Monday, August 30, 2010

Everyone You Know

Lazar, The Good Deed Dog, by Myrna Gelman Shanker, and happily illustrated by me is in the good hands of the publisher now. I spoke with the graphics person today, and she said she already loves this book because her parents were in an assisted living apartment until her mother passed on. We all are aging at the same speed. We have loved ones who are elderly, or we're winding our own way on that special path. I asked the kind person on the phone to please make sure that Mrs. Mandelbaum (a beloved drawing in the book) is eating. Mrs. Mandelbaum, I believe, has Alzheimer's and needs special care.

The lovely graphics person also has a Golden Retriever, who I'm sure is as wonderful as Lazar, The Good Deed Dog. Her favorite character is Mr. Cohen, who although he's nattily wearing a suit and tie, still comfortably wears his bedroom slippers.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cats Against Literacy

T-shirts for folks who know cats are smarter than we are. For Pat Fero, who pointed out that cats are on your book, keyboard or monitor when you're writing or reading. First design in this line - available for sale at Blue Frog Art on CafePress. If you can find this shop, and this art, you're one clever cat!

Women's Equality Day

Thanks to Alice Paul, all who cherish the right to vote, Rep. Bella Abzug. 90 years ago women got the vote. Yet today there are 16 million unmarried women out there who have not even registered to vote. That means divorced, widowed, separated, or single: the fastest growing demographic in voting America. If you're not registered to vote - married or not - please do before the election cycle this year. If you are registered, get to the polls in support of your choices.

Time to wear a new hat: the VOTE hat.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beckie's Heart Jewelry

Beckie's jewelry fixings are finding new homes. The website is up, and there is elegant and whimsical jewelry. A few dozen boxes of sets Beckie made are out gifting. Sister to Sister heart foundation will continue their good work, educating and encouraging women to take care of their hearts. I'm enjoying the process of creating and contributing in Beckie's name. Learning about stones, and jewelry-making tools and photo options. The photography is playful when the jewelry piece is, too. The Jolly Rancher Martini bracelet here is in a martini glass, with a fake ice cube I found. I love the color play on the glass sides.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Frogs on Windowsills

Nancy Mills took this picture of a Gray Tree Frog (Hyla Versicolor) on the windowsill at their farmhouse. Can't tell if this visitor is a male or female, because we can't hear singing. Stephanie Mills writes of a versicolor frog on her windowsill in "Epicurean Simplicity." Frogs on windowsills. Are they longing to be indoors with us? Are they beckoning us outdoors to share nature with them?

Whose DNA Is It Anyway?

Women got some of their genes back this year, thanks to the ACLU, women's health advocates and good doctors and researchers. The lawsuit filed in 2009 charged patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office to Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation for breast and ovarian cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are unconstitutional. The patents allowed Myriad and its minions to deny research and testing on mutations in these genes. And it allowed Myriad Genetics to charge for any test done to detect potentiality for developing breast cancer in women with family history. On March 29 a New York federal court ruled the patent invalid.

The National Cancer Institute, while gamely answering a question "How much does BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing cost?" does not mention anywhere that Myriad Genetics holds the patent on these genes. It answers: The cost for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation testing usually ranges from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Insurance policies vary with regard to whether or not the cost of testing is covered. People who are considering BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation testing may want to find out about their insurance company’s policies regarding genetic tests.

The U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on 20% of the identified human genome. Perhaps the patents are held by genetic pharmaceutical companies that state "Our goal is to introduce new molecular diagnostic products that provide life-saving information, improve the quality of life, and save the healthcare system money," as Myriad claims.

But the company issued a press release the day after the NY court decision vowing to fight the patent decision. How this adds to women's quality of life, and saving the healthcare system money is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Liz Claiborne

Tagless shirts are a great idea - except that they're not tagless. The neckline may be stenciled, but there were 3 t-h-r-e-e tags sewn in waist high on this shirt. I don't know anyone whose waist is less sensitive than their neck. Stop putting tags there! Removal requires a seam ripper and resewing the seam. Sew these nuisances into the hem for easy detachment. And Liz? Vietnam? Really? American garment workers are out of work. More sure of that than Claiborne apparel paying the Vietnamese workers globally competitive living wages.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Equal Pay for Women"

Robert Gibbs needs to think before he gives interviews. From a White House press office that tsked McChrystal and his staff yapping without supervision, we get Gibbs suggesting the professional left needs to be drug tested. Among the many gaffes, goofs and guffaws in his interview, he touts the administration getting "equal pay for women" mandated. Did I miss this historic event? Is he talking about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, that just resets the discriminatory pay practice clock with each smaller paycheck? Last I checked women still make 79 cents for every dollar men make. Laud accomplishments, but don't overlaud. The professional left, and their drugs, are listening.

