“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” ~ Fanny Brice

“Benjamin’s House,” by Andrew Wyeth (1955)

“A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: ‘As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.'” ~ Joseph Campbell

I’m in the mood for sparse, hence, the Andrew Wyeth images. My favorite is the last one: “Renfield.”

"Wind from the Sea," by Andrew Wyeth (1947)

Lovely visit to the pain management group yesterday. Trigger point injections from my neck to my bum. I saw one of the new Physician’s Assistants that joined the group last November. He seemed a bit nervous about giving me the injections until he realized that I wasn’t squeamish. After that, he proceeded to inject everything in sight (slight overstatement). Anyway, I felt like a pin cushion, came home and had to lie down on the heating pad.

A bit better today, but very sore. I told Corey that I’m not certain about this new guy, and Corey reminded me that he hasn’t been giving trigger point injections for years like my other doctors. Good point. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Brett used my computer last night to write something about Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” for school. Personally, I have never been that big of a Kafka fan. Just not my cup of tea, so to speak. A story about a man becoming a giant cockroach gives me the willies. I know. It’s about alienation, distance, loneliness. A masterpiece reflecting the identity of self in society . . . Ya da ya da ya da. He’s still a cockroach.

“In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds; all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation.” ~ Stéphane Mallarmé

"West Window," by Andrew Wyeth

Once the omnipresent head pressure of the last few weeks began to lessen, I was finally able to read the last three Harry Potter books in quick order. I had forgotten how much I really love the last book. Then I thought about all of the e-mails I get from my Goodreads contacts in which they list what they have read lately, and it made me pause. I haven’t really read anything new in a while. I’ve been rereading old favorites. I suppose there’s nothing really wrong with rereading, as it is something that I have always done, revisiting favorites once a year or so, but sometimes I feel as if I am not making any forward motion in my reading.

What I mean is that I feel a general lack in my background as far as world literature is concerned. I am hard-pressed when it comes to naming new authors from around the world, those who are considered to be contributing to the literary canon, as it were. And when I feel like this, I miss Mari, and teaching, and the department. Being surrounded by colleagues, attending lectures, reading journal articles, going to literary festivals—these things serve as a constant stimulus and impetus; the desire to remain current stays at the forefront at all times.

I miss that. But then, I miss many things, as you are probably weary of hearing me lament. Most probably, I miss the idea of working, the positive aspects of being amidst a job that stimulates the brain. When I get like this, though, I remind myself of the less than positive aspects: the backstabbing, the politics, the endless time-consuming meetings about nothing at all. These things I do not miss.

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"Monday Morning," by Andrew Wyeth (1955)

Corey and I talk about the possibility of my returning to work full time. The idea of doing so appeals to me greatly, but would my body allow it? And working at home would serve no purpose other than to bring in income, which I am doing (to some extent). It would not allow me to get out of the house, be in different surroundings for several hours a day. It’s all so vexing, having no clear answers.

Anyway, Corey did speak with his contact at Vane Brothers, who told him that delivery of the new boat has been put back because of the bad weather. No surprise there. He did tell Corey that he would make a note that Corey has stayed in touch and continued to express interest in working for the company. I suppose that’s the best that can be expected. Yet another shipping company to which Corey applied has said that they are not hiring anyone new at the moment, even though their website listed open positions. Such a depressing mantra.

We are coming to the end of February, and Corey’s current unemployment extension is about to end. I know that another bill for yet another unemployment extension is before Congress, but who knows if it will be approved. God know that it should be considering that over 10 percent of the population is unemployed. We can only wait and hope and in the meantime, keep sending in applications.

“Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.” ~ Paul Carvel

My Australian friend Maureen of White Orchid mentioned something in a recent post to which I can really relate: Apparently, the reality show “Little Miss Perfect” airs in Australia, and Maureen and her daughter watched an episode. For those of you who do not know to what I am referring, “Little Miss Perfect” is a show about child pageant contestants and their mothers . . . No, I’m not kidding.

"Renfield," by Andrew Wyeth (1999)

Apparently someone thought that this form of child abuse would make for good television. Child abuse? What would you call it? These little girls are made up to look like little beauty contestants, complete with fake eyelashes, make-up, costumes, the works. They have mothers who give them nothing but candy before the pageants so that they’ll be full of energy. This is good parenting?

Okay. I know that there are some people out there who love pageants, love the whole idea of the pageant circuit, participated in it, thought that it was the best thing since Barbie got longer hair. Whatever. You are entitled to your opinion. If you did it and you loved it. Great for you.

I’m looking at it from a totally different perspective: that of a sane person (relatively). These little girls are being indoctrinated into that whole concept that their entire self-worth is tied to their looks, to their ability to charm, to their willingness to please. Does no one else see anything wrong with this? We’ve raised generations of young women who regularly abuse their bodies in attempts to conform to airbrushed magazine images. We have agents who tell size 4 models that they are too fat (just read that one in the news). We have young women who are getting Botox before they are 25.

The need to fit in, to conform, to wear the right clothes, to carry the right purse, to be like everyone else—that need is as ancient as the concept of societies. But there is something very, very wrong with a society that condones taking five-year-old girls and plastering eye shadow on them and sending them out on a stage to compete with other five-year-olds for crowns and trophies rewarding them for being cute.

