Everyone needs a little love, right?

Thanks, Lucy, for this!

“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to bloggers and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

My five… More Lima Beans, The Painted Maypole, Janna Bee, The Journey, and Adventures in the 32-Aker Wood.

Thanks, Tina, for this!

“This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.”

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link. And pass the award to blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.

My five… The Albemarle Sound, More Lima Beans, Collecting Tokens, Wheels on the Bus, and MadHatter Mommy.


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A plea.

We’re shopping for a new host provider.

Need: ability to self-administer sites, good network capacity and storage, decent affordability, good communication when there is a problem.

And to Dreamhost… it’s one thing to have repeated outages for long spans of time (24 hours+).  It’s something else all together to report that ‘the problem will resolve in 5 minutes’ for the entire outtage.


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Bloggies? Really?

This blog has been thrown into the hat for bloggie nominations!


Who knew that just anyone could even get nominated?  Not me.  But then again, Ben Affleck won as Oscar, so maybe anything is possible?

The nominating process involves going to http://2009.bloggies.com/ , writing in “Cold Spaghetti” and the website (http://www.coldspaghetti.org/blog/), and giving your email address for a verification message.  When you vote, you have to nominate 2 other blogs for consideration for each category you vote within.

Here are some blogs that I nominated:

One Plus Two.  Jen writes eloquently about her work as director of a nonprofit agency serving the homeless, and she’s preparing a move to a jungle village in Central America.  I don’t think you need any other information for why she’s on my list of favorites.

Collecting Tokens.  Alejna is witty, eloquent, and very funny.  She also likes kick-ass women and pants.

The Show Must Go On.  Kitty writes beautifully and has great photos.  My favorite photos of hers are ones she posts from her film camera days — they have that deep, creamy feel that only comes from film (in my opinion).  Also, I’m buttering her up so that one day maybe she’ll come and work on some crazy health project where we are desperately seeking a nurse.

LaLoca.  I don’t visit the Washington Post site much anymore, because I trust that if something of interest is happening up there, Jenny will point it out.  Plus, her photography is creative and striking.

Liprap’s Lament.  Leigh reads more websites than anyone I know and somehow seems to do so before the posts are even published.  Then she compiles them all into summary posts on her own blog, with her own commentary.  Or, at least, that is what it seems like.  These days, I’ve come to prefer the first hit of local news through a good filter.

UPDATE… Oh My Heavens.  I forgot to mention Lisa, of Left Coast Cowboys, who I nominated in a bunch of categories, because I love Green Acres.  And because she makes me want to move to San Francisco, possibly to grow grapes and raise terriers.  She makes it all sound so beautiful!

Nominations END JANUARY 12th! So please consider going over and voting soon!

If you’re up for a little more, please consider visiting my friend, mentor, and all-around amazing Emmy… she wants to gather up her Honduran family for a big reunion and you can vote to help her do it.


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None of them start “It was a dark and stormy night”

2008, the bloggy recap, as described by the first sentences from first posts from each month.

January: I was too chicken to climb on the roof, wondering why they weren’t using the extension ladder and feeling incredibly impressed that Paul and David were climbing to the top of the A-frame and hoisting themselves up on this end of the roof.

February: It’ll take hours for my 7-year old computer to eat up all the pictures from the first 2GB card I filled this morning, so here’s a preview from the second set already loaded.

March: I am surprised and impressed that now, in my moment of weakness, neither of you seem willing to make the final blow and do me in.

April: We’re having a bad day.

May: Look! A ceiling in the study!

June: In the past, re-entering the United States after weeks abroad has not went well for us.

July: Cabinets, cabinets in my room.

August: “My parents called.  They said that Kate called them last night.”

September: A few strong cells have moved through Mobile, but nothing so threatening that we bothered to move chairs inside.

October: The “Greater New Orleans” interview airs tomorrow on WLAE channel 12 at 7 and 9:30 (and I think again at 2:30am?)

November: “Mommy, I love you sweeter than the sweetest bullfrog ever kissed.”

December: Writ in the style of “The Piggy in the Puddle” — my favorite children’s story to read out loud.

Bonus, a few favorites:

Krewe of Abeona, Mardi Gras 2008.

One of the many pictures of our house with no floors.  Or walls.

Will dresses Kate.

The La Divina Commercial.

Seeing Obama.

Kate meets Elmo.. and THE DOG.

I throw my two cents in the political ring.

Will and Kate give advice to tourists.

The WLAE interview.

The start of our ongoing health insurance woes.

Ode to La Destructora.

