Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Exploring other blogs

The more I do this, the more interesting it becomes to me. There are blogs I visit faithfully for politics and rants. There are blogs I visit faithfully because they provide a peaceful, serene oasis in the day. And there are blogs that focus on art; on food; you name it, it's out there.

Some people periodically recommend blogs. Others, like me, have a list on their sidebar. I explore their lists -- some lead to dead ends and others are just delightful.

What is the most delightful surprise you've encountered when exploring other blogs?

Okay, update. Alicia has a post about Marcy Winograd over at Last Left Before Hooterville. I mention this because a) Marcy needs our support, and b)Alicia has been my blogging mentor. Thanks, A!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Artist Retreats

In 1990 I had a month-long residency at The Vermont Studio Center. This came at a peculiar juncture in my life, about two years sober, and separating from my husband of 22 years. My work was large-scale, fairly confrontational portraiture based on old photos from the 1940s and 1950s. I used oil stick paints which accomplished two things -- heavily layered, painterly surfaces created out of the activity of drawing.

I will admit it: I love a painterly image. I love the texture of oil paint. I love the smell. I also love the way drawing feels. There is something so physical about drawing on a large scale that I love.

Over at Au fil du temps/As Time Goes By", Suzanne had a post about a book, Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn, which addresses the evolution of architecture in New England. After ordering the book, I thought heavily about that month in residency. My work since then has been quite sporadic, but I am suddenly in a place where my need to paint has taken root. It's like I'm awakening from a long hibernation. Painting, and photography, are beginning to rule my life again, and a feeling of anticipation is growing.

What triggers change in you? What are your dreams and what are your compromises?

How was your Weekend? Cross posted at My Left Wing

I spent the weekend participating in the Army Men Project with Kvatch's Kommandos. The deployment of plastic soldiers bearing tags saying "Bring Us Home From Iraq" among other statements is a small, intimate protest that invites people to pick the soldiers up. It is the least strident protest I've ever participated in, and it is elegant in its whimsical nature and use of an iconic toy.

And I spent the weekend with good friends, one of whom is a Viet Nam combat veteran, who is so articulate in his crticism of this administration. An intersting comment he made last night: he said that while the Iraq war is at a similar point to Viet Nam when Johnson turned the mess over to Nixon, the major difference is the body counts. Iraq has about the same number of troops deployed as we had in Viet Nam, but the deaths are not at the same numbers, and most of the deaths are not combat related -- they are murders caused by cowardly actions. He said that until the death toll in Iraq reaches the numbers of Viet Nam, public opinion will not change very much -- that we are essentially preaching to the converted when we talk amongst ourselves.

We also talked about the corruption of this government. We agree on so many levels except one: I believe we can be a voice for change and he believes we are at the end of the line. He's a cynic, I'm skeptical.

But I say this: we must never give up, never give up, never give up.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ellie Bean

My daughter called a little while ago to say hello. She was holding Ellie, who was happily chattering away, telling herself baby jokes and roaring with laughter. Ellie grabbed the phone, so I started to play "How big is Ellie? SO big." After a while, she gave the phone back to her mama. And then my daughter started to laugh -- Ellie was throwing her hands up in the air, her gesture for SO big. So then Ellie started to laugh. What a joy! She is the love of my life.

Cucumber/Yogurt Soup

One medium cucumber (from local farmers market)
Two cups home made yogurt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons vinegar (I use basalmic)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon fresh dill

Put it all in a blender, liquify, serve chilled. Makes two servings. Yum. Today's lunch between outings.

I try to avoid the mid-day sun, especially on days like today which are clear and warm. Was out early morning with some Kommando forays, and will go out again later for some meditative walks. The soup is staying home, but the key lime pie is ready to go to the barbeque.

Memorial Day

My son-in-law never knew his father. His father was MIA in Viet Nam, never found, eventually pronounced dead. His father's name is on the Viet Nam Wall in Washington DC. Before my daughter and son-in-law ever met, I visited the wall, and actually saw this man's name, and it struck me at the time, one more young man. The wall is a powerful statement to those of us who lived through that long national nightmare: a simple pair of long granite slabs with the names of our fallen soldiers etched into it, like a giant grave marker. We go to pay our respects to the dead, to the young men robbed of their lives because of an insane, illegal war.

There is only one way to honor the dead, and the LIVING veterans of Viet Nam, and that is to get our soldiers out of Iraq, to end this nightmare. Pay a visit to the Kommandos and post a memorial day action.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Good friends

Last night went to a barbeque at the home of two of my friends. The men cooked, and the best part -- the men cleaned up after dinner was over. This is of some significance for women and men of a certain age -- our experience was that women did all the cooking, cleaning and the men sat around shooting the shit about whatever manly men talked about. My friend's 21 year old nephew is visiting them for the weekend; he's just as nice a young man as you can imagine. He's great looking, too. He did most of the cleanup duties. We all offered to help, in fact, all the women thought we'd be sharing the duties -- if the men cooked, then we'd clean up. But this wasn't the case at all. We were waited on, and it was really quite sweet.

Four of us are not in relationships (I include the nephew and one of the men); one woman is in a long-distance relationship; and the couple whose house we were at have been together for quite some time. For me, divorced nearly 15 years and quite adept at getting involved with the wrong man, it was great to see a functional couple at work.

We talked, we told stories, we told jokes. We laughed. It was such a pleasant evening that bears mentioning because sometimes I think that conversation is a dying art form. We teased the nephew a lot, because he's great looking, and we're a bunch of dirty old women -- that was fun.

Laughter among friends has great restorative power. It makes me feel safe. I mean laughter at a deep level, belly laughs, laughs that take my breath away. It makes me feel connected.

We started talking about creating a food co-op for us -- I remembered the one I belonged to 30 years ago when my kids were babies. There were about 30 families in it and we took turns shopping for everyone once a week. Did that for about a year or two. We talked about creating our own "retirement" community although I know I will never be able to retire -- and we talked a lot about Viet Nam -- one of the men was a Nam Vet who gets compensation from the government because, as he puts it, it's the government's way of saying they were wrong to send these soldiers. That Viet Nam was wrong.

