Wally’s Door

Posted by on 19 Mar 2017 | Tagged as: critters, Gardens and Life, house building

When we last had critters that were not kept in small glass habitats, I was pretty much either a stay-at-home mom, a student, or a substitute teacher with limited days away from home. I knew, when we were rebuilding, that I would eventually want a critter and secretly plotted to have a home that would be a good place for a dog even if both Tom and I were away from home for significant periods.

Last week, the fence went in. Today, Tom and Grant put in Wally’s door. We (I, actually) chose an “Enduraflap” door from petdoors.com. According to Tom, the door was moderately difficult to install, but with Grant’s experience in construction, and Tom’s experience with reading all sorts of schematics, they were done (start to finish) in about three hours. Thanks to our neighbor who helped with cutting the sheet metal (he has a plasma torch) for the “tunnel” that goes through the wall. As soon as we have the bottom of the fence secured by cement blocks and some sort of substrate that is not MUD, Wally will have free reign of the house when Tom and I are gone. The door looks AMAZING both inside and out. This was the last major part of the house that needed doing (other than painting which may happen this summer…). I feel MUCH better about being home now.

Pictures some day when it’s sunny again, and everything is done. I am so happy that Wally will soon have a more dog-friendly environment. We ALL need this!

Decades

Posted by on 08 Mar 2017 | Tagged as: celebrations, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, good things, Tom

I remember the first time I started really thinking in terms of DECADES. Our elder son was about ten. Off the cuff, I mentioned something that had happened about 15 years before.

It was his first true realization that there had in fact been “life” before him…

And it was my first recognition that I was “old.”

Today I am thinking in terms of decades of commitment. My darling Tom and I have officially been a couple for longer than we were not.

This particular threshold feels almost as momentous as that first “double-digit” birthday, or the realization that once high school is over, childhood is also gone.

Are we really old? Perspective suggests we would have been considered on the cusp of old age in our grandparents’ generation. Today, however, people twenty years our senior are running marathons, picking up new instruments, learning new languages, and conquering mountains.

We aren’t old yet, but I have to say I am really looking forward to growing old together.

I love you, Tom.

Yes. A Wally!

Posted by on 04 Mar 2017 | Tagged as: critters

(This was supposed to post automatically on March 4, but it was accidentally set for the wrong month…)

So: Wally found us a month ago. He is now a full-fledged member of our family. He has some normal routines he looks forward to (breakfast and dinner). We, meanwhile, are looking forward to the installation of a fenced area and dog door so we can sleep just a little longer on weekends…

As far as I know, all of our pets have been rescues (except the budgies, and my hamsters and miscellaneous fish). When an animal is purchased from a pet store or breeder — even a reputable breeder — it reinforces the idea that animals are commodities. I am not a complete vegan/pacifist, but I do know this: animals are aware and intelligent and deserve better than we usually provide. There are so many amazing, wonderful companion animals right now waiting for homes. I am glad that we could provide a safe haven for at least one more wonderful (if still-to-be-civilized) canine.

I know that kind and thoughtful people often breed the most amazing animals. I have been fortunate to be able to interact with animals who were healthy and in wonderful homes as a result of breeders who are honorable. And there are times when a “purebred” may be the best choice, when certain personality traits are required, or specific strength and abilities.

But I am still of the opinion that for most of us, seeking primarily companionship, rescues are the better choice. We offer life, love, and belonging to a creature who needs it, and who returns the favor ten-fold.

Wally, for all his flaws (and he has many), seemed to know instantly that he belonged with us. Even though he shot out the door twice since he arrived, he came back within half an hour both times. Home for him, is with us.

And, I think our home is happier (if messier) with him here.

WALLY

Posted by on 28 Feb 2017 | Tagged as: critters

Where there is life, there is hope.

Posted by on 29 Jan 2017 | Tagged as: editorial, Politics and War

I do not know where this post’s title comes from — it’s so old that it has entered the public domain. According to some websites it is from Cicero, translated into English in the 1500s.

Is this true?

[small digression: I distinguish between “truth” which is a useful and generalizable sensibility that perhaps not everyone shares, and “fact” which is a repeatable phenomenon, readily observed by anyone.]

Right now, the republic that I was born into, the modern democratic processes that I grew up with, are endangered. However, there are still enough people who believe in the basic principles (“truths”) laid out in the Constitution; still enough people who are speaking out and showing up; still enough laws and lawmakers that are established and supportive of the conventional mechanisms that I believe this nation may yet be saved.

Unlike the last time tyrants and fascists began their march across a continent, there continues to be sufficient media and public discussion that groups can organize and respond in positive ways to an overreach of the government.

This is my belief: It is based on my experiences, my hopes and fears, my knowledge and training. It may or may not be factual! I do believe, however, that where there are enough adults who remember their civics lessons on the importance of public action and democratic participation that this nation can retrieve its reputation and become again a welcoming, forward-looking, progress-enabling home.

Back online.

Posted by on 25 Jan 2017 | Tagged as: Politics and War

Posts will continue to be sporadic, but I feel compelled to make them.

My first reaction to the last general election was to despair. To run. To hide.

But I have not only my own children to think of, as they start their adult journeys, but the lives of my students and their families.

Not everyone is a good person — and the election and first few days of a new administration has proved it.

However, I do believe that most people are kind at heart, that we want the same things for our families: sound shelter, enough food, an education that helps us get our jobs, and jobs that fulfill not merely a paycheck but let us live as our best selves.

I am struggling to find the right way to approach what I see coming. I am struggling to know how far to go, how much to say (or write), how much I should push myself on various things like seeking to maintain my teaching certification and political action. My health prevents me many times from being physically present, but I am increasingly upset by the lack of response to my letters and other written communications.

One thing I have chosen to do is to not read articles or watch TV that features or discusses the appallingly self-serving and vulgar administration. That feeds into the narcissism — these are people who confuse notoriety for fame, and bullying for power. I shall not mention their names on this website. If our systems works (as I continue to hope it will — I still hope that the Republican party will backtrack on many of their threats against the working poor and immigrants), then the Constitution will guide us toward removal of those who threaten our posterity.

Thus, I am fearful — and also hopeful. At some point, the hatred and mistrust that is being sown by politicians and their sycophants will result in either massive devastation to our nation and the world; or the resultant backlash in the next election cycle (unless they find a way to circumvent elections…) will allow more positive change again. Possibly – and increasingly likely – there will be world-wide chaos once again. We are already seeing so much.

But I am also seeing increasing contacts being made by people who are working for positive results. I know that the Constitution provides strong guidance, and expect that our local work will yield strength. There is hope, if people of good will band together and say, with a unified voice: NO to tyrants, YES to compassion. The world has survived tyrants, war-mongering, and protectionism before. We can still restore peace and prosperity.

Offline

Posted by on 09 Nov 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I have taken this site offline for a while.

Pages are gone, posts are gone. Archived, but no longer available.

I have not been able to keep up a quality online presence since my eyes started to go bad, and they are not improving. With teaching, there is neither time nor interest in blogging.

And did I mention the rain?

Posted by on 31 Oct 2016 | Tagged as: climate, Uncategorized, weather

This year, I haven’t written much about the weather, but this past month has been — shall we say on the wetter side?

One of the local papers says we have had over 11 inches of rain compared to our normal 4.6. The paper will let you view a few articles before you have to subscribe.

A little more than a week ago, Cliff Mass, climate scientist at the University of Washington predicted that Seattle would set a new record for the month. He followed up with confirmation of several records set in the state already.

It’s wet. Not “sailing down the freeway” wet, but long, drenching, chills-the-core wet.

I hope November (which is traditionally wetter than October) doesn’t set its own records!

