Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Drip... Drip... Drip

Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo.  --Ovid
A drop of water hollows a stone, not by force, but by falling often.
A week ago, when I first wrote about the undercover video scandal that is hollowing out the Planned Parenthood empire (Silence of the Lambs), I didn't really think a movement to de-fund the world's largest and most politically powerful abortion provider would gain traction.  After all, I went to my first March for Life in 1979, and many more after that when I lived in the eastern half of the country.  I was involved in pro-life work in college and full-time for more than three years after that.  Through all this I developed an intense interest in how the life issues are covered in the news, and it has never been a fair fight.  It's almost as if the major media outlets and the Democratic machine have been colluding in secret for more than 40 years to ensure only favorable or neutral coverage of the abortion industry, and only negative or at best neutral coverage of the pro-life movement. But now, in the age of YouTube and Facebook, we have a little more access to the full story.  The average Joanna, and all those of us who are gifted with insatiable curiousity, can view the whole story for ourselves.  Momentum does seem to be building at the grassroots level to demand a removal of federal funds from Planned Parenthood (currently more than half a billion dollars annually).  My intent today is to provide the essential links to coverage of this developing story, if you are investigating this on your own.

The Center for Medical Progress has all its videos up here.  The most recent one, released this morning, I will embed here, with a strong caution: It is very disturbing and contains footage of aborted baby parts being prepped for shipment to researchers. DO NOT watch if you are highly sensitive to graphic images.  Now, if you saw the slide shows that were going around evangelical churches in the 1970's and 80's, these images are much the same.  But the mainstream news media have, so to speak, crushed above and below any attempt to get a wider circulation of pictures that would undermine their preferred pro-abortion narrative.  Again, watch this video only with great discretion... the graphic footage starts around the 8 minute mark.

To summarize if you didn't watch it, it interviews a young woman, a phlebotomist (blood draw technician) who did a search for jobs and wound up hired by a middleman tissue procurement company, Stem Express, without any information about her actual job responsibilities.  She passed out in shock her first day on the job, collecting specimens at a Planned Parenthood clinic, and was told that some people "don't ever get used to it."  Screen shots of Stem Express' website show a program of partnership with abortion clinics that "fiscally rewards clinics" for contributing tissue for research.  This is a keynote of the case that CMP is building, because it is illegal for abortion providers to be compensated any more than "cost" for tissue donations.  And then there are scenes of the back room of the clinic, where prospective buyers list the organs they want from what is available on the glass dish: liver, thymus, brain and spinal cord... and we learn that the clinic directors like to price these per item, not per each abortion, so "we can see what we get out of it."  This is Episode 1 of "Human Capital", and CMP has been releasing videos every Tuesday.  So we can wait for the next drop of water in the cascade.

  • I'm not the only one who feels the mainstream media is not adequately covering this scandal: Ideas for Reporters.
  • But Democrats are calling for a Department of Justice investigation of the Center for Medical Progress.  Because corrupt human traffickers hate nothing more than a whistleblower.
  • And Planned Parenthood is sending out threatening notices to potential media outlets.
  • The always eloquent Charles Krauthammer has this to say on the price of fetal parts.  We know what abortion does to the human fetus, but what does it do to us?
  • Today in over 50 cities across the U.S. there were "women betrayed" rallies calling for the de-funding of PP.  As always, I have to love the grassroots of the pro-life movement. This came together with very little advance notice, and all on a volunteer basis.
  • Kirsten Powers calls for defunding of PP.
  • Here's something I was not aware of until yesterday: Abby Johnson, the woman behind "And Then There Were None" outreach for clinic workers needing a fresh start, reveals that PP's claim of abortion services making up a miniscule portion of their business is supported by strategically and dishonestly "bundling" or "unbundling" the way they bill their services. So if you go to one appointment and leave with a prescription for 12 months of birth control plus a few tests done at the appointment, it may actually be billed as 12 or more separate services.  But an abortion, no matter how many visits are required, will only be counted as one service.
  • For a better understanding, check out this video on how exactly they cook abortion statistics to make it look like they don't do that many.  If I could manipulate numbers that well, I'd be quite rich by now... but I guess that's the idea.
  • Maria Gallagher on how PP's soundbites are not working so well anymore.

