Sunday, November 4, 2007

san francisco

recently returned from a much needed vacation to san francisco, where m and i lived for 4 1/2 years before moving to philly.

here is m on ocean beach, where i took a long nap within 4 hours of touching down in the city.

here is the antiwar march, which ended in dolores park.

and here is a group of people participating in the first annual "thrill the world" contest. they are part of a worldwide effort to break the guinness world record for largest simultaneous dance. they're dancing to michael jackson's thriller.

san francisco has a warm place in my heart for many reasons, including osento, little otsu, burritos, this guy, and this guy (both guys were at the antiwar march), and our wonderful friends who hosted us with warmth and style.

that said, i love our new home. we took a riverloop boat tour and i snapped this photo while floating down the schuylkill.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I Know the Way You Can Get

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one's self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love's


That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.


Dear one,
Indeed, please bring your heart near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!

From: 'I Heard God Laughing - Renderings of Hafiz'
Daniel Ladinsky

A moment ago before I found this poem
in my inbox I was feeling really grumpy
and mad. I arrived at the train station
to retrieve my bike and bike home only to
find that my bike was missing a wheel.
This, on top of having an obscenely long day
made me want to a) have a temper tantrum
b) cry c) move out of the city d) hate Philly.
But then I read this poem and with some gentle
reminders from M ringing in my ears, I remembered
that today I have had many drinks of love - not
least of which was the realization that I had
lots of offers of practical help and support
when I put out the distress call about my bike.
It is lovely to realize that you have a community
of people who are willing to make late-night
sacrifices for you.

And, I was returning to get my bike from an awesome
fundraiser for Girl's Leadership Camp, an organization
that I am on the Advisory Board for. I was awed by the
amount of excitement and support folks had for the idea
of an all-girls, affordable, sleepaway camp for Philly
girls, and that people were willing to financially
support us. When I added up how much we made, it
symbolized for me what can happen when people really
believe in something- that passion can be contagious
and can generate needed gifts.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

jena 6

this weekend i had my first letter to the editor of the philadelphia inquirer published.
i was responding to this guy's racist and infuriating letter. of course my letter was edited down a lot, but you can still get the gist.
Here's my letter, which was published on Saturday:

I was saddened to read "The real victim in Jena is white," (letter, Sept. 24). The letter is a reminder that ignorance and racism exist even in a big city, not just in a small Southern town.

The writer says the uproar over the arrest of the "Jena Six" "has white people shaking our heads" and that the "real victim" is the white student.

I am white, and the author does not speak for me. Nor does he speak for my white family members, my white friends, or the white members of my church. He is right about one thing: The white people I know are "shaking our heads." We're shaking our heads in disgust and outrage at the persistence of racism in our criminal "justice" system.

For more information on the Jena 6 case, check Color of Change or
Free the Jena 6.

where i've been

hi faithful readers,

i apologize for my long absence.
both of my parents were recently hospitalized. my mom had a life-threatening medical event, and is still recovering at home. so i've been otherwise occupied but missing this space and dialogue with you all.

i can't promise i'll be posting often but will try to drop by on a more regular basis. for those of you who are not already email subscribers, feel free to sign up (top right corner where it says "subscribe to gloveandherspecialsauce by email") so you don't have to stop by to know when i've posted.

thanks to all of you who have emailed and sent cards and called and sent food and given hugs. you are appreciated.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

red hot

thanks for all your responses via email (and ms. pea and jen who left comments here) to my last post. not surprisingly, many of you had strong feelings and smart ideas on the topic and i really appreciate you sharing them with me!

it's 9pm and 88 degrees out.

this morning i had to do a workshop for a group of youth. it turns out that they were much younger than my usual crowd - i found myself in a very comfy, broken arm chair with a circle of 12 nine-year-olds sitting in a circle on a rug around me. they were supposed to go on a really cool field trip, but because the program had forgotten and then remembered that i was coming, the youth ended up not going on the trip and instead had to listen to ... me. talk about ... domestic violence. yeah. sounds rough right? well, these kids were so incredibly thoughtful and polite and smart that when, after a really great 25 minute conversation, they started rolling around on the rug and giggling, i figured i was in the clear to cut my hour presentation to 25 minutes.

