Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CHRISTMAS EVE


Lucky for us this Christmas Eve that this is what the front yard looked like.........late last week. The southern Willamette Valley has been spared the snow and ice blessing the rest of the Pacific Northwest.


We had our Christmas dinner Sunday with my my football playing nephew. And he made it safely home to Portland Monday. His dad works for Sysco in Wilsonville. And luckily Sysco is close to I5. I honestly don't know if he was able to drive his car all the way home of if he parked his car and rode home with his dad in the family's big ass Ford. SUV's do have their place. The kids have between one to three FEET of snow at their place.


This is not normal for this part of the country, even for this time of year. IN this part of the country snow is usually measured in inches; not feet. Especially on the valley floor. We’ve lucked out because there are hills south of Salem and I think the coldest air just couldn’t make it this far south. You have my sympathy up there, but frankly I wouldn’t trade places.


Seattle has been especially bad because so many of the hills the city is built on are pretty steep and as of this morning Portland was chain up or else. And we really wish you'd just stay home and avoid the ruts in the ice on the roads. And I'm not telling Lisa anything she doesn't know. I do pray you guys don't pick up any more snow tonight.


Anyway, the unfortunate marriage of Pacific rain and extremely cold air leaking through the Great Northwest Wind Tunnel has made for one unholy mess north of Salem. The Eastern Oregon folks weren't planning to come down because of some health problems anyway and our possible plans to go East were tanked by the weather.

Now all the Portland contingent has to do is get Jon to PDX on Christmas Day so he can fly south to join the team for the Holiday Bowl. At least it'll be warm in San Diego.


So it's a nice, quiet Christmas Day at home for Mom, me and the cats. Thank heaven for telephones and instant messaging. At least the goodie box we sent east by UPS made it to Umatilla before I84 was closed over the weekend. When semi's can't make it; you know it's bad.
So, I hope everybody is safe and warm tonight. Hug everybody extra close even if you have to do it in your dreams.

Monday, December 8, 2008

THE EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD

School gardens aren’t a new idea. Upscale Montessori and Waldorf classrooms have incorporated hands on learning for decades. But, until recently, you didn’t find very many school gardens in big city schools.

The path to this edible schoolyard starts in Berkley’s Chez Panisse restaurant. Co-founder Alice Waters is one of the pioneers in the use of fresh, local, in season ingredients. The restaurant models its offerings around the small French eateries with menus that reflect what was available in the local markets that morning.

Add a local middle school principal less than happy about a story in the local paper that quoted Ms Winter’s remarks about the appearance of grounds around his school and you get……fresh veggies. In 1993 Martin Luther King Middle School had nearly one thousand students from widely divergent economic and ethnic backgrounds. The school cafeteria was closed; it was too small. Students could buy microwaved or package items at a location in the parking lot. The school was nearly surrounded by blacktop.

The principal wrote Alice a note. She asked him to lunch. When the idea for the school garden was broached “she was already at step ten.” It took nearly two years but part of the black top has been replaced by a one acre organic garden. The students incorporate what they learn in the garden with their science, math and language classes.

The cafeteria has been renovated and is also a class room. The kids learn how to prepare what they’ve grown, cook it and serve it. Approximately one third of the schools students prepare and share what they’ve grown each week. They sit down at tables with tablecloths and flowers and share what they’ve prepared.

Along the way the students learn where their food comes from. Their garden is a little oasis in the city. They learn there is a cycle from worm to soil to food to the kitchen and back again.The kids even build simple fences and arbor type structures with their teachers. Each ninety minute garden class is followed the next day with journal entries. Many of the class room lessons are ecology based and may include studying the effects of pesticides, composting, or growing earthworms.

Link to the Edible Schoolyard website. Includes information about the garden, lesson plans, and some recipes.

Cross posted in Women On.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A CALORIE IS A CALORIE, NO MATTER WHERE IT COMES FROM

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…..wait that’s another story; but it seems almost that long since I took chemistry in high school. That’s where I first learned all about calories. Not the calories in chocolate, but as a unit of measurement. A calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one cubic centimeter of liquid, in the lab it’s usually water, one degree centigrade. That energy is stored in the fuel you’re using and a calorie is a calorie whether it’s stored in chocolate or oil.

If the calorie you’re interested in happens to come from a steak it may have taken up to fifty four fossil fuel calories to create the one calorie in the steak that you can actually benefit from. That fossil fuel was used to plant, harvest, process and ship the grain used as cattle feed, usually a feedlot. The fancy term is CAFO, or concentrated animal feeding operation. Then more fossil fuel was used to transport the critters to the feed lots, process them and ship them to market. Then we drove to the store and bought the beautifully shrink wrapped cuts of beef, but that fuel almost looks like a drop in the bucket.

One pound of conventionally raised feed lot beef may have used up to forty five thousand fossil fuel calories by the time it reaches your plate. At approximately thirty one thousand calories in a gallon of gasoline, do the math. And that’s just one pound of beef. According to one source on the internet Americans consumed more than twenty seven BILLION pounds of beef in 2005. While the calorie counts for beef may vary by the cut, that’s still a hell of a lot of fuel just to put a piece of prime rib on my dinner menu. And that’s just the beef. I haven’t added chicken, turkey or pork to the mix. And I love good beef. It's just that the steak looks awfully small next to all those barrels of oil.

Cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys were designed to eat grass, bugs, weeds, acorns etc. I have this sinking feeling that switching everybody to the one hundred mile a gallon Chevy Volt (if it ever gets to production but that’s another story) won’t help much as long as we keep raising grain to feed to the critters that feed us.

Information obtained on the net and from Frances Lappe’s Hope’s Edge

WALKING WITH HOPE

Has it really been over four years since Lisa over at Coming to Terms and Women on encouraged me to become a citizen in the land of the Blog? Granted I haven’t been posting much lately. Work and then not work. I’m in good company; over a half million of us lost our jobs last month.

