Friday, May 30, 2008

Photo Friday

It's still officially Friday, for another 32 minutes, out here on the Left Coast...

Damn...another huge picture...  :-P 


I'd forgotten how much fun it is to fool around with Photoshop. Sleepy bee in the early morning last weekend.


I did a little digging on Ms Malkin on lunch. Only info is from Wikipedia. (I was looking for basic info, I wasn't going to SPEND that much time on her) Apparently she is a well known conservative blogger, among other things. But, it seems she has disabled the comment section of her blog because-well the anti comments were probably about as tasteful as the conservative comments we see on liberal blogs or the comments we see on AOL. Harry Truman does spring to mind. Kitchens and all that.

Also, I guess she's had a couple of best sellers. I suspect that most of the sales were from folks with chump change who wanted to see what all the hoo haw was about. There's a saying. "Never wrestle with a pig. You end up covered in mud (and, um, other stuff)  and the pig enjoys it too much."

Which brings me to something a co worker e-mailed some of us.

Two Wolves

> One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a debate that goes

> on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves"

> inside us all.

> One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed,

> arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false

> pride, superiority, and ego.

> The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility,

> kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and

> faith."

> The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his

> grandfather:

> "Which wolf wins?"

> The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Whether there really was an old Cherokee grandfather who really told this to his grandson; doesn't matter. I don't advocate ignoring people like Michelle Malkin.

Do keep track of where she and rest of her ilk are and what they're doing. But, don't feed the fires, don't stroke her ego, and don't buy her stuff. It's out on the web, if you can stand getting in the pig pen.

Actually she reminds me of the class bully. She knows which buttons to push to get a reaction. Nobody can stop her from pushing the buttons but, we don't have to react.  Don't feed the wrong wolf.

Today's Bumper Sticker

Today, I encountered a refreshing change from the usual fare of sarcasm, war-mongering, bigotry, and hatred flashing down the freeways on the bumpers of our fellow citizens.

I wish I’d taken a picture, but it went by too fast. Let me describe it:

A simple cool turquoise background. A line drawing of an open lotus flower. And the words:

May Respect and Tolerance Increase

May they indeed…

Friday Photo

I know many of us are spending hours in our gardens these days.  Since this is my first year in this house, I have TONS of landscape work to do.  We've had beds cut, large plants placed and I've put in perennials and annuals.  The latest step, which was finished yesterday, was to get the sprinkler systems adjusted properly.  Dumb and Dumber were here to do the job...and they almost got it right.  I walked through the cycle this morning to see where we need to tweak.  I noticed this...which to me seemed symbolic of women, nurturing, hopes and dreams.


Photo Friday

  Jack in the Pulpit found in the woods across the road.


  A potted daisy.

 Another variety of African daisy.  I love the dark center as they first open and how it fades as the blooms age.

 Found on a fallen tree, the typical fungus grows on the other side and this sprouted overnight.  I think this may be from some type of insect -- you know -- an egg or baby house. 

Thursday, May 29, 2008

On Rachael Ray, The Terrorist

I have not climbed up on my political soapbox much since I broke into the ranks of harried small business owners. I really don’t have the time or the emotional energy to invest in following our national soap opera these days. And, to tell the truth, I had thought that the worst of the inflammatory far-right-wingnut bulls*** had begun to abate.

Until today.

When I logged on to the internet and caught the story about the Dunkin Donuts/Rachael Ray terrorist coffee ad.

It seems that some dresser at a photo shoot wrapped a scarf around Rachel Ray’s neck before snapping off the pix to be used for a Dunkin Donuts ad. Pretty scarf…a black and white paisley affair, with fringe all around. Looks vaguely…imported (but what isn’t, these days?)

So, some lunatic conservative commentator sees this ad, spots the scarf, and decides that it looks like a "kaffiyeh" –a traditional Arab headdress. Said insane pundit (who apparently has nothing better to do with her time than sift through on-line advertising looking for terrorist symbols!?!) insists that this scarf is an obvious symbol of head-lopping jihadists; and, apparently, has no place around the neck of a loyal, peace-loving, raghead-hating American.

The brave souls at Dunkin Donuts promptly pulled the ad. Fearing the fallout of a possible boycott on their already struggling sales.

I am positive I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my entire life.

And to think…we’re just heading into the heart of an election year. Where some of us thought that voices of reason might once again be heard.

And some of us were harboring some small hope that the American people had been SO burned by the performance of our government for the past eight years, that the clamor for change would sweep Dubya and all he has stood for back under a pile of cow patties on the dusty Texas range, where he belongs.

And the opposition candidate, the one to whom we will be pinning all our lofty hopes, is most likely to be a man with a…somewhat unconventional middle name.

Oh. My. God.

Shoot me now…

Monday, May 26, 2008


We didn’t get far this weekend. I took Friday off, hoping we could fit everything in; including a trip up the cemetery where dad, my grandparents and great grandparents are buried. We decided not to drive up after all.


Nephew number two is graduating this spring and the family is having a get together to celebrate mid June. So I’ll snag another vacation day and we’ll do both that Sunday. We tae our own flowers and while we have a few cutting type flowers in bloom right now. By mid June we should have at least a few roses to go along with the callas and ferns. And at four bucks a gallon we’re combining trips as much as we can. And they’re will us all the time whether we make it up the cemetery or not.


I’m not going to complain too much. We don’t drive much beyond me going to work and that sort of thing. The odd trip in search of plants, visits to Jerry’s for gardening supplies; that sort of thing. We can get nine bags of bark in the van, or two dozen stepping stones, or… get the picture. As long as we can do the work ourselves, I guess we’ll keep the van. And the Cutless doesn’t mileage that’s great, but as long as I have to share the road with oversize SUV’s, log trucks, and semi’s I am NOT getting one of those little whatchamacallits.


So we got some hanging baskets planted, swapped out the bell flowers for some volunteer lavenders for the herb garden. We picked up a scarlet runner bean and finagled a trellis for it to climb. We did some heavy duty clean up on the north side yesterday. After three days we sort of goofed off today. A little reading, a little baking, a little basket hanging, and little laundry, that sort of thing.


