Orchids Forgive No One Just Yet

Yesterday, the blogosphere buzzed with this sign of the times story.

Some 691,000 children went hungry in America sometime in 2007, while close to one in eight Americans struggled to feed themselves adequately even before this year’s sharp economic downtown, the Agriculture Department reported Monday.

The department’s annual report on food security showed that during 2007 the number of children who suffered a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat was more than 50 percent above the 430,000 in 2006 and the largest figure since 716,000 in 1998.

Overall, the 36.2 million adults and children who struggled with hunger during the year was up slightly from 35.5 million in 2006. That was 12.2 percent of Americans who didn’t have the money or assistance to get enough food to maintain active, healthy lives.

Almost a third of those, 11.9 million adults and children, went hungry at some point. That figure has grown by more than 40 percent since 2000. The government says these people suffered a substantial disruption in their food supply at some point and classifies them as having “very low food security.” Until the government rewrote its definitions two years ago, this group was described as having “food insecurity with hunger.”

The Bush administration’s response to hunger in America is to rewrite the definition. That, my dahhhhhlinks, is the banality of evil inhabiting a pin-striped suit. But wait, there’s more.

“There’s every reason to think the increases in the number of hungry people will be very, very large based on the increased demand we’re seeing this year at food stamp agencies, emergency kitchens, Women, Infants and Children clinics, really across the entire social service support structure,” said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

Weill said the figures show that economic growth during the first seven years of the Bush administration didn’t reach the poorest and hungriest people. “The people in the deepest poverty are suffering the most,” Weill said.

Before the internet, our neighbors starved quietly when the food bank ran out of supplies, but now we talk about what people don’t have and can’t get. The comments thread for this post is enlightening, as more and more net-connected people say the same thing: they’re broke, they can’t feed their kids, and they don’t know what to do.

I don’t have any answers to these questions, but I believe that we cannot postpone asking them anymore. Starving children do not routinely become well-adjusted adults in wealthy, indifferent America, and parents who cannot feed their children harden their hearts to pleas for patience. This isn’t going to go away. We have to do something about it now.

You Run Like A River That Runs

From the Pretty Bird Woman House: They need towels.

Hi everyone,

If you’re coming here looking for things to donate around the holidays, check out the right side of this blog for a complete list of ongoing donation needs for the shelter.

HOWEVER, since women are constantly coming and going, right now there is an urgent need for towels. So if you’re cleaning out your linen closet, or looking for something to buy, think TOWELS.

Word has it that Linens ‘N Things is going out of business and has cheap towels now…We’ve also had a Yahoo Groups member order them from Anna’s Linens.

Once again, thank you for all your support. This means the world to the women on the Standing Rock Reservation.

Posted by Betsy Campisi at 10:51 AM

Linens & Things is going out of business. Right now, everything is selling at a discount. I was planning to buy new towels for myself, but now I feel inspired! The address where you can mail donations is:

Pretty Bird Woman House
211 First Ave W.
McLaughlin, SD 57642

Scope out Linens & Things’ towels: they range in price between $2.39 and $11.99. Can you imagine, as Thanksgiving approaches? For less than $10, you can really help someone in need.

Please pass the news.

Und I Did

From the New York Times.

About Dick Cavett: The host of “The Dick Cavett Show” — which aired on ABC from 1968 to 1975 and on public television from 1977 to 1982 — Dick Cavett is also the coauthor of two books, “Cavett” (1974) and “Eye on Cavett” (1983). He has appeared on Broadway in “Otherwise Engaged” “Into the Woods” and as narrator in “The Rocky Horror Show,” and has made guest appearances in movies and on TV shows including “Forrest Gump” and “The Simpsons.” Mr. Cavett lives in New York City and Montauk, N.Y.

Apropos of nothing, I would totally pay anything to hear Dick Cavett shout, “HE WAS A LOW-DOWN, CHEAP LITTLE PUNK.”

Keeping My Eye To the Keyhole

Recently, Melissa McEwan’s adoption of the relentlessly adorable and completely miniscule Sophie Moon coincided with my co-workers’ capture of nine stray cats across the street from the library. These cat rescue people are SO SELFISH. Oh, they say, would you like to adopt two or three cats? It’s hard to believe these rescue people spend all their spare change catnapping and feeding cats they find – you know – freaking everywhere. It’s practically stealing.

