Monday, June 30, 2008

Picking and Choosing the Rules

After sincere attempts to let the world "settle down of its own accord," I emailed a letter to the editor of the Eagle, our Wichita paper, in response to the following outrage, which appeared on the op/ed page, Sat, June 21:

Bible mocked
Regarding "Uneasy with strong women?" (June 5 Reader Views): Many in today's society love to mock the bible and discredit God's word. Genesis 3:16 says, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."

Today many women and men scoff at this and think that those who still hold to such beliefs are old-fashioned, fanatical nut cakes trying to hold women down. Well, maybe this is true in a few cases, but for most genuine Christians, nothing could be further from the truth. I, for one, love women and think that, except for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, they are the most precious gift to man and should be treated as such.

It is not our place to decide what the rules of life are for the sexes. God made us and therefore not only has the right to make the rules but, more important, the power and authority to do so. And all the mocking and scoffing, unity marches and pushes for so-called equality will not change it one iota. -James E. Sullivan, Augusta

My reply is below. I waited several days to compose this, so it lacks my original ideas about stabbing eyeballs, ripping out hearts, tearing limbs, etc. That and I had to keep it to 200 words, which repressed my freedom to elaborate on various forms of torture.

Dear Editor,
As evidence that God never intended women to have “so-called equality,” Mr. Sullivan cites Genesis 3:16, “…thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." He embraces a rule of God of which he approves, yet, I assert, rejects those he finds objectionable, picking and choosing, according to his opinions.

To verify, I assume Mr. Sullivan doesn't believe teenagers slamming the door with a curse at a parent is worthy of death as in Exodus 21:17, “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” I also assume he doesn’t support legislation to execute people working on Sunday, according to Exodus 35:2, “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day…whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.”

Christians, by definition of faith, must espouse liberation from intolerant “Laws of God,” shackling the ignorant. Paul wrote, Galatians 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." It's indefensible to pick and choose rules to suit prejudices and wield them as weapons of oppression.

Not that the following has any place with what I've written above, which was about picking and choosing laws, although it did set me thinking about another topic, judging others, it's worthy to quote St. Catherine of Siena where I'm spouting about laws and tolerance and such. In a letter addressed to Daniella of Orvieto, St. Catherine writes (trans. by Elizabeth Petroff),

I want us to do two special things so that ignorance doesn't impede the perfection to which God calls us and so that the devil, under the cloak of virtue and charity for one's neighbor, doesn't feed the root of presumption within the soul. Because of this we will fall into false judgements, seeming to ourselves to judge correctly and we will be judging wrongly; and often by following our own impressions, the devil would make us see many truths to lead us into falsehood. This happens because we make judgments about the minds of our fellow creatures, which God alone ought to judge.

Later in that same letter, Catherine writes, "...know that we ought not to trust in every appearance, but we ought rather to put it behind us, and dwell only on seeing and recognizing ourselves."

Lao Tzu from the Tao Teh Ching (trans. by Wu): "The virtuous attends to his duties; the virtueless knows only to levy duties upon the people. The Way of Heaven has no private affections, but always accords with the good."

And the Beatles sang, "Let it be."

Tao Never Makes Any Ado

I've been outraged for days over an opinion article in Saturday's (June 21) Wichita Eagle. Today, as self-therapy, I'll quote Lao Tzu from the Tao Teh Ching (trans. by John. C.H. Wu).

Tao never makes any ado,
And yet it does everything.
If a ruler can cling to it,
all things will grow of themselves.
When they have grown and tend to make a stir,
It is time to keep them in their place by the aid of
the nameless Primal Simplicity,
which alone can curb the desires of men.
When the desires of men are curbed, there will be peace,
And the world will settle down of its own accord.

Too bad it says nothing about the wrath of a woman.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I wish I were a hay!

The grass so little has to do, --
A sphere of simple green,
With only butterflies to brood,
And bees to entertain,

And stir all day to pretty tunes
The breezes fetch along,
And hold the sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything;

And thread the dews all night, like pearls,
And make itself so fine,--
A duchess were too common
For such a noticing.