Bandit got out yesterday morning. She led us a merry romp around the yard for about two hours. We might have got her in sooner but we also have little squirrel we call Gimpy who shows up daily some munchies. Gimpy has a problem with a hip and he showed up while the bandit was out. So recovering the cat went on the back burner while we made sure thesquirrel had breakfast in relative peace.


Bandit finally settled down for a snooze up on the retaining wall in a sheltered area near the fence. And then it was “mom.” I had her but couldn’t get down the steps into the enclosed deck with twenty pounds of restive cat in my arms. She’s too big to handle one armed. So, finally all the children were where they belonged, inner and outer children. LOL




I was able to get around the yard today and so some shooting. No sun to speak of but no real rain either. The flowers in the middle are the landscape geraniums. Small, fragrant, perenial, and enthusiastic. They also drape over retaining walls very nicely. We have a very large patch in the front that goes nicely with the just blooming azaleas.

They're also called cranesbill geraniums because the seed pods look like bill of a crane. So they say.

Cross posted in Cottage by the Hedge.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Dangerous Moment of Thinking

Today as I drove past the town common where earlier The American Legion held its observance of Memorial Day at my end of town, I was glancing at the wreaths placed in front of the stone markers and began to think about how completely devastating it must be to lose a son or daughter to war.  I cannot begin to think what it must be like to say goodbye to a son or daughter as they leave home, not knowing if they will return in one piece or if they will return alive.  That alone must be grueling emotionally. 

Whether or not we agree with that war is somewhat beside the point here.  I was thinking along the lines of respect and admiration for those who do believe, have the courage to 'join up' and then go off to fight a war in a foreign land, with, well, strangers.

These simple thoughts became more complex as I mulled over this question:

If a son or daughter is lost to war, does the parent who believes in the war have an easier time of it than the parent who does not?  Does the parent who believes in God have an easier time of it than the parent who does not?

Or does the parent who believes in the war feel guilt at their loss while the parent who does not believe in the war feels no guilt at all?

I'll qualify the above with  I don't think anyone has an easy time of it.  Period.  I just cannot fathom nor imagine how a parent (sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandparent) could feel upon receiving news of a loss so great.

And going back to simple, I guess that is why Memorial Day is observed with marches and wreath laying and twenty-one gun salutes.  It's the least that we can do to remember and thank those men and women who lost their lives while fighting in wars that another man created.

Forget me nots planted in memory of my father who served in WWII.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I find myself unusually thankful that I was born in this country, at this time. And not for the usual reasons you’d probably see in the news or in the ads.

Unlike many women and girls in the third world, I wasn’t put to hauling firewood or water as soon as I could walk. I’m not expected to carry a large pottery jar on my back to the nearest water source and haul the water back. Every day. I wasn’t last in line for meals behind my father and brothers. I wasn’t cheated out of my full growth by overwork and inadequate food. I wasn’t married before I even entered puberty or beaten for running away from an unwanted husband. I wasn’t kidnapped out of a market place and forcibly married.

The nearest local hospital is about a mile away, and, like so many other Americans, I have my own set of wheels. I don’t have to make a six hour hike and a multi hour bus ride over dirt roads to get to a hospital in the city. If I can even afford the bus fare.

I’m not faced with the possibility that every time I get pregnant I could end up so damaged that my husband deserts me and my own family suggests that I might be better off dead.

I don’t have children, but my sisters had access to decent nutrition, pre natal care, clean hospitals and they were fully grown when they had their children. There is almost no chance that any woman in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />United States or Europe will be faced with problems of the Ethiopian women in a documentary I saw on Nova last week.  

The film is called A Walk to Beautiful. The spirit and courage of these women is not only inspiring but humbling. I was touched most by a tiny 17 year old named Wubete. And I do mean tiny. The Australian doctor who helped start the hospital with her husband stated that she was about 5’3”. The girl didn’t even come to her shoulder. Even with her shawl on her head.

Corrective surgery at a special hospital in Addis Ababa helped but didn’t correct all her problems. The injuries she suffered in a week long labor that left her with a still born child also injured her bladder; almost destroyed it, actually. The doctors were able to give her some control over her problem, but the kind of care she continues to need makes it difficult for her to return to her native village. And the lack of any support from friends or family left her extremely reluctant to return in any case.  As in “I don’t care if I have to beg in the streets, I’m not going back.” Providentially, she found a place at Grace Village run by the Oasis Foundation. Not as an orphan, but as a care giver. She has several small children in her care.

Like Wubete, a few of the patients cannot be treated surgically or the surgery doesn’t correct all their problems. There are ways to manage their cases, but the treatment options either aren’t feasible in isolated village situations or they have no support from family or friends. Many of these women work at the hospital as aids or in other support positions. The foundation supporting the hospitals has even started a village called Desta Mender  (Village of Joy) where the women can live and support themselves. In a country where the illiteracy rate for women is over twenty percent, they have access to basic classes, raise food for themselves and the hospital, and create handicrafts to sell to support themselves.

We take so much for granted here. And I seldom hear the thankful “there but for the grace of God or fortune, go I” from many of us. Instead there is a sense of entitlement that would outstrip Louis XIV at his most ambitious. That, and a small minded pettiness (in my opinion) that only proves that too many of us have far too much time on our hands and an inability to walk in some one else’s moccasins.

Cross posted in Cottage by the Hedge.


Friday...uh...Saturday photo

I DID forget...

All this week, I have been working my ass off in the back yard.  It's all brand new landscaping and is going to take some time to establish....much less fill in and really look like anything.

I do have one place on the property that pleases me.  When we moved in, the front walkway was lined with ratty rug juniper.  That had to go immediately.  I brought tons of cranesbill geranium from my gardens in PA, and put it into the walkway bed.  In the spring, as soon as the pansies were at the nursery I bought a couple of flats in a mix of colors and put them in with the cranesbill.  It has all filled out nicely and is looking beautiful.  This garden space reminds me that all the work I've been doing eventually....will be worth it.



