Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Honesty -- the Lost Art

Does honesty count for anything any more? Is the name of the political game "say anything to win your point, no matter what the facts are" ?

The "Yes on 8" people rolled out their first television ad this morning. The whole thing is one huge lie from beginning to end. Taking a page from the Bush play book, they are playing on people's biggest fears and making stuff up.

The first thing it says is that if the proposition passes churches could be sued for refusing to marry gay couples, that churches could lose their tax exempt status.

Blatant falsehood. This isn't about religious ceremonies. It's about LEGAL rights. Nobody has ever said a single word about religion. That's the whole point -- that the two should be separate.

What the California Supreme court did was to uphold the Constitution's guarantee of equality for all.

Gay couples deserve the same legal rights as straight couples but everyone admits that whether marriages should have religious sanction is entirely up to the specific religions. Religion is, and should be, under the jurisdiction of the people who make the rules for that religion.

Then it says that passage of this bill will require teaching of same-sex marriage in schools.

Oh, pulleeze.

Why in the world would anybody think that allowing gay couples to legally marry would stretch to demand that same sex marriage be taught in public schools? Where has that even been hinted? Good grief, they don't even have time for music and art classes in the rush to get kids ready to take exams. When are they going to set aside time to teach anything about same sex marriage? The notion is absurd.

I have a newsflash for those who are worried that their children might learn that there are homosexuals in the world. You see them every day. Everywhere. Some of them you recognize, some of them you don't. Your child's teacher may be a homosexual. There are gay characters on an awful lot of television programs. Kissing between gay couples is no longer a taboo thing on television. Children see it all the time, whether you know it or not. The world has not crumbled because of it.

It all goes back to that "icky" business. People can't stand the thought of two people of the same gender being in love with one another. In their minds they may see two people holding hands and immediately flash on the mental image of their sweaty bodies engaged in activities that they find disgusting.

(I hate to tell ya, but if you extend that same vision to STRAIGHT couples holding hands, the mental image can be not really a kid-friendly sight either!)

You know, it's funny how you can go to a function and see two women kiss each other in greeting, or two guys on the football field kissing each other after a good play, and think nothing of it. But if you know those people kissing are gay, even if the nature of the kiss doesn't change, suddenly it becomes something "disgusting."

But this doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with what people, gay or straight, do behind closed doors. It has to do with the legal rights that should extend to all citizens equally.

No matter how you feel about relations between people of the same gender, concentrate instead on the legal rights that straight couples enjoy and that, until only recently, gay couples did not enjoy.

Then imagine that someone is voting to take YOUR rights away. How would you feel?

Gay people have fought long and hard to win the rights to marry legally. They now have that right in California and hundreds of people have taken advantage of that right to finally make a legal commitment to their long-term partners.

I am so thrilled that Del Martin, who died at age 87, was able to marry her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyons, before her death.

Passsage of Proposition 8 will take away those rights and set up two classes of gay people in California -- those who are legally married, and those who will never be permitted to legally marry.

It doesn't take a law degree to realize that having separate classes of citizens is against everything we have stood for in this country.

If Proposition 8 fails, your church will not lose its tax exempt status and your schools will not be inviting drag queens into the classroom.

Do the right thing, Californians. Work to defeat Proposition 8--and don't listen to the lies promulgated by the "Yes" people.

I don't know about you, but I would much rather children learn that there are some people in the world who are gay, than that their straight parents feels it's OK to go on television and tell lies just to win your point.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Call Me Madam

NNOhangers.jpg (41189 bytes)My party packet arrived today. I wondered if it EVER would. This is all the things I'm supposed to need to host the Neighbors Night Out party next Sunday.

I was wondering when/if it was going to come. The woman who hosted the party the last couple of years said that the city "provided everything," but I hadn't seen anything and didn't know if it would magically turn up on my doorstep or what.

Well...yes, it did sort of magically turn up on my doorstep. Or at least someone dropped it off while Walt was painting the carport today (he is painting it in preparation for the gathering).

There is an interesting assortment of goodies to help you prepare. For one thing there is a big stack of door hangers to deliver around the neighborhood to remind your neighbors that the event is happening. It was a huge deal for me to deliver the invitations door to door and now I have to go around the neighborhood and hang reminders on everyone's door again. This is not my kind of shtik. The woman who did it before had kids to send out to do it. I miss having kids to send out to do my dirty work!

In addition to the door hangers there is a tube full of light sticks, which Chico is very interested in.

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Two of them fell out of the tube they were in and started glowing, so I decided I'd better tape up the tube to keep any more from falling out.

There was also a stack of "Hello, My Name Is..." stickers and magnets which give you all the contact numbers you'll ever need for offices in the city of Davis.

There is a bag of balloons and pens (so you can write your identity on those "hello, my name is..." tags

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I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the balloons. I am very skittish about blowing up balloons and am always afraid they are going to pop in my face. I'm wondering if we can get a small cannister of helium (there aren't THAT many balloons) so they'll stand upright rather than just hanging limply..though hanging from our tree might be rather festive. Hmmm...I'll have to think about that...

Then there was this bag

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which puzzled me. Up until I was in the middle of writing this entry, I thought it was some new way to tie up balloons, but then I suddenly realized it was the connectors to make the glow sticks into necklaces. Duhh. Can you tell it's been a long time since I had young children in the house?

And finally, to my delight, there was a $25 gift certificate to the Davis Food Coop. The city will even help you pay for the refreshments you serve (but shhhh...don't tell the neighbors who have been invited to bring a dish to share!)

We used to have a big folding table around here, but I don't know where it went--probably off to Ned & Marta's, since they give parties, and I don't. I guess we'll make do with the round glass table on the patio.

I'm officially nervous about this party. For one thing, I thought that "everybody was doing it" all over town. This is a town of about 50,000 people and there are, according to the city's party web site, which I found yesterday, exactly sixty-eight parties going on. So it's fair to say that only a small percentage of neighborhoods are participating.

Also, most of the parties are taking place in the middle of the afternoon. I never questioned the time; I just put down what had been done the year before, but now that I look at how dark it is outside at 7 p.m., I'm wondering if I somehow got the time wrong. Also, I'm having an appetizer party (as was done in previous years) and, as Walt pointed out last night, most people will already have had dinner. I should have made it a dessert party. But too late to change that now. I'll add cookies for those who want something sweet.

I've already had two people call to say they can't come. I'm not optimistic about a big turnout, but who knows--maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. Or maybe that "precipitation" the weather people say may come next week will change everything!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

One of the Good Guys

I first heard the news on Twitter. Within seconds, it was all over the internet, and, within half an hour, a special report on TV: Paul Newman had died.

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Legends of the silver screen are a dying breed. Today's stars have not come through any sort of studio system and I doubt that 40 years from now we are going to be speaking of Britney Spears with the same reverence that people are speaking of Newman today.

I wasn't a fan of Newman's. I wasn't not a fan of his. He was an actor whose performances I always enjoyed. I never really noticed when he began to make fewer and fewer movies. I never paid attention to whether he won an Oscar or not (finally did forThe Color of Money).

I have a handful of movies of his that pop into mind when I think of him -- Butch Cassidy and The Sting, of course. Exodus. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The Hustler. I probably saw more, but those are the ones I remember.

Mostly when I think of Newman, the actor, I remember those blue, blue eyes.

But more, what I think of when I think of Paul Newman is how he used his celebrity to make a difference in the world.

