Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

What in the world are they thinking?

Saturday, November 25th, 2023


I guess it’s just my week to be cranky.  But actually, the first page article in the Observer has me far beyond cranky.    “Feds target 400K barred owls to save spotted owl.”  Jeezusly-old-blue-shitwine!  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, no less. What is the matter with those people?  Too much testosterone?  A firm desire to support the NRA no matter what?  Have they learned NOTHING from other extermination projects gone awry?

At least the introduction of the mongoose to kill the rats in Hawaii was not done under the aegis of the government.  The mice and rats arrived inadvertently with shiploads of people and the sugar growers imported the mongoose to take care of the problem.  If you don’t know the result, Google it.  It’s a classic.

And then there was the near extinction the the bison or buffalo. According to site after site on Google, their destruction  had two important consequences: It left the vast grasslands open to the herds of cattle moving north from Texas. Now cattle ranches appeared in the north. More importantly, though, it robbed the Plains Tribes of the one resource that allowed them to move across the plains and continue their nomadic lifestyle.

Once upon a time…

Presumably, we are smarter now.  Studies are made.  Many studies.  Taxpayer dollars are spent.  Many dollars.  But, I can’t really imagine that we can choose the way we feel Mother Nature should stay in balance and then attempt to keep her that way.  No life form is static.  If the barred owl needs new habitat and it impinges on the spotted owl, perhaps we should let the the spotted owls figure out what to do about it.  Isn’t that the way nature works?  Survival of the fittest and all of that?  Perhaps they will surprise us with their ingenuity.

Meanwhile, the extermination of 400,000 barred owls just doesn’t seem prudent.  No matter how I look at it.


My Techno-Tipping Point Looms Ever Closer

Saturday, November 18th, 2023

I am sick of the scams.  More importantly, I’m sick of spending my time trying to determine which are scams and which are real.  They come by email, by text and on Facebook.  Yes,  and speaking of Facebook, I can no longer tell which of my “Friends” are real and which are imposters who have hacked into friends’ accounts or mine.  It is all beyond annoying and I am beginning to weigh the benefits of computer usage against the daily disruption to my peace of mind.

Furthermore, “vexing” doesn’t half express my reaction to the fact that it seems to be up to individual users of the internet to protect themselves from the scammers.  I had a quick “look around” to see what, if anything, the internet, itself, is doing on our behalf.  Here was a typical “response” to my question: “People are losing more money to scammers than ever before. Here’s how to keep yourself safe.” And then… yada, yada, yada — mostly telling me who is most likely to get scammed,  I fully expected this to be us old folks… but no.  It’s Generation Z — those born between the mid-1990s and Mid- 2010s.  (The rise in Social Media seems to be the culprit here.)

And, I might add, if you want to really make yourself crazy, Google “Internet Governance” to learn more about this situation. The article begins:  “Internet governance consists of a system of laws, rules, policies and practices that dictate how its board members manage and oversee the affairs of any internet related – regulatory body.”  Almost immediately comes this sentence: “No one person, company, organization or government runs the Internet. It is a globally distributed network comprising many voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks. It operates without a central governing body with each constituent network setting and enforcing its own policies.”

Yep.  Crazy-making information that didn’t really reassure me.  In fact — the opposite.  Lists and lists of ways I must be ever vigilant which translates in my mind to hours and hours of time when I could be using my pre-electric typewriter, hand-delivering my copy to the paper or mailing my manuscripts to a publisher.  (Risking, of course, their refusal to accept such old-fashioned submissions.)

I’m still pondering.  It’s all beyond annoying.




July 21, 1969 – the beginning of a “new era”

Saturday, November 11th, 2023

Today, in one of my continuing “cleaning out and tidying up” binges, I ran across a copy of The Seattle Times — the “Night Final” edition for Monday, July 21, 1969, 50 pages, Price 10¢.  U.S. Astronauts Open New Era said the headline and the caption of a rather blurry AP. wirephoto read: ALDRIN DEPLOYED SOLAR-WIND EXPERIMENT AS ARMSTRONG, RIGHT, WATCHED.