And that was our evening. How is your holiday weekend shaping up?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Gaviota Strawberries

First came upon them at the Santa Monica Farmers Market when I moved here. They are the most amazing berries -- sweet, delicate, juicy as can be. Usually I only buy a basket because they are so expensive, but today I bought a three pack, because I needed a lift. I don't parcel them out, either. They're too good. They can also be found at the Torrance Farmers Market, which is where I usually go.

Another variety I like is Seascape. They're firmer, not quite as sweet, and just have a delightful taste. They are particularly good with brown sugar and sour cream.

Growing up, I never liked strawberries or tomatoes. Grocery store fruit has no flavor, and that's what I grew up on. Right before I moved to Israel I was told that I would be eating a lot of tomatoes -- and first night on the Kibbutz, at the dinner tables, were nothing but tomatoes, cucumbers, cottage cheese, bread, and onions. I sat waiting for a hot meal, and someone told me this was it. I broke down and tasted a tomato, and have never looked back.

There is something indescribable about eating food fresh picked, without hormones, and with the taste of the sun still in it. That tomato was incredible. The berries I purchased are incredible. The more we grow our own, in small quantities, the better we all are. We've sacrificed way too much for simple convenience.

Holiday weekend blues

Not sure what this is all about, but woke up in a real funk today. Started coming on yesterday, no discernable reason behind it. Just feeling blue. Cyclical depression runs in my family, and I've struggled with it off and on my entire life; so history tells me that it will pass but man, when I'm in it, I'm in it.

Solution #1: I got out of bed.
Solution #2: Will go to the farmers market; then I have to meet a new client despite it being a day off.
Solution #3: Will go to a movie -- something light and fluffy -- with friends.

My point is that I have to keep in motion, and not isolated, or I will cave under the weight.

Sometimes, when I read about the world in chaos, it filters into me at such depth. I internalize it -- like I have the power to stop earthquakes in Indonesia. This is absolute insanity, of course, but I entertain a bizarre sense of hyper-responsibility. Not as bad as it used to be, thank god, but that's a bit of what's going on today -- I feel like I should DO something about everything. I can't. It helps to laugh at this kind of thinking. I wonder if anyone else goes to this sort of insanity?

But today's news included an article in the NY Times about Bear Hunting Caught in Global Warming Debate; and then another about the 6.2 quake in Indonesia that has left thousands dead and injured, while Mount Merapi gets more active since the quake. And last night, I watched again Enron-The Smartest Guys In The Room in honor of the conviction of Skilling & Lay.

And a good friend was in a car accident yesterday, seriously injured her back, in hospital in Chattanoga. Small wonder I'm in a funk today.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The power of grassroots organizing

Starting today, the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend, many of us in the blogosphere will begin to deploy toy soldiers as part of a war against war. These soldiers will be tagged with a variety of anti-Iraq war slogans.

This peaceful protest is intimate, and designed to get into people's hearts and minds. Because it isn't strident, angry shouting, because it is muted, it becomes more eloquent. The whimsy of using toy soldiers is poignent at a deep level, because most of the soldiers who are deployed in Iraq, or who will be deployed to Iran if the Bush Administration plows forward, are children who have barely begun their lives. Too many are coming home with limbs missing; too many have come home in body bags.

Like Viet Nam, the soldiers are not the enemy. The administration run amok is the enemy. Many of our Viet Nam veterans continue to suffer from severe mental anguish. I hear stories from men I know who served; my son-in-law never knew his father who was MIA in Nam, and whose name is on the Wall in Washington.

Please join us. Deploy troops. Bring our young soldiers home.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

more container gardening

I cut some of my baby lettuces for a salad tonight -- oh, it was tasty. They're small, and great fresh flavor, not from a grocery store, just yummy. With some pignola, dried cranberries, goat cheese, and rasberry vinagrette -- just as simple a salad as it gets, and it made me so happy. Simple things, really. Also noticed my container tomaters have buds! I'm just stoked!

What's the best thing in your garden?

The Imperial Presidency

The right wing zealots who make up the Bush Administration capitalize on the most effective weapon there is: fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of a vague, shapeless concept that has put good people into a walking comatose condition. The press, Congress, and good American citizens has surrendered piece-by-piece our civil liberties to a point where it might be too late. Jim Hightower writes about this Orwellian nightmare saying "Since the founding of America, a central tenet of our liberty has been that the military is not to be turned on our own people. Violations of this guiding rule have occurred in the past, but rarely and only temporarily, and when it's been violated, public outcry has forced the reinstatement of the rule.

Bush & Co., however, has not only turned loose the military to spy extensively on the American people, but has also asserted the right to do so in perpetuity. Its claim is that 9/11 turned the homeland into a foreign battlefield, so the nation's historic prohibition against military surveillance of Americans is null and void. And since this war on terrorists has no end ("the long war," Rumsfeld calls it), the Bushites maintain that the Pentagon can engage in domestic spying ad infinitum."

Those of us opposed to the administration's illegal activities are branded "pacifists" and, by extension, traitors. We are spied upon. Our phone calls are monitored. We are silenced. But as American citizens, we have an obligation to stop this insanity. Wake up, America. Stand up, be counted, take back our country!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth is opening over the next few weeks. This film (and Gore) are being attacked by Fox News (now that's an oxymoron).
Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, compares Al Gore to Nazi Propoganda Director Joseph Goebbels, and the film to Nazi propoganda films. Of course, The National Center for Policy Analysis has received $390,000 from ExxonMobil since 1989, but hey, what's a few hundred thousand dollars among friends? I'm just sayin.

In August 2000, I was part of a 1500 person fundraising bicycle ride from Fairbanks to Anchorage -- the Alaska Aids Vaccine Ride. There were 1500 riders, and a lot of support people -- the people who fed us and provided the shower trucks do this for major events, and disaster relief. They set up temporary camps after Hurricane Andrew, in Florida, years ago. Anyway, it was a complex event, in ALASKA, and so off I went, me, my bicycle, and 1500 of my best friends.