I also took one for the team and watched/listened to the entire footage of the long versions of the first two videos.  I learned more than any sane person should want to know about fetal tissue procurement and the personalities behind Planned Parenthood.  Here are my observations... and they are just my observations, and I'm sure others who did this would have different things jump out.

In the first video, I learned that Dr. Nucatola, the young abortionist, entered her profession after discarding several legitimate medical specialties: orthopedic surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics... it's a sad story, really, because she had to perform an emergency hysterectomy on a woman who was dying from a botched abortion; and after losing that patient, she decided to become an abortionist because she was skilled at the D&E technique and wanted to make sure skilled doctors were providing that "service."  And she's proud of the work she does, but knows that she has to be cautious in talking to strangers.  It makes me amazed that anyone, no matter how carefully constructed the cover story, would be able to gain her trust, but I guess it speaks to the need for human connection that even the most inhumane people must have.  And this goes for all the PP staff I've seen... they really do believe they are the good guys.  Or maybe they're just comfortable where they are because they are making a good salary.

Also from the first video, and just in passing, I caught that certain conditions such as sickle-cell anemia and Down syndrome sometimes come on the market, but apparently there isn't much demand for Down syndrome tissue.  (I have a daughter with DS).  This corresponds with what I know about the relative lack of well-funded research in Down syndrome... you really need to follow the money to find the trending research, and Down syndrome is not trending in that way.  I also have a hunch, and I sincerely hope it's true, that most DS researchers are more ethical than those who would put in orders for aborted tissue.  After all, it is a condition that is being targeted and gradually eliminated by prenatal testing and abortion.  Why bother to research treatments?

In both videos, PP executives speak about the "volume" of abortions done at various clinics, and encourage the prospective buyers to seek out and enter into relationships with clinics that do not yet have a designated procurer to send their baby parts.  High-volume clinics would be better for sourcing tissue, I suppose, but it hardly supports the narrative of abortion as "safe, legal, and rare."

I could stay up much later and try to write more, but it's already a very long blog post.  More is most likely to come.  I hope if you've read this far you are inspired to demand accountability for the people who have been profiting from abortion, and particularly, the de-funding of Planned Parenthood and at the very least, a restriction on abortion after the age when an unborn child can feel pain. For the sake of our common humanity, this is something all sides in politics ought to be able to agree on.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


The plum tree is in full-on production mode.  Yesterday and today I made a batch of Pflaumenmus (plum butter), cooking it down in the crockpot.  It made almost 8 half-pint jars.

We have so many plums!  We can't possibly give them all away or use them all, I don't think.  Although we do seem to have friends who will take as many gallons as they or we can pick, so it's not going to waste yet.  Daniel started some plum-blackberry wine today.

Yesterday evening I went to the Salmon Creek trail to pick blackberries.  I had a fun time finding the biggest and juiciest ones, saw a heron preening himself in the setting sun, and heard what I think were two beavers calling to each other from opposite sides of the pond.  I also picked more than a gallon of berries, some of which were frozen, and some of which were added to the aforementioned wine.  It was almost a perfect evening, until a bug flew into my eye while I was walking back with my bucket of berries.  I went home, washed the eye out, showered, washed it out again, and lived with the irritation while we stayed up late watching "How to Steal a Million" with Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn (great movie!)  And then, as I was trying to go to sleep around midnight, the bug finally shifted around to the point where I could remove it with a q-tip.  I think my eye may recover but it's been very gradual today, getting rid of the irritation.  And the creepy feeling that it might have left a leg in there...ew!  Visine is supposed to be good for pollen, dust, etc., but it lists nothing about insect residue... but I tried it anyway.

Tertia's Washi dress for the wedding is finished and I'm happy with it, but don't have pictures ready yet.  I started today on one for myself, using a vintage sheet from my collection.  It will either look charming or weird.  Pictures to follow, eventually.

Quarta has texted from camp a few times, borrowing her friend's phone.  It seems very odd to be able to get texts from kids at camp.  She had a bit of a run-in with some barbed wire but she says the nurse cleaned her up.  Peter also texted from his "camp," just before they took his phone away.  Let's hope he gets phone privileges back sooner than in Basic last summer, or we may be waiting a few weeks. to hear from him.

