Monday, May 31, 2004

344 Home Again

The Lake was cool and rainy, but with just enough sun that my husband successfully painted our cottage. The man amazes me--he has a plan, he does it. This is the fourth time since we purchased it in the late 80s that he has painted our "mauveless" cottage.

I too had a plan--packed all my watercolor supplies, even bought a fresh role of masking tape, several issues of American Artist, and never even unpacked the bag. On Friday and Saturday I visited all the yard sales--there must have been 20 or so within walking distance of our house.

The children at Lakeside seem to grow up like frames in time lapse photography. We see them only a few weeks of the summer. The toddlers we saw the summer of 1988 (seems like yesterday) walking to the kiddie pool with their mom, are now in college and bringing girlfriends along. But some of the elderly seem to never change--just move slightly slower. Our neighbor Les has been a retired Methodist minister the entire time we've known him, and is still playing golf and acting as a supply preacher from time to time, marrying and burying.

We had the opportunity to meet and have breakfast with the photographer, Rob Karosis, who was in town to photograph one of my husband's house designs, "The Healthy House," which will be in a forthcoming book by M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman, architects and authors of books about houses. He will probably take the rest of the year to photograph all the houses (I think the focus is on vacation cottages built recently) so I wouldn't expect the new book until 2005.

The opening program Saturday evening at the auditorium was Sounds of Sousa, always fun, but we left at intermission--it had been a long day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

343 The Failures of PBS's Colonial House

After Jeff Wyers and his family left the village, there wasn't much point in watching, since he seemed to be the only one who really caught the flavor of the 17th century life. Thank goodness for Jack Lecza, the treasurer sent by the venture capitalists, or the colony would have imploded. But I stayed with it--perhaps the only reality show I've ever watched with any interest.

It was so frustrating to see what was filmed and talked about, and know what wasn't. I would have much preferred to see a more complete routine of how hard the women worked to prepare meals than to hear the constant whining of Michelle Rossi-Vorhees. I'm sure she would have been much more impressive as a hard working provider than a pouting church/state activist. If she knew she was an atheist, or agnostic, before hand, why sign up for a religious settlement where you've agreed to abide by the rules?

I would have liked to see what the indentured servant Jonathon actually did to earn back his financed passage, rather than hear about his 21st century homosexuality which just had to be blathered about to millions of watchers who really didn't care. Would you take your young children to a public meeting to hear that? Probably not. But that was his coming out party--the Sabbath Meeting of the colony. How phoney and self-aggrandizing. And how manipulative of PBS.

And in the summary, post-colony scenes, why not more information on the families and servants who arrived as replacements, like the Verdecia family? One shot of people stepping into the shower would have been sufficient.

The voice-over lady. Where did she get her facts? Off a web site built by a junior high school social studies class? It isn't true there were no free blacks in 17th century America. It isn't true that 10,000,000 Africans were enslaved in America (no one knows how many were captured in Africa, shipped and died en route, but overwhelmingly they arrived in the islands and South America to work in sugar plantations). If 90% of all Native Americans died of diseases brought by the Europeans, I don't think there would have been enough left to trade with or fight with.

I'm sure the group who lived this six weeks in Maine with no modern conveniences learned something. I just wish the rest of us could have been let in on the fun.

One comment about the women's appearance: they looked terrific, dirty or not, during the filming and their complexions bloomed. They looked so artificial in the post-production scenes covered with make-up.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

342 Two of Too

Two top people are leaving Too Inc. according to today's paper (this is almost a tongue twister). The usual "family issues" are cited as the reason, but an analyst suggests that the anticipated turn around was slower than expected. Too Inc. is a spin off of Limited Brands which also owns Victoria's Secret, but the products are marketed to little girls.

Maybe the guys' daughters were growing up and they took a look at what they were selling to little girls so they could dress and look as trampy as their older sisters. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the "family issue" was an attack of old fashioned modesty and morality?

Monday, May 24, 2004

341 Bill Cosby's Comments

I couldn't have made it through my children's teen-age years without the TV Huxtable family, the pediatrician and lawyer raising five kids and later, some grand children. I still love them on Nick at Night.

