Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mediterranean 2006

Do I need a reason to share two of my favorite photos?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Eve

What did I do on Thanksgiving Eve? Well, I spiffed up the guest room for my nephew and his wife's visit--this is the nephew who's more like my brother. I made salads, one with onion, one without, as I do EVERY year. I made hors d'ouevres which are "to die for," and it was hard to fill the pyrex because we kept eating them. I baked a pie, pumpkin...Pioneer--or is it Pilgrim?--Pie. O! MY! IT IS SO GOOD. But then how can you go wrong with 5 spices, sugar, evaporated milk, 2 eggs and pumpkin? Everything is ready for tomorrow.

A little strange, but I set up virtual graves for my maternal grandparents at Find A Grave, then I left them each virtual flowers. You can't thank people who are dead, but then all that type of thing, thanks, gifts, favors, that's for the edification of the giver anyway. I am thankful for my grandparents who were so enormously important to me as I was growing up.

It was my grandma who picked me up from school when I was sick, because my mom worked at Boeing. In the summer during school vacation, grandma--Granner we all called her, both as a proper and a common noun--was our babysitter. She cooked enormous breakfasts and then left the food on the table for us to eat on until lunch. MY GRANDMA MADE CORNMEAL MUSH THAT WAS SO GOOD IT WOULD MAKE YOU WEEP. Grandma loved the color red--she often wore red shirts--loved flowers and candy. She wore her hair in numerous braids that she coiled on her head. She had thick, curly hair, so the long braids were dense, and she used a lot of hairpins to hold it up. I called her grandma once instead of Granner, which made her laugh because I was so formal. ...I miss her.

My grandpa was a "character." He used to push his dentures forward and clack them to amuse all the grandkids. Boy, o, boy, he did love his grandkids--there were a lot of us, and we were always over there, at granner and grandpa's house. He was a horse trader (and his father before him) and knew EVERYTHING about horses. He always had a few in town on their lot, and he kept more pastured at our house in the country. Except when he was in the hospital, I never saw him without a belt and western-style belt buckle. He wore cowboy shirts, cowboy boots and dress-type pants. When he went out, he always wore a cowboy hat. That's how he grew up, always lived and worked, and he looked odd out-of-doors if he wasn't wearing a hat. It was never a cheap hat either, only fine hats, one of straw, one dressier of gray felt.

Both grandma and grandpa loved to play cards. Grandma bought the kind with big numbers because she couldn't see very well, although I don't remember her ever wearing glasses. Grandpa had trouble holding his hand, because he had lost the ends of a few fingers in various accidents over the years. Grandpa used to be a poker player in his younger days, and he cheated when he played cards. All the grandkids knew it, but he was never called on it.

Best times of my life were standing at the corner of the card table while the grown-ups played---wishing with all my heart I could play, too--watching grandma eat chocolate-covered candies from a box, grandpa smoking cigarettes he rolled himself and fumbling with his cards.

Right until the end--when grandpa's hands were too clumsy and grandma's hands too stiff from arthritis to handle the cards properly--we would still play. Grandkids would take their turns at shuffling and dealing, and one or the other of us would help them pull out a card from their hand or tell them what was on top of the stack when they couldn't see it. If Grandpa's cheating was more and more what?! We knew how much they loved to play, and we loved to play with them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bedding Down for Winter

Yet another species of mushroom thriving on this stump in my back yard. It was a fine day we decided to leave it.
To some people, dirt and leaves. To me, two garden beds beautifully prepared for winter. In one, the autumn leaves of maple, oak and sycamore piled high. In the other, the soil is ready for the winter wheat I planted shortly after snapping this pic. The two, tall stems mark a tigerlily, which, by virtue of its beauty and hardiness, has won a permanent position in my otherwise uniform bed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

#2 vs #5; Close Game Expected, Right?

What in the world happened last night in Norman, OK? I watched the first half, fell asleep during the second, woke up to see OU had something like 65 points, then went to bed. Texas Tech? Explanations?

Blog Toy

Here's a fun toy, brought to our attention by Pete Rahon in Korea, the Typealyzer.

I was a ...


The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This Morning in Tucson

Credit: e-mail from my uncle in Arizona

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prop 8 Issues

CowHen provides an intelligible update to the legal situation in California concerning Prop 8, and The Wild Hunt in the post, "Update: What About Our Faiths?" warns that discrimination against any minority group is a threat to the rights of all minorities.