The joke that grew like topsy was his Newman's Own brand of food products, which has now raised millions of dollars for charitable causes. When I'm buying spaghetti sauce or salad dressing, unless there's a "can't pass it up" sale on, I always choose Newman's Own -- the stuff tastes good and it makes me feel good knowing that the money I pay is going to charity.

His "Hole in the Wall Camps" gave children with life-threatening illnesses a chance to have an experience that took them away from their health problems and be "normal" with other kids just like them.

From a tribute to Newman, "His vision helped found the first Hole in the Wall Camp in 1988, and has since grown into the world’s largest family of camps for children with serious medical illnesses, operating in Connecticut, New York, Florida, California, North Carolina, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, France, the United Kingdom and regions in Africa and Asia. Paul's kindness and generosity has touched more than 135,000 children and it was Paul’s dream that the camps continue to thrive, providing a place filled of warmth, compassion, laughter and most of all acceptance. Paul’s liveliness, energy and dedication will be missed by all who knew him, worked with him and who were touched by his kindness."

In these days we see so many celebrities misbehaving, making headlines for all sorts of things. Paul Newman didn't grab the headlines for his charitable work, he just went and did it quietly, yet he changed a part of the world with his work, and the work that he began will live long after him.

Much more valuable, than a shelf full of Oscars.

He was one of the good guys and will be missed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The blog, Frogs in My Formula, had a great entry today on an experience she had when her boss asked to borrow her shoes for the afternoon.

"There are certain things that skeeve me out; sharing shoes is one of them," she says.

Boy, I can sure relate.

My mother has a wonderful shoe wardrobe, of very stylish shoes that she picks up at the Hospice of Marin thrift store where she has volunteered for the past 20 or so years. She loves shoes and she has a pair to match every outfit. She rarely pays more than a few dollars for a pair of shoes. Some of them seem to have never been worn.

The whole idea makes my skin crawl.

I mentioned some years ago, when I was still working for Dr. G and learned I was supposed to be giving bone density exams that would involve my touching people's feet every day, that I had a "thing" about feet." I don't like touching other people's feet and the idea of wearing someone else's shoes is really gross to me. It extends even to socks. Even though I put them through the wash, knowing they once were worn by someone else makes me reluctant to wear them.

My mother wonders why I hate shoes. She said that from the very first time she ever took me in to get my first pair of shoes, I cried every time she tried to get shoes for me.

It's very strange. It makes me believe in reincarnation...why we have such odd inborn fears that we can't explain. My grandmother was terrified of mice. I mean terrified. We had to hide my sister's hamster when she came to visit because we were afraid that if she saw it she'd have a heart attack because it looked so much like a mouse. I always figured it came from some very negative experience she had in a former life. What kind of former life might I have had which would have made the toddler me terrified of getting new shoes? Maybe I was a Chinese woman whose feet were bound...?

But anyway, it's one of the things that make me go "ewwwww." It helps that my weight and age and the fact that I go barefoot so much of the time have made my feet so big that nobody would want to borrow my shoes because they're too big.

There are other things that make me go "ewww." Much as I wanted to be the perfect mother, who smiled as she cleaned up her children when they were sick to their stomach, I never could do it without retching. Walt did most of the cleaning up after the kids, while I felt guilty.

Bugs make me go "ewww." Usually once or twice a year, we go through "cockroach season," where we may find one or two in the house after dark. We're usually able to get rid of them in a few days, but I no longer get up in the middle of the night and stumble around in the dark. Must have the lights on and if there is a cockroach in the bathroom, I debate if I really have to use the facilities or if I can wait a few hours.

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In fact last night I dreamed that the house was overrun with bugs and that there was an enormous clusters of cockroaches in the wall and ceiling of our front hall with a huge, 3-4 foot long bug upside down on the ceiling. Believe me, that was a major "ewww"!!!

Foods that smell funny make me go "ewww," and don't ask me to eat anything that has a slimy consistency.

Or liver. Please, no liver. Ewww.

For Walt and Marta, it would be onions (which I love). The texture of onions is a major turn-off for both of them (which makes cooking a big family meal so challenging).

There are lots of things that feel icky to us, some make sense, some don't. What I find icky, you might not find icky. This video might put at least one of them in perspective.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's in a Name?

One thing about having foster dogs is that it gives me the opportunity to think of names for them. When you only have YOUR dog, you give it a name and that's it, until you get another dog. But with litters of pups and a parade of older dogs through here, most of whom come without names, the opportunity to choose names never ends. I didn't name Chico, or Joy, or Freddie, so I'm due for a nameless dog pretty soon. I choose the names based on all sorts of things -- what's going on in the world, what television program I'm watching, a play I've seen, or categories -- Gilbert & Sullivan names, names from a novel, or just names that pop into my head.

We recently received an update on Bissell, whom we had in January of this year. The new family is thrilled with him, and I guess they are continuing to call him Bissell. That was a throw-away name, because the day before I went to pick him up, I had been cleaning the floor with my new Bissell steam cleaner!

When it came to naming kids, we put in a little bit more thought (but sometimes not much!).

Walt had vetoed my choice of a girl's name, Laurie Pauline, before we were ever married, but we agreed that Jeri was going to be a Jerry/Jeri whether she was a boy or a girl. The two people who conspired to get Walt and me together were an Irish guy named Jerry O'Keefe (who was killed in a bar brawl in Chicago before Jeri was born), and Jeri's godmother, for whom she is named. So we decided very early in my pregnancy that this baby would be named either Jerry or Jeri. Her middle name is Anne and Walt wanted to name her Anne because it is my middle name. I wanted to name her Anne because it was the name of my favorite teacher, so she is named either after me or after Sister Anne, depending on whom you ask.

Naming Ned was easy too. We had a very good friend, Ed Andrews, whom we knew from UC Berkeley. He had left Berkeley to enter the monastery and we wanted to name a child after him. Walt's name is Walter Edward and his father's name was Walter Eldred, so until he got into school, he was known as "Ned," to avoid confusion with his father, and that was the name that his family still often called him, until OUR Ned was born. Ned became Edward Andrew, but we knew that we didn't want an "Eddie" or an "Edward," so from the beginning he was "Ned," sorta kinda after his father.

Paul's first name came back from that "Laurie Pauline" name that I loved. I just liked the name Paul and Walt didn't have any objection to it (it was also my uncle's name). His middle name was Joseph, for Father Joseph Quinn, who had been the pastor of the Newman Center for most of our years there, and whom all of us held responsible for the 22 children that were born to the Pinata Group. I'm not sure Quinn ever felt honored about having a kid named after him.

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Father Quinn, wishing he were anywhere else
#1 - Jeri, #2 - Ned, #3 - Paul

By the time I was pregnant with Tom, we still had lots of girls names we agreed on, but we were running out of boy's names. Names that I liked, Walt didn't; names that he liked, I didn't. We were discussing names one day when four year old Jeri came in from playing. "Jeri, if this baby is a boy, what should we name him?" I asked her. Unhesitatingly, she said "Tommy." Walt and I looked at each other. Tommy? We both liked it, and so he became "Thomas." (I recently told the story of Tommy K, who was the reason our Thomas ended up being called "Tom" or "Thomas" instead of Tommy).

Tom's middle name is Kirk, which is a family name. My mother's mother's maiden name was Kirkpatrick, so the "Kirk" is a throwback to some sort of family tie. In retrospect, I'm kind of sorry that we didn't give him the whole name, Kirkpatrick, or the other family name that filters through my family, Scott.

I really don't remember why we named David "David." It might have been for Walt's boss and friend, Dave Johnson. Or it might have just been that we liked the name. But Dave also had a family name as a middle name, Norman, which is Walt's brother's name.

