Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grandma Estelle

My mother's grandmother - on the maternal side - was a spitfire. I knew her barely - she died when I was eight - but I have vivid memories of her. I loved her. My mother says that Grandma Estelle would laugh when I was rowdy and would tell my mother that I was just like my mother when my mother was that age. I believe there was some "what goes around, comes around" mirth in Grandma Estelle's voice when she made that observation.

I remember once that she gave me a real tomahawk that I destroyed in an afternoon. Hey, I was five. Hopefully it wasn't real. I think it was though - maybe not real as in dangerous, but as in a real Indian toy (as we have Cherokee blood going very far back - to the Trail of Tears actually). When it didn't last in my five-year-old hands, she told me not to worry. Things happen. I loved my Grandma Estelle.

A few weeks ago, my mother (who is moving to Chicago from El Paso and so is downsizing) carefully had wrapped and shipped a set of wine glasses that belonged to Grandma Estelle. Actually, I think they might be liqueur glasses, or perhaps martini ones. They're beautiful. One set is lovely pink with grapes etched on them - not big, but the etched grapes are my clue they likely were intended as wine glasses. Another set - of four - are clear with a red base. In these four, I see my grandma. She had that flair of color, just like the red does on these glasses. I look at these glasses, and see my grandma - drinking from them, yes - but actually, I can see her choosing them too. The pink set was chosen for company. The red set was chosen just because.

Here are the pink:

And here are the red:

And here is my cat Annie attempting to navigate the huge box that delivered the glasses:


Just back from California - and the Hollywood Pitch Festival (speed dating for writers looking for agents, managers, production companies...) All went well. Did lose my voice from talking. Did meet some really great people. Did secure funding for at least one project (just did that Monday, actually - after the fact....)

I drove as well - hadn't had a road trip in awhile. It was fun, but a little too whirlwind... had to get back to take care of the law - hmm... that sounds like I'm the sheriff or something.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Turkey Babies

I have posted in the past about Tom, the wild turkey wandering the grounds of my office complex. A couple weeks ago, I saw Tom and his lady friend pecking at seeds in the grass so I knew he (and they) were still around.

Then one day, I heard a turkey gobble - slightly different from the normal gobble, but definitely with that turkey guttural sound with it too. Then I heard a "cheep, cheep" sweet sound. Then I heard a gobble - and a cheep - and a gobble - and a cheep... and thought, what the heck is going on?

I went to my office door - and saw a baby turkey! Oh my gosh, did he look sweet. He had gotten separated from his mama, and was standing on the brick walkway in front of my office door that leads up the steps to my office. Mama Turkey was down the way along the grass, on the brick path that starts a few feet to the right from where the baby stood. All the baby knew was that his Mom was directly in front of him as the crow flies - and as the turkey flies, if they flew, but it appears they do not (at least not when they are babies).

I watched as the baby - cheep, cheep - tried to jump up towards the sound of his mother's gobble (rather than realize that if he first waddled away from her voice to the right, he would find a crossing brick pathway perpendicular to where he stood that could get him to her much more easily). By jumping toward where he heard her, this baby turkey kept landing - smack dab! - into the low concrete wall that lined the pathway of the bricks leading to me. Ouch! (I thought, as I watched him smack his face into the wall, trying to follow his mother's gobble and get to her). Ouch, and ouch again (I thought, as he tried this trick two more times).

For as much as I did not want to get in the way of the call of nature (and turkey), I felt I could not just stand there and watch him hit his head against the wall - both proverbially and literally - so I did what I knew would help: I opened the door to my office.

He turned towards the sound I made to his left and looked - startled by my actions - and instinctively took off to run away from that sound, and me. He skedaddled a few feet to his right, and in that direction was the pathway that his mother had taken, and where she stood (some yards away) waiting for him to join her.

I knew he'd find her now. I didn't have to see the reunion to know it would happen as I watched him round the corner and take off on the pathway towards where she was.

But curiosity got the better of me anyway, and I stepped out of my office and walked the path that he had gone - only to see a passel of them (is it a gaggle or flock?) - gathered with the Mom - oh my gosh, how cute was that!! - there were about five or six brothers and sisters that patiently waited with Mama for their unfortunate wayward brother to join them.

