Saturday, June 30, 2007

You've GOT to be kidding!

A local developer is in court to fight Montgomery County's decision not to allow him to remove 55 trees on property he just purchased on a bluff above the historic Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal in Maryland. He argues that, because his children are allergic to walnuts and hickory nuts, the Americans With Disabilities Act applies in this case. To protect his handicapped children the trees must be removed. He admitted in court that he had not seen the property before purchasing it. This case reminds me of what Mr. T. (he-of-big-gold-chain-necklaces-fame) did in my home town, Lake Forest, Illinois. He bought a mansion on a beautifully wooded lot near the lake and cut down every tree because of his allergies. Ha! He'd have to live inside a dome to avoid pollen in a town called Lake FOREST!!! If people don't want to live with nature, there are other options -- cities!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Blot 44

Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm. -- Woody Allen

There are not many things that Woody and I would agree upon, but I do agree with his willingness to give something new a good try. I've learned so much (good and bad) by taking a leap of faith and jumping in with both feet. (Pun intended --LOL!)

How's that again?!

In an effort to to excuse their failure to follow federal rules regarding classified documents, Vice President Cheney's office claimed that, since Cheney is not strictly part of the executive branch because he presides over the Senate, he was in the legislative branch, which has different rules. Huh? In light of such convoluted thinking [or playing along with it], Democratic Caucus Chairman, Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) argued that if Cheney wasn't part of the executive branch then he wasn't entitled to the $4 million annually budgeted for the vice presidential residence and its upkeep, entertainment and transportation. In a speech on the House floor, Mr. Emanuel added: "There have been 46 vice presidents in U.S. history and not one of them knew this or ever claimed this position. Perhaps the vice president thought he occupied an undisclosed branch of government." That sounds about right to me, considering how Mr. Cheney does business. He has a truly remarkable mind when it comes to evasion and illusion. Too bad he doesn't put that brain power to good purpose. He hasn't won any friends or allies skulking around as he does -- but maybe he doesn't care. . .

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Christmas in June

How ironic! My niece posted in her blog a picture she titled Christmas in June and this is about a performance in the same vein at Ford's Theater this week! Leave it to Hollywood to turn things upside down and inside out --LOL!! ABC, in all it's wisdom decided to give the annual gala performance a Christmas theme because they figured their ratings would be better in December. Well, guess what. . . . . everyone came in their finest Christmas attire and the theater was decked in evergreens and holly. Our temps have been in the 90s, but Bush and other muckety-mucks all celebrated in the Christmas spirit! Talk about delusional!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

That's terrifically awesome!

When did the word "awesome" come to mean marvelous or wonderful or great? According to my Webster's, it's root, awe means mixed feelings of reverence, fear and wonder; therefore, awesome would describe something that inspires those feelings. I've heard everything from shoes to pudding described as "awesome." To me the only truly awesome things are nature, God, mother's instinct and a very few other extraordinary things. Terrific is another misappropriated word. The word is based on terror, for Pete's sake! What's wrong with cool, keen, neat, or rad? Seems like this generation likes to use more syllables than mine did. Is this a good thing? ; >}

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sometimes I think my Dad designed his and my Mom's house with little kids and dogs in mind. One side was nearly all glass to make the most of their high spot overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The other side resembled a Maryland tobacco barn with narrow, tall windows. Alex, then about age 4, often perched in a lower window to watch for his Dad.


The King of Arrogance

Marion Barry retains this title, though Dick Cheney is getting closer to taking it away from him. Once again our erstwhile former mayor has avoided jail time for failing -- six times -- to file local and federal taxes. Did he express gratitude for the judge's leniency or express any remorse? Of course not! With a smug, spit-in-their-faces attitude, he casually left the court house and smirked triumphantly for the photographers. It's bad enough that he ignores his tax obligations that actually contribute to his salary as a member of the D.C. Council. Then he works the system to get more of the tax dollars paid by hard-working, honest D.C. residents allocated for his ward. Heaven knows Ward 8 needs all the help it can get after years of neglect, but this man talks out of both sides of his face! He has no right to demand anything from law-abiding, tax-paying residents. Sadly and unbelievably, his constituents admire him and support him regardless of his sins. He is symbolic of so many who have succumbed to alcohol, drugs and the delirium of power. This makes him an abject lesson in how NOT to live one's life, not a figure of admiration.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Happiness is. . .

