Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What is it with. . . [Rated PG]

. . . advertisements offering to fix erectile dysfunction? They're directed to men, right? So why do they picture a seductive, buxom woman draped in a sheet, arranged just-so to titillate? Last I checked, men are sentient beings, capable of feeling and thought. As a matter of fact, I have yet to meet a man who isn't proud when he gets a hard-on -- anywhere. Why not show bulging pants or a Speedo (hmm) in these ads? That would be more germane to what's being sold, right? When will men stop being so coy? One seldom sees a man's "equipment" much less his unclothed buttocks in anything but an X-rated movie, but we always see what a woman's got. Truth in advertizing -- that's what I'm looking for!! ;-}

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A One-Wall-Home

Last night, following the first flicker of lightning I headed out to the balcony. I love thunder storms and the fragrant, cooling rains they bring. I like the thunder, too because it reminds me of fireworks which I adore. Enjoying the view, I noticed a fire by a ramp retaining wall in front of the Kennedy Center. I watched just in case it started to spread. Then I realized who had lit it and relaxed. A long line of tourists on the KenCen terrace took flash pictures of each other and the great views then scrambled indoors when the rain started. The campfire weathered the first shower pretty well, dying down only slightly. When the winds and brief downpour finally arrived, the flames wavered and died. I've seen the OWH fellow often inasmuch as we're neighbors. His home, however has only one wall, no bathroom or kitchen or any other basic necessities of life, like a roof. He leaves his home every day for parts unknown to me. He dresses like a student and in no way looks like he has no home. He walks at a slow, deliberate pace and minds his own business. I have no clue how old he is, but we've lived here nearly 20 years, so he may be close to 40 if not older. There are plenty of people from my generation who fought in Viet Nam and now live on D.C. streets, perhaps hoping to be noticed and cared for by the military/medical establishment that abandoned them so long ago. Now that the military is acknowledging the realities of post traumatic stress syndrome, it may be too late for lots of these guys. Their minds and bodies may never recover from the trauma of Viet Nam. But I digress. I hope the OWH fellow isn't a vet suffering as a result of military service. I'm sure I'm not the only person who notices him and wonders how to help. Shelters clearly are not the choice for many homeless persons. Nevertheless, humanity dictates that the rest of us care for the least of us. How that is done without further traumatizing, I'm not sure. A small trailer park was set up some years back to house some folks who were living on the edge of the Whitehurst Freeway, across from the Watergate. On the surface, it sounded like a good idea. Forced into close quarters, however, wasn't good for these people, even if being there protected them from rain, snow and extreme heat. When I worked for a charitable design foundation, one of our clients was an organization called Housing Opportunities for Women. HOW owned several houses, in the District. Homeless women were given their own bedrooms and shared cooking and cleaning duties. A professional "house mother" checked in with them and took care of house business. One morning, I sat down for a chat with several of the residents and discovered a variety of reasons they were living there. Some were better at socializing, while others preferred to remain alone and detached. My mind swirled with visions of abuse, neglect and desperation. [There but for the grace of God. . . .] Still, these women took pride in their personal spaces and possessions. I theorize that women, because of our nurturing and peace-making traits may be better able to get along with each other. Men, on the other hand, are the hunters, guardians and providers. When their role is taken away due either to their own mistakes or circumstances they feel they cannot control, they tend to turn inward and away from others. Admittedly, this is speculation. I have no degrees in psychology or sociology. My theories are based on observation. So. . . . . Perhaps my OWH guy is content with his situation and enjoys the changing seasons as much as I do. I doubt that anyone bothers him because his homestead is difficult to reach. Somehow, he is able to feed himself and keep relatively clean. When Spring brings leaves to the trees and shrubs around him, he becomes nearly invisible. I think that's what he wants. What do you think?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Could Have Been a Belly Dancer

The brown-eyed blonde, looking disarmingly seductive for a 5 year old, is my niece and goddaughter. For Halloween that year she wanted to be a belly dancer. Thinking that might scandalize her Mom, she told her she wanted to be a desert person. [Didn't fool Mom for a minute.] Her 7 year old sister, the rock star, is now a popular 4th grade teacher and her big brother, the 9 year old skeleton is a financial wiz.
The belly dancing career never panned out. Instead she will be graduated from The College of William and Mary in mid-May having partaken of every imaginable sport and completing double majors in art history and biology. She is a fascinating young woman and I eagerly await seeing what career path she will choose.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

