Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring Time In Alaska

I love filthy, dirty snow.
I love to watch it melt and go.
I love icky, cruddy mud;
It's spring!

Snow melts in gray brown rivulets,
Exposing the butts of cigarettes,
Snow goes, here comes all the crud;
It's spring!

Mittens, hats, and scarves come off,
As our winter clothes we doff.
We've been wearing them a while;
It's spring!

Birds are hanging out in pairs,
It's time to go wake up the bears,
Courtship is suddenly in style;
It's spring!

Silly Saturday Stuff

Some days I just want to make you laugh. Today is one of them.

So, for your enjoyment, I offer, a baby in a cooking pot of herbs to cure an upset stomach in the Central African Republic. Gives a whole new meaning to being "cute enough to eat." Picture from

And a link to my favorite columnist saying something genuinely funny.

Check out Jon Carrol at for
A while ago, I talked with someone who had spent much of her life writing for television soap operas. She said the formula was simple: "Tell them what they're going to see, tell them that they're seeing it, tell them what they've seen." I watched a few episodes of one soap after that; the template was pretty obvious when I knew what to look for. It explained, among other things, why a character would say, "My God, I'm fainting."

Followed, of course, by, "I think she's fainted."

Now, does that make your day go a little better?

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

53. One of my favorite kinds of homework was:

Writing stories or poems. I loved it. From early on, through the creative writing class I took in college, writing fiction was heaven. I got a typewriter when I was 12 and wrote all the time. In those days, the stories that I wrote were mostly suggested by books and stories I was reading. The author wouldn't explore something as thoroughly as I wanted, so I would sit down and do it myself. It made a lot of my early work derivative, but then the point was not to be original as much as to learn the craft. Kind of like apprentice painters learning to paint in their master's style, I was exploring styles and figuring out that dialog didn't read well when it either copied daily speech too well or not well enough. Learning the "three act" model of introduce cast, introduce problem, solve problem was a job in itself. Interestingly, in all of the folk literature, ancient classics, modern translations, etc. that I've read, that three act pattern is standard. I think it may be the way our brains function when they think about events and when they learn from stories.

I love telling stories. I am renowned for it. In my parenting classes, I used stories as the link that would allow the students to understand the theory. I think that if I had to give up telling stories, I'd be in big trouble.

Friday, March 30, 2007

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

52. These were my favorite sports in school:

Grammar school, definitely red rover. I loved it. I was always chosen first, because I did it so well. I don't know why, but if I was the one running, I figured out early on just where to throw myself. I don't remember where on the linked arms that was, but I do know that it wasn't right in the middle. It may have been more to the side of the smaller kid, I'm no longer sure. And, I also didn't let kids break through when I was holding. Again, I don't think it was strength so much as tactics. I do know that getting dirt on my hands so they wouldn't slip from my partners' was part of it.

For 5th and 6th grade, it was baseball. I loved to pitch and was a good batter, as told here Of course, then I got hit in the face with the ball, and was never able to play again. And I really felt that loss.

I also loved to dance. I took ballet as St. Mary's and in Puerto Rico. I was chosen as one of 12 girls to dance around the Maypole when I was in 6th grade. Our mothers made us squaw skirts, two of each color for the dancing partners and I loved mine. The day we had try outs I didn't realize that I was on the list because they called my name first, before I had started paying attention. I think I expected the names to be called in alphabetical order, and neither Joyce nor Ward was at the head of the line.

Later, when I was a senior in high school and attended the local community college for two classes a day, one semester I took ballroom dancing. Each dance that we learned, we had to demonstrate for our grade. We got to choose the partner we wished to be graded with, and three pairs went out at a time. I was chosen as partner by one young man in every group. When it was time for my test, the teacher laughed and said that the men had already given me my grade. I really did love to dance.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Granny Falls In Love

Now, once upon a time there was a little girl and her parents called her Joy Baby, and the adventure of that time of her life was being a little girl, and there are many stories about her, and Granny will tell you all of them that she can remember, but those are stories for another day. Now Joy Baby, who was the baby then, and whose life was complete, grew up and became Joycelyn and went to school, and the adventure of that time of her life was going to school, and there are many stories about her doing so, and Granny will tell you all of them that she can remember, but those are stories for another day. After Joycelyn was grown up, her life didn't feel complete any longer. But one day Joycelyn had a baby of her own, and his name was Richard, and the adventure of that time of Joycelyn's life was being a mother, and there are many stories about Richard, and Granny will tell you all of them that she can remember, but those are stories for another day. When Joycelyn had Richard, she became Mom. And then she had Julie, and now the adventure of that time of her life was having two babies, and her life was complete again. And there are many stories about Julie, and Granny will tell you all of them that she can remember, but those are stories for another day. Now, eventually Richard and Julie grew up, and then they moved away. Mom was very sad about this, because now her life was not complete any more. But, she knew that children are supposed to grow up and move away, and so she was glad that they had done it so very well. And the adventure of that time of her life was being on her own, but it wasn't as much fun as the other adventures had been. Richard and Julie had both turned out to be adults that Mom could be proud of, and so she went about her life and was glad.

After a while Julie met Ted, and Richard met Kathy, and they fell in love and Mom was very happy to see her two children so happy. Also, Mom was happy that now she had Ted and Kathy to love. "How lucky I am," she said, "I started with only two children, and they went out and got me two more wonderful ones to love." And so for a while Mom's life was complete again, because she had two more grown-up children to love. And the adventure of that time of her life was to love two new children. And things happened, and Mom moved to Alaska, and there are many stories about Alaska, and Granny will tell you all of them that she can remember, but those are stories for another day. Now, Mom loved Alaska, and Richard and Kathy moved there too. But Julie and Ted did not, that is not where their life led them. And Mom was sad about that. And as time went on, Mom's life was less complete. It was time for a new adventure, but it wasn't happening yet.

But before too very long, although it seemed very long to Mom, and also to Julie, Julie called Mom and said "Ted and I are going to have a baby!" And Mom was so happy, and she knew that this was the adventure for this time of her life, and just what she had wanted to make her life complete. And Granny's going to tell you all about it now, because that is the story for today. So, when the time came, Mom got on a plane and flew to Philadelphia to be with Julie and Ted when the baby was born. When she got to the airport in Philadelphia, there were Ted and Julie — and Julie looked so different, that Mom didn't recognize her at first. At first she saw Ted and wondered who that strange pregnant girl was that he was with — then she realized that that girl was Julie, with her hair brown! And Julie and Ted and Mom were all excited, because the baby was coming very soon now, and they could hardly wait. Actually, the baby was two weeks late, so they were tired of waiting.