And even when it dies, to pass
In odors so divine,
As lowly spices gone to sleep,
Or amulets of pine.

And then to dwell in sovereign barns,
And dream the days away, --
The grass so little has to do,
I wish I were a hay!

(Guess the poet, Dad!)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Essential Substances

I just finished reading Richard Rudgley's book, Essential Substances: A Cultural History of Intoxicants in Society. The book is a light read. Rudgley surveys time and place, describing the intoxicant use of different societies, including interesting details (fun facts) about the complexes of tools and rituals which accompany drugs. Although Essential Substances isn't as rigorous as his Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age, it demonstrates, as Lost Civilizations does, his ability to see through stone walls of bias, hypocrisy and stereotypes. Rudgley, in Essential Substances, extends his exposure of dogmatic, anthropological research by reminding us that drugs, while condemned in American society, are nearly ubiquitous in time and place, and we can't understand our ancestors and neighbors unless we understand their intoxicant use, which differs dramatically from the modern, American experience.

Mr. Rudgley, write me another. Send me an email, because I have a topic for you.

The Art of Writing

sample of the notes I produce while working on my book

Friday, June 27, 2008

Brandywine to Be

Never was there a fruit more doted over. Soon, my friends, very soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tent Caterpillars

Tent caterpillars. I have them--or I did--on my precious, ornamental cherry. I cut off the infected branch and threw it in the trash. I've seen these devils, when left to feed, denude large portions of walnut trees.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This is Gardening

The small things in gardening delight me the most. Although I bow to the opinions of people who judge my garden by the large splashes of color I can create, I'm not personally impressed with swatches of monocultured flowers. Anyone with a couple hundred bucks and a watering system can do that. The difference between 'landscaping' and 'gardening' is miles wide. I won't ever pair a red-leaved barberry with a yellow-leaved one, because that's hideous, and it doesn't even belong at McDonald's, where it turns up as frequently as weeds. What I do is garden. It's an art, not a profession.

This is a poem. Santolina in bloom, Lamb's ear and Kniphofia.

Oregano growing out of bounds, a stray larkspur, the first purple coneflower bloom of the season, garlic going to flower and tiny impatiens which spring up spontaneously in the path to bloom willy-nilly. This is gardening.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Jimmy Carter-Ahead of His Time

From the Wikipedia article for Jimmy Carter:
In 1973, during the Nixon Administration, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to reduce supplies of oil available to the world market. This sparked an oil crisis and forced oil prices to rise sharply, spurring price inflation throughout the economy, and slowing growth. Significant government borrowing helped keep interest rates high relative to inflation.

In 1977 Carter had convinced the Democratic Congress to create the United States Department of Energy. Promoting the department's recommendation to conserve energy, Carter wore sweaters, had solar hot water panels installed on the roof of the White House, had a wood stove in his living quarters, ordered the General Services Administration to turn off hot water in some federal facilities, and requested that Christmas decorations remain dark in 1979 and 1980. Nationwide controls were put on thermostats in government and commercial buildings to prevent people from raising temperatures in the winter (above 65 degrees Fahrenheit) or lowering them in the summer (below 78 degrees Fahrenheit). Carter also donned a cardigan sweater to emphasize the point. (Speed limits were reduced to 55mph around this time, and tax incentives were made available to people who installed solar panels.)

Along with my parents, I watched Jimmy Carter in a speech on TV, asking the American people to conserve energy. We listened, and my family was behind him 110%. My dad bought a Volkswagen diesel Rabbit, which got about 10,000 mpg. We had three solar panels installed on the house. We installed a fireplace in the living room. We kept the thermostat at 65 in the winter and wore sweaters. We didn't have air conditioning then so that wasn't an issue!