Let me pause here. No, I do not believe that every child should be given a trophy simply for showing up to school. No, I am not against healthy competition. Yes, I believe that innate talents should be honed and fostered. Yes, there will always be someone who is the valedictorian, and rightly so. But must we start at such a young, impressionable age at teaching our little girls that beauty is the answer to all of their problems?

Just consider the title of the show: “Little Miss Perfect.” What is perfection? The right dress? The best walk? The most winning smile? Are these young girls not being indoctrinated to grow up into young women who strive to fit into a size 2? Who will turn to plastic surgery to take out an imagined imperfection in a nose? And perhaps most importantly, are they being given the tools to face the real world? What will they do when their beauty does not open every door? How will they cope when they get their first stretch mark?

Yes, I know that I’ve said it before, but as I commented to Maureen, this concept of instilling unrealistic expectations at a very young age makes me want to throttle someone. I am reminded of the woman in Texas who put a hit out on the mother of her daughter’s cheerleading rival. True story (click here for info). I am also reminded of the mother of a girl who went to my former high school. This mother called me after cheering tryouts at which I had judged to drill me about why her daughter had not been chosen. All I could think of was how she had gotten my phone number?

Who are these people? Where does that kind of obsessive behavior originate? It has to begin somewhere. “Little Miss Perfect” my ass.

More later. Peace.

Red House Painters, “Have You Forgotten?”

“There is no later. This is later.” ~ Cormac McCarthy

 

 Old Red Barn (December 2009) by L. Liwag©

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” ~ Buddha

Not going to write about Haiti tonight. It’s too emotional, and three posts in a row are enough, for now. Like my friend Maureen at White Orchid, my mind has been on the past lately, although I am not certain as to why. Well, the genesis began with a contact on Facebook from a person with whom I used to work at the Museum. From there, though, my mind has been traveling down different paths, and I have been dreaming of different people, so I thought that I would make tonight’s post about some of those people, not all of whom I would like to see again.  

For various reasons, I will not identify these individuals by name.  

“You never really know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks.” ~ Eskimo Proverb

Frozen Stepping Stones by L Liwag©

First there was the gay man who I used to love. I knew that he was gay, but that did not stop me from loving him, from thinking that we could be together in one of those strange but true platonic relationships based on friendship and mutual respect. When I first met him, I thought that he was funny, talented, and kind. It was only later that I realized that yes, he was funny when he was high. He was talented at making people believe that he was what he was not, and he had a vicious cruel streak that spared no one.  

Why would I spend time with someone like that? I asked my therapist the same thing. She said, and I agree, that my marriage to my ex was so strained by the point at which this man entered my life that I was starved for attention, and my gay friend certainly gave me that. He took me to dinner, bought me things, even gave me a job when I needed one. But what I did not realize then but realize now was that there was a cost for everything.  

Yes, my marriage was already in trouble when I met this person. My ex and I were spending more and more time apart and with our separate groups of friends, but I know that spending time with this person did not help an already-strained situation. In the end, I finally broke with this person when he revealed his nasty true self by involving my mother in a situation over which I had no control.  

When Corey and I got married, I wanted to use my friend as my caterer. I gave him a $1,000 cash deposit. Our wedding was small, and we wanted to keep it intimate, so the catering was pretty straightforward. One thing that I did not count on was that when Corey and I went away for our honeymoon, my employer’s payroll company direct-deposited my check into my savings account. As a result, the checks that I wrote to the caterer, florist, and someone else (cannot remember who), all bounced.  

This was not my fault. I had no way of knowing that my money had been deposited into my savings account as I was out of the country. When we returned from our honeymoon, I walked into a firestorm. This person, my supposed friend and one-time companion, had been calling my mother, telling her horrible things about me. The worst part was that she believed him (of course). I haven’t seen him since my wedding, and as far as I’m concerned, hell can have a raging ice storm before I would give him the time of day.  

Is that gracious of me? No. But I have a long memory, and some things should not be forgiven.  

“It takes your enemy and your friend, working together to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Winter Stilllife by L. Liwag©

Then there was the friend who was a friend but then she wasn’t. I know that most of you have had this kind of person in your life. To be honest, I have found that when it comes to other women, in most cases my relationships tend to be more complicated than say my friendships with men, and this particular relationship was incredibly complicated. This female friend and I grew very close from working together on so many projects. We spent time together outside of the office, and she became very involved in my life.  

But it was a taxing relationship. To her credit, she was going through a bump in her life, learning more about herself and her own marriage, but it caused her to be needy, and I tried to help fill that need. Let me pause here to say that this is precisely how I get into trouble in almost all of my female friendships: by trying to be there for them to the point that I begin to lose myself or to have my judgment clouded.  

Anyway, the thing was that she talked about me to other people, and I knew this. She also never hesitated to let me know what other people were saying about me. It bothered me, of course, but my response was passive aggressive: Do nothing but be hard to get along with. Another thing about this person was that she was extremely judgmental and did not hold back with her pronouncements. Granted, I was pretty judgmental myself back then, so that part of our personalities probably meshed well.  

Our relationship didn’t exactly die; it frittered away. We stopped working together on projects, and what had brought us together no longer served as an adhesive. My relief at not having her in my life is a sad reflection on my own state of mind at the time. Instead of working on the relationship, I just let it go. When I think back on my state of mind at the time, it was precarious at best. It was just before I made the final decision to end my first marriage, a long, painful process that had only one possible outcome. The truth is that it was just too hard to be around some of the people from my past. What that says about me I don’t know.  