One night we camped on boulders. There wasn't a patch of dirt anywhere.

Gulkana Glacier was nearby -- looked to be about a football field away (more on that in a minute) and what we were camping on is the debris left when glaciers retreat. Now, at our campsites, we had local Native Alaskans who would set up sweat lodges, and would smudge us as we'd ride out. I was speaking to this one man, who told me that the glacier I thought was so close was actually two miles away from us. It had retreated two miles in less than 20 years. He said that it takes 200 years of constant snow to compress to create one inch of glacier, but less than 20 years to cause that much melt.

On day five, a lot of the conversations with local people was about the glaciers. The word is that within 50 years, all the Alaska glaciers will be gone. Global warming is causing them to retreat, to melt, at an alarming rate.

Mr. Gore's film is essential viewing, but action is more essential. A friend said to me she thought we needed to drill in the Artic Wildlife Refuge so we could end our dependence on foreign oil. I said not at all -- we need to end our dependence on any fossil fuel, and develop sustainable sources of energy -- wind, water, ethanol, for example. But we may have passed the tipping point.

I recently purchased a Civic Hybrid -- it is fuel efficient, and it's cute. It's not perfect but it beats the pants off those obnoxious 2 MPG Hummers I see. Tell me this: why did I have to pay OVER sticker for something that's fuel efficient?

Your secret other life?

There's a new cooking school in Brisbane, Queensland Australia -- intensive hands on classes in a really great small city. Focus coming up is all on winter foods, since seasons are reversed from us -- and it just has an appeal to me right now that defies description.

Have had a running joke with several women I know in the travel business -- we're all long-timers, with a focus on the South Pacific -- anyway, when business gets so intense we feel like our hair is on fire, I suggest we need to open our own bakery and call it A Bunch of Burnt Out Broads. Focus on all things chocolate. It has been one of those weeks, as we've upgraded some of our systems, and that wrecks havoc for a while. But my secret other life is to open my bakery.

I wonder what your way out is -- when things become too intense in your working life, what is your secret other life?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Republican has converted parties

A friend of mine has been a Republican all her life: her parents were Republican; her brothers were Republican; she just always did what her family did. And she has preferred to not "get involved" -- her choice has been to remain in a secluded bubble. Over the last five years she's listened to me, and watched my responses to issues, and asked a lot of questions. A lot of questions.

We meet for dinner on Tuesdays and tonight she said "I think I'm switching parties to be a Democrat. Have you heard about Al Gore's documentary?" I was so happy to hear this, so I told her about the
  • Army Men Project

  • -- she got so excited, she started to suggest locations, and ideas for slogans ("I want to see my family again" was particularly good). Then she said she'd like to put some of her own soldiers around. From asleep Republican to quiet activism. What a good day!

    Marcy Winograd for Congress -- Volunteers needed

    Went last night to a meeting in San Pedro. This is an area with a fledgling Democratic Party Club, and the organization in San Pedro is at its weakest. Other parts of the district have a good supply of workers, but this part of the district needs help, particularly with phone banking.

    People are excited about Marcy, because she presents a true choice: she's a real Democrat, in the tradition of Bobby Kennedy. She's against the war; she's opposed to the violations of civil liberties that have been sanctioned by the Patriot Act (a misnomer if there ever was one.) The money that's being spent on the war needs to go to education, healthcare, job training and the environment; Marcy Winograd will work to those goals.

    Jane Harman is outspending Marcy Winograd. And some of what she's doing is incredibly dispicable. Jane Harman voted for the Iraq War & Occupation; her current ads on Cable say she opposed it. Jane Harman voted FOR the Patriot Act THREE TIMES; her current ads say she opposed it. She voted to militarize space with nuclear weapons; she voted to lock people up indefinitely without charging them of a crime, nor allowing them to talk with a lawyer; she willingly kept Bush's secret about illegal wiretaps, then denounced those who told us the truth -- and again, her ads on television say she's always been an opponent of illegal wiretapping.

    Every letter I've sent Jane Harman against the war, against the Patriot Act, any of these topics, has been responded to with a paternalistic (yes, paternalistic) justification of why she's voting with the Republicans. She's got to be held accountable and Marcy Winograd is the right person to do that. She needs your help. If you are interested in doing some phone banking, or even walking a precinct, or are available election day, email me and I'll get you the details.

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Kommandos project

    The Kommandos Project

    The woman who is behind this movement, Sallie Gratch, is a resident of a Chicago suburb, and someone I knew years ago. One more time I am reminded of how truly connected we all are, and out of that connection, we have an obligation to work for peace.

    Put your soldiers in as many places you can think of!

    more on the fired clients

    They feel like a bad penny that just won't go away. ANOTHER call from the accounting firm, seems they insist they've got tickets for reissue. They told the accounting assistant that they could re-use several tickets that they already used; others that I refunded; this is the fourth time this woman and I have had the same conversation.

    It annoys me, I'm glad I'm done with them, but this is starting to make me physically ill again. Constant barrages of the same question over and over; answered, and documented. These people accused me of putting them in a hotel they hated BEFORE THEY WERE MY CLIENTS. They're fundamentally dishonest, and what I observe with dishonest people is that they keep accusing other people of ripping them off, or of somehow doing the very wrong doing they do themselves.

    Sounds like the Decider and his crew.

    Sunday, May 21, 2006

    Sunday morning

    My container tomatoes are doing nicely; my container lettuces are growing well; my Spanish Lavender is wild and crazy. But my yellow mini-roses have shriveled and died. The red mini-roses are not doing so well either. I think I might have to go to native California plants for those two containers -- Jade plant, another succulent -- because roses are too hard. I don't think peonies would do well in containers, too bad. The Fat Lady Sings had an amazing post about her peonies a few days ago which reminded me of the ones I grew up with.

