Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

Dithering and Frittering

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Today is March 5th.  It’s the day the DACA program ‘should’ have ended.  But, in a stunning rebound of stupidity, the White House tried to interfere with the Justice System – probably thinking that the Supreme Court was now in their pocket.  Wrong again!  Our highest court wasn’t buying and Dreamers are ‘safe’ – probably for another six months or so.

If you don’t remember how all this came down, here is a quick recap:

  • • Last September when Mr. Trump ended DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he created a six-month delay to give Congress time to come up with a legislative version of the policy, which protected young undocumented immigrants who had come to the US as children.
  • • Multiple federal judges felt Trump was on shaky ground and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to resume renewing all existing DACA permit.
  • • Our nation’s highest court declined the administration’s request to bypass the appellate courts and to consider immediately whether to overrule those decisions.
  • • Meanwhile, Congress has had “the gift of time.” Six months to come up with a solution for the Dreamers.

And… how ironic that we call them “Dreamers.”  They are living a nightmare!  An unbelievable horror from which there seems no escape!

It’s March 5th, for heaven’s sake!  Six months have gone by and Congress has come up with nothing.  The Dreamers have waited and watched while our “leaders” have dithered and frittered on a budget, on gun control, on immigration on… everything.  They should all step down – every last one of them.  I, for one, don’t want to hear one more excuse.

When the blind lead the blind…

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Helen & Harry Espy, 1947

My grandmother was blind – beyond “legally blind,” but she was able to distinguish light from dark – mostly.  One of my early memories is of sitting on the floor with her next to the oil stove one dark, early morning, as she lit match after match letting it drop into the opening and onto the liquid pooling at the bottom.  “Tell me when it lights,” she would say.  And I remember watching as each flame went out, hoping for the next one to “catch” so we could get started with the day.

She never had household help.  She managed to make the meals for herself and my grandfather, cooking on the old woodstove and “washing up” at the sink by feel, rather than sight.  Every week or so, she would receive a “talking book” in the mail – a brown box of 78 rpm records from the Library of Congress. Each afternoon, while Papa snoozed, she would “read.”  She was the best-informed, literate member of our family.

Package of “Talking Books”

I thought about that wonderful Books-for-the-Blind program yesterday when I read about another government perk (if you can possibly call it that) for those cannot see.  This time it is state governments who are, with some sort of convoluted thinking, issuing handgun licenses to the blind.  It was Iowa that was in the news, although it turns out that blind people in several states can own handguns legally.

According to USA Today:  Private gun ownership — even hunting — by visually impaired Iowans is nothing new. But the practice of visually impaired residents legally carrying firearms in public became widely possible thanks to gun permit changes that took effect in Iowa in 2011.  The article went on:    Polk County officials say they’ve issued weapons permits to at least three people who can’t legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so because of visual impairments.

Most amazing to me:  this is not new news!  That particular article was written in 2013.  Apparently, proponents of Disability Rights backed the bill – right up there with the usual gun lobby folks.   …Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, who says blocking visually impaired people from the right to obtain weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities.

From “Family Guy”

But that wasn’t the headline news yesterday.  This was:  Never too young: Iowa house passes bill to let children of all ages handle guns.  Well… I guess that will end any controversy about teachers packin’ in the schools of Iowa!  Now the kids can do it.  Even the blind kids.

Sometimes there is simply no more to say…

Peninsula Time and Other Imponderables

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

“Judge not that ye be not judged” says the Good Book.  That’s a hard one, at least it is for me.  It’s right up there with “patience is a virtue,” though that particular idiom didn’t come from the Bible.  On the Peninsula, I bump heads with those two thoughts on a regular basis.

Take a matter as simple as timeliness.  It doesn’t take newcomers long to run smack up against the concept of “Peninsula Time.”  Almost any event – a meeting, a funeral, an appointment, a theater experience – may start a bit late here.  Perhaps five or ten minutes after the appointed time.  Sometimes there is a formal announcement but, more often, just a murmur throughout the crowd… “we must be starting on Peninsula Time.” Old-timers don’t seem to mind.  More chance to do some serious visiting with someone you haven’t seen for a while.

Forty years ago, when I was new at this fulltime Peninsula living business, that proclivity for mooshy starting times irritated me to the max and I did not think kindly about whoever was in charge.  And never mind my thoughts about those who ambled in late, counting on a few minutes of grace before things got started.  It was all very irritating.

I think I’ve gotten over myself on those particular peculiarities of Peninsula living.  In fact, when I’ve been the one in charge, I’ve been known to make the announcement that we (for whatever reason) will be running on Peninsula Time for this event.  I’m sure that people have judged me unkindly in those instances.  Tit for tat, you might say.

