Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Price of Gas Gives Me Gas

As prices at the pump continue to soar, I thought I'd share this image I took as we sailed out of Brunei (the wealthiest little nation in the world.) Yes, oil wells off the shore, pumping, burning, polluting, generally making the Sultan of Brunei richer than he already is.

Still in Chicago. Much improved. Beanie remains adorable. She thinks that when I laugh, I am a spektickle.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Decision '08 - my thoughts

The upcoming November election is the most significant election in recent history. We must decide if we are going to move forward toward solution, or remain in a climate of fear.

The last 8 years have been a culmination of over 35 years of fear and hate-mongering which really began with the Nixon Administration. The Republican tactics over the last 3 1/2 decades has been to dismiss educated language as elitist and unnecessary - authoritarian personalities who embrace secrecy, intolerance, obedience, and a complete eradication of checks and balances.

So what are our choices? On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton still clings to the inflated belief that she can become the Democratic nominee - her logic appears to me to be based on fuzzy math, but oh, well.

Barak Obama is accused of being "elitist" and "inexperienced." Why? Elitist because he is well-spoken, highly educated, and intelligent? That's a problem? I ache with the realization that this nation abhors clear thinking, intelligent discourse and creative solutions. But the real bee in my bonnet is the charge of inexperience. To me, the "experienced" politicians bring more of the same old same old, and Obama's approach is reasonably fresh. He is well-known in Illinois as a coaltion builder - he has a great capacity to bring people together to effect positive change. He has a solid health care plan, which, to me, is essential.

And then on the Republican side, there is John McCain who appears to stand for more of the Bush Administration's policies. He now supports tax policies he once opposed. He wants us to stay in Iraq for the next hundred years - if that's not a holy war, please tell me. Oh, and I loved this headline: Violence mars Rice's visit to Iraq. She was expecting maybe a garden party?

To me, the choice has become clear. I support Obama for President. I believe we will be at the end of our experiment with Democracy if McCain is elected.

Friday Granddaughter Blogging

Poopie accidents are digutsing. I am a good co-pop-a-prater. I like my Elmo chef things. My gramma gives me booper kisses. I'm three. Everything is mine turn, like it is mine turn to put on my shoes but I let gramma put on one of them. I like to brush my teeth.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More from Chicago

My daughter is in a tough situation. She and her husband are separated, and she's full time with Beanie. This is because her husband makes choices that are heartbreaking: he would rather watch American Idol than have Beanie overnight. He would rather play golf than have Beanie on his normal weekend time. He would rather drink beer until he's blind drunk than be a father. So my daughter does it all, and frankly, she is wound tighter than a top.

Beanie, meanwhile, is incredibly smart. I mean she's shockingly smart, and hilariously funny, and stubborn, and sweet, and sensitive. Therein lies the rub. She feels the tension. She knows something is rotten in Denmark. But she doesn't quite know what caused it. Daddy yells at her. Daddy then tells my daughter that there is something wrong with Beanie - why? Because at 3, and in a big girl bed, she no longer naps. This is the truth for all parents - put the kid in a big kid bed and kiss nap-time goodbye. But if she doesn't nap, how can he have an afternoon snort?

So I got to town, and my daughter was down with the flu - partly from stress, partly because she had the flu. And she's demanding - and in that place where NOTHING I can do for her is right. Whatever it is, I've done it incorrectly. I'm sleeping on the sofa, and I'm not putting the dishes in the dishwasher the right way. I clean up the kitchen and I'm not paying enough attention to Beanie. I try to play with Beanie on her level, and I'm not reminding her to go potty enough. Yesterday, while I was theoretically working (I am working from my remote desk), I also wound up with Beanie at home because (no surprise here) her Daddy could not be bothered to take her. So Grandpa (my ex) took her to the zoo in the morning, and I had her in the afternoon, and we had a bit of a tantrum, and I told my daughter I lacked the skills any longer and didn't know what to do. My daughter's response? I don't have to come back here again. WTF?

I adore Beanie, but really, it's been 30+ years since I've dealt with little kids on a full time basis. It is NOT like riding a bicycle, you do forget. I adore this child, but I don't remember what 3-year-olds are like. She's work. Real, honest-to-god work. And I keep thinking I'm screwing it all up, and she's got my number. She out-thinks me. I raised one of those (my son) and believe me, there is a difference between a gifted child and a smart one. I've had one of each, and I sense that my daughter has a gifted child. This is not bias, it is some level of experience.