. . . finding the perfect gift for someone . . . getting a baby to smile . . . introducing a child to the wonders of a butterfly . . . warm feet on a cold night . . . being able to really help a friend . . . discovering one more Twinkie in the freezer . . . being able to play Chopin well on the piano . . . spotting a friend in a crowd . . . a child volunteering a hug . . . figuring out how to fix something on the first try . . . watching Leonard Berstein conduct an orchestra . . . getting dirty and sweaty planting a garden . . . a cool shower to wash off the dirt and sweat . . . listening to Chuck Barry play guitar . . . listening to Eric Clapton play guitar . . . finding a long lost friend . . . a ballpoint pen that works . . . losing weight without trying.

Oh, come on now. . .

. . . . what's with the new study that claims firstborn children have higher IQs than their younger siblings? Looking at my four sibs, I'd call the results malarkey.

I doubt any of us would qualify for genius status, but we all have strengths and talents that make each of us special and unique. And, we are all smart enough to know the value of family and how to keep the peace amongst ourselves.

As in any other family, when we were kids, we had a "pecking order" for teasing and sometimes bullying each other, but we outgrew that long ago. Now, we're more like the five musketeers being supportive when it's needed and goofy the rest of the time. Humor, admiration and respect for each one comes naturally and easily so I'm thinking we're all pretty smart!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ah, Nature

I didn't do anything to these pics but crop them. The colors are real. Not too bad for a 3.2 mp camera. . .

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It could be worse. . .

We've been broiling during a nasty heat spell. A friend just emailed about a record snow storm where I grew up in Northern Illinois. It reminded me of a big storm here, in February 1978. EVERYTHING shut down. The only way to get around was on skis or feet.
Mid morning, when the sun broke through at the edge of the line of storm clouds, many of us set out to see what was what. I walked about two miles to buy a newspaper from a downtown hotel. Even though it was colder than a well-digger's foot, the city was gorgeous. Following are a few pictures I took on my walk.
Walking down the middle of Constitution Avenue, White House to my right.
Park benches along Constitution where on July 4th, people will be fanning themselves watching the annual Independence Day parade.
Main business drag -- K Street at 17th.
Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street.

Funny - my hands and feet are a little cold. Better get outside to warm up a bit. LOL!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The good ole days. . .

In 1958, Mom talked me into having a dress-up birthday party. I was painfully shy in those days, but we all had fun pretending we were grown-up ladies. Mom prepared tea sandwiches and served fruit juice in tea cups. She even brought out her finest, linen luncheon napkins.

Life was far less complicated and angst-ridden. We stayed children until about the 5th grade. No rush to grow up and we made our own entertainment.

In the summer, my brother and I built "forts" out of boxes, lumber scraps and anything else we could scrounge. In winter we created igloos out of piled up snow. One particularly snowy winter, we dug a long tunnel through the snow we shoveled from the driveway leading into a huge mound of snow near the back door. Inside we made seats from packed snow and sculpted a "refrigerator" where we kept candy bars.

Our family had one car and Dad drove it to work in the city every day. Our own two feet or a bike, took us where we wanted to go.

Television was reserved mostly for Sunday evening when the whole family gathered in front of the one TV in the house to eat pizza or sandwiches, Jell-o and cake while Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen hosted their wholesome, variety shows. We kids sat on spread out newspapers and Mom and Dad ate off tray tables.

These little traditions were things we looked forward to almost as much as those surrounding holidays. It was a comfort knowing we'd be together every Sunday.

I enjoy surprises, but miss the comfort in the predictability of some little things in life. We over-schedule ourselves and feel guilty if we're not filling every moment of every day with something important. Our lives are too complicated and centered around possessions and busy-ness.

