Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Busy Bee

Well, really, it's a hornet.  It's a bit scary to be in the pool and have him dive bombing about while he works ...

... then eventually he settled down to the business of digging his hole to bury his spoils.

I have to tell you once he stopped flying I was hard pressed to stop watching his work.   Fascinating.

 The hornet to the right starting his digging. 

 He has a little pile of sand going now ... he digs into the hole, goes down in and then brings the sand out ...

  Hole top middle with the hornet.  Spoils, the poor dead cricket to the bottom left.

  The lighter sand is the sand he dug out of the hole and this is just before he drags his spoils to the hole for burial.

  Poor little cricket. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lies, damned lies, and the internet...

I'm home sick. I'm REALLY sick. Upper respiratory crud with headache, cough, chills, and fever, 'nuff said.

So I was really in no mood for a *$*#*@! "helpful" email that turned up in my inbox today, bashing Obama, purportedly giving the "real" story on his visit to Afghanistan, supposedly from a soldier serving in Afghanistan. The jist of the drivel was that Obama
"shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service" and "really he was just here to make a showing for the American's [sic] back home that he is their candidate for President". The writer finished by saying, "I just don't understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and-Chief [sic]". Uh-huh. That may be the only honest statement in the email. And while I'm at it, for what it's worth, Article Two of the Constitution establishes the President as commander-IN-chief of the armed forces, not commander-AND-chief. The icing on the cake was an Einstein quote at the bottom of the email: 'The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who do nothing about them'.


Not wanting to be included in that group,
I considered it my civic duty to find theSnopes article pointing out that the report is false and totally outrageous, part of a chain email campaign smearing Obama. The Snopes article is accompanied by photos (one of which I've included here) and a video that belie the accusations.

I cut and pasted the link, witha note asking people to please check it out before disseminating the misinformation any further, and hit
"Reply All". And if that ticks people off...well, frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Intimations on Mortality...

I wear contacts, and about a month ago, when two lenses unexpectedly and inexplicably tore within a day of first using them, I realized I was down to my last pair.  As it’s been a little over 2 years since my last eye exam, I knew that 1-800-Contacts was not going to send me any more lenses without a new prescription.  Earlier this year I’d tried to make an appointment with the optometrist who’s examined my eyes regularly since I first needed reading glasses, about 15 years ago, but I gave up going back to her when, in response to my requesting that the office schedule enough time for me to be fitted with two different types of lenses, as they’ve done previously, I was told I’d have to make two separate appointments.  This is the same office that overcharged me a couple of years ago when Chris was still on my insurance and both he and I had eye exams within a week of each other.  At the time, I thought I was paying too much, but the receptionist insisted that was what I owed, so I didn’t argue.  I learned I’d been overcharged over a year later, when I went in for another eye exam, and a different receptionist cheerfully told me I had a $150+ credit on my account.  I like the doc, but because her idea of extended hours is to remain open until 6:00 one night a week, and because their policy of requiring two separate appointments to be fitted with two different types of lenses means I’d have to take two afternoons off work or telecommute for two days to have an eye exam and be fitted for contacts, I decided it was time to find a new doc.  Also, because I'm 58 and because my oldest brother has glaucoma, and one of my sisters has a serious eye disorder in one eye, I decided to see an ophthalmologist instead of an optometrist.  Looking through providers on my insurance plan, I found a board-certified ophthalmologist with real extended hours (Saturdays!) and an office a couple of miles from my house.  I went to see her this week. 

I didn’t like her staff any better than the staff in the optometrist’s office.  After a long wait, I had a brief vision test with my contacts in place, then I removed them and we repeated the test, after which a twenty-something asked me to follow her through the maze of the waiting room to a long, narrow room in the back of the office.  The room was like a narrow bowling alley, lined with chairs on either side, half of which were occupied by patients avidly watching Court TV, which was blasting from a television set at the end of the room. “Sit there,” the twenty-something said, indicating a chair next to a rather elaborate machine, “and tilt your head back!”  She came toward me with a bottle of drops.  I knew she was going to put them in my eyes, but I couldn’t resist asking, “What are those?”  “Numbing drops,” she said, sounding incredibly bored as she squeezed them into my eyes.  Uh-huh.  They stung like crazy for a moment before they worked their magic.  She then proceeded to clean the tip of a wand-like instrument that appeared to have a needle at the end of it…at least that’s what it looked like to me, because without my contacts in, although I can see across a room just fine, everything up close is a blur…and I was rather alarmed when she brought this needle-like object toward my eyes.  Don’t move,” she commanded.  Ha!  No danger of my moving with that thing directly in front of my eyes. One eye at a time, she touched it to both my eyes and/or eyelids, with everything numb and unable to focus, I couldn’t tell which. To my relief, it didn’t hurt. “What does that do?” I asked, when she was done. “It measures your pressure,” she said. After that, she dilated my eyes and I sat with all the other patients, watching Court TV and waiting to be examined.

Eventually, it was my turn, and I went into yet another room where I met the ophthalmologist.  In spite of the wait and the impersonal attitude of her staff, I liked the doc immediately.  She introduced herself using her name rather than her title, and was very matter of fact and down to earth. She examined my right eye first, and then, as she examined my left eye with the ophthalmoscope, she asked how long since my last eye exam (a little over 2 years), whether my eyes were dilated then (yes).  She said, “Your left optic nerve is a lot bigger than the right, did you know that?”  “No…what?” I asked.  She said, “There’s a deepening of the cup, with a widening of the cup-to-disc ratio, in your left optic nerve…”  When I got home and googled it, I learned that the textbook term is “glaucomatous changes in the optic nerve”. She tried to reassure me.  She told me not to be alarmed, that my pressures were normal (20 in my right eye, 19 in my left...normal range is 10-21)…she didn’t tell me that there’s a kind of glaucoma called “normal tension glaucoma”.  She did say that because pressures tend to fluctuate in accordance with circadian rhythms, she wanted me back in a week or so to measure my pressure first thing in the morning, and also to do a couple of hours of visual field tests, etc.

Uh-huh.  We made the appointment then and there.  At work the next day, I told my boss and said I’d need to go back for another exam.  She said fine, but I couldn’t miss a meeting she’d scheduled…of course, it conflicted with the time of the appointment, so I called to reschedule and learned the next available is in a month.  I took that, and come hell or high water, I’ve blocked out the time on the office calendar and I’ll be there.

Changes in the optic nerve…shoot. Best case scenario is that I don’t yet have glaucoma; next best is that we’ve caught it early, and that with regular monitoring and meds, we can slow down the changes and keep them from progressing.  And that said…I’m grateful it’s one eye, not both.  I’m grateful that this didn’t happen when I was younger (there are children, even babies, born with glaucoma).  And I’m grateful to live in a time when there are ways to slow down and maybe even prevent the vision loss that used to be inevitable with glaucoma.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Evening Photo

Old Hallowell Days, Hallowell, Maine, July 19, 2008

  I used to believe Peace Is Always Possible.  I'm waiting to believe again.

 A drummer for the Knights of Columbus ... which just goes to show you ... it takes all sorts. 

Happy Friday Folks. May you all enjoy a wonderful weekend!



Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This has been kicking around for awhile, but I’ve had trouble bringing all the threads together.  I’ve a got a picture. Now if I can just fit it in a frame.

Harking back to my entries on canning and stuff.  It was work, but it wasn’t. There was time between batches to kick back, read a little, harass a little sister (or be harassed), pull a weed or three, to just be. That’s how I was raised. That’s what families do; or did. And that’s what they did for generations. What really bugs me is that when the work gets entered in the balance sheet for gross national product, all that ends up in the final total is the cost of the materials. There’s no line in GNP for the creation of the ties between friends and families.

The work was done within the family or with friends. Think back on all those stories of barn raisings and quilting bees. The work got done, but no money changed hands. More than likely everybody went home with tired bodies, full stomachs, the satisfaction of a job well done and enough juicy gossip to keep tongues wagging until the next get together.

No income was recorded. No taxes paid. Well, in our case, dad got paid by Pope and Talbot for managing one of their cutting crews, but that information got put on a different line on the balance sheet.

I’m sure it wasn’t some sinister conspiracy, but somehow we’ve been convinced that it’s more productive for both parents to work outside the home and pay someone else to provide the things we did for ourselves. Or try to squeeze all that “unpaid” work in around the edges.

And no, we didn’t do it all. No family could ever provide everything they needed from within the family. They always had to fill in with what they couldn’t do themselves. And no, I don’t want to live in a country where the only job for woman is in the home. I like having the choices.

But, I get the feeling it’s a giant shell game. The same work gets done. But, now the national economy recognizes the value of the work because a dollar value can be attached to it and taxes get paid. And somehow the parent that stays home is seen as being less productive than if they were in the paid job market.

And I guess you need to push to have both parents in the job market while the pressure keeps building to turn pre-school into kindergarten and kindergarten into the first grade. Can’t have those pesky children taking too much time to become employable for the jobs we’ve decided are worth paying for. There’s very little room anymore for clowns, dreamers, contemplatives or other square pegs.

I truly believe we’ve lost even more. There’s a knowledge that comes from having to manage things. You don’t learn that in a class room. There’s a knowledge that comes from knowing you won’t always get what you want the way you want it. You just might have to settle for something else. You may have to wait awhile. And you just might find out that what you get is so much more than you expected.

And in reference to Lisa's earlier entries today. You can't say this often enough. If you have to explain the joke, it probably wasn't funny in the first place. Humor can be, and often is, a thinly veiled excuse for hostility. How many of us have found ourselves laughing at a joke while thanking whoever runs the universe that the joke wasn't directed at us. When you call the "joker" on his/her bad taste they can try turn it back on you. You're just not sophisticated enough to get the joke. Puhleez. Perhaps we're caught off guard with no snappy comeback. I've had those deer in the headlights moments more than once.  Or maybe we're just too polite to tell someone he's the south end of a north bound Missouri mule.

Get a Sense of Humor, Senator?

I just finished reading an editorial in Sunday’s paper, written by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.  In which she suggested that, in the wake of the New Yorker cartoon going over like a fart in church, the Obama campaign needed to get a sense of humor.  Her last “zinger” in the piece was something to the effect that “…if Obama gets elected, it won’t be the economy that’s depressed…it will be the rest of us.”

Oh, now there’s a mature point of view.

Apparently, it is a requirement in 21st century America that our leaders entertain as well as govern us.

Did it ever occur to Dowd that some things simply are not funny?  Should not be funny?    

Oh, yes…a ponderous load of satirical humor has been aimed at the Bush Administration over the last eight years.  That was because if we didn’t find a way to laugh at the preposterous performance of Bush and his cronies, we were going to start crying and never stop.

Maybe it’s a good thing that Barack Obama’s earnestness, and, yes, his blackness, are going to make it difficult to inject the kind of mean-spirited humor into Campaign 2008 that has been a hallmark of the past several campaigns.  Maybe it’s time America realized that the position in which we find ourselves, after the eight-year run of “Mr. Bush Destroys Washington,”  is decidedly unfunny. 

Tags: ,

Waking Up to Current Events

Up until a few weeks ago, I was so submersed in the café and all its multiple layers of challenges that I had no time to write.  And if I did have a minute or two to call my own, my brain was too fried to craft anything worthwhile.  Forget about creativity…legibility would have been a stretch.  I was to the point where I could barely speak without screaming, growling or sobbing.  I had no desire to try to write from that place. 