But, I still haven’t gotten over my frustration with a close relative of the Peninsula Time syndrome – Callback Failure.  I absolutely cannot understand why local workmen do not return calls – not even to acknowledge that you want to hire them.  Not even to say, “I’ll need to put you on the list; it’ll probably be a few weeks before I get to you.”  I can’t believe that business is so good, ever, that people do not need to pay attention to customer good will.

Of course, I’m not absolutely sure that Callback Failure is peculiar to the Peninsula. But it seems to happen here on a continuing basis – perhaps understandable (kind of) in good times when there’s a plethora of work but, still shortsighted, by my reckoning.  I have long been a proponent of hiring locally.  It just makes sense to have someone who knows our weather conditions, is familiar with the local regulatory policies and procedures, and can network with nearby sources for equipment, materials or consultation.  Why would you hire someone from afar?  Why, indeed?

It’s not exactly happenstance that I am spending this rainy February morning thinking about these issues.  But, prudence suggests that I say no more.  Perhaps that other Peninsula anomaly will kick in: the All-of-a-Sudden-Before-You Know-It phenomenon!  We can but hope.

The thing about this aging process…

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

In My Mind’s Eye

You know how every once in a while, you run smackdab into some reality or other than you had never before considered?  Like this getting old thing.  I am in full acceptance of the fact that my mind and body are showing the ravages of time, but it is always amazing to me that my long-time friends are in the same situation.

Take parties, for instance. Traditionally in this house we have a big party once every year or so – usually Christmas.  My folks did.  We do.  By big I mean a hundred or so guests.  We move most of the furniture out to make room for the people.  I think of those parties as “California style” – everyone stands and mingles and moves (read sidles) from the food table in one room to the bar in another room and from group to group of people.  We stand.  We wander.  We talk and laugh and never think about the time.  I love those big parties.

A Friday Night Gathering

When I moved to the Northwest forty years ago, I found that most parties here were different.  They were smaller in terms of people, perhaps more elaborate in terms of food, and people sat (sometimes in a big circle) and visited.  The parties were cozy and welcoming and different from what I was used to.  And I love those sorts of parties, too. In some ways, I hope, we have incorporated that feeling into our Friday Night Gatherings.

But back to those California style parties.  The last one we had was Christmas 2016 and it was the first time I was aware that people needed to sit down.  Yes.  Needed.  Our friends were no longer whippersnappers of thirty or forty springtimes.  They were seventy or eighty with old legs, old backs, and maybe a few pounds (ahem) heavier than they were back in the day.  Some bravely sat on the carpet in front of the fire and, though I didn’t see the getting-up process, they must have managed because they weren’t still here in the morning.

A Stand-Up Group

There are some things that don’t quite compute.  Like the aging of our friends.  And our children!!!  (Now that’s another gobsmacker!  Say WHAT?  Hearing aids now in the younger generation?)  But, really, I’m just as happy having at least one time a year when we are again all in our prime, even if its only in my mind.  The reality check is the next day.  Will I remember where we stashed the chairs?  Or why?

What day is this again?

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Thought Police Poster

Most literate Americans know that this is day we can hear (or not) the President’s State of the Union address.  But do most of us know that it is also Data Privacy Day?  Yep.  Really.  Since 2008, many nations of the world (including ours) commemorate an international effort held annually since 2008 to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust.  Yep.  Really.

I was noodling those not-so-disparate bits of information around last night when I came upon my friend Martha Williams’ FaceBook entry.  For those who don’t know her, Martha is a retired teacher and has now embarked on a new career – working with elementary students as a “Science Warrior” according to the Chinook Observer’s article about her last April.  (   Here is what she wrote on FB yesterday:

Wow- I receive frequent updates from a Trump site and was asked to answer questions for information he was to gathering for his state of the union speech. You know me. I answered them in length. After Submitting my comments, I was informed that I was blocked because of certain words I used. I did use Climate and immigrants and making each American great again. SO, my dear FB family- we are not a country that can be heard when we disagree with Papa Prez- not that I thought we could, but this was so personally blatant and yes ?. Does it stop me??? No way, back to work ??


It’s not that what happened to Martha falls precisely under the Data Privacy umbrella.  Or maybe it does.  No matter.  For me, it was an illuminating convergence of circumstances and events.  One more illustration that the times we live in are troubling and that Orwell’s Thought Police are right inside our devices and in the very air we breathe.

I doubt if Martha spoke of “climate” in the context of distrust, but that is certainly part of the take-away for me.  Climate change is happening in more ways than one.  And woe be unto those of us who speak out about it.  The silencing has begun.  Even here on our tiny sandspit.  Actually, I should say the attempt at silencing has begun.  Whoever blocked Martha’s words obviously hasn’t met her.  I can’t think of a more articulate, vocal, impassioned champion of our most basic rights.  You go, girl!

Clotted Up With Surveys

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

They come in our email.  They show up on FaceBook.  Our telephone rings off the hook with them.  Surveys!  Opinion polls!  Day in, day out.  Sometimes from the same medical institution as yesterday or the same political pollster as last week. I guess they are job security for someone. I don’t see that anyone really cares about the answers.

If they did care, Trump would be out of job by now, the cafeteria food at one or another hospital would be improved, and the service department at our auto dealer’s would vacuum the car when they wash it.  It’s all enough to have you yank the phone out of the wall, cancel your cell phone contract and go into permanent hiding.  Oh. Wait.  “You can run but you can’t hide.”.  Isn’t that what they say?

Taken on an individual basis, each of these surveys, questionnaires, etc. might be seen as an honest effort to gather information that could result in positive change.  Taken as a whole, however, and given the lack of results… they are a huge timewaster.  Even worse, they are a distraction-to-the-max – a look-over-here, no-look-over-there, yes-somebody-does-really-care distraction!  Keep us busy giving our opinions (is that supposed to make us feel important and like we truly have a voice) while the movers and shakers go right on rattling the planet off its axis and out of sync.

So…  Push one if you agree.  Push two if you disagree. Your information will be kept private.  Thank you for your transparency.

Preaching to the Choir

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Chinook Observer, August 9, 2017

I don’t know what amazes me more – the number of people who are so well informed about local happenings because they “read it in the paper” or the number of people who don’t even subscribe to the Chinook Observer.  It’s not a new realization, but one that has been underscored for me these last few weeks –  ever since the ICE arrests of our Hispanic neighbors have caught the attention of the Big City media.

Now that the Seattle Times and the BBC have picked up the story, people in our own community are saying, “I had no idea.”  Yay!  I couldn’t be more delighted that their attention has been captured.  But it is a little disconcerting that they are just now noticing.  It never occurred to me that my “Stories from the Heart” that ran weekly from July through October would go completely unnoticed by so many of the people I know.  Or that they would be picked up by the mainstream media before some of my own friends had read them!

The BBC Weighs In

It was thanks to my friend Erin with her deep connections to the Mexican community that people opened their homes to me and allowed me to interview them for those stories.  They shared their once-upon-a-time dreams with me – their hopes for a brighter future, their reasons for risking everything to come here to America. They spoke of the impossibilities of going back and of their fears of arrest.  I was overwhelmed by their courage and dignity and that they allowed, actually wanted, me to tell their stories.

I wrote those stories in the hope that they would shine a little light on the very big problem so many of our local families are facing. Because of the increased activity by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this past year and the apparent ‘targeting’ of the Long Beach Peninsula, family members have been deported to Mexico, children have been taken out of school, employers are hard-pressed to replace workers who have been arrested.

Rosas (Courtesy Gladys Diaz) – From the Seattle Times

Too, it seemed so wrong that our neighbors were living in fear, keeping to the shadows, when I knew that there were so many people right here on the Peninsula who would reach out – if only they knew.  And, they have indeed come forward — to help and support, to offer financial assistance or information about legal help, to provide child-care when the only adult left in the family must work.   So much compassion!  So much practical, no-nonsense community involvement.

So… now the little candle that was lighted in our own Chinook Observer has reached far beyond our Peninsula and Pacific County.  Yay!!  And people right here in our midst are saying, “I had no idea.”  They probably also have no idea what a gem they have in our local weekly, either.  But… I’m undoubtedly preaching to the choir here!

Time out, Donny!

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Donny Trump

As we watched the news last night and saw Mr. Trump make his racist “s***hole” remark, I found myself saying (in my best teacher voice), “Time out, Donny!” and, ridiculous though it was, I waited for someone in that illustrious gathering pictured onscreen to call for an immediate Class Meeting. That’s what was needed, pure and simple.

I’ll wager that first-grader Donny Trump never experienced a Class Meeting at the Kew-Forest private military school where he attended first grade.  I doubt that collaboration with your six-year-old peers was  high on the priority list. Had he been at any of the public schools where I was teaching, on the other hand, Class Meetings would have been part of his every day life.  The language he used to describe the countries he apparently doesn’t like would not have been tolerated.  Not for a minute.

Not only would young Donny have had a time-out, he would have had a full opportunity to explain his terminology and his reasons for using it and then he’d have had an opportunity to hear what his classmates thought about his vocabulary.  And we would have discussed the words “appropriate” and “inappropriate” and, perhaps, had an opportunity to look up “s***hole” in the dictionary, extending our discussion to real words, made-up words and the definition of “profanity.”  Perhaps we might have talked about far-away countries and people who speak other languages or whose customs might be different from ours.  Or even had an impromptu lesson on immigration.