Friday, May 23, 2008

Photo Friday

I almost forgot about photo Friday...  Here's my contribution:

Sorry my pix are coming out so huge.  I'm having trouble sizing the pictures from my DSLR, for some reason.

Friday Shots

 The only shot I could get of my newest visitor.  A Northern or Baltimore Oreole.  I just love his music.

 A potted African daisy in front of the house.

 Emily took this photo.  A visitor to the cemetary today.

 After the rain, a rainbow. 


I took a vacation day today, and it rained. Ah well. Shots from around our drippy yard.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On Senator Kennedy

I went and asked others to gather their thoughts about Ted Kennedy, and now I find I’m having difficulty corralling my own.

JFK was the first President I knew. I was only eight years old on November 22, 1963—the day his presidency was ended by an assassin’s bullet. Even so, I recall clearly the images of that day and the days following. Jackie Kennedy in her blood-stained powder-pink suit; a shaken LBJ taking the oath of office with his hand resting on a hastily acquired bible; little John-John’s grave salute; the flag-draped casket rumbling through the streets of the capitol, the prodigious assembly of the Kennedy clan on foot behind it. And the photographs—color, black & white, blurred frames of home-movie film, from as many angles as they could lay hands upon—showing the President’s head exploding…over and over and over.

Less than five years later, we were tortured by images of Kennedy’s younger brother Bobby lying on the floor of a California hotel, stunned and broken, an assassin’s bullet in his brain. I was almost thirteen when Bobby Kennedy was killed. But for some reason I don’t recall as much of the media coverage of his assassination as I do of JFK’s. Two things come to mind: I remember that the country was still reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King two months before. And I remember Ted Kennedy, his voice strained with tears, eloquently eulogizing his brother.

I remember thinking how hard it must be to be Ted Kennedy. How must it have been to be the baby of that privileged household, and suddenly have all their political and social aspirations thrust upon his shoulders—at the callow age of 36? He most certainly was not the best nor the brightest of the Kennedy scions, but he was the last one standing. And as such, he would take on that burden. He had no choice.

Through the years, Ted has lived a difficult and challenging life. He fell heir to the Kennedy power and entitlement, but he also inherited their penchant for scandal and tragedy. Power and entitlement saved him from the Chappaquiddick scandal, but could not spare him from the tragedies of an alcoholic wife or a son crippled by cancer. And he has toughed out forty years of increasingly blood-thirsty media that find their greatest satisfaction (and readership) in toppling or at least tarnishing anything even resembling a "hero" in the public’s eye, and thus have chosen the Kennedy clan as one of their favorite targets.

Through it all, he’s been "Senator Kennedy." In 1962, he succeeded JFK as Senator from Massachusetts (the seat was virtually handed to him as soon has he became old enough to serve.) And he has held it ever since. Through the assassinations of both his brothers; from Viet Nam through 9/11 and Iraq; through the Cold War to the fall of the Soviet Union; through Democratic majorities and minorities, and the terms of eight presidents, Ted Kennedy has served. Forty-six years. Now, his constituents back him on his own merits, rather than on those of his two long-dead brothers or his politically potent surname. He’s the elder statesman…the liberal lion. The embodiment of everything the right wing loves to hate. He’s done his best.

So I wish Ted Kennedy godspeed as he faces his own bullet to the brain.  May he fight the good fight, and may his brothers embrace him when it’s over.

The Kennedy Era

The news about Ted Kennedy is deeply sobering.  My father died of this very cancer in its most heinous variation....glioblastoma.  Dad died 5 months to the day after his diagnosis, WITH radiation treatment that appeared to be shrinking the tumor.  My heart is with the family right now because I know what that diagnosis feels like.  It is hopeless.  I admire all the talk about Ted having the strength to beat it.  I'm sure he'll try, but it is unbeatable.

I was in first grade when John Kennedy was killed.  I was at 4H camp when we got the news about Robert.  I remember the complete disbelief that I felt when I first learned that John Jr. had crashed in his plane.  In a way, that was the most shocking to me as he was of my generation.  He was the heir apparent in "Camelot".  In loosing Ted, I think we will see an end to an era.  I think of the Kennedys in much the same was as the Vanderbilts, or the Carnegies.  They are families that are so much bigger than the rest of power, and wealth, and in what they can accomplish because of it.  But, they fade away and become a part of American lore.  They will always be a larger than life part of our history.

I respect the family and I also pity them.  They have been through incredible tragedy...all played out in the public eye.  They have ALWAYS shown us an example of extreme dignity.  We all know the burden of coping with tragedy and loss, but we have the luxury of privately hiding and licking our wounds.  Families like these will be followed by the media.  The world wants a glimpse of their suffering.  If they don't offer themselves up to the public willingly, the media will hound them for what they want.  It couldn't be easy for Ted's family to have an army of cameras in his hospital room.  Yet, there they were as he and the family showed their "strength" with grace becoming the Kennedy name.  I can imagine Ted's wife and children seething under their breath, "get the hell OUT!"  It's hard enough to put on that face of strength to well meaning acquaintances.  I don't know how one does it for the world at large.

My thoughts will be with them as they face these coming weeks.  Hopefully, they will not have to share with us Ted's experience with radiation and chemotherapy.  Hopefully, they will be left in peace as parts of his mind and personality are stolen from him.  What they have ahead of them is certainly another tragedy.  Hopefully, the love and respect of a nation will help them through. 

Gathering My Thoughts On Ted Kennedy

... has proven to be quite difficult.

I was born and brought up here in Massachusetts with The Kennedy Family as an icon and the example of what one family can do for its community, its state and its country.

I remember well my youth and my youthful enthusiasm for JFK and then Robert.  And the horror that went along with their assassinations.  

An interesting thought for me while I think on the Kennedy Family and its involvement in politics is that Ted Kennedy has been able to live up to the demands, the dreams, and the reputation of the family because he is the one whose life was not cut short in his youth.  He has spent years in the public eye, not all of them pretty, but has come through as a beloved contemporary, across ages and beliefs and machinations in politics and is definitely one of Massachusetts Own.