So, one night Julie went to the hospital to get ready to have the baby, and after Ted and Mom had gotten her checked in and settled down, they talked to the midwife. The midwife said that Julie would sleep through the night, and labor would be induced in the morning, so they should go home and let Julie sleep. Ted and Mom went back to the apartment (after they went out and ate Greek food) and went to bed. The next day they got up and ate breakfast and were in no hurry because the midwife had told Mom that it would be some time before the baby came. But, pretty soon they couldn't wait any longer, so they went to the hospital. And what do you know, labor had been induced earlier than the midwife had planned, so Julie was much closer to having the baby than they had thought. So they were very glad they had left as soon as they did, actually they wished that they had left earlier.

Ted stayed in the birthing room with Julie, and Mom went to the waiting room and read her book while she waited for the baby. She knew it could be some time yet, so she had brought a very big book. Now, Mom had hardly read any of her book when the midwife came and said that Julie needed to talk to her, so Mom got her book and her cape and followed the midwife back to the birthing room. And when she opened the door, there was Julie sitting up with Maya in her arms. The baby was already here! And Mom was astounded. Julie looked so pretty and pleased, and Ted looked so proud, and Mom felt so full of love. And that was when Julie became Mama, and Ted became Dado, and Mom became Granny. Because Maya had made them so.

Now pretty soon Mama let Granny hold Maya, even though Mama never wanted to give her over for even a minute, but she loves Granny so she did. Granny looked down into Maya's face, and it was the prettiest face in the world. She kissed Maya's cheek, and Maya felt so soft, and smelled so sweet, and Granny wanted to spend the rest of her life holding Maya. When Granny looked into Maya's beautiful brown eyes she was overcome, and she felt all silly and goose bumpy and soft and fine. Granny was enchanted. She fell in love with Maya in an instant. Granny knew that now that Maya was here, the world was a finer place. Music sounded better, and food tasted better, and the snow was cleaner (even in Philadelphia) and life was altogether better. This was exactly the adventure that she was ready for now. And Granny's life was complete.

Happy 11th Birthday, Ka-Maya, Ka-Moona, Ka-Mine

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Great Berkeley Shopple Off of 1963

When I was pregnant with Richard, I seemed to be incredibly attractive to men. More of them tried to get involved with me than at any other time of my life. It was rather amazing. Among the men who were interested in me were Dick, who I later married, and Tom. I had known Dick for a couple of years, but Tom was new. I was sitting in a local hamburger joint drinking a Pepsi and he came over, asked if he could sit at my table (there were no empty ones about) and when I agreed to that, asked if I was someone's wife or girlfriend. I answered that I wasn't, but I was pregnant. Which seemed to be icing on the cake.

Anyway, soon I had Dick and Tom vying with each other for my attention. Since dueling had been outlawed, they had to find some other way to compete. The Shopple Off began when Dick walked out of a garden center with a six foot tall potted plant and gifted me with it. This was followed by Tom shoplifting the ingredients for dinner, which he then cooked for me.

So, Dick countered by liberating an entire bolt of peacock blue silk from India Imports. Tom responded with a mop and bucket for my new apartment (which happened to be with Dick), so Dick had to obtain a kitchen table with chairs. The mop, bucket, table, and chairs had come from a laundromat, walked out with in the wee hours of the morning.

Then, in what surely should have been the boldest move of all, Tom and his cousin went to the UC Student Union when they opened one Saturday, moved a couch out onto the front porch, and sat and talked until midnight, when the Student Union closed. Since the staff who closed up was not the same as the staff who had opened, they didn't know the couch belonged inside, and left it. After the streets had quieted down, Tom and his cousin carried it the three miles to my apartment. When they heard a car coming, they would sit the couch down, sit on it, and pretend to make out.

Pretty bold, you say? Well, you don't know Dick. A couple of nights after Tom brought me my couch, Dick borrowed a pickup and drove over to the UC campus at about 2:00 a.m. Outside of the Student Union were a number of slate topped coffee tables, six feet across. As Dick arrived, he saw that the cleaning crew was picking up garbage and sweeping. He checked a number of the tables, finally approached one of the crew and asked if he could help get the table on the truck so Dick could take it to be tightened.

He got the help. He got the table. He got the girl.

In A Nutshell follows with a further example of my lawless past.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

51. One of my earliest memories about school was:

When I lived with Mama, Aunt Flo, and Forrest in the trailer and went to school, there was child care provided at the school between the time class let out and when working mothers could pick up their children. I think this must have been left over from WWII, since it certainly wasn't still around when I was a working mother.

Anyway, since Mama worked, I was in that child care. I remember considering it just school, but I think there may have been someone other than our regular teacher who took care of us. One day, during nap time, the teacher went around the room, hiding peanuts (in the shells) in nooks and crannies. Since I was unable to sleep that day, I was laying quiet to avoid waking any of the kids who could sleep, and so I watched her do the hiding. After naps, we had a snack, and then she told us what she had done and allowed us to search for the peanuts. I, of course, found an unusually large number of them. When I got home, I told Mama about how many I had found and guessed that I must have been the only one who couldn't sleep. That was when Mama told me that watching the hiding gave me an unfair advantage and was cheating. That didn't seem right to me. After all, it was OK if I got something because I was smarter than other kids. And it was OK if I got it because I was faster or stronger. Why wasn't it OK because I was more alert?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Signposts to Sanity

An occasional feature where your lovin' Granny points you at somebody else's really good stuff

Shark-fu, at Angry Black Bitch has a wonderful post on The Duties of Citizenship. It starts with an update on her injured ankle, and is just an excellent run down on what we the people need to do in terms of informed voting and citizen oversight. I like to write my representatives every time they do something I agree with, as well as when I want them to vote a particular way and when I am disappointed in what they have done.

Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast discusses When Cancer Patients Refuse to Just Go Away, a compassionate, well thought out look at the ugly remarks that Katie Couric and Rush Limbaugh have made about John and Elizabeth Edwards. It is a very good read.

Digby, at Hullabaloo has an article on Faith Based Straight Jacket which looks at how intelligent conservatives are being held to the anti-science party line. Excellent work.
All of these people are obviously professional GOP whores and have a huge personal interest in trying to thread the wingnut. Some are willing to buck the base straightforwardly, notably Krauthammer, who went to medical school, but as I wrote when I first posted on this, the discomfort and dissonance is palpable among most of these people:

What do you suppose it's like to be intellectually held hostage by people who you know for a fact are dead wrong on something? It must be excruciating.

And, are you surprised that Sandy Szwarc has done it again? In Science is So Inconvenient she discusses the MSG scare.
Evil motives have been implied by the fact the MSG makes food taste better and, therefore, people might eat more. How sad that the idea of enjoying food has become something sinister among some people today.

