Do you know where your eggs are?

 Close Up of Tree Frog on Pool Pump

Close Up of Unidentified Tree Frog on Pool Filter by C. Fickel

“How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!” ~ Emily Dickinson

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” ~ John Burroughs

So I was floating around in the pool this afternoon while Corey was vacuuming, and we have sad news: Apparently the tree frog that has been living somewhere in our backyard deposited her eggs in the pool unbeknownst to us. We didn’t find out until all of the tadpoles surfaced when Corey added the chemicals to clean the pool.

Face of Sun Sculpture
Close Up of Sun Sculpture by C. Fickel

One of the great things about having the tree frogs in our backyard is that I am certain that their singing probably drives our nosey neighbor nuts. She (the neighbor) is not a delightful individual, and I think that I can safely say that she finds our backyard habitats irksome. Oh well.

In case you are wondering why I have such an antipathy for this neighbor, let me give you a few examples of her less-than-neighborly actions: She once called the city on us because we had a compost pile. Her complaint? It was a rat harborage. The guy from the city who came to inspect our backyard was very nice and told me that he saw nothing wrong with our yard. When I asked who had complained, he said that he couldn’t really tell me, but if I watched where he went when he left our house, it would be pretty obvious who had called.

Yep. It was the nosey neighbor.

Another time, after a hurricane had demolished many trees and shrubs in the neighborhood and left most of the city without power for days, we had put the dead branches out by the curb as the city instructed. The city also said that there was no guarantee as to when they would be able to collect everything as there was so much destruction throughout the city.

Well, this particular neighbor didn’t like the fact that our branches were out for several weeks, even though we were following the city’s instructions, so she and her adult daughter took it upon themselves to place the branches in the back of Corey’s truck. We caught them in the act and asked them what they were doing.

Nothing. Like young children being caught stealing. Not us. Nothing. I don’t know.

Have to love the neighbors who spread that warm sense of community. Even kindly Mr. Rogers would not have liked these women.

But I digress . . .

“Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.” ~ Walt Whitman 

Squirrel Treefrog, Mt. Dora, Florida (rotated canvas), by Janson Jones
Squirrel Treefrog, Mt. Dora, Florida (rotated canvas), by Janson Jones

So the tree frog tadpoles perished, which is a shame. But the pool was very relaxing today, and I enjoyed my diversion, even though both Tillie and Shakes were trying mightily to engage me in a game of water tennis. Because I would not throw the ball for them, they took turns jumping into the pool after dropping the ball into the water. I’m sure that it was a conspiracy led by the fat one. It’s hard to ignore a Labrador who swims around you and drops a tennis ball onto your float, but I did my best.

In spite of the dogs’ best efforts to distract me, I enjoyed the sounds of lapping water, occasional birds overhead, and the sweet, sweet smell of the last gardenia blooms on the bush.

Other than that, I have yet to tackle the baskets of clean clothes that are still blocking my way to my closet. The shoes are still in a pile by my feet, and the stack of papers perched precariously on my printer has not been touched.

One thing at a time. And having just concluded a telephone conversation with my ex, I don’t really feel up to tackling much of anything. He exhausts me. There is no other way to put it. Even when he is seemingly in a good mood, our conversations always seem vexing, and I finish them feeling as if I need a strong drink or a hot bath or both. So I’ll just eat a few cookies instead and try to put his testiness out of my mind.

But why oh why does he tell me things and then insist that he never said them? I mean, it’s not as if he’s on medication that affects his cognitive abilities. I have a theory that he is still trying to get me to crack under pressure.

Bothersome neighbors. Trying ex-spouses. Irksome laundry. My personal axis of evil. And technically, that should be ax-es, plural, but hey, why be picky about a phrase adopted by a president who spoke of OB/GYNs practicing love on their patients.

So with that in mind, I thought that I would leave you with this classic SNL skit: Will Ferrell as President Bush on the Growing Axis of Evil . . .

  

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More later. Peace.

more about “Will Ferrell “Axis of Evil”“, posted with vodpod

“The Ultimate Exit Interview”

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George W. Bush at His Final Press Conference

W.’s Final Steps in Rewriting His Legacy

He walked in affable and waving. After all, it was going to be his moment. He greeted the Washington Press Corps as if they were old friends about to have a final chat. The amiability was short and sweet. The first question hit like a boxing glove, and George W. Bush’s plans for a friendly get together took it right on the chin.

“I hope the tone is different for him than it was for me . I’m disappointed by the tone in Washington, D.C. . . . It’s just that the rhetoric got out of control, declared George W. Bush during his final press conference of his administration. And I think that it’s a very telling quote. George W. Bush is still in denial. The press made everything so negative for him, and his response was “disappointment.”

But let us pause her a moment to reflect with the 43rd president. His disappointment was over things such as the abuse of prisoners (torture) at Abu Ghraib, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Well, okay. I believe the American people are disappointed over Abu Ghraib, the response to Hurrican Katrina, and the fact that we were led into a war because of the loud declarations of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The difference? Bush’s disappointment seems to be that things did not go as he expected or as he wanted. The use of torture was made public, and can be chalked up to a few rogue people. The response to Katrina was very slow in coming, and if only there were WMD in Iraq, he could say, “I told you so.”

