Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

The three Rs — Resolve, Review, Regroup

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018


There were four candidates we felt passionate about – Pam Nogueira Maneman, Debbie Oakes, Robin Souvenir, and Carolyn Long.  With all but the mail-in ballots counted this morning, Debbie and Robin have won, but not Pam and Carolyn.  I am totally ecstatic and totally disconsolate at the same time.

It’s a difficult set of emotions, but I’m sure there are many others feeling similarly.  The morning after elections is never for the faint of heart.  Not for the candidates, certainly, and not for their supporters.  It’s a day when Resolve-with-a-Capital R needs to take front and center – Resolve by the winners to carry out their campaign promises and Resolve by the losers to continue working toward the next election opportunity.  Too, I think the other R words will kick in soon – Review and Regroup.  What could we supporters have done better?  How can we organize for what comes next?   And how can we be helpful in the meantime?


It’s times like this that I really question my proclivity towards the cup being half empty.  I tend to want to wallow in the coulda, shoulda, woulda points of view instead of rejoicing in some of the good news statistics – record voter turnout for a mid-term, a change in the color of the House of Representatives, a number of gubernatorial upsets, and probably more.  I am torn between wanting to stay glued to the news and wanting to just tend to the chickens and rejoice in our newly mowed lawn (thanks Beach Time Landscaping!). Today is one of those days that I’m so glad we live far from that madding crowd.

Just sayin’…

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

With the news that the Pentagon is sending 5,100 troops to our southern border to beef up the 2,100 National Guardsmen already there, I wondered once again what the administration’s problem is with refuges, migrants, immigration etc.  To me, it must boil down to a very unhappy First Family life.

Our nominal leader has been married three times.  So have I, so I don’t hold that against him.  It just takes some of us a few practice sessions to get it right.  However, two of the titular honcho’s wives have been immigrants and still had immigrant status when he married them.  They were here in the United States legally, but they were immigrants and didn’t achieve citizenship until well after their marriages to the rich man.  Just sayin’…

His first three children were born, in fact, before their mother became a U.S. citizen.  However, since they were born in New York (and since their father is a U.S. citizen) they also have citizenship status.  Still, I can’t help but pause here to think about the 14th amendment which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”   Our nominal leader this week proposed ending that status.  Granted, his “kids” are safe but…  just sayin’…

Then, there’s that whole “chain migration” thing.  In August the nominal man’s Slovenian in-laws became U.S. citizens through the family-based reunification program which their lawyer said is “the bedrock” of our immigration process.  They were sponsored by their daughter, the “first lady” of our country.  Tweeted her nominal husband:  “CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!  Some people come in and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”… just sayin’.

Of course… there’s always the issue of Fake News to fall back on.  I’m not sure which of these peculiar situations might be fake – the wives, the children, or the in-laws.  Or is it the nominal head of household, himself? … just sayin’.

Longing to Bring Back that Baby!

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

According to what I have read (and what I also remember) the “feminist movement” has swept us up in three big waves.  The first was more in my grandmother’s and mother’s time in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  It focused, primarily, on the right to vote.

The second wave began in the 1960s and lasted for about 20 years.  It dealt more with domestic matters focusing on issues such as sexuality, family, the workplace, and reproductive rights. Beginning in the 1990s, so-called third wave feminists embraced individualism and diversity and tried to redefine what it means to be a feminist.

And now, presumably, we are into the fourth wave which, according to one researcher, “combines politics, psychology and spirituality in an overarching vision of change.”  Lordy! Lordy!  What a bunch of gobbledygook.  I don’t know what else “researchers” say, but I would bet dollars to donuts that the entire feminist movement is responsible for its own share of divisiveness in our society.  Just the term “fight for women’s rights” is a big turn-off for me.  I’m not in favor of fighting, no matter what.

I truly think we threw out the baby with the bath.  Along with the push for equality among the sexes, there was some spillover into other areas – or at least that’s what I think caused the reduction in services that – alas! – we once took for granted.  For instance, I personally draw the line at pumping my own gas.  I will drive clear from Oysterville to Astoria when my tank is low rather than avail myself of our local do-it-yourself fueling stations.  It’s not that I can’t do it.  I don’t want to.  I really think it should be a pro-choice thing, don’t you?

