Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Mr. Bush's Energetic Endeavors

"Faced with mounting economic and political concerns over rising gas prices, President Bush is pitching his energy plan."

Oh, please!

Anybody who thinks that the Bush administration has an energy plan that’s designed to do anything besides line the pockets of his energy cronies for as long as possible…well, I have some prime swamp land in Arizona that will be of great interest to you.

Have we all forgotten the energy high jinks that began almost the minute George W. Bush stepped away from the inaugural podium in 2000? The rolling blackouts in California, hatched by the major energy companies, and carried out by honorable sorts who circulated emails about "screwing grandmas," scant months after Bush took office? Gasoline prices attaining immediate volatility, consistently soaring over $2 per gallon during the peak usage months, from Memorial Day through Labor Day?

Let’s take a quick look at that phenomenon. Every year, since Bush ascended to the presidency in 2000, gas prices have begun a meteoric rise in spring, reaching ever-increasing highs by the end of May, only to fall back dramatically in September. Even this year; crude oil prices rose sharply in December, but we didn’t see much increase in pump prices until April. Am I the only person in the country who detects the earmarks of unsavory manipulation in this pattern? Could it be that the powers-that-be understand that people would never stand for consistently inflated gas prices? So they hatch a plan to "make hay while the sun shines," profiteering during the summer months when people are more likely to rack up more driving miles, then scaling back prices during the winter months. Just to confuse things. Just to keep everyone off balance. And, of course, we buy right into this ruse by immediately hopping into our gas guzzling 4 x 4’s and driving all over creation between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But that’s a different rant.

The September 11th terrorist attack, and the ensuing foreign policy implosion, redirected the Bush Administration’s focus…for awhile. They managed to transmute that national tragedy into an excuse to advance their energy agenda on an international scale. Unfortunately, that little escapade has not expediently produced the desired product (a U.S.-friendly democracy in the middle of some of the Middle East’s prime oil fields.) Theaim now seems to be to as quickly as possible wrap up that less-than-successful endeavor, in the form of fast-tracking Iraqi elections and speed-training Iraqi security forces, presumably in preparation to hand them back their country, now that we have devastated it.

Realizing that time is growing short, the administration is now poised to take advantage of the golden opportunity of out-of-control energy prices (and I have a hard time believing those prices have escaped control without some covert assistance)to advance its agenda of returning a thousand-fold the investments that big energy interests made in both of Mr. Bush’s campaigns, by pushing the administration’s "Energy Bill."  

"Mr. President, polls show that the American people are seriously concerned about rising energy costs…particularly the price of gasoline!" "Hmmm…gas prices…energy prices…energy policy… Hey wait! I have an energy policy! That one that Dick Cheney and Ken Lay came up with back in 2001! Let’s shove that back into Congress and tell my fellow Americans that I have a plan to solve all their energy problems." So Mr. Bush is now engaged in appearing, for the sake of the political mileage, to be concerned about how energy prices are affecting John Q. Public. All the while, seizing the opportunity to present his energy industry backers with profits, tax breaks, and favorable rollbacks in environmental standards for decades to come. And let’s not even talk about yesterday’s gratuitous photo op between Mr. Bush and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. How I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at that tea party!

Despite the oily grandstanding of Republican leaders who staged a press conference stumping for the Bush Energy Bill at a local D.C. gas station, directing cameras to zoom in on the price on the pumps, claiming the bill was "about gas prices, gas prices, gas prices," even Mr. Bush is careful to pronounce the caveat that the bill is not designed to provide immediate relief at the gas pumps. Of course it isn’t. We should begin to expect real relief in about…let’s see…three years, eight months, and twenty-four days. That is, if we can manage to elect a president in 2008 who is NOT bankrolled by big energy interests.

The Personality Test

At Meredith’s journal, (Another Country Heard From), I came across this abbreviated version of the Meyers-Briggs personality test as part of her responses to Patrick’s Saturday Six. I haven’t participated in the Saturday Six, though I do enjoy reading others’ answers to the great questions Patrick hatches. And from time to time I will put in my two cents in the comment section of someone who HAS participated. However, I just couldn’t resist this link to the personality test. Had to go there and see what would come of it.

Let me preface my result by saying that these personality tests have always bothered me. Probably because the only place I ever encountered them was at job interviews. I always felt there was something overly invasive about requiring a prospective employee to submit to one of these tests; and that there was something suspect about an employer that would base its hiring decisions on the results. I just felt there was too large a degree of removal from the human aspect of a job interview if one of these tests was put in front of me. And it seemed to me that the results of my "personality test" might cancel out any responses I gave to actual verbal interview questions. So, what was the point?

But, this time, since I was not being forced to submit to the test in an employment situation, my curiosity got the better of me. I thought, "Might as well go and see what all the hoopla is about…"

So, what am I?


Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists -- INFJs gravitate toward such a role -- are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power.

INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. They often are found in the wake of an emergency, rescuing those who are in acute distress. INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless. The concept of 'poetic justice' is appealing to the INFJ.

"There's something rotten in Denmark." Accurately suspicious about others' motives, INFJs are not easily led. These are the people that you can rarely fool any of the time. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends. Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words.

INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication. In addition, nonverbal sensitivity enables the INFJ to know and be known by others intimately.

Writing, counseling, public service and even politics are areas where INFJs frequently find their niche.

This is supposedly a "rare" personality type. Well, I don’t know how rare I am….I do know that I often feel like a square peg.