Our disappointment with the same things but for different reasons: The ire of Abu Ghraib wasn’t over the few people involved, it was over the use of torture and that use being condoned by those in positions to make those decisions. The response to Katrina was very slow in coming: Looking down from an airplane on the mass destruction below is not a president being on the scene, and by the way, how are the levees coming? And WMD, we didn’t believe in them in the first place.

For example, while discussing one of the worst storms to hit the country in history, Bush said that he debated as to whether or not he should land when flying over Katrina but decided that he did not want to “burden” local officials with his presence. Why does he still not understand that at a time of crisis as encompassing as Katrina, the President of the United States needed to be seen and heard, but more than that, he needed to be reacting in a timely way.

 The record shows how poorly the administration reacted even though they were warned in advance that the landfall was going to be devastating. But don’t say that to President Bush: “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was [sic] 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed.”

(And by the way, people who fly helicopters are called pilots, not drivers, but as the president pointed out: “Obviously, some of my rhetoric has been a mistake.”)

What’s amazing is that W. still doesn’t understand that coming clean doesn’t necessarily mean that you understand what you did wrong. Confession may be good for the soul, but confession without self-realization is wasted rhetoric. For example, take his comment on Abu Ghraib: “I don’t know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were — things didn’t go according to plan, let’s put it that way.” And the plan was to make sure that the public did not find out about the torture? Or was there another plan?

Also very telling was W.’s preface to many answers with phrases such “the challenge was,” “the problem was,” and “the question is.” No, Mr. President. The point of the press conference is to talk about your administration’s answers and solutions. 

Bush’s biggest problem has always been the perception of his intentions. Believe it or not, I don’t think of W. as an evil man, certainly nowhere in the leagues of Dick Cheney. I just think that the current president has always been just one step out of sync with just about everything that he has done, right down to choosing the people who advised him—Cheney and Rumsfeld anyone?

Again, in the department of admissions of things that went wrong, Bush mentioned the huge “Mission Accomplished” banner: “Clearly, putting `Mission Accomplished’ on an aircraft carrier was a mistake,” he said. You think? It was that whole cowboy mentality that so many people found shocking just two months after the war in Iraq had begun, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. was still suffering casualties even as the president was declaring victory. How does a nation’s citizenry reconcile two such disparate images?

Bush’s demeanor during the press conference ranged the gamut from playful (“It’s a pretty cool job”), to regretful (on the “Mission Accomplished” banner: “It sent the wrong message), to self-deprecating (answering question about critics: “Sure. You know any?”), to downright defiant: “I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged,” when responding to a question about America’s standing in the world. “But people still understand America stands for freedom; that America is a country that provides such great hope,” he continued.

In the end though, George Bush still came across as a man who really does not know or cannot accept how the world sees him, declaring at one point, “You know, presidents can try to avoid hard decisions, and therefore avoid controversy. That’s just not my nature. I’m the kind of person that, you know, is willing to take — to take on hard—hard tasks.”

And then a few minutes later saying, “One thing about the presidency is that you can make—only make decisions, you know, on the information at hand . . . You don’t—you don’t get to have information after you’ve made the decision. That’s not the way it works. And you’re—you stand by your decisions and you do your best to explain why you made the decisions you made.

Crystal clear.

Self-justification, hostility, defiance, imagined self-pity to take the glare of the real self-pity . . . It wasn’t great oratory, but it lasted over 46 minutes, and Bush gave us more of his real legacy in this 46 minutes than he realizes. All attempts at legacy refurbishing at this point are meaningless. After all, W. himself said, “You know, where does a president’s—did a president’s decisions have the impact that he thought they would—or he thought they would, over time?”

And in conclusion: “My view is is that most people around the world, they respect America. And some of them doesn’t like me—I understand that—some of the writers and the, you know, opiners and all that. That’s fine. That’s part of the deal.”

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President Bush Leaves His Final Press Conference

I would have to say, though, that there was one point about this press conference that I truly enjoyed: Its conclusion. It’s the last press conference with a president that we’ll hear in quite a while in which the English language is turned on its ear.

For anyone wishing to check my use of Bush’s quotes, I direct you to the source: the actual transcript of the press conference, which can be found at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/12/raw-data-transcript-bushs-white-house-press-conference/. (I deliberately used Fox News for the transcript lest I be accused of relying too much on MSNBC.

And that gentle folks, leaves us with 7 more days in which George W. Bush can attempt to persuade us that all is well and has been for eight long years, in spite of 9/11, two wars, natural disasters, rising unemployment, and a fiscal crisis bordering on the Great Depression.

Of course, there will be more later. Peace.

My Apologies for 2008

These are the people and events that I would like to apologize to and for in the past year:

The General Apologreed-gargoylegies:

To Virginia Natural Gas, for getting so behind in our payments that you felt the need to reclaim your meter. I’m sure that it is doing you more good than it was doing us. After all, we only need it for heat, hot water, and cooking. You must have needed it for something for more useful, say storage. Glad we could help. And just as soon as the economy takes a turn for the better, we’ll be getting back to you on the huge past due balance and deposit that you mentioned.