Meet our newest furry overlord, whom we are calling Chou Chou because cabbage is divertissant.

She’s awfully cute. In a death-defying twist of hilarious fate, and perhaps a watusi or two, at just about the same time, Topaz and Drusy started singing My boyfriend’s back and there’s gonna be trouble when the stray cats went all Jets and Sharks in our backyard. I enjoyed the dance numbers. It was about the time I separated hissing girl gang members that I decided Topaz and Drusy needed a new hobby, preferably one that didn’t involve knife-fighting back up singers. How about a kitten?

Those selfish rescue people didn’t have a female kitten, so I asked a friend who volunteers at a shelter, where they had too many rules. Look, I said, if you’re actually trying to place animals in good homes it shouldn’t involve more paperwork than a bank loan. I asked another friend who volunteers at a shelter in North Jersey. She said they mostly had older cats; I pictured Topaz and Drusy pushing some wheelchair-bound tabby down the attic stairs, Baby Jane-style. I couldn’t have kittehs plotting revenge and ruining the Chi of my teeny yoga studio, thus, you must imagine my relief when the original selfish catnapper contacted me about a kitten named Gigi. Yesterday, Pete and I were more or less interviewed for two hours by very nice people who finally believed we weren’t sociopaths because we said we weren’t, which, um, nuh-unh.

Gigi just isn’t a Gigi. She’s beige and terribly plush and after 4 this morning, she decided to clear off Pete’s dresser. I can’t blame her. Kick…BLAM. Kick…BLAM. Kick…BLAM! Kitteh! I got out of bed a few times to address the situation but how can you be mad when the kitten says purr purr purr? She is a darling baby girl who at eight months outweighs the two-year-olds and is mostly unimpressed by their hissing. Above, Miss Chou Chou sits in a Fuzzy Town igloo in our bedroom closet, her plush refuge between Pete’s work boots and my bedroom slippers. She is acclimating. This igloo is supposed to house stuffed animals. We are trying our best to fill her full of tasty kibble.

If I Could You Know That I Would

I haven’t given up blogging. In fact, over the next couple of days, I predict you’ll remember why you tolerate my neglect. You will. Believe me! Anyhow, this morning, I have to attempt to pay attention to …something, I don’t know what, at the library, so please enjoy this picture of an artichoke. Because why not.

Make Some Book Of Records

Remember this cast of characters from December, 2005?

Dad is a decisive person weighing his options.

Dad: InExcelsisDeo’s son graduates from military mechanic school in Pittsburgh on the 23rd.
Tata: That date can only have been set by a man whose wife wipes his nose, and to whom he doesn’t listen. Fucker!
Dad: Do you kiss babies with that mouth?
Tata: What did you say when you heard about it?
Dad: “What fucking madness.”
Tata: Moving on, then…
Dad: Your brother Todd comes in from California on the 30th and stays until the 2nd.
Tata: Really? I knew he’d be here at some point.
Dad: And Dara has to have Christmas with her mother and be back to school on the 2nd. I can only make one trip. What are your plans?
Tata: Gluttony and sloth. Tell me when and where, and I’m there.
Dad: My problem is I promised my sister I’d make Christmas Eve dinner, since she will be out of town until appetizers are plated.
Tata: Don’t worry. My sister, my cousins and I will do it.

OH MY GOD! Did you see that coming? Because I didn’t!

Dad: How’s the apartment?
Tata: I’m considering piling the remaining boxes in front of a vulnerable window and calling it my burglar alarm. I may leave it for my grandchildren to incinerate when they cart me off to the home!
Dad: Serves ’em right! Bastards!
Tata: They’re cashing my social security checks! I would!

So Dad’s staying three hundred miles away for Italian Christmas Eve. This morning, panic set in when Auntie InExcelsisDeo agreed to let the Girl Gang do the cooking because there just isn’t any other way that doesn’t involve folding our arms and blinking forth Emeril. I call my cousin Sandy, eight months older than Miss Sasha, most of a foot taller and 100% more local. Sandy’s temporarily bunking in at Auntie InExcelsisDeo’s family compound in South Brunswick, which gives us access to modern on-site refrigeration in the absence of the homeowner. And salmon!

