Thursday, September 29, 2005

santa cruz shore break

we arrived in santa cruz yesterday about noon. after lunch we had an afternoon visit with an old friend and dinner with rd's twin brother and his wife. we had lunch today with mother pirate in capitola. pictured below is the beach of pirate youth. the beach is much the same, but capitola has become tres chi chi and mondo upscale.

i'm posting from the UCSC campus in the office pictured below, which was RD's when she advised students here. note the trees outside where she sometimes saw bobcats.

more pics and stories soon. lots of birds.
ta ta for now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Heading North

We rented a car at John Wayne Airport and sped our way out of Orange County on Tuesday, heading north. It's a route we have driven many, many times. We were very lucky, only hitting about 15 minutes of LA snarling traffic just north of the LA airport. Other than that, we were able to maintain a steady albeit nail-biting, hair-raising speed of 80 mph, just to keep up with the insane flow. Being back on old familiar territory presented a slightly disconcerting sense of "driving home" even though Santa Cruz is no longer home for us.
We planned our favorite stop-- at Shell Beach (just north of Pismo) for lunch. We have always stopped there on our north/south journeys, and this was no exception. One of things we have missed up Washington are the beautiful, soaring pelicans found on the California coast. So, we were hoping to catch a glimpse, if not a photograph of these pteradactyl-like creatures. When we pulled up for our beach picnic along the coast here, this is what we saw.
Looking north at Shell Beach

The rocks are literally covered with pelicans


Pelican affection

Pelican beauty

After this feast of beauty, we climbed back into our car and headed north for the night. Santa Cruz for the next three days.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

On a Southbound Train

Pulling into Tacoma station, full of promise!
The view of the Columbia River from the parlor car.
The Columbia River in all its beauty.
Our train crossing the Willamette River in Portland.
The splendid Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The train heads east to the Cascades, avoids crossing the Siskyou Mountains.
Sunrise in the Sacramento Valley.
Giving the right of way to all freight trains, we are stopped long enough to photograph birds.
We finally make it out of the bay area freight traffic, and head south through the Salinas Valley.
The train breaks down just outside of San Luis Obispo. It loses power and we sit in the dark for a little while and watch the sunset.
Ah, leisure world, to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday.


we have arrived! five, count em, hours late! scheduled for 7:45 pm. arrive at 12:45 am. we are still working out the connection for our trusty macs so i'm using SIL's pc to post this. we have travel stories and pictures on the macs and will post some when we get the dsl connection thing going. we are lacking a password and SIL is still asleep.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


this is a picture of the coast starlight headed north, with klamath lake in the background.

friday am the bums catch the coast starlight headed south at tacoma. we'll be in simi valley saturday evening, to be picked up by RD's sister, in whose house we'll spend the night. sis has dsl. we'll report on our excellent train trip and have some photos. seasoned travelers call this train the coast starlate, so the post may not be up till sunday morn. we are traveling well thanks to our amtrak credit card. no, we didn't charge it. we've been accumulating points for two years, like frequent flier miles, only for train miles. we'll be in our sleeping berths in our bedroom when we pass klamath lake headed south, lulled to sleep by the clickety-clack of the orient express on our way to istanbul........oops, i'm dreaming already.

sunday sis will drive us to laguna hills to her and RD's mom's place where we will celebrate mom's 80th birthday. tuesday we drive a rented car to carmel valley to stay the night with friends. wednesday we go to santa cruz where we'll see my mom, my sis and her hubby, and friends. we'll be staying with RD's twin brother and his wife. more dsl. friday night is bonus night as my daughter from eureka will be in santa cruz and my daughter from san francisco will come down for the night. big family dinner. us, daughters (one with husband, one with friend), mom, sis and her hubby, a nephew and his girlfriend too. maybe the BIL and SIL.

saturday evening we board the coast starlight in san jose for the trip home. we might be having breakfast as we pass klamath lake.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Bums Weigh In On Roe v Wade

