Friday, May 30, 2008


Just can't stop playing this evening. :-)


One of our new irises complete with sleepy bee. Took it last weekend.

Cross posted in Women On.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I was able to get around the yard today and so some shooting. No sun to speak of but no real rain either. The flowers in the middle are the landscape geraniums. Small, fragrant, perenial, and enthusiastic. They also drape over retaining walls very nicely. We have a very large patch in the front that goes nicely with the just blooming azaleas.

They're also known as cranesbill geraniums because the seed pods look like the bill of a crane.

Cross posted in Women On.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I find myself unusually thankful that I was born in this country, at this time. And not for the usual reasons you’d probably see in the news or in the ads.

Unlike many women and girls in the third world, I wasn’t put to hauling firewood or water as soon as I could walk. I’m not expected to carry a large pottery jar on my back to the nearest water source and haul the water back. Every day. I wasn’t last in line for meals behind my father and brothers. I wasn’t cheated out of my full growth by overwork and inadequate food. I wasn’t married before I even entered puberty or beaten for running away from an unwanted husband. I wasn’t kidnapped out of a market place and forcibly married.

The nearest local hospital is about a mile away, and, like so many other Americans, I have my own set of wheels. I don’t have to make a six hour hike and a multi hour bus ride over dirt roads to get to a hospital in the city. If I can even afford the bus fare.

I’m not faced with the possibility that every time I get pregnant I could end up so damaged that my husband deserts me and my own family suggests that I might be better off dead.

I don’t have children, but my sisters had access to decent nutrition, pre natal care, clean hospitals and they were fully grown when they had their children. There is almost no chance that any woman in the United States or Europe will be faced with problems of the Ethiopian women in a documentary I saw on Nova last week.  

The film is called A Walk to Beautiful. The spirit and courage of these women is not only inspiring but humbling. I was touched most by a tiny 17 year old named Wubete. And I do mean tiny. The Australian doctor who helped start the hospital with her husband stated that she was about 5’3”. The girl didn’t even come to her shoulder. Even with her shawl on her head.

Corrective surgery at a special hospital in Addis Ababa helped but didn’t correct all her problems. The injuries she suffered in a week long labor that left her with a still born child also injured her bladder; almost destroyed it, actually. The doctors were able to give her some control over her problem, but the kind of care she continues to need makes it difficult for her to return to her native village. And the lack of any support from friends or family left her extremely reluctant to return in any case.  As in “I don’t care if I have to beg in the streets, I’m not going back.” Providentially, she found a place at Grace Village run by the Oasis Foundation. Not as an orphan, but as a care giver. She has several small children in her care.

Like Wubete, a few of the patients cannot be treated surgically or the surgery doesn’t correct all their problems. There are ways to manage their cases, but the treatment options either aren’t feasible in isolated village situations or they have no support from family or friends. Many of these women work at the hospital as aids or in other support positions. The foundation supporting the hospitals has even started a village called Desta Mender where the women can live and support themselves. In a country where the illiteracy rate for women is over twenty percent, they have access to basic classes, raise food for themselves and the hospital, and create handicrafts to sell to support themselves.

We take so much for granted here. And I seldom hear the thankful “there but for the grace of God or fortune, go I” from many of us. Instead there is a sense of entitlement that would outstrip Louis XIV at his most ambitious. That, and a small minded pettiness (in my opinion) that only proves that too many of us have far too much time on our hands and an inability to walk in some one else’s moccasins.

Cross posted in Women On .

Friday, May 23, 2008


I took a vacation day today. Four day weekend hooray. Ambled around the ard in the rain and got some good shots. For sure I won't shrink or melt.

Looking south into the yard. Pink and purple azaleas just coming on. Winther heather that's finished blooming for the season. Blue oat grass and andromedas.

There's a skinny little rhodie on the side yard that pours everything into the blossoms. They are extravagent, aren't they?

Looking east through a wild azalea towards red and purples rhodies. The wild azalea came with the house. We've cut it back once. The colors were so bright today, in spite of the rain and clouds.

