Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back in my usual routine, I'm doing fine. Mostly just unpacked and did domestic chores yesterday. Stopped at Acme and ran into Marge and Fred. Made Pat a delicious dinner--I modestly declare--of pot roast, potatoes au gratin, baked apple, and pudding, of which he ate every morsel. Had lentil stew and yams myself.
Have a date to go to lunch with Mary Ann Van O. today and tomorrow evening is the rehearsal/audition for the Seaport show. Thursday, I go to Brick for a caregiver workshop, so I'm looking forward to a number of interesting events. I'm glad I'm still able to attend them.
Wider: Here's a succinct and relevant comment on our present disastrous state of affairs from somebody who uses "Writerman" as his name on Truthdig.Com:
"What is the American healthcare system really for? It isn’t primarily, as of today, designed to benefit the sick, as much as provide a massive subsidy or transfer of wealth, from ordinary Americans to the shareholders of insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms. After they get their cut, what’s left goes into patient care...In a way it’s comparable to the massively bloated military budget, what’s that for? It’s not there to defend the United States, because, after all, the United States has no real enemies anymore; the military budget, all one and half thousand billion of it, is, once again, a hidden subsidy and transfer of wealth from the taxpayer, the state, to the private sector.
This is a way of seeing through the ‘paradox’ of why on earth do we waste so much money on these things; because the waste doesn’t matter, it’s built into the system, it’s the reason behind the apparent madness..."
Straight to the heart of what ails us, it seems to me. Hope "Writerman" comments more.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Continued my respite weekend by just doing what I wanted. After a leisurely breakfast (my usual; I'm back in the routine), I impulsively went to Rider, my place of employment for 27 years, as well as my alma mater. Drove around campus, but didn't get out of the car. I was astounded to see new residence halls going up--they look like high end townhouses, which I guess is what you need to attract students--and what with the other new buildings added since I retired, the place is very impressive.
I then drove back to our old house on Lower Ferry. Passed the kids' school and other former haunts. Went to the cemetery at Ewing Presbyterian where my dear friend of so many years, Elaine, is buried.
Okay, that was enough. I headed back. Stopped at B.J.'s at the huge "Hamilton Commons" to pick up a few items and made a few other stops.
Later, I alternated reading in A.'s quiet, peaceful house and driving around her neighborhood. Sounds boring, but it wasn't--it was exactly what I needed.
Packed up and went home. Got in about 5:30 to find everything under control (I never doubted that, as A. and M. were there). Was pleased to hear dear niece, Joan, had called. A. and M. stayed for another half hour or so, then we said goodbye. Talked to darling Ellen in the evening, had my good ol' wine and popcorn, and slept like a log.
The big news, though, is that buds are popping out all over and my new pansies are thriving. That yearly miracle alone is enough to raise my spirits and, combined with my fabulous respite weekend, makes me a new woman.
I'm back and life is good.
Wider: Lest anyone thinks I've mellowed (hell, no!) here's a snippet from John Caruso, in "The Distant Ocean":

The most frightening, or maybe informative, headline I saw last week: "Bank Execs Pleased With Tone Of Meeting With Obama."
This would be something like "Mafia Bosses Pleased With Tone Of Meeting With District Attorney" or "Vampires Pleased With Tone Of Meeting With Van Helsing." Except in those cases it would be a surprise.

As ever, right on,John.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Had the best, BEST time yesterday. J., J., J., J., and T. picked me up, as arranged, about noon and we took off for Atlantic City. The boys loved the aquarium, little T. running (he hardly ever walks) from one tank to the other, pointing excitedly and yelling "Wow!" or "Ga!" at every one. His favorite, though, was the "touch a stingray" part. (The stingers are removed from the creatures.) He wasn't so much interested in touching, as splashing in the water. He got pretty wet, but had a great time. After, at my suggestion, we drove down to Margate to see Lucy, the elephant. It was closed for the winter, but we saw the outside and I promised to take young J. back in the summer. He was also impressed by the casinos we drove past--I hadn't realized he hadn't been there before. We then checked out Longport, which often has pretty spectacular waves breaking on the rocks, but yesterday was calm.
By 4:30 or so we were all hungry. Big J. remembered passing a Japanese restaurant in Absecon and suggested we stop there. We did, and what a great choice. We ate hibachi style, marveling at all the flaring flames, knife-throwing, and fancy moves of the chef, operating right in front of us. When he squirted something from a squeeze bottle right into big J.'s mouth, I thought it was water, but he did the same with me, and I discovered it was saki! The food itself was just scrumptious. I had salmon and shared off with J. and J. some shrimp and chicken. The other J. had steak and that looked wonderful, too. The rice and vegetables were great, too. I ate every crumb, myself. (The chef, little squirt, kept calling me, "Grandma," but I'll assume that's a common term of respect for him.)
Because we had eaten early, we were home before 7:00, which was perfectly fine with me. I found ice cream in the freezer, had a bowl with butterscotch topping, and followed that with a few other goodies. I know I'll be back on the straight and narrow today, so am not worried about my pigging out. After watching some wonderfully stupid television, I went to bed and slept like a log. My respite weekend has been wonderful so far, rain or not, and I have another full day to enjoy. That old song keeps running through my head: "Lucky, lucky, lucky me...!"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Here I am at A.'s, starting my respite weekend--yay! Got up here about 6:15 and I'm not even going to let the fact that it's raining lower my spirits. The kids are coming at noon and even if we can't go to the park, it will be fun to see them whatever we do.