Back in July, Salon had an interesting discussion about abortion:
"Meanwhile, commentators are weighing in with their predictions about what a Roe-less U.S. might look like. Cartoonist and commentator Ted Rall writes: 'Now is a superb time to get that abortion you've been putting off.' (In these fractious times, War Room admires a guy who can make a joke about abortion that's actually funny.) 'The world won't end with Roe,' Rall prognosticates. 'Female residents of the blue states and those with carfare will be able to terminate their pregnancies long after the realization of the Bush Right's babes-behind-burqas 'Handmaid's Tale'-style fantasy world. And in the red states? Sympathetic doctors with burdensome mortgages will provide discreet coathanger-free procedures for rich teenagers unable to work a condom-vending machine.'

But a piece in USA Today by Laura Vanderkam suggests that without Roe the U.S. won't really be that much different than it is now. Her argument: the states most likely to actually outlaw abortion, already have remarkably few abortion providers: 'In Mississippi, Kentucky and the Dakotas, 98% of counties have no abortion providers; in Missouri and Nebraska, 97% lack them. In these Roe-unfriendly states, women already have to travel hours to obtain abortions; in a post-Roe world of crossing state lines, that story wouldn't change,' she writes. Oh, great. So, losing Roe won't matter, because in the most conservative places the anti-choice forces have already effectively won.

Not so fast. The Nation's Katha Pollitt, in a piece reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle, takes a dimmer view of a Roe-free future: 'It would be a repeat of 1970-73, when women who could get to New York -- but only they -- could have a safe, legal version of the operation that was killing and maiming their poorer sisters back home. The blatant class and racial unfairness of this disparity, in fact, was one of the arguments that pushed the court to declare abortion a constitutional right. If Roe goes, that same disparity will reappear, relabeled as local democracy.'"
I started to write a post in July about Roe vs. Wade, but I couldn't bring myself to post it. Here is part of it:

In 1969 (before abortion was safe and legal), I had three friends in high school who became pregnant. They each took different routes with their unintended pregnancies. One chose to drop out of high school and have the baby. We understood that she was going to marry the father who was stationed at a nearby military base. I really don't know how it all turned out for her, I never saw her again. One had to go through a lot of back-channels, great secrecy and expense to fly to Puerto Rico for her abortion. One had an abortion arranged by someone-- waited on a street corner in New York city at a designated time, got into a car with people she did not know, was blindfolded and driven somewhere, and had her abortion. She was blindfolded the entire time, and never saw her doctor.

Since Roe vs. Wade, we have not had to hear any tales like these. There are already one or two generations of women who do not know the terror and horror of being told she is pregnant with no safe and legal recourse.

What is the intention of the conservative agenda? Is it really to overturn Roe v Wade and then leave the decision to the states? Or is it that the court will overturn the R v W, and then federal law will be passed to outlaw abortion, so no matter what the states do, abortion will be illegal? I don't have the sense that conservatives want to leave it up to the individual, or to the states, and I see abortion going the way of medical marijuana. You can pass all the state referendums you want, the "federalists" have a better idea.

Why is safe and legal abortion so important? Why should the Democrats be steadfast about their support for it? We only have to ask these questions to know how far we have come from the days of coathangers and blindfolds.

Our Plastic Lizard

"We don't care if it rains or blizzards
'Long as we got our plastic lizard
Riding on the dashboard of our car
Through our trials and tribulations
And our travels through the nations
With our plastic lizard we'll go far..."

Pablo of Roundrock reminded us of our own little plastic idol, which we found in a parking lot several months ago. Our lizard sits on our dashboard as a searing testimony to our fervent commitment to the theory of evolution. We protect ourselves as we navigate the streets and highways of our nation by fully being cognizant of our tiny place in the universe at all times.
Our evolutionary idol in its native habitat