I have to say, though, that most of the above description is right on. Much of it describes what I am, what I have been my entire life. The part about being suspicious of others’ motives, though…that has definitely been a learned behavior. I used to be the biggest sap in the world. Would believe anything anybody told me, simply because I do not lie, so it’s not in my nature to expect untruth from others. However, I have been healed of that unfortunate foible. Sad. But one must learn from one’s mistakes. Once burned, twice shy; in my case it was more like six or seven times burned. But eventually, I got the picture.

And, in view of the first part of the above description, could I be anything other than a bleeding heart liberal? I guess that certainly put the old dart in the center of the bull’s-eye… I’ll have to grudgingly concede that this particular abbreviated test seems to have produced an accurate result. Still, I wonder what it would mean to a prospective employer. I can’t believe that any kind of an introvert would be a desirable employee…

Monday, April 25, 2005


Is this what it feels like to actually make forward progress? It’s been so long since I’ve had that feeling, I almost didn’t recognize it when it hit me this weekend. I thought it was heartburn…

I very nearly over-prepared for the weekend. Spent a week and a half making lists, checking things off, arranging and rearranging. By the time I rolled out of the driveway on Thursday morning, I was SO ready. And of course, I knew that I would get to Astoria and realize I had forgotten something important. The cash drawer. Brought the money, but not the drawer. Duh! So, I set up my till in a cardboard box. (Only had to make do with that for a couple of hours, until the white knight [husband] arrived Friday evening.)

I didn’t used to be a wimp. I have never been a paragon of aplomb; I mostly got along by faking it. Events of the last decade of my life have worked to erode even that false bravado. As I gather the responsibility for my business up to myself, the resulting feeling of empowerment has been reward enough for facing the crisis of self-confidence that I battle every time I have to sally forth on my own. This surge of competence …it’s not a rush, exactly. More like a growing force; an electrical element lighting, warming, then glowing red as it converts the power that feeds it into heat. I’m too old, too experienced for "rushes." Even this period of rebirth is taking its toll…I’ve slogged through today completely dog tired. The result of the old dog taking on the task of learning new tricks, I suppose. Or relearning old ones.

So it was a good weekend. I sallied forth on my own, stood on my own two feet, with no one behind me to push or catch me, and made it happen. The results were promising. Old customers sought us out and let us know how glad they were to see us return. New devotees were recruited. Contacts were made; business cards changed hands. We saw a substantial sales increase over the same event last year.  I didn’t hurt myself. I didn’t break any equipment.  And we had a good time.

Driving home, I was blasting the Eurythmics Greatest Hits on the CD player. Along came the song, "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves." I suddenly recognized it as my personal anthem. Rock on!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Go Read These...(Please?)

I can't leave town without pimping a few great journal entries.  Wouldn't want you to have nothing to read while I'm gone...

Cynthia (Sorting the Pieces) doesn't post too many political rants, but when she does, they are thoughtful, powerful, and worth reading.  Go read this entry for the one and only time she'll ever agree with Karl Rove.

And then there's Jackie (pixels, Politics, Posies, and Pussycats), my good friend from the "old country," who continues to surprise me with her wisdom and good sense.  I knew there was a reason we've been friends for so long...  Here is her entry about the eroding effect of the "Walmart Credo" on our economy and our national psyche.

Happy reading.  I'll be thinking of y'all as I'm working like a slave this weekend.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sensory Overload

I posted this photo just because it was what I wanted to look at after a day like today.  I only wish I could hear and smell the ocean as well...

Tom DeLay attacks the Supreme Court.  Pope Benedict XVI--God's Rottweiler.  Newt Gingrich positioning himself for a run at the presidency.  Mass murders, car bombs, and kidnappings in Iraq.  Bush's anti-UN nominee for UN ambassador shelved.  TOO much. 

Plus, I spend two hours attending a meeting that I THOUGHT was going to lead to major local contacts for my business.  Instead, it was a thoroughly bureaucratic, committee-speak snooze.  I never imagined an organization that is supposed to be about promoting the community would be so cliqueish, negative, and caught up in red tape. 

What a let down!  Felt like I'd been run over by a truck when I got home.  And then I had to iron and pack for my weekend event in Astoria.  I'll be sallying forth tomorrow morning to attempt the first solo set-up of the booth.  I just hope I don't damage myself or any of the equipment...  I was given some hope, though, when we were out for Chinese last night.  My fortune cookie said something to the effect that I would travel and get a lot of money.  Seemed to bode well for the weekend.  Wish me luck...     

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Highway Haiku

Try propane herring
Then you’ll need the RV dump
For the end result

I'm No Margaret Mitchell

Main Entry: writ·er
Function: noun
: one that writes


Am I the only writer in journal land who does not want to publish a novel? Lately, I’ve taken pains to look at everything I read—magazine articles, blogs, online news snippets, newspaper reports, editorials, non-fiction, even ads—from the critical point of view of another writer. Much as I have always been a writer, I have never done that before. Maybe I’ve never thought of myself as a "writer" before. But I certainly fit the above definition.

In the minds of many, the terms "writer" and "novelist" seem synonymous. The ultimate work of fiction is the designated carrot dangling just beyond the reach of every scribe. The lifetime achievement. The Holy Grail. Fiction writers believe they have a monopoly on the creative aspects of writing. They promote writing as art, with the insinuation that if writers are artists, their masterpieces will be works of glorious, imaginative, flowery prose. Where does that leave the rest of us?