    My father loved to garden. He was so proud of his garden, and we had some amazing things in our yard in Chicago. We had a peach tree that bore the hardest, most un-ripened peaches you could ever imagine. I mean those suckers never got sweet. We had an apple tree that produced green apples that made the best applesauce and the best apple pie, but god forbid you should eat them off the tree lest your mouth invert from how sour they were. We had a wild plum tree that grew wee little plums that were so sweet and tasty, but drew all kinds of birds who got most of them.

    And we had peonies. Those were amazing. They were so fragrent, and gorgeous. He grew white ones, red ones, pink ones. There were about a dozen in our front yard, more along the sides of the house and more in the back yard. They were his pride and joy. My mother would cut them, leave bunches on the porch until the ants crawled away and then bring the open blooms into the house.

    We had lilacs. Bushes of lilacs. I miss lilacs and peonies intensely. We had gorgeous yellow forsythia -- gorgeous.

    But we never had a vegetable garden growing up. My mother thought that wasn't very modern. She was big into canned and frozen veggies. It's a wonder we survived her cooking, to tell the truth. She used to make this thing that I called "grey meat" which was really brisket. Oh, my god. Not quite as bad as Aunt Della's second day spagetti, but I digress.

    We also had a paperbark birch tree in our front yard which grew from a small thing to a towering tree. These are midwest memories, but in California, in a condo with a balcony, I do my best to have my own little garden and it makes me happy.

    Happy even if the roses fail. I can still get my hands in the dirt, and I can still make my attempts. It's all about the effort, sometimes.

    Kommandos Project

    Memorial day is getting closer, and the growing groundswell that is the Kommandos Project is attracting attention. Everyone I tell about it thinks it is a great project because of the intimacy of it. This is not a strident, "in your face" protest. This is a serious plea to integrity: bring our soldiers home from this immoral, illegal war.

    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    Brolga Dreaming

    This is the camping trip I went on with Bill Harney. I'm on the far right, hat on for protection from intense sun, marked with sacred ochre on my arm because we are at Moon Lady Dreaming, a womans business site.

    So many Dreamtime stories, but Suzanne from Au fil du temps-As time goes by sent me a link to
  • Brolga Dreaming
  • and here's information about
  • the Brolga today

  • I only wish you could hear Bill Harney tell this story. He's a short, compact man, about 73 years old, and he has a funny little voice. He speaks several languages (5 different Aboriginal languages, Italian, English, and I believe some German and French), he's an author, he's an award winning artist, but mostly he's Yidumduma Bill Harney (or Bi'larney) and I adore him.

    He talks about the Dreamtime, and Still. Dreamtime is when the earth was fluid, and Still is when everything stopped and became solid. Now is still.

    He says that the Dreamtime is not when we lay our heads down to go to sleep -- that's dreamtime. The Dreamtime is an active wide awake time when everything was liquid, fluid. Everything, everyone, was in human form and they sang the world into existance.

    At one time, there were over 1000 Aboriginal language groups in Australia -- now, less than 300 survive. Bill says that the Aboriginies are the keepers of the land, and when they are gone, the earth will die. He points to global warming, he points to the Tsunami, or Katrina, and says that Rainbow (rainbow serpent) is getting mad.

    Rainbow Serpent is the creative life force, and his dreaming is all water courses -- oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, and he gave birth to people, animals, birds, fish, reptiles, all living things. He has a terrible temper, and must not be disturbed. When Rainbow gets mad (when we harm our host, our land) he retaliates by great slapping of his tail.

    Raping wetlands by overbuilding; poisoning the air with dangerous chemical emmissions; needless wars; destroying natural resources -- all this makes Rainbow angry.

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    Bill Harney

    Bill Harney is the senior elder of the Wardaman People in the Victoria River Gorge region of The Northern Territory of Australia. He's an artist, master didgeridoo player, story teller, author, cattleman, entrepreneur, and keeper of the laws for his people. My camping trip with Bill was an extraordinary experience.

    We all bought paintings from him -- I asked for Brolga Dreaming because the story about Brolga spoke to me deeply on our trip. Brolga is about a young girl who goes to a sacred ground and transforms from human to Brolga. It's the original Swan Lake. It's about transformation, about restoration, about spirit.

    This image is not the one Bill made for me, but it is similar in style. I put it here for me to remember, and I think I may just put it on a sidebar too.

    Kvatch's Kommandos

    The growing list of Kommandos for the Memorial Day Weekend action warms my heart. I like this inventive form of protest -- it is simple, it is intriguing, and it is designed to get people to look. Since it is a small scale, people have to get up close to the soldiers to see what the banners say. It is designed to bring people in on an intimate, thoughtful level without being "in their face."

    The choices for the banners are all direct messages. I'm happy to be a Kommando.


    One of the reasons I love working in the travel industry is that I meet so many incredible people. Yesterday's conference is a case in point. All these New Zealand suppliers come to Los Angeles for two conferences -- yesterday's was for travel agents; the weekend's is for travel wholesalers.

    Among the travel agents, there's a group of five women who became fast, close friends on a camping trip in a remote area of the Northern Territory of Australia two years ago. We all were acquainted with each other, cordial, but it was exclusively a professional relationship. Four of us served on an advisory board.

    We got wind of this camping trip into the NT with an Aboriginal Elder who was working with a filmmaker in order to document the rock art sites in his land -- he wants to preserve the stories and law for the younger generation. Complex story, but the short one is that there is no middle generation to teach the law to the young people in his language group. The middle generation didn't grow up on the land, had no access to ceremony; now they have their land, and the old people are dying out -- so it's urgent.

    So the deal is that the five of us, all middle-aged women, unused to camping, decided this was a once in a lifetime experience and I said "I could really get my heart around this one" -- so we signed up. (We are women who think that camping is anything below a Holiday Inn. Another agent, not joining us, started calling us the Divas Downunder -- hence, Diva Jood)

    It was incredible -- and out of this grew a close knit group of friends. Not just the five of us, but my friends in Australia -- and New Zealand -- all good people, all smart, with integrity and ethics. Kind people.