I spent the better part of a month fighting off some bug or another. Not enough to knock me out just enough to leave me feeling “bleah.” But, what I really had was a colossal case of writer’s block. I couldn’t figure out how to work what I was reading into either of my general journals. I toyed with the idea of starting another journal. Yah right, girl you can’t keep what you’ve got active, plus keeping up with Women On.

So, Cottage is getting a new name. Things are looking pretty hopeless right now, but I’ve been reading about people who are chipping away at that hopelessness one garden, one farmers’ market, one seed bank, and one micro loan at a time. So, I’m going to see if I can tell some of their ories. So, welcome to Walking With Hope.

Pandora wasn't supposed to open that damned box, but she did. And when she worked up the courage to peek inside again she found the one thing that hadn't escaped before she slammed down the lid the first time. She found Hope and she set it free.

I welcome anyone with similar stories to tell to join the Walk.

Friday, November 28, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

We were invaded by Portland yesterday. I’m really having trouble getting used to being the second shortest person in the room when all the natives are visiting. The shortest member of that family is my sister……..and she’s five nine. It was fun. We all ate too much, of course. The standard turkey and the trimmings. We do make a very good pumpkin pie if I do say so.



Mom sent a healthy supply of the leftovers out the door with sis, including a pie or the foot ball playing nephew. He was on his way to another dinner with some friend. Then it’s on to Corvallis. The Civil War game between the U of O and OSU is tomorrow and frankly………I’m having trouble deciding who to root for. OSU is tied for first in the Pac 10 conference and if they win they go to the Rose Bowl. Oregon is number three in the conference and win or lose they’ll spend the holidays somewhere other than Eugene, just not in Pasadena. Who’d have thought I’d end up thinking “what the hell, I’ll root for both teams.”



It was fun watching dad and the older boys trying to teach their “little” brother how to play cribbage. Little? Number three will probably end up the tallest of the lot. Mom and dad used to play the game a lot, but bless me if I really understand how the game is scored. The kids brought a couple of movies down with them. We got a kick out of a film called WALL E. A futuristic story about a banged up recycling robot and a planetary probe with a definite shoot first and ask questions later attitude. A nice little film with some good laughs.



And a good time was had by all. Truly something to be thankful for in these uncertain times.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

STAR NURSERY

A shot from the Hubble telescope of a star cluster called NGC 602. Located about 200,000 light years away the stunning gas clouds surround bright young stars just out of their birth clouds. The solar winds from the young stars are pushing the gas clouds into fantastic shapes. I'm not sure if it looks like a strange fringed flower or some fantastic space monster out to "eat" the stars.

This picture is almost restful. I love these pictures.

Monday, October 20, 2008

STAR FIRE

Shot from one of my favorite websites, Astronomy Picture of the Day.


This is a Hubble shot of the Lagoon Nebula from 1995. A fantastic shot of dust and gas lit by the young stars you can barely see through the dust. A shot of almost every colors of the palate. The nebula lies about 5,000 light years away in the constellation Sagitarius.

It's almost an impressionist painting. I could get lost in this for hours.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

RESTING UP

Bandit resting up after surviving the Invincible Purple Feather Duster of Death.
Actually it's a feathery kitty toy that's seen better days. It's funny how each one reacts to it. Bandit attacks, Lucky tries to love it to death and Misty just watches. She watches it so closely that if you swirl it she tries to keep focussed on it. I'm not sure how she keeps from getting dizzy, because I get dizzy just watching her. LOL

BACK TO THE FEEDERS


Now that the weather is cooling down the birds are back at the feeders. Juncos are usually ground feeders but this little guy was checking out the supplies in the home made feeder. Good thing because the ones on the ground didn't show up as well as this little guy did. I mean I could see them in the picture but it wouldn't post very well.

Incidentally the feeder is plastic plant pot base. I used and awl to punch some holes in the bottom so water will drain out. Then s hooks and chains to hold it. Took maybe half an hour to make. The squirrels hand from the branch, use one paw to pull up a chain and use the other to grab the seeds. They are very, very good at it. If a little messy.



Saturday, October 18, 2008

EXPERIMENT IN THE KITCHEN

They aren't the prettiest breadsticks I've ever seen. You won't find these at the Olive Garden. LOL But I did find a recipe for a soft breadstick. We aren't talking Artisan bread here. They've got milk, shorting and eggs in the dough. But, they're so good. It's a version of Challah dough. I've been trying to do something like this off and on since I worked at that little bakery in the mall. I haven't quite worked out how to make garlic sticks yet. As in garlic in the dough, not on the dough. And these are really good with cheddar cheese melted on top. Really, really good actually.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

IS IT SPRING YET?

It’s funny how I start out heading one direction with an entry and it ends up someplace else, so someplace else.

It’s the between time of the year in the Southern Willamette valley. In a way it’s an odd time too. They grow a lot of grass seed and forage in the fields around down and up the little valleys. It’s been harvested, plowed and reseeded. If we get enough rain and sun this time of year some of the fields turn a glorious emerald green. It feels just a little schizo driving by the fields on the way home from work. One field will be bright green while the pasture next to it is still autumn brown.

Most of the trees haven’t started to turn yet, but they’re getting a cast to the color that says “it won’t be long.” Funny thing is, a few trees have made the change and are on their way to leafless. Our dogwood is half the way to leafless while the maples on the hill behind the house are still green.
The ornamental trees I drive by on the way home are flaming orange on their way to leafless and the poplar plantation out by the airport is still green. Go figure. And when we do finally get some really great color going, we get a herking rain and windstorm and all the leaves turn into mulch.

Goddess, I am so not ready for winter this year. I don’t know if the it’s the crappy economy or the endless political campaigning, I just want to skip winter and head straight into spring.

We had company this weekend and I didn't get my usual dose of dirt under my nails. Maybe what I need is a good session in the garden.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BRONX CHEER

Well, I know what i'll be doing for the next month. Thanks for the warning. (not) See you in the funny papers. Actually I have a couple of experimental Blogger sites that I've played with over the years. See you in the funny papers.

Monday, September 15, 2008

FRUIT AND FLOWERS

We got this dahlia this spring and put it in a planter out front behind the Susans.

