Sunday, May 30, 2004

The Conversation Police

Perhaps I should have written this while the indignation was still running hot in my veins. I’m not sure I can do the story justice now, several hours after the fact.

A friend of mine visited today—enduring the 2 ½-hour drive to come up to visit for the afternoon. We decided to go to a local "watering hole" for lunch. It’s a cute little brew-pub in a picturesque setting on one of the scenic winding roads through the hills that separate Scappoose from a more populous part of the Portland metro area. The Rock Creek Tavern. Notice and remember the word "tavern." It is important.

Jackie and I don’t get to see each other more than three or four times a year. We are both intelligent, relatively well-educated women (she more so than I). When we get together, the three of us (including my husband in this triumvirate) hold relatively lively historical and political discussions. We share the same political outlook, for the most part, so these mostly consist of analyzing what’s going on in the country today, looking at events from the historical perspective, and wondering why people in the country and/or current administration are so clueless.

We are seated at a table at this little brew-pub. We order our meals, and sit back to enjoy our conversation. About ten minutes into our meal, a young couple, probably late twenties, comes in with their two little boys—one about three years old, and the other more or less a babe in arms…maybe eighteen months.  With a choice of just about every other table in the two-story restaurant, they choose the one right next to us. Serendipitously, my seat at our table provides a full view the Perfect Family settling in for their afternoon meal. Shortly after sitting down and ordering, the 3-year-old proceeds to dump his entire glass of milk on the floor. Little mom musically intones "Uh-oh!", chases the glass across the floor, and motions for the waitress, who has to come and mop up the mess. Five minutes later, we hear *clink * "Uh-oh" again, and Mom and waitress are mopping up another mess. I am casually observing these episodes, while engaging in the lively conversation going on at our table…and thinking how glad I am I don’t have little kids, and how I would not be taking them out to lunch at a sit-down restaurant if I did.

The spill-a-thon seemed to come to an end, and I became completely absorbed in the talk at our table. Pretty much forgot about Perfect Family. All of a sudden, Little Perfectly-Coifed Female is standing at our table, and in her best "Concerned Mama" voice, says: "Excuse me, we’re sitting over here at the next table, and we have our two little boys with us. We noticed you are using quite a few naughty words that we really don’t want our boys to hear. I wonder if you could please be a little more careful about what you say… Thank you!" And she takes her little pink-twin-setted self back to her table and sits down.

My husband, after muttering an apologetic, "Oh, okay…" to this unbelievably nervy woman, just keeps talking…he would have been happy to alter his conversational style for her. That’s the way he is. My girlfriend doesn’t really swear, so I’m sure the request was not actually aimed at her (not to mention that she’s just nicer than I am…) But I…I am absolutely incensed. Jackie and Matt keep talking, and I just sit there with my mouth open. "I cannot BELIEVE that woman just came over here and said that to us!"

The more I thought about it, the madder I got. I tried to refocus my attention on whatever topic we were discussing, but I was completely derailed! I kept saying to my dining companions, "Can you believe her? I can’t believe her! Who does she think she is????" Finally—I just can't stop myself. I get up and go over to her table (my husband does not try to physically restrain me, but he is looking to crawl under the table to shelter from the approaching cyclone). And in my sweetest, "Concerned Mama" voice, I say, "Excuse me, but I really can’t believe that you just came over to our table and said that. If you want to hear only G-rated conversation, you need to either stay home or go to McDonald’s or something… You just really irritated me." I guess this was not the most articulate thing to say, but I was still suffering from extreme shock at this babe’s demonstration of sweet, smiling brass cajones. And I turned around and plunked my ass back down at my own table.

Now, many of you out there in J-Land are "Concerned Mamas." But I can’t believe any of you would take your children tolunch at a tavern, and then proceed to lecture the other patrons on the choice of language used in their private conversations. Did I overreact? Did I underreact? Can YOU believe the nerve of this babe? Has anyone else ever been accosted by "Super-mom" at a restaurant? Let me hear from the Journal Community.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Backyard Buzzies

Here's a "buzz" bird visiting one of the feeders by my deck.  I wish my digital had a fast enough shutter speed to stop her wings... 