    Yes, I love to travel. Yes, I love to create vacations for other people. But there is an expression in Maori that translates: What are the most important things in life? The People, the people, the people.

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    It can happen here

    Steven D has a strong commentery at My Left Wing: Forever War and The New American Police State is a chilling observation of what's happening here.

    I'm off to Kiwi Link today, an all-day conference for New Zealand Travel Specialists. I'd consider moving there in a heartbeat.

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    Where's my tin foil hat?

    My email was down for the last two days. It was very strange -- and yesterday I was beginning to think that it was a systematic government action to spy on us. The outage covered much of California and Arizona, which is why I began to think in terms of government spying; had it just been limited to me, I would be cranky rather than suspicious. But it's back up and running today.

    But this lead me to consider all the ways we're overly connected:

    Video games; game boys -- great training for future fighter pilots for our armed forces. Not only do they make young children adept with their thumbs, they desensitize kids to the act of killing by oversaturation. Besides, in the games, they just re-set and kill again. Isn't that just like life?

    Cell phones keep us connected 24/7. I regularly see couples at restaurants seated together, both on cell phones, neither one with the other. Something better is always going on somewhere else -- otherwise, they'd be talking to each other. Teenage girls, walking down the street, three abreast, each chattering away on their cell phone. Nobody has the capacity to be with anybody else, it seems. Small wonder we feel isolated.

    Email. Well. I can't remember what a real letter feels like -- and I'm one of the email addicts of the world. It's instant. Sometimes I email rather than use the phone.

    iPods and MP3 players -- we never have to listen to the world around us; we never have to listen to our own thoughts.

    We have an oversaturation of information; twenty-four hour a day television; we sacrifice imagination for technology, for entertainment. I read an article about how children should not watch television before the age of two, because they can't process the quick cuts, the fast influx of images. The article said television is a major contributor to ADD and hyperactivity -- that it is short-circuiting the wiring in kids' brains.

    I'm connected again, and I wonder about it. There are days when I would like to sell my condo, move to a big old patch of land, and live off it. But not today. Today I'm reconnected.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Blognonymous: Kvatch's Kommandos - A Big Day of Protest

    Blognonymous: Kvatch's Kommandos - A Big Day of Protest

    It's a peaceful way to ask to bring our soldiers home.

    Yoga Korunta: Tuesday's Word: betray

    Yoga Korunta: Tuesday's Word: betray

    The grand tragedy is that Bush was never elected. He staged a bloodless coup in 2000.

    email is down

    It's the strangest thing. How did we ever live without email and cell phones? My email has been down since yesterday, and they have no idea when it will be fixed. Outage is in California and Arizona. I feel isolated, and in reality that's far from the truth.

    But it begs the question: are we too connected? Cell phones; instant messageing; email; text messaging -- we're never out of touch. We have very little down time, very little time to listen to the silence between thoughts.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Wander lust

    We owe to our first journeys the discovery that place is nothing. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern Fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical fact that I fled from.Ralph Waldo Emerson

    It is essential to be in the moment when I travel; otherwise I lose the journey, I lose the immediacy of whatever is unfolding in front of me. Yesterday I ordered a new camera so that I can know how to use it before I go to Bhutan in the fall. But I can hide behind a camera too -- and lose the moment. I love to travel; my bags can be backed in ten minutes, my passport is always ready; but wherever I go, there I am. I have no expectations; I know very little about Bhutan other than its location. It is a small kingdom that has strict limitations on tourism, but it is building a new tourism infrastructure including luxury hotels. My guide is a lovely, cheerful Bhuddist who is a bird expert. I'll be there for a festival, a religious festival. My guide says that every week there are festivals, and then he laughs.

    But I have forms to fill out, and that has to be done this week, so I'm thinking about the baggage I take with me that will keep me out of the moment.

    Two years ago I was in South Africa with another person, who could only talk about the upcoming November election. We were both voting for Kerry, it was October, we were in South Africa, and all she could talk about was the election. We were so out of the moment, it was making me crazy. At one hotel, we were walking along a path, surrounded by zebra and monkeys, but she was talking about Bush. There was NOTHING we could do about the election at that moment. NOTHING. There were zebra so close I could have touched one (and risked being kicked, mind you. As gorgeous as they are, they have nasty dispositions. These were not tame, not pets, they were walking through the hotel grounds because the hotel was in their territory.) I haven't spoken to this person in two years, just exhausted by her inability to be where we were.

    But I have to remember this when I travel to Bhutan. I can find other ways to take me out of the moment. Fear of the unknown is a big one. Of course, if I chew on this trip now, I can miss what's in front of me today. So the goal: To be in today.

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    There's no place like home (and nobody's spared)

    The Wizard of Oz, revised

    The Beltway Wizard by Walt Handelsman

    Happy Mothers Day

    Sunday is yougurt making day for me. Both kids live out of state, so I won't see them. Spoke to my daughter several times yesterday: my gorgeous genius granddaughter spoke her first word in English in context -- mama -- yesterday. The rest of the day was her wonderful made up language in her sweet voice. But mama has been added to her vocabulary, and she uses it well.

    So the day for me is puttering, nothing major, but will make my yougurt which is really good.

    Saw nothing in the NY Times or LA Times about Rove today, but the LA Times has a wonderful editorial about Why Karl Rove needs Nancy Pelosi which talks about the misdirection and obfuscation this madministration practices to keep away from the truth.

    Happy mothers day.

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Rove NOT indicted just in time for Mothers Day

    according to truthout's Jason Leopold, Karl Rove is going down down down. I do believe in God.

    But as of today, May 19th, Marc Ash of Truthout has issued a partial apology because no indictment has come down. WTF?

    Saturday Container Gardening

    My lettuce is doing so well, I'm excited to know I will have home grown salad. Tomato plants are liking their containers, and will be mildly scented by basil in the same pot. My Spanish Lavender is as happy as a plant can be, it's just wild, huge and gorgeous. My mini-roses are a challenge. The yellow one seems half dead, the other half is sprouting buds. The red one is just, well, there. I'm unsure what to do next.