Tonight we got Panda Express, and played Uno, which is probably Tertia's favorite game ever.  She took great offense when Daniel, Steve and I started talking in French.  Then we looked out in front of the house and what looked like a drug bust was going on right there.  Not sure exactly what was going on, but I think they took at least one person away, and a car belonging to another person was parked a long time with blinking lights on before driving away.  So we may be a quiet house, but a lot goes on around us.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Quiet House

Suddenly, the house seems much more quiet.  Peter flew off to AIT and is now acclimating to the Oklahoma heat and wating for the his class to begin.  We will probably not see him again until October.

Today is Quarta's 13th birthday, but she spent it with her friend G. and a bunch of other young people, travelling on this bus to camp in Montana.  It is her first time this far away from home. We celebrated her family birthday dinner 3 days ago, with steak, spinach noodle bake and a strawberry-rhubarb pie.
Two days ago she and her friend K., who also has a July birthday, planned and hosted a joint birthday party, baking this ombre cake with three boxes of cake mix and 4 cans of frosting.
 Ironically, the 4 girls (who did not make a huge dent in the cake) then watched the Hunger Games.
We are doing our part to alleviate hunger, as the plum tree is in full-on production mode and I'm trying to pick and give away or process 5-8 gallons every day.  The church on our street has a food bank and I estimate we donated about 150 pounds to them, plus several friends are taking bags, and last week the girls have even sold some.  The tree is still loaded.

But with Daniel working, and as quiet as Tertia is normally, the house is very quiet today. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Silence of the Lambs

I'm blogging today about a subject different from my usual more lighthearted fare, and one that may be disturbing or offensive to some readers.  But I think it's an important one and feel compelled to write on it today, so consider this your trigger warning if you would find this unsettling.  I'll be back to more generally agreeable topics soon.

The latest video released in what looks to be a long series of hidden camera recordings of the sordid business of Planned Parenthood shows another scene of business lunch with a side of barbarity.  But this is barbarity cloaked in a chilling, mature cynicism, that of a doctor who has been killing babies and harvesting their parts for a long, long time.  The question of how much per specimen is so beneath her, she can't quite muster the appropriate courtesy for these middlemen who are promising to do whatever it takes to make her happy.  Although of course, she wants a Lamborghini.  But not so much that she can't laugh about it.  I think she has herself convinced she's doing this for the greater good, for Science.  Like Mengele.  Or Count Rugen.

Last week's episode was, of course, more obviously reminiscent of a horror movie.  Perky young thing munching on salad and sipping red wine, discussing techniques used to harvest baby livers.  "Like, wow, I didn't even know."  Was this pro-abortion Barbie talk the insensitive "tone" that PP president Cecile Richards felt compelled to apologize for?  Granted, it's easy to mock, but what about the apparent willingness to change to a "less crunchy" technique, potentially sacrificing the patient's best interest, to get the tissue you need to make the sale?  Seems like that goes a bit beyond the tone.  Check out Michelle Malkin.  And notice that when PP wants to sell an abortion to a pregnant woman, they don't let her see an ultrasound, or use anatomically accurate words to describe what tissues will be harvested; but when they're dealing with the dealers they can work with an itemized list of hearts, lungs, livers, lower extremities... all over a swanky, expense-account lunch.

It would seem impossible to deny the damning nature of these videos, but there are some weak protests of "hoax" and "fraud" coming from the left, and a whole lot more of... crickets.  Of course they're running scared.  You can always watch the unedited versions of these videos, if you have a really strong stomach and a lot of patience.  Planned Parenthood, unscripted.  This is the same organization that, a few years ago, strongarmed the breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen until they gave them back their protection money.  For now, they still have the unwavering support of the mainstream media and President Barack "God bless Planned Parenthood" Obama.  But it must feel a little different when your own calvarium is on the chopping block.

Just today I went to look up some of PP founder, Margaret Sanger's, more egregious quotes from her "Plan for Peace," and discovered it had been deleted from the ScribD website.  Fortunately, it's a big internet and you can read it other places as well: A Plan for Peace.  (In case you don't have the energy to sift through the ravings of a Hitler-era eugenicist, check out this quote for one objective that PP has done its best to fulfill: "to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of sterilization or segregation.")

