Boy, if we don't get more sun than I've seen in the past few weeks, I'm going to experience dry rot.
Accordingly, I grabbed the HuggaMutt and stuffed her into a rain slicker, and out we went.Once we get past the initial disgust at the confining overcoat, we managed to slog around a good hour. My little buddy hunted as best she could, but we never saw much fauna until we went home.
I can see them yet, as they marched away, So debonair, so brave, so gay! I can see them yet, as they turned to wave, The smiles erased from their faces grave. And as I stood there, turned to stone, The sun's last glint from their rifles shone.
I can still see my Mother, with face so white And my Father, standing so still, Trying to think that all was right, Trying to feel like it was God's will. Yes, we all tried to be as brave as they, As my husband and brother marched away.
After many a weary month and long Came the news, more cheering than the happiest song. The whistles were blowing, the bells were ringing. Everywhere people were shouting and singing. "The War is over at last" cried they, And the sad old World became hysteric'ly gay. We looked at each other through tears of joy And Mother murmered softly, "My boy, my boy!".
Happy plans for their return we made. I tremble even now, as these mem'ries fade. "Killed in action", the telegram bore. "Killed in action"; weary brain repeated o'er and o'er. Yes, the bells were ringing, They should have tolled! The sound of bells will turn me faint and cold Forevermore. My brother had died the day before.
Josephine Abby Lamb Baker
My great-uncle "Harry" Lamb never came home. He was my grandfather's best friend.
With our stock at 1/7 of its January 2008 value, there will be layoffs, right before Christmas.
This time there's a buyout offer. We have the option of voluntarily leaving and getting the same package. Most of us don't qualify for Social Security, and with the economy tanking, we aren't likely to find work elsewhere. Past layoffs were based on seniority: new people were selected, it was temporary, and after several weeks, they could expect to return.
This time, though, it's severance, and the selection process is a different calculation. Whatever job they deem superfluous or too costly gets the ax. "Too costly" could include old-timers who are paid more than newbies. After thirteen years, I am an old timer; real old timers got it last year.
As my daughter, the VeggieGirl, noted: I am always on notice for layoff, so what's the difference? The difference is that I have been caught in several layoffs in my life, and we never quite recover. They lay waste to our lifestyle, ruin our credit, and in general, trash my self-esteem.
On the other hand, frequent layoffs tend to leave survivors glad to be working. Even if they are tough on the nerves.
Yeah, I know: we gotta get behind him. Okay, that is not a problem. This is the first election in a long time that was really electric. I wanted my guy, McCain to win, and still believe that he was the best man, with the much more impressive political record and life experience to back it up.
Still, Barack Obama is in, and I not devastated. He seems a good guy, a little youngish to my tastes, but the deed is done.
Let the president-elect be on notice: half of all citizen voters did not feel he was the man for the job, and were not impressed with his ideology.
Mr. Obama has a lot to prove. He'd better rest up over the next two months.
I am dismayed by the anti-gay marriage balloting in California. How could they have voted down a law that the people essentially wanted?
Word is that the Church of LDS and other religious right groups pushed and shoved from both inside and outside the state. I can't say it's wrong, because only the Californians voted.
As of this morning, I am writing two books. My latest Josephine book is going slowly, even though I am not agonizing over every little detail.
Something else was bothering me, impeding its progress.
I finally got some relief just before I got out of bed: the new book began spilling out.
It's too early to say much, but this one will be an historical novel. The dragon books required so much research, that I no longer have time for video games. The scouring for proper details has awakened a long-dormant aspect of my writer's self.
Research is something I do automatically on just about everything, even simple trivia questions. When I work a crossword puzzle, it seems a waste if I don't learn something new each time. It's my policy to look up words I don't recognize. Occasionally, if time allows, I will Google an answer that happened without my knowing it.
For instance, this morning I learned about Ringolevio, a street game. We played it, too, only in the snow. We called it Fox and Geese, unaware of the board games. I never heard of Ringolevio, but sure enough, there were the same rules, right down to the rescue of trapped geese.
So my new book will require a huge amount of research, and I will be happily humming along for many, many months before I can pull it together enough to talk about it.
It wasn't enough that the Dems had to dredge up the wardrobe costs. As if they don't carefully watch each and every tide of opinion on that. After all, Ms. Obama went on TV in a cheap dress to prove a point. Big, hairy deal. Bet she's dressed to the 9's (like $900) any other time.
No, it was so important to bring up the Palins kids' travel, too. Alaska is a big country, so people travel by plane. Ergo the Palin kids will often go by air.
Ahh, as pointed out by Husband RJ, the other candidates don't waste government money on their kids.
Bam! Right about there she won my vote. All those men treat their kids as props for election purposes, barring none. But they can't be bothered to fly them around enough to stay with Daddy and Mommy the rest of the time.
Sarah may be a finagler, somewhat shady at times, in her role as Governor of Alaska. She may have allowed the GOP to dress her like a paper-doll Barbie, her kids and all. She may even shoot moose from an airplane (not nuts about that one, especially, although I'm pro-hunting).
But her kids come first. Outside of politics, there are few women who leave their kids on the back burner, a habitual sin on the mens' parts, incumbent included. My kids come first; her kids come first.
Let's see. Who would be a perfect ally of mothers to daily influence our next president, and perhaps eventually become the president?
You will probably need to double-click this one. The cat, left, saw me first, at a huge distance. I began taking photos much farther back, just to zoom in and identify the animal on the fence.
The squirrel, coming in on the right barrier, was running up to the cat--Lord knows why--and suddenly backtracked. Wonder what it thought the cat was? Ellie saw the squirrel and began to run to the fence. Ellie never saw the cat, and the cat never seemed bothered by the dog. The cat watched me the entire time.
Eventually the squirrel jumped into the brush and trees. Ellie, still ignoring the cat, headed for the Tracker, just behind the levee to the left. The cat finally could stand it no longer and ran down to the river, out of sight at right.
I seem to have been the only one aware of all three critters.
I feel so disappointed in the GOP vice presidential candidate.
She's not a bad person, but surely we could have found someone more seasoned than Palin.
And it isn't such a bad thing that she's been found to have abused her power, albeit not illegally. We really need someone willing to push the limits, something that I think Cheney does rather well.
I don't even mind her hauling around the baby in the belly pack, although I don't imagine all that close contact with the crowds is good for the kid.
It just seems to me that she was chosen simply for being a conservative woman. She reminds me of some of the fluffy males that have been offered in earlier elections. Dan Quayle comes to mind. John Edwards, another, only for the Democrats.
How serious is she? And why is it so difficult to find a tough, no-nonsense person for Vice President?
My mother celebrated her 78th birthday Friday. A very nasty head cold was settling in my chest and kept me from making my usual pilgrimage to Cappy's for a card. It was better to call and just talk.
A little into the conversation we began to discuss the economic downturn and the ever-impending newspaper-business's demise. We frequently update one another on the the journalistic misfortunes of our respective local areas.
I don't have a wonderfully paying job at the paper. In Prepress we have humble Production positions that are lately being culled out, pared down and replaced by either new technology or cheaper, overseas labor. In advertising, however, there is no substitute for a sharp eye and a commonsense command of everyday printed English. That is what I have and what keeps me working.
When advertising drops, as it has--off and on-- for the last few years, then my job is less secure. When I mentioned this to my mother, she countered with the fear regarding the pension that funds their retirement. Pensions are being cut right and left, and mine will likely also disappear before I can tap it.
Then she said something that was very characteristic of her, and at the same time quite unexpected:
"Well, we'll all manage through this. We are tough."
The last time I heard this, I was going through a abysmally painful depression, haunted by thoughts of ending it all. My mother jacked me up with "We don't do that sort of thing. We are tough." At the time I responded that I most certainly was not.
You see, I was mentally ill--clinically depressed--and feeling quite fragile. Seemed a mean thing to say to someone who felt like the world was ending.
Husband RJ announced that we could expect a frost this week. I ran my camera out back to shoot the lovely morning glories before they got nipped.
Maybe it's the change of season, or maybe it's old age. Even though I start out at a brisk pace, I return from each trip lamer than before. It's a very good thing my camera pod is reinforced with oak. More and more, I use it for supporting the broken old bod, rather than the Canon.
On this day seven years ago, my husband called me from work and said, "You'd better turn on the television." I'll never forget it; it was a bright, sunny day in the city.
I spent the next few days trying to find a girlfriend who worked in the area. Thank heavens, she had a bug and stayed home in Queens to visit the doctor instead.
The only time I ever visited the WTC, there was a spider-man stunt that shut down the elevators. He had some sort of ladder or chain he attached to the side of the building and was climbing it.
Speaking of Spiderman: I have a tiny disk with the original trailer that was pulled after the attacks. It doesn't play on my current Presario; I guess it doesn't like Vista. The original trailer showed Spidey catching bad guys in a helicopter; he slings a web between the twin towers.
Every time I see that headline it strikes me as a screaming error.
The candidate herself is not pregnant; her daughter is.
If you are very conservative, you may see her daughter's pregnancy as a defect, just as surely as if she herself were the unwed mother.
To me, it's neither here nor there. Frankly, I'd rather they were not pushing a wedding right now on the kids. It's not the worst reason to marry, but a baby is not the best reason, either.
If Bristol were my daughter, we'd be planning the baby without the wedding. Seventeen seems too young for marriage. Maybe not, but I don't see it as an ideal time to take it on. In fact, I only know one couple who wed that young, or almost that young, and the marriage lasted. They may still be married, but I don't know.
Not exactly: "Good for you, Ms. Palin!" She's dealing and that's enough for now.
My daughters and many friends are now coloring their hair. After all, it's summer and their hair is changing anyway in the sun. My favorite happens to be the pinkish reds I am seeing these days.
The last time I colored my hair it was a sort of dark mauve. At that time I had to conclude that the dye was giving me a rash. I went into mourning because it had been my last ditch effort to change my hair. I had run through all the different tints and dyes and hennas one by one, getting a rash from each.
I never got to frost my hair. That would have been next. I was afraid I would be permanently damaged. Each rash seemed to be accompanied by increased hayfever or whatever and my last go-around had been debilitating.
Fortunately, my gray came in stripes. At first I was appalled, but now I am learning to comb and curl it to show it off in different ways. In short, I am playing with it. So now I am happy.
The ability to play with it was all I wanted anyway.
Here in Elmira, New York, we have a little scene every Thursday night, in downtown Wisner Park. Each week there is a self-professed Christian group with signs and chanting, protesting gay marriage. That's their official purpose.
Across the way is another group protesting the protesters. Some of my coworkers are there, because they don't want gays to think that all Elmirans hate them.
At that hour I am working, and don't join the protesters. When I am not working, I live in a nice little neighborhood, where we are nearly all married couples.
Some of our couples are gay. A few years ago, we lost a few couples to old age and death. Some of those couples were gay. We love our neighbors and miss the ones who passed on.
If I were not working nights, I know which protesters I would join, or at least visibly support.
...but on the 4th I took Ellie to visit the River Access site on Grove Street. The grass is very high. She leaped like a dolphin on the waves. I took some video but just looks like I didn't hold the camera right. If she were larger it might have looked better.
If you haven't yet discovered my Everloving Blogmother Sissy Willis' site, you are missing out on some excellent photography. Just as I dearly love my Chemung River and the surrounding countryside, so Sissy grooves on Chelsea.
Stay out of the water, and away from anything that looks like mud.
My hikers are sitting out on the porch, where I hope the sun will dry them enough to allow me to brush them. Then I will clean them and sit them back in the sun again. Later I will apply some more water proofing, but for now, I can't get near them.
I bathed Ellie and I showered, but when MammaDog came by to collect her, she mentioned that something was very stinky.
On the other hand, we wouldn't have such a lush garden without precip. There's a very young bunny out there, but he's hiding from me right now. The spinach calls him every morning just before RJ goes to work. We haven't the heart to shoo him.
Now for just a touch of the sunny days of yore. Look fast, because they run away like an excited HuggaMutt!
Just kidding. The forecasters promise temps in the mid 80s (approx 27C) later today and 90's (32C) tomorrow.
But just before the rain resumed, I ducked around the house and snapped Husband RJ's prized irises. The deep purple iris is the symbol of Elmira College, which used to be Elmira Female University, I think. Purple and gold, colors that are sometimes reflected in the sports uniforms. Lately, those colors are more accurately reproduced by the clematis vines that grow on the fences of the soccer and baseball fields attached to the main campus.
Like any beautiful area worth its American salt, Chemung County nourishes an old tradition of horrible monsters, lovely maidens and brave heroes, all compiled into a love story.
Full legend is here, as told by Dr. Robert Lyon, a descendant of an old settler family from the late 1700s. A quick recap:
Tiny little Eldridge Lake, not much more than a puddle, really, has its very own legend. Ours involves a settler's boy failing to fit in with his native tribe. Unable to compete with the other, more successful braves, the young man wanders on his own into forbidden territory, the quicksand marshes that surround Eldridge Lake. There he sees a maiden of unearthly beauty weaving flowers into garland. He chooses to pursue her, and she returns his affection. She sets out into the lake in her white canoe and calls upon her father, the Great Spirit, to bless their love. Gaspara, the monster of the lake, immediately rises and drags her to her death. Days later the body of the young man is found dead in a white canoe on Eldridge's shore.
I walked the usual route around the levee and Foster Island. It is already incredibly lush and overgrown.
Unfortunately, the tall grass and weeds hid the burrow that snagged my boot, and I went down in a heap. Thirteen years of Multiple Sclerosis has taught me how to fall and I was unhurt, though a little sore. No broken bones.
Regrettable casualty? My Monopod. I'd reinforced that thing at the lower two joints to stop just such nonsense. Natcherly the third joint up bent and snapped. I will once again reinforce it, with dowling and tons of electrical tape.
Can anyone direct me to a sturdier support? It can't be too expensive, because I'm sure to break it. I am willing to augment it, though.
Whenever I begin to get nervous about either Hillary or Barack, they shoot themselves in each other's foot. At this point they are busily destroying one another--and their own reputations--in a fun-to-watch mutual smearing campaign.
Divide and conquer? Who needs it when the Democratic presidential candidates are doing it for us?
And look what you get in the springtime. Sort of like a canary, isn't it? The house finches will also brighten up, turning a lovely deep rose color. And there is a huge variety of migrant birds following the Chemung. Down by the river, I have adopted a plump little feather ball. He was staying close while I took pictures for the River Hag, three nice bird shots. Different opportunities when the River Dog is not with me.Tomorrow or Saturday, I can expect the HuggaMutt to join me on my walks, weather permitting. We are hoping the rains give us a break in the morning, when my car will be in for inspection. Vacation will be over this weekend, and for once, I feel totally rested and satisfied with how the week went.
And almost by accident, too. I couldn't see them clearly, so I shot them anyway with my zoom. It turned out to be what I wanted all along. Makes me wonder if I'm missing a lot of great pics simply because I can't see them well enough.
The last two weeks have not been good to Ellie. Despite the faithful administration of Interceptor, she turned up with roundworms. This was especially worrisome because that meant that Willie and Bree also had to be wormed, whether they were infected or not.But so far today she seems cured and energetic. We went to the Gateway area of the Chemung River, and found ourselves surrounded by Canada geese and local fishermen.
What can we expect this year in Peking? Assuming the Olympic Torch actually arrives there.
Frankly, I don't remember such ruckus in my lifetime. And while I wholeheartedly enjoy the theater being played out city by city during the bearing of the Torch, I can't help but wonder what will occur during the actual opening ceremonies.
In China, itself, of course, nothing will happen. They will go on as usual. The authorities will, no doubt, efficiently (and maybe brutally) squelch any embarrassment and inconvenience caused by any honest dissent.
Elsewhere, though, the protests will probably intensify.
We've had Olympics in totalitarian countries before, lots of them. However, insufficient media coverage always worked to minimize any protests and their subsequent retaliation.
Coverage is now continuous and copious. The hosting country and its repressive policies will be laid bare for all the world to see. There is no place to hide this time around.
And that will be the best reason of all for having the Olympics in China. One might almost forget that its all about sports.
It's been a difficult winter: the past month alone has been dedicated to being sick with a virus, and I have not been able to blog as much as I would like.
We have therefore decided to aggressively pursue the possibility of pulmonary transplant. Mine are damaged beyond repair, and the scarring has contributed to the constant relapses of bronchial congestion and resultant shortness of breath.