I have at least four of these little guys divebombing all over the back yard these days.  Hummingbirds are VERY least, these are.  You'll never see more than one eating from a feeder at once...I don't know why they even make hummingbird feeders with multiple feeding stations. 

The females and young birds come all day.  The little male visits in the evening...they will feed until it's almost dark.  HE spends more time chasing everyone else away from the feeder than he does actually eating.  They are a hoot to watch...chittering away at each other, and indulging in some really spectacular airborne acrobatics.  At times, I have to duck to keep them from flying in one of my ears and out the other (at least it feels that way!)  And they are not particularly shy.  To get these pictures, I just stood really still until they figured I wasn't a threat, then they came down and completely ignored me.  Makes me feel like St. Francis of Assisi.  

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Next on the Agenda


Whew!  I'm still not completely recovered from the family visit.  What an old fart I am (LOL!)  All that running around for the weeks beforehand...and then the four days of intensive entertaining.  The last few days, I've really felt sort of at loose ends.  I'm inclined to enjoy the rest of this week as my "vacation," since this is the last few days of the "Month With No Work."  But I have a lot of things to iron out for the business. 

Part of what's holding me back is the fact that I need to send out checks for some licenses and things, and the bank account is a little anemic.  Unfortuately, that situation isn't going to change, at least not until after our first event in June (I HOPE), so NOT sending out the checks isn't really doing me any good (Does that make any sense?)  Guess I'll just have to tap into the savings account.  Ugh!  I HATE doing that!

It has finally decided to start raining.  The weatherman has been threatening rain for the last three weeks, and it has done little more than be dark and cloudy, and piss lightly (whenever we wanted to do anything outside.)  But the last two days it has been raining in earnest.  Good for the new grass (which was starting to resemble a Brillo pad), but hardly motivational for ME.  Rainy days make me just want to sit around and mope; or curl up with a good book and eat (and I'm not EVEN going to go THERE.)  So I basically have to kick myself in the ass to get anything done.  Guess I'll go downstairs and get another cup of coffee, and see if that will get my butt moving any faster.  I'm on half-caf these days...not completely off the "no-caffeine" wagon, but sort of being dragged behind it a little bit!

On the docket for today is product development.  (It was on yesterday's docket, too, but I blew it off and went shopping instead!)  I am going to develop my Napoleon recipe...really a must, since I'm planning on serving them at the event we're doing in a week and a half!  I just can't get anything done unless I'm faced with a dire deadline.  Last-minute Lisa---that's me.  Wish me luck.  I'll post pictures if I come up with something halfway decent.  I'd hand out samples, but...well, that would be a little tough, wouldn't it?


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Husband's family exited town yesterday at noon. We spent the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing.  We did manage to squeeze in a two-hour nap...

I think the visit was a success.  A decent time was had by all.  But we do not entertain that often, so even a casual lunch or dinner with friends is a little stressful.  Imagine spending an entire 96 hours with another couple.  I am amazed at how hard that was!  We had planned a few activities, but the weather hardly cooperated.  For all that I spent several days working on the back yard and the deck, it was never really nice enough outside to sit out there and enjoy it.  Our trip to the Rose Garden was somewhat spoiled by cool, damp weather.  And one entire day of our weekend at the beach was rained out.  Luckily, Sunday's weather was pleasant, and we got to show our out-of-town guests a little of how beautiful our home state is!

Now, I can enjoy the clean house and fixed-up yard for a couple of weeks before I start my season.  For as long as it stays that way.  Yesterday morning I was greeted by a beautiful pile of cat barf in the middle of the stairs that I had spent two hours scrubbing on my hands and knees last week.  And the dog is kind of on the s**t list, too.  She spent the whole four days of our guests' visit cowering in fear of my husband's brother.  (This is a guy who loves dogs...he and his wife were missing their own dog so much that she was making regular calls home to check up on him, and was practically in tears when she heard he had not eaten his dinner!)  So, the animals put on their own little show for the house guests!  *Sigh!*

Well, I guess I have to rouse myself now, get out of bed and get on to my day.  My product research still needs to be done, and I have to send out applications for temporary restaurant licenses to several county health departments.  And all I really want to do is sit here and do NOTHING, enjoying the quiet.  Oh, well, at the very least, I have to go outside and water the new grass.      