Gold Medal

This week is Gold Medal, a regional basketball tournament that fills Juneau with players and their families from the outlying communities. At left is a picture of the team from Kake. There are games for every age group from school through elders. Basketball is very big among Native Americans, commanding the loyalty from entire communities that we used to see when our grandparents were young. Everyone who can play, plays.

And the fourth week of March, everyone from Yakutat to Ketchikan comes to Juneau to play. People get to see family and friends from the villages. They go shopping. Almost all of them come on the ferry, many with large vehicles that they fill up at Costco and Fred Meyer with items that are hard to get in smaller communities. The citizens of Juneau are used to it. We know that the stores will be fuller than usual and to take care driving. We need to take care driving because many of the villages have so few cars that when our visitors cross the street, they don't know that they need to look first. Any direction they look, they see more parked cars than there are vehicles in their home town and so they seem to go on the assumption that all the cars are parked and none are on the road.

The Native Alaskans in this region are mostly Tlingit, Haida, or Shimsian. All three have Raven stories. Raven created the world, brought the sun and stars, and brought the water, among many other things. Every year during Gold Medal I see a station wagon from one of the villages with a bumper sticker that reads, After Raven created the world, he created basketball

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

50. This is how I got to school each morning in my early years:

Well, the first school I went to was for a very short period of time, while Mama, Aunt Flo, Forry, and I lived in the trailer in Stockton. We left Forry with a woman in the trailer park and rode a bus (with two transfers) to the school, then Mama and Aunt Flo caught another bus, with one transfer, to work. By chance, they worked within a couple of blocks of each other.

Then Aunt Flo got engaged to her boss, and he bought a house with a mother-in-law cottage, and until they got married, he lived in the cottage and we were supposed to live in the house. Mama sold the trailer to buy furniture for that house. I walked a couple of blocks to school from there. That was where we were living when I Stalked the Tootsie Roll. I don't remember how long I went to that school, but what with coloring up the wall on the staircase and tempting seven year old son of one of Uncle Wes' customer's to climb out on the grape arbor and pick grapes for me, which resulted in his falling through the arbor and breaking his arm, I was soon packed off to St. Mary's of the Palms School for Girls, in Mission San Jose (which small town has since been incorporated into Freemont). And there, I lived at the school, so we got up, dressed, went to Mass (yes, every day. Yes, even me the nominal protestant child), had breakfast, and then walked to our classroom.

And then Mama married Daddy and we lived in the country outside of Stockton, and I walked to school, and on the first day wasn't used to going home from school and was so late that Mama insisted Daddy spank me as soon as he got home.

Then we moved to Puerto Rico, where I rode the school bus. And Denver and El Paso and Roswell, where I walked. And San Mateo, California where I walked until we moved and then I rode the bus. And, finally, to Modesto to live with Auntie, where I walked.

Monday, March 26, 2007

My State is Better Than Your State

In the spirit of junior high that I discovered in today's In A Nutshell, I just wanted to let you know. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

In October we get a dividend (usually around $1,000) from the state just for having lived here the previous year and intending to live here the next. Nice. In plenty of time for Christmas. Each person gets it. A couple with three children gets five. I've known people to buy a good used truck with that money. Some have put it into a house. Some have saved it for their kid's college education. Some use it to go "outside" (out of state) and visit family or go to Disneyland. Some buy school clothes with it. In some of the smaller villages, it may be the only reliable source of money all year long. Of course, there are people who waste it. Some give their kids the full amount of their checks. That can be good if a teen learns to budget for a given length of time. Not so good if a kid just has a spending spree.

The other thing, we get two state holidays. One is Seward's Day, the celebration of Seward purchasing Alaska from Russia. That's today. I have a three day weekend. The other is in October 16, Alaska Day, which celebrates the day we became a state.

Just thought you'd like to know that we have more than beautiful landscapes and northern lights and the teddy bears' picnic. More than low crime rates and wild berries. More than friendly communities and stories about Raven. More than wild flowers and glaciers and cool summers and snow capped mountains. More than fire hydrants that pop out of the earth and avalanche guns. We get money. We get extra days off.

I have today off. All for myself. To do anything I want to do.

In A Nutshell follows.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

49. This is one of the most important things about life I learned in school:

I learned three important things about life in school.

1. Because I went to so many schools, and sometimes for a very short time, I learned to make friends fast. I'm not sure if I could consciously break that down into steps, but I know I can do it. I know it involved figuring out which kids were open to a new friend, finding something I had in common with them, and opening up slowly. Not too fast -- if you rush it, you come across like the sad people you sit next to on a Greyhound bus or in coach on a plane who proceed to tell you all about their lives, giving you more information than you will ever need.

2. I also learned that people use words differently. In the south, reckon and figure and calculate all mean guess. In mathematics they mean apply mathematical rules and solve. And it isn't only regional difference, although it was regional differences that made me aware of it. Like in Puerto Rico, where an orange is a china, and in Mexico where it is a naranja. And Daddy, having lived in Puerto Rico, going into the coffee shop in El Paso and ordering a glass of numo de china, which would be Chinese blood (actually, juice of a Chinese person, so it might be something else. Say, tears.). I remember, as an adult, an argument between two people who were understanding things in the opposite manner. She said, "everything you know, you learn from books" and he was hearing, "you're an inexperienced person with nothing but book learning" and she meant, "anything anyone could ever want to know is in a book!" Being able to hear both of the meanings in things like that has made me a very effective communicator, which has been more than helpful in the work I've done.

3. Especially in junior high, everybody thinks the place they're from is the best in the world. I went to sixth grade in El Paso, junior high in New Mexico, and then did three weeks in California. There is loyalty to landscape and culture and people. And maybe that's why I love to read books and stories with local color.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

48. One of my strongest memories of college was:

The amazing sense of connection to the future I was preparing for and the past that the knowledge was built from. It was simple to see that there was an intersecting path between my life and all the knowledge of humanity, which met here. I was walking on one of many paths that wound, labyrinth like, across the intellectual and cultural landscape. Other students, coming in on similar paths, chose other trajectories through the space, while some on the same part of the maze as me, had entered from very different backgrounds. And, we would each leave at our appointed place and time, to create our own futures, enriched by the time we had spent here.

At the same time that I was aware of the connection of this time and place to past and future and to all the world, it was very much of the here and now, a time off from the rest of life, a place unconnected to many of the stresses and mundane concerns of before and after college. There was a sense of timelessness that was wonderful. What happened here was something that could happen no place else. The deadlines of tests and term papers had a rhythm of their own, distinct from the rhythms of the work world. The exploration of who I was in relation to this larger, more possible world was amazing.

It was an opportunity, because I was young enough not to be tied to adult responsibilities and yet old enough not to be answerable to my parents in all things, to really explore what was possible for me. What I could become, what made me comfortable and what made me uneasy. I tried different identities, even dressing the parts. One semester it was sensitive poet (not a good fit for a woman who would later dress as Raggedy Ann when she was pregnant), another it was intrepid reporter, yet another it was Ayn Rand devotee. I could take different classes and see how what I was learning felt in my life, how did it apply to me.