Prop 8: Legislating Against Love

Everywhere I'm reading of this terrible result in California on Prop 8 and in Arizona on Prop 102. Ever since the election, I've wanted to speak up. In small ways, I've done this, and I'll continue to support those I know who are intimately affected. I've also wanted to place something here on my blog in a "consciousness raising" effort, as Pico puts it. Much has been said, and the effects experienced by those who are mourning, thus we begin to understand the negative impact as well as the level of injustice perpetrated against people who are our friends and our family members.

Below are links to Pico's excellent essays on the subject, followed by a blog post written by a friend who lives in California, once legally married to her true love, now wondering what it all means.

Pico's Blog, Wild Chihuahuas

Individual Essays on the Topic:
That Straight Blind Spot
The Marriage War: Strategy Considerations
Gay Marriage, Immigrants and the Border Lands

Krissy's blog:
"A can of worms…

The blog that I started to write at 5am would have been very different than the one I am writing now. I went down to the county office this morning to get our official marriage certificate since we had not done that yet. As I sit and ponder this paper in front of me that states that I am legally married and as I lay awake all night last night and think...

It is currently legal for same sex couples to marry in California. All documentation has been changed to "Party A" and "Party B" instead of husband and wife, ceremony wording changed to be all encompassing, marriage equality is the status quo if you will.

All night I thought about things I wished I could have said to the "Yes on 8" people. How can you people vote for discrimination? Do they not see it is discrimination, plain as day? How can you vote to eliminate rights based on a Judeo-Christian definition of marriage (separation of church and state!)? How has my marriage negatively affected your life? What on earth do your signs mean that Yes on 8 is about religious freedom and parental rights?

...It's not 100% passed, but if passed, this AMENDS the state constitution to define marriage. A state court will NOT be allowed to declare this unconstitutional. "By adding the language of Proposition 8 to the state Constitution, which is the highest source of law in the state, the California courts would be required to uphold traditional marriage." (taken from the yes on 8 peoples website)

You want a fight you stupid ignorant people, you got one. We had the right to legally marry. You have voted to amend a state constitution to ELIMINATE THAT RIGHT.

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution states that:"no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Similar to how Brown v. Board of Education overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling of separate but equal, I have to have some faith that so shall this be overturned (hopefully in sooner than in 58 years). That marriage v. domestic partnership, segregation could you call it? Separate but supposedly equal? ...shall not prevail."
Permission was granted to reprint this blog post. Thanks to Krissy for sharing and for her efforts to defeat this amendment. Thanks also to Pico for his continuing insight, passion and talent in sharing both.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Girl Effect

Watch. Understand.

The Girl Effect: "A woman or girl will reinvest 90% of her income into her family. A man will invest 30-40%."

Smoke on the Water

O, my, a lot of hair, a few mullets, and I may be a nerd, but I thought this was amazing.

Smoke on The Water with Bruce Dickinson, Tony Iomi Brian May - For more funny videos, click here

Monday, November 17, 2008

Speaking of Football...

I visited my mom and dad this afternoon, looked at old photos, laughed at our old-fashioned hairstyles and ridiculous eyeglasses. I also picked up a notebook of my dad's hand-written reminiscences, intending to type them out for him. I came across this pearl.

Dad wrote:
"How do I watch Sunday Night Football with John Madden? The same way I used to watch Monday Night Football with Howard Cosell--with the sound off."

[Sorry, Dad, for stealing your blog material!]

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Enjoying Football

I watched seven football games this week. I wonder if that's excessive.

Gotta go...Sunday's games start in about an hour.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Ever since I woke from my drug-induced hibernation, I've been working frantically, feverishly, furiously and some other emPHatic, Freaking "F" words on my Family tree. That's about 2--3?--weeks now--I keep track of time only randomly. The best I can say this morning is that it's Autumn.

Those who've done heritage research already know it's dangerously compelling. For those who haven't, let me tell you to clear massive amounts of time for this addictive activity if making the attempt. Like most things, I'm trying to do it on the cheap. I started with a free 14-day trial at I think I'm now into the $30 for the first month. I don't have "tree-maker" software other than nimble fingers at the keyboard transmitting to my word processing program.