All it took was a few successful (at least for now) hires to scoop me out of there and lift me to the plateau upon which I now find myself.  After successfully completing what passed for a vacation—a week in which I only had to work 1 ½ days—my chronic exhaustion began to abate.  In the two weeks since, I have been able to wangle two—count them, TWO—days off in every seven.  I’m almost beginning to feel human again.  Unfortunately, my ever-churning mind cannot seem to take advantage of the opportunity to switch off for awhile.  Sans the overload of café issues that have been swirling around in it for the past many moons, it has begun sucking in new topics.  Or perhaps it is simply letting in the stuff that would have been there, had it not been running over with entrepreneurial backflow.

First and foremost, there is the national political scene to worry about.  I can’t help but notice that the whole election process appears so much less snarky than it was four years ago.  With the exception of that horrid cartoon on The New Yorker, I’ve hardly seen or heard anything that has  made me want to scream at the television or hide my head under a cardboard box until the election is over.  I don’t know if this is because the Karl Roves of the world have been excluded from the process this time, or if the candidates are aware of the average American’s increasing disgust with the divisiveness, or if the media have for some reason changed their focus from creating sensation to responsible reporting (this seems doubtful…)  Or maybe John McCain and Barack Obama are just un-sensational men.  Well, that can’t be it.  Who could possibly be more un-sensational than George W. Bush?

And then there is the economy. 

I wrote a prophetic little blurb in my other journal back in March.  Rather than link to it, I’ll just copy it verbatim here (it’s short….):

Gas Prices Rise to New National Record

Watch for prices of just about everything to reach a bone-crunching crescendo as the Bush Administration grabs for every dollar it can for its Big Energy puppet masters, before it goes down into the tarpits at the end of this year...

Can they accomplish this without laying complete waste to the nation's economy?  Probably not.

Do they care what happens to the nation's economy?  Obviously not. 

Their solution:  Go borrow a bunch of money from China, throw a few bucks at the general population as you bow out, stuffing your pockets all the way, and let the next administration worry about cleaning up the mess.


Not really...

The soulless avarice of the Bush Administration is without peer, at least in modern memory.  This administration has existed for one purpose and for one purpose only: To advance the political and financial aspirations of Big Energy, particularly Big Oil.  I do not believe there is anything they would not do, anyone they would not kill, any society they would not destroy, any war they would not start, in order to establish and maintain their place as the richest and most powerful men in the world.  They would do anything to tighten their grip on a few more billion dollars.  And have no doubt, money does equal power.  The Texas Junta has demonstrated this so flagrantly that one would have to be the equivalent of an animated potato to have missed it. 

I further predict that gas prices and the economy will miraculously heal themselves almost immediately upon George W. Bush’s exit from the White House. It is to be hoped that we can all dig in our fingernails and hang on until that time…           

Monday, July 21, 2008


I’ve never seemed to hear the music that most other people hear. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually felt the presence of God (whoever or however you define “God”) inside the walls of a human built sanctuary. My spiritual search sometimes feels like I’m hiking towards that glow on the horizon with a herkin’ great pebble in my shoe and no matter how many times I shake out that shoe the pebble won’t come out. The darn thing moves around. Its size and shape seems to change with every step. So I keep marching along; stopping every now and then to shake out the pebble that magically finds its way back before I have time to take the next step.

I have a shelf of books on various flavors of Christianity, neo-paganism, pagan reconstructionism, Wicca, shamanism… name it; I’ve at least looked it up on the internet. There will be one or two pieces that speak to me and the rest leaves me cold.

And then I find this:

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really understand myself.
And the fact that I think I am following
Your will does not mean I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope I have the desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the
right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may
seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear for you are ever with me and
you will never leave me to face my troubles alone.

by Thomas Merton

And then I think that maybe someone else heard the music I hear.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Yes, I know it's not Friday (again.)  I guess I consider it an accomplishment if I post a photo a week.  At some point, I might even get the day right.

And anyway, I didn't get these pictures until this morning.  It was a gorgeous summer day here in the Pacific Northwest, and my husband, my sister and brother-in-law and I went out for brunch. 


It is the Rutherglen Mansion, perched on a hill above scenic (not) Longview, WA.  The building is lovely, the view is spectacular (if you ignore the mill at the bottom of the hill) and the food is really very good.  Not to mention the bottomless mimosas...


That last entry triggered some other memories of summers gone by. And it sort of grew like Topsy. This one sort of looks like the first chapter of War and Peace but, there was no good place to break it up.

Dad worked for Pope and Talbot as a logger and mom ran the house. Part of running the house meant ensuring that there was food in the pantry during the winter. My folks bought two things right after they got married. One was a sewing machine and the other was a pressure cooker. We still have the pressure cooker and it still works.

In a small logging town, actually any small town of the times, that meant keeping track of the garden, canning the produce and keeping an eye on the toddler (me) while you were doing it. Later, as sisters got added to the mix I got drafted into toddler watching duty along with mom. But it wasn’t all work. There was time to read. There was time to check out the dry creek bed down the street. When we moved to another place there was a culvert that ran under the rail road tracks across the street that just beckoned the imagination. There were also plenty of trips to the park at the other end of town on those hot summer afternoons. Oh, and television. Yeah, we had TV. Two channels, black and white, and if it blew a tube between paychecks it might not get replaced for a week or three. Imagine the horror these days. LOL

What we didn’t grow ourselves meant a drive into Eugene/Springfield and trips to the local orchards. The usual shopping list included corn, cabbage, cucumbers, apples, cherries, peaches and pears. The really good thing is that these don’t come on all at once. Cherries first, then peaches and pears, and apples anytime from August to November.

Funny, now that I think of it, they go in order of ease of processing. All you have to do is stem and wash the cherries. And they are canned pits and all. Peaches are scald, slice, pit and can. Pears are the hardest. Those little beggers are slippery. Apples will keep a couple of months if you keep them in a cool place. Oh, and fruit you can just do a half hour in a hot water bath. Pressure peaches and you get sauce. It still can behot and steamy work even if you aren’t keeping a weather eye on the pressure gauge.

And the corn, oh the corn. That was a trip. You blanch the corn in boiling water and then you cut it off the cob, pack it with a little salt and process it. We finally got smart and just moved the whole operation out into the driveway. We took the cutting operation outside because it’s a lot easier to hose down a driveway than get all those little corny bits out from under the cupboards. Corn flies.

The cabbage went for sauerkraut. That was usually the last up because the gal we bought the cabbage from wouldn’t sell kraut cabbage until after the first cold snap. Claimed the cabbage made better kraut that way. And who were we to argue. We may still have the kraut cutter. It looks like a washboard with blades.

The cukes went for pickles. I used a fork to poke holes in more cucumbers than I want to think about.

 And did I mention that the garden in Oakridge included strawberries, raspberries and boysenberries. They all went into the freezer or the jars. The neighbor kids were welcome to sample as long as they ate the ripe ones and didn’t mess with the green ones. About ninety percent of the time the kids went along with it. That’s good odds anytime. And there was always someplace around the edge of town where you could pick blackberries. With luck more berries went into the buckets than into us. They went into the larder, too.

There was a method to our madness. Once word got round in the family that we made good kraut, pickles, jams etc. guess what got passed around at Christmas? If all else fails, give goodies.

Some years when times were good in the summer the folks would order a quarter of beef. That’s literally one quarter of a steer folks. There isn’t a lot of steak on a quarter of beef but I don’t remember eating a lot of hamburger when we were kids. I think the tough cuts ended up being trimmed, cubed and canned.

You want tedious? Try nursemaiding a canner full of meat. Two hours at ten pounds pressure for each batch. It’s not like you have to watch it like a hawk just make sure it stays above ten pounds. Worth the trouble at the time though. It was fully cooked and ready to use; just open the jar.  And most important, it was there in the winter when the budget was usually pretty tight.

 Dad had coworkers who’d go to the coast in season and come home with a limit of salmon or other fish. Into the jars it went.

Oh, and the freezer was a full size <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Kenmore chest style freezer from Sears. Now that I think about it, just about every appliance came from Sears.  That monstrosity was about three years younger than me and it was huge. It was really something when I could finally get into the darn thing without having to use a chair, much less get at the stuff on the bottom without standing on my head.. It was big, clunky, and defrosting it was an all day operation.

Not that you spent all day on that job. We chipped, pried, wiped and dried between doing other things. I was in my mid forties before that sucker gave up the ghost. Something necessary finally crapped out and we couldn’t get parts for it. Heck, by then my sisters were married, raising their own families and we didn’t need something that big anyway. But, for heavens’ sake never give up on something while it’s still running.

I don’t want to make things sound better than they were. We didn’t get a dryer until Roberta (middle sister) was nearly out of diapers. That means the laundry got hung out winter or summer, sunshine or clouds. If it wasn’t quite dry, it got hung over chair backs and the like until was. If it was too wet it got hung on a laundry rack by the stove. Try drying heavy duty work jeans on a laundry rack. It takes awhile. I think we finally replaced the wringer washer when we moved back to Springfield when I graduated from high school.

There were times when dad’s clothes were so muddy mom had to hang them on the line and wash them down with hose before she could wash them. A fun job in the middle of winter.

Logging is not a life for a man going into middle age. It’s a life that wears you out, and it does it fast. If and when there were discussions about tight finances or fears for the future; and I know there were; they didn’t happen where we could hear them. Nature finally took any decisions or fears out of our hands when one of his knees went out. We moved back to Springfield, dad ended up on disability and mom ended up cooking for other peoples’ kids in a dorm kitchen at the U of O. I’m sure there were times when my sisters’ weren’t sure if I was their big sister or a substitute mom. Somehow we managed to get through it all.  We weren’t always smiling about it, but we did manage.

It isn’t and wasn’t a perfect life. It was just… And it has never been boring. And if you were bored? You didn’t say anything where mom could hear you. She had sure fire cures for boredom. LOL Now that I think about it, she still has cures for boredom.

Saturday, July 19, 2008



May the wind always be at your back
May the sun rise to meet you
May money jingle in your pockets
May your OP system never crash
May your good times exceed your bad
May your peace out weigh your fear
May you know the surety of friendships
May the pureness of being a woman be a joy

May this year be the best

Happy life to you!

I love you.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Photo from a Long Lost Woman

Hey everyone...

I don't know where the last couple of weeks have gone.  I've been around....kinda.  I've been aware that I was missing everything that was going on here but I haven't been able to gather the concentration to read much of anything online.  I know this is a manifestation of the depression I'm currently wrestling with.  I have tons to do and I'm getting the most important things done.  But everything that is "discretionary" is lost in a fog.

I have one standout experience to share from the past weekend.  We attended The Great South Bay Music Festival here on Long Island.  It's a bit of a hippie fest...lots of jam music and tie dye.  We heard a lot of terrific music...many bands covering Grateful Dead favorites. It was a dancing crowd.

I took some photos of the headline act...Mickey Hart (Grateful Dead drummer) with Steve Kimmock.  It was an awesome show.   Kimmock has toured with both The Dead and (my favorite) Bruce Hornsby.  It was just one of those magic "take me away" perfomances.

I had reasonable success shooting during the show considering I couldn't get NEAR the stage and most of the crowd was on it's feet.  I kept having to dodge swaying heads and arms.  Kimmock made it challenging wearing that hat.  His face was almost always in shadow.  This is probably the best of the batch. it's time for me to get caught up on everything I've been missing here.

Friday Photo

 The sundrise last Sunday over the Kennebec, Gardiner, ME.


 A walk in the woods -- Maine.


 Wildflowers and a peek at the lake.

 A carry in boat public access area.

 For years this area was for trailered boats but the DEP has restricted the use of motorized in this area due to an endangered species:   The Black Tern.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cry Me A River

So.  Susan Atkins was denied a 'compassionate release' from prison.

Cry me a river.   I'm struggling to understand why 'there was no basis for this denial' according to one of her attorneys.

Really?  Murdering, or rather, stabbing to death, an eight and one-half month pregnant woman is ... forgivable after forty years? 

Uh.  No.  It isn't.  Although I'm sure her attorneys want to cry foul, that the parole board is in over their collective heads or didn't want to 'handle this hot potato' ... I'm fairly certain they [the parole board] got it right.

I don't feel an iota of sorry for Susan Atkins.  Or her husband.  I'm fairly certain that Sharon Tate would love to be alive today, spending time with her grown child or children.  I'm fairly certain that Sharon Tate would want to be alive even if she was paralyzed on one side ... and suffering brain cancer, because, if even if she were now on her deathbed with only a few months to live ... she at least would have lived her life.

Call me cold-hearted, heartless, mean.  Susan Atkins is right where she belongs.  If the family wants privacy to say their goodbyes, let them do so in the hospital or prison infirmary.  Susan will be getting more than she deserves.

The State of California will spend more money to defend the current life without parole prison sentence handed down to Susan Atkins and the parole board's denial ... yet another great waste of time and money.

Next Day:  I've been reflecting on this post since I clicked the 'save' icon.  The thought has crossed my mind that mperhaps I am too harsh, or maybe I'm not seeing the entire picture. 

But here's what gets me ... what difference does a compassionate release make to her [SA]?  She is in hospital now.  It's not likely she'll return to her prison cell if her condition is as grave as it is portrayed ... isn't she already released?  Sharon Tate'slast living relative holds Sharon and the memory of that unborn baby close to her heart and continues to live with the tragic and horrendous memories of Sharon's death ... I think a compassionate release would make a large difference in her life. 



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On the Obama/New Yorker Flap

So I guess we’ve all heard the flap about the Obama cartoon on the cover of The New Yorker. 

My first thought when the cartoon was described to me (I only just saw it for myself this morning) was that the GOP submarine machine must have paid someone some important money to create and publish something so abhorrent and out of line on the cover of a national magazine.  It appeared to be a sly, sophisticated, almost subliminal form of “Swift-Boating”—a political weapon invented and honed by Karl Rove (although I’m sure you’ll never hear him take the blame—I  mean credit—for the maneuver…)

But something doesn’t quite ring “Right Wingnut” about this New Yorker thing.  It’s too sophisticated.  No doubt the Republican smear-meisters would love to have thought of it; and they’re secretly thanking someone for all the mileage they’ll be getting out of it.  But their thought processes just don’t tend toward the subtle.  They’re much more about in-your-face pandering to the not-so-secret prejudices and fears of the American Everyman.

No, I’m thinking this is a case of the uber-educated left wing having their heads so high in the stratosphere of sophisticated humor that they have left the planet upon which the other 99.99% of Americans reside.  They seem unaware that in this age of You-tube and sound-bytes, all most people are going to absorb of this oh-so-witty satirical cartoon  is an image of Barack Obama in Muslim garb on the cover of a national magazine.  Even I thought, at first, that the kind of people who read the New Yorker would not be likely to miss the point, so how much harm could it do? 

But, here’s the thing.  Joe Hayseed may live out in the back of beyond, but he has a computer and an internet connection, by golly.  Satire, sarcasm, tongue-in-cheek?  They are completely lost on him.  Why else does he base his political beliefs on the gospel according to Rush Limbaugh?   And I can just picture him, yesterday, pointing to his monitor and crowing, “See Martha?  I told ya he was one o’ them Muslims.  I told ya!”

So the New Yorkers editors poke their heads out of the portholes of the Starship Mensa, look down their noses upon the unwashed masses and huff, “Tsk!  It was a joke!”

Sorry guys.  Any idiot knows that a joke isn’t funny if you have to explain it.        


Too bad there isn't a mood entry for "totally pissed off."

Phil Gramm, former senator from Texas, 

1. Worked like a good little beaver to rewrite the banking laws    to breach the firewalls between separate types financial institutions

2.  Tried to help deregulate the power industry leading to the Enron meltdown

3. Left the senate for a cushy job with Switzerlands' biggest bank

4. Was, and maybe still is, John McCain's point man on the economic matters and

5. When all the vultures come home to roost tells us the problems are all in our heads and we're a nation of "whiners."

WTF is wrong with this picture?

And the bail out for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is attached to a housing bill with block grants to help people facing foreclosure and the current occupant doesn't approve of block grants so he's threatening to veto it. The man is the lamest of ducks but he can still blow up the bridge in front of the out of control train. Who needs Bin Laden to wreck the country when we're doing such a great job of cutting ourselves off at the hips.

Hold the damn election next Monday. Certify the winner on Tuesday or ASAP considering possible electoral college questions and swear the winner in the day after.


Monday, July 14, 2008


At least part of it.

It’s finally summer in the southern Willamette Valley. Boy, is it summer. The couple of years we get to oh, say the middle to end of June and the universe flips a switch. After a long, cloudy spring where we were lucky to hit seventy degrees we can’t get below eighty.

The garden is going absolutely freakin’ crazy. One day the radishes were great, two days later it was “fire in the hole.” Bye, bye radishes, hello compost. The lettuce, spinach, and chard are all growing together in one great, green square. The onions are past the little green onion stage and well onto the “take me to your leader size.” By the way, spinach, chard onions and mushrooms are really good steamed together. 

The bean vines have grown three feet in two weeks. Well, maybe not that much, but it sure looks that way when the vines reach the top of the strings and start waving at you. We should have beans before the end of the month.

At least with our own beans we won’t be faced with canning twenty five pounds at once. Having them on the shelf is great. But, trying to do them all at once is a real stretch. It’s not the canning; it’s the processing. Wash, put in jars, add a little salt, add hot water, put on the lids, repeat.  That’s fairly easy if a little messy in a small kitchen. It’s the processing after they’re in the jars that takes time. Beans take one half hour at ten pounds pressure and the canner holds nine pints at a time.

Twenty five pounds will yield about forty to forty five pints and you can figure about an hour per batch. Because when you’re done timing them you can’t just open the lid. Youcan do other things, just don’t leave home and keep an eye on the pressure gauge. Chick flicks are probably out, catching up with the laundry is in. Working on that carefully researched journal entry probably won’t be a good idea; organizing your e-mail for future reference should be safe.

Half an hour at a temp that’s just a hair too high can yield “impressive” pressure results before that thirty minutes is up. And when the thirty minutes is up you have to let them cool to below two pounds of pressure before you pull them out. It sounds worse than it is, really. I’ve been doing this What you have when you’re done is so much better than the commercially processed beans that it’s well worth the trouble.

I know it sounds messy, sweaty and a little complicated. The thing is I don’t remember learning these things. I suspect I absorbed it by osmosis before I was old enough to really realize what was going on. I don’t remember learning how to snip beans. Note: unless you’re really into arty canning and keep the bean whole; you have to snip off the stem end, the pointy end and break them into three or four pieces so it’s easy to put them in the jars.

I suspect that for mom it ran along the lines of: small child (me) is curious about what you’re doing? Let her pull a few beans out of the bowl with her slightly grubby little hands. With luck she’ll copy what you’re doing and more beans will end up in the bowl than in the kid. And don’t worry about kid germs; they get washedbefore they go in the jars and ten pounds of pressure will take care of just about anything.

We have a mutant strawberry tomato bush that I swear is trying to take over the south end of the garden. Frankenvine was less than a foot tall and one stem when mom planted it. It’s now two by four……feet. We trimmed back some of the vines yesterday and it was like “ok, where do I start?” We’ll probably get far more thanwe can eat fresh and I’m thinking “bring on the mason jars.” It least we won’t have to chop them before they go in the jars. The three Roma vines are doing very well, if they can just be rescued from their over enthusiastic neighbor. And most of the Romas will probably end up as diced tomatoes too. If we get that kind again it’ll probably be given it’s very own corner of the garden. And it’ll probably die of loneliness. Hmm, I may have to rethink that.

For what you can’t grow. A side trip of say twenty minutes north of town with get you this.

Six of the twelve quarts of dark cherries we put up. And we use everything but the pits. Save the juice when you serve the fruit next winter, add unflavored gelatin and you get something that doesn't taste anything like "black cherry jello."

If we’d had the time we could have knocked about thirty cents a pound by picking our own. Even with the full price I suspect the end result is about the same for cost. And I know what went into these and where they came from. The fruit was in the jars before five and the cherries were still damp and cool from early morning when I stemmed them out.

And I didn’t take pictures but there’s about fifteen pints of blueberries in the freezer from the same trip. We have blueberry bushes but they don’t yield enough to keep up with us. We’ll freeze what we don’t eat from our own bushes, but between baking and just plain eating them we’ll probably be out by the time the new season rolls around.

I think I went back to work this morning to get some rest. LOL



Sunday, July 13, 2008

Next Friday's Photo?

I didn't post a picture at all this past Friday, so now here's another Sunday photo to make up for it.  Or just in case I get too busy to post next  Friday...

A sort of silly picture of my dog and my flowers...

Photo Fr... uh.... Sunday

I've been spending some time in my garden the past few weeks.  It's been such a great, restorative event for me.  Last year, what with craziness at the cafe and the fact that we were having work done on the house, the yard got completely ignored.  And I hated that.  I love my plants.  Even when I have only about two extra seconds to rub together at the end of an exhausting day, I will go out to my yard.  I may not have energy to do more than just sit and listen to the birds...but that's enough.

This is a picture I first posted in my private journal several years ago.  It's a "artsy" treatment of a photo of one of my favorite plants--fuchsias.  Even though it's an old picture, it says a lot about where I am--where I love to be--right now.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Yes, the Friday photos are a day late, but I hadn't taken the pictures until this morning. So, I'm either a day late or a week early.


I honestly thought these purple cone flowers didn't make it through the winter. None of the others we planted last summer did. Note: we've had this one for several years and it's been moved more than once. So, either I forgot exactly where this one was, or it did the natural division process and the new half came back like gang busters. There are at least three dozen blossoms on this plant ranging from almost full bloom to a gleam in Mother Nature's eye.

Warning: spider alert.

Granted, it's not much of a spider. I was out early this morning. The sun was just starting to move into the yard and the "neighbors" hadn't started to wake up yet.

Including this little yellow lady bug type visitor. I love coneflowers as much for the "cones" as the petals. Get me in the right mood and I could stare at the patterns in the center until I'm almost hypnotized. Granted I wasn't quite awake yet. It was just a little after six when the did it's famous boot imitation. LOL

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hi-jack An E-mail Address Today

E-Mail Address -- Hi-jacked?

This morning I woke to a very busy day.  Between work, helping Emily pack for camp and having to write those checks that I chose not to write last night, well, my brain is full.

I signed on to AOL and looky here girl!  There is an e-mail from myself (at mutualaide@****)  In the subject line is ;   Fakir(11:51:20 07-07-07), mutualaide@****

Well.  Now I'm sitting here looking at this, knowing full well this is not an e-mail from me on nor is it an e-mail from me on just plain aol .... so what the heck is it?

Of course it's SPAM.  So now what do I do?  Delete it?  Report it?  If I report it am I reporting myself?  How the heck do I report it without just sending it off in to AOL's non-brainiest thinkers room where they will just assume my screen name is some vagabond, errant hi-jackerGrrrr.

So, I needed to open it.  With fingers crossed I opened the darn thing and there is a link to 'her' and the fun we will have if I go to visit.  :::sigh::: What!?  Is she going to take me on an all expense paid trip to Hawaii, Paris, Austria?  I don't think so.  And I don't think she's going to sit with me and pay bills -- which would surely be a fun thing to do.  Maybe we'll shop for a new car? 

I'm sort of wondering if any of you have been getting lots of SPAM lately, because I sure have.  At least ten to twenty a day ... usually all of them are in the SPAM folder, but it's somewhat frustrating.  What with AOL's spy ware and virus protection and all that publicity a couple of years back about how they go after spammers

Maybe they don't any more?  Maybe that SPAM folder in the mail room here doesn't even go anywhere.  Eventually you have to delete the SPAM ... so does AOL actually get it [the spam] reported to them?

Well.  Just so you know folks, I am not sending out any SPAM to anyone.  And I am really po'd that I have to worry about this.  I've had this screen name since AOL was pay-by-the-minute and I don't want to have to give it up or think up a new one.  I sure as heck don't want AOL to block me or take it away!  Or whatever the great SPAM gods do. Geesh.

I'm probably worried for nothing, but still.

This is exactly why I ask people to not forward things to me.  I ask people to copy the body of the e-mail, pop it into a new e-mail and send it along.  I ask everyone to please not include my e-mail address in a long line of e-mails being sent out. 

I know you can't protect your e-mail address or screen name 100% of the time.  But I try fairly diligently.

No matter how much I like you, if you forward something to me, I'm not going to open it -- like I did yesterday. 


cross posted on Life On Flamingo Row

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Two Down, Seven To Go

Look who showed up at the back door of the café this evening.

Complete with a few bald spots, a distinct limp, and a healthy fear of automobiles….

There was hardly a dry eye among the crew.

Of course, this kind of holds a gun to my head to decide what I am going to do now. 

Because I swear to god, I’m not going to let that cat wander the neighborhood until the next bad thing happens to her.  I have no intention of coming to work and scraping her off the pavement some morning.

I’m thinking very hard about what my next step should be.

Friday Photo A Week Late And A Day Early

My photos for last Friday ...

  Ipswich River @ Farnsworth Landing, Middleton MA.  This is a small picnic and canoe launch area that my daughter and I frequent for picnic type lunches.  The river runs under an undivided state highway, Route 114 and the parking lot is off the highway.  Once out of the car and sitting at a picnic table overlooking the river we don't even notice the noise of the traffic.  It's amazing how peaceful this little spot is.

 One of the many aquatic plants that grow here.  I have no idea the name of this one, but it is lovely.

 Evening primrose growing against the fence.


Three Photos A Day Early For Photo Friday

 This bud is on a miniature rose bush purchased at Walmart last fall.  It, and the following bush were on a clearance shelf for $1.66. 

 We had no idea the colors or if they would survive the winter.  I left them in their little plastic containers and placed them in a corner of the protected garden.  Lo and Behold!  Here they are transplanted this spring into large pots and thriving on our front stoop.

 I don't know the name of this butterfly, but I thought it interesting how well he (or she) matches the marigolds.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Well sixty/forty for the holiday weekend. Didn’t get out of Dodge, but did get a lot done in the garden. Didn’t get out of Dodge because we had unexpected company. Sis and her family came over from Umatilla for the last couple days of the track and field trials. That is, the guys came over for the track meet, sis came over to do some connecting. Honestly, I think she was checking for sure that mom was doing ok. And yes, mom is doing really well. At this point about all she can’t do is sign her name on a check and use a can opener We don’t get to see any of them nearly as often as we would like and any excuse to get them over here is a blessing.


Made to two trips for new plants. Partly because my bright ideas needed some fine tuning. Got home with what we'd bought and well, they just didn't work with what I had. And then when I went back I fell in love with something else too. At least this time I got enough the first time around.



I didn't think to take a picture when I started. There used to be a couple of very homely nandinas in that empty space.



I know, I know they look pretty small right now. The one in the back is purple fountain grass. It could get as tall as five feet tall plumes included. The littler guys are a smaller grass known at golden toupee. The should get about a foot tall, plumes included. It should look a lot lighter and more interesting than the extremely boring nandinas I took out.



Two very nice lavenders, you can almost tell the difference between the two. The shades of the two bueshes are just about three shades apart. The yellow shrub in from goes well with the light purple lavender.



More work on the front side. The grass is called Elijah Blue. It's about as big it's going to get. There will be plumes later. The lighter clumps are a rock cress with variegated leaves. There will be flowers in the spring, but to be honest I'm not sure what color they will be. It'll be a surprise.



A close up of the little pink one in the corner. The latin name is Rhodohypoxis. Damned if I know what it means. But the plant originates from South Africa and is very popular in Europe. The are a lovely little plant and I hope they do well in their new home. I just fell in love with them at the nursery. They were totally unplanned, but they sure are pretty.


I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to go north to see a good friend, so the weekend was about eighty percent successful. But, the summer ain't over yet.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

my own independence

I read Lisa's post and wrote my own post on my own blog about buying a new car...the second new car I've purchased in my life...and what I really should be doing right now is shopping for car insurance, and re-evaluating my existing car insurance, on my old car and the car my son occasionally drives. 

But I've been avoiding doing that.  I was so wiped out by shopping for and negotiating the price of my new car that my back, neck and shoulders are all stiff.  It's overwhelming, sometimes, to try to figure out all this stuff by myself.  I came home on Saturday night, having negotiated fairly well, overall, on the price of the least I think I did.  I didn't negotiate from invoice price, but from MSRP...Kath says that's a mistake, because you're starting too high (and she's a buyer of electronics for an internet site, so she knows about these things)...but she conceded that the inexpensive car I bought is so in demand, that this might not have applied.  It's funny, I hate haggling.  I'd almost rather pay more than have to argue about money.  In this case, I was tired and that worked in my favor.  Every time the dealership added something on to what I'd decided I would pay, I'd just say, "OK, sell it for that to someone else, but I'm not paying for that" and they'd back down.  In the end, to my amazement, I even got them to agree to do keyless entry for me, a several hundred dollar option, at no additional cost, simply because I said I wouldn't take the car without it, but if they threw it in I'd buy it, so they did.  Wow.  I had no idea. 

But the whole thing left me feeling exhausted and sort of...dirty.  Suze Orman could tell me a thing or two about that, I'm sure.  Anyway, I bought the car, and it's what I need, and it's in my price range, and I negotiated why do I feel empty?  And that the last thing I want to do is get insurance quotes?  I'm 58 years old, and although my mom always worked to support us (so I wasn't raised with the idea of a white knight coming to my rescue), still, in most ways my mom was quite traditional.  She was astonished that I had power tools and not only knew how to use them, but enjoyed using them.  Mom ironed; Dad fixed things.  When I got married, in some ways the division of labor was more equal than in my parent's marriage...but in many other ways, it was equally traditional.  When I was married, my husband supported us, and he gave me a very small allowance with which I had to make do.  Although he was a lawyer, he was in private practice and did lots of pro bono work, so we never had much money, and most of the time we were married, we didn't even have health insurance.  In the end, I felt that I was living under his thumb, and I had to get out. 

I got a job, got divorced, began finding my way by myself...and I'm doing OK.  But sometimes, like this weekend, when I needed to buy a new car...or last fall, when I decided to refinance my house...I just wish there was someone with whom I could meaningfully discuss this stuff.  Well, I guess I wish for more than that...I could probably meaningfully discuss this stuff with a financial advisor (I don't have one) or a therapist (don't have one of those, either).  No, what I'd like, at times, is a partner...someone besides myself to worry about landscaping the backyard or redoing the siding...someone with whom I could share a glass of wine or a beer or a cup of coffee or ice tea as we kicked back and discussed these things...and someone to curl up with and talk with at night, before falling asleep...someone to share happiness with, as well as worries...

But then again, I dunno.  I've become so independent in the 8 years since I've been divorced...I don't know if I'm fit to live with anyone anymore...but sometimes, when I get overwhelmed, I find myself thinking about it...

Friday, July 4, 2008

On the Glorious Fourth

Main Entry: pa·tri·ot·ism

Pronunciation: \ˈpā-trē-ə-ˌti-zəm

Function: noun

Date: circa 1726

: love for or devotion to one's country

Today is Independence Day.  The day we Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence—our first step toward becoming a sovereign nation.  Not a difficult thing to celebrate.  Our founding fathers were a brilliant, driven group of men.  They had it in their heads to wrestle their freedoms out of the hands of an absentee monarchy and command their own ship of state.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness..”.

The semantics of the thing bother me a bit...  Our founding fathers called themselves patriots.  Oh, yes…they were devoted to their country—the country they were attempting to create.  Their actual country was Great Britain, from which they were bent upon separating themselves.   So, they weren’t, in the literal sense of the word, patriots, were they?  Rebels? Yes.  Revolutionaries?  Definitely.  But patriots?   Not so much.  Had they been patriots, they would have done anything—up to and including laying down their lives—to make sure that the colonies remained a loyal extension of the British Empire. 

Still, it was a logical and progressive thing to do, to throw off the chains of an obsolete, distant government—one which was unfamiliar with and often contemptuous of the special needs of its subjects settled halfway across the globe for more than a century.  It made much more sense to create a seat of government for this land on thisside of the Atlantic.  Yet, even considering these things, it was a difficult and eventually a bloody undertaking. 

The patriots won us our independence, put us on the road to becoming the country we are today.  We bought our independence with blood, we bled to keep it.  Our willingness to spill blood—both ours and others’—took us from sea to shining sea, and it nearly tore us in half.  A hundred or two hundred years ago, it was necessary to pour out blood to preserve and protect the freedoms our founding fathers spelled out in The Declaration.  There were plenty of forces in the world for whom success of a nation which trusted the people to chose their leaders and form their government was a dire threat.  We needed patriots who were willing to fight and die for that freedom.  We needed the concept of patriotism to flourish far and wide in the land, in order for the people to stand behind, and continue to fund and send forth, those soldiers and sailors charged with the protection of our freedoms.

But here in twenty-first century America, “patriotism” has largely lost its purity of purpose.  We don’t use the word to describe an abiding love and concern for our country and its revolutionary concepts of freedom and government by the people.  We use it to defend indefensible acts—like our president choosing to invade and destroy another country simply because he could. Acts like waterboarding and other forms of torture.  Acts like not prosecuting a private citizen in Texas for grabbing his trusty shotgun and killing two men who broke into his neighbor’s empty home.

We use the word as a weapon of fear and hatred.  We throw it in the faces of those who disagree with our personal politics.  We use it to measure the worth of the guy next door, and he generally comes up wanting.   I have never lived through darker days than the tenure of our current commander-in-chief, days when people actually feared to utter criticism of our government and the direction it took us in the aftermath of 9/11.  One stunning attack on our homeland was enough to cause us to renege on the freedom for which so many patriots had fought and died on so many battlefields.   “We’re afraid!” we cried.  “Protect us and you can take our freedoms.”   And the administration was happy to oblige.  Surely patriots were spinning in their flag-adorned graves…

So who can blame me, now, if I hesitate to snatch up the banner of “patriotism” and wave it over my head today?  It looks like something that fell out of Pandora’s box.  It’s ragged and putrid and covered with blood.  Yet, I should shove it under my neighbor’s nose and growl, “Love it or leave?”

I love this country.  I love her diversity, I love her beauty, I love what she still  stands for, in most of our hearts, despite the direction in which she has been dragged for the past several years.  I love that she has been a noble force in the world, and she can be again.  I love that there is still hope in our hearts that the next administration to whom we entrust the wheel of the ship of state can steer her gently but confidently back toward her original worthy course.

And I love that, because of the freedoms for which American patriots have fought and died for centuries, I can declare that I’ll take a pass on waving the beaten-up scrap that passes for patriotism today…until the shining banner of the genuine article is available once again.