Greatly enjoyed "Plaza Suite" (I must be losing it--can't remember if you put the title of plays in quote marks or italics) last night. Went with the D.'s and sat with other SB friends, the L.'s, the H.'s, and the G.'s. Had never seen the movie (if it was a movie) or, naturally, the Broadway presentation. It was terrific.
Didn't get home until the ungodly hour of 10:30, just as A. pulled up. M. was already there and I had my wine and popcorn (and, yes, I brought some with me) while A. had White Zinfandel. Bed very late for me and I got up a bit after 5:00, but so what? I'll sleep well tonight, I'm sure.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Slow-pokey as ever yesterday. Went to Acme--whee!--and the library. Picked up a book of short stories I had requested and read a remarkable one called A Song For Lya. I had read about this on some blog or other and was entranced by it. It's science-fiction, a genre I used to enjoy, but haven't read for years. This was published in 1973 by George R.R. Martin. Must look him up.
Wider: Here's a heartening piece from Z Magazine, an on-line mag I've just discovered:
"The following item was sent from Istanbul. The maker of the shoes that an Iraqi journalist hurled at President George W. Bush has had to take on 100 extra staff to cope with a surge in demand for his footwear. 'Between the day of the incident and 1:00 PM today, we have received orders totaling 370,000 pairs,' Istanbul-based Serkan Turk, head of sales at Baydan Shoes, told AFP...Turk said orders had initially flooded in from Iraq, followed by other Middle East countries, and finally from the rest of the world, including orders for 19,000 pairs from the United States."
YAY!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Got a call from California brother Frank and had a good talk. He and Marybeth are expecting two more grandchildren to add to the seven boys (under seven!) they already have.
Bought some pansies and planted them, delighted to realize spring is really coming. Think I'll go back and get some more. Went to two thrift stores to see if I could get a dark shawl for my monologues character, but didn't find them. Sent a e-mail SOS to several friends and, so far, got positive responses from two of them.
Talked to A., who sent me info on a caregivers' workshop sponsored by Ocean County in Bayville, and will attend on April 2. Looking forward to my respite weekend, starting tomorrow, when we exchange houses.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Still lots of not too much going on. Went to the post office, store, and stuff. Put the two wire Easter bunnies out. Pat asked me to make what we used to sometimes have for a casual dinner (as opposed to our usual ball gown/black tie affairs): baked beans on bread, topped with bacon, then broiled. Sound gross? Actually, it's not bad and Pat ate every morsel. I had lentil stew myself.
Wider: I guess I'm hopelessly naive. I saw GE's annual report, with a voting sheet for the board of directors. I was amused by the name of one nominee: Ann Fudge. Then I noticed another: Sam Nunn. Wait, wasn't he the...? Yep, the senator from Georgia and deeply, deeply involved in the congressional committees that drive the war machine. It hit me, all of a sudden, that this is what's meant by the unholy alliance between industry and government.
I don't see how ordinary people--let alone pacifists--can ever make the slightest impact on slowing, let alone stopping, the U.S. habit of slaughtering humans when we have elected officials--and I'm sure they're regularly labelled "distinguished" and "eminent"--who are crossovers to the military/industrial complex.
If that's a run-on sentence, I don't care.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not a whole heck of a lot going on. Went to the p.o. to send Vivian's Easter present, to the clubhouse to duplicate some stuff, to Rite-Aid to pick up dups of cousin Judy's pictures. Talked to sister Betty and A. Washed, folded, and put away. Sounds intensely boring, but was actually--in a very low-key way--not unpleasant.
Wider: There's an amazing post at the blog, "Winter Patriot." It expresses exactly what I would have written if I could write as well. It's the March 18 entry and here's just a tiny excerpt:
"It's a beautiful thing how we get new leaders every so often but the policies never seem to change very much. It's beautiful how Bush and Cheney take the rap for being "evil" and now Obama and Biden can do the same sorts of things without being "evil". That's the beauty of the imaginary reality, where even the anti-war reporting has a pro-war spin....party politics is nothing more than an intersquad scrimmage, an exhibition game intended to convey the impression that the two "competing teams" are adversaries.They're not. They're partners. They're working together to put on the big show every four years. And we know this is true because of what happens to prospective players who are not interested in furthering the big show, but would try to change the game. Most of them don't even get onto the field. And those who do never last very long.We've seen what the Democrats and the media did to Mike Gravel, which was exactly what the Republicans and the media did to Ron Paul. We've seen the cold silence -- or jeering derision -- which has greeted every serious attempt to uphold the rule of law, to stop the war in Iraq, to stop the war in Afghanistan, to investigate the crimes of 9/11, to reform a clearly broken electoral system, to rein in a clearly complicit national media, or even to bring just a little bit of accountability to our government. (Emphasis mine.) These were all efforts to change the game in one way or another, and no such efforts will be tolerated.This is the system. This is what it does. The time for amazement is past."
But the entire long essay must be read. It's horrible, disgusting, and infinitely sad. Here's the link:
http://winterpatriot.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Peace Vigil yesterday was quiet; I guess about 50 or 60 people participated. It was held at the Universalist Unitarian "church," in Galloway. Having been brought up in the absolutes (in my early days, anyway) of the Roman Catholic religion, the formlessness of the organization puzzles me. It seems more like a liberal social club than a religion--not that I condemn it, I just wonder about it.