Leisure has become inconvenient or frowned upon. We Americans are particularly bad about allowing time to relax and recharge. We can't go back in time, but we can do a better job of caring for our bodies and souls. Soul food for me is sometimes chocolate and sometimes stopping to admire a spider's web or the patterns made by scraggly branches of a tree. When my soul is healthy, my body notices.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

I'm proud to say this gentleman is my Dad. He was somewhat younger when this was taken, but he's still a handsome man and has his wits about him. He's known for his spontaneous puns and dry sense of humor. He's also been happily married to my Mom for 62 years as of June 2nd.

He taught five kids how to fend for ourselves, but still worries about us. I can always count on him for good advice. He's also a talented artist and wood-worker. His water colors are praised by everyone who sees them and lusted after by his children! One of my most cherished possessions is a piano bench Dad built for me using oak and walnut from trees my brother-in-law, Bill was contracted to remove from George Washington's estate, Mount Vernon.

You've always put your heart and soul into your family and I love you.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Our bodies were forged in the furnace of the stars. We are star dust. --Cosmologist, Brian Swimme

Friday, June 15, 2007

Don't Worry; Be Happy!

This is spouse enjoying a swingset a few years ago. Just love the wide open smile! Hope y'all have a great weekend!

A True Story

I have an older friend, Thelma, who was born in Oklahoma in 1910. Life was very different then. A cousin wrote the following poem about Thelma's father. She remembers the day it happened and how it affected her father for the rest of his long life. "Osage Plight" by Floerine Clemons 'Twas hard to get him started; The stories gave him stress. But, hearing them, we held in awe Our Uncle Roy Jenness. A U.S. Marshal he had been; The job back then was tough. When Osage Indians drank too much They got a little rough. When Uncle Roy would visit us We begged to stay up late To listen to the tales he told Of raids and guns and fate. And once he brought his marshal's gun. (We shuddered at the thought) A notch cut on the handle showed That one man he had shot. "Tell us how the notch got there," We begged him to relate. "It's not a pretty story, kids, But Osage Indian fate. "Saloons were gone, but stills were thick Those prohibition days, And bootleg whiskey was the curse That changed the Osage ways. "You see, the white man took their land By treaty and by force, And put them on some bare red hills To farm with plow and horse. "Then oil boom days soon made them rich; (It served the white men right). As oil wells gushed, the Indians bought 'Most anything in sight. Each Osage Indian now could own A white man's limousine And build a mansion on his land; His squaw lived like a queen. Instead of teepee with dirt floor The house was made of wood, With polished floors and painted walls Where once the teepee stood. "Big John was one who drew a check From black gold every week. He'd cash it at the local bank, Then bootleg whiskey seek. "It wasn't hard to find the stuff, And from the law to flee. He bought himself a gallon jug And promptly drank it down. "And by the time Big John got home He was drunk and wild and loud. He cursed the kids, and beat his wife. He'd kill them all, he vowed. "And one of them got loose from him And made an urgent call, 'Please send someone to Big John's place Before he kills us all.' 'I'll go,' I said, 'the rest stay here To take on any more.' I grabbed my belt and vest and gun And headed for the door. "And when I got to Big John's place The kids were with their ma; Old John had shot her in the arm And broken one kid's jaw. "He ran upstairs and slammed the door And held it with his boot. I climbed the stairs and held my gun, 'Come out, John, or I'll shoot.' "No white man gonna take Big John; I shoot you first, by heck." And then he shot right through the door; The bullet grazed my neck. "I had no choice but to go in; I lunged against the door, Then fired before he shot again And John fell to the floor. "I'm not proud of that notch, you know, 'Though duty must be met; But knowing that I killed a man I never can forget." Then Uncle Roy looked down and said, "I hope the Lord forgives, For only He can understand Why one dies, and one lives. "Don't ever touch that liquor, kids, Not even just in fun. 'Twas bootleg whiskey killed Big John; I only fired the gun."

Thursday, June 14, 2007


About the same time I brought home a new package of markers, a great friend phoned and we chatted for a looooong time. One thing led to another et voila!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another Creative Outlet

My Mom and sisters have been bugging me to post pictures of some of the jewelry I make, so here ya go. . . .