    After a six day work week, I have a full weekend of nothing -- well, not nothing, but nothing but leisure activities ahead. Okay, so I will do laundry and clean my house, but I will not be answering phones at work. I will putter in my container garden, take a hike, be outside. I love a good weekend!

    And over at Blanton's & Ashton's there's a post about Karl Rove's probable indictment next week. One can always hope.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Mother's day gift from my daughter

    My daughter & son-in-law, and the gorgeous genius grandbaby Miss Ellie Bean, live in Chicago. It's good news/bad news -- bad news is distance, good news is weather (yes, I'm serious. California winters are not Chicago winters.) Anyway, she sent the funniest, silliest little gift to me for Mothers Day: pyjamas! The pattern is Queen Mother -- but the really funny part is that enclosed was a "do not disturb" sign -- and I live alone.

    When I get home during the week, I love to get out of my work clothes, put on my jammies, and chill out. I mean, it's just one of my favorite ways to unwind. Is that strange? Whatever. I love this little gift, it's just so enjoyable.

    Last year, she sent me a gift card for a day spa in Los Angeles -- which was incredible, but once it's over, it's over. These jammies will let me connect with her all the time.

    Beautiful paintings

    I have no idea what she's saying as I don't speak or read French well enough; but I do know what these paintings Échange transatlantique II are saying. The bottom one in particular shows an exquisite use of light.

    The top painting, Mont Vesuve vu de Torre dell'Annunziata près de Naples, has an almost Japanese feel to it. There's a softness to the image (at least as displayed by my computer) that probably indicates very thin use of of paint -- I don't see any evidence of scumbling, but I could be wrong. It's oil on paper, probably thin washes. It's gorgeous.

    The middle painting, Schroon Mountain, Adirondacks, is by Thomas Cole and it has a boldness to it that makes my heart sing. He's painted this with authority, it's a wonderful image.

    But the bottom one, Le temps est à l'orage, lac Memphrémagog, just makes me gasp in awe. Just an incredible use of light.

    Years ago I was at The Vermont Studio Center, on a month long fellowship. I was the lone figure/portrait painter among landscape artists. One day toward the end of the month, a couple of them dragged me out to do some Pleine Air painting. My god, it's hard work -- so many choices! SO many choices. Clearly the above artists knew how to make those choices.

    Bush, the NSA and our lovely Phone companies

    Yesterday we found out that the three biggies, Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth are helping the government compile call information on millions of American citizens, both consumers and businesses.

    President Bush told reporters “we’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans,” but that’s simply not true. Although the Bush administration claims they're only directing this illegal spying at terror suspects or international calls, that's simply not true. The government is tracking the calls and communications of millions of ordinary Americans with the help of the phone companies. Another fine example of this administration's blatant disregard for our Constitution and our civil liberties. Take action now!

    From an editorial in today's New York Times: "What we have here is a clandestine surveillance program of enormous size, which is being operated by members of the administration who are subject to no limits or scrutiny beyond what they deem to impose on one another. If the White House had gotten its way, the program would have run secretly until the war on terror ended — that is, forever."

    One more time we're seeing an example of how we've become like George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and "Ignorance is strength."

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Work -- do you love what you do?

    Went to a function last night after work with one of our Luxury Cruise partners -- it was for top producing travel agencies, with over $1M in sales for the line. Very swank, very lovely. Four of us from the office: the owner of the agency, and the three top agents. Now, I love what I do: creating vacations for people, which is a fine balance between fulfilling dreams and sales, is actually creative and fun. I'm lucky that I don't do a lot of the "sun destination" packages; I do all complex kinds of things, and I focus on adventure, exotic destinations, South Pacific, Africa, South America, and luxury and adventure cruises. My job is to make people happy, to give people their dream. It's sometimes a form of psycho-therapy; sometimes it's drudgery; sometimes we get assholes like the clients I fired after five years. But then we get the honeymooners who are all starry-eyed, or this brother/sister -- he's been off fighting terrorists, and she's here in the states, and they're meeting for a two week holiday in a lovely destination.

    And the lovely part of my work is that I've been able to live one of my passions! I love to travel. And I've been able to do so, I've been able to go to some extraordinary places, do incredible things, all because of my job. Now, I admit to having a fantasy job: in my dreams I am an anthropologist, (skipping all the hard school part) and I am documenting exotic cultures, making an award winning film about some lost culture. In a way, I think I'm living that dream.

    So I wonder: how many of us really love what they do? What are your jobs, and do you love your work? Would you change? Do you have a fantasy job? Are you living your dream? (Alicia, I know you are!)

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    With friends like these...

    What is wrong with these Democrats? Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Helpful Democrats run to Bush's rescue

    The language of the Right Wing

    There's a fantastic diary by thereisnospoon over at My Left Wing that addresses why we continue to lose elections -- it's all about focus and language. You can read Why the Right-Wing Gets It--and Why Dems Don't here. It does come back to focus and language. If we don't get a handle on how to reach the heart of our base, we're going to fail.

    I'm thinking again about something Blue Gal posted -- that we are the intellectuals and our country has a history of dismissing intellectuals. We do. The language of the Liberals, Progressives, and Left Wing is always at a higher level. ALWAYS. But when we take our language to an impovershed worker, barely earning minimum wage, no education, our $5.00 words are perceived as arrogant and distant. We may have the program that's going to get this person out of the hole, but we have evoked fear.

    The Right Wing approaches this same worker with a paternalistic attitude -- using simple language, treating him as a child -- and appeals to his fears that someone OTHER is getting his fair share; his kids can't go to public school because those Liberal Pinkos are taking up needed tax dollars to send their kids to Private School. Fear.

    Health Care, same kind of deal. Familys. You name it, we've got the solutions, but they've got the focus and language.

    We need to change this now, or even with a 31% approval rating, the Radical Right will continue to hold power.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    S.1955 jeopardizes health care for workers 50+

    This bill, if passed, will undermine necessary coverage for diabetes education and supplies, and coverage for cancer screening as a routine part of health maintenance. It will also make it difficult for seniors to get health coverage, or to even get jobs.