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him, his own.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Bird Feeder in the Snow by L. Liwag©

And then there is another woman from the same time period with whom I became friends. What I remember the most about this woman was her grace. She was (probably still is) intelligent, articulate, and calm. Oh, she could get riled, but in the face of some pretty nasty situations, she always held her own.  

What I remember most about our relationship is that she truly nurtured me, and we respected one another. She told me that I was talented, and she gave me a forum in which to express my talents. People like that drop into our lives seldom, but how they affect our lives stays forever.  

As with most people, we drifted apart more from circumstance than anything else. Our jobs took us into different places, and she moved out of the area. I have since learned that during the time that we have been apart she has been very productive. I wouldn’t expect anything less from her.  

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

I’m not exactly sure what made me make that little trip through the past. I believe that it was Lee Iacocca who said that when you die, if you have five good friends, you’ve had a good life (or something similar).  I agree.  

People come and go throughout our lives. Some things are constant, and some people are constant. Some friendships last a year, while others last a lifetime. The length of the friendship does not determine the quality. What makes the friendship valuable, worth the time that you have invested, is if when you think of that friend, a smile crosses your lips and your heart feels a sense of peace. Otherwise, what was the point? I only know that “in my life, I’ve loved them all.”  

More later. Peace.  

(More pictures from our December trip to Ohio in the blizzard)  

The incomparable, divine Bette Midler singing “In My Life”  

   

  

   

                                                                                                                                   

Lyrics to Lennon & McCarthy’s “In My Life”  

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all
  

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more  

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.” ~ Albert Einstein

 

Sunset2 at Palm Island Park Mt Dora Fl

Sunset at Palm Island Park, Mt. Dora, Florida by Janson Jones 

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Ghandi

Well, here we are. Thursday. Another day. Rain outside my window. Muddy paw prints on my floor. Exactly 12 cents in my wallet. Life is . . . well, it is what it is.

Standard Issue School Safety
Today's Standard Issue for School Safety

A quiet peace has settled over the house. Eldest son is spending more time at home. Not really sure what the reasons are behind that, but I’ll take what I can get. Today at Brett’s school there were seven, yes seven fights. Corey said that when he pulled up to the school to get Brett, the police were escorting people out in handcuffs, most of them females. The school was in lockdown for a couple of hours. Local news stations report that 14 students were arrested.

Lockdown. In a school. And people ask me why I don’t get a teaching job. No thank you, not in an urban public school, no matter what their academic standing is or how good the principal happens to be.

The one year that I taught in public schools, I was hit three times, all three accidents, but hits, even so. You know that old myth about having unusual strength during a time of crisis? Well, it’s true. I once broke up a fight between two boys in my classroom by lifting one of them off the other. The kid I lifted, who was actually a very nice boy with very good manners, was a head taller than I was.

Another time, a girl in my class was reaching around me to hit a boy she had a crush on, and I got punched in the arm. The worst fights were always the ones involving females. Not making a generalization here. This is what I saw firsthand.

Not sure what made me think of all of that. I suppose the situation at school today. Thankfully, Brett was not in the vicinity of any of the fights when they broke out.

“Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being . . . creativity requires passion and commitment.” ~ Rollo May 

Maureen, my friend in Australia made a comment that she really liked the images that I used in the last post. I’m glad that people notice the images and the words.

Waves in Blue and Green
Sargasso Sea Abstraction by L. Liwag

I spend about half of the time writing my blog, and then the other half searching for and working on images. Sometimes I am very lucky, and I have a very specific image in mind, one that I have seen on another blog. But other times, such as with the last blog, it takes forever for me to find the precise image that I want. I usually look for images that I know have no copyright or for which I know that the copyright has expired. Or, in the case of my friend Janson Jones, I try to let him know that I plan to use an image in a post; he has graciously given his permission.

And then there are the times that the images I include are mine or a family collaboration. Someone in the family may have taken the photograph, but then I work in Photoshop (wonderful Adobe program, but eats up memory), and play with color, layers, filters. As with every computer program I know, I am self-taught on Photoshop, but the more that I work with it, the more interesting things I find to do with photographs.

And then after I have my words down, and I have inserted my images, I try to think of the perfect song to go along with my theme for the day. Of course, this is not always possible because sometimes, like today, I just kind of amble from one thing to another.

I’ve come a long way since I began blogging over a year ago. Whether or not my changes are an improvement only others can tell. I like to think that I have reached a point at which I have found a good balance between words, images, and music. These three things are the root of my creative process. I almost always write with music playing in the background, and my time at The Chrysler Museum of Art opened my eyes to so many beautiful paintings, sculptures, glass, photography, and other art forms from every time period.

I had always loved art before I worked there, but my appreciation for the visual expanded significantly during my tenure at the museum, especially because part of my job included writing about exhibits, giving interviews, etc. I had to take crash courses in artists and their works every couple of weeks. I’m not complaining at all. I loved the opportunity to learn more about an area in which my prior involvement had only been brief visits to museums. Coming at a work of art from the inside, having the opportunity to work with the curators was wonderfully informative, and therefore, rewarding.