Donated tissue has been located and the surgery date is set.
A word about the donor, to whom I will be forever grateful: Miss Lillian Wilczkowsky, an immigrant from the Boston area, was a movie actress and a proponent of alternate lifestyles, who danced under the stage name C. Morgan. She was a uniform tissue donor, and I have been asked if I wish to receive some of her other tissue. We decided to investigate.
After a complete physical and full-range testing, it was determined that I could also become the recipient of her other tissues, which were ample. Despite the obvious risk involved, I decided to honor her memory by going for the complete torsal donation.
With new lungs and the other tissue, I will be able to pursue my dream of becoming a full time night-club dancer. In my case, of course, pole dancing is mandatory, because I can no longer maintain the proper balance for solo, unsupported movement. The addition of the donated tissue would make this difficult for any woman, and impossible for me. I look forward to strengthening my limbs and earning enough money for a complete myelin restoration procedure.
I'm off to buy a new bra and back brace. I will keep you posted.
If you've seen my other blogs, you know I write fantasy romance.
Role-playing games are rarely well-developed, story-wise. That's why I love the Final Fantasy series, by Square-Enix. They have STORY. Not always a lot of plot, but plenty of story and lots of characterization.
Unfortunately, as well-developed as they are, there are loose ends. And that's where legions of fanfiction-eers come in.
But I had some very mundane concerns. Nothing lofty like "Snow Fields," just everyday questions that needed answers. My Dragon Lady series, on the right sidebar, attempts to answer those questions within the framework set by Square Enix.
That experiment will end shortly. This week's chapter is a sort of winding down. Our heroine is finally connecting with her long-lost family, some of them. As usual, being a Jenova mutant has its disadvantages. After all, what happens when superpowers interfere with family life?
We informed the girls that we were too sick, and we thought they were, too, to put on Easter Brunch.
11AM brought a doorbell tone and Ellie went ape! First Veggie Girl, and later, Mamma and Poppa Dog showed up to make pancakes and roasted asparagus. They also brought fettucini Alfredo and homemade chocolate covered strawberries.
Lovely brunch, followed by some cellphone antics. Thus the photo, along with some wave files of Ellie being play-vicious. Unfortunately, I don't know how to embed them in Blogger.
With any luck, we can get back to blogging this week.
I suppose a nice way to put it would be Bottoms Up!
This was a zoomed picture taken with autofocus. I couldn't even see this; it was too far away. The dog was also zooming in on them, so I pointed and clicked, in hopes of getting them as they lifted off to fly away from her. As it turned out, they couldn't have cared less if they tried. I have several shots of these fellows now, and will post some later.
Put on some gloves, a hat and a scarf, and your warmest outdoor coat. No, not the car coat. The warmer one.
Go outside and walk. Even if you have a cold. Even if there isn't much sunlight left today.
Get out and go for a walk. Take your cane or walking stick, if needed.
This is the time of year that the low light levels of winter begin to do some serious damage. Today there is sun on the East Coast, and it will be gone tomorrow. But I want you to do it all again tomorrow, even in the snowstorm.
Weather is delightfully changeable, and walking is free. It's recession-proof and cheap. And the best medicine for the winter blahs.
UPDATE: walked Ellie to the mailbox during the ice storm. She hated it, but needed it desperately. She's napping now. March 5, 2008
I have a secret: when I was still a young girl, I had a crush on William F. Buckley, Jr.
Back then there were plenty of comedians mimicking him, and after finally seeing the real thing live, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was nothing like those parodies. He was simply intelligent and erudite in his speech. That was before I even knew what erudite meant: he epitomized the word.
Later, whenever he appeared on television or in the news, he still fascinated me, although life and its many other cares took me away to other interests. Buckley, of course, remained the same all his life.
Unlike many other celebrities, Buckley never became an exaggeration of his younger self, never a caricature. The comedians lost interest, but I didn't. Whenever he appeared on screen or in print, I paid attention. He never disappointed, not once.
He passed on Wednesday, February 27, 2008, quietly and with great dignity, while working. He died with his boots on, as they say.
Elegance, grace, and erudition, a good portion of each, anyway, has left the mainstream media, the Internet, and the world.
A good portion of my consciousness is in deep mourning.