Monday, September 19, 2005

When You Love a Dog

My twin brother and our dog Taffy, 1959
When I was growing up we had a sweet cocker spaniel named Taffy. She was a funny girl, the kind who peed on the floor when she was happy, hid from firecrackers on the 4th of July, could eat a whole bowl of leftover spaghetti and tomato sauce, and carefully leave behind every piece of onion no matter how small. She was quite a companion when we romped in the winter snows, which she seemed to love. We had her for 15 years, from the time I was two until I was 17. That year, Taffy went into serious decline. She could hardly walk and became so feeble that we had to carry her outside so that she could go to the bathroom. On the last night of her life, she was downstairs in the guest bedroom. We each took turns checking in on her and saying our heartfelt farewells, petting her golden hair, and hugging her. She could only look up at us with those sad brown eyes. By morning, she was gone.
In all the years since then I have never really had a dog for any length of time, and certainly never long enough to let my heart be broken by their comings and goings. This is not true of my sister. She's had dogs ever since she moved out of our parents' home. She is particularly fond of Great Danes, and has had many in past thirty years: Sagus, Sam, Pepper (who she saved with an experimental doggie pacemaker), Harley, and Sadie. My sister simply loves dogs, and though she may not raise the most obedient, she does raise the most lovable. And in that, Sadie has been the sweetest. She's 180 pounds of lean-on-you, kiss-your-face doggie love. A playful, sweet-natured spirit wrapped up in a dog that can look in you square in the eyes when you're sitting at the kitchen table. And despite her fabulous size, she let a lightweight kitty cat named Snowflake absolutely boss her around. Always the best part of Sadie's charm; she has no concept of her size. She's got a lapdog soul in the body of a beast!
Today my sister received the news that her 11 year old Sadie has an inoperable tumor on her leg which has been causing her to fall down these past few days. The vet is recommending that Sadie be put to sleep. She's lived longer than most Great Danes, and really, her life has been good, but now she is suffering. It's one of those decisions we humans get to make about the animals we let into our homes and hearts. Can you love something enough to help it die? It's one of the reasons I will never get a dog, and won't get another cat after Bonsai. I'm going to stick with the birds we feed outside. They don't have names. They don't come when I call. I won't notice if one disappears. They will never break my heart.
My sister just called. Sadie can't move, so she's going to have her put down tonight. Tears all around.
Sweet dreams to you, Sadie-girl, sweet dreams.

The Birds

you must click on these pictures to really see the action. the yard was a swirl of cedar waxwings and the pond was the center of activity. the blurry blobs are birds. many more are in the shrubs and trees surrounding the pond.

yes. the black plastic is not so visually attractive. i redid the upper pond and waterfall (third time. a charm?) and have not yet arranged rocks to cover the plastic. the waterfall works quite well and there seem to be no leaks. in arranging the previous incarnation i punctured the plastic sliding the heavy flat rock that is the bird bathing place and waterfall. the leaking water softened the ground and allowed the structure to tilt a bit. i had to drain the upper pond, remove all the rocks, and take out the plastic. i patched the holes with wetpatch and let it dry completely.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Carpetbaggers

re (again) con (with) struction (building)

in 2001, in response to an attack on the US, our president called for a crusade against terrorism, the first action of which crusade was to be the invasion and conquering of a country harboring islamic fundamentalists. he fairly well demanded that the world, which was quite sympathetic to the US at the time because of the attack, go along with the crusade. "you're either with us or against us." his use of the word crusade did not go over well with older nations and cultures. there were those unfortunate incidents between 1095 and 1250 wherein christians from europe sought to conquer "the holy lands," which meant the city of jerusalem, which was a part of the arab muslim world at the time. he also said that this new crusade was a war between good and evil, giving the adventure the air of a clash between civilizations, with a large undertone of religious difference. guess who was good and who was evil. without any acknowledgement of a possible gaffe, in the passive mode of much government "reframing," the word crusade was quietly dropped and war was substituted. more lately the war against terrorism was renamed the struggle against something, until someone realized that being a struggle president isn't as catchy as being a war president.

now, in response to a disastrous beginning effort by the homeland security agency to aid those in dire straits due to hurricane katrina, the president proposes a massive reconstruction. an earlier effort by the federal government to rebuild a chunk of the southern states after the civil war is also known as the reconstruction. the latter, earlier reconstruction gave us the term carpetbagger, a pejorative term referring to those who flooded the south looking to scoop up those federal dollars. watch out louisiana, mississippi, and alabama. here come the carpetbaggers again. halliburton is at work already. darkwater too. just to make damn sure we know who is not getting on any government gravy train the president suspended the law requiring prevailing wages be paid for federally funded work, so that the new carpetbaggers can pay local workers scut wages. of course he still wants to lower taxes for the carpetbaggers too.

how will the locals take to reconstruction? what will be the next name of the struggle to reconstruct bush's popularity?