“It has always seemed strange to me that . . . so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought—that is to be educated.” ~ Edith Hamilton

William Glackens The Shoppers Detail
"The Shoppers," by William Glackens (detail, 1907, oil on canvas) from the permanent collection of The Chrysler Museum of Art

I suppose I don’t really understand people who do not want to learn new things. It’s as if they are content with a certain body of knowledge, and anything else would just be extraneous. I understand a need to be focused, but to close your mind to new things, developments in science, language, politics—How can you not take an interest?

I fear that we are raising an entire generation that does not know how to delve, how to dabble. The art that they see is on a computer screen not in a museum. The research they do is from the Internet not in a library. Their knowledge of classical music comes from hearing it as background music to a commercial or when it is used in a movie soundtrack.

The term classical education is no longer a matter of pro forma, and that grieves me. A true classical education meant learning about as much as possible, even if it was just a bit about everything: languages, art, music, literature, politics, science, math, culture, economics, history.  Of course, not all of these subjects are absorbed at once.

A true classical education begins early, with a basic foundation in language so as to be able to absorb basic facts. From this, students progress to analyzing what they are taught until ultimately, these students have the ability to express themselves using their expanded knowledge base. Of course, this is a simplified explanation of what is known as the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and quadrivium (astronomy, arithmetic, music and geometry) of a classical education.

Unfortunately, Latin is no longer taught as a matter of course. And the dialectic of logic and reasoning is included in schools that are focused on college-bound students, but what about the rest? Do I dare touch on the uneasy fact of how many of our high school students graduate without knowing how to read or balance a checkbook?

We are so removed from the Greek and Roman ideas of education (barring their idiotic barring of females from receiving formal education) that I fear we will have a generation whose only acquaintance with Latin may be the two phrases carpe diem and semper fi. Of course, I am over-simplifying things as I have a tendency to do when I am frustrated.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ~ Cicero

Actually, I don’t really know how I ended up on this particular topic; I only know that upon arrival, I began to become vexed—a sure sign of my omnipresent impatience with ignorance (not stupidity) and how we as a society are responsible for said pervasive ignorance.

Alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day
One of my children's favorite books

Time to stop and have a Pepsi and some chocolate, something to sweeten my disposition. I will leave you with this: If you have young children, read to them, all of the time, from board books when they are very young to fairy tales as they get older. A little story: My daughter Alexis was with her friend Jennifer. The two of them were sorting through children’s books bought at an estate auction. Alexis kept picking up books and saying how wonderful this one was and how much she enjoyed that one.

Jennifer replied that she hadn’t read most of them. Alexis was incredulous until Jennifer reminded her that her mother was not an English professor like Alexis’s mother. Jennifer, like so many young people, grew up in a house without books; whereas Alexis already had a pretty extensive library by the time she entered high school. Not bragging, just telling a story.

Teach your children to read early and you will allow them to become life-long readers. And remember, never ever make fun of a child’s ability to read. Nothing could be more cruel or do more harm to a child’s self-esteem. Just ask anyone who has struggled with dyslexia or a learning disability.

I’ll stop now. Relenting my time on the soapbox. More later. Peace.

Just a note: I actually wrote this post on Thursday afternoon, but after writing about picking images for my posts, I froze. I could not, for the life of me, decide on any images that would be suitable for this post, with the exception of William Glackens’ painting “The Shoppers.” Probably should not have written anything about my creative process . . .

 

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

AWARD--Honest_Weblog_Award

Me? Seriously? You Shouldn’t Have But I’m Glad That You Did

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

This is a little late in coming, but I would like to thank Zirgar for bestowing upon me the Honest Weblog Award. I have been told by several people that one of the better qualities of my writing is its honesty; I know that I do write from my heart, which is not always a good thing, I realize, but it is my way of being true to myself. So many thanks Z and all of the other wonderful regular readers who stop by here to read and sometimes comment.

Chesapeake Bay
End of the Day, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

As we all know, no award comes without a few strings, and the Honest Weblog Award is no exception. Here are the rules: 

  1. You must brag about the award.
  2. You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to that blogger.
  3. You must choose a minimum of seven blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
  4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with the Honest Weblog Award.
  5. List at least ten honest things about yourself.

Then pass along the award with the above instructions.

Top Seven

So here are the blogs to which I have chosen to pass along the Honest Weblog Award. The blogs are listed in no particular order, and their content is as varied as their owners. I try to visit these blogs daily or as often as possible, and my interest in each of them is evidenced by the fact that you can find them listed under the different categories of blogrolls to the left of my site.