i escaped unscathed out into the blazing sun to wait for a bus. miraculously (if you've never experienced SEPTA just take my word for it that it was a miracle), the bus arrived within 2 minutes. i got on the bus for a short trip to the train station. i descended into the urine-smelling, muggy station and found a seat. another miracle. the train pulled into the station no longer than 5 minutes later. at my station, i slowly moved up the stairs back into the blazing sun only to see - my bus! waiting at the corner for me! what could have been a slow, hot hour long trip took 20 blessedly air conditioned minutes.

there is clearly a god.

and then, at work, after eating a deliciously bad lunch (we're talking milkshake and mozzerrella sticks here) i was suffering from a pretty serious food coma. and then my friend and co-worker who works at a different site and who i never see and miss, stopped by. she was in the building for a meeting and immediately offered me some of her coffee. manna from heaven.

isn't it amazing how small surprises/coincidence/blessings (call them what you will) can make you feel on top of the world?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

name changes

sorry for my long absence. an absence of air conditioning and a reliable internet connection have kept me away.

today i received the annual report of the alternatives to marriage project, an organization that advocates "for equality and fairness for unmarried people, including people who are single, who choose not to marry, cannot marry, or live together before marriage." alternatives to marriage project is one of the few organizations i give financial support to on a regular basis.

but today i'm not going to write about discrimination against unmarried people. instead i'm going to tell you about one (of many) of the bureaucratic/legal parts of marriage that make me glad i chose a different path. the feminist majority foundation reports that only six states allow men to take their wives last names on the marriage application. men can go through the process that anyone uses if they want to make a legal name change, but this is much more expensive than just doing it on the marriage application.

i believe in the power of naming. that names can signify togetherness, bonds, commitment, love, a familial relationship. names can also give a sense of identity, and when taken away feel like a loss of identity. so why is it that heterosexual couples are often brow beaten into a decision which means the wife takes the husband's last name? there are many reasons why a couple might choose to share the wife's last name instead of the husband's. i think hyphenation is a great short-term solution. but what if your child grows up and gets married? what if they get married to another person with a hyphenated last name?

if anyone has thoughts on the matter of naming, i'd love to hear them. leave me a comment or send me an email. if you are married or partnered, how did you make your decision?
i'll be back after i return from my long awaited vacation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

road trip, part III

i'm not really a sports person.
i can't follow most games, and don't have the energy or interest to keep tabs on any particular team.

i do, however, really enjoy going to baseball games.
while mike and i were in the bay area, i got hooked on really cheap seats at a's games.
as part of my commitment to making philly my home, i've started going to phillies games.

the thing is, baseball is 1) easy to follow and understand and 2) not particularly aggressive or violent. both of these things appeal to me.
going to baseball games means hours of 1) enjoying beautiful summer weather 2) eating garlic fries 3) socializing with friends. who can argue with this?

we went to an a's vs. oriole's game on our road trip. here's some pics from the game and the awesome fireworks afterwards. thanks hiram for hooking us up with great seats!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

road trip, part II

babies i fell in love with on this trip...
this is my friend kg's baby.
as you can see, he's a busy guy.
eating fresh pasta his fabulous parents just made.
making phone calls.
smiling at new people and giggling for his mom.

this is sophia. she's also a busy baby. here she's exploring her feminine side - holding my purse and grabbing my earrings and generally being charming. that's her dad in the picture to the left and her grandad on the right.
i love watching people i care about parent. i give a big shout out to all my friends who are parenting with amazing patience, grace, humor, thoughtfulness, bravery, and love.

Friday, June 1, 2007

road trip, part I

back in philly after a rejuvenating, relaxing road trip.
i have lots of stories and a few pictures to share, so i thought i'd give you a report back over the next few days and posts.

my first few stories revolve around signs.

on our way to visit friends in lynchburg, virginia (what a horrible name for a town!) we passed many businesses with signs such as "our prayers are with the falwell family" and "god bless jerry falwell." for those of you who are not familiar with mr. falwell, he is the founder of the moral majority and was a major force on the reactionary right who founded liberty university, near lynchburg. he was a sexist, racist, homophobic bigot. these signs reminded me that i was no longer at home. my circles tended to react to falwell's death with more of this kind of sentiment than pure, unadulterated sympathy.

after leaving lynchburg, VA we had a long drive to hilton head, SC. i was awed and grateful for the many beautiful patches of wildflowers growing in the median of the highway. while craning my neck to get a better look, i caught a sign that let me know that i could thank NCDOT's Wildflower Program for these wonderful bursts of color in the middle of the highway. i didn't get pictures of the more beautiful patches because i was just smiling and laughing and enjoying them, and then they were gone. but here's one i did get. it amazes me how much simple joy flowers can bring.