    AARP, The American Cancer Society, and The American Diabetes Association oppose this bill. It comes up for a vote this week. Please contact your Senators and urge them to vote no.,0,6821511.column?page=1

    Knock Knock: Be vewwwwy quiet

    Knock Knock: Be vewwwwy quiet

    Thanks to Peacechick Mary! Had no idea these guys were related.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Blue Gal's post "Can't a Blogger Get a Little Respect Around Here?"

    Blue Gal has a post about the evolving Left Wing Blogosphere worth reading, and commenting on. She's cross posted it on Daily Kos in the Diaries, as well. It's an incredible post, and I would link it if I knew how.

    The Hebrew words Tikkun Olam mean to heal the world. That's our job. The blogosphere connects like minded people who otherwise would never have met. NEVER.

    I'm relatively new to blogging. I don't know how to link a post back to my blog. I don't know how to create a hyper-link within a post -- still, my own experience is this: I moved to Los Angeles five years ago from Chicago. In Chicago, I was a left-winger among liberals, I had a voice, I had a community of friends who thought, who read, who were the artists, intellectuals, the teachers, the activists. Los Angeles has been something of a desert for me -- the people who embraced me, while lovely people, are very shallow and, sadly, right of center. Not fascists, mind you, but we just can't talk about much other than who will be voted off American Idol.

    And then I got an email from Alicia about her session on the Living With War CD -- and suddenly, there's a huge world of left wing bloggers. People who are activists, who give their heart and soul to healing the world. In the blink of an eye, I've made connection with like-minded people.

    Still, I'm fairly intimidated by many blogs, and bloggers. I'm older (close to 60), and oddly shy. But I will keep posting, I will be active in my own attempts to change the minds of my Republican friends, I will do what I can to heal the world.

    May 15th and the Senior Tax

    This obscene deadline is fast approaching -- any seniors who've not signed up for the unfathomable Medicare plan will be penalized for life under the Bush Administration's guidelines. Every real Democrat in House and Senate opposes the plan, but fat lot of good that will do.

    There is something truly obscene about the thinking of this administration. They have an arrogant and casual disregard for human dignity. They have an arrogant and casual disregard to the delicate balance of nature and contribute actively to the destruction of this balance. They have an arrogant and casual disregard for human life in their blind pursuit of control of foreign oil and their own personal greed.

    We really stand at a tipping point, and most Americans are asking how we got here. We got here because we tend to abdicate responsibility in favor of watching "reality" television. Our addiction to being entertained at all times means we don't have to read, we don't have to think, we become numb and asleep and one day we wake up at the brink of real disaster and say WTF?

    Still, I retain hope that those of us who oppose this administration are making our voices heard. Dinner on Saturday with dear friends -- a gay couple who live in a hotbed of Republicanism, Orange County -- and one of them is a lawyer and Republican (I tease him that being Gay and Republican is an oxymoron) -- anyway, he's no longer a Bush supporter, and is quite concerned about what's going on.

    Another friend, a woman who is Republican only because her parents were (she's 65 years old!) said to me on Sept. 11, 2001 "We've got the right man for the job, don't you think?" -- I was horrified, having just lost a good friend on AA11; I said "absolutely not". Anyway, now she's so frustrated by Medicare; she's so appalled by the Iraq war, the lies, and the probability we'll invade Iran as well that she no longer supports Bush.

    Two small examples of change. I retain hope.


    I had to work Sunday because we had an ad with one of the cruise lines -- and I'm one of the cruise specialists. It's good news/bad news but it eats into the weekend and it makes for a long week. Even though its a short day, it just keeps me inside, at the phone, at the desk. It was productive in terms of work -- some decent bookings, some nice clients -- one guy started to complain about the high price of gasoline in his area, and blaming the Republicans -- but while at work, I can't get into it.

    When I closed up, I went to Whole Foods, picked up some things, drove the 30 miles home, and just turned into a vegetable.

    C-Span is running streaming video of Colbert's roast on its website, and will be selling a DVD for $25-ish. And on Friday, Google Video will have Colbert's roast on streaming video.

    All over the map right now. Have to get ready for work, the new week, and next week, I will settle in on what digital SLR to purchase.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    Project for a New American Century'

    This June 3, 1997, statement of principles from the Project for a New American Century is the shaky foundation of the Bush Administration. If you haven't seen it, it is important to read. If you've seen it before, it's worth the reminder, because this is what the Bush Administration believes. Note the signers of this statement.

    We need to get these people out of office now.

    The answer for Katrina

    Saturday, May 06, 2006


    My mini roses are doing just fine, which is to say they are lovely. The yellow rose bush has new buds opening. The red one just looks great. My Spanish Lavender is amazing in its pot, I'm actually glad I don't have a full yard because it is so hardy that it tends to take over. My lettuces have all popped up, little seedlings, and I will have a lot of tasty salads.

    It's the tomatoes, though, that have not shown their bloom. I know I did them hastily, and the truth is I probably should have done seedlings instead of seeds. There is nothing like a tomato picked fresh off the vine; second choice is tomatoes from the farmers market. I can't tolerate supermarket tomatoes at all. So I will wait a little longer, but I think I'm going to have to purchase seedlings from the garden store and start over.

    The week was great after firing the crazy clients. All of a sudden, I'm getting an absolute slew of calls from honeymooners. I've always been busy, I'm a top producer at our agency, but getting rid of the crazies has suddenly put me into a higher phase. Julia Cameron talks about the Crazy Makers in The Artist's Way -- she says they rob us of energy and time. Once I got rid of them, I had that energy again.