And the close up. Doesn't look quite real does it? We did peaches last weekend. And as we were sorting, blanching and peeling I realized just how much this bloom looks like a nice ripe Improved Elberta.

The peaches were wonderful this year. We had a couple of really hot days to get the ripening started and then a few cool showery days to build up the juice. But, these were so ready to go this year that just putting them in the boxes was bruising them. Didn't lost a one though. And they're safely tucked in their jars just waiting for winter to give up some of that sunshine.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

JUST A SUGGESTION

This is a lunch hour quickie.

I’m going to make a couple suggestions. First up I don’t equate political parties with the Sabbath. But, both were made for man, not the other way around.

So first up. If you don’t support the official candidate of either party, cast a write in ballot for the person you believe can do the job. I don’t care if it’s Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Mitt Romney or Hillary Clinton. Follow your beliefs about who would be the best leader for the country. The candidate you believe in may not get elected but your vote still earns you right to holler about the outcome. Collect enough votes for the unofficial candidates and the parties will have to take notice.

Second, contact your local legislator and your representatives in congress. It’s way past time to amend the constitution to allow electoral votes to be allotted by proportional vote instead of the all or nothing system we have now.

I’m not sure how I feel about abolishing the Electoral College. The Founders weren’t too big on allowing the “mob” to have too large a voice in the government. Women and many men didn’t have the vote back in 1787 and it took the seventeenth amendment to the Constitution to allow the direct election of Senator. The first election took place in 1914 folks.

Any thoughts about allotting votes by proportion of popular votes vs. outright abolition of the Electoral College?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

OREGONIAN CARTOON

For the record, I believe that politicians should be allowed to change their minds. New information comes in, people mature and what seemed like good policy five years ago isn't anymore.

But, I couldn't pass up this cartoon from Jack Ohman. I think Jack must have studied at the Mike Royko school of editorial comment.

And if you go to the Go Comics website, you'll find that he's pretty much an equal opportunity skewerer.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

I KEEP TRYING

I’ve done a tiny bit of asking around at work about the presidential campaign and……I’m not quite sure what to think. Several of my female co-workers think the ‘Pubs are just great. Obama’s education, legal work, organizational work, state legislature service and teaching are dismissed out of hand. Granted these gals are about my age, maybe a little younger. They’re at least high school graduates or maybe a little college. But, my cats are more curious about what’s going on in the world

A remark that the changes they’re promising could have been done already is also dismissed out of hand. It’s depressing to say the least. I suspect that the family that owns the company is of a more liberal bent and I have seen a few Obama bumper stickers in the employee lot. Fingers permanently crossed, at least in my mind. With luck, Libertarian Ron Paul may just bleed off enough Republicans who can’t bring themselves to vote for Obama, but can’t stomach the “pit bull with lipstick” either. A girl can hope can’t she?

Speaking of the “pit bull,” there was a letter in the Oregonian this morning from a gal who is a real life community organizer in the Portland metro area. She was not amused at Palin’s crack at Obama’s experience. She help folks with everything from keeping the power on to finding money to make the rent. And, as she put it, “I have to find real money to cover these things, I can’t just print more.” We’ve got a long road ahead of us folks.

I know who I’m voting for in the November but I don’t think I’ll have much luck changing any minds around here. Hell my eighty two year old mother is more up on political issues than this bunch. Lisa, I have to keep reminding myself that the situation at that little bakery in the mall was far more unique than I realized at the time.

In other election news here in Oregon, the ‘Pubs are so bankrupt they couldn’t even field a candidate to oppose Peter DeFazio in the fourth district. He isn’t totally unopposed; there are candidates from the Constitution and Green parties running. And that’s really sad. The system, such as it is only works when there are candidates running from all parties. Granted, if Saint Peter was running as a Republican I’d still think twice about voting for him; just because of the party label.

I think that’s what’s happened in Oregon. A lot of new voters are registering as Independents and I suspect that more than a few Republicans are simply leaving the party and doing the same thing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

FOUR MORE YEARS? NO!

I haven’t had a lot to say on the candidates so far this season. Mostly because while the names have changed I feel like I’m repeating myself. And to be honest I’ve had my nose stuck in a half dozen different books, none of them political

Wikipedia entries can hardly be called unbiased, but they do try and entries that sound too much like canned spiels get labeled as such.

These are links for the entries on Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. Ok, so Obama has spent two years in the Senate. He served in the state legislature longer than Palin has been governor. He not only has a doctorate in the law but he’s practiced the law and he’s taught the law.

Palin has a barely used journalism degree and a minor in political science. She tried to get her former brother in law fired from his state trooper position after the couple went through a divorce and when that didn’t work she fired the man who wouldn’t fire him. They’re trying to get an investigation started on that. It’s small potatoes but that’s how corruption gets started boys and girls. We’ve all seen how the current administration has misused, ignored and tried to corrupt our federal legal system. We can’t afford four more years of an administration that openly obeys the few laws it agrees with and treats the rest as optional.

After the crew of one or two term Republican (female) wonders we had in Oregon in the last decade, Palin would be hard put to be elected dog catcher let alone to the state legislature in this part of the Lower Forty Eight. And she sure as hell wouldn’t be elected to astate wide position; much less governor.

It’s past time for the Democratic candidates to take the gloves off and point out that while Barack Obama’s resume at the federal level may be a little thin, the rest of his experience is not.

I guess just good enough has finally made the big time. McCain and Palin are just good enough to run. I don’t buy just good enough at the store, I’m not buying it at the ballot box either.

Monday, August 18, 2008

CHANGING OUR DEFINITIONS

When you start reading the meditations of a monk who was also a clear eyed social critic, you never know where you’ll end up. But, I think it’s going to be a heck of a ride

Psalm 50:18. “When you see a thief you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers.”

The root word for adultery comes from the Latin “to corrupt” and, the usual meaning of adultery is sexual. In fact most of the actions that our society recognizes as “sins” seem to be confined to the sexual. Who’s sleeping with who may be a sin, but that’s the least of our problems.