And so there they were - turkey babies! Looking suspiciously like goslings (is the best I can describe it).

This was the best photo I was able to take - it is not particularly good - but it does show, just next to the shadow, the baby turkey scurrying away from me and toward the brick path that leads to his left (and to his mother):

And then here is a photo of his mother with the other babies (though the siblings are nearly impossible to see) around the corner from where he was:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Affordable Care Act

It's a week later and I'm still rife with thoughts and opinions about the outcome of the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.

When I saw the outcome last week, I called my mother. She said that she had just heard too. She and I had discussed potential outcomes earlier in the month. She said, "It's just like you said it would be." I responded, "It is nothing like I said it would be." Other than the ultimate outcome of affirmance, I suppose - which I had calculated the chances of that happening at 60 percent (for the entire thing), and at 80 to 85 percent (for all but the individual mandate). I had the vote at 6-3 for all or all-but (possibly 5-4 for all and 6-3 for all-but), with Justice Kennedy being the determining factor and Chief Justice Roberts - looking to his legacy in part, being a careful jurist in part - siding with Justice Kennedy siding with affirmance.

So really, the only thing I guessed correctly was that Roberts was aware of the significance of this vote. I hear it is the first time in a 5-4 vote that he has sided with what they call the "liberal" faction of the Court (Justice Brennan would be horrified by the use of that term for all those four - who are excellent jurists, don't get me wrong - but back when Justice O'Connor became thought of as one of the "liberals" on the Court, the term "liberal" no longer meant what it used to mean).

What I have stated privately to a person or two is my disappointment in Justice Scalia. He is the one who has spearheaded an increasingly expansive view of the Commerce Clause - until now. His rhetoric during oral argument of this case in April (I did read a lot of it) just solidified my growing concern that he is first a political animal and only as an afterthought a careful jurist. It hurts my heart to see this, especially because he is so intelligent. But it does seem these days that he has no qualms about becoming a weapon against fair and careful justice whenever it suits him, regardless of inconsistency with his previous opinions. That is bad for the Court, and bad for the country.

I really do love the law - I respect its process and believe we should be able to trust in it. The fact that Justice Scalia took such a hard right turn away from where he has been headed with his interpretation of the Commerce Clause... well, it deeply disappoints this officer of the court. The other justices - Alito, Thomas, even Justice Kennedy - I believe their dissent in this case. Justice Scalia? I don't believe his dissent, because I sincerely believe - knowing what I do about his past decisions dealing with the Commerce Clause - that he would have affirmed if the ACA were nicknamed Bushcare. That kind of partisanship on the Court is sheer poison to the rule of law in this country.

It all gives me despair - and yet hope too, as I keep realizing how much there is to appreciate about our Chief Justice's approach, especially in light of Justice Scalia's behavior. I still think the law should have been found legal under the Commerce Clause, given the progression of the law surrounding the Commerce Clause in recent years. But I am satisfied with the outcome that the Court did reach. It allows me to maintain hope in our rule of law.

I saw this article this a.m., which outlines a lot of what I believe about this decision about where it was headed. (I disagree with the Chief Justice's summary of what would have happened had the Court affirmed the ACA via the Commerce Clause, by the way - there was a way to allow it, and to interpret "interstate commerce" when it comes to health care that would have justified it under the Commerce Clause while not creating the "slippery slope" that he outlines in his opinion - which is why I thought there would have been a different outcome on that issue.) What is interesting about the article is that the rollback of the Commerce Clause is exactly what the Chief Justice would have been expected to do (and exactly what I would have expected Justice Scalia not to do). So Justice Scalia has cut himself off at the knees, so to speak, by letting there be this 5-4 decision that reigns in the Commerce Clause when he has, in the past, used the Commerce Clause to advance all sorts of federal regulation. It would seem that, perhaps this one time, Justice Scalia's too-clever-by-half approach may get in the way of hard turns he may wish to make in the future when it comes to upholding application of the Commerce Clause in laws he does like.

Anyway, here is a link to the article - it's worth the read: