December 14, 2018

It’s Never Too Late to Expand Your Vocabulary

 

I sure love reading The New Yorker.  In one article I learned three new words; “ludic”, meaning “funny”, “twee” meaning “quaintly old fashioned” and “oneiric”, “having to do with dreams.”  Just sayin.

December 7. 2018

Old? What are you talking about?

 

Biden for President?  I always said “too old” but under the circumstances  ,i.e. another four years of Trump, no clear winner on the Democratic side, clearly well experienced, maybe 76 is not as old as I thought.   Even though I remember that he had a habit of shooting off at the mouth,  nothing can remotely compare to our present MOUTH.  Anyone would be a relief from this orange nightmare.

November 30, 2018

Pretty Useless Information

 

Did you know that birds can smell?  This particular talent varies from species to species, but birds with especially large olfactory bulbs , like parrots and sea birds, have greater capacity than others.  It’s not the size of the beak, in which case the pelican would win hands down, but the little organ deeper into the head…oh just Google it.

November 23, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 16, 2018

A Sorry Sight

This morning I was asked two different times what I think is a really dumb question;  “Do you want a bag with that?” I seethed within.  Of course I want a bag.  I’m supposed to walk out of the United Dairy Farmer store grasping a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk? Or worse, walk out of the liquor store with a large bottle of gin tucked  under my arm? What’s the matter with you?

Oh sorry. Being a little testy.  Someone needs a nap.

And by the way.  The baby possum died.  In the garage.  Either from the cold, or something he ate, or from the effects of being stuck in my airtight garbage can for a week. More sorry.

November 9, 2018

Oprobably Oplaying Oppossum

 

I first noticed him nosing around the breakfast bird buffet, a black furred animal, too small to be a raccoon or skunk, too large for a bird. Then one night he lifted his head and I saw the triangular opossum  white face and skinny white tail, so I assumed it was a young opossum. One day after rubbish pick up, I left the can open with a plastic bag liner in, just to air it out a bit.  That night, as I came out with the bag of daily garbage, I noticed the plastic bag had gotten bunched up at the bottom, so I reached down to readjust it and YEOW!  It’s an animal down there! Badly startled, I tipped the can over and presumed the animal would take the opportunity to exit.  Later I straightened it  up,  threw in the garbage and firmly set on the lid.  There!  That’ll keep any animals out.  Little did I suspect, that I was keeping the animal IN. 

                So the week goes by, I deftly throwing the daily bag of garbage into the can, the opossum, as I now know, munching away.  Until yesterday, when it was once again put out the garbage day, and I throw in my last bag, only to see this ball of fur on the top.  Once again YEOW!  But I’m determined this time and I tip the can over.  Nothing.  So I grab a broomstick handle and start poking.  Nothing.  He’s acting dead.  Oh My God!  He’s playing possum! More aggressive poking and he refuses to move.  I finally dislodge his inert body and sure enough, once onto the garage floor he kinda moves, shakes himself awake and waddles under the car.  Waddles because he’s been stuffing himself for a week, trapped in that airless, smelly garbage can. 

                So at this point I don’t know whether he’s alive or dead.  Let the story oplay itself out.

November 2, 2018

Shoot Out in the Not OK Corral

Not-my-president Trump suggests that the massacre in the Pittsburgh synagogue could have been prevented if the Jews had more armed guards inside.

Oh, let’s see.  Two men,  each carrying a fully automatic assault rifle, shooting it out in a room filled with innocent, unarmed people. What could possibly go wrong?

October 26, 2018

Halloween. Boo. Humbug.

My least favorite holiday is Halloween when eating candy which has no food value and is detrimental to your teeth is encouraged.  When people spend a lot of money on stuff that is supposed to scare you; haunted houses, gory movies, dark decorations, ghoulish costumes.  Ugh.      Isn’t life frightening enough?

October 19, 2018

E-MOO-tional adventure story

A cow fell into the swimming pool.  I know that sounds like an opening line of a short story but it really happened.  Last week while Emily the college girl was home on fall break, and Jack the high schooler had just gotten home from school, there was a loud WHOOSH from the back yard and Jack looked out to see a cow dangling in the deep end of the pool. She was falling fast and soon only her face was above water.   He yelled for Emily, who called 911 and then shouted, “We’ve got to save her!”  So out they went and contrived to get her front legs on the ripped plastic pool cover and somehow drag her to the shallow end where she simply walked out, shook herself dry like a dog and proceeded out to the road whereby causing a traffic jam of fire truck, two police cars, and an ambulance.

Sorry.  End of story.

October 12, 2018

Scootergeddon

 

Every year in the fall, the population of my Midwestern town doubles and along with the 15000 students, come at least a thousand cars. This year the burgeoning within the square mile has been confounded by an electric scooter company, given permission by a city council which has temporarily lost its mind, to introduce to the population 100 electric scooters, soon to be 150 and then joined by a second company with 300 more.  Enabled by a driver’s license and credit card and elated by the vague and confusing rules, the  20 year olds are now flying down my street on two wheels and a GPS, without helmets or regard for anyone else on the street or sidewalk.  More to come.

October 5, 2018

Vive La Difference!

Recounting with friends about children, how boys and girls will be very different, and how I had three grandchildren in the “toy” room and the girls, ages 7 and 9, immediately start to play with the dolls, the picture books and other toys, while the boy, age 3, went for the fan, which was not even running. “How did it work?  What did this button do? Can I turn it on? Off?”

                Probably a universal phenomenon.

September 28, 2018

How Can It Be Fake if it comes from the President’s Own mouth?

OMG!  Concerning the NotMyPresident’s  90 minute news conference, where to begin?  First, Judge Kavanagh’s (nor his wife’s nor those BEAUTIFUL children’s) life is not going to be ruined because he is NOT a justice of the Supreme Court.  Then, Trump did NOT get 52% of the women’s vote.  He got 52% of WHITE women’s vote. Hillary got the majority of women’s votes. He has not been accused (falsely, of course) of sexual assault by 4 or 5 women.  It was more like 15.   The judge’s accusers, never dignified with names, just those women, or that person, are part of a CON job, orchestrated by Democrats, of course.  OMG.  He went on and on and ended the conference when someone asked, “What do you have to say to the young men of this country?”

No answer.

September 21, 2018

Stand up and be counted!

Concerning the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Kavanaugh and the woman who has come forth with an attempted assault charge , I feel strongly that this is serious and of major importance.  Obviously this woman was emotionally affected by the incident, and even though it happened 35 years ago, it still has stayed with her.  For the guys, of course they have forgotten it.  But for the girl, it’s still there.

She has passed a lie detector test and is willing to testify under oath.  And so should he.  Even bigger, the country should see and understand the Judge’s attitude toward women.  He might be voting on the life of Roe vs. Wade, and his vote on the Supreme Court  will affect every woman and girl for generations to come.

Will there be enough senators who will stand up and say “no” to this nominee?  We’ll see.

September 14, 2018

True Story That Must Be Told

 

While the student renter next door was away for the summer (lock the door and turn off all the lights), an enterprising burglar found a way in and took off with his tv and other stuff.  But the real news is that he returned a week later, even when the student was back and actually in the house talking to his insurance rep, and went back into the house with an eye out for the mini fridge and full length mirror.  The student and insurance guy, hearing the burglar enter the back door, exited the front door and went across the street and stood on the porch to see what would happen. The burglar by this time had purloined a grocery cart from Kroger’s  (I’m not making this up) because the mini fridge and mirror would not fit into his bike basket and then proceeded to load up and start up Walnut Street. Of course he was apprehended by the Oxford police (um. . .  a little conspicuous on his bike trailing a grocery cart with fridge and mirror) and according to the police report was arrested for burglary and receiving stolen property (the Kroger cart) as well as possession of drug paraphernalia (a hypodermic needle in his pocket “just in case he had a chance to do drugs”. )

The incredibly foolhardy burglar is now in the Butler County jail and maybe we are all a little safer on West Collins Street although that is debatable.

September 7, 2018

Time to Act

 

This does seem like an endless summer.  The leaves are for the most part still green, the grass continues to grow and the heat and humidity are  insufferable.  Only the robins seem to know that winter will come and have departed south.  And now the EU is contemplating ending Daylight Saving Time.  Oh Yes!  Let’s do it!  It’s just nuts all this tampering with the clock.  End it.  I think it has to be an act of Congress.  Oh well.  Fuggedaboutit!

August 24, 2018

Me in Computerland

My little arrow keeps freezing up, right in the middle of my bridge game, so I run to my phone and Google “curser” “foiled again”, oh sorry, “cursor”, “freezing” “Windows 10” and several sites pop up. What follows is a trip through a series of blank walls.  I manage Control pretty easily (window plus x) and then device management, but am stymied at Mouse properties.  Nothing.  I know I’m looking for “disable hide the arrow while typing” but can’t seem to get there.  After several more blind alleys I turn it off and add a bridge game to my phone.  Go to bed.

                Next day I try again.  Zilch.  So I open the phone book (yes, that old fashioned printed thing) to “computer repair” and then try one more time, this time taking a different route (“settings” is always good) and sure enough I get through “device”  “mouse”  “properties” and after one more step that I have forgotten, Voila!  There it is!  I click it off.  Turn off the computer, wait an hour, turn it back on and Lo and Behold, the arrow is moving! 

                So far.  I have learned that in the cyber world of today, nothing is very dependable.

And so the saga continues.  Once again, the arrow freezes.  So I resort to my high tech, cyber smart maneuver.  I CHANGE THE BATTERIES!  OMG!  It seems to work!

August 17, 2018

Awesomeness!  Is it really a word?

The CBS Evening News ended with a story about a 7 year old kid who caught a fly ball at a MLB game and then gave it to a younger kid who was having a birthday.  In a subsequent interview it turns out that there had been a previous incident where the younger kid had given a fly ball to ANOTHER kid and at the end of the interview, the one kid says, “Line of awesomeness!”  Very inventive! 

So I’m trying to think of another example of a “line of awesomeness” and the best I can come up with is the Rockefeller Center Rockette Chorus line! Oh I know! Every Easter in the Boston Globe  there would be a picture of this Irish family of 12 children, all dressed in similar dresses and suits, made by their industrious mother!  Line of awesomeness indeed!

August 10, 2018

Simply Crazy!

 

Emojis are getting out of control.  Not only am I faced with what appears to be hundreds of choices of little yellow faces depicting every emotion possible, but now there’s an app that will make one for you that looks like you.  You choose eye color, hair style, etc. and voila, there you have your own little yellow face. Ridiculous.

What happened to the exclamation point?  The one key that will do it all!  Sadness!  Happiness! Outrage! Surprise!  It’s right there on the top row of your keyboard.  Simplify! 

August 3, 2018

Oh Gee!  My Yacht!

 

The Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos has ten yachts and recently she called 911 because one of them had been vandalized.  Someone had untied her yacht and let it go adrift.  That’s vandalism?  That woman is miles away from reality.  And the country’s children’s education is in her hands?  More scary.

July 27, 2018

Talk About a Bad Day

 

What a terrible news day.  A duck boat capsizes and this woman loses her husband and  three young children. President Trump calls himself a favorite president.  Reality, sir!  And a human cannonball is shot out of his cannon, misses the safety net and lands in the crowd.  Ouch!  Tornados are running rampant across the country, a man shoots another because he was pushed down and goes scot free because of the “stand your ground” law.  Ooooh  Scary.  In Florida if you just feel threatened, not your life, but just bodily harm, you can pull out your gun and kill.  Fine.

July 20, 2018

Who’s With Us and Who’s Not?

In an interview with CBS news anchor Jeff Glor, not-my-president Trump said that one of his major goals was peace and stability.. Well, yes.  I so agree with that.  But then his remarks at the press conference in Helsinki were so upsetting, it’s as if he forgot his major goals.  To ignore his own government’s report on the Russian interference in the election does not rank up there with stability.  Sure, world peace will be assured if we’re friends with Kim and Putin. But what about our allies?

Trump is so insecure and egotistical that he can’t stand the idea that his election might have been compromised. So he believes Putin’s assertion that he didn’t interfere over the 27 page indictment by his own prosecutor with facts and proof.   Then he nominates for a high criminal justice position a man with ties with a Russian bank.

The man just isn’t temperamentally suited to be a leader of the free world.

July 13, 2018

Give Us Direction!

 

With all the headlines of lies, unfaithfulness, perversion, corruption and illegalities, I feel an urgent need to see someone stand up and do what is right  -  to act because it is the moral thing to do, not because it’s profitable.  Free those displaced women and children who are seeking amnesty. Take them out of the holding pens and let them live here, for heavens sake.  Appoint government officials who are qualified, never mind what political party they belong to.  And remove from office anyone who will not see right from wrong, bad from good.  This country needs a moral compass, sadly lacking in our blabbermouth, egotistical president.

July 6, 2018

IT’S REALLY HARD TO BELIEVE

 

                I recently read about an Australian man  with a suspended license who allegedly drove drunk to a police station and told them he had come to check in per the terms for his bail on an earlier drunk driving charge. 

Or the Kentucky man who siphoned gas from a police car, had his girl friend take a picture and posted it on Facebook.  Needless to say the police found him and arrested him forthwith.

Finally, right here in town, a Miami student was hauled into the police station for using a fake ID at a local bar, issued a citation and then released. On his way out, he asked if he could have his ID back, so he could use it again.  DUH!

June 29, 2018

Confused

 

There’s so much going on that I don’t understand.  Why did the First Lady wear a coat that said “I don’t care” as she went on her way to show that she DID care about the immigrants being separated from their children?  Or why are the Department of Education and Labor combined?  Because teachers work hard? I guess we all know that. Where is the overlap? I sincerely hope the rational is explained.

June 22, 2018

The Golden Voice

 

He’s such a narcissistic moron.  Can’t let a day, hour, nay, minute go by without causing attention to himself.  Right now we’re waiting with bated breath, for some kind of announcement that will stop breaking up families of illegal immigrants.  He doesn’t know what the announcement will be because it’s being written as he speaks by someone back at the White House. So wait for it.  Meanwhile he’ll conduct a meeting in which he’s surrounded by rich white guys who volunteer to speak for the press about how great a leader their man is.  Oh, sorry.  It’s not the cabinet meeting. Same thing though. 

                I feel as if the country is being led blindly down a path by a bumbling fool, who makes friends with other fat guys with funny hair and who refuses to condemn the Russians who obviously meddled in our elections. He doesn’t have a derogatory nickname for Putin because, after all, Vlad  loves gold curtains as much as he does.

                So now we have to watch him criss cross the country, babbling incoherencies and lies, and basking in the adoration of huge crowds, the size of which the world has never seen, all encouraging him to blame every problem on the Democrats.  OMG, is there no stopping him?  Oh yes.  Hand him his golf clubs and get him to the golf course so we can have a few hours of blessed silence.

June 15, 2018

Judgement Day

               

So when I get to the Pearly Gates (and it’s getting closer and closer) and St. Peter has to decide whether to let me in ,  all the pets will line up and say, “NO”, including Stubby the mongrel with frothing mouth, Butler, the parakeet whom we taught to say “Here Kitty”, the countless gerbils, stray cats, guinea pigs and all the tropical fish whom I fried by turning the fish tank heater in the wrong direction and boiled them all to death.  Oh, Sorry!  But on the other hand, all the birds, squirrels and trees (if they have a vote) will attest to my compassion and will say, “Let Her In!”

June 8, 2018

Growing Invisible.

 

Growing invisibly.  I never see weeds actually growing, but all of a sudden, there they are, and this year, thanks to the abundant rain and the hottest May on record, the green growth around my house is staggering.  The yucca stalks appeared overnight.

Of course it’s a lot like kids.  They’re toddlers one day and then, OMG, they’re six feet tall and going off to college.

June 1, 2018

Better?  More is Better?

Stop updating!  Stop improving!  Stop adding options!  I like everything just the way it is now.  I can’t make up any more passwords!  I certainly can’t remember any more.  I barely remember the ones I have now.  I just spent hours waiting for an update.  Then it says I have to licence it within 9 days or it will expire.  Just spend $99 a year!  Don’t think so.  Take your updated program and go away. 

Then the library shut down (electronically) for several days to add improvements.  Not so.  Instead they have added three more kinds of digital formats.   For pity sake, all I want is a book. Please.  A BOOK!  Is that so hard?  I finally find it but not without a lot of scrolling. 

Life.  I’m sure this is all Trump’s fault.

Oh just kidding.

May 25, 2018

The New Life; Must vs. May

Before retirement;

Must change the diapers.  At one point  (looking back, probably an all time low) three at once.

Must go to work.

Must be in classroom by 7:15 a.m.

After retirement;

May get up or not.

May go shopping if I want to.

May wear shoes or stay in slippers.

Wonderful.

May 18. 2018

COMMENCEMENT

And the grand exodus begins!  City streets are clogged with parents’ cars loading up, rent-a-trucks opening onto driveways and streets, kids making endless trips through their open doors to the curbside with lamps, mattresses, rugs, wastebaskets, boxes, bedding and trash  Graduation is Saturday and the town will slowly empty out.

                Meanwhile, the dumpster diving has commenced!  Go for it!

May 11, 2018

Well, SHOOT!

 

At the NRA convention, not-my-President Trump suggested that if everyone carried a gun, a mass murder could be prevented.  The mind boggles at everybody shooting willy nilly, sure,  killing the perpetrator but also killing others.   Good Lord.

At the same meeting, not-my-Vice president Pence said “The gun lobby is one of the most potent forces for good in this country.”  Yes, like they encourage people to use assault weapons, buy and sell guns with minimal background checks and have gun shows.  My kind of group, that’s for sure.

And as for the Second Amendment – we all have the right to own a gun, just not an assault rifle. We also all have the right to own a car, just not a TANK!

May 3, 2018

What’s My Job?

 

There’s a story in our family about the New England Film employee who was drafted in WWII and when asked his occupation, he replied “projectionist” because that’s what he did; show movies on the 16mm projector.  Well, leave it to the Navy to misname him a “pharmacist” and so he found himself in the middle of the Pacific, required to perform an appendectomy. 

                I think of this because it might explain our current head of the Environmental Protection Agency who, when asked to serve by President Trump, must have heard “Environmental Destruction Agency” thus explaining his selling off parts of the national park lands, encouraging the pipe lines ravaging our country and now allowing drilling off the Massachusetts shore line.  Not to mention lowering the bar on poisonous emissions into the air, encouraging more coal mining and ignoring the drinking water disaster in Flint, Michigan.

Pruitt is a disaster.

April 27, 2018

First Families or How I Miss the Obamas

I watched Barbara Bush’s funeral service and was impressed with  many things; her honesty, her love for her husband over 72 years, her devotion to her family and to her special interests such as illiteracy .  Time and again she was described as genuine, authentic and straightforward.  And I watched Melania Trump and wondered if she was thinking at all how different her husband’s life is compared to the Bush family. How Trump has a malicious nickname for almost anyone who questions him, how he lies so easily, how he deals with his money or treats women.  What a contrast of two families.

April 20, 2018

Fuggedaboutit!

Birthday Week.  And it’s been unusually cold.  Couldn’t plant my birthday tulip bulbs because it snowed!  Actually, in spite of all the warm thoughts and best wishes, it’s been a little depressing.  And Barbara Bush died on my birthday.   What a sport she was.    I think I’ll cancel the rest of the 80 birthdays and just wait for 90.  Because that can be considered OLD.

April 13, 2018

Snow on grass.  Why am I surprised?

It is spring, even though there is snow on the ground and the temperature hovers around freezing.  The forsythia is in full bloom, the lilies are green, the daffodils are blooming, all the regular birds are back, and this morning I woke to a huge bug skittering across the carpet.  I mean it was big, like a small horse, with at least four legs and it was galloping. Welcome new season!

April 6, 2018

NOT GOING MY WAY

Our latest swamp dweller, the Secretary of the Interior, is selling off parts of our National Park in Utah for oil and gas companies to develop drilling for profit, of course.  I’m sickened.

Our own Oxford City is not much better, as it allows builders to erect four story structures where grass and trees once were.   Yuck!  More sacrifice of natural green growth for money. And of course they have to provide parking spaces for the new tenants, so more lawn and shrubs are destroyed so we can accommodate more cars.

I think I’ll pick up my knitting and go watch the birds.  Deep breath.

March 30. 2018

Once again, with feeling

 

The Secretary of the Interior has replaced scientists in the department with political hacks. “ The ominous pattern that is clearly being revealed is the elimination from the Government of career men of long experience and high professional competence and their replacement by political appointees.” (The New Yorker, March 26}

Oh.  Wait.  They were talking about the Eisenhower administration.

March 23, 2018

Really!  Let Him Play Golf!

I just feel so much safer when he’s on the golf course in Mar a Lago than when he’s in the White House, looking at the red buttons on his desk, one that would fetch him a diet Coke, the other that would instigate a nuclear attack on Russia or North Korea.

March 16, 2018

The Truth Hurts

 

Harry  S . Truman was probably, of all the modern age presidents,  the only one who didn’t have an extra marital affair.  Known as “give ‘em hell” Harry for his whistle stop train campaign style, he is famous for saying “I never gave anybody hell.  I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.”

March 9, 2018

Remember?

 

Writing a memoir.  Interesting experience.  The more you dwell, the more comes up!  I’m remembering stuff I’d never recall if it weren’t for the time I’m spending looking at old pictures, some 75 years old.

Second world war.  Okay I confess my older brother really has a lot more than I do, but still, little stuff comes back.  Like the blimp sailing over our house toward the naval base.  Or the movie, “Kill or be killed.”   War is bad no matter what. 

March 2, 2018

TO DO LIST

 

It’s not that tricky. 

1. Ban all automatic and semiautomatic assault guns.  Illegal.  You can’t own one. Take the money you would spend on a grand military parade and offer to buy them back.  Then give them to the Defense department. They’re the only people who are making assaults.

2.  Put a highly trained resource officer in every school.. Just one, with all the high tech equipment available, surveillance cameras, smart phones, that’s all you need.  DON’T ARM TEACHERS!  For pity sake, they have enough to do.  Practice drills for them and the students are good.

3.  Stricter control of sales of all guns.  Background checks. Raise the age to 21 and have a waiting period.

February 23, 2018

RAINING CATS AND DOGS

 

There’s so much going on in the swamp, it’s hard to keep up.

The Stormy thing.  The porn star was paid 130 thousand to keep quiet, right before the campaign.

The inauguration left over fund money.  Twenty six million paid to some company for nothing and the woman who owned the company got 1 million for herself.

Senator Grassly sponsored a bill that made it easier for mentally ill to purchase guns.  They don’t have to be on the federal list.  Signed by the President without fanfare.

The Russian indictments.  They did all that infiltration, propaganda on Facebook and Twitter without any communication with Americans?  And how come all their stuff was favorable to Trump and against Clinton and others?  Statement from the White House; NO COLLUSION.  Well, guess what.  I think we’ve figured it out that the more you say something, and the louder you say it, it probably isn’t true.

February 16, 2018

See you Later, Allegator!

He just doesn’t stop.  The great Allege-ator is complaining about allegations  even though, as candidate, he alleged that Obama was born in Kenya, that Hillary was so crooked she should be put in jail, that Ted Cruz’s father was in on JFK’s assassination, and even now alleges that the Clintons are allies with Russia, that the FBI cannot be trusted and lots of people in the Department of Justice are liars.  The Allegator in Chief!

February 9, 2018

No Escaping Justice

From the small town police blotter;

A student returned to his parked car uptown, only to find a boot attached to his tire which prevented him from driving until he paid his parking fine.  Aha, he thinks. So he removes the tire and replaces it with the spare.  Drives home.  Meanwhile someone reports his action to the police who trace him down and show up at his apartment where they confiscate the stolen boot and take the kid to jail. 

The moral; THINK before you steal from the POLICE!  Duh!

Then on Sunday night, a 65 year old man was celebrating the Super Bowl, got drunk and drove his car into a fire truck.  Major damage to car, minor scratch on truck.

You can’t make this up.

February 2, 2018

Mother Miami

 Uh oh.  The dreaded blank page.  Writer’s block.  The “nothing has happened this week” moment.  Except that the students are back, there are no parking places anywhere in town and there are some crazy drivers now who not only drive too fast, but text at the same time.  Kids go shopping at Kroger’s in their pajamas and according to the police report, are getting drunker than ever.  Counting the days when they all go home again.  Oh wait.  This IS their home.  

January 26, 2018

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Where did this week go?  First the bluegrass jam, then the chocolate meltdown affair, then the gallery opening for Kelley’s paintings, daily duets, a frenzy of eating out and morning cappachinos! Whew! And it’s still January?

January 19, 2018

New Year’s Resolution

 

The last words of Buddha; “Make of yourself a light.”  Not to shine on yourself, Oh Donald Not My President, but elsewhere in the world and to do some good.  Oh, gosh.  I’d better get going.  Compared to a lot of people I know, I’m afraid I’m fallen short in the “do good” department.  So this would make a good new year’s resolution if there was any hope  that I would actually fulfill it, or for heaven’s sake, I would remember it by next week.

January 12, 2018

Easy Does It!

 

As the years go by, so many things are easier; telephone calls (smart phones), remembering addresses and phone numbers, (contacts)  directions (GPS), keeping warm (smart thermostats), listening to music (Echo) car maintenance (computer notifications) texting (just talk).

What isn’t easier?  Playing a musical instrument, making gingerbread cookies, finding the right Christmas present or cleaning out the fireplace. Life.   And, it seems, keeping track of my blog.

December 29, 2017

What Holiday?

 

I am much more in the Thanksgiving spirit than in the Christmas celebration and the religion that Trump seems to be taking credit for.

 I am very grateful for

1. my furnace that is keeping the house at 72 degrees when the high today was a toasty 11.

2. the less than an inch snowfall yet this year, when Erie PA has 5 feet of snow and more to come

3. Aleksa, who brings me any music I want with wonderful quality.  Listened to Sound of Music this afternoon. 

4. my children, who rallied around for Mandy’s party, a whopping success.

5. my grandchildren, who also rallied around for the party, buying and blowing up the golden balloons, providing the 70’s music, two hours downloaded, and swept up all the confetti left by the spontaneous bursting of the balloons at the end.

6. the never ending supply of good books for my entertainment – thanks New York Times reviews, Lane Public Library, friends, kids and Face Book recommendations.

December 22, 2017

The Power of Words

 

Maureen Dowd gets the sentence of the week award, as seen in last Sunday’s New York Times;

“Every day TV anchors breathlessly report some bizarre new insult or accusation or hissy fit or Putin nuzzling by the president, as he wanders around howling in the storm like a late-stage Lear – raging, blowing, spouting, wits turning – in his White House of dark delusions.”

Oh how I love those last five words.   Sad.

December 15, 2017

Bull-oney

 

“Bully” comes from the Dutch “boele”which means “lover” or “sweetheart.”  Theodore Roosevelt first used the word “bully pulpit” to mean using a position of power to advocate for a cause.  “Bully” at that time meant   “wonderful” or “good”.  So of course now it has nothing to do with the male cow, or “bully for you”, but instead means pushing your way to the top by preying on someone weaker.  Hmm.  Just sayin.

December 8, 2017

Little House NOT on the Prairie, Thank Goodness

I am reading the biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of “Little House on the Prairie” and others. She lived her early life on the prairie, oddly enough, but, OMG, what a prairie.  Blizzards lasting for days, all winter long.  Here we have three inches of snow and everything shuts down.  No school, no parking, emergency!  Back in the 19th century, they had swarms of locusts that would swoop down and devour crops, clothing, small pets, anything that moved.  So don’t complain when every 17 years we have cicadas that OMG, make a lot of noise.  Laura’s family endured drought, malaria, poverty, disease and Indian attacks.  And we complain when we can’t find a parking place?

Really.  Life is good. 

December 1, 2017

Veritas

I wanted to say something about all the lying that’s going on, especially from the Liar-in-Chief.  I always thought that lying by the president began with Nixon, but it appears that people have been lying since time began, so I’ll let others speak;

Plato, fifth century B.C.  False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.

Thomas Jefferson, 1786;  He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world’s believing him.  This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.

                The thing is, I was brought up to believe that all lying is wrong.  But somewhere along these 80 years, things changed and for some people  it became okay to lie as long as you were not caught.  So the scenario was, you lie, and if everyone buys it, you let it go!  Wrong!  A lie is a lie.  It’s not right.  Ever. Deal with this, people, and stop all this obfuscation, this obstruction, this alternative fact stuff .  Veritas. Truth.  I want it back.

November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Incredibly grateful for family, friends and free parking spaces until the students come back.

November 17, 2017

Wheelin’, Dealin’, Idealin’

 

Just a thought.  If deals (Trump) can bring about world peace, then okay!  Let’s do it. Get North Korea to the table and start talking.  Exchange goods and services, buy and sell, encourage commerce, not warheads.

Because ideals (Obama) like honesty, integrity and morality don’t seem to be very effective. 

Just sayin.

November 10, 2017

Oh Shoot!

 

I’m not trying to be unpatriotic or disloyal to my country.  But our president just keeps on getting it wrong.  After the murders in the Texas church, he says that it’s not about guns.  Oh no, it’s about mental health.  Well, in that case, why did he rescind Obama’s order to make it harder for people with mental health problems to get guns?  And then he says, if it wasn’t for that truck driver having a gun, thousands more might have been killed.  Oh please.  The guy drives his truck after the assassin had left the church and follows him for 10 miles and then shoots him in the foot, even though the murderer actually shoots himself. Just get it right, Donald.  Please.

November 3, 2017

News

Gosh!  The news has gotten so disturbing, I’m afraid to turn the tv on.  Indictments, lies, guilty pleas, misstatements, finger pointing (at Hillary of course), distractions, and now another killing spree (by truck) in New York. More finger pointing (those awful immigrants) and  Trump’s Cabinet people who seem hell bent to destroy the very office to which they are appointed.  The Environmental Protection Secretary is determined to bring back coal into the atmosphere.  The Education Secretary promotes private schools and God knows what trouble Rick Perry plans to do with Energy.

Good news?  Ummm. I’m trying.  Ummm.  Maybe next week.

October 27, 2017

Impatient Patient

 

So my prescription bottle for high blood pressure pills says, “no more refills.”  Hum.  I hem and haw and finally call the doctor’s office which has a hot line for refilling prescriptions.   I leave my name there. Nothing happens.  After a few hours I call the office directly and am told everyone is busy and leave my name and problem and they’ll get back with me.  Nothing.  Nothing .  Finally, “ding, ding” message from my pharmacy, my prescription is ready.  !!!

I’m a little put out.  I have managed to get my prescription filled without seeing or talking to  one human being.  Like, doesn’t anyone want to know if my blood pressure is okay? I guess this is very efficient, but hello!  Is anyone there? I’m not complaining.  I really didn’t want to go to the doctor’s office anyway.  It’s just the principle I guess.

October 20, 2017

Hands Up!

Touchdown! Arms raised in victory! Or the frantic two handed “T” for a time out. And we have some classic hand gestures like Trump’s “thumbs up” sign when his poll numbers are good. Or the “thumbs down” as a measure of disapproval, truly classical as it was used by Caesar to show no mercy to a hapless gladiator.  Not to mention the “thumb the nose at” or as it’s known as “the five finger salute” probably replaced nowadays by expletives and blatant bad language.

I’m going nowhere with this.  It’s been a slow week.

October 13, 2017

The Eyes Have It.

                Eye movements for the Trump Era;

Eye roll.  Another golf weekend?

Sideways look.  Is he serious?

Squint.  What is he talking about? Cofeve.

October 6, 2017

Polite Policy

Common courtesy.  Have we forgotten all about it?  It’s when someone sneezes and you say “God Bless You.”  You don’t have to really think God will bless you, you may not even believe in God.  It certainly isn’t going to cure your ailment;  but it’s just common courtesy.

    So if a funeral procession goes by, it’s just common courtesy to stand respectfully, or at least refrain from loud laughter or obscene gestures.  So it should be when the national anthem is sung.  It’s just common courtesy to stand quietly, don’t continue to laugh and play, or anything.  It doesn’t matter how you feel about the nation or its treatment of people of color or anything.  Just stand or kneel if you want, quietly until it’s over.  It won’t kill you.

And BTW, Spokesperson Sanders accuses anyone who wants to talk about gun control of “politicizing” a tragedy such as the Las Vegas massacre.  It’s not politics.  It’s policy.  And now is exactly the time to talk about banning automatic weapons.  When the rat-a-tat sound of 100 rounds of bullets per minute is still echoing in our ears. 

September 29, 2017

My Reverse Bucket List

 

Things I vow I’ll never do again;

Disney World

Red seats at the Reds game

Wool gatherers

Butler County Fair

Wrestling matches

Funerals

 

And BTW, has it ever occurred to anyone that in the 8 years of Obamacare, no one has come up with a better plan because THERE IS NO BETTER PLAN??? Even with a Republican President and Republican majorities in both houses, no one has come up with a health care plan that a majority favors.  In fact, people in wheelchairs and waving signs have flooded the Senate office buildings in Washington to protest any attempt to repeal or replace the ACA.  Give it up. 

September 22, 2017

Iphone the Almighty

Probably as a result of my overzealous weeding yesterday, I woke up this morning with the tip of my index finger swollen, red and throbbing with pain.  And sure enough, I find on the internet the very same index finger swollen, red and throbbing, a result of aggravated arthritis and treatable with hot and cold compresses.  I’m so impressed.  What used to be my “telephone” is now my doctor, encyclopedia, auto mechanic, nutritionist, cook, landscape consultant, yellow pages, family archivist, game player, librarian and camera.

I know.  In spite of my Iphone being omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, it is not God. It seems powerless (no pun intended) to prevent hurricanes, unfortunate election results or fat dictators with funny hair cuts.  But who knows.  Maybe soon.

September 15, 2017

Leave Home While You Can!

 

Talk about a perfect storm.  This weekend will see a return of warm weather, clear skies, Miami Homecoming featuring a rival football game with neighboring Cincinnati, high school reunion parties and of all things, a neighborhood picnic. Parking will be at a premium and loud groups of inebriated college students will prevail.  Evacuation is mandatory.

September 8, 2017

STICKS AND STONES.  OUCH.

 

There’s been a complaint on Facebook about the comments and how nasty they have become.  It’s true, and what bothers me the most is not the bad spelling or the swearing, although that is bad too, but the name calling.  Libtard, whatever that is, or snowflake or whatever.  And we can blame Trump for that because all throughout the campaign, he called out names; “crooked” Hillary, “lying” Ted, and he would say it all the time, so many times that eventually I’ll bet some people began to believe it was true.

 “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”.  Well, yes, names DO hurt.  They DO count.  So just stop it.

September 1, 2017

Making Fun

 

A neighboring town which will be unnamed so I don’t embarrass anyone, is more like a speedbump on a state route. Along the one main road which you can transverse in 2 minutes,  there’s a bar, two churches, a historical marker designating it as the birthplace of a fairly obscure national baseball manager, a small public park and as of the census of 2010, a population of 561. 

                But for several years now, well, three exactly, they have been celebrating the end of summer with the “Annual Reunion and Fall Festival” and I make note of this because of the featured events.  Starting off with the “new” “Tombstone Trail Walk”, which features a walk from the downtown park to the cemetery and back, the two day celebration will have live music,  with local bands including the Honky-Tonk Heroes, the women’s iron skillet toss, a football throw, a grand parade, a tractor tire flip, corn hole tournament, German beer garden, classic car and tractor show, Texas Poker and cash raffle, a Town’s Got Talent contest, encouraging those who can “sing, dance, play an instrument, tell a story, crow like a rooster, call the hogs, juggle, whistle or whatever” to participate. The weekend will end with a community church service and a special award to the widow of the founder of the first festival, three years ago, who lived next to the park and stored stuff in his garage. 

                So go for it, all 561 residents!  Happy Festival to you!

               

August 25, 2017

They’re Back!

Finally I get to say something good about the president.  I watched him work the line of marines at the base in Arizona and he was tireless in signing autographs, posing for selfies and what was heartwarming was how happy and excited those young people were.  Good. Sorry that some of them may be going back to Afghanistan.

 

Topic II.  Thursday 15000 kids will be returning to Oxford, and probably 14,999 will bring their cars. One per cent of them will be from China, will speak minimal English and have no idea what a speed limit is.  Brace yourself, Townies.  It’s Move In Day Again.

August 18, 2017

The Likes of Which . . .

 

The trouble with having a fifth grade vocabulary is that you are forced to use the same words over and over again.  So our president, in describing his retaliation at North Korea if they shoot any more missiles in our direction, says he will let loose fire and fury, “the likes of which the world has never seen.”  Yawn.  We’ve heard that many times, sir;  the crowds at your inauguration, the anti-muslim celebration in New Jersey after 9/11, and on and on.

                So how about the weeds in my garden, the likes of which the world has never seen? My grandchildren, the likes of which the world . . .? the traffic on High Street when the students return, the likes of which . . .?  this year’s  corn and blueberry crop, the likes of which . . .? It kinda loses its punch, doesn’t it, when repeated ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

                Just stop talking.  Stop tweeting.  Please.  Give us a break.

Too late.  He just ranted again, the likes of which this country has never heard.

August 11, 2017

Break time. 

 

The good news, if it’s at all possible, is that truth has come front and center.  Everyone now realizes that it’s really important to tell the truth and also to recognize when someone is not telling the truth or that perhaps the truth is there but in disguise. Sad that a majority of Americans feel they cannot trust the president’s words, but that’s what happens eventually to habitual liars.

Oh well, we’ll carry on.  Vacation time for just about everyone in the world.  Putin, all the news anchors, Melania, the Obamas.  Not Trump, of course, or that Korean dude with the most god-awful haircut.  Don’t we wish they WOULD take a two week break!  No tweets! No nuclear threats!  Oh please.

August 4, 2017

Open Letter to Not My President

 

Dear Fake President Trump;

                Are you going to explain the words of your former communications director to your 11 year old son, Baron?  Perhaps you could tell all the parents in America how they can explain to their children what that man said. You could, at the least, explain what the Mooch meant when he described an anatomical maneuver that only a giraffe could pull off.

                And BTW,  please keep your twitters restricted to pictures of little kittens and wild animal rescues.  Thanks. Remember, tweets are not laws.

                                                                                Yours in the hope you go on vacation  and never come back,

                                                                                                                                moi

P.S.  Oh, never mind.  Scaramouch has probably been promoted by now to Secretary of Morals and Acceptable Speech.

July 28, 2017

Pluvial Excess

Too much rain.  I appreciate the growth result, the lush lawn, the healthy lilacs and the outstanding corn, but OMG, the weeds!  I just finish one spot, turn around, and they’re BACK!

July 21, 2017

SORRY EXCUSE FOR A BLOG; MIDSUMMER DRY SPELL

                News story.  A six year old girl gets attacked by an alligator.  She escapes by sticking her fingers up his nose.  WHAT??  I hope that doesn’t happen to me because I’m not sure I know just where an alligator’s nose IS.

July 14, 2017

Yuge and Bigly Words

 

Ah, the dictionary, one more thing, like the phone book or the encyclopedia, made obsolescent by the IPhone.  So I get to use “crepuscular” and “kaleidoscopic” to describe the four skunks that appeared last night as they rapidly scurried back and forth on the cement walk picking up the meat scraps offered by Grammy’s evening buffet. The black and white pattern  formed by the beautiful fur of these crepuscular animals was kaleidoscopic!  I enjoy them bigly!

July 7, 2017

You Won’t Remember This

 

Fun Facts from David Letterman, 2009.  Yes, I can reuse blogs.  They’re called summer reruns and everybody’s doing it.

Early species of hyenas did not laugh.  They just pointed and said “good one.”

Each year the average citizen inhales 44 pounds of dryer lint.

Evil Knievel had a brother named “good.”

The Chinese are supposedly close to developing a submarine that can travel above water.

Bwhahaha.

 

June 30, 2017

The Quick Solution

 

In this day and age of super modern technology, Wi Fi,, I phone, cable TV, DVR, internet connection, Echo, for example, I have learned that the best way to fix something that is not working, or connecting, or doing its job, is to simply unplug.  Wait.  Plug it back in.

Unless, of course, it’s great aunt Flossie on her life support.  Probably not a good idea.

June 23, 2017

Nobel Peace Prize for Trump

 

Go for it, Donald!  Forget principles, morals, and human rights. Forget the environment, health care, or truth.   Just get all the countries on the planet to import and export all their goods.  Make deals with everybody so we’re buying and selling all over the world;  China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, wherever you have or plan to have a luxury hotel.  People will be so busy with their stuff that they won’t have time to shoot, bomb and kill.  There we have it!  World Peace!  Yeah!

June 16, 2017

Notes from Oxford Police Blotter

 

                Neighbors report to police that a man is walking down the street with a chain saw over his shoulder accompanied by a woman pushing an empty stroller.  When accosted by police officer, the man admits he stole the chain saw while the woman maintains she thought the stroller had been abandoned.  So the man is handcuffed and put into the back of the patrol car.  And when the policeman is off somewhere, the man squeezes through the screened partition between the front and back seats and escapes.  He subsequently unlocks the handcuffs with a paper clip.

I am not making this up.

June 8, 2017

Papa Hemingway Revisited

 

I’m reading a new biography of Ernest Hemingway, the first to be written by a woman.  She  was able to read  many previously  inaccessible letters and documents and we learn a lot about the women in his life especially his mother.  Shudder.  She was not a good influence to say the least.  What mother, for example, would send her son the pistol which his father used to commit suicide? Yikes.

June 1, 2017

Harwood Wood

The trees are especially beautiful and lush this year, perhaps because of the wet and cool spring. And I noticed a really odd ball tree, well, technically a seedling I suppose, flourishing away in the back yard along with the numerous ash, hemlock, oak and maples.  I think the odd ball is a giant sequoia.  Oh yes, I fell for the Tree Day Celebration and ordered one a few years ago and I guess I planted it because that’s what it appears to be.  Talk about optimism.  Right now it’s a stretch to say it’s a foot tall, but I’m keeping an eye on it.

                Oh gosh.  Suppose it matures and thrives and some day people will drive down West Collins Street and stop and point up to the sky and marvel at the Giant Sequoia towering over little Oxford town. If it’s big enough the owner of my 1/100th of an acre wood will hollow out a road through the trunk and charge a dollar to drive through it. Anything is possible.

May 25, 2017

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

 

So granddaughter, whose only previous travel experience has been family vacation trips  from Cincinnati to Fr. Lauderdale, goes alone from Cincinnati to Orlando, changes terminals, and then boards a Delta/Virgin Airlines flight to London.  Jaw dropping experience.  The plane has an upstairs!  Two hot meals with a menu!  Window seat! Your own television! Wake up packet with toothbrush, toothpaste and wash cloth!

Wow. Dorothy!  You’re not in Kansas anymore!

May 19, 2017

Nobel Peace Prize or Jail

 

                Frankly, and I think I can say this in one Faulknerian sentence, if our current president, with all his failings in regard to his treatment of women, his incompetence in the basics of government, his embarrassing fifth grade vocabulary, his crass taste in Oval office décor, specifically the gold curtains, and his five minute attention span, if, in spite of all that, he can manage to make a deal with Russia, China and North Korea to effectively bring about a peace agreement  and broker a similar agreement in the Middle East, then I will grant him a Nobel Peace Prize, vote for him in 2020, and be extremely grateful that the whole world is talking to each other and engaging in economic activity rather than threatening, bombing their own people and blowing themselves up. I mean it.

                Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your political party,  he may not be our president much longer.

May 12, 2017

Fooling the people.

 

May I be the first to recommend Sally Yates for President?  What a refreshing taste of honesty, real facts, intelligence and genuine knowledge of the law.  No more fake news, conniving, alternate facts and lack of transparency.  Why are the White House visitors logs withheld?  Why has any mention of Muslims been suddenly deleted from Trump’s campaign website?

Wait.  He has a campaign website?  Even though he won, albeit not the popular vote? Oh.  He’s campaigning already for 2020.  Good luck with that.  You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people . . .  you know.

May 5, 2017

Wonnerful, Wonnerful.

 

I’m reading an interesting book, LAB GIRL by Hope Jahren, which traces her development as a research scientist along with the evolution of a tree.  And what is fascinating is her description of the birth of a leaf, the tremendous effort of the embryonic cotyledons, two tiny ready-made leaflets, that from a seed,  inflate for temporary use and begin the photosynthesis that leads to the real leaf that makes sugar and then sends it down to the root that sends water up to the leaf that makes sugar, etc.etc.

And the wondrous part of this experience is that I’m looking out the window and seeing billions and billions of leaves in the process of growing, turning the back yard into a hugely lush garden of plants and trees and yes, dandelions.

Science.  It’s a fact, Donald. And simply wondrous.

April 28, 2017

Music to my ears?

 

The starling.  A bird so maligned in the modern world that our neighbor could take his gun, go out on the sidewalk and shoot them with impunity.  They have been known to fall from the sky, birdnado style, and no one really cares. Ho hum. One hundred fewer starlings to poop on our cars or ravage our bird feeders.

                But it turns out starlings are a lot smarter than we thought.. According to Elena Passarello in her charming book,  ANIMALS STRIKE CURIOUS POSES, starlings can compose a four part courting song, consisting of one section each  of  whistle, warble, click and screech. The famed and eccentric Mozart had a three year relationship with a caged starling who actually edited his music.  The composer would whistle a 5 measure theme, the starling would listen, whistle a different version back, changing a “g” to a “g sharp” for example, and Mozart would consider and then sometimes alter the original.

                They say that starlings like to look humans directly in the eye.  I can’t say that has ever happened to me.  But I will say they certainly are a  garrulous group and now that the doors are open, I’m listening for the whistle, warble, click and screech song. 

April 21, 2017

The Wonder of it All.

Overwhelmed this week from birthday activities, mobile device intricacies and frustrations, state of the union, medical ethics and the wonder of spring which just keeps coming no matter what.  Thanks for that.

April 14, 2017

 Oh, the irony..

 

Does anyone else see the irony when President Trump decries the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on its own people, when Trump himself has just signed an executive order that would rewrite Obama’s  Clean Power Plan that would protect the atmosphere from 70 million tons of carbon pollution and result in 3600 fewer premature deaths and 90 thousand fewer asthma attacks on children?

The Environmental Protection Agency has been looking into the scientific data documenting the risks posed by greenhouse gases and recognizing that these emissions had contributed to public safety. The Trump budget would defund the EPA by 31 per cent and cut the staff by 20 per cent. Dump the Trump before we are all gasping for clean air.

April 7, 2017

Twitter into Oblivion.  Please.

 

Oh how I miss Obama.  And Michelle. And the girls.  And honesty.  And truth.  And Congress doing their job. 

Is our Fake President going to twitter himself into impeachment? Let’s hope.

March 31, 2017

Talk about a learning curve.  In one day I learned

1.  There are 100 pence in a British pound and at least five different coins.

2. Data is not text or talk and the amount of data used can be helped if you use WiFi which has to be turned on after a factory reset.

3.  Factory resets can cause HAVOC.

4. The ACA lives!  My postcards helped!

5. The Germans invented a towel holder that has instructions in 6 languages but only one short paragraph in English but I installed it myself anyhoo.

6.  Grandaughters help A LOT when putting up curtains on the porch.

7.  Spring came!  Doors open!  Birds Sing! 

8.  Life can be good!

March 24, 2017

Wrong.  Just Wrong.

 

I know people are starving all over the world.  When I was growing up we were instructed to remember the starving Armenians.  But yesterday on CBS news (and it’s not fake) there were such  disturbing pictures of children starving in Southern Sudan.    And it’s even more awful when we have a president whose conspicuous consumption and terrible statements like “I’m so rich” emphasize how terribly thoughtless and uncaring he seems to be about suffering and poverty.

His proposed budget increases military spending and reduces foreign aid.  Isn’t it more important that we feed those starving children than build better bombs? Man!  What a topsy turvy world.

March 17, 2017

Good News and Bad News

 

The good news.  High school kids have put together an ad for our local TV questioning our President’s competence.   They cite his incessant twittering, his poor choice of cabinet members and his Muslim travel ban.  They criticize our representative in Congress and call him out for supporting the Republican Health Care plan, not supporting Planned Parenthood and asking for a special prosecutor to look into the Russian connection to the last election.

The bad news.  Our government is so out of whack that kids in high school are upset.

The good news.  High school kids are paying attention to what is happening in Washington.

March 10, 2017

APPALLING

Is there no end to his effrontery?  His top cop/attorney general lies to Congress.  He rescinds the Obama executive order to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.  He breaks up immigrant families as they cross the border.  He appoints a radical nut to be a permanent member of the National Security Council and then takes off to Florida for a weekend in the sun and golfing.

March 3, 2017

Draining the Swamp of Reality

 

                Unfortunately words have lost their integrity.  Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress rings hollow. We have to watch what he does, not what he says.  He lies, exaggerates, hints and distorts.  He talks about “so called” crowds and “fake” news.  He maintains that Jews are desecrating their own cemeteries and hints that  Obama is somehow behind protests.    Trump may be our president, but he’s still a lunatic.

February 24, 2017

The New Fired Up

 

Conversation heard outside a Miami professor’s office;

Coed 1.  My boyfriend is really mad at me because I don’t get wasted enough.

(Professor expects Coed 2 to say something like what a jerk)

Coed 2.  Here’s a tip.  Have a drink or two BEFORE you go out.

My knitting group is properly shocked but not surprised.  One knitter, who was a sorority advisor, said that they have “Fired Up” parties whereby they all start drinking before going to the uptown bars.

Then they fill water bottles (Evian anyone?) with vodka.

They boast about how many times they have passed out.  They consider it a badge of honor, kind of like the Girl Scout Merit badges.   Yikes.

February 17, 2017

Woof!

 

I so appreciate the Westminster Kennel Dog Show, on tv last night from Madison Square Garden.  The first hound was the Afghan, all that silky, flowing, beautiful hair!  The Borzoi, from Russia.  The Ibizan, first seen thousands of years ago on Egyptian tombs.  The Irish wolf hound, tallest of all the dogs!  Yuge!  And the water hound, the only hound dog with webbed feet!

                What a pleasure to hear about something that is irreproachably honest and also beautiful.  These are some of the world’s finest animals, and it is so refreshing to be watching the real thing as opposed to all the hypocrisy and lies coming from our “so called” leaders.

                I don’t even like dogs, but for two days in February, DOGS RULE!

February 10, 2017

Fake News

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren is barred from reading Coretta Scott King’s letter criticizing the Attorney General nominee by Mitch McConnel’s invoking an obscure ruling from 1906 whose sole purpose was to prevent senators from physically hitting each other.  But then he allows a MAN to finish reading the letter.

This has got to be FAKE NEWS.

Unfortunately not.

February 3, 2017

Vetting, Canine and Political

 

Does the OM (Orange Man) realize that with one stroke of the pen he has insulted 1.2 billion people, approximately 19% of the world population?

On a lighter note, I do  believe that puppies to be chosen for the Super Puppy Bowl are vetted more thoroughly than the candidates for Cabinet positions.  After 80 puppies are selected by submitted videos, they are flown to New York where they are interviewed, examined by a vet, and put through various   IQ, obedience and field tests.  If they fall asleep, for example, on the field, they are automatically disqualified.  Watch for Sable, the pup from Oxford, #26  who is on Team Fluff. Animal Planet.  3 p.m.

 

January 27, 2017

Sit Tight for a Wild Ride

 

I guess we might as well get used to jaw dropping statements from the new administration.  The latest is from Kelly Ann Conway.   She maintains that her dubious statement about the attendance record at the inauguration was not a lie, a falsehood or misrepresentation.  Oh no.  Get this.  It was an “alternative fact.”   Dear God.  Four years of this malarkey?

                And what’s even more startling, the gag orders.  Federal departments are not allowed to tweet? Reveal anything?  What is going on?  And the list of federal agencies that will lose their funding?  I’m all for paring down wasteful spending, but most of them will only affect women and the poor people of this country (ironically, probably Trump supporters).

 It’s all pretty scary until you get on Facebook and realize that people are still funny, thoughtful and kind.  Hang in there America.  We will survive.

January 20, 2017

January Blues

                Quite a depressing week.  Overcast, cloudy, downright damp.  Congressional hearings on the cabinet picks; Education sect. who is clearly unqualified, Energy man who wanted to eliminate that very department but unfortunately couldn’t remember the name of it.  Oops.

                And finally the upcoming inauguration of OP (Orange President), also clearly unqualified for the job yet going to go on anyway.

                Bright spots that keep me going; no snow, no snow removal expense, bountiful birds every morning, Jack wins a wrestling match, other grandkids seem to be happy. I’m still walking and talking and knitting, even though I’ll be eighty soon.  Yikes.

January 13, 2017

Ave Atque Vale!

 

Hail and farewell!  After watching Obama’s farewell speech last night, so many words come to mind; dignity, compassion, love, intelligence, patriotism .  In eight years he has brought health  insurance to 20 million  uninsured, insurance for those with preexisting conditions, he revived a failing economy, brought race relations to a level of conversation, and Michelle, I cannot begin to describe.  It was a remarkable speech and his continuing presence in the country’s history is a ray of hope.

Orange man, on the other hand, continues to speak with such chicanery and hyperbole, it’s really hard to listen for more than a few minutes.  Great! Tremendous! Brilliant!  Yuck.

January 6, 2017

The Eternal Male Ego

 

So Cicero in the first century B.C. writes to his friend Atticus relating how much people in Cilicia love him, want him to be king, and shower him with honors.  “I am the best” he writes unabashedly.  Hmmm. And now we will have a president, well, you know, who says in a New Yorker cartoon, while his hand is on the bible and the Supreme Court justice is administering the (shudder} you know what, “”…and will to the best of my ability, which is terrific ability, by the way.  Everyone agrees, I have fantastic ability.  So there’s no problem with my ability, believe me …”

December 30, 2016

The Old, Old Story

Greetings from Christmas cards reveal that my old friend has a much younger boy friend and together they have traveled the world. “He keeps me young” she writes.  Dick van Dyke, in his nineties, is married to a forty year old and writes the same. “She keeps me young.” WRONG.  You may feel youthful and granted it may be refreshing, but trust me, it’s an illusion.  You’re still approaching or surpassing 80 which is – HELLO --  OLD.  Embrace it.  Sit down.  Wait for the end. 

December 23, 2016

Definitely His Fault

 

I remember once last year seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers dressed like bumble bees.  Now this year the Seattle Seahawks are playing Thursday night football looking like green neon aliens from outer space.  Wha?  Who’s making these decisions?  Why?

                Maybe we can blame Trump.  Sure.  Why not.  Let the blame game begin!

December 16, 2016

Go Back!

 

                In light of the new administration’s picks for the Cabinet of Deplorables – an education secretary who doesn’t believe in public education, an environmental protection chief who scoffs at global warming and now a department of energy secretary who wanted to eliminate the agency completely – I fear a humongous cultural shift to the rear, a recidivism.

                My answer.  Double my contributions to all the private organizations that will continue our path to tolerance, public education, promotion of scientific investigation and efforts to preserve the natural world.  Jeesh.

December 9, 2016

The Hans Christian Anderson story about the King who was tricked into believing he was smart and suited for his job

 

And finally a little child yelled, “The Emperor has no clothes!”

“The Orange Man has no brains!”

On second thought,
WRONG”.   He’s smart.  But I’m just having a problem coming to terms with a Trump presidency.

And his cabinet of deplorables.

December 2, 2016

NOONE’S GOING TO STEAL MY CHRISTMAS!

 

I look forward to Christmas this year, especially since it appears that the Trumpster is  not going away.  Au contraire, he’s coming to Cincinnati for a rally .  A rally?  He won already!  How can he have a rally without putting someone down, offending a group of citizens, promoting violence or telling lies?

                Anyhoo, let Christmas begin.  I happened to catch the last 10 minutes of The Grinch, when he has stolen all the presents and is  snickering at the Who People who have come out of their houses and are standing in a circle, holding hands and singing!  No crying!  They don’t care about presents!  They just love each other!  That’s what counts!

                Kind of a  stretch, but somehow the Grinch looks a lot like Trump only a different color. Let’s hope for a similar conversion and he starts to realize that money/things isn’t everything.

November 25, 2016

Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

When looking at the potential leaders of our country for the next four years, and fighting despair, bigotry, the dismantling of our environmental protections, and the mindless tweets of a wholly self absorbed orange man,  I take heart from the words of e e cummings;

“I thank you God for most this amazing day

For the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;

and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”

 

 So I wake every morning to a “most this amazing day”.

 I will be hopeful.

November 18, 2016

From George Burns’ biography of Gracie Allen

 

Uncle Barnum Allen once claimed he grew grapefruits so big that 8 of them would make a dozen.

Gracie decided that horses must be deaf because she saw so few of them at concerts.

I was so surprised at birth that I didn’t speak for a year and a half.

George; Did the maid ever drop you on your head when you were a baby?

Gracie; Don’t be silly, George. We couldn’t afford a maid.  My mother had to do it.

 

George;  What’s the date?

Gracie; I don’t know.

George; Well, look in the newspaper.

Gracie; That won’t do any good.  It’s yesterday’s paper.

November 11, 2016

Be  a  good sport.

 

Cubs  win!  Indians lose!  Trump wins!  Hillary loses!  No lawsuits.  No claims it was rigged.  Just good sportsmanship,  please. 

Let this past week be a lesson.  Live with it.  No whining.

Move on.

November 4, 2016

Retirement Morning

 

So I can spend the morning looking at a potato that resembles a princess, reading a discussion comparing Mozart and Prince, watching a Scotsman in a kilt playing Thunderstruck on flaming bagpipes, a baby emu rolling over like a dog, innumerable cute baby pictures, friends on Caribbean cruises, or hundreds of examples why no one should vote for Trump

Or

Put on my shoes and go out and repair my Hillary sign which was vandalized ( but repairable) overnight.

Yes, I will.

October 28, 2016

Eternal Optimist

 

As we close in on single digit days before the election, I can think of some real positives that have evolved from a predominantly negative campaign season;

1. people on the internet are much more aware of the reliability of sources.  A recent post declaring Hillary’s  membership in the KKK brought out hundreds of requests for links, sources, and then a revelation that the sources were extreme right wing publications.  Good for everyone.

2. no more locker room talk.  I’ll bet sexual assault talk will be more muted than previously allowed, especially among males of all ages. Fewer wolf whistles, groping incidents and unwanted advances from bosses or stars.  Thanks, Donald.

3. the possibility that only really qualified people will volunteer to run for political office.  The relentless and justified criticism of the truly unfit candidate for president should scare away any deplorable thinking he can become president.

4.  the glass ceiling will have been shattered.  Just as Obama opened up the possibility of any Afro-American being president, so now any woman can imagine doing the same.  Yeah!  At last!

October 21, 2016

Oh Yes.  It’s  the Teacher’s Fault Once Again.

How did THAT MAN’s supporters graduate from high school and still be so ignorant? How can they say on national television that a president can jail a political opponent?  How can one tell me that Hillary wants to take away his guns?  Surely teachers are teaching otherwise.  But is anyone listening or learning?

                My theory is that our schools place too much emphasis on sports.  Not that they aren’t healthy, that they encourage good sportsmanship or they promote teamwork.  All good.  But they also inherently place special value on winning.  Remember the beginning of this (shudder) campaign?  And the orange monster kept saying, “I’m a WINNER!  I’ll win for you!  Vote for the winner!”

                Dear God in Heaven.  Grant us some THINKING  people and direct them to the voting booth November 8th.

October 14, 2016

The Power of Words

 

Learned a new word this week.  “Rodomontade”.  Had to google it.  It means “boastful” and comes from the Italian comic opera figure and literally means “he who rolls away the mountain.”

How fitting when the current political picture is just crazy with words, some true, some disgusting, some supposedly used in the men’s locker room.  My favorite words used to describe you know who;

Deplorable

Deportable

Despicable

Indefensible

 

October 7, 2016

I’m With Her For Sure, 100 Per cent

 

Yes, I’m with Hillary because she’s

Hard working

Pretty honest

Experienced

Deserving

Hard working

Experienced

And she’s a GRANDMA!

And that other guy is most certainly none of the above.

September 30, 2016

Decal Fever

 

I am not one to decorate my car with bumper stickers, signs or decals of any kind.  I think I can safely say I have NEVER affixed anything to my window, bumper or anything.  But this year, it’s happening.  And it’s not for Hillary, Donald or any politician.  In fact I am proudly displaying on the rear window of my  expensive (for me) Ford Escape the  decals of 5 different universities where my grandchildren are currently enrolled or graduated.    I am inordinately proud that my children are contributing to the future welfare of this country by furthering the education of their children in spite of the crippling expense.  So Kudos, Kids!  Six more to go!

September 23, 2016

Good old days.  Bring em back.

 

Or on the other hand,  these new devices, the phone, the computer, the cars, are they too smart for their own good?  Are they outsmarting themselves?  In the period of one day, my daughter’s new car reported the tire pressure was low, mandating a trip to the garage where after a complete check up, nothing was found.  That same afternoon my son’s phone kept going in and out while mine played the now familiar trick of sending the incoming call directly to voice mail. 

Now granted it might be better to be informed of a potential flat tire rather than, as in the old days, you go out in the morning only to find it a done deal.  But I never had any trouble with calls fading away with the old wired up phone.  Nor did they ever fail to deliver the voice of the caller, no matter what. 

The old typewriter never suddenly deleted whatever I had just typed.  It worked whether I was connected on line or even plugged in.

Suddenly I miss the old Corona, little black carrying case with silver flip fastener and all.

September 16, 2016

Progress .  What Is It?

 

               If I live much longer, I’m going to be the only person on the planet who remembers the dial phone.  You know where you find the hole with the number in it, insert your finger and pull the dial around until it hits the little silver thingy, then remove the finger, wait until the dial goes back, find the second number, insert the finger again, repeat repeat.  Luckily most numbers were only four  digits long.  CUMBERSOME!

                Or the manual typewriter.  Stick the paper behind the roller, turn the knob until it pops up in front, bang the correct key so the little metal hammer jumps out onto the ribbon which then imprints the paper. Keep going until the bell rings, then yank the silver handle all the way over to the left to start another line.   And beware of making a mistake.    There was no turning back.

                Or my mother telling HER mother that there was no more need to slam the heavy flat iron onto the wrinkled clothes because now they had electric irons that heated themselves.  And this is the same woman (my Nana) who hauled water in buckets up the hill to the kitchen from the well and churned her own butter by hand. 

                So the smart phone nowadays knows all the phone numbers and does all the work for you with a little tap.  The word processor and printer, again, require only the lightest touch. And as for the ironing, what is it anyway?  My daughter doesn’t even own an iron.

                And this explains why we have to go to the gym for exercise, why we’re out running our hearts out in marathons  or playing  pickle  ball to keep in shape.  The daily life that was once a physical work out has morphed to nothing.  

                I guess it’s progress.  But you gotta wonder.

September 9, 2016

Chain Saw Power

 

I am emboldened.

I am woman.  Hear me roar.

I have chain saw power.

Tree limbs fall.  Dead branches disintegrate.

Paths are cleared.  Bushes pruned.

I am woman.  Hear me roar.

Oh, and pass the band aids.

September 2, 2016

CAPITALS SHOUT! AMAZE!

Hummingbirds cannot walk or hop.  Their tiny feet (and I have seen them up close and they ARE TINY) facilitate their distance flying and are only good for perching on very small branches and for scratching.

Hummingbirds weigh less than a nickel.

Their wings flap 50 to 200 times per SECOND!

The ruby throated hummingbird flies 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico NON STOP!

WOW! (redundant amazement)

August 26, 2016

Olympic Event

 

                All last week I sporadically  watched  the Olympics, mostly the prime time running and swimming.  Where and when were the equestrians?  The discus? The rowing?  All those medals!  So how about an event anyone could qualify for?  How about sitting?

                Oh yes.  I’m good at that.  I could go for the couch sitting.  The approach.  The landing.  The dismount!  There could be different apparatus  rotations.  The chair, the porch swing, the bar stool.  Or varied venues, like sitting on the fence or on the wall.  How about a sit in?  Or just sitting out? Let’s face it.  For retirees, sitting is practically a 24/7 occupation.  I’m going for the gold!

 

August 19, 2016

Newsworthy

 

Not only is the nightly news mostly bad – fires, floods, riots, shootings and crazy Presidential candidates – but the ads inbetween are just as depressing.  They try to sell me something for my constipation, diarrhea, muscle aches and pains,  sleep deprivation, erectile dysfunction, headache, dry eyes and over active bladder, just to name a few.

                I would really like to see some ads trying to sell me something cheerful,  something I would really be motivated to buy, like a lovely bouquet of flowers, a good book, music, a trip to the Bahamas.  How about a one  minute commercial promoting fun games for the family, a comfortable chair, a walk in the park? (Oh, okay, that one is probably free)..  Let’s hear the music and famous celebrity selling jewelry, bicycles or a sure fire best seller . . . Chocolate Cake! 

                On with a Commercial Revolution!  Then we could all leave the nightly news a little happier!

August 12, 2016

It’s Going To Be Okay!

 

                I had the privilege of spending five days with some members of the next generation, namely my children and grandchildren.  I’m relieved to report that they do not spend their lives with their noses in their phones, texting their friends ,  playing Pokemon , unable to write cursive or distinguish between “your” and “you’re.”  In fact, at a recent gathering, they were tossing a football, sitting around and TALKING!, sketching, playing badminton, picking up trash, not making it, and generally being really nice people.  (Okay, a little bias here I’ll admit)

                They all had phones which they used to supply music, fact check opinions and information and take pictures.  And a further benefit to being part of modern technology – someone set up a link in which all the pictures could be seen and everyone could add his own pictures.  So we had an instant record of grandparents, hoverboard thrills, softball game casualties, aunts, uncles, cousins, first, second or once removed and old friends. Wow.

                So let that other candidate whose name rhymes with Chump rant and rave how our country is going to the dogs.  I’m here to say we are in the hands of a next generation who are thoughtful, smart, well informed and positive.  Phew!  We’re going to be okay.


August 5, 2016

The Wild Ones

Do hummingbirds have personalities?  Evidently.  I always thought they were people friendly, but this year the one bird that comes around the feeder, takes a look at me and darts away.  I think he comes back when I’m not there, because the nectar is definitely going down.   Anyhow, life among the wild is interesting.  It’ll  get more interesting when the real wild ones come back from summer break and Miami starts up again in a few weeks.

And BTW,  (and this really is the last word) let me be one of the first to predict that Donald Trump will drop out of the race.  He would never tolerate being a LOSER.


July 29, 2016

One last word

                The  last word from me about Donald Trump.  He describes his lying as “truthful hyperbole.”  Wrong Donald.  There is nothing truthful about  hyperbole.  In other words, an oxymoron, with the emphasis on MORON.

July 22, 2016

THIS IS PROGRESS!

 

               

Let’s see.  Over two thousand years ago, Vergil wrote “Omnia vincit amor.”  “Love conquers all.”  And we’re just now discovering that?

July 15, 2016

Poke  a what?

 

The scene; my porch and the sidewalk in front.

The players; me on the porch swing and three middle school age kids.

The dialogue.  Nothing.

The action;  kids walk slowly up the walk, phones in hand.  One kid turns and walks away.  The other two briefly consult, but mainly look at phones continually.

Question;  What is the matter with kids these days?

Answer; POKEMON GO !

July 8, 2016

America.  Hang in There!

 

With all the depressing things going on  -- explosions in the Middle East, shootings in Chicago, gridlock in Washington, name calling on the campaign trail (Stop it, Donald), it was such an uplifting Fourth of July .  In spite of the rain and cold, the American spirit goes on!  What a treat to see so many young people, all decked out in patriotic colors, flags and bunting.   Our local parade  still flourishes and lines up in front of my house.  Girl Scouts, United Way, horses with carriages, horses with riders, and the Senior Center Float, adorned with gray heads and white heads, lots of red white and blue hats and banging on pots and pans, ringing cow bells and playing kazoos. That particular float goes past my house, they wave, I wave.  Then five minutes later, they go past again.  Oops.  Forgot where to go?

                Hooray for the Red White and Blue!  Now all we need is a woman president.  Go Hillary!

               

July 1, 2016

Squawk!

 

GENIUS OF BIRDS by Jennifer Ackerman contains more than any sane person would want to know about birds. From the chapter “Four Hundred Tongues” we learn that Thomas Jefferson had a pet mockingbird that sang to him at night.  Birds “hoot, yodel, caw, wail, rattle, chit, seet and sing like angels.”  A syrinx, a structure with cartilage and two membranes that vibrate with air flow, embedded deep in a bird’s throat, is responsible.   Some species can contract and relax these tiny vocal muscles with submillisecond precision -- more than a hundred times faster than the blink of a human eye. 

                 Some birds can manipulate the organ to imitate human speech.  A bullfinch was trained to sing “God Save the King”.   A gray catbird could sound taps. And after weeks of silence, a parakeet spoke his first words,” Talk, damn you, talk!”

June 24, 2016

Cleveland,  Fashion Capital of . . .

 

I have been watching basketball games all my adult life as a parent , beginning with 6th grade girls, high school varsity, 6th grade boys and junior high boys.  So I have some idea  what is happening on the court.  I know all about the pick and roll, and I know how to get to downtown. I hadn’t watched a professional basketball game for at least a year, though,  until last week when I just had to watch Game 7 and the imminent triumph of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Oh my goodness.  First of all, what awful colors for a team.  Black and orange?  Halloween?  And why are some guys wearing knee socks?  And some,  what appears to be panty hose?   All those terrible tattoos!  And the worst offense to my fashion standards, the silly hairdo of one guy, who seems to have asked the barber to cut his hair so he’ll resemble a poodle.  Oh dear.

                But no matter.  Cleveland won a title after 50 years of drought.  Now on to the Republican Convention.  Can’t wait. Not that Republicans will show any diversity or imaginative hair dos.  The best we can hope for are some silly straw hats like Minnie Pearl’s.

June 17, 2016

Freedom, Our Inalienable Right

 

I hope I am repeating what is being said all over the country after the Orlando massacre.  This is America.  We have many freedoms, one of which is freedom of religion.  This means one is free to be a radical Christian or a radical Muslim if one so chooses..  What one is not free to do is murder.  That’s why we have laws. 

And surely it would help if one is a little less free to buy an assault weapon.  You need a license to drive a car (a potential deadly weapon), to carry a pistol.  You need a permit to purchase certain drugs, to go hunting, to build a house or to own a dog.  Certainly we should ask some sort of background check  or permit for those who would buy assault weapons. After all, what are you going to do with an AK 47?  Not hunting squirrels, not target practice, not self- defense.  It’s for ASSAULT, something that happens usually on the battle field.

If only Congress had some guts.  The  law that recently lifted the assault weapon ban was voted for overwhelmingly by Republicans.  Even their idol Ronald Reagan said that assault weapons should be banned. 

So vote, people. And vote for sensible, patriotic American Democrats.

June 10, 2016

Good Lord!  What’s Next?

 

So!  I who have lived through beer pong tournaments, corn hole games, fire pit extravaganzas (let’s burn a bike!) throw the chair in the tree, decorate telephone wires with sneakers, am now facing the latest student craze; throwing knives into large pieces of wood propped up against a wall or fence.  No problem except for the humongous THUMP!  I guess it’s okay except for the potential problem of an errant weapon or a misbegotten murder after a drunken argument.  Anyhow, they’re gone for the summer.  Revel in the uptown parking spaces!  No long lines at Starbucks!  Students!  Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.

June 3, 2016

Back Yard Drama or Epitome of my Evening Entertainment

 

The Scene; back yard cement walk

The Players; 2 skunks, 1 cat, 1 raccoon and yours truly on the other side of the screen door.

The Main Event; 6 pieces of polish sausage

All players arrive virtually at the same time.  Much posturing.  First to leave, the cat, totally outclassed as a wild animal.

Skunk tails up!  You know what that means. Evidently the raccoon knows also, because he is next to retreat.

Skunks win!  This time.

May 27, 2016

Tips for Life

 

What I learned at Knitters  Group this week;

Someone’s husband will come to my house and remove  Windows 10… for a pie.

A baby alpaca is called a cria.

How to shear a sheep, where to send the wool, how to spin it.

It’s okay to dumpster dive.

 

May 20, 2016

Kiddos!  Kiddos!

From the Oxford Press police reports;

Complaints of a noise violation leads officers to a loud party on South Poplar Street.  Student residents are advised of the problem and issued a citation.  An hour later, the loud music having returned, the police come back and give the kid another ticket.  Student, by now fairly well inebriated, complains loudly.  “You just gave me a ticket!  Why do I get another one?”

Late at night, outside an uptown bar, a drunk student falls into the street and the police are called.  Noting the slurred voice, odor of alcohol and the “I’m of age” bracelet, the officer asks to see his ID. Ascertaining that the ID is a fake, the police proceed to bring him to the station and book him.  The kid, seeing that he is about to get a citation, admits to everything and then asks, “Can I have my ID back?”  When being told it will be held for evidence, really dumb kid  remonstrates, “But I need it to get into bars so I can drink with my friends.” 

Oh, duh.  Just graduate, kids.  Leave town and go run for president.

May 13, 2016

LOVEY  DOVEY

 

Mourning doves love to sit together on a favorite branch.  Often for quite a long time.  Kinda like an old married couple.

MD1; Why are you picking at yourself so much?

MD2: I have an itch under my wing.

MD1; Well, stop it.  It’s annoying.

MD2; You’re bobbing your head again, like a common pigeon.

MD1;  I’m trying to see around your fat tail.

MD2;  Here, I’ll turn around so we’re facing the same way.

MD1;  You’re still scratching. 

MD2; What kind of bird are you?  It’s called preening and everybody does it.

MD1:  Not as vigorously as you’re doing.  Stop it.

MD2;  If you don’t stop nagging, I’ll fly to another branch.  Actually, here I go anyway,

MD1;  I’m right behind you.

Flap flap.  Life goes on.

 

MAY 6, 2016

LEARNING ALL THE TIME

 

Things I have learned this week.

Don’t keep your phone on the charger all the time.  It eats energy like a goldfish eats food and eventually swells up and kills itself.  OMG. It happened to me.

My new little flip up phone (related to a flip flop?) replacement, even though quite simple, has a camera, (once again I took a delightful picture of my knee), an internet connection and voice mail.

When there are multiple symbols on a button, it depends on what program you are in.  Need a space bar?  Press the button, even though it’s in the middle of the button #3, and voila!  Same goes for the shift key, even though it’s third in line on button #1. 

The cursor on my new phone is sometimes a blue outline.

When all else fails, get in your car and drive to the nearest Verizon store.

And as for the computer, when your mouse suddenly disappears, or freezes, check your batteries.  New ones will clear it up!

April 29, 2016

You Know of Whom I Speak

 

BOMBAST!  Speech that is pretentious, full of big words signifying nothing.  According to some sources, originating in the German “baum wolle”, a tree wool used for padding or stuffing.  But probably from the  Bombax tree family, a tree known for showy leaves, dried fruit and a woody pulp.  Most unlikely of all, from the ancient Greek  “bombax!” meaning  “ Wonderful!”  “ Marvelous!”

 

April 22, 2016

Spring  or Something has Sprung

 

                My eyesight is definitely weakening.  I like to blame it on allergies, but I confess it is probably old age.  So I look across the street, and I see something colorful where previously there was nothing.  It’s either yellow and red tulips OR, because it is student housing, yellow beer bottles and red paper cups.  I look again.  Oh wait, the mother was visiting yesterday.  OKAY!  Tulips!

April 15, 2016

No Words for This Guy

 

Ted Kruz.  What an idiot.  He comments on New York values.  YOU know what they are, he sneers.  Liberalism, pro abortion, same sex marriage.  Shudder.

New York values.  How about equality for women?  Equal pay for equal work?  How about freedom of religion? How about not having to show your birth certificate to go to the bathroom?  How many times do we have to mention the courage of the first responders on 9/11?

Kruz.  Dangerous.

April 8,2016

The Dumbing Down of Americans

 

I hope this isn’t true, but it would appear that people are losing certain mental capabilities by giving them over to devices such as phones.  If you don’t use it you lose it.

We no longer have to REMEMBER anything,  Phone numbers, addresses, library due dates, birthdays, recipes, the list goes on.

We no longer have to CALCULATE anything.  In fact, why do they even teach math anymore?  I haven’t had to multiply or divide for years.  Long division?  What’s that?

We no longer have to PREDICT anything.  The weather app takes care of that.

We no longer have to WONDER about anything.  Just ask Siri.

And as if we need any more evidence, just look at who’s running for President for the Republican party and who’s voting for them.

Duh.

April  1, 2016,  and this is no joke!

Fly Away, Hat of Kings!

 

So Bernie Sanders, while speaking in Portland Oregon last week, was visited by a sparrow who hopped on the stage and then on the podium, right in front of the senator.  Ah, if only he had hopped on the candidate’s head, snatched off his hat, flew high into the sky and then returned back to replace the hat.  Then we’d know Bernie is the next president for sure because that is exactly what happened to Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome, on his way into the city to claim the throne. “It’s a sign!” yelled his mother, Tanaquil, a renowned prophetess. 

Alas, we’re not fortunate enough to have a renowned prophetess to interpret the behavior of the unfortunate sparrow.  We just have the Donald, the polls, the media pundits and the man on the street to leave us guessing who will be our next king.  And it sure is a guess, still.

March 25, 2016

Spring Cleaning Fever

 

What is it about the warmer weather, the return of the robins and finches, the frantic nest building, Spring Break or the rise of the naked ladies that makes me want to clean the house?  And I do.  I really do.  I even had a professional carpet cleaner in for that white/gray/spotted rug.  Maybe it has something to do with warming of the blood in the veins or thyroid activity.  Or perhaps it’s that I haven’t cleaned since Christmas and the extra daylight hour is revealing a LOT of dust kitties under the bed and a gray covering on the woodwork.  Get out that oil rag and get scrubbing!

March 18, 2016

Woodpecker War

Day One.  I seem to have won the “Mouse in the kitchen” war only to find myself in battle with a woodpecker who is determined to make a sizeable hole in the chimney.  And it turns out that yelling up the flue at the top of my voice, “Ding Dang It!  Get out!” doesn’t seem to be effective

Day Two.  Oh wait.  I’m going to use that threat that’s as old as my children. “ Listen, Woodpecker. Don’t make me come up there!”

Day Three.  Never mind.  I removed the logs, lit a fire starter stick and it burned brightly for a few minutes.  So far so good.  No more woodpecker.

March 11, 2016

I’ll take the plain pine box thanks

 

From e. e. cummings, one of my all favorite poems;

When god lets my body be

From each brave eye shall sprout a tree

Fruit that dangles therefrom

The purpled world will dance upon

Between my lips which did sing

A rose shall beget the spring . . .

My strong fingers beneath the snow

Into strenuous birds shall go

My love walking in the grass

Their wings will touch with her face

And all the while shall my heart be

With the bulge and nuzzle of the sea.

 

Great idea, ideally and poetically.  Unfortunately, some enterprising entrepreneur has devised and is selling a body bag (insert body in fetal position) to be planted with a tree seed. Voila!  The tree sprouts “from each brave eye . . .” I don’t think so.  Ick.  Gross.  Not quite ready for that.

 

 

March 4, 2016

Trump, Strumpet and Thumpers Win!

And what are we going to do for entertainment once the election is over?  Oh, I get it.  With Trump in the White House we can look forward to impending nuclear war, the KKK standing guard  at the Washington Monument, a swim suit garbed first lady.   The mind boggles.

February 26, 2016

The Moveable Vacuum Cleaner

The house across the street is a  large, early twentieth century design, once owned by the mill’s owner, then his daughters and now occupied by student renters.  Last year its sign was a ritzcracker box and, well, duh,  entitled “The Ritz.”  No sign this year, just an inflated plastic owl implanted on the roof of the porch, probably by the kid who regularly ran out onto the lawn throwing shoes, beer cans or whatever at the birds.  New this year is an upright vacuum cleaner sitting on the front porch since November at least.  Finally today, someone picked up all the other stuff…broken table and chairs, beer cans galore, red plastic cups, odds and ends of scrap lumber used for the snow fort, now melted into oblivion. This action is possibly connected to the arrival of an older man armed with a tape measure and shovel. He walked around, dug a few holes and then left.   The mystery is not him, however,  but the movement of the vacuum cleaner , not to go inside to maybe clean the house?  But no, it is now sitting out in the middle of the lawn.  Solo.

 

February 19, 2016

February.  Let’s Omit It.

February’s (okay, what’s the plural of February  -- Februaries? Februarys?}  Anyhow, more than one February, actually, all the months of February, well, really, every February I have ever lived through has not been my favorite month.  Despite the groundhog’s prediction, winter seems to be hanging on.  The hawk just landed in the tree outside my window as I type, and is proceeding to viciously eviscerate a starling.  The woodpecker  attacked my chimney and a shower of soot flakes came down the  flue and out onto the floor.  On the positive side, the kids across the street managed to build (with the help of many recycling bins) a snow fort out of 2 inches of snow,  which is now slowly melting away. 

Anyhow, what should be the shortest month inevitably seems to be the longest. Let Spring arrive! Soon!

February 12, 2016

The Fully Functioning Wastebasket.  A Saga.

 

So this is my world.  New automatic opening, infra red doohickey, wastebasket arrives by FedEx.  I install four new batteries.  Nothing.  I wave my hand per insttructions. Nothing.  I turn it on.  I turn it off.  Nothing.  I put in a new plastic liner (like I know that’s not the trouble, but it’s something I can do).  More nothing.  I take old, non functioning wastebasket, relieve it of its batteries, put them in the new.  Voila!  Lights flash, lids open and close!  Hurray.  So I take out batteries and return them to old basket and again install new batteries in the new basket.  Suddenly the old basket turns on and starts opening its lid.  So now I have two wastebaskets, fully functioning. Go figure.

Which all makes as much sense as Trump and Sanders.

February 4, 2016

A Total Blank

 

Things I’ll probably never understand;

Why the moon moves around in the sky.

A dominant fifth.

Childbirth.

Republicans.

January 29, 2016

A Taxing Job and Joke

 

Tax preparation time.  Time to get out last year’s and rethink.   Time to recalculate.  Time to make a list as to how I’m going to spend my refund.  Time to get out Turbo Tax for 2015 and install.  Just do it.

And to lighten the load, here’s one of my all time favorite jokes, by way of Roger Angell;

Teacher; Good morning, class.  This is the first day of school and we’re going to introduce ourselves.  I’ll call on you, one by one, and you can tell us your name and maybe what your dad or mom does for a living. You please, over at this end.

Small boy; My name is Irving and my dad is a mechanic.

Teacher; A mechanic! Thank you, Irving.  Next?

Small girl; My name is Emma and my mom is a lawyer.

Teacher; How nice for you, Emma.  Next?

Second small boy;  My name is Luke and my dad is dead.

Teacher;  O, Luke!  How sad for you.  We’re all very sorry about that, aren’t we, class?  Luke, do you think you could tell us what Dad did before he died?

Luke (seizes his throat); He went “N’gungghhh!”

 

January 22, 2016

A Frightening Forecast

 

Remember “Sharknado”?  When instead of a tornado, sharks fell out of the sky, wreaking havoc and destruction? 

Enter a new word, “curzado”.  A form of currency used in Brazil in the late 18th century.  But eerily akin to “Cruznado”, a word I just made up, describing the national political climate and the presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who seems to be falling from the sky in frightening frequency and causing havoc with reason and destruction of the truth.  He recently asserted that President Obama wants to take away your guns and Planned Parenthood should be defunded.  Not to mention his denial of climate change, his opposition to same sex marriage or his willingness to bomb the Middle East.

Oh well.  On to Trumpnado, an even more scary phenomenon.


January 15, 2016

Happiness is . . .

 

Happiness is a warm puppy?  I don’t think so .  It might be warm because it needs to be housebroken, not to mention obedience training, the constant feeding and poop scooping.

Happiness at this stage of my life is

1. grandchildren’s honors, awards, accomplishments, performances.

2.  a fire that burns with hardly any poking, tending, blowing or crackling embers falling  onto the floor.

3.  a woodpecker at the feeder.  Likewise a tufted titmouse or a wren that sings.

4.  remembering where I put something.

5.  knees that bend.

6.  a good book.

7.  Oh, did I mention a Beefeater martini???

 

January 8, 2016

Executive Orders.  Hooray!

 

Being home all day affords me the privilege of watching live press conferences and events.  So I’m very grateful to have been able to watch President Obama give a reasoned, intelligent, moving speech describing the executive order toward sensible and much needed gun control measures. Obama For President Forever!  And if not, then Hillary!

                Future executive orders; 

1. Limit presidential campaigns to six months and one thousand dollars for everything.

2.  Fix the tax code and close the loopholes so rich people pay their share. 

3.  With the money saved, pay for higher education for everyone.

 

And BTW, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order.


December 31, 2015

For Auld Lang Syne

Happy New Year!

 

One of my favorite movies -- right up there with “Gone With the Wind” and “Little Women” –  “The Sound of Music”  appeared on TV again last week, just in time for Christmas.  Who can forget “Doe a Deer”, “Edelweiss” or ”The Hills all abound with the sound of music”?  This movie has it all;  family, music, love, politics, freedom, children and sewing clothes out of curtains!  Been there!

                I, for one, am glad 2015 is over. Too much stress on my house, on my knees, my back, my sciatic nerve. On to 2016!  And if Donald Trump is our next president and Hillary is not, I’m packing up and moving to Canada.

               

December 25, 2015.  Merry Christmas!

Islam is not a dirty word

 

                After living through a season of Christian carols, church anthems and an occasional Jewish song, it occurs to me that something is missing.  Music from Islam.  I know they have some because I googled it and then heard a high school choir perform it on UTube.

                In this day and age, I’m pretty sure that if our high school started singing Islamic songs at their Spring Concert, someone in the audience would stand up, cite the second amendment, and shoot the music director. But surely, in a quiet and non confrontational way, our children should be exposed to music from other faiths.  Just a thought.

December 18, 2015

THOREAU WOULD BE PROUD

 

                I’m getting rid of almost all my Christmas decorations and accoutrements. 

The paper maiche angel head, the size of a football.

A glass Rudolph.

A red and green stuffed Elf.

One window candle powered by one battery that lasted one day.

A red and white stuffed Santa.

Spool of gold ribbon stiffened with wire.  About 13 inches left.

Gold string.

A stuffed angel in the guise of a teacher.

Ceramic snowman covered in glitter.

Cluster of paper maiche bells that do not ring.  They just clunk.

All going in a box for Goodwill.  I’m reduced to fresh greenery from the Farm Market and window lights. Much better.  Yeah. 

December 11, 2015

No Fly, No Buy

 

I’m so fed up.  Right after the San Bernardino shooting, Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House, gets on CNN and starts talking about “it’s really a mental health issue.”  Then “let’s all step back and give it some time” and finally “we have to think about the constitutionality.”  What baloney.  The issue needs to be addressed now.  No more waiting and reflecting.  We’ve been doing that for years. The constitution has nothing to do with the problem and mental health is only a minor factor.  It’s guns, people.  Assault weapons.  We used to have a ban on them.  Let’s bring that back.  Soon.

Hillary - yes, the one and only presidential candidate in the race – said it right.  If we can have a list of people who cannot FLY, then we can have a list of people who cannot BUY assault weapons. Period.

So then our legislators in Washington introduce a law defunding Planned Parenthood and Repealing the Affordable Care Act.  Good legislating you numbskulls.  That’s not making laws, that’s destroying laws. Sheeese. 

December 4, 2015

Grandpa Steve

 

Last week there was a National Geographic special “Saints and Strangers” about the Mayflower Pilgrims (I suppose for Thanksgiving) featuring our Great (8) grandpa Steven Hopkins so I felt kinda obligated to watch it. I held on for about 20 minutes of crying, weeping, suffering, raining, Indians! Savages wearing threatening feathers! Arrows! More suffering!  This is entertainment?  Had to turn it off.  Sorry Grandpa Steve!  You’re history!

November 27, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving.. I be cooking.

November 20, 2015

The Art of Speaking Smart

Yes.  You want people to think you are saying something important, something true, accurate and worthy of attention;

                Squint. Pause.  Lower your voice and speak slowly.

Or, as my education professor used to do, speak slowly and very deliberately even though  you  really have nothing to say.  Your listeners will slowly glaze over, fidget, or drift away.

November 13, 2015

TIME MARCHES ON

 

Daylight Saving Time ends.  Now it’s dark early.  Time to adjust the outside light.  The first frost last night.  The geraniums are really finished now.  Red, orange and brown leaves float down and clutter the driveway, walks and gutters.  Hummingbirds and robins gone.  Woodchuck comes nosing around and chipmunk fills his cheeks with peanuts and scurries away to his stash under the garage eave. Walmart has opened up its Christmas Shoppe and we’re talking Thanksgiving dinner.

Time for the first fire. Yeah!

November 6, 2015

Halloween Rant

 

I’m going through the check out line at Kroger’s on October 31,  and the bagger says “Are you having a nice Halloween?” and I smile and automatically say “Sure” but in my heart I’m saying “Are you nuts?” And then today it happened again, and someone on Facebook says “Did you have a Happy Halloween?”

Is Happy Halloween like Merry Christmas?  I don’t even celebrate Halloween.  When you are getting frighteningly close to death, you really are not in the mood to celebrate it.  And why does everyone dress in in a scary costume, and spend tons of money on decorations meant to conjure up ideas of fright,  ghosts, spectral monsters, vampires and werewolves ?  Isn[t life in reality scary enough?

What kind of holiday is this when you encourage children to go around begging and then threatening  and then you succumb and give them stuff  with absolutely no nutritional value that will corrode their teeth and make them fat?

Bah! Humbug to Halloween, Sweetest Day, and Daylight Saving Time.  God forbid we start saying “Merry Veterans Day” or “Happy Bring Your Daughter to Work Day”

Enough already.

October 30, 2015

Carpe Diem

 

Because of my high blood pressure, my health professionals warn that I could go at any moment.  The silent killer , it’s called.   Well, in that case, at 78 …Decision Time. 

KRISPY KREME DONUT ANYTIME YOU WANT!  GRAETER’S MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM RIGHT OUT OF THE CARTON! POUR THAT REAL BUTTER ON THE POP CORN!  NO MORE LO CALORIE ANYTHING. 

Carpe Diem.

October 23, 2015

Feeling the Bern

Okay, everyone.  Politiciians, news people, congressmen and women, candidates, voters, people of all ages.  Let’s take a deep breath and stand back.  Now.  Instead of blaming Bush for 9/11, Hillary for Benghazi, or anything else insane, how about thinking about how we can make this country better, safer and fairer?  Could we start with controlling the gun population (background checks for all sales), the people population (funding for planned parenthood and the maintenance of clinics for the poor and needy women especialy in Texas) and attention paid to the mentally ill everywhere? Let’s think forward, not backward.  Let reason prevail. I’m feeling the Bern.

October 16, 2015

It’s Greek to Me

 

Hubris; excessive pride in defiance of the gods.  Do we think we can do a better job at making a human body beautiful? Better than Mother Nature? Or God? Or Whoever? 

I see limbs totally disfigured with tattoos, beautiful hair discolored with dyes, noses,  ears and tongues enhanced with metal jewelry and pierced with fake gems.

The ancient Greeks knew beauty. They made statues of the human body as they saw it, unadorned (except for a fig leaf or two) and let it shine.  They  also invented hubris and had a healthy respect for it.  Let this be a lesson.

October 9, 2015

Get Smart, People

Modest steps to reduce gun violence in America

 

1.  universal background checks

2. tighter regulation of gun dealers

3. 10 year prohibition on possessing guns for anyone convicted of domestic violence, assault or similar offenses

4. weapons that fire only with a PIN or fingerprint

5. microstamping that allows a bullet to be traced back to a particular gun

6. liability insurance for guns, as we do for cars

 

In light of the shootings in Oregon, legislators;  don’t send us your thoughts and prayers.  Send us LAWS.

October 2, 2015

Too Many Days

Last week  we had Daughters Day.   What?  Hallmark has invented another holiday so we can go out and buy a card?  Like Secretaries Day?  Sweetest Day?  Where is Sons Day? How about favorite Librarian Day? Pizza Delivery Guy Day?  Give Me a Break Day?

September 25, 2015

An Age Old Story

 When asked about my age, I used to say, jokingly, “I’m as old as God.”  Well, it turns out,  I’m as old as the pope.  You can’t get much closer than that.

September 18, 2015

Frustrating week without the computer.  No mail, no shopping, tech guys can't seem to show up when they say, always 2 or 3 days off, but finally it's back and I'll be more coherent next week.

September 11, 2015

Perennial Pollyanna

I seem to have tattooed on my forehead “Ignore This Woman”.  And the older I get, the more brazen it becomes.  This summer has been the Age of Ignorius.  First the plumbers, then the excavators and now the computer technicians.  Oh well.  Fuggedaboudit.  I’ll adjust.  On the up side, the grass is growing back, only one boxwood died, I can use the useless disc tray to hold my post it notes and I saved money on the repair.  Always Pollyanna.

Attention Faithful Followers

My computer goes in for repair this week.  So I may not be able to publish.  On the other hand, I may get lucky and have it back by Friday.

September 4, 2015

New Normal

A recent Facebook listing describes a house for sale; older ranch, three bedrooms and one bath.  Wait a sec!  One bath?  Hello!  Try again.  Of all my grandchildren, only two share a bathroom. Everyone else has his own.  And the new apartments going up nearby, each person has his/her own bath.  It’s the new normal.  Along with everyone has a cell phone and you get your social security number when you’re BORN!  Progress.  A good thing.


August 28, 2015

Narcissistic Bloviation

 

Concerning Donald Trump.  From the New York Times, David Axelrod and Maureen Dowd; “He’s won the swimsuit competition.  Now it’s time for the talent show.”



June 15, 2007

“Keep the Headlights Burning, and Both Hands Upon the Wheel; Let Me Call You Sweetheart, I’m In Love With Your Automobile”

In the latest No. 1 Ladies’Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith Mma Ramotswe describes Botswana; “somewhere there, in that land of red earth, of green acacia, of cattle bells, was the soul of her country.”

     So I’m wondering, what is the soul of OUR country? Apple pie? Mom? Freedom and Democracy? No, I’m inclined to think it’s the automobile. We destroy the landscape to accomodate it, we spend billions to create highways so we can drive it somewhere, five story parking garages take up whole city blocks, we build a three car garage and then, oh yeah, a house behind it.  In my case, my car payment is larger than the mortgage payment, I spend as much time keeping it clean and spiffy as I do myself (check ups, special diet) and my city has an ordinance that you must pave over your lawn so the students have a place to park.

     People!  Come to your senses! Go take a hike!  Take the kids on a picnic!  Visit a national park!  Of course, you’ll have to drive to get there.


June 8, 2007

MYOB/Mind Your Own Business

Why are we so uptight about Iran having nuclear capability?  We ourselves have plenty of nuclear energy.  Who are we to say they cannot?

Iran: We’re only producing nuclear energy.

World: Okay, we believe you.  Proceed.

Iran: Oh!  Guess what? Now we have a nuclear bomb and . . .

World: And what? You’re a liar?

Iran: We’re going to bomb Israel.

World: Hello!  Twenty-first century here!  We all know what the fallout, both physical and economic, would be if you actually dropped the bomb.  Radiation drifting over all the Middle East, including yourselves, and what’s more WORLD CLASS SHAME!  We think NOT.

Iran: Oh. OK.



June 1, 2007

Remembering Memorial Day

The first Memorial Day honored the soldiers who died in the Civil War and this year, ironically, we’re honoring those who have died fighting in someone else’s civil war.

 But what matters is that we remember those who have died.  And this is not an original idea. I happen to be reading the Odes of Horace, from the first century B.C. who writes about honoring those who have died on the battlefield or from forces of Nature. And what is even more mind boggling is that Horace, way before electricity, telephones, cars or computers and had thoughts so universal.

“aequa lege Necessitas

sortitur insignis et imos,

omne capax movet urna nomen.”

“Fate with an even hand

chooses the high and the low.

The all encompassing urn touches every name.”

Or, in modern lingo, “None of us will get out of this alive.”

And so I celebrated Memorial Day, like all good Americans,...and went shopping.




May 25, 2007

David Letterman’s Federal Bureau of Miscellaneous Information

The human brain is 80% water.

Harry Truman would often go on vacation and have his twin Larry take his place.

Global warming is due to a batch of faulty thermometers.

Zorro can slash the numeral “2”.  Or an “N” lying down.

The Book of Leviticus contains a recipe for broccoli polenta.

Thomas Mann wrote DEATH IN VENICE after being murdered in Italy.

Phil Donahue thinks his show is in hiatus, waiting for new carpeting.

J. Edgar Hoover’s last words were “I’m not dead, don’t close the co—“





May 18, 2007

With apologies to whoever started this;

YOU KNOW YOU’RE FROM OXFORD WHEN

The population is 75% under the age of 25 and they never get any older.

You have homecoming in a gym, prom in a dining hall, high school plays are in a cafeteria and graduation on a basketball court.

People ask you where you live and you reply, “I live in a drinking town with a college problem.”

Everyone knows what “Kill em and hide em “ is.

You, your parents and your grandparents had Mr. Kober in class.

Diversity means bringing in an exchange student from Reily.

Your high school reunion is called “townie night.”


May 11, 2007

Life – the Greatest Show on Earth

A haunting picture from a couple of years ago –a young woman, walking down South College Avenue, tears streaming down her face. And now again, last week, another young woman walking past my house, crying and talking on her cell phone. Does this happen in other towns? Or is it just in a college town, where relationships are fragile or where life is just a little unreal?

     Yesterday, a young man, baseball cap on backwards, plugged into his IPod was seen running rhymthically along the sidewalk on Walnut Street and juggling three balls in the air at the same time.

And then today, last day of the school year and traditionally Moving Out Day, the dogs next door begin to bark and a girl comes sailing down the street in a rolling desk chair, laughing wildly as she twirls around, careening from car to car. I’m almost disappointed that she’s not crying, talking on her cell or juggling.

What a circus life is!



May 4, 2007

No Hits, No Runs, All Errors

I want to make it clear, right up front, that I’m not laughing AT them. I’m not laughing WITH them, either, because they, for the most part, are not laughing. Maybe laughing FOR them, oh, all right, laughing AT them, but they’re so cute.  I’m talking Tee ball.

     We started out with an exhibition game of two innings on the city’s finest ball park with the bases about halfway to the real base. This was fine.  But then came the REAL game on the definitely second rate tee ball diamond -- no bleachers, no bat holders, no shade, actually, no umpire. But let the game begin.

The whole team takes the field.  And since the ball rarely makes it out of the infield, the fielders are placed in a  semi circle behind the bases.  First inning, they’re all ready, squatting in position with “alligator mouth” gloves at the ready.  Every team member bats.  Since it’s four to six year olds, some are decidedly better than others.  No strikes.  They just keep swinging until it’s a hit.  So the four year old, Jack, is fine for one inning.  But then attention starts to wander.  By the second inning, some fielders are sitting down, picking at the grass, or playing with the dirt.  Jack enjoys standing on the bag, jumping up and down, watching the little white puffs.  Our catcher, all suited up and hardly able to bend over, likes to watch the ball come to her.  So as the runners are progressing, she’s standing, glove ready, waiting for the ball to slowly, really slowly, dribble towards her.  All eyes, parents, grandparents, siblings, are fixated on the slow moving ball.  Will it make it to the glove or will it stop?  Or will she take a step forward and pick it up?  Oh, the drama.

They’re all primed to throw to first base. Our first baseman, who by now is more interested in something in right field, is shocked into action by the ball heading his way and as he raises his hand in self defense, the ball takes a bounce and lands plunk in the middle of his glove.  It’s one of the only real catches of the game, and we’re all astonished, especially the first baseman.

There are no outs.  We just keep going through the lineup. Finally in the third inning, a couple of base runners get put out. No one really cares, of course, because no one is counting, either outs or runs. There are no outs by catching fly balls because no one can catch. It’s mostly watching it land in front of you and then falling on it.  There are several tussles when two fielders want the same ball. And of course by the third inning, everyone is tired.  Jack keeps coming to the fence, asking Mandy if it’s time to go home yet.  But, mercifully,  the three innings are over, the ritual lining up and high fiving the other team and then the SNACK!  Jack’s comment on the way home, “It’s too long.”  Will he make it through the summer?  Two games a week. Stay tuned.

    


April 27, 2007

The Blog Doth Break Up

We all know that language is a living entity.  Words are born (blog) and words die (doth).  They also take on new meanings. In my generation,  “party” involved invitations, special food, decorations, balloons, streamers and a time frame, like Friday afternoon from 5 to 7.  That party still exists, of course, but somewhere, just about when our firstborn entered high school, “party” went from a noun to a verb.  He was out “partying”, home by 2 a.m. and sleep til noon.  Now anyone can “party” in the presence of a keg and loud music.

     So it is with “breaking up.”  It used to be that breaking up involved the dissolution of a personal relationship.  That still happens, of course, but now my cell phone can “break up” and last week, my DVR was recording pictures that were out of focus and transmitting composites of unrelated blocks and squares and the helpful Cable Man (on the phone, probably from India) told me it was “breaking up” and proceeded to fix it.

     BTW, my first “break up” happened the night of my Senior Prom.  Are you still alive, Bruce Dalrymple?




April 20, 2007

From David Letterman’s Washington Bureau of Miscellaneous Facts

Two of the Three Dog Night died after eating tainted pet food.

The Hawaian alphabet has only 12 letters.

Seven out of 10 people believe positive thinking extends life.  The other 3 are dead.





April 13, 2007

Bill Who?

    

I saw Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, on CNN last week.  He was in North Korea, trying to get the remains of American soldiers from the Korean War to be returned home.  I was in awe, that here was an American actually talking to the “enemy.”  He was successful and he was asked about the negotiations and he said that he didn’t negotiate with the Koreans because the North Koreans don’t negotiate or even think that way.  FINALLY!  Someone who goes to the trouble to find out how the enemy thinks and is willing to sit down and talk.  Say, isn’t he running for President?




April 6, 2007

From David Letterman’s Federal Bureau of Miscellaneous Information

In addition to X-ray vision, Superman can guess your weight within 5 pounds.

Nine out of ten visitors to Delaware are there as a result of a wrong turn.

One third of the explorers who reached both the North and South Poles developed bipolar disorder.




March 30, 2007

March Madness

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.

Emily Dickinson!  You Go Girl!!







March 23, 2007

What a Trip!

New improvement for long distance driving!  A car that has the middle seat in the back on some kind of device that allows it to move forward so the driver can reach the (presumably) child and give it his bottle, tie his shoelace, slap him on the head for not drinking his V8, adjust his portable CD player, etc. etc.  If only Gareth had had that on his epic nine hour drive from Wisconsin, alone with two little girls who were strapped into their car seats and surrounded by boxes of toys. Picture this indomitable father, stuck in Chicago traffic, driving with one hand and holding a picture book with the other, reading to the kids in the back seat! and this was before the CD player!

     Beep beep beep!  Back up 35 years and picture a family of seven, jammed into a station wagon, on a twelve hour drive to Grandma’s, no air conditioning, no entertainment except the car radio, and that same little boy in the “way back”, carefully tossing what few toys we had and various shoes out the rear window which was open a crack in spite of the carbon monoxide poisoning because we had to have AIR.

     How did we survive?




March 16, 2007

      Useless But True Things I’ve Learned This Week

You can grow lettuce in nothing but water and a few pills.

When Paul Revere rode through the countryside, he did not yell “The British are coming!” but instead he cried “The Regulars are Out!”

The North Star is not always the same.

A widgeon is not related to a pigeon but is actually a DUCK!


March 9, 2007

              Daylight Saving...Say it isn’t so!

My first hint was when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw on  the High School sign the words “Daylight Saving” and I thought it was some joke or dreadfully bad timing. But that night Katie Couric included it in the news and sure enough, it is this weekend. What nincompoop in Congress decided to change Daylight Saving Time to March? 

     What, pray tell, is the point? So we can shovel snow in the daylight? Turning off all the lightbulbs in the country an hour earlier is not going to solve the energy problem. It’s heating that takes energy. If moving the date earlier meant it gets warmer sooner, that would be great.   

And why wasn’t I told about it? So I run to my calendars, and there it is.  Someone obviously told THEM. The big question now...has anyone told my computer? my DVR? my cell phone?





March 1, 2007

Top Ten Signs of Spring, Finally

10. Racoon has returned

9. Neighbor who goes to Florida for the winter has also returned

8. Ice cap on my patio is receding.

7. Tanning beds are filled to capacity with Miami students getting ready for Spring Break (what happened to the idea that you go to Florida to GET tanned?)

6. Flip flops and shorts are back on the street.

5. Grackles have returned (robins, the traditional harbinger of Spring have been here all winter).

4. Easter Bunny pictures in catalogues.

3. Wood pile is diminishing.

2. Rain, not snow.

And the number one sign of Spring;

GREEN BEER DAY!!




February 23

Ouch!

Did I say winter was beautiful? Hellooo! Well, yes, it is beautiful, but after a week of single digit cold and 8 inches of snow compounded by 2 inches of solid ice, all I can say is, winter hurts.  

     My joints hurt when it’s cold, my shoulder hurts from all that shoveling, my back hurts from the snow blower which, by the way, does NOT work on ice. I’m tired of the ten minute ritual of getting ready to go out and the twenty minute ritual of taking everything off, cleaning up the salt, drying the mittens and boots, and on and on.

     Up further north, Molly was home from school for a whole week and in her pajamas for three days. While further south, I can hear the Floridians chortling.

     The good news. Southern Ohio winters don’t last more than a few weeks and 40 degrees are predicted by Monday. The birds are busier and more prolific than ever. I saw a beautiful mockingbird yesterday, and a huge black crow. In winter I can see the birds more easily, and there’s nothing like a bright red cardinal on a snowy branch. So I guess the good news outweighs the bad. And . . . it is beginning to melt.

    




February 16, 2007

Incident at the Pearly Gates

St. Peter is standing at the Pearly Gates.  Along comes a man with a shock of unruly white hair who says he’s Albert Einstein. St. Peter says, “Do you have any identification?”  Einstein says, “No, but here . . .” and he pulls out paper and pencil and begins to scribble equations. St. Peter takes one look and says, “I’m convinced. Go on in.”

     Along comes a man who says he’s Picasso. St. Peter says, “Do you have any identification?” Picasso says, “No, but . . .” and he pulls out a drawing pad and proceeds to make sketches of his work.  “I’m convinced”, says St. Peter. “Go on in.”

     Along comes George W. Bush. “I’m George W. Bush” he says. “Do you have any identification?” asks St. Peter. “I had to ask Einstein and Picasso for theirs.”

     “Who’s Einstein? Who’s Picasso?”

     “I’m convinced,” says St. Peter. “Go on in.”


February 9, 2007

Eureka!

     Aha!  Now I get it!  It’s the age old problem – real men don’t ask for directions.  George W!  Hello!  You be lost!  Ask for directions!  and then follow them!



February 2, 2007

HUGE MISTAKES

Starting an afghan consisting of 25 squares and completing nine, seven of which are different sizes, colors and just FORGET IT!

Ordering from a catalogue a $400 lamp that looks nice but because of a design flaw, after being on for more than five minutes, reaches a temperature close to the boiling point and has to be turned off using an oven mitt.

Spending $3 on a leather fly swatter, hand tooled by a Native American with original design, a lovely piece of leather attached to a natural tree twig and utterly useless; by the time the leather hits the wall, the fly is halfway to Mexico.

“W”





January 26, 2007

 

Pick a title;

Remotely disconnected

Not even remotely competent

Remotely impaired

Panic button disease

Picture this; I’m sitting on the floor in front of my TV, VCR and Cable DVD Box, surrounded by three  multi-paged manuals written in at least three languages, none of which are in an English I comprehend, and holding three remote controls, all powered by two AAA batteries (I can do that) and somehow causing my TV to go completely snowcovered with the accompanying BLAAHHHHHH.

After an hour of button pushing, remote control shaking, heart stopping frustration, i.e. nothing, I call my friendly Cable Guy, who very patiently has me running around the house (thank goodness for my cordless phone) checking other TV’s, going to my TV and actually pushing buttons on the console (I’ve never done that before), now do this, now do that, wait a minute, what does this display say, do I have the time? press this, press that, then VOILA! It’s all fixed.

     So I gather up the manuals, retire two of the remotes to the electronics closet and vow never to push another button in desperation again.  Or at least until tomorrow.



January 19, 2007

Global Warming?

     Where is the snow?  Nothing but snow showers this year?  This is pathetic. Teachers and students are disappointed, waiting for their snow day, and my new snow blower is gathering dust. Can we blame “W” for this?





January 12, 2007

TOP TEN CATEGORIES

10. Books I’m sorry I bought.

9. Stupid things I’ve done. (Oh, much too large.)

8. Things I have thrown through a window I thought was open but was actually closed. (Probably too small.)

7. Meals I’ll never make again.

6. Meals I’ll make at least once a week.

5. People crossed off my Christmas list. (Ooh, that’s an ugly one.)

4. Seinfeld episodes that are classic.

3. Lists I wish I wasn’t on.

2. Places I’ll never go on vacation again. (Las Vegas?)

And the number one category;

1. Ways to waste time. And in that category, Top Ten Categories!




Happy New Year, January 4, 2007!

Grandogs and Grandcats

Even though I really don’t care for dogs (the slobber, the smell, the pleading, servile expression) my grandogs are inexplicably attracted to me and attempt to climb into my lap even though some are 100 plus pounds.  I actually like my grandogs, probably because I don’t have to feed them or attend to their business. And they go home.

     My grandcats are less friendly, of course, being cats, and my memory of a grandcat is Charlie (or Chester, or Arthur), who resented my presence in his house and kept leaving little protest deposits all around the house while I was occupying the guest room.  Sorry, Charlie!




December 29, 2006


              
Christmas Tree Thoughts

My Dad’s job was to go get the tree, and he never mastered the art of picking out a good one; it was too skinny, too fat, it was crooked, lopsided, too small, too big. But we’d put it up anyway and proceed to decorate it; too much angel hair, too many orange lights, tinsel not arranged artfully, too much ARGUING!

     When I finally got married and got my own tree, it was a lot easier. Brit was good at picking out trees.  But every year he would proudly announce the purchase of one more really ugly ornament. Big, glitzy, silver shiny blobs...oh well. When he left, I promptly gave all the ornaments to the kids.

   So now my perfectly shaped tree arrives from North Carolina by UPS in a box the size of an elongated umbrella stand.  I set it up in its own stand, decorate it with oldfashioned lights and homemade cookies and wooden ornaments perfected by a local craftsman.

     I really thought I had finally reached Christmas Tree Nirvana until I read the accompaning letter which stated the tree was 15 years old.  Uh oh. I’ve caused the death of a teen ager?  So I have constructed a rational that I hope will ease my conscience. This tree, which would have spent it’s natural life on a boring tree farm, brings joy and happiness and beauty to everyone in my living room and beyond for a month. Then it provides cover for the birds in my back yard until it completely dies in the summer. And as a final service, it is chopped up and used for kindling all the next winter. Thanks, Fraser!


 

December 21, 2006


 

Ode to My Leather Jacket

Laytex and banlon, nylon and vertex

Polyester, acrylic, down and spandex

Fleece, pile and vortex, duck down and more

Acetate, plush lining, and velvet velour;

Warmest coat I’ve ever been in?

Animal skin.



Litter, All Over Again

Our esteemed Oxford City Council is considering legislation that would ban outdoor Beer Pong, a current college craze that involves cups of beer on a table on the  outside porch, and the inevitable litter, not to mention drunken kids. Of course it’s ridiculous.  Students will drink somehow and soon there’ll be some other game, just as, if not more, obnoxious.  We have ordinances against public intoxication and littering, so what else is new?

In fact, nothing.  When I arrived here in 1965, Mr. M___ (I have learned not to name names) had a house on Sycamore St. that was completely filled with broken TV’s and radios.  A WWII vet, he spent his time with electronic repairs.  We had a small, black and white TV and at one point it stopped, so we brought it over. By that time the old covers, shells of their former life, electrical inner workings, tubes, cords, were spilling out onto his porch.

He had an unusual method of doing business. He couldn’t bring himself to say he couldn’t repair it.  Instead he would lend you a working TV and you never saw your own again.  Whose we were really watching was always a mystery.  Possbily someone was watching ours.

Then we did without a TV for a while, until the Watergate Hearings, and we called Mr. M____ to rent one.  No problem.  The problem came when we were done and wanted to return it.  He came but wouldn’t take money. “PLEASE!  We’ve had it for two months.  Take $5!   PLEASE!”

Actually he lived in another house a few blocks away, but that one, too, became filled with dysfunctional TV’s which spilled out onto his lawn and the neighbors complained about the litter and there you are.

 

 

December 8, 2006

TO GET READY FOR WINTER

 

Top Ten Things To Do To Get Ready For Winter;

 

10. Have wood delivered and stacked in the garage.

9. Have furnace checked and filter changed.

8. Clean gutters.

7. See that all storm windows are closed tightly.

6. Stock up on bird seed.

5. Unscrew hose and store in in garage.

4. Hang up lawn mower (yeah!)

3. Take in porch swing cushion.

2. Wonder at the shades of gray at night and the billions of black twigs now forming a lacy sky where the green cover used to be.

 

And the number one thing to do to get ready for winter;

 

Check out the fat wrens, the bushy tailed squirrels and wait for the first snowflake.

December 1, 2006

COUGHING, SNEEZING ATTACK

 

     At lunch yesterday in a nice restaurant, my friend was taken with a coughing, sneezing fit, common in Southwestern Ohio because of allergies.  At first we politely ignored her, but as it continued we couldn’t pretend she was all right.  So there followed gestures of sympathy, offers of water, Heimlich manuver? several bad jokes that just prolonged the agony, then embarrassed silence as we endured this unseemly display of dysfunctional bodily functions.

     It sometimes happened to me at school in front of my class, where the choking, gasping, wheezing and sneezing forced me to leave the room. Bewildered students looked at each other. Where is she going? Is she okay? And then they silently sat through the noise, amplified by the emptiness of the hall, really loud, ferocious coughing, spitting, harrumphing, water fountain slurping, bringing teachers out of their rooms, until finally I was cleared and ready to resume. SORRY!

      

 

November 24, 2006

IMBY (In My Back Yard)

 

Things seen in my back yard – my back yard is the size of a large pool table – and not all at the same time.

 

a pair of men’s briefs

beer can

frisbee

sign that says “1/100th of an acre wood” (my contribution)

dead cat (six inches under)

3 feral cats

two squirrel’s tails

robins, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, chickadees, wrens, juncos, red bellied woodpeckers, flickers, crows, tufted titmice,nuthatches, catbirds, thrashers, American redstarts, hooded warblers, cowbirds, finches, grackles, starlings, doves and hawks (ha ha).

oppossum mother and baby

raccoons and babies

meter man

totally strange man running

  

 

November 17, 2006

NOMLRF (not on my living room floor)

 

     After reading THE PLACES IN BETWEEN by Rory Stewart, a young man who walks across Afghanistan and survives in spite of abuse from villagers, threats from the Taliban and other tribal elders, I was amazed that in this day and age there are people who are still isolated, ignorant, unwashed and patheticaly poor.  I am also amazed that this man had no reservations (no hotels) and still found a place to stay every night for a month thanks to the Muslim law that you have to take in a traveler and feed him as well.  While some of the villagers were less than gracious -- he was pelted with stones by little boys and his dog was attacked by other dogs -- he was ultimately never turned away.

     But if you think about it, you don’t have to be a Muslim to not turn away a stranger.  Once, when we had first moved to our house on Spring Street, Brit was taking out the rubbish, and came back inside to announce that an itinerant couple was outside and he had invited them to spend the night on our living room floor because they had no place to stay.  Oxford, in those days, was frequently host to homeless stragglers who were wandering from Indianapolis or some place West, to Cincinnati or some place East.  The Methodist Church often had itinerants sleeping under the stairs.  I, of course, neither Muslim nor charitable, had a fit (they could rob us! kill us! give us germs!) and so Brit drove them to the closest motel and paid for their stay.

     The question is -- whether you live on Park Ave, New York, or in Bath, Indiana, if someone came to your door and said “I need a place to spend the night”, would you let him in?


Auguat 18, 2006

                            Swan Song

 

     I could rant and rave about the heightened homeland security, the humiliating airport routines or man's inhumanity to man.  I could get really mad about how inefficient government is.  Why don't we have a national ID that would get us through airport security like a fast pass at Disney? 

     Or I could seek serenity in the ancient art of towel origami and create a swan for the bathroom...

      The Swan Wins!!!

 


A couple of the ladies are clearly out of step.

August 11, 2006

The Naked Lady Revue

 

     Jack comes running through the house, all excited. "Grammy! Grammy! Your flowers are awake!"

     Ah yes, my favorite August phenomenon, the Naked Ladies!  Amaryllis belladonna are the first to poke their large, flat green leaves through the snows in the spring, who grow so profusely that Black Kitty can hide under the foliage, waiting for a sparrow to fall from the feeder above. Throughout the summer the leaves miraculously disappear, and one day, like yesterday, up come the naked ladies, with tall,green stems and then pink, lily-like flowers, opening every day with more and more flourish.  Today they are all leaning to the right, probably gasping for sunlight, but as if they have their own song and they're dancing with delight. And if for a moment the jays would stop screeching and the humming birds humming, we might hear the Naked Ladies Chorus Line. "On the count of three," sings out the Naked Lady in Charge. "Lean to the left, Ladies!"

 

 

 

August 4, 2006

 

 

 

Backhoes and tractors and trucks! Oh My!

 

 

 

     After eight granddaughters and years of quietly playing house, dressing dolls, coloring and crafts, suddenly I have three grandsons and we're into cars, trucks and how things work.  In a playroom full of dolls, games and American Girl outfits, the boy is more interested in the fan.  How does it turn on?  Off? What an interesting sound it makes! And nobody taught the boys how to run and make noise. They just do it.  I guess that's why "boys" rhymes with "noise" and "girls" rhymes with "pearls" and "curls".

 

 

 

 

July 28, 2006

I'm a genius.

I've just made up a new word and its time has come.  GOOGABLE.  Meaning, "able to be googled."

Is that not perfect or what?  Pencil it into your dictionary!

 

Furthermore, I'm tired of watching people all over the world kill each other with explosives, artillery, pistols, rifles: whoever invented guns ought to be shot.

 

July 21, 2006

STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES

 

 

 

Remember Ferdinand, the Bull?  A Munro Leaf creation for children with those wonderful illustrations by Robert Lawson of a bull in Spain who prefers to sit under a tree, smelling the flowers, while his contemporaries run and jump and butt heads, preparing for their day in the arena? So they grow up and one day the men with funny hats from Madrid come to choose their bulls.  All the other bulls run and jump and butt heads, trying to look fierce, while Ferdinand wanders off to his favorite tree. Uh oh!  He accidentally sits on a bee and suddenly he is jumping, running, snorting, cavorting and butting his head in a most ferocious manner.  And to make a short story even shorter, he is brought to the arena in Madrid, where all the Senoritas are wearing flowers in their hair, and Ferdinand can do nothing but sit and smell the flowers and in the end he is brought back to his field and favorite tree. Beatissimus est!

In light of all the killing, saber rattling, posturing and threatening in the current news, I'm thinking that Ferdinand is a perfect model for world leaders.  Stop the snorting and cavorting, bloviating and butting heads. Everyone put down their arms, spend some time under a tree and smell the flowers. And bring along a peace treaty while you're at it.

 

 

 

July 14, 2006

                             Patriotism! Yes!

Fourth of July Parades.  Are they the same all over the USA?  Certainly the ones I have seen in Mass. or New York many years ago didn't really differ much from the one we had here in Ohio last week.  Ours began with the police cruiser inching its way down High Street, lights flashing and driver waving.  Then came the mayor and town council in a spiffy white horse drawn carriage. Next, several fire trucks, horns blasting, lights whirling.  Then the whole Fire Department from Reily, some trucks carrying cheerleaders. Then more cheerleaders...first and second graders, then third and fourth grade cheerleaders.  Good heavens!  If they all become cheerleaders there won't be any teams. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Congressional candidates, Kiwanis float throwing candy to the crowd, the Veterans, Kyger's Motors, Doug Ross and his dog, the decorated bikes, the decorated pets and Fiesta Hair Salon float (really, just someone's pick up with a sign).

And right at the heart of the parade come a dozen or so members of the Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice, a radical group that protests just about anything Republican, that has stood uptown every Saturday since the Iraq debacle began, quietly holding signs and banners urging our troops to come home.  So here they are, sandwiched between the fire departments and the boy scouts, and really, that's what the Fourth of July is all about, the freedom to speak up, to disagree, and still be respected citizens. Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!

 

 

 

 

 

July 6, 2006

BRRRRRR

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top ten hints that your AC is too cold;

 

 

 

10. You wake up huddled under the down comforter.

9. Temperature is 58.

8. Knitting needles are cold to the touch.

7. Steam rises from your tuna salad.

6. You avoid the toilet seat.

5. Wet sneakers, placed on the vent to dry, stay wet and develop an icy coating.

4-1. You haven't turned it up yet???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 30, 2006

THE TWICE BURIED DOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dog with the biggest male organ in the world has just been even more buried under 6 feet of dirt.  My neighbor, who prostituted the lovely Victorian home which shares a back yard with mine by adding a 4 bedroom addition for student rental, recently hired a huge truck load (not a Whistle Stop dainty dump truck but a Dingledine Excavating monster truck) of dirt which was then spread out over his back yard (practically my back yard ) by the agile backhoe operator who's not a day under 75 and hence over the burial spot of  the orange colored mongrel mutt with the biggest MO in the canine and possible mammalian world.  It was so big he could hardly walk and when he died Bill buried him in the back yard and he and his (second) wife were walking back from the doggie funeral, shovel in hand, and both crying.

A precious moment from my life, now buried and probably best forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

June 23, 2006

The Rule of the Closet

 

 

 

For several years now, I have abided by the Rule of the Closet; if I add something, like a new tee shirt, I then throw out an old one that hasn't been worn for at least a year. If this isn't done, I would have a closet stuffed, overcrowded and filled with useless, outdated and over time, downright ugly clothes.

This is the principle of zero population growth, of course, and also can be applied to books.  If I buy a book and decide to keep it, then out goes one of equal size.  What's the point of having shelves after shelves of books that I've already read and when I can get the same information on the internet?

Most importantly, I would like to see this same principle applied to the landscaping of the world.  If we build one more building, take up one more acre of green space with a big box, a convenience store or a gas station, then we should tear down a useless garage, an empty shed, and plant grass and trees. Stop putting up big, ugly structures without equal time and space for Mother Nature. Let's follow the Rule of the Closet.  Let's make it the law. Even better, amend the Constitution!

 

 

 

 

 

June 16, 2006

CARS (the movie)

 

 

 

 

     I know almost nothing about NASCAR racing (although I did attend the 24 hour race at Le Mans a hundred years ago) and my idea of a pit stop is "Who has to go?" or "Last chance to go for the next 200 miles!".  Nevertheless, I got some of the jokes (Bob Cutlass?  Carburetor Ally?) and enjoyed thoroughly the antics of Tow Mater, Sally Porsche and numerous others in Disney's latest movie, CARS.

     Not only is it chock-a-block full of old cars like Tin Lizzies, Buicks and Hudsons, but old fashoned ideas as well (it is Disney after all); love, goodness, generosity, white walled tires, Rte. 66, and natural beauty versus Hollywood glitz.

     Finally, it confirms what I have suspected all along.  Cars are People! We name them, talk to them, (C'mon Baby!),feed them, put them to bed at night and nowadays they even talk back (Beep beep, you've forgotten your keys!)

     So even though it was a little long, especially for a four year old, CARS gets a three thumbs up from Grandma Tally! I'd go see it again if it wasn't so LOUD.

 

 

June 9, 2006

 

Iraqi Solution II

 

 

The situation in Iraq is simply untenable.  And since no one is taking up my previous suggestion that we all take a week off, pick up our tv's and AC's and go live with an Iraqi family for a while, I have another idea.  Really, a better one.

     Divide Iraq into three states, as they are practically now...Kurds in the north, Sunni in the middle, Shia in the south.  Keep the democratically elected Federal government and keep the oil business run by the Federal government. Divide the revenues from oil equally among the states according to population.

     Take the Coalition Forces and put them along the two borders between the states.  Check all entrances and exits. No bombs allowed. Also use Iraqi police for the borders.  Have the state governments (elected or chosen) deal with the federal.  Take the money saved and start building hospitals, schools, banks, MacDonalds's, whatever.  The young men will have something to do and violence will greatly decrease.

     As things quiet down, commerce and transportation between the states can be allowed, all with the proper documentation and inspection for explosives.

     Finally, impeach George W., get rid of Rummy and elect Maya Angelou President. Gosh. How easy was that?

 

June 2, 2006

MORE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BIRDS

 

 

 

 

Birds have a higher body temperature than mammals of similar size. If you could take a robin’s temperature, for example, the thermometer would read 104 degrees to 111 degrees.

 

 

In comparison to animals of similar size, birds have hearts that are larger than all other vertebrates and can be double the size of mammalian hearts.

 

 

High performance hearts: birds can more fully drain their ventricles, thus increasing blood flow.  A drawback of such high performance  is very high blood pressure and makes birds susceptible to heart failure at times of high stress.  Another good reason not to scare birds...they might have a heart attack.

 

 

Birds can get hot, just like you and I do. They lack sweat glands, and perspire through the skin.  They also pant. They become less active during the day, they bathe, or seek shady resting spots.

 

 

Birds’ eyes: fantastic!  They are so large relative to their skulls that there is no room left to rotate them as we can; birds just turn their heads frequently to align their field of view.  On average, birds can see two to three times more sharply than humans and some raptors can sight small prey more than a mile away.  They also have color vision, probably superior to humans.

 

 

Birds have ears, just not the outside floppy things we have, and generally hear better than we do. Woodpeckers, for example, can hear grubs moving under the bark of a tree.

 

 

Bird sounds; again, fantastically more efficient than our pitiful larynx.  Birds have two separate tracheal tubes, and can thus produce two sounds at once, creating its own duet.  BTW, song birds have to LEARN their songs.

 

 

 

 

May 26, 2006

                    It's Poetry Month

 

 

 

Leaves, floating down from the roof

Not green or red or yellow from the maple tree

But leaves of paper from a notebook.

 

 

Girls, sunbathing, studying and writing

At the same time

Perched on the sloping, shingled roof

Of the Gray's house back porch

 

 

Suddenly peering cautiously over the gutter

Dismay

In a minute, running out the door

Frantically gathering up each leaf

Hoping to preserve the thoughts, words, sentences

Carefully compiled to complete an

Essay on blah, blah, blah

 

 

They pluck the precious leaves from

Bushes, driveways, the gutter

 

 

And I go out to help them retrieve

Their Take Home Exam for English 312.

 

May 19, 2006

 

                   The Shoe

 

 

 

There's a shoe on the roof of the house next door

A boot, really, a workman's shoe

With laces and scuffs and tongue askew

Where's the other one?

Don't you need your boots for work?

How did it get there?

Will it ever get down?

I guess it will.  Three plastic lawn chairs found a way last year.

 

 

 

May 12, 2006

Spring Again?

 

 

 

 

 

Good news at last!  Spring has arrived!  All the leaves that are going to be, are. The tree across the street probably will not make it, as will not the twig over my dryer vent.

  I woke this morning to hear a cardinal singing his little heart out. "Woody, woody, woody, choo choo choo", NOT "What? cheer cheer cheer" as Peterson's field guide suggests. He was perched on the peak of the porch, possibly singing to the single shoe left on the roof of the house across the street. The students moved out yesterday and are gone for the summer.

     The bad news; it's still cold and this week looks to highs in the low 60's.  What kind of spring is that? The Farmer's Almanac has the answer. "A cold May is kindly and fills the barn finely." Yeah!  Bring on the spinach and strawberries!

 

 

May 5, 2006

                                     MANY SPORTS, MANY GODS

 

 

     There are many religions with multiple gods; Shinto, Wicca, Classical Greek for starters. But it turns out, so it is with American Christianity.

 

 

     We have a God of Football, God of High School Tennis, (there is no God of Golf, as yet), and especially a God of Baseball.  Jimmy Piersall, of the Boston Red Sox, used to make the sign of the cross over home plate every time he came up to bat. Was God watching?  Modern day baseball players love to signal their thanks to God as they round third heading for home after a home run. (Or is it thanks to the God of Steroids?)

 

 

     So how do we explain the Red Sox letting the Son of God, Johnny (Jesus) Damon go to the Damn Yankees? WHAT? The Bosox might as well quit now.  Their season is doomed.

 

 April 28, 2006

IN HARM'S WAY

 

 

 

     What a quaint expression!  Lately it has been used by George W. Bush to describe his actions as Commander in Chief as he sends our troops to Iraq. Actually, IN HARM'S WAY was a 1965 John Wayne movie about WWII and of course it all turns out hunky dory and the Commander gets the girl and foils the enemy.  So George W. says he's putting our young men and women "In Harm's Way", as if it's like being bitten by a mosquito or stubbing your toe instead of being MAIMED and KILLED and LOSING LIMBS! Grrrrr.

 

 

April 21, 2006

 

      Cartoon from the New Yorker by P. Byrnes

 

 

     High up in a tree, Mom and Dad Bird are peering over the edge of their nest. Mother Bird says, "I'm all for pushing them out of the nest, but maybe next time we could wait till they hatch."

No moral.  No lesson.  Just a little Spring Break Ha Ha.

 

 

April 14, 2006

"It's All Right to Cry"

 

 

     Spent a good part of last weekend watching grandaughter Emily in a production of "Free to be You and Me". Remember that 70's show by Marlo Thomas et al.? With those groundbreaking ideas that Mommies could be plumbers and William could play with a doll?

     Thirty years and have we made any progress?  The good news is there are more women in Congress and business, and several forward looking countries have women heads of state. The bad news is we have a long way to go. The most prosperous nation in the world (us) still has only white males in blue suits for presidents.  Laura and Lynn, our national models, are content to still walk behind their men (so to speak) and enjoy "Desperate Housewives".  Think how much technology has progressed in the past 30 years compared to how far women have made it out of the kitchen.

     You go girls! 

 

 

April 7, 2006

Immigrant jobs

 

 

 

     There's something wrong with George W. (Oh, my heavens, where do I begin?) It's when he says we need to have the illegal immigrants in this country to do the jobs Americans are unwilling to do themselves.

     Wait a sec!  I think that is so insulting.  Yeah, come on into our country and clean out our stables and pick up our trash.  That's all you're good for.

 If we can send men to the moon, why don't we invent machines to do the jobs we don't like and let's invite immigrants in to better themselves.  We'll learn Spanish and Arabic, they can learn English and we'll all communicate our way to a peaceful world.

     Let every retired teacher take on 10 immigrants and help them through our educational system.  We'll end up with employed, educated people who can then return to their own country and help their own.

     And until some better machine comes along, lets's make the stable jobs and garbage collecting high paying jobs so our own citizens will want to do them.

     There! Problem solved.

 

 

March 31, 2006

Which?

 

 

 

     Now that my brackets are under control, I can concentrate on the really important things like "that" versus "which."

     Just to set the record straight, use "which" to introduce a non-essential, or non restrictive clause. For example; "Add anchovies to the salad, which you call Caesar." The "which" clause is not needed to have a sensible sentence and is usually set off with a comma. Use "that" for the essential, or restrictive clause. "Add anchovies to the salad that you call Caesar." The clause is essential, or needed to make sense of the sentence.

     Thoroughly confused?  So was I, when the editor of my third edition went through and changed many of the "that's" to "which's", which/that were okay for the first and second edition.  Which leads me to remark that nobody really knows or cares about that which I speak.

 

March 24, 2006

March Mad Mess

 

 

 

     Oh yeah, I've got March madness. I'm fired up with bracket mania. Like . . . today. Got to fill in those brackets.  Who won yesterday?  Who plays tomorrow?  It's a full time job.  How about all those famous names like George Mason, Murray State, Belmont and Winthrop? Where did they come from? Furthermore, how many teams are from North Carolina?  UNC? UNC-Wilm, NC State, Help!

     Seriously, the games are usually fun to watch. But who decides how to shorten the name so it fits on the scoreboard?  For example, who decided to forego Villa and call it Nova? (Both lovely Latin words, of course).  And so it happened that I watched a game featuring Brad Pitt. Does Bucknell ever play UNC?  Will we have Unc Buck?

 

March 17, 2006  Happy Saint Patty's Day!

Signs of Spring II

 

 

 

The Top Ten;

 

 

10. birds singing in the morning

9. finches are back

8. Letterman takes a week off and is replaced with reruns

7. March madness

6. spring Breaks

5. daffodils

4. tulips

3. thunderstorms

2. one more snowstorm

 

 

And the Number One Sign of Spring;

 

 

1. Signs of Spring List II

 

 

 

 

March 10, 2006

A Real Democracy or What a Great Idea!

 

 

 

     From this week's New Yorker; and if this idea comes to pass, my faith in humanity will be restored.

     All states pass laws that stipulate they will allocate all their electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

Result; the electoral college becomes obsolete and a mere formality, much like the Queen of England.

Result; every vote counts, whether you live in Utah or New York.

 

Result; a real democracy.

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2006

             Crime in the Big City

 

 

Honest to God report from the Oxford Police Department;

"Two Miami students reported a college-age male entered their residence and slipped into two females' beds.  He said he was looking for a man named 'Chad' and after realizing he was in the wrong house, before he left, he insisted the residents give him a hug." Now that's CRIME!

 

 

 

 

February 27, 2006

 

 

 

Signs of Spring

 

 

     What a show this morning!  For the price of two slices of stale bread and a handful of peanuts, I get to watch two cardinals swoop, attack and zip through the branches, sparrows, grackles, a tufted titmouse,chickadees, robins and then, to top it off,a beaufiful red bellied woodpecker (who do not have red bellies, by the way.) I can't really say it's a sign of spring because they have been here all winter, but surely the two inches of green lily leaves poking up through the rubble of winter means something!

 

 

 

February 17, 2006

             Get Along Little Dogie

 

 

 

     The latest cinematic sensation, Brokeback Mountain, shatters my childhood myth of the tall, strong, handsome symbol of masculinity,the John Wayne-like Western Cowboy.

     A national ideal has been forever altered, and now what are we to think of the cowboys of the past?  What about Roy Rogers and Gene Autry?  They did SING,after all, and wore wimpy little doo rags around their necks. Hopalong Cassidy?  What kind of name is that?  Kit Carson? Isn't that a girl's name? The Lone Ranger and his faithful friend Tonto?  Just how faithful was he?  Zorro?  Was that slashing Z some kind of signal?  And what about that national icon, the Marlboro Man?  Just whom is he looking for, with that penetrating, masculine squint?

     Oh well, there goes the nation,along with Mom and Apple Pie. Is nothing sacred?

 

February 10, 2006

                Poetry, not Bombs

 

 

 

     Arab Men of the Middle East!  Have you ever heard of the written word? of rational protest? discussion? Don't you have anything better to do than cruise the streets, throw rocks and burn flags?  Hello! 21st century here!  Let's sit down and TALK!

     Aha!  I have it! Maya Angelou for President! As she did at Coretta Scott King's funeral, let her speak, sing, and wow us with words.  Let's put her in front of the Muslim protestors.  Let's have her break into song and sooth them with words. All of Baghdad will be silent and we'll have world peace simply through astonishment.

 

 

 

February 3, 2006

Giddyup!

 

 

 

The State of the Union Address...I listened for about 10 minutes.  I got as far as "America is addicted to oil". DUH!  We've been saying that for years.  "We need alternative fuels".  Man!  Where has he been?  And Iraq...he bombs Baghdad...gets rid of Saddam Hussein...and then what?  He has to think of some reason for being there...so he latches on to FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY!

     Dubya's leadership style.  He's on the horse.  He's got hold of the reins.  The horse stops.  He says, "Whoa."

 

January 27, 2006

Really Nothing

 

 

 

     Talk about Dullsville!  The best Mother Nature can muster up is a few tiny snow flakes, a brisk wind and 45 degree weather.  In January! The blaring headline in last week's Oxford Press reported an amazing three (Yes, Three!) crimes in one week. No one seriously injured, of course. We are all warned to lock our doors, and if I remember to take the keys out of the lock, I lock myself in. The fire trucks have been quiet, the man next door hasn't come outside in three days, even the students seem to be studying!!!  The raccoon roused up from hibernation to come to the back door and that's about it. And, as Uncle Wiggly used to say, if the dish doesn't run away with the spoon, next week I'll tell you a story about how the hawk killed a mourning dove.

 

 

January 20, 2006

Wildcat

 

 

 

 

After 60 years of pets, ranging from my "Beauty" when I was 8 to "Butler" (see "Pets I Have Killed"), I finally learned to have only wild animals as pets.  So my little house is often surrounded by birds of all kinds, squirrels, an occasional racoon and possum, and always, the cats. The population shifts; the original one mother cat and five adorable kittens is now one mother and the two least adorable adolescents, accompanied infrequently by other cats who have heard by mew of mouth that there are meat scraps at 224 West Collins.

     There are advantages and disadvantages to being a feral cat.

 

Wild                              Domestic

 

eat when and what you want        Kibbles and Bits daily

go wherever                       mew to get out

                                  mew to get in

no one pets you                   kids dress you up and

                                  put you in baby carriage

out in the cold                   in in the cold

no name                           saddled with "Bootsie"

compete with raccoon              compete with dogs and babies

no operations                     lengthy stay with vet

bathe yourself                    bathed with SOAP!

no shots                          expensive trip to vet

no vacation stay in kennel        expensive stay in kennel

disease                           more trips to vet

death                             one way trip to vet                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 13

Who's Going to Heaven?

 

 

 

After reading WHERE GOD WAS BORN,by Bruce Feiler, and getting a refresher course in the religions of Islam, Judaeism and Christianity, I ask myself, "Who exactly IS going to Heaven?"  The 9/11 hijackers are sure they are,since they yelled "Allah is Great" before killing thousands of infidels.  All the suicide bombers are shoe-ins, since they too are doing it for Allah.  All the do-gooders who make the Oxford Press Citizens of the Year list, they'll be welcomed with open arms. My mother and father, really good people, they're there. And hopefully me, even though I ran over a cat with my car and lied to my children..."Yes, Santa Claus brought the tree!  Yeah! He really did!"

     Three thousand years of religion and we're still trying to make some sense out of life. I know one thing; the answer lies in words, not bombs. Talk, don't punch -- and never RAISE YOUR VOICE!

 

January 5, 2006

Billion Airs

 

 

Too many times, lately, I'm hearing about billions;

-billions to fix a levee

-billions to bring democracy to Iraq

-billions in sales

-billions in profits

-billions in national debt, in trade deficit with China and on and on.

I have no idea how much a billion is.   I don't even know how many zeros there are in a billion. A billion is so big no one can say it without emphasizing the first syllable, a BILL-ion.

Does George W. in his bubble understand what a billion is? I have my doubts. He doesn't seem to be losing any sleep over the fact that our national debt is many, many BILL-ions.

And keeping with the fuzzy math topic, why doesn't he tackle the really pressing problem . . . what do we call the first ten years of a century?  I heard this discussion first on NPR. We're content to talk about the "Twenties" or "Thirties",but what about the first and second decade?  The "Zeroes"? the "Teens"? the "Aughts" "Naughts", the "Oh oh's" the "Naughties"? Come on you people in Washington. Forget about illegal spying, immoral lobbyists and unlawful spending.   Let's have a Congressional Hearing or a Presidential Pronouncement on what to call ourselves. Let's solve a real problem!

 

December 28, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

December 23, 2005

Bush's Speech to the Nation from the Oval Office

 

 

 

 

     Last Sunday President Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office, as if there was something important to say. Unfortunately, and thanks to the news all week,it was more of the same about our progress in Iraq.  Does President Bush think we're dim? That we still don't get it that the Iraqi War was a fight for democracy? That Iraq is now a free and independent state? That they are voting?  YES! We GET it.

      But what I want to know, Mr. President, is who is in those pictures behind your desk?

Where is your desk blotter?

What does it say about someone who sits behind a totally clean and obscenely shiny desk?

No "in" and "out" boxes?

No desk calendar?

Where is your telephone?

No wonder you are said to be living in a bubble.

Mission accomplished? Again?

 

 

 

 

December 16, 2005

Christmas Displays

 

 

Mother Nature/God/Intelligent Designer has created a beautiful snowfall two weeks before Christmas.  The once green canopy over my back yard has been replaced with thousands, if not millions of black twigs and branches outlined against the grey, sometimes orange-tinted night sky.  The hemlocks, dark green, are now highlighted with patches of white snow and the bird feeder and bird bath feature 6 inch white caps.

     So why are some people compelled to decorate their houses with thousands, if not millions of flashing light bulbs? Someone in Mason, OH, made the national news with his computer driven display that flashed along with music with such ferocity there were traffic jams in front of his house.

     How dare we presume we can create a thing more beautiful than a tree covered with snow?  Oh well, bring on the season!

 

 

 

 

December 9, 2005

Exercise

 

my exercises;

lifting the phone to order an electric snow shovel.

exercising discretion as to what I'll say to my editor.

exercising caution with my one click Amazon.com shopping option.

exercising good judgement.

 

lifting the exercise bike so I can reach the back of the closet.

okay --  I'll actually ride my exercise bike, as soon as I finish exercising my right as a retiree to take a nap whenever I want.

 

 

December 2, 2005

                    More bird stuff!

Every morning I toss my toast crumbs under the bird feeder and I am rewarded with a visit of innumerable sparrows, two beautiful blue jays, two cardinals, two juncos, two nuthatches, two tufted titmice (this sounds like an Ark story), mourning doves, robins, chickadees... and then, this morning, nobody.  I was puzzled.  Was this a sign of an impending tsunami? in Ohio? earthquake? tornado? avian flu? But this afternoon it all came clear.  Perched on my back fence was the inscrutable, ever watchful, ominous, red tailed hawk. The birds hardly notice the cats, but they take no chances with the hawk.

     They'll be back tomorrow.

    

 

November 25, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Top Ten Things I am Thankful for on Thanksgiving Day, 2005;

10. financial security

9. decent health

8. my children

7. my children's children

6. neat-oh house

5. neat-oh car

4. David Letterman

3. friends

2. fireplace

And the number one thing I am thankful for;

1. I'm not a sparrow.

 

 

 

November 18, 2005

                       Stop!

I'm reading a biography of Isabella, Queen of England, whose husband, Edward II,in 1325, went on a rampage of killing, torturing, beheading. . . wait a minute! Isn't that happening in Iraq today? Beheadings of prisoners? The CIA "interrogations" end in crushed ribs and death by asphyxiation as the poor soul is hung by his thumbs?  Haven't we made any progress  in over a thousand years of civilization? Stop torture of any kind! It doesn't produce any reliable information and it's simply medieval!  Stop!  People!

 

November 11, 2005

                                                      Fall

 

Fall. And that's exactly what is happening. That full, green canopy over my back yard has now become a thick, brown, red, orange carpet. The witch hazel is a brilliant yellow and the maple trees are irridescent. I love Fall because it means an end to the persistent weeding and mowing of spring and summer. I can stop worrying about my trees and bushes because they're all temporarily dead. So goodbye lawn mower and hello snow shovel!

 

     It was warm enough yesterday to sit by the open door, and I realized with a mixture of shock and relief that the crickets were no more.  I look forward to the season of silence; the utter silence of snowfall, the silence of students as they keep their parties indoors and spend some time studying. Snow shovels are much quieter than lawn mowers and how much noise does it take to make a snowman?

It's time to gather in the wood and the DVD's.  Days end decisively with darkness at 6 p.m. and I look forward to evenings by the fire with a good biography. Sssh!  Here comes winter.

 

November 4, 2005

      Appearances are Deceiving

It's so much about appearances with "W" and his henchmen.  When no WMD's were found and it turns out we're going to war without being threatened ourselves by Saddam Hussein, they manipulate the truth to give the appearance that we are.  Have Colin Powell show phony pictures, relate Iraq to 9/11, even though there was no direct connection, let's just ACT as if we're being threatened and then send two thousand young men and women to their death for the sake of freedom and democracy.

     Appearances.  Their Supreme Court nominee just didn't have the credentials, so pick another one, much like the first successful one...male, experienced, picture book family. And don't use the same room as the first disaster!  Have a completely different setting for the announcement, a hall, by the way, so this guy will appear different.

     Remember the appearance on the aircraft carrier...Mission Accomplished?  I don't think so! Or the surprise visit to the troops in Iraq for last Thanksgiving? W? They're still there!

     Back in 1899, our country invaded the Philippines to "liberate" them.  Mark Twain wrote, "We were to relieve them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of their own...but now we have got into a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of extrication immensely greater."  How eerily familiar!

     Of course, like many other Americans, I'm torn. The Philippines did end up with a democracy, the Iraqi's are voting. Women have been freed from the Taliban's stranglehold. I just finished (along with the Mark Twain biography) ONE BULLET AWAY, where a classics major at Dartmouth joins the Marines and spends four years in the ranks.  But in the end he leaves, because he just doesn't enjoy killing.  But he does make the point that really bad tyrants can only be toppled by force.  I can understand that. I'm just hoping there might be some other way...kindness? drop bread, not bombs? smother the country with goods and services? show the tyrants up? I am just so against killing and bombing and another quagmire. Don't we ever learn?

 

 

October 28, 2005

               The Perfect World

In light of the recent hurricanes and their aftermath, I'm wondering why we still have power lines above ground.  We can put roads underground, we put cables under the ocean, we put a man on the moon, why not put these unsightly electric lines six feet under?

In our town, a nationally recognized "Tree City" beautiful trees with bright fall foliage have been mutilated to make room for electric lines.  People contract cancerous diseases because they live under power lines. Think how much money we'd save after each hurricane if there were no downed lines. No more days and weeks of no electricity,  no more people dying from the heat or lack of electrical health appliances.

Expense?  How about the millions, yea, billions of dollars spent for bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqis? Couldn't we find a fraction of that money to relocate those lines? Wouldn't we be saving tons of money after each hurricane?

     My second complaint in this less than perfect world; isn't it ironic that the City Council spends time and energy debating and then passing ordinances to restrict student rental houses signs....not too big, children!  and watch your language! when the city has erected giant, unsightly, massive bunker type signs uptown to let you know you are crossing HIGH STREET, signs attached to poles fortified enough to withstand an Iraqi invasion.  And finally, why do we have, all over the Mile Square, red, white and blue signs that prohibit parking during a snow emergency... over 3 inches of snow.  People!  How often do we have three inches of snow?  Once a year?  Twice a year?  Yet these signs have been up since this summer!  Can't we put them up in November and then take them down in February?

     I know, it's an imperfect world. 

 

 

 

October 21, 2005

Shine On, Harvest Moon!

Middle of October and up above shines the Hunters' Moon,  a beautiful sight on a clear night.  There's something about the soft, slightly gray light that has inspired songwriters and poets for years.

"Shine on, shine on harvest moon, up in the sky,"

"Coupl' a jiggers of moonlight, and add a star,"

"We were sailin' along, on Moonlight Bay,"

"Moonlight Sonata,"

"Moonlight in Vermont,"

"Moonlight Becomes You"

"Moon River."

Remember "The Highwayman?"

"The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,

The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,

And the highwayman came riding -- riding -- riding

The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door"

And come winter ...

"The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow

Gave the lustre of midday to objects below."

Moonlight!

Oh yeah!  

 

 

October 14, 2005

           Commander in Chief at last.

     I know why the new show "Commander-in-Chief" is so popular.  We finally see a president who makes decisions for the good of the country, not for political capital. I know it's fiction, but what a joy to watch an executive making wise choices...and a woman to boot!

     Not much to report this week.  Too tired from my trip to New England.  BTW, highly recommended...Bub's BBQ and I don't even like BBQ.

 

 

October 7, 2005

BUG SEASON

     This seems to be the season of the bugs, not the flu bug, as the pharmaceutical companies are touting, but the buzzing, biting, flying, beep-beeping variety.  The crickets are especially noisy this year, even during the day as I sit on my new screened in porch.

     Unfortunately, I had an incident with a cricket. He appeared in my bedroom on the white rug, just standing there, perhaps a little dazed.  Well, I'm sorry, but my house does not tolerate bugs, so I got a Kleenex and tried to kill him humanely with a smothering kind of action.  I really find it hard to squash bugs to the point of feeling their little bones squish and heads crack.  So I gently squeezed him to death and threw it in the wastebasket.

     Imagine my surprise when, an hour later, I see him making his way out of the wastebasket!  Enough kindness!  I do another Kleenex procedure, this time ending with a toss in the toilet.  But he's not giving up!  At the last minute, he once again escapes the Kleenex and attempts a salmon-like leap against the onrushing tide! Sorry to report, he failed.

     Anyhow, I subsequently read that it's GOOD LUCK to have a cricket in your house, and for $35 I can buy a brass replica for my mantelpiece. Well, so far my luck is holding in spite of my crass disposal of nature's good luck piece and I don't think I'll part with $35 just for good luck insurance. Bugs are bugs.

 

 

 

September 30, 2005

Things That Don't Change

     I had an electrician put in a new timer for my lantern post light and was expecting a digitalized, LED display, modernized doo-hickey timer. Much to my surprise, he simply replaced the old one with an identical timer, complete with little screwy things to set the "on" and "off" and basically exactly the same as the 50 year old timer from WWII. The only change was the directions are now in Spanish and French.

     What else hasn't changed?  We still wash our clothes in water and soap in a machine that goes ga-bubble, ga-bubble and then spins dry.
     Has small-town America changed? I used to live in Lyndonville, New York, where the downtown was one street and in two blocks you had Smith's Dry Goods Store, a grocery store, the doctor, dentist, insurance man, library, bank, and restaurant. You knew almost everyone and everyone said hello. I wonder if it's still the same. 

     I'm reading a book about North Platte, Nebraska, and how it has changed since World War II. Much like Lyndonville, the downtown was the center of social and economic life.  The author laments the demise of the main street Mom and Pop stores but takes heart in the new Super Walmart, which indeed has dry goods, groceries, eye doctor, insurance, books, ATM machines, Subway shop and friendly people who say hello.

     Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot. The difference is that the poor schmucks working at Walmart are being paid a pittance, and Mom and Pop Walmart were just listed with the top ten richest people in America.

    

 

 

 

September 23, 2005

The Screened-in Porch

Growing up, I always lived in a house with a screened-in porch.  If the place didn't come with one, my father would screen it in himself. Then I married and left home and for thirty years I went without a screened-in porch. This week I finally called the carpenter and now I have a front porch that is screened-in and I find that it's about much more than keeping out the bugs.

 For one, it's keeping out the birds who loved the mailbox for nesting and the rolled up curtain for a bathroom.

 For two, it's bringing back memories of Aunt Maude's porch, where we sat on her swing or played on the around-the-room railing that inevitably comes with the screening process. The railing is a particular boon, a place for coffee mug, book mark, pencil, drinking glass, cell phone, run your toy cars, set up your dolls, position your green army men.

 For three, it lets me sit outside and enjoy the sounds of early fall; the scrunch, scrunch of chain link on hook, the birds, the crickets, the mosquito buzz on the other side of the screen.  Ah! a screened-in porch . . . at last!

 

 

September 16, 2005

The ole' "Who's on First" Routine, starring Jack and Grammy.

Jack (sitting on the floor, putting on his own shoes): Is this right?

Grammy (watching from above and sees that yes, indeed, he is putting the left shoe on the left foot) with enthusiasm: That's right!

Jack: (picking up the other shoe) So this is left?

Grammy (struggling to mentally turn around and make sure that that really is the right shoe): No, actually that's the right.

Jack: (clearly confused but determined to get it RIGHT) This one is right?

Grammy; Okay!  Let's go feed the ducks.

 

September 9, 2005

Running on Empty

     Yesterday I pulled into my usual one and only full service gas station in town, and had them fill my gas tank which was slightly under half filled. I'm a regular customer because I hate to get my hands all smelly with gas and I never let the needle on the gas gauge get much below half.

I know, I know.  This is very conservative, nervous-nellie kind of behavior, but really, what's the point of letting it get to Empty?   What if there's an emergency and I have to drive to the hospital in Cincinnati? What if it gets to Empty and suddenly all the gas stations are closed? Anyhow, avoiding stress and anxiety, I fill it up.  $31.00. Talk about stress! Ouch!

 

 

September 2, 2005

              Good Ole O-H-I-O

The big news from here is I painted the basement floor . . . again, adding yet another shade of green to the hapless cement floor. One shade under the beds, another in spots around the post most traveled by tricycles and now a third, spread pretty evenly thanks to the EXTENDER!  Where have I been?  The last painting I was on my hands and knees over the whole floor.  OUCH!  This time, thanks to this handy handle, it was just like mopping, with minimal paint landing on my hands and sneakers. How long has THAT been around?

     The other big news, that devastating hurricane Katrina and the stampede in Baghdad, makes me really glad I live in Ohio.  I know, Ohio is boring.  The only stampede we have is the march of cicadas every 17 years, a flood consists of a trickle of water in the basement, and an unruly crowd is a group of 25 college students polishing off a keg of beer. I just finished a biography of two Russian emigres who lived such an exciting life; escaping from the Germans in WWII, living in New York, summering here, wintering there, eating exotic Russian food imported from Paris.  Okay, Ohio is boring.  But I think it's SAFE!    

 

 

August 25, 2005

                                                BAR NONE

    I'm reading this odd book about animals (ANIMALS IN TRANSLATION by Temple Grandin) in which I discover that yes, indeed, fish can suffer. This was a result of an experiment where the researchers injected either bee venom or vinegar into the fishes' lips.  Ouch! The conclusion that they felt pain came from observing that they didn't eat for an hour and a half and also that they rocked their bodies and kept rubbing their lips against the side of the tank.  Is that gross or what?

     To counter this awful image I give you a couple of "a man goes into a bar" jokes. I get vicarious pleasure from these as you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have actually walked into a bar.

     A grasshopper hops into a bar.  The bartender says, "You're quite a celebrity around here.  We've even got a drink named after you."  The grasshopper says, "You've got a drink named Steve?"

     A man walks into a bar and there's a horse serving drinks. The horse asks, "What are you staring at?  Haven't you ever seen a horse tending bar before?"

     The man says, "It's not that.  I just never thought the parrot would sell the place."

     A penguin walks into a bar, goes to the counter, and asks the bartender, "Have you seen my brother?"  The bartender says, "I don't know.  What does he look like?"

     And finally, STOP ME!  A pair of cows were talking in the field. One says, "Have you heard about the mad cow disease that's going around?"

     "Yeah," the other cow says.  "Makes me glad I'm a penguin."

 

 

August 19, 2005

                                                         School Days

          The middle of August and we're not far from the opening of school.  Kids need new clothes, teachers poke around the building, looking at the damage done to their classroom over the summer.  Administrators start tweaking their opening day routines, bus drivers count the days,

          Our college town is beginning to liven up.  There are a few more jeeps careening around corners, student houses slowly add a car or two in their parking spaces.  And although we're still free from the student bus service clogging the 19th century-wide mile square roads and  have yet to see the total traffic gridlock that opening weekend will bring, the middle of August  sounds the alarm that summer is almost over and another academic year is about to commence.

          What's always amazing to me is that some people don't experience this yearly renaissance, the every-year-begins-in-September feeling, the excitement of a new grade, a new school, the feeling of growth, challenges of the academic year, whether it be learning cursive writing or facing senior exams.  Corporate CEO's, for example, have been working all summer, along with ditch diggers, doctors, day traders, or store keepers (albeit with a two week vacation thrown in). For them it's just August and then September.

          But even they have kids, and all Moms and Dads are beginning to feel that excitement of the first day of school.  It's right up there in the inevitable column along with death and taxes. It's a blessing, almost a birthright, that we have public education, good teachers and schools .  So be grateful, people!  Get your school supplies, put on your new shoes and get ready for Fall.  School is about to begin . . .again.

 

 

August 12, 2005    Vacation!

 

August 5, 2005

                       The Innovation of the Century -- a public family bathroom.

            Yes! Finally someone got the idea that there is need for a family restroom.  God Bless the people at Whitewater Water Park.  Sure, there's a men's room and a ladies' room, but then, across the way, there's a family room where Mom can go with little brother and sisters, i.e., the family! We need more of  these in airports!  in restaurants!  in bus and  train stations! hotel lobbies!  Come on, world!  Give Mom a break!

            And speaking of giving Mom a break, I think that all mothers with pre-toddler children, or even just one, should be given a handicapped sticker.  After all, they really are handicapped.  One arm is permanently occupied with the baby, the other, perhaps, busy with a sibling, not to mention the mental strain of watching the babies, planning the shopping list, getting the groceries out of the cart before or after the baby is . . . you get the picture.

 

 

July 29, 2005

                                                            Las Vegas

            In a word, unique.  I'm probably the last person in our family to go to Las Vegas and I can't imagine why I'd ever go again, but the trip was fun and very different from my usual week on the beach in Florida.  The hotel Flamingo Hilton was perfect for the kids who loved the three water slides.  They also loved all the free shows and especially enjoyed Adventureland, the largest indoor amusement park in the world.  I thought it was pretty awful, a huge dome filled with yelling, screaming, thrill seeking rides, but Jack loved the helicopter ride and the girls loved the games and collecting the stuffed animal prizes.

            The best part of Las Vegas was 15 miles away.  We endured 30 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic to get out of the city but then --  the desert!  Red Rock Canyon was breathtaking , a refreshing change from the glitz, and a high point of the trip for me.

            The low point was coming back in the Las Vegas Airport where we stood in a line longer than Disney World at Christmas at which point Jack says loudly "I gotta go potty" and all the people in line blanched, several pointed to the men's room, so near and yet so far.  But we just kept going, big boy underwear and all.  Emily had already thrown up on the carpet in Cincinnati, so we figured...., well, you get it.  But then I blithely said I didn't want to take off my shoes (it had worked every time before) and was promptly put in the special lane and was accosted by a wand waver who then started putting on her patting gloves at which time I said, "Don't touch me" and  put on my best teacher look (touch me and it's off to the principal's office for you, young lady).  At that the wand waver yelled "Supervisor" in a desperate tone and I ended up in a privacy room with wand waver and supervisor and she didn't do anything but look at my waistband.   And the best news is that Jack held on throughout the whole ordeal!

 

 

July 22, 2005    On vacation in Las Vegas....a first.  Later!

 

July 15, 2005

                                                            Jack

            Monday:  Mandy is at a workshop, the girls at day camp, John has a meeting, so I  get Jack for a few hours.  This is what Jack likes: turn  light switches on and off, take keys out of the door, go in the "bayment" and ride the trike FAST, play with the old  metal steam shovel,  the Fisher Price town with the jail door, the fire alarm and the door bell, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head; hiding plastic letters and then finding them, watching a slide show of Jack and his birthday party, drawing pictures and getting scotch tape and decorating the fridge, riding in the PT Cruiser and fastening his own seat belt, going to the Lane Public Library by way of running down the handicapped ramp and exploring their pirate ship, picking out a Scooby Doo video,  getting a drink from the fountain, riding back to Grammy's house, toast and juice, and then looking for things outside with the magnifying glass pressed to his temple (it's a minimizing glass but details, details).  Not particularly interested in dolls, books or the Scooby Doo video.  BTW, Jack's a boy.

 

 

July 8, 2005                

                                              NEWS

I had a cutsey little paragraph ready to go about how summer news is boring.  But after the attack in London, I realize that there has been a lot of news this summer, most of it bad.  Men molesting little girls, men dying in Iraq and now men blowing up unsuspecting commuters.  Wait a minute!  I think I see a pattern here.  Where are the women?  There must be a woman for every man in the world.  Why don't the mothers and wives start a peace revolution?  When you see your husband heading for work with a suicide bomb strapped to his chest, speak up!  Forbid him to go!  If you find your teen age son storing bomb materials under his bed, ground him!  Pull the plug on his computer!  Ban the "How to make a bomb" websites!  Women of the world! Get out there and stop men from this senseless killing of innocent people!

 

July 1, 2005

                                         SHOT IN KROGER'S

Last night, after a ten minute shower had watered the lawn and cooled the air, I decided to drive out to Hueston Woods to watch the deer come to the side of the road in the early evening dusk  as they like to do in the summer.  On the way, I saw, walking on the side of the road, a woman who is familiar to me.  She walks with a pronounced limp, and her left arm dangles uselessly.  And then I remembered, almost 20 years ago, Mandy and I were in Kroger's, shopping in the detergent aisle, when suddenly a shot rang out, then another and there was a scream, right in the next aisle.  We instinctively ducked down, behind a pyramid of Tide boxes, and waited. After a minute, someone started yelling, "Get Out!" and a girl near us, kicked off her shoes and ran like a bat from hell towards the front door.  Finally another man appeared and said, "It's okay now, he ran out the back door."   So  I grabbed my purse and Mandy and I also ran to the front door.

            Anyhow, we've never forgotten it.  The woman had been shot in the head and was badly injured but lived, and I would see her once in a while and remember that day.  The assailant was her estranged, angry boy friend.  He was caught and served time and when he got out she married him. Hmmmm.

 

 

 

  June 24, 2005 

Having just finished  FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS by  H. G. Bissinger, a book written in 1988 when oil was going for $20 a barrel, I am struck by how little people change over almost twenty years -- how Americans are nuts about sports, especially high school football -- how our educational institutions aid and abet this nuttiness by allowing school time to be spent on pep rallies -- how school administrators encourage the wearing of sport uniforms in the classroom, thus elevating the football players and cheerleaders to a special level -- how football players get extra help in their academic subjects --  how much money is spent on sports facilities -- how we hire a person to oversee all the high school sports and give him an office, a secretary  and a salary. When the world is crying out for greater technology, medical research and compassionate politicians, why are we devoting so much of our youths' educational resources to a game that encourages brute force, the adulation of masculinity and the philosophy that winning is everything?

June 17, 2005

                                             Not Saving Daylight Time

     Daylight Saving Time. Do we really need it?  If you live near Indiana, it severely complicates matters.  Our local radio station has to announce the time, and then, Indiana time, just so you won't miss an appointment or arrive an hour early.  What are we doing with the extra hour of daylight?  Everybody stops work after 8 hours, no matter how light it is.  Do we think the farmers are going to put in 14 hour work days, just to take advantage of the light?  And you know it plays havoc with the Fourth of July fireworks, which can't begin until dark, somewhere around 10 p.m.

            These last days of June are long and lovely but could easily be an hour shorter.  What is an hour, anyway?  You can get from Cincinnati to Chicago in an hour. You can spend or, conversely, earn a thousand dollars in a MINUTE on the internet. Think of how much you could make or lose in an hour.  On the other hand working at Walmart for an hour barely buys you lunch.   In a minute you can span the globe and talk to someone in South Korea.  You can even SEE her with the new telephone/computer thingy.

            "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in." said Thoreau.  Are we fishing from a speedboat?  Is it time to step out of the stream,  relax, enjoy the summer, talk to your neighbor and smell the roses?

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

June 3, 2005

 

Drama at the Feed Store

 

            As I sit in my living room and knit, the Feed Store is in my direct line of vision.  Every spring I watch them wheel out the wagons of seedlings, geraniums, hanging baskets and tomato plants. They do a brisk business which dwindles off through the summer.

            Their busiest worker is a tall, middle aged gentleman, mostly bald, portly in the middle with shortened extremities, forcing him to slightly flap his hands as he huffs and puffs around the yard, lifting bags of  mulch, putting the purchased flats of seedlings into trunks and driving the forklift from the warehouse across the street to the stock piles behind the building.. I've been watching him for years and except for the time he came to my door, wondering who owned the red Volvo station wagon which had accidentally rolled down the street into their parking lot (but that's a WHOLE other story),  have never spoken or interacted with him.  So my impression of him was pretty much one dimensional until yesterday, when, to my complete surprise, while walking around the wagons of ferns, plants and other green things, he starts to do a little dance. He's doing a unexpectedly adept two step, maybe singing a tune, and he playfully bobs from side to side like an android whooping crane in a mating dance.  There are two women on the other side of the wagon, the owner of the Feed Store and another woman.  They are talking earnestly and appear to ignore the dancing fat man, who is now working his way around the end of the wagon.  Hopping, dancing, dipping and bowing, he coyly approaches the woman who is still talking.  He makes a flirtatious pass on either side of her head and then swoops in for a peck on the cheek.  I hope it's his wife.

May 27, 2005

                                                             Question II

 

                        Why do our high schools teach French, Spanish, German and sometimes Italian and not Chinese or Arabic?  I can understand the need for Spanish, but why not just teach Latin and let them learn the Romance languages as needed?  Chinese and Arabic language courses would by necessity also include a lot of basic information about the culture and customs of the people.  Knowledge is the first step toward world peace and tolerance.  Come on, High Schools of America!  Bring on those Arabic textbooks.

 

 

May 20, 2005

                                               The Big Question

 

How DARE the Bush administration chastise Newsweek so self-righteously for their mistake in the story about desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo?  Here we have a magazine that uses a misinformed source to publish an article which results in protest and incidental deaths in Afghanistan.  What about the government that uses misinformation about weapons of mass destruction to go to war in Iraq which results in world wide protest and thousands of deaths?  Wait a second!  Who should be apologizing?

 

 

 

 May 13, 2005

 

                                                       The Party's Over...

 

            Sunday was graduation day and in this town that means a major moving day. Parents arrive with the family van or  U-Haul truck and after graduation there's massive hauling and packing.  Across from my house the boys' parents load their family van with furniture, boxes of stuff and appliances.  The boys carry their precious sound systems to their own cars and the rest of the household goods are put out on the curb.

            The line of furniture goes from their driveway to the corner of the street: three sofas, chairs, lamps, two fans, lines of junk.  Let the scavengers begin!

The next time I look, the line is reduced to a few boxes and a straggle of broken furniture. So for fun, I watch.  From 7:15 to 7:45 that evening, there's a steady stream of old, beat up cars, similar pick up trucks,  cars of all kinds. One truck goes by with several empty kegs. They go past the keg on the porch across the street, but it's gone by the next morning.  Each scavenger is so selective.  Usually the driver remains in the car and the scavenger partner hops out.  Croquet mallet? Reject.  Plastic chair? Okay!.  Off they go and the next one shows up.  Yeah! a croquet mallet! No one seems interested in the deflated beach ball or the bent golf club.

            I'm just about losing interest when I see  a very small, Oriental Lady with a red plastic purse poking around.  No car or truck.  She starts to make a little pile of treasures, starting with the broken white plastic chair. Aha! a sponge mop!  a shower caddy!  Her pile gets bigger.  Suddenly a late model pick up truck pulls up, evidently forgetting the Oxford Scavengers' Law  --  only one Scavenger at a time per pile. A woman gets out and starts poking at Oriental Lady's pile.  Oriental Lady becomes incensed, yells and waves her hand heatedly.  Late model truck lady backs off and drives away.

            The pile is getting bigger.  Plastic wastebasket, plastic hangars, wire hangars, old tee shirt.  Finally Oriental Lady arranges all the stuff in the chair, and with the mop under one arm picks up the chair and starts walking up the street.

            Which leads me to wondering why there seems to be much more scavenging this year.  There's always been a parade of trucks, but no as many as this year.  Is the poverty level lower or  the  population of poor, larger? In spite of  all the construction of large, ostentatious houses and affluent developments, is there a segment of society that  is increasing and we're ignoring?

           

           

 

 

 

May 6, 2005

                                                MOVIE REVIEWS

 

 

            One of the advantages of watching a DVD movie is I can satisfy my desire to read all the names at the end of the credits; best boy grip, best girl, whatever.  Sometimes there are little surprises, like at the end of  SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE, when all of a sudden, out of the blue, someone starts singing LA VIE EN ROSE, and it sounds exactly like Jack Nicholson.  Yes, it  IS Jack Nicholson, and singing pretty well, too!  Predictable movie, however.

            Now I just finished watching MYSTIC RIVER, which started out so awful  with  murder, molestation and poverty  that I almost didn't continue.  My original thought would be it's about the Mystic River where I lived for many years, but forget that.  I should have known it wouldn't show the tree lined banks of the Mystic River I knew. Such are life's little disappointments. And what kind of movie is it when punching people in the face is an accepted part of life, not to mention getting away with murder?  What kind of morality is it when the innocent, troubled guy gets killed (who in turn had killed a child molester, but I guess that's okay) and the killer gets away with a little make-a-gun-with-your-thumb-and-pointer gesture because he has a big heart?  ExCUSE ME! Murder is never okay, people.  But it also had a surprise at the end of the credits.  Clint Eastwood actually wrote the music!  And most surprising, it was filmed, in part, in Canton!  Where all my maternal relatives lived! Where I would spend weekends with Nana and Gramp and some of those Kelley Aunts! Where Grandma R. got married!  Small world.

            As for the movie, Sean Penn was excellent. What saves the movie is the plot, which is intricate, connected  and clever. In the end the writing saves the movie from wallowing in violence and sad, sick people and those on and off again FAKE Boston accents.

 

April 29, 2005

                                                    TWEEP

       I'm not alone in this world in not being able to put bird song into English. Take the robin, for example, one of the most common, recognizable birds in North America.  And what does the robin say? According to Sibley's Guide, the song of the robin is a "repetitive, tuneful warble, plurri, kliwi, plurri, kliwi."

Peterson describes the robin's song as a "clear caroling, short phrases, rising and falling, often prolonged. tyeep, tut, tut, tut."  Hello?  plurri  and tyeep ?

Finally, Kroodsma  thinks he hears the robin singing "cheer up, cherrio, cheerup, cheerio" as well as an occasional "weep, hisselly, piik  and quiquiquiqui".

            I'm hearing birds every morning, and MY bird sings video, video, video. Yesterday I actually watched a grackle as he vocalized with a chorus of awk, awk, awk. But then, he puffed up, shook himself importantly and, honest to God, looked right at me and said clear as a bell,  it's you!  or Hitshoe.   I swear.

 

 

April 22, 2005

April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain/pain/sprain.

 

The Waste Land  T.S. Eliot

 

            This April has been cruel, first because it's my mother's birthday, and  even though I know she's at peace, special occasions  remind me of her passing. And then, on her birthday, (was she in on this?)I mistook the next to last stair step for the last step and in trying to not fall on my face, I wrenched my shoulder.  Then I wrapped myself in hot water bottles and blankets rather than, as I later read on the Wrenched Shoulder Website, pack it in ice,  probably prolonging the agony  which continues as I write.

            Then my computer goes down and requires a week of messing with this and that and I STILL don't have my printer going or my Scrabble game up and running.  There's a huge tree in my backyard that is dead as a doornail and will require mucho bucks to get it removed.

            But, to end this cruel month and head into May and blessedly, June ("She's coming, by gum, you can FEEL her come") my own birthday was celebrated with due honor (several good books and brunch with the kids) and I'm getting a new, cordless electric lawn mower. More on that soon.

And life could be much worse, so I'll stop complaining and go out and pick dandelions which are RAMPANT this year.

 

 

 

April 15, 2005

 

            Intimations of Mortality

 

     I’m feeling very mortal, with my mother gone, and then the Pope and Prince Rainier, just to name a few.  But in another way, I’m feeling immortal. My student neighbors, after all, are always 19 or 20 -- every year for 30 years! Talk about Peter Pan’s Never-never land!

     And then we had a tragedy three nights ago.  I live near the fire station, and I knew it was something big when first one truck pulled out at 4:30 a.m. with sirens going (they never hit the siren before 7 a.m.) followed by the second truck and then the third and finally the Life Squad. The newspaper had it the next day.  An older house just three blocks from me burned to the ground, and three of the 13 students in it died. Why couldn’t they have gotten out? The two girls died in their beds, the boy was at the front door.

     The number of people who die in this town can be counted on one hand. A student died of food poisoning from Chinese restaurant last year. A woman was murdered on the other side of town about 25 years ago. My back yard neighbor died two years ago of some disease and my side neighbor, now that I think of it, died at the age of 13 of leukemia. So we are mortal and it’s sad.

     But our mortality makes this Spring even more beautiful. Everyday the leaves are bigger, the grass greener, the lilacs closer to blooming. If we don’t do anything really stupid, Spring will keep coming,ad infinitum, and with it our intimations of immortality (sorry, Wordsworth).

 

 

April 8, 2005

 

R.I.P.

 

     Putting aside all the evil that formal religion has wrought in this world – wars, Inquisitions, torture, hatred, Jihads – I think we have to admit that religion has given birth to two unique and beautiful phenomena; spiritual buildings and uplifting music. 

     From the soaring beauty of St. Peter’s (I know it’s a mish mash architecturally) to the equally stunning simplicity of a Shaker Meeting House, churches stand as monuments to man’s awe of God. When the thousand voices of the choir in St. Peter’s sings the Requiem Mass or when a single man stands in the middle of the Shaker Meeting room and sings, unaccompanied, “Simple Gifts”, music, to me at least, is as close to God as nature.

     The Pope has passed away, and in the ritual of the Church, there is comfort. How moving it was to see thousands of people standing in St. Peter’s Square with candles and coats, just acknowledging the frailty of man and the power of God. Pope John Paul was not perfect but he was the embodiment of what’s good about religion; a man who devoted his life in search of world peace.

 Pax tecum, Papa, et requiescat in pace. 

 

 

 

April 1, 2005 and it's not a joke!

 

 

FLORIDA FAMILY FUN VACATION

 

Top Ten Reasons to Go to Florida for Spring break

 

10. sunshine

9.  70 degree temperature

8.  swimming in the pool in March

7.  eating fresh fish, fresh vegetables and melt-in-your-mouth melon

6.  meeting cousins

5.  bright, colorful flowers in bloom

4.  free tanning

3.  maid service

2.  IHOP Breakfast

 

And the number 1 reason to go to Florida for Spring Break --swimming with the sharks in a beautiful ocean (the raw sewage was gone, REALLY!)

 

 

Abuse of Power

 

     Tom Delay and Bill Frist....you sanctimonious hypocrites!  You reconvened Congress, making a public display of power to keep the feeding tube in a woman in a persistive vegetative state. You take a pro-life, “life is holy” stand.  Give me a break!  What about all those countless (we can’t count when it comes to Iraqis) Iraqis who have died over the past two years?  What about the over 1500 brave young men and women who have died when you sent them to war over Saddam Hussein and the oil supply? What about all the wildlife you are now threatening in Alaska?

     Let’s talk about the quality of life. This poor young woman has been without meaningful life for 15 years. Would you want to be kept alive all that time, being a burden to your family?  Count me out!

March 18, 2005

 

                                                              PLAY BALL!

Loser Congressmen!  What kind of grandstanding are you doing?  Don't you have enough to do -- with gas prices soaring, homeless people wandering our streets, social security in danger of collapse, Alaska about to be ravaged by Bush Oil Men, Halliburton stealing our money, people getting murdered in our court houses and you are spending your time and our money in a Congressional Hearing, asking baseball players if they have used steroids?????          

Look at them! Of COURSE they have used steroids.  You don't think that God intended men to have arms like that, now do you?  Forget last season.  Forget all past baseball seasons and all the now faulty statistics.  Wipe the slate clean!  It's spring at last.  Opening day looms.  Cancel those really stupid hearings, grab your mitt and go play catch with your granddaughters.  Let's Play Ball!

 

 

 

 

March 11, 2005

Wrecks, Camilla and I

 

            Two thoughts this week;  Camilla Parker Bowles was called a “wreck” by the New York Times writer Daphne Merlin in a contrary-to-what-you-might-think positive article about the upcoming marriage between her and Charles (who is very close to “wreck” status himself).  I, of course, am a full fledged “wreck” – over 30, over weight, uncapped teeth and happy as a clam.  Merlin gives the couple a thumbs up and congratulations on their courage to marry in spite of Mummy’s disapproval and all the tongue clucking and head shaking. More power to them.

            The other thought  concerns some truths about fat and thin envelopes arriving in the mail.

Fat envelope: usually a good thing, especially if you’re waiting for a reply to a college application.

Thin envelope: sorry, you’re a nice person but you’ve been rejected.

Fat envelope: good thing from your kid at college with awards, pictures, sample A+ papers.

Thin envelope: he/she needs money.

Fat envelope: good thing from your editor which includes a lucrative contract.

Thin envelope or even more humiliating, the dreaded post card: rejection.

Fat envelope: a bad thing from the IRS with forms to fill out and a return envelope for your check because you’ve been naughty and didn’t pay enough last year.

Thin envelope: a good thing from the IRS. It’s your refund check.

 

 

 

March 4, 2005

                                                  OSCAR LICIOUS!

   Finally! a great Oscar Night show!  So the MC was forgettable – I got tired of his saying “Hey” and frenetically walking back and forth as he spoke/yelled. But what else? Stars! Eye popping dresses! YoYoMa! I love him! The producers managed to keep it varied with a fast pace, a change of venues and  mikes showing up in the aisles. A mysterious female voice moved it right along and there were good clips of movies I want to see sometime. After years of sitting through “And the nominees for best cinematography in a black and white short boring film are...” and endless “Thanks to . . .”, this years show was a treat.  Thanks to . . . .

 

 

 

February 25, 2005

                                           EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY

The Westminster Kennel Dog Show is one of my all time favorite television experiences. Coming in February, when the world is pretty gray and dreary, the sight of all those beautiful dogs and those dog fanatics is refreshing.

   I’m not a dog lover. We had a disastrous experience with a fox hound from the pound. He bit and chased and ran like the wind and was sweet but awful. The dogs from my childhood bring back only bad memories -- of Stubby on the table woofing down a  baked from scratch cake and my mother crying in despair, “I’ll never have another dog again!”

     But the dog show brings out the best and what a thing of beauty is that Afghan Hound, trotting along so proudly, with that long silky hair waving like a flag of honor, or all the big, loping, working dogs, so ready to help mankind, or the terriers, so bright and cheerful, or the dogs with all that extra skin, falling in great rolls and flabs.

     Speaking of which, I learned that the bloodhound has nothing to do with the ability to sniff out blood, but it’s so named because they were aristocratic dogs, belonging to people of the blood, blue, naturally.  I think of the pictures on ancient Egyptian tombs, and there will be a dog, proudly sitting next to the throne of the Pharaoh.  So, long live the dog! Now, on to the Oscars!

       

 

 

February 18, 2005

                NO FABRICATION!

 

     I have just spent $93 for three pencils, yes, pencils -- the best ever! and no longer made by the yellow pencil kings of the world, Eberhard Faber. (the German word for “worker”, from the Latin “faber” meaning “craftsman”, and recalling Faber in F.451.)

     Eugene O’Neill used the Blackwing 602,to write his plays and there’s a whole box of them among his effects.  The pencil, dark green  inscribed with the motto “HALF THE PRESSURE, TWICE THE SPEED” is topped with a gold metal ferrule into which a silver clip inserts with the eraser.

     According to Doug Martin, pencil afficionado,(www.pencilpages.com) it’s that silver clip that led to the Blackwing’s demise in 1998 when the company ran out of clip stock and the machine that made the ferrule was continually breaking down. Furthermore the company, Sanford Corp., made only 1100 dozen Blackwings annually,in a facility that produces more pencils than that in one hour.

     I had been looking for this pencil for years ever since I accidentally came home from Newport Beach with Kelley’s Blackwing, which is now ground down to  F THE PRESSURE, TWICE THE SPEED”.  It has a certain softness and agility that defies description and is coveted and appreciated by “professional artists, designers and writers.”

     I finally found them on EBay this week, at $31 each and they are growing scarcer, obviously, every day. The mystery of why I never could find them in a catalogue, then, has been solved, and I will write my first letter with it to the pencil company, urging them to retool their machines and start production. The world awaits and needs the Blackwing 602.

 

 

February 11, 2005

 

I’ve been exploring the songs of my childhood and enjoying the lyrics and tunes. What has happened to popular music? Where have the carefree songs of yesteryear gone? Or were we just silly or WHAT?

 

Come on! Sing along!

 

Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats and liddle lamzy divey A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you? oo?

Yes! Mairzy Doats and Dozey Doats and liddle lamzy divey, A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?

If the words sound queer, and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey, Sing “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy” Oh! etc.(1943)

 

or join Bing Crosby with this favorite!

 

Would you like to swing on a star

Carry moonbeams home in a jar

And be better off than you are

Or would you rather be a mule?

 

A mule is an animal with long funny ears

Kicks up at anything he hear

His back is brawny but his brain is week

He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak

And by the way, if you hate to go to school

You may grow up to be a mule

 

Or would you like to swing on a star

Carry moonbeams home in a jar

And be better off than you are

Or would you rather be a pig?

 

A pig is an animal with dirt on his face

His shoes are a terrible disgrace

He has no manners when he eats his food

He’s fat and lazy and extremely rude

But if you don’t care a feather or a fig

You may grow up to be a pig.

 

And all the monkeys aren’t in the zoo

Everyday you see quite a few

So you see it’s all up to you

You can be better than you are

You could be swinging on a star.(1944)

 

More to come!

 

 

 

 

 

February 4, 2005

 

 

WRITING HER HOME

 

     I am writing the story of my mother’s life for myself, of course, to partly erase, or at least overshadow the nursing home year and the miserable last weeks of her life which were so uncharacteristic.  All her life she was cheerful, not in a manic, compulsive way, but just nice and quiet and comfortably optimistic.  So I am working my way through her childhood, the Depression, two World Wars, work as secretary and bookkeeper for Dad and then almost half her life without him.  My purpose is also to preserve her. There aren’t many photos. There aren’t any lasting monuments or great accomplishments. Florence Roghaar is not going to appear in anybody’s WHO’S WHO OF AMERICAN HOUSEWIVES. But with the help of George and Linda, I hope to chronicle her long and satisfying life to keep her with us one way or another.  

 

 

January 28, 2005

 

My Mother’s Dire Predictions

 

How did I ever survive my first 20 years? 

 

because I’d catch my death of cold by going out without my sweater

 

or I’d be crippled with cramps and drown by not waiting an hour after eating to go swimming

 

or I’d be imprisoned in a Turkish harem by white slavers because I talked to a stranger

 

or robbed blind because I counted my money in public

 

or dead with embarrassment because I was in an accident and had to go to the hospital wearing yesterday’s underwear

 

or moths will eat holes in your winter clothes if you don’t douse them with moth balls.

 

On the other hand, how did we survive those toys with parts small enough to choke on? with no car seats?  no seat belts? no protective head gear?  and fortified with daily doses of heavy cream, butter, red meat and caffeine?

 

 

January 21, 2005

 

LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND; TOP TEN THINGS A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE SHOULD KNOW

 

 

10. how to swim

 

9. how to get on the internet and basic keyboard skills

 

8. how to turn off the electricity and change a fuse

 

7. how a toilet works and what to do when it doesn’t

 

6. how to turn off the water in the basement

 

5. balance a checkbook

 

4. split logs

 

3. change a diaper

 

2. make basic white sauce

 

1. boil an egg

 

 

SECONDARY LIST OF NON-LIFE THREATENING BUT LIFE ENHANCING THINGS A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE SHOULD KNOW;

 

10. how to be a good listener

 

9. how to care for small engines

 

8. how to run a chain saw

 

7. how to ride a bike

 

6. how to drive a stick shift

 

5. the difference between baking soda and baking powder

 

4. when you’re drunk

 

3. when to lie

 

2. how to fold a fitted sheet

 

1. when to stop making top ten lists

 

 

 

 

January 14, 2005

“Do you smile to tempt a lover, Mona Lisa,

Or is this your way to hide a broken heart?”

 

 

     Having seen Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts as the art professor who doesn’t fit in at the conservative Wellesley College in the Fifties, I realize that I have become a period piece.  The movie captured collegiate life at that time, with all its prejudices and faults, and I saw my four years at Wheaton reproduced fairly accurately. We wore hats and gloves and slips.  Slips, because what if you stand in a light and someone sees your LEGS!  Horrors!  Heavens!  We all have legs, usually two.  What was the big deal?  And garter belts and girdles?  Good Grief!

 We rolled hoops, did the Maypole thing, wore freshman Beanies and in our senior year, the dean, a spinster named Leona Colpitts, presented us with a RECIPE BOOK and said she was proud that we would be wonderful mothers and wives. There’s nothing like an education to improve your making beds with hospital corners!

     Both my mother and Aunt Dot wrote in my autograph book in 1948 that their life ambition was to be a good wife and mother. All my friends, then 11 years old, put as their life ambition to be a housewife, with an occasional nurse, airline stewardess or secretary. So it’s no wonder that the majority of girls at Wheaton, class of ’58, had a life’s ambition to be married and have a family.

          Of course well educated mothers are a tremendous asset, but it wasn’t until  Betty Friedan came along in 1963 with her Feminine Mystique that some of us realized there could be more!

      The movie ends with Barbara Streisand singing “Smile, though your heart is breaking” and “Light up your face with gladness, hide every trace of sadness” and so on.  What’s that all about?  Is this implying that, like Mona Lisa, we were smiling while our hearts were breaking?  No we weren’t!  We liked the idea of our husbands going off to work while we stayed home, enjoying the kids and letting modern machinery do our work.  What’s wrong with that?  So keep on smilin’!

    

January 7, 2005

                                          The Ding Dongs

     So Isabelle wants to join a bell choir? It’s such a memorable experience.

     My Junior Bell Choir had only one requirement.  They had to read music;  the bottom line is E, first space, F, etc.  But in times of need, when only one or two kids showed up, I waived the requirements and painstakingly wrote the letters into the music. Or, “you play your bell on the underlined word” like “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells”  Consequently we had kids from ages 5 to 15. I think Willie was about 10 when he absentmindedly stuck his F5 down the front of his elastic waist pants.  Mark was 12 when, during a Church performance, he lost his grip on the big bass C3 and it went sailing out over the communion rail into the first row.

     The Senior Bell Choir was an assortment of professors, doctors, mothers, nurses, teachers. What a feeling of togetherness!  In one of our rare outside performances for Christmas, the top table was approached by the Neighborhood Nutcase, who kept picking the bells up for inspection. It’s a challenge to play four bells at once and also keep an eye on the woman who’s apparently about to walk off with the remains of the fifth octave.  And how can we forget our well-meant trip to the local nursing home, where the members of the audience were holding their ears and screaming from their wheelchairs, “Turn them down!” as the overtones were playing havoc with their hearing aids.

     Join a bell choir, Isabelle?  Definitely a resounding Ding Dong Ding!

 

 

December 30, 2004

 

                                      Winter? Disaster?

 

I had a cutsey little piece ready for this week’s commentary – winter, the life-threatening icicle, the annoyances of winter travel, the inconvenience of three feet of snow – when the tsunami hit Southern Asia.  Suddenly what I wrote was trivial.  Three feet of snow versus thirty feet of water?  Horrible, heartbreaking and where was our President for three days?  Get out there, George W.!  Help these people!  What a disaster!

December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

December 17, 2004

NO NEWS IS NO NEWS

 

 

I am a news junkie; breakfast with CNN, lunch with Local 12 and always, religiously, after dinner with Dan or Tom.  This year saw quite a glut of newsworthy stories thanks to the elections and the war and the Red Sox.  But now there’s a lull, no, not just a lull, but a dearth of news. The networks are really struggling...just how much more of Scott Peterson do we need?

     So rather than spend 30 minutes with commercials and news fluff, let’s just begin the broadcast with “5 Americans killed, unkown number of Iraquis dead, there is no more news, good night” and spend the half hour reading a good book.

 

December 10, 2004

          THE ULTIMATE PEACE PLAN

 

     Someone, George Saunders by name, has finally come up with the perfect solution to the world’s problems, and I hereby sum up his delightful article from the Dec. 6 NEW YORKER.  He figured out that if all three hundred million Americans packed up a thirty-day supply of food and stuff and went to live with the twenty-five million Iraqis, we could rebuild the place in short order. With sixty Americans living with an Iraqi family of five, although a little crowded, we could attend to their every need.  Dinner? We’ll fix it.  Clean up? Don’t move. And here’s some dessert.

     And what insurgent is going be effective when he’s tailed by his twelve designated Americans who talk loudly and ask superficial questions?

     Meanwhile, the Palestinians can be relocated to the now deserted American West, and all Israelis can migrate to the American East, and the Mississippi River will be patrolled by the National Guard, keeping them apart. All Canadians will move into Palestine and Israel, build mansions alternating Palestinian and Israeli and form a new country Plisraelistine.  Everyone in Kosovo will temporarily inhabit Canada and rejoice in the mountainous space, rarely seeing each other and slowly releasing all the tension that has built up.

     In the end, we’ll return home, the Iraqis, sated and plump and gone soft after months of peace, will stay on their couches watching their new TV and one of the 200 channels now available by satellite. The Palestinians and Israelis will love their new homes and all enmities will disappear. The Canadians can go home as the Kosovars return, thankful to be free of the threat of bears and wolves and resolved anew to give peace a chance.

     I love it. And as Saunders ends his article, “On to the Sudan!”

December 3, 2004

A CHICAGO MOMENT

 

      In the spirit of Christmas, let’s put aside all negative thoughts about commerce, profit and exploitation of children.  Instead, let’s think about all the happy little girls (and their parents, grandparents and siblings) who joined me in Chicago the day after Thanksgiving to jostle, shove, push, huff and puff our way through the crowded streets to enter the American Girl Place.

     I and three granddaughters, along with their dolls Kit, Kaylie and Kristen enjoyed an hour long musical with messages of sweetness and kindness. We shopped, we made decisions,we watched little brother meltdown in the sleepwear room, we oohed and aahed and stood reverently in front of the case that held EVERY AMERICAN GIRL DOLL MADE!!

     But the highlight for me, and what forgives the crass commerciality of it all, was the dinner in the American Girl Cafe. Where the hostess doesn’t ask how many? but how many dolls? and provides booster seats for Kit, Kaylie and Kristen. Where the hors d’oeuvres are carrot and celery sticks along with crackers and hummus, where the napkin ring is a scrunchie you can take home, and where a box of conversation starters provides topics like, “What’s your favorite song? What do you like to eat after school?”and so on.

     I have faith in the future, not because the Republicans are in control of Congress, and not because we are forcing freedom and democracy on the hapless Iraqis, but because on a Friday after Thanksgiving in Chicago there’s a dining room full of people eating a good meal, and one third of the clientele are dolls.

 

 

 

November 26, 2004

 

                     MOTHER'S DAY

 

With sad heart, yet rejoicing that she left us in a timely and peaceful way, I give the world my mother's life;

Florence Irene Bigelow Roghaar of Delray Beach, FL, died in her sleep November 19, 2004 at the age of 98.  She was born April 14, 1906 in Dorchester, MA, the only daughter of Marion Kelley and Nathaniel Foote Bigelow, who traced his ancestors to the Puritains who arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1630.

     Florence grew up on a farm in Colchester, CT, went to Morse Business College in Hartford, CT, learned to type and take shorthand and then got a job. She met her future husband, George Roghaar, taking saxophone lessons, and sang and danced her way through the Depression in a Gypsy routine with her friend Florence Parker.

     As a resident of Winchester and Arlington, MA. she was a member of Zonta International, the Arlington Philharmonic Society, Friends of the Drama and the Order of the Eastern Star. She sang in the choir of the Arlington Pleasant Street Congregational Church for many years. She traveled around the world and delighted in bringing home gifts to her grandchildren.

     Throughout her long life Florence was loved by her friends and family for her generous heart, cheerful disposition and sense of humor. She will be missed.

     She leaves a son and daughter-in-law, George and Florence Roghaar of Boca Raton, FL, a daughter, Linda Roghaar of Amherst, MA, and a daughter, Natalie Harwood of Oxford, OH; grandchildren Beth and Louis Selesnik of Pompano Beach, FL, David and Corinna Roghaar of Mercer Island, WA, Peter and Lisa Roghaar of Lake Worth, FL, Hamilton and Heather Harwood of Syracuse, IN, Kelley Harwood and Chris Grace of Weston, MA, Josh Harwood and Michelene Todd of Woodbury, CT, Gareth and Heidi Harwood of Oconomowoc, WI, Miranda and John Brosier of Reily, OH, Sarah Treworgy and John deLaChapelle of Seattle, WA, Hannah Treworgy of Incheon, Korea and Jamaica Plain, MA; great-grandchildren Sean Callahan, Blake Selesnik, Zane Roghaar, Ryan Roghaar, Samantha Roghaar, Patrick Roghaar, Molly Harwood, Hannah Grace, Julia Grace, Austin Grace, Isabelle Harwood, Harrison Harwood, Alexandria Harwood, Olivia Harwood, Kerri Brosier, Emily Brosier and Jack Brosier.

     Burial will be in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery,Arlington, MA next to her loving husband and business partner of 35 years. Celebrations of her life will be held in the Pleasant Street Congregational Church in Arlington, MA on November 26 at 10:00 a.m. and on Easter Sunday, 2005, on the beach in Delray, FL

 

November 19, 2004

 

MID-FALL VACATION

Highlights

1.Seeing a pair of pileated Woodpeckers in George’s front yard.

2.Wetland walking and seeing an alligator as big as your front porch (okay, my front porch is kinda small).

3.Walking on the beach in the morning with the wind whistling and the sandpipers hopping around on one leg.

4.Grandma on a good day, reminiscing about churning butter in the farm kitchen and driving the horse and buggy to town.

5.Mall shopping; got my Tiffany’s watch battery replaced.

6.Birthday party

7.Flying to Florida in two hours beats driving for two days

 

Lowlights

1.Ocean too rough for swimming.

2.Twisting my ankle climbing a dune.

3.Jamming my heel in the door...blood everywhere (well, it did require a band aid).

4.Mall shopping; $27 bubble bath.

5.Mall shopping: twisted ankle swells alarmingly.

6.Getting off I-95 at the wrong exit(squeezed off by a monster car carrier going 90 MPH)and trying to get to the car rental place; execute several U turns trying to get back on I-95...riding high over Belvedere Rd. on a newly opened skyway being hurdled through space toward God-knows-where  until I finally see a sign “Hertz” and manage to get there.

7.Delta planes are too crowded. Seat mate on return was very nervous and therefore made ME nervous. We were sitting at an exit row and got special instructions in case of emergency and the jittery young man made some snide comment like “IF we get there!”  “Heh heh” I politely laugh and inwardly quake. He was continually coughing and sniffing and twisting and turning and at the end of the flight, he was fiddling for a LONG and SUSPICIOUS time with his SHOES so finally I had to lean over and pretend to tie my shoes just to make sure he wasn’t a BOMBER!  He wasn’t.

 

November 12, 2004

 

Good-by to Summer

 

     I enjoyed an Indian Summer evening this week, probably the last this year that I can sit by the open door and listen to the sounds of night. Living in the original Square Mile with students, faculty and retirees, I hear the smats of bean bags on the corn hole board, triumphant male shouts of YEAH! punctuating a victory, my neighbor, drilling away on his life long fence building project by porch light, and the scream of the siren of the volunteer Life Squad as they laboriously pull away to an emergency.

     And when darkness falls, I hear a familiar beep beep, answered by another beep beep beep and then a steady hum, becoming fainter and fainter as late summer turns to fall, until finally, tonight, the beep beep is not answered, the hum has vanished and I’m left with the crunching of the racoon on my Doritos and the words of Carl Sandburg in “Splinter”

 

The voice of the last cricket

across the first frost

is one kind of good-by.

It is so thin a splinter of singing.

 

November 5, 2004

 

Election Results

 

 

     I’m disappointed of course.  But let’s face it, this is not the first time I voted for a LOSER!  Who else would have voted for John Gilligan, funeral director, for Governor of Ohio? or Adlai Stephenson, the philosopher, for President? or George McGovern, the peacenik?

     Okay! I’m the person who inevitably gets in the slowest line at the grocery store.  So, remember, don’t get behind me and expect to win!

 

October 22, 2004

 

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME BASEBALL?

 

Top Ten Reasons to Watch October Baseball and not Monday Night Football

 

10. Football fans are animals.

 

9. Baseball . . . girlie fans.

 

8. You can easily distinguish the teams by their hats (NY, B) and colors (White, Gray).  Football helmets are too abstract and furthermore, who’s who when the Wings play the Wings?

 

7. Facial hair offers a diversion if there’s a pitcher’s duel (synonym for boring)

 

6. Sock styles offer a diversion . . .  No socks? Pants down over the shoes?  Dorky pull ups to the knee?

 

5.  Every inning has the potential of being the BIG ONE!

 

4. Freudian theory:  long hair requires energy from the brain to sustain growth.  Thus the long hair guy tries to run to third on an obvious single. Dumb. Out.

 

3. The Samson equation; long hair equals strength. Grand slam.

 

 

2. Who’s the Red Sox boy manager? Never mind, ESRUC EHT ESERVER!

 

And the number one reason for watching October baseball instead of Monday Night Football

 

1. No cheerleaders! No annoying John Madden.  Thousands of happy people!

 

September 9, 2004

 

TO CANDIDATES OF ALL PARTIES!

 

No more;

speeches

slogans

ancedotes

promises

predictions

e-mails

phone calls

nasty, misleading ads

ancient history

comments

debates

daughters

 

I’ve made up my mind. From now to election day, nothing will change Bush’s impact on the environment, his misconceived war in Iraq and its terrible, ongoing consequences, his errors in judgement, his simplification of complex issues or his arrogance toward our allies.

 

So Candidates! Stop! Give your remaining campaign money to the poor, to a well deserving educational institution, to the starving souls in Africa and give the rest of us a BREAK!

 

September 3, 2004

 

The Olympics

 

 

     Just a word about the Olympics. What a happy event!  The opening parade was a stream of smiling, excited happy faces.  Like a Disney World parade!  Unbridled joy! And throughout the week, even the second and third place finishers were happy!

     What a setting for the oldest sporting event in the world! What a thrill to see the shot put in the ancient stadium at Olympia!  And the marathon runners on  the same route of thousands of years ago! The only thing missing was the poetry, and Bob Costas did his best.

     You’ve got to love the Greeks. The men wear skirts and dance and do they ever have HEART!  I’ll never forget my trip to Greece and our stay on the Ionian Sea Resort where the men came and danced with us and the next morning, as we left, the concierge and his family came out to wave goodbye. 

     So thanks to Athens and Greece for the Olympics, for Plato, for Aristotle, for tragedies, comedies, ad infinitum.

     As Edith Hamilton put it, “To rejoice in life, to find the world beautiful and delightful to live in, was a mark of the Greek spirit” And so it is today. poli  eucaristo!

 

 

August 27, 2004

 

BRAVING THE STUDENTS

 

     In BRAVING HOME, author Jake Halpern describes a man who stays in his home on the side of an erupting volcano even while he is surrounded by molten lava. Another refuses to leave his carport although a hurricane has destroyed the town. A stalwart woman keeps her home in the mountains over Malibu and fights ferocious fires by beating hot spots with soaked sacks. How far would you go, how much would you take before you abandoned your home?

     I bring this up because the students are back in town, making makeshift homes for themselves.  In rented vans, family delivery trucks, u-hauls, SUV’s loaded to the rooftop, Miami students return to their alma mater (literally, “nourishing mother”) For a  good part of the year, Miami will be in loco parentis and Oxford will be their home. Those of us who are braving the Square Mile and living with student neighbors are bracing for outdoor parties, fast cars and beer cans lodged in our hedges. 

     Fortunately, I live on the quieter side of town, away from the fraternities and sports facilities. I enjoy having neighbors who appreciate my cookies,  who are actually quite considerate with their noise level and are always in their twenties.  After all, if they never grow old, why should I?

 

August 13, 2004

 

                  August or Au-GUST

 

     Either one comes from the Latin word augeo, to increase.  So if you, like the Emperor Augustus, have increased in power, prestige and possibly girth, you could be called au-GUST. 

     Usually AU-gust hosts the dog days of summer, lazy humid days that invite hours of reading in the hammock or basking in the sun on the beach. August 2004, however, is not hot.  In fact, today is downright cold (56 degrees this morning. So rather than feeling lazy, I feel fall-like and want to get out and play tennis.

      August is usually pretty boring.  The softball season has long ended, Little Leaguers all go home, the ball fields grow weeds, the swim teams are done and out of the pool for this year and everyone and his uncle goes on vacation. The students have not come back yet and there are parking spaces everywhere. The only people working feverishly are the cement layers, carpenters and construction workers, all trying to finish up before the students return, all 15,000 of them, each with a car filled with their stuff and a need to drive FAST.

     So we have a few more days of summer. Enjoy!

 

August 6, 2004

 

             DON’T BE MY PET!

I’m going to Hell.  I’ll try to get past those Pearly Gates of Heaven but I can see them all now, lined up, waiting for me --all the pets I’ve killed in my life, pointing their little paws at me, leering vengefully and yelling, “There SHE is!”

     The turtle who disappeared from his bowl and reappeared days later to die on top of the upright piano, his neck falling out of his shell and pointing toward middle C.

     The fish, all floating belly up at the top of the fish tank because I inadvertently turned the heater up to “scalding.” Sorry!

     Butler, the untrainable hound dog, chained with a horse chain, running through the neighborhood followed by at least three Harwoods yelling, “BUUTTLER.”

     The stray cat Spooky, whom I fed every night and then ran over on South College Ave with my new PT Cruiser. He probably recognized my car and was coming across the street to say hello and my front wheels missed him but the back wheels – thud – and I could see him in the rearview mirror rolling around like a squirrel (okay, I’ve killed them too).

     My only excuse, Mr. Saint Peter, is that I’m REALLY SORRY!

 

July 16, 2004

 

Incident at the Mall or A Little Dirt Won’t Hurt You

 

Northgate Mall, in between Claire’s (every cheap hair ornament and earring known to man) and L and B’s Toy Store (every cheaply made toy in a package known to man and child)

Participants: Grammy, Mandy, Kerri, Emily and Jack in his cheaply made umbrella stroller I keep permanently in the back of the car.

 

Jack suddenly jumps out of the stroller and runs back where we came from.

 

Kerri: He dropped his gum!

Mandy, Grammy, Emily: Don’t worry about it, Jack!  We’ll get you another piece, Jack! Come on back, Jack!

Jack: Gum

Kerri: He’s standing on it!  It’s under his shoe!

Mandy, Grammy, Emily: Get in your stroller, Jack!  Time to go home! Here’s another piece!

Jack: Gum

 

He starts walking back to the stroller,

 

Kerri: There it is!  On the ground!

Jack: Gum.

 

He turns around, runs quickly to the gum, now flattened and imprinted with the waffle pattern of his sandal, picks it up and pops it in his mouth.

Girls:  EUUUUUW!

Moral: TOO LATE NOW!!

 

July 2, 2004

 

NEKKID AS A JAY BIRD

 

     I have noticed a couple of beautiful blue jays hanging around my back yard. They have been aggressive, chasing mourning doves, and yesterday I caught one actively pecking at a baby sparrow who was either dead or dying.  The jay didn’t devour his prey like the hawk did to the mourning dove last winter, plucking off the feathers, holding it down on the branch and gnawing.  Yuck. The jay certainly didn’t eat the baby sparrow as its corpse lies under the yew bush at this very minute.  More yuck.

     So I looked up Blue Jay in my SIBLEY’S GUIDE TO BIRD BEHAVIOR (actually it’s under Jay, blue) and found that yes, they are aggressive and omnivorous.

Blue jays eat insects and mast (nuts and seeds on the ground) and hop.  They may pair for life or not, much like people. Some maintain permanent territories, others not, much like people.  Females do most of the nest building, much like people.  Unlike other birds, jays are born naked, therefore, “nekkid as a jay bird”, much like people.

They are social birds,(not in the sense of a party animal, like some people) gathering together to ward off predators.  Although most well known for their loud, raucous screech, they are capable of softer, more musical notes used in close quarters for communication with a mate or family member.   Jays feed their young many times a day and keep feeding them days and even months after leaving the nest.  Just like people.

 

June 11, 2004

 

REAGAN’S FUNERAL

 

 

For a few days this week, we were transported from the usual world of fast food, fast access to the internet, fast videos and fast film clips, to the state funeral for President Ronald Reagan. Thanks to national television, we were slowed to 20 miles per hour in a procession interspersed with truly funereal-paced events. 

The ceremony in the presidential library in California was moving. Nancy Reagan, freed from her caregiving duties, yet now without her lifetime companion, walked up to the casket with her daughter, put her cheek on the flag and then spent a few moments embracing her daughter. A private moment caught on TV.

As she walked up the steps to the plane that would take her to the public ceremonies in Washington, she turned and waved and the crowd below applauded, at first hesitantly, a little uncertain as to the proper response. After all, she is a widow, going to her husband’s funeral. But her wave and slight smile seemed to encourage them, and they continued to applaud, not raucous like a campaign crowd, or loudly enthusiastic like a patriotic gathering, but it seemed just for  her, politely, with affection, like a comforting pat on the back.

 And then Washington, D.C. How beautiful all that classical architecture is before a blue sky. CNN used the word gravitas, so fitting for the solemnity and weight of the state funeral.  The military is so good at this.  Hup hup, all together in perfect step. The catafalque, invoking the Etruscan tombs and classical temples sits in the center of our American Pantheon.

Ronald Reagan was a good man. Whether he was a good president I will leave to the historians. Nancy was a good, devoted partner, and I hope I can walk as well as she does at 82. I wish I was that thin.

 

SICK OF CICADAS

 

Cicada pie, cicada cookies, cicada stew, cicada soup,

Cicada candy, cicada cake, cicada rhubarb dessert,

Cicada fever, cicada neuroses, cicada chills, cicada phobia,

Cicada mania, cicada philia, cicada misocicadany,

You swat ‘em, bat ‘em, you swing, you sweep,

You yell, you curse, you shake your fist,

They’re killing your trees, messing your sidewalks and bursting your eardrums.

Remind me, in 2021, to LEAVE THE COUNTRY.

 

May 21. 2004

 

BIRD BYTES

 

Interesting facts about birds, from THE SIBLEY GUIDE TO BIRD LIFE AND BEHAVIOR;

 

Birds are the only vertebrate group in which all species reproduce using external eggs.  This is because carrying young makes you heavy (tell me about it!) and birds need to be light because of all the time they spend in the air.

 

I always thought that birds were like people without arms, and that explains why  they have a greater number of neck vertebrae than mammals, allowing them to reach objects, including their own bodies, with their bills.

 

 Birds have 13 to 25 neck vertebrae, whereas you and I have only seven. Owls can turn their heads 180 degrees.

 

Birds actually walk on their toes.  What looks like their knees are their ankles.  Their knees are usually hidden up close to their body.

 

Of all the organisms living on Earth, only birds have feathers.  Which explains why they flock together.

 

 


the carpenters

Weekly Commentaries -  New Ideas Every  Friday!

April 30, 2004

BIRD WATCHING COUCH POTATO STYLE

 

     We  have in town some avid bird watchers, who form Societies, have expensive binoculars and whose idea of fun is to bundle up in down jackets and go stand in the middle of a field in the dead of winter. My idea of bird watching is to lie on my couch, craftily positioned so I can see the bird feeder without lifting my head, and having within arm’s reach my own expensive binoculars,even though I’m not ten feet away. “Blinded” by the glass doors, the binoculars allow some close up viewing.  I can watch robins sing - lots of throat and neck action – and mourning doves as they huff and puff.

     I keep track of the birds who have come into my back yard in my bird book, handily stored under the couch, also withing arm’s reach.    This morning (a lovely Sunday in spring, warm enough to have the door open and to hear the birds) I’m reading the New York Sunday Times, when suddenly a flash of yellow appears at the fence.  I grab my binoculars. Yes! It’s a small bird in bright yellow with a complete black hood. It flits and flops and doesn’t stay put long enough for a photo op, barely long enough for a binocular op, but I get several good glimpses and out comes the bird book.  A black hooded warbler! Wow! Under similar circumstances I have also seen an American redstart, a bright black and orange bird that flies like a butterfly.  Really!

     I love watching birds.  They’re free, truly wild, and make pleasant noises, unlike carpenters, garbage trucks and loud stereos.  I hate the idea that we are slowly destroying habitats, losing species and generally making the world less beautiful for future  generations.  I contribute to Conservancies and am pinning my hopes for the future on like minded naturalists around the world. Vive Les Oiseaux!

 

 

April 23, 2004

    TOP TEN REASONS FLORIDIANS RUN RED LIGHTS

 

10. They’re trying to beat the boat to the drawbridge.

9. It’s 3:30 and they want to get to the early bird special.

8. It’s 4:30 and if they hurry they can get to another early bird special which they won’t eat but will take  home on a styrofoam plate for a snack before bedtime at 8:00.

7. They’ve voted, and if they hurry, they can get to the next county and vote again.

6. They’re late for the monthly meeting of Delray Beach Retired Terrorists.

 

THEY RUN RED LIGHTS BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE PEOPLE STOPPED AT THE OTHER LIGHT

 

5. Have a reaction time of a minute and a half.

4. Are waiting for the drawbridge to go down

3. Are in the left turn lane and they really want to go straight but if they do they’ll be killed

2. Have played their round of golf, have had breakfast of supersized Belgian Waffles with whipped cream, strawberries, sausage and bacon, so now, what’s the point?

1. Are napping.

 

 

April 16, 2004

The Question of the Day

 

     I know why my mailbox is stuffed with catalogues.  It’s because I order from them once in a while.  But for the life of me, I can’t remember ever ordering from VIVRE, a catalogue that has almost nothing wearable, useable or suitable for Grandma Tally.  That doesn’t stop me from reading it, however, and wondering who would wear 4" stilletto heel sandals? Ouch! How can anyone walk on 4" heels?  Or pay $150 for a sterling silver breath strip case? What is a breath strip?  Are we talking TikTaks?

What to do with a $200 gilded pectin shell? $200 would buy a few books that would be much more entertaining than looking at a gilded shell.  Who buys this stuff? A wooden egg in a stand...$500??  Is this the reason the Iraqis hate us? Is this a commentary or simply a series of questions?  Isn’t that what life is, anyhow?

April 9, 2004

Central Asia Here We Come!

 

 

My education, a 50’s Bachelor of Arts with a Classics major, was so provincial that I graduated convinced that there were two kinds of literature; British, the better, and American, Johnny-come-lately and therefore inferior. God forbid we should ever read Australian or South American or anything written on any continent other than North America and Europe.

     But the world and my world view is changing and it turns out there is a section of Earth called Central Asia, and although I have not read any literature from there, I have at least read a book ABOUT Central Asia which is a start.  Coincidentally the Sunday Times had an article about China beginning to expand into its portion of Central Asia, with trains, towns and other accoutrements of civilization.

      From the book I just read, THE LAST SECRETS OF THE SILK ROAD,it appears there is plenty of room for expansion.  The author, plodding by horse and camel the 5,000 miles from Turkey to China and following the route taken by the early traders including Marco Polo and Alexander, finds few people and lots of sand, snow and mountains. The western part of Central Asia, which does not belong to China, instead belongs to those mysterious Stans we’ve been laughing about on the New Yorker cover; but Stan is a real guy (oh, okay, a country) and beyond the familiar Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have Uzbekistan (just recently in the news, unfortunately, as a site of more terrorist bombing), Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the unpronounceable Kyrgyzstan.

    So who are these people?  Why wasn’t I told about them in college? Probably because oil hasn’t been discovered there yet. The point being that the world is getting smaller and you can learn just so much in school and it takes the rest of your life to fill in the gaps. So start reading!

April 2, 2004

Thomas L. Friedman for President’s Advisor!

 

 

Thomas L. Friedman, writer for the New York Times, had a wholly wonderful column last Sunday.  In it he dreams for good news, and I agree completely.  He writes in part; “I so hunger to wake up and be surprised with some really good news. . .that President Bush has decided to offer a real alternative to the stalled Kyoto Protocol to reduce global warning. . . that 10,000 Palestinian mothers marched on Hamas headquarters to demand that their sons and daughters never again be recruited for suicide bombings. . . that Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia invited Ariel Sharon to his home in Riyadh to personally hand him the Abdullah peace plan and Mr. Sharon responded by freezing Israeli settlements as a good will gesture. . . that President Bush has replaced his limo with an armor-plated Toyota Prius, a hybrid car that gets over 40 miles to the gallon. . . that Dick Cheney has apologized to the U.N. and all our allies for being wrong about WMD in Iraq, but then appealed to our allies to join with the U.S. to help Iraqis build some kind of democratic framework. . .that Tom DeLay called for a tax hike on the rich in order to save Social Security and Medicare for the next generation and to finance all our underfunded education programs. . .that Mr. Bush has announced a Manhattan Project to develop renewable energies that will end America’s addiction to crude oil by 2010. . . .that Mel Gibson just annnounced that his next film will be called “Moses”  and all profits will be donated to the Holocaust Museum, and most of all,that John Kerry just asked John McCain to be his vice president, because if Mr. Kerry wins, he intends not to waste his four years avoiding America’s hardest problems – health care, deficits, energy, education – but to tackle them, and that can only be done with a bipartisan spirit and bipartisan team.”

Yeah Buddy!  and I want to wake up and find Thomas Friedman ensconced in the Kerry White House as First Advisor!

 

March 26, 2004

Top Ten Reasons NOT to Clean Out the Garage

 

10. What will you find at the bottom of the wood pile?

9. You discover you have three identical leaf rakes.

8. You now have FOUR mayonnaise jars filled with screws, bent nails, useless hooks and other metal thingies you’ll never use.

7. Paint cans with rock solid paint can not be legally disposed of.

6. Unless you wrap them in Christmas wrapping paper and they “accidentally” fall into the rubbish.

5. You have been faithfully keeping mystery objects; long plastic tubes, very long metal pipe, tool with bent prong, paint covered tool, door weight attached to nothing and electric wires also attached to nothing.

4. Bags of garden aids (seeds, fillers, fertilizer) all have holes in the bottom chewed by critters

3. who also leave little surprises in corners, under tables, at the bottom of the wood pile.

2. you’d have to wash 20 years of dirt from the windows

 

and number 1 reason NOT to clean out the garage

 

It's too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry and and then you have to start cleaning the SECOND FLOOR!

March 19, 2004

DON’T LOOK!

 

Oh, you’re looking!

My first encounter with the dreaded “Don’t look!” scream was in Winchester, MA.  I was about 8 years old and we were out looking for our dumb dog who kept wandering off.  We were at the intersection of Wildwood Ave. and State Rte. 3, a very busy road.  We see Dumb Dog on the other side, who at the same time sees us, and happily starts making a bee line for us, totally ignoring the speeding traffic.  “Don’t Look!” shouts my mother, grabbing my head. The dog did not get hit, but I was scarred for life.

     Mark used to show French films in his high school French class and sometimes they would show more than American public high schools would approve.  His version of “Don’t look!” consisted of going to the front of the movie projector and deftly closing the lens cover.

     One day I was standing outside my house with my daughter and her family, just shooting the breeze.  My neighbor was unloading some furniture from his rental truck. We weren’t paying much attention to him until suddenly there was a slight commotion.  “Don’t look!” shouts my son-in-law. “He fell off the truck with a lamp!”  So  we all averted our eyes, peeking discreetly to make sure he wasn’t lying in pain in the gutter, and hoping we saved him some embarrassment.

     Of course there have been times when I wish someone had yelled, “Don’t look!”  I’m thinking of seeing a child on a city street in Buffalo, hit by a truck, and people yelling, “Go get Martha! It’s her Willy!”

     I guess the moral is, when someone says, “Don’t look”, it’s probably best not to.  Remember, I didn’t say, “Don’t Read!”

    

March 12, 2004

NEWS FROM OUR TOWN

 

Here are some real items from the Police Reports section of our weekly newspaper;

 

     Joseph Clockman, 19, was cited for theft after allegedly attempting to shoplift a package of chicken from  Kroger’s on Jan. 31. The chicken was safely returned to the store.

And returned to the meat department where I picked it up????

 

     An Old Oxford Road resident reported on Jan. 14 that someone squirted lotion on her vehicle while she was at Talawanda High School.

Maybe it had chapped fenders.

 

     A 1209 College Corner Pike resident reported on Jan. 23 someone stole her dishwasher.

Stop, Thief! He’s running away with my dishwasher!

 

     Carlos Hernandez, 21, of Chicago, was cited for breaking and entering on Jan. 30 after being found at Anatriptic Arts Massage, 211 S. Elm Street (right across the street from me in the Old Hotel).  He was found hiding in a closet and said he knew people who lived there.

Oh, yeah? Like who?

 

      

    

March 5, 2004

THE RIGHT THING TO DO II

 

     Not only is it important to do the right thing (see Commentary of last week) but now, thanks to the Jackson costume malfunction and the Howard Stern Mouth, we have a Congressional hearing on what’s DECENT.

     Being the moral prude that I am, I love the word “decent.”  It comes from the Latin “decet” meaning, “to add grace to, to adorn, to become.”  The Romans served their country by holding public office and serving in the Senate without pay.  They did this, for one reason, because it was “becoming’, i.e., it made them look good.

     I’m not suggesting that all decent U.S. Senators give up their pay, but I do think that we might start judging behavior, both public and private, as to whether it is becoming, not whether it adheres to the Christian faith, or whether your grandmother would approve.

So now, perhaps, we can see the difference between Jesse Jackson (putting aside your political views, a decent man) and Janet Jackson (not so decent, okay, INDECENT, even though, ironically, she would love to see herself as well adorned and becoming).

February 27, 2004

             THE RIGHT THING TO DO

 

      What really annoys me is that white haired guy with the mustache, Wilford Brimley, with his Quaker Oats in one hand, and pointing authoritatively at me with the other, saying “It’s the Right Thing to Do.”   Wait a sec. Is this the same as George W. bombing Baghdad and insisting time and time again, “It was the right thing to do”? How does one person KNOW when it’s the right thing to do?  I’ll tell you what’s the right thing to do.

     I had a student, a sweet, overweight, young ninth grade girl, who could hammer out a five paragraph essay, but couldn’t get from one class to another without a monumental effort to pull herself together. Papers jammed in notebooks, homework all wrinkled and sticky, she just was unorganized. One day, after class was over, she was struggling to get all her belongings into her backpack and pick up her purse and walk and she got to the middle of the room when everything fell out of her purse onto the floor.  Lipstick, pens, money, cheap jewelry, kleenex, bouncing all around like Mexican jumping beans.  Just leaving in front of her was the class hero, football idol, cool, sophisticated. He turned, saw the unfortunate one, stopped, knelt down and started to help her pick stuff up.  Now, THAT was the right thing to do.

How did he know that? Who taught him? I’m guessing, but perhaps we teach our children by example. And that means you have to spend time with your kids . Quality time. The Good Samaritan. Hang in there, parents. 

 

February 20, 2004

 

                My Garage

 

     My garage was built around 1912 to go with my neighbor’s house. When you look at the two structures head on, you have to think “barn” with that second floor, the  barn like roof and two windows in the front, ostensibly for throwing out bales of hay or pulling them in. I’m sure it was not built to be a working barn.  There’s no room for stalls and there never has been any evidence that it was used as a stable except for the lone horseshoe found in the back yard.  Nowadays it would be called a faux barn, but for the 32 years I have lived here, it has always been “the garage.”

     What stories this garage has to tell. For a brief time it was used as an artist’s studio. There’s no running water and we found out later that he used to pee out the back window. Then the teenagers took it over for sleep overs, parties and God knows what. A monkey in diapers died in it and a disturbed person tried to commit suicide by driving in and closing the door. And I’m just pulling this stuff off the top of the memory pile.

     I bring this up because now that I’m retired I’m resolved to “tackle the garage.”  Thirty two years of accumulated stuff; painting tools I will never use again, clay pots and bags of garden fertilizer at least 20 years old, broken lawn chairs, unfinished cabinets, window shades, parts of trellises, lumber of all shapes and sizes, part of a heating duct, and I’m just scratching the surface of the first floor. Heavy weights once used to open the door, since replaced by an electric door opener, now lie in each corner, unattached to anything and just gathering dirt.  I would say “dust” but the garage is definitely covered with layers of dirt. I will tackle the garage. It has top priority on my spring cleaning list. I will. Just as soon as it gets just a little warmer.

 

February 12, 2004

                 FEBRUARY

 

     Does anyone ever say Feb-ROO-ary?  Don’t we all say Feb-YOU-ary?  And why don’t we have a constitutional amendment about this?

     February is the month of illness, coming from the Latin, febris, meaning fever, and giving credence to such words as febrific, producing fever, febrility, feverishness and febrifuge, getting rid of fever. Reports from my grandchildren confirm this unhappy tendency.  Colds, stomach flus – they’re all here in February.

     Going right along with this is the original Latin God Februus, who was in charge of purifications.  What better time to purify than after the fever and for Spring Cleaning? In Roman times the Februa were the instruments of cleansing; a broom made from pine boughs, salt and grain sprinkled on the floor and then swept away.

      So as soon as you’re out of the sick bed, get out that purifying dust cloth and get to work.  Then when spring really gets here, you can head outside and start cleaning and purifying your garden.

    

February 6, 2004

               Super Bowl 38

 

Super Bowl 38, Oh, sorry, XXXVIII (another example how Roman numerals give prestige to an unclassical sport) was a great football game.  Big sweaty guys showing their ability to think (pass or run?  right or left?) as well as push and shove each other.  Actually I’m aware of the intellectual challenges of football.  The quarterback doesn’t have that cheat sheet on his wrist for nothing.  It was a close, suspenseful game and was humanized by failings - the kicker misses a easy 30 yard field goal attempt, somebody is sidelined with a mundane bloody nose.   

     What strikes me is how large people are becoming.  The professional football players are HUGE. Three hundred pounds, six foot four.  Whether chemically enhanced or not (and certainly all those tall basketball players weren’t born that way) each generation gets bigger.  Which reminds me of my favorite theory of how the dinosaurs became extinct.  No flying meteor from out of space. Oh no.  They became extinct because they got so big that they finally just fell over and coudn’t get up. I think we’re heading for a similar fate.

     Footnote; I spent the time between Super Bowl Halves reading PONTIUS PILOT by Ann Wroe so I missed the Janet Jackson Show.  Oh darn.  At the rate our society is morally degenerating, we’ll all probably die in another Wrathful Flood from God before we can grow big enough to topple over.

January 30, 2004               

 

                 BIRD MURDER

 

     It happened last year just about this time.  Snow had been on the ground for at least a week.  I heard a huge THUD on the sliding glass door and a minute later I saw a smudge about three quarters of the way up. Following the trail of feathers and blood, to my horror I saw a large, red-tailed hawk up in the tree, holding on to the still squirming body of a mourning dove and methodically plucking the feathers.  Then he proceeded to EAT it!  Yuck. This behavior was confirmed by my ornithologist friend who recounted his seeing a hawk chasing a DUCK!  Anyhow, that was last year and it only happened once. I took pictures.

     So this year, as the snow piled up, I thought about the murderous behavior of last year. Yesterday, as I was returning from the garage, I startled a large bird perched at the foot of the sliding glass door. He quickly picked up his prey and flew off, leaving behind a LOT of feathers, blood and the now familiar dove-sized smudge on the glass door.  Could it be the same hawk?  Did he use the same modus operandi, that is, to chase the terrified mourning dove (they’re so dumb,”coo,coo”) into smashing into the door and picking up his victim, etc. etc.?  Only time will tell.  Stick around for next year.  Meanwhile, the mourning doves just keep coming around the feeder, blissfully unaware that the hawk has their number.

January 23, 2004

         Walking With Gulls

 

Went walking with the gulls last weekend.  While the world was watching Iowa, I was standing on the brink of the United States with nothing between me and the Canary Islands.  I discovered that if you walk very slowly and quietly, and if there is no one on the beach except you and some lady who is standing on the top of the dune, slowly moving her arms and legs and water bottle to some mysterious pattern, then the gulls and the sandpipers just walk along with you. So I walked the beach with the gulls, gray and white with black tipped wings, and the sandpipers; brown, red legged, brown legged, spotted, partly white, but ALL running fast in every direction and occasionally being aggressive toward each other.

I, on the other hand, was not running anywhere, and certainly not being aggressive, but enjoying the solitude of a Florida beach at 8 o’clock in the morning and thinking, not about the cold winds of Iowa or New Hampshire, but how warm the sunrise felt, how soft the breeze, and how lucky I am to be me and not a gull or a sandpiper.

    

January 19, 2004

               Winter Torpor          

 

It’s time for Winter Torpor, a wonderful word that comes from the Latin verb torpeo meaning to be stiff. (Our word torpedo is also related to torpeo and was used by the Romans to describe a fish whose sting produced numbness and stiffness).

In birds and animals torpor is a state of inactivity sometimes achieved by a lowered body temperature during hibernation. In teenagers, during aestivation, a summer time version of hibernation, torpor is achieved by a lack of ambition that comes with summer vacation and unemployment.

I’ve seen two year olds who are outgrowing their naps slip into torpor for a few minutes, gathering their strength to finish the day. The old power nap with your eyes open.

Probably Juliet was in a state of torpidity as she lay on her bier in the Capulet’s tomb.

And I myself am guilty of being in torpor as the the winter sky remains gray all day, the fire crackles, my down coverlet makes a nest of my couch and the chicken soup simmers on the stove filling the house with a warming, comfortable aroma of garlic and lemon. Ummmmmm. Zzzzzzzzz.

 

January 9, 2004

Warning Lights of Life

 

Every new car I get has added gadgets. Some are just reminders; fasten your seat belt! or you’ve left the keys in the car! or, time to get some gas!  Others are more alarming in the form of pulsating beeps; someone is stealing your car!  Your lights are on!

So when are we going to invent little warning lights of the mind?  Heaven only knows we’ve invented  everything else; thinking typewriters, talking phones that take pictures, cars with seats that remember and steering wheels that warm your hands. So where is the little flashing light (maybe in the form of a yapping mouth) that goes on when you talk too much? How about a miniature smiley face that goes on when you’re having a bad day? How about a pulsating heart when you haven’t said “I love you”? Or a beeping sad face :( when you forget to say “I’m sorry?” Surely the world would benefit if your mind could produce back up signals (beep...beep) that tell you to “back down”, “step back” or “give the guy some space.”

 I know I could use a flashing sign, maybe in the shape of a hot fudge sundae with a big red X on it when the scales point to a certain terminus ad quem. How about a pulsating alarm bell when your fly is open? Your slip is showing?

And for every generation, a new set of signals; hair in disarray?  a flashing brush and comb; snot on your nose? a nose shining brightly; late for an appointment? a little clock.  Finally, for those people who need a warning that you’re getting into a tizzy, and you know who you are, a little blood pressure signal going up! Or perhaps a picture of a molehill that miraculously turns into a mountain!

I’ve got to stop.  That yapping mouth signal just came on.

         

January 2, 2004

                                       New Year's Resolution

Make none.

Happy New Year!

December 25, 2003

Winter

 

Is it because I was recently in Florida where reds, yellows, oranges and all shades of green stimulate my color senses, that the black, white, grays and browns of winter seem so stark this year? Or is it the early snow that creates white outlines on every black branch overhead where my green canopy used to be? Is it the cold weather which makes permanent the two inch white armrest on the Adirondack chair outside my window and hardens the merinque topping on my bird bath lemon pie? Or is it the full moon  that turns the sky into an orange-gray softness at night and creates those intricate black silhouettes on the unbroken snow?

      No matter.  When a pair of cardinals break the gloomy colorscape with their bright red and dusky brown presence, and when at night a single window shines with an orange light and  blue-white smoke billows up from a chimney, then I know that winter with all its gray and brown and black and white can be beautiful.

And BTW, Merry Christmas!

December 18, 2003

MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY

 

Woodrow Wilson brought our country into World War I saying “The world must be made safe for democracy.”  Then came World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and on and on. So the question: Is Saddam Hussein the last evil man on earth?  Will all evil men, seeing this man’s pathetic capture, now say to themselves, “I’ll stop the torture, the killing, the making of Weapons of Mass Destruction because George W. will get me?  Is Mehn-tal-Lee Ihl in North Korea shaking in his boots and rewriting his torture policies and re-tooling his Weapons of Mass Destruction machines?  Are we done with the Hitlers and the Caligulas for all time?

      I hope so. And I’ll vote for George W. for the rest of his and my life if his army in Iraq and his catching Saddam Hussein means no more evil despots and suffering of innocents.  I really would.

     I hope I’m wrong when I say that it’s hard to believe that democracy will reign all over the world (although history shows that it appears to be heading in that direction) and, even more importantly, with democracy will come World Peace.  I can only hope that man has become civilized enough to realize that physical brutality and enslavement of people gets you nowhere.

     Finally, I dare say that throughout history, the male despots and tyrants have far outnumbered the female.  Let’s free the women of the world and put them in the driver’s seat (literally, in Saudi Arabia).  Let’s have more Grandma Rulers and see if the violence and cruelty diminishes. Go Girl!

December 11, 2003

 Presidential Election Round One

 

Where is Abraham Lincoln when we need him? Tall, resourceful, principled.  John Kerry LOOKS like him, but I’m afraid, John, Abraham Lincoln you are NOT. The candidates are either too wimpy (Lieberman), too young (Edwards), too blonde (Gephardt), too shoot from the hip (Bush, Clark) too inexperienced (Braun, Sharpton), too dye-your-hair (Kucinich). Maybe Howard Dean but he always looks a little surprised that he’s on the list.  I’d vote for Hillary Clinton any day. She’s smart, careful, thoughtful and experienced.

  Questions for the candidates at the next debate;

What do you read to be informed?

Whom would you choose to help you?

What do you have for breakfast? (Start the day wisely and the rest will follow)

Have you raised a child?

Do you own a gun?

Have you shopped for groceries lately?

When you get up in the morning do you make your own bed?  Put on slippers? (Okay, I’m just nosey)

and DEFINITELY not Al Gore until he FIXES HIS HAIR!

 

 December 4, 2003

 

              Here Come’s Winter!

 

     The Fall holidays are done; orange and brown are out, red, white and green are in. The wood is stacked, the streets have been cleaned, the garden hose detached,the lawn mower oiled and moved to the back of the garage, making way for the snow shovel. The leaves are all down except for a few stubborn clingers, the finches and robins have flown south and Christmas is approaching.

     A raccoon appears near my back door. He has a beautiful winter coat, all fuzzy and clean and multicolored. In the morning the cars on the street are covered with frost or a light dusting of snow and as they move out they leave a cloud of steam. People walk faster to work, wear jackets and coats and mittens and gloves.  Winter is coming and I love it.

Friday, November 28, 2003

No Horizons with Verizon!  Awful.

 

Of course we have horizons. And no telephone company can take them away. When Verizon first came on the market, I thought that it was pronounced VERY-zon, and it was quite a stretch to figure out what they were trying to invoke. All companies try to have you conjure up an image as you say the name, as in Cinergy, you think Cincinnati Energy, Microsoft, a soft microphone, and so I had VERY-zon, pulling up a picture of a very sound? a very tone? a very tall son?  But, it turns out, it should be pronounced ver-EYE-zon, and thence hor-EYE-zon which can not be abolished, no matter how many cell phones are beeping.

My dictionary says that a horizon is “a circle that bounds the part of the earth’s surface visible from a given point.” You will always have a horizon, whether it be your neighbor’s rooftop or a distant mountain peak. No horizons?  And say what you will about Floriduh, it has spectacular horizons. Nothing can compare to standing on the beach, having the wind blowing the waves into white topped breakers, the sandpipers skittering on the shore, the flock of majestic pelicans floating above and looking out over the horizon where the sky and the curve of the earth meet and there’s nothing between you and Portugal.

No horizons? Turn off your cell phone. Turn off the TV.  Take an evening walk and watch the sun set on the real horizon. It’s free.

    

 

 

Friday, November 21, 2003

Thanksgiving

 

Are we the only animal that takes such delight in communal, social eating? Sparrows eat together, but they don’t seem to be enjoying it much. Lions gather round the carcass, but only out of necessity.   Certainly we are the only ones that send out invitations, plan for days ahead, put a leaf in the table and dredge up extra chairs.

There are no records of big family dinners among the cave dwellers, but we do know that Julius Caesar outdid himself once by setting up 22,000 tables and serving dinner to everyone. Now, that’s a lot of salad, Caesar! The early Celts were famous for their raucous banquets.  They literally fought for the best portion of the pig (I have no idea what that would be) and so much wine was consumed that dinner could easily turn into a brawl.

 Nowadays, even though some family dinners come precariously close to  brawl, there’s rarely violence, and most often dinners, especially holiday dinners, are times of reunions, pleasant conversation and good food. It’s a time to remember to be grateful for the basic necessities that most of us enjoy.  It’s a time to be grateful to the early settlers who survived that first year and to the Native Americans who helped them.  It’s time to be grateful for all those Founding Fathers who persisted in maintaining their independence and who forged together a democratic republic which protects our freedoms. I’m grateful.  Happy Thanksgiving.

  

Friday, November 14, 2003

                The Wild Life

 

Some of my contemporaries (those with spouses and resources) have retired to their dream homes on the waterfront and spend their hours playing golf and watching wildlife. I, having neither spouse nor resources, remain in town, not playing golf but, indeed, watching wildlife. Besides the urban squirrels, the lost opposum and the flock of sparrows, I am privileged to watch the two-legged untrappable, unflappable twenty year old wildlife. Just this morning I look up from my knitting and out the door of the house across the street flies a girl in shorts, tee shirt and bare feet (It’s a cold morning in early November) and grasping a notebook she runs across the alley, through the neighbor’s back yard and disappears.  That’s wild.

One breezy day last spring, from the back roof of that same house there flew a flock of papers, white 8 and a half by eleven flutterers  sailing into the trees and landing in the street, in my driveway, on the lawn. Anguished faces peered from the roof. Soon the ersatz sun bathers were out on the lawn, gathering up what I suppose was a priceless term paper.

  Last year was really wild in the house directly across the street.  Male creatures enjoyed many a keg party, one culminating with the alpha male smashing a huge pumpkin on his closely shaven head and then donning a full bodied cow suit and running up and down the sidewalk yelling at passing cars and waving a sign that said “Eat More Chicken!” Of course, I thought it was a Dalmatian Dog suit (those black and white spots) and that made it all Really Wild.  May it never end!  

Friday, November 7, 2003

I live in a University town, a once lovely square mile of private homes, many built in the 19th century.  Once lovely but now bordering on ugly, since some time in the past 20 years, the lunkheads who run the town decided to allow students to live off campus and bring their cars to school.  This, of course, led to an over abundance of cars and an under abundance of parking spaces.  So the knuckleheads who run the town decided that every time a greedy landlord cut up a beautiful home into student apartments, he had to provide parking spaces on his property.  So now we’re looking at spacious green lawns turned into car lots, except my little house which I hang on to and my little green lawn and garden which stand out on a street of beer cans, rubbish barrels and cars, cars, cars.

     Be that as it may, I actually enjoy having students as neighbors.  There’s a certain sense of Peter Pan’s Never Never Land here, as we never grow up and every year my neighbors remain the same age, late teens, early twenties. So I can never grow old with them (yeah, right!). Student neighbors come in certain groups; girls, who are good, boys, who are okay, accountants, the perfect neighbors, and hockey players (call the cops).

     I’m not the only real person living in town, and lately there has been some political action to keep the square mile inhabitable.  I’m hopeful that town and gown can live harmoniously.  Certainly my current student neighbors have been reasonably quiet and neat and I’m hoping it’s a trend. 

Friday, October 31

 Lighten Up, World!

 

It’s time to lighten up, World!  I watched the disgraceful spectacle (among several, I might add) of the Chicago Cubs fan being booed and hissed and escorted from the park for his own safety after trying to catch a fly ball and interfering with the play. How many others had their hands out? It’s only a game. Lighten up!

     A police officer writes a ticket for a car parked on the street in the wrong direction. So all the headlights are not facing in the same direction. Lighten up!

     So your 30 foot street will be extended with a 40 foot street and there will be more traffic.  Get speed bumps!  Set up a lemonade stand!  Lighten up! That’s progress!

     And mind you, I didn’t say “Light Up!” as in Bill Clinton’s smoking but not inhaling, or “You Light Up My Life” or the first George Bush with his Thousand Points of Light.  By the way, was that for World Peace?  Was George W. not in the room? Not listening?

     How about my student who dared to correct her father’s grammar (“It’s ‘I could not care less’, not ‘I could care less’”) and got yelled at. Lighten up, Dad.  Be glad she’s learning something.

     A professor at UCLA writes a scorching criticism of my book because my Indo European roots are out of date and the Sanskrit is incorrectly quoted.  Good Heavens! Lighten up!  How many Sanskrit readers were offended?  How many Sanskrit readers ARE there?

     Not that all these events don’t have their serious objectives.  You shouldn’t interfere with the professional players, you need to drive on the right side of the road, no one wants through traffic on a dead end street and no father needs to be corrected by a daughter.  Still, let’s keep our perspective.  Life is too short to be angry, mad or picky.  Lighten up!

    

   

Friday, October 24

                   Trees

 

      Facts about trees: a tree is a tall plant with a single stem. Trees today are the heaviest living things ever to have existed on Earth. Sequoias can weigh six thousand tons.  Some trees, like the oak, ash and beech, can be heavier than any animal, taller than many buildings and older than God.

     Even more enthralling is what a tree DOES.  Every year a tree pumps several tons of water nearly 100 feet into the air.  It produces 100,000 leaves and covers over a half an acre of trunk and branches with new bark.

     I was in awe of trees before I knew all that. Now, I am even more so.      My back yard has a canopy of deciduous trees, mostly oaks, maples, ash, and hackberries. (The word canopy is from the Greek konopos, meaning, of all things, a mosquito. How ancient is that little bugger!). My canopy is not so low and dense that monkeys can swing from one side to another as in Tarzan’s jungle, but it is a canopy nevertheless.  Once in a while I can see through the little patch of blue a tiny silver plane on its way to Chicago or a chicken hawk circling. But now the canopy is coming down and my back yard has an ankle deep carpet of yellow, brown,and orange leaves.

     And I am in awe that the natural cycle of the trees continues in spite of all the cars and the pollution they bring, in spite of acid rain, in spite of disease and tar spot fungus and destructive bugs and critters and men with chain saws. The mighty tree stands as a monument to the power of Nature and a rebuke to Mankind whose greed and materialism will seek to destroy it.

 

for Monday, October 13, 2003

           Those #@*& Yankees!

 

     Long ago I stopped going to major league baseball games – too much hassle with the parking, walking, etc. – with the exception of last summer when I got to sit in the tenth row right behind the dugout in Fenway Park. What a view!  How much better than watching on TV!  When you’re there, you see the whole field at once.  You can see how FAST the ball is thrown, you feel the dust billowing up from the collision at home plate.  On TV all you get to do is look into the pitcher’s eyeballs, or watch the guys in the dugout do disgusting things like spit, chew and scratch.

      But Oh how I love the playoffs! I don’t watch baseball on TV very much all summer, but come October, playoff time, what a treat!  So during the Red Sox win over the Athletics, two guys collide in the outfield, and there they are, lying on their backs, possibly unconscious, concussed or dying, and the second baseman (or somebody) steps OVER the injured guy, EXTRACTS the ball and makes a play. That’s the desire to win!

     Finally, what’s the deal with all this finger pointing to Heaven? Is God helping you hit a home run?  Does He have favorites? Isn’t She going to help everyone?  At this rate, everyone at bat will be crossing themselves or finger pointing to the Lord. But, oh well, I’ve got some bad news. Nothing’s going to help you, YANKEES!

for Monday, October 6, 2003

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(With apologies to Kalman ,Meyerowitz and New Yorkistan.)

 

                                                  Bushwacknia

 

Last week I was watching Rummy testify before a congressional committee, defending President Bush’s request for 86 billion dollars for the war against terrorism (formerly the war in Iraq, formerly the war against weapons of mass destruction, formerly the war against Saddam, really, the war to protect our oil interests).  In his proud, grim, squinty-eyed (supposed to be steely-eyed) demeanor, Rummy ticked off the list of MANY (and you thought this was a go-it-alone President!) countries that have joined us in this endeavor.  Unfortunately by the time he was 3 or 4 names into the list, I was laughing so hard I missed them.  But I think the following countries were included; Italy, UK, Balklavia, Eastern Slowackia, Western Slowackia, Southern Slowackia, Northern Slowackia, Northeastern Slowackia, Kolslawia, Kaching, Checkoutnia, Smallplatz, Badchecknia, Smallpopnia, Dogpatz, Postofficeboksnia, Threehutz, Twoguysandadognia, Gobaknia and Rejeks.  Go Team!



Assembly Line Education

As pointed out in the latest issue of THE NEW YORKER (Sept. 15, 2003), by
Malcolm Gladwell, our federal government is bent on tweaking the educational
system again, this time based on the philosophy that education is like the Henry Ford assembly line and you can put the child on the conveyor belt at Kindergarten and 12 years later, out he pops, all educated.
   The article goes on to dispel the notion that anyone can measure the
child's progress along the way. Proficient is the current buzz word.  Gladwell
describes three methods of discovering proficiency.  One, the "contrasting groups" method involves a large group of teachers who identify students whom they believe are proficient in a given subject.  Those students then are tested and their grades are the proficiency standard. A second method, "the bookmark", involves ranking questions and then an educator chooses the one that would separate the proficient from the losers. Finally, the Jaeger-Mills method in which educators assign ratings to test questions.  In an article by Robert Linn of the University of Colorado, the state of Kentucky gave a reading test to middle school students and used all three methods to label proficiency.  With the contrasting group method, the pass rate was 22.7 per cent. With bookmark, 61 per cent passed and with Jaeger-Mills, only 10.5 per cent passed. Hmmmm.
    Years ago I came to the conclusion that education is nowhere near like an
assembly line.  For one thing, the product frequently just hops off and walks
away.  Some stay on the line but turn their backs.  Some actively resist,
throwing your screws and bolts back at you, while others resist in a more subtle, secretive way, sabotaging your best creative efforts by cheating. Teaching is not creating a product and a teacher's best efforts can produce results that vary wildly from fantastically brilliant to dismal failure. On the other hand, I think the best measure of educational success is, ironically, by looking at the final product.  Is the graduate well adjusted to deal with the adult world?  Is he equipped with the basic skills of reading, writing and computing?  Does he have a rudimentary knowledge of technology? Is he healthy?  Can he swim? Does he smile a lot? Does he have an open mind?  Does he like to learn?  These are the measures of an educated person.  These should be our goals.