Of course there's no objective way to determine the worth of a fetal liver, once you've devalued all human life to the extent we have.  Fifty, $75, $100... that's not a huge profit really.  It might cover expedited shipping with dry ice but not a lot more.  If that's really the going rate, Planned Parenthood is not getting rich off of the sale of baby tissue ... alone... but the middlemen probably are.  And medical research is heading in a disturbing direction.  Or, PP is enjoying obscene profits from the abortion industry itself, and additional profits from lucrative secondary sale of fetal tissue (not to mention possible kickbacks and lucrative relationships with those who facilitate and fund this kind of research), all the while being protected from any kind of criticism by an entrenched good-old-girls network in the media and government.  And $1.26 million in tax dollars EVERY DAY.  It's disgusting, it's dirty, it's something no decent person even wants to think about, it's been going on for a long time, and it's got to stop.

For a positive way forward, please check out Abby Johnson's story; she was employed by Planned Parenthood but after coming to her senses she left the abortion industry and founded "And then there were none" to help others do the same.  And Brit Hume's concise analysis, if you haven't heard it yet, is well worth it.  And may God bless the people who are working to stop this.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


 Today Steve took a picture of his shadow growing wildflowers...
 And of Daniel and me picking blackberries...
It was hot and there were briars on one side, thistles on the other.  Daniel wants to make plum-blackberry wine this year.  There are certainly enough plums. 
 I finished Peter's argyle socks this past week.
I think they look good.  Especially for as long as I've worked on them.  Now, do I start another pair of socks, and if so what kind... or do I return to one of my several long-lingering UFO's?  Or start a rug?  Or a dishcloth?  Or, as the Tour de Fleece is still going on, do I spin something?  Or maybe just bask in a little bit more of summer laziness?

Steve's sister and family were here for 4 days this last week.  Quarta's birthday festivities are next week, and I'll be packing her off to camp on her actual birthday.  I'll be packing Peter off to complete his training, too.  I think I'll be lazy for a bit longer.  It never seems to last long enough.

Today I sewed most of a Washi dress (it's a pattern I found on Pinterest) for Tertia, for a wedding we are all going to soon.  I have great hopes for this pattern and want to make one for myself as well, same size as Tertia's but with totally different fit adjustments.  I may use some of the vintage sheet stash I've acquired in the last few years.  

With some of the blackberries and some frozen blueberries I tried this Berry Clafoutis recipe for dessert tomorrow.

We watched the Book Thief movie tonight, while I did a big pile of ironing and stitched a bit more on Tertia's dress.  It feels lovely to get back to sewing for the first time in months, but it makes me feel like I really need to clean.  Which I do.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Since I Blogged Last, part 2...

I am trying to do a few catch-up posts on the blog, because I have really left quite a bit of life unrecorded in the weeks I have not been blogging.  And because I am avoiding cleaning the house and preparing for the company that is coming.

Let's lead off with this. The other day I was tearing off a box top label from a used up box of cereal, and I remembered being taught the "Up in the air, junior birdmen" song by my mother.  So I started singing it.  This was greeted with absolute scorn by Quarta, but Tertia was receptive to attempting the rather tricky hand-motions involved.  These generational priorities must be preserved, you know.  We had to do one hand at a time and I was a little worried about her poking her eye since I don't think the song is compatible with glasses, but she managed okay.

My dad underwent a scheduled, minimally invasive heart valve repair surgery in June, shortly after he returned home from his visit for Peter's graduation.  It was a successful surgery, although more involved and with a longer hospital stay than anticipated.  On Father's day, I was pretty sure this was how he was feeling as he waited to be sprung from the ICU/cooler:
He is recovering well and as an added plus from the awkward position his arm had to be in during the 5-hour surgery, his painful frozen shoulder has apparently become unfrozen and much less painful.
Supplies for our roof replacement were delivered and then a crew showed up to begin work the next morning. For us in the house, it was just really noisy and messy.  For the Hispanic work crew, it was sometimes 14-hour days, during a record heat wave.  I was really impressed with them and with their work ethic.  But I am glad the roof is now done.
What I am not so glad about is the rogue squirrel that did this.  This is the little enclosed attic space (with no access) just above the front entryway and underneath the gable.  It gnawed through the peak of the roof last summer and we patched that (and then put on a new roof).  Now it's apparently trying to go in by a different way.  Not so happy with squirrels right now.  I go out and growl at it whenever I see it, and I have heard squirrels are dissuaded by peppermint and cayenne, so a special, spicy spray will be in their future.
And this needs to be added to the "call the handyman list" as well.  This happened today, when I asked Steve to squash a spider on the ceiling of the guest room.  It was a very small spider; I guess there wasn't enough drywall in that particular spot.  This old house.  Now, the reason we were making a half-hearted attempt to tidy up the guest room is because we have guests coming, and we'll be fitting 7 more people into the house than usual.  This hasn't happened in a couple of years.  Here's hoping that the cousins are all good sports about being stacked on any available horizontal surface.
 In preparation for days when I'm too tired to cook and/or family gatherings, I spent a few days this week and made a bunch of freezer crockpot recipes, in the once-a-month cooking style.  I didn't do all the prep and chopping one day and all the mixing the next, because of the simple fact that I can only ever chop one onion at a time, and this regime called for somewhere near 20.  But despite the incredibly tight shoulders and neck from doing this, I look forward to having easy meals ready to go. With these plus the 10 gallons of blueberries, our recently-defrosted freezer is looking pretty full again.
 And speaking of things I hope not to have to freeze... the plums are ripe.  Quarta has been setting up a little farmstand, $.50 a quart, and has made a little bit of money while reading The Hobbit in the shade.  Not a bad way to pass a summer afternoon.  The plum tree has sent itself into a crisis this year, with several major branches breaking under the weight of the fruit.  We are going to need a tree surgeon to come in and work on it after the season.
And I think I mentioned last time that my potted plants are the nicest they've ever looked this year.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Since I Blogged Last, part 1...

