Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Ended My Strike - A Recipe for Good Eating

A few weeks ago, I declared personal strike refusing to post more recipes. What had triggered this decision was the Supreme Court’s voiding a provision of the Family Leave Act. I was furious at this attack on the job security of working women, specifically women working for a state government or state university who can now no longer sue the state if they are denied family leave under the act.  I’m still angry, but is my small symbolic act making a difference?

I reflected on that last week when my husband and I saw the play Her Naked Skin written by the British playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz. It was originally performed in London. We saw it performed at Stage 773 in Chicago by The Shattered Globe Theatre directed by Roger Smart. The play is about the militant faction of the British suffragette movement and relationship conflicts they had as they campaigned for votes for women. They committed acts of disruption for which they were often imprisoned. In prison, these women often went on hunger strikes and were violently and abusively force-fed. Some militant suffragettes died for the cause. Her Naked Skin is worth seeing and runs through June. To Chicago area readers out there, I recommend your seeing it.

As for women’s suffrage, some British women were granted the right to vote in 1918 – women over 30 who owned property or who were married to men who owned property. (This was a year ahead of American women and 25 years after New Zealand women.) In 1928, women’s suffrage was extended to all British women over the age of 21. Did their hunger strikes further their cause? We’ll never know because many strategies were being employed simultaneously in the Votes for Women Movement. My hunch is that the hunger strikes hurt the women doing them more than it helped their cause.

Granted, I’m hardly starving because I’ve stopped posting recipes and neither is anyone else reading my posts. Nevertheless, since many enjoy the recipes and I enjoy writing them, I think I’ll start posting them again and here is one as I resume posting my recipes.

It’s fake crab meat and zucchini. It feeds three and preparation time is 20 minutes. It’s good served with rice. That gives us plenty of time left over to contemplate what we’ll do next to make the world a better place.

                                              Fake Crabmeat and Zucchini

8 oz fake crabmeat (usually made from pollock or cod.)
1 zucchini sliced
mushrooms sliced
½ yellow or red bell pepper diced
1 diced onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
some chopped ginger root to taste
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Start cooking the rice. While it’s cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Saute the garlic, onion, and ginger root for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, pepper, and zucchini for 3 more minutes. Add the crabmeat. Then add the lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Let everything cook together for 5 minutes. Serve hot with the rice.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

1968 All Over Again? I Hope Not

All of us in Chicago have been forewarned. We’ve been told on the local news and in the newspapers of the police plans to contain the demonstrations. We’ve been told of the security measures being taken by Metra [commuter trains] and about all the places in Chicago that will be closed on May 19th and 20th. We’ve been told that the Chicago police will contain the march so that violence isn’t allowed and freedom of speech is preserved. It sounds like it’s all supposed to scare us into staying home and thus far, my bet is that this goal will be achieved.

People from across America have been arriving. Maybe they weren’t told of the police plans or maybe they don’t remember the 1968 Democratic Convention that vividly. Either way, various groups have announced plans to march, among them the Nurses’ Association who will hold a march on March 18th.  Meanwhile, I, who am on the e-mail lists of almost every progressive group, have received no e-mails at all informing me of the marches or asking me to participate. Nothing from Nothing from the Occupy groups. Nothing from the pro-immigration groups. Nothing. The silence is deafening. Is there a glitch in my e-mail or something more? Either way, I don’t like the sound of it.

Yes, I was against the War in Iraq before it started and still think that America should make a total exit as soon as possible. Yes, I was against the War in Afghanistan, also. The war was launched against Al Quaeda which is not part of any specific country. I still feel that this amorphous body could be more effectively combated by covert actions to foil terrorist plots against Americans rather than by wars that destroy the Middle East one country at a time. The purpose of NATO has been to provide for a common defense so that we are all safe. Will people be protesting these wars in which NATO has been participating or will this bring out people protesting a plethora of injustices? 