And the irises don't seem to mind the rain. It's been awhile since I hauled out Photoshop to dress my shots up a bit.


A coworker e mailed this to me a long while back. I stumbled over it looking for another file. I still laugh myself silly whenever I read it.



  • Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby.  Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth.  Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
  • Remove pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
  • Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.
  • Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand.  Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
  • Remove pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.
  • Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws.  Ignore low growls entitled by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.
  • Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap.  Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains.  Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
  • 8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.
  • Check label to make sure pill is not harmful to humans, drink 1 beer to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
  • Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.
  • Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot, drink.  Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for data of last tetanus jab.  Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw away T-shirt and fetch new one from bedroom.
  • Ring fire brigade to retrieve the friggin' cat from tree across the road. Apologize to the neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap. 
  • Tie the little bastard's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining room table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.
  • Consume remainder of Scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitchesfingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.
  • Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and ring local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.




  • Wrap it in bacon.



Monday, May 19, 2008


Three of our irises popped out since last night. I've never seen a light, almost ice blue iris. We've had the burgundy one for several years. It's the tallest of the three. Hopefully the others will catch up in height in a couple of years as they get better established. There was a yellow one that just didn't photograph well, and got fried this weekend anyway.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


And I do mean early. I hauled myself out of bed at six this morning. Good thing too, because by eight it was getting to warm to work in the sun, at least for this fifty something office worker.

So not in proportion. From bottom to the right, Strawberry growing in a landscape timer that's well on it's way to rotting out. First sunlight on the fern by the sidewalk. The irises have really started to bloom. This hot sun is so not good for them; and the blooms don't last very long anyway. The sun just hitting the seed heads of the blue oat grass. The red rhodie behind the arbor will probably be well and truly fried by the end of the weekend. They don't last very long, but we have others more shade that haven't even started to bloom yet.

Cross posted in Women On.

Monday, May 12, 2008


that leave you scratching your head.

A co-worker in the AP section told me about a batch of invoices that came in the mail this morning. All from the same vendor. All one page. All one invoice to an envelope. One page and evelope at a time; twenty three times. At forty one cents a pop, plus the cost of the envelope. That's $9.43 just for the postage.

I thought at first it might be an automated process, but automation should be able so sort the outgoing mail in a way that qualifies for reduced postage.

I have this image of a drone in a cubicle somewhere, stuffing away, not paying attention, or worse paid attention and tried to bring the situation to someone's notice only to be told "that's how we do things around here."

We're being "that's how we do things" to death.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


The first dogwood blossoms on our tree. Trees on Centennial that get sun all day are already in full bloom.

The brilliant purple azalea in the side yard. This one blooms and then gets its beautiful dark green leaves. There are so many shades of green right now. More greens than I have names for. And there is a row of ground cover strawberries in front with their brilliant red/ pink blooms. They do produce berries; of course they're about the size of the tip of my little finger.

A variety of flowers. The bloomed out red tulips are read to be trimmed and the huge yellow ones are just hitting their prime. The lavender is coming along nicely and the yellow and purple pansies are almost neon. The tiny yellow shrub in the corner is, strangely enough, the same flower as

this little yellow ground cover. The shot doesn't do it justice. I'll try to get some better shots next weekend. Before the expected hot weather totally fries them. Anyway, both plants are a type of potentilla. You can have a shrub, a ground cover, and a cutting type plant as well. The shrubs are great. The love the sun and don't need a lot of water. The little purple flowers are violas. Silly me, I used to think they were weeds. Turns out they're an herb.

More of the ground cover strawberries. Mom bought six plants several years ago and paid about three bucks apiece. Of course they had to charge that much, once you have them; you have them forever. They multiply just like any strawberry; they "run" all over the place.

At least I got in my four hours or so of yard work again this weekend. We did some good and there's so much more to do. Have a good week everybody.