Now Bill Cosby's in trouble with the media and some Black organizations for pointing out some obvious failures in the Black community in the post Brown vs. Board of Education world. Shoot the messenger; it wouldn't be the first time.

However, I think Bill should come to my neighborhood and get an earful and eyeful of the white middleclass students I overhear in the mornings at Panera's. They have difficulty making it through a brief sentence without numerous inputs of "like." Like I don't know like how they can like even like keep track of like what's like going on. I think it is a new form of stuttering.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

340 The father?

OSUToday, May 21, reports that Ohio State University is starting a vacation donation plan whereby employees can donate some of their leave to others. This had been possible for sick leave for some time. And it makes sense because vacation leave maxes out at a certain number of days and if you don't take it, you lose it. But the wording about fathers is certainly odd:
The vacation donation program, which will go into effect on June 1, will allow faculty and staff to donate vacation hours to other employees within their colleges or vice presidential units. The hours may be used during approved unpaid leaves for reasons such as life-threatening or terminal illnesses. . . The benefit will provide birth mothers with six weeks of full pay and biological fathers, partners and adoptive parents three weeks of full pay.
It sounds as though if the unmarried, or married, birth mother or adoptive mother, knows who the biological dad is, he gets 3 weeks of full pay. No word on whether or not he is doing any hands-on fathering, other than donating sperm. And although I assume this is for bonding to benefit the child, the adoptive mother gets only 3 weeks, but the birth mother gets 6. Call me crazy, but it is the adoptive mother who needs a little extra time for the bonding process, unless 2 years of fertility testing, paper work, trips to Russia and run arounds by birth mothers advertising in the want-ads are considered part of the bonding experience. And what about the birth mother who placed the baby for adoption? Can she get 6 weeks of donated vacation time to recover physically and emotionally? I hope they've worded this very carefully, because the news item certainly has loop-holes.

339 Did these interviews and conversations really happen

or is it the author’s way to get her message out? Peggy Noonan in a Wall Street Journal article May 20 (here with free sign-up) records a conversation with a suburban, female fence sitter--sometimes she votes Republican, sometimes Democrat, and she appears to be luke-warm on Dubya. This voter, whom Noonan calls Anna, was very influenced by the era in which she became an adult--when Vietnam protests were flooding the news. She doesn’t believe any war is worthwhile, unless maybe the enemy were invading Long Island, then perhaps we should fight. (I’m thinking, Are there voters that na├»ve?) I don’t know. Perhaps there was a real conversation, or perhaps Noonan has created a composite to get her point across. I learned at a recent writer’s conference that this is not considered unethical in memoir and non-fiction writing.

Based on Anna’s politics, which include musings on her adult children and grandchildren, Ms. Noonan concludes:
“If I were George W. Bush I might be thinking that down the road but not too far down, it might be a good idea to start making clear two things. One, why I am indispensable--a delicate thing to communicate, but something re-elected incumbents always have to get across sooner or later. "I am leading us in the right direction and my work is just begun." And the other is to make the case that a Kerry presidency would not be a lunge toward greater stability, that it would not be a "return to normalcy," that Mr. Kerry wouldn't right things but make them worse, bringing more trouble.

A one-two punch: If you stand with me, I'll get the peace and prosperity we seek; and if you go for him it will make the world less safe and the country less healthy.”
Couldn’t she find a Republican to interview who wants George W. Bush to return to traditional conservative, fiscally responsible policies instead of spending money like a drunken Democrat? That might make some waffling Republicans take notice. After all, I have opinions about my neighborhood and my adult children she could work into the story.

Friday, May 21, 2004

338 Good-bye Lennie

I watched the final episode of Law and Order Wednesday night, the episode in which Detective Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) says good-bye and leaves his position at the 27th precinct (and the show). It may be the only episode I’ve ever seen first run, even though we’ve been watching reruns about 10 years. He’s been on the show 12 of the 14 years. After 12 years of service, I think they could have written a better story about his retirement. When I retired, I had 5 parties. I’m not exactly addicted to Law and Order, but I think I average one a day.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

337 Co-ed military

Even if you wouldn’t usually read Cal Thomas, his May 18 column is worth taking a look at in light of recent break down in authority in Iraq.