Monday, May 24, 2004

The Fiddle and the Drum

I recently dug out some CD's of some REALLY old listen to while I was furiously cleaning house in preparation for my out-of-town guests.  I came across the album "Clouds" by Joni Mitchell.  Recorded in 1969.  By a Canadian singer/songwriter.  The following is the text of a song called "The Fiddle and the Drum."  Remeber, this was written and recorded in 1969.  Viet Nam War era.  Thirty-five years ago.  How true is it to how our "allies" in the world feel about us now, in 2004, in the middle of this Iraq Debacle?

"And so once again

My dear Johnny, my dear friend

And so once again your are fightin' us all

And when I ask you why

You raise your sticks and cry, and I fall

Oh, my friend

How did you come

To trade the fiddle for the drum?


You say I have turned

Like the enemies you've earned

But I can remember

All the good things you are

And so I ask you please

Can I help you find the peace and the star

Oh, my friend

What time is this

To trade the handshake for the fist?


And so once again

Oh, America my friend

And so once again

you are fighting us all

And when we ask you why

You raise your sticks and cry and we fall

Oh, my friend

How did you come

To trade the fiddle for the drum?


You say we have turned

Like the enemeies you've earned

But we can remember

All the good things you are

 And so we ask you please

Can we help you find the peace and the star

Oh, my friend

We have all come

To fear the beating of your drum.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Entertaining the Relatives

Just a quick scribble here to let you all know I'm still alive.  Have the husband's relatives in from Chicago.  We treated them to a trip to the Rose Garden today...Portland has one of the premier rose gardens in the country.  I WON'T grow roses in my yard, but I really enjoy looking at ones that someone else has to take care of.  So, here are some of what we looked at.  Should have recorded the names, but I didn't....

It was a lousy, cloudy, cool day...but at least it wasn't pouring rain.  And the flowers were gorgeous. 

Monday, May 17, 2004

Trouble in Paradise

Had to spoil a perfectly good weekend by having a fight with the husband last night. All is still not well in our little world. We kept to his schedule of "weekly talks" for awhile, and then we started to blow them off. We would sit down for our talk, and just look at each other and go, "Um…" I guess we thought we were "cured."

Found out rather rudely over the weekend that the lines of communication are NOT open. We tried to collaborate on a couple of household projects---always a dangerous undertaking. I wanted to set up some planter boxes for a salad garden, outside the back door. His first input was, "Let’s draw up a plan." I, on the other hand, have lived with him long enough to know that, "Let’s draw up a plan" generally means "This is not going to get done this century." Over the years, I’ve learned that a project does not get started in our home unless we jump into it impulsively. If we think about it too much (i.e. –"Draw up a plan") we start realizing how much work it’s ultimately going to be, and we scrap it. So I said, "Just go pick up a bunch of wood. If we need more, we’ll go get some more." We have built planter boxes like this before…it’s not like I was throwing us headlong into a project we had no idea how to complete (though I have had to do that in the past.) I didn’t realize that my simplistic approach had poisoned the project for him almost beyond tolerance.

To make a long story short, we each had a plan in our mind for how these things were going to be designed, which we failed to communicate to the other party. When I walked out on the deck and found him doing something that was completely opposite of what I wanted done, I (stupidly, I guess) stopped him and told him so. He seemed to take this calmly at the time, shifted gears, and made the changes I wanted. Later in the evening, while he was cleaning out the garage, he called me out there because he SAID he wanted my input on something. When I interrupted him with a comment, he got pissy. I was like, "If you already had a plan, and you didn’t want my input, why did you call me out here?" And I walked away. Saying something about needing to have a talk about his passive aggressive attitude.

