Saturday, March 31, 2007


Whoooo, this shot edited out a little larger than I thought is was. The tulips are up now, but it's been cloudy all day so they haven't opened up yet. At least when I've been home to see it. The shrub with the beautiful white clusters of little bell flowers is an andromeda. The new leaves come in red and then turn green. The lavender is just beginnng to put on some new growth. The green leaves at the back are autumn crocus. You get leaves in the spring and blossoms in the fall. There's still plenty of opem space this time of year, I'm just careful where I point the camera.

Same plants, different angle. The dafs are beginning to come off the peak. They don't much care for getting rained on, bows them down a bit.

The pink dogwood is just starting to bloom. There was barely any color last week. The blossoms should be fully open by next week and ready for some close ups.

A pot of perky blossoms up on the porch. I think they look pretty happy.


Friday, March 30, 2007



Jim Morin draws cartoons for the Miami Herald and took home a Pulitzer in '96.

I haven't written much about Gonzalez flap. What can I say. The best argument for telling the truth is that at least you can keep track of the stories your telling. But, I believe that like so many problems we're having now, this has been coming on for decades. Best to lance the boil now, before it gets even worse.

There was a guest column in the Oregonian Sunday by Jacob Tanzer, a former Justice on the Oregon Supreme Court. I didn't read the column but it was referenced in an editorial in the same paper today. Tanzer recalled his days as a trial attorney during the Kennedy administration. Tanzer was called on to investigate a union leader who was a Democratic supporter and probably was instrumental in getting JFK elected. He pursued the case, the union boss was convicted and Tanzer received a commendation from the attorney general, Robert Kennedy.

I find myself wondering more and more what the world would be like if Bob Kennedy had taken another route out of that hotel in '68. I do wonder.


These do ring my chimes

  1. The color green. It’s the color of spring and there are infinite shades right now. Between the new grass in fields I pass on the way to work, through the new leaves on all the trees, to the pines, cedars and spruces in the neighborhoods, there are more colors of green right now than I have words to describe them.
  2. Seeing the moon on my way home from work while the sun is still up. A little round I learned at camp kept going through my head as I drove. Mr. Moon, Mr. Moon you’re out to soon, the sun is still in the sky. Go back to your bed and cover up your head and wait until the day goes by. Ok, so I was in the fifth grade at the time. LOL
  3. Squirrels. Ok, so they’re pretty much  rats with fluffy tails. But, it’s fun watching them search through the yard for seeds, hang by one foot from the seed feeder, chase each other around the house, and basically torment the cats.
  4. Yarn shops. So many colors. So many textures. So many different kinds. From so many places. And I want it all! Whoops, I’m slightly delirious here. More about knitting later. Much more, if some things I want to write about pan out.
  5. A used book website called Alibris. 97% of the time if their network doesn’t have it, it isn’t out there. I’ve tapped into used booksellers as far away as Australia. I think that was for a copy of Twelve O’clock High. Also the little notations, salutations and book plates in the used books. Darn I wish those books could talk.
  6. Tea. Sorry, coffee is just coffee, no matter how you dress it up. Green tea, black tea, tea from Assam, tea from Ceylon, tea with lemon or without, tea with spices. Jasmine, Irish Breakfast, Darjeeling, gunpowder green, walking through the tea section is like taking a trip around the world. Tea, hot and streaming on a cold, foggy day. Preferably accompanied by a warm cat and a good book. But, you must choose the book carefully. You have to be able to manage the book and the tea with one hand. Use both hands to manage the book and quit petting the cat will get you the LOOK. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s a little like suggesting that a confirmed teetotaler kick back with a beer and a shot.
  7. And how can you have tea without muffins or scones. At least on Sunday morning. Warm from the oven, or at least the microwave. Never underestimate the power of a microwave to make three day old muffins taste almost fresh. Fresh enough to go with that tea and the Sunday comics and the cat, anyway. “Mom, you really weren’t interested in reading that silly ol’ paper right this minute were you? I’ll just sit on it and keep it warm for you while pay attention to more important things. Me, for starters”
  8. Discovering that just about everything we planted last fall made it through the winter. Including the crape myrtle. It was looking pretty iffy for awhile but it is showing leaf buds at the base up through the middle. It may be smaller than we anticipated when we get done trimming out what died back but it’s looking good.
  9. The ducks and geese at the local parks. They come in with such a gossipy clatter and a splash. Talk about an entrance. Then they either swim around the pond or amble across the grass chattering the whole time. Makes you wonder what they’re talking about. The quality of the bread offerings they’re bumming off the humans, perhaps. Reminds me of the after church coffee klatch when I was a kid. Everybody standing round, talking, eating, catching up with the week.
  10. With a bow to Russ, all of you. (Big hugs all around)

There, that should balance that earlier entry a bit. Trouble is I’m doing this on my lunch hour. I have the tea but no cat and no book. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I won’t go so far as to say I hate these things, but they really do irritate me, fail to float my boat, don’t ring my chimes, tick me off, whatever,  just fill in the blank

1.      Talking heads that talk and talk and talk and don’t really say anything. Or take five times longer than they need to get to the point. This is especially irritating when I’m very tired or getting over a bug (and very tired from the bug). The more they talk, the more the words ricochet back and forth in my skull.