 I’m beginning to believe our social definition of adultery is a little too, shall we say, confining? Marriage is a covenant, a promise.  Can we take this past the sexual? What other covenants (promises) do we have as a society? Beyond the if you tell me I’m buying sugar, I better not find salt in the container covenant between seller and buyer? How about this one?

I, insert name here, " do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The wording comes straight from the Constitution.

And my little meditation doesn’t even cover the sweetheart contracts between our elected hired help and corporations that used to be run by some of the hired help. I guess they’re hoping that while we’re distracted by wardrobe malfunctions, the over the top antics of cable comedies, and  the potential unions of Molly/Holly and Adam/Steve, we won’t notice that some of the elected hired help have stolen everything that was and wasn’t nailed down. Including the nails.

Adultery in high places anyone?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE?

Figworts are a type of plant that includes snapdragons. I have no idea what kind of figworts the hermit was looking at.

 

Thomas Cowan included this story in his book Yearning for the Wind. There was hermit who lived by a lake in Ireland. Early one morning he set out with his boat in search of a fish for his breakfast. As he rowed he spotted the hermit from the other side of lake heading his way. Without a boat. The other man appeared to be walking on the water. Each regarded the other. The first man finally asked “what are you doing out here?” (apparently he refrained from asking the obvious-how are you staying above water) The second answered, “I’m looking for flowers for my alter. What are you doing trying to row a boat across the meadow?” When the first one replied that he was fishing for breakfast, the second directed him to a clump of flowers (the figworts, whatever kind grow in Ireland I suppose) with the comment that the fish were biting over there. The hopeful fisherman caught his breakfast and the dry shod worshipper found the flowers for his alter.

 

Perhaps the story of Jesus walking on water is as much a matter of perspective as faith. And perhaps there’s not much difference between the two.  

BACK ON THE RADAR

Has it really been two weeks?

 

Yeah, I kind of fell off the radar for a bit here. It’s been an “interesting” couple of weeks. The Umatilla teacher sister came over for a short visit weekend before last. It’s the first time since the family moved to eastern Oregon that she made it over all by herself and stayed at our house. Not that staying with the in-laws is a real burden; Rick’s mom lives all of two blocks away.

 

But, the kids are pretty much grown and miracle of miracles, Rick is healthy this summer. We got to spend some good time together. Just as important, she was able to spend a lot of time with a long time friend who has been going through some tough times and she really needed a shoulder to lean on. Our biggest problems are time and distance. I’m nine years older, a completely different personality and they live half way across the state. It was a good visit, a really good visit.

 

We no sooner got her on the way home when the universe decided we hadn’t had enough lemonade or something. Thursday before last mom called me at work with three pieces of news: I was only expecting one. My nephew (Portland sister’s oldest) is playing his last year at the U of O this year and his family was coming down that day to watch a practice. That they were at our house was news I was looking forward to. Trouble is Lucky had to go to the vet and mom had just found out the transmission on the van was going out. Replacement cost? Oh, about $3,500.00. On a vehicle less than ten years old with less than 90,000 miles.

 

The cat is fine. It took a visit to the vet and some blood tests to find out she had an elevated white count, we don’t know from what and here’s a RX for an antibiotic. (sound of teeth grinding) We don’t know what the problem is but drug her anyway. If you can. I figure anything or anybody who can raise the kind of ruckusshe did can’t be that sick. I swear she knows what it sounds like when you’re getting the stuff ready and she definitely knows what towels are for. That cat could put Elvis impersonators to shame when it comes to the shimmy. And the stuff is banana flavored. When’s the last time you saw a cat chowing down on a banana? Not. Oh, hell drug is on Petmeds in pill form. Guess where I’m going if we need it again. I’ll slip it in her tuna.

 

As for that misbegotten excuse for a Oldsmobile? After careful consideration we traded it in for a 2007 Buick. Mom’s not ready to hang up her keys yet. It’s a good looking, one owner car and we went through the dealer she’s been trusting for about thirty years. So that’s how we spent last Saturday afternoon. Oh joy. I’d spent the morning waiting for the cable guys to show up and get us hooked up under a promo for digital cable. It’ll probably be worth it. Darned if I know yet. We haven’t watched enough TV this week to find out and we have another remote to keep track of.

 

The weekend wasn’t a total loss. Lisa from Coming to Terms was down for Scandie so we went out before it got busy and got in a good visit. We’ve made plans to go up north over Labor Day with a stop off to check in with dad. We haven’t made it to the cemetery this year. It’s not like he doesn’t know what’s going on but it feels kind of nice to check in with him once in awhile. LOL

 

It’s been hotter than heck Friday and Saturday. Hot, we expect but this part of the country is not known for staying hot all night. I keep telling myself tomatoes, tomatoes tomatoes as I drip. And it’s supposed to be in the seventies tomorrow. What a change.

 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

FAITH OR?

A story told by a man of deep, abiding and clear eyed faith.

A seventeenth century rabbi told this story. Two men were traveling through a forest. One sober, the other drunk. They were attacked by thieves who beat them and stole everything they had, including their clothes. When they finally reached the first village outside the forest the villagers asked them what had happened.

The drunken man (apparently still under the influence after all this time, but then this is a parable) answered first. “Everything was fine. Not a thing happened on the trip.” I suspect the villagers looked at him, each other, back to him and one of them shook himself a bit and asked the obvious question. “If nothing happened, why are you bloody, bruised and where in the name of all that’s holy are your clothes?”

The sober man broke in. “Don’t believe a word he says. There are outlaws in the forest. They attacked us. They took everything we had down to the last stitch of clothing. Be careful that what happened to us doesn’t happen to you”

Thomas Merton used this story in the preface of his collection of essays in Faith and Violence: Christian Teaching and Christian Practice published in 1967 as the country entered the worst of the violence related to the civil rights movement and the Viet Nam War protests.

The drunken man was so blind drunk that he “slept” through the whole attack and didn’t realize he was naked. (heck I’m surprised he was able to move much less walk if he was that blasted: but this is a parable).