At any rate, later that evening, we sat down to have this "talk," instigated by me.  (Note to Self:  Do not open a bottle of cheap champagne prior to fighting with husband.  He doesn't drink, and the empty bottle is now sitting out on the curb.  And I have a headache.)  We started out slogging through the "garage" argument, but ended up arguing about the stinkin’ planter boxes. Lots of resentment was sloshing around behind that calm, "husband-on-a-project" demeanor. Lots of intimating that I am a shrew because I don’t make a plan, then I have the audacity to correct him when he’s not going in the direction I was assuming he was going to go. Lots of that same old, "I can never do anything right for you" crap that I am sick to death of hearing after 28 years. And THEN it got worse. I can always tell we are having a serious argument when it degrades to a discussion about our sex life. It seems to be the font from which all other marital arguments arise. And that’s as much as I’m going to say on THAT subject.

It will be interesting, anyway, to see if we are on speaking terms when he gets home.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

If I Had to Pick a Favorite

I have been going on about the garden lately.  I'm really immersed in it...trying to get things in order in what seems like way too short a time.  But, of course, I had to take a time out and snap some pictures yesterday. 
I have several types of plants that I  As far as annuals go, I adore begonias of all kinds, the more unusual the better.  The same with geraniums (pelargoniums, actually...)  I comb the greenhouses for unusual fancy and/or scented varieties.  I always have at least four hanging geranium baskets. My yard is lousy with pelargoniums and begonias...but, if I had to pick  favorite annual, it would be these--Fuchsias.  There's just something about the delicate elegance of the flowers, the generous nature of the plants, the way they lend exotic beauty to the shady areas of the garden.  I grow tender fuchsias in pots...haul them into the greenhouse in the fall, and pray they survive until the next spring.  I've planted hardy fuchsias right in the ground...(well, not in THIS ground), and thrilled to the green shoots coming up from the roots at the end of a hard winter.  Or watched them bloom well into November during a mild one.
 It's funny...I never liked growing roses, because they take so much painstaking care...I just didn't have the patience.  But fuchsias...They are the first plant I ever tackled that was the least bit persnickety.  You have to baby them some, but they reward your efforts with a continuous show of blooms that you never tire of gazing at.  Roses don't do it for me, but... ah, how do you explain love?   It's pure illogical emotion! 

Friday, May 14, 2004

This is What it Looks Like

Who wants to see a picture?  Okay, okay, don't everyone raise your hands all at once.  This is part of what I've been working my little fingers to the bone to create:

Imagine a very tall, very blank face of a two story house, containing only one window (which belongs to the laundry room, of all places.)  The kind of architectural lack of detail that only a tract house can provide.  Then recall all I have been writing about the total intractability of the "soil" (and I use the term loosely) on my property.  The previous owners created the large expanses of gravel paths as their contribution to the solution.  Can't plant anything in the ground; but, left to its own devices, it does grow an amazing variety of native plantlife (read weeds).  So dig it out and cover it with gravel in a more or less eye-pleasing way.  It works.  And you don't have to mow it.

But there was still a complete lack of anything resembling a tree in the yard when we moved in, four years after the house was built.  And after we planted our first tree, we understood why.  So, this bed on the north side of the house is my solution, or the beginnings of it, anyway.  My "travelling acers" (the Japanese maples that lived in five-gallon buckets for several years in several back yards) received permanent homes in raised planter boxes that we built with our own little hands.  Mr. Husband built the arbor, at my request.  Did a damn fine job, if I may say so.  Some day, we plan on actually installing a French door to the dining room under the arbor.  (Don't know how hard this will be with the arbor already in place...) 

Every year, I've been adding a few more plants and/or trees to the space.  This year, I added a bunch of heucheras (coral bells) and some astilbes.  Also another little acer in the box to the right of the arbor.  The table and chairs just migrated there from the back a bigger table and four new chairs for the back.

Anyway, in case you wanted to know what I've been griping about, here is some of the fruit of my labor.