2.      News that isn’t. I think I’ve mentioned this one before.


3.      Hunters and fishermen who begrudge every fish, deer or bird caught by the predators who actually need to hunt to survive. How dare those greedy sea lions catch “our:” salmon. I’ve got a newsflash for you folks. We may like to eat them, but we don’t need to eat them to survive. If the fish runs are crashing don’t blame the sea lions, go look in the mirror.


4.      And on the same subject, restaurants who advertise “we fly our fresh seafood in from Alaska (or wherever) daily. We’re fighting a war in the Middle East over oil. Yeah, I know the spin is we’re bringing democracy to the huddled masses but it’s the oil stupid. Using an increasingly scarce resource to bring fresh fish to my local restaurant does not float my boat. And the more I read about pollution levels in seafood the less likely I am to eat it anyway. And I guess I'd have to add trying to grow free ranging animals like fish, cattle and poultry under factory conditions. I hate to sound like a luddite, but animals aren't meant to be raised under these condtions. Now we're facing e-coli in vegetables as well as meat, antibiotics that don't work anymore, and disease carrying farmed seafood. Pass the beans and rice please.


5.      Religion. Yes, Russ I’m with you on this. Religion and faith are two different things. In fact they are so different I’m not sure they’re even in the same universe. Faith is that still small voice within, that “feeling” that the puzzle is being solved even if you don’t have all the pieces yet. It’s recognizing what’s the same in so many different traditions. Religion is, well to me it’s what you get when human beings start mucking about trying to make sure all the pegs fit into a certain number holes whether they’re the right size and shape or not. And God/dess help you if you have more pegs than holes. It’s what you get when people try to reduce the infinite to what we can perceive and describe with our five very limited senses. I could go on and on and on………


6.      Cauliflower. Yeah, I'm with you on this too, Russ. There are so many other great veggies out there. Mom made a wilted spinach salad last night that was to die for, if you'll pardon the expression. But, cauliflower does taste a lot like cabbage. I wonder…….? Cheese, tomatoes, bacon, buttered bread crumbs. Sorry, this isn’t working, Big blank here.


7.      Drivers that ride my bumper until I get out of the way and tool on down the freeway at the speed we were going in the first place, if not slower.


8.      Which brings us to drivers that are incapable driving anywhere near the speed limit unless they have someone to follow. Otherwise they go slower and slower and slower until you try to pass and then they fly like eagles.


9.      Phone solicitations of any kind. If I want satellite TV I’ll let you know.


10.  PBS begathons that run heavy on musicians I’ve never heard of and self help gurus that I've also never heard of. There was one show last week on the benefits of yoga. We spent ten minutes listening to talking heads talk about yoga over shots of people doing yoga. But nobody was talking about what the people were doing. You want to do a program on yoga, fine, let’s do yoga, not talk about it. Ditto on the rest of the talking heads during pledge week.

     So there's ten things or so that I may not hate, as in raise your blood pressure to lethal levels, at least not most of them Except for the religion/faith thing it's more the death by a thousand cuts or the Chinese water torture sort of thing. Just drip, drip, drip, drip...............

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Play About Iraq War Divides a School - AOL News

Top News- Play About Iraq War Divides a School - AOL News :

The really interesting thing about this story is that the play is the result of an assignment to create a play. The principal not only shut down the play in the school setting but is accused of trying prevent it from being performed off campus.

My own opinion is heck let 'em do it. If some folks don't agree, let them write their own play and put it on.  The students included material from many voices, what I read online looked pretty balanced to me. Oh, there is a link in the story to on website with a final version of the play.

It could have even been turned into a series of plays. Each one from a different point of view. It could actually be a tool to heal the divisions between us. Thing is too many people not only don't want to be exposed to a point of view they don't like, but they don't want anyone else to hear it either. And that is what really makes me angry. You don't want to watch a program, don't. The TV has an off switch. You don't have to read the book, you don't have to go to the film, you don't have to go to the play.