My folks were married in ’45. They bought two things right away, a pressure cooker and a sewing machine; mom doesn’t remember which. We still have both of them. There may be a different machine in the cabinet, but we still have the cabinet. The pressure cooker gets trotted out ever canning season. When we got the new stove we made sure to get a heavy duty burner for canning. Their first “refrigerator” was an ice box, the milk man was still making deliveries, the washer had a wringer, the dryer was solar powered and there was a large garden in the back yard.


Mom was a logger’s wife. Which was, now that I think about it, is just about like being married to a farmer. So much of dad’s work depended on the weather. If it wasn’t too wet to work it was too dry. Too much mud or too much snow. Some times she’d have to hang his clothes and hose them down before she could wash them. Talk about double teaming. We didn’t get a drier until after sister number 2 was out of diapers. Now that I think about it, I suspect that we didn’t get an automatic washer until I was in high school.


She ran the house, saw to the garden, baked bread, canned everything that wasn’t nailed down, made sure dad had a good lunch to take to the woods, and hauled us down to the park in the summer afternoons so my hoot owling dad could get in a nap so he could get up at two am and go to work again. She put that sewing machine to good use, led a Girl Scout troop and I don’t remember when I learned to shell peas or snap beans. I suspect I was toddler curious while she was working with them and gave me some to do too.


There were good times and bad times. Hell, we never had more than two good years in a row. And I don’t think he went more than three or four years without some kind of injury. When dad was disabled she did a complete about face and went to work. She spent another twenty years or so cooking meals for other peoples’ kids in one of the dorms at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns ="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />University of Oregon.


<PCLASS=MSONORMAL style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">If she was ever afraid, we didn’t know it. If she ever cried it was behind closed doors. She’s always had a hug and a smile. The only regrets I ever hear are that the grand kids are further away than she’d like and that she can’t get things done as fast as she used to.


Happy Mother’s Day to someone who is not only my mother but my best friend. And I truly believe that no matter what happens, she will always be with me.



This is a shot off the Web of our newest visitors.

At first I thought the towhee was visiting the front this morning. But towhees usually travel in pairs and we had a flock at the feeders.

This is a shot through the front window. I tried getting closer, but I swear I must give of telepathic signals or something. Either that or they hear me moving around next to the window and get spooked. Don't even think about going outside at this point. If the hang around long enough they may get used to having people around; big maybe on that. And when a noisy pick up or SUV comes by, everybody heads for the hill or the taller trees.

I believe we're being visited by black headed grosbeaks. I think these are either females or young males that haven't grown into their full dramatic feathers.

So, I think this is number seventeen on the bird watchers list. The home made hanging feeders have made a real difference in the varieties we're had this year. The markings are similar to the spotted towhees but there's more red and the beaks are heavier.

They were in and out of the yard all day, but this was the best shot I could get.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Several months ago I was eagerly devouring Mary Renaults’ series of novels set in ancient Greece. I posted an entry about Greek cities and my opinion that our Greek and Roman ancestors would look at many of our so called cities, scratch their heads and go “?” followed by “I don’t know what this is but it’s not what I’d call a city.” Their cities were built around public market places where citizens could gather. There’s little left of the public market place left, it’s been strip malled to death. And the first time one of us agreed that we needed a permit to speak in what was left of public space; well that put the rest of the nails in the coffin

Which brings me to high fuel prices and more than fifty years of “do it your way.” It isn’t just a matter of big rigs with terrible mileage ratings. It’s decades of live here, work there, and shop in four other places. Decades of land use decisions that encouraged sprawl, starved mass transit, trucked in food from across the country and allowed our rail lines to decay.

 I haven’t done any research, but I suspect that many of the so called strip cities in the south west don’t have any kind of mass transit capability at all. Too few of us asked the right questions when decisions were made thirty years ago. Too few of us realized that the business and civic leaders praising a certain type of development may have had vested interests in their success.

Too many of us didn’t ask questions when we were told we could live anywhere we wanted to if we could afford it, we could have beautiful green lawns in the middle of a desert, we could have fresh oranges or grapes in December because it’s summer in Australia or Chili, a couple can have twelve or thirteen kids and few eybrows are raised; we could have anything wewanted and any attempt to question those wants was an infringement onour “personal liberties.” Too many of us didn’t seem to notice that the ones telling us about our trampled rights were the ones with their hands in our pockets and that the pea was never under the cup to start with.