Anyway, there's a piece in The Press of Atlantic City, in which I'm briefly quoted. My last word, though, should be "ploy," not "play." More important, the article completely distorts what I said. It quotes me when I mentioned several other countries, but drops the quote marks to add "looming threats." In fact, I didn't use that phrase and what I indicated is my belief that we're the threat to them. Oh, well, here here's the link anyway:
http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/179/story/436272.html
Otherwise, got a lot of things done, including wrapping Easter gifts for the two little girls in Singapore (isn't there a song like that?). Made an mportant purchase: a big cardboard Easter bunny, which I put it on the front door. It's very cute and I needed it like a hole in the head. Enjoyed Skype calls from both daughters in the evening and, all in all, had a pleasant day.
Wider: The ceremony yesterday might easily have been held on a U.S. army base. The thing that bothered me about it--and other "peace demonstrations"--was the emphasis placed on American lives, American injuries, American sacrifices. The names of New Jerseyans who died in the wars were read off, then the organizer mentioned how they "died for our country." Another woman urged participants to see the Kevin Bacon T.V. movie about escorting the corpse of a soldier killed in Iraq home for burial. She emphasized approvingly the "respect" shown to "fallen heroes."
I'm not suggesting that anything but sad remembrance be extended to the American combatants killed and maimed in this terrible misadventure--but aren't we forgetting something here? In fact, a whole lot of something? I mean the hundreds of thousands of other people, including--this must never be forgotten--innocent children who died at the hands of these "heroes." I'm afraid the absence of recognition of this dreadful truth ties in with the imperialism so warmly embraced by what seems to be most of the American people. We are the important ones, we are the chosen, we are the ones who must be memorilized. Those bodies in the corner? Just little brown people who got in the way.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Went to Santori's to stock up on veggies. In light of my puzzling three-pound weight gain, I stuck to a "green"--actually, white (cauliflower); red (beets), and orange (squash) diet all day--including for dinner.
I may have overdone it. Woke up several times through the night to, uh, jettison the veggies and whatever else was churning around in there. Slept poorly and still feel a little queasy, but somewhat better.
I'm going to gather today with other members of the Coalition for Peace and Justice to read out the names of the New Jerseyans who have been killed in Iraq. This is to mark the sixth anniversary of that war, which was actually two days ago.
Last year, we marched with banners, then read out the names on the Atlantic City boardwalk, attracting quite a bit of notice. Not sure why today's ceremony will be held at the Unitarian church, which is out in the sticks, in Galloway. On a Sunday, there will be little traffic.
Oh well, I guess the setting is symbolically fitting. Few seem to notice and fewer care to protest our crimes against humanity now that B. is out and O. is in.
But there's hope--there is! I was thrilled and overjoyed at this video from Obama released, significantally, on Friday. Please, please, please let it not be some political trick, some ruse, some nefarious plan and let it signal a true new beginning. See it here:
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/20/iran/index.html

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Got the income tax done, thank heavens. Went back to the woman who did it last year and it was pretty quick and easy. Nothing much else went on.
I'm planning to go to a gathering tomorrow to mark (I was going to write "commemorate," but that's not really accurate) the sixth anniversary of our vicious actions in Iraq. It's at noon, so the tough part is going to be arranging for Pat to be up, breakfasted, and dressed by 11:30. Maybe he'll be able to wait until I get back before dressing--we'll see.
I'll be interested in seeing how many are there. Now that the dems are ascendant, interest in our extended cruelty seems to have waned. After all, slaughtering children is different when it's done with the blessings of those with whom we identify. They don't scream as loud.
Or at least, we can't hear them as well.
Later: Went to Weight Watchers and found that--aagh!--I'm up 3.2 pounds since my last visit two weeks ago. Now weigh 132.2. I've still lost 67.4 pounds overall, but this isn't good. It's true that I overindulged last night (cookies and gum drops), but surely not to the tune of 3-plus pounds.
Ho-o-kay...will set my strategy. Won't be here next Saturday, so will weigh in on another day, maybe Tuesday and see what I can do to correct this.

Friday, March 20, 2009

An ordinary day here in southern New Jersey. Took my daily walk. Made an appointment to get the taxes done. Talked to our daughter. Made a big salad, vacuumed, and yearned for spring.
In the meantime, in my name, the slaughter goes on in Iraq and around the world. Ho-hum.
Wider: From "Dead Horse," Rob Payne's blog, about the topic last referenced above:
"Nobody is asking why about much of anything these days, I mean what the heck we got Obama, right? Obama couldn’t have come along at a worse moment in time. He continues with much of Bush’s policies but nobody seems to care. And because Obama can get away with it, because of the silence of the masses, all the evil created in the Bush years continues to roll along unhindered and unfettered by any of the baggage Bush carried in his waning years...."
For the full text: http://deadhorse1995.blogspot.com/
And this, which should be read by every person in every household in every state and region in the country. Yeah, sure.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance167.html

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finally got my glasses--yes, from B.J.''s and they even knocked $25 off the price for my time and trouble. I can now see to both read and drive, and I hope that's the end of my travails with my eyesight.
Good neighbor (I always think of Mr. Rogers) Ray and chef son, John, stopped over to chat with Pat for a few minutes, a very welcome diversion. Then Leslie stopped with some magazines and a luscious piece of cake for him, another pleasant visit. Talked to Mary Ann Van O. and set a date for lunch on the 31st. Her Bart, who has the same physical problem as Pat (emphysema) was just in the hospital, but is now home and rallying, at least to a point.
Wider: Six years on, the horrors continue. From Anti-War.com:
"...President Obama has certainly gone a long way toward supporting the notion that the war is all-but-over as well, with his talk of ending the combat operations on August 31, 2010. Yet the fine-print in the Obama Administration “pullout” plan is that 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq indefinitely past that date, and will continue to engage in combat operations."