I checked. It has been almost a month since my last blog post.  Not for lack of thinking about posts to write.  I like to write about almost anything.  But it hasn't been happening.  Here are some of the things that have been going on:
 I bought a Costco drink dispenser for Peter's graduation party, and then I figured that, if you are supposed to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day, the combined body weight of all household members is roughly equal to the capacity of the container.  So it's been staying on the counter and filled daily, with garnishes of fruit and herbs.  And then the next morning I have been using the leftovers to water the potted plants.  I have the best-looking potted plants ever this year.
I taught Steve how to make jam.  Because there's never enough of the kinds of jam he likes.  So far he has made three batches of raspberry (2 red, 1 golden) and 2 of blueberry.  Plum season is now beginning, but I don't think he will be doing any of that preserving because he prefers the berries.

We picked berries, 4 of us plus Quarta's friend G., at the blueberry farm in Woodland that is so generously opened to the Cedar Tree community every year.  We had enough for the aforementioned 2 batches of jam plus a few pies plus 10 gallon bags for the freezer. The berries were big this year, and G. is a fast picker, and only took one shoebox full for herself.  I didn't take pictures of the berries, but they are the same color as the counter above.  So if one rolled away while cleaning it might go undetected for a while.

I have been taking a bit of a busman's holiday for the last few months, creating a Latin course for the Duolingo website.  This is not officially endorsed, but it came about because, at least 2 times a week on the discussion board, someone asks, "Why isn't Latin available on Duolingo?"  And given that they have Klingon and Esperanto, I think that's a fair question, but there is no official word whatsoever on a timetable for when it might be added, and would-be classicists are getting restless.  So I started publishing one lesson a week, replicating the interactive, gamified Duolingo format as closely as possible, and just posting the lessons on the forum.  Here is the link to the directory of lessons that I've made so far.  We are up to the third declension, and I'm having fun with it.

A dear former student of mine is getting married this summer, and I made this rug out of rag yarn (some t-shirts and some woven cottons) for a shower gift. I am getting back into knitting a little, or rather, I have been working at a slow rate all along and just not blogging as much.  I don't think I've shared my other two, close-to-finished projects yet:
 This is the Mint Chocolate cardigan that I started in the Winter Olympics last year.  I steeked it this spring and have not worked on the buttonbands yet.
These are the argyles I started for Peter a very long time ago.  I am much farther along than this picture: working on the toes, as a matter of fact.  They should be finished soon, but he will be shipping off for AIT and won't be able to enjoy them until the fall.
 Tertia has been having the occasional cooking lesson. She made banana bread.  One of the eggs ended up on the counter instead of in the mixer bowl.  Oops!
I have been trying to talk to her about future jobs she might have.  This is after finding out that in her class this year when they practiced writing job applications, she "applied" for only one job: Disney princess at Disneyland.  She refused to be persuaded at the time that any other job was a possibility.  I think we have made great progress: now she thinks she might like to work at Starbucks.

This has the feel of a Randomday post, and it isn't even Randomday yet! I will try to do a quick catchup with the rest of what's been going on for the last few weeks tomorrow.