There was an “oh shit” moment on The Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth a few weeks ago. Part of a segment focused on huge development being built in Arizona or New Mexico; more than five thousand homes. In an area that’s near desert to start with and has been in moderate to severe drought for nearly ten years. Trouble is, we don’t have records that go back all that far, and what we’re calling normal may have been unusually wet. What we’re seeing now may actually be normal.

Anyway, one of the prospective buyers, an older man, was asked if he was worried about water being available. His reply made me mad enough to spit. “There’s no water shortage as long as you can afford it.” His companion, presumably his wife, had the grace to look a little embarrassed but her comment was almost as bad. It was basically “well, they wouldn’t build it if everything wasn’t ok, would they?”

Honey, yes they would if they figured they could get away with it. The builder will have the money and be looking for more sheep to shear. As for you folks, you’ll be left holding the bag.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


The bed kicked me out before six thirty this morning. So I picked up a few quick shots before the day got started.

The rhodies are just starting to open. This one is actually just as pretty in bud as it is after it opens.

Blueberry bushes in front, red rhodie just opening, viewed through the arbor. The huckleberries are also in bloom. Huckleberries are little blue berries. They do NOT grow in clusters like blueberries. They grow along the branches. Just as good, but harder to pick.

White candytuft and blue lithadora in the back. The funny looking spikes are the big lilies that bloom around July. The day lilies should start budding before too long.

Ferns unfurling. Some folks call them fiddleheads. They remind me of party favors. Slow motion party favors. The brown and green are really pretty together.

The red tulips are all gone and the yellow one are just coming on. Yellow tulips and yellow pansies. Those yellow pansies were a bit of color all winter; and they're still going strong.

I put in about two hours this morning getting a few more herbs in and getting mom's Mother's Day present planted. She picked out a nice looking white lilac when we were shopping yesterday. It probably won't bloom this year, but the shrub should be a good accent for the pink rose and other plants on the side.

And I think I heard the flower fairies singing just before I came inside.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


I don’t know what the Latin is for the last part of “I came, I saw, I said the hell with it.” Of course there’s always “hasta la vista, muchachos.” We went out to the local, shall be nameless garden center in Springfield, spent a few minutes looking around, tried to ignore the rock music they’ve added this year, and realized that their vegetable and herb section looked pretty darn pathetic.


Exit garden center and quick trip to Johnson Brothers just north of Coburg. Came home with tomatoes, peppers, onion sets, and some new strawberry plants; for berries not landscapes. We also picked up a couple kinds of basil, regular thyme and lemon thyme (lemon thyme really does smell like lemons) and some parsley. Oh, and a white lilac for the side yard as an early mother’s day present. We also picked up some good advice on how the keep the shrub from getting eight feet tall.


And it was busy out there. They had six checkers going full tilt and the line started way outside the sales building. We didn’t even visit any of the green houses; we’ll go back and go through the perennials building in a couple of weeks. And we’re talking herkin’ big green houses here.


So we can make some more progress on the back and get the first stages of the garden in. Actually the yard looks pretty good for the third of May.


Nuts, I have to call them tomorrow and see if they have any calendula. Darn, we should have at least checked the perennials building. Not that there was any room on the cart for anything else by the time we got done.


Johnson’s really does a good job with their display plantings. Big planters, little planters, all full of good suggestions for combining different plants.  Add in cheerful people who know their plants and the trip is always worthwhile.


(Huge yawn) My early morning weeding session is catching up with me. Hard to believe it took two hours to clean up a strip about fifteen feet long by about a foot wide so it will be ready for bean seeds. Not hard, just a little tedious, but good for the waistline.


One thing about weekend yard work; staying up past midnight on Friday and Saturday nights has gone bye bye. On the other hand I think I’ve dropped about five pounds in the last six weeks. Yippee skippee; there’s only sixteen or so to get back where I was BEFORE the holidays.