I think the argument I find most offensive is that the students are too young or inexperienced about the war to put this material. After all young adults a little older than these students are fighting and dying on both sides in this war. Some of these students may even be planning to join the military after graduation themselves. Who else has a better right to give bring the voices of all involved to life.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Juncos, siskins, chickadees and the rest of the feathery crews working the seed feeders and the yard below them..  A little corn, a few sunflower seeds, some thistle seeds, and assorted wildbird seeds make for some happy neighbors.

Squirrels checking out the same buffet, Working their way around the yard from spot to spot. I think they can hear sounds from inside the house. You can tell the newbies at the feeder because they stop, listen and check out the house to see if anyone is coming to interupt the feast.

The creamy white daffodils glowing out in the yard as the twilight deepens.

It rained last night so the tulips haven't opened up yet. I think they will be red. in the groupings with the daffodils.

Contemplating the corner with the bergenia and violets and going hmmmm. Dwarf pampas and other grasses? Possible.

Cats in their various favorite spots. Lucky on the sewing machine by the window watching the world go by outside the bedroom. Misty doing her Snoopy vulture imitation on the back of the recliner. Keeping track of everybody and everything. A foot or a head appearing by the table as Bandit divides her time between grooming and kitty tv. Hind leg, ear, head, other leg, another ear, the head again. The up on the window sill for a little while to watch the birdies. Repeat at needed.

Rain in the morning, blue skies in the afternoon with some nice March breezes and fluffy white clouds in between.

The pink buds on the dogwood beginning to open so that it looks like it's blushing. Patches of purple and white violets here and there.

The boomerang bug. It's not the official name for this bug but there is a virus going around that is a real asshole. You think you're getting over it and then it comes back. Rats. Missed two more days of work last week. And then  you get to spend a week or so coughing your head off. by Friday I was ready do just about anything to get a good nights sleep. We're getting better, but I think it's going to be a long week.

And a disappointed Duck gets to join up with Russ's PO'd Jayhawk. Oh, well. Them's the breaks.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


The heather is still blooming well. We have white, pink, and darker pink. Now that the weather is warmer and we're getting more sun I expect it will begin to fade. It's real pleasure to have the heather blooming during the dark, leafless months.

Assorted early blossoms. A little patch of violas, that's the little blue/purple/white ground cover. A white ground cover, not sure which. A few birght yellow daffodils and the flowers in the front. Mom calls them rock hyacinths. But, the leaves aren't hyacinth like. They look almost like swiss chard actually. LOL But, the flowers are really pretty. Lighter pink with a darker center. They don't need a lot attention, water, or fertilizer. The snails don't even seem to like them all that well. If anyone recognizes them, please let me know what you think they are. The darker green ground cover in the back is bearberry or kinnikinnik. We planted six three years ago. So far three and a half have survived so far.

This is a hot, hard to water corner so anything that can survive being ignored for days at a time will do very well.

Ever notice that yellow daffodils are the same color as the forsythia blooms. My route home has a forsythia hedge that looks like it's about thirty feet long and a good ten feet or so high. Very, very spectacular. And very, very yellow.

Some of the three dozen or so cream and yellow daffodils in the front yard. They are in three groups, just behind the lavender and new shrubs. There are an equal number of tulips in the plantings. They should be blooming within a few days, with luck. Pictures coming soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It’s been a kick reading the postings on the AOL stories about the flap over the US attorney firings. The entries I get the biggest kick out of are the folks that are shocked that congress is trying to get Karl Rove to testify under oath. How dare they? I mean, just who do the members of congress think they are? They act like they have a right to know what King George and his chief jester, whoops, adviser, have been up to. Silly people.

I’m betting you have a good idea what’s running through my mind. It’s the same refrain we got when we questioned the long lines at the airports, the national database for driver’s licenses, the wiretaps, the sifting through bank records, the ignoring of international treaties and agreements, and on, and on, to the point of nausea. It’s “hell Karl, if you don’t have anything to hide you don’t have anything to worry about.”

All this what’s gone around coming back to bite the administration in the ass is making me dizzy.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Up until the end of January this is what the house looked like. Sort of peach, with a sienna trim. Mom and I crossed our fingers and signed on for a promotional siding offer. I think it turned out pretty good.

The same guys who installed the siding for the company dame back and did the trim and someother finish work. They did they best they could with the sixty or seventy year old wood around the windows. The trim looks a little rough close up but getting to energetic with the sand paper would have been lethal.

We had lattice on the porch, We'll put a nice pot and a hanging basket up there for now. Get a little privacy but a little nicer maybe. Taking things on faith here for a retired cook and a gal who works in an office but I expect it will work out.