  1. White Orchid: This blog is written by one of my dear online friends, Maureen, who lives in Australia. Maureen’s blog covers a wide range of topics—family, friends, work, Australian politics, and much more. Maureen has a very loyal group of followers, and she is diligent about responding to comments and e-mails.
  2. Supersense: Written by Bruce M. Hood, the Director of the  Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol in England. Bruce recently published Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable, an incredible book that I found immensely enjoyable and informative (I promise that I’ll get around to posting my review soon). Part of what makes Bruce’s blog so interesting is the comment section: His regulars are a diverse bunch with very strong opinions.
  3. Floridana Alaskiana v2.5: This blog is written by Janson Jones, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. If you appreciate fine photography, then you definitely need to visit this blog. Janson, who recently celebrated the birth of his daughter Aurelia, fills his posts with beautiful images of landscapes, wildlife, and people. He also comments occasionally on political issues in which he is interested.
  4. Islamorada Florida by JJ
    Islamorada, Florida by Janson Jones
  5. My Sweetest Downfall: This pseudonymous blog is beautifully written by a woman with incredible wit and enough sarcasm to keep me entertained. She doesn’t post daily, but the content of her posts makes up for the wait between. I think that what I probably enjoy most about JaneyLynn’s blog is that I can totally relate to it, to the craziness of her life, and to her occasional funks.
  6. Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezins: Zirgar, who presented me with this award, describes his blog as “a place to vent and find catharsis.” Very left of center, Z takes on Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the whole Fox circus, as well as most far-right politicians and politicos. Be warned, he doesn’t censor himself, so if you are offended easily, then this isn’t the blog for you. That being said, I greatly enjoy his rants and screeds on closed-minded racists and bigots, as well as the regulars who comment on his posts. Very glad I found this particular blog, and many thanks again Zirgar for remembering me.
  7. Leaving Lilac Sky: Another pseudonymous blog written by a very talented poet. I have been following this writer’s blog for almost a year now. As with most poets, she has her dry spells, and then she goes into periods in which she is incredibly prolific, turning out a poem a day. A confessional poet, her poems deal with heart-rending emotions, but at the same time, she celebrates life.
  8. Willpen’s World: This is another blog that I have been following regularly since I began blogging last year. Another kindred political spirit, WP is not afraid to voice her opinions about the state of affairs in this country. Worth noting: Several of the blogs that I now read regularly I found through the comments section of WP’s blog.

A few honorable mentions: November Fifth (intelligent, articulate, and a college-level English prof), Really . . . Really . . . Seriously (music and movies), David Bridger (writer with a lot to say about writing, life, and lots of other things). There are a few other blogs that I read as much as possible, but these are the highlights.

Ten Honest Things About Myself

  1. I am hypersensitive, although I try very hard not to be. Just how sensitive I am depends upon the state of my life, which means that currently, I can tear up upon hearing a song or watcing a commercial.
  2. I believe in reincarnation. I know that this is not logical (Bruce), but it is something that I have felt very strongly about since I was very young. No, I was not Marie Antoinette, but my affinity for and knowledge of things that I don’t have a logical reason for knowing has to come from somewhere.
  3. I was a daddy’s girl. As an only child, I was spoiled, and my dad labeled me as a “Want-Whiney” when I was a little girl. If I am to be completely honest, the label still applies. 

    Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay
    Catamaran on the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
  4. I love to wear boots, long skirts and sweaters. I should probably live in a cooler climate as this is how I would clad myself everyday if I had somewhere to be.
  5. My biggest personal regret is not going for my doctorate in English.
  6. I am a collector: books, stuffed bears, boots, office supplies, and watches probably being the top five.
  7. I don’t do things half way. It’s either all in or nothing.
  8. I have become too much of a recluse in the past two years, and I really need to get out of the house more.
  9. I love words. I love to find new quotes by writers I have been reading for years. I love to find new writers. I love to put words together and push them around until I have created something of which I can be proud.
  10. I love the man who has been the biggest part of my life for the past 10 years unconditionally and completely, and my children are my joy. Never try to come between me and my family.

Okay, a couple of other tidbits: I am not afraid of spiders, but am terrified of snakes and centipedes. I love the colors red, black and purple. I really enjoy nature: backyard birding, mountains, waterfalls, and sunrises and sunsets. I am very insecure about the way that I look. I do not have tons of friends, rather, a select few. I love them and miss them every single day, and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for one of my friends.

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” ~ Lionel Hampton

So, gentle reader, this ends my conferring of the Honest Weblog Award upon some of my favorite online sites. I hope that you take the time to visit a few of these worthwhile and diverse sites.

More later. Peace.

Brutal Honesty in the face of Inane Lunacy

 We All Live In A Yellow Submarine

 We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine . . .

  

And our friends are all on board,

Many more of them live next door

To those of you who care, I know that I have been lax in my blogging of late. It comes from being a teenager and passing along teenage angst and teenage idiocy to said teenagers’ mumsy. That I can still string sentences together on the approaching graduation of elder son and end of the year IB work of younger son speaks volumes of my ability to have courage under fire.

That being said, I decided that I would dedicate my afternoon to catching up on reading my blogrolls as I have been waiting eagerly for new posts on some of my favorite blogs and haven’t had time to peruse them. What’s wonderful about belonging to a blogging community is that you get the chance to stay on top of things all over the world. For example, my friend in Australia not only writes about her life, but she also shares political and social information. One blog is by a researcher in the UK who is a newly-published author, and the conversations that ensue on his blog are always enlightening and simultaneously hilarious.

Of course, a visit to Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana made my day as he has been updating his blog with photographs of his recent trip to Florida. I plan to do a feature post on these beautiful images in a few days, but feel free to visit his blog and check out his masterful photographic skills.

Dropped by White Orchid where my lovely Australian friend has been updating everyone on the loss of her poor aunt and the travails of traveling to a funeral. Maureen’s writing is always so inviting that it’s as if we are sitting at the table together sharing a cup of tea.

And then I made the usual rounds to everyone else, but what really caught my interest today were the posts that I read on three of my favorite left-leaning political blogs: Willpen’s World, Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezin’s, and The Mudflats.

During the 08 election, I spent most of my time writing about political topics, especially the fractured logic that seems to rule the far right, but once Obama was elected and we took back the Senate, I have tried to go back to writing about various topics, from my dogs, to my kids, to photography, to poverty, with stops in between on important issues that I feel I must answer in some way. After reading several of today’s posts and articles, I decided that today was one of those days on which I needed to focus on issues that won’t go away and the people who continue to beat the carcass of the horse that has been on America’s front lawn for about three decades.

