Travel and other talk

Betty here still filling in for the vacationing Rebecca.

I didn't blog last night. I had two reasons for that. 1) I wasn't sure what I could say. 2) Kat will be back in the United States tomorrow and I wanted to clean the place. C.I.'s been here many times because C.I. visits my area often and, to be honest, C.I. dropped by at one of the worst times. The first visit was when both of my boys were sick and the place was wrecked. After that, there's no need to clean like crazy -- when someone's seen you at your worst. Ava and Jess visited this summer and they didn't give a heads up because they weren't sure if they'd be able to swing by (and also because C.I. told them I would clean if I knew they might be coming). I know Kat's coming. She's going to spend a few days. She opened her home to me and my kids in May, I want to make a good impression and make sure my very good friend feels welcome. (And if Kat were to read this, she'd groan. She'd also say her place wasn't "tidy." But it really is. Her work space isn't -- because she's got photos, clay and everything else. But contrary to what she thinks, she keeps her living space very tidy.) I was talking to Wally about this and we were both thinking, "No one visits us." (We're too far from everyone -- I'm in Georgia, he's in Florida.) (C.I.'s visited Wally as well.) So when one of the gang is coming for a visit, it is a big thing.

There are many times when "Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up" (the song I sing when it's time for all of us to clean) is greeted with groans but the kids are so excited about Kat visiting that they were all for it. We'd been gone from the house and only got back Tuesday evening. It needed dusting and quite a bit more.

That's the cleaning reason. The first reason? I called C.I. and was told to just write about it and that no one would mind but I did want to get Rebecca's permission (which I have).

I had five angry e-mails about what I wrote Monday and how dare I say what I said about the reaction in Mexico. Well, I was in Mexico. I spoke to people and I spoke to a lot of students. Mainly because the boys wanted to tag along with C.I..

Announcement: Rebecca and Fly Boy have remarried. Not are going to, they have done it. Rebecca got married in Mexico. She was still on vacation and heard some things about her wedding plans (she and Fly Boy were planning the wedding during her vacation). It was supposed to be small but people were being added and added. She called her mother-in-law who suggested that they get married out of the country and then no one could be offended. Since Mexico is so close to California, Rebecca decided on that location. (That would have C.I. and The Third Estate Sunday Review gang close by.) Mike, Elaine, Cedric, Wally and I were there. (So were Trina and her husband but they came down with the gang from California because they were staying with C.I.)

Rebecca's mother-in-law actually intended the elopement to happen next month but Rebecca and Fly Boy both felt that if they waited any longer, word would get out on that plan and then there would be more people wanting to attend. Some of his family and friends were present. (For an elopement, it was quite a crowd.) Rebecca's grandmother and parents were there. The only one that Rebecca would have liked to be there who wasn't was Kat. Kat, her sisters and her parents are in Ireland on a vacation. Rebecca wasn't going to try to interrupt that.

The boys (my two sons) didn't care for all the fussing that's a normal part of getting any wedding (big or small) ready. C.I. had bumped into a friend right after, right after, we arrived and was asked to speak to a group of students. C.I. said sure. It became nine groups over two days. So the first day, the boys wanted to hang with C.I. to avoid the hotel and all the excitement. My daughter wanted to be with her brothers but wanted me along so we ended up tagging along. Did I speak to everyone in the country? No, I didn't. And the region I was in just may not have cared. But I did speak with students and I did speak with people at the hotel (guests and workers). There wasn't an overwhelming outcry or feeling of unrest.

In other parts of the country, it may be different. But I did more than most of the people 'covering' it did, because I did speak with actual voters. Over and over. I wanted to respond to that but we were avoiding noting it in detail here (for stalkers and other reasons). (Rebecca's wedding will be discussed in the round-robin and there will be pictures. We're not keen on having it online.)

The other question was why I kept talking about how C.I. should be tired? Sherry knew because Rebecca did do a heads up to regular readers explaining when she'd be back and what was going on. Forget that C.I.'s on day whatever of the fast (has been on the CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast since July 4th). The day of the wedding, C.I. spoke to four groups, attended the wedding, attended the party and still managed to post repeatedly. I was exhausted just following along and I didn't post repeatedly. Or have people dropping by to see me because I was in Mexico. C.I.'s nights ended long after midnight. (I turned in at eleven the night of the wedding and, call me an old woman, that may have been the latest I stayed up.) At one point, C.I. took us to this wonderful place and was playing with the kids. I was watching with a weary smile. Too tired to move. Glad the kids were having fun and SO GLAD it was with someone else because Mommy had her shoes off and wasn't putting them back on.

We all worked our best to keep the posts coming up at our own sites. But we do one post a day (tops for some of us) and we were all talking about how the only time we saw C.I. sit down was to open the laptop and do a post.

How did Rebecca look? She's beautiful period. But she was especially beautiful on her wedding day. (Pictures in Friday's round-robin.) I think I'm allowed to note that the wedding was on the beach and at sunset. It was all very beautiful. This was done on the fly so it's amazing how wonderful it turned out. It was also very romantic.

They were just going to do the vows at sunset and "nothing fancy." But then Rebecca's mother-in-law pointed out that my daughter could be a flower girl and one of my sons a ring bearer and before you knew it, it was a full fledged ceremony. (With guitars instead of an organ.) Rebecca and Fly Boy approved or nixed ideas to make it their ceremony and Rebecca's mother-in-law was the chief driver on the wedding. When there was a problem, she'd summon C.I. (by cell phone usually). I admire the woman's strength (Rebecca laughed when I told her that). She wanted a ceremony and she made one happen.

That was the first time the kids and/or I had been to Mexico. It was a whirlwind trip. And my oldest can't wait until the photos we took are developed (I told him they'd be ready tomorrow -- they're actually ready today but I was too tired to run by and pick them up -- sometimes parents lie). I don't usually post on Wednesdays because I'm in church. But I'm just too tired tonight. That's why, as soon as we got home, I wanted the place clean. If I'd waited (or sat down), I would have never gotten up.

But, to the five who e-mailed objecting, I don't know everything. I did do more than most of the media in that I spoke to actual voters. The ones I spoke to may not be "representative." But the poll in the snapshot only has 500 people. I probably heard the opinions of that many just from the people who shared when C.I. was doing the talks.

The wedding was beautiful, the country was beautiful (in many parts). I was able to spend time with everyone but I avoided Cedric. I had Dona pass him a note a few hours after I arrived. I explained that he's a good looking man and I'm a lonely woman, he doesn't want to be around me alone. I was joking but I was also serious. Weddings and not being involved do not go well together. I had this nightmare that I'd end up in bed with Cedric (who is very good looking) and we'd look at each other after and think, "Well there goes that friendship." I called him last night to make sure I hadn't hurt his feelings. I was glad he was okay with it. If I ended up with someone like Cedric, I would be a very lucky woman. But I'm trying to focus on my children and I really don't need to destroy a wonderful friendship because I went to a wedding and suddenly got all these romantic feelings. (Cedric and Wally aren't attached. Wally's a good looking young man but he's a bit too young for me.)

The above isn't to imply that they would be impressed with me. They probably wouldn't be. Which would have been even worse. Me all moon-eyed flirting with Cedric who was thinking, "Oh my God, she's hitting on me!" As it was, I was looking around way too much, especially at men in swim wear, and thinking, "That's a fine looking man."

A single mother at a wedding? This single mother would have been very vulenerable.

I explained what was in the note to Dona who told me I was being silly but kept my confidence. She did, however, torment me at one point by noting what each guy was "packing." I told her I'd get her back for that.

If anyone's wondering, I've discussed before how I need to focus on my children and how I worry that a relationship would prevent that. I could be a love junkie "back in the day." So I made the decision to wait on any relationships until the kids were a bit older. I don't instruct any other woman to do that. But I do know myself. I know what I can handle right now. (And this was my opinion before the job promotion.) I'm like Martha Stewart, "I just want to focus on my salad."

I've embarrassed myself enough for one night. Let me include C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue and the Puppet finds how hard the strings can be yanked.
Reuters reports that Hoshiyar Zebari (Iraq's foreign minister) stated that Iraq will condemn Hizbollah just in time to allow Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki to address the US Congress. Reuters also provides the Puppet's Lament -- noteworthy only due to the laugh factor: "Let us not allow what happened in 1991 to repeat itself, because if it does history will not be merciful to any of us."
"Us"? Pretty strong words for someone who bailed on his own country and wasn't, in fact, in Iraq in 1991. If a struggle wasn't finished in Iraq in 1991 (George H. W. Bush did not march to Baghdad, etc.) maybe the last person to be criticizing should be an Iraqi who was hiding outside of the country? Maybe if it meant so much to him, he should have gone to his country and not expected another country to do the work he was too scared/chicken to do?
If that seems especially harsh, it needs to be noted these thoughts aren't uncommon in Iraq. As the illegal occupation picks one exile after another to be puppet, Iraqis are offended (rightly). If al-Maliki thinks things were left unfinished in 1991, why's he blaming George H. W. Bush -- where was al-Maliki in 1991? Not in Iraq -- he only returned after the US invaded in 2003. He's a funny kind of 'brave,' a funny kind of 'leader,' shouting: "Stand with me! After others clear the way for me!"
There's a reason that various people have loyal followings in Iraq -- they were there before the invasion. They are a part of the country's history. These exiles returning and being appointed to positions of authority do not represent the average Iraqi and that's yet another factor in the hostility towards the puppet government.
al-Maliki was missing his cod-piece but, in front of the US Congress, he demonstrated he could strut and bluster as well as the Bully Boy. How bad was it? So bad Tony Snow has had to declare that "the president is not a puppeteer in this case." Only in this case?
While that nonsense went on, in the real world, the chaos and the violence continued.
The Associated Press notes the death of police officers (also brothers) in Baghdad from a roadside bomb. The AFP identifies one as "Lieutenant Colonerl Khadum Bressam" and notes the death of "one civilian" from a roadside bomb in Baghdad as well as a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed one person and left four wounded.
Reuters reports that three police officers were killed in Nahrwan and four others wounded; a wedding was the location for an attack where "Gunmen on a motorcycle sprayed three men with bullets"; and, in Baquba, an attack on a police patrol left with civilian dead, one police officer dead and one police officer wounded. AFP covers the patrol attack in Baquba and also notes that a family that had "gathered their possisions and prepared to flee" were attacked by "gunmen" leaving one family member dead and two others wounded.
AFP reports five corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("tortured and shot").
Also in Baghdad, Reuters is reporting that seventeen people were kidnapped from an apartment complex in Baghdad ("10 men, five women and two children from different families"). The mass kidnapping comes on a day when "police brigadier Abdulla Hmood, the director of the residency office in Baghdad" was also kidnapped.
Meanwhile, Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) continues to speak with actual Iraqis. Is it a civil war? The conclusion of the people Cockburn speaks with is that it a civil war with one telling him, "When our so-called leaders go to Washington they always produce a rosy picture of what is happening in Iraq for the Americans, though they know it is a lie."
In England, the BBC reports that the families of four soldiers who died in Iraq have won their right to a judicial review. The AFP reports that Britain's Court of Appeal means the defendants "have won a key legal battle in their bid to force a full public inquiry into the legality of Britain's decision to go to war." The BBC notes the families' attorney, Phil Shiner, explaining: "The government now have to produce evidence to a full hearing in the Court of Appeal. That evidence needs to establish once and for all whether the decision to invade [Iraq] was lawful." 114 UK troops have died in Iraq. Also today in England, the AFP reports, Tony Blair was delivering a health care speech when he was interupted by a war protestor who wrote across his chest and back: "Impeach Tony Blair."
In the United States, a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll reports that, among Democrats, 31 percent i.d. the war "as the top problem for the country while 14 percent listed the economy". For all respondents, regardless of party i.d., the AP reports: "The problem mentioned most often by all adults polled was the war -- in Iraq and conflicts in general -- 22 percent." (500 participants, plus/minus 4.5 error of margin.) Breakdown of the data here.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues. Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that "Professor Alexander McFarlane, head of psychiatry at Adelaide University" that "[t]he probability that Private Kovco intentionally committed suicide is very low." Speaking with Eleanor Hall on The World Today (Australia's ABC), Conor Duffy reported: "Eleanor, this psychiatrist, his name is Professor Sandy McFarlane, and he specialises in trauma and the state of mind of troops in war zones. One of the first things he said was to rule out suicide as a possibility. He said that Private Kovco was actively planning for the future in his diary, and there were also two occasions in his diary when he'd mused about suicide. The first one was about a month before his death, when he had a dream where he'd shot himself, and he said he ruled out suicide after that and he didn't like the idea of suicide at all. The other time was after a suicide bomber had attacked some building in the green zone, and he was trying to empathise with the suicide bomber and trying to imagine how he could have done this, and he said that he couldn't at all. And I quote directly from what he said, from what Private Kovco wrote, he said: 'They have a f .. ked up state of mind, the sooner they are exterminated the better'. And he couldn't understand those suicidal actions at all."
Malcolm Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that McFarlane stated: "In his diary his sense of vigilance had changed when he returned to picket duties at the Australian embassy. He perceived that this was an environment with a significantly lower level of threat. Private Kovco was in a somewhat playful state of mind."
Doherty reports that Jake Kovco's former roommates ("Soldiers 17 and 19") are returning to Australia "to give evidence in the inquiry next week" and that "another of Private Kovco's comrades, known as Soldier 14, who was on duty with Private Kovco on the day he died" to testify to the inquiry in person in Australia. On that development, Conor Duffy reports that the former roomates "will arrive in Sydney on Friday . . . [where] [t]hey're expected to undergo tests to determine if they are the source of the mystery DNA on Private Kovco's pistol."
In peace news, Cynthia Oi (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) addresses the topic of war resister Ehren Watada, noting: "Lt. Watada became the object of our discontent, the body mass on which to dump the toxic products of unease generated by the relentlessly horrible war." Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org are calling for a "National Day of Education" August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada is due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
It is day 23 of the Troops Home Fast with at least 4,350 people taking part from around the world. The strike is ongoing and people can grab a one-day fast or grab a multiple-day fast while. More information can be found at CODEPINK.