We humans don't own Planet Earth. Good stewardship is our best hope for Her future.
Even we apartment dwellers have ways to help save the planet. That is IF we are willing to adopt them. When one lives in a "utilities-included" rental situation, it might be easy to forget about the costs of electricity and gas. Aside from environmental costs, the $$$ for these energy sources do rise and, without a little conservation, rents must rise, too. Since I live in D.C., that is my frame of reference. We live in an older building with single pane glass and not the best insulation. Still there are ways we've found to decrease our carbon footprint. Recycling is the law in the District. It does apply to rental tenants, too. Our complex was built in the late 60s, so little if any thought was given to accommodating recycleables in trash rooms. We carry them to receptacles on the loading dock. No big deal. We found thermal curtains to replace the flimsy ones that came with the apartment. They do a good job of cutting out the cold in winter and heat in summer. During the evening we have two lights on in the whole apartment, not including the night light in the kitchen. I prefer incandescent light over colder-looking CFC light. Fortunately, Spouse found "warm light" CFC bulbs for my reading light and desk lamp. Our complex management came through a few years ago replacing all the overhead lights with compact fluorescent tubes. I detest overhead lighting, so we seldom use them. Still, it was a good thing to do. Now if we could just convince some of our neighbors not to trash their recycleables . . . Every Friday and Saturday night, I hear dozens of bottles clanking down the trash chute. It bothers me because glass and aluminum are easily recycled. I know D.C. water isn't always tasty, but a filtering pitcher takes care of that and prevents thousands of plastic bottles spoiling river and lake shores and roadsides. If all that doesn't convince you to reconsider how you handle your disposables, perhaps this will.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Calling Fellow D.C. Bloggers . . .

. . . I could really use some advice! My former college roommate and friend, Mary, is bringing two special guests to Washington on May 10th for a one night, one day visit. They are the daughter and her husband from a French farm family that rescued and hid Mary's aviator father during WWII. Ever since her dad returned home alive after the war, her family has tried to repay the debt owed to this French family. Mary lives in Michigan and will be driving them to New Orleans and back north to D.C. and Niagara Falls, with numerous stops in between. Personally, I can't imagine doing all that driving in two weeks, but she's set on it. I look forward to hosting them, but wonder what will be the best use of their short time here. I'm famous for my nighttime tour of the city, but wonder where to take them to eat and what to do during their one day here. The dinner boats will be booked up with Mothers' Day events. There is so much to see in D.C., but with such limited time I want them to see as much as possible on their first trip here. We'll "do" the usual memorials at night, but I'd welcome suggestions for cool stuff to do during the day. I've thought about just driving them through the various D.C. neighborhoods that most tourists miss, but then I thought the American History Museum might give them a better idea of American history and life. Any suggestions are most welcome! Thanks!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another way of looking at it. . .

Some of my friends are getting tired of all my kvetching about age. They've sent some uplifting emails, but the following made me chuckle out loud. Hope you get a kick or two out of it, too. Perks of reaching 50 or being over 60 Kidnappers are not very interested in you. In a hostage situation, you are likely to be released first. No one expects you to run -- anywhere. People call at 9 p.m. and ask, did I wake you? People no longer view you as a hypochondriac. There is nothing left to learn the hard way. Things you buy now won't wear out. You can eat supper at 4 p.m. You can live without sex, but not your glasses. You get into heated arguments about pension plans. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge. You quit trying to hold in your stomach no matter who walks into the room. You sing along with elevator music. Your eyes won't get much worse. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Guaranteed Inspiration!

I really can't add anymore to this post except to say you MUST click on this link! I still have goose flesh from watching/listening to it! http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2539741

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On The Soap Box Again

A small AP report in today's Washington Post told of a 19 year old woman and her 21 year old fiance trying to elope in Afghanistan. Because of their seemingly innocuous plan, they were shot dead. Now I ask you: how could this young couple's plan abrogate or even weaken Taliban law? How could it possibly command a death sentence carried out -- in public -- by an AK-47 wielding Taliban firing squad? It's not as if these two young people were the new Bonnie and Clyde. They just wanted to marry each other. Arranged marriages are traditional and, for some, the law in parts of the Middle East. Nevertheless, I cannot understand why forsaking that earns a death sentence. During the painfully prolonged siege of Sarajevo during the 90s, another pair of young lovers was gunned down by snipers. They had planned to meet on one of that city's beautiful, historic bridges. One was Muslim, the other Christian. That difference didn't matter to them because they were in love. I wonder if those who pulled the triggers on all of these innocent young people gave any serious thought to what they were doing. Does guilt haunt them? Surely they know that love is common to all mankind. Religious, political and geographic differences hardly matter. Democracy is a demanding form of government because no one entity is allowed unmonitored authority. It is, however, the most humane. Blind loyalty and unquestioning faith in leadership is dangerous and harmful. With education narrowed by antiquated and politically motived ideals, societies fail at the most basic level and people suffer.
When barbarity overides compassion,
Allah-Yahweh-God must shudder.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stumbling Into a New Decade