The cartoonist is Jim Borgman. It was in the local paper too. For the record I would like to see Gonzalez get nailed to the wall for basically being an idiot. I mean you have the choice of "my assistant did it and didn't tell me" or "I thought it was a great idea to can prosecutors we appointed because they weren't loyal enough." What the *&()^&. But with the administration going down with a slow leak in the boiler room it's like take your choice. If he hangs on long enough he can step off the plank right into the water.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


We had the siding replaced on the house in late January. We just got the trim redone and had to move the crooks that hold the feeder to get at the windows. Decided to leave them where they were moved to and got this shot through the window. I'm not sure if he can actually swallow while he's standing on his head or if he's shelling the seeds and stuffing them in his cheeks to finish on top. But, sometimes I wish I was that flexible.


Nearly miraculous shot of wings on the down beat so that the wings are visible. We'd just out a fresh batch of seed and here came the little siskins. Cheerfully trying to crowd each other away from the feeders. They will scamper about on the ground for goodies but they aren't really ground feeders like some of the others.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Thanks to everybody who managed to get past the paragraph of garble in the middle of the last journal entry. I swear to heaven it wasn't there when I originally saved the entry. Is there a way to leave a virtual peace offering to the electronic gremlins of our journaling middle earth?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Top News- Furor Over Baptist's 'Gay Baby' Article - AOL News

Top News- Furor Over Baptist's 'Gay Baby' Article - AOL News :

For some reason the rest of this entry doesn't want to copy into this. Could be because I wrote this on my lunch hour yesterday and e-mailed it to myself. We just got upgraded to Office 2007 and my system at home may not like the "taste" of it. I am so not impressed with the upgrades. I'm sure it's even more of a memory hog than the earlier versions.


Anyway, back on topic. Really, at this point none of the postings that go with this entry surprise me any more. But, it got me to thinking, and this is what came out.

Honestly, I've been trying for years to figure out the outrage expressed about gays, especially gay men. Especially by other men

Ok, granted I'm a woman. But, I really just don't get it. On the list of one hundred crappy, hurtful, demeaning, cruel and downright sinful things that we can do to hurt each other and the world around us, two guys or two gals having sex with each other ranks about 101 on my list.


Is it that non gay men believe that gays have betrayed them somehow? Are they afraid that if everyone knows that some men can be openly gay that they might find themselves being sized up as a potential partner? Will straight men have to learn to deal with what every woman has to deal with once she hits puberty? Are they afraid another man might make a pass at them for crying out loud?


Is that what they are really afraid of? That some men will treat them the way some men treat women?

What really has to hurt for older gays is realizing that in some ways this will become more and more a non issue as the older more bigoted generation passes. No comfort for the folks who are trying to build relationships and families now.

I got a kick out of one "Christian" poster who wanted to know why she should have to explain to her kids why some of their class mates have two moms or two dads. It's like, geez. I'm sure your kids will just nod their heads and say ok if you just say, "well that's how some families are, some have two of each and some have one of each" With smaller kids especially, if you don't make a big thing out of it, they won't either. Of course there will pork in the tree tops before this gal gives an answer like that. :-P


Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I may be repeating some of the material from the musings entry earlier, if so, sorry.

After I got done watching my swords and sandals epic the other night, I immediately turned around and watched the first half again. I believe that this is one of the few American movies about an ancient culture that tries, however ham handedly, to give you a feeling for where they were coming from.

The script didn’t go into the great many things about ancient Sparta that we probably would find repugnant. There were very few full citizens and a very large, brutally controlled serf population. The army was as much police force as army. Weak or defective children were killed shortly after they were born, boys left their families at seven and began training for the military, education beyond the basics was minimal, and keeping your place in the group was emphasized and admired. A citizen/soldier served from age 20 to 60 and he spent the majority of his time in the barracks, including nights. He took his meals in the common and mess and slipped home to his wife when he could.

If I admire how some of them acted in one battle, it doesn’t mean I’d want to live there or that I believe their way was the best way. But, if the Spartans had a reputation in their own times for speaking little, they wrote even less. All we really have to go on are a few entries in surviving texts or second hand reports from people writing several centuries later. Ironically, Aristotle criticized the way the citizen assembly was chosen as “perhaps being too democratic.” But, sometimes I wonder how we’ll fare in the histories of the future.