    Farmer's Market, laundry, some house cleaning, baking today before dinner with friends. Sunday, I'm at work because we have a cruise ad, and I'm one of the luxury cruise experts. We're open 7 days a week, weekends are voluntary, but it's good business. Yesterday was 3 years with this company, and I'm happy there. It's a good fit for me. Owner of the agency is decent, kind, and fair, and a keeps us healthy. I have good friends in the company. We're an oddity in that many small businesses that are owner/operated tend to be Republican; we're so NOT Republican it borders on hilarious. I love where I work. This makes me very lucky indeed.

    So, off to start the day.

    11:00 AM
    Marcy Winograd table at Farmers Market. I got my bumper sticker, it's now on my car. Got there in time to get Gaviota Strawberries, my favorite. And I caved, bought Brandywine Tomato seedlings, and basil seedlings, will replant my non-growing seeded tomatoes now.

    Foggy morning, June gloom. I suspect a hot hot summer (thank you, Mr. President, for adding to global warming. Putz.)

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    The Wall

    A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.

    So she went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was walking slowly up to the holy site. She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane in a very slow fashion , she approached him for an interview. "I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"

    "For about 60 years."

    "60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

    "I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the hatred to stop and I pray for all our children to grow up in safety and friendship."

    "How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

    "Like I'm talking to a fuckin' wall."

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    The Politics of Meaning

    Several years ago there was a movement called the Politics of Meaning. The general message was/is that the Right has co-opted the language of the Liberals and the Left. The Right has taken our language and presented it from what Jungians would call a "shadow" side, the dark side of the language of compassion twisted by fear.

    The premise: the Liberals and Left have all the correct action based on compassion and common welfare, but the language is all about statistics. We put in programs that work, that are helpful and good, but have not mastered the language of kindness.

    On the other hand, the Right wing and Conservatives base their language in "family values" and "Moral behavior" and twist it with fear: the fear that someone else who is NOT YOU is getting your fair share of the pie and you are going to do without. "You" have worked hard, you're a real American supporting a family (who cares if your grandparents came off a boat possibly escaping religious persecution) and THEY WHO ARE NOT YOU (Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Left-wing Pacifists who are clearly not real Patriots) are taking away what is rightfully yours. The Right Wing stokes this fear with a constant referral that anyone who doesn't agree with them is not a patriot. They quash discourse.

    The result is we become frustrated, and we begin to scream. Or go to sleep. Exhausted, burnt out, worn out. We can't do that. We cannot afford to close our eyes in the hope or expectation that someone else will correct the wrongs or speak our voice.

    We need to take back our language and calmly, steadfastly, take back our Nation. Restore our Constitution. Care for our sick, our poor, our workers. We need to reclaim our dignity by stopping unnecessary wars that are based on greed. Peace.

    Remember Kent State

    32 years ago today, National Guardsmen opened fire on college students at Kent State who were protesting the Viet Nam War. Four dead in Ohio.

    We need to honor their memory, and the memory of our Viet Nam dead and MIA by bringing our soldiers home from Iraq.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    HUGE NEWS: My grandbaby finally walked

    I have this gorgeous 1 year old grandbaby who is the love of my life. She lives far away, so I don't see her all the time, but Ms. Bean (this is one of my names for her) is still my greatest joy. My daughter called me a little while ago: Ellie has begun to walk without holding on to things. She looks like a little drunken wobble bunny, and I am just floating. They promised me video of it.


    Guest workers my ass

    I found this on The Fat Lady Sing's alternate blog: The Refugees. If Bush's guest worker program goes through, those "guests" won't get minimum wage; they won't get health care; they won't be very welcome. Oh, yes, and it would be so easy for a truckload of nuclear materials to enter.

    So, to TFLS, I'm glad Typepad was down, because it led me to the other site, which led me to this image, which led me to pinch and post.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    What a pal

    R.J. Matson
    St. Louis Dispatch


    "Political anxiety in an election year is to blame for a lot of the bad bills Congress passes. "REPRESENTATIVE JEFF FLAKE, Republican of Arizona, on a proposed $100 rebate to taxpayers to compensate for higher gas prices.

    And here I thought bad bills were passed because of cronyism and greed.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    H Res 635

    I just sent a letter to Congresswoman Jane Harman urging her to support HR 635, calling for an investigation into Grounds for Impeachment. Last time I made this kind of request was after Watergate. I hope everyone sends a letter to their Congressman or Congresswoman.

    Fired a client today

    I had this client who followed me from another travel agency. Not at all a nice person; he's a Hollywood screenwriter quite full of himself (successful) and his wife is borderline insane. They have an overarching sense of priviledge and arrogance that makes me cringe every time they'd call or email. He'd start his calls with "Just for fun let's look at" traveling last minute over some impossible holiday to some A-list destination.

    Anyway, I've been working on a trip for them for high-season, impossible destination, and every day at about 4 PM she sends one line emails (and since she's on AOL, she doesn't reference anything) -- about ten of these emails in a row, all contradictory. I've lost sleep, I get sick, and I can't service my other clients -- and worse, they never trust any of my suggestions, they have to check with their A-list friends to find out if it's worth going to.

    On Friday at 4:30, I got one of these emails which began "change of plans" -- followed by three more contradictory emails. And, this morning, I came in to four more of these sort of emails. Nothing was confirmed at this point, and frankly, we lose money on them because of all the insanity. So, with the blessing of the owner of our agency, I sent a very polite email saying that I was completely confused, and that I didn't feel I could provide the level of service they require, that I am probably no longer the right agent, nor are we the right agency for them.

    Within ten minutes of sending the email, an old client I'd not heard from in three years called me out of the blue.

    I wish it were as simple with the Bush administration: Dear George, after the chaos of the last six years, I feel we are not the right country for you...

    Balcony gardening

    Planted tomatoes and lettuce in containers on my balcony. I mean, I put seeds, not seedlings, into my containers. I've always started with seedlings before, I really hope this works. Also put mini-roses and this gorgeous Spanish Lavender plant out there. It felt so productive to put my hands in dirt, even if it is a balcony garden.

    Spoke to Ellie bean -- rather, she babbled in her lovely little strange baby language, then tried to eat the phone. I miss her. She has the sweetest voice. Wish they would move to Los Angeles.