But Congress never declared war, did it? So how could we still be in it? Of course, our current and future "enemies" are legion: Afganistan...Iran...Pakistan...Korea...China...and so on and on. Endless war seems to be not just the order of the day, but of the decade and the century, world without end.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Incredibly, the woman from B.J.'s Optical called to tell me my glasses are in! This after I got a gift card, which I intended to convert to a refund once I found my receipt. Now I'm not sure if I'm going to take them or not. On the one hand, if they're properly finished (and, in light of the initial error and long delay, I'll have to be sure of this), I'd finally have my glasses. On the other, I might want to check out other optical places to see if they'd be any cheaper. Not sure what to do now.
Other than that, nothing going on. Hardly left the house, even though it was a bright, sunny day. Did make a date to go with the D.'s next door to see "Plaza Suite" on the 27th, I'm happy to say. That's the start of my respite weekend and I'll travel up to A.'s after.

Wider: There's a remarkable essay by Chris Floyd on the romance our benighted past officials have with torture and what seems to be its calm acceptance by the new administration. It comprises the March 17 essay and here's an excerpt:

"As we all know, the Obama Administration is now fighting strenuously in court to uphold this cynical Bush strategy (and others) to cover up high crimes -- capital crimes -- by the leaders of the government. Obama has offered the excuse that he is fighting for Bush in court because he doesn't want to do anything that 'would undermine or weaken the institution of the presidency.' But how would applying the law of the land 'weaken the institution of the presidency'? Why do the president and his minions need the 'power' to commit crimes and get away with them? For make no mistake: in these court cases, this is precisely the 'power' that Obama is seeking to preserve. Why does he want that power, and the 'state secrets' get-out-of-jail-free card that goes with it? The answer seems obvious: because he wants to use that power for himself, and to pass it on to subsequent managers of the empire. For Obama is an intelligent man: he knows that the empire cannot be managed, maintained -- and expanded -- without recourse to criminal actions on a vast scale."

The entire article is essential to read, though--for those who have the stomach for it. http://www.chris-floyd.com/

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wonders never cease here in Joisey. Went to B.J.'s Optical to beg and plead for (and stomp and scream about) my glasses and the guy asked if I wanted a refund. Yes!
A coupla annoyances, though: They charged me $159 for the sunglasses, plus, because I didn't have the receipt with me, would give me only a gift card for the remaining $324,48. I now have to go back with the receipt to get cash and, of course, must start over at square one to get the glasses, six weeks later.
I hate Acme, too. Their crimes against the populace are too numerous to list here, but yesterday, I was the victim of the not unusual sleight-of-hand involving a 40 cents off coupon, a malfunctioning self-checkout, and veiled rudeness from an employee. Of course, the prices are outrageous (aren't they supposed to go down in re/depression?), and we're subjected to both horrid, intrusive television and disgusting piped-in music, whether we like it or not.
When Corporate America shows its true face, we realize it's a hydra-headed monster.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The opera, "Rigoletto," was just superb. The sets and costumes were so beautiful and sumptuous, they made it worth seeing even if Pavarotti hadn't sung the lead. Of course, if it had been a straight play, the plot would have made it laughable. As most operas seem to be, it was full of contrived situations, mistaken identities, and over-blown reactions to the treachery and tragedy that bring down the victims. It was great.
I'm amazed at myself for liking opera so much, considering I hardly knew it existed before a year or so ago. A group of us are discussing going to a Simucast(?) of an opera next year--hope I can go.
From the ridiculous to the sublime--or rather, vice versa. The other day, Pat stumbled on the T.V. show, "Toddlers And Tiaras," and I watched for a time. The program consists of following little girls (in this case, from age 2 to 6 or so) and their mothers as the children prepare for, and compete in, "beauty pageants." They all seemed to live in the southern states, so it may be a regional thing.
The time and effort--not to mention money--it takes to participate in these contests is formidable. Preparation includes buying expensive costumes, finding the right makeup, choosing the "talent" presentation, and--sometimes--bringing into line reluctant contestants. There are even "coaches" who drill the kids on songs, gestures, and demeanor, a remarkable profession I had never heard of before. The mothers, some of whom had been beauty pageant contestants themselves, seemed very determined to compete and win; some of the little girls less so.
Of course, it's easy to sneer at this idiocy. I admit I was shocked at seeing little children with full makeup, fake hair, and false eyelashes doing their best to imitate fecund women by provocative song and dance. I wonder if their mothers ever think of the pedophiles who must surely look forward to the show.
I found it mostly sad, though. How dreadful that these little girls will soon be convinced that their worth to others lies mainly in their physical attributes and ability to charm.
Then there's this: Viewers were informed that the military Daddy of one of the contestants was due to leave for Afghanistan shortly. He will stand by until called upon to help murder other little girls. Of course, this simple fact would never, in a million years, enter the consciousness of any of the adults or children on the show or, for that matter, more than a small fraction of those watching the show.
It's just as well, I guess; When truth cries out, it drowns all the pretty music and makes everybody uncomfortable. So it must be impressed on the kiddies that beauty pageants are important and great fun and Mommy might not love them if they don't do their best.
I guess they wouldn't like "Rigoletto," either.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Zipped over to Santori's to stock up on basic foodstuff: feta cheese, squash, green-leaf lettuce, and so on. Otherwise, little went on except the usual chores.
Called Ellen on the web cam AGAIN thinking it was Sunday. However, we had a nice chat and I was enthralled, as ever, to hear the various goings-on in California and the district concerning education and their blasted budget. (Hmm, sounds like Jersey.)