I explored friendships in ways I hadn't before, finding myself, because of dorm living, with more female friends than in high school or earlier. Discovering the fun of groups of girls.

I dated a med student and a forestry student and a music major and even someone from my old high school who I hadn't known well in those days. I tried out going steady and playing the field and being hard to get. I had friends who were almost preppy and off campus friends who were bohemian (no one spoke of hippies yet). From frat parties to poetry readings in coffee houses, there was an entire smorgasbord of identities and ideas to explore.

My first semester I had two roommates, one Japanese who taught us to eat with chop sticks. My second semester I had a roommate from Los Angeles who had been acting in educational films since she was six. Hell, we even had a fire in our dorm!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Signposts to Sanity

An occasional feature where your lovin' Granny points you at somebody else's really good stuff

You might like to take a look at Why Having More No Longer Makes Us Happy by Bill McKibbon at . He discusses how in today's world, where we already have more than enough to survive with style, increased prosperity no longer equals increased happiness. Indeed, it may lead to increased stress, and decreased happiness, partly because of the loss of community and connectedness.

I was googling Anchorage, fire hydrant, cold to get further information on the fire hydrants popping out of the ground, and google took me to an article by Big Mitch Schapira at his blog, What We Know So Far, on voter suppression in Anchorage that involved using a helicopter to drop a chain on the power lines and opening the fire hydrants on a winter day and creating ice on the roads. It was a wonderful post, and by a blogger I hadn't encountered before. As I explored his blog, I ended up adding it to my political blog roll. Here is an article on the current US Attorney firings.
Suppose you had a small business, and you hired a secretary. After a bit, you decided that you didn’t want him or her to work for you anymore. You could fire the employee with impunity: you don’t need a reason. Likewise, if you discovered that your employees were stealing from you, you could fire them because, obviously, you have a good reason. The point is you can fire an employee for a good reason or for no reason.

But now suppose you discovered that your secretary was married to a member of a minority group. If you decided to fire the employee for that reason you would be guilty of discrimination, and your conduct would be actionable. You can fire for a good reason, or for no reason, but not for a bad reason.
I really like this guy. And, he's here in Alaska!

Over at Huffington is an article on The White House's "Voter Fraud" Fraud by Francis Wilkinson.
when the desperadoes behind the White House sandbags shout "voter fraud" in an attempt to justify their crude politicization of every nook and cranny of our government, I hopeBob Poe's experience with Bush justice will not be totally forgotten. When a cry of "fire" goes out from this White House, you can be all but certain you've just heard the voice of arson.

In A Nutshell follows.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

47. This is why I went to college:

I don't think that it ever occurred to me, once I had heard about college, that I wouldn't go. I even intended to go to grad school, as soon as I knew about that. I ran into a friend from high school after a number of years and he asked me if I had a PhD. yet, and I responded with, "No, the highest you can go in Montessori is a masters." Which, of course, I had.

I loved school at every level. I knew I would love college. I was counting on it to find a boy friend. Auntie used to tell me, as I hung out with my group of boys but never dated, that once I got to college, where all of the boys were smart, it would be easier. And it was. I was dating almost at once. Of course, I didn't have any idea of what I was doing, and the guys did, which led to some situations I can laugh about now but which just confused the hell out of me then.

Anyway, I went to college to become an archaeologist, and when I returned after Julie was born, to become a child psychologist. I am so lucky -- before I committed myself to grad school, I went out and talked to several child psychologists and they all told me that it was very frustrating work, because parents brought you their kids and wanted you to fix the kid (which usually meant make him more obedient) when it was the parent who needed fixing. I didn't want to do that,and I have since seen psychologists who work with children who have been removed from their parents, and that is harder still.

So, instead of going to grad school in psychology, I went to grad school in Montessori education and worked with kids in a way that didn't involve "fixing" them.

Friday, March 23, 2007

How to Steal an Election
A Cationary Tale in Three Sentences

In Stockton, California, where Mama, Aunt Flo, and Forrest live, the first election was stolen. The candidates and their friends were waiting outside the polling place and by mid afternoon it was apparent that candidate A was going to win, because it was all his friends and supporters who were coming in to vote, so candidate B ran in, grabbed the ballot box, ran out, jumped on his horse and rode off into the tule swamp.

Got out in the middle, with a posse right behind, and flung that box into the middle of it, where it sank out of sight.

Photo of an Indian in the tule swamp, from 1924.

In A Nutshell follows.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

46. When I was very young I thought I would be this when I grew up:

I always wanted to write. I wrote stories as soon as I put words on paper. Also poems. When I was 12, I started my first novel. Wrote. Wrote. Wrote. Took all the classes in school that would allow me to write. Wanted to write science fiction for a long time. Wrote poems. Wrote essays. Wrote stories. Loved it.

I also wanted to be a lot of other things when I was young. I wanted to be an astronaut (although I'm not sure how I would have felt about that had I known about the diapers) and a lighthouse keeper (lots of time and few distractions, plenty of time to write) and work my way around the world on a tramp steamer (and, I wonder, were there even any tramp steamers left when I was growing up? Were they like clipper ships, already gone?) and an astronomer and an archaeologist. I majored in anthropology my first two years in college, and only gave up the archaeologist dream when I went back as the mother of two babies -- the possibilities of taking two small children to the wilds for field work were not very high. I wanted to be a reporter, was on the Daily Californian at college and the very first story I wrote (a humorous piece about a Big Game stunt that Stanford had pulled on UC) was not only published on the front page, I got a by-line. Unheard of for a first semester freshman. Actually, when I dropped out of college, I intended to write the great American novel, and all of my exploration of hippy life had that subtheme under it -- this was going to make a great novel. When I went back, I knew I had to find a job with a paycheck -- but, oh, I look at how J. K. Rowling did it, and I wish I could have done that.

When I look at this list, it seems to me that what I wanted, most of all, was adventure. A chance to do something that not everyone, especially not every woman, got to do. To go places and see things and know that I had really lived.

It is interesting to me when I think of how what I wanted to do then relates to things I did later. I was a records management consultant at one time, and as I was examining the decades old files at the Contra Costa Water District, I felt very like a cross between Nancy Drew and Margaret Mead -- digging into layers of past artifacts, cataloging them, discovering what they meant. I've certainly traveled. I've done things most people don't do -- lived on a homestead in Alaska, been a Montessori teacher, pulled myself up by my roots and started over at 51.

A lot of the things I wanted to be were about finding out about people. And I have done a lot of work that involved finding out about people.

