Thursday, March 31, 2005


"The journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path. One we all must take. The gray rain curtin of this world falls away and then you see it.......a far green country under a swift sunrise."  Gandalf in Return of the King.

Well, Terri Schiavo has taken that path we all must take. I hope she finds Tolkiens' "far green country under a swift sunrise." Perhaps her spirit took that journey long ago and her body finally has the chance to catch up. Tolkien was a fellow catholic and I can't help wondering what the good professor would have made of all this.

What I really fear is that this whole sad, sorry, mess has taken another meat cleaver to the fraying threads that bind us together. Yes, they will do an autopsy. I fear that no matter what the results are, the people who didn't accept her diagnosis before won't believe the results now. They will continue to see conspiracies under the bed and the devil behind every door.

A torrent of harsh words and accusations have flashed back and forth like barbed arrows tipped with poison. Those words can't be called back. The woman got lost in the rhetoric. From what little I can tease out about the kind of person Terri was before this all started, I don't think she would have wanted this for her loved ones.

Those who saw the parents as angels or demons won't change their minds. Those who saw her husband as a murderer or devoted spouse making the best of a busted flush won't change their minds. I suspect that neither side were angels or demons. Just fallible human beings trying to make the best of that busted flush.

Which leaves the rest of us trying to figure out how to protect ourselves from ending up in the same situation. A situation where there are no good or best answers. We watched my grandmother die in end stage Alzheimers. It was long. It was slow. It was agonizing. To quote someone else. "It was as if she left and forgot to take her body with her."

We were much more fortunate with my dad. He had a lot of years of dealing with old injuries and two cancer surgeries, but when he went, it was as if someone blew out a candle.

I would like to say to all those who think they know how best to handle the end of some one else's life. The only person you can sentence to that kind of existance is yourself. Kindly leave the rest of us to deal with our own salvation in the privacy of our homes, with our immediate families. Your interference, no matter howwell intentioned will not be appreciated. Remember what paves the road to hell.

Friday, March 25, 2005


We had a nice spell of weather the first part of the month. Too nice, really, but what the heck. Caught this little lady on an Oregon Grape. There was a bumble bee too, that morning. But, by the time it lit in the vinca long enough to shoot, it landed backside up. You can see a yellow stripe and that's about all.

I love pansies. Especially the ones that have "faces." When the plants are small in the spring they remind me of little kids looking up at you. Ok, I have an overactive imagination-so sue me.

This was one of the first of the big purple safron type crocuses. I love the contrast of the purple flower and the intense color in the center. Very dramatic. I have a roll almost shot out that has some red mini tulips on it. With luck they'll turn out.

I love working with the 35mm film but........lost a roll out of the last batch. The whole roll was overexposed. I suspect that yours truly didn't get the back of the camera shut all the way. That's a first. Just goes to show you what happens when you get too busy bird watching and don't pay attention to the little things. LOL

If that's the worst thing that happens to me this year I'm not going to sweat it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


I dipped into the postings on AOL on my break on Terri Schiavo case and a lot of what I read scares the hell out of me. The amount of venom in a lot of these entries is appalling. The accusations against her husband border on the incredible. The venomous comments about opinions that writers don’t agree with are scary. On both sides, by the way. You not only don’t have the right to disagree, you not only are not fit to breath the same air, you don’t have the right to inhabit the same solar system. Heck, you don’t even have the right to be in the same universe


One comment that really shocked me basically said, “He’s the president. He has the right to intervene just because he’s the president.” Uh, did this country turn into an absolute monarchy over the weekend and I was too out of it (see previous posting about dental problems) to notice? I know that changes in how US History classes are presented in High school have made it possible to get through and never study the Civil War (in theory, anyway). Is it possible to make it through and never even look at a copy of the Constitution?


This is a decision that families make everyday. They aren’t murderers. They aren’t torturing anyone. They are trying to do the best with good sense the Good Lord gave them. Terri’s family sounds like the literal irresistible force meets the immoveable object. I wonder if anyone ever tried getting these people to agree to independent mediation. Give someone with no ax to grind on either side all the facts and abide by their decision. (Hasn’t happened yet and I’m not holding my breath.)