Speed Gardening

It WAS my habit to start working in the yard and garden in May, and treat it as a "work in progress" all the way through October.  I used to take the whole summer buying plants, developing little garden rooms and futzing with them, doing major fix-up work on the hardscape, (like painting the deck or the fencing.)  I LOVE spending hours, even days out in the garden, totally neglecting my housework and everything else.  Enjoying just being outside.  Getting to know my resident wildlife, and having them get to know me.  It's what I DO in the summer. 

That is, before I acquired a business that takes me away from home (and yard) through most of the season.  I have been doing "speed gardening" for the past two weeks. I have to get it DONE done in one month, along with all the other things I have to accomplish this month, while I still have some time.  (These include preparing my home for a visit from out-of-state family, chasing after financing for school, and doing some product research for the business, including actually developing products that I have already put on my menu for the season!)  I had to plan all my garden areas, and go out and get the stuff to fill them up NOW, or else it won't get done.  By the end of the month, it all has to be in place, the drip irrigation system will  be assembled, and it pretty much has to look after itself until the middle of September.  

You know...I love having my own business.  There are so many things about it that WORK for me.  But this is one of the things that sucks about it.  I can't let gardening be the season-long labor of love that I want it to be.  And doing anything to this cursed property takes so much time, that I don't feel like I get anything accomplished.  I have enough time to try to sort out everything that has deteriorated from last year, and I don't get to try anything new or exciting.  It's not like I can just go dig a hole and plop new plants in the ground.  I have to hack out a way over-sized hole with my...well, what do you actually call that tool?  A Japanese hacker?  Anyway, I have to scrape out a ton of the nasty clay that is heavily impregnated with gravel, amend it with something that more closely resembles a growth medium, pat it lovingly back around the plant, and hope to God it will grow.  (And at least 30% of the time, it DOESN'T.)  Last night, it took me two hours to put six plants in the ground.  Not trees or bushes, just perennials out of six-inch pots.  Ugh!

I guess I have to admit, progress is being made.  At least it doesn't look like an abandoned rental anymore.  Well, NOT... it sort of still does.  The landscaper came by last weekend and sprayed the lawn with agent orange (or whatever they use to kill it with), in preparation for the new sod we're supposed to be getting.  So I'm guessing the neighbors still are not too happy with me.  The girl down the street stopped out front and asked, "So what are you going to plant?"  I said, "Grass..."  She looked at me like I was crazy...probably thinking, "Well, you really haven't proven you can take care of grass..."  Another neighbor said to us this evening, "Your trees looked so pretty when they were blooming..."  I could almost hear, "But why does the rest of your yard look like it was stuck by a bomb?" 

Oh, well, tomorrow is supposed to be the last nice day before a crappy weekend.  I have to hit the caffeine early, put myself on "fast forward," and see how much more I can get accomplished before the weather hits.             

Monday, May 10, 2004

Post Turtle

I have to thank my sister-in-law for the following anecdote.  I rarely like forwarded emails, but this one I not only LOVED, but I sent on to all my "bleeding heart liberal" friends and family:

Post Turtle

While suturing a laceration on the hand of a 75-year-old Texas rancher
(whose hand had caught in a gate while working cattle), a doctor and the
old man were talking about George W. Bush being in the White House. The
old Texan said, "Well, ya know, Bush is a 'post turtle'." Not knowing
what the old man meant, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was. The
old man said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come
across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post
The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to
explain, "You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong
there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, and you just want
to help the poor stupid b*****d get down."



Sunday, May 9, 2004

Look!  I figured out how to post pictures that are a reasonable size!  But they still get somewhat distorted....  I'll have to work on it some more.