Husband RJ's not feeling great after out little brush with the flu two weeks ago. Luckily, we both had shots, so it was merely a brush, with us feeling fluish and tired. Must be I'm used to fatigue, but he is not; it's left him tired and depressed.
We have not had HuggaMutt around, because she makes too many demands on him.
Well, I miss her. To counteract that, I've gone on excursions alone. It makes me feel better, and keeps me healthy. But I still miss her.
Tuesday I went back to the Newtown Creek for some sunny winter pictures, that I will post to RiverHag. There is one more set of photos I want to include before then, also from a trip without little CuddleBum. All will be available by the weekend.
The area was visibly frosty and pretty, and chock full of canes and reeds. Newtown Creek is a deserted area, so the weeds remain at least waist high.
Not so deserted! While plowing my way through the thickets, I ran into this. You'll need to click on the image to see what I mean.
Someone's deserted fishing camp. Or so I thought.
It was tight as a drum. Eventually I found the entrance and opened a compartment.
There was a newspaper from last week, some clothes and other stuff. It was a homeless person's camp.
I reclosed the flap, made a hasty exit, and hoped the occasional snowsquall would cover my tracks. Didn't want to distress the owner.
That person is now in my prayers. Not much else I can do for someone who wants to live so far away from other people.
But it is 2008, and my feelings are now quite different. Benedict the Pope has indeed become a very different public persona than was the Cardinal.
Isn't it interesting, now that we have a personable, benevolent, scholarly Pope, people feel they must dig into his past to smear him?
If we look into the past of any great saint, there was once a great sinner. But inside the sinner was the seed of the saint. Ratzinger the Hatchetman has evolved, and surely was evolving all along, into the wonderful world leader we see today.
Just keep that in mind while you are reading the muck that's been raked by silly people who don't seem to understand that our Pope has been in the public eye for decades. Much of that stuff has been known every step along the way, especially by the College of Cardinals, who likely knew all that and perhaps more.
They still elected him to rule the Worldwide Church. Maybe Rough and Ready is what we need right now.
VeggiGirl lives on the other side of the block, and stops by often.
Today she brings homemade minestrone soup. Fits in perfect with my new soon-to-be slimmer me.
I got very tired of the ever-growing gut. Never had one before in my life (adorable, chubby baby-hood not included!) and it doesn't like me. My new duties get very sedentary after 6pm, and I don't like finding myself in my own lap!
Also, thermal underwear makes my clothing very, very tight. While the heat seems repaired at the paper, we are still finding the cold settling on us, beginning about 8pm each night. Our best guess is that the leaky roof is still not repaired, although the draining has been diverted from our workspace.
Counting calories works for me. I won't even tell you how many I have been consuming, except to estimate that it must be at least 2,000 per day. Now down to 1800 again, at least until the gut goes.
Why do I get an unpleasant feeling that the gut will stay with me to the grave?
Ellie has her polar fleece skirt, a fringed polar fleece jacket and lovely scarf in muted tones of pink and red. All quite tastefully done, I assure you.
She also owns a set of MuttLuks, but refuses to wear them. We have a drill: she stops and lifts the frozen paw, and I come right over and rub the booboo with bare hands. A little low-tech, but it works for us. We avoid the city sidewalks in the winter, because of the nasty ice-melts everyone uses.
It is very well chewed, but never really destroyed.)
I can predict the next six months at the paper.
Advertising sales fall. New customers will continue while the pre-season specials carry them. A few will become permanent.
Gannett will look hard at core positions, and pare down the excess.
Happens every year. Always has--always will.
We may see short-term layoffs by February, maybe again in July. It has always been thus. I was a victim the summer I was diagnosed with MS. My supervisor thought it would be a great vacation!
Well, I got a harridan who sent me on interview after interview, in a forty mile radius, leaning heavily on a cane. Furthermore, it was a partial layoff: three days on, two off. I was exhausted after a few weeks, in an exacerbation by six. That Christmas I was back full time just before I collapsed. The neuro confined me to bed for two weeks after a Solumedrol drip, because I couldn’t make my left side work anymore.
For now our department is necessary, though not for ever. This year it is likely we are secure.
On top of it all, my 401K will benefit from whatever Gannett decides to do.