When we were planning Dave's baptism we threatened Walt's brother, who was not exactly the most responsible person in the world in those days (fortunately he has improved a lot in the intervening 30 years!). We said that if he didn't show up for the baptism, we would have David named "David Mud."

Well, he didn't make it so we talked the priest into giving us a blank baptismal certificate and filled out the name as "David Mud." We actually had Norm going for awhile when we showed it to him. But eventually we admitted that we had actually given the baby the middle name "Norman."

It's funny about names. My name is Beverly but I was almost named Barbara, after my aunt Barb (the one who died of Alzheimers last year). At the last minute, my parents decided that having two Barbaras in the family would be confusing, so they gave me her middle name, Beverly. Ironically, throughout my life anybody who can't remember my name calls me Barbara and, in truth, I've always felt more a "Barbara" than a "Beverly."

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Ned and Jeri both had the same reaction.

I had sent him an e-mail, and when she called this evening, I told her about the e-mail I'd sent to him.

The e-mail read:

"We're hosting the neighborhood block party on October 5. I thought I'd put together a 2 hr playlist for my iPod and set it up. If you were putting together a playlist for a gathering like that, what general sort of music would you choose?"

Ned's response was "Wait... YOU are hosting a BLOCK PARTY?" Jeri said that was the first thing she thought too.

Yes, we are hosting the block party.

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This is the third annual "get to know your neighborhood" party, conducted city-wide. Someone offers to host, the City provides the invitations and (I think--I haven't seen these yet) things like balloons and other party favors to liven up the place. The former hosts (who asked for volunteers to take over this year) set up a table in their carport and provided fresh lemonade and hors d'oeuvres and just waited for folks to show up.

Parties will be going on all over the city and the police and/or firemen or perhaps a member of the city council show up each of them at some point just to introduce themselves and say hi.

I've had the invitations for several weeks, but didn't want to pass them out too soon. I decided to deliver them after the Emmys the other night, but my flashlight gave out after 3 houses (and by that point I decided that I might get arrested as a possible burglar if people saw/heard me stumbling around the the dark). So I got out this morning before the sun got too high and went to all the houses up and down our long block, putting invitations in every mailbox.

Well, almost every mailbox. One house had a motorboat backed into the driveway, with the motor touching the wall and the boat trailer attached to the truck. The pathway to the house was overgrown and would have required a machete to get in, so I just stuck the invitation on their windshield.

I've talked before about how I've felt like the pariah of the neighborhood for the past 30 years so it's going to be interesting to see who shows up.

It was also interesting to actually go up to the door of all these houses that I've never visited. I'm wondering if the people with the McCain/Palin sticker on their mailbox and the people with "Ave Maria" hanging by their front door will dare to come to the home of someone with a "No on 8" sign on the lawn.

One house had no less than six bikes in their carport and another must have had twenty pairs of shoes in all sizes lined up carefully along the walkway. Another had three couches in the carport, hiding behind their truck.

I found one guy getting into his car. I told him that Walt had worked with his wife's parents. Then, in a senior moment, I totally blanked on their name, these people I've known all of my years in Davis! "Damn--what's their name?" I asked, me who had just said I'd known them forever. He seemed reluctant to tell me, but then I guess he decided it was OK to remind me that their last name was "Smith." That worked and I mentioned their first names, so I guess he realized I was legit.

I also told one woman that the date of the gathering was the 7th, a Tuesday. I hope she actually reads the invitation and realizes it's Sunday instead.

There was an article in the newspaper tonight about the upcoming event all over town and when I read that some people have BBQs and some have ice cream socials, I'm a little sorry I decided to go with what has been done the past two years. If this thing works out and I end up doing it next year, I think I'll go with the ice cream social idea. (I suspect that might also get more people to show up!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Technical Liaison

When your title is "technical liaison," it does not give a good impression when it takes you thirty friggin' minutes to log onto the Internet!

I have volunteered to be part of a DCN (Davis Community Network) team helping non-profit organizations get web sites up and running, using the tools developed by DCN. The idea is to create a web site which will outlast the one your brother-in-law created five years ago, before he moved to Toledo, and which will be simple to maintain by a trained team working in your office...or whatever is the facility of record for a non-profit.

Of course the team of DCN people working on this project has been developing it for years and I am a Johnny-come-lately. A 65 year old Johnny-come-lately who has sadly begun to realize that she doesn't learn things as quickly as she used to. I've been designing web pages, for myself and for other people, for ten years, but this is a new system and it takes awhile to figure it all out.

Figuring out the terminology, for one thing. I've been struggling to understand what an MOU is (finally got that one down - Memorandum of Understanding - but I have to stop and work it out each time) as well as the other host of abbreviations that are part of the common language of this group.

There are four non-profit groups who are part of the pilot program and I volunteered (because I felt that as a new member of this board, I should Get Involved in something) to work with Tree Davis, which seemed the least complicated on the list.

Unfortunately because of time conflicts (there was that little "wedding" thing, you may recall) and misunderstandings of schedules, I have missed all the one-on-one meetings up to yesterday. So the groundwork has already been laid, the groundwork that I was counting on to help me bluff my way through this "technical liaison" business, and yesterday was the meeting to collect the MOU and the outline that the Tree Davis people had put together and to start actually working on the site itself.

I met Kari, who oversees all the projects, at Peets Coffee downtown at 3 p.m. The guys from Tree Davis were coming at 4 to meet with us. She was going to bring me up to speed.

Unfortunately, there were no empty tables for 4 inside the cafe, so we set outselves up at a lovely table on the sidewalk. I went in and got a drink and the code that would let me into the Peets wi fi connection.

As we sat there, we realized that there was a horrible odor coming from...somewhere. Dog poop. Or vomit. Or rotting food in the garbage can intensified by the sun shining on it. Whatever it was, when the gentle breeze blew it our way, it was decidedly unpleasant.

So were the big black flies that flew around us.

But we gamely mushed forward and eventually the two Tree Davis guys came. After introductions, Kari suggested I fire up the laptop and we could check out what one of them had done on the site already.

That's when all of my "technicial liaison" credentials went down the tube.

First, it takes forEVer for my laptop to start. Probably five minutes. And then it looks for available internet connections. Now I should add that I almost never connect to wi fi. I can connect in my home to a network that a neighbor has (yes, I know that's a no-no, but I almost never do it. I think I've done it three times in the past two years). I connect at my sister-in-law's house, and I've connected once or twice in a motel. Otherwise, that has not been an issue. And when I am in a place where I've been before, it just automatically connects me to that network because I've used it before.

SO, I can't remember where I look or what I click to get me the box that shows what the available networks are. That was my initial problem. How to find the box that showed me where the Peets connection was, long before I ever entered the right code so that I could use it!

I was also hampered by the fact that I did not have a mouse with me and I hate...hate...HATE the fingerpad. I can never control the cursor with it. Well, I CAN, but not without a lot of cursing and frustration.

FINALLY I found the box and I didn't see anything that said Peets, so picked the top network and it brought up a log-on screen. I tried logging on using the password they had given me, but of course that didn't work. After much frustration, I went back inside to get help from the clerk, who told me I had to use the Peets network and that people outside never had trouble before.

Well, I did finally find it, but I had to log out of what I was trying to log in on...then FIND the damn box again, then find Peets and finally I was logged in. That was only the first step, and it had already taken a good 15 minutes.

Next, I had to log into the Tree Davis page and of course all my information was in e-mail on my desktop because I hadn't thought to move it to an actual bookmark so I could pick it up on the laptop. But with the help of the Tree Davis guys, I did get on and we commented on the work that had been done.

Then I decided to log into the site and see about editing, but when I did that, something happened and I was suddenly logged out of the network. And I couldn't find the damn box again. And when I did, it said I was logged into the network, but when I tried connecting to a web page, it told me I wasn't.

By now I had spent half an hour just trying to log onto the friggin' internet! Kari kept up the meeting with the guys while I sweated with my laptop and everytime she mentioned me as their "technical liaison," I could just imagine what these two guys were thinking.

We finally decided it was too late to do anything and that we were all getting sick of the smell and the flies, so we set a meeting for next week in a different location. I will bring a MOUSE next time, will make sure that everything is BOOKMARKED and, if possible, learn how to find the damn list of available internet networks before I head off to the meeting.

My one saving grace was that they are trying to recreate their current masthead, which is made up of two different graphics, and they didn't know how to do that. I asked them to e-mail me the graphics and I sent them their masthead within 5 minutes of receiving the e-mail, so I hope that I salvaged a BIT of confidence in me as their technical liaison. I may be slow in the workings of the DCN simple sites--but I'm damn good at PhotoShop!

But we'll see how it all goes next week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Losing Chico

I woke up at 3 a.m., dreaming that I had found Chico -- in the freezer. It was a place I hadn't thought of looking. He was whiter than usual, and obviously very cold, but he was alive and I warmed him up and gave him dinner.

I couldn't get back to sleep after that, wondering again how he'd gotten out and where he could be--and did he find someplace comfortable to spend the night.

It was the weirdest thing ever. We've been doing this -- taking in foster dogs -- for three years now and have had dozens of dogs and puppies in here, many of whom were much more likely to escape from the yard than Chico. Chico literally spends 95% of his time sleeping in the recliner. He goes outside to pee, but has never shown any interest in trying to get out.

So how did he get out?

We can't find any likely spots that would appeal to a dog who wasn't really frantic to get out.

But the evidence was clear -- he had gotten out.

Walt went off on his bike and rode around for about an hour. Ashley came over and walked the neighborhood. I made a poster

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Walt kept checking outside every so often until he went to bed. I began to wonder if he was really out, or had he somehow died and was hiding under something in the back yard. Even the dogs knew something was wrong and were very attentive to me. Lizzie even came in to sleep with me in the family room when I got into the recliner, which she doesn't usually do. Every time the dogs barked at the front window, I raced outside to see if it was Chico.

But there was nothing. All we could hope was that someone would see the posters and bring him back--or that he would be picked up by Animal Control and end up at the Shelter (where one of the SPCA volunteers works).

Around 8 a.m. this morning the dogs started their barking at the window again and Walt started yelling "Bev! Bev!" from upstairs. We both raced outside and there was this lovely young woman with Chico on a leash. Chico was back.

She had apparently first met him down by the high school (2 blocks away) yesterday afternoon. He had followed her home and spent the night with her and this morning she had him on a leash and was walking around the neighborhood hoping he'd act like he recognized one of the houses. She hadn't seen the "Lost dog" poster yet.

We took her information so we can send her a reward for finding him.

As for Chico, I was amazed at how happy he seemed to be back. He's not a jumper, but he leaped and leaped, just like Lizzie, to get to me. He raced into the house, into the recliner and rolled over and over as if to say "Oh...it's still here! I'm HOME!" He scarfed down breakfast as if he hadn't eaten since yesterday (though I'm sure he got something for dinner last night.)

Now we just have to watch him. It's possible that he got out while Walt was going in and out of the back fence, though he doesn't remember seeing him. But that is the only thing that makes sense to me. However, he could have found a way out of the fence that no other dog has found yet and if there is such a hole, we need to fix it to keep Chico in and to keep in any other foster dog who comes here.

But the most important thing is that he's finally home and maybe I can sleep tonight.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Meat Pies

Peggy and I stopped by a bakery a day or two before the big Australian Football League finals when I was in Australia. Sports is a Very Big Deal in Australia and you have to be prepared. Meat pies are The Thing To Eat when you're watching a footy tournament.

Her cable went out that afternoon, so we packed up our meat pies and went to her friends' house. They were going to some other footy party, but let us use the house, the kitchen, (and the cable). We sat there watching the footy tournament, and eating our meat pies.

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It was Brisbane against Collingwood. Brisbane was Peggy's team, Collingwood is Sue's team...

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(Sue was thrilled when we found this street
when I was giving them a tour of San Francisco!)

Brisbane clobbered Collingwood, 134-84, which tickled Peggy and snide e-mails were sent to Sue in Melbourne to acknowledge that fact.

Well, it's no secret that sports are not real big in my life. I enjoy a game, when I'm with a group of people, but when I'm alone, it would not be my first choice of what to watch on television.

However, my sporting events come around a couple of times a year -- the Oscars and the Emmys. Tonight was the broadcast of the 60th annual Emmys and I decided that the event called for meat pies. I was right in the middle of making meat pies when Walt discovered that Chico, the new dog, had disappeared. We can't find him anywhere. Ashley walked the neighborhood, Walt biked the neighborhood, I made signs. There is still no sign of him.

But in the meantime, I'm bloggin' the Emmys. My comments, written as I watch the Emmys, follow:

The opening bit with the reality show hosts...dumb...dumb...dumb. The bit with Heidi's suit was predictable from the moment she walked out on stage. Not predictable: Bill Shatner joining the group. But basically the whole opening was just stupid.

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Supporting Actor in a Comedy - I should start watching Entourage. Jeremy Piven wins every year and I've never seen the show. My preference would have been Neil Patrick Harris. (Interestingly, I didn't care WHO won for Supporting Actress. 2-1/2 Men is the only one of those shows I watch.)

Heidi Klum's dress introducing the Desperate Housewives women...I don't get it. Must be "high fashion." Does nothing for me...but Terri Hatcher looks gorgeous.

Who the heck is Zelco Ivanek? Is Damages going to ease Mad Men out of all the awards it's expected to win?.

LOVED the montage of acceptance speeches...Ricky Gervais and Steve Corell were very funny.

It's very weird that the Emmys for directing usually go to the Oscars telecast...and often to the same director who has directed both.

I knew Diane Wiest would win the Emmy for supporting actress in a drama series because her show was the only one I'd never heard of. Damn...all those great women whose performances I enjoy and none of them won.

Howie Mandel is the Joe Biden of comedy. He doesn't know when to shut up.

Tommy Smothers hasn't lost his edge. Good ol' Tommy. Bless the Academy for letting him speak without trying to stop him.

I don't like Heidi's second dress any better than her first one.

Whose idea was it for Josh Groban to sing all these theme songs? Sounds weird--and who knew that the Andy Griffith theme music had actual words? (I admit I do like his rendition of South Park), OK. The longer this goes on, the more I like it, weird tho it may be. I like the dancers to the M*A*S*H theme...and nice to see Ed McMahon as part of it.

Oh fun...a "sock it to me" prelude to the Laugh-in guys. Gary Owens and Alan Sues haven't aged well and aren't quite as funny as they used to be; the women have worn better and look as good as when Laugh-in was on.

YES! The Daily Show wins. Always my favorite of the nominees. Now I don't mind so much that Colbert won the writing words,. Nice comment by Stewart to the Laugh-in guys.

Heidi's next dress looks like a dressing gown with too many jewels. I thought she was a super model!

Not sure why they don't give the awards for guest stars on the regular program. But I'm thrilled Kathryn Joosten won. I've liked her ever since she was Pres. Bartlett's secretary on West Wing. Speaking of which, so nice to see my favorite president back in the Oval Office again, however briefly. I was surprised that when the Academy president said that Bartlett had his vote, there was zero audience reaction. I'd have clapped. Maybe non-actors aren't supposed to have good ad libs.

Finally! A made-for-TV movie that I've actually seen wins the award. Recount was a fascinating movie. Hope lots of folks saw it.

Colbert is brilliant. Loved his bit on prunes.`See? Stan Freberg knew years ago that prunes could be topical.

Wow--what a moment from M*A*S*H, when the shooting stops and the war ends. I'd forgotten...Sandra Oh is very cute. And a nice tribute for Don Rickles. And Rickles is great, giving the proper degree of "seriousness" to the show.

The Amazing Race wins again. Sixth win and well deserved--I love that show. Can't wait till it comes back on again.

It's nice to see Sally Field with her bones looking so strong.

Well, FINALLY they give Heidi a nice looking blue dress,,,just before Tom Bergeron dropped her on the floor. Not funny. Again, predictable. Kristin Chenowith looks gorgeous. As always.

Rickles seems actually moved to win an award...and not his usual ascerbic self. Kind of nice.

And Walt gives me a hard time for watching so much House--now it's an Emmy winner. Harumph. So there!

OK--here we go. First award for Mad Men. Is this the first of many? Or is it too late in the evening for "many"?

Now I wish I'd watched John Adams. I wish ComCast had it OnDemand.

Nice to see Alec Baldwin win. I guess all is forgiven. Of course Monk is always my pick, but this is a nice one.

I'm also sorry I never followed Damages. Wouldn't you know that as soon as I stopped following it, it turned into a terrific show. Glen Close looks glamorous; Candace Bergen is starting to show her age.

The "Memories" montage is touching as always...nice touch to start and end with Carlin. Nice parentheses. Always a little pang to see the "favorites" like Harvey Korman and Tim Russert.

OK. I've changed my mind about adding more awards to this show. My legs are falling asleep from holding the laptop on them.

Well, what a surprise. Everybody expected John Hamm to take the Emmy for Mad Men. I don't even know who Cranston is. I've never heard of Breaking Bad.

Damn...do i have to hope Sarah Palin makes it into the White House (or Blair House) so Tina Fey has a great role to play for the next four years?

I don't get how Deal or No Deal is a "reality show," but I'm not going to start watching it to find out. I thought it was a game show. Good choice for Reality Show Host winner, though. For me it was between Jeff Probst and Tom Bergeron (Bergeron is the only star we've ever sat in front of at an event, so he has a special place in my heart).

MTM doesn't look so bad for an old broad. Not nearly as emaciated as she usually looks. Nope...I take that back. When she spreads her arms she looks like our chihuahua's skinny, bony legs. But Betty White is just...terrific.

Well...there is is, finally. Mad Men wins best drama. Now I know I didn't waste those two days I watched the entire first season on ComCast. Even if it did give me lung cancer from watching so much cigarette smoke on the television screen.

OK--that's the end of the Emmys and the dog is still lost. I hope he has a warm place to sleep tonight. I will miss him. Lizzie and Sheila seem to know something is up. The two of them haven't left me and are sleeping at my side in my office. They haven't done that in months.

But the meat pies were delicious!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Putah Creek Crawdads

(Hi, Wayne)

We went to see the Crawdads perform at Ludy's Main Street BBQ in Woodland, California last night.

There is no Joy in Sykesville

Literally. Our last foster baby, Joy, was adopted today. She'd been here about a week, I guess. Her foster family was going out of town and we agreed to take care of her for a couple of weeks.

She came here with the warning that she was a finicky eater. Well, I don't know what there was about this house, but feeding her was never a problem. In fact, by day #2, she was taking control of her dish and Lizzie's and running back and forth between the two, leaving Lizzie looking lost, until Joy had her fill. I don't remember how much she weighed when she got here, but it sure looked like she put some meat on her bones in the short time she was here.

She also never missed an opportunity to sit for a treat with Lizzie and Sheila before I went out somewhere.

And from the very beginning, her favorite place to be was in my lap.

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Unlike Freddie, who was happy to curl up at my feet while I worked at the computer, Joy would settle for nothing but being IN my lap at all times. We had lots of discussions about this. But eventually, if she got obnoxious enough, I'd give up and go sit down so she could curl up in my lap.

I worried about her a couple of days ago. She woke up with that chihuahua shiver. She just wouldn't stop shivering. She didn't want to eat. I finally dug out a sweater than Ashley had sent home on Chunk months ago and put it on her.

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I was thrilled when it seemed to really help. She wore the sweater most of the day and when I finally took it off of her in the afternoon, she shivering had stopped and she was hungry for dinner.

She slept on me every night. Found the spot curled up on my feet where all the other little dogs who sleep with me sleep. And when in the middle of the night, when I wake up and move to the recliner, she follows along and curls up at my side and sleeps until I wake up.

Yesterday, I went and picked up another chihuahua, Chico, who was returning from UCD after having been neutered, and was going to be staying with us for just overnight. Joy was initially not happy to have this interloper in her place, but once Chico had been here overnight, she seemed to accept him and the two played together nicely.

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I tried to get pictures of the two together, but Joy is like quicksilver and so fast it's very difficult to get her still long enough to take a picture!

But today at Petco, Joy found herself a home. Ashley asked me if I wanted to take another dog home. I asked her who had spoken for Chico, and nobody had, so Chico came back home with us. I feel good about that because he's been so friendly and outgoing around here and when I dropped him off at Petco today, he looked terrified and didn't want anybody to touch him, so I'm glad that he's back here where he apparently feels at home....

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...at least until he, too, finds his forever home.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fiddles, Mandolins and Banjos...Oh MY!

I spent a delightful evening with a group of young musicians last night.

Remember the psychiatrist? Well, he has played for the last 30-40 years or so with a group called the Putah Creek Crawdads, who do folk music and play at a lot of fund raisers, special events, and occasionally at a venue like the local restaurant (we will be seeing them there tomorrow night).

The psychiatrist tells me that the youngest in the group is in his mid 60s and the oldest is 85. The basic four all met while attending the local Unitarian Church and after playing together for awhile they began to be asked to perform for fund raisers...and the rest is history. The psychiatrist plays the banjo, there is a prune and pear farmer who plays the bass, an attorney who plays guitar and is the lead singer, and the former editor of the university's agricultural newspaper who is now retired and who serves as the group's librarian.

In addition to the basic four there is a retired teacher who plays mandolin and who acts as the group's PR guy and then a young woman (who looks young enough to be granddaughter to all of the other guys), who plays the fiddle and who helps to arrange the music.

I have long wanted to do a feature article on the group. They are real favorites around here. I went armed with my tape recorder, my Flip video and my regular camera, which allowed me to catch Rory, the dog, joining in with everybody while they rehearsed, and some snippets of the rehearsal (one today, another one tomorrow).

Without the tape recorder going for 2+ hours, I never would have had the joke: What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup? (anybody can roast beef.)

After they had rehearsed for awhile, they took a break, all got a beer, and sat around me talking about the history of the group. Tomorrow night we'll go off to see them perform.

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(Note the psychiatrist's dog sits in the middle of all
the musicians while they rehearse)

And then this evening we went off to Little Prague restaurant here in Davis to see the group Riggity Jig performing Celtic music.

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What fun. We had a lovely dinner and heard great music. They could have used amplification for the vocalist (but I could follow along with Whiskey in the Jar, which was the one song they played that I knew!), but it was kind of like being back in a pub in Ireland again. The guy on the right is our friend, Lee Riggs and the guy on the left with the fiddle is his brother, David. I don't know David, nor the two guys in the middle.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Too good not to share

A friend sent this to me. It's too good not to receive wider distribution:

By Goldie Taylor

I have been a mother all of my adult life. A single working mother. I put off dating, took menial jobs far beneath my qualifications and baked my share of ginger bread cookies for PTA Night, all so that three incredible children could have better. I chose their lives over mine. I don't have to tell you that it wasn't easy. Unfortunately, my story, our story, is not unique.

We slept in cars, bought groceries with food stamps and prayed for a better day. When that wasn't enough, I put myself through school at Emory University and took a part-time job as a staff writer at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. That was over a decade ago. Along the way, things got better. I've been an executive at two Fortune 500 companies and a practice director at two multinational public relations firms. Today, I own an advertising agency and I've authored two novels. A third and fourth are on the way, God willing. All of this was possible because somebody laid a brick or two on the road for me.

A few weeks ago, I woke in tears. It was my 40th birthday and certainly not a time for sadness. Rather, I cried in joy because for the first time I realized and could embrace the value of the struggle. The bright little girl, who once cried in my arms because we didn't know where we were going to live, was headed off to Brown University. The small boy who had been the 'man of the house' far too soon was now truly a man. And the tiny, angelic baby who had come to this world precious and innocent just 15 months after him was now a 16 year old girl headed out to her first job interview.

For all of this, maybe I should be proud of a woman like Sarah Palin. Maybe, just maybe, I should be rejoicing in John McCain 's selected running mate. But I'm not. I'm not a 'bed wetting liberal' nor am I a 'right-wing zealot.' What I am is a working mother. And I cry foul. I won't, for a moment, denigrate her experience or lob spit balls at her family. I will, though, take issue with what she knows. Or more succinctly, what she does not know. Living in Alaska, I'm not sure how much she knows about the people living in inner city Baltimore. I don't know how much she cares about the 125 murders this summer in Chicago. I have no idea what she believes about HIV/ AIDS and the havoc it wrecks on Black women or the cancer rates in East St. Louis. She hasn't said nary a word about Hurricane Katrina or the infant mortality rates in Appalachia.

I do know that she's a life-time member of the NRA, a proponent of individuals who wielded the very weapons that killed my father and brother. I do know that she lives really close to Russia, but I'm not so certain she is ready for Putin. I know she wanted to ban books for public libraries and sex education in schools, but that her 17 year old is pregnant and preparing for a shotgun wedding. I know that she loves her husband enough to allow him (and probably did herself) use her office to settle a personal score--one that the McCain campaign would now like to cover in under a blanket of Juneau snow. I know that the Alaska Independent Party, and its secessionist platform, was enticing enough for her to attend its conference (and for her husband to become a card carrying member). Does she love her country? I'm sure. Enough to support those who want to leave it.

But I have no earthly idea what she knows (or could possibly know) about national domestic policy or foreign diplomacy. For all of her working class values, she never once mentioned the Middle Class in her diatribe that mocked her opponent's experience. Having been the mayor of Wasilla (pop. 6,000 at the time) and governor of Alaska (a state a smaller than the county I live in) for a little over a year, she felt she was qualified to do that. And obviously, so did John McCain.

If she's qualified, then so am I.

But in this country I love, she has been afforded the ability to run. The very constitution she says doesn't apply to the men at Guantanamo says she can. But this is about more than that.

As Gloria Steinem said in a recent Los Angeles Times editorial, 'Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.'

The good news is thanks to Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Angela Davis, Condoleeza Rice, Anita Hill , Madeline Albright, Maxine Waters, Kathleen Sebelius, Hilary Rodham Clinton and a slew of others, there are 18 million proverbial cracks in the ceiling. Our collective political and economic power is due to the strides (and leaps) they, and others, took on my behalf.

I am grateful. I am deeply humbled to stand on the bricks they'd laid before me. But, whatever our struggle was (and is) that last thing I want is to be patronized. Just as I cannot support just any African American who decides to offer themselves up for public service, I will not toss my vote to someone just because we share the same chromosome mix. To do so would dishonor the vow I made to my children, to myself. I did not vote for Al Sharpton, wasn't old enough (nor would I have) voted for Jesse Jackson and I certainly will not support Sarah Palin. Identity politics, especially in this case, are a sham of the worst order.

When I cast my vote, it will be for people who will lay more bricks for people like me. It will be for people who will put diplomacy before war, challenge us all to provide healthcare for the sick, help another child go to college, and check the special interests in Washington. This fall, I'm not looking for a woman.

I'm looking for a brick layer. I could care less if that person hasn't spent 'enough' time in Washington or can 'properly field dress a moose'. I could care less if that person likes hockey, soccer, football or table tennis. I could care less if they graduated from Harvard or the University of Iowa. I'm a Christian, but I could care less if they are down with Deuteronomy, Leviticus or Numbers. I want them to uphold the Constitution.

So no, I will not sit idly by as they attempt to suspend habeas corpus at Guantanamo Bay, engage wiretaps on American citizens without a warrant, and hide behind executive privilege when they are caught firing district attorneys based on how well they tow the Republican line. I won't let them cost us $12 billion a month fighting a war that should have never been authorized and never been waged. Not while working people lose their homes to predatory lenders and watch as we bail out the financial institutions that created the housing crisis.

I will not, in the name of history, vote for a woman like Sarah Palin who does not share my values.

But here's what I will do.

I will continue raising money for Barack Obama . I will get on the phone again and call people in distant states I've never met. I will e-mail, call, and knock on doors until the final vote is cast. I do this, not because he shares my skin, but because I admire his principles and he shares my values. I do this because Barack Obama is more than a community organizer, he is a bricklayer. And he sees -- just as he sees the light in Michelle 's eyes -- my struggle, my worth as a woman.

So There. Nyah, Nyah, Nyah, Nyah

Have you heard McCain's latest bit of ridiculousness? I meant to write someing about it when I first heard it, but it took today's Huffington Post to remind me.

When asked by the ladies of The View about the nastiness of his campaign attacks, McCain exused it by saying:

"This is a tough campaign. I have asked Senator Obama to join me in town hall meetings all across America. I have requested it time after time. And if we had done what I asked Senator Obama to do...I don't think you'd see the tenor of this campaign."

He then went on to reiterate that excuse on MSNBC:

"If you would urge him to come and do town hall meetings with me as I've asked him to do, time after time, the whole tenor of the campaign would change."

The first time I heard this reported, I couldn't believe my ears. Was he really saying that Obama's decision not to do town hall meetings meant that McCain had to get nasty in his campaign rhetoric, had to start publishing lies and half-truths about his opponent?

What rule book is this guy playing by? The 3rd grader's playground handbook? "I make up the rules and if you don't play by them, I'm going to spread lies about you and attack you with half truths whenever I can." How "honorable" is that. How "noble." Is this the action of an "American hero"? Are these the kinds of American values we want to hold up to our kids as a good example of the way to behave in life?

Talk about "blame the victim."

It's not like Obama hasn't agreed to debates. He's agreed to three of them (Huffington Post tells me). That's one more than took place in the last two presidential races. But that isn't enough for McCain. He wants whistlestops across the country and town hall meetings on a regular basis and because Obama hasn't agreed to that, he tries to make people believe that Obama wants to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergarteners.

"Honest--It's not MY fault that I am telling this lie. It's Barack's fault because he won't travel with me and go to dozens of town hall meetings."


The other thing I'm noticing about the McCain campaign is that he's adopted Obama's verbiage. Suddenly during the Republican convention he became the candidate for change. And then after Obama stood up to McCain's attacks and lies and said "ENOUGH!" and was lauded by lots of pundits for finally saying that word, the next day the McCain campaign came out with an "enough is enough" ad. (If one word is good enough for Obama, then three will be three times better for McCain.)

C'mon, John -- find your OWN voice, don't just borrow what's working for Obama and pretend it's your own.

When McCain stood up and said the economy was basically strong and Obama called him on it, in the same day he turned around and said that the economy was in crisis. This guy can't make up his mind what he means. Check this video, if you don't believe me. This guy takes "flip flopping" to new heights.

As for the former Miss Wasilla, there was a rally in Anchorage recently welcoming her back to the state. It drew "hundreds" of people to downtown Anchorage.

BUT, on the other side of town, at the Anchorage public library, was the "Alaskan Women Reject Palin" rally, described by the writer of the linked blog thusly:

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.

Things like this give me hope, but the poll numbers remain so close that I'm not going to breathe easily until it's all over...and if McCain wins, it will be years before I breathe easily again.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Shoe on the Other Foot

There is an unintentionally wonderful article in the Sacramento Bee today, which, though that is not its intent, is a perfect reason why people in California should vote No on Proposition 8 and thwart those who would overturn the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage.

The story tells the poor sad plight of newlyweds Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding, who were upset that their marriage license referred to them as "Party A" and "Party B" instead of "bride and groom."

Though Bird and Codding were married by Bird's father, who is a minister, they refuse to fill out the form as it is printed and thus they are not considred legally married by the state of California.

"Because their marriage is not registered with the state, Bird cannot sign up for Codding's medical benefits or legally take his name," the article says.

Well, golly gee. Isn't that just too bad.

The article continues,

"Rachel Bird described her position as 'personal – not religious.'

'We just feel that our rights have been violated,' she said."

Makes a difference when the shoe is on the other foot, doesn't it? Bird is saying all the exact same things that gay couples have been saying ever since the possibility of marriage for gay couples became a glimmer of hope.

I immediately dashed off a letter to the editor of the Sacramento Bee, quoting Bird's own words back to her and pointing out how her position now is the same as that of gay couples for years.

Ellen wrote her own letter, in which she says,

"Rachel Bird, whose marriage license was not registered because the couple had illegally altered it, is upset that she might become ill and wouldn't have medical coverage because she isn't married in the eyes of the law. We certainly feel her pain as that situation has come up in our life many times. She says they feel married, 'like a bride and groom.' We too have felt married for many years. We also have shared her feelings of overwhelming joy at being newlyweds in the summer of 2008 as we too were married this summer. We had to wait for almost 35 years for the opportunity to marry in the state of California, as we are a same sex couple."

The anti-gay folks are going to be starting a blitz campaign trying to pass Caifornia's Proposition 8 very soon. They have reportedly raised more than $5 million for the television ad campaign and I'm sure it's going to get ugly. And the polls show that it's going to be a very close vote, perhaps ultimately setting up two classes of gay people in California: those who are legally married and those who are forever denied the opportunity to marry the person of their choice, because discrimination based on sexual orientation will be written into the state constitution.

The anti-gays are going to be spouting things about the sanctity of marriage and how legalizing gay marriage is going to bring the end of civilization as we have known it.

The clincher, of course, comes at the very end of the Sacramento Bee article, talking about Bird and Codding, where it says,

"For now, they are busy with their family (she has two children from a previous marriage and he has three) and starting their new life."

Guess these are a couple of these "sanctity of marriage" folks all the people are trying to protect. The kind that get married more than once, while trying to prevent gay couples from making that legal commitment even once. It's not nice to hog all the marriage licenses. Time to share some with your gay brethren.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Everybody has a job

Sheila has an important job. It's her job to keep the guys in that big noisy truck from stealing our stuff that Walt keeps putting out on the sidewalk each Tuesday. She's very good at it. She stands at the window and barks and barks while the guys fiddle with our cans...OUR cans. The very nerve! But eventually they get scared and they drive away. Fortunately, they leave the cans behind and Sheila has done her job.

Every afternoon, she scares that guy with the big leather bag away. She can hear him fiddling with our mailbox and she knows this is a Bad Thing. So she stands on the table and barks and barks and he eventually goes away. Our mail box is secure, thanks to Sheila.

Lizzie has an important job too. It's her job to keep all dogs and people walking by the house from coming to bother us. Sometimes she barks. Sometimes she just leaps at them. One day she knows that glass won't be there and she'll be able to get to them. They look at her and scurry on by without approaching the house. Sometimes if it's a particularly scary dog, she will leap at the window, over and over again. "Go away! Go away!" she barks.

And they do. Lizzie is a good watch dog.

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Both dogs work together and they keep all those big noisy machines in the yards around us from coming into our yard. They are very effective. There hasn't been a single lawn mower or leaf blower that has come through our back fence and into our yard (obviously).

Even the birds have their job.

If you leave the bedroom window open at night, there is no need to set an alarm clock because the trees around the house are filled with black crows. Around 5:30 or 6, they start waking up and the cacaphony starts. Such a racket! They are calling to each other, the mother birds are finding worms for the baby birds and calling papa birds to breakfast (at least this is how I imagine it).

Soon, you see rush hour start. In big groups, the birds begin flying out from the trees and out in the fields. They are going to work. The rest of the day the trees are empty of birds (and it's safe to park your car under one!)

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If you drive out into the country througout the day, you see all the fields littered with black birds, all pecking energetically at the dirt.

At around 5 p.m., if you're out in the country, you see this swarm of birds suddenly lift off from the field and start flying toward town. If you're in town, you see the birds flying overhead and settling back in the trees, on lightposts, telephone wires, possibly the equivalent of a bird bar, where they go for after-work decompressing before heading home to the trees.

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Once again, the racket can be deafening, as they call out to each other, settle in with their martinis and their copy of the evening paper, get the kids ready for sleep and eventually settle down for the night, until it's time to go to work once more.

Crows do not understand "weekends" or "holidays."

Or retirement.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grand Tour, On the Road Again

I'm sure I say this every time, and I'll probably continue to say it every time...but I love giving the grand tour of San Francisco.

Todays victims guests were Sue and Irene (left and right, respectively, in the photo), from Melbourne. Sue and Peggy have been friends for 40 years and when Peggy learned the two women were coming to San Francisco ... well ... she had to volunteer my services. I'm so glad she did!

They were on a tour of the southwest and had already been to the Grand Canyon and some Arizona locations, spent a horrendous 111-degree couple of days in Palm Springs, when their bus broke down (another was not readily available because they had all been sent off in preparation for evacuations for Hurricane Ike).

Two days ago they were apparently in Sacramento, but didn't realize how close to me they were and then they landed at the Cathedral Hill Hotel (which I will forever call the "Jack Tar," because that's what they called it when it was first built, two blocks from my high school).

I left Davis at 7:30, stopped to get money, and then headed toward the city. I was pleased to see the weather was lovely. Well, it was lovely until I saw the thick fog bank resting on the Vaca Mountains. That is usually a very pretty sight for me because it means that it will be cool in SF. But when you are heading in to show people sights, it's not what you want to see.

Traffic was pretty light, but bunched up at the toll plaza and I decided to take a picture while I was stopped. That's when I realized that though I had very efficiently remembered to charge my battery, I had forgotten to put in a card so had nothing onto which to record photos. Damn.

I managed to find a shop near the hotel, so ran in and bought a card and was in business again. I picked the victims guests up.

We did the usual stuff: under the Golden Gate Bridge, out through ritzy Sea Cliff and past Robin Williams' house, through the Lincoln Park golf course with its view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the other side, then past the Palace of the Museum of Honor, with the statue of the Thinker in the courtyard.

Next out to the ocean beach, through Golden Gate park and the buffalo/bison pen, past the new De Young Museum, the music concourse, which is under construction, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the newly remodeled Science Museum (scheduled to open September 27).

Then out through the Haight Ashbury district and finally up to Twin Peaks, where the sun had finally burned off the fog and you could get a good overview of the city. I pointed out some landmarks we had already passed.

We drove down into the Castro district and stopped for lunch at the Firewod Cafe, which a friend had recommended. Sue had side salad, Irene and I each had regular salads and were amazed at the vat of food we were served!

When we returned to the car, we discovered we were trapped. I had politely pulled up close to the car in front of me because there was a passenger drop-off behind me. Well, someone had pulled up behind me and had left me literally ONE INCH between his bumper and mine. There was no way the car could be maneuvered out of the spot.

I went into the Cesar Chavez School and asked if anybody knew who owned the car. Nobody did, but the woman in the car in front of me came out and moved her car forward enough so that I could finally get out. I was afraid we were going to have to spend the rest of the afternoon waiting for the idiot to come back to move his car!

From there we went over to the Marina, past all the civic center buildings -- the opera house, the symphony hall, the city hall, and we ended up at the Palace of Fine Arts, which they found suitably impressive.

Then back along the Marina, up over Lombard St. and down the crooked hill, up Leavenworth St. past the place where I was born and around to go down Filbert St., the steepest in the city.

Next it was through North Beach, past St. Peter & Paul church, where Joe DiMaggio staged a photo with Marilyn Monroe after their wedding at city hall, so he could send it to Mama in Italy and let her think they had a church wedding.

We drove up to Coit Tower to see the view there, down along the waterfront to see the Giants stadium, and then back up to Market St. to show them where they could come to shop tomorrow.

They asked if I had time for coffee before I took them to their hotel and Irene mentioned that Sue would like to check out the Fog City Diner, which we had passed along the waterfront, so we drove over there--by many various routes until I got the right one (shades of Travels with Peggy)--and we finally found the place.

We each had lusciously sinful desserts and felt virtuous because we'd all had salads for lunch.

I finally dropped them off at their hotel and headed on home, over the Golden Gate Bridge (so I wouldn't have to pay a bridge toll on the way home). I was fully prepared for heavy commute traffic but, amazingly, I didn't find heavy traffic anywhere all the way home. Delightful!

It was just a wonderful day and I'm so glad Peggy thought to get us all together. I've made new friends from the other side of Australia.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Things You Love

OK---after all the chatter I generated yesterday, I know it's a real downer to do a meme, but whaddya gonna do? I can't be irate every day and need to take a break from politics. I kept the TV off almost the entire day today and it was very nice not to be throwing things at commentators for a change. So here is something just very pedantic...

Courtesy of Mary (Bozoette)

Song you love: Only one? Surely you jest. The very first song (of many) that comes to mind is John Denver's "Grandma's Feather Bed," a fast, fun song that rivals Gilbert & Sullivan's patter songs for tongue twistedness. I've been singing along with this song for literally years in the car and my tongue still can't wrap around "a whole bolt of cloth for the tick." It stops me every. single. time!

Word you love: Strawphylactic. We first heard it on "Says You." It's a made-up word from Addictionary, that dictionary where you can add words that don't exist--but should. The definition of Strawphylactic is: noun, The little piece of paper that a server leaves on the end of a straw when a non-alcoholic drink is brought to you.

Academic subject you love: When I was in high school, I loved French and English and, for a time, I developed an unexpected love of history because we had a teacher who really made it come to life for us. Unfortunately she only lasted half a year and was replaced by someone who made us memorize dates. I hated history after that.

Hobby you love: Well, blogging, of course. It's my passion (though you may not know that from reading the content sometimes!). I also love PhotoShop and learning all I can about it, even though I don't have a lot of occasion to do lots of fancy stuff with it.

Type of baked good you love: Fresh white bread and donuts. You know that the only reason I donate blood is because I have a legitimate opportunity to eat a donut, right? Fortunately, I no longer bake bread because I ate too much of it, but there's nothing better than the smell of fresh hot bread.

Type of sky you love: I love a clear blue sky with big fluffy cumulous clouds, the kind you can lie in the grass and find bunnies hopping across the sky in. I also love the firey red sky of a spectacular sunset.

Beverage you love: As boring as it sounds, I really do like a glass of fresh ice cold water, preferable with mini ice cubes in it. No lemon slices for me. Just the plain water itself. On a hot day there is nothing better.

Vacation you love: We have never had a regular "vacation," something that we do all the time, like a favorite resort, or a favorite activity or a favorite place. Any time we can get out of town, stay in a hotel or motel, and eat all meals out in restaurants is a good vacation for me (and if an ocean view is involved, even better). Though if I had to name favorite vacations we have taken, I would include our first trip to England and Ireland, with all the kids, and my trip to Australia. The trip to Buxton with the Lamplighters for the Gilbert & Sullivan festival was also a highlight, especially because we took my mother along.

Restaurant you love: I love The Spinnaker in Sausalito. My mother and I go there periodically. It has a gorgeous view of San Francisco and the best fresh cracked dungeness crab. Second choice would be Greens in San Francisco. Greens is located in Fort Mason and has huge windows looking out on the Golden Gate bridge. It's run under the auspices of the San Francisco Zen Center and is a vegetarian restaurant. Though I'm not a vegetarian, I have never had a bad meal there and it's my favorite place to take out of town guests for lunch. (Obviously views are a big part of why I love a restaurant!)

Way of getting around that you love: I might have said by bike, but since I don't bike any more, it would have to be car. I love my Honda and have no desire to trade it in on anything newer or fancier. It's comfortable, I can play my iPod while driving and I just love it.

Room in your home (or ideal home) you love: My office. It may be a mess, but it's all my stuff and I can sit in here at the computer and play around (or work, as the case may be). If I can create a fantasy home, the room would be the turret room, surrounded by bookcases filled with books I've been meaning to read, with a big comfy place to sit in the window, overlooking the ocean.

Movie you love: How about movies other than A Star Is Born and Affair to Remember, which are my classic answers to this question. I love Dave, because I'd like to believe that it's possible for good, sincere men to actually be in the White House. I'm also a sucker for almost every movie Audrey Hepburn made -- Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Love in the Afternoon, etc.

Book you love: The last book that excited me was "Inside Inside" by James Lipton, his own autobiography and the story of Inside the Actors Studio. Surprisingly, the autobiography part was more fascinating than the fawning section about the actors who have appeared on Inside the Actors Studio. I don't know that I'd classify it as my all time favorite, but I just loved the book.

City you love: I left my heart in San Francisco. My City by the Bay. I get strength from returning to San Francisco.

Form of communication you love: I'm much more comfortable in print than in person, so the age of e-mail, for me, has been like dying and going to heaven.

Junk food you love: Fried onion rings. Or actually, fried anything. Garlic fries come in a close second.

If there is anything REMOTELY (and I do mean "Remotely") positive about the prospect of a McCain/Palin administration it is that it will give Tina Fey an endless amount of material. Here's a starter.