Trying to give a feeling of religious attitudes isn’t just a matter of using the plural when someone says “thank the Gods.” The custom of interpreting omens and offering sacrifices is mentioned more than once. The full army can’t leave Sparta because another religious festival is due to start and the army is forbidden to leave thecountry at that time. The same one that kept them from showing up at Marathon, actually. The speaker for Athens seems to enjoy reminding the Spartan representative about that. On the other hand, one of the Spartan council members wants ‘nothing to do with Athens and its sinful ways.” The researchers and the writers tried give us some idea of what these people were like. If they missed as often as they hit the target and the dialog is a little clunky at least they tried. Perhaps there was a time when an audience had a little more patience for sitting through this kind of material.

And Thermopylae was important.  Not just because it was the first of s series of battles that helped break the Persian invasion, but because of what happened afterwards. I don’t know if the Themistocles of history or even Leonidas made moderately stirring speeches about the virtues of Greek unity. The dream of Greek unity turned into a nightmare as shifting alliances tried not only to define that unity but which city was going to be the first among equals, Athens or Sparta.

Nearly fifty years later, the civil wars began. Power shifted back and forth between various city states for generations. Ironically, Greece would be unified by the end of the fourth century BC. By Alexander the Great, a Macedonian.

I think I’ve spent more time than usual on this because I’ve always been intrigued by stories of people who get to that moment of “here I stand, God help me, I can do no other.” When does a person realize that fidelity to faith, loyalty or honor demands the ultimate sacrifice? That terrifying point where compromise will change your sense of self beyond recognition? The moment when you are no longer you?

When does someone finally have to say:

I can’t betray an intelligence operative to get back at her husband because he doesn’t agree with me.

I can’t fire lawyers we appointed because they have more loyalty to the law than our party.

I may want to kick the shit out of Iraq, but we really can’t tie them to the 9/11 terrorists so it might be better to wait.

I may want to prove I can do the job better than dad did, but I’ll have to find a better way than this.

Yes, I did head this company before I was elected. That’s why I’m staying neutral in awarding contracts.

Yes, I could make a fortune cooking the books, but it would be dishonorable.

We’re asking our men and women in uniform to sacrifice everything. They deserve the best we can do, even if we have to raise taxes.

And there are plenty of examples from earlier administrations.

When was the last time we heard the word fidelity used in something besides the name of a company or to describe the quality of a stereo system? When did loyalty come be defined as our loyalty to the elected hired help, but doesn’t seem to include their loyalty to us? Is there any way to define the actions of the current administration or many members of congress as honorable? Curiously, many of them probably realize that we can’t. It’s been so long since I’ve heard or read the word outside a movie script or history book, I’d probably faint if I did.


Monday, March 12, 2007


More about the swords and sandles later, but I've realized I can get a lot of mileage out of old Xerxes. At least the Xerxes in the movie script. More than a few folks who reviewed the film on Amazon found a cold war subtext to the film. Maybe there was, frankly I don't really see it. But......

The Greeks know thay can't defeat the Persian army in the open either on land or at sea so they choose the narrow pass at Theromopylae and the narrowest section of water near it and hope they're still unoccupied when they get there.

When one of Xerxes commanders reports that Greek forces have pulled out leaving the pass undefended he suggests that since possession is nine tenths of the law, sending troops to occupy it would be, in his humble opinion, a really, really (insert as many reallys as you want) good idea. "Yes, Great King, I know we have more troops than there are rocks in Greece, but no sense giving our ridiculously outnumbered opponants an advantage." Xerxes shoots this idea out of the water faster than you can say scantily clad dancing girls. Occupying the pass he claims would make him look weak in front of his enemies. "It's my war and I'll fight it my way." If the Greek army is headstrong enough to choose to fight his troops on the open plains it will just make it easier to defeat them. Is there anything in this attitude that sounds vaguely familiar?

Any resemblance between the current Great Decider and any characters in movie scripts or history books is purely conincidental. It does suggest that not being able to see past the end of your nose or your ego spans the centuries. And now that I've thoroughly depressed myself, pass the chocolate.

And the pass? The Spartan philosophy may have regarded death in battle as the ultimate fate of a warrior, but nothing in the laws said anything about making it easy for the enemy to help you meet that fate. No way Jose.

So over the centuries you can almost hear them. "Yeah, I can understand why you think that nice piece of flat ground over there might appeal to us. But, this little piece of real estate over here near the bay looks just fine thank you. We're not a big group, this is just the right size. Yes, it is pretty uneven and there are a lot of rocks. We'll be sure to watch our step, thanks for your concern.  Man what a find.There's this really great wall right here. Replace some of the fallen stones and it'll help guard our backs very nicely, thank you. Sorry you can't bring your entire army to face us at once and you don't have room to manuever your cavalry or your chariots. Them's the breaks. We should be able to manage for a few days though, thank you. Oh, and please ignore any stories you hear about a little used, almost impossible to find goat track that comes out on the other side of the pass." 

