A corn-y answer

Last summer I posted a blog about our trip out west, and because I was living out of a suitcase for several weeks, took a shortcut and grabbed a photo of a corn field off the Internet.

Over the last several months I’ve noticed a flush of hits on my blog from people seeking out “corn field” or “pictures of corn” and sure enough, when I do a Google image search, my blog’s the second one.

So I got a little antsy about the photo, as it clearly belongs to someone else, and was just on the Web. I set out to track down the photographer, just to make sure it was okay to use the photo. The name that kept coming up in searches was “Misir Tarlasi.”

I searched around for that. Found someone on Facebook, and messaged them to see if he or she was the photographer. Tracked down a bunch of leads on Google searches, etc., for various places overseas, most of which were in a foreign language, so I could see these people were working hard for their crops but not exactly which of them was Mr./Ms. Tarlasi.

After several weeks, I finally came up with the information I was looking for. Misir Tarlasi? It means “corn field” in Turkish.

So, thank you, unnamed photographer whose picture graces my page. It is indeed a lovely view, one repeated for miles across the great American Midwest, our very own misir tarlasi.

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Yes, Virginia, the Amish eat pizza

Over the past two years, I’ve had occasion to become involved with a group of traditional Amish in our county. They’ve done some work for me, and I’ve done some work for them, and it’s been a delightful association.

When I travel to the community, I’m always struck by the slower pace of their lifestyle, and the healthy, homemade nature of their tablefare. Would I like my children to have natural foods grown from my garden?  Sure, and we do that for as much of the year as we can. (And the rest of the year, as we’ve canned.)

Of course, I also see that the men and women work long hours to accomplish the same tasks we can do in minutes, thanks to our machinery, grocery stores, and dare I say it, Wal-Mart. We visited one day when it was noodle-making time. Two long tables were covered in white paper and small piles of hand-cranked noodles graced every few inches, drying in the sun. The Cabana Boy and I were both fascinated with the small pasta making device and just watched in amazement. Could we do that? Sure. But where would we find time for so much else that has taken over our lives?

(We are growing our own sprouts and baking our own granola. It’s a start.)

Our family is too hopelessly tech-i-fied at this point, I’m afraid, to ever consider a switch to the Amish life. The Cabana Boy’s head would explode away from his cable modem line, and I’m so entrenched in the word processor and Internet at this point, it’s the only place my girls can find me on a regular basis. A life without cartoons for my scripted ones?  Perish the thought.

Our friends in the community are generous to a fault. Whenever we stop out, we never leave without a basket of fresh fruit, or a crisp cookie for the children. Imagine our surprise recently when we uncovered the plate sent home with us to reveal–pizza?

Now I have to tell you this was no Papa John’s stuffed crust extravaganza, piled high with gourmet toppings. But a thin bread crust, topped with a tomato sauce and homemade cheese?  What else could it be?

Pondering this earth-shaking revelation as we headed home, we considered what other modern wonders might still be hidden behind those painted Amish doors.  Are there  hand-whipped mango-peach protein pack smoothies shared by giggling girls in the larders?  Do the elders sit on the porch of an evening  by candlelight with hand ground lattes and biscotti? Are there…briefcases?

Some things we’ll never know. It could be better that way.

Lessons of 9/11

Millions of words have been dedicated to the tragedy that was 9/11/2001. Nothing I could write could add to the depth of the sorrow, shock or loss that so many suffered that day. Nothing I can do would add to hope that we are safer, or satisfaction that those responsible have been punished–not even our government has accomplished that.

All I can do is think back to that morning, turning on the television just after the first tower was hit, as the morning news show in New York was shaken up by what seemed then to be a random accident.

As the events unfolded, we in the Northeast panicked and worried and held our collective breaths for hours until it became clear that the attack was over. But that day, unlike any other before or since, my Internet ‘family’ offered support, love and encouragement as we all stayed in touch, from Pennsylvania, to Florida, to Ohio, to California, to Texas and back through the Internet, in chat rooms or through instant messaging. We shared news and tears and figuratively held one another’s hands, praying that our loved ones and those of our countrymen would be safe.

