Tuesday, April 27, 2010


A little background first. Sarah Palin blew into Eugene last Friday to speak at a Republican fund raiser. Attendees were searched before entering to make sure they didn’t have cell phones, cameras or recording devices. The media were confined a separate room and weren’t allowed access to her speech. Any questions from those in attendance had to be submitted ahead of time for pre screening. Her reported take from the gate? A cool $75.000. It’s reported that the party, not Palin paid for first class plane tickets and first class accommodations during her stay.

Ever read a letter to the editor in the paper that leaves you wondering WTF? We’ve got one of these in the local paper today. And I quote in part:

…Why do so many “tolerant” liberals hate Sarah Palin, especially those of the female persuasion? Here’s a little test you can do to make this phenomenon quite easy to understand. Take a photograph, any photograph, of Sarah Palin and put it in front of you. Then take a photograph of a liberal woman, any liberal woman, and put it beside the first picture.

OK? Got it? I rest my case?

John Wilson/Veneta

I’m still trying to decide if this letter is really a joke in disguise. It’s not like liberals or conservatives have a big “L” or “C” tattooed on our foreheads to tell us apart.

So where to start? I haven’t met anyone who actually hates Sarah Palin. I do know there are many people, including me, who question her qualifications to hold any elective office. I suspect that cameras were banned to keep any more pictures of Sarah’s “handy” crib notes. And questions were probably prescreened to avoid any more founding fathers fiascos.

And what would a possible picture collection prove? That she has big hair and a big smile? That she’s younger than Hillary Clinton? I did some Googling and some collages. I don't know who put them together but the pictures of the liberals are tabloid type shots, fairly unattractive. The conservatives look like fairly professional shots. Nice makeup, good lighting etc. Nobody had a "C" or and "L" on their foreheads though. Some folks with too much time on their hands I suspect. And extra memory on their computers that they're willing to waste.

Honest, it really is a coincidence that Sarah is in red and Hillary is in blue. I was looking for shots that were about the same size, lighting and make up.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Facebook :-(

I trust we all remember--though I know I would rather forget--the dark days after 9/11 when our national government turned into something we didn’t recognize. When you actually feared what might happen if you were overheard at a bar or a restaurant criticizing the actions of the Bush Administration. Those days when any even slightly negative comment about the then-President was resoundingly condemned as, at the very least, un-American; and, at worst, actual treason punishable by…god knows what. It was a surreal experience, to be shocked and dismayed at the actions of the government, and to realize that if I reacted publicly, I might well actually be pulled out of my bed in the middle of the night and dragged somewhere for questioning, or worse. This is a nightmare, I thought. This CANNOT be the United States of America.

So now, we have those self-same ideologues who viciously and self-righteously declared the office of the President of the United States worthy of all respect and deference no matter who occupied it, giggling behind their hands and clicking on the “like” button on a Facebook page advocating prayer for the death of President Barack Obama.

Oh. My. God.

Can you imagine, can you just picture, the reaction to such a thing during the Bush years? That Facebook page would have been yanked so fast it would make your head spin. Hell, perhaps Facebook itself would have suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from the ether. And, sure as hell, someone would have been rounded up. Very publicly, with flags waving, bugles blowing and inflammatory rhetoric blaring from any and every conservative podium.


Friday, April 23, 2010


Well the governor of Arizona has signed the toughest immigration bill in the country. She has stated that racial profiling won’t be tolerated. Care to lay odds on how many blond blue eyed Caucasians will be asked to prove they’re in the country legally?

Arizona’s population is approximately forty percent Hispanic. Would we even be having this discussion if the majority of Hispanics voted Republican and/or showed up at Tea Party gatherings?

Under the new law it is also illegal to be in the company of or to transport undocumented people. If part of the family is undocumented and part of the family are citizens appears that it may be illegal for them to be together under this new law. WTF??????

If you aren’t supposed to be in the company of an undocumented person or to transport an undocumented person, how long before you’ll be required to inform the authorities if you suspect someone is not a citizen? Are we getting paranoid yet?

How long before there is a call for the only thing that will make this work: a national ID card complete with check points and immigration sweeps in the non Latino neighborhoods? Sounds extreme doesn't it? But, the stories of helicopters buzzing Latino neighborhoods in Arizona may not be urban legends.

That would really put the cat among the pigeons for the folks that want the illegals out but would scream bloody murder if the elected hired help tried to implement a system that would allow undocumented residents to be easily identified. Now we’re really cookin’ in the paranoia kitchen.