Meanwhile, because my daughter was ill, I wound up taking Beanie to my ex-husband's for both Passover Seders. I have to tell you that at some level, my life is often funnier than the best situation comedies - it was a complete comedy - me, in the house I designed, with my ex, and his wife, and first night my brother and cousins; second night it was my ex's cousins. Just so bizarre, and funny, and messy, and with Beanie as center of attention - oh, my god.

But I am tired, really. Partly because the situation for my daughter just breaks my heart, and partly because Beanie is a bundle of energy. She's at school today, but we've made big plans for the weekend. Gorgeous weather, so far. The expected rain has not materialized, so this is good. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Greetings from Chicago

I'm visiting Beanie. She's three. She's all energy and personality. I am in need of a vacation, or possibly oxygen. Today she's off to the zoo with her grandpa so I can work from my remote desk. I adore her, but she's like the Eveready Bunny on Speed.

Help. Help help. Help.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Grandbaby Blogging

Okay, here's the math:

No more binky + using potty + big girl bed = TODDLER.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Drug

I went shopping yesterday!

Because a girl who lives near the ocean can NEVER have enough hoodies, really!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sweet Crude

A man carrying a machete walks by a burning oil pipeline last month near a farm in Kegbara Dere, Nigeria. The fire burned strong for 45 days, raining ash down on the village.

Documentary filmmaker Sandy Cioffi entered Nigeria legally on April 5, along with Tammi Simms, her producer; and photojournalists Cliff Worsham and Sean Porter. They were accompanied by Nigerian citizen Joel Bisina, who is the founder of a Warri-based NGO, Niger Delta Professionals for Development.

Cioffi is in Nigeria making a documentary film, Sweet Crude, about the impact of the petroleum industry on the economy and environment of the Niger Delta. On April 12, the five were taken into custody by the Nigerian military and so far, have not been charged with anything. They have been denied outside contact, nor have they been formally charged with a crime. The four US Citizens had Visas to enter Nigeria, issued by the Nigerian government, and were returning to the Niger River Delta to complete the film WITH PERMISSION FROM THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT. (emphasis mine.)

Nigeria's petroleum industry is well-known for corruption, pollution and injustice. As the largest producer of oil in Africa, apparently Nigeria doesn't want the world to know too much. We in America import a tremendous amount of oil from Nigeria - is our government complicit in this arrest?

That we depend upon foreign oil is at core of this issue. And it takes the courage of Artists (these filmmakers) to shine the light on this industry. Apparently, their crime is to simply point a camera. So far they've not been charged, and according to Nigerian law, they must be charged within 48 hours or released. It has been over 48 hours. Let's make some noise.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Liberal on a Luxury Cruise

Sailing out of Sydney Harbour, past the Sydney Opera House - this is shot from the balcony of my stateroom. It was midnight when we left. I was hosting a segment of the World Cruise on Crystal Serenity, and I was a liberal among conservatives.

The Sydney Opera House is one of my favorite buildings. On the cruise, I started a series of watercolors with the Opera House as my subject, and now that I am home I've actually gotten serious about my paintings. When I finish, I will photograph them and put them up on Flikr, or Picassa, or something - but right now, I am just doing them. But this image, taken at night, without a tripod, while on a moving ship - well, it has the energy I wanted.

The cruise segment was 17 days, with five ports and 12 days at sea. Those were my favorite days, the sea days. Those were the days for relaxation, reflextion, Yoga, painting, spa, pool, walking. However. I went to the library one day, after I'd finished my book (No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy). They had every book that Ann Coulter has written - they had books by every current neo-conservative author, nothing by any liberal, and the fiction was all Clive Cussler genre. Yikes. The travel books were decent, but I'd read them all, so I sort of backed out slowly...

It was a funny experience for me. I met lovely people, as long as the topic of conversation was superficial - clothes, food, the cruise, men, dancing, the casino. One woman discovered I was a Democrat and she said she would have to reconsider being friendly (until we all decided to chip in on the last day's bingo game. We won the grand prize. She liked me again, thought I was lucky.)(I was lucky. I won big bucks in the casino at Black Jack, Craps, and, yes, even Roulette.) But greed is a strange and powerful motivator. And greedy people tend to be suspicious of others. I spent a lot of time just observing others.