I am no expert on politics nor am I affiliated with a political party.  I am registered as an independent and will stay that way.  My biggest challenge when thinking about politics is being able to believe, choose and have faith, trust and hope with one person ... no matter the affiliation.  So, as for Ted Kennedy?  It matters not to me his party.  Or his politics for that matter.  I know that Ted Kennedy did much for the 'underdog' and that his family is giving and compassionate and willing.  They will continue the legacy of the family long after Ted is gone and they will do so with the same dignity, grace and generosity that he has displayed in his senior years.

Some say he was a great politician.  I ask, "was?"  We need not put him in his grave now and we need not choose his replacement.  I think Ted Kennedy is made of tough Irish stock and I think his life on the water has made him strong of mind and body.  I believe he will attack this illness, this cancer with as much energy and tenacity as he has anything in his life and while, at the end of the day, this cancer will take his life, he will have fought it first.

When I look at Ted Kennedy I see a man who suffered great tragedies in his family, with his family.  I see a man who took on the responsibility of his late brother's children and families.  I see a man who made the blunder of all blunders when he left Mary Jo behind.  It is not up to me to forgive him or decide if he has paid his due in meaningful ways beyond the justice system. 

I recall conversations of my parents, when disillusionment set in and one or the other would say something along the line of 'Joe Kennedy was nothing but a rum runner' or, 'The Kennedy children will suffer the sins of the father.'  I knew though, that The Kennedy Family was an integral part of my parents lives.  They loved The Kennedy's.  The family were celebrity and were looked upon as royalty here and for many years both my parents held them in awe.  They were as sad as any one of us when first JFK and then Robert lost their lives.

I wish Ted Kennedy and his family the strength and support they need to get through this difficult time in his life.  My prayers are with him.



Gather Your Thoughts, Ladies...

All of us writing here are "of a certain age…" As such, we have probably always been aware of the Kennedys, their service to our country and their legacy. I would like each of us to post a few words on how we were affected by the news of Senator Ted Kennedy’s grim cancer diagnosis. I will be back this evening with my thoughts…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Grammar...

What in the world do they DO at school these days?

I haven’t been inside a classroom for decades, and I can’t experience today’s educational procedures through my children, because I don’t have any. But I keep hearing these stories about how parents are complaining that their kids are given TOO MUCH work—particularly homework. And I just can’t connect that with the products of the educational system with whom I come in contact every day.

They can’t spell, they can barely read. They don’t know how many ounces are in a pound. I’m not sure they know how many inches are in a foot or a yard…we don’t have much call to use those measurements at the restaurant. Having been raised with digital everything, they can barely tell time on a regular clock with hands. Without the register telling them how much change to give back to a customer for his twenty-dollar bill, they would be utterly confounded.

Given these glaring examples of the absence of education in education these days, I suppose it’s WAY too much for me to ask that they have some grasp of basic grammar. After all, terrible grammar has become completely ubiquitous. There are days when I think if I see one more misplaced or inappropriately added apostrophe, I might just explode.

People! Apostrophes are meant to show possession, or to replace letters left out when forming a contraction. There is no apostrophe in a plural word. I don’t care whether it "looks right" or doesn’t. It’s "bananas," not "banana’s." It’s "potatoes," not "potato’s." Nor "potatoe’s." And, by the way, the singular form of that word is not "potatoe." Augh!

And then there’s poor little "its." It’s that confusing little word that doesn’t seem to know its own spelling. Here’s the thing. "It’s" means "it is" or "is has." If you want to show that something belongs to "it," you use the word "its." NO APOSTROPHE. Just i-t-s.

I always thought that counter-intuitive. "Its" shows possession, so it should be "it’s." Right? Wrong. Here’s a little insight into this issue that I discovered in Lynne Truss’s delightful little book, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves." "It" is a pronoun.Like "you," or "they," or "we." Possessive pronouns do not use apostrophes. It is "yours, theirs, ours." Not "your’s, their’s, our’s." Ergo, it’s "its." Not "it’s." There you go.

Okay, that concludes today’s grammar lesson. Now…does anyone know a simple, fool-proof way to teach (adult) children how to make change? I’d be willing to part with serious money for that particular exercise…

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Turn....

As I'm reading everyone's answers to the meme, I'm struck by what I have in common with each of you.  Now I'm trying to decide if those are the points I should hit, or come up with something original.  Perhaps some of both...

Ten years ago:

Joel was three, Arielle was seven and Adrienne was ten.  Aaron and I celebrated our 15th anniversary with a trip to Italy.  My father was diagnosed with glioblastoma (brain cancer) in June and died in November.  Aaron traveled a lot and I couldn't be with my mom and sisters to help, so I was just trying to offer as much support as I could via the phone.  If I had it to do over, I would have found a way to have been there more.  I was running my own business designing and fabricating window treatments.  I gave up the business shortly after dad died.  I felt like I was doing a half assed job of everything.  Three weeks after my dad died, my dog died.  I had a rough time for quite awhile after that.

Five things on tomorrow's to do list:
I don't do "to do"lists...I fly by the seat of my pants most of the time.  It seems I'm usually operating on an interrupt system.  I'd like to:
- get unpacked from my trip
- get the laundry done
- make plans to get together with a friend
- find some things that are "missing" on my desk and get them taken care of
- work on organizing my photo files (this is ALWAYS on my "list" and it NEVER gets done.  It's an overwhelming task.

Things I'd do if I were a billionaire:
- find a house I'd LOVE to live in and have a ball making it "me"
- go on a shopping spree for photography equipment and take photography workshops at wonderful locations
- Relieve my sister's financial situation for life.  Free her from having to work so we could travel together.
- Buy a beautiful piece of property and set up a camp/environmental education center.  I'd have wilderness adventure programs, environmental awareness programs, art and wellness workshops for both children and adults.  I'd have scholarships available for kids who struggle to fit in and be understood.  My sister Meg had a special place in her heart for the student who was the underdog.  The center would be named after her.
- Volunteer for and financially support environmental causes.