And every job I ever had involved writing. Writing stories and songs for my students in Montessori. Writing reports and grant proposals and training handouts and training plans. I even had two secretarial jobs where I wrote the procedure manual for the agency. Writing press releases and print ads. Writing reports for the court in two different jobs. Today I have been working on a grant proposal that's due April 2.

And one thing I did not want to do was be a housewife. Achieved that.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Snowfall Update

As of Wednesday morning, we have over 195 inches of snow for the year-to-date. That's one inch above the record set in 1964-65. As we have inched closer and closer, overcoming one record at a time --tied for fourth, above fourth, above third -- we have taken to saying, "Hell, we're this close, what's a little more inconvenience? Let's go for the record!" As though it were something that we are doing! Well, we did it. And now, everyone is saying, "OK. Good for us. Now this damn stuff can stop falling."

Yesterday we got snain (wet globes of snow that melt on impact -- too solid to be rain, too pellet-like to be snow), last night rain, and this morning nothing is falling out of the sky. Of course, this rain has changed the conditions of the snow pack, so yesterday they were out on Thane Road with the big guns, causing controlled avalanches, so we don't get any uncontrolled ones. There is still some concern, since we have a lot of what is suddenly unstable snow on the mountains.

You might like to check out SNOW AVALANCHE: their characteristics, forecasting and control by Edward R. LaChapelle, Avalanche Hazard Forecaster, Wasatch National Forest, Utah, U.S. Department of Agriculture, if you are engineering minded.
The commonest technique is artificial release, which brings down avalanches at a chosen safe time and inhibits formation of large avalanches by relieving slopes of their snow burden piecemeal in small ones. Slides on small paths are sometimes intentionally released by skiing, but the preferred method is the detonation of a brisant high explosive on the snow surface close to the expected fracture line. One kilogram of TNT or its equivalent is considered the minimum reliable charge. The charge may be placed by hand, but this can be difficult and is sometimes dangerous. Artillery shells, armed with superquick point detonating fuzes, are much more efficient, for a number of targets can quickly and safely be engaged from a single gun emplacement. Principal disadvantages of artillery are limitations to military or government use and possible damage from shrapnel dispersion. Mortars, light howitzers, and recoilless rifles have all been successfully used for avalanche control; the 75mm recoilless rifle is the most practical weapon for this purpose. Where frequent artificial release is undertaken to protect a ski area or highway, a fixed artillery emplacement permits increased efficiency by blind firing during storms or at night. Artificial release cannot be effectively employed at random. It must be based on accurate appraisal of snow and weather conditions, and careful selection of targets.

At least we aren't in Anchorage -- they have had such a cold winter that the ground is frozen nine feet down, and the city water pipes are only down ten. The city pipes are still running fine, but the feeder pipes from the city pipes into homes are freezing. And, fire hydrants are popping out of the ground. Now that's something I've never seen, and think I would like to.

Update on the update. Two days ago, I went out at noon and was having to walk with extra care to keep from slipping on the ice. Today I went out at noon and was taking care not to walk in puddles, because I have a hole in my left boot upper. That's the thing about weather in Alaska -- it can change very suddenly.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

45. I liked this subject a lot in junior high or high school:

I loved all of my literature classes. Being assigned to read fiction instead of a text book was right up my alley. Being able to write things myself and have my teachers appreciate it was also a lot of fun.

In American Lit, with Mr. Marconi, I was able to choose my favorite American author for one of my term papers and explored James Thurber. We also wrote a short story, which was fun. In studying short stories we explored all of the factors that go into fiction and I began to see why I liked particular writers more than others -- for one thing, I discovered that I appreciate local color. When I read something, I want it to feel like only one place on earth. If it could happen anywhere, if you can't tell where it takes place, I am quickly bored.

In senior year we had English Lit, with a lovely woman teacher whose name I've forgotten. One of our assignments was to write poems for the six weeks that we studied them. My first poems were long and convoluted with references to Mayan gods no one had heard of. My teacher assigned me to write nothing but Haiku for the rest of the quarter. It was a hard lesson, but it was one of the better ones I ever had. It was in that class that I wrote my favorite Haiku, one which the teacher simply read aloud as an example to the class of what they should be without reading it first because she saw my name on it. How was I to know she would do that?

A cat with kittens
All scampering before her
Regrets brief pleasures.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Richard and Julie are snowflakes -- each a unique individual. Of course they have their similarities, so do real snowflakes. I could be suddenly thrown back into pregnancy, and it wouldn't take me long to know just what child I was carrying, even if there were no external clues.

Does this child get the hiccups? Kick by flinging out and hitting me all at once with two hands, two elbows, two shoulders, two feet, two knees, a butt and a head (the first time that happened, I thought there was a litter in there. A large litter!)? Move and stretch and wiggle? Be quiet when I walk and active when I lay down? This one is Richard.

Does this child lay low and move quietly? One part at a time? Put a foot on my pelvis and stretch out as tall as can be, pushing in both directions? Reach out and touch me like a kitten? This one is Julie.

Both were born early, but Richard and I had the false labor routine three times before he finally did it. And then, the doctor had to drop his coffee and catch him, because once he did it, he really did it. Julie, as usual, lay low and, only after the placenta started to part, had to be induced to come out. Wasn't really sure she was ready.

Richard was so focused on learning to walk that he never really crawled. He scooted on his butt for a while. He stood in the middle of the room and fell and stood and fell and stood and fell. Until he could manage to stay up, he stood up holding on to something, and walked that way. He would pull himself up on the wall and walk around the room till he got to the door, following me from room to room, refusing all offers of help, sometimes going around three and a half walls instead of crawling four feet. By the time he was nine months old, he was walking through the middle of the room.

Julie just crawled away, pulling herself up to see Richard if he was in a chair or on the bed, but otherwise content to live on the floor. Never stood up in the middle of the room. I never saw her stand and fall. Never walked while holding on to something. Just as I was beginning to wonder if she was ever going to walk, one day when she was 15 months old, she crawled out to the middle of the room, stood up, and walked. And walked. And walked. Walked until she suddenly lay down, right where she was, and slept. Did that for days -- walk, sleep, walk, sleep, occasionally eat. Slept in the middle of the floor. Slept under the table. Slept in the doorway. No practice for her. Wait and do it perfectly.

Richard said his first word, "light," at nine months. He added words every day at a terrific rate, one of his first ones being "what?" as he pointed to the thing he wanted identified. By the time he was a year old, he was talking in short sentences. We went to the clinic, and the intern who saw him asked if he had started trying to talk yet and when I said he could say over 25 words, laughed at me and told me that I was hearing "mamammaa" as Mama and such. So, I said, "Say hi to the doctor, Richard" and he said, "Hi, doctor" very clearly.

