Friday, February 28, 2020

Lenten Roses

Hellebores are such obliging flowers...

 They bloom in winter... 


The deer don't eat them...

They spread and naturalize, producing all manner of variations...

I took these photos (fittingly) on Ash Wednesday.  The next day the flowers were covered with snow. But they'll emerge unscathed to bloom for weeks.

Thursday, February 27, 2020


When I went to vote on Tuesday, this was what I saw on the pavement as I stepped out of the car. Interesting texture and curves . . . even more so with a filter. 

But even more interesting, I suspect, is the story behind The Case of the Abandoned Underwear.

What mad passions were at work here, in the parking lot of the county offices during early voting?

Did some emotional voter, frustrated at the choices, get his knickers in a knot, his briefs in a bunch, and abandon them here?

We'll probably never know.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I Voted

I love being able to vote early.  When I got there, there was one person voting and four folks in attendance. I was happy to see a printed ballot instead of the voting machines. And I'd done my due diligence and had a little list of the folks I'd decided to vote for in those weird races like Commissioner of Agriculture.

If only I'd been passionate in favor of one of the presidential contenders. Or if I'd had a real conviction that one was most likely to defeat the Current Impeached Occupant*.  But I don't, so I voted for Warren, whose wonkiness and spirit I've long admired.

I like some better than others; none are perfect.  I don't like Bloomberg at all--partly his past history but mainly because he seems an awful lot like the guy we've got in the White House now. And I hate to think that we are going to end up with a system where only billionaires need apply. (In the past week we've gotten three mailers from Bloomberg.) 

Thomas Friedman's op-ed in the New York Times made a proposal I really liked: What if, it said, whoever is the front runner promised to choose a running mate  from their rivals and appoint all the other candidates to Cabinet and other important posts? A team of rivals and a national unity ticket with something for everyone.

It sounds like a feel-good movie from earlier times. Swelling music, rippling flags, hands of all hues clasped in unity. I've been fantasizing about this for some while -- the candidates meeting privately and deciding to put egos aside and do what's best for the country. 

Wouldn't it be loverly? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Josie Does Ballet

I have a new book. It is for learning to dance.

You press a button and it plays ballet music. Also it has pictures to show you how to dance.


The dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is my favorite.

Meema made me a wand like the Sugar Plum Fairy has.

I am showing Dolly how to point with the wand while we dance.

She wants to be a ballerina too.

I am being her partner and lifting her up.

She likes this part.  She is flying like a real fairy.

Ballet is fun.

Monday, February 24, 2020

On Sundays She Tends Her Orchids

I have eight of them on our dining table -- a location that seems to agree with them as seven of them are in bloom right now and one is covered with buds.

And every Sunday I water and fertilize them, do a search and destroy for scale (it is always lurking,) and appreciate anew their exotic beauty.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

And Speaking of Fiction and the Truth Therein ...

I picked up a novel to begin reading and, only a few pages in. was struck by the horrifying appropriateness of the following to the current situation in our country. The administration isn't rounding up the Jews, but in plain sight they are purging from the government any who value truth above loyalty to the Orange Embarrassment. They are demonizing the "Other" and there are little children, separated from their families and kept in cages. We are at a tipping point.

from The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

"It started so slowly... coming toward us like a river shifting from its banks, one centimeter at a time. One lie, then the next. Lies so big there had to be a reason to tell them. there had to be a purpose, maybe even some truth..."

". . . (He) is toying with the world...With one hand he negotiates peace; with the other he sets us on the path to war. We all see it. Right before us... And we do not look away."

"The excitement of resistance two years ago when it had seemed certain that the Fuhrer's inordinate excesses, his purges, his insanities would yield a revolt among his own ranks and knock him out of power, had been flattened into quietude by the steady, unsleeping machinery of the Reich operating in plain sight."

And here we are...

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Reading BIG, Reading small . . .

"I think that's the longest I've seen you take to read a book," said John the other day. 

I've been pecking away at this weighty (in both senses of the word) tome for weeks now. The ideas are so big that it works best for me to read a bit, usually after breakfast,  and have the rest of the day to digest what I've read before moving on to the next bite.

Well, what would you expect from a book subtitled A Brief History of Humankind? 

There's a lot of ground to cover--a hundred thousand years, give or take--during which Homo sapiens--that's us--emerged as the dominant life form, sending into oblivion the other humans such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, along with an appalling toll of animal species. 

Harari traces the path of this juggernaut Sapiens through prehistory and history, arguing that it was the evolution of imagination that allowed Sapiens to cooperate with one another, to believe in intangibles like gods, nations, and money and, ultimately human rights.

It's a fascinating look at where we've been and how we got where we are. It also provides some sobering questions about our future (as if we didn't already have enough.)

One of many books I also read, almost like a palate cleanser while I was consuming the banquet of Sapiens, was Elizabeth Gilbert's Pilgrims. A collection of excellent short stories about modern day Sapiens, each story is a microcosm of the human condition--the imagination and the capability for cooperation (for good or evil) that got us where we are today. 

I found myself thinking, as I often have, how much truth there is in fiction.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Snow Day

Kids all over western North Carolina were thrilled yesterday when snow closed the schools. And I was a bit surprised to find myself doing a little happy dance too as I cancelled my writing class.

I enjoy my classes. And this class will be made up. But somehow this cancellation felt like a little mini-vacation. 

Woo hoo!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

In Search of Meaning

On a day when the person in the White House is commuting the well-deserved sentences of a gaggle of white collar criminals, it seems reasonable to wonder about the Meaning of Justice, of Right and Wrong, of Good and Evil. 

Perhaps the young people who knocked at my door earlier, wanting to talk to me about the Bible felt they have the answers. 

But I'm pretty sure that they and their Bible-thumping ilk are part of the problem-- enablers of a corrupt regime and an evil man.

I was polite to them, nonetheless, telling them that I had read the Bible, as well as a great deal of history concerning it and the texts from which it derived and the various translations that had ensued and the errors therein.  Than you, but no thank you, I said.

I could have gone on at length but I was in the midst of house cleaning. Besides, it's useless to argue with members of a cult--be it religious or political.

And I have some more research to do on state  and local candidates so I can vote on Thursday--early voting here in NC.  Nationally, I'm torn between Warren and Klobuchar. Need to look into K's history a bit. I suspect I'm drawn to her because she's such a wholesome contrast to the Orange Embarrassment.

 I like Sanders' ideas but am concerned about his health. And I'm still of the opinion that he was the spoiler that gave Trump the win in 2016. Also, like Biden, he's another Old White Guy. If I knew who his VP choice might be . . . I like Mayor Pete but would prefer someone with more experience. 

Electability is the thing, of course. But trying to guess who would be the most electable is difficult. 

I hope it isn't Bloomberg. If it is, we might as well concede that the Presidency is for billionaires only.

But if it it is, I'll vote for him. Though I'd prefer the proverbial yellow dog . . .

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Update on Reconstruction


Work continues, somewhat slowed by lots of rain, not to mention other obligations. Justin is having fun on the exterior . . .

while continuing with the mundane block-laying on the interior.

I'm loving this look.

                            Meanwhile, cleanup continues -- 

sifting through the piles of ash and discovering sad artifacts.

For those who asked after the big hydrangea that blooms so extravagantly, I'm happy to say she's alive and apparently undaunted.

If only our beloved country can survive the current regime-- its corruption, its shredding of norms, its attack on the environment and our national parks, its irresponsible and cruel policies--as well.