Susan and Walter are in A.C. for the weekend, so I'll be walking with the boys--Frank, Johnnie, and The Platters, etc.--until Tuesday.
Wider: From "Peace Action," on why we're fighting in Afghanistan:
"The main justification for starting the war in Afghanistan was that the Taliban government then in power was offering sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden. Going to war with an entire country is a poor way to capture a small mobile group living in a remote area. Bin Laden still has not been
caught. Now U.S. ally Pakistan is reported to be providing the same kind of sanctuary. A wider war with Pakistan would be even more disastrous."
But there's much more of this simply-worded, honest assessment at the site:
http://www.peace-action.org/pub/factssheets/Afghanistan_facts.pdf
It's well-worth reading and makes a lot of sense.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Got a terrific craving for lentils (could I be pregnant?) in the morning and rushed out to buy them. Made a huge pot of lentil stew in the crock pot, then assembled a salad to have for lunch, cut up zucchini, onion, and tomatoes for a casserole, and chopped apples to make applesauce. By the time Pat got up, all was bubbling or simmering on the stove, aside from the salad, which was slumbering in the fridge. A yummy day altogether.
Later, finally bought new walking shoes (read "sneakers"), plus a few other things. The big news is that I'm going to add cousin Judy's manuscript, as described yesterday, to the Domino Lane blog:
http://uncle-franks-farm.blogspot.com/
Wider: This, from Dennis Perrin, says it all about Muntadhar al-Zeidi and Bush--and "justice" in the world:
"...Throw a shoe at your country's occupier and miss -- jail. Invade another country, unleash cluster bombs and chemical weapons, torture, help incite bloody sectarian war using domestic death squads and foreign mercenaries, the death toll somewhere around a million -- retire in material comfort, guarded 'round the clock."
The SOB to whom Perrin refers, could easily have asked for leniency for his "attacker" instead of a three-year incarceration. But no, no: he said it was up to Iraq to dispense "justice." Guess the idea of sacred sovereignty didn't occur to him when he was slaughtering Iraqi children.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Our mail is always annoyingly late, but yesterday it was worth waiting for. We got a wonderful packet from P. and N. which included a Frank Sinatra DVD for Pat, a picture of P. and me, a thank-you note for their visit of last month, and a little St. Patrick's Day card.
The last two were not the usual, store-bought items, welcome though those would be. The note was in the shape of a tee-shirt--beige, with a picture of a cougar on the front, exactly like the tee shirt we gave N. when she was here. And the card opened to show a tiny shamrock behind celluloid, crocheted by N. herself. What talent she has in so many ways and how lucky we are to have her in the family! Happily, they called on Skype last night and I was able to see and talk to them. They were leaving shortly to meet Mike, who's in Tokyo again on business.
In the same mail delivery, I received a manuscript written 28 years ago by my dear cousin, Judy. It's called "The Handicapped At Home, Revised for Medical Personnel" and sets out in detail the regime followed for her care.
Judy was paralyzed at the C-5,6 level in a car accident when she was in her early twenties. She was an only child and lived at home with her parents, my Uncle Frank and his wife, Aunt Claire. Probably due to the exquisite care she received from them, aides, and their legion of friends, Judy lived to be 55, predeceasing both of them.
Judy had a master's degree in medical technology and actually taught the subject at Hahneman Hospital in Philadelphia after the accident. She also wrote a textbook, a copy of which I treasure. I visited her as often as I could and we corresponded via e-mail. I loved her dearly. The manuscript is very professional--clear, succinct, and to the point, but here and there, a little of Judy's humor shines through and that's a joy.
Wider: From Anti-War.Com and TomDispatch, by Frieda Berrigan:
"At the end of February, another huge "stimulus" package was announced but generated almost no comment, controversy, or argument. The defense industry received its own special stimulus package – news of the dollars available for the Pentagon budget in 2010; and at nearly $700 billion (when all the bits and pieces are added in), it's almost as big as the Obama economic package and sure to be a lot less effective."
She goes on in meticulous detail to outline the almost-impossible-to- comprehend size and power of the war machine, as well as the sly propaganda about it. The only gripe I have about Berrigan is that, as all writers seem to do, she falls into the fallacy of referring to the death-dealers as "the defense industry." We must remember to apply the proper nomenclature: "the child-killers and death dealers." Has a ring to it, doesn't it?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happily, I've climbed out of my slough of despond and feel much better. Virtuous me, I took my walk, but with the boys (Nat, Frank, The Platters), not Susan, following our regular route. Went to Kohl's and tried on a lot of stuff, but didn't buy a thing. Why? Because I don't need anything! It's a remarkable leap for me to realize that and act on it--rather, not act on it and leave the high-priced, mediocre goods on the shelves.
After I left, I got a call on the cell from B.J.'s, telling me my "reading glasses" were ready. These are the glasses the place is giving to placate me because it's now been more than a month since I ordered--and paid for--the regular ones, and they're still not in. Luckily, I was only a half mile away down Route 9 and went back to get them.
Well, I wasn't going to tell B.J. Optical this, but the change is really remarkable. I can actually SEE the computer screen and my book and magazine now, and see them clearly; I hadn't realized how outdated my former prescription is.
To top off my good day, my new office chair arrived, Pat was able to put it together, and I'm using it now.
Maybe the real reason for my good cheer is that on my walk, I saw yellow crocuses blooming. Now I know spring will come.