I look around at my desk(s)--arranged in a functional L-fashion--and realize the research has taken over my studio. There are piles of print outs, scribbled notes with lists of siblings, dates of birth, a county map of Missouri, my calculator to figure ages quickly, my old (and pathetic) family tree book laid out. Among these is a stack of books, Sagas of the Icelanders, Njal's Saga, The Poetic Edda, and I realize I'm the descendant, the inheritor of the spirit of the folk in those books. I know now, most intimately, that I'm not just begat from the northern regions where they lived, but I care about the same thing they cared about, that is, family.

At the beginning of every Norse saga, there's always a genealogy, and usually more throughout the book as the author uses these family trees to define the characters. The sagas, unique as a literary form, shun dramatic exposition. They are about action, physical description, poetry and terse judgements like "All of his sons were accomplished men," and "...he defended himself so valiantly that he did not give way under their attack at all." But...the people of that time, familiar with heroes of these sagas could picture the character of a person if given their family tree.

To the modern reader, these genealogies seem dry. However, I'm familiar with worse from reading medieval literature, and as I became more knowledgable with saga figures, I began to appreciate these litanies of ancestral lines. In fact, I now eagerly search them for familiar names, piecing together the people in this saga with those from another.

From Bolli Bollason's Tale (trans. Keneva Kunz), here's an example of this style of introducing the relationships (characters) in a story.

"At the same time as Bolli Bollason lived at Tunga, as was spoken of earlier, a man called Arnor Crone's-nose, the son of Bjarni Thordarson of Hofdi, lived on the farm Miklabaer in Skagafjord.

Another man, named Thord, lived with his wife Gudrun at Marbaeli. They were fine, upstanding farmers with wealth in plenty. Their son Olaf was still a boy at the time and a most promising young man. Gudrun, Thord's wife, was a near relative of Bolli Bollason, as her mother was his aunt. Gudrun's son Olaf was named after Olaf Peacock of Hjardarholt.

At Hof in Hjaltadal lived Thord and Thorvald Hjaltason, two prominent leaders.

A man called Thorolf Stuck-up lived at Thufur. He had an unfriendly nature and was often uncontrollable when angry. He owned a very aggressive grey bull. Thord of Marbaeli had sailed on merchant voyages with Arnor. Thorolf Stuck-up was married to a kinswoman of Arnor's and was one of the thingmen of the Hjaltasons. He was on hostile terms with his neighbours and was used to making trouble, of which the people of Marbaeli bore the brunt...."

Notice the phrase "as was spoken of earlier." There is no earlier in this saga; those are the first four paragraphs. The author is, therefore, referring to another story when "Bolli Bollason lived at Tunga," thus reminding his listeners/readers of the events and people in a previous tale.

Now, what I was saying...I realize, though over a millenium separates me by birth, I AM these people. Not only do I care to know these ancient lineages in order to understand the story, I'm just as fascinated by my modern family relationships. And I'm not the only one, but one of a kindred, and my "folk" have not, in over that millenium and more, not much changed their style of sharing the information. Compare this letter written by a relative of mine (a family treasure, by the way) to the saga example above.

"Then next came Wesley and all I know about him (don't remember ever seeing him) is that my dad said he and Grandpa D. (Henry) never got along too well; they both had "Ditzenberger tempers" and often had regular fist fights, so when he got old enough he left home and eventually settled in Oklahoma and there he married a part-Indian girl by the name of Captolia and they had one daughter named Myrtle, who used to visit Grandpa and Grandma Ditzenberger every few years--she was a pretty blonde with real curly hair, so she must have taken after Uncle John, my grandfather, and Uncle Bert as far as her curly hair was concerned but she was wild as an Indian and Grandma couldn't handle her and I think she sent her home to her mother one time after a short stay. As I recall what Dad said, Uncle Wesley had died and her mother, Captolia, didn't have much control over her...."

That was written by a woman with the surname of Stonebreaker more than twenty years ago. Lineage, action, physical description, these were her stock in trade, same as the saga writers. The pretty blonde, daughter of a part-Indian girl and the son of a German immigrant named Ditzenberger, the girl no one could handle, was my grandmother (Granner), who died in 1992. From her I inherited my height and my cheekbones. Maybe I inherited other things as well, but I'll leave the character traits to the judgement of others.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Superior Scribbler

It was mountains harder than I expected to choose five blogs for the Superior Scribbler award. Those I chose are all very different, though it wasn't intended.

These are my picks.