Charlie and I were at our friends the Sorensens’ house with Marta’s dad — glued to a grainy black and white TV set, as I remember.  We thought Armstrong’s “…one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” statement was cool and wondered if he thought that up himself.  And I remember feeling truly daunted that we all might be traveling into space some day.  (I am not a courageous flyer!)

And down  in the lower right corner Sen. Kennedy Charged With Leaving Scene of Accident.  Ah, yes!  Martha’s Vineyard, Teddy Kennedy, and Mary Jo Kopechne’s death.  Everything wasn’t moon landings and roses back in July 1969.  But… in the shopping news, you could buy a Toilet Seat — “replacement seats for any bathroom for $1.99” and the Help Wanted ads said that men age 19 & over “Regardless of Draft Status” were being hired at $3.80 per hour — no experience necessary.  (The jobs being offered, however, were not explained.)

Well… all-in-all I’m underwhelmed.  With both the Times and the times.  Somehow, many of us made it through but I’m not at all sure that either the small step or the giant step has gotten us very far.  Perhaps my expectations have been too high.


Maybe I’m finally getting the hang of it…

Sunday, October 29th, 2023

Black-eyed Susans in the Autumn Sun

A gorgeous day in Oysterville today!   Cool, clear, blue and gold and yellow and amber.  Autumn in all its glory!  Not a day for introspection and yet… here I was thinking (of all things!) about the people I’ve known over my lifetime that I could not sustain as friends.  And yet…

Somehow, it started with my thinking about my two biggest failures relationship-wise.  Husband #1 and Husband #2.  But my thoughts weren’t so much about my failings as what I gained from those marriages.  Besides Charlie and Marta, I mean.  They are gifts unto themselves.

Morgan, Quad (Charlie), Sydney – 1957

No.  I was thinking that had it not been for Morgan (Charlie’s dad), how long would it have taken me to learn that I could stand on my own two feet, provide for myself and my son, and actually figure out who I was and who I wanted to become.  A huge gift received at a painful price — but a gift, nonetheless.

Bill and Sydney LaRue 1961

And had it not been for Bill, (Marta’s Dad) would I have ever thought about teaching?  Would it have occurred to me to set aside my Stanford journalism degree and start over at San Francisco State?  And without that fabulous credential and introduction to the world of elementary education what would my next thirty-nine years have been?

As I murmulled through the day, I thought about others I had known  — girls and boys of my youth, men and women of my later years — people I couldn’t seem to connect with or appreciate.  And yet… I think I probably gained from each “failed” friendship or endeavor.  If not at the time, in retrospect.  The bigger question, of course, is did they?  A question that will probably never be answered, nor does it really need to be.  At least not by me.

It was an interesting day… in my head.

Here endeth the first lesson.

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

Nyel’s Handicap Placard Too bad it’s expired, eh?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  About trying to be a little pro-active about my health and welfare.  I thought it might be a good idea now that I’m approaching 90…  (Well, not quite.  I have two years and four months to go, but today I learned that it’s a moot point, anyway…)

I’ve been thinking  that it might be a good idea to have one of those Handicap placards to hang from my automobile mirror when I need to park closer than a gazillion blocks from something.  It’s not that I can’t walk just fine.  But I don’t always feel secure.  My peripheral vision is far from perfect.  I don’t always notice curbs or buckled sidewalks My balance is okay but if someone were to bump into me (or I into them) I’d likely fall.

But mostly, it’s when I’m grocery shopping and having to schlepp my stuff up and down the rows of cars or step back and forth over the curb to get stuff out of my shopping cart into the car — that’s when I feel vulnerable.  And I don’t think i should really have to feel that way.

So I called my Primary Care person and asked if he could write me an order or a prescription or whatever for one of those Handicap placards.  “Can you walk 200 feet without difficulty?”  Well, yes.  “You don’t get short of breath like someone with emphysema might?”   Well, no.

“You don’t require a cane or other aid for walking, do you?”  Well, no.  “You can walk 200 feet without falling?”  Well,  yes.  “Sorry, the State of Washington will not issue you a Handicap placard,  You don’t fit the parameters…”  or something like that.

So there you have it.  Eat right.  Live 87 plus years without ever being overweight, breaking a bone, or needing a walking aid.  Stay active.  Take care of your eyes, your teeth, your mind.  Stay in good shape and if you get concerned that you might need a little extra support DO NOT LOOK TO THE STATE OF WASHINGTON (probably especially the DMV.)

As I said… Here endeth the first lesson.  Well, probably not the first.  Most of us over 80 know we are in the “Make-A-Fuss-Over-Then-Throw-Away” category.  The State of Washington just seems to have skipped the “Fuss Over” part.

Not Since The Civil War

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Senator Foghorn Leghorn

Nothing much in the news  surprises me anymore — mostly because I seldom pay much attention to anything beyond our local area.  (As in what’s the use?)

But there was a paragraph  in this morning’s NYT article on Menendez which did catch my eye: When politicians are unlikely to be removed, they rarely quit, and Menendez faces little risk of removal. Only the Senate can expel one of its members. It has not done so since the Civil War.

Really???  Not since the Civil War?  Not for 161 years?

Foghorn Leghorn Again

When I looked up more about it, it all became clear — and made me more disgusted than ever.  Basically, the ten senators who were removed at the beginning of the Civil War were from the southern states and they were removed for doing what their states had directed them to do.  In other words, they were doing their jobs.

Those opposed to the 1861 expulsion measure, argued that the southern senators followed the directions of their states and that no senator individually had conspired against the government.  They suggested that the expulsion rule should be reserved for individual acts of misconduct, since formal expulsion of the southern senators would only exacerbate an already inflamed situation. One of those in opposition to expulsion said he believed expulsion implied moral turpitude, a stain upon the personal character of the individuals that most would agree was unjust [in this case.]

And Yet Again

My mind whirls and twirls.  If I, as a teacher, had followed the directions of my principal, even though those directions were contrary to popular belief, should I have been fired?   But then, how can a lowly teacher compare herself to a high and mighty senator — one with gold bars secreted in the clothes of his closet.  No contest, folks.

We are so screwed up.  The mind boggles and the eyes overflow.  I KNOW BETTER than to read the news.  Shame on me!




Thunder! Lightning! Gullywashers! Oh my!

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

It might have looked like this but it was too fast for my faulty eye-brain coordination!

Linda and I met for breakfast this morning.  It was nine o’clock — a civilized hour I thought.  It was raining, but not really buckets — although I did wonder if the puddle waiting outside my car door was going to go up, up, and inside my loafers.  It was a very close thing.

So there we were, I with my back to the front window, enjoying my first bite of hash browns and darned if a dancing sunbeam didn’t light up my life.  Followed in Nano-seconds by a KABOOM that completely disabused me of that sunbeam idea!  Good Lord!  The sky didn’t even look all that stormy.

And, just as I was getting to bite four or five (with a few bites of sausage patty in between!) here it came again.  Only this time the lightning and the thunder were as one.  No space in between.  No way to tell which came first.  But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the chicken OR the egg.

Nevertheless, we had a lovely time.  When we finally decided we should make a break for it, I noted that the puddle was now quite a bit deeper than it had been.  So I went on tiptoe as fast as ever I could.  BUT WAIT!  Someone was calling me!  I hadn’t paid, a voice called out.  Yes I did! and squelched into my car.  Doncha hate it when everything happens at once like that?

I’m pretty sure it didn’t look like this.

Well, I didn’t drive clear off and the waitress, bless her, figured that I was coming over to park on higher ground — which I was.  It seems she had forgotten to take my credit card and, after a time, I thought she had brought it back.  So… I scooped it up and boogied out of there.  I felt bad for being such a dolt.  She felt bad for not taking the card right away.

And do you think the Bard was right?  Will the rain it raineth every day??

Money, News, and Other Random Thoughts

Sunday, September 24th, 2023

At last! It’s time for my signature chapeau to make its reappearance!

I can’t decide whether that advertisement that prefaces the NYT Morning in my inbox each day is meant to piss me off or give me hope.  Usually, it’s the former.  “7 ways to Retire Comfortably With $500k” it says.  Well… duh!  In my world that wouldn’t take rocket science.

I ignore the ad and scan the headlines, looking to see if there is anything pertinent in the day’s news that could make a big difference to the reality of my own retired life — a life in which the words(?), symbols(?) of “$500k” have no substantive meaning at all.  Sometimes I wonder if the NYT news, itself is slanted toward those who fit the “retired on $500k” category.  On the days I think “yes, probably” I move on to other concerns.

It’s not news to my friends that I’m not very well informed on the “big issues” that are of current times.  Or even the smaller ones.  I try to keep current on local news — mostly so I won’t be arrested for burning during the burn bans (and btw, our current one has been lifted as of today) and know when to batten down for a big storm that’s barreling in on us.  (Actually, that last one isn’t rocket science as our forebears knew very well.)

Always at the ready in Oysterville.

It’s not that I have “given up” hope for effecting change toward a better world.  Not even that I despair of “setting an example” for others or “influencing” the way young people think.  It’s just that keeping abreast of the “news” seems an incredible waste of the time I have left, whatever amount that might be.

Mostly, I think it’s what  Confucius said: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” And besides, I zoom every week with son Charlie and bonus-daughter Marta.  I can count on them to keep me up-to-date (whether or not I buy into that $500k thing.)  And it looks like rain is on its way to us in Oysterville right now.  Yay!  Life is good!

Sometimes it’s hard to choose…

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023

To read?  Or to write?  To have a day — or even better two days in a row — to do one or the other is my idea of heaven, especially if I have the leisure to spend just enjoying myself.  No deadlines.  No necessary research.  No over-riding “reason” to do one or the other.

Today I chose to write.  There will be deadlines involved soon, but I have ten days or so to blather on, delete, explore new avenues, and let my thoughts take me where they will.  Luxury to the max!  So… I spent time on two totally disparate themes.  One was “cops and robbers” and the other was “unexpected public music.”  Both (or neither) may turn into columns for the paper.

I had fun with both of them but one is too long and the other… perhaps too bland.  I’m not sure.  So, I’ve put them both on the back burner for now, am going to treat myself to my favorite all-time pasta dish — Sandy Stonebreaker’s chicken tetrazzini accompanied by sautéed snap peas with a lemon zest garni.  And then… I’ll read a Donna Leon book on my Kindle —  Give Unto Others, the 31st in her Guido Brunetti series that came out last year.  Somehow I missed it.

Dobby, Sydney, Tucker

And one more bit of perfection on this day — Tucker and I went over to  Dobby Wiegardt’s so we could have our pictures taken together!  Tucker took a selfie of the three of us.  Great picture except I look like I’m standing in a hole.  A deep one!  However, I think it will serve its purpose.  I’ll let you be the judge when you see it its proper context in the paper next week!



Shouldn’t we call it R&R Day?

Monday, September 4th, 2023

What to do on Labor Day — from Country Living Magazine

I do understand the reason that the first Monday in September is called “Labor Day.” It is our yearly celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday was first proposed when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.

But, what it has become, of course, is a “day off” — a sort of extension of summer.  One more day before school starts most years and then the work year begins anew.  Except, of course, if you work in the tourist or travel industry or happen to be a nurse or a retail worker or a first responder or…  But, I guess the point could be argued that some work does not count as “labor.”

Another Labor Day Option?

In my own case as an elementary school teacher, the holiday just came at an awkward time in the school year — within days of the opening  school some years or, in some cases it was the day before school started.  It was always just at that time when we “grade school teachers” were scurrying to get our classrooms ready for the next 25 or 30 (or when I began in 1961, 32). youngsters.

There were desks to arrange, bulletin boards to create, new curriculum materials to become familiar with, class lists to look over, the school nurse and (if you were lucky) counselor to meet with, lesson plans to prepare, worksheets to create… and on and on.  Of course that was in “the olden days” but nothing much changed during the 29 years I spent in the classroom — except, perhaps, the addition of paraprofessionals who sometimes made the work load easier… but not on Labor Day.

One Last Summer Picnic

And so… I thought the “Labor Day” moniker was apt and actually was thankful for one more day to get ready for the new school year.  But, now that I am retired and don’t usually have to scurry on this holiday, I really would like call this “R & R” Day — and find a way for all workers to have the luxury of one paid day with no work responsibilities at all.  (Yes, I have been told I live in a Fantasy World!  Hear!  Hear!)