About Our Gout Bout

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Infamous Gout Sufferer

“The secrets of old age” is what my mother called all those aches, pains, dribbles, rude uncontrollable noises, and I don’t know what-all.  I think gout must have been one of those “secrets” although she never said so.  Secrets are secrets, after all.

Also secret is whether or not some of those old-age annoyances are catching.  Science may tell us unequivocally “no” but sometimes you have to wonder.  Gout is the case in point in our household right now.  Nyel was diagnosed with that Henry-the-Eighth problem about a month ago.  It was his right wrist that was under attack and his entire right hand and arm-to-the-elbow were affected – red, swollen, painful to the touch and excruciating to move. He was the poster child for a man who had lost his grip – at least with regard to his dominant hand.

Can’t hurt!

Diagnosis involved careful scrutiny by our primary care guy.  And blood tests.  Treatment, which is ongoing, has involved steroids and other meds with fancy names, one of which he will probably need to take forevermore.  The cause, unlike that of King Henry, is not rich foods – we eat very little red meat, no ale or beer or other alcohol for Nyel.  For him, the cause is clear – diuretics that he must take for his heart health.  It’s a pretty straight forward cause and effect.

But, yesterday, when one of the finger joints in my left hand flared up – swollen, red, painful to the point of unbend-ability and I self-diagnosed it as gout, I couldn’t blame any meds or my diet or anything else.  It’s clear to me that gout is a contagious situation – another secret of old age that my sainted mother never shared with me.  Of course, being in the middle joint of my middle finger as it is, could pose a much larger problem.

Popeye didn’t know…

I consider myself fortunate that I am right-handed and that, should it be necessary to flip someone off, I am as yet unimpaired with regard to my digitus medius of choice.  I can only hope that I don’t have the need for a double flip-off while this gout bout lasts.  I doubt seriously if mom ever considered this particular limitation among her secrets.  But… they were secrets after all.

Out of sync, as usual…

Friday, September 28th, 2018

San Rafael High School Friends, 1952

Wow!  These past twenty-four FaceBook hours have been pretty amazing – and not in a good way.  So much anger unleashed by women I have always known to be steady and fair-minded.  So many ancient nightmares dredged up.  So many demands being made.

I, too, remember when I was in high school.  I never once attended a “house party” or tasted beer or was assaulted by a boy, never mind two at the same time.  Yet, I was reasonably popular, served on the student council, went to all the dances (held in the high school gym), “went steady” and wore my boyfriend’s letterman jacket, “parked” for a little (consensual) necking after a milkshake at King Cotton drive-in.  Our high school “culture” was a lot different than what my friends and loved ones seem to remember.  Granted, most are younger than I.  But still…

It’s hard for me to believe, much less to empathize, with Mrs. Ford.  I think her hippocampus talk threw me off.  Sounded suspiciously like babble speak to me.  It’s equally hard for me to take Judge Kavanaugh too seriously – especially when he equated tooth-brushing with church-going.  (Alike because one keeps you from getting cavities and the other keeps you from going to hell???)  Have we really reduced the national dialogue to he-said-she-said raillery?

Rambleer Baseball Team, SRHS 1951

But, mostly, I am appalled that my women friends have bought into this circus so completely.  I do not want Judge Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because I do not want our highest judicial court to be seriously skewed to the right.  Period.  But I am saddened by the depths we are sinking to ensure that the nomination of the current candidate is not confirmed.  Shame on all of us!  And, most especially, shame on the women who have worked so hard for equal rights. We seem to have made “equal behavior” part of the equation.  I can’t be the only woman (or man, for that matter) who had expected more.

What A Weenie!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

“Left arm, please,” said I to the pharmacist.  Twice I said it – once for the flu shot and once for the new pneumonia shot.  After all, why have two sore arms when one will do?

He did warn me that my arm would be “a bit” achier.  Nyel (who was only getting one shot) said, “Oh, we’ll fix you up with a sling.”  And we all chuckled.

So now it’s the third day and still I’m avoiding lifting my left arm or, conversely, letting it hang down by my side.  It hasn’t slowed me down much – each day I’ve made good progress trimming back the roses and pulling up the spent tiger lilies.  But I whine a little.  I truly am a weenie.  And where is that sling I was promised?