Three bad habits:
- I'm incredibly disorganized.  I try to get organized, but as soon as life gets even remotely's all out the window.  Can't find my keys, car is a mess, stacks and stacks of stuff...just like the rest of you!  :)
- Taking an "ignore it and it will go away" attitude towards my health.  Fortunately, it's worked out for me so far.  Now that I'm past 50....I think I need to grow up and be more proactive about health maintenance.
- Procrastination!!!

Five places I've lived:
- Bedford, Indiana
- West Lafayette, Indiana
- Oakland, California
- Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Long Island, New York

The five first jobs I ever had:
- Girl Scout camp counselor
- Life Guard
- University cleaning crew (this job was awful!  We cleaned married student apartments after they were vacated for the year in preparation for the next years tenants.  You can't imagine how gross these places were....well, maybe you can...)
- Air Pollution Control Officer
- Stockbroker sales assistant

I'll Play Along Too

Ten Years Ago:  Trying to remember back ten years is tougher than it sounds.  I was still raising my children, a twelve year old and a 9 year old.  I was advocating endlessly and what I'd hoped was tirelessly for Emily at school.  I thought my mother was in desperate need of more help than I could give her and still I managed to squeak out just a little more time.  I felt my marriage slipping away from me back then and honestly, I let it go for a long time.  I was too tired taking care of too many people far too much and too often.  Things didn't get better for many years.

If Five Years Ago was included in this meme ... it'd sound much the same.  But worse.

Five Things on Tomorrow's To Do List:  I'll keep this simple:  Golf.  Payroll. Gather and organize receipts to send in to agency for respite funds.  Some form of housework, be it laundry, dusting, floors.  Sit down and write some personal notes and address some greeting cards.

Billionaire?  I would strategize, organize and begin a school for adults with special needs.  Their learning should not stop because they age out of 'the system'.  My school would be residential or day and would be year round with four semester breaks.  One week every three months.

Three Bad Habits:  Gee, I have so many I don't know which to choose.  Let's start with ... if I break a finger nail, I chew at it instead of clipping and filing.  I pile up the plastic recycling items in the small side sink until they are falling into the larger sink or onto the floor or I'm knocking them on to the counter.  (one might say overall it's a good habit to recycle, but my process needs work) It is roughly ten steps to the bin on the back deck.  I let myself get cranky and irritable when something is bothering me instead of addressing the issue.

Five Places I've Lived:   Massachusetts, Massachusetts, Massachusetts, Massachusetts, Massachusetts.  (say that three times fast)

The First Five Jobs I Ever Had: 

Mother's Helper-Babysitter for three boys, a set of five year old twins and a two year old.  They were the cutest, but freshest little boys. 

Sales clerk at Deerskin Trading Post; The original on Rte 1 in Danvers MA -- it was something of a tourist destination back in the 60's and 70's.  I spent most Saturdays and Sundays there for two years, buttoning the buttons on all those leather and suede jackets that folks tried on.

Kitchen crew-dishwasher at a nursing home.  Have you ever had to dig through a barrel of garbage for a set of dentures?  Only to find out they were left on the table at the restaurant the owner's family took the owner to lunch at?  Oh yeah, baby, that was a job!

Laundress at a nursing home.  The good part of that job was the wonderful Polish woman who spoke no English but came to visit me every day.  She would tap her hand on the table for folding clothes, I'd hop up and sit with my legs hanging over the edge.  She'd pull up a chair and she would massage my lower legs, all the while speaking and singing to me in Polish. 

Darkroom Tech in a radiology department at a local hospital.  I loved that job!  It was quiet and peaceful and when there was a lull in the patient flow, I could sit and crochet with the lights on.  Sometimes the girls and I had 'eyebrow' parties.



Okay...I'll Play

Ten years ago: Still recovering from the ordeal of my sister’s death and trying to find some meaningful way to relate to her daughters. Couldn’t find a decent job to save my life; my marriage had become a part-time arrangement. And my Dad was exhibiting increasingly distressing symptoms of the as yet undiagnosed cancer that would take his life less than seven months later. Not exactly the best of times. But, hey… it got worse…

Five things on tomorrow's to do list:
1. Plan menu and pricing for June catering event at the fairgrounds.
2. Clean upstairs of house (downstairs was completed this evening…)
3. Pot some outdoor plants, if it’s not pouring rain
4. Run around like a crazy person preparing for "Senior Night" at the café.
5. Obsess about the five hundred other things I’m supposed to be doing that I won’t have time for tomorrow.

Things I'd do if I were a billionaire:
1. Pay off the café’s debt…and then sell it. I’m afraid if I had a billion dollars, I just would not want to work this hard! Yes, I’m an official weenie…
2. Hire a landscape architect to turn my yard into a "Better Homes and Gardens" photo spread. Or maybe I’d just buy a new house that already looked like one…
3. Buy the company my husband works for and see if we couldn’t make it profitable. This would entail letting husband actually DO his job; or, rather, designate someone else to bear his present title and let them DO the job, as husband would be sitting behind the executive desk making decisions more befitting his intelligence and experience level.
4. Figure out if I could throw enough money at the United States Government to fix it, or at least some aspect of it, like regulation of health care and insurance costs.
5. Set up a foundation to address…some global problem. I’d like to say "world hunger" or "medical care," but I really think the greatest evil facing the world population today is religious violence. And I’m pretty sure no amount of money could fix that…

Three bad habits:
1. I bite my nails and "peel" the sides of my thumbs (a nervous habit.) That is one reason why I loved having acrylic nails. Couldn’t do either one of those things with the fake nails.
2. I lose keys. And yes, I do it on such a regular basis that it qualifies as a habit.
3. I’m a stacker. I build little piles of stuff (eclectic piles of mail, dirty dishes, magazines, bobby pins, earrings, spare change, due bills) that I intend to deal with and then never get around to. I have teetering stacks adjacent to each of my favorite resting places in the house: on my bedside table, on my armoire in the bathroom, on the table next to my recliner…