To Homecomings Mortgage for being so understanding when I’ve called to try to work out some kind of payment plan. I guess you didn’t get any kind of notification on the TARP money and how they are trying to use that to help financially-troubled mortgages. We’ll wait until you get the memo and get back to you on that.

Speaking of TARP money, my sincerest apologies to the Wall Street Bankers and Financiers who may have to do without bigger bonuses this year, or at least have pretended to do without pay cuts and bonuses until Congress finally figured out that there is actually a loophole. I just wouldn’t want anyone’s house in the Hamptons to go into foreclosure or anything. Warmest regards to all. Ta Ta.

To all of the bill collectors, it’s not that we don’t want to pay our bills, really. It’s that we can’t pay them. When a family of four is living on my disability income, and the primary breadwinner, my husband, has been out of work since January of 2008, it makes it very tricky to stretch those dollars to cover the mortgage, my health insurance, food, and just about anything else. I apologize. I sincerely do. We will be getting back to you on that as soon as we can figure out alchemy.

To my eternally snoopy next door neighbor on the left: No, we haven’t finished the soffet and fascia in the back because we have to pay someone to finish that particular job. We have, however, put up a new roof, finished the privacy fencing on almost the whole perimeter, leaving your back gate on our property (which, if it had been up to me, would not be there, but my husband is kinder), cut back most of the trees, gotten rid of the old truck, gotten rid of the old landscaping trailer. The only thing, unfortunately, I cannot accommodate you with is our own disappearance. So sorry. Maybe next year when we might be able to finish our renovations and move to a place where the neighbors actually talk to you.

To my former employer’s Human Resources department, I apologize for calling you with pesky questions about my personnel benefits as a long-term disability employee. If I could actually get answers that made sense without having to call and leave messages, believe me, I would. Trying to get someone in your department to be helpful is akin to asking for someone to drill my teeth without benefit of local anaesthesia.

To the Republican Party, nah, not really, but thanks so much for Sarah Palin. She gave me enough material for two months.

The Sincere Personal Apologies:

To my mail carrier, I apologize for never being quite as happy to see him as he is to see me. I wave and say hello even though I know that he is bringing more bad news, but I still hope that he has a good day.

To all of the people who put up with me at the pain management center, I apologize for being late, showing up on the wrong day, at the wrong time, or forgetting about appointments altogether. You are very kind for working me in because you realize that my pain has made me batty.

To my family as a whole, thank you for accepting the fact that I’m batty. Pain does weird things to people. Constant pain makes you want to be more sarcastic than usual.

To Corey, I’m sorry if I don’t always say thank you for all of the things that you do. If it seems that I take you for granted, believe me when I say that nothing you do is ever taken for granted. I’m also sorry that’s it has been such a rough year, but I know that 2009 will be better because honey, it can’t be worse.

To Alexis, I’m sorry that you have had to pick up some slack for me, which isn’t really fair since you have your own place now. But I appreciate it.

Eamonn, I’m sorry for being overbearing, but not really. I know that you don’t believe it, but you really will look back on this someday, and wonder why I didn’t come down on you harder.
my-dearhearts
For My Dear Hearts

Brett, I’m sorry for the gene pool lottery. It sucks. I know.

James, I’m sorry you just had to endure weeks of hell and that I wasn’t closer by to help you through it.

Mari, I’m sorry that we have drifted apart, and that I’ve let it happen on my end as well.

Sarah, I’m sorry for the years, and it won’t be a pine box. I promise.

Rebecca, we both should be sorry: we don’t live that far apart. Let’s make more of an effort.

And Finally, Apologies For The Rest:

To the rest of the world, let me be the first to apologize for eight years of George W. Bush.

sand-from-non-biodegradable-plastics
Vog: sand from plastics

And let me apologize to all living creatures in the Pacific Ocean for my ignorance about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has now exceeded the size of Texas, a humongous, man-made floating garbage dump that many are now calling the eighth continent.

It makes me utterly ashamed to be part of this society’s vapid, disposable mentality, which has caused sand to now be formed of non-biodegradable plastics like plastic utensils, toothbrushes, and disposable razors. There is a beach on the big island of Hawaii, Kamilo Beach, also known as ‘Plastic Beach’ where this sand, known as Vog, is almost a foot deep. It makes me want to weep for Hertha, Earth Mother.

To the person on eBay who bought the turkey that was slaughtered behind Sarah Palin while she was being interviewed, let me apologize for your obvious lack of sensitivity and just add eww.

To the world, I’m sorry to have to be part of the world’s least green country (according to National Geographic’s May 31 Greendex study), but it does not surprise me. And for the record, India and Brazil tied for first as the world’s greenest countries. Go here for the complete study: http://event.nationalgeographic.com/greendex/assets/GS_NGS_Full_Report_May08.pdf

And finally, to Tina Fey: I’m so sorry that you no longer have that dimwit to impersonate, but honestly, isn’t it a relief not to have to dumb yourself down?

Now that I got all of that off my chest, I know that I feel much better . . . somewhat. More later. Peace.