Thank you, Cab Drollery, for posting this poem by Marge Piercy.  I’m reposting it on this blog, since the message pertains to just about everything that’s going on this week, everywhere! 

The Low Road

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can't remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can't stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction.
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

--Marge Piercy, American poet, born 1936 in Detroit, Michigan 

We must never forget that the most important achievement of the union movement was the protection of the right that makes all other rights possible -- freedom of speech. The First Amendment comes with a union label.

~~~Linda R. Monk, J.D., constitutional scholar, author of The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution

For the full story, see:

While this situation is unfolding, you can keep up with the events in real time
at :

Click on the headline for the appropriate date. You’ll find the latest reports, tweets, videos, maps and podcasts on the Libya and Egypt crisis.

From there, you can link to various reporters’ Twitter accounts, dozens of other blogs and websites, or you can set parameters for feeds or updates to your mailbox.

Long before I moved here, I knew the locals must be quirky, to say the least.  It was in their signs, those that either didn't make sense or had to have been designed by someone with a wicked sense of humor. As I find more examples, I’ll share them with you.

These poor little kids. My heart goes out to them and their parents! 
In our town, apparently many boys  still wear knickers, and girls wear little jumpers, since that’s how they’re pictured in street signs.

Take your pick. All roads lead to Rome! 

Are there no English teachers in this town? How can they pass this place and not cringe?

If not the best, the biggest  seat in Vermont! 

Here’s a sign that’s not found everywhere, except maybe this winter

Here's a quaint way of saying slow down for pedestrians, you jerk!  

Some people (me) use this sign as an excuse, not a warning. It's easier to b
lame a mid-life spare tire on your hometown’s expectations. Live too close to one of these signs, and you know what happens! (Notice how thickly settled a place must be to merit one of these signs.)

This should come as no surprise to Birds readers:   

Sometimes freedom and opportunity slip in through the back door, when a quieter subversion of the status quo unleashes change that is just as revolutionary. This is the tantalizing idea for activists concerned with poverty, with disease, with the rise of violent extremism: if you want to change the world, invest in girls.

With this in mind, the United Nations Foundation is looking for 100,000 US girls, age 12-18, to raise money for and awareness of the plight of their sisters around the globe, through the GirlUp program (

As Nancy Gibbs so eloquently says:

[Through GirlUp], one at a time, a rising generation of American girls helps create the next generation of leaders, for the coming quiet revolutions.

It beats raising money for armies.

Read more at,9171,2046045,00.html

Happy Birthday to us! Another year, another hundred-or-so posts, and lots of great comments from readers.

Your input is what keeps this (and all) blog(s) going, so thank you for being part of the Birds community.

I have no plans to stop blogging, but do know many other bloggers who have, including some of my favorites. Keep the blogosphere humming with your thoughts, photos, stories, art and music, and we’ll all have a great year, recession or not.

En avant! Here's to another year of Birds on a Wire Blog! 


On February 2, 2011, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said , "The case against this bill is more compelling every day. Everything we learn tells us it was a bad idea. That it should be repealed and replaced. The courts say so. The American people say so. Job creators say so."

The Washington Post’s non-partisan Fact Checker took a look at this statement, element by element. You can read the analysis here, but below is a synopsis of what he found, as described in this “Pinocchio” test :

McConnell can certainly make a case for his statement, but some of his arguments are debatable. The line on "the courts" is a clear stretch: The score, at best, is 2-2, and none of these rulings mean very much at this point in the process. The line on "the American people" is pushing it as well, since even the polls cited by McConnell's spokesman do not show a clear majority in favor of repeal. More nuanced polls, meanwhile, indicate support for full repeal is limited to a relatively small core of opponents. McConnell can certainly cite a long list of business organizations supporting appeal. The overall effect of his statement suggests greater support for repeal than the data shows, so it just qualifies for one Pinocchio, which, according to our rating scale, constitutes "some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods.

The sleepy little district on the east side of the Hudson River, north of New York City, was lucky enough to get some federal funding to fix infrastructure that probably had been broken since the time of Rip Van Winkle. Then, what did they go and do? They elected a Tea Party candidate who promised to banish earmarks.

Guess they thought earmarks were expensive gifts to other people, you know, like those city folk who seem to have so much to begin with. Kind of like "Government, get your hands off my Medicare."
From The New York Times
February 4, 2011

District Liked Its Earmarks, Then Elected Someone Who Didn’t
By Raymond Hernandez

In the villages, towns and cities of the 19th Congressional District north of New York City, the signs of federal largess are all over: money for a library in South Salem, road improvements in Peekskill, renovations on an aging old bridge in Dover and a communications network for the Police Department in Tuxedo.

The projects have drawn strong support from community activists, business leaders and local politicians of both major parties. But the stream of federal money that has long financed such purchases, in this Hudson Valley district and elsewhere in the nation, is about to dry up.

And some residents of the district may be surprised to learn who one of the main instigators is: Nan Hayworth, the district’s new representative, who was swept into office last fall along with other  Tea Party-backed candidates bent on changing Washington’s way of doing business.

Congress, prodded by outspoken newcomers like Ms. Hayworth, this week essentially imposed a temporary ban on earmarks, money for projects that individual lawmakers slip into major Congressional budget bills to cater to local demands. 

For the complete story, go to:

February 3, 2011
The New York Times 

For Tucson Survivors, Health Care Cost Is Concern

TUCSON — Seconds after gunfire erupted outside a supermarket here last month, Randy Gardner, one of those struck during the barrage, said another looming crisis immediately entered his mind.

“I wondered, ‘How much is this going to cost me?’ ” he said. “It was a thought that went through my head right away.”

Tucson’s medical system quickly swung into action after the shootings, with ambulances and medical helicopters rushing victims to hospitals where trauma specialists awaited them. The life-saving treatment the victims received over the ensuing days carried a heavy cost though, and the bills — the costliest of which may be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for Representative Gabrielle Giffords— are still being tallied.

For the full story, see:

We didn’t get as much as they predicted, which was good news. The bad news is there’s more coming this weekend and next week.

People who haven’t raked their roofs (or don’t own rakes) are having a difficult time. Most hardware stores sold out of shovels and rakes long ago. Meanwhile, roofs are caving in all over the place from the weight of snow and ice.

Here’s some incredible video of one such collapse:

We have roughly 3 feet of snow on the ground, but much deeper piles along every driveway and every street. Intersections are tricky since you enter blindly. 
There's a 10-foot pile down the middle of Northampton's main drag. That's because the town doesn't own a payloader big enough to dump in trucks and cart it away. They just plow it into a wall of snow in the middle of the street. 

It’s been quite cold (teens-20s during the day, near 0 or below at night). If it’s not snowing, chances are there’s black ice on the road, something much worse than the white stuff. Locals know to slow down, so there actually were few accidents yesterday, considering. Still, several people lost their lives to the storm. 

Today, the sun in shining and the sky is an indecent blue. Temps are just below freezing, a far cry from what we’ve over the past two weeks. 

Here are a few photos we took yesterday, during a lull in the storm. Snow to our left and behind us is fallen snow, showing the depth. Snow to our right  is piled snow left by the plow when it cut a walkway to our apartment building. Pile next to the road is typical of what we see all over Greenfield. It’s a foot higher a few miles up the road in Wilmington, Vermont.