I don’t remember either the flu or the pneumonia shot producing this reaction before.  Of course, different year, improved meds, yada yada yada.  And, I’m not sure I ever before chose to get both shots in the same arm.  I can’t help wondering if one shot is worse than the other or if it’s the double whammy that’s causing me grief.

Still… I think this sore arm is well worth the alternative.  I had pneumonia once – or so I’ve been told.  I was two and I don’t remember, but I do know that, as long as she lived, my mother was all about me staying out of the rain and wind and wearing galoshes and scarves and waterproof coats and hats.  If I so much as went out in the storm to fetch the paper I was severely admonished, “You’ll catch your death of cold” and plied with hot tea and honey “just in case.”

Of course, my mother’s sister Sue had died of pneumonia.  It was years before I was born – back in the days when there were no immunizations.  The whole family was extra cautious in that regard.  TB was a biggee in our family, too, and the defense against that was always good nutrition and plenty of fresh air (although not during storms!)  I don’t think any of our family members ever had the flu, but as soon as the inoculations came out, we were in line, you betcha.

In fact, I grew up with great faith in modern medicine.  It hasn’t abated one bit.  Not even in my present condition do I regret those shots!  But I am still hoping for that sling…

And another tradition bites the dust…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

1921 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

The Miss America Pageant says they are “evolving.”  Into what isn’t clear.  In fact, according to spokesperson Gretchen Carlson, herself a Pageant winner in 1989, “We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition.”

Apparently, “pageant” has become a euphemism for “beauty contest” and that’s not okay anymore. In keeping with the current cultural trends (read: the #MeToo movement) the bathing suit portion of the contest has been eliminated and the evening gown portion has been “revamped to give participants the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiatives.”  Effective next year.

Okay. Whatever.  From the images I’ve seen about this year’s “competition,” the contestants are still young, still beautiful, and still not representative of any cross section of youthful American womanhood that I know of.  Nor does the website convince me that the contest is other than a beauty contest.

1955 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

Claims by the organization such as “Miss America competitors have been a fearless advocate for causes such as civil rights and HIV/AIDs awareness” and “The Miss America Competition has served as a platform to amplify women’s voices during times in our country’s history when they have been needed most” just don’t resonate with me.  When I hear “Miss America” those causes are not what I think of and, frankly, I don’t want to.

The bottom line is, why can’t girls simply aspire to be beautiful anymore?  Why is it okay to have a competition based on intellectual qualities but not on an ideal of physical beauty?  I really don’t get it.  Apparently, the decision has to do with the recent revelation of “derogatory and chauvinistic messages” by a former CEO or with last year’s controversial emails among organization leadership talking about the contestants in lewd and vulgar ways.  Does the banning bathing suit decision really solve those problems?

2018 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

And that “intellectual” side of things is lame, at best.  Last year, contestants were asked about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the president’s reaction to white racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Paris climate agreement, Confederate statues, and whether football should be banned because of concussions.  They were given 20 seconds to answer.  Since when has intellectual been synonymous with political?

Why, oh why, do the simple pleasures of life – like showing off in a bathing suit – eventually get ruined by the do-gooders of the world?  (And don’t get me started on the contest entrance ‘rules’ which have considered divorced and abortion as sins of the first order.)  It seems to me there are way too many people in this world who are willing to throw that first stone.  Yikes!

The Safety Sign Blindness Syndrome

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

My late friend Kaye Mulvey and I had an on-going discussion about driving the speed limit.  Kaye was a proponent of driving as fast as she felt was “safe” whether it exceeded posted limits or not.  She considered me a wimpy driver and once said to me in a somewhat derisive tone, “I’ll bet you slow to the suggested speeds around curves, too!”  I conceded that she was right and I think of her every time we drive to and from South Bend.

Like last night, coming home from Seattle, Nyel (a proponent of what I’ve come to call “Kaye’s Way on the Hiway”) was the one at the wheel.  I was white-knuckling and biting my tongue.  During the sixteen-mile stretch from Johnson’s Landing to our turn at Sandridge Road, we both took note of the new signs – or at least we think they are new.  Each time we approached a curve, a DO NOT PASS sign appeared.  Immediately thereafter, a PASS WITH CARE sign would show up.  Over and over and over again.  (It’s a very curvy stretch of road.)