UPDATE: check out these two maps i got from digby, his sept 11 post. the legacy of slavery.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Anniversary of The Worst Day of My Life


This is what the car looked like when it pulled over to pick me up.
Thirty-five years ago on September 17, 1970 at 8:30 in the morning, I stood on the corner of Topanga Canyon and Ventura Blvd. and stuck out my thumb hitching a ride to a job I'd had for less than a week. A 1963 Chevy Impala convertible pulled over to pick me up. Before I even opened the car door I knew it would be a disastrous journey, but I dismissed the intuition and got in anyway. I was wearing blue jeans, a short-sleeved teeshirt, a blue corduroy workshirt over that. I was 18 years old, had been in California less than three months, and was carrying the book The Master Game by Robert DeRopp .
On that day in 1970, the war in VietNam was raging, and I was sincerely grappling with questions about the meaning of life. Somehow those two things led me to The Master Game. The book provided a surprisingly original organizing principle about life, a coherent description of the games that people played. Not psychological games, but the way one lived, focused, and directed his or her life. A description I found online said:

We all ask, at one time or another, "What do I want to do with my life?"
On the one hand, we all want to do something that matters in some way, that makes a difference, that is meaningful, that is fulfilling. Something that's worthwhile, something real.
On the other hand, when we phrase the question "what do I want to do with my life?" - and sit with it - it often seems like such a huge, vague, looming, slippery, cloud of fog, like trying to catch a cloud in a milk carton - a frustrating experience.
But one chap, Robert S De Ropp, has offered a few pointers, which might help us get a more sturdy handle on the matter.
When I think about it now, DeRopp was trying to balance some scientific and spiritual thinking, and it was all pretty heady stuff for me. That morning, I stood on the corner wondering: What was my game? Would I devote myself to art for the sake of beauty, or to science for knowledge? Could I be spiritual, live on an ashram? My mind was full of these contemplations when I got into the car.

The man driving the Chevy was every girl's nightmare. He was an angry sexual predator, and I sat naively next to him. The car headed up into the winding stretches of lonely canyon, where my new job in an art store was located. As soon as we left the the last few houses behind, and all that lay before us were the coastal mountains separating the valley from the Pacific, the driver violently grabbed The Master Game out of my hands and tossed it into the back seat-- I never saw the book again. And so our savage encounter began.

I have never written about the encounter, so I have to admit this is my unsatisfactory attempt at condensing the experience into a poem:

The stranger's name was
like the blade
he held against me
as he fumbled with his zipper

He screams commands for my mouth
sweet place of poems and laughter
and slams my timid smile
again and again with a rage most foul

I flee my own flesh-- la petite mort
in a flight of ear-rushing fear
retreat, inward further inward
to a place that he cannot annihilate

On a vastly beautiful fall day
I become a witness
to the state laws
he breaks with my body

(months later)

Deputy DA coaches me,
say "vagina" and "penis"
he thinks I'll trash-talk slang
even though I never do

A jury of the defendant's peers
scrutinizes me on witness stand, dismissive-
sees hippie-girl hitchhiker whore
too free for her own good

I sense they hate my serious brown face,
my smart and shamed mouth
oh yes, they too slam me unjustly
this jury is hung hung hung

So, shy victim-girl who was me
loses her laugh her song and poems
instantly displaced by a crime,
a knife, a fist, his cock his prick his dick

(a few months after that)
DA office calls, they want me back as a witness for another trial. His violence has escalated, and he has seriously injured someone else. I am ambivalent, tortured, inconsolable. They call again. He has confessed to his crimes, including the one he perpetrated against me. They won't be needing me afterall. My mother asks, will they call those jurors to tell them how wrong they were? No, they will not.

