The Smithsonian wants Aretha’s hat

Photo courtesy of Reuters

I love Aretha’s hat!

And I’m not the only one. Blogs have been abuzz over her captivating chapeau ever since the inauguration. There is a group devoted to loving it on Facebook and now, The Smithsonian in D.C. has asked Aretha Franklin if she would part with her (in)famous Luke Song hat to be part of President Obama’s Inaugural display. The display will also include Michelle Obama’s ball gown.

Can she, will she, part with it? She says, “I am considering it. It
would be hard to part with my chapeau since it was such a crowning
moment in history. I would like to smile every time I look back at it
and remember what a great moment it was in American and
African-American history.”

I would have a hard time giving it up too. I would want to pass it down to my daughter and keep it in the family. Maybe she can allow it to be on loan to The Smithsonian?

Wearing Aretha’s hat

                                           Copyright AMH                                         

Want to try on Aretha’s hat? Go to BuzzFeed: Aretha’s hat is everywhere.

Aretha Franklin:

  • Fifteen Grammys, more than any other female performer in history.
  • The youngest individual ever to receive the coveted Kennedy Center Honor.
  • The first female inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
  • The woman who sang at the funerals of Martin and Mahalia.
  • The woman whose inaugural hat has brought unparalleled attention to the church hat.

Related links:

NPR reports on a play based on a photo anthology that celebrates the festive tradition of church hats.
The nifty book that the play is based on: Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats.
Learn hat etiquette from
Here’s how to eat your hat.

Mother of octuplets case raises ethical questions

We heard that she had octuplets–six boys and two girls. They were delivered by Cesarean
section weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 4 ounces.
Forty-six physicians and staff assisted in the deliveries.

Then we heard that she had six additional children at home, ages 2 through 7.

Now CBS News is reporting that Nadya Suleman, 33, the woman who gave birth to octuplets this week and has conceived all 14 of her
children through in-vitro fertilization, is not married, lives at home with her parents, and has been
obsessed with having children since she was a teenager. The information is attributed to her mother.

Medical ethicists are fiercely debating the appropriateness of the fertility treatment and of the implantation of so many embryos.

Dr. Mark Surrey, a fertility expert, told Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman
that it is irresponsible and medically risky to implant eight embryos.
“(Any doctor who would do that) should be criticized, censured, and
professionally reviewed,” Surrey said.

“Single pregnancies, where a single baby is born, are the best
outcome. And those alone are risky. When you have twins, you add more
risk. And when you have triplets, it’s even more risk, and it’s
logarithmic the number of babies.”

Other medical experts worried that she would be overwhelmed trying
to raise so many children and would end up relying on public support.

Read the full article here.

Means of support

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread,
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.–
Old English Nursery Rhyme

Nadya Suleman makes me think of that nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what  to do. But at least the old woman in the nursery rhyme had her own shoe to raise them in. Nadya Suleman lives at home with her parents. If she can’t even take care of herself, how can she take care of so many children?

I wonder if her obsession with having all those babies is akin to cat hoarding syndrome.

Links to coverage:
CBS News
Los Angeles Times
ABC News

Lilly Ledbetter Bill

President Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Bill  

Photo courtesy Associated Press

Surrounded by members of Congress President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Bill with Lilly Ledbetter, at center behind Obama, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009, in the East Room at the White House in Washington. Others standing from left, are House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Me., Ledbetter, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Senate Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Doesn’t our President rock?

Here’s the text of President Obama’s statements via the press release at State of the Nation:

It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act – we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.

It is also fitting that we are joined today by the woman after whom this bill is named – someone Michelle and I have had the privilege of getting to know for ourselves. Lilly Ledbetter didn’t set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good hard worker who did her job – and did it well – for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for the very same work. Over the course of her career, she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits – losses she still feels today.

Now, Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle and harassment that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved. But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for. So she set out on a journey that would take more than ten years, take her all the way to the Supreme Court, and lead to this bill which will help others get the justice she was denied.

Because while this bill bears her name, Lilly knows this story isn’t just about her. It’s the story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn – women of color even less – which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime.

But equal pay is by no means just a women’s issue – it’s a family issue. It’s about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition or child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where, when one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves, that’s the difference between affording the mortgage – or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor’s bills – or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month’s paycheck to simple discrimination.

So in signing this bill today, I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it’s not just unfair and illegal – but bad for business – to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. And that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook – it’s about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.

Ultimately, though, equal pay isn’t just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it’s a question of who we are – and whether we’re truly living up to our fundamental ideals. Whether we’ll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put to paper more than 200 years ago really mean something – to breathe new life into them with the more enlightened understandings of our time.

That is what Lilly Ledbetter challenged us to do. And today, I sign this bill not just in her honor, but in honor of those who came before her. Women like my grandmother who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up and giving her best every day, without complaint, because she wanted something better for me and my sister.