 In his essays Merton asked this question. Can faith, religious or political, act as blinders or an anesthetic? Do we see the violence, fear and anger in others while being blind to our own? Do we keep insisting that we must be free to defend ourselves by any and all means available while denying others the right to defend themselves? “Our violence is good, your violence is unacceptable.” Does this sound depressingly familiar?

 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

SATURDAY IN THE GARDEN

Spent some time with the camera yesterday morning. This is one purple coneflower plant and the bees totally adore it. I counted at least three dozen blossoms or buds from this side before I gave up.

The three busy bees. There were more, but these were the ones that sat still long enought to get the shot without using a tripod.

This shot is kind of cheating. My camera is set to create the largest possible picture. Then I can crop out what I want. I can end up with what looks like a true close up shot without having to fool around with my tripod. The blossoms were just loaded with busy little visitors.

 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PUTTING IT IN A FRAME

This has been kicking around for awhile, but I’ve had trouble bringing all the threads together.  I’ve a got a picture. Now if I can just fit it in a frame
Harking back to my entries on canning and stuff.  It was work, but it wasn’t. There was time between batches to kick back, read a little, harass a little sister (or be harassed), pull a weed or three, to just be. That’s how I was raised. That’s what families do; or did. And that’s what they did for generations. What really bugs me is that when the work gets entered in the balance sheet for gross national product, all that ends up in the final total is the cost of the materials. There’s no line in GNP for the creation of the ties between friends and families.
The work was done within the family or with friends. Think back on all those stories of barn raisings and quilting bees. The work got done, but no money changed hands. More than likely everybody went home with tired bodies, full stomachs, the satisfaction of a job well done and enough juicy gossip to keep tongues wagging until the next get together.
No income was recorded. No taxes paid. Well, in our case, dad got paid by Pope and Talbot for managing one of their cutting crews, but that information got put on a different line on the balance sheet.
I’m sure it wasn’t some sinister conspiracy, but somehow we’ve been convinced that it’s more productive for both parents to work outside the home and pay someone else to provide the things we did for ourselves. Or try to squeeze all that “unpaid” work in around the edges.
And no, we didn’t do it all. No family could ever provide everything they needed from within the family. They always had to fill in with what they couldn’t do themselves. And no, I don’t want to live in a country where the only job for woman is in the home. I like having the choices.
But, I get the feeling it’s a giant shell game. The same work gets done. But, now the national economy recognizes the value of the work because a dollar value can be attached to it and taxes get paid. And somehow the parent that stays home is seen as being less productive than if they were in the paid job market.
And I guess you need to push to have both parents in the job market while the pressure keeps building to turn pre-school into kindergarten and kindergarten into the first grade. Can’t have those pesky children taking too much time to become employable for the jobs we’ve decided are worth paying for. There’s very little room anymore for clowns, dreamers, contemplatives or other square pegs.
I truly believe we’ve lost even more. There’s a knowledge that comes from having to manage things. You don’t learn that in a class room. There’s a knowledge that comes from knowing you won’t always get what you want the way you want it. You just might have to settle for something else. You may have to wait awhile. And you just might find out that what you get is so much more than you expected.

Monday, July 21, 2008

HEARING THE MUSIC

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

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

And then I find this:

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

by Thomas Merton

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

Sunday, July 20, 2008

WORD PICTURES

That last entry triggered some other memories of summers gone by. And it sort of grew like Topsy. This one sort of looks like the first chapter of War and Peace but, there was no good place to break it up.
Dad worked for Pope and Talbot as a logger and mom ran the house. Part of running the house meant ensuring that there was food in the pantry during the winter. My folks bought two things right after they got married. One was a sewing machine and the other was a pressure cooker. We still have the pressure cooker and it still works.
In a small logging town, actually any small town of the times, that meant keeping track of the garden, canning the produce and keeping an eye on the toddler (me) while you were doing it. Later, as sisters got added to the mix I got drafted into toddler watching duty along with mom. But it wasn’t all work. There was time to read. There was time to check out the dry creek bed down the street. When we moved to another place there was a culvert that ran under the rail road tracks across the street that just beckoned the imagination. There were also plenty of trips to the park at the other end of town on those hot summer afternoons. Oh, and television. Yeah, we had TV. Two channels, black and white, and if it blew a tube between paychecks it might not get replaced for a week or three. Imagine the horror these days. LOL
What we didn’t grow ourselves meant a drive into Eugene/Springfield and trips to the local orchards. The usual shopping list included corn, cabbage, cucumbers, apples, cherries, peaches and pears. The really good thing is that these don’t come on all at once. Cherries first, then peaches and pears, and apples anytime from August to November.
Funny, nowthat I think of it, they go in order of ease of processing. All you have to do is stem and wash the cherries. And they are canned pits and all. Peaches are scald, slice, pit and can. Pears are the hardest. Those little beggers are slippery. Apples will keep a couple of months if you keep them in a cool place. Oh, and fruit you can just do a half hour in a hot water bath. Pressure peaches and you get sauce. It still can behot and steamy work even if you aren’t keeping a weather eye on the pressure gauge.
And the corn, oh the corn. That was a trip. You blanch the corn in boiling water and then you cut it off the cob, pack it with a little salt and process it. We finally got smart and just moved the whole operation out into the driveway. We took the cutting operation outside because it’s a lot easier to hose down a driveway than get all those little corny bits out from under the cupboards. Corn flies.
The cabbage went for sauerkraut. That was usually the last up because the gal we bought the cabbage from wouldn’t sell kraut cabbage until after the first cold snap. Claimed the cabbage made better kraut that way. And who were we to argue. We may still have the kraut cutter. It looks like a washboard with blades.
The cukes went for pickles. I used a fork to poke holes in more cucumbers than I want to think about.
 And did I mention that the garden in Oakridge included strawberries, raspberries and boysenberries. They all went into the freezer or the jars. The neighbor kids were welcome to sample as long as they ate the ripe ones and didn’t mess with the green ones. About ninety percent of the time the kids went along with it. That’s good odds anytime. And there was always someplace around the edge of town where you could pick blackberries. With luck more berries went into the buckets than into us. They went into the larder, too.
There was a method to our madness. Once word got round in the family that we made good kraut, pickles, jams etc. guess what got passed around at Christmas? If all else fails, give goodies.
Some years when times were good in the summer the folks would order a quarter of beef. That’s literally one quarter of a steer folks. There isn’t a lot of steak on a quarter of beef but I don’t remember eating a lot of hamburger when we were kids. I think the tough cuts ended up being trimmed, cubed and canned.
You want tedious? Try nursemaiding a canner full of meat. Two hours at ten pounds pressure for each batch. It’s not like you have to watch it like a hawk just make sure it stays above ten pounds. Worth the trouble at the time though. It was fully cooked and ready to use; just open the jar.  And most important, it was there in the winter when the budget was usually pretty tight.
 Dad had coworkers who’d go to the coast in season and come home with a limit of salmon or other fish. Into the jars it went.
Oh, and the freezer was a full size <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Kenmore chest style freezer from Sears. Now that I think about it, just about every appliance came from Sears.  That monstrosity was about three years younger than me and it was huge. It was really something when I could finally get into the darn thing without having to use a chair, much less get at the stuff on the bottom without standing on my head.. It was big, clunky, and defrosting it was an all day operation.
Not thatyou spent all day on that job. We chipped, pried, wiped and dried between doing other things. I was in my mid forties before that sucker gave up the ghost. Something necessary finally crapped out and we couldn’t get parts for it. Heck, by then my sisters were married, raising their own families and we didn’t need something that big anyway. But, for heavens’ sake never give up on something while it’s still running.
I don’t want to make things sound better than they were. We didn’t get a dryer until Roberta (middle sister) was nearly out of diapers. That means the laundry got hung out winter or summer, sunshine or clouds. If it wasn’t quite dry, it got hung over chair backs and the like until was. If it was too wet it got hung on a laundry rack by the stove. Try drying heavy duty work jeans on a laundry rack. It takes awhile. I think we finally replaced the wringer washer when we moved back to Springfield when I graduated from high school.
There were times when dad’s clothes were so muddy mom had to hang them on the line and wash them down with hose before she could wash them. A fun job in the middle of winter.
Logging is not a life for a man going into middle age. It’s a life that wears you out, and it does it fast. If and when there were discussions about tight finances or fears for the future; and I know there were; they didn’t happen where we could hear them. Nature finally took any decisions or fears out of our hands when one of his knees went out. We moved back to Springfield, dad ended up on disability and mom ended up cooking for other peoples’ kids in a dorm kitchen at the U of O. I’m sure there were times when my sisters’ weren’t sure if I was their big sister or a substitute mom. Somehow we managed to get through it all.  We weren’t always smiling about it, but we did manage.
It isn’t and wasn’t a perfect life. It was just…..life. And it has never been boring. And if you were bored? You didn’t say anything where mom could hear you. She had sure fire cures for boredom. LOL Now that I think about it, she still has cures for boredom

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

POLITICS

For those who may have wandered in recently. My original journal can be found here. I just had to blow off some steam this morning and the results fit better over in Pixels.

I got into journaling writing about politics. But, I haven't been writing much about it lately. Frankly, I got tired of repeating myself. There's only so much you can say about the current (and future) crop of elected hired help: very little of it good. Outside of voting, there's not much I can do to change things at the national level. So, I've been sticking closer to home with my writing.

My head's been full of garden stuff. When you're just learning the cycle of the season you spend a lot of time trying to get your head around a load of new information. Sometimes I think I need earplugs to keep all the new info in where it belongs. I was sort of familiar with the very simple basics. This summer has been a whole new world.

Gardening and canning could be considered radical actions the way things are going. Who'd a thunk it?

So, the gardening stuff will stay here. And the politics and just about to blow the pressure gauge off the canner entries will be in Pixels.

Monday, July 14, 2008

THE WEEKEND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 12, 2008

THE CONEFLOWER ARMS

Here I thought these were flowers and they're really a hotel of sorts. Not that anyone is paying for their "rooms" except by just being who they are.

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

Warning: spider alert.

Granted, it's not much of a spider. It looks like a good stiff wind would blow it away. I was out early this morning. The sun was just starting to move into the yard and the "neighbors" hadn't started to wake up yet.

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

 

Monday, July 7, 2008

HOLIDAY WEEKEND

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Friday, July 4, 2008

LAVENDER

Blue oat grass and lavender. Shot from the front yard this morning.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

MISTY

This is Misty of the many names. Depending on her mood......and mine she may be Misty the Beady Eyed sister pouncer. In this case Bandit is just out of the picture on the receiving end of the "stare."

She has also been called Velcro and Misty the Magnificent.  Velcro because there are days when that's what she does. She's follows you around and claims a piece of your lap as often as possible. Misty the Magnificent because she has the greatest set of whiskers and eyebrows I've ever seen. She's also the hardest to cat to get a picture of. I guess I can add "Greta 'I want to be alone' Garbo" to the name list.

Sometimes when I'm sitting down she likes to get on my shoulder like a little kid. Unlike most toddlers she can be totally relaxed and then she literally launches into space. And she isn't too careful what part of me she uses for a launching pad sometimes.

And she's another one we basically got for the cost of getting her fixed and her shots. Sara, the kitty we had before Misty joined the crew, came down with a severe repiratory infection and just couldn't shake it so we had to let her go. Since these things always happen on the weekends this involved a trip to emergency vet. My question about how the local Humane Society was as a place to adopt a new kitty was answered with "we have kitties too."

The little furball of a Siamese kitten was already spoken for. As for the just out of kittenhood gray tabby who'd already had her first litter? She tucked her head under my chin and held on for dear life. It took a few days and the "I swear on a stack of holy books she'll be spayed" to get her home, ut she settled right in and has been harrassing Lucky ever since. It took her awhile, she's learned that if she can back Bandit into a corner, the Bandit will give way, even though she's helf again as big as Misty.