The Gods are Bored: This was the easiest to decide. Anne Johnson has a god's spirit with fairy wings. When I wrote to President-elect Obama, I told him about Anne's post, The Sign. She recently began a new blog in which each post is six words. It's genius.

Inspirations and Creative Thoughts: Mysticsaint is the writer. He keeps my mind open to the wider world, and his devotion to love inspires me. His musical choices are astoundingly beautiful.

Dependable Renegade: Brilliant photos and captions. I would have DR linked on my blog list except for one failing--the followers leave inane comments. As long as you don't read the comments, the blog is terrific. Don't get too far behind, though, because a lot of material goes up each day, and it's highly topical.

Whatever It Is, I'm Against It: This line is from a song by Groucho Marx, which serves as Whatever's theme song. This blog deserves an award just for posting the video of Groucho singing it. The posts are great, too. :) My blog list is really for my own use, therefore I haven't linked Whatever because I always reach it through CowHen. I want to read more of this blog and will one of these days.

The Wild Hunt: I can't go a day without Jason Pitzl-Waters. Bless you for your fine, consistent, dedicated work, Jason.

I couldn't choose Pico at Wild Chihuahuas, because he's already a Superior Scribbler, but he's an essential read. Occasionally, Pico takes a small break, and that's a great disappointment those one or two days. His latest essay, "The Marriage War: Strategy Considerations," is representative of the intelligence and compassion (along with a sharp wit) I've come to expect from this Small Desert God.

Superior Scribbler Award Rules:
Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List.
That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

The Money Hole

In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

I swear. Genius sometimes at ONN.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Book of Love

Once again, I'm indebted to Pico at Wild Chihuahuas for finding the perfect youtube for the moment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Queen Sigrith's Day

Yesterday, Sunday, was the 9th, the monthly Day of Honor, the day when a historical, semi-historical or mythical hero is honored as a virtuous, courageous or spiritual inspiration to modern Heathen practitioners. Pagans discover these paragons in literature and archaeological evaluation. The path of Reconstructionism, especially, leads pagans into study, also into experimentation with artifact (i.e. Thor's hammer), symbol (i.e. labyrinths, runes) and custom (i.e. sumbel, blot). Because there is no dogma, the pagan is a perpetual seeker. Ironically for Heathens, they eventually discover that the journey is the destination.

Yesterday was Queen Sigrith's Day. She is honored for her courage in refusing to deny her belief in the gods. She reminds Heathens, too, that the faith is of "kinsmen before", thus a tradition, a "handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice." But even more, Queen Sigrith, while insisting on her independence from the foreign god of King Olaf, demonstrated the noble path of tolerance.

She says it all best herself. Therefore, from the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, trans. Lee M. Hollander...

"Chapter 61. Queen Sigrith Refuses Baptism

Early in spring King Olaf journeyed east to Konungahella for the meeting with Queen Sigrith. And when they met they discussed the matter which had been broached in winter, that they were to marry; and matters went very well. Then King Olaf said that Sigrith should be baptized and accept the true faith. She replied in this wise: “I do not mean to abandon the faith I have had, and my kinsmen before me. Nor shall I object to your belief in the god you prefer.”

Then King Olaf became very angry and said hastily, “Why should I want to marry you dog of a heathen?” and slapped her in the face with the glove he had in his hand. Whereupon he arose, and she too.

Then Sigrith said, “This may well be your death!” With that they parted. The king returned north to Vik, and the queen east to Sweden."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Contacting President-elect Obama

President-elect Obama has provided a venue for citizens to express their ideas to him during this transition period. Please take the opportunity to contact him at and let him know what you think.

(Unfortunately, the drug war problem is not on the list of "checkable" issues, but there is a field to write in "other issues." Be sure to add "Marijuana Law Reform" in that field.)

I wrote, urging first of all for peace, abroad and at home. I said we could do nothing effective or meaningful until we had that, and I reminded him that peace also meant domestic peace, that we could not continue the drug war focused against young people and minorities, and we must end the horrifying violence against women in their homes.

I wrote, reminding him that prosperity is meaningless without peace (and peace meaningless without liberty) and asked him to consider peace his primary directive in the presidency. O, I know everyone cares uppermost about the economy right now, but that's why I wrote as I did. Environmental conservation, renewable energy, immigration, these and others are important issues to me, but if we WAR, of what concern are they? And how can we solve them when our finances and passions are spent on violence?

I closed with congratulations for his (our) win, thanked him for his efforts and for his willingness to assume this awful burden and expressed my deepest wishes for his well-being, both personal and public.