Unlike many other events in our history, technology made it possible for Americans as a nation to be in direct communication with each other at a moment of crisis. The extent of television coverage brought news into homes with an extent of detail and image (who will ever forget the sight of those towers crumbling?) that wouldn’t have been possible a few decades before. Instantaneous posting of news accessible on the Internet kept anyone paying attention up to the moment with information.

Even cell phones had become so common that passengers on the doomed plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania heard from those on the ground what was happening via phone and took action accordingly. Those same phones allowed many of the victims to have a chance to say goodbye, in Pennsylvania, D.C. and New York.

The nation seemed much smaller on that day, all of us closer, bonded together by tragedy in a way that all the prosperity in the world hadn’t been able to accomplish. Technology helped that bond, by putting us at each other’s fingertips. In recovering from 9/11, we had the opportunity to continue to work as one, with our security and safety as a goal.

But the headlines today say we are no longer united by our fear and desires, as we were then. We are once again drenched in political strife, the divisive parties engaged in business as usual, each using its energy to denigrate and destroy the other instead of working together to make us safe and whole. The government bureaucracy around national security has burgeoned like a mushroom cloud, costing billions of dollars; but have they really made the average man on the street any safer? What Washington has spent here and abroad on the war–three TRILLION dollars — has cost us a stable economy and the opinion of many around the world.

The Bush administration may or may not have entered into this Mideast war for the right reasons; what’s clear at this point is that the objective has not exceeded, and that long-awaited satisfaction will not be achieved. We just continue to sacrifice our people and the people of the nations we are supposed to be protecting, while spending money we could be using in much more constructive ways.

If we have learned nothing from the 9/11 attack, as the adage says, then we are doomed to repeat it. The 21st century doesn’t call for business as usual. What matters in this day and age is much greater than petty interparty politics and earmarks and fistbumps, or even America vs. the world.

The global situation in the 21st century demands that we take our collective power, the same unifying power we discovered back on 9/11, and put that power to work for human concerns, for global concerns like starvation in Africa, animal extinction in Alaska, ice melting in Antarctica, and for America, perhaps the outlandish thought that people committed to love and honor each other should be allowed to marry, have rights and raise families–no matter what their gender. And that’s just the A’s.  There’s lots of letters left. Let’s get together and build a world we can all be proud of.

You can’t handle the truth!

So there we were, at the Dublin, Ohio Irish Festival this weekend, all of us, even the wee ones, doing what my older children still think is one of the crazier things I do: waiting to encounter someone I met on the Internet.

This delightful woman Daisyfae is the author of Trailer Park Refugee, one of the first blogs I found last December when I was still a blog virgin, and from time to time I remain convinced I am not fit to worship even her shoes, if she wore any. If you read her for awhile, you’ll see what I mean. Or even more so.

Anyway, there we were, with about a thousand other people, awaiting the appearance of our mutually-admired Irish band, Gaelic Storm, trying to track each other across the huge grounds by cell phone tag. Fortunately, Little Miss was wearing the coral-pink cowboy hat she got at her grandmother’s, which just shouted ‘trailer park!’, apparently, so we found each other.

Daisyfae was traveling with her friend Mr. K, and as soon as the Cabana Boy announced he was addicted to World of Warcraft, that was it. Mr. K (apparently named for a Gaelic Storm song, as was some lucky soul from West Virginia) confessed that he, too, was a recovering WoW addict. And they were off.

This was our chance. Daisyfae in her corset and I in my slinky black shirt slipped off into the crowd gathered by the front of the stage to peer up over the edge into the bright lights. There was the guitar man, Steve Twigger, bent over checking out his equipment, while we were checking out his… well. You know. Equipment. Heavenly. And Pete, the Canadian…well sorry, Patrick, he doesn’t HAVE to do anything to just be hawt. You know?

As we were dancing there in front of the stage, Steve and Pete invited us up on stage just like we were Alicia Silverstone! We considered our professional reputations, of course, the time of night, the phase of the moon, and glanced over at our men, still engaged in Trolls, Wizards and animated warfare, and then said “Hell yes!”

The crowd was great! Before we knew it, we were singing with the band, and heck, I learned how to play fiddle in about 30 seconds and my bow was blazin’! Daisyfae was drumming away with Ryan on his big box drum like she’d been born to it. These guys are a lot of fun, and Daisyfae and I, well, we know all about a sense of humor and a good time, so we led the audience contest for “Me and the Moon,” and we won!