And I sign this bill for my daughters, and all those who will come after us, because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams and they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.

In the end, that’s why Lilly stayed the course. She knew it was too late for her – that this bill wouldn’t undo the years of injustice she faced or restore the earnings she was denied. But this grandmother from Alabama kept on fighting, because she was thinking about the next generation. It’s what we’ve always done in America – set our sights high for ourselves, but even higher for our children and grandchildren.

Now it’s up to us to continue this work. This bill is an important step – a simple fix to ensure fundamental fairness to American workers – and I want to thank this remarkable and bi-partisan group of legislators who worked so hard to get it passed. And this is only the beginning. I know that if we stay focused, as Lilly did – and keep standing for what’s right, as Lilly did – we will close that pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons.

Thank you.

Video via YouTube: President Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Winter Carnival 2009

Icy dreams of paradise

Saint Paul Winter Carnival 4th Place sculpture, photo courtesy of smugmug
 “Survival” carved by Jarrett Dahl, Ross Inselman, Jordan Dahl.

Don’t worry southern states (I’m looking at you Florida.) I know you have your balmy breezes and tropical trees, sparkling water and sunny skies. A luxurious haze of hedonism haunts your atmosphere.

But I do not think you have a Saint Paul Winter Carnival. I do not think you have Art Shanty Projects or frozen picnics lit by the Aurora Borealis.

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival has ice carving, snow sculpting, a treasure hunt, torch lit parades and “Fire on Ice” racing competition:

Ice racing is a century old sport that got a modern twist with the
unique WIRC closed course oval track. Ice racers from across the U.S.
and around the world will be sailing across the ice in high-performance
12-foot-long DN class ice boats. These boats are very tricky to handle
when it comes to turning and stopping because of the speed and lack of
friction of the steel blades on ice.

Winter Carnival website

Ice skating, an ice maze and an ice palace crown these winter activities.

Art Shanty Projects 2009

Photo courtesy of the Art Shanty Projects

Located on Minnesota’s Medicine Lake, surrounded by ice and heated by
imagination and art, Art Shanty Projects is a “six-week exhibition of performance, architecture, science, art,
video, literature, survivalism and karaoke, ASP is part sculpture park,
part artist residency and part social experiment, inspired by
traditional ice fishing houses that dot the state’s lakes in winter.”

There are plenty of things to do in these freestanding
islands of inspiration dedicated to things as varied and diverse as art
cars, knitting, karaoke, and theater.

Check out the Artcar Parade link and also look at the natives celebrating the temperatures in traditional cold weather attire of undress  (scroll down for the guy in his boxers.)

ASP is open to the public through February 14:
Saturdays 10am – 4:30pm
Sundays 11am – 4:30pm  

Frozen Picnics

Aurora Borealis photo courtesy of Wikipedia

A romantic dinner out on the ice? I didn’t believe it until I went on one myself. Yes, picnics are to be had in the dead of winter and in the dark of the night–right out on the ice. Candlesticks, schmandlesticks. You can’t ask for more romantic lighting than the Aurora Borealis.

Sea Kittens?

Here kitty, kitty…

Photo courtesy of sucktheday

Ever wonder what a “sea kitten” is? Me neither. But now I know, thanks to the fine folks over at PETA who have declared the “retirement” of the name “fish” and the birth of “sea kitten.”

So yeah, they are serious about this with sea kitten stories and sea kitten
“facts” and a sea kitten petition for you to sign to bring about the
cessation of the promotion of hunting of sea kittens.  A peek at their ponderings:

“People don’t seem to like fish. They’re slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads—which is weird, to say the least. Plus, the small ones nibble at your feet when you’re swimming, and the big ones—well, the big ones will bite your face off if Jaws is anything to go by.

“Of course, if you look at it another way, what all this really means is that fish need to fire their PR guy—stat. Whoever was in charge of creating a positive image for fish needs to go right back to working on the Britney Spears account and leave our scaly little friends alone. You’ve done enough damage, buddy. We’ve got it from here. And we’re going to start by retiring the old name for good. When your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it’s time for a serious image makeover. And who could possibly want to put a hook through a sea kitten.”

From PETA’s Save the Sea Kittens website

I wonder when they will take up the plight of those sensitive and oppressed denizens of our planet, plants. Plants have a reputation for being good to eat and I’m sure that PETA should get right on that so that we can start protecting the apple pups and broccoli snuggles from being abused in that way.