we finished our trip with a visit to f.pea and grady in raleigh, NC. f.pea had suggested that we meet up at neomonde, a bakery/cafe with mediterranean food. mike and i couldn't find the place, so stopped at a wafflehouse to ask directions. four employees and one customer politely informed us that they had never even HEARD of this restaurant. we called f.pea. it turns out that the restaurant was RIGHT BEHIND wafflehouse, only hidden by some trees and a railroad track. isn't it funny how we all have our routine, our favorite places to gather and eat, and how easy it is to be ignorant of those places and people outside our usual circles? this incident reminded me that there are amazing surprises right under my nose if i can open my eyes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

summer blessings

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it
nothing fancy.
But it seems impossible.
Whatever the subject, the morning sun
glimmers it.
The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open
and becomes a star.
The ants bore into the peony bud and there is the dark
pinprick well of sweetness.
As for the stones on the beach, forget it.
Each one could be set in gold.
So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course the birds
were singing.
And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
out of their leaves.
And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and
beautiful silence
as comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we’re not too
hurried to hear it.
As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs
even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing,
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing,
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing too,
and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm stones,
So happy to be where they are, on the beach, instead of being
locked up in gold.

-- Mary Oliver

Things I am grateful for tonight:

I am lucky enough to be on vacation! We are leaving tomorrow to take a road trip to visit friends whom we rarely see because we tend to go north not south on our wanderings. Over the next five days we will be visiting friends in Falls Church, VA, Alexandria, VA, Charlottesville, VA, Lynchburg, VA, and Raleigh, NC. We'll also be spending a few days relaxing in Hilton Head, SC.

The weather is perfect. I'm leaving for a road trip tomorrow morning with my sweetheart. I will be away from the office for five days. I just ate two delicious slices of homemade sourdough bread (thanks Alanna!). I did a presentation today with Mike for the first time ever - and it was a success! We presented to a group of legal aid lawyers/workers on how to do "fun and effective community education" at their statewide conference. Last night I sat outside at the hotel the conference was at and drank a glass of red wine and enjoyed the lovely night breeze. Today I took a nap by the river in Harrisburg (where the conference was). Today walking home from the train station we ran into some neighbors who were reminscing about how the neighborhood used to be - they have both lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years. Today I heard Jonathon Kozol speak and was reinspired to work on the racism and segregation that plague our schools.

I will be back here in a week with pictures and stories from our trip. Until then, I hope you all are enjoying your own summer blessings.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

at long last

i have a moment and some energy to sit down and blog.
sorry for the long absence!

i thought i'd share some of what i've been up to...both the good and the not-so-good.
a lot of the last few weeks has been spent in sadness. two co-workers are going through incredibly hard times - one recently lost her six month old baby and the other is struggling with advancing cancer and a terribly unjust health system that would not approve the surgery that she desperately needs. luckily she is a domestic violence advocate, so has the skills to advocate for herself. she appealed the insurance company's decision to not pay for the surgery and ... she won! she'll be having the surgery at the end of the month. that is at least some small solace.

on a brighter note, i had the opportunity to be a part of the student's constitutional rights institute, a project of the american civil liberties union PA that brings together students to explore the role of the law in LGBT people's lives. the students participated in a mock supreme court argument using a real case from florida in which a gay couple were denied the right to adopt an HIV-positive child who they had been caring for for many years as a foster child. the students were absolutely brilliant - they were thinking critically, making smart arguments, and all the while doing it with a sense of humor and wit that i often find hard to maintain in the face of such oppression and prejudice. it was really amazing to see in these LGBT youth and their allies the next generation of leaders in the movement fighting for equal rights for LGBT people.

the weather has turned lovely in philly. this has meant trips to phillies games and discovering that there is national park right outside of the city! it's called the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. the refuge is home to over 300 species of birds.

on one recent warm sunday afternoon i headed out to art buggy. art buggy is a competition in which participants create a buggy using recycled (or new) materials that must be 1) fast and 2) create a piece of art when the buggy is pushed. as the website says, "The art should capture a record of the journey through mark making." poetic, huh? buggys are paired together and put to the test in heats. in a buggy derby. quite
fabulous and fantastic. here are some pictures so you can get a sense of the creativity and fun
that ensued...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

dangerous visions

i love the sun magazine. it's sometimes inspiring, often sappy, and always (at least in part) depressing. but it's also well written and in every issue i find a nugget (or two, or three) of truth.