Class Meeting

For sure, his choice of words would have come under scrutiny bigtime – by those who counted most.  His peers.  But come to think of it, in thirty-nine years of teaching six- seven- and eight-year-olds and in thirty-nine years of holding Class Meetings every single day – I don’t think I ever heard a child use that particular word or one even comparable.  Little kids come to school already knowing a lot about what’s appropriate.  Just as little kids need few reminders about “family business” versus “okay for school discussion,” they have pretty clear ideas about acceptable vocabulary.

I’ve read that little Donny was a boy who had tantrums and, according to one biographer, has bragged, “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.”   Yes, little Donny.  Last night’s news clip bore that out.  Too bad you didn’t have an opportunity to sit in the “share circle” in your first-grade classroom. It might have made a difference.  For all of us!

When being underfoot is a good thing…

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

There’s nothing like a new carpet to spiff up a room!  I was a little fearful between the placing-the-order part and the fait accompli part.  Would it be too dark in color?  Would the entire room seem gloomy, especially during these dark days of winter?  Would the deeper pile seem too modern for the room?

No, no, and no are the answers to those questions.    By 4:30 yesterday the carpet laying was complete and the heavy furniture was back in place – bed assembled (though not yet ‘made’), bureaus, table, chifferobe, and fainting couch all in their proper places.  While Chef Nyel prepared dinner, I returned ‘the small stuff,’ delighting in uncluttering the hallway and east room as I worked.  By dinnertime, we were back to normal.  The New Normal!  And we are inordinately pleased!

When it was time to change into our kiss-and-lie-down clothes and our bare toes buried themselves in the newer, deeper-than-before pile, I briefly thought that maybe I should just skip the bed part of a good night’s rest.  So cushy!  So soft!  So inviting!

This morning, I realized that we haven’t really seen this new look in the bright light of day.  Not yet.  Probably not for a while.  It’s overcast and rainy out and the house feels dim, even with the electric lights blazing.  No worries, though.  Bring on the sunshine!  The only downside to the spiffy new avocado green carpet may be seeing it clearly in comparison to that sad excuse for a winter-lawn outside.  Hmmm…  Perhaps another project in the making.

Consent, Consensual, Consensus

Friday, December 1st, 2017

In The News

I’ve been reading with great interest – no, make that ‘with great dismay’ – all of the commentary in the news and even on FaceBook about sexual harassment.  As the percentages of women who claim they have been sexually harassed have escalated – I think it’s up to 60% now – my first reaction was, “I wonder why I’ve never had that problem.”  In a perverse sort of way, I almost felt left out.

But, as I read more and more of what women are ‘revealing’ on sites such as #MeToo, my thoughts have changed yet again.  What I think of as ‘sexual harassment’ (Wikipedia: typically of a woman – in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks) is apparently only part of the issue.

Long-Ago Standards?

For one thing, the standard ‘workplace/professional’ piece of the equation no longer seems to matter – unless you count activities such as attending a fraternity party to be ‘work’ – and the woman’s own behavior/condition (such as being too drunk to walk) also seems to be but a minor factor.  Consensual no longer appears to be a biggee except if agreement is explicit and verbal – maybe even written!

So… what happened to good old-fashioned “flirting” as we called it in the olden days?  I always thought that was a two-way street.  If it led to advances that were unwanted, you said so.  If saying so was overridden, then (and only then), you had a legitimate complaint.  Granted, in those olden days, few women under such circumstances actually spoke out and, if they did, they weren’t taken seriously.   Which brings us to now…

So… where is the line?  If it’s closer to the ‘harmless’ flirtation now that it was forty years ago, do women have the right to speak out?  Are today’s standards retroactive?  Should good men’s reputations and careers be put on the line because we women now feel that we can speak out?

Today’s Fashions?

That seems to be the consensus.  I think there is a basic flaw here but I’m confused as to what it is.  Perhaps there is more than one piece of skewed thinking.  I’m still stuck back at the decision of my own alma mater to follow the (then) current trend and make dormitories co-ed.  That happened a few years after I graduated.  I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now. At a time in young people’s lives when their hormones are raging and they are still actively trying to develop their minds and characters… why would such a decision be made?

And don’t get me started on women’s fashions…  In what universe is showing cleavage and nipples not an invitation of some sort?  It’s all very confusing to me and I have no answers at all.  But from my old lady perspective, what’s happening does seem to a sort of mass hysteria with retrospective overtones.  I wonder how my many-times forbear, Salem Witch Mary Esty, would view it.