When Ronald Reagan came into office, suddenly no one cared about conserving energy anymore. The crisis was over, and we had plenty of oil and gas. But my dad...he still cared and continued to keep the thermostat down. He still does. I inherited a consciousness and conscience about energy conservation, and since 1980 and today, it's been a teeth-grinding experience for me to watch the U.S. continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels. When we started going to war over it, it was more than frustrating.

I see articles on the internet and opinions in the newspaper about how much oil is still in the ground and how many years these reserves will last. Some people (oil execs?) urge we should increase drilling to solve today's high gas prices. They want to increase off-shore drilling and dig into ANWR. What a brilliant idea! We'll just put off the final disaster for the next generation! It worked once, when Reagan came into office; we can do it again! Like KS R-Rep. Todd Tiahrt said, "There's this romantic image of ANWR. There's a reason nobody lives up there." Why would we care to preserve Alaska for our kids anyway? Besides, the Exxon Valdez was just a one-time accident.

We're paying ridiculous prices for gasoline, not because we're not drilling hard or fast enough, but because we were short-sighted and didn't invest in solar and wind energy like President Carter urged. I know no one reads about history, but this history is only 30 years ago. If we don't read, can't we just remember? I have a better idea than increased drilling. Maybe we can finally convert to solar, wind, bio and wave energy, leaving a legacy as a responsible generation who invested in our environmental and economic future by providing renewable, resource options for our children. Call me crazy....

I wrote the above blog a week ago, before I learned about Bush's tragic push for oil. At that time, I didn't post it because one of my objectives with this blog is not to air my rants, but to present the life of a person choosing positive options, the life of a person who wishes no ill on others and doesn't inflict any. Much of what we do is not bad in itself, but evil only because we try to make other people do it, too. If more people would mind their own business and take care not to impose their wills on other folks, the world would be a better place. In lieu of posting, I added President Carter's Speech, labeled 31 years ago, to my right column and left it to people to read for themselves. That day I posted about the mystic literature I've been reading.

With that in mind, I'll try not to rant about the oil, especially not today when I've learned that George Carlin died. Without George here to remind us how silly we really are, we might start taking ourselves too seriously. Today, I'll try to take the long view, the Carlin view, the only view that can keep me sane.

America is an excrutiatingly, young country. Because we are poorly educated in world history as a whole, we Americans forget how brief and inconstant we truly are. We are a flash in the pan. It is possible we could be more...just possible, but if we continue to pursue exploitative and short-term goals, we will suffer the inevitable end. It's not easy to be a survivor, and those empires which have done it seem to have shared one feature, a succession of great leaders with long-term vision.

America is standing at a transitory position in history as regards its energy use. I'm halfway through my lifetime and will probably die before the consequences of our decisions are met. President Bush, much older than I, will no longer be around to see the effect of his maladroit policies. We can all look at this as George Carlin would have, that in the long run the Earth will not suffer from our stupidities, because we'll all be extinct. In a shorter view, our children will probably still live in a country we call America, but it's strange to know that even in one more generation, that of our grandchildren, the country could fail, a victim of poor, resource conservation and short-sighted foreign policies.

I haven't given up hope--Bush might still be stopped, the 'new green' politics might delay him until American voters can get him replaced with Obama--but I'm preparing for the worse. Offshore drilling may go forward. We might get a new dose of oil from the Middle East. We might elect McCain and reject a future of renewable, energy resource. If all that happens, then falling back on Carlin's philosophies may be all I have left to replace the sadness and regret which will, invariably, outlast all this frustration and outrage.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Did anyone notice the Royals sweep the Cards last week? What's up with that?!

Mechthild's Passion

I finished the Bequine section in my book and have moved south to Italy and in time to read a selection of equally remarkable texts by equally remarkable women, but Mechthild is so captivating that I am drawn back to refresh my soul!

In the Flowing Light of the Godhead, there appears a dialog between the Soul and the Senses. Her method of leading her reader through her reasoning is powerful, and I will--did in a short story--copy her, not in the form of the dialog, but in the structure she uses to move the argument of her position. Ha! I make her sound cold and analytical! She's not. It's only the writer in me who deconstructs. The reader in me remains roused and hot. Perhaps hotter because I appreciate her skill as well as the art.