The Works of Man

Rachel Maddow spoke last night about the juxtaposition of not retiring the Bush tax cuts while laying off policemen, cutting school days, browning-out fire crews, shutting off city streetlights and unpaving roads. WSJ wrote about this road phenomena in July. 38 counties of 83 in Michigan have done this; either pulling up asphalt to be recycled elsewhere, or returning the roads to ground-up asphalt or gravel. Cost difference: maintaining an asphalt road = $75,000/mile. Maintaining a chewed road = $2,600/mile. Residents interviewed in S. Dakota do not want taxes raised to maintain the roads. Neither do they want the roads chewed. Reality checking is apparently someone else's job. Probably the same in MI, although I can't find anything on the internet about which 38 counties have experienced the un-roading.

Roads and cities emerged from the lumbering, mining and industry in Michigan. When the lumber was gone (one baron thought it would last forever, having never set foot in Michigan himself) by 1890, the cities were ghosts. In the 20 year timber boom from 1870 to 1890, logging roads were laid as fast as the trees were downed. The picture here is of the lumber town at Scammon Cove on Drummond Island. A narrow-gauge train track hauled logs right out into the water to be loaded on ships. There is little evidence of the town now. Drummond Island has trees again - and the logging trucks once more face you down coming from Glen Cove on a newly asphalted road.

Scammon Cove is for sale. It is beautiful, one of the finest views I've seen. The Stone House is for sale, too, as one piece with the Cove, although there are private homes between the House and the Cove acres. If you walk the grass track to the Cove where the railroad pilings stare crookedly at the sky, and look down in the water, you can see the metal railroad footings. But Mother Nature has taken the land back. There are no tall trees there - the great pine of Michigan's Upper Peninsula was taken away, but the birds sing, and the wind whispers in the scrub, and the bear, deer and young coyote who faced me down on the path don't miss the works of man. Not a bit.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beckie's Heart

Rebecca Carolyn [Conrad] Raupp died on July 14, 2010 at 3:00 a.m. Beckie was a beautiful soul, a loving heart, a fine woman and my best friend. She died of complications from a heart condition, having been hospitalized from May, 2009.

Beckie was 41 years old. She is survived by her husband, Russell, and her two sons, Jacob and Lucas, aged 11 and 9. Her husband and sons need prayers and love to heal, and I’m sending my love to them right now.

Beckie’s husband called me and asked if I would like Beckie’s jewelry-making equipment and supplies. I said yes, please. Beckie loved to make jewelry, made a lot of it over the years, and as she can no longer do this, I can and will for her. Honoring Beckie’s mighty heart, protecting other hearts, and encouraging clinical study, advocacy and support of women, I will create with joy and purpose.

I contacted Sister to Sister because any jewelry made from Beckie’s jewels, beads and beautiful findings must be in the world, helping to raise awareness of women’s health, and especially women’s heart health; and it is women who will do this for each other. Every jewelry piece will be given in exchange for a donation to Sister to Sister, and if purchased individually, all proceeds will benefit the Sister to Sister Foundation.

Beckie’s heart – the beautiful glowing love she shared so generously with all who knew her – will live on, doing good in the world, contributing to the knowledge base, helping other women to live well, long, and with love.

Thanks to Sister to Sister: The Women’s Heart Health Foundation, my heart – and many others - can be strong and heal as well.

Visit Beckie's Heart Jewelry here, and stay tuned for photos of designs!

Monday, August 2, 2010


Reading "The Other Brain." Still. I'm going to have to call and extend my lend. While I'm reading, there are stories related popping into view. An article on NPR about the launch of DSM IV "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders." Grief has had its "bereavement exclusion" removed in this edition. The committee that chooses what's a disorder, and what's not, decided you've got two weeks to get over it, otherwise it's depression. I've written about how "disorder" got into the DSM (Dr. Robert Spitzer, singlehandedly) and how we can be medicated right out of all emotion, if we allow it.

Dr. Mark Hyman blogs about how to fix your autoimmune disorder. We're just learning about the role of white matter in the brain, glia, and the sentinel cells that, while each is scouting for invaders that are not "you" can also create issues when trying to repel boarders. Fascinating stuff! I'm glad my brain and its peripheries are working, even when I think the whole lot has gone on holiday.

This illustration was drawn for a college biology textbook. I was thumbing through the index, looking for another piece of art, and bumped into "oligodendrocytes." I drew this, not knowing anything about the subject. Knowing a little tiny bit now, I'm thrilled with how our protectors hold hands, get footholds, and quietly do what the charming book "All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten" suggested: when out in public, or on vigil in microscopic privacy, it's best to hold hands.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vacations for the Caint

Caint afford, caint leave, caint go, caint ditch deadlines. I need a vacation. So I'm having one right now. I've got an hour. I went outside and smelled the cooler night air. Michigan has nice nights in August, and I'm enjoying this one. I had a cool shower with my favorite (saved for hour vacations) gel - Pangea Organics Canadian Pine and White Sage. I stayed in the shower until I smelled like the Michigan UP pine woods. I'm playing my favorite music. I have a cold, cold Full Circle beer from New Holland Brewing (Art in Fermented Form - who can resist that tagline?) The sheets are laundered and smell sweet. I won't be back from vacation until morning. I'm away from my desk. I will not be checking voicemail, email, or my pulse. I love vacations.