(many years later)

I realize that had I lived in another country or been of a different culture, I could have been stoned to death for bringing such shame to my family. So the suffering I experienced in this light is less by comparison.

I often remember that when I arrived at the police station (which is quite a tale in itself) and told my story to the officers their first question to me was this:
"Did you learn your lesson?"
Shocked, I never answered them, but I will now.
No, not at first, and now yes, but not the way you would think.
I am not fearless, but I never cower.


I am a survivor.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sleight of Mind

We coulda been rich!
I swear, if only we didn't have any scruples, ethics, honesty, or a conscience. Damn if we were just republicans, we could stick our sticky fingers into the till and be rejoicing over the hurricane gift that God just gave us. We could be planning how to make our friends richer. We could be buying votes with the people's money. We could be taking off our jackets and rolling up our sleeves. There's a lot of hard work here, figuring out to make the public forget everything that's happened. Make the public forget everything just happened. Forgetting. Forgetting.
You are getting sleepy.
You are getting very sleepy.
Your eyelids are getting heavy.
Very heavy.
When you hear the words Katrina or New Orleans, you will remember all the good things the President has done. You will remember how he sent in help right on time. You will remember his strength, conviction, his compassionate concern for the victims. You will love the President.
You will love Karl Rove. You have never heard the name Valerie Plame. There is no Plamegate. There was never a Downing Street Memo. We are winning the war on terror. All is right with America. When I count to three you will wake up feeling completely refreshed. Okay?
One, you're starting to feel awake.
Two, you're almost back.
God, how I love that man.

Sorry. I'm losing my mind. It's obvious I need some serious help. Karl Rove is in charge of rebuilding New Orleans. WTF? Shouldn't that man be in jail already?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Painted on the Backdrop of Hell

The Bush administration has created an ongoing backdrop of hell on which to paint our pictures of beauty. While Iraqis were blown apart yesterday by the hundreds, we were walking along our favorite trail, photographing Great Blue herons and Belted Kingfishers. The simultaneity of our joy and their grief creates a stupefying dissonance that is always hard to shake off. Still we keep looking for beauty. It's a balancing act.

Heron flying as its reflection ripples
Kingfisher holding its territory
Kingfisher looks surprisingly light-colored underwing

Just a note-- We have been having DSL problems for two weeks. Our service quits every evening and doesn't resume until sometime in the morning (that's PDST). We've been having a hard time loading alot of our favorite sites on our backup 56k modem. So, if you haven't been hearing from us as often or as regularly, it's due technical difficulties.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Empty Observations from Monday

Yesterday, while dpr was in the dentist's chair and I was in the waiting room, I read People Magazine. No, not really. I didn't read it, I looked at the pictures. I haven't read a popular magazine in years, so I felt a little bit like an alien looking at a new type of human that I had not seen before.
What I noticed was that all the women looked the same. The actresses, models, singers. Someone named Lindsay Lohan is the same person as Jessica Simpson who is the same as those anorexic twins. Right? Don't they all star in something called the OC and date Ashton Kutcher?
Their bodies are all the same. Their skinny arms hang down from bony shoulders. Their tanned faces all have the same dimensions. There is a spooky characterlessness about it. They look like a Lamarckian experiment-- as if they believe they will pass down these marvelous acquired characteristics to their offspring who will be named Poet, Apple, and Lourdes. Children as an affectation, but who are bound disappoint because they will be born with real genes, in the beginning.
Nobody looked healthily, lustily, or sanely beautiful to me. The results of too much coveted emptiness, too much mirror, too many hours in cars on southern california freeways.
Then we came home. Saw some news of the president in New Orleans. One shot was of him in some open-air convoy. He was standing in the back flanked by Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin. Bush look for all the world like he was some shrimpy disrobed pope in a camouflage pope mobile.
Word advice to the president-- No more New Orleans photo ops. You look silly, and it's always going to be seen for what it is-- a public relation's ploy. We all know that you stayed on vacation, you didn't send in assistance, and you let the city drown. Now stay home and practice duct taping the White House.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Garden Update