I wish I’d have counted how many.  It actually became humorous – a grand distraction for Sydney-the-Wimp.  “Whatever happened to noticing the solid yellow lines on the highway?” Nyel asked several times.  “Would you even have time to pass between a PASS WITH CARE sign and the immediately forthcoming DO NOT PASS sign?” I wondered.  Distracting became annoying.  And I began to ask myself when those signs had gone up and if we had just not noticed them before.  Had we become sign blind?

When we got home, late though it was, I looked up sign blindness.  It must be some sort of phenomenon or syndrome, I thought.  And, sure enough!  There is an entire article called “Overcoming Safety Signs Blindness.”  It is written by a man named David Arnold and begins:  Having worked in the safety signs industry for more years than is good for a person, I have come across the phrase ‘Sign blindness’ on numerous occasions. In my experience it invariably tends to be used in one of two ways: Cluster Sign Blindness and Familiarity Sign Blindness.

He goes on to talk about those two problems, what surveys have found, and the suggested solutions to be considered.  I don’t think WSDOT got the memo.  Not the part on Cluster Sign Blindness, anyway.   I also see (doncha love Google!) that the signs cost $21.95 plus $5.00 shipping fee from Amazon.  Plus the cost of installation.  Times how many signs?    Our highway taxes at work.

In Defense of Disconnecting

Friday, September 7th, 2018

William Wordsworth in 1807 by Hery Eldridge

William Wordsworth was 32 when he wrote:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…

These are the first two of a fourteen-line sonnet – a lament on the loss of rural living in the wake of the mass production and factory work now that the Industrial Revolution was upon the world.  Wordsworth lived in England’s Lake District and the countryside there, as everywhere, had changed very little for centuries.  Now, railroads and steamships and coal mines and entrepreneurship were upon us.  Man’s connection to the natural world was at risk.

The poem was written in 1802 and was published five years later.  Wordsworth’s correspondence during that period also reveals his concern with the imbalance between the spiritual and material, between nature and economic growth.  I don’t know if he lamented the loss of our natural world, itself, but I feel sure that had he lived two hundred years later, his poetry (considered a part of the Romantic period) would have taken a serious environmental turn, as well.

On Our Porch

I, too, often think “the world is too much with us.”  Mostly, I have that thought when I watch or listen to the news.  I’m especially lucky, in that regard.  If I unplug and turn away and simply step outside into Oysterville, that frantic outer world disappears.  Then, my world is quiet except for birdsong.  It smells of the sweet grasses in the meadow with a bit of pungent geranium fragrance from the pots on our porch.  And I count my blessings.

Pondering Pooh and Other Perplexities

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

E.H. Shepherd Illustration

We seem to have bookmarked the summer by going to matinees – “The Rider” in June and “Christopher Robin” yesterday.  I loved the first one.  The second, not so much – but I’m not sure why.

First, let me say that I am a huge A.A. Milne fan.  I love the Winnie-the-Pooh books and usually have trouble accepting any animated versions of the denizens of Hundred Acre Woods.  That was not the case with this movie.  I thought the live-action character portrayals were superb – especially Pooh.  He was precisely the Pooh of my imagination.  So was the setting, or at least the Hundred Acre Woods part –  the rickety bridge, the makeshift falling-down shelters, the hand-lettered signs of childhood.

E. H. Shepherd Illustration

The movie makers got all that just right.  It was the story I found ho-hummish.  Predictable and overstated.  Disappointing.  And the human characters – especially Christopher Robin and his daughter Maddie – a bit too old.  He should have been in his twenties; she in her single digits.  Maybe then I’d have found the happy ending more acceptable.  But… maybe not.

I left the theater feeling robbed of the bittersweet longing that the books, themselves, always give me.  It’s the same feeling I get when I hear “Puff the Magic Dragon.”  For the adult me, it’s that filled-with-wistfulness for what can’t be recaptured sensation that is the magic of Pooh and of Puff.  But the tears I shed yesterday in the movie weren’t the tears that go with nostalgia.  More the tears of disappointment.  Still… you probably have to see the film for yourself.  It may speak to you differently.