotte suggested naming him Captain because she thought he was a brave cat. My husband said that he was a better company commander than any of his own Captains so he was officially named Captain. It wasn’t long before he acquired the nickname, Cappy and one day while enjoying Captain’s presence, my husband made up a song about him called, Captain the Wonder Cat. He earned that title.

Captain loved all of us but his absolute favorite person was my husband, Bob. Captain loved to be near him and slept right near his legs every night. He had a special chair that Captain liked to sit on in the computer room and if anyone was sitting in it when Captain wanted in it they were ordered by Bob to get up and let Captain sit in it. If Bob was in the den watching t.v. Captain was on his lap. They had a very special bond.

Captain was like a giant to our other two cats, Sabby and Abbey, yet, he was the gentlest of all giants. He never sought out a fight with the other two cats but would defend himself when attacked. He loved to play, chase and romp through the house. Although the other cats were afraid of balloons, Captain loved to play balloon soccer, chasing the balloons through the house. When Captain came through the room with a balloon the other cats would scatter.

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He was also the prankster, walking across the piano keys at three a.m. and planting a live mouse on the end of the bed when my husband was out of town. Captain was the ring leader of the celebration by our cats of the National Bad Cat Days.

Everywhere we lived, Captain, being an outdoorsman, always managed to catch a moment when a door was left ajar or a window without a screen was open. He would take off, leaving us searching everywhere to find him. But several times when we couldn’t find him, Captain came home on his own. He had chosen us. Something tells me he knew from the beginning that we had receptive ears at the house on Fort Drum and that is why he called us.

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Captain, along with Sabby and Abbey, went through many moves with our Army family but when we went to Germany it was Captain alone who made the trip. Sabby and Abbey stayed with our daughters at their college apartment. Sabby and Abbey went to college, Captain went abroad.

Cappy loved being in command at our home in Germany. Being the most social of all of our cats, he became very popular with all of our friends and guests from overseas. When I would leave to go to work the last year we were stationed in Germany he would be in the living room window to farewell me and when I came home he would be there in the window to welcome me.

Captain made his home with us, staying close by, keeping us company. If Captain were a character in literature he would be Thomas Hardy’s Gabriel Oak,

At home by the fire, whenever I look up, there you will be. And whenever you look up, there I shall be.

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BLESS LITTLE CAPTAIN, WHO SOLDIERS ON IN OUR MEMORIES

Thanks to those who have visited from the Modulator’s Friday Ark #151 and to Momma Grace and Company, the hosts of this weeks Carnival of the Cats #177. I really appreciate your kind words.

04 Aug 2007 01:48 am

The New Republic’s Frank Foer’s pathetic attempt to smear the great soldiers serving our country in Iraq by using the anti-war invective of pansy-assed leftist, Scott Beauchamp has backfired big-time.

Instead of considering milbloggers like Acute Politic’s Teflon Don, who continues to provide breathtakingly powerful prose describing the day to day work of our soldiers, Foer and company decided to go with the familiar and comfortable within their own little anti-war sphere. It didn’t matter at all to Foer whether Beauchamp was telling the truth or not. He was supposed to provide the example of the embittered war-weary, soldier, scarred by all the death, blood and violence he had encountered during his service.

Perhaps Foer’s only exposure to the military has been through anti-war movies, such as Apocalypse Now so he doesn’t personally know anyone in the military except maybe Wesley Clark. (and what would he know since he has also drinks Leftist Koolaid?)

Foer ought to broaden his horizon if not for himself at least for the New Republic. Scott Beauchamp joins the ranks of Stephen Glass, the fabricator and gives the publication a well deserved black eye.

The fine soldiers who serve our country continue to serve, despite the brickbats of the left. Some have paid the ultimate price and others have even given an arm and leg in their countries’ service and still would serve.

On Memorial Day weekend SPC Marco Robledo of the 875th Engineers was seriously injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle near Balad, Iraq. Another soldier from the 875th, SPC Eric Smallwood was killed in the same incident. We had heard that Robledo’s injuries were very serious and although that turns out to be the case it hasn’t stopped this great young American soldier.

But there is also an amazing story of survival from that Memorial Day weekend IED attack, and Specialist Marco Robledo of Clarksville has lived to tell it.

(Spc. Marco Robledo, Injured Soldier) “I realized that I had been hit. I had very little consciousness of where I was at or what was going on–and for some reason, I couldn’t move. I could barely even breathe. At that moment, I started praying, and I think God saved my life.”