Yet, that is not what is worrying me now. What is worrying me is that all these efforts to contain the demonstrators feels like an assault on our right to free speech. Has the Patriot Act totally negated it? How many rights are we willing to give up for total security? Will the Chicago Police act calmly or will we see a repeat of 1968? Do we still have the right to speak freely? Will the helicopters be hovering overhead taking pictures of all the demonstrators as they did during the War in Vietnam? Will there be agents provacateurs fomenting violence?

In another few days, we will know the answers to these questions. I’m anxious to find out the answers.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Is Art and Why Collect It?

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s newest wing was designed by the noted architect Santiago Calatrava. The building itself is well worth a trip and our reason for driving up there from Chicago (90 miles away) to see it. Once there, we viewed the exhibits which were equally interesting.

An exhibit that just ended on Sunday May 6th was “Accidental Genius,” the collection of 200 works from the Anthony Petullo Collection. The collection represented self-taught artists from the United States and Europe many previously unknown. Their stories were varied. Some painted in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. Others, because of poverty, had never had an opportunity to study art. The result was that many of the artists had a refreshing way of expressing themselves generally thinking outside the box of art convention. Some of the artwork appeared somewhat childlike and na├»ve to me but other pieces seemed really impressive. One artist in particular did large intricate canvasses totally in pen and pencil. Another Minnie Evans (1892-1987) from Long Creek, North Carolina, used oil and pencil on paper to paint portrait-like pictures of mythical looking figures. Some of her work has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Friedrich Schroeder Sonnenstern, a German artist who lived from 1892-1982, used pencil and crayon layered over paint washes to do allegorical drawings. Others expressed themselves through sculpture or other art media. It makes one think about what art is and who should be the one to decide.  It makes you think and that has to be a good thing.

I was curious about what motivated Anthony Petullo, a retired Milwaukee businessman, to spend four decades collecting the artwork of largely unknown, self-taught artists. I’m happy to say that he has been able to protect himself on the internet from nosy people like me. I couldn’t find any information about him. In videos that he made for the Museum to advertise the exhibit, he said that collecting this art became a challenge and a passion for him and that he often identified with the art which was made from a fresh perspective. At any rate, it was an eye opener for anyone who was able to view the exhibit. I’ll be looking for more of it in the future.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

If There Is A God, What Is She Thinking?

I’ve always thought that the world would be a better place if everyone practiced the ethics of whatever religion he (or she) claimed to follow. After all, don’t all religions adhere to the Golden Rule – Do unto others what you’d have them do unto you.

With this in mind, I was very interested to read a column by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post syndicated in the May 2nd Chicago Tribune. She reported that the budget passed by the House authored in large part by Rep. Paul Ryan (Rep-Wisconsin) was rebuked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They said that they feel that any budget should help “the least of these” –the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the jobless. “A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons,” they said.

Representative Ryan has his rationale for shortchanging the poor – that they need initiative to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and the rich need to be able to donate to them more easily by having the current array of tax cuts and loopholes.

It’s somewhat dangerous to second guess which side of the argument God is on, but I’m glad that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops didn’t allow Paul Ryan to claim God as his ally in his quest to gut any social safety net that we have left. All those who believe in God want to feel that God is on their side, too.

In the future, however, I hope that we can leave our individual ideas of God’s thoughts out of this conversation that we’re trying unsuccessfully to have in America across regional, religious, ethnic, and ideological divides. It seems close to impossible to come to a consensus as it is. If we add “God says,” it makes it that much harder to come up with a response. “Well I disagree with God on this one” one might say. But then the other person might say, “How dare you disagree with God!” and walk away in a huff. Or one could say, “God didn’t say that!” And the other person could say, “He did so!” Either way, at that point, the conversation is over and any chance at finding a solution has eluded us once again. So now that we’ve all had our say about what we think God thinks, let’s just leave God out of this. I think we need to figure something out together without her.