Wider: There's a remarkable--and chilling--essay at this site that purports the groundwork for fascism in the U.S. has already been laid:
http://www.rutherford.org/articles_db/commentary.asp?record_id=581

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Woke up at an unheard-of late hour of 8:15, but I feel good. Slept long and deeply after a great time at the Wellspouse dinner. Threw caution and calorie-counting to the winds and over-indulged even when I got home (peanut butter and crackers and gumdrops), but once in a while, that's okay.
A. and I went to the bank to add her to our safety deposit box. A. had to show her driver's license and funnily, the woman who waited on us remarked on her "sign" and talked about how Sagittarians are a certain type and those born under Pisces another, and so on. When we left, I realized why bankers have screwed up so much: They believe in astrology.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dr. Hottie came yesterday about 12:30. This was the first time he saw Pat out of bed, as he usually comes in the morning. Wouldn't you know, there's yet another problem: Pat has a small hernia (not in the groin, but the stomach area). However, Doc said it shouldn't be a problem unless Pat suddenly develops a sharp pain there; then I should call 911. What we thought was a growth on his eyelid, though, is gone, so it must have been a piece of fluff or something. Well, you win some and you lose some, I guess.
Shortly before Doc left, we were pleasantly surprised to have Old George stop in. I made him and Pat lunch, then left them to go to B.J.'s. I picked out a frame for the "reading" glasses they're going to give me free of charge. Ran into neighbors, the Ws. Nice people, but crepe-hangers. I don't need to be told--by implication and doleful expressions--how dismal my husband's future is; I already know that. And I sure as hell don't need to be on the receiving end of platitudes extolling my "courage" for taking care of him. Oh, well--they mean well, as the damning saying goes...
Tonight, I meet Vivian and we go to the Wellspouse dinner in Freehold--yay! You can be sure nobody's going to tell me how courageous I am or how God never gives us more than we can handle or how it's darkest before the dawn, or--aagh! Stop me before I spew more!
Wider: Speaking of doctors, Dr. Ron Paul has a thoughtful essay in Anti-War.Com entitled "Imagine An Occupied America." He illustrates what it would be like to have in the U.S.--say, a Chinese or Russian armed force, wrecking our cities and patrolling our streets. Here's a snippet:
"...why do so many Americans feel as if we have a right to a military presence in some 160 countries when we wouldn't stand for even one foreign base on our soil, for any reason? These are not embassies, mind you, these are military installations..."
Dr. Paul imagines that outraged Americans would fight back when they could--and would be called "insurgents" and "terrorists." Sound familiar?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Wider: I'm adding a separate entry after reading Chris Floyd's "Empire Burlesque." I've been puzzling for some time as to how we actually got into the war mess, foreign policy mess, and general messed-up state we're now in and, seemingly, can't get out of--all without the permission or compliance of the electorate. This explanation by Chris, of the "unholy alliances" prevailing in the world, pulled the scales off my eyes. It's brief and crystal clear and here's a taste:
"The high-living plutocrats and playboys of the Saudi ruling clan long ago made a deal with the obscurantist Wahhabi clerics of Arabia. The plutocratic playboys would get the religious cred needed to "justify" their repressive, corrupt rule, while the Wahhabis would see their narrow-minded zealotry protected and promoted by state -- and, in the last few decades, transformed into a global movement by the endless supply of petrodollars pouring into Saudi coffers from the West. As the Western-backed dictatorships and kleptocracies of Muslim lands increasingly failed to provide a decent life and basic freedoms for their peoples, the flood of Saudi oil money stepped in to fill the social and educational breach with Wahhabi schools, Wahhabi mosques, and Wahhabi doctrines. It is all very reminiscent of the deal struck between the old-line plutocrats of the Republican Party and the extremist Christian nationalists in the United States. The plutocrats get "God's" blessing -- and "God's" political shock troops and fundraising prowess - for their rapacious economic and militarist agenda, while the Christian nationalists get a slice of earthly power to help push and promote their own narrow-minded zealotry."
But it's essential to read in its entirety at:
http://www.chris-floyd.com/
Heavens! I didn't wake up until ten of 7, lazy slug-a-bed that I am, and had to rush to meet Susan for our walk. Now I'm back and I hope, will adjust to DST before the clocks turn back in the fall.
Pleasant day yesterday. Weather was overcast, but fabulously warm. After settling Pat, went to B.J.'s about 3:00. Got a few things and angrily confronted the optician about my missing glasses. It seems there was an error in the right lens and they had to be done over. Now it's been one day short of a month since I ordered them, and I'm finding it more and more difficult to see up close. What's infuriating is that they insist you pay up in full, up front. No wonder the damn economy is going down the tubes. If this is typical of B.J.'s, they have a lousy customer service attitude. I must say, however, that the woman I dealt with, Cheryl, was as apologetic, courteous, and sympathetic as she could be. It's the nameless, faceless powers-that-be who sit in their fancy boardrooms at their vast mahogany table and decide to screw the peons who pay their salaries.
(How do you really feel about B.J.'s, Rosemary?)
Anyhoo, aside from that, a nice enough day. Got new pictures of the adorable little girls in Singapore and a web call from my adorable little girl in California.
Wider: Alan Bock, at Anti-War.Com, writes about the touted "withdrawal" of American troops from Iraq, yet the vast numbers that will stay for the sake of "stability":
"It's incredibly patronizing and arrogant for U.S. officials to have the attitude that the guys who came in and wrecked the joint – the U.S. – and enhanced the regional power and potential dangerousness of the most militantly anti-American regime in the neighborhood – Iran – are the only thing that prevents a descent into chaos."