I also found that people who cruise don't really want to get to know a destination in depth. They want convenience over anything else. I prefer land travel, when all is said and done. I want to break bread with local people, to hear about their day, to experience their culture. Do I dislike cruises? Not at all - but I'd just be happy to use a cruise as a means of transportation - I love sea days - I love being afloat on the ocean with nothing but water and the open sky around - the power of the sea is mesmerizing, and it makes my heart sing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Well, Cows By The Fence is an interesting blog that Betmo pointed out. Cows By The Fence posted THIS article about the growing food shortage globally. The article talks about planting a "Victory Garden,"
a program started by the US (and Canadian) governments during the war years to encourage people to grow food at their homes to ease and reduce the pressure on the food supply during the course of the war. Citizens grew food on their lawns,on apartment rooftops, and wherever possible. Victory Gardens ceased to be when the war ended and things went back to their old ways, being dependent upon supermarkets and grocery stores for our food.

There are additional things we can do: rather than supermarkets, we can purchase fruit and vegetables at local farmers markets - supermarkets truck food thousands of miles, contributing to pollution and rising fuel costs. Local farmers provide fresh produce, and it supports local economy as well. I admit, in Southern California, there are local farmers markets every day of the week, some of which carry mostly organic produce. Cold weather climates are not so lucky.

Still, we have gotten out of the habit of buying seasonally, cooking seasonally. Supermarkets show summer fruits year round: meally, tasteless excuses for peaches or strawberries; cardboard tomatoes; a travesty. We've opted for convenience over nutrition.

I think, this summer, I will do a balcony garden with lettuce, tomatoes, and other yummy container treats. Since I am not the world's best gardener, I will need a lot of luck. But it's worth a shot.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Perfect Day in Sydney Australia

I've been to Australia almost 30 times. I've been to Sydney at least 20 times, and had never before been to the Taronga Zoo. My thinking was this: I've been to many zoos, and would rather see animals in the wild. However, I forget that zoos have an important educational mission; they also care for the health of animals, and in some cases, they actually help keep certain animals from extinction. So, that said, , I arranged a private visit to the zoo with one of the zoo-keepers. This is actually a tour that I can arrange for my clients, and so I decided to experience it to determine if it's worth doing.

In a word: Youbetcha! Amazing experience. She took me into various animal enclosures, beginning with the Koala enclosure. Koalas in New South Wales suffer from 4 diseases caused by the chlamydia organism: conjunctivitis which can cause blindness, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and reproductive tract infections, which can cause female infertility. While the diseases won't manifest if the Koalas have unlimited resources, the reality is that their habitat has been severely compromised, and so their numbers have been affected drastically.

We went into the Australian Nocturnal Habitat - the keeper took me into various enclosures (which caused a bit of surprise for other visitors to the zoo. No, I am not a new kind of Australian Nocturnal Animal! I promise. Don't throw food at me, really!) Then we went into the kitchen where they prepare all kinds of foods for a majority of the animals - from live food (creepy crawly insect kind of thingies) to frozen mice and rats to chopped fruits and vegies - all in very sanitary conditions.

The experience was fun, and highly educational. I've decided that I am going to send all my clients on a back-stage visit to the zoo! It was amazing.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Where have I been?

Where oh where have I been? I spent three weeks on a cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong, that's simple enough. But the real silence has been longer than three weeks. I've been experiencing a deep quiet and a need for clarity. I've probably lost all my readers, so sorry about that. But my heart has been heavy since July , and I've had little to contribute that felt positive.

Bean turned three in March. She's now in a toddler bed, she gave up her beloved binky and she happily uses the potty. She calls me on her toy cell phone and chatters away. I will see her in a week.

I snagged a copy of My Name Is Rachel Corrie. This is the play based on Rachel Corrie's journals and emails - she was a young American woman who was killed in Gaza by Israeli bulldozers. The Israelis say accident; the Palestinians turned her into a Martyr; Katherine Viner and Alan Rickman edited her words into a play because they felt she was a young woman who had a story to tell. I've not seen the play performed, but the press surrounding it and the controversy that surrounds it has taken on a life of its own.

Two young people I know have died from overdoses - both were at one time sober, both went out. A powerful disease, alcoholism and drug addiction. Both of these people lived in a world of hurt, and hopefully their souls are at rest. At peace.

I did not blog against theocracy this Easter. I will not blog against anything ever again. I need to be for something, rather than against. I need to be for peace, for transparency, for a life that tries to heal the world. I'm just so tired of anger, and angry people. To quote Bob Dylan, "you are right from your side, and I am right from mine, and it's one to many mornings and a thousand miles behind."

But I think I am back. Maybe. We'll see.