And, just to note: it used to be that we had steady, but pretty much “light” rainfall from October through March (with a few isolated days here and there, and a single two-week early summer in February or early March)… now it rains at odd times, and more than was “normal.” Plants that used to thrive are dying, and plants that used to struggle a bit are doing well. Animals are not getting what they need, either. I like the wet weather, and the replenishment of the snowpack, but I am not appreciating the extremes.

Politics – a long view

Posted by on 01 Oct 2016 | Tagged as: editorial, Making a Difference, politics, Politics and War, Uncategorized

I would like to know why a man who has had multiple wives and mistresses isn’t called out for trying to shame a faithful wife for her husband’s infidelities? I would like to know why the Republican party decided to nominate a man with no plan, with no demonstrated ability to interpret or even follow the law? I would like to know why any person can assert that Trump is perfect because he says what he thinks, but then doesn’t make the obvious connection between his words against religious and racial minorities (and women, and people with disabilities) and increasing hate crimes as the groups who most identify with him feel validated?

He rails against the people in power, yet wields that power for his own gain unapologetically, benefitting from his ability to hire teams of expensive legal experts, and intimidating and trampling hard-working people with no qualms. Still, he seems to be attracting the very people he despises as his “base” in this election. There is some truth to the idea that the way to keep the masses down is to tell them a Cinderella story and imply that if they support the oppressors they will work harder and accept worse treatment on the hope they might someday themselves rise to the ranks of the oppressors.

If I were to refuse to pay my taxes, declared bankruptcy to avoid paying financial obligations I had the means to meet, treated my spouse with disrespect, treated my co-workers and employees with contempt, and encouraged people to engage in violent acts against people who disagree with me I would be in jail. And rightly so. Here we are, with a person who (if not made wealthy by the labor of those he has taken advantage of) would be facing multiple prosecutions — who is potentially going to be elected president of my country.

Am I worried? Surprisingly, yes. I am a student of history. I can point to past and current events around the world and in the United States when people like Trump have held power — and the unimaginable suffering they create. I would like to know why anyone would support this man, and the party who supports him. I would appreciate insight into how a person can consider herself (or himself) a kind or thoughtful person when the candidate she or he supports demonstrates only the worst characteristics of humanity.

I used to vote almost a straight ticket from one party, but in the last 20 years have had fewer and fewer candidates I could support. This year, for the first time, I cannot find any candidate from that party, in local, state, or national elections, to support. On the national level, the party I used to support has become the party of obstructionist politics, with the legislative leaders of that party refusing to consider legislation or hold hearings on necessary appointments to keep the government operational. Meantime, the policies and politics of the “minor” parties at the local level are bizarre (which may not be true in all locations!), and the candidates those same parties are promoting on the national stage are neither articulate nor thoughtful about anything other than their few key issues. The president of the United States needs to be able to understand, make decisions about, and delegate authority to people with the intelligence and experience to help. The minor party candidates simply do not articulate coherent ideas on enough topics to make me confident in their training or intelligence.

For young people considering the minor party candidates as alternatives to the major candidates, please consider what happened when Al Gore and G.W. Bush were undermined by Ralph Nader. Because Nader took votes that might otherwise have gone to Al Gore, the election was close enough that a court decision threw the election to Bush — in the recounts later, it was determined that Gore actually had the votes to win, but by then the election had been certified. G.W. Bush and his cabinet participated in some of the more disastrous foreign policies; the world continues to reel and fall apart as the result of events set in motion by his leadership. Our world is slowly dying as a result of his party’s refusal to allow the U.S. to take a leadership role in alternatives to fossil fuels and the rape of landscapes in the pursuit of wealth.

For those who think that this is the year for a protest vote, that their vote doesn’t matter, please look toward Great Britain, where even the sponsors of “Brexit” admitted they didn’t really expect to win; where the long-term consequences of that vote will be affecting the lives of the young people, working people, for decades. They want to have a re-vote. Like people accustomed to video games, where the game can be restarted from a previously saved version and different choices made… But such opportunities, in the real world, do not exist.