fall is here in the great northwest. the days are shorter and more importantly for the garden the temperature has dropped, it rains a bit, and there are gray days and partly sunny days. the combination has enabled mold to take hold on the zuccini and yellow crookneck squash. the outside tomatoes are ripening, but may not make it all the way to real redness. we do have some pear tomatoes ripe. yummy. sweet. i planted too many carrots. i have two plantings and each has 15 to 20 pounds of large carrots. i'm going to freeze some, though they are probably too big. we will pickle some. the beets are ready for pickling next week. there are mid-summer plantings of bush beans and pole beans flowering now. they may produce beans before the weather kills them. we're learning about gardening here.

it rains enough to provoke mold on the zuccini and yellow crookneck squash, but not enough to really water the plants.

i planted yellow pear cherry tomatoes this year. a bit late developing outdoors, as are all the tomatoes.

beets aplenty for pickling. and delicious fresh greens. we just trimmed all the dead vines out of the raspberries in the backround.

these grapevines were here when we bought the place but had never produced grapes because the deer ate them. now we have a fence. now we have grapes.

one of the carrot plantings is in the exreme bottom left. right in the middle are butternut squash vines. you can see some squash. to the left of the marigolds, which are left of the squash, are the other carrots. the darker green stuff behind the squash (leftish) is kale, which should grow all winter. next to it is spinach. we've been eating it for 3 weeks and if we pinch off any flowers it may last into winter. behind that are raspberries on the left, corn with many small ears still left to eat, and on the far right a trellis with pole beans. the beans are flowering and may produce actual beans.


The Obligation of Memory

(photo collage from cover story)
Here's why I hate the Bush Administration. I can't just have my memory of 9/11 without feeling that they have capitalized on it, trivialized it, and reduced it to some triumphant oath of loyalty to them.

I have long since turned my eyes away from those burning buildings, the way I now turn them away from the flooded streets, and make myself remember that the feelings of unity, humanity, caring, and charity are mine. They do not belong to this group of incompetent, thieving, conniving bastards. The Pentagon-produced 9/11 parade is a celebration of lies, on the streets where our freedoms are diminished daily. There is no corruption too flagrant or obscene to be beyond their entertainment.

I choose only to remember 9/11 as it was. We hiked the high Sierra at 10,000 feet while the city of New York trembled. We cried at the side of mountain streams and wondered at the fate of loved ones. We cut our vacation short to be home in the time of crisis. We thought it was the least we could do.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Big Ten

ten reasons i can't get a job at fema

1. i have at least half a brain.
2. i told the truth on my resume.
3. i have had at least a small bit of disaster preparedness and response training
4. i don't trust the newspapers for my information.
5. i know nothing about arabian horses.
6. i am not a loyal republican.
7. i am loyal to the constitution, not the person of the president.
8. i gag at the sight of michael chertoff.
9. i sometimes let compassion guide me.
10. you george never heard of my college roommate.

Gore Behind the Scenes

Last Saturday my sister called to tell me she heard on CNN that Al Gore had personally and financially helped airlift evacuees out of New Orleans and had them brought to Tennessee. I was thrilled with the news, and wanted to post about it, but couldn't find any corroborating evidence for the story. I googled searched every combination of Al Gore American Airlines evacuees hurricane katrina, I could come up with. No luck. No story. I knew my sister had heard correctly, but perhaps CNN was merely reporting a plan that Al Gore had put forth, but it really hadn't come to fruition.
He helped in the evacuation of two planeloads of survivors.
The link to the story was up on CNN yesterday.
My question: Why did it take so long for the story to make headlines? It's a week old.
Even if Al Gore didn't want to be interviewed for the story, does that really mean there was no story?
Just asking.
BTW-- We're Al Gore fans who would be delighted to see him return to the political arena.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Friday Lament