Five places I've lived:
1. North Suburban Chicago (the North Shore before it WAS the North Shore…)
2. FAAAR North Suburban Chicago (as young newlyweds who could not afford to live on the North Shore)
3. Eugene, Oregon.
4. Southwest Portland (OR) suburbia
5. Columbia County, OR

The five first jobs I ever had:
1. Babysitter-mother’s helper during my last two years of high school. The lady I worked for had an interesting collection of sex "self-help" books (The Joy of Sex…Everything You Always Wanted to Know...). I learned a lot during my tenure with her…and not about babysitting.
2. Production worker for a home-based business that distributed home wine-making kits. It was run by a guy whose main reason for owning the business seemed to be so that he could surround himself with nubile young high school girls in hot pants and halter tops.
3. My first real job was as a retail worker at a department store. I got fired from that job after less than thirty days, for no real reason (honestly! Seems that a cost-cutting furor went through the store shortly after I was hired, and since I was not yet part of the union, I got the axe.) Unfortunately, that seems to have set the tone for my entire working life…
4. Pizza Queen! My "rebound" job after the ill-fated retail fiasco. I made pizzas for a living for ten years after that. (Well, I did more than make pizzas…I made it all the way up to "Night Manager" at one point…)
5. For a short time in the middle of my "Pizza Queen" days, I decided to try retail once again. Big mistake. Stayed at that job for less than three months. Retail sucks! Sorry…


A Meme for Us

Two exams and four papers by next Tuesday at 4:30 pm. All in progress. But, OK, one meme from Law and Gospel:

Ten years ago: I was practicing family law very very very part time and homeschooling the Lovely Daughter through fifth grade. Off the top of my head, what I remember about that year is many afternoon hikes, an involved study of China, the I-don't-know-how-many novels (50?) she read, pottery, flute, horseback riding, ice skating, making our way through fractions and decimals -- and an endless custody case in which I served as the guardian ad litem for five children whose family had imploded.

Five things on tomorrow's to do list:
1. Study for church history exam the next day.
2. Study for New Testament exam the next day.
3. Steering committee meeting to plan next fall's Peace and Justice events.
4. Meet with church history professor to discuss material for exam the next day.
5. Take a L-O-N-G walk.

Things I'd do if I were a billionaire:
1. Pay off the debt. Three kids in college and one mom in seminary over the course of five years? The results are not pretty.
2. Build that cottage overlooking the Matanzas River to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, somewhere near St. Augustine.
3. Cameras, lenses, related stuff, and the trips all over the world to go with them.
4. Set up a fund at the small rural college with which my family is involved to provide consistent support for mothers returning to school. It serves a diverse Appalachian population for which higher education is usually a pipe dream. I have often thought that my own mother, had she lived, would have found an educational home there when we grew up and she discovered that she had aspirations beyond the two years of college she had completed before she got married.
5. And you know what I'd really love to do? Set up an interfaith center for expression and dialogue through the performing and visual arts.

Three bad habits:
1. I wash the dishes when I run out of them.
2. I don't take care of things like getting the dishwasher repaired.
3. I leave things where they fall.

Five places I've lived:
1. Vero Beach, Florida
2. Southwestern Ohio.
3. Western Massachusetts.
4. Providence, Rhode Island
5. Where I live now.

The five first jobs I ever had:
1. Mother's helper on Cape Cod. The summers of 1969 and 1970, which should give you some definitive clues as to my life then. Paul: be quiet.
2. Motel housekeeper. Most important tip for handling stultifyingly dull work: Clean the bathrooms and vacuum during the commercials so you can watch the soaps as you change beds and dust.
3. Waitress at Chautauqua Institution hotel. Great way to spend a college summer.
4. Hasbro Toy Factory assembly line worker making GI Joe flashlights. Probably the worst job of my life that I actually kept for awhile.
5. Drugstore cashier. Another tip for handling a boring job: Become an aficionado of magazines. Every single one on the rack. Use your imagination; I kid you not.

I tag: the other writers over at Women On... .
(Cross-Posted from Search the Sea.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Somewhere Around Cloud Nine...

Happy Birthday to me, two months early...

 Sunday night, the husband treated me and the good and faithful "D" (my assistant manager at the café) to an Oregon Symphony performance of Carmina Burana. And then we went out to a fancy dinner at the Heathman Hotel ½ block down the street from "The Schnitz" (the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.)

Ever since I turned myself on to Carmina Burana earlier this year, I knew I would have to hear it performed live. But I thought that, living out here to the far west of nowhere, I would have to wait forever.

But lo and behold, the Oregon Symphony performed it today as their final concert of the 2008 season. I only heard about it on Saturday, our seats were so crappy we were practically sitting in the orchestra’s laps…

But still…it was fantastic.

Judi! I got to "see" Carmina Burana! Score!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


A couple of years ago we stopped at Washburn. It was mid afternoon and mid summer. It's not unusual for the wind to blow like mother on summer afternoons at the coast. Either that or fog in when the tide comes in. Anyway we went down on the beach and decided really fast that it was just to windy.

So we went back to the van and moved to a place in the lot where we could watch the ocean and listen to the surf without being blown towards the California line. It wasn't too long until we quit watching the ocean and started watching the gulls. They'd fly up the beach against the wind; they'd work so hard to get up the beach. A couple of minutes later a white/grey blur would flash by going down wind. They were working so hard to get up the beach just so they could ride the wind back down the beach. And start all over again.

We spent about an hour listening to the waves and watching the birds "surf" the wind.

Sorry no new pictures, but after two days of ninety degree heat, what was blooming is well scorched. And the new blooms will be coming on during the week. About all we have is some shrubby cinquefoil. And about the only way I'm going to get a shot of them is by getting down on the ground. And I'm not up to that yet. LOL

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Another Friday Photo on Saturday

Greetings from SAN DIEGO!!

View from Beaches Trail at Torry Pines Nature Preserve.


And I do mean early. I hauled myself out of bed at six this morning. Good thing too, because by eight it was getting to warm to work in the sun, at least for this fifty something office worker.