Old Holiday Photos.

And for next year.  Some bloggy goals.

— Finish the writing and posting from the three weeks in Peru (I found the missing notebook!) and post pictures now that the article is up.  (Once I get a good copy of it, I’ll post it, too.)

— Finish adding tags/categories to the posts dating back to 2004.

— Clean the blog up.  Make a design that works.  Add the pages about the tuk-tuk and the hopes and dreams about driving one across the country.

— Write down what I eat.  Use the blog as a motivation for being a healthier person: more exercise, less binging.  I hesitate to make something like ‘weight loss’ a goal, because without a partner in the grind of it, I know it won’t work for me.

— Write snappier openers.  Some of the sentences above are painful.


** I first saw this style post over at Mad’s.  Then there were similar posts at the ‘Tars and by Magpie.

Mi Familia

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Thinking, thinking, thankful.

Yesterday, I spent a few hours in the park photographing some friends.  A family, actually, who we met when they started at Abeona last fall and who remind us of Helen and Paul.  There is just this glow about them — their happiness, their manners, their causal and friendly approach — that reminds us of the friends we miss.  My mind goes there anyway this time of year.  My eyes linger a little longer on the photograph taped to the fridge, the one Helen took of our kids and husbands together in Music Together class.  Seeing it presses the work of being a better person, living more fully, and being grateful into my daily grind.  Then there was a random email about the need for our community to take a stand, again, against crime.  (For those who aren’t up on NOLA news, our Mayor showed up long enough to cut funding on anti-crime activities in a petty hissy fit that the City Council wouldn’t sign off on the ridiculously high salaries for his sycophants.)

These thoughts have had me feeling a bit lost for the past day or so.  Just… off.  Questioning, again, why we work so hard to be here?  Thinking, what would happen if we just… ?

But it’s no point thinking about it, really.  There is no other place for us in this country, we know that now.  Even as I dream of a home near the beach, I know that this could only be a weekend escape, a summer retreat.  Not home.  Not New Orleans.  But still, I question my faith.  I wonder if my longing for this place puts us at risk or inflicts undue hardship.  If life were easier, would we be happier?  I think that I don’t know the answer, so the question remains, plaguing me.

So the affirmation and support from other writers was a huge boost to my spirits.  Especially to see that Lisa, a vineyard owner in California, made the space to so elegantly write about New Orleans and several bloggers — even me, who she pinned so neatly and squarely you’d think we’d been buddies for years.  Amazing, timing wise.  A little holiday cheer so neatly placed right before me.

My favorite thing?  The award is in Portuguese.  (The Spanish would read something like ‘Este Blog invierte y cree en la proximidad.’  Although Jenny or Alejna could probably do better than that with the English, Spanish, and Portuguese translations than I have.)

I’ll pass on the love shortly; once my thoughts settle and clear.

I’m trying to figure out where this award originated?  Any one better at the google search for this type of thing?


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I did it?

Everyday I blogged for the 30 day month of November.

I like that I was forced to think of something to write each day.

It did take me away from my research in the sense that it was time not committed to translating or considering codes.  But it made me think about writing, and the things I like to write about.  Even if I didn’t get a chance to finish what I wanted to say — more than a few days I just filled what I could.

After reading Alejna’s post about the event, I am realizing that there is a lot more I could have done and gotten out of the experience.  I didn’t log-on to the website at all, didn’t participate.  Maybe I should do it again and see what happens?  Or maybe my family will commit me?

UPDATE: I’m doin’ it for December.  What the hell?


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Blog Action Day (After)

Yesterday was Blog Action Day AND Love Your Body Day.

Augh!  Both things I wanted to blog about.  If this were back to the excuse letter, I’d say that I was at a Board Meeting last night for a nonprofit serving the under- and un-insured, and well, doesn’t that give me a little slack?  “No,” says the calendar.  Well, I’m not so good with following rules anyway, so here goes.

The theme for Blog Action Day was POVERTY and one of the reasons I felt compelled to write about it today is because of my great disappointment that no one spoke about it during the debate last night.  The issue of poverty is so dear, so important to me that I’ve thrown myself at three degrees, two schools, a hand-full of countries and a ton of work so that I could understand it better.  Here are two posts I’ve written in the past about poverty.  Global poverty — the fact that 1 in every 6 people on the planet lives on less than $1 a day — is one of the most important issues for us to discuss.  It impacts all of the other issues, things like terrorism, health, economics, and environment, that we are so concerned about in this election.

