Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Eyes of My Eyes Are Opened: Referral, aka Proposal, aka...Champagne a my hose now!

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e e cummings

This poem is reserved for very special occasions. I was lucky enough to hear my sister read it at my wedding.

I share it with you now because this is a day I will always remember.

It's a girl, and her baby brother.

Would You Place Children With This person...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Earthquake Weather

We have had a lot of earthquakes here in Southern California. In the nearly thirteen years we have lived here, there have been hundreds of them. Some bigger than others. In Venice they were the rolling kind. You could actually see the earth undulating. The movement would give me a wave of nausea so severe that I would actually get sick, and so would my girl Lummi. I would have to keep my head on the ground until the feeling passed.

There are many preparedness websites, and Maria Shriver likes to tell everyone to get ready; to have a plan. Each child in the LAUSD system has an earthquake pack at school. We have a backpack that I have never once grabbed on the way out during an earthquake. (That reminds me, I need to replace the emergency tampons I took out of there three months ago). Our pack has prescription meds for us and for the pups, tuna fish, xeroxed documents, and water, I can't remember what else.

This past January, I was sitting on the couch one evening with Steven. I heard the telltale rattling coming from the kitchen. I turned to Steven and said loudly, "EARTHQUAKE!" Just then there was a huge Jolt. Steven looked into my eyes, and reached his arm out to grab my hand. We looked at each other, our eyes wide.

I know, I know, we should have been high tailing it out of there with our emergency backpack, and our two pups. (By the way, why don't those miserable curs ever give us any advance warning about the impending quake? Aren't animals supposed to sense those things?) The Jolt was over, and we continued our regularly scheduled programming of enjoying our regularly scheduled programming on our idiot box. There was a loud constant banging that continued to interrupt our viewing. We wondered if the Jolt quake had broken off a tree branch, and if the wind was now causing said branch to bang our roof repeatedly. Steven grabbed a flashlight and went out to investigate. I continued to watch TV. Steven came back in and got a camera. Then he came back again to get a bigger camera, and he motioned for me to follow him. I went outside, looked up to the roof . It was not a branch at all that was making all of that noise. It was two of the largest raccoons I have ever seen going at it, making sweet raccoon love uhm, enjoying each other, LOUDLY! We have pictures. This being a family blog, I feel that I cannot post these racy pictures. Use your imaginations. You know when someone says, "Shit eating grin," or " Grinning from ear to ear"? Well that would best describe the male raccoon who was, er, on top. I know, I know, you want that picture- too racy! I will, however, give you a more G-rated glimpse of what went on...

Not at all what they looked like.

Isn't it interesting that mere seconds after an earth shattering jolt of a quake these raccoons felt so, uhm, amorous?

I think they have the right idea. If that was their last second on earth, they wanted to enjoy it. And enjoy it they did.

I guess it is the same instinct that made Steven reach for me. The same instinct that made me just stare into his big brown eyes instead of getting my emergency prepared self into gear. We just wanted to connect. If we were going out at that moment, we might as well go together.

That is how I feel about my whole life these days; if nothing else works out, I know that I am beyond lucky to be able to sit on a couch and see this face looking at me.

Sure one eye is bigger than the other, and there is some graying at the temples, but I am fully aware of how lucky I am to have love in my life.

I know that when I talk about my husband on this blog it is all pancakes and daisies. Of course it isn't always like that. We fight. We have difficulties. We have arguments. But still, if it is his hand that holds mine at the end of my life, well, I'm good to go.

A week ago Sunday, when Rebekah and Jess were here, we had the biggest earthquake we have ever experienced, a 4.7. Steven calmly said, "Everyone out of the house". We grabbed the pups by their collars and walked out the back door. Our guests from the midwest got a real LA experience.
There were no racy raccoons on the roof this time. There was however this feeling...

Take this in. In case this is it, take this in. Be grateful for the time that you have spent with your love, and with your friends. Look around and be mindful of those pups and the joy they have brought you. Take a deep breath and take it in.

So I did.

And I was scared.

I was and I am now...


Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Garden Tour

Two words...Going Off !

Anyone have any good chard recipes? What exactly is chard?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Phenomenal Women... Part I

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

- Maya Angelou

These are my two favorite pictures from last Friday.

In the morning I had picked Jess and Rebekah up from LAX. We went to Venice and walked around. When we got home I told them I had wine, beer, or champagne. We decided to have Kir Royales, and I put the word out to some friends. I texted Marley's mom, "Champagne at my hose now!" ( I am not very good at texting). Lauren thought I had gotten my referral. Why else would we be drinking champagne on a Friday afternoon? She rushed over, and I believe she actually burst with excitement. I felt absolutely terrible for letting her down, and absolutely touched that she would be that happy to hear of my news. The joke is now, that when we get our proposal/referral, I should proceed to text everyone with, "Champagne at my hose now!"

The impromptu celebration was lovely, proposal or not, women- new moms and more experienced moms- joined together to chat, learn from each other, and enjoy each other's company. It felt like something old-fashioned, hard to describe.

I think that when women join together...there is power.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize....

Last Sunday a bunch of us attended a hair workshop. Here is the story on NPR.

Would You Place Children With These People

Mystery Bloggers revealed...

Rebekah, and Jess. We had a great time. I'll tell you all about it, as soon as I recover. These runner types have a lot of energy. Movers and shakers, these two.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

The Friday Friend or Family Feature is happily preempted today by another 'Friday Extremely Happy Shout Out'...

Hazel has received her proposal. Finally.

Her daughter will share a proposalversary with these girls.

Read Katy's story about how she heard of her news. It is worth a read. You will cry, and laugh, and feel hopeful.


In a little while I will leave for LAX. Two mystery bloggers are coming to visit. Wanna guess who they are? (No cheating you facebook users!)

Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To call for hands of above to lean on...

I am thinking a lot about this friend, and this friend today.

Music Playlist at

One night to be confused
One night to speed up truth
We had a promise paid
Four hands and then away

Both under influence
We had a divine sense
To know what to say
Mind is a razor blade

To call for hands of above
to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough
for me, no

One night of magic rush
The start a simple touch
One night to push and scream
And then relief

Ten days of perfect tunes
The colors red and blue
We had a promise made
We were in love

To call for hands of above
to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough
for me, no

To call for hands of above
to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough

And you, you knew the hand of the devil
And you, kept us awake with wolves teeth
Sharing different heartbeats
In one night

To call for hands of above
to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough
for me, no

To call for hands of above
to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough

Would You Place Children With These People

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

News From Ethica...

The JCICS has meeting notes from their conference in Ethiopia. Here is the link on Ethica's website.

It looks like DNA testing will start in Ethiopia. The entire PDF file is worth a read.

They are also trying to come up with a solution to the TB testing situation. Someone who is directly affected by the current policies is this child...

Please read her mom's post about what you can do to help.

These girls are affected as well...

I am relieved today to read about this important meeting in Ethiopia. Especially after hearing about this.

Soon, a lighter post about husbands, and bees, and zebra chairs, and blog friends coming to Los Angeles. Can you tell I have been spending a lot of time in Stage Four ?

Monday, May 11, 2009


I have a piece up on Anti-Racist Parent today. If you feel like commenting, perhaps you could do so over there too. Maybe we can get a productive dialogue going. Merci Beaucoup.

In Response to EJ Graff's Slate Piece:

I applaud E.J. Graff and The Schuster Institute for opening people’s eyes to the corruption that exists in international adoption. I think that it is important that people start talking about this, and start implementing changes to ensure that all adoptions are ethical. However, I believe Ms. Graff does a great disservice by publishing the octopus of an article, The Lie We Love, and its tentacle articles in Slate, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. The Lie We Love is full of generalizations and is rarely substantiated with facts. For a better example of investigative journalism on the subject of corruption in international adoption, I would suggest reading, Red Thread or Slender Reed: Deconstructing Prof. Bartholet’s Mythology of International Adoption, by Johanna Oreskovic and Trish Maskew. The article, with sources to back it up, can be found HERE .

This Slate slide show is indeed devastating, and I believe that one case of corruption is one too many. What about balancing these stories with some of the other international adoption stories?

Here, and in TLWL, Graff infers that the next country that will be closed to international adoption due to corruption is Ethiopia. Graff, asked by an adoptive families group to expound on this, responded HERE.

In this link Graff says, “I am hearing horrifying stories that I cannot publish since we do not have the time or resources to investigate, corroborate and publish these.”