I was a little puzzled however, by Thomas’ recollection of his years in the military in the 1960s. He says he didn’t see alcoholism or adultery in his unit, and the one incident he heard about resulted in a court marshall.

My father was a Marine in the 1940s, and I know from the letters he wrote home he was distressed over the terrible behavior of some of his comrades, many of whom were 15 years younger than him, but married. There are probably many reasons not to have women and men sharing quarters in the military, but the former stellar behavior of male soldiers isn’t one of them

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

336 Kerry or Bush--who's misquoted the most?

On my blogroll, I link to The Volokh Conspiracy, a group blog of 13 lawyers. Eugene Volokh is a professor at UCLA School of Law. I looked back and see the index goes back to April 2002, where I found this, "ETYMOLOGY. Little-known fact: The word "politics" comes from the prefix "poly-," meaning "many," and the root "ticks," meaning "bloodsucking insects."

I take a peek at this blog from time to time, often having no idea what these lawyers are chatting about. But yesterday's was different.

Slate.com is running a column alled “Kerryisms,” in which Slate.com attempts to translate John Kerry into plain English by removing pompous and evasive expressions. I can only assume that these quotes then get passed around the Internet, with quotation marks, to various pundits, some pro-Kerry, some anti-Kerry. At Volokh Conspiracy on May 19 there is a running dissection of what Slate.com is attempting to do, and how the “translation” changes Kerry’s intent. One brief paragraph about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners had 20 footnotes of deletions. There is also comment on how another source changed Kerry's statement about the Bill of Rights and gay marriage in an attempt to clarify and translate his awkward statement.

Eugene Volokh concludes: “Finally, I express no opinion on whether Kerry is indeed often pompous or evasive, or engages in pointless embellishment. I also can't speak to how Kerry's statement here came across orally — maybe his delivery was lousy, even if the text was fine. I say only that this is a pretty poor example of what Slate is seemingly trying to prove. And it bodes ill for this column.”

Let’s face it. Neither of these guys can speak as well as Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, and it’s like nailing Jell-o to a wall to figure them out most of the time. All the same, we should eye so-called quotations with care.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

335 Under construction.

I've made a sign for the bathroom, "Under construction" and have taped three wallpaper samples to the wall--all with cats. I think my favorite is the cat lying on a shelf of books. All the books have cat-type titles, there is a stuffed mouse, and a slip of paper under one of the books reads, "to purr or not to purr." All the samples are in green tones because I don't want to replace the carpeting.

Removing wallpaper in a small bathroom is no small feat. When I removed the fan cover (oh yuck look at all that dirt!) I lost the screw, which was enormous. Retracing my steps, I remembered my husband came in just as I pulled down the cover, and then it was gone. I climbed down from the ladder to hear his story about seeing Susan's garden, how wonderful it was, and then visiting her neighbor's garden. Then I looked around and the screw was gone, although the fan cover and screw driver were still in my hand. I checked my pockets, behind the toilet, in the murky, pastey water, and in my pockets again. No screw.

I checked the plastic bag with all the wet, gooey strips of wallpaper. Nothing. I kept wiping and scraping. Where is that silly screw? I took the bag outside and went through it two more times. No screw. Since I had been tossing scraps into the bag, I was sure I had probably done that automatically when I was interrupted. Finally, I took the bag outside again, with another bag, and transferred each sticky scrap of wallpaper into the other bag. Finally, I found the screw in the bottom of the bag, inside a folded corner.

I'm having a dinner party Friday night. I'm sure the bathroom will be a topic of conversation.

Monday, May 17, 2004

334 Walking off the carbs

I saw two women walkers at Panera's this morning wearing reflective vests over their exercise outfits. I hope they were at the end of the exercise routine and not the beginning. Two large coffees and two huge sacks of bagels, brownies and bear claws could slow a woman down. And I think that was a women's track team--about 16 of them--sitting next to me. I've heard Panera's stock is dipping due to the low carb craze, but around here it seems to be the place to stop after exercise.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

333 Solving problems or Making art, do we have to choose?

The June issue of American Artist has two short pieces reflecting on the American art scene. In one, the editor comments that he had the opportunity to talk to an art student who had been assigned problems to solve with his art--his assignments were to "comment on a social situation, to juxtapose two views of the same object, to create a three-dimensional self-portrait, and to use children's toys to express and idea." (p. 4) At no time did the teachers seemed concerned with the artist's understanding of colors, values, shapes, or textures--that which allows the rest of us to participate in the art work.