Mechthild's passion is stripped, so to speak, and lies exposed at the end. The reader, who's had the pleasure of indulging in the dialog up to her thesis, will recognize that every word shudders with meaning. She doesn't waste a single breath and each one is an intense gasp.

Lord, now am I a naked soul
And Thou a God most Glorious!
Our two-fold intercourse is Love Eternal
Which can never die.
Now comes a blessed stillness
Welcome to both. He gives Himself to her
And she to Him.
What shall now befall her, the soul knows:
Therefore am I comforted.
Where two lovers come secretly together
They must often part, without parting.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

26 Brazilian Soldiers

Taken from a reader's comment on Stranger Fruit:

Condi Rice is briefing W about the world situation.

"And finally Mr President, I should let you know that 26 Brazilian soldiers died in a training accident yesterday..."

Bush: "Oh my GOD Condi! That's TERRIBLE! How could . . . ummm, can you remind me how big a number a brasillion is?"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Prince Bertram the Bad

I love children's books and own way too many. They are currently taking up most of the closet space below the stairs, but a few of the most cherished sit in my studio where I can fawn over them. One of these is Prince Bertram the Bad by Arnold Lobel. Its copyright is 1963 and my older sister's name and an old address and phone number are written on the inside cover, so I assume it was hers first. The back cover was lost at some point, but I repaired it with a stiff piece of cardboard, which was 'decorated' and signed by the child who 'loved' the book after I did. The book, however, remains in my hands, and I treaure it.

Most people are familiar with Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, also copyright 1963, but fewer have heard of Prince Bertram, although the stories and illustrations share many similarities. Both these authors are also the illustrators, and the styles are remarkably similar, right down to their muted color palettes. Both books are about naughty, little boys who experience a magical transformation and return to their families reformed and happy. In Max's case, he dreams that he sails to an island of scary creatures. In Bertram's case, a witch turns him into a dragon.

Sendak's story is really an illustrated poem, and his language is rhythmic, simple and forceful. I can attest, from vast experience, that it is a delight to read out loud. Lines like this never sound dull to the ear, and the tongue rolls over them with pleasure no matter how many times one recites it in a night or that month or that year, "And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws...." Pure joy.

Lobel's story reads more like a fireside tale with clever details and wonderful adventures. Bertram's naughty antics are really very cute. For example, "The royal cook would not speak to Prince Bertram. He had thrown four spiders into the chicken noodle soup." After being turned into a dragon, he's miserable in the castle so Bertram runs away, and the result is reminiscent of Max's encounter with wild beasts, "There was a big forest near the castle, where many lions and porcupines and other beasts lived. The animals growled and roared at him, and they ate all of his gingersnaps."

Sendak's book, Where the Wild Things Are, enjoys current popularity, and you can find it in bookstores, but I've never seen Lobel's book ,which is equally delightful, in a Barnes & Noble. I have a couple ideas why the difference in popularity, but I'm only guessing. Truly, Lobel's story has greater depth; Prince Bertram does a good deed, which redeems him, but Max just gets lonely and wakes up. Also, Lobel's illustrations have more variety and are as clever as hell. Prince Bertram as a dragon is adorable. Anyway, if you have young children and don't own Where the Wild Things Are, you're a schmuck, but if you want to really be cool, you'll buy Prince Bertram the Bad and read that out loud, as well. Your kids will remember and love you forever.

[I started this blog, thinking I was going to toss up a Winnie the Pooh quote today--Pooh is one of my dearest characters--and look where I ended up!]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Heavenly Bamboo

Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo, not a bamboo at all, is planted, primarily, for the foliage. At least, that's why I have it. Of course, most familiar plants are classified as flowering plants (yes, there are plants on earth that don't flower, but that's another blog for mosses, ferns, etc.), but there are plenty of hybrids in our gardens that never or rarely produce a bloom, and I assumed Nandina was one of these. I was wrong! Just look at these pretty blossoms! Bumblebees are in the thick of them, and not just in a lazy, quiet way. The bumblebee in the pic below was buzzing, unusual for these big guys, and quivering his little butt like he just scored!