Julie hadn't said a word at 15 months. I was studying child development at UC Berkeley, and the books said second children talked earlier than first, and girls earlier than boys, and if she hadn't obviously been very bright, I might have been worried. She didn't need to talk -- she would sit on her knees, bounce up and down, and depending on what gestures she made, Richard would tell me what she wanted. If I was sitting studying, she would crawl up behind me and touch me on the back of the knee, I would look down, and she would bounce. And then, one morning when she 15 and 1/2 months old, we were visiting my folks, and she walked out while Mama and Daddy were having coffee and the rest of us were asleep, looked around, and said, "where's the little dog?" And after that, she talked all the time -- always in complete sentences.

They even followed their patterns with their teeth. Richard would cut one at a time, and they were hell -- his saliva and urine turned very acidic and the first I knew that a tooth was coming was when he got diaper rash, followed by a runny nose. One by one, painful and horrible and it made life hell the whole time. Julie would wake up with four new teeth, no signs that they were coming.

I've already told you about going for a walk with them, with Richard out front in a hurry to get to the next place, and Julie in back, examining the tiniest things with intense concentration. Going to a restaurant, even to this day, is a trip. Richard knows what he wants immediately, often before we get there because he is going to that restaurant to have that dish. Julie has to read each item, think about how that will taste and how she will feel if she eats it, and then run her short list through the drill -- when she was little, by the time she was ready to order, we could have been out the door and on to the next thing on our agenda. And then, she ate so slowly. I have to confess, that I did something that I now know could lead to a minor eating disorder (and I'm so glad it didn't!); when she was four, I made the rule that after everyone else finished a meal, she had another 20 minutes and then I took the plate. I put out a timer so she could see how much time she had. Last time I talked to her about this, I was trying to figure out why I didn't just leave her there -- I could have done the dishes with the next meal's. But now I remember. I would have had to go to work, leaving her at the table instead of taking her in the car to the child care provider. She would have been sitting at the table for hours after I was asleep in bed.
In A Nutshell follows.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

44. One of my more memorable teachers in junior high or high school was:

Miss Whitney, the Latin teacher. Miss Whitney had been retired for a couple of years, when one May, the Latin teacher died. The school called on her, because she had previously taught all the romance languages, speaking a total of 14; not all of them romance, obviously. So, she taught herself enough of the language over that summer to teach Latin I and raced to keep ahead of her students until she could teach all four years. She was the youngest of the three Misses Whitney, all of whom were brilliant. And none of whom ever married. (Too often the fate, especially in those days, of really brilliant women.) She loved to tell the story of when she was 15, and one of them read a word in a book that she wasn't sure how to pronounce. The three of them had a discussion. The eldest said she thought it was mize eled. My Miss Whitney said it was mizzled. But, since the middle one had been all of 15 when she graduated from college (the oldest of the three) no one listened to her when she correctly declared it was misled.

Miss Whitney was a very fat, elderly woman who wore gardenias in her cleavage the entire time they were in bloom, which in the central valley of California is many months. She still wore rouge, in an age when no one else did. It was a marvel to all of us, not only her students, but also my particular friends, and many others, that although to describe her made her sound clownish, to see her did not. She was not, somehow, ever a figure of fun, but rather of dignity and warmth. You knew that she loved teens; she enjoyed being with us, and we enjoyed being with her. And we all agreed, that she was eccentric in the most delightful sense.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Richard Takes Care of Them All

This is a story that Granny wrote for Maya, when Maya was about three or four, about Richard, when he was six.

Now, one Sunday evening in September, the very day after Maya and her Mama and Dado moved into their new house, Granny and Maya talked on the telephone. As it happened, Granny hadn't written a new story for Maya for two or three weeks, because she had been sick, and she had e-mailed Maya's Mama to let her know that and Maya's Mama had told Maya so that Maya would know that Granny stilled loved her even when she didn't mail her new stories. So, when Granny called that Sunday evening, Maya wanted to talk to her on the phone, so she did.

"The first thing I did was look for the cheese, Granny," Maya said. Dado had already told Granny that after he and Mama moved all their possessions to the new house and cleaned up the old one, they had taken Maya to say good-bye to the old house and to see that all of their things were gone. They wanted her to know that every single little thing they owned was in the new house. And when they went into the old, empty house, Maya ran right to the refrigerator to get some cheese, but the cheese had gone to the new house. So, since Dado had told her about it, Granny knew just what Maya was talking about.

Then Maya said, "I have my own bedroom, Granny." And Granny said, "Do you like your new bedroom, Maya?" and Maya said, "Granny, next week I am going to come and visit you. When I come to your house, I am going to take care of you, Granny." So then Granny knew that Maya knew she had been sick. Granny was very happy that Maya wanted to take care of her, and she wished that Maya really could come and see her next week. But then she remembered that she was going to go see Maya for Thanksgiving, and so she was very happy about that.

Now, when Granny got off the phone, she thought about Maya wanting to come to Juneau and take care of her. She thought about it before she went to bed, and she dreamed about it when she was in bed, and the very first thing she thought about when she woke up the next morning was Maya wanting to come to Juneau and take care of her. She thought about it so much that when she met Aunt Kathy for lunch, she told her about it. Aunt Kathy agreed with Granny that Maya was just the sweetest little sweety, and they had a good talk about her as they ate their Filipino food.

When Granny was walking back up the hill to her apartment, she still was thinking about Maya wanting to come and take care of her. Then she thought about when Maya's Mama was a very little girl named Julie, and her Uncle Richard was a little boy named Richard, and Granny was a young mother named Mom, and how twice she got sick and both times Richard took care of her and of Julie, both.

The first time that happened, Mom and Richard and Julie were living in Stockton, and Richard was 5 and Julie was 3. Mom got pretty darned sick with the flu, and she could hardly stand up. So, she went to the living room and lay on the couch, and Richard took care of her and of Julie all day. When it was time to eat, he fixed peanut butter sandwiches for Julie and himself (Mom was not hungry). And when it was time to go to bed, he helped Julie get ready for bed, and he got himself ready, and off they went. All day long he brought Mom water and made sure she was doing okey. And Mom didn't know what she would have done without him.

The second time, Richard was 6½, and Julie was 4½, and they were living on the homestead in Fairbanks. Now, the homestead was a very frontier place to live in 1969, and although it had electricity (so there were lights, and a refrigerator, and a tv) it didn't have water or plumbing (so Mom had to go out to the creek to get water to wash dishes with and everybody had to go outside to the potty) and it had a potbellied stove, and Mom had to bring coal in for the stove in buckets. So, it happened that this time when Mom got sick it was winter and the ground was covered with snow and it was very cold, so the stove had to be kept burning with coal. Mom was very sick this time and couldn't do much at all for several days. And all that time, Richard went out to the coal shed and brought in coal and kept the stove going. Now, remember, Richard was only 6½, so he couldn't carry in much coal each time, so he had to go back out and get bucket after bucket. And he had to put it in the stove just right so the fire wouldn't go out. And he fixed meals for himself and Julie, and this time he was older and he could fix soup as well as sandwiches. And this time, again, Mom didn't know what she would have done without Richard.

And when Mom thinks about that these days, she is still so proud of Richard and so thankful that he was able to take care of her when she was so sick.

Signposts to Sanity

An occasional feature where your lovin' Granny points you at somebody else's really good stuff

Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast has written the fantasy of the stoic warrior, a post about returning Iraq War soldiers and PTSD that you really should read.

Echidne of the Snakes sent me to this story of mid-feminism reality that is important for all working mothers The Opt Out Myth in Columbia Journalism Review.

And then, harking way back to my post on Sexualizing Children, you might want to read Echidne's own Spaggheti Straps and Lasagna which deals not only with the sexualization of young girls, but with society's tendency to hold mothers responsible for negative social trends.

Over at there is a piece For the Christian Right, Gay-Hating Is Just the Start, By Chris Hedges dealing with the frightening path that the religious right is trying to lead us down.

In A Nutshell follows.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

43. I really enjoyed this junior high or high school grade:

Choices! Choices! I thoroughly enjoyed every grade, school was a wonderful experience for me, and so it is really not possible for me to choose my favorite. But, I can tell you a little about each.

I did junior high in Roswell, at North Junior High. I had chorus there, which is more remarkable than you know. I can't carry a tune and it never would have occurred to me to take chorus, since my prior experience with singing in school had been to be instructed to lip sync for performances. But the teacher at this school was good. She paid attention to what I did and she moved me around and she discovered that although I can't carry a tune, if you put me next to someone who can, no matter how light a voice that person has, I can and do follow her -- and my voice is so strong that the rest of the section can follow me. I got to sing in public. And, my voice was helpful!

We moved to California the week after 8th grade graduation, and discovered that the school year in California ended later than in New Mexico, so I got to do three junior high post-graduate weeks. I don't remember the name of the school, but there I met two girls who turned me on to Eric Frank Russell, one of my favorite science fiction writers.

I did my first two years of high school at Hillsdale HS, in San Mateo, California. That's where I met Kate, who is still in my life and always a delight. And I remember one day, when I was on crutches for a sprained ankle and had decided that I would be pretty that day and so wasn't wearing my glasses. I was hobbling along and saw a friend of mine approaching and smiled and he said, "That looks difficult, can I help you?" I think he was offering to carry my books (in the days before backpacks, doing crutches and school books was difficult) and I responded blithely, "Well, handsome, you could carry me" and then got close enough to actually see his face and realized that I didn't know this boy. Sort of the highlight of feeling stupid. Never went without my glasses again.

My final two years of high school was at Thomas Downey HS in Modesto, California. That is the home of the Elves, Gnomes, Leprechauns, and Little Men's Chowder and Marching Society. It's where I met Julie's father. From Downey, I still have Jane and Robert and Michael as dear friends. It was at Downey that I had Mr. Marconi, who taught me much wisdom.

Monday, March 19, 2007

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

42. I had some trouble with this subject in junior high or high school:

I had a bit of a problem with chemistry. I loved the experiments and enjoyed what I learned, but then on exams we would be given a question of parallel processes -- what would happen if you combined substance A with substance C, when we had experimented with A and B and C acts like B -- and I wouldn't have any idea. That certain chemicals had similar qualities was not obvious to me at all. I did OK in the class, but I was often frustrated when I got my tests back and the teacher's notes made it obvious that, yet one more time, I hadn't even considered that what we had done in lab was related to the question.

I didn't do well when I took a survey course on physics in college, either. The lever, the wedge, and the incline plane were about the extent of where physics was easy for me.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Maternity Wear

One of my favorite nieces, as well as a number of friends of mine, is/are currently pregnant. One of these happy women is my office mate, Jessica. Today we got to talking about maternity wear. This is the second child for Jessica, and so last night she got out her box of maternity clothes -- and realized that her pregnancies are unsynchronized. When you live in Alaska, it is no help to have clothes from last time, if you were in different stages during different seasons. Jessica hasn't a single thing that will do this time -- this baby is due in August and Celia was born in October. So all of the seasonal clothes are just a little too small for this pregnancy.

Which got me to thinking about maternity wear. About my mother, who was broke during her first three pregnancies and so wore my father's pants with a piece of clothes line tying them shut under his shirts.

When I was pregnant with Richard I wore my regular clothes, because I have a wide pelvic girdle, and Richard was a small baby who was born a little early and I never needed maternity wear. With Julie, although she was smaller and born earlier, I did gain enough. Since I had long red braids at the time, I made myself outfits modeled on Raggedy Ann. This gave me clothes that I wouldn't grow out of and satisfied my sense of whimsy. And, years later, when an adult Julie and I went to a Halloween party from different cities, and I came as a little girl and she came as Raggedy Ann, there was a feeling of rightness about it.

In the days of Scarlett O'Hara, women "in the family way" didn't go out in public once they were big enough to show. In my mother's and my days, we did but we covered the belly with a tent so that, although you could see that we went out, you didn't see where we went back in. Today's maternity clothes are amazing to me, in a wondrous way. Not only are some of them tight around the middle, showing off that pregnancy nicely, but some have bare bellies. Pregnancy, they declare, is a thing to be proud of! And, indeed it is.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Signposts to Sanity

An occasional feature where your lovin' Granny points you at somebody else's really good stuff

For those of us who may feel that we are not exercising enough, and that it is impossible to exercise too much, please go over to see Sandy Szwarc at Junkfood Science and read about the downside of high impact exercise. The fact that people in their 40s are having joint replacement surgery because they thought they were doing something that was good for them, and perhaps forced themselves to do so under the idea that "no pain, no gain" is sobering.

And while you are at it, check out her article on the neurological harm that is too common with weight loss surgery.

And just to round things out, Cooking Up Fears not only deals with the hype about the danger of Teflon cookware, it also has a lovely rundown on how fears are created and exploited -- a thing we can all use understanding of.

And in a variation of the theme of harm masqurading as good, do go over to and read The Sport of King George by David Michael Green for an in-depth look at supporting the troops.

And here we have an editorial cartoon from the Juneau Empire, March 16, 2007. Gotta love it.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

41. I had a lot of fun with this subject in elementary school:

When I went to St. Mary of the Palms School for Girls, in second and part of third grade, we had a class that was probably reading and writing -- it was certainly too young an age to be called English. Each week there would be a poem written out on the blackboard for us to copy into one of those lovely sewn black marble cover composition books.

I no longer remember what poems they were, but I know that I thoroughly enjoyed the copying and reading the poems to myself over and over again. Learning to remember longer and longer phrases as I copied, so that I didn't have to look up for every word, was very exciting.

I long ago lost those composition books, but I still love them. Since, these days, I copy things that I intend to keep forever on the computer, I don't ever use them, but I seldom see one that I don't have a mild urge to buy it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Don't national leaders read Shakespeare any longer? Do they never worry about Nemesis?

I have spent the last six years on a see-saw. One side is "the world is going to hell in a hand basket and the people in power don't care" and the other side is "you can't fool all of the people all of the time". One side up, I watch this horrible war and the erosion of the Constitution and the loss of civility in our country and our country's loss of international respect and people listening to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly and people like Alberto Gonzales and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and G.W. Bush occupying positions of power and despair of what world we are leaving our grandchildren.

Other side up and I celebrate all of the liberal bloggers and internet news sources, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Keith Olbermann, who see what is happening and are not afraid to say it. I see that some of the scum are being driven from office. and I have hope that the American people are seeing what is happening and will act to stop it.

Part of the problem with trying to maintain optimism is that, although Mussolini was hung and Hitler shot himself, before they came to their bad ends, they did more harm than can ever be calculated. The thought of just how much harm can be done by our current authoritarian leaders is truly frightening.

In that one up position on the see saw, I look at how rapidly things are unraveling at present. One scandal after another, with barely enough time to catch my breath. Some of these things we have been reading about, from Echidne to, for years now. As they hit the main stream media, people who get their news in more traditional ways are finally seeing. (Of course, those people who rely on Fox News still aren't getting the truth, but you can fool some of the people all of the time, after all.)

Scooter Libby, and the not-so-surprising evidence that outing Valerie Plame came from the White House and that this administration is more interested in punishing critics than in protecting the country. Building 18, and the awareness that the White House doesn't care enough about the troops to equip or train them properly before sending them into their fourth or fifth rotation, and it doesn't care enough about them to house the wounded in vermin free quarters. The announcement that the new pumps put into New Orleans didn't work when they were installed last year and still haven't been repaired. (And how, I ask, do we have newly manufactured pumps that need repair?) Plans for Halliburton to gather together its ill gotten gains and move operations to Dubai, where they will no longer have to even pretend to pay taxes or follow regulations but will continue to overcharge and under produce on no-bid contracts.

The firing of the US Attorneys, allowing us to see exactly how politicized the Justice Department has been. As if Alberto Gonzales deciding that the Geneva Conventions are quaint, that it isn't torture unless it feels like you are dying or your organs are failing, that the Constitution is wrong and we don't have checks and balances but rather a unitary presidency, that the Constitution doesn't guarantee the right of Habeas Corpus isn't enough, he now fires US Attorneys with excellent performance evaluations who either don't investigate enough Democrats, don't leak to the press that they are investigating Democrats, or do too good a job investigating Republicans.

People thought we were conspiracy theorists when we believed that the GOP has been stealing elections since at least 2000 and were concerned about the 2006 election might be next. And now we find out that purging voter lists and not supplying enough voting machines to Democratic districts and redistricting Texas to create more GOP House seats and pushing through laws to require picture ID to vote in states where many Democrats (such as tribal elders) don't drive and would be gravely pressed to obtain a picture ID and voting machines that are manufactured by GOP supporters and are simplicity itself to hack and have no paper trail is not the end of it. Harriet Meir* Karl Rove wanted to fire 93 Republican US Attorneys and replace them with men who would be more willing to investigate Democrats and leak about it right before elections. Alberto Gonzales settled for eight.

It is amazing just how far into the muck that hubris will drag a person. The idea that he is above the law and somehow special and entitled to do and take what he wants has led Bush into an amazing path of self destruction. Finally, Nemesis looms over his shoulder and may just take him down.

So, enjoy. I'm getting off my see saw, modeling my behavior on The Man With No Name and pulling up a chair on the boardwalk in front of the saloon, and watching the show.

* Let no one say I allow a fall gal to stay a fall gal when I learn better.

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

40. One of my more memorable teachers in elementary school was:

Oh, choices, choices. The hard thing about it is that I was in elementary school in the late 40s and early 50s and that is a loooooong time ago. In order for someone to be memorable, I have to remember them, and that would be easier if I hadn't changed schools so often and if I weren't now so old.

Most kids know about teachers in higher grades years before get there and still see teachers from lower grades as they walk through the halls of the school. My experience was that most of the time, I was only in a given school for part of one grade, and so I didn't know any teachers ahead or behind me. I didn't go into fourth grade already knowing the teacher and I didn't see her when I was in fifth grade and wish I still had her (or be glad I didn't).

So, from second grade I remember Sister Legara, who had me trace templates in art because I didn't draw well. And from third grade, Sister Patrick because she was so tall and had such a soft voice and loving manner.

And from sixth grade, Mrs. Rogers, who was renowned for being "too strict" but who kept the class in order, so that the kids who wanted to learn got a chance to do that. And, the first day of class, when I couldn't read what was on the board and she had me come and stand closer until I could, she called my mother and told her I needed glasses because I got almost close enough to the board to touch it. Two weeks later, when I came in with my glasses, she smiled and said that didn't surprise her at all and asked how I liked them -- and I loved them, because I could see! Not only what was on the board, but bricks in buildings and the stars on the flag and leaves on trees and when people smiled at me. I could look at something and not be accused of staring. I didn't have to ask kids around me to read me the homework assignment.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Weather Report:
Broken Record

It just piles up and piles up. The city is plowing almost every day and on the few days when they aren't plowing, they are loading snow into dump trucks and hauling it either to the channel or the deep woods, depending on which is closer. I've lost count of the number of times my exterior stairs have been shoveled this year, I'm just really glad that my landlady takes care of it. Last week she had two young women out shoveling the snow off my living room roof. There are ice cycles hanging off most roofs. Then we get a warmish day, and it begins to melt, and if it is on a pitched roof, it can come down all at once like an avalanche. Too much of a good thing.

We are well on our way to breaking the record for snowfall this winter. At this point, we have already had the fourth highest, at 177 inches (223 at Eagle Crest, our local ski area). If it continues as it has been doing, we could easily get above the 194 inches of the current record. That's Alaska for you -- every year that I lived in Fairbanks was the record for something. Most snow. Earliest snowfall. Most windy days. Latest breakup. Something. It isn't that consistently record breaking in Juneau, but it is always something to talk about.

And we are currently experiencing 11 1/2 hours of sunlight a day. I have turned off the porch light for the season. Since my newspaper is delivered (carried by hand up the stairs and placed in the box) before I get up, when I turn it on in the fall I just leave it on. When I leave in the morning, I am going to need it on when I return. Once I turn it off, it is off until fall.

In A Nutshell follows.