Sunday, March 27, 2011

Remember Al Smith

I lit a candle this morning at church for Geraldine Ferraro, who died on Saturday. For those of you not old enough or who may not remember, Rep. Ferraro was the first woman on a major political party presidential ticket. Nearly a quarter century before Sen. McCain hoisted former-Governor Sarah Palin onto the national stage, former-Vice President Walter Mondale plucked Gerri Ferraro out of obscurity and into the history books in an attempt to kick-start his moribund presidential campaign.

Clearly she led the way for Palin. But also for Hillary Clinton's historic presidential run. And the appointment of women like Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice to powerful positions. It could even be argued that she opened the door for President Barak Obama.

Sooner or later a woman will be elected president or vice president, and I fear
Geraldine Ferraro will become Al Smith. Everyone knows that in 1960 John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic elected president. Yet 32 years earlier, in 1928, Gov. Al Smith, paved the way when he became the first Catholic presidential nominee.

But Ferraro will always hold a special place in my heart: Mondale/Ferraro was the first presidential ticket for which I ever voted. Yeah, they went down in the biggest electoral landslide since 1936, carrying just Minnesota and DC, but that vote is still the one I'm proudest of.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Very Definition of Stubborn

I am thoroughly convinced that one day in the future, people looking for the definition of the word "stubborn" will find a picture of Niko. It may even provide an example:

1. unreasonably obstinate
2. fixed or set in purpose or opinion
3. obstinately maintained
4. being of or like Niko Huntington-Katis

I can't claim that I wasn't warned. My friend Ed informed me when Gus was still a baby that it's not so much the Terrible Twos that parents need to be aware of, but the $%&#ing Fours!

This month alone Niko has refused to wear certain pants, demanded specific cutlery, insisted on exact amounts of food, declined to attend church lest he participate in the procession of icons on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and commanded that he would wash his own hair! I won't even go into his lack of interest in rehearsing for the school's Greek Independence Day program.

This behavior is maddening...and so much like me at times it's scary.

So I'm trying to help him work toward being less demanding, less rigid in his needs. And by doing so, I hope I'm helping myself. Because I'm not sure I've still got his loveability factor!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Greek to Him

When I was in college, I did a little volunteering for the Utah Food Bank. I got started when they needed someone willing to deliver Christmas baskets to families living in what was then the far reaches of the Valley - places like Draper and Sandy. One of the gals I'd met on the Frances Farley campaign worked there, knew I lived in Midvale and gave me a call.

When I went to pick up the baskets, my friend wasn't working. Another woman was standing in the warehouse, barking orders at the volunteers. I approached her and told her I was Ann's friend. She asked me my name, and as she ran her finger down the list on her clipboard said, "Katis? That Greek?"

I confirmed and she replied that her ex-husband was Greek, which made her Greek by injection. I turned every shade of red known to mankind.

But it was the first time that I realized people do "become" Greek. I mean I guess I always knew that: take my mom for example. She's become frightfully, frightfully Greek (though I very much prefer to think it was from a lifetime of indoctrination versus, well, you know...that other way).

So I knew there was hope for matter how dim.

But after two decades together, I'd all but given up. Then it happened. Slowly, ever so slowly, his Greekness started to come out.

At first it was subtle: he started correctly using the word "kaleevi" (which means "hut" but colloquially in our family is "pantry"). Then he started buying frozen spanakopita and tiropita at Costco.

But the real break through occurred a couple of weeks ago. The Pan-Arcadian Federation held our annual makaronada (best translated as "spaghetti feed.") Kelly came to help out, and staffed the drinks table with me. We offered a lovely selection of wine, grape juice and fruit punch. After a while Kelly noticed that the food line had diminished and suggested I go get something to eat; he'd handle the drinks.

As I'm standing in line, I look over at him and what should my little brown eyes behold? Kelly opening a bottle of wine! It was the first bottle of wine he'd ever opened. It was complete: Kelly was Greek.

And as if to prove the point, this last weekend, he made me pasta with burned butter and Parmesan/Romano cheese for dinner (a last hooray before going vegan for Lent). The butter was burned perfectly! I later learned he'd thought he'd let it go too far, until Gus wisely stepped in and gently encouraged him to let it burn a little longer.

The best thing about his conversion is that once it's happened, there's no turning back. Once you're a Greek, everything else is just weak!

Tonight as we watched some TV, Kelly mentioned he was a little worried about Gus' Scout meeting tomorrow night. They're learning about the food pyramid, and as vegetarians we do have issues with a pyramid that puts meat about equal to fruits and veggies. But his biggest concern stemmed from the possibility someone would bring in a goat to slaughter.

Then I reminded him, "Not during Lent, dear."