Perhaps the best theme for my post would be Ship of Fools, but I decided to use another one of my old favorites: The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”

And the band begins to play (cue horns)

Ultimately, I felt that I just had to do a Lola’s List of Brutally Honest Observations. Let the finger-pointing begin: 

Finger PointingLet me not beat around the bush about this: Rush Limbaugh is a racist, sexist, anti-abortion, far-right conservative Republican. However, that does not qualify him for the Supreme Court, no matter how much he spouts off about Obama’s nominee. Rush needs a gentle reminder that one must have a law degree at the very minimum to sit on the highest court in the land, and unfortunately, or in this case, fortunately, Rush failed ballroom dancing. 

Michele Bachmann (of the one l) is still running around the halls of the Capitol making outrageous claims about subjects of which she has absolutely no knowledge, or at least, not knowledge in the traditional sense (you know, book learning and knowing when to get out of the rain kind of knowledge).  I’m not even going to touch the fallacies in her pronouncements about carbon dioxide being a natural product of the earth (even though I could go on for pages about natural products of the earth that, while they are natural, are also harmful and deadly, like arsenic). My suggestion to the Minnesota Congresswoman is that she go buy herself about 10 more truckloads of Mountain Dew so that she can keep C-Span electrified with her stand-up routine. What’s that? She’s serious? No really? Really . . . Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Sarah Palin’s running mate in 2012. 

Bill O’Reilly . . . what can I say? For years the man carried on a personal war with Dr. George Tiller, the doctor who was recently murdered while serving as an usher at his church’s Sunday services, the doctor who was murdered by a fanatic, the likes of whom I will address my next remarks. But let’s get back to Bill, shall we? Over the years, O’Reilly has vilified Tiller with statements such as [Tiller] “destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000.” 

O’Reilly has also compared Tiller of being guilty of  “Nazi stuff” (June 8, 2005). The snarky pundit also said in June of 2007 that there was “No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands.” O’Reilly did not put the gun in Scott Roeder’s hands, but O’Reilly did mark George Tiller as “Tiller the Baby Killer” again and again and again. This self-serving spewer of vitriol bears the burden of placing a target on George Tiller’s chest.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
 

To Sean “The Manatee” Hannity I offer the following advice: Please go to an ENT sooner rather than later so that you can get your hearing checked. It’s just becoming a drinking game now to see how many times you can misconstrue the words on a television clip featuring President Obama or any other liberal. For example, on June 3 of this year, you had the stones to claim that President Obama called the U.S. a Muslim nation when he addressed representatives of the Turkish government on April 6. Here is what President Obama actually said as compared to your interpretation 

President Obama: If you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.

Sean Hannity: He honors the national day of prayer behind closed doors. Now, on his Middle East apology tour, the President calls the U.S. a “Muslim nation.”

President Obama: We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens, who are bound by ideals

Sean Hannity: The same president who insists the U.S. is not a Christian nation is now calling us a Muslim nation.

Really, it’s embarrassing just to mention your name any more, at least for me. I cannot do it without snorting my Pepsi up my nose and making a big mess all over my computer screen. 

A word on Nat Turner. Who is Nat Turner you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked that because I didn’t know about this fine human being until Starshine, a commenter on WillPen’s blog left a link to a Daily KOS article on Turner. Seems that Turner, a self-avowed white nationalist and white supremacist from North Bergen, New Jersey has been arrested for “asking his audience to kill two elected officials and an official from a regulatory agency.”  The article by Pavlov Dog reveals that Capitol police Chief Michael J. Fallon said that “Mr. Turner’s comments are above and beyond the threshold of free speech . . . He is inciting others through his website to commit acts of violence and has created fear and alarm. He should be held accountable for his conduct.” The offending comments? Get a load of this: 

“It is our intent to foment direct action against these individuals personally,” the blog stated. “These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die . . . If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they’re going to get uppity with us about this; I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down too.”  

You don’t say? That just warms the cockles of my heart. Except for the whole killing and putting people down with bulletss part. Unless I’m much mistaken, those are the words a terrorist would use, and let’s not soften it with the modifier domestic. A terrorist is a terrorist, and adding the word domestic does not alter that fact, nor does it make the rhetoric less sinister. Mr. Turner is exactly where he deserves to be. Good one on Chief Fallon.

And to be fair, I must not forget the Governator (yes, I do realize that Governator is what most people call Arnold Schwarzenegger; however, I have been calling Palin this since the election; you see, not matter what, she’ll be back). No matter how much I may want to ignore the aspiring presidential candidate and former beauty queen, I must not, for it seems that some on the far right side of sanity still regard her as charismatic, charming, and a real contender for 2012 (oh yes, pleez……….). The Mudflats had a glorious article on the Governator that I must share with you: “‘Screw Political Correctness.” Sarah Palin In Her Own Words.” Trust me, you do not want to miss this wonderfully insightful piece.

Sky of blue, and sea if green, in our yellow submarine

And now, since I have spent the better part of the evening consorting with the other side, I will cleanse my palate with an aperitif of the eloquent Keith Olbermann, whose insights are always spot on, especially when it comes to Rupert Murdoch’s gang:

 

 

As always, there will be more later. Peace.

