April 2008


Lawmakers have a deal on the farm bill! That does not mean we actually have a new farm bill … at least not yet. But it does mean that the stage of my life in which I write stories about whether or not lawmakers are going to have a deal on the farm bill may be coming to a close. Our long national nightmare could be over. How many stories can one write about whether or not lawmakers have a deal on the farm bill, you may ask? I’d say about two or three a day. They come in cycles : yes, maybe, no! Then the next round: maybe, yes!
No!
Yes!
But it’s really a yes this time, as least for the House and Senate. At least I think so.
I found this out after standing in dark hallways all week, waiting for people to come out and tell us YES a deal (or NO, no deal). That yes moment finally arrived this afternoon. I was so excited, I almost felt like *I* had received a $700 million-a-year subsidy. I bought myself a Coke — WITH sugar (I take that back, with corn syrup — and there is a whole farm-subsidy-related reason for that, but that’s another story). No diet coke, kids, it’s time to celebrate — I know, it’s getting crazy over here.

Well, poem in your pocket day was a bust. The farm bill conference did not break out in a poetry slam, and there were no poems in pockets unfolded for me the whole day. I even spent that evening with a poetess and forgot to reach in my pocket for a little addition to the conversation. But it was not all lost — I remembered while walking home with two friends. They were kind enough to listen to my poem as we walked down Mt. Pleasant Street.  We were inspired. Thank you, poem-in-pocket day!

Today is Earth Day.  I am celebrating it by …. writing a story about the environment! Heck, maybe I’ll even write two or three! This is how I “celebrate” every weekday.

One of my contacts wished me a very happy earthday on my voicemail today. It amused me. But other than that, the biggest push I’ve gotten on Earth Day is to BUY MORE STUFF. It seems this earthy holiday, like so many others, has become a big marketing scheme.  I have emails inviting me to buy new running gear for Earth Day, as well as certified sustainable forestry furniture and recycled glass tableware. Celebrate Earth — buy stuff, package it, ship it, throw it away! Wheee! Maybe we’ll go for a dumpster run instead.

I just discovered that today is poem in your pocket day! As part of National Poetry Month (by the way, April is national poetry month — I also just discovered that), we are supposed to carry a poem in our pocket on April 17th and share it with friends. The thought is that: “Poems from pockets will be unfolded throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores.”

There is a pocket poem event today at the Library of Congress (in person at noon, online from 2-3, plus a gift shop discount for all poem-carriers, sweet). I can’t attend the LoC event, but I am going to carry around a poem in a desperate hope that the farm bill markup will break out into a wild poetry exchange. Do you think Sen. Grassley is carrying a poem today? Oh goodness, I hope so. I might ask him.

I am going to carry two poems, so they can keep eachother company.

This daffodil verse from William Woodsworth has been running through my head ever since those cheery flowers started to bloom:

I wandered lonely as a cloud by William Woodsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company.
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

I also just found the below poem on a another blog. I fell in love with the poem and will carry it too:

Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer by Jane Kenyon

We turned into the drive,
and gravel flew up from the tires
like sparks from a fire. So much
to be done—the unpacking, the mail
and papers…the grass needed mowing….
We climbed stiffly out of the car.
The shut-off engine ticked as it cooled.

And then we noticed the pear tree,
the limbs so heavy with fruit
they nearly touched the ground.
We went out to the meadow; our steps
made black holes in the grass;
and we each took a pear,
and ate, and were grateful.

*Get your dose of poetry appreciation here — really cool site.

Did you, like me, find yourself wondering:”What are President Bush and the Pope talking about up there?”

Here is what the White House has to say about it:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

­

For Immediate Release                              April 16, 2008

JOINT STATEMENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND HOLY SEE

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush met today in the Oval Office of the White House.

President Bush, on behalf of all Americans, welcomed the Holy Father, wished him a happy birthday, and thanked him for the spiritual and moral guidance, which he offers to the whole human family.  The President wished the Pope every success in his Apostolic Journey and in his address at the United Nations, and expressed appreciation for the Pope’s upcoming visit to “Ground Zero” in New York.