Relevant links:

Top 10 ugly fish
National Geographic Fish

Sushi places I like (in Minnesota):
Fuji Ya
Azia Restaurant
Chino Latino
Sushi Tango

Call for submissions: InTheFray Magazine

Doris Day as teacher photo courtesy of throughtheillusion

The March 2009 theme for submissions is teaching

All human behavior which is not instinctual must be taught, and the teachers that impart those lessons to us are as important as they are diverse. Beyond the professional educators of the school system, our family, our friends, our foes and our experiences all serve as teachers for us, molding us into who we become as adults.

In our March issue, InTheFray Magazine would like to explore teaching and teachers. Think about the teachers from your life, be they professional, familial or informal. What made them effective? What made them ineffective? What difficulties have you faced and what successes have you enjoyed as a teacher? What separates a good teacher from a poor teacher, and how can we, as outside observers, tell the difference? Why is teaching so often regarded as a “calling” and therefore underpaid and underappreciated? Explore the concept of teaching, in all of its senses.

Contributors interested in pitching relevant news features, poetry/ fiction, cultural criticism, commentary pieces, personal essays, visual essays, travel stories, or book reviews should e-mail us at teaching-at-inthefray-dot-org. Send us a well-developed, one-paragraph pitch for your proposed piece NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 11, 2008. First- time contributors are urged to review our submissions guidelines at and review recent pieces published in InTheFray Magazine at


                                                                                                            Copyright Annette Marie Hyder

“All head sizes are beautiful”

“At some point, you have to be OK with your little head.”

Have a laugh with your coffee. This pasquinade from The Onion will go well with your afternoon break.

Is Bratz promoting unhealthy body image among young women? In this clip, The Onion investigates the possible link between unrealistic head size and low self-esteem.

“In Beyond The Facts, we examine how Bratz are convincing a generation of girls that to be hip and beautiful they have to have gigantic heads.”

The Onion

It’s so cold in Florida that…

Iguanas are falling from trees

How embarrassing!

So imagine you’re an iguana. You are just minding your own business, sitting in a tree in Florida, when the next thing you know, bam! You land gracelessly on the ground, having fallen from the tree without warning. In fact you are not going to even be able to get up and scurry away in embarrassment because your body has basically shut down and sent you into a deep sleep. One minute, relaxing in the sunshine in the privacy of your leafy bower, the next minute, spread out — a spectacle — in an obtrusive display of very public deep-sleep.

Photo courtesy of

Frosty 40’s = lethargic lizards

The Ledger reports that:

The chilly weather in southern Florida this week was cold enough to force some iguanas to fall from trees.

Experts say the cold-blooded reptiles go into a deep sleep when the temperature falls into the 40’s.

Their bodies basically shut off and they lose their grip on the tree.

to Collier County Domestic Animal Services control supervisor Dana
Alger, iguana reports traditionally rise when temperatures drop, as the
reptiles seek to warm themselves on asphalt surfaces such as sidewalks,
roads and driveways.

Most of the iguanas were once pets that got released when they got too big. The reptiles can grow up to six feet long.

Falling iguanas are just as indicative of winter’s onslaught, to South Floridians, as the first falling snowflakes are to

Photo courtesy FOX News

The oranges are coated in ice

The oranges are wearing winter coats — coats of ice.

It’s so cold in Florida that they have had to give the oranges an icy bath. When the temperatures look to head lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, orange growers, many of them pulling all nighters, protect plants by spraying them with water that freezes, insulating the temperature at 32.

Cold isn’t entirely bad for citrus though. The cold can benefit some growers because it slows down
growth and hardens up citrus trees. It also makes the oranges sweeter.

Even the tourists are wearing long pants

When it hits the low 60’s, Floridian fashionistas rejoice that they can finally wear their leather jackets and stylish coats. Conversely, tourists can be seen, on cold days in Florida, relishing the brisk temperatures by wearing shorts and bathing suits in temperatures that dip to 45 degrees. But once the real cold of 30 degrees sets in, even visitors from other states can be seen wearing long pants. They wear them as they sight-see, jacket-less, gawking at the natives sporting winter coats that would bring on a heat stroke if worn by a Northerner.

A Florida poem
Previously published in Steel Point Quarterly
Annette Marie Hyder

Mangrove trees walk in the unopened box of night.
At the edges of expectation
the surf pounds its point home relentlessly, sings
ancient mariner woes applicable to all
who listen on nights like these.

Something is coming,
something vast, on the wings of hurricane.
The palm trees tremble
frantic to their fronds —
lash themselves into tambourines of ecstasy.

Mangrove trees trail their roots —
the sight almost obscene to the unexpecting eye —
in the crocodile loved tide
seeking omens in the inverted
backward flowing sky.


By Annette Marie Hyder

Bread in his fist
is dinner for two
under the bridge
away from the new
cars that preen by him
stopping once in a while
to furtively butter
his fist with a pile
of cash that is spare change
they fork it into his spoon
of need and neglect
while he hopes to soon
trade his spoon for a knife
to cut into bite size
his underdone life.