Graff who says in the Slate article, “Orphanages do not necessarily house orphans—at least, not in poor countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America,” might have spoken to some people like Melissa Faye Greene, author of There is No Me Without You, or Dr. Jane Aronson, founder of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, who have first hand knowledge of what goes on in an orphanage in Africa. Dr. Aronson had this to say in response to Graff,

“The opinion piece on the so-called "orphan manufacturing chain" by Brandeis University's E.J. Graff falsely alleges that birth mothers in impoverished countries are largely tricked into giving up (or selling) their babies to meet a greedy Western demand for healthy infants ("International adoption rife with corruption," The Salt Lake Tribune, Opinion, Jan. 16). The research fails to acknowledge that poverty, war and societal pressures too often force women to give up their children. After losing a husband to AIDS and facing their own sickness, poor women may turn to adoption in a desperate attempt to secure a brighter future for their children. These brave, selfless and courageous women should not be branded as "baby sellers" or too ignorant or poor to love their children.
While unscrupulous operators may exist, a majority of international adoptions are lawful. Graff's inaccurate account of international adoption is extremely painful to both adoptive parents and their children. Instead of name-calling, we should invest our energies in sustainable solutions to ending this all-too-real orphan crisis.”

It seems to me that Graff is against any international adoption. I don’t think anyone would argue that the best thing for a child would be to grow up with his birth family, in his country of origin, but what about the kids for whom that is an impossibility?

There are legitimate adoption stories that Graff never speaks of. If I were to produce a slide show based on adoption cases that I have watched from start to finish, it would include an Ethiopian adoptee who was taken out of an abusive situation so horrific that it would rival any US foster care horror story. It would show an infant girl who had lost both parents, and whose maternal aunt could no longer afford to feed her (in addition to feeding her own six children). It would show a healthy infant boy who was relinquished by his father, when his birth mother died. (The child’s two older brothers were not relinquished because they were old enough to work on the family’s farm in rural, southern Ethiopia. This is just one example disproving Graff’s statement that “most children who need new homes are older than five”. In rural Ethiopia it is often the birth of a child that throws a family into the devastating situation of needing to make an adoption plan). My slide show would also include children whose parents died of Aids. It would show a toddler boy who was confirmed to be days away from death due to malnutrition, (I have seen the video footage of this child’s orphanage arrival. In it, his belly is so distended that he cannot stand upright). My slide show would show a family whose first referred child died before they could pick her up, and whose current daughter requires constant medical attention. It would also show an infant girl whose legs are so weak from languishing in a crowded crib, that she requires daily physical therapy. It would show children, with diagnoses of failure to thrive, rickets, cerebral palsy and seizures. It would include HIV positive children who for the first time in their lives will have access the antiretroviral medicine that will keep them alive. Graff writes, “To use the language of globalization, orphans are sometimes "manufactured": Children with families are stripped of their identities so that Westerners can fill their homes.”
Orphans don’t need to be manufactured in Ethiopia; famine, Aids and other diseases do that for them.

I agree that it is absolutely crucial to bring awareness to corruption and unethical practices that are happening in international adoption. It is vital to work toward preventing these situations illustrated in this slide show from ever happening again.

I am wondering if Ms. Graff can come up with something besides what seems to be a campaign to stop all international adoptions. I am hopeful that she can suggest to us a way that we can allow legitimate adoptions of true orphans to continue, while allowing more transparency and less corruption. I am also wondering if she can you do it in a way that doesn’t denigrate, and vilify every single adoptive parent or adoptive parent to be.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

I know, I know- Debbie Downer. Sorry.

Of all of the things I thought I might be thinking about today, This picture is what is on my mind.

This mother.

Amina Nanessa Mohamed cries as she arrives at her home carrying the body of her four-year-old daughter Michu who died of malnutrition near Sheshemene, southern Ethiopia June 8, 2008. (REUTERS/Radu Sigheti)

These mothers.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Attention Folks in Prettier Parts of the Country...

Please invite a Canadian Blogger to stay with you. Otherwise this will be their only glimpse of America the beautiful. Dirty Charlie Chaplin.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Garden Tour

Things are happening in the garden.

The beer is growing...

The berries too...

The bees are buzzing at their foster home...

The beans are bursting...

And the carrots made an appearance...

For some reason though, I could only concentrate on these two beauties...

Our first Meskel blooms of the season.

I wonder why I can't stop looking at those?

Meskel Daisy by Evan McBride.

Come little Habesha, your garden is waiting.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Love Arrives...

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

LT is home.

Words by Maya Angelou