This is a story worth reading. This young man wants to stay in the military even though he will have to work for another year to complete his recovery.

01 Aug 2007 11:21 pm

I’m concerned about my cousin, Dave who lives near Minneapolis, MN. I talked to his sister, Nancy and he hasn’t called his family tonight. Today is my Aunt’s 83rd birthday and her son always calls her. My cousin, Nancy says she’s not sure how often he goes over the bridge since he now lives in Mankato but he does work in Minneapolis as far as I know.

Dave’s probably just unable to get through on the phone.

The photos of the collapse are heart rending. We have other friends who live near Minneapolis and are waiting to hear from them too.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all who are affected by this catastrophic event.

The mighty Minnesota league of distinguished bloggers have been covering the bridge collapse tonight and are providing updated news.

James Lileks

John Hinderaker at Powerline

Ed Morrisey at Captains Quarters

SCSU Scholars

UPDATE: My cousin and his wife are safe. They just couldn’t get through on the phones.

01 Aug 2007 09:57 pm

Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Long Quiz!!!
created with QuizFarm.com

You scored as Elinor Dashwood,As Marianne’s older sister, Elinor lives at the other end of the emotional spectrum. She rarely reveals her intense feelings and is more concerned with being honest and loyal than having what she deserves. Even though her intentions are pure, she sets herself up for loss by constantly placing other people before her own needs. Overall, Elinor is gentle and rational but is just as capable of radical emotions (despite her withholding them) as her sister.

Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Long Quiz!!!
created with QuizFarm.com

Elinor Dashwood

84%

Jane Bennet

78%

Elizabeth Bennet

69%

Emma Woodhouse

63%

Charlotte Lucas

59%

Marianne Dashwood

50%

Lady Catherine

28%

Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Long Quiz!!!
created with QuizFarm.com

01 Aug 2007 02:47 pm

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Now that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has been released from the hospital and the usual suspect/leftists are (hopefully) recovering from their convulsive fits of glee at another person’s distress, some of us have been thinking about the effects epilepsy has on the lives of loved ones who suffer from the condition.

Jack Lewis has an interesting post up about his own problem with “benign idiopathic seizures.”

In 1983 I had a grand mal seizure. I’d suffered for years from short “black outs” following periods of lack of sleep. The neurologist put me on seizure medication that summer to see if it could control it, but as I left for college that August I forgot the medicine. Being August, in Arkansas, in a dorm with no air-conditioning, I got very little sleep that first night back, and the next morning rather than a simple “black-out” I had a full-blown seizure. I was on the medication until 1997 when a different neurologist wanted to see if my original seizure was caused by going off the medicine too quickly. I went off the medicine slowly, and everything seemed fine, for several months until one morning I again had a seizure.

Epilepsy also runs in my family. My grandmother developed it as an adult after she gave birth to my mother. She was advised to have no more children. My grandmother suffered grand mal seizures for the rest of her life but it didn’t stop her one iota. She was a brilliant person who went to college at the age of sixteen with a chemistry scholarship. She and my grandfather ran a dry cleaning business and after my grandfather’s death at the age of sixty kept the business going for quite a few years. She never drove a car but that didn’t stop her from getting where she wanted to go. She walked.

In our family the seizures were called spells.

When my mother was in her mid-thirties she suffered a grand mal seizure while in a college class and after she arrived at the hospital had another one. Tests indicated that she also suffered from epilepsy so she went on medication and has never suffered another seizure.

I do think that high intelligence brings with it a tendency to overuse certain areas of the brain. My son’s best friend has also been diagnosed with epilepsy. It first occurred when he was a teen, then went away until his mid-twenties when it returned with a vengeance. He is unable to drive but that hasn’t stopped him. He is a missionary currently serving in Africa.

Growing up with relatives who suffered from epilepsy may have made life more serious to me. I do remember how scared it made me when my own little brother suffered some seizures and I was the one who discovered them. He outgrew the malady, thankfully, by his teens.

But I will never forget one summer day when I was about ten, sitting with my family at my brother’s baseball game and a man fell to the ground with a grand mal seizure. The crowd grew very quiet except for some teenagers who started to point and laugh. A man jumped out of the bleachers and gave assistance to the seizing man and another woman took on the laughing punks. I still remember the looks on the kids’ faces when she was finished with them.

May Chief Justice John Roberts long serve our country on the Supreme Court, rendering justice and wise decisions. I wish that same fierce lady was around today to take on the leftist adolescents praying for Robert’s demise.