(A wasp landed on my hand while I was taking this pic, and I, naturally, froze. He wagged his scary stinger and flew off again. Phew!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Mystic Literature

Espousing a philosophy that a Sufi or Taoist would find familiar, Mechthild again from The Flowing Light of the Godhead:

The bride is intoxicated by the sight of His glorious countenance. In her greatest strength she is overcome; in her blindness, she sees most clearly; in her greatest clearness, she is both dead and alive. The richer she becomes, the poorer she is...The more she storms, the more loving God is to her. The higher she soars, the more brightly she shines from the reflection of the Godhead, the nearer she comes to Him. The more she labours, the more sweetly she rests. The more she understands, the less she speaks. The louder she calls, the greater wonders she works with His power and her might. The more God loves her, the more glorious the course of love, the nearer the resting-place, the closer the embrace. The closer the embrace, the sweeter the kiss. The more lovingly they gaze at each other, the more difficult it is to part. The more He gives her, the more she spends, the more she has. The more humbly she takes leave, the sooner she returns. The more the fire burns, the more her light increases. The more love consumes her, the brighter she shines. The vaster God's praise, the vaster her desire for Him.

(note: I changed Menzies punctuation in two places.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

U.S. Open 2008

Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, winners of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament 2008. I say winners because Rocco shared this victory and Tiger was as gracious as always, sharing the spotlight.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blog Changes

I recently removed Ads by Google. I just couldn't tolerate the poor performance of this service. I spent a morning trying to set up Weblo, which offered me vastly more control over keywords, but, in the end, was defeated by a lack of control over the formatting--I couldn't squeeze it into the column.

Another change I recently made was to add an invisible stats counter to my page and discovered that I receive hits from all over the United States, from California to New York and some in between. I can also see, guessing by the cities, that some of my friends (<3u) are reading regularly! Only one problem; where are your comments!? I see you peeking! Comment, please!

Lastly, I frequently make deletions and additions to my page elements in the right column, my header and footer. Check these out for new stuff.

Thanks, somebodies, for reading. I enjoy blogging, but I like it better knowing I'm making a connection.

Ground Covers

When I planned my garden... After the ten years we've been in this location, I can't use the word planned in a strict sense. There was a plan in the beginning, even a map, but plants just don't 'sway that way'. Trees die (even very large trees around which structure and light are based) and some bushes, flowers, etc. decide, for one reason or another, they don't like their conditions. On the other hand, another plant will thrive and grow beyond the limits that are planned in a magnificent and better way than anticipated. I say I planned my garden, but only the rough ideas of my first conceptions remain.

When I planned my garden, we already had mature trees on the property, as well as, a small orchard. What I did was plan the shape of an intermediate-height garden in the sunnier locations, using bushes and small trees to lay out the form. The first four or five years, we planted crepe myrtle, flowering almond, yew, holly, ornamental cherry, river birch, and many others, some of which are no longer with us. I planted a dogwood one spring, and a sirocco raged through on an early, summer day and ignited it. Between morning and evening, the tree's young, green leaves withered to ashy, brown cinders.

As I was saying, when I planned my garden, one of the effects I wanted to produce was a feeling of antiquity. Our beautiful, mature trees were a good start, but I wanted ground covers to smooth out the harsh edges of new plantings and to give the illusion of time. In this goal, I haven't applied myself as well as I should have, but there are a few places where my attempts were rewarded. I have to give all the credit to the marvelous plants, which, despite my neglect and half-hearted attitude, thrive and spread.

I also give credit to Mom. All the groundcovers I list and picture below were started with plants from her garden. She had so much of each that a couple shovelfuls from the mass didn't even make a dent. (Love you, Mom.)