We had to face something similar with my grandmother. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back when the disease was just becoming well known. We kept her in her home as long as we could, then she had to go to a long-term care facility after she survived a bout with pneumonia. After becoming fully bed-ridden she finally developed a blood clot in one of her femoral arteries. (that’s the big one in your leg) Faced with the choice of amputation at the hip or letting her go, we let her go. I know she’s in a better place. She’s with my granddad and she’s at peace.


What I’m afraid of is that this whole mess is another nail in the coffin of any hope that the two most vocal sides in this country might actually talk to each other. They shout. Nobody listens. The majority of us get stuck in the middle. And nobody wins.




Uh, guys, I read some more over lunch. I didn't think it could get worse. I was wrong. :-(

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Too bad there isn't a mood entry for rueful. I wasn't playing with my pictures on Friday night.

For anyone who knows me personally-Lisa for one-it's no secret I've needed to have EXTENSIVE dental work done for years. Too many years with no dental insurance. Well, I've had the insurance for several years but avoided taking the plunge. No good reasons. I'll do it when.............. fill in the blank is taken care of.

Well, my guardian angel picked up her 2x4 this week and knocked me upside the head. Fortunately the same angel got me into what appears to be a very good practitioner who is also a surgeon and can prescribe. Unfortunately for me I have a high tolerance for discomfort and a stubborn streak slightly larger than Mt Hood.

Well, the angel is probably in the angel's lounge repeating "Creator(ess) what do I have to do to get her ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Mom is shaking her head and remarking "I figured it would take something like this to get you going." The doctor and staff were very patient and putting together a plan to help me deal with this. And I.............will be joining the Polident brigade.

You know the weird way that major problems seem to go in threes. We've allready had three major medical problems at work this year. Three of my co-workers have already had or will have major surgury this year. I'm number four and it isn't April yet. :-(

Monday, March 14, 2005


Had a great weekend. The weather was gorgeous-unfortunately it isn’t supposed to be this nice in March. A lot of the garden area is already bone dry. We’re looking at how we can set up a soaker system for most of the watering. Fortunately we are pretty much shifted to drought tolerant plantings and the shrubs like the rhodies and azaleas are very old friends. Most of it we can probably get through without too much trouble.


The light was great early Saturday and Sunday mornings so I got a lot of pictures. Hopefully most of them are worth something. News at 11 or in this case next Saturday. Yeah, I know film, how Twentieth Century. But, the digital camera option on the video camera is so-so and it’s hard to do spontaneous shots of fast moving objects like birds. Yes, I know there are digital equivalents of my Canon 35mm but, I can either replace my computer this year or buy a camera that will use all my lenses and stuff. I already HAVE a camera and I just went to a great deal of trouble to have it reconditioned. Anticipation is half the fun and I haven’t gnawed my fingernails past the first knuckle…….yet. I am looking forward to a new scanner with the transparency option so I can do my own enlargements. I love the photo cd’s but they are digital versions of 4x6 pictures. They look great on the computer but you can’t enlarge them or crop them and then print them without looking like impressionist paintings. Although……….with the right layering selections in Elements…………Hmmmmmmmm, I think I know where I’m going to be about midnight Friday while I’m catching up on my X-files episodes


I’m starting to realize how important light is, even with color photography. Plants in the yard that look totally boring at noon when there are no shadows or gradations of light are alive and glowing at 7:30 when the sun is low. And it’s totally wondrous how all the daffodils in the yard face the same way.


Spent some time Saturday working on granny squares for an afghan for mom. I’m working on my pile of surplus yarn. I was kind of pushing to get enough of one color combo done so I’d be sure I had enough yarn to make the pattern I want. I do, whooo. I’m willing to get more background color but the idea is to work down the stuff I’ve got. We’re looking at about fifteen years worth of leftovers or stuff for projects that didn’t pan out. And I’ve barley been doing any yarn work since I discovered computers so………..It’s use it or move it. Knitting and crocheting used to be my version of Valium. Good for the soul and you have something besides an empty bottle when you’re done. I have to learn to tone it down though. I tend to make afghans you could use for bedspreads rather than lap warmers. LOL

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Just some of the visitors in our yard this spring. I've never seen so many birds, and I don't think it's just because we've got the feeders out. The weather's been so great.

For best results go to view larger mode. These were all shot through the window with a 135mm lens. Actually getting one of these little guys on the wing was great. They move so fast, it's almost impossible to catch them on the wing. That and I think the little beggers know when I have the camera out.

Sunshine Saturday

Ok, most of Oregon is on the verge of a drought alert, but it's a beautiful morning and I shot out my first outdoor roll of film of the year. When I realized how sparkly the dew was on the new growth is was out the door at 7:30. And I usually can't be coaxed out of my bathrobe before nine on Saturday.

Got what I hope are some great shots of the siskins at the feeders using my 135mm telephoto. I suspect that lens is going to get a work out this summer. I hope I got a couple of good shots of a homely plant called a rock hyacinth. The leaves are homely-the flowers are a beautiful rose pink. If they work out I'll post them next week when I get the film. I know, I know, but anticipation is half the fun.

I got within about four feet of the feeder with the long lens so my fingers are crossed.

As far as new plants this year. We got an evergreen clematis last week and I think that's it for this year. New plants require more water than I think is going to be available this year. We're looking at placing soakers around the plantings that are in and putting a good layer of mulch. With luck we can get through with a cycle of good soaking every couple of weeks or so. Luckily for us we live on the east side of a hill. Even at the summer solstice we're in the shade by five. That gives us a window where the water can do the most good.

So it's off to pick up film and price hoses. Oh, and say a prayer for our microwave. Old faithful finally gave up the ghost this morning. I think it was about twenty years old. They definately don't make 'em like that anymore.

Sunday, March 6, 2005


We added a second feeder this weekend and switched to a mix of thistle seed and a mix that's specific for the finch and chickadee type birds. I think it took about ten minutes tops to spot the new feeder and we've been doing land office business this weekend. Lots of different kinds of goldfinches. I think I spotted several mated pairs. I was shooting through the window with the still setting on my video camera. The pictures aren't great. I had the telephoto setting up as high as it would go and I tended to overcompensate when I hit the shutter. I have several pictures where the birds ended up at the bottom of the picture. Ah, well. Practice, practice, practice. I dropped off two rolls of film today we'll see what comes from that. The pictures I never manage to get are the ones where there's a spirited discussion over who's going to get the perch next. If I was paranoid I'd think the little beggers know when I'm trying to take a picture of them flying around. As long as I'm looking through the view finder everybody behaves themselves. Oh, well, just another recreational impossibility.

Thursday, March 3, 2005


I’ve been following the current hoopla over the Ten Commandments with the same fascination you’d give an impending train wreck. You really have to love one lawyers’ claim that posting them isn’t really a religious exercise.  Justice Ginsberg appeared to feel constrained to ask him if he’d read the first four recently. You know the ones about no other gods, no graven images, keeping the Sabbath, that sort of thing.

I think what we have here has very little to do with faith and a lot to do with what I’ll call Civic Religion. I’m reminded of the old Roman Empire. The government didn’t really care who you worshipped as long as you showed up at the local temple to make the required offerings to the emperor.  It had very little to do with actual faith and a whole lot to do with conformity. Personally I don’t mind putting up a monument to the decalog. But, let’s also put up monument to the other great faiths. If you are going to put up a monument to one-you should open it to everyone else. I figure I’ll turn blue from holding my breath long before that happens.

I keep thinking, if this is so important to you there is nothing stopping you from keeping a card in your wallet and bringing it out and reading it regularly. If putting it on a piece of granite is important then have one made and put it in your yard. I wonder how well that would go over with some of the stricter neighborhood associations  a la the X-Files episode “Arcadia.”

And just imagine what it would be like if we actually followed the commandments. I keep picturing Moses about thirty seconds after he’s done the big run through. There’s  a long silence and then everyone starts talking at once. And every sentence begins with “What exactly do you mean by……..” Fill in the commandment of your choice.

And of course while we're all getting our knickers in a twist over this, little unimportant items like the deficit, the resumption of attacks in Iraq, that sort of thing get bumped from the front pages. Smoke screens anyone?