the latest issue has an interview with irish poet and philosopher john o'donohue.

i wanted to share with you one nugget of truth about relationships from o'donohue that i thought was beautifully said:

There is a way in which we treat our relationships almost like a colonial expedition: we want to colonize the space, all the territory in between, until there is no wilderness left. Most couples who have deadened in each other's presence have colonized their space this way. They have domesticated each other beyond recognition. Sometimes you see a beautiful woman who quickens your heart. Then you meet her again years later, and she has become a domesticated relic of who she once was, and you think, Where is the dangerous vision that I saw in her? The same happens to men.

I think it is more interesting to be with somebody who still has his or her wilderness territory -- and by that I don't mean bleak, burned-out, damaged areas where wounding has occurred; rather, I mean genuine wilderness. Upon seeing that in the other person, you promise yourself:
One thing I will never do is try to domesticate her wilderness. Because the authenticity of her difference and the purity of her danger and the depth of her affection are all being secretly nourished by that wilderness, as all of my spirit is being nourished by my own wilderness.

John O'Donohue in "The Unseen Life that Dreams Us," The Sun Magazine April 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

kick ass little girl responds to monsters

watch the video. she rocks.

spring has sprung on locust street!

everywhere i look out my bedroom windows spring has arrived. it's glorious.
who cares if snow is in the forecast for tomorrow?

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

update on bush's family planning appointee

just a short note to share some good news...
on november 30th i told you about eric keroack, bush's family planning appointee to health and human services who is anti-choice and anti-birth control.

well, just four months later, he has resigned! hooray!

in other news...there is a new "movement" afoot called generation life.

this is a group of youth who are committing themselves to remaining virgins until they are married. they also come out and intimidate the patients at the abortion clinic where i volunteer.
if you need any proof that the abstinence-until-marriage folks are operating from a misogynistic, patriarchal viewpoint, just check out this page of the gen life website.

some of my favorites:
  • "A Real Woman...Loves babies and nurtures her family. She is the heart of her home, finds strength in her husband, understands sacrificial love and is happy and content."
  • "How Far is Too Far?... Wrong question! The question that you should be asking is: 'How far can I go to respect and honor my date, leading him to purity?' ...Guys are stimulated differently than girls. Open mouth kissing will lead a guy to become sexually aroused but a girl will simply feel more affection towards him. Knowing how far to go means understanding that guys have a higher sex drive and girls have a higher love drive." (my emphasis)
  • And Masturbation..."Though it may be fueled by our culture, masturbation is essentially a selfish act. To combat it, try to remember to be generous and charitable toward others. This will help stop the selfish attitude. Smile to others. Stop gossiping. Stay away from romance novels."
this is so old school it's hardly surprising. and yet, still so maddening.
i don't have words for how sad it is that a new generation of women is getting taught this bullshit.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

things that have made me happy lately

there have been many.
but i just want to share a few, if i may.

1) i finally finished these arm warmers for my lovely housemate jess. luckily march and april have brought a few cool days, since i sheepishly handed these over at the END of winter. anyway, i think they are pretty funky and were really fun to make. thanks marielle for the pattern! and thanks jess for averting your eyes from the mistakes i refused to back up and fix.

2) who can argue with an april fools scavenger hunt?! especially one sponsored by the ACLU of PA? one of my tasks was to ask 5 random tourists what their favorite freedom is. i grabbed a family as they were going into the constitution center. my favorite answers were from the kids. the little boy paused, and thought, and then enthusiastically yelled "bear arms!" as he pushed up his sleeves. just to make sure his joke was totally clear he asked his parents, "b-a-r-e, right?" his sister was having a hard time coming up with her favorite freedom. her parents asked her, "what do you always say when we come in your room to tuck you in at night?" she mumbled something about "where's my teddy bear?" her parents then said, "noooo! what's the other thing you say?" to which she replied, "WHERE'S YOUR WARRANT?!"

3) i was innocently riding the train the other day coming home from work when i innocently happened to look over the shoulder of the woman sitting in front of me to see what she was reading. (ok, so i do it all the time! you know you do it too. but it was innocent, i swear.) i was surprised to see that the title of her book was "thong on fire." yes, it's true folks. this caught my attention. i went on to read part of the page, and well...i no longer felt so innocent. in fact, i felt...well, i don't think i should say. it made me happy to see this mild-mannered, mainstream-looking middle aged woman reading "thong on fire." then i came home and looked the book up on amazon. the heroine's name? saucy.

Monday, March 19, 2007

4th anniversary of the iraq war

today is the fourth anniversary of the war in iraq.

four years ago i was on the streets of san francisco trying to "bring the war home" - blocking highways, waving signs, making noise -- trying my best, along with people across the globe, to send a message to the bush administration and everyone else who supported the war that we were making an enormous mistake.

four years later, i just returned from a solemn candlelight vigil. four years later, over 3,000 american soldiers are dead and countless thousands of iraqi civilians - including children - have also been killed in this senseless war. iraq body count, a website that tracks civilian deaths in iraq, concluded that the last year (march 2006-march 2007) has been by far the worst year for violent civilian deaths since the invasion.

we need to get out. we need to get out for all the american soldiers who are fighting and losing their lives for a lie. we need to get out for all the iraqi civilians who want an end to occupation. we need to get out because as the biggest imperial power in the world, we cannot solve iraq's problems.

to hear from some of those who have lost loved ones in the war, click here.

there is a bill regarding an end to the war that is making it's way through congress right now. check it out here and decide what you think. let your representatives know what you think. if you don't like it, go to true majority's page to send a message. if you think it's the best we can do right now, it looks like move on may end up supporting it, so check their page for a link in the coming days.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

more philadelphia flower show pics

I wanted to share a few more pictures I took at the Philadelphia Flower Show.
I am entraced by the beauty and complexity of flowers, and see them as evidence of a spirit wiser than ourselves at work in the universe.

I was going to post about debt today, but decided that such a downer topic can wait.
It was in the 60s today and I ate dinner at a coffee shop with a friend, outside!
So on this lovely spring-like day I am reminded of and encouraged by the advent of spring.

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

orchids at the philadelphia flower show

Orchid Tells All

However forwardly I face you
however unabashed I am—
these blazing hips, this
open-chested stance—
it's only half the truth.

Look behind me:
see how loosely, how
thinly tethered to the green I am—
continually stepping off my stem
into the cobalt air

where the magenta I meet
mingles with my belly's
yellow fire
and I am charged
with the task of

calling you here.
Color, shape, smell—
every wave of me works
to draw you.
Everything you do in me

will flourish.

©2002 by Susan Windle

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

GLBT rights and justice

i received two emails today that i want to share with you.
both are about abusive and violent acts perpetrated against gay and lesbian people.

we have a long, long way to go in this country and globally in creating a world in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people can live free from the fear of oppression - in the form of individual prejudice, hate crimes, institutionalized homophobia, and state violence.

from the human rights campaign:

In Detroit last week, 72-year-old Andrew Anthos was riding on a city bus and was asked by a fellow passenger if he was gay. The passenger then followed Mr. Anthos off the bus and attacked him with a metal pipe. Mr. Anthos died from his injuries Friday night and according to media reports, police are continuing the investigation without any solid leads.

Under the current federal hate crimes statute, federal authorities have no jurisdiction to assist in this investigation, even if local authorities were to request that assistance.

The Human Rights Campaign is asking all of us to contact our Representative and urge him or her to cosponsor the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Please take action today. Click here.

and from metropolitan community churches:

Time Magazine has designated Jamaica "the most homophobic country in the Western hemisphere." Over several years, MCC has documented an alarming pattern of overt hostility, violent attacks, and murder of LGBT people in Jamaica. These incidents have received little coverage by the Jamaican media and have often been ignored by the civil authorities.

In the latest incident, three gay men in St. Andrew's parish were attacked by a mob on Valentines Day 2007. While being rescued by police, one of the gay men was gun-butted by an officer. Another was hit by a rock thrown from the mob. All of the men were taunted with anti-gay slurs by police officers.

MCC is asking people to write Jamaica's Prime Minister,
The Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller at a short message to ask her to speak out publicly against the violence, to establish a tone of respect and tolerance for all life, and to guarantee the human rights and safety of Jamaica's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. (And to help us track responses, please send a copy of your e-mail to MCC's Communications Department at

thanks to rebecca and dad for making me aware of these two incidents and avenues to respond.