Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: The Tiger Year in Review

   This has been a Tiger year.  Chinese astrology teaches us that Tiger years bring upheaval, change, havoc,  unrest, and other opportunities for personal growth.
    On the world stage, innumerable earthquakes, the BP oil rig disaster, North Korea on less than best behavior, more problems in Africa, Wikileaks....shall I continue? Naah.
    In my personal circles, there's been at least three deaths from cancer, divergent paths, elders experiencing the ructions of age, too many replacements of electronics and appliances to count, and worst of all, Orion's crossing of the Bridge.
     Through Facebook, I learned that people in all corners of the world have crazy people to deal with. I've joined in the shouts of joy over several births and mourned leavetakings with others, and been mourned with for Orion.
       And also through Facebook, his little sister, Sparkle, found us. This tiny girl with a big heart and bigger brain has some health concerns related to having been a stray and six weeks in a shelter, but as soon as she heals, she'll be coming home. And getting her own Facebook page to boot.
     It makes me cherish what and who's left that much more. Thanks, everyone....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Six Days Before Christmas...

...and I don't really care. Gift certificates will be snagged; perhaps a batch or two of cookies baked. Beyond that, you're on your own, world.
   It's not just a backlash against materialism or a questioning of the religion that I was raised in. Let me back up. To Christmas Eve, 1971.
    My mother fussed over holiday details. The cookies, the dinner, the decorations, all fell into place by December 23, in time for our Christmas Eve gathering.  She stayed up late, fussing with this and that, then rearranging the tinsel on the tree.
    Excitement propelled me downstairs. "What are you doing up?" she asked.
   "Couldn't sleep."
    She smiled, then continued with her fussing.
    I played with one of my new dolls and then noticed that the little hand of the clock pointed to the twelve, and the big one to the one. "Mom, is it Christmas now?"
    "Yes, it is." We hugged and wished each other Merry Christmas, and gazed at her tree. Somehow, I got back to bed and to sleep.
     We didn't know that it would be her last. Six months later, almost to the day, a heart attack claimed her life.
     We lurched into December 1972, staggering around the hole left by her leave taking. Much of it fell to my siblings. Dad unsuccessfully tried to cauterize the raw wounds with Scotch.  An innocent question lead to getting dragged out to the kitchen by my forearms and a lecture about how it was my fault because I'd wanted a bike for my birthday.
    I stayed close to my sister the rest of the night.
    She went back to her apartment. My brother graduated and moved 700 miles away.
    By the time I was in junior high, the Christmas mantle had been dropped on my head. Along with hints that it would disappoint my grandmothers if the house wasn't decorated, and that it was all my fault if my siblings didn't play nice with each other.
    So I tried and tried, and tried some more, to create the perfect holiday and conjure the perfect presents (many of which went to Goodwill) and be the consummate hostess as my mother had been. Too many gatherings featured screaming, the niece and nephew bouncing off the walls, and The Spouse feeling coerced into celebrating a holiday he didn't believe in (we're different ethnic and religious backgrounds).
    A "thank you" would have been nice. An acknowledgement would have been great.  
    Finally, when my niece and nephew grew to the same age I had been when the holidays had been dumped into my lap, something went off in my head. It was unrelated to the kava kava that I popped like chocolate to say calm that year. Wait a goddam minute: when I was their age...
    The Spouse and I bowed out the next year.  We on a short getaway and gave gift cards so people could pick out their own presents. I went into January rash free and much calmer.
    So, my gentle readers, if you need me that day, I'll be here at home with The Spouse. We'll be watching our gift to each other, "The Tudors" complete set. I'll make a nice dinner for the two of us. You'll be fine. So will we.  


Monday, December 13, 2010

We Interrupt Today's Events To Discuss An Ongoing Issue

So you think that you know about poverty? Take this quiz.
I found out that I didn't know as much as I thought I did. Half in Ten has set an ambitious goal of cutting the poverty rate in half by 2020.

  • Numbers are on the rise in the suburbs.
  • The majority are white.
  • The federal poverty line is about $20K, but for an average two-kid two-income family, it takes over $40k to stay solvent.
Please, can you stop to find out what else you can do? Thanks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cables: Are They Making a Comeback?

    Been watching the unfolding saga of the latest WikiLeaks release. Unflattering comments about world leaders? Gracious. Gathering info on UN delegations? Goodness. Tales of Prince Andrew acting like a buffoon? Gasp.  The US has been pressured by the Saudis to take steps against Iran? Well, a bit of surprise there.
    But that the US still uses cables for diplomatic communiques? Now, that's a surprise. Or is it?

  • Despite being low-tech, they're still harder to hack than email, even encrypted ones.
  • The codes in the header provide inviolable proof of where the cable came from and its destination. Each terminal has its own unique code. They are the only electronic communications that stand up international courts because of it. 
  • The financial industry still uses them to transfer money. Shipping companies use them as well.
  • They're still fairly common in remote corners where phone systems can barely support calls, let alone any form of the Internet. It only takes a baud rate of 50 to send one using Telex machines still in operation.
        Emails? They've gone to being mundane and common. Faxes? Nice for hard copies, but a bit utilitarian. But sending a cable evokes an era of mystery and glamour that may be entering its new golden age.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

There's Something About a Royal Wedding

The world economy in tatters.
Voters choosing based on their wallets but without regard to minor issues such as basic human rights.
Nuclear threats.
A royal wedding. 
No, this was 29 years ago. In the eerie way that history repeats itself, we find the world in a precarious place, or at least said place getting more coverage.  
Just as Charles and Di so kindly took everyone's minds off it all for a day (and gave the UK a government hol), William and Kate will be doing said same this coming summer. They plan to scale it back a bit, though. Charles and Camilla in their capacity as civil servants will be footing the bill from their own pocketbooks. 
A bit of glitter makes the world look better, even if for a fleeting moment. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Breaking News on Kilt Protest

Kilt protest info

We Interrupt Today's Events

   It is announced that HRH Prince William and his longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton are (finally) officially engaged. The wedding date will be arranged soon.
    Ok, ok. I know that this is irrelevant to many. In the larger world, we have a death toll of 1,000 in Haiti from a cholera outbreak. I'm waiting on the justice system to go after George W. and Company for his published confession. I'm looking for the link for the group of men who want to show up en masse at airports in kilts to protest the TSA pat downs (posted here as soon as I find it).The smaller world has ongoing issues with eldercare and the day to day challenges of life in these times.
     But, dear God, I need a break. Some watch shows like "Desperate Housewives" or "Grey's Anatomy." Others escape into sci-fi or games. Me? Give me a good slice of historical pie or a story about England's Monarchy. Brew some proper real tea with a splash of milk and let me sit on the sofa with Phillippa Gregory or Alison Weir and I will come back a new woman.
    History teaches us how much things haven't changed. If we were just simply to state the facts (a cholera epidemic is afoot; a puppet leader is getting away with torture; a protest is planned; a prince is to wed a commoner), what century would we be in?
    As we ponder that question, the staff at this blog sends His Highness and Ms. Middleton all the best, and respectfully reminds them that there's enough time to keep Vegas open as an option.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tasks du Jour

Work on Swan and Iris. (will be out before T-day)
Work on bio for one of the NBRAN dogs.
Work on new novel set in the Tudor era.
Work on old novel.

Oh, I'm going to go make a cake.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guess What I'm Not Using My Gift Card For?

    This week, I've been watching the drama unfold over the release of George W.'s book Decision Points. It scares me on so many levels.
     It scares me that he ended up in office to begin with. His ascent and administration does not reflect the America that I was promised in history and civics classes.
     It scares me that that many people would fork over $35 for a book written by him.
     Most of all, it scares me that any publishing company would lower itself in the name of money to commit his words to print. That's as big a crime as anything that he 'fessed up to in this book.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Post Election Wrapup

   Pat Quinn is still governor. Could be worse.  It could be Bill Brady with his Dark Ages attitudes towards women and animals and land owners in the way of his family's real estate. I voted my heart, conscience and wallet for Rich Whitney (G). If those two are the best the Dems and Republicans can cough up, it comes down to keeping the greater evil out of office.
    Mark Kirk (R) won President Obama's old seat. Senator Elect Kirk has shown a lot of creativity with the stories of his military service (ie, awards he won as part of a unit and not as an individual; being deployed places that he wasn't). I hope that he can use his creativity to get us out of the mess we're in on a national level.

Monday, November 1, 2010

T-24 Hours and Counting

   Tomorrow, finally, is election day. Finally. Obviously, I will go vote. There's too much at stake this time.  My duties are to choose a governor, a senator, a US representative, and several county board members.
    It's been a long and silly season. Rich Whitney (G-Governor) wasn't allowed on the televised debates with Gov. Quinn and state Sen. Brady. He instigated a lawsuit against WTTW last week on the grounds of denial of his fair share of air time.
    I hope Mr. Whitney wins his case. I've watched him in interviews. He's been poised. He's not resorted to  mudslinging, just to what he intends to do to serve the state.
    In the clips of the debates between Brady and Quinn, they behaved worse than a couple of first graders fighting over a swing. Neither of them offered any solutions to the state's economy, the biggest issue. Same performance by senate candidates Giannulias and Kirk. Green candidate LeAlan Jones was leveraged out of the televised debates as well. That saddens me. Did you know that he turned down a job in investment banking so that he could be sure that he raised his nephews right? He had guardianship of them and wanted to live up to his obligations.
    Over the last few months, I've struggled where to place my vote. I know I certainly don't want Brady in there.  Kirk and his works of fiction have turned me off to no end. Quinn's not done very much. Following you heart is a catch phrase used with alarming frequency these days. In this case, where will it take me if I vote with it?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Want My Vote, Honey? Here's What You Do

1. Demonstrate compassion for humanity.
2. Tell me in your ads what you'll do for me and how. Don't just sit there while you spout off about your opponent's douchebag behavior or how you'll represent your special interests. Give me some solid reasons.
3. Behave like a grownup during debates. You will get your turn. You will not get my vote if you interrupt your learned opponent or if you descend to the level of first grade insults. I saw some of the debates between Alexi Giannoulis and Mark Kirk. What part of "grow up" do you not understand?

Do that, and you have me. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So What's a Media Maven To Do?

   Oh, you read the rant about news? Thanks for reading this, too. 
    Now you know why I stopped donating to WTTW in Chicago some years ago. Their program/arts/culture guide ran a review of a restaurant that featured live sushi. Said reviewer acted as if it were funny to eat a not-dead-yet fish while it took its last breaths in front of the diners. No. And no, I will not send money to any organization that appears to exist for the sole purpose of raising funds for itself. 
   While I'm not thrilled with some NPR sponsors, I contribute to Northern Public Radio, the mother ship for WNIU (one day pledge drives) and WNIJ from Northern Illinois University. That way I can keep NPR and classical on the air. And in the interest of naming names, I don't deal with WBEZ's calls for money at 10 p.m.  Oh, and WDCB for the jazz and folk(and limiting fundraising to twice a year).
    Outlets I'm happy with:
  • Pam's House Blend has great coverage of human rights and news feeds to other stories of interest.
  • Common Dreams is completely free of ads and has links to like-minded sites
  • International news from France 24, BBC and Al-Jazzera on line and on MHZ networks.
    Real news is only a click away.

Is There Any Such Thing as a Free Press Anymore?

    I'm wondering this after this morning's news cruise.
    Over at Common Dreams this morning, there's an article on FAIR's analysis of PBS programming. To no one's surprise and much to my sorrow, FAIR determined that most of the news sponsorship was corporate (gasp) with emphasis on defense contractors and big ag; that there was a noted lack of diversity (horrors); and that much of the pledge drive programming consists of infomericials for self-help gurus. How that's different from the other networks is beyond me.
     Maybe constitutionally, we have a free press. ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox are free to report on whatever their sponsors will let them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

If Only We Could Get People In Charge To Be This Creative

    CNN reported this. A guy in a grass suit who was busted by a police dog. Just read the article.
    How would the world be different? No telling, but I'm sure that it wouldn't be any more stuck than it is.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Just In: DADT Finally Freaking Ruled Unconstitutional

      The BBC reports what so many of us have known or felt all along: Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge. Citing violations of the 5th Amendment ( against self-incrimination) and the risk to national security presented by the divisiveness of the policy, it's been halted.
      And please, God, let it not be appealed. President Obama has been going off about being a fierce ally of the LGBTQ community. This is his chance to prove it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What Brings You Joy?

    Some years ago, I participated in a journal group, five or six women at its core, with friends popping in and out. "What brings you joy?" was the usual greeting of one of them.
     It stopped me cold in the tracks of many a bitch and moan fest. Not "How are you?" with the socially conventional, "Oh, fine. And you?" when I was aware that I'd chewed a new hole in my bite guard (I grind my teeth in my sleep.  Feel free to report me to "TMZ.")  And stood poised to chant the litany of what had triggered it.
    On to this past weekend. I couldn't watch the news--humanity has collectively lost it. The Spouse did some technological upgrading around the house. His mom is back in the hospital after falling for the second time in a month. What's bringing you joy? echoed from some deep recess of my memory.
     Well, there's the flowers the The Spouse bestowed on me for my birthday, and the cake. We went for a hike and out for a good dinner. I found the Dali Lama's website. The weather was great. Today is Eleanor Roosevelt's birthday. My tea is just right.
     So what's bringing you joy today?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Notes from Behind the Love Seat

   Originally I was going to write about how the world has gone totally insane. Then I realized that it already nuts, making my views redundant.
    It's not even noon as I tap away. So far, there's a high ranking appointee by the governor of Indiana who was busted in a men's room for exposing himself and encouraging an undercover cop to touch him. ( Of course he's a Republican family values supporter.
     I'm waiting on word about the case before the SCOTUS, the one concerning the (protect your keyboards) Westboro Cult Baptist Church. You know, the good people who show up at kids' events and other churches with the lovely neon signs to spread Jesus' love by using homophobic slurs and telling passersby that they're going to hell? The ones who attend funerals of soldiers to inform the grieving families that their child's death was God punishing America for tolerating (insert slur here)? Oh, and make up lyrics detailing their...whatever. It is not theology....viewpoints to songs by Lady Gaga and Ozzy Osbourne? Yep. They're being taken to task by the Snyder family for protesting at their son's funeral.  (
     While you're over at Common Dreams, check out the story about the fire department that let a house burn to the ground because the owner hadn't paid the $75 fee.
     As all things do, this cycle of crazy will pass. Won't it? In the mean time, you know where to find me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Heart my Mac

    Steeped in Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott, I envisioned my writing career centered around an antique oak table with pens and writing tablets, perhaps a typewriter. In a garret overlooking a scene that varied from day to day. Sometimes I overlooked a sunny apple orchard on my estate in Vermont. Other times, I found myself watching the cityscape of Manhattan.
    Well, it came to pass that I sit on my green sofa in the family room, looking out over the soybean fields with my Mac on my lap. The romantic idea of pens and tablets is, unfortunately, quaint, save for personal journaling and first drafts.
    Getting me this far technologically took getting dragged by the pits by The Spouse (an engineer who was allowed one "I told you so")with a cadre of friends on the ankles. And being very specific about not wanting a PC again in this life or the next ones after several crashes and a virus last year.
      This past weekend was the one year anniversary of working with my Mac. One freezup in the whole year. Now I know what the fuss about technology is about.

Friday, October 1, 2010

This Should Not Have Happened And Hell, Yeah, I'm Taking It Personally

   I just feel ill when I see stories about bullying. Earlier this year, there was Phoebe in Massachusetts. She was targeted another girl who'd been complained about by several other parents for her cyber abuse of fellow students. Earlier this week, there was Ashton in Texas. Now there's Tyler at Rutgers. Click on the purple "no" at the top of this entry for the HuffPost's coverage.
    The combination I presented--that of being taller and heavier than average, sounding more like an adult than a kid, and the premarital name of Gay--was like a bullseye to the arrows of the bullies K-12. My parents diligently reported incidents to the principal, but nothing really was done about any of it.
     Telling the kid to have compassion for the bully doesn't work. "Well, we just have to learn to get along" is useless.  Ignoring doesn't work, and that goes double if it gets physical. It's called assault, battery, defamation of character. All crimes in the adult world, so why put up with it in children? 
    Especially not now in the cyber-age. I had to deal with prank calls, practical jokes, and unordered pizza delivery. That was bad enough. Finding that images of myself in a sensitive situation had been taped and uploaded without my knowledge or consent is incomprehensible.
    I went to an away college and then moved from my hometown. I'm married to a man who comes from a culture that adores the curvier variations of the female form and regularly tells me that women with graduate degrees are hot. Life did get better, even though I felt as if I danced down an IED-filled road as I passed though the early part.
     But I'm here now. I have no wisdom to offer, except that if you can't get the principal, the administration, the R.D. (resident director) to help you, get the ACLU or some other group behind you. You don't deserve this. The shame is on them, and someday they will be the victims of their actions.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Update and Related Thoughts

    Let's start with the update: I did get a response to the email I sent to the marketing director at the theater where The Spouse and I saw the trainwreck of a show this past Saturday. While she apologized for the disappointment we experienced, she included a patronizing reminder that there was a warning in the brochure (albeit a very inadequate one) and the website billed it as rated R (at the time I checked to see when the tickets went on sale, oh, no they had not put up the big red letter in the lower right corner). She kindly included links.
    I didn't bother to click on them. I know what I heard at the show, and I know what I read. The inaccurate description and refusal to own up to it bothered me more than the monologue itself.
     Anyone who's known me for more than, oh, ten minutes is aware that I drop my share of f-bombs. I try not to do so out of respect to others' sensibilities until I get to know them and know what their boundaries are. I also do it for free.
     There are times in the arts that it becomes necessary to use coarse language or graphic imagery. Character development and authentic dialog are two situations when you may have to let 'er rip. Visuals depicting the consequences of inhuman behavior, such as Picasso's "Guarnica" would have lost power had they been dumbed down or sanitized. If there's a point to it, so be it. If there is no point, it brings into question the talents of the performer or writer or comic.
     I'd like to believe there's a caring person inside the rage the main act exhibited on stage. By the end of the night, I wanted to gently take him by the shoulders, sit him down, and tell him that it's ok to be angry (among other issues, he's just been divorced and his ex got everything except the clothes on his back), but that it's not ok to use racial stereotypes and insult people who make up the bulk of your fan base because they liked your two tv shows).
     Just as the marketing director didn't get it, he wouldn't either. So I'm going to go crawl inside a Jane Austen movie until I feel that I can face the world again.    

Monday, September 27, 2010

The -Isms, -Ists, And -Phobes Are Regrettably Alive and Well

   Early this morning, I sent an email to the director of marketing at a local theatre.
   Back up a few steps. The act we saw over the weekend was not a stand up comedian as billed. We'd seen him on TV in a couple of sitcoms. Impressed with his writing skills and performance ability, The Spouse decided that he wanted to see him in person. I purchased tickets for the local appearance as a birthday present. OK, fine.
    First act we liked. Second, I liked: the next Roseanne is on the rise. Finally the star of the show. Started funny, then three minutes into his spew routine, used a homophobic slur, then aimed racist comments at two interracial couples in the front rows. He made several cruel comments to elderly people sitting up front, and compared the intimate parts of women's bodies to terminals where one swipes debit cards in checkout lines. From there, it deteriorated.
     He kept saying, "There are no stereotypes," as if justifying his views. It was as if he tried to turn back every social reform movement back to the '50's.
      Try the 1850's.
       Maybe I'm naive, or spoiled rotten by my friends in common reality and on Facebook who hold a vision of a just, equal, and peaceful world, but I felt my face freeze into the quintessential "OMG" position. People were laughing at that?
     I wish that we'd just walked out. The brochure made it sound as if it would be like his TV act, but naughtier and a few f-bombs here and there. The only people more surprised and ticked than us were likely the elderly people in the crowd.
      So I wrote the email this morning. Stressed that I don't advocate censorship, but that I would have appreciated a more accurate description in order to make up my own mind about it. I don't know if I'll get a response, and I'm ok with it.
       But we did decide not to see other standup acts in the future unless we knew what we were getting into.
     And I decided that if that's the world of the hip and trendy, keep it. I'll stay home Saturdays with Garrison Keillor and pizza.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Victims of the Economy

Yesterday, WGN-TV reported that Save-a Pet shelter in north suburban Greyslake is at risk for closing due to funding issues. They need to raise $500,000 by the end of the year. If you can donate, and to learn more, please go to If you can't, please include them in your practice, or think good thoughts at them. Thank you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Which God Do You Believe In?

   "God will get you/them/him/her for that." Some days I find comfort in the words of the sage woman Maude Finley. This is especially helpful for anyone who volunteers in domestic animal rescue. Have a badly treated dog or cat? Use that as a mantra while helping to get them to the vet's and into a foster home. It keeps you focused on the situation in front of you without draining your resources plotting vengance.
    Other days, I have a vision of God who is on everyone's side.  One who is warm and fuzzy and unconditionally loving.
     Maybe the truth lies in the middle.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Winter's Amusements are At Hand

   A walk is in order today. It's blue and bright, moderate temperatures.
   This is the first week after Labor Day. I accept and give thanks for the gift of this day, a jewel in the more uncertain weather that develops as the days grow shorter. It's inevitable that cold winds will come whipping through the field surrounding the house, shaking the snow from the evergreen boughs. Even though wisdom dictates sheltering one's self from the elements, we'll still have distractions to fill the days.
   The two big ones: the retrial of ex-Governor Blagojevich starting on January 4. But from now until March, we'll have the mayoral election in Chicago to observe.
    Yesterday, Richard Daley called a press conference detailing some cabinet changes. Thinking it a mundane housekeeping detail, very few reporters showed up. The ones who did had the privilege of witnessing history: Mayor Daley announced that he would not be seeking a seventh term of office. No reason given, just that he felt it was time.
      In that instance, a sure bet went out the window in a vortex of speculation. Whom would Chicago voters see on the ballot in March? Why was he so abruptly making the announcement?
      Three theories tossed about on the latter: 1. a plummeting approval rating; 2. his wife's health (Ms. Daley has been  reminding cancer of its proper place in the grand scheme since 2002, I think, but had to be treated for a bone lesion last spring); and 3. his father, the first Mayor Daley, died of a heart attack in his office on the fifth floor of City Hall. My two cents is a combination of those factors. But we'll never know for sure. He kept describing his decision as personal, and I'll respect that, hoping others will as well.
      As far as the former is concerned, get your scorecards ready. We're in for another round of Chicago civics.
     This winter will not be dull, certainly. But we will stay in this day, and we will take a walk.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Paris' and Lindsay's Divine Purpose, Part 2

(Yesterday's entry was interrupted by an impulse trip to Target. I'm back.)

One of the ironies of the shadow: it contains your greatest strengths. It's not unlike cleaning out an old purse and finding a substantial stash of change. Each of those coins has a flip side. Stubborness' reverse is patience. (Allegedly) telling detectives that a vial of coke is ashes from one of your dogs indicates an ability to creatively think on the fly.

You get the picture. Wouldn't it be nice if for their sakes, and their families, they would, too?

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Divine Purpose of Lindsay and Paris

    Crash course in Jungian theory: the shadow knows. The shadow is the part of your psyche where all the aspects of your self that you don't want to admit to reside. You know what I mean. The parts of you that just don't exist. Yeah, you know: your passive-aggressive streak, your vanity, your denial. It seethes and plots behind your persona, the mask covering the tender parts beneath.
    And that, my dears, is the purpose of the people who dance awkwardly through their lives in the public eye. We can have our little vicarious hits of fame and fortune, yet rest secure in knowing that our mundanity is safe. It's common to dream of adoration.
     Do either of them, however, dream of what it's like to be a midwest hippie chick?

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Rains of Autumn

   The rains came a tad early this year. Usually the storms confirming that summer's winding to a close falls after Labor Day. This year, they fell over two days.
    These are the rains that signal to the hunter/gatherer brain that it's time to prepare to batten down the hatches against the inevitable winds and snow. The soul translates their message into one of taking stock and letting go of what is no longer useful or workable.
    One of these storms blew up from the south last night. I finished preparing dinner, then gathered the flashlights and candles should the electricity go out. We watched TV, discussed plans for the weekend. I'll likely go to a music festival. The Spouse will be mowing and finishing up a wood working project. The generated sawdust has necessitated my leaving the car outside for the last few weeks. He thanked me for it. 
     We lapsed into a lull. He suddenly straightened up and asked, "Hey, aren't your windows open?"
       Today is bright and blue and windy. It's just perfect for drying a soggy interior.  

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Really, I Was Just Doing Some Research: The Guilty Pleasure of You Tube

   Ok, ok. You caught me. I'm working on a novel about a band, one contemporary to the Police, U2, Genesis. Feeling stuck, I entered the names of some of my favorite songs into my favorite search engine.
    Courtesy of You Tube, I was able to see videos for "If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free)," (not impressed, Sting not withstanding), "We'll Be Together" (cute), and "Desert Rose" (Gordon Matthew Sumner, you can do better than a ride into Vegas in a Jag, especially for a song of that magnitude).
    Music aside, there are the innumerable videos of pets acting adorably (such as one involving two Brittanys telling their two-legged mom that it was time to get up). I'm an idiot for those.
    Sometimes, there's a whoop of insanity as refreshing as cold water on a hot day. The Internet is Made of Cats came courtesy of a friend's blog (thank you, Charlie!), and I load it up when I need a giggle or two. Then there's a live version of Solsbury Hill with an exuberantly goofy twist.
    Happy Monday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our Winter's Diviersion

US v. Blagojevich round 2 begins on January 4, 2011.
The US dropped all charges against Robert, long suffering brother of Rod.
You have enough time to stock up on snacks, Gentle Readers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Prayers for Pakistan

    Great Mystery, You Who holds the planets in Your palm and Who keeps the seasons in order, hear us now as we pray for your children, our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Please help us all put politics and ideologies aside just long enough to hear Your words in our hearts and respond to the flood survivors' cries for help. Grant that we may all come together and play our parts in helping to clothe, feed, and shelter them and support them in creating a brighter tomorrow. In the names of the Prince and Princess of Peace, amen and thank you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Convicted on One Count of Fibbing to the FBI

   Finally, the verdict was handed down yesterday for ex-Governor Blagojevich. Guilty of lying to the FBI.
   That was the only one that unanimously stuck. The other 23 counts for wire fraud, extortion, soliciting bribes, the jury was hung. Evidently, one juror was left unconvinced.
    The defense team of Adams pere et fils should send flowers.
    Of course US States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wants to retry the case. While ex-Gov. B attempted and conspired to do bad things for his own personal gain, no money exchanged hands, nor was there a direct link to someone's injury or death as it was with George Ryan's proceedings (a commercial license had been procured through bribes for an inept driver, leading to an accident that wiped out six of eight children in a family).
     By no means do I believe that Rod should walk free. Does he need to pay a consequence? Yes, but keep in mind that there are worse things someone could do than not being able to keep his pie hole shut.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Still Waiting

    So we finally had a little movement in the Blagojevich trial--the jury sent a note to the judge. Did they have to be total accordance with each other on all the charges?
    So the mystery continues. Which charges they're deadlocked on, we don't know. Which ones are still shadowed with doubt, we don't know.
     I'm listening to WBBM, which I rarely do.  Since there's a status meeting scheduled for later this morning, I want to keep an ear peeled. Will this be the day a verdict is handed down? I don't know, but we will shortly.

Monday, August 9, 2010

We're Waiting

      Been a little negligent in my two cents on the Rod Blagojevich trial.
      Briefly recapping: jury's been out nine days. We wait. We wait. And wait some more.
      For some unstated reason, the defense chose not to present their case, and rested immediately after the prosecution did the same. In some logic that defies explanation, the defense chose to rest because the prosecution had made all the arguments for them.
       Meaning...what? Were they that scared that ex-Gov. B would make himself look like an even bigger doofus that the prosecution had made him seem? Or that to save some shred of dignity, perjury would have to be committed? Once it's disclosed that a governor hid in the bathroom to avoid the budget director, and that he'd spent $400,000 on clothes which sent him onto debt, hence the alleged attempts at soliciting bribes, it would be harder to make him look worse.
       So, some nine days later, we wait. Is the jury making sure that they have their ducks in a row before they return the verdict? Are they hung? Or are they listening to the tapes for what a friend of mine, a retired lawyer, calls "the yuck factor" and laughing hysterically?
       Stay tuned, Gentle Readers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How To Tell if You Need A Break from News

From my dream journal 8/2/10.....I'm being interviewed by Katie Couric. She has tracked me down to interview me about Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial. In the dream, I'm one of his ex-girlfriends. There are flashbacks to pivotal points in our relationship. The dream ends with me in the Thompson Center (the state office building in downtown Chicago) and Rod following me into the ladies' room, begging me to believe in his innocence.

I studied Carl Jung in grad school. I've kept track of my dreams since then. It's been helpful, and have figured out what symbols correlate with which events in my life. But, please, can't I just have a dream about horses or rainbows and unicorns or mythology? Please?

Friday, July 23, 2010

The High Price of Incompetence

     It always comes down to simple human stupidity error, doesn't it?
     I'm shocked, but not surprised. The alarms had been inhibited so that the crew could get a good night's sleep. OK, well and good. Personally, if I were quartered in a huge body of water on a rig that dealt with oil and all the industrial chemicals, and knowing what they could do, the alarms would have been the last thing keeping me awake.
       I just can't get my brain around this sort of behavior, just as I couldn't get my brains around the BBC report a few weeks ago that the ball bouncing up the chain of command had been dropped. I don't have the citation handy, but recapping to my best recollection, a worker saw an alarm go off. He told his supervisor, who told his supervisor, and then that was that. For some unfathomable reason, no action was taken.
      As a result of two relatively small inactions, eleven families lost loves ones, and many more are losing their livelihoods, and even more are losing the beaches where their memories live. You can't put a dollar figure on this, but I hope that the courts come close.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Blagojevich" is Serbian for "Toast"

    After 18 long months of the good ex-Gov. Blagojevich protesting his innocence, demanding his day in court, guess what? On advice of his lead council, it ain't gonna happen.
    The defense team stated that the Feds had proved all their points for them, making it unnecessary to put Rod on the stand. What points? That he was involved in a lot of horse trading? That he ran his face too much? Yeah. But one must ask if this decision wasn't to protect the defendant, especially after the tapes the jury heard.  How do you answer the question, "Would you please explain what you meant when you said, 'I have this thing and it's bleeping golden?'"
     How would he answer it, indeed. The jury's been regaled by profanity-laced diatribes all ready. Witnesses for the prosecution have told stories of Mr. B hiding in the bathroom to avoid meetings with the budget director. What could that trigger off in terms of a melt down? Looks as if we'll never know.
     Without any witnesses, the case goes to the jury on Monday. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mel and Lindsay Do Their Patriotic Duty

     I have a working theory on the ongoing sagas of Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan. It's a conspiracy to divert our collective attention from what's going on in the world.  
     No, really. What's more interesting, trainwrecks or ongoing environmental damage? Two actors who had half the world at their disposal before the heady mixture of ego and mood altering agents seeped into their lives, or a group of fanatics who use the same logic as the Taliban to push their agenda? She's going to jail on Tuesday for ninety days (more likely three weeks before getting trundled off to a rehab spa). His latest round of alleged misbehavior is under investigation, and ABC reported that the tapes his girlfriend leaked may have been doctored.
     In my darker moments, I wonder if they don't get paid for pulling stunts like that by some covert office in Washington.  A little known department of the CIA, say. ("Mr. Gibson, your country needs you..." "Ms. Lohan, we need you to serve as a distraction....") Of course, they'd get handsome rewards for it.
      Even if it doesn't take that much to distract the unsuspecting public.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Benefit for the Gulf Going on Now

I put together a nifty short journaling class to benefit three suggested organizations in the Gulf. What you do is leave me a message here with your email if I don't have it, then I send you the PDF, then you send the love donation to the organization of your choice.  Included are exercises, some disturbing info about BP and the US military, and my blessings. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Excuse Me, Mr. Lohan, Your Daughter Failed The System

     Oh, please. "Today" just reported that Michael Lohan, father of Lindsay Lohan, walked up to a bank of mics after her latest court date and told the world that they system had failed his daughter.
     The former actress turned celebrity trainwreck appeared in court yesterday for her probation hearing stemming from a 2008 possession charge. She's missed drug and alcohol rehab classes up the kazoo. Her SCRAM anklet went off once (that we the public know of), indicating alcohol use.
     The judge sentenced her to 90 days, starting on the 20th of this month.
     The cameras caught shots of Ms. Lohan sobbing that she was trying to take responsibility for her life and that jail would prevent her from earning a living (anyone remember her doing anything other than go to parties, jail, or rehab in the last five years?). And then there was a close up of one of her middle fingers. On it was written, "F*** you."
      Not a good way to invoke a judge's grace and favor.
      In another lifetime, I was an addictions counselor. Oh, the lies, the stories my clients told. Oh, the coverups by their significant others. Were there some who fell through the cracks? With the social service network as it was, it was regrettably inevitable. In her case, though, the odds would be a lot less because the treatment centers wouldn't be as overcrowded. Some of my clients made good recoveries. Many more probably could have used jail time to wake them up.
      I just hope that Lindsay does before it's too late.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Farm Report

Two tomato plants (one yellow grape, one an heirloom irresistibly named Mr. Stripey)
One zucchini and one summer squash
Two basil plants, one Thai and one regular
Packets of bean and spinach seeds
Marigolds for a border and to keep bugs at bay

Ok, so it's a little late. But with the way the summer's shaping up, it shouldn't be a problem. For our next trick, we turn the soil over and stick them into the ground.

We also bought shrubs, small ones that will complement the house but won't compete with the foundation. Oh, don't forget the flowers. A deeply discounted planter of Gerbera daisies and some random geraniums corralled into pots with lobelia welcome visitors to the front. n the back step we have petunias, geraniums, begonias, and moss roses.

It was good to get out, to reconnect with the earth that way. We slept better, indeed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can We Take A Hint, People?

This 5. 5 quake, some 37 miles north of Ottawa, Ontario, shook that city as well as Montreal and Toronto. The tremors reverberated as far south as Virginia and as far west as Chicago. This is the--oh, feh, I lost count. It's definitely been the year of the earthquake.

We also have the oil spill. One of the robots knocked the cap off the well and in turn the whole process back to square one.

Is this the year when we get our final warning about reversing environmental degradation? People? Are you listening? The earth is telling us she's really p.o.'d and I don't blame her at all. We are no further with ending our oil addiction, we have made no progress implementing green technologies. What's it going to take?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Obama's Chernobyl, or Can You Say Criminal Negligence?

   That, my friends, is what this mess in the Gulf of Mexico is turning into.
   Today, reports that a worker did so see a leak in the blowout preventer (BOP), reported it to his supervisor, who in turn sent it up the chain of command. All that needed to be done was to switch over to a secondary BOP. No interruptions in production. Just hit a switch, and none of this would have happened.
    But no. Someone dropped the ball, and now BP, Transocean, and Halliburton are pointing fingers at one another in a circle blame game. President Obama is doing what he can, even if it's as a result of the foot of the opinion polls in his pants (are there no candidates who decline contributions from the oil companies? Like Ralph Nader? Or why I am likely to change my party affiliation to Green.)
    So while the rhetoric floats like so many tar balls, we are faced with two very real, very possible problems: that the oil will ride currents to many other shores, and that the rapidly emptying well could become a sinkhole.
      I've added my prayers and visualizations. Is there anything that can stop this and clean it up?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Would This Have Happened Had She Been a Man?

I don't friggin' think so.

Helen Thomas announced her retirement effective immediately today. After almost 50 years working at the White House for UPI, she abruptly retired. Why? On May 27, someone asked her about her feelings on Israel and Palestine. She responded that Israel should get out of Palestine and strongly suggested that the citizens should go back to Poland and Germany.

I don't know about the latter half of the remark, but the first half reflects the growing frustration many people feel about the Middle East, and the deeper frustration of being labeled anti-Semetic if you disagree with the Israeli government as well as the US government's role as enabler.

Ms. Thomas, I am so sorry that things ended for you this way at UPI. You told the truth and voiced the frustrations of a lot of people. Not in the most tactful terms, granted, but that is the job of a journalist. Thank you for inspiring me as a junior high reporter, and now as I do my own e-mag. May this be a stepping stone to something bigger and better.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Is It Just Me, or is TV Going Backwards? Or, "Mooshy, Mooshy"

Today's entry is dedicated to two of my role models, Bea Arthur, who passed nearly a year ago, and Rue McClanahan, who passed yesterday morning. Thanks, ladies.

    My tastes these days run more towards the classics. Some of it is a function of (cough, cough) age and nostalgia. A lot of it is delayed rebellion safely tucked into the corner of my psyche until safe to let it out, or why I look forward to my second cup of coffee with "Maude" in the morning. Mostly it's from a critical standpoint, both artistically and socially.
    I came of age in the 1970's, when feminism and social reforms seemed to point the way to a world based on progressive values. Shows like "Maude" and "Mary Tyler Moore" portrayed strongly drawn female leads. "Barney Miller" had a diverse cast in terms of race and age. "All in the Family" used humor to force viewers to look at racism.
     Except for Saturday nights at my sister's house, rare evenings at my grandparents', or when I snuck in episodes of the above with an ear peeled for my father's footsteps signaling his return from the neighborhood bar, I didn't get to watch those very often. Dad took any and everything about women finding their voices as a threat, and went berserk over anything remotely disrespectful to law enforcement officers. Anyone (read: me) who felt differently was horrible, disrespectful, disloyal and deserved to get dumped on other relatives. Never mind that his own father had been a cop with a record of, shall we say, not being as respectful towards suspects as some might think he should've been, even in the 1930's in a small New England town.
     We watched a lot of sports. All of the teams out of Detroit had a less than stellar decade, and no disagreement was to be had.
     Fast forward to today. As in this morning.  I watched "Maude." The episode moved briskly, had fantastic dialog, and a good balance of wit and plausible absurdity. Maude's and Viviane's husbands had taken off on a fishing trip. Did they mope or sit around waiting? Hell, no. They got out the whipped cream and doughnuts while Walter and Arthur dealt with a rural New England sheriff who'd pulled them over for speeding, and the consequences of its escalation. They also fired off a few lines regarding racism (their cell mate was African-American).
     My question is what happened? Most shows are predominantly white and male, and female characters have reverted to a level of triviality and silliness not seen since the '60's. The reality genre disturbs me to no end because of it. "America's Next Top Model" makes it seem all about looks and little about hard work. "The Bachelor/ette" reinforces the old pattern that you're a loser if not married and gorgeous. There are more reality shows that glorify cute little sociopaths, and a psychologist interviewed on "Today" said that it made mean the new black. "Cougar Town" trivializes mature (allegedly) women. I could never watch "Sex and the City" or "Friends"because it seemed so geared towards shoes and who was coupled with whom that I just couldn't relate. "The Office" recently disappointed me because Pam abandoned her artistic aspirations to become just another victim of the mommy trap.
     "Roseanne" and "The Golden Girls" were two of the last sitcoms I really enjoyed watching. Strong, independent women with full lives took the leads, addressing social issues with their unique humor. Even though "Barney Miller" had all male detectives, the squad pointed to signs of progress through diversity. Linda Lavin was a detective for a few very early shows. But the women on there were treated respectfully.
    But now we have too many shows where women are sexualized and used as props. It's really sad when you look at "Star Trek: OS" and realize that even with the miniskirts and coffee toting and rubbing Captain Kirk's shoulders, it was a hint of what we hoped would come.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hey, It's My 100th Post and We Come Full Circle

    Yep. When I started this a year ago last winter, I wrote about ex-governor Rod Blagojevich. So, in the interest of completing the circle, let's put Palestine and BP aside for a moment and write about he who started it all.
     Jury selection started today. The judge is questioning the potential jurors one by one to see how badly  the media blitz of the last year plus contaminated influenced them. Hopefully, the judge and the attorneys can agree on a total of eighteen (12 plus 6 alternates) to sit for the next four or so months.
      My big question: through the widespread protesting of his innocence to anyone who will listen, or can't get the remote to work fast enough, did he plant enough seeds of doubt to avoid a conviction, or did he make himself look like a bigger clown hat than he would have otherwise? David Letterman told the good ex-Gov. B. that when he saw him on other appearances, all he could think was "guilty, guilty, guilty."
     In this case, I'm inclined to agree.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

These Things Bug Me, Tuesday Edition

   (Stands up, brushes off mourning weeds.) So where do I start? Israel attacking a humanitarian supply ship with paratroopers and commandos, or the oil leak in the Gulf?
   Hmm. Both are just...what's the word? Wrong, wrong, WRONG.
   Well, let me start with the oil leak. What is BP getting out of this? And why hasn't President Obama taken any action? Attorney General Eric Holder should've been there at the start, not today. I'm not willing to buy the excuses for delays in making it stop. The relief wells could have been drilled by now instead of August. The really sad part is that it will be the franchised station owners and employees who suffer along with the people who rely on the Gulf for their livelihoods, not the suits who want punishment for this. I'm doubly p.o.'d at the administration--the word was "change." The word was "green." We've had more of the same.
    Even worse is the US supporting Israel and trying to sound neutral about yesterday's attack on a ship delivering humanitarian aid to the people of the Gaza Strip. How does Israel treating the Palistinians as the Nazis treated the Jews during WWII even things out? I'm out of patience with Israel. And still the US government supports them.
     I sent a comment to President Obama and told him he'd broken my heart. It seemed the most logical thing to do.  

Monday, May 24, 2010

Orion's Crossing

   It was dark, save for the glow of lavender candles, and it was quiet, save for the strains of classical music in the background.
    Saturday was a good day. Thanks to some sub-q fluids, Orion had rallied. The day before as the vet tech had instructed me, he suddenly raised his head as if calculating the trajectory from the exam table to the floor. He'd been alert, and he'd been engaged. The Spouse brought a garden cart, one of those wagons made to haul tools and what not. We put a bed in the back, and put Orion on the bed. The Spouse took him on a ride around the property line and up and down the road to the amusement and aggravation of motorists.
      Then came the crash. His gums and ears turned an odd putty-like color. We called the vet's emergency number. Two choices: go to the emergency vet hospital a good twenty to thirty minutes away and subject him to St. Francis knows what, or ride it out with him on his terms.
       We chose the latter. Let him lie in the grass until we all grew chilled, then made a pallet in the kitchen for him. We told stories of his volunteer days, of the grace that had lead us to one another, and the gratitude for the time that we'd had. We laughed. Rubbed his ears, told him he was a good boy.
      I sat with him. Let people know what was going on, asked for support. Felt it come in. Told him that I understood if he needed to go, although it saddened me to no end. Told him I'd be ok--his aunties and The Spouse would support me.
      Sometime in the darkest hours, he quietly crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
      When the sun came up, he looked as if he merely napped. The Spouse came downstairs. We patted him, blessed him. I did a sage smudge.
      At a quasi-decent hour, The Spouse gently placed him in the car. We took his body to the emergency clinic and made arrangements to have him cremated. The horrible final moment when the vet techs arrived at the service entrance with the cart. They offered condolences, gently lifted his body from the back seat, and gave us a moment for a last pat.  We wished him Godspeed and God bless, and said goodbye, collapsing into each others' arms. Then we did the paperwork, accepted condolences from the front desk staff, and got on with the clear blue day.
     Profound sadness and many tears? Yes. Tempered, however, by a profound sense of gratitude for the time that we'd had together I hope I was as much a blessing to The Boy as he was to me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Things That Are Bugging Me, Thursday Edition

BP. Need I say more?

Maps from search engines. Yesterday, one of my friends held an open house memorial for her mother. I wanted to go, to support and to reconnect. Entered the two addresses in question. Followed the directions to the letter, and ended up in a different town after three laps through a subdivision. I have no clue what that was about. Pretty ride through some open country, though.

Orion turned up his nose at an egg that I gave him this morning.  I've been giving him supplements to get him through this issue with his lymph glands, and now anything Mom made is suspect. Feh.

Major problems sleeping last night because of a pretty hefty t-storm that freaked Orion out. I spent the night on the sofa with him.

Elena Kegan's siding with the Bush administration about detainees.

It gets better tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Invitation

At 1 p.m. this Sunday (also Mother's Day) central time, I'll be participating in an event started by Standing Women ( ). Please join me in five minutes of standing in peaceful prayer for children so that they may know a green, just, and peaceful world. Thanks.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

As the Grateful Dead Put It...

...Sometimes the light's all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been..."Truckin'" by the Grateful Dead

    For the last two weeks, I've been on deadline, getting Swan and Iris out. When I wasn't crunching that out, oh, holy crap, was I in hell. You know, the slice reserved for other people, that you walk through with them, but doesn't happen to you.
     Orion had a lump beneath his ear. Vet honest: at his age, lymphoma a very real threat. Not a good candidate for chemo between being 13 and having a heart murmur. Through my tears, I sobbed that if it were the worst case scenario, no treatment, keep him comfortable, and reevaluate as needed.
    The biopsy was inconclusive because of the inflammation, but the cells didn't clump together as they do in the presence of dark forces.  His white cells were elevated, but all else seemed fine. He's on a course of antibiotics and some herbs to clean his lymph system out. I chose not to repeat the biopsy at the followup visit--he's been acting fine, eating, dragging me on two 45 minute walks a day. So I told her that I was satisfied that it was an infection, and that we would leave it go at that. There's been no change to the swellings. The herbs will just take time.
     For now, we choose to be in the moment, we choose to be at peace. We choose, too, potato chips. They're not just for breakfast anymore.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Choosing the Higher Path

   Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm up on Facebook. So far, as I also mentioned, I finally was able to see what friends from other forums look like (all of you are quite gorgeous) and I was able to get a peek at some of my classmates from high school.
    One's thick blond hair had vacated the premises. It makes his eyes look bigger, and adds to his distinguished look. Another woman, who'd been kind and gentle and with a voice to make angels dance looked fabulous. Other had been beaten up by time, or their attempts to beat back time blew back on them. The meat jerky look brought on by over tanning is just not very attractive, is it?
       But there was one photo that caught my eye. I don't know what happened in the thirty plus years since she transferred to another school due to a prolonged strike senior year. I don't know if it was because she had been camping when the picture was taken, but the picture brought a vengeful smile to my lips. She had not been very nice to me, and she had been the leader of the popular girls cliqued since days at their elementary school in the part of town populated by executives from manufacturing plants.
     For about thirty seconds, I thought about sending something to the effect that she always had looked like five miles of bad road and now she looked as if she'd been dragged down it face first. The thought of the b-word crossed my mind.
     And then I thought again. She was, and will always be, less than worth it.
     I allowed myself an extra hair fluff and snarky grin the next time I went past a mirror.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ok, I Surrender

I'm up on FaceBook. Oh, I dragged my feet, oh I resisted. But it was futile.
And Godde help me, I'm having so much fun. I know what the charming people I chat with in forums look like. I've made some business connections. And just chatted with a friend in Arizona.
Maybe this technology thing isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why Do People Give These Yahoos Money?

     Oh, my, Godde. How...when...why? Another 200 survivors of abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic clergy have come to light, this time a group of boys who attended a residential school for the deaf.
      Why didn't the "good" (said snarkily) people at the Vatican do anything about it? There was an office set up to handle these matters, wasn't there? And Pope Benedict, wasn't he part of it?
      Yes, and it's looking more and more as if he used his post to cover allegations up as quickly and quietly as possible. Both when he was a cardinal and now as pope.
       Yes, this is the church that ran ads to coax the strayed back into the fold. This is the religion that enslaves women with the threat of hell for standing up for their reproductive rights; the one that pays lip service to the sanctity and dignity of human life.
      Right. Oh, did I mention that they blocked scientific progress by putting Galileo on trial and burning the astronomer who figured out that the earth rotates around the sun?
       But all that aside, they're crying persecution. Victims have filed civil suits, unable to get the justice deserved in criminal courts. After all, it was just a sin. Just because it caused long standing damage to the victims' souls doesn't mean it was anything otherwise.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Random Equinox Thoughts

     Listening to WNIJ for the Saturday Blues as I write. 
     Worked on the outline for my e-mag, Swan and Iris.
     Been snowing and raining by turns, driven by a steady northwest wind. It's melting, but it's not how most people would choose to usher in spring. I really wanted to at least get the cold weather crops in, the spinach and the chard and the radishes. But it's ok.  I have a chicken in the crock-pot with leeks, carrots, and celery. Will be ready about 6 or so. Yum. 
      Will likely get some seeds going in the nifty little peat pots, anyway.
      It's called growth. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Colonoscopy Broadcasting System

    "We wanted to show viewers that a colonoscopy wasn't that bad," said one of the people at CBS News. "The Early Show" host Harry Smith volunteered to go live with his yesterday. Just what people want to see first thing in the morning: the insides of a large intestine.
     Let me see if I have this straight. You have to fast for the better part of a day, drink a gallon of a high-powered laxative, deal with its consequences, undergo general anesthesia, have a fiber optic camera stuck up an unspeakable place, and the general public is supposed to believe that it's "not that bad?" 
    This is not something you do because you're 50.
    This is not something you do because a public figure has taken it up as a personal crusade due to experience. Ms. Couric, I tip my hat to you, and send belated condolences in reference to your late husband. But due to the invasive nature of the procedure, both physically and insurance-wise, it had best be considered carefully.
     The inconvenience, discomfort, tagging by insurance companies, and risks would be acceptable if someone had started showing disquieting symptoms (bleeding, constipation or diarrhea problems) or had a strong family history of colorectal cancer. It might be warranted under those circumstances.
    One friend of mine became severely dehydrated. An acquaintance who had end-stage pancreatic cancer was in the hospital. They insisted that she needed a colonoscopy, even though nothing could be done if beyond pallative measures had it spread there. It reeked of insurance money.
    Despite the serious consequences, the procedure has been the basis of plot lines on "Two and a Half Men," a show I tolerate for The Spouse's sake. I give the writers credit for making it funny.
    One also has to give credit to whoever thought up the Colonoscopy Sweepstakes, where CBS picked up the tab for one and for your stay at a swanky hotel in Manhattan. Being confined to a bathroom is just how I'd want to spend my time in one of the world's great cities.
    Paging Dr. Freud.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ask Not For Whom the Guitar Swings; It Swings For Thee

    Oh, I wish that I could be a grownup about this. But I can't. So I won't.
    This morning, I listened to Stephanie Miller ( ) on the way to walk Orion at the park. She reported on the latest political scandal involving an uber-Republican Congressional rep from California. After doing everything in his power to block passage of anything remotely in favor of equal rights for LGBTs, the rep in question was involuntarily outed. Seems that there was this little matter of a DUI as he was leaving the district's premier gay bar with a new (cough) friend.
    The choice to reveal one's orientation is highly personal and emotional. In a perfect world, there would be cake and champagne to validate and celebrate. I feel some compassion that the foot of fate booted him from the confines of the closet. However, it's tempered by his anti-gay anti-equality voting record. Some might say it's God's judgement. Other might say it's a slice of karmic pie for kowtowing to the party fringe. Freud called it a "reaction formation," where one has some component of themselves that they find so appalling that they go into total denial about having it, but see it everywhere in everyone else and make it a focal point for their self-hatred.
    I just hope he can learn to accept himself as he is. Had he the grace and courage to do that, he would have spared himself a lot of embarrassment and untold others a lot of pain.
    This may have been the first noteworthy scandal of the year, but I'll bet not the last.  Last summer, we had Gov. Mark Sanford (R-one of the Carolinas and one of the Right Wing's darlings) who'd invented the cover story of hiking in the wilderness while actually leaving the country to visit his mistress in Argentina. Thoroughly ticked, his staff pretty much threw him to the press lions in the hall outside his office as tourists looked on so he could explain himself to the world. Jenny, his wife, skipped the festivities and moved out shortly afterwards.
    Will we have anything to top the resignation of an alderman in one of the O'Hare suburbs?  Seems that there was this day when he invited two (cough) personal recreation consultants (cough) over to his house. While he (cough) received services from the consultants in the kids' playroom, his wife walked in on them. At a loss for words, Mrs. Alderman cold cocked him with a Hanna Montana toy guitar.
      I wait to see how that will be topped.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'll Probably Go 4'x10' This Year

    The garden patch lies still and dormant under the ratty white blanket of snow.
We'll start shortly with chard, a hardy cold weather crop, in the pots by the back door. Then leaf lettuce and herbs. Then the holy grail of home gardening will take its rightful place:

     The tomato. Why we don't jump out windows during the winter. The real ones, not the pallid windshield-cracking denuded tennis balls that cause one to rethink objections to canned.
     The ones worthy of being savored with an optional sprinkling of salt. Tuck seedlings into fertilized ground and stand back except to water and pull weeds. We had them until mid-October last year, along with a glut of zucchini.
     Maybe we could get them to Thanksgiving this year.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Notes on the Seaworld Tragedy

    Beings that weigh 12.3K pounds do not belong in captivity. Period. End of quotation.
    Remember that orcas are also known as killer whales. Notice the modifier, people: killer. Was this part of the Disney-fication of the world's oceans, thinking that a trainer could suddenly emerge from the water all healed and ready for the next trick? Please.
      I've not watched any of the reports, just the teasers. The networks have covered the story from every possible angle save one: the ethics of keeping these animals in captivity. Oh, it comes down to making money off of them. Excuse me. But no one will acknowledge this reality because it would cause the self-congratulatory entertainment industry to crumble, leaving people to do things like read and plant gardens and travel to destinations where free whales dwell.
      It's bad enough that the trainer lost her life to the batsh*ittery of it all, and that someone's daughter, sister or friend is no longer on this side of the vale. It's just as bad that both were exploited to that extent in the name of a buck.
    I like baths, but would not want to spend my life in the confines of my tub, even with the massaging jets and jasmine or lavender bubbles.   Even with the adoration of so many fans, the orca is not happy in captivity, people.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm Ba-a-a-c-k: Random Tuesday Notes

   The new Swan and Iris went out last Friday. My mind has settled back into its usual contemplative ways rather than shrieking "GET ON WITH IT," so I can write about life in general.
    Somehow, it's hard to follow an earthquake. We've had snow, enough to send out the plows. I'm staying home as a public service to keep one less goofy driver off the road.
     Been watching the Olympics, or having them on as background noise. Nice opening ceremony with the FIrst Nations history. I just haven't been able to get excited about any of it. Likely the absence of Gordon Lightfoot  at the opening ceremonies impacted it. The events that I get geeked over have been relegated to the cable ghetto. The ice dancing was less than thrilling this year. The Russian couple with the sensitivity of a black face show to the Maori need to be stopped.
     Looking at seed sites. I want to plant an heirloom garden. Yeah, been hanging with Ms. Austen a lot this winter.
     Why did I write that as if it were a bad thing?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Earthquake Report, or WTF Wednesday

   The loud bang caused no particular consternation. Orion just rolled over in his sleep and kicked the wall or the door, reasoned my 4 AM coffee-less brain. Rolled myself over and settled back into slumber.
    Not too long after, sauntered downstairs to exercise. Turned on WGN-TV at 7:30 to get the weather. Up came the map: some twenty miles north of my house lay the epicenter of an earthquake, 3.8 magnitude, that had shaken the area and not a few people at 3:59 AM.
     Damage? None to speak of, nor any injuries. Collectively, trains, snowplows, car accidents received blame for the knocked over pictures and rattled windows. Some companion animals were freaked, but no lasting harm done. Orion slept through it, ironically.
     I'm still a little surprised myself. One doesn't really expect quakes in the solid and stogy midwest. That's for the west coast as it prepares to knock itself into the Pacific in oh, 5000 years. Elbowing tectonic plates that shake things up just don't happen here, dear.
     No wonder we were more shaken by the idea than the event.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Notes from a Snowy Tuesday

    It's been snowing since last night. So far, maybe three inches covers the ground, enough to touch things up and make driving a growth experience. The open fields surrounding the house are the wind's sand tray, allowing it to push and pat the snow into swirls and against the back door. The wind also blows the snow over the road, laughing in the face of the road crew's hard work.
    I made sweet potato muffins for breakfast. I had mine with a smear of marmalade, some good stuff imported from the UK. Thick cut, a little bittersweet. Perfect.
   Orion's been out three times to tend to personal business and eat some snow.
  The Spouse is working from home, praise be to modern technology. He's in his space. I'm in mine. We have a movie to watch, enough tea and coffee and chocolate to see us through until the roads are rendered passible.
   Hopefully, we won't lose power. It gets flukey out here. It goes out for no discernible reason more often than not. It's gone out on days when no wind, no rain, no air conditioning drains it. As if it merely wants to grab coffee.
    That sounds good about now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Because I Don't Bungee Jump

Some of you may know that I do an e-newsletter, Swan and Iris ( ).

I don't have that far to go on it. I've found some cool public domain artwork. Heather Carroll of The Duchess of Devonshire's Gossip Guide (
graciously joins us for a cup of tea and chat about the Duchess and gossip then and now, and passed along some lovely portraiture of her. I've done some research on bison recipes. I have ideas on what to write about for the other departments.

Why am I procrastinating?

There is no greater thrill than to push a deadline. I don't bungee jump, hate roller coasters, find the vast majority of horror and thriller movies to be a bloodsoaked waste of time. It's safe, and getting on someone's nerves is the worst consequence.

 The next issue will be available on February 15, this year. I promise. Just grant me my rush.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

No, I Didn't Watch

   The State of the Union address aired last night.
    I watched "Star Trek." Both the original and "Next Generation." I needed a vision of the world that was more hopeful than what was on network TV.
    A year and a little over I week ago, I watched as President Obama took the oath of office. I wept a little. Was I naive in my prayer that this would signal a new beginning for the US, that the seeds of change and justice planted in the '60's and '70's would finally grow to fruition? The just, tolerant society where no one had to lie bout who they are to survive, where women were in total control of their bodies and destinies, where race was no longer an issue?
    Maybe. I wish I knew. Lately, I've struggled not to turn cynical. Obama's well-intended desire of inclusion may have backfired on the health care front, reducing it from a single-payer or a public option to an unworkable bill that needs to be handed over to one of them there alleged death panels itself. Iraq and Afghanistan continue to look suspiciously like the children of the last regime. Don't Ask, Don't Tell was delegated to legislature when a signature on an executive order would repeal it more quickly. We still have no jobs, and the Wall Street fat cats have grown fatter.
   As Stephanie Miller put it on her talk show fairly recently, President Obama has 100 flaming bags of dog poop left on the Portico by the Bush administration. His task has been deciding which one needs to be stomped out first.
   Just start stomping, Mr. President. Just start stomping.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2:30 A.M. Thoughts

   The problem is not with the vivid dreams  or with Orion or The Spouse making unusual sounds in their sleep. The problem is with getting back to sleep after the images or noises fade. Granted that it's disconcerting to feel that your subconscious is directed by Terry Gilliam, who created the cartoons that did their level best to give coherent transitions to "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and unpleasant to be dragged  by the arms into consciousness in the wee-est hours of the night. However, it's the vortex of thoughts that add fuel to the fire.
    Take this morning, please. After a dream about an argument with a natural pet care expert, I snapped awake, and hoped that it was closer to 5:30. Nope. Only 2:30. Ok, go to the john, try to go back to sleep. Did I turn my cell phone off? Oh, yeah, I'd never turned it on. I likely need a new battery; it's been showing signs that  it may be dying. The song about the internet being made of cats that I saw on YouTube, oh great, that's starting. Ok, try an affirmation. No. Try a visualization. No, not the one with Patrick Stewart and the strawberries. Breathe, and try the white light coming up through the feet and out through the crown of my head, cleansing healing and balancing while oh, great, the theme from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" started playing in my head. Crap. What if I turn over? Ouch; my back is too stiff from the dive I took on the ice last week. Other way. Good, both puppy and hubby are sleeping through this. Puppy. Orion's heart murmur's worse, but for now he's ok and he's doing well with the new supplements.
    I finally got back to sleep just before Orion came in to ask for breakfast at 6.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oprah, Brian, and Keeping Your Sandals On