I have no desire to ever write a novel. Does that make me not quite a writer? I have nothing against "creative writing." I love poetry. I use it as my outlet for the purely artistic side of my writer self. But I never had any patience for all the literary machinations that go into writing fiction. I truly believe that one of the reasons I never went to college was that I was afraid I would be subjected to too many classes that consisted of having a gun put to my head to read all the most boring epics in the history of humanity, and then participating in the excruciating process of dissecting every bit of meaning, real or imagined, from these narcotic stories. Faulkner? Snore…Single sentences that filled entire pages. Dickens? He was paid by the word, for God’s sake. Tolstoy? Please! War and Peace?

Now I’ve gone and revealed one of my deepest secrets: I have no literary class. A deadly admission for a writer. I read fiction. But I read it for the stories. For the pure escapism of it. For its ability to immerse me in a persona, place and time that are not me, here, now. Any attempts at formulaic "Meaning of Life" symbolism generally go right over my head. I religiously avoid novels that contrive to teach me something. I really don’t want to have to think that hard about the fiction I read.

Why am I ranting about this? I don’t know. In my wanderings around journal land lately, I have noticed this almost sycophantic reverence for "published" writers. This gets under my skin, for some reason. It must be that little competitive gremlin that resides in me, who pops her head out and snarls from time to time, when I think someone is making a show of being better at something than I am. I’ve visited some of the blogs of our hallowed published writers, and it always seems to me that, as such, they are just a teensy bit smug; and somewhat pedantic in the way they relate to the rest of us. I suppose I just want to be comfortable being an unpublished writer, and I resent those that, by their very presence, suggest that isn’t good enough. I’m sure there are all kinds of convoluted psychological explanations for this. But I won’t bore you with any of my self-psychoanalysis. You’ll find that in my other journal… J

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Nobody Wants My Money

Yesterday, husband and I set off at sparrow fart with the primary mission of scoring some hot buys at a restaurant equipment auction. If you’ve never been to one (and chances are you haven’t) you won’t know that restaurant auctions are an exercise in hurry up and wait. You rush over to the warehouse early enough to go through and review all the items in the auction, and scribble notes on the ones you are interested in. Then you sit (in a warehouse as cold and dark as a mausoleum) and wait until those items came up for bid. This auction featured more than 400 items, started at 10 AM and wound up around 3 PM. At the end of the day, we had one vintage chest freezer to show for five boring, chilly hours. For whatever reason, everything else we bid on shot beyond our pocketbook in a big hurry. At least they fed us…Costco pastries and coffee in the morning, free pizza and sodas mid-day. I’m happy with the purchase we made, but it didn't seem like a lot to show for five hours of freezing and beating the diet to death.

After the auction, we moseyed over to the nearby high class shopping mall. Because I had by God walked out of the house that morning determined to spend some money, and that compulsion had been nowhere near satisfied by our meager success at the auction. My wardrobe is in need of a bit of Spring…I thought I might have some luck at JCP or one of the satellite shops. The first store we hit was Penney’s, and as I broke the plane of the ladies’ department, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. My eyes were assailed by more psychedelic-bright, cheaply made (as in falling apart on the hangers) apparel than I’ve seen since I was thirteen years old, trying to stretch my babysitting bucks at K-Mart. Everything on the racks looked like the flimsiest of lingerie; lingerie created to fit miniscule Asian women, to boot. I am no behemoth, and the few pieces I took to the fitting room made me look like an oversized, flabby matron feverishly attempting to look like my thirteen-year-old daughter. I could only guess what this stuff would look like on a middle-aged woman of average size.

Figuring that JC Penney must have gone over to the dark side, I shook the seawater off my boots as I stepped through the mall entrance. I was on my way to the next major department store, one that has a reputation for being more upscale than Jacques Pennois. To my dismay, I encountered the same loud, cheap, ugly clothes draped over every counter and hanger at Meier & Frank as I had at Penney’s. And, as at JCP, every stitch had a label that proclaimed, "Made in India" or Vietnam, or Indonesia… The loudest, cheapest, and ugliest came from China. To the husband trailing behind me through the aisles, I exclaimed, "I haven’t seen so many cheap, ugly clothes since the sixties."

I practically ran screaming from M & F, heading for a smaller chain store where I have been buying clothes for the last fifteen years. And, of course, I was met with still more of the flimsy, floaty, cheapy lingerie cum daywear that the powers that be have deemed we all WILL wear this season. I turned on my heel and stalked out of yet another shop with husband in tow, shaking my head in disbelief. "Is it me, or does all this stuff really look like underwear???" Even the husband, who enjoys seeing me wear as little as possible, and certainly less than is seemly for a woman my age, agreed it all looked like something more appropriate to some cheap ho on the backstreets of Hong Kong than to middle-class, slightly paunchy American women looking for a little seasonal lift. I pointed into the crowds milling through the mall. "Look," I said. "Do you see anyone walking around actually wearing any of this stuff?" Not even the teens were dressed in the crap that dominated every display window.

And I was really getting angry. Here I was, at an upscale shopping mall, and I couldn’t find a stitch of clothing that was appropriate to my age or my pocketbook. If I had wanted poorly made, smelly, wrinkled clothes that had obviously just been unpacked from a cargo container, I would have gone to Walmart. Unfortunately, it seems all American retailers, even the "classy" ones that presumably do not share Walmart’s exact demographic, have decided to subscribe to Sam Walton’s credo of price over quality. And are flocking offshore to get it.

I am probably crankier than most people about crappy Asian imports, since my husband’s job will most likely become a casualty of "free trade" with Asia. Goods can be got from Asian suppliers for a small fraction of what they cost from domestic sources. That is, if there were any domestic sources left. The textile mills of the southeast have been devastated by the flood of cheap goods from overseas. My husband’s company, which used to be a factory that cut and sewed home fashions (decorative pillows, bedding, and draperies) has, out of necessity, turned into little more than an import house. Dozens of the factory workers have been put out of work. It’s only a matter of time before my husband’s job follows theirs into oblivion.

And I have heard stories that would stand your hair on end, about the condition of some of these imports when they arrive in port. Merchandise that arrives soaked, moldy, and smelling either of fish or diesel fuel from the hold of the ship. Goods so unbelievably and vilely soiled, presumably from slovenly sanitation in the Asian factories, that they had to be dry-cleaned before being bagged and shipped to the customer. And don’t get me started on the broken promises, botched designs, unmatched dye lots, and "cash before production" policy. At one time, I believed that the American work ethic had deteriorated to the point of nonexistence. But hearing some of the stories husband comes home with, I know for certain that American companies would not get away with the crap these Asian exporters are pulling. They are flooded with our business; have more, in fact, than they need or can handle. It doesn’t matter to them if they botch an order or completely screw a customer. If he takes his business elsewhere, there are ten more in line behind him to take his place. Oh, yes…they can get you what you want for that absolutely rock-bottom price. But we American consumers seem to have forgotten that ancient wisdom of "You get what you pay for…."

So the next time you’re about to pick up that $9.00 pair of jeans or that $15.00 bedspread at Walmart, give a little thought to where it came from, where it might have been, and which of your neighbors might not be working anymore so that you can save a few bucks on something that will most likely fall apart in the washing machine.

Questions, Questions, and More Questions


Did I open a can of worms with this interview thing, or what? I have spent many hours of the last three days both answering questions and composing interviews for those that asked me to interview them. That would be Robin, Lisa, Cynthia, Dave, and Gayla. As of this posting, everyone but Gayla has bravely muddled through their questions from the Polish Pundit (well, I’m not really Polish, but my husband is…and "Polish Pundit" has a certain ring to it. Or not.)

I had intended to sneak one or two hideously creative entries in here between the two interviews of me, but I invested so much brainpower into writing questions and answers over the last three days that any previously formulated creative ideas I had were tamped down into the muddy bottom of my brain. Had to get this out before any of the other stuff will have room to float back up to the top.

This interview is from Cynthia. I have been reading "Sorting the Pieces" since, well, since Christ was a corporal. In Cynthia, I found my first soul sister among my online friends. Though we live vastly different lives, and our personalities might be as similar as crawfish and dungeness crab, there is a place inside her that touches what is inside me in a deeply personal way. And she wrote great questions!

Oh...and refer to my previous entry for "the rules..."

  1. We know how muchyou love living in the beautiful state of Oregon. If you had to live somewhere else, where would it be and why there?
  2. My first thought was that I would go back to the old homestead—Illinois. I was born there, and I’ve never quite gotten it out of my blood. I’ve had so much fun the times I’ve gone back to visit. But, that’s the thing. It’s a nice place to visit, but I really wouldn’t want to live there, not anymore. I think about the snow, and the traffic, and the mosquitoes, and the flat, and the sales tax, and I think, "Nah!"

    So I guess I’ll have to cheat and say that if I absolutely couldn’t live in Oregon, I’d have to live in Washington. Along with having similar topography (could I live without the mountains beaming down on me while I’m driving down the I-5 Corridor, or the ocean just a few hours away?), the State of Washington appeals to me politically. After all, it’s the only state whose governor and both US Senators are women. A decent tradeoff for having to put up with a sales tax…


  3. What do you think it will take for the Democrats to effectively mount a successful presidential campaign in 2008?
  4. Let me first say that, though I think she’s a smart politician and has a great deal to offer this country, it wouldn’t be Hillary Rodham Clinton. I’m afraid her husband is still too much of a polarizing figure, and will be an albatross around her neck for some time to come. Plus, I just don’t think the country would be ready make the jump from what amounts to a far right-wing Christian administration, to a government headed by the first woman president. Which is a shame, because I think she’d probably do an amazing job.

    If the Republicans can’t continue to keep the country in a heightened state of fear and paranoia, I think the pendulum will be swinging away from the right anyway. Power has gone to the heads of the GOP majority, and they are starting to take it for granted, and even misuse and abuse it. The American people are not going to put up with that forever.

    Even so, the Democrats have to come up with a decent candidate. John Kerry was not it. He was chosen by party leaders and Democratic voters for the sole reason that they thought his military record could stand up against the (undeserved) reputation of the "War President." While Kerry is a decent senator, he had little else to recommend him. For the last three decades at least, the voting public has demonstrated a deep-seated distrust of people they think of as "Washington insiders." Of the last five presidents,only one—George HW Bush—had held national office before being elected president, and it could be said that he was elected because people were looking for him to simply extend the popular Reagan administration. The last two successful Democratic candidates have been governors of southern states. I suspect we’ll have to come up with another southerner, one who might possibly take a large block of the south back from the Republicans. The South was loyal Democratic territory dating back to the civil war, but it has, over the last few decades, slowly swung over to the Republican party …believing that the GOP better represents their conservative views. So, I’m not really sure if there’s a Democratic southern governor of sufficient charisma and stature to fit the bill. Anyone got any ideas?

  5. What would be your perfect evening out?
  6. First of all, I would have to be able to wear a spectacular outfit that would look sensational on me, make me look ten years younger, and would include incredibly sexy shoes that would not hurt my feet. All right, since we’ve already completely left the realm of the possible… You know the night clubs they show in all those old movies? The ones where there were tables for dining, and a band (like Ricky Ricardo’s) or a floor show (featuring an act that looked amazingly like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), and a huge dance floor where all the patrons could float around in their couture and whisper steamy lines into their partners’ ears? That’s where I want to go. Okay, I’d have to brush up on my ballroom dancing (hey, we took disco lessons back in the seventies, but I’ll admit, I’m a little rusty…) A light meal, just enough champagne, and dance the night away. Wouldn’t that be perfect? Oh…and something chocolate.

  7. Do you think you'll ever try to have your writing published? And why?
  8. I actually did send one story away, once, back when I was still in high school. It was rejected, of course. I suppose it wasn’t even really very good. I have a hard time with the idea of being published. First of all, I have no idea if there’s a market for what I do, and where that market is, if there is one. And, I guess I’m not really sure what it is I do. I write a fairly decent political commentary…but I don’t think the media are exactly out recruiting morepolitical pundits. That market is kind of saturated, if you know what I mean…

    Secondly, I’m not sure I have what it takes to knock on every door, again and again, until I see some piece of mine in print. I’m way too sensitive. At some point, and probably sooner than later, I would become convinced that I’m just not good enough, and give up. And then I would have lost something that is really valuable to me. As long as I don’t have people telling me I’m no good, I can believe I am good. I would hate to think that my self-opinion is that fragile, that it could be destroyed by a little public rejection. But I’m afraid it might be. Which makes me too chicken to put too much effort into getting my work published. But, by golly, I spend so much time writing, and enjoy it so much, I sure wish someone would pay me to do it.


  9. If you could only accomplish one goal in the coming year, what would it be?

If we’re talking about things I wish I could do, but have a snowball’s chance in hell of happening, that would be opening my own restaurant. I have no money, only a vaguely formed concept of what I want it to be, and husband is not yet entirely on the bandwagon. But, still, I can dream…

Something I might actually be capable of accomplishing? I’d like to complete my journey of independence from my family. By the end of 2005 I’d like to feel that I’ve completely moved on and away from the garbage of the past, and that I have finally, for good or ill, made a life for myself and my husband here in Columbia County. And that’s why I need to have that restaurant…

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Lisa Gets The Scoop On Lisa

I came across this "game" at Lisa’s place (Wearin’ My Heart On My Sleeve.) I thought it looked like fun, so I asked Lisa to "Interview Me." I forgot that she is stuck at home recovering from ankle surgery, and has nothing better to do than think up really hard questions. But they’re good ones; I had a lot of fun trying to answer them without writing a tome (brevity has never been my forte…) If anybody else wants to play, we’ll start with the rules. And then my answers to Lisa’s great questions.

So here goes, starting with the rules because every game has got to have them, you know. Leave me a comment saying "interview me." The first five to leave a comment requesting to be participants will be interviewed. I will respond by asking you five questions. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (Write your own questions or borrow some) Fun and easy right?

Q. You’ve mentioned to me that you would love to have your own restaurant. Tell us the details of your dream eatery….the location, decor, and of course, what you’d be serving (sample menu) and what daily role you would take in the business itself.

A. The location would be right here in dear old Scappoose; this is an area that is about to become heavily developed as a bedroom community for people who work in Portland. We are going to need decent places to eat.

I have a couple different concepts in mind, but the most developed one is this: One of Scappoose’s biggest industries used to be Steinfeld’s Pickles, until they were bought out by a huge food conglomerate and closed down. So we have an abandoned pickle packing plant in the middle of town…a great location for something like an antique mall and a quirky family restaurant. I was envisioning the décor to be very old fashioned "general store-ish," with antique tables and chairs and the like. The menu would be gourmet comfort food, like pot roast, garlic mashed potatoes, and home-made apple cobbler. A selection of decent wines and microbrews…probably not a full liquor license (too much hassle!) And an in-house bakery will figure prominently in whatever concept I decide upon, since I’m really more of a baker than a gourmet chef… What role would I take? It would be mine, mine, all mine! I’d wear every hat in the place at one time or another, and it might take an act of God to pry me out of there to go on a vacation.

Q. It’s no secret that you’ve had some issues with your family that sometimes seem insurmountable. What would need to happen with each of you, to put the issues to rest? Could that happen?

I don’t like to look at the conflicts I have with my sisters as something that could be resolved if they changed. The only one I can change, or hope to change, is myself. That said, I think what needs to happen with me is that I just need to get over it and move on. I love my sisters, and we’ll always be close…but I need to bring other experiences and people into my life so I can put the problems we’ve had into perspective. Right now, though it’s been six years since all the conflicts that arose after my dad’s death, there has been so little else in my life since, that the problems still look larger than life. Once I put something of substance, and not just time (which obviously hasn’t worked) between myself and those conflicts, they will scale down to a more manageable size. I can see this happening. I’ve been making a concerted effort to move on since the beginning of this year, and I think I’ve made some progress.

Q. Describe your mother’s personality and what you admire about her the most.

Wow. This is a tough one. My mom’s personality is, in many ways, exactly opposite of mine. She is dependent where I’ve always been fiercely self-reliant. She is a social animal, and I am a loner. She deferred to my dad in every major decision they ever faced in their married life. Boy, is that not me! There are so many things she does that just drive me crazy… If she has a problem with someone, she will make it known to everyone except the person with whom she has the bone to pick. We always laugh among ourselves that Mom’s least favorite daughter is whichever one of us is not in her immediate presence at the time.

But Mom hangs in there. She has experienced so much loss in her life. Everyone in her immediate family died young. My grandmother made the oldest bones of any of Mom’s family, and she was only 63 when she died of cancer. By the time Mom was just a few years older than I am now, she was the last living member of her family. I can’t even imagine how horrible that must have been. And she has since lost a daughter, a granddaughter, and her husband of 54 years. She has the great gift of knowing you have to just continue to put one foot in front of the other, no matter how much pain you have to walk through. That is what I admire about her.

Q. You’ve been given an unlimited budget to create the perfect backyard and garden. Describe it, down to the perfect flowers and plants!

Geez, I could write a bloody book about this! First, I’d empty the entire yard, scrape off the top twelve inches of what passes for "soil" on this property, and throw it far, far away. Then I’d get as many truckloads of wonderful, rich topsoil as it would take to make a three-foot layer of decent growth medium from property line to property line, except for where we would have a nice deck off the family room, and a beautiful flagstone patio outside husband’s dining room door. THEN, I would buy some really big trees (mature trees can be had; they are expensive as hell, but, hey, I have an unlimited budget!) to place along the back fence line to replace the defunct poplar screen that my charming neighbor cut down last fall. I would have a proper brick fence erected between me and my dead neighbors (in the cemetery.) And I would have a real front entry built onto the house, with a covered porch, where right now there is a decaying deck with utterly scary steps leading down to the yard from either side.

The gardens would be planted with an eye toward attracting birds and beasts. With as little lawn as I could possibly get away with. I can’t even begin to list the plants I would use…for the last four years, I’ve had to limit my scope to what the cursed soil of this property could not kill. I love hydrangeas, camellias, flowering dogwoods, rhododendrons and azaleas, Japanese maples, a jillion different varieties of shrubs and trees; baskets and containers filled with begonias, pelargoniums (especially scented ones), fuchsias, sages, and trailing accents like lobelia, bacopa, and ivy. An herb garden, and a small salad garden (if I could figure out how to keep the bugs out of my produce!) Perhaps a fountain or two, but NO crappy artificial ponds.

In short, I would fix the yard so that the things I planted might actually grow, and then just have at it.

Q. Undeniably, you are a very creative person, whether it be in your writing, photography, home decorating or crafts. Tell us how you use your creative talents to make your home decor special.

When I was in high school, I took about as many art classes as I could pack into my schedule and leave enough time slots for the requirements like math, science, and English. I found that I basically sucked at drawing and painting. Luckily, I discovered that drawing ability was not all there was to being an artist. I discovered that I have an innate sense of color, design, and composition that translates into that creativity you alluded to.

I can’t say that, until recently, I’ve really made much use of it in my home décor, however. Creativity costs money, and we haven’t had a great deal of disposable income to spend on transforming the very vanilla personality of this house into something more my style. I did, however, redo my living room, which included re-covering an old sofa, creating "art projects" for the walls (with old photographs, my scanner, and my greeting card program) and refinishing a bunch of old furniture. Managed to make it happen for probably less than $1000 (sounds like a good idea for a television show!) and it turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself. However, I do have kind of a problem picking a theme for my home décor… Living room is a kind of British Raj/modern fusion, dining room is country French goes to the vineyard, family room is rustic/lodgey with Native American accents, and my bedroom is…well, mostly an eclectic mix (read "mish-mosh") of all the furniture that wouldn’t fit anywhere else in the house. If "What Not To Wear" merged with "Trading Spaces" into a show called "How Not to Decorate," they’d probably have a field day with my house!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I'm a Hopeless Pimp...

Once again, my friend Jackie has trumped me on a political rant.  Read what she has to say about Tom DeLay. 

Monday, April 11, 2005

Year of the Eagle

Finished taking all the beach-at-sunset pictures we could manage, husband, dog, and I turned and retraced our footprints back toward camp. A huge dark bird hove into sight ahead of us. The eagle soared right over us, its bright head and tail feathers tea-stained by the failing light. A second bird, the same size and silhouette, but lacking the coloring, soared several yards behind it. And that one was trailed by some yards by another adult bird. An eagle family returning to its evening roost, even as we were heading back to ours?

This year, the year I will be marking the passage of my first half-century on the planet, eagles seem to have become my guardian spirits. Normally I could count an entire year’s eagle sightings on one hand, and half of those I would have to go out looking for. But this year….walking the dog through the neighborhood, driving back from town along the Multnomah Channel, strolling on the beach scanning the sky for seabirds, I have encountered the great birds at least a dozen times just in these first few months of 2005. And not so high above my head that I could barely make out their signature coloring against a bright sky. But close by, just skimming the treetops…or sitting on a branch tossing nervous glances over a feathered shoulder as I stood below and gushed, like the hopeless seventies hippie I am, about its beauty and…major coolness.

It appears that the Great Spirit has chosen to send the escort I could not have hoped to ask for, to guide me into the second half of my life. Some naturalists disparage bald eagles as nothing but thieving fish hawks; Benjamin Franklin thought them so lowly that he preferred exalting the turkey over the bald eagle as the national bird. What do they know? I’ll take John Denver’s opinion over theirs any day. Eagles have always meant wildness and freedom and nature’s majesty to me. I will never cease to feel a thrill of discovery, the sense that I have witnessed something rare and untamed, when I spot an eagle wheeling overhead or sitting sentinel on a towering snag. I don’t know what I’ve done, nor what it means, that I have, at least for the moment, such a noble guide. I’m sure it means something. Something beyond my poor, nearsighted dreams. I’m so looking forward to discovering what that may be.


