I happened on a nice article about my old friend Connie Venuso that appeared in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution on January 25, 2018. Connie and I worked together at Tall Tales Book Shop in Atlanta back in the late 1980s. At the time she was a nurse and single mother with a son beginning college at the University of Georgia and a daughter in high school. That must not have kept her busy enough, so she took on the part-time job at the bookstore, much to the good fortune of the store and those of us who got to know her.
In 2003 she began a new adventure participating in volunteer medical missions all over the the globe. Her first volunteer trip was to India, where she helped provide medical care to local people and to monks and nuns in Buddhist monasteries.
Since then she has volunteered in Tibet, Ecuador, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, South Sudan, Haiti, Bangladesh, and elsewhere. The Bangladesh mission was a five-week stint in November and December of last year when she worked with Royhingya Muslims forced to flee their homes in Myanmar. Of her volunteer work, she says, "It's the best thing you can do."
We have kept in touch through occasional letters, Facebook, and the yearly exchange of Christmas cards. It comes as no surprise that she is active in resistance to the Trump regime, speaking out on gun control, health care, and other issues. She speaks with passion about the plight of refugees and the policies of the American government:
The contrast of an incredibly crowded country like Bangladesh opening its arms to 670,000 refugees when no one in the world wanted them in comparison to the United States not only refusing refugees but deporting long-time immigrants and threatening the welfare of dreamers is stark and disillusioning…. I long for the time when we treated those in need with more compassion.
Connie is one of the all-time good people. Thanks to Gracie Bonds Staples at the AJC for a great article (This Life with Gracie: Overseas work makes nurse long for more merciful immigration policy).
The NFL's new national anthem policy is about green supremacy. As a certain Nobel Prize winner put it, money doesn't talk, it swears.
Speaking of Bob Dylan, he had a birthday this week. The maestro was born on May 24, 1941. That would make him seventy-seven on the day before yesterday and he keeps on keeping on. If I were a whiskey drinker I'd be raising a glass of Heaven's Door,
a collection of American Whiskeys developed in collaboration with Bob Dylan and renowned craft distillers...available in May. Years in the making, the inaugural trilogy of expressions includes a Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Double Barrel Whiskey and Straight Rye Whiskey finished in oak barrels from Vosges, France, air-dried for 3 years. The perfect blend of art and craft, each bottle showcases Dylan’s distinctive welded iron gates that he created in his metalworking studio, Black Buffalo Ironworks.
Maybe I'll celebrate with a Saturday happy hour Widmer Brothers Upheaval IPA. That should do.
Many years ago my old pal Chuck Oliveros remarked to me after a poetry reading that Bob Dylan was an influence. I nodded, well, yes.
About that summit with North Korea. On, then off, now maybe on again. However it plays out, looks to me like talk about a Nobel Peace Prize was a bit premature. We'll see what happens, as old Orange Head likes to say.
John Bolton did his bit to torpedo the process with blather about the Libya model. Maybe Kim would have played it as he did regardless and Bolton merely provided a handy opening. Still, Bolton.
Meantime, the US continues to demand to that Kim give up his only bargaining chip, those nukes, before negotiations begin. Why, exactly, would he do that?
Michael Tomasky suggests the White House is more interested in controlling the news cycle than nuclear diplomacy (We Are Truly Living Through the Amateur Hour Presidency).
NPR has an ongoing feature asking men about the importance of masculinity to their identity. I don't think in those terms. My identity is more about being human. More and more I feel out of tune with NPR's direction. I suspect they are looking to appeal to a younger, hipper audience. That's not me. Maybe it's just that I am out of step with the country generally. Well, yes.