These are orange azaleas from my sister's front yard in Eugene.  We had to do the "Mom duty" this weekend and travel down to "Used Jeans" for a Mother's Day visit.  Spent most of the time shopping with my mother and/or sisters.  On Saturday, we did the big "plant shopping" excursion.  I had several favorite garden shops/greenhouses that I frequented when I lived down there, and I haven't found good ones up in this neck of the woods yet.  So I look forward to going to my old haunts down south and hauling the plants all the way back home.  Unfortunately, yesterday's weather was not very conducive to this activity....these little storms kept blowing through, dropping buckets of rain on us, and then moving on and leaving us soggy but sunny.  Very MUCH "spring in Oregon" weather.  But my 82-year-old mother isn't much up to dodging raindrops between the car and the store (in her wheelchair), so we didn't go to nearly as many places as I was hoping.  Oh, well, I'm about out of plant-buying funds anyway.  Did manage to buy a nice planter with geraniums, hardy fuchsias, and some other goodies in it for the Mom.  What else do you buy for the woman who has everything and nowhere to put it?

Today, we did Wal-Mart, Bi-Mart, and Goodwill.  I needed to go to Goodwill, because I have like one pair of pants left in my closet that still fits me.  I picked up three pairs of pants for $13.  Beats paying $50 for ONE pair, which is what you'd pay at the Gap.  When you need to restock your closet after losing a lot of weight, resale shops are definitely the way to go.  My other favorite clothing haunt is Nordstrom Rack...where, two weeks ago, I paid $12.99 for the exact same jeans I saw on sale at Meier & Frank yesterday for $35.  I like clothes...but I am cheap!

Well, that's the story of MY weeknd.  Woo-hoo!  I know in most parts of the country, Mother's Day is already over...but I'd like to wish a Happy Day to some of my special J-land friends whoare also Mothers--- Cynthia, Kat, Marcy, Mary, Donna, Karen, Lisa, Kristi---and anyone else I may have forgotten to mention.  You ladies have given me an insight into motherhood that I never had before.  I want you to know that, through all your trials and tribulations with your various broods, I am rooting for you!  Hope you were all wined, dined, pampered and petted on your special day.   

Friday, May 7, 2004


Wow...if you want to stop people from leaving comments in your journal, write something political! LOL!  It just goes to show that the people of the journal communtiy are not without manners...Mom always said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!  I know you all probably don't agree with my political views, and it was nice of you NOT to write ugly comments or call me an idiot.  Anyway, I have that out of my system for a while, and I will come down off my soapbox now!

I only have time for a quick entry...gave myself 22 minutes to read new entries and write something myself this morning, and I only have 10 minutes left.  Here's an odd story about something that happened to us as we were driving up the highway to St. Helens.

We were going along, minding our own business, when suddenly, "Whap! Whap! What-whap-whap-whap-splat-splat-splat!"  These huge drops of...something...were spattered all over the windshield.  At first, we thought we had driven into a squall.  It had been raining on and off all day...but there were no clouds above us at the moment.  Then we realized that the fifty or more splatters of clear liquid on the windshild were...bug guts!  We looked at each other..."What the hell was THAT???"

I leaned forward to peer at the dozen or so carcasses that were trapped under the windshield wiper.  Bees!  We had driven through a swarm of sixty miles an hour.  Ewwww!! 

AND we got to see the world through fifty-odd splashes of honeybee guts until we got home and hosed off the truck, because the windshield washer feature is one of the many systems that has gone by the wayside on our 22-year-old pick-up truck.  I gotta say, this experience was a first!

On that note, I wish you all a happy, bee-gut free weekend.

BTW, I have to mention that, this week, I received a solicitation from the AOL Editors for their whole "top five journal" thing.  I swear, this just confirms my suspicion that they DO NOT read the journals that they solicit.  If ONE "masked obscenity" was enough to rate the much bally-hooed disqualification of a journal a few weeks back, then the editors (if they actually READ the journals) would not touch MY journal with a ten-foot pole (LOL!)  I personally think they just pick names out of a hat or something...  :-]

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Political Rant

Can things get any worse in Iraq?  On second thought, I don't want to ask that question.  Because they can and they probably will. 

The whole tenor of this war has been ugly from the beginning.  We have a president who was determined to invade Iraq almost from the moment he took office.  I don't pretend to understand why, but I suspect it had more to do with a certain natural resource with which Iraq is richly endowed, than with George II's desire to finish up where his father left off.  As I heard many times before the invasion, "When they say, 'It's not about the oil', you can be sure it's about the oil."