Sometimes living in Oregon is just...interesting. This morning, I arose to a clear blue sky, sun, a perfect spring morning. Decided that I would chuck my plans of going on a buying trip for the business, and stay home and work in the garden. "Rainy days are indoor work days. Nice days are for yard work," I emailed the DH. So, I jumped in the shower, all prepared to rush outside, grab my tools, and go dig in the dirt.

Of course by the time I got out of the shower, the clouds had blown in from nowhere...and I knew where the day was going. Right now, the rain is pouring down in horizontal sheets, the wind is blowing...and I'm finishing up my shopping list. I don't much like driving or shopping in a deluge, either; but yard work is definitely out of the question.

Here is a picture of where I'd rather be...and what I'd rather the weather was like. Took this on Saturday when we made a spur-of-the-moment camping trip to the beach (because DH HAD TO pull a trailer somewhere with the new truck, or die...) We SO lucked out with the weather...


Just another one of Oregon's endless beaches... 

Thursday, April 7, 2005

Poor Tom DeLay

Today’s quote from Tom DeLay, in reference to the publicity surrounding his myriad "alleged" ethics violations:

"It's nothing but a bunch of leftist organizations that have a public strategy to demonize me..."

This, from a leader of the party whose National Committee publicly declared their intent to "Daschle-ize" new Senate minority leader Harry Reid. You remember how the RNC handled Tom Daschle, don’t you? With a series of well-orchestrated attacks and smears, they mercilessly pummeled him into becoming the first Senate leader in 52 years to lose his reelection bid.

I must admit, I’m a little muddled about the ethics violations of which DeLay is accused. Allegations of gift-taking, influence-buying, sharing a bed with big corporate and foreign interests…while these things are illegal, and should be, they smack to me of political business-as-usual. I remember being a young voter in the state of Illinois, where everyone took it for granted that most of the politicians were corrupt, and it didn’t really matter. Under the assumption that corrupt politics were the only way anything ever got done. The behind the scenes machinations of the Chicago Democrats were given blanket pardon under the slogan that Chicago was "The City That Works."

So I think the powers who are out to "get" Tom DeLay are barking up the wrong tree when they start checking off a list of his political no-nos. The American people are just going to yawn and say, "So what?" It doesn’t matter that the things he does are clearly unethical and clearly against the law. They are clearly boring. They are NOT a nice juicy sex scandal that the public can really sink their teeth into. If it doesn’t constitute hiding under beds and exploiting intimate details of private lives with a hypocritical cry of moral indignation, the electorate is not interested. While the democrats were shouting into the wind about Tom DeLay’s political corruption, DeLay was making political hay by jumping into the middle of the Terry Shiavo battle. Which strategy netted more on-camera time for the cause?

More concerning to me is DeLay’s virtual declaration of war on "an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president." What exactly makes them out of control…the fact that they demonstrated they had not yet been stocked with sufficient Bush Administration appointees to come to heel on a "right to life" case with which Congress and the President had absolutely no business, or legal right, to interfere?  Apparently, the GOP wants the courts completely under their control. Democrats approved over 200 of the administration’s first-term nominees, while blocking only ten of the worst. Why has the blocking of ten judicial nominees by the minority party become such an issue that it has caused unprecedented action by the majority party? A vendetta against the Senate Minority Leader that cost him his job; the majority leader of the House making not-so-veiled threats against the judiciary; and Senate Republicans considering the "nuclear option" of taking away the minority party’s right to exert last-ditch control on a runaway senate with the filibuster.

One has to wonder, to what degree is the Republican Party at large invested in targeting the judicial system for a wholesale takeover by conservative interests? And why? Are we expected to believe that the GOP has become so drunk with power that they would fly into such a large-scale rage at such a small-scale defeat? Some of us may swallow that…but the rest of us are left to wonder what is really at stake here. What is so important about these last ten judicial nominations that the party would go to such lengths to assure their confirmation? And why are the American people NOT asking these questions?

If Tom DeLay goes down, it shouldn’t be for some amorphous political double-dealings for which the general population is too apathetic to hold him accountable. It should be for his "arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable" attitude toward a constitutionally ordained branch of our government, which was created as part of the checks and balances built into our system by our wise founding fathers; not to be at the beck and call of the Executive and Legislative branches, but to serve as a balance against that power, real or assumed. And if DeLay's attitude is shared by the bulk of the Republican party, they should all go down with him.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Bloglines Alert

You may notice that I replaced my coveted journal award graphic with a "subscribe with bloglines" sticker.  It is a hyperlink.  Click on it, and you will be transported to the wonderful world of "Bloglines," where you can create a list of all the blogs you read, and be notified when those blogs are updated.  Rather than relying upon the maddening uncertainty of the AOL Alerts system.  Which, by the way, did not send out an alert for my most recent entry, pulled mere moments ago out of my sleepless brain.  Read the entry, if you've a mind, and then go to "Bloglines."

New Wheels

Good Lord…I’m experiencing one of those times when I’m so tired I can’t sleep. Husband and I decided tonight would be the night to jump back on the water aerobics bandwagon. I haven’t been to the pool in almost a year. I’m here to tell you that, at my age, you don’t just drop an exercise program for eleven months, and try to pick it up again exactly where you left off. I will be lucky if I can hoist myself out of bed at all in the morning. Which I am being called upon to do at 5:00 am tomorrow, as I am slated to drive husband to work, so that I can pick him up from work, so that we can then drive up the gorge and pick up our new (to us) means of transportation.