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, also called leadwort or just plumbago. The green plant growing in low masses under the river birch and the plant in the foreground of the pot-pic is plumbago. In the background of the pot-pic is honeysuckle, with which I'm engaged in a battle. The honeysuckle wants to engulf the pot and everything else on that side of the fence, and I want it to stay put on the fence. Clip, clip, snip, snip, but I'm losing. Plumbago has one of those rare, blue, peacock-hued flowers (not blooming in these pics). Its leaves also turn a pretty shade of mahogany.

Vinca major, also called big leaf periwinkle. I call it Vinca major, except when I have one of my noun-attacks and start processing words through association to retrieve the desired noun! Then I sometimes call it periwinkle. This is a fast spreader, so I have to be careful where I introduce it. These are two, rough locations where I needed large, odd areas covered, so it works well, although I have some locations where I'm constantly pulling it out like a weed. Some years it has an abundance of pretty, blue flowers. Other years, it's less prolific. I'd like it better if it were more efficient at keeping tree seedlings from growing up through. Plumbago is better for that, but it doesn't spread as rapidly.

Vinca minor, also called periwinkle or creeping myrtle. I call it Vinca minor. It's a far more delicate plant than Vinca major, and it doesn't spread as rapidly. Its flower looks like major's. Overall, I prefer the growth habit and leaves of the Vinca minor. In this pic, I planted it at the base of a tree where the grass failed year after year. Sometimes I look stupidly at a site for years before inspiration (commonsense) finally strikes me. When I planted the Vinca minor here, it went crazy and solved my bare spot problem in only a couple seasons.

Stachys lanata or Lamb's ear. I call it Lamb's ear or, in the event of a noun-attack, Stachys. This awesome plant grows anywhere and will. In the sun, it blooms more abundantly and with sturdier stems, but I have it bloom in deep shade, too. Wherever even a small piece gets started, there will be a lush, wooly-soft, gray-blue mass of it the next year. I love it because of the furry leaves (which kids adore!), but I, especially, like to use it to make contrasting leaf-color/texture displays, which is what I've done here. I have it planted around my Hick's yew (yum, yum, yum, I love my Hick's), which is a rich, dark green all year (and needly). In front of it, I have a dainty-leaved, red shamrock. The only disadvantage of this plant, and there is ONLY one, is that I have to cut back the flower stalks after it blooms (blooming in this pic I took this morning). The bumblebees adore this plant's flowers, as do sphinx moths!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


The roses have come and gone. Here's a small taste of the beauty we enjoyed while they bloomed. Our consolation; they'll bloom again next year.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Light Reading

I've been reading (very slowly) the book, Medieval Women's Visionary Literature, ed. by Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff. The anthology covers an impressive number of different styles and a long time period, roughly 1300 years, so I'm never sure what to expect next when I turn the page.

Here's an excerpt (by no means typical except in its excellence) from The Flowing Light of the Godhead, written by Mechthild of Magdeburg (1207-1282; Germany), translated by Lucy Menzies. I wrote in an earlier post about Marguerite Porete. Both of these women, Marguerite and Mechthild were Beguines. If you're 'into' European literature of this period, you'll recognize the style of amour courtois in Mechthild's writing.

5. Of the torment and reward of Hell

My body is in long torment, my soul in high delight, for she has seen and embraced her Beloved. Through Him, alas for her! she suffers torment. As He draws her to Himself, she gives herself to Him. She cannot hold back and so He takes her to Himself. Gladly would she speak but dares not. She is engulfed in the glorious Trinity in high union. He gives her a brief respite that she may long for Him. She would fain sing His praises but cannot. She would that He might send her to Hell, if only He might be loved above all measure by all creatures. She looks at Him and says, "Lord! Give me Thy blessing!" He looks at her and draws her to Him with a greeting the body may not know--

Thus the body speaks to the soul
"Where hast thou been? I can bear this no more!"
And the soul replies "Silence! Thou art a fool!
I will be with my Love
Even shouldst thou never recover!
I am His joy; He is my torment--"

This is her torment,
Never must she recover from it
But must ever endure it
And never escape it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Egyptian Walking Onions II

Aha! Now you can see multiple onion bulbs have formed at the top of these stalks. Soon the stalk will become too topheavy and will bend over. Where the bulbs touch the ground, they will root and form new plants!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A bee or a wasp?