Which brings me to what I believe is the true target of the law: the legal Hispanic residents; potential voters, every one of them. Ok, I’ll admit that maybe I watched too many X Files episodes over the years but come along for the ride.

Arizona allows on line voter registration but you still have to show up at a precinct to vote. (Oregon, your mail in ballots look better all the time) Just imagine the impact if a cop shows up on Election Day and insists on checking the status of all voters who even look Hispanic. Imagine the potential impact if the cop just parks the squad car and looks interested in who is coming and going.

Oh no, that can’t happen here. Yeah, and I’ve got some waterfront party in the middle of Florida for sale. And would we be having this discussion if the migrants had just been satisfied with grunt work farm jobs on the west coast and stayed west of the Mississippi? It's hard enough for some folks to deal with one non white minority group but two? Danger Will Robinson, danger!

Molly Ivins wrote over the years about Texas precincts where the voters would find a squad car parked in front of the building on Election Day. Just a coincidence that it was a precinct with a largely African American population. And remember the stories from 2000, 2004 and 2008. The cops will be at the precinct checking for people with outstanding warrants or unpaid traffic tickets and you just might be arrested if you show up.

Is it just a coincidence that the organizations that work the hardest to LIMIT access for potential voters seem to have ties to the Republican Party? Makes you think doesn’t it?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bullet Point

And for today's cartoon I give you this, by Tom Toles, from The Washington Post.  I am particularly affected, since two days ago in our town a four year old boy found his father's gun, while his nanny was in the house and his two year old brother was sleeping, and accidentally shot himself with it.  He was the third child under six to do this in this town so far this year. It was in an UNLOCKED gunbox and was itself not locked.  How long will we as a country tolerate living like this?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


And this is from a cartoonist with a San Antonio newspaper. In almost all the pictures I've seen of Tea Party gatherings the faces are white,white, white.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dirty Hands And Happy Heart

Hey, where is everyone?  I hope that where everyone is, as often as possible, out in the spring sunshine (sometimes rain) grubbing in the earth.  I know Jackie and Judi are, from their Facebook comments, and I certainly know I am.  Just spent a wonderful couple of hours in the backyard working on a new herb bed. The soil in this yard is execrable, hardly worthy of the name "soil" at all.  So doing anything involves a lot of hacking and digging, and a lot of amending with compost.  So, that's mostly what I've been doing.  Some nepeta is already growing there, a plant that cannot be discouraged.  I began my new planting with a big clump of Mexican oregano that I've had in a pot since last summer.  Because of above-mentioned soil wretchedness, much of my gardening since we moved in here has been done in planters and pots.  With this herb bed I'm hoping to finally get somethings growing in the ground.  As I turn locations into growable places.  

So, my hands are scratched and dirty and I'm hungry as a bear.  Time to clean up and figure out some lunch. A big storm may be blowing in (what?  Again?) from California later in the week, and some more rain would be a delicious serving of lagniappe.  Different of course from a delicious serving of lasagna, which I think I am making for dinner tonight.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Eyes Will Have It

I don't know if spring has been the death of blogging for me, or if I should blame it on Facebook.  Or the Poem A Day Challenge.  Whatever the cause, my impetus to blog has been in serious death throes for a while now.  The end of the term is of course another likely culprit.  Facebook has been a real entertainment, but it's beginning to wane.  Spring calls me out of the house every day until the day gets too hot, to get things cleaned up, weeded, cut back, planted, ad infinitum.  It is so utterly spring here now, the fresh green leaves of the big cottonwood outside the kitchen window greet me every morning and make me smile even before I get the coffee going. The redbud and the lilacs are glorious right now, irises blooming a rich deep purple.  I just cut the remainder of my winter greens, some chard and spinach, for a stirfry tonight.

I won't be able to do much in the garden, at least of the bending, stooping, lifting sort (and what other sort is there?) for a while soon, as the next milestone on my life journey is coming up in two weeks.  I've been procrastinating about an eye doctor visit much too long, but very aware how blurry my vision was becoming.  I thought I just needed new glasses.  But no, I need new eyes. And so, I'm having cataract surgery, both eyes, one eye at a time, the first one on the thirtieth of this month.  Everyone tells me I'll be so happy once it's over, that it's like a miracle, and other exuberant forms of propaganda, but I'm fairly freaked out about it nonetheless.  Any Women On readers who have already been through this - I'd love to hear your experiences.  One of my sisters has had one eye done, and she is in the "it's like a miracle" camp, and she doesn't suffer medical procedures lightly.  I dreamed last night that I found an old pair of glasses in some stuff I was going through, and they were perfect, I could see absolutely clearly and was so happy because it meant I wouldn't need to have the cataracts removed.  Perhaps the glasses stand for the lenses I'll have IN my eyes once it's all over, or perhaps it's just about how nervous I am. (Cross-posted from Quid Nunc?)