Yeah, so what else is new?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Yesterday was a roller-coaster day: Good, then bad, then worse, then better, finally a smooth ride.
It was another lovely warm day, with blue skies and the sun shining brightly. Went for our walk, then zipped up to Manahawkin for WW, and thought I'd start getting the garage cleaned up after breakfast.
But when Pat got up, we discovered he has some kind of growth on his eyelid. That may necessitate another visit to the dermatologist, then a plastic surgeon, then...well, who knows?
In addition, I had a terrific problem getting the dressing on his toe off. The stretch bandage was stuck to the gauze underneath, and that was stuck to the toenail the podiatrist had cut in half. It took scissors, a razor, soaking in salt water, and about 30 minutes to get it off. I then followed directions in wrapping it, soaking, then applying peroxide, and anti-biotic cream, with a band-aid. In the meantime, we were snarling at each other and I was about to call divorce lawyer. It was just a low ebb for both of us, I guess.
Later, things improved when A. and M. came, M. to add memory to my computer and A., as ever, to listen and suggest things that help. It's such a relief just to talk frankly with someone I love and whom I know loves me. Say what you will, there's nobody--no friend, no colleague, no confidante, as good to talk to when you're distressed, then a trusted member of your family.
Anyway, the dressing will be easy to apply now, today should be a relaxed day, and I've bounced back.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Gloriously warm, wonderfully springlike day! It must have been in the sixties, with blue skies and brilliant sun--what a treat after the clouds and cold. Hope it lasts.
The podiatrist came and actually performed surgery in the living room on Pat's right big toe. He injected Novocaine, then cut out half the toenail down the middle. I have to dress it every day for several weeks with saline solution, peroxide, and an antibiotic cream, then a gauze bandage. Never studied health care--the last thing in the world I'd ever want to do--but guess I signed up for it with those fateful words, "I do."
Wider: From an article in Harper's, "Sick In The Head; Why Americans Will Not Get The Healthcare They Need," some startling statistics:
"In 2006, Americans spent $2.1 trillion on health care—at $7,026 per person, more than any other nation—and yet we lag far behind other nations in such measures as infant mortality, life expectancy, and early detection of life-threatening illnesses."
Yet single payer healthcare is generally ignored both by the criminals in Washington and most of the mainstream media. Why? Gee, I don't want to get all cynical, but could it be because the insurance companies are against it? The present archaic and outrageously unfair "system" supports their bottom lines so nicely and anything more equitable would be "socialized medicine." So we'll continue to have one of the least efficient and poorest functioning healthcare in the developed world, aided and abetted by the criminals in Washington.
But 'twas ever thus, I suppose. Came across this gem on governments, from Sir Thomas More:
"They are a conspiracy of the rich, who, on pretence of managing the public, only pursue their private ends, and devise all the ways and arts they find out, first, that they may, without danger, preserve all that they have so aquired, and then that they may engage the poor to toil and labour for them, at as low rates as possible and oppress them as they please."
That was written 500 years ago. Hey, anybody want to argue we've been treated to "hope and change?"
Later: At WW, lost the teeny-weeny .2 (two-tenths of a pound or, I think, about 3 ounces) I had gained last week, so am back at 128.8 with 70 pounds off. I've been within my desired range of 125-130 for more than two months and although I'd prefer the lower number, I consider this perfectly okay.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call from my cousin, John. He had e-mailed me a picture of farmhouse where our Uncle Frank and his family lived years ago. It's a beautiful picture and I'm going to see if I can get it on Facebook and/or the blog "Uncle Frank's Farm." This consists of a memoir my uncle wrote about 20 years ago, about his growing up years in the early part of the twentieth century. It can be seen at http://uncle-franks-farm.blogspot.com/
Also got a call from sister Betty; other than that, slow-pokey--as ever--day. Later, though, Pat and I were awakened by a loud crash. Almost surely inside the house, it sounded as if a picture had fallen on an uncarpeted floor. But I checked both bathrooms, the kitchen, and the laundry room, and saw nothing. Will look further.
Wider: From a talk on March 4 by Justin Raimondo:
"Illusions die hard. Especially the ideological kind. When the illusion of Barack Obama, the peacemaker, is finally dispelled, we are going to wake up and find ourselves waist-deep in a war that will soon threaten to dwarf the disastrous invasion of Iraq, both in human and material cost.
We know this from what he has said he will do, and what he has already done. He's already announced he's sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total to nearly 40,000. Not that this comes as any surprise: his entire critique of the Bushian foreign policy during the campaign was that we've been fighting the wrong war: that we had to get out of Iraq so we could occupy and pacify Afghanistan, and make a proper job of it."
There's a lot more which can be read at Anti-War.Com.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Okay, I apologize, Outlook Express. You fell down on the job yesterday, but seem to have gotten over your sulk and are now functioning (but not before I had to turn to Comcast Mail).
Went to Shop-Rite yesterday while Pat slept, then to Shop 'N' Bag in the afternoon. These are the windows of time I usually have to go out.
Delightful daughter-in-law Paula called on Skype last night, as Mike had said she would. She wanted to test her office cam, as she was shortly going to be interviewing a candidate in the states. It's good news that her company is hiring; they just picked up two other American designers, also.
Wider: Here's a priceless--priceless!--video by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show:
http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=220252&title=cnbc-gives-financial-advice
It's hysterically funny, at the same time it's horrible, disgusting, and a good indication of the fury so many feel at the present debacle. As somebody else wrote, "I don't understand why these bank heads don't resign..." Because they have no shame, that's why.