So not in proportion. But, hey, I spent all of fifteen minutes on picture taking. If I can crawl out that early again tomorrow I'll do some tripod shots and see what I can come up with.

From bottom to the right, Strawberry growing in a landscape timber that's well on it's way to rotting out. First sunlight on the fern by the sidewalk. The irises have really started to bloom, this one is always first. This hot sun is so not good for them; and the blooms don't last very long anyway. The sun just hitting the seed heads of the blue oat grass. The red rhodie behind the arbor will probably be well and truly fried by the end of the weekend. They don't last very long, but we have others more shade that haven't even started to bloom yet.

Cross posted in Cottage by the Hedge.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Where I wish I was on this toasty not summer afternoon. Washburn state park on the Oregon Coast. Took this one last summer.

Photo Friday

There is something in my brain forcing me to write, 'Friday's First Foto Finish For Me Is A Frog.'  I don't know why.

Whatever you may be up to this weekend, I offer you some simple advice.  Enjoy!

 This photo was taken in the early fall last year.  This frog was discovered nestled among the onions and reeds of a large German onion plant I keep outside all summer long.  The close up view reveals the frog's (s') natural ability to blend in. 

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Photo Friday

I now declare Photo Friday, ladies. 

Kat suggested we not come up with a "subject" for our Friday photos...that we just post one that speaks to us right now. is one of my favorite photos.  I posted it once on "...terms..." 

Anything this good (in my opinion) bears revisiting...


Just Weighing In

Weighing In On Women’s Fashion    


Key Word:  Women

Second Key Word:  Fashion

The two words shall not meet on any given day of the week in any clothing store regardless designer names, name brands or ‘off rack’ status.


I am 5’3” and, well, I don’t like to fess up, but err, overweight comes to mind.  No.  NotOHMYGOODNESSLOOKATTHATFATWOMAN’ overweight, but none-the-less, I am.

I’m working on it.  I celebrate two years smoke free next month – I’m shooting for any length of time with my nineteen year old body back.  Any one taking odds on that?

I have my favorite stores.  Macys, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, J. Crew, Aero, Talbots, Saks, and a few others.  Each store carries at the least one or two items that I know will fit me.  The item might be a tee, a style of slack, a blouse, shirt, sweater, sweats.  The item itself does not matter. 

My biggest challenge when shopping for clothing, not to be confused with fashion essentials, seems to be finding more than one or two items in the same store, preferably on the same day within the correct shopping season.   

Last week I took this poor, tired, worn out woman shopping for tops.  Not shorts.  Not pants.  Not bras, panties, socks, shoes, dresses or a bathing suit.  Let's save discussion of underwear for another day.

I spent hours upon hours traveling my favorite stores for tees and blouses:  Casual and business attire.  After an exhausting jaunt through the local mall I headed to the strip mall and TJ Maxx.  Oh, the purses as you enter the store.  The shoes!  The jewelry!  The junior department!   The baby clothing!  House ware items!

Then I saw the sign:  Specialty Sizes.  What?!  ‘Specialty Sizes’.  Oh Dear.  I’ve become a specialty size.  I scanned the aisles, all two of them, with the 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X labels.  Not a soul shopping there.  No wonder.  Placed smack dab in the middle of the shopping floor between the junior sundresses and the junior active wear with no privacy, no dignity, no women’s styles.   If you like young, you’re good.

I’ve come to realize that I can shop until I drop and still come up empty handed.  Oh yes!  There were many shirts, blouses, tees, tanks and empire-waist-just-how-everyone-wants-to-look-pregnant tops. There they were, racks stuffed to the point of not being able to move hangers in either direction in rayon and nylon and stick between your butt cheek polyester material, and not one top for a woman of my age, size and fashion sense could be found. 

I opted for three tops.  A simple pale yellow v-neck tee (the better to show off the crepe neck I’ve developed) in a stretch knit fabric.  The correct size proved impossible to wear, so I upped the size by 1X.  The next choice was a navy with pale blue thin stripes polo style shirt (great for golf!) with a nice collar, and the appropriate coverage for my décolletage.  On arriving home and trying it on a second time, I realized that the short sleeves are too short for my taste, allowing all the world to see my not so pretty upper arms … just a tad too much.  Argh.

The third top?  Huh.  A lovely teal green tee with some too young, modern design on the front.  Its tailored a bit and while on the hanger gives one the illusion that it will slim you in appearance uponslipping it over your head and onto your body.  Uh.  No.   The little swirls and sparkles just make for a broader look than I need at this particular time and that top has made its way back to the shop!

All three of these tops are designer brands found at an off price store.   I think the designers need a few more classes in anatomy if they are going to address women’s sizes. 

Oh, wait.  Thatsspecialty sizes’.  They need further classes in anatomy if they are going to mass produce apparel for the women of specialty sizes. 

Real women come in all shapes, sizes, ages and styles.  Maybe, just maybe, the stylist who dressed Marissa Jaret Winokur for ‘Dancing With the Stars’ will develop a line of clothing for women of a certain size.  At the least, the sparkles and fringe will take the attention away from my, er, uh, ... size.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday Morning Musing: Fashion Edition

Yes, I've been shopping. I'm doing CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Famous Giant Major Hospital, starting in three weeks. The barely acceptable parts of my current wardrobe consists of:

long, LONG skirts from my Jewish school teaching days,

long and comfy sweaters to pull on over tank tops and said skirts,

the jeans and cords that I slouch around in at seminary,

some capris that are sort of cute but hardly qualify as working wardrobe material.

My preference:

elegant linen pants that reach the tops of my shoes, not a few inches above and not eight inches below (I'm 5'3"),

tops with necklines that do not require creative new undergarments for each one and/or broadcast the message that there is really only portion of my anatomy of significance,

well-cut jackets long enough to cover my rear rather than bisecting it horizontally.

What's out there?

Prints so ugly, offered in an even worse color palette, that I'm astounded the designers are still employed,

Cute little empire tops that look absolutely adorable on the Lovely Daughter who will turn 21 this summer,

stiff and uncompromising pants that do not flatter anyone shorter than 5'8" or heavier than 100 pounds,

and absolutely lovely skirts and dresses designed for all those garden parties I will be attending night after night.