September 11th, as ghastly and horrible as it was, played perfectly into Bush's hand.  He carried out his plan to invade Iraq, borne on the tide of bloodlust of the American people.  It didn't matter to most Americans that Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks...they just wanted to go kick some Middle Eastern butt.  A Moslem is a Moslem...doesn't matter what country he's in.  Americans were willing to swallow Bush's lame WMD excuse--to which he turned only because exhaustive investigation failed to turn up any connection between the Saddam Hussein regime and Al Quaeda--because they wanted revenge.  On somebody.  Anybody.  Let's show the world that you can't mess around with the United States of America!

Let's face it...many Americans have been absolutely lost since the end of the cold war.  They HAVE to have someone to hate.  Didn't you notice how racism seemed to gain momentum in the early part of the last decade, after the fall of the Berlin Wall?  People didn't have the Commies to kick around anymore, so they had to look elsewhere for the insidious "enemy within."  They NEEDED someone to hate!  Someone whose throats they could stand on, beat their chests and say, "I'm better than YOU!!!"  We witnessed the proliferation of Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, The Klan, and Conservative talks shows that condemned affirmative action as racism against whites.

And then, Al Quaeda stepped up to the plate, and handed these idiots a new race hatred to feed on.  And George W. Bush and his administration scooped up bucket upon bucket of "September 11th Pie," and poured it down their throats until he got what he wanted...public approval of HIS Iraq war.  Right down to the entire United States Congress, who became so afraid of the political liability of NOT backing up the president's call for war, that they voted him carte blanche on the issue of using "military force" in Iraq.  (I listened to those Senate debates, and I was flabbergasted that not a one of those men was brave enough to get up and say, "Mr. President, I have grave misgivings about the reasons behind your desire to invade Iraq.") 

The situation in Iraq has now deteriorated to worse than a horror.  The administration had no idea what they were going to do with Iraq once they had it.  They had no understanding of the region or its people.  Didn't listen to the advice of countries like France and Russia who had been mired in Middle Eastern conflicts in the past, and knew what a bad idea it was to go in at all, much less to go in totally unprepared.  Arab nations, who had always looked askance at the US and our "Western" ways, have REAL reason to hate us now.  We have completely destabilized the region by sticking our noses (guns, bombs, military personnel) in where they did NOT belong.  And this is going to promote the spread of democracy, and reduce the danger of terrorist attacks on American soil how?

Now we have American military personnel torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners.  Why is this such a shock?  What is the noble cause behind this war?  What higher ideals are there to inspire our military to be just and righteous in their dealings with the indigenous people?  This is a war of revenge...of misdirected revenge on a race of people in the wrong country.  Of a super-power nation showcasing its superior military strength by literally squashing a smaller, almost powerless (by comparison) enemy.  Our government has set a terrible example, to its own people and to the world.  And we as a people, in our everyday lives, embrace rudeness (listen to AM radio for fifteen minutes), violence (watch tv or go to a movie), poor sportsmanship (follow our professional sports), and political divisiveness (read the AOL message boards.)  Take rude, violent, angry men, send them across the world and put them among a race of people they think they have reason to hate...what would you expect the result to be?  Can you say, "Let's set our military up to fail?" 

The United States of America is in a precarious position in the world today.  And it was put there solely on the whim of President George W. Bush.  Yes, he needs to be fired in November.  But how many years will it take ANY administration to undo the damage that Bush has done?  I don't know that John Kerry is necessarily the answer.  But even if the only thing he has to recommend him is that he's NOT George Bush...that's enough.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

The Rest of the Story...

I'm putting on my "Paul Harvey" hat here:

For anyone who was wondering whether we were richly rewarded for all the hardships we had endured in our sojourn to the Astoria Crab & Seafood Festival, the answer is "no."  Didn't make any money on this one.  Once again, my purchasing skills (or lack thereof) and my labor budget (or lack thereof) killed me.  The old Cafe de la Rue pocketbook is going to be spitting out a couple of moths before it gets replenished by its next event.  Sigh!  And I never did tell about the Crab Races...