Sunday, March 11, 2007


The little one across the street. I'm not sure if it's a boy or girl, but I think it's a boy. Anyway, I think he's figured out than when he hears noises outside there'll be something to see. He was peeking over the door gate when were organizing the groceries. We noticed him and waved and he waved back with the little hand waggle that babies do before they learn to wave the way big people do. I don't think he's a walker het because he ws doing that little bobble up and down that pre walkers do. Little ones are so much fun.

The flowering trees and shrubs are really bursting. There are clouds of white, light pink, dark pink, yellow, and rosie blooms all over town.

Yellow daffodils are starting to come up on our side of the street.

The scrub jays and a stellars jay were having a sprited "discussion" in the yard over whe gets first shot at the sunflower seeds.

Saw my first bumble yesterday.

Big fluffy white clouds and bright blue skies.

An elegant, red collared black cat studying Misty through the back window while Misty studied it just as intently.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Hmm. This turned into an essay. That’s ok. This is one of those things that just had to be written to make myself happy

When it comes to books or films based on history, I’m just a little obsessive compulsive. Once I discover that the author or writer never let a fact stand in the way of a good story, let’s just say I’m outta here.

I loved the film, Becket, when it came out. Great costumes, beautiful music, great voices. Nobody could beat either Richard Burton or Peter O’Toole. Then the downers came along. Henry is portrayed as a neurotic, dithering momma’s boy with a strange, almost sexual fixation on his disgraced Archbishop, Thomas Becket.

Henry’s queen, Elinore of Aquitaine, (in her one scene) comes off as a whining shrew who threatens to complain to her father about Henry’s treatment of her. Newsflash. Elinore’s dad has been dead  for going on thirty years and when Elinore got pissed off, she didn’t whine about it. She raised an army and took to the field. Which is probably why she spent the last years of Henry’s reign under house arrest in various castles. She came too close to winning once too often.

I’m not sure about Henry’s neuroses, or lack of them but, his string of mistresses, capacity for work, inability to stay in one place for more than a day or two and his temper tantrums are the stuff of legend. He was the grandfather of the English common law and went to war with his own sons.

All of this leads into the new film, 300. I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen the film (it officially opens tonight) and frankly I’m not planning on seeing it. I’m going strictly by the dozen or so reviews I’ve read. Even the critics who praise it focus on the visual style, not the story. Making a movie that looks like a comic book and a video game. Guess I know who the target audience is, and I’m not in it.

Incidentally, a film about the same few days that made history  was made back in the early sixties. The 300 Spartans holds up fairly well, as long as you remind yourself this is a sixties film. It’s out on DVD, I just got it and it’s swords and sandals tonight. The sixties Spartans wear more clothes than the traditional Greek warriors probably did, at least the ones on the vases, but the shots I’ve seen from 300 appear to take it too far the other way. Going into battle wearing nothing but a load of gold jewelry was a Celtic tradition, not Greek. Even the Spartans didn’t go into battle without their armor. They may have only been wearing armor, cloaks,  and a little kiltie thing around the waist, but going into battle without all that bronze would have been suicidal. I'll admit I haven't looked for shots of the actual battle scenes from 300 so maybe they do actually go for bronze instead of the buffed, bare chested, body builder look. Checked out some more reviews on my break, yep they stuck with the barechested, leather speedo look. The Spartans may have believed that the best way for a warrior to go was in battle, but they weren't suicidal. Actually, the berserker battle rage was more of a Celtic thing, at least in the legends.

That said, the earlier film doesn’t go into how the Spartan state was organized. A small number of full citizens was subject to compulsory military training and members of the army from the ages of 20 to 60. A larger number of free inhabitants functioned as tradesmen, craftsmen, back up soldiers and had few if any political rights. At the bottom a large serf population tied to the land. The helots also received some military training and could occasionally earn their freedom by showing courage in battle. They may have also been able to purchase their freedom, the history is a little murky on this. What is certain is that the government attempted to keep tight controls on the serf population and was reluctant to commit the full army outside the city state because some of the troops were needed as a police force.

I suspect what most of us would find most disturbing is that the head of the family had the power of life and death over his family. A father could decide to not accept a newborn and the child would be exposed and left to die. I have read that it became customary to leave the children in certain places where they could be found. Many were raised as slaves, apprentices  or by the temples. Nice choice.

The Spartans took this one step further. Newborns, at least the boys, were examined. Children who appeared weak or had visible defects were rejected. The sons of full citizens were destined for the army, so…. I wonder how many were actually rejected. I haven’t been able to find any numbers at all.