Tata: Your sister told your mother who told my sister who told me that she, your sister Monday, wanted to make the chicken and polenta.
Sandy: Monday wants to eat the chicken and polenta.
Tata: What do you want to cook?
Sandy: I can’t cook.
Tata: Fine. You’ll make Edith’s bean salad. We’ll make the manicotti together. You’ll make shrimp pose seductively in a circle.
Tata: Are you in traffic?
Sandy: Bumper to bumper.
Tata: You are a danger to yourself and others. Doesn’t your boyfriend have a Costco card?
Sandy: He does.
Tata: Keep your eyes on the road. If you crash, he might be too busy whining about what a marvelous person you were to go shopping for your family. You’re so selfish!

If you read the stories leading up to Miss Sasha’s wedding, you know Daria, Monday, Sandy and I are now lined up to play a mixed doubles game of YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME! Daria calls.

Daria: Did Daddy call you?
Tata: Daddy called me.
Daria: Did you talk to Auntie InExcelsisDeo?
Tata: I talked to Auntie InExcelsisDeo.
Daria: Do you know why he’s not coming?
Tata: He’s coming, just later. Todd’s coming later.
Daria: Stop talking to me like that!
Tata: You stop talking to me like that!
Daria: Don’t be so bossy!
Tata: You don’t be so bossy!
Daria: I’m going to hang up on you in a minute!
Tata: Pot to Black Kettle! Come in, Black Kettle!
Daria: You taking the right half and I’m taking the left half of the buffet?
Tata: I talked to Sandy. She’s psyched. We’re going to cook.
Daria: Oh my God, Sandy’s going to cook?
Tata: We have boyfriends, fiances, cousins and spare moms. With any luck, we will also have other help. It’s going to be fine.
Daria: Are you drunk? They let you drink on university property? Hello!
Tata: We’ll put appetizers on every flat surface and make Monday bake something into dessert-like submission. And fuck anybody who complains.
Daria: My husband will handle the meats.
Tata: …And there’s my cue to hang up.

If I had money, I’d hire a camera crew and a bulletproof director. If I were smart, I’d hide the fondue forks. I don’t, and I’m not, so it’s stuffed mushrooms and a side of SHUT UP AND DICE for me!

Remember? You do? Congratulations! Meet Auntie InExcelsisDeo, relentless do-goodererer.

The Winner of a Nationwide Contest Gets a Well-Deserved Holiday Makeover
After a nationwide contest, Vern surprises a very deserving [Auntie InExcelsisDeo] with a makeover just in time for the holidays. She has taken in families in need, fed the hungry and made quilts for disaster victims, the homeless and soldiers’ families. Vern creates a beautiful kitchen and dining room in French country style for [Auntie]. And downstairs, her brand new laundry room comes complete with an area perfect for her quilting.

• November 16, 2008 8:00 PM ET/PT
• November 17, 2008 12:00 AM ET/PT
• November 22, 2008 4:30 PM ET/PT
• November 23, 2008 5:00 PM ET/PT
• November 29, 2008 8:30 PM ET/PT
• November 30, 2008 12:30 AM ET/PT

Tomorrow, Sandy’s getting married. Sunday, Auntie InExcelsisDeo greets her public. Monday, I’m going to hide under my desk and meow.

Brush Me, Daddio

Mr. Breszny is a clever man:

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): All of the good works you do in the coming week will send ripples far and wide, but not all of them will be recognized and appreciated. I hope that’s OK with you; I hope you won’t get obsessed with trying to get all the credit you deserve. The fact is, your influences will be more effective and enduring if they are at least partially anonymous. Ironically, your power will be greater if it’s not fully noticed.

The universe calls my bluff. My ego is ginorrrrrrmous! My desire to Do Good is great. Can I trick me into doing piles of right things while shouting, “Nothing to see here, nothing to see, move along” at the tops of my lungs? Stay tuned for stuff I can’t take credit for and don’t mention!