I readily admit to being old — my life is on the downslope already. My bigger concern is for the world my children face, as they enter the world as adults. We have time to correct the course our nation and world are on. We can do this by being thoughtful about the actual experience and policies of the people who are running for office at all levels. There is no vote that is unimportant, there is no race or candidate that doesn’t deserve your thoughtful participation.

Yes, I will vote. I will read the voter’s pamphlets to see what the candidates took the time to write — a thoughtful, coherent articulation of important philosophies and policies, or self-aggrandizement and promotion? Or nothing at all (really — in local and state elections particularly candidates sometimes cannot figure out the deadline… do you want a person who cannot read a calendar in office?). I will look at candidate websites. I will, for races where I am unsure, look for the public record of past votes and actions (if they have held office before), or watch for publications that vetted them. I will consider what people who have worked for and with the candidates say about them.

Yes, it matters what the candidates say and do. It matters what kind of person they are.

Yes, I will vote.

Yes, it matters.

Fifteen Years

Posted by on 11 Sep 2016 | Tagged as: citizenship, editorial, loss, Politics and War, Uncategorized

For fifteen years, we have talked about, and gone to war pretending it fixes, the events of September 11, 2001. On that day, I woke suddenly from deep sleep the instant the first plane hit.

I lost a college friend that day. Other people lost so much more.

We all lost a sort of innocence that day, I think — the idea that the United States was so big, and so prosperous, that no real damage would happen outside of a war.

And suddenly we were in a war. A war with a nebulous enemy. A war with no clear targets to strike.

But we had the good will of the world behind us, a world that (for the most part) was as shocked and appalled at the targeting of civilians during a time of relative peace in the world.

And then things got muddied up by “politics” and we lost the focus. And we are still engaged in wars in a now destabilized and volatile, and expanding, region. It got very messy, very fast.

I do not think we are safer, fifteen years later, despite giving up (and having stripped from us) some of our rights. I know that the more we objectify individuals and groups the less free we are.

I also know that, historically, when a society vilifies and dehumanizes a group, stripping them of equality, requiring people to conform to a narrow band of behavior, belief and speech, that society is on the downward slope. I know that it won’t stop with one creed, one race, one person — eventually more and more people are caught up and then no one is free.

Do we wonder why it is so dangerous to speak up in some countries? It is because when those governments first said “this person/group is a security risk” and instituted small restrictions, no one spoke up. When the first group was arrested, incarcerated, eliminated, the majority stood by silently. And by the time the majority realized they were ALL in danger… that anyone at any time could accuse anyone and that the machinery that had developed no longer cared about guilt or innocence, or intent, or outcomes… only about eliminating people who “might” be a threat to the government….

It is not yet too late in the United States to speak up, to fight for the traditions that underpin the constitution — no matter how unevenly applied in some times and places, no matter that it is imperfect — that ALL are created equal, and ALL are deserving of the same protections and opportunities.

Fifteen years ago, the United States’ population allowed a handful of angry, hate-filled people to start unravelling the core of our society. We gave up our freedoms in many ways out of fear and in a desire to be “safe” which we are never going to be. In so doing, the people who planned, carried out, supported, and approved of the murder of thousands — including my friend — were allowed to win. We allowed our freedoms and optimism, the very things that make us “Americans” to be undermined. It is not too late to reverse that trend.

Are you eligible and registered to vote? If so, do you vote? Even in local elections, perhaps especially in local elections, every vote counts. We shape our nation and our future by participating in our government. This is a right and privilege still denied to many around the world. WE CAN reclaim our rights and our national pride so that those who would deny us both do not win. We can elect people who keep military “answers” as a very last resort — not weakening our defenses but being more thoughtful and intentional about when to use force, and more intentional about when not to.

We CAN make this world better. It takes WILL. It takes time. it takes heart

Don’t let the terrorists win. Don’t let hate win.

Work for love. Work for peace.

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