Not sure why this one bugs me so much. The others didn't; even when I turned 30. At 40 I finally felt like an adult and my 50s were just a continuation of my 40s. The BIG 6-O is way different. How did this happen?! OK, so my body sometimes feels like it's been workin' for 60 years, but my mind is still trying to catch-up with my body. How can I reconcile these? Experience has given me somewhat more wisdom, but I still feel like I'm 35. I just can't be sixty! Sixty-year-olds are so, well. . ..OLD!! Being an optimist at heart, I had to somehow put a positive spin on this event, so . . . It is now too late to benefit from avoiding the sun. I already have brown spots on my face and arms. Some years ago I decided to avoid exposure when, following another delightful Caribbean vacation, I noticed my cleavage was nicely tanned and wrinkled! Of all things!! At least that went away. The brown spots -- no such luck. Maybe with more exposure, all the brown spots will join together for a perfect, permanent tan! \Oh, you optimist, you!\ It is now too late to grow my hair long again. Old women with hair longer than shoulder length look goofy! As a girl and young woman I had rather nice, straight, long, blonde hair when that's what every girl wanted her hair to be. Having said that, when long, luscious curls came into style, I could never achieve them for more than a few minutes after suffering hot rollers. I shudder remembering that from middle school through college I slept in brush rollers!! Some deviant devised those things -- very painful. My short hair doesn't blow in my eyes and mouth when I'm driving with the sun roof and windows open. It is now too late to take up snow boarding, high jumping, or gymnastics. [Thank God!] In my seniority, I've discovered the joy of no longer caring what other people think about me or how I look. In a bathing suit, I may look like a beached Beluga whale -- so what!! I'm still breathing, walking, talking -- reasonably intelligently -- and I can see -- at a distance. All in all, I guess I shouldn't complain. The alternative ain't pretty! Besides, I've got a guy who still adores me!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter at Mom's

Spouse and I drove down to Solomons for Easter dinner with Mom, Janet, Bill, Alex and Zach. We thoroughly enjoyed baked a ham, candied yams, green beans almondine and raisin sauce.
While we waited for food to reach appropriate doneness, I took the boys down to the river to fly my kite. Alex was whirled with excitement while Zach flew the red bird high and far -- until an errant gust sent it careening into a kite-eating tree. Between Zach and me, we got it out without harming the kite or tree. We also watched ospreys fishing and carrying nesting materials to a channel marker in the Patuxent.
On the walk back to Mom's I snapped a few shots of Spring flowers. Hope you enjoy seeing a few more. Also hope you had a Happy Easter!
This is Mom's Redbud tree in her back yard.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring

Flowering trees foretell the arrival of Spring with their delicate pink and white crowns. Forsythia fronds wave in the breeze as if saying "hello -- we're back." Hardy pansies, having weathered Winter, revel in the warming trend. A whisper of a breeze cradles petals falling like pastel snow upon the newly verdant ground. Pale leaf buds on trees expand with every rain shower. The scent of Spring reveals fragrant soil warming and dormant growth coming back to life. The sun takes a new position and shimmer as it starts revving up for Summer. Won't be long before flowers attract bees and human noses. The promise of summer bounty and warmth thaws our chilled souls and entices us outdoors.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Giddy Clouds

Last evening, it was almost as if the clouds knew that a gorgeous weekend was on its way. The wind whipped them into fluffy bits and long strands, as if it was trying to rush them on their way. I'm so happy today turned out so gorgeous and cool for the Cherry Blossom parade and the throngs of tourists in town to enjoy them. I hope they spend lots of money while they're here! ;-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

White House Program for Women and Girls

As laudable as this new initiative is, I wonder if any thought is being given to men and boys. It's not just a matter of equal rights, but of equal protection. It could be argued that girls and women often are victims of abuse because boys and men haven't learned that it's not right, or they have witnessed it in their own homes. At the same time, the recently reported abuse of singer Rihanna generated some interesting reactions from teenaged girls. Many thought she must have done something to deserve the beating. Perhaps what we need is an office on human values to address issues in both genders. Unless both are taught the same respect for human life, whether female or male, stereotypical ideals and skewed values will remain. Boys and men have been trying to figure out their role ever since the women's movement began. They have not had much practical help. Expectations for men still are based on old values which include the abilities to control, coerce and rule over others. Is it any wonder boys and men are caught in a bind of wanting to be "good people" while fulfilling the role that historically has been imposed upon them? Girls and women are equally guilty of perpetuating male stereotypes. On the one hand, we want males to be tough, strong and protective while, on the other hand, we want them to understand our feelings and needs. We too often assume they can read our minds and know how to and have the ability to make everything better. The culprits in infamous school shootings have been what I would term disenfranchised boys. For whatever reasons, they were unable to fit into the world around them. Ostracized and feeling shamed they turned to violence in an effort to stop the harrassment and turmoil they could no longer handle. A bully is created when a boy or girl discovers his/her strength and ability to physically and/or verbally control others. I cannot believe all bullies actually want to be that way. Once a reputation is established, it's hard to change it. Intervention frees the bully from having to continue hurting others. I wonder if personal relationships would improve if men were convinced they would not be chastised for crying or feeling empathy and sympathy. Stifling emotions all their lives must be painful and frustrating for males. How fair is it that females are allowed to feel pain and freely express their feelings but not males? People talk about double standards -- well here's a prime example. Boys and men deserve the same consideration as girls and women do when it comes to learning to live peaceful, fulfilling, satisfying lives.