Mr. Wizard is Gone

For those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, television was an extraordinary new thing and a total mystery. Howdie Doody, the Mickey Mouse Club, Captain Kangaroo, and Romper Room were totally enthralling to our impressionable, young minds. Mr. Wizard, however, was way cooler. He actually explained things like why grass is green, how sodas get their fizz, and why humans can't fly. He showed us how to run our own experiments at home without endangering life or limb. Even if an experiment failed during the live broadcasts, his enthusiasm and gentle manner were such that kids actually learned! Mr. Wizard, a.k.a. Don Herbert died at home on June 11th at the age of 89. Not only was he a war hero, having earned the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II, but he was a hero and inspiration to kids everywhere. Rest in peace, Mr. Wizard.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Time for a Reality Check

When will The Shrub realize that his loyalties are, at the very least, misguided. Has his pig-headed-ness totally blinded him to reality or is he really that stupid when it comes to the U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales?? The prez and his vice prez let Scooter Libby be hung out to dry, so I'm thinking loyalty to Gonzales the man isn't part of this scenario. Political expediency is the game they're playing and it may well backfire on the very party they're trying to promote. Blindly and blithely following one failed policy after another diminishes their credibility around the world and reflects badly on the American People. Owning up to one's failures and attempting to correct them are signs of maturity and intelligence. I'm afraid those qualities are lacking at the White House. Members of Congress are as disillusioned as most of the general populace. They're torn between party loyalties and common sense. No one wins in this stalemate. The ball is in the president's court and he won't even come to the game.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Gratuitous Cuteness

Small World

In the grocery store today I was stopped by a young woman who said she knew me. I apologized because I didn't remember her. When she asked what kind of work I do, I mentioned my years working for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Her eyes brightened and she asked my name. Turns out she was one of the 100-150 high school students selected to attend annual Red Cross Youth Leadership Development Conferences (LDC) in the 1990s. We commiserated over one, particularly memorable conference at Hood College in Frederick, MD. The temperatures were over 100 for five days and dropped into the breezy 70s the day we left. Hood is a picturesque, historic college, therefore without air conditioning (back then) except in a newer classroom building. The opening session in the chapel nearly knocked us all out -- the windows didn't open. When it ended and we stepped outside, 104 actually felt cool!! As a workshop facilitator, I was expected to be fresh and energetic every day to keep the kids enthusiastically involved in learning about teamwork, values clarification, group dynamics and other skills useful to budding leaders. Every evening was spent chaperoning pool parties or movies -- THEN preparing for the next day's activities while keeping one eye peeled for dorm escapees. Sleep was impossible because the rubber covered dorm mattresses felt like they were on fire and big window fans were useless! Even though I started out a nervous wreck, every year when the last day came, everyone -- facilitators and kids alike -- hugged and cried because it was over. I couldn't have told you my middle name at that point, but at least, according to this young woman, LDC made a positive impact. What a joy to be validated after all these years!! Thank you, Denise -- you made my day!

Friday, June 8, 2007

House vs. Home

When these terms became interchangeable, I don't know, but it irritates me. A house is a structure in which a home may be established by the people who occupy it. Late in 1999, my husband and I purchased a condo in a ritzy building in an upscale neighborhood here in DC. It really wasn't our style, but the olympic-size pool and other amenities blinded me (but not my husband) to the stodgy, snooty people who lived there. The population was largely older, wealthy, white people. To give you an idea of what this meant, condo rules disallowed cooking odors escaping into the halls or through an open window. Befriending the doorman, I also learned that residents complained when, walking down a hall, they detected the sound of someones TV or music. If only I'd listened to the little voice in my head that kept shouting "don't do it, it isn't for you!" before and after we closed. Walking away from the lawyer's office, spouse was totally disheartened and angry that we went through with it. My churning gut made voicing hopefulness reeeeeeally hard. But my core optimist was determined to make it work. After all, buying a place was a good investment, right? We moved in two days after Christmas and moved out three days later. Thankfully the rent on our apartment was paid through the month, so we moved back into our home. Everyone we knew, including our realtors were shocked because the condo was bigger and so nice -- according to them. We were relieved to the point of tears to get back into the home we'd had for 9 years. Despite the exotic, unrecognizable cooking odors that occasionally seep into our apartment, the toddler down the hall who screams at all hours, college students giggling and yakking on their way back from classes and parties, we're home here. Residents actually talk with each other, sometimes with heavy accents because they work at World Bank or Pan American Health Organization, both in the neighborhood. The diversity of our neighbors is what keeps life interesting. That and we can watch the July 4th fireworks from our balcony! Ahh home sweet home. . . . .