Here's what I've been thinking:
It's been nearly two weeks since Katrina brewed itself into a hellish storm in the gulf and slammed into the coast. The first few days after the catastrophe were enough to drive anyone with half a brain and a sincere heart to their knees. The sheer magnitude of pain unleashed by the rising water displacement of hundreds of thousands of people reverberated in shockwaves and paroxysms of grief.
Time has passed, and the fetid waters have begun to slowly recede into an environmental nightmare. But the sports arena and convention center hell holes have been evacuated. While there are still corpses rotting in the streets, the living have been effectively dispatched to new lives; their stories will be told on the nightly news for days and weeks to come.
Now I am filled with a sickening apprehension. Bush is feverishly contriving to turn yet one more disaster into a political triumph, converting his stunning mismanagement and failure into political capital. A drowned city will be one more fortune for his loyal cronies. He has already reached his hands deep into our pockets and fished out a cool $50 billion. He truly despises taxpayers, we are such a pathetic and unprotected lot. Out of our measly payrolls he conjures an empire. How he abuses our generosity by using it only to enrich the already bloated. The pilfered dollar is truly the coin of the realm. If I thought for one moment that the needy would be the grateful recipients of this largesse, I would beg that he take more, but I know where that money will go. I know. How does he get away with it? Can he be stopped?
The Michael Brown story is diversion. Sure he's an incompetent idiot who shouldn't have had the power he had, but he is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. And his resume is the least of our worries. If we let stupid Brownie be the scapegoat, we will miss the real target in this disaster's crosshairs.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hawk Returns with a Plan

We turn away from the carnage to quiet our frayed nerves and calm our horror-filled hearts. When we look outside our windows, it is like returning to the life we knew before the disaster, when the slow rhythms of natural world dictated our own pace. Our yard has browned in the late summer. Many weeds have grown up and gone to seed. Ripe plums litter the ground beneath the tree, along with the red apples in the orchard. Their colors remind us of spring flowers shooting up from the wood chipped earth. There are fewer birds these days. All the migrators have headed south. The hawks that feed on smaller birds don't have as many choices. We watched the Cooper's hawk sit on the rock next to the bushes where the little birds hide, in a food getting behavior that was not particularly productive. So, the other day we observed how it had changed its tactics. The hawk returned and searched for quite some time looking for better vantage points from which to hunt. dpr photographed it as it moved around the yard.
First it simply perched on the platform feeder. Seemed rather obvious, but it was worth a try.

Then it headed over to the little bench next to the pond. An interesting choice, we like to sit there too.

It moved closer to the pond. Often there are birds bathing in the upper pond before the waterfall.

A little closer to that upper pond, but still no luck.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Protest Censorship

FEMA: No pictures, please

From the "Where Have We Heard This Before" Department: The Federal Emergency Management Agency does not want the news media taking photographs of the dead in New Orleans. According to a Reuters report, FEMA has rejected journalists' request to join rescue boats searching for bodies. "We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," a FEMA spokeswoman said in an email message to Reuters.

We think it is our responsibility to post pictures of the dead to protest this censorship. If you have a weak stomach, please look no further. But if you think it is an act of political courage to look at the cost of indifference to human suffering, please look at this gallery of shame.

There are more photos here.

California's Equal Marriage Rights Legislation

Our very good friend Tara sent us an email last night elated with the news that California had just passed Equal Marriage Rights Legislation. She and her partner have a personal stake in this legislation. Their marriage of February 2004, performed during San Francisco's Winter of Love, has been declared null and void.
Tara wrote:
I urge you to call the Governor and support the signing of this bill!! Perhaps our wedding license from February 2004 will be reinstated!
Tara wrote a post for us in February describing their wedding-- the joys of affirmation and the despair of legislative denial. Let's hope their wedding vows will be reconfirmed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Words from Louisiana

we have come to know a virtual friend through the internet who lives close to New Orleans. she was kind enough to send us some creole heritage tomato seeds when we requested them after she left some comment mentioning them. she is among the kind and intelligent people who view our offerings here, and often leaves interesting and insightful comments. you may have noticed her wit and perspicacity in comments on other blogs. we e-mailed her shortly before the hurricane came ashore offering our best wishes for her and her family, not knowing if she would even be able to receive our note. she sent a short e-mail back, letting us know that she and her family were safe and secure, from the local library in the town to which they had repaired. we offered to post anything she might wish to send us about her experience. today we received the following:

Your weather report post is great. The bastards have already started to blame the victims, the locals, anybody but themselves. Homeland Security and FEMA were worse than useless before Katrina and in the immediate aftermath.

My emotions alternate between deep sadness for the people of the city I grew up in and fury at the Bush administration for their ponderously slow response.

As you know by now we have no homeland security. What all the billions went for, I don't know. As for Hastert's comments about bulldozing the city, they are despicable and he should resign as Speaker of the House. I heard Cavuto on Fox say that the US should just write off metro-New Orleans - you know - as though it's a failed business. Do they have any concept at all that real people live in the area? Insensitivity of this caliber is beyond belief.

I live in a small town about 65 miles away from NO now. One of my daughters lives in Jefferson Parish, and my sons live near me. My husband and I were in New York City for five days before the weekend of the storm. We were in the waiting area at the airport, on the way home when we found that the hurricane would hit somewhere near the Louisiana coast.

We spent one night at home, immediately began securing our house, and the next morning evacuated to the small farm where my husband grew up, which is located north of Baton Rouge. We could get wind there, but would not be in danger of flood waters. Our children and grandchildren, fourteen in all, evacuated to the farm which contains two rather small houses. In addition we had five dogs and three cats with us. But thank God for those two houses, because we did not have to worry about finding reservations in a motel. I was just so absolutely grateful that my family was together in a safe place. None of us knew whether we would have homes to return to when the storm was over.

The storm was not bad in our area; we had some wind and rain, but came out fine. When the storm was over we were able to get through to our neighbors who had stayed behind to ride out the storm, and we found out our house was OK. In fact all our houses were intact and not flooded, even that of our daughter who lived just outside of NO. A couple of days after the storm, my son-in-law was able to get to his house in Jefferson Parish and take supplies to his neighbor who had stayed behind and helped by feeding their pet chickens. The neighbor had no running water and no power, so my son-in-law was his lifeline. Every few days he would take him supplies.

On his first trip in, he brought back a friend who was living in his house with no running water and no power, so we had fifteen by then, and another dog. The friend was crapping in his back yard because he could not flush the toilet. He is a hygiene nut, so he was freaking out.

But we were the forunate ones. We have so much to be grateful for. The TV pictures were nearly unbearable to watch. One wonders if help would have come at all but for the TV pictures there for all the world to see. Even Shepherd Smith from Fox News said we looked like a third world country.

Our local university was used as a staging area for evacuees with medical problems for a few days until their conditions were evaluated. They were then moved on to who knows where. I was talking to some of them in the shelter at the Catholic student center, which was a shelter for people with pets. They said the folks from our town had been wonderful to them. I told them that we all knew that it could have been us. Had the storm moved to the west rather than to the east, we could have been in their situation. Either way NO was going to get it.

We are fine now in our home, but I just can't seem to move on. I feel that I'm living in a sort of twilight zone, stunned beyond belief. We have heard from extended family and, so far everyone is OK.

I have ridden out hurricanes before, both Andrew and Betsy, and the 1948 hurricane, but I will never ever do it again.

I see that our friend Ivor Van Heeden, from the LSU Hurricane center is all over the news now as an expert. He has been crying out for years about the danger - to the point where some around here wanted him fired because of his doomsday warnings. They just wanted him to shut up, but he would not. He and some others who tried to give the warnings were right, but they laughed at him.


our first almost-ripe creole tomato! grown from seeds from janeboatler.

we also very highly recommend the current post by Philalethes at bouphonia. he brings his usual intelligence and compassion and command of language to bear on the ugly social assumptions of too many people.