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Listen to the tech heads and the marketers. We live in a technological Nirvana and pity the poor souls who had to make do with less. Sometimes we forget that what the technology actually provides isn’t new. It’s either faster, more elaborate, or replaces something we used to do for ourselves. Computers process information in seconds that used to take days or weeks to complete. The global information network allows us to know about earthquakes in Chili or Haiti in minutes; not months or years. Planes allow us to cross the Atlantic in a few hours instead of a few weeks. The Battle of New Orleans is an icon in American history. It was fought after the peace treaty was signed.

Chasing some ancestors through the centuries prompted me to finally crack open some of the history books I’ve been collecting over the years. (The reading list doesn’t seem to get shorter.) Anyway, I stumbled across something low tech, but very effective.

I’m not sure if the English still use the term, but the royal finances used to be managed by the Exchequer. Before the exchequer was an office it was a thing. A tablecloth, actually. A tablecloth with a simple grid painted on it.

I knocked this example together on Photoshop. It's a simplified version of the system in use in the 1100’s in England. It would be at least two hundred years before Roman numerals were replaced by the decimal system we use now. Remember playing with Roman numerals in math class? Remember trying to actually add or subtract with them? Instant insanity.

This sample grid just has spaces hundreds, tens, and ones. When it was time to collect the taxes the court officials would go on circuit and meet with the local justices or sheriffs. The cloth would be laid out where everyone could see what was happening and collections began. Working through the list tokens would be laid out on the cloth. The top row was for what had been assessed. The bottom row represented what was actually paid. You could see at a glance whether the totals matched.

At a time when literacy was at a premium that checked cloth was a way to get the job done in a way everyone could follow and agree on, And the receipt? The final total was notched onto a stick. The stick was split and each side kept half. The clerk who could actually read and write wrote out the final results on parchment and rolled everything together for safekeeping.

It worked; it’s hard to argue with that.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Poem for My Farmville-Obsessed Facebook Friends

When I joined Facebook and started to collect Friends there, I was quite startled by the number of posts that sprang onto my page from such applications as Farmville, Vampire Wars, Fishville, ad infinitum. Really, I was amazed at the amount of time people seem to spend playing these games, tending this real estate, feeding these fish, killing these monsters. Once I discovered that I could automatically hide these application posts, I was much happier.  What I don't know is if I have also hidden anything else these Friends might choose to write or post.  Things I might actually want to read or see. Does anyone know the answer to this quandry?

Anyway, I've been mulling this phenomenon over for several weeks now, continuing to be amazed.  Some of these Friends also blog about their virtual pastimes Down On The Farm, adding to my astonishment. There is evidently a Facebook Group dedicated to the idea that "I Don't Care About Your Farm, or Your Fish, or Your Park, or Your Mafia" and I couldn't agree with it more.  I agree with it so much that today I found myself writing a poem to express this idea a little more kindly (I think), and actually posting it in my Notes.  It's not meant to offend anyone, just to vent a little. So, forgive me if you're a dedicated resident of Farmville, and just know that I'm a crabby old woman who likes to spend at least some of her time in the Real World.

Poem For My Facebook Friends

 Although I love you dearly,
each and every one,
There is something urgent
I feel that I must say:

I do not want your Farmville updates,
Virtual notes on crops and weeds,
chicken surprises,
pretend gifts of colored eggs.

No, I want real chickens,
eggs that I can gather in a basket,
warm, with straw and feces
sticking to their shells.
Please do not be offended,
but the blueberries that I want
will stain my fingers,
make noises falling in the pail,
turn my teeth blue when I
eat them in a cobbler or a pie.

It’s all that I can do to keep
catboxes emptied,
water in the birdbaths,
Suet feeders filled.
Your obsessions are your own,
virtual lambs and ponies,
barns you build in outer space.
So, please then, do not share them
with those of us doing what we can
to turn the living compost,
pull weeds, watch seeds
break through the dirt.
We are waiting for our real
tomatoes to grow round and red
and juicy
here on planet earth.