As for the name, her coat reminds me of the fogs and mists we get in the fall and winter at this end of the valley. So she bacame Misty.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

BLUE EYED SLEEPY

Of course you can't see her eyes since she's snoozin'. Bandit is literally almost three and is literally "three." Like most three year olds she does her best skirt the letter of the law. As you'll notice most of her is on the papers, NOT on the table. Of course she's on the papers that are on the table, but what the hey, who's counting right? I had a nephew who was a lot like that.

She wandered into the yard while mom was outside almost two years ago come September. Because she's such a big girl we didn't realize she was younger than she looked. We let her hang out on the porch, made sure she got fed and she sort of moved in. Let her in when she wanted to come in.

When the weather turned chilly a couple of the neighborhood scroungy toms got a little too interested. She didn't show up all on day and when I went out to check late in the evening they had her cornered under my car. I scared them off, she took for house and she's been in ever since. Well, apart from a trip or two to the vet to get fixed. She's slipped out a couple of times but she's been an inny ever since. The Bandit sticks pretty close but she is not really a lap cat. Tha's a good thing what with two laps and three cats. LOL

Saturday, June 28, 2008

GREEN EYES

This is Lucky of the green eyes and the striped tuxedo. Geez, she's almost twelve now. We adopted her from a coworker who took in a pregnant kitten. She found homes for the kittens and since Lucky and her cat didn't get along she needed a home. Rena called her Lucky (as in lucky to have a home) and we kept it for her.

She likes to hold hands, pats your face when she wants your attention and will hang out in your lap for as long as possible. Lucky is the queen of the other cats. Actually she's the smallest, but she more than makes up for it with attitude. Actually the face patting is an improvement as an attention getter. She used to flex her claws in my hip pocket when she thought I'd been spending too much time at the computer desk. A little flex the frist time, and a little more and a little more...........until I paid attention to her. Thirty minutes tops. She is one of the sweetest kitties we've ever had. She also has one meow that sounds a lot like no. And she uses it when no is the right thing to "say."

Friday, June 27, 2008

PINK MINI

We have flower pots on the porch and on the steps out front. This is the miniature rose that was saying hi when I got home yesterday. And the glowing red geranium and the white bacopa. A nice combo.

The blossom is a lot lighter than the bud. This one has a very light, sweet rose scent. I like the minis. If it was up to me all our roses would be miniatures. You can pack a lot in a small space.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

YELLOW ROSE

 

 

I guess you could call this the Yellow Rose of Oregon, (that isn’t really its name) and there’s a bit of a story behind it. When dad passed away back in ’95, mom’s little brother sent her a copy of the catalogue from the rose gardens up north of St. Paul with the message to order what she wanted in dad’s memory. So she did.

 

 

 

We planted it out back and it never really amounted to much. But, the darn thing wouldn’t give up either. So, when we started moving things around last year we gave it a new home on the south side of the house where there’s a lot more sun. It’s been a very happy and enthusiastic camper this year. Very enthusiastic. In fact I need to do a little judicious pruning every little while to keep it near the trellis and the arbor. In fact it reminds me a little of dad. It just needed the right place to stand to shine.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

THE FIRST

The first bud on the Peace rose started opening today. Sun, sun, sun. You didn't hear me say that. The blossom will fade to deep cream with rosy undertones as it opens fully.

Cross posted in Women On.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

THAT TIME OF YEAR

It's the lush time of year out here in the southern Willamette valley. It's been cool and damp so the trees, grasses and shrubs are still lush and green.

It's a riot of color along the south side of the house. Rhododenrons, red lupines, and day lily foliage along the house. The shot is through one of the huckleberry bushes. Huckleberries are related to blueberries, only smaller. And.......the berries are right on the branches, not in clusters. Picking those little suckers will be interesting. Darned if I 'm going to let anything get away though.

Just a shot of towards the hill in the back. Geraniums and hanging baskets. The base of the planter on the pavers is the chimney from a firepot. The actual pot is on the other side of the yard with a pot full of purple salvia on top of it. Well, it'll be full in a month or so. The cool weather is unusual but kind to the transplants.

I think the basel would be happier if the weather was warmer. I replaced the bell flowers with three volunteer lavenders. I'm hoping to have all perennials in the ground and the annuals in pots. Probably next year. There's only so much you can get in one year.

Lush greenery and blossoms along the sidewalk, including strawberries and ferns. Everything is that unbelievable green right now. Of course once it finally turns into summer and things dry out, the colors will shift. But, it will be great while it lasts.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Or at least I'll try not to let it controal me.

I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

From Dune by Frank Herbert.

This may end up being more than one entry. This is, in a way, a skeleton of an idea. I’ve got a frame, but the picture isn’t finished yet. And this does not address groups that are not only willing to use violence against the innocent to achieve their goals, but are willing to ask their own people to die to achieve it. That requires a different response.

Pieces of this puzzle have been kicking around the old brain box for a several years. I just haven’t been able to string the words together in a way that makes sense. Lisa’s post last week started them tumbling again. We watched Cry Freedom and Cry the Beloved Country again this weekend and things started tumbling faster.

Some puzzle pieces start looking for homes every time a group such as the American Nazi party or the Ku Klux Klan wants to hold a march. Usually in a very carefully chosen venue where they can be guaranteed the maximum amount of exposure for the minimum investment of party funds. Skokie Illinois in the late seventies is a great example  

An offshoot of the American version of the Nazi Party wanted to hold a rally/parade in Chicago in the late seventies. The city priced the liability insurance so high the nice people with the pretty banners (so not) were forced to look elsewhere and settled on the suburb of Skokie. The decision may have been influenced by an unusual demographic; a large number of Holocaust survivors had made their new homes in Skokie. A publicists’ dream come true.

The request for a permit to gather ignited a firestorm of protest. The ACLU ended up defending the National Socialists right to parade in court. And under our beloved, but largely unread, constitution groups like this do have a right to gather in public. Even if the rest of us are grinding our molars down to powder when they do it. The story spawned a fairly good TV movie, Skokie. The party finally got their gathering. In Chicago. In 1981. And Skokie? Their sister city is Porbandar, the birthplace one Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. AKA the Mahatma.