In the convolutions of concrete, which make up the headdress of my Kwan Yin statue, there is a tiny hole, and inside this tiny hole I found this guy. I only saw his motion out of the corner of my eye, so I wasn't able to identify it before he snugged himself, butt-first, in his hidey-hole.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Survivor Chicken

Here is the last of the seven chicks I raised this spring. One by one, cats got hold of them through the fence and ate them during the night. By the time they learned to avoid the fence, there were only two left. For a while, I thought I'd keep these two, but last night, I lost this girl's friend. Now there is one.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Separation of Church and State

If you've ever wondered how the two, presidential candidates, Obama and McCain, feel about the separation of church and state provided in the first amendment, here is your answer.

Obama Speech
McCain Video

Monday, June 9, 2008

Baby Fruits and Veggies

A perfect spring is being followed up with a perfect early summer. Soaking rains followed by sunny days, then another round of it, and the plants are loving it. It's my best year ever for the fruit trees. I even have apricots, which are usually frozen off because they bloom so early.

My nephew and his wife are gardening in a community plot in Chicago, and he keeps us updated on his garden's progress through his blog site, Earth Household. He recently put up gorgeous pics (so jealous of his photography) of his fruits and veggies. Not to be outdone, here is a slideshow of my babies!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius

Does anyone else feel Obama's choice for running mate is crucial, that it will decide the election? It may not be the most crucial VP choice in American history, but it has to be up near the top.

One of the people being considered for VP candidacy is the governor from my home state of Kansas, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Get this. She's a democrat. Yep. She's a democrat who won in a RED state, and you don't get much redder than KS. In Sunday's Eagle, they quoted Mel Kahn, prof.of political science at WSU as saying, "When Kansas goes Democratic in a presidential election is when hell will go Methodist."

Kansas voters only once since the 1940s voted for a democrat in the presidential elections. That was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. We have not had a Democratic senator since 1939, and the two we have now are just about as right-wing as they come. I have to admit, though, Roberts and Brownback, actually represent the ultra-conservative views people hold here.

I like Gov. Sebelius. She's tough, but she's balanced. She had to be both to win in a red state. She's what politicians call a moderate Democrat. She was a hero when she held tough against legislation that would have allowed two, coal-burning, power plants to be built here. KS legislators, with lobbyists at their back, kept sending bills to her desk, and she kept slapping veto on them. They tried to override her vetos, but they couldn't get it together. Almost single-handedly, she saved us from that stupidity and from Sunflower Corp. (Yes, this friendly, electric company calls itself this innocuous name as though their mission is to save our state flower or some such nonsense. It's Orwellian!)
Coal Plant = Sunflowers?
For more about what she's done as governor for Kansas, you can go to this site which provides a summary of the major issues we've faced in that time and how Sebelius handled them, Sebelius Summary.

If Sebelius is chosen, she won't hurt Obama's campaign, and she may help it, but if he considers someone else stronger, I won't be crushed. I'm cheering for him to make the best choice for his campaign and for the country.

Names being tossed around for VP:
KS Gov. Kathleen Sebelius -women's votes (more than half the American voters are women), and she's proven her ability to get Republican votes. She also has ties to Ohio, which is important.

MO Senator Claire McCaskill - women's votes, and offers a win in MO, a swing state.

OH Gov. Ted Strickland- popular, and he could win Ohio

VA Sen. Jim Webb - credentials, help in winning a swing state, VA.