During their meeting, the Holy Father and the President discussed a number of topics of common interest to the Holy See and the United States of America,  including moral and religious considerations to which both parties are committed:  the respect of the dignity of the human person; the defense and promotion of life, matrimony and the family; the education of future generations; human rights and religious freedom; sustainable development and the struggle against poverty and pandemics, especially in Africa.  In regard to the latter, the Holy Father welcomed the United States’ substantial financial contributions in this area.  The two reaffirmed their total rejection of terrorism as well as the manipulation of religion to justify immoral and violent acts against innocents.  They further touched on the need to confront terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and his or her rights.

The Holy Father and the President devoted considerable time in their discussions to the Middle East, in particular resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict in line with the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, their mutual support for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, and their common concern for the situation in Iraq and particularly the precarious state of Christian communities there and elsewhere in the region.  The Holy Father and the President expressed hope for an end to violence and for a prompt and comprehensive solution to the crises which afflict the region.

The Holy Father and the President also considered the situation in Latin America with reference, among other matters, to immigrants, and the need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially their humane treatment and the well being of their families.

I am watching the Pope’s arrival ceremony at the White House on C-SPAN.  Many senators and congressional types, dignitaries and bishops are there. But apparently they also opened the gates to crowds of general papist riff-raff.  The White House lawn is totally full. There was exuberant cheering, shouting and … best of all… during a pause in the ceremony, the crowd took advantage of their opportunity and broke out into a spontaneous, cacophonous round of “Happy birthday to you!”
God bless America!

Today is the grand opening of the newseum, the new monstrosity on Pennsylvania Avenue that purports to be the “world’s most interactive museum!” You can get free entry all day for today’s opening day.

They are banking on the assumption that people who will not shell out 35 cents to buy a hard copy of the newspaper will spend $20 for newseum entrance.  We’ll see how that goes. I, for one, am probably much more likely to check out the free not-so-interactive art at one of the neighboring Smithsonians — not necessarily because I am more high-minded, but because I am cheap.

For today, it appears the kids are very excited about the newseum … at least while it is free.

I walk by the newseum on my way to work from the bus, so I thought I might poke my head in and look around this morning. But the line to get snaked around the building, down the block, past the Canadian embassy (where those resourceful Canadians were handing out promotional material to the captive audience of line-standers, who are now all well-schooled on our trade and security partnership with the Great Northern Neighbor). The line started to thin out in front of the court buildings and  finally ended about a block or two from my office.

I had a story to write, so I walked right past the line and up to my cube. I hear there are many interactive exhibits at the newseum that allow you to pretend to be a reporter. I guess today I’ll just have to settle for the real thing.

ready to ride

This is a public service announcement for anyone who has been at one of several events at our house recently and seen the baby jogger behind the door of our guest room: I am *not* pregnant.

Two friends were brave enough to ask about said jogger and if I was pregnant. In a potentially unrelated observation, another friend asked if I was faking it with my (second) glass of wine on Saturday. No, I am drinking alcohol. And not bearing life at the moment.

I am not sure how many other people saw the babyjogger and have been wondering, so I will just go ahead and tell you: it is not for me.

I suppose it is plausible that I would just go out and buy myself a babyjogger on craigslist, seeing as I cannot resist a bargain and know from experience that the highest-quality 20-inch-rims are not so easily found second-hand. Hopefully some day I will have a baby and the strength to run with him/her, but in the event that I am barren, injured, paralyzed or (more likely) move to a country without paved roads or recreational white runners, I think it best to hold off on that purchase.

I bought the babyjogger [“used” from a woman who had received two (two!?) new babyjoggers] as a gift for my older sister. I haven’t taken any babies for a spin in it, but it appears to be a fine piece of craftsmanship. It’s like a really nice bike — you can just tell from pushing it a little that it wants to go fast.

My older sister is a very fast runner. She is also mom to a very cute baby who just this weekend learned how to stick out his tongue. As it turns out, I know how to stick out my tongue too. But I am not nearly so cute when I do it.

I will give her the babyjogger on the condition that she let me hold her baby for at least one hour. I will be timing it, so no skimping and no one else better try and get their paws on him during my alloted time … lest I have to stick out my tongue at you in dismay.

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