Thursday, September 28

Morning Coffee

For nearly two weeks the White House and rebellious Republican senators have fought publicly over whether President Bush's plan for detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects would give a president too much authority.

Many believe this is legislation Republicans likely will use on the campaign trail to assert that Democrats want to coddle terrorists.

The American people have been tortured enough... please, no more.

New information released today is just another indication of how human nature has a tendency to just take things for granted. A group of researchers believe, based on the clothing she is wearing, Mona Lisa was either pregnant or had recently given birth. Evidently the veil-like head garment that she wears (the veil that many of us have never even noticed) can be considered maternity wear. Seems the 500 year old paint is holding up fine, but the poplar board that Leonardo used as his canvas is warping just a tad.

Time has tendency to slip away, but here's proof that some of us seem to have an unfair overabundance. This lady in the UK has knitted a "to scale" English flower garden.
Click here for a gallery of pictures from the knitted garden!

Fall is definitely here, casting long afternoon shadows.

Monday, September 25

Give Peace A Chance

I caught something interesting on VH1 last night: The Drug Years. It was a 4-hour documentary that explored drug use decade by decade.

I had read about about the observations of Timothy Leary and found that part interesting. The 60s review was the most entertaining with it's laid-back pot smokers and love for one another.

Things started going sour with the Vietnam war when heroin was made available to soldiers and so many returned to the US as addicts. This documentary hinted that the government not only knew of the drug use during the war, but assisted in making it readily available. That's disturbing, to say the least.

Another thing that really rattled me was watching the protests and demonstrations. I was taken with the outpouring of genuine concern for the direction of the country and the insistence that "Love and Peace" were the preferred order of the day for so many. Granted they were high or getting high or whatever, but the fact remains they had the gumption, even in their somewhat altered states, to recognize what is fair and just and what is not... and they took a stand. Some even lost their life at the hands of those who just wouldn't hear what they were trying to say. (sigh!)

The world is pretty much the same now. We have a conflict that is suspect. We are still a nation of drug users--and the government still doesn't recognize the plight of the common man.
Nearest I can figure, the message of those who demostrated and marched somehow got lost along the way. History is repeating itself and America is turning a deaf ear.

Monday, September 18

Hell Freezes Over

"Discretion is being able to raise your eyebrow instead of your voice."

I lived in Texas in my previous life. I have been back in Virginia for almost 5 years now.

In fact, there have been numerous changes in my life in the past 5 years. My old friends in Texas would get a fit of the giggles if they caught a glimpse of "a day in the life."

My daily companions are four-legged. I live out in the boonies, so to speak. I can leave my keys in the car. I'd really have to think about where I've put the keys to the house. Nope, I don't lock the doors.

But the biggest change is probably that I've learned to (sometimes) keep my mouth shut. I'm learning to pick my battles, or better yet, recognizing the difference between a brush fire and a forest fire.

I've always admired those who could keep it all together so eloquently and never get ruffled. Ann Richards was that way (see last post). So is Bill Clinton.

Perhaps the path to this type of lifestyle is in doing the right thing... to provide the greatest good for the greatest number.

Friday, September 15

"The here and now is all we have..."

"The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right it's all we'll need. -- Ann Richards - September 1, 1933 - September 13, 2006

After a short but valiant battle with cancer, former Governor Ann Richards has died at her home in Austin, Texas. She had just celebrated her 73rd birthday a couple of weeks ago.

Richards was the quintessential Texas woman, with a sassy homespun charm, sharp wit and tough pioneer spirit. With bright silver hair, a weathered face and an affinity for cobalt blue suits and pearls, Richards was instantly recognizable to national television audiences.

One of her most notable public appearances was in 1988 when Democratic National Chairman Paul Kirk asked her to be the keynote speaker at the party's national convention that summer. Her speech was to draw differences between the parties and take aim at a fellow Texan: Vice President George Bush, the GOP nominee for president.

Richards thrilled her national audience with some of her feminist humor on the ability of women to equal men: "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."

What became memorable, though, was a line she delivered to show Bush was out of touch with the economic and family issues that were important to poor and middle class Americans.

"Poor George, he can't help it — he was born with a silver foot in his mouth," Richards said.

That speech set the stage for Richards to run for governor in 1990.
As a Democratic politician, Richards' race for governor against Republican cowboy oilman Clayton Williams became a battle of the sexes. She was the image of the modern Texas woman, while Williams projected the cowboy aura of the state's heritage.

Williams was a cowboy who had become a millionaire oilman and had expanded his empire into telecommunications and banking.
Richards played off his mistakes. Williams once compared bad weather to rape, saying there is nothing to be done about it, so "relax and enjoy it." He also refused to shake Richards' hand after she had criticized some of his business practices.

Her victory symbolically broke down gender barriers for a generation of Texas women who were seeking professional careers.

Richards labeled her administration the "New Texas," appointing more Hispanics, blacks and women to state boards and commissions than any previous governor. She pushed for increases in public education funding and promoted business expansion in the state.

A recovering alcoholic, Richards also pressed lawmakers to increase funding for drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs.

Polls showed Richards was the most personally popular governor in 30 years. Late in her term as governor, the Houston Chronicle asked Richards how she viewed her gubernatorial legacy.

"How about, 'She changed the economic future of Texas,'" Richards replied. "And that really beats what I feared my tombstone was going to say, and that was: 'She kept a really clean house.'"

During her first year in office, Richards signed a $2.7 billion tax bill to balance the state's budget. The state also adopted the lottery under her.

Her most notable achievement was opening the doors of government to people other than Anglos and men. About 44 percent of her appointees were female; 20 percent Hispanic; and 14 percent black. Her two predecessors in office had given more than 77 percent of their appointments to Anglo men.

Richards described herself as a "two-headed cow," a curiosity that corporate leaders allow through the door just so they can see her.

She could brag about getting General Motors to keep its Arlington plant open, as the company was partly motivated by a package of state incentives. She persuaded Southwestern Bell to move its corporate headquarters from St. Louis to San Antonio. She convinced computer giant Apple to consolidate its customer service operations in Williamson County.

Richards went into her 1994 re-election campaign against the younger Bush with the highest personal popularity ratings of any governor in 30 years. She questioned Bush's experience to serve as Texas governor and his criticism of her record. She called him "some jerk who's running for public office."

In her farewell news conference as governor, Richards said she was ready to move to the next phase of her life. The homemaker-turned-politician wanted to earn the money that would make her secure in retirement.

"Life is like a layer cake," Richards said. "You put one layer on top of the other, and whether you frost it or not is up to you. I'm looking forward now to a little frosting."

Official portrait and brief biography at the Texas State Library & Archives
Ann Richards on a motorcycle and more Richards photos (Texas State Library & Archives)
Quotations from Ann Richards (About Women's History)

Democratic National Convention Address by Ann Richards

Ann Richards buying the first Texas Lottery scratch-off ticket in 1992 (the Texas Lottery started during Richards' term as governor).
KVUE News / AP Story on life and death of Ann Richards

Thursday, September 14

Perception vs. Reality

I've realized the mind will play tricks on you.

We all see things the way we WANT to see them. And we all see things through our own window, or viewpoint of the world (See photo: my favorite window).
What makes life interesting, or humorous, or a real challenge... has to do with what happens when we forget the simple fact that we are all not looking at life through the same window. Sounds simple enough to correct, doesn't it?

Just remember we all don't see things the same way. With that thought in memory, maybe no voices will raise and all patience will remain intact... no one will "lose it."
Another thing I have found to be very helpful is to "listen with the intent to understand, rather than with the intent to reply."
I'm even putting in a little 5-10 second delay before I speak, just to be sure.

Tuesday, September 12

Just Fix It

I read in the paper this morning scientists believe that global warming has caused the strange weather we've been experiencing.
It makes me absolutely ill to think that we are all responsible for Hurricane Katrina.
The religious right has stated that God was just punishing the sinners in Louisiana -- I doubt Washington D.C. would still be standing if that were the case! (Or Crawford, Texas for that matter).

I'm trying my best to stay off the old soapbox. It isn't easy.

I truly hope that everyone realizes what is at stake in this next election. Please don't wait for your neighbor's vote to make the difference. Step right up to the plate and cast your own. And please let it be your own. Don't be swayed by news propaganda or viewpoints of friends or family.
Please research candidates just as thoroughly as you would anything else you plan on being around for at least 4 years. Bear in mind also, how expensive the president is in terms of salary... and factor in the damage they may be capable of in 4 years time.
I'm pretty upset with the current state of affairs. Somewhat embarassed for the country as a whole.
What do you say... how about we just fix it?

Friday, September 8

Sir Walter Raleigh Goes Down

I'll never forget how horrified I was when I first heard my history professor, Mr. Trussell, quite nonchulantly refer to Sir Walter Raleigh as a pirate.
I grew up in Virginia. I have always loved history and spent a good portion of my childhood visiting all those wonderful museums that celebrated Virginia history. I remember peering through the glass cases at the old clothes and relics. Sir Walter Raleigh was a celebrated explorer. Never once did I see or hear the term "pirate" associated with his good name...
Until one Texas professor laid it all out. He explained his position once I confronted him after class. If I remember correctly, I think he was a bit amused with my reaction as well.
At any rate, Mr. Trussell explained that I had put Mr. Raleigh up on a pedestal and in doing so, had neglected to see some things. He went on to say this is not an uncommon practice -- for individuals such as myself to fail to realize that individuals like Sir Walter Raleigh are human just like the rest of us and indeed may possess character flaws and bad judgement.
Wow! Denial perhaps?
I guess we all see what we want to see. Then one day, it slaps us right in the face and there's no escape. No denial. Just piracy.
Yesterday, I discovered another pirate in someone I had believed had the utmost integrity. Tears slipped down my face as I silently cried.
Funny thing, I'm not sure if I was crying for them or for me.

Thursday, September 7

TMI: Not a good thing.

I heard something the other day that really made me think. I overheard my uncle telling my mother that he was going to try and be more like me by staying out of other people's business.
He's right that I try to mind my own business. I've just grown very tired of all the mess. I really would prefer to NOT know all those little tidbits of information that feed the rumor mills and keep tongues wagging.
And in turn, maybe they'll leave me along. HA! Fat chance.
I was speaking to the husband of a close friend just yesterday. He was concerned by the inconsiderate curiousity of the local folks when inquiring about the recent death of her mother. He couldn't understand how folks weren't through probing until she was in tears.
Gossip. You see, they need the all the details to pass it on. If they were genuinely concerned, they would have been through after "I'm sorry" and "What can I do to help?"
You have to feel sorry for those who live for this stuff. They have no real life and live though the trials and tribulations of others. These are very sort who would go to the trouble of typing you an anonymous letter (or poem) to forewarn you of impending doom.
I steer clear of all things related... I don't want to know, don't need to know.
I think maybe maturity is knowing when to shut up. Or maybe learning which battles to pick.
I'll just keep busy here on this 26 acres with my dogs and my flowers.