More on the "bad hair" front: Every time I looked in the mirror, and certainly every morning when I tried to style the disaster, I got mad all over again.  So, determined to go in and complain to a manager, I drive over to the salon.  First thing I see through the glass door is Mr. Hair-Assassin, not nearly busy enough to keep him from making immediate eye-contact with me.  Clucking loudly, I turn tail and scamper back to my vehicle.  Just CANNOT have a face-to-face confrontation with this guy.  I get home, and pick up the phone.  Call the salon, speak to a "supervisor."  She seems more sympathetic than I expected her to be.  After listening to my sad story, she asks me if I want a refund on the cut.  I say, "Yes."  Go over there today, and she hands me a twenty dollar bill and a lame apology.  So I only spent seventy dollars on a terrible haircut and non-color.  Guess I know where I won't be going the next time I lose my mind and decide to pay someone to touch my hair.

I MADE GOAL!!!!  Weighed in at 117.8# at WW this evening (my goal was 118#.)  I had just weighed myself at home before the meeting, and it read 119#.  I was certainly not going to tell them there was something wrong with their scale.  Earlier today, I had emailed my sister and told her I was going to have to change my goal weight, since I have been dinking around with the last five pounds for over a month.  But tonight I am victorious!  Everyone join me in a celebratory glass of...whatever it is you drink to celebrate!

And that, my friends, is the rest of the story... 

Sunday, May 2, 2004

The Good Life

Somebody pinch me...I must be dreaming.  Things could not possibly get any better than they are right at this moment.  I am sitting on my back deck (which I spent several hours scrubbing, painting, and arranging over the last three days...)  I am listening to my favorite "space music" (new age instrumental) CD, I am sipping on a glass of (cheap but decent) Chardonnay, and I am clicking away on the keys of my laptop.  My freshly cleaned and filled spa is humming, a dozen feet to my left.  It might even be ready for us to take a soak tonight before bed (much needed after the last 48 hours spent on the afore-mentioned scrubbing, painting, and arranging, not to mention crawling around weeding one of the six garden beds in my yard that was screaming for attention.)  Sometimes, I am very pleased with the current state of technology.  Of course, if the battery on my laptop dies before I am finished with this entry, I will become quickly un-enamored of  that very same technology...

This is my month "off."  For some reason, I was not able to find any events for the business during the month of May.  Which actually is a good thing, because, as I have mentioned, my yard looks like ****, and it's going to take quite a bit of effort to get it up to snuff.  AND once the "meat" of the summer hits, and I am out of town most of the months of June, July and August, there will be no time to address any yard issues.  It needs to be as done as it's gonna get by Memorial Day.

We broke down and called a landscaper this week.  I have to get the "public" areas of the yard looking decent before my neighbors run me out of the 'hood.  We're going to have this nice man lay some sod in the front yard, and in what I call the "cemetery triangle"--the strip between the driveway and the LONG fence that separates us from the "marble orchard" of the Catholic Church next door.  AND he's going to plant a hedge along that fence, to give us a little more (psychological) separation from said cemetery.  It's going to be worth the 2 grand it's going to cost to NOT have to do it ourselves.  Digging in this dirt is an undertaking for only the most intrepid garden engineers.  In other words, we're wimping out.

I am still in charge of the back yard, though, and I am quite proud of what I've accomplished so far.  Last week, I actually sat down and made a list of at least fifty things that I want to get accomplished this month, and we made pretty good headway on that list in the last three days.  I might add, my husband's brother and his wife are coming out from Chicago for a visit later this month (only the second time any of his family have visited in the twenty years we've lived here...), so that's going to mean several INSIDE the house projects need to be accomplished as well.  So much to do, so little time!

But, right now, I'm listening to music, drinking wine, enjoying my deck, and clickety-clacking away.  And loving the heck out of it.