DE Sen. Joseph Biden, IN Sen. Evan Bayh, CT Sen. Christopher Dodd, former GA Sen. Sam Nunn- foreign policy and national security experience
NY Sen. Hilary Clinton - women's votes, name recognition, experience
(Hilary's women supporters are more than a generic women's vote. They represent a strong loyalty to her, specifically, as a candidate. Therefore, women like Sebelius and McCaskill don't pull as much weight for Obama as Clinton would from that sector.)

And about Hilary:

Melanie - I Tried To Die Young

My sis and I were just little girls, probably no more than 8 and 9, when we heard and became fans of Melanie. Her music is something we've both carried with us as we grew up, something always there in the back of our minds, informing us about music and life. It's with me now as I'm, not growing UP so much as, growing OLD. Her appeal has not dimmed one whit with age. She is as gracious and beautiful and talented as ever.

I love you, Melanie.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I've been reading The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (GFSM) by Bobby Henderson. It's chockfull of quotable statements, and it's been a test of my willpower not to blog on it incessantly. If I don't put up at least one GFSM excerpt, though, I'll go mad! So here's from a section called A Guide to the Holidays (Pastafarian refers to a member of the Church of the FSM):

"HOLIDAY encompasses pretty much all of the big commercial holidays celebrated by the other religions. Holiday stretches over most of December and January, and it is interesting to consider how much this Pastafarian religion has spread over the last couple of years. In fact, many schools and businesses refer not to the "Christmas season," but to the Pastafarian "Holiday season" instead. This is strong evidence of our rapid growth, and we feel that a special thanks should go out to Wal-Mart, who rejected the Christian phrase "Merry Christmas" in favor of the Pastafarian greeting "Happy Holidays." We appreciate your support."

editorial note 1: I was going to title this blog Gospel, but backed off that idea because I was afraid of what kind of ads Goggleads might start putting up on my site. You can't be too careful these days. All kinds of nutcakes out there.

editorial note 2: I had to look up how to spell chockfull.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Panda Joke

This blog is about a book and a joke. I can't tell you the title of the book, because it gives away the punchline of the joke below, known as The Panda Joke. Once you've read the joke, you can google (love that verb) the book's title. I've had this book on my shelf for quite a few years now, and it still makes me chuckle when I read the spine in passing.

  • The Panda Joke

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit.

The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

More Poppies

I couldn't find a poem appropriate for my beautiful, poppy photo. As I searched, I outright rejected the sleep/dream/blood poems, because none of these come first to my mind when poppies bloom in my garden. Rarely a poet addresses the winsome nature of these pretty flowers, so I was left with a tiny handful of poems to consider, none of which satisfied. As much as anyone, I enjoy a wallow in the sanguinary and soporific dreams of poppy, but mostly poppies are, to me, a gay flower. Therefore, I've published my picture sans poem.

What poets don't know (and gardeners do!) is that poppies have multiple personalites. Not only are they, at once, sleepy and lively, but also bold in color while fragile in form. Their petals are frail like tissue, and harsh winds may break them apart after the first day. This year, a poppy shattered at my touch. Rain makes the petals droop or fall. They will grow in light shade, but make only small plants and small flowers. If they're too crowded, the same. Poppies are best in the sunshine with only a light breeze.

Of course, once the petals are gone, poppies step forward with an entirely different personality. They become earthy, structural, substantial. Their symmetry expresses itself in the bud, then in their studied manner of unfolding and, also, in the blossom stage, as the photo shows. But it's when the petals are gone, when we're no longer giddy with color, that structure reveals itself as a poppy's most overt feature. Structure, though, is a topic for autumn, maybe winter, blogs. Right now, the poppies are blooming, and they are not sleepy or bloody, just bright and cheerful.

*My Gardening Style* There is actually a bed for poppies only, but they also seed and grow in the paths and in the lettuce, in the chard and with the peppers. If it's pretty, I leave it.

*Dorothy's Poppy Slippers* Not only are they poppy colored, they remind me of the glorious field of poppies where Dorothy and her friends were soothed to sleep by the wicked witch in direct reference to the property of opium, derived from poppies.


Poppies are blooming...and toes...and turtles.