I just wanted to say for the record that I have been trying to fix the screwed up formatting in this blog for the last four hours. I have no idea what I did, or how I did it, but everytime I read it, sentences are moved around, some starting in the middle, the first paragraph ending up after my signature. I don’t know what the hell was/is going on, the wine, the lack of carbon dioxide to my brain . . . whatever. Just let me know if things are seriously out of whack when you read it because I can’t look at it one more time.

“Most people do not consider dawn to be an attractive experience – unless they are still up.” ~ Ellen Goodman

woman-sleeping-by-sandor-liezen-mayer-1867 

 “Woman Sleeping” by Sándor Liezen-Mayer (1867)

“The worse thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s 5 a.m. Do you know where your good night’s sleep has gone?

sleeping-on-keyboardOkay, so it’s been one of those nights. I fell asleep relatively early for me, around 12:30, but then I woke up around 1:30 and haven’t been able to recapture the bliss of a good night’s sleep since. I finally decided at 5:30 to get up and make myself some tea and begin my day by reading some regular blogs. I also thought that if I went ahead and began today’s post that I might be able to lull myself to sleep with the rhythmic sound of the keyboard.

What I did achieve was waking up Corey around 5:45 who wanted to know what I was doing. Nothing. Go back to sleep. And he promptly did.

I hate nights like these. I dose for a few minutes, then toss and turn, but never manage to get into REM. I listened to the sound of the fan, the sound of the toads, the sound of the birds. I let the dogs out twice (they were very confused as they normally only go out once around 3 a.m.). The reality is that I haven’t actually slept through the night since Alexis was born, but I do know how to stumble out to the dining room to let the dogs out (Shakes initiates it) and then still go back to sleep.

Not this morning, though. There was no sleep for this woman. Of course, that didn’t keep Shakes from curling into my side and snoring loudly.

When I let the dogs out, it was lovely outside: cool air, the sounds of nearby birdsong drifting in. Of course, it’s supposed to get up to 91° today. With any luck, I’ll be able to sleep later this morning for little while at least.

I read a post on Maureen’s blog (White Orchid), and she’s getting snow. Of course, she’s in Australia, so her seasons are the opposite of our seasons. With 91° expected here, I think that I might actually enjoy some snow. It’s like I said, we just don’t get much of a spring, which is unfortunate because I love spring.

“For the economy I want workers and consumers to have control over their own economic lives. I want everyone to have fair conditions that fully utilize their talents and potentials.” ~ Michael Albert 

golden-books-tugboat
Classic Golden Book: Scuffy the Tugboat

That would be a nice change for him, for all of us, actually.  But I don’t want to get ahead of myself (ourselves?). Corey is being cautious as ever. Can’t say that I blame him though.

“With the changing economy, no one has lifetime employment. But community college provide lifetime employability.”  ~ Barack Obama

After all of my anticipation yesterday, I was too tired to watch Law & Order Criminal Intent. Good thing that it’s recorded. I had never planned to watch it live. I prefer to watch the recorded show so that I can speed through all of the commercials. In particular, all of the car commercials.

It seems that every car company in existence is offering incredible deals, which really bites when you need a car but cannot possibly purchase one. I was just reading that used car prices are down by about 17 percent, 9 percent since January of this year (Consumer Price Index). New car prices have dropped about 3 percent. Great for consumers, bad for car companies.

In fact, the article was discussing those things that have gotten cheaper versus those items that have gotten more expensive since last year. The price drops are pretty predictable: homes, cars, electronics, airfares, alternative energy, toys, and clothing. Prices are on the rise for food, medical care, prescription drugs, college tuition, gasoline, garbage collection (huh?), and beer (too funny) (http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/7-things-getting-cheaper-7-that-are-not.aspx?Gt1=33009?slide-number=1).

So let me get this straight. The things that we really need (except for beer) are getting more expensive. The things that we might like to have but don’t need to survive are getting less expensive. Makes perfect sense.

“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.” ~ Pindar

Now I have to take exception with another article that I read on MSN Money: “Gift Cards Are Not Gifts,” in which  the contention is that giving someone a gift card is a faux pas because gift cards are not truly gifts . I believe that this statement can be both true and false.(http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/FindDealsOnline/GiftCardsAreNotGifts.aspx)

rack-of-gift-cardsFor example, someone who doesn’t have a clue about shopping and doesn’t particularly care about personalizing usually relies on gift cards. This can be seen as being lazy, or it can be viewed as better than nothing, particularly when you know that the card came from one of those all-purpose gift card racks at a convenience store.

“Hey look. One-stop shopping, and I can get my beer, too.”

Getting a gift card from a significant other: big no-no. Reeks of ‘I asked someone to pick this up for me because I just didn’t want to take the time to put any thought into a special present for you.’ Can you imagine being presented with a gift card to a jewelry store instead of the jewelry? Ooh. Not good. Kind of like getting a toaster on Mother’s Day.

And let’s face it. What is a five-year-old going to do with a gift card? Get her a talking book so that she can learn to appreciate books from an early age.

However, I honestly believe that there are several situations in which buying a gift card for someone is better than buying a gift. Big example: teenagers. Try buying a shirt for a teenager. Chances are very good that unless said teenager was with you during purchase, the t-shirt will never be worn. You will receive a half-hearted thanks, and the t-shirt will be consigned to the never going to wear pile.