Given the lifestyle of plain food and plenty of exercise the  parents were probably disgustingly healthy. Strong mothers made for strong children so the girls were encouraged to get plenty of exercise and follow a good diet, as well. Marriageable age for girls was twenty, so they probably didn’t have too many early teen mothers and the problems that go with it. I suspect that most of the kids passed examination and they lost more from the military training that started at the age of seven. That’s right boys, and girls, boot camp started at seven.

It’s not the actual training that was probably so difficult although it was hard enough. Life was risky for just about everybody. But, the Spartan citizen apparently accepted a degree of control over their lives that most of us would never agree to. Those who chose not to accept the life of a full time member of the army or couldn’t afford to contribute their share of the common mess bill lost the rights of a full citizen. Since there was no provision for recruiting the willing from the middle class of freemen, the city gradually ran out of full citizens. Doesn’t mean they couldn’t field an army if they needed to. They just literally ran out of full citizens who made the army their lives.

A lot of the customers on Amazon who reviewed 300 Spartans had problems with speeches about freedom from people who held slaves, and didn’t regard women or most men as full members of the political community. Well, neither did some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence so I really don’t have a problem with that part of the story. We learn and we grow. Most of us anyway. Doesn’t mean I’d want to hang my hat on a circa 480 BC Greek hat rack.

Another note. Sparta had two kings. They functioned more as generals of the army than what we would define as monarchs and were subject to at least some control by an elected council of five. Whether Leonidas actually attended a meeting of the leaders of the Greek city states where Sparta was offered full command of the Greek forces if they would field their full army, I don’t know. Makes for some interesting speeches and a little squirming when the Athenian delegate reminded everyone that the Spartans didn’t make it to the defeat of the last Persian army to invade Greece ten years ago at Marathon. Seems they were celebrating one of their seemingly endless religious festivals.

Anyway, faced with a prophecy and another festival, Leonidas headed for the narrow pass of Thermopylae in northern Greece. The prophecy from Delphi stated that either the city would fall or one of the kings would die and the festival gave the council the power to block deploying the full army until it was over. He did have control over his three hundred personal troops. Men with no living sons were replaced with volunteers who did. Deep down, I believe he knew they wouldn’t be coming back.

If you add in attendants, cooks, servants, maybe he had 600 or so men. They were joined by a few thousand volunteers from other city states and a small naval contingent from Athens. In all, say 10,000 troops and auxiliaries. And that’s being generous. Going up against the largest army the ancient world had ever seen and managing to occupy the choke point at the pass.

I don’t think Xerxes actually broke out laughing at the idea, but terms were offered and rejected. The Greeks were given a few days to come to their senses. When that didn’t work, the fighting started. They held for two days. When they received word that the Persians were flanking their position by taking a path through the mountains to the other end of the pass, Leonidas sent the ships and most of the other Greek troops back to fight another day. The troops from Thespia, perhaps 1,000, were sent to hold the other end of the pass as long as possible. Faced with the final Persian advance the Spartans attacked. Attacked mind you. And died to the last man. They knew what they were doing and they bought enough time for the Athenians to gather their navy at Salamis. There was another prophecy you see, that spoke of a burning city and the Athenians taking refuge behind their wooden walls. As the Persian army advanced the bulk of the population of Athens was evacuated to the island of Salamis where they waited and watched as their fleet (wooden ships) defeated the Persian navy. Xerxes retreated to the east leaving part of his army to fight a third battle. With the second defeat, the threat from Persia was ended for the time being and the Greek city states could go back to one or their favorite pastimes. Fighting with each other. The more things change........

I don’t think we need to make the ones we consider heroes any better than they were, they do well enough on their own.  And we don’t need to make the ones we consider the bad guys any worse than they were. Xerxes had enough ambition for any ten men, there’s no need to make him a monster. There were reports in the reviews of elephants, rhinos, a giant and some troops in really weird getups. The original story stands on its own. Would I want to live in ancient Sparta? Probably not. Given the odds, I'd more likely end up the wife of a serf than a citizen. Would I want Leonidas and his 300 at my back in a fire fight? Probably.Trouble is, you can’t have the one without the other.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Bandit has developed an interest in water. She doesn't get in it. She doesn't play in it. But she does like to watch it.

And she does like to stay close to mom. Actually she just started doing the close up watching in the last couple of weeks.

"The water comes in. Why do you keep doing this? And, uh, I ain't doin' no dishes."

