Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I seem to be having a political/historical theme lately, but I've been finding some really good sites and posts that I want to share.  This website is now up since the President signed the recovery package.  I'll be the first to admit that I do not know as much as I should about the economy or the recent legislation, but I will be visiting this site often (as well as doing other things) to begin to learn more about it.  I think recovery.gov was a good idea, and it will be interesting to see how it develops over the next few months. Since I'm still in school, I'm definitely somewhat sheltered from the economic situation, but as I begin looking for jobs this spring, I know that will change.  I'm trying not to focus on that too much right now though, because I certainly don't need to go looking for things to add to my list of worries.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Random Presidential Facts

This post, from one of my new favorite blogs, has 10 fun (weird) facts about US Presidents.  If you are relatively normal and are not as entertained by the rankings from my previous post as I am, this will hopefully do a better job.  

Presidential Leadership Survey

This website from c-span is really interesting.  I heard about this poll on NPR today, and was really interested by some of the rankings.  Finding Lincoln and Washington at the top was no surprise, but some of them were surprising.   I guess I should have guessed it since his face is etched on the side of a cliff in South Dakota, but I never realized how admired TR was.  Clearly, I need to brush up on some of my history.  There are some periods and some topics that I know quite well, but others that are rather unknown to me.  Maybe I'll have to watch the History Channel more often.  

It is also cool to see how the rankings changed in the last 8 years.  Some changed rather significantly.   It makes sense that people began to trust Clinton more since more time has passed since his administration.  It will be interesting to see if some of Bush's numbers improve over the next few decades.   I have a feeling I will be playing with this site for a few days...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

White Flour by David LaMotte

The day was bright and sunny as most May days tend to be
In the hills of Appalachia down in Knoxville, Tennessee
A dozen men put on their suits and quickly took their places
In white robes and those tall and pointed hoods that hid their faces
Their feet all fell in rhythm as they started their parade
They raised their fists into the air, they bellowed and they brayed
They loved to stir the people up, they loved when they were taunted
They didn’t mind the anger, that’s precisely what they wanted

As they came around the corner, sure enough, the people roared
They couldn’t quite believe their ears, it seemed to be… support!
Had Knoxville finally seen the light, were people coming ‘round?
The men thought for a moment that they’d found their kind of town
But then they turned their eyes to where the cheering had its source
As one their faces soured as they saw the mighty force
The crowd had painted faces, and some had tacky clothes
Their hair and hats outrageous, each had a red foam nose

The clowns had come in numbers to enjoy the grand parade
They danced and laughed that other clowns had come to town that day
And then the marchers shouted, and the clowns all strained to hear
Each one tuned in intently with a gloved hand to an ear
“White power!” screamed the marchers, and they raised their fisted hands
The clowns leaned in and listened like they couldn’t understand
Then one held up his finger and helped all the others see
The point of all this yelling, and they joined right in with glee

“White flour!” they all shouted and they felt inside their clothes
They pulled out bags and tore them and huge clouds of powder rose
They poured it on each other and they threw it in the air
It got all over baggy clothes and multi-colored hair
All but just a few of them were joining in the jokes
You could almost see the marchers turning red beneath white cloaks
They wanted to look scary, they wanted to look tough
One rushed right at the clowns in rage, and was hauled away in cuffs

But the others chanted louder marching on around the bend
The clowns all marched on too, of course, supporting their new friends
“White power!” came the marchers’ cry — they were not amused
The clowns grew still and thoughtful; perhaps they’d been confused
They huddled and consulted, this bright and silly crowd
They listened quite intently, then one said “I’ve got it now!”
“White flowers!” screamed the happy clown and all the rest joined in
The air was filled with flowers, and they laughed and danced again

“Everyone loves flowers, and white’s a pretty sort
I can’t think of a better cause for marchers to support!”
Green flower stems went flying like small arrows from bad archers
White petals covered everything, including the mad marchers
And then a very tall clown called the others to attention
He choked down all his chuckles, then said “Friends I have to mention
That with all the mirth and fun today it’s sort of hard to hear
But now I know the cause that these strange marchers hold so dear

“Tight showers!” the clown bellowed and he hit his head in wonder
He held up a camp shower and the others all got under
Or at least they tried to get beneath, they strained but couldn’t quite
There wasn’t room for all of them— they pushed, but it was tight
“White Power!” came their marchers’ cry, quite carefully pronounced
The clowns consulted once again, then a woman clown announced
“I’ve got it! I’m embarrassed that it took so long to see
But what these marchers march for is a cause quite dear to me…”

“Wife power!” she exclaimed and all the other clowns joined in
They shook their heads and laughed at how erroneous they’d been
The women clowns were hoisted up on shoulders of the others
Some pulled on wedding dresses, shouting “Here’s to wives and mothers!”
The men in robes were angry and they knew they’d been defeated
They yelled a few more times and then they finally retreated
And when they’d gone a black policeman turned to all the clowns
And offered them an escort to the center of the town

The day was bright and sunny as most May days tend to be
In the hills of Appalachia down in Knoxville, Tennessee
People joined the new parade, the crowd stretched out for miles
The clowns passed out more flowers and made everybody smile
And what would be the lesson of that shiny southern day?
Can we understand the message that the clowns sought to convey?
Seems that when you’re fighting hatred, hatred’s not the thing to use
So here’s to those who march on in their big red floppy shoes

(based on true events of May 26, 2007 - ©2007 David LaMotte)

I've loved David LaMotte's music since I heard him in Colorado in high school.  His songs are beautiful, funny, smart, and really thought-provoking.  He also tells amazing stories during his shows.   He's just recently stopped touring with his music and moved to Australia to study international relations and peace building.  I just found his blog, and he has wonderful things to say.  He also wrote this poem.  I'd love to read more about the real life situation that inspired it.  

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 Things

I figured I'd put this on here as well as facebook.  Here goes:  25 things about me.  

1. I have curly hair. This is fairly obvious. But it wasn't curly until I was about 9. My mom used to french braid my hair at night so it would be curly in the morning. Little did I know. Be careful what you wish for!!

2. I'm a really picky eater. Really. The list of foods I don't like is long. It doesn't fit on the back of an envelope. I do love peanut butter though. On carrots, on celery, on apples, on bananas, on chocolate, on spoons...

3. Along those lines, I only drink three things: milk, water, and orange juice. Certain foods go with certain beverages. Peanut butter and chocolate go with milk. As does pizza. I don't know why. Cheerios do NOT go with milk. Gross. I have to drink OJ with Cheerios.  Not in the bowl, just along side. Again, don't ask me why.

4. One of my goals is to visit all 50 states. So far I think I'm up to 26. I'm making progress. I plan to go to South Carolina before I move back to Texas.  That will make 27.  

5. I'm the youngest of all my first cousins on both sides.

6. At one time or another, all of my first cousins have lived in California. I don't think they all ever lived there at the same time though.

7. I like books. A lot. It's a little bit of a sickness. I predict that I will never have enough bookshelves wherever I live.

8. I enjoy making lists. I always have a notebook for my lists. I also have a list of lists that I want to make. Yikes.

9. I loved the semester I lived in London. Best semester ever. I miss it and want to go back soon!

10. When I was in England, I spent my Spring Break in Ireland and visited family. We even got to visit the house that my great grandfather was born in. I also rode in the bucket of a tractor with my dad, my stepmom, and my Katie. There were cows.

11. Katie and I also spent a weekend with my mom's cousin in Wales.  We visited the church where my grandparents were married and saw the house where my grandmother grew up.  Charles and Camilla got married that weekend. We watched the hats on TV.

12. Another weekend while we were there we all took a class trip to Paris. It should have just taken a couple of hours to get from London to Paris on the train, but we got stuck in the chunnel. The train broke down and had to be pushed out by another train. Fun times. We were on that train for almost 8 hours. I felt bad for all the other people on the train.  We were loud Americans.  And there were a lot of us.  

13. My middle name is Deneen--which is my grandmother's maiden name.

14. My freshman year of college, I had a Texas flag on my ceiling. It moved to various other walls throughout the rest of college.

15. I have 8 nieces and nephews. The oldest is 8 and the youngest is almost 11 months. A few months ago, it was really fun to say that I had 8 nieces and nephews and the oldest was 8 and the youngest was 8 months because I really like the number 8. I think I told people that Colleen was 8 months old for almost 3 months. 

16. I really like the number 8. I think it started in 1st grade when we were practicing writing numbers and I was proud that I could make a figure 8 instead of two circles on top of each other. So I got really excited every time I had to write an "8". I also like 24 because I was born on November 24th and because 2 times 4 is 8.

17. I played Julius Caesar in a school play in 5th grade. I spend a lot of it lying on the stage.

18. I've recently become really interested in genealogy. I've been able to go pretty far back and learn some interesting things about both sides of my family.

19. My grandfather's uncle came in 4th place in the triple jump for Ireland in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

20. The summer after 5th grade, I went to Washington DC with my parents and ran into my teacher from 1st and 2nd grade at the Vietnam Memorial. She moved to Maryland when I was in 3rd grade. I hadn't seen her in years. I was taller than her.

21. I've started doing a lot of Sudoku puzzles. I'm getting pretty good at them.

22. I'm in my last semester of seminary in Atlanta.

23. When I graduate, I'm moving to Austin, TX. I don't know what I'm going to do there yet.

24. I won 1st place in a Halloween costume contest in elementary school. I was a garden. It was pretty cool. I collected my candy in a watering can.

25. I love Taco Cabana. I hate Taco Bell. I've been told that I am a Mexican food snob. This comes from growing up in San Antonio.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

by Mary Oliver

I've always liked this poem. I read it in a couple of books, and then I copied it into my notebook of quotations, poems, and songs. Whenever I come across it, I find something different and it becomes profound for me in whole new ways. I've been searching for a good title for my blog. Yesterday in class, my professor read this poem for our opening devotion. The phrase "sheets of clouds" stuck out in my mind. When I went back to my notebook to read it again last night, the lines around that phrase really spoke to me and my life right now. I hope this blog will help me to find a voice that I can recognize as my own. And so it became the title of my blog, and is the first entry as well. Here goes!