Buying a gift card for a teenager is truly akin to giving him or her money, but the gift card is more responsible. Money will be frittered away in the late-night drive through at McDonald’s or Taco Bell, but a gift card to a store that you know they like and can use is a different story. And trust me, a gift card from a favorite store will get you a big smile and a sincere thank you. If nothing else, a gift card from Target is multi-purpose: consider make-up, cd’s, dvd’s, doo-dads for the car . . . you get the picture.

Another instance when a gift card would be a good idea is you have an elderly person for whom you are buying. Consider a gift card to a grocery store or a gift certificate to a cleaning service or a service that does yard work or washes windows. Elderly relatives do not want another vase, nor do they really need a box of chocolates because chances are they are on some kind of regimented diet. But I advise the gift card to the grocery store with a caveat: offer to drive them. Then you can unload the groceries, and the gift card becomes more personal.

Another person who will appreciate a gift card is a bibliophile like myself. Personally, I would much rather have a gift card to Barnes & Noble than just about anything else from people who do not know me well. With that little piece of plastic in my hand, I can go to the bargain book shelves and peruse for hours, or I can purchase that new title that I’ve been anticipating.

A particularly good gift card for someone who is starting out in the workforce is a gas gift card. Chances are good that this person has not factored in the cost of commuting yet and will be surprised when the gas gauge begins to drift towards E faster than usual.

A good gift card for a co-worker is one for a restaurant that you know he or she likes, or, as in my case, to Starbucks. One year a sales rep gave me a gift card to Starbucks, and she made me happy for a week. If she had given me a box of imported cookies or chocolate, I would have felt compelled to share them and to eat them.

“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think, though, that that pretty much exhausts the justifiable situations for giving a gift card. In situations with immediate family members, I take a lot of time and care in selecting presents that are personalized. Sometimes I’ll buy a frame and insert one of my better photographs. My mother-in-law has received a few of these, and she really likes them.

Other good personalized presents include favorite things like gourmet hot chocolate mix for Eamonn, who can’t get enough of the stuff in the winter. Or socks, yes socks, for Brett, who seems to eat them because they disappear so fast. All of my children look forward to their package of new underwear and socks at Christmas. Go figure.

But really, it’s the presents that are made or bought with the heart that count the most. The first year that Corey and I were together, I made him a decorated journal. I used to do this for special occasions for people. I take a big blank journal, and then I paste in pictures that I have collected out of magazines, postcards, cards, quotes that I have typed, photographs—things that remind me of that person.

cigar-boxWhenever I come across an interesting-looking picture in a magazine, I’ll cut it out for future books, and I usually store my pictures in old cigar boxes, or if those are overflowing, I find larger decorated boxes, especially for the larger pictures. I have a lot of images from my collages stored in these boxes as well.

It’s actually a pretty labor intensive project, but it is so rewarding once I have finished it and given it to the person for whom I have made it.  I made one for my therapist when she had her first child. I made one for Alexis when she graduated from high school. I plan to make one each for Eamonn and Brett for their graduations. Presents such as these finished books cannot be found in any store, and, I hope, they reflect all of the love that I feel for that person. 

The bitter irony of this is that I began making my decorated books years before scrap booking was a verb in the lexicon of arts and crafts. My therapist asked me if I thought that there was money to be made in such an endeavor, and I told her that I didn’t really think so since the decorated journals were so personalized. Well, we all know how wrong I was about that. I could have been on the forefront of a new wave. Oh well. It’s really just as well. I probably couldn’t handle all of the fame.

On that note, more later. Peace.

Who knows the real you?

Truth Without Consequences

I’ve decided to take up Maureen J.’s challenge from White Orchid (http://maureenj.wordpress.com/). If you like, copy the post, and change the answers to fit your own profile.

Q: What is your favourite colour?

A: Red

Q: Where were you born?

A: Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Q: City mouse or country mouse?

A: Both

Q: If you could be anywhere else, where would that be?

A: Cayman Islands

Q: Favourite seasonal food?

A: Peaches

Q: If you could wave a magic wand, what would you do?

A: Stop the wars

Q: What one item do you not leave the house without?

A: Lip gloss

Q: Can you change a tyre?

A: Used to be able to 

Q: Worst holiday or trip you have ever taken?

A: First car trip to Ohio: got lost, snow, ice, ran out of gas 

Q: Something that you find effortless and comes naturally to you?

A: Writing

Q: Have you had your heart broken?

A: Yes. Many times. 

Q: Have you ever proposed, or been proposed to and how many times?

A: Never really been proposed to officially; just happened 

Q: Are you obsessive about anything?

A: Speaking and writing correctly

Q: Do you have any phobias?

A: Claustrophobia: crowds, and small, cramped elevators especially

Q: Most interesting country you have visited?

A: Morocco

Q: When are you happiest?miracle20mountain20images20069

A: When I am feeling truly loved

Q: Most exhilarating thing you have done?

A: Jumped naked off a rock into a clear pool of cool mountain water

Q: Situation in which you are least confident

A: Meeting new people for the first time

Q: You are:

A: Empathetic, kind-hearted, impatient, sarcastic, and a perfectionist

Q: Who knows the real you?

A: Corey and my daughter, Alexis

Q: What do you most dislike about yourself and try to hide?

A: The fact that I can be extremely emotional and vindictive if treated badly

Thanks Maureen for some new and different questions. More later. Peace.