In a word, virtually nothing remotely acceptable for the woman past thirty who would like to come off as reliable and competent and self-restrained; someone who feels (on occasion at least) confident and attractive with no need whatever to display her shape or her skin; someone who adores her daughter but would prefer to look like herself.

I don't see much point in venturing into any clothing departments or stores for at least another season. Maybe by fall they will be displaying something for grown-ups.

(Cross-Posted at Search the Sea.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fashion Follies

Between stress, sleep deprivation, and just the fact that I own a place that serves 12 varieties of premium ice cream and the best French fries in town, my WeightWatchers’ body is swiftly becoming a distant memory. I’d love to say it would be a snap to dump ten or fifteen pounds in order to fit into last summer’s clothes. But the fact is, I simply cannot worry about that right now. I do not have the extra energy to invest in watching everything I put into my mouth. Some day (soon, I hope) I’ll jump back on that wagon. But today is not that day.

Thusly, I spent several hours this afternoon clothes shopping. And I have to say, when I look at what’s out there, I am at best completely uninspired; at worst, borderline suicidal. Let’s face it: 95% of the offerings in any given suburban "Misses" department are just butt ugly.

Hey…I’m a faithful fan of "What Not to Wear." I know the rules. Sure, some of their fashion mandates would never make it past the threshold of my closet—like the shoes for which Stacey London has an unhealthy fetish. (I can just see me hobbling around the restaurant for fourteen hours in a pair of stilettos, slopping mayonnaise on the dagger-like toes and pirouetting gracefully through grease puddles…) But a lot of what they preach makes sense to me. I’m all about dark-wash trouser jeans, pairing pin-stripes with subtle prints, cute fitted jackets that nip in to give you the appearance of a waist where you once had one, and skirts that swirl coyly at mid-knee. But apparently you need a ticket to New York and five grand to spend on Madison Avenue in order to score these sophisticated, mature-but-not-frumpy looks.

What I found in my local stores are stiff imported jeans that are either too long, too short, too baggy or give me a dire case of "camel-toe;" prints that are about as subtle as a train wreck; half-sleeve cropped swing jackets with one giant button at the neck (some kind of lame stab at a mid-century Audrey Hepburn look?); and skirts that swirled coyly either just below my butt (which, I’ll have to concede, is not too far from mid-knee these days) or around the tops of my feet. Yuck, yuck YUCK! Who wears this stuff?

So, just for grins, I retreated to the juniors department, where the clothes are much cuter, and if one chooses carefully, one can get away with a few items that at least hint at some knowledge of current fashion without screaming, "I’m 52 going on 13…" Back when I was a "Points"-obsessed size 4, the juniors department was a viable secret indulgence. But, alas, those twenty extra pounds have dashed my dreams of snatching one or two fashion-forward items out of the hands of the teeny-boppers (or whatever they call them these days.)

The really cute stuff is reserved for anorexic children; and there is probably a surplus of well-dressed grandmas in our area. But if you happen to be between the ages of 35 and 75, you might as well wear what you own until it turns to rags, because there’s just not anything out there for you. What’s a relatively hip (fashion-wise), "woman of a certain age" to do about clothes that fit—both her youthful outlook and her slightly time-worn physique? Without flying to New York with a free $5000 VISA card in her pocket….

Anybody else care to weigh in?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

On the History of Mothers' Day

This was written by one of the earliest promoters of Mothers’ Day in America. Interesting to note the anti-war sentiment. Are the words not what women have been crying for centuries?

Perhaps we should keep them in our hearts when it comes time to cast our votes this November…

Mothers’ Day Proclamation

Julia Ward Howe, 1870 

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.


My folks were married in ’45. They bought two things right away, a pressure cooker and a sewing machine; mom doesn’t remember which. We still have both of them. There may be a different machine in the cabinet, but we still have the cabinet. The pressure cooker gets trotted out ever canning season. When we got the new stove we made sure to get a heavy duty burner for canning. Their first “refrigerator” was an ice box, the milk man was still making deliveries, the washer had a wringer, the dryer was solar powered and there was a large garden in the back yard.


Mom was a logger’s wife. Which was, now that I think about it, is just about like being married to a farmer. So much of dad’s work depended on the weather. If it wasn’t too wet to work it was too dry. Too much mud or too much snow. Some times she’d have to hang his clothes and hose them down before she could wash them. Talk about double teaming. We didn’t get a drier until after sister number 2 was out of diapers. Now that I think about it, I suspect that we didn’t get an automatic washer until I was in high school.


She ran the house, saw to the garden, baked bread, canned everything that wasn’t nailed down, made sure dad had a good lunch to take to the woods, and hauled us down to the park in the summer afternoons so my hoot owling dad could get in a nap so he could get up at two am and go to work again. She put that sewing machine to good use, led a Girl Scout troop and I don’t remember when I learned to shell peas or snap beans. I suspect I was toddler curious while she was working with them and gave me some to do too.


There were good times and bad times. Hell, we never had more than two good years in a row. And I don’t think he went more than three or four years without some kind of injury. When dad was disabled she did a complete about face and went to work. She spent another twenty years or so cooking meals for other peoples’ kids in one of the dorms at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns ="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />University of Oregon.


<PCLASS=MSONORMAL style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">If she was ever afraid, we didn’t know it. If she ever cried it was behind closed doors. She’s always had a hug and a smile. The only regrets I ever hear are that the grand kids are further away than she’d like and that she can’t get things done as fast as she used to.


Happy Mother’s Day to someone who is not only my mother but my best friend. And I truly believe that no matter what happens, she will always be with me.


On Not-So-Happy Holidays...

The perfect little post-War family.  All gone now.  All with days in May that bring the memories.  Some sad, some wistful, some bright...

This will be my first motherless Mother's Day.  As well, Mom and Dad's anniversary is (was?) May 12.  This year would have been their 63rd. 

Our gift to them this year will be their headstone...