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Now THIS is Worthy of True Panic

The definition of panic is when Saturday evening rolls around and you look at your 7-year-old son and realize that his left hearing aid (the one for his "good" ear) is no longer in his left ear, and you have no clue how or when it came out of that ear, and you know he has covered considerable territory during the day (picture one of the little maps drawn in Family Circus when one of the kids is to "go straight home"). All available flashlights are rounded up and used to comb the yard, the vehicles and the road ... to no avail. You skip church the next morning so you can spend the day taking said 7-year-old's bed apart as well as the rest of his room. Every toy box is emptied of its contents, the laundry gets fondled unmercifully, and you even look in the cat box. All shoes are shaken out and parts of the couch that have not seen day light in years are exposed. At one point you entertain the notion that the hearing aid may now be floating in your septic tank. THIS IS PANIC! In the mean time your overworked, much loved audiologist comes up with a loaner aid (Thank you, Jesus!!), which requires digging out every ear mold that has ever been made for your child in the past 6 years and finding one that will fit until said audiologist can make a new one. She discusses funding options for the purchase of a new $$$ aid with you and smiles sympathetically. Monday evening at around 8:15 you're in your ASL II class 1 1/2 hours from home with a deaf teacher who has just signed to the class, "No phone calls or talking until the break!!" Your phone vibrates in your purse pocket! You grimace. Then it proceeds to vibrate 10 more times in the span of about 10 minutes. You're freaking out and having visions of one of your children dismembered and bleeding. You finally work up the courage to sign to the teacher that your husband has called 10 times in the past 10 minutes and that you're really worried and need to go and find out what's wrong. There's a voice mail on your phone, and you listen while your 14-year-old says in a sing-songy voice, "I found the hearing aid, I found the hearing aid." Laugh or cry, which? You start shaking with relief, call home and discover that the hearing aid was found out by the new swing set hubby had just erected a few days ago. It rained all day Sunday ... hmmm. You call the sympathetic audiologist who whoops with joy with you and says, "Well, it may require a repair, but you will probably not need to replace the whole thing." Life is good.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Time for more blots . . . .

These are actually sections of blots. Can't quite figure out what I see in them but I like the odd shadowing my scanner makes.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Great Falls Park

On the Maryland side of Great Falls is a path that carries walkers north of the lock house/museum between the Potomac and the C&O Canal. Usually, people like to walk the bridges that take them out to the falls. There's lots to see in the other direction, too.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Only the beginning. . . ..

. . . .summer fruits are on their way. These apricots were so gorgeous I just had to share. We've waited a long time for fresh apricots, so these probably won't survive past today.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Didn't want to end the week on an unpleasant note, so here's one of my favorite shots of my nephew/godson Alex. His dad is a little shy about showing his face online, but I think you can see that he's a great guy and a loving dad.

Don't get me started!

A new neighbor in our rental apartment community left an anonymous message on my car in our parking garage. Seems he has trouble parking his oversized SUV and wants me to park my car somewhere else. Oh -- and to be sure I got the message, he printed it in extra large type and cc'd the parking management company. Here's my response: 1 June 2007 To the Anonymous Truck Owner: Kindly take responsibility for your choice to purchase and drive a truck. Your inability to park it is not my concern. As for how often I move my vehicle; that is not your concern. And, please, don't talk to me of courtesy. My Honda has been damaged numerous times by careless truck owners opening their doors and hitting mine. I suppose there are advantages to driving oversized trucks and SUVs, though, living in the city, I can't imagine any. For ethical reasons, I plan to stay with my aging, small, fuel efficient car and, inasmuch as the only designated parking spots are for the handicapped, residential parking is still first come, first served. cc: (our parking management company)