News of a controversial gathering usually sets a familar pattern in motion. Crowds gather to hold counter demonstrations at the office that issues the permits, at the courthouse, or at the parade. Usually there are more counter demonstrators than there are party members or Klansmen. And they are just as loud, if not louder and just as angry.

Other puzzle pieces look for mates when I consider the level of violence we’re surrounded with in this country. Sometimes I feel like the frog that was put in a pot of cool water over a low flame. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up cooked.

 I’ll be the first to admit that trying to preach non violence to the tiger isn’t going help when his teeth are already in your throat. You can no longer speak and the tiger is past listening. Choosing a non violent response doesn’t mean there won’t be confrontations or that you won’t find the tiger at the door. It does mean that you try to choose your confrontations. When you open the door to the tiger it’s as much on your terms as his.

Whether it’s Anne Coulter, Alexander Cockburn or the Klan, their goal is to provoke a reaction. Granted, the Coulters, Krauthamer’s, and Klansmen seem to be better at it. They poke, those who don’t agree react. They poke harder, we yell louder. They haul out the heavy artillery, we jump over the moon and the whole show is played over and over on every news channel in the country. It’s a strange and twisted dance we have going on here in this battered world.

But, what would happen if we didn’t react to the provocation. If we didn’t act the way we were expected to. A different, disciplined confrontation. What happens when the Nazis hold a parade and nobody comes? How do you provoke a crowd that isn’t there? What good are parade banners and white hoods when no one is looking at them? These actions don’t ignore what these groups stand for. It’s a confrontation of what they believe and why you oppose it. It may involvesmall groups gathering away from the route or demonstration with information and the strong suggestion that even watching these people act like the fools they are plays into their hands. Gives them a power they don’t deserve

What if? What if the National Socialists had been allowed to march in Skokie? March down streets or gather at a park lined with people holding placards with the names of the lost and camps where they died? Or even better, placards proclaiming “I survived.” Just picture it. A silent parade route or park lined with nothing but black bordered placards. It is a picture, isn’t it?

Being absent, turning your back, or refusing to speak unless you choose to do so on your terms does not imply consent. Far from it. It puts any violence or provocation squarely on the shoulders of the person or persons who set out to use the situation for free publicity or to serve an agenda. They poke, we don’t react. We say no to their power play. They have no power over us if we don’t concede it to them.

It doesn’t matter which band of the political rainbow you live in. Our reactions grant the professional provocateurs power over us. Power that they have no right to hold and, I coming to believe, we have no right to concede.

Cross posted in Women On.

 

Sunday, June 1, 2008

SUNDAY SHOTS

Unusual, for us, lavender iris showing the "beard." We had just enough misty rain this morning to put rain drops on everything.

Another beautiful color combination, also showing the beard. I am going to have to make note to much the living daylights out of that side of the bed. I don't want to lose any of these bulbs this winter.

And how do bean vines know where to go? Yesterday those runners were waving around pointing every which way. Today they're zeroed in like a pointer on a pheasant. But, how do they know where to go. I mean it's like Audrey looking for lunch.

Note the cobbled together trellis arrangement. What works for the rectangular trellis on the other side of the bed doesn't exactly work here. At least not without a little help. LOL

Cross posted in Women On.

SWEEPINGS FROM THE NEWS

Some sweepings from the recent news.

 

Had one of those B@#$##%T moments this weekend. The regional cable news channel ran a story last night about the sales jump for hybrid cars out here. I was only paying half attention to the story until they focused on a young family that had just bought one of two hybrids just delivered to a local dealership, I think it was a Honda; like I said I was about half there until the guy mentioned that he’d been discouraged from taking a test drive because and I quote “by the time you get back we’ll have sold it to someone else.”

 

And it was like what the F&*^! You’re going to sell the car that someone is test driving out from under them? And you’re buying a car you haven’t at least driven around the block? Granted, the father of the family didn’t strike me as the brightest bulb on the tree, but really. At least make sure the wife, the kids and the car seats all fit.  My own reaction would probably be something like this. Well, good for you; I don’t sign on for a twenty to thirty thousand dollar purchase without knowing what I’m getting, have a really nice day.

 

Scott McClellan’s new book. I haven’t read the book and I have no intention of reading the book. But, I have gotten a kick out the news stories and the foaming at the mouth columns in the paper. I do have memories of seeing Mr. McCellan on the news when he was press secretary.. He was really good at the no answer answers that this administration is famous for.

 

There’s two kinds of people who don’t know what’s going on. Those who tried to get the truth and couldn’t get any answers in spite of repeated attempts to find them. And there are those who don’t know what’s going on because they’re following the good old sit in the corner, close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and hum real loud. Really, really loud. Think Ronald Reagan and Iran/Contra. There isn’t a damn thing I’ve heard discussed from that book that hasn’t been in the news over and over since 2003 except his claim that he didn’t realize what was going on. Yeah, and I have a slightly used bridge I’d like to sell you.

 

 Spent about an hour picking spent blossoms off some rhodies yesterday morning. And found myself thinking about a couple of conservative pundits who don’t mind showing off their ample curves. Namely Coulter and Malkin. Coulter in her slinky little black dress and Malkin in a bikini, more than once. The shots are on the web.

 

On the surface they are beautiful women. And they know it. But, like those short lived rhododendron blossoms the showy beauty fades. Once the flowers are gone you’re left with the shrub; and sometimes you find that the showy blossoms were disguising a pretty homely shrub. So be careful ladies. One of these days what’s on the inside will start showing on the outside and I don’t think botox or plastic surgery will do you any good.

 

I could be wrong though. Karl Rove is a certified, vindictive, manipulative, asshole and he still looks as smooth, sleek and smug as ever. Maybe he has a Dorian Gray style painting stashed in an attic or cellar somewhere.  

 

Cross posted in Women On.