After the set, they of course asked us if we wanted to make the rounds of the local pubs with them, you know, to make it a night, and we….we… um. Well we sure would have liked to. Yep.

You know, Patrick kind of summed it up here:

Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story, No harm, no foul, no crime

Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story….it’ll get ’em every time.

So we’ll let the story stand. But it was a shiny meeting, and a great geekspeak exchange. Even Little Miss came up to shake hands with everyone. And if anyone had an axe, I never saw it.

Am I a writer yet??

While I participate in the writer’s soap opera As The Nervous Stomach Turns, waiting to hear back from agents and editors about my novel manuscripts, I alternate between dark bouts of never wanting to pick up a word processor again and the juicy buzz of hot flowing prose.

My husband is so pleased, because unfortunately he catches the downsides of both ends. But he’s young. He’ll survive.

In the meantime, there are the occasional publishing and financial successes that encourage me. In December, I’ll have one of 50 stories in the book A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women. I’ve recently had a book review published for Wolf Pirate Publishing. Next week, I’ll see in print an article on a topic I first addressed here, dealing with the threats of the Patriot Act as a writer doing research, in a newsletter called Absolute Write. (And I got PAID!!)

And this week, I’ve been hired/selected as the tech writer for Firefox News, not to be confused with the Mozilla browser folks. This Firefox has a cast of authors who cover entertainment news from a fan point of view, but look at the scene with a very broad eye to keep its readers informed. The tech writer–me!!– as I understand it, will cover the gamut from Internet to gadgets to…whatever sounds like something people ought to know about technology.

Shameless self-promotion warning!
Here’s my first article: ReactOS: Bringing Power to the People . I also linked them in my blogroll, because the menu of articles available is varied and interesting. (One of the Mary Sue articles I read there today brought me to tears, laughing.)

Fortunately, the Cabana Boy is a geek, teaching up and coming geeks, and they all have a subject they’re willing to go on about ad infinitum. With any luck, I should be able to produce material long into the future– perhaps as long as the above-mentioned soap opera continues. Now, please excuse me while I sit back to chew my nails till the publishing world calls with my good news.

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Come feel the estrogen at the First Edition of the Women’s Festival, a carnival about and for women!

On true connections

One of the side effects I’ve noticed of our having special children is that we have ‘hermitized’ ourselves. We tend to be insular and stick together and don’t socialize with others, particularly the families we know with neurotypical children the same ages as ours. It saves a lot of explanation. That’s not to say we don’t have a social life. Ours just tends to be cybernetic.

The Internet has been the center of my social life for nearly ten years. I met my husband there, as his character encountered mine in an online RPG where we still play. We have, in turn, sought out many of the people we’ve met online and met them in real life. They are delightful, and no less our friends because we didn’t meet them at the corner bar or grocery store.

Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve met a number of individuals, some of whom are in a similar situation to mine regarding children, but many others are just interesting and articulate and I like them. We’ve shared brief but meaningful moments in passing. It’s a connection.

One of these connections tagged me last week, at
A Broader Mark

It’s taken this long for me to figure out how to reply appropriately, because I’m still learning all the lingo, but here goes:

Okay, here are the rules (copied straight from the blog of the one who tagged me.)
Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Post 7 random or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
Tag 7 people and link to them.
Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

Here are my seven facts.
1. I met my husband on the Internet. Neither of us is an axe murderer. Yet.
2. I am allergic to hairy caterpillars and microfilm.
3. I’ve sung in a nightclub lounge with a band.
4. I’ve had ‘sand in my shoes’ ever since living in South Florida.
5. I’ve written two vampire novels.
6. I think Picard is a better captain than Kirk.
7. Only my hairdresser knows for sure.

My seven victims CONNECTIONS are the following:

My 2008 Blog

Family Adventures

The Herbal Connection

ByJane

What We Need

The Casual Gardener

Whoa Bam Reno

So now we find out more about these friends and relatives, perhaps more than we should, perhaps more than we want to. But we’re staying connected. Tag, you’re the IT girls!