One thing that was discussed in last night’s debate that has A LOT to do with poverty are free trade agreements.  In particular, the candidate’s discussed the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which McCain supported and Obama (rightly) did not.  Obama very nicely summed up his reasons for not supporting the agreement: there were no environmental and labor protections in it.  The topic of free trade offers great entree to a discussion on poverty.

A Question: how do the free trade agreements supported and promoted by G8, IMF, WB, and most importantly the U.S. impact global poverty?

Answer: one heck of a lot, and not in a good way.

This article sums up the complex issues, ideologies, and major players very well.  It is an important read, because when summed up quickly and succinctly the bottom line goes something like this: The current form of free trade agreements are structured so that the wealthiest maintain solid advantage and the poorest are forced deeper into poverty.  Patricio Aylwin, former President of the Republic of Chile, said the following at the opening ceremony of the Thirty-first session of the FAO Conference where he was delivering the McDougall Memorial Lecture, in honor of Frank McDougall, one of the founders of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Only poverty has been truly globalized in our age. … The over-praised neo-liberalism and the omnipotent market is a mistaken vision and it is the root cause of some of the most serious problems that afflict us.

Like many issues in global health, poverty, and development, there is no quick soundbite that can completely and accurately sum up the issue without sounding extreme.  In a take-my-word-for-it manner, I can sum it up in this way: free trade agreements offer opportunities and protections for multi-lateral corporations that extend far beyond issues of ‘trade’ (here is a video that discusses some of the non-trade issues involved — transcript); free trade agreements disproportionally impact women; free trade agreements further impoverish the rural poor; free trade is often tied to structural adjustment programs, which push countries deeper into neoliberal economic policies that further cripple their poor populations; and finally, that the economic ideologies that dominate World Bank, IMF, and G8 policies are misguided and misreported.  I included a few links that I felt offered relatively short and concise insight into those issues, although the true reading list into these issues is much greater in both length and density.

Instead of offering an economic debate (I spent a good 10 pages of my doctoral comprehensive exams on this, if you are really desperate on my own words), I thought I’d offer a personal account.

When I was working in Honduras in 2003 and 2004, I spent a lot of time traveling to remote villages in the mountains to talk to parteras (traditional birth attendants).  Many of these meetings were pre-arranged, with parteras coming from even more remote areas to gather supplies and attend the trainings and focus groups we conducted.  It was common for us to bring bags of USAID grain along for the ride to be distributed in these areas… bags of USAID grain, which had been grown and processed in the United States, and then shipped to remote farming communities in Honduras which were surrounded by fields of grain and legumes.  What was happening???  Well, the value of the food those farmers were producing had dropped considerably.  Families were forced to sell all that they could grow into order to survive… which meant that they had less food than they needed to live on.  So although they were growing food, they had to sell more and more of what they grew in order to survive — and in very real terms, one season of drought could literally destroy their family.  Their poverty wasn’t just a hard life, it was a live-or-die situation.  The economic forces of structural adjustment and free trade amounted to growth in the country’s export, yes — because families had to produce more in order to compete.  But at the cost of their own health and well-being.  International trade advocates and financial institutions would call this situation a success because of the increase in export goods. The cost to the poor is not part of their equation.

Delivering those bags was a huge reason I decided to go for the PhD in International Health and Development.  I realized in a very real and personal way that the ways in which we approached Global health and issues of poverty were skewed unfairly, and as a citizen of the United States, I felt obligated to at least try and do something about it.

Here are some pictures of us at a clinic delivering those bags in the mountains of north central Honduras (note the “USA” visable on the bags).

Following the lead of Alejna, who got it from Magpie, I will donate $2 to the International Forum on Globalization for every comment made on this post in the next 3 days (until Sunday at midnight — just in case others are late on this, too).

A day late, but better late than never.


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On the blog. Or not.

Went back to a simple, pre-made theme due to some sort of nasty CSS hiccup which refuses to acknowledge set image sizes, orientation, and centering.  I’m realizing that my expectations as a parent may be beyond my capacity.  If I can’t get code to do what I want it to do, how can I expect it of my children?

I’m no great shakes with the ins and outs of the internets.  Or maybe I’m just way too sober to understand it, ’cause this stuff is seriously messed up.  Here I am, all dreamy about the world’s countries all getting along.  Ha!  We can’t even get web browsers to play nicely.  And if a world of web geeks can’t get along, what chance does a world full of munitions and Sarah Palin supporters have?

I do intend to continue the renovation of the site into the monument of narcissim, therapy substitute, motherhood blogwhoring, documentation of lives and love I have envisioned.  What else am I going to do in all my spare time?


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