Note: I deeply, deeply apologize for the commercial up front in this video. I guess there's no way to avoid the ads--they're everywhere. I do believe once you get through it, the show is well worth watching.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Again, as has happened so many times before, Outlook Express is giving me trouble. It used to refuse to send, now it refuses to receive mail. A. stopped in yesterday and helped me put a picture on Facebook, but I don't think that's the problem. I may have to revert to Comcast Mail.
A. also gave Pat a trim and mixed peroxide and baking soda to try to clean the grout in the bathroom, but had no luck. It's not too bad, but is one of those things that prey on the mind and loom large for me. Guess it should be re-grouted.
Other than that, not a whole heckuva lot went on. I was able to get to the supermarket, as we were running low on basics, such as winter squash. Didn't walk this morning, as Susan had an early appointment. Zzzz...
Wider: One of the blogs I follow, "Hugo Zoom," carries an interview program today from Australia about the American bailout. It's a downer, all right, but it rings true to me. I was especially struck by the interviewee's phrase that the action is "horrible economics and outrageous morality." Here's the link: http://hugozoom.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

We had lots of snow! I think Little Egg got about 9 inches. It's very pretty and very annoying. I must say the service cleared our walks and driveway quickly, but I didn't go out--even skipped our walk. Instead, got a lot done around the house: changed the bed, scrubbed the bathroom, did mountains of wash...
You know, I'm not sure why I record this stuff. Is it because I want everybody to know what a virtuous little wifey I am? (Now, that's pathetic.) Or because I think I'll read this over a year from now and be enthralled at my industry? (Hell, even I won't be interested.) Dunno.
I did take several pictures of the huge flock of blackbirds (grackles?) eating birdseed at Susan's and sent them to her. I think the sight of such strong black against stark white is somehow satisfying to humans--kind of a basic recognition of the principle of contrast, maybe.
Wider: Note this by Chris Hedges, from a talk that will be read at the anti-war rallies on March 19:
"The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. Lies and deception, which launched the war in the first place, are being employed by Democrats to maintain it. This is not a withdrawal. It is occupation lite. And as long as American troops are on Iraqi soil the war will grind on, the death toll on each side will continue to mount and we will remain a lightning rod for hatred and rage in the Middle East. Add to this Obama’s decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and even his most purblind supporters will have to admit the new president is as intent on maintaining American empire as the old..."
But for thinking people, it's important that the whole piece be read. See it at http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090302_its_obamas_war_now/

Monday, March 02, 2009

Had a GREAT day yesterday. I desperately needed to get away for awhile, so after getting Pat settled, drove up to A.'s at her invitation.
A., J., T., and I went to the Manasquan Environmental Center, a terrific place I'd never been before. It's not overwhelmingly large, but just the right size for an active, curious first-grader and a hyperactive 18-month-old. It includes only the flora and fauna found in its setting of the pine barrens of New Jersey, and includes several large tanks with fish at child's eye level, stuffed animals, dioramas, and lots of hands-on learning for children. There's also a charming web cam that showed an eagles' nest on the grounds and mommy and daddy eagle--live--feeding their homely little chicks, born on February 10. Large windows show beautiful vistas of the Manasquan reservoir and the surrounding woods--it's a great place and it was a wonderful day.
Got home before 6:00, in plenty of time to make Pat's dinner. I had noticed a few little flakes of snow coming down on the drive home. Hmm...they were joined by, I guess, several billion others overnight and we've got about six inches out there. Don't care, we're snug in our home and I have plenty of the basics, including a new jug of Taylor Country Red--hey, we're good for a month.
Wider: From "The Distant Ocean" blog:
"...unfortunately the participation of large numbers of mainstream Democrats in the anti-war movement is over now that there's a Democrat in the White House. So if there are protests against either the continued presence in Iraq or the renewal of the war in Afghanistan, you can count on them being far smaller than anything we saw when Bush was in power."
As I keep asking, "Where is the anti-war movement?" Sadly, I'm afraid it's curled in a cot with the Dear Leader, too blinded by love to notice the blood on his hands.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Talk about a slow pokey day. After my walk, WW, the usual chores, and I had settled Pat in, I sat on the sofa and watched television. Television! In the daytime!
Guess this signals my decline. Soon, I'll stay in my bathrobe all day and let dirty dishes pile up around me. They'll find me, stiff as a board, clutching the remote in one hand and a warm beer in the other.
Actually, I mildly enjoyed it. Pat had on "Survivor Man," which I assume means somebody is dropped off in a remote area--and so on. Guy was in the Amazon jungle and there was a full cast of ants and spiders--his dinner, as it turned out--plus he had a foot fungus. Here we go: art imitates life, as Pat has a foot fungus, a laughably minor ailment, for him, anyway.
We also watched an absorbing show about an expedition exploring the Lusitania, on its side in 300 feet of water since 1915. It's generally believed that the English government surreptitiously loaded explosives "for the war effort" on this commercial ship, thereby being directly responsible for the deaths of more than a thousand unsuspecting men, women, and children. When the Germans torpedoed it, there was a great outcry--"unprovoked," "diabolical," "let's get them back," etc.--and the incident helped fan the English war fever.
Well, thank heavens governments no longer hoodwink their citizens that way.
Talked to P. and N. on the web cam. P. assured me that the study of the Kallikak family (see yesterday's entry) is notorious for its racism, though it may be more like "classism," it seems to me.
Was delighted to have A. invite me up to be with her and the little boys today. If I can swing it and get Pat settled reasonably early, I'll go.