I don't know what else I can do, but express my support and urge others to do the same. Please take a few minutes to fill out the form provided at We want to keep this precious opportunity open and the energy flowing in the right direction. Ignore the cynics. Brush aside the hatred. Keep moving forward with the hope the President-elect has inspired, and we might, just might, establish the peace, liberty and prosperity we seek.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How Obama Won

He unleashed the fury of Anne Johnsons across the nation. For the good of your soul, read the link.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes We Can

We can do this. We can bring peace. We can show compassion. We can be accepting of differences and rejoice in our similarities. We can strengthen our defense and offer our protection to others. We can heal myriad ills.

Yes We Can.

I'm ready to make the attempt. I've been waiting my whole life for this. So, so ready.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Marijuana Reform Will Happen

I can feel a change a-comin', there's a wave of calm washin' over me
And I can feel a change a-comin', there's of wave of calm washin' over me
-Marcia Hines

That's how I feel this morning as I discovered that marijuana law reform was approved in several state elections, from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Read the results here at NORML's blog.
State by state, the will of the people is being expressed. Within five (seven years at the outside), I believe the law of the land concerning marijuana will be reformed. At the least, it will be decriminalized. At best, it will be legalized, become a viable cash crop, subject to health regulations and taxation. It's high time America took control of marijuana production, sale and use, removing it from the hands of illegal dealers, and into the sphere of legal, profitable, taxable use of industrial materials, recreational and medicinal substances.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Salvage and Critters

I'm a salvager. I mean I keep junk and try to find ways to use it. A lot of this junk ends up in the private part of my garden, where I reserve the right to do ANYthing that pleases me, no matter how "junky" it might look to anyone else. For example, I kept the rubber float from a broken toilet, because it looked cool. You know the thing I mean? The black, oblong ball inside the tank. The float had its rod intact, and I saved it that way for some seven years or so, along with all my other junk. Then last year, I was scrounging through my collected "treasures," searching for a "finial" for a hose guide--a section of pipe--I had just pounded into a corner of a garden path. Without finials, I have learned to great detriment, I'm liable to poke my eye on plant supports, hose guides, etc. when I'm bending to work. I spotted the toilet float, rod intact. Neat as a pin, the rod slipped down into the pipe section, and the black float rested on top--Perfect Finial!

Religiously, I keep old sections of carpet, car mats, discarded blankets, shower curtains and the like.* The shower curtains are invariably used as tarps or--here's a great tip--placed under the car in a garage to catch drips. Now, a lot of carpets have a plastic backing or some non-biodegradable material--car mats, especially. These are perfect for laying out in my garden in small places that I can't reach to weed or for covering over the connections of my garden hoses to protect them from weather. Aesthetically, it's awful when I first lay them down, but a light cover of leaves, straw or wood chip, and you don't even know they're there. Yet, not a weed all summer! The tougher materials last year after year. I have a square of blue, outdoor carpet about a yard long each way that I've used for many years, and it shows no sign of wearing out.

Saturday, I was doing some autumn cleaning in the garden, pulling out cleome stalks--Ow, the thorns!--taking down tomato cages and putting them away, sweeping fallen leaves from the paths and dumping them in the beds, etc. One of the chores was to take up this blue square of carpet. When I did, the soil below burst into activity. Underneath the carpet, secure all summer, a family of rodents--voles, I think--had built a maze of tunnels. I counted about five, but there may have been more...they were scurrying in panic, so hard to tell. I ran for my camera, figuring I wouldn't get back in time before they disappeared and figuring they would be too fast for me to shoot.

No one will ever accuse me of being a wildlife photographer, but here's one shot I managed to get off.

*Some of these products contain materials a gardener wouldn't want in their soil. I know some people won't lay out colored pages of newspapers, because they don't like the inks.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Autumn at Rivergarth

It's been a while since I posted pics from around here. It's as beautiful as ever. Here's from my south deck this morning. The oak tree is turning color, and the maple has shed leaves, carpeting the lawn. Below, there are spots of pansies, beds of flowers I had to fight a battle to have. Most likely this is the last year I argue to put annuals in the yard, just too much hassle and heartache. I'll keep my pretties private next year.

In the second picture, my quince bush went bonkers and bloomed again in time for a gentle, October frost. Last night, apparently, a spider was taking advantage of the last days of warm weather.