Oh, boy, a new vehicle! I’d be lying if I said that my dream car is NOT a BMW Z4. Or at the very least, a classic 1955 T-bird…the one with the spare tire stuck on the back of the trunk. The ecology-conscious side of me covets a Toyota Prius. So, what is my "new" ride going to be? A Dodge Ram 3500 dually, with a big, herkin’, noisy diesel engine. Not exactly the car of my dreams…

Before you go getting all green-house gassed at me, let me just remind you that my chosen livelihood demands that I tow a 10,000 lb. trailer up and down the highways and byways of northwest Oregon. Which I have been doing with a one-ton van with a gasoline engine; getting, if I’m lucky, five miles to the gallon. Eleven at the most without the trailer. This sadly plain-looking pick-up truck we are purchasing (it’s white, for God’s sake L ) will get double the gas mileage empty, and at least triple the mileage—18 mpg—towing the trailer. So this is one of those times when the purchase of something that appears to be a gas-guzzling monster, is really the ecologically (and economically, with the price of gas swiftly approaching the per-ounce price of gold) responsible choice.

So, tomorrow evening I will be rumbling home in my new pick-up with the engine that is loud enough….well, I was going to say loud enough to wake the dead, but since my neighbors ARE dead, I won’t go there. No naked lady mud flaps or pissing Calvins for this beast, though. I will make it a point to find two or three examples of vehicular poetry comparable to the "I’m Straight But Not Narrow" and "Regime Change Begins At Home" stickers I have on the van. It amuses me to personalize my ride into cognitive dissonance on wheels. Cruisin’ down the freeway with my liberal bumper stickers and Secret Garden reverberating from my killer sound system… This jalopy just begs to be called "The Hot Flash," doesn’t it?

Monday, April 4, 2005

Hold the Goodbyes

The ranks of old AOL journalers, the ones who have been with it from the early days, are continuing to dwindle. In the last two weeks, two of the very few journals I read were abruptly mothballed by their authors. Many of the most prominent people on the original scene are long gone…moved on…ran out of things to write about…decided they were too invested in journaling and went back to their "real" lives. Played with the toy, tired of it, and tossed it aside.

My own journal experience has been one of ups and downs. The up of realizing that for the first time I was writing stuff that other people were actually going to read. The down of feeling I’d lost my voice in an attempt to lure and/or please those readers. The high of discovering the unimagined benefit of becoming part of a community. The low of realizing that the community was as inconsistent as the ether it was built upon.

But through it all, blogging, journaling, call it what you will, has been a tremendous rebirth for me. It rekindled my ardor for the written word. Though I had never really stopped writing since scribbling my first independent (non-school-assignment) story when I was about thirteen, my writing had degenerated to a form of self-psychiatric-treatment. During the hardest times of my life, writing was simply a form of venting; penning the circular answers to the unanswerable questions with which the act of living had filled my head to the point of bursting. Written by me, for me. Though a spark of desire to once again put the written word back to the work for which it was intended—communication with other human beings outside myself—always remained alive deep inside my soul.

Posting my first several journal entries, the ones that nobody but me ever read, I despaired that I had lost "It." The gift, the zeal, even the language…all buried under decades of selfish, inward prose that did not have meaning to anyone but me. But as I immersed myself in the blogging experience, I swept away those layers of mold, rot, dust, and cobwebs. Reading and thinking about the other voices out there, I rehabilitated my own long-disused tongue. As the weeks and months went by, I polished my skills. Remembered how much I loved to write. Remembered that I actually do have a talent for it. Wondered how I ever could have let myself get so far away from it.

I’m left to believe that we who remain here on the journal scene after the eighteen-month "honeymoon" period, are those of us who, on some level, are serious writers. Some published, some not, some whose writings will never see print beyond the world of the blog. But all of us are people who have something to say and feel most drawn, most fulfilled, putting our thoughts on paper, even if only virtual paper. I don’t see myself giving that up any time soon. And I hope there are at least a few more die-hards out there that are going to stay here with me.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

On Pope John Paul II

Last week, a quiet suburban girl, who without her knowledge or consent, had become a flash point for opposing sides in an epic battle of right-to-life vs. right-to-die, passed from this life. Two days later, a very public figure for whom the moral imperative was always crystal clear—that human life is sacred and must be valued, maintained, and encouraged at any cost—also ended his earthly sojourn. It was an interesting twist of history that these two lives ended in such quick succession.

Far along on the journey down his own final road, Pope John Paul II pronounced his condemnation of the progress of the Shiavo case. Sick, failing, too weak to breathe on his own or consume enough nourishment to keep himself alive, did he take to his bed and attend to the business of his own death? No. He knew that, until he drew his last breath, he was charged with interpreting to his followers, and to the world, what he believed to be the mandate of his God. Not with saying what was politically expedient. Not with framing an opinion that would be most acceptable to the increasingly strident progressives of his flock, or the world at large. Among all the accusing, sanctimonious, condescending, screaming, angry, anguished voices swirling around Terri Shiavo’s drama, John Paul’s was the one with the purest moral intent. Agree or disagree with any stance he took. But it was always consistent, never hypocritical, never formed with the intent to curry favor with any person or faction. Always based on what he held to be the value the Lord Himself put on human life, or the code that he believed God had set forth for human beings to follow.

How many prominent figures in the world today, political or spiritual, could approach his purity of motive and singleness of purpose? How many twentieth century leaders have shown the humble devotion to their followers, the overriding concern for all people, the pure love for humanity that drew the poor and the powerful to sit at his feet? A truly holy man died yesterday. The world was greatly blessed by his life, and is severely diminished by his death.