Then on p. 12 there is a well-illustrated short item about the Bridgeview School of Fine Art in Long Island City, NY, offering training modeled on the 19th century European or American art schools. Bridgeview's founders provide a rigorous program in drawing, painting, and sculpture for both adults and older children. The founders and faculty were all trained in the former Soviet Union. The web site is http://www.academicart.com.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

332 Pie Oh My

Imagine my shock and awe when I opened the refrigerator fruit drawer and saw a huge stack of rhubarb! Now, indeed, I had purchased it, but had forgotten it. So after supper I dug around and found my Granddaughter's Inglenook Cookbook for no nonsense ingredients. While shooing the cat out of the pantry I spilled about a cup of sugar. Then I took a deep breath and went into my office and turned on the Totally Acappella Christian Radio on my computer for some soothing music. The pie is now safely in the freezer--forgot a few things, but nothing serious, if I cover it up with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, no one will ever know. The music is nice.

Friday, May 14, 2004

331 Jobs rebounding here

The paper was a bit thin, so I glanced at the want ads to see if they were reflecting the "good news" of the recovery. Here's what I saw
collision repair
masons
cabinet maker
CAD/CAM programmer
carpenter
painters
concrete finishers (many listings)
die cutter
back hoe operator
drywall
electricians
framers
gutter installers
HVAC
patio room installers
irrigation tech
michanic--brakes
OTR drivers (many)
manager-retail
sales--automotive, route, wireless, construction
programmer
dental assistant (many)
chiropractic assistant
EMT
internist--cardiology
medical billing
medical office manager
pharmacist
English teacher
PT
physician
respiratory therapist
grounds mangers
mobile home park manager
warehouse
I know the science librarian position is still open at Ohio State, which doesn't usually advertise in the want ads. Doesn't pay too great--probably not as much as the back hoe operator or the concrete finisher.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

330 Oh honey--go home and get dressed!

When women my age were teen-agers in the 1950s we liked to wear low-slung Levi's and tie our blouses in the front to expose a little tummy. Sounds just like today, doesn't it? However, that was for parties with the girls or school picnics. If we'd shown up in school that way, we would have been sent home. I don't recall "dress slacks" as an in-public outfit until the late 1960s or early 1970s, when we women desperately needed something to cover us when the mini-skirt fad started.

But when I was a teen in jeans and quasi-halter top, my mother and grandmothers were in dresses. Not today! I see older, matronly women in the coffee shop in the morning that I just pray are going to the gym or exercise club and not work. Hair looks good, make-up applied, fashionable purse, tights and baggy t-shirt that don't begin to cover the belly rolls and bursting flesh that the undergarments can't corral and control.

But modesty is making a comeback. Quite by accident I came across a clothing apparel website for Lydia of Purple, a Christian seamstress. It seems the homeschooling movement has created some demand for dresses that cover and flatter rather than reveal and insult. They do sewing, custom made clothes for home schoolers and conservative religious groups like Amish and Mennonites. I browsed through some of the patterns, and some look pretty good. Gathered waist, full or A-line skirts, pleated bodice, elbow length or long sleeves, higher necks. Similar to some of the dress patterns I have from about 1965. They will make a pattern for you, you can send the material, or make it yourself, I think.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

329 Cicadas

We're hearing a lot about these bugs, and soon we'll be hearing from them. The "buzz" is supposed to be about 90 decibels. I wonder what the decibel rating is for the new rock music service at our church? Higher I'm guessing, because I can hear it in a classroom across the Narthex with all the doors closed.

The Ohio State Extension reports with a map and further details:

Periodical cicadas emerge in specific locations once every 17 years in the northern part of their range, and once every 13 years in the southern part. Different groups called "broods" emerge somewhere in the eastern United States almost every spring. Massive brood emergence is believed to overwhelm predators, which are mostly birds. This ensures that enough survivors will be left behind to reproduce. Male cicadas are capable of making a loud buzzing noise and squawk when disturbed. The males often synchronize their buzzing in trees which produces a deafening noise. It is believed that such droning and squawking is effective in deterring predators.
The "dog-day" cicadas we hear in late July and early August are different than the 17 year variety.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

328 The Last Oldsmobile

A sad day last week. The last Oldsmobile rolled off the line in Lansing MI. Was there anything prettier than a bright red Cutlass convertible of the late 60s-early 70s? I heard a guy on the radio say it stood for
Old
Ladies
Driving
Slowly
Mostly
Over
Bridges
Into
Lake
Erie

Monday, May 10, 2004

327 Are they really like family?

When I was the veterinary medicine librarian at The Ohio State University, I witnessed a huge shift in the English language. Small animal medicine became pet animal medicine and exotic animal medicine which then became companion animal medicine during my 14 years there. Dogs, cats, parrots, ferrets, sugar gliders, pot-bellied pigs, bunnies, etc., all went from being animals that could be owned, to companions and members of the family. Cats and dogs were no longer purchased or selected, they were “adopted,” as though the person or couple had tried to physically give birth to one and couldn’t so they went the adoption route!

So imagine my shock and surprise today when I saw a poster at Panera’s advertising for a new home for Brady and Maddy because their “parents” were splitting up. The “D” word, divorce, was not mentioned, so I assume these “parents,” gay or straight, had “illegitimate” puppies who no longer fit into their lifestyle scheme of things.

These cute Beagle mixes weighing 45 lbs. (one with German Shepherd and one with Coonhound, although they looked much the same in their photographs) were caged trained for 40 hour work weeks, each had CAR chips (security), up to date shots and medical routines, and were accustomed to a long list of grooming aids and lap sitting during TV time, which were listed on the poster. The owners, I mean parents, even listed the name and address of the veterinary clinic which Brady and Maddy really liked.

And I’m all teary thinking about those two little Beagle mixes, sitting in their cages 40 hours a week, waiting patiently for their “family” to come home to play. And this is their reward? They would have been better off to be dogs.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

326 Meeting code with Braille

My grandmother was blind and raised nine children on the farm with no electricity or running water. I don't believe she ever learned Braille, but she did enjoy her Talking Books, loved listening to her Chicago Cubs on the radio, and had a small business she did by telephone.

However, even as amazing as she was (knew her huge flock of grandchildren by voice), I doubt that she could have used the instructions in Braille on the baby changing table in the ladies restroom. I'm not sure what they say--probably something about not leaving the child unattended. I noticed the instructions on a newly installed table at Caribou yesterday, because if used, the table would block the door.

Think about it. If a mother with a babe on hip makes her way into the building from the parking lot, through the restaurant/store/coffee shop to the ladies room, feels along the wall until she can find the folded up table, pauses to read the instructions in Braille, pulls it down and clicks it into place, manuevers around between the stalls and sinks to find a place for the diaper bag, would she be so careless as to leave the baby there alone?

Even in the 1980s, Grandma said life was easier and safer in the 1920s when she was raising hers on the farm.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

325 Jobs picking up, just as predicted

The jobless recovery must be over, because the news recently has been about the turnaround. Maybe good service will be next? I know three young men, ages from the late 20s to late 30s who all say the same thing--"Corporate doesn't care about the customer anymore--just the bottom line."
  • One is a salesman for medical cleaning supplies,
  • one is a cowboy on a ranch, and
  • one is a service manager for a foreign car dealer.

    Beats me.

  • Friday, May 07, 2004

    324 Second Chancers

    I've seen three articles in the Wall Street Journal this week about career women who stopped working to raise their children and who are now going back to work--either because the children are starting high school or college, or there is a divorce looming on the economic horizon.

    One former executive ($100,000 in 1996) said she couldn't afford to take the $40,000/year salary offered for an entry level job because of child care costs for her 3 sons, 8, 4, and 2. Really? She wants to cheat another woman out of a living wage so she can go to work? I remember seeing a cartoon about this in one of my grandmother's old Ladies Home Journal from the woman's suffrage movement days of the early 20th century.

    I have a suggestion for Ms. Picky Executive. Take the $40,000 job, pay 2/3 of it out in child care, new clothes, gasoline, lunches and taxes. Figure it as "reentry fees" or "dues." It's a small price for having been able to enjoy the kids for a few years--something a lower paid clerical worker or teacher probably didn't get to do. Then in a few years when you're worth more because you've retooled, caught up and gotten an attitude adjustment, go for the big one.

    Thursday, May 06, 2004

    323 New Households--loosely defined

    The Daily Reporter, Columbus' only daily business and legal newspaper (est. 1896) comes to us on Thursday, because of the AIA information. There is a column called "New Households," taken from the records of marriage licenses applications of Franklin County. Today's paper listed 55 applications. However, according to the addresses, 36 of the couples were already residing at the same address.

    Wednesday, May 05, 2004

    322 Cheap date

    Last night we went to the 50 cent Tuesday Movie with our neighbor to see Miracle with Kurt Russell, the story of the 1980 Olympics Team USA hockey win. She is recently widowed and misses her spouse of 50+ years and we miss our parents who were of her generation and experience, so we're good for each other. None of us know much about hockey, but we enjoyed the story of team building, hope and surprise as a young, inexperienced group of self-centered college kids put aside old hurts and gripes to become champions who boost the self-esteem of an entire nation. As the credits roll at the end, it was interesting to see the one-sentence bios of the players many of whom have done quite well in finance and real estate.

    Tuesday, May 04, 2004

    321 Bookclub selections for 2004-2005

    Our final meeting of the bookclub calendar is in May--we have a shorter session, then select books for the next year. Each member has the opportunity to recommend a book (or two) she has read and then promote it for about 90 seconds. Absentees can send along a book and recommendation with a friend. Then we vote and the top nine are selected. This group will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year--I joined in October 2000, when I retired. The list for next year is
  • Seabiscuit
  • Upside down World, with author as guest
  • In but not of
  • Secret life of bees
  • Eats, shoots leaves
  • The living
  • Evensong
  • Ship of gold
  • #1 Ladies Detective Agency
  • Hush, a children's book will be a special meeting with the illustrator as a guest.
  • Sounds like a great year!

    Sunday, May 02, 2004

    320 Got a hot date?

    The President got rave reviews for the time spent with the 9/11 panel. The media tried to make hay the day before, but the sun just didn't shine. USAToday in reporting it buried the remarks about full cooperation and "extraordinary" in the middle of the article, then padded it with a rehash of the Richard Clarke book. WSJ described it--first paragraph--forthcoming, candid, gracious and friendly.

    However, a small item was buried in yesterday's paper: two Democrats on the panel, Kerry and Hamilton, left the 9/11 commission's meeting with President Bush early to attend "previously scheduled appointments." What would that be exactly? What would be more important than a private meeting with a United States President, more important than national security? Shame. Shame.

    Saturday, May 01, 2004

    319 Librarians are not babysitters

    Those of us who grew up in small towns, who walked to the library during the limited hours it was open, who knew it was a special place safe for children find it hard to imagine some of the issues today's public librarians have to deal with.

    The sub-headline in today's Columbus Dispatch looked a bit startling, "no pets or children under 7," but the story was about unattended children in the Columbus Public Library system. New rules. No children under 7 without a parent or caregiver.

    The reporter included a story about a child young enough to have dirty diapers left with siblings and a sack of McDonald's hamburgers while Mama went off to the shopping center. Now, if the staff can't find the parent within 30 minutes, they will call the police. One mother interviewed for the story said her own limit for leaving children alone at the library is age 14. Other parents (and staff) thought the age limit for unattended children should be set higher.

    I'm not sure what the rules are at my suburban library--if I'm there (rarely) after 3 p.m., I see many unattended children whose parents use it as an after-school day care program. I haven't seen any behavior problems, just a little competition for the computers, but I don't think libraries are any safter than supermarkets for unattended children, and with the internet access, they may be less safe.