   There's a book out now that intrigues me. I don't know if it's enough to part with the shiekels to buy it, but it intrigues me.
    A Chicago area yoga teacher spent a year watching Oprah Winfrey's show and reading her magazine. Her question: if she followed the advice, if she bought what had been blessed by the Queen of Talk's mention, would the author be any happier?
     The answer seems "not really." Living Oprah is the chronicle of the experience. The author (whose name escapes me) seemed to have a pretty good life already. Based on the reviews, it sounded as if some of what was touted was silly and expensive at best (i.e. leopard print flats, a specific brand of highlighter to use for reading a specific book) and potentially detrimental at worst (i.e. communicating with her husband a la expert of the week and interrupting the flow of intimacy by insisting on taking a shower first).  The whole thing smacks of junior high when you had to have the right jeans, the same pencils as the popular girls or risk being tormented by the mean ones.
     Even more disquieting is the continuation of the band-aid mentality, that if you buy the right highlighter or read the right book because the popular girl with the seemingly perfect life has influenced you, all will be well in your world. Sorry, dear ones; it just doesn't work like that. If one chooses to model or pattern one's life after another instead of sitting with the difficult questions of what would really bring fulfillment, the illusion of contentment would fade in time. It's too easy to fall into that trap rather than bring forth the effort to create the sustaining satisfaction and inner peace that comes from determining the best course of action for yourself.
     Please don't get me wrong. I have a ton of respect for Ms. Winfrey, even though the last time I watched her show deliberately was probably five years ago when Sting touted his memoirs. It takes a lot to go from a childhood as impoverished and disturbing as hers to one of the wealthiest women in the world, and one who has championed personal growth and healing.
    While much of her empire is devoted to the good, I found my thoughts turning to "Monty Python's Life of Brian" as I contemplated the book. It drew fire and still does, even though it has nothing to do with ridiculing Christianity as some who haven't seen it think it does. Brian Cohen was born the same day as Jesus was in the manger next to him. Would be followers kept confusing the two, despite Brian's frequent protestations that he was neither a prophet nor the Messiah. One scene involved him running down the street to escape a band of rabid followers. He lost a sandal. In a flurry of shouts, the mob all removed one sandal, commenting on his wisdom in doing so while the chase continued.
     Sandals back then offered little protection from the sharp stones and pottery shards and other hazards lining the roads of those times. What would happen if we learned to content ourselves with the ones we have, to see the beauty in each pair, rather than thinking the other woman's would fit us better?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Because It Sells, That's Why

   I'm not real happy with the way this mess in Haiti is getting covered on TV.  To what end will it serve to show the endless footage of the rescued, the injured, the lost souls wandering the street still caked in the cement dust since water is so scarce?
   Where are the political analysts to help the rest of the world understand the history behind the events that caused Haiti to be in shambles even before last week's earthquake? 
    Oh, I'm sorry. They're on NPR, PBS,  the foreign networks and some websites such as .  The job of the networks and CNN and Fox is to sell detergent, personal care products, cars, and TVs so they can increase their revenue and get prettier anchors in preparation for the Even Bigger One that threatens to knock California off the map. As if those trinkets could save anyone. They appeal to the perverse part of human nature that slows down to stare at car wrecks despite our parents' admonishments not to do so. 
   Whether it's the morning shows or the evening news, there seems to be an informal competition to see who can report the same story in the most sensational method possible. It's not just the humanitarian or natural disasters that have dragged the above outlets down to the same level as the tabloids. It's the sleazy stories inherent in the political world, items from the world of entertainment that detract from the real issues of the day (yes, Michael Jackson's passing was sad and of note because of his enormous fan base, but tying up coverage of the health care overhaul and the last weeks of Ted Kennedy's life was inexcusable). 
    The time for mourning the initial shock has gone, and we need to get into the nitty-gritty of the world community doing what is right and proper to literally and figuratively stabilize the situation. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Me Thank God That Cows Don't Fly

Dirty birdy in the sky
Drop some whitewash in my eye
Me no scream, me no cry
Me thank God that cows don't fly...Anon.

     My sister taught me that poem when I was in fourth grade. Worth the scolding from the uptight fourth grade teacher when I shared it with my friends, then her when she came to see what we were giggling about. It's been one of my discreetly chanted mantras since.
      After watching the news from Haiti today--another 6.1 quake hit the island overnight--I'm so grateful that the cows in my neighborhood walk.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Angels Are At Work and All Will Be Well

Mother/Father, we come to You in continued prayer today to ask for the healing of Haiti. We ask that angels be sent to heal the hearts of the frightened and grieving. We ask that angels direct and supervise rescue efforts on Your behalf. Watch over the ones who lived through this ordeal, and bless and protect all who are involved in the rescue and rebuilding efforts. May the people of Haiti be blessed with strength and courage, and that their nation be given a starting point to build a bright future. May all those who gave and will give of themselves be blessed many fold. Thank You, Mother/Father. In all Your Names, amen.


Ok, did you give to help Haiti? Good. Bless you, bless you, bless you. One other job remains.

Could you please go to  and pitch a bitch let them know how you feel about Pat Robertson?
    Yesterday, he said on the "700 Club" that the earthquake was God's punishment to the people of Haiti for their involvement in voodoo. He also said this about Katrina for the debauchery of New Orleans.
     Both incidents impacted population largely of African descent. Both incidents have been used to garner funding to fatten the wallets of CBN using lies about how anyone donating will be blessed (in many cases, further compromising the economically compromised desperate for some hope) while spreading divisive, hateful messages.
      I filed my complaint. Your turn.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Needs Our Help

   Was it just me, or was yesterday an overflowing newsday?
   At the start of our 5:00 news yesterday, viewers were greeted by footage from the hearings in California to overturn Prop 8, scenes from outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital where Maggie Daley, wife of Mayor Richard Daley, was dealing with complications from chemotherapy, the ongoing Conan-NBC controversy, and then there was the footage pouring out of Port-au-Prince.
   Haiti endured a 7.0 earthquake yesterday. The architecture just wasn't designed to withstand that sort of torture. Hospitals, homes, everything has been leveled. No electricity, no water, no communication. As if they didn't have enough problems already.

   In addition to the blessedly ubiquitous Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, MercyCorps, UNICEF, OXAFM, AmeriCares, Save the Children, and Direct Relief International are all stepping up or en route to help. I'm going to. Won't you join me?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Jesus Gets Migraines

Please activate the John McLaughlin voice filter:

Issue one: Over the weekend, Brit Hume said on the air on a Fox News show that Tiger Woods should convert to Christianity for redemption, forgiveness, and to get his wife back. It should be noted that one of Mr. Hume's children committed suicide because of Mr. Hume's rejection of him on grounds of his sexual preference, it is said.
Issue two: Uganda has drafted anti-gay legislation. As in capitol offense anti-gay legislation. Three evangelical leaders who were giving presentations on "homosexuality's threat to families" and "preventing recruitment of children" last summer have distanced themselves from the movement.

For more information on both stories, please visit

    Jesus and Mary Magdalene admonished their students to "do unto others as you would have done unto you" and "love thy neighbor." Nowhere in the Gospels does it say different about LBGT people.
The hatred and fear of LBGT people came about due to the writings of Leviticus, a cranky homophobic Old Testament prophet, and Apostle Paul being an equally cranky homophobic New Testament prophet.
    It also doesn't say anything about a free ride to salvation if you do something like 21(according to some sources) women during your five-year marriage.  I don't hear anything from them about adultery by a certain terminally horny pro golfer shredding his children's lives. Or about Gov. Mark Sanford, R-SC, lying to his staff about hiking the Appalacian Trail when he'd actually gone to South America to see his mistress.
    While I personally believe that the Bible was divinely inspired, I have one question for those who see it as inviolate: who paid for the translation that you use?

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Double Standard Rides Again

    Ok, we have another messed up celebrity car wreck. Charlie Sheen of "Two and a Half Men" spent the better part of Christmas in jail in Aspen. His wife, Brooke Muller, alleged that he had threatened her and put a knife to her throat when she told him that she wanted a divorce. She recanted the story, and they reportedly are walking hand in hand to some poor shrink's office to patch things up.
      Mr. Sheen has a history of womanizing and was convicted of assault for hitting an ex-girlfriend in the mouth hard enough to send her to the hospital for stitches. He's been in and out of rehab numerous times and blew a .04 on Christmas (granted that Brooke blew a .13 and has had drug and alcohol issues of her own).
      My question is this: Chris Brown beat the living snot out of ex-girlfriend Rhianna last spring. Many stores are refusing to carry his newest CD as a consequence.  Why, then, did the ratings for last Monday's episode of "...Men" hold fairly steady?
     Gee, do you think that race might have something to do with it?
      It doesn't matter. Someone who is prone to violence needs to be held accountable. I personally never want to watch "...Men" again (tolerated for The Spouse's sake).  Anyone else up for writing letters after all this gets sorted out on 2/8/10?