She watches the water go out of the sink. Seems to wonder where it goes, when it leaves. Lucky doesn't do kitchens, she comes in and watches the water swirl in the bath tub. And went through a period of waiting while we took a shower and then meowing like crazy while we were finishing up. I thing she was upset that we were getting wet and trying to tell us we shouldn't do that. I guess she finally gave us up as a lost cause.



I Took the scenic route to work this morning. That means I took 105 to Delta on a westside loop instead of the eastside loop to the freeway and then to beltline. This usually happens when I see fleet of semi’s heading for the freeway. It’s actually faster to take Delta when this happens than it is to get stuck behind semi’s and loaded log trucks taking the Beltline exit from the freeway

Once upon a time there was a gravel quarry out there. Now there’s an upscale mall, a lot of apartments, and the left over water filled gravel pits. High water table because the Willamette River is all of a quarter to a half mile away on the other side of the mall. The ducks and water birds love them. The local hikers love them. They’re easy to reach from the local bike path. They even have an official name, the Delta Ponds, and are being rehabbed with native plants and nature trails.

Anyway, we’ve had four or five days of fairly warm weather and the buds are popping like crazy out there. I saw white and pink blossoms from whatever trees are starting to bloom. Could be the flowering plums. Some of the bushes are leafing out. So it was kind of a nice drive, as rainy morning commutes go.

Since we go on the “beloved” Daylight Savings Time this weekend, I’ll probably be driving it before the sun comes up next week. Phooey. Granted, I drive this way every night, but it’s so much different in the morning.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Anne Coulter, the bad girl on the far right end of the political spectrum was in the news this weekend. Ah, the mistress of the three B’s, bitch, brat and a bully. Her jab at John Edwards had the desired effect. It got her noticed. Politicians all across the spectrum were falling all over themselves distancing themselves from her “joke."


How about adding her to a list including Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton, and the rest of the bad girl rat pack? A black hole sounds like a nice place to send them. Better still, send them all to the same desert island. It would probably sink under the combined weight of there super inflated egos. Or just put a notation next to their names. Not to be mentioned under ANY circumstances.


Failing that how about one of the following responses?


This is the United States. Every citizen has the right to express an opinion. And the rest of us have the right to ignore it.


Gotta love the US. The country where anyone can grow up to be an idiot.


Ms. Coulter claims her comment about former Senator Edwards was intended as a joke. I don’t thing George Carlin has anything to worry about.


Ann says her comment was supposed to be a joke. Don’t give up your day job, hon.


I give Ms. Coulter’s opinions all the respect their depth and scholarship deserve. And I believe you should do the same.


I don’t really take the opinions of a blow dried, bleached blond, reject from a casting call for extras for Sex and the City seriously, Why are you?


I have to admit the last one is a little snarky, but it’s no worse than I’ve heard her or Rush Limbaugh use.


Ok, so it’s Monday. Sue me.

Bright eyed little girls in Brownie vests.

A coffee table being filled with colorful boxes of cookies.

A what the heck feeling and the beginnings of conversation. “I remember selling cookies when there were two kinds, mints and shortbread.” Turns out the troop was down from my old hometown, Oakridge. They were peddling their cookies at the local Fred Meyer in Springfield. I went home richer by some memories and three boxes of cookies. I hope everyone else they talked to Sunday was willing to just take a little time with the girls and they kept smiling.

Yeah, we don’t really need the cookies, but mom has a potluck coming up with her women’s group at church this month and I’m sure Jon can use some extra fuel for finals.

Little girl smiles. Extra sweet, no calories and you still feel strangely satisfied.


Sunday, March 4, 2007


The neighbors's fluffy tortiseshell cat up on the little porch roof energetically grooming in the mid-morning sunshine.

Another neighbors' orange tabby having an ecstatic back rub in the sunny drive way. Wriggling like a whirling dervish.

The local willow trees beginning to show the first flush of yellow green new leaves.

The baby gate in the front door of the house across the street. I don't think the kid is old enough to walk yet, but he was hanging on for dear life and peeking over the top the fence yesterday afternoon. When he wasn't peeking through because the tippy toes were getting tired. Big brother and sister don't always remember to close the door when the weather is nice and they're popping in and out of the house. Better safe than sorry.

The birds picking through the bark under the feeders and around the lavender plants. Must be a good crop of seeds around them.

Little white clusters of blooms on the andromeda bushes in the front yard.

Clusters of tulip and daffodil leaves in the clusters mom planted last fall. Growing like crazy in the late winter sunshine.

Rosebushes, little shrubs, and the elderberry all putting out new leaves and stems.

Some early daffodils in a yard down the street peeking through the fence like little kids playing hide and seek. The clumps are placed so they are in front of the gaps in the fence. They get more sun than we do this time of year.

Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine.